The Nova Scotia Legislature

The House adjourned:
October 26, 2017.

HANSARD 03/04/05-95

DEBATES AND PROCEEDINGS

Speaker: Honourable Murray Scott

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

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

Annual subscriptions available from the Office of the Speaker.

First Session

WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 19, 2005

TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE
STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS:
Justice - Public Safety: Leg. & Prog. Announcements,
Hon. M. Baker 8464
Educ.: Skilled Tradespeople Shortage - Progs.
Hon. J. Muir 8470
GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 4640, Pap Test Awareness Wk. (10/23-10/29/05) - Recognize,
Hon. A. MacIsaac 8476
Vote - Affirmative 8476
Res. 4641, Mar. Fall Fair: Organizers/Participants - Congrats.,
Hon. C. d'Entremont 8477
Vote - Affirmative 8477
Res. 4642, TCH: Lun. Waterfront - Prop. Purchase,
Hon. Rodney MacDonald 8477
Vote - Affirmative 8478
Res. 4643, NSTU Katrina Bookmark Prog. - Support,
Hon. J. Muir 8478
Vote - Affirmative 8479
Res. 4644, Beechville United Baptist Church: Heritage Status - Congrats.,
Hon. B. Barnet 8479
Vote - Affirmative 8480
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS:
No. 247, Correctional Services Act
Hon. M. Baker 8480
No. 248, Income Tax Act
Mr. D. Dexter 8480
No. 249, Enforcement of Court Orders Act
Hon. M. Baker 8481
No. 250, Motor Vehicle Act
Hon. M. Baker 8481
No. 251, Public Service Act
Hon. R. Russell 8481
No. 252, House of Assembly Act
Hon. R. Russell 8481
NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 4645, Auburn - John Steward Commun. Park Dev. Assoc. - Congrats.
Mr. D. Dexter 8482
Vote - Affirmative 8482
Res. 4646, Lawrencetown Lions Club - Anniv. (20th),
Mr. S. McNeil 8482
Vote - Affirmative 8483
Res. 4647, Nature Conservancy (Can.) - Nat. Resource: Protection - Thank,
Mr. W. Langille 8483
Vote - Affirmative 8484
Res. 4648, Health: Tamper Resistant Prescription Pads - Encourage,
Mr. K. Deveaux 8484
Res. 4649, P.C. Leadership - Candidates: Nova Scotians - Familiarize,
Mr. H. Theriault 8485
Res. 4650, Com. Serv. - Energy Rebate: Opposition Leader Info - Veracity,
Hon. R. Russell 8486
Res. 4651, Progress Ctr. For Early Intervention - Anniv. (20th),
Ms. Maureen MacDonald 8487
Vote - Affirmative 8487
Res. 4652, Educ. - Prem./Min.: Student Reps. - Meet,
Ms. D. Whalen 8488
Res. 4653, Envirohome Renovation Prog.: Crowell Const./Marsters Fam. -
Congrats., Mr. M. Parent 8488
Vote - Affirmative 8489
Res. 4654, McIntyre, Jannah - Highland Dancing Accomplishment,
Mr. C. Parker 8490
Vote - Affirmative 8491
Res. 4655, Clare Acadian Fest. - Anniv. (50th),
Mr. W. Gaudet 8491
Vote - Affirmative 8492
Res. 4656, Rewding, Terry/Westin, Joel: Topsoil Dev. - Congrats.,
Ms. J. Streatch 8492
Vote - Affirmative 8493
Res. 4657, Anna. Co. - Anniv. (400th),
Mr. S. McNeil 8493
Vote - Affirmative 8494
Res. 4658, Denny, Chad - Hockey Accomplishments,
Mr. R. MacKinnon 8494
Vote - Affirmative 8495
Res. 4659, Love Sackville: Churches/Members - Congrats.,
Mr. David Wilson (Sackville-Cobequid) 8495
Vote - Affirmative 8496
Res. 4660, Churchville Women's Institute - Anniv. (57th),
Mr. J. DeWolfe 8496
Vote - Affirmative 8496
Res. 4661, LaHave Manor - Anniv. (25th),
Hon. M. Baker (by Hon. J. Muir) 8496
Vote - Affirmative 8497
Res. 4662, Doane, Dr. J. Chalmers - Order of Can.,
Hon. J. Muir 8497
Vote - Affirmative 8498
ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS:
No. 975, Nat. Res.: ATV Task Force - Recommendations,
Mr. D. Dexter 8498
No. 976, Health - Equipment Replacement: Delay - Explain,
Mr. David Wilson (Glace Bay) 8500
No. 977, Agric. & Fish: Fishing Licences - Capital Gains Tax,
Mr. D. Dexter 8501
No. 978, Health: Fam. Practice - Qualifying Prog.,
Mr. David Wilson (Glace Bay) 8502
No. 979, Agric. & Fish: Lobster Fishermen - Assist,
Mr. C. Parker 8504
No. 980, Educ. - Pub. Sch. Fees: Cuts - Timing,
Mr. W. Estabrooks 8505
No. 981, Health: Safety-Engineered Devices - Action,
Mr. David Wilson (Glace Bay) 8506
No. 982, Com. Serv.: Income Assistance Recipients - Reduction
Explain, Mr. D. Dexter 8508
No. 983, Health Prom. - Sch. Sports: Funding Reduction - Effects,
Mr. W. Estabrooks 8509
No. 984, WCB: Chronic Pain Claims: Cost,
Mr. K. Colwell 8511
No. 985, Environ. & Lbr.: Hyatt N.S. Spring Water Co. - Assessment,
Ms. M. Raymond 8512
No. 986, Health: Middleton Nursing Home - Status,
Mr. S. McNeil 8513
No. 987, Prem. - VLTs: Illegal Machines - Prevent,
Ms. Maureen MacDonald 8515
No. 988, African N.S. Affs. - Office: Development - Speed,
Mr. K. Colwell 8516
No. 989, Nat. Res. - Tobeatic Wild. Area: ATVs - Protect,
Mr. J. MacDonell 8517
No. 990, Educ. - C.B.-Victoria Reg. Sch. Bd.: Closures - Details,
Mr. R. MacKinnon 8519
No. 991, Agric. & Fish. - Clearwater: N. Sydney Plant - Plans,
Mr. Gerald Sampson 8520
No. 992, Environ. & Lbr. - Cow Bay Lake: Water Lots - Sale
Prevent, Mr. K. Deveaux 8522
No. 993, Econ. Dev. - Weymouth Sawmill: Closure - Employees
Assist, Mr. H. Theriault 8523
No. 994, Environ. & Lbr. - Gabarus Protected Land: Usage - Details,
Mr. R. MacKinnon 8525
No. 995, Agric. & Fish.: Oil & Gas Exploration/Fisheries - Balance,
Mr. C. Parker 8526
OPPOSITION MEMBERS' BUSINESS:
PRIVATE MEMBERS' PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING:
No. 175, Needle Safety Act 8527
Mr. David Wilson (Glace Bay) 8527
Hon. Kerry Morash 8530
Mr. David Wilson (Sackville-Cobequid) 8532
Mr. S. McNeil 8535
Hon. A. MacIsaac 8538
No. 223, Nova Scotia Power Rate Application Act, 2005 8538
Mr. K. Colwell 8538
Hon. E. Fage 8540
Mr. F. Corbett 8542
Mr. Gerald Sampson 8544
Mr. W. Dooks 8546
ADJOURNMENT:
MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5):
Chester-St. Margaret's - Recognize/Support/Invest.: Gov't (N.S.) - Cont.:
Ms. J. Streatch 8547
Mr. L. Glavine 8550
Mr. W. Estabrooks 8552
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Thur., Oct. 20th at 12:00 noon 8555
NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3):
Res. 4663, Skoreyko, Stephanie - Track & Field Medal,
Hon. C. Bolivar-Getson 8556
Res. 4664, Corcoran, Cheryl: Cdn. Cystic Fibrosis Fdn. - Vol. Efforts,
Hon. C. Bolivar-Getson 8556
Res. 4665, Pentz Elem. Sch. - Physical Activity Award,
Hon. C. Bolivar-Getson 8557
Res. 4666, Bridgewater HS Girls Softball Team - Championship,
Hon. C. Bolivar-Getson 8557
Res. 4667, Stoddart, Jill & Mikaila/Participants: Bridgewater
Diabetes Walk - Thank, Hon. C. Bolivar-Getson 8558
Res. 4668, Bridgewater Bowl - More Lanes Jr. Girls Team -
Championship, Hon. C. Bolivar-Getson 8558
Res. 4669, Gray, Lawrence - Birthday (100th),
Hon. C. Bolivar-Getson 8559
Res. 4670, Lt. Gov's Medals: Lun. Co. Recipients - Congrats.,
Hon. C. Bolivar-Getson 8559
Res. 4671, Hit it for Health Golf Tournament: Vols./Participants -
Thank, Hon. C. Bolivar-Getson 8560
Res. 4672, Lapland Vol. FD: Chief/Firefighters/Vols. - Congrats.,
Hon. C. Bolivar-Getson 8560
Res. 4673, Grand View Manor: Staff/Vols. - Thank,
Mr. L. Glavine 8561
Res. 4674, Fest. Of Speed Cape Breton - Bd. Of Directors: Efforts -
Applaud, Mr. R. MacKinnon 8561
Res. 4675, Just Us! Coffee Roasters Co-op (Hantsport): Expansion -
Commend, Hon. R. Russell 8562
Res. 4676, Allen, Christopher - Chief Scout Award,
The Speaker 8562
Res. 4677, MacFarlane, Carl - Gov. Gen. Cert. of Commendation,
The Speaker 8563
Res. 4678, Laflamme, Cadet Maxine - Rifle Team Pin,
The Speaker 8563
Res. 4679, Laurie, Sara - Athletic Achievement,
The Speaker 8564
Res. 4680, McEachern, Tiffany - Soccer MVP Award,
The Speaker 8564
Res. 4681, McCulloch, Malcolm - Ryl. Bank Sponsorship Prog.,
The Speaker 8565
Res. 4682, Nweke, Father Jonathan Nweke: Guysborough Commun. -
Welcome, Mr. R. Chisholm 8565
Res. 4683, Mainland Common Rec. Ctr. Soc.: Chair/Bd. Members/Vols. -
Congrats., Hon. P. Christie 8566

[Page 8463]

HALIFAX, WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 19, 2005

Fifty-ninth General Assembly

First Session

2:00 P.M.

SPEAKER

Hon. Murray Scott

DEPUTY SPEAKERS

Mr. James DeWolfe, Mr. Charles Parker, Ms. Diana Whalen

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 Chester-St. Margaret's:

Therefore be it resolved that the government continue to recognize, support and invest in the constituency of Chester-St. Margaret's.

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

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Justice.

8463

[Page 8464]

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, I believe a copy of my statement has been circulated to the Opposition Parties. With your permission, I have an introduction.

I would like to welcome special guests to our Assembly today. From the Halifax Regional Police Service, Chief Frank Beazley, who I understand, by the way - as mentioned by the member for Pictou East - that his grandmother is from Pictou County. We're very fond of people from Pictou County. The other guest is RCMP Superintendent Reg Reeves. I would ask them both to stand and receive the welcome of the House. (Applause)

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

The honourable Minister of Justice.

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, today is about public safety. Today and later in this session I will introduce a broad range of legislative and program announcements. These announcements will further support our goal of a safer, stronger Nova Scotia and will also enhance the fair and effective administration of justice in the province.

I know each member of this House cares deeply about the needs and concerns of our constituents. Being safe and feeling safe is a very personal need and that's why our strategy will address these items.

We will invest in measures to enhance Nova Scotia's reputation as a great place to live and do business. The government believes public safety is more than a cliché. It is one of the reasons why people choose to live in Nova Scotia. It's why people want to come to Nova Scotia to retire. It's why people come to Nova Scotia to go to school and attend university. They invest in our business opportunities. In short, it is why people come to live in Nova Scotia, because if you look across North America, we have what so many others want and we plan to keep it that way. Our measures fall within provincial jurisdiction. I point that out for a reason. We cannot, by ourselves, change the Criminal Code or other federal legislation. Local policing is a municipal responsibility in Nova Scotia. We can, however, do positive things in areas where we do have jurisdiction, and encourage change in other areas we have a strong interest in.

Today, for example, we will introduce a new Correctional Services bill that will give us statutory authority for electronic monitoring of offenders. I'm very proud to say that Nova Scotia will become the first jurisdiction in this country to use GPS or satellite technology to monitor offenders under house arrest.

We'll start with a trial program this Winter. What that means is that certain offenders can be tracked to make sure they're doing what they're supposed to do and that they're where they're supposed to be, for example, at home between certain hours of the night; or we can make sure that they stay away from areas where they're not supposed to go, for example, in

[Page 8465]

a neighbourhood where an ex-spouse lives or where children are present. GPS monitoring is a very effective tool and I'm confident we'll be able to broaden its use as we gain experience with this valuable technology.

Mr. Speaker, we will also invest in further programs to deal with that small minority of high-risk youth with seemingly very little respect for the law. I will also continue to speak of Nova Scotia as we encourage Ottawa to make important changes to the Youth Criminal Justice Act and the Criminal Code with respect to dangerous driving. We have brought this issue to the national stage with the help of the Insurance Bureau of Canada, and we're not going to give up. Nova Scotians have a right to be protected from those who would steal a car. In the wrong hands, especially a teenager, perhaps with no driver training, it is really a 4,000 pound bullet, as Deputy Chief Chris McNeil of the Halifax Police Services aptly described it. I will continue to represent Nova Scotian's interests in discussions with federal Minister Cotler, and those meetings will be proceeding in November in Whitehorse.

I look forward to the findings and recommendations from the Nunn Commission, which has begun its work, to hear all the facts about the release of the youth who was later charged with the tragic death of Ms. Theresa McEvoy. Justice Nunn has indicated that his goal is to run an inquiry that is independent, thorough, open and fair. I'm advised that on October 25th there is a hearing for those who want legal standing at that inquiry. The commission is keeping the public abreast of its work by issuing news releases and posting information on its Web site at the www.Nunncommission.ca.

Mr. Speaker, on the policing front, we will help municipal police agencies with new equipment. In fact, I will join municipal chiefs of police from across Nova Scotia next week to announce details of this important investment. I can tell you that one element will further support our fight against drunk drivers. (Applause)

This afternoon we will introduce two bills that will be important to anyone who drives a car in Nova Scotia. The first is An Act to Further Discourage the Theft of Gasoline and Diesel Oil. Police and gasoline retailers reported an increase in the so-called gas and dash crimes when prices spiked following the hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico. The bill is very straightforward. It requires the Registrar of Motor Vehicles to revoke the licence of a driver convicted under the Criminal Code of Canada for stealing gasoline or diesel fuel. The driver would not be able to have his driving privileges restored for six months. This measure will provide another strong deterrent for those who may be tempted to steal fuel - especially during times of high prices. The question we need to ask is, is it worth losing a driver privilege to be able to drive to a social function for half a year to commit such a crime. The second bill also involves driver's licence.

Mr. Speaker, An Act to Assist in the Enforcement of Court Orders also requires the Registrar of Motor Vehicles to refuse to do business with anyone who is in default of a fine or cost payable to the province for a conviction under the Criminal Code or other federal

[Page 8466]

legislation. Where a fine is in default for 30 days, the Act is triggered. At that point, unless arrangements have been made to pay the fine, the driver's licence will be suspended until the fine and costs are paid. (Applause)

The government will also refuse to provide motor vehicle services such as renewals of registrations after such a point. It is important to point out that if a person is registered in a fine option program and is meeting his or her obligations under that program, Mr. Speaker, the Act does not apply to that individual. People complying with court orders are protected from the consequences - people must be accountable to pay court-ordered restitution. This legislation speaks to the fundamental principle. Citizens must respect sentences handed down by our courts. They must make restitution to the victims of crime. Government staff are now working on the administrative procedures required to make this happen. Both bills promote a respect for law. Both bills will enhance the administration of justice.

Mr. Speaker, however, there are other elements to public safety strategy which I will be pleased to share as we make individual announcements, but I wanted to give members advance notice today. I want to add that while some of these individual measures are new, our broader strategy is not. The Department of Justice has consistently displayed a leadership role within the justice system and I'm proud to say we will continue to do so. Our role as a province is to provide oversight and invest our limited resources in practical, tangible benefits to enhance public safety in Nova Scotia and that is exactly what we intend to do in partnership with the law enforcement community, community justice agencies and many other organizations.

Mr. Speaker, it's a responsibility that we take very seriously. Nova Scotians deserve to feel as safe as possible and to be as safe as possible. That is our government's agenda. That's our commitment. I look forward to hearing comments from the members opposite as we pursue this agenda on behalf of Nova Scotians. (Applause)

[2:15 p.m.]

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

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Well, Mr. Speaker, I'm glad the minister has given me 11 minutes to speak because I've got 11 minutes in which I can talk about what this government is not doing with regard to safety and public safety in Nova Scotia. Let us be clear, this minister is soft on crime and he's soft on the causes of crime.

Mr. Speaker, I'm going to point out some of those, but I want to start by saying I find it shocking that this minister would stand in this House and say that he and his department have taken a leadership role with regard to justice issues when in his own statement he starts off by saying, I have no control over police forces, that's municipal. I have no control over the Criminal Code, that's federal. It has been the same line that we have heard time after time

[Page 8467]

after time. I'm getting tired of it. The first thing this minister will do is try to pass the buck to another level of government.

Do you call that leadership, Mr. Speaker? I surely do not call that leadership. Leadership means standing up and saying, This is what we will do to ensure that Nova Scotians can feel safe in their communities. It takes more than just justice issues, it takes more than that, and I'll get to that in a minute, but I think it's very important this House and the people of Nova Scotia know the first thing this minister says when it comes to safety and justice issues is, it's not my responsibility, someone else is responsible for those things - whether it's policing, or whether it's the Criminal Code, or whether it's other matters.

I don't call that leadership, Mr. Speaker, I call that a lack of leadership. This minister has to start facing the fact that there are safety issues in Nova Scotia. There are safety issues in HRM, there are safety issues in CBRM, there are safety issues throughout this province, and this minister can stand up and give the same speech that he has given for the past three or four years, yet, the fact is, we still have safety issues in our province. Passing the buck will not cut it anymore. This speech is littered with announcements that were made before.

I used to expect the Minister of Transportation and Public Works to get up and announce that they were twinning Highway No. 101, because he did that every six months. You always remember how he used to announce the twinning of Highway No. 101? Every six months. That's done, but now we have the Minister of Justice, he's caught this kind of flu. The Minister of Justice is getting up time after time re-announcing the Nunn Commission, re-announcing other things like the equipment. I believe that equipment announcement was made (Interruptions)

Oh, yes, it was. I recall very clearly six or eight months ago this minister stood up and clearly announced that he was going to have equipment, which I actually believe might be federal money. The fact is he came up and announced six or eight months ago that he was going to provide this to police departments. So, again, he gets up in the House and announces the exact same thing one more time. I expect probably in the Spring session we'll have him stand up again and make another announcement, if he's the Minister of Justice at that time.

Mr. Speaker, I want to talk specifically about when I say he's soft on crime. I'm not sure if it actually came out in his speech, but I will table a copy of his speech because I'm going to quote from it, the one I was handed. He specifically says, in the written version anyway, he talks about the fact that under the new Corrections Act - I'm going to get into the details whenever it's introduced - the fact that this will be used for house arrest. He specifically talks about the fact where you have ex-spouses so they can't go near their loved ones. He talks about the fact where people and children are present.

[Page 8468]

As far as I'm concerned that sounds like people who are committing domestic assault, and pedophiles are going to be allowed to go out on conditional release and have a bracelet on them. Well, Mr. Speaker, these are violent crimes, these are crimes against our community, against our children and yet this minister, in this Corrections Act, is very likely opening the door - whether directly or indirectly - for the courts to continue to provide more conditional sentences. If there's one thing this province has said, we're tired of conditional sentences being abused and having people sent out with conditional sentences that clearly are causing problems in our community. Yet this minister, with this bill and in the written version of his speech, is clearly showing that he expects violent criminals to be able to be out on conditional sentence.

Mr. Speaker, what we have in this speech from the minister are small measures. He's nibbling around the edges of safety in this province. Yesterday I raised with him the issue of automatic weapons ban applications by Crown Attorneys. He doesn't respond to that in this speech. There are many other things. We have drug havens, we have centres of criminal activity, crack houses in our province, yet this minister is doing nothing to shut them down. What is being done is talking about it, and again, like on so many other issues, this government likes to talk the talk, but when it comes to actually walking the walk, they prefer to point to another level of government.

I've talked enough about why this government's soft on crime. Just as important is why this government is soft on the causes of crime. If this minister wants to call himself a leader with regard to the issue of justice, he should be calling meetings immediately with the Minister of Education, Minister of Health Promotion, Minister of Community Services. The whole government should be sitting down and talking about what they should be doing in order to be sure that we're addressing the causes of crime. These things don't happen overnight, and yet this minister likes to talk about addressing, tangentially, the small points.

Mr. Speaker, whether it's lack of recreational facilities and communities, whether it's our education system that isn't dealing people with behavioural issues, whether it's many other matters, whether it's the Mental Health Act that we're going to have sending people out on community treatment orders without the services they require. It's all these things that are causes of crime and this minister and this government refuses to deal with them and that's the problem with this speech. That's the problem with this minister. That's the problem with this government. They're soft on crime. They're soft on the causes of crime. (Applause)

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

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. I'd like to thank the minister for the advance copy of his Ministerial Statement today. On behalf of our Leader, Francis MacKenzie and our Justice Critic Michel Samson, I'm responding to this today. I can tell you that I don't know why this is even here today, except to trespass on the

[Page 8469]

time of the Opposition today during Opposition Day. The minister held a bill briefing in the Red Room today, he's got two bills coming before the House on this matter today, which both of them will be debated in the course of time here, and he has some energetic support over there. It's sounds to me like this is just a kick off to the leadership campaign over here today and using the justice system to do it. (Interruptions)

I think, Mr. Speaker, I am not going to take 11 minutes to give my response to this because it is trespassing on the time of the House. There was no need of this Ministerial Statement to come here this afternoon. The only reason it's here is to slow down the progress of the House today. The media is already aware of what is in these bills, they've had a scrum with that minister before and the bills are going to be adequately debated during the House. So this, in essence, is a waste of time and nothing more than to puff up the Minister of Justice in his own department here today.

Mr. Speaker, this is another half measure of this government, like so many other measures. Everything is projected out. Everything is a half measure. For example, are the resources going to be put in place to make sure that this legislation actually works? We haven't seen any indication that this government is prepared to do that. The minister does not take any responsibility for municipal policing as was previously pointed out by the House Leader of the NDP. I say to the minister that if you're going to put meat on the bones of some of this legislation the first people they have to talk to are the police on the streets in the municipalities of this province, and that has to be done before anything else is done. (Applause)

I don't think it's appropriate for the minister to say, I'm not responsible for this, or I'm not responsible for that. This is the Justice Minister of the Province of Nova Scotia, Mr. Speaker, and he is responsible for the administration of justice in this province. I hope that these measures work. I hope that they give some support to those who are concerned about the people on the streets who have been convicted in the courts in regard to ankle bracelet legislation. At least we know where they are at all times, but is it going to work? It can't work without resources. It's no good to show us a picture of an ankle bracelet unless we have the people put in place to do the jobs, and unless we give municipal police forces the additional resources needed to carry out their role in the justice system of Nova Scotia.

