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September 24, 2009



Speaker: Honourable Charlie Parker

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

Available on INTERNET at

First Session


Res. 4, re Estimates - Comm. Of Whole House on Supply,
Hon. G. Steele 337
Mr. L. Glavine 345
Adjourned debate 347
Res. 178, Reg. Nurses College (N.S.) - Anniv. (100th),
Hon. Maureen MacDonald 347
Vote - Affirmative 348
Res. 179, Energy - Tidal Turbine,
The Premier 348
Vote - Affirmative 349
Justice: Law Foundation (N.S.) - Anl. Rept. and Fin. Statements,
Hon. R. Landry 349
Res. 180, Boston Tree Lighting Ceremonies - Town Criers/Staff,
Hon. S. McNeil 349^^
Res. 181, Health: ER Closures - Plan, Hon. K. Casey 350
Res. 182, St. Margaret Sailing Club - Nautel Sailing Championship,
Hon. Denise Peterson-Rafuse 351
Vote - Affirmative 351
Res. 183, Deveau, Tyler - Karate Championships,
Hon. W. Gaudet 351
Vote - Affirmative 352
Vote - Affirmative
Res. 184, Mikjikj Enterprises - Success,
Mr. A. MacLeod 352
Vote - Affirmative 353
Res. 185, Pictou Co. Military Museum - Reopening,
Mr. C. MacKinnon 353
Vote - Affirmative 354
Res. 186, East Preston Day Care Ctr. - Anniv. (35th),
Hon. K. Colwell 354
Vote - Affirmative 354
Res. 187, Sutherland, CPO 1st Class Kimberly - Rank Achievement,
Mr. C. Porter 354
Vote - Affirmative 355
Res. 188, Camp Harris - Anniv. (50th),
Ms. B. Kent 355
Vote - Affirmative 356
Res. 189, Bras Across the Bridges: Sponsors/Vols. Congrats.,
Ms. D. Whalen 356
Vote - Affirmative 357
Res. 190, Sport: Bluenosers Shuffleboard Team - Congrats.,
Hon. M. Scott 357
Vote - Affirmative 357
Res. 191, Twin Oaks/Birches Charitable Healthcare Fdn. -
Hosp. Fundraising, Ms. S. Prest 358
Vote - Affirmative 358
Res. 192, Environ.: Mink Farm (Yar. Co.) - Environmental Review,
Hon. R. Hurlburt 359
Res. 193, Amherst First Baptist Church - Anniv. (200th),
Mr. B. Skabar 360
Vote - Affirmative 360
Res. 194, Midway Motors/MacDonald, John & Gordon - Anniv. (83rd),
Mr. K. Bain 360
Vote - Affirmative 361
Res. 195, Kings Co. Fam. Resource Ctr. - Anniv. (20th),
Mr. J. Morton 361
Vote - Affirmative 362
Res. 196, Muise, Earl - Acadien Commun. - Contribution,
Hon. C. d'Entremont 362
Vote - Affirmative 363
Res. 197, Shaw, Joanne & David - Friends of Archaeology Award,
Mr. C. Porter 363
Vote - Affirmative 363
Res. 198, St. Andrews - Commun. Spirit Award,
Hon. K. Casey 364
Vote - Affirmative 364
Res. 199, Cdn. Blood Serv.: Cape Breton - Donations,
Mr. A. MacLeod 364
Vote - Affirmative 365
Res. 200, Stephens, Michele - Album Release,
Mr. K. Bain 365
Vote - Affirmative 366
Res. 201, Muise, Chester: Acadien Commun. Contribution,
Hon. C. d'Entremont 366
Vote - Affirmative 367
Res. 202, Perry, Jaret: Springhill Instit. Inmates/Staff - IWK Fundraising,
Hon. M. Scott 367
Vote - Affirmative 367
No. 33, Budget (N.S.) - IEF: Increase - Explain, Hon. S. McNeil 368
No. 34, Prem.: Atty. Gen. - Conflict Explain, Hon. M. Scott 369
No. 35, Fin. - Budget (2009-10): Spending - Sustainability,
Hon. S. McNeil 370
No. 36, Com. Serv.: Kendrick Rept. - Implementation,
Hon. Manning MacDonald 371
No. 37, Health - ER Coverages, Hon. K. Casey 373
No. 38, Com. Serv.: YMCA Dartmouth Daycare Closure,
Mr. A. Younger 374
No. 39, TIR - RIM Prog., Mr. K. Bain 375
No. 40, HPP: Tobacco Tax - Revenue, Ms. D. Whalen 377
No. 41, Fin.: Offshore Offset - Usage, Mr. A. MacLeod 379
No. 42, Environ.: Turbine Proj. - Environmental Effects Advisory Comm.,
Mr. A. Younger 380
No. 43, TIR: Bedford Rink Complex, Ms. K. Regan 381
No. 44, Prem.: Correctional Facilities - Springhill, Hon. M. Scott 383
No. 45, Agric. - Hog Ind.: Destruction - Prevent, Mr. L. Glavine 384
No. 46, Educ.: Public Libraries - Task Force, Hon. K. Casey 385
Mr. G. Burrill 387
Hon. K. Colwell 392
Mr. C. Porter 409
Adjourned debate 413
Health: Capital Health - Equipment Reprocessing,
Mr. C. Porter 414
Hon. Maureen MacDonald 416
Ms. D. Whalen 418
ADJOURNMENT, The House rose to meet again on Fri., Sept. 25th at 10 a.m. 421
Res. 203, Matheson, Allister: Heart & Stroke Fdn. - Efforts,
Mr. David Wilson (Glace Bay) 422
Res. 204, Deveaux, Kyle - Bowling Accomplishment,
Mr. David Wilson (Glace Bay) 422

[Page 337]


Sixty-first General Assembly

First Session

2:00 P.M.


Hon. Charlie Parker


Mr. Gordon Gosse, Hon. Wayne Gaudet, Mr. Alfie MacLeod

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.




[Res. No. 4, re Estimates - Comm. of the House on Supply - notice given Sept. 18/09 - (Hon. Graham Steele)]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Finance.

HON. GRAHAM STEELE: Mr. Speaker, pursuant to notice of motion given by me on September 18, 2009, and the Rules and Forms of Procedure of the House of Assembly, I have the honour, by command, to present a message from Her Honour the Lieutenant Governor of the Province of Nova Scotia, relating to the Estimates of Sums required for the service of the Province of Nova Scotia for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2010, which is:

[Page 338]


"I hereby transmit Estimates of Sums required for the Public Service of the Province of Nova Scotia for the year ending March 31, 2010, and in accordance with the Constitution Act of 1867, recommend them together with the Budget Address of my Minister of Finance and any resolutions or bills necessary or advisable to approve the Estimates and implement the budget measures to the House of Assembly.


Mayann Francis

Lieutenant Governor

September 24, 2009"

Mr. Speaker, at this time I wish to table the message from Her Honour the Lieutenant Governor transmitting the Estimates for the consideration of this House, table the Government Business Plan, table the Estimates Books, table the Crown Corporation Business Plans, table the Estimate and Crown Corporation Business Plans Resolutions, deliver my Budget Speech and move that the Estimates of Sums required for the Service of the province for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2010, being Supply, to be granted to Her Majesty and the Crown Corporation Business Plans be referred to the Committee of the Whole House on Supply.

Mr. Speaker, before I begin my Budget Address, I would like to take a few moments to acknowledge those who helped to put this budget together. I want to thank the staff of the Department of Finance, Treasury Board, Communications Nova Scotia and the Office of the Premier in particular because every budget takes enormous work to put together and I'm truly grateful for the hard work of all involved.

Mr. Speaker, it is a privilege to present to this House, and to Nova Scotians, the budget for 2009-10. While it is the first budget tabled by this government, we do not consider it to be our budget. This budget is substantially the same as the budget introduced last May 4th.

With almost half the fiscal year gone, a major portion of our costs fixed in salaries, and an economy needing a measured dose of stimulus spending to spur growth, there was little room to alter the course that had already been set for this fiscal year. To do so would have introduced uncertainty and instability in the midst of a recession. We said we would honour the commitments of the former government. And we will, it's the responsible thing to do. While this budget has been shaped by the past, it also signals a new direction for the future.

Mr. Speaker, if this budget seems familiar, it may be because of echoes from a budget introduced a decade ago. In 1999, another Finance Minister stood in this House, in this place,

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and outlined the issues facing another new government. He vowed "to present an honest accounting of the province's finances so that Nova Scotians might easily understand the magnitude of the challenges that we all face." He went on to say that "It is no longer possible for the bottom line to be coloured by politics." We couldn't agree more.

Il y a dix ans, le ministre des finances était Neil LeBlanc et il croyait, tout comme nous, que les Néo-Écossais méritaient une description fidèle de l'état des finances de la province. C'est la seule façon de continuer à bâtir un rapport de confiance avec tous les Néo-Écossais.

[2:15 p.m.]

Unsustainable Path

Ten years ago, the government of the day understood too well that we were on an unsustainable path. They took some of the steps necessary to change direction; they called it a "clear course." Unfortunately, in the last few years, the former government went off course. They put us on a path that is, once again, unsustainable.

Within weeks of taking office, we kept our commitment to commission an independent review of the province's finances. The Deloitte report confirmed what we had suspected. If left unchecked, the province was facing a projected annual deficit of $1.3 billion by 2012-13. In the same time frame, the provincial debt would reach $16.8 billion. This government will not allow that to happen, Mr. Speaker. We will not follow down that unsustainable path. We will begin by living up to our commitment to live within our means. (Applause)

Just a few days ago, in the Speech from the Throne, our government outlined our vision for this province, for the future. We will make the most of the opportunities we have. Nova Scotia will be a leader. And this government will focus on the issues that matter most to Nova Scotians. (Applause)

Economic Outlook

Though the global financial crisis originated outside Canada, we are feeling the impact here at home. The outlook for the Canadian economy is clouded by declining exports, shrinking corporate profits, and falling business investment. National unemployment is up over two percentage points. However, a gradual national recovery is expected during the second half of 2009, followed by moderate real GDP growth in 2010.

Nova Scotia has not escaped the recession, Mr. Speaker; however, the impact has not been felt as acutely here as it has in other provinces, due to government investments and a more resilient and diverse economy. After strong growth of 2.8 per cent in 2008, the

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provincial forecast calls for real GDP growth of only 0.3 per cent in 2009 and 1.8 per cent in 2010.

Employment is expected to increase by 1.3 per cent in 2009 and by 0.3 per cent in 2010. While corporate profits are projected to decline by 25 per cent in 2009, they are expected to rebound by 11.6 per cent in 2010. Exports are projected to fall by almost 15 per cent in 2009, with a partial recovery of 5 per cent in 2010.

While there is reason for optimism, there are many factors that could stall our recovery. Further financial market instability, a rising Canadian dollar, or delays in major investment projects could slow our expected rebound. That is why every decision we make will be influenced by the need to keep the people's trust, to manage our finances, and our future, wisely. Today's numbers show us just how challenging our task will be. They reflect the economic downturn we, and every other jurisdiction, have experienced over the last several months.

Revenues and Expenditures

As expected, Mr. Speaker, the numbers relating to our revenues and expenditures have changed since May. This budget presents a more accurate picture of the province's finances than the previous one. The fact is, despite what was presented in this House in May, the province was not then, and is not now, in a surplus position for 2009-10. We are forecasting a deficit of $592.1 million for this fiscal year. There are several components to this deficit.

The largest single change from the May 4th budget is that we are including a provision in 2009-10 for the previous government's memorandum of understanding with the universities. The previous government decided to shift most of this year's university funding to the previous year, a confusing decision that was no fault of the universities. That left almost two years' funding in last year's budget, and very little in this year's.

Within the context of our work to make Nova Scotia a learning province, we want to restore the practice of providing one year's funding for universities in each provincial budget. Therefore, we are budgeting an additional $341 million this year to bring the province's obligations under the memorandum of understanding to an orderly conclusion. This will satisfy the previous government's financial commitment to the universities until the Spring of 2011. After that time, government can return to clear, accountable annual payments.

The second-largest factor in this year's deficit is a decrease in revenue of $125 million since May 4th. Since we are almost halfway through the fiscal year, the updated forecasts now available are more accurate. For 2009-10, we estimate revenues to be $8.412 billion, a slight decrease over last year.

[Page 341]

Equalization revenues are at last year's levels, and are estimated to be $1.465 billion for 2009-10. Due to changes in the federal equalization formula, payments to Nova Scotia are expected to decline in the range of $200 million next year. Since equalization makes up 17 per cent of provincial revenues, this will add to the challenges we face.

Mr. Speaker, since the budget was tabled in May, changes in economic variables plus targeted program changes have decreased revenues. Personal income tax has declined by almost $29 million. Harmonized sales tax is down by $19 million. Tobacco tax is down by $5.6 million. Motive fuel tax declined by $1.9 million, while our offshore royalties are almost $45 million less than was forecast in May, well over 50 per cent lower than in the previous year. Corporate income tax increased by $3.5 million. We will recover $43.6 million less than anticipated under the former government's capital spending program in this fiscal year.

While the delay in recovering the funds is unfortunate, I am pleased to say that we are keeping our commitment, and maximizing the federal dollars available for capital projects. We will capitalize on every available dollar of federal funds. We are keeping people working, Mr. Speaker, and we are keeping the economy moving. (Applause)

We plan to spend $796 million to build and repair roads and bridges, schools and health-care facilities, housing and much more. The province is scheduled to spend $325 million on highway construction and major maintenance projects this year, surpassing last year's amount by over $140 million, making this year's highway improvement plan one of the largest in the province's history. (Applause)

Mr. Speaker, we promised to maximize federal dollars available for capital projects, and we have done so. I am pleased to report that our estimates for cost-shared revenues have risen from $65 million in 2008-09 to $137 million for this fiscal year. (Applause) On the expenditure side, our total expenses are estimated to be $9.004 billion.

The third-largest contributor to this year's deficit is the fact that the previous government's budget did not include funding, or did not include enough funding, for a number of programs. We cannot explain why the previous government's budget did not include provision for these expenses, which they knew, or should have known, would be incurred.

M. le Président, permettez-moi de présenter certaines de ces dépenses. Nous allons accorder des fonds en préparation pour la grippe H1N1. Il est essentiel de faire de notre mieux pour composer avec cette importante menace à la santé publique et pour protéger la santé des Néo-Écossais.

[Page 342]

There were costs relating to the conversion of several hundred casual staff persons to permanent status, as well as wage adjustments due to reclassifications. Expenses and the accompanying severance costs relating to the election account for $10.6 million.

The EnerGuide Program has proven to be enormously popular, as Nova Scotians take advantage of the opportunity to make their homes more energy efficient. The additional costs relating to this program are $8.3 million, Mr. Speaker.

Thirteen million more will be made available to the Industrial Expansion Fund, compared to the earlier estimate. The fund has, among other things, helped companies like Irving Shipbuilding to secure the contract to build nine patrol vessels. This $194 million project will employ 150 Nova Scotians and will provide opportunities for 50 local companies to bid on $32 million in needed goods and services.

We believe the Industrial Expansion Fund can be an important tool that will help to create the secure jobs Nova Scotia's economy needs. We also believe that accountability and transparency must be built into the process. That's why the Minister of Economic and Rural Development will soon bring forward a plan to ensure that an independent analysis of potential projects is included in the IEF decision-making process. This independent analysis will better protect the public purse and will ensure that the taxpayers of the province are receiving the best possible return on their investments in our economy, and our communities.

We are also accelerating our investments in municipal and university infrastructure. Provincial cost-shared funding of $7 million, originally targeted for future years, will now be provided to municipalities in 2009-10 through the Building Canada Fund and the Municipal Rural Infrastructure Fund. In addition, our total matching funds to universities for infrastructure, which meets our obligations under the Knowledge Infrastructure Program, will be $18.5 million this year.

Finally, Mr. Speaker, we are setting aside $81.3 million to fund land purchases and land improvements. We believe there are some significant opportunities to purchase land that will enrich our environment, boost our economy, and contribute to achieving our goal of protecting at least 12 per cent of the province's land mass by 2015. These are opportunities that are not to be missed. We are able to make this historic investment while still holding our total capital budget to less than the May 4th budget.

[2:30 p.m.]

Making Life Better for Families

Mr. Speaker, we promised Nova Scotians that we would make life better for today's families. We take that commitment seriously. And, Mr. Speaker, in this budget, we are keeping the commitments we said would be kept in this fiscal year. Every single one of them.

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We said we would do it, and we have done it. At a cost $31.8 million in this fiscal year, our commitments are designed to improve the lives of Nova Scotians. And, as committed, they have been funded through existing budgets.

We have long said that the essentials of life should not be taxed. That's why the provincial portion of the HST has been removed from basic home electricity, starting on October 1st. And once it is off, Mr. Speaker, it will stay off. This initiative will put $15 million back into Nova Scotian households throughout this winter heating season.

We are also providing a rebate on new home construction, to keep our economy moving and our young people here at home. This initiative will put $10.5 million back into the hands of Nova Scotians. Already, more than 800 Nova Scotians have applied for this program. It's doing as it was intended. Buyers are buying and builders are building.

Our fiscal health will be fuelled by growth in the economy. To build strong communities and encourage further investment, we're boosting the equity tax credit by $1 million. The rate of the tax credit will be increased from 30 to 35 per cent of the value of eligible investments made starting in January 2010.

We expect this credit will return $7.9 million to investors in local businesses in 2010. To increase competitiveness, we are fulfilling another key commitment by providing a 10 per cent credit to businesses in the manufacturing and processing sectors. At an annual cost of $25 million, the program will begin in January 2010, and will help manufacturers boost productivity and create secure jobs for Nova Scotians. And we are encouraging our best and brightest to stay and thrive here at home.

On January 1, 2009, a Graduate Retention Rebate became effective, replacing the graduate tax credit. This rebate provides an improved incentive for graduates choosing to work here in Nova Scotia. Those graduating with a degree will be able to deduct up to $2,500 per year over a six-year period, providing potential tax savings up to $15,000. Students with a diploma or certificate will be able to deduct up to $1,250 over a six-year period, potentially saving $7,500 in taxes.

We will relieve the anxiety felt by families who must travel for life-saving health care. A $750,000 fund will be created to help families with accommodation costs when they must travel out of province.

As the House heard earlier this week, a provincial adviser is now in place to lead emergency care improvement. We will also end the practice of taking security deposits from seniors as they enter long-term care facilities. The fact is that we are keeping every single one of our commitments with funding from existing budgets. (Applause)

[Page 344]

About $13 million came from savings put forward by departments, including everything from delays in program startups to administrative savings. We have also realized $5.1 million savings in amortization and operating costs relating to our capital program, as well as $13.5 million in debt-servicing costs.

Like almost every other jurisdiction in the country, in these challenging economic times, we will be running a deficit this year. As a result, we will follow the advice provided by the Deloitte report and will change the Provincial Finance Act. The pertinent sections of the act will be repealed to acknowledge the reality that the previous government's budget was in deficit and to permit the use of our Offshore Offset for the programs and services that are important to Nova Scotians. While this is not a welcome step, it is a necessary one, reflecting the true state of the province's finances. It also echoes the legislative changes that were needed in 1999, when the government of that day had to recognize the sizeable deficit that was left for them.

Our economy is just emerging from a global downturn. While we were fortunate that we fared better than many other jurisdictions, far too many Nova Scotians felt the pain of job loss and the fear of an uncertain tomorrow. We will not add to that anxiety by making drastic cuts to programs and services. As I indicated, we are keeping almost all of the commitments of the former government, including the tax changes previously announced.

