Assemblée Législative de la Nouvelle-Écosse

Les travaux de la Chambre ont repris le
21 septembre 2017

Hansard -- Tue., May 9, 2000

First Session

TUESDAY, MAY 9, 2000

TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE
PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS:
Educ.: Cuts - Oppose, Mr. D. Dexter 5249
Educ.: Cuts - Oppose, Mr. K. Deveaux 5250
Educ.: Cuts - Oppose, Mr. J. Pye 5250
Educ.: Cuts - Oppose, Mr. Robert Chisholm 5250
Educ.: Cuts - Oppose, Ms. Maureen MacDonald 5250
Educ.: Cuts - Oppose, Mr. J. Holm 5251
Educ.: Cuts - Oppose, Ms. Maureen MacDonald 5251
Educ.: Cuts - Oppose, Mr. H. Epstein 5251
Educ.: Cuts - Oppose, Mr. W. Estabrooks 5251
Agric. - Cuts: New Waterford Garden Club - Oppose, Mr. P. MacEwan 5252
Educ.: Cuts - Oppose, Mr. John MacDonell 5252
Health: Budget (2000-01) - Oppose, Mr. H. Epstein 5252
Health - Environmental Illness: Treatment Clinic - Support,
Mr. D. Dexter 5253
GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 1874, Educ. - Dal. Univ.: Hon. Degree-holders & Graduating
Class (2000) - Congrats., Hon. J. Purves 5253
Vote - Affirmative 5254
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS:
No. 53, Hilden Cemetery Act, Mr. B. Taylor 5254
NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 1875, Westray Mine Disaster ( Pictou Co. 09/05/92): Dead -
Remember, Mr. Robert Chisholm 5254
Vote - Affirmative 5255
Res. 1876, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - MADD: Anna. V. Rds. -
Initiative Congrats., Mr. R. MacLellan 5255
Vote - Affirmative 5256
Res. 1877, Tourism - Tulip Festival (2000 Internat.):
Truro [07-14/05/00] - Comm. Congrats., Hon. J. Muir 5256
Vote - Affirmative 5256
Res. 1878, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Marine Atlantic: Nfld. Ferry
(Cdn.-Built) - Opportunity Lost Regret, Mr. J. Holm 5257
Res. 1879, Prov. House - Racoon: Appearance (Legis. Tree) -
Recognize, Mr. Manning MacDonald 5257
Res. 1880, Nat. Res.: Forest Week (Natl. 07-13/05/00) - Endorse,
Hon. E. Fage 5258
Vote - Affirmative 5259
Res. 1881, Health - Lbr. Readjustment Strategy: Accounting -
Provide, Dr. J. Smith 5259
Res. 1882, P&P - Prog. Review: Report - Release, Ms. E. O'Connell 5259
Res. 1883, Econ. Dev. - Bristol Gp. (Hfx.): Communications
(Gold Award) - Congrats., Mr. K. MacAskill 5260
Vote - Affirmative 5261
Res. 1884, Health - Muscular Dystrophy: Scotsburn FD -
Assist. Applaud, Mrs. M. Baillie 5261
Vote - Affirmative 5261
Res. 1885, Educ. - Schools: Layoffs Consequences - Address,
Ms. Maureen MacDonald 5261
Res. 1886, Educ. - St. Peter's DHS (Scholastic Awards 2000):
Winners - Congrats., Mr. M. Samson 5262
Vote - Affirmative 5263
Res. 1887, Health - Budget (2000-01): Heartless - Reconsider,
Mr. D. Dexter 5263
Res. 1888, Educ. - NSERC (Can.) Research Award: Cordell Grant
(UCCB) - Congrats., Mr. R. MacKinnon 5264
Vote - Affirmative 5264
Res. 1889, Devco - Assets Sale: Bill (H of C) Closure - Condemn,
Mr. F. Corbett 5264
Res. 1890, Fin. - Budget (2000-01): Consequences - Seniors/
Soc. Assist., Mr. P. MacEwan 5265
Res. 1891, Health: LPN Day - Recognize, Mr. K. Deveaux 5266
Res. 1892, Agric.: 4-H Prog. - Salute, Hon. E. Fage 5266
Vote - Affirmative 5267
Res. 1893, Hfx. Chebucto - Voting (Legislature): Time - Budget,
Mr. D. Wilson 5267
Res. 1894, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Hwy. Workers: Concerns -
MLAs Listen, Mr. W. Estabrooks 5268
Res. 1895, Educ. - NSERC (Can.) Research Award:
Erin Brand (UCCB) - Congrats., Mr. B. Boudreau 5268
Vote - Affirmative 5269
Res. 1896, Culture - Music: Bluegrass Promotion - Congrats.,
Mr. B. Taylor 5269
Vote - Affirmative 5270
Res. 1897, Justice - Pub. Prosecution Serv.: Litigators (Sr.) - Recruit,
Mr. H. Epstein 5270
Res. 1898, Exco - Depts.: Quality Progs. - Access Ensure,
Mr. Manning MacDonald 5271
Res. 1899, Commun. Serv. - Disabled/Can. Paraplegic Assoc.:
Commun. Access Grants - Pressure Congrats., Mr. J. Pye 5271
Res. 1900, St. George's Church (Hfx.) - Preservation: Yard Sale -
Support, Dr. J. Smith 5272
Vote - Affirmative 5273
Res. 1901, Nat. Res. - Forestry: Mgt. Practices - Stakeholders Visit,
Mr. John MacDonell 5273
Res. 1902, NDP (N.S.) - Leadership Candidate (H. Bitter-Suermann):
Maps - Provide, Mr. M. Samson 5273
Res. 1903, Educ. - MSVU: Hon. Degrees - Elizabeth May &
Betty Peterson Congrats., Ms. E. O'Connell 5274
Res. 1904, Health - Funding Reinstate: Restructuring Fund - Use,
Mr. R. MacKinnon 5275
Res. 1905, Educ. - Mar. Provs. Robots East Comp. (Fredericton HS):
Mem. HS (Sydney Mines) - Congrats., Mr. F. Corbett 5276
Vote - Affirmative 5276
Res. 1906, Agric. - Budget (2000-01): Cuts - New Waterford
Garden Club-Opposition Commend, Mr. P. MacEwan 5276
Res. 1907, Atl. Premiers - Infrastructure Inadequacy: PM Reminded -
Congrats., Mr. K. Deveaux 5278,
Res. 1908, Educ. & Health - Dep. Mins.: Hiring Costs - Future Stop,
Mr. D. Wilson 5278
Res. 1909, Tourism - St. Mgts. Bay Rails to Trails: Joel Page
(Coordinator) - Congrats., Mr. W. Estabrooks 5279
Vote - Affirmative 5280
Res. 1910, Health - Min.: Cuts Truro - Unopposed, Mr. H. Epstein 5280
Res. 1911, Commun. Serv. - Disabled: Income Support -
Wait Unnecessary, Mr. John MacDonell 5281
ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS:
No. 660, Fin. - Budget (2000-01): Pharmacare Increase - Error,
Mr. R. Chisholm 5282
No. 661, Fin. - Budget (2000-01): Pharmacare - Figures Incorrect,
Mr. R. MacLellan 5283
No. 662, Educ. - Budget (2000-01): Cuts - Special Educ.,
Mr. Robert Chisholm 5284
No. 663, Health - Pharmacare: Premiums - Increase Justify,
Dr. J. Smith 5285
No. 664, Health: Lbr. Readjustment Strategy - Table, Mr. D. Dexter 5287
No. 665, Educ. - Textbooks: Monies - Reduction, Mr. D. Wilson 5288
No. 666, Health: Dart. Gen. Hosp. - Bed Closures, Mr. D. Dexter 5288
No. 667, Educ. - Budget (2000-01): Teachers (Perm. & Prob.) -
Employment Guarantee, Mr. W. Gaudet 5290
No. 668, Commun. Serv. - Budget (2000-01): Cuts -
Direct Assist. Prog., Mr. K. Deveaux 5291
No. 669, Educ. - Budget (2000-01): Cuts - Teachers' Aides,
Mr. W. Gaudet 5292
No. 670, Agric. - Budget (2000-01): Farmers - Future Guarantee,
Mr. John MacDonell 5293
No. 671, Fin.: Restructuring Fund - Uses, Mr. R. MacLellan 5294
No. 672, Devco - Assets Sale: Bill (H of C) - Action (N.S. [Gov't.]),
Mr. F. Corbett 5295
No. 673, Housing & Mun. Affs.: Accessibility Program - Intro.,
Mr. R. MacLellan 5296
No. 674, Agric. - Budget (2000-01): Cuts - Lay-Offs Postpone,
Mr. John MacDonell 5297
No. 675, WCB - Devco: Coal Miners - Compensate, Mr. R. MacKinnon 5298
No. 676, Educ. - Univs.: Governance - Policy, Ms. Maureen MacDonald 5299
GOVERNMENT BUSINESS:
PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING:
No. 46, Financial Measures (2000) Act 5300
Amendment [debate resumed] 5300
Mr. F. Corbett 5300
Subamendment moved 5309
HOUSE RECESSED AT 2:33 P.M. 5309
HOUSE RECONVENED AT 2:37 P.M. 5309
Ruling: Out of Order 5309
Mr. W. Gaudet 5310
Ms. E. O'Connell 5317
Mr. K. MacAskill 5329
Mr. Robert Chisholm 5338
Mr. Manning MacDonald 5350
Adjourned debate 5352
ADJOURNMENT:
MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5):
Nat. Res. - Forestry: Industry Sustainable - Support:
Mr. K. MacAskill 5352
Hon. E. Fage 5355
Mr. John MacDonell 5357
GOVERNMENT BUSINESS:
PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING:
No. 46, Financial Measures (2000) Act 5359
Amendment [debate resumed] 5359
Mr. Manning MacDonald 5359
Mr. W. Estabrooks 5372
Adjourned debate 5381
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Wed., May 10th at 2:00 p.m. 5382

[Page 5249]

HALIFAX, TUESDAY, MAY 9, 2000

Fifty-eighth General Assembly

First Session

12:00 P.M.

SPEAKER

Hon. Murray Scott

DEPUTY SPEAKERS

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

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Before we begin the daily routine, the subject for this evening's late debate was submitted by the honourable member for Lunenburg West.

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House support a sustainable forest industry.

That will be heard this evening at 6:00 p.m.

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

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

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition on behalf of the residents of the Heatherton area with the operative clause which reads, "We, the undersigned, protest a reduction in the Public Education Budget recently announced by the Minister of Finance. These cuts will have a devastating impact on the students of the province." It contains 170 signatures and I have affixed my signature.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

5249

[Page 5250]

The honourable member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage.

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition on behalf of 90 residents of Meteghan. The operative clause states, "We, the undersigned, protest a reduction in the Public Education Budget recently announced by the Minister of Finance. These cuts will have a devastating impact on the students of the province." I have affixed my signature.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

MR. JERRY PYE: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition on behalf of the Northbrook Elementary School parents. The operative clause reads, "We the undersigned oppose the Provincial Department of Education's proposed cuts to education funding. We believe that such cuts will damage an already fragile education program and severely diminish the opportunity for a healthy and rewarding education for our children." There are 435 signatures on this petition and I have affixed mine.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition signed by 363 Nova Scotians. It was submitted to me by the Digby Neck Consolidated School Council. The operative clause reads, "We the undersigned wish to inform the Minister of Education, our M.L.A. Mr. Gordon Balser and all other members of the Nova Scotia Provincial Legislature that the people of Digby Neck will not tolerate the total destruction of our school system, our communities and our rural way of life." I have shown support by affixing my signature to these petitions.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition signed by 92 residents in the Monastery area in Antigonish County. The operative clause reads, "We, the undersigned, protest a reduction in the Public Education Budget recently announced by the Minister of Finance. These cuts will have a devastating impact on the students of the province." I have affixed my signature.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

[Page 5251]

The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I, too, beg leave to table a petition today. This is signed by 87 residents from the Neil's Harbour area and it was provided by Cabot High School. The operative clause of the petition reads, "We, the undersigned, protest a reduction in the Public Education Budget recently announced by the Minister of Finance. These cuts will have a devastating impact on the students of the province. We demand the Premier reinstate Public Education Funding." In support of this petition, I have affixed my signature.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition that comes from the Havre Boucher Consolidated School: 51 Nova Scotians have signed this petition, the operative clause being, "We, the undersigned, protest a reduction in the Public Education Budget recently announced by the Minister of Finance. These cuts will have a devastating impact on the students of the province." I have affixed my signature to this petition.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.

MR. HOWARD EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, I also beg leave to table a petition. It is signed by 120 residents of Yarmouth and surrounding area. The operative clause reads, "We, the undersigned, protest a reduction in the Public Education Budget recently announced by the Minister of Finance. These cuts will have a devastating impact on the students of the province." I have affixed my signature in support of this petition.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect.

MR. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to introduce a petition on behalf of the residents of Yarmouth. The operative clause is, "We, the undersigned, protest a reduction in the Public Education Budget recently announced by the Minister of Finance. These cuts will have a devastating impact on the students of the province." There are 140 signatures and I have affixed my name to the petition.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

[Page 5252]

The honourable member for Cape Breton Nova.

MR. PAUL MACEWAN: Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the members of the New Waterford Garden Club, I beg leave to table a petition expressing their sadness and distress over the many cutbacks, particularly in the disappearance of the Production Technology Branch of the Nova Scotia Department of Agriculture and Marketing contained in the budget. The operative clause reads, "As a Garden Club, we have gained useful information, particularly from the Landscape and Ornamental Specialist and the Greenhouse and Home Garden Specialist." Their services are now to be withdrawn from the garden club which we feel will be very detrimental to our continued operations. I have affixed my signature to this petition and endorse its content.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Agriculture and Marketing on an introduction.

HON. ERNEST FAGE: Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to introduce to the House, in the gallery opposite, the President of the Nova Scotia Pork Producers Association, Lester Palmer and Executive Director, Henry Vissers. I would ask that the House give them a warm welcome when they rise. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants East.

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition from the Parent-Teacher Association for Dr. Hugh MacPherson Elementary School in Antigonish, the operative clause, "We, the undersigned, protest a reduction in the Public Education Budget recently announced by the Minister of Finance. These cuts will have a devastating impact on the students of the province. We demand the Premier reinstate Public Education Funding." There are 196 signatures and I have affixed my signature in support.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.

MR. HOWARD EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, I wish to table a petition from 76 residents in my district, Halifax Chebucto, the operative clause reads as follows, "We Seniors at 7001 Leppert Street, Halifax are not pleased with the new budget concerning Health issues. Adding another $25 for ambulance and 13% to the Senior's health insurance is putting an even bigger burden on the shoulders of those least able to pay. We've had enough and we're not going to take it anymore!!!!" I have affixed my signature in support of this petition.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

[Page 5253]

The honourable member for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour.

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition to support a full-time treatment clinic for environmental illness in Nova Scotia by residents throughout the province, the operative clause which reads, "WE, the undersigned, wish to firmly express our support for (1) More physicians training in Environmental Medicine, and (2) a full-time Environmental Medicine treatment clinic service here in Nova Scotia, that will use treatment protocols and procedures that are accepted and widely used internationally within the field of Environmental Medicine." There are 300 signatures and I have affixed my signature in support.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

[12:15 p.m.]

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Education.

RESOLUTION NO. 1874

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

Whereas Dalhousie University will confer 11 honorary degrees at its spring convocation; and

Whereas the honorees, Robert Ackman, Ewart Blanchard, Fred Fountain, Richard Goldbloom, Patricia Hyndman, John Edward Kean, Greg Macleod, Robert Macneil, Stewart McInnes, Nigel Rodley, Joe Schlesinger, are gifted and distinguished individuals; and

Whereas the granting of Doctor of Laws recognizes the outstanding contributions that these individuals have made in their respective fields;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this Legislature congratulate Dalhousie University, its honorary degree holders, and the graduating class of 2000 for their noteworthy accomplishments in education.

[Page 5254]

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.

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

Bill No. 53 - An Act to Amend Chapter 94 of the Acts of 1957. An Act to Incorporate Hilden Cemetery of Hilden in the County of Colchester. (Mr. Brooke Taylor)

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

NOTICES OF MOTION

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

RESOLUTION NO. 1875

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

Whereas eight years ago, on May 9th, 26 men lost their lives in the Westray Coal Mine disaster; and

Whereas eight years ago, draegermen and rescue teams rushed to the mine site in a valiant but unsuccessful attempt to find survivors; and

Whereas 26 young families lost a father or husband, and others lost a son, brother, uncle or grandson, as well as friend;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House pause today and remember the 26 men who lost their lives eight years ago, as well as their families, and also that all members reaffirm as our goal that such a terrible accident will never happen again in Nova Scotia.

[Page 5255]

Mr. Speaker, I seek waiver of notice, but I would also like to ask that we stand for a moment of silence.

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.

We will all rise for one moment of silence.

[One minute of silence was observed.]

MR. SPEAKER: Please be seated.

The honourable Leader of the Liberal Party.

RESOLUTION NO. 1876

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

Whereas Mothers Against Drunk Driving are uniting to halt alcohol-related accidents on Annapolis Valley roads this summer; and

Whereas Highway No. 101, where more than half of the fatal accidents occurred between June and September, is a major focus of the campaign; and

Whereas alcohol has been a main factor in almost one-quarter of the fatal accidents on Highway No. 101;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House express their congratulations to MADD and wish them every success in this most worthwhile initiative.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 5256]

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Health.

RESOLUTION NO. 1877

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

Whereas the 2000 International Tulip Festival is being held in Truro and area from May 7th to May 14th; and

Whereas this is the third year a dedicated group of volunteers have organized a series of events for people of all ages to complement the beauty of more than 350,000 blooming tulips; and

Whereas last year more than 10,000 visitors took in festival events and enjoyed a good measure of Colchester County hospitality;

Therefore be it resolved that all members congratulate the 2000 International Tulip Festival committee for its great work in once again putting on an outstanding event to start the festival season in Nova Scotia.

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 Sackville-Cobequid.

[Page 5257]

RESOLUTION NO. 1878

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

Whereas Marine Atlantic confirmed yesterday that they are buying a ferry in Europe to provide much-needed capacity for Newfoundland freight and passenger traffic; and

Whereas the former member for Pictou West, Charlie Parker, championed the cause of starting work two years ago on construction of that ferry here in Atlantic Canada; and

Whereas shipyards in Pictou, Halifax-Dartmouth and elsewhere (Interruptions) the Liberals find it funny Mr. Speaker, about the construction, would have gained work and jobs with federal foresight and leadership to implement a national shipbuilding policy;

Therefore be it resolved that this House regrets the missed opportunity to meet Canadian shipbuilding needs with a Canadian-built vessel to augment Newfoundland's ferry capacity and urge a federal government to turn away from the subsidized European shipbuilders who compete unfairly with Atlantic Canada.

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 Cape Breton South.

RESOLUTION NO. 1879

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

Whereas cutbacks as a result of this budget have hurt all Nova Scotians; and

Whereas these cutbacks have resulted in protests of many kinds at this Legislature; and

Whereas the latest protest is in the form of citizen racoon who has installed himself in one of the Legislature's trees in order to call attention to his disdain for this government;

[Page 5258]

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize and congratulate the efforts of the latest political animal to make an appearance at Province House.

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 Minister of Agriculture and Marketing.

RESOLUTION NO. 1880

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

Whereas Sunday, May 7th through Saturday, May 13th has been designated National Forest Week by the Canadian Forestry Association of which the Nova Scotia Forestry Association is a member; and

Whereas Nova Scotia's forests contributed more than $1 billion to the economy of Nova Scotia from the sale of pulp, newsprint and other forest products; providing jobs to more than 20,000 Nova Scotians; and support hiking, camping, fishing and other recreational activities;

Whereas our forests contribute substantially to the quality of life we enjoy in Nova Scotia and provide habitat for more than 250 wildlife species;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this Legislature endorse and support National Forest Week and congratulate the Canadian and Nova Scotia Forestry Associations for their work over the years in organizing and sponsoring this important event.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

[Page 5259]

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

RESOLUTION NO. 1881

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

Whereas the existence of a labour readjustment strategy slush fund which provides funding for severance, early retirement and restructuring was kept a secret; and

Whereas this Tory Government promised to be open and accountable, but they have not yet disclosed details of the labour readjustment strategy; and

Whereas this Tory Government has demonstrated that they have no clear objective for health care with no strategy to achieve them;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House demand that the Tory Government disclose the full details of the labour readjustment strategy slush fund to provide Nova Scotians with a clear and open accounting of health spending.

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. 1882

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

[Page 5260]

Whereas the Conservative blue book declared on Page 23 that, ". . . community-based agencies and non-profit organizations that are on the front lines of service delivery . . . must be properly supported."; and

Whereas many of those organizations are still waiting to hear what their grant from the province is going to be, although the blue book led them to expect an increase; and

Whereas the details of provincial support for community-based agencies should reflect the blue book statement that "Nova Scotians are a compassionate people . . .";

Therefore be it resolved that before debate on budget measures proceeds any further, the government should release its complete list of program cuts and program review results, so the community agencies who are close to the action can see exactly how compassionate the Tories have been.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Victoria.

RESOLUTION NO. 1883

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 Bristol Group of Halifax won gold at the Summit Creative Awards in the consumer magazine category; and

Whereas Bristol won out of 3,000 entries for its Tall Ship print ad to promote the gathering of Tall Ships here in Halifax in July; and

Whereas the Bristol Group provides communication counsel to a wide range of public and private sector clients locally, regionally and internationally;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Bristol Group for its outstanding achievements in the field of communications.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

[Page 5261]

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. 1884

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

Whereas members of the Scotsburn Fire Department recently held their annual boot drive for Muscular Dystrophy; and

Whereas last year Scotsburn firefighters raised almost $1,300 for Muscular Dystrophy with $1,000 coming directly from the boot drive; and

Whereas in addition to taking donations, Scotsburn firefighters washed cars for those individuals who helped fill the boot;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House applaud the Scotsburn Fire Department for their efforts to assist the Muscular Dystrophy Association as it works toward the elimination of this disease as well as supporting those individuals afflicted with the dystrophy.

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 Needham.

RESOLUTION NO. 1885

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

[Page 5262]

Whereas it will be impossible to cut $11.5 million from the Halifax Regional School Board without affecting students; and

Whereas cuts will result in the lay-offs of school support staff such as teacher assistants and custodians; and

Whereas school secretaries and custodians carry out important duties such as maintenance, cleaning and clerical services, while teacher assistants work with children with special needs;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Education explain how schools will be cleaned, school phones will be answered and children with special needs will receive personal attention now that her government has imposed her disastrous Education budget.

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 Richmond.

RESOLUTION NO. 1886

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

Whereas on Sunday, May 7, 2000, St. Peter's District High School held its 8th Annual Scholastic Awards; and

Whereas these awards were sponsored by the administration and staff of St. Peter's District High School; and

Whereas 83 students were recipients in the categories of high distinction, distinction and merit;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House extend their sincere congratulations to all award winners and wish them continued success in their academic endeavours.

[Page 5263]

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.

[12:30 p.m.]

RESOLUTION NO. 1887

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

Whereas yesterday seniors showed up at the House to protest the increase in Pharmacare costs; and

Whereas the co-pay portion of Pharmacare has increased from 20 per cent to 33 per cent; and

Whereas the end result of these increases will be that seniors stop taking medication and then end up in hospitals;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Health reconsider the heartless budget and allow seniors to enjoy their later years without worrying about how to pay their next drug bill.

Mr. Speaker, I would request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

[Page 5264]

The honourable member for Cape Breton West.

RESOLUTION NO. 1888

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

Whereas Cordell Grant is the recipient of the National Science and Engineering Research Council of Canada Undergraduate Student Research Award; and

Whereas this Sydney River native is a student at the University College of Cape Breton; and

Whereas research grants allow students to gain practical experience in their chosen field of study;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Cordell Grant on such an academic achievement and wish Cordell continued success in all future endeavours.

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

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Centre.

RESOLUTION NO. 1889

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

Whereas the federal government acted on Monday to remove any roadblocks to the quick sale of Devco assets by restricting debate on legislation to privatize Cape Breton's shrinking coal industry; and

Whereas this bill was only debated for six hours before Monday; and

[Page 5265]

Whereas the federal government is limiting debate on this legislation that has serious social and economic implications for Cape Breton;

Therefore be it resolved that this House condemn the federal government for curtailing debate on a bill that is of great importance to Cape Breton and before they have reached a proper and acceptable severance and pension deal with their miners.

Mr. Speaker, I seek waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Nova.

RESOLUTION NO. 1890

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

Whereas this government has artificially created a financial crisis so as to justify right-wing cuts and user-pay fee increases to such groups as social assistance recipients and Seniors' Pharmacare users; and

Whereas the finances of Nova Scotia were in good order as of the budget tabled in this House last year by the honourable Donald Downe, the Minister of Finance; and

Whereas any financial difficulties since that time are created by Tory ineptitude and incompetence, changing of the accounting system formerly used and adding on of imaginary, miscalculated or exaggerated costs;

Therefore be it resolved that neither the seniors of Nova Scotia nor the social assistance recipients should have to pay in any way for the fiscal mischief and financial finagling of this hapless Tory Government.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage.

[Page 5266]

RESOLUTION NO. 1891

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 details and potentially disastrous consequences of this government's health care budget are so buried it may take a ferret armed with a backhoe to dig them out; and

Whereas the health care workers of this province, burdened after years of cuts under the Liberals, must shake their heads and say, same old, same old; and

Whereas in spite of this, they toil on providing quality, caring service to the public;

Therefore be it resolved that this House extend its gratitude and recognition of this service to all health care workers, but today in particular to the licensed practical nurses who celebrate LPN Day throughout the province.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Agriculture and Marketing.

RESOLUTION NO. 1892

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

Whereas approximately 350 4-H members participated for provincial titles in numerous categories at the annual 4-H Weekend held this year on May 5th and May 6th in Truro; and

Whereas the two day event showcased the exceptional skills of 4-H members who have already won competitions at the county, club and regional levels this year;

Whereas this year four special $500 Registered Education Savings Plans provided from private donors were given as awards to the 4-H program's focus on continued learning;

[Page 5267]

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House salute the 4-H program for putting on another successful 4-H Weekend and congratulate the participants and winners for being prime examples of what can be done through hard work and commitment.

Mr. Speaker, I respectfully 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 Cape Breton East.

RESOLUTION NO. 1893

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

Whereas the member for Halifax Chebucto was the point man for the member for Halifax Needham in Antigonish last Friday; and

Whereas that same member always likes to make sure he is on time for such important events; and

Whereas the member for Halifax Chebucto will undoubtedly be early or at least on time for the next socialist debate;

Therefore be it resolved that the member for Halifax Chebucto, in the future, budget his time more appropriately.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

[Page 5268]

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect.

RESOLUTION NO. 1894

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

Whereas MLAs should make themselves available to provincial highway workers in their respective constituencies, to hear of their concerns about privatization of services in the Department of Transportation and Public Works; and

Whereas the best time to meet with these workers is at 6:00 a.m. in the various government bases, before they begin their day; and

Whereas privatization plans of these essential services must be carefully scrutinized;

Therefore be it resolved that all MLAs set their alarm clocks early at the first opportune time, get to these work sites and listen to the concerns of these valuable government employees.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton The Lakes.

RESOLUTION NO. 1895

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

Whereas Erin Brand has been awarded the National Science and Engineering Research Council of Canada Undergraduate Student Research Award; and

Whereas the Sydney native is a student at the University College of Cape Breton; and

[Page 5269]

Whereas research grants allow students to gain practical experience in their chosen field of study;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Erin Brand on her achievements, and wish her continued success in all her 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 Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

RESOLUTION NO. 1896

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

Whereas bluegrass music has grown in leaps and bounds in popularity across both Nova Scotia and Canada over the past 25 years to 30 years; and

Whereas the oldest bluegrass festival in Canada, the Nova Scotia Bluegrass and Old Time Music Festival, is hosted annually in our great province; and

Whereas Springfest 2000 took place in the Annapolis Valley this past weekend featuring numerous groups such as Harmony Ridge from the beautiful Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley, the Bluegrass Diamonds from New Brunswick, Spinney Brothers, Close Company, Grass Fire, Hardwood Ridge, and Back Roads Bluegrass;

Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia Legislature extend our warmest wishes to sponsors David Brown United Limited, Annapolis Valley Radio, and bluegrass music enthusiasts, for their continued promotion of bluegrass music and wish them every success.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

[Page 5270]

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 Chebucto.

RESOLUTION NO. 1897

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

Whereas today is the 8th Anniversary of the explosion of the Westray Mine with the consequent deaths of 26 miners; and

Whereas no one responsible has ever been convicted of anything involving this matter; and

Whereas the Kaufman study of the Public Prosecution Service concluded that there is a systemic problem in the Public Prosecution Service that would make it difficult for the service to handle a case as complex as Westray if it were to arise today;

Therefore be it resolved that the government institute a recruiting program for the Public Prosecution Service to hire and retain experienced senior litigators.

Mr. Speaker, I seek waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton South.

[Page 5271]

RESOLUTION NO. 1898

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

Whereas last week the Minister of Education averted cuts to the Education Department; and

Whereas the Minister of Education announced she will fix the education system by taking $10 million from the $88 million slush fund to help school boards across the province; and

Whereas the Tory Government has cut Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources as well as Education;

Therefore be it resolved that the Tory Government spread the wealth around to those other departments they stripped to ensure that all Nova Scotians have access to quality programs.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

RESOLUTION NO. 1899

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

Whereas one of the first and most cruel cuts made by this Conservative Government was the elimination of the program to provide access to community facilities for persons with disabilities; and

Whereas that cut repudiated the Conservative campaign promise to enhance the quality of life for Nova Scotians who are physically or mentally challenged; and

[Page 5272]

Whereas the Canadian Paraplegic Association was one of many which led the community-based effort to reverse the cruel and senseless elimination of disabled access grants;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate Nova Scotians with disabilities, and in particular, the Canadian Paraplegic Association, for keeping up enough pressure to win back a program of grants to improve community access.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

RESOLUTION NO. 1900

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

Whereas Saint George's Church here in Halifax will hold a giant yard sale on Saturday, June 10th on the corner of Brunswick and Cornwallis Streets; and

Whereas this yard sale will help preserve the restored historic round church; and

Whereas Saint George's Church has been brought back to life by community effort after a tragic fire;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House participate in this worthwhile cause to ensure the preservation of an important part of our history.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

[Page 5273]

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. 1901

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

Whereas the Minister of Natural Resources has crowed about the new Forests Act amendments and the Forest Sustainability Regulations; and

Whereas the minister also takes pride in the development of the code of forest practice for Crown land and completion of Phase I of the Integrated Resource Management Strategy for Crown lands, in the province with perhaps the lowest proportion of Crown land in the country; and

Whereas on May 10th, stakeholders will participate in the Focus on Clearcutting Forum, where concerns will be raised about sustainability of the cut in Nova Scotia, but no one from the minister's department will be attending;

Therefore be it resolved that this House urge the minister to take his act out of the office and into the field to hear the concerns of stakeholders about current forest management practices.

