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March 6, 2019

  HANSARD19-25

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/



Second Session

WEDNESDAY, MARCH 6, 2019

TABLE OF CONTENTSPAGE
 

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS:
Gov't. (N.S.): Hiring Process for NSHA Directors - Inquiry Requested,
1825
Gov't. (N.S.): Hiring Process for NSHA Directors - Inquiry Requested,
1826
Gov't. (N.S.): Hiring Process for NSHA Directors - Inquiry Requested,
1826
Gov't. (N.S.): Hiring Process for NSHA Directors - Inquiry Requested,
1827
Gov't. (N.S.): Hiring Process for NSHA Directors - Inquiry Requested,
1827
Gov't. (N.S.): Hiring Process for NSHA Directors - Inquiry Requested,
1827
Gov't. (N.S.): Hiring Process for NSHA Directors - Inquiry Requested,
1828
Gov't. (N.S.): Hiring Process for NSHA Directors - Inquiry Requested,
1828
GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 735, Contestants: Open Data Contest - Congrats.,
1829
Vote - Affirmative
1830
Res. 736, Intergovt'l. Network, Cdn. Francophonie Conf. - Welcome,
1831
Vote - Affirmative
1832
Res. 737, Wheadon, Ralph: Wilderness Stewardship - Thanks,
1832
Vote - Affirmative
1833
Res. 738, E. Shore Fishermen's Protective Assoc.: Excellence Award
- Congrats., Hon. K. Colwell »
1833
Vote - Affirmative
1834
Res. 739, Riverside Lobster: Excellence Award - Congrats.,
1834
Vote - Affirmative
1835
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS:
No. 97, Credit Union Act,
1835
No. 98, Antiviral Drug Act,
1835
STATEMENTS BY MEMBERS:
McDonald, Gillian: Mental Health - Needs Consistent Care,
1836
Forestry Sector Experts: Explaining Complexities - Thanks,
1836
Higgins, Lisa/Slade, Kelly: Keliza Healthy Living - Congrats.,
1837
Beaver, Kayla: Mental Health - Needs Consistent Care,
1837
Nominees: Theatre N.S. Merritt Awards - Congrats.,
1838
Harnish, Emily - R.D.: Educ. - Thanks,
1838
Conway, Garret: Mental Health - Needs Consistent Care,
1839
Kondali, Zoran/NSCC Int'l.: Improving Student Exp. - Thanks,
1839
Wyatt, Brennan: Mental Health - Needs Consistent Care,
1840
Leonidas: Purveyors, Belgian Chocolate - Welcome,
1840
Nauss, Anthony: Mental Health - Needs Consistent Care,
1841
Sperry, Jack: Memorial Fundraising - Congrats.,
1841
Cole, Melissa: Mental Health - Needs Consistent Care,
1842
Burton Ettinger Staff: Christmas Dance - Thanks,
1842
Bernardo, Carol: Mental Health - Needs Consistent Care,
1843
Esonwune, Ifeoma: Investing in Youth - Thanks,
1843
Rice, Kristen: Mental Health - Needs Consistent Care,
1844
Indigenous People: Enviro. Care - Act Boldly,
1844
Joycey, Marc - Candidate: Film School Scholarship - Best Wishes,
1845
Balcom, Melissa: Mental Health - Needs Consistent Care,
1845
SMB Rails to Trails Assoc.: Re-opening - Congrats.,
1845
O'Connell, Sean: Mental Health - Needs Consistent Care,
1846
NEOF: Access to Youth Progs. - Recog.,
1846
Burrill, Gary: MLA - QP Clarification,
The Premier
1847
Theriau, Ben - Athl.: Special Olympics Summer Games - Congrats.,
1847
Voluns.: HEART Hockey Fundraiser, Barho Fam. - Thanks,
1847
LaRusic, Frankie: Mental Health - Needs Consistent Care,
1848
ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS TO MINISTERS:
No. 365, Prem. - Valley Reg. Hosp.: Service Erosion - Comment,
1848
No. 366, Prem.: Low Incomes - Explain,
1849
No. 367, H&W - Doctor Recruit.: Specialists - Emphasize,
1851
No. 368, H&W: ER Overcrowding - Address,
1853
No. 369, H&W - Methadone Treatment: Addiction - Prevent,
1854
No. 370, H&W - Therapists: Qualification Standards - Maintain,
1855
No. 371, EECD - Go-To Teachers: Mental Health Training - Adequacy,
1856
No. 372, H&W - Valley Reg. Hosp.: Wait-times Reduct. - Resources Lack,
1858
No. 373, LAE - Teachers: Mental Health Training - Value,
1859
No. 374, H&W: Freedom Foundation of N.S. - Min. Visit,
1860
No. 375, H&W: Abstinence-based Prog. - Retain,
1861
No. 376, H&W - Prep: Universal Cov. - Commit,
1862
No. 377, H&W - Mental Health Act: Involun. Admit. - Resources,
1863
No. 378, H&W: Mental Health Serv. Dart. Gen. - Transfers,
1864
No. 379, H&W: Mental Health Serv. - Improve,
1865
OPPOSITION MEMBERS' BUSINESS:
PRIVATE MEMBERS' PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING:
No. 89, Workers' Compensation Act
1868
1872
1877
1879
No. 86, Emergency Department Standards Act
1883
1886
1890
1894
ADJOURNMENT:
MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5):
Gov't (N.S.): Access to Mental Health Serv. - Inadequate,
1898
1901
1903
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Thur., Mar. 7th at 1:00 p.m
1906
NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3):
Res. 740, Merry, Tanya & Catlin: Son - Birth Congrats.,
1907
Res. 741, Roy, Kayleigh/Wolfe, Travis: Son - Birth Congrats.,
1907
Res. 742, Roy, Cassandra/Dagley, Tyler: Son - Birth Congrats.,
1908
Res. 743, Joly, Ben & Michelle: Fun Hallowe'en Safety - Thanks,
1908

 

 

 

 

[Page 1825]

HALIFAX, WEDNESDAY, MARCH 6, 2019

Sixty-third General Assembly

Second Session

1:00 P.M.

SPEAKER

Hon. Kevin Murphy

DEPUTY SPEAKERS

Suzanne Lohnes-Croft, Brendan Maguire

THE SPEAKER » : Before we begin the daily routine, the topic for late debate tonight at the moment of interruption, as submitted by the honourable member for Inverness, is:

"Therefore be it resolved that the government has failed to provide adequate access to mental health services."

That's late debate at the moment of interruption.

We'll now begin the daily routine.

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

THE SPEAKER « » : The honourable member for Kings North.

JOHN LOHR « » : Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to present a petition. The operative clause reads as follows:

"We, the undersigned, support this prayer to the NS House of Assembly and Minister of Health to request a formal independent inquiry into the original hiring process for the position of Senior Director (Provincial) of Mental Health and Addictions at the Nova Scotia Health Authority (NSHA), and all hiring processes of Directors and Senior Director from the time that the NSHA was created to present day. We ask that the Minister of Health hold accountable the NSHA to place the best interests of the public, in terms of wait times, above all other considerations in such hiring processes."

[Page 1826]

Mr. Speaker, I have affixed my name.

THE SPEAKER « » : The petition is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton-Richmond.

ALANA PAON « » : Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition. The operative clause reads as follows:

"We, the undersigned, support this prayer to the NS House of Assembly and Minister of Health to request a formal independent inquiry into the original hiring process for the position of Senior Director (Provincial) of Mental Health and Addictions at the Nova Scotia Health Authority (NSHA), and all hiring processes of Directors and Senior Director from the time that the NSHA was created to present day. We ask that the Minister of Health hold accountable the NSHA to place the best interests of the public, in terms of wait times, above all other considerations in such hiring processes."

Mr. Speaker, there are 231 signatures affixed on this and I have affixed my own.

THE SPEAKER « » : The petition is tabled.

The honourable member for Queens-Shelburne.

KIM MASLAND « » : Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition. The operative clause being:

"We, the undersigned, support this prayer to the NS House of Assembly and Minister of Health to request a formal independent inquiry into the original hiring process for the position of Senior Director (Provincial) of Mental Health and Addictions at the Nova Scotia Health Authority (NSHA), and all hiring processes of Directors and Senior Director from the time that the NSHA was created to present day. We ask that the Minister of Health hold accountable the NSHA to place the best interests of the public, in terms of wait times, above all other considerations in such hiring processes."

Mr. Speaker, the petition contains 229 signatures and I have affixed my signature.

[Page 1827]

THE SPEAKER « » : The petition is tabled.

The honourable member for Pictou Centre.

HON. PAT DUNN « » : Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition. The operative clause reads as follows:

"We, the undersigned, support this prayer to the NS House of Assembly and Minister of Health to request a formal independent inquiry into the original hiring process for the position of Senior Director (Provincial) of Mental Health and Addictions at the Nova Scotia Health Authority (NSHA), and all hiring processes of Directors and Senior Director from the time that the NSHA was created to present day."

Mr. Speaker, there are 249 names affixed and I have affixed my signature as well.

THE SPEAKER « » : The petition is tabled.

The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

LARRY HARRISON « » : Mr. Speaker, I wish to table a petition. The operative clause reads as follows:

"We, the undersigned, support this prayer to the NS House of Assembly and Minister of Health to request a formal independent inquiry into the original hiring process for the position of Senior Director (Provincial) of Mental Health and Addictions at the Nova Scotia Health Authority (NSHA), and all hiring processes of Directors and Senior Director from the time that the NSHA was created to present day. We ask that the Minister of Health hold accountable the NSHA to place the best interests of the public, in terms of wait times, above all other considerations in such hiring processes."

Mr. Speaker, the petition has 220 signatures and I have affixed mine.

THE SPEAKER « » : The petition is tabled.

The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

TIM HALMAN « » : Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition. The operative clause reads as follows:

"We, the undersigned, support this prayer to the NS House of Assembly and Minister of Health to request a formal independent inquiry into the original hiring process for the position of Senior Director (Provincial) of Mental Health and Addictions at the Nova Scotia Health Authority (NSHA), and all hiring processes of Directors and Senior Director from the time that the NSHA was created to present day. We ask that the Minister of Health hold accountable the NSHA to place the best interests of the public, in terms of wait times, above all other considerations in such hiring processes."

[Page 1828]

Mr. Speaker, there are 231 signatures and I have affixed my signature.

THE SPEAKER « » : The petition is tabled.

The honourable member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage.

