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/legislative-business/hansard-debates/
TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 8, 2016
TABLE OF CONTENTSPAGE
PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS:
TIR: Sonora Rd. (Sherbrooke to Sonora) - Restore,
TIR - Main Rd. (Little Dover): Repairs/Improvements - Undertake,
Nat. Res.: Campground Rules - Changes Request,
EECD: Aboriginal Peoples Hist. - Curriculum Include,
PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES:
Law Amendments Comm.,
Law Amendments Comm.,
TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS:
WCB: Rept. to Commun. (Q2 2016) - Table,
GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 424, Retail Coun. (Can.) et al - Southwestern N.S.:
Vote - Affirmative
Res. 425, Southwestern N.S.: Water Supply - Vols. Thank,
Vote - Affirmative
Res. 426, Glendenning, Cst. Stephanie et al: Atl. Women in
Vote - Affirmative
Res. 427, Diabetes Awareness Mo. (11/16) - Recognize,
Vote - Affirmative
Res. 428, Crohn's & Colitis Awareness Mo. (11/16) - Recognize,
Vote - Affirmative
Res. 429, Wade, Mamadou: TD Commun. Leadership Scholarship
Vote - Affirmative
Res. 430, Open Data Movement: N.S. Businesses -
Vote - Affirmative
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS:
No. 66, Public Services Sustainability (2015) Act,
No. 67, Revenue Act,
No. 68, Universities Assistance Act,
STATEMENTS BY MEMBERS:
Silver, Sandy: Yukon Prem. - Election Congrats.,
Desmond, Viola: Courage/Strength - Recognize,
TIR - Winter Tires: Insurance Premiums - Effect,
Schepp, Rory et al: Essay Contest - Congrats.,
Election U.S./New Pres. - Prem. (N.S.) Unchanged,
Elhag, Lemia: Displaced Persons - Commitment,
Ashley, Betty: Volunteerism - Thank,
McKeigan, Bill: Death of - Tribute,
Barnard, Juliana: Acadians/Mi'kmaq Connection -
Vols. in Participaction Luncheon Group: Seniors - Assistance,
Pictou-Antigonish Reg. Library - Pictou Co. C of C Award,
Natl. Truth & Reconciliation Commn.: 63rd Call to Action
Kwanzaa - Anniv. (50th),
Hutchinson, Chris & Anna - Anna. Valley C of C Award,
Van Tassel, Howard & Odette/Cobbler Corner -
Natl. Aboriginal Veterans Day - Commemorate,
Commun. Credit Union (Col. Co.) - Commun. Contributions,
Educ. System - Quantifying vs. Nurturing,
Murtha, Jack et al - Hfx. West HS: Coffeehouses - Organizing,
Aberdeen Health Care Fdn.: Pictou Co. Care Serv. - Enhancement,
Law Amendments Comm.: Accessibility Bill - Consultative Process,
Harrietsfield: Water Purification System - Announcement,
Muise, Mary - Pharmacy Assoc. Award,
Voting System: Gov't. (N.S.) - Options Explore,
Hfx. Co. United U-18 Girls Soccer Team: Nationals - Bronze Medal,
Remembrance Day Serv. - Vols. Thank,
Robson, Wanda et al - Viola Desmond Story: Retelling - Contribution,
Mahone Bay Playground Proj,: Success - Congrats.,
Fraser, Stacy/Lagrace, Karl: Food Truck - Success Wish,
Thomas, Divya - Hfx. West HS: Breakfast Prog. - Fundraising,
Langille, Alicia/Smith, Dorothy/Imagine Salon & Spa
Lightfoot & Wolfville: 2004 Ancienne Chardonnay - Lt.-Gov.'s
ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS TO MINISTERS:
No. 228, Prem. - Teachers: Mediation - Agree,
No. 229, Prem. - Doctor Shortage: Promise - Time Frame,
No. 230, Prem.: Craft Beer Industry - Remittance Tax,
No. 231, EECD - Prov. Assessments: Removal - Min. Announcement
No. 232, Mun. Affs.: Guysborough Dist. Mun. Warden (Fmr.)
No. 233, Mun. Affs. - Carroll, Barry: Guysborough Dist. Mun
No. 234, LAE - The Chronicle Herald Strike: Ind. Inquiry Bd
No. 235, Health & Wellness: Courey Review - Time Frame,
No. 236, Justice: Jails - Contraband Scanning,
No. 237, Prem. - Facebook Ad: N.S. Teachers/Students
No. 238, Environ. - Dept. Staff: Muzzling - Confirm,
No. 239, Health & Wellness - 811 Line: Medical Advice - Wait Time,
No. 240, TIR: Grand Mira South Road - Action Plan,
No. 241, Com. Serv. - Hbr. City Homes: Residents - Info.,
No. 242, TIR - Dirt Rds.: Chloride Application - Budget Increase,
No. 243, LAE - Bill No. 61: Law Amendments Comm
No. 244, Justice: Waterville Youth Correctional Facility -
No. 245, Com. Serv. - Income Assistance: Housing Options
HOUSE RESOLVED INTO CWH ON BILLS AT 2:51 P.M
HOUSE RECONVENED AT 3:00 P.M
PUBLIC BILLS FOR THIRD READING:
No. 22, Halifax Regional Water Commission Act
Vote - Affirmative
PRIVATE MEMBERS' PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING:
No. 60, Public Interest Disclosure of Wrongdoing Act
Vote - Affirmative
ADDRESS IN REPLY:
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Wed., Nov. 9th at 1:00 p.m
HALIFAX, TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 8, 2016
Sixty-second General Assembly
Hon. Kevin Murphy
Mr. Gordon Wilson, Mr. Keith Irving
PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS
We the undersigned citizens of Sonora, St. Mary's River and the Municipality of St. Mary's respectfully seek a commitment from the Government of Nova Scotia to take immediate steps to restore the Sonora Rd from Sherbrooke to and including the village of Sonora.
Mr. Speaker, it contains 122 names, to which I have affixed my name.
The honourable member for Guysborough-Eastern Shore-Tracadie.
"We respectfully request that repairs and improvements to the Main Road, Little Dover be undertaken soon as possible."
Mr. Speaker, the petition contains 281 names, and I have affixed my name.
The honourable member for Cumberland North.
MR. TERRY FARRELL « » : Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to introduce a petition on behalf of the honourable member for Colchester North, the Minister of Education and Early Childhood Development. The operative clause reads:
"We, the undersigned residents and/or landowners of Nova Scotia, request that the Government of Nova Scotia:
- Nullify Subsection 23(4)(d) of the Forests Act so that licensed provincial, private and municipal campgrounds are no longer legally exempt from fire proclamations;
- Ask federal campgrounds to observe fire proclamations out of respect for our province;
- Make one set of rules for campfire burning instead of the current two (one for domestic campfires and one for campgrounds) on the "Nova Scotia Burn Safe" (NSBS) website;
- Make annual fire pit inspections mandatory for campgrounds that are located within 1000 feet of a wooded and/or tall grassy area."
Mr. Speaker, this petition contains 106 names. The member for Colchester North has affixed her signature, as have I. Thank you.
The honourable member for Truro-Bible Hill-Millbrook-Salmon River.
MS. ZANN « » : We have a group of wonderful people here from an organization named KAIROS in the west gallery. Would you please stand when I call your name. We have: Linda Scherzinger, Joan O'Keefe, Debbie Thomas, Donna Geernaert, Gerry Lancaster, Doug Rigby, Alice Mailman, Betsy Hogan, Molly Austen, Gayle Reiner, Bev McDonald, Lynn Harley, Victoria Byrne, and Elder and Mi'kmaq member of the Mi'kmaw Native Friendship Centre, Mr. Billy Lewis. If the House could please give them all a warm welcome. (Applause)
MS. LENORE ZANN « » : Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to put in a petition today: "Whereas for six years the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada [TRC] listened to thousands of former students of residential schools and their families testify to the devastating legacy of this national policy of assimilation . . . We petition the Legislative Assembly of Nova Scotia as follows: To urge the Government of Nova Scotia to fully implement such a curriculum for kindergarten through Grade 12," to make them know about their history and the residential school system.
Thank you very much.
PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES
Bill No. 52 - Halifax Regional Municipality Charter.
and the committee recommends this bill to the favourable consideration of the House, with certain amendments.
The honourable Minister of Justice.
Bill No. 61 - Construction Projects Labour Relations Act.
and the committee recommends this bill to the favourable consideration of the House, without amendment.
TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS
Statements by Ministers
GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION
RESOLUTION NO. 424
Whereas residents of Southwest Nova Scotia have faced the worst water shortage in our province's history; and
Whereas in an effort to help homeowners with dry wells, thousands of bottles and cans of drinking water have been provided free of charge; and
Whereas much of this water has been donated by community-minded businesses;
Therefore be it resolved that the members of this Legislature thank the Retail Council of Canada, Sobeys, Loblaws, Labatt Breweries of Canada, and Canadian Tire for providing drinking water to people in need during this difficult time.
Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice and passage without debate.
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 Municipal Affairs.
RESOLUTION NO. 425
Whereas many residents of southwestern Nova Scotia are still dealing with historically low water levels; and
Whereas municipalities and the province have relied heavily on volunteers to distribute much-needed water to those whose wells are dry; and
Whereas fire departments, ground search and rescue groups, the Canadian Red Cross, municipal staff, and other volunteers have worked tirelessly to keep the water supply going for several weeks;
Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House of Assembly thank the many volunteers who have, once again, reminded us that helping each other in times of need is what makes Nova Scotia such an amazing place to call home.
Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice and passage without debate.
Is it agreed?
It is agreed.
Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.
The motion is carried.
The honourable Minister of Justice.
Mr. Speaker, I would like to draw the attention of the House to the east gallery where we have with us some very special guests today. These women are trailblazers in their profession, who exemplify what it means to be police officers in Nova Scotia. I would like to introduce this year's Atlantic Women in Law Enforcement Nova Scotia award winners and the President of the Atlantic Women in Law Enforcement. Could they please rise as I introduce them?
Constable Monia Thibault of the Halifax Regional Police, who won the Excellence in Performance Award for her excellent police instincts and investigative prowess, is accompanied by Inspector Don Moser, East Divisional Commander. Next, we have Constable Stephanie Glendenning of the Halifax Regional Police, who won the Policing Community Service Award for her outstanding work with the Greystone community in Spryfield. From the RCMP H Division, we have Constable Angela MacKay, who won the Team Endeavours Award for her work in bringing a missing Eskasoni woman back to her community. We also have with us from the Halifax Regional Police, Sergeant Carolyn Nichols who is President of Atlantic Women in Law Enforcement. I would ask the members to please give these guests our very warm welcome to the House. (Applause)
RESOLUTION NO. 426
Whereas three exceptional Nova Scotian women were recently recognized for their outstanding contribution to police work in our communities, receiving awards from the Atlantic Women in Law Enforcement for Community Service, Excellence in Performance, and Team Endeavours; and
Whereas from Halifax Regional Police we have Constable Stephanie Glendenning who has served the community of Spryfield exceptionally well, becoming a pillar of the community and is involved in important projects and committees, and Constable Monia Thibault, whose diligence and thoroughness while searching for a suspect of an unrelated crime led to the arrest of a taxi driver for sexual assault; and
Whereas RCMP Constable Angela MacKay's commitment to finding a woman reported missing from Eskasoni transcended borders, ending with a trip to the United States that raised attention to the case and ultimately led to the missing woman being returned to her family;
Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House join me in thanking Constable Glendenning, Constable Thibault, and Constable MacKay for their service to Nova Scotia and congratulate them on receiving the Atlantic Women in Law Enforcement Awards.
Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice and passage without debate.
Is it agreed?
It is agreed.
Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.
The motion is carried.
The honourable Minister of Health and Wellness.
MR. GLAVINE « » : Today in the gallery we have four guests from the Canadian Diabetes Association Nova Scotia Region. Could they please rise as I introduce them: Kerry Tench, Senior Account Manager; Rob Beck, volunteer; Tami Publicover, regional delegate; and Christine Spears, Community Engagement Coordinator. I would ask the members of the House to join in giving them a warm welcome. (Applause)
RESOLUTION NO. 427
Whereas diabetes is a serious condition affecting more than 100,000 Nova Scotians; and
Whereas the Canadian Diabetes Association is leading the fight against diabetes by helping people live healthy lives while working to find a cure; and
Whereas World Diabetes Day is November 14th, November is Diabetes Awareness Month and this year's campaign focuses on prevention and early detection of pre-diabetes and type 2 diabetes, people are being encouraged to take the Can risk test at diabetestest.ca.
Therefore be it resolved that all members of the House recognize November as Diabetes Awareness Month and encourage all Nova Scotians to take the risk test at diabetestest.ca
Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice and passage without debate.
Is it agreed?
It is agreed.
Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.
The motion is carried
The honourable Minister of Health and Wellness.
MR. GLAVINE « » : In the gallery today we have two guest from the Halifax Chapter of Crohn's and Colitis Canada, Shannon Stevenson and David Harrison, if they would now rise. They are volunteers and have been instrumental in Crohn's and Colitis Canada's largest community event, the Gutsy Walk. I would ask the members of the House to join me in giving them a warm welcome. (Applause)
RESOLUTION NO. 428
Whereas Canada has one of the highest rates of Crohn's and colitis worldwide with one in every 150 suffering from the debilitating disease, with over 10,000 diagnoses every year; and
Whereas Crohn's and Colitis Canada are leaders in inflammatory bowel disease research and care that is dedicated to finding cures and improving the lives of children and adults affected by these chronic diseases; and
Whereas November is Crohn's and Colitis Awareness Month in Nova Scotia which aims to bring awareness and raise money for research to find a cure;
Therefore be it resolved that all members of the House recognize November as Crohn's and Colitis Awareness Month and do what they can to support this cause.
Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice and passage without debate.
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 Communities, Culture and Heritage.
RESOLUTION NO. 429
Whereas the TD Scholarships for Community Leadership are designed to recognize the achievements of youth who are making a difference, and help them realize their educational goals; and
Whereas there were 8,000 scholarship applicants this year, and 20 youth across Canada were awarded this prestigious award for the difference they are making in their communities; and
Whereas Mamadou Wade with Hope Blooms is the first African Nova Scotian to receive this scholarship, in the amount of $70,000, and when he graduates with a Bachelor of Commerce from the University of Toronto he wants to return to Halifax to be the CEO of Hope Blooms Inc.;
Therefore be it resolved that all members of the House of Assembly express their heartfelt congratulations to Mamadou Wade on his significant achievement and wish him success in his future goals.
Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice and passage without debate.
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 the Public Service Commission.
RESOLUTION NO. 430
Whereas Nova Scotia is part of the worldwide open data movement and regularly publishes its data for everyone to use through the open data portal; and
Whereas entrepreneurs, small business owners, and students can innovate and help grow our economy using data collections that are meant to be used and shared; and
Whereas the open data portal pages have been viewed more than 286,000 times since the site was launched in February 2016;
Therefore be it resolved that all members of the House of Assembly acknowledge the huge potential for Nova Scotia's businesses to harness the power of open data and create new opportunities for Nova Scotia.
Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice and passage without debate.
Is it agreed?
It is agreed.
Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.
The motion is carried.
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS
Bill No. 66 - Entitled an Act to Repeal Chapter 34 of the Acts of 2015. The Public Services Sustainability (2015) Act. (Hon. David Wilson)
Bill No. 67 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 17 of the Acts of 1995-96. The Revenue Act. (Hon. Pat Dunn)
Bill No. 68 - Entitled an Act Respecting Grants to Universities. (Hon. David Wilson)
STATEMENTS BY MEMBERS
SILVER, SANDY: YUKON PREM. - ELECTION CONGRATS.
HON. RANDY DELOREY « » : While much is being made across the world, including in coffee shops and at kitchen tables here in Nova Scotia, about today's U.S. election, I'd like to highlight the results of last night's election in the Yukon.
Mr. Speaker, I'd like to congratulate Premier-elect Sandy Silver on his success in last night's Yukon election. Sandy is an Antigonish native and his success has been well received in his hometown.
Mr. Speaker, I ask my colleagues to join me in congratulating Premier-elect Sandy Silver and all elected members of the Yukon Government and thank the residents who exercised their democratic right to cast a ballot in last night's election. Thank you.
DESMOND, VIOLA: COURAGE/STRENGTH - RECOGNIZE
HON. PAT DUNN « » : Mr. Speaker, on November 8, 1946, Viola Desmond was a Black Nova Scotia businesswoman who challenged racial segregation at a film theatre in New Glasgow - she refused to leave a whites-only area of the Roseland Theatre, and was unjustly convicted of a minor tax violation. Desmond's case is one of the most publicized instances of racial discrimination in Canadian history and helped start the modern civil rights movement in Canada.
Viola took action against discrimination nine years before the famed incident by civil rights activist Rosa Parks, with whom Desmond is often compared. Desmond was granted a posthumous pardon, the first to be granted in Canada.
I would ask all members of this Legislature to recognize the courage and strength Viola Desmond portrayed as she rightfully resisted racial discrimination. Thank you.
TIR - WINTER TIRES: INSURANCE PREMIUMS - EFFECT
HON. STERLING BELLIVEAU « » : Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal recently sent out his yearly message reminding Nova Scotians to get ready for winter driving. The minister notes that part of being prepared involves installing winter tires, which we all know can be quite costly. However, it seems the government is not interested in making winter tires more affordable for many Nova Scotians struggling to make ends meet.
Mr. Speaker, this government has shown no interest in the NDP's bill to reduce insurance premiums for those who install winter tires. In fact, the member for Halifax Atlantic went on a tirade in opposition to this bill. I guess when it comes to opposing anything brought forward by the NDP, the member did not want to slide off course.
SCHEPP, RORY ET AL: ESSAY CONTEST - CONGRATS.
MR. BILL HORNE « » : Mr. Speaker, I rise to congratulate three students from George P. Vanier Junior High in winning an essay-writing competition. Rory Schepp, Paige Bodnar, and Jonathan MacKinnon each wrote essays that were recognized in an awards ceremony. Samantha Llewellyn received an honourable mention.
