The Nova Scotia Legislature

The House adjourned:
October 26, 2017.

HANSARD16-01

DEBATES AND PROCEEDINGS

Speaker: Honourable Kevin Murphy

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/



Third Session

THURSDAY, OCTOBER 13, 2016

TABLE OF CONTENTSPAGE

ARRIVAL OF LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR
1
SPEECH FROM THE THRONE
2
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS:
An Act Respecting Oaths of Office, Hon. L. Diab »
13
SPEECH FROM THE THRONE:
Moved - Mr. K. Irving »
14
Seconded - Ms. J. Treen »
18
ADDRESS IN REPLY:
22
Adjourned debate
27
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Fri., Oct. 14th at 9:00 a.m
28

[Page 1]

HALIFAX, THURSDAY, OCTOBER 13, 2016

Sixty-second General Assembly

Third Session

2:00 P.M.

SPEAKER

Hon. Kevin Murphy

DEPUTY SPEAKERS

Mr. Gordon Wilson, Mr. Keith Irving

[The Third Session of the 62nd General Assembly was opened with historic ceremony on a warm, clear day.]

SERGEANT-AT-ARMS: His Honour, the Lieutenant Governor.

[The Lieutenant Governor, the Honourable J.J. Grant, preceded by members of the Official Escort, his Private Secretary, his ADC, and by Mr. David Fraser, Sergeant-at-Arms, bearing the Mace, entered the House of Assembly Chamber. The Lieutenant Governor then took his seat on the Throne.

The Sergeant-at-Arms then departed and re-entered the Chamber, followed by the Speaker, the Honourable Kevin Murphy; the Chief Clerk of the House, Neil Ferguson; and the Assistant Clerk, Annette Boucher.]

SERGEANT-AT-ARMS: It is the wish of His Honour, the Lieutenant Governor, that the ladies and gentlemen be seated.

SPEECH FROM THE THRONE

[Page 2]

THE LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR: Nova Scotia is built on the shoulders of all of those who have gone before us. Those who have contributed to us, and this place, with their hard work and dedication to neighbour and community, and those who loved this province, and its people, as each of us does in this Chamber today.

It seems only fitting then that before we look to our future, we reflect, remember, and honour some great Nova Scotians we have lost since our government's last Speech from the Throne. People we remember with fondness and gratitude.

We remember history-making women Flora MacDonald and Chief Justice Constance Glube.

Chief Justice Lorne Clarke and the Honourable Stewart McInnes, two Nova Scotians whose impact on Canadian law will be felt for years to come.

Dr. Ed Kinley and Dr. Oscar Shiu Yuet Wong, both respected physicians and recipients of the Order of Nova Scotia. And Dr. Jack Yazer, an immigrant who gave so much back to Cape Breton.

We remember community leaders Graham Downey, Walter Fitzgerald, and Dugger McNeil. Former Defence Minister Robert Coates, who represented the Amherst area for more than 30 years, MP for Southwest Nova, Harry Verran, and Senator Al Graham.

Neville Gilfoy, a veteran of the publishing industry and a true champion for Nova Scotia.

MLAs Donnie McInnes and Mike DeLory. And we remember those who walked these halls not so long ago - our friends Sid Prest and Allan Rowe.

To their families and neighbours, our sincere condolences and sympathy for your loss - for our loss as a province.

It is my great honour and privilege to welcome you to the Third Session of the 62nd General Assembly of the Nova Scotia Legislature.

We have come together today in this historic house, the oldest Legislature in the country, located on the traditional territory of the Mi'kmaq Nation, with whom we share a history and a common goal - to build a strong and great province.

We are resilient, creative, and hard working. We have the people, we have the place, and we are ready to learn from one another and prosper together. It begins with our children, it celebrates the wisdom of our seniors, and welcomes the diverse voices of all of our citizens.

[Page 3]

This is why our government is among the first provinces to sign a joint agreement on Treaty Education for children - and adults - to learn about our shared history and responsibilities.

We recognize our African Nova Scotian Heritage and are proud to support the need to find closure after systemic abuse at the Home for Colored Children. We have initiated an inquiry and restorative process. And it is my government's hope this will help those who suffered, to heal.

We have also listened to the concerns of our Acadian community, and our minister will soon announce a plan to better serve their needs to ensure their language and culture is recognized and celebrated.

Early next year, the first Culture Action Plan will be released and will reflect the input of hundreds of Nova Scotians, including key partners in the Acadian, Gaelic, and Mi'kmaq communities.

We are a diverse and proud people - in a province where politicians before us never shied away from making bold decisions. And neither will this government.

This coming session, our government will put forward a progressive legislative agenda that will strengthen protection of pension benefits, increase economic development tools for Halifax Regional Municipality, improve accessibility for those with disabilities, and enhance protections and access to child support payments.

Nova Scotia was the first province in Atlantic Canada to give women the right to vote. And today our government continues to stand beside women, in times of strength. Just look around: we appointed the first female Deputy Premier, the first female Attorney General, and as a government we have made great strides in appointing more women to serve on boards across this province, and in senior roles in government.

This government supports women and their families in times of need. We increased funding for transition houses and second stage housing to help support women and children in crisis. Basic operational costs to these organizations have gone up, yet their budgets have remained the same. So, we are spending $11.5 million to support programs to help women at risk. And, to better ensure privacy and understanding, this government will expand the Domestic Violence Court.

We have increased support, to $6 million annually, to Family Resource Centres. It is here where infants and children can get a better start in life and learn to thrive. Children born into abuse or poverty are among our most vulnerable, and my government believes it is our duty to protect them.

[Page 4]

We also believe all citizens deserve a chance to succeed and recognize that some need a helping hand to reach their potential.

This year, we are spending an additional $3.6 million for the Early Intensive Behavioural Intervention program to ensure more young children with autism have access to specialized therapy.

We have also worked to eliminate the wait-list for the Early Intervention Program, helping families and children from birth to school age who have a diagnosis or are showing signs of a developmental delay. Our investments now ensure families get service within 30 days of registering.

We invested $6.6 million to support parents in need of affordable child care. We also increased the salaries of child care workers, predominantly women, moving them to the national average and giving them the opportunity for professional development.

As a government, we have made it a priority to ensure that more Nova Scotians have access to affordable housing. That's why our government cut wait-lists by 10 per cent, and our goal is to do even better.

We have teamed up with the federal government to inject an additional $70 million in affordable housing investments. This government believes in helping those who need it most and offering support to those who simply need a helping hand.

We have made investments into the Services for Persons with Disabilities Program and, through legislation, we will make our province more accessible. This will ensure easier access and provide a stronger sense of independence to our citizens who do not allow their disabilities to limit them. Nova Scotians need to see themselves reflected in our public institutions, and that is why we are so proud as a government to have our Speaker's chair accessible, the first in our history.

