Assemblée Législative de la Nouvelle-Écosse

Les travaux de la Chambre ont repris le
21 septembre 2017

Hansard -- Thurs., Apr. 27, 2000

First Session

THURSDAY, APRIL 27, 2000

TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE
PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS:
Educ.: Cuts - Oppose, Mr. J. Holm 4542
Educ.: Cuts - Oppose, Mr. D. Downe 4543
Educ. - Students: Future - Care, Mr. B. Taylor 4543
STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS:
Donahoe, Richard Alphonsus (MLA 1954-70, Senator 1979-84),
Death of - Family: Condolences - Offer, The Premier 4544
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS:
No. 47, Education Act, Hon. J. Purves 4547
NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 1539, Commun. Serv. - Social Assist.: Sample Day - Premier Take,
Mr. Robert Chisholm 4547
Res. 1540, Gov't. (N.S.): People - Remember, Mr. R. MacLellan 4548
Res. 1541, CB West MLA - Economy (N.S.): Negativity -
Research Increase, Mr. F. Chipman 4549
Res. 1542, Gov't. (Can.): Shipbuilding Policy (Natl.) - Lobby,
Mr. Robert Chisholm 4550
Vote - Affirmative 4550
Res. 1543, Educ. - Budget (2000-01): Rhetoric (Min.) - Case,
Mr. Manning MacDonald 4550
Res. 1544, Health (Canada): Commitment (Min. 26/04/00) - Remind,
Mr. B. Taylor 4551
Res. 1545, Hfx. Bedford Basin MLA: Budget (2000-01) -
Enlightenment, Mr. J. Holm 4552
Res. 1546, Educ. - Schools: Lun. Co. - Retention Commitment,
Mr. D. Downe 4552
Res. 1547, Eileen Cameron Henry (Antigonish), Death of:
Commun. Contributions - Thanks Express, Hon. A. MacIsaac 4553
Vote - Affirmative 4554
Res. 1548, Educ. - Priority: Funding Cut - Inappropriate,
Ms. E. O'Connell 4554
Res. 1549, Premier - Power: Exercise - Responsibility Take,
Mr. R. MacLellan 4555
Res. 1550, Educ. - Univ.: Student Qualifying - Difficulties Increase,
Ms. Maureen MacDonald ^Res. 1551, Health - Care System: Americanization - Consequences Heed, 4556
Dr. J. Smith 4556
Res. 1552, Shelburne MLA - Budget (N.S.-2000-01): Oppose -
Encourage, Mr. F. Corbett 4557
Res. 1553, Health: Natl. Organ & Tissue Donation Awareness Week -
Recognize, Mr. K. MacAskill 4558
Vote - Affirmative 4566
Res. 1554, Premier & PC Party (N.S.) - Doomed, Mr. D. Dexter 4559
Res. 1555, Human Res.: Admin. Professionals Week - Recognize,
Mr. M. Samson 4559
Vote - Affirmative 4560
Res. 1556, Commun. Serv. - Child Poverty (17/08/99 on): Deficit -
Recognize, Mr. K. Deveaux 4560
Res. 1557, Educ. - Cuts: Info. Incomplete - Chastise, Mr. R. MacKinnon 4561
Res. 1558, Premier - Telephone Overload: Complaints - Assume,
Mr. H. Epstein 4561
Res. 1559, Educ.: Children - Future Investment, Mr. W. Gaudet 4562
Res. 1560, C.B. West MLA: Grip Improve - Polident Use,
Mr. J. Pye 4562
Res. 1561, Gov't. (N.S.) - Views (N.S.): MLAs Represent - Realize,
Mr. D. Wilson 4563
Res. 1562, Culture - Laura Jolicoeur: Children's Book (Moons &
Mermaids) - Work Recognize, Ms. E. O'Connell 4564
Vote - Affirmative 4564
Res. 1563, Educ. - Schools: Support Staff - Funding Ensure,
Mr. Manning MacDonald 4565
Res. 1564, Kings S. MLA - Tory Maxim: Tough Times - Remember,
Mr. John MacDonell 4565
Res. 1565, Gov't. (N.S.): Blue Book - Revisit, Mr. K. MacAskill 4566
Res. 1566, Educ. - Min.: School - Visit, Ms. Maureen MacDonald 4567
Res. 1567, Gov't. (N.S.): Resignation - Urge, Mr. M. Samson 4568
Res. 1568, Fin.: Sysco Documents (2) - Release, Mr. F. Corbett 4569
Res. 1569, Lbr.: Health & Safety Issues - Ignoring Stop,
Mr. R. MacKinnon 4569
Res. 1570, Educ.: Estimates - Rescind, Mr. D. Dexter 4570
Res. 1571, Educ.: Student Loan Remission Prog. - Reinstate,
Mr. W. Gaudet 4570
Res. 1572, Justice (Can.) - Mark Crossley: Cannabis Legal Use -
Success Congrats., Mr. John MacDonell 4571
Res. 1573, Educ. - SW Reg.: Needs - Plan Reveal, Mr. J. Pye 4572
ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS:
No. 590, Educ. - Schools: Power - Centralization, Mr. Robert Chisholm 4574
No. 591, Educ. - Budget (2000-01): Cuts - Teachers Inexact,
Mr. R. MacKinnon 4575
No. 592, Educ. - Schools: Admin. - Centralization,
Ms. Maureen MacDonald 4576
No. 593, Educ.: SW Reg. Sch. Bd. - Division, Mr. W. Gaudet 4577
No. 594, Fin. - Equalization: Formula - Fairness, Mr. Robert Chisholm 4578
No. 595, Educ. - NSTU: Collective Agreement - Support,
Mr. D. Downe 4580
No. 596, Educ.: Budget (2000-01) - Employment Equity,
Ms. Maureen MacDonald 4581
No. 597, Sysco - Sale: Operations Continuance - Ensure,
Mr. Manning MacDonald 4582
No. 598, Health - Reg. Bds.: Plans Revision - Cost, Mr. D. Dexter 4583
No. 599, Sysco - Sale: Bidders - Alternative, Mr. R. MacLellan 4584
No. 600, Transport. & Pub. Wks.: Privatization - Intention,
Mr. Robert Chisholm 4586
No. 601, Housing & Mun. Affs. - Assessments: Costs - Downloading,
Mr. D. Wilson 4587
No. 602, Agric. - Budget (2000-01): Cuts - Farmers Ignored,
Mr. John MacDonell 4588
No. 603, NSLC - Privatization, Mr. K. MacAskill 4590
No. 604, NSLC - Privatization: Review - Publish, Ms. E. O'Connell 4591
GOVERNMENT BUSINESS:
GOVERNMENT MOTIONS:
ON MOTION FOR SUPPLY:
Ms. Maureen MacDonald 4593
Mr. B. Boudreau 4596
Ms. M. McGrath 4599
Mr. J. Holm 4602
HOUSE RESOLVED INTO CWH ON SUPPLY AT 3:50 P.M. 4605
HOUSE RECONVENED AT 6:00 P.M. 4605
ADJOURNMENT:
MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5):
Agric. - NSAC: Cuts - Reconsider:
Mr. John MacDonell 4606
Mr. R. MacKinnon 4608
Mr. J. Carey 4610
HOUSE RESOLVED INTO CWH ON SUPPLY AT 6:30 P.M. 4613
HOUSE RECONVENED AT 7:55 P.M. 4613
HOUSE RECESSED AT 7:56 P.M. 4613
HOUSE RECONVENED AT 7:58 P.M. 4613
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Fri., Apr. 28th at 9:00 a.m. 4614

[Page 4541]

HALIFAX, THURSDAY, APRIL 27, 2000

Fifty-eighth General Assembly

First Session

12:00 P.M.

SPEAKER

Hon. Murray Scott

DEPUTY SPEAKERS

Mr. Brooke Taylor, Mr. Wayne Gaudet, Mr. Kevin Deveaux

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Before we begin the daily routine, the winner of the draw for this evening's late debate was submitted by the honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.

Therefore be it resolved that this government reconsider its plan to chop $1.5 million from the budget of the Nova Scotia Agricultural College.

This will be debated this evening at 6:00 p.m.

Also, before we begin the daily routine, I would just like to announce that yesterday, after the House recessed, I was met by a delegation of students representing the students who had been protesting in or near the Legislature over the past week. As a result of damage that was done to this building last week, they voluntarily, among themselves, took up a collection to pay for that window that was broken in the members' lounge. We are attempting now to ascertain how much money is in the box and their wishes were that if there is any money over and above what is required to fix the window, it be donated to the IWK in the name of the students. (Applause)

4541

[Page 4542]

So on behalf of all the members, I certainly congratulate them on their maturity and responsible actions on their behalf. I am sure that everyone here would agree.

The honourable Minister of Labour.

HON. ANGUS MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of personal privilege and it is on behalf of the member for Cape Breton North. I do so as the Minister of Labour responsible for Occupational Health and Safety. Yesterday, the honourable member was obviously exposed to an unsafe work environment. While the honourable member for Cape Breton West was in an agitated state, spouting falsehoods, the exposed cranium of the Leader of the Liberal Party was in danger of being fatally cut by the flying incisors of the member for Cape Breton West. (Laughter)

I hereby, Mr. Speaker, with the assistance of the Page, present the Leader of the Liberal Party with this hard hat for his protection from the daily spouting of falsehoods from the member for Cape Breton West. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: I remind the honourable minister that there are to be no props used in the House. There is no prima facie case of privilege.

The honourable Leader of the Liberal Party.

MR. RUSSELL MACLELLAN: I just want you to know, Mr. Speaker, I am going to keep the hat. (Laughter) I want to thank the Minister of Labour for his heartfelt concern and I did go back and notice that there were teeth marks on the back of my neck. (Laughter) Not having run into any vampires during the day, I can only speculate as to how that may have happened but thank you very much and I thank the member for Cape Breton West for his allowing me to have this.

I would like to do an introduction, if I may, and I would like to introduce the former member for Cape Breton Centre, Russell MacNeil, who served well and ably and with great distinction and is a friend to so many of us here in the Legislature. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. We will begin the daily routine.

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present this petition on behalf of the students of Caudle Park Elementary School in Sackville. It is addressed to Premier John Hamm and Minister of Education, Jane Purves. The petition reads, "We have put together this petition as a group because of the cuts that you have made to our Education System. We feel

[Page 4543]

that it is unfair and hypocritical that we, the student body are not only losing our Fine Arts programs, possibly our French Immersion, but also some of our newer teachers and EPA's, etc. Students can't possibly learn while being in a class of 30 or more students. We are submitting a list of signatures collected from people who oppose your budget cuts to our Education System. Please reconsider your cuts, for the future of all students and soon to be students in Nova Scotia."

Mr. Speaker, I congratulate the students for their efforts, and I have affixed my signature to the petition in support of the petition they want brought forward.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable member for Lunenburg West.

MR. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, this is a petition that is made out to the Minister of Education and the Premier of the Province of Nova Scotia. It is a petition with regard to the budget cuts in Education. They go on to say, "By affixing our names to this petition we are voicing our strong protest over these extreme and ill-conceived cuts which will lead to unmanageable class sizes, teacher layoffs, school closures and an irreversible erosion of the educational system." This has been signed by Park View Education Centre students, faculty and family. There is about 884 signatures, and I have signed my name to this. I understand there is more to come.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition on behalf of Grade 5 and Grade 6 students at Musquodoboit Central Elementary School. There are 51 students from the Grade 5 and Grade 6 classes at the elementary school. The prayer on their petition simply reads, "This Is Our Future, Sign If You Care." I have affixed my name to the petition.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Premier.

[Page 4544]

HON. JOHN HAMM (The Premier): Mr. Speaker, I rise today to mark a sad occasion for this House and a great loss for our province with the passing away of Richard Alphonsus Donahoe. I offer his family my heartfelt condolences, knowing that on this day there are no words that will soothe them. For more than 30 years, Richard Donahoe, or Dick as he was known to political friends and foes alike, was at the centre of political life in this province. It is interesting to note that one of Dick Donahoe's first mentor figures was none other than the great Angus L. Macdonald, who was a professor of Dick's when he attended Dalhousie Law School. The careers of the two men were linked from that point on. In fact, Angus L. had the opportunity to teach Dick, to fire him, and to make the toast to the bridegroom when Dick married Eileen, who was Angus L.'s secretary.

Dick was quoted in the paper once saying, "I wasn't really upset about any of it . . . that's just the way it was." That was a true measure of the man - for him politics was always a partisan but noble sport, but it was never personal, and it never came before his responsibility to serve the best interests of all Nova Scotians. That job always came first, and he always gave it everything he had. He was that way with everything, there was never any quit in him. He ran in four elections before he won - now mind you, when you are trying to beat Angus L. out of his seat, the going is tough. Dick had a great sense of humour, and it shone through even in those tough times. He lost to Angus L. by 1,100 votes on one occasion, and when the reporter asked how he did, he is quoted as saying, "I think I did pretty well, that's the closest anyone's gotten to him in a long time."

I know that all members recognize the type of spirit and dedication it takes for a Party of any stripe to make it through those lean days in the wilderness, and we have all had them. It is men like Dick Donahoe that help you make it through the tough times. He was determined to serve Nova Scotians in the political arena, and his no-quit attitude landed him on Halifax City Council in 1951, and he served as mayor from 1952-1954. In November 1954, with mixed emotions, he won the by-election in Halifax South and replaced the seat vacated by the passing of his friend and adversary - Angus L. Macdonald. I know that he took great pride in the fact that in later years that seat, which became Halifax Cornwallis and is now Halifax Citadel, was to be held by his son, Terry, who with his brother, Arthur, have long been friends of this House. Our thoughts today are with them and their sisters, Cathleen, Sheila, Nora and Ellen, and with Eileen, who shared 64 years with him.

[12:15 p.m.]

From 1954 until 1970 Dick Donahoe called this House his home and few men ever worked harder, or accomplished more, in the service of not one, but two Premiers - Ike Smith and Robert Standfield. As Minister of Public Health and Welfare and as Attorney General he worked tirelessly.

[Page 4545]

As a young doctor, I lived through that time of expansion that followed the Public Hospitals Act in 1959, when we had expansion in the number of hospitals, improvements in training and the move to better equipment and technology. Without a doubt, his crowning achievement was the establishment of Medical Services Insurance in Nova Scotia which came into effect in 1969. That was a time of uncertainty for many, but Richard Donahoe saw it through and what was the greatest controversy of his career is now a system that continues to protect the health of Nova Scotians. The costs then seemed enormous, over $20 million a year, and the concept had many detractors. With a sharp wit and lots of Irish-spun verbiage, he defended his position and put the foundation of our health care system in place. For that we owe him a debt of gratitude.