We will set a course today that ensures a more secure future, and a brighter tomorrow. We will use the expertise of our economic advisory panel to help us manage the very serious fiscal challenges we face. We will need a strategic, disciplined approach as we move forward. (Applause)

Nous devons aussi trouver des moyens de stimuler un développement économique renouvelé, à court et à moyen termes. La tâche ne sera pas facile, M. le Président. Nous devons être prêts à examiner toutes les options stratégiques à notre disposition afin de relever les défis financiers qui ont été si clairement mis en évidence pour nous dans le rapport de Deloitte.

We will take a commonsense approach to expenditure management, beginning with ourselves. In this fiscal year, we will realize $800,000 in savings with a smaller Cabinet and fewer political staff. We are freezing the wages of MLAs, political staff, and senior public servants for at least two years. Retiring MLAs will no longer keep the furniture and equipment paid for by the taxpayers; rather, it will remain the property of the province. As well, they will no longer be provided with the tax-free $45,000 severance upon leaving office. We have taken this action, because as the Premier has said, it is the right thing to do. (Applause)

We have also begun a program that will examine every aspect of government spending. Led by senior officials within government, this group will find ways to be more

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efficient, more effective. It's about using technology to transform government. A government of the 21st Century that recognizes how important it is to work with our federal and municipal partners to identify new and better ways to deliver service. Through innovation and smart planning, we will find ways to reduce costs and to make government more accessible.

The road to fiscal recovery is not a journey we can make alone. It will require patience. It will require the co-operation of our funded partners. We will need the full and active participation of our school boards, district health authorities, and other government-funded agencies, boards, and commissions as we pursue every opportunity to spend smarter and be accountable to those we serve.

We also want to assure public sector unions that we will bargain in good faith. We will be fair to both our employees and to the taxpayers of the province. We will reflect the economic and fiscal circumstances that we face in negotiations and increases to non-bargaining unit staff. While we know there will be challenges, our government firmly believes the best place to meet these challenges is at the bargaining table. (Applause)

We also want the input of Nova Scotians. Our government believes that we must work with the people of Nova Scotia. We will open a dialogue with Nova Scotians and we will listen. (Applause) We will be counting on all Nova Scotians to work with us as we return this province to a sustainable financial path, and from there to the social and economic prosperity that we're all working towards.

À bien des égards, M. le Président, le présent budget marque à la fois un début et une fin. Il marque la fin de la gestion financière imprudente don't nous avons été témoins au cours des dernières années. Il marque aussi le début d'une aire de véritable leadership.

In many ways, Mr. Speaker, this budget marks both a beginning and an end. It ends the imprudent fiscal management we have seen in recent years. It begins an era of genuine leadership. It brings a time where a thoughtful, steady approach builds strong communities that fuel a more robust economy. Where young people can stay at home and enjoy the quality of life that only Nova Scotia can offer. Where seniors can enjoy the comfort and independence of their own homes longer and where we re-establish this great province as a leader in Canada.

Mr. Speaker, we begin a time that will provide a better deal for families, and a better deal for the future. Thank you. (Prolonged Applause)

[2:45 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings West.

[Page 346]

MR. LEO GLAVINE: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. Indeed, it is an honour to rise in my place today and respond to the government's first budget. Make no mistake about it, Nova Scotians need to realize that it is a truly an NDP budget and an NDP debt that is being placed on the back of Nova Scotians. (Applause)

I have heard so often from the Minister of Finance that this is the people's House, this is where we do the people's business and today Nova Scotians have been visited by the latest in a series of illusionists. Who needs Doug Henning and David Copperfield when this province has its own illusionist, the Minister of Finance. Nova Scotia does not have a $592 million deficit in fiscal 2009-10. Most of this debt is the university assistance payout of $341 million. This $341 million will not be seen on next year's budget, it makes it much easier to move towards a balanced budget, but don't forget the money is not free. It moves into the first of a series of NDP legacies. This goes on the provincial debt. Adding to the provincial debt, in fact, this year it grows from $867 million to $889 million. That's the path this government has chosen to take.

H1N1 is on its way, and while there remains confusion about preparedness, the vaccine itself and the role of related health professionals in its delivery, your funding for H1N1 is lumped in a restructuring fund with wage reclassifications and wage negotiations. Nova Scotians want to know today what of this 54.1 million goes to deal with any level of H1N1 that will hit our province. What level of comfort are you bringing to Nova Scotians? Is it $3 million, is it $13 million or does all $54 million go towards wage settlements and $0.4 million to H1N1? Little comfort.

This government is talking about living within our means, creating a better day for Nova Scotians. Well, there is a definite lack of leadership and long-term plan. Today's budget, for example, talks about $31 million in savings since coming to office and most of it is due, of course, to short-term savings from debt servicing during the election period and what I feel will be a long, long series of construction delays and especially in opening long-term care beds, something that they have talked about on this side of the House for many years.

Debt servicing costs of $13.5 million look like it has been conveniently handed to the Industrial Expansion Fund. The NDP Government have already caught the virus of giving out money in their selection of winners and, perhaps, losers. The IEF fund has grown by 50 per cent. As small business, forestry and agriculture, so little talk in the Throne Speech, these people are starving - $13 million could have been placed to stimulate and drive our best chance for a sustainable economy, a local food economy, a value-added forestry sector, and to support the heart of Nova Scotia's economy, the small business man.

A budget that grows to $9 billion from $8.5 billion in the fiscal year, grown on the basis of $590 million of borrowing - deficit financing.

[Page 347]

To end today, and to deliberate more tomorrow on the details, the Minister of Finance is the grand illusionist in creating an artificial debt this year. He did not steal the hearts of Nova Scotia with this budget. Thank you, Mr. Speaker. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: Honourable member, would you be prepared to adjourn debate on that?

MR. GLAVINE: Mr. Speaker, I move the adjournment.

MR. SPEAKER: There is a motion to adjourn debate on the Budget Address.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

We are now going to move into the daily routine. Before we start, I'll mention the topic for the late debate under Rule 5(5) and it was won by the honourable member for Victoria-The Lakes:

Therefore be it resolved that since the Capital District Health Authority is hiring a company to reprocess medical equipment previously designed for one use, the Minister of Health immediately review this file and put an end to such a practice that could affect the health of hundreds of Nova Scotians.

That will be at the hour of interruption at 6:00 p.m.

We will begin the daily routine.






MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Health.

[Page 348]


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

Whereas this year marks the centennial celebrations for the College of Registered Nurses of Nova Scotia and volunteers from across Nova Scotia have been organizing events in their communities such as an artifact display at the Cape Breton University Art Gallery on September 11th; and

Whereas the College of Registered Nurses has a long history and its members have made tremendous contributions to our province; and

Whereas the Lieutenant Governor of Nova Scotia, the Honourable Mayann Francis, will attend an ecumenical service at Bethel Presbyterian Church in Sydney on Saturday, September 26th, to join in one of these celebrations;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of the House endeavour to take part in celebrations in their communities and recognize the fine efforts and remarkable dedication of the College of Registered Nurses of Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Premier.


HON. DARRELL DEXTER (The Premier): Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas Nova Scotia Power and its technology partner OpenHydro have unveiled a one megawatt tidal turbine which they will use as part of Nova Scotia's tidal power test facility; and

[Page 349]

Whereas part of this technology was built in Dartmouth by Cherubini Metal Works and supported by Sustainable Development Canada, a non-profit corporation created by the Government of Canada; and

Whereas the turbine will be used to determine the environmental performance and future feasibility of tidal power in the Bay of Fundy;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House congratulate Nova Scotia Power, OpenHydro, Cherubini Metal Works and Sustainable Development Canada for their work to harness clean, renewable energy in Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

There has been a request to revert back to Tabling Reports, Regulations and Other Papers.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.


MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Justice.

HON. ROSS LANDRY: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table the 2008-09 Annual Report and Audit Financial Statement of the Law Foundation of Nova Scotia.

MR. SPEAKER: The report is tabled.



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

[Page 350]


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

Whereas the town crier with his or her imposing and colorful presence serves as a visible link to Nova Scotia's historical past; and

Whereas town criers have tremendous talent and a great capacity to deliver a positive message of all that Nova Scotia has to offer; and

Whereas the Boston tree lighting ceremony, held annually, represents a golden opportunity to market the great potential of our province as a preferred tourist destination for U.S. residents along the Eastern Seaboard;

Therefore be it resolved that this NDP Government send two town criers to the 2009 Boston tree lighting ceremony and do so by removing two political staffers from the Premier's Office travel list.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable Interim Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party.


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

Whereas members of this House have acknowledged that overcrowding and emergency room closures, such as those experienced at hospitals in Pugwash and Shelburne, are a critical problem requiring an immediate solution; and

Whereas the Minister of Health has appointed a part-time ER adviser from a hospital already facing staff shortages; and

[Page 351]

Whereas only one day after the minister announced the appointment of her new ER adviser, the CBC and The ChronicleHerald reported that Nova Scotia's largest hospital is averaging two Code Census alerts each month and experienced three Code Census alerts within the last week;

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier and his Minister of Health immediately provide Nova Scotians with a clear and concise plan to address ER closures and staff shortages.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Community Services.


HON. DENISE PETERSON-RAFUSE: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas on Monday, August 17, 2009 through Saturday, September 5, 2009 the Nautel Laser World Masters and Seniors Championship was held at the St. Margaret Sailing Club; and

Whereas there were over 580 participants representing 60 countries; and

Whereas the 2009 Nautel Laser World Masters and Seniors Championship was the largest competitive sailing event in Canadian history;

Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia Legislature congratulate the members of St. Margaret Sailing Club and the many hundreds of volunteers who were involved in making the 2009 Nautel Laser World Masters and Seniors Championship a success.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 352]

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Clare.


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

Whereas Tyler Deveau from Clare competed in the 35th Canadian Karate Championships in Calgary, Alberta in July 2009; and

Whereas Tyler finished second in the Cadet Men's 14-15 Kumite 63 kg division in the tournament; and

Whereas Tyler qualified to represent Canada at the Junior Pan-American Karate Federation competitions from August 30th to September 6th in El Salvador;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House of Assembly congratulate Tyler Deveau for winning a silver medal at the Canadian Karate Championships and wish him continued success in future endeavours.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton West.


[Page 353]

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

Whereas Mikjikj Enterprises Ltd. of Eskasoni recently was awarded a contract to operate a material processing plant at the Sydney Tar Ponds; and

Whereas Mikjikj Enterprises Ltd. is an Aboriginal-owned and operated company, which has achieved success due to their professionalism and hard work; and

Whereas the cleaning and improvement of the tar ponds is a very important objective for the health and well-being of all Cape Bretoners;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House of Assembly congratulate Mikjikj Enterprises on their continued success, and do all we can to support the continued economic growth and development of all Aboriginal communities across Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[3:00 p.m.]

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Pictou East.


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

Whereas the Pictou County Military Museum had its grand reopening in a new permanent home in the Town of Westville's Civic Centre on July 9, 2009; and

Whereas the president and curator, Vincent Joyce, along with all members of the board of directors volunteer many hours to undertake fundraising activities which ensure the preservation of artifacts and creation of interpretative panels within the new museum; and

[Page 354]

Whereas the museum houses displays which are important to both our local and our national military history;

Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia Legislative Assembly congratulate president and curator Vincent Joyce, the Pictou County Military Museum, its board of directors, and the Town of Westville for their combined efforts to preserve and display our rich military history for generations to come.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Preston.


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

Whereas on September 4, 1974, the East Preston Day Care Centre proudly opened its doors; and

Whereas it was the brainchild of Dr. Joyce Ross who felt that children in the community needed an early childhood education; and

Whereas this has also provided employment in the community and has grown from a staff of nine to 18, with an enrolment from 30 to over 110, and has branched out to other communities from Chezzetcook to Dartmouth;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House of Assembly join me in congratulating the East Preston Day Care Centre for their hard work and dedication in running this centre, and the difference they have made in the lives of children and families in the community for the past 35 years.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 355]

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Hants West.


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

Whereas the rank of Chief Petty Officer 1st Class is highly regarded in the Royal Canadian Sea Cadets; and

Whereas the training department of HMCS Acadia is the largest sea cadet summer training centre in Canada; and

Whereas Chief Petty Officer 1st Class Kimberly Sutherland of Royal Canadian Sea Cadet Corps 76 Minas, Windsor, Nova Scotia was appointed to the top cadet position in the training department;

Therefore be it resolved that MLAs in this House of Assembly applaud the efforts of Chief Petty Officer 1st Class Kimberly Sutherland on her outstanding achievement.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage.

[Page 356]


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

Whereas Camp Harris is a Scouts Canada Dartmouth-area camp located in Mineville, Nova Scotia that offers extraordinary programs for youth across Nova Scotia and can accommodate up to 300 campers in tents, Adirondacks and various cabins on-site; and

Whereas Camp Harris committee volunteers Gary Salkus, Don Sanford, Rob Chipman, James Grigg, Jim Bracey, Ian Davie, Jim Fitzsimmons and Rick Swan work passionately, putting in many hours of labour to ensure that the Dartmouth area camp is available to youth and leaders all year long; and

Whereas Camp Harris is celebrating its 50th Anniversary on September 24, 2009;

Therefore be it resolved that this Nova Scotia House of Assembly congratulate the Camp Harris committee and Dartmouth-area Scouting on the occasion of the 50th Anniversary of Camp Harris and wish the volunteers, leaders and youth many more years of extraordinary experiences in the Scouting movement at Camp Harris.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Halifax Clayton Park.


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

[Page 357]

Whereas on September 19, 2009, motorists travelling the Macdonald Bridge encountered an unusual sight when they saw bras strung from one end of the bridge to the other; and

Whereas Bras Across the Bridge, a unique fundraiser, challenged individuals to donate their bras in return for a $1 donation to the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation CIBC Run for the Cure; and

Whereas local radio station C100 who, along with corporate support from Samuel & Co. and the Halifax-Dartmouth Bridge Commission, presented $11,088 to the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation CIBC Run for the Cure;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of the House of Assembly extend both our congratulations and appreciation to C100, Samuel & Co., the Bridge Commission, and all of the volunteers who made Bras Across the Bridge 2009 an outstanding success.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cumberland South.


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

Whereas the Nova Scotia men's and women's shuffleboard teams returned home from Ontario, sporting gold medals, after competing in an inaugural interprovincial shuffleboard tournament in Coldwater, Ontario; and

Whereas team members were David and Dini Rushton of Kolbec, Glenna and David Earle from the Chester area, Doug and Pat Stockman from Berwick, and Jim and Rose Irwin from Brooklyn; and

[Page 358]

Whereas the Rushtons, our own Cumberland County natives, were thrilled to participate and bring home the gold since there is no shuffleboard association in Nova Scotia at this time, and the Rushtons were proud that their team, the Bluenosers, sported Nova Scotia tartan and, yes, blue noses for the tournament;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate the Bluenosers shuffleboard team on this outstanding achievement and wish them continued success in the future.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Health on an introduction.

HON. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. I'd like to draw the attention of members of the House to the east gallery where we're joined today by a constituent of Halifax Needham who is also a former member of this Legislature. I would ask Mr. Jeremy Akerman to stand and receive the warm welcome of the House. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: We always welcome former members back, as we welcome all our guests here today.

The honourable member for Eastern Shore.


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

Whereas the John Fraser Fall Classic Golf Tournament started in the Fall of 2006 as a memorial to Dr. John Fraser, a well-loved family physician on the Eastern Shore who was an active member of the Twin Oaks/Birches Charitable Healthcare Foundation and a popular sportsman; and

[Page 359]

Whereas to date the John Fraser Fall Classic has raised over $60,000; and

Whereas on September 28, 2009, they will host their fourth annual John Fraser Golf Tournament, which is one of their premier fundraisers, that brings together golfers from all across the region for a day dedicated to raising of funds for a good cause;

Therefore be it resolved that members of the Nova Scotia Legislature commend the Twin Oaks/Birches Charitable Healthcare Foundation for their continuous effort in raising money to enhance the quality of life for residents and patients at their hospital in Musquodoboit Harbour.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Yarmouth.


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

Whereas the Minister of Environment had the audacity to say in the Legislature yesterday the issue on the environmental concerns surrounding a proposed mink ranch near Sloans Lake, Yarmouth County, had been resolved; and

Whereas such a statement is clearly a pipedream of the minister's, because Debbie Hall who resides on Lake Fanning, Yarmouth County, in a letter to my office demands to know exactly when the minister plans to meet with concerned constituents of Southwest Nova on this urgent issue of a proposed mink ranch; and

Whereas Jennifer Cunningham, a local businessperson in Carleton, Yarmouth County in another letter to my constituency office said she is getting fed up with the current government playing blame games with the health of the residents of the area where she lives;

[Page 360]

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Environment stop denying the issue has been resolved and immediately order an environment review for the proposed mink ranch near Sloans Lake, Yarmouth County.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

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

MS. BECKY KENT: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I appreciate this opportunity. I'd like to draw the attention of the House to the east gallery. We have a guest today among all the wonderful guests that we have, but no stranger to the House of Assembly, Joan Jessome, the President of Nova Scotia Government and Employees Union. I appreciate her attendance today and ask that the House offer a warm welcome. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Cumberland North.


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

Whereas the First Baptist Church in Amherst will celebrate its 200th Anniversary on Sunday, September 27, 2009; and

Whereas this institution is an architectural landmark for downtown Amherst and has been a staple in our community, not only spiritually but also in charitable endeavours and in working with our youth; and

Whereas the First Baptist Church is a sanctuary where the residents of Cumberland North can congregate to celebrate birthdays, holidays, weddings or form a supportive network in times of mourning or sadness;

Therefore be it resolved that this House extend its congratulations to the historic First Baptist Church on its 200th Anniversary and acknowledge its important contributions to the residents in Cumberland North.

[Page 361]

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Victoria-The Lakes.


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

Whereas Midway Motors Ltd. of Middle River is currently celebrating its 83rd year of successful operations selling Chrysler products; and

Whereas the good people of Victoria County have come to know and trust John and Gordon MacDonald, as well as other staff members, to provide them with quality products, top notch service and competitive prices, all of which makes Midway Motors an example to follow for all businesses; and

Whereas in spite of economic challenges and a high rate of failure for small and medium-size enterprises in their early days of operation, Midway Motors has truly become an institution which is worthy of our recognition;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House of Assembly congratulate John and Gordon MacDonald as well as the staff of Midway Motors for truly being the benchmark that other businesses compare themselves against and wish them yet another 83 years of continued success.

[3:15 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

[Page 362]

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings North.


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

Whereas the Kings County Family Resource Centre in Kentville is a community-based, non-profit organization, which promotes healthy families through proactive family-centred programming; and

Whereas the Kings County Family Resource Centre offers programs which include a toy lending library, Baby and Me - a group for new mothers, Let's Play Together playgroup, Tots and Tales, school readiness programs and satellite programming to areas of Avonport, Canning and Greenwood; and

Whereas on September 26, 2009 the Kings County Family Resource Centre will celebrate its 20th Anniversary with games, entertainment and refreshments;

Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia House of Assembly congratulate the Kings County Family Resource Centre on the occasion of its 20th Anniversary.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Argyle.

