Assemblée Législative de la Nouvelle-Écosse

Les travaux de la Chambre ont repris le
21 septembre 2017

Hansard -- Thur., Mar. 30, 2000

First Session

THURSDAY, MARCH 30, 2000

TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE
PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS:
Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Cobequid Shore: Route 215 - Repave,
Mr. John MacDonell 2904
STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS:
Human Res. - Gov't. Bus. Plan (The Course Ahead [2000-01]),^
The Premier 2904
GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 900, Educ. - The Talon 2 (Student Writing Mag.): Production -
Recognize, Hon. J. Purves 2912
Vote - Affirmative 2913
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS:
No. 38, Cape Breton Regional Municipality Plebiscite Act,
Mr. B. Boudreau 2913
NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 901, Fin. (Can.) - Tax Relief (Fuel): Refusal (N.S.) - Apologize
(Premier), Mr. J. Holm 2913
Res. 902, Human Res. - Gov't. Bus. Plan: C.B. Unemployment -
Ineffectiveness Condemn, Mr. Manning MacDonald 2914
Res. 903, Commun. Serv. - Stellarton: Volunteers - Recognize,
The Premier 2915
Vote - Affirmative 2915
Res. 904, Justice - Murder-Suicide (Truro [28/02/00]): Inquiry -
Appoint, Ms. E. O'Connell 2915
Res. 905, Priorities & Planning - Gov't. Bus. Plan: Name Change -
Condemn, Mr. D. Downe 2916
Res. 906, Lib. (N.S.) Party - AGM: Support (N.S.) - Urge, Mr. T. Olive 2917
Res. 907, Econ. Dev. - Business Failures: Funding Future -
Vigilance Exercise, Mr. F. Corbett 2917
Res. 908, Health - Seniors: Medication - Assistance, Dr. J. Smith 2918
Res. 909, Agric. - Atl. Can. Outstanding Young Farmers Prog.:
Mr. L. & Mrs. M. Weatherby (Harmony) - Congrats., Mr. B. Taylor 2919
Vote - Affirmative 2919
Res. 910, Col.-Musquodoboit Valley MLA - Seniors Fishing
Licence Fees: View Change - Admit, Mr. D. Dexter 2920
Res. 911, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Englishtown Ferry: Resumption -
Ensure, Mr. K. MacAskill 2920
Vote - Affirmative 2921
Res. 912, Justice - Kentville Police: Drug Charges - Applaud,
Mr. M. Parent 2921
Vote - Affirmative 2921
Res. 913, Educ. - RCL Call to Remembrance 2000 Comp. Reg. JHS
Winners: Eastern Passage Educ. Ctr. - Congrats., Mr. K. Deveaux 2922
Vote - Affirmative 2922
Res. 914, Peter MacKay (MP [PC]) - Telile (Rich. Co.): Attack -
Condemn, Mr. M. Samson 2922
Res. 915, Fish. - Seniors: Licences Reduction - Benefits Recognize,
Mr. B. Taylor 2923
Res. 916, Col. Musquodoboit Valley MLA: Stand (Fish.-Seniors:
Licences-Free) - Continue, Mr. J. Pye 2924
Res. 917, Educ. - School Bds.: Funding Comment - Apologize,
Mr. W. Gaudet 2924
Res. 918, Sports - Basketball (N.S. BHS "AA" Champs.):
West Hants DHS Wolverines - Commend, Mr. J. Carey 2925
Vote - Affirmative 2925
Res. 919, Educ. - John A. Macdonald HS: Al Reyner (Vice Principal) -
Retirement Congrats., Mr. W. Estabrooks 2926
Vote - Affirmative 2926
Res. 920, Tourism - Pictou Co. Tourist Assoc.: Cruises - Encourage,
Mrs. M. Baillie 2926
Vote - Affirmative 2927
Res. 921, Agric. - Atl. Can. Outstanding Young Farmer Prog.: Award
Winners (Mr. L. & Mrs. M. Weatherby [Truro] & Mr. C. & Mrs. K.
Brown [Bridgewater] - Congrats., Mr. John MacDonell 2927
Vote - Affirmative 2928
Res. 922, Annie Hardy - Anna. Co.: Birthday 108th - Congrats.,
Mr. F. Chipman 2928
Vote - Affirmative 2929
Res. 923, Commun. Serv. - Child Poverty (17/08/99 on): Deficit -
Address, Mr. J. Pye 2929
Res. 924, Agric.: Commitment - Acknowledge, Mr. D. Morse 2929
Res. 925, Econ. Dev. - YES Prog.: Honorees - Commend,
Ms. E. O'Connell 2930
Vote - Affirmative 2931
Res. 926, Agric. - Welsford (Pictou Co.) Storm Damage (17/03/00):
Mr. Kenny Grant - Assistance Applaud, Mrs. M. Baillie 2931
Vote - Affirmative 2932
Res. 927, Health - Care: Privatization - Reject, Mr. D. Dexter 2932
Res. 928, Culture - Liverpool Internat. Theatre Festival: Organizers -
Applaud, Mr. K. Morash 2932
Vote - Affirmative 2933
Res. 929, Sports - Hockey (TASA Minor Assoc.): Ice Surface
Requirement - Initiators Congrats., Mr. W. Estabrooks 2933
Vote - Affirmative 2934
Res. 930, Middleton Fire Dept.: Anniv. 110th - Congrats.,
Mr. F. Chipman 2934
Vote - Affirmative 2934
Res. 931, Sports - Ringette (N.S. Champs.): Valley Teams (2) -
Success Congrats., Mr. J. Carey 2935
Vote - Affirmative 2935
Res. 932, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Child Care Seat Safety:
Snap, Buckle, Drive Prog. (Ms. Glenna Rogers [Wolfville]) -
Commend, Mr. D. Morse 2935
Vote - Affirmative 2936
ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS:
No. 354, Human Res. - Pub. Serv.: Dep. Mins. - Dual Positions,
Mr. Robert Chisholm 2936
No. 355, Human Res. - Pub. Servants: Vision - Place,
Mr. R. MacLellan 2938
No. 356, Human Res. - Gov't. Bus. Plan, Mr. Robert Chisholm 2939
No. 357, Human Res. - Civil Serv.: Lay-Offs - Compensation,
Mr. R. MacLellan 2940
No. 358, Human Res. - Public Sector: Plan - Table,
Mr. Robert Chisholm 2941
No. 359, Aboriginal Affs. - Dept.: Cancellation - Explain,
Mr. D. Downe 2942
No. 360, Human Res. - Gov't. Bus. Plan, Mr. J. Holm 2944
No. 361, Human Res. - Gov't. Bus. Plan, Mr. D. Downe 2945
No. 362, Agric.: Dept. - Amalgamation, Mr. John MacDonell 2945
No. 363, Econ. Dev.: E-Commerce Jobs - Commencement,
Mr. R. MacLellan 2946
No. 364, Human Res. - Gov't. Bus. Plan: C.B. - Exclusion,
Mr. F. Corbett 2947
No. 365, Econ. Dev.: Connections N.S. - Elimination,
Mr. Manning MacDonald 2948
No. 366, Human Res. - Gov't. Bus. Plan: Dep. Mins. - Excess,
Mr. J. Holm 2950
No. 367, Educ.: Budget (2000-01) - Unchanged, Mr. W. Gaudet 2951
No. 368, Health - Pharmacare Program: Seniors - Consultation,
Mr. J. Pye 2952
No. 369, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Marine Atl.: Jobs (N.S.) -
Training Progs., Mr. B. Boudreau 2953
No. 370, Commun. Serv.: Heating Oil Rebate Prog. - Access,
Mr. K. Deveaux 2954
GOVERNMENT BUSINESS:
PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING:
No. 28, Motor Vehicle Act 2956
Mr. B. Taylor 2957
Mr. H. Epstein 2959
Mr. R. MacKinnon 2963
Mr. T. Olive 2965
Ms. Maureen MacDonald 2968
Mr. R. MacLellan 2971
Mr. D. Dexter 2974
Mr. John MacDonell 2976
Mr. B. Barnet 2977
Ms. E. O'Connell 2978
Mr. B. Boudreau 2979
Adjourned debate 2979
ADJOURNMENT:
MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5):
Commun. Serv. - Child Poverty (17/08/99 on): Deficit - Address:
Mr. K. Deveaux 2980
Hon. P. Christie 2983
Mr. R. MacKinnon 2986
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Fri., Mar. 31st at 10:00 a.m. 2989

[Page 2903]

HALIFAX, THURSDAY, MARCH 30, 2000

Fifty-eighth General Assembly

First Session

2:00 P.M.

SPEAKER

Hon. Murray Scott

DEPUTY SPEAKERS

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

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The winner for the late debate this evening was submitted by the honourable member for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour:

Therefore be it resolved that this Tory Government start waking up to the health, education and social deficits faced by the 1,342 children born in poverty under this Tory Regime.

That is to be debated this evening at 6:00 p.m.

We will begin the daily routine.

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants East.

2903

[Page 2904]

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition. The operative clause is, "We the residents living on and near Route 215, and regular users of this disgraceful, dangerous, pothole-filled highway, do hereby petition the Minister of Transportation and Public Works to immediately place Route 215, which is not only a vital roadway for the residents of the Cobequid Shore, but through its designation as the Glooscap Trail is also an internationally promoted scenic tour for tourists . . . The Government must be aware that Maitland is a registered Heritage town (village) and Burntcoat Head Park is the site of the world's highest tides."

There are 19 signatures on this petition, Mr. Speaker, and I have affixed my signature as well. I know the Minister of Transportation and Public Works is well aware of this area.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Premier.

HON. JOHN HAMM (The Premier): Mr. Speaker, the year ahead will be a time of transition for the Government of Nova Scotia. Last July, Nova Scotians voted for change. Nova Scotians understood then, as they do today, that fundamental changes are needed to bring a new sense of direction and purpose to government.

As a new government, we resisted the temptation and advice to make sweeping changes quickly. We chose, instead, to pursue the prudent and responsible course. We embarked on broad consultation and a rather exhaustive internal process. Now we are ready to act.

At the outset, let me make one point clear. The Province of Nova Scotia is fortunate. We have a dedicated, professional Civil Service who, in recent years, have managed to keep the government going against pretty steep odds. They have fewer resources to work with, but ever more demands. They work in a government designed decades ago to meet the needs of the day with the tools of the time. Both the needs and the tools have changed dramatically. But most important government has, over time, grown beyond its capacity to serve. Over time, and in response to a variety of demands, the Government of Nova Scotia has tried to become all things to all people. In the process, it lost sight of its purpose, lost focus and direction.

[Page 2905]

When we talk of change, we are talking about nothing less than a redefinition of the role of government. We are talking about a government which focuses on the priorities of the people. That requires a change in direction away from intrusive government that tries - and too often fails - to respond to every demand, to a government that recognizes its place and purpose.

Today I am tabling a document that charts the new course for the Government of Nova Scotia. It includes an organizational plan to significantly reshape the provincial government. The current complement of departments, directorates, and secretariats, 21 in total, is reduced to 14.

The purpose of this, the most significant reorganization in decades, is twofold. First, to reduce overlap and improve overall service delivery, we are grouping together common functions, such as asset management, loan management and regulatory responsibilities. Second, to bring down the barriers between departments, so-called silos that too often inhibit coordination of government efforts, we are reducing the total number of departments.

In keeping with the recommendation of the Fiscal Management Task Force, we are expanding and strengthening the centre of government, and adding to it a Treasury Board function that has been sorely missed for too long. Treasury Board will ensure every department of government meets a higher standard of accountability for the tax dollars it spends. Treasury and Policy Board, which replaces the old Priorities & Planning Secretariat, will integrate critical human resource and information technology planning, fiscal controls, and policy development under one roof.

Implementation of government-wide structural changes will be phased and managed. As in our planning, we will be prudent and responsible in our implementation. It will take up to one year to complete all elements of this reorganization. The core services of government will not suffer during this internal realignment.

The Government of Nova Scotia is in dire need of this kind of change. As essential as it is however, the restructuring itself will not solve the problems that beset us. The change in direction I spoke of a moment ago is far more vital. Before we head out in any direction, we must know our destination. I think it was Yogi Berra who said, if you don't know where you are going, you are not going to get there.

Our destination, our goal, is a province that offers every Nova Scotian the opportunity to make the most of his or her life right here in Nova Scotia. Government's role is not to guarantee success, but to provide the tools for success.

[Page 2906]

Our government will focus its energy, attention and resources on key areas that advance that goal. They are: education and life-long learning; access to quality health care; an environment that fosters economic growth; and for those who are dependent on government, help, to become self-reliant.

Education for our children, life-long learning opportunities for adults, these are the most critical tools for success. Our commitment to education has been reflected in our budget decisions. The total financial envelope for education will not be reduced this year, or in any year during the term of this government. On the contrary, as provincial finances recover, we expect that it will increase. But, as in every case of public endeavour, we need to focus less on dollars spent and more on results achieved. To that end, we will call on the vast pool of expertise and unlimited common sense of Nova Scotians, to develop a strategy that will maximize positive results from the resources we devote to education and training.

No area of provincial interest holds greater challenges than health care. Health care spending has increased by almost 40 per cent in Nova Scotia in just over four years. Yet, Nova Scotians have detected no noticeable improvement in service. We must ensure a greater share of our health care investment finds its way to front-line caregivers. We must work with our provincial counterparts to convince Ottawa that Canada's health care system is worth a renewed commitment.

[2:15 p.m.]

On the economic front, this government is determined to get out of the way of legitimate businesses and let them do business. We want to make it easier to grow business and to create jobs in Nova Scotia. Our primary economic responsibility is to provide the platform, the economic infrastructure. In rural Nova Scotia that means better roads. In government, we have realigned economic mandates in order to create efficiencies that benefit both the taxpayers and government's business clients.

Government must always provide a social safety net for those who for any number of reasons are shut out of opportunities, but that safety net need not become a permanent support for so many. With help, many Nova Scotians who are dependent on government could find their way to self-reliance. Providing that help is an objective of this government.

Nova Scotians rightly expect their government to be consistent and principled in its approach. Nova Scotians expect an acceptable quality of service. They expect fairness, value for money, and accountability. Those four principles guide our government.

Service Nova Scotia, a new department created from the current Business and Consumer Services and Municipal Affairs Departments will host many of the day-to-day services Nova Scotians need from government. The merger will offer opportunities for the

[Page 2907]

province to partner with local governments for additional service benefits to Nova Scotians. Service Nova Scotia's new mandate includes a presence in every county in the province.

Our government intends to ensure every Nova Scotian, regardless of where he or she lives, has reasonable access to government services. Technology has largely eliminated distance as an excuse for poor service. Likewise, technology has eliminated government's excuse for concentrating its offices in one location. We will be true to our pledge to be fair to regions by spreading government activity and the economic benefits that accompany it across the province.

Decentralized government also makes good financial sense, and value for money is an essential principle for this government. Providing the taxpayers with good value for their tax dollars also demands that governments explore alternate less costly methods of service delivery. That process is well under way. So too is our assessment of a variety of government-operated businesses to determine whether their future lies in the public or the private sector, or perhaps in a hybrid of the two.

Accountability is a word governments like to use, but putting the concept into action has been elusive. Yesterday we introduced legislation that brings a new standard of accountability to our health delivery system. We will be expanding the approach into other areas of provincial responsibility, and to the provincial government itself, where senior officials will be accountable not only for the dollars and cents but for the service mandate of their departments and agencies.

Today we set a clear new direction for government - a reshaped government designed for changing realities. We are focused on identified objectives and guided by simple principles. Nova Scotia's best days are just over the horizon. To get there, we need a government with a sense of direction and purpose. Thank you. (Extended applause)

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

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I don't quite know how to respond, initially, to what the Premier and his government have said here today. Things come to mind: been there, done that; same old, same old; the road to the future goes in a circle. I listened to the Premier when he was answering questions in the Red Room about his statement and I guess what struck me the most is the lack of detail. When people asked, so what does this mean to the Public Service, the Premier said he did not know. When people asked how many people are going to lose jobs, the Premier said he did not know. When people asked, when you talk about ways to help those on social assistance become more self-reliant does that mean workfare? Does that mean that the programs to help will be voluntary or compulsory? The Premier could not answer that. When asked what will this cost, the Premier said he did not know.

[Page 2908]

Mr. Speaker, putting my first response to this statement is that this Premier and his government are being irresponsible. In fact, I would go so far as to say they were being cowardly, they are being weak, much like the Liberals did in 1994-95, they have laid out a plan of where they want to go, but they don't have a clue about how to get there, or if they do have a clue they don't have the guts to tell Nova Scotians what is going to happen along the way. They don't have the guts to tell the Civil Service, who have been told now, surreptitiously, over the past number of weeks that big cuts are coming. That 500, 1,000, 1,500 public servants are going to lose their jobs with this government's new plan. I don't know what is going to happen. Maybe the Premier doesn't want to be seen to be the one to deliver the bad news. Someone else is going to do it for him. Someone else, maybe through the back door, maybe some of their back-room people, some of the people behind closed doors are on the phones as we speak. So the Premier can stand up and he can say, I didn't tell these people that they were going to lose their jobs, wasn't me, I am the nice guy.

Mr. Speaker, what Nova Scotians are beginning to realize is that this nice guy doesn't have the courage to tell the straight story and that is my biggest concern over this. Government doesn't have the courage to tell people, who is going to lose their jobs, how many are going to lose their jobs, he doesn't have the courage to tell people the truth. People who depend on the services that are going to change, doesn't have the courage to tell those people exactly what is going to happen and that is unfortunate. Why is this government continuing the fan dance? At some point you have got to stop participating in all kinds of rhetorical statements, you have to put some reality to it. You have to fill in the details. You did OK with that idea during the election campaign but at some point you are going to have to tell Nova Scotians just exactly what you are doing. Or at some point you are going to have to figure out what it is that you are doing. Because Nova Scotians right now don't know which it is and that is wrong, that is wrong.

All kinds of things in this document. People asked me after the statement, what does this mean, what does that mean? What am I supposed to say? I don't know. The Premier doesn't know, and he delivered the statement. What am I supposed to say? That is the problem when you are involved in vague generalities. No one knows for sure, so you are skirting around in the shadows. That is where it is really starting to shake down; that is where Nova Scotians are going to find out exactly what is happening, Mr. Speaker.

Let me just take a few examples, if I may. If you look, they are bringing back Management Board. Back in 1991, the then Premier, Don Cameron, scaled down Management Board because he said it was a time for a fundamental change in the way our government is managed. He changed other departments and jigged things around. It cost about 500 jobs, but he said real reform in the actual structures of government, reform that results in a reduction of the actual costs of government, eliminates waste and duplication of services.

