DEBATES AND PROCEEDINGS
Speaker: Honourable Kevin Murphy
Published by Order of the Legislature by Hansard Reporting Services and printed by the Queen's Printer.
Available on INTERNET at http://nslegislature.ca/legislative-business/hansard-debates/
THURSDAY, OCTOBER 12, 2017
TABLE OF CONTENTSPAGE
GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 351, Immig.: Citizenship Wk. (Oct. 9-15) - Celebrate,
Vote - Affirmative
Res. 352, H&W: World Sight Day (Oct. 12) - Acknowledge,
Vote - Affirmative
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS:
No. 43, Healthier Schools Act,
No. 44, Mental Health Court Expansion Act,
STATEMENTS BY MEMBERS:
Swantee, Lola & Chester/Elliott, Laura: Veterans' Lunch - Thank,
Brousseau, Dean: Photography Show - Congrats.,
Giansante-Mercer, Carmie - Sled Hockey: E. Hants
Bartown Days - Northside Burger Contest: Participants - Thank,
Sexual Assault/Women's Ctrs.: Trauma Serv. - Recognize,
Neonakis, Dimitri: Dream Wings Charity - Recognize,
Intl. Day of the Girl: EmPOWER Girls - Work,
Tourism (N.S.): Increased Numbers - Impressive,
DeCoste, Rebecca - Crohn's & Colitis Gutsy Walk: Hon. Chair
N.S. Tourism: Successful Season - Acknowledge,
Mombourquette, Grace/Daniel: St. Lawrence Youth Prog
Aquash, Anna Mae: Women's History Month - Recognize,
Pelley: Tonya/Faith - Name That Robot Contest: Winner - Congrats.,
Power, Alice - Friends of Pugwash Estuary: Commit. - Recognize,
Narratives in Space + Time Soc.: Commun. Contributions - Thank,
Intl. Day of the Girl: Empowerment - Recommit,
Ferguson, Nadine: Blankets for Baby Rhinos - Thank,
Prospect Peninsula Res. Assoc.: Pinedale Park - Congrats.,
Cape Breton Tourism: Local Operators/Staff - Thank,
Wilson, Ernie: Commun. Commitment - Thank,
Women's Hist. Month: Role Models - Recognize,
Village Historique - Canada 150: Métis Celebration - Success,
Humphreys, Max/Coverdale, Lewis/Mettera, Kassidy: Joey Awards
Schmidt, Leanne (Leo): Violet Unicorn Store - Recognize,
N.S. Tourism (2017): South Shore Increase - Celebrate,
McBurnie, Austin: HS Golf Achievements - Congrats.,
N.S. Hockey Vols.: Commitment - Recognize,
Queens-Shelburne: Vol. Firefighters - Recognize,
Haliblitz 2017: Organizers/Vols. - Thank,
Big Brothers Big Sisters (Pictou Co.): Commit. - Acknowledge,
Schofield, Justin: Fast Pitch Success - Congrats.,
Amherst Armouries: Importance - Acknowledge,
N.S. 55+ Games (Lunenburg Co.): Participants/Vols. - Acknowledge,
Campbell, Logan/Olsen, Trent: Glider Wings - Congrats.,
Reid, Jeff: Largest Pumpkin Title - Congrats.,
Port Morien Legion (Br. 55): Anniv. (80th) - Congrats.,
Watson, David: 2018 Cdn. Softball Team Select - Congrats.,
Bear River Village - Cherry Festival: Organizers - Thank,
Fire Prev. Wk.: Vol. Firefighters - Thank,
Burke: Shanna/Kendra/Kaitlin: Commun. Contributions - Thank,
Jones, El: Human Rights Contributions - Thank,
Shaw, Cameron Ewan Bayne/Timmons, Justin Garret
C.B. Reg. Fire Serv. - Recognize/Thank,
Pickard, Maggie: Achievements - Best Wishes,
Tuttle, Marni - Windsor Jct. Comm. Ctr.: Vol. of the Yr. - Congrats.,
N.S. Culture Action Plan: Innovation Fund - Fall Launch,
Welsh, Matthew: Hockey Accomplishments - Recognize,
Batherson, Drake: Hockey Achievements - Congrats.,
Bridgewater Transit Serv.: Pilot Proj. - Advocates Recognize,
MacDonald, Catharine: Teaching Excellence - Recognize,
ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS TO MINISTERS:
No. 188, Prem. - Cap & Trade Plan: Gas/Home Heating Fuel
No. 189, Prem. - Campaign Dir.: Gov't. Members - Lobby,
No. 190, EECD - In-School Video Cameras: Privacy Laws
No. 191, Prem.: Collective Bargaining - Importance,
No. 192, Energy: Cap & Trade Plan - N.S. Power Exemption,
No. 193, Abor. Affs.: N.S. Métis Concerns - Assist,
No. 194, H&W - Doctors N.S.: Physician Representation - Acknowledge,
No. 195, EECD - Educ. System Admin. Review: Timeline - Explain,
No. 196, H&W - Specialized Baby Formula: Min. - Assist,
No. 197, H&W - 811 Patient Lists: Application Process - Explain,
No. 198, H&W - MS Treatment: Travel - Min. Clarify,
No. 199, H&W - First Responders: In-Patient PTSD Prog. - Update,
No. 200, TIR - Hwy. 104 West. Alignment Corp.: Report - Timeline,
No. 201, TIR: Hwy. No. 101 Bridge - Repair,
No. 202, SNS - Driver's Licences: Ontario Firm - Explain,
No. 203, Bus. - Cannabis Legalization: Economic Impact -
ON MOTION FOR SUPPLY:
HOUSE RESOLVED INTO CW ON SUPPLY AT 3:05 P.M
HOUSE RECONVENED AT 7:15 P.M
PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING:
No. 29, Marine Renewable-energy Act
Vote - Affirmative
No. 27, Intimate Images and Cyber-protection Act
Vote - Affirmative
No. 33, Gas Distribution Act
Vote - Affirmative
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Fri., Oct. 13th at 9:00 a.m
NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3):
Res. 353, Tingley, Paul - Sailing Career: Success - Congrats.,
HALIFAX, THURSDAY, OCTOBER 12, 2017
Sixty-third General Assembly
Hon. Kevin Murphy
Mr. Chuck Porter, Ms. Suzanne Lohnes-Croft
PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS
PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES
TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS
STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS
GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION
RESOLUTION NO. 351
Whereas October 9th to October 15th is Citizenship Week, a time to celebrate our citizenship and our country; and
Whereas each year in October we take a week to reflect on and celebrate the rights and responsibilities all Canadian citizens share; and
Whereas this morning I had the opportunity to attend a special citizenship ceremony where 45 candidates from 20 different countries took the Oath of Citizenship and became Canadian citizens;
Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House join me in celebrating Citizenship Week by congratulating all our new citizens, and encourage all Canadians to attend a citizenship ceremony or organize a reaffirmation ceremony in their communities.
Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice and passage without debate.
Is it agreed?
It is agreed.
Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.
The motion is carried.
The honourable Minister of Health and Wellness.
RESOLUTION NO. 352
Whereas approximately 285 million people worldwide live with low vision and blindness, even though 80 per cent of visual impairment is avoidable; and
Whereas with an aging population more Nova Scotians will be at risk of age-related visual impairment; and
Whereas the second Thursday of October is World Sight Day, providing an opportunity to focus global attention on blindness and vision impairment;
Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House acknowledge October 12, 2017, as World Sight Day and encourage all Nova Scotians to join the conversation on social media with the hash tag, #MakeVisionCount.
Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice and passage without debate.
Is it agreed?
It is agreed.
Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.
The motion is carried.
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS
Bill No. 43 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 1 of the Acts of 1995-96. The Education Act, Respecting the Improvement of Mental Health in Adolescents. (Hon. Jamie Baillie)
Bill No. 44 - Entitled an Act to Require the Expansion of the Mental Health Court Program. (Mr. John Lohr)
NOTICES OF MOTION
STATEMENTS BY MEMBERS
SWANTEE, LOLA & CHESTER/ELLIOTT, LAURA:
VETERANS' LUNCH - THANK
Recently, Lola and Chester opened up their beautiful home to host a luncheon for five residents of the Northumberland Veterans Unit in Pictou. They served the residents a home-cooked meal and dessert, which is a very rare treat for these veterans. The veterans were flattered to receive the invitation and extremely appreciative of Lola and Chester's generosity. This demonstrates what community spirit is all about.
At this time, I would like to extend a heartfelt thank you to Laura, Lola, and Chester for bringing some sunshine into these veterans' day. Thank you.
BROUSSEAU, DEAN: PHOTOGRAPHY SHOW - CONGRATS.
MR. GARY BURRILL « » : I'm pleased today to recognize Halifax resident Dean Brousseau on his photography show, Thirteen Points of Departure, which opened last week at the Secord Gallery on Quinpool Road. The exhibition is part of the city-wide Photopolis Photography Show.
Mr. Brousseau's exhibit returns us to a time before photographers had access to design software, when all effects had to be created physically in front of the camera through light and shadow.
I welcome the House to join me in congratulating Mr. Brousseau on this remarkable achievement, and encourage everyone to stop by the Secord Gallery to take in the show before it comes down October 26th. Thank you.
GIANSANTE-MERCER, CARMIE - SLED HOCKEY:
E. HANTS COMM. SKATE - THANK
HON. MARGARET MILLER « » : Mr. Speaker, sled hockey was first developed in Norway in 1971 to meet the special needs of youths and adults with disabilities. Players are strapped into small sleds which have a backrest and two skate blades on the bottom. Straps around the ankles, knees, and waist securely hold the players on the sled.
On April 9, 2017, Carmie Giansante-Mercer, owner of Carmie's Preschool and Daycare in Elmsdale, had a free community skate in the East Hants Sportsplex and raised an amazing $1,140 to purchase a hockey sled. Up until recently, Hants East children and adults with special needs who wanted to participate in ice sports had to go to Truro do so. But thanks to more than 100 people who showed up for the skate and those who donated since then, enough money was raised for two sleds.
I would like to thank Carmie, her staff, and all the wonderful people of Hants East who came together to make the Sportsplex a better place for those with disabilities. Thank you.
BARTOWN DAYS - NORTHSIDE BURGER CONTEST:
PARTICIPANTS - THANK
This year, the event dramatically increased its business over a two-week period every summer. Twelve restaurants participated in the contest and the winner was the Commercial Street Deli, owned and operated by James Donato and Amanda Sheffield. Their creation was the Bacon Jalapeño Burger.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank all participants and the friendly competition that it inspired. Everyone is looking forward to next year's creations.
SEXUAL ASSAULT/WOMEN'S CTRS.: TRAUMA SERV. - RECOGNIZE
HON. DAVID WILSON « » : Mr. Speaker, yesterday, my fellow members spoke about notable women in Nova Scotia history, as well as institutions that have advanced the status of women in our province. To build on this, I would like to bring attention to a set of institutions that have played a vital role in supporting women and survivors of violence.
The first sexual assault centre in our province was established in 1983. Since then, Avalon Sexual Assault Centre has evolved to offer a wide range of services to those who have experienced sexualized violence, as well as extensive community education and advocacy. Outside the HRM, there are sexual assault centres in Antigonish and Colchester Counties, and more organizations are developing their capacity to offer needed services to survivors. It was sexual assault centres, along with women's centres, that introduced the Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner, or the SANE program, as well as specialized trauma therapy services
Mr. Speaker, over the past generation, sexual assault centres have made an incredible difference in the lives of women, men, and transpersons, and should be celebrated as part of our province's history.
NEONAKIS, DIMITRI: DREAM WINGS CHARITY - RECOGNIZE
HON. LABI KOUSOULIS « » : I would like to highlight a great charity, and a great man. Dimitri Neonakis created Dream Wings, a charity that gives children who are in medical, mental or emotional distress, a chance to fly in a variety of different planes. I urge everyone to go to Facebook and search for Dream Wings, where Dimitri posts the stories of each child along with uplifting photos of the experience. I would ask the members of this House of Assembly to please join me in thanking Dimitri for his dedication and great work.
INTL. DAY OF THE GIRL: EMPOWER GIRLS - WORK
MS. LENORE ZANN « » : Yesterday, as I and other members noted, it was International Day of the Girl. I'd like to add to yesterday's statements by drawing attention to the UN's theme, which is, "EmPOWER girls: before, during, and after conflict."
According to the UN, every ten minutes, somewhere in the world, an adolescent girl dies as a result of violence. In humanitarian emergencies, gender-based violence often increases, subjecting girls to sexual, and physical violence, child marriage, exploitation, and trafficking. Adolescent girls in conflict zones are 90 per cent more likely to be out of school, compromising their future prospects for work, and financial independence as adults.
In Canada, it could be said, we have our own humanitarian emergency: the alarming rates of poverty and violence affecting indigenous people as a result of colonization. Indigenous girls in particular are at a disproportionately high risk of being targeted for violence, and exploitation. I'd like to acknowledge the hard work that lies ahead for our province and our country if we want girls to one day experience full equality.
TOURISM (N.S.): INCREASED NUMBERS - IMPRESSIVE
MR. GORDON WILSON « » : Today, I rise to talk about the impressive tourism numbers that were released for the month of August, today. Overnight visitations for non-residents were up 9 per cent compared to last year. There's more good news - licensed rooms sold for the Bay of Fundy, and Annapolis Valley, were up 9 per cent since 2016. The year to date, August 2017, estimated tourism revenue is $1.8 billion. This is up from $1.6 billion in 2016.
Tourists coming to the shores mean extra dollars for the hard-working small businesses in my riding of Clare-Digby. I can't say enough about what good news this is, for both Clare-Digby, and the province. I'm proud to call Nova Scotia home, and to be able to share this wonderful province, and especially the Fundy Shore, with the people visiting from other provinces, and from around the world.
DECOSTE, REBECCA - CROHN'S & COLITIS GUTSY WALK:
HON. CHAIR - CONGRATS.
MR. TIM HOUSTON « » : In true Pictou County spirit, nearly 100 people gathered to take part in the Gutsy Walk, and raised more than $12,000 for Crohn's and Colitis Canada. The walkers ranged in age from pre-teen, to very senior citizens, with all funds going towards initiatives such as research, study, to identify triggers for Crohn's disease. The goal of the charity is to find cures, as well as to improve the lives of those affected by this debilitating disease that disrupts the ability to digest food, and absorb nutrition.
Rebecca DeCoste turned 13 on the day of the walk, and was this year's honorary chair. She personally raised more than $1,200. Congratulations to Rebecca.
N.S. TOURISM: SUCCESSFUL SEASON - ACKNOWLEDGE
MR. CHUCK PORTER « » : I rise today to talk about the province's successful tourism season, and the record-breaking numbers of visitors our province saw. I'm pleased to tell you that Nova Scotia welcomed 46,000 more non-resident, overnight visitors in August 2017, than in August 2016, an increase of 11 per cent. Our province saw strong growth in visitation from our target Canadian markets, Ontario, and Quebec. Those provinces contributed 18,000 and 12,000 visitors, respectively.
There are many factors that contributed to the successful tourism season. Our booming cruise-ship industry, which brought a record number of passengers to the port of Halifax, is a testament to Nova Scotia's tourism attractions, the value of the dollar, and the price of gas. Visitation has also increased: by road, 8 per cent; and by air, 11 per cent.
The tourism sector is important to Nova Scotia's economy, and I applaud the hard work of tourism operators for making 2017 a record year.
ST. LAWRENCE YOUTH PROG. - ADVENTURE
MS. ALANA PAON « » : St. Peter's hosted a Tall Ship event this summer at the St. Peter's Canal. For two youths from the community of L'Ardoise volunteering that weekend, the experience turned into the adventure of a lifetime. Grace Mombourquette, 14, learned about the St. Lawrence Youth Program, which had openings for the next course leaving the very next day. Over the next two weeks, Grace sailed from St. Peter's to Lunenburg, Digby, and Saint John as part of the Tall Ships festivities. Grace's 13-year-old brother, Daniel Mombourquette, joined the crew for the next two-week sailing course along the Eastern Seaboard of the United States. They both thoroughly enjoyed the experience. They met new friends, learned so much about sailing, and returned home with the confidence of knowing anything is possible and that great opportunities can come from our small Nova Scotia communities.
AQUASH, ANNA MAE: WOMEN'S HISTORY MONTH - RECOGNIZE
MS. LENORE ZANN « » : For Women's History Month, I would like to recognize yet another courageous woman whose story is part of our province's history. Anna Mae Aquash was a Mi'kmaq woman from Indian Brook First Nation, the daughter of Mary Ellen Pictou and Francis Thomas Levi. In the 1960s, she moved to Boston and joined the American Indian Movement, helping to lead education and resistance efforts. She has participated in multiple occupations and political actions on both sides of the border in protest of broken treaty promises and government neglect of indigenous communities. Sadly, in 1976, at the age of 30, Aquash was found dead on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota. It took decades for her death to be investigated, and it was not until the 2000s that her killers were convicted of and sentenced for murder.
Anna Mae Aquash put her life on the line in order to stand for justice and civil rights. She was and continues to be a symbol of strength and courage, and I ask this House to remember her today.
PELLEY: TONYA/FAITH - NAME THAT ROBOT CONTEST:
WINNER - CONGRATS.
HON. LLOYD HINES « » : I rise today to congratulate two of my constituents on winning the Name that Robot contest sponsored by the wonderful IWK and the Centre for Pediatric Pain Research. Tonya Pelley and her daughter Faith, residents of Guysborough, entered the name B-Positive for the humanoid robot which can help reduce procedural pain and distress for children within its blood collection clinic. B-Positive was one of over 300 entries, and after online voting, they were declared the winners on October 4th. The name certainly reflects the personalities of both Tonya and Faith. I ask the House to join me in congratulating Tonya and Faith as the winners of this contest and recognize that B-Positive Robot will positively affect so many children throughout Atlantic Canada.
POWER, ALICE - FRIENDS OF PUGWASH ESTUARY:
COMMIT. - RECOGNIZE
MS. ELIZABETH SMITH-MCCROSSIN « » : I would like to honour and recognize Alice Power and the Friends of the Pugwash Estuary for their dedication and commitment in sustaining this part of Nova Scotia's conservation and land, while conserving the unique and balanced ecosystem of the Pugwash Estuary. This is of great importance to our province's past, present, and future. Friends of the Pugwash Estuary was formed in 2004 by a small group who was concerned about the health of the estuary and with what could be done to preserve this ecological treasure. Since that time, much has been accomplished, including the engagement of the wider community and the growth of membership to 128 in 2013.
NARRATIVES IN SPACE + TIME SOC.:
COMMUN. CONTRIBUTIONS - THANK
MS. LISA ROBERTS « » : I want to express my appreciation for the Narratives in Space + Time Society. For years, this multidisciplinary group of artists has been guiding walks of the debris field of the Halifax Explosion, exploring the impact and traces of that event almost 100 years ago in Halifax Needham. That work laid the groundwork for an exhibit that opened last night at the Dalhousie Art Gallery. It features photography, 2D and 3D representation of the debris field, collections of artifacts from 100 years ago, and more. Last night, in conjunction with the opening, the public heard how the Halifax Explosion shaped the practice of social work, emergency response, pharmacy, nursing, and more. I'm really grateful for their contribution to our community and for their collection of those stories.