BARBARA ADAMS « » : Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition, the operative clause being:

"We, the undersigned, support this prayer to the NS House of Assembly and Minister of Health to request a formal independent inquiry into the original hiring process for the position of Senior Director (Provincial) of Mental Health and Addictions at the Nova Scotia Health Authority (NSHA), and all hiring processes of Directors and Senior Director from the time that the NSHA was created to present day. We ask that the Minister of Health hold accountable the NSHA to place the best interests of the public, in terms of wait times, above all other considerations in such hiring processes."

Mr. Speaker, there are 228 signatures, and according to the rules of the House, I have affixed my signature.

THE SPEAKER « » : The petition is tabled.

The honourable member for Cumberland North.

ELIZABETH SMITH-MCCROSSIN « » : Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to present a petition with the operative clause:

"We, the undersigned, support this prayer to the NS House of Assembly and Minister of Health to request a formal independent inquiry into the original hiring process for the position of Senior Director (Provincial) of Mental Health and Addictions at the Nova Scotia Health Authority (NSHA), and all hiring processes of Directors and Senior Director from the time that the NSHA was created to present day. We ask that the Minister of Health hold accountable the NSHA to place the best interests of the public, in terms of wait times, above all other considerations in such hiring processes."

[Page 1829]

This petition has 152 signatures and according to the rules of the House, I have affixed my signature.

THE SPEAKER « » : The petition is tabled.

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

THE SPEAKER « » : The honourable Minister of Internal Services.

HON. PATRICIA ARAB « » : Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to make an introduction.

THE SPEAKER « » : Permission granted.

PATRICIA ARAB « » : I'd like to bring everyone's attention to the East Gallery and ask that a few of my guests today rise as I say their names.

Joining us in the East Gallery are the award winners from this weekend's Open Data Contest. In first place, we have Grade 10 student Om Agarwal. Our second-place winners were Keji Fasuyi, Sadman Hoque Sadi, and Sarbottam Thapa Magar - I apologize if I am not pronouncing your names properly. Third-place winners were Yingda Guo and Matthew Richard. I'd also like to make note that our People's Choice winner, Tina Roberts Jeffers, wasn't able to be in attendance today.

I ask that they receive the warm welcome of the House. (Applause)

THE SPEAKER « » : The honourable Minister of Internal Services.

RESOLUTION NO. 735

HON. PATRICIA ARAB « » : Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas this past weekend, the Department of Internal Services and Dalhousie University hosted the third annual Open Data Contest in conjunction with International Open Data Day; and

Whereas students and entrepreneurs were invited to spend the two days developing innovative applications, visuals, or statistical models that use data from Nova Scotia's open data portal; and

[Page 1830]

Whereas Prognomatrix, Food Insecurity, Data Boys, and Take 2 were the top team recipients of the Open Data Contest;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House join me in congratulating all the award recipients and contestant participants on their innovative projects and ideas.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice and passage without debate.

THE SPEAKER « » : There has been a request for waiver.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

THE SPEAKER « » : The honourable Minister of Acadian Affairs and Francophonie.

HON. LENA METLEGE DIAB « » : Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to make an introduction.

THE SPEAKER « » : Permission granted.

LENA METLEGE DIAB « » : I would like to draw all my colleagues' attention to the East Gallery, vers la galerie est, où nous avons aujourd'hui avec nous les membres du réseau intergouvernemental de la francophonie canadienne, members of the Intergovernmental Network of the Canadian Francophonie.

Sylvie Painchaud et Kelly Tatbuteau, Bureau de coordination nationale de la Conférence; Dénis Racine et Ghislain Lafontaine, Patrimoines canadien, Canadian Heritage; Allison Séguin et Stéphane Cloutier de Nunavut; Nancy Power, Yukon; Benoît Boutin, Northwest Territories; Rhéal Poirier, Alberta; Charles-Henri Warren, Saskatchewan; Teresa Colins, Manitoba; Jean-Claude Camus, Ontario; Marie-Michèle Tremblay et Renée Madore, Québec: Gilbert Loisier and Line Pinet, Nouveau Brunswick; Aubrey Cormier, Île-du-Prince-Édouard; Florentina Stroia, Newfoundland and Labrador; Ina Amirault and Mark Bannerman de la Nouvelle-Écosse.

I ask all members of the House to rise. S'il vous plaît, levez-vous. Je demande à mes collègues de leur donner un accueil très chaleureux. I ask my colleagues to give them a warm welcome to the House. (Applause)

[Page 1831]

RESOLUTION NO. 736

HON. LENA METLEGE DIAB « » : Monsieur le Président, à une date ultérieure je demanderai l'adoption de la résolution suivante:

Attendu que cette année, la Conférence ministérielle sur la francophonie canadienne, un regroupement intergouvernemental de ministres des provinces et territoires responsable des dossiers de la francophonie canadienne et de la ministre fédérale responsable du dossier des langues officielles, célébrera son 25e anniversaire; et

Attendu qu'aujourd'hui notre province a accueilli à Halifax le Réseau intergouvernemental de la francophonie canadienne, un regroupement des hauts fonctionnaires qui appuient la Conférence ministérielle sur la francophonie canadienne; et

Attendu que la Nouvelle-Écosse abrite une communauté acadienne et francophone dynamique, et le gouvernement s'est engagé, il y a 15 ans, à soutenir et à favoriser l'essor de cette communauté par la promulgation de la Loi sur les services en français;

Par conséquent, il est résolu que les députés de l'Assemblée législative se joignent à moi pour souhaiter la bienvenue en Nouvelle-Écosse aux membres du Réseau intergouvernemental de la francophonie canadienne, ainsi que des échanges fructueux avec la francophonie de notre province.

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

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

Whereas this year the Ministerial Conference on the Canadian Francophonie, an intergovernmental group of ministers from the provinces and territories, responsible for the Canadian Francophonie and the federal minister responsible for official languages, will celebrate its 25th Anniversary; and

Whereas today in Halifax our province welcomes the intergovernmental network of the Canadian Francophonie, a group of senior officials who support the Ministerial Conference on the Canadian Francophonie; and

Whereas Nova Scotia is home to a vibrant Acadian and Francophone community, and the government committed 15 years ago to support and foster the growth of this community through the enactment of the French Language Services Act;

[Page 1832]

Therefore be it resolved that the members of the House of Assembly join me in welcoming the members of the intergovernmental network of the Canadian Francophonie to Nova Scotia, and in wishing them a fruitful exchange with our province's Francophonie.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver of notice and passage without debate.

THE SPEAKER « » : There has been a request for waiver.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Lands and Forestry.

HON. IAIN RANKIN « » : Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to make an introduction before my notice of motion.

THE SPEAKER « » : Permission granted.

IAIN RANKIN « » : Mr. Speaker, in the Speaker's Gallery we have with us a legend. A long-time staff member from the department of the former Lands and Forests, Mr. Ralph Wheadon is there, joined with his friend Gary Jones, who is a legend in his own right - a consummate fundraiser for prostate cancer. If those two fine gentlemen could give a wave and receive the warm welcome of the House. (Applause)

THE SPEAKER « » : The honourable Minister of Lands and Forestry.

RESOLUTION NO. 737

HON. IAIN RANKIN « » : Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas Ralph Wheadon will be celebrating his 90th birthday on March 9th and continues to live in the home he built for his wife and nine children more than 60 years ago; and

Whereas Mr. Wheadon's interest in the woods and his love of the outdoors led him a long and distinguished career with Nova Scotia's Department of Lands and Forests, where he served for more than 30 years caring for the province's forests and woodlands; and

[Page 1833]

Whereas in 1951, he started building the former Lewis Lake Forestry Depot that includes the office that remains there today; helped to map out and maintain trail systems, including the creation of fire roads that were used to protect these wooded areas in the event of wild fire; and is one of the original members of the Five Bridges Wilderness Trust, an organization committed to preserving, protecting, and encouraging wilderness appreciation, and continues on as an honorary member of this organization;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House join me in thanking Mr. Wheadon for his lifetime of service toward Nova Scotia's natural resources and efforts to dedicating to the preservation of Nova Scotia's forests.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice and passage without debate.

THE SPEAKER « » : There has been a request for waiver.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture.

RESOLUTION NO.738

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

Whereas during the 21st Annual Fisheries and Aquaculture Minister's Conference, the Eastern Shore Fishermen's Protective Association received the Minister's Award of Excellence; and

Whereas the Eastern Shore Fishermen's Protective Association received this award in recognition of their efforts to protect and enhance the sustainability of Nova Scotia's lobster resource for the long-term viability of the fishery and their communities; and

Whereas the Eastern Shore Fishermen's Protective Association has developed and adopted science-based strategies and initiatives to protect their lobster resource and support the sustainable economic growth of this important renewable resource in the waters of the Eastern Shore of Nova Scotia;

[Page 1834]

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize the Eastern Shore Fishermen's Protective Association for their dedication to their membership and to their contributions to the stewardship and enhancement of the Nova Scotia lobster industry.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice and passage without debate.

THE SPEAKER « » : There has been a request for waiver.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture.

RESOLUTION NO. 739

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

Whereas during the 21st Annual Fisheries and Aquaculture Minister's Conference, Riverside Lobster received the Minister's Award of Excellence; and`

Whereas Riverside Lobster received this award in recognition for their innovative approach at creating the conditions to attract and retain a skilled seafood processing workforce in rural Nova Scotia; and

Whereas for over 20 years Riverside Lobster has been expanding and evolving its products and facilities to take advantage of the increased global demand for Nova Scotia's high-quality lobster products, and to reach maximum economic opportunity Riverside Lobster has prioritized the attraction and retention of their skilled workforce through numerous employment benefits and initiatives that go well beyond the current industry standard;

Therefore be it resolved that all the members of this House congratulate Riverside Lobster for their commitment to their employees, their customers, and their community.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice and passage without debate.

[Page 1835]

THE SPEAKER « » : There has been a request for waiver.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

Bill No. 97 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 4 of the Acts of 1994. The Credit Union Act. (Hon. Karen Casey)

Bill No. 98 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 7 of the Acts of 2011. The Fair Drug Pricing Act. (Tammy Martin)

THE SPEAKER « » : Ordered that these bills be read a second time on a future day.

[1:30 p.m.]

NOTICES OF MOTION

STATEMENTS BY MEMBERS

THE SPEAKER « » : The honourable member for Kings North.

JOHN LOHR « » : Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to make an introduction.

THE SPEAKER « » : Permission granted.

JOHN LOHR « » : Mr. Speaker, in the West Gallery, I would like to call your attention to a number of people: Linda Marshall, Robbie Weatherbee, Carol Rolph, Kayla Beaver, Gillian McDonald, Russ and Yanna Conway, and Laurel Walker. They're all here today because they are advocates for mental health change in this province and have in some cases experienced tragedy themselves. They are advocating for change. I'd ask you to give them the warm welcome of the House. (Applause)

THE SPEAKER « » : The honourable member for Kings North.

