The Nova Scotia Legislature

The House adjourned:
October 26, 2017.

HANSARD 03-33

DEBATES AND PROCEEDINGS

Speaker: Honourable Murray Scott

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

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

Annual subscriptions available from the Office of the Speaker.

Third Session

WEDNESDAY, MAY 14, 2003

TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE
PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS:
Environ. & Lbr.: Enviro-Depot - Underfunding, Mr. W. Gaudet 2723
Environ. & Lbr. - Pesticides: Use - Restrict, Mr. J. MacDonell 2723
PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES:
Private and Local Bills Committee, Mrs. M. Baillie 2724
Law Amendments Committee, Hon. J. Muir 2724
Law Amendments Committee, Hon. J. Muir 2725
GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 1381, Peacekeeping Day (09/03) - Designate, The Premier 2726
Vote - Affirmative 2726
Res. 1382, Taste of N.S. Society Awards: Recipients - Congrats.,
Hon. G. Balser 2726
Vote - Affirmative 2727
Res. 1383, MOL Logistics: Importance - Recognize, Hon. C. Clarke 2727
Vote - Affirmative 2728
Res. 1384, Sports - Prov. Black Basketball Assoc.: Organizers/
Athletes - Recognize, Hon. A. MacIsaac 2728
Vote - Affirmative 2729
Res. 1385, Nat. Res.: Operation Safe Start - Importance, Hon. T. Olive 2729
Vote - Affirmative 2730
NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 1386, Insurance - Driver-Owned Non-Profit: Lowest Rates -
Admit, Mr. F. Corbett 2730
Res. 1387, Craig, Glen - CKIQ Iqaluit: Debut - Congrats.,
Mr. Manning MacDonald 2730
Vote - Affirmative 2731
Res. 1388, Sports - Hfx. Mooseheads: Season - Thank, Mr. D. Hendsbee 2731
Vote - Affirmative 2732
Res. 1389, Backman, Shirley: Vol. Efforts - Congrats., Mr. J. MacDonell 2732
Vote - Affirmative 2733
Res. 1390, MacLellan, Russell - King's: Hon. Degree - Congrats.,
Mr. K. MacAskill 2733
Vote - Affirmative 2733
Res. 1391, Eagle Crest Golf Course: Success - Congrats., Mr. M. Parent 2734
Vote - Affirmative 2734
Res. 1392, Gov't. (N.S.) - Gambling Revenues: Control - Effects,
Mr. W. Estabrooks 2734
Res. 1393, Dorsey Rept. - NDP: Opposition - Inclusion Commend,
Mr. P. MacEwan 2735
Res. 1394, MacDougall, Charles: GED - Congrats., Mr. J. Carey 2736
Vote - Affirmative 2737
Res. 1395, MISA: Progs./Services - Congrats., Mr. Robert Chisholm 2737
Vote - Affirmative 2738
Res. 1396, Forgeron, Frances: Vol. Efforts - Congrats.,
Mr. R. MacKinnon 2738
Vote - Affirmative 2738
Res. 1397, Hilchey, Terry: Educ. Wk. Award - Congrats., Mrs. M. Baillie 2738
Vote - Affirmative 2739
Res. 1398, Sports - E. Pictou RHS Girls Rugby: Championships -
Congrats., Mr. J. DeWolfe 2739
Vote - Affirmative 2740
Res. 1399, Dundee Golf Course: Season Opening - Congrats.,
Mr. M. Samson 2740
Vote - Affirmative 2741
Res. 1400, Schellenberger, Gary - Parliament: Election - Congrats.,
Mr. W. Langille 2741
Res. 1401, Porter, Lucas - Cdn. Music Comp.: Participation - Congrats.,
Mr. M. Parent 2742
Vote - Affirmative 2742
Res. 1402, The Music Man - Musquodoboit RHS: Production -
Congrats., (by Mr. D. Hendsbee), Mr. B. Taylor 2742
Vote - Affirmative 2743
Res. 1403, Celebration of Arts Soc.: Efforts - Commend, Hon. C. Clarke 2743
Vote - Affirmative 2744
Res. 1404, Gabrieau, Mark & Karen: Taste of N.S. Award - Congrats.,
Hon. A. MacIsaac 2744
Vote - Affirmative 2745
Res. 1405, New Germany Well Teen Clinic: Organizers - Congrats.,
Hon. M. Baker 2745
Vote - Affirmative 2745
Res. 1406, Davis, George: NHL Contract - Congrats., Hon. C. Clarke 2746
Vote - Affirmative 2746
Res. 1407, Nova Scotian Crystal - Windsor: Donation -
Significance Recognize, Hon. R. Russell 2746
Vote - Affirmative 2747
ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS:
No. 313, Insurance - Gov't. (N.S.): Companies - Acquiescence Explain,
Mr. D. Dexter 2748
No. 314, Insurance - URB: Mandate - Details, Mr. M. Samson 2749
No. 315, Insurance - No-Fault Insurance: Implementation -
Min. Admit, Mr. G. Steele 2751
No. 316, Health - Dr. Reyno: Resignation - Effects, Dr. J. Smith 2752
No. 317, Insurance - Rates: Reduction - Gov't. Requirement,
Mr. D. Dexter 2753
No. 318, Insurance: Kelly Case - Action, Mr. G. Steele 2754
No. 319, Health Prom. - Wellness: Commun. Health Bds. -
Importance, Dr. J. Smith 2755
No. 320, Insurance - Responsibility: Seriousness - Min. Accept,
Mr. F. Corbett 2756
No. 321, Insurance: Age Discrimination - End, Mr. H. Epstein 2757
No. 322, Nat. Res. - Shubie Park: Crow Pickup - Details,
Mr. K. MacAskill 2758
No. 323, Environ. & Lbr. - Dorsey Rept.: Implementation -
Delay Explain, Mr. F. Corbett 2760
No. 324, Health - Nursing Home Beds: Wait Times - Reduction,
Mr. Manning MacDonald 2761
No. 325, Commun. Serv. - Special Needs Daycares:
Dept. Discrimination - Explain, Mr. J. Pye 2762
No. 326, Health - South West Nova DHA: Parking Passes - Details,
Mr. W. Gaudet 2763
No. 327, Gaming - Bingos: Gov't. (N.S.) - Take/Fees Reduce,
Mr. J. MacDonell 2764
No. 328, Energy: Seismic Tests (C.B.) - Effects, Mr. B. Boudreau 2766
No. 329, Health Prom. - Smoking Rate: Statistics Inconsistencies -
Explain, Dr. J. Smith 2767
No. 330, Health - Nursing Homes: Rate Increases - Subsidy Effect,
Mr. G. Steele 2768
No. 331, Environ. & Lbr. - Dorsey Rept.: Liberal Questions -
Time Frame, Mr. P. MacEwan 2769
No. 332, Agric. & Fish. - Bras D'Or Oyster Ind.: Compensation Plan -
Min. Request, Mr. B. Boudreau 2771
No. 333, Educ. - Subsidence: Dominion Rept. - Costs, Mr. F. Corbett 2772
No. 334, Agric. & Fish. - Crab Buyers/Fishers: Econ. Protection -
Action, Mr. M. Samson 2773
No. 335, Agric. & Fish. - APF: Min. Signatory - Confirm,
Mr. J. MacDonell 2775
No. 336, Prem.: Office Staff - Details, Mr. Manning MacDonald 2776
OPPOSITION MEMBERS' BUSINESS:
PRIVATE MEMBERS' PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING:
No. 30, Forests Act 2778
Mr. J. MacDonell 2780
Hon. T. Olive 2782
Mr. K. MacAskill 2786
Mr. H. Epstein 2788
Mr. R Hurlburt 2792
MOTIONS OTHER THAN GOVERNMENT MOTIONS:
Res. 1323, Dorsey Rept.: PC Gov't. - Implement, Mr. F. Corbett 2793
Mr. F. Corbett 2793
Hon. R. Russell 2796
Mr. P. MacEwan 2798
Mr. K. Deveaux 2802
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Thur., May 15th at 12:00 noon 2807
NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3):
Res. 1408, Hubbards Shore Club - Commun. Tradition:
Continuation - Congrats., Mr. J. Chataway 2808
Res. 1409, Through the Years Daycare: Staff - Congrats.,
Mr. J. Chataway 2808
Res. 1410, VON - C.B. Metro Br.: Service - Congrats., Hon. C. Clarke 2809
Salute,
Mr. R. Hurlburt 2809
Res. 1412, Anna. Valley Honour Choir: Performances - Congrats.,
Mr. M. Parent 2810
Res. 1413, Sweet, Megan: Admiration - Express, Mr. M. Parent 2810
Res. 1414, Stephen, Mike - House Fly Trap: Invention - Congrats.,
Mr. J. DeWolfe 2811
Res. 1415, Hillside Girls Club: Mother-Daughter Banquet Awards -^^
Congrats., Mr. J. DeWolfe 2811
Res. 1416, Sports: ARRA Curling Team - Congrats., Mr. F. Chipman 2812
Res. 1417, Sports - Mallory & Lesley Ross/Rebecca Coady:
Cdn. HS Cross-Country Champ. - Congrats., Mr. F. Chipman 2812
Res. 1418, Whitman, Charles - Lawrencetown FD: Service - Applaud,
Mr. F. Chipman 2813
Res. 1419, Campbell, Chief Ross - Anna. Ryl. Police: Service -
Commend, Mr. F. Chipman 2813
Res. 1420, Muise, Ashlee: RRFB Essay Contest - Congrats.,
Mr. F. Chipman 2814
Res. 1421, Pyle, Greg & Val - Queen Anne Inn: Assoc. of Unique
Country Inns (N.S.) - Admittance Congrats., Mr. F. Chipman 2814
Res. 1422, Anna. Co. Employees: Long Service Pins - Congrats.,
Mr. F. Chipman 2815
Res. 1423, Spurr, Justin/French, Greg: Skills Can./N.S. Skills Comp. -
Congrats., Mr. F. Chipman 2815
Res. 1424, Gartner, Phillip: Cadet Marksmanship Comp. - Congrats.,
Mr. F. Chipman 2816
Res. 1425, Gerrior, Bill: Acadian Awakenings - Publication Congrats.,
Mr. F. Chipman 2816
Res. 1426, Hankinson, David - Lawrencetown Area Commun.
Partners Assoc.: Chair - Appt. Congrats., Mr. F. Chipman 2817
Res. 1427, Selig, Howard - Flaxflour: Production - Congrats.,
Mr. F. Chipman 2817

[Page 2721]

HALIFAX, WEDNESDAY, MAY 14, 2003

Fifty-eighth General Assembly

Third Session

2:00 P.M.

SPEAKER

Hon. Murray Scott

DEPUTY SPEAKERS

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

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I will bring the House to order and begin the daily routine.

The honourable member for Glace Bay.

MR. DAVID WILSON: Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of privilege. Yesterday, during Question Period, the Minister of Education stated that he had tabled a report in this House, his response of the Department of Education, to the Special Education Implementation Review Committee. To the best of my knowledge and to the knowledge of House officials, that report was not tabled when the minister indicated. I'm hoping that the minister did not mislead myself and colleagues and members of this House and indeed Nova Scotians by saying that a report had been tabled when it actually hadn't been.

I hope that indeed the minister knows one report from another. There was a report tabled last week by the minister but it was a different report and I hope the minister is not going to use that as an excuse, that certainly anyone who is in charge of running the education system in this province should know what reports bear his name and whether or not they have been tabled.

2721

[Page 2722]

Mr. Speaker, I'm asking you to look into the matter and to further investigate as to whether or not actually that report had been tabled at the time that the minister indicated because to the best of my knowledge it had not been tabled and had not been made available to this House.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, far be it from me to speak on behalf of the Minister of Education but I'm going to anyway. He's just walked in but he did mention to me last night that there was an error.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Education on the point of privilege that was raised by the honourable member for Glace Bay.

HON. ANGUS MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, it was my intention to rise today prior to Question Period and explain to the honourable member that I had yesterday made reference to tabling the report. It was brought to my attention after Question Period that had not happened and I have asked officials in my department to ensure that copies of the report are distributed to all members of the House. I misspoke yesterday and for that I want to beg the indulgence of the honourable member. It certainly was not my intent to mislead in any way but what I spoke of was, in my view, what I thought had happened and, indeed, it turns out it did not happen.

MR. SPEAKER: I think the House and the members are satisfied with that explanation. I thank the Minister of Education and the member for Glace Bay for bringing it to the floor.

The honourable member for Shelburne on an introduction.

MR. CECIL O'DONNELL: Mr. Speaker, in the east gallery today we have Grade 6 students visiting with us from the Evelyn Richardson Memorial Elementary School in Shag Harbour, which is in Shelburne County. I would also like to mention that we have teachers Karen Harris and Louann Bower; and chaperones Theresa Gorham, Della Nickerson, Sue Ann Banks, Lisa Perry, and Pam Stoddart. I would ask that they rise and receive the warm welcome of the House today. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: Yes, indeed, welcome to our guests, as introduced by the honourable member for Shelburne.

The honourable Minister of Finance on an introduction.

[Page 2723]

HON. NEIL LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, in the east gallery today there is a constituent of Argyle, from my home Village of Wedgeport who has come to view the proceedings, Mr. Stephen Cottreau. I would ask him to rise and receive the warm applause of the House. (Applause)

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

MR. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, in our east gallery today we have members from quite literally all over the province, representing injured workers. From the Pictou County Injured Workers Association is Mary Lloyd and Mary Kellock; from Nova Scotia Provincial Injured Workers is June Labrador and Wally Peters; from Cape Breton Injured Workers is James Lyle; and from the Network of Injured Workers we have Ralph Messenger and Harold Selig. I would ask them to stand and get the welcome of the House. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: Yes, again, indeed, welcome to our guests, as introduced by the member for Cape Breton Centre and welcome to all our guests today in the gallery.

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

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

MR. WAYNE GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table approximately 100 letters from residents from the Municipality of Clare, voicing their concerns regarding a major issue of underfunding our local Enviro-Depot. I have affixed my name to that petition.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable member for Hants East.

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition on behalf of residents of Lower Truro area, entitled Petition for the Prevention of Pesticide Spraying in and Near Residential Areas. There are 614 signatures, with mine, in support, and although it's presented in more of a resolution form, I will read just the operative clause:

"We the undersigned hereby ask the premier, government, and legislature of Nova Scotia to create and guarantee by court order or legislation a buffer zone of not less than 1KM (one kilometer) around our homes to protect our children and the quality of our drinking water and to phase in organic farming in all residential areas as soon as possible."

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

[Page 2724]

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou West.

MRS. MURIEL BAILLIE: Mr. Speaker, as Chairman of the Committee on Private and Local Bills, I am directed to report that the committee has met and considered the following bills:

Bill No. 29 - Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities Act.

Bill No. 34 - Riverport District Fire Protection Act.

Bill No. 35 - An Act to Incorporate the Truro Golf Club.

Bill No. 37 - Hantsport Memorial Community Centre Financial Assistance (2003) Act.

Bill No. 40 - Sisters of Saint Martha Act.

Bill No. 44 - Presbyterian Church Cemetery Company Act.

Bill No. 47 - Associated Alumni of Acadia College Incorporation Act.

Bill No. 48 - Lunenburg Common Lands Act.

Bill No. 51 - Crosbie Memorial Trust Fund Act.

and the committee recommends these bills to the favourable consideration of the House, each without amendment.

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

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Justice.

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

Bill No. 45 - Insurance Act.

Bill No. 50 - Interior Designers Act.

[Page 2725]

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

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

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Justice.

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

Bill No. 1 - Firefighters' Compensation Act.

Bill No. 28 - Apprenticeship and Trades Qualifications Act.

Bill No. 43 - Members' Retiring Allowances Act.

and the committee recommends these bills to the favourable consideration of the House, each without amendment.

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

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Premier.

HON. JOHN HAMM (The Premier): Mr. Speaker, prior to reading my resolution, with your permission, I would like to introduce six members, who are visiting today, in the Speaker's Gallery. Today we have with us six retired United Nations peacekeeping veterans. They are Mr. Richard Ross, Mr. Hugh Ryan, Mr. Robert Smith, Mr. Ken Kennedy, Mr. John Cohoon and Mr. Nelson Mullen. I would ask our guests to rise to receive the welcome of the House. (Standing Ovation)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Premier.

[Page 2726]

[2:15 p.m.]

RESOLUTION NO. 1381

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

Whereas the mandate of the Canadian Association of Veterans in United Nations Peacekeeping is to remember those who lost their lives and to educate the public; and

Whereas peacekeepers are a vital part of today's world; and

Whereas August 9th was the day Canada lost nine peacekeepers by a SAM missile over Syria;

Therefore be it resolved that August 9th be designated as Peacekeeping Day in the Province of Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried. (Standing Ovation)

The honourable Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries.

RESOLUTION NO. 1382

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

Whereas the Taste of Nova Scotia Society Awards were introduced in 1999 to encourage the pursuit of excellence within the Taste of Nova Scotia membership and to recognize commitment within the culinary profession; and

[Page 2727]

Whereas the Taste of Nova Scotia Society honoured the 2002 Taste of Nova Scotia Society Awards recipients on Wednesday, April 30, 2003, at the Prince George Hotel in Halifax; and

Whereas the 2002 Taste of Nova Scotia Restaurant of the Year Award was presented to Gabrieau's Bistro in Antigonish, the 2002 Special Merit Award was presented to the staff at MacAskill's Restaurant in Dartmouth, and the 2002 Alex Clavel Educational Award was presented to Annalesia Waito;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House recognize the recipients of this year's awards and all members of the Taste of Nova Scotia Society.

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 Economic Development.

RESOLUTION NO. 1383

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

Whereas when Air Canada pulled its Yarmouth services out in January, the community kept the airport alive and their hard work continues to pay dividends; and

Whereas international freight forwarding company MOL Logistics has discovered the potential in the area and has expanded its business to include southwestern Nova Scotia; and

Whereas with 81 offices worldwide, MOL will strengthen the region's business community, contributing also to the economic success of the province;

[Page 2728]

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House applaud the citizens whose work kept the Yarmouth Airport active and also recognize the positive impact that MOL Logistics will have on not only Yarmouth, but Nova Scotia and wish them success in their new operation on the South Shore.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Education.

RESOLUTION NO. 1384

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

Whereas today begins the Provincial Black Basketball Association tournament, one of the largest cultural events in the Canadian Black community that brings together players and former Nova Scotians from many countries; and

Whereas this is not only a sporting and cultural event, but an educational event, as the association promotes the benefits of staying in school, and sports as a means of achieving post-secondary education; and

Whereas the association also promotes Back to the Books - a program that financially supports young people in sports to encourage them to achieve their post-secondary goals and share their experiences with other young people;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House recognize the organizers and athletes involved in this event who are celebrating sports, culture and education in the Black community.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 2729]

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 Natural Resources.

RESOLUTION NO. 1385

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

Whereas the Victoria Day weekend usually results in an increase in fishing, boating, all-terrain vehicle and other outdoor recreational activities which can result in environmental damage and sometimes injuries and fatalities related to these activities; and

Whereas Operation Safe Start, a joint enforcement initiative focusing on safety and conservation of the province's natural resources, will be carried out on the Victoria Day weekend, May 17th to May 19th; and

Whereas Natural Resources conservation officers, provincial and federal Fisheries' officers, members of the Cape Breton Regional Police, Halifax Regional Police and RCMP, the Canadian Coast Guard, and Environment Canada staff will participate in this initiative which is designed to increase public awareness of safe boating and fishing practices;

Therefore be it resolved that members of the House recognize and promote the importance of safe boating and fishing practices and of compliance with the laws and regulations that protect Nova Scotians and our natural 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.

[Page 2730]

The motion is carried.

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

NOTICES OF MOTION

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

RESOLUTION NO. 1386

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

Whereas yesterday the Utility and Review Board's decision on auto insurance rates determined the massive rate hikes of the past year appear to have been made with no consideration for the ability of Nova Scotia families to pay; and

Whereas the Minister of Environment and Labour, who is responsible for skyrocketing insurance rates, remarked that it's too bad the URB did not offer recommendations on how to control rates, but his government never gave it the mandate to do so; and

Whereas while skyrocketing rates continue to torch consumers the minister fiddles away his time with vague promises of action in the fullness of time;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Environment and Labour, who is responsible for skyrocketing insurance rates, should have the decency to admit that driver-owned, non-profit insurance gives Canadians the lowest auto insurance rates.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton South.

RESOLUTION NO. 1387

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

Whereas Cape Breton Screaming Eagles play-by-play personality for the past three seasons, Glen Craig, will not be back for the 2003-04 season; and

Whereas Mr. Craig has accepted a position with a new FM station, CKIQ in Iqaluit, Nunavut; and

[Page 2731]

Whereas Mr. Craig, a former play-by-play personality for the Fredericton Canadians of the AHL and a favourite among Eaglemaniacs, will be missed;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House wish Glen Craig all the best when he makes his on-air debut next month at CKIQ in Iqaluit, Nunavut.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Preston.