I would hope that as we go through the House with this particular bill that we actually receive some input from stakeholders in this province, including municipal police, who might want to come to the Law Amendments Committee and tell the minister that if he's going to have a bill like this go through the House, there should be some meat on the bones. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Education.

[Page 8470]

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I rise in the House today on a matter of growing interest to members of the House and the people who we represent. I would like to speak for a few moments about the growing shortage of skilled tradespeople in our province and across the country and to inform Nova Scotians about some of our initiatives to meet this challenge.

It is predicted that by 2007, one-third of the jobs in Canada will require a skill, trade or college diploma. That represents about 20,000 unfilled jobs and that number is set to grow to 50,000 by 2010.

When Canada's Premiers and three territorial Leaders met in Banff in August, they renewed their commitment to work with the federal government to ensure training and post-secondary education systems are able to meet new economic challenges and the accompanying demand for skilled workers.

I joined other Atlantic Education, Finance and Labour Market Ministers and our colleagues from across Canada earlier this month to work on a strategy to respond to these new opportunities at a summit of the Council of the Federation, chaired by Premiers Charest and McGuinty.

We want to be sure all Nova Scotians have the skills for the jobs they want to do and need to be done. While Nova Scotia is the leading province in Canada in terms of the percentage of its populations with post-secondary training, we need more of our young people to consider and then engage in becoming skilled tradespeople.

Last Spring we introduced our new education plan called, Learning for Life II: Brighter Futures Together. As part of that plan, we acknowledge that the conventional classroom environment is not the educational answer for some high school students. These students can become disengaged and their full potential is often untapped.

We recognize that these students can benefit from linking their learning more directly to the work environment. So we created Options and Opportunities, or more commonly known now as O2, a program that targets students for whom the conventional classroom does not provide the desired stimulus for learning.

O2 provides students with a separate program of learning that focuses more on work experience and building skills related to the students' career of interest, along with academic pursuits.

The result is that O2 students will finish high school. In many cases they are encouraged to pursue further studies at the Nova Scotia Community College, or they will begin to work immediately after graduation. Many of these students will choose a skilled trade for their future career and their O2 work experience will earn them hours toward their apprenticeship.

[Page 8471]

To date, Auburn High School in Cole Harbour is piloting the program, and other schools across the province are currently developing their own models to roll out over the next few years.

For those young Nova Scotians looking at careers in the designated trades, we are launching a youth apprenticeship strategy to help them get involved in trades training early.

High school students can work part time to build hours toward their apprenticeship status, while attending school and finishing their high school diploma.

Out of school youth can begin working toward their apprenticeship while taking refresher courses in the academic subjects they need for their career. Wherever possible, these young people receive the support needed for them to complete their high school diploma during their apprenticeship training.

[2:30 p.m.]

To encourage more young people to consider designated trades, we're actively working with guidance counsellors and teachers, as well as parents and community organizations to provide more information on all careers, including the trades, as well as job openings in Nova Scotia's labour market. This Fall, we will launch an improved Career Options Web site that includes complete information on 315 occupations and pathways on how to get to these careers.

To encourage more Nova Scotians to enter the 55 designated trades, we're making the apprenticeship system more accessible by increasing training schedules and making regulations more flexible. We're also planning to introduce a Blue Seal endorsement that will recognize tradespeople who have undertaken additional training in supervisory and management skills related to their field.

Apprentices must demonstrate that they have completed high school, or that they have the essential skills necessary for their chosen trade. We assess those without a diploma, and encourage and support them to upgrade their academic skills and ultimately to complete their diploma before they receive their certification.

Mr. Speaker, our efforts to meet the demands for skilled tradespeople are producing results. Every year for the last five years there have been more than 4,000 active apprentices in the system. In the same five-year time period, around 11,000 certificates of qualification have been issued or renewed to journey persons trained in Nova Scotia. Several years ago, our government invested $123 million to expand and renew NSCC's campuses and provide more college seats across the province. That investment continues to pay off, and indeed the Nova Scotia Community College, this year, has reported a 5.7 per cent increase in enrolment from last year - and that is about double their initial predictions.

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Mr. Speaker, by providing more education options and career training possibilities for students, we're working to ensure that more of our graduates stay and work here in Nova Scotia to address this province's skills shortages and to develop its economy. (Applause)

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

MR. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, I rise in the House today to commend the efforts of the Department of Education and this minister, through its Apprenticeship Training Division, and the Nova Scotia Community College, on their efforts to broaden learning opportunities in the skill trades for young Nova Scotians. From Yarmouth to North Sydney we are aware of course - from Sable Island to Amherst - of the necessity that we have real need for tradespeople, tradespeople who are willing to get their hands dirty, tradespeople who are willing to go out there and do a hard day's work and not necessarily have to have the shirt and tie on, that came from computer technology - what we're all told as teachers all these young people must know all about if they're going to succeed in Nova Scotia.

As many of you already know, these programs are similar in scope, and hopefully will resemble the success to those that existed before the Nova Scotia Community College was recreated out of our old - and I use that term with endearment - vocational school system in 1988. My question, of course, is, are we reinventing the wheel? Teachers have said for years that what we need are hands-on programs for young people who are frustrated with the traditional school system. So I know that teachers will receive this announcement with a sigh of relief, and they'll follow it up with, what took you so long?

I had the pleasure last year to attend the conference at CEC - one of the best high schools in Nova Scotia - and I want you to know that at Cobequid Education Centre that day, one of the most widely attended workshops was on the 02. For members opposite, it's 02-appropriate because it breathes life into the old school system that we, of course, treasured as schoolteachers, the vocational system, the trade system, the system that recognized the fact that young men and young women who are frustrated, for various reasons, academically have the opportunity to take that stream - heaven forbid we use that word - it seems to me I heard the words, a separate system, a separate stream, and I see my learned friend, the member for Hants East, looking happy with a smile on his face as we reinvent the wheel in the school system in Nova Scotia, and now he nods his agreement.

Over the years teachers, parents and students have looked to the government for leadership in creating more learning opportunities in the skilled trades, and it looks like it has finally arrived. I compliment you on that, Mr. Minister. I'm particularly interested in the success of the pilot program at Auburn High School, an appropriate school with appropriate staff who show the initiative and the innovation to be able to make this particular pilot work. I also want to recognize the blue seal endorsement. Now, I would feel a lot more important and I think we would receive it a lot better if it had the orange seal of endorsement, or maybe

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the black and gold seal of endorsement. Considering what happened last night, let's just go with the gold seal of endorsement.

I want the minister, in particular, to recognize the fact, and his staff to know, that that seal of endorsement, blue although it might be at this stage - an amendment might be forthcoming sometime in the future - will recognize the fact that these are people currently involved in the various trades who are looking at improving themselves, and that is a really progressive step.

There's no doubt in my mind that students who enter the program will find satisfying work in their field. They'll do something that they truly love. They'll stay in Nova Scotia. They'll continue to make a huge contribution and, unlike some of the young men whom I know in my community, in particular, who live just up the road from me, who could not get into the particular trade program here, they are off in Alberta taking that course as I speak. These two young men and their accomplished fine tradesman carpenter father wanted to have the opportunity in this province, but it just wasn't there.

So let me tell you, many of the men whom I know, and women, of course, in the trades also, I can recognize the fact that Ken Reid, a good local friend of mine. will no longer be looking for apprentices. Mike Boutilier will no longer be looking for apprentices. Daniel and Rennie Smith, in their trade, will have the opportunity now to work with young men and young women who have a bright future ahead of them because of this program.

While we're seeing success in this field, we still have a ways to go. It's time to expand the program to students across the province, based upon the experiments out in Cole Harbour, but especially in rural communities. When I attended the conference at CEC, I want you to know there were school board members from across the province there, and they made the point - those school board members and those parents - we don't need it all centralized in Halifax; we need it out in rural Nova Scotia. We need it in areas such as Springhill, in Yarmouth, where this particular apprenticeship program will be well received.

So I compliment the minister and his staff. I look forward to the success of the program, and I know that many young Nova Scotians and teachers across this province will receive this announcement with a great deal of enjoyment.

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

MS. DIANA WHALEN: Mr. Speaker, I'm pleased to have the opportunity today to respond to the ministerial statement concerning skilled jobs and the need for more opportunity for young people in our province. I certainly believe that all of us here in the House today know the importance of our skilled trades. They're important to our economy and very much to the importance of our Nova Scotia Community College campuses across

[Page 8474]

the province. They're essential parts of our economy and are key to spawning our continued economic growth.

In the community of Clayton Park alone, and other communities around Nova Scotia, in Hants and other areas, where the growth is dramatic, we see it particularly in the skilled construction trades where there is a shortage of people and an inability sometimes for those projects to proceed on time. I know that that's one industry sector which has been particularly vocal in urging the government to do more and to respond to these needs. We also have to remember today that it's very important to note that the previous Liberal Government was responsible for improving our community college system. The current community college was founded, as was mentioned earlier, on a vocational training model that was both antiquated and outdated.

Following fundamental changes brought forward by the Liberal Government, we now have a system that is renowned throughout this country for the tremendous stride it has taken. That being said, we also have a tremendous anomaly in our post-secondary training in Nova Scotia. We have what is essentially the reverse of other provinces in the country. We have the highest participation rate in universities and one of the very lowest in our community colleges, and that's probably also a big part of the shortage that we have in our skilled trades.

It's interesting to note that almost 20 per cent of the people attending some programs in community college, have university degrees already. In fact, they're being streamed first into universities, probably because of the strength and historic soundness of our university system. It is a tribute to the universities. However, on the reverse side, our community colleges have suffered and a lot of students have gone through university and realized that they would, in fact, be better suited to some other skills and have gone back to take training at our community colleges.

So I think that is a very important thing to note that the province here has an anomaly. It's something we have to deal with and that began in the 1990s, with a strong move toward a community college system that we have now. I think that that's something we can be pleased about. It's very positive to see their enrolment increasing, as the minister had mentioned, increasing this year by over five per cent in Nova Scotia Community College and to see the increased capacity at the campuses across the province. I think that's important.

There are many job openings in our labour market for skilled trades workers and we need to train more young people to fill these jobs. Without increased enrolment numbers, we will continue to be unable to meet the demand within the job market. We know the numbers. In Nova Scotia we'll be facing up to 50,000 skill worker shortage in only a few short years. In the minister's statement he talked about partners. He talked about parents, community organizations, guidance counsellors and teachers. I'd like to ask today if the minister would also include there the business community, the industry associations, and those people who are most in need of skilled workers. They need to be partners in this process. They're going

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to be instrumental in ensuring that there are jobs and that the job market has been accurately analyzed and understood as we do this training. So I think you have to include those people as well in your partners.

Where the business community is concerned, I also think it's very important that we have safeguards that the young people who are learning trades and are being supported and encouraged through these special initiatives, have some greater incentives to stay here in Nova Scotia. I think, as was mentioned earlier, there are tremendous job needs as well across the country. Alberta is most notable in absorbing a great number of our skilled Canadians. Here in Nova Scotia our needs are great and we would like to urge the minister to keep that in mind and to work on that aspect as well.

I'm quite disappointed that this government has not played a more active role to encourage our youth to enter into the trades and to go to our community college system. I believe the shortage of skilled trades is a direct result of this government's failure to provide alternatives. The pilot project at Auburn High called Options and Opportunities, does hold a great deal of promise and I had the opportunity to be at the announcement of Learning for Life - I think it is - where they showed a presentation of the students, the kinds of jobs they were engaged in and it was clear the excitement and the connection that was made between the work force and young people and I think that's very positive. But what we need are many more students who have that opportunity to access real options, and this will be a saving grace for many young people.

We currently have up to 15 per cent of our young people not graduating from university and in a province that has a population decline and has many jobs that need filling, we cannot afford to lose 15 per cent of our graduates. So any programs, any initiatives that try to reconnect these young people into the workforce and into skilled trades where they can earn a decent living and make their life here in Nova Scotia, we are certainly in favour of.

This government has implemented many programs in the past claiming that they will solve the problem of low enrolments in trades, but at this point, Mr. Speaker, forgive me if I'm a little skeptical of the minister's statement of commitment for the skilled trade students. History is certainly the best teacher, and this government has been negligent in addressing the issue of post-secondary education. We shall see if the measures announced today go far enough to meet the coming job crisis. Thank you. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Education on an introduction.

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I neglected, when I began on my speech, there is a person with us in the east gallery today, who plays a leading role in how Nova Scotia is dealing with the skilled trade shortages and developing programs and partnerships which have been referred to and it's Stuart Gourley. He doesn't often come to the House, obviously. Stuart would you just stand up and receive the welcome of the House. (Applause)

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[2:45 p.m.]

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Health.

RESOLUTION NO. 4640

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

Whereas cervical cancer is a serious disease that can afflict women of any age, race or culture; and

Whereas in Nova Scotia alone, almost 60 new cases are diagnosed each year; and

Whereas regular Pap tests can prevent 90 per cent of deaths from cervical cancer;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House take the opportunity to recognize October 23rd to 29th as Pap Test Awareness Week and thank those organizations and individuals who are committed to creating awareness around the importance of regular Pap tests.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries.

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RESOLUTION NO. 4641

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

Whereas we recently celebrated the 6th Annual Maritime Fall Fair; and

Whereas through this fair and its predecessor, the Atlantic Winter Fair, it has been hosting this major agricultural event for over 40 years; and

Whereas the Maritime Fall Fair is visited by thousands of people every year who learn about the agriculture and food industry and its importance to our everyday lives;

Therefore be it resolved this House congratulate the organizers and participants on another successful Maritime Fall Fair.

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. 4642

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

Whereas Lunenburg is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and its waterfront buildings and wharves represent the rich history and culture of the town's shipbuilding and fishing industries; and

Whereas Lunenburg is an international tourism destination and its historic waterfront is home to the Fisheries Museum of the Atlantic, the Bluenose II and numerous tourism operators; and

[Page 8478]

Whereas the Nova Scotia Government, as part of its commitment to heritage, culture and the future of the province's tourism industry, purchased a block of 17 waterfront properties in Lunenburg to prevent losing the unique historic structures and businesses;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize that with these properties now secure, the future development rests with those devoted to preserving, protecting and promoting the world-renowned Lunenburg waterfront.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Education.

RESOLUTION NO. 4643

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

Whereas Hurricane Katrina has wreaked tremendous havoc upon the public education system in the U.S. Gulf States, destroying hundreds of public schools and college campuses; and

Whereas almost 250,000 public school and 75,000 college and university students have lost valuable class time because of the storm; and

Whereas some schools in the hardest hit areas of the Gulf Coast will not reopen for another year, leaving thousands of students without an education and teachers jobless;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate and support the Nova Scotia Teachers Union's Katrina Bookmark Project in aid of students and teachers in the hurricane stricken areas.

[Page 8479]

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 African Nova Scotian Affairs.

RESOLUTION NO. 4644

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

Whereas last night, Halifax Regional Council passed a motion granting heritage status to the Beechville United Baptist Church and cemetery, a church founded by many former slaves from the southern United States; and

Whereas having been granted the heritage status, the church and the cemetery enjoy greater protection, allowing residents some relief as the issue has weighed heavy on the minds of many residents, especially the seniors within the community; and

Whereas the area residents have fought a long, hard battle to protect the focal point of their community, a place where they gather to worship;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House join me in congratulating the residents of Beechville for all their hard work in achieving heritage status for the Beechville United Church and wish them luck in trying to achieve a traditional baptismal path connecting the church to the nearby lake for religious purposes.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 8480]

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. 247 - Entitled an Act Respecting the Provision of Correctional Services. (Hon. Michael Baker)

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

The honourable Leader of the Opposition on an introduction.

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, I would like to begin by introducing, in the west gallery, some people who have joined us here today. Sterling Belliveau, is a lobster fisherman, the Warden of the Municipality of Barrington and also the NDP candidate in the next election, whenever that might be called. With him is Clarrie MacKinnon, who has a long-time interest in fisheries issues and who is the candidate in Pictou East in the next election, whenever that will be called. Along with these two folks is Brad Symonds from Cape Sable Island, and also Victor Wolfe from Sable River, who is also the chairman of the Shelburne County Competitive Fishermen's Association.

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

Bill No. 248 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 217 of the Revised Statues of 1989. The Income Tax Act. (Mr. Darrell Dexter)

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

The honourable member for Glace Bay on an introduction.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Glace Bay): Mr. Speaker, I'd like members of the House to join me in welcoming, in the west gallery, today, and there are quite a few there, so I won't do individual introductions. They are all members of the Service Employees International Union, Local 902 and other supporters of Bill No. 175, the Needle Safety Act, who are here today to witness, hopefully, an idea whose time has come in Nova Scotia. Would the members please welcome them. (Applause)

[Page 8481]

MR. SPEAKER: We certainly welcome these special guests to the gallery as well.

The honourable member for Dartmouth East on an introduction.

MS. JOAN MASSEY: Mr. Speaker, I would like to introduce Bob Venus, who is in the Speaker's Gallery. He is from Dartmouth East, and he has been a fantastic advocate for people who are receiving home care in Nova Scotia. He continues to do everything he can to help all those people who do need our help. We hope he enjoys the proceedings today. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: We welcome the gentleman in the gallery.

Bill No. 249 - Entitled an Act to Assist in the Enforcement of Court Orders. (Hon. Michael Baker)

Bill No. 250 - Entitled an Act to Further Discourage the Theft of Gasoline and Diesel Oil. (Hon. Michael Baker)

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

The honourable member for Hants East on an introduction.

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, to you and to all members of the House, I want to introduce former Mayor of Canso, Mr. Frank Fraser in the west gallery. I believe he makes his home in the HRM now. Please give him a warm welcome. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: We welcome Mr. Fraser to the gallery today. Thank you.

Bill No. 251 - Entitled An Act to Amend Chapter 376 of the Revised Statutes of 1989. The Public Service Act. (Hon. Ronald Russell)

Bill No. 252 - Entitled An Act to Amend Chapter 1 (1992 Supplement) of the Revised Statutes of 1989. The House of Assembly Act. (Hon. Ronald Russell)

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

NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

[Page 8482]

RESOLUTION NO. 4645

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

Whereas the residents of Auburn Drive, in Cole Harbour, formed a committee over a year ago to spearhead efforts to utilize neglected green land space in their community; and

Whereas the committee known as the Auburn-John Stewart Community Park Development Association came up with a plan, received some funds from HRM and began work to beautify the area by developing a much-needed park to serve the young and the not-so-young residents in the area; and

Whereas residents can now be proud of their hard work and persistence, as the park area has been levelled and ready for walking paths, sitting and relaxing areas, bicycle paths for the toddlers and older children, and a street pad so children have a safe place to play hockey and basketball;

Therefore be it resolved that the House of Assembly congratulate the Auburn-John Stewart Community Park Development Association Chairman Kathleen Leadon, and Secretary-Treasurer Neal McGovern for their proactive measures and persistent efforts to enhance the quality of life for the youth, and for all residents of the Auburn Drive area.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Annapolis.

RESOLUTION NO. 4646

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

[Page 8483]

Whereas the Lawrencetown Lions Club is celebrating 20 years of responding to the needs of the residents of their community service; and

Whereas members put in many volunteer hours helping senior citizens, supplying wheelchairs, crutches and walkers as a community service; and

Whereas the club, whose motto is "To serve our community while enjoying fellowship and fostering Lionism", takes an active interest in the civic, cultural, social and moral welfare of the community;

Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia Legislature acknowledge the hard work and dedication of the Lawrencetown Lions Club for the betterment of their community, and extend congratulations on their 20th Anniversary 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 Colchester North.

RESOLUTION NO. 4647

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

Whereas the Nature Conservancy of Canada, announced on June 29th, the successful close of its $10 million Campaign for Conservation in the Atlantic Region; and

Whereas during the campaign the conservancy has been able to protect more than 5,620 hectares of ecologically-significant land in co-operation with Atlantic landowners - three of those properties at Economy Point, totalling 27.5 hectares; and

Whereas the Nature Conservancy of Canada is a non-profit, non-advocacy organization that takes a quiet, businesslike approach to land conservation and the

[Page 8484]

preservation of biological diversity in partnership with individuals, corporations, community groups, conservation organizations, and government;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House thank the Nature Conservancy of Canada and the Atlantic landowners in helping to conserve and protect our natural resources, and for securing 27.5 hectares of land at Economy Point.

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.

[3:00 p.m.]

The honourable member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage.

RESOLUTION NO. 4648

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

Whereas Nova Scotia needs a multi-faceted approach to dealing with prescription drug abuse; and

Whereas a major source of prescription drug-based crimes is from the theft and use of prescription pads; and

Whereas the technology currently exists to create secure, tamper-resistant prescription pads that cannot be fraudulently used to access prescription drugs;

Therefore be it resolved that this House encourage the Department of Health to recognize the benefits of tamper-resistant prescription pads and make every effort to make them available in Nova Scotia as one component in our fight against prescription drug abuse.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 8485]

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Digby-Annapolis.

RESOLUTION NO. 4649

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

Whereas the retirement of John Hamm has potentially left a place at the top of the Tory rung for one of the honourable members or ministers opposite; and

Whereas Nova Scotia is coming out of what many would proclaim as the worst tourism season in over two decades, businesses hanging on by their fingernails, people frantically seeking enough weeks for EI, all struggling to survive on very little; and

Whereas the increase in energy costs will translate into a very cold, desperate and cranky electorate at winter's end, who will then be greeted by a Nova Scotia Spring that will be filled with frost heaves, potholes and mud, due to chronic inattention;

Therefore be it resolved that anyone seeking leadership become familiar with the real needs of Nova Scotians and not follow in the footsteps of the current administration.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable Deputy Premier.

[Page 8486]

RESOLUTION NO. 4650

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

Whereas certain information being spread yesterday by the Leader of the Opposition and appearing as a headline in The Halifax Daily News this morning, is totally incorrect; and

Whereas the Leader of the Opposition was supplied with information from the Department of Community Services clearly showing that no energy rebate funding was being clawed back; and

Whereas despite having this information, the Leader of the Opposition took his traditional viewpoint in attempting to convince Nova Scotians that government is giving with one hand and taking away with the other; (Interruptions)

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

The honourable Deputy Premier has the floor on the "Therefore be it resolved."

MR. RUSSELL: Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House admonish the Leader of the Opposition for his fear mongering, while reassuring all rebate recipients that their energy rebate cheque belongs to them, and the government will not be clawing it back. (Applause)

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Glace Bay on an introduction.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Glace Bay): Mr. Speaker, it's my pleasure to direct the attention of the members to the west gallery today where we're joined by Dr. Farhad Bakezedah, a family physician and member of the Association of International Physicians and Surgeons in Nova Scotia. I would ask the members to please welcome Dr. Bakezedah to the House proceedings today. (Applause)

[Page 8487]

MR. SPEAKER: We welcome our special guest to the gallery and hope he enjoys the proceedings.

