Assemblée Législative de la Nouvelle-Écosse

Les travaux de la Chambre ont repris le
21 septembre 2017

Hansard -- Thur., May 11, 2000

First Session

THURSDAY, MAY 11, 2000

TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE
PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS:
Health - Environmental Illness: Treatment Clinic - Support,
Mr. D. Dexter 5481
Educ.: Cuts - Oppose, Ms. Maureen MacDonald 5482
NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 1952, Health - In-Home Support Prog.: Moratorium - Lift,
Mr. Robert Chisholm 5482
Res. 1953, Educ. - Sherwood Pk. Educ. Ctr.: Music Event
(N.A. Classic-Que.C.) - Choir & Band-Success Congrats.,
Mr. Manning MacDonald 5483
Vote - Affirmative 5483
Res. 1954, Sports - Hockey (N.S. Midget Girls Champs): Antigonish -
Congrats., Hon. A. MacIsaac 5484
Vote - Affirmative 5484
Res. 1955, Health - Moratorium: Definition - Remind,
Mr. Robert Chisholm 5484
Res. 1956, GG Caring Cdn. Award: Douglas Rogers (Hfx.) &
Late Jessica Symonds (Bear Pt.) - Congrats., Mr. D. Downe 5485
Vote - Affirmative 5486
Res. 1957, Econ. Dev. - Insurance Brokers Assoc. (N.S.):
Info. Session (MLAs) - Thank, Mr. J. DeWolfe 5486
Vote - Affirmative 5486
Res. 1958, Darrell Dexter MLA - Nova Scotian, Mr. D. Dexter 5487
Res. 1959, Health - QE II: Cuts - Haphazard Condemn, Dr. J. Smith 5487
Res. 1960, Educ. - Reach for the Top (N.S.-P.E.I. 1999-2000):
Cobequid Educ. Ctr. - Success Congrats., Hon. J. Muir 5488
Vote - Affirmative 5489
Res. 1961, PC Party (N.S.) - Tory: Definition - Note, Mr. K. MacAskill 5490
Res. 1962, Transport. & Pub. Wks. (Min.) & NDP (Leadership
Candidates): Road Maps - Provide, Mr. K. MacAskill 5490
Res. 1963, Libercrat Party - Leadership Evaluation: House Seats -
Rearrange, Hon. A. MacIsaac 5490
Res. 1964, CBC - Reg. Broadcasting: Mandate Ensure - Demand (PM),
Ms. E. O'Connell 5491
Vote - Affirmative 5491
Res. 1965, Health - Strait-Richmond Hosp.: Cuts - Enemies (Mins.)
Declare, Mr. M. Samson 5492
Res. 1966, Educ. - Dal. Univ.: Herbert MacRae (Hon. Doctorate) -
Congrats., Hon. J. Muir 5492
Vote - Affirmative 5493
Res. 1967, Health - Acute Care: Cuts - Restore, Mr. R. MacKinnon 5493
Res. 1968, Health - Hospitals: Deficits - Facts Reveal,
Ms. Maureen MacDonald 5494
Res. 1969, Educ. - SMU: Hon. Degrees (12/05/00) -
Recipients Congrats., Mr. W. Gaudet 5495
Vote - Affirmative 5495
Res. 1970, Environ. - Glace Bay: Water Clean - Ensure, Mr. F. Corbett 5495
Res. 1971, PC (N.S.) Agenda - Gov't. (N.S. Lib.) Budget (01/06/99):
Congrats - Folly Demonstrated, Mr. P. MacEwan 5496
Res. 1972, WCB - Injured Workers: Discrimination Illegality -
Recognize, Mr. K. Deveaux 5497
Res. 1973, Health - Cuts: Glace Bay - Impact Condemn, Mr. D. Wilson 5497
Res. 1974, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Privatization: Sign Shop (Truro) -
Target Note, Mr. W. Estabrooks 5498
Res. 1975, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Marine Atl. (N. Sydney):
United Front (C.B. Citizens) - Commend, Mr. B. Boudreau 5499
Vote - Affirmative 5501
Res. 1976, Kings. N. MLA: Announcements - Restricted, Mr. J. Pye 5499
Res. 1977, Commun. Serv. - United Way (C.B.): Ken Haley
(Chairman Fund-raising 2000-01) - Congrats.,
Mr. Manning MacDonald 5500
Vote - Affirmative 5501^
Res. 1978, Volunteerism - E. Hants (Mun.) Award: Aileen Cox -
Congrats., Mr. John MacDonell 5501
Vote - Affirmative 5502
Res. 1979, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Privatization: Rush - Stop,
Mr. J. Holm 5502
Res. 1980, Health - Care: Destruction - Stop, Mr. D. Downe 5503
Res. 1981, Educ. - Cuts: Special Students' Needs - Explain,
Ms. E. O'Connell 5504
Res. 1982, Commun. Serv. - Cuts: Family Violence - Reverse,
Dr. J. Smith 5504
Res. 1983, Educ. - Hfx. Reg. Sch. Bd.: Prog. Assists. -
Lay-Offs Explain, Ms. Maureen MacDonald 5505
Res. 1984, Cole Hbr.-E Passage MLA - Election Campaigns:
Funding - Detail, Mr. K. MacAskill 5506
Res. 1985, Acting Premier - Desk (Premier): Use - Inform, Mr. F. Corbett 5506
Res. 1986, Guys.-Port Hawkesbury MLA - Strait Area: Traffic -
Action, Mr. M. Samson 5507
Res. 1987, Queens MLA - Budget (2000-01): Cuts - Silence Congrats.,
Mr. D. Dexter 5508
Res. 1988, Educ. - Hfx. Reg. Sch. Bd.: Cuts - Teachers' Assist. Help,
Mr. W. Gaudet 5508
Res. 1989, Sports - Cheerleading (N.S. Champs): Auburn High Eagles -
Congrats., Mr. K. Deveaux 5509
Vote - Affirmative 5510
Res. 1990, Educ. - Schools: Cuts - Buses-Unsurprising, Mr. P. MacEwan 5510
Res. 1991, Premier - Barbeque (Post-Election 1999): Impact (2000) -
Clarified, Mr. H. Epstein 5510
Res. 1992, Sports - Skating (Figure) [Prelim. Ladies 'A' N.S. Champs.]:
Shaylene Moore (Glace Bay) - Success Congrats., Mr. D. Wilson 5511
Vote - Affirmative 5511
Res. 1993, Volunteerism - E. Hants (Mun.) Award: Bryan Lynch
(Mt. Uniacke) - Congrats., Mr. John MacDonell 5512
Vote - Affirmative 5512
Res. 1994, Sports - Basketball (N.S. Midget C Champs):
Amherst Body Fit Sonics - Congrats., Hon. E. Fage 5512
Vote - Affirmative 5513
Res. 1995, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - CBRM: Roads Tenders -
Coll Commit, Mr. B. Boudreau 5513
Res. 1996, Health - Care: Progs. - Adequacy Ensure, Mr. J. Pye 5514
Res. 1997, NSRL - Sale: Study - Commission, Mr. H. Epstein 5515
Res. 1998, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Privatization: Workers -
Fairness Ensure, Mr. W. Estabrooks 5515
GOVERNMENT BUSINESS:
PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING:
No. 46, Financial Measures (2000) Act 5516
Amendment [debate resumed] 5516
Mr. W. Estabrooks 5516
Vote - Negative 5525
Hon. R. Russell 5525
Previous Question Put 5525
Mr. D. Downe 5525
Mr. J. MacDonell 5541
Mr. D. Wilson 5555
Adjourned debate 5563
ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS:
No. 701, Health - QE II: Cuts - Nurses, Mr. Robert Chisholm 5563
No. 702, Health - QE II: Cuts - Details, Mr. R. MacLellan 5565
No. 703, Health - QE II: Cuts - Nurses, Mr. D. Dexter 5566
No. 704, Health - QE II: Cuts - Nursing Directors Impact, Dr. J. Smith 5567
No. 705, Health - Cuts: QE II - Nurses, Mr. Robert Chisholm 5568
No. 706, Nat. Res. - Sable Gas: Laurentian Sub-Basin -
Jurisdiction, Mr. R. MacLellan 5570
No. 707, Health - Mira Nursing Home (Truro): Care - Inadequacies,
Mr. D. Dexter 5571
No. 708, Econ. Dev.: Job Losses - Stop, Mr. Manning MacDonald 5572
No. 709, Pet. Dir.: Pt. Tupper Pipeline - Unsafe, Mr. J. Holm 5573
No. 710, Health - QE II: Cuts - Jobs, Dr. J. Smith 5575
No. 711, Educ. - Budget (2000-01): Cuts - Special Needs,
Ms. Maureen MacDonald 5576
No. 712, Exco - Polls: Cost - Justify, Mr. D. Wilson 5577
No. 713, Health - QE II: Cuts - Nurse Managers, Mr. D. Dexter 5578
No. 714, Transport. & Pub. Wks.: Northumb. G&CC - Sale,
Mr. P. MacEwan 5579
GOVERNMENT BUSINESS:
PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING:
No. 46, Financial Measures (2000) Act [debate resumed] 5581
Mr. D. Wilson 5582
Mr. K. Deveaux 5589
Mr. R. MacKinnon 5607
Mr. J. Pye 5620
Adjourned debate 5627
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Fri., May 12th at 9:00 a.m. 5628

[Page 5481]

HALIFAX, THURSDAY, MAY 11, 2000

Fifty-eighth General Assembly

First Session

10:00 A.M.

SPEAKER

Hon. Murray Scott

DEPUTY SPEAKERS

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

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

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 by Nova Scotians to support a full-time treatment clinic for environmental illness in Nova Scotia. The operative clause 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 thereof.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

5481

[Page 5482]

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition from the Havre Boucher Home and School Association containing 448 signatures. 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.

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

NOTICES OF MOTION

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

RESOLUTION NO. 1952

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

Whereas the Health Minister announced on March 1st that his takeover of the In-Home Support Program means that the system would be, "more user-friendly and responsive"; and

Whereas the minister instead placed an indefinite moratorium on any new support such as replacing wheelchairs which are needed to maintain Nova Scotians' health; and

Whereas it is neither user-friendly nor responsive to deprive Nova Scotians of the mobility they need for their personal health and their participation in our community;

Therefore be it resolved that the Health Minister should immediately lift his moratorium on new support from the In-Home Support Program.

Mr. Speaker, I seek waiver of notice.

[Page 5483]

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.

RESOLUTION NO. 1953

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

Whereas members of the Sherwood Park Education Centre band and choir returned Tuesday night from the North American Classic in Quebec City; and

Whereas both the choir and the band received a silver placing; and

Whereas the success of the band and choir prove once again that Sherwood Park Education Centre is an outstanding learning facility with dedicated staff and volunteer resources;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate the students, staff and volunteers of Sherwood Park Education Centre for their successful placing at the prestigious North American Classic music event in Quebec City.

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 Minister of Housing and Municipal Affairs.

[Page 5484]

RESOLUTION NO. 1954

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

Whereas Jan MacDougall, Jillian Grant, Krista Tulkens, Candice Isherwood, Jennifer McLaren, Ashlie MacDonald, Jill Bowie, Taby Harner, MoranLee Sears and Melissa Myers are members of the Antigonish Midget Girls Hockey Team; and

Whereas they combined with teammates Heather MacDonald, Kendra Connors, Melissa Berthiume, Lisa MacDonald and Karen Isenor to win the provincial championship at a tournament held in Baddeck; and

Whereas their skills, finely honed by coaches Brian Jones, Ben Berthiume and Andrew Power, brought glory to the Town and County of Antigonish;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate the players and coaches on winning the championship, and thank the people of Baddeck for their hospitality, and the members of the competing teams for the sportsmanship they displayed.

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 Leader of the New Democratic Party.

RESOLUTION NO. 1955

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: 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 stated yesterday in this House that there is no moratorium on the In-Home Support Program; and

Whereas the minister's officials have stated otherwise; and

[Page 5485]

Whereas either the minister does not know his own department's policy or he is adopting the political lexicon of the rest of this government, that they can make words mean anything they choose;

Therefore be it resolved that this House remind the minister that as the Oxford Dictionary states, a moratorium is a temporary prohibition or suspension of an activity, or, in other words, he should admit that he has cut off the In-Home Support Program for new applicants.

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 Lunenburg West.

RESOLUTION NO. 1956

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

Whereas Douglas Rogers of Halifax and the late Jessica Symonds of Bear Point have been awarded the Governor General's Caring Canadian Award; and

Whereas they are among 67 Canadians to be recognized this year for their volunteer contributions to their respective communities; and

Whereas Mr. Rogers volunteered to such causes as Hope Cottage, the Salvation Army, the Canadian Red Cross, and the late Mrs. Symonds was a fund-raiser for the IWK-Grace, the Canadian Cancer Society, while being a volunteer firefighter;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House extend congratulations to Douglas Rogers and the late Jessica Symonds for their outstanding contribution and well-deserved recognition in the form of the Caring Canadian Award.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 5486]

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Pictou East.

RESOLUTION NO. 1957

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

Whereas the Insurance Brokers Association of Nova Scotia held their annual dinner with MLAs last evening; and

Whereas the Insurance Brokers Association of Nova Scotia is a trade association representing over 80 per cent of the independent property and casualty insurance brokers in Nova Scotia; and

Whereas under Chairman Stewart Hay and President Mike Brien and the eight other members of the board of the directors, the association has over 800 brokers working in 90 brokerages across Nova Scotia;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this Legislature thank the Insurance Brokers Association of Nova Scotia for this information-gathering session and look forward to a continued consultative relationship with the association.

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.

[Page 5487]

The honourable member for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour.

RESOLUTION NO. 1958

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

Whereas I believe the Bluenose is on the back of the dime no matter what the Canadian Mint says; I think the Red Sox and the Bruins should be based in Halifax; Our largest university is pronounced Dal-housie not Dalloosie; and

Whereas Cape Breton is the most beautiful place on the face of the Earth; Anne Murray is from Springhill, not Toronto; Hamm is both a Premier and a sandwich; Dave Harley is General John Cabot Trail; and

Whereas the X-men are the best basketball team in the nation; The Mooseheads deserve the Memorial Cup; Ashley, Natalie, Buddy and Rodney play the fiddle not the violin; Neptune is a theatre not a planet;

Therefore be it resolved that my name is Darrell and I am a Nova Scotian. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

RESOLUTION NO. 1959

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

Whereas management cuts at the QE II Health Sciences Centre means that front-line health care workers will be forced to perform more administrative functions; and

Whereas the lay-offs of the Director of Pastoral Care and the Director of Volunteer Services means even more pressure will be placed on the shoulders of front-line health care workers; and

Whereas these Hamm-handed measures are further indications that the Tory Government has no comprehensive plan for the improvement of the health care system;

[Page 5488]

[10:15 a.m.]

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House condemn the government for its first round of health care cuts as it continues to take a haphazard approach to health care reform.

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 Minister of Health.

RESOLUTION NO. 1960

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 team from the Cobequid Educational Centre in Truro is the 1999-2000 Reach for the Top Champion for Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island; and

Whereas the team members are Jamie Burgess, Matthew Little, Ian Mallov, Grant Pardy, Stephen Tynes, Grant Van Zeumeren, and the coaches are Marian Retson, Diane Powell and Ray Boudreau; and

Whereas the Cobequid Educational Centre finished second in the eight-team round robin, but in the play-off round defeated teams from the Three Oaks, Prince Edward Island; Prince Andrew High School and Horton High School to win the championship;

Therefore be it resolved that all members congratulate the Cobequid Educational Centre Reach for the Top team and its coaches on winning the 1999-2000 Nova Scotia-Prince Edward High School Championship, and wish them every success in the national tournament to be held in Edmonton later this month.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

[Page 5489]

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.

RESOLUTION NO. 1961

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

Whereas the dictionary explains that the word Tory is derived from an Irish word for an outlaw, robber, or bandit; and

Whereas when the word Tory appeared in the English language in 1646, it was used to describe bandits, outlaws, and dispossessed Irish people who subsisted as outlaws; and

Whereas bandits, outlaws and robbers deprive honest citizens of the means they need for such basics of life as food, shelter, education, and health care;

Therefore be it resolved that it must have been an old Scandinavian flimflam artist who burdened the Conservative Party in this province with the name "Tory",

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 Victoria.

[Page 5490]

RESOLUTION NO. 1962

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

Whereas in the first of many NDP leadership debates in Antigonish, one of the candidates stated he did not know where Antigonish was; and

Whereas recent tenders for road and bridge work on the Trans Canada Highway in Victoria County said the repairs would take place on Highway No. 104, but should have said Highway No. 105; and

Whereas another tender listed for Victoria County is actually for work in Inverness County;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House agree to provide free Nova Scotia road maps to the Minister of Transportation as well as all NDP leadership hopefuls so they may be able to find their way around rural Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable Minister for Housing and Municipal Affairs.

RESOLUTION NO. 1963

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

Whereas the experiment to join the Liberal Party and the New Democratic Party into the Libercrat Party is gaining favour with Nova Scotians; and

Whereas the Liberal Party and the New Democratic Party need to get to know one another better; and

[Page 5491]

Whereas there is a need for the leadership candidates to be better evaluated by the founding partners of the Libercrat Party;

Therefore be it resolved that the Committee on Assembly Matters permit the seats of this House to be rearranged so that the benches of the Liberal Party face the benches of the New Democratic Party, thus enabling the founding members of the Libercrat Party to better evaluate their leadership candidates and which would have provided the members of the Liberal Party with a full frontal view of the honourable member for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour as he delivered his patriotic enunciation this morning.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

RESOLUTION NO. 1964

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

Whereas the current CBC corporate plan intends to neuter regional television in Nova Scotia and all of Atlantic Canada; and

Whereas current programs such as 1st Edition and Maritimes Tonight will disappear in the wake of proposed cuts; and

Whereas these cuts spit in the face of the federal Broadcast Act which mandates that CBC programming must reflect Canada's regions to regional audiences;

Therefore be it resolved that this House demand the Prime Minister ensure that CBC heeds its mandate and backs off on its cuts to regional broadcasting.

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.

[Page 5492]

The honourable member for Richmond.

RESOLUTION NO. 1965

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

Whereas $81 million is being removed from the acute care sector, including $27 million from the QE II Health Sciences Centre alone; and

Whereas the impact of these cuts will be felt province-wide as facilities like the Strait-Richmond Hospital are called upon to do more with less; and

Whereas this assault on the acute care sector means that the Strait-Richmond Hospital itself may be in jeopardy as the government marches on, seemingly, to oblivion;

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier, his Minister of Finance, and Minister of Health be declared enemies of those requiring health services in Nova Scotia, especially those served by the Strait-Richmond Hospital.

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 Health.

RESOLUTION NO. 1966

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

Whereas Herbert MacRae, PhD was awarded a doctor of laws degree by Dalhousie University at the convocation of the Nova Scotia Agricultural College on May 5th; and

Whereas Herbert MacRae, Principal of Nova Scotia Agricultural College from 1972 to 1989, received a second honorary degree, the first being awarded by McGill University in 1987; and

[Page 5493]

Whereas Herbert MacRae was named to the Order of Canada in 1992, elected a Fellow of the Agricultural Institute of Canada in 1988, and has also been an outstanding member of the non-academic community;

Therefore be it resolved that all members congratulate Herbert MacRae for being awarded an honorary doctorate by Dalhousie University, and thank him for his outstanding contributions to the field of agriculture both in Nova Scotia and nationally, and to his home community.

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 Cape Breton West.

RESOLUTION NO. 1967

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

Whereas cuts to the QE II will mean bed closures, longer waiting lists, and more staff shortages; and

Whereas the Cape Breton Regional Health Care Complex will be required to do more as a result of the QE II cutbacks; and

Whereas unfortunately the Cape Breton Regional Health Care Complex has also had its budget cut, meaning they will not be able to offer services that will no longer be available at the QE II for Cape Breton residents;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House demand the government restore $81 million to acute care services throughout Nova Scotia, instead of slashing and burning the health care system to its foundation.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for waiver.

[Page 5494]

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

RESOLUTION NO. 1968

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

Whereas the Deputy Minister of Health has informed all regional health boards and major hospitals, in writing, that they can run a deficit this year and carry that deficit into next year; and

Whereas nevertheless the Minister of Health maintains that there will not be hospital deficits; and

Whereas hospital and health board deficits are piling up every day that the minister delays approval of their business plan, hoping to be hidden in his office before the full story becomes known;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Health and the Minister of Finance should tell the whole truth about their own little plan to use hospital deficits as a way of hiding the full picture of health care spending.

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 Clare.

[Page 5495]

RESOLUTION NO. 1969

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

Whereas university administrator Guy Noel, genealogist Terrence Punch, and businessman Bruce Oland will receive honorary degrees from Saint Mary's University on Friday, May 12th; and

Whereas Mr. Noel, Mr. Punch, and Mr. Oland have made significant contributions to the education, historical, and business communities of this province; and

Whereas more than 1,000 students will receive degrees during the two spring convocation ceremonies at the Metro Centre;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Guy Noel, Terrence Punch, and Bruce Oland and all Saint Mary's graduates for their achievements and wish them continued success.

Mr. Speaker, I 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 Cape Breton Centre.

RESOLUTION NO. 1970

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 quality of drinking water in Glace Bay and surrounding areas has been an ongoing issue for the past four or five years; and

[Page 5496]

Whereas it has been announced that drinking water in Glace Bay, Coxheath and Dingwall areas contain a chemical higher than acceptable levels which is linked to bladder cancer; and

Whereas the people of these areas are taxpayers and have the right to clean, safe drinking water;

Therefore be it resolved that this government take the proper environmental measures to ensure that residents of these areas will obtain clean drinking water which, in turn, would make for a healthier lifestyle.

Mr. Speaker, I seek waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Nova.

RESOLUTION NO. 1971

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

Whereas the Tory economic plan for Nova Scotia is to have Halifax-Dartmouth prosperous while the rest of the province can become a national park; and

Whereas the Tory vision for education is to cut it to the bone, reducing or eliminating whatever services may be possible; and

Whereas the Tory blueprint for health is to implement chaos, fire every possible employee, then see what can be done to cut what is remaining;

Therefore be it resolved that the contrast between this Tory agenda and the confident, expansionary budget on which the Liberal Government was defeated in 1999 demonstrates to all the immense folly of that particular decision.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

[Page 5497]

The honourable member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage.

RESOLUTION NO. 1972

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

Whereas injured workers who suffer from chronic pain syndrome deserve compensation for their injury; and

Whereas the Workers' Compensation Act was amended in 1999 to prevent certain workers with chronic pain syndrome from getting compensation; and

Whereas the constitutionality of these amendments is currently being reviewed by the Court of Appeal;

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize that it is illegal to discriminate against injured workers based on when they were injured and the type of disability.

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. 1973

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 Hamm Government is slashing $81 million from the acute health care system with no plan to replace these services with community-based options; and

Whereas despite the obvious, the government has implemented a budget that will adversely affect the Cape Breton Regional Health Care Complex, especially the facility located in Glace Bay; and

[Page 5498]

Whereas a scheduled reduction of emergency services for the summer could become a permanent reduction or shutdown because of the Hamm budget;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House resoundly condemn the government's assault on the health care system as communities, like Glace Bay, suffer the deadly consequences of government incompetence.

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 Timberlea-Prospect.

RESOLUTION NO. 1974

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 Minister of Transportation continues to talk about privatization of parts of the Department of Transportation; and

Whereas one of his favourite targets is the sign shop in Truro; and

Whereas the riding of Truro-Bible Hill continues to suffer with a Tory MLA who has allowed the Colchester County Correctional Centre to be axed, cardiac beds to close at the Colchester Regional Hospital, a significant reduction in funding for the Nova Scotia Agricultural College and no movement towards establishing the long-promised secure treatment facility;

Therefore be it resolved that all Nova Scotians should take note that this is what you get if you get a Tory MLA to represent you and a Cabinet Minister as well.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 5499]

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton The Lakes.

RESOLUTION NO. 1975

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

Whereas a group of concerned Cape Breton citizens have bonded together to form the United Front, dedicated to saving Marine Atlantic in North Sydney; and

Whereas this group is made up of Marine Atlantic employees, municipal politicians and community leaders across Cape Breton; and

Whereas this group was formed to combat an ongoing campaign by Newfoundland politicians to have Marine Atlantic move exclusively to that province, thus eliminating more than 240 jobs at the North Sydney terminal;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House commend the United Front for their outstanding leadership initiatives aimed at saving economic development in Cape Breton.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver of notice.

[10:30 a.m.]

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

RESOLUTION NO. 1976

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

[Page 5500]

Whereas the member for Kings North has been given permission to be out of the House for "good news" announcements in his riding; and

Whereas at the peak of the budget debate, when parents were demanding to speak to him, permission was not granted for him to be absent; and

Whereas it appears that the Tory Whip and the government caucus lacks confidence in the member for Kings North in dealing with difficult situations and trying circumstances;

Therefore be it resolved that the member for Kings North ask the Whip, as well as his colleagues, why they lack faith in his ability to deal with parents and will only allow him to be window dressing on Senator Bernard Boudreau's campaign for buying Nova Scotia votes.

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 South.

RESOLUTION NO. 1977

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

Whereas the United Way of Cape Breton has chosen Ken Haley as its new Chairman for its 2000-01 fund-raising campaign; and

Whereas the United Way contributes to the quality of life in this province through its volunteer programs in our communities; and

Whereas Haley, a lifetime resident of Cape Breton, is committed to helping those in need on the Island through the good works of the United Way;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Ken Haley on his position, while recognizing the contributions of the Cape Breton United Way.

[Page 5501]

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 resolution by the honourable member for Cape Breton The Lakes, if I could just re-read the Therefore be it resolved clause:

"Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House commend the United Front for their outstanding leadership initiatives aimed at saving economic development in Cape Breton."

There was a request for waiver.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Hants East.

RESOLUTION NO. 1978

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

Whereas Nova Scotians are renowned among Canadians for their spirit of volunteerism and nowhere is this more evident than in Hants East; and

Whereas the Municipality of East Hants held a special awards evening for volunteers on April 14th at the Upper Rawdon Community Hall; and

[Page 5502]

Whereas at the meeting the community honoured, among others, Aileen Cox for her unselfish efforts on behalf of the New Horizons Seniors Group in Noel;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate Aileen Cox for her outstanding efforts on behalf of her community.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.