[Page 363]


HON. CHRISTOPHER D'ENTREMONT: Monsieur le Président, à une date ultérieure, je demanderai l'adotion de la résolution suivante:

Attendu que chaque année, le Conseil acadien de Par-en-Bas à Tusket honore une personne ou une entreprise comme leur bénévole de l'année; et

Attendu que le 15 août, pendant les célébrations de la Journée acadienne à l'île des Surette, marquant le 150e anniversaire de l'église de la communauté et le 100e anniversaire du pont, le Conseil a choisi d'honorer deux frères, Earl Muise et Chester Muise de l'île des Surette; et

Attendu que Earl Muise, qui est un enseignant à la retraite et un ancien directeur d'école est très actif dans des nombreuses associations professionnelles come Nova Scotia Teachers Union, Retired Teachers Organization et aussi au niveau local, il est membre de l'exécutif des Pompiers Islands and Districts Fire Department, Club Sociale des îles, le conseil paroissial, Foyer Nakile, président du Comité pour remplacer le pont, entre autres;

Par conséquent, qu'il soit résolu que tous les membres de cette Chambre me joignent pour féliciter Earl Muise pour son dévouement aux nombreux comités sur lesquels il sert et pour sa contribution à la communauté acadienne.

Monsieur Le Président, je demande l'adoption de cette résolution sans préavis. (Interruption)

Just say yes, I can table the English one if you want. Mr. Speaker, it's up to you.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Hants West.


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

[Page 364]

Whereas archaeology is an integral part of discovering our ancestry and our heritage; and

Whereas Joanne and David Shaw of Poplar Grove, Hants County, were awarded the 2009 Friends of Archaeology Award for efforts to promote and protect significant Acadian sites on their land; and

Whereas the continuing preservation of these archaeological finds will ensure our descendants will be able to study and ensure their genealogy;

Therefore be it resolved that MLAs in this House of Assembly applaud the efforts of Joanne and David Shaw on their commitment and dedication to the preservation of our heritage.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Interim Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party.


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

Whereas the community of St. Andrews was recently presented with a Community Spirit Award by the Lieutenant Governor, Mayann Francis; and

Whereas the award was first established in 2007 and given to communities with engaged, involved citizens working to make Nova Scotia a better place; and

Whereas St. Andrews raises the bar for civic commitment and truly serves as an example for all communities in this great province to follow;

[Page 365]

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate and acknowledge the people of St. Andrews for the Community Spirit Award they received and also extend a challenge to other communities in Nova Scotia to follow the lead set by this great community.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton West.


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

Whereas the Canadian Blood Services' recent collection in Cape Breton was a huge success and where enough people donated so that organizers surpassed their goal for the week; and

Whereas each donation of blood has the ability to help three individuals in need - therefore from the 170 donors over 500 people can be helped by the generosity displayed by Cape Bretoners; and

Whereas despite the impressive showing by the people of CBRM, the need is still great and individuals need to continue to give;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly congratulate the people of Cape Breton for their impressive turnout and encourage one and all to take part in this worthwhile cause.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

[Page 366]

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Victoria-The Lakes.


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

Whereas jazz and blues musician Michele Stephens of Baddeck released her debut album, Bucket of Honey, on September 22nd; and

Whereas Michele's outstanding talent is widely recognized across Victoria County, Cape Breton and all of Nova Scotia, and with the release of her first album, her profile will continue to grow; and

Whereas Michele's natural talent, hours of hard work, and ultimately her success serve as an excellent example which young Canadian musicians can follow;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House of Assembly congratulate Baddeck musician Michele Stephens on the release of her debut album, Bucket of Honey, and encourage our friends and families to go out and pick up this excellent compilation of music.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Argyle.


[Page 367]

HON. CHRISTOPHER D'ENTREMONT: Monsieur le Président, à une date ultérieure, je demanderai l'adoption de la résolution suivante:

Attendu que chaque année, le Conseil acadien de Par-en-Bas à Tusket honore une personne ou une entreprise comme leur bénévole de l'année; et

Attendu que le 15 août, pendant les célébrations de la Journée acadienne à l'Île des Surette, marquant le 150e anniversaire de l'église de la communauté et le 100e anniversaire du pont, le Conseil a choisi d'honorer deux frères, Earl Muise et Chester Muise de l'Île des Surette; et

Attendu que Chester Muise, est à la retraite comme directeur de transport pour le Conseil scolaire acadien provincial et il est très actif dans plusieurs association telles que Radio CIFA, La famille Muise, la Société historique et généalogique d'Argyle, La Chorale acadienne du Sud-Ouest, l'hôpital de Yarmouth, Foyer Nakile, les Chevalier de Colomb, ainsi que le comité d'organisation pour les deux célébrations qui se son tenues récemment sur l'Isle des Surette, entre autres;

Par conséquent, qu'il soit résolu que tous les membres de cette Chambre me joignent pour féliciter Chester Muise pour son dévouement aux nombreux comités sur lesquels il sert et pour sa contribution à la communauté acadienne.

Monsieur le Président, je demande l'adoption de cette résolution sans préavis.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cumberland South.


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

[Page 368]

Whereas when Jaret Perry, an inmate at Springhill Institution, was young, he suffered an injury to his eye and required extensive surgery and treatment, and he remembers well his lengthy stay at the IWK hospital; and

Whereas Perry made a decision while incarcerated to contribute to the annual IWK Telethon and assist those who assisted him when he was a child; and

Whereas Perry spread the word around the population of approximately 435 inmates, and when it was over, the inmates had contributed a total of $871 to the IWK - Institution staff were thrilled and also wanted to add to the contribution, with the final tally being $2,014 for the IWK;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Jaret Perry, inmates, and staff of the Springhill Institution on their fundraising efforts for this very important cause and wish them all the best in the future.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.



MR. SPEAKER: Question Period will begin at 3:24 p.m. and end at 4:24 p.m. Just a reminder, no electronic devices on during Question Period.

The honourable Leader of the Official Opposition.


HON. STEPHEN MCNEIL: Mr. Speaker, the NDP budget just tabled is about choices, and make no mistake about it, it is an NDP budget. Since being elected, they've carried on with the Tory tradition of handing out money at the Cabinet Table. My question to the Premier is, why have you decided to give yourself more than a 50 per cent increase in the IEF to create that slush fund around the Cabinet Table?

[Page 369]

MR. SPEAKER: Honourable member, I'm going to rule that question out of order because it is about the budget and there will be ample opportunity to question ministers during the estimates.

MR. MCNEIL: I would ask the Premier, is he going to continue with the practice of having a slush fund around his Cabinet Table?

THE PREMIER: No. There is no slush fund.

MR. MCNEIL: Mr. Speaker, governing is about choices. Now, we've noted some of the choices this government has made - creating an artificially-inflated deficit and giving itself more money to hand out around the Cabinet Table. My question to the Premier is, why doesn't your government have a real plan for stimulating the economy instead of handing out money, to the 10 or 11 of you who sit around the Cabinet Table and ignoring those who sit behind you?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the members on this side of the House, the members of the Executive Council, the members of government have put forward an economic plan which is keeping people working in the province and it includes a home construction rebate program, it includes a manufacturing and processing tax credit, it includes making sure that we use every single cent of the federal stimulus funding. What it is going is that it is putting people to work in this province, allowing young people to stay here to take advantage of the economic opportunities in this province and we intend to continue to do that. (Applause)

MR. MCNEIL: Mr. Speaker, the IEF is a flawed system, everyone knows it, we know it and you know it. Your government had a choice, you could have helped every business in this province by cutting the small business tax. So my question to the Premier why instead did you decide to increase the slush fund instead of helping every community and every business in this province?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the projects that we have undertaken, just as an example, the midshore patrol vessels will now be built in the Irving Shipyards here, are measures that are designed to ensure that the economy of this province keeps moving. That is the commitment that the members on this side, the members of government have made. What we're not going to do is what the member opposite suggest was to simply turn our back on the opportunities to create employment, to create economic activity in the province, that wouldn't make sense and we're not going to do it.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Cumberland South.


[Page 370]

HON. MURRAY SCOTT: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Premier. When the Premier announced his new Cabinet on June 19 of this year he named the Pictou Centre MLA as Justice Minister and Attorney General. Being a former police officer myself and a Minister of Justice I can certainly appreciate why the Premier would want a police officer to handle such a very important portfolio. The concern I have is, when was the Premier first made aware that the Attorney General was in a conflict with regard to the police board, as well, most importantly, was he aware of that when you appointed him to that position?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, as the honourable member opposite knows, any perception of conflict was removed when the oversight of the review board was removed from the portfolio, which was done just a couple of days after the appointment.

MR. SCOTT: Mr. Speaker, as the Premier would know, I asked when the Premier became aware which is very, very important to the people of this province. The current MLA for Pictou Centre was nominated in January as the NDP candidate. It was the RCMP's lawyers who asked for the delay in starting the trial, which was supposed to start, ironically, around the time when the NDP defeated the previous government on legislation changes they, in fact, had brought before the House today. My question for the Premier is simply, why did you appoint an MLA who is in conflict, as the Attorney General?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I appointed who I believe are the best people to fulfill the roles. As you pointed out, it was a person with experience in this regard. He was appointed because he fulfills (Interruptions) So that's the answer to the question.

MR. SCOTT: Mr. Speaker, it is quite obvious, I'm sure, to the people in this House and Nova Scotians that the Premier does not want to answer when he became aware of this issue. The date of that knowledge is very important to this province and to this House.

The Premier can appreciate as a member of the Barrister's Society, it's important for people to have faith in our justice system. It's important from the police officer on the street right up to the Attorney General. My question to the Premier is, will you ask the Conflict of Interest Commission to review this whole matter including when the Premier had knowledge and the facts of this case, what he knew when he appointed the Attorney General and report these findings back to the House?

[3:30 p.m.]

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, all the facts that the member asks for, I've already told him and I was perfectly aware throughout. The member made absolute disclosure, that's his responsibility. In fact, we moved very shortly after the appointment was made to remove that particular aspect, to put it in the hands of another minister and that resolved the situation.

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

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HON. STEPHEN MCNEIL: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. My question is for the Premier. On August 7th, your government released the Deloitte financial review. The assumptions given to Deloitte were for political reasons. It gave deficit and debt figures based on spending at unsustainable levels. You then said spending could not be sustained and would not be sustained by your government. So my question to the Premier is, why are you choosing today to spend at an unsustainable rate?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the budget that was tabled today reflects the commitments that were made by the previous government, including money that was budgeted for the universities, through a memorandum of understanding signed by that government. We believe that those people who have undertaken responsibilities on behalf of the province should, in fact, be accountable for the decisions they make.

We moved that to reflect the fact that there was not adequate funding in this year, or adequate spending in this year, for the university commitment. That is what the budget reflects, the commitments that were made.

MR. MCNEIL: Mr. Speaker, the budget reflects a $341 million decision by this government to pay a bill that is not due until next year. It reflects a $54 million restructuring slush fund that they've set aside that has nothing to do with the previous government. It reflects a $70 million fund that they set aside to purchase land - where and when, who knows? The deficit squarely lands at the feet of this government.

Mr. Speaker, this government intends to create a $592 million deficit. Almost every cent of that $592 million is based on decisions that this government made. It is truly your deficit. So my question to the Premier is, when are you going to start living within your means?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the budget that was tabled by the Minister of Finance today sets out, I think in very clear terms, the responsibilities of the government of the day. It sets out those aspects of funding for commitments that were made by the previous government, that were recognized by the Deloitte report. We believe that in order for the people of Nova Scotia to understand where the province actually stands, it is necessary for them to see a true accounting of the books of this province and that's what the Minister of Finance delivered.

MR. MCNEIL: So when you promised Nova Scotians you would not add to the debt of this province, you were playing politics. So when you gave funding numbers to Deloitte to create artificially high projected expenditure, you were playing politics. When you decided to make millions of dollars in payments that were not due until next year, to artificially

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inflate the deficit, you were playing politics. My question to the Premier is, when are you going to stop worrying about your political future and start worrying about the future of hard-working Nova Scotians?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, every day the only concern for the people on this side of the House is what is in the best interests of the people of the province. The Deloitte report was a result of an independent, arm's-length procedure. It set out the difficulties in reporting the facts that were contained in the previous budget. It pointed out that the former government either did not understand or did not appreciate the financial position of the province. That is what the Minister of Finance set straight today.

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


HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. My question today is for the Minister of Community Services. The Kendrick report, commissioned by the former government, put forward recommendations to renew the community-based option system. In 2002, members of the NDP, including current Premier Darrell Dexter, said they would implement the Kendrick report. My question to the minister is, now that the NDP is in government, will you implement the Kendrick report?

MR. SPEAKER: Before the minister replies, I'll just remind members that you're not to use the names of members. You can refer to the honourable member for a riding or ministry but not a name.

The honourable Minister of Community Services has the floor.

HON. DENISE PETERSON-RAFUSE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, and thank you to the honourable member for his question. I wish to clearly state that what I'm doing as minister is gathering information. I am researching the various options. It's very important for me to speak with the variety of stakeholders. As there are with any issues, there are opinions on both sides, so it is very important to understand those opinions and make the best decision for the people of Nova Scotia and for the individuals who have mental and physical challenges. What it is all about for us is the fact that we need to look after these people, make sure they are happy and healthy, and so we have to take time to make the proper decision for them. Thank you.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: You neglected to mention also safe, Mr. Speaker. At the time the Kendrick report was released, a member of the NDP criticized the government for even needing a report. They felt it would answer a question they should already know the answer to. I think we can all remember who said that. Clearly, the minister does not know the answer to issues surrounding - and I won't use names anymore - clearly

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the minister does not know the answer to issues surrounding the Kendrick report now because she continues to study the report even though it has already been studied, the report tabled with the government, saying earlier this month: Being new in the position, we're looking at all the options and the possibilities.

Mr. Speaker, there are still senior staff over there who aren't new. There are MLAs over there who aren't new. There is one particular MLA in Dartmouth North who spoke in favour of this when he was critic in that department, the member who I suggested should have been put in that department as minister in the first place and he's one who really cares. None of them are new so why is the minister saying she needs time to study this matter further? When will the NDP stop saying one thing in Opposition and another thing in government? Implement the report now.

MS. PETERSON-RAFUSE: Mr. Speaker, I know that these are difficult decisions to make and I know that personally because I am a guardian of an individual who has mental disabilities. My husband and I had to take a long look and make very concise decisions on the placement that would make that individual's life healthy and happy. I would like to actually - I know that what we're referring to here today is the residential facilities versus the small options and I would like to table an article that was presented in The ChronicleHerald yesterday by Mary Lee, who is the President and Chief Executive Officer of the Nova Scotia Association of Health Organizations. She speaks about the need in some circumstances for the residential facilities and that there are differing opinions.

As the minister to take the lead in this, I do need to be sure because I've experienced it personally and I know that at the end of the day the most important decision is for the individual you are caring for, so I will table this.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, it's obvious to me that the minister opposite has selective hearing because what I said was that this decision to implement the Kendrick report was already stated by the NDP. This is a policy that the NDP wanted to put in place. So Kendrick has now been done, it's on the table, it's for this government to make the decision they promised they would make in Opposition, that's all we on this side of the House are asking for.

My final supplementary, Mr. Speaker. In 2002, Mr. Kendrick said that the previous Progressive Conservative Government should face up to the problems. The community has all kinds of ideas and resources that can be matched up, but you can't do that if the Department of Community Services is acting like a fortress. My question for the minister is, when will the minister stop presenting her department as a fortress, face up to its problems, and implement the Kendrick report?

MS. PETERSON-RAFUSE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. We do believe in open communication and consulting with all Nova Scotians. The honourable member will be very

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pleased to know that within my first month of being the minister here, I actually sat down with Michael Kendrick and had a wonderful meeting with him. He is providing me with information, as I'm also getting information from all sides because of the fact that it's very important to understand it. (Interruption) The reason I'm making a speech is because I'm talking about people who we need to care about. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party.


HON. KAREN CASEY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. My question though you is to the Minister of Health. On Tuesday the minister said in a news release that ER coverage is a longstanding problem and cannot be fixed overnight. What does this minister have to say to the hundreds of people in places like Pugwash and Shelburne who do not have access to an emergency department 24/7 and who cannot wait for one year for the ER Adviser to provide advice and direction?

HON. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I say to those people, I wish the former government had done their job. (Applause) However, I recognize that they didn't do their job and that we will complete the task on behalf of those people. Thank you. (Applause)

MS. CASEY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. You know, I would have expected no less than that from that minister. To the minister again, Dr. Ross may advise on an Emergency Department Protection Fund to hire doctors. How long will it take (a) to establish the fund, (b) to recruit the doctors, and (c) to relieve the pressure?

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. Well, Dr. Ross has been on the job, what, 48 hours? (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable minister has the floor.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. Dr. Ross will be going around the province. He will be consulting with many people who are working in emergency departments. He will be doing locums in some emergency rooms throughout the province. He has already done a locum in Bridgewater. In time, we will have the results that people in this province are looking for.

MS. CASEY: Mr. Speaker, during the campaign there was a plan, but something has happened to that plan. Short-term solutions were found by the previous government. They were implemented to address chronic ER closures. Will this minister acknowledge that success of the initiative in DHA 4 and allow the capable and knowledgeable staff at the

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Department of Health and the district health authorities to come up with other effective solutions in other hospitals that are experiencing chronic closures?

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. I want to assure the honourable member, the former Minister of Health, that the very capable staff that she knows and I know are in the Department of Health will be working very closely with Dr. Ross. They've already started that process. Thank you.

[3:45 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth East.


MR. ANDREW YOUNGER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. My question is for the Minister of Community Services. In August, the parents of children attending the YMCA Dartmouth daycare were surprised to learn it would be closing. They were given just three months' notice to find a few daycare spaces for children and they were not consulted at all prior to the announced closure. In fact, now they're hearing the daycare may close even sooner than that. I would like to thank the minister for making her staff available to me to talk to them, however, I learned at that meeting that the department has no contingency plans for such closures anywhere in the province and there is no minimum notice that daycares must provide to parents or to the government. My question to the minister is, will the minister implement regulations that require a minimum time of notice to the government and the parents for daycares that plan to close?

HON. DENISE PETERSON-RAFUSE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, and thank you to the honourable member for his question. As he knows, I believe in the fact that we are here to work together and that is why I personally called the honourable member when this situation arose in his constituency, along with asking staff to meet with him, to give him an explanation to why this occurred. The board of directors who are made up of very hard-working volunteers in our community are the ones who independently run our daycares. They could not sustain this daycare anymore and they made the decision on their own and we did not realize that and as soon as we did, we took action.

MR. YOUNGER: Mr. Speaker, while I appreciate the speech from the minister, and I can assure her that my ears are very clear today, the fact of the matter is the question was not answered. So what will this minister do to ensure that the government and parents have notice before daycares are closed when already we have a shortage of daycare spaces in this province? This government is failing the families of Nova Scotia and I want to know what she is going to do to prevent it.

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MS. PETERSON-RAFUSE: Mr. Speaker, all Nova Scotians are very important to us in our department and our government. We do realize that with any circumstance that takes place, there's always a better place we can go. So that's why I had asked staff about another alternative that we can use when the fact is that these are independently run. The board of directors, the hard-working volunteers who are working and passionate about the daycare and what service they're providing, they make the decision. So we're looking under review of is there another alternative, a better communications strategy that we can have so we're notified earlier when these decisions are made by the volunteers.

MR. YOUNGER: Mr. Speaker, I am quite sure that all Nova Scotians are thrilled to know that the NDP Government is once again looking into something and I'm sure there will be an independent board assigned, that's unelected, to make recommendations for the government on yet this issue as well.

Mr. Speaker, I had personal experience in this a couple of years ago when looking for a daycare space for my own son and now people with infants in the Dartmouth daycare are being told they may not be able to find a space until June 2010 when their child won't even be an infant anymore. What date will this minister commit to telling the House her plans to improve the daycare shortage and improve the situation for parents facing a similar situation?

MS. PETERSON-RAFUSE: Mr. Speaker, we do have a plan for increasing the availability for the daycares in Nova Scotia. We're pursuing that plan, and when we have a specific circumstance, the staff is there immediately to help all those individuals find alternate placements for their children.