MCDONALD, GILLIAN: MENTAL HEALTH - NEEDS CONSISTENT CARE

[Page 1836]

JOHN LOHR « » : Mr. Speaker, the first time Gillian McDonald was hospitalized for her mental illness, she was 16 years old. In 2017, she completed a six-month DBT program at Mount Hope. She had been seeing the same psychiatrist for two years and was put on lithium, a medication that requires regular monitoring.

Following her completion of the DBT program, she was surprised to find that her file would be closed at the community mental health clinic. Gillian lives with bipolar, and the regular treatment and medication had been helping her gain a level of comfort. She is now unable to access any type of one-on-one therapy and is unable to work with anyone to process her traumas.

Gillian deserves consistent care. She deserves better. I commend her for her bravery in sharing her story. (Applause)

THE SPEAKER « » : The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

LISA ROBERTS « » : Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to make an introduction.

THE SPEAKER « » : Permission granted.

LISA ROBERTS « » : In the West Gallery today, I would like to invite three guests to the Legislature to stand. Greg Watson is the manager of North Nova Forestry Co-op, and in that role, he works with some 300 different woodlot owners, having some role in the management, harvesting, and marketing of wood from 70,000 hectares, I think that is, of Nova Scotia's forested lands in the north-central part of the province.

Debbie Reeves is chair of the Large Private Non-Industrial Landowner Group and is here from New Ross, where she is with Murray A. Reeves Forestry Limited.

Darcy Merryweather of Hilden is with Brookfield Lumber Company.

I'd like to extend the warm welcome of the House to all three. (Applause)

THE SPEAKER « » : The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

FORESTRY SECTOR EXPERTS: EXPLAINING COMPLEXITIES - THANKS

LISA ROBERTS « » : Just briefly and unscripted, Mr. Speaker, I'd like to express my thanks as the NDP's spokesperson on Lands and Forestry to the three individuals in the gallery, but also to many others across the province who have been generous with their time and explaining the many complexities on the ground in the forestry sector.

THE SPEAKER « » : The honourable member for Lunenburg.

[Page 1837]

HIGGINS, LISA/SLADE, KELLY: KELIZA HEALTHY LIVING - CONGRATS.

SUZANNE LOHNES-CROFT « » : Mr. Speaker, I rise today to congratulate Lisa Higgins and her daughter Kelly Slade on the opening of their new business, Keliza Healthy Living in Mahone Bay. After completing treatment for breast cancer, Lisa decided it was time to make some changes in her life. Kelly, Lisa's daughter, moved home from Calgary to spend more time with her mother, and the two began to discuss their business ideas.

The health-conscious mother-and-daughter duo decided to open Keliza Healthy Living. The store offers superfood smoothies and sells a variety of vitamin supplements, health foods, and environmentally-friendly products. The site also has rooms upstairs for wellness practitioners and their clients.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask you and the members of this House of Assembly to please join me in congratulating Lisa Higgins and Kelly Slade on the opening of Keliza Healthy Living and wish them success in their future endeavours.

THE SPEAKER « » : The honourable member for Pictou West.

BEAVER, KAYLA: MENTAL HEALTH - NEEDS CONSISTENT CARE

KARLA MACFARLANE « » : Mr. Speaker, Kayla Beaver finally decided to seek professional help for her mental health issues this year by going to a walk-in clinic to get a referral.

After a hasty visit, she was given a prescription for Ativan and sent on her way. Kayla felt more embarrassed and emotional than she had before she stepped out of her comfort zone and asked for help. She went to the QEII Health Sciences Centre for help, and after waiting for nearly 24 hours was finally able to speak to someone and arrange a treatment plan.

People who reach out for help deserve to have someone at the other end offering that help. Kayla deserves to be treated with respect, to have her concerns taken seriously, and to receive help.

I commend Kayla for sharing her story and I hope that it is the first step in creating positive change for her.

THE SPEAKER « » : The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

NOMINEES: THEATRE N.S. MERRITT AWARDS - CONGRATS.

[Page 1838]

SUSAN LEBLANC « » : Mr. Speaker, Dartmouth North is many awesome things, and today it can add "home to many powerhouse thespians" to its list of things to brag about. Yesterday, the nominees for the 2018 Theatre Nova Scotia Merritt Awards were announced and six of the nominees in the outstanding performance categories live in my community.

Congratulations go to Burgandy Code, Jeff Schwager, Ryan Rogerson, and Genevieve Steele for being nominated for their roles in Two Planks and a Passion Theatre's Animal Farm by Fire; Lee J. Campbell for his title role in Shylock by No Holds Bard theatre; and to Sebastien Labelle for his role as Francis in Workshirt Opera's production of Tom at the Farm.

The Merritt Awards, named for a beloved professor of theatre at Dalhousie University, Robert Merritt, honour theatre productions and people all over Nova Scotia and are the annual celebration of the vibrant theatre community that Nova Scotia should be extremely proud of.

I ask that all members of this Assembly join me in congratulating the nominees and in thanking the theatre community for its invaluable contribution to the cultural fabric of our province. Thank you.

THE SPEAKER « » : The honourable member for Guysborough-Eastern Shore- Tracadie.

HARNISH, EMILY - R.D.: EDUC. - THANKS

HON. LLOYD HINES « » : Mr. Speaker, being that March is National Nutrition Month and March 20th is Dietitians Day, I thought it would be fitting to spotlight the work of registered dietitian Emily Harnish of Guysborough County.

Emily currently works in diabetes education and clinical in-patient and outpatient nutrition at St. Mary's Memorial Hospital in Sherbrooke and Guysborough Memorial Hospital in Guysborough, where she provides a critical component in whole health care by creating individual nutrition plans with each person. This approach empowers each person to take charge of their health and well-being and live their life to the fullest. Emily says that she loves playing a part in a person's success story in getting to reach their nutrition goals.

I know I speak for the greater Guysborough community when I say that we are all grateful for her skill, dedication, and enthusiasm.

THE SPEAKER « » : The honourable member for Sydney River-Mira-Louisbourg.

CONWAY, GARRET: MENTAL HEALTH - NEEDS CONSISTENT CARE

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HON. ALFIE MACLEOD « » : Madam Speaker, Garret Conway was courageous, smart, and extremely talented. For the last four years of his life, Garret fought impossible battles against his mental illness.

He lived with severe depression, mixed with bouts of mania that came with a bipolar diagnosis. He attempted suicide; he self-medicated; and he tried to get better. When he attempted suicide again, he was released less than 24 hours later. This was less than six months after being involuntarily admitted to the Mayflower Unit at Mount Hope. Nothing in Garret's medical history would make you think he should be released.

I commend his parents, Russ and Yanna, for their bravery in sharing Garret's story and seeking change to our mental health system.

THE SPEAKER « » : The honourable member for Halifax Armdale.

HON. LENA METLEGE DIAB « » : Madam Speaker, I beg leave to make an introduction.

THE SPEAKER « » : You may do so.

LENA METLEGE DIAB « » : I would like to introduce my constituent, who is in the East Gallery, David MacDonald. Please stand and receive the welcome of the House.

David is a committed public servant here in the province and a proud Nova Scotia St. F.X. grad. I met him in 2017 on the campaign trail knocking on doors, and I'm proud to say he's been a great supporter in the community. I stood here last Fall and congratulated him and his wife on their marriage. So, can we please ask all members to give him the warm welcome of the House. (Applause)

THE SPEAKER « » : The honourable member for Halifax Armdale.

KONDALI, ZORAN/NSCC INT'L.: IMPROVING STUDENT EXP. - THANKS

HON. LENA METLEGE DIAB « » : Madam Speaker, I rise today to highlight the work of Zoran Kondali.

A graduate of the University of Sarajevo, Zoran has lived and worked around the world leading and contributing to projects in many countries, currently living in Halifax Armdale. He, in Halifax and Nova Scotia, has brought his varied experiences to the International Activities Office at Saint Mary's University where he worked for eight years. Zoran joined NSCC International where he develops and manages a variety of international activities for the students in raising cultural awareness.

In December, I was delighted to meet Zoran at one such event, the NSCC international students' holiday party, where students in the culinary program showcased their talent and technique.

[Page 1840]

Please join me in thanking Zoran and the NSCC International team for their work coordinating international learning and capacity at home and abroad.

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

WYATT, BRENNAN: MENTAL HEALTH - NEEDS CONSISTENT CARE

BARBARA ADAMS « » : When Brennan Wyatt was only 10 years old his mother discovered that he had Googled information on the family computer on how to kill himself. Brennan's journey for the next 17 years was filled with appointments, referrals, numerous visits to the Nova Scotia emergency department, psychologists' prescriptions, and a stint in the day treatment program. What Brennan's journey lacked was consistency. The lack of intensive, long-term treatment prevented him from success and recovery.

Brennan was an artistic, brilliant, compassionate, sensitive, worldly person with a huge heart. He deserved better from the mental health system. He deserved treatment that would have allowed him to live life happily.

I commend his parents Heather and Jim for sharing his story in an effort to create change.

THE SPEAKER « » : The honourable member for Cole Harbour-Portland Valley.

LEONIDAS: PURVEYORS, BELGIAN CHOCOLATE - WELCOME

HON. TONY INCE « » : Madam Speaker, each year Cole Harbour-Portland Valley grows, thrives, and succeeds through small businesses, buying local, and engaging in social activities. I love that I get to share when small businesses come into Cole Harbour- Portland Valley, whether it be through entertainment, gift shops, cafés, restaurants, retails, or recreation.

Since 1913, Leonidas has had one mission: to make the most delicious, best-quality pralines accessible to everybody. Today you can buy their Belgian chocolate in over 1,300 shops worldwide.

I am excited to share that Cole Harbour-Portland Valley is now one of those communities. I encourage everyone to head in and try some of the Belgian chocolate. I guarantee you will want to come back and get more.

Mr. Speaker, I welcome Leonidas to our community and wish them success and all the best.

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THE SPEAKER « » : The honourable member for Queens-Shelburne.

NAUSS, ANTHONY: MENTAL HEALTH - NEEDS CONSISTENT CARE

KIM MASLAND « » : Madam Speaker, when Anthony Nauss found himself in the hospital being treated after badly harming himself, both he and his family were relieved that he would finally receive the mental care he needed.

The next morning when he was released from the hospital that relief quickly turned to disappointment. Anthony was released feeling alone, scared, helpless, hopeless, and unworthy of being helped.