As a government, it is our job to provide the space for all of our citizens to succeed. Those born here, and our newcomers.

When first elected, we were given advice by the One Nova Scotia Commission, through the Ivany Report. We were told if we want to improve our economy we must grow our population. We took that advice, and we got to work. In 2015 the province launched two new business immigration streams to attract international entrepreneurs and to retain international graduates of provincial universities and colleges.

The international graduate entrepreneur stream is the first of its kind in Canada. It helps tap into the potential of our post-secondary institutions that welcome students from around the world.

[Page 5]

We doubled our immigration capacity to 1,350 per year - the only province in Atlantic Canada to fulfill its targets.

Ottawa recognized this province's hard work and agreed to increase the number of economic immigrants Nova Scotia can nominate per year, bumping up our nomination cap by 300. Our immigration success would not be possible without the good citizens of this province opening their hearts and their homes to newcomers, many of whom have chosen to stay.

A recent report by Statistics Canada shows Nova Scotia's population at an all-time high. In fact, more immigrants made Nova Scotia their home in the first six months of 2016 than in all of last year or in any of the past 10 years. Our population growth is part of this government's overall vision to grow the economy.

Our government is acutely aware of the importance of retaining our youth. We have advanced the Youth Employment Action Plan, which focuses on creating opportunities and jobs right here in Nova Scotia.

By developing innovative programs, we have established partnerships with businesses to create jobs for recent graduates. And we are working with industry and people in skilled trades to invest in job training.

In 2015, the government launched the Graduate to Opportunity program, a partnership with small business. Small businesses hiring recent graduates will have government pay 25 per cent of their first year's salary. In the second year of employment, government will pay 12.5 per cent of their salary.

The program helps recent graduates develop "on the job experience" like Nick Wagner, a recent graduate who was hired by Rosborough Boats in Lakeside, Nova Scotia. Nick is gaining valuable experience in the field of advanced vessel construction for a variety of professional marine customers. Graduate to Opportunity is helping young Nova Scotians find jobs here at home. Close to 200 employers and more than 200 grads have participated.

Our government will soon announce expansions to this program to keep young talent here in Nova Scotia, where they belong.

This government understands that it is hard to find a job if you've never had one. And so our START program assists employers willing to hire people who need work experience.

My government recently doubled funding support for apprenticeship to create more opportunities for young people by matching them with employers. TestDrive, a Summer Youth Apprenticeship Program, introduces young people to career opportunities in the skilled trades. Caleb Erskine took advantage of this program and got a head start on his apprenticeship at the same time he was earning high school credits in Grade 12 at Musquodoboit Rural High School.

[Page 6]

Through Nova Scotia Business Inc.'s payroll rebate program, the government provides additional incentives for companies in Nova Scotia who hire recent graduates. The government is also helping those university students who need it most. If a student finishes their university degree in four years, their provincial student debt is forgiven.

All of these programs are part of our government's overall strategy to train our youth, to keep them home to be near their families, and to support the economic growth of our province. And it is working. The Youth Employment Strategy helped more than 2,000 young Nova Scotians last year alone. And I am proud to say that since 2013, my government has hired more than 1,500 younger workers into the civil service.

This would not be possible without the support of our public servants - a strong, focused, and dedicated group of Nova Scotians. My government is proud to stand beside them as we continue the journey to better our province, and we will stand shoulder to shoulder with our business community. As a government, we are doing exactly what we are asking business to do when it comes to hiring younger workers who will stay and build a stronger Nova Scotia.

My government also recognizes buying a first home remains a challenge to staying in the province. And so we want to assist first-time homebuyers. In the New Year, my government will explore ways to break down the barriers to home ownership by introducing a down payment assistance pilot program.

This government also wants to support those who never had the chance to graduate from high school. Each year hundreds of Nova Scotia adults take the initiative to build a better future for themselves and their families by obtaining their high school equivalency. Government will remove the testing fee for taking the General Education Diploma and engage in a review of the Adult Learning system.

We understand that growing the population is a necessary step on the path to this province's greater economic prosperity, but we also know that past approaches to economic development failed to produce sustained, meaningful, economic growth. We decided to change the way we do business and take a new approach to economic development focusing on innovation, research, and capitalizing on our advantages.

We are surrounded by an ocean that has given us the gift of prosperity and wealth for generations - and now, with strategic investments, our seafood is shipped internationally. Nova Scotia's focus on China has helped grow that market exponentially. Along with strong demand and prices in traditional markets, seafood businesses have increased their export sales to $1.6 billion, last year alone. That is a 33 per cent increase.

[Page 7]

Our traditional seafood industry is booming, and we are making strategic investments to responsibly grow our aquaculture sector, which will spur economic growth in coastal communities and create jobs. Our government has created a comprehensive new regulatory framework. Nova Scotia is now poised to unlock the potential of this industry and sustainably grow aquaculture to new levels.

My government also recognizes the importance of agricultural businesses to rural economic development. Under this government's watch, our agriculture exports have grown by 21 per cent to $385 million per year, and we're going to do even better. This year, the government launched a 12-million-dollar strategy to help grow the province's wine industry. It means more grapes planted, more research and development, and ultimately more export growth.

This government has made strategic decisions to capitalize on what we have and how to sell it by getting out of the way and allowing businesses to lead. Take tourism for example. People from around the world visit Nova Scotia for our natural beauty, our history and culture. The government created Tourism Nova Scotia, a Crown Corporation led by private partners. Business owners are now working directly with tourism operators around the province to create unique, compelling experiences for visitors.

Now, visitors can dine on the floor of the Bay of Fundy at low tide, thanks to the Flying Apron, or stargaze near the Tobeatic with the help of tourism operator Trout Point. And more than 1,000 people have stepped onto Lucien LeBlanc's lobster boat for a tour of the string of islands the LeBlancs have been fishing alongside for centuries.

These business-led efforts offer tourists more than a place to stay; now they can connect to our province's natural beauty and rich cultural experiences. The tourism sector is growing, creating more business and more jobs here at home, and we are on track for one of the best tourism seasons in our province's history.

While we continue to value our traditional sectors, this government is also investing in technology and innovation. We are in a unique position with a geographic location and connection to the sea. And so it only makes sense as a government to take advantage of that geography.

The province and the federal government recently announced $19.7 million in funding for COVE, a hub for ocean innovation. COVE will provide start-up communities with access to some of the best researchers in the world, allowing private sector companies to take ideas to market. Nova Scotia is rapidly becoming a world-class centre for ocean research. Just recently the federal government teamed up with private sector partners from this province to announce a $220 million Ocean Frontier Institute. This is the workplace of the next generation, and this government wants to support our future entrepreneurs.