[Page 2909]

Let us move ahead a bit. In the ensuing years of 1992 and 1993, you heard a lot of the same stuff from Mr. Cameron and then from Premier John Savage. Speaking of the Management Board, let us jump ahead to November 1993 where they established Priorities and Planning to replace the former Policy Board and Management Board. To do what? To simplify government and eliminate duplication. On and on it goes. In 1994, legislation was enacted to eliminate the Department of Tourism and Culture. Departments continue to be jammed together. In 1997, the Leader of the Liberal Party, then Premier, said government has to get off the back and out of the face of business.

Mr. Speaker, we have been there, we have done that. The big plans did not work, did not make any difference; in fact services to Nova Scotians not only deteriorated, but morale, as well as the numbers, of public servants deteriorated as a result. Why should we expect anything different when this Premier stands in the Red Room down the way and makes the broad pronouncements, look at the pretty picture, the charts I have here, we are going from here to there, and people asked him how is that going to happen, and the Premier says I don't know, I will have to wait and see? Is it because - and this is the big question - is it because this Premier and this government are too weak-kneed to be able to say it, tell Nova Scotians what is really going to happen, or do they just simply not know? That is the problem.

Mr. Speaker, there are other issues in here that we are going to have to talk about in more detail. Hopefully we are going to be able to find some details. What does it mean when they say they are going to partner with municipalities? Does it mean they are going to download? What does it mean when they talk about alternative service delivery? Does it mean contracting out or privatization, giving off some government activities to some of their buddies? Exactly what does it mean?

I am embarrassed as a member of this Legislature to have participated in this hoax with Nova Scotians. The government, to put all this fanfare and this big announcement, to stand in the Red Chamber and tell Nova Scotians this is what is going to happen, but not have the guts to tell them what is going to happen in the meantime is unfair, and I do not think Nova Scotians deserve to be treated that way. That's not what they voted for in the last election, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. RUSSELL MACLELLAN: Mr. Speaker, I have had the dubious pleasure of reading this incredible document, and I still cannot believe that this would be the product of a government of this province. The Premier said during his presentation that the average Nova Scotian is a very proud person. I can only imagine how that very proud person is now going to feel, having Nova Scotia as a satellite of Ontario and New Brunswick. (Applause)

[Page 2910]

[2:30 p.m.]

AN HON. MEMBER: The Harris-Lord approach; the Harris-Lord agenda.

MR. MACLELLAN: Every idea has either been in the indigestion or the budgets of Mike Harris or Premier Lord in New Brunswick. The Premier talks about, "Over time, and in response to a variety of demands, the government . . . has tried to become all things to all people.", and " . . . lost sight of its purpose."

Mr. Speaker, that is not possible. That is the same Premier who gave platitudes to the civil servants saying how great they were. Now he is saying that they are not doing their job, that they are not capable of focusing. With the number of them that were left before these cuts, how in the name of heavens could they not focus. There isn't enough of them, and there won't be enough of them to be all things to all people. He says that the government " . . . too often fails - to respond to every demand . . .", and that is what government should be, that a government should recognize its place and purpose.

Well, we know what the Premier thinks is the government's place and purpose, that is to succumb to vested interests in this province and to the back-room whims of Tories who are calling the shots, and who have probably had a very high input into this document. He talks about bringing, " . . . down the barriers between departments - so-called silos that too often inhibit coordination of government efforts . . ." To do that he is, " . . . reducing the total number of departments." This is the same Premier and the same government that has practically scuttled the CAYAC initiative, where we wanted to have Education, Community Services, Health and Justice work together to help our young people through their difficult years; low income families who need the support of their government. Government was working together, government cannot work together under this incredibly bad document. (Applause)

He talks about Treasury Board and Policy Board, Treasury and Policy Board it is called, to reduce Priorities and Planning. We, " . . . will integrate the critical human resource and IT planning, fiscal controls . . ." That is what he says it is going to do. What it is really going to do is to bottleneck all of the spending of the Nova Scotia Government in one place with a few people, a great way for back-room Tories to once again go back to their old style of calling the shots in this province. We also note too, very conveniently, that we will integrate the critical Human Resource Department into this Treasury Board. What a great way to pick the people you want to put in the proper positions that you think they should be in government. How convenient. It is just so sweet. Just so sweet. You can see members on the government side smiling and salivating at the prospect of getting back to real old-style patronage. (Interruptions)

[Page 2911]

It says the, " . . . goal - is a province that offers every Nova Scotian the opportunity to make the most of his or and her life, right here in Nova Scotia." How are they going to do that? They have said they are not going to reduce the Education budget but they are not saying they are going to increase it either. They say they might, over time. But with inflation, with the demands that we hear already from the school boards and parent groups, there is already a shortfall in Education spending. This is not going to be dealt with. This Premier cannot possibly give the future to young Nova Scotians that he says he wants to give if he is not prepared to train them, to have some agency and officers there to help them during the difficult years, when we can keep them from being children at risk. He also, obviously, has thrown away his campaign platform to improve the community college system. He says, "To that end, we will call on the vast pool of expertise . . . of Nova Scotians . . ."

Well, Mr. Speaker, Nova Scotians are paying taxes so that this government can formulate policy, presumably policy that is in their interest. This government isn't formulating policy in their interest, he is turning it back to Nova Scotians; pay the taxes and you also tell us what you want us to do. This is what government is going to be. It is not going to be government by the government it is going to be government by vested interests.

He says that he wants, " . . . to make it easier to grow business and to create jobs in Nova Scotia." Mr. Speaker, this is the same government that just cancelled Connections Nova Scotia; the same government nullifying four call centres that could be placed in very important parts of this province and yet they are talking about growing the economy of Nova Scotia. What hypocrisy.

He says, "With help, many Nova Scotians who are dependent on government could find their way to self-reliance." There is no way, there is no avenue, the people in Nova Scotia are going to be helped to find their way to self-reliance because this government isn't providing anything for them to do that. If they are going to find their way to self-reliance, they are going to do it through their families and through their own initiatives and through their friends and volunteer agencies. This government has just told people of Nova Scotia, you bailed out, we bailed out of helping the people in need, they don't count. That is what Mike Harris has done. So just like what Mike Harris has done, this government is doing. Write-off 30 per cent of the population, say, we will get re-elected by concentrating on 70 per cent, the heck with the other 30 per cent. They don't matter, let the other Parties cater to their whims, let the other Parties try to get their support, we are not going to be bothered with them. That's what this document is saying.

Mr. Speaker, Service Nova Scotia, Business and Consumer Services and Municipal Affairs will be in that department. Municipal Affairs is going to be minimized to the greatest possible extent that this government can do it. It is bad enough that they are going to be downloading on Municipal Affairs. It is bad enough that they have completely ignored where municipal governments have to go and where they have to be at this time, they are now

[Page 2912]

saying, we are going to put them in a corner and we are going to try to keep them out of our way. We are just going to take what money we can from them.

Mr. Speaker, decentralized government, well, that is going to be interesting. What is there left to decentralize after this government is going to be finished with these cuts. What is this government going to say to the regions of this province that are going to come forward to say, we want a government agency, we want a government department, you said you were going to be decentralizing. What are you going to tell them? What is going to be the answer of this government? Is there decentralization as we have come to expect decentralization to mean or is there not? This government has just opened up a major question that they are going to have to answer to various parts of this province who are eagerly looking for jobs in their region.

It is interesting and very prophetic that the Premier ends his presentation with the words, "Nova Scotia's best days are just over the horizon." Then he goes on to say something really remarkable and I would say I think that I can identify with it, he says, "To get there, we need a government with a sense of direction and purpose . . ." I know Nova Scotians all over this great province join me in saying, don't we wish we had one. (Applause)

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Education.

RESOLUTION NO. 900

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

Whereas the first edition of the student writing magazine The Talon 2 was officially launched with great fanfare on March 10th at the Dartmouth Chapters bookstore; and

Whereas the quality of the writing is exemplified by a moving short story by 17 year old Duncan MacMillan High School Student Matthew Walsh, a story that has been selected by the Family Violence Prevention Initiative to be a resource in its future campaigns; and

Whereas this powerful story about mental and physical abuse has been praised for its shocking realism and stunning insight;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House recognize The Talon 2's writers, editors and teacher support for producing a quality magazine and for raising the voice of teen writers in Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver.

[Page 2913]

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.

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

Bill No. 38 - Entitled an Act to Enable Residents of the Cape Breton Regional Municipality to Require the Municipality to Hold a Plebiscite on Any Question. (Mr. Brian Boudreau)

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

NOTICES OF MOTION

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

RESOLUTION NO. 901

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

Whereas as a result of high record prices, the Hamm Government has been enjoying windfall revenues from taxes on home heating fuel, diesel fuel and gasoline; and

Whereas federal Finance Minister Paul Martin yesterday offered to reduce federal fuel taxes if the provinces do the same; and

Whereas Nova Scotia's Premier John Hamm immediately and flatly refused the federal offer to provide some much-needed relief to Nova Scotians hit by high fuel prices;

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier apologize to all Nova Scotians on whose behalf he has again refused federal tax relief.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

[Page 2914]

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 on an introduction.

MR. RUSSELL MACLELLAN: Mr. Speaker, I want at this time to introduce in your gallery Councillor Ron Burroughs of the Cape Breton Regional Municipality. Councillor Burroughs was a Councillor in the Town of Glace Bay and is now a Councillor in the Cape Breton Regional Municipality and has been in the position of a councillor for those two jurisdictions together for over 25 years. He has served with great distinction and great dedication. It gives me a great deal of pleasure to introduce Councillor Burroughs to this Assembly today. (Applause)

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

RESOLUTION NO. 902

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 Premier has announced today he will decentralize government services; and

Whereas Cape Bretoners would applaud such an action if there was any government left to decentralize; and

Whereas it is clear that the announced reorganization of departments like Environment and Labour will mean fewer jobs in Cape Breton, not more;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House condemn the government for its hollow commitment to decentralize government services throughout Nova Scotia as it hacks and slashes existing jobs in areas of high unemployment.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable Premier.

[Page 2915]

RESOLUTION NO. 903

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

Whereas the Town of Stellarton will be formally recognized at a provincial award's luncheon on April 7th as Model Volunteer Community of the year in Nova Scotia; and

Whereas volunteers are the life blood for communities from one end of Nova Scotia to the other; and

Whereas the community of Stellarton was recognized for the year 2000 because of significant efforts undertaken in 1999 that included the hosting of the Canadian Midget Girls Softball Championship, the Annual Homecoming Festival and the Re-opening of the Stellarton Youth Centre;

Therefore be it resolved that all MLAs in this House of Assembly recognize the dedication put forward by volunteers in the Town of Stellarton and wish them every success with future volunteer initiatives.

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 Halifax Fairview.

RESOLUTION NO. 904

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 February 28th, another woman in Nova Scotia lost her life in a domestic dispute in Truro; and

[Page 2916]

[2:45 p.m.]

Whereas she lost her life just three days after she applied for a peace bond seeking protection from her common-law husband; and

Whereas Nova Scotia's Advisory Council on the Status of Women requested that the Justice Minister now hold an inquiry into this recent murder-suicide;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Justice move quickly on this matter and appoint an inquiry immediately into yet another woman murdered by her spouse in Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I seek 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 Lunenburg West.

RESOLUTION NO. 905

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 Premier has announced the replacement of Priorities and Planning with the Treasury and Policy Board; and

Whereas changing the name and adding a few functions is hardly a creative measure and will merely mean an additional expense of replacing the existing stationery; and

Whereas this action would be humorous if it were not such a waste of time, effort and taxpayers' money at a time when we should be concentrating our efforts on health;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House condemn the Premier for his lack of vision, his lack of focus and a lack of creativity by merely changing the name of an agency that already exists.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver.

[Page 2917]

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 South.

RESOLUTION NO. 906

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

Whereas during their six year reign, Savage-MacLellan Liberals were well-known for their quiet acceptance of cuts to health and education by their federal friends in Ottawa; and

Whereas Premier Hamm and the entire PC caucus have changed the course of intergovernmental affairs from Liberal subservience to a strong Nova Scotia voice against bad decisions by the Chretien-Martin Liberals; and

Whereas Nova Scotia Liberals continue to be in the same Ottawa-knows-best rut by using their upcoming convention to welcome their Prime Minister, the champion of Medicare cuts in the last decade;

Therefore be it resolved that this House urge the Liberals to use their annual meeting this weekend not to praise Jean Chretien, Paul Martin and Jane Stewart, but to stand up for Nova Scotians hurt by Liberal neglect.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Centre.

RESOLUTION NO. 907

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

Whereas another company has failed in the province after being given taxpayers' dollars by the former Liberal Government; and

[Page 2918]

Whereas Atlantic Biochemical Research in Debert can now be added to the list of failures which includes PLI Environmental, Mentor Networks, Dynatek and MacTimber; and

Whereas it is obvious throwing handouts that do not produce jobs is not what taxpayers in this province want;

Therefore be it resolved that this current Tory Government take note of the failures of the past Liberal Government and stop throwing good money at bad business.

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 Dartmouth East.

RESOLUTION NO. 908

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

Whereas in their election blue book the Tories promised to, "Ensure that input from seniors and the interests of seniors are at the forefront of all government decision making."; and

Whereas during the 1998 election the Tories promised to eliminate Pharmacare premiums; and

Whereas the Minister of Health has already served notice that he will break his promise to seniors by raising Pharmacare costs with little or no consultation;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Health immediately stand up for the many Nova Scotian seniors who will face hardship if forced to pay more for their medication.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver of notice.

[Page 2919]

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. 909

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

Whereas Larry and Marsha Weatherby of Harmony, in the beautiful Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley, were recently honoured by the Atlantic Canada Outstanding Young Farmers Program; and

Whereas this recognition is a testament to their innovation, business sense, hard work and success in the beef industry; and

Whereas the contributions farmers like Mr. and Mrs. Weatherby make to their communities and to Nova Scotia cannot be overestimated;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Mr. and Mrs. Weatherby and wish them continued success in their endeavours.

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 Dartmouth-Cole Harbour.

[Page 2920]

RESOLUTION NO. 910

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

Whereas in his attempt to hook a Cabinet position, the member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley used the elimination of seniors fishing licence fees as his bait to get seniors onside; and

Whereas the member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley's petition stated, "We, the undersigned respectfully request of the Minister of Fisheries to eliminate the charge for fishing licences levied against the senior citizens of the Province of Nova Scotia as agreed by resolution in the Nova Scotia Legislature; and

Whereas the member from Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley has now cast the seniors of Nova Scotia free in an attempt to further his own political career;

Therefore be it resolved that the member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley admit today to seniors he has given up bait while he trawls for a Cabinet post.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Victoria.

RESOLUTION NO. 911

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

Whereas the Englishtown Ferry is presently out of service for annual refit, which occurs every year while drifting ice conditions prevail; and

Whereas this ferry is a vital piece of our transportation link servicing thousands of residents of our county; and

Whereas most every spring there is always a delay in getting these repairs made after the ice clears the channel;

Therefore be it resolved that the minister contact his staff at Miller Lake to ensure that repairs are made and ferry service resumes as soon as possible.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver.

[Page 2921]

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 Kings North.

RESOLUTION NO. 912

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

Whereas Kentville police laid 29 drug related charges between October and January; and

Whereas the arrest resulted in the seizure of tens of thousands of dollars worth of illegal drugs; and

Whereas Kentville Police officers have committed to keep illegal drug traffic away from schools;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House applaud Chief Brian MacLean and all members of the Kentville police force for their efforts to protect our children and our community.

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 Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage.

[Page 2922]

RESOLUTION NO. 913

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

Whereas the Royal Canadian Legion sponsored a Call to Remembrance 2000 Competition for regional Junior High School students to test their knowledge of Canada's involvement in past conflicts; and

Whereas the Eastern Passage Education Centre team consisted of Alex Boniface, Keegan Gingell, Mike MacLean and Joanne Mate; and

Whereas the Eastern Passage Education Centre team won the gold medal at the regional competition and will now advance to the Nova Scotia competition on May 4 and 5, 2000;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the Eastern Passage Education Centre team for their success and wish them all the best at the provincial competition.

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 Richmond.

RESOLUTION NO. 914

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

Whereas Tory MP Peter MacKay has picked up where NDP MP Michelle Dockrill left off by attacking Richmond County industries; and

[Page 2923]

Whereas MacKay has started an attack on Telile, a self-sustaining cultural centrepiece in the community, employing five people full time under the leadership and direction of Chair, Silver Donald Cameron; and

Whereas the Tory and NDP cowardly efforts to kill projects in Richmond County were undertaken with no consideration to the people that could be hurt by needless, uninformed political gamesmanship;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House condemn Tory MP Peter MacKay for his thoughtless attack on Telile and its Chair, Silver Donald Cameron, and recommend that he return his focus to his proud family tradition of attacking and undermining the leadership of Tory Leader Joe Clark.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

RESOLUTION NO. 915

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

Whereas despite agreeing to an all-Party resolution in this Legislature in the spring of 1998, the previous Liberal Government failed to provide seniors with a reduction of the cost of a fishing licence; and

Whereas the NDP, as usual, don't support the $11.50 reduction for seniors but promise the seniors nothing; and

Whereas the president of the province's largest hunting and fishing organization said, "it was something they had been fighting the previous Liberal administration for since 1994";

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this Legislature recognize the benefits that this initiative offers to the seniors of this province formulated from the input of Nova Scotians. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

[Page 2924]

RESOLUTION NO. 916

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

Whereas the member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley, as a member of the Third Party at the time in 1999, introduced 11 different petitions regarding seniors fishing licences on May 18th, May 19th, May 20th, May 25th, May 26th, May 27th, June 7th, June 10th, June 11th, June 14th; and

Whereas this member has proclaimed he is proud to stand tall as a spokesman for the seniors; and

Whereas the key word and the operative clauses of those petitions was free fishing licences to seniors;

Therefore be it resolved that the member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley should stop backtracking and stand by the motto, a true person's word is their bond.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Clare.

RESOLUTION NO. 917

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

Whereas yesterday the Halifax Regional School Board expressed its concern about the Department of Education funding for the coming school year; and

Whereas when these concerns were brought to the attention of the Minister of Education, she said that the board should chill out; and

Whereas this comment by the minister was an insult to the members of the board who are seriously concerned about the education of the youth for whom they are responsible;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Education immediately offer an unconditional apology to all school boards in Nova Scotia for her unwarranted comment.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for waiver, please.

[Page 2925]

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Kings West.

RESOLUTION NO. 918

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

Whereas the West Kings District High School Wolverines are the 2000 Provincial High School AA Boys Basketball Champions; and

Whereas the Wolverines captured the Nova Scotia high school honour with a recent 53-48 win over the Windsor Warlords; and

Whereas the Wolverines advanced to the championship game with wins over East Pictou and West Pictou high school teams;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this Legislature commend Wolverines Head Coach Wayne Lincoln, Assistant Coach Guy Robson and their players for a great season of highly entertaining basketball and wish them every success in their future endeavours.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect.