RESOLUTION NO. 1979

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

Whereas Dalton Camp helped Robert Stanfield rebuild the Progressive Conservative Party of Nova Scotia; and

Whereas yesterday, Mr. Camp wrote of Air Canada that "As a frequent flyer for half a century, it seems to me the decline of the airline began with its privatization"; and

Whereas he wrote also that "The cult of private ownership . . . has created a transportation system whose first concern is that of the shareholder and near to last is its concern for its passengers";

Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia Transportation Minister, who shares Dalton Camp's respect for the publicly-owned Air Canada, should stop his own heedless rush towards privatization of Nova Scotia transportation services without regard for the outcomes in terms of cost, service or competition.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 5503]

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Lunenburg West.

RESOLUTION NO. 1980

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

Whereas the Tory Government chopped $17 million to QE II on top of a $10 million operating shortfall already predicted at the QE II for this fiscal year; and

Whereas these kinds of cuts being imposed on various health boards and hospitals cannot be achieved without bed closures, program shutdowns or both; and

Whereas the QE II is important to health care throughout Nova Scotia in that its specialty services take pressure off regional facilities;

Therefore be it resolved that this Tory Government stop its quest to destroy the health care system through an endless series of cuts with no rhyme, no reason and, most alarming of all, no plan.

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 Halifax Fairview.

[Page 5504]

RESOLUTION NO. 1981

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

Whereas in an e-mail to our office, Jackie Clark, a mother of a special needs child, describes her anguish, concern and frustration over cuts to educational program assistants; and

Whereas Jackie states, "my son does not have adequate support at school for things like programming, but if there are cuts to what little services he already receives, his health and safety will be at risk"; and

Whereas she also states, "my son is a happy, social child who enjoys his classmates tremendously, and loves going to school. I shudder to think what is going to happen to him when the government makes cuts to what are already inadequate supports";

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Education explain to Jackie Clark and her son, Michael, why she sees it necessary to sacrifice the well-being and education needs of Michael and those like him.

Mr. Speaker, I seek waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

RESOLUTION NO. 1982

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

Whereas this Tory Government cut the Family Violence Prevention Initiative, which trained thousands of professionals to identify and deal with domestic abuse; and

Whereas the Community Services Minister justified this cut by saying funding to address family violence has been redirected to other initiatives; and

[Page 5505]

Whereas, in fact, funding has been cut for Tearmann House in New Glasgow, an organization that helps women and children leave abusive relationships;

Therefore be it resolved that this Tory Government reverse these cruel funding cuts that are putting women and children in abusive relationships at even greater risk.

Mr. Speaker, I request 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 Halifax Needham.

RESOLUTION NO. 1983

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

Whereas the Minister of Education admitted yesterday that she is sacrificing special needs children in order to balance her budget; and

Whereas we now know that as many as 60 educational program assistants will be laid off by the Halifax Regional School Board; and

Whereas we also know that the system was already short of educational program assistants;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Education explain to Nova Scotians why their government is once again attacking the most vulnerable in our society.

Mr. Speaker, I seek waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

[Page 5506]

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Victoria.

RESOLUTION NO. 1984

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 MLA for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage, and NDP Leadership candidate, hopes to establish a new funding proposal if elected as Leader of the New Democratic Party; and

Whereas legislation already requires full disclosure of political contributions to provincial politicians; and

Whereas surely the member has received some sort of political funding for his two previous campaigns;

Therefore be it resolved that the MLA for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage explain to this House how he has funded his election campaigns.

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 Centre.

RESOLUTION NO. 1985

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

Whereas a coup took place on the Tory front benches while you were gone, Mr. Premier; and

[Page 5507]

Whereas the Minister of Transportation and Public Works tentatively rose as Acting Premier and then was soundly backed by his cohorts; and

Whereas the Acting Premier found your desk to be a great place to put his used glasses and cups;

Therefore be it resolved that the Acting Premier inform the Premier that he has been demoted to nothing more than his personal bus boy, and will you please remove those dirty dishes.

Mr. Speaker, I seek waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Richmond.

RESOLUTION NO. 1986

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: It is hard to follow up on an intelligent comment like that, Mr. Speaker.

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

Whereas the MLA for Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury has been busy travelling to Ottawa to fight for the imaginary Highway No. 107 instead of promoting the interests of his constituents in the Strait area; and

Whereas the Minister of Transportation and Public Works has refused to proceed with the Reeves Street bypass in Port Hawkesbury within five years; and

Whereas this bypass is important to the development of the gypsum mine in Melford, the continued growth of Point Tupper and, above all, the safety of the residents of the Strait area as a result of increased truck traffic;

[Page 5508]

Therefore be it resolved that the MLA for Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury start representing the interests of his constituents by speaking to the Minister of Transportation and Public Works on the traffic troubles in the Strait area.

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-Cole Harbour.

RESOLUTION NO. 1987

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

Whereas in troubled times people look for a leader to guide them to prosperity and security; and

Whereas over the past several weeks the confidence of Nova Scotians has been shaken by the inability of this government to bring forward a single decision that makes sense; and

Whereas all Nova Scotians have witnessed the clownish performance of the Minister of Finance and his troop including the Minister of Education, Minister of Health, and Minister of Agriculture;

Therefore be it resolved that the House acknowledge and congratulate the member for Queens, who by saying nothing at all stands head and shoulders above the Cabinet - a virtual beacon of hope.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice tabled.

The honourable member for Clare.

RESOLUTION NO. 1988

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

[Page 5509]

Whereas despite the Minister of Education's claim that there will be no teacher cutbacks this year; and

Whereas the Halifax Regional School Board announced this week it would have to lay off 60 teacher assistants; and

Whereas the lay-off of teacher assistants will deny special needs students of their education;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Education immediately contact the chairman of the Halifax Regional School Board and make the necessary arrangements to help those 60 teacher assistants employed.

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 Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage.

RESOLUTION NO. 1989

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 Auburn High Eagles cheerleading team won the Metro Region and Capital Regional Championships in cheerleading; and

Whereas this past weekend the Auburn High Eagles also captured the Provincial Championship which was held at their school;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the Auburn High Eagles and their coaches Jill Devries, Kerry MacNamara and Nicole Kielbratowski on winning the Provincial Championship in cheerleading.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

[Page 5510]

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. 1990

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

Whereas the full Tory plan for Education - and Health for that matter - has yet to be revealed; and

Whereas it appears the Tories intend to cut textbooks, teachers, computers, furniture, and the quality of school buildings for starters; and

Whereas the Tories are attacking good quality schools wherever possible, clearly showing their preference for ancient buildings with poor quality air and fungus problems;

Therefore be it resolved that we are not surprised to hear that on school bus services, the Tories plan to eliminate shorter-distance runs, so as to require small children to walk longer distances to attend school as their next contemplated cut.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.

RESOLUTION NO. 1991

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

Whereas after the 1999 election, the newly elected Premier told Nova Scotians to go back to the barbeque and by fall everything would be "well in hand"; and

Whereas "well in hand" seems to mean an education system in chaos; and

[Page 5511]

Whereas "well in hand" also seems to mean extensive cuts to health care funding;

Therefore be it resolved that it has become clear that it is Nova Scotians themselves who are being barbequed by this Premier and his Conservative cohorts.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton East.

RESOLUTION NO. 1992

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

Whereas eight-year-old Shaylene Moore of Glace Bay has been recognized as the top figure skater in this province in the eight-and-younger category; and

Whereas Shaylene, a member of the Glace Bay Figure Skating Club, was a silver medallist in the preliminary Ladies A category at the Nova Scotia championships; and

Whereas Shaylene is one of 12 Cape Bretoners selected to a provincial team, and her selection as Nova Scotia's top skater earns her a nomination for the Canadian Figure Skating Association's skater of the year award;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House extend congratulations to Shaylene Moore for her outstanding achievements in figure skating and wish her every success in the future.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Hants East.

[Page 5512]

[10:45 a.m.]

RESOLUTION NO. 1993

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

Whereas Bryan Lynch was honoured on April 14th by the Municipality of East Hants for his outstanding contributions to the community of Mount Uniacke; and

Whereas Mr. Lynch was instrumental in founding, and now chairs, the Uniacke and District Heritage Appreciation Society; and

Whereas he has been a driving force in many activities, including the establishment of a breakfast program for children at Uniacke District School;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate Bryan Lynch for his unceasing efforts on behalf of his fellow citizens, and hope his shining example will inspire many more to give so unsparingly for the betterment of all of us.

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 Minister of Agriculture and Marketing.

RESOLUTION NO. 1994

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

Whereas the sport of basketball is one of the many ways individuals develop team skills of cooperation, communication and interaction; and

[Page 5513]

Whereas the Body Fit Sonics of Amherst defeated the Amherst Superstore Sonics 61 to 55 to win the Nova Scotia Provincial Midget C Championships; and

Whereas Jason Burke of the Body Fit Sonics was the tournament's most valuable player;

Therefore be it resolved that the House acknowledge the coaches, management and players of the Amherst Body Fit Sonics, and wish them well and continued success.

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 The Lakes.

RESOLUTION NO. 1995

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

Whereas this Tory Government promised a non-partisan process for fixing roads in Nova Scotia; and

Whereas Tuesday, the Minister of Transportation and Public Works announced road tenders across the province; and

Whereas much-needed roadwork in Cape Breton County was ignored, while the Minister of Tourism had tenders called for his own riding;

Therefore be it resolved that this Tory Government stop feathering their own nests and commit to calling tenders for residents in the Cape Breton Regional Municipality.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

[Page 5514]

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. 1996

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

Whereas the Conservative platform promised early action to increase the range of support for seniors and others with health care needs to keep them living in the community; and

Whereas these increased and improved services were to feature newly-established adult day programs; and

Whereas Nova Scotians have discovered that instead of improvements, this government has placed a moratorium on the in-home support program it inherited;

Therefore be it resolved that before Conservative health reform proceeds any further, this government should ensure that new and sufficient in-home, community and continuing care programs are in place with adequate support to meet Nova Scotians' health needs.

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 Chebucto.

[Page 5515]

RESOLUTION NO. 1997

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 Tory Government has commissioned a study of the possibility of selling Nova Scotia Resources Limited; and

Whereas the Public Accounts Committee heard testimony from the Chair of the Board of Nova Scotia Resources Limited that there is no realistic probability that NSRL revenues will be adequate to service its debt; and

Whereas the prospect of a sell-off of NSRL at fire sale prices is not beneficial to the province;

Therefore be it resolved that there be no proposal for whole or partial sale of NSRL until the study that has been commissioned is released to the public for full debate.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect.

RESOLUTION NO. 1998

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

Whereas loyal highway workers have provided valuable service to this province as employees of the Department of Transportation and Public Works; and

Whereas these workers now hear daily of privatization rumours of the essential service of this department; and

Whereas highway workers have requested to be part of the Department of Transportation and Public Works' committee reviewing privatization;

[Page 5516]

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Transportation and Public Works treat their workers with the respect they deserve because of their many years of service.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Justice on an introduction.

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, I would like to introduce to the House a fellow Lunenburger in the east gallery of the House today, Cecila Webb, who is President of the Registered Nurses Association of Nova Scotia and is also the manager of the Veterans Unit at the Fishermen's Memorial Hospital. She is with us here today and I would like the House to give her a warm welcome. (Applause)

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.

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

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect, you have 25 minutes.

MR. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, thank you for allowing me the opportunity to make a few comments again about the importance of the six months and the fact that during the next six months there will be an opportunity for more and more Nova Scotians to be consulted.

[Page 5517]

I just wanted to remind members opposite, I believe I left them with some homework. The teacher in me says, in my earlier comments two days previous, I had mentioned that on Page 49 of the Financial Measures (2000) Act - and I know my good friend, the member for Hants East, handed in his assignment - there is an algebraic equation on that page and I don't have to go through it again, but the Minister of Finance, myself and the member for Hants East fully agree that that algebraic equation alone would take six months to complete. I am just wondering whether other members besides the member for Hants East - and I congratulate him for at least trying - did their homework, Mr. Speaker, to complete that fraction. Incidentally, that is to help Nova Scotians with the computation of tax for corporations; that is a six month assignment, I can assure you.

I just want to bring members back if I could, please, because when I was speaking last time, I was talking about the fact that there were certain prominent Nova Scotians over the next six months who should be consulted. If you remember, Mr. Speaker, some of those suggestions in my opinion were not received with a great deal of proper approval. I see absolutely nothing wrong with taking time during the next six months to consult with people such as John Leefe, George Moody and, of course, my good friend, the member for Dartmouth North, and his agricultural friend, George Archibald. Over the next six months Tories opposite would benefit from the expertise and the wise pearls of wisdom that would be forthcoming from those members who are no longer part of this House.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to take the time of the House to go back over the proposal, just for a moment. I believe that we should take the opportunity for four MLAs - two Progressive Conservatives, a member from the Liberal caucus, a member from our caucus, and over the next six months we can break up into teams of 11 or 12, whatever the math tells me that we can do into 52 - to go around this province over the next six months and have an opportunity not just to hear from prominent ex-MLAs, as I have just mentioned, but to consult with Nova Scotians.

I am going to take a moment, if I may, Mr. Speaker, and say that I would just like to go around this province to some particular locations where, over the next six months, I am sure Nova Scotians would like to meet with one of those teams of four Nova Scotia MLAs. Let's go to northern Nova Scotia, if I could, to Pugwash, the Home of the Thinkers. I know the people in Pugwash would love to have the opportunity to express their opinions on whether there will be continuing tourist bureaus in that wonderful community on the Northumberland coast, and over the next six months the people of Pugwash would have an opportunity to be able to meet with us. We would go to their community so that they would not have to come to this House.

Mr. Speaker, we would go to their house or to their local community hall - and I know there are a number of active service groups in the wonderful community of Pugwash - or, of course, we can actually do some doorknocking. I think it would be a very interesting experience for these four MLAs, if we divide up this team idea which I proposed earlier, and

[Page 5518]

two of us - perhaps a Tory MLA and myself - could go to the doorsteps of people in Pugwash some time over the next six months and have an opportunity to ask them, what do you think of some of the things that are included in this proposed piece of legislation?

There are other communities up there I know, Mr. Speaker - Oxford, Joggins, River Hebert - and then there is the wonderful home of the Springhill Fencebusters, Springhill, Nova Scotia. I know that there are people in that community who would love to have an opportunity to speak out and be consulted about some of the concerns that they have with this piece of legislation. I know the people in Springhill would like to know because of the connection that I had in that community with my father working the Dorchester Penitentiary system and, of course, the many penitentiary workers who work and live in Springhill. I know that they would like to be consulted as to whether their courthouse is actually going to stay or whether it has just received a stay of execution.

Do you know, Mr. Speaker, I have received, as I am sure many MLAs have received, a copy of a letter which comes from Doug Wyllie who is the President of the Wild Blueberry Producers Association of Nova Scotia and, of course, Mr. Wyllie is from Springhill. Mr. Wyllie says in this letter - and I will table it for members who are interested - I am just going to quote this one quick sentence, "The extension specialist . . . and disease specialist are all expected to be terminated shortly." The Wild Blueberry Producers Association of Nova Scotia, whose President is at a Springhill address, I am sure that Mr. Wyllie would look forward to the opportunity to have an occasion to be consulted about these disastrous cuts to the blueberry industry in northern Nova Scotia.

If we come a little bit further down the road, Mr. Speaker, we are going to come to Glenholme. I believe that Glenholme, one of the most interesting places to visit in northern Nova Scotia, has been neglected for a number of years, mainly because of that toll highway, but we won't go there. Over the next six months, those people in Glenholme, they have a question that they would like to be answer and that is, will they be completely forgotten as a tourist route through northern Nova Scotia and what exactly is the fate of or will they continue to have a tourist bureau in that community?

Now you can't take a tour of northern Nova Scotia, with four MLAs, without stopping in Truro. Mr. Speaker, this morning I had the opportunity to read a resolution. Truro-Bible Hill has an MLA who has concerns all around him. This morning I read a resolution about the privatization of the sign shop which, of course, is something that the men and women who work in that sign shop for the Department of Transportation and Public Works, are tremendously concerned about. The people of Truro, over the next six months, would love to be consulted about such issues as the cardiac beds as the Colchester Regional Hospital, the funding to the Nova Scotia Agricultural College and, of course, what is exactly the fate of the Colchester County Correctional Centre?

[Page 5519]

Those are the concerns of the people of Truro and I don't think we can just stop in and have one community meeting in Truro. I think with those sorts of issues that the people of Nova Scotia and the people of Truro, over the next six months, would love to be consulted about all those issues because Truro, as you well know, is an active, vibrant community. They want their say. They would like to have an opportunity to be consulted on those issues and others because we, as MLAs, have to go to Truro and not just expect them to come here.

Of course, in northern Nova Scotia and for a stop by this tour of touring MLAs, we would have to go to the beautiful Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley to stop into the Centennial Theatre. I know at that time, Mr. Speaker, I hope at that time, that the good member from that constituency would be present so that we could consult those people in that constituency about the disastrous agricultural cuts that have taken place across this province. I am sure that on that evening that we go into that community over the next six months, on an appropriate date, I am sure that that theatre in Middle Musquodoboit would be crammed with Nova Scotians who would want to be consulted about the agricultural cuts and would have the opportunity to be able to express those to an all-Party forum about their concerns.

Mr. Speaker, I can go to the Annapolis Valley and take tours of areas in Kings County and we have been reading petitions in here where I know the Whip is not allowing these MLAs to attend these events but I do know that if any part of this province is concerned about agricultural cuts, it is in the Annapolis Valley. Nova Scotians deserve the opportunity over the next six months to be consulted on these issues.

I want to stop in Digby on this tour, Mr. Speaker, and I believe that it would be an important place for us, as MLAs to be able to stop. (Interruption) I know my good friend, the member for Dartmouth North, if he was one of these teams of four MLAs. I have heard from highway workers in that part of the province who are concerned about these privatization rumours. The good member for Digby-Annapolis provided me the other day with a copy of the Digby Courier. I love reading those papers, but you will see that over the next six months those local newspapers, such as the Digby Courier, they will announce to that community that there are MLAs who are coming to that community at some time over the next six months to be consulted on what they think of this particular piece of legislation.

[11:00 a.m.]

Of course, we can't go to that end of the province, and I know I am missing a few important areas, without going to Yarmouth. I have stood in this House over the last couple of days and I have read petitions from people, from students, from teachers, parents that we have had to introduce in this House because apparently the MLA from Yarmouth will not sign those petitions to present them in this House.

[Page 5520]

There are teachers, there are bus drivers, custodians in the Town of Yarmouth, in the County of Yarmouth that want to have the opportunity over the next six months to be able to express their concerns about this legislation and the concerns that they have that they want to be consulted over the next six months. The Yarmouth Vanguard, I am sure, will put appropriate ads, it would be a wonderful opportunity to show Nova Scotians that we aren't just sitting here on Hollis Street, that we will go out and listen to Nova Scotians. This particular forum would be a wonderful way to do it.

As I come back up the South Shore I don't want to miss any communities, but I want to have the opportunity to go to the wonderful community of Lockeport, the Home of the Green Wave. I met those young kids out here when the Green Wave arrived here. There are people in Lockeport who, over the next six months, want to have the opportunity to express to all members, not just their member, but to all members about the concern that they have about the fate of their high school and the long bus drive that they are facing with the closure of that high school. The people of Lockeport deserve that opportunity. If we take the next six months with that opportunity to go to Nova Scotians then I know the people of Lockeport, I know the students who have had the opportunity to play for the Green Wave teams out of Lockeport, they would love the opportunity to be able to express their opinions about some of these disastrous cuts and what is going to happen to their wonderful high school.

We can't go through Christmas tree country, we can't go through the capital of Christmas tree country without stopping - and I know the people in Lunenburg County, they have a concern. What is happening to the jail, what is happening to the courthouse? There are many people in that county who are concerned about the Christmas tree industry and the disastrous cuts of those two experts that have always been available to this multimillion dollar industry. Over the next six months, those people in Lunenburg, those Christmas tree growers, they would have an opportunity to express to myself, if I happened to be the one who was on that team of four MLAs to visit Lunenburg, and to allow them to have their say.

I am not going to stop in metro at this stage because on my tour I want to leave that last because at times, as we all well know, it seems as though government revolves around the HRM. In rural Nova Scotia, people outside of metro are concerned about the fact that they are not being consulted. Let's make sure that over the next six months, we give them this opportunity by allowing this.

Let's go to Sheet Harbour. Active Lions Club in Sheet Harbour. I guarantee you that if we held a public forum about this legislation in Sheet Harbour, we would fill that Lions Club. We would fill that Lions Club because the people in Sheet Harbour, they want to know about some of the decisions that they have heard. The privatization, perhaps of some tourist destinations. What is happening to courthouses and jails? The people who live up the shore, on the Eastern Shore, they want an opportunity over the next six months to be able to express their opinion.

[Page 5521]

I am going to miss Port Hawkesbury because of the fact that I know that the MLA has to go there on numerous occasions to deal with issues himself. I know the MLA from Richmond will be valuable during the next six months, but we have to make a number of stops in Cape Breton. There is no divisive problem in this province in the shameful way that government side over there during the last July summer election divided this province.

I would think it would be a wonderful opportunity for MLAs from that Party and from all Parties to take the opportunity to go to Mabou and to listen to the people in Mabou, actually clarify, is that agricultural centre staying open? Is it only going to be for 4-H? Are they going to have the opportunity to actually have advice in the wonderful community of Mabou? Or, more importantly, we could go to Victoria County. There are people who use Englishtown ferry regularly, and those people want the opportunity over the next six months to be able to express their concern about the increase in the ferry rates. Ferry rates in this province have gone from $1.75 to $3.00; another fee, another increase. Were Nova Scotians consulted? I don't think the people who use the Englishtown ferry were consulted for sure.

Now, we could spend many long evenings in Cape Breton, and I think it would be excellent job for those members opposite to have the opportunity to go to Glace Bay and listen to the people of Glace Bay about the concerns they have; to go to New Waterford and listen to the concerns. Over the next six months, where we will have an opportunity to do this, to listen to the concerns that Cape Breton feels they have been forgotten. They have been forgotten because of the divisive policies of this government. What better way to mend political fences, and I assure you, Mr. Speaker, it will take six months.

It will take six months and more before there would be an open and warm reception for any of these members opposite. But I am willing, and I know my good friend for Dartmouth North, and I am sure my friend for Cape Breton West, we would take two Tories and we would go and do some door knocking in New Waterford. We would do some door knocking over this next six months, so we would have an opportunity not just to speak to Cape Bretoners about their concerns about Devco or Sysco, but to listen to them; to actually listen to Cape Bretoners about their concerns. It would take six months alone in Cape Breton to make sure that members opposite, members of my Party, and the members of the Liberals Party would have an opportunity to listen to the people of Cape Breton.

I don't want to forget Isle Madame. I had the opportunity, Mr. Speaker, as a school principal to visit that wonderful high school, but over the next six months there are people who live in that community, and people who live Clare, people who live in Argyle, they would like it clarified, what exactly is the status of Acadian education across this province? That is an issue that the people of Isle Madame would love to, over the next six months, have an opportunity to be able to put some tough questions to decision makers opposite, to be able to talk to us as legislators to make sure we are actually listening to Nova Scotians and not just standing in our place and talking and talking and talking.

[Page 5522]

I am coming back to metro last, Mr. Speaker, because I have major concerns, for example, in Dartmouth North; I have concerns about Halifax Needham. Do you know that in those two constituencies alone, I believe there are seven or eight major senior residences, and seniors across this province, they can't all come to our gallery; they can't demonstrate outside. But it would be a wonderful opportunity if we - four MLAs, two Tories, one Liberal, one NDP - go into those seniors' residences and we sit down with them and have a cup of tea and listen to them. I would hope that our friend for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley would be part of my team, because I want him to explain why there are not free fishing licences and why, more particularly, the co-pay increases for Seniors' Pharmacare have increased again.

Mr. Speaker, over the next six months we would have an opportunity to go into Halifax Needham, to go to Dartmouth North, go to the seniors' residences and actually be able to listen to these wonderful Nova Scotians and the concerns they have about this legislation that we have been asked to rush through this House. That six months is important. We have to be able to consult with seniors; we have to make sure they have their say with us and that they understand fully the implications of this legislation before us.

Mr. Speaker, I am going to take my final few moments, if I may, and take you to Timberlea-Prospect - you knew, eventually, I'd end up back there - and I can tell you that in Timberlea-Prospect there are many, many Nova Scotians who have concerns. I said that I can rent out the St. Margaret's Arena, and I would take that cost and I am sure that my Lions Club would take that cost. We would rent out the St. Margaret's Arena one Wednesday; we would rent out the Timberlea Lions Den the next Wednesday; and I would rent out the Whites Lake Legion on the following Wednesday. Over that six month period, I can assure you that there would be full houses in the St. Margaret's Arena, and there would be full houses in the Whites Lake Legion, because they have concerns about this piece of legislation. Over the next six months, they would have an opportunity to express those concerns. So let's look at a couple of them that have been brought to my attention.

Mr. Speaker, this morning, I had the wonderful opportunity to go to Madeline Symonds Middle School, where I read from Hangman's Beach to this class. I read to them in their library. Are you aware of the fact that the library tech positions across the HRM are going to be cut? There are young people, students, parents, teachers who want to have the opportunity to be able to express to us as MLAs what an unfortunate decision that is. The people who attend Madeline Symonds, those young students, they count heavily upon that library tech and it seems to me that over the next six months I am sure that parents who are served by Madeline Symonds Middle School would have the opportunity to come forward and speak to us as MLAs at that time.

Now, Mr. Speaker, I want to also take you to Beechville. Legendary community, founded back in the early 1800's. Beechville is the home of the Beechville Transportation base. Privatization has these loyal workers concerned. Over the next six months these men

[Page 5523]

and women who work for the Department of Transportation would have the opportunity to be able to express these concerns.

Mr. Speaker, you heard me say many times that I begin my day by stopping into the local coffee shop and grabbing my fix for the day and I always run into some paramedics. The paramedics are concerned about the 911 fee. I am sure that you would agree that we need to hear from these paramedics about this concern, about another fee for Nova Scotians, that they were not consulted about. I can assure you that over the next six months they would have the opportunity as paramedics, as average Nova Scotians, to attend the meeting at the Timberlea Lions Den, to attend a meeting at the St. Margaret's Arena or the Whites Lake Legion and be able to ask one of these MLAs or to be able to ask one of the Liberal MLAs or myself exactly why would this fee be brought in. That's the sort of consultation that we would be able to do over the next six months and I look forward to the opportunity to be able to do it.