[Page 8]

We are encouraged by the leadership of VOLTA, an incubator to support start-up companies where one idea can grow and expand into a thriving business. In three years, since our government has come to office, VOLTA has produced 40 companies. Of those 40 companies, 82 per cent are still in business, raising $32 million in equity financing with over 200 employees.

Every sector of our economy has to innovate to prosper. This government supports innovation. And to prove that, we will establish an Innovation Procurement Process. It will enable provincial departments to purchase goods and services from small and medium-sized enterprises that need early stage customers to help their businesses grow.

This government believes in the power of creative thinking and will ensure that people with good ideas have the opportunity to set up and grow businesses here at home. My government wants Nova Scotians to take advantage of the 10 universities and the 13-campus community college by accessing the facilities, equipment, and research support to continue to innovate and compete on the world stage. That is why this government will continue to support the Sandbox initiative - university and college-based spaces that have experts and state-of-the-art equipment and technologies available to help students and members of the public test their ideas for commercial potential.

This government will invest in research that will have the greatest positive impact on our economy. We will create Research Nova Scotia - an organization that will combine existing provincial research bodies into a single entity. Research Nova Scotia will expand our research capacity by helping our researchers unlock federal and commercial funding partners.

It will be tasked with establishing a new Research Opportunities Fund that will help identify and support research-based projects in areas of particular importance to Nova Scotia. Research Nova Scotia will attract external funding partners to create research jobs that will ensure our talented youth are working here in Nova Scotia on projects that are directly linked to our prosperity.

My government also believes in the value of small businesses and the need to access capital. Since coming to office, the government has doubled the size of the Credit Union Small Business Loan program to $50 million and increased the loan guarantee from 75 per cent to 90 per cent.

My government will continue to help grow the creative economy by partnering with the film industry, book publishers, the music industry, the craft sector, and others in the creative industries. We recognize that beyond the immense social benefit that comes with a vibrant culture, this sector also offers significant economic opportunities that are helping to grow our provincial GDP.

[Page 9]

This government is also helping small business operators succeed wherever they want to work in this province. We are investing $6 million to improve high-speed Internet access and quality, and we will announce further investments in the near future. We are pleased that private partners are also investing to increase access for their customers.

Our response to climate change also presents an economic opportunity. Thanks to the hard work of every Nova Scotian, our province is a national leader in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. We are generating more power from renewable energy and taking even greater steps to conserve.

We are working closely with the federal government to find a Nova Scotia solution to further combat climate change - one that recognizes all we've done, one that won't punish the pocketbooks of Nova Scotians, and one that will ensure we remain a provincial leader in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Our government is continuing the good work of previous governments by developing improved transmission capacity throughout Atlantic Canada. The Maritime Link will provide clean electricity and make it easier for our province to export renewable energy to market. My government believes it is our responsibility to protect the environment for generations, so that they can thrive and succeed.

But we can't have a stronger Nova Scotia without a stronger public education system. We are a diverse community, and every student comes from a different socio-economic background. And my government firmly believes education is the great equalizer.

We are preparing our children for the jobs of tomorrow by completing the first comprehensive reform of the education system in 25 years. We are now introducing coding in the classroom and are focused on improving student achievement in literacy, numeracy, and creativity. We are increasing the amount we invest in public education by $65 million.

We listened to teachers, families, and students who told us they were concerned about large classes. We responded by capping class sizes in all elementary grades. We have hired over 500 new teachers in the last three years to ease the heavy burden many teachers are feeling. We also hired more Reading Recovery teachers, early literacy specialists, math mentors, early intervention math teachers, and mental health clinicians. These investments ensure students get the support they need and allow teachers to do what they do best - inspire our children.

Our province's Reading Recovery teachers are changing the lives of children around the province - just ask Jana Logue-Arbou. Her skills as a Reading Recovery teacher helped her daughter Jacklyn, who has Down's syndrome, to better read and write. She also helped a young boy - a Grade 1 student in the Annapolis Valley. His lack of verbal skills meant he didn't speak to teachers or classmates and was so withdrawn, he walked around with his hood covering his head. Now, after working with his Reading Recovery teacher, his hood is down and his confidence is up. He smiles and says hello to teachers in the school hallways.

[Page 10]

My government will continue to invest in specialists such as speech language pathologists and school psychologists, as they provide support for students with complex needs. More specialists will allow teachers to focus on achieving education outcomes for all students. These investments will be made following consultation with classroom teachers.

We want our children to succeed, and we want to give them the best possible start. Studies show that a nutritious breakfast improves learning for all students. Our government will work with partners to expand school breakfast programs across the province so that no student goes to class hungry.

When the government helps those who need it most - by improving access to employment, child care, and early childhood education, or access to affordable housing - it helps break the cycle of poverty. And experts have confirmed that income and employment impact people's health and lifestyle.

My government firmly believes a stronger Nova Scotia economy will lead to a healthier society. But we also have to strengthen our health care system.

Before we came into government, the province's health care system was fractured. It made co-operation and collaboration difficult, which limited access for patients. It added unnecessary layers of bureaucracy. When we merged health authorities, we took the money we saved on administration and immediately invested it into front-line services. The merger broke down barriers and now patients can access services anywhere in the province in a timely manner.

MRI wait times are down. In 2015-16, 745 more patients received MRIs because of the improved processes. Wait times for orthopaedic surgeries are also improving - since 2013, orthopaedic procedures have increased by 1,200 - that is 1,200 additional Nova Scotians whose wait for surgery ended. The merged Health Authority also allows for better planning.

The QEII redevelopment project, otherwise known as Nova Scotia's health care complex, is well under way and, when complete, will provide better access and services to people across the province.

This government continues on the path to meet its goal of a doctor for every Nova Scotian. We have increased spending to recruit doctors, but without strong collaborative care clinics, young doctors won't practise here. They have told us they want to practise medicine in a team-based environment, where family doctors work with other health care professionals, such as nurse practitioners or family practice nurses, physiotherapists, dieticians, or social workers to provide comprehensive care to their patients.

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My government is investing an additional $3.6 million to expand access to these collaborative health teams. Which means 14,000 more Nova Scotians will get access to a family doctor and a team of health care professionals; health care they need, when they need it.

Is there more work to be done? Of course. But we are on the right track and must continue to create a modern health care system. That's why we invested in MyHealthNS. It gives patients convenient, electronic access to their personal health information, in some cases saving a visit to the clinic, which opens up appointments to those who need to see a doctor today.

Long-term care continues to be a priority for this government. Since coming into office, wait-lists have come down but demand for quality service continues to rise.