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 Richmond.

RESOLUTION NO. 1902

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

[Page 5274]

Whereas last Friday evening NDP Party members gathered for the first NDP leadership debate with a standing-room-only crowd of 60 people; and

Whereas the former member for Chester-St. Margaret's proclaimed that he was glad to be in Antigonish because "he didn't know where Antigonish was"; and

Whereas located in northeastern Canada halfway between Halifax and Sydney, Antigonish has a rich and varied cultural and educational background;

Therefore be it resolved that the New Democratic Party take up a collection to purchase road maps for the former member for Chester-St. Margaret's to point him in the right direction.

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. 1903

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 Mount Saint Vincent University will honour Elizabeth May and Betty Peterson with honourary degrees during spring convocation on Friday, May 12th; and

Whereas Elizabeth May is an environmentalist, writer, activist and lawyer, as well as the Executive Director of the Sierra Club of Canada and the first chairwoman of Dalhousie University's Elizabeth May Chair in Women's Health and Environment; and

Betty Peterson has worked intensively on peace and women's issues and is an advocate for civil and Aboriginal rights;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate Elizabeth May and Betty Peterson upon receiving honorary degrees from Mount Saint Vincent University and for their outstanding commitments and work on behalf of Nova Scotia.

[Page 5275]

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

[12:45 p.m.]

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton West.

RESOLUTION NO. 1904

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

Whereas the Minister of Health is increasing the size of senior bureaucracy within his department while cutting back in health care on the front lines; and

Whereas the Minister of Health is also imposing additional user fees on the 911 emergency service to help subsidize this politicized bureaucracy; and

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Health reinstate much-needed health care dollars where they are most needed by dipping into the government's newly-established and well-concealed slush fund.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Centre.

[Page 5276]

RESOLUTION NO. 1905

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

Whereas science and technology is the way of the future for our youth; and

Whereas students of Memorial High School in Sydney Mines participated in the 2000 Robots East Atlantic Championships in Fredericton, New Brunswick, a competition focusing on exposing high school students to engineering, science and technology; and

Whereas students of Memorial High School succeeded in placing 8th out of 16 teams in this competition;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House congratulate the students of Memorial High School for their outstanding achievements during this competition.

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 Cape Breton Nova.

RESOLUTION NO. 1906

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

Whereas this budget has impacted negatively on the Department of Agriculture, specifically in causing the Production Technology Branch to disappear; and

Whereas the New Waterford Garden Club has expressed its sadness and distress (Interruptions) Mr. Speaker, I do have farmers in my constituency, and if they knew more about Cape Breton Nova, they would know that. (Interruptions)

[Page 5277]

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

MR. PAUL MACEWAN: Mr. Speaker, that wasn't part of the resolution. It was a retort to the interruptions of the NDP.

Whereas the New Waterford Garden Club has expressed its sadness and distress over the withdrawal of the landscape and ornamental gardening specialist and the home garden specialist; and

Whereas many farmers and gardeners have depended on the services of these specialists, which will now no longer exist;

Therefore be it resolved that the New Waterford Garden Club be commended for its vigilance and leadership in the fight against this drastic Tory budget.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour.

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

Whereas the dictionary defines the noun flim-flam as a word of Scandinavian origin, akin to the Old Norse flim, meaning mockery; and

Whereas the word flim-flam has been used in the English language since 1538, to mean deception, fraud, or deceptive nonsense; and

Whereas so far, the budget's numbers have been wrong on Education, wrong on job cuts, wrong on Pharmacare, and wrong on how much debt the Tories will add to the grand total this year;

Therefore be it resolved that this House urge the Finance Minister to reveal which old Scandinavians he enlisted to help him produce a Budget Address which is establishing a world record for political flim-flam.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Since the honourable member gave the interpretation of that word, which was obviously one I said last week would not be accepted in this House, deceive, the motion is out of order.

The honourable member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage.

[Page 5278]

RESOLUTION NO. 1907

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 Atlantic Premiers took the opportunity of a dinner with the Prime Minister in Boston to remind him that infrastructure, transportation and health care in this region are falling below acceptable national standards; and

Whereas the federal Liberals have, like the Mulroney Government before them, taken Atlantic Canada for granted; and

Whereas the Liberals apparently believe that a few election year goodies are enough to win back voter support from Atlantic Canada;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the Premiers who spoke up on behalf of our region when they gained the extremely rare opportunity of having the Prime Minister's attention.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton East.

RESOLUTION NO. 1908

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

Whereas the Tory Government spent $50,000 on recruiting fees to hire two deputy ministers; and

Whereas the Premier defended the expenditure as necessary to find the strongest person available for the job; and

[Page 5279]

Whereas for weeks this Tory Government has robbed the people of Nova Scotia by crippling their education and health care systems;

Therefore be it resolved that the Tory Government stop feathering their own nests at the expense of Nova Scotians.

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 Timberlea-Prospect.

RESOLUTION NO. 1909

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 Rails to Trails organization has demonstrated exemplary leadership in meeting the increasing recreational needs of the many communities across our province; and

Whereas Joel Page, the trails coordinator for the St. Margarets Bay Rails to Trails group, continues to make a difference with initiatives in the development of the trail in our community; and

Whereas voluntarism is an important part of this valuable organization;

Therefore be it resolved that this House offer its congratulations to the St. Margarets Bay Rails to Trails and its coordinator, Joel Page, with best wishes to the group in its future endeavours.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

[Page 5280]

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.

RESOLUTION NO. 1910

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

Whereas the residents of the provincial electoral district Truro-Bible Hill voted Tory in the last election, no doubt expecting good things from their member who campaigned on a slogan of "A strong voice for Truro"; and

Whereas since the election there has been the announcement of the closure of the Colchester County Correctional Centre; and

Whereas since the election there has been a significant reduction in funding for the Nova Scotia Agricultural College, no movement towards establishing the long promised secure treatment facility and the so-called temporary closure of cardiac-care beds at Colchester Regional Hospital;

Therefore be it resolved that this House ask the Minister of Health, the member for Truro-Bible Hill, to explain to the Tory voters of his riding what happened to the "strong voice for Truro" and why he is taking them for granted.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

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

Whereas it is entirely understandable to find one mistake in a Budget Address delivered by a first year minister; and

Whereas it is remarkably suspicious to find several key mistakes in a Budget Address that is described by the government as an historic turning point; and

Whereas it is completely repugnant to find that hospital, school, farm and other budgets were not finalized during the long, long program review that preceded the Budget Address;

[Page 5281]

Therefore be it resolved that this House is grateful for the Tory series of flip-flops that have been made to rescue the government from the phoney facts used in the Budget Address to try and flim-flam Nova Scotians.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I believe the honourable member used the same words that were used in a previous resolution. (Interruptions) I still understand it.

The motion is out of order.

The honourable member for Hants East.

RESOLUTION NO. 1911

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

Whereas the government did back to back flip-flops by confirming an additional $33 million for public education on Friday, then on Monday reversing its own elimination of the disabled access program; and

Whereas the Community Services Minister who with his colleagues defended the elimination of disabled access has lately been defending his cuts in support for the most impoverished within the disabled community; and

Whereas there is no rational reason and no grain of compassion in a cutback that drives disabled Nova Scotians deeper into poverty;

Therefore be it resolved that the government should not force disabled Nova Scotians to endure deeper poverty while they wait for the almost inevitable Tory flip-flop on income support for persons with disabilities.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

We will now move to Orders of the Day and Oral Questions Put By Members. Question Period will begin at 12:55 p.m. and end at 1:55 p.m.

ORDERS OF THE DAY

ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS

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

[Page 5282]

FIN. - BUDGET (2000-01): PHARMACARE INCREASE - ERROR

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I want to direct my question through you to the Minister of Finance. The Minister of Finance has publicly admitted that he used false figures in his Budget Address when he highlighted the claim that Pharmacare costs had doubled in the last three years. According to the Department of Health, the per capita cost of Pharmacare has increased by only 15 per cent in the last three years and costs are levelling off. I want to ask the Minister of Finance, how did such a glaring error make its way into his Budget Address and what steps has he taken to correct the record and give seniors the truth, and that is that Pharmacare costs are in fact slowing down?

HON. NEIL LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, in my Budget Address I mentioned that Pharmacare costs had doubled and if you look within the Department of Health, that is the case.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: The point is that once again the government is preying on the weak and defenceless. They could have gone after those doctors who over-prescribe, drug companies that crank up costs or they could have looked to pharmacists to help catch over-prescribing. Instead, they went after seniors with a fairy tale about huge cost increases. Total Pharmacare costs went up by $1.7 million last year. Pharmacare fees are going up by $8.4 million this year.

Most seniors are on a fixed income. I want to ask the Minister of Finance why his government is forcing seniors to pick up almost 500 per cent of the increase in Pharmacare costs, 500 per cent?

MR. LEBLANC: The particulars of the Pharmacare Program are administered through the Department of Health and I refer to the Minister of Health to give him the details that he requires and I will pass it to the honourable member.

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, that was a rather long question, I wonder if he could repeat the operative clause?

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: No, I am not going to ask my question again. I have asked my question to the Minister of Finance, he tried to dump it off to the Minister of Health and he doesn't have a clue what is going on, so I am not going to waste my time or the time of the House because the evidence is clear, seniors are taking it in the neck once again.

My final supplementary, Mr. Speaker. The Conservatives said last fall the solution for Pharmacare was to make it the insurer of last resort. Well, they won that battle, but now seniors are the big losers. I want to ask the Minister of Health, why will he not suspend these devastating Pharmacare fee hikes, listen to seniors, and come up with a fair and balanced approach; one that is based on correct figures, not false figures?

[Page 5283]

MR. MUIR: I would say that the decision to adjust Pharmacare premiums for seniors was based on the correct numbers. The fact of the matter is that we have an excellent Seniors' Pharmacare Program here in Nova Scotia, even with the premiums, and the honourable member might be interested in knowing that, for example, this year it is projected that the average pay-out per senior, which includes the senior's contribution, is $1,150 per insured person.

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

FIN. - BUDGET (2000-01): PHARMACARE - FIGURES INCORRECT

MR. RUSSELL MACLELLAN: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Finance. He has asked seniors to pay 500 per cent of the increase in health care and Pharmacare this year, he has increased the cost to seniors by 75 per cent and he has used those figures to justify this attack on seniors. I want to know from the Minister of Finance, when did he first realize that the figures that he gave in the budget were wrong?

[1:00 p.m.]

HON. NEIL LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, within the Department of Health, there has been a doubling of costs with regard to the Seniors' Pharmacare Program. I stand by that.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Over the last three years?

MR. LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, if the honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party has any problem with answering the question, I will yield the floor.

Mr. Speaker, we also have a situation that overall the cost of drugs in this program is increasing; all members of this House know that that is the case. We are dealing with seniors in what I consider to be a responsible way, whereby we can ensure that this program will be there in the future. That is what is important; it has to be sustainable.

MR. MACLELLAN: Mr. Speaker, he is dealing with seniors by fudging his figures. He can't blame the Department of Health, because the budget is his responsibility. I want to know, when did he realize that his own figures in the budget were wrong, that he didn't account for $22.6 million put in by the Department of Finance in 1996-97? Did he not know that those figures were wrong until he read it in the newspapers?

MR. LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, in regard to the contribution of Finance, I found out about that last week; the member opposite knows that. I still go back to the point that this program, this province spends huge amounts on it. We are asking seniors to take part in it. This is the same government that basically has put us in the situation that we are having to make these difficult decisions. Seniors, more than anyone else, know difficult times and they

[Page 5284]

realize that this program is essential to maintain. I disagree with the honourable member when he makes the statements that he does.

MR. MACLELLAN: Mr. Speaker, this is the government that used bogus figures to stick it to seniors in Nova Scotia; this is the government that used bogus figures to sabotage education in this province. I want to ask the Minister of Finance, how many more cases of this are there in his budget? Can he give us his word today that there are no more fudged figures in his budget that are going to be reasons for devastating programs in the Province of Nova Scotia?

MR. LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, this is the same government, the same bunch that said they had a $2.5 million surplus when they had a $500 million deficit. That is the same Party that told seniors that after 1995 the other people who came along would not be able to share in the seniors' property program. You should be ashamed of yourselves for what you did.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Fudged, fudged, fudged.

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

The honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party.

EDUC. - BUDGET (2000-01): CUTS - SPECIAL EDUC.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I want to direct my question through you to the Minister of Education.

AN HON. MEMBER: No.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Yes. (Laughter) (Interruptions) Mr. Speaker, my colleagues are being helpful, as usual.

Mr. Speaker, last Wednesday the Minister of Education said, in response to a question from the member for Halifax Needham about program assistants in the school system, ". . . we have targeted no program assistants for elimination." The minister knows very well that program assistants are an absolutely essential part of the education program for special needs children. Without these assistants, the special needs programs simply cannot work. I want to ask the Minister of Education, what assurance will she give Nova Scotians, especially those families with special needs children, that no program assistants will be cut as a result of the Education budget?

[Page 5285]

HON. JANE PURVES: Mr. Speaker, what we said in this budget is that there would be no teacher lay-offs. We said we were looking for school boards to cut administration and as much as possible to keep their cuts away from the classroom, and that is what they are attempting to do.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I don't want to go back as far as what they said when the budget came down, because things have changed so many times, I am going to stay with just the last week. Again, on last Wednesday, the minister said, "Our budget for those assistants has stayed the same in this year's budget." But a published report today indicates that in the Halifax Regional School Board alone, at least 60 teachers' aides will be let go. That is only one of several cuts the school board has to make to deal with this Minister of Education's budget. I want to ask the minister, what steps will she take to ensure that school boards don't have to balance their budgets on the backs of the most needy students?

MISS PURVES: We have asked the school boards, and they have agreed to try to make impacts on the classroom minimal. That is not to say, Mr. Speaker, that there will be no impact at all on the classroom. School boards are working very hard now to take most of their cuts out of administration.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, as a direct result of this minister's decision and this government's decision, Nova Scotian children with special needs are going to lose out on their ability to get an education, to be able to make a contribution to this community, and that is wrong. I want to ask the minister so she understands what we are talking about, will she agree to go to one school in this district and travel around behind a student with special needs and just see the kind of challenges they face right now, let alone after these budget cuts take effect?

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, certainly I will undertake to do exactly that.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

HEALTH - PHARMACARE: PREMIUMS - INCREASE JUSTIFY

DR. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Health. In 1998 his government promised they would eliminate Pharmacare premiums if elected. This Tory Government is now putting an incredible burden on seniors by increasing the pharmacy co-pay, 65 per cent increase in one year to individual seniors. This represents, we all know, a terrible hardship on seniors. My question is, how does the minister justify this massive increase in the cost of Pharmacare to seniors in Nova Scotia after promising to eliminate the premium?

[Page 5286]

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, just to refresh the honourable member's memory, the comment about the premium was made two years ago, not in the last one. The reason for that was after our caucus met with seniors, they felt that the retention of the premium was the most effective way to handle that plan. It was done in consultation with seniors. Secondly, (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable Minister of Health has the floor.

MR. MUIR: Secondly, I just remind the honourable member when they got into the premium business in 1993-94 the agreement with the seniors was that the Pharmacare costs would be shared 50/50. Last year the contribution by the government was about 80 per cent.

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, it still doesn't explain the massive increase. My question then, the minister has indicated one of the reasons for the massive increase is the rising costs of drugs. My question to the minister, if this is his excuse, why is a 65 per cent increase in Pharmacare costs so much larger than other provinces, and also so much larger than any increase from Maritime Medical, the private side which is the bottom line of profit. Why is his increase larger than even the private side, such as Maritime Medical and Blue Cross?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I would just like to remind the honourable member for Dartmouth East that the Province of Quebec doubled their premiums last week from $175 to $350 per year, certainly not the increase that he is talking about. Secondly, the fact is that the premiums and the co-pay were to be adjusted each year, and he knows that. It wasn't done. This was sort of a catch-up year.

DR. SMITH: We are talking in terms of 500 per cent, and an individual getting nailed for 65 per cent alone on one part of the program. Increasing drug costs are an issue. There is no question. The truth is that the increase in drug costs are due to the cost of new drugs, the increased price of drugs, more people using drugs, and more prescribing by doctors. My question to the minister, why does the minister insist on making seniors the scapegoats, making them pay for these increases, instead of tackling the real reason that drugs costs are increasing, through no fault of the seniors?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, as the honourable member knows and all members know, the prescribing habits of physicians in this province are monitored by the department. In cases where he believes that over-prescribing takes place, that particular situation is dealt with. Secondly, this is the same gentleman who I can remember, on a number of occasions last year, standing up and telling members of our Party and members of the other part of the Libercrat Party that we had the very best Seniors' Pharmacare Program in the country. We don't have the best thing this year, but we are among the very best.

[Page 5287]

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

HEALTH: LBR. READJUSTMENT STRATEGY - TABLE

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Health has gone out of his way to ensure that health care in this province is shrouded in secrecy. The memo released last week, written on April 12th by the Deputy Minister of Health to the CEOs of the regional health boards and hospitals, said, although not formally announced, there is a labour-readjustment strategy which will manage transition costs. It is a lay-off strategy; it is a firing strategy. My question to the Minister of Health is simply this, since it is now clear that this strategy was complete before the budget was announced, why haven't you tabled the strategy?

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I welcome the question from the honourable member. That labour readjustment strategy has not yet been totally finalized, and when it is appropriate it will be rolled out.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, it is not that it will be rolled out, what people want to know is who is going to be rolled over. That is what people want to know. There are thousands of health care workers waiting anxiously to know if they will still have a job once the so-called reforms are completed, once this Health Minister decides what health care will look like once the cuts in service begin. The minister hasn't involved the representatives of working people in these discussions. My question to the minister is, why haven't you alleviated this anxiety by involving the representatives of working people in preparing the strategy and avoid the kind of disaster felt by the Minister of Education through her lack of advance consultation?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, we have indeed been working with representatives of the NSGEU and other labour organizations. I am meeting with another one later on this week. He knows, as well as other members of his Party know, that it was the result of our consultation with the representatives of the NSGEU that some of the amendments to Bill No. 34 were agreed to.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, there are massive cuts to institutions right across this province. What the health care workers want to know is whether or not the minister will undertake today to table the labour readjustment strategy in this House? Just table it.

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member knows, as do other honourable members, that the business planning process is ongoing now among the NDOs, as well as the still existing regional health boards. When those business plans are completed and reviewed by us and agreed to then this information will be made available.

[Page 5288]

[1:15 p.m.]

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

EDUC. - TEXTBOOKS: MONIES - REDUCTION

MR. DAVID WILSON: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Education. It is becoming clearer and clearer every day that the Minister of Education has done more damage to the education system than we originally fathomed. Could the minister indicate how much money is being removed from the system for the purchase of textbooks?

HON. JANE PURVES: Mr. Speaker, no, I don't have the budget estimates with me, but there is exactly the same amount of money this year for textbooks as there was last year. None has been taken out. Thank you.

MR. WILSON: Mr. Speaker, I think we have some news for the Minister of Education today. In the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board, one school at least has been told that book orders per student are being dropped to $25 from $40. This is based on a Department of Education formula; a memo - which I will table here now - has some information in that regard.

My question then to the minister is, will you do the decent thing and restore full funding for books in the education system?

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, the department's budget for books for schools is exactly the same this year as last year. I repeat it, exactly the same. Thank you.

MR. WILSON: Mr. Speaker, perhaps the minister should read that memo that I just tabled. This move is an attack on literacy and it is an attack on our children. Again, to the minister, when will you restore the money that you have absconded with from our children's education so that they can learn from adequate textbooks?

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, given that our allocation for books is exactly the same this year as last year, I suggest the member opposite ask his school board what they are doing with the book money. Thank you.

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

HEALTH: DART. GEN. HOSP. - BED CLOSURES

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, we have just learned that since January, 20 beds have been closed at the Dartmouth General Hospital. The reasons behind these closures are budgetary and a growing nurse shortage. The medical surgery floor, where people with

[Page 5289]

surgery would stay until they were well, has been turned in to a short-term stay unit, which is now only open from Monday to Friday, 8:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. and is closed on the weekends. Again the reason is budgetary and a nursing shortage.

My question to the Minister of Health is, are you aware of this and what do you intend to do about it?

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I was not aware of the specifics that the honourable member is talking about. There were bed closures at the Dartmouth General Hospital over the March break to allow, I guess, vacations among doctors and nurses. There are a number of bed closures across the province, short term for summer. (Interruptions)

MR. DEXTER: I don't know what the minister expected. He took the money out of the system, it is going to result in bed closures. The Dartmouth General Hospital is facing further cuts amounting to $1.7 million. Mr. Speaker, to the Minister of Health, at a time when we already see hospitals responding to financial pressures and nursing shortages by reducing services, how can you say that further cuts amounting to $1.7 million won't affect services?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member knows that the institutions, as well as the health boards are preparing business plans. In those business plans, there is no question, there has been some reduction in most budgets this year. One of the areas we hope where there was no reduction was in the allocation for nurses, indeed, we provided extra money for more nurses. What we have asked the institutions to do is to first look for cost savings that have no people impact, for example, group purchasing and addressing increased drug costs.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, maybe the Minister of Health doesn't understand the equation. Budget cuts equals bed closures. That is the reality. This government led Nova Scotians to believe that health care cuts would only be felt at the administrative level where the public won't see them, but that is not the case. When will the Minister of Health admit that health care cuts will affect services currently provided throughout the province?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I repeat that the hospitals and the regional health boards are currently preparing business plans. We have asked that in the preparation of these business plans the first cost savings to be looked at are those that don't have any impact on people such as group services. The other thing is opportunities for increases in revenues. As the honourable member knows, we have a number of initiatives, a number of things we have done since we have been in government to try and help us make appropriate decisions, and we are moving toward evidence-based decision making in health care, and we believe that once we start to make our decisions based on solid evidence, then service and the number of beds don't necessarily go one to one.

[Page 5290]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Clare.

EDUC. - BUDGET (2000-01):

TEACHERS (PERM. & PROB.) - EMPLOYMENT GUARANTEE

MR. WAYNE GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Education. Last week the minister announced that a deal had been reached with the Nova Scotia school boards which, in effect, meant that the province would absorb $20 million in school board deficits, use the money from the province's $88 million slush fund, and the province would not demand that 400 teachers leave the profession. My first question, will the minister assure us today that all permanent and probationary teachers, presently teaching in Nova Scotia, will not be laid off?

HON. JANE PURVES: Mr. Speaker, the school boards have assured us that with the arrangement we have come to, there will be no necessity to lay-off teachers or probationary teachers in the province.

MR. GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, I certainly appreciate and I welcome that news from the minister. In a newspaper article on Friday, the Deputy Minister of Education said, the department has used 'some innovative ways' to find money inside its existing $1.1-billion budget. My question to the minister, are these innovative ways new and hidden and secret cuts, or does the Deputy Minister of Education have his own private slush fund?

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, I take the deputy at his word. There are new and innovative ways, and there is no private deputy minister's or any other slush fund in the department.

MR. GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, my final question to the minister. The minister has said that despite the agreement with the boards there are still some cuts that have to be made. Could the minister please tell this House today exactly where those cuts will be made within the boards?

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, the school boards are still finalizing their revised budgets, and I cannot be precise as to where those cuts will be made. However, the boards have told us they will indeed look first at administration, and they will be cutting between 10 and 20 per cent in administration first.

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

[Page 5291]

COMMUN. SERV. - BUDGET (2000-01):

CUTS - DIRECT ASSIST. PROG.

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Community Services. The Department of Community Services has a program called direct assistance where people who are working poor, single or with dependents, are able to apply for grants to help them defer some costs. This government in its budget decided to cut that program from the single working poor. As far as I can tell, that means that this government believes that people who are single and are living below the poverty line are not deserving of assistance from the government. So my question to this minister is, why has this minister decided to cut direct assistance for working, single people who are poor in Nova Scotia?

HON. PETER CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, I thank the honourable member for the question. As I indicated to him during the budget estimates, that program was retargeted to people with children because we wanted to be able to provide as much assistance as we could to families with children in the province.

MR. DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, this minister is clearly drawing the line in the sand. There are the deserving poor and there are the undeserving poor in this province. The undeserving poor are people who are unlucky enough to have to take assistance from this province, those who are single and working and below the poverty line in this province. My question to the Minister of Community Services is, why has this minister decided to recognize that there are those who deserve money from this government if they are poor and why others are undeserving of support from the government?

MR. CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, as I indicated to the honourable member during our estimates debates, our policy and our programs are designed to provide as much assistance as we can to all people who are on the poverty line, all people on low income across the province; they are designed to do that.

MR. DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, this concerns me because the minister says that they are going to provide as much assistance as possible to anyone who lives below the poverty line. Yet someone who is single and working and living below the poverty line gets no money from this government. Can the minister please explain why he is cutting assistance to single, working poor in this province while he increases the money that goes to senior bureaucrats in his department?

MR. CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, I guess what I will do is I will undertake to have a session with the honourable member. This Department of Community Services does provide a lot of assistance to people whether they be single with children or single. We provide a lot of assistance to them and his suggestion that we do not is absolutely ludicrous.

[Page 5292]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Clare.

EDUC. - BUDGET (2000-01): CUTS - TEACHERS' AIDES

MR. WAYNE GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Education. Despite this latest agreement that was reached between the school boards and the Department of Education a few days ago, there still will be extensive lay-offs of school support staff throughout the province. In fact, the Halifax Regional School Board has said that in order to meet its budget, it will have to lay off 60 teachers' aides and 23 custodial staff. This is just another example of this government attacking those who can least defend themselves. My question to the minister, will the minister please explain to those parents whose children have a teacher's aide this year, how their child will receive an adequate education next year?

HON. JANE PURVES: Mr. Speaker, what I would like to say to those parents and to all parents in Nova Scotia is that what we are doing is trying to create a sustainable education system, a sustainable health care system, by making savings in our spending which we cannot afford.

MR. GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, the reduction in custodial staff will mean that school maintenance and cleanliness will suffer. This will cause serious maintenance problems in future years. Will the minister please explain how this reduction in custodial and maintenance staff provide for a structurally sound, environmentally clean and safe learning environment for our children?

[1:30 p.m.]

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, the budget for the Halifax School Board has not even been tabled yet. That school board and all school boards have said they will go for administration first. Then they will have to accomplish savings. This will not be easy. It will be tough. We have always said that. It will be tough.

MR. GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, not only will these cutbacks affect custodial and maintenance staff, they will also affect student transportation. Will the minister assure those parents whose children are presently being transported to school by school bus that they will have the same transportation service for their children next year?

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, what I can assure parents is that their children will have safe transportation to school.

AN HON. MEMBER: They won't have anybody to drive the buses. You are laying them off and you guys know it.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

[Page 5293]

ANOTHER HON. MEMBER: You don't have a slush fund anymore. If I were you, I would be quiet.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants East.

AGRIC. - BUDGET (2000-01): FARMERS - FUTURE GUARANTEE

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, I would like to direct my question to the Minister of Agriculture and Marketing. Mr. Minister, there are a lot of small farmers in Nova Scotia who you have betrayed with this budget. There are hundreds of small growers who will no longer have access to the specialized knowledge they need. Even this morning in the Resources Committee, Pork Nova Scotia stated that they hadn't had any input into the decisions made in your budget. All the while, the minister keeps insisting that farmers are asking for this. I have to tell you, finding a farmer who supports this budget is like trying to find a Tory who understands education. It just can't be done. Mr. Minister, if you are so sure your devastating cuts are the right move for Nova Scotia agriculture, what guarantee will you give this House today that no farmers will go out of business as a result of your budget?

HON. ERNEST FAGE: Mr. Speaker, I thank the honourable member for his question. I would like to advise the honourable member that the only member of this House who continually pits one farmer against another or one size of farm against the other is the honourable member himself. This budget puts more money into programs for the farmers of Nova Scotia than there was last year.

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, the minister should think about not just one farmer, he should be thinking about all farmers. Mr. Minister, with frightening precision, you have been able to cut in precisely those areas that will hurt farmers the most. The cuts you have made from your downtown tower in Halifax don't make sense on the ground. When you cut the lime subsidy, you put farmers in Yarmouth at a disadvantage because they now have to pay to have it trucked and they use a lot more than other areas of the province because of the acidic soils.

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Minister, did the member for Yarmouth tell you what a terrible impact your budget would have on farming there, and why are you picking on the farmers in Yarmouth County?

MR. FAGE: Mr. Speaker, as the member opposite would know, most soils in Nova Scotia are acidic and certainly the soils in the northern end of the province are more acidic, thus the blueberry production that occurs there. The limestone, if it is a new entrant or a major expansion, subsidy is still available to the individual farmer on his own farm plan. If the member opposite would take the time to read the budget and see that there is at least $1

[Page 5294]

million more in this year's budget than last, he would know that this government and this department are supporting the agriculture industry and supporting it strongly.

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, it is $1 million that the industry feels they had no input into. It is clear that if the member for Yarmouth tried to stand up for farmers in his area, that he didn't try hard enough. Can the minister explain, for example, why are you cutting the very busy regional office in Yarmouth and moving operations to the Weymouth office?

MR. FAGE: Mr. Speaker, that is a very good question, indeed. What we have attempted to do here in Nova Scotia is to reflect and create five regional centres, where there were 12 offices before, in alignment with the number of farm operations in Nova Scotia. I would remind the member that 15 years ago, in Nova Scotia, there were approximately 5,000 to 7,000 farms. Currently, if the member opposite checks the federation's document filed with the House and the Resources Committee, there are 1,800 registered farms with the Nova Scotia Federation of Agriculture, and the design of where those offices are reflects regionally how the agri rep can most efficiently travel to each area in Nova Scotia and provide cost-effective service to the farming community of Nova Scotia.

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

FIN.: RESTRUCTURING FUND - USES

MR. RUSSELL MACLELLAN: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Finance. In the 1980's, the Buchanan Government was never at a loss when they needed money for political expediency they always found it; it didn't matter where it was, they just found it somewhere, and the Minister of Finance knows that because he was there. Now it seems that the Minister of Finance is a little older and perhaps a little wiser, so what he is doing is building into his budget a slush fund, so it is there. I want to ask the minister could he tell us where the slush fund, the $88 million for restructuring so-called, other than bailing out the Minister of Education, what is this $88 million for restructuring going to be doing in this fiscal year?

HON. NEIL LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, first of all the honourable member seems to forget that the government that he led just a few months ago also had a restructuring fund in their budget. I think that is important to put on the record.

MR. MACLELLAN: Mr. Speaker, the slush fund that the Minister of Finance has incorporated in his budget just happens to have a name that was put on the budget before, but this is not for restructuring because we have no details of any restructuring being planned by this government. All we have seen of the details is the Minister of Education being bailed out with money from this particular slush fund. Now, other than what he has given to the

[Page 5295]

Department of Education to bail them out, what is the minister and this government going to use this $88 million for?