[Page 2926]

RESOLUTION NO. 919

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

Whereas Friday, March 31, 2000 will be Sir John A. Macdonald High School teacher Al Reyner's last day at that venerable school; and

[3:00 p.m.]

Whereas Al Reyner graduated as a student from Sir John A. then returned to teach with the Social Studies Department before serving as the school's vice-principal; and

Whereas Al Reyner has gained a reputation as a teacher who always puts his students first;

Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia Legislature offer its congratulations to Al Reyner on his new appointment with many thanks for the great job that he has done over the years at Sir John A. with best wishes of good luck in future educational endeavours.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for 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 Pictou West.

RESOLUTION NO. 920

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

Whereas cruise ships stopping at Nova Scotian ports contribute a significant amount of money to the province's economy; and

[Page 2927]

Whereas Kim Dickson, Executive Director of the Pictou County Tourist Association recently attended the Sea Trade international trade show to promote Pictou County as a tourist destination; and

Whereas more than 95 cruise line companies will see the Nova Scotian display at the trade show;

Therefore be it resolved that all the members of this House encourage the Pictou County Tourist Association as it charms cruise line companies with the beauty, history and culture of Pictou County.

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 Hants East.

RESOLUTION NO. 921

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

Whereas on February 19th, Larry and Marsha Weatherby of Truro and Chris and Karen Brown of Bridgewater were recognized at the Atlantic Canada Outstanding Young Farmers Program dinner in P.E.I.; and

Whereas these two couples were recognized for their hard work and contributions to community and to the agricultural industry; and

Whereas to be eligible for this type of award, farmers must be between the ages of 18 and 39, derive at least two-thirds of their income from their farming operations and demonstrate progress in their agricultural careers;

[Page 2928]

Therefore be it resolved that this House offer its congratulations to Larry and Marsha Weatherby of Truro and Chris and Karen Brown of Bridgewater on achieving this prestigious award and for their hard work in the agricultural industry.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for 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 Annapolis.

RESOLUTION NO. 922

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

Whereas Annapolis County resident Ms. Annie Hardy was born in 1892 and celebrated her 108th birthday on March 24, 2000; and

Whereas Annie is one of the exceptionally few people who has been able to ring in the beginning of not one, but two centuries; and

Whereas Nova Scotia was itself only 25 years old when Ms. Hardy was born in 1892;

Therefore be it resolved that members of these hallowed halls today recognize the diversity of changes this province has undergone in the past 108 years, as we extend our sincere birthday wishes to Ms. Hardy on this very special occasion and recall her contributions to her community and this province.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

[Page 2929]

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

RESOLUTION NO. 923

MR. JERRY PYE: 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, 1,356 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 deficit faced by the 1,356 children born into poverty under this Tory Regime.

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 member for Kings South.

RESOLUTION NO. 924

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

Whereas this government has a strong commitment to Nova Scotia's agriculture industry; and

[Page 2930]

Whereas government has shown this commitment by securing twice the federal funding for safety nets for our farmers, accelerating the provincial drought relief program and introducing a progressive Farm Practices Act; and

Whereas the merger of the Departments of Agriculture and Fisheries will protect the future of both sectors by allowing a co-ordinated approach to common issues like marketing, development and environmental stewardship;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize the government's commitment to agriculture and acknowledge its efforts to secure a solid future for this important sector in Nova Scotia.

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 Fairview.

RESOLUTION NO. 925

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 the Youth Entrepreneurial Skills Program provides training, business advice and start-up loans to young people who want to go into business; and

Whereas every year it honours the most successful of these Nova Scotian young people; and

Whereas on Wednesday, February 2, 2000, YES honoured four successful young entrepreneurs from all regions of the province;

Therefore be it resolved that this House commend Matthew Holleman of Grafton, Christopher MacIsaac of Isaacs Harbour, Michael McMullen of Dutch Brook, and Jake MacKinnon of Halifax on their successful business ventures and the recognition they have received.

[Page 2931]

Mr. Speaker, I seek 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 Pictou West.

RESOLUTION NO. 926

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

Whereas my neighbours in Welsford, Pictou County, courageously came together on March 17th to assist sheep farmer Trevor Richardson and his wife, Sherry, in preventing a disaster from occurring on their farm; and

Whereas the Richardsons, who own and operate a 160 acre sheep farm had a section of their barn roof collapse because of the St. Patrick's Day storm, with 160 sheep ready to give birth to approximately 350 baby lambs; and

Whereas neighbour, Kenny Grant, upon learning of the impending disaster late Friday evening spent all night hauling sheep from the damaged barn to his own barn;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this Legislature applaud the amazing gesture of neighbourly goodwill, which involved the hard work and quick assistance of Mr. Grant, to prevent a disaster for this farming family, as well as thank the 22 other local residents who also worked together to assist the Richardsons by completing the dismantling of what was left of the Richardsons' roof after the storm.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

[Page 2932]

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour.

RESOLUTION NO. 927

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

Whereas Ralph Klein's Tory Government in Alberta continues to move toward privatized health care in that province; and

Whereas Bill No. 11 will open the NAFTA floodgates to an American-style health service in this country, from which there is no return; and

Whereas this Nova Scotia Tory Government has not spoken out clearly against the bill;

Therefore be it resolved that this House today unanimously reject the idea of privatized health care anywhere in this country.

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 Queens.

RESOLUTION NO. 928

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

Whereas every two years, Liverpool hosts Canada's only international amateur theatre festival and one of just 11 in the world; and

[Page 2933]

Whereas this year people who love theatre will enjoy theatre groups from Ireland, Singapore, Germany, France, the United States, Denmark, and Venezuela, as well as from Ontario and several areas of Nova Scotia; and

Whereas The Liverpool International Theatre Festival runs from May 17th to May 21st;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House applaud the organizing committee and volunteer corps of local people who mount this world-class theatre festival and wish them luck with this year's festival.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect.

RESOLUTION NO. 929

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

Whereas the growing communities of Timberlea-Prospect deserve immediately another ice surface to assist with the expanding needs of the TASA Minor Hockey Association; and

Whereas our residents have had to travel outside of our constituency to rinks as far away as Chester to get practice and playing time; and

Whereas an active group of parents and the Prospect Road Lions Club have investigated and demonstrated the pressing need for this facility;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly congratulate determined Hockey Mum, Marie Wournell, and Prospect Lions member, Gary Langille, for their initiative with best wishes for this important community project.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver.

[Page 2934]

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 Annapolis.

RESOLUTION NO. 930

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

Whereas members of the Middleton Fire Department will celebrate its 110th Anniversary this year; and

Whereas volunteer firefighters make themselves available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days of the year, day or night; and

Whereas Middleton Fire Chief Chris Barker, the department executive and members, do a superb job of fire protection for the Town of Middleton and outlying areas they are responsible for within the Municipality of Annapolis area;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this Legislature recognize the 110 years of service of the Middleton Fire Department and thanks to members past and present for their brave, selfless service to Nova Scotia.

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.

[Page 2935]

The honourable member for Kings West.

RESOLUTION NO. 931

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

Whereas the Nova Scotia Ringette Championships were recently held in Berwick; and

Whereas the Berwick Belle Team captured one of the two provincial ringette championships by winning four consecutive games over Sackville, Dartmouth and Canning before defeating Bedford in the championship game; and

Whereas the other provincial ringette championship known as "Deb", for women over 18, went to another Valley team as they went 3-1 in round robin play before doubling Cole Harbour 4-2 in the championship game;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House of Assembly extend our best wishes to the two local championship teams and to the host organizing committee for putting on a great weekend for the visiting out-of-town teams.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Kings South.

RESOLUTION NO. 932

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

Whereas Glenna Rogers and her Wolfville-based Snap, Buckle, Drive group want to avoid needless tragedy by raising awareness about proper child car seat safety; and

[Page 2936]

Whereas the Wolfville Lions Club has helped sponsor car seat clinics to help parents properly install car seats and safely place children in the seats; and

Whereas with funding from the IWK Foundation, Snap, Buckle, Drive has published a 65 page book to help other communities start their own car seat safety programs;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House commend Ms. Rogers and the Snap, Buckle, Drive program and encourage them in their work to help educate parents to keep their children safe.

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.

ORDERS OF THE DAY

ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Question Period will begin at 3:14 p.m. and end at 4:14 p.m.

The honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party.

HUMAN RES. - PUB. SERV.: DEP. MINS. - DUAL POSITIONS

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, we just heard the Premier today outline the very vague parameters about how he is going to do something different with government. We are not sure which and we are going to try to find out though. I want to ask the Premier whether he would confirm whether one specific action that he has taken on his new plan to manage the Public Service has been to give permission for deputy ministers to hold more than one job, in other words more than one job with one employer? Would you confirm that, please?

[Page 2937]

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I believe what the Leader of the New Democratic Party is asking is whether or not a deputy minister can, in fact, handle two responsibilities. Perhaps you should clarify your question then, because members on this side cannot understand it.

[3:15 p.m.]

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: I think I was pretty clear. (Interruption) Well, that is no surprise, that doesn't mean I wasn't clear. What I am trying to find out Mr. Speaker, is whether, in fact, the Premier gave permission that the Deputy Minister of Education for the Province of Nova Scotia can carry out that function on a part-time basis while he is also employed with the Province of New Brunswick?

THE PREMIER: The member was much clearer that time. The Minister of Education can actually give you the specifics of the arrangement with the current Deputy Minister of Education.

HON. JANE PURVES: The Deputy Minister of Education has not had, and does not have, two jobs at once. There is an arrangement with the deputy minister that was arranged between the two governments, which I can explain if the honourable member would like that.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: . . . after the Premier, the government was in a huge rush to get a new Deputy Minister of Education. They were in such a rush that they went out and hired a deputy minister from New Brunswick who would not be released - a former MLA, a leader of the Conservative Party of New Brunswick, former MP. That person is working part-time for a department that is trying to set direction for education in the Province of Nova Scotia.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. As I said before, when I call to order, the mike is shut off. I called the member to order and please, the question. The honourable Leader of the NDP.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: I would like to ask the Premier, did he in fact give authority that the Deputy Minister of Education would be hired on a part-time basis until at least April 15th?

THE PREMIER: I can reassure the member opposite that the current Deputy Minister of Education is working full time for the Province of Nova Scotia as we speak.

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

[Page 2938]

HUMAN RES. - PUB. SERVANTS: VISION - PLACE

MR. RUSSELL MACLELLAN: In January of this year, the Premier made a speech at a breakfast for civil servants, and in it he described his vision for Nova Scotia. The Premier said, "It's a Nova Scotia where talent means opportunity, hard work means success, and a genuine need is met with a compassionate response." I would like to ask the Premier, where do public servants fit within this vision of Nova Scotia?

THE PREMIER: This government respects those who work in the Public Service. Since we became government, we have come to understand the great effort that so many talented people make on behalf of the people of Nova Scotia working within the public sector. Be that as it may, public sector workers know that things cannot remain the same. They know we are simply running a ship that will sink if we do not make changes. The public sector knows that.

Today, while we were giving the details of the new structure of government, at the same time, right across this province, public sector workers were receiving the same briefing because they do want to know what is in store for them, and we are unveiling what it is as quickly as is responsible to do, what we are going to be doing with government. I too, like members opposite, feel sorry for a public sector that perhaps feels victimized by years of bad government, but that is simply the case.

MR. MACLELLAN: Mr. Speaker, I can only hope that today the public servants got more information than we did or they would not be any further ahead than where they knew they were going to be going. But the Premier said in that same speech, "In the end, I'm a public servant just like every one of you . . ." Well, the Premier has a job for three more years. A lot of these public servants will not have a job at all. I want to know, what steps has this government taken to ensure that these same dedicated public servants will be treated with dignity and compassion?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I do welcome that question. This government will be working with public sectors to get through this very difficult time and a difficult time for government, a difficult time for the public sector. It is our preference, and they have our invitation to work with us to more effectively get through this, to minimize the disruption in the Public Service until we get to where not only we want to be, but where we absolutely have to be.

MR. MACLELLAN: Mr. Speaker, this really doesn't answer the question. We are dealing with good, honest people who have worked very hard, who have families that they want to support; we are dealing with a reputation that we have had in Nova Scotia for good, honest civil servants.

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

[Page 2939]

MR. MACLELLAN: We also want to know how these people are going to be treated. Mr. Speaker, I think it is really necessary . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Could we have your question, please?

MR. MACLELLAN: I would ask the Premier, what is he going to do to treat these civil servants fairly? We need . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

AN HON. MEMBER: That light was off earlier.

MR. SPEAKER: As I explained earlier, the light goes off when I call the House to order because I . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: But before you call the House to order . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Would the honourable Leader of the Liberal Party please put the final supplementary question. Question only.

MR. MACLELLAN: Mr. Speaker, I want to know from this Premier what is going to happen to these civil servants that the government is going to jettison. What treatment are they going to be getting? What fairness can they expect? How can we possibly look them in the eye and . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, again I welcome the question. This government will treat those public sector workers who will be displaced by smaller government and we will treat them fairly. The benefits to those who remain is that they will be part of a focused government that knows where it is going and they will, for the first time in many months and years, know exactly what it is government expects of them.

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

HUMAN RES. - GOV'T. BUS. PLAN

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, through you to the Premier. The Premier spoke today about a place that he wants to go, he wants to get to, but he didn't give us any details about how he was going to get there. I ask the Premier, would he table for us, here today, any detailed plan that he has in his possession showing how they are going to get from where we are today in government to where this Premier wants to take us?

[Page 2940]

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, in response to the question. First of all there was a lot of information provided today. It is the new shape of government, the new organization. The member opposite is insatiable in his quest for additional information. You are getting more information from this government in eight months than you have gotten from the previous government in six years.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, the Premier is correct. When he was in Opposition and we were in Opposition, we both asked repeatedly for the Liberal Government's plan; in fact I remember the Premier, when he was in Opposition, getting quite upset. I want to ask this Premier, now that he is in the catbird seat, where is your plan?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, unlike the previous government, I can assure the member opposite, yes, we will be delivering the plan and you will have it as soon as anyone.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: No plan, no details, you fill in the blank. That is what the Premier says to Nova Scotians. I want to ask him to confirm for Nova Scotians which one they should believe, that this government doesn't know, that they are afraid to tell, or that they, in fact, do know but they are afraid if people find out it will be soundly rejected?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I can say to the member opposite that in July of last year, Nova Scotians made a choice. While the member opposite has been critical of the amount of detail in our blue book, on the other hand it told Nova Scotians exactly where it is that this government would take them if it was elected. Nova Scotians know that, they expect us to do that and we are in the process of delivering our commitment.

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

HUMAN RES. - CIVIL SERV.: LAY-OFFS - COMPENSATION

MR. RUSSELL MACLELLAN: Mr. Speaker, I want to ask the Premier again, we are dealing with people's futures, the futures of their families. It is not fair to bring forward a document that talks about change and major lay-offs without telling these people, who may be laid off, what their future holds and what the benefits will be for them. I want to know, Nova Scotians want to know, what is this government going to do for the civil servants that he is going to let go?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I am trying to adhere to your instructions about not standing until the light goes on, but I am anxious to answer the question. I can say to the member opposite that public sector workers will be treated fairly by this government. The member opposite knows, as do all members in this House, it is not a happy situation when any breadwinner is faced with the prospect of losing a job. On the other hand, we are faced with a set of circumstances that requires things to change, that government has simply grown too

[Page 2941]

big. There is no other way to make governments smaller than simply to do that, make it smaller.

MR. MACLELLAN: Mr. Speaker, the question I am asking is very simple. It is not about downsizing in the Premier's convoluted plan, it is about people, people who have to get on with their lives, who need another chance after they leave government service. They need some help, they need to be treated fairly. What is the government going to do to treat these people fairly? What is he going to do?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, what I can say to the member opposite is, what is the government going to do to treat the public sector workers fairly? What I have clearly said to the member opposite, yes, as you suggest, we are going to treat them fairly. We will be unveiling the plan as to how we are going to do that, but the government will be fair to public sector workers. I am not sure if the member opposite is suggesting, don't do anything and let the province drown in a sea of red ink. Is that what you are suggesting?

MR. MACLELLAN: The government has no concept of fairness and that's what worries me. They have no concept of fairness for the disabled, the Sisters of Charity or the people who receive monies for charity. I want to know specifically what this government is going to do for the civil servants that it is going to let go? Tell them and tell Nova Scotians because they want to know.

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite is persistent in his questioning. I am not sure if each question is the same because he can't think of another one. I have answered the question. I have indicated that this government will be fair to the public sector workers and the details of what fairness means will be unveiled when the government is prepared to release it. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

The honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party.

HUMAN RES. - PUBLIC SECTOR: PLAN - TABLE

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, through you to the Premier, yesterday, in particular, and certainly in the last little while, the Premier has talked with some insistence about how important it is for a human resource strategy in health care. He is right. He is absolutely correct. Now I want to ask the Premier, what about a human resource plan for the whole public sector? Do you have one, and if you have one, table it?

[Page 2942]

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, yes that information will be made public in the very near future. Now, I am sorry if it disappoints the member opposite that it can't be today but on the other hand, this is what we did today. It is a good document. The information that you are requesting will come forward in the very near future.

[3:30 p.m.]

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, what the Premier did today was put fear into the hearts and minds of every single civil servant in the Province of Nova Scotia. I want to ask the Premier when he stands up and says that government will be smaller, how many civil servants are going to lose their jobs as a result of your announcement today?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I don't know how many different ways I can answer the same question. It was interesting today that while this briefing was being given to members opposite and the press corps, that right around this province the same briefing was being given to public sector workers. We are taking them every step of the way as this government goes through its plan to rebuild government, to reshape government, to make government affordable. Each and every way that we can we are including the public sector. I don't know what else the member opposite is expecting at this particular time.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I asked the Premier, how many jobs. He talks about smaller government, he won't answer. He doesn't have the guts to tell civil servants that they are going to lose their jobs. I want to ask the Premier in my final supplementary, people are going to lose jobs, you have threatened them, now, what are you going to do about it? What is in place to help those people who are going to lose their jobs? What are you going to do?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite is very persistent. (Interruptions) The member opposite is slow to understand that this government is determined to treat public (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. It is obvious that the member is not interested in the answer so I will go to the next questioner, please.

The honourable member for Lunenburg West.

ABORIGINAL AFFS. - DEPT.: CANCELLATION - EXPLAIN

MR. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, to the Premier. I would have thought that he would have taken a script out of the Lord campaign or out of the Harris campaign about answering questions after they dropped the bombshells on civil servants and the public of Nova Scotia without a clear plan. You would think he would have had some answers for us here today.