Our government has listened to what families are telling us, and we will be announcing strategic investments to ensure our seniors have the care they deserve. But we also know that many Nova Scotians want to stay in their homes as long as possible. That's why my government increased funding for home care by more than $59 million since 2013, which reduced wait-lists in the province by 70 per cent.

This government believes in moving forward and finding new, innovative solutions to tackle long-standing problems in our health care system. Some problems are more complex.

The mental health of our citizens is a worry for this government. We appointed an expert-led mental health care panel to help us ensure that our mental health services reflect the needs of those affected. The panel will continue to provide key recommendations to government that can be quickly implemented to support those in need.

This year, my government invested $274 million in mental health services, medications, and physicians. We are awarding mental health grants, and we are funding 29 mental health clinicians who will enhance support for children in schools across our province.

We also rely on those who know first-hand what it is like to live with mental illness. Carrie Lee is one of our citizens who helps others on their long journey of learning to live with mental illness. As a peer counsellor, Carrie Lee helps 21 people throughout Cumberland County - something she never thought possible earlier in her life when she was battling the demons of bipolar disorder and was close to taking her own life. As part of the province's expanded mental health and addictions services, she joined a team of peer counsellors and now offers help in a variety of ways - by text, email, or face-to-face contact - connecting with youth in crisis and supporting others as they travel their own path.

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This is what makes Nova Scotia special. We are a strong and supportive people - always at the ready to help, to offer a lending hand. And it's the life experience of our citizens that can help this province be great.

We are building caring communities where seniors can stay in their homes longer, stay in the workforce longer if they wish, access more housing options, and receive timely health care when they need it. We also want to create a space where our wisest citizens can share their knowledge, their expertise - where they can volunteer and stay active. We are an aging population, and while some may see this as a burden, this government believes our seniors are an asset. By the end of this year, our Seniors' Action Plan will celebrate that fact.

Nova Scotia is growing stronger, because of its citizens who rally around one another, in good times and in bad. People came together this summer to help those impacted by wildfires, and more recently, to help those dealing with flood waters.

This is who we are: a province of people who stand together and support one another. And my government will continue to work with you to build a stronger Nova Scotia. We are better, and we are stronger, when we work together.

God bless Nova Scotia.

God bless Canada.

God save the Queen.

[The Speaker and the Clerks left the Chamber.

The Lieutenant Governor left the Chamber preceded by his escorts and the Sergeant-at-Arms.

Mr. Speaker took the Chair.]

SERGEANT-AT-ARMS: His Honour the Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER » : Please be seated.

The honourable Minister of Immigration.

HON. LENA DIAB « » : Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the Attorney General, I beg leave to introduce a bill entitled An Act Respecting Oaths of Office.

[Page 13]

MR. SPEAKER « » : Ordered that the bill be read a second time on a future day.

His Honour, the Lieutenant Governor has been pleased to make a Speech to the members met in General Assembly, of which Speech, for greater accuracy, I have obtained a copy which the Chief Clerk will now read.

THE CLERK » : Nova Scotia is built on the shoulders of all of those who have gone before us. Those who have contributed to us, and this place, with their hard work and dedication to neighbour and community, and those who loved this province, and its people, as each of us does in this Chamber today.

It seems only fitting then that before we look to our future, we reflect, remember, and honour some great Nova Scotians we have lost since our government's last Speech from the Throne. People we remember with fondness and gratitude.

We remember history-making women Flora MacDonald and Chief Justice Constance Glube.

Chief Justice Lorne Clarke and the Honourable Stewart McInnes, two Nova Scotians whose impact on Canadian law will be felt for years to come.

Dr. Ed Kinley and Dr. Oscar Shiu Yuet Wong, both respected physicians and recipients of the Order of Nova Scotia. And Dr. Jack Yazer, an immigrant who gave so much back to Cape Breton.

We remember community leaders Graham Downey, Walter Fitzgerald, and Dugger McNeil. Former Defence Minister Robert Coates, who represented the Amherst area for more than 30 years, MP for Southwest Nova, Harry Verran, and Senator Al Graham.

Neville Gilfoy, a veteran of the publishing industry and a true champion for Nova Scotia.

MLAs Donnie McInnes and Mike DeLory. And we remember those who walked these halls not so long ago - our friends Sid Prest and Allan Rowe.

To their families and neighbours, our sincere condolences and sympathy for your loss - for our loss as a province.

MR. SPEAKER « » : The honourable Premier.

Hon. STEPHEN MCNEIL (The Premier) » : I very much appreciate the Clerk reading into the record once again the first page of this speech, which recognizes so many extraordinary Nova Scotians who have made a tremendous contribution not only to this House but also to the lives of every community across Nova Scotia. We had an opportunity once again to express our sympathies to their families, to their communities, and to their friends.

[Page 14]

Mr. Speaker, I move that we accept the remainder of the speech as read.

MR. SPEAKER « » : The motion is that the Speech from the Throne be taken as read.

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 South.

MR. KEITH IRVING « » : Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to rise today to move the Address in Reply to the Speech from the Throne as read by his Honour Brigadier-General, the Honourable J.J. Grant.

I would like to begin my remarks by recognizing you, Mr. Speaker, for the steady hand that you apply to maintaining order in the House and ensuring each session is productive. Thank you for your dedication to this Chamber.

I also want to thank my colleagues from both sides of the House for all of your hard work and for your dedication to our province and to the people of Nova Scotia.

Finally, I would like to formally extend my congratulations and welcome to the newest member of this House, the member for Halifax Needham.

It is a great privilege to stand here in this historic House before my colleagues, representing the constituency of Kings South, located in the beautiful Annapolis Valley. When I stood in this Chamber for the very first time, replying to the Speech from the Throne, I pledged to represent the people of Kings South to the best of my ability each and every day.

In past assemblies, MLAs from Kings South have stood in this Chamber and spoken with great passion and sincerity about the fine people of Kings South. I have read their speeches, and I am humbled by the responsibility of continuing a long record of service to the citizens of Kings South. What I've learned most from my predecessors and my own recent experiences is what citizens value in their MLA: approachability, accessibility, an empathetic ear for the issues, and an ability to work within our government and with other levels of government in solving problems.

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As a former municipal councillor, one of the greatest lessons I learned was what a difference it makes when all levels of government work towards common solutions. In Kings South, it has been an honour and a pleasure to work with the Honourable Scott Brison, President of the Treasury Board, in addressing the issues that will serve to unlock the economic potential of Kings County. From investments in research and marketing in the wine industry to infrastructure investments in our highways and at Acadia University to the expansion of the cycling Blue Route, this partnership approach to investments in Kings South has already yielded significant outcomes.