The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

RESOLUTION NO. 4651

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

Whereas the Progress Centre for Early Intervention offers a range of programs, including home visits, preschool outreach, and in-centre programs, for families who have infants and young children between birth and six years of age with developmental delays; and

Whereas the Progress Centre has provided valuable and much needed assistance and support to many families and children since its founding in 1985; and

Whereas the Progress Centre will celebrate its 20th Anniversary on Thursday, October 27, 2005;

Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia Legislature thank the staff and supporters of the Progress Centre for Early Intervention for their 20 years of dedication to the needs of children with developmental delays and their families and extend our best wishes for the future.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Halifax Clayton Park.

[Page 8488]

RESOLUTION NO. 4652

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

Whereas the federal government this Spring passed Bill C-48 in Parliament allocating funds to the provinces for the purposes of post-secondary education; and

Whereas during a Human Resources Committee meeting this Summer, a motion was passed by all members of the all-Party Committee, stating this government must involve student representatives in discussions for the allocation of the federal funding prescribed in Bill C-48; and

Whereas the only effort from this Conservative Government as of today, was to tack the issue on to a long list of subjects discussed at a routine meeting between the student association representatives and the Deputy Minister of Education;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House encourage the Premier and the Minister of Education to meet with the student representatives to discuss funding for university institutions and specifically to hold discussions for the allocation of funding under Bill C-48.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Kings North.

RESOLUTION NO. 4653

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

Whereas Crowell Construction in Kentville took energy conservation to a new level with their first Envirohome 2004 renovation project; and . . .

[Page 8489]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. We can't hear the honourable member, would he speak up please.

MR. PARENT: Whereas the project, demonstrated through renovations to a 20-year-old bungalow home, shows how to use affordable and available technology to improve occupant living standards in the areas of health, accessibility and comfort, while at the same time being respectful to environmental concerns; and

Whereas the renovated home will save the owners thousands of dollars, and will help the environment through the use of renewable energy, both active solar and geothermal, using 50 per cent less energy;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Crowell Construction and homeowners David and Ann Marsters on their Envirohome 2004 Renovation project.

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.

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

Whereas in 1904, the Isle of Man was chosen as a venue for the Gordon Bennett Motor Car Racing trials, including motorcycles, with an amendment to the Manx Road Closing Act and in 1999, no fewer than 20 countries had competitors creating an international event; and

Whereas the inaugural Cape Breton Festival of Speed in association with the Isle of Man TT, Tourist Trophy, will be held from September 20 to 24, 2006, featuring a classic motorcycle road race, a 52.3-kilometre circuit beginning and ending on the Louisbourg highway, passing through the communities along that route, that is, Port Morien, Birch Grove

[Page 8490]

Morrison Road, Hornes Road, Mira Gut, Round Island and Homeville, within the constituency of Cape Breton West; and

Whereas the world class motor sports festival, combined with supporting events that include car shows and contours d'elegance will also highlight the beauty of Cape Breton Island and an opportunity to bring new visitors and investments to our infrastructure, generating $1.5 million in direct investment with an estimated impact of $6 million;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House applaud the efforts of Festival of Speed Cape Breton Board of Directors . . .

MR. SPEAKER: The resolution is quite long, I ask the honourable member to shorten it up and read it a later time. Thank you.

The honourable member for Hants East on an introduction.

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, and thank you to the members of the House. I have the pleasure to be able to introduce somebody from my constituency, which doesn't happen very often. In your gallery is Mr. Willie Versteeg. He's a successful dairy farmer from Hardwood Lands in my constituency and Mr. Versteeg is active in a variety of farmers organizations and a strong voice for farmers in this province and I'd like the members of the House to give him a warm welcome. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: I certainly welcome our guest to the gallery and I hope he enjoys the proceedings.

The honourable member for Pictou West.

RESOLUTION NO. 4654

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

Whereas Jannah McIntyre of Sundridge, Pictou County at the age of 13, is a three-time Nova Scotia Highland Dancing champion; and

Whereas Jannah recently travelled to Dunoon, Scotland to participate in the Scottish Championship and won four medals, including one gold and placed well while at the World Juvenile Championship also; and

Whereas Jannah who has been dancing since the age of four is a student of the Holly MacDonald School of Dance;

[Page 8491]

Therefore be it resolved that this Nova Scotia Legislature congratulate Jannah McIntyre for her skills, dedication and accomplishments as a highland dancer, and commend her for being a fine ambassador for Nova Scotia in her sport.

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. 4655

Monsieur le président, par la présente, j'avise que je proposerai à une date ultérieure, l'adoption de la résolution, suivante:

Attendu que le Festival acadien de Clare est une célébration annuelle d'une partie intégrante du patrimoine historique et culturel de notre province; et

Attendu que nous célébrons le 50ièm anniversaire du Festival acadien; et

Attendu que nombreux bénévoles s'engagent à chaque année pour assurer l'organisation et le bon déroulement du festival;

Qu'il soit résolu que cette assemblée se joignent à moi pour féliciter et remercier les organisateurs et les participants du 50ièm Festival acadien de Clare.

Monsieur le président, je propose l'adoption de cette résolution sans préavis et sans débats.

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

Whereas the Clare Acadian Festival is an annual celebration of an important social fabric of our cultural heritage in Nova Scotia; and

[Page 8492]

Whereas this year is the 50th Anniversary of the Clare Acadian Festival; and

Whereas dedicated volunteers are engaged in the organization of the festival every Summer;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House of Assembly join me in congratulating the organizers and participants of this year's Clare 50th Acadian Festival.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

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

RESOLUTION NO. 4656

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

Whereas South Shore Sand and Gravel has initiated a partnership with a New Brunswick company that will see organic topsoil be composed from quarry and hardboard waste; and

Whereas South Shore Sand and Gravel General Manager Terry Rewding and Business Development Manager Joel Westin were convinced that the soil scraped from rocks before blasting could be used for something other than waste, which is when New Brunswick's Envirem Technologies entered the picture; and

Whereas Envirem Technologies, with compost-based growing mixes, and South Shore Sand and Gravel discovered that by mixing their two products together topsoil would be significantly better than soils already on the market, because it is so clean and rich in nutrients;

[Page 8493]

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House commend both Terry and Joel for their forward thinking, and wish them every success as they continue to market their new topsoil.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Annapolis.

RESOLUTION NO. 4657

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

Whereas Annapolis County's diverse cultural heritage is a source of pride and an important part of our communities; and

Whereas the four municipal units in Annapolis County, the Municipality of the County of Annapolis, and the Towns of Annapolis Royal, Bridgetown and Middleton, are just wrapping up an exciting and fun-filled year of recognizing 400 years of living and working together; and

Whereas countless volunteers worked hard in every community to organize and carry out many wonderful events aimed at celebrating and commemorating this historic milestone;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate all those who worked so hard to make Annapolis County's 400th Celebration a year to remember.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

[Page 8494]

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 on an introduction.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Glace Bay): Mr. Speaker, it's my pleasure to direct the attention of the members to the west gallery today, where we are joined by Suhaire Clarke. Ms. Clarke is a trained anesthesiologist from Iraq. She's looking for work in Nova Scotia. I hope that the members of this House will welcome her with a warm round of applause today. (Applause)

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

The honourable member for Cape Breton West.

[3:15 p.m.]

RESOLUTION NO. 4658

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker - this one is much shorter - I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas a childhood dream of making it to the NHL is now one step closer for Eskasoni's Chad Denny, who was drafted by the Atlanta Thrashers in the second round on July 30, 2005; and

Whereas Chad Denny is also living a dream of his departed best friend and teammate, Addison Bernard, who passed away at the age of 14; and

Whereas Chad Denny was invited to Team Canada's World Junior Summer development camp in Whistler, British Columbia on August 10 to August 15, 2005 where he got to meet many hockey stars and later attended Thrashers Rookie Camp on September 5, 2005, an opportunity to showcase his skills;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Chad Denny, a great role model for the Mi'kmaq Nation on his achievements and wish him much success this year in his third season with the Lewiston MAINEiacs of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.

[Page 8495]

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.

RESOLUTION NO. 4659

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

Whereas Love Sackville is now an annual event sponsored by nine churches in the Sackville area; and

Whereas the event saw community members doing random acts of kindness for others such as car washings, garbage pickup, passing out hot dogs and juice, cotton candy giveaways, face painting and a family fair; and

Whereas the community and the residents, who were the recipients of these good deeds, look forward to this event next year;

Therefore be it resolved that members of the Nova Scotia Legislature congratulate the churches in Sackville who participated in this year's Love Sackville event and thank their members for taking it upon themselves to perform random acts of kindness to their neighbours and for contributing to making Sackville an even better place to call home.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

[Page 8496]

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Pictou East.

RESOLUTION NO. 4660

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

Whereas this month the Churchville Women's Institute in Pictou County is celebrating their 57th Anniversary; and

Whereas the Churchville County Women's Institute in Pictou County consists of 13 members and strongly supports community volunteerism; and

Whereas the 57th Anniversary supper was held at Crofter's Restaurant in Pictou County, home to great food and hospitality;

Therefore be it resolved that MLAs in this House congratulate the Churchville Women's Institute for 57 years of community service and wish them continued success.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Education.

RESOLUTION NO. 4661

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

[Page 8497]

Whereas the LaHave Manor Corporation celebrated its 25th year of operation at its location in Dayspring, Lunenburg County on October 12th; and

Whereas LaHave Manor Corporation is fortunate to have a dedicated and professional staff, many who have worked at the facility for more than 25 years; and

Whereas Geraldine Lohnes has worked at the facility for 36 years, Brenda Mason for 28 years and Cindy Hagen for 27 years as well as Dr. Art Patterson who has been the residents' physician for 35 years;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate LaHave Manor Corporation on the occasion of its 25th Anniversary and thank Geraldine Lohnes, Brenda Mason, Cindy Hagen and Dr. Patterson for their dedicated services to its residents over the 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 Minister of Education.

RESOLUTION NO. 4662

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

Whereas Dr. J. Chalmers Doane, an internationally known music educator and native of Truro has been named to the Order of Canada; and

Whereas Dr. J. Chalmers Doane is a former Director of Music Education of the Halifax school system but also was a professor of music education at the Nova Scotia Teachers College; and

[Page 8498]

Whereas although best known for popularizing the ukulele as an inexpensive introduction to instrumental music for school children, Dr. J. Chalmers Doane is a multi-talented musician who continues to donate his time and talent to enhance the lives of people of all ages;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Dr. J. Chalmers Doane on being named to the Order of Canada and thank him for his outstanding contribution to music education in Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

ORDERS OF THE DAY

ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS

MR. SPEAKER: Question Period will begin at 3:20 p.m. and end at 4:50 p.m.

The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

NAT. RES.: ATV TASK FORCE - RECOMMENDATIONS

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: My question is going to be to the Minister of Natural Resources. Last week the Department of Natural Resources released its so-called action plan on off-highway vehicle use in Nova Scotia. The Minister of Natural Resources likes to say that he and the interdepartmental committee have come up with a balanced report that would address the safety concerns of Nova Scotians.

Mr. Speaker, you should know that this has been completely rejected by those who have to deal with the effects of the balanced approach when children show up at the emergency rooms. I will table an open letter from five respected physicians taking this government's response to task for its failure to protect those children. So my question for the minister is this, why is he and his government ignoring these concerns?

[Page 8499]

HON. RICHARD HURLBURT: Mr. Speaker, through you to the member opposite, I'm sure that he knows that this government has been open and transparent with all dealings of this government throughout its two mandates. That's the way we dealt with this issue, and that's the way I continue to deal with this issue.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, these doctors are not alone in realizing that children under 16 should not operate an ATV. This position has been taken by the Canadian Paediatric Society, the Canadian Association of Paediatric Surgeons, the Trauma Association of Canada, Safe Kids Canada, and many others. Parents have come to expect that products considered unsafe for children, like lawn darts, or flammable clothing, will be outlawed. These are not recreational toys, these are motorized vehicles, and the parents who let their children ride them say they do so because the government says it's okay.

My question for the minister is this, why does the government consider these vehicles in the hands of a child safer than all the products that have been deemed unsafe for children in this country?

MR. HURLBURT: Mr. Speaker, I cannot believe what I just heard from the Leader of the Opposition. I guess he does not believe that the parents of the children of this province are responsible parents to the children of this Province of Nova Scotia.

MR. DEXTER: My final question, Mr. Speaker, will go to the Minister of Health. The Minister of Health and the Minister of Natural Resources met with these doctors and gave them assurances that they would be very pleased with the results that were coming forward. One of the minister's most important responsibilities is to prevent injury, to prevent illness, and to increase the opportunity for everyone to enjoy good health throughout their life.

Mr. Speaker, this letter recounts the grim facts - ATV injuries have tripled over the past five years, and between 2000 and 2003, four children died. Can the Minister of Health tell Nova Scotians how, in good conscience, he has stood by while the carefully considered Voluntary Planning recommendations to protect children from serious injury and death were rejected?

HON. ANGUS MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, I thank the honourable member for the question. The obvious answer to all of these issues is that there be appropriate knowledge made available to all of our citizens, to parents, so that they can guide their children. The programs that were announced by the Minister of Natural Resources are programs that make this information available. They emphasize the need for education. They emphasize the need for all citizens to be responsible in the use of these, and there have indeed been age-related restrictions placed on the use of these vehicles.

[Page 8500]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Glace Bay.

HEALTH - EQUIPMENT REPLACEMENT: DELAY - EXPLAIN

MR. DAVID WILSON (Glace Bay): Mr. Speaker, yesterday I posed a question to the Minister of Health about a resident who was unable to have a procedure performed at the QE II because of broken equipment. The situation is even more dire than originally anticipated. According to CBC this morning, 10 patients have been sent out West for procedures. Others are waiting to see if the equipment will be replaced. Even worse, the head of the cardiology unit at the QE II is extremely worried that the hospital's two specialists who can perform that procedure and need this machine may leave. My question for the minster is, why hasn't the minister taken any steps before now to replace that equipment and avoid the possible loss of two specialists?

HON. ANGUS MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for the question. The fact is that we are in discussions with Capital Health with respect to this problem. We don't want to see Nova Scotians having to travel out of this province. It's a matter of great concern to us and we are working with Capital Health toward a solution.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Glace Bay): Mr. Speaker, the minister is responsible for the health care system in this province and I've said in the past, and I'll repeat it on the floor of the House today, you wait until a crisis develops and then you finally take action. You can't retain specialists when you manage the health care system that way, you can't recruit specialists either. It's quite a legacy for that minister to be leaving for the Premier of this province. My question for him is, what specific action, Mr. Minister, have you taken to ensure that the fluoroscopy unit at the QE II is going to be replaced?

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, I would refer the honourable member to the answer to his first question. The fact is we are working with Capital Health and the answer to the problem is rather an obvious one - that the equipment be replaced. Finding a way of doing that within current budgets is the challenge that's before us and we'll meet that challenge.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Glace Bay): Mr. Speaker, the minister knows full well it's going to take eight to 10 months to get that equipment and install it. The district health authority in the meantime has shipped 10 patients out West. Others are still waiting and specialists who are performing the procedure - there are not too many specialists in the world that can perform it - are threatening to leave. Patients are experiencing increasingly long wait times as well. My final question for the minister is, just how many more situations like this one exist in this province, Mr. Minister, that you're not telling us about?

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, to date, that's the only one I'm aware of.

[Page 8501]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

AGRIC. & FISH.: FISHING LICENCES - CAPITAL GAINS TAX

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries. The cornerstone of the Nova Scotia inshore fishery is the independent owner/operator. There was a time when young people hoping to be fishermen would work with the old-timers to learn their trade. If something is not done to rectify the problems in the fishery, we may well be looking at the last generation of independent inshore fishermen. Today, fishermen wanting to retire can pass on all the knowledge they want, but when it comes time to transfer the businesses and licences to the next generation, fishermen are finding it financially impossible to do because of the capital gains tax they must pay. My question is, what is the government prepared to do to help fishermen with capital gains tax?

HON. CHRISTOPHER D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, I thank the member opposite for the question as this issue is one that's been highlighted a number of times in this House. It's been talked about quite often by myself with the federal minister. It is something that is going to be imperative for the future of our inshore fishery and for the transfer of those vessels from one generation to another. I'm more than happy to be chatting with the Minister of Finance and trying to find a way to make sure we can do that inter-generational transfer between one generation and the next.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, not only can retiring fishermen not pass their licences on to the next generation, new entrants cannot get access to the capital they require to start up their own enterprise. This is leaving the licences open and susceptible to being hooked by corporations through trust agreements, the only people with the needed access to capital. The Nova Scotia Fisheries Loan Board needs to be reformed so that new entrants can access capital. This is the capital they need to enter the fishery and continue to keep our coastal communities strong and vibrant. I would ask the minister, what will this government do to ensure that new entrants are able to access the financing necessary to help stop the erosion of local ownership in the fisheries?

[3:30 p.m.]

MR. D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, as the member opposite knows full well, the cost is very prohibitive to buy a licence. Right now a licence in District 35 is ranging in the $700,00 to $800,000 range. Over the last number of years this government has been trying unsuccessfully - I've got to say unsuccessfully - to get the federal government to allow us to mortgage those licences. Without the agreement of the federal government to let us do that it is all for naught.

[Page 8502]

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, he must have learned that from the Minister of Justice. After much studying, the federal government has come forward with the Hanlon proposals. These proposals, if adopted, would tighten the loopholes to rid the owner/operator fishery of trust agreements and will also provide independent fishermen the right to incorporate and to include licences within the corporation. This proposal has received the support of the Canadian Council of Professional Fish Harvesters and of the federal minister. So my question to the minister is this, what has the minister done to convey to his federal counterparts the government's support for those proposals?

MR. D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, as the member opposite knows, we've been talking about this for a long time and pushing and asking the federal government to bring this issue forward. I'm very happy that Hanlon was able to bring his recommendations forward, and we're more than happy to support them as they come forward.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Glace Bay.

HEALTH: FAM. PRACTICE - QUALIFYING PROG.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Glace Bay): Mr. Speaker, last Spring, the Minister of Health announced a program that he said would address the Nova Scotian physician shortage. The announcement was praised at first but, as usual with government initiatives, the weaknesses are becoming more and more self-evident. The cost of the program is prohibitive at $5,500 per applicant and an additional $2,000 to $3,000 for national tests.

Mr. Speaker, for Suhaire Clarke, who is currently making sandwiches in Scotia Square, the cost is too high. Suhaire is an internationally-trained anaesthesiologist who desperately wants to practice her profession, or at least practice family medicine, which she is also qualified and trained to do. Under the current program she's not able to do either as specialists are not included, the cost is too expensive given the dire need for physicians and specialists in our province. My question for the minister is, would the minister please consider providing financial support so that Suhaire can be trained to practice medicine in this province?

HON. ANGUS MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, the program which we have implemented is a program - as the honourable member pointed out - designed to allow family practice doctors to qualify for family practice in this province. It doesn't apply to specialists. The fee that has been implemented is a fee that is not out of line with fees that are charged throughout the country with respect to international medical graduates. The process is one which is designed to encourage these individuals to come and become qualified and stay in Nova Scotia. We do have some challenges with respect to providing opportunities for these individuals to upgrade their skills as a result of any shortages found within the testing mechanism, and we are looking at ways to ensure that that is provided.

[Page 8503]

MR. DAVID WILSON (Glace Bay): Mr. Speaker, what a waste of talent. The Association of International Physicians and Surgeons has recently written the minister with some concerns about the costs. They've expressed concerns about the length of time that it has taken to receive results, the lack of information received from five of their six members when they were told they were not eligible for a defined licence. Some of the members already on defined licences as clinical associates were told that they failed. Others received top marks . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. There's too much noise in the Chamber. I would ask the members to keep it down please or take your conversations outside.

The honourable member for Glace Bay.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Glace Bay): Do you want me to start from the beginning, Mr. Speaker?

Mr. Speaker, these are concerns from the Association of International Physicians and Surgeons and, according to that organization, the Clinician Assessment for Practice Program has turned out to be the most expensive medical exam in the country, with the lowest success rate. So my question to the minister is, how is that CAP Program, as it's called, supposed to address the physician shortage in communities with the concerns that have just been presented to the minister?

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, the program, of course, is not one that has been developed solely by the Department of Health, as a matter of fact, we played a rather minimal role in it, as did the Minister of Immigration and his department. The real program that we're talking about here is one that has been put together by the College of Physicians and Surgeons, with the co-operation of Doctors Nova Scotia. This is the first round of that program that we've dealt with, and everyone involved is looking to see if there are ways in which the program can be improved. I can assure all honourable members that no one will receive qualifications to practice in this province unless they have demonstrated clearly that they are qualified to do so.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Glace Bay): Mr. Speaker, like many initiatives of this government, they always like the fanfare that's associated with the announcement and then they just walk away. They claim everything is okay. Reality, nothing has changed. Suhaire could be in an operating room, but she's here fighting to practice a profession and we need her. I repeat myself, what a waste of talent.

Mr. Speaker, my final question for the minister is, what does the minister intend to do to ensure the issues of prohibitive costs and the concerns outlined by Suhaire Clarke and the Association of International Physicians and Surgeons are finally addressed?

[Page 8504]

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, I just want to point out to the House that the association of which the honourable member refers is indeed an association of international medical graduates, who live here in the region and who are a bit frustrated with the process of receiving their qualifications. We are, as I said, examining the program to date and what has happened with it. Where we can make improvements, we will make improvements, but I will underline again, that nobody will be practising medicine within this province unless they have demonstrated clearly that they are qualified to do so. That process is one, the integrity of which we will ensure is protected.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou West.

AGRIC. & FISH.: LOBSTER FISHERMEN - ASSIST

MR. CHARLES PARKER: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is to the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I'll ask the honourable members to go outside. Order, please.

MR. PARKER: Thank you. Mr. Speaker, my question through you is to the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries. Lobster fishermen in the Northumberland Strait are experiencing some of the lowest catches in decades. Federal fisheries officials show that this year was the smallest haul since 1980, and many fishing families are struggling to meet their financial obligations. Now in August of this year, I wrote to the minister asking for help for our fishermen, and his reply was that staff were reviewing the situation and identifying options that could help. So my question then to the minister is, on behalf of the fishing families in Northern Nova Scotia, what options has he identified to offer them help?

HON. CHRISTOPHER D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, I thank the member opposite for the question and for his concern for the lobster fishery in that area. I want to inform the House that we are working with the three provinces that border on that area and we're looking at some recommendations to be coming forward soon.

MR. PARKER: Mr. Speaker, certainly there is a whole host of reasons perhaps why the lobster stock is declining. Some are saying it's the shifting winds, contaminated runoff from the land, invasive species, scallop dragging, perhaps poaching, perhaps even the effects of the Confederation Bridge, and lots of other reasons.