Anthony reached out again for help and left with nothing but an armful of phone numbers and information pamphlets. Living with PTSD and a personality disorder had become too much for Anthony. He was scared, he needed help.

Sadly for Anthony and his family that help never came. Anthony deserved better.

I want to commend his big sister Sarah for sharing his story.

THE SPEAKER « » : The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect.

SPERRY, JACK: MEMORIAL FUNDRAISING - CONGRATS.

HON. IAIN RANKIN « » : I ask the members of the Nova Scotia House of Assembly to join me in recognizing Jack Sperry, a student from Ridgecliffe Middle School. In the face of tragedy Jack has risen above the devastating events that claimed the life of his little brother, to help others in need.

On January 23, 2013, Jack, his father, and his younger brother were involved in a car accident. Sadly, Jack's little brother Owen Sperry, succumbed to injuries incurred in the tragic accident. The BLT community responded generously with a fundraising campaign for a scholarship in Owen's name, but the charitable giving did not stop there. Jack has continued to honour his brother's life by gathering donations from family and friends, providing toys for the children in single-parent families, and by identifying and providing Christmas gifts to five families in need.

In December 2018, the EHS LifeFlight crew reached out to Jack and used its act of kindness fund to partner with Jack's charitable fundraising and added the names of 80 seniors to the list of those who had received Christmas gifts.

[1:45 p.m.]

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I would like the members of the House to join me in congratulating Jack Sperry for the admirable work he has undertaken to honour the life of his brother and his generous spirit to care for others.

THE SPEAKER « » : The honourable member for Pictou Centre.

COLE, MELISSA: MENTAL HEALTH - NEEDS CONSISTENT CARE

HON. PAT DUNN « » : Madam Speaker, if it wasn't for her own determination, Melissa Cole wouldn't be matched with a social worker in working on getting her life back under control.

When she went to the hospital in fear that she would take her life if she didn't get help, she was told to come back in the morning when a psychiatrist was on duty. Melissa refused to leave and was given a spot in the psych ward overnight.

Last week she found herself once again having suicidal thoughts and once again reached out for help only to be disappointed. Melissa has been left with additional anxiety knowing that she has years of treatment ahead of her but no reasonable consistency in assistance.

Hopefully, by sharing her story, Melissa can help create change and for that I commend her.

THE SPEAKER « » : The honourable member for Fairview-Clayton Park.

BURTON ETTINGER STAFF: CHRISTMAS DANCE - THANKS

HON. PATRICIA ARAB « » : Madam Speaker, today I would like to recognize the staff at Burton Ettinger Elementary School for their extraordinary dance moves. This past Christmas the teachers of the school put on a Christmas dance for the students. Amy Adams spearheaded the choreography to everyone's favourite Christmas classic, Mariah Carey's All I Want for Christmas Is You. With over 8,000 views on YouTube, it's clear the dance was a big hit amongst students and parents, as well as our entire broader community.

I ask the members of this House of Assembly to join me in thanking the staff of Burton Ettinger Elementary School for making school a fun place to learn and to dance.

THE SPEAKER « » : The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

BERNARDO, CAROL: MENTAL HEALTH - NEEDS CONSISTENT CARE

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TIM HALMAN « » : Like many first responders, Carol Bernardo is living with PTSD. Unfortunately, Carol has not been able to access the services she needs to live a peaceful, happy life.

When she has expressed to friends that she has had suicidal thoughts, she has reached out for help and been told by hospital staff to just put her face in cold water. She has been discharged and said she still doesn't feel safe, only to be told there are no beds for her.

Carol has attempted to take her life multiple times within a 24-hour period, only to be turned away every time; told she doesn't meet the criteria to be admitted to the hospital.

Our mental health system has failed Carol, but she's lucky to have supportive friends and family helping her get through each day.

THE SPEAKER « » : The honourable member for Clayton Park West.

RAFAH DICOSTANZO « » : I beg leave to make an introduction. We have with us here in the East Gallery Ifeoma Esonwune. Ifeoma is a very vibrant, wonderful member of Clayton Park West riding and she is volunteering in I can't tell you how many things, but I will be reading my Members' Statement, and I thank her for choosing Clayton Park West to be her new home for the last two-and-a-half years.

THE SPEAKER « » : The honourable member for Clayton Park West.

ESONWUNE, IFEOMA: INVESTING IN YOUTH - THANKS

RAFAH DICOSTANZO « » : I would like to recognize a woman who works hard to create fun activities to help connect and educate youth of Clayton Park West. Ifeoma Esonwune immigrated to Nova Scotia from Nigeria two and a half years ago and now runs an event planning company, Matella Event Concepts.

Ifeoma volunteers her time to lead the Little Learner's Social Club where children get together and exchange stories of kindness and love. Ifeoma inspires children to be supportive with one another, all while having fun.

She recently hosted the Children Cook's Club at the Sobeys on Lacewood Drive. She organized a cooking guide and groceries for the kids to prepare a meal with the help of Chef Scott Piercey. Ifeoma hopes to make this kid's club a monthly activity and believes this experience will help the children become more active members in their community.

I ask this House of Assembly to join me in thanking Ifeoma for dedicating her time to helping the youth learn and grow.

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THE SPEAKER « » : The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

RICE, KRISTEN: MENTAL HEALTH - NEEDS CONSISTENT CARE

LARRY HARRISON « » : I rise today to commend Kristen Rice for bravely sharing her struggle with the mental health system in our province.

Kristen went to the QEII when she was experiencing suicidal thoughts. Things worsened when she wasn't allowed to have her peer support worker or her friend in the same room. Kristen had been sent home from the hospital on the same day she had attempted to take her own life, and she had been sent home without agreeing to a safety plan or agreeing that she wouldn't harm herself. The few times she had been admitted she was put in a dark, cold room, feeling more like a prisoner than a patient.

The mental health and addictions system in our province failed Kristen. I hope her bravery in sharing her story will bring much-needed change.

THE SPEAKER « » : The honourable member for Truro-Bible Hill-Millbrook-Salmon River.

INDIGENOUS PEOPLE: ENVIRO. CARE - ACT BOLDLY

LENORE ZANN « » : We have to act boldly if we want to reduce the effects of climate change. The time for endless talking is coming to a close. It's the Indigenous people who have been the earliest caretakers of the land we call Canada, and they continue to lead in the area of environmental care.

The treaty rights of Canada's Indigenous people have been acknowledged both in Canada and at the United Nations. Free, prior, and informed consent by local Indigenous nations is the legal bottom line that must be respected when approaching any resource proposal.

That's why I would like to recognize Dale Poulette for keeping the fire going in Sipekne'katik to try and save the Shubenacadie River. Citizens' voices must have prominence, Madam Speaker, in any decisions affecting the environment.

The Environmental Bill of Rights the NDP introduced is needed so that citizens have a voice in environmental issues and people have the right to legal action to protect their rights to clean air and water.

THE SPEAKER « » : The honourable member for Waverley-Fall River-Beaver Bank.

JOYCEY, MARC - CANDIDATE:

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FILM SCHOOL SCHOLARSHIP - BEST WISHES

BILL HORNE « » : I rise today to praise and give best wishes and congratulations to Wellington's Marc Joycey on his selection as one of the four candidates for a scholarship to the prestigious Vancouver Film School. The other three applicants are from Brazil, the United States, and South America.

Marc is set to graduate this Spring studying political science at Dalhousie University, but has decided he would rather play a lawyer than become one. Three of the candidates will receive a partial scholarship, and one will receive a full-scale ride.

The opportunity to attend the Vancouver Film School has strengthened Marc's decision to pursue acting as a career. I ask all members of the Legislature to join me in congratulating Mark on his success now and for the future.

THE SPEAKER « » : The honourable member for Sackville-Beaver Bank.

BALCOM, MELISSA: MENTAL HEALTH - NEEDS CONSISTENT CARE

BRAD JOHNS « » : Melissa Balcom was strong, brave, a trailblazer, beautiful, loving, giving, brilliantly hilarious, inspirational, and most of all, committed.

She fought for her life every second until she died. She recorded her thoughts to share with friends and family, so they could see her struggles and they could continue to fight for the change she wasn't able to see.

She spent two days in Abbie J. Lane Memorial and was released before she felt she was ready. She was in the ICU where she finally had her first psychiatric consultation and felt a glimpse of hope. While she was being discharged, she was told that it was up to her to keep herself safe.

Melissa didn't deserve the system that she experienced. Mel deserved better. I want to thank her friends, Fran and Rachael, for sharing her story in an effort to create change.

THE SPEAKER « » : The honourable member for Chester-St. Margaret's.

SMB RAILS TO TRAILS ASSOC.: RE-OPENING - CONGRATS.

HUGH MACKAY « » : The St. Margaret's Bay Rails to Trails Association recently completed a major improvement project celebrated by an official re-opening ceremony last September.

When the original railway around St. Margaret's Bay was closed, a group of dedicated volunteers founded their association in 1995, committed to transforming the old railbeds into active living infrastructure. Now, a trail spanning 32.5 kilometres from Hubley to Hubbards offers opportunities for walking, cycling, horseback riding, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and ATV activities. The trail is part of the Rum Runners Trail, which runs from Halifax to Lunenburg, and also connects to the Aspotogan trail.

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Three years ago, the group began a massive fundraising program coupled with thousands of hours of volunteer labour to resurface the trails; replace several bridge decks; repair ditches, culverts, and drainage issues; and trim trees and brush. Madam Speaker, the volunteer members of the St. Margaret's Bay Rails to Trails Association are to be congratulated on their important contribution to active transportation, wellness activities, and improved access to the enjoyment of our province's natural beauty.

THE SPEAKER « » : The honourable member for Argyle-Barrington.

O'CONNELL, SEAN: MENTAL HEALTH - NEEDS CONSISTENT CARE

HON. CHRISTOPHER D'ENTREMONT « » : When Sean O'Connell reached out for help after having suicidal thoughts, he never imagined it would be nearly a year and a half before he received an appointment with Mental Health Services. Sean went to the ER and was told to follow up with his family doctor. Unfortunately, he is among the thousands without a family doctor, so a friend's doctor agreed to help him through the referral process. He was put on antidepressants but they didn't help his condition. He needed proper assessment. He needed to be taken seriously. He needed to be someone's priority.

Sean was one of the lucky ones. Fifteen months after his initial trip to the ER, a cancellation gave him an opening for an appointment. I commend Sean for sharing his story and I hope it helps create change in our system.

