The Nova Scotia Legislature

The House resumed on:
September 21, 2017.

Hansard -- Fri., May 18, 2001

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HALIFAX, FRIDAY, MAY 18, 2001

Fifty-eighth General Assembly

Second Session

9:00 A.M.

SPEAKER

Hon. Murray Scott

DEPUTY SPEAKERS

Mr. Brooke Taylor, Mr. Kevin Deveaux, Mr. David Wilson

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Before we begin the daily routine, I want to offer congratulations to the honourable member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage on the birth of a new baby girl - 9 pounds, 1 ounce. Congratulations to his wife. I understand she is a nice looking baby, just like his wife. Congratulations on behalf of all the members. (Applause)

AN HON. MEMBER: If she looks like him, I hope she grows out of it. (Laughter)

ANOTHER HON. MEMBER: A would-be Tory.

MR. SPEAKER: A would-be Tory? I don't know about that. (Laughter)

We will begin the daily routine.

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

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MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition on behalf of 32 students from the Burridge Campus in Yarmouth. The operative clause reads, "Mr. Ritchard Hurlburt MLA . . . As our elected member of the Nova Scotia Legislature, we ask that you aggressively work to have Bill 19 passed during this sitting. This would ensure that we would be permitted to work in our chosen field as Practical Nurses here in Nova Scotia." I have affixed my signature.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Education.

RESOLUTION NO. 1239

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

Whereas five Horton High School students are going to the national Reach for the Top Championships next week; and

Whereas the Horton students defeated Glace Bay High School in the final competition in Truro recently; and

Whereas team members Matt Howatt, Gene Mercer, Jason Matthews, Jane Sponagle and Jenny Trites and Coach Barry Leslie will be in Edmonton for the nationals;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the Nova Scotia team and wish them success in the national competition.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Health.

RESOLUTION NO. 1240

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

Whereas May 7 to May 13, 2001 across Canada marked the 50th Anniversary of Mental Health Week with the theme this year, Emerging into Light, representing resilience and recovery for peopel who care about mental illness and mental health; and

Whereas the Halifax Branch of the Canadian Mental Health Association over the last 50 years has been educating the public about mental illness and the importance of maintaining good mental health; and

Whereas because many people with mental disorders continue to face discrimination and experience personal feelings of shame, the inclusion and acceptance of people with mental illness is an important social justice issue that needs to be publicly recognized;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House remember the purpose of May 7th to May 13th which was Mental Health Week in the Province of Nova Scotia and endorse the Emerging into Light symbol as an affirmation that mental health involves everyone.

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.

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RESOLUTION NO. 1241

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

Whereas Jill Bishop, a Grade 12 student at Memorial High School in Sydney Mines recently won a work-site safety competition in Halifax, hosted by Skills Nova Scotia, by using knowledge gained in the cooking course she is taking; and

Whereas she will go on to represent Nova Scotia at the National Skills Canada Competition in Edmonton later this month; and

Whereas Ms. Bishop will be joined by four other students from Memorial High School who won first place in various disciplines in the competition;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate Ms. Bishop and her classmates for their achievement and wish them good luck in the forthcoming competition.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Kings North on an introduction.

MR. MARK PARENT: Mr. Speaker, in the gallery there is a young man who is part of the brain drain problem that we have here but hopefully with our government that will come to an end soon. He is going down to the States for a job this summer but fortunately it is just for the summer and he will be back in September and it is my son, Jeremy Parent. I would ask him to rise. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: We certainly welcome visitors to the gallery today.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Centre on an introduction.

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MR. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, in the west gallery is a friend of many from Cape Breton, a former alderman in the City of Sydney and an activist on behalf of many of the seniors in the area and indeed throughout the province. He is also a member of the district health board. I would like the Legislature to welcome Mr. Dan Yakimchuk from Whitney Pier. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: We welcome the visitors to the gallery today.

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

RESOLUTION NO. 1242

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

Whereas friends and supporters of Elizabeth May and the Sydney tar ponds' families will gather today at noon at Province House for A Mainlanders Vigil in Support of Cape Breton Families; and

Whereas no long-term health assessment has ever been conducted to determine the effects upon these families of exposure to high levels of contaminants over a lengthy period of time; and

Whereas the immediate need is to relocate as many as 70 families in the Whitney Pier area who have been exposed to the tar ponds and the coke ovens site contamination;

Therefore be it resolved that this government applaud the courageous actions of Elizabeth May and her hunger strike in support of the Sydney tar ponds' families, and agree to work out a relocation scheme for those families with other levels of government immediately.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

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The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

RESOLUTION NO. 1243

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

Whereas proposed budget information from District Health Authority 2 may serve as an example of what is to come in terms of health care cuts in Nova Scotia; and

Whereas one potential reduction in service will impact orthopaedic surgeries in Yarmouth and Bridgewater; and

Whereas loss of this service means more surgeries will be performed in Halifax, longer waiting lists, and a potential disintegration of the entire orthopaedic program in the former western region;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of the House recognize decisions such as these, forced on the district health authorities by this government, will mean less services offered in the community and more pressures being placed on Halifax.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Kings North.

RESOLUTION NO. 1244

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

Whereas Maurice Allen is a retired librarian living in Kentville; and

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Whereas Maurice Allen has recently written and published a book entitled Income Equality: Challenging the Defenses of the Unfettered Free Market; and

Whereas Maurice Allen offers a reasoned and poignant call for greater financial equality between the peoples of the world;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly congratulate Maurice Allen on his book, and encourage him in his efforts to bring about a more just distribution of this world's resources.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage.

RESOLUTION NO. 1245

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

Whereas May 13th to May 19th is Police Week 2001, an annual event that has been celebrated since 1962, when it was conceived by President John F. Kennedy; and

Whereas the police officers of Nova Scotia work devotedly and selflessly on our behalf, regardless of the peril or hazard to themselves; and

Whereas by the enforcement of our laws, these same officers have maintained peace, order and good government, and their dedicated efforts have earned the gratitude of all Nova Scotians;

Therefore be it resolved that this House applaud and honour the dedication and achievements of all police officers in Nova Scotia and wish them every success with community events during Police Week 2001.

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Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

RESOLUTION NO. 1246

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

Whereas District Health Authority 2 has been forced to propose budget cuts that will impact health care services in Shelburne, Digby, and Yarmouth counties; and

Whereas one proposed casualty is the loss of nighttime coverage of the switchboard at the Roseway Hospital; and

Whereas 11 fire departments in the community rely on this service as a central point for dispatching emergency response;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize this potential devastation which could leave Shelburne County very vulnerable in terms of emergency dispatch and response.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Annapolis.

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RESOLUTION NO. 1247

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

Whereas the 69th Annual Annapolis Valley Apple Blossom Festival will have its official opening at the Kings Theatre in Annapolis Royal, Thursday evening, May 30th; and

Whereas the Annapolis Valley Apple Blossom Festival has been ranked by the American Bus Association as one of the top 100 tourist events in North America; and

Whereas apples have been part of the Valley's history and heritage, having first been grown in the Valley dating back to the 1620's while remaining today, some 400 years later, an important component of the Valley's agricultural industry;

[9:15 a.m.]

Therefore be it resolved that MLAs extend our warmest regard to the Apple Blossom Executive Committee and western representative, Karin MacArthur as they prepare for the official opening of the 69th Annual Annapolis Valley Apple Blossom Festival in Annapolis Royal.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice. I would like to inform the House that Karin MacArthur is the wife of the Clerk, Mr. Rod MacArthur.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

I would just ask the honourable members to keep the conversations down, as it is very difficult for myself and the Clerks to hear the motions before the House. Maybe we will have that reread for the Clerk, should we?

The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I thought that was a good idea. Did the Clerk agree? He agreed.

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RESOLUTION NO. 1248

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

Whereas former Yarmouth resident Shauna M. McGarrahan moved to Kamloops, B.C., to take the respiratory therapy program; and

Whereas the respiratory therapy course in Halifax accepts only 10 students per year; and

Whereas Shauna McGarrahan will be honoured in Toronto on June 2nd for achieving the highest score on the Canadian Board for Respiratory Care examinations for the year 2000, and she will also receive the Trudell Award for the highest score in the University College of the Cariboo program in Kamloops;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of the Legislature recognize and congratulate Shauna M. McGarrahan for her outstanding scholastic achievements and strongly encourage her to return to Nova Scotia to utilize her specialized medical skills in respiratory care.

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 Leader of the Liberal Party.

RESOLUTION NO. 1249

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

Whereas this week, the Black Cultural Centre announced it will host an exhibition entitled, Remembering Black Loyalists, Black Communities for the summer months; and

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Whereas the exhibition introduces the story of more than 2,700 Black Loyalists who arrived in Nova Scotia between 1783-1975; and

Whereas the exhibition highlights the early history of the communities of Birchtown, Shelburne County, and the Tracadie area of Antigonish, Guysborough County;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House of Assembly congratulate the exhibit's sponsors and organizers for bringing this important piece of our history to the community.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Health.

RESOLUTION NO. 1250

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

Whereas Shirley Stokes was recently recognized by the Town of Truro for her volunteer services; and

Whereas among other activities, Shirley Stokes has been President of a seniors' organization, the Good Neighbours Club, for five years and has earned the title, caterer for organizing food service for the Fundy Senior Games; and

Whereas Shirley Stokes has been a volunteer for the Diabetes Association, the Heart and Stroke Association, the Huntington Society and is an active fundraiser for the Colchester Regional Hospital Hub Bub;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House thank Shirley Stokes for her many activities on behalf of others and for demonstrating in such good measure, the principles of volunteerism.

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Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect.

RESOLUTION NO. 1251

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

Whereas the Yankeetown Road, off the Hammond Plains Road needs work; and

Whereas this historic road certainly requires improvements; and

Whereas the residents of Yankeetown are frustrated with delays and excuses from the Department of Transportation and Public Works;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Transportation and Public Works inform residents of the Yankeetown Road when their road will receive the attention it deserves.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton South.

RESOLUTION NO. 1252

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

Whereas 400 of Bridgewater Elementary School's 550 students play chess; and

Whereas many of them start as early as Principal Mitch Landry's Grade 3 class; and

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Whereas recently teams from Bridgewater Elementary School competed in the provincial Chess Championships with both Grade 4 and under, as well as Grade 5 and Grade 6 teams being named champions;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate all participants in the provincial chess tournament, particularly the champions from Bridgewater Elementary School.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed.

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Community Services.

RESOLUTION NO. 1253

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

Whereas the Nova Scotia Rifle Association began its precision rifle season in Bedford on Saturday, May 12, 2001; and

Whereas Rick Dunn of Fall River claimed the Irving Trophy, firing distances of 300 to 600 yards; and

Whereas Rick Dunn scored 119 of a possible 125 points to win the trophy; Halifax's Andrew Webber placed second; and Bedford's Trevor Ponee placed third;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House extend their congratulations to Rick Dunn on winning the season's first event and wish all competitors a safe and successful season.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Hants East.

RESOLUTION NO. 1254

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

Whereas yesterday the Minister of Natural Resources announced provincial park camping fee increases; and

Whereas the fee increases range from 28.5 per cent to 66.6 per cent and the minister claims the increases were necessary to meet higher operating costs and the need for park improvements; and

Whereas the Auditor General has told this government that it should show that fee increases are tied to the cost of programs involved;

Therefore be it resolved that this House call upon the Minister of Natural Resources to table information justifying the provincial park camping fee increases announced yesterday.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

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RESOLUTION NO. 1255

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 Evergreen Foundation of Canada is committed to sustainable, hands-on change on Canada's school grounds; and

Whereas Ross Road School has, through the aid of the Evergreen Foundation, formed a Naturalization Committee to bring nature back to the schoolyard and beautify their school; and

Whereas in the first year of their program, the Green Team of Ross Road teachers and students are installing and planting a garden box outside the entrance of the junior high and hope to keep the school grounds litter free;

Therefore be it resolved that this House commend the Green Team of students and teachers at Ross Road School for bringing nature back to their schoolyard with the assistance of the Evergreen Foundation.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

RESOLUTION NO. 1256

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

Whereas an adequately funded national early childhood development program is sorely needed in Canada; and

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Whereas the Minister of Community Services announced $66 million in new childhood development spending last week, conveniently omitting the fact that the vast bulk of the funding comes from Ottawa; and

Whereas the minister should be condemned for claiming the limelight for a program that provides too little to too few;

Therefore be it resolved that this House ask that its members not quibble on who pays what for early childhood development programs and instead work to ensure the programs meet the demand and is adequately funded.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton East.