[Page 2943]

My question to the Premier is in regard to the departments that have disappeared from the system and that department is the Department of Aboriginal Affairs. My question to the Premier is that in light of the fact that it is nation to nation, the fact that we are dealing with so many crisis issues with First Nations people and the Government of Nova Scotia, why would the Premier at this time slap the Aboriginal people directly in the face by saying, you do not deserve to have a deputy minister to be responsible to work out the issues of First Nations people and the Province of Nova Scotia? Why did you cancel that department?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite obviously does not understand that we have an Aboriginal Affairs Secretariat that still reports directly, not through a deputy, reports directly to the minister. Now, if the member opposite had really read the report he would have understood that; apparently he didn't get through it yet.

MR. DOWNE: That's a pretty weak answer, Mr. Speaker, in light of the fact that we are honoured today to have a Sergeant-at-Arms showing respect for the fact that we have nations working together. The fact that title is one of the biggest issues facing this province, whether this Premier wants to accept it or not. We are going to have to deal with those issues and deal with . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

MR. DOWNE: . . . the issues of the First Nations people. My question back to the Premier, he says that it is the same thing, well, he has now moved from a deputy minister and executive director . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Question. Your question, please.

MR. DOWNE: . . . what image is that giving to the First Nations people when they don't even have a deputy minister to deal with in regard to the Province of Nova Scotia?

THE PREMIER: I can assure the member opposite that Aboriginal Affairs still reports directly to the minister.

MR. DOWNE: I can't get an answer out of the Premier, like no one else has gotten an answer yet today on anything that the Premier has been asked. I will ask the Minister responsible for the First Nations Aboriginal Affairs, why is he downgrading the staff of Aboriginal Affairs to the point where you don't even have a deputy? Furthermore, it shows disrespect for the First Nations people on behalf of the government. The Tories never liked the First Nations people (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.

[Page 2944]

HUMAN RES. - GOV'T. BUS. PLAN

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, my question will be through you to the Premier. Mr. Premier, I have been in this House for quite some time. I have seen Premiers come and their governments come, and I have seen them all go. Each and every one of them have said that they had answers that the others didn't. Something else that they had in common though is that while they are making their grand announcements, they have no analysis to back them up. My question to the Premier is a very simple one, where is the analysis on how many jobs will be lost and how many lives are going to be uprooted as a result of your government's reorganization?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, what you saw today was the new face of government. We talked about that, for many months, that government had to be smaller. What is really on the minds of the public sector workers is not how many public sector workers will no longer be in the employ of government, what they want to know is will they still be employed by government, the individual public sector workers. That is really what public sectors want to know. When that information is available for each and every public sector worker, that is when government will fulfil its responsibilities to public sector workers.

MR. HOLM: Mr. Speaker, it is very interesting that the Premier knows what the public sector wants when he hasn't even talked to them. What people saw today, or could have if they hadn't seen the person standing in front, it could have been Don Cameron up front because it sounded like the same thing. I want to ask this Premier, where is the analysis that is going to show that your reorganization is going to save any money?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite, in his burst of theatrics, is not prepared to look at how simpler means better, how simpler means more efficient, how simpler means less cost, because that is the direction in which this government is being forced to move through circumstances that were not created by this particular government, but because of the financial circumstances that we have. This government cannot afford to do nothing, which apparently is the advice that the member opposite seems to be giving.

MR. HOLM: No analysis. What this Premier is saying is that they are going on the basis of their idealogy and their philosophical feelings. My question to the Premier is, why are you showing such contempt for the Public Service of this province that has served us all so well? Why are you showing such contempt and such arrogance?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite understands, I believe he heard, public sector workers were made aware of this information at the same time members opposite were, right across this province. We are including the public sector in all of this. I cannot promise the public sector that things are not going to change. The members of the public sector don't expect things to remain the same because they know, as well as members opposite know, that what we are doing now is not working.

[Page 2945]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Lunenburg West.

HUMAN RES. - GOV'T. BUS. PLAN

MR. DONALD DOWNE: My question goes back to the Premier again. On Page 10 of this document, it says that this is not a conventional business plan. I would say to the members of the House, after listening to what we heard today, there is no plan and no information.

My question to the Premier is, why would he roll this whole process out today, without being able to bring the facts of the impact on the civil servants of the Province of Nova Scotia, when he brought out this big horrendous hoopla today, why did he do that without a plan and without information to the staff and the people who work for the Government of Nova Scotia? I ask the Premier that.

THE PREMIER: The member opposite has heard that what we unveiled today was the new structure of government. A simpler approach to delivering government, a vehicle that simply is modernized. A vehicle that will give more miles to the gallon. The vehicle that will get this province to where we have to be; and that is affordable government.

MR. DOWNE: A vehicle and a system that is more modernized. I do not know anywhere in business, that people in business, would ever treat employees the way this government is treating employees. Talk about Russian roulette with employees, it is unbelievable. This government has said in this document here that they, in fact, had no intentions to share the facts to the employees of the Government of Nova Scotia. They say right in their own report here: our intention is to share as much information as possible . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Next questioner, please.

The honourable member for Hants East.

AGRIC.: DEPT. - AMALGAMATION

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, I will direct my question to the Premier. During the election campaign, the Premier said a Progressive Conservative Government will make tourism a priority by re-establishing a separate department of tourism. My question to the Premier is, if the visible symbol of Tory priorities is a stand-alone department, then what message do you think Nova Scotia farmers are getting when their stand-alone Department of Agriculture has just disappeared?

THE PREMIER: My answer to the member opposite is, Nova Scotia farmers are business people. They know they have to balance the revenues and the expenditures. They know government has to do the same thing. They know unless we do that, government will

[Page 2946]

pull down the economy of this province. We are not prepared to allow that to happen, and farmers do not expect us to allow it to happen.

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Farmers are still expecting support from their government. Mr. Speaker, the Premier stood in this House last October 12th in his first Question Period as Premier and said, "It will be the hallmark of this government to consult with the people of Nova Scotia before significant changes in public policy are made." I am sure everyone will agree that the abolition of this department is a pretty significant policy change. My question to the Premier is, what consultation did your government undertake with farmers before you took away their stand-alone Department of Agriculture?

THE PREMIER: I will refer that question to the Minister of Agriculture.

HON. ERNEST FAGE: Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to respond to the question. Farmers of Nova Scotia are looking for opportunity and growth in their industry, and that is what their budget is going to deliver. I tell the member opposite, maybe he should speak to the Executive Director of the Federation of Agriculture who has endorsed this move today. I think the member opposite is playing political games with farmers and insulting people in rural communities by calling it fish and chips.

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: I guess with enough arm-twisting, Mr. Speaker, anybody will endorse anything. My final question to the Premier is, what consultation did your government undertake with fishermen before you took away their stand-alone Department of Fisheries?

THE PREMIER: I will refer that question to the Minister of Fisheries.

MR. FAGE: Mr. Speaker, the fishing industry in Nova Scotia exported, in the past year, the largest export of any commodity of this province, $1.1 billion, at least. The fishing industry also knows that they need support and programs and the fishing industry is prepared to move forward, the same as the farmers in this province.

[3:45 p.m.]

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

ECON. DEV.: E-COMMERCE JOBS - COMMENCEMENT

MR. RUSSELL MACLELLAN: Mr. Speaker, the question is for the Minister of Economic Development. The government talks about new Nova Scotian opportunities in the future yet it cancelled the Connections Nova Scotia program, a program that has provided over 5,000 jobs since 1994. They say that these jobs would be replaced by E-commerce jobs. I want to ask the minister, exactly when will these E-commerce jobs begin?

[Page 2947]

HON. GORDON BALSER: Mr. Speaker, I thank the member opposite for the question. What we have in Economic Development is approximately 1,000 active files representing right straight across the province and at any given time there are a number that are moving through the system. I am confident that over the next few days, the next few weeks, we will be bringing forward announcements that clearly indicate that the Department of Economic Development and this government is working to ensure that there are jobs created right straight across the province.

MR. MACLELLAN: The minister and the government have jettisoned very plausible and likely jobs for jobs that are theoretical maybe sometime in the future. The minister realizes that when Connections Nova Scotia was cancelled they were negotiating with Fortune 500 companies like Xerox to establish call centres in Nova Scotia. Has this government, has this minister contacted these companies to tell them Nova Scotia's position and why they, in fact, disbanded Connections Nova Scotia?

MR. BALSER: Mr. Speaker, obviously when a government decides to move on in terms of divisions and programs that it offers, it does some analysis regarding those business initiatives that may well be in progress. Certainly, before we made a decision to announce, in conjunction with our partner, MTT, that we were moving away from the Connections model, we ensured that any business plans that were in process would continue to be handled by the department.

MR. MACLELLAN: Mr. Speaker, I am talking about Fortune 500 companies that would be very helpful for Nova Scotia; Xerox is one, American Express is another. I want to ask the minister, what does he mean he assumes? The fact of the matter is, has the minister taken action to make sure that these companies are still coming to Nova Scotia? Has his department kept in contact with them and kept up this dialogue so that we don't lose these companies?

MR. BALSER: Mr. Speaker, perhaps the questioner failed to hear the answer the second time and that is that before we moved away from the Connections model, we ensured that every business plan that was in progress was going to continue to be handled by people within the Department of Economic Development. So the answer to the question is yes.

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

HUMAN RES. - GOV'T. BUS. PLAN: C.B. - EXCLUSION

MR. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, during the election campaign, this Premier used Cape Breton as a political football, sometimes kicking it around so he could get votes for his friends on the mainland. Tuesday, he is the same Premier who couldn't look at the gallery where real people with real families and real lives were looking down at him, the man who destroyed their livelihood for his own political and personal gain. My question to you,

[Page 2948]

Mr. Premier, is why, in over 100 pages of this document you released today on restructuring of the Government of Nova Scotia, there is not one single mention of Cape Breton? Why?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I believe if the member opposite would check through the document, it doesn't mention Yarmouth, it doesn't mention my community. What it talks about, it talks about the new structure of government. This is not a road map of Nova Scotia, it is the new structure of government. It is how this government can, with less money, deliver better service. That is what we are talking about today, better service for Nova Scotians.

MR. CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, I represent people in Cape Breton and I care about Cape Breton. If his bunch of know-nothings in the back row don't want to protect their areas, well, I am not going to speak for them. I am going to speak for people from Cape Breton, it is as simple as that. My question for the Premier, where is the information on how he is going to reorganize the Cape Breton economy? How many jobs will be lost, how many more lives must you ruin before you come up with your political promise of destroy Cape Breton?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I can assure the member opposite that as this government balances the books, as this government puts fiscal reality foremost over the next couple of years, we will be able to do for all Nova Scotians, including Cape Bretoners, better health care, better education and better care for the disabled. We will be able to do those things, the kinds of things that any government wants to do, but we can't do because of the financial situation that this government inherited.

MR. CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, I got a call this afternoon in my constituency office from a woman who is in her own bed, dying with cancer, hasn't eaten in three days, and the Department of Community Services said to her, if you don't go to Glace Bay for a meeting, you don't get a cheque. Is that what you are telling Cape Bretoners and Nova Scotians to expect from your compassionate government?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, if the member opposite could privately provide the details to government, we will make sure that person is adequately looked after.

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

ECON. DEV.: CONNECTIONS N.S. - ELIMINATION

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Economic Development. This government eliminated one of the most efficient economic development organizations in the country (Interruptions)

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

[Page 2949]

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: . . . when it withdrew the $300,000 funding for Connections Nova Scotia and dumping the MTT 70 per cent contribution at the same time. It did it at a time when Connections Nova Scotia was just starting to have success in establishing centres outside of metro Halifax, including Cape Breton and Bridgewater. As a matter of fact, we had been successful in putting four call centres in the Cape Breton area and were working on others with Connections Nova Scotia. Can the minister explain to the House why he eliminated this program without a proper replacement?

HON. GORDON BALSER: Mr. Speaker, as I said in a previous question, we made the determination it was now time for the Department of Economic Development and the government to move on to the next stage of its economic development strategy. Certainly Connections Nova Scotia was successful when it was envisioned. It was the right vehicle at the right time. Those situations have changed and the needs have changed. The decision was made in conjunction with our partner. We haven't severed any relationship with our partner MTT. In fact, it was a mutually agreed upon strategy that would present new and better opportunities.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: The minister knows that answer is not correct, that one was contingent upon the other, but I will go on to my supplementary. Mr. Speaker, while the government tries to come up with explanations, perhaps they could come up with an explanation for some of the companies that were here mere days ago, to try to do business in Nova Scotia. Staff from Connections Nova Scotia were dealing with Home Depot, just a matter of a few weeks ago, with their president, who by the way is from Sydney. I would like the minister to explain to this House just exactly where the file for Home Depot stands?

MR. BALSER: Mr. Speaker, when the transition from Connections back to the Department of Economic Development was made, the files were transferred to the Trade and Investment Division. As the member opposite knows, we don't negotiate deals on the floor of the House.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, for my final supplementary, I might refer to the Economic Development section of The Course Ahead. It is a total of two pages in this entire booklet; that's what this government thinks of economic development. My final supplementary, Stream, a technology support company that is looking to establish a call centre in Glace Bay, they went to Glace Bay, met with officials, checked out some locations and things were looking very good with Connections Nova Scotia. What does the minister have to say to the people of Glace Bay and to the people of Nova Scotia about his lack of interest in creating jobs in the former Town of Glace Bay?

MR. BALSER: Mr. Speaker, the department and the government are concerned about creating jobs, not just in Glace Bay or industrial Cape Breton, but in every community in this province. The file that he mentions is one that we are continuing to work with.

[Page 2950]

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: I am talking about an area with 50 per cent unemployment. That is what I am talking about. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

The honourable member for Sackville Cobequid.

HUMAN RES. - GOV'T. BUS. PLAN: DEP. MINS. - EXCESS

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, to the Premier. When Donald Cameron tried restructuring, he kept all the deputy ministers, who did not have jobs, as advisors. When John Savage first restructured, he fired all the deputy ministers, who did not have jobs, and ended up getting large, wrongful dismissal suits. The next time around he restructured, he kept all the deputy ministers who did not have jobs as advisors. My question to the Premier is, what are you going to do with your deputy ministers who will no longer have jobs?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, that is a good question. The senior people, around whom the question revolves had been part and parcel of what we are talking about today, what we released today. They are working very hard because those senior management people know, those deputy ministers know that the current structure is not working and they have worked very hard and they are supportive and part and parcel of the planning and the process that went into designing the changes that you saw today. So these people know that the current system is not supportable and they are working hard to develop a system that is.

MR. HOLM: Mr. Speaker, that was a very long way for the Premier to simply say I don't know that either. My next question to the Premier is, what assurance is he prepared to give the people of this province and, more importantly, the front-line workers in this province that the most senior bureaucrats will not be kept on while they, the front-line workers, are being let go?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I am going to refer this question to the Minister of Finance because I have answered this question on a number of occasions and, obviously, I am not being clear, or perhaps there just is a lack of understanding on the Opposition benches.

HON. NEIL LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, today the Premier announced the long-term vision of where our government is going. We have been saying since we became government that government would become smaller. The Opposition is trying to say today that somehow we are saying today that government will become smaller. We have been saying that since August 16th and for them to say that we have not is not the case. We said today what the formal government will look like and that is consistent with what we have said from the very first day.

[Page 2951]

MR. HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I hate to admit it but, do you know what? The Minister of Finance cannot answer a question any better than the Premier, because we still did not get an answer.

My last question to the Premier, Mr. Speaker, if I might, what guarantee is the Premier prepared to give that nobody will be paid a deputy minister's salary if they are not carrying out the job of a deputy minister? Maybe the Premier can understand that question.

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, in response to the member opposite, this government will reward employees commensurate to the responsibilities that they take on. To get into the details of the budget clearly is not in the best interests of the Minister of Finance, so you are just going to have to contain yourself until such time as budget details come out.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Clare.

EDUC.: BUDGET (2000-01) - UNCHANGED

MR. WAYNE GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Education. Yesterday, while being interviewed on television about funding for the Department of Education and the concerns about funding expressed by the Halifax Regional School Board, the Minister of Education stated that the Education budget would be the same as last year and that the board should chill out. What a statement for the minister to make. Does she think she is above the concerns of the province's school boards? My question to the minister is, if as the minister says, the education budget will remain the same next year, in view of increased expenses such as salaries and fuel costs, can she say that there will be no teacher lay-offs?

[4:00 p.m.]

HON. JANE PURVES: Mr. Speaker, what I said yesterday and what I have said on previous occasions is that there will be changes in the Education Department. There will be funding put in other priority areas. There will be changes, there will be some cuts, particularly in administration, including my own department.

MR. GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, school boards across Nova Scotia have already said that in order to maintain the same level of service during this coming year, they will need at least an extra $30 million. In view of this, can the minister justify again that there will be no teacher lay-offs?

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, another thing I said yesterday and repeat here in the House is that with the budget that we will have in the Education Department, we do not anticipate the need for teacher lay-offs.

[Page 2952]

MR. GAUDET: My final question to the minister, we just heard the Premier indicate that we will have better education. Well, I am certainly looking forward to this. Can the minister promise this House here and now that there will be no teacher lay-offs next year in the Province of Nova Scotia? Yes or no?

MISS PURVES: That is not a promise I could make no matter (Interruptions) that is not the question the member asked, Mr. Speaker. What I said and what I repeat is that I do not anticipate the need for teacher lay-offs as a result of this budget.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

HEALTH - PHARMACARE PROGRAM:

SENIORS - CONSULTATION

MR. JERRY PYE: My questions will be to the Premier. The consultation with seniors about Pharmacare last week was a last minute afterthought of the government. I believe this seniors' group had 48 hour notice to attend the meeting on this important issue. The present government has said consultation with seniors on issues affecting them will be, at the forefront of all government decision-making affecting the future of our province. My question to the Premier is, what can the Premier tell us about how one meeting organized in 48 hours constitutes real consultation with the seniors of this province?

THE PREMIER: I can reassure the member for Dartmouth North that seniors were consulted. A very rare thing actually in this province before a budget that a government actually does consult a group that would be impacted by a government policy, but this government is proud that it can say that pre-budget consultation did occur with seniors and their advice is being taken.

MR. PYE: My first supplementary to the Premier. The seniors' representatives at this meeting were told that the issues discussed were to be kept in strict confidence. Mr. Speaker, they aren't even able to discuss this matter with their membership. I want to ask the Premier how a gag order constitutes real senior consultation.

THE PREMIER: The member opposite is quite aware that pre-budget confidentiality is a reality in the type of government we have here. What I can say to the member, that seniors, through the secretariat, were consulted about a public issue that will be part of the budget that will affect seniors and their advice has been taken.

MR. PYE: Mr. Speaker, my final question goes directly the Premier. Why won't the Premier admit that this is just another election ploy and that he never intended to consult with seniors about the issues that directly impact on their lives in Nova Scotia?

[Page 2953]

THE PREMIER: It is obvious that the member opposite was struggling to get his final supplementary. The member opposite heard that this government did consult as it has committed to the people of Nova Scotia to do; this government did consult.