MR. LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, I find that question very strange because his Finance Critic has asked me the question. Also, if he looks at the line items in the estimate, which is available there, the honourable member across the way will learn, first of all, that is for salary negotiations during this year. I am sure that he is aware that just one major contract which the government works with, which is the NSGEU, their contract expired on March 31, 2000, so that is just one of the unions that we have to negotiate with; the other one is CUPE, just to give you an example. The other thing that we have, Mr. Speaker, specifically, is that within this envelope, the severances for the people who will be displaced will be accounted for. The third thing, of course, is the restructuring of the departments. All this information was given to the Finance Critic of that Party when we did the estimates.

MR. MACLELLAN: Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Health told me in estimates that the increase in salaries, and nurses and others in hospitals were in the Health budget, not in a restructuring budget. I ask the Minister of Finance, when the QE II gave the budget that they were asked for by the Minister of Finance and the Minister of Health, for a reduction in their budget of $28 million, when the government realized that they cannot stop the lay-offs of up to 350 people at the QE II and the closure of beds, is the Minister of Finance able to assure us that there is enough money in this $88 million slush fund to bail out the Minister of Health as well as the Minister of Education?

MR. LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, first of all, the honourable member, again, should have realized that some of those unions that work at the QE II their contract goes past March 31, 2000, and that is why the Minister of Health answered the question in that way.

I would suggest to the member opposite that between the Finance Critic, the Health Critic and himself that before the next Question Period they sit down and have all this information. I do think that the member opposite asked a serious question and I appreciate that though some of this information has been disclosed in estimates among different departments and I appreciate that perhaps he wasn't aware of all that. Thank you.

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

DEVCO - ASSETS SALE: BILL (H OF C) - ACTION (N.S. [GOV'T.])

MR. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, yesterday in the House of Commons, the Liberal Government invoked closure on the Devco Bill. This move cuts off, after only six hours of debate, a consideration of a bill that has serious impact on the economy of industrial Cape Breton. I would like to ask the Acting Premier, since the federal Liberals obviously don't believe in open debate, what is this government doing to take the concerns of Cape Bretoners to Ottawa?

[Page 5296]

HON. RONALD RUSSELL (Acting Premier): The honourable member should be aware that one of the things that we have done in this government is to strengthen the Intergovernmental Affairs Department and because of that initiative, we intend to have a much stronger voice in Ottawa to influence events such as Devco.

MR. CORBETT: Whether they have someone with Intergovernmental Affairs or not, this government has been conspicuously silent on Devco throughout this whole incident and that fits right in with this government's plan of listening only to the Halifax Chamber of Commerce or large businesses and forsakes the people of Cape Breton for mainland votes. My question to the Acting Premier is, why has this government been so silent on an issue that is so important to all Nova Scotians?

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, we have carried the concerns of Cape Breton to Ottawa with regard to Devco, but I would point out to the honourable member in fairness, just as the federal government doesn't get engaged personally in the matters of Sysco, we in the provincial government do not get involved in the personal matters with regard to Devco.

MR. CORBETT: That is such a fallacy because this very government has members on the Devco Board so that doesn't wash. What we also have to realize is that company produces over 50 per cent of the power used by Nova Scotia Power in this province. It is obviously more important to the federal government to sell Devco coal contracts than to look after Cape Bretoners. I guess my question to the Acting Premier is, what is this government doing to ensure our power is generated by Cape Breton coal and not Columbian coal?

MR. RUSSELL: It is clearly the mandate of this government to try and influence Nova Scotia Power to purchase Nova Scotian coal and as part of our mandate to emphasize with Ottawa the importance of Cape Breton continuing as a source of coal for Nova Scotia Power.

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

HOUSING & MUN. AFFS.:

ACCESSIBILITY PROGRAM - INTRO.

MR. RUSSELL MACLELLAN: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Housing and Municipal Affairs. Yesterday, the minister reinstated the accessibility program. Since he and his government refused to allow that program to go ahead last fall, what has the minister learned in the intervening period that now allows him to give approval to this program?

HON. ANGUS MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the honourable member for the question. Refusal is not a correct description of what occurred last fall. The program was placed under the program review, as all other programs were, and we came forward with a

[Page 5297]

program yesterday which we believe will address the concerns of persons with disabilities in this province.

[1:45 p.m.]

MR. MACLELLAN: Mr. Speaker, the minister said in his release yesterday, "We want to help community organizations start to open doors right away,". Well, if the minister really wanted to be able to open those doors, why didn't he allow those doors to open last fall instead of waiting until this spring?

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, the facts are that last fall when the program was placed under the program review, there was insufficient work done to be able to proceed with that program at that time. The program which we unveiled yesterday will, in fact, deliver services to Nova Scotians, and it will be delivered as quickly as it would have been had we not put the program under review last year. (Interruptions)

MR. MACLELLAN: Mr. Speaker, it is obvious that this government is playing politics with the needs of the disabled, and it is also obvious that there is no level to which this government will not sink. I want to ask the Minister of Health, now that we have finally wrung out of the Minister of Housing and Municipal Affairs some compassion for the disabled, when is he going to give the go-ahead to the Sisters of Charity for funding for their long-term care units?

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate that question. The province currently has about 51 proposals for long-term care beds. We had the facilities review, we have a single-entry access program coming in, and we have an ad hoc committee now trying to develop for us some criteria which will help us in the allocation of beds.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants East.

AGRIC. - BUDGET (2000-01): CUTS - LAY-OFFS POSTPONE

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, I am even more worried than I was earlier. The Minister of Agriculture has confirmed that the number of farms has gone from 5,000 down to 1,800. My question to the minister, the Federation of Agriculture has agreed to form a restructuring committee that will look at what to do in the wake of your disastrous budget. All they ask of the minister is flexibility on two issues: can the cuts be spread more evenly within the department, and will the minister hold of on lay-off notices until the industry decides which specialists it can do without. My question for the minister, have you agreed to the criteria set by the Federation of Agriculture, spreading the cuts and holding off on the lay-offs?

[Page 5298]

HON. ERNEST FAGE: Mr. Speaker, I thank the honourable member for his question. The honourable member, as he well knows, the department and I, as minister, have a good working relationship with the Federation of Agriculture. They have put together an industry committee, and my officials continue to meet as we have for the last couple of weeks. We are looking around the areas, as I have said to the industry, of flexibility around the $2.2 million and alternative service delivery, and discussions are occurring as we speak.

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, I will take that as a no. Many farmers don't believe this minister has shown any flexibility, and they are right. They asked that this minister look at using resources from other branches in restructuring, and this minister is saying no way. Mr. Minister, why won't you use resources from other branches in restructuring advisory and extension services?

MR. FAGE: Mr. Speaker, as the honourable member well knows, it is the agricultural community that my department and I have discussions with on how resources will be deployed.

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, it was the agricultural community's suggestion that he do that. Farmers want to know if there are going to be any specialists left in this province to work with. They understand many specialists now are under intense pressure to leave and to find work elsewhere. Will the minister postpone lay-offs past July 1st, if the restructuring process is not complete by then?

MR. FAGE: Mr. Speaker, to the honourable member, certainly as we move forward there is a fund of $2.2 million, which has been established, which will supply important, special services to the agricultural community. As we establish the alternative method of delivery, we will inform the honourable member.

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

WCB - DEVCO: COAL MINERS - COMPENSATE

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Labour. Two of more than 40 Devco coal miners who are suffering from gamma radiation, through no fault of their own, went to the Workers' Compensation Board yesterday seeking a meeting because WCB officials kept delaying a meeting. The chief medical advisor for Health Canada has confirmed that this radiation exposure is work related. Certainly what is happening to these workers is unconscionable. My question to the minister, will the minister direct the Workers' Compensation Board to properly compensate these long-suffering coal miners?

[Page 5299]

HON. ANGUS MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member knows that there is a process that is followed with respect to dealing with claims under the Workers' Compensation Act. He is the former Minister of Labour, and for him to suggest that the minister has the power to direct is misleading.

MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, the medical specialist commissioned by the Workers' Compensation Board to review the report of the chief medical advisor with Health Canada, who is at arm's length to both parties, what they are doing is simply trying to stall and save money in favour of the Workers' Compensation Board, ahead of the welfare and health of the coal miners. One of these coal miners is reported to have received radiation exposure in excess of the equivalent of 10,000 x-rays. My question to the minister, why is the minister turning his back on these long-suffering coal miners?

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member, again, knows full well, and every member of this House knows, that you cannot get up in this House and use bits of information to mislead the people with respect to programs that are before the Workers' Compensation Board. For the honourable member to be here creating false expectations is unworthy.

MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, I will table this report, prepared by the Cape Breton Development Corporation, Investigation of Potential Radiation Exposure at Phalen Mine, October 18, 1999. They themselves admit that they are at fault, and I will table it. I would ask the minister, given the fact that Devco has already pleaded guilty in court to neglect by exposing these miners to gamma radiation, why is the minister ignoring the pleas of these coal miners, to bring resolve to their claim?

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, the report that the honourable member put on the table is a report that acknowledges responsibility for actions taking place within the mine. It does not relate to the injury or the exposure or any cause that might be related between the exposure and any disease it might have created. The honourable member knows that. (Interruptions)

Mr. Speaker, I know full well what I am talking about, and the honourable member (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member for Halifax Needham. You have about 30 seconds.

EDUC. - UNIVS.: GOVERNANCE - POLICY

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Education. There is some controversy regarding governance in universities, particularly universities like Acadia. We haven't heard much from the government. I would like to ask the

[Page 5300]

minister, where there are obvious divisions within a university community, what is your government's policy? Is it to take sides?

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

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 Bill No. 46. The debate was adjourned by the honourable member for Cape Breton Centre.

Bill No. 46 - Financial Measures (2000) Act.

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

MR. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, how much time?

MR. SPEAKER: You have 39 minutes.

MR. CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, last night when we adjourned and we were talking about that I was not a fly-by-night politician or I would zip my mouth closed, when I was talking to the Minister of Finance, (Interruption) That is right. Yesterday, when we were talking, and last night again when we were talking about the hoisting of this bill for six months, I was talking about various departments and the impact that this would have, particularly on the budgets of these departments this year.

We talked some around Sysco because I talked again about if we had six months to ferret out the difference between the $378 million that this government had mentioned that it would try to put on as the overall debt of this province and I was wanting to find out, of that $378 million, what portion of the Sysco debt was for clean-up, which portion was for the pensions of any affected workers. I guess we still don't have an idea of where that line is drawn there and I think it would be important because if we took that six months and if we could use that time to separate those two amounts and, therefore, what it would do over that six month period, it would give these workers that may be affected by pensions, what exact

[Page 5301]

amount they are dealing with. Right now there is no kind of line drawn in the sand that we can understand how much is to go for pensions and that is an important aspect here if we are going to do any kind of changing of the guard, if you will, at Sysco and the sale, or the closure.

If we know what is there for pensions, then I think those workers could deal with that in a more straightforward way and I certainly say that the six months would give us adequate time to ferret out that amount. We could then go forward with that, Mr. Speaker, and I think that is important.

Mr. Speaker, another question I think begs to be asked and I think, again, we can use a comfortable box of six months to look at, is a question I asked the Acting Premier today on Devco because there is not very much clarity by this government and what it sees as its role, but if this government was to step back from it for a period of time - and we will say six months - we could bring a clarity to that situation that has not been seen in some time. The clarity in that situation would be what role is going to be placed on the owner of the Devco assets?

As a province we own the resource that is buried in the ground. So are we going to sell the assets, if you will, of Devco to somebody from outside the province, someone from outside the country quite likely, and that they will end up with the contracts for Nova Scotia Power, but will not be mining any coal? So basically what we will do is we will hive off the assets of Devco and have nobody working in the coal industry in this province. Meanwhile, we will be burning offshore coal, but if this provincial government, through its members that it has on the Board of Directors of the Cape Breton Development Corporation, were to voice the province's displeasure in saying we needed a period of time to study any sale of the actual workings of the Cape Breton Development Corporation or its assets. That period can be say, six months. Then it would again allow us time to look at that. It is important because what we are looking at here about these two industries that I just spoke about are what a lot of people would call yesterday's industries. But when we talk to people, we still see that they play a vital role in our economy today.

[2:00 p.m.]

As I mentioned in my question earlier today, Cape Breton coal is responsible for over 50 per cent of the power generated in this province, so you just can't take a factor like that out of the economy and say it is now going to have a downward effect on our economy. If we would get involved in a very proactive way about the economy here and start to tell the federal government that it is important not only that the person who buys Devco assumes the coal contract, but they assume the right and indeed, the necessity to mine that coal and to sell it and to keep people working.

[Page 5302]

We know that those mines are not going to employ the amount of people that we saw in the last 20 to 30 years, but what we are saying is that they should be working mines employing some Nova Scotians. You know yourself or myself, Mr. Speaker, cannot say what is the appropriate number of people to be working at one of those locations, and I dare not say that, but what I am saying is that this government should apply the pressure to any buyer that those are operated as ongoing mines and not to buy it just for its contracts.

That is why I come back, six months would seem like a reasonable period of time. This government could get involved because, quite honestly, while I think there are some well-meaning interventions by this province in that sale, they haven't been hard-nosed enough. I think we are coming down, to use an athletic term, to crunch time. We have to do this and we have to do it now and the six month period would certainly help us because we are not just talking about keeping a small industry open here, we are talking about the very large role that industry plays in the economy of Cape Breton, not only from a goods and services aspect, but indeed what it does for the overall generation of power because you know if we were to extricate over 50 per cent of the generating power of Nova Scotia Power, then we would find ourselves at the whim of quite possibly foreign governments, foreign business people and I suggest to you that is not a good situation to find ourselves in.

There are two industries right there that I believe if we took our time and really studied the impact they would have on the economy of this province, we would see it with much more clarity and I think the six months would give us that amount of time.

I am going to move off that for a bit and I am going to talk about another piece of the puzzle. It is one that I think is near and dear to your heart, Mr. Speaker, and that is highway construction and road work. The one thing that I had hoped when this government came to power was that we would see a province-wide plan for road construction and road improvement. Quite honestly, I have been disappointed because it has not come down. Why that idea has not come down is a mystery to me.

We have seen the minister here talk about engaging committees in studying the privatization of public works and transportation, but we have not seen the minister come forward and talk at any great length about what the priorities will be for paving, maintenance and reconstruction of our highway system. I think that should be the priority. While I don't necessarily agree with the privatization of work on our highway system, indeed, if that was the will of the government, then this six month period would be a period in which they could study it with more clarity and more focus.

Mr. Speaker, I have roads in my constituency that are virtually impassable. It is important, and I think everybody in this House agrees, especially those who are interlinked by the highway system, maybe not so much the urban sectors, but ones where those highways are necessary for the transportation of goods, and indeed the transportation of citizens to their workplace. What would be more forthright from this government than that plan, to set out

[Page 5303]

a plan for the priorities of reconstruction and maintenance of our highway system. Have we seen that from this government? No, what we have seen is a kind of back-door approach to trying to privatize that sector. I don't know if this is the whim of the new Minister of Transportation and Public Works, or if it is a carry-over or a hangover from the former minister.

Mr. Speaker, we would need six months, at least, to ferret that out. I think what we need today, from this minister, would be for him to table a plan for the highways of Nova Scotia. We are not seeing that from this government. This minister in particular, who is a minister who has served under four Premiers, four Premiers if you consider Premier Bacon. We are not talking about a minister who is learning baptism under fire, we are talking about a senior member of this House, who certainly realizes and has helped preside over, I may add, some of the deterioration of the highway system in this province. I may also add, this same minister, one of the major planks of his personal re-election platform was the twinning of Highway No. 101.

Mr. Speaker, I don't think I have to tell anybody in this House about the carnage on that highway. Rather than face that and live up to a promise he made during the election campaign, he has gone into the back-room mode of a study. Those studies lose some of their shine if they are done in these ways, these back-room-type ways. We need this government to involve the House in these decisions, not so-called outside experts, because in this House, I think, we all know the necessity of the twinning of Highway No. 101; we know the necessity of reconstruction of sections of Highway No. 103. These items are of the utmost importance, yet they want to be put out to a group that has no contact and no jurisdiction within this House.

Mr. Speaker, I think it is important that we look at this. It impacts on the budget of that department. Since it is being done, why not hoist this bill for six months so we can see the impact of that study on this budget? To me, that makes a whole lot of sense. We could find out how that is going to impact on us.

Mr. Speaker, another item I think that we have to look at seriously here is workplace safety. Today, Nova Scotians celebrate not a very happy anniversary on the anniversary of the Westray explosion. The general regulations have been kicked around like a football in this province for quite these many years and it is delay after delay. Why are these not being enacted? Why are we not putting a thumb on them and saying, okay, this is when they are going to be done? If we are going to delay some, let's say no later than six months we will have them all in, but we don't know if we are going to get any.

As I mentioned previously, and as reported by the Minister of Justice in a news story, some of the roll-over regulations, don't worry he told farmers, they will not be enacted anyway. So, Mr. Speaker, that makes me afraid of the ability for ministerial independence here. Does the Minister of Justice have the right to override the Minister of Labour on these

[Page 5304]

issues? I don't believe so, but we should have a guarantee from this government that all these labour regulations will be in place by no later than six months hence. I think that is why the six months work.

We have got emerging problems every day with the Department of Agriculture's bill. Just this morning at the Committee on Resources meeting, Pork Nova Scotia was there. They did not know how the minister arrived at his budget. I only have to go back to a little over a year ago, yes, about a year ago, to the crisis that faced the pork industry in this province and how integral and how well members of your Party, Mr. Speaker, at that time fought for the pork industry because of the market place and the pressure that was being brought on that industry. As we all, I should not say we all know, but most of us know, most people will tell you about the pork industry, it is a five year cycle. It goes from demand and circles around to price.

AN HON. MEMBER: I did not know that. Can we study that in six months?

MR. CORBETT: We can study that. We can bring some clarity for those members in this House saying that they did not realize that the pork industry acts on a five year cycle. You know, Mr. Speaker, pork and politics both operate in five year cycles. I don't know if it says something about politics in this province or not, but if we were to take six months and truly analyse the effects of this budget, I mean, we took specialists out of the Department of Agriculture, one could clearly argue, at probably its most sensitive time. We are coming into planting season and it is a new spring season. So we really don't know.

No farmer had budgeted for that. No new farmer getting into the business could foresee that. They, I am sure, entered the business under the assumption that these helpful departments and agencies would be there for them, Mr. Speaker, but they have been kind of cut off at the knees here. These people are no longer there for them. We don't have the specialists in many of the departments that we need and I daresay that if you are a young farmer starting out, you have larger concerns than trying to go and find someone in the public sector who can do those jobs as they were provided for by your government.

So, Mr. Speaker, is that just another burden we are placing on the farm industry of this province and I think it is one that, in my line of thinking, is much too onerous for young or old farmers to bear. I think if we took six months to study this impact . . .

[2:15 p.m.]

AN HON. MEMBER: There might be another way.

MR. CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, well, there may be another way, and maybe I will talk about that later. There are other ways we could help Nova Scotians to try and come to grips with this budget. In this part of my talk, right now, the only clear message is six months.

[Page 5305]

Mr. Speaker, another department that you may have noticed in the last few weeks, has caused some debate within Nova Scotians, is Education. You may not have noticed that, but I have. I think you are a bright enough fellow that you did too. This is another one of those problems where, probably, we will not know the real impact until shortly into the fall, when the new school season starts, with all of the children going out there, happy as larks to get to school, and bump, they will land in there. We don't know if the idea of 50 kids to a classroom is going to come to pass. We don't know about teacher assistants, what is going to happen there. We don't know about children with special needs, what is going to happen there. These things are all important.

We have come to realize, in the waffling of this government, that we don't know what to expect, because one day they told us there would be no lay-offs. Just a short history of this, the Minister of Finance tells us, 400 retirees. After some ferreting, and not a whole heck of a lot, it was found out that 400 people are not eligible to retire this year. So they backed off on that. Then they say there will be no teacher losses. Well, we find out that to meet these budgets, there have to be some teacher losses. Now they are saying, the only teacher losses will be term teachers.

Mr. Speaker, what happens? No matter how you cut it, there are job losses. There are going to be teachers not replaced in the classroom. The only way this is going to go is, if there are fewer teachers, there are going to have to be larger classrooms. Mathematically that is not hard to figure out. One way of doing this would be to take six months and study it, to make sure - (Interruptions) that can be done by a committee of this House - and find out what impact that is going to have on the classrooms. I heard, today, a challenge go out to the Minister of Education to follow around a special needs child for a day. Those things should have been done long before there was any budget proposal put forward. What we are finding out - and it is fine and dandy for the minister to say, oh, I will do that but it is not good enough to say I will do that, she should have said I did that. It should have been done.

Mr. Speaker, that appears to be the largest problem Nova Scotians have with this budget. They realize that there has been no consultation in any real forum with this budget. Workers weren't asked to participate in the Department of Education. Administrators weren't asked to participate in the Department of Education. Yet, they slapped this bill on us; they slapped this budget on us, and we don't know if we are buying a pig in a poke here.

It is very important that we go to this group again and try and say, let's see how this will really impact financially, because we all know financially it rolls out to student numbers, the ability of people to participate in the Education system, so it is extremely important. That is why I would ask you, today, to look seriously at the six months' hoist, Mr. Speaker. If that doesn't seem to work, maybe we could work something else out. I don't know, but right now I think that is extremely important, because we are sending a message out there right now by this slashing and cutting. What we are sending out to people is that this province is not a stable place to do business. We are sending out to doctors in other provinces who may be

[Page 5306]

looking at coming to Nova Scotia, we are saying don't come here, you will be overworked, you will be underpaid, and you will be hassled by the government. That is the message you are sending out here; this government is doing that.

So, the best recruiters in the world will not be able to attract good, hard-working physicians to the areas of this province where they are really needed, and I would go so far as to say our foremost area is in the rural areas, and I know that is near and dear to you, Mr. Speaker. If we are sending out those negative vibes, if you will, to those people, how are we going to attract them? We have to honestly portray ourselves as a government and as province that wants these people here. I think if we were to study the Health budget closer to find out what we really need and, if it needs cutting, where we should cut. We are looking at a major restructuring in health care delivery in this province that is not going to fold out for at least six months anyway. So we have to do that.

Mr. Speaker, this is one aspect that we have to very cautious with, and I think the six months' hoist will work there. It is very compatible because I just talked about probably two of the primary needs of this province: the ability to give our children the proper education to arm themselves for the future, to build Nova Scotia's economy and place us in the position of a have-province; and the other one being health care which is a basic necessity, but we have to be a leader in it. By virtue of the teaching hospitals here in metro, we are seen by and large as the caregiver to Atlantic Canada when it comes to specialty needs, but if we keep bad mouthing our system we will erode it to such a point that nobody will have confidence in it.

So, if we don't have confidence in it, outsiders won't have confidence in it. I think it is important with the changes that are coming, six months would help unfold these actions and it would give Nova Scotians some time, Mr. Speaker . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: We need to do something.

MR. CORBETT: Yes. I am getting help here, Mr. Speaker. We need to do something. Health care and education are the bedrock in which areas like Nova Scotia and the Maritime Provinces and provinces referred to as have-not provinces. I think we need the time to look at that in its totality, how it is going to affect. We need a way to show Nova Scotians and, indeed the government needs it.

We are saying as Opposition Parties that we would help, because lots of times government says you are long on criticism and short on anything constructive. Well, this is one way we believe of being constructive and trying to show the government maybe we are not at the precipice of a fall that we can't get out of. We are here, Mr. Speaker, that we can take our time there is, as they say, wiggle room.

AN HON. MEMBER: Wiggle room, yes, the Tories do a lot of wiggling.

[Page 5307]

MR. CORBETT: Yes. As a matter of fact, Mr. Speaker, as we speak, today, we have government agencies down in the New England States trying to market this province. They are doing a fine job, but they could do better. They could do better because most of the reports that we are getting out of there are negative in aspects and all they are talking about is the bad transportation system we have down here and the bad medical system we have here.

Mr. Speaker, I don't know who they are going to attract with that type of bashing one another as opposed to going down there and airing your dirty linen at home instead of out in the wilds of New England but, nonetheless, they are doing it.

MR. SPEAKER: Would the honourable member for Cape Breton Centre permit an introduction?

MR. CORBETT: Of course.

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

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank very much the member for Cape Breton Centre for yielding the floor long enough, in the middle of his very eloquent debate on the Financial Measures (2000) Act, for me to make an introduction.

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to introduce to you and to the members of the House the Grade 6 class from Joseph Giles School. There are 26 students and they are accompanied by Mr. Philip Boyle, Mrs. Monk, Mrs. Connors, Mrs. Sampson, Mr. Young and Mrs. Fader. They are joining us here today to see the building and to see a little bit of the debate that is taking place around this bill. I would like to ask them to rise and receive the welcome of the House. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: Welcome, indeed, to our visitors in the gallery.

MR. CORBETT: So we are out there and we are trying now, Mr. Speaker, to sell this province to another country and, again, like I say, as opposed to telling what we have to offer, they are out there telling them what is wrong with this province. That is wrong because, as an Opposition Party, that is my role but, in all seriousness, I think they made some classic mistakes down there and one hopes that they can get by them and indeed for the betterment of the economy of this province that they can sell it, but I am not sure because some of the leadership has left that little junket and returned back to the House. So I don't know, without the capable leadership of some of the junior ministers they sent down there, I am not sure if that work can be carried on.

[Page 5308]

Mr. Speaker, I notice I am getting hand signals from my good friend, the Minister of Justice, and I don't know whether he likes me personally or he just wants to hear me talk some more, but if he wants to give me a hand, he certainly can. (Interruption) I think the Minister of Finance gets my drift.

Mr. Speaker, six months of this government's time is probably, well, it could be a lifetime for a lot of Nova Scotians, but it is not an insurmountable amount of time to ask for, to try to meet with Nova Scotians and explain . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: Bond with their constituents.

MR. CORBETT: Well, yes, Mr. Speaker, I mean if I did a survey of all the members opposite about the amount of mail, phone calls and electronic messaging they have got in the last few weeks just on education alone, it would be in the thousands. I daresay it would be close to the hundred thousand mark and that is quite horrific considering that this government has been in power for less than a year.

AN HON. MEMBER: They have only had 10 months.

MR. CORBETT: They did all this damage in 10 months. Let's try to effect some repairs in six months. Let's try and look at that, Mr. Speaker. Why can't they give it six months? Why can't they go to the people of Nova Scotia and do some real consultative work? Go and talk to them. See what Nova Scotians have to say. Nova Scotians don't want a slash and burn government. They want a government that will give them clear direction. If they went out and asked Nova Scotians this very idea, they would get lots of support for it if they would take the attitude of, we are working with you, not against you.

[2:30 p.m.]

In this budget, the sick have been attacked; the people on community services, the poor have been attacked; the people trying to receive an education, the young children of this province have been attacked. Where is the other side of the ledger? Where is the balancing in this budget that Nova Scotians expect? Nova Scotians will gladly help with the burden of the debt if two things were done: that the debt was openly and honestly portrayed and that they would be asked to carry a fair share of that debt. But what we have done by way of this budget is put the whole burden of the waste and the expense of this budgetary process on the backs of the ones who can least afford it. Where are we, Mr. Speaker? Where is the fairness with this government?

Maybe six months will not do it. Maybe that is not the way to go. What we do need is experts to openly tell us, not behind some locked door, but openly in the fresh air of Nova Scotia, maybe in this building itself, ones that could swear to this. I am going to make an amendment: that the motion be amended by removing all the words from the following and

[Page 5309]

inserting therefore the words, "The subject matter of Bill No. 46, the Financial Measures (2000) Act be referred to the Standing Committee on Public Accounts." Mr. Speaker, I so move. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I beg your pardon, I was at the back, I didn't hear. Is this a sub-amendment that we . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I would like to have an opportunity. Would the honourable member send the amendment up to the Speaker's Chair, please? (Interruption) Perhaps we could take two or three minutes to recess.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

Five minutes maximum.

[2:33 p.m. The House recessed.]

[2:37 p.m. The House reconvened.]

MR. SPEAKER: We will bring the House back to order. I have ruled that the amendment is inadmissible. You cannot move an amendment to an amendment that is presently on the floor. (Interruption) Is the honourable member contesting the ruling?

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, before you complete your ruling, I would ask you . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. What is the honourable member on his feet for? On a point of order?

MR. HOLM: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. I am trying to be helpful here. You said that you cannot move an amendment if there is an amendment on the floor. Some amendments, according to Beauchesne are, in fact, very much in order. If you have a copy of Beauchesne handy, it is on Pages 176 and 177, where it talks about sub-amendments and the purpose of sub-amendments, and if you wish I would be happy to read the section to you. Paragraph 580 says, "The purpose of a sub-amendment . . . is to alter the amendment. It should not enlarge upon the scope of the amendment but it should deal with matters that are not covered by the amendment."

[Page 5310]

Mr. Speaker, I would suggest that the amendment that is before us does not, in fact, enlarge upon it. What it does is it gives more clear directions as to what can be done within that six month period of time and that is, it is suggesting the subject matter of the bill can, in fact, be referred to the Committee on Public Accounts to be carrying out that kind of detailed evaluation of this legislation that is necessary before it would proceed. I can continue to read.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. That won't be necessary, honourable member. The ruling is that the amendment is not permissible. It would be allowable had it been during second reading of the bill. We have an amendment before the House to hoist the bill, and I won't entertain any other further points of order.

The honourable member for Clare on the hoist amendment that is before the House.

MR. WAYNE GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise and speak on the amendment to hoist Bill No. 46, An Act Respecting Certain Financial Measures. When I just browsed quickly at this bill, I can certainly understand why an additional six months would certainly be welcome. This amendment will give the government more time to consult with Nova Scotians and tell them what is in this budget and how this budget will impact on them. I am sure, as a responsible government, they should want the opportunity to have six months to speak with Nova Scotians, especially with the summer approaching, I am sure a lot of the government members will have a chance to talk with people in their own riding, and I am sure Nova Scotians will be quite frank with them, what they think of their budget.

Mr. Speaker, I guess all along we have heard this Tory Government speak about financial accountability, open and honest government. What a golden opportunity this is. The next six months will give this government the time they need to start to be open and accountable. We haven't seen much of it since last July

Mr. Speaker, in six months the government, as well as the people of Nova Scotia, will be in a better position to understand each other. An amendment to hoist is an amendment to give the government more time to consult with individuals that perhaps they forgot to consult with. Before this budget was tabled, I am sure there are a few things that come to mind, and certainly after the budget was tabled, a few more things came to mind. Just think, if the Minister of Education had taken the time and consulted with the school boards before this budget was tabled on April 11th. The school boards tried, they tried to tell the Minister of Education that this budget will have a devastating impact on public education in Nova Scotia. She didn't believe them, or, yet, she didn't know.

Mr. Speaker, just imagine what more time, what six months could have done for this government and for this Minister of Education. The minister didn't want to listen to students, the Minister of Education didn't want to listen to parents, she didn't want to listen to teachers, or home and school associations, or support staff. Everybody was wrong and this Minister of Education and this Tory Government stood alone in their own corner.