Now as I mentioned, the DFO has spearheaded a group they have called the Northumberland Strait ecosystem working group to try to find out what is wrong. So, Mr. Speaker, again, on behalf of the fishing families along the Northumberland Strait, what leadership is the minister, and his department, providing to this working group?

[Page 8505]

MR. D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, I think the member opposite can ask the federal minister what they're doing with their group. Our group is a group of the three provinces that are impacted by this issue. As he underlined there, there are a number of things that could be impacting that fishery, and that's why we have committed people and money to figure this one out.

MR. PARKER: Mr. Speaker, this is a very serious situation. Financial ruin is being faced by many fishing families, and they fear that they're not going to get the results in time. It might take 18 months before this study is finished, and the stocks could be gone altogether by that time, perhaps just like the cod. Fishermen just can't wait. To the minister again, what is he doing right now, right here today, to help save the Northumberland lobster fishery?

MR. D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, to the member opposite I will reiterate that we are working with the provinces that are impacted by this to figure out what is wrong with the lobster fishery in that area. Right now the fishery is at its all-time low and probably will not be coming back for some time. We will work hard to figure this one out.

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

EDUC. - PUB. SCH. FEES: CUTS - TIMING

MR. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, my question, through you, is to the Minister of Education. As you no doubt remember, the minister banned the practice of charging fees for mandatory subjects in public schools, with great timing, on the first day of the term this school year. Since then all eight school boards have discussed the huge budget implications of this decision, including the South Shore board where one member stated that there was no notice or warning of these cuts. My question to the minister is, why did you, Mr. Minister, wait until the first day of school, when budgets were already set, to announce this significant revenue loss for schools and school boards across this province?

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, as the honourable member well knows, charging school fees for curricular subjects, subject to certain limitations, is not consistent with the Education Act. He will also remember that last year this government did a survey of school boards to find out what types of fees were being charged. When the department discovered that there were fees being charged that should not be charged to students because, under the Education Act, education in Nova Scotia for these curricular subjects is free, then the government took the appropriate action.

MR. ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, it's all about timing. The superintendent of the Annapolis Valley Regional School Board reported to his board that this political decision will cost the board up to $0.25 million this school year alone. The superintendent, Mr. Dray, went on to tell his board that it was his understanding that the department would undertake a review of the impact of this poorly-timed decision. My question to the minister is, if this

[Page 8506]

proposed policy has been on the table since February 2005, as he stated in the press release on the subject, why has this review been delayed for so long?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I hope that the honourable member is not suggesting that education in this province should not be free, and that the fees that were inappropriate that were being charged by school boards to students should indeed be reinstated. (Interruptions)

On the issue of school fees, the honourable member earlier talked about the February forum in Truro. He will remember - because he was there - the issue of inappropriate school fees was one of the topics of that, and the department, after that meeting, committed to take a closer look at that issue.

MR. ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, let's be patient here. We were in Truro in February. I'm not Einstein when it comes to school fees. We know it's a huge problem. We know it's a problem, that we should not under any circumstances be charging young people in school, but the announcement comes on the first day of the school year - now, is that appropriate timing? Is that how you plan budgets in this province? More importantly, Mr. Minister, what are you prepared to do to assist these boards that are now going to face a shortfall in funding when it comes to their budgets, because of course they have to balance their books each and every year?

[3:45 p.m.]

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, indeed, the school boards are expected to balance their books each and every year. I'm quite happy to report that in most cases they have done so. The issue of the provincial policy on school fees, was simply sending out a reminder to school boards that their practice about school fees had to be consistent with the conditions of the Education Act.

I want to tell the honourable member - he talked about the Annapolis Valley School Board - one of the inconsistent things that has happened, and the member for Kings North has raised this with me on a number of occasions, is that the policy was not consistent from school to school in the Annapolis Valley. There were schools that were charging fees, for example, for lab fees, and the neighbouring school which might be within 15 kilometres, was not. There should have been consistency across the school district.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Glace Bay.

HEALTH: SAFETY-ENGINEERED DEVICES - ACTION

MR. DAVID WILSON (Glace Bay): Mr. Speaker, recently we've heard that the Minister of Health and staff in his department have been conducting surveys and consulting with various district health authorities with respect to introducing safety-engineered devices

[Page 8507]

in health care facilities. Workers in this province deserve protection. The health care system itself is in dire need of implementing some changes that will save money in the long run. My question to the minister is, when do we expect the Department of Health to take some action as a result of those surveys and consultations that you have undertaken?

HON. ANGUS MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member is impatient, he can't wait for this afternoon's debate when I intended to inform him of our intended action. Indeed, he references the consultation that we've embarked upon in order to gather appropriate information with respect to the use of these devices, and also to gather information relative to the activities of occupational health and safety committees throughout the province in our acute care facilities and in the long-term care facilities. It is with this information that we will be in a position to develop appropriate policies relative to their use.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Glace Bay): Mr. Speaker, this Premier promised that this would be a House session about protecting Nova Scotians. So, the Service Employees International Union, the Nova Scotia Nurses' Union, and the Nova Scotia Government Employees Union have all expressed support to our caucus which would ensure that their members, our health care professionals, are protected in the workplace. My question to the minister is, has your department consulted with the unions with respect to safety-engineered devices in their workplaces?

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, obviously, through the process of consulting with the district health authorities and with the long-term care facilities, we are, in fact, finding out what is going on in those facilities as it impacts the employees to which the honourable member refers. We're very much aware of the need for appropriate activities relative to occupational health and safety. Those are, in many respects, not just the priorities that are set provincially but are priorities which are established within the workplace. That activity involves occupational health and safety committees within the workplace made up of members of the workforce who belong to the unions to which the honourable member referred.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Glace Bay): Mr. Speaker, when you can adopt practices that create safer workplaces and save money, you have a win-win situation. So my final question for the minister is, would the minister please tell us, then, whether Nova Scotia is going to be a leader rather than a follower with respect to the use of safety-engineered needles in the workplace?

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, this government and its policies have demonstrated clearly that we're a leader in many facets of government in this country. When it comes to innovation with respect to health care we have taken many major steps that demonstrate that Nova Scotia is a leader. I believe the only fundamental difference that exists between the opinions of the honourable member and the policies of this government are not in the matter of the ultimate goal, but in the matter of how we get to reaching that goal. We believe that

[Page 8508]

you can't always resolve every issue that arises as a result of technological innovation, by reacting to that technological innovation with a piece of legislation in each and every case.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

COM. SERV.: INCOME ASSISTANCE RECIPIENTS

- REDUCTION EXPLAIN

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, my question will be for the Premier. Yesterday, the Minister of Community Services defended his government's policy of clawing back emergency heating assistance from the food budgets of people on social assistance. His explanation clearly didn't sway advocates who deal with the effects of this regressive policy every day, people like Donnie Mullins, chair of the Disabled Individuals Alliance. Mr. Mullins says he has seen many disabled people left without enough to eat because they needed help staying warm. So my question is, what is Donnie Mullins supposed to tell his clients when they call this Winter saying their assistance was reduced and they don't have enough money for food?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the Leader of the Opposition brings a good point to the attention of the members of the House. The amount the government provides those in this province that require income assistance is by no measure generous, but it is done within the ability of the government to pay. I don't think the issue here should be, perhaps, misconstrued. The issue here is whether or not the government should be providing more income assistance. It should never be, I think, a criticism of the government when it advances money to clients that it should request that money be repaid out of subsequent payments. The issue is not that because that is something any responsible person would do. If there is an advance, you pay it back.

The issue is clearly - and the government acknowledges the issue - that we are not able to be as generous as we should be on such things as shelter allowance and food allowance.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, for those people who have to pay the money back, that is exactly the issue, that they cannot afford to clothe themselves and to put food on the table for their children. That is exactly the issue that the government seems to be missing. Donnie Mullins is very worried about the Winter months ahead. He knows many people with disabilities are suffering already and that it's going to be a long, cold Winter. Donnie says it's unfair to give with one hand and to take back with the other from people with disabilities who are already living with hardship and poverty. This government can make a decision that would bring relief to many Nova Scotians living below the poverty line, who are most vulnerable, in the face of record high home heating costs. So, my question for the Premier is, why won't your government recognize the injustice of taking food money from disabled people who need extra help with their sky-high heating costs?

[Page 8509]

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the Leader of the Opposition in his preamble talks about the impending long, cold Winter. The Winter will be long and we hope not too cold. The interesting thing is that the government is making available to low income Nova Scotians a $250 award to help them with the cost of home heating fuel. The federal government, to its credit, will provide those very same Nova Scotians with another $250 - that is much more generous than simply removing the tax to their fuel because that would not provide them with nearly the same amount of money. (Applause)

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, that's what's known as a moon shot when you go off on a tangent so bizarre that it doesn't even address the question. (Interruptions) The government viewed a salary clawback of the Minister of Community Services as a matter of confidence. This issue raises a question of Nova Scotian's confidence in the minister and in the Progressive Conservative Government. Today the GPI Atlantic's Energy Report highlighted the heavy cost of fuel poverty - nearly $50 million in costs due to poor health and lower productivity - when many households spend more than 10 per cent of their income on heating fuels.

So my final question to the Premier is this, what advice does he have for disabled individuals and other vulnerable citizens when their food money is eaten by paying back emergency fuel assistance?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the Leader of the Opposition indicates that he thinks mathematics is bizarre. Well, mathematics is the very reason why we've been able to balance the budget, the way in which we have been able to secure the future of young people in this province. Just imagine if the kind of mathematics that the members of the Opposition are in favour of, just what would happen to the future of this province? There would be deficits and bankruptcies. That's where we would be. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect.

HEALTH PROM. - SCH. SPORTS: FUNDING REDUCTION - EFFECTS

MR. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health Promotion. Because this government refuses to fund the public school system properly, the Halifax Regional School Board has refused funding for junior high sports and stopped thousands of kids from playing athletic games this year in our schools. As the minister knows, being a physical education teacher, playing school sport develops life-long healthy habits. The Health Promotion Web site states that physical inactivity costs $107 million a year in direct medical costs. So my question for the minister is, won't you agree that a reduction in funding for school sports will result in much higher provincial medical costs in the years ahead?

[Page 8510]

HON. RODNEY MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, what I can share with the member indeed is many of the investments that we have made in the area of sport and recreation for those young people he's speaking of and, indeed, during the past few years, be it for those in low-income families to a sport fund, be it in kids' sport, be it those who are going to recreational facilities, be it those who are utilizing many of our provincial sport organizations; we have made significant investment to target that specific area. I know that my colleague in the Department of Education is also working closely with the school boards to ensure that every opportunity is given for physical activity and other necessary opportunities for our young people.

[4:00 p.m.]

MR. ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, the minister's departmental Web site also says that although 90 per cent of children in Grade 3 get the required amount of physical activity, by the time these students finish junior high, that figure falls dramatically to just 12 per cent for boys and an astounding 7 per cent for girls. Last April this government announced $1.7 million for sport animators - Daffy Duck in a physical education suit. We are looking at sport animators whose job is to link school and community sport programs so that everyone will become active - animate them, get them involved.

Mr. Speaker, my question through you to the minister is, how can these sport animators promote physical activity in schools if there are no junior high school sports there anyway?

MR. RODNEY MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, the member may not think that these sport animators will fill a void in our communities and with our school boards, but indeed those in Sport Nova Scotia think that they will. Those in the provincial government think that they will. Those involved in our Medical Societies think they will. Those at the federal level also think they will.

Mr. Speaker, indeed, they will provide the leadership that we need to close the gap between our regional school boards, between our communities. In addition to that, the leadership with physical education at our school board levels, which has been further expanded upon this year, will make a difference. Indeed, we must have that leadership if we're going to continue with the next step and have more people being physically active in our schools and in our school boards across our province.

MR. ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, the minister's department has funded a pilot project in the Annapolis Valley School Board dealing with obesity levels with Grade 5 children. As the minister stated in his press release when boasting about the success, he said, "With good habits established early in life, they are reducing the risk for disease when they're older. This is a key objective of Health Promotion."

[Page 8511]

Now, I can't not agree with that, no one in this House couldn't not agree with that. This is something that we all must understand - Health Promotion has a wonderful objective. That program cost $100,000. The money spent on sports animators could fund two of these programs in each school board. So my final question to the minister is, why are you wasting resources on more bureaucracy when you know the best way to reduce obesity is to fund schools and the sports programs properly?

MR. RODNEY MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, what I know is from doing the appropriate research. What I know is what doing that appropriate research has done is showing to us once again, and emphasizing, a need for healthy eating in our schools, which we are investing in; the need for further physical activity, which we are also investing in; working with our schools board, working with our communities and our business sector; these are the types of initiatives we have seen. That's why that pilot project in the Annapolis Valley is not only being recognized here in our province, it's being recognize across the country, it's being recognized across the country as a step in the right direction. Indeed, increasing the physical activity through sport is one of those key things. I stand by the sport animators. I believe they'll do an excellent job, and I believe that the NDP should give them an opportunity to show what they're capable of doing in our communities.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Preston.

WCB: CHRONIC PAIN CLAIMS - COST

MR. KEITH COLWELL: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister responsible for the Workers' Compensation Board. Seven thousand Nova Scotians are waiting for their chronic pain claims to be adjusted, and there may be more. The Workers' Compensation Board has budgeted $160 million for claims, but they are not sure if that's a true and accurate cost. Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters claim it could be as high as $1 billion. My question to the minister is, what will the real cost be to address the outstanding chronic pain claims?

HON. KERRY MORASH: Mr. Speaker, in recent discussions with the Workers' Compensation Board, they're content that the $168 million that they've billed to cover this cost will be adequate.

MR. COLWELL: Mr. Speaker, our overriding concern is justice for the workers, but there's also a cost to business. It looks like the Workers' Compensation Board is on the verge of needing another bailout because of Progressive Conservative Government mismanagement, possibly a $1 billion bailout. This could bankrupt this province, or are they just going to cut off injured workers and say they are not going to pay any more claims because they have no more money to pay it. My question to the minister is, when can we expect an accurate cost estimate for the cost of chronic pain?

[Page 8512]

MR. MORASH: Mr. Speaker, with the information we currently have, $168 million is the cost. As the member opposite would know, this was a Supreme Court decision, and we are following the Supreme Court's decision.

MR. COLWELL: Mr. Speaker, workers suffering from chronic pain cannot wait any longer. The delays have been unbelievable and business cannot afford more. If the government charge the businesses more for all the costs, this could result in layoffs, possibly business closures. Before the problem can be fixed, the minister must get a handle on the size of the problem.

Will the minister commit to a total review of the actual cost, considering every time you increase costs to business it means possible layoffs and have a review begun immediately to establish these costs and take into account these higher fees to business and possibly business closures, due to these high rates?

MR. MORASH: Mr. Speaker, the Workers' Compensation Board is on track with the information that I have, and the estimated times to complete the claims that are in the system. Section 10 E claims will be completed by the end of this year, 2005. The pre-Hayden claims will be completed by the end of December 2006, and workers injured after 1990, will be completed by the end of December 2007. As I've said two times before, $168 million is the money that has been set aside to cover this.

MR. SPEAKER: I'll ask the honourable minister to table that document he read from, please.

The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.

ENVIRON. & LBR.: HYATT N.S. SPRING WATER CO. -

ASSESSMENT

MS. MICHELE RAYMOND: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Environment and Labour. A year ago my colleague raised the issue of a proposed water bottling plant on Digby Neck and called for a Class 2 environmental assessment. You told my colleague that you would make a decision of what type of assessment would be appropriate once an application had been received. Recently the department has told me that the licence application is now in the approval process. My question is, what sort of an environmental assessment of the Hyatt Nova Scotia Spring Water Company has been undertaken to date?

HON. KERRY MORASH: Mr. Speaker, there is an application in the works, and at this point in time we're waiting for additional information from the proponent, so nothing really can happen until the proponent gives us that information so that we can move forward.

[Page 8513]

MS. RAYMOND: Mr. Speaker, the department has in fact confirmed that no environmental assessment has been undertaken, but because the regulations of the Environment Act provide no trigger whatsoever for such an assessment. Furthermore, the department has said that its interpretation of the regulations concludes that even the minister doesn't have the power to order any sort of environmental assessment in this case. My question is, why would you promise the people of Digby County something which you have neither regulatory nor ministerial power to fulfill?

MR. MORASH: Mr. Speaker, there seems to be some differences of opinion between some lawyers and I know that's an oddity , but on occasion that comes up. In this case we believe we do have the authority. (Laughter)

MS. RAYMOND: Mr. Speaker, the difference of opinion is going to be resolved in the right direction because a key principle of the department's strategy is that water is to be treated as a resource to be valued, conserved and carefully managed. Despite this, the licence fee for the Hyatt proposal will allow this company to withdraw up to 200,000 litres of water per year for a fee of a grand total of $213. My question is, when in fact, will Nova Scotia's water be treated as a resource to be valued, conserved and carefully managed?

MR. MORASH: Mr. Speaker, there is no question that water in this province is a resource and it needs to be managed and treasured for that matter. Currently we are receiving about $900,000 a year for water withdrawal fees and when you look at the amount of cost associated with the water bottling plant, you can appreciate, in the overall scheme of things, the amount of water that's actually being withdrawn.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Annapolis.

HEALTH: MIDDLETON NURSING HOME - STATUS

MR. STEPHEN MCNEIL: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health. Over a year ago, October 7, 2004, to be exact, I stood in my place and asked the minister when the residents of Middleton could expect an announcement with respect to a nursing home in their community. Needs assessments were completed and have been in the possession of the department for well over three years. The minister indicated in October of 2004, that the request made by the Middleton and Area Nursing Home Society would be analyzed as part of the province-wide senior citizens consultation process. So my question is, why is the Middleton and Area Nursing Home Society still waiting for an answer from this government?

HON. ANGUS MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, the consultation process is not yet complete.

[Page 8514]

MR. MCNEIL: Mr. Speaker, that consultation process was supposed to be completed a year ago. The government promised a strategy on positive aging last Spring and we've heard nothing. We have a government here that likes to meet, talk, analyze and study. This government demands needs assessments from local groups, and at the end of the day the community sees very little. So my question is, will the minister state today on what date the Middleton and Area Nursing Home Society can expect an announcement of a nursing home facility in Middleton?

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member is suggesting that we have not met a deadline. The consultation process with respect to continuing care, we indicated would be available in the Spring. I expect later this Fall to have some interim reports. It will not be a final document, and at that time we will have the information we need to do a complete evaluation of not just the numbers and locations of long-term care beds in this province, but the initiatives and policies that we will have to pursue in order to put in place appropriate home care facilities and the appropriate mix of long-term care facilities in this province. I look forward to receiving that report and coming forward with recommendations and actions that will address everything that is identified in the report.

MR. MCNEIL: Mr. Speaker, let's try again. Middleton and the surrounding area is one of the few areas in this province where the population is growing, not declining. The evidence of need is obvious - you have a group of dedicated individuals willing and able to make this the best facility possible. So my question to the minister is, will the minister commit today that he will meet with the Middleton and Area Nursing Home Society immediately after this Fall session to discuss a future roll-out plan for a nursing home in the Middleton area?

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, the appropriate time for me to meet with any groups will be after we receive the consultation. That consultation will allow us to develop the policies that we need to put in place so that we are, in fact, not just building nursing homes, but we are building the appropriate number of beds in a nursing home and that we have the appropriate mix of beds within those facilities. That is required before we move forward. I can tell you we're going to do this in a planned, methodical way and we're not going to be like the Leader of the Third Party announcing the re-expenditure of the offshore money several times. He has already said that he would spend the $40 million, I think, three or four different ways. We're going to spend our money in a planned approach.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

[Page 8515]

PREM. - VLTs: ILLEGAL MACHINES - PREVENT

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is for the Premier. The Premier has frequently defended the massive increase in VLT gambling during his years in office by suggesting that illegal gambling would thrive if VLTs were banned. The Premier and his colleagues apparently assume they have effectively closed the door on illegal gambling. So just to be clear, I want to ask the Premier, will he tell Nova Scotians if indeed he's satisfied that his government has kept the door closed to illegal VLTs and has taken steps to prevent a growing appetite for gambling?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I welcome the question because it really goes to the crux of the government's position on VLT gambling in the province. I would doubt very much if any member of the House would stand up and defend VLT gambling, but where the government must be concerned is what would happen if in fact we had followed some advice that we had received and tried to eliminate VLTs from the province entirely.

My judgment on this was certainly very much influenced by a trip I had when I visited the illegal gaming unit in the Province of Ontario, through the illegal gambling operations in the Province of Ontario where VLTs are illegal. Illegal VLTs are alive and well in the Province of Ontario. The illegal gaming unit in the Province of Ontario assured me that if we attempted to outlaw VLTs that organized crime would very rapidly fill the void here in Nova Scotia.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I don't know if the Premier ever shops at Zellers, or if he spends much time reading the flyers that arrive in Wednesday's newspapers looking for bargains, but I would like to draw his attention and the attention of other members to the Zellers flyer, which I'll table . . .

[4:15 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. You can table anything you want, but you're not going to hold it up in the House. No props, please.

The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: This flyer was distributed across Nova Scotia this week. On Page 3 of that flyer, we will find that the feature sale item is a factory reconditioned authentic gaming machine called the Skill Stop Machine. I would like to ask the Premier to explain, how is it possible for casino-style gaming machines to be sold so openly here in Nova Scotia?

[Page 8516]

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the good member opposite is obviously a more determined shopper than I am. I have not yet looked at the week's flyers and probably won't. I do appreciate the member bringing this particular one to my attention. I will have a look at it. The government will take the member's observation very seriously.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Well, it's good to know that the Premier is such a good environmentalist that he isn't interested in the plethora of flyers we have coming to our houses.

Mr. Speaker, the Health Promotion mandate of this government is supposed to include vigorous activity to deal with the harmful activities that are associated with problem gambling. Yet in thousands of households, right next to children's video games, like Nintendo Super Mario, we have Zellers selling slot machines and implying that there is skill involved in the use of these machines, and we know that there isn't, which implies that this is another fun activity that's quite harmless. We know that's not the case, as well. I want to ask the Premier, how is he going to deal with the latest evidence of a gambling epidemic in this province?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I don't disagree with the preamble. We will look at it.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Preston.

AFRICAN N.S. AFFS. - OFFICE: DEVELOPMENT - SPEED

MR. KEITH COLWELL: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of African Nova Scotian Affairs. In 2001, an Office of African Nova Scotian Affairs was recommended by the African Nova Scotian community. In 2003, the office was established, and in January 2005, some years after the recommendation from the community, it was officially brought into existence through an Order in Council. It took the government close to two years to appoint an interim executive director to a permanent position. My question to the minister is, why is everything proceeding so slowly when it comes to the Office of African Nova Scotian Affairs? Do you really have a priority for this important part of our community?

HON. BARRY BARNET: Mr. Speaker, what the member opposite did not say was that there was a minister appointed and responsible for the Office of African Nova Scotian Affairs in August 2003. During all of that time, until now, I have worked diligently on behalf of African Nova Scotians to ensure that their interests are heard here in the House and at caucus and the Cabinet Table. I think that's a positive thing for African Nova Scotians. I think it's a positive step forward in resolving many outstanding issues that that community has faced.