THE SPEAKER « » : The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

NEOF: ACCESS TO YOUTH PROGS. - RECOG.

LISA ROBERTS « » : I want to recognize the continuous hard work and tremendous contribution and commitment of the North End Opportunities Fund and its volunteer board of directors, which includes educators, social workers, youth workers, and community members. Their goal is to provide young people in the North End of Halifax, including Bayers Westwood, with the opportunity to participate in programs they would otherwise be unable to take part in, be that an art camp, a sleepaway camp, music lessons, or participation in a sports team.

To date, the North End Opportunities Fund has facilitated the participation of over 190 youth in the athletic, artistic, and leadership activities of their choosing. I am pleased to advertise on the NEOF website and grateful that when I'm contacted by a parent who cannot afford to enroll their child in a particular program, I am able to refer them to the North End Opportunities Fund.

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THE SPEAKER « » : The honourable member for Annapolis.

BURRILL, GARY: MLA - QP CLARIFICATION

HON. STEPHEN MCNEIL (The Premier): Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to address the House in a statement. Yesterday during Question Period, I said I think the Leader of the New Democratic Party supported closing the mill. I said, I think. I have since talked to him; that is not accurate. I want to make sure I put that on the record. I don't want to misrepresent his position, so I just wanted to put that on the record that yesterday during Question Period, in one of my answers, I didn't want to allude a mis-intention of the Leader of the New Democratic Party.

THE SPEAKER « » : The honourable member for Queens-Shelburne.

THERIAU, BEN - ATHL.:

SPECIAL OLYMPICS SUMMER GAMES - CONGRATS.

KIM MASLAND « » : Mr. Speaker, today, 19-year-old Ben Theriau from Hunts Point, Queens County, is on his way to Abu Dhabi in the UAE to join 7,500 athletes from more than 190 countries as they compete in the 2019 Special Olympics World Summer Games. Ben is one of only six Nova Scotian athletes selected to be on Team Canada and will be competing in the 100 and 200 metre track events. Since the day it was announced that Ben would be joining Team Canada, he and his family have kept a busy schedule in preparation for this day and now here it is.

The entire community of Queens is bursting with pride for Ben. As he travels to the games, he takes all of our best wishes for an amazing experience, one which he has well earned. We're all with you Ben. Have a blast, buddy.

THE SPEAKER « » : The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.

VOLUNS.: HEART HOCKEY FUNDRAISER, BARHO FAM. - THANKS

BRENDAN MAGUIRE « » : Mr. Speaker, last night, March 5th at 6:00 p.m., a community came together. Hundreds of people packed the Spryfield Lions Rink for a hockey game to honour the Barho family and to raise money for HEART, the Hants East Assisting Refugees Team Society. Regulation ended in a 6-6 tie and the game was decided in a shootout, a fantastic and exciting game.

This was a moment for our community to come together to heal and love. I want to thank all the volunteers who made this happen: Jared Glazebrook, Peter Mowat, Josh Priest, Daryl Joseph, a special thanks to Kinnon Kendziora, Krista Reid and the Chebucto Minor Hockey for making this happen. Thanks to all the volunteers for bringing our community together.

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THE SPEAKER « » : The honourable member for Victoria-The Lakes.

LARUSIC, FRANKIE: MENTAL HEALTH - NEEDS CONSISTENT CARE

KEITH BAIN « » : Mr. Speaker, when Rosemary LaRusic saw a picture on Facebook of the homeless man sleeping under a tarp in a wheelchair, she knew right away it was her son Frankie. Frankie's severe mental illness had left him without a home, vehicle, children or any sort of income. He isn't considered a danger to himself or anyone else, so his mom is limited in the help she can give him. When he nearly froze to death he was considered in danger and admitted to the hospital. Unfortunately, he was released only a few days later and was back on the streets.

Frankie and Rosemary deserve better. Our system should ensure that people are safe, and their loved ones are able to help in any way possible. Let us commend Rosemary for speaking up and fighting to get Frankie the help he needs.

[2:00 p.m.]

ORDERS OF THE DAY

ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS TO MINISTERS

THE SPEAKER « » : The honourable member for Kings North.

PREM. - VALLEY REG. HOSP.: SERVICE EROSION - COMMENT

JOHN LOHR « » : Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Premier. Today the Halifax Chronicle Herald revealed a staggering erosion of services at Valley Regional Hospital which I will table.

The surgical wait-lists have extended beyond 3,000 surgeries. Within that number, urology surgeries have a wait-list of more than 900 and orthopaedic surgeries have a wait-list of greater than 1,300. It is yet another example of how this government has failed to tackle the crisis in health care.

My question for the Premier is: What does the Premier have to say to the people of Annapolis and Kings Counties who are facing unacceptable wait times due to the neglect of his government?

THE PREMIER » : I want to thank the honourable member for the question. As he would know, more recently, outside of the Memorandum of Understanding with physicians, we have put another $40 million in to deal with the issues of support around offices and pay. The docs are continuing at the negotiating table right now.

[Page 1849]

He would also know that last year alone we put in an additional $9 million in when it comes to orthopaedic wait times. That is $24 million in addition to what has already been put out in the last number of years, but we, like he, want to continue to see improvements in wait time and will continue to work with our service providers to best deliver that outcome.

JOHN LOHR « » : I thank the Premier for that answer. Patients from Yarmouth and South Shore are often transferred to Valley Regional despite having their own regional hospitals. This is particularly true for orthopaedic surgeries, but also for other surgeries. Valley Regional has outlined a clear need for an additional 50 beds and three surgery suites. This would be a first step to clearing some of the backlog.

The Premier likes to talk at length about his deep pocket plan for capital spending in Halifax, and 'less is more' plans for hospitals in Cape Breton, meanwhile the Valley drowns in the need for surgeries. My question for the Premier is: Does the Premier have a plan that will give Valley Regional the facilities that it needs?

THE PREMIER « » : I want to thank the honourable member for the question. We continue to invest in health care infrastructure across the province, including the Valley. At the Valley Regional the hospice is ongoing.

One of the issues that is not in his preamble that is a challenge is anesthesia. It not only impacts the Valley, it's impacting other parts of the province. That, in itself, impacts OR time - the surgeries that are taking place.

It is not just the fact that we continue to make those investments providing more OR time, more operations, we need to make sure that we have the entire disciplinary team that can actually carry out those surgeries.

THE SPEAKER « » : The honourable Leader for the New Democratic Party.

PREM.: LOW INCOMES - EXPLAIN

GARY BURRILL « » : Last week Statistics Canada reported that median incomes in Nova Scotia are the lowest - tenth out of ten - dead last in the entire country. Last month I heard the Premier say in his state of the province comments that, in his view, we are economically on the right path - the right road in Nova Scotia.

My question to the Premier is: How can a province possibly be on the right economic road when it has, as we have, the lowest incomes in the entire country?

[Page 1850]

THE PREMIER « » : I want to thank the honourable member for the question. We have continued to make investments in those most vulnerable in our populations when we ensure we are leaving more money in the pockets of low-income Nova Scotians by adjusting basic personal exemption, weighted heavily for those who need the support the most.

We continue to make transformational change that is going to take place in income assistance. At the same time, working with private sector employers to ensure that university and community college graduates get their first job opportunity in this province.

We are supporting that in wage support; continuing to make sure that we continue to grow the private sector in the province; and continue to make sure at the same time we are investing in public services.

He would know that we had a substantial number of increases in the public sector wage sector that we believe are affordable, but yet they were still being increased.

All of those will take time to continue to allow for the economy of the province to grow, and I look forward to continuing to see more people choose to stay and live and work in Nova Scotia.

GARY BURRILL « » : What the Premier is failing to square up to in this response is the government's comparative economic performance. Since the current government began its mandate, median incomes across Canada have risen by 6 per cent, but in this same period median incomes have risen in Nova Scotia by 0 per cent, 0.2 per cent.

I want to ask the premier: Does he not register some sense of dismay, or register some sense of alarm that Canadians in the rest of the country, outside of Nova Scotia, have seen income increases fare 30 times greater than ours have been in the period the Liberals have been in power?

THE PREMIER « » : Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the honourable member for the question. As he would know, there are many challenges facing this province. There have been structural challenges for successive decades. When it comes to delivering services in Nova Scotia, we've been out-stripping our growth. We will continue to deliver those services. We had some difficult decisions to make when we came into power to make sure that we were able to pay as we go.

Mr. Speaker, we are seeing positive signs in the incomes of Nova Scotians. We are also very encouraged by the fact we're starting to see that all-important cohort of 18 to 34-year-old population starting to grow in Nova Scotia. This is the third consecutive year that we've retained more young people than we've lost. All of that is because they recognize this province is moving in the right direction. We will continue to see that growth and they want to be part of it, they want to live here. Not only do they want to work here, they want to live here and raise their families here.

[Page 1851]

GARY BURRIL: Mr. Speaker, the premier has cited a great many different considerations, but none of these considerations changes the fact that incomes in Nova Scotia are as flat today as yesterday's Shrove Tuesday Pancakes.

Now look, the Conference Board of Canada has identified weak consumer demand as a key thing inhibiting economic growth in this province. So, I want to ask the Premier: How are we going to improve consumer demand when we've got the lowest incomes in Canada?

THE PREMIER « » : Mr. Speaker, he would know if he looked forward the wage growth in this province is keeping pace with the national agenda. He would also know when he uses a national number there are certain provinces, through resource development, which have seen huge growth.

We have seen, quite frankly, a record year when it comes to exporting opportunities and getting the proper price for our products. After successive decades when people would continue to sole source one market - take five bucks per pound for lobster in December. That was unacceptable to us when we came to power. All of that growth and the price of lobster turning around, and being spun around, and deckhands, fish operators, those are all positive signs.

What I want to tell the honourable member, it takes time to continue to move this province out of the direction it had been going under successive governments in this now positive way. In a direction that allows us to not only see a future for those of us that live here, but we see young people who are really showing their real confidence by choosing to live, stay, and work here.

THE SPEAKER « » : The honourable member for Pictou West.

H&W - DOCTOR RECRUIT.: SPECIALISTS - EMPHASIZE

KARLA MACFARLANE « » : Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health and Wellness.

Valley Regional's problems are not limited to a lack of facilities. They continue to combat the all-too-familiar problem of a lack of doctors, in this case, anesthesiologists. In the Fall the Valley Regional Hospital lost one full-time and one part-time anesthesiologist. Without sufficient coverage by anesthesiologists, surgery simply cannot go ahead. What we have is a choke point in the system that has a cascading effect.

My question is: Within the NSHA's doctor recruitment strategy, is priority given to those specialities like anesthesiologists who are vital to the patient flow?