RESOLUTION NO. 1257

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

Whereas yesterday the Minister of Community Services got caught trying to take credit for a $66 million investment by the federal Liberal Government; and

Whereas both members of the House and the media were not prepared to let the minister get away with it; and

Whereas outside the House yesterday, the minister and his staff seemed suitably embarrassed when confronted with the problem;

Therefore be it resolved that the member for Halifax Bedford Basin may hand out good cookies Mr. Christie, but you got caught with your hand in the $66 million cookie jar.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect.

RESOLUTION NO. 1258

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

Whereas the River Road off the Terence Bay Road needs work; and

Whereas this road leads to numerous scenic and beautiful locations around the river; and

Whereas area residents are frustrated with delays and excuses from the Department of Transportation and Public Works;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Transportation and Public Works inform residents of the River Road in Terence Bay when their road will receive the attention it deserves.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

ORDERS OF THE DAY

GOVERNMENT BUSINESS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

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

PRIVATE AND LOCAL BILLS FOR SECOND READING

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 24.

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Bill No. 24 - St. Francis Xavier University Millennium Centre Grants Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury.

MR. RONALD CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I move second reading of Bill No. 24, St. Francis Xavier University Millennium Centre Grants Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for second reading of Bill No. 24. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

Ordered that this bill be referred to the Committee on Private and Local Bills.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 26.

Bill No. 26 - Chester Trails Act.

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

MR. JOHN CHATAWAY: Mr. Speaker, Bill No. 26 is a bill requested by the Municipality of Chester to expend money to build a trail for citizens who live in the Chester Municipality. Various local organizations support this bill and they have federal and provincial money and council wants to help these organizations out. I move second reading.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for second reading of Bill No. 26. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

Ordered that this bill be referred to the Committee on Private and Local Bills.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 45 and on behalf of the honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley, I move second reading.

Bill No. 45 - Upper Stewiacke Fire Protection Act.

Bill No. 54 - District of Barrington Health Professionals Assistance Act.

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Bill No. 56 - Act Respecting the Cathedral Church of the Diocese of Nova Scotia.

Bill No. 57 - Halifax Corresponding Committee Act.

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

The motion is carried.

Ordered that these bills be referred to the Committee on Private and Local Bills.

The honourable Government House Leader.

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

PRIVATE MEMBERS' PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 27.

Bill No. 27 - Veterinary Medical Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings West.

MR. JON CAREY: Mr. Speaker, this bill serves public interest and protects the integrity of the profession of veterinary medicine in Nova Scotia. Therefore, I move second reading of Bill No. 27.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for second reading of Bill No. 27. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

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

The honourable Government House Leader.

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

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PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 15.

Bill No. 15 - Teachers' Collective Bargaining Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Education.

[9:30 a.m.]

HON. JANE PURVES: I am pleased to speak briefly to second reading of this bill. This legislation will amend the Teachers' Collective Bargaining Act to move from two-tier bargaining towards single-tier bargaining with the Nova Scotia Teachers Union. Currently, both individual school boards and the province negotiate separately with the NSTU. What this legislation means is that some items currently negotiated with each of the seven school boards will now be negotiated and included in the teachers' provincial collective agreement. It also stipulates that any new items will be added to the provincial negotiations, not to individual board negotiations.

In practical terms, this legislation will result in a less cumbersome and a more cost-effective collective bargaining process with Nova Scotia's teachers. In the current process we have seven negotiating teams conducting seven sets of meetings with seven sets of meeting expenses. Moving to single-tier bargaining will help to reduce these costs for the boards, for the union and for the department. It will also lead to greater consistency in contracts for all teachers throughout the province. Over time, this new process will allow us to move monetary items such as service awards and professional development money to the provincial bargaining table. Currently, there are considerable differences in the monetary value of these items from board to board. Single-tier bargaining will help us establish a provincial standard much like the existing provincial standard for salary and benefits.

The teachers union and the department agreed in February 2001 to move from two-tier towards single-tier bargaining. We are now working together to determine which items will be moved up to the provincial negotiations this year. A number of items will remain at the board level until future agreements are made, but once an item is moved up to the provincial level, it cannot be returned to the board level. Eventually, we expect to move all items to the provincial level. The majority of provincial and territorial jurisdictions in Canada use a single-tier system and Nova Scotia will now be in line with this practice.

The current contract between the department and the union expires on December 31, 2001 and it is my hope that the members of this House will ensure that this bill is in effect in time for fall negotiations. Thank you.

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MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: I am pleased to have an opportunity to rise in my place and speak very briefly to Bill No. 15, the Teachers' Collective Bargaining Act. I had an opportunity to speak with many teachers and with the Nova Scotia Teachers Union with respect to this bill and I would assume that we will hear some interventions at the Law Amendments Committee, which I am very much looking forward to. As I understand, based on the information that I have so far, this is the beginning of a process to look at what items would be appropriate to have negotiated at a provincial level. Certainly this caucus is very much in support of this process that will be underway quite shortly and will have quite an impact on collective bargaining with teachers around the province, providing more uniformity and the kinds of protections that all of the parties are looking forward to seeing entrenched in the collective bargaining process.

I just want to say as a caveat, we are in the Law Amendments Committee process on another bill, Bill No. 20 and it was interesting to hear presentations from CUPE and the SIEU and some of these other unions who have been asking for a similar commitment from government to abandon what they see to be a very inefficient and costly process of collective bargaining where every nursing home in the province has to go separately, where every school board contract - a different sectorial group has to be negotiated separately. What these unions representing workers in health care, education and a variety of public service areas have been asking this government and previous governments for is provincial bargaining by sector, which would eliminate the extraordinary high cost of private lawyers employed by government in each one of those collective agreements and it would free up the staff time in the various unions to service their membership and to deal with a variety of issues.

So, perhaps this amendment that the government is adopting with respect to the Teachers' Collective Bargaining Act is a sign that there is some willingness in this government to look at the question of collective bargaining more generally with other unions representing public servants in the interest of Nova Scotians and of those workers. So with those few remarks, Mr. Speaker, I will take my place.

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

MR. WAYNE GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise and say a few words on Bill No. 15, An Act to Amend Chapter 460 of the Revised Statutes, 1989, the Teachers' Collective Bargaining Act. Several months ago, I had the opportunity to meet with the president and the executive director of the Nova Scotia Teachers Union. They wanted to let our caucus know that the NSTU had reached agreement with government to move from two-tier bargaining towards single-tier bargaining.

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Mr. Speaker, over the years, there have been some discussions to look at one-tier bargaining. Then, in 1999, the NSTU passed the following resolution at its annual council: Therefore be it resolved that the Council 1999 authorize the provincial executive to re-examine the idea of a one-tier bargaining of the provincial level.

Mr. Speaker, following the passage of this resolution in 1999, the NSTU has had ongoing discussions with the Department of Education and with the Nova Scotia School Board Association. Those discussions have resulted in the introduction of Bill No. 15. The purpose of this bill is to narrow the scope of items that are bargained at the local level and transferring some of those items to the bargaining table at the provincial level with the Department of Education.

This piece of legislation provides for a transition period, and existing agreements between school boards and the NSTU will remain in force until replaced by agreements between the Minister of Education and the NSTU. Currently, Mr. Speaker, the NSTU bargains provincially with the Minister of Education on such issues as salary, certification, insurance, school years, term contracts and substitute teachers. The NSTU bargains at the regional level with each school board on matters such as seniority, staff reduction, transfers, sick leave, professional development and service awards.

Mr. Speaker, these items may vary from one regional school board to another. But there are still provisions for some items to remain at the local level. However, as I understand it, once an item is negotiated at the provincial level, it cannot be returned to the regional level. So there has to be mutual agreement between the Department of Education and the NSTU for an item to be moved from the regional level to the provincial level. I understand that all provinces and territories except British Columbia, Saskatchewan and Nova Scotia have single-tier bargaining at either the provincial or regional level.

In closing, Mr. Speaker, our caucus is in support of Bill No. 15.

MR. SPEAKER: If I recognize the honourable minister, it will be to close the debate.

The honourable Minister of Education.

HON. JANE PURVES: Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the members opposite for their remarks and I would like to move second reading of Bill No. 15, An Act to Amend Chapter 460 of the Revised Statutes, 1989, the Teachers' Collective Bargaining Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for second reading of Bill No. 15. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

[Page 3699]

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

The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect on an introduction.

MR. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, it is with a great deal of pride that I take the opportunity to introduce to the House today some students from Ridgecliff Middle School. They are in Grade 8. I am going to ask them to stand in a moment. I want you to know that I met them for a moment downstairs, and they actually agreed to one of my old rules, that you should never wear a hat in a public place, and you will notice that not one of them, and I know how important that New York Yankees hat was to that young man. However, I would also like to introduce Theresa Perron, Mrs. Meisner and Gwen MacLeod, who are here from the staff; and the man who I gave more volleyball lessons to than anybody else, Mr. Boudreau. If you could stand, the group from Ridgecliff Middle School. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: I certainly welcome our special guests to the House today. Thank you for the introduction.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 17.

Bill No. 17 - Optometry Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Health.

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in this House today to say a few words about Bill No. 17, An Act to Amend Chapter 328 of the Revised Statutes, 1989, the Optometry Act. In 1992, the government enacted legislation to allow dentists to incorporate their professional practices, and in 1995, the government of the day did the same thing for physicians. What this bill does is continue the process of bringing some consistency among health professions with regard to legislation.

Mr. Speaker, professional incorporation hasn't been our only concern, in fact, the most important amendments during the past several years in the health professions Act dealt specifically with disciplinary processes. We are happy to see, today, that there is far more consistency in that area among the health professions than before. The recently introduced bills in nursing, when passed, will extend that consistency. Like previous amendments to the Statutes in the other health professions, as I have said, this bill would give optometrists the right to professional incorporation. This amendment is important to patients, as well as to the optometrists.

[Page 3700]

Mr. Speaker, I just want to say that staff in the Department of Health have worked very closely with representatives from the Nova Scotia Association of Optometrists to prepare this legislation. I believe, actually the President of the Nova Scotia Optometry Association, Dr. Paula Gaudet was scheduled to be with us, representing the association.

Mr. Speaker, this legislation reflects what has already happened with other health professions, and I urge my colleagues in the House to move this amendment forward as quickly as possible.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, I welcome the opportunity to rise to speak briefly on Bill No. 17, An Act to Amend Chapter 328 of the Revised Statutes, 1989, the Optometry Act. I have had an opportunity to review the bill. I believe that it does exactly what the Minister of Health says it does, which I must say, also, is somewhat unusual for government bills, but I appreciate seeing that this is, in fact, the case with this bill.

It provides, as he said, for the incorporation of optometry into a professional practice.

It also covers a number of technical things: the number of directors in the corporation, which have to be optometrists in order to be able to incorporate; how permitting will take place; what happens if the members of the corporation should change. All of these things are necessary in the conduct of a modern association, a modern business.

Any of the members opposite who have been engaged in business will know that having those rules straight at the beginning and understanding what your commitments are to a professional corporation is very important, not only for you as a person who is engaging in that business and who has a relationship with the other directors and other shareholders in the business, but also because it clarifies for you your relationship as well to your patient and to the professional association. These are important things if you are going to continue on with a successful service delivery business in the province these days.