I wanted to mention to you, Mr. Speaker, that I, of course, have many contacts in the school system. I have an old friend by the name of Ronnie Harrie, he is from Terence Bay. Ronnie Harrie is a custodian who wants an opportunity to ask legislators why are these really ridiculous cuts being made to these important positions. Custodians, school secretaries, bus drivers, they have many questions, and when Nova Scotians have questions, we should make ourselves available to them. We make ourselves available to them by going out and knocking on their doors, by coming to their doorstep and coming to Ronnie Harrie's doorstep and saying, Mr. Harrie, what do you think of this particular piece of legislation? Or better still, provide for them in our communities to have a community meeting in some of the halls that I had mentioned where they can come forward and express their points of view.

Mr. Speaker, that's why we were elected. We weren't elected to come here and hide. We weren't elected here to have the Party Whip tell us, oh, we can't go to that over the next six months. I spoke to my Party Whip and I said, I am going to Madeline Symonds Middle School on Thursday, May 11th, Mr. Dexter and I would like to go. He didn't say to me, oh, no, no, don't you go there, you might not have the opportunity over the next six months to hear from them. That's why we were elected, so that we can take the time and we can take the opportunity to get out there and listen to Nova Scotians. Over the next six months, we would have the opportunity to do this.

I think, whether it is seniors from Halifax Needham, whether it is people from Mabou about their concerns about the agricultural office, whether it is the people of Truro-Bible Hill and their numerous concerns, I want you to know, Mr. Speaker, that over the next six months the people that we really should have the opportunity to listen to are high school students. Now, I know this is a familiar time and tone for me, but I would encourage the minister and I would encourage members present to go over the next six months into their local high school and if members opposite are invited to their graduations, because I know there are some principals who do not want some MLAs at their graduation, I hope they just don't talk,

[Page 5524]

I hope they listen over the next six months. Thank you, Mr. Speaker, and I thank you for your time.

MR. SPEAKER: I believe those are all the speakers on the motion. If I could read the motion, "That Bill No. 46, the Financial Measures (2000) Act, be not now be read a second time but that it be read a second time this day six months hence."

A recorded vote has been called for.

Ring the bells to the satisfaction of the Whips. Would the honourable member have an idea of how long? For approximately five or six minutes we will ring the bells.

[11:15 a.m.]

[The Division bells were rung.]

MR. SPEAKER: Are the Whips satisfied?

Everyone is aware of the motion that is before the House, a recorded vote has been called for.

[The Clerk calls the roll.]

[11:24 a.m.]

YEAS NAYS

Mr. MacAskill Mr. Christie

Dr. Smith Mr. Baker

Mr. Downe Mr. Russell

Mr. Manning MacDonald Dr. Hamm

Mr. Holm Mr. LeBlanc

Mr. Robert Chisholm Miss Purves

Ms. O'Connell Mr. Fage

Ms. Maureen MacDonald Mr. Balser

Mr. Corbett Mr. Parent

Mr. Epstein Ms. McGrath

Mr. Estabrooks Mr. Ronald Chisholm

Mr. Deveaux Mr. Olive

Mr. Dexter Mr. Rodney MacDonald

Mr. MacEwan Mr. MacIsaac

Mr. Gaudet Mr. DeWolfe

Mr. MacKinnon Mr. Taylor

[Page 5525]

Mr. Samson Mr. Dooks

Mr. Boudreau Mr. Langille

Mr. Wilson Mr. Morse

Mr. Pye Mrs. Baillie

Mr. John MacDonell Mr. Carey

Mr. Morash

Mr. Chipman

Mr. Barnet

Mr. O'Donnell

Mr. Hurlburt

THE CLERK: For, 21. Against, 26.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is defeated.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I am about to move the previous question. I move that the question be now put. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: There is a motion that the question be now put. The debate will now continue.

MR. PAUL MACEWAN: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. My recollection is that that motion on being introduced does not mean the vote on the bill is actually held immediately, but rather that the debate on second reading continues through to conclusion.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I did say that the debate will now continue. I call the next speaker.

The honourable member for Lunenburg West.

MR. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to be able to stand here today to talk about the Financial Measures (2000) Bill. It is my pleasure to see so many people in this room, wanting to stay to listen to the concerns about the Financial Measures (2000) Bill. (Interruptions) I want to get this in, there are some aspects of this Financial Measures (2000) Bill that are reasonable; there are some aspects of this particular bill that have some merit, that I would want to support, but there are also some areas of this bill, many more than good, that I have to bring to the forefront and explain to this House why I have some major concerns.

This government, without question, should be absolutely ashamed of the budget, for one, that they brought forward; shamed to the extent that they brought forward a budget that Nova Scotians have yet to ferret out; a budget that Nova Scotians have yet to understand the

[Page 5526]

implication; a budget that yet the workers, whether they are in Education, or in Health, or in Natural Resources, or in Agriculture, or in any other department, understand what their futures will be; a budget that it was not clear in any detail as to what the future will be for departments, for structure, for health care and for education; and for that, in my view, this government should be ashamed of the fact that they brought this budget forward.

We have heard this government talk about financial ruin and, of course, they know all too well, being the authors of financial ruin in this province under the Buchanan Government, the financial ruin that they have created in this province, but they also talk about economic disaster. I find that ironic and fitting that this Progressive Conservative Government back in 1993 had no economic plan. In fact, the economy was in free fall: companies were leaving; major corporations were shutting down and moving away; bankruptcy was up; housing starts were flat; and the list goes on.

[11:30 a.m.]

They have been in power, Mr. Speaker, for about nine months and, today, we hear of another, 850, jobs at the call centre, gone, left Halifax, being spread around to other parts of Canada. A few weeks ago we heard the Royal Bank call centre was moving out, going to Ontario or Quebec. We have seen housing starts in this province down dramatically in the last report that came out. We are seeing indicators out there that would show that this government does not have an economic solution and does not have an economic plan. People are starting to lose some confidence.

The offshore was a great stimulant to economic development in Nova Scotia and there were a lot of other things that have happened in Nova Scotia. In the HRM area, there has been a lot of pluses. But it is almost like the rest of Nova Scotia is just falling by the wayside. That is a concern of this side of the House, and it should be a concern of the government side of the House. There is nothing, in reality, in this Financial Measures (2000) Bill that really brings to the forefront the ability to be able to create wealth in this province.

What we are seeing is a demise in many ways, the beginning of the undermining of economic opportunity in this province. We are seeing it because this government said they had all the answers to all the problems. I know the member for Guysborough County is riveted in this debate, because he knows all too well what Guysborough would have been without the offshore, and he knows all too well as he drives from that great community across to Halifax, he sees the concerns other people in rural Nova Scotia have about what is going to happen because this government doesn't have a plan of how they are going to move forward in building economic opportunities.

We hear the rhetoric of self-reliance in building the ability for compliance and growth. Yet we see nothing in this budget that would promote anything of the sort. In fact, this budget as we see it today has just gutted agriculture, one of the economic drivers in the Province of

[Page 5527]

Nova Scotia. We have seen this budget in the Department of Natural Resources take out two of the Christmas tree specialists in the Province of Nova Scotia. A $30 million to $40 million industry, 95 to 99 per cent of it is all exported to the United States and around the world. In Lunenburg County the balsam fir Christmas tree capital of the world, and yet we have no specialists to help the industry market and grow and make sure we have a healthy crop.

I talked to some Christmas tree people on Monday. They said, Don, south of the border with an area similar to ours and production about the same as ours, they have 30, 40, 50 specialists helping them out. We had two in Nova Scotia, and now, we have none. That is what this budget does. It tears away the ability of industry to be able to grow and create wealth that in turn will bring revenue to the province which in turn grows the economic opportunities of this province.

What we heard during the election campaign is that the government was going to snip away at some administrative fat. Well, I don't think the two Christmas tree specialists were fat in the system. I don't think the people in the Production Technology Division of the Department of Agriculture were fat in the system. I don't think when you take away about half the budget of Economic Development means you have corrected the fat in that facility. When you start doing things to education such as P-12 cuts, I can assure you, Mr. Speaker, that you might not see economically the downward spiral today, but I can assure you that this province is on a road that would mean a massive downward spiral in economic opportunity as well as social responsibility.

This government, when it has the responsibility to look after the health and well-being of Nova Scotians is now bringing forward a budget that basically says, we are going to cut massively in the acute care delivery system without any true understanding of the impact, not only in the HRM area, but throughout all of Nova Scotia. We talk about the QE II, a great facility, it is kind of a catchment facility for all of Nova Scotia and beyond, and they have to find some $27 million out of that system and $27 million is a lot of money.

The impact is even more so when you start realizing that every other region in the province, rural Nova Scotia. has been cut dramatically as well. I will give you an example of the western end of the province; $12.5 million cut. I think the Minister of Health would agree with those numbers now, that the $12.5 million hit in the western end in the province is a massive hit. I think the Minister of Health would agree that now that we are going to be doing some major readjustments at the QE II, to the extent of some $27 million, bed closures, staff reductions and you can get rid of the administration, but you still have problems internally and being able to deliver the health care delivery system at the QE II, that problem is going to be even greater in the western region. For example, a $12.5 million cut is going to put more pressure on those hospitals and they will have less ability to bring them into the Halifax area.

[Page 5528]

This points out to me that this government is basically saying to Nova Scotians, the strong will survive, the healthy will prosper, but my gosh if you are sick and you are in trouble you better take a number, and hopefully, your number is not too far down the list because if it is, you could be in serious trouble.

This is a government that went on a campaign saying we want to get rid of the red tape in government. So what did they do? They are going to hire the red tape adjudicator, the red tape bureaucracy is going to be set up to control red tape in government. I agree with cutting red tape in government and duplication and everything else. I agree with them in their concept because that was a Liberal concept as well. We didn't have to hire staff to do that, we didn't set up another bureaucracy to do that, we asked people in the private sector if they would come and help us review the number of bills and Acts and things that we do to make it simpler. Mr. Peter O'Brien gave up his time, free of charge, to help eliminate some of the duplication and red tape in government. We didn't have to go and build a bureaucracy to do it and neither does this government. They could have simply said to Nova Scotians, how can we streamline and deal with industries that are dealing on a department by department basis. and I am sure they could have found a way to resolve that problem. But, no, they want to set up some sort of team, red tape experts. I think what it really is is a blue coat payback for people who they want to have hired, to do what they want to do internally. I think it is no more, no less.

There are people in the private sector who would love to come in and give advice to this government on how to make things run smoother, simpler and more cost-effectively. (Interruption) Pardon me? The Minister of Health made some comment about visiting me, in fact, I was the minister responsible who brought in Peter O'Brien, that brought in the ability that said that we need to cut red tape, and that individual was brought in to the departments and we went through legislation by legislation. Much of it was so Draconian that the former Tory Government didn't even understand what they had in there. It actually came out with some real legitimate cuts to the red tape in the Province of Nova Scotia and we did it without even costing the taxpayers one cent. That is what we did.

Now the good, the Minister of Health, understands that is the right way to go, but instead, what do they do? They are going to hire a bureaucracy to do that. That is absolutely bizarre. Nevertheless, that is what we got when the NDP said yes to the Tories to be the Government of Nova Scotia (Interruption) Their job creation.

The Government of Nova Scotia is in an uphill battle. Well, the government says that we have to deal with the repatriation of foreign debt. Again, being the fair person I am, I agree with them. I agree with them that they are moving in the right direction, after all, it was the Liberal Government that started Nova Scotia down that road of recovery toward limiting foreign exposure. I congratulate the Minister of Finance for continuing down that road of recovery, because it was the Liberal Government that started that initiative. I remember all too well, back in 1993, when the Conservative Government was taken out of power in Nova

[Page 5529]

Scotia, foreign exposure in this province, I believe, was around 72 per cent and growing. Totally unacceptable, and even the Premier, who is nodding his head, would agree that those numbers were bad for this province.

We agree with the government in the direction that they need to go in regard to repatriating our foreign exposure, and the level that it appears to be moving toward is about 20 per cent. We could no longer afford to borrow money from other countries, playing Russian roulette on foreign exchange. One only has to take a look at the Canadian dollar and how it has fluctuated over the last short period of time, in the last year or two, to realize the impact that has on our ability to pay on debt servicing on foreign exposure. When the Minister of Finance began speaking of limiting Nova Scotia's foreign exposure, we agreed because, as we indicated before, we started that process. I am pleased with the government's intent, and we wish that they would continue.

There is one unfortunate part of this, the government is only going half-way to their commitment. When the government set out in its legislation that there will be a section to deal with foreign exposure, they set a very realistic and credible target, the 20 per cent range. Clause 52(a), this is an acceptable level of exposure, but there is a problem with the way they have gone at it. The government says that they cannot finance or refinance using any foreign debt until the province's totally foreign debt exposure is at 20 percent. In the next breath, the government says foreign investment is okay, as long as that money is fully hedged.

What are we going to be doing? Do they want us to invest in foreign markets or not? The minister knows all too well that a fully-hedged financial transaction, although it has diversified out the exchange rate, still consists of foreign content. The Minister of Finance understands this very well. This flies in the face of the government wanting to get out from under the thumb of foreign banks. Does the minister have no confidence in the Canadian banking system, that it has to find ways to allow the province to finance its debt in other countries? Or is the minister going to say, well, maybe we can get a better rate, and so if we hedge that rate, we might be able to save a few pennies. I have heard Progressive Conservative Governments say that before, and we ended up with some 72 per cent exposure rate.

Why will the minister not give this legislation some teeth, and require that all debt financing be in Canadian funds until our foreign exposure has met the target that he and I would both agree with, and that is 20 per cent. I will be glad when we get to that 20 per cent range, and, in fact, I noted in the budget, the numbers had gone down. The reason much of that has gone down is because the Canadian currency has gone up, and now it has gone back down again. I don't know what the ratio would be, but I am sure the Minister of Finance would be able to explain that to us as we go forward.

I would like to hear the Minister of Finance explain if indeed his government is serious about reducing foreign exposure. I should refer to this document I take it from now on.

[Page 5530]

AN HON. MEMBER: No.

[11:45 a.m.]

MR. DOWNE: No? The question is, we were asked to vote on the Financial Measures (2000) Bill as a block, and over the last number of weeks that we have been in this Legislature there has been demonstration upon demonstration, upon demonstration. The government front benches and backbenches have been harassed, have been called, have been probably cussed at, you name it they probably had it, and it is only beginning because Nova Scotians a few months ago believed what they said and now they realize what they said then and what they are doing now are two different stories; maybe what it is, is that they are starting to realize these kind of covert wordings that they use.

Less government. Well, everybody would agree that there should be less government, but when you talk about less government you don't talk about the total demise of the ability to be able to provide program delivery for agriculture. When you talk about less government you are not talking about just a little bit of fat in the system, but the potential of undermining the educational system from Primary to Grade 12. When they talked about slowing down the growth of government, Nova Scotians were not really thinking that meant bed closures and a health care system that cannot provide quality health care to Nova Scotians; in fact I believe that Nova Scotians trusted the Premier. I believe Nova Scotians trusted what this Premier said about $46 million fixing this whole problem. We don't need to spend any more money in health care; we have spent enough. Do you remember hearing him say that?

AN HON. MEMBER: Absolutely.

MR. DOWNE: We spent enough money in health care. We don't need to spend any more; in fact, $46 million that can be found in the fat in the system will fix our health care delivery. I am sure the Premier, today, wishes he never ever, said that to Nova Scotians. I believe the Premier, today, wishes he never promised that he could do that for Nova Scotians. I think, today, the Premier wished he had not promised many of the things he said about health care, because the realization to Nova Scotians is that he misled us. Either he did not know, or he knew and he did not want to tell the whole story.

I know one thing - and I have said to the members opposite before and I will say it again - you don't have a plan for health and you think you are going to be able to fix it by what you are bringing forward today, which nobody understands the full implication, including the government itself. I see a member over there shaking his head, and I noticed he was limping as he was walking in the door. I don't know if he hurt himself, or if he tripped over somebody out in the back room or what happened . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: A ferret bit him.

[Page 5531]

MR. DOWNE: A ferret bit him?

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: Was that a weasel? Which weasel would that be?

MR. DOWNE: The Minister of Justice is trying to get personal now, talking about his colleagues, the weasels and the ferrets.

The member over there is shaking his head and I ask the member if he would explain to me and to all Nova Scotians what the budget will mean in the western end of Nova Scotia, as we speak right now, for Health. I would ask the member to tell us, he is shaking his head that he knew all the answers to this? I can tell the member opposite - maybe he was not paying attention, maybe when he was walking in, limping, he was hurting and he was not paying attention to this debate - one thing, that the western board are only bringing in their numbers to health on Monday, with a plan. In fact, I understand every area of this province is going to be bringing the numbers Monday to this Health Department to determine where we are going to go.

I am sure that the Minister of Health and the Minister of Finance and the Premier of this province and whoever the Deputy Premier is and all the other frontbenchers are saying, for Heaven's sake, Minister of Health don't tell anybody what those numbers are going to mean to health care, don't tell anybody how many bed closures we are going to have, don't tell anybody how many people we are going to let go. They are just hanging on saying, we have to get out of this House, because if we don't get out of this House in a hurry, the Minister of Health says, I am going to start looking like the Minister of Education and she got beat up for the last three weeks, they let her hang out there to dry for a while and now the good Minister of Health might have a turn to hang out to dry for a while. But they don't want anybody to know what really is going on. I see the Minister of Education is probably relieved by the fact that it is somebody else who is going to take a turn at the front line.

We are forced to vote on a budget that we don't know, have no idea what this is going to mean to our constituents, to our seniors, to our children and to all Nova Scotians. When we look back, seeing this from where we sit, all we see is a government that is out of control. A government that is simply listening to the Murray Coolicans of the world that say, pick a number. There are no help lines with this number but pick a number and whatever that number is, you tell everybody to meet it. I don't care how much blood is on the floor, I don't care how many children are affected, I don't care how many have special needs that will not be looked after, I don't care how many services that we provide for challenged children and children with problems, I don't care about that. I don't care about the fact that the economic opportunities of this province are being thrown away, because us guys, here, can do it.

Well, the government will realize that government is more than a target number. I support the ability to find a targeted number but I also support a balanced approach of fiscal responsibility, economic growth and social responsibility. The Minister of Finance, I am sure,

[Page 5532]

realizes as a Nova Scotian this is not an oxymoron, this is not a dichotomy, this is nothing too complex. You can have all three in one if you are prepared to be a little open about the reality of how to fix this problem. We have done that and the Minister of Finance knows that since 1993 that bar was raised.

HON. NEIL LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. I find this debate very unusual because this is the same minister who said that there was a balance and we could do that but when the same books that he was the Minister of Finance on when they were put into Generally Accepted Accounting Principles had a deficit of approximately $500 million, so I find it amazing that the honourable member is standing up today and saying the same words that he just spoke a few minutes ago.

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

MR. DOWNE: The Minister of Finance gets up on a so-called point of order just to make a point. Well, I want to make a point to that Tory front bench over there how that Buchanan Government bastardized the economic opportunity of this province. How that government over there ruined the opportunities of our children. That Minister of Finance sat at that Cabinet Table when this province's debt went from $500 million since Confederation to in excess of $7 billion. In fact, I have asked the Minister of Finance if he had the guts or the willingness to readjust the numbers based on a full consolidation of debts in 1993 to realize what the reality of the debt of the Province of Nova Scotia really was when we took over from him.

What the operating deficit really was, it was in excess of $1 billion and he knows it. NSRL had a $0.5 billion worth of debt, his government created NSRL not us. Sysco had a debt, we didn't create the Sysco debt, they had a chance to deal with it and they never dealt with it. I mean the list goes on and on and on. He threw that all on the balance sheet. The poor old Minister of Finance is now weaselling his way back because he knows all too well and that minister over there knows it when he was a Cabinet Minister under the Buchanan era that he, himself, voted in favour of destroying many of the stabilities that this province had, economically, fiscally and socially and his hand print was all over it.

Do you know what they are trying to do now? They are like repenting their sins. They feel that the great repenter, the person that they are bowing to, is the great individual, the right-wing Americanized agenda or whatever they want to call it, that there is only thing they have to do, and that is to appease Murray Coolican, because that will bring stability back.

Any day the minister wants to sit back and really discuss this, I think the minister would know that when you change accounting procedures which I, in our government, had recommended be done, he knows all too well, as a person who is not an accountant but he understands finances or accounting procedures. I respect that. But, he knows all too well what is going on. He has to stand up there and make these kinds of comments because he is

[Page 5533]

afraid to be totally honest about the reality to Nova Scotians. So as we watch this Hamm-wannabe-Harris Government, or should I say this Hamm-wannabe-Klein Government (Interruption) then maybe we can start seeing where their agenda really is.

The DOT&PW wants to reduce its employees by 30 per cent. There was not too much consultation, but 30 per cent privatization of the Department of Transportation, and this is a government that went around rural Nova Scotia, I remember it well, the Minister of Justice bragging about all the things they are going to do for rural Nova Scotia. I remember it well and all the other individuals who are over there. Well, we have seen the benefit of those promises in spades, whether forestry or agriculture, resource sectors, cuts to rural programs. Then they took away the elevators and stuff like that for people in rural Nova Scotia who needed help to get into buildings. Well, the Minister of Labour, saw the error, brought it back in and top-loaded it. Here we go. I think what this government is going to start realizing is that after they go down this journey for a little while without a plan that they are going to have to backtrack a little bit on other departments as well, simply because they don't know what the impact will be.

This Financial Measures (2000) Bill also talks about user fees. This is that right-wing government that says they don't want to increase taxes, but they are going to get into your pocket one way or the other. The first way they figured out, they schemed out, they thought through, was to have a user fee: use it, you pay for it. So they brought on the onslaught of programs, whether you get a driver's license as a 16 year old or you are going to start paying more for Pharmacare, ambulance, types of casts they provide in hospitals - basically, starting towards some people's concern, and that is of a privatization of a health care delivery system. I know this government would never have been that silly or stupid to do that. But you never know, because it is the same government that said for $46 million, they will fix the health care system. So you never know.

Now they also want to go on about how they are going to go after privatizing resorts. That is fine, but I remember asking the Minister of Finance, before you start all this sort of stuff, have you done any kind of economic analysis, a cost-benefit analysis? We won't even bring in the issue of how it affects people or children or seniors or the sick. We won't even ask that question because I didn't want to confuse him, I just wanted a simple answer to a question, have you done any kind of any economic analysis, cost-benefit analysis of the changes that you are making? Whether it is the restructuring of government or the user fee program, you name it, the list goes on. The answer was no, I have not done an economic analysis. I couldn't believe it. So, I asked him the question, did you do an economic analysis with education? I figured for sure they would have done that and much to my surprise the answer was no, I am sorry we did not do that.

[Page 5534]

[12:00 p.m.]

So, I said, the Premier, being a country physician, above all understands the importance of health care. I asked the minister, did you do a cost-benefit analysis of the changes in health care that you are talking about? As he bent his head down further, he replied, no, no, did not do that. Yet, they want Nova Scotians to simply trust them. They want us to simply vote for whatever they bring forward. And they are surprised - why would you ever question us? If you are a CEO of the Southwest Regional School Board and you question us, we fire you, or we will let you go, or we will do something to you, or, if you are a health board and you make a noise, we will just shut you down, we will let you go.

All of a sudden they have to deal with the Opposition. They have to start realizing that they just can't say, go away. They have to answer those questions. We haven't got too many answers because as the Premier said, very appropriately, ferret it out. We have been ferreting out some stuff and I only hope that by August we will have the rest of it ferreted out because this Legislature should sit at least that long just to make sure we understand what this budget is all about. (Interruptions) Don't you think? Is there a little ferret over there? Eileen, did you bring your ferret? Oh, there is the ferret. It is the people's ferret. (Interruptions)

There is one area of the budget that I found intriguing and interesting and I thought it wasn't all that bad in the legislation. I am going to say some good stuff, yeah, I think it is only fair. I think the Minister of Justice never did much of that when he was in Opposition, but the odd time when he did it, I appreciated it because it showed that he was a little open. Boy, did he ever change when he got on the government side. He got baptized and immersed in some sort of new formula, but I think it is not bad when a department has to come forward to the Legislature when they run a deficit. They have to come back to the House and explain why they went wrong. It takes the heat off the Minister of Finance because now it is not his problem, although he used to blame the other Finance Minister; whenever there was an overrun in the department, he blamed the Minister of Finance before.

He is kind of slick this way. He simply said, instead of me answering the questions, I am going to get the Minister of Justice to stand up and justify why he is in deficit, and I am going to get the Minister of Education to explain why they are in deficit when they had to fix a roof or fix some environmental problems in schools and she hasn't got any money. She is the one who is going to be out front. The Minister of Education is being the one out front, taking the heat while the Minister of Finance is sitting back saying, I did my part.

The Minister of Health is going to have to go out and explain why they have not been able to live within their means. The Minister of Finance sits back and says, I did my job. Those are the sacrificial lambs that have to come forward to explain the circumstances that are there, unless, in this bill, they talk about the issue of natural disasters.

[Page 5535]

MR. JOHN HOLM: Well they are natural disasters, the government, speaking of natural disasters.

MR. DOWNE: John, I am just setting these things up. I am supposed to come out with it. If you will just be quiet for a minute, I am getting there. (Interruptions)

So the Minister of Finance has found a way to deal with a lot of issues. Maybe this issue of natural disasters, which is actually what we had in our legislation as well, maybe he thinks natural disaster, and I was going to throw in some other things but now that it has already been said I'll have to look for another one, but maybe he thinks it is the Minister of Health's inability to manage that department, he is calling him a natural disaster. Maybe that is how he is trying to get around it. Anyway, I don't know. (Interruptions) Exactly, maybe that is what he meant by that.

Nevertheless, the government goes on to say there will be no new money and when they overspend their budget they will have to come back and repent to this House, and the following year they will have to take that much money back out of their current budget to show they have lived within their means.

Now it is going to be interesting when you start thinking about this. Let's deal with just two little departments; Health and Education. Now let's take a look at health care. Here it is May, by the time we get through with this debating this bill, it will be somewhere around July, if we hurry. Maybe by then the minister will have a business plan for Health. So instead of trying to find $80 million or $90 million, all of a sudden the minister has one-quarter of the year used up and he is going to have to find even more money to make it work. That is all right. Now maybe he has to find maybe $120 million because he doesn't have 12 months to spread it out.

What happens next year when he runs a deficit, he then has to take that back out of the health care system, as well as the reductions they are talking about putting into the system. This sounds very good, but at the end of the day this Minister of Finance has divorced himself from his responsibility to oversee the expenditures of government and put it all on the front line of the minister so they will be the sacrificial lambs.