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

TRANSPORT. & PUB. WKS. - MARINE ATL.:

JOBS (N.S.) - TRAINING PROGS.

MR. BRIAN BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, my question is also for the Premier. It is no secret, of course, with the federal announcement recently of the new ferry between North Sydney and Port aux Basques and the Newfoundland ferry service, that Newfoundlanders are being trained for new Marine Atlantic jobs as we speak. My question to the Premier is, can the Premier guarantee there will be similar training for Nova Scotia workers?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I thank the member opposite for the question. The member opposite has been a very strong advocate to make sure that job creation in his area is protected. In other words, that Marine Atlantic hires a share of Nova Scotia workers for the new ferry that will be, we expect, plying between Port aux Basques and North Sydney this summer. I have been aggressively pursuing this with the senator who is our Nova Scotia representative in the federal Cabinet. I have pursued this issue with the federal minister responsible. I have pursued this issue with Marine Atlantic. As well, I have made the information available not only to the member opposite, but also to the government ministers who would have a responsibility to make sure that the workers will be ready for those jobs when they are posted.

MR. BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, I would agree with what the Premier said, but I think the Premier has misunderstood my question. The Newfoundland Government has already acted in training residents to prepare for these jobs. In Nova Scotia, we do not have any training programs, in particular in the Cape Breton area. I am concerned about Nova Scotia in general. My question is, what assurance can the Premier give the people of Nova Scotia that they will have an equal chance to get those jobs at Marine Atlantic.

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the question is about the training of the workers, and I refer that to the Minister of Education.

HON. JANE PURVES: Mr. Speaker, yes, the department has been working on this issue for a number of months, and the courses needed by the workers are available and are being made available to all those who wish to take the courses. The training is in place and available to all who want to take it. Thank you.

[Page 2954]

MR. BOUDREAU: That reply has me baffled because I speak to Nova Scotians every day of the week, Mr. Speaker, and they are not aware that this training is taking place. People are not aware where they can locate these training programs. I will again ask the Premier or the minister, where and when and how do residents of Nova Scotia apply for these training programs?

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, the persons interested in these jobs at Marine Atlantic should contact the community college.

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

COMMUN. SERV.: HEATING OIL REBATE PROG. - ACCESS

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Community Services. Back in January, the minister announced with such fanfare, a program to help poor Nova Scotians and seniors with a heating oil rebate program. He said 75,000 individuals and families could take advantage of this program and a lot of people were very happy to hear about it. Unfortunately, as of yesterday only 11,063 people have actually taken advantage of this program, which seems to me and even to the member for Kings North, very disappointing. So there are 62,000 who haven't been able to access $50 rebates from this heartless government.

Mr. Speaker, my question is, when did this minister know that this program was going to be a failure?

HON. PETER CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, we took the opportunity prior to the announcement. We had consultations and prior to this we were referring to the Seniors' Secretariat and other groups. We took the opportunity to speak to them. What those groups told us is that they wanted some assistance, but more importantly, they said they wanted the assistance now. So we complied with that program. We set up the program. I didn't know how many people were going to apply. We made it available to people but we made it for them and we responded to the request to make it available immediately.

MR. DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, I would suggest this minister consulted with the Department of Finance more than anyone else with regard to making this program work for the government and not for seniors and the poor in this province. There is even talk of extending the deadline to try to help some more people but, of course, that has even been stopped by this particular government. So my question to this minister is, what can the poor in Nova Scotia hope to get out of a minister who can make an election promise of getting rid of a jail out of his own back yard but can't get $50 rebate cheques into the hands of the poor in Nova Scotia?

[Page 2955]

MR. CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, let me just refer to the jail. I do want to, on behalf of the people of Bedford, thank the member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage for putting a petition in, which he signed, to ask to have the jail moved out of Bedford and moved somewhere else. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, there are $3.75 million that was put into this program to help the poor and seniors in Nova Scotia. Quite frankly, only $600,000 or $700,000 of that is actually ever going to be spent by this government. So my question to this minister is, what are you going to do with the extra $3 million, are you going to cut a cheque to the Minister of Finance or what are you going to do with it to help the poor?

MR. CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, the member is quite correct, the program as we announced, went to the end of March. We indicated that, we advertised that, we made forms available. We encouraged people; we sent out mail outs and inserts with all of our cheques . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

The time for Oral Question Period has expired.

The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, members of my caucus have a real good relationship with the Native community and Aboriginals. In fact, I am presently working with the honourable member for Hants East on an initiative at Indian Brook and today during Question Period . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

AN HON. MEMBER: What's he on?

MR. SPEAKER: Well, give me a chance and I will ask him. Thank you. Is this a point of order?

MR. TAYLOR: Yes, it is, Mr. Speaker. Today during Question Period, the member for Lunenburg West made some very disparaging comments about members of my caucus and myself that, in fact, our relationship with the Aboriginals, the indigenous people of Nova Scotia, is less than what it should be. In fact I heard him say, and members in the backbench and my caucus heard him say, distinctly, that we hate Aboriginals. Now, you don't have to render a decision on that today but I would ask you to review the comments made by the member for Lunenburg West during Question Period today and render a decision. If those

[Page 2956]

comments are found to be unparliamentary, we would ask that that honourable member withdraw those comments, because we heard them, whether they are recorded or not.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Lunenburg West.

MR. DONALD DOWNE: On the point of order, Mr. Speaker. I did not say that. What the member has just said I allegedly said, is a false statement in this House and clearly the impression is the fact that this was a former head, a deputy minister, a very high profile in a Liberal Government, for Aboriginal Affairs. It appears by the fact that it has now been cut - it is a separate situation - to be a lack of priority by this government. That is what I was referring to. The comments the member made is a falsehood, I did not make that statement. (Interruptions)

[4:15 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I will review Hansard and report back to the House tomorrow.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order, I would ask that you review Hansard for today's proceedings in that the member for Cape Breton Centre - I don't know if he did it inadvertently or not - but in a question to the Premier regarding Sysco, imputed motives to the Premier in that he said something to the effect that the Premier did something for his own personal gain, which I think is imputing motives. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I will review Hansard and report back to the House tomorrow.

GOVERNMENT BUSINESS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, would you please call the order of business, Public Bills for Second Reading.

PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, would you please call the bill that was adjourned, Bill No. 28.

Bill No. 28 - Motor Vehicle Act.

[Page 2957]

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

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I made several comments regarding the amendments to the Motor Vehicle Act. I certainly support these amendments. I would say that the amendment, as they fall, as Clause 1 and Clause 2, especially Clause 1, whether or not it is understood by all members of the caucus, is a quality of life issue, relative to the engine brakes and the jake brakes. We did listen to Nova Scotians, we listened to communities, and as a consequence, we are pleased to bring in that legislation. "Clause 2 provides that where a municipality has passed a by-law dealing with the seizure and forfeiture of a motor vehicle involved in the commission of a prostitution-related offence, a peace officer may detain . . . ".

As I said before, Mr. Speaker, there is similar legislation in Manitoba, but I am primarily concerned and I know my caucus is mostly concerned with Nova Scotia. I know there are concerns irrespective of what the member for Dartmouth North has to say. I think if he checks with his community, and I trust that he does that on a regular basis, he will find that people in Dartmouth North and in some of the communities that that member represents, are very concerned about prostitution. As perhaps all members understand, johns and customers and things of that nature must be reined in. This is a step that the honourable Justice Minister, by amending the legislation, has put in place . . .

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker, the member who has been on his feet just suggested that the member for Dartmouth North, in his interventions earlier on this bill, indicated that the people of Dartmouth North did not think that prostitution was a serious matter. That is absolutely false. The member for Dartmouth North did not say that, understands that it is a very serious concern and in fact has worked tirelessly with members of his constituency in order to try to deal with the problem that is real in Dartmouth North. I would hope the member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley would understand that and would not make any other allusions to the member for Dartmouth North not taking this matter seriously.

MR. SPEAKER: Would the member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley like to clarify your comments in regard to the member for Dartmouth North?

MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I understand that the Leader of the New Democratic Party was not listening as carefully as he should be. It is not unusual for him to do this in the House, but what I indicated . . .

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: On a point of order, I heard the member quite clearly. (Interruptions) I am asking you, Mr. Speaker, to make sure that that member doesn't make that kind of suggestion about something that a member of this caucus said, which he didn't say. (Interruptions) The matter of prostitution is a very serious matter and the member for

[Page 2958]

Dartmouth North has said so. For him to suggest otherwise is wrong. I heard him very clearly.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I would ask the members, if you want to have a conversation, please take it outside the Chamber. It is very difficult to hear the speakers on the floor over the conversations inside here. It is getting really difficult when I have to revert to reading Hansard to see what is being said here. We should all take a look at what we are doing here. That is everyone. Again I would ask, would the honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley, please refrain from making comments about other members of the House. I was here myself and heard the honourable member for Dartmouth North say it was a concern of his, about prostitution. So I would ask again, please refrain from those comments and continue on with your own comments about this bill. Thank you.

MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I guess what I would say then, with the indulgence of the Party to the left, is that this legislation is good legislation, and I believe that all members in the Legislature including the member for Dartmouth North should support it, because in the Halifax Regional Municipality and different areas of the municipality, not only in some Dartmouth North communities, is prostitution a problem. It is a problem in different areas in the Halifax Regional Municipality. I think by giving the Halifax Regional Municipality the ability to pass a by-law to deal with johns and customers of the prostitution trade that in fact we are giving the HRM and all municipalities across Nova Scotia the ability to take this matter into their own hands.

Mr. Speaker, mind you, if our government had passed this amendment by way of provincial Statute, made it an out-and-out law then municipalities would have been responsible for enforcing and in fact monitoring that situation, so by giving them the ability to pass a by-law, I believe that in fact we seem to be conscious of the fact that each individual municipality would like to have the opportunity to perhaps deal with this.

Mr. Speaker, by way of closing, I don't expect that you should have to go and review Hansard on a frequent basis relative to comments, but I think when you do take the time and if the honourable member for Dartmouth North takes the time to revisit what I said today, it will be completely counter to what the Leader of the NDP said that I said in this House. There are other times when in fact members make comments and their light may not be on and they are not recorded but still their comment has been heard by members of the House.

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: On a point of order, just before the member finishes and I hate to interrupt him, but we had a question on clarity on the "Jake Bill", I am wondering if he will entertain a question to clarify that particular portion of the bill before concluding his remarks?

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley, will you entertain a question?

[Page 2959]

MR. TAYLOR: Yes, go ahead.

MR. SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, in all seriousness, we know that the member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley has been a strong proponent of the rights of truckers throughout the province. Today in discussion on this bill there were questions raised as to what impact this would have, as we all know the trucking industry is not simply a provincial industry, we have truckers who travel from one end of Canada to the next and even from the U.S. into Canada, and I am just curious if he has turned his mind or if the Truckers Association of Nova Scotia has had any discussions with other provinces as to what means are going to be used to inform other jurisdictions, truckers from other provinces and from the United States of this limitation that is going to be put in? Have they turned their minds to that? What information can he give us to reassure us that this is something that is not going to create serious problems for other truckers coming into our jurisdiction?

MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, that is a very good point and a good question that is raised by the honourable member for Richmond, but I can tell you, with some qualification from having travelled the many states in America and across Canada, that from province to province, state to state there are a lot of different regulations. It would be great if all rules and regulations pertaining to the trucking industry - because it is the biggest industry in Canada - were harmonized. It is something that the Minister of Justice has advised me and members of my caucus that he would be looking into because right now, Mr. Speaker, the member is absolutely right, there will be truckers coming into the province from other jurisdictions and we will try to do our very best to make sure they are educated.

With those few brief remarks, Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to pass along the mantle in second reading to other honourable members.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.

MR. HOWARD EPSTEIN: I have some bad news for the Minister of Justice. It seems clear that Bill No. 28 has been structured to give a power to municipalities to put in place by-laws dealing in part with prostitution, so as to deal with a problem that exists in certain parts of the Halifax Regional Municipality. Several speakers have referred to those particular areas already. My colleague, the honourable member for Dartmouth North, has referred to the problem that existed in his district; my colleague, the honourable member for Halifax Needham, experiences a problem in her district with prostitution and in my district, in times past, there has also been a problem. The bad news I have for the minister is that if he is of the view that in bringing forward Bill No. 28, he is going to be doing a particular favour to the residents of those areas, it is not going to pay political dividends. Those three ridings are ours and they are not going to change.

[Page 2960]

Now in suggesting that there is probably a political motive in bringing forward this bill and, in particular, the way it has been brought forward, that is to say leaving it to the municipalities to act, what I am suggesting is that it is far from clear that there could be any other solid policy reason for bringing forward this particular piece of legislation.

Make no mistake, we will vote for this bill, certainly at second reading. It will be interesting to move on to the Law Amendments Committee to see the comments we get. It is far from clear that this bill is going to be effective. Although this bill takes the line of being very tough on crime, there is nothing in it and nothing in any other associated program that the government has that actually deals with the underlying conditions. We know that the underlying conditions have to do with poverty, coercion, drug addiction, abuse and with the very difficult circumstances in which entirely too many people in our society find themselves. One of the manifestations of their attempts to struggle with their circumstances is prostitution.

I don't see that this government is taking any steps towards assisting the organizations that try to deal with prostitution and help people get off that life. I don't see that this government is even giving any extra money to help policing and I certainly don't see that this government is setting itself up to do anything useful about elimination of poverty. If that is the case, it is far from clear that we are going to accomplish anything here except moving prostitution from one place to another.

[4:30 p.m.]

As the organizations that are closest to the metro sex trade have told us, in their public statements since this bill came forward, what they expect is that prostitution will carry on, just in different locales. It is far from clear that the predecessor legislation has had much in the way of success, even though it has been combined with an additional feature, that is to say the john school. We know from the reports out of Winnipeg that there has been mixed success. Let's be clear, I would like to see the government do something effective about prostitution.

I do not think there is anyone in this House that does not want to see something effective done. The question really is, what is effective? When the minister held a briefing for the bill, I was very struck by the language that he used in describing the measure that he thought he was bringing forward. What he talked about is supply and demand. This is the classic language of economics. He said, well look, if you strike harshly at the demand for prostitution, there is going to be an end to the supply. That seems to be the underlying thought here; this is what the minister has told us with his chosen method of striking harshly at the demand, to make it extra risky for those who would be customers. It is made extra risky because they stand to have their vehicles impounded.

[Page 2961]

Somehow the minister thinks that even if this is successful, that this is going to affect the fundamental underlying circumstances of those who have been drawn or forced into the sex trade. It is not obvious to me; in fact, it seems to me the hard reality is that this step is not likely to have much effect.

The minister probably knows that the problem of prostitution has been much studied. It has been much studied over periods of hundreds and thousands of years because it has persisted over periods of hundreds and thousands of years. In the range of attempts that have been made to deal with the problem, nothing much seems to work; perhaps I should say that very little seems to work. What does seem to work is dealing with the underlying conditions. We have even seen a strong full page editorial from The Globe and Mail on October 22, 1998, in which the editorial staff of The Globe and Mail reflected on the problem of prostitution. What they said was that in the end the only reasonable thing to do with an activity which in the end, let's remember, is not itself a criminal activity. What is criminal is solicitation, running a bawdy house, being a pimp. Prostitution itself is not illegal.

I will read you what it is that The Globe & Mail editorial staff concluded. I now quote: "Street solicitation is what bothers most Canadians - and it should. It's an offensive nuisance that no one should have to put up with, and the law rightly bans it. But the street-sex business in part exists because prostitution now operates in a netherworld of semi-legality. Allowing prostitutes to perform their trade in legitimate places of business, licenced by municipalities, held to certain standards of health and cleanliness and permitted only in certain neighbourhoods, would if anything help get prostitutes off the streets."

Not everyone agrees with that. I think everyone agrees that licensing and inspection would get prostitution off the streets and would, in fact, probably make life in some respects safer for the prostitutes and safer for their customers, less exploitative all around. I do not suggest that this is the ideal answer or the only answer. What I do suggest is that the government has not really engaged on the issue. If the government were serious about thinking about what to do about prostitution, it would not limit itself to passing off the responsibility to municipalities, and it would not limit itself to passing off the responsibility to municipalities on a very limited point which is this question of seizure of vehicles.

Pretending that you are dealing with a problem when what you are actually doing is coming up with an illusionary measure. It is not what we expect from this or from any government. We expect that if the government tries to tackle the problem, it will do so upon proper research. We expect that it will do so upon talking with all of the interests affected. We expect that it will do so by trying to get at the whole of the problem rather than only dealing with a very narrow part of it. So it is not a satisfactory public policy measure to have this small and essentially misguided step brought before us. It is not even the case that the government is saying, well, we expect to bring in about six other pieces of legislation dealing with this topic because our research is ongoing, we are going to take it seriously and here is what we are thinking of doing. This is just the first step.

[Page 2962]

We have not heard that. What we have heard is the government say, well, this is it, that is it for prostitution. We have dealt with it, end of story. We have kept a promise. We latched on to a harsh measure that may look popular in some corners, and that is the extent of it. I said we would support it. We will support this measure through to second reading, but not with any sense of satisfaction. Certainly there is no reason to look at this and say, we have accomplished something worthwhile.

I have another piece of I think not-good news for the minister as well. I have agreed to strike a bargain or a deal with the Minister of Justice. The bargain I have agreed to strike is that I will stop giving lectures in the Legislature on constitutional law just as soon as he stops introducing unconstitutional bills. (Applause) We have seen three of them this week; it has been quite an amazing crop, and I have in mind the bill that we are looking at here today among those. Part of the reason we are prepared to support this bill is because I am curious as to just how long it is going to take for a court to invalidate it.

We all know that the criminal law is a power of the federal government. Whenever any bill comes forward in the Legislature, it is a preliminary step for the government, one would have thought, to ask themselves by what constitutional authority do we bring forward this legislation. What is our authority? Criminal law is not a power that the Constitution gives to the province, to any province, so there has to be something else presumably, either about this legislation or about the powers that the province has, that would justify what it is doing.

I am assuming that the government is thinking about municipal institutions and perhaps about property and civil rights in the province but, you know, when the courts deal with questions of impugned constitutionality, they do not care that a bill might be framed as an amendment to the Motor Vehicle Act. Many of the things dealing with the Motor Vehicle Act are normally within the ambit of a provincial government, but tucking something into a Motor Vehicle Act does not make it automatically constitutional and giving a power to a municipality does not make it automatically constitutional, nor does the combination of those two.

I do not think it is immediately obvious what the final result of the inevitable challenge to this legislation will be, but it is, in very difficult terms, difficult in the sense of how difficult it is going to be for the bill to pass constitutional scrutiny. In the first instance, of course, the seizure takes place before anyone has been convicted of any crime. The next problem is that the bill clearly focuses on the commission of crime. The authorization to seize is given to a peace officer if they are satisfied that a motor vehicle is being operated in the course of committing an offence, and it references certain sections of the Criminal Code.