INTL. DAY OF THE GIRL: EMPOWERMENT - RECOMMIT
HON. LENA DIAB « » : I'm pleased to bring further awareness to the International Day of the Girl to recognize the importance of girls, their rights, the contributions they make, and the challenges they still face in today's world. As a global community, we've made great progress in the last few decades in improving the health, well-being, and opportunities of girls. But we know that overt and subtle misogyny still holds our girls back in many ways, big and small.
Let us recommit ourselves each day to empowering our girls, to remind them that they are important, capable, strong and valued, to celebrate them when they are bold and ambitious and have their back when they doubt. Let's let them know that they belong and that their worth is inherent, never conferred by others.
All of us here have remarkable girls in our lives who astound us with the scope of their talents and dreams. Today I want to add my voice and congratulate our girls.
FERGUSON, NADINE: BLANKETS FOR BABY RHINOS - THANK
MR. BRAD JOHNS « » : It's a long way, Mr. Speaker, from Nova Scotia to South Africa. I rise today to recognize Nadine Ferguson who is doing her part to help baby rhinos and elephants orphaned by poachers.
The Middle Sackville resident recently became involved with the grassroots organization, Blankets for Baby Rhinos. The international initiative encourages people to donate blankets to orphaned baby rhinos and elephants. Ferguson coordinates the people interested in knitting, crocheting or sewing blankets, in addition to donating supplies or funds. Volunteers knit or crochet blankets or eight by eight squares that can be made into larger blankets.
Mr. Speaker, I wish to thank Nadine and the other volunteers of this very worthwhile program for helping to ensure the survival of the most vulnerable victims of Africa's poaching scourge.
PROSPECT PENINSULA RES. ASSOC.: PINEDALE PARK - CONGRATS.
HON. IAIN RANKIN « » : Mr. Speaker, I would like to congratulate the Prospect Peninsula Residents' Association and the larger community for working collaboratively to enhance outdoor play experience for children at Pinedale Park.
The PPRA partnered with the municipality, Prospect Road and Area Recreation Association, Councillor Adams, and the Prospect Bay Children's Centre to create a welcoming space for children to enjoy a variety of outdoor recreational and interactive play options.
I am proud to represent a community that comes together to invest in our children's health and happiness. I would like the members of the Nova Scotia House of Assembly to join me in thanking everyone involved in this community project. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
CAPE BRETON TOURISM: LOCAL OPERATORS/STAFF - THANK
Back home in Cape Breton we saw 90,000 licensed room nights, a 4 per cent increase from 2016. Better yet, Cape Breton Island sold 318,000 licensed nights in 2017, an increase of 7 per cent from 2016. This increase can be attributed to our booming tourism industry in Cape Breton. From hiking the Skyline Trail to camping in the Cape Breton Highlands National Park, to visiting the Fortress of Louisbourg, Cape Breton offers something for everyone.
Mr. Speaker, I ask the members of this House of Assembly, to join me in thanking the local tourism operators, accommodations staff, and all the people who are helping grow our tourism base in Cape Breton.
WILSON, ERNIE: COMMUN. COMMITMENT - THANK
MR. JOHN LOHR « » : Mr. Speaker, I wish today to honour Ernie Wilson, of Kentville, who recently received an honorary life membership in the Lions Foundation of Nova Scotia for his lifelong work with Lions. A charter member in 1970 of the New Minas Lions Club, Ernie has served with distinction as club president for three terms, as well as in many other roles.
Ernie's willingness to serve his community has also been demonstrated in his volunteering in the past election as a member of the Kings North PC campaign team. I wish to express my gratitude to Ernie for his commitment to his community and his great volunteering spirit. Thank you, Ernie.
WOMEN'S HIST. MONTH: ROLE MODELS - RECOGNIZE
HON. PATRICIA ARAB « » : Mr. Speaker, during Women's History Month I would like to take the opportunity to say thank you for all of the fabulous women who have helped me along my path in life, to those who encourage me, those who taught me and those who led by example, including all of these remarkable women currently in the Chamber and those who were with me in 2013. Most important, though, I'd like to recognize my amazing powerhouse of a mother who led by example and taught her three daughters and her son that there was no such thing as gender rules or bias in our household.
I'd like to also thank my father, the first feminist I ever met. Without both of their guidance, I would be nothing.
VILLAGE HISTORIQUE - CANADA 150:
MÉTIS CELEBRATION - SUCCESS
Le village historique commemorated Canada's 150th on July 22nd with a celebration of the Métis. The event and the day were a chance to celebrate Métis pride, as well as Canada's 150th Anniversary. The event began in early afternoon with a smudging ceremony and some drumming and singing by one of their spiritual members. There was a lot of other music provided, and there was a display where many artifacts were available to see. Tourists came from afar: Manitoba and Louisiana and everywhere in between. It was such a success that it may even be held again this year.
It was a delight for me to take part in it. I wish the organizers much success going forward.
HUMPHREYS, MAX/COVERDALE, LEWIS/METTERA, KASSIDY:
JOEY AWARDS (2017) NOMS. - CONGRATS.
MR. BILL HORNE « » : I would like to congratulate three Fall River youths who were recently nominated for the 2017 Joey Award. These awards are given to young actors or actresses in Canada for their hard work and dedication to their craft.
Max Humphreys for Best Principal or Supporting Actor in a Feature Film for his role in Weirdos; Lewis Coverdale for his role on Mr. D in the Best Recurring Principal or Guest Star Actor in a TV Series Age 13 Years & Over category; and Kassidy Mettera for
Best Series Regular or Leading Actress in a TV Series 14+ Years category for her role as Lucy on Mr. D. She won the 2016 Joey Award for this role.
Congratulations to all the nominees, and I wish them well in their future success.
SCHMIDT, LEANNE (LEO): VIOLET UNICORN STORE - RECOGNIZE
MS. BARBARA ADAMS « » : Today I am pleased to recognize Leanne (Leo) Schmidt for her outstanding commitment to bringing craft and creativity to my constituency and beyond. Leo is a local business owner located in beautiful Fisherman's Cove in Eastern Passage, and this is her fourth year operating in that location.
The store Leo owns is Violet Unicorn - you can't miss it, because it's completely coloured that way - and 90 per cent of the products sold there are made by her. Throughout the year she opens her doors to the community in many ways. She offers painting classes, rigid heddle weaving classes, and fabric-sculpting classes. Leo recognizes the need for craft and creativity and has accommodated those with physical challenges, autism, mental health conditions, and even those who are recovering from cancer.
The Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage constituency benefits from the work she does and the joy with which she does it.
N.S. TOURISM (2017): SOUTH SHORE INCREASE - CELEBRATE
MR. HUGH MACKAY « » : Today I'm also pleased to tell you a bit about the successful tourism season in Nova Scotia, particularly in the South Shore, including beautiful Chester-St. Margaret's. As mentioned by my colleagues including Clare-Digby, in August 2017 Nova Scotia welcomed 46,000 non-resident overnight visitors. That's an increase of 11 per cent over August 2016. Year-to-date, licensed room nights sold on the South Shore are also up significantly.
There are many factors contributing to the successful tourism season. I highlight that more than 100,000 visitors - 108,000, I believe - from around the world experienced Bluenose II, which is almost double the number from last year's more than 54,000 visitors. We're proud that our sailing ambassador is attracting tremendous interest from visitors from around the world.
I'm also pleased to tell you that the Town of Lunenburg has won the prestigious Cultural Destination of the Year from the 2017 Luxury Travel Guide Americas Awards. The LTG Americas Awards identified the best hotel and accommodation options through the continent.
I'm proud of the strong economic growth that the Nova Scotian tourism industry has achieved this year.
MCBURNIE, AUSTIN: HS GOLF ACHIEVEMENTS - CONGRATS.
MR. LARRY HARRISON « » : Mr. Speaker, a high school student from South Colchester Academy is ending his high school golf career on a high note. Last summer, Austin McBurnie tied for 25th place in the provincial junior tournament at Ken-Wo in July. He then moved on to win the junior club title at the Brookfield Golf Club in the summer.
Austin added to these achievements by winning the Nova Scotia School Athletic Federation Boys Championship last week at Paragon in Kingston. This skilled young man won his last tournament with an 18-hole score of three-over-par 75. That's good.
I'm very pleased to congratulate Austin McBurnie on a successful summer and wish him the best of luck as he moves on to the next phrase of his athletic career.
N.S. HOCKEY VOLS.: COMMITMENT - RECOGNIZE
MR. BEN JESSOME « » : Late August and early September mark the best time of the year for many. No, I'm not talking about the start of the school year. I'm talking about the beginning of hockey season.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank and recognize all those whose involvement makes hockey season across the province a success: the many volunteers who spend countless hours at the rink - coaches, trainers, and managers giving freely of their time and talents; the club organizers, schedulers, and officials - many who never seem to receive the recognition that they deserve; the parents who spend many hours, early mornings and late nights, driving and sitting in cold arenas cheering and supporting their players; and, most importantly, the players who spend their time in the rink working hard, learning, and improving their skills.
Specifically, I would like to recognize the Bedford and TASA Minor Hockey Associations for their continued commitment to the youth of Hammonds Plains-Lucasville, maximizing players' experiences, fostering an environment for development and learning life lessons.
Mr. Speaker, I would ask everyone in the House to join me in wishing hockey fans across the province a wonderful season.
QUEENS-SHELBURNE: VOL. FIREFIGHTERS - RECOGNIZE
MS. KIM MASLAND « » : Mr. Speaker, as Fire Prevention Week draws to a close, I would like to recognize and express my sincere and heartfelt gratitude to all the volunteer firefighters and auxiliary members of my constituency.
These courageous men and women selflessly give of themselves and of their time to keep people in communities of Queens-Shelburne safe. They also strive to educate our citizens about fire safety and prevention.
Mr. Speaker, I ask that all members join me in applauding and thanking all these exceptional individuals and their families. They deserve our utmost respect, admiration, and support.
HALIBLITZ 2017: ORGANIZERS/VOLS. - THANK
MS. RAFAH DICOSTANZO « » : Mr. Speaker, I rise today to recognize the organization and participants in HaliBlitz, a week-long celebration of biodiversity in Halifax this past September. Over 600 people came out to this event to learn about the importance of animals, insects, and plants. This event was hosted by the Ecology Action Centre and the Canadian Wildlife Federation, with the support of the federal government.
This year, 35 BioBlitz events were held in cities across the country. Children and adults alike came to learn the changes going on in our ecosystem, as well as identifying nearly 600 species throughout 2,200 nature observations.
The celebration ended with a day spent at a local treasure of the Clayton Park community - Blue Mountain-Birch Cove Lakes. This celebration was a wonderful week for many people in our community, and lots of knowledge was gained because of it.
Mr. Speaker, I rise today to recognize those who were involved in HaliBlitz and thank them for their contribution to the environment and our communities.
BIG BROTHERS BIG SISTERS (PICTOU CO.):
COMMITMENT - ACKNOWLEDGE
HON. PAT DUNN « » : I rise today to inform all members about the positive impact created by Big Brothers Big Sisters of Pictou County. They continue to facilitate life- changing relationships that inspire our youth; mentors who commit to a few hours a week are definitely game-changers.
It is a way to celebrate that our youth will continue to be a force for positive change. A big thank you to the commitment and dedication of all members of the Big Brothers Big Sisters executive.
SCHOFIELD, JUSTIN: FAST PITCH SUCCESS - CONGRATS.
MR. KEITH IRVING « » : Mr. Speaker, it is a great pleasure to rise today to recognize the recent success of White Rock native Justin Schofield at the 2017 Softball Canada's Men's National Fast Pitch Championship in Saskatoon.
Mr. Schofield's team, the East Hants Mastodons, won gold, bringing the national championship home to Nova Scotia just for the third time in the history of the tournament. Justin was integral to the team's success, pitching all the innings of all three playoff games.
His dominant performance on the national stage earned him the tournament MVP Award and clearly demonstrated why he is regarded as one of the fastest pitchers in the country.
I invite all members of the Nova Scotia House of Assembly to join me in congratulating Justin on this impressive individual and team achievement, and in wishing nothing but the very best in all his future sporting endeavours.
AMHERST ARMOURIES: IMPORTANCE - ACKNOWLEDGE
The Colonel James Layton Ralston Armoury was built in Amherst in 1915 and it has been declared surplus by the Department of National Defence and has been discussed being disposed of. This decision will impact the future of the North Nova Scotia Highlanders Regimental Museum and hundreds of youth who are in our cadet program. This building is part of Cumberland County's rich history, as well it is actively used daily by the North Nova Highlanders Museum and our cadet program.
Mr. Speaker, I am committed to working with our local community to preserve this important building for our community.
N.S. 55+ GAMES (LUNENBURG CO.):
PARTICIPANTS/VOLS. - ACKNOWLEDGE
HON. MARK FUREY « » : Mr. Speaker, Lunenburg County recently welcomed approximately 800 athletes to the 55+ Games. With such events as hockey, running, pickle ball and more, there was something for everyone whether you were a spectator or a participant. Many volunteers worked many hours to make this event such a huge success. The coordination and planning for an event of this size requires great leadership and excellent organization. I'm always impressed with how the volunteers are able to put it all together.
I'd like to congratulate all the participants who participated in the 55+ Games and I'd also like to express my gratitude to all volunteers who helped make the 2017 55+ Games such a huge success.
CAMPBELL, LOGAN/OLSEN, TRENT:
GLIDER WINGS - CONGRATS.
MR. EDDIE ORRELL « » : Mr. Speaker, I rise today to salute Logan Campbell and Trent Olsen, cadets from the 602 McCurdy Squadron who were presented with their glider wings at a ceremony in Debert. This is the first time in more than 15 years the squadron has had a pilot. An extensive training program had to be completed by both cadets.
The main goal of being an air cadet is being a pilot, and the squadron now has two. I would like to take this opportunity to recognize the dedication, hard work and support of the home squadron that allowed these two cadets to achieve their goals. Well done Logan and Trent.
REID, JEFF: LARGEST PUMPKIN TITLE - CONGRATS.
HON. LEO GLAVINE « » : Mr. Speaker, I rise today to offer my congratulations to Kings West resident and horticulturalist Jeff Reid for winning the Annapolis Valley Giant Vegetable Growers title for growing the largest pumpkin. The title-winning pumpkin which officially weighed in at 1,298 pounds was just two pounds shy of Mr. Reid's earlier prediction of 1,300 pounds.
I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate Jeff on his title, wish him all the best and thank him for the remarkable hospitality he showed during the summer on my visit and members of my team. I also commend him and his family for their leadership in the Annapolis Valley Giant Vegetable Growers Association.
PORT MORIEN LEGION (BR. 55): ANNIV. (80th) - CONGRATS.
HON. ALFIE MACLEOD « » : Mr. Speaker, I rise today to acknowledge the Port Morien Legion Branch 55 which recently celebrated its 80th Anniversary. The Port Morien Legion is the main focal point for every event that takes place in the community of Port Morien. The volunteers work tirelessly catering weddings, anniversaries and almost every other social event that takes place in this small community.
Celtic Colours is also a big event for the Legion which is happening this week in Cape Breton. I stand today to congratulate the Port Morien Legion Branch 55, along with the whole community of Port Morien, for making the Legion the success it is as it celebrates 80 years of service to the community.
WATSON, DAVID: 2018 CDN. SOFTBALL TEAM SELECT - CONGRATS.
HON. MARGARET MILLER « » : Mr. Speaker, the Junior Men's World Championship is a fast-pitch softball tournament for age 19-and-under national teams, held every four years by the International Softball Federation. Earlier this year the coaching staff held a series of provincial and regional identification camps throughout the country and attracted approximately 200 athletes. The final 26 team members were chosen in August following a selection camp held in O'Leary, P.E.I.
Representing Nova Scotia and Canada, David, nickname "Bubba" Watson, is excited to be a team member of the 2018 Canadian Junior Men's team competing at the 2018 WBSE Junior Men's Softball World Championship from July 7 -15, in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan.
The extraordinary thing about Watson's journey is that although he has played ball for several years, he has only been pitching for three years. Trevor Comeau, his fast pitch coach at Hants East Rural High, is not at all surprised that David made the team.
I would like to congratulate David Watson for being chosen for the 2018 Canadian Junior Men's team and wish him well in his future endeavours.
HON. KELLY REGAN » : Mr. Speaker, I would like to direct the members' attention to the east gallery where we are joined today by someone who needs no introduction to this House, the Honourable Joanne Bernard, who is here today in her role as CEO of Easter Seals. We have one of our young Pages here at the Legislature who has joined us here via the Supportive Work Program at Easter Seals. I would encourage all of our members to give Ms. Bernard the warm welcome of the House. (Standing Ovation)
BEAR RIVER VILLAGE - CHERRY FESTIVAL: ORGANIZERS - THANK
MR. GORDON WILSON « » : For the last 124 years, the Village of Bear River has hosted the Bear River Cherry Festival. First organized to celebrate the harvest of cherries, it is now very much a celebration of the village. The day is packed with things to do, starting with a pancake and sausage breakfast and ending with a fireworks display after dusk. But there is one activity that everyone loves to watch: the walk on the greased pole contest. The goal of contestants is to reach a flag at the end of the pole before falling into the river. Of the 40 contestants who tried to reach the flag this year, only Cody Banks was able to grab it before falling into the river. I would like to thank the organizers for fostering such an infectious spirit of fun in their activities. Cherry Festival is also a major fundraiser for the village's fire department.
FIRE PREV. WK: VOL. FIREFIGHTERS - THANK
HON. LLOYD HINES « » : Mr. Speaker, this year's theme for Fire Prevention Week is Every Second Counts: Plan Two Ways Out. Once a fire happens, it's too late to figure out your escape plan. I am encouraging all Nova Scotians to be prepared in the event of a fire. Fire Prevention Week, which started in 1927, is the longest-running public health and safety observance in history. Each year, a central theme is chosen for the week with the goal of eliminating fire deaths and their injuries. I want to express my sincere appreciation to the firefighters who continue to assist their communities when they are in the most vulnerable time of need. They respond at all hours of the day, holidays and weekends, while missing family events and more. Guysborough-Eastern Shore-Tracadie has 27 volunteer fire departments. I ask that we take a moment to say a heartfelt thank you to all volunteer firefighters and their families and to be ever so mindful of the critical role they play in the lives of so many.
COMMUN. CONTRIBUTIONS - THANK
MS. ALANA PAON « » : Shanna Burke of St. Peter's, supported by her daughters Kendra and Kaitlin, has been hosting events and fundraisers for various local and global causes for the past number of years. Together, they have helped to raise thousands of dollars for the Children's Wish Foundation, hosting events such as annual walks, barbecues, bake sales, pyjama and hat days, as well as through the sale of Wishmaker clouds. Shanna just held another Wishmaker walk on October 9th. Shanna Burke is instilling the social justice movement in her daughters, with both Kendra and Kaitlin having been recognized by the WE movement in Toronto for their efforts to raise funds for an international cause, by hosting a potluck dinner and musical jam session. They received a special invitation to WE Day Atlantic in Halifax in November, 2015.