RESOLUTION NO. 1388

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

Whereas last night the Halifax Mooseheads' season came to a heartbreaking end with a 7-2 loss in the seventh and deciding game for the QMJHL President's Cup against the Hull Olympiques; and

Whereas this defeat was a tough finish to an otherwise spectacular 72 regular game season with an overall record of 44 wins, 15 losses, 10 ties and 3 overtime losses for 101 points to place first in the Maritime Division of the Frank Dilio Conference for the 2002-03 season; and

Whereas this year's playoff season's 25-game journey to the Q League's finals is the furthest the Moosehead team has ever gone in its nine-year history that saw three of the teams' four-playoff series go the full distance of seven games;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House thank the Halifax Mooseheads and their coach, Shawn MacKenzie, for a great season of hockey and recognize the hard work of the team's players and staff, the enthusiastic Moosemaniac fans and the great play-by-play coverage by John Moore of CJCH 920 AM Rink Rant and Dan Robertson of Eastlink Cable 10 TV throughout the year.

[Page 2732]

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: That resolution is a bit wordy, but nonetheless, 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. 1389

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

Whereas volunteers are necessary for a variety of service organizations in our community to exist; and

Whereas Shirley Backman has donated countless numbers of hours and valuable skills to a variety of organizations such as Maple Ridge Elementary School in Lantz, East Hants Uechi Ryu Karate and Fitness Academy and the East Hants Highland Dance Association; and

Whereas Shirley Backman was honoured on April 30th in Upper Rawdon by the Municipality of East Hants for her dedication and commitment as a volunteer;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Shirley Backman for her outstanding example of volunteerism and extend their appreciation for her hard work and worthy contributions 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.

[Page 2733]

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Victoria.

RESOLUTION NO. 1390

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

Whereas former Liberal Premier Russell MacLellan will receive an honorary Doctor of Law degree tomorrow from the University of King's College of which he is an alumnus; and

Whereas Russell is recognized for his distinguished two-decade commitment to public life, first as a Member of Parliament and then as Leader of the Nova Scotia Liberal Party and later Premier of Nova Scotia; and

Whereas while serving his province and country, Russell served as a Parliamentary Secretary to several ministries and has represented Canada at several international meetings including the United Nations and the World Health Organization;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Russell MacLellan on receiving an honorary Doctor of Law from King's College on May 15, 2003.

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.

[Page 2734]

RESOLUTION NO. 1391

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

Whereas since opening 10 years ago, Centreville's Eagle Crest Golf Course has become so popular that the owners are expanding their operation; and

Whereas the golf course will be altered to accommodate more parking space for golfers and a new, larger clubhouse will be constructed; and

Whereas the owners also plan to open a driving range to build on the course's popularity and place more emphasis on winter activities such as cross-country skiing to make Eagle Crest a year-round destination;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House join me in congratulating the owners of Eagle Crest Golf Course on the success of their growing enterprise and wish them much success with their future business plans.

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. 1392

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

Whereas community groups such as the Lions' Club have a long tradition of investing in the well-being of their communities; and

[Page 2735]

Whereas government-controlled video gambling machines and casinos have seriously reduced revenues for non-profit activities like Lions' bingos that pour much-needed dollars back into their communities; and

Whereas some Lions' bingos have closed, others are in jeopardy but this government has raised their licensing fees sixfold in the last two years and continues to require that they show net profits of at least 15 per cent of gross receipts or face closure;

Therefore be it resolved that this government admit that its addiction to gambling revenues has severely hampered the efforts of non-profit groups to fund-raise for much-needed projects in their communities and commit to lightening the regulatory burden on them.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The honourable member will take his place. (Interruptions)

Order, please. The honourable member (Interruptions) Order, please.

[The notice is tabled.]

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

RESOLUTION NO. 1393

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

Whereas the Liberal Party has raised the issue of the non-implementation of the Dorsey report on workers' compensation by this government weekly in Question Period, sometimes more than once a week; and

Whereas the Minister of Environment and Labour has generally responded that action on this matter must wait until the Fall of this year anyway; and

[Page 2736]

Whereas the sluggishness of the Minister of Environment and Labour has by now impressed even the NDP so that they can see that they should raise the matter of the Minister of Environment and Labour having failed to act;

Therefore be it resolved that this House commend the NDP for overcoming the deadly sin of sloth and now realizing that this government is not intending to act on the Dorsey recommendations even designating this matter for discussion later today under Opposition Members' Business.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Kings West.

[2:30 p.m.]

RESOLUTION NO. 1394

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

Whereas some say learning is a lifetime journey and Millville's Charles MacDougall, 80 years young, must agree because recently he successfully completed his General Education Degree; and

Whereas enrolled in a correspondence course slotted to take two years, Mr. MacDougall accomplished all the readings, assignments and tests required in one year and is now thinking of enrolling in adult courses at Acadia University, if he can find time in his busy schedule; and

Whereas after retiring, Mr. MacDougall began to think about school again for the first time since he passed Grade 9 in 1939 and, never a quitter, decided he wanted to give it a try;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Charles MacDougall on receiving his GED, and applaud him for doing it after so many years away from school. He is truly an inspiration to Nova Scotians.

[Page 2737]

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.

RESOLUTION NO. 1395

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

Whereas the Metropolitan Immigrant Settlement Association, MISA, is a community-based organization providing support to newcomers to our province; and

Whereas MISA offers business ideas workshops and seminars, networking opportunities, and business coaching services to aspiring, new entrepreneurs; and

Whereas on Tuesday, May 20th, MISA will launch a publication of 19 immigrant entrepreneur success stories, entitled Everything Ventured Something Gained: Profiles of Immigrant Entrepreneurs in Nova Scotia;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House congratulate MISA for the programs and services it has developed to attract, integrate and retain immigrants to the region, and for assisting immigrant entrepreneurs with their endeavours to start businesses in the Province of Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

[Page 2738]

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton West.

RESOLUTION NO. 1396

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

Whereas volunteerism is essential to the development and success of communities throughout Nova Scotia; and

Whereas each year government recognizes those volunteers who have made unselfish contributions and played an exemplary role towards the betterment of their communities and to the lives of others; and

Whereas this year Frances Forgeron, of Main-à-Dieu, is recognized for her extensive contributions to the Main-à-Dieu Credit Union and to the credit union movement;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize and congratulate Frances Forgeron for her outstanding volunteer efforts.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Pictou West.

RESOLUTION NO. 1397

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

[Page 2739]

Whereas West Pictou Consolidated Physical Education teacher Terry Hilchey was a recipient of an Education Week Award for exemplifying the week's theme, Physical Education: Stimulating the Mind and Body; and

Whereas Mr. Hilchey was able to obtain funding for pedometers for all students at his school in order to promote physical activity and teach the students about technology; and

Whereas the Lyons Brook teacher has also helped to get the West Pictou Consolidated School's Web site launched;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House join me in congratulating Terry Hilchey on being named one of the province's top Physical Education teachers and express our gratitude for his efforts to improve the minds and bodies of his students.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Pictou East.

RESOLUTION NO. 1398

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

Whereas at a major tournament held recently at the Cobequid Educational Centre, the girls rugby team of East Pictou Rural High School were the champions; and

Whereas the team won, thanks to its leadership and determination in what is a tough sport; and

Whereas the team consists of Sarah MacPherson, Jenna Simms, Vanessa MacDonald, Hillary MacDonald, Haley MacDonald, Heidi Sinclair, Amy Affleck, Brittany Fraser, Michelle MacDonald, Megan Ross, Lindsay Williams, Megan MacDonald, Lindsay

[Page 2740]

Cameron, Tiffany Fraser, Amanda MacDonald, Amy Theakston, Amanda Ehler, Amy Dewtie and Sarah Grant;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate these young women on their sporting achievements and wish them well as they continue with their studies and their physical education.

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 Richmond.

RESOLUTION NO. 1399

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

Whereas the picturesque golf course in Dundee, Richmond County opened nine of its 18 holes to golfers last Monday; and

Whereas by this weekend, Dundee expects to have all of its 18 holes open; and

Whereas the Dundee golf course is well ahead of where they were this time last year with its course preparation;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Dundee golf course on its great start and wish it all the very best for a very successful golf season for 2003.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 2741]

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Colchester North.

RESOLUTION NO. 1400

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

Whereas the federal Progressive Conservative Party received a vote of confidence on Monday night when the voters of the Ontario riding of Perth-Middlesex elected their PC candidate in the by-election; and

Whereas Canada's newest MP, Gary Schellenberger, defeated an ardent supporter of federal Liberal Leadership candidate Paul Martin by nearly 1,000 votes; and

Whereas the defeat for the federal Liberals may be a sign of the displeasure Canadians hold with their policies and ineffectiveness on issues such as the replacement of the Sea King helicopters and the long gun registry;

Therefore be it resolved that MLAs in this House of Assembly congratulate Gary Schellenberger for his electoral triumph in Ontario and wish him well in his duties as a member of our national Parliament.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Kings North.

[Page 2742]

RESOLUTION NO. 1401

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

Whereas the Canadian Music Competition involves hundreds of volunteers, musicians and committed teachers who strive to achieve their ideal of directing youth to seek excellence in music; and

Whereas music students from across Canada, ranging in ages from 7 to 25, compete in numerous age and instrumental categories at this event; and

Whereas Port Williams resident Lucas Porter will be one of only two Nova Scotians representing the province at this year's Canadian Music Competition;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House join me in congratulating Lucas Porter on being selected to represent Nova Scotia at the Canadian Music Competition and wish him much success in his future musical endeavours.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Preston.

MR. DAVID HENDSBEE: Mr. Speaker, with your permission I would like to read this resolution on behalf of the member for the beautiful Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

MR. SPEAKER: Permission granted.

RESOLUTION NO. 1402

MR. DAVID HENDSBEE: Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

[Page 2743]

Whereas last week, the Musquodoboit Bicentennial Theatre and the Musquodoboit Rural High School presented The Music Man all last week at the theatre; and

Whereas The Music Man was no ordinary school musical, instead, the well-written script reflected upon Musquodoboit's history, geography and genealogy; and

Whereas hundreds of people donated their time, talent and energy, including students Marissa Rogers and Nicole Sibley, who worked many long hours after every rehearsal over a seven-month period, as well as the theatre's Jim Reid for his help with many duties, including ticket sales;

Therefore be it resolved that MLAs applaud producer, director and choreographer Sharon Meadows and all the participants in this year's musical for their time, talent and initiative.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Economic Development.

RESOLUTION NO. 1403

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

Whereas sensing a need in the area of arts and culture in the Northside community, the Celebration of Arts Society was formed and its members do an exemplary job of showcasing the musical talent in the Northside's arts and culture scene; and

Whereas planning went on for 18 months before the society began hosting concerts in the area, reaching out to bring in young, unknown bands to complement the more experienced musicians; and

[Page 2744]

Whereas the concerts are being held in local churches, a venue that surprised organizers, but which turned out to be the perfect location for their high ceilings, acoustic setting and seating;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of the House commend the efforts of the Celebration of the Arts Society led by Susan Clarke-Tizzard and Wanda Eveleigh and thank them for reviving the music scene in Cape Breton's Northside.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Education.

RESOLUTION NO. 1404

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

Whereas the Taste of Nova Scotia Restaurant of the Year Award is awarded based on nominations from customers who have enjoyed a high-quality dining experience in a Nova Scotia restaurant; and

Whereas this year's Taste of Nova Scotia's Restaurant of the Year is Antigonish's Gabrieau's Bistro; and

Whereas restaurant owners Mark and Karen Gabrieau have not only brought superb food and wine services to the Town of Antigonish, they are community leaders who often extend their financial support to many worthwhile community projects;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House join me in congratulating Mark and Karen Gabrieau on winning the Taste of Nova Scotia's Restaurant of the Year Award and wish them continued success in the future.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 2745]

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 Transportation and Public Works.

RESOLUTION NO. 1405

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

Whereas Ardythe Wildsmith and public health nurse Barbara Hilbert have participated in organizing a Well Women's Clinic in New Germany; and

Whereas in an effort to have teen girls involved and interested in issues concerning women, a Well Teen Clinic has been organized for New Germany; and

Whereas high school girls will assist in the organizing of the clinic by putting forward ideas that not only have a medical component but also an educational component as well;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of the House of Assembly congratulate Ardythe Wildsmith, Barbara Hilbert, Anna Nauss, Sarah Bolivar, Jocelyn Meisner, Melanie MacKay, Ashlee Leary, Jessie Hannah, Tamara Aulenback, Melissa Joudrey and all other organizers of the Well Teen Clinic in New Germany in their efforts to make a difference for others.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

[Page 2746]

The honourable Minister of Economic Development.

RESOLUTION NO. 1406

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

Whereas George Davis, a former member of the Halifax Mooseheads Hockey Club, is a resident of Florence, Cape Breton; and

Whereas George Davis was drafted by the Anaheim Mighty Ducks of the National Hockey League in 2002; and

Whereas George Davis signed a three-year deal with the Mighty Ducks on Sunday, May 4th;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate George Davis on signing a contract in the National Hockey League and acknowledge the pride of his friends and family in Florence, Cape Breton.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Government House Leader.

RESOLUTION NO. 1407

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

Whereas in recognition of the Town of Windsor's importance to Nova Scotia history, Nova Scotian Crystal Limited has donated to the town an exclusive pattern vase to coincide with its 125th Anniversary this year; and

[Page 2747]

Whereas the presentation of the pattern vase was made by the President and CEO of Nova Scotian Crystal, Mr. Robert McCulloch, to Windsor Mayor Anna Allen in a ceremony at the town hall earlier this month; and

Whereas the new Windsor pattern, created to recognize the age of sail in Windsor and the town's history as a shipbuilding centre, is featured in the company's brochure which is made available to customers across Canada and the United States;

Therefore be it resolved that MLAs recognize the symbolic significance of this treasured piece of crystal and what the donation means to the Town of Windsor which has played such a prominent role in the history of this province for the last 125 years.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

I would remind the honourable members that it has been agreed by all sides that there will be no late debate tonight.

The honourable member for Colchester North.

MR. WILLIAM LANGILLE: Mr. Speaker, if I may, earlier this afternoon the Premier did a resolution proclaiming August 9th as Peacekeeping Day in Nova Scotia. Outside the Legislature I was presented this certificate by the peacekeepers and it's for the members of the Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs. If I may I'd like to read it, it's for all committee members. It's from the Canadian Association of Veterans in United Nations Peacekeeping.

"PRESENTED TO

MEMBERS

OF THE STANDING COMMITTEE ON VETERANS AFFAIRS

In appreciation and in recognition of

[Page 2748]

Their unanimous support

To obtain a Proclamation

For The Province of Nova Scotia

To Declare August 9th as

Peacekeeping Day

Presented on behalf of all Members of

The Canadian Association of Veterans

In United Nations Peacekeeping."

I thank you very much and I thank my committee for unanimously supporting this endeavour. Thank you. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: I thank the honourable member for Colchester North for reading that into the record.

ORDERS OF THE DAY

ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS

MR. SPEAKER: Question Period is for an hour and a half. It will end at 4:16 p.m.

The honourable Leader of the Official Opposition.

INSURANCE - GOV'T. (N.S.):

COMPANIES - ACQUIESCENCE EXPLAIN

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Environment and Labour who, incidentally, is responsible for skyrocketing insurance rates. Automobile insurance is compulsory. The URB says the present scheme in Nova Scotia typifies the free enterprise model. It says the cost of claims is only one factor the company uses to set rates and it finds that car insurance rates are discriminatory. The insurance company said they would use their high-level contacts with this government to gain a limit on the benefits they pay without a limit on rates. My question is, will the minister tell this House why his government has been singing the insurance companies' tune instead of standing up for Nova Scotian drivers?

[Page 2749]

[2:45 p.m.]

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, this government is standing up to the insurance companies. This government has a piece of legislation before this House which would have been through this House if those persons opposite had not filibustered that bill during its second reading.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, the minister has to choose between private insurance companies on one hand and Nova Scotian drivers on the other and he can't have it both ways. He knows that rates are lower and that there is no discrimination in the driver-owned non-profit systems, yet, his government won't even put this option on the table. Now that the URB has documented just how bad the situation is with private insurance companies, my question for the minister is, why is this government still refusing to consider non-profit, driver-owned insurance?

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, this government has not put any options at the present time on the table. We are awaiting the report from the consumer advocate and we have now gotten the report from the URB, the Utility and Review Board. We will be coming forth with a plan in the very near future.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, for weeks we have been hearing the minister say wait for the URB, wait for the URB. Well, the URB reported. They said that it's up to this government to take action if they want lower rates for drivers - that's what they said. The minister whose responsibilities include skyrocketing insurance rates has been headed toward a cut in benefits instead of lower rates since day one. The only question is how long will it be before this minister delivers what the insurance companies want. My question is this, why does this government favour the interest of the insurance companies over the public interest of drivers?

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, we have called a time-out on increased rates of insurance. At the present time, however, we can't even enact that part of the legislation, let alone the part that deals with regulations until the Opposition permits the bill to proceed.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Richmond.

INSURANCE - URB: MANDATE - DETAILS

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, the Utility and Review Board concluded that continuing cost increases are to be expected as long as the existing automobile insurance system in Nova Scotia remains as it is today. By not addressing the problem earlier, this government has left every Nova Scotian, from seniors to young people and everyone in between, increasingly angry with the rising insurance rates. This government had a chance to help these Nova Scotians over a year ago but chose to send the matter to the Utility and

[Page 2750]

Review Board with a very narrow mandate. So it is surprising to hear the minister say today that he would have liked more direction on what to do from the Utility and Review Board. My question to the minister responsible for insurance is why then did the minister give the Utility and Review Board such a narrow mandate instead of allowing it to examine the broader problems within the insurance system in this province?

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member, or Johnny-come-lately to the insurance scene, should be advised that this government has moved on the matter of automobile insurance. We moved on it about 15 months ago, when we asked the URB to examine the rates.

MR. SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, rates in this province started going up in 1999, right after this government got elected. This government's four years has come a little late in taking action on this matter. The Utility and Review Board reports that the board stated that the premium increases, while justified, have been harsh and appear to have been imposed without consideration for the consumers' ability to pay. Nova Scotians are looking for the government to take concrete action on this, and these are not new issues. Mr. Minister, they did not start 15 months ago, they started much longer ago than that. Your government has had four long years to put together a plan to deal with this and bring Nova Scotians the relief that they require. My question is, given that this government knew about these concerns well over a year ago, in fact four years ago, can the minister please explain to Nova Scotians why it has failed to address these important concerns earlier than today?

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member for Richmond, as I said before, has just suddenly woken up to the fact that we do have an insurance problem in this province. This government is working on that, and I invite the honourable member, if he has anything to contribute to the solution to this problem, to submit it to the consumer advocate, whose address I will give him.

MR. SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, it is Nova Scotians who will judge this government's lack of inaction over the last four years, on the doorsteps. They will pass judgment on the fact that this government has failed to act on this important issue, and now say they want to go to the polls without any sort of plan in place. The Utility and Review Board found evidence of restrictive underwriting practices by some insurance companies, but that a more comprehensive review is required in order to determine the extent that such practices are being adopted. While this government has introduced provisions that will enable it to enact regulations to prevent unfair underwriting rules, those provisions have not yet been released and, I would submit to you, we will probably go into an election without the government releasing this information. Nova Scotians should no longer have to . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Would the honourable member place his final supplementary question.

[Page 2751]

MR. SAMSON: . . . on this issue from this government. My question is, when will Nova Scotians know the full details of whether their rates will continue to rise under this administration?

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, the question, which in reality was a speech, did not indicate any direction that the Liberal Party is suggesting that the government should move.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

INSURANCE - NO-FAULT INSURANCE:

IMPLEMENTATION - MIN. ADMIT

MR. GRAHAM STEELE: Mr. Speaker, my question is also to the Minister of Environment and Labour. The Utility and Review Board has now said high insurance rates are justified and more increases are coming, if we keep the system we have now. What we see is a government trying to convince people it's protecting them by bringing in minor regulatory changes. My question to the minister is, why doesn't the minister simply admit that the Utility and Review Board report, combined with his government's discussion paper, mean that he's taking the province down the road of no-fault insurance?

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, we're not taking the people of Nova Scotia down any road unless it's a road to the return of this government to power in the upcoming election.

MR. STEELE: Mr. Speaker, the Utility and Review Board report says it's unclear whether further regulatory powers would work. These insurance companies have demonstrated that they are adept at escaping far more complex regulatory regimes than this minister can put in place. The truth is the insurance industry had their plan laid out for well over a year - jack up rates before an election and then use the crisis to gain benefit restrictions. My question to the minister is, doesn't the minister see that every step he has taken so far was orchestrated by the industry to achieve restrictions on benefits for injured Nova Scotians?

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I don't know if the honourable member has read the report, but the report does provide us with some direction and we will be taking that direction as we proceed.

MR. STEELE: Mr. Speaker, the minister is dancing to the tune of the insurance industry, which is acting like a puppet master in this whole affair. By restricting benefits, this minister will guarantee that victims of car accidents will fund increased insurance company profits. My question to the minister is, will the minister show that the he's on the side of Nova Scotians, instead of mammoth, multinational insurance companies and rule out benefit restrictions today?

[Page 2752]

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, this government doesn't just jump to conclusions, this government examines a problem and then comes up with a reasoned approach and that is exactly what we will do.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

HEALTH - DR. REYNO: RESIGNATION - EFFECTS

DR. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Health. Nova Scotia is about to lose a valuable player in cancer treatment in this province, Chief Medical Oncologist at the QE II, Dr. Leonard Reyno. An individual who we, as government, recruited to this province has resigned and will be going to the U.S. to work. This is a huge loss for cancer patients and cancer treatment right across this province. It marks the beginning of the breakdown of the infrastructure for cancer care in Nova Scotia. My question to the minister is, could the minister please explain to all Nova Scotians how she will manage to control wait times for cancer patients, given the loss of Dr. Reyno?