[Page 5311]

Mr. Speaker, surely the demonstrations, which have been taking place day after day by thousands of people right across this province, have had some influence on this government to back down. If this Tory Government had taken the time to sit down with the school boards beforehand, I am sure there would have been no need to protest these cuts to Education, and furthermore, the Premier, this Tory Government, and this Minister of Education would not have had their reputation damaged, and I guess their credibility would have been saved. It is too late for that. The damage has been done. Now we have to find some quick fix to try to do the repairs along the way.

Mr. Speaker, if this Tory Government and this Minister of Education had taken some time to sit down, yes, taken some time to sit down with school boards before this budget was drafted and before this budget was tabled, we wouldn't have this mess we have today. What this Tory Government needs to do now, and they started last week, they have to sit down with the school boards to try to resolve this mess they have created in the public education system in Nova Scotia. This government needs more time. They need more time to clean up this mess that they have created and this hoist amendment will allow them the time to do just that.

[2:45 p.m.]

What about this budget impact on the support staff, Mr. Speaker? We have not heard too much lately on bus drivers, secretaries, teaching assistants, cafeteria workers, librarians. I guess the reason why we have not heard too much is because this Minister of Education has been busy working with school boards to try to solve the crisis with laying off teachers, but I am sure in the next several weeks we will hear more how these cuts will impact on members of the NSGEU, on members of CUPE.

This government has the opportunity, Mr. Speaker, to sit down with all these support staff and to basically explain to them exactly what impact this budget will have on their lives, but we don't know, we honestly don't know. We know that some boards have said they are looking at laying off some support staff, but those negotiations are still in front of us. We don't know exactly how many individuals will be affected across the province, how many people will be affected with each of the different school boards.

Mr. Speaker, when I look back in the last, I guess roughly a week and one-half, negotiations have been ongoing for the last 10, maybe 15 days. Yes, school boards are getting closer to solutions. Are we there yet? No, we are not there yet. This government needs more time. They need more time to resolve the mess that they have created and this government has that opportunity with this hoist amendment.

[Page 5312]

Mr. Speaker, what students in Nova Scotia have gone through in the last three weeks was uncalled for and it is a shame that their education was disrupted because this Minister of Education failed to consult with the school boards, but furthermore what all those teachers who received their lay-off notices went through and their families, God only knows what they went through, but I can tell you it is terrible and it is unforgivable what this Minister of Education put them through.

Mr. Speaker, I cannot ever recall voting on a budget that is changing day by day while negotiations are under way, and yet this government refuses to take our offer to provide them with some additional time to help them resolve the current crisis in our public education system. Even after last Thursday and Friday's negotiations, we are still unclear how many teachers will be losing their jobs. Do you know? Does anyone know? I am sure the Minister of Education does not know, or members of her Tory Government do not know either.

Mr. Speaker, this government has an opportunity here to use the six month period to begin to listen to school boards and once and for all be able to tell the people of Nova Scotia how many teachers will not be returning, will not be teaching next September. Students and parents don't understand the difference between a full-time term teacher, a part-time term teacher, or the difference between a probationary I teacher or a probationary II teacher, or yet a permanent teacher. A teacher is a teacher.

Again, the six months' hoist will provide this Minister of Education and this Tory Government the time they need to help school boards resolve these problems in education and get ready for the upcoming school year.

The question here is why did this government refuse to accept this additional time that we are offering them? I don't know. Maybe the Minister of Finance has more money in his slush fund account to help school boards resolve more problems that will certainly be coming out in the days ahead.

Six months would give this government the time to reconsider all of the things in this budget and in this piece of legislation, Bill No. 46, An Act Respecting Certain Financial Measures. No wonder the Premier told the Opposition to ferret out the information. There is lots in here. This bill has 98 pages. I am sure the government's own backbench does not even know what is in this budget or what is in this piece of legislation.

We as an Opposition owe it to the people of Nova Scotia to let them know what is in Bill No. 46. We need to let them know what is in that bill because let me tell you, this government is not telling them. So in six months we will be able to discover more and more of the secrets that are hidden in Bill No. 46. I am sure as time goes by, we will be discovering those before this government tries to ram Bill No. 46 through this House. I don't think this should be allowed before a proper analysis can be done on this bill.

[Page 5313]

I believe Nova Scotians have a right to know. Especially those who supported the Tories in the last election. They certainly have a right to know as well because we have heard in this House on many occasions when that Party was asking Nova Scotians for their support, this is definitely not in their famous blue book. Nova Scotians want to know what is in this budget and what is in this piece of legislation.

There is a lot more in this bill than simply finance. This legislation, the government wants all government business enterprise or government service organizations to have prior approval of all financial transactions. I agree to a certain point, they need to know what is going on. The business enterprises and the government service organizations, just to name a few, include the seven school boards across the province, the community colleges, Collège de l'Acadie, the hospitals, the Farm Loan Board, the Fisheries Aquaculture Development Fund, Nova Scotia Arts Council, the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia and many more. There are about 60 different public agencies, boards and commissions, so I agree to a certain point that government needs to know what is going on in these different public organizations. But you also have to allow them the ability to function efficiently.

Mr. Speaker, what does the business community and the individuals who are responsible for running these different government enterprises or these different public-government organizations think about this provision? I don't know. Were they consulted as full partners in the decision-making process? Not likely. Did the government do a cost-benefit analysis on this proposal? Probably not.

Mr. Speaker, six months would give this government the time to reconsider all of the things in this budget which were thrown in at the last minute. Perhaps the reason the government is moving in this direction is because of plans to privatize most, if not all, government services. I know the government has not done proper consultation with the people of Nova Scotia to determine this, to determine what they think about privatization. What about the people in rural Nova Scotia? What about the people at home in Clare? Does the government know what they think? Do they care?

Six months would give them a great opportunity to begin to listen to Nova Scotians on these very specific and very emotional topics. Maybe, just maybe, it is the government's agenda to privatize most government services, I don't know. Maybe this Harris-Hamm agenda is becoming a Klein-Hamm agenda. Perhaps the Premier has an idea to privatize health care. I certainly hope not. I know my constituents in Clare would not want the government to move forward with any privatization strategy, especially for health, without first consulting them directly.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Could the personal conversations be turned down a notch or two, please, so we can hear the honourable member for Clare.

[Page 5314]

MR. GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, these are major decisions that this government is going to be proposing. Six months could do a lot to ensure that the government receives adequate public input on important future government public policy. If this government is not looking at privatizing everything in sight, then they should allow these government enterprises, these government-public organizations to go about doing its business reasonably.

Mr. Speaker, Bill No. 46, An Act Respecting Certain Financial Measures is not all that bad. For instance, when a department wants to initiate a new program which was not budgeted for, or that money was not allocated for, the program must wait for the next year's budget or the department is going to have to find the new money in its existing budget. This is a positive step in this whole budgeting process. But even this provision, the six month period could be used to prepare government departments for the changes. After six months, the departments would be able to hit the ground running, and implement these initiatives with the least amount of glitches. Departments must be held firm to the money which is budgeted to them.

We agree that the six months being proposed would help ensure the departments are ready, but we must also be cognizant of the fact that things sometimes happen out of our control. Things such as natural or man-made disasters happen, and I am glad to see the minister has recognized these occurrences in this legislation. When we were in government, the Liberals did that.

[3:00 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, we have said many times before that this Tory Government has no plans for Nova Scotia. The six months' hoist would give this government some time to do something they should have been doing since they took over power last summer. Could it be because this government has no plans for the future of Nova Scotia? Again, this hoist amendment would give this government more time to work on their plan. Again, why does this government not want this hoist amendment to go through? Could it be because they do not want Nova Scotians to know the truth that the financial outlook for the province is not nearly as bad as the government is saying? In six months the government, as well as the people of Nova Scotia, will be better able to see the true state of the province's finances.

Mr. Speaker, this would mean that all the ridiculous cuts proposed by the Minister of Education were not necessary. After all, how do you explain everything that has been happening in public education in Nova Scotia in the last three and one-half weeks since this budget was tabled on April 11th? How do you explain that? I don't know if you remember all the chaos this government created across Nova Scotia with our public education system, telling them these cuts were absolutely necessary. The Premier said, we have to pay our own way. The MLA for Yarmouth at a public meeting last week said, we need to tighten our belt. This Minister of Education said there was no new money for education. (Interruptions) Well, just imagine what six more months would have done.

[Page 5315]

I can tell you, this past weekend the people I spoke with think this government needs to get their act together; telling Nova Scotians one message, and then they do just the opposite. They backtracked, gave in to pressure, they changed their minds and yes, they caved in. Mr. Speaker, the Tories are re-introducing the user fee they floated in the fall in Part IV of this bill. They are talking about user fees for 911. During this debate on this amendment, I am not supposed to be looking specifically, clause by clause at this bill, but I remember last fall when the Opposition was successful in getting this government across the floor to remove this clause from their 911 bill.

Mr. Speaker, at that time the Minister of Health said, "Just because the provision is there does not mean the government will use it." Well, obviously the minister was trying to mislead Nova Scotians because here we are, less than six months later, and the government has announced this user fee for 911 again. Who has the government consulted with on this user fee? It is our understanding that MTT was not consulted until this was a done deal. Is this the Premier's open and accountable government? Does it not seem strange that the company that would be putting this charge on our monthly telephone bill should have some say in the process? This, again, shows the arrogance of this government; they have their agenda and they don't need to consult with anyone.

Mr. Speaker, this is the government's opportunity. Take the next six months and sit down, talk with MTT, talk with Nova Scotians and explain to them exactly how this user fee will be implemented, how this user fee for 911 will affect them. I am sure that Nova Scotians have concerns over this 911 user fee. Will the rate apply across the board to everyone who has a phone? What about those individuals who have more than one phone? What about all those individuals who have cellular phones? Will the rate remain the same next year? I would like to have that on paper if at all possible. Do you know why? I don't trust those guys across the floor. From what we have seen time and time again, I don't trust them. (Interruptions)

Mr. Speaker, last week I visited an individual who has no phone. He cannot afford it with what he is receiving from Community Services. Maybe this individual has been forgotten by this Tory Government. So my plea to them on his behalf is to take the time and consult with those individuals across the province who have been forgotten because we want to make sure that no one will be forgotten under this new government policy.

Mr. Speaker, Part II of Bill No. 46 talks about the Assessment Act, and with regard to the assessment aspect of this bill, the obvious question that comes to mind is what consultation was done with municipalities. Did the Minister of Housing and Municipal Affairs sit down with the municipal units? Did he sit down with the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities? Did they agree to this downloading? Did they agree that at every opportunity they would be there to shoulder the brunt of the government's downloading? I don't think so. I have a hard time believing that they did this without speaking with the municipalities. (Interruption) That's right. My honourable colleague, the member for Dartmouth North, says if this government takes the time the Opposition is providing them, six months, they will have

[Page 5316]

the opportunity to sit down with municipalities across this province and have some serious discussions. They will have enough time to sit down and discuss these measures with municipalities, and this time really discuss, not just sit down with them and tell them how it is going to be, but sit down and listen to what they have to say.

I guess the obvious question is, speaking of downloading, what are the costs going to be on municipalities? What happened to this government's promise not to download onto the municipalities? How soon do we forget. Who is responsible for doing this work? Who is responsible for training and upgrading the assessors? If there are appeals, who will hear these appeals and where? These are questions that we are asking. They are questions we want answers for, and we want the government to take this opportunity to go out and find the answers if they don't have them now, but take the time, find the answers in six months that they are proposing, and go back to the municipalities.

Mr. Speaker, in closing, when I look at this hoist amendment, ultimately, this government has a golden opportunity here in front of them. Take this time to sit down with school boards, talk to the farmers, talk to the Nova Scotia Federation of Agriculture, to name a few, but ultimately to talk to Nova Scotians. Many people still don't know what is in this budget that was voted on last Friday and supported by all the Tory Government members. What is in this Bill No. 46, An Act Respecting Certain Financial Measures? There is a lot of information there in front of us.

Mr. Speaker, this government needs this time, they need the six month period just to get their act together if nothing else. I know this Tory Government has no credibility with the students throughout Nova Scotia. They have none. It is a shame. They had an opportunity and they blew it. Now we have to do some damage control to try to save this Minister of Education (Interruption) and you are absolutely right, save the education system. There are many, many cuts that I am sure are in the Education budget that we are still not sure of, that we still haven't heard about. I would ask this government to seriously consider our offer to delay this bill and especially use the time that is before this House to allow them to come up with a plan for the future of Nova Scotia and allow this Minister of Education another chance to help our students.

We are not talking about how these cuts will be affecting all the individuals within the system, we will save that for another day, we are talking about how this government should be investing in the future of our children in this province. This is an opportunity, and maybe with the opportunity that this government failed to take when they drafted their budget and tabled it several weeks ago, they will go back and basically revisit the Minister of Education's budget. I just hope for the sake of all the children of this province that the Minister of Finance will again be able to help school boards to resolve some differences. I am sure there will be others who will be arriving at the forefront in the next few weeks.

[Page 5317]

Mr. Speaker, again, I want to thank you for having had the opportunity to speak on this hoist amendment.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

MS. EILEEN O'CONNELL: Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of an amendment which has been put forward to hoist a particular bill. The bill to be hoisted is Bill No. 46, An Act Respecting Certain Financial Measures. It is remarkable, I think, the unanimity on this side of the House on this particular amendment. There is a general sense that something needs to be done in order to begin to wrestle with the budget and the implications of it, and the companionship legislation which has blind-sided Nova Scotians. That is where the notion of hoisting this bill comes in. As everybody in this House knows, a hoist amendment for six months suggests we put this bill aside for six months to give us time, not just the Opposition, but the government, especially the government, to give thoughtful consideration to the implications of the bill that is before us.

Mr. Speaker, other speakers before me have talked about the implications of the budget in relation to this bill, and in my view they are quite right to do that because there is an agenda here, and the agenda manifests itself both in this bill, which seems to carry out some measures which will make their budget lines at least appear to work over the coming months and the coming years. A six month hoist of this particular bill gives us a golden opportunity. This is not obstructionist, this is not time wasted. A hoist of this bill would give the members of this House and, more particularly, Nova Scotians the opportunity think carefully, to understand the relationship of this bill to the budget that was passed, over our objections, in this place last week, and would give us time, and especially give Nova Scotians time to integrate the knowledge that they have over a period of time.

Mr. Speaker, as an educator, I know the importance of time in learning. Very often we begin to learn something initially, we may learn the facts, we may learn a few details, we may learn a few implications, but real learning takes some time. What you have to do to understand something, and to absorb it into your mental furniture and your mental framework, is you need to integrate it into your thinking and a hoist amendment, a six month wait, before we all - to use a phrase - rush to judgement here would be extremely useful for that period of integration that is necessary to truly understand what it is that is going on here, because it is clear, as I have said, that there is a strong relationship between the budget that was passed and this particular Bill No. 46.

Mr. Speaker, what alarms me and what makes me stand up and speak in favour of a hoist amendment is that I have the sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach that the members opposite, who championed this budget and this companion legislation, don't understand it any more than we do. We have seen that over and over again in this House, so I think it is a good idea to look at this hoist as a useful period of time. It would have been better perhaps to look at it beforehand. I understand that the federal government looks at the budget, I think its

[Page 5318]

Finance Committee does it, but we don't have that process so maybe after the fact would be the way to go with this.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Nova and some other members have drawn our attention also to the enormous size of this bill. I struggled with it, Mr. Speaker, like so many of us. I struggled with this massive bill and among a whole range of other changes, Pages 5 to 81 deal with changes to the Income Tax Act. I am not a tax expert, and I am not a tax lawyer. I am a taxpayer who gets out that little computer program to zip out my taxes and hope that I have not made any mistakes even using a beginner's computer program. I am not an expert; I cannot imagine any time less than six months in which I would understand this bill.

I thank the member for Cape Breton Nova for pointing to the difficulty of the bill and the length of time needed to understand it when he asked the question of one of my colleagues about the equation at the bottom of Page 10. Mr. Speaker, I want to give it a little more detail, to give you an illustration of why it is that so much time is required to understand the massive document before us and its enormous implications.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Nova did ask a member if he understood the equation (A x B x C/D) + (E x (C - (B x C/D))). We cannot say that in less than six months we would have a clue what this means, but it is much more complicated than that and even if we were to figure this out in a matter of days, I shudder to think how we would work out the equation given that the next one, two, three, four subclauses in this Clause 26 (2) tell us what each of the letters stands for and you get, I mean, Mr. Speaker, "B is the least of the amounts determined pursuant to paragraphs 125(1)(a), (b) and (c) of the Federal Act . . ." I am not even going to finish that - "C is the corporation's taxable income earned in the year in the Province; D is the corporation's taxable income earned in the year in a province; and E is 16%."

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I would remind the honourable member that she should be speaking to the hoist amendment.

AN HON. MEMBER: She is, six months . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I would ask the honourable member to bring her comments back to the amendment at hand, please.

MS. O'CONNELL: Mr. Speaker, I will just reiterate for you that what I thought I was doing, and I believe that I am, is giving an indication of the difficulty of the bill. The relationship of that to the six months' hoist is that if it is this difficult, then we really need to take the time to look carefully at it and, as I have said, for not just the members of this place but for Nova Scotians to try to understand its difficulty.

[Page 5319]

Now when we look at this bill in its general outline, we understand, I think, its general outline, it is the implications and the end results of it that we need the six months' hoist for, Mr. Speaker, because the general purposes, there seem to be two things going on in this bill. One of them is that the bill uploads power to the government and we saw that before, especially in the Health Authorities Bill, which is before the House.

The second thing that we see in this bill, in a general way, although we don't understand its implications and probably need six months to figure them out, is that the bill downloads costs. We are familiar with this. We saw this in the budget. We saw an attitude from this government that there were going to be higher user fees, which are a form of tax and so on. Mr. Speaker, it is fine to get the general drift of a bill. It is fine to understand the government's general drift which is to say it is grabbing power and downloading costs, but we have to figure out what that means. I, frankly, think Nova Scotians would want to know, even if the government may not want them to know that; even some government members don't know it themselves.

Mr. Speaker, I want to look at some of the particular things that the bill does so that I can show you why it is that we need to put this thing on the shelf for six months while we figure things out. Some of them I have to say truly, I am not up here to say everything in this bill is uniformly bad, but I don't know and I don't think others know. So what I would like to do is to point out some of the things that I think the bill does and explain to you and to the members why I think this particular clause, which enables something to happen, needs to be looked at more closely over the next six months.

The first thing that I have noted is that it gets rid of the Alcohol and Gaming Authority and it seems to have a reasonable motive, Mr. Speaker. The reasonable motive is that it would save money by having another department do it. But do we know if it is going to save money?

AN HON. MEMBER: We don't know that.

MS. O'CONNELL: We don't know that yet, do we? We have no idea. Mr. Speaker, half a year's budgeting will show up in six months and we will be able to tell whether the clause in this bill that gets rid of the Alcohol and Gaming Authority has, in fact, saved the money, which I assume is the motive for this clause in the bill. In six months, we may very well know that. In fact, we should know it, if anybody is looking and checking on it.

Mr. Speaker, there is a clause in the bill that allows municipalities to determine whether or not to levy taxes on machinery and equipment. The member for Sackville-Cobequid spoke quite eloquently about that a few days back. He pointed out that this has changed over time in the past. Do we know the implications of it in the future? That is why we need the six months. The member for Sackville-Cobequid, I think, was quite right to point out that there may be problems with this particular clause in the bill because it may cause some competitive gaps between one municipality and another. So six months seems like a reasonable time to

[Page 5320]

give the municipalities to look this over and to explain to the government how this might affect them. There would be time for consultation about whether or not those municipalities were going to levy those taxes and if they did, what the implications would be. Again, it seems totally sensible to me to put this thing on the back burner for six months.

[3:30 p.m.]

The changes to the Corrections Act removes the Minister of Labour from any financial responsibility for the cost of appointees to the Adjudication Board, including the expenses of the chair. I don't understand this one very well either and I am not ashamed to say so. It looks to me like it belongs in that category of downloading costs and it is something that I would like to understand better and I am sure that many others would want to understand better. Over the six months that we might have, should this amendment pass in order to understand this particular clause, it might very well, Mr. Speaker, take six months to understand it as the honourable member points out.

The 911 user fees, this especially I think needs a six months' hoist. Because we have been through this before and the government didn't get it. Back last fall, Nova Scotians told the government and the Opposition told the government on their behalf that this was an unacceptable tax, user fee, call it whatever you want, call it anything, but here we have it popping up like a bad penny again in Bill No. 46. I would suggest that if the government didn't get it the first time, they may very well need six months to get it this time. That in itself is a good enough argument for that hoist. The government claims that it is going to pay $677,000, the cost of administering the program - we don't know that. We don't know that yet because we don't know any details, as other honourable members have pointed out on whether it is cell phones or phones in the house or anything like that.

Let's hoist this thing, let's put this back to the government, put the responsibility back there for six months. Let them work it out and then let them put it on the table and say, in six months, this is how it is going to work, this is what it is going to cost and this is what it is going to pay. Then we can at least express our strong objections in a knowledgeable way. It is very discouraging, over and over again, to feel like mushrooms and I am sure that Nova Scotians feel the same way.

There is one here that might be fine. Again, I am no economist. There is a clause that gives the Minister of Finance the power to revoke the Certificate of Registration for a community economic development corporation. In six months somebody might be able to explain to me, is this of any benefit to Nova Scotians or is this just the uploading of power and the downloading of costs onto Nova Scotians?

There is also quite a bit of stuff in this bill about governments running deficits. The hoist would be a useful mechanism here because it seems to me that even in the short time I have been here, this is the second go-round with this at least. It seems that whatever governments

[Page 5321]

do to pass legislation or to make any kind of rules to demand a balanced budget that all that does is back the government into a corner where it then has to perhaps rearrange numbers, rearrange its accounting in order to make it look like it did what it enforced upon itself in the first place. In six months we might have a clear picture of whether or not this legislation is any better than the previous legislation from the previous government that created the Expenditure Control Act. We don't know, Mr. Speaker. We just don't know. Six months might do it, six months just might.

This bill is going to wind up the Halifax-Dartmouth Port Development Commission. It is not an area I am well versed on. Some members indeed may have had these kinds of issues in their critic area. They may know more than me, but I can assure you that most Nova Scotians may not at all understand the implications of winding down the Halifax-Dartmouth Port Development Commission. I would bet that in six months, we would have the time, if we did it right, to burrow in and see the result. What is the context for example? I don't know the context for winding up the Port Commission. I doubt Nova Scotians do either, and I don't know the implications either.

So, here we are again, Mr. Speaker, with the problem of needing time. We need some time to look at these things and in particular the winding down of the Port Commission because we don't know what that means either. The Halifax-Dartmouth Port Development Commission is something that is centred in Halifax but which has profound implication on the rest of the province. What are those implications? Six months would do us a world of good on that subject.

Back to taxes, Mr. Speaker. As I said earlier, 76 pages of this bill relate directly to the Income Tax Act. While the federal government has taken measures to reduce bracket creep, and I am sure Mr. Speaker knows what that is. I hope he knows - bracket creep occurs when your income tax brackets are not tied to inflation, and you find yourself moving into another tax bracket simply because of the inflated costs of goods and services. So you pay more taxes even though your standard of living is not at all improved. This bill decouples provincial tax from the federal tax. This seems to me to be a huge disadvantage to Nova Scotians. I think six months might show us what that disadvantage is. Are Nova Scotians going to pay more tax? It looks like it to me. But I don't really know, and as I said, I am not a tax lawyer or a tax expert of any kind. It looks to me as if we are going to pay more income tax. Let's find out. Let's give ourselves six months, and let's find that out.

There are implications for corporate taxes. It looks to me, and again being no expert and wanting to know, Mr. Speaker, is there a tax break for large corporations built into this that is unnecessary, that they don't need and might be well able to pay that would benefit this province? That is my question the six months might answer. This amendment would enable yet again another question to be answered over this time.

[Page 5322]

There are several clauses in the bill that indicate again either the grabbing of power or the downloading of costs onto whether it is a municipality or an individual taxpayer. Taxation of estates under the Probate Act, I don't know what those fees are now, Mr. Speaker. Is it a reasonable raise? Let's hope so if it is going to happen. But let's think about it, let's talk about it, let's find out the presumably simple information that lies behind this and again, coupled with all the more complicated stuff that is in this bill - it, by itself, wouldn't need six months, Mr. Speaker, no way - but coupled with the more complex clauses in this bill, six months is probably the minimum that we need in order to find out whether or not this bill is a good bill for Nova Scotians. This bill gives Cabinet approval, a pre-condition for any financial transaction.

Mr. Speaker, I read an article recently about court government. It sounds to me and, again, I don't know, six months might help . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: It surely will help. It will help.

MS. O'CONNELL: I don't know whether this is what it looks like it is, which is to diminish the power of ministers in various departments to do their job. Could it be that? I don't know, Mr. Speaker, but I would like to know because if you centralize the power in the hands of one branch of government, how do you handicap the other departments which contain knowledgeable public servants who are there to help the government? I don't know and six months might tell us. So maybe we should hoist this for that reason, too.

There are blatant grabs, I think, in this bill. Increasing the charge from $50 to $100 for convictions under the Summary Proceedings Act and $20 for parking infractions. Mr. Speaker, it looks to me, although I am not sure and I would like to think about it for six months, it seems to me that this is very much like a sin tax. It is a quick and dirty way to scoop some money, particularly on parking infractions, I would assume. How much are we going to make from it? We don't have a clue.

Do you know, Mr. Speaker, I haven't raised this yet but the other thing we have to think about over the next six months is if the government is going to grab all of this money, what is it going to do with it? I will get back to that later.

This bill has countless other implications. A couple of clauses remove the government responsibility for paying its one-third share of fees for an arbitration board, one of them under the Teachers' Collective Bargaining Act, the other one under the Trade Union Act. Again, Mr. Speaker, it looks very much to me like a downloading of costs onto the other parties. I don't know what arbitrations cost. I can imagine that they are not cheap and that the government might very well like to play without paying but it seems to me we don't know how much money this is going to cost the trade unions or the teachers in this situation.

[Page 5323]

I find it very odd, Mr. Speaker, and I really need time to think this one out, that the power of the Director of Victim Services to vary awards of compensation is restricted by this bill. Now that is something that has been in the news over the years but we have never talked about that and six months would do well for us to discover what it is that that means and how restrictive it is and whether the Director of Victims Services could do his or her job.

Mr. Speaker, there are more. I didn't even go into all of them.

AN HON. MEMBER: Please do.

MS. O'CONNELL: I would be happy to except I am afraid that I might be boring the other members of the House, or yourself, Mr. Speaker.

[3:45 p.m.]

AN HON. MEMBER: No, you are not.

MS. O'CONNELL: I want to talk, for a few minutes, at least, about the relationship of this bill to what the government has already done and we come really right there, Mr. Speaker, to the biggest reason for this hoist and what needs to be done over the next six months.

There is, I think the member for Halifax Needham referred to it as debt panic, I think it is an excellent phrase. We heard, going into this session around the budget, we know, because we were told by experts who know and this government says that 19 per cent of our revenue goes on interest payments, I believe that is correct, the government's goal in three years is to lower that to 10 per cent. Maybe in six months, if we hoist this bill, we will come to realize that in Ontario, even the Harris Government, pays 16 per cent of its revenue in debt servicing. I can't fit this together. These two things are totally opposed in my mind, they are juxtaposed, they don't fit together. Six months of a hoist might help me understand and help other Nova Scotians understand how Mike Harris can do what he does and nobody is screaming and yelling in Ontario that he has his debt servicing at 16 per cent and not 10 per cent.

Mr. Speaker, six months would go a long way to assisting all of us to understand what it is that is really going on in this province, and what is the real agenda of this government, when they come in here and they give us this bill to pad the government's pockets with the taxpayers' money, and they do so distressing Nova Scotians with one version of reality that we need six months to correct. There is not just one reality here. The evolving understanding of the other realities that need to be known might very well take six months. For example, why is this government downgrading the revenue side? It is not, I don't think, because they don't know that this province is going to increase revenue over the next few years, it is because they want people to worry. In six months, and I know the government is not going

[Page 5324]

to be amenable to this, Nova Scotians may understand that kind of sleight of hand and what has been done to them.

Mr. Speaker, it won't take six months for all of it, because it has become very clear that when it comes to Education in particular, the Government of Nova Scotia has not fooled Nova Scotians, not in the general thrust. We know what the general thrust is, but it might take six months to find out the particulars. Other speakers in this place have said, and I want to add my voice, that we know perfectly well that an Education budget was brought in here that was not finished, was not clear, and was not doable. In six months, we are really going to know the damning effects of that terrible budget, which they have had to rework and rework, and no matter what they do with it, I think but six months will tell us, they continue to compound, in many ways, the problems of school boards by, to use that old expression, telling them, ordering them to rob Peter to pay Paul.

In six months, when school is in, in October, will we know how many teaching assistants have been gutted? Will we know? I hope we will. We will. In six months we will know how many library assistants are gone, and how many school libraries have no hours or limited hours. We will know that schools that have suffered years and years of deferred maintenance, in six months we will know this. We will know what further cuts to maintenance will do, the destructive effects of lack of maintenance on a building where children go every day and spend up to five hours, or possibly more, and in six months, Mr. Speaker, we are going to know what the effects of those maintenance cuts are on those schools.

It is almost beyond imagining, ahead of time. We couldn't possibly have dreamed that this was going to happen and we are still not clear, and that is why six months is so important, Mr. Speaker. We are still not clear and I think the only way we are going to be clear about the Education cuts is for school to be in for two months which, I believe, would take us roughly to the end of October, and two months of school tells you pretty well everything you need to know. One month tells you the official enrolment, two months starts to tell you the real enrolment but two months is plenty of time in the school system for all the problems that are going to evolve to evolve, even if they are not full-blown, but many of them will be, and I really think we need to see that.

The classes are going to be bigger, even the government doesn't dispute that. How much bigger? We don't know. In six months, we really will know because they will be sitting in those seats in their crowded classrooms, with special needs students without any assistants, without any research and library support, presumably, and with a teacher in six months, Mr. Speaker, whose juggling act becomes more and more perfected until it comes to the point where all the balls fall on the floor and the juggling act is over. In six months, if we hoist this bill, we are going to know these terrible implications and then maybe, without presuming the outcome, we can look at the mess and decide what to do about it.

[Page 5325]

Mr. Speaker, very similar things can be said about Health. It has had less air time in here - it will get its time over the next while - but I am telling you now that it is going to take six months again. Those hospitals, I understand, don't have their budgets approved, they are spending money every day without approved budgets. They are going to have deficits. They are going to have to lay people off. If the government thinks that it can pull support staff without increasing the front-line workers' workloads, then six months will tell us that too, because the situations are parallel; the job is different, but the situations are parallel.

I remember hearing somebody say that if you think there is no records person to go get a file, and that they aren't going to have to send a nurse to get it, then you are living in a dream world, Mr. Speaker, but six months will tell us that and we will have a much better idea in six months, a much clearer idea what the devastation will be in Nova Scotia's health system.

Mr. Speaker, there is another area where putting things off for a while would be extremely useful . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Would the honourable member allow an introduction?

MS. O'CONNELL: I would be happy to, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you. The honourable member for Dartmouth South.