Mr. Speaker, together this family embodies the true spirit of giving to your community, loving your neighbours, and supporting causes that make a difference in people's lives. I would like to thank Shanna, Kendra, and Kaitlin for being an inspiration and for everything they do to support their community and the causes that they hold dear.
JONES, EL: HUMAN RIGHTS CONTRIBUTIONS - THANK
MS. LISA ROBERTS « » : I would like to express my appreciation for El Jones, a former Halifax poet laureate and current Nancy's Chair in Women's Studies at Mount Saint Vincent University. El is a strong, principled voice for justice and against racism. She's funny, she's smart as heck, and she's tender-hearted. She has also made me uncomfortable at times, which is one way I know that I have really learned and grown, thanks to her. Recently she was portrayed in a racist caricature in Frank magazine. After an outcry, there was an apology and a commitment to redraw the caricature, but Frank has targeted El numerous times this year and before. Perhaps it's a sign of her success. El says it's a human right to expand your mind, read, and critique. For her contribution to our human rights, I am grateful.
HON. CHRISTOPHER D'ENTREMONT « » : I have a number of colleagues and friends in the gallery that I would like to introduce, and I'll ask them to rise and say hello and then we'll clap for them all at the end: Ronald Surette, President of the Kespu'kwitk Métis Council; Karole Dumont, Chief of the Council of the First Métis People of Canada, coming to us from Ottawa; Richard MacKinnon, elder of the Sou'West Nova Wampanoag Métis Nation; Christian Collins, elder of the Sou'West Nova Wampanoag Métis Nation; Roger Van Norden, Chief of Division 8 of the Woodland Spirit of the Deer; Adrienne Speck, Spiritual Guidance Counsellor and elder of the Eastern Woodland Metis Nation; Mary Lou Parker, Grand Chief of the Eastern Woodland Metis Council; Howard Austin Griffin, Chief of the Eastern Shore Division of the Eastern Woodland Metis Nation; Charles Crosby, negotiator and elder of the Eastern Woodland Metis Nation; Sheila Marie Surette, elder; Harold Richard Sharpe, Metis; Charles Ricky Harris, Captain of the Hunt of the Island Metis Nation; Tony Cunningham, my friend, Chief of the Sou'West Nova Wampanoag Metis; Grizzly Mamma from B.C., and Vivian Bridges, elder of the Eastern Woodland Metis Nation.
I ask all of us to give them a warm welcome to this House of Assembly. (Standing Ovation)
SHAW, CAMERON EWAN BAYNE/TIMMINS, JUSTIN GARRET
- CAN. WINTER GAMES: GOLD MEDALS - CONGRATS.
HON. LENA DIAB « » : Mr. Speaker, I rise today to congratulate a constituent of Halifax Armdale, 18-year-old Cameron Ewan Bayne Shaw on his success at this year's Canada Games in Winnipeg. Though he may be young, Cameron has competed in the sport of sailing for eight years. He has raced in provincial, national and international regattas and he trains out of the Royal Nova Scotia Yacht Squadron. Cameron has been a member of the provincial sailing team for six years now and represented Canada very well at the 29er Mid Winter West Regatta in San Diego earlier this year.
As you likely know, Mr. Speaker, Nova Scotia took home 13 gold medals at this year's Canada Games. After four intense days of sailing, Cameron and his teammate, Justin Garret Timmins of Bedford, claimed the top spot in the double-handed 29er Male category.
Please join me in congratulating Cameron and Justin on their gold medal win and wish them both continued success in training and sailing.
C.B. REG. FIRE SERV. - RECOGNIZE/THANK
HON. DEREK MOMBOURQUETTE « » : Mr. Speaker, as we recognize Fire Prevention Week, I want to stand in my place to recognize the work of the Cape Breton Regional Fire Service. It was this time last year that I was coming home and my two girls were getting a bath and our house was consumed with smoke as we had a fire in our dryer.
We learned that night how quickly things could escalate and how important it is to have a plan to make sure that your family is safe. I stand in my place today during this week to recognize the incredible work and support that the Cape Breton Fire Service provided to me and my family that night and to encourage all Nova Scotians to make sure that you do have a plan in the event of a fire.
PICKARD, MAGGIE: ACHIEVEMENTS - BEST WISHES
HON. PATRICIA ARAB « » : Mr. Speaker, I rise today to recognize Maggie Pickard, a young woman who was recognized for her perseverance and contributions to the Fairview-Clayton Park community. As a recent graduate of Halifax West High School, Maggie was not only the co-president of the student government but also graduated on the Principal's List in the International Baccalaureate Program.
Maggie is a remarkable young woman who deserves tremendous praise for her achievements. Now a student at Mount Allison University in Sackville, New Brunswick, she is a recipient of the Marjorie Young Bell Scholarship, one of the largest undergraduate awards in Canada, and has received a Bell Achievement Scholarship valued at $36,000. It is an award given to only five students every year who possess strong academic skills, leadership ability, volunteer hours and work experience.
Maggie is currently taking a Bachelor of Science with dreams of attending medical school to become a cardiologist. Mr. Speaker, I ask members of this House of Assembly to join me in congratulating Maggie Pickard and wishing her only the best of luck in her future endeavours.
TUTTLE, MARNI - WINDSOR JCT. COMM. CTR.:
VOL. OF THE YR. - CONGRATS.
MR. BILL HORNE « » : Mr. Speaker, I rise today to congratulate Marni Tuttle who was chosen as the Volunteer of the Year for the Windsor Junction Community Centre. Marni has been a board member of the community centre for the past four years. She has also applied for many grants and organized many of the fundraisers for the Windsor Junction Community Centre. Marni is also involved in the hiring and the program planning for the summer day camps. Marni has also worked with the Sackville Skating Club, the Canadian Association of Gift Planners, the Canadian Figure Skating Championships, Gordon Arsenault Community Centre, Dalhousie Women in Technology, Chebucto Community Net Board, Dress for Success, Halifax Board, and the LWF Ratepayers.
I ask the members of the House of Assembly to join me in congratulating Marni on her award.
N.S. CULTURE ACTION PLAN: INNOVATION FUND - FALL LAUNCH
MR. HUGH MACKAY « » : Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak of Nova Scotia's Culture Action Plan. The One Nova Scotia report reinforced that while we have a strong, diverse cultural sector, we can be doing more to capitalize on it and grow it as a true economic driver. The truth is, culture already makes a big financial contribution to the provincial economy. Almost 14,000 Nova Scotians work in the cultural sector. We want to ensure that these creative workers have access to entrepreneurial skills that enhance their opportunities, their growth, and their success.
Our Culture Action Plan includes a theme to drive awareness and economic growth of the cultural sector. This is directly linked to our government's intent to create the environment in which businesses can thrive, including our creative businesses. We will infuse our cultural sector with more of the entrepreneurship, innovation, and creativity through the Culture Innovation Fund that will be launched this Fall.
WELSH, MATTHEW: HOCKEY ACCOMPLISHMENTS - RECOGNIZE
MS. RAFAH DICOSTANZO « » : Mr. Speaker, I rise today to recognize Matthew Welsh, a young yet very accomplished local hockey player. His list of accomplishments is never-ending. Not only has he become a leader for his team but this is also his NHL draft year. Throughout the season, Matthew will be scouted by various NHL professionals and there is no doubt in any of the minds of those in the hockey community that Matt will continue to make us all proud.
Mr. Speaker, I ask that the members of the House of Assembly join me in recognizing Matthew Welsh, who has become a star athlete for the Charlottetown Islanders. We wish him and his fellow teammates the best of luck in their season.
BATHERSON, DRAKE: HOCKEY ACHIEVEMENTS - CONGRATS.
MR. KEITH IRVING « » : Mr. Speaker, in keeping with the hockey theme, may I bring to the attention of the House, hockey sensation Drake Batherson of New Minas. Drake was an all-star with the Midget AAA Valley Wildcats and recently has been enjoying tremendous success in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League as a member of the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles. In June, he was drafted by the NHL's Ottawa Senators and recently signed an entry-level contract with the team. Drake's father, Norm, played professional hockey, including with the Ottawa Senators organization, and it would thus appear to be true that in the Annapolis Valley spirit, the apple doesn't fall far from the tree.
Please join me in congratulating Drake on his extraordinary hockey career thus far and in wishing him well in his efforts to achieve his goal of playing amongst the very best in the world in the National Hockey League.
BRIDGEWATER TRANSIT SERV: PILOT PROJ. - ADVOCATES RECOGNIZE
HON. MARK FUREY « » : Mr. Speaker, after months of planning and coordinating, Bridgewater Transit service has been launched. I was both pleased and excited to watch the bus pass my constituency office several times, knowing what a positive change this will have for many residents. As a six-month pilot project, the Town of Bridgewater will perfect their route, and we're all hopeful that at the end of the sixth month we hear the announcement that the transit system will be a permanent fixture.
I would like to recognize HRM and Halifax Transit for their kind donation of two buses, those within the Town of Bridgewater who advocated for the service, as well as those who have helped in the planning and implementation of this transit pilot project. I'd encourage all who live in the Town in Bridgewater to give the bus a try.
MACDONALD, CATHARINE: TEACHING EXCELLENCE - RECOGNIZE
HON. RANDY DELOREY « » : Mr. Speaker, Catharine MacDonald, a teacher in Antigonish, has recently been awarded the Nova Scotia French Second Language Educator of the Year Award from Canadian Parents for French. This award recognizes her teaching excellence both in and out of the classroom. In addition to teaching many children how to speak French, Ms. MacDonald has often engaged her students in planning and orchestrating charitable work in the community, helping them work together to raise funds for a variety of causes. Ms. MacDonald currently teaches Grade 6 French immersion at Saint Andrew Junior School. She has taught either core French or French immersion throughout her 28-year career. Ms. MacDonald attended Nova Scotia Teachers College, Université Sainte-Anne, and completed her Master of Education at - you've guessed it - St. F.X. University.
I invite my colleagues in the House to join me in recognizing Catharine MacDonald's teaching excellence in helping Nova Scotia students learn French throughout her long and successful career.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS TO MINISTERS
PREM. - CAP & TRADE PLAN: GAS/HOME HEATING FUEL - EFFECT
HON. JAMIE BAILLIE « » : Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Premier. The government has introduced a cap and trade system that has no actual environmental goals. Instead, it only has pricing goals - $10 to $50 per ton of emissions. That price will be applied to everyday items like gasoline and home heating fuel. I have repeatedly asked the Premier how much more his cap and trade system will cost Nova Scotian households, and all he has said is that his new system will "protect the pocketbooks of Nova Scotians."
I would like to know what that means: will the Premier be clear - will the cost of gasoline and home heating fuel go up, go down, or stay the same, under his plan?
Nova Scotians deserve to know if the cost of everyday items like heating their home, like driving to work, is going to go up or not - and manufacturers need to know, important employers in this province like Michelin, like Oxford Frozen Foods. They did the right thing a few years ago when they converted to natural gas. Now, natural gas is going to be subject to the cap and trade rules as well and they are going to be penalized for having done the right thing for the environment in the first place.
I want to know from the Premier, why does he think it's okay for important employers like Michelin, like Oxford Frozen Foods, to now be penalized for having done the right thing and converted to natural gas?
THE PREMIER: In his preamble, he had a lot of assumptions which are completely wrong. The fact of the matter is we brought a cap and trade system into this province that is unique to Nova Scotia and reflects the hard work of all Nova Scotians over the last decade, and we're going to continue to make sure that we defend the interests of all Nova Scotians when it comes to ensuring and that we continue to do so in our greenhouse gas production. We know by 2030 we will be 50 per cent below where we were in 2005-06, and we're going to continue to work with Nova Scotians to continue to lead this country in greenhouse gas reductions, but at the same time we're going to protect their pocketbooks.
MR. BAILLIE « » : No one knows what that means. Of course, we're making assumptions, because the government is not clear. Are the costs of these items going to go up or down? Are our manufacturers going to have increased costs, or not? No wonder there is such confusion - the government is expecting Nova Scotians to buy a pig in a poke. They aren't entitled to know the answers to these very basic questions.
I mean, look at it - here we have a system where no one is allowed to know how much it costs, it contains no actual new environmental targets, and the government itself doesn't even know who is going to be included. In Estimates, in this House, Agriculture was very clear that they were totally exempt from cap and trade; Environment came into the same place and said they were actually included. No wonder there is so much confusion.
How can the Premier expect Nova Scotians to buy into a program when they are given so little information to go by?
THE PREMIER « » : I want to thank all those Nova Scotians, over the last decade, who continue to work to reduce our greenhouse gas production. If you look at, in our province, successive governments have used regulation, which has driven great results. We wanted to make sure that when Ottawa continued to implement this price on carbon across the country, that the hard work by Nova Scotians would be reflected in the fact that all of the work that had been happening over the last decade would still be there. Nova Scotians could use that to smooth it out across our sectors.
The honourable member would know, in British Columbia they have used a carbon tax and we have not seen any reduction in greenhouse gas production. If you look at Ontario, they used their own version of a cap and trade system and we have not seen the results that we have seen in this province. What we wanted to make sure is that we continue to work hard on behalf of all Nova Scotians, and continue to make sure that we protect their pocketbooks.
PREM. - CAMPAIGN DIR.: GOV'T MEMBERS - LOBBY
MR. GARY BURRILL « » : When questioned recently here in the House, both the Premier and the Minister of the Environment said that they have not been lobbied by the Premier's campaign director on behalf of Lafarge Canada. But on the Registry of Lobbyists' website, this same campaign director is asked directly: "Have you lobbied, or do you expect to lobby, a member of the House of Assembly in the member's capacity as a member, or a person on the member's staff?" to which he answered simply, "yes."
I want to ask the Premier, who then, in his government, has been lobbied by his campaign director?
MR. BURRILL « » : You actually don't need to be a lobbyist in Nova Scotia in order to get inside access to the Premier and his Cabinet. You can also just pay $750 a year to join the Angus L Club, as they call it, which the Liberal Party once posted on its website. It offers members, ". . . enhanced opportunities to meet with the leader and caucus members as well as exclusive invitations to special events."
I ask the Premier, at a time when matters of this sort are surrounded by so much ethical controversy, how can he justify taking part in these cash-for-access arrangements?
THE PREMIER « » : I have been lobbied by members on the opposite side of the House walking into this building, looking for projects in their particular riding. I can tell the honourable member that I have not been lobbied by anyone to move a project through. I continue to work on behalf of all Nova Scotians, like we have continued to do for the last three and a half or four years. When this government makes a decision, it is made based on fact and in the best interests of all Nova Scotians, not a certain group.
MR. BURRILL « » : I think it's possible, Mr. Speaker, that the Premier is failing to recognize the gravity with which this issue is approached by people. Liberals across the country in various jurisdictions have, in recent months, been criticized for cash-for-access schemes and fundraisers. Yet in other parts of the country, we see that there have been responses to these criticisms. Various jurisdictions have made changes to regulatory systems, but in Nova Scotia the response to these criticisms has been zero. As a matter of fact, the agenda for the Liberals' AGM this weekend notes that members of Angus L Club - I note again, $750 to join - can go to an exclusive reception Saturday with the Premier and the Liberal caucus.
These kinds of cash-for-access events are below the standard of integrity in government that people have a right to expect. I want to ask the Premier, will he intervene and cancel the cash-for-access event scheduled for the Liberal AGM this weekend?
THE PREMIER « » : I want to thank the honourable member again for the question. He would know, in this province, the campaign donation rules are as strict as they are anywhere in the country. Our Party is no different than his Party or the Party across the way from me, the Official Opposition. We're continuing to go forward, Mr. Speaker. I don't want to question the honourable member, but I don't know of anyone in this House who is prepared to sell their dignity for 750 bucks. I question the fact that he thinks I would.
EECD - IN-SCHOOL VIDEO CAMERAS: PRIVACY LAWS - COMPLY
HON. JAMIE BAILLIE « » : My question is for the Minister of Education and Early Childhood Development. Earlier this year, Nova Scotians were disturbed to learn that videos recorded at a school in Cape Breton made their way into the public domain, apparently hosted by a Russian website, if you can believe that, Mr. Speaker. It turns out those videos were done because of provincial guidelines that require that video cameras be placed in our schools for security purposes. I will say no one would argue with the need for video security in our schools. What we don't know is whether the usage of those video cameras was in compliance with the province's own privacy laws. I would like to ask the minister to confirm if in-school video cameras are in fact compliant with the province's own privacy laws.
HON. ZACH CHURCHILL » : Obviously this is a very concerning situation. This was directly related to the security of the password for this one camera. We have since been assured by all boards that the security issue has been dealt with from a password perspective. The Privacy Commissioner has brought forward recommendations specific to the Cape Breton board, but we are going to look to see if we can expand those recommendations to cover the entire province.
MR. BAILLIE « » : In fact, today's privacy officer report confirms that all school boards in Nova Scotia use the same open non-secure video system that was the subject of this disturbing occurrence in Cape Breton. Clearly, parents across this province are worried about what's going on in their own schools with their own children in terms of their privacy and video surveillance. I would like to ask the minister, could he tell the House how many schools are using the same system and what steps is his department taking to secure those cameras immediately?
MR. CHURCHILL « » : Of course, it is very frightening when you see images of our schools showing up on a Russian website. This was the result of a hack. We had a weakness in the security because of a password issue. We've since been assured by all boards that that issue has been addressed.
We have some very thoughtful and appropriate recommendations that have come forward from the Privacy Commissioner. Although she has made those recommendations specific to Cape Breton, we are going to look at expanding those recommendations province-wide. Thank you.
PREM.: COLLECTIVE BARGAINING - IMPORTANCE
MS. TAMMY MARTIN « » : Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Premier. When my daughter was just two years old I worked at a bank. I had to take her to Halifax for a health issue and my employer told me there was no leave available. As a mother, I took time off without pay, risked my job so that I could make sure my daughter got to that appointment.
When I got a unionized job at the hospital, you can imagine my relief, knowing that I would have access to paid leave so I could care for my child. When I go into collective bargaining, my job is to speak for all the parents who just want to know that their job will be safe if they need to be home for a day with their child.
My question, Mr. Speaker, does the Premier agree that Nova Scotia workers deserve better protections, fairly negotiated by their unions?
THE PREMIER « » : Mr. Speaker, I'm very proud of the record of our government continuing to go and work and go back to the bargaining table and getting successive agreements with the negotiating team, some of which have been rejected by their membership. We continued every step to deliver free and collective bargaining, unlike the Party she represents that drove paramedics back to work.
MS. MARTIN « » : Actually, that was dictating, not bargaining. Mr. Speaker, the unions in this province represent thousands who are making $15 an hour and doing their best to make life better for themselves and their families. Over the past few days, this Premier has repeatedly stood in this House and tried to use the same divide and conquer strategy on the doctors of this province, that he used on the teachers in February.
Mr. Speaker, as a former health care worker and a proud union member and rep, I've had enough. Will the Premier apologize to the unionized members of this province for his comments and complete lack of respect for collective bargaining?
THE PREMIER « » : Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the honourable member for her question. We just had a campaign called an election campaign. I want to thank those Nova Scotians, both union and non-union, who supported and voted for us, that happened in my riding.