Their essays will be published in the national Turning Points publication. Each essay was on a highly personal turning point in the students' lives. The resulting stories were touching and included some tough topics and events. The students credited their teachers' support and encouragement with winning the top prizes.
Mr. Speaker, I want to congratulate the students from George P. Vanier Junior High and wish them every success for the future.
ELECTION U.S./NEW PRES. - PREM. (N.S.) UNCHANGED
MR. TIM HOUSTON « » : Mr. Speaker, tonight Americans will select a new president and, as distressing as that is for many people, it gets worse because here in Nova Scotia, Nova Scotians will wake up tomorrow morning and the member for Annapolis will still be their Premier.
MS. MANCINI « » : Mr. Speaker, in the west gallery I would like to introduce this afternoon Kelly Wilson, who is currently working in my constituency office - or I am working for her, I haven't figured that out yet. Also Lemia Elhag who is visiting us from the Sudan. (Applause)
ELHAG, LEMIA: DISPLACED PERSONS - COMMITMENT
MS. MARIAN MANCINI « » : Mr. Speaker, Lemia Elhag is currently on leave from her position as project management specialist with the U.S. Agency for International Development at the U.S. Embassy in Khartoum, Sudan. She is currently studying at Dalhousie University.
In her position with U.S. Aid, she works to ensure effective management and targeting of food aid resources in Sudan for displaced persons and refugees from South Sudan. Some of her duties include monitoring food security and assessing the effectiveness and quality of the implementation of food aid programs.
She has also worked with Islamic Relief, where she was closely involved with issues relating to women's safety in refugee camps. She would conduct camp-monitoring visits and provide reports and observations of women's and girls' situations. She worked to ensure gender mainstreaming in programs and to facilitate the regular flow of food and non-food distribution shelters and camp management issues.
Ms. Elhag is truly a citizen of the world and shows herself to be a caring and committed individual with a commitment to displaced persons in this world.
MS. MILLER « » : I'd like to draw the House's attention to the east gallery, where I am joined today by volunteer extraordinaire Betty Ashley. I would ask her to please stand and receive the warm welcome of the House. (Applause)
ASHLEY, BETTY: VOLUNTEERISM - THANK
HON. MARGARET MILLER « » : Before and since retiring from 31 years with the Department of National Defence, Betty Ashley has always been heavily involved in her community. Some of the hats Betty is currently wearing include master of ceremonies for the oldest jamboree in Canada - the Nine Mile River Community Centre Jamboree, in its 50th year; musician with Andy & Friends, a seniors' entertainment group; creator, writer, musical director, songwriter, and actress with the Elmsdale Legion "Care Actors" dinner theatre group; president of A New Beginning weight loss group; member of the East Hants Curling Association; director for the East Hants Bowling Society; manager of the C&A DJ Services Company; musician of the Highway 7 band; statistician for the East Hants Ladies Coffee Club Bowling League; and committee member for the East Hants Senior Games. It makes me tired just saying it all.
Betty will proudly tell you that her most important role is that of mother, wife, and daughter. I would like to thank Betty for her volunteerism and for making our community a much better place.
MCKEIGAN, BILL: DEATH OF - TRIBUTE
MR. EDDIE ORRELL « » : Mr. Speaker, I rise today to salute the life of Bill McKeigan, who recently passed away at the age of 100. Bill served overseas during World War II in Italy, France, Belgium, Holland, and Germany. He was a life-time member and honorary president of Branch 19 Armstrong Memorial Royal Canadian Legion in North Sydney.
Bill leaves behind his wife of 75 years, Irma, and his four children, eight grandchildren, and seven great-grandchildren.
The community will feel the absence of Bill McKeigan this year at the Remembrance Day ceremonies in North Sydney. I send my most sincere condolences to the friends and family of Bill McKeigan. He will be missed.
BARNARD, JULIANA: ACADIANS/MI'KMAQ CONNECTION
- THEATRICAL PRODUCTION
MS. LENORE ZANN « » : Juliana Barnard has written a new theatrical production called histoire des Acadiens at Mi'kmaq for the Centre Communautaire francophone de Truro, exploring the history of and connections between the Acadians and the Mi'kmaq, beginning in the 1700s. The two groups formed a close, strong relationship, which you don't often hear about.
The production will present a glimpse of what happened to the two groups and how they were connected, featuring a cast of 30 local Truro people. It will be presented in French with some Mi'kmaq. I'd like to say congratulations to Juliana for focusing on the positive aspects of these two important cultures who came together and influenced our Nova Scotian heritage.
VOLS. IN PARTICIPACTION LUNCHEON GROUP:
SENIORS - ASSISTANCE
HON. LLOYD HINES « » : Since 1992, the Volunteers in Participaction Luncheon Group in Moser River have been dedicating their time and resources to provide Northwood Intouch products to seniors from Port Dufferin to Sherbrooke.
These units are the bridge between seniors and their caregivers. The senior can activate the base unit by pressing the Help button or set up a series of sensors that will simply work automatically. Some sensors can contact caregivers directly via a call or text message to their cell phone or home phone. All sensors can contact the response centre, allowing clients to ask for help when they need it or continue on with their day.
This group's donation of time and resources can help keep seniors safe and comfortable and living life to the fullest. Guysborough-Eastern Shore-Tracadie is fortunate to have the dedicated volunteers of the Volunteers in Participaction Luncheon Group, who offer tremendous support to local senior residents. They have enhanced the lives of so many. Thank you for making our communities and province a better place to live.
MR. SPEAKER « » : Just before we move on to the next member's statement, I will direct members' attention to my Speaker's Gallery, as I introduce some fine employees visiting us today from Nova Scotia Power. We're pleased to have with us the friendly voice on the other end of the phone and email when we as MLAs call on behalf of constituents. We have with us, as part of the resolution team, Ms. Lisa MacDonald; Lisa's dad is the honourable member for Preston-Dartmouth. We also have with us Lisa Lane, Morgan Whynot, and Amber Reitman. Thank you very much for joining us today. (Applause)
The honourable member for Pictou West.
PICTOU-ANTIGONISH REG. LIBRARY - PICTOU CO. C OF C AWARD
MS. KARLA MACFARLANE « » : I am pleased to rise today to congratulate the Pictou-Antigonish Regional Library for receiving the Business Engagement Award at the Pictou County Chamber of Commerce Awards Gala. In accordance with the challenges put forward in the provincial Now or Never Ivany report, the Business Engagement Award acknowledges the willingness of members of the business sector and community to take action to move the economy forward in a unique or unexpected way. With budget restraints, the Pictou-Antigonish Regional Library rose to the challenge and established newcomer welcome centres to ensure new residents stay, feel part of the community, and take part in its development. I wish to thank all library staff, and any volunteers who were involved in creating this innovative and interactive way to utilize our public libraries, and for taking the extra step to be welcoming to all newcomers.
NATL. TRUTH & RECONCILIATION COMMN.:
"We call upon the Council of Ministers of Education, Canada to maintain an annual commitment to Aboriginal education issues, including:
i. Developing and implementing Kindergarten to Grade Twelve curriculum and learning resources on Aboriginal peoples in Canadian history, and the history and legacy of residential schools.
ii. Sharing information and best practices on teaching curriculum related to residential schools and Aboriginal history.
iii. Building student capacity for intercultural understanding, empathy, and mutual respect.
iv. Identifying teacher-training needs relating to the above."
As we fight to improve Nova Scotian education in this Legislature, let us remember this call.
KWANZAA - ANNIV. (50th)
HON. TONY INCE « » : I rise to acknowledge the 50th Anniversary of an upcoming celebration. Kwanzaa was created in 1966 as the only African-American holiday. It has since spread around the world to other parts of the African diaspora, including here in Canada. Kwanzaa comes from a Swahili phrase meaning "fruits of the harvest." Kwanzaa is a seven-day celebration that runs from December 26th to January 1st, with each day dedicated to a principle. The seven principles of Kwanzaa are unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, co-operative economics, purpose, creativity, and faith. The principles teach us the importance of honouring the lessons of the past, and valuing coming together to strengthen the ties between families and communities. Kwanzaa is about the enduring spirit of people, all people, regardless of race and ethnicity. Kwanzaa is a celebration of the human spirit. The Swahili greeting is, "Kwanzaa yenu iwe na heri," which means "Kwanzaa happiness to all of you."
HUTCHINSON, CHRIS & ANNA - ANNA. VALLEY C OF C AWARD
MR. JOHN LOHR « » : The Annapolis Valley Chamber of Commerce recently held their annual Business Awards Ceremony. Hutchinson's Maple Products is Nova Scotia's largest producer of maple syrup. With over 750 acres and 60,000 taps, they produce more than 60,000 litres of maple syrup every year. Their value-added product line of pure infused maple syrup expands the uses of traditional maple syrup beyond the breakfast table by showing consumers that maple syrup is so much more than pancakes and waffles. Mr. Speaker, I wish to congratulate Chris and Anna Hutchinson on winning Outstanding Exporter of the Year.
VAN TASSEL, HOWARD & ODETTE/COBBLER CORNER
- DEDICATION THANK
HON. MARK FUREY « » : Mr. Speaker, Howard and Odette Van Tassel have been the proud owners and operators of Cobbler Corner for the past 36 years. Cobbler Corner is a successful business that is deserving of recognition. Over the last 36 years, the Van Tassels have designed and created numerous leather products for three generations of clients. If you can dream it, they can make it - from purses to saddlebags, wheelchair gloves and custom belts, to name just a few of the many custom items they've created over the years.
I'd like to thank the Van Tassels and Cobbler Corner for their presence, for their dedication to their craft and their hard work to create such a successful and dependable business in our community.
NATL. ABORIGINAL VETERANS DAY - COMMEMORATE
MS. LENORE ZANN « » : I rise today to commemorate National Aboriginal Veterans Day. National Aboriginal Veterans Day was started by Winnipeg's City Council in 1994 and has since spread across the country. It was started in order to remember the thousands of indigenous Canadians who answered the call of duty and made the ultimate sacrifice. Veterans Affairs Canada says more than 7,000 Aboriginal people served in the First and Second World Wars, as well as Korea, but that number does not include Inuit, Metis or non-status Indians. Some estimates put the actual total closer to 12,000.
More than 500 people died in those conflicts and many more were wounded, so our thoughts today are with the families of those who lost loved ones on this very important Day of Remembrance, Lest We Forget. Wela'lin.
COMMUN. CREDIT UNION (COL. CO.) - COMMUN. CONTRIBUTIONS
MR. TERRY FARRELL « » : Mr. Speaker, the Community Credit Union of Cumberland Colchester in Amherst, Nova Scotia, at its annual general meeting in April, presented four local organizations with a $1,000 donation. The recipients were the Cumberland Early Intervention Program, Bridge Adult Service Centre, Lillian Allbon Animal Shelter, and Kids Help Phone.
The Community Credit Union of Cumberland Colchester is a full-service, locally-owned financial services company with a dedicated and committed staff that truly understands what community engagement is all about.
Mr. Speaker, I am proud to have them in my riding and I would ask that this House of Assembly join me in commending them for their contributions to the community.
EDUC. SYSTEM - QUANTIFYING VS. NURTURING
MS. LISA ROBERTS « » : Mr. Speaker, I'd like to encourage all members of the House, particularly the Minister of Education and Early Childhood Development and the Premier, to read two wonderful sources of insight into our education system: The teachers blog at teachersofnovascotia.wordpress.com and the Facebook group of Nova Scotia Parents for Teachers, which now has more than 5,000 members. They raise many issues which need to be addressed in an unfettered way at the bargaining table.
I want to amplify the voices of teachers and parents who are concerned that we are quantifying what children are learning, at the expense of nurturing the people they are becoming. I say this as the parent of a beautiful, creative, eight-year-old girl who will write a test today and another tomorrow and another on Thursday. In the past 48 hours I've encouraged her, as requested by her teacher, to review and to prepare.
Childhood is short and the time we have with our children is even more precious. I feel I've misspent some of that time in an effort to conform with the emphasis of our current education system.
MURTHA, JACK ET AL - HFX. WEST HS:
COFFEEHOUSES - ORGANIZING
MS. PATRICIA ARAB « » : Mr. Speaker, I would like to recognize Jack Murtha, Ethan Protheroe, and Jacob Hatfield for their dedication to the encouragement of arts involvement at Halifax West High School.
Jack, Ethan and Jacob have been organizing the Halifax West coffeehouses which are events that encourage students to show off their artistic abilities in performances in front of parents, students and staff. These performances highlight the importance of self-confidence and the pure skill of young musicians, artists and other performers. Without the organization of these events, the amount of time these young adults have to show their talents would be limited.
I would like the members of this Nova Scotia House of Assembly to join me in thanking Jack, Ethan and Jacob for their hard work and dedication to making sure that the arts community of Halifax West stays prominent and strong.
ABERDEEN HEALTH CARE FDN.:
PICTOU CO. CARE SERV. - ENHANCEMENT
MS. KARLA MACFARLANE « » : Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to acknowledge the latest initiative of the Aberdeen Health Foundation with the launch of a new public WiFi system at the Aberdeen Regional Hospital in New Glasgow. The ability for patients and family members to connect to the Internet without additional cost will allow them to stay connected with each other and reduce their stress. It will lend a normalcy to life for those who will find themselves or a loved one needing treatment at the Aberdeen Hospital.
Some of the other benefits of the free WiFi include allowing palliative care patients access to a new music program that is part of a health care study, and access to information programs and online support groups for oncology patients who spend numerous hours in their clinics.
Mr. Speaker, I wish to thank the Aberdeen Health Foundation for enhancing health care services in Pictou County.
LAW AMENDMENTS COMM.: ACCESSIBILITY BILL
- CONSULTATIVE PROCESS
MS. MARIAN MANCINI « » : I want to take a moment to echo the concerns of presenters at the Law Amendments Committee regarding the government's accessibility bill. It seems that the bill has failed to be representative of the consultative process that took place some time ago.
Along with concerns about the substance of the bill, presenters were noticeably frustrated with the way this government had tried to introduce the bill and move it through the House. Many felt there had not been time to adequately digest this piece of legislation. Further, there was an overall sense of disappointment with the hasty meeting of the Law Amendments Committee that prevented some from being able to attend and participate.
Mr. Speaker, being inclusive starts with the democratic process.
HON. RANDY DELOREY « » : I would like to direct the members' attention to the east gallery, where we have two students joining us for today's session. If I could ask them to rise: Mikaela Etchegary, who is a PR student at Mount Saint Vincent University; and Alexandra Brennan, a co-op student from Halifax West. They're joining Marla MacInnis from the communications team in the Department of Finance and Treasury Board to see about PR and communications, and will be joining us for QP today.
Please give them the warm welcome of the House. (Applause)
HARRIETSFIELD: WATER PURIFICATION SYSTEM
MR. BRENDAN MAGUIRE « » : Today was a day of hope, hope for the people of Harrietsfield directly impacted by RDM, the local C and D site. Multiple people, including local resident Marlene Brown, have fought for potable water for over a decade.
Imagine, Mr. Speaker, waking up one day to water that you cannot drink, cook, or bathe with - what would you do? Today, this government and this MLA said "enough." Today, we announced funding for water purification systems for these homes impacted by RDM.
Those individuals will no longer have to drive kilometres every day (Interruptions)
Order, please. (Interruptions) Order. Order please.
The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic has the floor.
MR. MAGUIRE « » : Those individuals will no longer have to drive kilometres every day to access fresh water - soon they can just turn on their taps. No matter how long I do this job - be it days, weeks, months, or years - this is a day I will always remember.
Remember, Mr. Speaker, water is life, and clean water is health. Thank you.
MUISE, MARY - PHARMACY ASSOC. AWARD
Mary is one of the recipients of the Distinguished Service Award handed out recently by the Pharmacy Association of Nova Scotia. Upon receiving the award, Mary bent the microphone down to her level and humbly admitted that she doesn't do all the things the previous recipients do to earn such praise. Rather, her response, as she threw her arms up in the air in typical Mary fashion, was all she does is work.
I ask all the members of this Legislature to thank Mary Muise for her 23 years of dedicated service to her many customers and friends.
VOTING SYSTEM: GOV'T. (N.S.) - OPTIONS EXPLORE
HON. STERLING BELLIVEAU « » : There is a growing debate across the country about the system we use to elect representatives to government. The federal Liberals committed to exploring a voting system during last year's national election. Just last week, a non-binding plebiscite on electoral reform in P.E.I. saw voter support for switching to a form of proportional representation. More and more Canadians are growing tired of election results that are not representative of the votes cast. As momentum for exploring other voting options continues to grow, perhaps it's time for this provincial government to take a hard look at the situation in this province and engage Nova Scotians about what they want to see in a democratic process.
HFX. CO. UNITED U-18 GIRLS SOCCER TEAM:
NATIONALS - BRONZE MEDAL
MR. BEN JESSOME « » : Mr. Speaker, the Halifax County United U-18 Girls soccer team had a very successful season this year, which finished off with a bronze medal at the Nationals, held in Vaughan, Ontario. The team worked hard over the summer and bonded well as a team, which only made them stronger on the field. They worked together on and off the field to fundraise and team-build.
Most of the players are from Hammonds Plains and the surrounding area. Many have played together for a number of years and have lifelong friendships as a result of their teamwork over the years. The girls' head coach is Mike Malone, who coached with Halifax County United for a number of years. Mike has taken six teams to Nationals, but this one was extra special as it was his final game as head coach.
I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate the Halifax County United U-18 Girls soccer team and their coaches, and ask all members to join me in recognizing their accomplishments.
REMEMBRANCE DAY SERV. - VOLS. THANK
MR LARRY HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, Remembrance Day services are held annually to honour those who have served or are serving our country. Services are held at cenotaphs in our communities, often with social gatherings being offered at local Legions after the ceremonies. Services are frequently held within our schools to educate our children on the importance of the Day of Remembrance. Although it seems as though these events run effortlessly, the amount of time, effort, and organization that goes into planning these services should not be taken for granted. I wish to take a moment to acknowledge the hard work and dedication of the many volunteers across our province and beyond, for their selfless contributions in ensuring our veterans are honoured and celebrated with dignity.