[Page 8517]

MR. COLWELL: There are almost 20,000 African Nova Scotians living in 48 communities across this province. The 2005-06 business plan indicated that a process of establishing the first of four satellite offices throughout our province will not start until 2009, eight years after the communities' request. For African Nova Scotians living in rural Nova Scotia, their ability to access services in their community will not happen for at least another four or five years. Why is it taking this government another four or five years to fulfill their promise of having regional representation for African Nova Scotian offices?

MR. BARNET: Mr. Speaker, we established the Office of African Nova Scotian Affairs based on broad consultation. The community itself was the one that recommended the direction we went in. What I would point out to the member opposite, what he failed to point out in his comments, is that access to the Office of African Nova Scotian Affairs is not just access to the office but to the people who work there. Those people will be out working in the communities across Nova Scotia each and every day. That's how we will ensure that communities across this province get fair and reasonable access to the office.

MR. COLWELL: Mr. Speaker, government members have said they were interested in making this office and all it stands for a priority. What we are seeing is a difference from what we are hearing. This has become an exceptionally slow process. It appears that this government has no priority when it comes to the African Nova Scotian community. The facts speak for themselves. Given that the first regional office will not open for another five years, will you at least provide the necessary resources to immediately establish a toll-free number for all African Nova Scotians within the province?

MR. BARNET: Mr. Speaker, the member is incorrect. The first satellite office will open within five years. Also, the member is a little bit too late, we do have a toll-free number that is available to all Nova Scotians so that they can access our office. As well, as I indicated earlier, our office was based on broad consultation with the communities. We will continue to do that, in fact myself as a minister, CAO, has done that, and our staff will continue to do that. We have made several trips around the province meeting all African Nova Scotians in their communities and we'll continue to do that to ensure that they have access to our office.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants East.

NAT. RES. - TOBEATIC WILD. AREA: ATVs - PROTECT

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, my question will be for the Minister of Natural Resources. Recently this government was being brought to task by one of its own, the mayor of the region of Queens, a former Tory Cabinet Minister, John Leefe, for this government's inaction on protecting the Tobeatic Wilderness area. To quote Mr. Leefe, "The government is dragging its feet." So I would have thought that this minister would have learned his lesson last Spring when he tried to list the sanctuaries and wildlife management areas that the people of this province, and particularly in rural Nova Scotia, are serious about

[Page 8518]

protecting, and he would have tabled a report that respected that fact and that lesson. So my question to the minister is, why did he produce a weak and evasive report that fails to protect the areas like Tobeatic from ATV traffic?

HON. RICHARD HURLBURT: Mr. Speaker, through you to the member opposite, I would like to inform the member that yesterday after Question Period I had the opportunity to meet with the Ecology Action group. I met with four members of that group. We had an excellent dialogue. They gave me some points that they asked me if I would review. I made a commitment to that group that I would address that. They're in the audience today. I will make the commitment here again on this floor that we will address those, but we have laws in this province and my enforcement officers are out there enforcing those laws now. Since June 1st, 231 offences have been laid under the Off-highway Vehicles Act.

MR. MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, he's a minister. I'm not sure why he's getting so exercised, you would think the Opposition would. In this government's so-called plan on off-highway vehicles there are many things that they failed to do, including protecting the interests of private landowners. One of the recommendations of the task force is that they refused to implement deals with the need to seek written permission from private landowners for ATV access to their land as well as a requirement for a visible licence plate. With roughly 75 per cent of lands in Nova Scotia in private hands, this seems to make a great deal of sense. So can the minister explain to the House why he believes the right of ATV users supercedes those of private landowners in Nova Scotia?

MR. HURLBURT: Mr. Speaker, I really believe that some members of the two Opposition Parties should come to my office and I will have my staff do a power-point presentation to those members so they understand the action plan of this government. The action plan is very clear. It protects private landowners better than it ever has before. It has been open and transparent, and we're looking at sensitive areas and our protected wilderness areas. We're looking for the health and welfare of the citizens of our province. That's open and transparent, and we stick by the action plan of this government.

MR. MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, the minister's transparency is not clear to me. I have to say how is it that he can brag about enforcement officers who are enforcing the laws that he refused to write?

My final supplementary will go to the Premier. The task force spent the equivalent of over 1,000 working days meeting with various stakeholders before completing their report. In the end, only six recommendations were accepted, 31 were gutted, and 2 more were deferred for future consideration. How can the Premier continue to ask volunteers and the public to participate in the public process when his government appears to be prepared to disregard and, in fact, reject the recommendations of well-respected individuals such as those who worked so hard as members of this task force?

[Page 8519]

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I refer that to the minister responsible. (Interruptions)

MR. HURLBURT: Mr. Speaker, I'll stay cool, I promise. Our task force that worked for this province and all the citizens did an excellent job for this province and this government. The department worked very hard for months on the recommendations of the task force. We found a balanced approach which they cannot understand. If I may, I would like to read a letter I received today. I'm sure all members of this House . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I will allow the honourable minister to read from it, but not read the whole letter, please. Thank you. Just a few comments.

MR. HURLBURT: I'm sure every member of this House has had an association with Ducks Unlimited Canada.

The letter reads, "Dear Minister Hurlburt: I would like to congratulate you and your government colleagues for your commitment to an Action Plan on the Final Report and Recommendations of the Voluntary Planning Task Force on Off-highway Vehicles . . ." Mr. Speaker, one more line, "I am particularly pleased with recommendation #35 . . . This will help protect Nova Scotia's wetlands. Over the past thirty-five years, Ducks Unlimited Canada has invested more than . . . $24 million . . ." in this province. That's a response that this minister and this government is getting. (Applause)

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

EDUC. - C.B.-VICTORIA REG. SCH. BD.: CLOSURES - DETAILS

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, my question is not for the Minister of Natural Resources, my question is for the Minister of Education. Recently the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board announced that four schools within its jurisdiction were up for review for possible closure. One of those schools is the Marion Bridge School. I would ask the minister if he is aware of that particular situation with the board and has he or any officials within his department had any discussions with the board on these proposed school closings?

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I am personally familiar with the Marion Bridge School, and a number of years ago had been in it. From time to time under the Education Act, and it's controlled under the Education Act, if boards for one reason or another think that certain schools are becoming surplus to their needs - I'm talking normally because of declining enrolment - then there is a process which the board has to follow which includes community consultation before any closure or decision can be made. In the case of the Marion Bridge School, the school board has designated schools - there are four in the Cape Breton-Victoria board and, by the way, that decision is not final. The honourable member did mention this to me the other day. I did go to my department, but I have not heard back.

[Page 8520]

I do know that in the case of the Marion Bridge School, one of the points that he raised, which I'm sure the board will take a look at, is that the population of that school actually has increased this year.

MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, the minister is absolutely correct. Not only has the population of the school increased this year, but it's projected to increase again next year from 98 to 112. The province and the municipality has spent over $80,000 putting a new playground in at the school this year, as well as an additional $10,000 for the music program. So, what I would ask the minister is, would he be diligent in the course of his duty to impress upon the board the need to keep that particular school open in the upcoming year?

[4:30 p.m.]

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, as the honourable member knows, the decision to close or not close a school which is under review is made after a lengthy consultation with all those affected. I will tell the honourable member that I will guarantee that an appropriate process will be followed with respect to all four schools that were suggested in the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board, if the board does make the decision to go ahead with a review.

MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, my question to the minister is, would the minister be kind enough to elaborate as to the parameters of that process as it relates to the Department of Education, the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board and the community?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, the process is outlined in the Education Act. I would be happy to provide a copy of those guidelines to the honourable member before this House sits tomorrow.

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

AGRIC. & FISH. - CLEARWATER: N. SYDNEY PLANT - PLANS

MR. GERALD SAMPSON: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries. On Friday, October 14th, the Clearwater Fine Foods plant in North Sydney laid off 40 workers from its prime cut line. Forty jobs have now escalated to 55. There are 15 non-union workers, the sanitation cleanup crew, maintenance crew and casuals. That's 55 jobs from a staggering economy. Clearwater, it appears, is trying to merge with SPI in Newfoundland and Labrador. Mr. Risley tried to buy SPI in Newfoundland and Labrador, and failed and is now on the board down there. So it looks like he's taking the whole process, lock, stock and barrel, over a period of time, to Newfoundland and Labrador. My question to the minister is, what plans have you made to help recently unemployed workers from Clearwater's plant in North Sydney?

[Page 8521]

HON. CHRISTOPHER D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, as the member well knows, it is very saddening to see 40 jobs lost out of the market in North Sydney. We've been working very hard with the member from North Sydney to try to mitigate the problem there. As the member opposite knows, the prime-cut operation had been shut down due to cost competitiveness there. They were unable to process that product at a reasonable rate, and it was decided that there would be 40-odd jobs lost at the North Sydney site, as well as 26 jobs in Grand Banks, Newfoundland and Labrador.

MR. GERALD SAMPSON: Mr. Speaker, this government has recently given $3.5 million to Ocean Nutrition Canada in Dartmouth, another company of Mr. Risley's, and it was announced as a business decision. I'm wondering, did this government ask for any business decisions in favour of the 40 workers who were laid off in return for the $3.5 million rather than just giving it away. Having Newfoundland roots, I have to compliment the Newfoundlanders, because, oh man, they're some good at getting us the money for the offshore oil and now, here they are (Interruptions) They got a better business deal in processing our clams in Newfoundland and Labrador. They're some good. I'd like to know, what does this government expect in return from Ocean Nutrition and Clearwater for the jobs that are lost, or have they made any business decision?

MR. D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, I'll start off by saying that what we do want from Clearwater right now is to maintain the jobs that are left in North Sydney, to make sure that the canning operation is maintained and expanded as they feel that that market should expand into the future. We hope that more jobs will be created in North Sydney. As far as the Ocean Nutrition piece, I would refer that to the Minister of Economic Development.

HON. ERNEST FAGE: Mr. Speaker, what I can tell the House is that on this side of the House we know the difference between $830 million and $640 million on the offshore agreement. (Interruptions) I can also tell the member opposite that Ocean Nutrition will create over 500 new jobs in Nova Scotia and protect 167 jobs in rural Nova Scotia, in Mulgrave and other locations, and that's very positive for the economy of Nova Scotia.

MR. GERALD SAMPSON: Mr. Speaker, I'll respond to that by saying that this Newfoundland-rooted person knows bloody well he can thank Danny Williams. The MLA for Cape Breton North has been referred to as the Minister of Fisheries as working with him to do what he can for these workers. The minister from Cape Breton North has known about this since March. The plant with 40 jobs. The minister from Cape Breton North has said, on one hand I'm going to find jobs for the 40 workers. On the other hand, he says he can't interfere because it's a business decision. In between the two hands, he has presented a document in the House of 2,500 names on a petition in favour of these workers.

Now, Mr. Speaker, I'm going to apologize before I say what I am going to say . . .

[Page 8522]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Will the honourable member put his question, please.

MR. GERALD SAMPSON: Mr. Speaker, I'm going to refer the minister to either listen to the song of Randy Travis saying, on the other hand, or refer him to a man who made public statements of washing his hands of everything called, Pontius Pilot.

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

MR. GERALD SAMPSON: Mr. Speaker, these people need somebody to stand up for them. So my final question to the minister is, will the government commit to finding jobs for these recently unemployed workers because they need somebody to stand up for them?

MR. D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, you could hardly tell who that was directed at. Quite honestly, of course this was a business decision. We are working hard to make sure that the operation in North Sydney does continue, that it does thrive, by the long and hard work by the minister from Cape Breton North. All our agencies are on the ground to make sure that these workers will be protected into the future.

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

ENVIRON. & LBR. - COW BAY LAKE: WATER LOTS - SALE PREVENT

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Environment and Labour. I want to start by saying that in my riding there is a local developer who is trying to bypass the local municipal bylaws by selling in part, water lots, in order to be able to avoid the subdivision rules. This is on Cow Bay Lake in my constituency. This is an important watershed in the HRM area, because many of the lakes in the Dartmouth area and to name a few, Morris Lake, Bissett Lake and Russell Lake, flow into Cow Bay Lake before it leaves into the ocean. So this is a watershed that has come under extreme pressure in the past number of years with development around those lakes. I want to ask this Minister of Environment and Labour, can he tell us what is he prepared to do to ensure that a local developer is not able to sell off water lots that are probably Crown land?

HON. KERRY MORASH: Mr. Speaker, I think one of the comments made was that we had a developer who was trying to go around municipal bylaws. Certainly that's an issue that can be dealt with, but not directly dealt with by me. We are certainly looking at making sure that developers act responsibly with regard to water lots or Crown lots and those types of things. Certainly the legal people will take a look at that and I believe there is some correspondence that has gone to the honourable member to give him some advice in that direction.

[Page 8523]

MR. DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, I'm going to table that correspondence. The minister was good enough to send me a letter. This is an issue because the letter itself does say that this is clearly Crown land. My concern is that saying it's Crown land and taking positive action to protect it is a different thing. While this letter clearly states that we believe this is Crown land, the problem is, this developer is still advertising. This developer still has signs up selling these lots. I guess my question to the minister is, what positive action is he prepared to take, beyond writing a letter saying, don't worry, it's our land, it's Crown land? I want to know what action this minister's department is prepared to do to stop this developer from advertising and trying to sell these water lots?

MR. MORASH: Mr. Speaker, I can certainly assure the member opposite that the minister responsible for Crown land and I will discuss this issue and get back to him with our results.

MR. DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, I want to go to the Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations, who I believe is in charge of the Registry of Deeds. This has become an issue because the developer has actually filed with the new Registry of Deeds electronic system, an affidavit saying that this is his. That he owns these, owns this water lot claiming a pre-Confederation grant. The point is that under the Registry of Deeds, there's going to be a dispute. Someone is going to buy these lots and they're going to argue that they have bought a legitimate lot and under the Registry of Deeds there's clearly some sign that this developer has a claim to this land and that concerns me. It's going to result in a lot of legal wrangling over a lot of years. So I want to ask the Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations, what can he do to ensure that the Registry of Deeds cannot be used as a means to try to make unsubstantiated claims on Crown land?

MR. BARNET: Mr. Speaker, filing of such a claim does not create a legal right to a property owner. There's still a requirement for purchasers to hire a lawyer, ensure that clear title is there. That exists now. What I will say to the member opposite though, there is a requirement for all developers to follow all laws in the Province of Nova Scotia and if there are loopholes, we'll find ways to close those.

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

ECON. DEV. - WEYMOUTH SAWMILL:

CLOSURE - EMPLOYEES ASSIST

MR. HAROLD THERIAULT: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Economic Development. In July 2005, J.D. Irving Limited announced the closure of the Weymouth sawmill in Weymouth, Nova Scotia. This closure will negatively affect the lives of the people in Weymouth and the surrounding communities at the end of this month. My question to the minister is, what steps have been made by your government to help the almost 40 people who will lose their jobs due to the closure of this sawmill?

[Page 8524]

HON. ERNEST FAGE: Mr. Speaker, the member is correct, it's very unfortunate in any community, and especially a rural community, when jobs are lost. Certainly J.D. Irving is a private company and the business case was tough for them on the operation there. The resources of our department are there and we are working with groups in the local community in looking at other opportunities, and we'll continue to do so.

MR. THERIAULT: Mr. Speaker, as with all rural communities in Nova Scotia, local economic development is a difficult task. Most communities in Nova Scotia are getting smaller because of the lack of economic development initiatives by this government. My question to the minister, what action plan does the government have to ensure that in the future, communities like Weymouth do not have to wait on this government's slow response to sudden unemployment?

MR. FAGE: Mr. Speaker, as I referred to in the first supplementary, it is unfortunate that the private company, J. D. Irving, decided to close this operation because of the business case that was in front of them. Part of their plan and ability to deal with this situation, a number of the employees were offered transfers and they continue to have a presence in the area with the lands and the operation. We at Economic Development are working with local authorities, our staff, continuing to seek other opportunities and avenues of employment for the people involved, as all rural communities.

MR. THERIAULT: Mr. Speaker, there is a growing number of young people leaving the small communities of this province in search of employment, and I believe a lot of these people from Weymouth will be leaving this province, period. It clearly shows that this government is not doing enough for our rural areas. My question to the minister, what economic plan does your government have to help our youth stay in Nova Scotia and provide a sustainable future here for the good of our children and the good of the province?

[4:45 p.m.]

MR. FAGE: Thank you very much for the question, because I think the honourable member has raised two important things for rural Nova Scotia and all of Nova Scotia. Firstly, the key is education and training, and with the investment of the $123 million in our community college system those training opportunities are there to teach trades and upgrade the skills of all younger Nova Scotians and provide more opportunity. The proof that supporting things like high-speed broadband Internet throughout Nova Scotia's rural areas, southwest, where companies avail themselves of that opportunity to locate operations throughout Nova Scotia, and companies in that particular southwest region of Nova Scotia are doing that. It has created the situation, as all members of the House realize, of the lowest unemployment rates in Nova Scotia in 30 years, recorded last month. I would say the plan is working.

[Page 8525]

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

ENVIRON. & LBR. - GABARUS PROTECTED LAND: USAGE - DETAILS

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Environment and Labour. In the mid-1970s, the Province of Nova Scotia expropriated some 3,000 acres for the construction of a steel plant in the Village of Gabarus. Since then that obviously hasn't materialized, but the province has put that particular piece of real estate under the Special Places Protection Act. As a result of that, many of the local residents are now prohibited from travelling to what was once know as Gull Cove Village of the original Gabarus Village. It was the first village in that area, prior to the existing Gabarus Village, and it was abandoned in the 1920s. My question to the minister is, why is his department now prohibiting local residents from being able to traverse that particular roadway going from the existing Gabarus Village to the Gull Cove Village, which is about 5.5 miles long?

HON. KERRY MORASH: Mr. Speaker, the reason for that at this point in time would be that in 1989 an Act was passed in this House that prohibited that from taking place. Certainly there are some considerations that could be made or might be made in the future with regard to a thoroughfare road, or if we had a group of citizens who were willing to enter into an agreement with the department with regard to monitoring and maintaining the road, and committing to do any activities and remain on the road.

MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, I thank the minister for his response. Unfortunately, approximately one month ago the minister sent a letter to the local residents indicating that they would not be able to travel there using their four-wheel drives or ATVs or what have you. In light of the fact that there is some consideration for community groups to be able to take responsibility, with the collaboration and support of the department, will the minister be kind enough to direct his staff to, once again, visit the issue with the local residents group in an effort to be able to resolve this issue?

MR. MORASH: Yes, that's certainly something that I will commit to do.

MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, as well on that particular issue, it's important to note for the record that the province and the federal government have allocated a considerable amount of money, dating back as far as 1999, to keep that road upgraded. I would ask if the minister would again impress upon his staff, when visiting this issue, the need to keep the status quo as the residents, particularly senior citizens, like to visit Gull Cove daily?

[Page 8526]

MR. MORASH: Mr. Speaker, we certainly will take that into consideration when we do the review.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou West.

AGRIC. & FISH.: OIL & GAS EXPLORATION/FISHERIES - BALANCE

MR. CHARLES PARKER: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries. Last week in the media there were reports concerning the potential for Hunt Oil to do seismic testing off Cape Breton. The problem, as I see it, is these oil companies that want to do the exploration turn to the Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Board and apply for permission to conduct these surveys, but there does not appear to be any balance when it comes to the people involved in the fisheries. My question to the minister is, what are you doing to balance the concerns of fishing interests with the demand for oil and gas exploration in our offshore areas?

HON. CHRISTOPHER D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, the question is a valid one, one we watch on a very close basis. But, as you underlined in your question, that is a matter for the CNSOPB, and it might be better to ask the Minister of Energy as we discuss this quite often.

HON. CECIL CLARKE: Mr. Speaker, I want to assure the honourable member that we have been very mindful of the impacts on the environment and the fishery. As well to the fact of recent reports that something is being fast-tracked, that's just not the case. The government is very mindful of the need for consultation and the role of the board is complete.

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

The honourable member for Cape Breton South on an introduction.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I'd like to bring to the attention of the members of the House some visitors in the west gallery and also in the Speaker's Gallery, four distinguished business people and distinguished citizens, actually, from Cape Breton and more particularly from Cape Breton South. I'd like to welcome Andy Pittman, Jimmy Kehoe, Robert Sampson and Hughie Tweedie to the House today. They're up here visiting with some Cabinet Ministers and I expect their visit here today will be very beneficial to all parties. I would ask them to stand and receive the warm welcome of the House. (Applause)

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

The honourable member for Hants East.

[Page 8527]

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, I'd like to draw the member's attention in the Speaker's Gallery to a young gentleman, Alexander MacDonald, who is observing events today. Mr. MacDonald is the Outreach Coordinator with the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, and I would like him to receive a warm welcome. (Applause)

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

OPPOSITION MEMBERS' BUSINESS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Liberal House Leader.

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

PRIVATE MEMBERS' PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Liberal House Leader.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 175.

Bill No. 175 - Needle Safety Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Glace Bay.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Glace Bay): Mr. Speaker, I'm pleased to rise and begin debate on Bill No. 175, the Needle Safety Act.

Let me state for the record from the outset that I hope this is a bill that will continue to be debated and eventually passed because this is the right thing to do. For the record, I would also like to acknowledge the hard work and dedication of Service Employees International Union that they have lent to the issue of needle sticks safety. As well, the Nova Scotia Nurses' Union have also lent their support to this bill as have the Nova Scotia Government Employees Union.

This is not an issue about union support, which union supports what bills, it's also not an issue about politics or which political Party brought this issue forward first. This is an issue of safety. These are the very issues that should be debated here in this Legislature and supported in legislation.

Actually, the government is being presented with a huge opportunity today - the opportunity to be a national leader when it comes to protecting health care workers in this province. Manitoba gave Royal Assent to legislation that mandates the use of safety-engineered needles on June 9, 2005. This Friday, Saskatchewan will bring into force

[Page 8528]

regulations that will make the use of safety needles mandatory. British Columbia is working with health unions and authorities through the Workers' Compensation Board that will see the use of safety needles mandatory there as well. So, the Province of Nova Scotia truly has the opportunity at this point in time to be a leader rather than a follower.

Any time you have a bill that will provide safer workplaces and reduce stress on health care employees and save the health care system money, in the long run you have a win/win/win situation.

It's estimated that 1,350 acute care health care workers in this province are accidentally stuck with needles every year. There are about 190 estimated needle stick injuries every day in this country and about 69,719 is the estimated number of needle stick injuries in Canada every year. The costs associated with testing and treating needle stick injuries in acute care alone are huge. The cost estimated to completely convert all acute care workplaces in Nova Scotia to safety-engineered devices estimated at $830,000 is the minimum amount that this government would save by replacing conventional needles in acute care after reaching an 82 per cent drop in injuries.