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


MR. KEITH BAIN: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is to the Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal. In 2001 the PC Government created the RIM program to address the pressing concerns of rural roads. That fund grew from $6 million then to $23 million in 2008. Nova Scotians were seeing results on our roads. The PC Government was investing more in operations to ensure our road standards were increasing dramatically. It seems the NDP have different priorities. Mr. Speaker, my question to the minister is, does the minister agree that this work is required on Nova Scotian roads?

HON. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, all members are aware of the fact of the importance of RIM money, Rural Impact Mitigation, that's an acronym and sometimes you must question, I know. RIM money plays an important role locally, especially, it plays an important role in two ways. The department is in an situation where it can employ a lot of smaller operators, smaller business people who are in the business of helping out and

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proving jobs are important to the people of our province, particularly those who live in more rural areas.

I know I've heard from members opposite on this topic. I've heard from the good member for Digby-Annapolis many times on this issue when it comes to some of the issues of course, when it comes to his alders or various other small jobs of that sort. We all known that RIM money is important, RIM money continues important in my department. It is something that I can assure you will be continued as long as I'm the Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal.

In the riding of Timberlea-Prospect, I can you RIM money is important from one end of the Prospect Road to the Terence Bay village up as far as the Beechville base. I encourage members opposite, members on this side of the House to continue to bring those concerns to my attention because RIM is important to that member and is important to this member also.

MR. BAIN: Mr. Speaker, I believe all Nova Scotians will agree that there is a significant need for maintenance to our provincial roads. Whether the maintenance be grading and gravelling, brush cutting, repairing potholes or guard rail and bridge maintenance, there is a significant need. The former PC Government recognized this and as a result were able to keep highway workers employed from summer to winter in the Fall of 2008 and winter to summer in the Spring of 2009, with the goal of establishing full-time staff. Now we understand that layoff notices have been given to approximately 50 employees in certain areas of the province. My question to the minister, why is the minister choosing to lay off these hard working men and women when so much remains to be done?

MR. ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, I thank the honourable member opposite for the question. I can assure that member that this is an ongoing concern when it comes to the fact that we have employees who, of course, go through that regular routine as we finish up the busy construction season which we have gone through. It was one of the busiest construction seasons in the history of Nova Scotia

I want you to know that I went ahead and met with the workers out of the Beechville base; men I've heard from concerned about their layoffs. Those decisions are made locally, they're made locally for budgetary reasons. We're within the contract. We're making sure that these things are being taken care of step by step.

I'm understanding, of course, that the member opposite has work that has to be done. Unfortunately, with budget limitations that we face and because of the long season we've had, I'll assure you that those people will be back at work. But the problem that we have now with the regular routine of having these men or women being laid off, is part of the regular routine of being an employee in the Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal Department.

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MR. BAIN: Mr. Speaker, the previous two ministers of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal stepped in and provided enough money to keep these workers working. My final question to the minister is quite simple, will the minister commit to protecting the jobs of the hard-working highway workers as the PC Government did before the NDP formed the government?

MR. ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, through you back to the member for Victoria-The Lakes. I want that member to know that I work with a professional staff. I know that those previous ministers also worked with a professional staff. When those gentlemen and ladies who work for and with me in that department make the decision that there has to be layoffs, they're not just made out of whipstitch in a casual moment. They're tough decisions, they're decisions that these folks come to me and look for advice on. I want you to know that when it comes to any kind of decision of that nature and when I'm informed that there are going to be layoffs in Pictou County as there were, I spoke to the member of Pictou County about it. When I hear from other members around the province that there are layoffs taking place, I want you to know that we're concerned about those layoffs. However, we're within our contract with the people involved in the unions, we are within our budget and we are making sure that roads are safe as possible in Nova Scotia.

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


MS. DIANA WHALEN: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health Promotion and Protection. One of the first actions the new NDP Government took on June 22 was to issue a press release to hike tobacco taxes - a move the former government had, in fact, attempted to do before it collapsed in May. Now smokers will be paying an additional $10 per carton, resulting in what government estimates said would be an additional $21 million in revenue. When making the announcement, the Minister of Finance stated that the rise in taxes would also help to reduce smoking rates in the province, although this outcome is not a foregone conclusion without programs and services to actually help people quit smoking. My question to the minister is, does the minister believe it is important to put some of the additional tobacco tax dollars directly into programs that help the very people who have contributed to this tax in the first place?

HON. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I thank the honourable member for the question. This province has had a tobacco reduction strategy for some years now and I'm really pleased to say that it has worked. Increasing taxation on cigarettes is one measure that can be taken to deter people from taking up the practice of smoking. It is particularly effective with young people and we will continue to look at other measures to deter people from smoking, including assisting people with the various programs around the province through DHAs for smoking cessation.

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MS. WHALEN: Mr. Speaker, during the election campaign each Party was asked whether they would increase taxes and all Parties had the same answer for tobacco taxes, but only our Party committed to investing the additional revenues into programs that will actually help smokers now and create a more sustainable healthcare system in the years to come. The role of the Minister of Health Promotion and Protection is to protect and enhance the programs within her realm of responsibility. When money is collected on the back of smokers, it only stands to reason that they should benefit from programs that will help them kick the habit. My question to the minister is, how much, if any, of the estimated $21 million additional revenue that was announced in June has she been able to secure to provide additional money for the tobacco-control strategy?

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, as I've said, we've had a comprehensive tobacco-reduction strategy in Nova Scotia. We have seen some very encouraging results. However, we also have stalled in some areas and we're currently doing an evaluation to identify why that may be and what measures need to be taken so that we can continue to reduce smoking in this province. We all know that the Province of Nova Scotia has among the highest rates of cancer, particularly lung cancer, in the country and this government is really committed to seeing that our numbers improve over the course of our mandate. Thank you. (Applause)

MS. WHALEN: Mr. Speaker, the minister says that we have had a comprehensive strategy and that strategy has had a price tag. In the last year that we know of, it was $2.4 million that was devoted to the tobacco-control strategy. My question to the minister today has been how is she going to increase the money that is dedicated to that so we can have continuing good results, fewer smokers and better health results in this province? I would point out that in 2001, the NDP Leader - now Premier - responded to an increase in tobacco taxes by saying that in order to make the tax hike fair, the government should spend the extra money on anti-smoking programs.

Given that the government has now seen an increase in tobacco taxes, I would like to direct my question to the Premier. I would like to ask the Premier if he could tell us why he is not holding himself to the same high standard today that he demanded of earlier governments when it came to addressing tobacco tax hikes? I don't know if the Premier was listening to the first part. Were you? Oh, very good. Okay then, he got it.

THE PREMIER: I hang on every word, Mr. Speaker. I'm glad to see that they are studying the things that I had to say back in 2001. I hope they will continue to pay close attention. I'm sure there's a lot (Interruptions) they can learn from that.


[4:00 p.m.]

[Page 380]

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the reality is that after three elections and eight years there has been a substantial investment in a smoking cessation strategy, as was pointed out by the Minister of Health. We're going to continue to pay attention to that, though. We do continue to agree that this is an important aspect of health promotion, and I thank the member for her question and her observation.

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


MR. ALFIE MACLEOD: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is to the Minister of Finance. Could the minister confirm to this House today that, despite his Party's fierce opposition to the move in May, he is indeed now endorsing the use of the Offshore Offset Accord money as part of general revenues? It's not part of the budget. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: I'll allow the question. The honourable Minister of Finance.

HON. GRAHAM STEELE: Mr. Speaker, it goes without saying that when a budget is in deficit, we are not able to be in sufficient surplus for the Offshore Offset. So as was contained in the budget documents, as was contained in the Budget Speech, we are not able to provide - this year - for an amount equivalent to the Offshore Offset.

MR. MACLEOD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Does the minister consider that this move is an honest action?

MR. STEELE: Indeed I do, Mr. Speaker, indeed I do.

MR. MACLEOD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Now, my final question is to the Premier. The legislation that your Minister of Finance is talking about introducing - and according to him, is an honest action - yet you, in an article in the South Shore bulletin on April 28, 2009 - of which I have a copy, which I will be glad to table - the current Premier, you said that you could not support this type of legislation when it was put forth by the previous government. He said, and I quote, "I'm not going to support something that I consider to be dishonest." My question is, what's happened in the last 100 days to make a difference?

THE PREMIER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. The provision that the member references was an attempt by that government to try to tell the people of Nova Scotia that they were in surplus when they were not. They tried to pretend that these provisions were somehow going to save that budget. We voted against it because it was an attempt by that government, the government of the Progressive Conservative Party, to try and deceive the people of the province. Of course, we just simply weren't going to endorse that.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

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MR. ANDREW YOUNGER: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Environment. The first turbine for the Bay of Fundy was unveiled in Dartmouth, as the minister announced in the House, and I think we were all pleased in this House to see a move toward renewable energy. However, questions have still gone unanswered from this government about the environmental impacts the project may have.

On September 15, 2009, the minister approved an environmental assessment for the turbine project, and at the time he stated that he would appoint an environmental effects advisory committee to review any habitat or environmental impacts. My question is, why has the minister delayed advising the House who will be on that panel, and what date will the minister commit to this House that he will name those participants?

HON. STERLING BELLIVEAU: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. I welcome the question from the member opposite. The importance of this potential to harness the Bay of Fundy and I want to point out that this is a demonstration project. There are certain conditions attached to this and one of them is to elect an advisory committee and to have a monitoring program. I look forward to doing that and I encourage the member opposite to get involved, participate and visit the Dartmouth site where the turbine is.

MR. YOUNGER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. The minister has not answered the question. The fact is the turbine is going in the water within months and yet the advisory panel and the terms of reference for the monitoring have not been established. So are we going to do it after the fact?

Mr. Speaker, why is the minister abdicating his responsibility to the people of Nova Scotia and not announcing the members of that panel? Why is he not ensuring that that panel has diverse representation?

MR. BELLIVEAU: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. I think that the member opposite should also understand that there are a number of conditions there. One of the conditions in there is that the project can be stopped simply by turning the switch off, which I have the authority to do. Thank you.

MR. YOUNGER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Well, when I go to see the turbine I'll also visit the minister's office to see the button that turns off the turbine.

Mr. Speaker, my final supplementary is for the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture, who happens to be the same person. The minister has told the House how proud he is of his 38 years in the fishery and he obviously knows the importance of the fishery to the province

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and the rural economy. He must also be aware that many in the fishing community are expressing concern about the trial and the fact that panelists have not been named. So my question to the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture is, why are you abandoning the fishermen and fisherwomen in Nova Scotia by not responding to their concerns and announcing the panelists of the review committee and the terms of reference today?

MR. BELLIVEAU: Well thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. I want to tell the minister opposite, as the Minister of Fisheries, I consulted very much with the Minister of Environment. (Applause) I also want to point out that with my (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable the Minister of Fisheries has the floor.

MR. BELLIVEAU: Mr. Speaker, thank you very much. I also understand the deep concerns the fishing industry has. I reviewed the reports from the different fishers in that particular area and I take this job very seriously. The conditions will be met, the advisory panels will be in place and I look forward to overseeing that project. Thank you very much.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Bedford-Birch Cove.


MS. KELLY REGAN: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal. This past summer the federal government withdrew its commitment to provide funding to the Bedford rink complex. As disappointing as this decision was, HRM has decided to move forward as planned. However, they are seeking a firm commitment from the provincial government for its share of funding. My question to the minister is, when will you inform HRM of your funding commitment?

HON. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker and I thank the member for Bedford-Birch Cove for an important question on an important issue. I am well aware of the fact - and on an occasional cold night I have been in some tired old rinks in Bedford, one in particular. The LeBrun Recreation Centre has well outlived its use and the Sackville rink is in the same situation.

I want you to know that when I was following this during a time earlier in June - and I also was aware at the time that I had an acting minister taking my place - at that time the good member for Cape Breton Centre responded appropriately when he was asked about this project. He said it was something that should get done and should get done as soon as possible.

We've talked about this privately and I say again publicly, this project certainly has the support of this provincial government.

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MS. REGAN: Mr. Speaker, I'm thrilled to hear that. However, last week the House unanimously passed a resolution I introduced urging the government to announce its funding commitment for this project immediately. It's five days later and we still have not heard anything from this government on the funding commitment. My question to the minister is, will your government act on the resolution passed last week and immediately inform HRM of the province's funding commitment to this project?

MR. ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, I again thank the member for the question. You know, we are constantly involved in ongoing negotiations with the federal government and I know people are always interested in stimulus funding and what is the next project that's going to be forthcoming as we go on, one meeting after another, with Mr. Baird or with Mr. MacKay.

I want the member opposite to know that when it comes to topics of this importance in your community, it's something that we continue to want to see go forward. It's something within the budgetary limitations that we face and the lack of support from the federal government, something that we're going to continue to entertain. I look forward to meeting and talking to the member opposite about this topic. Perhaps more details would come directly from the community because I can tell you, member, it's a lot better handled by you than the previous member who on many occasions just botched the job.

MS. REGAN: Well, Mr. Speaker, I have to say I do agree with the minister's comment. However, I would like to point out that on July 9, 2009, the member for Hammonds Plains-Upper Sackville stated on the NDP caucus Web site: These ice pads are desperately needed in the community, this is why the province remains committed to this important project. The press release continued to say the project is also being funded by the Halifax Regional Municipality. Now, at this point there is no federal funding. What I want to know from the minister is, is your government prepared to fund its portion of the four-pad arena project - yes or no?

MR. ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, I thank the member opposite for the question. While you were speaking, member, I received a note - and I'll table it in a moment - a note which begins by calling me by my first name, which isn't necessary: Please mention all the support from the member for Hammonds Plains-Upper Sackville. It's signed by the member for Hammonds Plains-Upper Sackville who has supported the rink. So I would like to table this note to make sure that I have read from it and he's on the record.

Member opposite, I'm certainly not making light of this comment. I believe the best way for us to handle this situation is if, at your convenience - and I understand, of course, you're as busy as I am some days, but I look forward to sitting and talking to you about this issue as we see it progress. It's of some importance, member, I know, because of the importance that we have in a community where it's located, particularly, and also because of the fact that it could be used by people from Sackville, Hammonds Plains, Bedford,

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Waverley. It's something that we're working together on and I thank you for your time because I know it's an important issue for you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Cumberland South.


HON. MURRAY SCOTT: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Premier. Will the Premier agree that it is vital that politicians keep their word when making commitments to the people of Nova Scotia?

THE PREMIER: Of course.

MR. SCOTT: Thank you, Premier, and I want to thank the Premier for his forthright answer.

The previous government, Mr. Speaker, made announcements of correctional centres in Antigonish and Springhill to replace two aging jails in those communities. I want to table a letter dated April 3rd from the then Minister of Justice, Cecil Clarke, committing to site selection in Antigonish. I want to table a press release from the Department of Justice dated April 29th committing to land and a facility in the Town of Springhill. More importantly, I want to table a document where the Premier commits to ensuring that commitments such as these will be honoured. It says: Dexter says he would keep Tory promises.

[4:15 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, I have a very simple question for the Premier. When will he keep his word and announce when the correctional facilities will be built in Antigonish and Springhill?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I want to assure the member that the decision with respect to the correctional facilities will be the right decision made at the right time.

MR. SCOTT: Mr. Speaker, just for the Premier's information, decisions were already made and the Premier committed to honouring those commitments, and I don't hear that happening here today.

Mr. Speaker, I want to table a letter addressed to the Premier, dated September 10, 2009. The letter is asking the Premier to honour a commitment to build a new correctional facility in Springhill on provincial land adjacent to a federal institution, as was suggested and proposed by the previous government, and agreed to and signed by Mayor Allen Dill, Town of Springhill; Warden Keith Hunter, the Municipality of Cumberland; Mayor Doug Robinson, the Town of Parrsboro; and Mayor Lloyd Jenkins, Town of Oxford.

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Cumberland County needs a new correctional facility, as was emphasized many times to us on this side of the House. My question to the Premier is, when will work begin on this new correctional facility for the Town of Springhill, and Antigonish, as supported by these civic leaders, but more important, Mr. Speaker, was committed to by the Premier in regard to making commitments that were made by the previous government?

THE PREMIER: Well, I thank the member opposite for the question. I should point out to him that the prudent way to proceed is to do the first things you have to do first. So that's why the Minister of Finance today tabled a budget that will include $1 million for the design work that needs to be done for correctional facilities, and of course the decisions with respect to the rest of it will be made in due course.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings West.


MR. LEO GLAVINE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. My question is for the Minister of Agriculture. A new plan by Ottawa to shrink the Canadian hog industry could effectively end hog farming in Atlantic Canada. This isn't something new, the previous government whittled away our hog industry through lack of attention and proper funding, and now, with a change in government, we've been told that change is upon us. So my question to the minister is, what is your government doing to prevent the final destruction of Nova Scotia's hog industry?

HON. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, I have to say to the member, we are concerned. We've not been approached for a single ask, I guess, from the hog producers of the province. There are a couple of, I would say, main producers left in Nova Scotia and I've been in touch with both of them. We are looking at whatever possibilities, more on an individual basis, for whatever we can do to secure their staying around. Anyway, it's more associated with individual producers than as an overall envelope for the industry that was pretty much destroyed by the previous government.

MR. GLAVINE: Mr. Speaker, the federal plan provides $17 million for new market promotion, but also $75 million to assist farmers to exit the business. The sustainability of our hog industry apparently is not on the mind of the federal government. Mr. Speaker, this program is meant to deal with overproduction on a national scale, but farmers in Nova Scotia know it could create a serious problem in the Maritimes. This program is tailor-made to aid red meat farmers in western Canada and government is doing little to keep focus on Nova Scotia. My question to the minister is, what discussions have you had with your federal counterpart about this program and the damage you may cause to Nova Scotia's industry?

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MR. MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite, I think in the direction he is going, if I understand him correctly, is correct. Quite often these federal programs seem to be designed more for a western model rather than an eastern model of agriculture.

In July, I was in Niagara-on-the-Lake at the meeting of the federal and provincial Ministers of Agriculture, and I did have some time to discuss this issue with the federal minister. I would say that I didn't find a lot of flexibility with the minister in looking at alternatives that might help those provinces that were kind of outside that western model, but it is a dialogue that we intend to continue. I'm hoping that at some point soon I can get to Ottawa and press the case - and there is some interest from the other Atlantic ministers to go as well.

MR. GLAVINE: Mr. Speaker, with less than 10 hog producers now in Nova Scotia this could be my final question on the hog industry, so I'll get right to it. What is your government prepared to do to ensure the seven Isowean hog farmers survive and maintain sow stock to support any future the industry may have, and when will you meet with this group?

MR. MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, we are looking at whatever may be possible. As I said to the member earlier, we really like them to kind of deal through our lending agency. We encourage them to deal with the farm loan board. We have a lot more patience and flexibility than other lenders. I'd be glad to meet with them whenever that's a possibility.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Interim Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party.


HON. KAREN CASEY: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is to the Minister of Education. In November 2007, a task force was formed to lay the ground work for a multi-year funding agreement for Nova Scotia's public libraries. The task force completed their work in late 2008 and developed an MOU with the Department of Education. This government's happy to take credit for everything good that we did, so could we hear what your government has done with that MOU since taking office on June 19th?

HON. MARILYN MORE: Mr. Speaker, I think we all realize that Nova Scotians use public libraries on a very regular basis. I think we have one of the highest rates of usage in Atlantic Canada, if not in Canada. We take very seriously the recommendations that have come through the study and the Memorandum of Understanding. I believe it's part of the budget in terms of how much extra money we're able to give them this year. I've also committed to go down to Yarmouth in several weeks' time and speak to representatives from all the regional library boards, and I look forward to those discussions. Thank you.