ROBSON, WANDA ET AL - VIOLA DESMOND STORY:
RETELLING - CONTRIBUTION
MS. LISA ROBERTS « » : Seventy years ago today, Black entrepreneur Viola Desmond decided to go to the movies at the Roseland Theatre in New Glasgow while her car was being repaired, and was refused a ticket to the main floor because of her race. She sat on the main floor all the same, and was arrested, charged, convicted, and fined. Her act of resistance against racism and segregation in Nova Scotia came a full nine years before Rosa Parks refused to move to the back of the bus in the United States of America.
I'd like to recognize the contributions of Wanda Robson, Desmond's sister, and also two African Nova Scotian journalists - Carrie Best in 1965 and Sherri Borden Colley in 2010 - for their parts in ensuring that this story is known, told, and retold in Nova Scotia.
MAHONE BAY PLAYGROUND PROJ.: SUCCESS - CONGRATS.
MS. SUZANNE LOHNES-CROFT « » : Outdoor play has never been as important to children as it is now in this digital age. Video games, mobile devices, and computers - they demand more of our time than ever before. Thanks to the Mahone Bay Playground Project, the town's current playground will be growing and giving children even more outdoor options. The new playground will be a natural playground, which is built using natural play structures such as hills, boulders, logs, and other natural play structures.
Studies suggest natural playgrounds encourage more imaginative play, increase the use of motor skills, and encourage more physical play. It is another fun addition to a wonderful community, initiated by an engaged group of citizens looking to contribute to and improve the community they live in.
I would like to thank the members of the Mahone Bay Playground Project for their hard work, and to congratulate them on their success. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
FRASER, STACY/LAGRACE, KARL: FOOD TRUCK - SUCCESS WISH
MR. EDDIE ORRELL « » : Mr. Speaker, I rise today to recognize Stacey Fraser, who grew up on the Northside, and her partner Karl Lagrace from Montreal, who are the owners and operators of Cruisin' Cuisine Gourmet Farm to Fork Food Truck. It can usually be found at Big Spruce Brewing in Nyanza. Fresh, local bistro-style gourmet food that changes daily is on offer.
I wish the couple success as they rely on their travels, love of the culinary arts, and the love of Cape Breton to build their business. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
THOMAS, DIVYA - HFX. WEST HS:
BREAKFAST PROG. - FUNDRAISING
HON. DIANA WHALEN « » : Mr. Speaker, on October 25, 2016, I had the pleasure of supporting a Halifax West High School's fundraising dinner, with the profits going to support the schools' breakfast program. The event was spearheaded by Grade 12 student Divya Thomas.
Divya got involved when she learned of reductions to special activities like the breakfast program. She decided to take the initiative to create a Breakfast Club as part of her school's student government. The committee's goal is to provide a long-lasting support system for the program.
Their first event was a spaghetti dinner held at the Lower Deck in Clayton Park, which was supported by teachers, families, and students. They were entertained by students who took to the stage in aid of a good cause. Through all their hard work, Divya and her committee raised $1,256 and are already planning more events. The night really showcased community spirit at its best. Through her initiative and drive, Divya Thomas has helped the breakfast program continue at her school. She saw a need and took action.
This dedication and leadership will serve her well as she moves on next year to study political science at Dalhousie University.
MR. TIM HOUSTON « » : We all had a bit of a giggle on this side of the House when we read in one of the local newspapers from a government-side MLA who said he's less concerned with what happens in this House than what he can do for his constituents. Then this government that claims to be the most transparent and open government in history, at the very moment they are presented with an option to be exactly more transparent, that member wouldn't stand in his place - he hid in the library.
He hid in the library when committee was on and a vote came and he hid in the library when it came to the floor. (Interruptions)
MR. HOUSTON « » : Thank you, Mr. Speaker. So I would suggest that when members want to rant and rave about being more transparent and faced with the opportunity to do just that, they should stand in their place and represent their constituents, as opposed to hiding in the library. Thank you.
LANGILLE, ALICIA/SMITH, DOROTHY/IMAGINE SALON & SPA
- COSMETOLOGY AWARDS
HON. KELLY REGAN « » : Mr. Speaker, I so enjoy delivering these positive Member's Statements; they give us a chance to recognize the achievements of people in our ridings. There are a couple of achievements I recently learned about that I'd like to share with you.
Both Alicia Langille and Dorothy Smith are hairstylists at Imagine Salon and Spa in Bedford. In the last few years both of them have won awards at the National Colour Zoom competition, and most recently they were both on the Goldwell team that won gold in the Fantasy Competition at the Nova Scotia Cosmetology Association AGM in October.
Mr. Speaker, I am delighted for Dorothy and Alicia and Imagine Salon and Spa, so I'd like to congratulate them on their awards and thank them for keeping some of us in the Chamber looking young.
LIGHTFOOT & WOLFVILLE: 2004 ANCIENNE CHARDONNAY
- LT.-GOV.'S AWARD
MR. KEITH IRVING « » : Mr. Speaker, it's a pleasure today to rise and recognize Lightfoot & Wolfville, a new winery in my constituency that, even before its grand opening, has won the Lieutenant Governor's Award for Excellence in Nova Scotia wines this year. The 2004 Ancienne Chardonnay, remarkable for its radiant golden-yellow hue and graceful balance of texture and acidity, greatly impressed the experts in a blind taste test.
The mission of Lightfoot & Wolfville is to create quality wines from a 100 per cent Nova Scotia-grown content in certified organic vineyards, harvested entirely by hand. They are currently growing the most diverse portfolio of classic European wine grapes in the Atlantic Region.
On behalf of the Nova Scotia House of Assembly, I would like to congratulate Lightfoot & Wolfville on their Award for Excellence, and welcome them to our vibrant Nova Scotia wine industry. Wine lovers everywhere are looking forward to their official opening in the summer of 2017. Thank you.
MR. SPEAKER « » : Before we move on to Oral Questions Put by Members to Ministers, I want to remind the member for Pictou East that Statements by Members should not be used to question any other member's integrity, honesty, intelligence, or character, so I'm going to disallow that Member's Statement.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS TO MINISTERS
PREM. - TEACHERS: MEDIATION - AGREE
HON. JAMIE BAILLIE « » : My question is to the Premier. The strike countdown for Nova Scotia students, parents, and teachers, continues. Last week the teachers formally asked for mediation in hopes that they could settle their impasse with the government without a strike. Mediation is a reasonable way for the government to end this impasse - it is certainly better than a strike.
Will the government agree to mediation with teachers?
HON. STEPHEN MCNEIL » : As the honourable member knows, the Teachers Union has reached out to the Department of Labour and Advanced Education, and they are looking at that request. But I do want to remind the honourable member and all members of this House, and indeed people across this province, that as that process is unfolding we have continued to listen to teachers.
Today the minister announced that we were putting on hold all of the data collection that takes place in classrooms across our province as a show of good faith as we enter into our negotiations and our conversation, as we enter our meeting on the 10th of November. We look forward to coming together with the union to make sure that we deal with those issues teachers are talking about in the classroom.
MR. BAILLIE « » : Come on. The Minister of Labour and Advanced Education is right there, two seats down from the Premier. All he has to do is let her know that the government is okay with mediation - she knows in writing that the teachers are okay with mediation - and they can get on with mediation. Rather than calling press conferences and trying to run the school system by press conference, they can actually do something positive for our classrooms in front of a mediator.
That's what has to happen now. Every day that goes by, we are a day closer to a strike, and we still see political games from the Premier and the government.
Will the Premier turn two seats down to his left and tell the Minister of Labour and Advanced Education that he's okay with mediation so he can get on with fixing this impasse?
THE PREMIER « » : As the honourable member knows, the Department of Labour and Advanced Education has independence. Every parent across this province would recognize and support that initiative. It's unfortunate that the honourable member thinks that improving the learning environment and working with teachers across the province isn't up to his high standard. But I'm going to tell you, teachers across this province appreciate the fact that we listened to them and now are acting.
MR. BAILLIE « » : The high standard we want from the Premier is to work out his differences with teachers at a negotiating table. They call press conferences; they give the teachers five minutes' notice of what they're doing. That's not only disrespectful, it puts us closer to a strike. If the Premier doesn't want mediation, he should just say that so parents and students can see for themselves what a mess this government has made of something that could easily be worked out with the help of a mediator.
Come on. What's the downside? I'll ask the Premier, what does he have against a mediated settlement?
THE PREMIER « » : Again, I want to thank the honourable member for the question. I want to tell him that we've listened to teachers across this province. The announcement today was a recognition of what they've been telling us. We've listened. On the 10th of this month, Mr. Speaker, we will be reaching out with the union and school boards across this province to ensure that we continue to move forward to answer the concerns that classroom teachers have brought to us.
PREM. - DOCTOR SHORTAGE: PROMISE - TIME FRAME
HON. STERLING BELLIVEAU « » : My question is to the Premier. This government was elected on a promise of a doctor for every Nova Scotian. We are now three years into the government's mandate and they are just now compiling a centralized waiting list for thousands of people who do not have a family doctor.
The member for Clare-Digby has suggested it will take up to 10 years for this government to live up to their election promise. Will the Premier tell Nova Scotians if they have to wait until 2026 to get a family doctor?
THE PREMIER « » : We're continuing to work with health care providers across our province to provide a collaborative team approach. Health care providers themselves have told us that's what they want, a new health care delivery model, one they told the previous government about, which was ignored. We're listening to them, and we're working with them to ensure that not only do we have physicians in communities across this province, but also nurse practitioners, dietitians, and social workers, working in a collaborative way to look at a holistic view of the health of our citizens.
Again, I want to acknowledge the member for Clare-Digby, who has done an outstanding job representing his constituency in this House.
MR. BELLIVEAU « » : The community of Weymouth tried to plan ahead; they knew that their doctor was retiring and they tried to put a plan in place. It was after the doctor had retired that the Health Authority told them they could no longer be issued a billing number for a doctor in Weymouth.
Families in the community deserve to know what their government plans to do to keep their promise of a doctor for every Nova Scotian. Will the Premier table a list of the communities, like Weymouth, that will not have access to a doctor?
We know, as we look across this province, there's more work to do. It's why the minister announced recently around family practice nurses and nurse practitioners, 22 that we dispersed across the province to enhance collaborative care teams providing services to 14,000 other Nova Scotians.
We're going to continue to work along with our health care providers, to make sure we provide the working environment they want to work in and in communities across this province.
MR. BELLIVEAU « » : Mr. Speaker, this is a serious issue. The Premier wants to think he has the answers to these questions, and he doesn't seem to think he owes Nova Scotia an explanation. We've heard him on the experience in Weymouth and we've heard from officials from the Nova Scotia Health Authority that some communities will no longer have a family doctor.
Mr. Speaker, is it the position of this government that some communities in this province will no longer have a family doctor?
THE PREMIER « » : Mr. Speaker, again I want to thank the honourable member for the question. Again I want to remind him and tell him we're working with physicians, health care providers across the province to provide a collaborative practice approach in communities across Nova Scotia. We're seeing positive signs in communities.
Dr. Tom Marrie, who started the rural residency program, has provided a good launching pad, Mr. Speaker. It takes time for those physicians who have been out working in those communities continue to do that. We're building on those and we're seeing positive news in communities. Thankfully, communities are more optimistic about the future of this province than the NDP.
PREM.: CRAFT BEER INDUSTRY - REMITTANCE TAX
HON. JAMIE BAILLIE « » : Mr. Speaker, the craft beer industry in Nova Scotia is being unfairly taxed. They pay a 50 cents-per-litre remittance tax to the Liquor Corporation even if they don't actually use the services of our liquor stores. That is unfair for the craft brewers of the province. They are being unfairly treated by this government.
They have reached out and asked for a fair system, Mr. Speaker, and the government is not listening. I'd like to ask the Premier, why is he continuing to allow this unfair tax on the backs of Nova Scotia's craft beer producers?
THE PREMIER « » : Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the craft beer producers across the province who continue to provide opportunity in communities. They have reached out to us. I have actually gone to visit a number of them. I continue to work with them. They have reached out to us, we're working with them and we'll find a solution that works for them and works for Nova Scotia.
MR. BAILLIE « » : Mr. Speaker, I think what the Premier meant is he'd like to thank them for the money that they are required to pay to his government that they get nothing in return for. That's the problem.
They have been speaking up for two years about this unfair system, Mr. Speaker. They get lip service from the government - no pun meant that the beer industry gets lip service. I try and visit as many of them as I can. They make great product, they just want to be treated fairly. The government is actually treating the wine industry much better than the beer industry, which seems to me to be very unfair.
I'd like to ask the Premier, why does his government treat the wine industry more favourably than they do the craft beer industry?
THE PREMIER « » : Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the honourable member for the question. As he knows, we are very proud of the wine industry across this province, craft brewers across the province who continue to employ Nova Scotians, create opportunities to invest in those communities.
We have said to them we'll continue to work with them to find an option. Not every brewer in this province actually believes the solution is the same as every other one so we're working on trying to find a common solution so we can apply it across the province, Mr. Speaker. We want to thank them for their continued investment in this province and for continuing to provide such a great product, not only for the citizens of this province but for those who come into it.
EECD - PROV. ASSESSMENTS: REMOVAL
- MIN. ANNOUNCEMENT - TIMING
MS. LENORE ZANN « » : Mr. Speaker, my question today is for the Minister of Education and Early Childhood Development. The partnership established to address teachers' concerns about their working conditions is scheduled to meet for the first time this Thursday. However, this morning the minister chose to make an announcement saying that she is suspending provincial assessments, many of which have already taken place.
Mr. Speaker, one can only conclude that this is another example of the minister's "mother knows best" approach to decision making, which leads to my question. Why did the minister decide to make this announcement today before meeting with the partnership that she established to address these very concerns about teachers' working conditions?
HON. KAREN CASEY « » : Mr. Speaker, to all members of the House, I think it's no secret that I have been listening to teachers over the last few months and it's also fair to say that those meetings I've had with teachers have been passionate but they have been respectful. They raised their concerns, and it became very clear that one of their major concerns was the amount of instruction time that was taken from the classroom in order to administer standardized tests.
So, recognizing that, I wanted to respond. We needed to make sure that they did not feel the pressure of that and, therefore, we made the announcement.
MS. ZANN « » : Mr. Speaker, well, perhaps the minister is unaware that in this province we have a process for negotiating contracts and addressing concerns that the public sector workers have about their working conditions - it's called the collective bargaining process.
The Nova Scotia Teachers Union is the organization responsible for speaking on behalf of teachers in these negotiations, but the NSTU was not invited to the minister's announcement this morning and, in fact, were not even notified until 15 minutes before the event.
So my question is, does this minister think it's appropriate that the union representing the teachers, 9,300 teachers of Nova Scotia, was only given 15 minutes' notice of this morning's announcement, and why does she continue to try to throw the union under the bus?
MS. CASEY « » : Mr. Speaker, a great opportunity to stand and acknowledge, and I expect all members of the House would acknowledge, that decisions that are made with respect to improvements in our school system have been for years, and will continue to be, made outside of the collective bargaining process. We do not need to be at the table to do what's best for kids.
MUN. AFFS.: GUYSBOROUGH DIST. MUN. WARDEN (FMR.)
MR. JOHN LOHR « » : Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Municipal Affairs. According to Visa credit card statements obtained by our caucus, the former Warden of Guysborough charged taxpayers more than $20,000 over an 11-month period - and I'll table that. Over $9,000 was for flights; over $10,000 was for hotels; and $1,200 was for taxi rides - almost $3,000 was for meals in restaurants.
My question for the minister is this, does the minister believe this is an appropriate use of taxpayer dollars?
HON. ZACH CHURCHILL « » : Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for the question. What we need to focus on as a province is ensuring that there is a standardized regulatory framework around expenses across the province. A big challenge that has risen to the forefront during this conversation is that each municipal unit does have different rules around expenses and reimbursements and we think it is absolutely critical to get everybody on the same page, have a standardized set of rules, and we of course want a big part of that to include having all municipal expenses put online for public consumption, so that the public can properly assess and judge where those expenses are and if it's worth their while.
MR. LOHR « » : Thank you, minister, for that answer. Mr. Speaker, on July 15, 2011, in documents that I will table here, the warden charged $41 for meals at Darrell's Restaurant in Halifax, $23 and $18, yet in the claim for July 15th of that day there was a per diem charge for breakfast, lunch, and for the day, totalling $84.
My question for the minister is, does the minister believe that it's okay to double dip on meal expenses?
MR. CHURCHILL « » : Mr. Speaker, of course not. All of us hold ourselves to the highest standard when it comes to expenses in our own constituencies, and of course we want municipalities and their elected officials to hold themselves to that high standard, which is why we want to ensure there's a standardized set of rules and that all election expenses are put online for public consumption, so that we can have a system of expenses in this province that the public can have great confidence in. Thank you very much.
MUN. AFFS. - CARROLL, BARRY:
GUYSBOROUGH DIST. MUN. - LUGGAGE EXPENSE
MR. ALLAN MACMASTER « » : Mr. Speaker, a question for the Minister of Municipal Affairs. I hear the minister's answers, and it's clear that he wants to fix things going forward, but it's also very clear that he's not really interested in looking at what has gone on in the past. So, another case, a statement in the name of Barry Carroll, the CAO of Guysborough, contains a $278 purchase at a luggage store on Spring Garden Road in Halifax.
Does the minister feel the people of Guysborough would find it acceptable to be paying for what appears to be Mr. Carroll's personal luggage?
HON. ZACH CHURCHILL « » : Mr. Speaker, I think the people of Guysborough County, I think the people of Richmond County, I think the people from every single municipal unit in this province would like to see their municipal expenses online so that they, themselves, can judge for themselves the value of those expenses. Thank you very much.
