The Nova Scotia Legislature

The House resumed on:
September 21, 2017.

Human Resources Committee - Committee Room 1 (1677)

   HANSARD

 

NOVA SCOTIA HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY

 

COMMITTEE

 

ON

 

HUMAN RESOURCES

 

 

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

 

 

LEGISLATIVE COMMITTEES OFFICE

 

 

 

 

 

Appointments to Agencies, Boards and Commissions

 

 

 

 

Printed and Published by Nova Scotia Hansard Reporting Services


 

 

 

 

 

 

STANDING COMMITTEE ON HUMAN RESOURCES

 

 

Mr. Bill Horne (Chairman)

Ms. Joyce Treen

Mr. Ben Jessome

Ms. Margaret Miller

Mr. Iain Rankin

Mr. Eddie Orrell

Ms. Karla MacFarlane

Hon. Maureen MacDonald

Hon. Denise Peterson-Rafuse

 

[Ms. Margaret Miller was replaced by Mr. Brendan Maguire]

[Mr. Iain Rankin was replaced by Mr. Joachim Stroink]

 

 

In Attendance:

 

Ms. Kim Langille

Legislative Committee Clerk

 

Ms. Annette Boucher

Legislative Counsel

 

 

HALIFAX, TUESDAY, JULY 28, 2015

 

STANDING COMMITTEE ON HUMAN RESOURCES

 

10:00 A.M.

 

CHAIRMAN

Mr. Bill Horne

 

MR. CHAIRMAN: Ladies and gentlemen, I’d like to begin our meeting; welcome to everybody who is here today. I’d like to make sure everybody has their cellphones off, or at least on vibrate.

 

We’ll start with introductions.

 

            [The committee members introduced themselves.]

 

            MR. CHAIRMAN: I’d just like a reminder that everybody who speaks should go through the Chair so that it makes it easier for the videotaping.

 

            Everybody has a copy of the agenda and probably the correspondence you’ve all seen over the past few weeks. We did have some concerns about what happened at our last meeting so we’re going to clarify that with a vote on the motion that has been put forward here to us, that was put forward by the Legislative Counsel. The four topics: Labour and Advanced Education, university sandboxes; Starr Dobson, mental health; Labour and Advanced Education, RN education review; and Education and Early Childhood Development, the hub school model - we can have a vote on those.

 

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

 

            There’s a tie, so I have to vote. I’m voting against.

 

            The motion is defeated.

 

            Mr. Maguire.

 

            MR. BRENDAN MAGUIRE: I’d like to put a motion on the floor that we vote on each topic individually.

 

            MR. CHAIRMAN: I would agree with that. Ms. MacDonald.

 

            HON. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Chairman, there are other members on the committee who do get an opportunity to speak before the chairman decides what’s going to occur.

 

            It seems to me that the last time we went through a process of setting the agenda, there were subjects brought forward from all the caucuses. The motion that was put forward for topics was amended to include topics from other Parties and those amendments were adopted. Then the final motion of adopting the topics as amended was not voted on because of some procedural oversight, I guess, by the chairman, according to Legislative Counsel’s memo to us.

 

            This is highly inappropriate that now members of the government caucus come in and wipe out decisions that were made to allow for the inclusion of topics from Opposition Parties. This makes a complete mockery out of this committee - a complete mockery out of this committee. This is a committee that has operated in a way where each of the Parties bring forward topics and each Party has an opportunity to have their topic heard in front of this committee. I really cannot believe that the government members think this is an appropriate way to conduct business at this committee. It’s very undemocratic, I have to say, and . . .

 

            MR. CHAIRMAN: Thank you for those words. Mr. Stroink.

 

            MR. JOACHIM STROINK: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I guess I’m not sure if the member opposite may have heard what Mr. Maguire just threw out there, that instead of going through all of them, all in one vote, we’re going to individually have a discussion and vote on each one so your topics can be discussed and put forward, so we can have a fruitful discussion on each of the topics . . .

 

            MS. MACDONALD: We already had this discussion. We had this discussion the last time and it didn’t go their way so . . .

 

            MR. CHAIRMAN: Excuse me, excuse me . . .

 

            MR. STROINK: Actually, it’s my turn to speak. I was respectful to you and I listened to you when you spoke and now I ask you to do the same.

 

            I’m asking that we sit here and vote on each one individually. If you’ve already had the discussion - obviously that didn’t happen at the last go-round so now we’re going to do that. That’s the motion on the floor so let us vote on each one individually.