[Page 1852]

HON. RANDY DELOREY » : Indeed, recruitment and priorities of recruiting the appropriate health care professionals is a priority for government, as well as the Nova Scotia Health Authority.

As the member, and I think others would be aware, looking at what the needs of the system are, do play a role in identifying the priority of the recruitment. But when there's a vacancy the recruiters are out there engaging, promoting those opportunities and looking to fill them as soon as possible.

KARLA MACFARLANE « » : Dr. Davidson is quoted in an article that was tabled earlier by my colleagues, saying the lack of anesthesiologists will result in patients actually losing limbs, and even dying, because surgeries cannot be performed - his words, not mine. Chief Anaesthesiologist Robert Doyle states that each lost doctor reduces the hospital's surgical capacity by 20 per cent, and it's leading those that remain towards a burnt-out state of feeling.

We have tried to talk about this at the Health Committee, but the majority on that committee will not let us talk about it; they refuse. I can't for the life of me understand why the government won't talk about the working conditions of its most sacred and scarce profession.

Why is the government refusing to listen to the concerns of our doctors in Nova Scotia?

RANDY DELOREY « » : In response to the member's question, the fact of the matter is that we do listen to physicians. Talking about the work being done - for example, the member is talking about surgical capacity and surgical work. We listened to doctors - a little over a year ago an orthopaedic team came together, produced a plan for the Nova Scotia Health Authority, and brought it to the government to address wait times and improve our capacity in the delivery of orthopaedic surgeries. We accepted that plan that was developed by doctors and presented to us - we listened to them, and we have taken action.

We have hired more ortho surgeons; we have hired more anaesthesiologists as part of that plan - that's listening to doctors and implementing those plans to improve care for all Nova Scotians.

THE SPEAKER « » : The honourable member for Cape Breton Centre.

H&W: ER OVERCROWDING - ADDRESS

[Page 1853]

TAMMY MARTIN « » : My question is for the Minister of Health and Wellness.

Over the course of the past five years, the number of visits made to the Cape Breton Regional Hospital Emergency Room by patients without a family doctor have more than doubled. Since 2011, the number of patients leaving the Regional without being seen has jumped by 34 per cent, with almost 1 in every 10 patients leaving without being seen by a doctor in 2018 - and I'll table that.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask the minister: Does he agree that these numbers indicate that the crises in primary care is a major contributor to overcrowded emergency rooms?

HON. RANDY DELOREY « » : Indeed, I have spoken here in the Legislature before, indicating that in fact we do believe - and I do believe - that strengthening access to primary care is one of the tasks needing to be done in order to reduce pressures on our emergency departments. That's why, Mr. Speaker, we continue to invest in recruitment of physicians and strengthening our collaborative practice teams.

The member raises questions about Cape Breton, where we have recruited eight new family physicians and seven new specialists (Interruptions)

THE SPEAKER « » : Order, please. The honourable Minister of Health and Wellness has the floor.

RANDY DELOREY « » : Four of those new doctors, Mr. Speaker, came through the immigration physician stream, which was implemented just about a year ago with my colleague the Minister of Immigration. We do take primary care seriously. We do believe that's an important part of our overall health care system and helps reduce the pressures on emergency departments.

TAMMY MARTIN « » : Mr. Speaker, over the course of the past few years the minister and the Premier both have responded to concerns about primary care in Cape Breton by pointing to the low rate of people on the family doctor list. Their argument, as I understand it, is that Cape Breton has one of the lowest subscription rates to the list, and there's nothing to worry about.

However, as we have learned this week, other numbers tell a different story. Last night it was reported that 20 doctors - 20 doctors - are withdrawing from providing in-patient care at our community hospitals because their compensation makes keeping a family practice open at the same time unsustainable.

I would like to ask the minister: Why is he closing community hospitals in Cape Breton that also provide primary care, when the need for more family doctors is so high?

[Page 1854]

RANDY DELOREY « » : In fact, Mr. Speaker, I think what the member was referring to was our investment in primary care infrastructure for Cape Breton. (Interruptions)

THE SPEAKER « » : Order, please. The honourable Minister of Health and Wellness has the floor.

RANDY DELOREY « » : That is investment in primary care facilities in those communities. It's an investment in our emergency facilities at Cape Breton Regional and at Glace Bay. (Interruption)

THE SPEAKER « » : Order, please. The honourable Minister of Health and Wellness has the floor.

[2:15 p.m.]

RANDY DELOREY « » : And Glace Bay, Mr. Speaker, and supporting those family practice teams include hiring 25 new health professionals in Cape Breton over the last two years to strengthen those collaborative practices.

THE SPEAKER « » : The honourable member for Kings North.

H&W - METHADONE TREATMENT: ADDICTION - PREVENT

JOHN LOHR « » : Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health and Wellness. Earlier this year, I visited addiction treatment centres in Cape Breton. While I was happy to see the great work being done to help people recover from addiction, I was sad to see the massive lineups of people at pharmacies waiting to get methadone. Withdrawal from substance abuse can be fatal, but people in Cape Breton deserve treatment for their addiction, not just to have one addiction replaced with another.

My question for the minister is: With the increase of people being put on methadone, are counselling and treatment services for these individuals being increased as well?

HON. RANDY DELOREY « » : The member raises a very important topic as it relates to opioid-use disorders, a challenge facing much of the country, and Nova Scotia is not immune. That's why one of the first programs I announced when I came in in 2017 as Minister of Health and Wellness was our opioid overdose response framework.

There are a number of factors to that, but one of them is the expansion of treatment options. In the last year, based upon our investments and expansion of treatment options, we've reduced the wait-list by just over 90 per cent, from over 200 people waiting to about 20 on the list, as of February.

[Page 1855]

JOHN LOHR « » : Mr. Speaker, while in Cape Breton, I was told that it costs 22 cents to make the dose of methadone, but the pharmacies sell it for $10 apiece. More and more people are being put on methadone and it is creating serious dependency issues in our communities. Apparently, a black market is being created by people taking their methadone, going out back, throwing up, and selling that to someone else.

My question for the minister is: Will the minister tell the House what is being done to prevent methadone from becoming just another street drug?

RANDY DELOREY « » : It's my understanding that methadone, and I'll verify this for the member, is to be taken in front of or with the treatment people.

Mr. Speaker, steps are taken to ensure the product, the treatment is consumed in front of health care professionals. Again, based upon the treatment protocols and standards, that would be the process for delivery of that drug treatment that would be followed in Nova Scotia, like other parts of the country.

THE SPEAKER « » : The honourable member for Argyle-Barrington.

H&W - THERAPISTS: QUALIFICATION STANDARDS - MAINTAIN

HON. CHRISTOPHER D'ENTREMONT « » : My question is to the Minister of Health and Wellness as well. In 2008, while in government, our Party passed legislation that clearly defined the requirements necessary to be classified as a counselling therapist in Nova Scotia. One of the requirements, among others, was applicants had to have a master's degree in order to register with the college.

Recently other provinces have been shifting from educational requirements for licensure to competency requirements. My question to the Minister of Health and Wellness is: Will he commit to maintaining the current qualifications to call yourself a counselling therapist?

HON. RANDY DELOREY « » : The member raises an important question around the regulation of health care professionals - indeed, as health care professionals, the self-regulation aspect of that.

At this point in time, Mr. Speaker, I am not aware of changes to that qualification standard within the college, so there is certainly nothing on my agenda I've seen that would suggest there would be any changes coming.

CHRISTOPHER D'ENTREMONT « » : The Canadian Free Trade Agreement allows people to transfer between provinces to work. Because qualifications vary from province to province, we're at risk of having people who have the equivalent of a diploma coming here and calling themselves counselling therapists. It would be the equivalent to taking a two-year nursing course, moving to another province, and calling yourself a registered nurse.

[Page 1856]

Counselling therapists are responsible for treating people with serious mental illness, and their college has been told by the department to prepare to accept those people who are less qualified, just because they call themselves a counselling therapist.

My question again to the minister is: Will he commit to maintaining the high standard it takes to be considered a counselling therapist in Nova Scotia, for the safety of our patients? (Applause)

THE SPEAKER « » : Just before we move on to the minister's answer, I want to remind the members of the audience in the gallery here that it's not proper to participate in the proceedings by showing pleasure or displeasure, so I'll ask you to refrain from showing either side there.

The honourable Minister of Health and Wellness has the floor.

RANDY DELOREY « » : What I do assure the member is that, indeed, when it comes to all of our health care professionals and the regulatory oversight that takes place, it is important. The public interest, as the member referenced, is the primary objective - ensuring and maintaining that public interest. I do commit, whether it's with counselling therapists or other regulated professions, that the public interest will remain top and foremost in any legislation or regulations governing those entities.

THE SPEAKER « » : The honourable member for Queens-Shelburne.

EECD - GO-TO TEACHERS: MENTAL HEALTH TRAINING - ADEQUACY

KIM MASLAND « » : Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Education and Early Childhood Development. In 2013, Go-To teachers were identified and trained across the province to help students navigate the mental health system. This one-day training, which didn't even include mental health first aid, was meant to be enough to prepare teachers to deal with everything from mild depression to suicidal thoughts.

Mr. Speaker, bullying in our schools is rampant. Students are having suicidal thoughts and this government thinks that one day of training is enough. My question to the minister is: What additional training is being provided to teachers to be prepared to handle student mental health issues?

HON. ZACH CHURCHILL » : Mr. Speaker, just one correction for the member: we are seeing the global number of bullying incidents decrease in our province, which I think is a positive thing that we should celebrate.

[Page 1857]

Mental health is always a challenge. Professional development for teachers is ongoing. There's funding available for that. We have particular funding on areas related to inclusive education as well. But further to that, we also want to have wraparound supports for our students, so we've brought in child and youth care practitioners, behavioural experts, and autism experts. We've also brought in the SchoolsPlus program. That's all designed to better provide mental health supports - well-being supports - to our students.

While we know we have not fixed all the challenges in the education system, we are seeing progress, and the feedback we are getting from the front lines has been generally positive.

KIM MASLAND « » : Mr. Speaker, I thank the minister for the response. I'd like to ask the minister to table the stats for the bullying incidents going down, because I can't seem to find those anywhere.

The Go-To training was designed for certain teachers that students would naturally turn to for help. Go-To training didn't provide educators with any additional way of bypassing wait-lists or accessing additional programs or services. This training took educators who had good relationships with students, gave them one day of training, and made them responsible for helping students with severe mental health crises as they sit on endless wait-lists.