MR. MACMASTER « » : I think the people in Guysborough and Richmond would actually take exception to that comment. I think they want to know what has gone on in the past. In the case of Richmond, it wasn't until citizens got the Ombudsman involved that the minister and the government decided to act. In Guysborough, we're seeing the same pattern of what appears to be Liberals protecting Liberals at the expense of taxpayers. There's a lot of smoke here, and where there's smoke, there's fire. Must we bring out a daily laundry list of inappropriate expenses before the minister acts by conducting a forensic audit on Guysborough County?
MR. CHURCHILL « » : I have patiently sat in this House and listened to that member present his account of events that just so happen to be in line with his partisan intentions. I have seen that member argue in favour of having the executive branch of government interfere with independent investigations. I have listened to that member level personal attacks on the character and integrity of members of this House. I wonder if that member realizes that when he disrespects a member in this Chamber in that way, he is not just disrespecting that member; he is disrespecting the people who have given him the confidence to sit in this seat. In the case of the member for Richmond, who has been given the confidence of his constituents for six consecutive elections, who has served that community faithfully for 20 years, I do not think that's appropriate. Mr. Speaker, I know that that member considers himself to be judge, jury, and executioner in all events related to this, and it's for that reason that I call him Trump. It has nothing to do with a comb-over.
LAE - THE CHRONICLE HERALD STRIKE:
IND. INQUIRY BD. - MIN. OFFER
HON. DAVID WILSON « » : My question is for the Minister of Labour and Advanced Education. The women and men who work in the newsroom at The Chronicle Herald have been off the job and on the picket line for over 10 months. Negotiations with their employer broke down once again this Friday. It had been the first time in six months that they both met at the bargaining table. Now the union representing these workers has launched an unfair labour practice complaint against the company. Its members have offered drastic concessions to wages and benefits, but the The Chronicle Herald is still refusing to make compromises of its own. I would like to ask the minister, will her government offer an industrial inquiry board in an attempt to resolve this labour dispute?
HON. KELLY REGAN « » : If a party to a negotiation feels that the other party is behaving inappropriately during that negotiation, there is a process available to them. They can make a complaint to me, and I will send it to the Labour Board.
MR. DAVID WILSON « » : This strike has gone on for far too long. These are men and women who work hard in our province, many of them for decades, for The Chronicle Herald. We know the minister has taken the stance of being neutral in these labour disputes, but Mr. Speaker, her government hasn't taken that stance. We see the government of the day continuing to place ads in The Chronicle Herald. This just adds to the fact that these workers remain on the street. I've asked the Premier in the last session, and I'll ask the Premier again, will the Premier stop placing ads in The Chronicle Herald and ensure that these workers have a fair chance of getting a bargaining event so that they can get back to work?
THE PREMIER « » : I, too, share the honourable member's concern. This strike has gone on for a long time. We want to see a resolution to this. But he knows there's a process. If one of the sides feels that they are being treated unfairly, they can appeal to the Minister of Labour and Advanced Education, who then would respond. We have used every medium to reach out to talk to Nova Scotians, to promote to Nova Scotians. He would also know that a member of his own caucus, the member for Truro-Bible Hill-Millbrook- Salmon River, when she was running against him for the leadership, actually used that paper to communicate to Nova Scotians. We use that. I will tell him that we are doing less advertising in that paper than previous governments.
HEALTH & WELLNESS: COUREY REVIEW - TIME FRAME
MR. ANDREW YOUNGER « » : On May 5th, during budget estimates, I raised with the Minister of Health and Wellness an issue regarding inconsistency of mental health services in Nova Scotia's ERs. The minister responded that Dr. Linda Courey was reviewing the issue, and she would soon report back her findings, and further, that would be followed by the minister releasing a timeline for implementation of her recommendations. It has been six months. When can we expect the results of Dr. Courey's review, and when will the minister announce a timeline and action plan to address problems of inconsistency in mental health services in our ERs?
HON. LEO GLAVINE « » : Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for raising an important question on the floor today. In terms of health services planning for the province and looking at where further work for mental health needs to occur, that report will be presented to me within a matter of weeks. I look forward to getting that report, but more importantly, to acting on its plan for the future.
MR. YOUNGER « » : Well, Mr. Speaker, I think we all look forward to seeing that report. The one thing the minister also said was that he planned to speak to Dr. Courey soon - that was six months ago - to identify the highest-need areas in the province for acute and day-to-day mental health issues.
Given it was six months ago when he said he wanted to do that so he could take action right away, what areas of the province did Dr. Courey tell the minister have the highest needs for acute and day-to-day mental health care?
MR. GLAVINE « » : Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for that question. It's one that I was reviewing just today with Bell Canada and the new program they have launched for the next five years. I've asked them to look at what is that very, very important area, an area that needs a lot of help. That is the transition years of 19 to 25 years of age.
JUSTICE: JAILS - CONTRABAND SCANNING
MR. ALLAN MACMASTER « » : Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Justice. This morning the minister was kind enough to facilitate a tour for a number of us to attend the Central Nova Scotia Correctional Facility, otherwise known as the Burnside jail. It was a very educational experience.
One of the things we learned about was drugs and contraband. Right when you're coming into the jail, you can see all the efforts and steps that are taken to try to prevent those things from coming into the jail. We learned about the searches made on people who are coming in as inmates.
Mr. Speaker, those searches can only go so far. Has the minister looked into what technology might be available to scan inmates who may be concealing drugs inside their very bodies?
HON. DIANA WHALEN « » : Mr. Speaker, today was a good day to see the facility at Burnside and get to have a glimpse into how it's operated. There's no question that contraband is of great concern to us, particularly drugs that get into the jail. Every effort is made at present, as you could see today, to prevent that.
Perhaps I can say more in the second answer.
MR. MACMASTER « » : Mr. Speaker, I think some of the inmates are likely looking for an escape. They don't have much in terms of freedom in there - we wouldn't expect them to have it. I think they're looking for an escape, but drugs can create safety issues for staff, for the inmates themselves, and also for the public, who aren't even inside the facility. People are getting and serving intermittent sentences, so they're coming in and out of the facility to serve on weekends, and this can lead to threats made against their family members if they don't smuggle drugs in on the next day they're coming in to serve that sentence.
My question is, would the minister have a closer look at what technology is available?
MS. WHALEN « » : Mr. Speaker, that is something that we will be doing, looking at what the best standard across the country is. We'll be looking at what the federal penitentiaries are doing, as well, to see if we can stay in line with the security measures there.
I think an important point that should be raised today is that we are also working very hard with the Department of Health and Wellness to provide for naloxone - I think that's the name of the drug - which will help in cases of overdoses, so we'll be able to respond should that occur within our jails. We think that's a big concern, and it's part of our opioid response. I think that's important. Thank you.
PREM. - FACEBOOK AD: N.S. TEACHERS/STUDENTS - LACK EXPLAIN
HON. PAT DUNN « » : Mr. Speaker, I'll direct my question to the Premier. The Liberal Party launched a Facebook ad recently showing happy teachers and smiling children. It turns out, according to media reports, that those photos were taken by an Estonian photographer, likely of Estonian children and teachers. Estonia, a country in northern Europe, gained its freedom from the Soviets in 1991. The children and teachers are very happy because Estonians actually made an investment in their education system, investments that made positive changes in the classroom. They offer early childhood education for free beginning at 18 months. All students receive their free lunch and classroom sizes are capped at 18.
My question to the Premier, why didn't the Premier use photographs of Nova Scotia teachers and students in the ad? Perhaps he couldn't find any who were happy or smiling, due to recent developments in education.
THE PREMIER « » : Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the honourable member for the question. I want to acknowledge the great work being done by the Minister of Education and Early Childhood Development. I want to acknowledge the teachers across this province who are standing in front of our students each and every day, inspiring them to reach their full potential.
We'll continue to work with them. I'm proud of the fact that since coming into government we continued to invest in classrooms. We've capped class sizes, we work with teachers to reduce outcomes. We've acknowledged there's more work to do. I'm proud of the fact today that the government responded to what we're hearing from teachers and I'm looking forward to the meeting on November 10th when the union, school boards and the minister can continue to work to make sure we're improving the learning environment across the province.
MR. DUNN « » : Mr. Speaker, for the past two and a half weeks I've been talking about cutting the power cord to TIENET, PowerSchool, giving resource teachers a chance to work with struggling students, looking at an attendance policy that's meaningful, putting a discipline policy in that has teeth in it. I'm glad they're listening.
Mr. Speaker, the advertisement features stock product and the ad was done by an out-of-province vendor. My question to the Premier is, why did the Premier choose to paint a happy picture with Estonian photographs, rather than getting back to the table to avert an education strike?
THE PREMIER « » : Mr. Speaker, I want to tell the honourable member that parents across this province are very pleased with the classrooms their kids are in. They know there's more work to do with them. I'm very proud of the fact that the minister is working with the Teachers Union president and her colleagues, looking forward to going back to the table.
The announcement today was a show of good faith on behalf of our government and to the union that we've listened to teachers, that we've listened to what's happening. We know there's more work to do and we're looking forward to the conversation to make sure we continue to improve the learning environment across this province.
ENVIRON. - DEPT. STAFF: MUZZLING - CONFIRM
HON. DENISE PETERSON-RAFUSE « » : Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Environment. A recent article in the Halifax Examiner called "Muzzling the Forest Keepers" raises serious questions about censorship in her department. The article claims that an ecologist in the Protected Areas branch was reprimanded following a presentation he gave in 2014. The presentation contained a slide that questioned the sustainability of forest harvesting. Apparently the Associate Deputy Minister of DNR was upset when he saw the presentation and contacted the ecologist's boss. I will table that.
My question to the minister is, was a member of her department reprimanded after raising concerns about forest harvesting?
HON. MARGARET MILLER « » : Mr. Speaker, what a great opportunity this is for me to share Nova Scotia's - first of all, pardon me for my speech, I've got a rotten cold today so it's really going to affect my thought process even.
Anyway, I want to actually commend Nova Scotians for the great job they're doing. We are on target to protect up to 13 per cent of our forests. This is a big success story for Nova Scotia and I know there have been concerns about areas that have been cut near federal parks and near provincial parks. I can assure all Nova Scotians there will be no clear-cutting done on any provincial park properties.
MS. PETERSON-RAFUSE « » : Mr. Speaker, I wish the minister would answer the question of whether the staff person was reprimanded, and the 13 per cent protection was done under the mandate of the NDP Government. This article raises the question, what happens when there is a conflict between the Departments of Environment and Natural Resources? Apparently there's some tension around forest harvesting.
The Minister of Natural Resources has defended the government's decision to step away from the 50 per cent clear-cutting target. However, we have not heard from the Minister of Environment on this issue.
Mr. Speaker, I'd like to ask the minister, what is the position of her department on DNR's decision to step away from the clear-cutting target set out in the natural resources strategy and did the member from her department get reprimanded?
MS. MILLER « » : Mr. Speaker, I fail to understand why the member opposite would even bring up what my position is on the DNR topic. It certainly isn't something that I am going to respond - and as for the member, whether they be reprimanded or not, that's an HR issue and certainly not one for this House. Thank you.
HEALTH & WELLNESS - 811 LINE: MEDICAL ADVICE - WAIT TIME
HON. CHRISTOPHER D'ENTREMONT « » : Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Health and Wellness. After the Nova Scotia Health Authority contact line failed, the government launched another way to find a family doctor. The thousands of Nova Scotians without a family doctor are now required to call 811 to get on a waiting list. There are a number of issues with this, the fact that the situation is so dire that we need a provincial list - for the first time ever - that is a sign that there is a serious problem going on. The second is that this service is meant to assist people with medical questions only. So my question to the minister is, what is the average wait time for those seeking medical advice since this policy was incorporated?
HON. LEO GLAVINE « » : Mr. Speaker, as the member may know, one thing to bring further clarification to 811, it's an entry to be able to get direct medical information. It has proven itself, over the last number of years, to be very valuable, preventing visits to the ER that aren't necessary, and 811 is an entry point now, to register your name if you don't have a family doctor and want to register and be on the list when one is available.
MR. D'ENTREMONT « » : We want everyone in Nova Scotia to have a doctor, just like the Liberals promised in their election campaign. But this is the first time ever we've had to create a true registry of people without a family physician. A constituent we know waited more than an hour on the line last week waiting for medical help. It makes you wonder if there is an issue with understaffing, or if 811 is no longer delivering on its mandate. So my question to the minister is, will this newly added service result in additional resources and staff added to the 811 mandate and budget, in order for them to do the work you've asked them to do?
MR. GLAVINE « » : That was the first decision in terms of using 811 as an entry point for registering for a family doctor. Also, it is helping us identify those areas that do have the highest need; we don't always have that full information available. It also helps to prioritize what areas will get a family doctor. We did add resources to 811. There is a means and a mechanism to go to different information sources through 811, and it may be a matter of familiarization with that process.
TIR: GRAND MIRA SOUTH ROAD - ACTION PLAN
HON. ALFIE MACLEOD « » : Mr. Speaker, my question through you is to the Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal. As I said in the past, the minister has been kind enough to attend a couple of meetings in the community of Grand Mira South to talk about the conditions of the road in that area. After the last meeting, the plan was to go back and look at what is possible to be done in the next construction season for that road. I wonder if the minister would inform us and the people of Grand Mira South, what is the action plan for that road?
HON. GEOFF MACLELLAN » : I thank the member for the question. Grand Mira South is a road that has certainly received an increased priority for the department for local representatives Roy MacDonald and Gerard Jessome, who the member knows very well. There is no doubt about it, with the amount of buzz in the community, and the amount of things that are happening on the Grand Mira South side of the river, there is a significant amount of work required for Grand Mira South. We did a tremendous investment in Grand Mira North last season, and we're certainly looking at the increased amount of attention and work on Grand Mira South. It's certainly needed, and with respect to this road, we're fortunate that we can take the politics out of this. This is an important road for that region, and we're going to get a lot of work done in the 2017 capital season. Thank you.
MR. MACLEOD « » : I want to thank the minister for that answer. I would like to follow up with a question about a road he may be familiar about. It's called the New Boston Road, and my question to the minister is, would he have his department at least look at what we call the Albert Bridge end? There's quite an incline when you go up that road, to New Boston, and it is a safety concern in the wintertime with buses and other people travelling on that road. In past conversations, we haven't been successful in getting the whole road paved, but I would like him to consider the incline as part of a paving project for safety concerns.
MR. MACLELLAN « » : Mr. Speaker, we all know that this is the one that the member has brought to the floor of the House many times, and his colleagues have done as well on his behalf. The New Boston Road certainly is a relatively solid gravel road, and I know that the member and others have pushed to have that paved. However, the volumes are extremely low, so it's tough to get it on that priority list now.
However, the member brings up a different aspect of that, certainly, with respect to safety. I know that Gerard, Roy, and myself would be happy to get out and take a look before the winter season hits. If there's something we can do to improve safety, then obviously we'd look at that in the very near future.
COM. SERV. - HBR. CITY HOMES: RESIDENTS - INFO.
MS. LISA ROBERTS « » : Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Community Services. In the summer of 2015, the non-profit Harbour City Homes in Halifax Needham sold nine of its buildings to private owners; 34 affordable rental units were lost in order to finance repairs on its other buildings. The remaining tenants have been left in a state of great uncertainty. They were not aware of the financial straits of their housing non-profit and are still waiting to receive updates that were promised to them. It's not known if more tenants could lose their homes.
I ask the minister, what is this government doing to ensure that these residents receive the information they need about the future of their housing?
HON. JOANNE BERNARD » : I thank you for the question. I actually met with tenants of Harbour City Homes about a year ago and assured them that we would work with them as a department to provide whether it be rent supplements or other housing options within an area that they wanted to choose to live in.
As you know, Harbour City Homes is privately owned. Housing Nova Scotia had looked at what the viability was of saving some of those units, and there was a lot of work that needed to be done. We have worked closely not only with the tenants there, but also with the tenants of the non-profit Brunswick Street Housing, of which Housing Nova Scotia actually took over and has now assumed those mortgages so that that affordable stock isn't lost in Halifax Needham.
MS. ROBERTS « » : Well, Mr. Speaker, perhaps it's time for the minister to have a follow-up meeting. I'd certainly be happy to join her at that because they are still waiting and wondering a year later, including experiencing frustrations that they don't have a voice at the level of the board.
On Thursday, the minister argued that working with private developers is the way to improve affordable housing in Halifax. I recognize that private developers are part of the solution, but they're not the silver bullet. HRM's housing needs assessments stated that 20 per cent of households in the municipality fall into the first two income brackets and require non-market housing but only 4 per cent of the supply is non-market, so we need to both increase the supply and protect current units.
I ask the minister, what is her government doing to ensure that more affordable rental units are not sold off and lost to the private market?
MS. BERNARD « » : I believe the member for Halifax Needham just clearly and distinctly reiterated the difference between her Party's position on affordable housing and ours. Mixed use/mixed income as it is all over North America is the wave of the future for affordable housing. We are working with private developers in HRM in every hamlet in this province to ensure that mixed use/mixed income is happening. I'm actually doing it in her riding which will be announced in the near future - constituency, sorry. That is the wave of the future for affordable housing in Nova Scotia, and that combined with rent supplements have resulted in a 10 per cent decrease in the last year.
TIR - DIRT RDS.: CHLORIDE APPLICATION - BUDGET INCREASE
MS. KARLA MACFARLANE « » : Mr. Speaker, my question through you is to the Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal. Pictou West has many dirt roads. In fact, I believe I receive more calls about dust control than snow removal. Given the fact that climate change is a reality and we have witnessed one of our driest summers ever, is the minister considering increasing the budget specifically for the application of chloride on dirt roads?
HON. GEOFF MACLELLAN « » : I thank the member for the question, Mr. Speaker. Obviously the idea of dirt roads and gravel roads is one that has been discussed many times on many different opportunities here in the House, and I know that MLAs on all sides of the floor have a significant issue with gravel roads.