As I said, it's an issue of health and safety in the workplace. There are 33 known blood-borne pathogens resulting in many serious illnesses like hepatitis B, hepatitis C and HIV, which we can do better to protect our health care workers. Those are blood-borne diseases that are associated when an accident - I guess you could call it an accident, that's usually what they are - occurs. Those injuries cost the health care system a minimum of $2,000 to just treat the disease. It doesn't include the cost associated with lost time, not even to mention the stress that's placed on the workers and their families once this sort of incident occurs, Mr. Speaker - a needle-stick injury. Every time a health care worker is stuck, someone has to come in and provide coverage for that employee while they are going through all the testing and treatment.

Now, Mr. Speaker, earlier today, the minister made a comment with respect to the fact that every time new technology becomes available, it doesn't necessarily mean that you have to convert to that new technology. Well, if technology reduces both stress for the employees and their families, and it reduces costs to the health care system and creates a safer work environment, then you have technology that's worth using. Legislation, in this case, would work. It would make it mandatory to use safer equipment. In our research, the more of that equipment that's purchased, for instance by district health authorities, the cheaper the costs. So again, in the long run, you have a cost saving for the health care system.

Mr. Speaker, you have probably seen the spring-loaded syringes. They actually have a spring in them that retracts the sharp into the end of the barrel. As I mentioned, in other jurisdictions they've seen dramatic injury reduction with the use of this. Another example is in the United States. They've had a law in place since 2000-01 that saw a reduction in the United States of over 50 per cent, about 51 per cent in injuries, and only 25 per cent of the

[Page 8529]

facilities were in compliance in the first year. So those numbers are huge. If you applied them to Canada, I would suggest they would be even bigger.

The fancy name is safety-engineered medical sharp devices, or they're called SMSDs. Mr. Speaker, as a matter of fact, this bill says that depending on what the government wanted them to be used for, they could be used in acute-care facilities. They could be used in nursing homes. They could be used in ambulances. They could be used in any place or work place where it's involved that you would be using syringes, or whatever the case may be. The protection to the workers is obvious, I think, to anyone in this Chamber. We've also seen examples where sharps and that are found dumped in garbages or wherever they may be. If these were the only needles that were being used in this province, perhaps we wouldn't run into the cases that we've run into in the past, where innocent people are injured by sharps that they've discovered in garbage, or abandoned or washed up on beaches or the numerous things that happen to that kind of medical waste that's there. We could avoid that as well.

Sometimes, Mr. Speaker, in making an argument, you can lose an argument by using a lot of numbers. The numbers alone that are used here, with only about a $1.3 million investment, the estimated cost that would completely convert all acute-care work places in this province, the safety-engineered devices with that cost alone, as I said, the minium-estimated amount that the government will save by doing that is about $830,000 a year. As you can see, you don't have to use your brain too much to understand that after awhile that would translate into a huge long-term saving.

As I mentioned, it's not a question that we're looking to see what union came forward first, what political Party put forward this issue first. This is an issue that makes common sense, and this is an issue that anyone involved in the industry will tell you, as the Service Employees International Union has said, as the Nova Scotia Government & General Employees Union has said, the Nova Scotia Nurses' Union has said, this is an idea whose time has come in this province. We need not lag behind the other provinces any longer.

[5:00 p.m.]

We've been told it has been proven. We have the facts that this will work. This will save lives. This will make it safer for the workers in this province to be in a health care industry workplace and at least have some assurance that at least one part of their job will be safer, that they probably will not be stuck by a sharp during that job because of the use of these safety devices. Again, it's a huge opportunity for the government today to take a stand here and say we're moving forward.

Mr. Speaker, if that means that we move forward in another way, then fine. Tell us. Tell us which way we're moving forward, when we're going to get there, and when eventually this province is going to make mandatory the use of safety-engineered needles. That would make us as a caucus, that would make us as individual members of this

[Page 8530]

Legislature, very happy indeed. We would love to hear from the government today which, of course, we will shortly. How much time do I have remaining?

AN HON. MEMBER: Mr. Speaker, the time has passed.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Glace Bay): I could keep going, but I was waiting for the Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Yes, your time has expired.

The honourable Minister of Environment and Labour.

HON. KERRY MORASH: Mr. Speaker, I'm very pleased to stand to say a few words on what certainly is a very serious and topical issue. I also will be sharing my time with the Minister of Health. I heard about this issue many, many years ago and it was something that surprised me. I didn't work in the health field and when I realized that needle sticks were such an issue in the health care industry, it was really quite surprising. As someone who wasn't involved, I just assumed that everything would be taken care of in a manner in which needle sticks wouldn't be an issue, wouldn't be a safety concern, and wouldn't be a hazard among employees. I realized at that point in time that they were and that was quite some time ago, as I said.

This was brought to the department's attention by an industry group made up by major manufacturers of medical devices and by some of the unions in the health care sector in the Summer of 2003. Certainly from a departmental point of view, we considered this to be a very significant issue and considered it to be significant enough to warrant bringing it to the attention of our Occupational Health and Safety Advisory Council. That's a council that has been put in place with joint representation to give advice on legislation and on matters similar to this. So the council has a number of items on their agenda and this is certainly one of them. They are doing some work, I guess from my point of view, and have been looking into this very serious issue.

I advised the advisory council and the national group called the Alliance for Sharps Safety and Needlestick Prevention, and they have been gathering information and doing some research to ensure that we have all the latest information that's out there. Certainly the Alliance for Sharps Safety and Needlestick Prevention is drawing national attention to the issue. That's certainly something that is important when you look at something that is of this significance and of this magnitude. The Alliance for Sharps Safety and Needlestick Prevention wishes to minimize injuries in the health care setting from needles and sharps and that's really what we're looking at. We certainly want to be able to do that. I certainly commend them on the initiative that they've taken. They've been very professional. They have certainly found out some very informative information, a packet of which I believe

[Page 8531]

everybody was handed today and has in their possession and had some of that information earlier as well.

We can also always raise the profile of health and safety in the workplace and any time we can do that, that's a very positive thing. I can say, unfortunately, I see numbers that are alarming to all of us in this House. We still have a lot of people being injured and reports going through to Workers' Compensation in the run of a year, not just in the health sector, but in all sectors. I think we run around 37,000 injuries, or recorded injuries in the run of a year and of those, 9,000 are lost time in the Province of Nova Scotia and we don't have a large workforce. I don't think we should be having that number of accidents. So anything we can do together to promote safety is certainly extremely important. I believe the educational value of that will determine that we can reduce the number of injuries that we have. So creating the awareness about hazards certainly makes companies and individuals look at additional hazards that we have in the workplace. Of course, one of the things you have to do before you can work to prevent a hazard or control a hazard is identify it. In this case it's pretty straightforward, what the issue is, and that does make it clearer, with regard to looking at ways for elimination.

Now with regard to eliminating any hazard in the workplace, there's always the engineering aspect that you'd look at, there's also administrative aspects that you'd look at, educational and otherwise, and it really will take a full and rounded approach in order for us to reduce accidents in all workplaces - and that's also true with regard to the health field.

In September 2003, the Occupational Health and Safety Division issued a hazard alert on needle sticks, and that was something that is part of a program that we have. When something comes to our attention, there are occasions when we can educate people and we can make sure that we've communicated and make sure that we have something that is ready for a bulletin board or a safety meeting, a joint committee meeting, or other meetings that would take place to promote safety in the workplace and promote those kinds of discussions.

The other part, from my point of view standing here, not being in the medical profession I'm not sure that I'm fully aware of the range of jobs that take place where sharps are involved and how one, two, or three different methods would control that. I think we have many, many discussions that have to take place, and many unique cures that would have to take place to eliminate these risks.

The hazard alert identified that needle-stick injuries exposed workers, as the member opposite said, to a number of diseases, and they can certainly be very serious. I think it's really worthwhile repeating - this is a very serious issue and needs to be looked at by all involved. Workers who come in contact with needles are always at risk, and any time you use something that can be hazardous.

[Page 8532]

Health care workers certainly are the first group that jumped to my mind the first time I heard about this, many years ago. The groups that I didn't think of, because I was, I suppose, naive at that point in time, thinking that the methods that we had for containment of these sharps were foolproof or 100 per cent, but I've realized since then that certainly cleaners, janitors, custodians, and the people who handle this material and waste and get it to its final resting place are also people who can be exposed and at risk.

The hazard alert we've also put on the department Web site, to make sure that it is available to even more people who might be there. We want to help employers and employees educate themselves on the issue. As I said, there may be a number of other things that need to be done as well to ensure that we have all the information out there and that we have the people working in different areas looking at the best possible solutions, and some of the unique solutions that I'm sure we wouldn't think of here today.

I'm encouraged that the Occupational Health and Safety Advisory Council is reviewing the matter and they are going to give some advice to me. We've compiled information on the frequency of needle sticks in the province by using Workers' Compensation data, and the number suggests that approximately 500 needle sticks occur each year in the Province of Nova Scotia. I believe that corresponds with the information and statistics of the member opposite. For these Nova Scotians, we certainly know that we have to be looking into this issue.

I understand that the council is still awaiting some additional information and has been in contact with the Department of Health, has received some information and may be waiting for some additional information on a status update from Health on the information that Health has collected so far. I think it's fair and needs to be said that to stand here today and say that the medical profession or the Department of Health or the district health authorities aren't out there working every day to try to prevent needle sticks would be an understatement. That's their job, that's their legal requirement, that's their moral obligation, and I know that we have great people out there in the medical profession and health profession.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Sackville-Cobequid): Mr. Speaker, it is definitely a privilege for me to stand and speak on this important bill because I think it's dealing with the workplace safety, especially the workplace safety of our health care professionals in this province.

I'm fortunate enough to represent many of my colleagues in Nova Scotia as a former health care professional, as a paramedic in this province, and I can honestly say that for once it's great for me to stand here in my place and say that paramedics have played an important role, especially around workplace safety in Nova Scotia, in the environment that paramedics

[Page 8533]

find themselves working in this province. In our profession, we have these in place now. Fortunately for us, government in this province did place under the control of an outside agency, the management of the paramedic service, the ambulance service.

I want to thank many of the paramedics who have fought over the years to pressure our company and government to recognize our profession and to recognize that things need to change to hopefully make the environment and the safety of our job and our profession better and to improve over the years.

As I said, we do use these safety-engineered sharps presently in our province - all the paramedics in the province use these devices, the IVs, the catheters, ones that we call protective catheters when we're putting IVs into Nova Scotians throughout this province. I think by recognizing the need to do this for EHS, the ambulance service in this province, government needs to look at and take a leadership role in this, in providing these safety devices for all health care professionals. There shouldn't be any difference in health care professionals - if it's a paramedic, nurse, doctor, therapist, whoever's involved in providing care for Nova Scotians. They should have the same rights and privileges as every individual in this province to work in a safe environment.

I have to applaud the Service Employees International Union for their campaign, not only here in the province but throughout the country. They've done a great job. They've been here on many occasions outside this Legislature promoting the fact that we need to address this issue, the issue of needle sticks in our health care profession. It's an important thing that we need to address. I don't know if the Minister of Health or the Minister of Environment and Labour have witnessed or talked to health care professionals who have endured the agony and the stress put upon them when they have a needle stick. It happens - especially in my profession as a paramedic. We find ourselves in ditches and cars in small, cramped areas trying to provide life-saving services to Nova Scotians.

Nurses, doctors and health care providers do the same job, maybe in a different setting, but they do the same job in trying to provide proper health care to Nova Scotians. As a government, they need to recognize there's no difference between health care professionals in this province and that they need to be able to have access to the same material, the same safety devices that people across the country have. This government needs to take a leadership role in this, follow the advice of those good governments out West, the NDP governments of Manitoba and Saskatchewan. They've brought in legislation to deal with this, to ensure that their health care professionals in their province are protected.

It's not just the health care professionals that we need to protect, it's the families of these health care providers. I've been fortunate enough in my career not to have a needle stick, but many of my colleagues, my friends, have. It's unbelievable the anguish and stress put on them wondering what's going to happen. Wondering if they, because they had a mistake, an accident, and stuck themselves, potentially might incur these diseases that can

[Page 8534]

be transmitted through a needle stick; diseases like HIV Aids, hepatitis A, hepatitis C. These are diseases that will cost this province thousands and thousands of dollars to try to cure these people, to provide them with treatment after the fact.

That's why this government needs to take a leadership role in prevention in this case. These are preventable. I've used them myself. It's something that should be automatic, when industry comes forward with a better tool, to give health care providers the added safety and insurance that they won't be infected by these terrible diseases, Mr. Speaker. It's a very simple thing. At first, I know, as a paramedic, it was hard to adjust to the new usages of these IVs, but after a little while of practising with them, they're second nature. I was fortunate enough to be able to use those towards the end of my career, before I took my leave of absence.

[5:15 p.m.]

I know the number of needle sticks has gone down, definitely with concerns around the paramedics in this province. I think the same thing could happen if this government would choose to adopt this piece of legislation, and I challenge them, let's have a vote on this. I would love to say that I would have loved to have been the one to have brought this bill forward, be the leader in providing this piece of legislation and passing this legislation, but it doesn't matter if the member for Glace Bay brought this forward, it doesn't if the matter if the government brought this forward, it's a sensible piece of legislation. It's common sense and it's for the well-being of those individuals who dedicate their lives and their work here in the province to providing health care services to Nova Scotians.

I think that's why this government needs to really recognize this. I know the Minister of Environment and Labour stated that the Occupational Health and Safety Council will have a look at this, and they do a great job in this province. There are many recommendations from that council that are just left sitting on the shelves of Cabinet, on the shelves of government, and they don't enact these recommendations, Mr. Speaker. I think the Occupational Health and Safety Council will say that this is a right step. These safety-engineered catheters and IVs are a step that will hopefully prevent some of these unforeseen accidents in health care when it comes to needle sticks.

If we can save one person's life or save one person's ordeal of dealing with the potential of contracting one of these terrible diseases, like HIV, AIDS or hep C, Mr. Speaker, then it's well worth the dollars. The member for Glace Bay stated some of the quotes that the Service Employees International Union spoke about, about the amount of money that would be saved by health care if we could prevent some of these needle sticks in our province. I think it is preventable. I know the paramedics support the use of these safety devices on our trucks, and they support it in our hospitals and in our clinics around this province. There shouldn't be any difference in the environment that health care providers work in in this province, and that's the frustrating part. When you're dealing with the different aspects of

[Page 8535]

health care and those professions that do different jobs, there's always lines drawn in what they can have or what they can do.

I think this will cover everybody, Mr. Speaker. If it's good for the paramedics of this province, to be protected in their environment when they're providing services for Nova Scotians, health care for Nova Scotians, then it's good for the nurses in our ERs. It's good for our doctors in our ERs. It's good for any health care professional who finds themselves using these devices. I think it's upon this government to look at this, to enact bills and pass them through this Legislature that encourage and promote the safety of health care providers, especially in this province. It's a big issue. The Minister of Environment and Labour, his whole job, or a lot of his job, is to hopefully reduce those accidents we see in our industries in the province, and the cost that workers have on the health care system when they get injured.

I want to challenge the government to bring this back, approve this piece of legislation. If you want to bring your own bill in and change it, I would be more than happy to support this. Take a leadership role, follow those good governments out West, like the NDP Governments in Manitoba and Saskatchewan, and bring these safety devices into use for our health care providers, so that we can hopefully prevent even one person from having to deal with these terrible diseases that could occur if they have an unfortunate event, like a needle stick, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Annapolis.

MR. STEPHEN MCNEIL: Mr. Speaker, I'm pleased to stand and speak on Bill No. 175, the Needle Safety Act, and support my colleague, the member for Glace Bay, who has done a great job of keeping this issue in the forefront and taking it forward along with the support of the Service Employees International Union, the Nurses' Union, and unions across this province - and I would indeed say probably across the country - that are pushing in favour of this legislation not only happening here, but happening right across the country.

We end up talking in this House about so many pieces of legislation which are very complicated, and you wonder sometimes how they expect an individual who has been elected to come in here and deal with some of the stuff, but this is such a common-sense bill; it's such a common-sense issue. It's about the safety of Nova Scotians; it's about the safety of people in this province whom we call upon in our very darkest times, when we ask them to be ready to be called when we need their help and we need their support.

Quite often, Mr. Speaker, those times are dangerous times for them, and this is one opportunity for us, as legislators, to provide them with a tool that would help reduce some of that risk to them. The member for Sackville-Cobequid spoke about his experiences as a health care provider, and he speaks in this House quite passionately about his former

[Page 8536]

profession and the way that he dealt with that job, and also about his former colleagues who he's concerned about.

Mr. Speaker, the paramedics in this province use the safety needle, but what happens when, as we do in this province, we cross jurisdictions, you go from Annapolis into Halifax, we bring patients, and health care providers are crossing, paramedics go from their ambulance into OR rooms and into emergency rooms - what happens? They're protected in their ambulance, but what happens when they get into an OR where we know they're not using those, or in emergency rooms not using that safety needle? We're putting them at risk. They may feel somewhat secure because the company that is providing the service that they are involved with right now is leading our province, but you know we need to be more proactive.

We need to get out and say we value the role that you play in our society as health care professionals and we're going to do whatever we can do to make sure that the environment you are working in is safe so that you can go to work and your family members can know that you'll come home the same way you left. I listened with interest as the Minister of Environment and Labour spoke, I believe it was in August 2003,when they issued an alert causing some concerns around needle sticks.

Mr. Speaker, I'm not sure how much comfort all of us should feel when they issued an alert. We have before us an opportunity for the department to provide the workers in this province a chance to feel secure, or securer, at work. All of us know health care providers - all of us - I have loved ones who work in health care facilities across this province. Can you imagine one of them being stuck? Fortunately, I must say our family has been spared that trauma, but today when I listened in the bill briefing to Barb Lynch speak about being in Tideview Terrace, in Digby, about a co-worker who was stuck with a needle and she talked about the initial testing and how it took another three months, six months, 12 months, before they knew the results of those tests, and they had to go back and be retested. Well, I want all of us to consider if that was our loved one and we were waiting for those tests to come back, knowing full well we, as a province, could have spared that person that heartache, they could have spared that family the trauma of going through that.

Mr. Speaker, this is an opportunity for us to say to Nova Scotia health care workers, Nova Scotians in general - as my colleague said, the member for Glace Bay, needles are washing up in some cases on the shores of this province - it provides us an opportunity to provide safety to Nova Scotians, to say that we care about the job you are doing for us. You know, costs have been spoken about in this House, well, there are times when costs should not be a factor, quite frankly. As minimal a change that this will be, costs should not be a factor. When we take into fact that there are 190 estimated needle sticks a day in this country, I want us to take into account the cost that is being borne by Canadian taxpayers, particularly Nova Scotian taxpayers in our case, of lost time, of family members who need to take time

[Page 8537]

off work, of co-workers who are concerned that the person they have gone to work with for the last number of years, that they or their family is suffering.

Well, that transcends through that whole environment, Mr. Speaker, and it ends up being that we, as a society, bear the cost not only on the health side, but we do on the work side. We do in the fact that members of our community stay home from work because of the stress and because of the concern. We have an opportunity, as the member said, for us to be a leader in this country. I hope as we continue to move forward we look at this. We spoke today - sorry, it was spoken today in the bill briefing that this would be a cost up front for the Province of Nova Scotia of approximately $1.3 million. That's $1.3 million up front, of a $3.5 billion budget, I believe, in the Department of Health, which has grown $1 billion since the year 2000, 1999, it's a $1.3 billion investment to save $800,000 a year. In two years the taxpayers of Nova Scotia would have received back this initial investment, but equally as important we would have sent Nova Scotia health care workers to work in a much more secure environment.

You know there's been some suggestion that we should leave this up to the district health authorities. Well that's just completely unacceptable. This should be a policy which has spread across this province. It should be shown the leadership from the Department of Health, which should ensure that when a health care worker transfers from one district to another that they are protected, that they know when a nurse in Annapolis arrives in Halifax caring for a patient in an ambulance that she will know that her safety will be as valued as much in Halifax as it is in Annapolis, and when an ambulance attendant arrives in any emergency room in this province, they will realize that we care about them as much in that emergency room as we do in the ambulance.

Mr. Speaker, I've had the good fortune of working with the Minister of Health on the Pharmacare issue. I must say, and I want to say in this House how much I appreciated his support and leadership in ensuring that the issue that I brought forward to him around Pharmacare was dealt with in a timely manner because he believed that it was the right thing to do for Nova Scotians. I believe that the Minister of Health is a very fair man. I've seen him operate in this House and he shows as being a very fair man. (Interruption) The Minister of Environment and Labour who I have dealt with, not in that situation.

I want to tell you, Mr. Speaker, I have confidence and I would appeal to the Minister of Health's good sense. He believes in Nova Scotians and he does what's right for Nova Scotians, I must say to him, and I look forward to him taking this forward and coming back.

When you look at this bill, this bill is certainly in the best interests of Nova Scotians. Mr. Speaker, I would like to move second reading of this Bill No. 175 - the Needle Safety Act.

[Page 8538]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Health.

HON. ANGUS MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, I very much welcome the opportunity to speak on this legislation. I understand I have limited time left. I just want to say that we are co-operating and working very closely with the Occupational Health and Safety Advisory Council with respect to supplying them with the information that they need to make recommendations to us. We are waiting for those recommendations from the advisory council, and if that recommendation is such that there should be legislation, then we will work very closely with the Department and Environment and Labour in formulating that legislation. We will certainly take a look at the legislation the honourable member for Glace Bay brought forward, but we do want to have that consultation completed.

However, I can tell the House, Mr. Speaker, that I have asked the Department of Health to be prepared, in any event, to come forward with policies that are appropriate to be employed throughout the health care system with respect to the issue of advanced technologies relative to the issue of needle sticks, and whether or not there is legislation. I can assure the House that there will be appropriate policies put in place by the Department of Health with respect to this matter, and we will work toward that.

I want to clear up one point where the honourable member for Glace Bay suggested that I had said earlier that we should not respond to new technologies. My statement, and I appreciate that he may not have understood it, but my statement, Mr. Speaker, was that we can't put forward . . .

[5:30 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Your time has expired. Thank you.

The Acting Liberal House Leader.

MR. STEPHEN MCNEIL: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 223.

Bill No. 223 - Nova Scotia Power Rate Application Act, 2005.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Preston.

MR. KEITH COLWELL: Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of this bill, and on the ever-growing energy costs we're facing in Nova Scotia today and the fact that Nova Scotia Power has already been granted one rate increase this year. It would be very unfortunate and very difficult for many Nova Scotians to pay for another rate increase in the same year.

[Page 8539]

I realize, of course, that Nova Scotia Power, like all of us, have factors that increase their costs as they do business, unfortunately for many people in the community, their income is fixed. Even if someone is working, their income is typically fixed for the year. If they're faced with another hefty increase in their power bills, along with the increase in gasoline prices and oil prices and property taxes and everything else that tends to go up every year, they will soon be in an untenable position where they can't possibly pay all the bills. Then what happens? Someone could lose their home, which I've seen in my own constituency. Someone could get so far in debt that even if they win the lottery, they may not get out. What really happens?