Mr. Speaker, I want to remind the honourable member that prior to being here and out campaigning, she brought up the issue of NSTU and teachers. It was very clear that teachers were upset, not just at this government, they were clearly upset at their union, quite frankly.
As I go across the province, people have obviously had issues with the government, Mr. Speaker, at times, but let's be clear and frank, they are also unhappy with the representation they've had from the union leadership. The fact of the matter is, we've provided what we believe is a fair wage (Interruption).
THE PREMIER « » : Mr. Speaker, the fact of the matter is, that we provided what we believe is a fair wage pattern; with each and every step we moved. We adjusted, we provided more. At the end of the day, there are people who didn't feel it was enough. I get that.
The responsibility for me, though, is to represent all Nova Scotians, respond to all the needs and desires of every Nova Scotian. The desire of a union leader is to represent the people who are paying the membership fees. It's a very different scenario and sometimes we don't agree.
ENERGY: CAP & TRADE PLAN - N.S. POWER EXEMPTION
MR. ALLAN MACMASTER « » : Mr. Speaker, a question for the Minister of Energy. The proposed cap and trade program, we've just heard the Premier indicate that the government is going to protect the pocketbooks of Nova Scotians. Our Leader has just called that a pig in a poke, which I think is the same as a pig in a bag - you don't know what you've got until you get home. As my old friend Cyril Reddy used to say, you might land home from the auction the proud owner of both pieces - it might be broken.
Mr. Speaker, we are concerned. This is important legislation. It appears that Nova Scotia Power will be exempt from the cap, or may be eligible to receive free credits. Is it true that the government plans to exempt Nova Scotia Power from the cap and trade program?
HON. GEOFF MACLELLAN « » : I thank the member for the question, it is an important one. That actually is not true, Nova Scotia Power will be part of any conversations about cap and trade. The reality is for Nova Scotia Power and the energy it uses, and all those large-scale users in the province, they are going to be subject to this. Based on their ability to perform, to use renewables as part of their mix and to use efficiencies in their energy consumption, is going to put them under that cap and that's where the value comes in for Nova Scotians.
Mr. Speaker, this is a fair program for everybody. We'll get to the details, but the reality is that Nova Scotia is in a great place because of the work we've already done.
MR. MACMASTER « » : Well, Mr. Speaker, you can see why we're asking the question. Nova Scotia Power is the province's largest carbon emitter. If Nova Scotians are going to be protected - if their pocketbooks are going to be protected - how is the government going to do this? Are they going to charge the penalty to Nova Scotia Power's profits, that it can't charge back to the consumer?
Is that the plan? Can the minister confirm?
MR. MACLELLAN « » : Again, Nova Scotia Power and other large-scale users and consumers of energy will be subject to this cap and trade system. Those who perform and stay under the cap will have those credits for free, so to speak. Those who don't will be in that trading mechanism.
At the end of the day, those will be subject to this legislation. We'll have some work to do in terms of creating efficiencies and making their operations such that they're using renewables and keeping their emissions down, that they're playing a role. But again, we're in great shape as a province. Because of the hard work of Nova Scotians, because of the rate base, because of government policy, a year's gone by, and with our present mandate, we've put our people in a great position to protect the environment and to make sure we're not increasing - and in fact, we're largely decreasing - our GHG emissions in a major way.
We're leaders on this continent, Mr. Speaker, and it's because of the work of the people of this province.
ABOR. AFFS.: N.S. MÉTIS CONCERNS - ASSIST
HON. CHRISTOPHER D'ENTREMONT « » : Earlier today I had the opportunity to introduce a number of chiefs and representatives from Métis groups from across Nova Scotia. The Minister of Aboriginal Affairs is, I'm sure, aware of the continuing fight the Métis groups in Nova Scotia have been waging to be recognized as Aboriginals, as their cousins are west of Ontario.
My question is to the Premier, who is also the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs. Has he met with these groups to listen to their challenges?
THE PREMIER « » : Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the honourable member for the question. I have not met with these groups. I know people from the department have. I believe the member for Clare-Digby may have been at an annual meeting, or more recently. But have I? No.
On October 1st, the Premier was sent a letter from a constituent of mine, Chief Tony Cunningham of the Sou'West Nova Métis Council. I'll table that here in the House. It represents a resumé of all these ongoing issues.
I know it's not the desire of the Province of Nova Scotia to negotiate on behalf of the Government of Nova Scotia, but these groups are asking for your support to help their communities with education and health care, just like any other community group here in Nova Scotia. Is the Premier willing to meet and help them with their concerns?
THE PREMIER « » : Again, every minister in this government will work with people to provide the programs you're referring to, which all Nova Scotians should aspire to want for their children and community, to help build their community. Of course we'll meet with members across the province.
I want to be clear about this. It's important that we have this conversation. The courts have determined the treaty rights and rights based for the Mi'kmaq of our province. We're continuing to build on that relationship.
You're very right. In western Canada, the Métis have the rights that have been granted through the courts, determined by them. We're continuing to work with organizations. It's not up to the Premier to determine that. There's a rule of law, a court of law. It will go through that process.
We're prepared, and I'm prepared, to work with all community groups to ensure that we deliver on those things. But let's be clear that the courts have determined that treaty rights in the Province of Nova Scotia belong to the Mi'kmaq.
H&W - DOCTORS N.S.:
PHYSICIAN REPRESENTATION - ACKNOWLEDGE
HON. ALFIE MACLEOD « » : Mr. Speaker, my question through you is to the Minister of Health and Wellness. Last week, the minister and the Premier made it plain that they were not in a conflict with doctors, but they had a problem with Doctors Nova Scotia. Well, I can tell all members of this House that the doctors I know can see the difference in that.
Section 8 of the Doctors Nova Scotia Act says that for a doctor to practise in Nova Scotia, they ". . . shall be a member of . . ." Doctors Nova Scotia. I will table that.
My question is very simple. Will the minister acknowledge that doctors make up Doctors Nova Scotia and that when he has a problem with the organization, he has a problem with doctors?
HON. RANDY DELOREY « » : Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for the question. What I can assure the member opposite of is that as I toured the province talking to health care professionals from his community - from Sydney in Cape Breton all the way down to Yarmouth - this concern being raised by Doctors Nova Scotia is not the concern being brought forward by the doctors on the front line of our health care system.
When I make reference to this being a concern for the organization, not for the physician, that is what I was getting to. I stand by that statement that the concerns of the front-line health care professionals, those doctors that are providing the services to Nova Scotians from one end of the province to the other, their concerns are with the delivery of services and not a surplus account in Doctors Nova Scotia.
MR. MACLEOD « » : Well, that confirmed what we all thought. This government is out of touch with the people that deliver the health care system in this province. Mr. Speaker, 100,000 Nova Scotians don't have a family doctor and this government says that they are doing all they can to attract doctors and yet they are attacking the very organization that represents them in this province. Why is the minister saying one thing and doing the exact opposite by attacking the doctors he says he wants to attract?
MR. DELOREY « » : I appreciate the opportunity to highlight the great work that physicians from one end of the province to the other are doing. I had a phone call with a physician in Cape Breton who works out of the Cape Breton Regional Hospital just before coming down to the Legislature this morning. And you know not one of the six topics that we talked about on that phone call had to do with a surplus account held by Doctors Nova Scotia for the benefit being provided.
These physicians are concerned about how we can improve the delivery of health care services from one end of the province to the other. That is what this government is committed to doing and that is what the department, our health authorities and the front-line health care workers - physicians, nurses, and all health care professionals - are committed to on behalf of all Nova Scotians.
EECD - EDUC. SYSTEM ADMIN. REVIEW: TIMELINE - EXPLAIN
MS. CLAUDIA CHENDER « » : Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Education and Early Childhood Education. Yesterday we learned the very knowledgeable expert Dr. Avis Glaze has been hired to conduct an education system administrative review. Say that three times fast. We were told that the report from Dr. Glaze, who will remain based in British Columbia, could be expected on New Year's Eve. Both Dr. Glaze and the minister said that they were coming to this review with an open mind and were interested in listening to all stakeholders.
Mr. Speaker, given the need for extensive regional need for consultation on this issue, how does the minister expect the report to be completed with the proposed timeline?
HON. ZACH CHURCHILL « » : In fact, it was Dr. Glaze herself who had suggested she would able to meet the timeline that our government had suggested. She is a very dedicated person who brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to this and I know that Nova Scotians and our education system are really going to benefit from her work in this province on this file.
MS. CHENDER « » : Mr. Speaker, in this government's first mandate, they commissioned the Freeman report which made recommendations in 2015. The final report from the Commission on Inclusive Education is due in March 2018. Extensive consultations on pre-Primary will begin in the next few weeks. And as we just discussed, Dr. Glaze's report is due on December 31st of this year. We were told in Estimates no money is currently budgeted to address the findings from all of these reports and consultation, many if not all of which will have significant cost implications. Will the minister explain why his department is taking such an uncoordinated approach to such serious issues?
MR. CHURCHILL « » : In fact, this is a comprehensive and coordinated approach to education. Everything that we are doing is geared towards student success and achievement. We are looking at the model of inclusion which has created challenges in our education system, we are looking at the classroom conditions that teachers have told us take away from their time to teach, and we are looking at early education which we know is absolutely critical to student success.
Of course, it is incumbent upon us to look at ourselves and how we administer that system. We are doing all these things because we have high ambitions for our children. We want to make sure our government and every aspect in this department is doing its very best for them.
H&W - SPECIALIZED BABY FORMULA: MIN. - ASSIST
MR. JOHN LOHR « » : Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health and Wellness. A newborn in my constituency is facing a serious challenge as she requires a hypoallergic elemental baby formula due to severe allergies. This specialized formula, Puramino, costs more than $1,500 a month. This young family has been working hard to cover their bills but the cost is simply too expensive.
The family has asked the province about available programs and I have inquired with the department and other sources. The family has even started a GoFundMe page to help cover the cost for the baby girl. I sent the minister an urgent letter about this case in August.
I sent the minister an urgent letter about this case in August. My question for the minister is, will the minister commit to looking into this case?
HON. RANDY DELOREY « » : I thank the member for bringing the question forward. As the member noted, I did receive correspondence from him earlier and I have directed the department to look into it. I'll certainly double-check what the status of that is, Mr. Speaker. It's certainly my expectation that someone has been back to them, but I'll certainly follow up to make sure that that has been the case.
MR. LOHR « » : Thank you, minister, for that answer. Mr. Speaker, the infant's pediatrician has written a letter advocating on her behalf that the formula be funded. I'll table that. In this case, the family has exhausted options at hand and still not found a single solution to the financial strife they face.
If the family lived in HRM they could get the formula from the IWK and, in fact, they have resorted to purchasing formula being sold on Kijiji by someone who received it through the IWK. Without the formula the infant suffers intense vomiting, lack of weight, blood in her stool and sleepless nights due to extreme discomfort.
My question is, will the minister commit to providing this expensive formula to families outside the HRM with infants in desperate need?
MR. DELOREY « » : Again, as the member mentioned, this is certainly a situation when the children of our province, indeed any citizen of the province, that requires specialized, whether it's in this case a dietary product or in some cases medication, that we want to do our best to support those individuals within our province.
As I've already mentioned, I've asked staff to look into this, Mr. Speaker, and I'll certainly follow up with them and see what the status of that review is and certainly follow up with the family in this case.
H&W - 811 PATIENT LISTS: APPLICATION PROCESS - EXPLAIN
MS. BARBARA ADAMS « » : Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health and Wellness. The 811 Frequently Asked Questions web page states that when the Nova Scotia Health Authority becomes aware that a doctor is taking on new patients, that it is the Nova Scotia Health Authority that gives the doctor the list of names for them to call. I'll table that document.
An article published in The Coast news last week stated that a Doctor Noel Baker will be starting up his own wait-list and drawing from it on October 21st and not from the 811 lists. I'll table that document.
Given that the Nova Scotia Health Authority's 811 distribution policy is to draw from its own lists, can the Minister of Health and Wellness advise me why Dr. Noel Baker in Barrington, Nova Scotia, will be opening up a telephone application process for those without a physician, where they are going to call in on October 21st, from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m., or until 75 patients are registered?
HON. RANDY DELOREY « » : Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for the question. The 811 system for tracking Nova Scotians who are looking to acquire a family physician or nurse practitioner to provide primary care services - this is the first time we've had a coordinated list to be able to see across the province where the demand is so that we can facilitate for physicians and others providing primary care services, who come into Nova Scotia to set up their practice, to facilitate that process. But again, if a physician was going to come to the province, people have said from one end of the province to the other that they want to give physicians flexibility. I think that is what this situation is referring to.
MS. ADAMS « » : Mr. Speaker, with all due respect, that didn't answer the question. Why is he drawing off his own list and not the 811 list? My constituents want to know, can they call and be seen? They are also desperate for a family doctor.
Once I saw the article, I actually called around to Doctors Nova Scotia, the Department of Health and Wellness, the Department of Family Practice, the 811 number and the Nova Scotia Health Authority's concern line for family practice, and no one was able to explain to me why this was happening. They also weren't able to explain to me how a community is defined.
Mr. Speaker, we register on the 811 list using civic address, and when the doctor sets up shop, they are going to call his community, but nobody can define community. Can the minister define for me a community and how people are drawn off geographically?
MR. DELOREY « » : First, I believe I had answered the first question, Mr. Speaker. When the member asked about the physician drawing their own list of people to draw from, what we've said about the 811 system is that that's a list being identified, so we can provide to support and facilitate the physicians and primary care providers to establish a roster of patients to match. We think that's a service that's very helpful. In this case, the physician clearly has decided that for his practice it would be preferable, for his individual situation, to draw from that list. With respect to providing the community a list, it is as the member mentioned, geographically based.
H&W - MS TREATMENT: TRAVEL - MIN. CLARIFY
HON. ALFIE MACLEOD « » : My question is to the Minister of Health and Wellness. Last week, during Question Period, I asked the minister about funding to help people living with MS travel to different appointments that they might have. The minister mistakenly mentioned a valuable program that assists people who have been diagnosed with cancer to travel away from home to get treatment and supplies.
My question to the minister, will the minister clarify that there is no program to help Nova Scotians with MS to travel to their appointments?
HON. RANDY DELOREY « » : I do thank the member for giving me the opportunity to make that clarification for the House as well. Indeed, the member is correct. The program that I referenced I believe is a limited program for cancer patients. That point was clarified for me by staff afterwards, so I apologize for that confusion. Again, I'm glad to have the opportunity to correct the record.
MR. MACLEOD « » : I thank the minister for the correction. As I mentioned last week, Canada has the highest rates of MS in the world, and Nova Scotia is very high. No Nova Scotian should be prevented from receiving the MS treatment they need because they can't afford to travel to appointments.
My question is, will the minister consider extending funding for MS patients, similar to what is available for Nova Scotians who have cancer?
MR. DELOREY « » : I thank the member for again raising this important issue on behalf of MS patients throughout the province. It's very important. But I think the underlying question perhaps goes beyond any particular patients in Nova Scotia who require specialized services and treatment that requires travel. There are policies about supports that are available for out-of-province services and so on. It's certainly something worth looking into as part of government policies with travel within province, when we do consider travel for specialized services outside of the province.
H&W - FIRST RESPONDERS: IN-PATIENT PTSD PROG. - UPDATE
HON. DAVID WILSON « » : My question is for the Minister of Health and Wellness. There are gaps in our health care system when it comes to treating complex PTSD cases that require in-patient care for military, first responders, and others. Medical practitioners and advocates have approached the government and the former Health and Wellness Minister about improving access to PTSD services in Nova Scotia. In-patient mental health care over the past number of years has been replaced with outpatient care programs. There is a high cost of out-of-province treatment which highlights the need for an in-patient care program here in Nova Scotia.
I would like to ask the minister, will the minister update the House on when first responders and others will be able to access an in-patient treatment program for PTSD in Nova Scotia?
HON. RANDY DELOREY « » : I thank the member for raising this question. Of course, as the member would know, Mr. Speaker, and you and all members know, I believe, mental health concerns including PTSD is a topic of concern for all of us. We brought legislation here about presumptive access to workers' compensation in this session, that all members are supportive of. Indeed, as a government, we're investing more into mental health supports and services for Nova Scotians. We will continue that work for all Nova Scotians.
With regard to in-patient services for PTSD sufferers, I know there are some requests out there about in-patient in Nova Scotia, but I believe actually the request that I'm familiar with talks more about Atlantic access as opposed to necessarily just Nova Scotia.
MR. DAVID WILSON « » : There are first responders who are receiving treatment outside Nova Scotia today, people like Mark Long, a 15-year veteran of the Halifax Police Force who was diagnosed with PTSD and who, as I said, is currently in Ontario. I have spoken with Mark over the last little while and he came forward with his case in hopes of improving how Nova Scotians with PTSD are treated and have access to service, Mr. Speaker. The province needs to take care of those who put themselves, body and mind, at risk when they go to work every day protecting us. We need to protect those who protect us.
So, I would like to ask the Premier, will the government commit to providing an in-patient treatment program here in Nova Scotia so Nova Scotians like Mark Young and others who are affected by PTSD can receive the treatment they need here in Nova Scotia?
THE PREMIER « » : Mr. Speaker, the honourable member would know this is an issue that was brought to this House many, many times and all of us are grateful for his previous profession, when he responded to the needs of Nova Scotians as a paramedic in the province. This issue is a very serious one. It's why we brought legislation to the floor that was, quite frankly, based on a piece of legislation the honourable member brought forward and was expanded in conversations with unions across the province to ensure we encompassed more first responders.
The honourable member, the Leader of the Official Opposition brought forward the issue around veterans and looking at PTSD around veterans. It's certainly an issue that we're looking at and seeing how we can provide a more comprehensive delivery model and around ensuring all of those who respond to the call of our country, or respond to the call of our families, on a daily basis, who are suffering from PTSD to get the treatment they can here at home.
We will continue to work with that and I'll make this pitch to you and we'll certainly make sure that you are continually involved in the conversations we continue to have as we provide that, a more comprehensive delivery service not only for those in the military, but those who respond to our families every day.
TIR - HWY 104 WEST. ALIGNMENT CORP.: REPORT - TIMELINE
MS. ELIZABETH SMITH-MCCROSSIN « » : Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal. Last week, the minister clearly told me that the Cobequid tolls will not be removed once the debt has been paid, that the tolls would be kept on for commercial traffic. I was elected to represent all the people of Cumberland North including the business owners who are paying a disproportionate amount of the revenue that's collected by these tolls, which is approximately $21 million a year. I've been patiently waiting for the financial reports from last year. They haven't been posted. My question to the Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal is when will the reports be made available to the public for the Highway 104 Western Alignment Corporation which manages the Cobequid Pass?
HON. LLOYD HINES « » : Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the question from the honourable member. The province is in a position, probably by 2019, to pay off the bonds associated with the Cobequid Pass. In terms of the current year, the annual general meeting occurred this week and I would expect that they would be forthcoming following approval by that body.
MS. SMITH-MCCROSSIN « » : Mr. Speaker, thank you to the minister for the answer. The minister also told me last week that he was not willing to increase the speed limit in the Wentworth Valley back to the normal rate of speed, because it was, "part of the deal" with the bond holders.