MR. TIMOTHY OLIVE: Mr. Speaker, I thank the honourable member for the time. It gives me great pleasure to introduce, in the east gallery, a member who is now retired from the education system, but who was very active in the local school system and who continues to be very active in a number of volunteer functions throughout our community in Dartmouth and Halifax. I would like to present Tom Rissesco, and I ask all members of the House to give him a warm welcome. (Applause)

MS. O'CONNELL: Mr. Speaker, I, too, welcome visitors to the gallery who have come here today.

When I yielded the floor, I had made some very general remarks about what we don't know yet about how cuts to health care and education are going to play out in our system. We are not optimistic, but we do not have the details.

Mr. Speaker, there is another area that we will probably underestimate the damage from and six months would be a good time for us to look at the damage and see if it is even worse than we would anticipate and that is in the Department of Community Services. In this province the poor are provided for quite meagrely when you think about it. They are subjected to rate structures and bureaucracies that sometimes impose infringements on their life that many Nova Scotians would find unbearable. They don't do it because they like it and

[Page 5326]

they don't do it so they can rip off the Nova Scotia Government for some pittance so that they can eat less than they need and live in poor housing.

No, Mr. Speaker, people on social assistance in this province are on it for a reason. It may be that they have young children to raise. It may be that they grew up in the kind of home that gave them no encouragement or no advantage because it was not able to, or it may be that they grew up in homes that were actively destructive to their welfare and to their futures. Then there are the other ones, the ones who are unable to work because of a disability, or because we have not structured our society in such a way that it can accommodate their disability.

There are people all over this province and we see them every day in our offices, Mr. Speaker, people who struggle with not just making the minimum dues, but with attempting to live with pride and dignity on their meagre incomes and the cuts in this budget will not be seen right away because the government was rather careful in putting some of them off. In six months we might see them. For example, to take away an $18 travel assistance when I believe that a bus pass in this city is at least . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: It is $57.

MS. O'CONNELL: Is it $57? I thought it was cheaper, but then my daughter was buying it as a student. So it is hard for me to know. Mr. Speaker, how in the name of all that is good and holy can we anticipate right now the destruction caused by taking away that minimal already deprived sum of money from people who need to get out and around, who need to depend upon social assistance. I cannot imagine with the cuts that this minister has imposed, whether they are staggered for now or for later, or whether some people are going to be grandfathered until the next round of slaughter, I cannot imagine what these people are going to do.

I know a woman, Mr. Speaker, who worked $20 under the limit a month, very carefully on the legal side of things, to make sure that she could give her children a few extras. I know her well. Now she has to quit one of her short-term weekly jobs of cleaning people's houses because the limit for what social assistance recipients can earn has been dropped. In six months I want to know how that has affected her children's lives and their standard of living because if you ever wanted to meet a hard-working person, it is this woman.

The cuts to Community Services I think are among the ones that we know the least about and that is why a six month hoist would be so incredibly useful here so that we could find out, even though we have some dim sense of how difficult it is now, maybe in six months we can have a much clearer idea of what the face of poverty will be in this province when these cuts are implemented. Mr. Speaker, somebody asked a question today about the deserving and the undeserving poor, and that unnerves me. If that attitude from the 19th Century comes back in this province, and we don't understand that we are all in this together,

[Page 5327]

and therefore, in six months we find out we have hurt people drastically, then we should be ashamed of ourselves. But we need to know. I am willing to wait the six months so I can find that out.

[4:00 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, there is another whole area, and I want to commend a member of our caucus for the hard work he has done on it. It is not an area that Halifax Fairview knows a lot about, and that is agriculture. We don't have any farms in Halifax Fairview, although I guess we used to. So the member for Hants East has worked extremely hard trying to bring to the attention of this House and to Nova Scotians, the damage that will be done because of the government's incredibly bad decisions around agriculture. Are we going to know right now what cutting the whole department of agricultural technology means to the people of this province? We are not going to know it now. We are going to know it in six months or at least we are going to have a glimmer.

Mr. Speaker, I am told 160 programs, gone from the Department of Agriculture. We will have a growing season in the meantime. We will have a plant, a grow and a harvest season in this province. By October, it should start to become pretty clear when farmers look at how their growing season went, and if we have another very dry summer, it is going to be exceedingly difficult for the farmers, I understand. So what are they going to do? They are going to look at the damage. They are going to look at what they have had to cope with and many of them will need advice. Lots and lots of them will need advice, and some of them will need actual assistance.

I can't imagine what the government is thinking of, but I think the farmers will know, we will know, you will know, members on the Opposition side will know when the farmers have lived through the next six months to see what it is that has happened to, whether it is their blueberry crop or their herd or whether it is a grain crop or anything else. Presumably come October, it will be time to be sitting down and assessing what is going on. They will be looking at their orchard yields, I am sure in the Valley, the apples and the vegetables; the hog producers; all of them will be sitting down in six months and they will be saying, what has happened here? What do I need to do? Where are those people who were so helpful to me? I don't know why the government doesn't understand this. We don't want to lose our agricultural sector. In six months, we will know what kind of an agricultural sector we have left. That is one of the primary reasons I think we have to hoist this bill for six months. I think it is absolutely essential.

Mr. Speaker, it seems to me that when you are talking about hoisting a bill for six months, what you are talking about is informed decision making. Come six months, if we put this thing aside, look at the information we will have gathered. We will have gathered it from so many sources, whether it be from a hog producer, whether it be from a municipality, whether it be from an income tax expert. Wherever it comes from, whether it comes from

[Page 5328]

emergency medical care services, whether it comes from the probate office, whether it comes from the front line of one of our hospitals, we will be able to take that information in six months and, frankly, I don't think it is going to be pretty. It is not going to be nice, but at least we will know.

In six months, if we were to put this bill away, put it on the shelf, whatever the parliamentary term is for it, table it, hoist it, hike it - I don't care what you call it, I really don't - what we need is that six months and we need to know the reality. We need a huge reality check in this province. We need this government to go home before the growing season is over and we need them to go home when school goes back in and before school gets out, we need them to go home and we need to go home too and listen to real people with their real concerns, with the facts that go with them, and then in six months let's put it together.

Let us see what it is this government is doing to this province and let's make sure that this 100 pages of power-grabbing and dollar-downloading doesn't hit the streets until we have that vital information that we all so desperately need, whether you be a poor person in this province who is struggling to make do on social assistance; whether you are a public servant in this province who doesn't know yet whether his or her job is going to be there in a short period of time; whether you are a liquor store worker or an employee of any other government service that this government is looking at privatizing.

The report on the working review group on the liquor privatization is coming in the end of June, then everybody goes to the beach; we are going to need six months on that. They better be thinking about it while they are at the beach and when they come back. Six months would be a reasonable period of time for Nova Scotians to see whether they have done the job and whether they have found a way to persuade themselves that it is a rational thing to do to give away a cash cow that the government has in its control and possession.

There is a huge amount that is going to happen. This government is like the two year old or the one year old who is running so fast that the feet just come out from under them and the toddler falls down because you can't stay on your pins if you are that far ahead of yourself. This government is so far ahead of itself, it is embarrassing. Otherwise, we would have a lot of this information that we need now to make this thing work.

On behalf of all those Nova Scotians that I have mentioned, as I said, whether it is liquor store workers, whether it is hog producers, whether it is a social assistance recipient with two pre-school-aged children, or a disabled Nova Scotian or whether it is a tax office or emergency medical services, anybody affected - and it is clear that there is nobody in this province who isn't affected - if 76 pages involve the Income Tax Act, there is nobody in this province, not a single person except for those who appear to be getting yet another break, the wealthy corporations, but I want to know about that too in six months. I want a fair picture. I want to see it lined up as best as it can be done and I want to be able to go back to my

[Page 5329]

constituency of Halifax Fairview and I want to say to those seniors, this is what it is really costing you for those essential medications that you need. This is what it is going to cost you in income tax, on your fixed income as a senior. This is what this budget is going to cost you as a struggling social assistance recipient, or a person on a Canada Pension Disability, Mr. Speaker.

There is nobody, whether it is in Halifax Fairview or Dartmouth North or Kings West, there is not a place in this province where every single person is not affected profoundly in some way by the financial implications of Bill No. 46. So I want to go out there and I want to hear them. I want to be able to come back. I want the government to provide us with the knowledge and the resources. They are the government after all, we are not the government. They have lots of resources to do that. So it seems to me eminently logical that we take this bill and, as I said, I don't really care what you call it. I can think of lots of terms for it.

But let's take this bill and put it aside until we all get a grip on what it is that we are doing to the people of Nova Scotia. Until we get a grip or begin to get a grip in six months, begin to get a grip on whether we want a province that is downsized just about out of existence or whether we want a province that provides the kind of government that looks after its own, is proud of its education and health care systems, fiscally responsible - I alluded to that earlier. You don't have to go to 10 per cent in three years to be fiscally responsible. So let's take six months. Let's figure out how to be fiscally responsible without cutting the heart and the guts out of this province. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Victoria.

HON. NEIL LEBLANC: Kenny the Leader.

MR. KENNETH MACASKILL: Mr. Speaker, the honourable Minister of Finance said that I would be a leader. Well, if this province ever needed a leader, it is today. I am not going to take much time of the House today to speak on the amendment to hoist Bill No. 46 which was put on the floor by the honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.

Mr. Speaker, in my years in the House there have been many hoists and many amendments put to legislation, but I think this is one of the most important ones I have seen in my years. If you look at this document, Bill No. 46, which consists of 98 pages, all the way through, you could find many things that you could talk about. However, I am going to stay as close as I can to the title before us, and that is the amendment to hoist Bill No. 46. The reason I want to stand in my place today and to speak for a few minutes on the hoist is that I am sure my good constituents would want me to do that. I don't think they would want me to sit back in my seat like the backbenchers on the other side of the House will do and not bring the concerns of their constituents to the Legislature.

[Page 5330]

However, Mr. Speaker, I am going to do the best I can for a short time to represent my constituency, and to try to in some way bring to the House their feelings, and my feelings on their behalf of why I feel the amendment is in order to put this bill on hold for six months. Now there are some good initiatives in this bill in the Financial Measures (2000) Bill, and I don't deny that. But, there are many more that are worrisome to me and to many people of the House. It is our belief that in six months' time the government will be able to get a better grasp on the public perception relative to why we want this bill hoisted for six months.

Surely, and it has been repeated many times over the last number of days, the demonstrations which have taken place day after day by thousands of people, surely it has some influence on the government. We have seen placards and you can't imagine all the logos and the messages that were displayed on these placards in front of the Legislature for days on end. In rainy weather, in sunny weather, they were there. Days that it wasn't fit to be outside, they still came to the House to get their message across. We hope that that had some influence on the government and that they will consider putting this bill on hold for six months. As a responsible government, they should want the opportunity to have six months to look into this legislation further.

[4:15 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I would ask honourable members to take their conversations outside. It is too noisy in here. I can't hear the member and he is right beside me.

MR. MACASKILL: I don't know, Mr. Speaker, if you are giving me a message or not.

Anyway, Mr. Speaker, in six months I believe that this government can represent the needs of the people of Nova Scotia better. We have heard this government speak quite a bit about financial accountability. We heard them speak about open and honest government. In the close to 12 years that I have been in this House, that message I have heard over and over again: financial ruin and economic disaster. I have heard it. The message today is no different but I think the message today that we want to put to the government is that we want time. We want six months so the government will get the message from the people and the people will get the message from the government that this government is prepared to listen.

This government has told Nova Scotians about what an uphill struggle they are facing and how the cuts they are imposing are so absolutely necessary. Mr. Speaker, we feel this is not altogether true, on this side of the House. But in six months the government, as well as the people of Nova Scotia, will be better able to see the true state of our province's finances.

Mr. Speaker, we believe that this government has thrown everything including the kitchen sink in order to make these cuts seem necessary. They have gone to the extreme to try to convince the people that this province is in a financial mess. I have heard that for many

[Page 5331]

years but I don't believe that this province is in any more of a financial mess than it was six years ago, probably not as bad. In six months, the people will understand that this is a ramped-up budget and the cuts they are proposing are not truly necessary.

This government has campaigned on less red tape. Well, Mr. Speaker, what did they do? The introduced a red tape commissioner, adding another level of bureaucracy to the system. On top of this, almost all departments have added more money to the deputy minister's and the minister's budget. We want Nova Scotians to know that and that is why we want six months to get that message out to the people.

Mr. Speaker, how many additional bureaucrats were hired? We don't know but in six months we will know. We will have more time to find out and let all Nova Scotians know. This government has always talked about smaller government. Well, if you take out of one side and put into another, you are not getting toward a smaller government. What are they doing? They are just piling on bureaucracy and high-cost bureaucracy, too. These are only some of the items we can identify in this budget. That is why we want six months to get that message out.

Mr. Speaker, what else lurks in the budget and this legislation that we need to, as the Premier says, ferret it out. Well, in six months, we will be able to discover more and more of these hidden items. We, as an Opposition, owe it to the people to take as much time as we need to tell them the whole story, especially if this government will not. In this sitting of the House, this government is trying to ram through this legislation and all legislation, before the public can see the proper analysis and that analysis can be done so they will understand it.

Mr. Speaker, an amendment to hoist is an amendment to give the government more time to consult with individuals that perhaps they have forgotten to consult with earlier. In this legislation, the government wants all government business enterprise to have prior approval of all financial transactions. Now I agree, to a point. The government needs to know what is going on, but you also have to allow these government enterprises the ability to function efficiently. All financial transactions need prior approval, loans, credit limits, bonds, financial notes. Although I agree in principle, you are also handcuffing business opportunities.

Mr. Speaker, what does the business community and the individuals who are responsible for running these government enterprises think about this provision? Were they consulted as full partners in the decision-making process? Well, we believe that the Halifax Chamber of Commerce probably was and maybe the Sobeys, maybe the Murray Coolicans. Maybe they know, but does the ordinary Nova Scotian business person know? Did the government do a cost analysis on this proposal? Six months would give this government the time to reconsider all the things in this budget which were thrown in in the last instance.

[Page 5332]

Mr. Speaker, perhaps the reason this government is moving in this direction is because it plans to privatize most, if not all, government services. I know the government and I know the government has not done proper consultation with the people of Nova Scotia to determine what they think about privatization. They talk about privatization on a number of issues, on a number of agencies. But I wonder, what do the people of the Eastern Shore think about privatization? Has the member for Eastern Shore been able to convey to his constituents their thoughts about the government and what they think about privatization? I know what my people in Victoria would think of privatization because I heard what they thought about the privatization of our provincial resorts, one of which is in my riding.

Mr. Speaker, it may not be all bad. It may the way to go, but we are not given the information. That is why we need six months to ferret out the information and the proper information. As I say, this may be the route to take, but not on a spur-of-the-moment decision without any consultation with the people of my riding.

Mr. Speaker, also, in my constituency, I know people are nervous about Transportation or sections of it. The workers in Transportation, the workers at Keltic Lodge and liquor store workers in my riding are also nervous about privatization because they don't know. They don't know the outcome, so they want six months, as well as I want six months. This would give them all an opportunity to begin to listen to Nova Scotians on the very specific and the very emotional topic of privatization.

Mr. Speaker, what about Sysco? If this government thinks it is the end of the financial costs at Sysco by selling it or privatizing it or selling the assets, that is not the end of the financial costs at Sysco.

AN HON. MEMBER: It is just the beginning.

MR. MACASKILL: It is just the beginning, as another member says. Maybe this government's agenda to privatize most government services is, again, the way to go, but at least let them give us the time to look at it, to study it, and to bring the proposals to the people who are adversely affected.

Mr. Speaker, maybe this Hamm-Harris agenda is becoming a Klein agenda or maybe a Tory-Alliance agenda, we are not sure. Perhaps the Premier has an idea to privatize health care, but I certainly hope not. I know my constituency would not want the government to move forward with any privatization strategy, especially for health, without first consulting them directly.

Let us take six months; six months is not a long time. We will have a message for our constituents and a message for all Nova Scotians, and maybe a good message for the government. These are major decisions the government is going to be proposing, and six months could do a lot to ensure the government receives adequate public input on important

[Page 5333]

public policy. If the government is not looking to privatize everything in sight, then they should allow government enterprises to go about doing their business reasonably.

Mr. Speaker, as I said earlier, at the beginning of my comments, I don't know that this legislation is totally bad and wrong, but six months will give us time to dissect it, piece by piece, go through it. As I said, it is 98 pages of document that needs time. For instance, when the department wants to initiate a new program which was not budgeted for, or that money was not allocated for, that program must wait. It must wait for next year's budget, or the department is going to have to find the new money in its existing budget. This may be a positive step forward in the budgeting process, but even in this provision the six month period could be used to prepare government departments for those changes that may take place. After six months, the departments would be able to hit the ground running to implement these initiatives with the least amount of glitches.

Mr. Speaker, departments must be held firm on the money which is budgeted to them. We agree that the six months being proposed would help ensure the departments that they will be ready, but we must all be cognizant of the fact that things sometimes happen out of everyone's control, things such as natural disasters or man-made disasters happen, and I am glad to see that the minister has recognized these occurrences in the legislation, as the Liberals did before them. It is very interesting to see the balanced budget provision found in this legislation. It is also interesting to see that it does not take effect until the year 2000-03, that fiscal year, and perhaps the Minister of Finance could use this six months to look at a calendar, to double-check if that is indeed year three and not year four.

Mr. Speaker, I seem to remember the Premier saying during the election that they would balance the books in year 2003. It seems to me to be year four, but no matter. I would ask the minister: what would happen in 2002-03 if he presents a budget that forecasts a deficit? That would be interesting, but there are lots of provisions for departments to table reports and resolutions if they run over budget.

[4:30 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, this legislation also makes those departments make up the shortfall in the next year's budget, but there is nothing to say what will happen if the budget is not balanced and that is interesting. Would the minister be able to use the six months to come up with some criteria of what would happen if the books were not balanced? I am sure this Finance Minister, when he sat in Cabinet in the former Tory Government, knew all about budgets that were not balanced and annual deficits.

Mr. Speaker, during the remarks of the previous speaker, the Tory backbenchers were making reference to credit cards. Those of us who sat here during those years of the Buchanan extravagance we knew all about that. We knew about the toilet seats. We knew

[Page 5334]

about hotel sales back and forth. Perhaps he could consult with Nova Scotians and ask them what they think he should do if he presents a deficit budget in the year 2002-03.

Mr. Speaker, I seem to remember the Premier saying something about how Premiers should resign if their budgets don't balance. I think I have heard that. Perhaps, now that the Premier is on that side of the House, he would like to make that commitment since it is nowhere to be seen in this legislation, and that is the Premier to resign if the books are not balanced. Maybe the Minister of Finance would resign if he presents a budget to this House in 2002-03 which is not balanced, or maybe the entire Cabinet would put their jobs on the line if the budget is not balanced. Nothing brings out your best like a little incentive. Again, a six month period could give some time to consult with Nova Scotians so they can determine what they would like them to do if the budget is not balanced.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to move onto something which I find quite ironic. This legislation contains a section dealing with how departments and government agencies report on their fiscal decision making. The legislations says these reports and budgets and figures have to be rational, fair, efficient, credible, transparent and accountable. The ironic part is that those are all the things this budget is not.

Mr. Speaker, do the people of Nova Scotia think this provision goes far enough? Well, we don't know. Should the government go back and make this part of the bill retroactive? The six month hoist will give all ministers, as well as the Premier, time to consider all of these points. I am sure the people of Nova Scotia would have more than enough suggestions as to how this particular section can be expanded.

Mr. Speaker, no wonder the Premier told the Opposition to ferret out information. The government's own backbenchers do not even know what is in this budget. So I am sure they would appreciate a six months' hoist so they could study and they could read this document. Then they would be better informed as to what is in this document.

Mr. Speaker, we all know that since these words were not in the legislation, the chance of any of these ministers being open and accountable was slim. It is truly a sad day when the Premier and the Minister of Finance have to legislate rational, fair, transparent and accountable government in order to achieve it. We would call that no plan. There is another term they use, something like flying by the seat of your pants.

We have said many times before that this government has no plans for Nova Scotia. This legislation mandates that the Minister of Finance shall table four year projections in this consolidated fiscal plan. This six months' hoist will give the government some time to do something they should have been doing since they began sitting on that side of the House. Give them something to do when they were sitting on this side of the House since 1993, and that was to develop a plan.

[Page 5335]

Well, Mr. Speaker, I wonder why this wasn't introduced with the last budget so we could hear the minister's projections this year. Could it be because the minister has no plans for the future of Nova Scotia? Again, this hoist would give the government time to work on their plan. So why does the government not want this hoist to go through? Could it be because they do not want Nova Scotians to know the truth about the financial outlook for the province, and that this financial outlook is not nearly as bad as the government is saying? This would mean that all the ridiculous cuts proposed by the Minister of Education and all the cuts in Agriculture, all the cuts in Natural Resources, all the cuts in Health and all the cuts in the Civil Service, are they necessary or were they necessary? That is why I think this minister did not introduce these measures earlier.

Mr. Speaker, we will be watching to see if this is changed next year so that the minister can't get around to this again. But, by this time, all of the one-time hits he has piled onto the budget this year to convince Nova Scotians that the sky if falling, that feeling may be gone, and he can try to tell the people what a wonderful job he has done. So why will the minister not hoist this bill and prove us all wrong? That is the question I ask today.

There is another issue in this section that I would like to address with the minister, Mr. Speaker. The minister next year will also be required to report for each fiscal year in the form the minister sees fit. Now, did the government consult with any independent accountants who told him this was necessary? Well, six months, here is their chance. Six whole months to consult with CAs, CFAs and CMAs or anyone the government's heart desires. They will tell the government if this is necessary or not. Then we can come back secure in the knowledge that all of our concerns have been addressed.

Mr. Speaker, the reason we say we want this done is because this all seems very redundant from the standpoint we already have financial statements in Nova Scotia. Why do we need to see the information in another form? Is it so the minister can portray his numbers in the best possible light such as currency drops? Would that be recorded as a deficit, Mr. Speaker?

I am reminded of the commitment the minister made to calculate the deficit figures using GAAP all the way back to 1993. He did not do that. The reason, it would have shown Nova Scotians that is was indeed the previous Tory Government, of which he was a member, which gave Nova Scotia this giant debt. So, having seen the minister's ability to be not quite so forthcoming, I would suggest that the minister use this six months to catch up with the work which is obviously piling up on his desk.

Mr. Speaker, let's talk about the Income Tax Act for a moment. The minister has announced the decoupling of the provincial and federal tax rates. Now this government is saying that it is going to be revenue neutral. Do we believe them?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: No.

[Page 5336]

MR. MACASKILL: Do Nova Scotians believe them?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: No.

MR. MACASKILL: Mr. Speaker, so that is why we say, take six months to find out how many Nova Scotians really believe them.

In this new budget there are going to be more forms to fill out and these forms are going to be more and more complicated. Has this government determined if this new level of bureaucracy is going to cost Nova Scotians any more? Is it going to cost them more money? As the former speaker has mentioned, what about the bracket creep? The Premier says that there will be no reduction of taxes until the books are balanced. This is not a reduction in taxes, it is simply trying to be fair. It is our belief that the people of Nova Scotia agree with us. This is going to cost them more money. This is going to mean more forms to fill out, so why will the government not agree to this six months' hoist and let Nova Scotians tell them what they think of the new system of income tax.

Mr. Speaker, I spent a bit of time going over the financial aspects of this legislation, but there is a lot more to this bill than simply finances and I would like to get into them now. The Assessment Act, for instance. With regard to the assessment aspect of this bill, I would like to know what consultation was done with municipalities. What about the movement of the assessment offices? Did the municipalities agree to this downloading? I doubt it. Did they agree at every opportunity they would be there to shoulder the brunt of the government's downloading? I doubt it. I have a hard time believing that they did, but this six months' hoist will give the government enough time to sit down and discuss these measures with the municipalities, to take this time and really discuss with the municipalities how this will affect them and how much the costs will be to the municipalities.

Mr. Speaker, what happened to this government's promise to not download on municipalities, and, again, have they been informed? Who is going to be responsible for doing the work? Who is responsible for training and upgrading the assessors? Is it the municipalities? We don't know, but give us six months and we may know. If there are appeals, who will hear these appeals? Where will they be heard? Again, we don't know. Do municipalities know? They don't, so let's take six months, sit down with the municipalities, discuss this transfer of responsibilities, see who pays and who doesn't pay. We can do that in six months. These are questions that we are asking and these are questions we want answers for. We want the government to take this opportunity to go out and find the answers in the six months we are proposing.

[Page 5337]

[4:45 p.m.]

We have heard over the last number of days about the Alcohol and Gaming Authority. We have heard that authority has been removed. The government is attempting to sever the chairman like any other civil servant. The chairman has a very specific contract with the Tories and a contract which they are breaking. When, or should I say, if the government consulted legal counsel on this issue, did counsel say they could win the wrongful dismissal suit? If the government did not do this, will they take six months and do it now? How much is it going to cost the people of Nova Scotia? This fired chairman is simply not going to disappear into the night. How much is this going to cost Nova Scotians for the Tories to disband these members so that in the future, the Tories can replace them with the good old Tory poll captains? That is going to cost Nova Scotians money. Again, we want answers and the government has an opportunity to put this legislation on the shelf for six months so they can provide the people of Nova Scotia with the answers we are seeking.

The Emergency "911" Act. The Tories are reintroducing the use of fee they floated in this House last fall. The Opposition was successful in getting the government to remove this clause from their 911 bill this fall. At that time the Minister of Health said, "just because the provision is there doesn't mean the government will use it." Well, now, obviously the minister, at that time, was trying to mislead Nova Scotians, because here we are less than six months later and the government has just announced this user fee. Surprise, surprise. Again, who has the government consulted on this user fee? It is our understanding that MTT was not consulted until the deal was already done.

We ask is this John Hamm's open and accountable government? Does it not seem strange that the company who would be putting this charge on their monthly bills should have some say in this process? We believe they should have. This again shows the arrogance of this government. They have their agenda and they do not need to consult with anyone. That is wrong, Mr. Speaker. So we ask them to hoist this bill for six months and we will tell them, here is your opportunity to take the six months and sit down and talk with MTT. We know they have concerns, so we ask why will the government not address these concerns?

There are many concerns in this legislation that have Nova Scotians nervous. What is going to happen at the QE II? What is going to happen with bed closures? What is going to happen with lay-offs of nurses and support staff? Let's find out in six months. We know what is happening at the Department of Natural Resources. We know there are going to be lay-offs. We know there is less money for silviculture. The people at Natural Resources and other departments are nervous; they don't know what is going to happen. Let's take six months so we can give them a better idea of what is happening in their department.

[Page 5338]

What about Transportation and Public Works? Again, nervousness among the workers; they don't know what is going to happen. The budget doesn't tell them anything. All it tells them is that there will be pilot projects relative to privatization, and that is not very comforting for the employees.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. It is difficult to hear the member who has the floor.

MR. MACASKILL: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, you are most kind.

What about school boards? What about teachers? What about support staff for those schools? We all, on this side of the House, don't know what the rush is. Six months is not a long time. Six months gives Nova Scotians a chance to review this 98 page document, gives them time to consult, gives the government time to consult and come back in six months, and we will all probably agree that this piece of legislation is fine-tuned and it, at that time, is in the best interests of Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, in closing, I simply ask the government to take six months, go back to the drawing board, report back to the House in six months because, in spite of all the negative things I said, I believe that this government is really capable of doing a little better if they give it six months time and then bring it back here for further consultation. Thank you. (Applause)

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

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity to speak on the amendment that deals with the Financial Measures (2000) Bill, the amendment that asks that the House consider hoisting the Financial Measures (2000) Bill for a period of six months so that it could be put under greater scrutiny and greater review. I think that the member for Halifax Chebucto, who introduced such amendment, did so for some very good reasons and I would like to take this opportunity to try to elaborate on some of those things.

It is interesting that at the time when we were considering the Financial Measures (2000) Bill and in fact just as the amendment that is on the floor before us was moved, Mr. Speaker, I was reviewing something that had happened in Ontario relative to something that came up in this budget. I think it was quite interesting that the member had asked for six months for us to review the implication of the Financial Measures (2000) Bill because we could use that time to review the concerns that I have about something that came out in the budget that is, I don't think, properly dealt with in the Financial Measures (2000) Bill, that has to do with the sale of public assets. It has been referred, alluded to by the government, but there doesn't appear to be proper process within the Financial Measures (2000) Bill by which to ensure any sale or transfer of public assets is properly handled.

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I don't know if you have been following the news in the last few months from Ontario, but there has been a huge scandal. The police are investigating the disposal of (Interruption) No I think there is a Tory Government in Ontario right now. That is not the point. The point is simply that the disposal of public assets is being handled in a way that has caused some considerable concern, and the police are now investigating it. I raise it because I think a six months' hoist would enable us the opportunity to consider where this government is going with the disposal of public assets, and that could be considered under the Financial Measures (2000) Bill, and when that matter was being reviewed.

I know the government has talked about unloading the Liquor Commission, getting rid of some of its properties, particularly the golf courses and the resorts, and I don't know what else they are lining up to consider for disposal. I think the example of Ontario, and there may be others, should raise sufficient concern for this government, that they ensure a proper process is put into place that any public assets that were being disposed of be done so in a way that is above reproach, that is beyond a potential conflict. A very serious situation, and I think a situation that would require some considerable attention.

That is one issue. The other one is, what are you going to do with the money that is realized from the sale of those assets? Mr. Speaker, what is the government going to do with those assets? Are they going to simply apply what is realized onto the debt directly? Do they have some plan to come up with a fund to use to manage some other cost to pay down the deficit? Are they going to use it as a slush fund to help them out of some politically tough spots or what? These are some of the questions we can explore if we have six months to do so. There have been other examples of governments that have taken monies from the sale of public assets and put them into a special fund for a particular purpose.

I think of the example in the U.K. where they have come up with a fund for special purpose and whether that be to address a particular problem in education, or whether that be to consider the situation in Nova Scotia for example in the offshore. Whether we can better manage our resources by the establishment of a special fund, I think that is something that needs to be considered, because we do have experience in the Province of Nova Scotia unloading a public asset, and I think particularly of Nova Scotia Power.

I remember, Mr. Speaker, I think that was before your time, when we debated the privatization under the former Tory Administration of Nova Scotia Power, and those of us in the Opposition at the time argued that this government was going into that deal headlong and without proper consideration. I believe that an amendment similar to this had been tabled, been moved at that time to urge that government to take six months as we are proposing here in the Financial Measures (2000) Bill to consider that deal and the implications of that deal. There have been some estimates of the cost to Nova Scotia to the tune of $140 million that was lost by the Province of Nova Scotia because of the way they handled that whole privatization and, surely, we all know that we could use that $140 million. In fact, just

[Page 5340]

recently at the recent annual meeting of Nova Scotia Power, they are cash rich. They have all kinds of money available and they are trying to find ways to spend it.

[5:00 p.m.]