As the member would remember, we have been advancing an idea of capitalizing these gravel roads and getting them out of the operational component of TIR into the capital plan, which will certainly help make those investments. Again, once you do that and make that transition into the capital plan, then obviously the things like chloride treatment, brush cutting, ditching, all the services that go along with maintaining and strengthening the gravel roads will be part of that.
We are very aware of the challenge with gravel roads in this province, and I can assure the member that our department is working on solutions.
MS. MACFARLANE « » : Mr. Speaker, I thank the minister for those answers. The overgrowth of trees, brush and other vegetation alongside the roads in Pictou West this summer quickly became a safety hazard. My office received calls from residents who didn't even want to walk or bike, in fear of being hit.
One elderly lady called my office in tears as she almost hit an individual on the Caribou Island Road because the grass grew to over five feet.
Mr. Speaker, I know that many of us heard similar stories throughout the province this year, so my question is, does the minister have a specific plan to invest in increased manpower and equipment to properly deal with the safety issue for next summer?
Back to the original answer to the member's first question - this is about the gradual decaying and the deterioration of the thousands and thousands of kilometres of gravel roads that we have that really have remained untreated and uncared for in a major way for the last number of decades. That's no fault of any particular government; it's just the broad expanse of our gravel network here in the province. There's a lot of work to be done and it's at the tipping point now where we have got to treat not only the road surface and the roadbed, but get at the brush cutting and the ditching and the major components of these gravel roads that makes them safe and passable.
I certainly hear many stories similar to what the member had mentioned with the brush cutting, and that's why we have to get to a different plan and capitalize those roads that we can get at the work right away, beginning in 2017. Thanks.
LAE - BILL NO. 61: LAW AMENDMENTS COMM. - RETURN EXPLAIN
MR. EDDIE ORRELL « » : Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Labour and Advanced Education. Yesterday we sat in Law Amendments Committee to hear people talk about the flaws of Bill No. 61 - Construction Projects Labour Relations Act. We were told that Cape Breton, whose tradespeople will be greatly affected by this bill, were never consulted in the bill process.
The bill was stayed at Law Amendments Committee and brought back to the department for consideration. Not two hours later, Mr. Speaker, we were told that the bill was to be brought back to Law Amendments Committee today.
My question to the minister is, is this any way to treat the people in this province, send them away thinking the bill would be considered at Law Amendments Committee and put it back on the table before these people even got home. How much consideration can be done in that one hour?
HON. KELLY REGAN « » : Mr. Speaker, I know it's not normal practice to answer a question about a bill that's before the House, but I'm really happy to answer this one. In fact, many times during the process leading up to the bill being tabled in this House, we asked the stakeholders many times - during the drafting, during the review process - whether there were other people who should be consulted, whether there are other groups that should be consulted. Several were identified and we reached out to them.
With respect to the Cape Breton Trades Council, we asked whether they should be part of the group working on the legislation. Since the lawyer for the mainland trades was also the lawyer for Cape Breton trades, he agreed to contact the head of the Trades Council and discuss the issue with him.
We were advised that the Cape Breton Trades Council was not interested in being involved directly. They did prefer to have the legislation, however, cover Cape Breton in case it would be of use to them later.
MR. ORRELL « » : Mr. Speaker, those presenters and the people at home hoped the department would reconsider this bill and not include Cape Breton, as the minister just said, because Cape Breton does their negotiations with their tradespeople, but they were thrown in anyway.
My question to the minister is, is this the way this government thinks it should negotiate with labour groups in this province?
MS. REGAN « » : Mr. Speaker, multiple drafts included the Cape Breton project. At any time their lawyer could have objected. We were told they were fully aware of this project and they were in favour of it. Thank you.
JUSTICE: WATERVILLE YOUTH CORRECTIONAL FACILITY
- WORKERS' CONCERNS
MS. MARIAN MANCINI « » : My question is for the Minister of Justice. In September, a riot at the Waterville youth correctional facility raised serious questions about the procedures and practices in place for staff and youth at the facility. The president of NSGEU has said that workers were aware of potential safety hazards prior to the riot. However, staff pointed out that the Occupational Health and Safety Committee had not been working, which left concerns unaddressed, and I'll table that. My question to the minister is, why were workers' concerns going unaddressed in the Waterville youth correctional facility?
HON. DIANA WHALEN « » : Since that time, we've received a report about what happened. That has been posted on our website and made available to everybody. The Occupational Health and Safety Committee there does meet on a regular basis, three or four times a year. So we know that it isn't inactive. We have agreed to work with the staff there to ensure that all of their concerns continue to be met.
MS. MANCINI « » : I am concerned that the minister and her department may not know what issues need to be addressed until after an incident has taken place. The minister recently had to request the removal of handcuffs from a female inmate in hospital after the woman had already spent time shackled to her bed. At Waterville, a riot had to take place before the department decided to take action. Mr. Speaker, if I had not brought the lack of segregation data to the minister's attention, I'm not certain that would have been on her radar either. I ask the minister, with all due respect, when will she stop being only reactive and start being proactive to address the ongoing concerns in her department?
MS. WHALEN « » : I think one thing that's really important to note while we're talking about Waterville is that Waterville has been open almost 30 years and has never had an incident like they had this summer. It has never happened. It's extremely unusual. They have a wonderful system at Waterville. It's not a place where they're all locked up. It's a place where they have direct supervision. All through the day, they actually mingle and work and live their lives with the youth workers who are there. It has worked well for many years. In fact, it's the standard of care, the right type of supervision for youth. I'm very proud of the facility at Waterville.
COM. SERV. - INCOME ASSISTANCE: HOUSING OPTIONS - FUNDING
HON. PAT DUNN « » : My question is for the Minister of Community Services. The following question is a result of a couple of constituents who dropped by my office recently at different times but with the same problem. They are on income assistance. They tell me if they can find an apartment, they are eligible for $535 per month. However, if they are renting a room in a house where they share a bathroom and a kitchen, they will only receive $223 per month.
Mr. Speaker, it is virtually impossible to find a decent apartment for $535 per month that includes power, heat, et cetera. My question to the minister is, why is there such a discrepancy between the funding available to people attempting to find a clean, decent room to live in, compared to a run-down apartment?
HON. JOANNE BERNARD « » : I think the member opposite highlights perfectly the need for transformation within the system. Telling people where they can and cannot live based on a specific sum of money has been a practice of the department for decades. It's paternalistic. It doesn't meet the basic needs of people. When we go out and speak to our stakeholders again this month, we will hear those stories again. It's all part of the transformation that we're very well entrenched in right now. We'll be announcing changes in the coming year.
MR. DUNN « » : With the shortage of apartments at this cost in our area and other areas across the province, rooming becomes a viable option. Some rooming houses across the province have been grandfathered, and if you live in one of those, you will receive the full amount. These two constituents feel they are being punished because they have to leave a clean, affordable living situation to find an apartment that will not improve their self-esteem or provide improvements in their daily life.
My question to the minister, and I believe the minister practically answered this - in these two cases, by the way, the owners of the rooming house are not related to these constituents - will the minister review this policy and make the necessary changes to help Nova Scotians in need of a better place in which to live?
Before we move on to government business, the honourable Minister of Education and Early Childhood Development on an introduction.
HON. KAREN CASEY « » : Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity and I would like to draw members' attention to the gallery opposite, where we have visiting us the President of the Nova Scotia Teachers Union, Liette Doucet. I would ask you to stand, Liette, and thank you for your contribution to kids in this province. (Applause)
[2:51 p.m. The House resolved itself into a CWH on Bills with Deputy Speaker Mr. Keith Irving in the Chair.]
[3:00 p.m. CWH on Bills rose and the House reconvened with Deputy Speaker Mr. Keith Irving in the Chair.]
Bill No. 55 - Municipal and Other Authorities Pension Plan Transfer Act.
Bill No. 62 - Municipal Government Act and Halifax Regional Municipality Charter.
both without amendment, and the chairman has been instructed to recommend these bills to the favourable consideration of the House.
It is agreed.
Ordered that these bills be read a third time on a future day.
The honourable Government House Leader.
PUBLIC BILLS FOR THIRD READING
Bill No. 22 - Halifax Regional Water Commission Act.
HON. ZACH CHURCHILL « » : Mr. Speaker, it's my pleasure to move third reading of Bill No. 22. I would like to present the House with some updates in relation to a previous conversation we had around forcing in law that the Halifax Regional Water Commission have their meetings public. As the House would know, I did send a letter to Mayor Savage indicating that that was a conversation that had been initiated in the House through the Law Amendments Committee and then in the Legislature. I have received a response that I would like to share with the House. I won't read the whole thing, but I will table it for my colleagues:
Thank you for your letter dated November 23rd. The Halifax Regional Municipality is supportive of meetings of municipal entities such as Halifax Water being open to attendance by the public, subject to the same rules that apply to HRM as they relate to its private meetings. Further, HRM will ask the Halifax Water Board of Commissioners at its November board meeting to consider amendments to its board governance policy to allow public attendance.
I will table that, Mr. Speaker. I think that is very encouraging. We have also spoken with legal counsel for Halifax Water and they received a copy of our letter as well. It seems like they are also interested in making that policy change at the local governance level - and I do think that is the appropriate place to allow that change to happen.
I know that from a perception standpoint it makes sense to enshrine that in the law of the province, but I do think it's actually better that we allow this governance agency to take that on from a policy perspective because I do think that our boards and commissions across the province should have some ability to self-governance and govern themselves and make the policy adjustments in terms of how they operate as they see fit.
I do fear setting a precedence of enshrining something that is so specific to the governance of that board in the law of the province. I do think it is better that it does happen at the governance level of the board and at the policy level.
With that said, I am encouraged to hear back from the mayor that this is something they will be pursuing as well, to have these meetings made available to the public. In hearing back from the Water Commission it seems like that request from HRM and the intent of the conversations we've had in this Legislature might lead, and I think will lead, to a positive change in relation to this. Thank you very much.
MS. KARLA MACFARLANE « » : Mr. Speaker, I am happy to hear the minister's comments because I know in the last week when we've been debating this bill and as well in Law Amendments Committee, we heard from many presenters and concerns around this so it's very refreshing to hear that his department is listening to the taxpayers of areas especially like Hammonds Plains, Lucasville, Timberlea, Halifax Atlantic, because I did hear from a number of those taxpayers out there.
I know it has been an issue for a number of years. When you live out in that area and you have your own wells and you have your own septic and you are paying hundreds of dollars every few years to have your septic cleaned out, as well as your water tested, these are expenses that you absorb yourself, and it's definitely necessary for us to listen to the taxpayers who have informed me - we've clarified that they were at no time consulted. I do believe that there was an ad taken out at one point in time that said: public meeting for customers. Those individuals - 15,000 people, actually - were not considered customers, but they ended up with a ditch tax bill of $39. I know that it doesn't seem like a very large amount of money, but it certainly is concerning when we don't consult.
This is really good news, I'm really pleased to hear this, and the members in those areas who are very concerned about this bill, I'm sure that they will be going back with this positive news. We're very pleased. We know that the rest of the bill was basically surrounding a lot of housekeeping, and was a fair bill. This sounds very positive, we're happy to hear this, and I thank the minister for taking the issue seriously and making contact with those important stakeholders and beginning a dialogue that sounds very positive. Thank you.
HON. DAVID WILSON « » : Mr. Speaker, I'm glad to rise to speak on this for a few moments. I appreciate the minister's attempt to address an issue that was brought up by residents for some time now, but most recently an issue was brought up at Law Amendments Committee, and that was the fact that the Halifax Regional Water Commission board meetings are closed to the public, and people who have concerns, who have issues, or have an interest in the goings on of the Water Commission, were denied that access.
So I appreciate the minister's attempt, after Law Amendments Committee was finished and Committee of the Whole House finished with the process, but I am still concerned, because if the minister reviewed some of the information that was provided at Law Amendments Committee - there was an email exchange from a concerned citizen that requested, directly to the board, the ability to attend the meeting. It was the response from the board to that resident that indicated, no, you can't come to the meeting, there has to be a change in the Municipal Government Act.
I know that the mayor has responded to the minister's letter indicating that HRM will ask the Halifax Regional Water Commission board, at its November meeting, to consider amending its board governance policy, to allow public attendance. I'm a bit concerned that this is just going to sweep it under the rug. If that's the case, if that's the ability of the board, then why are they responding to residents, saying it has to be a change in the charter, in the Municipal Government Act?
I think it's time that the municipality and the province send a very clear message to an agency like the Halifax Regional Water Commission, who are dealing with hundreds of millions of dollars of taxpayers' money, that sending out a response like - was it just that they didn't want them at the meeting? Is it true that it has to be changed at the provincial level?
I'm concerned that this matter is going to continue on, the board will continue to take the stance that there was no change with the charter, the public cannot come to our meetings. I would hope that the minister understands our concern. The board themselves responded in a manner that said the Act had to be changed, and that's why our caucus supported the Progressive Conservatives' amendment - we were going to bring the same ones. I will get to the minister the information that was provided - it should be all on record, because I believe that presenter tabled his information to the committee, and it was the response to him that the board said it had to change.
I'm hesitant to say that this will be resolved. I hope that the Water Commission and its board members recognize the importance of transparency, and the need at this time to make sure that their board meetings are open to the public, so that people can attend, so that they can see what direction the Water Commission is going to go into the future, because it does have an effect on those residents.
It's no secret the bills have increased from the Water Commission to taxpayers, Mr. Speaker, over the last decade or so. I hope this sends a strong message to the board and that this is resolved. If it's not, then I would hope that the government would revisit this - I know it would probably have to be in the next sitting of the Legislature - to make sure that if it's required that the government would do that.
The honourable Minister of Municipal Affairs.
HON. ZACH CHURCHILL « » : Mr. Speaker, I do very much appreciate the comments that my colleagues have provided us here today and I do appreciate the skepticism expressed by the member for Sackville-Cobequid. However, I do have faith in the response that we've had from HRM. I do believe that the mayor has taken this . . .
MR. CHURCHILL « » : As the member has indicated, he endorsed the mayor himself which I think was a very good choice. But I do believe that the mayor has taken this situation very seriously. He has expressed in writing his intent and his desire to have an open and transparent policy when it comes to how Halifax Water conducts itself.
I do want to state, however, that some of the issues that were brought up in this Chamber do not relate to this bill in relation to the ditch tax, which I know we have received complaints about. Various members in my caucus - Hammonds Plains-Lucasville, Halifax Atlantic, Timberlea-Prospect - have all brought this issue to my attention on numerous occasions, and we are willing to further those discussions to see if there's a role for the province in that.
With this bill in particular, what it's doing is two things in particular. One, it's allowing the Halifax Regional Water Commission to have a board based on capacity. Halifax Regional Municipality wants there to be a board based on skill level - a competency-based board. I think that is a very positive change and that's the change that we're making here today, so that we do not just have people sitting on those boards to fill seats because there are certain requirements for members of council to be there. This will ensure that there is a competency-based board that will allow the Halifax Regional Water Commission to make better decisions moving forward.
Also, based on the feedback we have received from both the Halifax Regional Water Commission and HRM, we believe they are going to move forward with some policy changes around public attendance in those meetings, and I think that's very positive.
So, again, I do want to thank the members opposite for their presentations. In this particular case, I know that the arguments presented in this House by the members opposite will lead to an even further positive change in the future in relation to the Halifax Regional Water Commission. Thank you very much.
There has been a request for a recorded vote.
Ring the bells. Call in the members.
[The Division bells were rung.]
We will now conduct the recorded vote for third reading of Bill No. 22. I want to remind members to remain completely silent so that the Clerks can accurately reflect the vote. When your name is called, please signify aye or nay, or oui or non.
[The Clerk calls the roll.]
|Mr. Churchill||Mr. MacLeod|
|Ms. Bernard||Mr. Dunn|
|Ms. Regan||Mr. Baillie|
|Mr. Samson||Mr. d'Entremont|
|Mr. Glavine||Mr. David Wilson|
|Mr. Delorey||Mr. Belliveau|
|Mr. MacLellan||Ms. Peterson-Rafuse|
|Mr. Horne||Ms. Roberts|
|Mr. Stroink||Ms. Mancini|
|Mr. Hines||Mr. Orrell|
|Mr. Ince||Ms. MacFarlane|
|Mr. Furey||Mr. Houston|
|Mr. Farrell||Mr. MacMaster|
|Ms. Arab||Mr. Younger|
|Mr. Maguire||Mr. Harrison|
|Mr. Gordon Wilson|
Ordered that this bill do pass. Ordered that the title be as read by the Clerk. Ordered that the bill be engrossed.
The honourable Government House Leader.
PRIVATE MEMBERS' PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING
Bill No. 60 - Public Interest Disclosure of Wrongdoing Act.
HON. DAVID WILSON « » : Mr. Speaker, I'm glad to rise to speak for a few moments on Bill No. 60. Just to give the members a bit of history on this piece of legislation, it's one that our caucus has been working on for some time. With the proroguing of the House of the last session (Interruption)
I would like to move second reading of Bill No. 60, Mr. Speaker.
With the proroguing of the House of the last session, of course, it eliminated the order paper and the bills that were on there. In previous sessions, the government allowed this bill to get through to - I believe it was at third reading. So I appreciate the opportunity to speak for a few moments on this and on the importance of ensuring that those who work for boards, commissions, agencies, or school boards that deal with the government have some protection that's offered to the Public Service Commission.
Back in 2010 there was a bill introduced - an Act to Promote Public Interest Disclosure of Wrongdoing - which was given Royal Assent on December 10, 2010. It gave the opportunity for those working within the Public Service Commission, if they came across wrongdoing - an avenue for them to come forward and hopefully expose that wrongdoing.
We know that things were often swept under the rug in the past, Mr. Speaker, because workers - employees - were concerned that if they brought forward their concerns, they could be disciplined, which some were. Some were actually terminated from positions in government and in the province. There was much need for this legislation.
When the first piece of legislation went through, as I said, there was a group of workers who work for boards, commissions, agencies, and school boards who were not covered under that legislation. What Bill No. 60 would do is extend that coverage for any employee who works for any organization, or not-for-profit that delivers programs and services on behalf of the government.