My question to the minister is: Given this additional responsibility and stress that we've put on the educators, what service does the government provide for educators to protect their own mental health?

ZACH CHURCHILL « » : Mr. Speaker, these numbers have been reported publicly. I've done media interviews on them as well. We can make sure that the member gets the data on mental health.

We have increased supports in our schools. We've brought in non-teaching supports for the first time in education. SchoolsPlus is designed to help get students to the areas of government service where those services are needed, whether it's mental health or an issue at home that involves Justice or Community Services. That is all intended to pull some of the pressure off our educators, having these non-teaching supports in place.

There's still a lot of work to do. We know there are still issues with bullying - one incident is too many - and we're going to keep doing our very best to ensure that those non-teaching specialized supports are in place to help students with mental health, behavioural, and emotional issues, and to make sure we have that wraparound support in our schools that we know our kids need.

[Page 1858]

THE SPEAKER « » : The honourable member for Cape Breton Centre.

H&W - VALLEY REG. HOSP.: WAIT-TIMES REDUCT. - RESOURCES LACK

TAMMY MARTIN « » : Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health and Wellness. The department's promise to cut wait-times for hip and knee replacement surgeries, without adding additional resources, has put the surgical department of the Valley Regional Hospital in serious jeopardy.

Seven months after the province announced the program, chief anesthesiologist Dr. Robert Doyle and 23 of his colleagues at the hospital wrote a letter calling for a halt to the initiative at the hospital, saying it had led to the deterioration of overall care at the facility. The program put "unacceptable, additional pressure on an overburdened and over-capacity infrastructure and staff."

Mr. Speaker, will the minister admit that it was irresponsible to push forward with such an ambitious program without providing adequate resources to support it?

HON. RANDY DELOREY « » : Mr. Speaker, I'd encourage the member to go back just over a year ago, to Fall 2017, when we announced this initiative for increasing the access to orthopaedic surgeries. We were very clear that the proposal that came forward was one that was developed by the health care professionals, the surgeons themselves who had come forward to us with the proposal.

I'd like to clarify for the record and the member's remarks that we didn't include additional resources - in fact, we did. We hired four additional orthopaedic surgeons, as well as four anesthetists to support that work. On top of that, there were a number of other ancillary support health professionals, like physiotherapy and other services, that were brought on-stream to help move forward with this. So we did in fact invest based upon the program that was designed and brought to us by health professionals on the front line.

TAMMY MARTIN « » : Well, that is out of the words of 24 health care professionals at Valley Regional who are looking for support.

Mr. Speaker, while hip and knee wait-times absolutely need to be dealt with, they cannot be dealt with at the expense of people's lives. They need to be properly funded. The pressure that the minister's goal put on the Valley Regional Hospital has had dire consequences. Dr. Dion Davidson, a vascular surgeon at the hospital, said that as a result of the shortage of anesthesiologists, surgical time has been cut and as a consequence, people who needed surgeries have died before they could receive the surgery.

Will the minister please tell this House why he pushed recklessly forward with his plan when medical staff at the Valley Regional Hospital alerted him and told him of the danger?

[Page 1859]

RANDY DELOREY « » : Mr. Speaker, I find it unfortunate - the categorization of a recommendation that was brought forward from front-line health professionals through the Nova Scotia Health Authority to the department, which included increased resource allocation, which meant millions of dollars being invested to hire additional specialists and support providers in other health care professions to support this initiative.

This was a well-planned and financially-supported program that was rolled out across the province. These additional orthopaedic surgeries are available across the province, and where there are wait-lists, people can request a referral to another part of the province with a shorter wait-list so that we can actually stabilize and balance out the delivery of orthopaedic surgeries from one end of the province to the other.

THE SPEAKER « » : The honourable member for Cumberland South.

LAE - TEACHERS: MENTAL HEALTH TRAINING - VALUE

TORY RUSHTON « » : Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Labour and Advanced Education. In order to graduate with a Bachelor of Education, there are a number of requirements. Something that is not required is to take either a first aid course or a mental health first aid course. Educators are responsible for keeping our students safe, and without proper training, that's a daunting task.

Does the minister feel that mental health training would be a valuable asset for teachers?

HON. LABI KOUSOULIS » : I'd like to thank the member for the question. I do believe that mental health training, as well as first aid training, would be valuable for our teachers in the public school system. I think that those are skills that would help them deliver education to our students, and it would be of great benefit to the students as well.

TORY RUSHTON « » : That's how you answer "yes," Mr. Speaker.

Mental health first aid helps to identify the red flags and warning signs of any underlying mental health issues. In a world where cyberbullying continues to spread and more and more students suffer in silence, identifying these warning signs is as important as ever. Ensuring that all educators in the province are trained to identify mental health issues quickly becomes a difference between life and death for a student who is being cyberbullied.

My question for the Minister of Labour and Advanced Education is: Is he willing to work with universities to make mental health first aid mandatory for a Bachelor of Education?

[Page 1860]

[2:30 p.m.]

LABI KOUSOULIS « » : Mr. Speaker, I will pass this question on to the Minister of Education and Early Childhood Development. It is the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development that sets the criteria for teachers but, in terms of whatever they're looking for, I'm more than happy to work with the department and our universities to bring it forward.

HON. ZACH CHURCHILL « » : Mr. Speaker, it's very timely that this conversation happens in the Legislature because we do have a steering committee that's working with our B. Ed. providers to look at the curriculum, identify the additional needs that we have from a training perspective to deal with the complexities in the classroom, mental health and other supports as well.

So, the advice from the member is pertinent. These conversations are ongoing, and I look forward to informing the member and the House of the changes that are made to our B. Ed. programs to help our teachers better meet the needs of the system and the students.

THE SPEAKER « » : The honourable member for Sackville-Beaver Bank.

H&W: FREEDOM FOUNDATION OF N.S. - MIN. VISIT

BRAD JOHNS « » : Mr. Speaker, for over 30 years in the North End of Dartmouth, a dedicated team at the Freedom Foundation of Nova Scotia have been helping men transition from a life of addiction to a life of sober independence.

Hundreds of men have gotten back on their feet because of the work at the Freedom Foundation and their programming. Graduating from this program doesn't just mean recovering from addiction. It means developing skills, independence, and a sense of ownership again over your life.

Over the last 30 years, every single provincial Minister of Health has visited the Freedom Foundation to see the incredible work they do there. My question for our Minister of Health and Wellness is: Has he visited the Freedom Foundation?

HON. RANDY DELOREY « » : Mr. Speaker, at this point in time, I have not been over to visit the Freedom Foundation but I have learned about the services that are provided by them, as I have with other service providers that are operating in communities across this great province.

BRAD JOHNS « » : Mr. Speaker, Freedom Foundation is funded primarily through the Department of Health and Wellness. They say that they need an additional $10 a day increase to their funding to be able to run the programs that they need.

[Page 1861]

For 10 years, this funding that they currently receive hasn't changed. After visiting, you can clearly see first-hand how important the programming is and how far an additional $10 a day would actually go for the foundation.

Knowing how much the province invests into this program and the repeated requests for a visit from the minister, my question for the minister is: Why hasn't he visited the Freedom Foundation and would he be willing to?

RANDY DELOREY « » : Mr. Speaker, when I have the opportunity to get out to communities throughout the province, I do meet with and visit a wide range of service providers. Some of them are our partners, like the sites for our Health Authorities, and others are community-based organizations. I do my best to get around and get out to see as many as possible. I'd be happy to include this organization within the groups that I would visit in my next opportunity to get out in that part of the province, here in Central.

THE SPEAKER « » : The honourable member for Sydney River-Mira-Louisbourg.

H&W: ABSTINENCE-BASED PROG. - RETAIN

HON. ALFIE MACLEOD « » : Mr. Speaker, my question through you is to the Minister of Health and Wellness. For years, transition programs like Freedom Foundation of Nova Scotia and Talbot House have been operating abstinence-based programs for people recovering from addictions.

These programs have a zero-tolerance rate in place for alcohol or drug use. As methadone grows in popularity as a treatment for addiction, these programs are facing increasing pressure from the Nova Scotia Health Authority to switch from abstinence-based to methadone-based programming. My question to the minister is quite simple: Is the department going to force abstinence-based treatment programs to switch to methadone-based in order to continue receiving government funding?

HON. RANDY DELOREY « » : Mr. Speaker, I've never heard a proposal like that come forward or seen a proposal like that come forward. But what I can advise the member is in my engagement with a special focus on mental health and addictions, I went around and stopped at various sites to talk with mental health and addictions front-line staff. I asked them about treatments and the changes, because we did bring mental health and addictions departments together as a team rather than where they previously operated separately, and one of the things that they had highlighted, and I can perhaps delve deeper in the other response, is that there are changing clinical guidelines around best practices for treatment of addiction-based conditions.

ALFIE MACLEOD « » : Mr. Speaker, for the minister's benefit the answer was no.

[Page 1862]

Hundreds of people have graduated from the abstinence-based recovery programs like Freedom Foundation and Talbot House. Graduating from these programs requires constant support and determination. The graduation numbers prove that the innovative work being done by these programs truly does work for these clients.

With this proven track record of success of abstinence-based addiction recovery programs, will the minister commit to allowing these programs to continue without being forced to add methadone into their programs?

RANDY DELOREY « » : Mr. Speaker, the member is raising questions of a clinical nature as to what the best practices are for the delivery of clinical treatments. What I can assure the member and all members of the House, and all Nova Scotians, is that we will be guided by the best clinical advice and evidence that we have when governing the treatment programs and the delivery of those programs in the province. I think that's an important thing for members to keep in mind - when raising questions of a clinical nature, that we do, I think, take the lead from clinicians who know what the appropriate best practices would be.

THE SPEAKER « » : The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

H&W - PREP: UNIVERSAL COV. - COMMIT

SUSAN LEBLANC « » : Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health and Wellness.

Truvada is a drug used in the treatment of HIV. Individuals diagnosed with HIV are eligible for full coverage of this medication. Recent research has shown that when taken daily as PrEP, the drug is 98 per cent effective for the prevention of sexual transmission of HIV and 70 per cent effective for the prevention of drug injection transmission of HIV. Evidence from other jurisdictions have shown that universal coverage results in significant decline in new HIV diagnoses. British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan all provide universal coverage for PrEP.

Will the Minister of Health and Wellness agree to include universal coverage for PrEP in the upcoming budget?

HON. RANDY DELOREY « » : Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for raising this important question. As members of the Legislature may be aware, the province began covering PrEP as part of our formulary earlier this year, as part of our Pharmacare Program. As part of that announcement, one of the commitments we made was to engage and continue consultations to look at what else, other types work, and what role further coverage may include. That work has been ongoing with, I believe, our primary health care team.