 

            MR. CHAIRMAN: I have one more speaker. Mr. Orrell.

 

            MR. EDDIE ORRELL: Mr. Chairman, I don’t think the member opposite was at the last meeting when this took place. Normally what happens in this committee and in all committees I’ve sat on for the four years I’ve been here is, when we set agendas, we get a topic from each caucus and that’s what we put forward and it’s voted on at the time.

 

We didn’t even have that opportunity the last time. A member from the governing Party put the three people on the agenda that they wanted. We tried to amend it to put someone on that we wanted to talk about - important issues to people in our constituencies and people in the province. That’s when it was voted down.

 

            We had that discussion at the time. If that was the case and we’re going to vote on them individually, the ones that we want are there now. We just had that vote and it was shot down. So let’s go through the motion and we’ll find out if we’ll put them back on the agenda like we did. Then we’ll really know if democracy is going to work and we’ll see what this governing Party is going to do with that.

 

            That’s my concern right now. We’ve had that conversation. It didn’t go the way they wanted it to go so they shot it down. Now they want to vote on it individually. Is there a difference? If there is, we should have just voted on it the way we just did.

 

            MR. CHAIRMAN: We have a motion on the floor. Ms. MacDonald.

 

            MS. MACDONALD: For the information of the member for Halifax Chebucto who wasn’t here at the last committee meeting, there were, in fact, discussions. If you go back and look at the record, you will see that there were discussions around the various topics.

 

            You will also see that the hub school, for example, was a topic from the government caucus, brought forward initially by your caucus, but when it came to committee, members of the committee for some mysterious reason didn’t want the hub school to be discussed in front of the committee. So the NDP caucus agreed to withdraw one of our topics and to allow the Liberal caucus topic of the hub school to go forward.

 

            I think we had quite a good discussion about the various topics and there is no reason for us to be taking up time going through each topic one by one. I think it would be very useful to review the record prior to coming to a committee so that you understand what occurred before.

 

            MR. CHAIRMAN: I think I would like to just continue on with the motion that Mr. Maguire is going to suggest. Enough discussion has been done on - I think we’ll still go with the motion. (Interruptions)

 

            MS. MACDONALD: I don’t think you get to decide what people can’t speak at the committee.

 

            MR. CHAIRMAN: Okay, I’ve been - Ms. Peterson-Rafuse.

 

            HON. DENISE PETERSON-RAFUSE: I have to concur with my colleagues on this side. We did have quite a discussion around the agenda topics. It’s unfortunate that the government once again is using their majority to exclude a topic that is very pertinent in the people’s minds in Nova Scotia. Even their own Premier said that they need to be working out the hub school situation and that the hub schools’ responsibility is under the school boards.

 

            So we do not understand what would be the reason that this government would want to exclude a discussion that’s very pertinent in the news and that the Premier himself instructed - and Minister Karen Casey - that the recent committee that came to visit the Premier with respect to this issue was told to go back to the school board. So what is the problem of having that on the agenda here? I’m really quite baffled, especially when it was originally brought forth by the government.

 

            MR. CHAIRMAN: Ms. MacFarlane, you may have a word or so.

 

            MS. KARLA MACFARLANE: Thank you very much, I appreciate it. I guess I just want to say with regard to the last meeting, I know there was a lot of confusion and we had put the motion forward - I just want to have an opportunity to say that I was deeply, deeply interested at the time of making sure that mental health was on the agenda due to having a good indication of what was going to happen in Pictou County. I know that many of you are aware of what’s happening there.

 

            I just wanted to express that and hope that all consideration right now will be given to keeping that on the agenda when we decide if we are voting individually on each topic - that you are all aware of the unfortunate situation that’s happening in Pictou County.

 

            MR. CHAIRMAN: Mr. Maguire.

 

            MR. MAGUIRE: I’d just like to once again put forward the motion that we vote on each topic individually, with all respect to the opinions given here.

 

            MR. CHAIRMAN: Well, we’ll ask for topics and we’ll start with Mr. Maguire to talk about each one.

 

MR. MAGUIRE: So we would like to . . .

 

            MR. ORRELL: Mr. Chairman, do we get to put forward what we want to talk about now or are we going to talk about what has been put forward already, because that has been shot down, that motion is gone?

 

            MR. CHAIRMAN: That’s right, it is.

 

            MR. ORRELL: So do we get to put our own topics back in again and vote on them?