Under legislation or under Order in Council or an agreement, or if they receive substantial revenue from the Government of Nova Scotia or funding, they would be covered under this Act.
I think we're at a point and I think the government recognizes that we are at a point that this is legislation that is needed, not only for those agencies, boards and commissions and school boards. We know there are many other areas that potentially we could be looking at putting this in, Mr. Speaker. I think we need to ensure and send a strong message to people within government, people who work for agencies and boards and commissions and school boards that provide services on behalf of the government that if they do come across wrongdoing that there is a clear avenue for them to bring that forward without any repercussions to their employment, without any fear that they may lose an opportunity to advance their employment opportunities.
I think this will be well received by those organizations and by people who think they need this protection. It's unfortunate we are in a situation that we do need legislation, but we've seen far too often example after example of people being, I think, mistreated because of them exposing wrongdoing in the workplace. Really that is the essence of Bill No. 60, Mr. Speaker, it's ensuring that people do have that avenue, that they have options, and that nobody should be afraid to speak up when they see wrongdoing in the workforce, nobody should feel like they can't come forward if they see a safety issue, for example.
We've done so much work in the province. All Parties have worked extremely hard over the last couple of decades to ensure that we have a safe workplace for people within the province, especially those who provide services on behalf of the Government of Nova Scotia. Mr. Speaker, I think this continues that work.
As I said, work around workplace safety has been going on for a number of decades under all Parties in this House. I think this piece of legislation will just continue that forward and, hopefully, we'll see an increased awareness around the opportunity for people to make sure there is some protection for them if they come across wrongdoing in their workplace.
I want to thank the Government House Leader for bringing this bill forward. I look forward to any comments from my colleagues and hopefully we could see the passing of this bill in this session of the Legislature.
The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.
The motion is carried.
Ordered that this bill be referred to the Committee on Law Amendments.
The honourable Government House Leader.
HON. MICHEL SAMSON « » : Mr. Speaker, in light of the comments from the member for Sackville-Cobequid that this bill was considered last session and did go through the Law Amendments Committee process last session, and the bill has not changed, I would ask for the unanimous consent of the House that Bill No. 60 not be required to go through Law Amendments Committee, but that it can be considered for Committee of the Whole House on tomorrow's order paper.
It is agreed.
The honourable Government House Leader.
MR. BEN JESSOME « » : Mr. Speaker, thank you very much for recognizing me here today. I'd like to kick things off by saying to the people in Hammonds Plains-Lucasville that a little over three years after being sworn in as their representative, I am just as motivated and willing to represent our issues as the day I was elected.
As many people know, I recently hit a milestone that I think everybody in this Legislature has hit before me - I turned 30 years old a couple of weeks back, I made it. It really was an opportunity to kind of do a little bit of reflection and think about some of the things in particular that have happened over the past three years. When I was first encouraged to run for this seat to represent the community that raised me, I was encouraged by people who were close to me - friends and family, neighbours and people who I had a pre-existing relationship with.
Let me be clear, Mr. Speaker, those people who encouraged me to run for office to represent our community are not people that simply pat me on the back and tell me I'm doing a good job. They certainly do their part in ensuring that I'm doing my job effectively and that I'm accountable for my actions.
In all this reflection, I have to say that what I'm truly grateful for are the new relationships I've begun to establish with people throughout our community, in particular the various ratepayers or homeowners associations throughout our community. Hammonds Plains-Lucasville is a predominantly residential area where I am charged to represent the needs of people in their homes in a major way. The people who represent their respective community boards or respective homeowners boards have in many cases worked hard to help me build a relationship with the people they represent. Throughout the community we've come together to make good on many of the projects they've brought forward.
Let me be clear, Mr. Speaker, it's the work of these organizations, these community groups, that make these projects possible for the betterment of our community, without question.
Some of the things that have taken place over the course of the time that I've been elected to represent Hammonds Plains-Lucasville include the LaPierre ballfield. Baseball is a huge part of the Hammonds Plains-Lucasville community. I had the privilege of recognizing a group of young men here in the House after winning an Atlantic championship in baseball. If you ever set foot in Hammonds Plains-Lucasville throughout a summer, you'll see the green and yellow A's hats and jackets everywhere in our community. LaPierre Field is definitely a testament to the importance of and the passion for that sport in our community.
The Uplands Park ratepayers association, which I'll be meeting with this evening, actually, has done a tremendous amount of work to create a space not just for their individual subdivision but for the community as a whole. If you're not familiar with the area, Mr. Speaker, Uplands Park is located adjacent to the Hammonds Plains Road. Thousands and thousands of cars pass by there every day. They've done a fantastic job of creating a space that's welcoming not just to their residents but to the entire community.
Another group that I certainly have to commend is the Hammonds Plains Community Centre. These folks have done a tremendous amount of work to restore what, many, many years ago, used to be a schoolhouse in Hammonds Plains. Over the course of the past three years, they've worked, in conjunction with community businesses and volunteers, to create and revitalize a space that has continued to develop as a hub for our community.
There was a tremendous amount of work put into writing grants. It's inspiring to see the work that they've put forward and the buy-in not just from the provincial government but also from the municipal government and the federal government as well. It's nice when projects like this are enabled by all levels of government. Again, I've got to recognize the people who have put the effort into making those applications and put in the hours to get that work done so that this type of a project can come to fruition.
Another thing I should mention, another reason that I'm grateful for the opportunity to continue representing our community is this summer, the community of Upper Hammonds Plains, a historic Black Nova Scotian community, was recognized with the Lieutenant Governor's Community Spirit Award. This was a tremendous feat and not one that was done by a lot of extra work outside of the work that they already do. This community is debatably one of the most inviting communities I've ever been in. I grew up going to school with kids from the community. More recently, I have been involved through the church and through the community centre. It has just been a true reason for me to keep representing them. Their hospitality - without question, there's always a hug or a kiss on the cheek coming into events in the community. It's something that I'm truly grateful for, to be the representative for people such as the people from Upper Hammonds Plains.
I would like to just summarize by saying the new relationships that I've developed over the past three years are ones that I'm truly grateful for. It's tough in some instances because I admittedly have a bit of an age gap between the people who are coming to bang on my door and myself. There's a bit of an age gap. But without question, in the rooms that I go into with the people from these various ratepayers associations, these boards, and these community organizations, they all have a tremendous amount of respect for the people that they represent. At every opportunity they could, they have made a point to develop a positive relationship with me, and I'm grateful for that.
I think several months ago at this point in time, I took the opportunity to conduct a community survey, and one of the most significant priorities or concerns that were highlighted from that survey were opportunities for youth. As I stated before, we're a predominantly residential community and many of the houses that are there, many of the families that are there have young kids living in them who have parents that are concerned about them getting a better education, about them being successful in life. They have local grandparents who are wondering, where is my granddaughter or grandson going to end up working someday? And I believe that this government has done a tremendous amount of work to create an environment where youth employment is an incredible priority, so it's something that I'm very proud that our government has put an exclamation point on.
One of the particular programs that I should reference is the Graduate to Opportunity program, and because of a previous program that did not serve the purpose to keep young Nova Scotians here in this province, this government made a point to create this program whereby we would help support the hiring of young Nova Scotians when businesses were seeking new employees. The Graduate to Opportunity program is a partnership between government and these businesses that creates jobs for recent university graduates. I know from conversations with local businesses that there are folks that have tapped into this program who are seeing the value in government supporting their initiatives to hire young Nova Scotians, and it's something that I'm glad to see that our government is committed to enhancing and supporting into the future.
Another program, if you're not necessarily a university graduate, the START program is available to support people in the skilled trades professions. There has been a tremendous amount of work by this government to create ties between other provinces so that your apprenticeship can be transferred from one point to another and that ultimately we recognize those hours of practising their trade in establishing themselves here in Nova Scotia - I think that's a tremendous step forward.
Another thing that I should mention that the Public Service Commission has taken on is we look to private businesses as the job creators, as the drivers of our economy, and it is without question that government wants to be supportive in accomplishing that goal, but I believe that it's extremely important that we also take a role in prioritizing, creating opportunities for young Nova Scotians in our Public Service. Removing the two years of experience requirement from job applications opens up a whole host of opportunities for young Nova Scotians - I'm proud of our government for taking that step.
I should also add that in response, Mr. Speaker, to the Speech from the Throne, the objective to create an assistance program for first-time homebuyers - I don't know whether there's any sort of conflict of interest from that for me, but I'm optimistic on behalf of my peers and people who are behind me coming up trying to say well we're starting to see that there are more opportunities for young people in Nova Scotia, we're starting to see the government putting more emphasis on how do we not only create opportunities for young Nova Scotians, but actually give them the opportunity to sustain a life here at home.
Let me be clear, Mr. Speaker, there are very few people who I speak to who, after completing high school, growing up in their communities, and completing their university and what have you - nobody wants to leave Nova Scotia, it's an amazing place to be, it's an amazing place to live. If you are from out of town and you visit here, it's just an incredible place to be in, and our hospitality is part of why people like to be here. An opportunity for first-time homebuyers to be supported, to make roots in Nova Scotia, I think is something that is well worth the exploration, and I look forward to more work on that.
AN HON. MEMBER: Hooray!
I'll tie back to that survey that I was referring to earlier, conducted predominantly, if not completely, encompassing local Hammonds Plains-Lucasville residents. Obviously like many of our communities, if not all our communities, health care became a very topical and important part of their list of concerns. It's something that no matter who you are, what challenges you face, no matter how physically active, or how well you take care of yourself, health care is something that is important to every Nova Scotian.
I have to say I'm very proud of the work that this government has done, the initiative that's been taken to amalgamate the governance structure of our Health Authority, to combine many health authorities into one. It's a step in the right direction, Mr. Speaker, but it's not as if this is something we can specifically hang our hat on. We can be proud that the initiative has been taken to move in a more efficient direction with respect to the governance of our system, but it's not to say that we're stopping there or that there's not work to be done.
We talk about the care of our elderly, and this is something that I deal with not infrequently in my office. We're committed through the initiative to develop a long-term care strategy to better provide health care to elderly Nova Scotians - to my grandparents, to my parents, to me, someday. There has never been as concerted an effort to collaborate the way we do this, and I'm certainly very optimistic about the future for that.
Additionally, there's definitely a sense of enthusiasm throughout the community, throughout Hammonds Plains-Lucasville, with respect to the infrastructure plans for delivering health care. Without question, there were expressed concerns, no one is unaware that our infrastructure for delivering health care needs to improve. I'm very proud of the fact that government has taken the initiative to prioritize redeveloping the infrastructure for providing health care, the intent being to centralize some of the more critical procedures and surgeries in the core of Halifax and Dartmouth, a few as well in the Windsor hospital, but in recognition of the fact that health care has evolved over time and that health care providers are seeking a different means of being able to administer health care.
You don't have to perform the same types of surgeries in our biggest hospital, in our most high-intensity hospitals in this province. We have the ability through capable health care providers to administer orthopaedic surgeries, to administer cataract surgeries in other areas of this province, and I'm so grateful that there is an intentional relationship being fostered between health care providers, between the Nova Scotia Health Authority, and between the Department of Health and Wellness, to improve our system for all Nova Scotians.
When I first got involved in this role as the representative for Hammonds Plains-Lucasville it was clear to me, based on the people I represent, that education was going to have to be something that I focused a significant amount on. Mr. Speaker, I'm very confident that I've supported or done my best to support the improvement of education with respect to reporting what I hear in working with local educators to communicate our concerns and what we need to government.
I've spent a significant amount of time meeting directly with teachers, exchanging emails. I actually took the opportunity to collaborate a focus group of teachers, school board representatives, African Nova Scotians, parents. This was at the time - it would have been December 2014 - where the Freeman report had just come out and I actually submitted a report in response to Disrupting the Status Quo in an effort to communicate the needs of our community to the Minister of Education and Early Childhood Development. I appreciate the work to put that report together, the time from people's schedule that it took to be part of that.
I also should add that more recently I was invited into the family room of a local teacher where I participated in a meeting with approximately 15 other educators where they expressed that there's more to be done with respect to education. I have to be clear, Mr. Speaker, the work and the prioritization of education is something I've always been very passionate about and very confident that our government has been willing to take on. Year over year, we have made incremental investments to support our classrooms. We have taken opportunities to interact with educators and every step of the way I have never once questioned our ability to support educators and to support students in Nova Scotia.
I'd just like to say through you, Mr. Speaker, to the people I represent, this is something that is a priority for me and it is a priority for government to make sure that students and teachers are best supported in our classrooms, and we'll continue to do that.
Mr. Speaker, I would also like to express my pride on behalf of the people I represent for the work and effort in acknowledging the wrongdoings that occurred at the Nova Scotia Home for Colored Children. I represent not only the community of Upper Hammonds Plains, but the community of Lucasville, two of probably our oldest black Nova Scotian communities in the province. When I was initially canvassing and banging on doors during the election period, I can honestly say I heard on numerous occasions, that this was something that these individuals were passionate about, and wanted to see action take place on. The commitment to initiate a restorative inquiry, and the action to make a public apology - the Premier was just bang-on, without question, to take the politics out of it. It needed to be done and in the subsequent years, it was something that we've begun to see some real action being taken.
The staff at the restorative inquiry are amazing people who have done a magnificent job of reaching out to African Nova Scotian communities throughout our province, in an effort to make improvements to the way we make policy in Nova Scotia. I believe that the work that's being done is something that is truly valuable to not only African Nova Scotians, but to all Nova Scotians. We as a province need to do more, and through this restorative inquiry, there is opportunity for people throughout the province to engage.
I should mention that I actually participated in one of their public consultation initiatives at the Emmanuel Baptist Church in Upper Hammonds Plains. Anybody who is familiar with the area knows that Emmanuel Baptist Church is a safe place, widely recognized as a powerhouse for faith and for community-building. This was an opportunity for me to take part in something that to me was pretty foreign, but humbly, I was grateful to participate, and hear some stories directly from people in my community that I believe that will have some real value in the way we shape policy. This restorative inquiry has the included participation of deputy ministers from all departments in government, and I think that is a real important factor to express. This isn't something being put out to sea, it's something that government officials are actively involved with as they hear things that need to be fixed, so I think that is a wonderful opportunity for everyone.
I would certainly be remiss if I didn't acknowledge the work that is being done in our community both by the Department of Natural Resources and the Department of Environment. There have been a couple of tough projects, in terms of their acceptance throughout the community - quite frankly it's been difficult as a regulatory body with respect to environment to handle the potential for an asphalt plant to be set up in our backyard. Every step of the way I have been committed to working with people from our community to express their concerns to the Department of Environment.
The Department of Environment has done a tremendous job, not just under this government but under previous governments as well, to become a leader in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. It's something that's near and dear to people in Hammonds Plains-Lucasville right now, and certainly I'm proud of the fact that the government has taken on additional measures, is willing to continue revisiting how strong our standards are, and being diligent in the way they receive reporting from businesses, and just with respect to keeping all Nova Scotians safe, to improve our system of reporting and regulating those types of operations as much as possible.
I guess at this point I'd just like to acknowledge the people who have supported me to do what I'm doing right now. First off, my colleagues in the Legislature, Mr. Speaker, through you, they like to give me a hard time sometimes because I'm the youngest, but all in all, I can't explain how important it is to have the group of people surrounding me that I have in here, the wealth of knowledge that exists in here - we have people from every different background that you can imagine.
It has been a learning experience. It has been extremely important, on a personal note, for me to be surrounded by these people and I just want to say that I'm grateful for everything they continue to do for me, Mr. Speaker. (Applause) Certainly I do want to acknowledge my friends, my family, and my girlfriend. It takes a lot to keep doing this job and people come up to me and say, how do you do it, how do you keep going? You're always going here, you're always going there.
It's a challenge I need, Mr. Speaker. Some days it is very challenging, depending on the files that come through your office, depending on the people who come through your office. That's probably where it gets difficult, but certainly the people I represent, my family, my friends, the encouragement I receive - the pushes I always seem to get to do better, to be more places, to be more available, to volunteer more, to just be as completely present and act with as much integrity as I hope I continue to do.
With that, Mr. Speaker, I'll sign off and thank you for your time.
MR. BILL HORNE « » : Good afternoon everyone. I'm here today, and I'd like to rise in this historic House. It's a privilege to speak to the Address in Reply to the Speech from the Throne read by the Honourable Brigadier-General J.J. Grant on October 13, 2016, Third Session of the 62nd General Assembly of the Nova Scotia Legislature.
Mr. Speaker, our government's achievements and successes in the last three years are numerous. Our Premier, Cabinet Ministers, MLAs, have all been outstanding. I am also very proud of all our elected MLAs, including the Opposition who have their position in this building. I am confident our dedicated individuals with such a wide variety of experiences and education will continue to make the right decisions in providing Nova Scotians a path forward and to guide Nova Scotia to prosperity.
I would suggest that all residents of Nova Scotia take the opportunity to read the Speech from the Throne, Third Session of the 62nd General Assembly to help understand many of our successes. The Speech from the Throne outlines many important accomplishments of our government. All of the initiatives and actions described are important to Nova Scotians. I would like to touch on some of those programs and strategies we have implemented and the highlights for me.
Our province 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. Also we recognize our African Nova Scotian heritage and are proud to support the needs to find closure after systemic abuse at the Home for Colored Children - powerful words.
We are spending $11.5 million to suggest programs to help women at risk and government will expand the Domestic Violence Court. We have increased support to $6 million annually to family resource centres. We are spending an additional $3.6 million for Early Intensive Behavioural Intervention programs to ensure more young children have access to specialized therapy.
We are focused on developing immigration strategies such as attracting international entrepreneurs, retaining international graduates of our province's universities, and more than doubling our immigration capacity. Immigration kick-started Canada as an important country and as I relayed in my Address in Reply on December 10, 2013, we are all immigrants to Canada with the exception of our First Nations people. My Horne family was recruited to come to Canada from Strasbourg, Germany to find a better future in 1751; they arrived in Halifax on the ship Gale. Immigration in 2016, 265 years later, is much similar, an opportunity for immigrants to be free to prosper in this exceptional country of ours.