HON. JANE PURVES: Mr. Speaker, yes, indeed, the doctor in question is very well-respected, so well-respected he received a very prestigious post in the United States. We will be working to recruit more oncologists. I would also like to point out that there are some good things happening in this area, for example, the recruitment of the researcher, Dr. Lee, which may in turn bring in some more expertise in that area to Halifax.

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, research is an important component of cancer care but it's not patient care and clinical care. So, it isn't just Dr. Reyno we're losing, there is another medical oncologist vacancy at the QE II as well. It is interesting to note that the Fraser Institute in 2001-02, the median wait time to see a medical oncologist after referral from a family doctor here was 3.3 weeks. Despite having made progress on this wait time over the previous year there is no question that a loss of two medical oncologists will now see those wait times grow. My question to the minister is, will this minister outline what aggressive measures she will undertake to ensure that wait times to see a medical oncologist won't grow out of control?

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, obviously the member opposite knows that this is a very important area and I can tell him that the recruitment efforts are being headed by Dr. Allan Purdy, together with Dalhousie University, and they are making every effort to fill those two positions.

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, we are losing a nucleus of very important specialists here in a very important area of cancer care. Something is happening here that this government is unable to handle. We have oncologists leaving, we have vacancies for liver transplant specialists, we now are sending Nova Scotians to Ontario, the cardiac surgeons are not having enough time to operate, they're on loan to Manitoba, all of which contributes to

[Page 2753]

increased wait times and a breakdown of infrastructure of important specialist care in Nova Scotia. My question to the minister is, just when is she going to take action to ensure that specialists stay in Nova Scotia, rather than scaring them away - which is what appears to be happening - that she and her government is doing to the health care of Nova Scotians?

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, one can look at the situation from that point of view if one chooses. One can also say that the care and the medical specialists in Nova Scotia are excellent, otherwise, that particular oncologist would not be going to such a prestigious position in the U.S. We would like to have him, but he chose to go elsewhere. I would not say that adding $5 million to the cardiac care program at the QE II is leading to demoralization or having people leave. In fact, we have the best cardiac program in the country, which the member for Dartmouth East knows.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

INSURANCE - RATES: REDUCTION - GOV'T. REQUIREMENT

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, yesterday the Utility and Review Board said there is no question that insurance companies are being harsh and discriminatory. Jenine Doyle is 18 years old. She is a university student living at home to save money. She needs her car to get back and forth to school and to work. Jenine works for minimum wage. This year her insurance jumped by $800. Now she can't afford her car and she's wondering what she's going to do. My question to the Minister of Environment and Labour, who is responsible for skyrocketing insurance rates, is simple. The Utility and Review Board said they can't lower auto insurance rates. What will it take for your government to lower the rates?

[3:00 p.m.]

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, we are developing a plan and we will have that plan to the Opposition and to all Nova Scotians sometime in the very near future.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, the bottom line is that insurance companies are getting away with unfair and discriminatory practices and this government has no plans to stop them. Jenine Doyle's insurance jumped by 44 per cent because she waited just one month to renew her policy. Jenine's mother, Bernadette, says her daughter is being gouged by her insurance company. She watched the minister duck the issue in the press and on television. She brought her family here today to get some answers. Mr. Minister, Jenine pays the highest tuition in the country, some of the highest insurance rates and earns the lowest wages. She's here looking for answers. Do you have any plans to help her?

[Page 2754]

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I'm sorry for all Canadians who are stuck with higher insurance rates. This government is working on a program that will help to alleviate the concerns that Nova Scotians have with the insurance premiums that they must pay.

MR. DEXTER: For years, Mr. Speaker, this government has sat on their hands and done nothing and tried to divert these important questions to the URB, to the consumer advocate and who knows who's next? Bernadette Doyle is worried about her daughter. She says her daughter is being discriminated against and being treated unfairly. The Utility and Review Board said the system isn't working and Bernadette Doyle says the same thing, yet instead of providing the real solution - low, fair rates - this government is clearly fast-tracking a cut in benefits that will help the shareholders' pockets rather than Nova Scotian drivers. My question for the minister is this, why is your government set on a cut in benefits when it clearly won't help Nova Scotians like Jenine Doyle?

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I don't know where the honourable member is getting his information from but we have not made any hard and fast decision as of this time as to what our plan will encompass.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

INSURANCE: KELLY CASE - ACTION

MR. GRAHAM STEELE: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the same minister. Last year when Colchester resident Linda Kelly renewed her insurance, her husband was unemployed so she chose a 12-month payment plan. The insurance was $360 so she was anticipating about $30 coming out of her account. Instead, the company tried to take $94 and the payment bounced. That company then cancelled the Kelly family's insurance even though it was their fault. My question to the Minister of Environment and Labour, who is responsible for the Kellys' skyrocketing insurance rates, is why is this fair and what are you going to do about it?

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I certainly didn't say it was fair. I would suggest that the lady in question contact the superintendent of insurance with that particular complaint.

MR. STEELE: Mr. Speaker, for two years the superintendent of insurance has been expressing her sympathy to callers and then tells them there is absolutely nothing she can do. To make matters worse, the Kellys' truck stopped working and it took 30 days for them to scrape together enough money to buy another vehicle. When they went to insure the vehicle, they were sent to the Facility Association due to the missed payment and the 30-day time lap. Their insurance rate tripled. My question to the minister is, when is the minister going to stop taking the side of mammoth, multinational insurance companies and start taking the side of hard-working Nova Scotians like the Kelly family?

[Page 2755]

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, we are certainly not taking the side of mammoth insurance companies, we are taking the side of all Nova Scotians. The Opposition could help us in that particular venture by simply moving the bill through the House as rapidly as possible.

MR. STEELE: Mr. Speaker, I know that's the minister's line of the day but the bill takes effect on May 1st, no matter what day it passes through this House. He knows he's just blowing smoke.

Mr. Speaker, the Kelly family lives in a rural area where a car is not a luxury, it's a necessity of life. They had to cancel their house insurance to keep the car on the road and they're going to be with Facility Association for at least another year because of a mistake their insurer made. My question to the minister is, why can't the minister listen to the Utility and Review Board, admit the present system is unsustainable and look at other ways of delivering auto insurance for hard-working Nova Scotia families?

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I think the honourable member has finally got it, we are looking for other ways of delivering insurance to the people of Nova Scotia.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

HEALTH PROM. - WELLNESS:

COMMUN. HEALTH BDS. - IMPORTANCE

DR. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health Promotion. This government has made a great fanfare about the important role that community health boards play in our health care system. In fact, this government is on record as stating: We have to continue to improve services for those who are sick, but we also need to put more emphasis on keeping people well and this is something communities do best. My question to the Minister of Health Promotion, does he still believe this to be the case?

HON. RODNEY MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, indeed, yes, I feel that the community health boards play an integral role in our province and in fact I had the opportunity to meet with members of the community health boards across the province just a couple of short weeks ago.

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, in the year 2001 this government provided community health boards access to a $1 million wellness fund, to fund wellness initiatives in their respective communities throughout the province. This year, to date, they have received nothing, nothing despite the fact that this minister has a line item in his budget for grants totalling $4.2 million. My question to the minister is, could the minister please explain why he has not provided a wellness fund for community health boards despite the fact that wellness is what communities do best?

[Page 2756]

MR. RODNEY MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, indeed, the member is right, that fund was in place. I can assure the member we will be working with our community health boards and with our DHAs on a number of opportunities which exist to promote health and healthy communities, but he is correct, that fund is no longer in place as it was.

DR. SMITH: Well, that's quite a shock really, Mr. Speaker, but there's $4.2 million there. The cynics among us might say that this government is just holding on to that $4.2 million so they can go out in fine Tory fashion and make all sorts of grandiose announcements just prior to, or even during, an election campaign. So my question to the minister is, will this minister commit today that he will reinstate, at least, the $1 million wellness fund for community health boards so that they can determine the priorities of their communities and not determined by government during an election campaign?

MR. RODNEY MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for the question. I can assure the member that we are working very closely with community health boards and with district health authorities to ensure that the dollars we spend are in the best interest of all communities and all individuals across our province.

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

INSURANCE - RESPONSIBILITY: SERIOUSNESS - MIN. ACCEPT

MR. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, you know, Nova Scotian drivers are learning fast that this government has no interest whatsoever in helping them. First the government allowed the insurance companies to hike rates throughout last year while the URB was still in hearings. Next the government announced a so-called freeze in rates, but didn't bother to tell brokers or drivers exactly what that freeze or delay meant. Citizens like Margaret Crouse have been searching for answers for weeks. She cares because the rate hike will force her to choose between medication and her car. Any hope of a freeze is all she has. Yet in response to her search, the minister just suggests go call your broker. So I want to ask the minister, why are you refusing to take the responsibility for this issue seriously?

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I am taking this situation seriously and that is why I am anxious for the Insurance Act amendment to pass through this House as rapidly as possible so we can indeed take action.

MR. CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, in case he wasn't listening when the member for Halifax Fairview told him, he knows it's retroactive to May 1st and he is just playing smoke and mirror games here. Tens of thousands of people are no better off today than they were yesterday with this government when it comes to insurance rates. The government keeps telling Nova Scotians to wait. Wait for the URB to make its decision, wait until George Jordan puts in his report, or wait - more dastardly - until after the next election. Meanwhile rates are skyrocketing as insurance companies continue to gouge Nova Scotians.

[Page 2757]

Citizens like Margaret Lee's insurance jumped by 138 per cent because her husband was caught driving without a seatbelt fastened. It took her four weeks to find that out, now she says she doesn't have the energy to find out if she qualifies for this so-called freeze. Looking for answers for her is a full-time job. I want to ask the minister, why is your government hiding, instead of working to make rates lower and fairer for the people of Nova Scotia?

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, if I had the option of asking the honourable member for Cape Breton Centre a question, I would ask him the question, why are they putting impediments in the way of the passage of legislation that will, indeed, have a favourable effect on the people of Nova Scotia?

MR. CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, he can't, but I will answer it. There are no impediments. The bill is retroactive, he knows that. As we said before, he's blowing smoke, and he's blowing my mind with those types of answers. This government can't tell Nova Scotians how they're going to lower rates or even how they're going to make them any fairer, yet this minister, in his benign type of answers, continues to attack public insurance systems even though he has never presented any proof whatsoever that public insurance doesn't provide the lowest and fairest rates, as we know they do. The government is fast-tracking to no-fault with the insurance companies, rubbing their hands and cheering them on. I want to ask the minister, what will it take for your government to put Nova Scotians first, insurance companies way down on the list, and make rates lower and fairer in this province?

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, when we pass the bill, we will indeed move forward. Can you understand that?

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.

INSURANCE: AGE DISCRIMINATION - END

MR. HOWARD EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, to the same minister. My office has been flooded with automobile insurance horror stories from consumers all over this province. Many tell of grossly unfair underwriting practices that systematically discriminate against Nova Scotians with good driving records. Yesterday's URB report states that there appears to be some evidence of restrictive underwriting practices being implemented by some insurance companies - no kidding. Will the minister state that his plan, which will apparently be revealed in the fullness of time, will end the underwriting practice of age discrimination? Will the minister tell us that?

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I don't know if the honourable member has read the bill that we're trying to get through the House, but if he has he will recognize the fact that we're asking for powers of regulation that will enable us to take actions perhaps similar to what he's suggesting.

[Page 2758]

MR. EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, yes was the answer Nova Scotians were looking for and maybe was the answer they heard. The URB found that restrictive underwriting practices were difficult to quantify and they said a more comprehensive review is required. They quoted the Insurance Bureau of Canada stating the changes in underwriting practices will not solve the problem, and in the industry's own words could in fact make the situation worse by increasing financial losses to insurers. Mr. Minister, since the industry has already served notice that tinkering with discriminatory underwriting practices will drive the already skyrocketing insurance rates even higher, what do you propose to do to ensure that Nova Scotians have a fair system of automobile insurance at affordable rates?

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I guess I will give him the same answer. What I can do to ensure that they receive fair treatment is to implore the Opposition to pass the Insurance Bill through this House so that we can make regulations that will make the system work.

MR. EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, in the discussion paper that was issued on auto insurance, it refuses to even entertain the possibility of driver-owned non-profit options. The minister's paper notes that underwriting rules are not regulated in Nova Scotia, and it misleads the public by suggesting that only Ontario has addressed that issue. Wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, that's four wrongs, because the four not-for-profit systems don't discriminate against seniors. Mr. Minister, I would like to know why you're attempting to manipulate public opinion into believing that if they want to see an end to discriminatory underwriting practices, they will have to cave in to the demands by the private insurance companies for restrictions on their benefits, why are you telling them that?

[3:15 p.m.]

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, we haven't told anybody, as yet, what kind of plan or what kind of result will emanate from our consult and from the report from the URB and anything else that comes in from the public at large. We have a plan. We're moving forward on that plan. You will see the results of that plan in approximately three or four weeks.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Victoria.

NAT. RES. - SHUBIE. PARK: CROW PICKUP - DETAILS

MR. KENNETH MACASKILL: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Natural Resources. A dead crow was found in Shubie Park, and when the couple encountered a dead crow during their walk, they went home. They called the Department of Natural Resources head office, where they were directed to the field office in Waverley. They were told there was nothing that could be done because the Department of Health had not informed them that they should be collecting dead crows. My question to the Minister of Natural Resources is, why did the Department of Natural Resources fail to act when this call from a citizen concerned about the West Nile virus was received?

[Page 2759]

HON. TIMOTHY OLIVE: Mr. Speaker, I haven't been given any timelines on this complaint, but I must tell you that we have now, for a number of weeks, been collecting the dead crows and blue jays and anything else that's unable to fly any more and breathe for air. We are, in fact, picking them up and have been picking them up. We are working very closely with the Department of Health in having these birds sent to P.E.I. to be evaluated. If the member could give me more information on the timelines of this, I would suspect that in fact that crow was picked up and has subsequently been sent to P.E.I. for evaluation.

MR. MACASKILL: All I can say to the minister is stay tuned. Mr. Speaker, my first supplementary will be to the Minister of Health. You know it's interesting that the Department of Natural Resources was encouraging people to call last Fall. Now did something happen in the last seven months, did the West Nile virus go away? However, it's interesting to note that the Department of Health was also called by these concerned citizens, and they were told by the Department of Health there was no plan in place at this time. My question for the Minister of Health is, could the minister please confirm to the House whether she has since informed all departmental staff, including her own, about the details of their technical briefing last week, which included a plan to pick up dead crows by Natural Resources staff?

HON. JANE PURVES: Mr. Speaker, as the member pointed out, we did have a technical briefing last week, it is on our Web site, all staff members have been informed of it, and we are well aware. We do have a program for picking up dead birds. I would like to hear some more detail about this particular incident.

MR. MACASKILL: Mr. Speaker, I will go back to the Minister of Natural Resources. We are dealing with an extremely dangerous health risk here. The crow was found in an extremely busy park. The crow, as of today, is still lying there. It wasn't before the last election, it was this government. We have no idea whether or not children or adults have touched this crow, something that your department has since warned people not to do. The Department of Natural Resources has failed to act and it is completely unacceptable. So my question to the Minister of Natural Resources is, in light of this call received by various government departments and the potential risk you have placed on the residents of Dartmouth by your department's failure to act, will you consider collecting the dead crows prior to the May 20th date you have suggested?

MR. OLIVE: Mr. Speaker, we've been collecting dead crows for over a month now on a regular basis. Prior to that, we have been available to pick them up. I, like the Minister of Health, would like to get some additional information. If in fact what he says is true, then I would like to get some more information on that. Obviously, if there's been an oversight somewhere, we'll check it out. I can assure you and the members of this House that this department takes the West Nile virus very, very seriously. We respond immediately anytime we find any dead corbies or we're called about dead corbies we pick them up and we do

[Page 2760]

make sure that there is no infection for the West Nile virus or any other disease that may affect Nova Scotians. Thank you.

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

ENVIRON. & LBR. - DORSEY REPT.:

IMPLEMENTATION - DELAY EXPLAIN

MR. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the minister responsible for the Workers' Compensation Board. Almost 13 months ago, your predecessor received the report of the Workers' Compensation Review Committee prepared by Mr. Jim Dorsey. This was an excellent report. Everyone agrees the Dorsey report provides an extremely well-reasoned set of recommendations for fixing WCB. So will the minister please share with us why after 13 months he is not listening and taking actions to implement recommendations of the Dorsey report?

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, we are moving towards implementation of the recommendations of the Dorsey report.

MR. CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, I see the backbenchers back there thumping their desks. That's cold comfort to injured workers in this province. The Dorsey report stated we have the second-highest premiums with the second-lowest benefits for injured workers. Dorsey also pointed the way ahead for workers in this province. We know how the former Liberal Government tinkered with the system and did nothing, nothing at all to help injured workers. They wanted to fix the system by limiting workers' benefits. Just like his approach to auto insurance, this minister wants workers' compensation by restricting benefits for those workers that the system is intended to help. I want to ask this minister, do you think the fix for workers' compensation has to come at the expense of benefits to injured workers, when we are already, according to Dorsey, the second-lowest benefits payer in the country?

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I would agree with the member for Cape Breton Centre when he stated that the previous government, the Liberal Government of the day, just tinkered with the system.

MR. CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, while I really don't appreciate the glib answer, I do agree with it. For the record, New Democrats fully endorse the recommendations of the Dorsey report. We believe it's a long time from thinking about very workable recommendations that made it a very credible report and one that deserves to go forward. Mr. Minister, you have had 13 months, the focus groups, looking at it through . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. These preambles going into the final supplementary are entirely too long. Would the honourable member please place his question.

[Page 2761]

MR. CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, I will go right to the question. Will the minister assure this House that he will do the right thing by ending his delaying game of smoke and mirrors and take action and implement the Dorsey report now?

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, today I believe is May 14th. On May 15th the Workers' Compensation Board will be sending out letters to all the stakeholders to meet at a round table to discuss implementation of the Dorsey report.

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

HEALTH - NURSING HOME BEDS: WAIT TIMES - REDUCTION

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, today my question is to the Minister of Health. Recently, a Cape Breton district health official publicly spoke out about this government's inaction on long-term care. I wish to table in this House the May 1st edition of

the Cape Breton Post where it says, "single entry program for nursing homes not working official".

Since last year, Mr. Speaker, the wait list for long-term care beds has lengthened significantly in Cape Breton to a point where there are now 60 Cape Bretoners waiting for long-term care. The single entry access, the government's one and only tool that they have used as their justification for inaction, is not working in Cape Breton. My question to the minister is, what action does the minister plan to take to reduce wait times for nursing home beds in Cape Breton?

HON. JANE PURVES: Mr. Speaker, I was aware of that newspaper article and I'm also very well aware of the issue in Cape Breton. Single entry access, we were the last province in Canada to adopt this system, it is working very well. It has helped to reduce waiting lists by about 25 per cent to 26 per cent across Nova Scotia, but there is an issue in Cape Breton and the issue in Cape Breton is that we need long-term care beds in Cape Breton and that's the issue.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, like the minister, we also know there's a problem. My problem is that I want to know what she's going to do about it. It's hard to believe that four years ago this government was begging and pleading on a daily basis to open long-term care beds. Yet four years later, despite an aging population, huge challenges in Cape Breton, a long-term care budget that amounts to over $400 million, this government has done absolutely nothing. My first supplementary, given that it has been almost three years now since this report was released and the wait list in Cape Breton is growing, will the minister admit that a definite need exists now, in Cape Breton, for a solution?

[Page 2762]

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, I'm glad the member for Cape Breton South has pointed out the amount of money that we have spent on long-term care since we came to office, the number of improvements that have been made, the number that will be made. Yes, there is an issue for building beds. It's very important that new beds for long-term care go in the right place and we know that some of those are going to have to go in Cape Breton and those beds will be the priority for this government.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, what is known to the people of Cape Breton and what is known to this minister is they are 60 beds short right now in Cape Breton for long-term care. What we're trying to impress upon the minister is that action is needed now, not down the road, it's needed now to relieve the burden of those 60 senior citizens who need nursing home beds in Cape Breton. My final supplementary to the minister is, will this minister admit this government has failed on both developing a comprehensive range of community-based services and constructing long-term care beds as evident by the long waiting lists in Cape Breton?

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, as I said previously, we have through single entry access and other efforts shortened the waiting lists for long-term care but, yes, there is an issue in Cape Breton. I have said that. We do need new nursing home beds in Cape Breton and Cape Breton will have them.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

COMMUN. SERV. - SPECIAL NEEDS DAYCARES:

DEPT. DISCRIMINATION - EXPLAIN

MR. JERRY PYE: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Community Services. Child care centres in Nova Scotia rely upon the provincial government for funding. Subsidies have been linked to student:teacher ratio. Centres that care for children with special needs cannot effectively or safely function using the ratios prescribed by Community Services. To date the department refuses to use different ratios to take this into account. I ask the Minister of Community Services, why does your government discriminate against developmental daycare programs for children with special needs?