Mr. Speaker, with those very brief comments on the Optometry Act, I want to say that we will be supporting the Act, we look forward to its passage and believe that ultimately, everyone in the province will be better off with the amendment as framed.

[9:45 a.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

DR. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I, too, would like to rise in support of Bill No. 17, An Act to Amend Chapter 328 of the Revised Statutes, 1989, the Optometry Act. I was shuffling through my notes and I realized also standing in line are probably the opticians in this province, there has been quite a bit of material I had to sort out between

[Page 3701]

ophthalmologists, optometrists and opticians. Today, of course, we are addressing the Opticians Act but I better be sure of that - the Optometry Act, sorry. I just had to get my glasses fixed and I am getting used to them and that was an optician. So just a little history lesson here for those people who do get those terms confused, because it is important.

We are talking about professionalism and addressing professionalism which protects those persons who are practising optometrists and also that the public understands the role of that person and what they can and cannot do and a bit about their background. Again, it is important, just as we have addressed issues relative to social workers, occupational therapists, physiotherapists and others that we are seeing more and more of these professional groups bringing forth legislation that strengthens their practice, the protection for their members, the responsibilities of their members, to those they serve.

This legislation allows optometrists in Nova Scotia to incorporate professionally. We understand that the Nova Scotia Association of Optometrists has worked closely, as the minister said this morning, with the Department of Health to develop these amendments and we want to compliment both groups in doing that.

Dr. Paula Gaudet from the association has indicated the association's full support for the legislation and that certainly helps when we see the various groups that are impacted by this legislation come forward with a statement of support. I think it eases passage of the legislation through this House of Assembly. We support the government's move to amend the legislation through consultation with the association.

The mission of the profession of optometry is to fulfill the vision and eye care needs of the public through clinical care, research and education, all of which enhance the quality of lives of all of us sooner or later. Doctors of optometry are independent, primary health care providers, who specialize in the examination, diagnosis, treatment, management and prevention of diseases and disorders of the visual system, the eye and associated structures, as well as the diagnosis of related systemic conditions. So there is a broad range of conditions that can impact on vision and it is important that the roles and responsibilities of optometrists are clearly spelled out, in that we can see how it directly impacts on the health and related diseases that have bearing on the vision of the person.

These amendments are similar to changes made to legislation for other health professionals, as I mentioned earlier. I think the House is never more united behind legislation any stronger, by all three Parties, than when we bring forward legislation addressing the issues of professionalism of various groups, particular in the health care field of health professionals, as we do here today with the Optometry Act.

The following are a few of the professional powers the association may exercise under the Act: may prescribe fines and prescribe the types of forms required to be filed by optometrists; it requires that the professional corporation file periodic returns; it requires that

[Page 3702]

professionals renew their permits annually. The Act describes the differences between sole proprietor, a professional corporation, and partnerships. The permit of a professional corporation can be suspended without notice or investigation if a professional fails to pay fees or file appropriate documents. In addition, the organization is given the power to suspend, review and reinstate permits. The bill creates a registry of all optometrists registered to practise in Nova Scotia. Permits to practise optometry are based on whether or not optometrists comply with the following, and they must file all required applications, pay all associated fees. The corporation must be in good standing with the Registry of Joint Stock Companies. The name of the company cannot be objectionable. The professional must hold liability insurance.

The bill also states that any professional who contravenes the bill and who is convicted of a summary offence must pay a fine not exceeding $500; for the second offence, the fee shall not exceed $1,000.

So those are just some of the details. I know that the House is familiar with these, but in my support of this legislation I want to highlight the areas that we think are important. So in closing, Mr. Speaker, again we support the amendments of this Act as they give optometrists the right to practice optometry through a professional corporation. Doctors, dentists, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, chiropractors, and denturists have undergone similar changes in legislation since 1992. Licensed practical nurses, registered nurses, and social workers have also proposed amendments to their respective legislation that we have on the Orders of the Day here today.

The amendments of the Optometry Act are one step toward creating consistency between health care professionals, with regard to legislation, and we are very pleased to support this legislation.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. If I recognize the honourable Minister of Health, it will be to close debate on Bill No. 17.

The honourable Minister of Health.

HON. JAMES MUIR: I would like to thank the Health Critics and the Opposition Parties for their support of this bill. With those few comments, Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to move second reading of Bill No. 17.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for second reading of Bill No. 17. Is the House ready for the question?

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

The motion is carried.

[Page 3703]

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

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, we will go to Bill No. 19, I believe, the Licensed Practical Nurses Act, and return to Bill No. 18 at a later date.

Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 19

Bill No. 19 - Licensed Practical Nurses Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Health.

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to rise today for the second reading of Bill No. 19, Licensed Practical Nurses Act. Before I make some remarks summarizing the legislation, I want to say how pleased I am to bring it forward. This new legislation not only supports the licensed practical nursing profession, it supports the government's vision of sustainable health care delivery and primary health care reform, which is consistent with the vision of the many health organizations in Canada.

It also ensures that Nova Scotians continue to benefit from quality nursing care. When the bill was introduced last month, Mr. Speaker, there were many groups and individuals who came to show their support. I would like to thank at this time Ann Mann, the Executive Director of the Practical Nurses Licensing Board; Joe MacLellan, Chairman of the Practical Nurses Licensing Board; Agnes MacDonald, President of the Licensed Practical Nurses Association of Nova Scotia; and Albert MacIntyre, Executive Director of the Licensed Practical Nurses Association of Nova Scotia. These individuals, and their staff, have done wonderful work in co-operation with department staff to bring this legislation to the House today.

Last month, the government released the province's first-ever nursing strategy. This strategy which was created by nurses for nurses outlines initiatives in four key areas that will help us to recruit and retain nurses in Nova Scotia. The four areas are: support to practising nurses, support to student nurses, enhanced recruitment resources and an improved workforce development and utilization.

This new legislation, developed with the co-operation, input of our nurses' supports, complements our new nursing strategy because it will enable fuller utilization of licensed practical nurses' scope of practice; a benefit for licensed practical nurses and, indeed, for the health system.

[Page 3704]

As changes occur in our health care system, it follows that ongoing changes are required in the roles and responsibilities of those individuals who are working in our health care system. We have heard from our consultation with nurses that they want to work in settings that offer professional satisfaction, indeed, where they can make full use of their skills, abilities and training. Mr. Speaker, this new legislation will enable our practical nurses to do just that. To build a health care system that is sustainable, we have to go beyond the status quo and introduce new ways of delivering health care. This means making better use of our resources such as the skills and abilities of licensed practical nurses.

As you are aware, we are also introducing a new registered nurses Act which, again, will enhance the role of our nurses because it will provide nurse practitioner legislation. These two pieces of legislation, together with the new nursing strategy, represent a collective step forward for nurses in Nova Scotia. Licensed practical nurses, we know, are underutilized in some settings. There is potential to improve our overall health care delivery through better use of their skill set.

The new legislation clarifies the scope of practice of the licensed practical nurse and will enable employers to more fully and uniformly utilize their skills and abilities. Under the new Act, the licensed practical nurse would practice under the general direction of a physician or a registered nurse. The current regulations say they must work under the supervision of a physician or registered nurse, which, at times, can limit their ability to practise to their full potential.

This new Act represents the first time legislation has defined their scope of practice. The scope of practice reflects their new curriculum, which has been updated in recent years to place more emphasis on assessment skills and pharmacology. Upon completion, they have well-defined competencies, they must write and pass a national exam to be licensed. We recognize that licensed practical nurses have an important role to fill as members of the modern health care team. This legislation brings us closer to building these modern health care teams and creating the health care system of tomorrow; a system that maximizes the skills and expertise of each team member in a cost-effective and sustainable manner. With everyone working together we can achieve that.

The new Licensed Practical Nurses Act also includes a name change. The Practical Nurses Licencing Board will become the College of Licensed Practical Nurses of Nova Scotia. The college designation means that the organization serves the profession by assuring the public that appropriate professional standards are in place and maintained. Like many other professional disciplines, licensed practical nurses are self-regulating. The name change to college reflects a trend for self-regulating professions across Canada. In Nova Scotia some other professions that have a college designation include physicians, occupational therapists, medical laboratory technologists, chiropractors and psychologists. As we welcome the new College of Licensed Practical Nurses of Nova Scotia, we recognize the many

[Page 3705]

accomplishments achieved by the Licensed Practical Nurses Association of Nova Scotia throughout the years.

I have been assured by representatives of the board and the association that their work will continue under the new college, as the profession takes another step forward through a single organization. Our licensed practical nurses are held in high regard by the people of Nova Scotia. The name college will more accurately reflect their self-regulatory role and will only serve to enhance the public trust and respect that licensed practical nurses now have.

[10:00 a.m.]

Other provisions in the bill are a reduction in board membership to 12 from 15 and the development of bylaws to manage the college. There will also be a fairer and streamlined professional misconduct process, one that is consistent with other professional groups. Under the current legislation, the complaints committee has only two options, to dismiss or to send to a board hearing, resulting in 95 per cent of all complaints going to a discipline panel. This new Act provides for a complaints committee which will provide the college with a broader range of options for resolving complaints without the anxiety, delay and expense that can be caused by a full disciplinary proceeding.

Under the new legislation the college, in keeping with labour mobility issues, will be able to grant temporary licensing for out-of-province applicants and new graduates and, Mr. Speaker, this is extremely important. This new Act represents a significant step forward for licensed practical nurses in this province and reflects the importance of their role in our health care system. Over the course of the past year and a half, as this new Act was drafted, as I have said, we have worked closely with the Practical Nurses Lisensing Board and the Lisensed Practical Nurses Association of Nova Scotia and other interested groups to make sure the legislation supports the members. I ask all members of the House to support this bill for our licensed practical nurses for the people of Nova Scotia and for the good of our entire health care system.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, it is certainly a great pleasure to rise today to speak to Bill No. 19, An Act to Establish the College of Licensed Practical Nurses of Nova Scotia. The minister gave an overview of the work that went into this bill. Certainly I had on a number of occasions the opportunity to speak with Agnes MacDonald, the President of the Licensed Practical Nurses. We certainly consulted with them on this bill. They feel that this is going to help serve the licensed practical nurses of the province in a very positive way.

We are pleased that they are happy with the bill. We know that, in addition, patients in the health care system will indeed be better served through the mechanisms that are put in place by this bill. Certainly setting out what the scope of practice is for the LPNs is an

[Page 3706]

important aspect of this legislation. It is important for those who are employers of the LPNs. It is important for their relationship with other health care professionals within the health delivery system. It is important for the patients whom they have contact with on a daily basis. So that is a very important element of this legislation.

The minister mentioned that this sets up the College of Licensed Practical Nurses of Nova Scotia. This supersedes the existing body. As I understand it from the LPNs, they are quite pleased with this as well. They believe it will streamline many of the processes that they undertake right now; in particular, the complaints process. They feel it will become more cost-effective. It will be easier to deal with some of the complaints. Some of those that are not of a more serious nature will be able to be dealt with without having to convene the entire board. So all of these are important aspects of the legislation which will make the delivery of this service better in the province but, you know, I think even more importantly, it recognizes the value that LPNs bring to the health care delivery system in this province.

I want to just say for a second, I often think that this is a group of very hardworking Nova Scotians, very valuable employees, who get lost in the system. They are not recognized for their tremendous contribution to health care in this province. So I believe that over and above the good things that this legislation will do in regulating and making sure that the delivery of this service is done in a smooth way, in a way that makes sense - over and above

I think it is important for us in seeing the passage of this bill, just to take a few seconds, because I am sure that all of us who have had contacts with the health delivery system in this province, whether on our own behalf or on behalf of members of our family, at some point in time have had the opportunity to speak with or to deal with the LPNs of the province. I want to tell you, in my view they are a tremendously valuable part of that system and deserve the recognition that they get.