Richard Donahoe knew that public health care was good for Nova Scotia. He fought for it and he refused to quit until it came to be. After leaving provincial politics, he was named to the Senate in 1979 and served until retiring in 1984, but the Irish in Dick always saw him fighting for something or, more precisely, to help someone. He was the president of the Charitable Irish Society and of the Nova Scotia Children's Aid Society, a member of the Knights of Columbus, and a supporter of Saint Mary's University in every way one could.

Richard Donahoe gave his all for every Nova Scotian. I would ask this House to remember and thank him with a moment of silence.

MR. SPEAKER: I would ask all members to rise in a moment of silence, please.

[One minute of silence was observed.]

MR. SPEAKER: Please be seated.

The honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I want to take the opportunity to also send our condolences and best wishes on to the family of Mr. Donahoe on behalf of the NDP caucus. I did not have the fortune to know Mr. Donahoe, but certainly as the Premier described, his reputation was well known. His contribution to this province, to this country and to his community was a significant one and will long be remembered. His family also has continued and does continue to make a significant contribution to this community in many different ways and certainly to this province. I did have the opportunity of getting to know his two sons, Arthur and Terry, to some degree. Terry more maybe than Art. When I first came into this House in 1991, Art was sitting a little further back in the benches, and Terry was sitting along the front benches and sometimes leaned over into the space between us, and of course, he then moved on to be interim Leader of the Conservative Party. I know Mr. Donahoe had quite a fantastic reputation as being a debater. When I used to sit here in the House and watch his son Terry at work, I can see that he passed that on, certainly to one of his sons, if not both of them.

[Page 4546]

Mr. Speaker, I think it is important that we recognize Nova Scotians who make the contribution that Mr. Donahoe did to this province. It is what makes this place as special as it is; worth fighting for, worth working hard for, and it is important we all remember the contribution that people make in different ways. So I want to express again on behalf of my colleagues our condolences to the family and certainly our thanks to Mr. Donahoe for the important contribution he made to our province. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Liberal Party.

MR. RUSSELL MACLELLAN: Mr. Speaker, I, too, would like to add my comments and my condolences to Mrs. Donahoe and the Donahoe family. You wonder when you think of Dick Donahoe, whether we are really replacing men like him in Nova Scotia politics. A man who had absolute devotion to this province. He started as Mayor of the City of Halifax, a man of incredible integrity. A very intelligent man, a very caring man. A man who gave his life, really, his professional life essentially so that he could represent the people of Halifax and the people of Nova Scotia. In talking to him and in knowing him as I have, I realized early that remuneration was not a factor with Dick Donahoe. It was the respect that he could garner from the people he represented, both in his constituency and throughout this province. The fact that when he walked anywhere in Nova Scotia, he could hold his head high and be respected, he achieved that and more because I don't think there is anyone in the Province of Nova Scotia who did not have tremendous respect for Dick Donahoe.

I had the privilege, as well, when I was in law school of being a classmate of Art Donahoe. I had the pleasure of being in the Donahoe home and being a beneficiary of the hospitality of Mr. and Mrs. Donahoe and the Donahoe family. They are a very generous, giving, hospitable family, and one in whose presence you could feel the love and affection for one another.

In politics, a lot of us wonder if what we are doing is going to in any way hinge upon the development of our children, and are we denying our children our presence and our comradeship and our guidance. Well, I will tell you, none of the Donahoe children wanted for that. Dick Donahoe was the classic father. He worshipped his children. He just absolutely was devoted to his wife, and he spent as much time away from politics as he possibly could with them.

There is one thing that stands in my mind about Dick. Two things, really. The first is when he became a Senator, the opportunity I had to speak with him, when he talked to you, he didn't care what Party you represented, but whether you really were true to the needs of the people, whether you actually were concerned for what was right and what was wrong, and whether your motivation was in the interest of the people of Nova Scotia or in the case in Ottawa, of Canada. He never lost that sense of making sure what was done was in the best interests of the people he represented.

[Page 4547]

I guess the distinguishing feature of Dick Donahoe for me will always be that after the Sysco crisis that began on October 13, 1967 when Hawker-Siddeley suddenly announced that they were shutting the Sydney steel plant and Robert Stanfield went to run for the federal leadership and Ike Smith became the interim Leader - excuse me, Robert Stanfield had declared his intentions before the announcement by Hawker-Siddeley and Ike Smith was the interim Leader - that Dick Donahoe, feeling that stability was needed at the government level because of the Sysco crisis, did not offer for the leadership of the PC Party and the Government of Nova Scotia.

He put what he felt was the benefit of the Province of Nova Scotia ahead of any aspiration he may have had to be Premier of Nova Scotia and I want to say that if any man deserves the respect and if any man has a hallmark incident in his life which shows the character that he really was, it was that moment for Dick Donahoe. Dick Donahoe was a superb individual, one which this province owes a tremendous debt of gratitude and on behalf of the Liberal Party, I want to say to members of the government caucus, but particularly to Mrs. Donahoe and the Donahoe children, our profound sense of loss, but our tremendous morale and feeling for having been here and been beneficiaries of the life and career of Dick Donahoe. Thank you very much. (Applause)

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

Bill No. 47 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 1 of the Acts of 1995-96. The Education Act. (Hon. Jane Purves)

MR. SPEAKER: Ordered that this bill be read a second time on a future day.

NOTICES OF MOTION

The honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party.

RESOLUTION NO. 1539

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

Whereas in an e-mail sent to the Premier's Office and copied to us, the Premier was invited to spend a day in the life of Jennifer Murphy who is on social assistance; and

[Page 4548]

Whereas in Jennifer's e-mail she states, "I am one of those you've decided to take money from in your budget. Maybe $100 isn't much to you, but to me it's a bill I can't pay anymore. Most likely food."; and

Whereas Jennifer invites you to spend a day with her when she will take you on a tour of her life - the life of a single mother struggling to survive in Nova Scotia;

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier take Jennifer Murphy up on her offer so that he can better understand the impact his budget will have on the poor in this province.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable Leader of the Liberal Party.

RESOLUTION NO. 1540

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

Whereas yesterday in this House the Premier accused Opposition Parties of being soft; and

Whereas the word soft is often used to describe someone who is caring and compassionate; and

Whereas we as a Liberal caucus will gladly accept being called soft if it means that we protect education, health and Pharmacare;

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier and his government learn a lesson from us and remember that governing is about people and not about dollars and cents.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for waiver.

[Page 4549]

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Annapolis.

RESOLUTION NO. 1541

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

Whereas the member for Cape Breton West attempts to paint Nova Scotia's economy in a negative light as he did recently in this Legislature; and

Whereas Scotia Economics latest report shows Nova Scotia Economic Growth for this year and again next year in the 3 per cent range; and

Whereas this ranking by provinces put Nova Scotia in fourth place for this year and a projected third place next year at a time when our unemployment rate continues to spiral downward having fallen into the single number of percentages;

Therefore be it resolved that the member for Cape Breton West do more research before attempting to place Liberal Party political aspirations ahead of attracting investors wanting to come to our great province.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[12:30 p.m.]

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party.

[Page 4550]

RESOLUTION NO. 1542

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

Whereas Canada still lacks a national shipbuilding policy; and

Whereas Irving Oil is expected to go to Asia to buy new tankers instead of using its own shipyards to build these tankers; and

Whereas as Irving goes shopping overseas, it will be laying off 200 shipyard workers this week;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House, and particularly this government, agree to lobby the federal government to bring in a national shipbuilding policy that will allow shipyard owners and shipyard workers to build ships in Canada.

Mr. Speaker, I seek waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton South.

RESOLUTION NO. 1543

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

Whereas the Minister of Education continues to mislead the people of this province by saying there will be no lay-offs in the education system; and

Whereas it has come to light that 150 support staff will be laid off from the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board; and

[Page 4551]

Whereas changes to our communities and families have resulted in an increased need for access to support services in the public school system;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Education stop her rhetoric and commit today to Nova Scotia that she will resign if there are any such cuts because of her budget.

Mr. Speaker, I seek waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

RESOLUTION NO. 1544

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

Whereas the Canadian Institute for Health Information released its first report yesterday on health care in Canada, outlining the disparities in health care delivery across Canada; and

Whereas these disparities were created in large measure by the billions of health care dollars cut by the federal Liberal Government in Ottawa; and

Whereas federal Health Minister Allan Rock stated publicly yesterday that the federal government is now prepared to increase funding for the health care system across the country;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House remind the federal Minister of Health of his commitment in the days and weeks ahead and encourage him to sit down with the provinces as soon as possible to restore the funds cut by the federal Liberal Government in Ottawa to a public service which is so precious to all Canadians.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.

[Page 4552]

RESOLUTION NO. 1545

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

Whereas, Mr. Premier, we have found number nine, a ninth Tory MLA to vote against the savage Tory Government; and

Whereas the member for Halifax Bedford Basin has decided to take a stand; and

Whereas this morning on Information Morning the member for Halifax Bedford Basin stated if she wasn't in the Tory caucus she would be outside demonstrating;

Therefore be it resolved that just like the Minister of Tourism and Culture, the member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley, the member for Queens, the member for Colchester North, the member for Eastern Shore, the member for Kings North, the member for Shelburne, the member for Yarmouth, the member for Halifax Bedford Basin has seen the truth behind her government's savage Tory Budget.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Lunenburg West.

RESOLUTION NO. 1546

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

Whereas the Minister of Education claims that there will be no teacher lay-offs and no school closures; and

Whereas Riverport School, Gold River Western Shore, Petite Riviere and Mill Village may close their doors to students in Lunenburg County; and

[Page 4553]

Whereas the closure of these schools will devastate rural communities such as Lunenburg;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Education make a commitment to the people of Lunenburg County who so desperately fear for the survival of their community that these cuts will not be made.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Housing and Municipal Affairs.

RESOLUTION NO. 1547

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

Whereas on April 24, 2000, an incredible 92 year journey ended with the passing of Eileen Cameron Henry; and

Whereas Eileen Henry was an institution in Antigonish, working tirelessly for the poor and disadvantaged and was the first woman elected to town council, serving as deputy mayor; and

Whereas an ardent member and supporter of the Liberal Party, she was the recipient of the Order of Canada, the Queen Elizabeth Medal, and Nova Scotia Woman of the Year, and her weekly column in the Antigonish Casket, "Around Town and County", was a must-read for every resident of eastern Nova Scotia;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House extend sympathy to her family and, more importantly, express their thanks for the contributions of Eileen Henry, a truly remarkable Nova Scotian.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

[Page 4554]

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

RESOLUTION NO. 1548

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

Whereas in case the Premier didn't get the message yesterday, we would like to quote from some of the signs seen outside this House yesterday, "We want Hamm not bologna;" and

Whereas also observed was, "Purves makes me nervous" and "I'm a vegetarian, I don't eat Hamm;" and

Whereas finally, "Education is an investment not a cost;"

Therefore be it resolved that it is time the Premier got the message loud and clear from the people of Nova Scotia that education is a priority and cannot have its funding cut.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Leader of the Liberal Party.

[Page 4555]

RESOLUTION NO. 1549

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

Whereas yesterday Premier Hamm stated that he "was not a magician;" and

Whereas no one has really asked him to be; and

Whereas he and his government have been given the power to make changes for the good of all Nova Scotians;

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier realize that he is the Premier and he is the one who must exercise power and by exercising that power he must demonstrate that he is willing to take responsibility for that power.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, would I be permitted to do an introduction before I do my resolution?

MR. SPEAKER: Yes.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I would like to welcome today seven Grade 12 students, and one of their teachers from Shambhala School, which is in the North End of Halifax. They are in the west gallery, and I would ask them to rise and receive the welcome from members of the House, please. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

[Page 4556]

RESOLUTION NO. 1550

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

Whereas in an e-mail sent to our office, a parent asks, "Why do the cuts have to be so dramatic and so fast?" and

Whereas this parent also states, "You say we have to tighten our belts now so that we can improve the future for our children. Meanwhile you will have ruined the future of a particular group of children;" and

Whereas this parent also notes that, "universities already feel Nova Scotian students fall behind those from other provinces and immigrants from Europe and Asia;"

Therefore be it resolved that Laa-Laa, the Minister of Education, explain to parents in Nova Scotia why their children are having trouble qualifying for university even before the effects of their savage Tory budget are felt.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

RESOLUTION NO. 1551

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

Whereas it is commonly known that the determinants of health in a society depend significantly on socio-economic factors; and

Whereas the recently released Health Care in Canada 2000 report confirms that the poor in our country do not have equal access to the health care system; and

[Page 4557]

Whereas a new study in the United States indicates that health care costs are the leading cause of personal bankruptcies among Americans;

Therefore be it resolved that this Tory Government pay special heed to these reports - and the Minister of Transportation as well who is shaking his head and I can hear the rattling - which prove that moving toward an American style health care system puts a terrible burden on middle income citizens and would be devastating to the poor in our society.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Centre.

RESOLUTION NO. 1552

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

Whereas we have ferreted out number eight, the eighth Tory who will vote against this savage Tory budget; and

Whereas that Tory is the member for Shelburne; and

Whereas the member for Shelburne stated that his allegiance to the people of Shelburne County comes first and that he has already given some thought to voting against his own Party's budget;

Therefore be it resolved that both Opposition Parties encourage the member for Shelburne to do the right thing, like the Minister of Tourism, the member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley, the member for Queens, the member for Colchester North, the member for Kings North, the member for Yarmouth, the member for Eastern Shore, and vote against this savage Tory Government.

Mr. Speaker, I seek waiver.

[Page 4558]

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Victoria.

RESOLUTION NO. 1553

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

Whereas this week has been designated National Organ and Tissue Donation Awareness Week; and

Whereas more than 300 Nova Scotians are waiting for an organ transplant of some type; and

Whereas in 1999 the Multi-Organ Transplant Program at the QE II enabled over 150 transplants;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House recognize this week as National Organ and Tissue Awareness Week and continue to raise awareness for donors who are today's and tomorrow's heroes.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour.

[Page 4559]

RESOLUTION NO. 1554

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

Whereas it was announced yesterday that the President of the Nova Scotia Progressive Conservative Party is quitting to join the Canadian Alliance; and

Whereas the Premier has described efforts to unite the right, under the Canadian Alliance, as doomed to failure; and

Whereas the members of the Premier's own caucus, like the member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley, the member for Preston and the member for Dartmouth South, have been attending Canadian Alliance meetings;

Therefore be it resolved that like his federal Party and soon this savage Tory budget, the only ones who are really doomed are the Premier and the provincial Progressive Conservatives.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Richmond.