The other area which I think is interesting in this Financial Measures (2000) Act, is where it talks about balanced budget provisions with a balanced budget. He says that the balanced budget provisions do not take effect, I believe until the year 2002-03 fiscal year. I think I remember the Premier saying during the election that we would have a balanced budget in the year 2001-02.

Now we are at the four year term. That being aside, the reality is that the minister says they are going to have a balanced in 2002-03. But what if he doesn't? What if the Minister of Finance doesn't have a balanced budget in 2002-03? Does that mean all the backbenchers

[Page 5536]

have to resign because they supported this government and voted on this bill? Does this mean that the Premier would have to resign, that he couldn't do what he said he could do? Does it mean that the Minister of Health, the Minister of Education or the Finance Minister would have to resign? We don't know what the penalty is. There is no penalty outlined in this particular piece of legislation.

AN HON. MEMBER: Recall.

MR. DOWNE: Well, I don't even know if they would recall this group. They might just get a new crowd altogether. Cost too much to fix it up. I don't think they would do it. Maybe what the Minister of Finance can do in the next Financial Measures (2000) Bill that he would bring in, is state that he would resign if they do not have a balanced budget in the year 2002-2003. Maybe the minister would say, I will leave, go away and resign if I cannot do what I say I can do.

Well, I don't know. We will have to wait and see. Now, the legislation also points out, in an area I consider somewhat ironic. Legislation contains a section dealing with how departments and government agencies report on their fiscal decision making. (Interruption) Excuse me, Mr. Speaker, I have been asked a question. How long do I have left?

MR. SPEAKER: The member has 17 minutes left.

MR. DOWNE: I barely got started, actually. (Interruption) See, the government members know, it seems like forever, because they feel so guilty, and even the Opposition, even the wannabe government.

MR. SPEAKER: Order.

HON. NEIL LEBLANC: On a point of order, I want to ensure all members who are listening to this debate, the member opposite was saying that the government member (Interruption) The honourable member is saying that government members interrupted his debate. They are actually members from other Parties on this side. So clarify your comments so the viewers will know what is going on. Very good point, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Yes. Thank you. Order. I don't think that was a point of order. (Interruption)

MR. DOWNE: We got the Minister of Finance who can't even ask the question. I think maybe he is tired today, but one member that was over on the government side is really a member of the New Democratic Party lobbying for more cuts to his riding I am sure, but there were other members there in agreement. Anyway, what a crowd to deal with. Unbelievable.

[Page 5537]

The legislation says that these reports, budgets and figures will have to be rational, fair, efficient, credible, transparent and accountable. The ironic part is this budget is none of the above. It is not credible because one minute we have the Minister of Education saying the numbers, then they change them and they change them. Then they inject money that they don't even know where it is coming from and how much it is and what the impact is going to be. We don't know what the impacts are going to be in regard to credibility of health or transparency. We don't know what the full implication of this budget will be. Accountability, we don't know where that is, and the list goes on. No wonder the Premier told the Opposition that it is your task to ferret out the information.

Even the government backbenchers who are just now starting to learn what this budget is all about, wish that their front benches - you know, it must be frustrating for them. They have to sit there and keep their chairs warm while the front bench does its thing. They have to go home and take the heat for the fact that the people are saying, my gosh, you guys. You don't have a plan for education. You don't know where you are going. You don't know where you are going in health care. You have all this stuff going on. Everybody is upset. You have destroyed agriculture. You cut out stuff in forestry.

These poor backbenchers never even had a voice in this process. They might have been given some indication, a general indication, but I am sure the guys from Kings County and Annapolis County would have said - and if they wouldn't say it I would ask them to stand up and say that - but I bet you they would have said, Minister of Agriculture, don't cut production and technology. I bet you they would have said that. I would hope they would have said that because they are all from farming communities. They probably would have, but they never were given a chance. Now they have to go home and defend this budget with no plan. They have to go home and defend this Financial Measures (2000) Bill. They barely know themselves what is in it.

They asked us to vote last week on a budget and the government benches all voted in favour of the budget. They voted in favour of a budget that had no hard facts. They voted in favour of a budget that they don't know yet what the implication will be to their area, to their people, to their families and to their community. They voted yes in favour of a budget in which they had no real input and they said yes to a budget that could very well be the demise of their political careers.

[12:15 p.m.]

Either they are becoming brain-dead over there or they are going to start getting upset because I think Nova Scotians are going to get a little upset when they start understanding what is going on in health care. I think these guys over here are going to start worrying and perspiring. The member for Dartmouth South who was limping as he was coming in here, I hope he is better now. I hope he is all right because seriously, I would hate to see anybody hurt, but . . .

[Page 5538]

MR. TIMOTHY OLIVE: A bad knee.

MR. DOWNE: . . . he has a bad knee. That is probably because he has been on his knees praying and begging for forgiveness for voting for this budget. That is probably why he hurt his knee.

MR. OLIVE: I was praying, but not for that.

MR. DOWNE: He was probably praying. I am glad he prays because he is going to be praying an awful lot over the next little while with regard to this budget. This budget is so bad I have written a letter to the Auditor General and asked him to, please, review the process, review exactly how this budget was done and whether or not this government can learn from the mistakes of the past. I have asked him for a ruling on it. He has indicated he will be doing that and he is going to be presenting his views on that when he gives his overall report. I will look with interest if he thinks the particular way this budget was handled was the right way; in other words, that we know what we are voting on. I don't think we do.

The poor Minister of Education had no idea. I think the poor Minister of Education maybe was set up. I don't know by who, but every day she came in here and said 400, no teacher lay-offs, you know, the song 400, no more than 400, and it was not until the Minister of Finance injected millions of dollars and wrote off millions of dollars of debt that she could actually live up to that comment.

The students of Nova Scotia knew she was wrong. The parents knew she was wrong. The educators knew she was wrong. The administrators knew she was wrong. It was not until the Minister of Finance injected new money into that system that the minister herself knew she was wrong. I bet you guys over there feel bad for her. Maybe you guys gave her the wrong information but, nevertheless, she took a lot of heat and if it was not for the Minister of Finance pulling the rabbit out of the proverbial hat, out of his $88 million slush fund, she still would be saying the same thing.

The Minister of Health, he is probably going to have sore knees like the member for Dartmouth South because I am sure he is on his hands and knees now asking the Minister of Finance if he can have his share of the $88 million slush fund because as they start firing people at the QE II, as I speak, he knows that this problem is going to get a lot worse. I think on Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday, when they brief the minister, he is going to have a real clear idea, because he has a pretty good idea now, what the impact will be, but he is going to have a real clear idea and I think you guys in the backbenches should wake up to this because in a few days the Minister of Health will know how many beds are going to be closed in your ridings. He is going to be able to tell you which hospitals are going to be shut down. There might be a façade of a hospital, but no real structural hospital left in your ridings.

[Page 5539]

The Minister of Health will know how many nurse shortfalls they are going to have and he is going to know how many people in different areas are going to be transferred around to shuffle the decks of cards and how many impacts that is going to have in Shelburne, Guysborough County, Kings County and Annapolis County. He is going to know that in a few days.

AN HON. MEMBER: What about Kings North?

MR. DOWNE: Kings North, he is part of Kings County, he can figure that out, he can ask the questions.

I think you should ask the Minister of Health. I think you should ask the Minister of Education a couple of questions some day when you are in caucus. Madam Minister, you know the budgets now, you know how many are going to be affected, you know how many term people are going to come back, you know how many buses are going to be shut down, roughly speaking, you know how many special needs children are not going to get the extra assistance. She has a pretty good idea of those numbers right now.

I think you guys over there should ask the question, minister, what does this mean to me? Maybe you can do what the Minister of Tourism does, he stands up in his community and says, this agricultural office will not close and, if it does, I will close my own. Maybe the member from Guysborough County or the member from Shelburne County, the members from Kings County and Annapolis County should stand up and say, these hospital beds will not close or I will close my office. When they do that, we will undoubtedly have an election because there will be nobody left on the government side of the House, unless of course you are a Cabinet Minister and you have some drag to be able to make things happen.

We had a bone densitometer brought into the riding of the Minister of Justice and I never gloated over that. It went to a hospital that it deserved to be brought into. That is the way it should be done. On the other hand, we brought in a new CAT Scanner, the community went out and raised money for years to make that happen. It was under the former Minister of Health, Dr. Jim Smith, who announced the program. So when the Minister of Health goes down to open up the facility, I didn't get an invitation to say would you like to come and speak about this, as the member for your constituency. No way.

The Minister of Agriculture and Natural Resources, when I was in his riding doing something with environment, I invited him to get his picture in the paper and if he wanted to talk; a little respect for other people. I would hope that the Minister of Transportation and Public Works, who has been around for a long time, knows that when he goes to a riding the least he could do is show a little respect for the communities. (Interruption) We will teach him where Highway No. 105 is, someday. I think what we should do is put him on a hitch-hiking tour of Nova Scotia. He should hitch-hike around Nova Scotia.

[Page 5540]

AN HON. MEMBER: That is not safe.

MR. DOWNE: Oh, it would be safe because we would have a yield sign on him. He would have a hard hat and everything. We would deck him up, they would know who it is.

The flagship QE II is a tremendous hospital that impacts and benefits all of rural Nova Scotia. I have friends who are in that hospital now. With these cuts, I don't know what impact it is going to have. The Minister of Health knows and someday he will tell me. He is probably waiting until the House closes because he doesn't want to say it now. There is another question that needs to be asked. The few backbenchers back there who are listening to this conversation, I think you should be asking what impact that will have in Queens County. A hospital the whole community believes in; a hospital that the member for Queens knows is a bit of an icon of the community that fought so hard for many years to retain that hospital facility. Maybe that facility is not going to be there in Queens County the same way it currently is, in the future, because of the cuts to the QE II. What about Lunenburg County? What about New Waterford? What about Yarmouth? We don't know what is going to happen there either.

Mr. Speaker, I have two minutes left. I am on Page 7 of a 30 page speech. I wish I could have more time. I don't know if my colleagues beside us would want me to continue in their hour, because there is so much more I would like to get into.

AN HON. MEMBER: We will let you have another chance.

ANOTHER HON. MEMBER: We will allow you to have another opportunity.

MR. DOWNE: Well, between now and July or August, we will have a chance to speak about this again.

I might say there were some attempts to do some good things in this Financial Measures (2000) Bill. I will give them that, but there is a tremendous amount that is absolutely wrong. It has been misleading at best. They themselves realize they are making the game rules up as they play the game. But you know it is not a game. It is people, it is communities, and it is this province's future.

I don't know if they really understood that, and I don't think they really understand that yet. When they do, I think they will sit back and reflect on this debate and say we could have done that smarter, we could have done that better. We could have consulted with nurses; we could have consulted with doctors; we could have consulted with teachers and administrators; and we could have consulted more with the farm community and others and maybe come up with a plan that would have been workable, one I would have liked to be able to support, but I cannot support the Financial Measures (2000) Bill as it is today.

[Page 5541]

In closing, Mr. Speaker, . . .

MR. SPEAKER: You are closed.

MR. DOWNE: I am closed? Well, thank you very much. I appreciate the opportunity and having the attention of the members opposite for my presentation and comments on the Financial Measures (2000) Bill.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth North on an introduction.

MR. JERRY PYE: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the member for Hants East for allowing me to have this opportunity for an introduction. In the west gallery, there is Charlotte Rogers with the Postal Service of the Province of Nova Scotia, and Mr. Wayne Sitland who is on an NSGEU bargaining team for the NSGEU employees. I also want to recognize that Mr. Wayne Sitland is a friend of Tim Olive and David Hendsbee too. I should hope we will give them a full round of applause. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants East.

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, I am glad to have an opportunity to rise and speak to the Financial Measures (2000) Bill. Before I get under way, I want to acknowledge the member for Lunenburg West and not just the comments he just completed, but also to note that the other day when we finished the budget estimates, the Liberal caucus gave up some of their time actually so that I could speak, I think, and partly due to the time the minister used on behalf of the member for Lunenburg West. I want to let them know and the House know that I appreciated that action. It gave me an opportunity, to conclude, that I hadn't had.

Mr. Speaker, I guess in the two years I have been representing my constituency, it certainly goes without saying that there has been no curve in my learning curve for trying to understand the actual financial situation of the province and to figure out the direction both governments have gone in trying to account for what they do, and to use legislation to represent their vision for what they intend to do for Nova Scotians.

[12:30 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, I think it is important to note that it really doesn't matter what you say as a politician, it matters what you do as a politician. Legislation is actually where the rubber hits the road. This is when we get away from campaign promises. This is when we get away from the rhetoric that we spout when we are in our constituencies, this is when an agenda actually comes forward by a government in the form of their legislation. These pieces of legislation become law, and they are no longer a window into what the government is thinking, they are actual bills that allow a government to do exactly what it wants or intends.

[Page 5542]

It is pointless for governments to say that wasn't what I meant when they bring out a piece of legislation, because the legislation is an indication of exactly what their intention was.

I think the Financial Measures (2000) Bill that we debate is certainly all of what the members opposite have set as a direction for this province. They are certainly letting Nova Scotians know where they stand on a number of issues. I am curious, because I recognize in the Financial Measures (2000) Bill the ability of the government to impose a number of user fees for different areas of government that consumers would have to use, but I don't understand why, in the Financial Measures (2000) Bill, we haven't taken advantage of any opportunity to try to increase revenues and try to lessen the burden on Nova Scotians.

I listened to the Minister of Health when he was on his feet at one point in the House, and I think it was he who said Nova Scotians are not interested in paying more taxes. I would agree that they are not. It hasn't seemed to occur to the government that they are probably not interested in paying more user fees either. They are interested in getting appropriate service for their dollar, and they haven't been getting that. Actually, since 1993, the taxpayers of Nova Scotia have absorbed a large number of cuts. Through the 1990's, for a part of the country that has 3 per cent of the population, we absorbed 16 per cent of federal cuts, in Nova Scotia. That impact on the Nova Scotia economy has been devastating.

One of the major things we have done is cut programs. Those programs help to stimulate the economy to a point, and especially stimulate an economy at a time when there was a downturn in the economy. Nova Scotia had received a double whammy, a cut in programs plus a downturn in the economy, and nothing used to stimulate that economy. I think for politicians, it is an easy sell to say that we have to cut, cut, cut, but I think for Nova Scotians, this is a sell that they have heard before. They were willing to buy it once, but I don't think they are willing to buy it twice, especially if we consider the disastrous effect that the Liberal cuts have had in this province. If we look at the extra $6 billion they added to the debt at a time when we were going through these cutbacks, it doesn't make any sense to Nova Scotians. They would have to question whether or not there is any real benefit to them, every day, for their families in going through this process, and I say there is not.

We have to ask, is there a benefit to being prudent? Is there a benefit in trying to live within your means? Certainly. I hear the members quite often say, if we had the dollars that we use to service our debt, then think of what we could do in this province. Well, I agree, but we don't have those dollars and we don't really have the dollars to actually start wearing away at the debt. What we can do is get our fiscal house in order so that we are not running deficits every year. That should be relatively simple for this government to do.

The government has indicated in their budget that we have a $760 million deficit, but a large percentage of that deficit, actually over half of it, is one-time costs; Sysco liabilities, Y2K costs, election and severance costs, a first year mandate implementation cost, older fisheries workers' adjustment, restructuring - that we thought was in the $16 million range

[Page 5543]

has become around $88 million which has been currently referred to as the slush fund of about $60 million - drought relief programs and economic development commitments, somewhere in the range of $470 million.

This leaves a deficit for the province in the range of $300 million. Several other factors that have contributed to the 1999-2000 projected deficit may not have as negative an impact in future years. The budgeted $65 million loss for Nova Scotia Resources Limited was reduced in the third quarter forecast to $32 million and should continue to lower next year because of revenues from the Sable Offshore Energy Project, in which Nova Scotia Resources Limited holds an 8 per cent share. The $31.8 million operating cost of Sydney Steel will not occur if the government proceeds with its plan to close the steel mill. Foreign exchange losses are a moving target and could come in lower if the Canadian dollar continues the upward trend it has been on for the past several months. Finally, in projecting a large deficit for 1999-2000, the Finance Minister ignored or underestimated potential revenue, allocated recoveries worth $20.1 million in 1997-98 and $14.1 million in 1998-99 simply disappear from calculations from the 1999-2000 budget.

Prior years' adjustments added $75.9 million to provincial coffers in 1997-98 and $106 million in 1998-99 and the budget for 1999-2000 ignores long-standing advice from the Auditor General to include an estimate of prior years' adjustments in the budget. The Tory Government has brought in accounting practices that put the debt for Nova Scotia Resources Limited and the schools and the hospital boards on the books for the province which are in line with normal or best accounting practices as we know them and we welcomed this. It was something that all three Parties were committed to doing and we see that the Tory Government has done this and we think this is a good thing, but we would also say that it is not in the best interests of Nova Scotians to show the worst possible side, at least show the full picture and include any estimates and revenues as well. That hasn't been done.

However, in projections released on March 3, 2000, the minister estimated that the prior year's adjustment will have a positive impact of only $17.3 million. Deficit projections for 1999-2000 have consistently underestimated revenues and October 1999 revenues were projected to increase $72 million over 1998-99, the second quarter update released December 22, 1999 project a further increase of $45.5 million. An update issued March 3, 2000 added another $96 million to revenue estimates, a total revenue improvement of $140 million in less than five months.

A number of other cost factors that contributed to the current deficit may well decline next year and potential sources of revenue have been ignored or underestimated. HST transitional assistance which contributed over $50 million this year will run out next year but that decline will at least partly be offset by an increase in CHST announced in the February federal budget.

[Page 5544]

Mr. Speaker, clearly the forecast deficit of $767 million for this year does not mean that without drastic cuts the same result can be expected for next year; far from it. Removing the one-time cost alone would reduce the deficit of this year to $300 million, as I have said earlier, and different assumptions about revenue growth and losses by Sysco and NSRL could bring the deficit for next year down even further.

The question has to be, do you throw out the baby with the bathwater? Are we willing to cut to the point where we reduce services to Nova Scotians that have long-term implications as to moving the province forward economically and socially? In the last day or so, when we listened to the Minister of Education and we heard her numbers as far as her cuts in her department, the school boards had argued that her numbers weren't correct and we have learned that the school boards were right. Now we are learning that even to deal with the numbers that the minister was willing to adjust to try to ease the burden on school boards, there are those most vulnerable people in the school system who are actually going to be targeted worse and they are going to lose resources that they will need to help get them through the system.

There are long-term costs and actually that is maybe one of the worst problems with politics, Mr. Speaker, the fact that we have elections every three and one-half, four or five years, depending on when the government feels it is appropriate to seek a new mandate from the electorate and they usually will use whatever indications from the public would say that they are in favour or that the government curries favour with the public and therefore this is the time to go. If the government could establish a long-term plan, I think they would realize that if they could grow the economy in relation to its debt, therefore they would have more dollars available to them to try to secure programs that actually help people further themselves and, in the long run, reduce costs to government in the future.

The more we impact on the most vulnerable in society, the more we cause hardship for people, the more we keep people in low income or in poverty, then the more costs we incur in the future in the health care system, in community services and in the judiciary. If the government wants to take a long-term view of helping Nova Scotians, Mr. Speaker, then they should look at whether or not their targets for deficit reduction - and I am assuming they must be targets for debt reduction because they wouldn't be cutting as hard as they are. If the actual deficit, the amount that the government overran its costs in the previous year is $300 million - and I am saying that it is - then we would assume that with prudence on the part of the government, in other words, make sure your departments don't overrun their budgets so we have no deficit, for starters, increases in the revenues to the province by an improved economy or say a 3 per cent growth in the economy, should garner in the range of $150 million to the province.

The question has to be, is the government still on track for trying to rid the province of its deficit in three years or is it trying to do it in one year and relate what the costs are for trying to hit Nova Scotians as hard as they are. They have to remember that Nova Scotians

[Page 5545]

have been down this road before and there really is nowhere to cut. There were job losses under the Liberal mandate and people have to realize that there really isn't much room to pursue that agenda.

[12:45 p.m.]

During the 1990's, reining in public spending in pursuit of elusive balanced budgets dominated political agendas. Between 1990 and 1999 program spending in Nova Scotia increased by an average rate of almost one-half that for all provinces. As a share of the Gross Domestic Product, Nova Scotia's program spending dropped from 21.4 per cent in 1990 to 19.5 per cent in 1999. While the province was able to control program expenditure, debt and deficits continued. Between 1990 and 1999 reported annual deficits totalled $2.47 billion. These deficits, combined with a loss by Crown Corporations, foreign exchange losses, pension liabilities and other factors more than doubled Nova Scotia's net direct debt from $4.45 billion in 1990 to $9.9 billion in 1999. During the 1990's, Nova Scotia's net debt per capita increased from $5 million roughly to $10 million as the province moved from having one of the third highest net debts per capita, behind Newfoundland and Quebec in 1991, to second behind Quebec only in 1999.

Meanwhile, expenditure restraint had a predictable effect on our social fabric. Classrooms were crowded. Health care is in a crisis. Employment has increased, but real wages have stagnated. Both median and average family incomes in Nova Scotia were the second lowest in Canada in 1996. Child poverty increased by nearly 30 per cent between 1990 and 1997, Mr. Speaker, and at 22.7 per cent in 1997, Nova Scotia's rate of child poverty was the highest in Canada. We have a problem here, but a search for solutions must be based on an appreciation of the root causes.

On the one hand we are told that we must learn to live within our means, Mr. Speaker, and the Minister of Finance has stated that resources are being wasted on an excess of government and that making government smaller and less expensive is our only option, yet only three provinces have lower per capita expenditures than Nova Scotia. On the other hand, people know that far from living beyond our means, individuals are forced to cope with important, but underfunded services, such as health care and education. The three other Atlantic Provinces all spent more per capita in 1998-99 than did Nova Scotia. Part of the reason for the higher expenditure may be because our neighbouring provincial governments pay the full cost of education, but even adding the approximately $160 per capita Nova Scotians pay in municipal education taxes, it still leaves this province as the lowest spender in the region. The fact that in Ontario municipalities pay 60 per cent of education costs, explains why the Ontario provincial government's per capita spending is lower than Nova Scotia's.

[Page 5546]

Mr. Speaker, Nova Scotia's increase in per capita spending over the decade was the fourth lowest, ahead only of P.E.I., Saskatchewan and Alberta. Because Nova Scotia devotes proportionally more of its annual spending to debt payments, there was a smaller amount left over to be spent on programs and, therefore, we should be very careful as to whether or not we want to cut those programs any more.

What are the facts, Mr. Speaker? At 37.3 per cent of expenditure in 1998, Nova Scotia spent a higher percentage of its budget on health care than all but two other provinces, but Nova Scotia's health percentage is higher because the overall provincial spending against which it is computed is the lowest. A more meaningful way of measuring health spending is on a per capita basis. Using that yardstick, provincial expenditure on health care in Nova Scotia has traditionally been at or near the bottom. The notion that health care spending is out of control in Nova Scotia may reflect the fact that since 1996 it has increased by more than 10 per cent a year. However, that increase follows a four year period during which spending dropped every single year. Nova Scotia has the highest rate of disability, the highest incidence of heart and lung disease and the fourth highest over age 65 population in the country.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I wonder if the honourable member would permit an introduction.

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Sure.

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

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague, the member for Hants East, for permitting me to make this introduction. I am pleased to introduce approximately 30 Grade 8 students from Brookfield Junior High School. The students and their much adorned teacher who is downstairs, Mr. Rick Hiltz. They were down visiting Pier 21 today, I understand, and the students really enjoyed that. This is part of their social studies course. They are enjoying their visit here to the Nova Scotia Legislature. This class is very knowledgeable and keen. The class trip is also being facilitated by parents. Accompanying the students today are Cheryl Smith, Kathy Best and Patricia Maynard. I would ask the welcomed visitors to please stand and receive warm applause from my colleagues here in the House. (Applause)

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, I welcome the guests in the gallery as well. I certainly hope that my talk here has given them some food for thought. It has been a couple of years since I have spoken to any number of students, so welcome. I used to be a teacher.

Mr. Speaker, Nova Scotia has the highest rate of disability, the highest incidence of heart and lung disease and the fourth highest population over 65 years of age in the country. The surprise is not that we spent more per capita on health care than five other provinces in

[Page 5547]

1999, it is that we spent so little in comparison with other provinces in the years before 1997. Moreover, Nova Scotia is not alone in recent increases in health care. The larger increases are in the provinces which earlier made the deepest cuts, which only makes sense because they had to catch up. They were in a serious problem and what we see occurring in this government is exactly to go down that road to try to cut in the Department of Health and only to know that in a very short period of time we are going to have to spend an awful lot more in that department in order to bring it to a level where expenditure is reduced. The more we allow professionals to disappear from the province, the more we allow our infrastructure to degrade, then there really is no escape from the expense in the health care system or in any other system. Those expenses eventually are going to catch up with us and government has to make a realization whether or not they want to spend a little bit now or a lot down the road but it is going to get them.

MR. SPEAKER: I wonder if the member might permit another introduction. Thank you.

MR. JOHN MACDONALD: Certainly, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Justice.

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: I would like to rise on an introduction. Mr. Speaker, in the east gallery today we have an old friend of mine from Mahone Bay, now of Halifax, the Reverend William Dye and his sons Robert and Edward, who are here today. I would ask them to rise and receive a greeting from the House. (Applause)

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: I welcome any guests who are here today.

Moreover, Nova Scotia is not alone in recent increases but the question can be, can you cut your expenditure to health care, as we have done in this province, and, at the same time, can you say the costs are out of control? You can't have the two things concurrent - you can't have costs out of control and cutting at the same time. If you are spending a lot then maybe your costs are out of control, but if you are cutting then they can't be. Costs, I say, are not out of control. Between 1990 and 1999 health spending by all provinces increased 40 per cent. Between 1980 and 1990, the increase was 166 per cent. So our increases in recent years have been only by 40 per cent compared to the 166 per cent in the previous decade.

Now, Mr. Speaker, one thing I know, I guess it is an attempt by the government, and I would agree with them only insofar as they feel a need to increase revenue. I agree. Increasing revenue would be a mechanism to generate funds necessary to meet our costs. But I don't agree with the notion of user fees or increased fees for services that are already being paid for by the taxpayer. We have seen this in a variety of departments. I know personally that things like soil testing and so on which you used to be able to get for free from the

[Page 5548]

Department of Agriculture, there was a fee associated with that. This government is going down that same road. I think Nova Scotians feel that they have had enough of this.