HON. DAVID MORSE: Mr. Speaker, I thank the member opposite to allow me to elaborate a little bit of the background that led to the coming up of the formula for divvying up the funding to the child care centres to support the early childhood development initiative that was done in consultation with the child care centres. The Round Table on Child Care was an integral player in this and as part of this there was a recognition for children with special needs and that in fact has been incorporated into the program. So centres with special needs do get special funding to help defray the costs in caring for those children.

[Page 2763]

MR. PYE: Mr. Speaker, that minister is misspeaking to this Legislative Assembly. The ratio does not work. They have sent letters, along with my office that has sent letters to the minister of that department. The result of this discrimination is that the centres don't qualify for subsidies intended for staff salaries. Highly-trained staff who work with special needs children wind up earning less than their counterparts at daycares that do not accept these children. Centres are faced with losing staff they need to effectively care for and teach special needs children. I ask the minister, why have you refused to address the issue of stabilization of salaries for early childhood educators who work with children with special needs?

[3:30 p.m.]

MR. MORSE: Mr. Speaker, again, I confirm that this was a time-consuming process that brought in a lot of considerations, whether they were commercial or not-for-profit child care centres, the type of children cared for at the centres, whether they were full-time centres or part-day centres. There were a whole bunch of considerations. The round table worked extensively on this and came forward, eventually, with a recommendation that was accepted by government. Of course, we continue to always review how things are working because, in fact, it has only been a short period of time since this has been in place and the review is ongoing.

MR. PYE: Mr. Speaker, I think the minister ought to check with his department to make sure there is a complete review after today. What's even worse is that the continued usage of these ratios may be deterring other child care centres from accepting children with special needs. The waiting lists for families with a special needs child to access daycare is long and it's getting longer. This inflexibility by Community Services is only serving to make the situation worse. I ask the Minister of Community Services, in light of the ongoing issue with RRSS, why does his government continue to ignore the concerns of individuals with special needs?

MR. MORSE: Mr. Speaker, that gives me a chance to again point out what value this government places on all Nova Scotians with special needs and, in fact, that was an important part of this early childhood development program, and that is why it is specially recognized in the program and special funding does go to those centres that care for children with special needs.

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

HEALTH - SOUTH WEST NOVA DHA: PARKING PASSES - DETAILS

MR. WAYNE GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health. Le Transport de Clare provides accessible, affordable transportation to all citizens in Clare, especially for those with disabilities, for seniors and for those on very limited incomes. The

[Page 2764]

motto for Le Transport de Clare is, driven by volunteers, run by donations. Recently, Le Transport de Clare has received word that the South West Nova District Health Authority will not provide them with a $20-a-month parking pass so that this organization can drop clients off at the Yarmouth Regional Hospital for a variety of tests and pick them up. My first question to the minister is, does this minister find it acceptable that the South West Nova District Health Authority will not offer a $20-a-month parking pass to this volunteer organization?

HON. JANE PURVES: Mr. Speaker, I am sure the health authority had a reason for its decision, but I will certainly check into it.

MR. GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, this organization makes approximately 32 trips a month to the Yarmouth Hospital. That's approximately 384 trips a year at a cost of about $768. It's a pretty sad day when an organization like Le Transport de Clare receives a donation of $500 and then tells the donor that they can't use it to buy new tires for the vehicle because they must pay for parking at the hospital. What's even more frustrating for Le Transport de Clare is that the Valley District Health Authority has no problem providing parking passes to similar non-profit organizations. My question to the minister is, will this minister develop a province-wide policy for all DHAs to follow that would see organizations like Le Transport de Clare receive a parking pass in recognition of the valuable services they provide?

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, I know about that service, and I know it is valuable. As I said, I will check into the reason why the health authority will not provide the parking pass.

MR. GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, the minister is much aware of Le Transport de Clare because I raised it during her health estimates. Here's the reality, Le Transport de Clare, an organization driven by volunteers and run by donations, will now have to spend more time soliciting donations to make ends meet. My final question to the minister is, will this minister contact the South West Nova District Health Authority today and advise them that she does not view their rejection of a monthly parking pass to Le Transport de Clare as acceptable? Will she do that?

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, as I have said twice previously, I will certainly get in touch with the DHA and inquire as to their reasons and see if they seem logical or valid.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants East.

GAMING - BINGOS: GOV'T. (N.S.) - TAKE/FEES REDUCE

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, I'll be looking for the minister responsible for the Gaming Control Act. Or, acting. My question is for whoever's acting for the minister responsible for the Gaming Control Act. Lions Clubs pour a lot of money into their

[Page 2765]

communities, often paying for necessities for people who slip through the cracks at Community Services. The Lions rely on bingos to raise funds to do this good work, but lately bingos are struggling through competition from government-run video gambling and casinos and fee increases. Why won't the minister responsible for the Gaming Control Act assist groups such as the Lions by reducing his take on their receipts and lowering licensing fees?

HON. NEIL LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, with regard to that, if it's regarding licence fees, that would be a question for the Alcohol and Gaming Authority rather than the Nova Scotia Gaminig Corporation. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Perhaps it would be fair, I think what we can do is ask the honourable member for Hants East to replace his original question. I think that would be permitted.

MR. MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, to the minister responsible, whoever that minister may be, why won't the minister responsible for this action assist groups such as the Lions by reducing his take on their receipts and lowering licensing fees?

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I will have to take that question under advisement.

MR. MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, I think in that amount of time, he had lots of time for advisement. The Lions Club in Milford used to net $20,000 a year from bingo. Every cent of that money went back into the community. Now they're lucky to make $2,000. Last year they netted 8 per cent profit, but the Gaming Corporation requires they show 15 per cent profit or face closure. So far the Gaming Corporation allowed them to continue their operation but with some Lions Clubs shutting down their bingos, the Milford Lions are worried. So will the minister remove this requirement that non-profit bingos show a 15 per cent profit or face closure?

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, it's my belief and to the best of my knowledge, they are not enforcing that particular requirement.

MR. MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, well, they're enforcing it enough for some Lions Clubs to close down. They gave this one a break and the minister, I'll jog his memory because in 1996 the member for Hants West touted a Tory Opposition bill that called for the removal of this 15 per cent net profit requirement for bingos. He said at that time that it is virtually impossible for charitable bingos to attract sufficient crowds and have large enough jackpots to make the 15 per cent. Perhaps the minister remembers when he did that. So will the minister live up to those words today and remove the requirement for non-profit bingos to stay in operation?

[Page 2766]

MR. RUSSELL: In response to the first question, Mr. Speaker, I believe that that requirement is not being enforced. I will however take it under advisement and I will get back to the member hopefully tomorrow.

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

ENERGY: SEISMIC TESTS (C.B.) - EFFECTS

MR. BRIAN BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is to the Minister of Energy. The Calgary exploration company, Vintage Petroleum Canada Inc. is planning on doing a series of seismic tests in three areas of Cape Breton this summer; two of these sites are within my constituency. The company spokesman, Randy Bergman, makes the claim that once we are gone, nobody will know we were ever there. He makes this claim and goes on to say that the cutting lines design will take one or two years to overgrow. I find this to be a contradictory statement. I believe the residents of these communities will definitely know that they were there, especially if their domestic water supply is interrupted or affected in any way. My question to the minister is, can the minister assure local residents that these tests will not harm the underground aquifer formation in areas of Georges River or in Boularderie, as well as River Denys, which would result in serious inconvenience for these residents if their domestic water supplies were affected in any way?

HON. ERNEST FAGE: Mr. Speaker, certainly Vintage is very much aware of the fact that there are citizens concerned about their water supply and if there would be any effect. To speak to that and hear those concerns and answer those questions, I believe Vintage will be holding open houses in those communities, starting tomorrow night, to hear the citizens' concerns.

MR. BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, actually they begin tonight and tomorrow night, and it's convenient that all members are in this House during these meetings. My second question will be to the Minister of Environment and Labour. All local residents in this rural area obtain their domestic water supply from wells which are supplied by a unique underground aquifer formation, and it is a fact that vibrations produced by blasting can affect the flow of groundwater in aquifers, so this could be a threat to the local residents' water supplies. My question to the minister is, does the minister agree that no blasting by dynamite, or other explosive devices, will take place during this exploration testing?

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: No, Mr. Speaker, I can't make that commitment. However, again, I keep saying I will take it under advisement because I will have to do that and if he could send me further details on exactly what is going on with regard to the exploration there, I could probably answer the question.

[Page 2767]

MR. BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, my question is again to the Minister of Environment and Labour. As the Minister of Environment and Labour, the minister is ultimately responsible for the protection of domestic groundwater supplies throughout Nova Scotia, including these areas. Also as Minister of Environment and Labour, this minister is responsible for issuing permits such as are required when blasting. So my question is, will the minister consider putting a compensation clause in any permit processing process?

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I will give consideration to that, but again I will have to explore exactly what is already in those permits.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

HEALTH PROM. - SMOKING RATE:

STATISTICS INCONSISTENCIES - EXPLAIN

DR. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health Promotion. In January of this year, the minister cited statistics from Health Canada's Canadian Tobacco Use Monitoring Survey showing a decrease in the smoking rates of Nova Scotia. According to Health Canada's latest statistics, the smoking rate in Nova Scotia is 24.9 per cent, but yet in the 2003-04 Health Promotion Business Plan, the smoking rate is listed at 28.2 per cent. It would be a shame to think that once this minister took the responsibility of health promotion, he helped increase the smoking rate, so can the minister explain the smoking rate inconsistencies that his office and he is reporting?

[3:45 p.m.]

HON. RODNEY MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, indeed, I will look at those numbers and get clarification on that. Perhaps we're doing even better than I thought we were doing.

DR. SMITH: You may even be doing better than you say you're doing. (Laughter) We like to compliment the government when we can. For there to be measurable successes, there must be consistency in using the same method. What's troubling is his office will continue to use the Canadian Tobacco Use Monitoring Survey to determine rates, but in the business plan another method will be used. Two methods, two different results, one office. My question is, can the minister explain how, by using these two different rates in the same office, he can meaningfully measure the impact of the province's smoking cessation programs?

MR. RODNEY MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, perhaps, I will have to get clarification for sure. He is referring to the Canadian monitoring program, he may also be referring to the Student Drug Use Survey as well, which would use different numbers. I will get clarification on that for the member. I would like to say that it is this government that put forward the tobacco strategy, which we also put an additional $0.25 million into this year.

[Page 2768]

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, he's almost getting up to where the Premier promised two years ago, up in Cornwallis. So you're making progress, Mr. Minister. Every day it's the same thing, we're committed to the message rather than to the strategy. The Health Promotion 2003-04 Business Plan mentions youth smoking statistics with a disclaimer that more needs to be done but no serious discussion as to how this may be achieved. It's simple, to reduce the youth smoking rates there must be a full commitment from the provincial government to do more through education, through curriculum and policies. My question to the minister is, simply, will the minister commit here today to working to make the school-based program that's called, Smoke-free For Life a mandatory program within the schools? Will he work toward achieving that as a mandatory program?

MR. RODNEY MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I agree with the member that Smoke-free For Life is a very important program. In fact, I've used that myself in schools. I can assure that member that he is speaking to the very principles which make up our tobacco strategy, that of education, that of community-based support, that of the tax increase. That is why we saw a 13 per cent decrease in the number of youths in Nova Scotia using tobacco. That is why we saw where 60,000 Nova Scotians quit using tobacco, that habit. That is why we put $1.75 million into the strategy for this year.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

HEALTH - NURSING HOMES:

RATE INCREASES - SUBSIDY EFFECT

MR. GRAHAM STEELE: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health. Last month the Minister of Health announced a nursing home per diem subsidy of $12.75. I would like to table a letter from Melville Lodge, notifying residents and their families that their rates would be going up by $4.94 the same day that subsidy took effect. This was only three months after a previous increase in the per diem. Since last year, rates at Melville Lodge have increased by $12.22, eating up almost all of the $12.75 subsidy. My question to the minister is, what is the minister doing to stop nursing homes from eating up the subsidy, simply by setting higher per diems themselves?

HON. JANE PURVES: Mr. Speaker, as the member opposite knows, the per diems nursing homes charge vary, capital costs being one of the biggest factors in that. What we are doing with our plan is, over four years, paying more each year so that in the end, all the medical costs will be paid for residents of nursing homes. At the same time, we are also working to remove the assessment process. In the end, even though nursing home per diems may increase for various reasons over time, the effect will be less, it will be blended across the province. We do have a plan. We have announced it. It is not a plan that will never see inflation increases, but it will be a much fairer plan for all seniors in nursing homes.

[Page 2769]

MR. STEELE: Mr. Speaker, whenever I hear that minister sidestep a question, I know I'm onto something. Ernest Taylor of Bridgetown has spent over $300,000 in the last nine years to care for his wife at Mountain Lea Lodge. Since last year, rates there have increased by $15.45. It surpasses the new per diem subsidy. In fact, per diem rates have increased at almost every single nursing home in Nova Scotia last year. So I would like to ask the Minister of Health again, what is stopping the nursing homes from pocketing the new $12.75 subsidy, when that subsidy was intended to provide just a little relief for long-term care residents and their families?

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, I'm sure the member opposite knows that those nursing homes that are for-profit nursing homes operate on a very slim margin. What we are doing is we look at their business plans very carefully to see that what the member opposite is talking about is not happening.

MR. STEELE: Mr. Speaker, this reminds me of the minister for insurance. Whose side is that minister on? Is she on the side of the nursing homes, private-for-profit, or is she on the side of the residents and their families? That minister's answer I find almost incredible. What I would like to do is ask the minister this simple question. Does the minister find it acceptable that nursing homes are raising their rates to swallow up entirely the new per diem subsidy?

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite likes to use his own weapons of mass distraction over there. The nursing home rates are going to go up over time, whether they are for-profit or not-for-profit. That is one of the reasons that we are moving to reduce first the medical care costs and then to even out the room and board costs so that the nursing homes are affordable for all seniors and so that all seniors benefit, including the ones the government is already paying all costs for and the 20 per cent that we are not. That's why we have adopted the plan that we've adopted.

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

ENVIRON. & LBR. - DORSEY REPT.:

LIBERAL QUESTIONS - TIME FRAME

MR. PAUL MACEWAN: Mr. Speaker, today is May 14, 2003, a day of discovery because today is the day the NDP discovered the failure of this government to act on the recommendations of the Dorsey report which was brought in 13 months ago, but Hansard will show that we, in the Liberal Party, raised this matter every single week.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Could the member tell the House who his question is directed to.

[Page 2770]

MR. MACEWAN: To the honourable Minister of Environment and Labour, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you. Please place your question.

MR. MACEWAN: The Minister of Environment and Labour, Mr. Speaker, will recall that we in the Liberal Party raised this topic every single week that the House sat. I would like to ask the minister, as an opening question, is not what I have just said, so?

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: What the honourable member, Mr. Speaker, has just said so, is so. (Laughter)

MR. MACEWAN: As a first supplementary, let me ask the Minister of Environment and Labour, he has the floor, maybe he would like to explain why it is that the government has taken so long to take any action on the content of that report that they got 13 months ago? Why did it take so long?

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I will have the opportunity to expound on that perhaps later but I think the honourable member has been in this House long enough to know that matters connected with the Workers' Compensation Board are very slow movers.

MR. MACEWAN: Mr. Speaker, that reflects the intention of government much more so than any inherent attribute of workers' compensation because it can be addressed very quickly as it was by this House last Fall when we passed an amendment on an all-Party expedited basis to provide supplementary benefits on a new and expanded basis to those involved. So it can be done. My final supplementary question is, why was that approach not

taken on the overall contents of the Dorsey report rather than just one of its 54 recommendations?

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, one of the reasons is because that was a rather simple matter to move forward through the House. It had the approbation of all members of the House and the bill wasn't held up. However, when you get into changing items in the Workers' Compensation Act that affect both workers and employers, then I suggest that you get into rather treacherous waters. I've had some experience with workers' compensation bills in my time in the House as had the honourable member. I've had time, Mr. Speaker, as you have, travelling around the country meeting people and speaking as a member of a select committee of the House on workers' compensation. The variety of opinions that come forward during those ventures into the nether regions of Nova Scotia are very varied and very, very difficult to translate into policy. I can tell the honourable member though to make it short, that we are moving on the Dorsey report and we do hope to have in this House - and I hope to bring it forward myself in the House this Fall . . .

[Page 2771]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The time for response to that question has expired.

The honourable member for Cape Breton The Lakes.

AGRIC. & FISH. - BRAS D'OR OYSTER IND.:

COMPENSATION PLAN - MIN. REQUEST

MR. BRIAN BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries. In late Summer and Fall 2002, oyster stocks in the Bras d'Or Lakes have been attacked by a parasite called MSX. Since September, oyster mortalities have been reported in the 80 to 90 per cent range from the affected areas. Local fishers and growers have large investments in this industry. My question to the minister is, has the minister requested a compensation plan from the federal government to eliminate the financial hardship being experienced by this industry on the Bras d'Or Lakes?

HON. GORDON BALSER: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite brings forward a very significant issue in terms of MSX and its impact on the oyster fisheries. We've been working closely with our counterparts in the federal government to try to resolve the issue. The fact is that we may well have to deal with MSX into the future. In terms of a compensation package, that is not being discussed at this point.

MR. BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, I will direct my next question to the Minister of Economic Development. If I could ask the minister on the replacement of the forum in North Sydney. I know the minister's actively pursuing this file and I would appreciate an update as to the replacement of the aging North Sydney Community Forum.

HON. CECIL CLARKE: Mr. Speaker, as the honourable member knows, there was an application brought forward from the Millennium Sportsplex committee for funding. That is under the infrastructure program and I would refer that to the minister responsible for the $1.5 million the province committed towards that initiative.

HON. PETER CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, we did, as the honourable minister indicated, receive an application from them. That application came in approximately last Fall, I would say. They've had some time to work on that application, but that application has been in front of the committee and it's approving with a favourable response to it.

MR. BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, I thank the honourable ministers for the reply. My next question is to the Minister of Transportation and Public Works. Now that springtime has arrived, of course, paving season is upon us. I would like to ask the minister when the good people of Villa Drive and Church Road in Bras d'Or as well as the people in other rural communities throughout Nova Scotia can expect to see tenders advertised for street improvements in their communities?

[Page 2772]

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, I wasn't able to catch the specific reference to the road in question, but I can tell the honourable member that our paving priority is still under discussion. We are gradually, over the next month or so, we'll be finalizing our plans for capital paving projects in all parts of Nova Scotia, including of course, Cape Breton The Lakes.

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

EDUC. - SUBSIDENCE: DOMINION REPT. - COSTS

MR. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Education. I have talked to him many times, regarding subsidence in relation to our schools. This problem is a reality and subsidence has many serious implications to our public school system in the coalfields of Cape Breton. It was just two weeks ago that we had the parents from the Dominion area here talking to the minister, and since they have been here, there have been two more schools that have been found at risk of subsidence through that study that was performed by an engineering group on behalf of the local school board. I want to ask the minister if he knows the cost of that report, and did the province put any money in to support that study and pay for it?

[4:00 p.m.]

HON. ANGUS MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, the ADI Consultants that were employed by the board with respect to the Macdonald Complex, all of their costs were met by the Department of Education. The exact amount is an amount that I would have to get and give to the honourable member.

MR. CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, while the study shows that there appears to be no imminent danger at this time, the concerns about the risk to people and their investments in those schools' infrastructure are on the minds of everybody in industrial Cape Breton. We know that the federal government has allowed the mines to flood, which makes an engineering study of that subsidence even more difficult. Now that the mines are flooded, the assessments are almost impossible. I want to ask you, what is your plan, Mr. Minister, to protect our schools' infrastructure to ensure the safety of students, teachers and other staff in the areas at risk of subsidence?

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, I can tell the honourable member that we're working very closely with the school board, in terms of identifying any areas of concern that may exist. We have also, through the resources of the Department of Natural Resources, obtained significant information that is being made available not only to my department but to the school board to assist in an assessment of those sites that may be of concern.

[Page 2773]

MR. CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, for my final supplementary, I think I'm going to go to the Minister of Natural Resources. Many people in the coalfields want answers, and they want them now. I know members of the Third Party want to avoid any implication by saying that their Liberal buddies in Ottawa have nothing to do with this, it's purely a provincial matter when it comes to subsidence. This threat of subsidence is very serious when we think of our schools, but it's also of great concern to many homeowners. The potential costs are in the millions of dollars. My question to the minister is, can he tell us if his department has any information on the plans for mitigating the subsidence risks in Cape Breton and some estimate of the cost of such a program?

HON. TIMOTHY OLIVE: Mr. Speaker, subsidence will continue to be a problem in the 17 communities throughout Nova Scotia. It is one that we take very seriously. I would remind you and all members of the House that prior to 1967, the records clearly show that the private coalmining companies provided compensation and financial assistance to homeowners. In 1967, when Devco took them over, including the Dominion coal leases, they had a different attitude towards whether or not they had responsibility for subsidence. Under the Mineral Resources Act in Nova Scotia, it is very clear that they are, in fact, responsible for that issue. We have entered into negotiations on a number of issues to do with the return of the leases in Cape Breton, and we're continuing to do that.

Mr. Speaker, I would mention that, regarding subsidence, the issue was heavily discussed in 1995-96 by the government of the day. There was a proposal put together regarding subsidence and a resolution of the problem by that government of the day. However, that government of the day chose not to move forward and, as a result, the issue remains one that is being negotiated between the provincial government and the federal government.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Richmond.