The question that courts ask themselves when they read impugned legislation is, what is really the heart of this bill? They have a phrase for it, what is the pith and substance of this legislation? Is this really property legislation or is this really criminal legislation? Now, you know what? If something were, in its essence, land use planning, if it really were zoning that

[Page 2963]

we were dealing with here, and even if it was zoning of prostitution, as The Globe and Mail editorial suggested, it would almost certainly be within provincial powers. But we are not really dealing with zoning here, what we are dealing with is a punitive measure, in the words of the Minister of Justice, tied to an economic theory that says let's hit at the demand and therefore, the supply will cease. The minister is on record as having said that.

I have to tell the minister that I think he is buying the municipalities a lawsuit. If some municipality does choose to enact a by-law - I think one of the previous speakers on the government side pointed out that it would not have mattered if it was done through a straight provincial, province-wide enactment because the municipalities pay the police and they have to enforce it. That is a good point, that is true. What the municipalities will probably be stuck with is defending the constitutionality of their by-law, which means defending the constitutionality of this piece of provincial legislation. That is where the municipalities are going to be stuck with the bill, they are going to be stuck with the legal bill as it wends its way through the courts.

I will find it interesting to see to what extent there are comments made at the Law Amendments Committee. If this bill does, in the end, get adopted as is, without any elaboration, without anything for a john school, without anything that might stand to change the conditions, I will be interested to hear from the minister in due course how effective it has been. I will be interested to hear from the courts in due course, what they think of it. Thank you.

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

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, I rise to make a number of interventions on this, albeit they will be somewhat brief but I will try to deal strictly to the intent of the legislation and the issues of concern that I have. Certainly I have no problem supporting this particular piece of legislation to go on to the Law Amendments Committee so that the appropriate public consultation process will allow those who have concerns with it, or even for that matter, those who may have ways to improve the legislation, to come and offer their thoughts and make some intervention.

My colleague, the honourable member for Halifax Chebucto, makes a very good point with the issue of Section 8 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. It is quite clear,"Everyone has the right to be secure against unreasonable search and seizure" Further, Mr. Speaker, this section of the Charter goes on to guarantee a broad and general right to be secure from unreasonable search and seizure beyond mere protection of property. So therein, I would suspect, could be an issue of concern for the municipalities across the Province of Nova Scotia. I don't think anyone in this House would disagree with the fact that any attempt to curb some of the ills of society that we are faced with, would be a good measure. If it is simply just to introduce legislation upon legislation, for optics, and to try to make it look like

[Page 2964]

we are doing something when, in reality, we are not really achieving anything, then I believe we certainly could have a major problem.

Another issue I would certainly draw to the attention of all members of the House, and certainly to the minister and, in particular, to those members from the Halifax Regional Municipality - or former members, I should say - because earlier today I had an opportunity to discuss this piece of legislation with His Worship, Mayor Walter Fitzgerald. Mayor Fitzgerald indicated quite clearly that he has major concerns with this piece of legislation. I was given the impression from the government benches that perhaps Halifax Regional Municipality fully endorsed this particular piece of legislation. That certainly was not the message that was conveyed by Mayor Fitzgerald the other evening on the six o'clock news broadcast on CBC and it certainly was not the message that he conveyed to myself earlier today. He has a major concern with the fact that this government is trying to download the cost of this legislation onto the municipalities; at the same time leaving them in a rather precarious position in terms of the liability that could occur should the constitutionality of this piece of legislation be successfully challenged.

I will certainly support it going on to Law Amendments Committee. Perhaps municipal representatives from all over Nova Scotia may want to come and make some intervention and hopefully draw to the attention of the government that they are not really happy with the downloading that has taken place. As well - and I do not want to detract from the principle of this particular piece of legislation because we know that is what second reading is for - but ironically, in the same breath he raised concern about the issue on flea markets. The possible downloading effect on municipalities that that particular piece of legislation will have.

So, while I commend the government on the optics, if nothing else - or at least an attempt to deal with a serious problem - I am putting on a cautionary note there that perhaps just introducing more legislation and not dealing with the source of the problem - which has been mentioned by a number of individuals - that many of these young individuals who take to the streets are there because of some unfortunate situations back in their own home or in their own home community. You can travel to any of the major cities across Canada - whether it be Toronto, Vancouver or wherever - and that is where you would find the problem is very critical, as those who live in some of the urban centres in Nova Scotia who have this problem in their backyard would certainly have a better sensitivity to the dynamics of the causes and the effects of the problems that we are dealing with.

I am concerned that the government is rather anxious to portray themselves as doing something very cavalier, very positive and very forceful in dealing with a rather serious issue here in Nova Scotia; taking the political credit and downloading on the municipal taxpayers of this province. I am sure that the HRM Council would certainly entertain some questions, certainly some answers, from this government as to what the cost of the legislation is. The government has explained what its intent is, but what is the cost?

[Page 2965]

Everything you do in government has an up side and a down side. Government has, because it is to its advantage, explained all the good things about the legislation. What about the side effects? What will happen in terms of the administration of this legislation? Is it going to become solely an administrative issue at the municipal level?

I am sure those members in the House who once sat on municipal council here in HRM would not be too anxious to have this piece of legislation come before them if they were sitting up across the street at City Hall. They would be the first down here complaining. I hear the honourable member for Sackville-Beaver Bank saying speak for yourself. He supports downloading on the Halifax Regional Municipality, well I say, shame on that member. Shame on him. This is a government that says that it consults before it acts; I spoke with the chief magistrate for the largest municipality in Nova Scotia, and he was not consulted. He wasn't consulted. So if that is the type of consultation that this government affords, then I would say shame on that member. My, my, amnesia has struck. From whence thou hast come. (Interruptions) Well, well.

Mr. Speaker, one thing that the honourable members over there will realize, like many members in the past of various political stripes, the municipal taxpayers vote provincially as well. That is one thing they do have a good measure of judgement on. So I would caution the honourable member for Sackville-Beaver Bank not to be too cavalier, not to be too bravado about this particular issue, because it will come back to haunt him. (Interruptions) Oh listen, little Rollie is getting in the picture again. Little Rollie is back on the drum. (Interruptions)

Mr. Speaker, I would invite these honourable members to stand in their place and explain to the people in their constituencies why they support downloading the cost of this legislation on to the municipal taxpayers. Well, we are shedding some light on the situation here anyway. But the honourable members are quite anxious to get to their feet to address this particular issue, so I have no problem, I will forfeit the rest of my time for them to take their place and speak on this particular piece of legislation. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth South.

MR. TIMOTHY OLIVE: Mr. Speaker, I rise to speak on an issue which has been applauded in many areas in the City of Dartmouth. Individuals in the north end have been calling for additional tools to try to fight this criminal activity that has been affecting areas in Dartmouth, particularly in Dartmouth North, for a number of years. In the area of North Dartmouth, around Windmill, Wyse, Dawson, Hester and Albro Lake, there has been established what you would call a main stroll. Unfortunately for those living on those streets, the two don't mix. The member for Dartmouth North publicly opposed this legislation when introduced on Tuesday, a bill aimed at ridding streets in his constituency of prostitution. (Applause)

[Page 2966]

MR. JERRY PYE: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order, if a member of this Legislative Assembly is going to comment, the member of the Legislative Assembly should not misspeak about another member of the Legislative Assembly unless the information is accurate and correct. (Interruptions)

Mr. Speaker, the point is, this member of the Legislative Assembly representing Dartmouth North voted in support of that bill going to the Law Amendments Committee so that all municipalities in the Province of Nova Scotia can come and all citizens can come and have a debate on this bill at the Law Amendments Committee. I did not in any particular way in this Legislative Assembly ever say that this bill or any other bill that affects the citizens of Dartmouth North should not be proclaimed legislation.

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you for the information.

The honourable member for Dartmouth South.

MR. OLIVE: Mr. Speaker, as I was saying, the member criticized legislation which would allow municipalities to seize the vehicles of johns, complaining the measure would only force prostitution off the street. Well, that is another concern, and one of the previous speakers mentioned that. It was a good point. A concern which is growing . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

[5:00 p.m.]

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: I realize that the member from Dartmouth North can certainly speak for himself, but the honourable member should note in Hansard, as I am sure you will yourself, Mr. Speaker, that is not what he said previously. He said the honourable member opposed the legislation. He didn't say he criticized it, he said he opposed it and to say anything to the contrary shows his lack of memory, or else he is misleading the House.

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you for the information.

The honourable member for Dartmouth South has the floor.

MR. OLIVE: As I was saying, while that certainly is another concern that it is being driven off the street, a concern which is growing because of the internet trade amongst other issues, not this legislation. The police have identified the e-mail prostitution trade as an increasingly complicated part of the issue of this illegal trade. However, Mr. Speaker, residents of north Dartmouth, especially the areas that I have mentioned, have been under siege. They have been working hard alongside of our police force for at least six years. Now, because of street prostitution, there are many and I would suggest a majority of residents,

[Page 2967]

homeowners, in Dartmouth North are very proud of their neighbourhood and very proud of the homes and the lives they have built for their families.

The same situation has existed in Dartmouth South and I am very pleased that this legislation will help curb - it won't solve the problems behind closed doors that the member from Halifax spoke about, but it certainly is a step in the right direction, and I am very pleased to be part of a government that is taking some steps to curb street prostitution in Dartmouth.

They have had very real and damaging issues to deal with. Issues I don't think either the honourable member for Dartmouth North or the member for Halifax Chebucto, who I might add, wishes to have legalized trade, would wish on their doorsteps. These include increased vehicular traffic, cars circling their streets looking for prostitutes, cars which are not only nuisances to small streets, but dangerous as well, Mr. Speaker. The neighbourhoods we are talking about are filled with young children, children who have had to have been educated on some pretty serious street-smarts over the last years. Children who have had their parents talk to them about johns, prostitutes, drugs and the details associated, in case they were approached. That is an awful situation when you have to give your child direction on how to respond around a prostitute and a john. Incredible.

Part of the important point in this vehicle seizure is to remove that environment from the streets of Dartmouth North and Dartmouth South and every other area of Dartmouth. Because the drug trade is often a factor in some of these transactions that take place on these streets, and families and those children have found various leftovers, including syringes and other paraphernalia. We know the health risks and dangers that could be associated with a child finding any of these articles. Can you imagine fearing for your child's return from the corner store or school because these johns can't always tell the difference between a kid and a prostitute since they are often one and the same. Wouldn't you want any tool to fight back and take back your neighbourhood? Well, I would and I think the people in Dartmouth South would as well, and in Dartmouth North.

The people of the area, people rightly pointed to by the member for Dartmouth North, Frances Hunter, Wayne Sitland, Susan Jones and the Dartmouth Police, counsellors like Clint Schofield and others like Mike Brownlow, when he was a principal in a nearby elementary school. These people have made a difference on their own and as a coordinated force in Dartmouth North, but have called on government to do its part to help. That is why this was part of our blue book. It was a commitment to help, even if it is in a small way. To his credit, and you know me, I am always available to spend credit where it is due, the Dartmouth North member did admit in the House, Tuesday, that, "If this in fact eliminates one more john, one more prostitute from frequenting that community, then in fact this legislation will have done its job." That is what he said and I think that is wonderful that he recognized that.

[Page 2968]

I want to also add that the Honourable Alan Abraham on behalf of the Board of Police Commissioners sent a letter requesting the government of the day to bring this legislation forward, Mr. Speaker. Women have marched to take back the night where they fear violence. Well, while the focus of my comments is a specific neighbourhood in Dartmouth, they are asking for their neighbourhood back and I am certain that if the trade simply moved to another part of town, that neighbourhood would want the same thing - to take their neighbourhood back. There are too many dangers out there, but this is so blatant and so established it has to be tackled head-on.

Mr. Speaker, there are a lot of issues when it comes to prostitution. The root causes of why those individuals, mostly young women, have chosen that trade as their only alternative, those are social concerns. However, those can still be tackled while addressing some very immediate and also very important issues which I have tried to outline.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, it is true that prostitution is a serious problem and I would like to start by saying in my work experience I have had an opportunity to work with a fair number of young women who were involved in prostitution. I think when the honourable member talks about the danger that is posed to people in communities, we need to keep foremost in our minds that the people who are subjected to the most danger from prostitution are the young women - and they are primarily young women - who, themselves, are involved in the sex trade. We have had in this municipality many deaths of women working on the streets and that really should be our primary concern here in this Legislature.

Mr. Speaker, I do not think there is a soul in this House this evening who is not fully aware that this legislation is nothing more than window dressing with respect to the prostitution problem and that what we have here is a very simplistic and totally unsatisfactory approach to what is a complex and often tragic problem and let's not forget that.

Mr. Speaker, in my community, the north end of Halifax, prostitution is a problem. It is a problem for people living as residents in neighbourhoods and it is a problem for women who are involved in the prostitution trade. It is a problem for legislators when confronted with the need to find solutions to this situation. This government reminds me increasingly of the Buchanan Government because the Buchanan Government, I believe, initiated an attempt to deal with prostitution on Hollis Street. That occurred back at a time when I was working at Dalhousie Legal Aid in the north end of Halifax. They failed miserably in that attempt to deal with this problem because they essentially did the same kind of thing. They used legislative approaches that exceeded their jurisdiction and we know that prostitution is a criminal matter and it is for the Criminal Code and the federal government, really, to legislate around. This approach that other provinces have looked for to find a way to empower municipalities to set

[Page 2969]

out by-laws has been tried over and over in this country, and every time that approach has been taken it eventually fails.

Now I think that if we were really serious about helping our communities and helping the residents who have concerns, and dealing with the women who are involved in prostitution, we would take quite a different approach. We would look at the underlying issues that drive people into work in the sex trade industry. You know it is truly well documented, well established what those reasons are. Many of the young women and men who are involved in prostitution have been abused sexually, physically, psychologically in their own families, by the people whose job it was to provide them with safety and security, and they have not been able to find that there. In some cases the streets are a safer place for them, a more accepting place for them, than their own families have been.

Many of these young people, and certainly the young people I worked with were people who were apprehended and made wards of the court, wards of the province. What did they find in that process? They often didn't find the loving home, the good environment, the kind of supportive services that would be required to help them overcome the difficulties they had experienced as children. What they found was institutional abuse, insecurity and being moved from one foster home to another. So we need to deal with these issues; we need to look at how we can provide better family environments for the young people who end up on the streets.

Mr. Speaker, many years ago when there were three young women, working on the street, murdered in a very narrow time-frame, I was a young social worker and, with many other people working in the social work field, we were very concerned about what we saw happening and the lives of these young people just wiped out in their early teens or late teens or early twenties. We organized and started the group that today we know as Stepping Stone.

This is a group that are so chronically underfunded by government - and they always have been - that the kind of work required to provide support and assistance to women who are looking for ways out of prostitution is not there. These people at Stepping Stone, these workers work very hard and they are very dedicated. They have more expertise on this issue than anybody else I know. I can tell you, they need to have an opportunity to come here and speak to this government, and other members of this Chamber, about how they feel about this legislation, what the impact of this legislation will be on the lives of the people they work with and whom they know very well because they see them on a regular basis.

We have a social welfare system in this province that is unbelievably inadequate with respect to the kind of assistance it will provide to certain groups of people. For example, young people between the ages of 16 and 19 have a very difficult time securing any kind of financial assistance whatsoever through the Community Services Department. This is a group who are particularly vulnerable to being enticed into prostitution when they are living in family situations where they are beaten or abused or neglected. That is something that this

[Page 2970]

government could be addressing, but no, that is not forthcoming. This is not a new idea. This is not some big insight. This is something that has been well established and is well known. It is known in the Minister of Community Services' Department among his staff. It would be known to any number of members over there on that side of the House through the work that they get in their constituency offices.

[5:15 p.m.]

Single people without dependent children are expected to find employment. That is fine, Mr. Speaker, if they have the skills, if they have the confidence, if they have the support to go out and get into the labour market, but no, we provide nothing to these people, absolutely nothing to these people. We condemn them to live in rooming houses, in over-crowded and very unhealthy conditions because the maximum shelter allowance we will provide to single people is $225 per month. I challenge any member on that side of the House to come in to Halifax Needham and parts of the urban core that has the largest number of single people on social assistance and find accommodations that people can get for those amounts of money. It cannot be done. The studies are there. It is well documented. What alternatives are you giving people with this kind of situation? You are not giving them any other alternative but to turn to the streets.

Let us talk about single parents, single parent women, the poorest group of people in our society and our province today. Do you know what this province gives a parent with a child between the ages of infancy to six years, to live on a day for food? How much money do we give a parent for a toddler for food a day in this province? Mr. Speaker, the princely sum of $2.44 a day. Members of this House get $45 a day when this House is sitting and we give a child in this province $2.44 a day for meals. That is what we give. Do you know what we give a single parent to clothe a toddler between infancy and six for a year? We give them $220 a year for clothing. Then we come here and we say we want to deal with prostitution in the community, and this is how we are going to do it? I don't think so.

So I would say to the members on the government side, we all are concerned about this very serious problem in our communities. We are all very concerned about the implications of having prostitution happening in our neighbourhoods. We would not only like to do something, but we have the responsibility to deal with this problem. It is a responsibility that goes beyond moving it around, from one neighbourhood into another. It is a responsibility that says, let's look at the underlying problem here and let's really deal with it and let's not try to fool any of the people who have been coming to talk to us about the serious problems they are facing that this legislation is going to do it because this legislation not only will not address the problem of prostitution, it will, in all probability, increase the danger for the women who are involved in prostitution; it may, in fact, increase danger for people in other residential areas.

[Page 2971]

I want to end with one final concern. In the last couple of days we have been reading in the news about a home invasion in a senior citizen's manor in the north end of Halifax, in my riding, in Gordon B. Isnor Manor. An elderly woman who lives in that manor on the ground floor, quite near the entrance, opened her door - she was coming back from getting the mail - and she was robbed. This is the second time it has occurred in a short period of time, in the last few weeks.

I have been talking to people in the tenants' association there, and, as well, I talk to people on a fairly regular basis in Sunrise Manor, which is another manor for seniors in the north end of Halifax. They are telling me that prostitution is occurring inside their buildings. If you think about it, Mr. Speaker, prostitution is not something that occurs just on the streets. We know this, this is well-established. It can occur anywhere. It can happen in high-rise buildings. This piece of legislation looks at the question of how to deal with prostitution in a residential neighbourhood and just move it someplace else, but it doesn't deal with the problem. This can move into areas - I guess that is my point - where there are other vulnerable people, like senior citizens in a high-rise apartment building or other areas.