Wouldn't it be wonderful if the Province of Nova Scotia were in that situation or had access to such a fund that we could deal with some of our infrastructure problems, for example, whether that be highways, or whether we could use it to help fund the construction of schools instead of being caught up in this wrong-headed P3 strategy that we are. Again, the point is that were we to have six months, then we would have the opportunity to examine those issues, examine what has happened in the past through that major privatization of Nova Scotia Power, examine what happened and then move forward to be able to come up with some strategies on how we would deal with the disposal of any public assets were that to be the agenda of this government. I would certainly love to see us take that opportunity.

There was an idea put on the floor earlier today that we refer this matter to the Public Accounts Committee, that with the professional advice and support of the Auditor General to examine these weighty issues that are considered within the Financial Measures (2000) Bill, we would go some distance to not only understand what is here and what the implications are and what the impacts will be of this particular bill, Mr. Speaker, but that we can develop strategies and plans to ensure that we don't get ourselves into any further trouble than we are already in.

On that whole issue of the disposal of public assets, a six months' hoist would give us an opportunity to determine what it is the government is trying to do, number one; number two, examine the list; and, number three, be able to come up with a strategy to properly handle that issue because there is no question that it is the government's prerogative, if that is what they want to do, then that is what they are going to do. What we want to be able to ensure here in the Opposition, and I am sure members of the government benches feel likewise, we want to ensure if that is the way they go, that they go that way with the right information, that they go that way with a plan so that they don't get themselves or the province in any greater difficulty. That is the point I was making, that that is an issue I was thinking of at the time when this amendment hit the floor and I thought it was extremely timely.

There are other things here which I think need to be examined over six months or greater even. Do you know, Mr. Speaker, that this bill proposes to ensure that a change in the federal income tax is not passed down through? That particular change I am referring to is what is called a bracket creep where a Nova Scotian's or a Canadian's purchasing power, even though their purchasing power has not changed over the years, their income may continue to increase to keep up with inflation, but their purchasing power, the real income has not changed at all, but they are moved up into higher tax brackets. That is what is called bracket creep and that has happened since 1986 as a result of de-indexing brought in by the

[Page 5341]

Tory Government under Brian Mulroney and it has created some extraordinary hardship. Some have referred to it as a very major tax grab by the federal government. It has been going on for some time, and the estimates have been extraordinary in terms of the amounts of money that have been realized by the federal government through bracket creep.

Let me just say that an estimate is that in 14 years this bracket creep, which is not being passed on by this Financial Measures (2000) Bill, this bracket creep has affected 2.5 million Canadians, including 800,000 low income earners, and it has raised an estimate of millions of dollars. This is interesting. It is something this six months' hoist would enable us to determine. It has been estimated that the federal government with recent changes and measures has provided that because of re-indexing, taxes won't rise $420 million this year. They won't rise $730 million next year, and they won't rise $1.145 billion in the year 2002. The benefit is realized by mainly low and middle income Canadians as a result of the change, the re-indexing of the income tax system is going to be realized by low and middle income Canadians.

Because of provisions in the Financial Measures (2000) Bill, Nova Scotians are not going to realize those advantages. I would like to know from the Minister of Finance, Mr. Speaker - and an opportunity would be provided in the six months' hoist for us to get this information from him - how many Nova Scotians are going to be affected by the changes that they are making here? Not to be overly crass, but what they are doing, in fact, is they are increasing taxes for low and middle income Nova Scotians by preventing the re-indexing the federal government has introduced. They are increasing taxes and the tax burden for undoubtedly many tens of thousands of low and middle income Nova Scotians. That is unfair.

That is a tax grab that is unfair and, I believe, unconscionable from a government that preaches that Canadians, Nova Scotians, should in fact be able to enjoy more money in their pockets so they can spend it as they will. But what we have seen from this government through the introduction of an increase in user fees, new users fees, an increase in user fees and by changes to the income tax, in fact, what they are doing is they are sucking money out of the pockets of ordinary Nova Scotians at a rate we haven't seen since the Liberal Government did so much of that in the 1994-96 period.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to have some answers to those questions. I am sure other members would like to be able to go back to their constituents, the low and middle income constituents they have, and explain why it is their government is sponsoring a piece of legislation that discriminates against them as Nova Scotians, that treats them differently than people in Quebec or people in New Brunswick or people in Ontario are treated. The federal government has finally recognized after all these years - and let me tell you that the federal Minister of Finance was applauded, there is no question about that, by having shown the political courage to come forward and do this re-indexing. But I think Nova Scotians would like to have the opportunity over a six month period to ask their Tory members, members of this government, why it is that the people they elected are imposing on them tax changes,

[Page 5342]

which is going to mean that the government is going to be taking more money out of their pockets.

It is quite remarkable, and somewhat ironic, that the Tories, the great tax cutters, in fact, are putting it to low and middle income Nova Scotians like they have never had it put to them before. So that is an issue. In fact, I would like to have the opportunity to take this issue out there myself, to talk to Nova Scotians about it in more detail. As has been stated, few Canadians truly understood the insidious tax increases that began in 1985 under the Mulroney Government, as a result of de-indexing the income tax system. I would love to have the opportunity, over a six month period, to go out and talk to constituents and the member for Digby-Annapolis, Truro-Bible Hill and talk to them about what their members are doing, the member for Dartmouth South, talk to his constituents about the fact that what he is doing and his government is doing is pounding tax increases to them. We could have some fun, I think, with that. The group who got elected on the basis of bringing taxes down, in fact, the first thing they do when they get in, they start pumping taxes up.

This bill, the Financial Measures (2000) Bill, not only does that on the whole question of bracket creep, Mr. Speaker, but it also decouples the provincial taxes from the federal taxation system, which means that we now stand alone, which has its advantages in that we can then turn around and pass on some tax reductions here without first of all getting approval from the federal government. Not that that is likely to happen with what we have seen so far from this government. But what is also does, and it is kind of sneaky, I think, and people I have talked to think so as well, that by decoupling what they have done, is they have ensured that federal income tax reductions brought in by the federal government will not be passed on to Nova Scotia taxpayers. Because before, where the provincial tax was determined as a percentage of the federal tax, any change in the federal tax would, therefore, result in a change in the provincial tax. They have ensured that that change will not be passed on to Nova Scotians.

Once again, as they themselves have said, there is government out there with their greedy hands, clawing into the pockets of Nova Scotians, trying to take away more and more of their money. I would like to have the opportunity over six months to talk in more detail about the kind of tax increases that this government is slipping in the back door to Nova Scotians. I think, frankly, this would shock many Nova Scotians if they knew the degree to which this government was imposing higher taxes on them for reasons only that they are Nova Scotians, Mr. Speaker.

So that is something else we can do over a period of six months and I would like to have that opportunity. There are all kinds of things in this bill, the Financial Measures (2000) Bill, that need greater examination. I don't even know that this government realizes. Do you remember, Mr. Speaker, that it wasn't too many months ago in this House that we had a fairly significant debate over an attempt by this government to tax 911 calls? What the government is doing in this bill is bringing in that same tax. Do Nova Scotians know that? I don't know

[Page 5343]

that they do. Does this government understand the implications of that tax on Nova Scotians and on the 911 service? I don't know that they do.

[5:15 p.m.]

If we had six months, if we referred this matter to a committee, if we had the Public Accounts Committee examine it, for example, then we might have the opportunity to examine that. But I have to tell you, I, for one, participated in that debate as a member of this caucus and heard from many Nova Scotians who said that it doesn't make sense, it is not fair that this government would bring in a tax, a surcharge on an emergency phone call; it doesn't make any sense. My goodness gracious, what is this government thinking about? We, I think, put together some pretty logical and reasoned arguments and the Minister of Health cried uncle and he pulled back because he understood the wisdom of those those arguments presented by Nova Scotians.

Through the Financial Measures (2000) Bill, they have slipped it in again. Maybe the Minister of Health did not know about it. Maybe the Minister of Health did not even know that the Finance Minister slipped this one in, because the Minister of Health said, you are right, it would be wrong for us to impose a tax on 911 calls, and he took it out. He withdrew that provision of that bill, but now we have it back here under a bill sponsored by the Minister of Finance. So if we had six months to examine that, maybe that would give the Minister of Health an opportunity to wrestle with the Minister of Finance over whether or not 911 calls are going to be taxed and we could get some fairness imposed on this whole question. That is an issue that needs to be dealt with, Mr. Speaker, there is no question.

There are all kinds of interesting things in this bill, all kinds of little jigs and jags in this bill, and that is what a Financial Measures Act is, right? It accompanies the budget, it supports the budget; it is the piece of legislation that accompanies and provides the kind of changes the Minister of Finance can put through to try to help him raise money and make whatever alterations are needed in order to do his business. But there is a real grab bag of items in the Financial Measures (2000) Bill.

Mr. Speaker, do you know what? I think that a Financial Measures Bill should never be tabled in this House without a clause that reads the Act will not come into effect until we have had six months to hold public consultations or committee hearings or meetings of the Public Accounts Committee to examine it. It is so complicated, it has so many different facets to it, that it would be a recognition by the government that it is such and therefore requires further consideration by the population and by the Legislature.

That is why this amendment to hoist the bill for six months was brought in, to be helpful to this government; to help a government that is clearly on the wrong track, on the wrong road, a road full of terrible perils and potholes. It is our attempt to salvage the reputation of this government by having them go out to the people, by letting the light shine upon what it

[Page 5344]

is they are trying to do so that they can explain to Nova Scotians what they are up to and Nova Scotians won't feel that they are being put upon, that this government is trying to pull the wool over their eyes again. That is what we are doing and it should be seen as helpful in the spirit in which it was presented.

I was saying that this is a grab bag of all kinds of stuff. I have talked about the disposal of public assets; I have talked about the income tax changes that are dealt with in this bill; and I have talked about 911 user fees. Guess what else is in here? A provision to wind up the Halifax Port Development Commission. What is that doing in here, Mr. Speaker? I would like the minister responsible, the Minister of Finance, to explain that and I think all Nova Scotians would, and that six months' hoist would give him the opportunity to do that.

Do you know why it is important? When that member was in Opposition, Mr. Speaker, he knows that the Port of Halifax was competing for a company to provide post-Panamax facilities and services to the Port of Halifax and that there was an all-Party committee pulled together to work with the Port of Halifax, the users and the commission to be able to put a package together to try to win that proposal. Things have not changed. Even though we lost that bid, we are still moving into the post-Panamax era. We still have to make some changes to the Port of Halifax, to the infrastructure, and to the way that the services here are used.

Why is the commission being wound up? In the explanation of this particular provision it says that the marketing of the commission will be picked up by, I guess the Department of Economic Development or Transportation, I am not sure which. The explanation isn't there, but by the government, by the same departments I guess that really blew it before and took so long to come to the table that it was an all-Party committee of politicians that really brought this issue to the fore in the first place when the post-Panamax bid was there. So I think we need to examine that history over a six month period, and the hoist would give us that opportunity.

It is interesting that the government, Mr. Speaker, appointed a new member to the commission, a commission that they are winding up. They appointed a new member to the commission on April 4, 2000, for a term to end in the year 2003. Now, why did they do that? Do you have the feeling as I describe this that, you know, the left hand does not know what the right hand is doing? Well, maybe so, but maybe not. Give them some credit. The Minister of Finance, you know, is a reasonably bright fellow from all reports. We have not seen any indication of it here though . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: It is a good thing he was out of the room when you said that.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: He is right there.

AN HON. MEMBER: Oh, he is.

[Page 5345]

ANOTHER HON. MEMBER: You can say the same thing about the Leader of the NDP.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Yes, but nobody believes you.

I think the Minister of Finance undoubtedly has an explanation and, in fact, through the opportunity provided by a six months' hoist and committee hearings, public hearings or whatever, I would like to have an opportunity to talk about the Halifax Port Commission and the role it plays and the future of the Port of Halifax in some detail with this government. As we examine this bill and the implications of their decision to wind up the commission, maybe we can light a fire under the government. Maybe we can shed some light on what it is that they are planning to do because, if they do have any plans, then the old burlap bag is covering those plans up because I have not seen them and I don't think any members of this House have seen them, and we have not heard any utterances of it publicly.

So, Mr. Speaker, I don't know where they are going on it. What this government does over the next few years, over the next year or two with the Halifax-Dartmouth Port Development Commission, with the Port of Halifax, is extremely important, the future, the economy of the Province of Nova Scotia. I would very much like to hear this government give us their plan, their view on how they see that whole question moving. That is another issue.

Of course, you understand this bill repeals the Expenditure Control Act, the Liberal Government under Premier Savage, their attempt to present an era of fiscal respectability I think is the best way to put it, Mr. Speaker, by bringing in a balanced budget law in the Province of Nova Scotia. Let's not beat a dead horse, but let's be clear that that balanced budget legislation as we said when it was tabled wasn't worth the paper it was written on. In fact, it should not have been presented here because it was a sad joke that the government of the day tried to put over on Nova Scotians, that they were going to get anywhere close to a balanced budget, and that providing legislation would enable them to do that. That was the political flavour of the month with legislators, especially political Parties on the right, that they do that and you bring in balance budget legislation and somehow that makes it so, when we know governments seem to be able to find all kinds of ways to hide money away, to hide debts and deficits away and not properly account for them.

Even this government which has prided itself on making very significant fiscal accountability changes has gotten engaged in the same kind of fiscal - flim-flam is unparliamentary, so I would say the same kind of fiscal - tomfoolery that they have shown themselves prepared to shift money wherever they need to shift it in order to make a point. Whether it is right is not the issue. Of course I am referring to the fact the Minister of Finance suddenly came up with, we don't know exactly where the money has come from yet still to this day. Maybe with the six months' hoist we might be able to trace that money somewhere.

[Page 5346]

At one point, it was simply going to be lopped on the deficit from last year, applied to the debt directly. Now we are beginning to understand that it is coming from other sources, from other little pockets of money the government had squirrelled away and that is, in fact, how they are going to pay this off. The point is that they were able to make some changes in their supposed fiscal principles to solve a political problem on that particular day. That is why I say this government is going to bring in their own balanced budget legislation or something, that they will call. This is going to hold the hands of any government. It is going to keep their feet to the fire, and they are going to have to continue to run balanced budgets forever and a day, but you and I know that any future Legislature, any future government can change like this government has done any legislation that is on the books. That is what they have done here.

[5:30 p.m.]

The other matters that need to be considered, there are incredible powers being vested with the Executive Council that we are only getting little glimpses of, but cause me some considerable concern and is something that I want to pursue over the six months that we are going to have when this hoist is approved. We are going to have to examine them, examine this piece of legislation.

The Minister of Finance, under this bill, will have power to revoke the certificate of registration for the community economic development corporation. This legislation ensures that it is the Cabinet that approves any financial transaction. They have to give approval in advance for government departments or ABCs, I would assume, to hospitals, regional health boards or district health boards and school boards. This is a power that the government and Executive Council is taking it upon themselves which is extremely significant. Some would suggest it is a pure power grab. Again, a way to control from the centre everything that happens out there regardless of the board, regardless of their particular mandate. That requires Cabinet approval for any expenditure not budgeted for. Again, this trods upon accountability. The autonomy of any of these particular agencies is something that we need to examine through this hoist.

This government is going well beyond these little regulatory changes to try to bring power back to the centre, they are doing so through other pieces of legislation that we are going to be dealing with later on in the agenda of this session. Unprecedented power grabs by this government in all areas - in health care and education, in relation to agencies, boards and commissions, in relation to other departments - even though they put together a budget and even though the Executive Council approves that budget, they are still going to retain complete and utter power over those departments in the exercise of the funds that they have been allocated. Unprecedented. I guess it falls in line with the Premier's edict back last fall where he said that no expenditure of $1,000 or more will be permitted without the signature, in fact, I think he said the Premier, didn't he? It all had to go back to the Premier.

[Page 5347]

It might take the six months provided for in this hoist for us to finally get an answer from the Premier's Office about how many authorizations he signed. To get the evidence of how many - imagine if you will, what has it been, six months? It has been six months since that edict came down and we still haven't found, we still haven't had access to the list of how many $1,000 or better authorizations that this Premier actually signed in order to live up to his own commitment. You know why? I think the reason that didn't exactly happen is probably because that is just silly.

The government has to recognize and should have realized then that they have to devolve responsibility to lower levels within the bureaucracy in order to ensure that people are therefore accountable and that the business can get done. Every little day-to-day aspect of running government cannot be decided by and cannot be acted upon by the 12 or 13 members of Cabinet. That is just crazy, but we are seeing evidence of that kind of mindset. In this bill, in the Financial Measures (2000) Bill, we will be able to understand in a more fulsome way if we have a six months' hoist that would allow us to do that.

It will also give us an opportunity over that six month period to examine what changes are being proposed here with the other pieces of legislation. While, in some respects, the Minister of Finance is trying to pull the strings back into his office for fiscal expenditures, the Department of Education, the Department of Health are doing the same thing. The Liberal Government, in response to experts in the field of education and health, had been devolving responsibility out to the community. This government is taking what power did get out and they are drawing it back into the centre. Once again, what we are going to have is what my friend and colleague, the member for Sackville-Cobequid used to talk about all the decisions on every day-to-day aspect of government being made in the bunker downstairs, behind the blue curtains. (Interruptions)

I thing we are heading back to those days and it is unfortunate. Let's take the time provided for in this hoist to examine that, examine the implication of this bill, the implications of what they are doing, because I say to you, Mr. Speaker, and I say to other members of the government benches, and other members of Cabinet and members of the government caucus that as each day goes by, let alone what is provided for in six months, imagine the information we would be able to collect, but every day that goes by since the budget has come in, since the Financial Measures (2000) Bill has come in, more information seeps out. It is like it seeps out under the door. Even with the best intentions of this government to try to keep the wraps on all information, to keep everything within house, to not let any information out, it is seeping out bit by bit. People are beginning to recognize what is happening, what this government is doing, the effect it has on the health care system.

Can you imagine, Mr. Speaker, this Minister of Health hasn't yet approved the business plans for the regional health boards and the regional hospitals, and he doesn't have any intentions of doing that for at least another month. Imagine. The Minister of Health says they are six months ahead of what they were last year, but last year it was wrong. It doesn't make

[Page 5348]

it any better to follow what they did last year. Surely he knows that. When he was on this side he certainly had a lot to say on Health, and he said that that was wrong, that the government of the day should bring that information out.

The Government House Leader says you are arguing to hold the budget up for six months. What I am arguing for is some transparency. I am arguing for some truth. I am arguing for some information. I am arguing for the government to come clean with Nova Scotians and the hoist is a way to do that. The hoist is an opportunity, it is a helpful intervention by the member for Halifax Chebucto to try to say to this government and the member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley, that Nova Scotians deserve to know what it is you are trying to do, what it is you are going to do to us in this bill, in the Financial Measures (2000) Bill.

What is it, and why is it you are going to increase our taxes? Why is it, and how is it that you are going to increase user fees through this budget? Why is it that you are going to outlaw the Halifax Port Commission? Answer those questions. Nova Scotians are saying that to me. I am trying to give this government an opportunity to present that information and I think we can do that.

Imagine six months, we could have an all-Party committee travel the province and take, say, one month. An all-Party committee could go out, and at the same time we could have a panel of experts get together and examine the Financial Measures (2000) Bill, maybe add some thoughts about the financial challenges facing this province and provide some suggestions to this government. Maybe answer some of the questions this government has failed to answer of the fiscal task force about lifelong learning. This government did not rise to the challenge presented by that task force when they said, respond to the need for lifelong learning in the Province of Nova Scotia. This government turned their backs on that. Maybe this learned committee could offer some suggestions, some advice.

So you get an all-Party committee; you get a committee of learned experts; you get a group of financial experts pulled together. You put that information in a pot and you come up with a discussion paper. We are at month two and one-half and you take that discussion paper around the province again and you come back here and, maybe through the Law Amendments Committee or the Public Accounts Committee, you have presentations and we get to the bottom of what it is that the Financial Measures (2000) Bill proposes, what it is that it intends to do, its good and its bad and recommendations that would go to government. Then, after six months, the recommendations come back to this House, come back to this Chamber, and we would have an opportunity to examine those recommendations. It would have been given the fulsome debate and discussion it deserves and we could pass it through here; something all Nova Scotians had an opportunity to consider, nothing hidden, no agenda. Everything is out in the open. We would just come in here, maybe in a very pro forma sense and just pass it; table it. Maybe one speaker from each caucus, we have done that before, then put it through and Bob is your uncle. It is done.

[Page 5349]

What a breath of fresh air that would be, what a breath of fresh air that would be to Nova Scotians. Let me tell you, Nova Scotians need a breath of fresh air right now. I don't know that I have seen, maybe, since 1994, people as cynical and as depressed and disgusted with a government as they are today. What they need is a dose of frankness, a dose of humility, a dose of honesty, Mr. Speaker, from a government that has done all the wrong things, to date. I don't think they intended to do all the wrong things, I think they are a well-intentioned lot over there, I honestly do. I think they are earnest, I think they are committed to the betterment of the Province of Nova Scotia. I just think they have gotten off track. They got carried away. I have heard stories out there that they have been taken over by the bureaucrats. You know a government is in trouble when they start blaming everything on the bureaucrats; lost control.

[5:45 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, I think these are a well-intentioned group of Nova Scotians over there but, boy oh boy, have they ever gotten themselves into trouble. They have gotten themselves into trouble, and gotten Nova Scotia into trouble. Nova Scotians are holding their heads and they are hanging their heads right now because of what this government has done. One of the things that this government has not been able to do, whether it is the Minister of Education, the Minister of Health, the Minister of Finance, the Premier, no matter how bad the mistake is, no matter how obvious the mistake is, they can't admit it. They get so far up on their high horse that they can't step down from it. Do you know what that says to Nova Scotians, that these guys figure they have all the answers, that they are smarter than everybody else, and no matter that they are wrong, they are not going to admit it - six months, six months.

The amendment that is on the floor to hoist the bill for six months would be a perfect opportunity for this government and the government members. The honourable member for Preston, I know is a serious and conscientious MLA, and he would take the time to go out to his constituents and say, all right, maybe we got off the track a little bit, it is not because we don't care, but now what we need to do is we need to get back together, we need to get back on the right track. I think his constituents would appreciate that. I know my constituents would appreciate hearing from this government, some honesty, some openness, some humility. I think they would appreciate hearing that from this government. I would be happy to participate in that kind of a consultation with Nova Scotians. I know a lot of members here would be willing to do that.

You have indicated that I have a few short minutes left, and I know that I wanted to move on to a couple of other items. Mr. Speaker, you know that I have talked in this House about how the Financial Measures (2000) Bill is a grab bag of things, items that a minister can't get through himself, or housekeeping things that the Minister of Health and his staff decide they want to throw in and throw together, and they call it the Financial Measures (2000) Bill. It makes all sorts of interesting changes.

[Page 5350]

One of the things in here is the changes to the Workers' Advisers Program, it makes changes to the Victims' Services Program, particularly the old program of victims compensation. My understanding of the change is to ensure that in fact victims will no longer receive financial compensation from this fund, that these guys are about to change the rules. They say here, in this bill, that the minister has to approve it. My understanding is that what the government wants to do is restrict any financial payments out of the Victims Compensation Fund. That is a huge change. That is a huge policy change that is not dealt with in this bill. It deserves fulsome discussion, because it is a policy change to a very important program that has been put into place for a reason. The member for Preston knows about it; he was around back in those days when it was originally set up, when he was the EA to the Minister of Justice, the Attorney General - he remembers those days when he tried to meddle in this, that and the other thing, but anyway. The point is, Mr. Speaker, that there are these and other changes throughout this bill that need to be examined, should not be dealt with in this way and the six months' hoist will provide an opportunity to do that.

In that six months, who knows what other information will come to light? Who knows what other results will come from our ferreting exercise, which has been an exercise which has been very fruitful up to this stage, Mr. Speaker. Nova Scotians are responding to the ferret hot line in unprecedented numbers and they are providing information. They are saying, did you know that this government is going to do such and such and so and so, that these changes will mean these lay-offs at this hospital and this clinic and in this department and no longer will these services be provided to this group of people?

It is unbelievable, what this government is doing. You know, I talked before about this bill as being helpful and constructive to government but let me say, on a very selfish note, that it will also help us. I have one minute to tell you this. Members of this Opposition believe that this government has participated in the great hoax. They brought in a budget, and this Financial Measures (2000) Bill is part of it, which is an abomination; which is pounding Nova Scotians over the head with rules and regulations; it is squeezing taxes and other monies out of their pockets; it is imposing greater regulations on them making policy changes under the guise of housekeeping and it should not be tolerated. This six months' hoist will provide us with an opportunity to hold this government accountable once and for all, and that is our goal here. Thank you very much. (Applause)

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

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: I would like to thank my friends to the left for that applause, thank you very much. (Applause) Can't you keep some decorum in this House, Mr. Speaker? (Laughter)

I am pleased to rise and join the debate today on Bill No. 46, An Act Respecting Certain Financial Measures and the first thing that came to mind when I was looking at it (Interruption) The old Sears catalogues, remember they used to use them for shin-pads in

[Page 5351]

hockey rinks and that. Perhaps if we waited six months we could collect them all now and give them to everybody who doesn't have a pair of shin-pads that could use them for next year. Anyway, it is a very weighted bill - 98 pages with 100 clauses. An omnibus bill, many people would say - or an ominous bill, I would say - ominous, not omnibus. I think that phraseology would probably be more appropriate. However, it is a bill that I believe contains few good measures, like every bill, but many measures in here that are Draconian, to be kind, and also a number of clauses in here and sections that need much discussion, much more discussion than has taken place to date. We have had lots of discussion on it this week in this place but I believe that previous speakers have said what I am about to say in regard to the need to have the people of Nova Scotia have an opportunity to discuss some of the measures that are in this particular bill. I believe there are a great number of Nova Scotians who are interested in how this government works, and they would like to know and would like to have an opportunity to discuss what is in these 100-some odd pages of clauses and various financial measures.

I can tell you, in looking at some of them, if Nova Scotians had an opportunity to discuss some of them, they would certainly be very disturbed about some of the messages that are coming out of this particular bill and some of the measures that this Tory Government opposite are foisting on Nova Scotians. It is not only this bill that should be hoisted for six months for further discussion, the entire agenda of this particular government should be put on hold until Nova Scotians have a chance to more adequately see what they bought into here in the last provincial election.

I believe a six months' hoist is not unreasonable here given the fact that virtually everything government has its hand in is included in these hundred pages. There are many, many measures in here that are going to affect Nova Scotians. I don't even have to go past the first page. The Emergency "911" Act. There are Nova Scotians out there right now who have been concerned about this particular bill, that it could indeed cost a senior citizen money to actually make a distress call. Senior citizens believe that is going to be the case when these measures are introduced and finally passed. They will be passed, but hopefully, if we had some time for meaningful discussion among the stakeholders who are the people of this province who elect us to this place, if they had an opportunity to go over to hear from the government, to hear from the Opposition, to hear from people who are concerned regarding Clause 7, for example, which is the Emergency "911" Act, if they had the opportunity to get the real story on what is happening with 911, instead of having the life scared out of them right now by the Draconian measures that are enclosed in that particular bill.

Surely the government knows or must realize that the demonstrations that have taken place day after day after day by thousands of people in this province, surely the government should be responsible enough to sit down with the people of Nova Scotia in a consultative operation over the next few months, however they want to devise that, whether it is going across the province to talk to some groups or whether it is inviting groups into Halifax to discuss these issues with relevant ministers. I believe that as a result of that, there may be

[Page 5352]

some constructive proposals come out of this whereby indeed some of these measures might be set aside for further discussion.

We have a great number of measures that are going to take some time to digest just by their sheer volume. I would think if we had an opportunity to take them one by one and discuss them with the various stakeholders in this province, then in fact, there may be some meaningful amendments or changes or indeed some of these may disappear all together when the government had a chance to obtain some information from the people in this province as to what they really think. Right now there are not too many people in this province who have even seen this particular bill. They don't know what is in it. But they are going to know what is in it I will tell you that, when the financial measures start coming out and people have to start paying for some of these bills, then they are going to know, then they are going to know what is in there. I am suggesting if this government is responsible, it will tell these citizens of Nova Scotia what is in it now, not after these measures are foisted on them.

Mr. Speaker, I understand my time is limited presently, but I certainly will be back following the interruption.

MR. SPEAKER: We have arrived at the moment of interruption. The Adjournment debate has been won by the honourable member for Victoria who will debate the following motion:

"Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House support a sustainable forestry industry."

ADJOURNMENT

MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Victoria.

NAT. RES - FORESTRY: INDUSTRY SUSTAINABLE - SUPPORT

MR. KENNETH MACASKILL: Mr. Speaker, indeed, I am pleased to have the opportunity to debate this resolution which I believe is very important to the House this evening. The resolution reads, "Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House support a sustainable forestry industry."

Mr. Speaker, unfortunately, there was no chance to discuss the budget estimates of the Department of Natural Resources, the minister being very busy in his other portfolios, that we did not have time to devote any time to Natural Resources and to this vital area. I think the Department of Natural Resources deserves to have a minister who would be prepared to

[Page 5353]

spend full time with this portfolio. The minister certainly has his work cut out for him in this portfolio as well as Agriculture and Marketing, and Fisheries and Aquaculture.

Mr. Speaker, that is a lot of areas and I think it is unfortunate for the industry that the minister is so busy and that he cannot devote his full time to this very important responsibility. I think any of these portfolios would be more than enough responsibility for one person. Farmers, fishermen and those in the forest industries are starting to see that the minister is having trouble finding time to dedicate the energy that each department demands and deserves. With so many other demands on his time, the minister will depend more and more on the dedicated and professional staff at the Department of Natural Resources. That is why it is disappointing to see so many DNR staff lose their jobs as a result of budget cuts. These job losses are more than just cost-cutting measures. There is an indication that this Progressive Conservative Government has abandoned our province's forestry and those who work in the forest industry. A good example of this disregard for our forests is the Tory commitment and that is a lack of commitment to silviculture.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to read a page from Hansard. This is back on June 3, 1999. I am quoting from the Minister of Finance. He says, "Where is Ottawa's support for our forestry sector? Where are the silviculture dollars needed to sustain our forests, this crucial sector to our economy? New Brunswick, Mr. Speaker, has invested $12 million in silviculture. What is this government doing? It is bringing forward the $3 million it committed to silviculture last year and promising to spend another $1 million this year for a grand total of $4 million . . ."

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Finance goes on to say that is, " . . . one-third of what our sister province of New Brunswick has invested to protect their forests and what they consider to be a valuable resource industry."

Well, Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Finance has forgotten those words very quickly. I noticed in the Tory election platform that the word silviculture is not mentioned, but the Tories did promise to spend $8 million more on forestry development in year two of their mandate. On July 6th in Elmsdale, last year, during the election, John Hamm repeated his platform pledge to put $8 million into silviculture development, but what have they done? They have cut silviculture by $1 million. Add this to the $1 million they cut from the fall budget, which was money promised by the previous Liberal Government after consultation with the industry. This means the Tories have effectively cut silviculture funding in half, from $4 million to $2.2 million. I am sure the minister will agree with me that that is not enough money in silviculture funding.