AGRIC. & FISH. - CRAB BUYERS/FISHERS:

ECON. PROTECTION - ACTION

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, the snow crab fishery in this province is about to come into full swing and Nova Scotians are asking themselves what the rules of engagement will be this year. On February 21, 2003, the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries issued a press release in which the minister stated in regard to the trade in unprocessed snow crab from Nova Scotia, "Nova Scotia supports free trade of fish and fish products but restrictions in provinces such as Newfoundland and Quebec make it very difficult for our processors to compete. I have once again asked my provincial colleagues to eliminate these trade barriers . . ."

[Page 2774]

Mr. Speaker, my question to the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries is, besides asking the other provinces to play fair, could the minister tell the House what concrete action he has taken to ensure that Nova Scotia crab fishermen and crab buyers are not at a disadvantage to either the Provinces of Quebec or Newfoundland?

HON. GORDON BALSER: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite brings an important issue to the floor of the House. We have taken action, as was said in his preamble, we are very much in favour of free trade. We entered into discussions with New Brunswick and have resolved the issue in terms of trading agreements with New Brunswick; because Quebec and Newfoundland continue to be of the view that they do not want to allow our producers and processors to have access to the crab, we have sent forward conditions on licence renewals. So we have made it clear to those jurisdictions that we are prepared to take action.

MR. SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, Nova Scotia has always been a free trade advocate and we would hope that the Canadian provinces around us would do the same. The minister has just said that he's prepared to take action, the question is, will he take action, is what we want to know. It's essential that we allow our crab fishermen to get the best price possible while at the same time allowing processing jobs in our province. Communities such as Isle Madame, Canso, Mulgrave, Cheticamp, Neils Harbour, Louisbourg and Glace Bay, to name a few, rely very heavily on the processing of snow crab to provide much-needed employment in their communities and the problem is that this government has failed to take concrete action in the last four years to address the unfair trade practices.

So my question is, will the minister assure this House today, and those communities affected, that unprocessed snow crab from Nova Scotia will not go to Quebec or Newfoundland this summer as long as these unfair trade practices continue?

MR. BALSER: Mr. Speaker, I would suggest the member opposite talk to the processors in his area because they've been very supportive of the position that this government has taken. Not only have we sent forward indications that we will act on conditions for licence renewal, we've also looked at the interprovincial trade agreement to try to resolve the issue at that level as well.

MR. SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, let me make it clear, we are pleased that the government is indicating that it is willing to take action. Our fear is whether the government will actually take action at the end of the day. The minister has indicated that he has attached some conditions to the renewal of buyers' licences, yet he fails to indicate whether those conditions will strictly be enforced in the upcoming season. So I ask the minister once again, very simply, will you assure Nova Scotians that unprocessed snow crab will not go to the Provinces of Newfoundland or Quebec as long as they continue to have trade barriers which go against the interests of Nova Scotians?

[Page 2775]

MR. BALSER: Mr. Speaker, if that member had actually read the correspondence that was generated, it is clearly indicated that we were willing and prepared to take action. I would also suggest that perhaps he talk to the processors because they have indicated to me in conversations that this is the strongest action ever taken by any government related to this particular issue on their behalf. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants East.

AGRIC. & FISH. - APF: MIN. SIGNATORY - CONFIRM

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, my question will be for the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries as well. The federal-provincial Agricultural Policy Framework, or APF, has generated much controversy. Other provinces have refused to sign and many more have grave concerns about the APF's redesign for safety net programs. Agreements for these old programs, such as NISA, expired in March, but farmers say the new proposal offers a narrow definition of disaster relief and too many farmers will not qualify. My question to the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries is simple, do you intend to sign the APF?

HON. GORDON BALSER: Mr. Speaker, this government has been working very closely with our counterparts and with the federal minister to try to revive and redesign this program. Obviously it needs to be signed by all, and we will sign it at the appropriate time, once the outstanding issues have been resolved.

MR. MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, I will say the short form of that is yes. The Nova Scotia Federation of Agriculture has asked that this government not sign the APF. The federation says, compared to the old NISA program, this new program is a real disaster. NISA wasn't without its faults, but it appears that it's head and shoulders above the new package proposed by the federal government. I ask the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, how much consultation have you done with Nova Scotia farmers about this new package?

MR. BALSER: Mr. Speaker, the irony here is that the farming sector did not like the old program and, now that we're coming forward with a new program, they don't like that one either. The point is that we've reviewed this as a major undertaking of the government, federally and provincially. We're in the process now of doing some modelling specific to this province's farming community so that we have the reassurance that the new program will deal with the outstanding issues.

MR. MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, they didn't like a bad program, so why would they like a worse program? Many sectors of our agricultural industry are in a crisis situation following years of drought, low market prices and other challenges. Program after program has failed to offer real assistance to keep family farms going, and now an even weaker package has been put on the table. I ask the minister, what is preventing your department

[Page 2776]

from coming up with a proposal of its own instead of relying on what the federal government hands you?

MR. BALSER: Mr. Speaker, the point of trying to design a program that's tailored to work in conjunction with the federal government is that it will allow us to access their funding as well. This is going to be a very comprehensive program, it's going to expand crop insurance coverage, and it's going to improve the old NISA program with the new NISA program. The issue, in part, is that the old NISA program was very much seen as a retirement program, in fact the income stabilization program is designed to do that, to provide income stabilization through times of uncertainty as the member opposite has brought forward.

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

PREM.: OFFICE STAFF - DETAILS

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Premier. Two weeks ago, in the House during Question Period, I asked the Premier for the number of people working in his office with salaries and expenses charged to other departments. I asked the Premier if he would consider tabling a list of those people and their salaries in the House. Also, during that same Question Period, I asked the Premier to table a list of his staff and where they are located, whether they are working in his office or whether they are working in other offices such as the Treasury Department. I still have not gotten an answer from the Premier as to whether or not the number of people who are working in his office are actually working there, or rather they're working in other departments and charged to other departments but working in the Premier's Office. Would the Premier agree to table a list, by Question Period tomorrow, as to the number of people working in his office, the salaries of those individuals, and what their jobs are?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, that's a fair request, and I will comply.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the Premier for that answer. Did he say he was going to comply with that by tomorrow?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Yes. Yes. I think so.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. That will be the first supplementary.

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I believe what the member asked is he wanted a list of the people who work in my office and the salary list, and I will comply with that request.

AN HON. MEMBER: By tomorrow.

THE PREMIER: Yes, by tomorrow.

[Page 2777]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I would remind the honourable member for Cape Breton South, he did ask the question whether the Premier had said that he would comply by tomorrow or not. The Speaker didn't hear the Premier say whether he would comply by tomorrow or not, so I thought it only fair to ask the Premier the question again.

The honourable member for Cape Breton South on his final supplementary.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, my final supplementary is that I asked the Premier two weeks ago in the House whether or not there were people working in his office that were charged to other departments of government, because the Premier has said time and time again, that his office had less employees than the previous Premier of this province. What I would like to have from this Premier is the list of people who are actually paid for by his office, working in his office, not assigned to other departments of government, and actually doing work for the Premier. That's the list that I would like to get and I am asking the Premier for that.

[4:15 p.m.]

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I can assure the good member for Cape Breton South that's the list he will receive.

The honourable member for Dartmouth North. He has about seven seconds.

MR. JERRY PYE: Mr. Speaker, my question will be to the Minister of Community Services.

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

The honourable Minister of Natural Resources on a point of order.

HON. TIMOTHY OLIVE: On a point of clarification, Mr. Speaker, just in responding to a question from the honourable member for Victoria. There was some question as to the process for contacting the department and the time frames involved. On advice from the Department of Health, the actual time frame for contacting the 1-800 number in fact does start on May 20th. Between May 20th and October 31st members of the public can call the 1-800 number after-hours. I would, however, want to clarify one other point, and it is important, that we have an ongoing program of retrieving deceased wildlife year-round. If members of the public believe that there is wildlife, including crows, that they would like to have removed, we certainly will pick them up, and because of the time frame, and it is close to May 20th, any of those corbies or crows and other birds will, in fact, be retained for review.

[Page 2778]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. That doesn't meet the conditions of a point of order, and there are no points of clarification.

However it is Opposition Day, NDP Opposition Day, we move to the . . .

MR. JOHN HOLM: We are going to get into due process whereby after Question Period, ministers were able to get up after their time had run out during Question Period to expand upon their answer, to try to put a different political spin on it, and I was wondering would . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. (Interruption) Yes. Order, please.

OPPOSITION MEMBERS' BUSINESS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Opposition House Leader.

MR. JOHN HOLM: 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 Opposition House Leader.

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 30.

Bill No. 30 - Forests Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants East.

Would the honourable member for Hants East permit a quick introduction?

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Sure.

The honourable member for Queens.

MR. KERRY MORASH: Mr. Speaker, I would like to take this opportunity to assist the constituency of Lunenburg West, which, unfortunately, is without an MLA, to introduce an individual who is in the gallery opposite. Ken Edwards is President of the Denturists Society of Nova Scotia and I would ask him to stand and receive a warm welcome from the House. (Applause)

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: On a point of personal privilege, Mr. Speaker.

[Page 2779]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Cape Breton West understands that if he has an opportunity on personal points of privilege, he is supposed to notify the Speaker in advance, but we will permit this point at this particular time.

MR. MACKINNON: Well, Mr. Speaker, not all are contemplated in prepared text, as you can well appreciate. But with regard to a presentation that was made by the Deputy Minister of Finance three weeks ago before the Public Accounts Committee. He gave an undertaking to members of the committee and to the House that he would supply a list of all the user fees and the new user fees that were being charged by the Department of Finance. We understood that we would have that within a couple of days and to date we haven't received that . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Order, please. That does not meet the conditions of a point of personal privilege and the member said himself that the undertaking was granted or given three weeks ago.

MR. MACKINNON: With all due respect, I could at least finish my - I'm receiving some acknowledgment at least from the Minister of Finance that he would at least give an undertaking to investigate and report back, perhaps by tomorrow, as to why we are not receiving that information that we were given an undertaking. In my view, and based on the decisions of previous Speakers, any time a member is inhibited from accessing information that is vital to enabling a member to perform his duty, that is an infringement on one's rights.

MR. SPEAKER: The Speaker will take that point under advisement and report back to the House.

The honourable member for Hants East.

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, I'm assuming that we are back to Bill No. 30. I wonder if you can tell me how much time I have, whether that was taken off my time or . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Well I did recognize the honourable member, and then there were a couple of interventions. Being NDP Opposition Day, we do have at the tail end, so to speak, three or four minutes. Would the Opposition wish that we add it on to the debates?

MR. MACDONELL: Well if that means that I am going to get my original time, then I say yes.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Then the honourable member could have three minutes added on so instead of going to 4:29 p.m., we would perhaps go to 4:32 p.m.

[Page 2780]

The honourable member for Hants East.

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, I'm really glad to speak to this bill today although there hasn't been any indication that the government has listened before when this bill has been called. But, I would like members, certainly members opposite and I'd be interested to hear what the members from the Liberal caucus say to this bill, but this is a situation that I'd like members to think about in a very clear way. The forest sector in this province contributes significantly in rural Nova Scotia and we have every reason to believe that that's not going to happen.

The thrust of this piece of legislation is to ban clear-cutting as the major harvesting practice in the forests of Nova Scotia. It's not to eliminate it completely - what we would like to see and what this bill is designed to do is to enhance, or I should say, bring about sustainability of the forest. I don't believe that's what we have right now. That should be done in two ways - this bill addresses one of those and that is to eliminate clear-cutting as the major harvesting practice.

We are allowing it by permit as a treatment for those stands where it can be determined that clear-cutting would be the appropriate treatment for that particular stand. Thereby, the mills or contractors could apply to have clear-cutting done on a particular stand as a treatment. Otherwise, clear-cutting would be banned in this province. We harvest approximately 100,000 acres per year in Nova Scotia. Actually, 110,000 acres per year are clear-cut in this province. The minister would be aware of the species at risk in this province. Actually, that number of species at risk has doubled under this administration. If the minister doesn't see some connection between clear-cutting and the number of species at risk then I would say that he very sadly is not the minister who should be in place in terms of the Department of Natural Resources.

This issue is widespread. The impact on communities, the impact on wildlife habitat are significant. Actually the impact on the sustainability of the forest industry is significant. For whatever reason, members opposite or the minister seems to believe that stewardship agreements or planting of trees - when you talk about silviculture, they only seem to think about planting trees - that this somehow is going to save the forest. I want to tell the minister that if he were to wake up tomorrow with the whole province cut, that it wouldn't matter how many trees he planted, he's going to be looking at 70-plus years before he'll be thinking of cutting any trees at all.

There have been a number of studies done on the forests in the Atlantic areas and some specifically to Nova Scotia. Back in the 1980s the Royal Commission on Forestry looked at this problem. They came out with some recommendations and those recommendations were around the implementation of greater funding for silviculture programs in Nova Scotia. The number I'm thinking is $20 million a year. I have heard it as high as $50 million, but I think that number seems too high. Anyway, the result of that is that

[Page 2781]

we would be to the point of harvesting slightly more than 3 million cords per year in this province by the year 2040. If we had taken the recommendations of that 1984 Royal Commission.

Mr. Speaker, we are presently harvesting, just about that exact level of harvest - over 3 million cords - in Nova Scotia in 2003, and we're roughly 40 years ahead on their predictions for harvest levels and we haven't put that money into silviculture, that never happened. If the minister or the department thinks this is sustainable, I would like to know on what basis they've come to that conclusion. The Canadian Forest Service has done studies in Atlantic Canada and says that we're overharvesting, but that doesn't seem to be enough for the government. GPI Atlantic has done a study and they say the exact same thing, that we are overharvesting and that clear-cutting is having significant damage in terms of watersheds, wildlife habitats, siltation of streams, et cetera.

I want to give some numbers, actually, to the members of the House. In 1984, the forest industry contributed $90.80 per 1,000 cubic metres of timber harvested, and by 1999, it was $68 per 1,000 cubic metres. There was a 25 per cent decrease. In terms of its contribution to GDP, since 1984 we have had a 25 per cent decrease in the contribution of the forest sector to the GDP. Although our harvest has gone up, the employment in this sector has gone down. Employment per unit of timber harvested has declined by 26 per cent since the 1980s, from an average of 1.9 jobs per 1,000 cubic metres in the 1980s to an average of 1.4 jobs per 1,000 cubic metres in the 1990s.

We're cutting more, we're producing less jobs and, as the technology improves, we will cut even more and more. In Nova Scotia, if you can sell it, you can cut it. We have no annual allowable cut applied in this province, so there's no limit to what we can produce. A year or so ago, I did some number crunching - and I used the minister's own numbers - with this document, Wood Supply Forecast for Nova Scotia, 1996-2070, and I will table a copy for the minister. He can get a better one from his department, because his would be in colour.

Mr. Speaker, in Nova Scotia, for the total forest, and that includes the forest that we operate plus the forest including parks, et cetera, that area that we do not cut, and the age class in this province of the forests between 61 and 80 years is about 32 per cent. That's 32 per cent of the total forest. That includes the part we're not going to cut. In terms of the operable forest, which is much smaller, that area that's being harvested, if we assume that we can take that 32 per cent and apply it, we can cut that area of the operable forest in 19 years. According to GPI Atlantic it's 11 per cent, and that means that we can cut it in about six years.

The minister should worry about this. The calls for alarm have come forward now for some time. The government hasn't been listening to them. They've only listened to the industry, and you cannot allow the vagaries of the market to predict what your sustainability level is going to be, or lack thereof. We have a unique opportunity. When it comes to

[Page 2782]

forestry, it can go the way of the codfish, but this is an industry where we can see the codfish. We can look at the trees, we know how big the forest is, we can actually determine our level of cut. You just have to do the math and determine how long it would take to cut it, and we cannot sustain the level of harvest that we are carrying out in this province, and we cannot do it by terms of clear-cutting.

[4:30 p.m.]

If we can stop clear-cutting, we can save habitat, we can actually save jobs, put more men on the ground in the woods in Nova Scotia, smaller technology, smaller machinery, create more jobs, and I want the minister, he's the minister in charge of emergency measures applying for disaster relief, and one of the key causes why people believe that we've had so much trouble as far as the recent rainstorm, or April 1st, they blamed it on clear-cutting, that the water was getting to those lower areas much faster than it ever used to, and this is a consideration that the minister should think about because this has a cost. There is a value in leaving trees standing and, if you intend to take them all, you're going to have to pay for that, Mr. Speaker.

So my recommendations to the government are two: One is stop clear-cutting because it does have a disadvantage for Nova Scotians for habitat, for siltation of streams, and there is a better way. Nova Scotians have been doing it for a lot of years and I think the minister has to go back to that; and with what we know about silviculture today, we can actually manage our forests far better than this government is doing, Mr. Speaker. With those comments, I will relinquish the floor to the next member.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Natural Resources.

HON. TIMOTHY OLIVE: Mr. Speaker, I welcome the opportunity to stand up and address the issues relating to this bill. The honourable member made a comment in the first of his remarks that he felt perhaps that the current Minister of Natural Resources isn't the guy to be doing the job. Well, I would beg to differ and I would beg to differ for some very specific reasons. I think the issue of talking about sustainability and clear-cutting, and all of those issues, is something that you have to fully understand the scope of the word "sustainability".

Mr. Speaker, sustainability is not just whether it's a clear-cut issue or not - and I mean that clear-cutting as in forestry. Biodiversity strategy, parks and protected area strategy, old forest policy, Endangered Species Act, ecological land classification, wildlife habitat protection, not to leave out the Nova Scotia Forest Strategy, or the integrated resource management practices of this province, that's what sustainability is all about. You can't narrow the issue of protection of our forests and development of our economy using the forest sector by talking about clear-cutting. That's the issue that the honourable member and

[Page 2783]

many of his cohorts love to jump on because that's the one that they seem to think gets all the press.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to make reference to a document, a newspaper article, and I will table a copy, that was written by Steve Talbot, the Executive Director of the Nova Scotia Forest Products Association. In that document he states, "What frustrates the forest industry, woodlot owners and other members of the FPANS is the assumption by the Ecology Action Centre, the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society" - and the members opposite I might add from the previous speaker's Party - "that only forests that are set aside as parks add value to the environment."

Mr. Speaker, nothing could be further from the truth. Every day in Nova Scotia forest management plans are carried out that balance economic values with wildlife habitat, biodiversity, water and air quality, and recreation objectives as well. This article goes on to say, "FPANS members are committed to sustainable management of Nova Scotia's forests and to continually improving industry practices, based on sound science." It continues to say, the Forest Products Association of Nova Scotia ". . . members lead by example in working and managing community watersheds, in forest education and promotion of safe, responsible forest recreation activities."

Mr. Speaker, the unfortunate part is that the wrong message gets sent to the world community and, believe me, we do deal in the world community in Nova Scotia, with 80 per cent of our forest products being exported. They're going through a very tough time now and we don't need people in this province downgrading and belittling the industry as if it was here to rape and pillage the people of Nova Scotia and the forests that they live in, and that's just an incredible environment that is being created. The Province of Nova Scotia is committed to the sustainability of Nova Scotia's forests under the National Forest Strategy Coalition.

I was very pleased to represent the Government of Nova Scotia in signing the new Canada Forest Accord in the last couple of weeks in Ottawa. This national strategy lays the groundwork for Nova Scotia to develop and implement an action plan to meet the commitments outlined in the new accord. Nova Scotia believes healthy forest eco-systems are essential to the health of all life on Earth.

Continued economic, environmental and social benefits must be maintained for the communities, families and individuals who depend on the forest for their livelihood and their way of life. Our forests are an important resource for all Nova Scotians. From an economic perspective the forest industry in Nova Scotia is valued at $1.4 billion and employs over 20,000 people.

[Page 2784]

Our forests also have an impact on our lives in many other ways, including recreational opportunities. The Department of Natural Resources has a mandate to ensure that our forests are sustainable now and in the future for all generations of Nova Scotians. Sustaining this resource has resulted in several initiatives, including implementation of a provincial forest strategy. The strategy is one of the many links in the whole process of ensuring Nova Scotia's forests are sustainable.

Other initiatives that contribute to the overall sustainability of our forests include national commitments, a bio-diversity strategy, a parks and protected areas strategy, an old-growth forest policy, an endangered species strategy, forest management information, forest inventory information and the integrated resource management of our Crown Lands.

Since 1997, the Department of Natural Resources has been working toward implementation of the various parts of the forest strategy. Implementation of the strategy in its key elements continue as we work towards sustainable forests and sustainable forest use. We recently introduced the draft framework for a code of forest practices. This document outlines the best management practices and will focus on forest harvest and silviculture, timber management, biodiversity and environmental protection and multi-use values. The code of forest practices is a government policy that will be mandatory on Crown Land becoming part of planning and operational requirements and voluntary on private lands. Its use will be encouraged on all private forest lands through information and operations.

One cannot forget that 75 per cent of the forest lands in Nova Scotia are owned by the private sector - 75 per cent. We are very able and capable and are continuing to promote programs that provide sustainability on the 25 per cent that is Crown Land, but it's very important that through the code of forest practices and good forest sustainability regulations that the private sector accept their level of responsibility to support sustainability of our forests.