Family and business work hard to balance their budgets to stay in the black. Government has no less of a responsibility to do the same with every taxpayer dollar. Our government committed to taking a closer look at taxes, fees, and regulations based on principles of fairness, simplicity, and comprehensiveness. Economic growth is a responsible and sustainable way my government will support sector development in areas such as fishing, forestry, farming, information and communication technology. Tidal power, oil and gas resources, and wind power which provide 20 per cent of the power for Nova Scotians, this will be supported by the world class regulatory regime that reflects the value of Nova Scotia and its regulatory enforcement.
Nova Scotia Business Inc., the private sector-led business development agency of Nova Scotia, has been named the single government entity for responsibility for trade operations working directly with business to deliver the province's trade programs and connect them with new markets and new export opportunities.
As far as demographics and population is concerned, our government will work with partners to retain our youth through initiatives that help young people to get jobs, build their networks, and tap into the experience of mentors. We will streamline the process and direct our resources to the programs that are successfully getting more young people into the workforce, such as the Graduate to Opportunity program.
We are keeping our commitments to Nova Scotians. The CAT ferry from Portland, Maine, to Yarmouth helps all Nova Scotians by increasing tourism and bringing more economic opportunities to our province. This summer has proven to be beneficial, with over 45,000 passengers. It's important that these tourism opportunities continue to provide economic growth.
Our government has provided incentives to keep medical students in Nova Scotia by establishing tuition relief to encourage more medical graduates to remain in Nova Scotia.
To help our young people find jobs here, the province has committed to modernizing the apprenticeship program so that more apprentices can complete their training in less time and make it easier to record and recognize out-of-province training. We have announced changes to the apprenticeship program system to give more young Nova Scotians opportunities for on-the-job training. Increasing training ratios will double the number of opportunities for high-growth trades and allow more apprentices to get the training they need here in Nova Scotia.
Our support for post-secondary education has been outstanding. We are providing $1.6 million annually to help Nova Scotian students pay for school by eliminating the interest on provincial student loans. Provincial student loans are interest-free, and eligible students can get up to $30,000 in non-repayable financial support over a four-year program. Nova Scotia students using the Repayment Assistance Plan won't have to start repaying their loans until they are earning at least $25,000 annually.
I would like to take this opportunity to move on to thank all residents of Waverley-Fall River-Beaver Bank for their support to date, especially when I see residents at Sobeys, Shoppers, and Tim Hortons and at community events and meetings who warmly engage me in discussions. I feel blessed to represent our constituency. Above all, I strive to be a strong voice for our community and in the Legislature.
Having said that, Mr. Speaker, my success in the riding since being elected is greatly supported by my constituency assistant, Danielle Deveau. She's the glue that keeps our office running smoothly every day. Thank you, Danielle.
I would like to thank and recognize the many volunteers who worked so hard during the election campaign three years ago. Over 65 volunteers did incredible work. I would like to single out a few like my good friend, Barry Dalrymple, District 1 councillor, my campaign chair for the past two elections. He and his family supported me and promoted me and opened so many doors.
Randy Snow, my official agent and chair of our association in the last election, I thank him for his support and the many hours he spent doing paperwork which no one else wanted to do during and after the election. Thanks, Randy.
Thanks to constituents like Sandra Carr, Sandy Burgess, June Wyatt, and my brother Bob of Eastern Passage, who all inspired me while visiting many, many homes during the campaign. Thanks to volunteers like Paul Dalrymple, Tim Rand, Fred Wyatt, Leo Meagher, and John Bona for their involvement in building, installing, and removing and removing nearly 1,000 signs.
Mr. Speaker, I also could add many more deserving individuals who volunteered to work for the We Billeve team, like constituents Stephanie and Sean Dube, Jen and David Reed, Joy and Keith Goudge, Helen and Scott Young, Marilyn and Kirk Stephen, Jackie McRae and to Wayne McRae for his ability to raise funds.
Mr. Speaker, I would like to take a few moments to thank my family for their continued support of my political career in the late 1980s and early 1990s, as a Halifax County Councillor for District 14, before HRM. Together with my continued volunteer work, I'm usually out of the house for more than four or five evenings a week. I applaud my wife, Pam, who has supported me in all my political aspirations over the many years since 1988, when I was Halifax County Councillor for Wellington, Grand Lake, Oakfield, Oldham, and Goffs. There have been many late nights, early mornings, and weekends that I have not been able to spend with her. I have been attending community meetings since 1973, when Pam and I moved to Wellington with our two young daughters, Tracey and Kelly.
I've been a member of the Wellington-Fletchers Lake Volunteer Fire Department for 18 years, followed by 24 years as a member of the Fall River & Riverlake District Lions Club, and continue to be a member. I was presented last Spring with a Melvin Jones Fellowship Award, the highest honour that the Lions can attain. Thank you to King Lion Kirk Stephene and to all the Fall River Lions.
I'd like to recognize and thank my daughter, Kelly, who lives in Bedford and works at Casino Nova Scotia, and Tracey and her husband, Kevin, who live in Calgary - or will be moving to Saint John, New Brunswick, around Christmas, with their two children, Jensen who's 13 - his birthday was yesterday - and Reed, who's 10. Jenson excels in gymnastics and dance, and Reid accomplished his goal to play for the number one hockey team for his age group in Calgary. Tracey used her talents in communications to edit my brochures that tell my story for getting me elected.
Thank you to my sister, Julie, in Cochrane, Alberta, and her son, Brennen, and my brother, Bob, in Eastern Passage who have supported me during the two election campaigns.
Finally, I want to thank my parents, both deceased, Horace Horne and Emma Tays-Horne, who I know would be very proud of their son.
The riding of Waverley-Fall River-Beaver Bank lies west of Halifax Stanfield International Airport & Aerotech Industrial Park. Over $1 billion a year comes from this area alone, including 5,700 jobs at the airport, and over 500 jobs in the Aerotech Industrial Park. The Aerotech Industrial Park is populated by high-tech, air-related companies - such as IMP, Pratt & Whitney Canada, and Litton Systems Canada, all three electronic systems. Maritimes & Northeast Pipeline is very close to that area providing hundreds of jobs in the high-tech industry. Also, two high-rise hotels in the park, an additional two near the airport.
I digress here for a moment to tell you that an industrial application for a quarry next to the Aerotech Industrial Park is being reviewed by the Department of Environment. Like my residents, I have concerns about a quarry in this location. This has been an ongoing issue that has brought our community together over the last five years, and I'm determined to continue bringing the views of my constituents to my colleague, the Minister of Environment, so she and her department can make the best decision possible.
This riding has so much wealth, talent, and richness in human resources, with over 120 volunteer organizations. Volunteers are the heart and soul of our communities. Without volunteers, our community would not succeed. I will begin with the community of Waverley, the most easterly part of the constituency. This riding encompasses both Lake William and Lake Thomas, and in that area is Dieppe Branch 90 of the Legion. It has over 200 members, and I am an associate member. It is a very active Legion, with steak barbecues, cards, Thursday night wing night, Friday fish and chips lunches, and many dances. The hall is the largest in the constituency, rented out for craft sales, large gun shows, and plant sales, and is the largest building for rent in our area.
On Remembrance Day, the Legion veterans and family members will honour our brave, with several hundred community members in attendance. Remembrance Day will also be held in Windsor Junction and at Beaver Bank Kinsac Community Centre cenotaph this Friday, November 11th.
Another part of Waverley is the McDonald Park. It consists of 69 acres, with seven kilometres along Lake Thomas. There's also the HRM baseball field, an off-road extreme bike track through the woods, a sandpit for volleyball, horseshoes, and the yearly zombie trail run. The run attracted 600 participants the first year - three years ago - and 800 this year. I have participated in the five-kilometre zombie run, and it is a great event for all, including families and children.
There are many track and field events held there each year, and many walkers, joggers, and dog owners use the park. In the winter, these trails are converted to ski trails, and the Martock Nordic group grooms the trails for cross-country skiing. That's usually done while a storm is at its height, so that trails are ready the next morning.
We also have Cheema Aquatic Club next door to McDonald Park. They use the park for training nearly every day. Three times in a row, Cheema has had the title of top paddling club in Canada. We are all very proud of their accomplishments.
The Waverley fire department is respected and appreciated by residents for their valuable volunteers and participation in the community.
Next to Waverley is Lakeview, home to one of HRM's four ground search and rescue teams, Halifax Search and Rescue. They are a volunteer organization funded through community support and fundraising, and are on standby for lost person incidents and emergencies 24 hours a day.
Windsor Junction is the main juncture of trains from west, north, and south. Windsor Junction is the home of the Windsor Junction Community Centre, which has been in operation for more than 50 years. It provides baseball fields with lights and swimming lessons at Third Lake, and now has programs for a year-round venue with the completion of an additional building. Also in Windsor Junction is the new Ashburn Golf Club, where the 2014 and 2015 PGA Web.com Golf Championships took place.
Fall River follows from Waverley along Highway No. 2. It is a gathering place for shopping, containing a variety of stores, gas stations, and various businesses. It also includes the HRM's Gordon R. Snow Community Centre, senior centres, the LWF Community Centre, the Fall River District Lions Club, and many volunteer groups. Fall River is a wonderful central area surrounded by many subdivisions.
Along Highway No. 2, next would be Fletchers Lake. It is a smaller community that follows Highway No. 2 in a northerly direction along Lake Fletcher.
Then on to Wellington, where I live along Lake Fletcher. It is the sixth of seven lakes along Highway No. 2, followed by the communities of Grand Lake-Oakfield, the home of Oakfield Golf and Country Club. The largest and seventh lake is Grand Lake or Shubenacadie Lake. It is 10 miles long and one mile wide and has a depth of up to 150 feet. It's a great fishing lake for striped bass, landlocked salmon, and small-mouth bass.
Beaver Bank/Kinsac is the home of the third golf course, Lost Creek Golf Club, and the best community centre that I have seen, the Beaver Bank Kinsac Community Centre, jointly housed with the Beaver Bank Kinsac Volunteer Fire Department.
One amazing natural and man-made phenomenon that touches virtually every community is the Shubenacadie canal system, which connects Halifax Harbour and Cobequid Bay to the Bay of Fundy diagonally across Nova Scotia. This occurred during the 1860s when it was operational and was used to transport food and dry goods and then return with raw products like wood and farm produce. However, in the 1880s the railroad took over by placing bridges along and over the canal rivers to the Shubenacadie River, and the barges could no longer pass under.
The canal will be open and completed someday and tourists will be able to enjoy trips up and down parts of the canal system. My hope is that this will happen sooner rather than later.
Mr. Speaker, at this point I'd like to thank the previous Minister of Natural Resources, who spearheaded and negotiated a settlement of a land dispute adjacent to Lock 4 at Lake Fletcher, which is located at the head of Lake Fletcher in Fall River. This secured Lake Fletcher for kayakers and canoers going through the lock system.
The combined resources of our 12 communities are diverse but similar. In reality we are a bedroom community, with more acres and more building lots. We leave in the morning and return in the evening. Children go to school and many mothers stay home or go to work, mostly, but parents are employed. Our population is on the increase, as well as home sales and building infrastructure. This requires better and more roads to ease traffic, as well as including recreational facilities, better communications, and local papers such as The Laker monthly newspaper and the Beaver Bank Kinsac Bulletin. Both provide news and information to our community, thanks to Pat Healey and Keilie Samson.
Mr. Speaker, I would like to talk about the progress of important issues facing the riding of Waverley-Fall River-Beaver Bank. Number one was road safety. The removal of traffic lights and the installation of a roundabout in Fall River has shown an immediate relief of 2.5 kilometres of traffic tie-ups each morning - 2.5 kilometres every morning were stop and go, waiting for the light when exiting Highway No. 118.
To improve safety in the evening when exiting Highway No. 118 at Exit 14 to Fall River, TIR installed a third lane - a holding lane - for a five-kilometre stretch to make it safer when a backup occurs. Traffic is often backed up up to two kilometres, and 25 per cent of the traffic at the exit is going to Bedford, Hammonds Plains, Sackville, Beaver Bank, Highway No. 101, and Highway No. 1 to the Valley. I have to thank our Minister of TIR for his diligent work in getting these for our community.
The permanent solution to these traffic issues is two new proposed highways, also thanks to our Minister of TIR, to alleviate this traffic congestion. The first is to build a Sackville to Porters Lake connector through a twinned-highway expansion of Glendale Avenue from Cobequid Road to Burnside. Currently this project is one of the four that are green-lighted and are included in ongoing discussions regarding proposed toll roads. Upon completion of this highway much of the traffic congestion will be diverted to the new highway.
Added to TIR's five-year plan this year was a connector road that will span between the Aerotech Park and Wellington, a distance of five kilometres. This will reduce traffic as well and add an alternate route to the Fall River roundabout. This Fall, TIR is resurfacing Highway No. 2 from Sunnylea Road to Acorn Drive, a distance of five kilometres. This new repaving is our first active transportation link, widening the road by 1.2 metres on both sides to accommodate bicycles, runners, walkers, and help keep our car drivers, I guess, a little more careful of the traffic from bicycles.
Next year another five kilometres is scheduled to be added, reaching Highway No. 102 near the Big Stop in Enfield. These four additions will greatly remove traffic safety issues and tie-ups in Fall River during peak traffic hours. I strongly thank and applaud our Minister of TIR and his staff for their quick response to recognizing the safety and traffic concerns in this constituency.
The second important issue facing residents was the approval and installation of HRM water at the Fall River area. In August Prime Minister Trudeau announced $119 million in federal funding for waste water and public transit projects in Nova Scotia. The announcement included the funding for installing 3.5 kilometres of central water services along Fall River Road. The provincial contribution of $1,981,435 is part of the larger $7.9 million investment by the three levels of government. The community is excited for this long-awaited project, and installation is expected to be completed by March 31, 2018.
I am also working to ensure and provide more public access to our lakes, not only in the riding of Waverley-Fall River-Beaver Bank but in all ridings in Nova Scotia. There is a definite need for this process to be completed.
Mr. Speaker, in closing I am pleased and passionate to be on the government side of the House and I wake up every day proud to be a MLA. I am proud of every MLA, Cabinet Minister, and especially our Premier. We are a team, we respect each other's views, and we work together. Also, our team has every cross-section of society when it comes to discussing issues. We learn from each other and I would be remiss if I did not mention that the MLAs opposite are honourable and willing to do whatever they can for their communities and constituencies and the province.
Mr. Speaker, in ending I will quote Winston Churchill who said that many forms of government have been tried in this world . . .
AN HON. MEMBER: The real Churchill.
The honourable member for Waverley-Fall River-Beaver Bank has the floor.
MR. HORNE « » : Mr. Speaker, in ending I will quote Winston Churchill who said "Many forms of Government have been tried, and will be tried in this world of sin and woe. No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed it has been said that democracy is the worst form of Government except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time . . ."
Democracy is a work in progress, and continues to change from time to time. Thank you for your indulgence. I will now take my seat.
HON. ALFIE MACLEOD « » : It gives me great pleasure - indeed it's an honour - to be able to stand here today to do my Address in Reply to the Throne Speech that was delivered by his Honour Lieutenant Governor J.J. Grant. Before I go too far, I just want to say to the Lieutenant Governor a very big thanks for his service over the last number of years to our province, and indeed, all the service he has given our province, even before he was the Lieutenant Governor of the Province of Nova Scotia.
When we stand here in this House to speak about our constituencies, and where we are, and what is going on there, it is a very humbling experience. As I think of the fact that we have 900,000 people in the Province of Nova Scotia, give or take, and here we have 51 people who are given the honour to stand in this House and be part of this, to help direct the guidance of the laws of our province, it is indeed a great privilege for me to be here to represent the people of Sydney River-Mira-Louisbourg.
There are a lot of things that have happened over the last year, but there are few things that I would like to highlight that have been very meaningful, and have had an impact on me as an MLA, on my constituency overall. There were two people who just recently passed away, who lived in my constituency who I've known all my life. One was a fellow by the name of Bill Mullins, who lived in the community of Louisbourg, who was certainly a huge Conservative, but more than that, he gave to his community - day after day, week after week, year after year. Bill was so active in his community that he was known as Mr. Louisbourg. Unfortunately he just passed away at a reasonably young age - he was only 73 years old.
On the other hand, just last weekend, I lost another mentor of mine, a man by the name of Angus Campbell. Angus was 93 years young. He passed away and again, he was someone who gave constantly back to the community that he lived in, that he loved. I remember at his 90th birthday I was saying to Angus, what do you do to keep busy? Well, you know, he said, I work with Meals on Wheels and I take meals to old people - and this was at his 90th birthday. So, you can appreciate where his head was, and the quality of life he had.
Just recently we honoured the Olympic paraplegic participants from our province. I was very fortunate to have two such people from my constituency to be honoured. One was Jamey Jewels who is a wheelchair basketball athlete, who has participated in games all over the world, and as a wheelchair athlete, she not too long ago got married, and has a baby, and her life is full of interesting things, and she comes from a little community called Donkin.
We also have a lady by the name of Pamela DeJean. Pamela is a paraplegic who is a discus thrower and she came fourth in the world - fourth in the world - and I remember talking to her the day they were here in the House of Assembly and she said, it kind of would have been nice to do better. And I said, well, I've got to tell you, Pamela, you're the only person I know who's the fourth-greatest person in the world at doing anything, so you have nothing but good things to say about what you've been able to accomplish. We were all proud of her. When she was introduced in the House, everybody here acknowledged that young lady.
Here we are only a couple of days away from Remembrance Day. Remembrance Day in Nova Scotia is a very special time. Every member in this House has had a family member, a close friend, or somebody who has spent time in the service. When Friday comes, as members of this House of Assembly, we will be travelling around our constituencies to pay tribute to those who have served in the past, who are serving now, and who continue to serve. It's interesting when you think about it: it is a holiday here in Nova Scotia, yet in other parts of Canada, they only stop for a few minutes at 11 o'clock. They don't give the recognition that we as Nova Scotians give to the people who have given so much to us.