Mr. Speaker, in order to fulfil their election promises to silviculture, the Tories would have to put $10 million in this industry next year. I am sure the silviculture industry will be looking forward to that. In the Tory document, The Course Ahead, it says, "Our commitment to silviculture remains strong, and the steady erosion of support to the forestry sector over

[Page 5354]

the past few years will cease. Strategic investment in this sector benefits many rural communities and provides excellent seasonal employment.".

Mr. Speaker, according to the Forest Group Venture Association, the silviculture industry is suffering because of lack of commitment from this government. Eighty per cent of the people who are now out of the industry, according to John Roblee of the Forest Group Venture Association. Sixteen groups cannot pay their dues to this organization because of the cuts. I would like the minister to explain how he expects forestry groups, like the Forest Group Venture Association, to advocate on behalf of woodlot owners when the government is cutting back?

Mr. Speaker, at a recent meeting of forest technicians in Truro, it was decided that foresters need to do a better job of communicating with the public. The forest industry is not the enemy of the environmental lobby, despite what is often portrayed in the media. But our forest industry is having trouble getting its side of the story across because this government keeps cutting until the industry has no voice left.

Mr. Speaker, I had the opportunity, a few weeks ago, to ask the minister about fighting forest fires. He very proudly said that the budget to battle forest fires has been increased to $550,000 from the $335,000 originally budgeted for in 1999. Indeed, what the minister failed to say was that the cost of fighting forest fires was actually much greater. Although it has been a wet spring, I hope the minister is prepared to spend more money than what is in his budget to fight forest fires. I know the minister knows very well that when the fire happens, you have to put it out, regardless of whether you have the money in the budget. You certainly have to find the money and, of course, that was indicated in the press release that came out today. We all understand that, certainly, the minister is not going to allow the forest to burn down and say, we don't have money to fight it. We believe the minister will use his good sense of judgement and take care of the forest in that respect.

Mr. Speaker, the issue that we discussed today is silviculture. As we all know, we lose more and more of our forest to fires and over-harvesting. I think the focus should be on a strong silviculture program to maintain sustainability in our forests today. We all know that the technology available today in mills and the demand on the forests are growing day after day.

Another issue, before I will close, Mr. Speaker, is an issue that is close me and that is the Strathlorne Nursery. I hope that the minister will provide adequate funding for the nursery to maintain their level of production of seedlings and to provide for that community the jobs that it provides for the rural Inverness area. This centre was opened after the major budworm explosion on the Island in the mid-1970's, I think. It has played a huge role in Inverness County since that time and has provided employment for many people. It provides a good line of seedlings. So we hope that the minister will be able to continue funding the Strathlorne

[Page 5355]

Nursery for the benefit of providing seedlings for the forestry sector and to provide for the people of Inverness the jobs that they need so badly in that area.

With that, Mr. Speaker, I will turn the floor over to another member.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Natural Resources.

HON. ERNEST FAGE: Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to make some comments in regard to a few questions that were raised. Tonight's discussion is on sustainable forest supply, and I am certainly pleased to stand here in my place and to reassure, the member from the Liberal Party, I haven't had a chance to hear the comments from the member from the NDP, that a number of those issues he has raised certainly are addressed and have been addressed in this year's budget.

The first one I would like to comment on is that it is a pleasure to be able to ensure that the funding for the Strathlorne Nursery was in this year's budget and that vital nursery will continue to provide service this year. In years to come, we will have to assess its role on an ongoing basis. I think it is also important to move back and have a little bit of a look at forest fire allocations and budgets. In the previous government, $335,000 was the allocation for the previous five years. Each year the actual amount of money required to fight the fires varied greater than that. Last year it rose to $1.2 million because of, in large part, the disastrous fire in Shelburne County early in the season. Reflecting those increases, certainly we would want to have that acknowledgement that we have raised it to over $500,000 this year and to acknowledge that $335,000 for the last five years certainly hasn't been enough money to look after that budget.

For myself, it was a great pleasure to announce the sustainable forestry regs a couple of weeks ago, which, along with the proclamation of the buyers registry, take concrete steps for the first time in two decades to move forward sustainable forestry practices. I certainly would want to compliment my predecessor in the Liberal Government, the former member who spoke on this debate, the proclamation of the new forestry regs and Act was a very positive step in moving the process forward. It has been my pleasure to continue to ensure that that takes place. What it really means is, currently the provincial government is putting approximately $3 million into silviculture, and those dollars are obviously not enough to sustain sustainable forest practices. The previous government had been unsuccessful in obtaining federal funding to help supplement that.

This new move forward, with the Registry of Buyers, with this year starting July 1st, the larger operators in this province, purchasers of round wood fibre, are contributing $3.00 a cubic metre for softwood, and $0.60 a cubic metre for hardwood. This will put together a fund by the end of next year totalling $9 million, as well as the $3 million put forward for private by the province, and this year we will spend $2 million on Crown. Traditionally, last year, $3 million had been spent. There is a potential $15 million by the end of next year that

[Page 5356]

will be going back into sustainable forest practice. I think this is, indeed, good news, and it is extremely positive news. Unlike my predecessor, the majority of the forest industry has greeted us strongly and embraced it, from the saw mill owners to individual landowners. In that regard, in those regs, we have ensured, and spelled it out in regulation, that the individual landowner has a choice on the silviculture treatment.

Large property holders and forestry companies will be able to do the silviculture on their properties but the small woodlot owner has a number of choices. There is the sustainability fund that he or she could draw the resources from to do their own silviculture work, they can draw those funds to have a private contractor of their choice do it, or they could hire and have the harvester who owns the processing facility do it as well. So, there are a number of options there, and those options are the choice of that individual sawmill owner. I think the very important part, though, to the whole process is that the dollars will be allocated in the same manner as the wood was harvested. If it is a cubic metre harvested on small private woodlot holdings, then those dollars will be going back to doing silviculture work on small private woodlot holders.

[6:15 p.m.]

These are significant advancements in silviculture here in Nova Scotia. Certainly, as the study last fall indicated, Crown land is in a sustainable position, large private woodlot holdings are in a sustainable position. The vulnerable holdings in Nova Scotia, which is 75 per cent of land holdings in Nova Scotia, is the small private woodlot owner. It is very important that those lands are brought up to sustainable standards. This will provide a great opportunity to begin the process of taking us down that path to ensure that happens. To ensure that dollars are there for silviculture work, for reforestation work, for those types of treatments to ensure there will be value sawlogs, pulpwood and wood fibre produced on private woodlot holdings is obviously the goal of the province and the forestry industry and the people of Nova Scotian.

Those very lands have a great deal of demands on them, and we want to ensure, as I am sure all members opposite want to ensure, there will be the forest use for commercial, for recreational, for wildlife for years and generations to come. We can only ensure that if the dollars that are taken from the forests that a certain portion is returned to the forest to ensure there is a healthy forest that is vibrant and growing and is in a position to ensure that a forest out there in this province can still continue to provide the 21,000 jobs it now contributes to the Province of Nova Scotia. It provides $1 billion worth of export from this province. Those figures are substantial in rural Nova Scotia. We will do everything within our power to maintain them.

Certainly, that multi-use is coming strongly into focus as we move forward. Another component of addressing the varied uses and demands on the Crown lands specifically and all forest lands in general is the Integrated Forest Management Program which we have

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instituted where all Crown lands are being assessed, and the projects are nearing completions in most areas of Nova Scotia, to its best use. Some of those will be designated as commercial; some of them will be designated commercial with restricted uses, so that wildlife and recreational opportunities are provided for multi-use on that piece; and obviously, some of them will be designated as significant in terms of landscape, texture or diversity of the plants and the forests growing on those lands that they should be protected in the form of parklands or special protected places.

That process puts a fair and forthright and objective measuring mechanism in place to evaluate the various uses for all Nova Scotians, because certainly Nova Scotians of all walks of life enjoy the tranquillity and scenery of the forest, enjoy the wildlife that resides in those forests. Certainly all Nova Scotians and rural communities appreciate and know and understand, and it has been part of our culture for generations, the forest industry and the harvesting of logs to ensure the prosperity of this province.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to take this moment to thank you for the opportunity to speak, and I will now take my place.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants East.

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, I don't really have a lot to take issue with, with the minister. I think the minister believes in a genuine way that the initiatives that his department have undertaken are good for the forests and I believe that they are a step in the right direction, but I am not entirely convinced that they will do the job. I have some concerns about that. I want the minister, and whichever members of his caucus are listening, to take what I say in as genuine a basis as I can say. We tend to think that everything here is for political expediency, but I do have some experience working in the woods in Nova Scotia.

I have real concerns as to where this industry is going. If we look at the potential of what this sector can do for this province - it has sustainability, is renewable and can go on to the end of time - I would expect that what we are going to see in the future is increased value for wood products, due to scarcity for one thing. We will find that there will be competition by other substances - plastics, et cetera. We are already seeing laminated beams and so on. Some people in the industry will argue that we no longer need big trees, we no longer need to cut timbers, because laminated beams are stronger and they are what the construction industry is asking for.

I think the reverse argument is true as well and that is the idea that the reason we are going to laminated beams is because there are no big timbers left. There are no large amounts of trees that we can cut large timbers out of to supply the construction sector and therefore if you can't get them, then you go with whatever you can get. You can cut smaller trees, mill them, glue them together and you can make large beams that way and that is what we are doing.

[Page 5358]

In my local area, Ledwidge Lumber in Enfield, they have built a new mill which deals with cutting 2 x 4's out of a four-inch stick. In other words, if it is four inches inside the bark, at the top end, then they can get two 2 x 4's out of it. I want to tell you if mills are putting that kind of technology in, then they see where this is going. They know that we are getting to the end of the large trees and they are expecting to cut trees before they get mature enough to be large anymore because the demand is so great, they can't wait any longer for trees to grow up to be the trees that we tend to think our ancestors saw when they first bumped into North America.

The minister mentioned his registry of buyers and this is a good idea. I agree with the minister's view towards sustainability in the sense that I think the industry should pay more. I think it is in the best interests of all Nova Scotians if they do. I suspect that if it is the buyers that are paying the $6.00 a cord that goes into the sustainability fund, that probably it is actually the landowners that are doing that. In other words, if you own a mill and you are buying wood from someone, then more than likely he is getting $6.00 a cord less that you can put toward the fund because I would certainly expect there would be mills who would feel that they don't have to carry the full load in regard to this cost.

I also have the documents put out by the Department of Natural Resources and this is the Nova Scotia Wood Supply Forecast for Nova Scotia, 1996 to 2070 and it has quite a bit of valuable information here. One thing it does mention is what our operable forest is; in other words, if we cut out parks, we cut out everything else that you are not going to cut a tree on, then we have 2.616 million hectares of forest from which we cut trees on for the forest sector for that industry. Okay, good to know that.

I want to throw some numbers around for the minister and for him to be aware that the prediction, I think right now the numbers that they used to come up with this sustainability forecast were an average of 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998 cut of timber in Nova Scotia. So they took the average of those four years and they came up with 5.8 million cubic metres and so I think that the one thing the minister did not mention when he spoke, Mr. Speaker, is that if this money for the sustainability fund is going for silviculture, then how do you determine that you are going to hit these targets for sustainability if you don't set a limit on how much you cut?

These numbers, the graphs, the projections of sustainability in the government's own forecast are based on cutting no more than that average of 5.8 million metres cubed and if the minister feels that his numbers are good enough, then I think the minister is going to have to put a limit on how much we cut. In other words, if we go above that level, then his forecasts for sustainability don't come out. In other words, we don't hit our targets for sustainability in this sector and if the minister isn't going to put a limit on how much we cut and a number of years ago, Mr. Speaker, we used to talk about annual allowable cut in this province. If you ask anybody in the minister's Department of Natural Resources about annual allowable cut, they practically tell you to bite your tongue. They are not going to put a limit on how much

[Page 5359]

wood is cut in Nova Scotia; 20 per cent of what is cut here leaves the province and there is no way from his regulations to ensure that those buyers in New Brunswick pay into the sustainability fund.

I want to give the minister some information that right now those individuals cutting 150,000 metres cubed or more start to contribute as of May 31st to the sustainability fund and they are doing that at one-half the $3.00 per cubic metre. They are doing it at $1.50 per cubic metre for the first year for a phase-in period and then after that if anybody does 5,000 metres cubed or more, that comes into effect February 28, 2001, but if you are doing less than 1,000 cubic metres, you don't pay into the fund.

Probably one of the largest mills in the province as far as sawmills go, which is equivalent to, say, one of the smaller pulp mills, I think it is probably somewhere in the range of the Bowater Mersey pulp mill, but the MacTara mill in Upper Musquodoboit is putting 180 million board feet through their mill. If we have two cords per 1,000 and 2,000 cords per million board feet, that comes out to about 360,000 cords of wood going through that mill, Mr. Speaker. At 25 cords to the acre, that is 14,000 acres per year that it takes to sustain that one mill in the province.

So, if we consider it is equal to the other three pulp mills, then we can multiply that by four and the same amount is leaving the province, you can multiply that by five. Unless the minister is going to put a limit on how much is cut, he cannot hit his sustainability targets because they are based on a limit that was an average amount to 1998. I thank the members for their time and I thank you, Mr. Speaker.

[6:30 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: I would like to thank the members for taking part in this debate this evening.

[PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING]

Bill No. 46 - Financial Measures (2000) Act. [Debate resumed.]

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

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to be back to address Bill No. 46, An Act Respecting Certain Financial Measures, and to have the opportunity to, once again, enter into debate on the hoist amendment that is now before the House. It is, I think, and many members in this House have spoken on this bill this week and I think they are all of like opinion that a bill of this magnitude, which is 100 clauses, 98 pages, very heavy, is worth a little bit more than a rush through the House: first reading, second reading,

[Page 5360]

Committee of the Whole House on Bills and then back for a speedy third reading and off it goes into legislation.

I can see the smile on the Government House Leader's face. Having once occupied that lofty chair, I know from whence he comes when he talks about trying to get bills through the House.

AN HON. MEMBER: Speedily.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Speedily, yes. I believe that the discussions that have taken place on this bill, even the Government House Leader and members opposite would have to agree that there is much in here that deserves some discussion, much in here that, perhaps, should (Interruption) No, the Justice Minister states that it has gotten a lot of discussion. Yes, it has, in here. We are probably 19 hours talking on this bill now, but people of Nova Scotia would like to know what is in this bill. They would like to have an opportunity to discuss the many clauses that are encompassed in this bill and would like to have the opportunity to express their feelings, prior to this bill being passed through this House and, ultimately, written into legislation, enshrined in legislation in this province.

I believe that there are measures in this particular document that should be passed and, eventually, will be passed. However, Mr. Speaker, there are other measures in this bill that deserve further discussion and, yes, some measures in this bill do not deserve to be passed and become law in this province. Some of the measures in the Financial Measures (2000) Bill are simply measures to enable the Executive Council to do their bidding much easier than they otherwise would be able to. In other words, they would be enshrining in legislation some bills that, perhaps, would then give them the opportunity to have those bills implemented and, also, acted on, from time to time, without resorting to Orders in Council or resorting to edicts at the whim of the Cabinet.

I believe that, within six months, the government will be able to get a better grasp on this particular bill, put all the better perception of this bill to Nova Scotians who, I believe, would be interested in the contents of this bill if they knew what those contents were, and they don't. That is the problem. They don't know that there are many tax measures in here and what they are and how those tax measures are going to impact on their daily lives. They don't know that the government is doing away with some government institutions, departments, sections of departments in this particular bill. They don't know that there are 100 pages of very significant legislative items in this particular package, but a six months' hoist would give the government the opportunity to speak to Nova Scotians directly on the implications of this particular bill and its contents.

Many speakers have said, Mr. Speaker, prior to my rising in this House on this issue, that the thousands of people who, so far, have demonstrated since this session of the Legislature opened, and I say so far, because we are probably going to see some more prior

[Page 5361]

to the end of this session, surely those people have brought the message to the government that all is not well, that they are not satisfied with this government, that they want this government to stop some of the Draconian legislation that has been introduced. They want them to stop the attitude of this government towards the citizens of Nova Scotia, and the we- know-what-is-best attitude; you don't as citizens, we do as members of the government and the Executive Council and yes, even the Tory backbenchers who have demonstrated, by voting for the budget the other day, that Nova Scotians should trust them. They don't have to know what is going on, they should just trust the government opposite and everything will be all right. Well, this particular bill will tell you that everything is not all right. Everything is certainly not all right, not by a long shot.

You only have to look at the very first page of this bill to get a feel for what is wrong with the entire bill and why this bill should not go through the House without adequate consultation by Nova Scotians. On the very first page, the Emergency "911" Act, much discussion in this place on that bill, but I will guarantee you, Mr. Speaker, that the senior citizens and others in Nova Scotia who are going to be affected by this bill because it is going to concern them that in order to call in an emergency situation, that it may cost them. People on fixed incomes, it may cost them to do this. They don't know that, the Minister of Justice says regular toll, well, why doesn't the Minister of Justice and other members opposite go out and explain that to groups who are concerned, not try to ram it through the House and say, oh well, nobody seemed to be concerned about it so we can just go ahead and implement any of those measures. I am telling you people out there are concerned about the 911 bill and the implications of that bill on their personal lives.

Now, you move on to Page 4, the Halifax-Dartmouth Port Development Commission Act; doing away with that. At the same time they are trying to establish a Port Commission in the Sydney area so they can coordinate all their efforts around the waterfront. What is this government doing? They are doing away with the Port Commission in Halifax, one of the busiest ports on the Atlantic Seaboard and they are doing away with it. There can only be two reasons why the government is doing away with that, and this is another reason why I think this hoist should be entertained, a very good reason, one is, they don't feel the Port Commission is necessary or, which is more plausible, they don't like the make-up of that Port Commission so they are doing the roundabout way of getting rid of the people who are on it and they will come back in six months' time, maybe not to discuss it, but to appoint friends of the government to a newly established Port Commission.

Am I being cynical? Yes, I am. I am being truthful but I am also being cynical. I am cynical enough to know that I believe that that is the way this crowd works. To do away, with no rational reason whatsoever, I am sure members opposite who represent HRM constituencies should be really concerned that this government is doing away with the Port Commission. Their very own Port Commission and they are doing away with it, just poof, gone. Now is it because they don't feel they need a Port Commission? Every other major port

[Page 5362]

in the world has a Port Commission, people who don't have them are trying to get them, like the Cape Breton Regional Municipality, it is necessary to promote Sydney Harbour.

What is this government doing? They are doing away with the Port Commission here. At a time when they are trying to develop the Port of Halifax to world standards, the government is doing away with the Port Commission. Well, either they feel, Mr. Speaker, that the Port Commission is no longer necessary or they don't like the people who are on it right now and are using legislation to dump them. If they want to get rid of them, why don't you just fire them and put some political appointments in there and carry on with business. Never mind trying to fool Nova Scotians into doing some political shaving here and try to have it go unnoticed.

The same thing applies with the Gaming Corporation. Nobody in this province believes that down the road, you are not going to have a Gaming Commission. You are just going to have a reconstituted Gaming Commission with all your friends on it. That is what is going to happen there. There is going to be a new Gaming Commission. I will say it here tonight that there will be a new Gaming Commission in this province within a year with some very well-connected Tories heading it up and occupying the seats down there.

Again, I have only gone to two or three pages in this particular bill, and I think there are reasons why this omnibus or ominous legislative package has this group of contents. It is a government agenda, a roundabout way of doing what you could do in the bunker, but what you want to do is fool Nova Scotians into thinking this is progressive legislation when, in fact, it is nothing more than a political agenda.

Back to the hoist. I believe that six months would not damage this government. It would give Nova Scotians the opportunity to discuss these important issues. After all, this is a majority government, Mr. Speaker, we are dealing with here. A majority government that has a four year mandate, which I am certain is going to exercise it because if they try to go back to the polls any sooner than that, they will be the shortest one-term government in a long time.

We have heard the government speak a lot about financial accountability, about open and honest government. Yet here we have 98 pages of legislation that they are trying to ram through this House with little or no public input. As a matter of fact, there is no public input, just what is going on in this place, with Opposition members - and I speak for both Opposition Parties here - trying to convince the government opposite that Nova Scotians deserve the right to have these legislative proposals explained to them over the next six months prior to some of them eventually finding their way into law.

We have heard again about financial accountability and open government. We have also heard about financial stress, financial ruin and disasters. We have heard the government tell Nova Scotians about the uphill struggle they are facing and how the cuts they are imposing

[Page 5363]

are absolutely necessary. In some pages of this document, we are not talking about cuts, we are talking about tax increases. We are not talking about government cuts except when it comes to politics, then we are talking about cuts. A roundabout way of getting rid of people who are not necessarily friends of the government; competent people, yes, but not necessarily friends of the government.

I believe the Province of Nova Scotia and its people would be better equipped in six months to get a better picture of where this province is heading financially, and I believe, Mr. Speaker, that the Tories have put just about everything that they are responsible for into a package of one kind or another to try to ram everything through in a hurry so that Nova Scotians will be so confused about what is happening in Nova Scotia, that they will have no idea of where they are going to be left at the end of the day in terms of where this province is heading in the future. I could tell you, judging from some of the debate on estimates that have taken place in this place in the past couple of weeks, Nova Scotians have a right to be concerned.

I know Nova Scotians are concerned about what they have heard in debate, what they have heard about this Draconian budget of the Minister of Finance, what they have heard about the main engine of government, Economic Development, now operating on two cylinders because they don't have any money left in the budget. They have cut their budget by 45 per cent this year, yet they are going out trumpeting the fact that Nova Scotia is going to be open for business in the future. Well, it is not. Nova Scotia is closed for business, because there is no identifiable department on the front benches anywhere that is going to be the economic engine to drive the economy in this province and to promote small business in the future. Nobody is doing it, nobody is going to be doing it, because there is no identifiable source in the budget for them to do it. What are they going to do? They are going to do nothing. They are closed, tilt, gone home, lights are out, over the next couple of years in Nova Scotia; no direction, no economic development, no support for small business.

[6:45 p.m.]

Sure, they will say the private sector will kick in here. The private sector will provide the funding for small businesses that are starting up in Nova Scotia through the banks, the traditional lending agencies, not government. I defy anybody over there to go to a small businessman, who is starting up, and have them go to the bank and get a loan to start his business. I defy you to give me a name of somebody who can do that. The only ones they will loan money to are people who don't need it. The Department of Economic Development had a program in place to help small businesses start up in this province, and I can't find any money in any budget in that department that will keep that program going.

Maybe it is in the hoist, maybe it is in here somewhere, if the people of Nova Scotia had a chance to look at it, maybe it is included in the tax equity program, but who knows? Nobody has seen it, except the legislators who are talking about it here. Nova Scotians, small

[Page 5364]

business people don't know whether it is in this bill. They have no idea. How would they know? There is no consultation going on by anybody. We had a situation where a consultative process took place in Cape Breton between stakeholders who gave some ideas to the government. What did the government come up with? Its own program, they are going to have more consultation. Instead of actually doing something in Cape Breton, they are going to rag the puck for another five years down there.

The government tells us that there is too much red tape in this province, that they have to cut the red tape, they have get on with doing business, yet, the business engine is stalled; the business engine of this province is stalled. It has no teeth in it. Senior civil servants are galloping out the front doors of Economic Development because there is no work for them to do anymore, because there are no programs over there anymore. That government department has been decimated. But they introduce a red tape commissioner to send everybody to the red tape commissioner with their problems. We tried that recently, and what were we told? Oh, we don't have a red tape commissioner yet, we just said we were going to put one in, we didn't actually mean it, or we didn't get around to it yet. We just didn't get around to it.

Now there is nowhere for anybody to go. Trust us, is what the government is saying. You don't need to go anywhere, you don't need any consultation, just trust us, and we will do what is right for you. I don't think Nova Scotians are in the mood to do that. On top of all that, to add insult to everything else that has been going on in this province, there are new deputy ministers everywhere. They are coming in here from British Columbia, and they are coming in here from New Brunswick. We can't find any people in this province capable of being deputy ministers. They have to go out and get people who have left their mark in other provinces. I don't have to elaborate on what kind of a mark they left in other provinces, but they are now here in Nova Scotia because this government felt that there are no Nova Scotians worthy of taking on the role of being deputy minister in government departments. Don't you trust Nova Scotians? Is there anywhere, maybe in this bill, that will talk about Nova Scotians being smart enough to be deputy minsters?

The biggest jobs in government are going to people who don't even live in this province, and government members seem to think that is okay; nothing wrong with that. Just employ British Columbians and New Brunswickers, bring them in to Nova Scotia. I can tell you, there are people in this province who are quite capable of being deputy ministers of government in this province. They keep piling on the bureaucracy, and at the same time they talk about new measures to streamline government. What we are talking about here in this bill is new measures all right, to impose additional burdens on Nova Scotians who, by the way, have no idea what is in this particular document as I hold it up here this evening. What I would like to do, and I am sure other members have said it over and over again, is for the government to take this document and consult with Nova Scotians over the next six months or longer, if it is necessary, or if they can get a satisfactory message out, perhaps even shorter than that. But there is no message gone out. All that has gone out is a trust me. I am your

[Page 5365]

government, trust me, I know what is best for you. Well, some of the people who are going to be impacted by this 98 pages of legislation are not going to be too pleased when some of this - and hopefully not all of it - will become law in this province.

I think we, as Opposition Parties in this House, have a responsibility to tell Nova Scotians about what is happening here in this session of the Legislature. We have a responsibility to tell people about this bill and the only vehicle we can use to do that is in this Assembly. You can do it by going to the people of Nova Scotia as a government. Each minister that this budget impacts, each department, can go to the stakeholders who are affected and tell them what is in here, what it means to their lives, what it is going to mean in the future.

It seems to me, Mr. Speaker, when we are talking about tax equity, a year ago we started to get a leg-up on the film industry in Nova Scotia. We were becoming competitive. Where are we now? We are less than competitive because we did not increase the tax credit for the film industry. (Interruption) Pardon me?

AN HON. MEMBER: We did.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: No you didn't. (Interruptions) Listen, Mr. Speaker, I am telling the government members that we needed to go anywhere outside of HRM, we needed to go to a 40 per cent tax credit in order to be competitive in the film industry and we needed to broaden the tax credit for the music industry as well, particularly in my area, in the Cape Breton Regional Municipality. We needed to do that to be competitive. We didn't do it. I don't know why this government didn't do it and Nova Scotians don't know why this government didn't do it. That is why I am saying that Nova Scotians should have the right to know why this wasn't done.

Mr. Speaker, in this legislation the government wants all government business enterprise to have prior approval of all financial transactions. I agree the government has to know what is going on and I agree that financial transactions need prior approval. I agree, in principle, that the government has to have a financial agenda but the government while, on the one hand, is professing that they are very democratic in particular wish, to have accountability and to display an openness so people in this province will know what is going on, this same government wants to foist this on the people of Nova Scotia without leaving this House any consultation. Just as a matter of fact they are going to put this bill through.

There are 100 clauses with a number of tax measures in here, user pay measures, all kinds of measures in here that Nova Scotians have never seen before in terms of user pay services. What is to come after this document? Is there going to be another document with more tax measures? Are there going to be decisions made on tax measures downstairs in the bunker whenever it suits them? I sincerely hope not. I hope that Nova Scotians will have the ability to access some of this information prior to it becoming law.

[Page 5366]

Did the government do any financial analysis on any of this or is it the same kind of financial analysis that was done on the entire budget? We have seen examples day in and day out, oops, I made a mistake on this; oops, I made a mistake on that; or, pardon me, that figure was not right; or lo and behold we have a slush fund. Is there any of that in here? Are there any slush funds coming out of this that are not in the government coffers yet, but on the passage of this bill will become new revenue for the Province of Nova Scotia? I don't know.

Why is the government not prepared to consult? Government services, there is some indication here that some government services are going to change. I think Nova Scotians want to know where this government is heading on the privatization route.

AN HON. MEMBER: They have a right to know.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: They have a right to know, that is right, and I believe that some members opposite would agree that to consult on this very important area should be desirous, but they are not running the show. I am talking about the backbenchers over there, the people who have indicated their desire to be elevated to the front benches and some of them back there are just looking to hang on to their seats and they have no chance of coming to the front benches, but are toeing the Party line.

It is pretty bad when the Premier of this province, Mr. Speaker, would say, when he was running for this job he has now, when his government was running, saying he is going to allow free votes. There is going to be a new sort of government, a new form of government in Nova Scotia. It is going to be a government that every member opposite is going to be able to speak their mind. Every member (Interruption)

The member for Preston is yakking over there. If he would get on the record and say something in this debate, it would be beneficial. I will tell the member for Preston this is not a plebiscite bill, this is a bill filled with information that Nova Scotians should know and the member for Preston should be pressing his own Cabinet members and the authors of this bill to let Nova Scotians see it and discuss it. That is what the member for Preston should be doing. Instead of toeing the Party line, he should be doing that.

I think that Nova Scotians have a right to know what the people of the Eastern Shore, for example, think about privatization. We have got Eastern Shore constituency letters going out criticizing people who disagree with government policy, criticizing the NSTU, criticizing just about everybody in Eastern Shore, I don't know where that member thinks he is going to get elected next time, but if he keeps sending these out, it is not going to be in Eastern Shore, I can tell you that.

What does the member for Victoria think? He would like to know what the members down his way think about it and he is one of our members. He is concerned about it. A lot of people are saying to me and what they are thinking also, is that this government is becoming

[Page 5367]

a Klein-Hamm Government instead of a Harris-Klein Government, but something interesting happened today. (Interruption) Even Ralph Klein is smarter than that, to hook up with John Hamm, and we have seen that today, the newest member of the Canadian Alliance, but there are major decisions that are going to happen in this province over the next couple of years and a lot of those decisions are going to be made as a result of this document.

This document that I referred to earlier as a mini-Sears catalogue, which will be good for shin-pads, and I suggest to you that is all it is good for, but it is a document of government. I think the people of Nova Scotia have a right to have this document discussed at length from one end of this province to the other. After all, Mr. Speaker, it is 98 pages of legislation, and the government is treating it like it is something that can go flying through the House, and Nova Scotians will be none the wiser, and they will go back to their own lives after this House rises, and they will get involved in summer activities, and they will forget all about this. I don't think that is going to happen, because the measures in here are too Draconian. They are measures that Nova Scotians did not elect this government for. There are measures in here, considerations in this particular package that Nova Scotians are going to react very badly to when they are implemented.

[7:00 p.m.]

I think the people of Nova Scotia have a right to know whether or not there are any health implications in this bill. Are we in for a massive round of privatization in the health field? Are we going to start paying user fees on a regular basis in Nova Scotia for health care? I hope not, because if this government expects to get re-elected, don't fool around with user fees and health care. I will tell you that right now. You heard it from me first tonight. Because Nova Scotians will fire you out quicker than anything if you try that. I am going to tell you. (Interruptions)

I believe, Mr. Speaker, when a government wants to initiate a new program of the magnitude of some of those contained in this document that they should first of all be introduced separately so when they go to the Law Amendments Committee, there will be a specific group of people interested in a specific bill that will be able to come to the Law Amendments Committee to discuss that particular bill. How in the name of Heaven can anybody come to the Law Amendments Committee to discuss 98 pages of legislation and get any justice in a five minute presentation that they will be allowed at the Law Amendments Committee? How can anybody expect Nova Scotians to receive justice before the Law Amendments Committee in a bill of this size? How can anybody expect Nova Scotians to even know what is in here from cover to cover when it goes to the Law Amendments Committee? And it will finally make its way to the Law Amendments Committee. Not soon, but it will make its way to the Law Amendments Committee perhaps before the middle of July or August. It will make its way there some time. But not soon.