Mr. Speaker, we have to think about what are the big revenues for the Province of Nova Scotia. The big three are income tax, sales tax and federal transfers for the most part. But there are those things that happen in Nova Scotia that can be used to increase revenues. Nova Scotia's increases in its own source revenues were the third lowest among all provinces between 1990 and 1999 with only Prince Edward Island and Alberta realizing smaller increases. Over the decade Nova Scotia's own source revenues grew by 20.8 per cent from $2,567 per capita to $3,000. However, most of that growth has occurred over the last three years. If we take off revenues from the Sable project which are in the range of $5 million, then from all other sources - stumpage fees, minerals, et cetera - that Nova Scotia garnered in the range of $2 million last year, whereas New Brunswick took in in the range of $50 million, I would say this would be an area that the province should be looking at to try to increase revenues.

Personal income tax has been the slowest growing category. Between 1993 and 1999, it increased by 8.4 per cent. A 1997 reduction in personal income tax cost $30 million to $35 million a year with high income individuals benefitting the most, Mr. Speaker. Sales tax, including the PST/HST, gasoline and diesel oil tax, tobacco tax, and insurance taxes, increased by 18.3 per cent from $916 million in 1992-93 to $1.083 billion in 1998-99. The introduction of the HST lowered the combined GST and PST from over 18 per cent to 15 per cent, but the HST was applied to a wider base including home heating fuel and clothing under $100. This compensated the Treasury, while giving purchasers of $400 suits a tax break at the expense of the bargain bin shoppers. Because of the lowest rate and the pass-through for business, Nova Scotia will likely get less in the future from HST than we would have received from the old health services and amusement tax.

We have to question, Mr. Speaker, who are we targeting and to what benefit do increased fees affect Nova Scotians. The comment I made earlier about the Minister of Health saying that Nova Scotians don't want higher taxes, well, they are certainly getting them.

Revenue from corporation taxes grew significantly between 1993 and 1999. In 1992-93, the province collected $66.3 million in corporation income tax, and another $14.9 million in corporation capital tax. Forecast for 1998-99 predicted $119.4 million in corporation income tax; $13.9 million from the corporation capital tax; and $45.6 million from the capital tax on non-financial institutions introduced in 1997. However, compared with most provinces, Nova Scotia collects a relatively small share of its revenues from corporations.

[Page 5549]

[1:00 p.m.]

Most of Nova Scotia revenues in the other category originate from three sources: Nova Scotia Gaming Corporation profits, which increased from $74.5 million in 1992-93 to a projected $169 million in the current fiscal year; the Nova Scotia Liquor Commission profits totalling $136 million, up from $73.8 million at the beginning of the decade; driver, motor vehicle and related registrations budgeted at $56.3 million this year, approximately what was raised in 1992-93. If we take the government's view that our financial situation is as detrimental as it is, then you have to question, why is it that we are not trying to target an increase in revenues in this province, rather than targeting Nova Scotians? Why is it that the province has not denied that they are considering privatizing the Nova Scotia Liquor Commission?

If we consider my last statement, which said the Nova Scotia Liquor Commission profits totalled $136 million, then I would think that this would be a very good reason to keep the Nova Scotia Liquor Commission under the control of the province. We are supplying well-paying jobs for Nova Scotians, and the government, for some reason, seems to forget that these are Nova Scotians. These are people who are going into their communities, spending money in those communities, buying goods for their families, a large portion of which will go back to the province in taxes anyway, plus the province is generating $136 million. I think the government should consider that. If we consider the number of break-and-enters or robberies in small corner stores or in the stores generally, that using these stores as an outlet would not be an advisable recommendation. The government must have its own stats, and we certainly don't hear of many people trying to rob liquor stores.

In the overall consideration, I think it would make perfect sense to keep liquor stores under the government's control, keep them under the Crown, and provide those well-paying jobs in a variety of communities throughout Nova Scotia. Then the government can control it and still garner the profit that it needs. This would be a much more sensible direction for the government to go in.

Mr. Speaker, I wish that it was clear - I shouldn't say that it is so unclear by the Financial Measures (2000) Bill, but it is certainly unclear from the budget - why the government would proceed down a road that has, by bringing out a budget and a Financial Measures (2000) Bill that impacts on the lives of everyday Nova Scotians in such a significant way. This is not, in any way, shape or form, what Nova Scotians have voted for. It is not something that the government has the ability to pull the wool over the eyes of Nova Scotians. This is something, actually, I think, in the most detrimental way for the government, that will unravel over time. In other words, the full impact of what this Financial Measures (2000) Bill means to Nova Scotians will not be felt the day that this bill is passed. This will be felt over the next months or year for individuals every time they make use of a particular service, then someone in Nova Scotia is going to get a wake-up call as to what this province has done through this bill.

[Page 5550]

In other words, what we are doing is we are reminding them, over the next few months or next few years, exactly what this bill has done as far as impacting on their lives. I think the fact that they get reminded of this time and time again is a good thing but it would not be a good thing for the government. I would think that in their own best interest they would want to retract the action in this bill and think about what Nova Scotians have elected them for. They certainly don't want any more governments that are spendthrifts. They want governments that are responsible and I think that Nova Scotians, in electing Progressive Conservatives, may have hoped they were getting conservative progressives, but they are not.

I know the honourable members opposite are still hearing from their constituents, so I would ask them to listen to their constituents, and even though the budget has passed, the impacts of that budget, they still have some opportunity to diffuse. I think that for all members, especially members in the Opposition, it is incumbent upon us to try to inform Nova Scotians of the impact of this Financial Measures (2000) Bill. I think it is incumbent upon the members opposite to get a clear understanding of the impact of this bill so they know how this is going to spin out in each of their own constituencies. Mr. Speaker, how much time do I have left?

MR. SPEAKER: The member has a little over 21 minutes left. (Interruptions) Before the member gets back into the cadence of his speech, I wonder if he would permit an introduction from one of the members.

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Certainly, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Tourism and Culture.

HON. RODNEY MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I thank the honourable member for giving up his time. In the east gallery, I would like to introduce a member of the community of Whycocomagh in Inverness County. He is a former teacher and very involved in his community, Mr. Burton MacIntyre. I would ask him to stand and receive the warm welcome of the House. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants East now has 20 minutes and 30 seconds.

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, I also would like to welcome Mr. MacIntyre. I don't remember any speaker who has had so many introductions through their presentation and I think it only goes to show that when I get up to speak, people come from around the province.

HON. NEIL LEBLANC: Is there anybody from Australia up there?

[Page 5551]

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: I think the honourable Minister of Finance is asking if there is anybody from Australia up there? I know it is down under but I consider that a low blow. (Laughter)

Mr. Speaker, as I continue, I want to draw the attention of all members of the House to what some of the effects of the budget have been and some of the proposed or rumoured concerns that are going to spin out as a result of this budget. All the more reason for us to be concerned about this Financial Measures (2000) Bill, all the more reason for the members of our caucus and the members of the Liberal caucus who voted against the budget because there still is some grey area, there still is some vagueness, there still is some uncertainly as to the impacts of the budget. I think it is in the best interests of all Nova Scotians that we try, and we have been trying as hard as we can, to ferret out what those implications are. We have learned for sure what is happening in the agricultural sector and I know the honourable member for Inverness, the Minister of Tourism and Culture, is certainly aware of that. He was even willing to put his job on the line to ensure that the Mabou office stayed open. Certainly we are wondering when that is going to happen.

I think if we consider the power base that the present government has, we know that they have a large number of seats in rural Nova Scotia, I guess we have to question why there seems to be such an attack on rural Nova Scotia in this budget. The farming community was certainly hard hit. We know that whether you are rural or not, that the education cuts have struck Nova Scotians hard. The Minister of Transportation and Public Works has indicated that over the next year the department will look at the possibility of cutting or privatizing some services in the department and it is not clear whether or not they will do that or what those services may be yet. So certainly for those individuals who work, and for the most part these are rural Nova Scotia jobs in the Department of Transportation . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I wonder if the member would permit another introduction.

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Certainly, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the honourable member for Hants East for permitting me to make this introduction. Once again I am very proud and pleased to introduce a number of Grade 8 students from the beautiful constituency of Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley. The students go to Brookfield Junior High School in Brookfield. The students are also accompanied today by their much-adorned teacher, Mr. Rick Hiltz. Mr. Hiltz teaches social studies and he has taught music at Brookfield for some 25 years. Mr. Hiltz is accompanied today by parent Phillis Baxter Gerand and I want to tell my colleagues and the Speaker that I have received a number of letters and some petitions

[Page 5552]

from my constituents. I certainly will do my obligation and responsibility and table those letters and petitions in the Nova Scotia Legislature.

The students have been most proactive, as has been the school, in bringing the Education budget concerns that they have to the ear of their MLA and to the ear of this government. I would ask the students and the visitors, Mr. Hiltz and Phyllis, if they would please stand and receive a warm welcome from the Legislature. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: Honourable member for Hants East, you have exactly 15 minutes left.

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, I think I welcome again Mr. Hiltz and his students. Certainly I probably should contact the commissionaires and make sure the weight in the gallery won't get too much before I finish my speech.

Mr. Speaker, I know the province is involved in bringing in a new radio system, the IWAN system. I know I have questioned the minister on the floor in the fall regarding that system. It is my understanding that that system is going to cost somewhere in the range of $90 million before it is implemented. I am starting to get some renewed calls actually. In one area of my riding, the Shubenacadie Fire Department is on a pilot project for testing that system, and they are starting to have some grave concerns about the effectiveness of that system. I would have to question why the government would feel the need. I think the evidence is coming in that indicates this deserves a second look. There are some safety concerns associated with this. In times of restraint, why are we spending this amount of money to bring in a system that is starting to show signs that it may not be the best one for Nova Scotia? I would ask the government to rethink their decision in this regard; $90 million would go a long way to funding education and considering the Minister of Health cut $100 million out of the Health Department, I am sure that putting that back would have a very positive effect on the health care system.

[1:15 p.m.]

If we look at some of the fees associated with this bill, if the Financial Measures (2000) Bill is passed, Mr. Speaker, the Health budget includes revenue to be generated by charging some patients fees for the use of acute care beds, a total new revenue to the province in ambulance fees, an increase in fees to the province of $5 million, seniors' Pharmacare co-pay increase and premium and co-pay will now automatically rise every year based on increase in drug costs. Home support services, an increase to garner the government, $2.2 million. Community Services co-pay increased to the amount of $700,000. Child Abuse Registry, a new fee for getting a certificate will increase revenue by $77,000. In transportation, the fare of ferries goes up from $1.75 to $3.00, frequent users can buy a booklet that keeps the costs the same. Environmental approvals, an increased cost there to the tune of $200,000. Justice, sheriffs and probate fees, an increase as well to the tune of $975,000, so to glean almost another $1 million. Emergency measures, 911 telephone tax will be imposed on every

[Page 5553]

telephone to pay for 911. I guess the honourable Minister of Health doesn't remember the debate in the fall we had around that very issue, and I guess never say die would be the code of the Tory Government.

I remember a fable told by my honourable colleague, the member for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour. When we see these things we fought already come back and we have to re-fight them and re-fight them, it reminds me of his fable of the scorpion trying to get around a pond. He notices the frog in the water and says to the frog, "Would you carry me on your back to the other side of the pond to save me the time and distance of having to walk around the pond?" The frog's response was, "Why should I do that because you will sting me and kill me." The scorpion replied, "What benefit would there be for me to do that to you. If you die then I die by drowning in the pond." The frog relented and said, "Sure, I will go for that." They got halfway across the pond, and the scorpion stung the frog. As the frog was dying and the scorpion was drowning, the frog said, "Why did you do that?" The scorpion said, "To do something different, isn't in my nature."

I think this is what we are starting to see is what exactly is in your nature when these arguments keep coming back, Mr. Speaker, for battles that we think we have put aside, or battles that we thought we had won. But we know that it is not in the Torys' nature to let those lie, they are going to bring those back and we are going to have to re-fight them.

AN HON. MEMBER: There is the sting.

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: There is the sting. That is right, Mr. Speaker, and I think that the sting is actually the Financial Measures (2000) Bill. I want to reiterate what I had said earlier, the fact that there is no escaping your legislation. It doesn't matter what politicians say on the doorsteps, on the podiums. Wherever they go, those Parties that have a different philosophy from us will put their spin on what they intend to do, and they will put their spin on what we intend to do but there is no changing the spin on a piece of legislation. That says loudly and clearly what the intent of the government is, and there is no getting away from what you have to say to your constituents on their doorsteps when you speak to them because it is exactly what you bring to the House to try to make law that impacts on their lives, that says whether or not you are standing up for what you said on their doorstep or you are changing that to be something different.

Mr. Speaker, this Financial Measures (2000) Bill is something different. This Financial Measures (2000) Bill is the sting that Nova Scotians didn't expect to get from the Tories, and I would say that I certainly would like to think that the members opposite are not as spineless as I might have indicated in my resolution.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Is that an apology?

[Page 5554]

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: The members opposite are asking if that is an apology. Well, look, I certainly want them to know that I am not above giving one if the need arises. If the members opposite will give me an opportunity, in other words to change this piece of legislation, then I will be willing to make that apology and I would stand right here in the House and do it, Mr. Speaker, and I know the Hansard record will show that.

AN HON. MEMBER: Hear, hear. Hear, hear.

ANOTHER HON. MEMBER: Give and take cooperation.

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Now, I didn't get through all of what is happening with this bill, Mr. Speaker. As far as the Department of Labour, stationary engineers licencing, an increase of $200,000; arbitration cost-sharing, provincial portion which was one-third, is now being downloaded to employees and employers; the province is stepping away from their share of that. Propane fuel and electrical permits, an increase of $116,000. Back to health care again, higher fees for discretionary items in hospitals such as fibreglass casts, TV and telephones. Total new revenue of $5 million. The Minister of Health, actually when asked originally about this increased fee, or this new fee, he said he thought it was included in the $20.4 million announced in his budget, but the next day he retracted that; he had to admit that it wasn't. So this is an extra fee of another $5 million.

Seniors' Pharmacare, total new revenue, $8.4 million. The budget announced only $4.4 million so the next day the minister had to admit that his number, $4.4 million, wasn't accurate.

Home sewage disposal program through the Department of the Environment, privatized; homeowners will now pay hundreds of dollars more for design, installation and approval of septic systems, plus a new $50 application fee. Domestic well water service, privatized; cost to homeowners not yet determined. The Department of the Environment again, petroleum tank tagging, a new fee; amount to be determined. Industrial waste management, a new fee; amount to be determined. Watercourse alteration, a new fee; amount to be determined. So here we are trying to make a decision on a bill that is going to impact on Nova Scotians' lives.

Practically every item I have mentioned in relation to this bill has caused either a new fee or an increased fee, and some of those fees, Mr. Speaker, we don't even know what they are yet. We are expected to allow Nova Scotians to think we are willing to pass this bill, on their behalf, that is unclear, actually, as to what they are going to be paying for some of these items and actually with the whole notion that somehow these increased fees are better for them. I think Nova Scotians have stated loudly and clearly to all politicians that they think they have paid enough, and I agree. I don't think there is any need to cause Nova Scotians any more grief or remove any more dollars from the pocketbook.

[Page 5555]

Health care: again, a levy on automobile insurance policies increased from $18.50 per policy to $25. This increase, which is paid by insurers to help fund the health system, will be passed on to the consumer by way of higher insurance premiums, Mr. Speaker. Business and Consumer Services: the cost of fuel dye will be charged back to oil companies. That is a new fee. Business and Consumer Services: commission paid to wholesalers to collect fuel tax, that is eliminated and the cost will be passed on to consumers. Also for Business and Consumer Services: a commission paid to tobacco wholesalers to collect tax, that is eliminated and the cost passed on to consumers. Big surprise. Also, licensing fees for insurance agents, an increase. New drivers' licences: costs of new and learner licences goes up by $35 and the driver handbook, a new fee of $7.00.

All those increased fees are new fees that are going to be borne by the taxpayer. I guess there is one item in this bill that stands out to me, which gives the power to Cabinet to approve a pre-condition for any financial transaction. This measure applies to all government departments, Agencies, Boards and Commissions. To me, this is nothing but a pure power grab.

Mr. Speaker, you have to wonder where this government is going. The government said they wanted a smaller government, reduced bureaucracy. The first thing they are doing is putting in a red tape commissioner. One of the first bills brought before this House that actually increased the number of boards, which was the board in the Farm Practices Act which is to hear cases regarding nuisance. In so many ways we have seen this government flip-flop. The Financial Measures (2000) Bill is more evidence of that. I am interested to hear the comments by other members as well. So with that I take my place and I thank the members for their attention and their time.

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

MR. DAVID WILSON: Mr. Speaker, as I understand it, we will be going until 2:00 p.m., is that correct, then taking a break for an hour and then returning to what I have to say?

MR. SPEAKER: Yes, that is correct, honourable member. We will be coming back to hear what you have to say after Question Period.

MR. WILSON: Mr. Speaker, please feel free to allow any of the members to introduce anyone in the gallery during the next hour or so, if you have anyone around, or perhaps you want to round up a few groups and bring them in, by all means, feel free.

It is indeed a pleasure to again stand before this House today and talk about the Financial Measures (2000) Bill. It is a pleasure to be here and talk about it but, indeed, not a pleasure to talk about what it contains. As a matter of fact, this government should actually be ashamed of the budget that it brought forward. There were, and there still are, many major holes in the budgets of Health, Education and Agriculture as well. I think the full impact of

[Page 5556]

this budget is still not known and probably won't be known, won't be fully realized for some time because, I think in the opinion of a lot of people in this House - perhaps not the majority, but at least a lot - we were forced to vote on an incomplete budget. So, the question would be how can we vote on the companion legislation if indeed we were asked to vote on an incomplete budget?

[1:30 p.m.]

The budget contained no hard facts because the details were left out. I believe that those details were left out simply because I believe the government does not know what those details are. That is why, for instance, the Premier told us to ferret the information out because perhaps even the Premier did not know what was contained in this budget.

The most glaring example of government ineptitude is actually what is not in this bill. For instance, the Manufacturing Processing Tax Credit is eliminated. Instead of eliminating tax credits, the government should be implementing more tax credit measures, specifically targeted for areas of high unemployment. Financial measures should be measures that would stimulate growth instead of punishing growth. As an example, the unofficial unemployment rate, I should say, in my riding of Cape Breton East is probably around 50 per cent. I know that is pretty hard to believe, but that is the unofficial unemployment rate. Officially, it would be in the mid-20 per cent range but of course the official rate does not include the people who have actually given up looking for work within this province and indeed within the riding of Cape Breton East. The absence of measures to stimulate growth in my area, as an example, means that the government has given up on the people of Glace Bay.

There is no new media tax credit to help foster employment for young people in my riding. We all understand that is changing on a daily basis, but without the tools to do the job, the economy is going to suffer even further.

Part of the bill that needs more explaining is changes to the way that income tax is calculated in this province. I think it is an absolute shame that such a huge tax restructuring is being done with very little or no public input and there has been absolutely no clear explanation to this House and no clear explanation to the public of Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, for a government that campaigned on openness and accountability, in my opinion, it is certainly doing its best to hide the truth from Nova Scotians. Tax issues, because they affect so many people and they affect people's pocketbooks, have to be held to a closer public scrutiny. It would be far wiser if this government withdrew that section of the bill and just tabled it as separate legislation. If that was done, in that way, then all Nova Scotians can understand exactly what that tax change is going to mean to them. Will it mean taxes are going to be higher or will it mean that taxes are going to be lower? I think Nova Scotians have a right to know and I think that they are demanding to know.

[Page 5557]

We saw this kind of budget in New Brunswick recently and we saw the Auditor General in New Brunswick look long and hard at that province's budget. We as a Liberal caucus in particular, our Finance Critic, has written a letter to our Auditor General and I hope that perhaps the same thing will happen across the way because again, in my opinion, the government is hiding the facts and trying to deceive Nova Scotians.

Let me give you another example, let's look at education. The minister had no idea what her own budget would do to the education system in this province and, because of that, and we have seen it all in the last few weeks and last few months, people had to scream and holler that this budget would be devastating to our education system. They had to take to the streets, young and old, and protest outside this Legislature to try and get their message across. Only after a week of protests did the Minister of Finance, for lack of a better term, pull a rabbit out of his hat. It could have been a ferret, but instead he pulled a rabbit, and came to the rescue with an $88 million fund in tow.

Now where did that trust fund come from? Why, if the government was going to bail out school boards, did they simply not announce that that was there in their Budget Address? Why do they put themselves through that much if they had a solution? Why go through all of the protests and all of the hassles that individual constituents made to ministers and to backbenchers when they went home on the weekend? Why go though all of these petitions that have been tabled here? Why have little five year old children writing letters to the Premier saying that they are mad at him because their teacher has been fired?

I am sure, as my honourable colleague has said, that the Minister of Education wishes that didn't happen as well. I am sure that the Minister of Education wishes that that information had been on the table from the very beginning, so that the Minister of Education wouldn't have to go through that.

Again, it is obvious, Mr. Speaker, they simply did not know themselves that that money was there. The minister pulled together all his spin doctors and said look, never mind the rainbow, just go find me that pot of money; I need that pot of money so that I can justify using it on education in this instance. Then that is what they came up with.

Now we know the end result but the end result is not exactly what we were hoping for because perhaps in that pot of money there should be some more money there, so that the education system in this province will stay exactly the way it is and not just grow stagnant but perhaps improve as well in the years to come. Mr. Speaker, we still have problems in the education system; we still have people who are telling us, telling the Minister of Education and telling the Government of Nova Scotia that there are going to be bus drivers, there are going to be teachers' aides, and there are going to be support staff laid off in this province and, because of those lay-offs and those changes to education, who is going to get hurt? Of course it will be the people, the students, the children of Nova Scotia who are left behind in the classrooms.

[Page 5558]

If they are in high school, according to the Minister of Education, they may be in a classroom that will contain as many as 50 students at one time. We have seen a great example, as shown by TV reports in this province, of what a classroom of 50 students actually looks like. I don't think anybody in this Legislature could honestly stand and say that they would want one of their children to be in a classroom that contained 50 students with barely enough room to move, let alone enough room to learn.

As I have said, I have, as I am sure many members do, a great personal interest in the education system because I still have children within the education system, some very young children in the education system. I have a daughter who is six years old who attends a tremendous elementary school in Glace Bay. If I may, the name of the school is Bridgeport School. They have a fantastic staff at Bridgeport School, but unfortunately, because of the way things have been going and because of class sizes and so on, already at the ripe old age of six my daughter finds herself in a double grade, Primary and Grade 1 combined. Certainly there have been some question as to whether or not a combined grade, a double grade would provide the level of education that she deserves, but because of the challenge which has been faced by the teacher in this instance, that challenge has been met and, indeed, her educational needs at least at this time are certainly being met.

Mr. Speaker, I have just simply added my voice to the many thousands of people throughout this province. I am sure, if they are still here, the students from beautiful Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley - if I got that correct - if they are still here today, they would agree after having presented the member for the beautiful Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley with petitions and letters re the education system, I am sure they would agree with me as well on the matter of education.

Mr. Speaker, let me move on to the subject of health for a few minutes if I may, today, with the announced QE II hospital lay-offs. The minister said yesterday that he did not know how many people exactly would be lost; if we knew, I would suggest that the Minister of Health actually knew as well. If the minister was asleep yesterday, let me remind you of the numbers.

AN HON. MEMBER: How many?

MR. WILSON: There are 300 people who are going to lose their jobs at the QE II. If it is any different, then perhaps the minister would like to tell the House at a later time. The director of pharmacy, the director of physiotherapy who had 25-plus years' experience; certainly you cannot do something like that and not feel an impact. If it is that bad at the QE II . . .

HON. GORDON BALSER: It was 50.

[Page 5559]

MR. WILSON: It was 300 in case you didn't hear me, 300. But if it is that bad at the QE II. I don't think it would make it right, as the Minister of Economic Development is suggesting, I don't think it would be right if there was one lay-off at the QE II, never mind if it was 850 or 300. I don't think it would be right if there was one at any hospital in this province as a matter of fact, any lay-offs in this province.

Let me give the Minister of Economic Development another example. Let's keep looking at health. Let's keep looking at the Glace Bay Hospital. Let's keep looking at the New Waterford Hospital and how many people are going to be affected there and in my area. Let's see the Minister of Economic Development and the Minister of Health and you backbenchers go home to my area and tell teachers and workers in hospitals that it is okay if there is only one, there is only two, or there is only three. You go to them and you tell them it is okay for them to be laid off. I suggest they should come back to this House and tell you that it is okay to lay you off at the appropriate time as well, which eventually will happen.

As I said, Mr. Speaker, I was talking about the health situation in the QE II, but I did digress for a moment and I mentioned Glace Bay and New Waterford. There is also a hospital facility in North Sydney. These, I understand, are currently being talked about; there will be a reduction in emergency hours in some of these hospitals. I am wondering exactly what will happen there. If the number of the QE II can be pared down from 300 to 5 or 6, then perhaps the same sort of thing, when the figures are all jigged around - it may be going to happen in Glace Bay and New Waterford and North Sydney as well - but we really won't know because the government of the day really doesn't know at this particular time, and we will have to ferret out those details as well when the time comes.

Now, as I mentioned Glace Bay, Mr. Speaker, I am wondering about emergency hours and how that is going to affect the people of Glace Bay, if indeed the Emergency Department in Glace Bay, if it is going to be reduced and closed after a certain hour in the summertime, will, indeed, that Emergency Department come back into existence once the summertime is over? Or will this be another chance for the government of the day and the Minister of Health, in particular, to cut another department and, indeed, start cutting people's jobs, and by doing that putting people out of work, of course, but also denying a necessary service to the people of Glace Bay? I am also sure that there are people in New Waterford who are wondering about the very existence of their hospital at this time, as to whether or not that hospital is going to remain open.

[1:45 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, I am here to represent the concerns of the constituents of Cape Breton East, but I am sure there are many other areas in this province that are worried, from Lunenburg, Yarmouth, Queens, and so on, that are asking, what is going to happen in our areas, as well. I would suggest that if the minister is willing to do this to the QE II, the rest of the province should look out for what is coming next.

[Page 5560]

Mr. Speaker, what about the program review, this much ballyhooed program review that we have been hearing about? Where is it? The Minister of Health said yesterday that the Health budget was based on the results of the program review. I would say, Mr. Minister, that the people of Nova Scotia have a right to see that document. You would think, if that document is being quoted from so much, that it would be an honour and the minister would certainly love to produce that document to this House. If he justifies the cuts that he is making by producing that document, then why not simply pull it out of his pockets and show it to the people of Nova Scotia, so that they can see for themselves exactly what is contained in that document.