Mr. Speaker, one of the first decisions I faced after my election three years ago was where to locate my constituency office. As my colleagues know, this can be a perilous decision because constituents rightfully expect their MLA to be visible. What happened next became far more successful than I ever envisioned. I located my constituency office in my home community of Wolfville, but I also took my office on the road twice a month, setting up shop in community halls throughout Kings South. From Cambridge in the west end of the riding to Hants Border in the east to Blue Mountain in the south and all the community halls in between, I have met with citizens in their neighbourhoods, advertising my satellite offices with a combination of pre-recorded phone messages, social media, and a sandwich board out front of the community hall.

It is in those community halls that I hear about the issues that equip me with the perspectives and the information to bring here to Province House and to my own caucus. These meetings also enable me to take information directly to citizens on the investments and policy direction of the province.

Mr. Speaker, it is my experience that taking the time to hear the perspective of citizens in their neighbourhoods and offer information on their issues from the perspective of government invariably leads to positive exchange of ideas. We may not always agree, but more often than not there is a residual benefit from these conversations long after they are concluded.

The One Nova Scotia Commission, in their Now or Never report, challenged us to think about and act on the daunting demographic and economic challenges facing our province. Kings South faced many of the challenges outlined in the Now or Never report, including the out-migration of our young people, but as anyone who has driven through the Gaspereau Valley has seen in recent years, Kings South is also at the forefront of an economic transformation. I have seen first-hand the value of a sector-wide collaborative approach to economic development.

In three short years, there have been key investments made in the wine industry to promote research and innovation in this sector at NSCC and Acadia to expand marketing and export opportunities of our wines by the private sector and to increase the growing capacity of the industry by developing new vineyards. These types of sector-wide investments benefit all of our wine and grape producers. Make no mistake, our Nova Scotia wine industry is being noticed, as evidenced by the success of Benjamin Bridge Nova 7, now distributed across the country, and by the many awards our wines are receiving nationally and internationally. A world-class wine region is emerging in Nova Scotia.

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One of the noticeable benefits of a rapidly-growing sector is that it attracts young entrepreneurs. Earlier this summer, I met a young server at a local winery who had moved back to Nova Scotia from Ontario wine country, with her husband working as a winemaker at another winery. They moved back so that they could position themselves in the formative years of an emerging wine industry.

It's not just wine that is attracting all the attention. We have young entrepreneurs in Kings County opening cideries and distilleries and in the IT services that are needed to support these businesses. Our youngest entrepreneurs and employees are, by their actions, signalling to other young people that there are opportunities for them in the Nova Scotia economy.

I was pleased to hear the focus on education in the Throne Speech. I have met with teachers to hear first-hand the pressures they face in the classroom. What is clear from these discussions is that while progress on key issues - such as capped classroom size, literacy specialists, mental health specialists, and early intervention math teachers - is recognized, reforms and new investments take time to make a day-to-day difference. This is what I tell parents who talk to me about their children's education: the province is continuing to make key investments and will continue this momentum of investing in our schools and improving working conditions for our teachers so that we can improve the quality of education and outcomes in our schools.

Diverse communities are stronger communities. So I'm looking forward to working with the Acadian and Mi'kmaq communities in my riding to implement our province's first cultural action plan, as outlined in today's Throne Speech.

Kings South is home to two First Nations communities: the Glooscap First Nation near Hantsport and the Annapolis Valley First Nation in Cambridge. I believe I speak for all my colleagues when I say how much I appreciated hearing from the Premier that "we are all treaty people." As announced today in the Throne Speech, our students will soon be learning about treaties and our shared history and responsibilities. This is the spirit of reconciliation.

Mr. Speaker, as I listened to today's Throne Speech I heard about multiple initiatives to close gaps in services for our most vulnerable citizens. I was listening to this because one of the most gratifying aspects of being an MLA is to be involved in community-driven projects whose focus is taking care of our most vulnerable citizens. There is no better example of this in Kings South than the project now under construction, the Building Our Dream project of L'Arche. The L'Arche community, with terrific support from many volunteers and 550 individual donors, raised in our small community $2.8 million, including an investment by the province of $200,000. This project is to renovate and expand their services in the Annapolis Valley for people with intellectual disabilities.

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We witnessed a similar community-driven effort by over 5,000 committed supporters of the Valley Hospice Foundation who raised $4 million for construction of a new hospice in the Valley. I was pleased to stand with the Premier and the Minister of Health and Wellness not long ago when we announced a provincial contribution for $1.7 million in annual operating costs for the hospice.

Mr. Speaker, we've also witnessed in Kings South the extraordinary effort of citizens to welcome and support our newest citizens. I've been genuinely affected by what I have seen in the compassion and far-reaching support for the families sponsored through the Syrian refugee program. Some of the core support for our Syrian families in Wolfville has come from former immigrants to this province who are now successful business people and educators. I know that this support and welcome has been extended by communities from across this province to many Syrian and other refugee families and, if I may, I would ask this House to join me in thanking all Nova Scotians for their many hours of work resettling our newest Nova Scotian families. These experiences with community-driven initiatives have shown me first-hand that our communities excel and are more resilient when we work together to solve problems and open the doors to opportunities.

Is our work complete? Absolutely not. The Now or Never report talks of a decade needed to reboot our economy, but as we have heard today and as I have witnessed first-hand in Kings South, taking a strategic sector-wide approach to the economy has produced results. As well, changes to the complex structures and programs in health care and education and community services take many years, but I am very encouraged that this Speech from the Throne lays out the next leg of our journey for strengthening our communities.

Mr. Speaker, before I conclude my remarks I would like to acknowledge the unwavering support of my wife, Katherine, and my son, Simon. While it is the people of Kings South who provide me with the honour to serve as their MLA, it is the love and support and sound counsel of my family that gives me the ability to serve.

Mr. Speaker, it is now my pleasure to thank His Honour for the Throne Speech, and with great pride and great confidence I move a motion that the Speech from the Throne, as read by His Honour the Lieutenant Governor of Nova Scotia, do pass.

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

MS. JOYCE TREEN « » : It is an honour to rise today to second the Address in Reply to the Speech from the Throne as read by his Honour Brigadier-General, the Honourable J.J. Grant.

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As I stand here today in my place in this beautiful House of Assembly, I am so humbled. With three years behind me in my job as MLA for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage, I can wholeheartedly say that I feel I made the right choice to run and represent the people from South Woodside, Shearwater, Eastern Passage, Cow Bay, and Cole Harbour.