The honourable member talks about clear-cutting. The code addresses forest stands and cites conditions under which various methods of harvest are appropriate in Nova Scotia. Selection cutting significantly increases harvesting costs and does not necessarily increase growth potential. On the other hand, selective harvesting practices can lead to a high grading of stands and often leave a high risk of blow-down if not expertly done. The majority of stands in Nova Scotia are intolerant hardwood and softwood in which selection harvesting will not normally give the desired results.

We are proposing changes through the forest sustainability regulations that make the regulations easier to follow, based on feedback from those who use them. We expect through the support process of the private sector on their private woodlots and through the education process from our department that we will be able to achieve the results that are expected through the forest sustainability regulations.

[Page 2785]

All forest harvesting methods change wildlife habitat. Some species prefer openings while others prefer forest cover. The average clear-cut size in Nova Scotia is about 15 acres. A few large clear-cuts are desirable to establish the growth of large forest stands as habitat for forest interior species such as goshawks, lichens, insects and spiders. Clear-cutting is a valuable harvesting method in many forest stands that resulted from previous poor management practices. This allows stands with low productivity to be renewed through natural regeneration or planting, if necessary.

In addition, and something that's never mentioned by the member opposite or his cohorts, planting has the benefit of restoring the species that belong on the site that may no longer be there.

Mr. Speaker, that's called restoration of ecosystems, something that we don't get credit for doing but which we're very much involved in. In certain ecosystems, clear-cutting mimics the natural processes of fire, blow-down, insect and disease. Limiting clear-cutting will result in a much more extensive network of roads and harvesting over a much more extensive area to supply the existing industry with the same amount of fibre. We don't hear the Ecology Action Centre or the member opposite talking about the fact that if you don't do clear-cutting, you have to build more roads. You have to destroy more habitat to get at the forest in smaller groups, when in fact that end result will not produce a sustainable forest in Nova Scotia.

We do not regulate harvest techniques or how private landowners manage the wood on their land. Forest sustainability depends on achieving a balance among the use, management and preservation of our forest resources, recognizing environmental values and ecosystem characteristics and, as well, managing the risk of uncertainty by not compromising future opportunities. The road we are taking with our forest strategy allows for public, government and industry to work together to achieve a strong forest sector. A varied and productive forest, informed public and landowners and sustainable forest management practices.

Mr. Speaker, in Nova Scotia we have a program called the Integrated Resource Management Program, which allows us to, on an ongoing basis, identify various characteristics of the land base in Nova Scotia, which helps us determine what kind of clear-cut, select cut or any other kind of cut would be best suitable for the land in question. This is working out very well. We have a lot of co-operation from the private sector, related to the Integrated Resource Management Program. It is in fact helping them identify other resources on their land that they previously may have considered only being forestry. Through that process, the Integrated Resource Management process, we have been able to identify mineral resources, we have been able to identify endangered species, we have been able to identify old-growth forest, and many other characteristics that are very important to the sustainability of the overall forest sector.

[Page 2786]

Mr. Speaker, wildlife habitat protection is a very important part and results from the Integrated Resource Management Program. The Wildlife Habitat Protection Program is involved and runs parallel, in many cases, to the Water Courses Protection Act, because it, in fact, allows us to provide clear stands of trees when forests are being harvested along waterways. It allows us the opportunity to leave large clumps within forestry-harvested areas for the animals and the birds in the woods to survive and reproduce, and reduce any possible opportunities for extinction. It's extremely important.

Again, I go back to my original statement, it's extremely important that members of the Opposition and the Ecology Action Centre and the coalition and others clearly understand that clear-cutting is not the only issue in Nova Scotia. They have to start recognizing that the Department of Natural Resources, for many years and hopefully for many years to come, will continue to provide opportunities for development of the lands in Nova Scotia, particularly Crown land, in educating those on private lands, and providing opportunities for the ongoing development and sustainability of the province's forests.

Mr. Speaker, we have a tremendous asset in this province in our forests. We have companies like Stora in Port Hawkesbury that have so much faith in this province that they are turning around and investing an additional $90 million in a business in Nova Scotia that will employ hundreds of people, both directly and indirectly. (Applause) International companies like Stora Forest do not, I repeat do not, spend that kind of money in a province that is doing, what the honourable member would like other people to believe to its forests. It doesn't do that, it's here because they know we look after our forest and we will continue to do that. (Applause)

[4:45 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Victoria.

MR. KENNETH MACASKILL: Mr. Speaker, for a few moments, I am taking an opportunity to speak on Bill No. 30. As a former minister I have to try to find a neutral track between the two Parties and I am going to attempt to do that. After listening to the Minister of Natural Resources speak - very eloquently, I might add - on the policies and practices that are carried on with the Department of Natural Resources today, I'm happy that probably a lot of that began in 1997 when we introduced the paper, Towards Sustainable Forestry.

I think it's fair to say that all three Parties in the House today are much in favour of sustainable forestry and sustainable forest practices. The question that arises today is whether this particular bill is important to ensure the health of our forests. Mr. Speaker, I don't agree with a full ban on clear-cutting, which this bill essentially advocates; this basically is what this bill is all about. I believe that it is probably a knee-jerk reaction based more on emotion than on fact. There are many shortcomings in the department's activities, particularly in terms of monitoring the practices that are happening today in areas of this province especially

[Page 2787]

such as old-growth forests which should be protected, but to ban clear-cutting because it makes people feel good, I believe, is not the way to go.

I want to take for an example the forest practices in Sweden. I had the opportunity when I was the minister to tour some of the forests in Sweden with members of our staff and members from Stora. They are at least 20 years ahead of us in terms of forest practices. They have a very healthy forest and they have very healthy wildlife. They do clear-cutting, but it is monitored. I think this is where this government falls short, that we don't monitor the practice that is happening.

The minister has made reference to the large volume of our forest today that is privately owned - I think he said 75 per cent, which I agree is probably the correct number. A large part of that, Mr. Speaker, falls under protected area; probably another 20 per cent of that 25 per cent is under protected area. Sweden and Norway are probably the most environmentally aware countries in the western world. They take pride in their natural habitat, but even in Sweden clear-cutting is widely practised. As well, instead of taking the highly regulated approach, Sweden has worked hard to get its harvesters to agree to practise sustainable forest management.

This is where I go back to my earlier statements that we must monitor what's happening out there. The regulations we put forward, like what is in this book, Mr. Speaker, that's not worth the paper it's printed on unless we have the resources to manage it properly. The age distribution of the Norwegian forests has been at the centre of attention over the past 30 years. Both forest owners and the government have worked towards an ideal age distribution and they hope to achieve this goal by clear-cutting and immediate replanting. In some areas, especially pine forests, the regeneration is natural and it's based on seeds from trees in the forest. In other words, the seeds fall off the trees and that regeneration is natural. Where cutting is done, the forest owner is responsible for planting that area.

Mr. Speaker, this goes back to what we believed, when I was a minister, if you cut a tree, you plant a tree, it's very simple mathematics. Today, the minister has made reference to some of the bigger harvesters like Stora, Irving, MacTara, Mersey. These are some of the larger ones and there are other numbers that don't have the volume and they don't harvest to the degree that these larger ones do. For instance, we had an opportunity to tour the Irving operations in Nova Scotia. There is nobody who is going to stand in this House and tell us that the Irving family are not good operators. They see on the horizon, they're not going to cut and rape the forests without seeing that there's going to be something in the future because they spent a large amount of money in this province and they expect to be here to reap the benefits of the seed that they sow.

Mr. Speaker, that's why they say, where cutting is done, the forest owner is responsible for planting that area. I think if the department is doing its job, it will monitor the operations and see that the replanting is done.

[Page 2788]

In Sweden about 70 per cent of the timber harvested comes from clear-cutting and 30 per cent comes from thinning. Regulation and legislation is the NDP approach to all issues, Mr. Speaker. Instead of taking a more proactive approach, that Party would punish anyone who didn't fit within their view of their world. I know the Ecology Action Centre, as the minister had talked about, has a role to play in the province, but there has to be a level playing field with industry, with the environment, with our habitat, and with the people who earn a living from our forests. Clear-cutting, in itself, cannot be taken as an attack on biodiversity. In some areas selective harvesting may be appropriate; in others, no harvesting.

Mr. Speaker, we talk about old growth, where no harvesting should take place. In some areas selective cutting would be appropriate, but to ban clear-cutting as an option does not make sense, in my opinion. In the case of an old-growth forest, a credible case might be made for not allowing any type of harvesting, and that may be something we can support. I think all Nova Scotians respect and appreciate old-growth forests. Fundamentally, however, I believe this bill is maybe anti-forestry towards the harvesters or the people who make a living from our forests today.

Mr. Speaker, forests are resilient. Logging, in itself, will not destroy the ecotourism. Do I agree with sustainable forest practices? We all do, but in some cases clear-cutting should be part of the toolbox available to the harvesters. I also believe this too can be a sustainable practice. Clear-cutting smaller areas, for example, allows for greater diversity through strip harvesting. The name doesn't sound good, but what it does is selectively clear-cut certain areas while maintaining others. This also can be a way to ensure diversity.

Mr. Speaker, there are many issues that we can talk about relative to sustainable forestry. I think that the regulations are there and, as I said earlier, they began with this position paper, Towards Sustainable Forestry. Unlike most Canadian provinces, the majority of forest land in Nova Scotia is privately owned. When we were in government and I was a minister, the Crown land under management by the province and under other harvesters, the level of cutting was sustainable. I believe that is the same today because the industry is facing difficult times. As we see our dollar climb in value, it's going to hurt the market for our lumber abroad. I think this makes a good discussion and I thank the honourable member for bringing it forward.

In closing, I just want to say that I believe this bill is short-sighted to some degree and should be part of a sustainable forest strategy, rather than an attempt to ban clear-cutting completely. So, Mr. Speaker, with those few remarks, I will take my seat.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.

MR. HOWARD EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, we're debating Bill No. 30. Bill No. 30 is the bill that has been brought forward by my honourable colleague, the MLA for Hants East. It's a bill that is designed to control the practice of clear-cutting in the Province of Nova

[Page 2789]

Scotia. I emphasize the word, control, because I've heard it misrepresented as a bill that, in fact, would absolutely and completely outlaw and ban clear-cutting. This is not the case.

The bill is designed to construct a presumption against the use of clear-cutting. It essentially says that clear-cutting should be the exception rather than the rule. It says that clear-cutting should not be as it is now, the prevailing method for harvesting forests. It should in fact be the method that is used only occasionally for harvesting our forests and that's a very sensible bill.

I want to explain why it is that we brought this bill forward. I heard comments from the honourable Minister of Natural Resources to the effect that we ought to consider the question of clear-cutting in a context. He said that the ideal of sustainability - which he said that he and his government subscribe to - should be looked at in a wide context. Well, I want to look at that wide context in a slightly different way than the minister suggested to us.

Now, this is the government that promised a green plan for the Province of Nova Scotia and it promised that green plan for the third year of its mandate. Well, we're in the fourth year of that government's mandate and there's no sign of that green plan. During estimates recently, I asked the different ministers who are responsible, where's the green plan? Well, he said it's still being studied by an interdepartmental committee and maybe we will get around to it. Do you know what? For a government that is so predominantly made up of MLAs - not the Minister of Natural Resources, as it happens - who come from rural areas, this government has consistently ignored the needs of rural areas in the last four years.

I want to give you some examples because that is the context within which Bill No. 30, brought forward by the member for Hants East, should be regarded. I think about things like the betrayal of communities time and again. I think about the betrayal of the community of Digby Neck, by this government standing aside and not doing anything to get themselves in the way of that mega-quarry proposal down there on Digby Neck to take away our basalt. I think about offshore exploration around Cape Breton and the extent to which this has been problematic for communities all over Cape Breton. This government has done virtually nothing to stand up for those communities up there.

I think about aquaculture proposals in Northwest Cove and various other places around Nova Scotia where the local communities don't want them, but some company wants them and so this government steps aside and says we're not going to do anything. They cave right in. I think about the damage that's being done by all-terrain vehicles, by ATVs in the remotest parts of this province, and this is a government that says, we will study it. Well, they've been studying it for several years. They've had an interdepartmental committee, and the latest thing they're doing is they're going to fob it off for Voluntary Planning to do something about, but that's study it again.

[Page 2790]

[5:00 p.m.]

I think about proposals for additional protected areas, things like Eigg Mountain, these are proposals that have been well documented, studied, researched, that are in front of this government and that they've done nothing about. I think about our coastal properties, and I think about access, traditional access, to recreational properties, to beaches, to the prospects that we enjoy around our coastal province that are being interfered with, and this government again does nothing. I think about drought in agricultural areas and what's happened, this government has allowed those drought conditions to prevail in rural areas, in the Valley, in Pictou County, particularly, in parts of Cape Breton for the last several years that have been particularly hard years, and what's happened? Nothing.

That's the context within which I think about the necessity for sustainability in the forests and therefore the justification for this bill coming forward in this form. It's because what we see from this government, in the forestry context, is known as talk and log. Talk and log means that all the stakeholders are invited to roundtables to discuss the future of the forests. These roundtables often have interesting names, Sustainability Roundtables, Future of the Forestry Roundtable. That kind of label is put on the discussion process, and it goes on interminably. While that talking is going on, the forestry companies are out there clear-cutting every last hectare of land that they can get access to. That is exactly what's going on in Nova Scotia, that is exactly what is going on in Nova Scotia, and it has been documented very thoroughly.

A few minutes ago the minister said he was going to table a newspaper document, I don't think he did. I will table something. I ask the Page to come here and get it. Thank you very much. This is the most comprehensive study of what has gone on in Nova Scotia's forestry that is up to date. This is the GPI Atlantic study from November 2001 called the Nova Scotia Genuine Progress Index, Forest Accounts. The extracts that I have tabled should be read into the record. I think I've tabled them on other occasions. I certainly know that my colleague has tabled extracts from them. Anyone who is interested in knowing what's going on in forestry in Nova Scotia should pay attention to that. I will now read into the record, extracts from this because they say clearly exactly what it is that's going on in our forest industry and has been going on for years.

". . . a long history of high-grading (removing the best trees), land clearing, and clear-cutting over more than two centuries has severely degraded the province's forested natural wealth. The ecological integrity, health and economic value of Nova Scotias forests have continued to decline sharply since the 1950s, when the Department of Lands and Forests' inventory noted that the quality of the province's forests had already decreased substantially."

[Page 2791]

That takes the long view of observing that over two centuries there has been a huge decline, and that has been documented time and again. This goes on because they point out the indicators, major losses in age class diversity is an indicator, natural species diversity has also declined, that's another indicator. Here's what they say, here's another quotation:

"The rate of cutting in Nova Scotia has doubled over the past two decades by volume and in the last decade alone the actual area clear-cut annually has doubled."

Ninety-nine per cent of this wood is harvested by clear-cutting. I will repeat that for the minister because he doesn't seem to have absorbed it, 99 per cent of this wood is harvested by clear-cutting. Their conclusion is that the current annual rate of cutting is unsustainable. It's unsustainable, that means it can't go on. I have heard comments from other speakers who suggest that opposition to clear-cutting has something to do with admiring the view. Well, clear-cutting is ugly but that isn't our reason for opposing it. That isn't the point.

Environmentalism isn't about admiring the view. Environmentalism is an alternative view of different economic sectors, and in this case, the forestry sector. What we're saying is that if we want this sector to continue to be healthy, to achieve health because we don't have it now in Nova Scotia, we shouldn't blind ourselves by the fact that we are cutting so many trees. This is exactly akin to what went on with the groundfishery. They kept taking in fish and taking in fish and of course they were able to sell the fish and make money at it, and it looks good. On the balance sheets it looks good, but you can't do it forever if you are overharvesting.

The overharvesting that went on in the fishery ended up in the collapse and economic harm to the provinces that were so heavily invested in it. If we don't take that lesson for our forestry, we will end up in exactly the same situation and it's not because we don't know it's coming. We can foresee that it's coming and the 11,000 people who make their living in whole or in part from forestry activities in Victoria County, in Queens County, in Lunenburg County, in Colchester County and in part here in the Halifax Regional Municipality will be right out of luck and I don't want them to be. I recognize that mechanism and clear-cutting have cut back on the number of jobs per volume of wood harvested; this is not a good thing. Those people are already in a difficult position.

What I'm saying is that we had better change our economic approach to forestry. This is a question of an economic approach. Never mind that it causes soil siltation, never mind that it's bad for the streams, never mind that it reduces the ability of the forests to act as carbon sinks, it's bad economics which is the language that that minister says he understands. But he isn't taking the steps to act upon it.

[Page 2792]

This bill offers the minister and his government the opportunity to take some solid steps to actually protect the forests and protect those workers whose jobs and livelihood are attached to the forestry. The minister is missing out here and he is failing to live up to his obligation to protect those people. I'm not just talking about protecting the trees and I'm not even mentioning the habitat, although this is important, because there are a whole variety of other associated, and I would say, not just interesting but economic activities associated with forests. They rely upon them.

I don't think the minister even knows what a forest is. He looks at forests and he thinks it's a bunch of trees. A forest isn't a bunch of trees. A forest is a complex ecosystem in which all elements hang together, from the microbes, to the birds, to - I heard the minister mention, spiders as well, this is true, but he doesn't take it seriously. He doesn't understand that they have to be protected and one of the ways in which to protect them is to take action as suggested in Bill No. 30.

The steps that have been taken by this government are minuscule. Now the one solid fact that I have heard the minister put forward is the observation that in Nova Scotia, unlike many other provinces, a lot of the land base is privately owned. But, you know what? So what. It doesn't matter that the land base is overwhelmingly privately owned here. The job of the government is to regulate where appropriate. The job of the government is to step in where appropriate and tell private owners how they have to manage their lands because there is a common interest that we all have.

The trouble is that for individual owners, it's very tempting for them to simply let people come in as contractors offer to do, and clear-cut on their land. I would ask the minister to talk to his colleague, the member for Colchester North, who owns land adjacent to my land, or within a mile of my land, because someone went in and clear-cut right beside his land. Does he like it? He doesn't like it, he thinks it's terrible. You talk to the member, your colleague, the member for Colchester North, and it's not just because it's ugly, he knows that it is bad forestry management, but it is going on all over this province and that minister is not doing his job to stand up for rural Nova Scotians and to stand up for the ecosystems and to stand up for the jobs that depend on forestry here. He'd better talk to his colleague for Colchester North because he'll get a different perspective. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Yarmouth.

MR. RICHARD HURLBURT: Mr. Speaker, can you tell me how much time is left?

MR. SPEAKER: Thirty seconds.

MR. HURLBURT: Well, I'm pleased to stand and speak on Bill No. 30 to let the members opposite know that harvesters, landowners and mill operators in my region of the province are working co-operatively to reforest our forest after they do the cutting. They are

[Page 2793]

trying to send a finished product from Nova Scotia all around the world stamped "finished product from Nova Scotia". Bowater and the Province of Nova Scotia . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable Opposition House Leader.

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, things seem to have become a little bit animated.

Mr. Speaker, would you please call the order of business, Motions Other than Government Motions.

MOTIONS OTHER THAN GOVERNMENT MOTIONS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Opposition House Leader.

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Resolution No. 1323.

Res. 1323, Dorsey Rept.: PC Gov't. - Implement - notice given May 7/03 - (by Mr. K. Deveaux), Mr. F. Corbett

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

MR. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, I'm pleased to stand and say a few words on this resolution. Maybe this time the member for Chester-St. Margaret's will actually get to his feet and get engaged in something as opposed to being the chief apologist for the government down that way.

We're here today to talk about, in real direct terms, the implementation of the Dorsey report. It's a report that was not the conception of somebody outside this House. It wasn't done by a group of people who got together outside and decided, you know what, we think there should be an overhaul of the workers' compensation system. What the Dorsey report in actual terms is, is a mandated report from the legislation surrounding the Workers' Compensation Act.

With the indulgence of the House for a few minutes, I want to give a brief description of those who made up the Dorsey report because I, hopefully, for once in my life, make a cogent point on this. That being, the chairman was James Dorsey, he's a grad of Dalhousie Law School, he was chairman of the WCB in British Columbia, he was active on the federal Canadian Labour Relations Board, he brings a wealth of knowledge. Michael Power is a lawyer with Power, Dempsey, Cooper & Leefe in Bridgewater. He was a member of the Select Committee on the Workers' Compensation Act, with myself, plus he's been active in representing workers with claims against WCB. Janet Hazelton, who is now the president of the Nova Scotia Nurses' Union and has a background obviously in health care and was on it. Carol McCulloch from the Construction Association of Nova Scotia brings a wealth from

[Page 2794]

that, plus from the management perspective. Gary Penny from the Cape Breton Injured Workers Association who is also a former board member of WCB. Steve Rankin, a former president of the Cape Breton Development Corporation, he was there representing the Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters' Association. Bob Cook is a health care professional and he is the CEO of the Nova Scotia Association of Health Care Organizations. The last person I'm going to mention on that board was Betty Jean Sutherland who represented the Nova Scotia Federation of Labour, who has a wealth of background in health care issues as they relate to workers, but she does work in the health care field in long-term care and has been actively involved with workers' compensation.

The reason I laid out those names is because what it tells you is that the people that put the Dorsey report together were all qualified people to sit on that board. They were not heavy-sided with labour or management or one sector or another. What they were, were people with a common goal to fix a broken system. It's as simple as that.