So with those comments, I want to say that we will be supporting this legislation. We look forward to it moving along and wish the LPNs all the best with the administration of the new Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

DR. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I too would like to rise in support of Bill No. 19, an Act to Establish the College of Licensed Practical Nurses of Nova Scotia. We are addressing professional bills here this morning, particularly in health care. I think as the previous speaker has said, there is no other group that I feel more positive about in rising in support of the increased professionalism of that profession than the licensed practical nurses or, as some of the older members of the Legislature would know them as CNAs. This group has been, over the years, striving for increased recognition, equal partnerships within the health care team and a recognition for the work that they are doing.

[Page 3707]

I think that there are many issues in health care, obviously, but you can boil them down sometimes on a good day to a few basics and one of them is access to the health care system and that really deals with primary care. Nova Scotians, when they want to access the health care system, who they meet are often family physicians and staff of the family physician, whatever that might be, whether that is an RN - and certainly we know that there are not enough expanded roles of RNs in primary care and neither is there a significant number of nurses within that system. So then we have a whole other group, and as we move through that system, whether it is in doctors' offices, that would give great opportunities for the LPNs, but particularly in hospitals.

I think all of us have heard complaints that Nova Scotians are looking around after they are admitted to hospital, and generally their care is good, Nova Scotians are generally quite satisfied with the care they receive in hospitals, but they just don't feel that the attention is there. So while nurses move into nurse management positions and increased workloads, we see the expanded role of the LPN in the hospital setting, because that is the person that often is touching the patient, if you will. If you listen carefully to what people are saying, generally it is that no one seems to have time for them, no one seems to have time to touch them and attend to their more personal needs. That certainly has been the role of the LPN in that particular area.

I think as we move forward and hopefully address the issues of access into the health care system and the whole issue of the primary health care team, we will see the LPNs being a strong part of that. That would be an initial contact, whether it be in a clinic, physician office, outpatients or emergency department and then as we follow through the system, the expanded role of the LPN as well as the expanded role of the RN. So there is lots of work to go around, Mr. Speaker, in the health care system. I think that is why legislation like this is so important, that we increase the professionalism as to how the protection of those delivering service and those persons receiving the care, how that is spelled out in legislation. That's what we are doing here today. So our position is a strong support for this legislation and we compliment the board and the association for their initiatives of coming together as a college.

Who will be affected by this legislation? Obviously, the licensed practical nurses and the general public of our province. What does it do, Mr. Speaker? It allows for the better use of licensed practical nurses as part of a modern health care system. It establishes a college of licensed practical nurses so as to ensure that appropriate professional standards are in place. It will come into effect on the day the Governor in Council orders and declares by proclamation. Where will it be effected? It will have impact throughout all of Nova Scotia. Why is it important? It is important because it reflects the LPN curriculum and adds clarity to the role of the LPNs, thus enabling them to practise to their full potential.

[Page 3708]

I would be remiss in saying that, time and time again I have worked side by side with CNAs and LPNs, they have felt, in all fairness, that they have not been properly recognized within their health care team and that they have not been allowed to work to their full potential. We know that that is a reality. I think this legislation will go a long way towards giving them professional status and recognition, to say, number one, they are important, they are valued and they are a legitimate and full functioning member of the health care team, regardless of where that might be in the continuum of care within the health care system.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. There is too much noise in the Chamber and it is very difficult to hear the honourable member who has the floor. I would ask the honourable members to take their conversations outside.

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, so I just want to, before I move on, add a personal note to all of those persons that I have had the opportunity to work with and the great advice, care and support they have offered to me as a family physician. I just want to let them know that I certainly have valued them over the years and whenever I have a chance, such as today, to speak and recount some of those specific instances, that I will do so.

This bill was introduced with the registered nurses legislation, Bill No. 18, I believe, Mr. Speaker, and I think that is appropriate because I think we are dealing in the same area. While I mentioned some of the issues relative to curriculum and training, I think while the training and the curriculum is different, there is much overlap and there needs to be much co-ordination because it is so important that those two groups understand and respect each others' capabilities, potential and their roles and responsibilities as spelled out in both Bill No. 18 and Bill No. 19.

The adoption requirement for annual licensure will bring Nova Scotia in line with the AIT agreement, the agreement on internal trade; the adoption and requirement for the annual licensure. I know there has been some discussion about the mandatory fees and all the other issues. I am only hoping that that will work out to the satisfaction and in fact this legislation will spell that out clearly.

This bill needs to pass so as to prevent a situation whereby graduating LPNs will have a two month span when they cannot practise in Nova Scotia. That has to be addressed. That was, I believe, part of the petition that was brought here before the House this morning. That could lead to not only liability issues, but it could also lead actually to a loss of graduates. So it is important that this bill goes post haste through this Legislature.

So I am pleased to stand in my place to support not only this bill, but to support all LPNs in Nova Scotia. No matter what some people have said about LPNs and I know there has been some controversy - we had that over in Dartmouth one day - I would like to think of it as a misunderstanding of the role when they were told that LPNs were not true registered nurses. I think now that that misunderstanding hopefully has been cleared up. They are true

[Page 3709]

professionals, Mr. Speaker, in every sense of the word. I and our caucus are very proud of licensed practical nurses and the role they play in the health care delivery in Nova Scotia.

I must acknowledge the hard work and dedication of Agnes MacDonald, President of the Licensed Practical Nurses Association of Nova Scotia, and her kindness to myself, personally, when I was Minister of Health; Albert MacIntyre always seems to be there, he keeps popping up, and I am sure if he is not here today, he will pop up somewhere along the way, because Albert is always there carrying the flag, as Executive Director of the Licensed Practical Nurses Association of Nova Scotia; and Ms. Ann Mann, all of whom have worked very hard on behalf of the LPN profession.

[10:15 a.m.]

I have always been very impressed with their briefs when they see us as a caucus, and I know they visited all the caucuses, but they have really come together as an organization and have a high degree of professionalism. It is their hard work as well as countless other LPNs who have remained dedicated and focused in their efforts to bring this legislation forward, and who have brought us to this point where we are this morning.

There is no question, this piece of legislation marks a pivotal point for the practice of licensed practical nurses here in Nova Scotia. Defining the scope of practice will enable all employees and, indeed, everyone to pinpoint and witness exactly what at an LPN does. It will allow everyone a clearer understanding of exactly what a licensed practical nurse does. Employees will be able to more fully utilize LPNs' skills, attributes and training, hence giving LPNs the respect and dignity that they desire and so very much deserve. The establishment of a college of licensed practical nurses will enable a regulatory framework to be established, further strengthening the profession and protecting our public. Through better utilization of the skills LPNs bring to their respective health care settings, the potential to improve the overall health care system of our province improves markedly.

Legislation such as this brings us closer to building modern health care teams by maximizing the skills of the LPNs. Any legislation which protects the public interest while recognizing the contribution that LPNs bring to the health care team is worthy of our support. I know, initially, when the minister introduced this bill, he was so enthusiastic, I believe some of his colleagues thought he might be filibustering his own bill. I know it was only because his heart was bursting with pride this morning as he brought this important piece of legislation through. Neither will I appear to be speaking too long on this bill.

I wanted to say, from my own personal experiences as a family physician and now as a legislator, that I, too, am very pleased to speak this morning in support of this, an Act to Establish the College of Licensed Practical Nurses of Nova Scotia.

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

[Page 3710]

The honourable Minister of Health.

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I acknowledge and thank my colleagues on the other side of the House for their helpful and supportive interventions. I am pleased to move second reading of Bill No. 19.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for second reading of Bill No. 19. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

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

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 18.

Bill No. 18 - Registered Nurses Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Health.

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, this is a great day for health professions in Nova Scotia. I am very pleased to rise in the House to speak on second reading of Bill No. 18, the Registered Nurses Act. Bill No. 18 is the product of almost two years of work by a highly dedicated group of registered nurses and members of the public. We were fortunate to have many of them join us when we introduced the bill last month. Just to acknowledge some of them, Donna Denney, President of the Registered Nurses' Association of Nova Scotia; Carolyn Moore, Executive Director; and also the members of their staff for their commitment and co-operation with Department of Health staff and others.

Mr. Speaker, early in April we released the province's first nursing strategy. This strategy was created by nurses for nurses, outlining some initiatives which I talked about earlier this morning, that will help us recruit and retain nurses in Nova Scotia. I am pleased to say that our nursing policy adviser has heard from many nurses since that announcement, particularly nurses who are Nova Scotians returning home.

Like the nursing strategy, Mr. Speaker, this new legislation was developed in co-operation with nurses. It supports and complements the nursing strategy by enabling the fuller utilization of registered nurses. During our consultations with nurses we heard that they want to work in settings that offer more professional satisfaction where they can make full use of their skills, abilities and training. Bill No. 18 will help them do just that and it honours government's commitment to develop nurse practitioner legislation. At the same time, this

[Page 3711]

bill supports the government's vision of sustainable health care delivery and primary health care reform and to ensure that Nova Scotians continue to benefit from quality nursing care.

Mr. Speaker, sustainability is a theme that resonates in health care here in Nova Scotia and in the entire country, as we have recently seen with the appointment of another commission on Medicare. To make our system sustainable we must go beyond the status quo and introduce new ways of delivering health care. We need to make better use of all of our resources, including nurses. Nurse practitioners are registered nurses with specialized skills and knowledge who work with doctors and other care providers. They work in collaborative practice agreements with a doctor or a group of doctors to diagnose and treat common illnesses and injuries, prescribe certain medications and order selected diagnostic tests. They work in places such as community health centres, family practice environments . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. There is too much noise in the Chamber. I can't hear the honourable Minister of Health. I would ask the honourable members to take their conversations outside, please.

MR. MUIR: They work in places such as community health centres, family practice environments, nursing homes and specialized hospital units. Nurse practitioners are not new to Canada, Mr. Speaker. They currently practice in Ontario, Alberta, Newfoundland and Labrador, and in Canada's North and, of course, they have been prominent in the health care field for a number of years in the United States and in the United Kingdom.

We also have them working here now in Nova Scotia. Specialty nurse practitioners provide care to individuals with certain medical conditions such as premature babies or cancer patients. We now have 19 specialty nurse practitioners working in the province; four are neonatal nurse practitioners at the IWK Health Centre, and 15 are expanded role nurses at the QE II Health Sciences Centre. These are registered nurses with master's degrees in their fields of speciality.

On the other hand, primary health care nurse practitioners work in collaborative practice with family physicians and other members of the health care team. They provide a range of services to individual, with an emphasis on health promotion and disease prevention in management. A primary health care nurse practitioner would, for example, counsel on wellness and illness prevention or renew prescriptions for things such as asthma or diabetes. The new nurse practitioner program at the Dalhousie School of Nursing, which prepares primary health care nurse practitioners, is a 15 month post-baccalaureate program.

I am pleased to say, Mr. Speaker, that the Department of Health provides funding for this important initiative. We presently have primary health care nurse practitioners working in Springhill, in the constituency of the honourable member for Cumberland South; in Pictou, actually in Lyons Brook, Caledonia, and Halifax, through the strengthening primary care in Nova Scotia pilot projects. Feedback from these sites shows that nurse practitioners

[Page 3712]

have been very well received by patients and have increased access to a variety of services in the communities. Nurse practitioners can help us tremendously in rural areas by sharing the patient load and allowing doctors to use their specialized skills where they are most needed. Adding another member to the primary health care team who can complement the services of a physician will also increase the number of patients that can be seen.

I am pleased to say, Mr. Speaker, that we have received overwhelmingly wide support for nurse practitioners. Some of the organizations and individuals that we have heard from include: the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Nova Scotia; the Medical Society of Nova Scotia; the Nova Scotia Pharmaceutical Society; the Nova Scotia Association of Health Organizations; the Provincial Health Council; the Medical Advisory Committee at the IWK Health Centre; and the QE II departments of Nephrology, Family Medicine, Geriatric Medicine and many others. As I mentioned, we currently have nurse practitioners working at the IWK and QE II under special authorization.