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MS. CASEY: Mr. Speaker, the president of the Nova Scotia Library Association, in a letter from the minister - this Minister of Education - on August 14th was told it was the intention of the minister to take that recommendation and MOU to Cabinet as soon as possible. Although there have been six Cabinet meetings since then, officials in her department are still saying, "No final decision, but one is expected soon." Madam Minister, what is your definition of "soon"?

MS. MORE: Mr. Speaker, we'll certainly have an answer for the libraries after the budget is passed. Thank you.

MS. CASEY: Mr. Speaker, that's not very reassuring to the countless numbers of people who put volunteer time into developing that, and going to Yarmouth to consult after it's done is a little too late.

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

The honourable member for Cumberland South.

HON. MURRAY SCOTT: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. You're a new Speaker in a new position, and I would hope that members aren't taking advantage of that situation. I would ask you to have a look at Hansard over the last couple of sessions and compare that to some of the answers to questions coming before this House, particularly the length of time. There's precious time for Question Period - well, the honourable member can laugh all they want, but it's not a joke. Members come here with questions and getting answers to those questions is very important. On many occasions, previous Speakers have had to warn government members, in fact, from their own Party, that the questions and the answers were too long. Mr. Speaker, I would ask you to review that on behalf of our caucus and report back to the House.

MR. SPEAKER: I can do that, honourable member. We had 14 questions today. The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, I want to echo most of what the House Leader for the Third Party said. I think in the fullness of your examination, I would also ask you to look at the length of the questions.

MR. SPEAKER: Yes. That's a fair request. I will now recognize the Government House Leader.


MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

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HON. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, would you please call the order of business, Government Motions.


MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Address and Reply to the Speech from the Throne.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Colchester -Musquodoboit Valley.

MR. GARY BURRILL: Mr. Speaker, I'm speaking with not just a rhetorical sense, but a very precise sense, when I say that it is an exceptional life privilege to be able to offer some words in response to the Speech from the Throne offered by the first social-democratic government in the history of our region. (Applause) I say that this is a privilege, and one for which I am honoured, but it is also something that I approach with a certain amount of trepidation because I am a minister of the United Church, and as a minister of the United Church for a long time, I have addressed many different configurations of congregations and I have addressed dozens and dozens of configurations of not always very disciplined Sunday Schools, but I don't ever remember turning to address a congregation quite this responsive. (Laughter)

But in doing so, I want to direct our attention to thinking for a few moments about the significance of this moment in our province's history in which this particular Speech from the Throne has been received. In order to do this, I would like to draw the attention of all the members to a particular installation here in this Chamber. It is an installation which speaks with special relevance to the constituency of Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley, which I represent, and that is the installation here on our west wall which has been placed by the National Historic Site and Monuments Board in recognition of the 1847 election, the 1848 inauguration of the first responsible government in the history of British North America.

The tablet which is just here behind the members for Hammonds Plains-Upper Sackville and Cumberland North, reads as follows: The first Executive Council chosen exclusively from the Party having a majority of the representative branch of a colonial Legislature was formed in Nova Scotia on the 2nd February, 1848, following a vote of loss of confidence in the preceding council. James Uniacke, who had moved the resolution, became Attorney General and leader of the government. Joseph Howe, the long-time campaigner for this peaceable revolution, became Provincial Secretary.

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It is not an adequately recognized or acknowledged dimension of our province's history that in that historic election of 1847, which resulted in that historic inauguration of 1848, Joseph Howe was elected as a member for a rural constituency. He was elected as the member for rural Halifax County in the riding that is now part of Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley. (Applause)

[4:30 p.m.]

I just want to give a little bit of the background to how it was that this took place. After years of very difficult, often frustrating and wearing campaigning for responsible government, in the 1840s, Joseph Howe - reading between the lines of his biographers - had come to a point in his personal life where something of his own personal equanimity had come a little bit into question. So in the mid-late 1840s, he accepted an offer from his great friend and colleague, William Annand, who incidently was the first post-Confederation Premier of Nova Scotia. He accepted an offer from his colleague, William Anand - who with his brother, owned a farm near the border of Colchester and Halifax Counties in Upper Musquodoboit - to come and spend some time and live and work there. Howe accepted that offer and that's why when that historic moment took place in 1847, Howe was returned to the House as a rural member. That's why the great triumphant moment, one of the great moments in the democratic history of our province, when the great procession took place recognizing that responsible democratic government had been achieved, was a procession that went from the community of Elderbank to the community of Middle Musquodoboit and from there to the place where Joseph Howe lay down his head that night in Upper Musquodoboit. All in Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

With that as a bit of background, I want to take, what seemed to me, key words from the Speech from the Throne where the events of June 9th are referred to as a decisive and historic decision. I want to put before the House in addressing the Speech from the Throne, just this thought, that there are a number of dimensions of the decisive and historic decision of 1847 that is commemorated here on the wall of this Chamber, which can bring into view for us and bring into mind for us some of the key elements, some of the most important dimensions of this present moment in our province's political history, the moment in which this Speech from the Throne is being received.

To begin with, I want to note about the historic and decisive decision of June 9, 2009, using the words from the Speech from the Throne, is that it is an historic decision, which like the historic decision of 1847 is, in very important respects, rural in its character and in its core.

We may put this just this simply, that as we look down across this extraordinary row of new government members representing such areas as Eastern Shore and Lunenburg West and Guysborough-Sheet Harbour and Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley, we can come to the

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important and inescapable conclusion that you can put just this simply, that on the 9th of June, 2009 in Nova Scotia something new happened.

Now, when you say something new has happened, we're saying something that in our province is of extreme importance. For if there is one thing that has held us back in our culture, it is the long-term, deep-seated idea that has been rooted amongst our people through many of the generations when so much of our experience has been people going off to have their lives in other places. If there's one thing that has held us back as a people, it is the deep-seated idea that everything interesting and everything really worthwhile, everything really engageable, is something that takes place somewhere else. This is something that we can see in many different places in our culture as a people of the province.

We can just think, for example, about what I think anyone would agree is the greatest novel to have been written in the riding of the honourable Leader of the Official Opposition, Ernest Buckler's, The Mountain and the Valley. There is that image there, if anybody's ever read the book, the figure, young David is standing in wartime out in a field and he's watching the troop trains go by and all the things of excitement before him, all this excitement that's all going, engageable life, all this is going to take place somewhere else.

We can also think about the novel written by the great poet and novelist from the riding of Hants West, Alden Nowlan, the novel, Various Persons Named Kevin O'Brien, where Nowlan has the young Kevin, whose whole life experience has been within Hants County, has him visited by somebody from central Canada who asks Kevin if he's ever been anywhere else and Kevin acknowledges that his life experience has been defined and circumscribed by rural Nova Scotia, and Nowlan depicts how for him to say this within our culture is to admit something that has a character of acknowledging a failure or a defeat. So it is no small matter to say of this present moment in Nova Scotia, and importantly rural Nova Scotia, that something new has happened and it has happened here. (Applause)

May I, Mr. Speaker, defer for a moment to the member for Hammonds Plains-Upper Sackville?

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you, honourable member.

The honourable member for Hammonds Plains-Upper Sackville on an introduction.

MR. MAT WHYNOTT: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker, and I thank the honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley for allowing me to do the introduction. I do want to introduce to the House a member of the Young New Democrats, Lauren Mills. She is actually from the riding of the Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal (Interruption) Halifax Citadel-Sable Island. Yes, I think she was a John A. graduate. Would everyone in the House give her a warm welcome. (Applause)

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MR. SPEAKER: Thank you. The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

MR. BURRILL: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I'm thinking along these lines about the rural character of this new moment in our history and how it parallels the rural character of this great moment in our political history of the 19th Century.

I want to also take a moment to acknowledge the quality of the rural representation, which has been the case in the riding that I represent. I want to acknowledge the considerable contributions of my predecessor in this position, Brooke Taylor. I don't suppose there would be very many people who would be any more qualified than me to say this, having campaigned opposite from Brooke in one election and then in his shadow in the second. I've had the personal experience in hundreds of homes of hearing about how his personal interventions over a decade and a half had made a real difference in people's circumstances and income. So I don't want this moment to pass without registering my acknowledgment of the truth that Brooke now carries with him into retirement from 16 years service here the thing that cannot be bought, the regard of his own people. (Applause)

Now secondly, this present moment in which the Speech from the Throne has been received has this in common with the moment that is commemorated here on the wall of the Chamber, that it is egalitarian in its nature. Howe, that is, and his colleagues, they were not seeking to bring about some minor little adjustment or amendment in Nova Scotia. They were seeking to make a fundamental alteration in the imbalance of power in the province between the elites and the majority of the people in Nova Scotia.

Similarly, the people of Nova Scotia have not now, in choosing the NDP over the previous government - they have not voted simply or exclusively or only to replace the previous confusion with an administration more competent. More than this, not simply this - and this is an easy matter to lose sight of - more than simply voting for this replacement, they have also in this election turned to a Party which has now, for nearly half a century, deeply identified itself with one idea, the idea that the number one problem before us is the inequality of life opportunity between a powerful minority and the majority of the people. (Applause)

What a significant thing then it is, what a meaningful thing it is that Joseph Howe's portrait here should look down across the first government of the egalitarian tradition in the post-Confederation history of our province. I want to add a word about the egalitarian tradition in Nova Scotia which is addressed in the Speech from the Throne. The speech, in giving honour to Muriel Duckworth and acknowledging her recent passing, speaks of what is referred to there - I'm using the speech's words - the fact that Muriel Duckworth was a tireless crusader and advocate for social justice. In speaking about Muriel in this way, the speech brings also into view the hundreds of people for whom this is also the case, who have

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given themselves to social justice activism and egalitarian hope over many years in all of the 52 constituencies of the province.

If I may just speak autobiographically for a moment. As an editor in the 1980s of a regional news magazine of social justice issues, I became aware of how in every community in the province, there has long been a certain nucleus of people deeply dedicating themselves to the work of constructing a fairer and more equitable world. Sometimes this has been expressed through the trade union movement and often it has been expressed through the church; often it has been expressed through co-ops and credit unions; often it has been expressed in the environmental movement and the anti-poverty movements, amongst others; and very often through several or all of these at once.

Over the years these egalitarian nuclei - the great historian of Cumberland County, Ian McKay, refers to them as these embers - over the years, these embers have often been very, very small. How small was first brought home to me when two decades ago I first came to be the community minister in Upper Musquodoboit where very shortly after an election followed. I sought the opinion of an experienced and trusted elder of the church as to whether or not in his view it would damage my ministry if I should put a sign on the lawn of the manse for the NDP. The elder knew the church and the community very well and had served the Progressive Conservative Party as an agent at the local poll as had others in his family for many, many years. Oh, no, he told me, I don't think this would upset anyone, we've always had two votes for the CCF in this community - the minister and his wife. (Applause)

So I wish at this moment of receiving the Speech from the Throne, as a member of the province's first social democratic government, to take a moment to give honour to all those who have given of themselves in the egalitarian tradition in our province and to hold up the names of some of its foremost organizational embodiments in our history: The Cooperative Commonwealth Federation, the Independent Labour Party of Nova Scotia, the United Farmers of Nova Scotia, and to mark with profound respect the powerful roots that have led to the present historic and decisive moment in the march towards a more equitable Nova Scotia.

Now, lastly, Mr. Speaker, we may note the events of 1848 acknowledged here in the tablet, that a central component of those events is also a central component of the present moment as it is spoken of through the Speech of the Throne and that is the decisive and important component of vision. For some years in the community of Upper Musquodoboit, a group of parents without any organizational affiliation - just because this opportunity has not been afforded to the kids of our community any other way - for some years, we have every couple of years gathered up all the Grades 6, 7 and 8 kids in our community and put them in our private vehicles and driven them to Ottawa and the House of Commons for a two or three day experience of the institutions of parliamentary democracy.

[4:45 p.m.]

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One of the things that we've made a point of seeing that all the young people have known, when we have gone there, is the place where on the Peace Tower of the House of Commons, there is an inscription which comes from the Hebrew Scriptures. There the inscription says, "Where there is no vision, the people perish."

My colleague, the member for Lunenburg, in moving concurrence with the Speech from the Throne, wisely brought this matter into focus with these words from the constitution of our Party: The abolition of poverty is an achievable goal and must be a part of the program of any constructive government. This vision finds contemporary echo and expression in the Speech from the Throne where we read as follows, "The strength of any society can be judged on how its most vulnerable are treated." We know that some Nova Scotians are struggling, even more so in these challenging economic times. We will reach out to those Nova Scotians, we will redesign the Employment Support and Income Assistance program to make it more responsive.

Here, in my judgment, are the two most important words in the Speech from the Throne: we can and we must - we must make significant progress in the fight against poverty. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Preston.

HON. KEITH COLWELL: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. It is with great pleasure I rise again in the Legislature to talk about my community and about the many issues that we're faced with in the province and to generally talk about many of the issues we face on a daily basis.

First of all, I'm very pleased and proud to represent the community, the riding of Preston. I've been elected to the Nova Scotia Legislature now five times and I'm very proud of that and very pleased that the people of the community were kind enough to re-elect me, and indeed to represent their concerns in the community and all the communities.

My constituency is made up of very diverse communities and consists of Lake Echo, East Preston, Montague, Lake Loon, Cherry Brook, Mineville, North Preston, Westphal and Porters Lake. My riding in the community of North Preston has the largest indigenous population of Blacks in Nova Scotia and I'm very pleased and proud to represent that community. The diversity in the community is one thing that makes it so strong. It means that many people can share experiences, cultural experiences, they can share all kinds of diverse ideas, and indeed it makes my community stronger.

One thing we've done every year, we have a community open house that I sponsor each year and invite all the members of the community in, and it's wonderful to see that we have everybody from every community in my riding attending. So when you go there and you

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see them all sitting down and talking with each other and sharing ideas, and also stories of their childhood and their backgrounds and their families, it's wonderful to see and wonderful to hear. Several people have said to me, nobody has ever done that in our community before and I am pleased to see that they trust me enough to come and sit down and talk about issues. That, to me, makes it very special. I love my community. I love every community that I represent and I truly enjoy working with them.

When I say "diversity" it couldn't be any more diverse in our area. We have people from all walks of life, we have people from all ethnic backgrounds, all different types of color skin, and that is very special. When you talk about something that you want to do in your community and you talk about diversity, that is our community. There are many issues - many, many issues - and once in a while we hear some very bad stories about somebody who hasn't been treated properly, as they should be treated, and that is not acceptable, period, under any circumstance.

Fortunately, those incidents are becoming less and less, and I look forward to the day that never, ever happens to anybody, no matter what their ethnic background is or the colour of their skin, or whatever the situation may be.

But the rich history in our community is incredible. I recall one gentlemen, since deceased, on his 95th birthday we were talking to him - he lived in East Preston, a wonderful man, of very slight stature, a Black man - and he said that he used to have to walk every day from East Preston to where the interchange is now in Dartmouth. That's quite a hike. He worked there at the ice plant, 12-hour shifts with a very short time for lunch - and if you were two minutes late for work, there were five or six people lined up for your job and they had your job.

Not only did he walk to work every day, he walked home every day - I think it's about 11 or 12 miles each way. Then he would go home and plant a garden in the summer - plant a garden and work until after dark in the garden because it was the only way he could feed his family at that time. His name was Mr. Colley and when you listened to this man - the pride that he had in his community and a pride he had in the things he had accomplished.

When you talk about having a vehicle today, you think everybody has a vehicle. He had one of the very first vehicles in East Preston and he was very proud of that. He worked hard to get that vehicle. Then he could drive to work and he was still never late, he never missed a day's work - not one day's work - in this whole time.

I have to tell a story about this man that I've told many, many times. At 95 years old, this gentleman - to give you the determination and strength of character of this gentleman, this stands for my community, people in my community - he decided to buy a new refrigerator at 95 years old, in his half-ton truck which he was driving. He bought a new refrigerator, decided to go pick it up and he brought it home, but there was no one home to

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help him unload it so he took it off the truck himself, at 95. This gentleman probably weighed around 100 pounds, if that - the refrigerator weighed more than he did.

So he took it off his truck and then he found that he couldn't get it through the door, so he took the door off. It still wouldn't fit, so he took the door casing off. Anyway, he got the fridge in, took the old fridge out and put it on his truck himself. Have you ever tried to do this, never mind at 95 years old? He put the casing back on, put the door back in place and had everything all done before anyone got home at 2:00 p.m. to help him.

That gives you an idea of the work ethic and the determination of the people in the community. I respect them for that and see how important it is. It really goes to a rich history of hard work and dedication to things. There are many bad stories that come out in the news about people in my community, but those are the exceptions - very, very rare exceptions.

The people are so wonderful. If you go to someone's home - and I'm sure many people in this room can say the same thing - they always want you to stay for supper, they want you to have a cup of tea with them, and it's very, very enjoyable. A lot of people are very, very poor - you'd never know they're poor, but they're very poor. But they want to make sure they share whatever they have with you and work with you.

They're not poor because they wanted to be poor. A lot of ladies who brought up large families, they never did work, so they can't get Canada Pension - a lot of pensions they can't get. Their husbands didn't have pensions because at that time there was no Canada Pension. They're victims of circumstance. They just make enough money that they can't get help with some things, but they don't make enough money to really live a lifestyle they should be living as a senior citizen, as we all hope to do when we get older.

Despite that, these people have an incredible character. You would never know they ever had a problem in their lives and they're there in the community supporting everything they possibly can do. One thing I will say, especially in the Black community, the seniors are very well respected by the whole community and they're treated with great respect, which I think is something that we have lost in a lot of our society today. So I'm very proud to represent a community with such diversity and so many things that you can learn from the people who have done things.

The other thing which we have, which we see, you hear often of all the churches closing all around Nova Scotia, all kinds of churches are closing and being torn down. I think it's a crime, some of these buildings are 250 to 300 years old and they're being destroyed. They should be historic sites in little communities. In my community that's not happening, what's happening in my community is that we're building new churches and it's wonderful to see. We have almost every denomination in the riding, for a small riding, we only have about 7,500 voters in my riding but for that size riding, we have I believe seven or eight Baptist churches, we have two Anglican churches, we have United churches and the list goes on and on. So it's fantastic and it's fabric and the culture of the community and it's in all of

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my communities where this is happening and it is very positive. We have a Catholic church and it is wonderful to see that these facilities are growing. It shows that not only is it the character of the community but it is the backbone of the community and it's so important that we have these facilities for people and people really move forward and the churches have moved the community forward. It sets the right tone for the things that should be happening.

The other thing that we have in our community, we have many things. We have the Black Cultural Centre. Now, the Black Cultural Centre, if anybody hasn't been there yet I strongly suggest that you should go see it. It's the only place in Canada, in fact the only place in North America that I'm aware of that has a look at Black history. Can you imagine going to a museum - and this is sort of a museum, it really should be a museum - and seeing a wall of honour for Black police officers and the history of the Black police officers in the Province of Nova Scotia and most every one of them is still alive. That's a pretty scary thought, when you think about it, not that they're alive but there should have been police officers up there 200 years ago and there weren't.

In the same facility, the first recipient of the Victoria Cross, the first recipient's picture is there as well, a Black man. A Black man was the first one in Canada, think about that. William Hall. (Interruption) A gentleman here is going to tell us a story of where he is from. But that goes to show you the rich history we have in our community.