I can still remember waking up the day after the election in October 2013 and saying, now what do I do? Where do I start? Where's the manual to tell me what to do? Well, there's no manual, so my entrepreneur skills flipped into gear, and I have not looked back. It has been a journey of learning every day, and every day is different. I have learned to look at people differently. The way I once viewed a person's situation has changed, and now I am even more open than before. I have always been a good listener from my previous job, but now I have more knowledge and understanding of why things happen. My listening skills have grown, and I have more empathy and understanding.

With that said, we all know the joys of helping our constituents through a difficult situation, but it is the frustration when we cannot that keeps us awake at night trying to think of a way to help. This brings me to the two committees I am a member of: the Community Services and Human Resources Committees. Both are great sources of information that I learn lots from, which I take back to use to help my constituents. The witnesses that present at my committees always bring new sources of information on services and programs, and they have great ideas on how to make things better for the people of Nova Scotia.

My job as MLA, which I do love so much, has not come without challenges. Trying to make decisions on behalf of Nova Scotians as a whole is very difficult, with people's views and outlooks being so diverse. It makes meeting all their expectations almost impossible, but I do my very best, with the Premier - who we affectionately refer to as "The Boss" - leading the way and making the tough decisions. He has provided the guidance we need as a government.

One of our biggest struggles has been the need for doctors. With so many doctors retiring and the newer physicians not wanting to work the long hours in order to spend more time with their families, people are left without a family physician.

Part of my constituency has access to clinics and walk-in health care, but Eastern Passage, Shearwater, and Cow Bay do not. I have made it a priority to work towards a collaborative care facility for them. The communities together have 14,000 residents and need this resource.

The collaborative care model is the answer to health care for Nova Scotians. The government has recognized that putting doctors, nurse practitioners, family nurses, clinicians, dietitians, and other health care professionals under one roof as the answer. Everybody wins by helping each other as a team and delivering more efficient health care. This government has several collaborative health care facilities in place and is moving forward with this as a model for our future health care needs.

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My constituency has been identified with a need for community health care. I am now working with my government to make it a reality. I think the collaborative care model is the future to delivering good health care.

The introduction of MyHealthNS, where patients, along with their doctors, can access their own health information on a secure online service empowers Nova Scotians to navigate their own health care along with their health care professionals.

While mental health remains a challenge, government has increased accessibility for the entire province to access the toll-free mental health crisis line, a 24-hour resource for those struggling and needing help. The SchoolsPlus program has expanded to more schools, with the goal of all families of schools in Nova Scotia receiving this service.

We have recently created a mental health innovation panel led by Dr. Stan Kutcher and Starr Dobson, to look into how to find the best solutions for treating mental health and addiction issues. I believe in this panel of professionals to research and find best practices so we can deliver better mental health care that Nova Scotians deserve.

Seniors are always top of mind. Government has improved support so that seniors can stay in their homes longer, where they are happiest. We are doing this by making money available for home repairs, adding ramps and safety features. We are providing funding opportunities through Senior Safety Grants and Age-Friendly Community Grants. These programs help educate our seniors with information on how to stay safe in and out of their homes.

Two community groups from my constituency - Ocean View Continuing Care Centre and the Eastern Passage Community Safety Office Society - have received these grants and are doing marvellous work educating and helping seniors to stay safe and happy. We must continue to work hard as a government to look out for and care for our seniors, as they have done for us.

With the investment to the marketing of our Nova Scotia lobster and seafood, fishers and others are now receiving top dollar for their dangerous work. Seafood exports have increased by 33 per cent since 2014. Lobster exports continue to be the most valuable export overall from Nova Scotia, followed by crab, scallop, and shrimp. My fishers are happy and Nova Scotia is showcasing the quality of our seafood all over the world. (Applause)

I am very happy with the launch of Nova Scotia Works, the new employment service system. Cole Harbour and Eastern Passage have both received two new and improved employment services to help people find employment. The system was designed to reduce administration and infrastructure costs while bringing together all best practices that were already taking place in Nova Scotia. There will be more front-line staff to serve clients and engage with the employer seeking workers. They will be reaching out to the schools with a focus on job counselling for our youth.

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The system will expand services to all offices across the province to help people with the barriers to employment find work by using successful methods that were already being used in a few employment centres. It is all about taking the best methods and practices of the old system, and making it available to all Nova Scotians.

More immigrants this year have made Nova Scotia their home than in the past 10 years; 3,418 newcomers arrived here between January and June this year. We have welcomed more than 1,000 Syrian refugees through private, blended, and government- assisted sponsorship, with more arriving by the end of this year.

Government has developed new immigration pathways for international students. There is a new immigration stream called Nova Scotia Demand. It is an express entry to answer the need for labourers in certain markets.

I am proud to be part of a community and a province that has reacted and provided help to our new Syrian people and their families, showing them the kindness and generosity Nova Scotia is so famous for. (Applause)

Nova Scotia can also be proud of our environment achievements. We are on track to beat our 2020 goals to reduce greenhouse emissions by 24 per cent and government is protecting more natural spaces for Nova Scotians to enjoy. The government and Pictou Landing First Nation have an agreement in principle to clean up Boat Harbour and a timeline to stop the effluent from Northern Pulp going into Boat Harbour. New emission limits were created for the electricity sector for the next 15 years. Nova Scotians care about our environment, and we as a government are working hard to meet their expectations.

Tourism is another area that government has put a focus on. The Nova Scotia Tourism Agency has transformed into a private sector-led Crown Corporation. The new tourism organization has developed a strategy to meet its $4 billion revenue goal by building tourism confidence, attracting first-time visitors to the province, and focusing on world-class experiences. Nova Scotia has seen record growth, and who would not want to come to this beautiful province once you have discovered it?

Now, my constituency is home to Fisherman's Cove, which has seen, through new initiatives and hard work, an increase in tourist visits to this picturesque fishing village. Fisherman's Cove hosts many festivals and events all through the Spring, summer, and Fall. With its many shops, eateries, and scenic views, it is a day well spent. I continue to work closely with the board of directors to help make Fisherman's Cove a must-see for everyone.

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During my three years as MLA, I have to say that the greatest learning experience I have had is developing, introducing, and passing a piece of legislation. The Service Dog Act is a bill that respects the rights of handlers and their service dogs. It was a needed piece of legislation because, between the Blind Persons' Rights Act and the Human Rights Act, service dog users were being discriminated against. They were being denied the use of their service dogs to help them function with their individual disabilities. Just after being elected, I started meeting with community members concerned about what was happening, and I immediately wanted to help. Yes, I agreed with the handlers, there should be a law to protect people and their service dogs.

I quickly learned that making something law is a long road with many twists and turns. First came meetings with the service dog users, understanding how the dogs worked, and how they supported their handlers in their day-to-day lives. Government would never be able to afford the cost of all the work these dogs did if they used people instead. Then I had this great idea for a new law, and I had to get government's attention so that they, too, would see the need. So me being me, I began to meet with them and convince them of the need.