RESOLUTION NO. 1555

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

Whereas this week has been designated Administrative Professionals Week; and

Whereas administrative professionals include administrative assistants, office supervisors and secretaries; and

Whereas these individuals are to be commended for their hard work and dedication;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House recognize this week as Administrative Professionals Week and recognize their contributions to the success of our workplaces.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

[Page 4560]

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage.

RESOLUTION NO. 1556

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

Whereas every day in the Province of Nova Scotia six more children are born into poverty; and

Whereas since August 17th, this Tory Government's first full day in office, 1,524 children have been born into poverty; and

Whereas this heartless Tory Government would prefer to talk about only one kind of deficit, a budget deficit;

Therefore be it resolved that this Tory Government start waking up to the health, education and social deficits faced by the 1,524 children born into poverty under this Tory Regime.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton West.

[Page 4561]

RESOLUTION NO. 1557

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

Whereas on a CBC Radio interview the member for Halifax Bedford Basin, Mary Ann McGrath, stated that in terms of teacher lay-offs there are two sets of figures - one by the Department of Education and one by the school boards; and

[12:45 p.m.]

Whereas this member went on to state that somewhere in the middle of these two figures is the truth; and

Whereas this statement makes it clear that the Minister of Education is in error as to what her numbers are;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House chastise the Minister of Education for misleading this House, for not knowing her portfolio, and for her inability to come clean on the true nature of education cuts with the people of Nova Scotia.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.

RESOLUTION NO. 1558

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

Whereas at 8:30 a.m., this morning, the NDP caucus office received a complaint that the Premier's Office had been shut down; and

Whereas that caller and subsequent callers to the Premier's Office - 424-6600 - received the same response, that "the mailbox for the Premier's Office was full;" and

Whereas the next recorded message this Nova Scotian received was that "the number you have reached is no longer in service;"

Therefore be it resolved that Nova Scotians can only assume the Premier has received so many complaints and questions from people wanting the truth about this terrible budget, that his office was unable to deal with the volume, and this morning, he formally cut off communication with the people of Nova Scotia.

[Page 4562]

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Clare.

RESOLUTION NO. 1559

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

Whereas the NSTU has stated that Nova Scotia has the second lowest per capita student funding in Canada (Interruptions) lowest now, I am being told;

Whereas education is a right that all students should receive regardless of what province they live in; and

Whereas the Tory budget cuts will place our students at a disadvantage compared to their counterparts around the country;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Education and the Tory Government start looking at the education of our children as an investment in our future.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

RESOLUTION NO. 1560

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

Whereas last night, the member for Cape Breton West experienced a bite problem; and

Whereas the member's fiery oration saw more than the usual spittle fly from his mouth; and

[Page 4563]

Whereas from where we sat, it appeared to be just another toothless argument from the Liberals;

Therefore be it resolved that in order to assist the member for Cape Breton West to get a better grip on the situation, we recommend Polident.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton East.

RESOLUTION NO. 1561

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

Whereas yesterday in the House, the Premier showed disrespect for the people of Cape Breton East by implying that their representative is not concerned about issues that affect them and all Nova Scotians; and

Whereas during his election campaign the Premier promised the voters of Cape Breton fair and equal representation; and

Whereas if the Premier is not prepared to listen to their concerns, we as a Liberal caucus will gladly fight to ferret out information the Tory Government is trying so hard to hide;

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier and his Tory Government realize that the members of this House represent the views of all Nova Scotians, including the people of Cape Breton East, and if he came to this conclusion six months ago, he could have saved himself from the pain of this disastrous budget.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

[Page 4564]

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

RESOLUTION NO. 1562

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

Whereas on March 19, 2000, artist and teacher, Laura Jolicoeur read from her children's book, Moons and Mermaids, at the Education Gallery of the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia; and

Whereas the gallery is exhibiting the ceramic tiles depicted in her book; and

Whereas the tiles and the book are an example of the power of words and pictures to inspire imagination;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate Laura Jolicoeur for her work both for and with children, whose lives she continually enriches.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton South.

[Page 4565]

RESOLUTION NO. 1563

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

Whereas the Minister of Education has claimed there will be no teacher lay-offs as a result of her government's budget; and

Whereas the minister made no such promise to teacher aides; and

Whereas the Minister of Education has stated that her department will not tolerate lay-offs;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Education ensure support staff employment is protected by restoring education funding.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Hants East.

RESOLUTION NO. 1564

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

Whereas this House reeled on Tuesday under the vehemence of the member for Kings South, who steadfastly defended the budget; and

Whereas it is as obvious as the rage on the member's face that his constituents have voiced their displeasure over this government's budget; and

Whereas no amount of fingerpointing, shrieking and chest beating by the member at and towards the members opposite, will gloss over the pain inflicted by this budget;

[Page 4566]

Therefore be it resolved that this House advise that, rather than express disbelief that others would dare oppose this budget, the member for Kings South face the inevitable and admit to the old maxim: Tory times are tough times.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

If I could, just before the honourable member for Victoria does his next resolution, the honourable member for Victoria had introduced a resolution earlier, and there was a nay voted against it, but I would like to read the resolve again and have another vote.

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House recognize this week as National Organ and Tissue Awareness Week and continue to raise awareness for donors who are today's and tomorrow's heroes.

There has been a request for waiver.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Victoria.

RESOLUTION NO. 1565

MR. KENNETH MACASKILL: Mr. Speaker I won't be so lucky on this one. I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas the Tory Education budget will have a disastrous effect on students across the province who have special needs; and

[Page 4567]

Whereas those most disadvantaged students, those most in need of support, will have to be sacrificed for a trumped-up budget; and

Whereas in the Tory blue book the government says it will, "develop a multi-year plan to address the need for additional resources for students with special needs;"

Therefore be it resolved that the Hamm Government revisit its blue book and immediately restore funding so that every child has the right to an equal and accessible education system.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

RESOLUTION NO. 1566

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

Whereas Laa-Laa, the Minister of Education, talked yesterday in this House about the children of tomorrow and the children of tomorrow after that; and

Whereas Laa-Laa, the Minister of Education, has chosen to either forget or just to sacrifice the children of today on the altar of Tory cost cutting at any and all costs; and

Whereas because of Laa-Laa, the Minister of Education, the children of today have been demonstrating outside of this house in a desperate attempt to save their futures;

Therefore be it resolved that Laa-Laa, the Minister of Education, look up into the Gallery today or perhaps even go into a school and tell the children of today that she has abandoned them to fulfil some Tory promise made by the Premier.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

[Page 4568]

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Richmond.

RESOLUTION NO. 1567

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

Whereas the Progressive Conservative Party continues to disintegrate with the resignation of Tom Jarmyn as President; and

Whereas it is only a matter of time before the rest of the provincial Party falls apart as the members from Preston, Dartmouth South, Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley and Kings South continue to flirt with the Canadian Alliance or New Reform Party; and

Whereas this is typical of a caucus who only a year ago were ready to drive knives in the back of our current Premier;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House urge the government to resign en masse so that Nova Scotians can decide whether or not they want to be governed by the Reform Party and their agenda.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Centre.

[Page 4569]

RESOLUTION NO. 1568

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

Whereas the part-time Deputy Minister of Education admitted yesterday the Education budget contains flawed figures leading one to the conclusion that this House should see the revised budget estimates before departmental estimates proceed; and

Whereas the Minister of Finance claims he is just telling it like it is when he claims the deficit has reached a record $767 million due in great measure to the cost of dumping Sydney Steel; and

Whereas the same minister refuses to release the two documents, one on the cost of cleaning up the Sysco site and the other on the cost of pensions to steelworkers, on which he justified hiking his deficit;

Therefore be it resolved that given the Education budget fiasco, the Minister of Finance release the two Sysco documents immediately so that justifiably leery Nova Scotians can see for themselves if the deficit hike is warranted.

Mr. Speaker, I seek waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton West.

RESOLUTION NO. 1569

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

Whereas worker safety continues to be compromised while the Minister of Labour continues to delay implementing much-needed safety regulations which were drafted after nearly five years of consultation; and

[Page 4570]

Whereas the Minister of Labour is now using a politically active red tape commission to circumvent and negate the mandate of the Occupational Health and Safety Advisory Panel; and

Whereas continued political interference is indicative of how past and present Tory Governments view worker safety, noting Westray as a prime example;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Labour fulfil the oath of his office and stop ignoring vital health and safety issues for political reasons.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour.

RESOLUTION NO. 1570

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

Whereas a mathematical error has been discovered in the Education budget of almost $1 million in funding to the Annapolis Valley Regional School Board; and

Whereas an official from the Department of Education also says other boards were also charged for school lease payments that have already appeared on the books but he couldn't say which boards or how much money is involved; and

Whereas it now appears that the Education budget presented to this House is a sham, a fraud and completely inaccurate;

Therefore be it resolved that this Tory Government rescind the Education estimates, go back to the drawing board and when they have it straight, come back to the House with the accurate and correct Education budget.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Clare.

RESOLUTION NO. 1571

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

[Page 4571]

Whereas the rising cost of a university education and the end of the student loan remission program will discourage some students from choosing a post-secondary education; and

Whereas on Tuesday, April 25th, the Minister of Education admitted that abolishing the loan remission program would not be a good situation for some students; and

Whereas the minister openly admitted that the majority of the students will get a good education and do well;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Education reinstate the student loan remission program to ensure that all Nova Scotian students be given the same opportunity to further their post-secondary education should they wish to do so.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Hants East.

RESOLUTION NO. 1572

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

Whereas people afflicted with cancers and tumours often suffer from great pain; and

Whereas people suffering from the aforementioned ought to be allowed whatever relief that works; and

Whereas Noel resident, Mark Crossley, who suffers great pain from an inoperable brain tumour, persevered amid his pain and suffering to be allowed to legally use cannabis to relieve his suffering;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly congratulate Mr. Crossley in his successful attempts to have the federal Department of Justice recognize that a medical need should, in most cases, prevail over other considerations.

[Page 4572]

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

RESOLUTION NO. 1573

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

Whereas just like the volunteer committee that was supposed to dole out casino revenues to charities, the Southwest Regional School Board members heard their board had been terminated through the media; and

Whereas once again this cold, callous, Tory Government has terminated volunteers without the decency of any notice; and

[1:00 p.m.]

Whereas once again we were told by the Premier in the fullness of time we will know how he plans to replace this board;

Therefore be it resolved that the time is now, Mr. Premier, and the people of the southwestern region, and probably your own MLAs from Kings, would like to know what your plan is for the southwestern region's educational needs.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

[Page 4573]

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order, I am just wondering if it is possible for me to reread my operative clause of that last resolution?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. There is too much noise in the Chamber. It is very hard to hear the member speaking. The honourable member for Hants East has the floor.

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, I am just standing to ask if it is possible to have the operative clause of my last resolution reread. I heard a no, and I asked for waiver. I am not sure if the member opposite misheard me, but I find it hard to believe that they would nay that resolution.

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

The honourable member for Hants East.

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Therefore be it resolved that the House of Assembly congratulate Mr. Crossley in his successful attempts to have the federal Department of Justice recognize that a medical need should, in most cases, prevail over other considerations.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

ORDERS OF THE DAY

ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS

MR. SPEAKER: The Question Period is beginning at 1:02 p.m. and will end at 2:02 p.m.

The honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party.

[Page 4574]

EDUC. - SCHOOLS: POWER - CENTRALIZATION

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I want to direct my question through you to the Premier. Yesterday the Deputy Minister of Education said clearly and honestly what other Progressive Conservatives won't or have not been willing to admit. The deputy minister admits that the government was wrong about the effects of the education cuts. He admits that 400 teaching positions cannot be eliminated through attrition and the government is revising its Education budget as we speak. Yet in spite of all of this chaos, this government's solution is to further centralize power. I want to ask the Premier why Nova Scotians should support more centralized power from his government, even less community control, when his government makes disastrous blunders with the power they already have?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I know the member opposite realizes that government has to be accountable and government cannot be accountable if, in fact, it does not have control over one of its responsibilities, and that is the expenditures of the province. We had to make a move in that regard relative to health boards that were running up deficits over which the minister had no control in Health. A similar situation cannot be allowed to continue in the Department of Education, and if government is to be accountable, they have to have a mechanism whereby they can exercise control over how taxpayers' money is spent.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, outside this House, government officials are freely admitting that the funding formula given to the school boards was wrong and the job numbers in the Budget Address were wrong. They say they need at least a month to straighten out their numbers. They don't know if there will be lay-offs, but they are not ruling it out. That is the reality that is inside this House, that we are getting fiction from this government.

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: We have got a serious problem here. I want to ask the Premier, will he agree to set aside consideration of the estimates until his government has completed revising its Education budget, or does he expect us to allow them to have a blank cheque?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite makes reference to some conversations outside the House without being very specific. What I can be specific on is that meetings occurred yesterday, meetings will occur tomorrow between school boards, the Department of Education and the deputy minister to bring together all of the solutions that will come to bear to make the delivery of public school education in this province as effective as possible with the number of dollars available.

[Page 4575]

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: This Premier, this government are unbelievable. They are stripping school boards of their power, they are centralizing power in the hands of the Minister of Education and they won't tell Nova Scotians what is going on. Never in 152 years of responsible government has this Legislature been asked to approve a budget that is not yet completed.

This is a gross and detestable attack on democratic rights for Nova Scotians. I want to ask this Premier, why should this House approve a budget before his government knows what the budget is even going to look like? Why should we approve it?

THE PREMIER: The reality is I have sat in this House since 1993 and I have yet to see that Leader or that Party ever approve a budget.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Liberal Party.

EDUC. - BUDGET (2000-01): CUTS - TEACHERS INEXACT

MR. RUSSELL MACLELLAN: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Premier. Day after day, we have heard from the Minister of Education this litany that there were going to be 400 jobs lost, mostly through attrition. The deputy minister has finally come clean. He has admitted that the 400 teacher retirement figure put forward by his own department and his own minister is wrong. He said, "There is no doubt that it is not 400."

If it wasn't so sad, it would be funny. When we tell our young people and their parents in this province the importance of mathematics and arithmetic and our school system, and how important it is to get a good education, how can he explain to the parents and the children of Nova Scotia their concern when they can't even get their own figures right?

THE PREMIER: I can assure the member opposite that the meetings are occurring. That will result in the most effective use of the money that is available for education. Finally, the issue is where it should be - at meetings between the organizations concerned. I believe that is the best way to approach the problem and it is being approached in a very responsible way by school board representatives and the Department of Education and the deputy.