What this report - and I have it on my desk in front of me, it's been tabled in here many times before so I know I don't have to table it - what this report comes up with, as I stated, was the system is broken. The stakeholders say, this is how it has to be fixed.

[5:15 p.m.]

But does government take that document and say, thank you, thank you for your hard work, we're going to implement this report? No, the government doesn't do that. The government doesn't do what I would say would be the sincere and prudent thing to do, implement a stakeholders' report. Instead, it redelivers the chickens back to the henhouse. It put them in there, then brought the fox in. What it did by bringing the fox back is it gave it to the board. Now there's an institutional bias by the board. I'm not going to say anything derogatory about board members, the chair or even the CEO. That's not what I'm here for today.

What we're here for is to say, why in God's name would you take it from here to there? It was an outside examination of what was wrong, and then you bring it back in-house and say, tell us more, see if it's true. Well, as I said in Question Period earlier today, there's probably no other organization of government that's been tinkered with more, in my short time in this House, than workers' compensation. Just previous to my time in this House, the then Minister of Labour, Jay Abbass brought in what most people refer to as the Abbass bill. What the Abbass bill effectively did was take us away from the old CRS, the old Clinical Rating System, to a wage loss system. What it did was it ended up giving us a whole other layer in the workers' compensation system. Then what did we have in that other layer? The Hayden decision, which clouds things again.

[Page 2795]

Mr. Speaker, the Dorsey report goes a long way to resolving a lot of this. I want to talk about its treatment of people who were left out because of another Liberal bill, Bill No. 90. The people who were in the appeal system, who had a problem, but because they didn't have an appeal in by a certain date were not allowed benefits through Bill No. 90. Although everyone recognizes that they have chronic pain, the bill says, well, we know you have chronic pain but you didn't have an appeal in by this date, therefore, we don't recognize you, you're out on your keister, you have nothing. It makes absolutely no sense.

Yet this government is going to sit on the Dorsey report and say - look we've had focus groups. Mr. Minister, the Dorsey committee is your focus group. You go through it. You look at the summations. There are your focus groups. You don't need to go and waste more valuable premiums spent at WCB in getting another premium, wasting the precious dollars that come into that, that could be going to help injured workers but instead is going to help these so-called researchers do focus groups again.

We know what's wrong. Injured workers are telling you what's wrong. We don't need to go back there. We don't need a group on the other side of a two-way mirror telling us what's wrong. What we need is action. Mr. Minister, you could leave a lasting legacy in this House and it would be a legacy that injured workers would be talking about for years. I don't say this to you by way of gratifying yourself but just by being able to say you did the right thing. The right thing in this case is very simple, stop the shenanigans that people are doing around the Dorsey report; implement it, if for no other reason than it's the first consensus document in the last 15 years that came out any kind of study of WCB.

I know the special all-Party committee on WCB tried to get a consensus, but the ink wasn't dry on that report when people were backing out of it. Your own Party backed out of it, they were the first ones out of that consensus document. They said, there will be no universal coverage. They backed out so that all deals were off. That's what happened with Bill No. 19 and the select committee. So I believe, Mr. Minister, you have a responsibility. You have a responsibility to the injured workers in this province, and you have a responsibility to the employers of this province. Every time in the last 10 to 12 years that this Act was looked at, it has resulted in fewer and fewer benefits for injured workers and that's wrong.

We have some of the largest premiums of any province, and that's wrong, but you know there's a whole historical problem that has caused that, that today's debate does not permit me to get involved with because it would just take up too much time. But, Mr. Speaker, through you to the minister, he has to realize that more study is not what's needed here. What's needed here is action. We saw how injurious it was to injured workers when they were told Bill No. 90 was coming, yet the board still pursued what was referred to as ADR, the alternative dispute resolution. They knew that there was some form of box coming around chronic pain, but the board continued to go forward with - I would tell this House today - inadequate compensation to people.

[Page 2796]

These people took this through ADR, Mr. Speaker, because they were literally starving, they were losing their homes, but the board, with the blessing of the then-government, allowed this to go forward, and that was shameful. People still come to my office today and say, I made this settlement, can you help me appeal it? And, you know, we try, but the reality is they signed away all their rights through the ADR process and now we have people out there suffering through that. We have people suffering because of a date on the calendar, although everybody admits that they have chronic pain, they are not allowed.

We are also well aware that in front of the federal courts, as we speak, is a challenge to Bill No. 90 as it relates to chronic pain. One could only hope that would be successful but, not relying on that, I believe again there's a fix for that in the Dorsey report. I believe that if the government would do the right thing - to heck with the studies, sit down, look we all know Dorsey makes recommendations, everybody agrees with it, all the stakeholders, why delay any further, implement Dorsey, and I think we will be well on our way to fixing the workers' compensation system.

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

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, have our times changed?

MR. SPEAKER: Yes, they have. The time has changed because of a point of privilege which was raised and then added on, but still the same amount of time.

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I am very, very pleased to rise in my place and to speak on the resolution that we have before us today which deals with the Dorsey report and, of course, the Workers' Compensation Board and the Workers' Compensation Act. As I said during Question Period when a question was put to me regarding the Dorsey Commission report, I have fortunately - or unfortunately - had a long association with the Workers' Compensation Board and the Workers' Compensation Act. As a matter of fact, as I have said before, the member for Cape Breton Nova and myself have probably spoken more in this House in years past on workers' compensation than any other members, I think, for a long, long time.

We were partners on a couple of excursions I think - or maybe even three - around the province, speaking to workers, both injured and on the job, speaking to occupational health and safety groups, speaking to the medical fraternity and, most of all, speaking to workers who believed that, and probably rightly so, they had been shortchanged by the workers' compensation system.

As a result of the second-last select committee that I was on, Mr. Speaker - I was Minister of Labour at that time - when we came back we drafted a new Workers' Compensation Act and this was an entire rewrite of the Workers' Compensation Act.

[Page 2797]

With great pride and great fanfare I introduced it to the House and I couldn't understand the uproar that broke loose when I introduced that piece of legislation. It had some things that were kind of revolutionary. We were going to have universal coverage, for instance, under that Act. We were going to do away with the meat chart in that Act. We had a number of things in that Act that would finally come to pass but at that time, however, the political Opposition that we had were not at all happy with the Act and finally, in somewhat desperate straits, I withdrew the legislation and we went back to the drawing board and once again came forward with some minor changes to the Act, Mr. Speaker, which didn't satisfy anybody. I agree with whoever it was, and I forget whether it was from that side of the House or that side of the House, during Question Period, who said that the time of tinkering with the Act is over. We do have to make some very substantial changes to that legislation.

Now I come to the point that was made, of course, by the Opposition and the people I just met with, Mr. Speaker, a number of people from the injured workers groups around the province, and that is why the delay in the transition from a recommendation to action. The reason for the delay, quite frankly, is that there are substantial changes required to the Workers' Compensation Act in order to effect completely the Dorsey recommendations. Now I am not going to stand up here today and tell you that we are going to endorse every one of the Dorsey report recommendations but we are going to try and we will certainly enact legislation that will indeed give power to most of the recommendations in the Dorsey report.

The complaint that we hear continuously is that there is something functionally wrong with the Workers' Compensation Board and the workers' compensation system and with the way that people are treated. I think, Mr. Speaker, that as a person who has a small office in a small rural area, I'm sure, like most members of this House, that we get a lot of people who come into our offices who say, I cannot get reasonable, fair treatment from the Workers' Compensation Act. Sometimes, and in fact, quite often, I imagine, in some offices anyway, the intervention of the MLA seems to stir the system up and something happens and it shouldn't be that way. The system should operate in a fashion whereby a person applies for compensation because of an accident on the job; if it's legitimate and the pain and suffering are there, the person should be recompensed; there should be no argument about that.

That's why I'm glad that we have, to some extent, change. I remember the first time I was Minister of Labour, one of the first things I did was to go up to the workers' compensation office and I asked the person in charge at that time - I forget who it was - it was before Stuewe anyway, (Interruption) yes, and I said, tell me, why is it when I phone about a Joe Smith who comes in and has a claim there, they say well we'll have to find Mr. Joe Smith's file. Then they transfer me somewhere else, and they say, well no, it's not on my desk, but I think it might be on somebody else's desk. I said, why is it that you phone up and you are left hanging on to the phone forever, before they finally, if they ever do, locate that file. So he showed me the system that they had and this was before the computerized system went in, in the Workers' Compensation Board and they were on the 2nd floor, the main floor, and the basement. The basement was just files stacked sky high. The fellow said, when you

[Page 2798]

look around here, what do you see? I said I see an awful lot of files. He said, that's right but we don't know who half of them belong to because the files go around and around in circles and there was no tracking of files. I couldn't believe it. This was back in 1980, that was the kind of system they had at the Workers' Compensation Board.

[5:30 p.m.]

So, I said, that's one thing that we have to look after is how the Workers' Compensation Board operates functionally as an office. That is why I'm glad that the Dorsey report 12 years later is saying that one of the most important things we have to address is the accountability of the system and the function of the Workers' Compensation Board in satisfying claimants who want to know what's happened to their claim, why is it not being approved, et cetera.

I think we are finally, partially, moving in the direction of having some better accountability at the board and I would suspect that by the Fall of this year, that will be in place, as will be the draft legislation. On May 26th, there was going to be a two-day meeting, it's now being cut back to one day and I'm going to find out why, for a meeting of stakeholders of the system to discuss the implementation of the Dorsey report and the coming into use of the regulations and the changes that will be required.

It seems to me that once we've had that, I think we have to say enough is enough. Enough consultation, enough talking, let's get on with it, let's get pen to paper and draft up whatever is required in the way of legislation. That will have to come before this House for enactment this Fall. I sincerely hope that I can rise in my place over here in the Fall and introduce that amendment to the Workers' Compensation Act.

I think it is, as somebody said, and I wrote it down - you can get a lasting legacy - I think the honourable member for Cape Breton Centre referred to it - if you bring forward the recommendations of Dorsey and put them into place and at the same time make sure that the board is accountable and it's being fair. I think fair is the go word to all those who make claims against the workers' compensation system.

The Speaker is telling me I only have two more minutes. I'd just like to say that I believe and maybe others don't, but I believe the Workers' Compensation Board today is better than it was the last time I was Minister of Labour. But, it's only incrementally better, but we can take some giant steps forward and I look forward to doing that. Thank you.

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

MR. PAUL MACEWAN: Mr. Speaker, I'm interested in this resolution. This would be a good time to play politics and say, look, they're now following us because we in this

[Page 2799]

Party brought this topic up every single week in Question Period since this session first began.

AN HON. MEMBER: Remember Bill No. 90.

MR. MACEWAN: I don't know what he's talking about. If he can go out the door, that would be good.

The reason why I'm interested in this is not that I was part of the commission that drew up the report. I wasn't Labour Critic for the Liberal caucus at that time, I was Critic for the Department of Transportation and Public Works. But the Leader of our Party asked me if I'd take over Labour this past Fall and shortly after that I got a telephone call from a constituent by the name of Diane Erickson who lives at 25 Bennett Street in Sydney. I know her well and I know her mother and father well and she said, what are you going to do now that you're Labour Critic? She had seen that in the paper, a little item about that big at the bottom of Page 19. What are you going to do now that you're Labour Critic about the Dorsey report?

I said, what Dorsey is that? Tommy or Jimmy? She said no, she'd never heard of Tommy or Jimmy Dorsey. That's before her time. She said there's a report on workers' compensation called the Dorsey report. She said, you should get a copy of it and start off from there. So I said, all right, I will. I got a copy of it. That's not the copy - it's a copy - but it was one and the same in size and content as that one there. I looked through it, and I saw that it was a very lengthy report. It had eight authors, it had 390 pages of text and it had 54 recommendations for reform, and it was - as the title says - a focused review of the Nova Scotia Workers' Compensation Program.

When the House session began this Spring, at the end of March, now having the designation of Labour Critic - and I was reaching up there to see if I had a crown to wear for that, but I see that I don't, anyway, I had the title - I started raising this in Question Period, to ask the Minister of Environment and Labour what he intended to do, because I knew, from what had happened last Fall, that one of the recommendations contained in that report had been acted on. It had been a government bill, but it had received all-Party co-operation and was fast-tracked through the House. There was a selfish reason for that, at least on my part, and that was because I didn't want to stop the workers who were going to get the cheques from getting them before Christmas. I wanted to see that they would get them, and not have it prolonged by extensive filibustering and time-wasting up here in the House.

We got down to it, we passed the bill, one, two, three, just like in the Supreme Soviet, and it went into operation. The beneficiaries did get their cheques prior to Christmas, but that was only one of 54 recommendations, which raises the question, what about the other 53? What are they going to do about those? If it takes them one year to implement one recommendation, then presumably it would take two years to implement two, three years to

[Page 2800]

implement three, and so on and so forth, as long as they remain in power, until when even the honourable Minister of Environment and Labour becomes an old man. By that time, they might have implemented recommendation number 12.

It doesn't seem like a good approach. I don't know why. I remember when the honourable member who invented the Morse code - I am not allowed to call him by his name, but I can say he's the inventor of Morse code - was Minister of Environment and Labour, the bill he was going to introduce was Bill No. 155. Somebody was going out the door talking about Bill No. 90, I count higher, I count to 155. When that bill was going to be introduced here in the House, through my espionage network, I knew that the bill had been prepared, I knew that the bill was drafted, I knew it had been approved by the Legislative Counsel office, but I could not find out where the bill was. I used to tell people that - I didn't know this as being true - I think that he has it in his glove compartment of his car, because we haven't seen it in the House.

Well, one day it was pulled out of somewhere and tabled here in the House, and given first reading, then given second and third reading very shortly thereafter. That's how Bill No. 155 got into full force and effect. I would like to see the other recommendations of the Dorsey report similarly put into effect. I realize it's a government decision. On each recommendation, do they want to respond by way of a bill, do they want to respond by way of a regulation, do they want to respond by turning thumbs down and throwing that recommendation into the filing cabinet or into the garbage can? That's their decision. But they haven't produced anything.

Here we are at the tail end of this session of the House, and I have raised it in the House every week, and the NDP raised it today, and we still don't see any hope of action. They say, wait until the Fall, meaning wait until the election is over, and waiting until presumably we, over there, are re-elected. Once they get back in for another term, they're going to be even worse than they were this term, because it's hard to teach old dogs new tricks, and some of them over there are getting to be kind of middle-aged specimens nowadays. I just don't have any faith in them when they say, well, when we get re-elected we will do it then. That is a traditional put-down, put-off, procrastination, I think the psychologists call it . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: It's a P3.

MR. MACEWAN: It's a P3, I don't know what that stands for, psychology, psychiatry and philosophy maybe. P3, yes. Anyway, they have their reasons for wanting to wait. We want action now. I would think that if there was an election coming, they would want to demonstrate that they had some mettle to themselves, they would table a bill. Well, I'm not giving you cynical advice, you could always let it die on the order paper, but at least you could say we tabled a bill and if it wasn't for those terrible people in the Opposition, we would have put it through. I mean I know the tricks of this trade. I've been around it for

[Page 2801]

awhile. But they won't do any of that. So here we are again, going through the same exercise one more time, the same ritual.

I was saying that when I got my appointment as Minister of Labour that Diane Erickson called my attention to this report. I got it, so I think I have her to blame more than anybody else for having gone through what I've gone through in raising this issue over the last number of weeks.

I also had a case involving Dennis Fougere, who lives nearby Diane Erickson, at 455 Grand Lake Road. Dennis Fougere was one of the beneficiaries of the bill that we passed last Fall. I have here a letter to him that I can table, I will read from it and then I will table it. This is dated November 26, 2002, "Dear Dennis, Further to my report of November 21 . . ." five days ago, ". . . since then the Bill in the Legislature, Bill 155, has received two out of three readings at this point and will be given third or final reading the day after tomorrow . . ." You see I know the future sometimes too (Interruptions) November 26, 2002. "This Bill drastically changes and increases the ammounts [sic] paid on the Workers Compensation Supplementary Benefits program.

Bill 155 will take effect October 1, 2002. It provides for Supplementary Benefits with no cap at all except half the industrial wage level paid in the province. This works out to about $15,000 a year . . ." It actually worked out to $15,008 a year . . ." or ". . . $1,250 a month. From this they will subtract your Compensation pension . . . and pay you the difference as a Supplementary Benefit."

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Order, please. Would some of the members please take their conversations outside of the Chamber.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Nova has the floor.

MR. MACEWAN: "It should mean you will get an additional $540 or so a month, effective October 1."

Now, hear this, Mr. Speaker, I'm reading from my letter, "I had the Minister of Labor [sic], David Morse, do the arithmetic for me personally on your case . . ." that's true ". . . and he verifies the $1,250 a month total figure . . ." will be payable to you and since Bill No. 155 will ". . . mean your monthly income will increase by $540 or so a month and by $7,000 or so per year." Now, that's action, that's the kind of politics that gets you re-elected, much more so than paving potholes, or getting rid of crying dogs. (Interruption) Or cats, for the candidate running for that riding in Glace Bay.

"Official notification of these changes will be sent out by the Workers' Compensation Board . . . once Bill No. 155 is passed by the Legislature which I expect to happen on Thursday, November 28." Now, there is action for you. "I will be in further touch when Bill

[Page 2802]

155 is passed. It has all-party support in the Legislature and I expect it will be passed unanimously. The Compensation Board assures that if the Bill is passed, they will gear up their cheque-writing machines and hopefully get these cheques out before Christmas. Once the bill is passed, I will find out more details of payment from WCB. With all best wishes . . .", and then it repeats "With all best wishes" the second time. "Sincerely, Paul MacEwan." I table that letter.

Now, that's the kind of action you need to deserve votes in the ballot box - action, not procrastination, not wasting of time, not finding excuses to avoid doing anything now and say, well, it will wait until the Fall, it will wait until next year, it will wait until the next decade. I'm pleased to see that today the minister announces that tomorrow letters will be sent out to participants and stakeholders to attend a round table conference, dated, which I don't know yet, even my espionage machine hasn't told me that yet, but I will find it out and when that (Interruption) The machine is not dead, believe it, my friend.

[5:45 p.m.]

When I find that out, I will be watching proceedings with a very diligent eye because, Mr. Speaker, the point is that there wouldn't be that size of a report on workers' compensation if there was nothing wrong with it. The commissioners would have reported back saying A-OK, signed eight names to it, one single sheet of paper, and that would be their report - but they came back with 390 pages. Now there must be something to it. Maybe not every last recommendation is going to be carried out to the letter, but out of 54 recommendations I am sure that at least half of them, probably more than three-quarters of them, are soundly justified, maybe all of them . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: Most of them.

MR. MACEWAN: Most of them, all right. The minister agrees with me, most of them. So my message here today, on May 14, 2003, is get on with it. I am not going to belabour that; I'm not going to play politics. I was even prepared today to commend the NDP, if you can believe it, for having made this an issue today, after we had every week since the House began. I would commend the government also, as I did last Fall, when they brought forth Bill No. 155 to do what I just described to the House, because that's what politics is about - helping people, not turning your back on their problems.

Now, I don't know how much time I have, Mr. Speaker, but I think I've probably taken enough and I think I will rest my case on that note.

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

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, I am glad to have a few moments to speak on the resolution that my colleague, the member for Cape Breton Centre, initiated. I was glad

[Page 2803]

to hear the words of the Minister of Environment and Labour and the member for Cape Breton Nova. As the Minister of Environment and Labour noted, both he and the member for Cape Breton Nova have probably debated workers' compensation issues more than any other two members in this House or any other Assembly we probably had.

It's been an issue that clearly has always been front and centre with a lot of constituents in Nova Scotia, as the Minister of Environment and Labour noted. There's not a member in this House who doesn't have someone come forward who has concerns about workers' compensation and is seeking assistance.

I want to take a couple of minutes to talk about my understanding of the workers' compensation system, having heard particularly from the member for Cape Breton Nova. The member is right, this is an issue that needs to be dealt with immediately. We have already been dealing with it for 14 months, since the report came out. The report was initiated long before that.

Many of the injured workers and other stakeholders in this system are desperate for changes in the system, and when the Dorsey report came out they were encouraged to see what was being recommended. They thought, here is some good news for us finally, here are some issues that we would like to see addressed, and let's get on with it. What we've seen from this government is delay, delay, delay, and, Mr. Speaker, the time for delay is over. I'm glad to hear that we're now moving forward with more stakeholder consultation. I'm glad to hear the words of the Minister of Environment and Labour, that the time for consultation is ended. We've consulted enough - a little bit more might do - but it's time to start moving forward with these recommendations.

Mr. Speaker, when you look at the recommendations, I might say that they are based on the questions that were originally given - I forget how many there were, 30 or 35 questions were originally given to the commission to look at, the Dorsey report. But clearly there still needs to be leadership from the top. This is a government that from day one has not shown leadership on issues of workers' compensation and workers' safety and health. Let's be clear, one goes hand-in-hand with the other. Anytime a government provides regulations and enforcement that prevents a worker from being injured, that's one less injured worker, that's one less person who has to claim compensation, and that should be the goal of every government.

Yet from the first day - and in fact it was this minister's other time as the Minister of Labour, back when they first won the election back in 1999, when he immediately stopped passage of regulations on the Occupational Health and Safety Act, regulations that would have gone very far in providing modern, harmonized rules with other provinces in Canada, to ensure that Nova Scotian workers had decent regulations for protecting them so they do not get injured, and I would be remiss if I didn't note that.