 

            MR. CHAIRMAN: Mr. Maguire has the floor.

 

            MS. MACDONALD: I didn’t know this was going to be brought back.

 

            MR. MAGUIRE: The topics that we’d like to put forward from the Liberal caucus, the first one is the Public Safety Prosecutor.

 

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

 

            The motion is carried.

 

            Ms. MacFarlane.

 

            MS. MACFARLANE: We would like to put forward Starr Dobson, mental health.

 

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

 

            I also vote Nay.

 

The motion is defeated. (Interruptions)

 

            MS. MACFARLANE: I can’t believe that.

 

            MS. MACDONALD: I’d like to bring forward the Liberal caucus topic of the hub school model, please.

 

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

 

            The motion is defeated.

 

            Another motion? Mr. Stroink.

 

            MR. STROINK: Yes, university sandboxes.

 

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

 

            The motion is carried.

 

            Ms. MacFarlane.

 

            MS. MACFARLANE: I’m sorry but there are two topics that I can’t believe we’re not considering to be discussed. I’m wondering if we can have an open dialogue as to why we would not consider having mental health and hub schools. Are we able to have - we can’t? (Interruptions) Okay.

 

            MR. CHAIRMAN: Any further topics?

 

            MR. ORRELL: Do we get to put another one forward so we can have that voted against too? Or are we just going to let them pick three, like you did the last time?

 

            MR. CHAIRMAN: Mr. Orrell.

 

            MR. ORRELL: We’d like to bring forward Starr Dobson, to present mental health. (Interruptions)

 

            MR. CHAIRMAN: It has already been voted on.

 

            Ms. Peterson-Rafuse.

 

            MS. PETERSON-RAFUSE: Yes, I’d like to bring forward the topic: the meaning of democracy in Nova Scotia.

 

            MR. CHAIRMAN: I think that’s inappropriate.

 

            MS. PETERSON-RAFUSE: What you guys are doing is inappropriate, this is inappropriate. You don’t know the definition so maybe we should have a discussion about it.

 

            MR. CHAIRMAN: Mr. Maguire.

 

            MR. MAGUIRE: I’d like to put forward the report card changes.

 

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

 

            The motion is carried.

 

Mr. Stroink.

 

            MR. STROINK: RN education review, I’d like to put that forward.

 

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

 

            The motion is carried.

 

Mr. Orrell.

 

            MR. ORRELL: Mr. Chairman, if I may, we started back in our last meeting with the Liberal caucus bringing forward three topics for discussion. The three topics were university sandboxes, report card changes, and RN education review. We went through a ton of discussion, trying to get some other things on that are important to Nova Scotians, and we end up back in the same place. We’ve all been elected on democratic rights and reviews and have democratically been elected. What we’re seeing here today, it’s not even close to democracy.

 

            I just want to express my concern and my disappointment at how this committee has gone - how it has been run, how things are put forward for discussion, and the disgust that I feel right now in what we’re doing here and how we’re doing it. I just want to have that on the record because it’s not fair. I’ve been on committees for four years, different committees, and when our caucus has people coming to us with serious issues in this province that they would like to have discussed in committees, and then to have it shot down like that because they don’t think it’s right at this time.

 

            Mental health right now in this province is huge. We think there’s a crisis in mental health and not to have someone who is involved in the mental health system come here and discuss how we can do things to change that, how we can make things better - I just want to voice my concern. Thank you.

 

            MR. CHAIRMAN: I will ask then, if you have any additional topics you would like to bring up - this is for the future, for the next five or six months. Not hearing any . . .

 

            MS. MACDONALD: Mr. Chairman, I have my hand up. Do you not recognize when people . . .

 

            MR. CHAIRMAN: I do recognize you, Ms. MacDonald.

 

            MS. MACDONALD: Thank you. The practice to bring topics before this committee is generally to inform the committee that this is going to occur - committee members - prior to us arriving here so we have an opportunity to speak with our caucus and to bring forward topics through that process. To arrive here today and have prior decisions that were made just erased, and to have no opportunity to be told that there would be expectations that new topics would be brought forward, is highly irregular. This is not the way this committee has operated in the past.

 

            It’s not that people do not have other topics that they wouldn’t wish to bring forward. It’s that there hasn’t been the opportunity to have those discussions with my caucus colleague and other colleagues in the caucus. I would assume the same would be true for the members of the PC caucus.