MR. MACLELLAN: The superintendent of the Southwest Regional School Board said two days ago that the week before, the Deputy Minister of Education had told them that the Department of Education's figures were wrong. Yet the minister would never admit that and for a whole week, the negotiations have gone on, supposedly independently, but gone on believing that the Department of Education really believes their own figures. Shouldn't the government, Mr. Speaker, and I want the Premier to really think about, will he apologize to the school boards for taking them through all this, ruining their reputation in the province, when they knew that the school boards' figures were right and their own government's figures were wrong.

[Page 4576]

THE PREMIER: I can say that while I might not have heard all of the conversations that members opposite refer to, I can recall no demeaning statement made by any member of this government or by any member of this caucus that would reflect badly on school boards or the people that represent them.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable Leader of the Liberal Party has the floor.

MR. MACLELLAN: I am absolutely incredulous after that statement by the Premier. It has gone to such an extent that we are being asked to approve an amendment to the Education Act to delay the notice of termination because this government didn't give the school boards the proper information, or the province the proper information to be able to make the right determination in the first place.

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

MR. MACLELLAN: How can this government possibly say that they are negotiating with school boards or the people of Nova Scotia in good faith on this question of education?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I believe the member opposite brings up a good point. One of the difficulties for organizations that require information on funding are always put in a position because governments in this province have always delivered the budget rather late in the year. It has put all organizations awaiting word on their funding at a disadvantage. We will be working in years to come to bring the budgets through earlier. That will be a great advantage to those that require funding from the province that will be announced from the budget.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

EDUC. - SCHOOLS: ADMIN. - CENTRALIZATION

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Education. We don't often see such an Orwellian spectacle as the one we saw this morning. George Orwell wrote about a government of the future that says one thing while meaning the exact opposite, but that government is no longer in the future. It is here right now. The Minister of Education talks about giving control back to communities when, in fact, she proposes to take direct control over education in the Southwest Regional School Board. My question to the minister, when will you finally tell Nova Scotians that this government's plan is to make all significant education decisions from a downtown office tower in Halifax?

[Page 4577]

HON. JANE PURVES: Mr. Speaker, this government's plan is to introduce more accountability into the whole government, into all operations controlled by government, and to give this government more accountability over the dollars it gives out to other people to spend. That is a very good plan and we plan to achieve it.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I don't think there are any communities in Nova Scotia jumping for joy when they realize that this minister who made a mess of the Education budget is now in complete and direct control of what goes on in schools from Yarmouth to Shelburne to Bridgewater to Digby.

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: My question to the minister is, just how far are you prepared to go to demonstrate to school boards that you are in charge and that dissent will not be tolerated?

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, our government is prepared to say to school boards that we will put our money where our mouth is. We will take over administration and we will leave them in control of the education of their children.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, this minister wants to give herself the power to change the meanings of words. It is there in black and white. It is hard to believe. My final question is to the Premier. How long has it been government policy to undermine this Legislature and change the meaning of words by regulation?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I did hear the question. I am not really sure what I am being asked. If the member opposite would rephrase the question, I will attempt to answer it.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Read the bill.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Clare.

EDUC.: SW REG. SCH. BD. - DIVISION

MR. WAYNE GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, this morning in a statement to the media, the Minister of Education stated that she would divide the Southwest Regional School Board into two school boards. She stated that this would provide more community involvement and focus on the classroom. My question to the minister is, while many members of this House have always felt that the Southwest Regional School Board was too big and should be split, they also felt there should be some more community involvement in local education. Could the minister indicate how this new structure will allow for more community involvement?

[Page 4578]

HON. JANE PURVES: Mr. Speaker, first of all, the members of the school board will be concentrating more on their own district as the school boards will be smaller. Second of all, they will be working more closely with the school advisory councils. Thirdly, they will not have to worry about the administration of the board. They will be concerned solely, and will have budgets to deal with, the hiring of teachers and principals and the introduction of programs into the classroom.

MR. GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, the minister stated there would be a chief executive officer reporting to the Deputy Minister of Education responsible for administration and operation of the two boards. If the CEO reports directly to the Deputy Minister of Education, how does this provide more community involvement?

[1:15 p.m.]

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, first of all, I don't know why the member opposite assumes that the CEO will not be a part of the community. Second of all, the boards are going to be concerned solely with the education of their children; the CEO will be the administrator and that will be taken care of through the department.

MR. GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, will the Minister of Education agree that this is merely a move by the Department of Education to gain more control over school boards and to muzzle their critics?

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, no.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party.

FIN. - EQUALIZATION: FORMULA - FAIRNESS

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, through you to the Premier. Yesterday, outside, a citizen of this province said to me that they thought they were electing Dr. Welby but in fact what they have come to realize is that they elected Dr. Strangelove.

I want to see how determined the Premier is to impose his cuts, regardless of any other choices that he could make. Yesterday, while in Newfoundland, Paul Martin agreed to consider a 10 year suspension of equalization clawbacks for provinces with new offshore revenue. I want to ask the Premier, what steps has he taken to join Newfoundland in pressing for a fairer equalization formula?

THE PREMIER: Yes, we are concerned that the revenues generated by the offshore will result in a 70/30 split relative to our equalization payments. We are having consideration of asking for dispensation from Ottawa in the implementation of that particular arrangement. It would now appear that Newfoundland is having similar thoughts and it may well be that

[Page 4579]

this is one of the occasions where we can get in the same boat with Newfoundland and row together.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, this Premier has to know that after 10 years of cuts and bigger debt this province can no longer rely on cuts; we have to look at the revenue side. Yet this Premier has grabbed every possible cent of personal income tax revenue, especially from middle and lower income earners. Every little fee is going up. Other provinces are making the equalization case for him. I want to ask the Premier, why will he not keep his own promise to immediately withdraw from the BST deal to achieve fairer revenues and fairer taxes? Will he do that?

THE PREMIER: The short answer is no. The longer answer is that we will be, with the partners in the BST deal, having negotiations about how that arrangement is satisfying the provinces, how that arrangement is satisfying Ottawa. One of the criticisms I have had of the arrangement is that we have lost control of our provincial taxation system. There are positive aspects, and the business community has been very forthright in bringing forward how they feel. Small business in particular has been very, very supportive of the reporting system that the BST has brought to their sector of the economy. It is a very complex issue. On the other hand, there is a mechanism that will allow us to have that review and we will follow that.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, the Premier doesn't seem to realize that this province is more than his big-business buddies. There are a lot of people out here who want to have a say in what happens. Dr. Strangelove wants to take direct control of schools and hospitals, he wants to cut them down to size because he has no real idea of how important these services are to Nova Scotians. I want to ask the Premier, will he suspend consideration of his budget to review revenue options and look at the options that take some of the burden off ordinary Nova Scotians and the services that they cherish? Will he do that?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I can say to the member opposite that he is a little bit confused. The strong support for the BST arrangement in terms of the common collection system comes from small business and not big business, they are very supportive of the one-stop collection system of taxation.

The second issue as to whether or not we are going to suspend the budget process, no, we are not going to suspend the budget process. Organizations want to know how much money they are going to get and the longer we put off having our budget finalized, then the longer we are depriving those organizations of what their budget is going to be.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Lunenburg West.

[Page 4580]

EDUC. - NSTU: COLLECTIVE AGREEMENT - SUPPORT

MR. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Education. Recently, the backbenchers have been floating ideas that turned out to be trial balloons that end up being policy of government, a case in point is the splitting up of the Southwest Regional School Board. The other side of that issue is the wrath of government will be on the head of the CEO, Ms. Jones, in days to come. We will wait and see whether or not that truly happens. The latest trial balloon concerning teachers' salaries and MLAs' expenses is also now being floated by the MLA for Shelburne.

My question to the minister is, does the minister support the present collective agreement that exists between the Nova Scotia Teachers Union and the Department of Education?

HON. JANE PURVES: Yes, Mr. Speaker, I do support the present collective agreement between the Teachers Union and the Department of Education.

MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, just recently the minister has been saying that there are going to be no cuts to education, no lay-offs, and then there are 400 lay-offs. The deputy minister is saying now there are more than 400. We have a statement today signed by a number of organizations within the school system saying 948 permanent contracts and probationary contracts . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

MR. DOWNE: . . . are going to be affected. My question to the minister is, has the minister approached the Nova Scotia Teachers Union to re-open discussions concerning the present collective agreement with teachers?

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, no, I have not and to the best of my knowledge, no one in my department has either.

MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, again, the MLA for Shelburne floated this idea and obviously, if it is like any other of these trial balloons that they have been floating, there is a fair amount of truth to what is being said.

My final supplementary to the minister is, do the minister and this government intend, in fact, to roll back teachers' salaries?

MISS PURVES: No.

[Page 4581]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

EDUC.: BUDGET (2000-01) - EMPLOYMENT EQUITY

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Education. Recent events have demonstrated conclusively that the Minister of Education is blissfully unaware of the real impacts of her devastating Education budget. Parents, students and teachers are telling the minister that she is wrong about special education, about French immersion, about the lay-offs and about program cuts. Yesterday, the deputy minister finally admitted that the magic number of 400 teaching losses was also wrong.

Now, I want to ask the minister, do you have any idea what this disastrous budget is going to do to employment equity in our school system?

HON. JANE PURVES: Mr. Speaker, yes, indeed, I know what employment equity is and we said from the beginning that our aim was a goal of 400 teachers out of the system through voluntary means. We are working on that. This budget should have no effect on employment equity in the system.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I would like to table a document, it is called 2000-01 Funding Impact Analysis Affirmative Action and Employment Equity and it comes from the Halifax Regional School Board. The analysis is written by people who know what they are talking about, unlike the minister. It says, this disastrous budget (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member for Halifax Needham has the floor.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: . . . every single visible minority term teacher, probationary teacher . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: . . . and 13 out of 20 visible minority permanent teachers.

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: My question to the minister is, Mr. Speaker, what steps are you taking to reverse this devastating impact on employment equity in our schools?

[Page 4582]

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, the Halifax School Board analysis was based on certain assumptions that are now being reviewed with the department in talks that went on yesterday, are going on tomorrow and will continue about the numbers we require for our budget.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, all the minister is doing is buying time, you know. She has no plan. She seems incapable of doing the right thing about this disastrous budget. My final question to the minister is, what are you doing to ensure equitable representation of First Nations people, African-Nova Scotians and other racially visible teachers in our school system?

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, all of those policies are in place in the school system right now and I would like to say that through this legislation today, we are doing one thing for African-Nova Scotians that no other province in the country is doing and that is giving them a seat on Nova Scotia school boards. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Order. (Interruptions) Order, please.

The honourable member for Cape Breton South.

SYSCO - SALE: OPERATIONS CONTINUANCE - ENSURE

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Premier who (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. (Interruptions) Order, please. The honourable member for Cape Breton South has the floor.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Premier who is the real minister responsible for Sydney Steel. Bids for either the sale of Sysco or the disposal of assets have been opened by Ernst & Young. Steelworkers and their families are concerned that the liquidators will present a disposal of assets proposal to the government. Will the Premier assure Sydney steelworkers and their families that only proposals that will ensure the continued operation of Sysco in private hands will be entertained and no assets or equipment will be sold off?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, to the member opposite I can say that the priorities of government have not changed. It is a sale to an organization that will run the plant as a steel mill and we are pursuing that. We will continue to pursue that and I believe that the member opposite has enough information, as do many others, to indicate that that is a real possibility.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Well, it is interesting, Mr. Speaker, that the Premier has admitted that there is a sale. Whether or not I have any information on it, I can tell this House I don't have any information on it. I would like to. Sysco workers are concerned that

[Page 4583]

a sale prior to the successful conclusion of pension talks will leave steelworkers out in the cold. My first supplementary to the Premier is, what is this Premier going to do to make sure that the lives of the Sydney steelworkers are not affected adversely and he lives up to the promise in looking out for the interest of Sysco workers by settling pension and contractual issues prior to the sale or prior to any disposal of assets?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, we have in place a process of negotiation with the steelworkers which is compatible with the collective agreement. We will be bringing proposals to the steelworkers that are above and beyond those that are required in the collective agreement. I am afraid I have to fall back on a phrase that the member opposite has used on more than one occasion in the House, it is the kind of thing that we can't negotiate here on the floor of the House.

[1:30 p.m.]

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, what was negotiated yesterday was the pension issue with government officials who offered nothing new in the pension discussions yesterday and are not prepared to offer anything new. My supplementary question to the Premier is, yet another government deadline has come and gone and the situation at Sysco is still clouded, will the Premier finally break the silence and reveal the government's real intentions towards Sysco and its workers? Mr. Premier, will it be sold or will it be closed? (Interruptions)

THE PREMIER: The government's position on how it will deal with the Sysco issue has been very clear for a very long time. What we are saying is that the process that we have put in place is working very effectively. To this point, the results have been very satisfactory. We will pursue the objectives that we have had for Sydney and Sysco, and those objectives have not changed.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour.

HEALTH - REG. BDS.: PLANS REVISION - COST

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, this government has cut over $80 million from the health care system in this province. Regional health boards have been given the deadline of May 15th to get their revised plans in to the Department of Health, but the minister won't tell them when he is going to get back to them; he says maybe the beginning of June, maybe the middle of June, he doesn't know, he won't say. This delay is costing money now, it will continue to cost money. The impact of the budget cuts is costing the QE II $100,000 a day; $100,000 that they will have to recoup somewhere, somehow. Why is the Minister of Health wasting precious health care dollars by forcing hospitals to wait for his decision?

[Page 4584]

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, the hospital, I believe he is referring to the QE II, has been given a budget figure and is working within that, as he well knows. He has been told enough, perhaps he didn't realize. We are proceeding with a common business plan for the new, to-be-formed district health authority. The institutions and the present authorities are at the table working on business plans at this time.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, this stands in stark contrast to the statement the Premier just made, which was that organizations need to know what their budgets are going to be. This government is delaying telling Nova Scotians the bad news until the early summer when there is nobody around to listen. The government knows that when the final budgets are approved in June, our health care system will look very different in this province. There will be fewer services, fewer staff, and longer waiting lines. I want to ask the Minister of Health, will you stop delaying telling Nova Scotians how this budget will devastate health care in their communities?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, as the honourable member knows, this government is moving toward a more community-based health care system that is going to be responsive and responsible. It will be re-organized, there is no question about that. We believe the re-organization is going to be for the better. Furthermore, it will be a health care system that we can afford.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, what the minister is doing is creating confusion and chaos that is only matched by his own, that is what he is doing. This government is wasting taxpayers' dollars, and he is keeping Nova Scotians in the dark. Why won't the Minister of Health tell Nova Scotians the truth today, and tell them now that health care will look very different in this province, very soon?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, clearly health care in this province will look different. We have a plan. We are moving towards that and it will be a better health care system than we have today.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Liberal Party.