[Page 5368]

The government members opposite, I hope, will be encouraged to speak to their front bench-masters here, the members of the Executive Council, about coming clean with what is in this bill, for telling Nova Scotians the truth about where they are going with user fees and where they are going with tax measures, where they are going with government cuts, what they are privatizing and what they are not privatizing, who they are laying off and who they are keeping. There are thousands of Nova Scotians, I believe, that are going out the door when this government finishes its agenda. They should have a right to know what the future holds for them. They should also have the right to know, Mr. Speaker, what is contained in each and every one of these measures. The only way I suggest to you that they could do that is to be consulted.

I don't see why the government could not withdraw this bill in favour of consultation. I believe that by doing that it would give Nova Scotians some confidence that at least the government is trying to keep them apprised of what is going on, and is allowing them to make decisions on what they like and what they don't like about public policy coming from this government prior to that policy being implemented, not after it is implemented.

I know that the government has made some statements about balancing the budget in this province and instead of that they are going the other way already. They put some specific time lines on that. Is there any measure here that suggests that the government doesn't meet that budgetary control they have set. In other words, a balanced budget in the year 2002-03. Will this government resign if it doesn't do that? Will you put a tax measure in here to that? The Government House Leader laughs at that because he has no intentions of doing it. That was another promise, just like your highway. Come on, now, you know all about the old days much more than I do.

I wonder what would happen if the people of Nova Scotia have a chance in the year 2002-03 to have a consultation if the government doesn't meet its target of balancing the budget? I just wonder if Nova Scotians will be given the opportunity to write a report card on the government at that time as to where it is?

People act in haste and an old friend of mine used to say, relax and leisure, well relaxed he used, but repent is a good word too. I believe this government is acting in haste, early on in its mandate, very early on in its mandate, because I believe they still think the people will forget, that people have short memories, that is an oft used cliche of politicians. That we will stick it to them now because they have short memories and we will give them half of it back in a few years time, they will think we are great. Well, I am going to tell you something. Nova Scotians are smarter than that. They want to know now what is contained in this 100 pages. They don't want to be taxed to death and put out of business here for the first couple of years and then thrown a few crumbs as you guys head back to the polls; some of you for the last time.

[Page 5369]

As a matter of fact, I have already devised a head count over there and I could tell you right now who is coming back and who isn't. We discussed it a lot, but I will save that for another day.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I want to remind the honourable member that he is speaking to the hoist amendment and I would ask him to bring his comments back to the motion.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I wouldn't have it any other way, you know I always value your intervention. Just as an aside, you are not one of the ones I was thinking about. (Laughter) We will save the other comments for another day, but if anybody wants a private audience with me on that matter, I will certainly give them my opinion. I can be seen afterwards.

Back to the hoist, and very seriously this Bill No. 46 is something I feel Nova Scotians have a right to look at from cover to cover. They have a right to be consulted. I haven't even seen any advertising on this bill. I haven't even seen any indication of a government propaganda letter, if you will. You haven't even bothered to do that, to say that these measures are good for you, they are good for your health, they are good for your pocketbook, never mind that it is going to fleece Nova Scotians but it is still good for the pocketbook.

There are new tax measures here. There are reductions in government in here. There are privatization issues in here. They are doing away with some very important corporations in this province for political reasons. It can't be for any other reasons. Why, in Heaven's name, would anybody want to do away with the Halifax-Dartmouth Port Development Commission if it wasn't for political reasons? Why would anybody want to fool around with 911 when it is not necessary? A life-saving device that we have and the government has sent the message out there that you are liable to be charged if you called in an emergency.

I think Nova Scotians have to know about this. They have to know what is in those 100 pages of legislation wrapped up into one very ominous bill, a bill that will go in its entirety to the Law Amendments Committee. Now which group of Nova Scotians will the Clerk of this House invite in to make representation to the Law Amendments Committee?

MR. DAVID HENDSBEE: Anybody who wants to.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Virtually, you would have to bring everybody in Nova Scotia in here. The member for Preston says anybody who wants to come in. That is right. Well, you know, at the risk of letting the cat out of the bag, he is one of them that I was talking about but I will go back to the bill. (Interruption) Mr. Speaker, you are definitely in, I can tell you right now.

[Page 5370]

The first reading on this bill was April 18th, Mr. Speaker. It is not even a month later and this government is already asking to have this bill put through, 100 pages of legislation, 100 pages of Draconian measures, 100 pages of tax increases, 100 pages of reductions. A by your leave, they just want it to go to the Law Amendments Committee to be whisked through there back to the House for third reading. Everything that we can do would probably only take us until the end of summer and then time will have run out on us and the people of Nova Scotia will be no wiser because they will not have an opportunity to look at these clause by clause, bill by bill, and Statute by Statute.

This will go over there and there will be a five minute limit put on by the chairman and people will be asked to go in and by the time they get through it, their five minutes will be up, if they get through any of it at all and then it will come back. It will come back containing, what I consider and our Party considers, some of the worst legislation that this government has seen in a number of years. Not only that, there are many financial measures in this particular bill.

We were asked here the other day to approve a budget, Mr. Speaker, that was incomplete. It is a work in progress. Who ever heard of a budget coming to the House for approval that is a work in progress? The Auditor General should be looking at that, a work in progress. I would think that he should be concerned that a budget went through this House that is not complete.

As a matter of fact, the numbers in that budget change every time there is a Question Period. Every time a question goes out as to what they are spending in Education, what they are spending in Health, what they are spending in Agriculture and Marketing, what they are spending in other government departments, the numbers change because the Finance Minister runs interference for these ministers and I am not so sure whether or not there are other clauses in this particular bill that will enable the Finance Minister to put some of the slush fund here or some of the slush fund there. (Interruption) Yeah, he would do it anyway.

Here were are, we have the figures changing daily in Education, they are changing in Health, they are changing everywhere else in government. The Finance Minister says his budget is a work in progress, it is not a completed document. Nova Scotians bought a budget last week that they have no idea what is in it.

AN HON. MEMBER: They enforced a budget.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: They enforced a budget, sure. It is called a majority across the way, there. We certainly didn't contribute to that resolution the other day. (Interruption) I don't think it makes much difference whether he was here or not. You know the numbers, Mr. Justice Minister. I don't have to tell you. It is called a majority government. I have to tell you this, the people of Nova Scotia, over the next year, are going to see a much

[Page 5371]

different government than the one they voted for with the promises that were made, including the provision of the free vote.

Many members opposite, including the one I talked about earlier, the member for Preston, said, you couldn't vote against a finance bill, the budget. That is right. But there are clauses of this particular bill that will not bring the government down if members opposite feel that they should vote against it, a particular clause or all of it. The budget is passed. The government is safe. We are prepared, Mr. Deputy Premier. Is that your official title now, Deputy Premier? I heard the media call you that. I just wondered. I thought it was the Health Minister, but I guess it is the House Leader.

Anyway, what I wanted to say was that this bill can be amended. I believe there are going to be many amendments coming on this bill in the Law Amendments Committee and, perhaps, in second reading. There are going to be some amendments and we hope that, in the spirit of openness and the spirit of members opposite wanting to do what is right for their constituents, that some of these will be considered because, as we introduce the amendments, we are hoping that the amendments will be made available to the public of this province where it impacts on them, particularly groups like senior citizens, groups that are involved with the Public Service and Nova Scotians who are going to experience some tax increases.

They may want a chance to call members opposite, government members, particularly members, who I have said before in this House, are not members of the government, but members of the governing Party. They are MLAs like we are. They are not members of the front benches and they are not restricted to toeing the Party line, according to the Premier at one point. They are free to vote on their own conscience. That was said, publicly, at some point. But is that going to be a reality? You run the risk of getting tossed out of the Party if you do that. I suggest that your responsibility is to your constituents because you are not members of the front benches. You are not members of the Executive Council. You are representing your constituents and you should be here voting in their best interests on issues that affect the people that you are here to represent.

People opposite, who think that is funny, I believe they will get their just rewards in the next election and I am sure they will. Again, before this House rises, I will probably have an opportunity to elaborate a little bit more as to where I see the structure over there starting to crumble and the numbers starting to go down as we move towards the next election. (Interruption)

We may even get some people deciding that there might be a way out of this, Mr. Speaker, to vote for this hoist, because they may be in a transition period of leaving the Tory Party to go to the Canadian Alliance Party anyway. So, if they are going to do that, then they would be free to sit in this House and vote for a bill such as this. If they are going to leave the Tory caucus, I would hope they do that before this is over.

[Page 5372]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I would remind the honourable member he is speaking about the amendment.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: I am just saying that members opposite should have a chance to voice their own opinion and to represent their constituents in voting for the hoist.

MR. SPEAKER: On the amendment.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: That is the point I was trying to make, Mr. Speaker. Again, I welcome your intervention. I think you have been more than fair in the latitude that you have given me. I certainly don't want to trespass on that. My point was that members opposite, who may find themselves out of this caucus in the next few weeks, I am talking about the Tory caucus, they could then exercise the freedom to vote their conscience, which they are not able to do now in terms of this particular hoist.

So I would hope that if members opposite are considering that jump, that they would also consider the people of Nova Scotia and their new-found freedom to vote for their constituents in a matter, instead of being told from the front benches what to do. I believe that you will sleep better if you do that. I believe the people that you represent will think more of sending you back here in the next election instead of turfing you out because of some of these measures. In my eight years in this House, I have seen a lot members were here for a very short time, a lot of them. If you go back eight years before that, there are a lot of different faces here today than there were as short as a year and one-half ago, so remember that.

I want to say to you, Mr. Speaker, that this particular bill is a composite bill of many different measures in here. It is a bill that should be dissected act by act, clause, by clause. It should be stripped apart, it should be taken and brought back to this House in various forms so that the people of Nova Scotia can know what is going on with this bill. So that the people of Nova Scotia can have an opportunity to discuss openly each and every one of these clauses and these tax measures that are included in this bill. I believe that the people of Nova Scotia will be well served if they have an opportunity to do that by the government taking the lead and going to Nova Scotians and explaining this particular piece of legislation. Thank you very much.(Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect. (Applause)

MR WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, and I thank the members for that warm welcome.

I would like to take the next few moments in the House to bring to your attention and to members opposite some concerns which I know over the next six months would be of top priority for Nova Scotians from one end of this province to the other. This miniature P.E.I. phone book - this 100, or is it 98, pages - the member for Cape Breton South referred to it

[Page 5373]

a number of times - 98 pages, 100 clauses. You know, it has a six month assignment in it. I can, for example, turn to Page 49 if I could and you will notice on Page 49 there is a six month assignment in here when I point out to you this fraction: (A x B x C/D) + (E x (C- well, you can read it for yourself, Mr. Speaker. This helps you compute the tax corporations for this province. That is a fraction that I am sure many members opposite and many Nova Scotians would like to have an opportunity to express their opinion on. That tax corporation - I hear the Minister of Finance, I see the Minister of Finance, he has computer in hand, does he? He is going to give us a math lesson? Well, I will tell you honestly, this MLA, that is a six month assignment. That is the sort of assignment that people throughout this province would like to have the time to be able to look at carefully.

I have been provided with a wonderful copy of the Digby Courier, I believe it is called, and the Digby Courier brings a concern which I think would be important during the next six months to people in that particular constituency. The heading is "Agriculture leaders study budget" and this says to me that there are people in the constituency of the good member for Digby who have an expressed interest in the agricultural budget and some of the implications that are in that budget. Now I have heard the good member for Hants East bring out in multiple detail the fact that there are concerns from farmers throughout this province.

Mr. Speaker, this hoist amendment is an important one because it will give an opportunity for Nova Scotians to have their say because they certainly have not had their say directly to the decision makers over the past six months, but during the next six months, that opportunity would be there; 183 days. A lot could be done in 183 days. Over the next six months people from throughout this province would have an opportunity to express their opinion on the various implications of the decisions enclosed in this bill.

I, in fact, would look forward to arranging, let's take a night of the week, Wednesday night, now Wednesday night is a good night in my community for community meetings. There are many community meetings held in my community from the fishing villages to suburbia, over that time. I can assure members opposite that in Timberlea-Prospect, places like the Whites Lake Legion, places like the St. Margarets Arena, during the next six months, there would be people there with questions, people there with points of view, people there who will have things to say to us as MLAs. Mr. Speaker, we have been accused many times as politicians of having too much to say. I think it is important that during the next six months, we have the opportunity as legislators and as the members opposite to listen to people as they are going to express their reservations about some of the implications contained in this bill.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to point out a few of those concerns for you and for members present if I could. In particular, I would like to point to seniors. I have heard the good member for Dartmouth North speak at length about the concerns of seniors and how seniors, some of whom we met the other day in the House, these seniors have to come to us. That is not fair. It seems to me that during the next six months, instead of the seniors coming to this House, we should go to their houses, we should go to their halls, we should go to their

[Page 5374]

communities so we can hear of their opinions on some of the strong things that are contained in this bill that affect them as citizens within this province. Seniors have spoken loud. They do not understand why some of these decisions are being made. During the next six months, these seniors will have an opportunity to express their points of view.

My good friend, the honourable member for Dartmouth North, speaks on behalf of the disabled. There are people in that community who are concerned about some of the implications of the ongoing decisions that are being made for them through this particular piece of legislation. In particular, my friend, the honourable member for Dartmouth North, over the six months he would be a fine spokesman to go into communities where he could point out to government members opposite the fact that that transportation allowance, $18 a month, is of some importance to these people who have in the past had to turn to social services for assistance. That sort of decision and the implications of cutting that $18 a month, it will take the next 183 days, the next six months, so that we will fully understand the implications of having made this poor decision in cutting that from the transportation allowance for people in the Community Services Department.

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Health has had some tough decisions to make. But the Minister of Health on many occasions, I believe, would benefit from hearing from more of the average Nova Scotians who have strong opinions on this topic. I think it would be an advantage to the Minister of Health to hear again from those many citizens who, last fall, expressed their feelings so strongly on 911. Now, paramedics from across this province, I am sure through the next six months, would look forward to the opportunity of pointing out to the Minister of Health, that a fee for 911 is not a good idea. I believe paramedics and average Nova Scotians should have the opportunity to be able to express their opinions on that particular point of debate.

Mr. Speaker, if we look at the Minister of Labour, the Minister of Labour recently, during estimates, discussed with me and other members present some of the new fees that are being brought in. These new fees in my opinion deserve a period of time so that we can look at whether these fees are fair, whether these fees are the sort of things that apply to Nova Scotians that they will fairly be able to accept.

[7:30 p.m.]

The Minister of the Environment during his estimates, Mr. Speaker, also brought up the fact of fees. If you are, for example, building a new home and in my home constituency of Timberlea-Prospect, as members will know, we have one of the fastest growing areas in Eastern Canada, if you come out and travel along Highway No. 103 and you see those many subdivisions there, you will notice that people are putting up new homes. They are, of course, putting in new septic systems and septic fields.

[Page 5375]

Mr. Speaker, this is a topic that a lot people sort of take for granted, but now the Environment Department has decided that they are going to have an added fee there. That fee is going to be put into the hands of private people who are going to make those decisions and not the Environment officials going out any more. I think it would be a real consequence and I know that the people in Hammonds Plains, I know the people in Haliburton Hills, over the next six months would love to have an opportunity, some Wednesday night, to have the Acting Minister of the Environment or, God bless him, the Minister of the Environment himself and his help, when he is able to return to this House, over the next six months to allow someone from the Environment Department and the Acting Environment Minister, or the Minister of the Environment, to meet with the people and go through the implications of having this particular fee.

Mr. Speaker, let's look very carefully at some of the privatization plans. Privatization is a word that is intimidating and threatening to the Public Service of this province. There are public servants across this province who want the opportunity during the next six months, during the next 180-plus days, to have an opportunity to sit and talk and make sure that members opposite are listening so that they can say, show us that it is more efficient to privatize some of the things that have been suggested by this government.

Mr. Speaker, let's look at some of them. Let's look at them, for example, a number of the students that I have had the opportunity to teach work in the local liquor store. It is a career for these young men and women. The word privatization to them says that they are not doing a good job, that somebody on that side has decided that it would be more efficient and less costly if liquor stores were privatized. There are people throughout this province, there are people who work in the Nova Scotia Liquor Commission who want the opportunity over the next six months to express their opinion on the privatization of liquor stores.

Mr. Speaker, I can point to examples; Alberta, for example. I can bring facts to this House that have been provided to me by constituents in Timberlea-Prospect who have very strong opinions on the privatization of liquor stores. Over the next six months the MLAs in this House, the Cabinet Ministers who are making these decisions, would have an opportunity to consult, to listen to Nova Scotians on this contentious issue, but if you want a contentious issue, if you want to talk about the intimidation of the word privatization, I want to tell you, if I may, that Monday morning, 6:00 a.m., I took the opportunity to meet with some, I must say, personally, my highway workers.

The highway workers who operate out of the Beechville base, who provided for years tremendous service in the community in which I have lived and driven, those men and women who have responded to my individual concerns, first as a school teacher and now as the MLA, those people who work in the highway sheds, particularly the Beechville base as I have mentioned, at 6:00 a.m. on Monday morning I sat and listened to their concerns. Now, over the next six months I say to you that every member in this House would benefit from the opportunity to listen to the concerns of these highway workers. These highway workers want

[Page 5376]

proof. They have heard talk about the Minister of Transportation through press releases and discussions in this House saying there is a better way to privatize services. They are looking at four pilot projects. Well, these men and women, over the next six months, would love an opportunity to be able to meet, on an appropriate Wednesday night in the community of Timberlea-Prospect, with the Minister of Transportation. Where the Minister of Transportation can listen to their particular point of view and the fact that privatization and the highway workers union in this province is not the way to go. I have heard from those people, and during the next six months, I know members present would say it would be a welcome opportunity, that these men and women would have a chance to speak to the elected officials about the concerns they have on privatization.

Mr. Speaker, 6:00 a.m. does not come that early - and I know the member from Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley has shown the initiative, I hope, to get out there and listen to those workers - well, then, why don't the members opposite follow his example and say, you know what, that member has shown a good example and over the next six months there would be an opportunity for all those MLAs to meet and listen. That is the key thing, listen to these highway workers and their concerns about privatization.

I have to turn to this topic and I don't want it to turn into a lecture, but it is going to because there is no topic that is nearer and dearer to my heart than education. During the next six months, there will be many, many concerns coming out of some of the decisions that are included in this phone book. I say that with a degree of sarcasm, I refer to, of course, Bill No. 46 and the need for a hoist for the next six months. Mr. Speaker, in September when the young people in the community that I serve, and the young people in the community that you serve, return to school, they will be able to see the results of some of these decisions in education.

Let's start with something that is very important in the education system. How we get them to school and how we safely get them home. Most of our constituencies are served by buses, yet there are many decisions over the next six months where there is going to be tough, budgetary decisions made, and it would be very important that bus drivers have an opportunity to speak to the Minister of Education. It is not all books and learning, we are talking about the fact of safely moving students to and from school, and next September, which will be in five months time, we will be able to see what is the implication of this? You might remember that last fall the new Minister of Education was put in a situation where she had to respond to a problem in my community because there was no safe way to get them to and from the community of Timberlea to the new Ridgecliff Middle School.

Why was there a solution reached? There was a solution reached because to the tribute of that minister, at that time, she listened. She went out into the community that I represent and she saw the problem. That Minister of Education learned first hand from the parents and the children in that community. To her credit, she went out and she realized the problem and from that example I believe that other Cabinet Ministers would benefit over the next six

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months, where they would have the opportunity to listen to the concerns, in this case, of the bus drivers.

There are other people involved in the school system who have a say, not just teachers. Let's talk about some of the parents who have young people in the school system who have special needs. I know that is a difficult topic to bring up without getting emotionally involved, but teaching assistants and the number of teaching assistants that will not be available in September because of some of the decisions that are included in this Financial Measures (2000) Bill. Those teaching assistants are vital in the school system, they are vital because in the school system, which you well know from your experience, we have students who are mainstream, we have children in the classrooms of this province now of all needs. I think it would be very important if members opposite, members of the Liberal Party, some members of my caucus who are not teachers, or the member for Cape Breton Centre, go in for a day as a substitute teacher. I believe that the member for Cape Breton Centre would be an excellent school teacher. He is entertaining. He is humorous. He has real sense of timing.

Mr. Speaker, my good friend from New Waterford will never fully be able to appreciate the opportunity of what it is like in the classroom unless, over the next six months, perhaps this September, he has an opportunity to go into one of the schools in his own community, or one of the schools in my community, where he will have a chance to understand, that in these classes, there are students in wheelchairs, students with severe learning disabilities and that you, as the teacher, don't just teach one lesson any more, you teach a number of lessons.

So let's see members opposite take up the challenge and over the next six months, they walk a mile in the shoes of a particular teacher or a teaching assistant. Certainly, they won't be able to walk a mile in the shoes of a bus driver, because they need all that special training. But I think it is of real importance that members have an opportunity, as the member for Cape Breton Centre would, to understand the pressures that are on the school system because of some of the decisions that are involved in this piece of legislation.

Mr. Speaker, I could tell you, that there would not probably be a hall big enough in my community on that Wednesday night, whether it is in the summer or whether it is next Wednesday night, when I would have an opportunity to invite the Minister of Education or MLAs on the opposite side. I share part of my constituency with the good member for Sackville-Beaverbank. I think the member for Sackville-Beaver Bank would benefit on Monday, maybe Thursday of this week, by going to Madeline Symonds Middle School with me during reading day and, perhaps, as I read from Hangman's Beach, no reflection on the opposite member, I can assure you, but the member for Sackville-Beaver Bank would have an opportunity this Thursday, or maybe next Monday, when he could sit, as members should over the next six months, in the staffroom of Madeline Symonds Middle School and hear from teachers of what they think. Or, better still, to have an opportunity to listen to parents and what they say about their concerns about education.

[Page 5378]

Mr. Speaker, I want to go from education, if I could, because, as you well know, I could speak about education and the concerns over the next six months for the rest of my time allotted this evening. I don't want to do that because there are other members of my community who have other concerns, other concerns that reflect on such issues as the health system. Front-line health workers, nurses, nursing assistants, people who work in our hospitals, whether it is here in metro or other parts of the province, they would love an opportunity to be able to speak clearly to the Minister of Health, to MLAs on all sides of this House, about their concerns with health care.

Mr. Speaker, we have to consult with Nova Scotians. This amendment gives us a perfect opportunity over the next six months to do that, to have an opportunity to let Nova Scotians have their say. No one knows the health system better than nurses. In the short time that I have had to spend in hospitals, I have had more than respect for nurses. I can remember, at one time, having a cornea transplant. Spending that time in the hospital, I gained a greater appreciation of what nurses are all about. Over the next six months, over the next 183 days, I think it would be of some benefit if members present would have the opportunity to sit down and listen to nurses on a one-on-one basis, have an opportunity to sit with them in their staff room, have an opportunity for their point of view to be heard by us, as legislators.

I want you to know, there are many members of the nursing profession who honestly believe that they are not being listened to, that they are not being consulted and that frustration is the sort of thing that we see in the streets out here. It is the sort of thing that we see with demonstrations over the past couple of weeks and it will be the sort of demonstrations that will follow in the future because of other concerns. But those frustrations, I can assure you, would not be so heightened if Nova Scotians had the opportunity over the next six months to be consulted on some of these concerns.

[7:45 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, let's talk about agriculture. I can tell from the background that we shared and the time we had to spend on the Tantramar Marsh although it is not all in the Province of Nova Scotia. There are major concerns from farmers throughout this province. They have expressed those concerns to members on all sides. They have expressed those concerns because of the fact of the cuts in the agricultural industry. For example, and I know the member for Lunenburg West has spoken to me about this, if you look at the Christmas tree industry, cuts that have been made to that industry, those cuts have not been well received by those particular Christmas tree growers. Christmas tree growers want to have an opportunity to express their concerns, to be consulted. Over the next six months, they would have the opportunity to do that because the growing season is fast upon us. Christmas tree growers and farmers of all descriptions will have an opportunity to speak to members to be able to make them understand some of the concerns and implications that are coming out of this piece of legislation.

[Page 5379]

Mr. Speaker, let's move on to a couple of other departments that have expressed concerns either to me personally or concerns that have, of course, been expressed to members of my caucus. I want to point out in particular the concern that comes from labour. What are the implications of occupational health and safety? There are workers throughout this province, unionized workers, workers in the farm business, workers who are concerned about the implication of occupational health and safety regulations. It would be a perfect opportunity at town hall meetings, opportunities to be held across this province where we don't sit here and wait for them to come to us to go into the Red Room to express opinions at the Law Amendments Committee, or to sit in that gallery or to confront members opposite. Instead, we would go to them. We, as legislators show the initiative in, as perhaps as been suggested by the member for Halifax Atlantic and the Leader of my Party, perhaps we can form an all-Party approach. The all-Party approach could be that we could look at the fact that one NDPer, one Liberal, and let's be fair, two Conservative MLAs could break up into teams. We could go out through this province. I would love the opportunity to go to Mabou with the member for Inverness. I would love to hear those people talk about the concerns that they have for that community.

I know I have been in contact in the past, Mr. Speaker, with people from that community about the West Mabou beach and the concern they had about the development there. Those activists in that community, whether it is about the West Mabou beach, whether it is about the cuts to agriculture, it would be a perfect opportunity for me and for members opposite to meet our good friend from Inverness, Charles MacDonald. I am sure that Charlie MacDonald would take that opportunity, the previous member for Inverness if you remember him. Charlie MacDonald would take the opportunity as a spokesman for that community to come out and have his say to those two Tory MLAs and myself and whoever would join me, I hope someone from the Liberal caucus would join me.

That sort of idea is not novel. It is an idea which would show to Nova Scotia that over the next six months, we would have a real opportunity to be able to listen to Nova Scotians. There are three very notable Nova Scotians that I would love to hear from on this piece of legislation. Three Nova Scotians that members opposite should hear from too. I would like to refer to them by name. During my first session in this House, I had the opportunity to get to know the good member for Queens, John Leefe. John Leefe, a respected member of that Party, a respected Cabinet Minister, John Leefe has not had an opportunity to express his opinions on this particular piece of legislation. I would look forward to, if I was part of the team, Mr. Speaker, to go to Liverpool, maybe with the good member for Queens now, and have the opportunity to speak to, and I know that my friend, the member for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour, would love to go to Liverpool to have a chance to listen to John Leefe because John Leefe has something to say over the next six months to these MLAs. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. There is too much noise in the Chamber and it is very hard to hear.

[Page 5380]

MR. ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, being a veteran junior high teacher, there are no distractions and no noise that I cannot talk over.

Let's talk about John Leefe and I think the current member for Queens, Mr. Speaker, would benefit from hearing from John Leefe but, more importantly, I think that there are certain members from Kings County who would benefit immeasurably if they had the opportunity to listen to one of the most respected members of this House, who sat here in Opposition and day after day hammered that Minister of Health, yet has George Moody been consulted? Has George Moody had his opportunity to speak on this issue? If Charlie MacDonald is going to have his say in Mabou, I think that George Moody should have his say somewhere in Kings County.

I would be remiss, Mr. Speaker, if during the next six months we, as an all-Party team, two Tories, one NDP, one Liberal, did not have an opportunity to hear from George Archibald, with his strong opinions on agriculture. I would like to know what Mr. Archibald, that respected member for Kings North, that member who sat in that government at one time with a previous life, I would like to know what George Archibald thinks of these cuts to agriculture because over the next six months we, as MLAs, would have much to benefit from hearing from people such as John Leefe, George Moody and, of course, George Archibald.

Mr. Speaker, I take the member for Digby at his word. The member for Digby has told us he likes to think outside of the box. During the next six months I challenge that member to think outside the box, to take us up on the idea that was brought up by the Leader of my Party, but also to endorse the fact that during the six months that are coming here, during the next 180 days, we can go out and consult with average Nova Scotians, but we can also consult with people such as George Moody, such as John Leefe, and even George Archibald. I know that my good friend, the member for Dartmouth North, would love to be able to hear what Mr. Archibald has to say about agriculture. That sort of consultation is important if we, as legislators, are going to be able to move ahead with this particular piece of legislation.

Mr. Speaker, six months says to me that we would have a wonderful opportunity to be able to listen to Nova Scotians, to consult with Nova Scotians, to make sure that we, as our new legislators, many people opposite are in that situation, they would have a wonderful opportunity to listen to average Nova Scotians about some of the concerns that I have brought to your attention and some of the expertise that is out there.

Mr. Speaker, I want you to know that if we sit here in Halifax and expect that the rest of Nova Scotia is going to be listening to us - instead we must go out of our way during the next six months and consult with them. Let's go out and listen to the Nova Scotians out there who are concerned about some of the things that I have brought to your attention: privatization, concerns that over the next six months we will hear about; cuts in agriculture; fees in the Environment Department; fees in the Labour Department. I know there are Nova Scotians from one end of this province to the other who have concerns.

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We have to continually be ferreting out these issues, Mr. Speaker. Is that the way Nova Scotians expect to gather information when it comes to legislation in this province? That should not be the way it is done. What we will do by doing this, we will have the opportunity to be able to listen to Nova Scotians. They will be able to bring their concerns to us. I want you to know, that this particular website, on many occasions, the number of hits that it receives, the number of inquiries and the information that is brought to my Party and brought to me as an MLA.

Mr. Speaker, for example, I was informed of the fact that $27,000 was spent on coffee in the Department of Education. I want you to know that I didn't ferret that out. That information was given to me. It seems to me that that sort of information, I know there are people throughout this province who would love to be able to ask the Minister of Education, who drinks all the coffee? Over the next six months, that sort of answer should be forthcoming from members opposite.

I would like to remind you that on Thursday, Mr. Speaker, I have a few more moments that will be allocated to me. As I can explain to you, over the next six months, we have various other things that Nova Scotians want to be consulted about, with this phone book. I hope that members opposite, during the time of Opposition Day tomorrow, take me up on this particular math quiz. It is on Page 49 and I know some of them aspire to be the next Minister of Finance. That equation on Page 49, that is an equation that will take six months and that six months could be worked on in Opposition Day tomorrow, because they seldom pay attention to us anyway.

Mr. Speaker, I see that you are wishing me to adjourn debate. I will, on the condition I get my 20 minutes on Thursday. I move that we adjourn debate.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is to adjourn debate on Bill No. 46.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Liberal House Leader.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, tomorrow, the House will sit from 2:00 p.m. until 6:00 p.m. and we will be calling Resolution No. 1722 and, also, Bill No. 38. I move that we now adjourn.

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

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The motion is carried.

We stand adjourned until 2:00 p.m. on Wednesday.

[The House rose at 7:58 p.m.]