Then you look at Nova Scotia Power. Nova Scotia Power is a monopoly in this province, an absolute monopoly. They control the power, they control when you get it, the service levels you get, and everything else. The service levels in the last couple of years, quite honestly, have been absolutely bordering on ridiculous, to say the least. They haven't really provided the services that they should provide in a timely manner. So until they get those things addressed, and until they stop investing money outside of Nova Scotia, that Nova Scotians are helping to pay for - I'm not against Nova Scotia Power expanding and growing larger as time goes on, and becoming more profitable. I think that's important, especially if they can do it outside the province and help with the solid approach that's needed in Nova Scotia to give reasonable power rates to Nova Scotians.

Getting away from the families, if you hike power rates for businesses in Nova Scotia, they become less and less competitive. If they're not competitive, they don't employ Nova Scotians. Then the Nova Scotians who are having a hard time paying their bills as it is may be faced with no job instead of a job that pays less than they would like to make. So it hits you both ways. It gets you in the pocketbook. If you're an individual on a modest income or even a reasonably good income, or worse than that a senior or someone on a disability pension with a fixed income, who couldn't possibly hope to get enough increase in their pensions to pay for the increased costs of power, what are you going to do? Again, what are you going to do?

The other thing that Nova Scotia Power doesn't have is a solid plan for clean energy. They really don't have a solid plan for that. They could use wind power, tidal power, whatever the case may be. Whatever makes economic sense, to ensure that the operation moves forward in a positive way. If they could come up with these plans, it would also cut costs for Nova Scotians in the health care system and other systems that are stressed, when you have companies polluting the air that we breathe and, indeed, probably the water that we drink and consume over time.

I think it's only appropriate that these hearings be held off, that only one hearing be held a year for Nova Scotia Power - indeed, if there's a need to have one in any one year - that the hearings be held off this year, no more hearings to be held until May 1, 2006. This would give many Nova Scotians, this Winter, the opportunity to readjust themselves, how

[Page 8540]

they do things. It would give them an opportunity to maybe put a little bit of insulation in their homes or change some doors or windows to maybe cut some of their costs down, get a better quality hot water heater, if they use electric power to use their hot water heater, and it would give them some time before any rate increase is put in place.

If that were to happen, it would give people the opportunity to plan well into the future, and then still give the opportunity to Nova Scotia Power to come back and see if they can justify, which I doubt, rate increases. Every time those increases go up, it affects all of us all over the province. As time goes on, we'll see more and more difficulty for individuals as the cost of power increases. Every increase over time, you take $1 here and $1 there on your power bill and some other bill and another bill, first thing you know you have another $100 a month you have to pay. If you've only received another $10 a month, it doesn't take much math to figure out what's going on and how long people are going to be able to live in that situation. Not very long, actually.

Then what do we do? Then it stresses the system, people go to the system and if they're fortunate enough to be able to get some assistance with any government department, that's positive, but most of the time they can't. They're usually just over the limit for income, under what they really need to maintain themselves and their families. That just doesn't work.

I believe this is a very good bill. I believe this is a bill that's long overdue and we really need to support this bill for all Nova Scotians. Not only that, but these hearings are very, very expensive for the Utility and Review Board to have and very expensive for interveners to come. Interveners, by the way, which our Party intends to be and will be whenever and wherever there is a hearing on power increases in this province.

I would encourage my fellow members of the Legislature to support this bill. Give Nova Scotians a chance to re-adjust to any increases that may come. Hopefully there will be none, but give them a chance to re-adjust and move forward with this bill. That would eliminate any more hearings of the Utility and Review Board before May 1, 2006. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Economic Development.

HON. ERNEST FAGE: Mr. Speaker, I'm pleased to rise in the House today to speak to Bill No. 223, the Nova Scotia Power Rate Application Act, 2005. This is the second suggestion that the Liberal Party has brought forward this week. The first being to do away with the Utility and Review Board itself. Do away with it all together and let the open market dictate electric prices for Nova Scotia's citizens.

[Page 8541]

Well, we've seen the result of such a move elsewhere in North America and it's not the result we want or Nova Scotians want. We've seen it in Canada in Ontario, we've seen it in Alberta where electric prices soared with deregulation. The Alberta Government had to subsidize electrical rates in the order of $2 billion to bring them back to where they should have been before deregulation. We've seen in California where the electric utility went bankrupt with deregulation.

Like the earlier suggestion that the Liberals had to do away with the URB, I believe this is an unrealistic and irresponsible suggestion - one that does nothing to help the public understand today's energy realities or the business and investment climate that is key to Nova Scotia's future and its citizens. We have a system here in Nova Scotia that works, despite what some say. We have a regulated, cost-of-service utility that provides electricity to our citizens. We have the Utility and Review Board, a respected and independent tribunal which has the power it needs to act in the interests of all Nova Scotians.

The URB scrutinizes rate applications and makes evidence-based decisions on what costs Nova Scotia Power Inc. can legitimately recover through the rates. They make their decisions in the best interests of all Nova Scotian ratepayers, including residential customers. As an added assurance, we have now required them to appoint a consumer advocate specifically to address the interests of residential ratepayers in the upcoming rate hearings and most likely, in hearings to come in the future.

I don't think the public wants politicians setting electric prices in general. That's the alternative. If we take that responsibility away from the independent regulator as suggested by the Liberal Party sponsorship of this bill, that is what will happen.

Mr. Speaker, last week when we announced our energy plan, we talked about the fact that we're operating in an energy environment that is controlled by world markets and geopolitical forces. Those are the realities. These forces are beyond the control of any individual government. I believe people are beginning to understand the new reality of that energy market and geopolitical forces at work.

All Parties have a responsibility to help themselves understand, and with that factual information, not political posturing, help Nova Scotians cope with the current new energy reality. Nova Scotians do have a growing awareness that people all across Canada, the United States, and indeed the world, are faced with the same increases in energy costs. Turn on any news channel, Mr. Speaker, and we can see that it is not only Nova Scotia's issue, it's a global issue, and just as individual consumers are affected by higher energy costs, so too are businesses, including Nova Scotia Power.

[Page 8542]

The cost of fuel oil, coal and natural gas is going up, Mr. Speaker, and more than 80 per cent of Nova Scotia's electric generation comes from these very sources. As a regulated cost-of-service utility, Nova Scotia Power must be able to recover those costs from its customers, and the URB must ensure that rates being paid by residential and other consumers represent the true cost of generating that electricity. If we, as government, interfere with the URB process and delay the rate hearings, we run the significant risk of threatening the very viability of our electrical utility. Their bond rating could be affected, making their cost of borrowing go up and causing further upward pressure on rates and instability in the electrical market in Nova Scotia. Investors could walk away from the company, making it impossible for the utility to finance the work that's needed to be done to create a greener, more sustainable infrastructure to produce our power and supply it in.

Mr. Speaker, this is not the result we want in Nova Scotia. It's a result that would benefit no one. That's what will happen if we try to interfere with the process of the URB. Given the current world energy environment, government cannot guarantee that energy prices will be low, only that they will be fair. We believe that the URB provides a fair, open and transparent process for setting electricity rates in the Province of Nova Scotia. This seems to be an unnecessary interference with the work of the URB, this proposed legislation.

Mr. Speaker, those who proposed Bill No. 223 sent a message to the business community that it's okay to simply change the rules halfway through the game. This will not only impact on the business community here in Nova Scotia, but it will likely have a chilling effect on new investment from outside our province. At a time when we look ahead to the investment required in the energy infrastructure in our province, measures to increase renewable and promote energy efficiency and conservation, for example, we should not entertain ideas such as this which would deter investment and slow growth in our economy. In the 15 years since privatization, Nova Scotia Power has filed five rate applications, including the present application, and never twice in one year.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Your time has expired.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Centre.

MR. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, I think this is the first time I've been on my feet since you assumed the Chair again. So welcome to that lofty position.

Mr. Speaker, this bill by itself is probably supportable. It has some good merits, but - I think this is a big but - why should we take this any further when the leadership of the Liberals wouldn't enact it if they were in government, because in the same vein in pushing this forward, the Leader of the Liberal Party states that we should probably go to an open market that might be available to bring power to Nova Scotians cheaper and more efficiently; cheaper and more efficient power for Nova Scotians by an unregulated market.

[Page 8543]

[5:45 p.m.]

Well, Mr. Speaker, as the previous member who spoke before me - I think we all know a little company called Enron and how that was affected by an unregulated market. One of the most vibrant economies in the western hemisphere, the State of California, was basically brought to its knees by brownouts because of onside supply demand by Enron and how it was jockeying that demand. The Liberals want us to believe that that's the way for Nova Scotians to go. Nova Scotia is a much smaller market. How are you going to fit in that grid? We would probably not use as much as much energy as some of the smallest counties in most of the State of California - you know, Orange County, which is probably the richest county in North America. Orange County, California, probably a half a block in there would consume more energy then the whole province here. They couldn't survive an unregulated market, but yet the Leader of the Liberal Party says, we should go do that.

Now, Mr. Speaker, that's not just me saying these things about the Leader of the Third Party. I will read a short exert from yesterday's Cape Breton Post and I will table it. With your indulgence, I will go forward. The headline is, "BASHING URB NO SOLUTION, Regular doing a decent job on looking out for power users"

"Nova Scotia Liberal Leader Francis MacKenzie isn't the only one questioning the performance of the Utility and Review Board in setting power rates. It's just that the other criticism tends in the opposite direction, suggesting the URB has been too diligent in suppressing rates and not understanding enough of the utility's business case.

MacKenzie mused last week, in his seat-of-the-pants style that is becoming a trademark, that the URB has 'not measured up to the standards that I would like to see' because it has not protected Nova Scotians from power rate increase. In fact, though, what MacKenzie calls, the 'annual pilgrimage' by Nova Scotia Power Inc. for new rates is a recent phenomenon."

I'll go down to the last paragraph,

"These issues, affecting the financing costs and flexibility of the utility are not unknown to the URB, of course. Balancing these concerns against the personal and general economic impact of rising electricity rates is a complex task requiring expert knowledge and judgment exercised through an open process. That's what we have in the URB and if MacKenzie has a better idea, he should tell us what it is."

[Page 8544]

That's the important part, because last March when the URB laid out its decision on March 31st, it chastised the power company. They didn't see out far enough, Mr. Speaker, and they're imprudent in the final procurement practice of the cost of fuel and purchasing power approved by the board in the 2005 year, in its schedule. There was a time in 2001- 02, if Nova Scotia Power was being really prudent and when coal had dipped to below average world markets, they should have locked in long-term agreements then, but it failed. Was this a failure of the URB? No, it was a failure of the generating distribution company. That is where this problem lies. So, yes, I believe that they shouldn't come knocking on the door every time they feel slighted. But the fact of the matter is, limiting or doing away with URB is not the answer. Leaving us open to an Enron-style company is at best, irresponsible.

What we need in our energy generation is a solid company that is seen in the world markets as being able to be traded and to have the financial stability that goes with that, which I don't like. I don't like them coming back and looking for power rates, but I believe that there are more sensible things to do when they do come back here, as put forward by the Leader of our Party, and that they would be looking at telling Nova Scotians how they're going to conserve energy; 15 per cent conservation off the top, things like that are what we should be talking about.

We shouldn't be talking, like the Third Party is here talking, about deregulation and getting rid of our regulatory bodies. What we should be doing is we should be going in there and finding ways to conserve energy for Nova Scotians. When we can look seriously at wind power, when wind power is treated the same as NSPI - and if they're going to give tax breaks to NSPI, they should give tax breaks to the wind generators, encourage them and help them through the WPPI program, federally. All these things should be available. Instead what we're talking about here in this bill is not limiting for one year, but really what we're looking for is the elimination of the URB and the elimination of a regulated commodity. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. GERALD SAMPSON: Mr. Speaker, it's a pleasure to rise and speak for a few moments on Bill No. 223. The bill will delay the current proposed rate increase by Nova Scotia Power. Our Liberal caucus believes that this rate application should never have been allowed to proceed in the first place. We've heard from numerous Nova Scotians, and nobody, not one, would like to see more money for power rates, especially since Nova Scotia Power has already increased the rates once this year.

Mr. Speaker, I'll try to take a positive approach, not like the previous speaker, and deal in the negative. We need to be proactive and encourage Nova Scotia Power to do the same, and have them aggressively plan for the future. They're highly dependent on coal and oil, which is very vulnerable on the international market. Of course, we saw the costs go through the roof recently.

[Page 8545]

Mr. Speaker, at a meeting in Sydney, hosted by the president of Nova Scotia Power, I mentioned that sometimes the results that you're looking for are either right next door or with the person working alongside of you. For the record, I would like to mention that efficiencies from within Nova Scotia Power could be easily attained if the company would follow the example of some of the employees they have who I have had the pleasure to work with, experience; I asked for and received top-notch service. I'm referring to the customer relations officer, Ken Paruch, engineer Dan Muldoon, and a man who is second to none when it comes to computer operations, Donnie Patterson, at NSP down in Point Aconi.

Mr. Speaker, there's a lot of noise these days, and distractions, surrounding the rising costs of energy, falling temperatures, and Nova Scotians need to deal with hearing about another rate increase. We've heard the government come out with an energy package, saying it will help those in need with their energy costs this year. Yet, at the same time, the government is in favour of allowing Nova Scotia Power apply for a rate increase.

Mr. Speaker, all we're asking for is to delay it until next year. This bill is tangible. It could be called to the floor by the government, if the government is interested in protecting Nova Scotians instead of protecting and lining the pockets of the shareholders of Nova Scotia Power. The bill should be called and go to second reading. I refer to the government, talking about their Campaign for Fairness, and I feel that this would be a very fair deal for the residents of Nova Scotia. Practice what you preach in the government, have Nova Scotia Power practice what they're preaching and see if they could be more aggressive and get off the fossil fuels, as I said.

You've heard me in previous times, Mr. Speaker, referring to Wreck Cove down in Victoria County as being the only hydro power generated - which I say is generated free of cost. When it was built, it harnessed all the rivers and the water in the Highlands of Cape Breton. Mother Nature fills the dams, the man-made lakes and when they want that water, they open a dam and it runs through the turbine and the power is generated. As these dams and lakes go down in water, Mother Nature fills them again with rain and snow. It's a free source of power that is not being harnessed enough. This plant has been there since the 1970s providing an uninterrupted power source run by microswitches out of Halifax. They have one shift of workers for an 8-hour shift - the other 16 hours of the day the power is on demand. If they need it during peak periods, they flick a switch in Halifax and on comes the system. When they don't need it, they shut it down.

To get away from fossil fuels and coal it would be time-consuming, but it's a plan that should be there for the future and more aggressively pursued. They are talking about wind power, but my involvement in the previous years, before coming here, those residents who were interested in investing in wind power were kind of turned off on the idea because Nova Scotia Power would buy what power they could generate, but buy it at a very low-demand cost and in turn sell it on the market at the high-demand rate. Now, that's a good

[Page 8546]

business deal for Nova Scotia Power, but it's a turnoff to those private citizens who would like to invest in that.

How about the high tides of the Bay of Fundy? Every time you turn around, every eight hours we have this tide roaring in and roaring out and it's unharnessed. Wind power provided by individuals, harness the water that we have, encourage private businesses to come forward - that's what we need to do.

I understand the shareholders have been guaranteed a 12 per cent return - it's time they led by example and said, this time we'll let it go and allow the rate increase application not to go forward.

I must reiterate that our Leader, Francis MacKenzie, did not say eliminate the URB - and the government sponsorship of Nova Scotia Power's monopoly is wrong. With that, I'll take my place.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Eastern Shore. You have 10 seconds.

MR. WILLIAM DOOKS: How long, Mr. Speaker?

MR. SPEAKER: Ten seconds.

MR. DOOKS: Well, Mr. Speaker, it's certainly a pleasure to stand in this House and debate this bill, but for the record, before you ask me to take my seat, I do not agree, Mr. Speaker, I do not agree . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order. Time has expired. Order. That concludes Opposition Members' Business for today.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I move the House do now rise to meet again tomorrow at the hour of 12:00 noon. The House will sit from 12:00 noon until 6:00 p.m. The order of business following the daily routine and Question Period will be Public Bills for Second Reading, and we will continue with the bills as they are enumerated on the order paper.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

[Page 8547]

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

The motion is carried.

We've reached the moment of interruption.

The subject of tonight's late debate was submitted by the honourable member for Chester-St. Margaret's:

"Therefore be it resolved that the government continue to recognize, support and invest in the constituency of Chester-St. Margaret's."

ADJOURNMENT

MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5)

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

CHESTER-ST. MARGARET'S -

RECOGNIZE/SUPPORT/INVEST: GOV'T. (N.S.) - CONTINUE

MS. JUDY STREATCH: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. It gives me great pleasure to rise in the House this evening and speak on an issue of the utmost importance to me and indeed to all Nova Scotians - the beautiful, resourceful and healthy South Shore constituency of Chester-St. Margaret's.

On June 21, 2005, I was honoured to have been elected as the Progressive Conservative member of the Legislative Assembly for Chester-St. Margaret's. Mr. Speaker, you know, as do all members of this House, that no candidate runs, let alone wins, a campaign by themselves. It takes a tremendous amount of hard work on the part of many individuals, all who generously donate their time to take part in the democratic process.

[6:00 p.m.]

So, on this, my first opportunity to speak at length in this House, my maiden speech, I would like to publicly express my most sincere and heartfelt thanks to all those who worked tirelessly on my behalf during the nomination and election campaigns. To my honourable colleagues on this side of the House who took time out of their busy schedules to come to Chester-St. Margaret's and support me on the doorsteps and at events, I offer my humble gratitude.

[Page 8548]

Mr. Speaker, to my family, who gave their full support from the get-go; to my partner, Gerald; my children, Jordan, Kaitlyn, Dylan and Mackensey; and certainly not to forget the man who inspired it all, my father Ken - my thanks and love. (Applause) Unfortunately, my mother passed away in January before she was able to see me carry on the family tradition, but I'm sure she was smiling when I wore her gold Legislative pin on my lapel here in the House on my very first day, as my father watched with pride from the gallery.

Finally, Madam Speaker, to the constituents of Chester-St. Margaret's who have entrusted me with the task of representing them in the Government of Nova Scotia, a huge thank you and my commitment to do my very best to serve them. (Applause)

Now, Madam Speaker, I know you have travelled to the South Shore on many occasions and I would encourage all of our colleagues here in the House to visit us frequently. I'm confident that you would concur that the beauty of the Chester-St. Margaret's riding rivals any area in Nova Scotia. East from Bayside, west to Martin's River and north to the county line past New Ross, and all the communities in between, from Peggy's Cove to Hubbards and Chester to Western Shore, the natural beauty of the rugged coastline is equal only to the rich inland and forest areas. Yet the beauty of the riding is only one factor which helps to attract millions of tourists to the region each year and certainly contributes millions to the local economy. The culture, traditions and lifestyle of the residents of the South Shore account for a lot of the credit.

With a thriving forestry industry, a viable fishery, numerous industries such as GN Plastics, Louisiana Pacific, Novatel and Composite Atlantic, to name but a few, along with that huge tourism industry I mentioned a moment ago and a vibrant growing small business sector, Chester-St. Margaret's is one of the most diverse ridings in the province.

Madam Speaker, if I may, I would like to speak for a few moments on the healthy economy of the area and perhaps shed some light on why we are indeed in such good shape. Born and raised on a dairy farm in the beautiful Musquodoboit Valley, I knew all too well about the seasons as they pertained to crops and herd maintenance, but it wasn't until I moved to the Balsam Fir capital of the world - Lunenburg County - that I realized there was indeed a tree season and that season is quickly upon us again.

Madam Speaker, the Christmas tree industry in Nova Scotia provides over $30 million to the economy and with approximately two-thirds of that coming out of Lunenburg/Queens Counties, it is certainly fair for me to say that millions of dollars are generated each year from the industry in my riding. Not only does this industry account for millions of dollars that contribute to the local as well as the provincial economy, it also employs thousands of individuals and carries on a way of life that has existed for generations.

[Page 8549]

I am proud to say, Madam Speaker, that my family will soon be treeing and while my children aren't nearly as fond of the hard labour that comes along with the season, we are certainly more than proud to know that our Keddy Family trees will be decorated in thousands of homes throughout Canada, the eastern U.S., and indeed into the Carribean as well.

Now, Madam Speaker, it's not only our Christmas trees which have garnered us international acclaim in Chester-St. Margaret's, I would challenge any honourable member here in this House who isn't able to identify the picturesque lighthouse scene from Peggy's Cove, truly one of Nova Scotia's gems. I would add that Chester-St. Margaret's has yet another internationally recognizable icon for who does not know of the famous treasure hunt that has been under way on Oak Island for over 200 years? I would argue that the true treasure, the real gold of Oak Island, is the mystery of the island itself. In the immortal words of Allister MacGillivray in that famous Nova Scotia song that I grew up listening to, sung by various individuals over the years: "And over the ashes the stories are told, of witches and werewolves and Oak Island gold . . ." The island is truly a valuable part of our folklore and cultural heritage.

Madam Speaker, opening Oak Island for public access would be a great asset to our province. Its location between Lunenburg and Chester, on the Lighthouse Route, gives the island a ready-made tourist infrastructure. It is one of the few sites of historic and cultural significance in Nova Scotia that remains inaccessible to tourists. In fact, a study partially sponsored by the province concluded that Oak Island has the potential to be among the top ten tourist draws in Nova Scotia, putting it in the echelon of Peggy's Cove, Citadel Hill and Lunenburg.

Opening access to Oak Island also opens the doors for private-sector participation in tourism-related industries on the island. The surrounding community of Western Shore would benefit from increased tourist interest in the area and from the economic spinoffs that entails. A developed tourist centre on the island would offer jobs for tour guides, interpreters, groundskeepers. If, indeed, the island could reach its full potential of over 80,000 visitors a year, the economic activity it could generate would be significant.

Madam Speaker, I personally don't have the expertise to develop a tourism strategy for the island, beyond getting it safely into the hands of the province. The Department of Tourism, South Shore tourism interests and local stakeholders can best determine what needs to be done, but I am sure the study is correct in its assertion that an interactive site that explores the many different theories about the mystery of Oak Island would be a major tourist attraction.

Madam Speaker, there aren't many mysteries left in our world. Oak Island has captured the imaginations of people of all ages and backgrounds from all corners of the globe. Whether you think there's a treasure or artifacts or little green men hiding under the

[Page 8550]

island, there is no doubt that it has intrigued us for many generations. I believe that we must find a way to protect this significant site and open it for the doers and dreamers among us to explore.

I have been talking to my colleagues about Oak Island since my election and I have been extremely pleased with the level of interest expressed by the various departments within this government. I very much believe, Madam Speaker, that one of the roles of government is to act as stewards of our culture and historic treasures, and to make those special places accessible to all Nova Scotians. I would encourage all members of this House to support me in my quest to have Oak Island remain a Nova Scotian treasure for generations to come.

I would like at this time, Madam Speaker, to thank you for this time to speak on matters pertaining to Chester-St. Margaret's. (Applause)

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings West. (Interruption)

MR. LEO GLAVINE: Yes, I'm waiting for the love in, but it looks like it's disappearing before me.