SYSCO - SALE: BIDDERS - ALTERNATIVE

MR. RUSSELL MACLELLAN: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Premier. It seems the government is going to be selling Sysco to a Swiss-based company that operates out of Sharon, Pennsylvania, that is going to make as its only product at Sysco, slabs; 200,000 tons of slabs for their own use in Pennsylvania. Now, that is a very narrow product field. Yet, at the same time, the government has dismissed an application supported by both Corus Consulting and the union for a sale to a venture capital group that would employ 500 employees instead of the 200, and would have a more diverse product line, including rails.

[Page 4585]

Why has the Premier discounted this venture capital group that could employ 300 more than the Swiss-based group and provide a more secure product line for the corporation?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite should share some of his information with the member for Cape Breton South, because he doesn't seem to have this information. What I can say is that we have made a determination that Sysco will be sold as a result of a business deal, as a result of a business plan, and it will not be a political decision. Right now the process is in the hands of the Board of Directors of Sydney Steel and Ernst & Young. No proposal has come forward for that group for consideration of government, and I am not going to discuss that process. It should not be a political process, and I don't want to do anything to damage the process.

MR. MACLELLAN: Mr. Speaker, it is absolutely essential that the people in Nova Scotia know what is going on, particularly after the fiasco of December 31st. I would say to the Premier and to the government, there really has been enough anxiety created among steelworkers and their families. They deserve to know what is transpiring. I want to ask the Premier, why would he sell to a company that makes one product that doesn't go on the market, but just for their use? Slabs are needed now. What will happen when the need for slabs is over? What is going to happen to Sydney Steel? I would suggest to the Premier that it will be closed by this company.

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite would appear to be the prophet of doom. What we have to have in Cape Breton is optimism, and I believe going about this in the proper way will result in the proper organization running Sydney Steel. I am confident the process in which we are involved will have that result.

MR. MACLELLAN: Mr. Speaker, certainly, the last thing I would want to do is ruin any expectation that people in Cape Breton have of a successful conclusion to the attempt to sell Sydney Steel. What I am worried about, however, is that we are not going to get the information, and we need to have that information. What I am worried about is that the best deal be brought forward. I am concerned, and I would ask the Premier to tell us that, in fact this other proposal is being considered, and that the idea is not to sell slabs for awhile and ultimately just waste all the assets?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

THE PREMIER: What I can say to the member opposite, specifically to Cape Bretoners in general, we are going after the best solution that will result in an industry in Cape Breton.

[Page 4586]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party.

TRANSPORT. & PUB. WKS.: PRIVATIZATION - INTENTION

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I want to let members know that I am asking this question on behalf of the member for Timberlea-Prospect who, you will be disappointed to hear, has lost his voice.

Mr. Speaker, I am directing my question through you to the Premier. On July 24, 1997, the Premier signed the NSGEU's Five Point Quality Public Service Protection Plan. That plan calls for a full and open review of privatization options, for public consultation and for a final report to be tabled in this House. Yesterday, my honourable colleague tabled a memo that shows the Department of Transportation and Public Works intends to privatize 30 per cent of the department's activities, no public consultation, no review, and nothing presented to the House.

I want to ask the Premier, Mr. Speaker - he signed the document - will he not stand by his commitment and ensure that no privatization pilot projects proceed unless the NSGEU's five point plan is followed?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, we have been meeting with the NSGEU since October to put in place a process whereby we can do what it is the intention of this government to do, to bring about the changes that have to occur in the public sector with the well-being of the public sector in mind. We can only do that with the cooperation of the union and those meetings are going forward. I would hope that with their cooperation we can put a process in place that will ensure that their objectives and our objectives can both be met.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: What do you think, Bill?

MR. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: Not much.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Not much. Mr. Speaker, again to the Premier. The five point plan also says that the government must table demonstrable evidence that privatization will lead to improved services. The Minister of Transportation has tabled nothing to support selling off one-third of his department. So, again I go to the Premier. He signed the document. He made the commitment. Will he not live up to his promise and ensure that evidence is tabled in this House showing how services will improve before your minister privatizes these services?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite had made reference to a specific initiative in the Department of Transportation which, obviously, generated his question. He is somewhat confused as to what the initiative is and I would ask the Minister of Transportation to describe it.

[Page 4587]

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, obviously the member opposite does not understand what a pilot project is. A pilot project is put in place to determine the viability of some future endeavour by some department.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Bill?

MR. ESTABROOKS: No.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: No. Okay. Mr. Speaker, the five point plan says that in the event of a privatization employees can move to the new employer with full protection of all existing rights, benefits, and entitlements. Remember, Mr. Premier, you signed this document. Will you guarantee, Mr. Premier, that if any services are privatized, public sector workers will have the ability to move to the new employer with all existing rights, benefits, and entitlements? That was your commitment then, will you make it today?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, what I can say to the member opposite is the five point plan can only be effective if, in fact, we are able to set up the processes that it implies. We are working to set up those processes; as yet they are not in place. We have been meeting with the NSGEU. The first meeting occurred in October and as yet that process has not been finalized. When it is finalized, after the NSGEU are part and parcel of the process, we will let the member opposite know.

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

HOUSING & MUN. AFFS. - ASSESSMENTS:

COSTS - DOWNLOADING

MR. DAVID WILSON: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Premier. I have a letter from the Minister of Housing and Municipal Affairs to the President of the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities, which I will table. The letter outlines downloading measures, including assessment services, termination of aid to towns, and the termination of aid to municipalities. In the Tory blue book there is a promise on Page 21 to stop downloading to municipalities. My question is, why is the Premier blatantly breaking his promise to municipalities and raising the possibility that municipal taxes will rise?

[1:45 p.m.]

THE PREMIER: That is a question for the Minister of Housing and Municipal Affairs.

HON. ANGUS MACISAAC: I want to thank the honourable member for the question. I can tell the honourable member that the communication to which he refers is a matter which indicates our future planning with respect to municipal units. That complies with the requirements under the Municipal Government Act.

[Page 4588]

MR. WILSON: My first supplementary is to the Minister of Housing and Municipal Affairs. That letter that was tabled goes on to further outline downloading measures from Transportation and Public Works, the Department of Labour, the Department of the Environment and the Department of Justice. These measures will cripple some municipalities. My question is, how can the minister, in all good conscience, implement those measures knowing full well that it breaks his Party's promise to municipalities?

MR. MACISAAC: The measures which are outlined in the letter providing the notice to the municipal units, provides them with ample opportunity to plan and to prepare for the future.

MR. WILSON: As I heard it, an ample opportunity to plan - nobody in this province voted for those measures. My final supplementary to the Premier is, the government has no mandate whatsoever to implement a downloading agenda and it is clearly contrary to the blue book promises. Why did the Premier mislead the people of Nova Scotia and municipalities in the last election? (Applause)

THE PREMIER: It is obvious the member opposite is having some difficulty understanding the Municipal Government Act and I would ask that the minister clarify it for the member opposite.

MR. MACISAAC: We are, in fact, complying with the requirements of the Municipal Government Act and the letter to which the honourable gentleman refers is the letter which provides clear and open communication to the municipal units and that is the way in which we will conduct our relations with those units. We will give them lots of opportunity to plan and we will consult with them. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants East.

AGRIC. - BUDGET (2000-01): CUTS - FARMERS IGNORED

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, my question will be directed to the Premier. Over a week ago in this House the Premier claimed, that our changes in agriculture were in fact the result of consultations with the Federation of Agriculture. He went on to say that they are prepared to support the changes we have made. I have a news release here that shows anything but support for this government's attack on the agricultural sector and I will table it and also have a copy to go to the Premier.

It states that the agricultural industry expressed shock and dismay at the approach that has been taken to restructuring the industry. My question to the Premier is, will you now admit that you did not consult with farmers and that your budget does not have the support of the agricultural sector?

[Page 4589]

THE PREMIER: The member opposite was kind enough to bring over a news release, but not kind enough to give me enough time to read it. What I can say, the minister is absent from the House, the minister who is responsible for that budget, but the difficulty we are all having here on the government side is suggestions that come from across the House all of which would assume that we have an unlimited supply of money; more money for agriculture, more money for health, more money for education, more money for everything. What we would like to have from the Opposition are some suggestions. If you want more money for agriculture (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, for the Federation of Agriculture, it is not a question of more money. They would like to have the same money, and it is a question of truth. The Federation of Agriculture is highly critical of the government's gutting of the Production Technology Branch. They say some of the most critical services cannot be replaced by the private sector and must reside somewhere in the public sector.

The commodity groups agree, and here is what the Purebred Sheep Breeders Association had to say: "We can not think of any action that could be more damaging to the farming community than the course that you have chosen. There is no grass roots support for this action." I want to table the letter from the Purebred Sheep Breeders Association and also a copy for the Premier. I want to ask the Premier, the people who know Nova Scotia agriculture best say your approach is wrong and a threat to the future of the industry. Will you heed their warnings and stop your attack on Nova Scotia farmers?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the agricultural industry is a very important part of our economy. The agricultural industry has been a contributor to this economy for decades and decades and decades. The member opposite has also got to realize that if we continue to do things the same way, the agricultural industry will not benefit any more than any other sector of Nova Scotia life will benefit if we don't (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. (Interruptions) Order, please.

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, the only people who seem to approve of this budget are the minister and perhaps some friends who stand to benefit from a loss of specialists. I want to ask the Premier, when will you stop putting the financial interests of a few private-sector friends ahead of the future of Nova Scotia farmers? (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. (Interruptions). Order, please.

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, there are good questions, and there are bad questions. That is a bad question.

[Page 4590]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Victoria.

NSLC - PRIVATIZATION

MR. KENNETH MACASKILL: Mr. Speaker, my question today is for the minister responsible for the Liquor Control Act. I think the minister will agree that most Nova Scotians believe that the Nova Scotia Liquor Commission is providing a good service for Nova Scotians. We learned yesterday that this government is doing another expensive study, this time to look at options like privatizing liquor stores and warehouses. My question to the minister is, why does this government try to push its big business agenda through disguised as another consultant's report?

HON. RODNEY MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, we are doing nothing more than going for outside expertise. As the member mentioned, the Nova Scotia Liquor Commission is very important to the province, very important financially, very important for jobs and so on. But, the working groups felt it is best to go for outside expertise and so do the people on this side of the House.

MR. MACASKILL: Mr. Speaker, the minister, coming from a rural area, he knows the importance of jobs in rural Nova Scotia. Liquor stores provide well-paying and good jobs in the rural areas for the full 12 months of the year. Rural areas depend on these jobs, particularly when the tourism season is over. My question to the minister is, what can the minister guarantee to this House that will give some comfort that private operators will provide adequate service in rural areas, like in his riding of Inverness, Port Hood, and Ingonish?

MR. RODNEY MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, at this time, we are simply doing no more than an analysis. It strikes me that the honourable member is talking about jobs in rural communities. When he was the minister responsible for the Liquor Control Act in his government from 1993-99, the number of full-time employees decreased by 119. That is how much they cared about jobs in rural Nova Scotia. (Interruptions)

MR. MACASKILL: Mr. Speaker, do you know where this minister is going with the jobs from the Nova Scotia Liquor Commission, if they are privatizing? Look at what happened with the privatization of Nova Scotia Power. Did that provide a better service for Nova Scotia? No. But it did create tremendous profit for CEOs and the board of directors. Who are these people? Why won't the minister first look at making this successful enterprise better, instead of creating opportunities for Tory friends, like he is doing, like they did with Nova Scotia Power?

MR. RODNEY MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, again, we are doing no more than an analysis at this point. I would also like to say that the previous government (Interruptions)

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MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable minister responsible for the Liquor Control Act has the floor.

MR. RODNEY MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I would like to say - I will table this - Page 191, the 1998-99 Corporate Business Plan submitted by the honourable Don Downe, the then Minister of Finance, it indicates there are few significant short-term cost-reduction opportunities without pursuing substantial structural change in the way the NSLC delivers its services. I am simply doing no more, and this government is simply doing no more, than an analysis.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

NSLC - PRIVATIZATION: REVIEW - PUBLISH

MS. EILEEN O'CONNELL: Mr. Speaker, my question is also for the minister responsible for the Liquor Control Act. The minister has been honest saying that they are doing no more than reviewing, but actually, yesterday they issued a request for proposals to look at ways of selling off the Nova Scotia Liquor Commission. They are not looking for a review, they want to buy a justification for selling off the Liquor Commission no matter what the cost. The only way that Nova Scotians can have any faith in this process is for the government to make it totally open and transparent. My question to the minister is, will you commit today to making the review available to the public as soon as you get it?

HON. RODNEY MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, once the analysis is done and once it comes through the working committee and the RFP, and so on, and this government decides on a direction it will take, I will be glad to share the information with the honourable member.

MS. O'CONNELL: Mr. Speaker, so the minister is saying that once they have looked at it and rearranged it to suit themselves, they will let the public know what they are doing. It is hard to believe that this government is interested in the most sensible option for Nova Scotians (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member for Halifax Fairview has the floor.

MS. O'CONNELL: Mr. Speaker, it is really hard to believe that the government is interested in the most sensible option for Nova Scotians and not a fire-sale deal for their buddies. This proposal leaves the door open for the same firm that is doing the review to come back later and buy into any private liquor operations. Companies are being asked to write their own meal ticket. I want to ask the minister, will you ensure that the government receives an unbiased opinion by amending your tender to prohibit the reviewer from participating in any future private liquor operations should the Liquor Commission be privatized?

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[2:00 p.m.]

MR. RODNEY MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, we are doing no more than asking, through the RFP for an analysis of the information to come back to help the working committee come forward to the government; no more, no less.

MS. O'CONNELL: Mr. Speaker, it is past time to remind the minister and the government that the Premier is a signatory to the NSGEU's Five Point Quality Public Service Protection Plan. I want to ask the minister, will he commit today that the five point plan will be followed in the evaluation of whether the Liquor Commission should be privatized?

MR. RODNEY MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member is speaking about the terms of reference, and I did say I would table them tomorrow and I did mention that to her. I will table them tomorrow, that the committee is going to be working on. Again, the committee is comprised of P&P and so on, and I will table that. The terms of reference will outline how the committee will be going forth on this issue over the next couple of months. One important part is the RFP process which will be coming toward the end of June.

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

The honourable Minister of Justice on an introduction.

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, I would like to welcome four guests in the east gallery. They are: my sons, Matthew and Daniel; and my mother and father, Barbara and Gilbert Baker. If they would rise and receive welcome from the House. (Applause)

GOVERNMENT BUSINESS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

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

GOVERNMENT MOTIONS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I move that you do now leave the Chair and that the House resolve itself into a Committee of the Whole House on Supply unto Her Majesty.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

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MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I would like to take this opportunity of 15 minutes allotted to each member before we go into Supply to talk a bit about my riding, and to talk specifically about concerns that people in my riding have with respect to the impact on them of the budget we are debating.