We also have issues with the Black Cultural Centre in that the last government cut funding, substantially to the point that they almost had to close last year. That has to change and I would encourage the present government to really look at that situation and see if we can put long-term operating and capital funding into this very important facility that does help our tourism, helps the culture of our community, the history and heritage of our community. It's so important. I hope that the present government would see the importance of this facility and work with the board there and ensure that they have the funding. They're not looking for a lot of money, they're not. They're only looking for enough money to pay a couple of staff and make sure that they can do the capital improvements and maintenance that they need to do on the building to keep it in place. With the little bit of money they have to work with they do an incredible job. Luckily this year the federal government provided them with some funding for summer students and that has made a tremendous difference for them. So it's an incredible facility, one that I encourage everyone to visit and go and spend some time there and actually see the history.

I'm very proud to be United Empire Loyalist, I'm a direct descendant of a United Empire Loyalist, I'm very proud of that. Also, in the Black Cultural Centre most of the people in the Black community, in my community, are United Empire Loyalists. So it's very important to remember that, it's part of our history.

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I didn't realize that until I started representing the community as a councillor first, we had a lot of United Empire Loyalists in the Black community. But this is something that should be talked about.

I also want to talk about another facility in my community that gets very little credit outside the community. It is the Orenda Canoe Club. Now, the Orenda Canoe Club is a small, very small structure, but every year it trains probably between 200 and 300 young people in paddling. Now, when you think of that the first time, you think of the Banook Canoe Club and the big club they've got there and all the other canoe clubs on the Dartmouth lakes and all these wonderful clubs. Well, a lot of those clubs are very sorry after they've dealt with Orenda Canoe Club at a competition. Usually Orenda wins - one, two or three wins - over and over again, and indeed they've set international records. One of the members there received an Olympic medal for excellent paddling.

More important than all that - and that is important, it is very important - it helps young people. You take the young people, a young child all summer who hasn't anything to do and take them to the canoe club. Not only do they have a wonderful time, which they do, they have a wonderful time there, but the training is second to none. They actually take a lot of the young people in the wintertime to Florida for training for a whole month. The canoe club does that and while they're in Florida, not only do they train to paddle and paddle competitively but they also continue on all the work of the schools so they don't get behind in school at all. It is an incredible facility.

I remember one of the stories when a friend of mine was one of the initiators of the canoe club years and years ago and he said, you know, they went to Ontario to a big competition and they won almost everything they were in, the canoe club. So this guy from Ontario, this great big fancy clubhouse and everything to deal with the best boats you could buy, the best training equipment, everything you possibly could have and he said, I've got to come to Nova Scotia and see this canoe club. So about six months later he was in Nova Scotia and he came down. At the time it was the size of about a one-car garage. That was the building, right? So he came down and he said, where's the canoe club, when he was standing beside it. He said, you're looking at it. Well, what equipment do you have? They opened the door up and there was a few canoes and a little bit of weight equipment, that's it. That's all we've got, we have no more, there is no more.

He said, well, how did you come to Ontario and beat the pants off us with a facility like this? Well, he said it's because of the coaches we have here, the people in our community and the young people here who come here to paddle and enjoy it. That's how we did it and that's how we'll always do it.

I can't give this organization enough credit. You hear about youth all the time being in trouble, there's all kinds of things happening, all negative things. When you go there in the summertime you see all these young people running around. It looks like it is all

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disorganized but it definitely is not disorganized. You see them out competing. We have one young lady this year who set an international record at a world competition but yet the Olympics won't let women paddle - men, but won't let women, so there's something wrong with that picture. That's got to change. I think they're probably afraid of the Orenda Canoe Club winning all the records, that's why.

You see the young people grow up and the young people who grew up in this have done very well. They've gone to university, they've got good jobs and a lot of them come back to the community and they work as coaches or assistant coaches for the community and work there again, and a lot of them for almost nothing. Sometimes they come and do the work and really, really enjoy it.

It is an incredible organization, one of those organizations that really isn't noticed very much by the community or, indeed, by the province. They ask for very little but from time to time they're fortunate enough to get a grant to help them with something. But mostly they do fundraising, bottle drives and all the other things that organizations do and they have a really good time doing it.

We also have a fantastic organization in Mineville. They've won many, many awards, provincial awards and beyond, for the community involvement they did. I've been very pleased to work with them over the years to see the fantastic jobs they have done to improve their community and make it one of the very special places to live in the province. They have done that mostly with volunteer work.

A friend of mine who used to be the former president of that, it's a good thing he's not a politician because he would probably have money into this province that didn't exist before. He came up with grants from places that I never even heard of, never mind where he got the money besides that, but it did really pay off and it worked very, very well.

I can tell the same stories all over again about Lake Loon, Cherry Brook, Montague, East Preston, Westphal, North Preston, Porters Lake, and all these places. There are so many special people who do so many things to help the rest of the community, and that's what makes it very, very special.

We've also had really difficult things that have happened in our community. Hurricane Juan hit our area as bad or worse than it hit Point Pleasant Park, although we didn't get the publicity on it. There are acres and acres of trees down - total destruction in some places. It looked like a war zone. Then, because that material wasn't cleaned up and properly looked after, we had a huge forest fire last year and all kinds of promises were made by the last provincial government.

They had a big event where they all patted themselves on the back and said what a great job they did looking after all this stuff - but the community did a great job, the fire departments did an incredible job, Natural Resources did an incredible job getting this fire

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under control against all odds. If you could see the homes that were left standing after the fire and what was burnt - there were actually doorsteps burnt off houses and the siding not burnt. It will give you an idea of what kind of job the fire department did. It was just unbelievable. All the grass around a house burnt and the house is still standing. Then the next house burnt and the next one standing. Only two homes were lost in this huge fire.

I can remember the firefighters telling me they were in Candy Mountain Road, where the most destruction was, and luckily the wind didn't blow a little bit east or west because east or west there would have been all kinds of homes burnt and a lot more damage. The wind was luckily only in that direction. The fire department said they had this wall of fire around a couple of houses and they were just backing up, backing up, backing up, because the fire was actually - the flames were touching the back of the house, it was that close, and he said all of a sudden he heard a big roar and the fire was out. He couldn't understand what it was at first until he looked up and there was the water bomber they brought in from Newfoundland and Labrador. It was the first drop they made, and that saved four or five houses - just one drop of water, just one drop.

I've pushed before for a water bomber for this province and I really believe we should have a water bomber, and not necessarily just here because it's an expensive thing to have. We should probably have a cost-shared system. That's something I think the government should consider - between Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and probably P.E.I. - to have one water bomber here, one large one, because the helicopters are okay in a small fire and the small planes that New Brunswick has are okay in a small fire, but there's no comparison to this big water bomber.

We really need this equipment because if it would have been - if we had a second forest fire this year - and the one in Porters Lake, the fire was so fast and so bad that I talked to the firefighters on the scene, the initial part of the fire, the very initial part of the fire on the old Highway No. 7. The captain on the scene said, we'd better turn our trucks away from the fire this time, turn our trucks around and make sure they're going away from the fire. Normally they would back away from a fire but this time we might want to drive away from this fire. So they had the fire hoses on, pumping water on the brush and the stuff that hadn't burnt, and in less than every two or three minutes they had to move their truck further and further out. The fire was coming so fast that there was no way with the conventional equipment that they had that they could even slow it down.

Then they moved to Highway No. 107 with more equipment, a bigger opening, and they doused the trees on both sides and you can see places where the trees are green and all around them is burnt. The green is where they managed to get the water on them and they had to do exactly the same thing again and retreat. This all happened in a very short time. If they'd had one of those water bombers to start with and had it on-site in this, it might have slowed the progress of this fire, along with the helicopters that they do have.

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These are the sort of things we've got to look at. We were fortunate nobody died. We were fortunate with very little damage to property, although the houses that were gone were pretty devastating. Both families I know very well, and it is unfortunate. There are things that they can never replace, as always happens in a fire. Again I stress, you see a house and the shed right behind the house, three or four feet behind a house, is gone and the house is still there. So the fire departments in my area and the support ones that came in from HRM did an incredible job. It's unbelievable. You have to see it to believe it.

Fortunately, a lot of that is straightened out by the local areas, but that goes back to Hurricane Juan. A lot of the spread of this fire was really quick because all the stuff was lying on the ground, dry as a bone, and just waiting for a spark. So you see where it hopped the road and the wind conditions were just right, a really warm summer and very little water on the ground in the swamps or anything. So that part of the debris is gone but we have still hundreds of acres of this stuff down on the ground. It really has to be looked after.

Juan set up the conditions for this fire, the fire came along and took advantage of the conditions and burnt all the area. There has been a report done by the community and there's been no action on it yet. There were all kinds of promises to test water and everything by the past government and again when they were patting themselves on the back at Cole Harbour Place, they talked about a lot of stuff but they did very little. It's unfortunate because the community spoke during the last election and got rid of the member that was there. So I guess that was part of the thing that will teach you a lesson. If you're going to promise you're going to do something, you'd better bloody well do it.

I've got some other issues in my area, too. We have areas that we have some very capable tradespeople but have never taken training, no formal training, they don't have their papers. We have some fantastic stonemasons, bricklayers, carpenters and people who, for whatever reason, probably had to go and help support the family when they were young and they decided to go and work some place and basically work at a trade. Unfortunately, a lot of those people have never got papers and I want to really thank the former Minister of Education, now the Leader of the Third Party, for a program to make sure that some of these people had opportunities to get trade certification, because it makes a difference between making $8 to $10 an hour and making $25 an hour. So you get someone who can make $25 an hour can really look after their household because that means in the winter time if there's no work and they get EI, it means they get maximum EI payments instead of minimum ones. It means that they can do all kinds of things that all Nova Scotians should talk about.

We talk about eliminating poverty, which I totally agree with the government, that we should try to eliminate that and this is one step, a simple step. In order to do this, we have to be innovative in how we deal with these people. We have to make sure that in the summertime they have to work to make a living, there's no question, but in the wintertime when they're not working, even if we had to pay them to go to school and make the school accessible to them.

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Some people have difficulty with reading and writing, so if that's an issue, address a trades training around that issue for that individual. Specialize the training for the individual to make sure that at the end of the day the person feels comfortable taking the training, they don't have a financial worry about how they're going to pay for this or how they're going to feed their family while they're off taking training, to the point that they can get a trade's training. It may take them three, four, five, six years to do this in the winter, maybe a couple of months each winter to do this but make it possible for them to do it, because every penny we spend on doing something like that to help someone get to that level of a proper certification, they will pay it back in income tax over the next 20 years. We'll get the money back, this is not a gift. This would be good for our community and it means that people would have pride, they can then do things that they couldn't possibly do, and really help them as they move forward, and their families.

It would also encourage their children and their family to go to school more too and get more education and that's so important. Education is gold, as we all know. If you have a good education you can do anything with your life, anything you decide to do and it's so important that we provide that. So we've got to provide education as we are with the younger people but not only that, but the people who are working that need that little bit extra. This is not limited to one community in my riding, a lot of communities have people that have done the same thing. I have some people that work in the auto mechanics field, excellent, but they have no papers so they can't make the money that they would make if they had the certifications.

[5:15 p.m.]

These things are important, this is important to all Nova Scotians and I'm sure that the stories can be told from every riding in our constituency, constituencies all over the province. We have to find innovative solutions, we have to find solutions that will help people, really help them. Each case is different and we have to look at each person individually, each family individually and see what needs to be done.

I can remember a long time ago someone coming to me and saying look, I've got to take this course, I can't afford to take the course because I can't afford to get back and forth to the classes. I said, what do you need? Bus tickets. Now bus tickets, when you think about it, bus tickets are not very expensive. At that time they were even less expensive than they are today and that was going to stop that individual from going and taking a course that would guarantee them a job at the end of the day, because they couldn't get bus tickets.

I worked with that individual and we got them bus tickets and they went and took the course and are now working. Something that simple should not stop somebody from getting the education they need, or the training they need, so that they can then go to work and do

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the things they want. Once they get to work, then they can afford to pay for more training, if they want to, but it's something that simple.

When you think about it, and you think about the huge budget - with the budget that was talked about today and the billions of dollars that is spent every year - you could spend $20,000 on a family to make sure they all worked, making a good income and will pay that $20,000 back in income tax over the next few years. It makes no sense not to do it, but yet we continue to do that. We put everybody in a little box and say, well, if you don't fit in that box, sorry, we can't help you, go away. Those are some of the brightest people you are sending away who haven't had an opportunity.

I can remember a gentleman years and years ago when I first started as an MLA, coming to me one time. He was on social assistance and didn't want to be. He was living in a community where it is very, very difficult to find a job. He said, I want to take this particular course - and I won't elaborate on what the course was. A friend of mine had taken that course before and the course was out of the province.

Now here's a gentleman who is on community services, didn't even have his Grade 12 and a pre-requisite to this course was Grade 12. So I thought to myself, is this guy for real? Does he really mean what he says he is going to do? Well sure enough he sure did. He said, I need two things: I need to take my GED, get my Grade 12. He said it is going to take me two years if I work at it full time. He said, I need you to talk to Community Services so they'll pay for the courses for me and he said, I just don't want a rubber stamped one, he said I really want to learn the material. He said, I really want to get the equivalent to Grade 12.

I said, great, so we worked on it. It took us quite a while through Community Services. We managed to get it done. Then, when he was all done that, he came back still with the same dream, I want to take this course.

Now a good friend of mine took that course. It is a two-year, very intense course; very, very difficult; a high dropout rate; is outside the province, which means he would have to leave his family here in Nova Scotia and take this course. So finally, after a lot of discussion, a lot of letters and a lot of dealing with Community Services, they agreed to pay for the course, at least enough so he could get student loans and pay for the rest of it.

Anyway, away he went. I thought to myself, boy, this is going to be tough, I wouldn't want to be going off on this adventure and leave my family. He would go out in the Fall and not come back until next Spring because he couldn't afford to travel home to see his family and they couldn't afford to go and see him.

He came back after his first year and came into my office in the summertime. He said, I did very well, I'm going back next year and I'm going to finish. Lo and behold, he did. That gentleman today operates a very successful business, his own business. I couldn't give him

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enough credit, and this community couldn't give him enough credit, for the determination he had and what a difference for him and his family. He just needed that kind of a start. That's what we have to look at with people. A lot of people need a little bit of help to make a huge difference.

I want to talk about some other things that make a huge difference, too. In my area, there is one area in East Preston that has fought for high speed Internet for a long, long time. So I call up everyone, oh yes, we have high speed Internet in East Preston and in Lake Echo, we've got it all covered, yes, except for one street, one little street. So we started a campaign. We wrote to Aliant, we wrote to EastLink, we had them go out and measure it all up - too expensive to put it in. Okay, fine, so the government came along and announced this new high speed Internet program. I'm all excited.

Then I get more information from some of the people in the community and their expression was, we'll believe it when we see it. Well, I think we've got it, I think we have it now, I'm not sure, couldn't find a location for a tower. I sent all kinds of letters off to the people looking at new Internet systems across the province. I talked to the engineer, he said it wasn't even on a list. It wasn't even on a list to be done and here we talk about the economy and growing the economy. If you don't have the Internet service at your home or your place of business - there are a couple of businesses on this small little street, they didn't have high speed Internet. That kills the business, it effectively kills it.

Those are the simple things we have to do and I'm pleased to see that high-speed Internet is getting across the whole province. If we don't have that, our economic situation is going to get worse and worse. I don't think we've seen the worst of the economic situation yet. I hope I'm wrong, but I don't believe we have. I was in manufacturing - I ran my own business - for a long time before I was elected to the Legislature. I can tell you, these economic downturns are rough on manufacturers, especially ones that export. You see the US and European markets dry up, you're a long time getting those markets back. So, it's all these things that have to go together.

We also see simple things - in my area we need an interchange at Exit 17, where Highway No. 107 comes through; there's a huge amount of traffic there now. I wrote to the last minister - actually three or four ministers - and asked them to look at putting this interchange in. Most all the plans are done, the land is all acquired except for a couple of pieces. I could never understand why the Progressive Conservative Government wouldn't build this interchange because it really needs to be done.

I got an e-mail from the councillor there now, he was an MLA here before me, he was a Progressive Conservative MLA, come to find out that he had recommended to government not to move forward with this interchange and help traffic until Main Street in Dartmouth was all up to four lanes. This doesn't make any sense whatsoever. Once this interchange is

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put in, and a by-pass road put in, the traffic volume on Main Street will drop down to about 10 per cent of what it is now. It's regressive, thinking like that.

Evidently, the past government was listening to this and believed in this thing, an excuse not to do it. I talked to the engineering people at the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal - we want to do this project because it makes a lot of sense. It's not a $20 million project, it's probably about $3 million - $5 million to do the project and it will take extreme pressure off those roads. It'll even help Cole Harbour and other areas where the traffic all comes together. Everybody could win from this thing and it helps people way down east and also makes it more accessible to the Eastern Shore and down in my area for businesses. It makes it more attractive for businesses to set up there.

If we get some more small business there, of course it helps our economy. We have a lot of small businesses in the area. If they have to struggle driving through traffic, it's something that really deters business.

I remember one of my colleagues from Cape Breton telling me every week for several years, we have a long drive every day - they certainly do when they come to the Legislature, as anyone from Yarmouth would have, a long drive - we spend four and one-half hours on the road. I listened to this for a long time and I tallied up one day how many hours I'm on the road and I don't live that far out. I'm over 10 hours - not nine hours - a week on the road and I live just outside the city here in Porters Lake. Even though my colleagues drive one time a long way and sit there for four and one-half hours, I'm actually on the road longer than my colleagues in Cape Breton or Yarmouth. So, they don't tell me that anymore now.

It shows how difficult it is to travel around. We really have to look at a better transportation system. I know the regional municipality is upgrading the bus service. In our area we have a community bus which really is not very useful - it's improved a little bit over time, but it really hasn't done the issue. The HRM put a Park and Ride in Cole Harbour - well, that was a very good success, but whoever designed the parking lot had no concept of how many buses they were putting in the place. You can't park in the place because there's nowhere to park. The buses are loaded and there's not enough parking. Whoever designed the last one, the parking and all that, maybe shouldn't do the job the next time, get someone that knows what they're doing.

I know people from my area will come in as far as Cole Harbour, which again is a battle getting in through all that traffic, to the bus terminal there and take the Link bus downtown, which I think is a great idea. We have to look at more and more of these things. And to go back in time, in my area, there was really no interest in a bus - even 8, 10 years ago there was no interest in the bus. That was the biggest single thing I heard this last election. We want bus service, we want bus service - we don't want to drive our cars and sit in traffic for all those hours.

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Every time I see a bus go by at rush hour that's full of people, I thank goodness people are taking the bus. If not, instead of being an hour from my place to downtown Halifax, it would be two hours because everyone would have a vehicle. It's really good, but I think we've got to get serious about this and do better planning. In the past, I mean, the ideas are good but you can't do a half job - you've got to do the whole job, and people will use the service. They've got to move these Links out further - they're too close to the core - and maybe have two or three different ones at different intervals. Then you've got to make them affordable.

We used to have an employee at our office over here who came from down the South Shore way to work. It was cheaper for her and her husband to drive her car in here, park it downtown, and pay the high fees for parking than it was to take the Link. So there's something wrong with that picture, and it's being subsidized by the taxpayers of the municipality. I mean, there's no real drive; there's a lot of talk about this stuff, but nobody really comes up with innovative solutions, and innovative solutions don't have to cost hundreds of millions of dollars. They just have to be well-thought out and well-planned and use the resources you have and do things. It doesn't appear that that's happening.

I'm hopeful that the new government - I'm not optimistic, but I'm hopeful - will be a little bit more innovative in some of these things. Without a good transportation system - and that includes roads and bus service and all these other things, high speed internet these things need - because if we're going build our economy, we've got to build it in small business. The big businesses come in, take advantage of us, and are gone. Whenever it's not to their advantage, they're not here, and they make a decision, God knows where, and they're gone. We can't afford that. We've got to build small, solid businesses here in Nova Scotia, and I'm living proof that you can do that. I produce products and design them in Nova Scotia, build them in Nova Scotia, and export them all over the world. If I can do that, anyone can do that.