Madam Speaker, first of all, I do, on this occasion in the Chamber, want to congratulate the latest member to come to Province House, and I certainly commend her for her efforts during the by-election in Chester- St. Margaret's. However, all is not golden, and all is not shining down in Chester-St. Margaret's. Yes, Oak Island is indeed a treasure, but I wondered where her government was last Spring when the Blandford Game Sanctuary was delisted. While it was eventually put back on the list, you do have to remember that it was people, and maybe some of your own supporters, who were indeed very upset at the very thought of delisting. However, it is not yet receiving the final protection that such a treasure should have.

I would hope that the honourable member will work to see that this becomes a protected space. The Blandford Game Sanctuary does in fact have some old-growth forest in it, but we all know that this is an area that could also have cuttings and so forth from that particular area. In fact sanctuary is a bit of a misnomer, because there's no guarantee that, indeed, it will be protected. That's an area that I think needs to be brought to the attention of the member, and in fact it was her rival candidate who orchestrated, along with Brad Armstrong, a very significant role in making sure that Blandford Game Sanctuary remained at least listed as a protected space.

I also wonder where the member's government was when it came to supporting one of the long-time traditional industries in her riding, and that is Snair's Bakery. Where was her government when trying to keep a very regarded industry in that community? That's not forgotten. That will be a springboard for people to certainly launch forward criticism well into the future. To lose a well-respected family business like Snair's Bakery is indeed a great

[Page 8551]

loss to that community. It was neither the arm of government, NSBI, nor the Department of Economic Development that would actually come in and try to save the day. It's very unfortunate.

In drawing attention to Oak Island, which certainly does deserve a great deal of recognition, I would have to say, however, that the record of her government on coastal protection is indeed extremely poor. In fact, along the South Shore now, there is less and less available land for the public. Most of the islands and a lot of the coastline is in private hands. This is something that has certainly degenerated over the past tenure of this particular government. Nova Scotians are looking for leadership in this area. I know our government will again look at bringing forth legislation that will allow for greater access to the coastline of Nova Scotia.

The current issue, I think, the member opposite should be working for is to in fact try to get the office of lands and forests reopened in the Chester Grant area. This is going to be closed, and a larger office, perhaps yes, built in Lunenburg, but we know that the three local fire departments are very concerned about this particular decision. There is no way that the local fire departments can have the kind of ready response for the potential of a forest fire in this area. As was stated by the member, certainly the Christmas tree industry, and forest industry generally, is a very major industry for this area. Without the lands and forest office and the quick response they can generate, this is indeed a deficiency that this government has allowed to occur. In fact, the fire departments are now mounting, and probably will mount, petitions and support from the local community to make sure that that office is reconsidered and possibly reopened.

[6:15 p.m.]

Another area that her government has certainly dropped the ball on is the highway and sidewalk project in the Village of Chester. It was going to be an agreement between the Village of Chester and the province and right now the province has basically washed its hands of this particular deal. In fact, we all know that this was a project that was about to come to fruition and we hear from the people in the Village of Chester that there are very, very many unhappy and dissatisfied constituents on this particular project. So we will look forward to perhaps another announcement here. One of the real opportunistic elements of this government is to announce things two and three times. So maybe after a false start, maybe something will come of this project, but at the current time certainly the residents of Chester have not seen any action on this particular project.

When it comes to paving, while we did see a little pre-election effort, certainly this is an area where the honourable member could join with our Party in road of the week. I've been down to the Chester-St. Margaret's Bay area and certainly there are many roads that she could offer which have been neglected through six years of Tory MLAs. That really brings me around to the resolution today, that the government continue to recognize, support, and

[Page 8552]

invest in the constituency of Chester-St. Margaret's. I almost interpret and, in fact, I do interpret that as a plea that there has been in fact a great overlooking of this particular riding by this government.

With an election coming up within the next 12 months, she's making kind of a desperate plea that there will be reconsideration. Of course, we know Snair's Bakery is gone. We know that the roads are in bad shape in that area, especially the secondary and the rural roads are indeed like the other 35 rural constituencies across the province which have huge, huge deficiencies. After losing the lands and forests office there and no action on the Chester project, yes, the honourable member does indeed have her work cut out for her and, with that, I will take my place.

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect.

MR. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: Madam Speaker, I, too, look forward to sharing a few of my thoughts on this particular resolution. I want members to know I'm pleased to have the new member for Chester-St. Margaret's in this House. Her energy and her commitment is not going to allow her to be one of those wallflowers in the backbenches. She's not going to be a bump on the log who just votes as she's told because, after all, based upon her reputation and her family's reputation on what they are as politicians in other areas and in other municipalities, we're going to see a different approach from a backbencher.

Perhaps we will see a backbencher who will speak up during debates, a backbencher who, when a topic is brought to the floor of this House and she wants to have a speech, can stand on her feet and participate in debate; a debate on mental health, for example. A debate that has strong opinions on some of the smoking laws that we're considering, and then perhaps a debate on social workers. Anything involving education, I hope that the new member does not believe that the hammer comes down and she is there simply to stand and vote as she is told, because that's the reputation of what backbenchers have done in that government from the year that they were elected, however many long, long years ago.

I want to take a couple of points here, first of all, the riding of Chester-St. Margaret's does not begin at Peggy's Cove. It begins at the Shad Bay Bridge that's in bad need of repair, something that I've gone after the Department of Transportation and Public Works on many times. If you take that road from Shad Bay over to the Dovers and you go by McGraths Cove, Blind Bay, that part of Chester-St. Margaret's was once part of my constituency. It's personal, it's my constituency, because that section of the road and issues that are brought to me by people from those villages, they constantly bring up the fact of difficulties with bus stops, difficulties with issues in their community, difficulties with things such as assessments.

Madam Speaker, you should know, and I want the member for Chester-St. Margaret's to know, they are calling me. I'm saying to them, I want you to know that I am no longer

[Page 8553]

your MLA. Mr. Chataway - God bless John - is no longer, of course, the MLA. You have a new MLA. I give out the number of the member for Chester-St. Margaret's, but they still call me. I go for their assessments. When there's an assessment problem in Blind Bay and they're going to appeal that assessment, I am the one who goes and says I want to make the case for assessments, I want this assessment appealed.

This particular political Party has a strong reputation when it comes to assessments. That political Party does not have that reputation. Much of that should be credited to the other members of my caucus because, let me tell you, there's a burning issue in the riding of Chester-St. Margaret's. We could talk about roads, we could talk about Snair's. I want to table the letter from my good friend from Hants East to Minister Hurlburt concerning the closure of the Chester Grant Depot.

Those are all issues that we can bring up and score political points on, but I want to bring an issue up, a long-standing concern in my constituency and in coastal constituencies across this province. The member for Kings West sort of touched on it, but for various reasons because of the status of the Third Party on this issue, he said private landowners own coastal properties around this province. That's not the issue. That member knows that. The issue is that non-residents own coastal properties. Non-residents are buying up islands. Non-residents continue to make sure they are the first in line when there's an island for sale.

When I saw this in the Chester Clipper, a paper I subscribe to, when I saw the member - I'll table this in just a moment - was pushing for the purchase of Oak Island, my first response, $7 million well spent; $7 million that I'm sure that Nova Scotians from one end of this province would agree with. It's not just high profile islands such as Oak Island, I could take the member through some of the islands in St. Margarets Bay, in fact, I could put her on the water and point out the ones that are no longer in the control of Nova Scotians. No longer in the control of Canadians. They're in the control of non-residents who have come in and taken these wonderful, accessible beachfront areas away from us and now they are, of course, for various reasons, putting up no trespassing, private beach. Those things in our province just cannot be allowed to continue.

I look forward to working with the member opposite on that very controversial topic. I want the member opposite to know this is a topic that has been discussed on the floor of this Legislature many times. When the Liberal Party sat there and we questioned them on that issue, it was not a problem. Now when we raise the same question again, it's not a problem. I know that young member over there is going to be in contact with people along the coast and they will tell you it's a huge problem. It's a huge problem, not just because of access to the coast, because of the resulting problems when it comes to assessments.

[Page 8554]

Recently - I'm going to table this too - there was a mail-out that was circulated through Timberlea-Prospect and a lot of NDP ridings around the province. This asks the question, rhetorical, are you worried about skyrocketing - there's a word we've used a lot in this business, you've noticed - gas prices, skyrocketing power bills, skyrocketing heating costs? This went out to 8,200 homes in the riding of Timberlea-Prospect.

Part of the difficulty is because the member for Chester-St. Margaret's and I share a road where we're literally in Timberlea-Prospect on one side of the road, and on the other side of the road we're in Chester-St. Margaret's. It's one of those lines driven down through a community. Well, I received calls in my office today, from people in certain areas of the Hammonds Plains, down the Peggy's Cove Road, who said to me, Bill, where's my notice, I didn't get a notice. What's wrong, why didn't I get a notice? And I've said to them, well, I'll have to make some of them available to you, I guess. So there will be some in the community I represent.

The new St. Margaret's Arena, the St. Margaret's Centre renovated, is actually in the riding of Chester-St. Margaret's, just on the other side of the road. The new high school is just across the road. But I want the member opposite to know that when it comes to political lines there are many things that we have to work together on. So when the mail-out comes out and it ends up in mailboxes and people say to their neighbours, did you guys get that mail-out from Darrell Dexter - his name is actually used in that, Madam Speaker, I refer to him, of course, as the member for Cole Harbour. When people are asking for that particular piece of information, that says to me, here we have a concern, here we have a problem, a problem that Nova Scotians want to know about. It has nothing to do with political lines. It has nothing to do with a line on a map, it's one of those things that we have to continue, as MLAs, to work together, to face.

I know the member opposite is aware of the fact that her particular political Party doesn't have all the answers. This political Party and the members of the Liberal Party, we don't have all the answers. We don't profess to be that way. But let me tell you, the one thing I've learned - and I learned it from George Moody and I learned it from John Leefe, two men who I have a great deal of time for. Both of those men, of course spent many years in here. I remember when George said to me one night as we were going through a late debate and I was fired up on something or other, he said to me, the microphones work well, Bill, you don't have to yell; and, secondly, slow down and enjoy the experience. You have much to learn.

The political system in this province will teach us all some very hard lessons, lessons that are going to be based upon the political realities of this province. I welcome the new member to this Legislature. I encourage her to take George Moody's advice, make sure you slow down and enjoy the process. Thank you, Madam Speaker.

[Page 8555]

MADAM SPEAKER: The time allotted for late debate has expired. I thank all the honourable members for their participation.

The House will meet again at 12:00 noon tomorrow.

[The House rose at 6:27 p.m.]

[Page 8556]

NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3)

RESOLUTION NO. 4663

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

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

Whereas track and field events are popular events for students in junior and senior high schools; and

Whereas track and field competitions at the local, provincial and national levels help showcase the competitive skills of many athletes; and

Whereas Stephanie Skoreyko of Wileville, Lunenburg County won the Silver Medal in the Women's 3000 metre at the Legion National Track and Field Championship in Edmonton on August 6 to 7, 2005;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate Stephanie Skoreyko for her excellent performance in this national competition.

RESOLUTION NO. 4664

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

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

Whereas volunteers have such a positive influence on our communities; and

Whereas the work of volunteers touches on every aspect of our lifestyle; and

Whereas Cheryl Corcoran of Bridgewater assumed a leadership role in a volunteer position as Atlantic Regional Rep with the Canadian Cystic Fibrosis Foundation;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House extend congratulations and thanks to Cheryl Corcoran of Bridgewater for her volunteer efforts on behalf of those Canadians who have cystic fibrosis.

[Page 8557]

RESOLUTION NO. 4665

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

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

Whereas being physically active is a very important component of healthy living; and

Whereas teachers are encouraging participation in lifelong physical activities by their students; and

Whereas the Grade 6 students of Pentz Elementary School, Lunenburg County were winners in a competition to increase their daily physical activity;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate the students and staff at Pentz Elementary School for their participation in daily physical activity.

RESOLUTION NO. 4666

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

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

Whereas team sports are very important in the lives of high school students; and

Whereas the Bridgewater High School in Lunenburg County has had a girls softball team for many years; and

Whereas the Bridgewater High School girls softball team won the 2005 Provincial Division 3 Championship in June 2005;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House extend congratulations to Coach Mark MacLeod and the following team members for their excellent performances: Allyson Buckley, Hannah Banfield, Emma Becker, Nicole Brinson, Katie MacLeod, Morgan Zinck, Brittany Tufford, Vanessa Zmija, Emily Budden, Kelly McDonald, Whitney Croft, Haley Smith, Jessica Wong, Brittany Stewart and Natalie Young.

[Page 8558]

RESOLUTION NO. 4667

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

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

Whereas diabetes affects a large number of citizens; and

Whereas the cost of drugs, medical equipment and supplies is very expensive; and

Whereas the 1st Annual Bridgewater Walk to Cure Diabetes was held and attracted participants all along the South Shore, raising about $840,000 for diabetes research;

Therefore be it resolved that this House thank all the participants and especially Jill Stoddart and daughter Mikaila who have personally raised over $35,000 for diabetes research over the past seven years.

RESOLUTION NO. 4668

By: Hon. Carolyn Bolivar Getson (Human Resources)

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

Whereas participation in sports on a regular basis is a healthy thing to do; and

Whereas participating in a team sport helps develop social, physical and leadership skills; and

Whereas many young people are involved in the sport of bowling;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the members of the Bridgewater Bowl-More Lanes Junior Girls team and Senior Boys team for capturing this year's Nova Scotia Youth Bowling Championships. The girls team consisted of Sonya Acker, Megan White, Jolene Conrad, Mercedes MacKay and Michelle Zwicker; and the boys team consisted of Branden Rafuse, Matthew Langille, Adam Slauenwhite, Andrew Slauenwhite and Garett Acker.

[Page 8559]

RESOLUTION NO. 4669

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

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

Whereas longevity is a goal which we all seek; and

Whereas senior citizens have many experiences during their lifetime, which provide insight for younger generations; and

Whereas centenarians are extra-special senior citizens;

Therefore be it resolved that this House send congratulations and best wishes to Lawrence Gray, of Lunenburg County, who celebrated his 100th birthday on October 9, 2005.

RESOLUTION NO. 4670

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

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

Whereas celebrating the success of individuals and organizations promotes self-confidence; and

Whereas public recognition of students who achieve high academic standards encourages others to aim for greater academic success; and

Whereas some Grade 11 students in Lunenburg County were presented the Lieutenant Governor's Medal for demonstrating qualities of leadership and service within the school community, while performing admirably in the classroom;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate Chad Furey and Alyson Murray of Bridgewater High School, Blair DeBaie and Nicole Larade of New Germany Rural High School, and Lindsey Fielding and Joshua Powers of Parkview Education Centre, for their outstanding achievements during their Grade 11 year.

[Page 8560]

RESOLUTION NO. 4671

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

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

Whereas disease prevention and treatment is important to all of us; and

Whereas the cost of securing modern health equipment is very high; and

Whereas the Hit It For Health Golf Tournament in Bridgewater raised about $26,000 to purchase a new electrocardiograph unit for the South Shore Regional Hospital's Intensive Care Unit;

Therefore be it resolved that this House extend thanks to all of the volunteers and participants who helped make the Hit It For Health Golf Tournament an outstanding fundraising event in 2005.

RESOLUTION NO. 4672

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

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

Whereas volunteers provide limitless numbers of hours of service to their communities; and

Whereas volunteer firefighters provide excellent 24/7 firefighting service to their communities; and

Whereas the Lapland Volunteer Fire Department recently raised funds for, and constructed, a new truck bay to house their fire trucks;

Therefore be it resolved that this House extend congratulations to chief Eugene Wentzell, Barb King, Andy Douma, Debbie Hirtle, Bruce Rafuse, and all the firefighters and community volunteers for a job extremely well done.

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RESOLUTION NO. 4673

By: Mr. Leo Glavine (Kings West)

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

Whereas September represented Continuing Care Month across Nova Scotia; and

Whereas the Grandview Manor in Berwick provides professional care and comfort to seniors in need; and

Whereas Continuing Care Month celebrates all of the organizations' administration staff and volunteers who dedicate themselves every day to caring for our valued seniors;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House thank the compassionate staff and volunteers in continuing care and, in particular, those who make life at the Grandview Manor an exceptional place to live.

RESOLUTION NO. 4674

By: Mr. Russell MacKinnon (Cape Breton West)

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

Whereas in 1904, the Isle of Man was chosen as the venue for the Gordon Bennett Motor Car Road Racing Trials including motorcycles, with an amendment to the Manx Road Closing Act, and in 1999, no fewer than 20 countries had competitors creating an international event; and

Whereas the inaugural Cape Breton Festival of Speed, in association with the Isle of Man TT, Tourist Trophy, will be held from September 20 to 24, 2006, featuring a classic motorcycle TT road race, a 52.3-kilometre circuit beginning and ending on the Louisbourg highway, passing through communities along the route; that is, Port Morien, Birch Grove, Morrison Road, Hornes Road, Mira Gut, Round Island and Homeville within the constituency of Cape Breton West; and

Whereas this world-class motor sports festival, combined with supporting events that include car shows and contours d'élégance, will also highlight the beauty of Cape Breton Island and an opportunity to bring new visitors and investments to our infrastructure, generating approximately $1.5 million in direct investment with an estimated indirect impact of $6 million;

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Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House applaud the efforts of the "Festival of Speed Cape Breton" Board of Directors following an announcement on October 5, 2005, for a classic motorcycle race, the first of its kind in Cape Breton and North America.

RESOLUTION NO. 4675

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

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

Whereas Just Us! Coffee Roasters Co-operative has recently completed renovations on a huge 6,000-square-foot building on William Street in Hantsport; and

Whereas the coffee co-operative with the renovation will now dive deeper into the chocolate manufacturing business by producing everything from chocolate-covered organic coffee beans, hot chocolate, bons-bons and baker's chocolate; and

Whereas following trips to Bolivia, Equador and Paraguay by co-founder and business development manager Jeff Moore, and trips to South Africa, California and Paris by co-operative worker Kevin Gauthier, where he attended the world's largest chocolate trade show, the co-operative is hoping to strike a niche selling fair trade organic chocolate, something no other company is presently producing anywhere in Canada;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House commend Just Us! Coffee Roasters Co-operative of Hantsport on their expansion and wish them success with their new initiative.

RESOLUTION NO. 4676

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

Whereas Christopher Allen is one of only three Cumberland County Scouts to earn Scouts Canada's top award, the Chief Scout Award; and

Whereas Christopher, who is a member of the 1st Cumberland Hills troop in Collingwood, received his award recently from Governor General Adrienne Clarkson in Halifax; and

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Whereas Christopher worked very hard towards earning the prestigious award, and his family and friends all salute him on his efforts;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Christopher Allen on this outstanding achievement, and wish him continued success in the future.

RESOLUTION NO. 4677

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

Whereas Carl MacFarlane of Parrsboro was presented with a Certificate of Commendation for his efforts in rescuing Sherry Jeffers and her infant daughter, Jessica, from their burning home in February, 2005; and

Whereas public attention was the last thing on the mind of Carl MacFarlane when he rescued these two people from the building, but that didn't stop anyone from noticing his heroic act; and

Whereas on behalf of Governor General Adrienne Clarkson, Parrsboro Mayor Doug Robinson presented Mr. MacFarlane with the certificate and thanked him for his selfless actions that were an inspiration to others and represent a high form of citizenship of which we are all proud;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Carl MacFarlane on this act of selfless heroism, and wish him all the best in the future.

RESOLUTION NO. 4678

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

Whereas Cadet Maxine Laflamme of #1859 Royal Canadian Army Cadet Corps in Springhill was proud to receive his gold Royal Canadian Army Cadet National Rifle Team pin; and

Whereas Maxine competed against British Cadet Rifle Teams in Bisley, England and Connaught National Army Cadet Summer Training Centre in Ottawa, Ontario during July and August; and

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Whereas Maxine has made his friends, family, fellow students and this province proud of his accomplishments;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Maxine Laflamme on this outstanding accomplishment, and wish him all the best in the future.

RESOLUTION NO. 4679

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

Whereas Sara Laurie received a first place ribbon from Miss Curtis and Mr. Moore (coaches) at the track and field regionals in Truro in May 2005; and

Whereas Sara competed in the javelin competition at the regionals representing her Springhill school; and

Whereas Sara is a very athletic student who has earned the pride of her family, friends and fellow schoolmates;

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

RESOLUTION NO. 4680

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

Whereas Tiffany McEachern from River Hebert High School took top senior athlete honours during the River Hebert District High sports awards; and

Whereas Tiffany also picked up the MVP award for senior soccer and rookie of the year trophy for the senior basketball squad; and

Whereas Tiffany's friends, family and fellow students are all very proud of her accomplishments and hard work;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Tiffany McEachern on these outstanding achievements, and wish her continued success in the future.

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RESOLUTION NO. 4681

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

Whereas Malcolm McCulloch, a 13-year-old Parrsboro youth was the recipient of the Royal Bank sponsorship program this past Summer with the Ship's Company Theatre; and

Whereas Malcolm spent part of his apprenticeship following technical director Andrew Rafuse and head carpenter Cory Mullins, and he states that he has learned a lot from both; and

Whereas Malcolm says besides it being a learning experience, he also had a lot of fun working behind the scenes seeing how the play comes to life;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Malcolm McCulloch on being the recipient of this sponsorship program, and wish him all the best in the future.

RESOLUTION NO. 4682

By: Mr. Ronald Chisholm (Guysborough-Sheet Harbour)

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

Whereas Guysborough County welcomes a new Catholic priest, Father Jonathan Nweke; and

Whereas Father Jonathan Nweke was born in Nigeria and now is one of five Nigerian priests who are part of the Diocese of Antigonish; and

Whereas Father Jonathan Nweke will be the priest for five community churches: St. Anne's, Guysborough; St. Patricks, Guysborough Intervale; St. Thomas, Salmon River; St. Peter's, Larrys River; and St. Joseph's, Charlos Cove;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House welcome Father Nweke to the Guysborough community, and hope he feels at home here in Nova Scotia.

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RESOLUTION NO. 4683

By: Hon. Peter Christie (Finance)

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

Whereas Mainland Common Recreation Centre Society was formed in November 2003, with a mandate to assist the Halifax Regional Municipality in the planning of a new multi-purpose recreation facility for Mainland North; and

Whereas tonight, October 19, 2005, at a public meeting at Halifax West High School, Halifax Regional Municipality will move the project to the design and construction phase, thus completing the mandate for the Mainland Common Recreation Society; and

Whereas during the past two years the volunteer members of the society have committed thousands of hours as they worked with the HRM to develop the concept for this new facility, which will promote healthy active living for the residents of Mainland North and across the HRM;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Mary Ann McGrath, Chair of the MCRC Society, and board members Judith Newman, Mel Hackett, Nancy Boland, Heather Murphy, Bruce Holland, Rodi Salloum, Leah Lewis, Mark Young, Gordon Young, Robert Dean, Susan Hayes and John Dow, as well as the countless volunteer committee members, for their tremendous volunteer contribution over the past two years, and wish them well in their future endeavours.