The document is entitled, The Program Review. I would suggest that if the Program Review is not being pulled out by the Minister of Health and others, then perhaps the question would arise in your mind, if you were of a suspicious nature, which I am told some members of the Opposition are, perhaps the question would be, what is this entire government hiding?

Mr. Speaker, let me focus on the bill at hand, the Financial Measures (2000) Bill. As I said recently in another speech - and it does not pain me in any way to say this - there are a lot of very good initiatives within the Financial Measures (2000) Bill, but, and there is always a but, they may be too few to mention as a matter of fact, but there are more there that worry me than anything else. We have heard this government speak quite a bit about financial accountability and open and honest government. Those are big words. We have also heard stories about financial ruin and we have heard stories about economic catastrophe.

This government has told Nova Scotians about what an uphill struggle they are facing, and how the cuts they are imposing are absolutely necessary. This government talks about a lot of things, as a matter of fact. As you can hear, some noises in this Chamber, talking about things that went wrong from 1993-94, but they forget where things started, and they started way back, way back when. I think they start back with a Tory Government, as a matter of fact. That is where the woes of this government actually started. They got worse and worse as the days and the months went on. Again this government has talked, as I mentioned, about financial accountability and open and honest government. We all know what was learned from the lessons of the Buchanan and Cameron Regimes in this province because their costly mistakes have been costing this province ever since.

Mr. Speaker, the government has told Nova Scotians, as I have mentioned, about uphill struggles they are facing and how the cuts are absolutely necessary. Now this government talks about repatriating our foreign debt as well, and we agree. It was a Liberal Government that started Nova Scotia down the road towards limited foreign exposure. We could no longer (Interruptions) Well, sometimes the truth is hard to take but it is something that eventually you have to live up to. If the members on the opposite side finally face up to reality, they will realize that is exactly what happened. They know where the road took us, they know where the road of Buchanan and Cameron took us. As I mentioned, that is where

[Page 5561]

we are right now and we are still paying for it and we will be paying for it for a very long time to come.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I would remind the honourable member that we are back to second reading of this bill and that he should be speaking to the principle of this bill, please. I would ask him to bring his comments back to the amendment.

MR. WILSON: Mr. Speaker, I think I was on the subject of foreign debt so let me get back to that. We could no longer afford to be borrowing money from other countries and playing roulette with foreign exchanges. When this Minister of Finance began speaking on limiting Nova Scotian's foreign exposure, we agreed because we started the province down that road so I am happy that this government is going to continue with what a Liberal Government actually began.

Unfortunately, as is the case with this government in a lot of instances, you are only going halfway on that commitment. When the government set out in the legislation their section dealing with foreign exposure, they set a very realistic and also credible target of 20 per cent exposure. (Interruption) It was a Liberal agenda, correct, this is an acceptable level of exposure and I feel everyone would agree with this - well, almost everyone. Where the problems come in is with some of the language, for instance; the government says they cannot finance or re-finance using any foreign debt until the province's total foreign debt exposure is at or below 20 per cent. Then, in the next breath, the government says well, foreign investment is okay as long as it is not fully hedged.

So, what is it going to be? Do you want to invest in the foreign market or not? Now I am sure the minister knows, and I am certainly not here to lecture him on financial matters, but I am sure that he knows that a fully-hedged financial transaction, although it has diversified the exchange risk, it still consists of foreign content. It took me a while to learn that, I will admit that, okay. What is wrong with it is that it flies in the face of what the government is wanting, to get out from under the thumb of foreign banks.

I would ask, does the minister have no confidence in the Canadian system of banking, that he has to find ways to allow the province to finance their debt in other countries? Right? What is wrong with Canadian? As we heard in this Legislature earlier today, we are proud to be Nova Scotians, what is wrong with being proud to be Canadians and using Canadian banks? So why wouldn't the minister not give this legislation some real teeth and require that all debt financing be in Canadian funds, until our foreign exposure target of 20 per cent is met?

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

MR. WILSON: Absolutely.

[Page 5562]

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

MR. RUSSELL MACLELLAN: Mr. Speaker, I would like to bring to the attention of the members of the Legislature a good friend, the Reverend Bill Dye, retired, and his two sons, Bruce and Robert. I would like all members to welcome them to the House this afternoon. (Applause)

MR. WILSON: Mr. Speaker, I will leave the foreign debt problem right now and we will move on to change the focus a little bit for now. I get back to the fact that this is the government, I am sure I am correct, that government campaigned on less red tape. I am sure I heard that somewhere during the campaign that there would be less red tape in government. They said inefficiencies which they could find in the system, that they would help them to find a better way to do things. What did they do?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Tell us.

MR. WILSON: Well, I will tell you if you give me a chance. They introduced a red tape commissioner and if you introduce a red tape commissioner, what does that do, if you were trying to get rid of red tape? It simply introduces another layer of red tape, is all, it adds another level of bureaucracy to the system. I understand red tape. I understand bureaucracy. I understand cuts. I understand people in this province are hurting. I understand people in my own riding who are starving, who are on social assistance, who are being cut, who are being laid off and being put out of work. I would suggest, Mr. Speaker, that perhaps that member does not understand, but I understand and I understand very clearly how the people of my riding are hurting and how the people of Nova Scotia are hurting and I don't take it lightly, let me tell you that.

They also saw the size of their own staff increase as well. No downsizing or cutting back on administration on that side, Mr. Speaker. These ministers were out feathering their own nests at the same time. They just keep piling on the bureaucracy along with a number of other things. This government also wants all government business enterprises to have prior approval of financial transactions. This is coming from the government that wanted a tighter and more efficient process in government. This is coming from a government who wants private business to come in and do everything for them. That is the solution to everything, is to privatize.

This is also the government, and perhaps where a lot of the members of this government are taking their cues from, this is the government who takes all of its cues from the Halifax Metro Chamber of Commerce. I guess perhaps the minister was sick the day they talked about business opportunities in the free market, business like government enterprises, or very large, complicated organizations, and they need to be able to secure a loan or a line of credit, a bond, or some other financial note in order to do business and, Mr. Speaker, does this mean that the enterprise will necessarily run a deficit? Well, not really. It means that cash flows and

[Page 5563]

expenses do not always occur simultaneously. Business does not have the luxury to wait for prior approval. If an opportunity exists, it simply must take it.

Mr. Speaker, this is the way all business works so unless the Premier is looking to privatize all government services and resources, then he had better remove the shackles from around the hands of government enterprise. Perhaps this is actually the government's agenda and maybe this, as it has been termed, this Harris-Hamm agenda, is becoming a Klein-Hamm agenda. Perhaps the Premier even has an idea to privatize health care. That might be next, but I certainly hope not anyway. If the government is not looking to privatize everything in sight, then they should allow government enterprise to simply go about doing its business and they should continue to allow government enterprise to conduct their business as well.

Mr. Speaker, as I was saying, this legislation is not all bad. For instance, when a department wants to initiate a new program which was not budgeted for, then the . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. WILSON: Mr. Speaker, I move the debate be adjourned.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is to adjourn debate on Bill No. 46.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

[2:00 p.m.]

ORDERS OF THE DAY

ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order, there are a couple of ministers missing. Are they going to be in the House? Here comes Mr. Balser. Okay.

MR. SPEAKER: Question Period will begin at 2:01 p.m. and end at 3:01 p.m.

The honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party.

HEALTH - QE II: CUTS - NURSES

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I would like to direct my first question through you to the Premier. During the election campaign the Premier went to the QEH where he said that nurses in this province are still overworked and under-appreciated. He

[Page 5564]

went to hospitals, and he promised nurses a positive and rewarding work environment. Today, nurses in this province are waiting to see how many more duties are going to be downloaded on to their shoulders as $80 million worth of cuts are taken directly from acute care. The job cuts at the QE II which are hitting nurses today are just the start. I want to ask the Premier why is his government adding to the burden of nurses, who, in his own words were already overworked?

HON. JOHN HAMM (The Premier): Mr. Speaker, what we talked about during the election campaign and what we are doing now is saying that there are too many administrative charges, too many administrative costs in health care delivery. We want to direct more dollars to bedside care, to eyeball-to-eyeball health care delivery. That is exactly what we are doing. We are cutting administrative costs. That is exactly what we have talked about, and that is exactly what we are doing.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, much like in education, the government doesn't seem to have a clue what the impact of these cuts are in health care. Other provinces have recognized that the nursing shortage makes it more important than ever to keep and recruit nurses. That is why the six provinces and several U.S. states are at a nurses recruitment conference called Health Careers Interaction 2000 in Toronto this week. Nova Scotia is not there. I suggest to you that maybe it is because this government knows that the work situation in Nova Scotia is so pathetic that it makes recruitment of nurses next to impossible.

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: I want to ask the Premier to explain, why during a national shortage, nurses in Nova Scotia are being left behind in the race to recruit other nurses?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite perhaps has chosen to ignore the fact that we are putting in place programs to make nursing more attractive here in Nova Scotia. We are doing the things that will preserve the integrity of the health care system today, tomorrow, and years after that. The member opposite doesn't seem to realize that for three decades and more we have had deficit financing. It hasn't worked. It is jeopardizing all of our core services. What we are doing is coming to grips with the financial reality, something that every other government in this country has already started. We are finally doing it here in Nova Scotia.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, what we are talking about here today, we are going to be talking about it in some of our other questions, of the eyeball-to-eyeball realities of this government's cuts in health care and how they are affecting health care professionals. That Tory blue book that we have talked about promised nurses they would be able to properly care for their patients and that nurses would be valued. The exact opposite

[Page 5565]

has happened. I want to ask the Premier, when will he recognize that his policies are pushing Nova Scotia deeper and deeper into a nursing crisis?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I will agree with the member opposite that we do have a nursing crisis in Nova Scotia, as exists in other parts of the country as well. Solving that crisis will not be achieved unless we can provide less administrative structure and more money for nurses. That is what we are doing.

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

HEALTH - QE II: CUTS - DETAILS

MR. RUSSELL MACLELLAN: Mr. Speaker, the Premier likes to talk about eyeball to eyeball, but unfortunately, with the way this government is devastating health care in this province, we are not going to be able to attract the ophthalmologists. I want to tell the Premier that this wasn't what he was saying during the election campaign, that the Minister of Health, yesterday, said he had seen the restructuring plan for health care in this province and I asked the Premier if he has seen the restructuring plan? Will he agree and tell us that there will be more than 300 job cuts at the QE II here in Halifax?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I believe we have a competent upper-level administrative staff, something for which this government can't take credit, it was put in place by the previous government. Unfortunately, the previous government didn't support that staff they put in place. When the upper management at the Queen Elizabeth II Health Sciences Centre wanted to make constructive changes to make those institutions more efficient, the political heat couldn't be borne by that government and they caused that process to stop.

MR. MACLELLAN: The person who wanted to do that, the former CEO, is long gone and not a tear shed in Nova Scotia when he got on the plane. We managed to recruit the best hospital CEO in this country in Bob Smith, and now this government has just cut the legs out from under him by insisting that they try to do with, and operate under, a $28 million cut in operations. I want this Premier to tell us, how does he expect health care to survive in the way it should in this province with the demands he is making on the QE II?

THE PREMIER: Yes, it would be wonderful if this government had an unlimited supply of funds, if, in fact, the previous government had been responsible and had started us on the road to fiscal responsibility, how much easier it would be today. They didn't, and now it falls to us to do it.

MR. MACLELLAN: The QE II came in with $10 million in cuts, this government asked them to cut another $18 million; $28 million. When this government saw the devastation that was going to cause, they refused to approve the budget for the QE II. When

[Page 5566]

are they going to get the courage to approve the budget for the QE II so we will know the rest of this devastation they are causing in health care in Nova Scotia?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite's question is somewhat vague and obscure, but I would ask the Minister of Health if he can attempt to give some kind of an answer. I am really not sure what the question is.

HON. JAMES MUIR: The figures that the honourable member was using, he knows they are considerably inaccurate by about 50 per cent, but that is not unusual. The business plans that are being developed, are still in the final stages and they will be made available in due course.

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

HEALTH - QE II: CUTS - NURSES

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, the Health Minister has said that health care cuts will be found through savings at the administration level. We have just been informed that the nursing supervisor on Unit 8.2 at the QE II hospital has been given her pink slip. Unit 8.2 is the critical care unit for emergency intake patients. This unit was one of two medical teaching units. The nurse supervised over 50 nursing staff and gave direction on patient care to LPNs, RNs and physicians and my question to the Minister of Health is, is this what you mean by top level administration?

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I would ask the member to table that information for me because it is not something that I have seen. Clearly, he has some information. I want to tell you, we said it initially when we got into the budget planning process, and our budget statement said that there were going to be cutbacks in health care funding, as there is in every other budget except for Education. What we are trying to do is work out the budget so that the front-line care would be least affected.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, my question is again to the minister who describes himself as the unaware Minister of Health. This nurse had over 25 years of nursing experience. Physicians and nursing staff have repeatedly stood behind her because she repeatedly stood up for what was best for patients and what was best for her staff. Nursing staff were told by her this morning as she left that if they had any problems, they should call the supervisor of another unit, a supervisor who does not have nursing qualifications and who will have double the staff to supervise. Will the minister explain how this will improve patient care in Nova Scotia?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, again, I cannot comment directly on a situation that the honourable member mentioned. This is new to me. I have asked him to table the document, he won't table it. It would be very awkward for me to make a specific comment on a position

[Page 5567]

until I have the appropriate information. I know it doesn't bother them to talk without appropriate information, but I am a little reluctant to.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, usually we wonder what they know and when they know it; in this case we just wonder how little the Minister of Health actually knows. It is ironic that these cuts are taking place now, because tomorrow marks Florence Nightingale's birthday, a nurse respected because of her selfless dedication to the profession. Nursing staff have been calling our office to protest the cut to a nurse whom they found true leadership in. Will the minister explain how this cut will address the nursing crisis in Nova Scotia?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, we know that we have a financial problem here in Nova Scotia. We are paying over $900 million a year to service the debt charges. If we had that $900 million we could it put into programs. These people don't seem to get the message. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

HEALTH - QE II: CUTS - NURSING DIRECTORS IMPACT

DR. JAMES SMITH: To the Minister of Health, we learned today that seven full-time nursing directors' jobs vanished at the QE II. Yesterday in this House, the minister said that he couldn't give any guarantees that cuts would not have a negative impact on the QE II. Now he has probably had a chance to sleep on that overnight. Today, can he give any guarantees regarding the impact of staff reductions, such as the nursing staff, the director of social work, and occupational therapy being collapsed, those types of changes? Can he give a guarantee to the House that this will not impact negatively on patient care at the QE II?

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, again, I wish that if the honourable members had this information on a piece of paper they would table it so I could refer to it. I do know there has been a managerial restructuring going on at the QE II, but I do not have documents that contain the positions the honourable member is speaking of, nor that the honourable member for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour was speaking of.

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, we have had to ferret this out like everything else we have had to ferret out on this budget. I want the minister to provide some details of how the massive cuts at the QE II will affect other hospitals across this province. He is cutting the infrastructure and information technology. Six managers are gone in information technology at the QE II and there is no infrastructure in the province within the hospitals. How are these cuts at the QE II going to impact on the regional and local community hospitals?

[Page 5568]

[2:15 p.m.]

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I believe the honourable member is talking about the soon-to-be-formed capital health authority. There is going to be a common business plan for the health authority and the business plans of each of the individual institutions will go into that. We are in the process of developing a clinical footprint which will determine service. If he wants me to speculate on what this effect is going to be when they had no chance to shake down, that is not really possible.

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, the minister has been very secretive with his budget. If he has the Program Review relative to health and some business plans, then perhaps he should explain it here. We know what the game is here, to get the House closed down and then the slaughter and the massive cuts will be announced right across this province. What else can we expect? We are learning from the QE II. What about the other regional hospitals and what sort of impact is the minister prepared to tolerate within those regional and community hospitals.

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member yesterday raised the question of the issues of standards of health care service. We are proceeding towards the establishment of standards for health care delivery in all parts of this province. Essentially the standards, a good part of it, will reflect more or less a contract between the district health authorities and the government for provision of those services. Those contracts will be announced in due course.

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

HEALTH - CUTS: QE II - NURSES

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I want to go to the Premier. I just heard from floor 8-2 at the QE II, from the critical care unit for emergency input patients. The nurses on that floor are meeting to try to decide what action to take next. They are upset by the fact that the nurse manager has been given her pink slip.

As a physician, the Premier should know what the nurses know, that if you take that nurse manager away, it makes a difficult job even harder. I want to ask the Premier to explain to members of this House and to those nurses right now how this shows any commitment to health care at the QE II?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite knows that it is not an option for this government to simply throw more money at a problem because that was tried and it has not worked. The member opposite knows that the capacity for this province to borrow is now extremely limited. The member opposite knows that to do what we are doing this year, despite the savings that we are trying to achieve within the system, we still have to go out and

[Page 5569]

borrow $268 million. We have to, in Health, as we do in every government department, squeeze 100 cents out of every dollar and that is what we are trying to do.

I believe in the senior managerial abilities of those at the Queen Elizabeth II Health Sciences Centre. I believe that they will come up with solutions that solve our budgetary problems and, as well, provide acceptable, first-class health care at the Queen Elizabeth II Health Sciences Centre.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, the Premier in the last election campaign told Nova Scotians that they would make health care a priority, that he knew, as a doctor, what was necessary. He said nurses are overworked and under-appreciated. He said we needed to protect nurses and to hire more nurses in the Province of Nova Scotia.

I want to ask the Premier to explain to members of this House and to the nurses at floor 8-2 at the QE II how what he is doing right now, laying off nurses at the QE II, how that squares with his commitment to nurses and their front-line health care during the election campaign?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, it would appear that the only single living Nova Scotian who has not heard me say what we were going to do with health care is the member who asks the questions. What we have said is we will cut administrative costs so more health care dollars can go to those who are delivering the care. There is no other way for us to move; there is no other alternative for Nova Scotians. That is the alternative, and we are moving in that direction.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, there is not a Nova Scotian today who doesn't realize that this government and this Premier tried to pull the wool over their eyes during the last election campaign, and that he is doing now what he said he wouldn't do during the election campaign, and that is wrong. I want to ask the Premier (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please. Order, please. (Interruptions) Order, please. (Interruptions) Order. The honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party has the floor.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I want to ask the Premier, on behalf of the backbenchers and the front benchers, to explain to the nurses at the QE II, and the nurses in Truro who were going to talk about in a second . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: . . . just where his commitment to front-line health care went between the election and the day that the nurse manager on 8-2 got her pink slip? What happened to your commitment to nurses?

[Page 5570]

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, it is our determination that we will keep each and every one of our commitments, but one of the commitments is to get spending under control. If we are unable to do that, then the health care cuts you are seeing today at the management level will pale in comparison to what would have to be done if we followed the advice given to us by the members opposite.

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

NAT. RES. - SABLE GAS:

LAURENTIAN SUB-BASIN - JURISDICTION

MR. RUSSELL MACLELLAN: Mr. Speaker, for a long time we in Nova Scotia have felt that the delays in resolving the dispute in the Laurentian Sub-basin have just taken far too long. We believed that the federal government or Newfoundland was the cause. When the Premier was in Houston with Premier Brian Tobin of Newfoundland, the exchange went something like this: Premier Tobin said, I have asked the federal minister to bring forward a six month time-frame. The Premier of Nova Scotia said, I don't want to speculate on the chances. I want to hear what the federal minister has to say about the proposal.

Here we have the Premier of Newfoundland being bullish on getting this resolved and the Premier of Nova Scotia whimping out. I want to know why the Premier of Nova Scotia missed his chance to impress upon the federal government the need to have this resolved quickly.

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to have a chance to answer the question. What the Province of Newfoundland wants is for the process to go on. Not only are we simultaneously deciding where the line is, but at the same time deciding other issues, that if in fact the line is moved. It is the position of this government that the agreement that was signed in the 1980's correctly identifies where the line is and we are not going to budge off that line.

MR. MACLELLAN: Mr. Speaker, we have an excellent case, but that is not what the Premier of Nova Scotia is saying. He is saying we don't want to push ahead with this, while the Premier of Newfoundland is acting bullish. We have a great case; we need this resolved in order to get this work done. This government is afraid of its own shadow. They won't stand up to the federal government; they won't stand up to Newfoundland. When are they going to get some backbone and move ahead on this?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, it would appear what the member opposite is encouraging the government to do is to take a soft position, to say to the Province of Newfoundland, look, in order to get this thing started, would you mind if we negotiate moving the line? We don't feel it would be in the best interests of the people of Nova Scotia to enter into any kind of negotiation that involves a weak position relative to where the line

[Page 5571]

is. We are going to stick to that particular point. We have good legal advice that indicates to us that we should win that point. On the other hand, if we start negotiating what happens if the line is moved at the same time as we are standing up and saying that is the line, then that clearly will weaken our legal position.

MR. MACLELLAN: I am not asking the Premier to negotiate. I am asking him to move ahead on the arbitration and I think that that is what Premier Tobin is asking. Now, is the Premier of Nova Scotia going to go to arbitration? Does he support the arbitration? Does he support moving ahead as quickly as possible and if he does, will he please get up and stand up for the province and ask the federal government to move ahead?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the reason we are going to arbitration is because we were not prepared to negotiate with Newfoundland moving the line. That is why we are going to arbitration. We support the arbitration process, but we have also said that there is no reason why we cannot develop a joint management plan which is independent of the process that determines where the line is. We have said that to the federal government. That is our position and that is the point that we cannot get agreement on with the Province of Newfoundland. They want us to say, look, move the line and we will negotiate a common management plan as quick as the wink of an eye, but we are not going to say to Newfoundland that we are interested in anything else but the line where it was established in 1986. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

The honourable member for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour.

HEALTH - MIRA NURSING HOME (TRURO):

CARE - INADEQUACIES

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, we have just been informed of another nursing crisis, this one taking place in the Health Minister's own riding. The Mira Nursing Home, a private-for-profit nursing home in Truro, has recently been renovated and refurbished. You should see it. The place looks like a palace. It has a crystal chandelier from France, tiles from Italy, but when you open the door to the residents' rooms, you see IV bags hanging from coat-hangers off the ceilings. Staff have not been trained to do tube feedings that some patients require and only one nurse is on duty at night for over 50 patients. My question to the unaware Minister of Health, are you aware of this situation and what do you intend to do about it?

HON. JAMES MUIR: To the unaware member for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour, that is a brand new facility, not a refurbished one. (Interruptions) Mr. Speaker, the nursing homes in this province have standards which they are required to meet. That nursing home, to the best of my knowledge, is meeting those standards.

[Page 5572]

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, it does not surprise me that the minister is not aware of these conditions because this home is owned by the Gem Health Care Group. This is the same group that the minister selected to serve on the Advisory Committee on Long-Term Care Capital Infrastructure, the same committee that will oversee the development of long-term care policy recommendations to the minister. The conditions at Mira are so bad that three nurses have resigned because they are afraid. Nurses have serious concerns about patients' standards of care and nursing liability. Will the Minister of Health conduct an immediate review of conditions at Mira and suspend the participation of the Gem advisor on the committee until this review has been completed?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, there were two questions there I believe. One had to do with seeing if the Mira was meeting the standards and there is a process that will be followed and the Mira will be treated according to policy. The second part of the question was, are we prepared to ask the person from the Gem Group to step down from that committee and the answer is no.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, this matter requires the immediate attention of the Minister of Health. Patient care is at stake. Nursing staff safety is at stake. The minister talks about evidence-based care. What has gone so badly wrong in long-term care that a situation like this can develop under the minister's own nose in his own riding?

[2:30 p.m.]

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, again, I will reiterate. The Department of Health does have standards which these long-term care facilities must adhere to. These facilities are inspected regularly to see that the standards are met. If the standards are not being met, then staff will deal with it appropriately.

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

ECON. DEV.: JOB LOSSES - STOP

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Premier. Since the Premier's government came to office, 300 jobs have been lost at the Royal Bank to other provinces; Trenton Works have recently laid off over a third of its workforce; 75 jobs are about to be cut at the CBC; hundreds of jobs are being lost in Health, Education, Agriculture, and other government departments. Today, Sears is closing its call centre and getting rid of 800 jobs. My question to the Premier, is the Premier going to stem the tide of job losses, or is he content to see Nova Scotia go down the tubes?

[Page 5573]

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite has articulated jobs that are leaving Nova Scotia and that is most unfortunate. But I would remind the member opposite that the just-published employment statistics for the Province of Nova Scotia have reported the best employment rate and the lowest unemployment rate in decades.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I am sure those figures are comforting to the many people who are getting laid off or fired in this province. My first supplementary. The government is eliminating Connections Nova Scotia and has abandoned any future call centre announcements. In other words, the Department of Economic Development is out of business. Now Sears is leaving. If the Premier could play the fiddle, he might be of some use while Nova Scotia burns. My question to the Premier, will the Premier halt the drain of employment from Nova Scotia by restoring Connections Nova Scotia?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I refer that to the Minister of Economic Development.

HON. GORDON BALSER: Mr. Speaker, in a previous Question Period, this issue was raised, and I assured the members opposite that prior to shutting down or removing the Connections arrangement, we ensured that any files that were currently active in that arrangement were looked after. In fact, we are continuing to talk to a number of companies who are interested in locating call centres in this province. So the elimination of the Connections group in no way affected our ability to attract call centres.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, this department doesn't even have a budget left, and they are going out to talk to people. It is an absolute sin that the last five years of economic growth is being frittered away by a do-nothing government, a government closed for business, nobody home. Lights are out and they have gone fishing. My final supplementary again is to the Premier, when will the Premier act to create economic opportunity instead of acting like the bumbling captain of a rudderless ship?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I can say to the member opposite that my minister has brought out a strategy document. We will be making strategic investments in employment opportunities around Nova Scotia. I would remind the member opposite as I have had opportunity to do on previous days that we have created the largest job creation project in Sydney in decades in the short time we have been in government.

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

PET. DIR.: PT. TUPPER PIPELINE - UNSAFE

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, my question is through you to the Premier. The government is putting Nova Scotians at risk because it is refusing to ensure that the natural gas liquids line being built to Point Tupper is built to the safety of Canadian standards. According to the industry's tests of their own, as many as 50 sections of the pipeline between

[Page 5574]

Goldboro and Point Tupper may be below Canadian safety standards. I want to ask the Premier, when will you end the risk to Nova Scotians and demand an exhaustive remediation plan to ensure that the pipeline is built to Canadian safety standards?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I am assuming the member opposite is referring to the liquids line.