It is truly the way of Nova Scotians, and Cape Bretoners in particular, I think, to give back to their community. In my constituency of Sydney River-Mira-Louisbourg, we have 16 fire departments that service our communities. The key word is "volunteer." They go out regardless of what it may cost in their own lives. They'll take a call in the middle of the night. They will go, and they will serve their communities. They will respond to the needs of their neighbours. They do that for no other reason than that it's what they want to do as community members.
When we think about what we are tasked to do here in this House of Assembly, it is really a privilege and an honour to stand here. There are many issues that I may not agree with my colleagues across the way on. There are many issues that sometimes we will take exception to. But at the end of the day, I believe that the majority of people who sit in this House of Assembly act in what they believe is the best interest of the people who have given them the honour to represent them.
The community that I live in is a very small community. The island that I live on is one that many people come to visit on a regular basis. We heard about tourism numbers being up in Nova Scotia. The reason for that, of course, is Cape Breton Island. The reason people visit the other parts of Nova Scotia is, they have to drive through there to get to Cape Breton Island. But there are many, many reasons why people come to Cape Breton. It is the beauty of the island. It is the friendship and the kindness of the people. It is the heritage of the communities on Cape Breton Island.
With the help of the Minister of TIR, the member for Glace Bay, some roads are seeing some significant improvement. We still have to talk about Grand Mira South and Hills Road and New Boston Road. But all kidding aside, we are slowly moving towards making things safer for people to travel, making it better for them to come and visit, making it a more enjoyable place. Would we like to see more work done? Of course we would.
Seeing as I'm on the subject of TIR, I would like to talk a little bit about the flood that we had on Cape Breton Island on Thanksgiving weekend. None of us in this House have ever seen anything like it. It was actually 10 inches of rain in less than eight hours. That really put a stress on the infrastructure that was in place. I don't think there's an engineer in the world who would have ever engineered for that kind of rainfall in that short a period of time because it was something that was never seen before and that, hopefully, we will never see again.
The one thing that did happen is that the staff of TIR took on the challenge to fix the infrastructure that was so badly damaged during that storm. As I said yesterday when I did a Member's Statement and I'll repeat today, we have members of the TIR Department who have not had a single day off since that flood because they've been out working towards making sure that things are put back in place before the winter season sets in, before the weather gets bad. They have been working tirelessly day and night, as members of the TIR Department, but also with local contractors.
Mr. Speaker, although it was a tragedy, and we saw people lose their homes, we also saw the best side of a lot of people brought forward, people who went and helped their neighbours, people who were pumping out basements because their neighbours were in trouble, people who were supplying meals to friends and family and people they didn't even know. Behind every dark cloud, as they say, there is a silver lining. I guess the silver lining that I've seen out of this flood is, again, how neighbours moved to help their own neighbours to make sure that everybody was well. That's one of the things that makes me so proud to be a Cape Bretoner because at the end of the day, when there is a problem, it is your neighbour, your friend, your fellow Cape Bretoner who will step up to the plate and answer the call to help.
That's not only in Cape Breton; that goes right across our province. That's one of the reasons why I'm so proud to be able to call myself a Cape Bretoner and a Nova Scotian and a Canadian.
Now, Mr. Speaker, there are a lot of other issues that have been taking place that we can talk about. But before we go down that road, I do want to talk about some of the accomplishments and achievements of some of the communities in my constituency. Just this year, the community of Gabarus, which is not too far from where I live, celebrated 300 years as a community. They actually won the Lieutenant Governor's Award for Community Spirit.
Just a couple of years ago, we saw the same thing happen in Port Morien when they won the Lieutenant Governor's Award for Community Spirit. That speaks again back to the character of the community and the character of the people who live in those communities, how they work together to make the place better for all of them to live in.
I have talked here on different occasions about places like Port Morien, the site of the first coal mine in North America, or Port Morien, the home of the first Boy Scout Troop in North America. Then we have Grand Mira, the home of one of the longest-running 4-H Clubs in North America. Mr. Speaker, Cape Breton Island is the home of a lot of firsts. There are a number of things that have taken place, and a lot of those things are part of what makes Sydney River-Mira-Louisbourg so unique and pleasant.
Mr. Speaker, when I think about our communities, and I mentioned the volunteer firefighters, but there are so many other groups that are always out doing things for their neighbours. It's always a pleasant surprise, when things go bad, how they can always come up with help for their friends.
It is because of that that I sometimes get baffled at some of the policies of the government when it comes to running an election and making a promise to the people of the Province of Nova Scotia, a promise that helped to make them form government, a promise of a doctor for every Nova Scotian. Well, Mr. Speaker, we know there are a number of doctors leaving Cape Breton Island, and there are thousands of people without a doctor.
When the Minister of Health and Wellness gets up to answer a question in the House, he sometimes reflects on how hard it is to go out and recruit doctors, but the question I always have for him is this: why are they leaving? We have them here and they're providing good service, yet at the end of the day they're leaving. There must be a reason for that. I wonder if the minister has ever taken the time to actually sit down with those doctors and had a discussion with them about what it is that's making them leave this province and our Island.
Now, in the past he has talked about exit interviews. The exit interviews are usually performed by the same people who are driving the doctors out. That doesn't make much sense. You need to have somebody who's independent and impartial having the interviews and doing the interviews. But it would be interesting for the minister - and I'm sure he'd be willing to do this - to sit down and give us a list of the number of times that he has met with the doctors on Cape Breton Island to get ideas from them on how to make the health care system better and get reasons from them for them not to leave.
That would be very helpful, but what would be even more helpful than that is if the minister and the Premier would actually admit that we have a problem - a problem with the shortage of doctors, a problem that they said they were going to fix, when they ran in the last election, by having a doctor for every Nova Scotian. It's easy to say those words, and I'm sure the solutions aren't easy. But when you won't even admit there's a problem, my goodness, how can you ever fix it?
We see issues with the Pharmacare Program. All of a sudden, now, the minister will say, well, we're not going to put their premiums up this year. But they put seniors in this province through an awful lot of strain by saying that they were changing the path of how people were going to pay for their drugs in this province. For the life of me, I do not understand how we can be so cruel to the seniors of our province who are the very fabric of why we have the quality of life we have. It doesn't make any sense to me.
I know that being on the government benches is not easy, and I know there are challenges, but if you're going to run in an election and you're going to make promises, you should never make promises that you have no intention of keeping. That appears to be what has taken place when it came to the doctor situation. If you listen to the rhetoric that comes out of the Premier and that side of the House, it's about how we've changed the type of delivery model we're going to have. We've changed the way that we're going to give you front-line health care. (Interruptions)
It's quite interesting - the Minister of Health and Wellness has lots of answers now, but in Question Period, he doesn't have a thing to answer back with. So I'm looking forward to Question Period tomorrow now, because I'm making a list of questions for him. I'll be able to ask him those questions, and I'm sure he'll be as interested in answering them then as he is now.
Notice how quiet it got, Mr. Speaker.
The reality is that people need doctors today. The solutions that are being offered are for five and 10 years down the road - that's not my estimation. That's what members of the Health Authority are telling the public: that this process that we're going through is five or 10 years down the road. But our seniors and other people need doctors today.
Just recently, Mr. Speaker, in my own family, my oldest daughter found out that she is going to have her third child. I can tell you that her mother and I are as pleased as punch. Two months ago her doctor said, I'm leaving; I can't stay here any longer. This is long before we ever started this debate about doctors. We were down that road long before my daughter, Sandra, found out that she was going to have her third child, but now there's no doctor for her, and she is told that she may have to come as far as Halifax to get the care she needs. She is only one of hundreds of people who find themselves in that position where they need a doctor that does specialty work - or just a doctor to give them a needle or to receive the reports of the tests they get. There are thousands of those people on Cape Breton Island and across this province who need a doctor today, not five or 10 years down the road.
Mr. Speaker, we need to respond to the people who elected us. It doesn't matter if they live in a government constituency or an Opposition constituency. They are looking to us for help and guidance. I will say this: that this government reacted quickly to the flooding problem because it identified some real needs of the people in a hurry. This doctor situation is very similar to that in a lot of people's minds because they need help now, not 10 years down the road.
There are many other issues that I hear about from people around my constituency, wondering about the high cost of power, wondering about jobs and the economy, and wondering why it appears that we cannot get help from this government on some of the more important projects in our communities. Again, I'm sure that times are tough, but if people would only sit down and talk about the priorities for communities and how those priorities can be moved forward to make sure that they have a positive impact on the community. Isn't that what we're all here to try to do?
In the CBRM, we need a second berth for the cruise ships. It's a priority for that community. It's a priority for the economy on the Island of Cape Breton. People are looking forward: we have huge numbers of tourists who land there, and we would have more. Did you know, Mr. Speaker, that Cape Breton Island is known as the number one island in North America? People come from all around to visit and see what's there. It is actually the third island in the world, according to the tourism magazines and all the people who talk about travel and places to go. As I understand it, the reason we're number three is that one of the judges has never made it to Cape Breton yet, but when he does, we'll probably end up being number one in the world.
There are so many things that people come to see. Just recently, I had the opportunity to be at a concert celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the Men of the Deeps. It was held at the Miners Museum, which is located in Glace Bay, in the constituency of the Minister of TIR. That building, the Miners Museum, is the number one destination for people who come on the cruise ship and go on land trips. They go to the Miners Museum, and in the Miners Museum, they need work there, because the building is old as well - it's 50 years old too, and they need work, and they need a commitment. There is a commitment in place in the CBRM to help replace the roof, but this government needs to commit their share and convince their federal cousins to do the same, because it is an important part of the economy of Cape Breton Island.
As you move around, you can go to the Fortress of Louisbourg, the largest recreation of an historic site in North America. You can go back, and you can have the image of living there in 1740. One of the things that is needed to make that attraction even bigger and stronger is the reopening of the road between Louisbourg and Gabarus, so that indeed Louisbourg is not just a day trip from Sydney, but is a place where people can come, visit, and then go on and see other parts of Cape Breton Island, and would actually make it possible to make a complete circle of Cape Breton Island on the shore coast, so that people could see all the beauty that's there.
People like Linda and Tommy Kennedy who are in Louisbourg, who have created what is known as the Beggar's Banquet where people can go, and they can actually get dressed in period costume, eat period food, and get entertainment from that period, a different and unique experience that you can only get in a place like Louisbourg. Or the Louisbourg Playhouse; the playhouse in Louisbourg is very unique, and it highlights local talent from all across Cape Breton Island and other places. In that theatre, people come and they're entertained, and everybody feels like they're just right there, that they can touch the entertainers.
You know, that started out as a set in a movie that was done by Walt Disney. They came to Cape Breton Island, and they did a movie called Squanto: A Warrior's Tale, and they built a bear pit, they called it, and when they left, they gave it to the town and they moved it down to the site where it is right now. And the first season that that playhouse was open - the first season - they only missed one night because of weather, and it was an open venue. Those that would know Louisbourg know that, in itself, is quite a treat.
As you go around and you look at other parts of Cape Breton Island and Sydney River-Mira-Louisbourg in particular, there are so many things. We have the Two Rivers Wildlife Park, which is home to the only wildlife park outside of Shubenacadie, and it is striving to become independent and self-sufficient, and the Minister of Natural Resources has been helpful in making that project work, but there are still other pieces of that puzzle that need to come together to make it self-sustaining. But in the small community of Marion Bridge, it provides 10 jobs year-round, which is something that is very important. People wouldn't notice 10 jobs in Halifax, but people notice 10 jobs on Cape Breton Island.
We're moving towards the opening of the Donkin mine, and I'm sure as much as I've spoken about the New Boston Road in this Chamber - most people here now know that before I even get up, that that's going to be coming out of my lips, about the New Boston Road - but the Donkin mine has also been a project that we've been putting forward on many a different occasion. It's ready. It is ready to actually produce coal, and provide good-paying jobs for people in Cape Breton, which is a benefit to all Nova Scotians, because we will at last be able to have Nova Scotia Power buy local coal, in Canadian dollars, and help stabilize their fuel supply, and that's good for everyone from end of this province to the other. The jobs it will create, 130 to 140 jobs, are good-paying jobs and the offshoots of that are very important.
Mr. Speaker, there are many exciting things happening. There are many good things that have taken place. We've seen neighbours helping neighbours, we've seen the rebuilding of some of the infrastructure. Unfortunately it was because of the storm, but by the same token it has happened. We need this government to move forward with initiatives that help the economy of Cape Breton Island with initiatives that indeed will make sure there are doctors for the people who live here, with initiatives that don't see you trying to do seniors in and make sure they don't have to pay higher premiums, that they do have the ability to live in a seniors' home and that they have good meals while they're living there, not meals that are supposed to be $5 and $6 a day, which is what they are given to feed those people.
As much as there may be some improvements made, there are still many challenges ahead of us. Mr. Speaker, my job as the MLA for Sydney River-Mira-Louisbourg is to bring forward the concerns of the individuals who live in that constituency, and they tell me those are priorities for them.
Roads will always be a priority in a constituency like I represent; they will always be a challenge and we will always be working towards that. I will give credit to the Minister of TIR. On any occasion (Applause) - well let me give it to him first - on any occasion that I've asked the minister to come and meet with a community group he has done that.
Now of course the second step will be to fulfill what we started, but I do give him credit for being willing to do that. And I will say this about other ministers in this House, any ministers I've asked to come and visit people and talk to them or meet with them, they've done that and I do think that it's only right I thank them for doing that because that is what we're supposed to do. We may be on different sides of the fence when we get elected, we may be elected for this Party or for that Party, but at the end of the day our job is to help represent all Nova Scotians, regardless of what Party they may have voted for.
Some days I may give my colleagues on the other side a hard time, but you know I will also be the one who will say thank you when you do the right thing and meet with the people that we all represent. I do want to say that on the public record, Mr. Speaker.
Before I sit down I do want to say a couple of other things. I think most people in this House will be able to associate with where I'm going.
This job is not an easy job and I, for one, would never be able to do what I do without the help and support of my family. (Applause) My wife Shirley and I . . .
The other part of that is, as you and everybody here knows, when you go out, your wife or your husband or your significant other is exposed to the same kinds of questions and thoughts and anger sometimes that you are. It has to be, that's our job and we kind of expect it, but it must be hard on the families or on your children. I know my children - and I'm very fortunate, I have three great kids and they have three great spouses and they all live close by, at hand, so we're lucky to have that. But you know, Mr. Speaker, when you take on this role as an MLA, they take it on as well. They get the good, and sometimes they get the bad. I think all of us are very fortunate, and I know in my case in particular, I am so fortunate to have the spouse I have and get the support that I do from her.
But it doesn't stop there, Mr. Speaker. (Interruption) I'm hearing from my colleague for Cape Breton Centre that she's the lucky one. I would argue with him. Actually, I don't even buy tickets anymore, because I believe I used up all my luck when I got her - and we don't even get this channel at home.
It goes beyond family for all of us. There is a team of people who are like-minded, who volunteer to help us exercise and get the vote out and do all the things that we do to help win elections. In my case, there is a superb group of people who work hard on a constant basis, and I'd never be able to say thank you enough to them for what they do.
I heard one of my colleagues earlier talk about the constituency assistant. Well, Mr. Speaker, my constituency assistant is a lady by the name of Jean Wadden. She has been with me for 10 years, and I have to tell you, she is a gem. (Interruption) I'm hearing from some of my own colleagues that she is a saint. What they forget is that I will be at caucus with them tomorrow, and we will discuss some of those comments at that time. But all kidding aside, a good constituency person will make the difference for any of us as MLAs, and have made the difference.
Although there may only be 51 of us in this House, we're here representing great numbers of people. We're here trying to do the right thing. We don't always agree on what that right thing is, but I never doubt that people are acting in a way for what they believe they were asked to do when they were elected.
Mr. Speaker, I know I've missed a lot of key issues in my constituency. I probably have named some people and forgotten to name some others that I should have. But I can tell you, I first had the privilege of being elected to this House in 1995 in October, and every time I come into this House, I am still in awe of what it is that this building is, at what this building represents, and at the very honour I have for coming here and being able to be part of that.
We're all waiting with bated breath about what's taking place in the U.S. today in that election campaign. Sometimes when you get distracted by that stuff, you forget about what is taking place right here in Nova Scotia and how fortunate we are for the quality of life we have. Sometimes we forget how lucky we are to be here, to live the quality of life we have, to do and be able to do the things we need to do.
It will take me right back to Remembrance Day on Friday and how important a day that is, how important it is for us to thank all of the veterans, all of the people who are currently serving, the people who have served, the rights they fought for, the freedoms they have given us are the very reason that we are able to stand in this House and take shots at each other now and then, but actually do some very important business.
When Friday comes, I know that I don't have to encourage my colleagues, but I will, to make sure we thank each and every veteran for what they've done for us, say thank you to the current people who are serving and the challenges that they face. Most of all, we need to say thank you to our friends, our neighbours, and our families who have made it possible for us to serve in this House.
HON. MICHEL SAMSON « » : I always appreciate hearing from the member for Sydney River-Mira-Louisbourg. We border each other's ridings. It's always great to hear his words of wisdom. I would be remiss if I didn't say that some of his younger colleagues could learn quite a bit of class from that particular member.
Mr. Speaker, that concludes the government's business for today. The hours tomorrow, Wednesday, November 9th, will be from 1:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. I will call upon the NDP House Leader to give us the business for Opposition Day, which will take place from 1:00 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. Once Opposition Day is complete, the government will be calling Committee of the Whole House on Bills for Bill Nos. 52, 61, and 60; third reading on Bill Nos. 55 and 62; and Address in Reply if time permits.
With that, I will now call upon the New Democratic Party House Leader to give us the business for Opposition Day.
I move that we now rise to meet again from 1:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. tomorrow.
Would those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.
The motion is carried.
We stand adjourned until Wednesday, November 9th, at 1:00 p.m.
[The House rose at 5:18 p.m.]