Essentially, Mr. Speaker, there are three groups that I would specifically like to talk about, what their concerns are, although I know there are very many more groups that have concerns than these three. I am referring here to parents and children (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. There is too much noise in the Chamber. Would the members mind taking their conversations outside please. The honourable member for Halifax Needham has the floor.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. Halifax Needham is a wonderful constituency. I had an opportunity to talk about this constituency before, and I often say we make ships and beer in this riding. We have a lot of young families with children living in the area, and we have five schools; four of the schools are elementary schools, and one is a junior high school. In the past few weeks, the administration, the teachers, PTAs and the young people in the schools certainly have been very concerned about what the very immediate future will look like for them in terms of education.

In the short time I have been here, Mr. Speaker, I have had the privilege of spending a fair amount of time in these schools and they are really wonderful schools. They have young principals for the most part. When I say young, they have young men and women who are probably in their early 30's to mid-30's as principals in the school system. They are very optimistic, lots of energy, totally dedicated to education.

In particular, I will start by naming one of these principals, Chris Augusta-Scott who is the Principal at St. Joseph's-Alexander McKay School who specifically asked to come into that school in the north end of Halifax. It is one of the inner-city schools, a school where there is a very high proportion of the children who come from female-headed households, single parent households with very low incomes. It is a school where there have been a lot of challenges facing the parents and the teachers with respect to education and ensuring that children have an opportunity that is enjoyed by children in much more secure and affluent circumstances.

In a very short period of time, under the leadership of Ms. Augusta-Scott, this school has really blossomed and the children and the teachers in this school certainly have grown and developed in a way where everybody who knows that school and has known it for a number of years are now talking about. In a very few days the students in that school will be putting on a piece of theatre and all of the community will be involved and people will be very proud of what that principal, those children, teachers and parents have been able to do. People in that school are very concerned about the impact of this budget on them.

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In addition, there is another school, Joseph Howe School, where the Principal is Melinda Daye. Now Melinda Daye would be known to some members of this Legislature because her father was Buddy Daye, a long-time family in the north end of Halifax. Melinda grew up there, went to school there herself and is now the principal of this elementary school, another inner city school that is a wonderful school to visit because of the attention that is paid to each student and each family in that school. I find it particularly an excellent school to visit because of the attention they pay to the African-Nova Scotian heritage, how they instil in children a pride in their cultural background and history and work with children so that they understand that they have a great deal to celebrate. In this school as well, parents, teachers and students are very concerned about the potential impact of this budget on them.

We also have another elementary school in Halifax Needham, St. Patrick's - Alexandra School and this school is headed by Peter Wicha, the Principal, who has been there for a number of years and is a very dedicated principal with an excellent staff. They, too, have invested heavily in the children and in their education. This school is a full-service school, so in addition to the classes that children take - elementary and there are some junior high classes there as well - in this school there is a workers' co-op, a theatre group; the Black Learners Association offers programs in the school, tutoring programs. There is an adult high school. All of these things are on the chopping block now. The full-service school could very well be a casualty of this Education budget because these programs do not conform to the minister's ideas of what core educational funding should be for. I have to tell you that the loss of this school, the full-service school programming, would be a dramatic negative development in this school and in this community.

There are two other schools in the north end of Halifax. One is St. Stephen's School, it is an elementary school and the principal there, Mr. Smith, is a very good principal. He has the respect of the students and certainly the parents. I think if there is any school in the past few days where I have had a lot of contact from children in the school, it would be St. Stephen's. Obviously, parents and children in this particular school have had a lot of discussions about what the impact of this budget will have for them and, in particular, I think students in the Grade 6 class are very concerned about what will happen to them as they move to junior high.

For many years students in the north end of Halifax have had some choice about whether they would attend St. Agnes or whether they would attend Oxford or whether they would attend Highland Park Junior High School. There certainly is a very strong perception, Mr. Speaker, that this budget will have an impact on the choice of parents and children from St. Stephen's School and that, in fact, the students will no longer be able to go to St. Agnes, for example, they may be diverted or confined only to the Highland Park Junior High School and if they want to go elsewhere, fees will be levied against them. For most parents this is just not a realistic possibility, so this is of great concern to people.

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Highland Park school is a junior high in my riding. The principal of that school is Mr. George Gray, who is in his second year as being principal in this school. He is a very caring and compassionate principal, but a very fair and very clear disciplinarian who sets parameters for children and has been working very hard to deal with some incidents of bullying that have occurred in the past. This has become a central concern for parents and children at this school and he is working very hard to bring that situation to resolution.

For a principal like this, and teachers in that school, they look at this budget and they look at the potential loss of their numbers. They ask themselves how will they be able to deal with some of the serious problems they have had to deal with in the past if they have less resources to do this. They would want me to impress on the government that this budget will have consequences far beyond this year. This budget will have consequences for children into the future, particularly for students who are in the junior high years who are struggling with a lot of issues as they bridge that period in their lives between childhood and young adulthood. It is a very important stage in the lives of children. So that is one group that is very concerned about the budget.

Another group that I have had a lot of calls from and a lot of discussions with in the last few weeks are seniors. Mr. Speaker, I have mentioned before, here on the floor of the House that I have a number of senior citizens, and low-income manors, in my riding: Gordon B. Isenor, Sunrise Manor, Dr. Samuel Prince Manor, Acadia Lodge North and South, Richmond Manor and Northwood Manor, as well as one or two other fee-for-profit kinds of places.

[2:15 p.m.]

Seniors in these complexes live on very modest incomes, and they are very disturbed about the increase in the co-pay to Pharmacare this year, and they are even more concerned that there was no commitment, in fact there is a very strong suggestion in the budget that the premium for Pharmacare will increase next year. This will have a dramatic impact on seniors. I have had seniors who have told me that they go without their prescription drugs now, because they can't afford premiums and they can't afford the co-pay. If there is any group of people who come to my office and talk to me for assistance, it would be this group, and this would be the biggest issue that I have.

The final group that I would like to speak about, in terms of the impact of this budget, who live in my riding, are people who live in poverty. I would guess, of all of the metro constituencies, my riding is probably one that has more than its disproportionate share of people who are living in poverty. Last week I think, a national report was released on urban poverty, and it indicated that Halifax actually had a 24 per cent of the population rate of people who live in poverty. I know the honorable member for Dartmouth North and myself, for Halifax Needham, we have very similar constituencies, where a lot of people live in poverty. I have had calls from people with disabilities who have literally broken down and cried on the phone, asking me what this budget means for them, telling me that they cannot

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possibly have a reduction in their very small family benefits payments because they literally don't have enough money now for bus fare, for transportation.

This government is causing a lot of grief to a lot of vulnerable people. We will have to do our best, I think, to impress on them that they have alternatives. This human tragedy that they are promoting in this budget needs to be prevented, not moved forward.

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

MR. BRIAN BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, it is certainly an honour and a pleasure for me to rise in the House today and speak before going into Supply. Today I want to speak on an issue that I feel is quite important in the riding of Cape Breton The Lakes, and I believe it is also a very important issue right across the Province of Nova Scotia, particularly in the area of tourism. I have made no secret about my concerns over the new Marine Atlantic ferry that is scheduled for the terminal in North Sydney early in May. These concerns have been expressed to me by residents, the current employees of the Marine Atlantic terminal in North Sydney, as well as many of the municipal representatives throughout that area.

Mr. Speaker, the truth is that this ferry is not even in my riding. The ferry docks in North Sydney, which is in Cape Breton North. It is the riding of my Leader, the Liberal Leader Russell MacLellan. However, many of the Marine Atlantic employees do live in my area and I am pleased to be able to represent them in this House of Assembly. I am also pleased that the Liberal Leader has supported and allowed me to raise these issues so many times during the last few months. I believe this is because this is an issue he strongly fought for in Ottawa, and with Marine Atlantic when he was Premier of Nova Scotia. In fact, as Premier, Russell MacLellan managed to negotiate some pretty important deals in regard to Marine Atlantic.

In 1998, Mr. Speaker, Marine Atlantic moved its head office from Moncton, New Brunswick. Premier MacLellan fought on a daily basis with the Newfoundland Premier, Brian Tobin, over this issue. He went to the Prime Minister directly and he met with the federal minister, the Honourable David Collenette. Premier MacLellan made a deal to provide security for the employees at the terminal in North Sydney. The decision was made to locate the operation of a human resources function in the North Sydney area. The finance and administration functions went to Port aux Basques in Newfoundland.

This arrangement created new job opportunities in both communities, Mr. Speaker. We have the Leader of the Liberal Party to thank for that, I believe. That is why I was so disappointed when I saw that this current government was doing little to protect Nova Scotian jobs at Marine Atlantic. I have brought this issue up in the House many times. You could say I have even been rocking the boat for several months.

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I want to congratulate the present Premier for some of the progress that he has made to date. Premier Hamm has always been willing to keep me well informed on this issue and I want to acknowledge that. Maybe that is why I have been bothering him so much regarding this issue, but I will not be apologizing for writing letters to the Premier, Mr. Speaker. I know this is an important issue to the people of Cape Breton and, in particular, Cape Breton The Lakes and it is an important issue as I indicated previously, to the entire Province of Nova Scotia.

I believe it is also important to recognize that this is also an important issue with the Province of Newfoundland. The Newfoundland Government and its MPs have been fighting hard for this issue and it is, in my opinion at least, Mr. Speaker, easy to see why. The ferry is one of the most important links the Island of Newfoundland has with the rest of Canada. So I can understand why the people of Newfoundland feel some sense of ownership over the Marine Atlantic service, but the truth is the Marine Atlantic ferry is not a Newfoundland service. The service is clearly a Canadian service. Marine Atlantic is a registered federal Crown Corporation. That is why Nova Scotians must stand up for their share of the jobs and their share of the business that is generated by this ferry operation.

The big issue with me and what I am concerned about is jobs. Marine Atlantic is finally putting a new ferry into service between North Sydney and Port aux Basques. They are already taking bookings for the ferry, so if you want to go to Newfoundland this summer, call now; the sooner the better, Mr. Speaker. This new service will create upwards of 250 new jobs. This is tremendous news and great news for Nova Scotia. Traditionally, the jobs on the ferry service between Newfoundland and Nova Scotia have been shared equally between both provinces, but since before the new ferry was announced, Newfoundland has been aggressively trying to get all of these jobs.

I guess I would like to take a moment to congratulate Brian Tobin and his government for doing that. I guess that is what I believe a government is supposed to do. Premier Tobin and Newfoundland Members of Parliament, like the Honourable George Baker, and MP, Bill Matthews, are fighting to get the whole pie, Mr. Speaker, and not just a piece of that pie. On the other hand, I understand that this service belongs to every Canadian, including Nova Scotians. I would never suggest that Nova Scotia try to take all of these jobs from Newfoundland. I think it is reasonable to suggest that we share the jobs equally as has been done in the past. Newfoundland continues to push to obtain all these job opportunities. From what I understand, the Government of Newfoundland had established training programs and financial assistance for training programs since the fall of 1999, preparing its residents for new opportunities which will, I believe, come to light early in May.

Unfortunately, Mr. Speaker, our own government seems to have missed the boat. In Nova Scotia, training programs set up at the Marconi Campus of the Nova Scotia Community College only started a training program approximately one month ago on March 20th. With Marine Atlantic already taking bookings for the new season, and the new ferry, I wonder if

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our workforce will be trained in time to get these jobs and these new opportunities on this particular boat. As well, many of the people who wanted to take this training, I am concerned about those because I have spoken to several who have used up their EI benefits, which would mean they no longer qualify for funding for training allowance. That concerns me a great deal. I have to ask the question, what are these people supposed to do?

The Minister of Education upon a question by me in this House indicated that they could take a student loan. Well, Mr. Speaker, that process could take months, and it is obvious that we don't have months or the time to wait. Plus, the Department of Education is cutting back on student loans, so people really are out of luck in that regard. Like I said, I brought this matter to the attention of Premier Hamm months ago. I also contacted the Minister of Transportation, the Minister of Economic Development, and the Minister of Education. I am glad to say I have received positive responses from Senator Bernie Boudreau on this particular issue. Of course, Senator Boudreau is the Nova Scotia representative in the federal Cabinet.

The people of Cape Breton The Lakes, I believe, deserve to have every opportunity to get one of these jobs. Surely, we all believe that each and every Nova Scotian has the right to have an opportunity to those jobs. There have been a lot of economic hardships in Cape Breton, but our people always seem to struggle through, and I always believe very strongly that the will of the people will prevail. It would be unfortunate if this opportunity was missed because someone didn't make a phone call or perhaps write a letter. This is why I have been making phone calls and writing letters basically on a daily basis. I know Premier Hamm has been listening to me, in particular, and I only hope that he has acted soon enough. If we lose these jobs, who knows what could happen next.

There are rumours that Marine Atlantic is looking at moving its headquarters again. I have heard that the company may put all its operations in one location. That concerns me a great deal, Mr. Speaker. Our former Premier, my Leader, Russell MacLellan, fought to make sure Nova Scotia got its fair share, in particular, in regard to this facility. We all know the Premier told them we will be fighting to get the entire pie. This is where our Premier comes in. He has visited the area, he has met with the current workers at Marine Atlantic, and he has met with the representatives of municipal government in the Cape Breton Regional Municipality, and has committed to them to ensure that every opportunity will be available to Nova Scotians in regard to this new ferry.

[2:30 p.m.]

I guess, in closing, I would encourage the Premier not to lie back, but to continue his pursuit very aggressively on behalf of the people of Cape Breton and, in particular, of Nova Scotia, to ensure that the real opportunities out there, become a reality and that unemployed Nova Scotians will have a fair and equal opportunity for the jobs that they deserve. Thank you.

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MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax-Bedford Basin. (Applause)

MS. MARY ANN MCGRATH: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased today to speak about an issue for which I have spent endless numbers of hours fighting and that issue is education.

AN HON. MEMBER: An ordinary Nova Scotian.

MS. MCGRATH: That is right, as ordinary as everybody else here.

Many of those hours over the years have meant time that I was not able to spend with my family - with my husband and my children - time that I have thanked them for before, and will continue to thank them for as I thank them for the time that they have given me to spend here.

Because of my concern for education and my concern for my children, I have been supportive and committed to many projects. The Halifax Education Foundation, I am proud to say is something that I started some years ago in Halifax that now is in support of the entire Halifax Regional School Board and supports public education in our communities. I have worked hard for PTA, I have worked on the strategic planning process that was dedicated to education reform, and now I am here.