MR. HOLM: I did say that.

THE PREMIER: The member opposite is aware that the liquids line has been tested to a pressure that is in excess of four times the current operating pressure. It has been tested to a pressure that is double what will be the maximum operating pressure. The member is aware, also, that Lloyd's Register has been involved in this certification project. The member opposite is also aware that there will be ongoing testing through internal pigging during the 10 years that the line has been certified and if any test is failed then, of course, the URB will make the appropriate recommendation and take the appropriate action.

MR. HOLM: Mr. Speaker, the Premier will also be aware that the liquids and the natural gas pipes were built in the same trench, of the same kind of pipe and that they have the same defects. The Premier will also be aware that the NEB is saying that these problems need to be located and fixed through extensive testing. That is on the gas line. The Premier is saying, don't worry, be happy because it hasn't leaked so far so there is nothing to worry about. That is, in effect, what he is saying.

I want to ask the Premier, how can you possibly justify putting Nova Scotians at risk by not demanding the same rigorous safety inspections for the liquids gas line as the NEB is demanding for the natural gas pipeline?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite knows that the pressures to which the gas line is subjected are much different from those to which the liquid line is subjected. They carry a different material. What we can say is that the URB, which has responsibility for the liquids line, has provided margins of safety and there is nothing to lead government to believe that that does not protect the public interest.

MR. HOLM: Mr. Speaker, the Premier will also know that SOEP sees the problem because they are planning to reduce the operating pressure in the liquids line. Why would they do that, I ask, as the Premier says that there is no problem or that they see no problem at all. Maritimes & Northeast Pipeline Ltd. has already presented a remediation plan for the gas line to address the problems which are the same in the liquids line. I ask the Premier, will you, in the interest of Nova Scotians' safety, demand that the same, exhaustive remediation be undertaken on the gas line?

[Page 5575]

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite, when it suits his cause, is very supportive of the URB and very supportive of government not interfering with a quasi-judicial body but when it suits his interest, he takes the exact diametrically opposite position. Therein lies the difficulty that government has with anything the NDP or the Libercrats suggest. When it suits you, you are on one side of the fence and when it suits you, you are on the other side of the fence.

Either you support the URB or you don't. I think the URB has done a reasonable analysis of the pipeline and I am prepared to await their ongoing testing over the next 10 years.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

HEALTH - QE II: CUTS - JOBS

DR. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Health. The Minister of Health has been very secretive with the information he is receiving from the hospitals like the QE II and yesterday he would not share information, in fact, even perhaps made fun of us when we spoke in terms of job losses of over 300. Now, can the minister confirm that he has information in his department that would indicate that there will be 315, plus 103 people less at the QE II by the end of the year. Does he have that information and will he confirm it here in the House today?

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, the QE II is doing some restructuring of its management system. The QE II will be announcing these things, I assume in due course. I don't think it is my responsibility to speak on behalf of the QE II on such matters, they have a board and a management structure to do so.

DR. SMITH: That the minister would stand in the House today and say he is not responsible is absolutely unbelievable. That minister is responsible for health care in this province, he is responsible for the standards of care and he is telling us that you can take 418 people out of a system and call it restructuring? That is massive cuts. We are seeing seven nursing supervisors cut. We are seeing positions of directors of diagnostics and medicine; and cardiology and the manager from nuclear medicine; the treatment of cancer is discontinued. Can the minister confirm that those positions, that he has information on, is what the changes will involve? Those numbers of nursing staff and all the other diagnostic services and treatment of cancer.

MR. MUIR: I assume that the honourable member for Dartmouth East is referring to a document. I do not have that document and if he has it I wish he would table it.

[Page 5576]

DR. SMITH: I have asked that minister to confirm that he has information, some of which I am summarizing here today. He can come clean, he has been secretive and we have had to ferret out not only all the budgets, but the Health budget specifically, and he can confirm that here today. What impact? There are seven managers from information technology that will go from the QE II hospital. It is not possible to run an information technology, either within the QE II or within the Province of Nova Scotia, with those kinds of cuts. Can the minister confirm that he has information to that effect that will essentially gut the information technology initiative of this province?

MR. MUIR: This group on the other side, the Libercrats, have difficulty listening. To say that the information technology section at the QE II is going to be gutted, as the honourable member for Dartmouth East has said, is probably not correct. (Interruptions) Mr. Speaker, I don't know how many of those information technology people positions are going. but it could be that there is 170 information technology positions in that institution, I don't know that either.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax-Needham

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

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Education. Yesterday in this House, the minister seemed to just throw up her hands when it comes to special needs children. The minister said, "Quite frankly, we cannot meet the demand. I freely admit that." She went on to say, " . . . those children needing assistance will be given as much assistance as possible within our financial means."

Mr. Speaker, the right of every child to an education has been established in court decisions as a constitutional right. I would like to ask the minister to explain her statements yesterday in this House and how they square with her constitutional obligation to give a quality education to every child?

[2:45 p.m.]

HON. JANE PURVES: Mr. Speaker, it is the constitutional obligation to provide an education for every child. That is what our education system does and it is what it will continue to do. It will continue to do that despite the savings that school boards have to make, and we all have to make in every department.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I think it is time the minister read her own Special Education Policy Manual. The policy says, "The Department of Education recognizes and endorses the basic right of all students to full and equal participation in education." This disastrous Education budget makes a mockery of that principle. My question for the minister, when are you going to take seriously your obligations to special needs

[Page 5577]

children and provide a level of funding that ensures that this special education policy becomes reality and not just more Tory rhetoric?

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, the Nova Scotia Government, this one, the previous government, and the one before that, we spend money and effort on special education for children with special needs. The member opposite, I am sure she well knows that teacher assistants are there primarily for children with special needs, they are there for other reasons. I have every confidence the school boards will continue to provide the services to those most in need.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, this is a government that seems to know the price of everything and the worth of nothing. The special education policy talks about the fundamental educational human right of every individual to have their unique learning needs responded to on an individual basis. Those are her own department's words, not mine. Yesterday and again today, the minister talks about money. My question to the minister, why have you put a price on what your own department calls a fundamental human right?

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, what I would like to say to the member opposite, who cares nothing about money at all, is if we don't act to do something about the problems in this province, there will be no special education, no education period, and no health care, within 10 years.

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

EXCO. - POLLS: COST - JUSTIFY

MR. DAVID WILSON: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Premier. This government hasn't done much since it came to office, but one thing it has done a great deal of is polling. It polled in the fall, immediately after the election, and it did so again a few months ago through an untendered contract to RDI, the same firm that conducted polling for the PC Party in the last election campaign. On July 2nd of last year, the Premier said that the time for doing what the polls suggest is right has passed. My question, if the Premier still believes this, then why is this government spending thousands of dollars to poll Nova Scotians?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, what the member opposite will be aware of, of course, is that this government, over the last nine months has, in comparative terms, done very little in the way of polling. The member opposite mustn't be confused, what we were doing was an issue analysis to allow us to better determine what it is, by way of that screen, that Nova Scotians expected of their government. It was an issue analysis in comparison to bald polling. That is what the people of Nova Scotia paid for, an issue analysis that allowed Nova Scotians to tell government what they feel the important things relative to issues are.

[Page 5578]

MR. WILSON: Mr. Speaker, a polling analysis, call it what you want, last summer the Progressive Conservative Party said that they would follow the blue book if they were elected and now they have thrown that blue book in the blue box and they are running government by polling data instead. My first supplementary is, will this Premier commit today then to stop using polling to determine the policies of his government?

THE PREMIER: What I can say to the member opposite is that this government - in comparison to the Party that he represents when they were government that spent huge amounts on analysis and polling - has spent very little. Will I commit to not going that way in which we can determine what Nova Scotians think about various issues? No.

MR. WILSON: I would suggest that any polling you did in the Cape Breton East by-election showed you what people thought of your government, Mr. Premier, and if you are going to insist on using polling data to make decisions, then the people of Nova Scotia certainly have a right to know about it and they have a right to know the results. So, Mr. Speaker, will the Premier indicate whether his government or his Party did any polling on the specifics of his budget and what the results were?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I will check for the member opposite, but it is my understanding that any polling that the government has done that has been paid for the taxpayers, the result of that has been made public, but I will check for the member opposite.

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

HEALTH - QE II: CUTS - NURSE MANAGERS

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, we have just been handed the background notes to members of the media from the QE II on the cuts to that institution. Among other things, the notes say that 12 nurse-manager positions will be discontinued and their functions consolidated. It is clear that the Minister of Health should know that loss of leadership positions, or any nursing positions, impacts on the quality of care. I want to ask the Minister of Health, can he explain to us how the downloading of these positions onto the backs of nurses impacts on the ability of the nurses to meet their standards of practice?

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I would appreciate, again, if the honourable member would be kind enough to table that document and I can see it. I think one of the things that he said was consolidation. He is making the assumption that some of the other front-line nurses will be required to pick up some of those responsibilities. I expect maybe there will, but he also mentioned the word consolidation of positions and there may be consolidations of those. It may be collapsing positions to turn two or three into one.

[Page 5579]

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, let's hear from the document in its own words. "The budget plan, which has gone forward to government, would see an overall reduction of 315 positions by the end of the year. This is in addition to the 103 positions we announced to you in our original budget back in February." Mr. Speaker, 418 positions at the QE II. The minister knows that one of the things at the QE II was the rock-bottom morale because of their inability to provide the kind of care that they felt was necessary.

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

MR. DEXTER: Can the minister tell us how this kind of eyeball-to-eyeball care is going to increase or better patient care in Nova Scotia?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, in the original business plan I believe the 103 positions that the honourable member is referring to were positions by attrition. He has also mentioned an additional 315 positions, I think, whatever it was, and he has said that these are positions that basically are eyeball to eyeball with patients and if they are, I wish he would let me see it.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, one of the sad things about this is the government made much of its commitment into the IT sector. They said that is the way of the future. I want to tell the minister that included in this document is that seven positions are being discontinued in the information technology sector. I would like to ask the minister if he can explain how this is going to solve or how this is going to better patient care and the functioning of the QE II.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member will table that document, please. Thank you.

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member, I don't think, was paying attention. That question was asked by the honourable member for Dartmouth East about four questions ago. The impact of the seven positions he cites in information technology, obviously the QE II thinks it is possible to run their information technology section appropriately without those positions. It might be more appropriate if the member wanted to say how many positions in information technology are at the QE II, rather than citing seven.

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

TRANSPORT. & PUB. WKS.: NORTHUMB. G&CC - SALE

MR. PAUL MACEWAN: Mr. Speaker, I have four steelworkers from Sydney here today in the gallery behind me - I trust they are up there. They are seeking better terms from this government. I don't know if they have made any progress yet, I haven't heard of any. In any event, I want to ask a question to the Minister of Transportation and Public Works. To compare the way in which those steelworkers have been treated with the way in which this

[Page 5580]

government has sold the Northumberland Golf and Country Club at Pugwash for $1.00, after the John Buchanan Government bought it in 1985 for $85,000 and then spent $4 million, by the minister's own admission, and I would like to table this document here . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: I don't want it.

MR. MACEWAN: I know you don't want it but there, all right. Would the minister advise why he has decided to sell this valuable property for $1.00 and if he will fight for equal generosity for the Sydney steelworkers who are here with us today.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, there was an agreement made with a golf course and a club in Cumberland County approximately 10 years ago. As a result of those negotiations at that time, the government decided to make an investment in the county to bring tourists into that particular area to spend their dollars before they got into central Nova Scotia. As a result, they negotiated an agreement whereby the province would assume the costs of running that golf course, bring it up to 18 holes and make it into a tourist attraction, however, at the same time agreeing that if the province ever wished to dispose of that asset that the golf club itself should have first option to purchase for $1.00.

MR. MACEWAN: Mr. Speaker, the government doubled the number of holes at the golf club from 9 to 18 and built a clubhouse, invested well over $4 million and still is giving that club away for $1.00 and yet, at the same time, is keeping these Sydney steelworkers in a state of apprehension and uncertainty. I might ask the minster, instead of giving that club away for $1.00, if he perhaps might seek a price of $2.00, since they doubled the size of the golf course, or perhaps its commercial value. What was the commercial value of that golf course?

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I realize that gentleman is a member of a political Party that has no regard whatsoever for agreements. This Party does. (Applause)

MR. MACEWAN: Mr. Speaker, to the Minister of Economic Development down there, I would like to ask that minister, through you, sir, if he supports that give-away of valuable assets, the Northumberland Golf and Country Club, into which the taxpayers poured over $4 million? Will he fight for equal generosity in obtaining a decent pension package for the Sydney steelworkers?

[3:00 p.m.]

HON. GORDON BALSER: Could the member opposite repeat the last part of the question, please?

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Cape Breton Nova you have about 30 seconds.

[Page 5581]

MR. MACEWAN: The question is, will he fight for equal generosity for the Sydney steelworkers as was shown in the give-away of that golf and country club?

MR. BALSER: Mr. Speaker, as I have answered previously when I am questioned about the negotiations of the steelworkers in terms of their pension agreement, we are working through that and we will try to treat them as fairly as possible.

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

The honourable member for Lunenburg West on an introduction.

MR. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to introduce in the Speaker's Gallery a friend of this House, a friend who was here for a few years and we wish we had her back, Francene Cosman. I ask the members of the House to give a warm welcome to having her back with us again. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Eastern Shore on an introduction.

MR. WILLIAM DOOKS: Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure today to introduce from the Eastern Shore 45 young people from the Atlantic View School, also their teacher, Mr. Dobrowski, and five guardians which I apologize I did not receive their names earlier. We would like to thank you for coming in this afternoon. We certainly enjoyed our time of question and answer. If the honourable member . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member for Eastern Shore has the floor on an introduction.

MR. DOOKS: I would like to thank the students for their time in the Red Room in the question and answer period and invite you back sometime again. I would ask you to stand and receive the warm welcome of this fine House. (Applause)

[PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING]

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

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I believe we were involved in debate on Bill No. 46 - Financial Measures (2000) Bill. I am at a loss as to who adjourned the debate.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Cape Breton East has the floor. You have about 31 minutes.

[Page 5582]

MR. DAVID WILSON: Mr. Speaker, I think when we broke for Question Period, I was mentioning that perhaps this legislation is not indeed all that bad, and I was going to give some examples. For instance, when a department was looking to initiate a new program which was not budgeted for or that money was not allocated for, that program must wait for the next year's budget or the department would have to find the new money in its existing budget. I think we see this as a positive step forward in the budgeting process, because departments must be held firm to the money which is budgeted to them. I think we must also be cognizant of the fact that things sometimes happen out of our control. There are things such as natural disasters or other man-made disasters that can happen, and I am glad to see the minister has recognized those occurrences in the legislation as well.

Mr. Speaker, 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 2002-03 fiscal year. I seem to remember, and I have heard a great many speakers say to date that they seem to remember as well, during the election they would balance the books in year three. Again, 2002-03 seems to me to be year four, I am not sure. I know Opposition is taking some exception to that. I think some of us other than the members of government, are able to count, too. We can use calculators and, in this case, we don't even have to use one hand in order to come up with the fact that is indeed year four. No matter. I would also like to ask the minister what would happen in 2002-03 if he presents a budget which is actually forecasting a deficit.

There are lots of provisions for departments to table budgets and resolutions if they run over budget. This legislation also makes those departments make up the shortfall in next year's budget but there is nothing to say what will happen if the budget is not balanced. I seem to remember the Premier saying something about how Premiers should, I think the word was, resign, if their budgets aren't balanced. I am pretty sure I heard that somewhere. Perhaps now that he is on that side of the House he would like to make that commitment since it is nowhere to be seen, anyway, in this legislation.

Mr. Speaker, maybe the Minister of Finance would resign if he presents a budget to this House in 2002-03 which is not balanced. Well, why not, maybe the entire Cabinet could put their jobs on the line. As a matter of fact, nothing brings out the best, as I said earlier, like a little incentive. (Interruption) Like winning an election, that can bring out a lot of incentive and it can bring out a lot of other things as well, the member for beautiful Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley is absolutely right. That can bring out the best of things, as a matter of fact, as the member well knows.

If I could move onto something which I find quite ironic. The legislation contains a section dealing with how departments and government agencies report on their fiscal decision making. The legislation says that those reports and budgets and those figures have to be rational, fair, efficient, credible, transparent and accountable. Now the ironic part is that all of those things: rational, fair, efficient, credible, transparent and accountable, are exactly what

[Page 5583]

this budget is not, Mr. Speaker. It is no wonder that the Premier has told the Opposition to ferret out information. I think he probably knew that since those words were not in the legislation, the chances of any of his ministers being open and accountable was perhaps very slim. I would say 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 have said many times before that this government has no plans for Nova Scotia and this legislation mandates that the Minister of Finance still table four year projections in his consolidated fiscal plan. I wonder, Mr. Speaker, why that wasn't introduced with the last budget so that we could hear the minister's projections this year, and just maybe it could be because the minister has no plan whatsoever for the future of Nova Scotia, or could it because he doesn't want Nova Scotians to know the truth, that the financial outlook for this province is perhaps not nearly as bad as the government is actually saying. If that were to be the case, that would mean that all of these ridiculous cuts proposed, for instance by the Minister of Education, all of the cuts in Agriculture and all of the cuts in the Civil Service were not necessary. I think that is why the minister did not introduce those measures earlier.

I can assure you, Mr. Speaker, and I can assure Nova Scotians that we will be watching to see if this is changed next year so that the minister can get around this again. Unfortunately, by that time, all the one-time hits that have been piled onto the budget this year to convince Nova Scotians that the proverbial sky is falling will be gone, and I guess the minister could try and tell the people what a wonderful job that he has actually done. I think we know the difference and I think, as well, that the people of Nova Scotia will know the difference as well.

Mr. Speaker, there is another issue in this section that I would like to address with the minister. The minister, next year, will also be required to report for each fiscal year in a form the minister sees fit. First of all, it seems very redundant, from the standpoint that we already have financial statements in this province, so why would we need to see that information in yet another form? Is it, perhaps, so that the minister can portray his numbers in the best possible light?

I am reminded as well of the commitment the minister made to calculate deficit figures, going back all the way to 1993; he did not do that. The reason is it would have shown Nova Scotians that it was the previous Tory Government, of which he was a member, which gave Nova Scotia, in the first place, this giant debt which we are now dealing with. That is how far it goes back. The members on the government side of the House know that. I know the members on the government side of the House refuse to admit that, but I think everybody else knows that as well. The minister now wants to be able to do this every year, and portray the numbers in a way which will most glorify his efforts.

[Page 5584]

I think a lot of us have spent a lot of time going over the financial aspects of the legislation, and certainly there is a lot more to this bill than simply finance. I would like to get into some more of them now, if I may. The subject of income tax, which I am sure is near and dear to the hearts of many Nova Scotians; I know it is one of my favourite topics, especially at a certain time of the year. The changes being made to this Income Tax Act are going to mean a very complicated procedure for Nova Scotians. Income tax is complicated at the best of times; this will further complicate that procedure for the people of this province. What we are going to be left with is a dual tax system. Instead of becoming more competitive with other Maritime Provinces, we are becoming less competitive. I wonder, has the minister done a cost-benefit analysis on this new dual tax system, and what costs the province is going to have to endure?

Then there is this wonderful thing that they call bracket creep, and what about bracket creep? The Premier says that they cannot do nothing about it because that would amount to a tax break, and we cannot afford a tax break. You shouldn't look at it as being a tax break, you should simply look at it as being fair. The Minister of Finance says this is going to be revenue neutral, which is a wonderful term, but it is not going to be revenue neutral, it is not going to be that wonderful term. Nova Scotians, indeed, are going to end up paying more this year, and they are going to end up paying even more in the following years.

Mr. Speaker, if the Tories ever do get around to giving Nova Scotians a tax break, which I hope I am here to see, they would be doing it with the extra money that people have been paying, and that would be thanks to this decoupling. It would certainly have nothing to do with any initiatives that the government has put forward. It would have to do with the fact that Nova Scotians have been hit hard again by this government, and they will end up giving themselves, actually, the break that they so well deserve.

Mr. Speaker, as I said, there are a number of topics that I would like to talk on in the remaining time. Another one of them would be the subject of alcohol and gaming. The Chairman of the Alcohol and Gaming Authority has been removed, and the government is attempting to sever the chairman, like any other civil servant. The chairman has a very specific contract, which the government is breaking. When, or should I say if, the government consulted legal counsel on that issue, then I would like to know and I am sure many others would, did counsel say that they could win perhaps a wrongful dismissal suit as well? And how much is this going to cost the people of Nova Scotia for the government to disband these members so that in the future, as I mentioned before in another speech to this House, the Tories simply will replace them with good old Tory poll captains.

[3:15 p.m.]

On another subject, the Emergency "911" Bill. What is being reintroduced here, the user fee, they are actually reintroducing a user fee that they floated in the fall. The Opposition was successful in getting the government to remove this clause from their 911 bill this fall,

[Page 5585]

and at the time the Minister of Health said that just because the provision is there, it doesn't mean necessarily that the government will use it. Well, if you take a look at that statement - and that is indeed what was said - obviously the minister was trying to mislead Nova Scotians because here we are a few months later, and sure enough, the government has announced this user fee.

There are a number of questions that should be asked about that. For instance, who has the government consulted on this user fee? It is our understanding that MTT was not consulted until this was a done deal. Indeed, MTT, as everyone knows, is the telephone company that I would think would be consulted in some way, shape or form.

AN HON. MEMBER: You never know with this government.

MR. WILSON: Perhaps one of the honourable members is right when he says you never know with this government, and indeed you never do know exactly what is going to happen, but we can certainly state what should have happened was there should have been some form of consultation take place before this was a done deal.

I wonder if this is another example of open and accountable government. Does it not seem strange that the company who would be putting this very charge, the 911 charge, on their monthly bills, that that company should not have some say in this process? It also goes to show you the extent of the arrogance of this government. They have their agenda and they do not need to consult with anyone; that includes consulting with the everyday, ordinary citizens of Nova Scotia, of course, who should be consulted on a regular basis. Those are the people that this government has not been listening to, and they continue to ignore their concerns. We have seen it time after time on many occasions and on many topics.

On the subject of education, we are starting to see it now - on the subject of health as well - that this government has an arrogant agenda and they certainly are not willing to consult or listen to anyone. In this case, 911, dealing with the Financial Measures (2000) Bill, this is simply government by whim. They could not consult MTT beforehand because I honestly don't think they had any idea of where they were going or what they were going to introduce . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: They still don't.

MR. WILSON: And they probably still don't, before they did this.

The Halifax-Dartmouth Port Development Commission, I would think is another example - just one of many within this bill, but another example I have chosen to talk about at this time - of the Tories treating some long-serving Nova Scotians with utter contempt and disrespect. Many employees of the Port Development Commission were long-serving people who were in the twilight of their professional careers. This government has provided no early

[Page 5586]

retirement packages for employees, they have not offered any initiatives for bridging the workers remaining few years to retirement as well.

It is not surprising, Mr. Speaker, because that is the way the government, as I mentioned earlier, is treating a lot of people in this province and if I wanted to use another example, I could use the example which was brought up in today's Question Period, the example of Sydney steelworkers who, indeed, are not being consulted. They are not being asked and they are not being treated fairly either when it comes down to talking about pension packages, retirement packages and severance packages and the fact that they should have a say at the table of anything that is going to affect the rest of their lives. I am sure the employees of the Halifax-Dartmouth Port Development Commission would agree with that for sure.

We know that the government wants to control spending and we are aware of that, but I think we have to ask at what cost that is going to be Nova Scotians because I think, Mr. Speaker, we expect and Nova Scotians would expect that their government would act with a certain amount of compassion for people and not treat people like a faceless commodity that can be used and then just thrown away like yesterday's newspaper. I would think that the government should be, and I would hope they are, better than that and that they would have a sense of compassion and fairness and then Nova Scotia just became - well, if that is the example, if that is happening, then this great province that we live in has just become a lot colder place to live and raise a family as well.

I think that is on the minds of a lot of people these days, Mr. Speaker, that families are in jeopardy. I have mentioned in my own riding, I know a number of other ridings across this province where families are in jeopardy. Mothers and fathers and guardians are losing their jobs. It places those families in a precarious situation. In some instances it places those families in a position that they have never been before and I think what they are looking for, and I am sure the everyday Nova Scotian has no idea what a Financial Measures (2000) Bill is, but I think they are looking for something within something like a Financial Measures (2000) Bill, or within a budget, or whatever you want to call it. What they are looking for is that fairness and that sense of compassion that should be there on behalf of the people that they sent to this House to represent them.

That should be there whether you are an Opposition MLA, whether you are a government MLA, whether you are a Cabinet Minister, or whether you are the Premier of this province. The fact is that the people of this province put you there to listen to them, to show some compassion and to show them that indeed there might be some tough decisions down the road, but you have a government that will listen to you and will be compassionate.

One thing, Mr. Speaker, I don't think in this case that the Premier does not mind perhaps lining his own pocket, or the pockets of the Minister of Finance, because this government is certainly prepared to approve a budget, again to get back on my topic of the

[Page 5587]

port development authority for the year 2000-01 which is something that the government must do in order to properly wind down that authority's operations, but the government is also saying that any surplus which may exist from this budget will be divided between the province and the Halifax Regional Municipality. Again, the question, why will the government not commit to putting any surplus which might remain from that authority's budget towards such things for the employees of that authority, as an early retirement package for the employees?

Why not take that and give those employees a chance, to say, look, we are sorry, we are compassionate, we do feel for you, we know, and I certainly, I don't know about anybody else in this House, I am sure there are some, but I certainly can tell you, personally, what it is like to feel not to have a job and for someone to walk in to you, after pouring 20-some years of your life into doing work, in my case which I absolutely loved to do, and because someone decided it was time to downsize, to walk in and hand you a notice that said, you are no longer needed, you are no longer wanted. I can also tell you what it is like to take that same notice and to go home to your wife and your children and tell them you no longer have a job, and you are very worried about where you are going to get any money to put food on the table. I tell you, it is not a great feeling.

I personally hope and wish that no one in this House would ever have that feeling. Certainly my sympathy would go out to the employees of the authority and any employee as a matter of fact, in this province right now, who is receiving a pink slip. It is perhaps one of the worst experiences that they will ever go through in their lifetime, and it becomes, much worse when you have had a job where you were serving people, you were doing something you cared about, that you loved to do and that actually fed your family. It becomes a terrible feeling. I hope no one in this province ever has to feel that. I know they will, and I know it is going to be hard thing.