However, this was the easy part. Then, working with government, the private sector, and groups, it started to come together. Working with the Department of Justice, I learned all the steps and consultations that must take place. And of course, this all takes time.

I would like to thank everyone along the way for their guidance and their patience in showing me how. I have learned all the steps involved in creating a good piece of legislation, and as a Member of this House of Assembly, I have much respect for everything involved. After three years, my law was passed on May 17, 2016, with family, friends, handlers and their service dogs, and my colleagues watching. It was one of my proudest moments as an MLA and I will never forget it. To have been able to help service dog users live a better, happier life will always be in my heart.

Before closing, I would not be me if I did not speak of the new high school for Shearwater, Eastern Passage, and Cow Bay. Every day I drive by, and I can see the contractors busy on the site. The community is thankful, and so am I. After 16 years of lobbying for the school, it brings tears to my eyes every time I pass the school site with its spectacular ocean view. The next two years will be exciting, watching it being built from the bottom up. I will watch it every day, on my way to and from work, and I will do a security check at night. It's a dream the community never thought would happen, but I always knew that with hard work, they could, and they deserve it.

In closing, I would like to take a few minutes to thank several people, starting with the residents of my constituency, which is full of wonderful volunteers - hard-working, kind, and giving people. You make my job worth all the long hours and hard work. I am proud to be your Member of the Legislative Assembly and represent you in the Nova Scotia Government.

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To Kim, my amazing constituency assistant, you are my right arm and my left arm. Your hard work, your great work ethic, and your smiling heart make you the perfect person to work beside. Your love and passion for people of your community are your greatest attributes. The hours you spend listening to and consoling constituents and looking to help them are something you shine at. We have laughed together, we have cried together, and we have found many solutions together. I hope we are fortunate enough to have many more years together as a team helping the communities of Cole Harbour, Eastern Passage, and South Woodside.

Last but not least, to my loving husband and son, thank you for all you gave up not having me around all the time - the missed suppers, the weekend events, and the time as family. Thank you for allowing me to take the time to be the best I can be. I love you both to the moon and back.

I am honoured to second the motion that the Address in Reply to the Speech from the Throne do pass. Thank you.

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

HON. JAMIE BAILLIE « » : Mr. Speaker, let me begin by congratulating the two members who moved and seconded the Throne Speech today on their remarks.

I do have to say that this is without a doubt the weakest Throne Speech that we have seen from this government. In the first year, it could have been excused, because they were new, when they brought so little to this House. In the second year, when they began to make mistake after mistake that cost people their livelihoods, that cost our seniors their security, it could have been forgiven when they brought another Throne Speech in to try to get started again.

But this is now the end of the third year, and all we have seen today is an empty bunch of rhetoric that proves without a doubt that after three years, after all the excuses, after all the mistakes, all this government has is no plan for jobs, no plan to get the cost of living down, no vision, no idea about where they want to take this province in the future. Today's Throne Speech is the proof that is in the pudding that they really don't know where they want to take us.

I see they want to talk about the past more than the future, but let's take a look at even the things that have happened since this House last sat in the Spring. It has been a scandalous summer for this government. Rather than working on creating jobs, rather than consulting with seniors on their Pharmacare like they promised, in the Premier's inner circle they were busy writing their own job descriptions to secure their own jobs, while Nova Scotians are looking for jobs for themselves where they don't get to do that. It's one set of rules if you're in the Premier's inner circle; it's another set for everyone else in Nova Scotia who struggles to get by every day.

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Just yesterday, the Auditor General came to this House and confirmed that it is $850 more expensive in taxes to live in Nova Scotia than it was just a few years ago. Where is the plan to help people with the cost of living? There isn't one. But those who live in the Premier's Office solved that problem for themselves by writing their own job description, securing their own job. While everybody else is told to cut back, this government - and this Premier himself - creates new units within his own office, like the delivery unit. More bureaucracy - there's plenty of money for that, but there's no money for those who struggle to get by every day.

Nova Scotians are really scratching their heads about why the government would allow $300,000 of taxpayer money to be spent to send some of the Premier's richest friends to Boston to go to MIT. We will explore that in the House here in this session, Mr. Speaker. That is just in the last few months.

But there was no talk today about the basket of incompetence that we've seen from this government over the last three years.

If you work in the film industry, you lost your job in all likelihood. You're in Ontario, or you're in B.C. You're not in Nova Scotia anymore. When we talk about jobs, the government messed that up and cost hundreds of Nova Scotians their livelihoods.

If you're a senior in the Pharmacare Program, the government messed life up for you too. They tried to jack up your Pharmacare premiums. Then they reversed and promised a consultation this year. Well, Mr. Speaker, they're already working on the budget and no consultation with seniors - another deplorable error that makes life harder for Nova Scotia seniors.

If you are a nurse or a care worker in a nursing home, you are struggling in much worse working conditions because of cruel and thoughtless and heartless cuts that this government made to our nursing homes. We'll be exploring that in this session of the House as well. As many, many Nova Scotians know to their great, great dismay, if you are one of our parents or grandparents in a nursing home, this government expects you to live and eat on $5.60 a day. That is the record of this government that they are not talking about.

Mr. Speaker, these are errors and omissions and the cold-hearted, stumbling mismanagement that have led us to this third Throne Speech, and yet the government has nothing new to offer to the people of Nova Scotia.

Family doctors barely got a mention. How many parts of Nova Scotia are looking for a family doctor today? How many tens of thousands of Nova Scotia families don't have a doctor, Mr. Speaker? Some estimates are up to 100,000 Nova Scotians, in Cape Breton, in Weymouth, in Cumberland County - across this province. It got one line, one of the greatest issues of our time.

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You know what, Mr. Speaker? The incompetence and the stumbling cost people their jobs. It costs them their livelihoods. It costs them in the cost of living, whether it's in taxes or whether it's in Pharmacare premiums. They worry about their health because they don't know if they can afford their medicine or whether they'll have a family doctor when they need one. This government insults Nova Scotians by bringing a Throne Speech that has nothing to say, no vision, and no plan on those things that are so important to them.

Here we are today, Mr. Speaker, with the latest example of a complete government screw-up without a mention in the Throne Speech. If you are a student in our schools, the parent of a student, or a front-line teacher, you are watching this government completely mismanage our education system, turn a blind eye to the reality of today's classrooms, and offer nothing to make the classroom experience better for teachers, students, or their parents. They brought a Throne Speech here with nothing to say about that either.