My question to the Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal is, can he provide proof of this deal, this contract, because in all my research I've never been able to find where it's clearly written that the speed limit can't be put back to what it's supposed to be. That portion of the highway has extra, I think, around 40 hours of extra police surveillance and the people of that area are tired of this unfair speed limit, to try to get people to use the pass.
My question to the minister, will he give proof that his department cannot legally put the speed limit back in the Wentworth Valley to what it is supposed to be?
MR. HINES « » : Mr. Speaker, I thank the member opposite for the question. I just want to say that the Highway 104 Western Alignment Corporation and the Cobequid Pass is a sterling example of the success of the P3 operation for all Nova Scotians and the biggest value that Nova Scotians have reaped from those wise decisions to correct that safety problem we had, avoiding the extreme safety problems that were on the old section of road, which I had the pleasure of travelling for many, many years. So, when you look at the success that has been associated with safety by reducing the speed limit on the old road, it's really hard to criticize what has happened there.
TIR: HWY. NO. 101 BRIDGE - REPAIR
MR. BRAD JOHNS « » : My question is also to the Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal. My office has received a number of calls in relation to the condition and lack of maintenance around provincial highways in the metro area. Residents are concerned about uneven road surfaces, potholes, and of course the damage those will bring to their vehicles.
Many constituents are particularly concerned about the state of the bridge located immediately off Highway No. 101 leading to Magazine Hill. The bridge has recently dropped a few inches below the road surface and is on a sharp turn. In addition to the questions about the integrity of the bridge itself, whenever there's ice buildup or inclement weather, it also brings serious consequences.
My question to the minister is, does the minister know when this specific bridge is going to be fixed, not just for the safety of the residents of Sackville and Beaver Bank but for everyone who uses it?
In Nova Scotia the department maintains 4,300 structures and 24,000 kilometres of highway. The most consistent and common complaint we have is about potholes, so we certainly do have lots of them across the province.
I'm so proud of the work that our 2,000 employees do every day to keep the integrity of our highways in the province.
MR. JOHNS « » : Mr. Speaker, by no means is this a criticism of the employees, who are hard-working. It's a criticism potentially of the government and what their priorities are around maintaining those roads.
I'm assuming there is a five-to-10-year capital plan that outlines and forecasts capital projects. I'm wondering whether or not the minister would be able to forward that, specific to the maintenance of the 100-Series Highways?
MR. HINES « » : Indeed there is a five-year capital plan which is currently being worked through. I think that if you haven't already been consulted, you will be consulted about your riding and what particular projects you see as a priority. We'll certainly forward that into the mix.
SNS - DRIVER'S LICENCES: ONTARIO FIRM - EXPLAIN
MR. ALLAN MACMASTER « » : I believe this question will be for the Minister of Service Nova Scotia. I hear we're getting new driver's licences. The new process is going to involve people going in. Of course, they have to take the test first, that's right. A person going in to renew their licence needs to go in the way they have always done, but now they're going to have to receive a temporary licence and wait to get their official one mailed to them.
I understand that the company that is processing these new licences is located in Ontario. My question to the minister is, has the government considered having these licences made here at home in Nova Scotia?
HON. GEOFF MACLELLAN « » : Mr. Speaker, I do thank the member for the question. This is important for public awareness, and the Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal is heavily involved as well. This was an Atlantic procurement, so it was done in consultation with our sister provinces.
Again, as the minister alluded to earlier this week, the critical nature of this is security. There are only certain technologies that are done, and this was obviously applied for by an open procurement. From my understanding, this Ontario firm that was the successful bidder was the optimal place, from a technology perspective and of course from a cost-savings perspective as well.
MR. MACMASTER « » : Atlantic procurement in Ontario - we in the Opposition would like to see it happen in Nova Scotia, but I'm not going to comment more on that at this point in time. I know sometimes the capacity may not be here. Perhaps it can come here at some point.
Another question on the same matter - these licences are supposed to have greater security features. This may be more of a question for the federal government, but I will ask it here. Is there a chance that these new licences can be used by Nova Scotians if they're wishing to cross the border into the United States? If the security features are enhanced, will there be any benefit to Nova Scotians in that regard?
MR. MACLELLAN « » : That is certainly an ongoing part of the conversation. When we look at Service Nova Scotia, some of our efforts to bring in new technologies really align our government functions and our government services with the digital age.
Part of the security is always the number-one priority, and it's the key with this particular licence as well. But when you look further, when we try to draw online all the services that Nova Scotians have through their health information, all their drivers' abstract, their drivers' information, and the wealth of services that Nova Scotia has, it becomes about having one central identification for each Nova Scotian - so security is part of that, and it's a big aspect of it.
We talked to our federal partners about what this means vis-à-vis passports, travelling over the border. It's all part of one overall decision to move towards that capability. So, it certainly is an ongoing discussion, but we would like to utilize our licence eventually to do just that, at Border Services.
BUS. - CANNABIS LEGALIZATION:
ECONOMIC IMPACT - ANALYSIS RESULTS
MS. CLAUDIA CHENDER « » : My question is for the Minister of Business. Since legalizing cannabis, Colorado and Washington have each collected hundreds of millions in state taxes. Here at home, a CIBC report is suggesting that Canada's federal and provincial governments could reap as much as $5 billion annually in tax revenues from legalization. This revenue could be used to offset health, education, enforcement, and other costs resulting from legalization.
That being said, we've heard very little from this government to date about the economic impact of legalizing cannabis here in Nova Scotia. So, I ask the minister, what economic analysis is his department undertaking to assess the legalization of cannabis, and when will this analysis be shared with the public?
HON. GEOFF MACLELLAN « » : Look, from our government's perspective, and from the national government as well, the key focal point is safety, and how we're going to do this when it comes online in 2018 is really the focal point in terms of how we're going to protect Nova Scotians, and all Canadians. We haven't done a deep-dive economic analysis at this point.
As we get into the discussions about how we're going to distribute, and how the laws are going to be shaped, and how the policy is going to work here in the province, we will have some of that information. But I think it's very troubling that there is a perception out there that this is going to be a cash windfall. But when you look at the ideas of enforcement, regulation, all the costs that are going to be associated, there's not going to be a billion dollars sitting in a briefcase at the end of this process. (Interruption) Or anywhere.
We have to make sure that we're giving accurate information to Nova Scotians to
ensure that they understand that the focal point is about safety. (Interruptions)
There will be significant demand for cannabis once it's legalized. A lack of local supply will create a number of issues, including missed business opportunities, ongoing dependence on the black market, and the concern that those who use cannabis for medicinal purposes, importantly, may not be able to access this medication once it's fully legalized.
There are only 35 licensed producers in the country - and zero in Nova Scotia. While there are two operations looking to get under way in Truro and Queens County, it's unclear how much of the province's demand will be met by production at these facilities, if they are indeed approved.
I ask the minister, with legalization of cannabis looming, what is he doing to allay concerns about lack of local supply that could result in lack of access for medicinal purposes, and an ongoing dependence on the black market?
HON. MARK FUREY « » : There are two separate discussions here; the stream that provides medicinal marijuana now will continue. We have engaged our federal colleagues around the issue of demand. We've also engaged with Health Canada to determine when Nova Scotia can anticipate announcements relative to producers in the Province of Nova Scotia.
MR. TIM HOUSTON « » : Mr. Speaker, it's a pleasure to rise today for a few minutes on the budget as we head into Supply here. As I look at many of these things happening in the province right now with the budget and some of the legislation that has come before this House, the term "bait and switch" comes to mind.
Bait and switch is a well-known, and in most cases illegal, advertising technique where you advertise one product but you actually deliver another. You might advertise some product at a low price, and when you go to the store there's a different one there.
There's lots of things happening in the province right now that remind me of the bait and switch. When I look at what's happening in the Education and Early Childhood Development portfolio, it's a bait and switch. The introduction of pre-Primary is a bait and switch away from all of the known issues that are happening in the P to 12 system - issues that caused teachers to go on strike last year, issues that cause families a tremendous amount of stress as they try to navigate an education system where there are proper supports for their children. They are trying to get the best for their children, and they are advocating for their children who are already in the P to 12 system.
What we've seen is a government that has said, we hear the issues in the system, we're concerned by the issues, and we're going to address the issues, but then turns around and introduces a pre-Primary program that is not a solution to the existing issues in the P to 12 system. So it's a bait and switch.
Even in Question Period today we heard about the various reports that are ongoing, the various reports that have been recently delivered. So we have those that have been delivered and those that will be delivered, and we wonder, quite rightfully, what will happen with them. What has really happened with the Freeman report, and what will happen with the report from the commission on inclusion? We don't know, Mr. Speaker, but we do know that the minister has said there's no money to deal with what will probably come out of those reports.
The minister was asked for a commitment to actually do what the commission on inclusion might say - will you actually do it, minister? Well, we'd like to, but we don't know if we have enough money for that, so we'll see what it says.
So you're doing a report, but you're acknowledging up front that you're probably not going to act on it. But a report buys time, and when you are on the government side, I guess the purchase of time is a good thing because it just kicks it down the road. Then maybe there will be another bait and switch that they can come up with. When that report comes out, they'll have something else to look at.
I often used to refer to this government as the government of manufactured chaos, because the government would oftentimes - and sadly, I'm sure we haven't seen the last of that approach - but would oftentimes manufacture some chaos. Whether it's a distraction away from something, it's hard for us to say, really. But we know that what is happening in education is not to the standard that most Nova Scotians expect, and it is certainly not from the people who are working so hard in the system. It's from the fact that they don't have the proper support from the government.
The government has opportunity to provide some supports. Government makes decisions. They make a decision - well, let's go with pre-Primary instead of supporting students, teachers, and families already in the system. It's just a distraction tactic.
We will wait and see what the government's intents are with the various commissions and reports they have for the education system. We will hope. We will remain optimistic, as cautious as it is - cautiously optimistic - that positive changes will come. I would hate to think - I feel it many times, and it saddens me greatly to think that the pre-Primary is one massive do-over. We have a number of kids in the education system, in P to 12, at various grades and stages in their education career, who are left now without the help and support that people thought would be coming after the labour strike - really thought the government had gotten it.
If the government's intention is, let's let that whole cohort get through the system and we'll start fresh with a group of 818 pre-Primaries, and we'll build going forward with those children, that would be pretty disheartening to me personally and certainly to the families in the system.
We don't know what the intention behind pre-Primary was, but we do know that when we ask about the intentions of pre-Primary, we're chastised. The minister will often say, oh, the member for Pictou East doesn't support kids because he doesn't support early education. Not true. But we have the right to ask questions about why. We have the right to ask questions about how. We have the right to ask questions about when.
That is the question: why now, when there are so many issues that this government had led people to believe they would address? I see it as a bait and switch.
We also see a bait and switch in health care, in many cases. We all know about the crisis in health care that's happening in this province. We all know, except maybe for the Minister of Health and Wellness and the Premier, who seem to be the last couple standing who won't acknowledge that there's a crisis in health care. There is. People can't get access to health care they need when they need it, and that is the very definition of a crisis.
We know there are, whatever statistic you care to believe, somewhere in the range of 100,000 Nova Scotians without a family doctor. Then we're faced with what I think is probably the biggest threat to our health care system, a system that is already in crisis. The biggest threat facing that system now is the federal tax changes. If enacted as proposed by the federal Liberal Government - by the way, unchallenged by our provincial Liberal Government - if they come to fruition, then we will lose doctors. Our health care will suffer. We will have many more tens of thousands of Nova Scotians without a doctor.
We know this has been building. Then we started to hear from the government that, well, people should call the 811 number and get their name on a list, and that's the way they'll get a doctor. Now, today, we're hearing of doctors in different parts of the province taking their own system of identifying patients - and the minister was on his feet today in Question Period saying that the 811 number was just kind of an FYI, in case somebody wanted to refer to it, I guess. It was just information gathering.
Today the statement around the 811 number is - first it was, you have to call and get on this list, and that's how you get a number; today it's kind of like, well, if you're on the list, that's good information for people - but not an ends to getting a doctor.
That's a bait and switch. We see this happening with this government all the time. Nova Scotians are smart. Nova Scotians understand what's happening. When you start playing with emotions around health care and education and stuff, it's not fair. It's done for political reasons - political tactics - and it's not fair. Someday we'd like to see that stop. The first step along that path might be for the Premier to admit that there's a crisis. Then we could kind of move forward with things.
If we look at what's happening in mental health, we know that mental health is a big concern for people in the province. The wait times are much, much too long. I don't have to look any further than the Aberdeen Hospital in Pictou County, where we had a short-stay mental health unit that was closed for temporary reasons - for temporary reasons until they can sort out some staffing issues. It may be a three-month closure was how it was advertised to the people of Pictou County. I think it has been roughly three years now, Mr. Speaker. There will not be another short-stay unit in Pictou County under this government. But again, it's the bait and switch - it's just a short closure. It's just a couple of months, and then, you're not having a short-stay unit.
We do know that there was money in the budget - I think $8.6 million - for the mental health system. We hope that that is deployed in such a way as to bring services to people who need and deserve them and bring people some comfort. So we'll see.
The doctor shortage won't be solved by a Premier who just accuses doctors of stashing money away and hoarding money. It just won't be solved that way. One of the reasons we have the doctor shortage, and it's so hard to recruit here is because of the lack of respect from the government. All of these things just feed into it. It just becomes Exhibit O, Exhibit P, Exhibit Q, and down the line because there are many, many, many examples of it.
There is a lot happening in the province right now. This will probably be a short session of the Legislature, but there is a lot happening around marijuana. There are so many unanswered questions. I don't know when they will be answered as we sit here now closing in on November. It will be legal on July 1st. All we know is that the government doesn't have any economic impact plan - that was made clear in Question Period today. We don't know that they have really assessed the ramifications on the health care system and on the mental health care system. We know that that work hasn't been done. The minister said in Question Period I think last week that the minister doesn't like some of the models that have been rolled out in some provinces. But he didn't say which provinces he didn't like. So there are many questions around that.
The only thing I can see that this government has done to prepare for marijuana is put a survey online. My colleague from Pictou West has brought that survey up a number of times and the lack of sophistication of that survey. In fact, the minister stood one day and said 22,000 Nova Scotians had filled out the survey, and the next day I think it was up to 27,000, and he again used the term "Nova Scotians." But the sad thing is, he actually has no way to know that that's not 10 people. That's what happens in the world of social media and the Internet now. Some person could write a program tonight that could fill that survey out 50,000 times overnight tonight. I'm sure if that happened, the minister would stand in his place tomorrow and say that 77,000 Nova Scotians had filled out the survey because he wouldn't know the difference.
Sometimes you have to know what you don't know. I don't think the minister fully appreciates what he doesn't know, both about technology and about the impact that this is going to have on our society. It's a bush league way to approach this. It's the most bush league way possible on such a serious issue. It's a shame that it won't be taken more seriously by this government.
We also have the cap and trade legislation. I asked my colleague from Northside-Westmount, do you think the provincial Liberals are trying to trick Trudeau, or are they trying to trick Nova Scotians? He said yes, yes. We know that this came about because the Liberal Prime Minister said, something is going to happen, for a talking point. Our former minister walked out of a meeting, made a big show of saying, I'm not standing for this, we're not standing for this. Then the next thing you know, there's a little deal done. But if it's not going to reduce emissions, and it's not going to cost Nova Scotians anything - because the Premier says it won't touch the pocketbooks of Nova Scotians - what is it going to do? I would suggest that it's only there to trick the Prime Minister or us.
On this side of the House, we're not tricked by it. We won't be fooled into believing that this is the answer to global warming. We won't be fooled into thinking that this is some magic secret solution that only the brilliance of this government could devise. We know it will impact the pocketbooks of Nova Scotians and we're just waiting for the government to catch up and figure out the same thing and maybe give us some information as to how.
With those few words, I will take my seat. Thank you.
[3:05 p.m. The House resolved into a CW on Supply with Deputy Speaker Mr. Chuck Porter in the Chair.]
[7:15 p.m. CW on Supply rose and the House reconvened. Mr. Speaker, Hon. Kevin Murphy, resumed the Chair.]
PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING
Bill No. 29 - Marine Renewable-energy Act.
Mr. Speaker, on October 5th, government introduced amendments to the Marine Renewable-energy Act. This Act governs tidal energy development in the Bay of Fundy and Bras d'Or Lake. Nova Scotia is a world leader in tidal energy development. This industry has enormous potential for our province as a clean, renewable source of energy and as a way to create jobs and opportunities, especially in rural Nova Scotia. Our knowledge and experience with tidal energy is something that is in demand and we can export it to markets around the world.
Mr. Speaker, our leadership in clean, renewable tidal energy development is a direct result of our ocean advantage. Across Canada the ocean economy contributes just under 2 per cent of our overall economy, even though we have one of the longest ocean coastlines in the world. It is predicted that the global ocean technology and economy will double in the next 15 years. As one of the largest ocean nations, this is Canada's moment to take part in global ocean economic growth.
Mr. Speaker, for Nova Scotia and Atlantic Canada, the ocean is more than an asset; it's our competitive advantage. It is something we can unite around to create growth and attract investment from the federal government and from the private sector. In Nova Scotia, we have a vision to make the most of our ocean advantage. Government has supported the tidal energy sector by funding research efforts. We've provided capital for infrastructure, we've created a regulatory regime that includes feed-in tariffs for small- and large-scale projects. In total, this support represents hundreds of millions of dollars invested both directly and indirectly by Nova Scotians. The federal government and private sector have also contributed significantly. They recognize the unique opportunity we have to continue to be a global leader in tidal.
As all of us in the Legislature likely know, the Bay of Fundy has the highest tides in the world. These tides reach as high as a five-storey building. Twice each day, 160 billion tons of seawater flows in and out of our bay. That's more than the combined flow of the world's freshwater rivers put together. The bay contains roughly 7,500 megawatts of potential power. That's enough energy to power about 2.5 million homes, or all of Atlantic Canada. It's a staggering resource, Mr. Speaker. If we can build a reliable and cost-competitive turbine here, we know it can work anywhere.
Tidal energy is also reliable. Unlike other sources of renewables, the tides are very much predictable. We know what output will be today, tomorrow, next year, and 100 years from now. That makes it easier to plan and integrate tidal energy into our power grid. Between the resource potential and Nova Scotia's world-class supply chain, the attraction to the Bay of Fundy is very clear.
Mr. Speaker, we know developers from across the country and the world are eager to enter into our waters. Marine Renewables Canada has 90 members who have already shown a very keen interest in the Bay of Fundy. We also have companies like Big Moon who are on deck, waiting for the chance to bring their idea to market. This is about being responsive to the needs of our developers. If a business plan has an idea to make tidal energy work in the Bay of Fundy at a lower cost, then of course we want to demonstrate that.
Mr. Speaker, it was 10 years ago when Nova Scotia and New Brunswick first conducted a strategic environmental assessment for tidal in the Bay of Fundy. That led to the creation of the Fundy Ocean Research Centre for Energy, also called FORCE. FORCE is a demonstration facility that connects tidal turbines from the sea floor to the power grid. In a few short years, FORCE has become a tremendous success. It has spurred nearly $100 million in development activity involving more than 250 Canadian companies. FORCE was created to explore whether in-stream tidal energy can be safe and of course viable. They've developed leading-edge sensor platforms, they conduct fish surveys, marine mammal monitoring, sea bird surveys, beach surveys, and marine noise surveys as well.