I would say to the government that if you are serious about dealing with this problem, you will listen to people who have been working in the field on this, you will keep an open mind, you will demonstrate some real political will to deal with the problem and you will avoid the trap of your predecessors in the Buchanan era, who went down this road, very unsuccessfully, and were unprepared to deal with the real problems. So I think that concludes my remarks, Mr. Speaker. (Applause)

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

MR. RUSSELL MACLELLAN: Mr. Speaker, I want to say just a few words on this because I think it is important. The idea of preventing crime and allowing people to have free and enjoyable use of their property, I think is very important. Certainly prostitution does foster other crime and it is certainly an annoyance to many of the people who have property in areas where prostitution takes place. I think these things have to be considered and I think we have to work towards solving this problem.

There are a couple of things I want to mention just following on what the member for Halifax Needham has said about the social problem of prostitution. This is something that cannot be discounted; it is a very real problem. Prostitution, of course, is the result sometimes of abuse, young girls who have been abused go into prostitution and have problems for other reasons. To salvage these people really requires a sociological attitude and initiative. Certainly Community Services and this government have something to really work towards in that regard.

[Page 2972]

When we look at the Premier's statement today about the future and where monies are going to be needed, certainly this is one project which has to be considered when you are talking about getting people out of unemployment, out of Community Services' jurisdiction; but it requires a very definite program. I see the minister here today and I know that monies are always hard to find and it is not always popular to try to rehabilitate people who have been in prostitution. Nevertheless it is something that society has to consider because these are really young people who have a good deal of their lives ahead of them and it is a shame that this early activity will, in fact, ruin the rest of their lives. It is also a problem for which society is going to have to pick up the tab. It is unfortunate that we cannot really come to grips with this problem, one way or another, completely. That has never been the way over the thousands of years that prostitution has been a problem for society. We have never been able to address it completely.

What we have to do, though, is to do things which are going to be positive, which are going to have a positive result. I am not really sure this bill will have a positive result. Maybe there will be a deterrent - that is quite possible - but for how long? I think the concern that I have as a lawyer is that when you pass laws they should be good laws. They should not be laws that you cannot enforce, they should not be laws that are going to be ridiculed, they should not be laws that are going to be overturned and thereby creating a disrespect for the law generally but particularly in this area of prostitution.

I think that we have, as the guardians, so to speak, of a certain aspect of society, and that is the creation of laws, an obligation to make sure that the laws we pass are considered favourably. Not all laws are going to be considered favourably because a lot of people are going to be negatively affected by the laws that we pass, but generally speaking in society I think it is important that at least people will be able to say, I don't like this law but there is a genuine case for bringing this law forward. I can see that there is an aspect of society that would really want this law. What I do not really feel is constructive is that we bring laws forward that are not going to be constructive, that are not going to do the job.

I think that in this case what we have is a law that first of all is unconstitutional. This has been said before in this debate and I think that most of us here genuinely believe it is unconstitutional. Prostitution and criminal law is an aspect of the federal government and the only province to bring in laws similar to this has been Manitoba. I do not know how many cars they have sold; my understanding has been just one, that they have confiscated I think 40 or 80, but they have a john school and they also have the ability or criteria that your car will not be sold if you pay a fine, of say $400. So, they have moved away from the law. They brought this law in place where, if you are convicted, you will have your car confiscated. Now they have moved away from it because they feel it is harsh. It really, in effect, provides a disrespect for the law.

[Page 2973]

[5:30 p.m.]

I do not say that people who indulge in prostitution as johns or whatever should not be punished, that there should not be laws to, in fact, mete out sanctions. The confiscation of the car is something we have to consider. Is that something we can really make stick? What does it do to the johns' families?

I remember one fellow telling me he was driving along the street and saw this girl talking to this man through the window of a car, and she was taking notes. Then she left and jumped into his car. It turned out she was a prostitute, and she was soliciting; there she was in the front seat. She made her case, and the fellow said, no thank you. The fact of the matter is she was in the car and she was propositioning this guy because he had his door unlocked. If someone had seen this, would this person have been charged? Quite possibly. Would this person have had his car confiscated? Quite possibly. Would he have had to pay the charges of maintaining the storage of his car? Yes. He would have his car back if found not guilty, but there is no assurance he would have been found not guilty. There is no assurance that he would have gotten his car back if this was the case. I do not know if you still have to pay the charges or not if you are found guilty, of storage of the car.

This is something you have to consider. Is this really something we want to enact? Is this something that is going to give respect for the law? I would say that this is something we have to think about. We are downloading, of course, onto the municipality, and the Halifax Regional Municipality is not in favour of this. I understand why. It is going to put it up to them to have to pass this by-law or not. I do not think they will, but you never know. They are capable of some strange things.

The fact of the matter is that they are opposed to it. I have a real problem with this. I would say, let us take it to the next stage and bring in people who would want to comment on this. I think there are many in this assembly who favour this. I think that is unfortunate. The fact is, let us have a fair hearing in committee.

The other feature is that this government promised to do this. They are going ahead with it because they promised it. That is fine to keep your political promise, but a bad law is on the books for a long time until it is overturned. Do we want to wait until this is overturned before it is taken out of our laws? Manitoba has not had their bill challenged, so it is still there as far as I know. I think they have realized the law is not constitutional, but it hasn't been challenged. I think they realize that it is not workable. It is not respected, and that is why they have the $400 buy-back provision.

I find it really distasteful to put in a law because, without proper research, a government promised to enact it. Had they done the proper research, I am sure they would not have made this promise, but now we are stuck with having to deal with a bill on a piece of legislation that is not going to be what is needed and what should be enacted.

[Page 2974]

I would like to see this re-examined. I feel there should be a lot of interest in this in committee, I would hope there would be. I would hope that proper time would be allotted to people who would want to come to make some presentations. I would hope that the government would look at laws as being really something that has got to do the job, got to be able to make a difference and make a difference as stated in the law itself, not something you have to whittle back and find a secondary way of dealing with it. I would hope, too, that they would examine the constitutionality of this before it is put into effect and someone challenges it and the law is struck down.

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

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, I must say I had not really intended to speak on this, but in view of the comments of the member for Dartmouth South, I was roused to get to my feet. The reason for that is not because I felt that the comments were in any way constructive, in fact quite the opposite, and I am actually quite dismayed they would take the opportunity on a serious bill like this to do nothing more than what I would consider to be partisan snipping. That was the whole purpose of that. I think it is time that he understood and that he learned a little bit about the history of this issue in his own constituency and in his own community because he clearly does not understand it.

Mr. Speaker, I was on Dartmouth City Council with the member for Dartmouth North and I remember the member for Dartmouth North standing up on this issue in council time after time in public meetings, in forums in his own community, and was the member for Dartmouth South there? No. I remember the member for Dartmouth North voting in council for money to increase policing in that community. I remember the member for Dartmouth North voting money into local community initiatives to help deal with that problem in that community. I remember those meetings in north Dartmouth and did the member for Dartmouth South ever show up? No, never saw him.

Sometimes, Mr. Speaker, the Dartmouth City Council chambers, on this issue, would be so crowded you could barely jam another person in there, and was the member for Dartmouth South ever there? Not as far as I can recall. I never saw him and he certainly never spoke to council on the issue. So he should not lecture the member for Dartmouth North about his stand on this issue because the member for Dartmouth North knows what he is talking about when clearly the member for Dartmouth South does not.

Mr. Speaker, I had the opportunity to serve with the member for Dartmouth South on the Board of Directors of the Downtown Dartmouth Development Corporation, a corporation that deals with a lot of the issues in downtown of which this is one. Did he ever mention it? Not that I recall. He never raised it. So he does not want to be lecturing a person who has been working for years in the north Dartmouth community, for the benefit of that community, on this issue.

[Page 2975]

Mr. Speaker, I was there and worked, and I have to say at the time that I was on Dartmouth City Council, my ward encompassed part of that area that was affected by this issue. I remember working with the residents who used to go out on patrol in their neighbourhoods with flashlights, they used to use water guns, squirt guns, working throughout that community to try to move people along and trying to deal with the issue. It was very difficult for those people. The effect of this issue on that community has a long and, I must say, unsuccessful history because we haven't been able to deal with the problem. The reality is, and I want it to be very clear, we are supporting this legislation going to the Law Amendments Committee so there can be a full examination of the bill, and so that we have the opportunity to hear from people on the issue and see whether or not it is worthwhile supporting in its final form.

The member for Dartmouth South talks about inviting Wayne Sitland, and I have known Mr. Sitland for many years and I have worked with him on this and other issues. I know darn well that what Mr. Sitland wants is effective laws that will deal with this problem and this is - well this we don't know, we are going to listen, we are going to hear, we are going to consult, and we will see whether this works.

The reality though, Mr. Speaker, and I want to be frank with the member because I know this and I think that he knows it too, that there isn't one answer and there isn't going to be one answer to this problem. The reality is that we have to deal with a broad range of issues that affect the lives, not only of the residents, but of the participants in the trade. So this particular piece of legislation, it is highly unlikely that it will affect in any way the neighbourhoods that are afflicted with this particular problem.

I think that what we have to do - and I believe that this was part of what was said both by the Leader of the Liberal Party and by my colleague, the member for Halifax Needham - is we have to deal in the final analysis with the root causes of this problem and not simply with its most obvious manifestations. That is what we have to do and - do you know something? - to date we have seen absolutely no evidence of the willingness of this government to deal with those roots causes, and the reality is that the communities like Dartmouth North, or the north part of Dartmouth I should say, parts of Dartmouth South, the core area of Halifax-Dartmouth, those communities will not see a full resolution to this problem until we start to address the problems of inequality, the problems of poverty at their most basic level because the reality is, Mr. Speaker, many people who are drawn into that trade believe that they have no other option, they have no other choice. It is one of the true tragedies of our country and of our community that young people are often the earliest victims and the earliest prey of this tragedy.

I wanted to take the opportunity just to comment for the benefit of the other members of this House so they would know that in fact when it comes to legislation like this, it is people like the member for Dartmouth North, who has been working in his community for years, who will ultimately find the solution to this problem. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

[Page 2976]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants East.

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: I will be brief, Mr. [Deputy] Speaker. I know that in your previous career - I mean prior to being involved in the previous Liberal Government - that as an educator, and I was as well and I like to think on my good days I was and I think most members here can think of or relate to the notion that at school there would be such a thing as Career Day and people would come and they would have little posters or bulletins or kiosks or whatever and they would promote whatever profession they were involved in. In the 15 years that I was a school teacher, we never had a prostitution booth and there was nobody in the school population who ever asked me about prostitution or wanted me to promote it as a career choice. So it seems to me that members opposite can never really walk in another person's shoes.

[5:45 p.m.]

They never seem to have had the ability to recognize the effect of their actions on somebody else, or the origin or the route or how somebody actually gets to where they are today and the rough road that it might have taken to get there or even if that person really wants to be there when they get there. Do you ever stop to think what that really means in the real world, at the end of the day, when you call the day done.

I think for the members of the government, they would be well advised to not look at this as a symptom, or not look at this as a complete act, but look at the causes of the act. People wind up in this profession, if we can call it that, through many different routes, none of which I would assume would be particularly pleasing. I think that if they want to bring in a piece of legislation like this, one thing they might want to do, and I think my honourable colleagues have spelled this out, is check whether or not it is proper under the Constitution. You are applying a penalty to a piece of law that is controlled by the federal government and you are putting a penalty on that and whether or not that will even stand up in court. I think if you are going to bring in legislation - and this affects all of us in this House because people out there are not going to really distinguish between members of the government and members who are not of the government. When I am in my community, people say to me, well, you are part of the government. Now I would like to be part of government some day but I am not eager to be part of that government. (Applause)

So, in closing, Mr. Speaker, one of the hurdles that we might want to consider that would affect anybody getting out of prostitution would be, what are the avenues that would allow them? Usually some dollars to work with would be one thing but opportunity would be another. Even in the case of the Nova Scotia Community College, there were 15,000 applications in 1998 and just slightly over 6,000 people were accepted to the Nova Scotia Community College. Therefore, for people who are trying to enter other avenues of employment, along with all the other obstacles that have already been mentioned this evening, there is really no place for them, competition is so stiff to get into those placements.

[Page 2977]

I would ask the members of the government to look at this question and many questions in the overall scheme of things and how it really affects people and what they can do in a number of avenues that could rid Nova Scotia of this problem and improve the lives of everybody affected. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Sackville-Beaver Bank.

MR. BARRY BARNET: Mr. Speaker, I will be brief. I hesitate to wade into this debate, however, there are a couple of points that need to be clarified further. First of all, there has been some discussion here on the floor about this piece of legislation actually downloading financial responsibility onto the municipalities. In fact, that is not the case. It simply allows the municipality, if it so desires, to establish a by-law to do this. There is nothing that requires it. It is an option that the Halifax Regional Municipality can take, if they so desire, and obviously, if enacted, will be something that the municipality will debate at a future date. Therefore, I remind members of this House and the Province of Nova Scotia that this is not a case of downloading.

The other thing I would like to remind members of is that in the Province of Nova Scotia there is only one taxpayer. We, as elected officials, must remember that from time to time. The same person who pays municipal taxes is the same person who pays federal taxes, is the same person who pays provincial taxes. So, quite frankly, whether we are downloading or uploading or whatever we are doing, it all comes down to the one, same individual. We, as elected officials, in all three levels, have to be mindful of that. I will assure members of this House that our Party is certainly that.

The second point I would like to raise is the issue surrounding the NDP caucus position on this issue. Quite frankly, I am somewhat confused and I think so are the people of the Province of Nova Scotia. I have here a newspaper report from the Halifax Mail Star, dated March 4, 1999. It quotes the member for Halifax Chebucto and I will read into the record, "Howard Epstein favours regulating prostitution and setting up zones where it can take place." Mr. Speaker, that is not exactly what we heard here today, but it is not what we heard from anybody. Quite frankly, it is coming in all different directions. It would be important for the NDP caucus to point out to this House and to all Nova Scotians their position on this issue, because, quite frankly, we have not seen anything from them other than criticism.

MR. SPEAKER. Will the honourable member entertain a question?

The honourable member for Cape Breton West.

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the honourable member entertaining the question. The honourable member has indicated that there is no difference between the municipal, provincial or federal taxpayers, but would the honourable member not agree that municipal taxation is far more regressive than provincial taxation, certainly since

[Page 2978]

the provincial taxation is on a sliding scale and municipal is not. Whether or not you have a job, if you are assessed municipally, you have to pay that property tax, whereas provincially, if you have a job and you make a lot of money, you pay a lot of tax, and if you do not have a job, you do not pay tax. Would you not agree there is a critical difference?

MR. BARNET: Mr. Speaker, it was not much of a question. Quite frankly, it has very little to do with the topic. The point I was trying to make was the fact that they are all the same person, and, quite frankly, it really does not matter. The issue here that we are talking about is taxation. The issue here is what this government and any government can do to help resolve an enormous problem in parts of this municipality. I find it difficult (Interruptions)

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order, the previous speaker was saying there are no implications and so on here for taxpayers. If this legislation passes and, of course, there is downloading to the municipality, and the municipality has to develop by-laws and enforce those by-laws, there are cost factors involved. Certainly, it is not correct to mislead and suggest that there is at least some kind of an implication for taxpayers.

MR. BARNET: It is unfortunate that the member was not here when I was giving my entire speech. He obviously missed an important point. To get back to the issue here. The members opposite, and many spoke very passionately on this issue. Quite frankly, I know exactly what many of them are dealing with. I have seen it. I have witnessed it here on the streets of Halifax. Quite frankly, it is disgusting.

Mr. Speaker, I guess the people of the province really need to know clearly from the NDP caucus where they stand because in this article they stand on one side of the street, and over here in this House, they stand on the other side of the street. So, I would like the NDP caucus to clarify for the people of Nova Scotia whether they are in favour of regulating and zoning prostitution or whether they are in favour of laws and regulations that will prohibit that from happening. If they could be clearer to the people of Nova Scotia and this House, it would do all of us a whole lot of good so that we can understand what position they are taking. Thank you very much.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

MS. EILEEN O'CONNELL: Mr. Speaker, in the couple of minutes that are left, I think it is really important for us to understand what actually is going on here. There is a kind of obtuseness going around on the other side of the House about what it is we are saying here. (Interruption) There is an issue here around what it is the NDP caucus is saying about this particular provision in this bill. I think it is really important not to abuse the discussion and not to reduce it to a laughing matter because it is anything but, and not to say, well, let's find out if the NDP is contradicting itself or whatever because here is what we are saying. We are saying that it is a truly unfortunate thing that this bill contains a provision that comes in at the end of a social cycle, that is complex, rampant, manifest and for which successive

[Page 2979]

governments on both sides of the House, have not shown a glimmer of understanding, a glimmer of support for remedying or a glimmer of an indication of adequate funding to deal with the social problems that create it. Notwithstanding . . .

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order, is the honourable member for Halifax Fairview suggesting that we should adopt a similar policy to what the NDP did in British Columbia, where they took money from the Department of Community Services and bought cellular telephones for the prostitutes so that if they got in trouble with their johns, then they could call for help? Is that the type of policy we would expect from the NDP?

MR. SPEAKER: That is not a point of order.

MS. O'CONNELL: Mr. Speaker, what I am saying to the other members of this House on both sides of the House is that our speakers have addressed themselves to the lack of remedy throughout the whole social process. However small and semi-useless, perhaps even useless as it is, because we feel the importance of the issue and because we see an opportunity to discuss it further and maybe educate the members on the government side of the House, we are perfectly prepared to let this bill go through second reading and go to the Law Amendments Committee, so that people who know the issue can come to these members and enlighten them on a real and complex social matter, a social problem that a government should address itself to with compassion, understanding, knowledge and wisdom. Thank you.

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

MR. BRIAN BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, when I sit here and I listen to all the debate, I believe the issue is getting more confused by the moment. Being the Municipal Affairs Critic for my caucus, I am also concerned with downloading. Despite what some members across the floor indicate, this is clearly a download and there is a cost related to this. The cost is going to be borne by a particular unit.

During the election campaign, after the election campaign and in this House . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Would the honourable member like to adjourn debate?

MR. BOUDREAU: I adjourn debate, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Lunenburg West.

MR. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, I want to, if I can, make a statement. Although I did not use the word "hate" today, as was suggested by my colleagues opposite, my comments may have left a perception about the members opposite and, for that, I would like to withdraw that statement. As members in this House realize, as a former Minister of

[Page 2980]

Aboriginal Affairs, I take this issue very seriously. I want to thank the Chair for allowing me to make that statement. Thank you. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: I was asked to review Hansard in regard to the matter but is it agreed that the matter is resolved?

It is agreed.

Thank you.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Yes, Mr. Speaker, we will be sitting tomorrow at the hour of 10:00 a.m. We sit until 1:00 p.m. The order of business will be, Public Bills for Second Reading and we will commence with Bill No. 30 and then Bill Nos. 31, 32, et cetera.