Their practice will be better supported through a legislative framework. I would like to read right now from one of the many letters of support we have received. This is from the Chief of Renal Services at the QE II, who works with an expanded role nurse treating Nova Scotians with kidney disease and kidney failure. He says, that only with the passing of this Act will these talented people be able to function to their fullest level of competence and perform the jobs for which they are well qualified. It is really critical that the new Act be passed.

This new legislation is an enabling legislation. It is not intended to mandate nurse practitioners for particular communities, rather, the needs of particular communities and doctors will help to identify where they will be most beneficial. Certainly as we train more nurse practitioners, and Nova Scotians become familiar with them, we look forward to seeing more of them in our communities. We have had very positive discussions with the Medical Society of Nova Scotia about options for implementation and we will continue to have this dialogue. There will be more education with doctors, nurses, other care providers and the public about nurse practitioners as we move forward.

This legislation brings us closer to building modern health care teams in creating the health care system of tomorrow - one that will maximize the skills and expertise of each team member in a cost-effective and sustainable manner. I know that with everyone working together, we can achieve that.

This new bill will also help Nova Scotians benefit from a quality nursing care by legislating the framework to support telepractice. With the advancement of technology, we now have situations where a nurse could electronically, through a form such as Telehealth, be providing advice to someone in another part of the province or country. Technology, like the Telehealth Network, offers another way to improve the delivery of health care services by maximizing the potential of health care professionals, including registered nurses.

[Page 3713]

In addition, this new bill will allow for the regulation of inter-jurisdictional delivery of nursing services. It clarifies that a nurse practising in Nova Scotia, even if the services are delivered elsewhere by electronic means, is indeed registered and practising in Nova Scotia.

The new bill will also see a name change from the Registered Nurses' Association of Nova Scotia to the College of Registered Nurses of Nova Scotia. This doesn't alter their mandate. Since 1910, nurses in Nova Scotia have been self-regulating, setting the standards for education and practice and ensuring that standards and ethics are maintained. They are proud of this privilege and have served the public interest extremely well over the years. The change to a college reflects a trend for self-regulating professions in Canada. Other professions in the province with college status include physicians, occupational therapists, medical laboratory technologists, chiropractors, and psychologists.

As the honourable member for Dartmouth East said in his comments a few minutes ago, our nurses are held in extremely high regard by the people of Nova Scotia. The name college more appropriately reflects their self-regulatory status and will only serve to enhance the public trust and respect they now have.

The new legislation is based on a regulatory framework that consists of three essential principles of self-regulation. They are: promotion of good practice; prevention of poor practice; and intervention when standards are not met. By promoting good practice, the new college will continue to act on behalf of nurses to advance the nursing profession. For example, promoting good practice will mean supporting things like continuing education for nurses, initiatives to improve the work-life of nurses or legislation such as this that strengthens the role of nurses. This legislation strikes the right balance between the interests of nurses and the public interest. It recognizes that, in most cases, those interests are one and the same. But when they are not, the public interest prevails and that is appropriate.

Mr. Speaker, Bill No. 18 also includes improvements to the disciplinary process for nurses to ensure that it is open and transparent while being fair and efficient. Both the Complaints Committee and the Professional Conduct Committee are made up primarily of nurses. This is because peers can best judge the facts of a case to decide whether the standards of the profession have been met. Under the current Act, findings of the Professional Conduct Committee are first appealed to the association's own appeal committee, again comprised mainly of nurses.

Then, if necessary, a final appeal is made to the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal. Over the past few years, it has become apparent that cases going to the association's appeal committee are generally more complex. Members of the committee are often faced with many difficult questions of law. Under the new bill, appeals to findings of the Professional Conduct Committee will go directly to the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal. This is consistent with all other health profession Statutes enacted since 1996. It ensures a timely objective and efficient

[Page 3714]

appeal process. At the same time, it maintains the principles for professional self-regulation because the facts of each case are judged by peers.

Mr. Speaker, over the past two years, as this new bill was drafted, department staff has worked closely with the Registered Nurses' Association of Nova Scotia to make sure the legislation supports their members. We have also maintained flexibility and co-operation as we reviewed the proposed legislation with other interested organizations, such as the College of Physicians and Surgeons and the Medical Society of Nova Scotia and both nurses' unions. We have made changes based on their concerns and feedback, and we will continue to work with nurses and other interested organizations as changes are implemented.

Mr. Speaker, I tell all members of the House that this is a very important piece of legislation for our nurses, for the people of Nova Scotia and for the entire health care system in this province. Quite simply, we need this legislation if we are to create a better health care system. I ask for the support of all members of this House to move it forward without delay.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, I am certainly pleased to rise today to speak in relation to Bill No. 18, An Act Respecting the Practice of Registered Nurses. I wanted to just begin by saying we are pleased to have this bill move forward to the Law Amendments Committee. There is much in this bill which will be of great benefit to practising nurses in this province, not the least of which of course are the clauses of the bill which deal with nurse practitioners. We have, for a long time, promoted the integration of nurse practitioners more fully into the health care delivery system. It has been part of what we saw and see as the future of health care delivery in the province. We are moving down that road, I think, with the pilot projects that are presently underway.

I must say, and I take the opportunity to comment at this time, Mr. Speaker, that I was disappointed when the health authorities bill came forward last year and our caucus put forward a number of amendments which would have incorporated nurse practitioners and provisions for nurse practitioners into the health authorities bill at that time, that those amendments at that time were not successful. I am not sure that they wouldn't have been had circumstances been somewhat different, given the debate that was taking place in the House at the time.

I think it accommodated nurse practitioners in a way that would allow the government to go ahead with their plans without the necessity of having to go back and make some amendments to those Acts and just basically create more work for the government and for Legislative Counsel and all those who are involved with making sure that all of these pieces of legislation fit together in a way that makes some sense. Be that as it may, I am sure we will see those changes made in the future. Every time you bring forward a piece of legislation like this or, the Health Authorities Act, and you neglect to include particular groups, you are

[Page 3715]

sending a kind of message to the people of the province and, certainly, the people who are involved in the profession about what you see as the future of their profession.

[10:30 a.m.]

I say that not to try to delay any passage of this bill, I think this is an important bill, and moving it along to the Law Amendments Committee is the right thing to do. I just want to emphasize that from our caucus' perspective we see the implementation of a program involving nurse practitioners as an important aspect of the bill. Also, I believe the minister is quite right when he talks about clarifying the role of the Registered Nurses' Association, under this proposal, under the establishment of the college, I think, it will become more clear what the role of the Registered Nurses' Association is, it will give some understanding, some clarity to the role and the function that they have.

Mr. Speaker, earlier this month, I was pleased to attend the annual meeting of RNANS in Dartmouth. I happened to be there in the convention facility when the annual meeting was going forward and had an opportunity to walk through the displays. I was there on Education Day. Unfortunately, I didn't have an opportunity to hear the Minister of Health speak at that time to the association, but I am sure he talked about the importance of respect for the registered nurses of the province and I am sure he went some way to ameliorating some of the kind of difficult feelings that were put forward as a result of some of the comments that were made by his colleague, I believe the member for Dartmouth East mentioned them earlier, the misunderstanding about the way in which nurses are and should be respected in this province, whether they are licensed practical nurses or registered nurses or nurse practitioners, they are all an integral part of the health care delivery system.

Mr. Speaker, along with the other pieces of legislation that have been introduced, this legislation will certainly help reflect the current role and reality of the profession. I am looking now at the statement of the minister, when he released the amendments on April 4th. I remember very clearly that during that announcement, the bill that was brought forward was quite significantly different than the original way that had been floated for consideration. There were substantial amendments that had been made prior to it actually being released. This was an opportunity and, certainly, an initiative by the Department of Health and by the minister to try to bring together all of the diverse interests to make sure that it properly represented the views of all the nurses in as much as any piece of legislation can reflect all of the views of any particular group.

Mr. Speaker, I think there are still some issues that will likely be raised in the Law Amendments Committee over particular concerns with some of the sections of the bill, but I think the responsible thing to do at this point is to recognize that there are some very important features of this legislation that needs to go forward and to say that we, in this caucus, support the legislation going forward to the Law Amendments Committee. We look forward to hearing the submissions that will be made in the Law Amendments Committee.

[Page 3716]

Mr. Speaker, with those comments, I want to thank you for the opportunity to speak on this bill today.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect on an introduction.

MR. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, I thank the time of the House for a few moments to introduce another group from Ridgecliff Middle School, Grade 8 students who are here from the communities of Beechville, Lakeside and Timberlea. I want to ask them to stand in a moment. I also want to point out that with the group is Mrs. Petropolis, Ms. Dawdson, Ms. Wells, Ms. Rhyno, and actually a couple of those parents and staff advisors used to be students of mine. So that says something about me, doesn't it, Mr. Speaker. Anyway, I would ask you to stand students and adults and receive the acclamation of the House. (Applause)

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

The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

DR. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I thank you for the opportunity to speak in support of Bill No. 18, An Act Respecting the Practice of Registered Nurses. This is a bill to modernize the regulatory process to serve and protect the interest of the public in an accountable and open transparent manner. It also, secondly, introduces nurse practitioners in Nova Scotia. The context for introducing the revised registered nurses and regulations is important, registered nurses have a longstanding tradition of regulating the practice of nursing in Nova Scotia in the public's interest. Nova Scotia was the first province in Canada to enact the Graduate Nurses' Act in 1910, to ensure that nurses were fully qualified to provide safe care. I must say that we continue amending and revising until today when we are here to support Bill No. 18.

I would like to thank the minister, Mr. Speaker, for bringing this bill forward, the Registered Nurses Act. From the onset, I would like to congratulate and thank the Registered Nurses' Association of Nova Scotia for all of their hard work. Their constant and continuing dedication to this bill has played a large role in not only developing this bill but also in getting us to the stage where we are today. Individuals like Linda Hamilton, Carolyn Moore and President Donna Denney have played an integral role which will ensure that the nursing profession and the delivery of health care services in Nova Scotia will move forward. They have kept their membership informed and have incorporated the ideas and wishes of members, both in the drafting stage of the bill as well as in the revisions.

This is a proud moment for our caucus, are the words to use I think, Mr. Speaker, because consultations and planning for this bill began with our Liberal Government approximately two years ago. We are glad to see and thank the government for calling this bill for second reading here today. The introduction of primary health care nurse practitioners

[Page 3717]

through pilot projects was also a product of our government. Any piece of legislation that will enable us to build on the successes of these pilot projects is most welcome and that was announced earlier by Mr. Allan Rock, the federal Minister of Health, and we followed those projects with interest.

Oft-times as legislators, we wonder how other organizations or individuals will respond to a bill. There is no question, the response to this bill, from our point of view, has generally been favourable. The College of Physicians and Surgeons, the Nova Scotia Pharmaceutical Society, the Nova Scotia Association of Health Organizations, various departments within the QE II and the Provincial Health Council are all lending their support for nurse practitioners and the Minister of Health has read a longer list that he has received notification in support for this important milestone in nursing in Nova Scotia.

The introduction of nurse practitioners will continue and will contribute to a more coordinated, integrated and comprehensive health care system. This bill will not only allow and hold more accountable the nursing profession for the safety of all Nova Scotians and the protection of the nurses and the protection of the public but it will also allow an expanded role for the nurse.

So I think when we are looking at nurse practitioners, we are looking at at least two significant categories within that, but they are also looking at, and I think, many times, as importantly, the expanded role of the nurse, the nurses being able to do within the context of their practice, what they have been trained to do and what they personally are capable of doing. We have seen the expanded role in the intensive care units, in the cancer clinics and other specialty areas. The delivery of primary care is a specialty unto itself. That was not always recognized, Mr. Speaker, and it has been a history, particularly after the Second World War when the primary care physician was established as a speciality unto itself. Now we are seeing the development, identification and expanded role of registered nurses, as well as LPNs and other health care team workers. So this bill today helps to develop a comprehensive and integrated continuum of the health care system.