 

            It’s pretty clear what’s going on here. The Liberal members of the government backbench have been given their marching orders to come here and ensure that there aren’t any topics, witnesses, and hearings in front of this committee on a go-forward basis that could cause the government any problems. We’re not idiots - we all know that’s what’s going on - and to the extent that they’ve removed one of their own topics, the hub schools, which has now become a huge embarrassment for the government in terms of their inability to introduce a hub school implemented anywhere in the province.

 

            The fact that the government members are not prepared to entertain someone like Starr Dobson from the Mental Health Foundation, to talk about her work and the work of the Mental Health Foundation, is disgraceful. There’s no other way to characterize it. It’s absolutely disgraceful.

 

            There are people in our province every day who are suffering because of a lack of mental health services. This is a government that has frozen the health budget; we’re seeing cuts in mental health programs at the community level; we’re seeing units shut down in acute care facilities around the province for a lack of planning, after two years of this government, in the mental health system. They really don’t want anybody talking about that. That is disgraceful.

 

            MR. CHAIRMAN: Thank you for your comments. I’d like to now proceed with the agenda items.

 

            MS. PETERSON-RAFUSE: Mr. Chairman, I have a couple of topics that I would like to present.

 

            MR. CHAIRMAN: I’ll give you one opportunity.

 

            MS. PETERSON-RAFUSE: I have three topics that I would like to present, since we haven’t had the opportunity for any of ours to be accepted. I would like to (Interruption) Pardon?

 

            MR. CHAIRMAN: We should probably have these go to your caucuses to come forward with the new proposals.

 

            MS. PETERSON-RAFUSE: You didn’t give us the opportunity beforehand so please don’t flip it over now. (Interruption) No, we did not, we were not notified of these changes today.

 

            I’d like to bring forward . . .

 

            MR. CHAIRMAN: Mr. Maguire.

 

            MS. PETERSON-RAFUSE:  I haven’t finished, I was just presenting some topics from the NDP for consideration. (Interruptions)

 

            MR. CHAIRMAN: Go forward.

 

            MS. PETERSON-RAFUSE: Okay. I’d like to bring forward the topics of addiction services in Nova Scotia, number one; number two, rural school outcomes; and number three, the strategy for people with disabilities, the transformation and the 10-year plan - that’s the third.

 

            MR. CHAIRMAN: The third one is what? Would you repeat that?

 

            MS. PETERSON-RAFUSE: That one would be the transformation for those with disabilities, the 10-year road plan.

 

            MR. CHAIRMAN: I would think that would be more for Community Services.

 

            MS. PETERSON-RAFUSE: Not necessarily, if these other ones that you’re bringing forward here, what would be the difference? We could say that some of those other ones could sit in different committees, what would be the difference? (Interruptions)

 

            MR. CHAIRMAN: Okay, you can still make the motion. We are considering issues that are assigned within the purview of the Departments and Ministries of Education, Culture, and Labour. But go ahead and make your motion.

 

            MS. PETERSON-RAFUSE: I was making the motion that these three topics be put on our future agenda.

 

            MR. CHAIRMAN: All right, we have a motion on hand here. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

 

            The motion is defeated.

 

We’ll now go on to our agenda - the appointments.

 

            The first appointments are to the Department of Agriculture, Weed Control Advisory Committee. Mr. Maguire.

 

            MR. MAGUIRE: Mr. Chairman, I move that James Baillie, Peter Burgess, James Crooker, Keith Fuller, Dawn Miller, Dr. Scott White, and Steven Tattrie be appointed to the Weed Control Advisory Committee as members.

 

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

 

            The motion is carried.

 

            The Department of Justice, Mr. Stroink.

 

            MR. STROINK: Mr. Chairman, I move that George Hudson, Valerie MacKenzie, and Estelle Theriault be appointed to the Law Foundation of Nova Scotia Board of Governors as members.

 

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

 

            The motion is carried.

 

Mr. Jessome.

 

            MR. BEN JESSOME: Mr. Chairman, I move that Ivan Baker, Paul Calder, Craig Gerrard, Dorothylane Hale, and Wayne Talbot be appointed to the Municipal Boards of Police Commissioners as members.

 

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

 

            The motion is carried.

 

            Everyone has received all the correspondence - are there any issues that need to be clarified? Not hearing any, I call for a motion to (Interruption)

 

Before I do that, the next meeting is August 25th at 10:00 a.m. - ABCs only.

 

I’d like to adjourn the meeting.

 

            [The committee adjourned at 10:25 a.m.]