Since the creation of FORCE, our journey has included Mi'kmaq ecological knowledge studies in 2009 and once again in 2012, the creation of the Marine Renewable Energy Strategy in 2012, feed-in tariff rates set by the URB in 2013, and open houses at the FORCE site in 2015. It also includes research and studies such as the Value Proposition for Tidal Energy Development in Nova Scotia, Atlantic Canada and Canada study of 2015, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans scientific report on FORCE's planned marine monitoring program in 2016, and the Nova Scotia Tidal Research Summary Report by Dr. Graham Daborn in 2016.
Mr. Speaker, we have built up a tremendous body of knowledge. Literally hundreds of studies and research activities have taken place in our Bay of Fundy and all of that effort is starting to pay off for Nova Scotians. Already, tidal energy has launched new companies, created new jobs and many of those are for young people. This industry has attracted hundreds of millions of dollars in investment for projects, research, and development. By some estimates, this sector could add $1.7 billion to Nova Scotia's economy over the next two decades.
In November 2016, we reached a major milestone. Cape Sharp Tidal successfully flipped the switch and deployed the first grid-connected, in-stream tidal turbine at FORCE. The company estimates that through tidal, it will be able to eliminate 6,000 tons of greenhouse gas emissions. That's like taking 1,000 cars off our roads each year. This is a project that has awarded $33 million in contracts to 125 Nova Scotia companies. That's hundreds of jobs and plenty of reason to be optimistic about our province's energy future.
Still, we are moving very carefully and incrementally as we learn about conditions in the Bay of Fundy. The sustainability of marine life and the fishery, of course, is critical. We will continue to make evidence-based decisions as we move forward. We will do this because that's what Nova Scotians want. Thanks to the work of FORCE, Cape Sharp Tidal, and other berth holders, we continue to see significant and broad community support for tidal development.
We've consulted with Nova Scotians and they have been clear and consistent about what they think of tidal development and it has a significant place in the province's energy mix. Overall, support for tidal remains extremely high. Nova Scotians know it means clean, renewable energy and jobs in our rural areas. It also positions Nova Scotia as a world leader in this critical developing industry. We are pleased to be collaborating with France and the United Kingdom to support the development in this new renewable energy source and, together, we are finding solutions to the challenges that remain.
We know to commercialize this industry the cost has to come down and that's what these amendments this evening are all about. We're giving industry the tools they need to prove their innovations work. We're being responsive to the needs of the private sector. If successful, we collaborate and develop local expertise, we have the chance to create a world-class supply chain right here in this beautiful province.
Our objective is to become to tidal energy what Denmark currently is to wind energy. We have worked hard and we have learned a lot over the last decade. We've achieved many firsts and we've enjoyed tremendous success. However, we need to continue to invest, to learn, and to grow. That's how we maintain our competitive advantage in this rapidly-developing and very competitive sector.
These new amendments are creating a new pathway to develop these turbines. The amendments will allow us to create a tidal demonstration permit system. These permits will allow companies to create projects up to five megawatts in size. A total of 10 megawatts will be available to developers. Permits can last up to five years. They could also be renewed for up to five years to a maximum total of 18 years. That would give companies the ability to sell the electricity that they generate at a lower price than at the current developmental tidal feed-in tariff level. This will foster innovation by allowing industry to assess new, lower-cost devices without long-term commitments and without driving up power rates.
Technology is evolving, and change is moving rapidly in this very important industry. Companies are developing new ideas and they need pathways to demonstrate their projects, and their concepts. Our job is to foster innovation, not stand in its way.
That's what will drive down these costs and make tidal electricity more competitive with other renewable sources. These amendments give developers the chance to prove they can safely generate electricity for a lower price. And always, protection of the environment, and marine life, remains paramount.
As I've said earlier, we've developed a tremendous body of knowledge. To date, more than $15 million in research activity has been conducted, encompassing over 110 studies, reviews, and reports on tidal energy.
Tidal monitoring efforts are extensive, and will continue. But, as I've said, the technology is changing, and it's changing rapidly. Devices are getting smaller and lighter. We expect the new ideas that will come forward will have less of an impact on their surroundings. Plus, we will have the same environmental safeguards today, as we did yesterday. Any device 2 megawatts or larger, will have to go through a full environmental assessment. We already require insurance and security from developers, and that will not change.
At the same time, we can't lose sight of the bigger picture. Tidal energy has the potential to be an enormous net benefit to the environment, and to Canada's climate change objectives. Nova Scotia, like most jurisdictions, understands that energy strategy needs to adapt, and it needs to change. We need cleaner solutions and sources of that energy. We can't simply keep emitting greenhouse gases, the way we've done for so many years.
We've become more efficient in how we use our carbon in our economy, and that is the way we do it here in Nova Scotia. We've reached an agreement in principle, with the federal government. It recognizes Nova Scotia's leadership, investments, and early successes in achieving significant emission reductions.
Tidal energy is one of those investments, and it has the potential to reduce our emissions even further. We fought for the flexibility to protect the pocketbooks of industry and of our ratepayers, while focusing on outcomes with real, and achievable reductions. Part of our climate-change strategy is electrifying Nova Scotia. As we increase the amount of renewables in our system, like tidal power, electricity becomes a cleaner source of energy.
We are a national leader in greenhouse gas emissions. We've already met the national target of reducing emissions 30 per cent below our 2005 levels, and we are on track to achieve a reduction of more than 40 per cent, by 2030.
We met our legislated target, of generating 25 per cent of our electricity from renewable sources by 2015, and now we're on track to exceed our target of having 40 per cent renewable electricity by 2020.
We are second in Canada in terms of percentage of electricity generated by wind. Thanks to Nova Scotians, we are more efficient, and have reduced our electricity use faster than any other Canadian province, 1.2 per cent per year.
We've also launched a new solar program, to help Mi'kmaq First Nations, non-profits, municipalities, and post-secondary schools, be a part of our cleaner energy future. We've worked with the Mi'kmaq for years. Today, the Mi'kmaq are producing more electricity from wind than they use in their communities. Our Mi'kmaq communities are making their homes more efficient through a collaboration with Efficiency Nova Scotia.
Our efforts have been focused on reducing emissions from the electricity sector, because that's our largest source of greenhouse gas emissions. Nova Scotia has made a significant investment in renewable energy, and we should be proud of the results we have achieved together. Just imagine what we will achieve when the costs come down, and, if you'll pardon the pun, tidal energy becomes mainstream.
In closing, this is an exciting time for the development of clean, renewable energy. These ideas will be demonstrated, and proven, in Nova Scotia's waters, and could change the entire globe's energy future.
As a world leader in development of tidal energy technology, we have an opportunity to build an industry that benefits all Nova Scotians, and brings more, clean, renewable energy to the world. With that, I close, and I look forward to the comments from the Opposition.
MR. ALLAN MACMASTER « » : Mr. Speaker, if there is anything that holds promise in this province, it's marine renewable energy. We're surrounded by the ocean, I think we have 2,200 kilometres of ocean frontage in the province and we have something beyond even ocean frontage, we have tides that are the highest in the world.
This summer I took the opportunity to visit the Valley, went down past Digby, down to Petit Passage. Along the way, I stopped at Annapolis Tidal Station and had a tour of the operation there, I learned more about how that works. It's amazing how many of these projects have already been developed over the years. I've also visited the power station in Wreck Cove in Cape Breton, where the water comes from the Highlands and it rushes down through the rock, and the power is harnessed there. It's impressive. In fact, you feel like you're in a James Bond movie when you're in some of these places and you're waiting for the red lights to start flashing and people being instructed to run around in chaos pretending they're starting to set off a bomb or something.
They're unique places and it's amazing the engineering that has gone into some of these projects that we have, that are powering the province as we know it today. Maybe the future holds more promise, maybe there is some kind of technology that will be developed here in this province that will make a contribution to our energy needs, and maybe that technology can be expanded around the world to contribute to the world's need for energy. The need for energy is constantly growing and we're constantly putting more and more strain on our planet.
I know when I visited Wreck Cove, I remember them telling me there's no way to build this today, they'd never get the environmental approvals for it. But it is built and it's generating renewable energy and I guess we could say that nature has become one with it, and anything that has been changed has been changed, and things are the way they are. The same is true in Annapolis; that project probably would never go ahead today. I remember them saying that, when you think about it, they were draining all of the salt water out of the basin and if you do that, obviously, you change things dramatically because any of the wildlife that had existed in that saltwater can no longer exist there. Years ago, they recognized the impact on the environment and they actually went back and made changes to restore the passage of the water and also to restore some of the water levels.
These projects have significant impact on the environment. The projects we're looking at here and we're hearing about, that are tidal in nature, they can have impact as well. We're hopeful that efficiencies will be developed and maybe right here in Nova Scotia, to make accessing this renewable energy less intensive on the environment and more extensive in terms of energy generated from them.
I also went down and saw the site of Petit Passage. It's a beautiful area, I remember driving down. I kind of felt like I was on the Cabot Trail for a little bit. I came down right to the water where the ferry goes across and, basically, I looked across the Passage and it wasn't that it's big but - it's not very big. I know the fishermen there are concerned that if there is a site developed there, it's going to cut the Passage almost in half, at least from my untrained eye that's what it appeared to be.
We can understand their concerns, because they're using that strait. We also know that it's probably one of the most prime areas in the province to see a whale, and we have that in my constituency in Cheticamp and in Pleasant Bay off the coast; you have a great opportunity to see whales. If technology is being introduced into an area that's sensitive like that, we can see why people are concerned.
I'd like to mention that because I have an interest in this and I am the Energy Critic and I'm supposed to have an interest in this. I do feel there is some legitimate possibility for us to do something special in this province.
As I've said, and I think I said it the other night, if a few dollars are thrown at this type of initiative, I think that if we're going to throw money at anything, something like this is probably worth throwing it at because the implications if something is successful could be significant.
Now when I think about who is paying for it, I think about Nova Scotians and I also think maybe the province and the taxpayer and the people who are paying their power bills who are using this power, who are paying a premium for it, should have some kind of an equity stake in that. Now I know we would have it anyway, in terms of if technology is developed here maybe our power becomes cheaper, maybe we get the return that way; maybe the technology is developed here and creates jobs; maybe we get some return that way. I think about that and I often think government doesn't - we see it with Nova Scotia Business Inc. I don't know if it still exists now or not, I'm starting to forget.
I know there have been significant changes in the way government is funding business now, but I know that they've taken an equity stake in certain projects and I don't think that's a bad thing because if the taxpayer is taking the risk, and in this case paying higher for their power, I think there should be some benefit back to the taxpayer.
Mr. Speaker, I think about the cost. I know this government ended the COMFIT program which, to me, I could never understand that program. The only purpose I think it served was to promote renewable energy, to get community groups involved and tantalized with the subsidy. I don't think it was a good program and I'll tell you why - if the goal was to create and put more renewable energy onto the grid, we could have purchased a lot more renewable energy for the same price, so I don't really know what the goal of that program was.
I don't like it myself. I will say that there are many people who benefited from it - and some of them even in my own constituency so I don't like to say too much - but if we're looking at things full circle, I think that the COMFIT program, I think it would have been better, if the province's goal was to add renewable energy onto the grid, it would have been better to be doing that in a more straightforward way.
Mr. Speaker, I know the government is talking about doing something with solar for community buildings. I have some concern that that could turn into the same thing as COMFIT. Nothing wrong with solar on community buildings but, again, if the goal is to add more renewable energy for the best price, maybe there's a more straightforward way of doing that. The government says there's going to be competitive bids and that's how it's going to differ from COMFIT, so we'll see about that.
At the end of the day the power based in this, what we will possibly be unlocking with this legislation is going to come at a cost of 53 cents per kilowatt hour. That is very expensive when you consider that coal, I think, is still at about 4.5 cents or 5 cents per kilowatt hour and the blended rate that we see on our power bills is I think about 12 or 13 cents - I should know that, I pay for power myself. I know that it increased significantly in the last number of years; we all know that and we all know why.
Mr. Speaker, Nova Scotians are paying for this. I don't take these decisions lightly, nor do I think any of us should. So, 53 cents per kilowatt hour is significant. I know that the volume of power that's at stake here is small. But back to the tidal station in Annapolis - for such a significant operation it's hard to believe that it only generates about 20 megawatts of power. I remember asking them, couldn't you replicate this along the Basin? The answer was no, you couldn't, because gradually you'd start to weaken the flow of the water. But I think of a site as significant as that, and also of Wreck Cove as significant as well, yet when you look in the big picture they are generating a very small percentage of power for Nova Scotians. These projects are ambitious and they work, but even with them, we are going to be limited in how much renewable energy we can realistically put on the grid.
I know some people would like to get rid of coal tomorrow. Some people wouldn't. But if we did get rid of coal tomorrow, there's no way we could replace that energy immediately. I remember asking the question here - and I always like to bring it up again, because it struck me funny - I remember asking the Minister of Energy - this was years ago now - how many windmills it would take to power the papermill in Point Tupper. It would take over 700 windmills.
I made the point - and of course the minister was probably wondering why in the heck I was asking that, and he had no idea what the answer was. But my point was that you would have to have three windmills per kilometre between here and the causeway to power the mill, which is kind of ridiculous.
It puts it into perspective, Mr. Speaker. We can't come off some of these fossil fuels tomorrow, and for anybody to suggest that we could is ridiculous. Maybe in time. Maybe.
I guess the alternative is that we could stop making paper in Point Tupper. We could discontinue that economic activity. But that puts a lot of bread on the table for people, and it also pays for a lot of social programs. It's responsible for a lot of exports - export dollars that our province takes in.
Those are some of the things I think about. I think this legislation is something that we will be supporting. If I may say, I hope that marine renewable energy becomes a more significant feature in our supply of energy in the province, and hopefully this legislation will play some role in that.
MS. LISA ROBERTS « » : I'm pleased to rise to speak to Bill No. 29, the Marine Renewable-energy Act, amended. The NDP supports sustainable tidal energy development, and really, this Party always has. That's why, while in government, the NDP invested in the FORCE site and introduced the Marine Renewable Energy strategy, so that the province would have a plan to sustainably maximize our natural advantage provided by the Fundy tides.
My own perspective on this - I have two very distinct memories in my mind. One is of conversations on doorsteps in Halifax Needham, where a good number of young, engaged, intelligent folks have found work that they're really excited about in Nova Scotia. That is too rare an occurrence in this province. That's a big challenge for people my age and younger. A lot of people in Nova Scotia are struggling to fully utilize their talents, to find space and opportunity and freedom to fully deploy their gifts. I think that's part of the reason why we see so many craft breweries around the province, because gosh, what are you going to do? You've got to create something. I remember hearing an interview just this week with a woman who's a mechanical engineer, and she opened a craft brewery because she didn't want to leave Nova Scotia. Good for us all.
Well, the tidal industry and tidal development is one of those few industries in Nova Scotia right now that is growing and employing young people and engineers to actually do engineering work. That's exciting.
So that's one image I have in my mind. I know that there are other young people working in other constituencies around the city and elsewhere in the province who are very excited to see this sector grow.
The other image I have is of the Digby wharf. I had the opportunity to sit there and look at the dozens upon dozens upon dozens of lobster boats. Some of them are represented by the Bay of Fundy and Truro fishers who of course have raised concerns about FORCE and about the insufficient baseline data related to how fish previously moved through those waters before these large tidal turbines went in at the five or six - I should know that - berths of the FORCE site.
I think it's really important for me as an NDP MLA, as one of a small and mighty caucus of seven that no longer has Sterling Belliveau here to embody all of the knowledge and all of the perspective that comes from rural Nova Scotia, to hold on to the same sensitivity to the different ways that some of these opportunities are viewed.
The lobster industry, as the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture loves to talk about, has grown, and its values and exports are just incredible. A lot of that is as a result of better marketing and better packaging. But it's all based on thousands of lobster licence holders who have invested $700 million, some of them, to buy that licence going out on thousands of boats and fishing, including in the Bay of Fundy. Even if they fish elsewhere, that lucrative and important environment is part of what makes up the ecosystem of the Nova Scotia lobster fishery. Those are the images that I have in my mind as I think about this bill.
By and large, I'm excited about this and excited to hear about it more in Law Amendments Committee. I say that in part because I have heard about Big Moon Power from some of the folks attached to those fishing boats and from some of those folks attached to those really high-end engineering jobs. People are widely excited about the idea of harnessing tidal energy in a different way, in a less intrusive way, a way that has less impact on our environment.
I don't know if I should even attempt to explain it, but it's really simple. It's like a barge. Imagine if, instead of a barge with a sail, the sail goes down into the water. It just moves back and forth with the tides, and there's a super-strong high-tension wire that goes to basically the middle of a windmill turbine. It rolls out, and it rolls back up as the tides go in and out. We know about the force of those tides. Picture one of them, and every time that thing in the middle moves, it generates electricity. Other than a brief moment when the tide is turning, it produces energy consistently. You can imagine that multiplied. It moves at the same speed as the surface water does, so not super fast, and on the surface of the water, not down where we don't really know what the impact on the environment, other fish species, and the general ecosystem could be.
People are excited about Big Moon Power, and I certainly think we need Nova Scotia to create the space where someone with a great idea that appears to work in prototypes can fully deploy it and see how it works. That is what I understand the point of this bill to be.
A question that I hope might get explored a little bit in Law Amendments Committee is why, to my reading, this bill seems to only allow capacity for one company. Because of the limits in terms of megawatts on this bill, it seems to me like it's very specifically designed for one idea, and I always think that's a little bit dangerous in terms of legislation. At the same time, we want to be trying something and we don't want to be opening it up to anything.
I will look forward to hearing more about that and I do think that we're at the point where something other than just forests should be allowed to go forward. While testing this technology is important, I also think it's really important for this government to build good relationships and where relationships have been strained to try to repair some of those relationships. That involves communicating, stepping back, and being ready to listen and maybe even change tack with some groups who had legitimate concerns as were outlined in some scientific studies that showed there wasn't sufficient baseline data to be able to really judge the impacts on the environment of the forests' birth sites.
Yes, Big Moon technology seems far less intrusive than a 300-ton tidal turbine. In fact, you can buy all the parts for this off the shelf and some of the shelves are Nova Scotian companies and I think it's super cool that a guy, who had to recover from an illness, spent a lot of time watching the tide go in and the tide go out and thought, hey, maybe I could actually harness this somehow - just the way I'm looking at it.
I'm excited to see what will happen next, including what we'll hear next at the Committee on Law Amendments. Thank you.
What I understand is that it's a very non-intrusive way of getting electricity. All of the major components are on land, the cable stretches out into the water, and the sail which sits down in the water is pulled by the tide. It would operate whether it was a strong tide or weak tide. You just build the sail bigger if it's weak tide and even a three-knot tide would work.
I'm very in favour of seeing that technology, which I know in the tests they had seals sitting right on the barge, so the possibility of not really having to do anything in the water except float a device which is steerable is a very promising type of technology. I'm very pleased to see the government going forward with Big Moon and supporting that endeavour.