I know how important education is to our province, both socially and economically. I fought the election on Halifax Bedford Basin doorsteps and I fought it with my passion for education, but I also fought it for fiscal responsibility and good government. I was elected on that basis and I continue to have support from my residents to continue with that fight. We have to balance our fiscal responsibility with our need to provide good service to Nova Scotians and that is what this budget is about. If we don't get our fiscal house in order, we won't be providing service of any kind to anybody, and that is something which the members opposite were unable to do in their term in office, which might explain their seating position now.

The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid spoke in a resolution this morning about my stint on the radio and the system that I talked about and what our government is intending to do. I question your interpretation of my statements. I did say that if I wasn't an MLA, I would be out protesting with those people, and I would. I stand behind their right, I stand behind everybody's right to say and do whatever they feel is necessary to get the attention of government, and I have talked to them and I continue to talk to them. That is a democratic right and the duty of every citizen in this province.

The other thing that is a democratic right and the duty of every citizen in this province is the right to be proactive. Last night I went to a meeting at Halifax West High School, something that was discussed on the radio this morning. What they neglected to say (Interruptions) I don't know, Eileen, I told them to invite you - sorry I didn't mean to say

[Page 4600]

your name - that meeting was not a protest. That meeting was organized to find solutions to our economic woes as relates to our Education budget, and I am pleased to say that in the space of less than one hour, teachers, parents, students, principals at that meeting came up with 27 productive probabilities that will be presented to this government and the school board, which involves give and take on all parts.

Parents, taxpayers, the school board, everybody has a hand in this and those solutions will be presented in the form of a letter from that group to this government. I would be happy to provide you with a copy if you wish. I will always support all of our citizens in their right to express their concerns to government, however they choose. I will also encourage everyone in this province to talk to one another, to look for solutions together.

Yesterday, stakeholders in public education finally sat down to talk - superintendents and staff and the department deputies are looking at both sides of the ledger in this battle of numbers - a meeting from which superintendents emerged yesterday saying that they had made some progress. We are finally getting this debate where it should be, at the table with a reasonable level of discussion between those who are charged with making these decisions.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.

MR. JOHN HOLM: I was wondering if the member would entertain a brief question?

MR. SPEAKER: Will the honourable member for Halifax Bedford Basin entertain a question?

MS. MCGRATH: Yes.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.

MR. HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I welcome and appreciate the fact the member would entertain a question. A key word on what she has been saying has been the word finally. She is pleased they are finally starting to talk. My question to the member is quite simply this, wouldn't she also agree that after the budget, and after all of the decisions have been made, isn't that a little bit late? Wouldn't it have been more logical, sensible, sane, productive to have held those discussions prior to the budget being introduced, to say nothing of being more respectful?

MS. MCGRATH: Mr. Speaker, I don't profess to know how things were done in the past. I have heard all sorts of people claim that different levels of consultation have taken place at different times both before and after budgets in the past. I have absolutely no expertise in answering that question, so I can't tell you how it should have been done. I was never here before, but I am here now, and the people are at the table where they should have stayed last week.

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It is completely understandable to be hearing from teachers and students and parents that there is great distress when lay-off notices are issued. This is distressing to both teachers and students. But discussion is much more productive. (Interruption) Do I look distressed to you? We must finally look more deeply at the issues - I won't spit out my teeth - we must finally look more deeply at the issues in this equation. There are problems in our education system, and those must be addressed. However, throwing money is not always the only answer either.

There are changes that should be made that can improve situations that do not include dollars. There are declines in enrolments, and that is a fact that has to be rationalized. I am well aware that spending priorities have been examined in the past more than once, but I still see examples of waste. I get submissions from government-funded organizations daily across my desk that come on stationery I can't afford to buy, and I don't know how they can get the money for it. I also know that program delivery in many cases is not being done in the most economically feasible sense. (Interruptions) Multiply it.

The minister has stated that a 2.4 per cent cut will not equate to 50 students in a classroom. There has been an exploitation of misinformation in this numbers battle and that has made an emotional issue even more emotional. I am glad the progress is being made at meetings which will continue tomorrow.

There is another side to this equation that is something our Party fought in the election and won and that is a balanced budget. This is not, as the NDP and Liberals would have us believe, a financial issue alone. It is also a social issue. If we continue to spend as those across the floor just finished doing, our debt will continue to spiral. We will be spending more and more on servicing that debt and less and less on education and health care. I think it is disgusting that the debt has come this far, that we will spend $900 million on servicing an $11 billion debt. (Interruption)

Can't those opposite see what these millions could do in the hands of the Departments of Education and Health? Can't they see the text books we could purchase, and the health we could deliver and the teachers' assistants we could fund? There has been so much waste that this issue has been left to grow out of control, and that is a great shame. I have heard a lot of people in the media and elsewhere speak about the fact that we are going too fast, that we shouldn't be paying this down in three years. Nobody is suggesting we should try to pay down an $11 billion debt in three years. (Interruptions) I am not paying off my mortgage in three years, but I'm damn well (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. (Interruptions) Order, please. The honourable member for Halifax Bedford Basin has the floor.

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MS. MCGRATH: The NDP member for Halifax Needham read today from an e-mail to her office asking why we are making changes so quickly. It is unfortunate that it appears that that member, by chance also wishing to take the reins for her Party, is unable to answer that question herself. She is a very bright and knowledgeable person and I would assume she could look at a pie chart as well I can. That chart clearly and sadly shows the equivalent to our public education system being spent on interest charges. That is simply something that should not only stop growing, but must be reduced. I believe that means this is, indeed, a social issue as much as a financial issue.

It is vitally important for parents, schools and government to work together towards a goal of improving our education system. It is equally important to address a suffocating budget. This government did address the importance of education by increasing overall its funding to reflect its commitment to education. We regret it has not been possible to increase funding in every area, but we are working on it.

I would like to share some e-mail that I received, too. I got some good stuff, you know. Mr. Premier, this is a copy to all of us from a 20 year old university student from Mount Saint Vincent who has a younger sister in high school. "I wanted to let you know that I fully support everything you are doing and how you are going about reinforcing it. You are the first politician I can remember seeing that has the . . .", - oh, this is a no-no, I will say intestinal fortitude, ". . . to make a stand, and . . . do feel that if the children in public schools were educated on what is presently going on in Politics, then the reason these cuts were made would be much easier to grasp. (Interruptions) Absolutely.

I also want to read from another e-mail, Mr. Speaker, which I received just this morning. "I am a very senior citizen and alone, so I really hadn't been paying too much attention to all the budget fuss - except to pray I kept healthy or died quickly! Frankly the hysterical demonstrations have rather disgusted me. The bottom line is that NS is broke and over its head in debt and it's payback time. Dr. Hamm is taking the correct stand and I hope he has the strength to hold on to it. It is time for people to turn their hands to work instead of palm up for freebies."

Mr. Speaker, I hope the meetings continue, and positive steps are taken, and that there is a more responsible and reasonable approach to positive solutions. I will always view one of the most important issues for any government is good education for our children.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I hadn't necessarily planned to rise to speak. What do I have, about five minutes left in the time-frame?

MR. SPEAKER: Six, five now.

[Page 4603]

MR. HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate that. I do have to get up and say a few words. Although when it comes to talking about the importance of education and the importance of our children, I really don't need any motivation to do that. Quite frankly, one of the things that this government has obviously forgotten - as it talks about the information age, about moving forward into the future, about providing and having a skill-based workforce in this province, about life-long learning - and what it fails to recognize is that life-long learning begins in the early ages, in the early years. You don't wait until the school system ends up failing the students because of underfunding and lack of resources to try to put people into adult programs.

I heard the previous speaker, and I got up and I asked her a question. In her remarks, one of the things that I want to highlight is the word, finally. The member talked about how the government is finally, this is weeks after the budget has been introduced, weeks after the government has determined what the budget and the amounts of money for education are going to be, and without any consultation whatsoever with the partners in education. With due respect, Mr. Speaker, the partners in education, like the school boards, the educators, and if I may be so disrespectful as to the suggest, even the students, appear to know a lot more about the importance of education and how the education system operates than that member who spoke.

I do remember how things were done in the past. If members on the government benches had paid any attention to it, they would have also looked at how things were done in the past, and they would have known that there was a funding formula review committee, and that others - other than the real Minister of Education, I am not sure who it is, I am not sure if the real Minister of Education is the Minister of Finance or the new import from New Brunswick, one of them is obviously the Minister of Education - certainly should have known and should have told the backbenchers that in the past the partners in education were brought to the table, and they discussed what was needed in the education system to ensure that children with high special needs do have the resources available to them so that they can receive the maximum education in the classroom. Funding for special education has been woefully lacking for many years. Now it is going to be hit even more.

Mr. Speaker, when you are providing integration and then you are cranking up the class sizes and you are taking out the few scarce resources that are there, all of the children suffer. All suffer. The member talks about finally. Finally, after the fact, is not good enough. We have heard the Deputy Minister of Education saying that people are around the table. The minister has talked about the fact that people are now sitting around the table talking about the Education budget and talking about financing.

[Page 4604]

[2:45 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, we have heard the government is prepared to amend, to alter the budget, when it is shown that the commitments that were made by the minister cannot, in fact, be carried out. So, obviously, the budget is still under preparation. We should not be debating and considering a budget today when that budget is still being written.

Therefore, Mr. Speaker, I make the following motion, I move that the House do now rise and meet again tomorrow.

MR. SPEAKER: A recorded vote is being called for.

The motion is to adjourn.

[2:48 p.m.]

[The Division bells were rung.]

[3:06 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: Are the Whips satisfied?

[The Whips were not satisfied.

The Division bells were rung.]

[3:45 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: Are the Whips satisfied?

[The Clerk calls the roll.]

[3:46 p.m.]

YEAS NAYS

Mr. MacAskill Mr. Christie

Dr. Smith Mr. Baker

Mr. MacLellan Mr. Russell

Mr. Downe Dr. Hamm

Mr. Manning MacDonald Mr. LeBlanc

Mr. Holm Miss Purves

Mr. Robert Chisholm Mr. Parent

[Page 4605]

Ms. O'Connell Ms. McGrath

Ms. Maureen MacDonald Mr. Ronald Chisholm

Mr. Corbett Mr. Olive

Mr. Epstein Mr. Rodney MacDonald

Mr. Estabrooks Mr. MacIsaac

Mr. Deveaux Mr. DeWolfe

Mr. Dexter Mr. Taylor

Mr. Gaudet Mr. Langille

Mr. MacKinnon Mr. Morse

Mr. Samson Mr. Hendsbee

Mr. Boudreau Mrs. Baillie

Mr. Wilson Mr. Carey

Mr. Pye Mr. Morash

Mr. John MacDonell Mr. Chipman

Mr. Barnet

Mr. O'Donnell

Mr. Hurlburt

MR. SPEAKER: I would remind honourable members that there has been a precedent set in this House that when you vote on a motion, it is either a Yea or a Nay. It was decided at the last session that we would not accept anything any different than that. I will remind the members that we will stick to that.

THE CLERK: For, 21. Against, 24.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is defeated.

The motion for the House to resolve itself into a Committee of the Whole House on Supply unto Her Majesty is carried.

[3:50 p.m. The House resolved itself into a CWH on Supply with Deputy Speaker Mr. Brooke Taylor in the Chair.]

[6:00 p.m. CWH on Supply rose and the House reconvened with Deputy Speaker Mr. Brooke Taylor in the Chair.]

MR. SPEAKER: We have reached the moment of interruption. The debate tonight was won by the honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid, and the motion is:

"Therefore be it resolved that this government reconsider its plan to chop $1.5 million from the budget of the Nova Scotia Agricultural College."

[Page 4606]

ADJOURNMENT

MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants East.

AGRIC. - NSAC: CUTS - RECONSIDER

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, I wish I could say that I am pleased to rise to speak to this resolution; I guess perhaps I could be pleased if I thought what I said would have an effect. I have to admit that I am worried, and the reason I am worried is just the direction that we have seen in the budget to date. We have just risen from the estimates for the Department of Education. We are well aware of the numbers that are being tossed between the boards and the department. The public has certainly indicated their concern for what this may mean in classrooms across this province.

With this resolution, I would like to move the debate to another level and that is at the college level and, in particular, the Nova Scotia Agricultural College. I don't think I need to table this, because it is already before the House, but I do want to read from a letter from Mr. Garth Coffin, Principal, Nova Scotia Agricultural College. He says, "We have all recognized that it is not possible to make that kind of adjustment without staff reductions." We are talking $1.5 million here. In the case of the province, we are talking $20 million - almost 10 times as much - and we are saying 400 teachers. Even if we are talking somewhere in the range of 30 teachers or professors from the Agricultural College, then that has to have a serious impact in one school.

I want to make all members aware of the benefit to the agricultural community, because of the graduates who come from the Agricultural College, I think it is probably possible but difficult to put a dollar value on how they have moved agriculture in this province over the years. I want to read - and I will table this, and when I do that I will ask the Page to photocopy it so that I could retain a copy - this is from the Nova Scotia Agricultural College, Office of Alumni & Public Relations, "In the rural communities throughout Nova Scotia you will find NSAC graduates managing and owning successful farm operations and actively involved in farm organizations. Primary agriculture is supported well by many NSAC graduates who are involved in supply and service sector as sales reps for feed, seed and fertilizer companies and farm machinery dealerships. You will find NSAC graduates in positions that use their training in science, in business, in engineering, in soil and water management, in environmental conservation and management and in food safety."

Mr. Speaker, some of those graduates:

Mr. Byron Beeler, Vice President; pharmaceutical company in Ontario;

[Page 4607]

Reme Lemoine, Regional Manager, Farm Credit Corporation;

Len Ells, Agricultural & Small Business Account Manager, CIBC, Truro;

Dr. Les Haley, currently Special Advisor Climate Change with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Ottawa. He was Principal of the Nova Scotia Agricultural College from 1989-96, and the Deputy Minister of the Nova Scotia Department of Agriculture and Marketing, 1996-98;

Hans Christian Jost, Class of 1982. Jost Vineyards owns 65 acres of vineyards in Nova Scotia and contracts about 45 acres more from growers located in various parts of the province;

Thomas Falle. A home water testing kit for coliform bacteria has been developed by Mr. Falle, a Truro resident who is President of BioScan Analytical Services. The test is a very easy one to administer. Upon purchase of the kit, a small bottle containing a chemical substance is issued along with a series of instructions. Launched earlier this year, BioScan is planning on eventually going national and even into the international markets; and

Three NSAC grads are currently working on CUSO projects around the world. Andrew Willis, Class of 1990, from Cornwall, P.E.I., is in Laos; Dave Barrett, Class of 1995, from Truro, Nova Scotia, and Rebecca Eisses, Class of 1997, from Debert, Nova Scotia, are in Thailand.