Nova Scotians can string this all together. Right up there now with the mess they made of the film industry, with the disaster they made of the Pharmacare Program, with the hardship that they are causing in our nursing homes - right up there with all those stumbling, incompetent mistakes and errors of this government - now our classrooms can be added to the list.

For the first time in our province's history, we may well see a classroom year interrupted because of a strike. We don't want that. Nobody wants that maybe except the Premier himself and his Minister of Education and Early Childhood Development, maybe the Teachers Union leadership who are together with the Premier taking us down that road. But it also could have easily been avoided.

Every government for 125 years has been able to work it out in our classrooms, Mr. Speaker - every one of them. You know what? They governed through depressions and recessions and World Wars and big deficits and sometimes surpluses, and they managed to work it out. They got concessions when they needed them. They moved forward when they could afford it without having to take our students and their parents and put their school year at risk - every single one until now. I'm sure some of those years, some of the negotiations were hard, too. You can imagine how tough it must have been when we had recessions and depressions and wars and all the things that this province has lived through, without facing a teachers' strike.

What do parents tell us, Mr. Speaker? What do the people of Nova Scotia tell us? The children are our future, they are our best hope: make sure they get a good education every day, every year. Make the classroom experience all it can be. Make the classroom safe, make the classrooms productive, give them their best shot. Now, for the first time, a government may not be able to deliver that.

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They had it set up so easily to get an agreement, Mr. Speaker, it could easily have been done. The government had the teachers saying our number one priority this time is classroom improvements and safety and productivity - let them teach, let them get on with their jobs. But that didn't happen. This government couldn't, in that circumstance, actually find a way to make it happen. Uniquely, of all the governments in history, they had a chance to do the right thing and actually invest in classroom supports. Bring it to the House, we would support it. I'm sure all Parties would look at anything reasonable to make our classrooms better for the students, for their parents and for the front-line teachers but they didn't do that. They have to take the teachers at their word, that's their big priority, yet that was taken off the table.

This government didn't listen, didn't make classroom improvements a priority. The union leaders took deals coming from this government to their members and their members said no because they want classroom improvements. Now we have a chance to actually make classroom improvements, not just to avoid the strike that's coming, Mr. Speaker, but to do the right thing for our students for all time and yet the Premier says he doesn't want to talk anymore.

Mr. Speaker, we want to talk about it some more and the students and their parents want to talk about it some more and you know what - the front-line teachers want to talk about it some more because they don't want to strike, they want to do what's right, they want the tools to do the job. Why not focus on that before it is too late?

Any other government in our history would have made that happen but not this time and no wonder, it's the same government that messed up the film industry because they didn't understand what was really going on and then refused to admit it.

They told our seniors they had to pay more, they didn't understand many would drop out of the Pharmacare Program and go without the medicines they need. They made a horrible mistake that has got seniors worried as they now approach their next budget, without any consultation.

They don't understand what's going on in our nursing homes when they cut $6.5 million out of our nursing homes and said don't worry, it won't affect front-line care, only to find out they are cutting the food budget down to $5-and change a day for three meals, Mr. Speaker. Then they made the same mistakes again, this time in our classrooms, where we have a Premier and a Minister of Education who are so intent on studying their own action plan, which nobody wants, that they aren't willing to listen to what they can really do to make the classrooms better and to stop a strike before it starts.

The Throne Speech today, which could have talked about making our classrooms better, didn't say a word, not a word. Over here, Mr. Speaker, and I'm sure over there, we spent the summer travelling around talking to Nova Scotians in all walks of life, in all regions of the province. I'm sure they said the same things to both sides of this House - we want jobs. It's a beautiful province but we've got to get the cost of living down. We need a family doctor.

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What about mental health, Mr. Speaker? Those are the things we hear, among others, and we want our kids to stay in school every day and we want those classrooms to actually be better. We'd support investment to make that happen. In this case, today what they heard from this government was dead silence, crickets where there should be vision, tumbleweeds rolling across the floor of the House where there should be a plan, that's what we saw today. Do you know what? After three years that is not acceptable.

Instead, in the midst of all this hardship, the Premier and his Minister of Education and Early Childhood Development put out statements telling people how wonderful things are in our classrooms. If that was true, we'd see teachers dancing in the streets today about all the good the government says they're doing, instead of telling them that they are overwhelmed with mental health issues, overwhelmed with class caps that are not real, and overwhelmed with all the paperwork they are asked to do when they just want to teach our kids.

You know what? It's not just teachers. That's what the government is missing: it is parents and students who want all of those things as well. They had a great opportunity to make that happen and to have labour peace, and they screwed it up, along with all the other mess-ups that have happened over the last three years.

They wave around their action plan and they put out their statements about all they have done, but if any of it was true, we would see students smiling in appreciation at their small class sizes and all the extra help they get when they need it. We don't see that happening, because it is not true.

We'd see parents - and this is the biggest point - we would see parents at home sitting in awe at the great literacy and numeracy scores their children were bringing home if we had proper support in our classrooms, but we don't see that. That's why parents want to see classroom improvements as well.

So here is another missed opportunity. It is driven by the same incompetence and mismanagement that has driven the film industry away, that has scared our seniors about their Pharmacare, that has put our nursing homes into the bad state they are in when they should be places of dignity and compassion, Mr. Speaker. It is the very same incompetence stringing all the way through each of those.

The government might use today's Speech from the Throne to wipe the slate clean, to pat itself on the back. But Nova Scotians are not fooled by that. They see that the government's record of messing up the big issues goes on even to this day. The Throne Speech confirms that we are directionless under this government. They have no idea how to make things better. They had their chance in the first year and the second year to bring real vision to this House, and they didn't. This time they have confirmed that they really can't get the job done.

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With those few words welcoming the government back to the House of Assembly, Mr. Speaker, I will move that we adjourn debate until tomorrow.

MR. SPEAKER « » : The motion is to adjourn the debate.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Premier.

THE PREMIER « » : Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I am looking forward to this session as we enter into it. It looks like it's going to be an exciting one. On your behalf, I invite all members of the House and the guests who are in the gallery to join you in the Red Room for a reception following the ceremony today.

MR. SPEAKER « » : The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. MICHEL SAMSON » : Mr. Speaker, that concludes the government's business for today. The House will sit again tomorrow, Friday, October 14th, from 9:00 a.m. until 1:00 p.m. Following the daily routine, we will conclude the response from the Leader of the Official Opposition, then have the response from the Leader in the House of the New Democratic Party, and that will conclude business for the day.

With that, Mr. Speaker, I move that the House do now rise to meet again from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. on Friday, October 14th.

MR. SPEAKER « » : The motion is that the House do now rise to meet tomorrow at 9:00 a.m.

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 House now stands adjourned until 9:00 a.m. tomorrow.

[The House rose at 3:49 p.m.]