The honourable Minister of Energy.
HON. GEOFF MACLELLAN « » : Mr. Speaker, I thank my honourable colleagues across the way for their comments. To the point about Big Moon and the new technology, they are a factor. The fact that they are - to the last member who spoke - an interrupter in this technology, they're bringing in a new way to do this and a new way to consider how we harness tidal. There will be other players as well, and just with the announcement of this pending legislation, new entrants are looking at how they get here and access our tidal capabilities. It is a good start for sure and we're going to get there.
I do thank the members opposite for their comments and we look forward to the Committee on Law Amendments and closing out this bill.
With that, I move second reading on Bill No. 29.
The motion is carried.
Ordered that this bill be referred to the Committee on Law Amendments.
The honourable Government House Leader.
Bill No. 27 - Intimate Images and Cyber-protection Act.
I am extremely pleased, Mr. Speaker, to have the opportunity to outline the details of this important legislation. This Act is about preventing and responding to areas of harm, sharing intimate images without consent, and cyberbullying, while at the same time upholding and protecting our fundamental freedom of expression.
This bill does not replace the criminal law, in fact it complements it and will be one more tool for victims to address these serious harms. Our province has been a leader in addressing the issues of cyberbullying. Nova Scotia was the first province in the country to introduce legislation to protect its citizens from the harmful impacts of cyberbullying.
All members of this House will remember the cyberbullying tragedy that resulted in the death of Rehtaeh Parsons, a young and vibrant Nova Scotian. Her death prompted many changes in how we respond to cyberbullying. Rehtaeh and her family are in our thoughts as we speak about this new Act this evening.
Mr. Speaker, as all members of this House know, I would not be here today if the original piece of legislation, the Cyber-Safety Act, was not struck down. While it was well-intended and helped free many Nova Scotians from the harms of cyberbullying, the Supreme Court ruled that it contravened the Charter of Rights and Freedoms by infringing on freedom of expression and violating the principles of fundamental justice by failing to provide notice to respondents. That's why it was so important that we introduce a piece of legislation that protects victims of cyberbullying while preserving our fundamental freedoms.
Our department carefully examined the Supreme Court decision and conducted a series of targeted consultations with cyberbullying and legal experts, including academics, Victims Services, lawyers, police, and the CyberSCAN staff. We also heard from impacted groups through a series of focus groups with victims and their families, as well as some members of the public. What we heard was critical feedback that helped shape this bill.
Mr. Speaker, the Intimate Images and Cyber-protection Act will deal with two key items, as the name suggests - cyberbullying and distributing intimate images without consent. The Act will allow a victim or their parents to go to court for a protective order or financial compensation. Some examples include an order for them to stop or take down a web page, or prohibit further contact with the victim, a referral to dispute resolution with the Cyber-SCAN unit, or an order to pay damages.
Mr. Speaker, the definition of cyberbullying is narrower than the previous bill. It covers communication that causes or is likely to cause harm to someone's health or well-being, and it responds to the courts' concerns that the previous definition was too broad. People can be held responsible if they maliciously intend to cause harm or were reckless with regard to the risk of harm to someone's health or well-being.
Mr. Speaker, we are all aware of the rapid growth of smart phones, social media, and online activity. Bullying today goes far beyond the playground, campus, or workplace. It can be online and quickly in the hands of many, where it remains for 24 hours of the day - the victim has no escape.
Mr. Speaker, our CyberSCAN Unit which was put in place under the previous bill dealt with hundreds of cases of cyberbullying and their feedback helped identify the various types of cyberbullying Nova Scotians have faced and continue to experience. There have been instances where cyberbullies impersonate the victim by creating a fake online profile in their name, sharing intimate images without consent to networks and posting content that is extremely hurtful to the victim. This activity does not just result in embarrassment, it can result in the deterioration of their mental well-being.
Cyberbullying can also include making false allegations, threats, intimidation and communication that is grossly offensive or indecent. Victims of cyberbullying may also experience someone sharing their personal information with others, in most cases information that had previously been shared in a trusted relationship that ended, the cyberbully shares the information or photo to cause harm.
Mr. Speaker, the bill addresses the distribution of intimate images without consent and it also includes images and videos where the person recorded had a reasonable expectation of privacy. This behaviour is extremely harmful; it can result in psychological damages and tragic circumstances.
This bill also gives power to the CyberSCAN Unit to advise, assist, and help resolve disputes but removes the unit's previous authority to investigate and commence legal action.
Mr. Speaker, I want to touch on this based on some of the questions we received during the bill briefing. The questions were in relation to costs associated with going to court. We understand there is a cost associated with going to court; that has not been lost on us throughout our discussions. I do want to touch on what we have learned through past experiences though.
Before the Act was struck down, CyberSCAN investigated over 800 cases and, of those, ten cases went to court and, of the ten that did go to court, none involved youth. It is our intention to continue with prevention efforts including educating Nova Scotians on the harmful impacts of cyberbullying. We will also continue to utilize the restorative approaches including mediation and negotiation through the CyberSCAN Unit. We do not want people to have to go to court but it is a victim-driven tool available if they want to go that route. CyberSCAN has played a major role in educating our youth on the harms of cyberbullying. Since 2013, they've conducted over 900 presentations in our schools. We're confident CyberSCAN will continue to serve an important role through education and helping resolve disputes.
The unit has become our resident experts on cyberbullying at the department. They have heard first-hand from hundreds of Nova Scotians who have directly or indirectly experienced cyberbullying, and had done excellent work to provide them with the advice on how to protect themselves online and to better understand the harms of malicious online activity. In addition to their ability to help resolve incidents, CyberSCAN has become a recognized and reliable unit. They have established strong networks across the country, including relationships with social networks like Twitter and Facebook. They know how to help victims to engage with those platforms to remove the harmful content.
Another question that was raised - will it be too difficult for a victim to prove to the court the online behaviour is malicious? The Act outlines factors that the court must consider. Some of those include the manner of the online behaviour, the nature and extent of harm that is caused, and the extent of the distribution. The decision by the court will be evidence-based and the Supreme Court is well positioned to make decisions that balance public safety with fundamental freedoms.
I know I mentioned Rehtaeh Parsons earlier. Members of this House will remember that Ms. Parsons' death prompted the independent review of the police and the Public Prosecution Service response by Murray Segal. I'd like to touch on the Segal report momentarily as it relates to this bill. The report outlines 17 recommendations to improve responses by police, the Public Prosecution Service, the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development, and the justice system to address cases of sexualized violence and cyberbullying of young persons.
I'm pleased to report that 16 recommendations are complete and the final recommendation, which involved how CyberSCAN and police work to resolve complaints will be addressed once this bill has passed. In the report, Mr. Segal also recognized Nova Scotia for its leadership in addressing cyberbullying and I'd like to read a quote from the report. "The Cyber-safety Act, . . . and the related CyberSCAN investigative unit are the most novel and directly responsive solutions to what was arguably the most time-critical aspect of Rehtaeh's torment: getting ahead of the damaging photograph that was circulating like wild-fire among her peers."
I'm also pleased that in spite of our challenges with the original Act we were able to introduce this new bill. As mentioned, we heard from many experts and impacted groups while drafting this legislation and their feedback was critical to get us to where we are today, but we're also looking forward to further feedback through the Law Amendments Committee.
Cyberbullying impacts Nova Scotians of all ages. That's why it's important that we take the time to hear from all of them. We see the success of hearing from Nova Scotians at the Law Amendments Committee on the Accessibility Act and we believe it's an effective way to further develop sound policy for our province.
We will have special sittings of the Law Amendments Committee into the Fall with plans to pass the bill this Spring and I'll address questions regarding this approach and why we're waiting. The original Act was brought in quickly and for good reason. It was well- intended. It received all-Party support and I acknowledge that. It's an important point to make because I know that all members in this House understand the harms of cyberbullying and genuinely want to find a solution. (Applause)
I'm confident that Nova Scotians will be supportive when we pass legislation that we believe is constitutional and will continue to protect victims of cyberbullying for years to come.
Technology is rapidly changing around us. Within months of buying an innovative piece of technology, there is something more innovative and advanced on the market. We know all of this can have an impact on the use of social media and those who abuse it. That's why it's important that we keep this legislation current and effective.
There is a mandatory five-year review embedded in the bill. That does not prevent us from making changes before then. As I mentioned, we are the only province with this type of legislation. The country is watching as we bring this bill forward.
After we pass this legislation, I believe other jurisdictions will be encouraged to do the same. If other provinces and territories include different elements that become best practices, we will make amendments to ensure that we have a law that protects victims the best way possible while balancing our fundamental freedoms.
With those comments, I look forward to comments from my colleagues.
MS. KARLA MACFARLANE « » : Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the minister for his comments. A lot of words of wisdom and encouragement there with regard to this bill. I think we're all very pleased to see it come back to the House.
We all know that the Cyber-safety Act was the first of its kind in the country. Unfortunately, though, it was born out of tragedy. It was well-intentioned, and in an effort to protect our kids and prevent more tragedies in our province, I think the previous bill went a little too far. The court ruled that the definition of cyberbullying was dramatically broad, and that the process was perhaps unfair to some of the accused or potential offenders.
This bill appears to have fixed those problems. I commend the minister and his department for doing that. That is a good thing, and a step in the right direction. I think we all know that there have been several reports and many investigations, and many recommendations have been made, and now we have this bill to consider.
As members of this House, we now have to decide if this bill is a good one. I think it is a good one. I think that we're totally headed in the right direction. I was happy to hear the minister indicate that, if there's something down the road that we have to add to it, that we learn from other provinces, we would be open to that. I think that's always extremely important.
The Department of Justice has indicated that the bill is to empower the victim and to make sure that they have courage to come forward and to believe in the justice system. Once again, as human beings, we should always encourage those who have been affected to come forward and have the courage to believe that the resources are there for them.
Many of us know of someone, whether a child, a youth, or an adult, who has been cyberbullied. Sadly, many of us have been very close to a situation that has left us bewildered as to how humanity can be so cruel at times. Why? Why, why, why?
In many cases the end result is fatal, leaving many families with nothing but perpetual chronic grief and unanswered questions. Victims of bullying absolutely have lifelong scars that never really heal, and some victims will eventually endure anxiety, insecurity, loss of trust, PTSD, or other clinically-diagnosed mental health issues.
A number of years ago I was able to take in a young man, in his 20s, who had a lot of issues. He had been bullied his whole life - not just from his peers, but from, unfortunately, his immediate family. He struggled and he was such a bright young man.
When I took him in, he was able to stay with us. He stayed with us for a little over a month - it was just a couple of years ago, actually - and unfortunately, he took his life last year. Again, he needed help and we couldn't get the resources to help him. It wasn't the first time he had attempted suicide, but I really thought he was on the right track, but 29 and he was still being bullied. It's very sad to see anyone in that kind of situation and not feel that there's anyone there to help them, that they are just continuously spiralling down that rabbit hole.
I really considered him family because he really had no other family that he considered family. A lot of people said to me, you are nuts taking him in because he had been in jail and he had been in a lot of trouble, but the way my house was set up I was able to keep him from being with my children and I have no regrets, I have no regrets.
It's not a story that I share a lot. I know a lot of the locals knew that he stayed with me for quite some time. A lot of them thought, why, you have two young kids. But it was really a good experience for my children and although they don't know all the details surrounding Rodney's life, some day they will. I will tell them some day and they will have a better understanding of why we took him in for that length of time.
I want to table a document called A Family's Perspective. It was recently given to me and I kindly ask members, if they have an opportunity, to read it. It's really well worth a read, and it's a quick read - you can read it within five minutes. I think you would appreciate what the message is in there.
Another change in this mandate is the CyberSCAN Unit that the minister also has mentioned. We understand that the staff of the CyberSCAN Unit are given the responsibility, or are empowered with referring potential criminal matters to the police. However, I don't think that's clearly written out in this piece of legislation. Perhaps it is, but I think there could be some fine tuning in the wording there. Changing the role of the CyberSCAN Unit may cause, I think, the biggest issue with this bill.
I was happy to be able to go to the briefing and I tried to ask as many questions as I could. Without the CyberSCAN Unit or staff, looking over as they did in the past, looking over the victims - they will not be doing that this time and they will not be helping the victims and the families through the court system. I worry about some of them not having the resources or the network to know how to navigate the court process. Maybe there's something in place that I'm missing that will take the place of that. In a lot of cases, it will mean that individuals will have to hire a lawyer and the cost of that may be, obviously, out of reach for many and, therefore, they will not come forward.
Access to the justice system is one of the primary objectives, though, of this bill and I hope the government rethinks how to give equal access to the system for all Nova Scotians who are victims. That's very important, to ensure that they all feel that there are some resources there for them, regardless of diversity and background. After all, we are aiming to reduce barriers within this piece of legislation, Mr. Speaker, and not make it more difficult for Nova Scotians to seek justice.
Similarly, this bill outlines some sensible orders that can be made by the court against someone who has been found to be a cyberbully. One thing that is missing is preventing a person from accessing the Internet. This is a logical penalty in my mind for someone who victimizes another person through the Internet. While the court absolutely has the power, I guess, to make any order that it would deem, we believe though, that a ban from the Internet just makes good common sense. I think we need to consider that. I don't think that we should go through the process, and they can still go back on the Internet.
Finally, when victims are under 18, only their parents or guardians can bring an application under this Act. I wonder if the minister has contemplated what happens when the person accused of cyberbullying is a parent, guardian, or close family member. What is that young person supposed to do in that unfortunate situation?
While I have outlined a few concerns with the bill, I do hope that government will consider addressing them or maybe helping me understand better those concerns of mine. I understand, too, that the government possibly intends to leave this bill in Law Amendments. That does concern me, that they may leave it until Spring 2018. I know it sounds like we're up here all the time either saying rush or slow down.
The only reason I'm saying that is to reaffirm what we heard from Leah Parsons the other day. She indicated that she felt that this really had to be passed now. She has been through three Ministers of Justice and felt that the story just keeps on lingering. It should be able to be passed this session. I know that it's delicate. I know that it may be or it may not be. But I do hope that we can agree on getting it passed this time around.
Rehtaeh used to come to Pictou and spend time with her aunt there and was a fabulous, fabulous artist. It's unfortunate that I didn't get to see any of her artwork until she passed. Her aunt actually had a little launch of some of her artwork. It was absolutely incredible. It still gives me chills and goosebumps right now to think of some of the artwork that Rehtaeh did reflecting on her story and how somehow it was almost like she was drawing it out in her art or expressing it in her art. It was absolutely beautiful.
In closing, Mr. Speaker, this bill deserves our full attention. It deserves the time, training, and money to effectively and efficiently reduce not only bullying but also the impact of bullying. Again, I am anxious to spend time at Law Amendments and listen to the presenters to help myself and my fellow caucus members determine if the content in this bill is worthy of moving forward, which I believe it is, or perhaps maybe there's a couple of amendments.
Thank you so much for introducing it. We're on the right track.
When the original Cyber-safety Act was passed with all-Party support, emotions were obviously running high, as in many cases, they still are. At that time, many Nova Scotians wanted government to take swift legislative action in response to the death of Rehtaeh Parsons. Her death was a tragedy. One can only imagine the level of anguish she must have felt as a result of her experience, anguish that was so severe she chose to attempt to commit suicide, suffering injuries that later claimed her life, as we all know.
Some felt that if legislation had been in place, it may have helped deter those who targeted her. Others felt the resulting legislation didn't go far enough. One thing everyone could agree on was the need to do more to protect youth and adults alike from cyberbullying.
Earlier during Budget Estimates, the minister and I had the opportunity to discuss the systemic cycles of victimhood in which women and girls often find themselves. I think we know that breaking this cycle or helping to break this cycle was part of the intention behind the original legislation that came before this House. I was pleased to hear the minister highlight that intention as part of this legislation as well.
We all know that, as a society, we're racing to catch up with the dizzying pace of technological advancement. As a legislative body, we're also racing to regulate it.
There are so many tragic examples of cyberbullying and of bullying in general. We've heard about Rehtaeh Parsons tonight and at other times on the floor of this House. We've heard from the member for Pictou West about her own experiences.
I just want to take a moment to note that for every tragic incident we hear about, there are thousands of mundane incidents - or incidents that seem mundane, because they haven't yet become tragic. That's part of the reason we're moving to legislate in this area, that we're moving to act in this area. For those of us who are technological adopters, which I think would include almost all of us in this House, we still understand the difference between saying something and putting something online. I don't think a lot of people who were born into the technologies we currently have fully appreciate that difference, or have the capacity to appreciate that difference in the way that I'd say we - almost all of us - do.
I think that in addition to legislating, we also - I would echo the comments we've heard here about the importance of the work of the CyberSCAN unit, among others, in the educative piece. I think that's so important, and nipping it in the bud - just a conversation with kids in school about what is appropriate online behaviour and what isn't. I think in many cases, people don't know.
That being said, to speak for a moment to the previous bill, we know that when actions are taken in haste, the result can often be less than measured. The Cyber-safety Act, as was discussed, was the first law passed in Canada aimed at protecting victims of online harassment. It was created to fill a gap.
As legislators, of course, we depend on the courts to provide a level of legal oversight with regard to the laws passed here in this House. We got that oversight. The Supreme Court of Nova Scotia struck down the law for violations of Sections 2b and 7 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
This, and any situation like this - and I made the same comment with regard to the Adult Capacity and Decision-making bill - is an opportunity, I think. It's unfortunate that the opportunity presents itself in this way, but it's an opportunity for us to get it right and take a more measured approach and improve upon the shortcomings of the original legislation.
The government has assured us of its extensive consultations before bringing this bill to the House. We are told that the bill attempts to answer the shortcomings of the original legislation. We've heard the minister speak in some detail about how this bill does that, and I'm glad to see this effort being made.
I think that, as I just spoke about, trying to stay ahead of the curve of technology is a huge challenge, so in this bill - as with all legislation, but this bill in particular - I would say it's even more important that we have a system that has checks and balances, and can breathe and grow.
I'm glad to see a mandatory review mechanism. I think it will be required. I think we will continue to deal with different challenges, and we will need to continue to find different ways to address those challenges. We'll see whether or not five years is the right period of time.
Following the Rehtaeh Parsons case, the province initiated an independent review of the response. That was the Segal report, which was referenced earlier. I'm hopeful that the recommendations will improve future responses to similar situations, and I'm very glad to hear the minister say that so many of those recommendations have been implemented.
Here in Nova Scotia, of course, we have another form of legislative oversight, and that is the Committee on Law Amendments process, which provides a unique opportunity for Nova Scotians to voice their support or concerns for a piece of pending legislation. I would echo the comments of my colleague here and urge the minister to at least call the bill in the Committee on Law Amendments in this sitting. If it turns out that there is such a groundswell and so much more consultation needed that we can't get it through this session, well then so be it. But I for one, particularly as a member of that committee, would be eager to give the public the opportunity to come and have their voice heard on this legislation.
For me, pardon the colloquialism, I would say the jury is out on this one. I will be looking to the voices of those folks who show up before the Committee on Law Amendments and give us some more fulsome opinions about whether or not they think that we've struck the right balance here. Thank you.