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

MR. SPEAKER: We have now reached the moment of interruption. The resolution to be debated:

"Therefore be it resolved this Tory Government start waking up to the health, education and social deficits faced by the 1,342 children born in poverty under this Tory Regime."

ADJOURNMENT

MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5)

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

COMMUN. SERV. - CHILD POVERTY (17/08/99 ON):

DEFICIT - ADDRESS

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, it is with honour that I have an opportunity to debate this issue in this House. It is an issue that has been of great concern to many in this province and in this country for many years. I think it has become a much bigger issue and a much more difficult issue in the last few years, mainly because of government's, in some ways action and in some ways inaction. Obviously this is an issue that became a political debate in 1989.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. There is much too much noise in the Chamber to hear the speaker. I would ask you to take your conversations outside, thank you.

[Page 2981]

The honourable member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage has the floor.

MR. DEVEAUX: Back in 1989 in the federal Parliament there was a resolution brought forward by then Leader of the NDP, Ed Broadbent, and unanimously endorsed by every Party and every member of the House at that time, recognizing that we should be attempting to eliminate, and should eliminate, child poverty by the year 2000. Unfortunately we have actually gone in the wrong direction since that time. It has actually grown, and grown much worse than it was at that time.

Quite frankly, Mr. Speaker, if I can sum this up in one sentence, it is this: that Nova Scotia as a whole, every Nova Scotian suffers when we have children who are in poverty. That is really what this is about. The problem with this government and the attitude of the last 10 or even 20 years of governments in this province has been to exacerbate the problem and to make it worse for children. We have actually seen an increase in the number of children who are in poverty.

I want to mention a few statistics. I am sure many members across the way may not know this and I hope they recognize the fact that this year, in the annual report on child poverty in Canada, Nova Scotia had the highest child poverty rate in Canada. No longer was it Manitoba and I think back in 1989 it was Newfoundland - it is Nova Scotia, at over 22 per cent of all children in this province in poverty. That works out to over 50,000 children. That would be equivalent to, in some cases, three or four provincial ridings the size of an entire federal riding with regard to exactly how many children are in poverty. You think about that and think about how that impacts on this province.

A couple of other statistics. Single parent families headed by a female, 70 per cent of those families are in poverty and of course the children are in poverty; 36 per cent increase in child poverty in Nova Scotia since 1989. Those are very harsh statistics. It is even worse if you are a visible minority family in this province; over 50 per cent of families with the head of the family who is a visible minority have child poverty. It is not one area of this province, it is all areas. Anyone who has driven around or walked around parts of this province see the poverty, whether it be rural poverty, whether it be suburban poverty or whether it be urban poverty, it is everywhere and, quite frankly, it is a black eye on this province and how we deal with it.

What is the impact? Well, in social terms it is poor health; it is children whose health is worse and the difficulties that go with that. It is learning disabilities; it is an inability for them to be able to learn as easily and that in fact leads to a much higher drop-out rate for children who are in poverty. Do you know what, not just the social costs - maybe I will put it in terms this government might understand - it is also economic costs. Increased health care for those children when they grow up. Increased costs of having to retrain and to educate at a later age or, in turn, the cost of Community Services having to provide them with assistance. It is also the social and civic costs that go with it. There are justice costs that go

[Page 2982]

with it, the cost of people who we jail who probably could be good, law-abiding citizens if we invested in them at an earlier age. Quite frankly also it is a lower tax base. It is people who are not earning as much money because they did not have the opportunity as children to have the same opportunities as other children. Quite frankly, what we are doing is recognizing that the short-term expedient cost savings of not providing for these children is better than the long-term costs of investing in them and that is wrong. That is a problem we have had in this province for a long time.

So what are the reasons for child poverty? There are many. Let me give you a few. Deregulation of the labour market in a way that results in much poorer paying jobs, results in a chronic unemployment rate in this province of over 10 per cent. Now maybe it is not in the Halifax area, but for most of Nova Scotia, it is still high. In fact, in some places it is 20 per cent or 30 per cent and, do you know what, Mr. Speaker, here is an interesting statistic. In 1989, 90 per cent of all Nova Scotians who were unemployed were getting unemployment insurance and, therefore, were able to have assistance at a decent level. Do you know it is only at 50 per cent right now? That is a massive change in how we deal with the unemployed and that is a massive change in why we have child poverty.

The gap between the rich and poor has grown and that is all based on some of the things I noted earlier. That is another reason why we continue to have an increase in child poverty and it is these systematic changes that this government has not tried to address and will not try to address. They have said nothing in their Speech from the Throne, in their fall budget, or leading up to this budget, Mr. Speaker, to give anyone any reassurance that child poverty is an issue that will be dealt with, that we will see those statistics turn around.

Quite frankly, you know, when this government talks about a vision, when it writes papers like it did today, Mr. Speaker, talking about a vision for government and government's job, we hear words like self-reliance and getting them off support from Community Services. Do you know what would be a good vision? How about acknowledging that in the next 10 years we will cut in half the child poverty rate in this province? How about acknowledging that in 20 years - and this is being recognized in England, they are going to do it in the United Kingdom - we will eliminate child poverty?

That is the kind of vision it took back in the 1970's when we addressed poverty amongst the elderly and we have gone a long way towards addressing that, but with children we have not and we continue to allow it to get worse, not better. Quite frankly, from this government, I would at least expect a vision that said we will at least turn around and not increase the amount of people on child poverty, but try and reduce it. Even that simple, little vision would be an improvement over what we have.

So, Mr. Speaker, this whole idea of self-reliance and reducing the rolls of welfare is a simple solution so the government would suggest, but I will tell you what it is. It is this belief again in the slash and burn mentality over the growing and investing in our economy. It is this

[Page 2983]

belief that we can balance the books by cutting government spending and, therefore, on paper we have achieved something but, in fact, it will only result in a lower tax base for this province, more children in poverty, more children who have to pay for higher health care costs, higher retraining costs, more children who are dropping out. These are the long-term costs and instead of this government talking about short-term slash and burn of the government's expenditures, they should be looking at long-term investment in our children.

What do I mean? Let's talk about some specifics. Let's talk about a "Four-plus" Program across this province that would ensure a basic start, an early childhood education. Let's talk about more intervention in early childhood education so children are able to achieve more when they do enter Primary. Let's talk about more preventative health care so that children have an opportunity to be as healthy no matter what age they are. Let's talk about post-secondary education. Let's talk about investing in that so more people have an opportunity to get ahead, to get good paying jobs, to pay more taxes and to grow our economy, not cut it, not burn it, but to grow our economy.

That is what we have got to do. We have got to recognize that long-term investment is much more important than the short-term wasteful cuts that we have coming from this government. Until we change our attitude, until this government changes this attitude, Mr. Speaker, we will not accomplish it and we will continue to be the province with the highest rate of child poverty in Canada.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Community Services.

HON. PETER CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, I welcome the opportunity to join in the debate tonight because the honourable member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage is right - child poverty is a major problem. As we look the child poverty problem, members of this House are certainly aware that this has been a problem not just in Nova Scotia not just in Halifax, but a national problem and that as we work towards that solution, this government and governments before have looked at this as how you would solve this on a national basis.

One of the initiatives that has been happening about this to try to speak to that of course is the National Child Agenda. The National Child Agenda was a program that was worked out through the social union framework table being the provinces, the territories and the federal government to try to address this particular issue.

The honourable member mentioned that the focus back some years ago was on the seniors' program. When the social union table focused on the seniors' program some years ago, they were able to get initiatives and get some results that would bring the rate of seniors in poverty down. The challenge now is to do the same thing with the National Child Agenda and that is what they have been working towards.

[Page 2984]

I have the position of sitting on the social union framework table, the federal-provincial table as the representative from Nova Scotia. Our task is quite simply to try to make the National Child Agenda a vehicle that will cover all children across Canada to help them get out of poverty, to help them get an early start.

As that development and that initiative started, one of the initiatives that came forward was the early intervention program. We, our caucus and the government, had the opportunity to bring Dr. Fraser Mustard into Halifax back in September of last year. The question that we were asking him - and he had done some work in Ontario and Manitoba and British Columbia - is how can we speak more towards child poverty and what can we do to try to bring those initiatives here and what should we be looking at?

Dr. Mustard indicated to us at that time that the first few years of a child's development are the most important, they are the ones that develop the brain patterns, the brain cells and that you have to zero in and try to get in those years. The members of this House will be quite aware as we went through the budget debate last year, last year, we did several things, last year we took the six women's centres and we raised them by 50 per cent and the reason we did that was because the women's centres are delivering programs that are going to speak to children and speak to the early childhood.

The other significant part of that and what Dr. Mustard and the people of the women's centres will tell you is that in a lot of cases you have to work and help people with their lifestyles. They need help budgeting and they help with nutrition, they need help in getting a variety of services that might not be available so those women's centres provide them and understanding the fact that we wanted to speak towards the early childhood, early child intervention we put money into that.

Last fall we also announced that we were going to get 71 new social workers and we did that and we put them in the child protection side of things because we know that we have to have the ability for the caseworkers to speak to these children, to speak to the parents to help them when the need arises. It is not something that can wait until the time comes around and you can get that done.

I think I take a little exception with what the honourable member said a little bit earlier about the fact about getting people back in employment. As we have had the opportunity to speak to people at the women's centres and so on, the various places, that is what people want to do. They want to get independence, Mr. Speaker, they want to get back to work and the Department of Community Services is quite proud of the fact that we had over 4,000 people come off social assistance and go back to employment. But when you do that you have to assist those people properly.

[Page 2985]

Those people need things to get off social assistance and get back to employment. They need to know that their families are going to be taken care of and that is why we have Pharmacare with them. That is why we help with Pharmacare. People on social assistance have Pharmacare. Why are they going to go off social assistance and go back to work if they lose the Pharmacare? We have to help them with that. There has to be the ability to get them from being at home, to get them out working, they need to know that they are not going to find that their children needs expensive drugs next week and therefore they are left high and dry, so we have to work with them on that.

What we need also is to help them with child care. A lot of people can't leave their house, they can't go out because they don't have child care, so we have to help on those and right now the department has 1,250-odd subsidized child care spaces and we have to look at more. The Nova Scotia Council on Child Development and Child Care help us with that, they help us with areas of need. They help us where we need to have those because we know that people need assistance; they need assistance to get their lives back in order and they need assistance to get back to work, so we try to work with some of those.

Mr. Speaker, just for your information, for people on social assistance, this province spends $29 million a year on Pharmacare. That is how we help those people. We help them so they can stabilize their lives and try to get back to work.

[6:15 p.m.]

We had special needs last year for people with glasses, for wheelchairs, for all the dental work and other things; we spent $12 million. It is not as much as we could. We always need to do more but we wanted to speak to those people and say the system, the department, and the government is there to help you while you are in need, so you can get back to work.

We fund 125 community agencies that work towards helping people in need; helping them to work with their diets, trying to work with their lifestyles, helping them get their children early intervention, help them with the different programs, just to be there and support them. We fund 125 agencies and last year we spent $12.7 million on that.

Now the question the honourable member raised is there are more people coming into poverty and yes, that is true. We know that is true because at the national level that national problem is there. If you read the federal government's last budget, in the year 2004, Canadians, through the federal government, will be spending $9 billion on child development and child poverty. The provinces will be spending more. We know that is a major issue.

Manitoba's Minister of Community Services was in town last week. He is the Chairman of the Social Union Framework Table and we were talking just about those issues. In the Province of Manitoba they have identified fetal alcohol syndrome as the biggest issue that is affecting children and children's development. They estimate that that problem alone is going

[Page 2986]

to cost them $100,000 a year as the child goes in the system, because of that issue. So they have developed programs to try to speak to that issue.

In this province we have to do the same thing with Health. We have to develop programs that are going to speak to those issues. It is not only getting children out of poverty, but we recognize that they have to have the early start and that requires health; it requires dollars; it requires assistance to get back to work; it requires all the different services. There is no one case that we can say, here are cookie-cutters and each case is the same and we can treat them the same. We have to treat them differently. I am sure the honourable members, with the calls in their constituency offices, know that. Each call is unique, each call is different and we have to speak to them in that regard.

Are we doing enough? No, there is always more that can be done, Mr. Speaker. There are more programs and education, as we go forward with the education and the lifelong learning thing, we have to get people started early in childhood development so they are able to accept the challenges. We have to continue supporting those agencies that give children hot breakfasts, so they can go to school. We have to support those programs, the child aid services that look at the various programs they have, that look at the costs, that look at the needs they have and bring those out so that the children will get those.

As a government, we think because we have had the opportunity to speak to the Children's Aid Societies, because we have had the opportunity to go to talk to people, we think the best thing for people is to try to find them employment. That is why we are going in that direction. If you speak to the National Health Board that was just put out recently, one of the most serious things about people is that they don't have work and that causes more health problems. So, Mr. Speaker, in conclusion, yes, we have to do more. We have taken a number of steps along the way but we have to be able to bring these people back to work. We have to be able to give them a sense of direction so they can do it on their own. Thank you.

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

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, I thank the honourable member for introducing this particular resolution. I think it is a very timely resolution and a very important resolution. It affects all Nova Scotians and, in particular, those of us who are commissioned with the responsibility in public life to assist, wherever possible, to enhance and protect the opportunities for children in this province, we have that obligation to do so. More in particular, I think without affording any and every opportunity available to the children of today, we are only denying ourselves some of the good opportunities for tomorrow, because our children today are the leaders of tomorrow, they are our future and we have to take every opportunity, irrespective of their political background, their social background and their economic background.

[Page 2987]

We are blessed with living in a province like Nova Scotia. I agree with the minister, we do have problems and there are things that perhaps we could be doing that we are not doing. I certainly want to take a positive approach to this particular debate because I think, when we get right down to the meat and potatoes of issues like this, I believe the minister and all members of the House would certainly agree that if you are offering some constructive proposals or solutions, or suggestions at least, because the government may not always agree or may not always adopt them, I think that is far more positive than just simply criticizing. I believe the minister would agree with me. I certainly made my point very well known during the budgetary deliberations on an earlier day, on this particular issue, so I am not going to rehash some of the dynamics of that particular debate, because I think we have covered the spectrum quite forcefully.

There are a number of things that I believe the government could be doing. I realize that when you are in government you have to have policy and guidelines and certain frameworks that you have to adhere to or else the system starts to disintegrate and eventually there is a lack of coordination and, really, good policy initiatives that could be put forth.

If we look, for example, at the Oil Tax Rebate Program, now obviously I think the government by its own admission, and we would make that case because we tried it on a previous date, it has not been that successful. I guess the question I would ask is given the fact that it is not successful and it doesn't look like even by extending the deadline we are going to be able to deliver all that revenue opportunity to those in most need, perhaps the government could look at different avenues of being able to channel that money to the front lines so that if we are able to identify children who are at risk, or children who need that additional nutritional support, then I would suggest that perhaps the minister would look at ways to be able to get that money to the front lines, to the people who need it the most.

How that would work, I am not sure. Whether you do that through the local offices or if in fact there is some program that you could say, okay, we have a target area here of x number of tens of thousands of children in the province and we will make a one-time, lump-sum payment to each one equally. I am not sure if that is the answer, but it would be a way to get money in the hands of children who need that nutrition. If they have the nutritional value provided, then certainly they are going to be that much stronger for tomorrow.

Also, we saw the initiative that was commenced for the seniors' program, with the fishing licence. Well, it may not have been 100 per cent, and certainly we were critical of it on a previous date, the fact that the honourable member and the government did not do exactly what they said they were going to do when in Opposition but, given the fact that everything is a help and I do realize that there are some financial constraints, but look on the other side of the equation. The government is clawing back some $400,000 from 4-H Clubs across this province. We could take some of that money and certainly channel it to the children who are in most need. We could certainly look at the money that the government

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clawed back from the charity casinos, and perhaps there is some way that we could channel some of that to the front lines.

I know it is going to be tough for the minister, because he has a number of colleagues in Cabinet with him, they are all competing factions, everybody believes that his or her priorities are the most important, and that is why they are commissioned with those responsibilities. I think, given the circumstances that we are now faced with, certainly our caucus would support the Minister of Community Services in making issues like this a top priority because it is an investment in the future. It is an investment in our children, and the last thing we want is to see the proliferation of longer line-ups at food banks as we have been seeing over the last number of months and years.

I raised it on a previous day. I am quite distressed when you have employees within the Department of Community Services, perhaps it is because they do not have the money to really give what they, in their hearts, would like to give, but because of government policy or because the financial profile does not fit giving any more money, and yet these people may be, through their own fault or through no fault of their own, they just do not have the money to provide the nutritional elements to their children that really they should be or would like to. I get distressed when I see staff within the Department of Community Services, or at least it is reported to me more frequently than ever that they are being advised, clientele, to go to food banks. That to me is a downloading effect, the lowest common denominators.

I do not mean that in the negative sense towards the staff because I guess you have to walk a mile in their shoes because they are getting it from all sides, too. There is a requirement for an adjustment in government on how government is being administered and the demands keep growing.

In Cape Breton where I come from, there is an increase. I handled more files in December 1999, Mr. Speaker, than I did in the previous five years when I was in government. I handled more files in the month of December 1999, than I did for the five years between 1988 and 1994, six years if you want to include my short visitation between 1993 and 1994. I think the minister has touched on an important point as well, the fact that they have increased staff within the Department of Community Services. Yes, there are more caseworkers today than there were before, but that does not really identify their job description and their background. We are now employing more caseworkers, but we are not employing more social workers who understand and have the ability to go out and meet with the clientele on the front line and be able to do a proper assessment. I am speaking from experience. I do not want to go any further than that because I believe the minister is somewhat aware of one particular experience.

Another concern I have - but that is something perhaps some more interaction with senior staff and some workshops that could help some of the novice individuals on staff to better understand the dynamics without having to spend tremendous amounts of money that,

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really, we do not have to be able to employ an individual in a job description with a higher level of credentials, paying a higher premium, when we can get the same job done with other individuals with less extensive education. That does not diminish or belittle the ability of those individuals who are on staff, but simply, it is a fact of economics.

I realize my time is getting short. I do want to implore upon the minister one major concern I have is a possible policy change that may take place with the Department of Education. Education is key to helping children come out of poverty. A major policy change that may take place at the University College of Cape Breton, designating that particular university in a situation that may make it difficult for students attending that university to be eligible for student loans. Given the fact that 60 per cent of the students attending there receive student loans, if the designation factor that I am given to understand may apply in a university, over 25 per cent may not be eligible for students to get student loans there. I guess the minister knows what I am saying. It would be the kiss of death for that university, and in two years that university would close. I realize my time has expired, and I appreciate Mr. Speaker allowed me the extra seconds to make that point. It is a very important point given the difficult circumstances. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: I would like to thank the honourable members for the very interesting discussion this evening. Thank you.

We stand adjourned until 10:00 a.m. tomorrow.

[The House rose at 6:30 p.m.]