The introduction of nurse practitioners to Nova Scotia will increase public access to a wider choice of primary health care providers, especially in rural areas, which is most welcome. I know we always emphasize nurse practitioners in rural communities, but there is no question, there is absolutely a role, a need for those nurse practitioners right here in an urban setting such as Halifax, and Sydney and other urban settings. So we are all a micro of each community. The needs are very similar - access to health care, someone who is trained and competent and accountable that sees the person into the system and also helps them through that system. So what we are looking at today is a formalization again of registered nurses being recognized, appreciated and valued as members of the health care team.

We all know that health care redesign cannot happen without utilizing the expertise of a wide array of health care professionals. This bill, Bill No. 18, will enable and facilitate this

[Page 3718]

to happen. Mr. Speaker, very few people are perhaps aware that it was here in Halifax that nurse practitioner education was first offered in Canada. Almost 30 years ago, the outpost nursing program was first offered at Dalhousie University. Memorial University in Newfoundland has been very active in that program as well. They have served, and this program particularly has served, as a rich foundation for the nurse practitioner program. It is rewarding to see that the students who are educated at Dalhousie University here in Nova Scotia will now have the opportunity to stay here in Nova Scotia and work in their chosen profession.

While legislating the authorization of nurse practitioners in Nova Scotia, this is not the only portion of Bill No. 18. Other changes, Mr. Speaker, will modernize the regulatory process so as to serve and to protect the interest of the public in an open and accountable manner. Nurses have a strong tradition and indeed reputation of developing and adhering to a strong regulatory process. This bill will further enhance and strengthen both that tradition and that reputation. The change of the name from RNANS, the Registered Nurses' Association of Nova Scotia to the College of Registered Nurses, will more clearly describe the regulatory mandate that the Registered Nurses' Association are already responsible for.

Any change that enables the public to see that processes are being put in place to serve in the best interest of the public, strengthens the profession. Any piece of legislation that enables nurse practitioners to practice in Nova Scotia, strengthens the profession of nursing so as to better serve and to protect the best interests of Nova Scotians, is worthy of support. Mr. Speaker, it will not only support those Nova Scotians who find themselves as patients and in need of nursing care, but this bill will support and protect the nurses themselves, and address the issues of liability and the responsibility, again focusing on the regulatory. Much like the College of Physicians and Surgeons is the regulatory body for physicians, the College of Nursing will now be the regulatory body, as they have been previously, but this will more formalize the regulatory process for the nursing profession.

Mr. Speaker, who will be affected? Obviously nurses and particularly the general public. What does it do? What does Bill No. 18 do? It authorizes the practice of nurse practitioners, thereby contributing to the meaningful health redesign in the interest of the public, and it strengthens the regulatory role of the Registered Nurses' Association of Nova Scotia. As I said, much like the College of Physicians and Surgeons for physicians, the medical practitioners have the Medical Society, that one would be described as a type of union that is primarily involved with economics and matters impacting practice, and representing all physicians, whether they be specialists or family physicians.

The proposed college, under this bill, will be the regulatory body for nurses. They will have other representation, whether it is the Nova Scotia Government Employees Union, the Nova Scotia Nurses' Union, as will be their union body that will negotiate, that will be involved with matters that impact on the practice of nursing within the province. I think that should be clear, it should understood, it should be open and fair, and between those two

[Page 3719]

bodies or among those several bodies, the regulatory on one hand and the unions representing, there should be a comprehensive protection and advocacy role that can be done with the most appropriate body to do that.

It is very difficult to be a union and represent nursing interests or physician interest and also be the regulatory body. The conflict of interest is real, and it is open. I am looking forward to this being addressed, because I think it will be addressed. I have received many letters of concern from nurses that this college will not be an advocate group for nursing, it will not speak out for nursing, and I would look forward to that being addressed in the Law Amendments Committee, and we will be bringing those concerns forward to the House as well.

It will come into effect when the Governor in Council orders and declares proclamation. It will impact all Nova Scotians. It is important because it further enhances professionalism in nursing and legislates nurse practitioners' practice in Nova Scotia. The adoption of the continuing competence program and requirement for annual licensure as of the year 2003 will bring Nova Scotia in line with the agreement on internal trade, and I think that is important.

Mr. Speaker, in supporting this legislation, I could go on, but I think maybe I will save my further comments. I had some notes on the nurse practitioners. (Interruption) Now the member for Dartmouth North has spoken up again, and perhaps I will just speak a little longer then, if he finds this to be a bit troublesome.

I think this is an historic day in Nova Scotia, that we must pay tribute to our nurses. (Interruption) His colleague, the member for Hants East agrees, so perhaps I will pay more attention to his colleague, the member for Hants East, who seems to be more reasonable about the whole thing.

Mr. Speaker, in closing, I look forward to the expanded role of the registered nurses and the nurse practitioners, whether they be primary health care nurse practitioners or the specialty nurse practitioners, those categories that I referred to earlier, that we look forward to the development through the pilot projects. I would like to say that I have spoken a bit and compared nursing to the practice of medicine, particularly where it impacts at the primary care level. I am just hoping that out of those pilot projects will come some understanding of the appropriate fee structure and the payment mechanism for family doctors and general practitioners because I really think that this is a stumbling block in the delivery of primary health care in Nova Scotia. I know that not all physicians would agree with that, but many would. I think the fee for service has long outlived its usefulness as a strict fee for service whether it is a blended service fee, a fee for service and partly that, and part payment based on time, but there has to be a coordination here. There is no better time to do that and to work with the Medical Society on that than when we are introducing nurse practitioners to Nova Scotia.

[Page 3720]

What they will be allowed to see and what they will be allowed to do and end up doing in the practicality of a clinic or an outpatient or in a family physician's office will greatly be impacted on how those physicians are paid. We have seen dramatic changes in delivery of care with the oncology service when alternate funding was brought in - that is, when physicians were paid a salary as opposed to a fee for service. The true ability of nurses can be realized in a setting where everyone is on an equal footing and that the payment to physicians is not based on a fee for service.

I probably would be criticized for that, but I think it is an integral part and I would just ask the government - and while we offer our support for this legislation and the enhanced role of nurses and the expanded role for nurses, plus nurse practitioners in various categories - to look at the overall health care team and how that is dealt with and that it is dealt with fairly and openly, that they can be equal partners. I think the fee schedule, if that is deemed to be a deterrent to the development of an integrated, comprehensive care within that primary health care team, then I think that should be addressed.

It is not all about money, but it is certainly about power and control. No longer are the nurses in those facilities in the primary care role as nurse practitioners, as some people would say, handmaidens to physicians. That has been a term that has been used - I have heard that used by nurses and they are concerned. We are moving well beyond that. We are moving toward equal partnerships in primary care and I want to thank the government for the nurse practitioner involvement and the regulatory strengthening of this particular bill as we move towards a college for nurses and the regulatory responsibilities that they will have there. Thank you.

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

The honourable Minister of Health.

HON. JAMES MUIR: Prior to closing off debate on Bill No. 18, I would like to draw the attention of the House to your gallery, Mr. Speaker. We do have a representative of the Registered Nurses' Association, Miss Leona Telfer with us this morning. I would like all members to give her a warm welcome. (Applause)

I appreciate the helpful intervention of the Health Critics for the Opposition Parties and would now be pleased to move second reading of Bill No. 18.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for second reading of Bill No. 18. Is the House ready for the question? Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

[Page 3721]

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

The honourable the Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 21.

Bill No. 21 - Transportation Amendments (2001) Act.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to move second reading of Bill No. 21. I have a few remarks to make before I turn it over to the Opposition.

This is an omnibus bill and it deals with amendments to the Public Highways Act, the Protection of Property Act, the Railways Act and the Motor Vehicle Act and it is a bill committed primarily to safety of the travelling public.

[11:00 a.m.]

Highway safety, Mr. Speaker, is a major concern to this government because it is a major concern to Nova Scotians. Our fatality rate has been declining over the past several years, but as long as there is one fatality, there are always improvements that can be made. It is a good omen, and I suppose sometimes one shouldn't speak in this fashion, but our fatality rate on our highways has been declining every year. There have been a few spikes but, however, this year we are on track with the number of fatalities substantially below any other year in the past five years. So it is a continuing trend and I think it bodes well if we can maintain that impetus towards a lower number of fatalities.

Mr. Speaker, pedestrian safety is a continuing concern and a growing one as the volume and speed of traffic increases across the province. Several of these amendments recommended by the Road Safety Advisory Committee attempt to address this problem. First, we are clarifying the authority of crossing guards because there are, obviously, people who completely ignore the fact that crossing guards do have the power to control traffic, particularly on busy streets.

Mr. Speaker, in response to a recommendation by the RCMP, this bill also includes amendments to implement a graduated penalty structure for speeding. This amendment imposes more severe penalties for higher speeds. The concept is simple; the faster you go, the higher the fine. This approach has worked well in other jurisdictions and it is important to note that this particular amendment will not affect provision for a charge of careless or imprudent driving where speed is truly excessive.

Mr. Speaker, these amendments that we are making to the bill will be further augmented via an amendment which will include speeding in school areas, special provisions for an increase in the number of points, and for those who speed in areas where we have

[Page 3722]

roadwork improvements being done. The impetus for this amendment came forward from a bill introduced by the member for Timberlea-Prospect and we are pleased to accept those principles and we will be, as I say, introducing an amendment at some stage of the bill, either at the Law Amendments Committee or a Committee of the Whole House to effect that change.

Mr. Speaker, as members are aware, we have short-line railroads in Nova Scotia now. We have the Cape Breton line and we have the line that runs in my riding from Windsor to Hantsport, that carries gypsum, and with those short-line railroads, the province is expected to assume the jurisdiction for safety on those lines and we have made amendments to the Railways Act of 1993, I believe it was about 1993, to bring into law the best practices that are in existence across Canada.

Mr. Speaker, the last item and one that I think people will probably take the most notice of is the fact that we have finally come to an agreement with the stakeholders across this province who are interested in signage. In co-operation with the Department of Tourism and Culture, we have come forward with a sign policy that I think will address most of the major problems that we have had insofar as highway signage is concerned and I think it will address at the same time the required needs of those who have businesses that require signage to attract customers to their business. With those few words, I would like to move second reading of Bill No. 21.

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

MR. WILLIAM ESATBROOKS: Mr. Speaker, it is with some note that I want to inform the minister that I look forward to Bill No. 21 going forward to the Law Amendments Committee. I know it is a procedure that has been valued in this House for many long years and at that time, hopefully, there could be further amendments that are brought forward by concerned Nova Scotians. I think we all agree that the purpose of the bill, of course, is well-intentioned; safety and concern for all methods of transportation in this province is a primary factor in any kind of legislation that is brought forward.

In particular, I would like to congratulate the minister and his staff for doing the necessary consultation when it comes to that section of this omnibus bill dealing with signage. As we well know, there is, in certain areas of this province, perhaps all areas of this province - I can't speak like you, Mr. Speaker, that I have been on every road yet, or any road that I can still travel on, yet - but there are, in numerous places around this province, a proliferation of signs that in some cases, without doubt, cause confusion for the travelling public and in other areas, perhaps tourism areas, in particular. Although, not to just draw attention to that industry - and I am sure the Minister of Tourism probably had some proper input on this bill - there is a real necessity to have a consistency when it looks to signage across the province, that is applicable from one area to another. Those concerns have been addressed and there has been necessary consultation.

[Page 3723]

I am also pleased to hear the minister say that there will be a further provision brought forward by the government in looking at the fact that earlier I had the pleasure in this House of introducing a bill which would increase or which would suggest increases for speeding in school zones and in construction sites. As we well know those are dangerous areas and there are people who are going to, for one reason or another, lack the caution to watch the speedometer, to make sure that they are not speeding in those areas. If we look at the fact that there has to be an increase in the minimum fine, where it is increased from $50 to $100 and, hopefully, that will be the suggestion that will be brought forward by the government; that is in school zones and in temporary work areas.