The expertise is here in the province. I get tired of listening to people saying, well, they're from Toronto, they really know what they're doing; they're from Europe somewhere, they know what they're doing; we don't know what we're doing around here - that's garbage. When I travelled all over the world in my business, I'd sit down in boardrooms and someone would always have that iron ring on from TUNS or they would have an X ring on or somewhere else, and they'd be the vice president of the company but they were working in the U.S. or in Europe or somewhere else. So we have the expertise - we just have to get those people to come back here, use that expertise, and grow our economy. That can happen and it wouldn't take much, because one thing that they all talk about is that they want to come back to Nova Scotia. These people have done very well.

You see that things are happening. We've got incredibly good universities here. At one time we had more Ph.D.s per capita in Nova Scotia than anywhere else in the world, but that hasn't helped our economy. Why not? It should help our economy. Those bright minds

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here, really working, state of the art - and these people aren't just here in Halifax and not connected with the whole world, they're doing research that is world-class and things that we don't even hear about.

I used to work in the university system a long time ago, and the people and the stuff they were working on, it was incredible - still hasn't come on the market, some of it. I think one of the big problems is - and I've seen that because I've developed some products with the universities - is getting it from the concept stage to the finished stage so people can actually market the products and make money and employ people. If a business isn't making money it's not going to last and invest in new technology, new people, new training, all the things they have to do. So those things have to be done.

I think we have all the elements here. We just have not been very good at putting it together, and throwing money at a problem is not the cure. We have to come up with solutions, we have to find out what the business needs to make it tick, and when you find that out, you've got to help them find it - not give it to them, help them find it and help them produce the products they're going to produce, and you will find there's wonderful things that happen.

We've been very regressive in Nova Scotia with wind energy, with tidal energy now coming onside - but we're still a number of years away from that before it really takes place - and biofuels and solar energy and all these things. We have one of the best solar panel producers here in Burnside. Why isn't that facility 10 times bigger? Well, in Nova Scotia, the rebate was 10 per cent on installing a solar system, if you looked at it from a financial standpoint, payback is about 40 years or something. So you're not going buy it, I mean it's that simple. It's a neat thing to have. It works well. But if there were more incentives for people to get these things and make the payback time shorter, then they would invest in them and they do work. They work very, very well but the cost of producing them is very high. So we have to put incentives in place to make this happen.

[5:30 p.m.]

It is the same as wind energy. We had a former minister here - he's no longer here and I have no idea why - but he and the Minister of Energy claimed that if the wind doesn't blow, that's why we don't have windmills up here. I can't even imagine, I can't imagine how he ever became a minister, number one, and number two, why was he ever Minister of Energy with that kind of a mental mindset. That is the problem we have.

Besides that, we've got to put things in place to make the economy grow. If you don't have a solid reliable source of energy, with a pretty steady cost on that energy, businesses won't come because they've got to know. They've got to know what their costs are. They've got to know what their costs are and what they're going to do in order to make money because businesses make money. If they don't make money, again, they can't hire people,

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they can't reinvest, and they can't do all the other things that businesses have to do to survive.

So we have to look at a reliable source of energy, and it doesn't necessarily have to be cheap energy, but it has to be inexpensive - if that makes any difference, any sense to everybody, but it does. It has to be inexpensive but not cheap and if you know what your energy cost is going to be for the next 10 years - roughly, with minor fluctuations in the cost- you can plan for that and you know what it's going to be. If you don't know what it's going to be and you get hit with a high increase in energy costs, you have a problem on your hands because something else has to give in order to pay for that energy cost. You have to put your costs up or prices up when you market your product or you've got to cut costs. When you're going to cut costs, well, you've got several choices, but the choices usually aren't very good. Usually it means that you automate more and eliminate an employee, which is not good. Those are things you don't want to have to do to survive.

The other issue in HRM - particularly in HRM - is ever-rising property tax. That has been a real killer for business; I mean it's a real, real killer. It puts an extra burden on the businesses and if you put an extra burden on business, they're going to go somewhere else. It's that simple. It is just that simple. I remember when they did HRM by Design, I went to one of the hearings, it was the only one I went to and I gave up after that.

They were talking about stopping construction and development in HRM and in my area, it is basically stopped now unless you get a lot that has already been approved. What has happened - just a line up towards Truro. You see where the line is in HRM ? You see all the new subdivisions just outside of HRM? Pretty neat. That's no accident, because the property tax is a whole lot cheaper, a whole lot cheaper.

If you can get a nice home, and it's easy to get onto a four-lane highway to go work and commute every day, that is adding again toward more traffic problems, which isn't properly being addressed. You see, if somebody is going to a property with taxes of $3,000 a year or $500 for the same house, what are you going to do? You're going to get the place for $500 a year, not $3,000. You can do a lot of traveling for $2,500. That adds to our greenhouse gases and all kinds of problems go with that. I think that was a regressive step to try to hold things back. We have to control development, it has to be orderly, but it has to be in a way that looks at everything. When I suggested that the people would move outside HRM, they just said, oh, that won't happen, but it did, it still is, and it's going to continue to do that.

That not only hurts businesses but it hurts individuals. In the rural areas where I live, it's bad because one time I thought that the assessment - I was always told when I was on regional council that the assessments were way higher everywhere else than in the area I represented. When I got the assessments a few years ago, there's not a whole lot of difference, not a whole lot of difference, and the services we receive aren't the same. If you

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live in Halifax, you get blue bag collection and green bin collection every week. If we do the same thing in our area, we get it every two weeks. So that's not the same service, that's absolutely not the same service. There are all kinds of other things that aren't the same service. We're one municipality, there should be one level of service and you should only pay for the services you get.

Now we have a prime example of this being really abused, on O'Connell Drive in my area, when the province was - thank goodness they saw the wisdom of paving the road from Highway No. 7 up to O'Connell Drive School. The province paid for that, it's a provincial road and it was done. That road was so bad that the road was closed in the springtime one year, cars couldn't get through it, it was being beaten up so bad by the school buses and all the traffic going to the school.

Then, lo and behold, the councillor comes along. The rest of O'Connell Drive is an absolutely perfect gravel road - no potholes in it, never a problem because there's not much traffic and it was well built. The councillor for the area comes along and decides he's going to pave that one, too. There wasn't even a petition, nobody wanted it done.

So that's fine, it was paved. Everybody is mad at it being paved because they didn't want it done; even the developer on the other end of it who was building houses wasn't happy about it. So it got worse. Then the councillor finds a loophole and charges the people on the road who get absolutely no benefit from the upper part of the road, and all little side streets, a rate to pay for the road that was paved. That's something that has got to be fixed in the Municipal Government Act. It's horrible, it's absolutely horrible and that was in cahoots with the last government because they made the decision - okay, we'll do that cost-sharing with that, too. But they all stood back and said, we didn't know anything about that, we didn't know anything about it.

Anyway, the people are still irate about this, and they should be - big bills that they didn't anticipate. People are going to have to get the road paved down the road, they're going to have to pay again for the road to be paved, and the list goes on and on. This is the kind of abuse of authority that is absolutely disgusting to see. It is taking advantage of people who shouldn't be taken advantage of.

We live in a democratic society and it is just deplorable for something like that to happen. The worst of it is the law will let them do it, that makes it even worse. And then there was a refusal to change the law to stop it again. What I understand now, in talking to some of my newly-elected colleagues who were on the regional council, I guess it's going on all over the place now. This is not good.

I know, where my brother lives there are no sidewalks within reasonable walking distance from where he is at, and I mean at least three or four kilometres or further, and he

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is paying for sidewalks. He is paying for sidewalks that don't exist and curbs that don't exist. This has to change.

I believe you should be paying for services you receive and nothing else and you should be paying uniformly across the whole municipality for the service you get. If you get streetlights, you pay for streetlights; if you don't get streetlights, you don't pay. Even in some rural areas you don't even get garbage pickup because your little road may be not wide enough to turn the truck in and you don't even get garbage collection but they're still paying for garbage collection. (Interruption)

There is no sewer in a lot of areas. This harbour clean-up, that's a joke, that's a real joke. Anyway, some day I'll talk about that in great detail.

These are the sorts of things that are really making it difficult for us. I've got roads that still need to be repaved and repaired in my riding. I've got one in particular that is in really deplorable condition, Brooks Drive in East Preston, in a Black community that has been there for 200-some years and it has been ignored, absolutely ignored. I've written to the minister, written to the new minister, too, so hopefully he'll listen to the letters and to the people in the community and hopefully see the wisdom in all that money they're going to spend now in the budget on secondary roads and stuff and hopefully we'll get this road repaired - actually repaved. It's not a big, expensive project again either. We're not talking about millions of dollars, not even $1 million to fix it, even way less than that.

It's all these things that go together to make a community special to live in and a fair place to live. We've got to have people working. If we don't have people working, our economy is going to go to pieces, it is. As our population gets older, fewer and fewer people are going to be working. A lot of the training and things that have gone on in the past, it's changed. Jobs have changed so we really need a really good education system.

There are some issues in my community with education, even at the P -12 areas, that have to be addressed or I am trying to get them addressed, but it seems very, very difficult and I intend to discuss this in more detail with the new Minister of Education and see if something can be done there to help these young people and help the community prosper through education.

There are so many things that I could talk about in our community, and things we need to really look at to help our communities and to help the whole province, because if my community is strong, the province is strong - and if the province is strong, it makes my community strong. So it all goes together. It works together, and a lot of people miss that. A lot of political decisions are made to do something here or there that doesn't real help the whole province - it helps that little community but it doesn't help the province. And if you don't help the province, then you don't help all the other communities. Sometime these

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things can be easily changed and maybe that facility is located there still but there is something that's different about it that does help the province.

So as we go on, I'll be interested in seeing how this new budget unfolds, and the following budget. That's really the test for this government to see how things are. When I was first elected in 1993, we were basically bankrupt in the Province of Nova Scotia and that was a very tough time to be in government, take it from me.

My colleagues in government over here now, you may be in for quite a shock in the next few years - I hope that indeed you're not. I hope that the economy does grow and it's good for Nova Scotians because it is very difficult to make decisions that affect people's lives long term and in a negative way. When tough decisions have to be made, they have to be made. We cannot afford any more debt. Our province's debt service charges are going right through the roof now and we have many, many issues. We have the unfunded liability, that almost a year ago now was around $3 billion, that the province is going to have to tackle in the pension funds and many, many other things that aren't really reflected in this budget that I can see so far, and that's going to have a negative impact on all Nova Scotians. As we move forward, there are going to be many serious challenges here for the people in government and the rest of this House as politicians.

One thing that we need to do as politicians is if the government does something good, we need to tell them that they did something good - if they do something bad, then we need to tell them that too. But we have to represent our communities and look after Nova Scotians, because Nova Scotia is always left behind - we're always left behind. When this place first started 250 years ago, this was the hub of the economy in Canada, right here. Even though we weren't Canada at that time we were the hub of the economy, and that's all changed. At that time, it wasn't really a good place to live in Nova Scotia if you were an Acadian or if you were Black - it was a bad place for you to live because you were probably in some kind of danger from the people who ran the whole operation here. Thank goodness that has all changed and those rich cultures have really come together to make our community a lot better place to live and a lot safer.

So, with those few words, again it is a privilege to be re-elected. I'm the only individual so far who has been elected to the Preston riding more than once, and that's an honour for me for the people to have that confidence in me to work with them and be their representative. It's a pleasure to work there and it couldn't be in a better community. I truly love the job and the people I represent. Thank you. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants West.

MR. CHUCK PORTER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, and it is an honour to rise today in my place and have, by looking at the clock, a very few minutes to speak, but I'm sure I'll get opportunities throughout the coming weeks.

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I want to start by congratulating all the members who have been elected and re-elected. It's quite an honour to be a member in this House, and I know that time flies, the years go by quickly here. I can tell you that it seems like yesterday it was 2006 - and I'm sure some of the old folks who have been around here, like the member for Timberlea-Prospect was here when the building was opened. (Interruptions) I appreciate him very much and his knowledge and experience as well. We've learned a lot together here over the years. In my last three years, I've learned a lot from the members who have been around for quite a few years, not only that fine member over there but other fine members as well. So congratulations to each and every one of you in this House elected to represent the people of your constituencies.

[5:45 p.m.]

I also want to take the time to thank the folks who voted for me and supported me and have given me the opportunity to return to this historical Chamber and represent them for what will likely be a few more years ahead as we go forward now. (Interruption) Keith and I are leading the way. Anyhow, there are a lot of people that make that happen, as we all know. We have a lot of volunteers, campaign workers and so on. It was quite something this time around to have a great team again. I had a great team in 2006 and I certainly had a great team in 2009. It was amazing to see well over 100 volunteers come out to work on a campaign. That's a great thing and it's an honour to be here representing the folks.

My campaign manager, Sherri Smith, was new this time with us and did a phenomenal job at arranging and getting things done, as did many, many other people and I would certainly be remiss if I did not mention my family who put in numerous hours - my wife, my kids all very well growing up in the last few years in this place and around it and learning a lot. I know the NDP members might appreciate this and I'll just share it with you. My 10-year-old daughter was out the last Saturday before election day and we were campaigning down the shore where the NDP candidate, Barb Gallagher, lived. Little did she know that my daughter and my campaign manager knocked on their door. Her husband comes to the door, my daughter spent 15 minutes trying to convince Mr. Gallagher why he should vote for Chuck Porter.

It was an interesting time for young people in my campaign, including my young family, and older folks in my campaign. It takes a lot of people to make that happen and I know that's the case with every member, every candidate as they work through that process. Indeed it is an honour to be back here and representing the fine people of Hants West and I look forward to the years ahead and doing that.

I have a number of things that I want to talk about and I'm going to jump around somewhat, but with just a few minutes, I want to go to Continuing Care Month. September is Continuing Care Month and there are a lot of people to thank. Our nursing homes, our

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hospitals, all of the staff that work there, from the cleaners to the doctors, nurses, CCAs, CAs - there are a lot of different staff that make those places what they are when it comes to looking after residents in the nursing homes, patients in the hospitals.

I'm fortunate, I have a hospital in Windsor , one of the communities that I represent and we're fortunate we have not had any ER closures. I want to talk a little bit about that and why. One of the reasons we have not had ER closures, we've had doctors who will come from different places, from the Valley and the city, Eastern Shore and around to work a shift here and there. But, we've had three doctors there that have been there for many years - Catherine Smith, Bill Enright and Mark Kazimirski . Those doctors have committed and said, I'll work Saturday night because I won't see the place closed- the people of Windsor-West Hants don't deserve to have the place closed. It's that commitment, and those people need to know that commitment does not go unnoticed.

I know that doesn't happen in every community and I'm sure there are many that wish it did. There are a lot of hospitals that experience closures and that's a very, very difficult thing when someone comes to the door and the door is closed. Even if there are nurses and paramedics and so on there, people still have a comfort level with a physician even though those people that are there are very qualified to look after their needs, move them onto the necessary facilities for further care, it's still not the same.

We have been very fortunate at the Hants Community Hospital not to go through that and I hope that continues through the years ahead - it's difficult times. I know that we've announced a position with Dr. Ross who I have had the pleasure of knowing for many years as a paramedic and what he's done for our industry out there in Emergency Health Services.

I look forward to what his plan may be. I'm hopeful it's not going to take a year to start seeing some progress. I know that promises were made during the election campaign and prior to that members stood in this House and went on about the plans they had and the solutions and felt that there was a solution. I think in all honesty, as I told people along the way when they asked about different things, you know what, if that were that easy, it would have just been done. But it's not easy. I know the members that have been over there for awhile know that it's not easy and it's not going to be an easy road.

It's going to be a long road. It won't be a quick fix. It's not overnight and we know that. Nova Scotians need to know that. I do hope the members opposite, in government, will be honest and up-front as they've said they will be when it comes to telling the story of how we're going to fix the emergency rooms in this province. It's going to be a long road. If the doctors were there, they'd be there. They're not. It's difficult to get doctors in Shelburne, in Digby, in various places.

I know that physicians sometimes just don't want to go there, especially young graduating doctors. They want to be in the HRM, they want to be in bigger centres, where

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all the equipment is and all the toys to play with and to learn by, which is a great thing. They need that experience. Some people think, pay them more. It's not all about the money - talk to some of the doctors out there. You can't buy a doctor in every case to go everywhere. We need to work on a plan. I know that the previous government had worked in areas and put plans in place that did work; in the northern region of this province, there were things that were resolved.

Mr. Speaker, for many years now something that has been, in my opinion, a failure in the system, and it will go right back to the emergency room, and that is the single-entry system. It doesn't matter to me who put it in, when it went in or how it went in, it doesn't work. I know, I have three nursing homes in Windsor, I have Windsor Elms, I have Dykeland Lodge and I have Haliburton Place, which is a wing of the hospital that was created. We're very fortunate to have all three. There's a problem though. I know for a fact that there are many, many days throughout the month when there are beds in those facilities, whether they be a respite bed or a full-time bed, that are not filled but yet I can go over to Unit 500 of the Hants Community Hospital any day and I can pick out 11 or 12 patients waiting for long-term care. How come? Why are those delays there? It's the single entry system, it does not work.

When I started as a paramedic in 1989-90, the doctor would pick up the phone. Mr. Jones was in the hospital and he needed - and the family decided, you know what, my grandfather, my father, my mother, whomever needed - long-term care, the doctor would pick up the phone and he would call over to Dykeland Lodge, or her, and they would say to the administrator, I have Mr. Jones here. Mr. Jones is looking for long-term care. He has reached a point in his life where we need to get him into a nursing home - what do you have available? Well, I have two beds available or I have a bed available, or I'll have a bed available tomorrow, bring him right over. It was done. There were no tie-ups, there was no Unit 500, there were no holding units, it was done. That worked very well.

How we got to the single entry system I'm not sure but I can tell you it doesn't work. It might seem like a great thing. It might seem like there's a great cost saving but it doesn't work. There's no cost saving. I forget the figures put around right off the top of my head what it costs to be in hospital today - $800 or $1,000, something like that. I see the honourable member over there shaking his head and I'm not sure but it is expensive. We heard a figure of around the $800 mark a day to keep someone in hospital when at the same time we've got a bed vacant at Dykeland Lodge or the Windsor Elms or Haliburton. I don't understand how come it's so complicated but I do hope that this government will look at that system and they'll say, do you know what, maybe we should look at that system. Maybe there's a better way. They had all the answers when they were over here. I hope they carried them over there and now they're going to take the time to look at them and with any luck implement, maybe, maybe.

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Look at the cost saving. The God-almighty dollar is not always the answer. We listen to good people in our departments, don't get me wrong, I think there are great folks working in all the departments - Finance, Health, et cetera - but if they've never experienced it and they don't understand it, it may be an issue. Go out, learn, take the time to look at it because there are better ways. Going back isn't always a bad thing. For some reason we seem to think that it is, maybe, maybe it isn't. If it works, why change it? It's not working today I can assure you that, not even close to working and it's not going to work. I know that from experience, from seeing it, and I know the families are happy to have them in places like Unit 500 because they're being looked after, or they're home looking after them and it's hard, it really is, it's difficult. A lot of us have probably experienced that same thing. I know I have and I know others in this House have. However, it can be fixed and I do hope the time is taken to review that.

There are a lot of other things I want to talk about. Long-term care is, just like I said, one of those things and again I want to thank all the people who work in both long-term care and our hospitals around the province and certainly in my area and help get the job done because it really means a lot to the families. Most people probably wouldn't realize how much it means, you know, that the room is clean; that cleaner, they don't think about those people who are further down but that's important. We've seen that dragged through the news about issues with cleaning in our provincial hospitals. We would like to think that every aspect, and I know it is, I know those people work hard and they all work solely for those residents.