[Page 1863]

As far as what's in the upcoming budget, I think the member can wait a couple of more weeks.

SUSAN LEBLANC « » : Mr. Speaker, I can't, I can't - I need to know now.

As of June 2018, Nova Scotia has 16 new HIV infections, double the expected number. Members of the PrEP Action Team has said that adding PrEP coverage through Family Pharmacare will have little to no impact on HIV rates in Nova Scotia, since many who would benefit from PrEP will not be able to afford the hundreds if not thousands of dollars in co-pay required before provincial support kicks in.

Universal coverage for PrEP would require a $1.5 million annual investment. This is just over the lifetime cost of HIV-related health care for one person. Does the minister agree it would make better sense and a better investment in preventive medicine than to continue to pay the cost of rising infection rates?

RANDY DELOREY « » : Mr. Speaker, the member raised a very important piece of information for this Legislature. For the members who aren't aware, with the increased number of HIV infections that we've seen in this past year, the vast majority of the increase has been seen actually in the area of drug use transmissions. That raises another very important question and challenge that we face - it goes back to our commitment and our efforts to provide more treatment options as well within the drug addiction space to help reduce those and avoid some of those other risk factors that are at play to avoid those increased transmissions and infections.

THE SPEAKER « » : The honourable member for Victoria-The Lakes.

H&W - MENTAL HEALTH ACT: INVOLUN. ADMIT. - RESOURCES

KEITH BAIN « » : Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Health and Wellness as well. According to the Mental Health Act, a person cannot be involuntarily admitted for care unless they are a danger to themselves or someone else. This creates problems for people who have family members who are living with severe mental illness but aren't considered a danger. Family members are unable to provide their loved ones with the intensive care they need, and it leaves them feeling helpless.

My question to the Minister of Health and Wellness is: What resources are available to get help for someone who needs it but is not considered a danger?

HON. RANDY DELOREY « » : As the member noted, the key distinction there is involuntary admittance to the care. Just like other health treatments, the health care system can't force treatments on individuals who have the capacity to make those health care decisions for themselves.

[Page 1864]

With respect to what types of services are available to individuals with mental health conditions, they obviously include services offered by the Nova Scotia Health Authority and other community-based partners who are available throughout the province. Obviously, crisis lines are available to help perform online assessments and other treatments that I can certainly engage with the member further, if he is so inclined.

KEITH BAIN « » : Mr. Speaker, I have a constituent whose son is homeless as a result of a severe mental illness. He was admitted to the hospital but was released a few short days later because he wasn't deemed to need long-term, intensive care. His illness caused him to lose his home, children, vehicle, and any sort of income.

He was admitted to the hospital because he nearly froze and starved to death, Mr. Speaker. If that isn't someone who needs intensive care, I don't know who is.

My question to the minister: When someone is admitted to the hospital under the Mental Health Act, is their safety and their best interests considered contributing factors as to when they get discharged?

RANDY DELOREY « » : Certainly when evaluating patients again and their suitability for discharge from a hospital system, whether from a physical ailment or a mental health one, indeed the clinicians who are making those discharge decisions have the clinical expertise and the intimate knowledge of the individual patients, as well as what their clinical needs may be, what needs would require the hospital services, and what may be required when they are discharged. All those components do come into play as those clinicians who are approving the discharge and discharge plan make those decisions and sign the discharge papers.

THE SPEAKER « » : The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

H&W: MENTAL HEALTH SERV. DART. GEN. - TRANSFERS

TIM HALMAN « » : Mr. Speaker, so far this session every time the Minister of Health and Wellness or Premier have been asked about ambulance shortages, they have been bragging about the new offload program at the Dartmouth General. Now the offload program might be helping avoid backups, but it isn't helping anyone in Dartmouth in a mental health crisis.

As the only regional hospital in the province without emergency mental health services, if you show up at the Dartmouth General with suicidal thoughts you are put in a taxi and sent to the QEII.

Mr. Speaker, my question to the Minister of Health and Wellness is this: Do the taxis get to use the ambulance door or do they have to use the main entrance?

[Page 1865]

HON. RANDY DELOREY « » : Mr. Speaker, the most important thing for the member to realize is that as a single Health Authority, the teams within the various facilities across the province do just that. They work together as teams providing services to meet the health care needs of all Nova Scotians.

I think the important thing for the member and his constituents to be aware of is that the Health Authority and the system are working together to ensure that the individuals get the care and the treatment they need, whether it be for physical or mental health conditions.

TIM HALMAN « » : Mr. Speaker, when the Auditor General called this government out on their lack of a mental health plan, the minister said that 911 is always available. Now, the people of Dartmouth are better off calling Bob's Taxi than 911 in order to get to the hospital that actually has the services they need.

[2:45 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, the Dartmouth General is in the middle of a multimillion dollar renovation. The staff of the Dartmouth General expected these services to be added, the residents of Dartmouth expected these services to be added. My question is this: Does the minister believe that the people of Dartmouth don't experience mental health emergencies?

RANDY DELOREY « » : Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the member drawing attention to the ongoing investment and expansion of services being provided to the Dartmouth General Hospital, including inpatient beds and surgical suites as part of the overall QEII New Generation redevelopment project.

Mr. Speaker, I assure the member and his constituents that indeed, Dartmouth is a critical piece of the health care delivery for the province and the Central Zone and of course, like any Nova Scotian, mental illness does not discriminate. Indeed, no matter where you reside, no matter your social status. We certainly acknowledge and recognize that any Nova Scotian could be afflicted by a mental illness.

THE SPEAKER « » : The honourable member for Northside-Westmount.

H&W: MENTAL HEALTH SERV. - IMPROVE

EDDIE ORRELL « » : Mr. Speaker, I just heard the minister say that for mental health illnesses, it doesn't matter where you reside, but it does matter where you reside if you're looking for treatment in a local hospital that is closed.

Mr. Speaker, a recent article in the Montreal Gazette that I will table, outlines the immediate action Concordia University took after the first ever student suicide on campus. It took one suicide for Concordia to implement stronger mental health services and supports. A single death sent the staff into immediate action and they're now leading the way on how we should respond to suicide.

[Page 1866]

My question to the Minister of Health and Wellness is: How many suicides will it take in Nova Scotia for the government to take action and improve mental health services?

HON. RANDY DELOREY « » : Indeed, our government, very clearly under the leadership of the Premier, my mandate letter makes it abundantly clear that one of my top priorities in my mandate is the investment and expansion of mental health services for the province.

We take this area of the health care system very seriously, it is one that I take seriously not just because it's in a mandate letter, Mr. Speaker. It's one that I take seriously because it affects all Nova Scotians.

EDDIE ORRELL « » : Mr. Speaker, universities in this province and universities across Canada have something in common - they both have been grappling with rising demands for better mental health supports for years.

Concordia has set the standard for mental health supports. The response to suicide shouldn't be the exception, it should be the rule. So, I'll ask the Minister of Labour and Advanced Education: Will the minister implement the same type of program in universities in Nova Scotia that Concordia University is looking into?

HON. LABI KOUSOULIS « » : Two years ago, with great success, Acadia University launched the peer-to-peer mental health support program as a pilot project. What they found was that the wait time for students decreased dramatically, because the interventions were there before any smaller anxieties could become more serious for the students.

Because of the success of this program we invested, in last year's budget, over $0.5 million and rolled this program out to all universities. Mr. Speaker, so far the results coming back have been very positive. Before rolling it out, we did have it peer reviewed from professionals and everything has been positive. I look forward to the support to the universities and to our students ongoing.

THE SPEAKER « » : We are going to add 30 seconds to Question Period.

The honourable member for Truro- Bible Hill-Millbrook-Salmon River.

LENORE ZANN « » : Mr. Speaker, I was going to ask a question today about the Alton Gas Treaty Truck House. The minister has left things in the air so much that there are now injunctions instead of consultations with our First Nations people. Is this really the path to reconciliation? Is this really the way of "we are all Treaty people"? I think not.

[Page 1867]

Does the minister commit today that this project will not go ahead before the province adequately consults Sipekne'katik First Nation?

HON. MARGARET MILLER » : I thank the honourable member for…

THE SPEAKER « » : Order, please. The time allotted for Oral Questions Put by Members to Ministers has expired.

Just before we move on to Opposition Business, the honourable member for Kings North on a quick introduction.

JOHN LOHR « » : Mr. Speaker, I want to introduce a friend in the West Gallery, Mark Wales, a farmer from Aylmer, Ontario, who grows garlic and peppers. He is here as part of the Canadian Horticultural Council Annual General Meeting.

Mark is a past president of many organizations: the Ontario Federation of Agriculture for three years; and the Garlic Growers of Ontario. I got to know Mark because we are both Nuffield scholars and he was a Canadian Nuffield scholar in 2004.

I would ask the House to give Mark Wales a warm welcome to the House. (Applause)

OPPOSITION MEMBERS' BUSINESS

THE SPEAKER « » : The honourable House Leader for the New Democratic Party.

CLAUDIA CHENDER » : Mr. Speaker, would you please call Public Members' Private Bills for Second Reading.

PUBLIC MEMBERS' PRIVATE BILLS FOR SECOND READING

THE SPEAKER « » : The honourable House Leader for the New Democratic Party.

CLAUDIA CHENDER « » : Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 89.

Bill No. 89 - Workers' Compensation Act.

THE SPEAKER « » : The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

SUSAN LEBLANC « » : Mr. Speaker, before we begin, may I make an introduction?

THE SPEAKER « » : Permission granted.

[Page 1868]

SUSAN LEBLANC « » : Thank you. I'd like to draw the attention of all members to the gallery opposite where we once again have a number of members of our firefighting community present.

I'd like to introduce them each by name. We have with us today: Captain Paul Edwards, Captain of Halifax Fire; Brendan Meagher, President of the Halifax Professional Firefighters Association; Joe Triff, Vice-President of the Halifax Professional Firefighters Association; Leonard March, Captain, Halifax Fire; Josh Chisling, former President, Truro Firefighters Association; Tom Malone, Truro firefighter; James Bissett, Truro firefighter; Craig Matthews, Truro firefighter; Martin Lapointe, Halifax Fire; Colin Gates, Halifax Fire; Kevin Guy, Halifax Fire; and Sarah Drysdale, Halifax Fire.

Please welcome them to the House. (Applause)

THE SPEAKER « » : The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

SUSAN LEBLANC « » : Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to speak to our bill to expand the presumptive coverage for occupational cancers available to firefighters in Nova Scotia.