Temporary work areas, if you remember, there was a rather unfortunate accident a number of years ago on one of the highways as you approached the airport, where some highway workers were injured. Unfortunately, that is the sort of headline that we don't want to see anymore. There has to be an increase in fines. The current fine for speeding in a temporary construction zone is $15. Mr. Speaker, you know and I know, from your previous experience in the profession that you had at that time that that is a dangerous place to travel and that that fine should be increased.

I am looking forward to those changes that we brought forward in this caucus, and to the minister's attention and to the Department of Transportation and Public Work's attention. I thank them for following up on those changes. But, and there is always a but in the business that I am in, as I stand as the critic in Opposition, I have concerns about a particular section, a particular clause, and I know that at this stage I really shouldn't be referring to a particular clause. There is, however, a provision there. I think members opposite should be aware of it, and if the watching public is tuned in this morning to listen to this particular bill, we are talking about amendments, an omnibus bill which will make certain changes to the highway Act and, to the Railways Act.

There is a provision in here that these restrictions on signs, necessary restrictions on signage, that all of these changes do not apply to election signs, they also don't apply to signs for plebiscites. I am sure I could go, perhaps, on a bit of a tangent and I know you would correct me. If there is a plebiscite to be held immediately on VLTs in this province then this particular piece of legislation, signage could go up helter-skelter, everywhere, because it has been exempt from these provisions.

I think it is of some importance that if we are going to - what is that expression, what is good for the goose is good for the gander - expect private business, if we are going to expect community groups to adhere to these new signage restrictions, then I am sure the motoring public will understand. Why should we make a provision for ourselves, a self-serving provision, that has been included in here? It is actually - for the members opposite - Clause 23(5). I am not going to deal with it specifically because I know I am not allowed to do that, Mr. Speaker, but members present should understand that if there are, and they are well-received concerns about signage across this province, we can't have that sort of caveat

[Page 3724]

in there, oh, all of those regulations do not apply to election signs, do not apply to plebiscite signs. That is a self-serving provision there.

Mr. Speaker, I can speak on behalf of my sign chairman, if I could. My sign chairman in Timberlea-Prospect gets out there and hammers those signs up as soon as the writ is dropped, always first on the corner, of course, with the best location. But let's face it, they are hastily constructed. They are in places, at times, where we have people who perhaps aren't quite sure of some of the dangerous intersections or the dangerous places. There are no more dangerous hastily constructed signs in this province than election signs. You have seen them as they blow down. You have seen them as perhaps they have to be put up again. But in the middle of this very well thought out legislation, in addition, the conclusion of amendments which we suggested from this side of the House for those increased fines, there is that caveat there and the public will say, oh, there it is again, the politicians, the provincial MLAs are taking care of their interests and all of those restrictions about signs, they are not allowed to apply to provincial election signs or I guess federal election signs or municipal election signs.

That is a concern that I know you, Mr. [Deputy] Speaker, share with me. In fact, I am aware of the fact that the Deputy Speaker in the Chair today - and I hope he will be on the record when I go forward with this - has an NDP election sign that I hope is properly displayed in some place of interest in his home or his work shed or wherever he is allowed to put it. I hope that the member for the beautiful Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley doesn't have it in a place when I go to visit him that will not be a place on honour, but I hope it is not in a dangerous place. I hope it is not blocking an intersection. I hope it is also not in an outhouse. So be careful where you put that NDP election sign.

Members opposite should know that this is a concern. I think we will hear about it at the Law Amendments Committee that there some excellent provisions here. There are some wonderful amendments that apply to signage across this province. But, Mr. Speaker, in the middle of it, we have a provision that none of this can apply to election signs or plebiscite signs. I know that will be perceived across this province as rather self-serving. So this caucus looks forward to this bill moving on to the Law Amendments Committee with the amendments that are going to be also added about speeding in school zones and speeding in temporary work areas. It will be well received, but I think that members opposite and members on this side of the House should look for that provision and consider the fact that perhaps that caveat should be removed, deletion of that particular clause.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Liberal House Leader.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, our Transportation Critic is not available this morning. He is engaged in some caucus business and wanted me to pass along his concerns. We do have some concerns with this particular bill and we will have an opportunity at Committee of the Whole House on Bills to address those concerns.

[Page 3725]

MR. SPEAKER: Are there any further interventions? I see none. If I recognize the honourable minister it will be to close the debate.

The honourable Minister of Transportation and Public Works.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the remarks from the Opposition with regard to Bill No. 21. I am particularly impressed with the remarks of the member for Timberlea-Prospect who evidently doesn't want to have election signs up. I don't know if that is his Party's policy or what. I know that in the last election, in my riding anyway, NDP signs seemed to go up like crazy in the mornings and disappear again at night. (Laughter)

Mr. Speaker, there is no intent that election signs shall be put up to obscure traffic control signs. There is no intention that election signs should be of any danger to the travelling public. They are going to have to abide by the rules. I should also mention that one of the things that has always upset me is the placing of election signs on telephone poles, hydro poles and on trees, I think just making a mess, and perhaps when we get around to discussing the Elections Act, we could have a little debate about inclusion of some clause in that bill that would lay out a signage policy for the benefit of politicians who want to advertise themselves during election campaigns.

[11:15 a.m.]

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased that the bill is moving and, again, I am moving second reading of Bill No. 21.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for second reading of Bill No. 21. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

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

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 32.

Bill No. 32 - Livestock Health Services Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries.

HON. ERNEST FAGE: Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to introduce second reading of Bill No. 32, the Livestock Health Services Act. Briefly, this legislation will replace the

[Page 3726]

current one of the same name and while there are a number of wording changes throughout to reflect current language and practices, the purpose of this legislation really has not changed. The purpose of introducing amendments or updating this bill with the health services program is the elimination really of 22 local livestock health services boards and the changing role of the provincial advisory body.

Under this new legislation a livestock health services board provincially will assume the duties of the former local boards and will continue with the duties of the provincial board and the remainder is basically housekeeping measures and updating the terminology to current conditions.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants East.

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, I want to say to the minister that we will be supporting this piece of legislation. It would seem to have a positive effect and, in particular, around I think the establishment of fees that would go to veterinarians carrying out large- animal practices and I think this was a commitment made by the Tory Government that they would reinstate, or bring back, or top up that fee that had been previously cut to help offset costs to the farming industry in the case of calling large-animal veterinarians out to farms in rural Nova Scotia. Certainly any farmers who are operating close to the actual veterinary establishments wouldn't bear as great a cost as those who might be 30 kilometres, or whatever, and so therefore there would be a greater charge for a call to those operations. Actually the regulatory basis for the fee is really designed so that farmers, no matter where they are in relation to the veterinarian, that one doesn't pay more than another which I think is beneficial so that the costs are not borne to taxpayers in regard to food production.

There is one concern I will raise and I have mentioned this to the minister - not that there is an outrageous cry on this, but it is a point that I think I would like the minister to be aware of and I would like him and his department to give some thought to - and that is livestock for farming purposes. It basically defines livestock as animals, ". . . used for the production of (i) human or animal food, or (ii) feed, fibre, skin or hide;" I think something I would like to see the government consider - I think the federal government in its taxing policy is . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Would the honourable member permit an introduction?

MR. MACDONELL: Certainly.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Education.

HON. JANE PURVES: Mr. Speaker, we have some visitors today in the east gallery representing the Nova Scotia Home Educators Association. They are here to observe the proceedings. There are 13 students and 6 adults and I would like to introduce the adults and

[Page 3727]

as I do, I wonder if you could all stand? Hélène Blanchat, Sally Doucette, Nancy Fullarton, Phyllis and John McMorran, Joanne Storer and Beth MacDonald. If you would all like to stand and receive the warm welcome of the House. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: Yes, indeed. Welcome to our guests in the gallery, we hope you enjoy the proceedings.

The honourable member for Hants East has the floor.

MR. MACDONELL: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, and I welcome the guests as well.

I want to throw this out for the minister and the government to think about and that is the definition of livestock. It would seem to me that in the province, those animals that we consider for food production, but we don't consider draught horses as that, or we do consider beef cattle as livestock for food production but we don't set any designation whether or not those animals are actually used purely as breeding stock, that an operation is set up on the basis that somebody keeps a few animals and it is a purebred herd and it is raised purely for the selling of breeding stock, it is not a feeder operation or an operation where they go completely from calf to slaughter. I would say that if operations are considered livestock operations they are subject to the benefit of this legislation as far as costs being offset for veterinary calls, that if it were a purebred beef operation engaged in raising show stock or breeding stock that would seem to me to be a different way of viewing it, compared to those who are raising animals for slaughter.

Certainly, someone using horses in the production of food, would be a livestock that really should come under this. Presently, the way this bill is written, horses are not considered in this bill. We think of horses as purely recreational, certainly saddle horses et cetera, but I would say this is something the government should take a look at. I think there are some grey areas. I think horses used in the production of food would definitely qualify under this legislation. Actually, I didn't get a word from the minister on this although we discussed it; I don't know how far he had an opportunity to pursue it, but I think the federal government in their taxing regulations does consider draught horses as - you can make claims for income if you sell them and also claim your expenses and so it certainly would seem to me that they are looking at it as livestock. That people are farming with and I would think that it would be appropriate for the government to look at this as a possibility that not all horses are created equally, just the same as beef cattle and the way they are used in particular operations are not exactly the same. But I would say that in beef operations of whatever sort, it would fall under this legislation. So, I think that certainly the use of some horses or the breeding of some horses, perhaps, would also qualify under this legislation. That is certainly something I would like to see the government think about. Certainly, we will be supporting this piece of legislation because I think the intent of the legislation is good. I think what the government is trying to do with it, the impact, actually, on the veterinarian clinics around the province is a positive one. So, therefore, they would have our endorsement.

[Page 3728]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Lunenburg West.

MR. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, I too, am pleased to rise to speak on Bill No. 32, and in principle, give our support to this bill with some understanding that we have some areas that we would like to bring forward. I, too, have taken the liberty of talking directly with the minister. I first want to say that Bill No. 32, I am glad to see that we have established a very good co-operative effort between the veterinarian community and that of the farm community and that of the provincial government. It shows the willingness to work together and to dissolve the 22 different boards that we had across the province into one body and that just makes a lot of good sense. It probably would save money down the road, but also provide some very clear direction and the fact that the department staff is going to be playing a vital role shows the leadership that the department is prepared to take in exercising their efforts in the Livestock Health Services Act.

I want to say that we do have a concern, not so much about what is in the bill as what is not in the bill. The specific concern that we would like to bring to your attention is to deal with the whole issue of dead stock. As my colleague previously talked about, not all horses are created equally and not all donkeys are created equally, as well; but one thing about it, when you're dead, you're dead. The issue here is how do we deal with this issue. Currently, as I understand it, the Federation of Agriculture has played a vital role in dealing with that program. I think they have done it for in excess of 10 years, and there is a fund established. I remember being involved with the federation at the time when we took it over.

The bill doesn't deal with how that dead stock issue is going to be continued. One of the issues of concern, I don't think the federation is looking at leaving their responsibility, but the need to work closer together with this group of professionals from the department and professionals from the veterinarian community. We have seen a very serious situation in Europe. Getting rid of livestock because of a very serious outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease has caused a horrendous problem. But, you know, things change around the Province of Nova Scotia. People are becoming more aware of the fact that farmers have to deal with the issue of dead stock, not that they enjoy that, but they do have to deal with it, and the concerns relative to pollution or odours; spreading disease is one concern.

I think it is a legitimate concern down the road as to what the processes should be. For example, what happens if a rendering plant said, for some reason, they don't want to take the dead stock any more. So that is going to create a problem for the dead stock organization that is looking after that product, and what are they going to do with it? What we don't want is, it goes back to the farms where they are digging the holes and burying them and so on and so forth; we don't want to go back to that situation. We want to find a legitimate process.