[Page 2804]

I think what's also important is to remember Bill No. 90. I know the member for Cape Breton Nova seems to have some sort of absence of memory with regard to Bill No. 90, so I think it's important to put on the record exactly what that bill was dealing with. Back before that, when I was a workers' adviser representing injured workers, there was a court case that came down that specifically identified that the system that had been created under the Workers' Compensation Act passed by the Liberals in the mid-1990s, that said there were concerns with it - I think it's called the pre-Hayden group.

With that, Mr. Speaker, there were certain dramatic changes based on that court case that were going to have to be made to the system, and there was only one thing that was going to stop that decision - that decision was good for injured workers in Nova Scotia, it was good for injured workers with chronic pain, it was good for injured workers in Nova Scotia - but only one thing was going to stop that decision from being implemented. Only one thing - it wasn't the Workers' Compensation Board that could stop it. It wasn't employers that could stop it. There was only one thing that could stop the full implementation of that decision and it was the Legislature of the House of Assembly of Nova Scotia.

We were in a minority government and in that minority government, the Liberal Government brought forward Bill No. 90 and with the support of the Third Party at the time, the Progressive Conservative Party, they passed that bill with changes that basically gutted that court decision and said injured workers in Nova Scotia with chronic pain aren't going to get the benefits they deserve. That was a shame and our Party protested it at the time, did our best to try to make sure the changes would not be put in place that affected injured workers negatively, yet the Liberals as a government and the Tory Opposition sided with it and in the minority government was one of the major and only pieces of legislation that were actually passed. Why? Because a decision of the court that came down in favour of injured workers could not stand and the government and the Third Party at the time would make sure it would not stand. That's a shame, Mr. Speaker.

Now we have a Dorsey report that came out over a year ago and it identifies some very good recommendations. I want to talk for a few minutes on those. I've had a chance to read it, but I was refreshing my memory of it while listening to the other members speak. There are a couple of points that came up that I thought were particularly interesting.

One was the earning replacement benefit, both temporary and permanent - the TERB and ERB, I think it's called in the system. Yes, thank you. The issue with it is that when they're calculating it - this is a trick that the Workers' Compensation Board has used quite often, I'm glad to see the Dorsey report deals with it. It's one of the recommendations I am surely hoping that the system will address. You would have these caseworkers, that when a worker was finally identified as having a permanent injury, they would then calculate how much their earning loss was. I don't think anyone would dispute that the earning loss system is a better system. If you lose a finger, but you can still work as a carpenter or as a lawyer or

[Page 2805]

what have you, in those circumstances, losing that pinkie, does that result in your not being able to do your job? Maybe it does, maybe it doesn't. But let's calculate it on how much income you're losing as a result of the injury.

Good system. I agree with it as a concept. It's one that was all adopted in the 1990s. But, the problem is, in its implementation, caseworkers are supposed to look back anywhere from one to three years on the injured worker's work history, but in many cases, these are workers who work on a temporary basis or work part-time or because of seasonal work are only able to work for part of the year. Or, maybe they just had, because of circumstances, they just weren't able to get work on a regular basis in those three years. I've seen circumstances where I had clients who had good, well-paying jobs, but just happened over the past year prior to that been in a situation that prevented them from earning a decent income.

The Workers' Compensation Board would find a way to limit their earning that they would have to judge as the earnings that they would make. They would do it based on this fudgey system that they would have. As a result there are many workers who would - I'll explain why it's a benefit of the board. The board, if a worker is designated as having a salary of $20,000 a year as compared to $40,000 a year, the board doesn't have to spend as much in rehabilitating that worker because that worker then only has to get enough training so they can go out and find a $20,000 a year job or be deemed to be able to get a $20,000 a year job. Therefore, the board has to only provide sufficient training to get to that point.

If they have to get a $40,000 a year job to meet what they're deemed to have made before, the board has to provide more rehabilitation, more training, more support. Of course, the board as the employers' insurance system - let's be clear, that's exactly what it is, it is an insurance system for the employers. As the insurance system for the employers, their job is to limit the pay out of benefits. Not that different from auto insurance really in some ways.

The Dorsey report said there has to be a minimum amount that has to be provided. I was glad to see that and I'm glad to see that's a recommendation and I hope the board looks at that and creates a minimum that isn't farcical, is not a minimum that's going to result in people having to suffer as a result, but recognizes there has to be a minimum amount that reflects a real earning loss by those workers. I hope that's something that happens.

I also see the report talks about medical opinions. That is an issue that as a workers' adviser, I saw time and time again. You would have reports from specialists, from general

practitioners on behalf of workers saying - and I'll give you a specific example. Workers who would have a herniated disc, there were MRIs or CAT scans that showed that they had herniated discs, Mr. Speaker, and as a result of that, they had doctors who were giving opinions saying there was a pinched nerve, they had sciatica, and as a result there was clearly objective evidence that they had a herniated disc and deserved treatment and support for that. Yet the board would have their own medical doctors in-house look at it and find a way,

[Page 2806]

surprisingly at times - I would be shocked how they would masterly try to find an excuse to say no, that's not good enough, they've got chronic pain, that's a soft tissue injury, they've had that for a year, chronic pain, move them off the system.

Mr. Speaker, that's a problem with the system. I'm glad to see that the Dorsey report tries to address why the medical opinions - because, in the end, what happens is, those caseworkers rely on the medical opinions of their own doctors more than they do on specialists who are out there doing work. That's a problem with the system that I'm hoping the Dorsey report can at least begin to address. I think it's a bigger problem, one that needs to be addressed more thoroughly, but I'm at least beginning to see some evidence of the fact, some independent recognition that there's a problem in the board and how they deal with medical opinions.

Chronic pain, generally, Mr. Speaker, and I know I only have a couple of minutes, but I think it is important to note that he and the others on the commission note that the Functional Restoration Program and the way chronic pain is dealt with directly is not working, has not worked. I may note, this is something that most people may or may not know in this House, but there is a case that has been argued before the Supreme Court of Canada, arguing that Bill No. 90 was unconstitutional in the way it treated chronic pain people. I think it's the Martin case. If that case goes in favour of the Workers' Compensation Appeals Tribunal and the injured worker, Mr. Martin, it is going to throw a monkey wrench into the workers' compensation system in Nova Scotia once again, and we'll be back here debating it.

What our caucus said three or four years ago, I guess it's four years ago now, the Spring of 1999, about Bill No. 90 and its constitutionality, Mr. Speaker, could easily come true this summer if the Supreme Court of Canada agrees with Mr. Martin and the Workers' Compensation Appeals Tribunal. Yet, we walk about like the system is still perfect and the system has no problems. It has a lot of problems, Mr. Speaker, ones that need to be addressed, ones that Dorsey began to address. That is part of it, I agree. Let's get Dorsey going. Let's get those recommendations implemented. I would suggest, implement them all because I think this was an independent report that came from all stakeholders that clearly identified problems with the system. For once we had an independent analysis and, I may note, came from a review that was required under the system.

Mr. Speaker, I look forward to the government taking the time to continue beyond Dorsey to ensure the workers' compensation system works for workers, not just for employers. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I move that the House do now rise to meet again on the morrow at the hour of 12:00 noon. The House will sit from 12:00 noon to 7:30

[Page 2807]

p.m. There will be no late debate, by agreement, tomorrow. Everybody understands the reason why, because of the demise of our former Premier, Premier John Savage.

Tomorrow, I think, what members are here, if we are having scrums or anything with the media, we would take them downstairs, Mr. Speaker, to the lower lobby. The House will not be sitting on Friday. We will resume sittings again next Tuesday at the hour of 12:00 noon, and the House will sit from 12:00 noon until 8:00 p.m. The business of the day tomorrow, probably we'll start off with Public Bills for Second Reading, and we'll go through Bills No. 9, 17, and 52 and then we will move into the Committee of the Whole House on Bills and we'll deal with the bills that we presently have in the Committee of the Whole House on Bills.

So with those words, Mr. Speaker, I move that the House do now rise.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is to adjourn.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

The House is adjourned until 12:00 noon tomorrow.

[The House rose at 5:59 p.m.]

[Page 2808]

NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3)

RESOLUTION NO. 1408

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

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

Whereas the title of the last real dance hall left in Nova Scotia goes to the Shore Club in Hubbards; and

Whereas operating weekly dances in the summer for nearly 60 years and attracting serious dancers of a variety of different ages, some of whom travel from Halifax to take part; and

Whereas Rhys Harnish runs the Shore Club dances now and has done an impressive job of upholding this summer tradition;

Therefore be it resolved that all the members of this House thank those involved with the Hubbards Shore Club dance hall for continuing a community tradition and congratulate them for doing this with such success.

RESOLUTION NO. 1409

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

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

Whereas a daycare that opened in Fox Point last year is predicting that they will reach the break-even point by the end of 2003; and

Whereas Through the Years Daycare has been extremely well received in the community and boasts a professionally-trained and experienced staff; and

Whereas Through the Years offers pre-school and after-school programs for children in the community;

Therefore be it resolved that all the members of this House congratulate the staff of Through the Years Daycare on their success this year and wish them well as they continue to provide such a vital service to our community.

[Page 2809]

RESOLUTION NO. 1410

By: Hon. Cecil Clarke (Economic Development)

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

Whereas the Victorian Order of Nurses for Canada is a national, charitable, community-based health care organization, delivering health care services to over one million Canadians and their families annually; and

Whereas VON Canada nurses, health care workers and community volunteers have been caring for the lives and well-being of residents of Nova Scotia since 1897, situated in approximately 1,300 Canadian communities; and

Whereas the VON Cape Breton Metro Branch serves those in need throughout the majority of Cape Breton;

Therefore be it resolved that all the members of House use this week - VON Week - as an opportunity to applaud the Victorian Order of Nurses and congratulate its staff for the tremendous service they provide to our communities.

RESOLUTION NO. 1411

By: Mr. Richard Hurlburt (Yarmouth)

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

Whereas this year marks the 60th Anniversary of the Battle of the Atlantic with special celebrations in Liverpool, England, to commemorate this significant day in history; and

Whereas Veterans Affairs Canada sent a delegation of approximately 25 to take part in the events, including Yarmouth's Jim MacRae; and

Whereas Mr. MacRae was a member of the air force and participated in anti-submarine operations in World War II, successfully defending our waters against German U-boats;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House salute our delegation to the Battle of the Atlantic commemorations in England and take this opportunity to remember those who were part of this strategic military effort, but who did not return home.

[Page 2810]

RESOLUTION NO. 1412

By: Mr. Mark Parent (Kings North)

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

Whereas the Annapolis Valley Honour Choir has been in much demand lately with appearances on ATV and ASN's Breakfast Television and at Acadia University's Stars of the Festival; and

Whereas the choir recently won top honours at the Annapolis Valley Music Festival; and

Whereas the 60-member choir is currently preparing for a tour of Europe to take place this coming July;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House join me in congratulating the Annapolis Valley Honour Choir on their recent performances and wish them the very best of luck on their European tour.

RESOLUTION NO. 1413

By: Mr. Mark Parent (Kings North)

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

Whereas 15-year-old Woodville native Megan Sweet likes to tell younger amputees that it's okay to be a child amputee, a CHAMP, and not to be afraid; and

Whereas three years ago, Megan had to face a difficult decision which led to having her foot amputated due to an accident she had when she was a toddler; and

Whereas Megan attended the 2002 War Amps Atlantic Child Amputee Seminar as part of their CHAMP Program, where she was able to attend sessions that help amputees cope with their amputation and deal with those who may treat them differently;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House join me in expressing our admiration for Megan Sweet for she is truly an example for us all, and commend the War Amps Program for addressing the needs of amputees in our province and throughout Canada.

[Page 2811]

RESOLUTION NO. 1414

By: Mr. James DeWolfe (Pictou East)

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

Whereas Mike Stephen has realized a solution to the annoying problem of house flies; and

Whereas his invention, the House Fly Trap, will kill your house flies in a safe, environmentally-friendly way, eliminating the need for the use of chemicals; and

Whereas after more than two years of planning and with help from many local organizations, Mr. Stephen, President of Flystar International, is now distributing his product throughout Atlantic Canada, with 50,000 products ready to go this Spring, and plans to move forward on national and international distribution in the future;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House congratulate Mr. Stephen on his invention and entrepreneurial spirit, commend him for his use of local suppliers to complete his product, and wish him luck as he heads into the summer season with an antidote to a common household problem.

RESOLUTION NO. 1415

By: Mr. James DeWolfe (Pictou East)

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

Whereas the Hillside Girls Club recently held its final mother-daughter banquet at First United Church in Trenton; and

Whereas winners included Jennie Rector, seven, junior girl of the year, and junior girl of the year runners-up, Kaylee Cardiff, five, Shelby Phinney, eight, and Bryanna MacPherson, eight; and

Whereas winners also included Sara Taylor, senior girl of the year, and senior girl of the year runners-up, Heather Brimicombe, 11, and Staci Sweet, 12;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House congratulate these young women on their awards presented at the mother-daughter banquet and wish them well in the future.

[Page 2812]

RESOLUTION NO. 1416

By: Mr. Frank Chipman (Annapolis)

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

Whereas the regional curling competition has recently taken place; and

Whereas competing against seven other teams, the ARRA girls team won the silver medal at the tournament; and

Whereas the team consists of Maegan Barteaux, Heather Murray, Mary Maddalena and Carrie Murray;

Therefore be it resolved that all the members of this House congratulate these four curlers on their silver finish and wish them continued success in their future endeavours.

RESOLUTION NO. 1417

By: Mr. Frank Chipman (Annapolis)

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

Whereas the Canadian High School Cross-Country Championships have taken place; and

Whereas three young ladies from Annapolis County were part of the team that took part in the competition; and

Whereas Advocate's Mallory Ross won the silver medal, Annapolis Royal's Rebecca Coady won the bronze medal, and 2001 and 2002 Canadian High School Cross-Country Champ, Lesley Ross also completed;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Mallory Ross, Rebecca Coady and Lesley Ross on their showing at the Canadian High School Cross-Country Championships, and wish them continued success in their future endeavours.

[Page 2813]

RESOLUTION NO. 1418

By: Mr. Frank Chipman (Annapolis)

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

Whereas the Lawrencetown, Annapolis County, Fire Department held its annual banquet in mid-February by honouring a number of individuals with many years of service, as well as by welcoming a new chief and paying tribute to its outgoing chief; and

Whereas Eric Bent took over duties as chief this year from Doug MacLean who stepped down after eight years of meritorious service; and

Whereas while a number of firefighters were recognized, special mention has to be made of firefighter Charles Whitman for his 55 years of consecutive and continued service;

Therefore be it resolved that MLAs applaud the efforts of firefighter Charles Whitman for his many years of outstanding work to the Lawrencetown Fire Department, and to the department and all members for their exceptional work and solid commitment to their community.

RESOLUTION NO. 1419

By: Mr. Frank Chipman (Annapolis)

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

Whereas Annapolis Royal Police Chief Ross Campbell recently celebrated 20 years of policing with the town of Annapolis Royal; and

Whereas the job of policing today, no matter how large or small a municipal unit might be, is an unpredictable job which leads to many challenges; and

Whereas in honour of his 20 years of service to the Town of Annapolis Royal, Mayor John Kinsella presented Chief Campbell with a certificate of recognition and a pin for dedication and excellent service;

Therefore be it resolved MLAs in this Legislature commend Annapolis Royal Police Chief Ross Campbell for his tireless work, and wish him many more years of continued success.

[Page 2814]

RESOLUTION NO. 1420

By: Mr. Frank Chipman (Annapolis)

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

Whereas the Resource Recovery Fund Board annually holds an essay contest in honour of Nova Scotia Recycles Day, with this year's contest attracting approximately 7,000 entries; and

Whereas Bridgetown Regional High School's Ashlee Muise was the first runner-up in the Grade 12 age category for her essay entitled, Nova Scotia is recognized as a world leader in waste diversion, and was awarded a $500 scholarship; and

Whereas Ms. Muise says that before she began her research for her essay, she was unaware that our province was paving the way in terms of waste management;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Ashlee Muise on being awarded first runner-up in her grade category, and wish her success as she prepares for her post-secondary studies.

RESOLUTION NO. 1421

By: Mr. Frank Chipman (Annapolis)

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

Whereas the Nova Scotia Association of Unique Country Inns is a network of 24 inns that work together to promote each member to a broader tourist market; and

Whereas the members of the Nova Scotia Association of Unique Country Inns must be one of a kind and achieve high-quality standards to be admitted to the group; and

Whereas Greg and Val Pyle's Queen Anne Inn in Annapolis was recently made a member of this exclusive organization;

Therefore be it resolved that all the members of this House congratulate Greg and Val Pyle on the admittance of their Queen Anne Inn to the Nova Scotia Association of Unique Country Inns and wish them continued success in the vital tourism industry.

[Page 2815]

RESOLUTION NO. 1422

By: Mr. Frank Chipman (Annapolis)

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

Whereas for the first time, Annapolis County recently recognized long-time employees for their years of dedication and commitment; and

Whereas the five municipality staff and nine employees of the Annapolis County Adult Residential Centre received pins of recognition for service of 20 years or more; and

Whereas Donna Viner, Gloria Dumphy, Joyce King, Vicki Cress, Linda Wood, Anne Taylor, Nora Weir, Vicki Durling, Grace Ritchie, Jacquie Farrow-Lawrence, Holly Orde, Ron Sabean and Cheryl Mackintosh were all recognized for their long service to the county;

Therefore be it resolved that all the members of this House congratulate the Annapolis County employees who were recognized for their long service, and thank them for their contributions to the county.

RESOLUTION NO. 1423

By: Mr. Frank Chipman (Annapolis)

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

Whereas Greg French and Justin Spurr, two first-year students from the systems management networking program at the NSCC Annapolis Valley Campus in Middleton competed at the Skills Canada/Nova Scotia Skills Competition in Halifax; and

Whereas Greg French won a silver medal in the Software Applications contest, and Justin won a bronze medal in the PC Network Support competition; and

Whereas over 300 participants from the Nova Scotia Community College and private career colleges competed in 35 skilled trade, technological and employability skills contests at the competition;

Therefore be it resolved that all the members of this House congratulate Justin Spurr and Greg French on their achievements at the Skills Canada/ Nova Scotia Skills Competition, and wish them well in their future endeavours.

[Page 2816]

RESOLUTION NO. 1424

By: Mr. Frank Chipman (Annapolis)

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

Whereas Phillip Gartner's steady hand and good eye served him well at the 2003 Cadet National Marksmanship Competition in Iqualit; and

Whereas the Grade 12 student and member of the No. 517 Air Cadet Corps in Greenwood finished fourth in a field of 130 at the competition; and

Whereas Phillip and his four teammates will now have the opportunity to represent Canada at an international shooting competition which will be held next February;

Therefore be it resolved that all the members of this House congratulate Phillip Gartner on his success at the 2003 Cadet National Marksmanship Competition, and wish him continued success as he competes on the provincial, national and international levels.

RESOLUTION NO. 1425

By: Mr. Frank Chipman (Annapolis)

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

Whereas it was a class trip to the Nova Scotia Archives that sent Bill Gerrior, a retired school principal, on a 20-year journey to uncover his roots; and

Whereas on that trip, Mr. Gerrior discovered his ancestral family, the Girouards, who first came to Acadia from France in 1640, settling in what is now Granville Ferry and later in what is now Tupperville, living there until they were scattered after the deportation of 1755; and

Whereas Mr. Gerrior has compiled his extensive history and research into a series of books entitled, Acadian Awakenings, the first of these, France and Acadia, has just been published and recently launched;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Bill Gerrior on the publishing of the first of his books, detailing the lifestyles, trials and successes of his ancestral family, people who are part of our rich Acadian history.

[Page 2817]

RESOLUTION NO. 1426

By: Mr. Frank Chipman (Annapolis)

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

Whereas David Hankinson has recently been named chair of the Lawrencetown Area Community Partners Association; and

Whereas founded in 2001 by residents of Lawrencetown, the mandate for the volunteer, non-profit organization is to promote a vibrant community to live and work and attract tourism to the region; and

Whereas boasting some of the most beautiful scenery in Nova Scotia and just a short drive from Halifax, the LACPA is hoping to encourage tourists to stop in their region instead of merely driving through it;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate David Hankinson on his new post of chair of the Lawrencetown Area Community Partners Association and congratulate all of the citizens involved in LACPA for their part in promoting their region.

RESOLUTION NO. 1427

By: Mr. Frank Chipman (Annapolis)

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

Whereas an historical crop in Nova Scotia, flax has a wealth of nutrition when processed into flour; and

Whereas taking advantage of space in the market, Middleton's Howard Selig incorporated Flaxflour in March 2001 to process the nutrient, selling his flour to approximately 50 health care facilities in the province, as well as health stores and local co-op outlets; and

Whereas Mr. Selig graduated from Acadia University with a Bachelor of Science in Nutrition, then proceeded to open his first business, Valley Nutrition and Food Services, selling nutritional foods and offering nutritional consulting, before advancing on to Flaxflour;

[Page 2818]

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House thank Howard Selig for giving nutrition-minded consumers an option when it comes to flour, and congratulate him on his success fulfilling a niche market.