Mr. Speaker, this gives us some indication of the quality of the individuals who we are talking about and I am also looking for another note that I had to myself. This is an e-mail I received and I think a lot of members in this House received, if I look at who it was copied to, but this is from Mr. Greg Webster from Cambridge in Kings County. He says:

"For those of you who don't know me, I am Greg Webster, President of Webster Farms Ltd. in Cambridge, Kings County, Nova Scotia.

I farm with two brothers, Chris and Brian, on a mixed fruit, vegetable and grain farm. We are the third generation to farm this existing farm. We crop 400+ acres annually planted to strawberries, raspberries, rhubarb, dried beans (baking) and grain. We rent out 20 acres for onion production. We also have a seasonal mill, and freezing facilities for rhubarb and strawberries.

We are all graduates of the NSAC. I graduated from the Technical University of Nova Scotia with an Agricultural Engineering Degree in 1973, and Brian graduated from NSAC with an Agricultural Business Diploma in 1977 and Chris graduated from NSAC with an Agricultural Engineering Diploma in 1976.

[Page 4608]

We employ 15 people year round and between 35 and 200 seasonally. Our gross income is over $1,000,000 and we have not had a profit on operations in three years, due to the high costs of the drought in the Annapolis Valley. We certainly support the safety nets components of this budget, but we feel that this may be throwing good money after bad if we lose the other necessary resources in the NSDAM."

What Mr. Webster is referring to specifically is the Production Technology Branch but, Mr. Speaker, to come back to the NSAC, I think Mr. Webster and his family are a good example of what the Nova Scotia Agricultural College has done for agriculture in this province. We have three brothers in this case who are third generation on their farm and have the training to take this farm into the future. What we fear with this cut of $1.5 million is the inability of the college to still produce that quality of individual and that has an impact on the industry overall in the province.

I certainly am hoping that the government will recognize the value of the Agricultural College, will recognize that removing $1.5 million from their funding is going to have a disastrous effect, not just on the institution, but it is going to have a disastrous effect on the agricultural sector in the province. I think we have to look into the long term and what this really means in terms of the industry. We tend to think, well, if we balance the books and that is an if, the question is the necessity of doing it today or doing it in three days compared to the negative impact that that will have to get us back to where we actually are now.

So, Mr. Speaker, in closing, I want to emphasize to all members of the House that this is not in the best interest of the Agricultural College and certainly considering its reputation, but not in the best interest of agriculture in general in the province and I thank you.

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

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, to ensure some levity and a little bit of vibrancy to this debate, we will be a little more controlled on the passion that can be exuberated from these rather important debates.

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to rise and make a few comments on this most important resolution. It is certainly a resolution that affects the good Minister of Health because this particular facility, the Nova Scotia Agricultural College, is in the minister's riding. It is in his constituency and this particular resolution deals with the fact that the Minister of Agriculture and, indeed, the provincial government, is cutting some $1.5 million from the agricultural budget.

Recently, in fact last weekend, I and about five of my colleagues from Cape Breton met with the Cape Breton Federation of Agriculture. They raised a phenomenal number of concerns, Mr. Speaker, that have arisen because of the slash and burn approach that has been put forth by the Minister of Agriculture. In essence, the Minister of Agriculture, who has

[Page 4609]

stood in this House on numerous occasions and stated that agriculture is one of the cornerstones of our Nova Scotia economy, contributing literally over $1 billion to the Nova Scotia economy and employing over 12,000 people across the province, would, at the same time, slash almost $9 million out of his budget. We have gone from approximately $42 million down to $33 million. That cannot but help have a negative impact on the agricultural community in Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I think what I find most disturbing is the lengthy list, and I will table this because I think all members in the government caucus, and in particular the good Minister of Health, who would like to know what a negative impact this cut of $1.5 million will have in his particular community.

Mr. Speaker, the farmers across Nova Scotia have identified approximately 140 different programs, initiatives and cooperative activities that have taken place between the Department of Agriculture and the farming community, that will no longer be provided as a result of this particular budget. Just to identify some of them, everything from the apple cultivator evaluation program, the sustainable roadside vegetation management, research on vegetation for erosion control, training of crop scouts and advice to private crop consultants, provide nutrient management expertise for farmers, including soil fertility expertise, advise clients on sheep, deer and goat production with regard to marketing and research. It just goes on and on.

The concern that the farmers across Nova Scotia have been expressing is the fact that all this adds up to one thing, user fees. It is not only a cut in the budget, but it also will result in a user-fee program.

Now it is okay for the large farmers, if they can afford to pay for the expertise to come, whether it be for veterinary services, for livestock or what have you, that is fine, they can afford that. For a small farmer, whether it be down in Hants County, Annapolis, up in Cumberland County or, indeed, in Cape Breton, one service call could run anywhere from $600 to $1,000. For a small farm operation that would be a lot of money. These are the types of services that are being lost because of these budgetary measures.

With regard to the Agricultural College - and I will table this particular document - in a memo to staff at the Nova Scotia Agricultural College, from Garth Coffin, Principal, and it was cc'd to the deputy minister, dated April 11, 2000; what is stated quite clearly, Mr. Speaker, and I will quote from the first page, "We have all recognized that it is not possible to make that kind of an adjustment, . . ." referring to the $1.5 million cut, " . . . without staff reductions." So here we have, Mr. Speaker, some of the top brass at the Nova Scotia Agricultural College saying that this budgetary measure will have a negative impact. We all know how important it is to sustain the agricultural education component within our economy here in Nova Scotia. The modern advances in science and technology, particularly bio-technology require - it is an absolute must for many of our large commercial operations - that

[Page 4610]

these farmers have the best education possible. They can't compete like it was back in the 1970's or 1960's or so on. So, I believe the government is remiss in realizing the importance of the Agricultural College by making this slash and burn approach in its budgetary measures.

[6:15 p.m.]

Further, Mr. Speaker, the farming community has also identified the fact that they work very closely with the Agricultural College, particularly in ensuring that we have a sufficient number of individuals who enter into this facility from different regions across the province to ensure we have that high level of expertise at the local level. Unfortunately, like within the Department of Education, what is happening is that some of our youngest and brightest minds will be forced to look elsewhere.

This entire issue, Mr. Speaker, about privatizing some of these agricultural services - some 138 to be exact, I believe, is my count on the document - will have a negative catastrophic effect. Any which way you look at it, I can't see how the Minister of Agriculture can stand and say that we can maintain the same level of service and educational standards and opportunity that is provided to the agricultural community with this type of budgetary cut. It is a major cut. It is a major slice into their budget. To have the principal at the Agricultural College make that type of plea to the provincial government, and I understand it is perhaps a little more extensive than has ever been made before, and I realize we do have budgetary realities. I believe the Minister of Education would certainly and readily agree that I have provided some examples of where we could make some financial adjustment to save money, and likewise in the agricultural community.

I have to emphasize, this is very fragile for many farmers. The profit margin is very minimal. They are dealing with many of the effects of NAFTA that have put us in a disadvantageous position because of the commercial operations; for example large hog operations down through the United States or henneries or things like that. The farmers of Nova Scotia cannot compete with that, and to have another hit like this at this particular point in time. I know my time is coming short, but I do know, and I would emphasize that in all likelihood, next to the Minister of Education, I would suggest that the Minister of Agriculture may want to get himself a nice padded seat over there, because he is going to be in debates here for quite some time. When you have close to 140 different facets of the agricultural community that have been negatively affected, the number of user fees is absolutely too burdensome. I thank you, Mr. Speaker, for the opportunity to speak on this resolution.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings West.

MR. JON CAREY: Mr. Speaker, it is a privilege to speak on agriculture, and, although in these tough times when we do have to make important decisions where there has to be cuts in all aspects of our budget, I think agriculture in some areas and in particular, the Agricultural College has fared reasonably well. I was glad to see that my honourable member

[Page 4611]

from the Liberal caucus has a larger bark than he has bite. It is very good he was not passionate tonight.

I think we need to set the record straight from the first that the $1.5 million they are talking about is a questionable number because the Agricultural College has traditionally received $5 million funding. This past year, we are still giving them $5 million and the fact of the matter is, I think, although the Minister of Agriculture certainly can explain things better than I and has a better handle on it, I am led to believe and I believe it is accurate, that the college ran a deficit the previous year of $1 million. Therefore, like any business or organization, you have to balance your budget and in doing so they have had to come up with this $1 million. In reality, I think you will find the estimated funding from the department to the college in 2000-01 is down $130,000 from the previous year, if you take their deficit out. That is really what we have done. None of us want cuts, but these are difficult times - and we are looking in all areas - I expect there was consultation with the Agricultural College. Also, it should be noted that the college received funding from the Nova Scotia Council on Higher Education and that was up by $300,000 this year from last year. I think that is a fact that needs to be put in.

I think in the paper, the Saturday after Good Friday, the principal of the college indicated that in fact this $1 million difference was there and although not a pleasant thing, had to be dealt with. I also understand that not only the Nova Scotia Council on Higher Education but they also have revenue from several areas which is ongoing every year and we know there is tuition and residencies. The college has been very aggressive in working with the private sector and I think as we look through this year's information on the industries getting involved with research with the government and with the college, we will see a tremendous amount of partnering. Also, the federal grants are available to the Agricultural College. I certainly don't wish to see the Agricultural College have any money taken away from them. My son has been there three years and so I hold the college in high regard, certainly I understand the programs to some degree that they are offering and what a tremendous facility it is.

I think we have to keep in mind that these numbers have to be kept as close as we can and unless I have been given wrong information, the deficit was there. The college has an administration that is separate from the various departments. There is a principal who is responsible for operating a college administration even though the college is a division of the department.

Again, I think there have to be, in meeting their challenges, they have to do some administrative reduction and probably some staff reduction and as I said, this is never a pleasant thing when that has to take place. With our situation in the province, everybody has to share in some way. The Nova Scotia Agricultural College has developed innovative funding arrangements involving three-way partnerships with Nova Scotia agriculture, the government and industry to fund research professors and research infrastructure. We are

[Page 4612]

seeing new programs being offered in the Agricultural College this year. It was announced in March 2000, that the industry and government have partnered to establish a new five year program in research on poultry, a very important industry in Nova Scotia, it brings in millions of dollars. Certainly nobody would think that a five year program to help do research and develop that industry would not be a major accomplishment and also I understand they are going to research the effects of stress on poultry and quality meat.

Also, in March 2000, another growing industry, the link between the cutting edge research and future economic growth were reinforced today with the announcement of four new research projects at the Agricultural College. The province and the federal government are investing more than $1 million to support four projects. They will look at mink farming, the blueberry industry, plant psychology and pastures. So even having to deal with some reduction here and there, they obviously are going ahead with offering a wonderful program at the Agricultural College. That college has people from all over the world coming to it. It is well known as a research area. They get tremendous support from around the world and tuition fees come from all areas into this college.

Another area where they are doing a lot of work, and it is specifically interesting to me because in the Valley, there are a lot of vegetable growers, they are doing a carrot processing research development at the university. The carrot industry in Nova Scotia has a value in excess of $10 million. People don't think of that kind of money when we think carrots in Nova Scotia. Even more than that in Nova Scotia, and from my area, the potato industry, even more dollars; 40 percent of the gross income from Nova Scotia farming comes out of the Kings County area. So those are all areas where there are positives coming there. Things are not all going backwards with what is going on in this province.

The Production Technology Branch that was mentioned, the loss of those specialists. I understand that the privatization aspect was considered and I expect in Estimates that it will be discussed. There is no doubt that when people lose their jobs it is not a good thing. However, there are areas where we are still being very active. These people are not being lost to the farmers. The government is giving money for farmers to hire these people, either through a consulting firm or however it turns out. I don't think it has played out yet and it would be premature to see how it is going to really come down.

I would like to think that when all is said and done, that people will be able to have the experts they need and there will be a balance. Sometimes when changes are made you have to take some fine-tuning and that is what I hope will come about in this process.

Just quickly, I want to say that the government has been responsive; the 4-H, for example, in the Province of Nova Scotia was not cut because people didn't want to see that. They saw the value of it. We are still giving $1 million to the veterinarians. We are doing a good program in many areas. The School Milk Program was not taken away. Even with all these things, we are hearing doom and gloom. I think we are still doing some good things and

[Page 4613]

hopefully, with cooperation from all Parties involved, we can come up with a program to cut our costs, maximize our value and get the best bang for our buck. I thank you for this opportunity.

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you. The time for the late debate has expired.

[6:30 p.m. The House resolved itself into a CWH on Supply with Deputy Speaker Mr. Wayne Gaudet in the Chair.]

[7:55 p.m. CWH on Supply rose and the House reconvened with Deputy Speaker Mr. Brooke Taylor in the Chair.]

MR. SPEAKER: The Chairman of the Committee of the Whole House on Supply reports:

THE CLERK: That the committee has met and made some progress in considering Supply and asks leave to sit again.

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I wonder if I could ask that the House recess for two minutes, to wait until the other committee has finished and the members return to the Chamber? They are on their way but if we could just have two minutes until they are here. I understand the honourable member for Preston wishes to make a correction to something he said today with regard to an introduction.

MR. SPEAKER: There has been a request to recess for two minutes.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

[7:56 p.m. The House recessed.]

[7:58 p.m. The House reconvened.]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

The honourable member for Preston.

[Page 4614]

MR. DAVID HENDSBEE: Mr. Speaker, I would like to rise and make a correction on someone I introduced during the Committee of the Whole House on Supply. I want to make sure I had the correction in Hansard, it would be cavalier of me not to do this.

In the Speaker's Gallery we have Mr. Don Buck, Principal of Auburn Drive High School, as well as Jeanette Johnson, President of Student Council, and Jon Dean, Vice-President of Student Council at Auburn Drive High School in Cole Harbour. I would like to thank you very much and I want to be sure that the long talons of the eagles don't sink into me. Thank you. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The correction is recorded.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, tomorrow the House will convene at 9:00 a.m. and will sit until 5:00 p.m. The order of business will be the daily routine, followed by estimates and that will continue for four hours. We will then proceed with the Financial Measures (2000) Bill for second reading.

MR. JOHN HOLM: What will Monday's hours be?

MR. RUSSELL: Monday's hours will be from 12:00 p.m. until 10:00 p.m. If we have sufficient time after we finish with the Financial Measures (2000) Bill tomorrow, we will continue into the Committee of the Whole House on Bills.

Mr. Speaker, I move that the House do now rise.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is to adjourn.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

[The House rose at 7:59 p.m.]