So, for example, for some unknown reason these rendering facilities decide to, because of odour or whatever, change their program, then we have a huge problem in Nova Scotia agriculture.

[Page 3729]

[11:30 a.m.]

That is why I think on this bill there should be some amendments - maybe brought in later on or maybe in the committee - or recommendations so that we could add the Federation of Agriculture and their committee to work with this broader committee, just so that we can make sure that the health standards are maintained, that everyone would work together as I see the minister trying to do here under this bill, and I compliment the minister and the department. To work together in a newly-formed committee it would seem logical to include this aspect of farming in that committee's mandate. I don't believe it is in the mandate. As I read over it, it is not necessarily in the mandate.

I would hope that the minister would consider adding that in the mandate for that purpose, not taking away the responsibility necessarily of the organizations that are involved; I don't think they are looking at doing that. It certainly would deal with some of the sanitary health issues that could come down the road later on, and clearly would alleviate the stress that that could very well pose.

I want to say that we support the principle of the bill. I think it has been well put together, and I compliment the department and the minister. It is nice to see where we are actually bringing some 22 organizations down into one; it makes a lot of sense. There was some concern brought to my attention whether we would be providing the same level of service in each individual community, and my sense was that we will be. Whether it is Lunenburg County or Queens County, they would be able to have representation or exercise their ability to be able to deal with those issues through this one particular committee.

Mr. Speaker, with those few words, we will be supporting the principle of the bill, but I would indicate to the minister and give notice to the minister that I would like to see, during the debate in the other Chamber, possibly some recognition of the fact that this could be a problem down the road; it is more of a precautionary measure, being a little proactive for which I think it would be appropriate now to be proactive on this bill before a problem does exist. With those words, thank you very much.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for second reading of Bill No. 32. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

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

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 33.

[Page 3730]

Bill No. 33 - Scalers Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Natural Resources.

HON. ERNEST FAGE: Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise today and move second reading on Bill No. 33, the Scalers Act. These changes that are being proposed under the Scalers Act, bring the bill in line with current industry practices and current administrative procedures. I think it is important to note that the implementation of the regulations under the Forests Act relate to the new forestry management strategies that have increased the need for accurate measurement of primary forest products, particularly related to sales between landowners, contractors, and other buyers.

The changes that are being proposed that would help update the situation are adding a member to the board of examiners to represent private woodlot owners, clarification of the administrative role of enforcement procedures and responsibilities, and removing detailed contents specific to the scalers manual from the bill, and providing for a more effective updating procedure than having it tabled in the bill, as well to change to require licensed scalers for any amount over 1,000 cubic metres sold during a year. All other changes really are housekeeping measures that help update the bill to current situations. So, with those few remarks, I move second reading.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants East.

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, I want to say to the minister and the government that we would be supporting this piece of legislation. It certainly seems to make sense, considering the role that the industry plays in the economy of the province, that some clarification and tightening up of regulations around scalers and their qualifications, I am glad to hear the minister talk about, I think he said an examiner to represent the woodlot owners, and I think that certainly is a positive step that they have someone there to keep them in the loop, that they can go to. So with those brief comments, I will relinquish the floor to another member.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Victoria.

MR. KENNETH MACASKILL: Mr. Speaker, as the minister has said, this is primarily a housekeeping bill. We are certainly going to be supporting moving it on through the process and through the Chamber, but if the minister may answer a few questions, if I may walk him through the bill on some things that may not be quite clear to me. The first, I guess, is the member of the board appointed by the department. Would that be a new appointment?

As we know, Mr. Speaker, the role of scalers has changed dramatically over the last number of years since we have moved away from cubic measure more so to weights and that may change the role of scalers. Officers responsible for the enforcement, I would assume that

[Page 3731]

is conservation officers who we are referring to? Also in Clause 12(1)(c), "authorizing the Minister to prescribe the fees for each type of licence or examination;", would that be a new fee? I would also ask the minister if he would go a little further and maybe allow surveyors, or qualified engineers, to obtain a scaler's licence.

With these few remarks, Mr. Speaker, I want the minister to know we support the bill and we want to see it move forward because we know it comes in line with the current industry practices that we see today.

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

The honourable Minister of Natural Resources.

HON. ERNEST FAGE: Mr. Speaker, I would be pleased to respond to the inquiries of the honourable member. Yes, it will be a new appointment and the new appointment on the examiner's board will be a representative of the private woodlot owners group. It is timely that they would have representation on that board. As well, the intention is to fully develop a comprehensive system that easily allows the transfer between weight and cubic metres, or volume, within the operation or prerogative of the duties.

As well, when we look at the issue concerning enforcement, those would be regular staff members who would already be there. As far as professional engineers or other individuals, as long as they receive the approval of this board, which is their function to do the examination for a scaler, once passing that they would become a registered scaler in the Province of Nova Scotia. It is my pleasure to close debate, and move second reading of Bill No. 33.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for second reading of Bill No. 33. Is the House ready for the question? Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

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

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 34.

Bill No. 34 - Social Workers Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Community Services.

[Page 3732]

HON. PETER CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to rise today to speak on and introduce Bill No. 34. I do want to indicate to the House that I am doing this bill on behalf of the Nova Scotia Association of Social Workers who have taken the time to look at the amendments and to recommend these changes.

These amendments deal with a wide range of mobility of social workers between provinces, and the professional conduct of social workers. These changes make the Act more effective for today's social workers and more effective for the operation of their professional organization.

This bill contains 29 amendments touching many aspects of social work. Those include authorizing the Board of Examiners to use dispute-settling mechanisms allowing for more satisfactory treatment of complaints by the public, changing the Registrar of the Board of Examiners from a volunteer to a staff position to help deal with the steadily increasing amount of workload and adding provisional registration requirements to ensure social workers coming into Nova Scotia from outside the province are qualified to practise here. They also add the term unbecoming to the grounds to which the Complaints Committee investigate and consider the conduct of an associate member.

I can't stress enough the importance that these amendments came from the input of people who practise in the profession. This will bring the Nova Scotia Social Workers Act into line with other parts of the country. Having said those few remarks, I move second reading.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

MR. JERRY PYE: I rise to support this bill going on to the Law Amendments Committee. First of all, the minister did not imply or did not state that there is an increase in the board membership of examiners from 10 to 12 and also that there is an increase in the quorum from 5 to 6 and that is just simply to match the increase in the Board of Examiners.

Also, with respect to the Complaints Committee, first of all, this is a move that enables the Complaints Committee to move within the 21st Century, as well as the Discipline Committee on addressing the issues. There is some concern with respect to the code of professional conduct, and that is the reason why I don't want to say that I fully endorse this until at least it goes before the Law Amendments Committee. This deals with out-of-province social workers who are coming to this province primarily to possibly seek employment within this province. There may be some jurisdictions in some areas in which we may not have the power to search into the conduct unbecoming a professional social worker. That may vary across the province and I don't know how this legislation compares to other provinces across Canada because we have not had the opportunity to investigate that to this point.

[Page 3733]

I do want to say that on the surface this is basically a housekeeping bill that allows this Act to move within the 21st Century. There are some significant amendments there and we ought not overlook the number of amendments that are taking place here. The minister did imply there are some 29 amendments and basically, those 29 amendments, again, I will say, are primarily housekeeping, but there is some interactivity between the Complaints Committee and the Discipline Committee and there are some concerns with respect to how far the Discipline Committee goes with respect to the Code of Ethics and the conduct unbecoming of a social worker and so on. I would certainly await any total endorsement of this until it comes back from the Law Amendments Committee, but I will support it going into second reading.

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

MR. DAVID WILSON: I am pleased to stand in my place today in support of the amendments to the Social Workers Act. As a matter of fact, the Liberals were very proud when we tabled the Social Workers Act. The 1993 Act strengthened the professionalism of social work and the amendments will further strengthen the bill. The Association of Social Workers are to be commended for their hard work and dedication, not only to their profession but also for bringing forth these changes. Daily, we ask social workers to do the job for the responsibilities of government and society in our communities as well. The changes to the current bill will further assist in the process, and it will also enable them to be even more effective than they have already proven to be.

[11:45 a.m.]

Mr. Speaker, these amendments were brought forward by social workers themselves to the Nova Scotia Association of Social Workers, and that is fairly important because they work in the system, they are the professionals and they know how best to conduct themselves in a professional, regulatory body. This legislation includes every change which the association suggested, by the way, so I don't think there could be anyone better suited to suggest these changes. With over 1,450 social workers who will be affected by these changes in Nova Scotia, and social workers know the everyday challenges of their profession and they also know the legislation which can improve their profession.

Some of the recommendations submitted by the social workers include authorizing the board of examiners to use dispute-settling mechanisms for resolving complaints made by the public; adding the term, conduct unbecoming, to the grounds by which the complaints committee can investigate complaints; and making the Registrar of the Board of Examiners a staff position from its previous designation as a volunteer position. This change will help the association deal with what is an ever-increasing workload. The changes will also ensure that the social workers coming to Nova Scotia from outside of the province are qualified to practise in this province. Those amendments were created through the input of the people who practise social work on a daily basis.

[Page 3734]

Mr. Speaker, this legislation also brings Nova Scotia in line with social work legislation in other parts of the country, and the changes will bring social workers in this province a great deal, I hope, of support. Of course, our caucus gives its full support to the proposed amendments to the Act.

MR. SPEAKER: If I recognize the honourable Minister of Community Services, it will be to close the debate on Bill No. 34.

The honourable Minister of Community Services.

HON. PETER CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, just in closing the debate, I thank my colleagues for their comments. We do look forward to the discussion in the Law Amendments Committee, and to hear any comments on this. As we have indicated, as all Parties have indicated, this is coming from the social workers, the people who work in social work. On behalf of the social workers, I want to again move second reading.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for second reading of Bill No. 34. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

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

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I was calling for another four bills to go through. (Interruptions) I am asking for permission to revert to the order of business, Presenting Reports of Committees.

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the Chairman of the Committee on Law Amendments, I am directed to report that the committee has met and considered the following bill:

Bill No. 20 - Government Restructuring (2001) Act.

[Page 3735]

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

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

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, could we also revert to the order of business, Government Notices of Motion.

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

RESOLUTION NO. 1260

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

Whereas we are now celebrating Police Week across Nova Scotia; and

Whereas police officers add to our quality of life by keeping our homes and streets safe; and

Whereas officers are important role models in our communities;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House commend and applaud police officers around the province for their dedication to duty, compassion and professionalism.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

[Page 3736]

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I move the House do now rise to meet again on Tuesday at the hour of 12:00 noon. The House will sit until 10:00 p.m. The order of business will be Committee of the Whole House on Bills, and if time permits, perhaps, some Public Bills for Second Reading. The Law Amendments Committee, as I understand it, is meeting after Question Period.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is that the House adjourn until 12:00 noon on Tuesday, until 10:00 p.m.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

[The motion is carried.]

MR. SPEAKER: I certainly want to wish all the members a safe journey home with their families on a nice long weekend, and look forward to seeing you next week.

The House is adjourned until noon on Tuesday.

[The House rose at 11:50 a.m.]

[Page 3737]

NOTICE OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3)

RESOLUTION NO. 1259

By: Mr. Graham Steele (Halifax Fairview)

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

Whereas this government stalled and postponed the inevitable decision to build a new Halifax West High School although the environmental problems of the old site could not be resolved; and

Whereas as a result of this undue delay, students of Halifax West High School and J.L. Ilsley High School have been forced to go through a year of split shifts; and

Whereas now that the government has admitted that a new school will not open before 2003, Halifax West High School students are facing a proposal that they be split up among three or four locations;

Therefore be it resolved that this House urge the government and the Halifax Regional School Board not to proceed with a plan to split the Halifax West High School student body and thereby further punish the students, parents and school spirit of Halifax West High School for provincial delay and neglect.