MS. BARBARA ADAMS « » : Mr. Speaker, as I think everybody knows, Rehtaeh Parsons lived in my constituency. I remember when we first found out, there was such a sense of helplessness and just a sick sense of how did our community not know this was going on, and how long had it been going on, and my children were of a similar age.
When the first Act was brought in, there was a - I know it happened quickly and we celebrated; it was like, wow, you can really move when it's something that important. When it was struck down shortly after that, it was another deep blow because it felt again that somebody was saying that this issue wasn't that important. I feel very honoured, as the other member stated, to be here talking about it now, because back then all we could do was pray. Today, we get to actually take some action. I want to echo both members from Pictou West and Dartmouth South, that we are happy to be here and pleased with the Minister of Justice for bringing it forward.
I do want to express the sentiments of my constituents in that they would love to see this brought forth through the Committee on Law Amendments and possibly pass before the next sitting, because they feel like they've been waiting quite a long time. For their sake, they are encouraging us to move this along a little bit faster.
One of the things that the Minister of Justice mentioned when he was speaking to this, was that there had been 820 cases and that 10 had gone to court. I'm not aware of what the outcome was of those 10. I'm hoping it's not similar to some of the sexual assault cases that go to court, where there are few reported, even fewer go to court and even fewer result in any actual criminal charges or consequences for the people who are involved.
One of the things that I am echoing from the member for Pictou West is the CyberSCAN Unit's ability to investigate and support people through the court system. It reminds me of when a woman, or a man for that matter, is assaulted by their spouse or partner. In the older days, the woman or man had to press charges themselves. Then the court system changed to where the police could just press the charges without the consent of the person who had been assaulted. As harsh as that sounds, there are an awful lot of spouses who would not have moved forward with the court case, both for personal reasons as well as the pressure from the spouse to let it go.
I'm concerned that we may be in the same position here where, especially when it involves children, there may be a perceived impression that the kid will outgrow it. Or maybe if it's a former spouse or a former friend who's doing the bullying, that there will be pressure to let it go. I kind of like the idea of the CyberSCAN Unit having some authority to take, especially the more serious cases, further than what this legislation is going to suggest.
One of the things that I'm wondering about is whether with this bill you have to actually take somebody to court and sue them in order to get any fines levied against them. To me, we've got a simple solution for somebody who speeds. If you speed a little bit you get a little bit, you get a little fine. If you speed a lot, you get a big fine.
I'm just wondering, could there not be something along those lines because I know that if my kids knew that if they posted something really inappropriate and it was going to cost them a couple of hundred bucks, they'd think twice. But right now they don't see that there are any consequences to doing this. As a matter of fact, they create secret Facebook pages, like we saw with the dentistry school, and do things in secret, so I'm just wondering if the consequences couldn't be a little more immediate and a little more striking than what the current legislation brings out.
The other thing that I did have a question on and I apologize - it's a question for another day perhaps - there is cyberbullying legislation. It says under the Canada Criminal Code that it's an offence to share intimate images of a person without their consent. It came into effect March 10, 2015, and there are all sorts of other laws related to cyberbullying - for harassment, uttering threats, intimidation, extortion, identity fraud, counselling suicide, and inciting hatred. So I'm wondering how closely this legislation is going to match the Criminal Code of Canada, and I'm not aware of how close we're going to be to that.
One of the other things is a language issue where we talk about resolving disputes. I'm not sure that when somebody assaults somebody else using digital technology, that it's a dispute. I mean it might be a question as to whether you did it or you didn't, or how serious it is or it isn't, but to call it a dispute sounds like you can't decide who gets the bigger piece of pie. To me, it's assault. A sexual assault is an assault. A digital technology assault is an assault. It's not a conversation we want to have.
I know that we settle an awful lot of these things through informal processes and I'm not sure that the restorative justice system is enough because sometimes that's just an apology, although certainly in lesser instances that would be appropriate.
I guess the last thing - and I think the member for Pictou West mentioned it - is a couple of the amendments that had been recommended by Dr. Wayne MacKay were about the fact that the bill says that CyberSCAN can refer to the police but it's not specified in the legislation and he recommended that there be an amendment to that. He also suggested that there was no subsection specified as an order to take away access to the Internet, and he suggested an amendment to that. I just feel there has to be very strong consequences; otherwise, people are going to say it doesn't have any teeth.
The last thing I do want to say is, I do want to call on all parents to teach their children both how to respond but more importantly, how to post appropriately. I have to leave with the thought that when I first told my mother that I wanted to run for politics, her only concern was that I was going to be bullied socially. She wasn't worried about what I was going to say here, she figured I had that covered, but she was worried about how I was going to be attacked on the Internet and in the media. I assured her that I would be just fine, but we obviously know that that's not the case everywhere.
I do think we lead by example. I want to reference a text message I got from a constituent who said wow, that's the politest sitting of the Legislature I've seen since you got there, Barb. I think it's really appropriate that it's this issue and I think we do need to lead by example and I'm grateful that, for tonight, we certainly set the bar pretty high. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
HON. CHRISTOPHER D'ENTREMONT « » : Mr. Speaker, I'm just going to speak for a couple of moments on this. I know the discussion has been sort of around the issue of whether we let it sit in Law Amendments Committee, do some more consultation on it. That does trouble me a little bit because I think in the absence of a law like this, there's so many other things that can happen in the meantime, and I think we will be second-guessing ourselves if something does happen, like maybe we should have ran that quicker.
I understand where the government is at this point - once bitten, twice shy. We don't want another Act, another law, to be struck down by the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia. So, it puts us in a bit of a quandary of where we are right now. We can only go by what the experts are telling us. I believe Dr. Wayne MacKay has looked at this bill, feels that it's a good, strong base for what we need, but you know what? If we let it sit there and wait and then realize that we were right, well we've lost six months of time.
So, my commitment here, and I think everybody would agree that should there be an edit that needs to be done quickly to this Act to continue to strengthen it, you would have the commitment of the Opposition Party that if there is an emergency session that would have to be put together, that if you would need to have consent to pass certain pieces of amendments to this bill that you would have our full co-operation on that - not allowing it to sit too long in the Law Amendments Committee, not to sit too long without consultation with the community.
You know, listen, we can't fail in this, Mr. Speaker. We can't fail our kids, we can't fail our families, and we shouldn't fail our communities. Thank you very much.
The honourable Minister of Justice.
HON. MARK FUREY « » : Thank you, Mr. Speaker, and I want to thank my colleagues for their comments and, I would say, genuine desire to collectively, in this House, move a piece of legislation that is important to each and every one of us. (Applause)
I've taken notes of the comments of my colleagues, some very important points made and identified, and I appreciate the Official Opposition House Leader in providing the articulation and support that he did. Our minds are open and we look forward to the Law Amendments Committee and the constructive discussions that I believe can only strengthen this bill.
With those few comments, Mr. Speaker, I rise to close debate on Bill No. 27.
The motion is carried.
Ordered that this bill be referred to the Committee on Law Amendments.
The honourable Government House Leader.
Bill No. 33 - Gas Distribution Act.
On October 10th, government introduced amendments to the Gas Distribution Act. Natural gas is an important part of our energy mix. As we continue to address climate change, it's a cleaner, lower-emission option that many of our energy sources are leaning on and counting on. It fuels many of our industries and heats some of our hospitals, schools, and homes. That's why government is taking action to ensure Nova Scotians have access to the natural gas they need at a more stable price.
We've been very fortunate here in Nova Scotia. Historically, our offshore projects have put us at the front end of pipelines. We haven't had to look very far for natural gas or pay a high cost to bring our energy in from away, but the times are changing. In the not-too-distant future, we will be at the end of that line. We're going to have to address upstream transportation costs. It makes sense to look at ways to secure our reliable long-term supply that could help stabilize the prices for Nova Scotia customers. To do this we need to work with our partners. Increasingly, our energy futures will be tied together, across the Maritimes, throughout North America, and around the world. That's why we're being proactive in amending this Act this evening.
These changes give the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board the authority to consider applications dealing with transportation costs. Nova Scotia's natural gas customers already pay these costs; they're built into their bills.
This is about making these costs fair and transparent. It's enabling legislation. The board will be able to look at ways to fairly recover costs associated with long-term pipeline contracts. Long-term agreements could provide Nova Scotians with reliable access to natural gas at a more stable price than short-term rates. If these contracts are not in the best interests of Nova Scotians, the board will have the ability to say no.
Mr. Speaker, there are a lot of factors and positions to consider, and the URB is in the best place and the best position to have this very discussion. These amendments ensure that stakeholders will be heard and decisions will be made in an open and transparent process. These amendments also bring Nova Scotia's regulations more in line with other North American jurisdictions.
Mr. Speaker, Nova Scotians deserve to be more in line with other jurisdictions across the continent. Customers here pay some of the highest prices for natural gas in the world, yet we know there's an abundance of natural gas in North America, and that's why government is listening to industry. They're telling us that they're worried about energy costs. Canadian manufacturers and exporters say it's one of the top concerns for its members. It is an important competitive consideration when attracting and retaining businesses in Nova Scotia.
If there's an opportunity to stabilize prices for employers and homeowners, government has to step up. That is what we're doing with these amendments. We're giving the Utility and Review Board the ability to act in the best interests of natural gas customers. We can't say with certainty that long-term pipeline contracts are the way to stabilize or even lower prices. We have to have a process to determine that for us.
All interested parties should have the ability to come forward and say how this will impact them. The URB provides us with both the expertise and forum to do so. It's fairness, transparency, and accountability that natural gas customers deserve.
In a perfect world, Mr. Speaker, we wouldn't need to have this conversation. We would continue to use the natural gas that lies off our coast. It's no secret that our supply of natural gas from Deep Panuke and Sable is declining. These projects have started the process of planning for decommissioning. Even so, our offshore future does remain bright. Our petroleum industries continue to have significant economic growth potential for our province. Some day we may return to using our own resource. We know there's more oil and gas out there, and that's what the science is telling us.
The 2011 Play Fairway Analysis told us that more than 120 trillion cubic feet of gas and eight billion barrels of oil lie off our coast. More recently, our piston coring research has helped us uncover even more evidence about our offshore potential. It shows evidence of an extensive deepwater petroleum system. Genome research is also under way. It's a new technique we're pioneering with our partners. It's the combination of genetics, biology and computer science that helps scientists identify the presence of DNA. In this case, we used geonomics technology to identify the presence of marine bacteria that feed on hydrocarbons. This could indicate that oil and natural gas are nearby. This also helps us pinpoint areas for exploration.
We're continuing to have a series of discussions with the oil and gas industry about what this new data means for the future of Nova Scotia. We're investing in leading-edge geoscience, sharing the results openly with industry, and attracting billions in work commitments from major global firms. BP is getting ready to drill here in 2018 and Statoil is preparing its seismic program for not long after that. The bottom line is that there is tremendous potential in Nova Scotia's offshore and international interest remains high.
We're hopeful that this year's call for bids attracts new investment and opportunities for our young workers. Ultimately developing a new offshore project is where we want to be. We feel it's a matter of time and the science is confirming that for us, but for now, prudence dictates that we put all natural gas options on the table and let the URB decide the best direction forward.
In conclusion, Mr. Speaker, Nova Scotians will have access to the natural gas that they need. Gas will continue to flow from suppliers across North America. We look forward to the day when a new project appears beyond the horizon line off our shores, but for now we're doing all that we can to ensure Nova Scotians pay a fair price. The URB is best-positioned to hear the concerns of all involved and make decisions that are in the best interests of Nova Scotians. These amendments give the board the authority it needs to make that determination.
With that, I thank you, Mr. Speaker, and pass it over to the Opposition.
This legislation is to help existing consumers with natural gas in Nova Scotia. Heritage Gas, I think, is the company that will be most helped, because they're the ones who are providing that service and the natural gas to consumers. This is something I think we'll be supporting.
When I think about natural gas, we used to have such a wealth coming in from the offshore. We had upwards of $400 million a year coming in to support the provincial programs - health, education, community services, roads, all of those things. That has all but dried up. I know some people are probably happy about that. Yes, believe it or not there are people out there who are happy about that. It's brought wealth to our province, to our country. Natural gas, if compared to some of the other sources of energy, pollutes less, but yet we have a problem in this province in getting natural gas.
I remember talking to a stock analyst one time and he was telling me that very few people in the country understand the natural gas market. The prices swing wildly and very few people can make money at it. A lot of the reason why the prices swing so much is because of the dynamics of where you live. If you're living in an area that has access to natural gas, it can be cheap, clean energy; but if you're not - which is where we are now in this province, as the offshore has dried up - natural gas starts to become much more expensive. You basically become subject to that and the price increase that follows.
I know this bill will help to some degree, but there are major clouds on the horizon in terms of natural gas. I don't mean to sound pessimistic. Perhaps more natural gas will be found offshore. BP is doing their exploration soon and hopefully they will find more natural gas; but, when there's no secure supply the price starts to jump around. I know some natural gas consumers in this province who made the switch, and some of them are hospitals and schools. They are feeling the pinch of the cost of running their heat, and what have you, from natural gas, because of this supply issue.
We look at Alton Natural Gas Storage, I know it's very controversial. They're trying to store natural gas there. Is that a good thing? I don't know. I say that only because I can't imagine they'd be storing it to give people lower prices. They're going to want to store it to get the highest price they can at the time they can get it. We can't blame them for that. They're just trying to make money and we can't blame people for doing that. They'd be creating jobs in the process. It is a reality for us in this province because we don't have a secure supply. When I say secure supply, I mean an ample supply of natural gas.
So, I'll speak briefly on this, but we look at the situation across the country. There was something I was reading in the Financial Post about Energy East. This is tragic for our country right now, that we have an existing pipeline that was going to be repurposed for Albert-based oil and could have provided a supply into the Maritimes, could have created thousands of jobs in construction, brought secure domestic energy, our energy, to Canadians and helped to sell it throughout the world.
I spoke already, I'm not going to belabour the point - we could get rid of coal and oil and natural gas tomorrow, but where would we be? People are driving, just look at the cars on the road; winter is coming and we're all going to have to heat our homes. The reality of it is, we're not there yet with renewable energy. Until we are, until we can rely on it completely and reliably, this is the reality. I think it's a shame that the Energy East pipeline has been - the plan to complete it is finished.
I encourage anybody who thinks and who listens to some of the debate out there to read that Financial Post article. There's no politics in it. Do you know why we know that, Mr. Speaker? Because the person who wrote that article doesn't care about politics. They care about making money. That's the reality. The only reason I say that is because in politics, we hear lots of comments, and we hear lots of people's spin on things. We all do it. But in the world of business, they don't care about that. They're interested in making money. It's an interesting article to read. It basically says that the federal government was complicit in the ending of Energy East. That's a shame.
I bring it back to this bill because it relates to it in that unless you're going to have secure forms of energy reaching our province, we are going to be dealing with having to bring pieces of legislation like this to the Legislature as a small measure to fix a big problem.
I think the specific change here, which basically adds another task to the URB's suite of regulatory rules, makes sense and is unobjectionable. As the minister noted, it does bring Nova Scotia in line with other jurisdictions that allow energy distributors to apply to recoup upstream transportation costs.
It is my experience, living in Nova Scotia and working as a journalist for years in Nova Scotia previously, that the URB is accepted as an arbitrary - in the best kind of way - place to go to for that no-politics look at what is a fair decision. I certainly appreciate the strong emphasis on what is in the consumer's best interest. As such, I think it's reasonable that the URB as a regulator be tasked with any application that Heritage Gas, which currently has a monopoly on gas distribution via pipeline in this province, may bring forward.
I do want to make just a few comments on the bigger picture here. I'm not even going to zoom out as widely as I could. We're in such an interesting moment where many, many things will change in the next 30 years. Some of those things we have control over, and some of those things I think we probably have less control than we think in terms of how things will change. A lot of that is tied up with energy and how we're going to fuel our societies and whether our societies continue exactly as they are now or if we embrace more change. I'm not going to go all there.
But at the moment, we know that the Emera Brunswick Pipeline company is trying to woo Irving Oil away from the Maritimes and Northeast Pipeline. If this actually happens, it would have serious implications for the remaining users of the M&NP, including Heritage Gas. The M&NP is already facing the loss of ExxonMobil with the end of Sable Gas as a result of the winding down of that project. That will also greatly impact existing users. In fact, it has been suggested that by 2021, with the winding down of Sable and Deep Panuke, the M&NP may only be operating at 3 per cent capacity.
So this will have huge implications for Heritage Gas and their consumers, amongst whom - as my colleague from the other caucus noted - is us, the public of Nova Scotia because as the minister confirmed in Estimates, the province still believes in converting public buildings to natural gas. Of course, that has been a strategy that has been pursued for a number of years already.
So we could be looking at very few consumers bearing the cost of a pipeline. I guess all I can say right now is that I'm glad it will be the URB, if this bill passes, who would have to make the judgments on how that plays out. It is interesting just how quickly things change.
I remember the first political campaign I was involved in was the municipal campaign for Jennifer Watts in 2012. That was not very long ago. During that campaign, we had some back door, small neighbourhood gatherings, and at one of those, I very clearly remember someone telling me about how he had converted his home and a rental property that he had to natural gas, and how there were these staggering savings and how everybody should do it.
Here we are. It's five years later, and the price is fluctuating, the future supply is uncertain, and frankly, sometimes, I'm glad I'm not on the government side, though I mostly wish I were. I think it's really hard to make the next moves and see far enough into the chess game, when so many different things are coming at us, and they are coming at us all. With that, I take my place.
HON. JAMIE BAILLIE « » : I just want to draw the attention of the House to the east gallery, and welcome some very special guests who are joining us tonight. We have with us, the elected mayor of Speyer, Germany, Hansjörg Eger and his wife Colleen, along with their friends Sally and Stephen Wagner, who are from the town of Middleton in the constituency of Annapolis. They're joined by a beautiful woman who is their tour guide here in Halifax today, my wife Sandra.
I want to welcome Hansjörg, and his party to the House, and I hope that they enjoy the proceedings. I invite all members to welcome them. (Applause)
The honourable Minister of Energy.
The motion is carried.
Ordered that this bill be referred to the Committee on Law Amendments.
The honourable Government House Leader.
HON. GEOFF MACLELLAN « » : Mr. Speaker, that concludes the government business for today. The House will meet again tomorrow, Friday, October 13th, between the hours of 9:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. Following the daily routine and Question Period, we will move to the Committee of the Whole on Supply.
Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.
The motion is carried.
The House now stands adjourned until tomorrow at 9:00 a.m.
[The House rose at 8:59 p.m.]
NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3)
RESOLUTION NO. 353
I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:
Whereas Halifax area resident Paul Tingley has represented Canada at the 2000, 2004, 2008, 2012, and 2016 Paralympic Games in the sport of sailing; and
Whereas Paul has medalled three times over the course of his career, with two bronze medals and one gold medal achieved at the 2008 Beijing Paralympics; and
Whereas Paul has been and continues to be a role model for all Nova Scotian athletes, regardless of their ability;
Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House of Assembly join me in congratulating Paul Tingley on a successful sailing career that all Nova Scotians can be proud of.