The residents are important, too, and we've got a lot of people outside the norm. We've got people, like Ben Robinson, who are doing a music therapy program. We have ministers who come in who are not necessarily funded and I'm sure the member opposite can appreciate that, having probably gone into a number of those types of homes. You know, a United minister, I must say I'm a member of the United Church in Windsor and it's too bad you're on that side, maybe I could say that. However, it is good to have you in the House, there's no question, and congratulations to you for being elected and following a gentleman who spent many years looking after the constituents there in a great way.

Mr. Speaker, I know my time is probably drawing to a close today, so I will adjourn debate with hopefully the opportunity to pick it up again at a future time.

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you. The motion before the House is to adjourn the debate and return to this debate on a future day. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

The honourable Government House Leader.

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HON. FRANK CORBETT: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, and I want to thank all the interveners this afternoon for their very thoughtful and reflective speeches.

Mr. Speaker, I move that the House do now rise to meet at the hours of 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. tomorrow where the government, after usual business, will be calling reply to the budget speech and, if time permits, more Address in Reply to the Speech from the Throne. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion before the House is for the House to rise and meet again tomorrow at 10:00 a.m.

Is the House ready for the question? Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

The House stands adjourned until 10:00 a.m. tomorrow.

We have now arrived at the moment of interruption. The adjournment debate has been chosen, was announced earlier, and was won by the honourable member for Victoria-The Lakes, who will debate the following:

"Therefore be it resolved that since the Capital District Health Authority is hiring a company to reprocess medical equipment previously designed for one use, the Minister of Health immediately review this file and put an end to such a practice that could affect the health of hundreds of Nova Scotians."



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants West.


MR. CHUCK PORTER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, it's an honour to rise this evening and speak on this very important issue. This is a difficult issue for me, I think with my history, and I'll just - a little preamble - I've been a paramedic, worked in the health care industry for many years. I started my career with Arsenault's Ambulance in Windsor, transferred to Sackville, worked many years out of Sackville-Bedford, and then fortunately EHS/EMC came along. Life got a little better as paramedics' wages were better, living and working conditions were better, vehicles were better, and all of those kinds of things. That meant a great deal to health care workers in the streets who were front-line workers, for lack

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of a better term - first in on all of these occasions and any number of types of calls. I'm sure you can just imagine.

One thing I can't get my head around is this reuse of medical equipment. It doesn't matter what it is. We would never have dreamed of taking a needle, a catheter - an oxygen mask, for that matter - and sterilizing it and reusing it. It's just something that wouldn't be done. I cannot understand - they're talking about it being a cost-saving measure. To me, I ask, is there a price tag now being put on the lives of Nova Scotians? The question has been asked, will Nova Scotians know? If I go to the hospital and I'm going to undergo some kind of procedure, will I know that used medical equipment will be used on myself? Will I have an option? Is the cost different for me because it's going to be half-price used equipment? I'm not sure. I think it's a valid question, though.

I know a number of years ago, when I first got in the health care industry at our local hospital, Hants Community, there was a unit there - I think it was called CSR - and it was a sterilizing-type unit. They took the trays and I think the hardware - I'll call the knives, et cetera, for cutting and doing certain procedures - and those were sterilized in machines, and perhaps that worked well and perhaps you can sterilize certain equipment, I'm not sure. They did it for a number of years, and I would tend to believe that it probably worked quite well.

But this seems to be something a little different. This seems to be catheters, and things like that, that are made for single use - they're known as single-use equipment, much like the oxygen mask - it's a single-use piece of equipment. How could we possibly take something that is a single-use piece and use it on another human being? I'm not sure. Is there some kind of security in all of that? Maybe there is. I'm hesitant to think that they're going to use it on me if I'm going in there, and I do hope that there is a choice for me if I'm going in there.

There are a number of cases - and I have some statistics here that I want to look at. What about the transfer and the cross-contamination? We concern ourselves today - H1N1 was a great big thing, and now it's a Level 6, or whatever it is, across the world. Yet the common flu takes more lives in the run of a year in Canada than anything like this. They recommend good hand washing, et cetera and so on, and sterile procedures like that. It appears to be a safe method, obviously somebody has studied it. We listened to the experts in the Department of Health who I believe are very wise; the doctors we've had before us and I've met outside of this Legislature and so on and at other forums, all very knowledgeable.

[6:00 p.m.]

It seems it's less of a deal- and I don't want to think that it's any less of an issue - but they play it down as less of a deal when it comes to the common cold and the flu. Well, that's fine, but again, you're washing your hands and you're doing your thing, you're not stabbing people with catheters and needles and reuse of equipment. That's concerning to a lot of

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people. I know I've already had a couple of calls on this, people thinking, with my history and my previous work life, what do you think of this stuff. I say, well, there's a lot we don't know yet but we're certainly going to be very interested to find out.

This cross-contamination and infection spreads rapidly through fluids - bloods and so on. It's going to be interesting to figure out, when we look at this - it appears to me to be all about the money. Well, I do hope that the new government is not thinking, well, let's save a few dollars here and a few dollars here. What's a little bit of re-sterilized, reusable equipment? What's it worth? Is $150,000 - when I look at my example: ultrasound catheters, $5,000, number of years, 60, cost, $300,000. They're saying the reprocessing fee is somewhere in the vicinity of $150,000 so about 50 per cent of the price.

Where's the break? Is $150,000 worth one life? Are we going to up our liability insurance just because we think oh well, we might get sued over an issue? Well, I think we're open to being sued any day in a hospital - procedures and things go on. Thankfully, we're not - I don't think - sued a whole lot. I think that our doctors, our nurses and our health care professionals are indeed that, professional, and do a wonderful job looking after each and every one of us, but it opens the door. This is going down a road of great concern.

We see cases in the U.S., questions are being raised about the integrity of what it is we're doing, the ethics of professionals and doctors and so on, administrators who are authorizing this sort of thing. Again, I don't think that - unless we have some more information on this, it's going to be a difficult thing to swallow, I guess, for lack of a better word. I know there are catheters out there like that that are used for the swallowing device, so no pun intended.

We really have to be cognizant of the fact that those who are already ill and going into a hospital, those who have certain problems already, medical issues that are open and acceptable to the slightest thing - are they are risk? Is there a risk? Perhaps there is, perhaps there isn't, but we don't know.

You can read what you want in the paper, and I'm not one who says I believe everything in the paper, everything the media prints, I'm not. I don't go with that but I'm looking for the facts on it and I'm hoping that the minister will enlighten us, or somebody is going to enlighten us on what the Department of Health is doing with it. I look forward to hearing her comments. I'm wondering - I talked about the insurance being raised, what about the legalities? Are we hiring a lawyer to assess the situation? Has it already been done? What is the cost of doing that? Where is the real saving or is there a saving?

I know that in health care the budget is phenomenal, I appreciate it very much but, at the same time, we can't be cutting corners a little bit here and a little bit there, over putting patients' lives in jeopardy. So I look forward to hearing others' comments on this debate, Mr. Speaker, and with that I'll take my seat.

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MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Health.

HON. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker, I'm really pleased to have an opportunity this evening to stand in my place and speak to the issue that has been brought forward by the Progressive Conservative Party. I agree with the honourable member in terms of the concerns he has expressed about patient safety and the need to proceed carefully, to have a full airing of this issue, public discussion and a lot of transparency and information. I think those are all very valid concerns and I recognize that his profession as a paramedic for many years informs a lot of his views and the things that he has said here this evening.

Mr. Speaker, the topic has come about here this evening, I believe, as the result of Capital Health issuing a request for proposals for the reprocessing of single-use medical devices by providers who are accredited by the Food and Drug Administration in the United States. Capital Health has not committed to pursuing this plan but is, in fact, investigating this possibility. By issuing the tender, Capital Health will gather information about the types of items reprocessors are prepared to handle, their methods of sterilization and remanufacturing and the potential cost savings.

Capital Health has consulted with staff in the Department of Health and the information gathered through the RFP process will be shared with the department. This is not new, Mr. Speaker. Reprocessing has been happening in the United States for many years but until recently there were no providers that had undergone that sort of rigorous certification that would reassure us of the quality and safety of this process.

Mr. Speaker, in January 2009, the Capital District Health Authority asked about the Department of Health's policy on third-party reprocessing. Nova Scotia and other provinces and territories have worked with Health Canada to develop guidelines on third-party reprocessing. The national position has not been finalized and in its absence, Health Canada's guidance on single-use devices has been adopted. This is a guideline that's been around for awhile. Reusing items within the guidelines has been established as a best or good practice. Above all, it allows us to deliver health care safety without compromising the already delicate health of hospital patients. It also reduces medical waste, which not only takes up space in landfills but can also be biohazardous. So it must be disposed of very carefully.

Also, Mr. Speaker, it is true, it also means that there are some cost savings. Disposing of medical waste is expensive. So is replacing supplies that could be cleaned and reused under appropriate guidelines. Reusing medical devices, therefore, is something that's worthy of exploration. It isn't an invention of the Nova Scotia Department of Health and Capital District Health Authority. Reusing medical devices is well researched and accepted and is practice with strict parameters and is done in many jurisdictions across this country. In fact,

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a previous Minister of Health was at the table where the Pan-Canadian position statement on the reuse of single-use of medical devices and third-party reprocessing was being developed.

Capital Health is Nova Scotia's largest acute care provider and as such they do a high volume of surgeries each year, Mr. Speaker, and as we move more to the use of minimally invasive surgical techniques like laproscopic surgery, which are shown to improve patient outcomes, we find that we use more and more single-use items and face greater increased costs per case and the environmental issues that occur as well.

The Department of Health takes patient safety very seriously, Mr. Speaker, as does this government and as does the Capital District Health Authority. I'm confident that any changes in practices made by the district health authority are always reviewed to ensure that they are meeting the highest level of safety based on the facts, based on available science, the research and best practices from across the country and, indeed, internationally.

Nova Scotia has a strong public health system and we are committed to maintaining and improving it. We support our district health authorities who provide excellent care to patients, care we trust at the Department of Health and care all Nova Scotians can trust. They are professionals of the highest order committed to informed practice in all aspects of health care and patient care.

We in the district health authorities, like our counterparts across the country, are working to ensure that current resources are being used as effectively and efficiently as possible. Health care is a large and growing portion of the budget of every province and territory in the country. Reusing medical devices safely, and by following informed practice and agreed upon guidelines, is a small way of reducing costs without affecting patient care.

Mr. Speaker, we will, of course, stay in touch with Capital Health and with all DHAs around this venture. We have good working relations with them and we'll endeavour to support them as we go forward and ensure that the policy guidelines of Health Canada are met. I just want to be absolutely clear because the member I think rightfully asked about certain elements of the scrutiny that will be brought to bear. As always, we have asked the district health authority to demonstrate the safety, the legal and ethical issues that are associated with this practice as well as the budget implications.

I want to emphasize that our focus is not on the fiscal elements here. Our focus is on patient safety and the legal and the ethical issues. Regardless of the budget implications, if those stringent requirements are not met, then this would not be a practice that we would favour. Patient safety has to come first and I can assure all members of this House that Health Canada guidelines will be the parameters and the lens through which any project of this sort will occur.

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

[Page 420]

MS. DIANA WHALEN: Mr. Speaker, it's my pleasure to rise this evening to speak in this late debate on the resolution that's before us. The resolution was submitted by the Third Party caucus, the Tory caucus, and it has two parts to it. It actually asks that the Health Minister immediately review the file and we're talking here about the reprocessing of some medical equipment and devices.

Again, that's a word I wasn't familiar with, Mr. Speaker. Reprocessing simply meaning sterilizing, repackaging, and making sure that the equipment is safe for reuse. That's really what it is, sometimes we have to look at the language that is used. But it asks the minister to look at that and then it also jumps to the conclusion that the minister should put an end to the practice right away, just put an end to it because it might be - it suggests here - detrimental to the health of Nova Scotians.

Mr. Speaker, as I mentioned to you, even as the Health Critic, I was not aware of this practice so I've done a little research as I'm sure the other members of the House who had to speak tonight did. I find that, first of all, the Progressive Conservative caucus has gone a little bit overboard here because this is simply an RFP. It's an opportunity to investigate whether or not this is a safe practice, to learn more, for Capital Health to learn more about whether or not this would indeed be a way to save some money.

Although it is not driven solely by fiscal reality, it is something that's important. We know, and we've said here this evening, the Department of Health absorbs almost half of our budget, and we'll be looking at that more closely in the estimates next week, but it's a growing part of our budget. In the last number of years, it has grown 7 per cent and 8 per cent a year and it will overwhelm our entire provincial budget if we don't look at ways to be more efficient and effective. This is one of those possible ways.

In terms of being alarmed about whether or not there's any patient safety, I was actually quite happy to see that other places have already done some of the testing that we would want to do. This practice is now in place at Toronto General Hospital, McGill University Hospital and at a hospital in Vancouver. One of the companies that is FDA approved, which has met the standards of training and care that could do this work for us, is actually active in those three hospitals in major cities in Canada doing exactly that - reprocessing some of the equipment that is packaged and originally sold as single use.

[6:15 p.m.]

I think there is a tremendous amount of waste in throwing everything out in the hospitals. I know I've spoken to a number of other members today, saying this may have been a few years ago, but my father was a pathologist, worked in a number of different provinces in Canada, in provincial labs. I know, as a child visiting him, they re-sterilized, everything was reused at the time. I understand we've had other diseases that have come up like AIDS and other things that made people very nervous about the chance of reinfection,

[Page 421]

but I do believe there are very safe ways to re-sterilize and reuse equipment. I think we went from reusing everything to reusing nothing.

If you go into hospitals, I think there is a tremendous amount of waste and it would be a good thing to look at being able to reuse some of the materials, some of the different medical devices that are being used on a routine basis. It was mentioned, I think, by the Health Minister, that surgeries have become less invasive and in doing that we use other kinds of catheters and other equipment that they weren't using when they did the more old-fashioned surgeries.

In so doing, that's driven the costs up actually, of surgery, while it's giving a lot better health outcomes to the patients. We'd much rather have a less invasive surgery to remove a gall bladder or something than the old-fashioned way, but there is a greater cost to the system.

Again, I had the opportunity last year when I was not the Health Critic, but was the Finance Critic, of stepping in and attending a press conference that Capital Health held and that was in December when their projection for the year was that they would be in deficit and they couldn't be there. As a result, they were looking at saving everything from Kleenex to toilet paper to everything. They were looking at how they could cut costs and it was just a few thousand dollars here and $2,000 there - it was that small.

On a big scale - in the same press conference - they closed surgeries. They extended the March break period, closing down a number of the surgery rooms so they wouldn't be operating as much. There's a huge cost to doing that as well, Mr. Speaker, in terms of, obviously, the impact on patients who are on waiting lists and having to wait even longer, on the fact that we pay a lot of our doctors now not on a per-operation basis, but on a flat salary basis and therefore you have highly-skilled surgeons who would be waiting until those operating rooms are open again. That's not an efficient way to run our system.

The hospital and the Capital Health District found itself under a lot of pressure. I think this shows that they're looking and keeping their eye on what other jurisdictions are doing, how practices in hospitals are changing. And, as I said a few moments ago, hospitals have gone from a point of time when everything was reused and sterilized to the exact opposite. Practices change and I think that we have to put our confidence in the professionals who are running our hospitals and in the doctors and medical staff who would never be involved in a practice that is going to compromise health.

I say that as somebody knowing the doctors I know and the medical people I know in the system. They will give this close scrutiny. If this is to go forward, I am confident it will have the closest scrutiny of everybody working in the hospital and their confidence would have to be 100 per cent before it goes forward.

[Page 422]

The first part of the resolution we're talking about which says that, yes, the Health Minister should be on top of the file - absolutely, I agree with that. Bringing it to the floor of the House today allows the Health Minister, if she had not been aware of it in the grand scheme of so many things happening in the Health Department, she certainly is on top of it today. I think it is something that requires close scrutiny and no decision should be made once the RFP is closed until the Health Minister has also had a chance to talk to all of the experts within the system.

I have a lot of respect for the people who are administering our health system, including the Capital Health District because they're under tremendous pressure to ensure they give a high standard of care and maintain the safety and highest level of practice for all the citizens here in the Capital Health District and, again, around the province, the minister is responsible for that same level. If this practice is successful in other major hospitals in Canada, I think we should be looking at it, I think that's only prudent and fiscally responsible.

I don't think we should be automatically thinking the sky is falling because practices are changing in our hospitals, we have to be open minded. In the few minutes I have left, maybe you could tell me how many minutes I have?

MR. SPEAKER: Approximately two minutes.

MS. WHALEN: Very good. In those few minutes, I think it's important to mention that the former Health Minister herself, who brought this resolution to the floor of the House, was actually the Health Minister, I believe, at the time this was first looked at in January-February 2009, was when the Capital Health District first began to discuss this - and they didn't do it in isolation. They brought it to the Department of Health. Everyone who needed to know at the Department of Health was aware of that trend and that they were going to investigate it, and it seems a little bit hypocritical, if I could say that, that it would come to the floor of the House today as if the sky were falling and something very dangerous is about to happen when, in fact, it isn't and when, in fact, the very person who brought it to the floor of the House was fully aware of it months ago and had no objection and at a time when she would have been in a position to stop it if she actually did think there was something wrong with it.

I think it's also worth mentioning at the same time that New Brunswick has just done an RFP for the same thing - that's a request for proposals - they're calling for experts in this field to come forward with their proposal on how they might help in the New Brunswick system as well. So this is clearly in place in other hospitals and a trend across Canada. I don't believe that any of our doctors, CEOs of health organizations, would even entertain it if there was a danger to us.

[Page 423]

I think what is important here is the financial stress that the Capital Health District and others are under. I think there is also a call here to ask the minister while they're investigating this that they also get going on the business plans which are not yet accepted. The former government allowed years to go by with no business plans fully approved for the health districts, and this is part and parcel of it, the financial pressures that are on our health districts. In this instance, Mr. Speaker, I think this is just an issue that needs to have the minister keep her finger on the pulse, and watch it and confer with the health professionals. I do not believe that the health of Nova Scotians is in danger. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you. I want to thank all the honourable members for taking part in tonight's late debate.

The motion for adjournment was made earlier.

The House stands adjourned until 10:00 a.m. tomorrow.

[The House rose at 6:22 p.m.]

[Page 424]



By: Mr. David Wilson (Glace Bay)

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

Whereas Allister Matheson of Glace Bay was a recipient of the Nova Scotia Heart and Stroke Foundation's Outstanding Volunteer Award; and

Whereas Allister was recognized for his leadership, motivation, and dedication to the foundation; and

Whereas Allister was presented this prestigious award by the Lieutenant Governor of Nova Scotia, the Honourable Mayann E. Francis and Ian MacDonald, chair of the Heart and Stroke Foundation;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of the House of Assembly recognize Allister Matheson for his hard work and dedication over the last 13 years for the Heart and Stroke Foundation.


By: Mr. David Wilson (Glace Bay)

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

Whereas the Boys Senior Singles bowler from Glace Bay Atlantic Youth Bowling participated in the Canadian National Youth Bowling Championships hosted by Heather Lanes in Sydney; and

Whereas the Boys Senior Singles bowler from Glace Bay won bronze at the Canadian National Championships; and

Whereas Kyle Deveaux represented Glace Bay Atlantic Youth Bowling;

Therefore be it resolved that members of the House of Assembly recognize Kyle Deveaux of Glace Bay Atlantic Youth Bowling for his accomplishment.