To get back to the topic of the Financial Measures (2000) Bill, it does give the government a chance to take this suggestion and say, in the case of the authorities, why not take that and turn it into early retirement packages for the employees. Why do anything else with it, I would ask? Why is the Premier so opposed to giving these employees who are so close to retirement that assistance in attaining the retirement they deserve? Why will the Premier not allow those employees to retire with dignity, which is the case we are all looking for?

Mr. Speaker, the economy, as I mentioned earlier, is changing on a daily basis. I think this Financial Measures (2000) Bill is perhaps the most glaring example of government ineptitude and even more so what is not in that bill is another glaring example of ineptitude on behalf of the government. I think during this time that I have been allotted to speak on this subject, in my own humble opinion, have made some good points regarding this Financial Measures (2000) Bill. I thank the honourable Leader of the NDP for that comment that I have done a great job. I think sometimes he does a great job, too. So, I would pass that on to him.

[Page 5588]

Mr. Speaker, as we have mentioned throughout, and I am sure during the much discussion that is to follow, the impact of this budget is going to have on this province, we still don't know. We still haven't really fully realized what is going to happen in this province. Again, I will go back to the fact that we were forced to vote as an Opposition on an incomplete package, an incomplete budget. Probably in legal circles, although I am not a lawyer, they would call it a lack of full disclosure, I would think. That is as close to a legal term as I possibly can come. If that full disclosure is not there, then certainly you cannot judge that case on all of its merits. We certainly judged it on the merits we saw to date, and they were slim and none. We were forced again to vote on an incomplete budget. How can we possible vote, as I mentioned earlier on this companion piece of legislation, because the budget had no hard facts, the details were not there, and we were left, although I am beginning to hate the term, to ferret out the information.

AN HON. MEMBER: Let's call it weasel.

MR. WILSON: In some cases, it is what is the difference between a ferret and weasel. I am not sure. Perhaps you could say one is on the government side and the other on the side of the Opposition. Again, Mr. Speaker, there is just no way the Financial Measures (2000) Bill, the government should be simply ashamed of the budget it brought forward. As I said, in the subjects, some of the big ones, health, education, agriculture is another one I haven't fully gotten in today, and I know my time is running out. Some of those big ticket items that are there, as I said, we have not seen the full effect of this budget and I am sure there is more to come in the future. I must say I am somewhat scared of what is to come in the future as well. The people of Nova Scotia have been devastated now almost on a daily basis as to what is coming from this government. Every day we come in here, I know, as a member of the Opposition, I just don't know what is going to happen next and what is going to come out of the words of the government over there. The people of Nova Scotia are telling us the same story.

[3:30 p.m.]

Again, Mr. Speaker, as I said, I think the government is hiding some of the facts to do with the budget and the Financial Measures (2000) Bill in this case. They have seen what the people of this province think about this budget because they have seen protests over education. I am pretty sure I am able to predict that they will see protests over cuts to health care as well. I am sure there are many more protests to come in this province which will finally tell the government, get the message through to them, finally, once and for all, as to exactly how much harm is being done. The Financial Measures (2000) Bill is just another example, as I said, of the total ineptitude of this government.

With that closing statement, Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank you for allowing me the time to speak on the Financial Measures (2000) Bill. Thank you very much.

[Page 5589]

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

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, I want to, as my colleague, the member for Sackville-Cobequid, says, take a few moments to discuss the Financial Measures (2000) Bill. We have had an opportunity to debate the hoist, which I thought was a very important motion. Unfortunately, the government didn't see clearly to a six month delay to give the people in Nova Scotia more of an opportunity to consider what this Financial Measures (2000) Bill will do and consider the implications of this budget. I am glad to have a second opportunity to discuss, in principle, what I think this budget will be doing and, on top of that, some alternatives that I think maybe the government - even though it is funny - in their wisdom the Premier spells out in a way in one of his answers in Question Period less than an hour ago, he said quite clearly that we have no alternative, this is the only way, he was talking about health care. I think it is important that all members take the opportunity to discuss to some extent what maybe some of those alternatives are.

I know that the Premier, given his ideological bent, given his perception, may think that there are no alternatives but I think it is important that every member of this House have an opportunity to speak. I would hope all members would take the opportunity to speak with regard to the Financial Measures (2000) Bill and explain if they think there are alternatives and, if not, then to give their hour or whatever part of that they may want to use, in order to sell their constituents on why this is such a good piece of legislation.

Obviously this impacts on a lot of areas in government, in fact, across the board every department is going to be affected by this, Mr. Speaker. I think it is important to recognize that in our budget of almost $5 billion there are three major departments that make up, I think, 75 per cent or 80 per cent of the entire spending: Health being a little under $1.7 billion, now with the cuts; Education, which I think is about $1 billion to $1.2 billion; and then Community Services, which is, I think, $600 million, maybe $650 million. So you add those three together and then you add on top of that, debt servicing charges of $900 million a year. That is an important cost. Any member of this House who does not think it is and thinks that the debt and the deficit are nothing but hysteria, are not living in reality and have not really thought through exactly what $900 million could do if we could spend that somewhere else.

I don't disagree that a government must be fiscally disciplined but what we are seeing in this government is fiscal obsession. There is not a fine line, there is quite a clear line between the two of them. Fiscal obsession is believing that the government's only raison d'être is to eliminate the deficit and pay down the debt. I would suggest to you that fiscal discipline is recognizing the need to eliminate the deficit and pay down the debt but at the same time balance that vision and that plan with the desire to ensure that every Nova Scotian has the opportunity to succeed.

[Page 5590]

How do we succeed? Well, I would suggest that we succeed through a government that is playing an active role. We see that. Even this government, obviously, spending $5 billion, recognizes a government that is playing an active role. Maybe these are different shades of grey. But, Mr. Speaker, clearly I would suggest that a government can play a more active role and do it in ways that are promoting an opportunity for our citizens to get better educated, to have a healthier lifestyle, to have access to health care when necessary, to have access to training and education when necessary, and to have job opportunities, which is not the case as it is today. The government does have a role to play in ensuring that our citizens do have the opportunities to succeed.

That's the balance. It is eliminating the deficit and the debt over the years. It took us 25 years to get into debt, it is going to take us 25 years to get out but at the same time, recognizing that as we do that we must be strategically investing in those areas that give our citizens the opportunities to grow, to succeed and to live their lives here, where most people want to spend their time.

I want to talk a bit about health care, education and community services. I want to talk a bit about taxes and taxation because this government - one thing that differentiated it from the other two Parties in the last election - claimed that it would give a tax cut. I think it is important for us to discuss to some extent how they are actually going in the opposite direction, at least in this budget, and how Nova Scotians seemed to have been deceived as to exactly what they hope to do with regard to taxation as well.

So, we have had a lot of discussion in this House, Mr. Speaker, about education, about the impact of this budget and we have heard from the Minister of Education on a regular basis, it has almost become a mantra that what the government is intending to do is to cut the cost, because we cannot afford the education system we have now. We cannot afford the administrative costs. We cannot afford the amount of money we are spending across the board in government but in her case, specifically the Department of Education, and that if we do continue on this pace, we will continue to have deficits, we will continue to have debts and it will result in the bankruptcy of this province.

Well, I think there are a couple of points to note on that. First of all, yes, we have a debt; yes, we have a deficit; and yes, they must be eliminated, but let's not create fear that this is an incredibly difficult problem that can only be overcome through cutting off our right arm, so to speak. We have had big debts before. We had them during the war, World War II, we had a massive debt at that time, obviously we had to go into debt in order to build up a war machine that was able to fight a war that was so important to Canadians and to everyone who believes in a free and democratic society.

[Page 5591]

Mr. Speaker, my point is that yes, we have a debt, and yes, we have a deficit, but I don't think it is proper to suggest that something like education is where we must do the cutting in order to fight off a deficit and debt. To the contrary, and this is what I have observed.

I have taken the opportunity to go around to the schools in my riding. I have taken the opportunity to meet with principals and to meet with parent-teacher organizations, home and school organizations and it is quite clear that we are actually under-funding education in many ways. We are not providing students with the opportunities that they could truly have and in the end what we are resulting in is a province that has a high drop-out rate, we have, I believe, a higher than average drop-out rate across Canada.

We have fewer students that finish a post-secondary education, we may have more that enter given our universities, but we have much fewer than the national average that actually graduate. We have a community college system that is actually not adequate, both in the number of seats and in the diversity of programs offered. Predominantly because it is a very recent thing that we have moved toward community colleges where before we had vocational schools and they were seen as a poor second cousin, almost a form of vocational high school as compared to post-secondary.

Mr. Speaker, if our province is to get out of a debt, if our province is to eliminate its annual deficit, it isn't done by cutting those areas that will result in Nova Scotians saving money in the long term and increasing their tax revenue. What do I mean?

Well, Mr. Speaker, the better educated the public, the better educated Nova Scotians are; the fewer who drop out of high school, the more who get a post-secondary degree or diploma; the better the job prospects, the longer term their jobs are. What does that mean? Well, people who have a post-secondary education, people who have long-term steady employment don't rely on social assistance, don't rely on EI as much, or at all. They are healthier, so therefore they are less of drain on the health care system. Obviously, they are not a drain on the welfare system. They are less likely to be involved in conflict with the law, with the justice system. These are all costs in the long term that this government will incur by cutting in education. That is why we said over and over that education is an investment, not a cost. This government doesn't seem to see it that way.

In the long run, the better educated our population, the longer-term jobs they have, the more skills they have, quite frankly, the more they pay in taxes. The more they are spending, and therefore, the more in taxes again. There is a multiplier effect in that, which means more tax revenue, which means we are actually growing our economy and it is resulting in us eliminating a deficit on an annual basis and a debt over 20 or 25 years by increasing our economic growth.

[Page 5592]

Mr. Speaker, I will give you an example, an extreme one. I had an opportunity to travel to Singapore a few years ago. It is a fascinating country because it is claimed to be a very free-market country. Quite frankly, it actually has very socially democratic overtones and undertones. I will give you an example. It is a small island, but you would be hard-pressed to find a building on that island that is more than 20 years old. Why? Not because of earthquakes, not because of typhoons, but because the government has a policy of automatically knocking down a building that is 20 years old no matter what type of shape it is in, and re-building it. They see that as a form of investment in their economy, through infrastructure, that then results in jobs being created, that then results in that money being spent by workers, that then results in that money being brought back in tax revenue. As I say, it is simple economic truth. Economics 101. There is a multiplying effect when money is put into the economy. Yes, it can sometimes result in inflation. We are not at that stage.

If the government invests in education in the long term, it will result in more tax revenue. It will result in better educated people who have less of a drain on the health care and welfare systems and the justice system. Mr. Speaker, that is the way in which we eliminate a deficit and a debt. I will talk some more about that in a little bit.

This government, on the other hand, seems to think we must slash now because in three years we must eliminate that deficit at any cost. Even if you accept that as a theory, let's look at it in a more short-term level. Revenues in this province, Mr. Speaker, are growing at a fairly incredible rate. I don't remember in my lifetime Nova Scotia having growth rates over several years of 3 per cent to 4 per cent per year, maybe even more. Because of the oil and gas off our shore, because of its distribution across this province, we have a large influx of private-sector money that is being brought into our economy, and it is helping to grow our economy. Now, one of the earlier members, I think it was the member for Cape Breton East, noted that a 1 per cent growth in the economy of revenue is approximately $35 million to $40 billion a year. So 4 per cent growth in revenues based on a 4 per cent growth in Gross Domestic Product results in almost $160 million extra in revenue. If this government did nothing, I would suggest just froze costs over the next four years, our economy would be doing enough revenue growth to eliminate the deficit, and then begin to pay down the debt. This government doesn't seem to see it that way.

Also, if you accept that there is an inflation rate and we should put 2 per cent into the growth of our government expenditures to match inflation, and there is actually a 4 per cent growth rate, Mr. Speaker, that would result in a 2 per cent growth, which would work out to approximately $80 million a year, which again, given that we have a $250 million deficit this year, over four years would result in the elimination of the deficit and beginning to pay down the debt. It is that simple.

[Page 5593]

[3:45 p.m.]

What is the problem with this government? Why haven't they seen it that way? This is not about economics, this is not about debt reduction, this is not about deficit reduction. Yes, we all accept that those are things that must be done, but this government is talking about a smaller government; you heard it from the Minister of Education on the news back in January. This is about a smaller government, this is about a government that must fight the bureaucrats who cut jobs, this is about a government that believes that government does not have to be an active player in our economy, something that, quite frankly, we have not heard in Nova Scotia since before the Great Depression. In Canada and the United States it has become an ongoing battle of the neo-Liberals and neo-Conservatives for maybe 20 years since the election of Ronald Reagan or a little earlier, but it seems to be waning in some parts.

Well, Nova Scotia maybe typically, is on the back end. Where every other place in the country and in Canada and the U.S. is beginning to discuss government as an active player. (Interruption) Yes, there are still those holdouts in Alberta and Ontario and some parts of the U.S., but the pendulum is beginning to swing the other way. What we see is this government is just beginning to get active in deactivating government. It is beginning to try to downsize government in a way that will structurally change it, will remove it from the economy, and will result in a lot less government influence over both economic and social policy. That is what this budget is about.

Quite frankly, if the government had actually spelled that out in their Budget Address, I might have applauded them, but it is all hidden, it is a subtext between the lines, so to speak. This government does not want to say that because they know they were not elected to do that. That is what is crucial about this and that is what those members across the way must understand. There is the difference between Mike Harris, Ralph Klein and John Hamm.

Ralph Klein and Mike Harris were elected to reduce the size of government; they ran on a mandate to reduce government, to do what they felt was right, to rein in government. They were democratically elected. John Hamm didn't run on that mandate, and that is why the backbenchers over there should be very worried, because there is a difference between doing something and thinking it is right and doing something and having the electorate support what you are doing. In the case of this government, they don't support it because that is not what they voted for. You misled them, you did not tell the truth in the election and, because of that, you will pay the price when the next election comes. That is important to note.

So, let's talk a bit about health care. Mr. Speaker, this government has talked about the need to cut health care and they did. I think it was something like $60 million or $70 million cut from acute care alone and, at the same time, there is a freeze on long-term care beds. Let's do the math in that area as well. This is simple, I don't profess to be a health economist, here is a simple little equation and, for fear of putting this on the record, I will say this, that

[Page 5594]

in retrospect what we need to do is invest in health care and invest in a way that will ensure the long-term viability of health care. Maybe previous governments tried to do that and maybe they didn't sell that very well, but it is important that we recognize that it needs to be done.

Let's talk about long-term care. I don't know the exact number of patients who are in acute care hospitals, the QE II, South Shore Regional, Valley Regional or the Colchester Regional, various regional hospitals, but it is $1,000 a day to keep a patient in those hospitals as a per diem. That is expensive, and there are a number of them. I would suggest hundreds who are long-term care patients, but there are no beds for them to go to. If we built those long-term care beds, and I am not talking necessarily about new buildings yes, if that is necessary, but there are already structures that have been downsized because of bed closings, there are already places that, you know, I gave the example before, in this House of something like the Halifax Infirmary, an old hospital in downtown Halifax that is no longer being used. The infrastructure is there, why don't we build a long-term care facility there, for example? Long-term care beds are $100 per diem, that is a saving of $900 a day.

Yes, there are some capital costs involved. I think we can limit it. If we invested in those long-term care beds, my calculation is that 500 extra long-term care beds and removing 500 patients who could be in long-term care beds as compared to acute care, that would save $160 million a year. That is not cutting nurses, that is not cutting beds, and that is not trying to create chaos in the health care system. That is investing in a way that is smart, that is prudent, that is recognizing that whether we like it or not we are going to need more long-term care beds. Yes, there is going to be home care; yes there are going to be people who used to be in long-term care facilities and manors, and I have them in my riding in the Oceanview Manor, Mr. Speaker.

AN HON. MEMBER: Now they stay at home.

MR. DEVEAUX: Yes, they used to have to go there, now they can stay at home, absolutely. Now there are patients who used to be in acute care who can be in long-term care. We sort of moved the goal posts of who can be in acute care, who can be in long-term care and who can be in home care. Yes, some are more cost effective than others, but what is important is that we ensure that we place them where they should be.

As our population ages, I think it is foolish to say that we don't need more long-term care beds. That is what we have heard from this Minister of Health in a release that came out a week before the budget. He said, we are going to put a freeze on long-term care beds. We don't see it as necessary to increase any. I am not sure where they are going to put them, quite frankly, they are in acute care beds now at $1,000 per day and if we can save $160 million by moving them to long-term care and then moving some people into home care, I would suggest that is the right thing to do. This government again has not had the foresight and the vision to see that as a way of solving some of the problems.

[Page 5595]

Quite frankly, part of the problem is they got elected on a mandate not to invest in health care. They said $46 million is enough. That will do it. Well, we haven't even seen that, we have seen it actually reverse and go the other way. They tied their hands in a way that prevented them from being able to move forward with an agenda that, yes, in the short term might have added a little cost to capital. Maybe that could have been dealt with through cuts in other departments, but in health care would have saved money in the long run - $160 million a year. That is a lot of money, that is a lot of nurses. That is a lot of primary care, that is a lot of preventative care and education and that is what is missing. Again, yes in the short term we can save money, but let's put that towards good use and that includes investing in things that make people healthier.

As I suggested, education is a prime factor in someone's health. Let's also talk about health education and promoting things that help eliminate some of the causes. Nova Scotia, as we know, is an overweight society generally and is a society that smokes more than average, is a society that has a higher cancer rate, and has other problems. It will take a long time to get over those, but we have to at least start moving in the right direction. We have not seen that by this government either. What we have seen is chaos through the district health authorities, we have seen a move towards reorganizing, shuffling the decks on the Titanic, as some would like to say, but not actually doing anything that structurally changes how health care is delivered.

The minister keeps saying that things will happen. But, you know what? Again, this government has not clearly explained where it is going. Maybe 30 years ago governments worked by saying trust us. But there is too much cynicism in the public these days, people need to be told, this is where we are going to go, this is how far we have gotten so far and I will tell you when we get there. We don't have that any more. We don't have that from this government, we don't have the commitment to explain where they want to take this province. I don't know why. I don't know what they are afraid of. I would suggest it is partly because their agenda is to minimize, is to downsize and is to de-activate the government's role and that is the problem and they know they don't have a mandate to do that.

Mr. Speaker, let me talk a bit about community services. The member for Dartmouth North is looking forward to talking about this later on this evening or early tomorrow as well, I believe. It is about investing. It is about ensuring that those in our province that are on assistance - they are not on assistance because they want to be - yes, there are some on the other side who actually think they are. I talked to them. Privately. That is a problem because they have this sense of belief that people on assistance just need a good, quick, swift kick in the arse and they will be able to go out, find jobs and we can save money and they will actually go out and do that.

Is that the right way of doing it? Well, it is tough love. There are some out there that say it can be done. I would suggest to you, Mr. Speaker, that isn't the right way of doing it. Again, short term savings to balance the books result in long-term costs. Why? Well, first of

[Page 5596]

all, let me start by saying you can't take community services out of context from education. Let's reflect on the fact why, as I mentioned earlier, we have people on assistance because the education system has failed them in some way, the government has failed them in some way and it starts by early childhood intervention. It starts by investing at an early age and helping those parents who are at risk or who are in poverty with their children to make sure those children are given the best opportunity to not have to themselves result in being tied up in a system they don't want to be. So let's start with a long-term plan of investing early, of working with parents to ensure their children are given every opportunity to develop properly and effectively so that they can become good citizens and have the jobs and the skills to ensure they don't rely on assistance themselves.

That is a 20 year plan, Mr. Speaker, I don't expect that is going to be done overnight. But at the same time, let's look at the shorter term. If we try to take people off community services who are single parents, for example, what are we doing with them. We are putting them in a position where the children are then given less chance to succeed. They are given less chance to get the education so that they then will not continue the pattern and the cycle of dependence on assistance. So, what do we do? We help those people find work, absolutely, where it can be found. Part of the problem is in this province, outside the metro Halifax area, the unemployment rate is dramatically high. Some parts of rural Cape Breton are at 50 per cent. Industrial Cape Breton, it is at a rate of 30 per cent, most likely. I know officially it may only be at 18 per cent or 20 per cent, but for purposes of reflecting on the fact that a lot of people on unemployment are no longer looking, therefore they are not statistically counted, I would suggest it is probably closer to 30 per cent. There are other parts of rural Nova Scotia where it is quite high as well, whether that be Guysborough or other areas.

Mr. Speaker, how do we expect people who are on assistance in those areas to get off assistance if there are no jobs? If the skills aren't there? It starts by giving them training. It starts by giving them the assistance. What assistance? Day care spaces in sufficient numbers to help them get off assistance. It starts by giving them Pharmacare extended to when they are working so that they don't feel there is a benefit to staying on assistance. These are all things that should be done. Yes, it costs. But, in the long run it will mean a much lower child poverty rate, a much lower rate of poverty over all, and it will mean more people working, more people who have the skills to create a province that will prosper.

I think the other aspect of this, Mr. Speaker, with regard to community services, as I said, is the creating of jobs. Here, it is sort of the right-wing agenda, and I don't deny that all Parties have bought into it to some extent, that government can't create jobs. I don't disagree fully with that, but also I would take exception with it to some extent. Government does have a role to play, and it is a debate I am looking forward to, having read the discussion paper of the Minister of Economic Development, I think Toward Prosperity is the name of the discussion paper. Some of the things he said in there, well you know, they play lip-service to a great extent to what needs to be done. But, on the other hand, you hear those buzzwords, buzzwords like get off the backs of business, reduce red tape. It is like saying you are for

[Page 5597]

fairness and equity. Everyone is for fairness and equity, but if we are serious about ensuring that proper jobs are created in this province, it is not by reducing red tape at such a drastic level that we are basically hanging a sign out saying we are open for business.

We tried that with Westray. We tried that with Curragh. We tried that with Clifford Frame. Look what we got. That is the problem. This government has a history of attracting the wrong type of employers. Yes, we need private-sector investment. Yes, we need businesses that are willing to come here. Yes, we need people to come here and invest to create training and to create jobs, not low-tech jobs, not $7.00 an hour telemarketing jobs - though if they come we will be glad to have them. That can't be the basis of a solid economy, whether it be in Halifax or Sydney or Amherst. We need good, high-skilled jobs that will result in long-term stable employment.

Quite frankly, Mr. Speaker, as I read about the EDS proposal in Cape Breton, someone said, well, why are they coming here, it is an American company? Someone pointed out, and this is directly related to the Financial Measures (2000) Bill, I will note, because it is all part of a vision for a budget and a vision for how the government will specifically address budgetary issues and how they run the economy. We had with the EDS deal, they are making $9.00 an hour, I think is the rate. On American dollar for dollar, that is $6.00 American. They get people who are fluent in the English language and who are able to have health care paid for them without the employer having to pay it. It is cheaper for them to set up here. What if our dollar goes up, or what if the American economy starts to collapse? Then there is a cheap source of labour that is fluent in English at that rate of pay, $6.00 an hour.

[4:00 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, do you know what, it is cheaper for them to run it in Texas then, and we have already seen it with Sears. They come here, they set up for a while, but when economic advantage results in them being able to go, they will go. I am not saying that people should come here and stay here forever. Companies come and companies go, but when we start attracting employers that are only here because of the bottom line, yes, bottom line is the most important thing for a business, but when they look at us and say I am here because you have got cheap labour, I am here because dollar for dollar, Canadian dollar to American dollar, it is cheaper for me to set up here, then we are flirting with a situation where these people will leave on the drop of a dime literally. They will move away when they know that there is cheaper labour somewhere else and, quite frankly, we cannot win that battle.

Eventually people in Manila and people in Jakarta and people in Saigon will speak fluent English and they will do it for 10 cents an hour. Mr. Speaker, if we continue to fight our battles based on lowest common denominator, based on cheap labour that we are willing to sell to other people outside this province, then we will always lose. As I stated, what we need to do in the long term is have a skilled workforce. We have one now, but we have to keep building on that.

[Page 5598]

Mr. Speaker, we also need to have, in the short term, those employers who are willing to come here. They are great examples. Employers who came here, whether it be 30 years ago or 10 years ago, set up, trained their workers and helped create long-term jobs. The example I like to give is Pratt & Whitney at the airport. I have been through that plant at Pratt & Whitney, they make parts for airplane engines there. They came here and I think they started with 200 jobs. Then they started working with TUNS on research and development. They recognized that, through TUNS, they were able to design a process that made it cheaper for them to build those parts of the aircraft engine here, cheaper than anywhere else in the world. They expanded, I think there are 300 or 400 employees there now. It is an incredibly safe workplace, an environmentally friendly workplace, I could stand to be corrected, but that is my understanding.

Mr. Speaker, it is a place where they have used Nova Scotia research and development. They have used the skills of our workers and they have invested in our economy for the long term. That is the example of what we must do, build those kind of partnerships where employers are coming here because they know we have assets beyond cheap labour that will result in them being able to both satisfy their bottom line, and also ensure they are able to build long-term investment in this province. That is what is important. (Interruption)

The member for Sackville-Beaver Bank is commenting on the fact that they use contract workers. Well, you know, this isn't necessarily a perfect world. What is important to recognize is that if we are building partnerships with the private sector business must recognize we are not going to do it based on cheap labour. We are going to do it based on the benefits that we have: skilled workers, universities with research facilities that can help with research and development, a beautiful quality of life and a good opportunity to grow and invest. That is what is important.

Here is the crucial factor, and this is what is missing from the toward prosperity and what I will predict is where this government is going and why we have had Westrays in the past. It is not based on deregulation of things like health and safety and environment. It is not based on turning a blind eye to those crucial forms of regulation that protect our health, our safety and our environment. Employers will come here and want to set up shop, but they will do it when they know what the bottom line is and what they know are the rules. We can set rules that will protect our workers, will protect our environment, will protect our citizens, and that is what needs to be done, Mr. Speaker.

I actually started talking about Community Services, and my point was that first we have to create jobs and then we can start talking about reducing welfare rolls. Quite frankly, there has been a reduction in the welfare rolls of this province, I said this to the Minister of Community Services during Supply debate, of around 4,000 or 5,000 a year. He likes to think they are doing things that are going to improve on that. I would suggest it is the economy in Halifax that has resulted in the reductions, and if it was not for the drastic changes in Cape Breton, it would probably be an even more dramatic cut in welfare rolls in this province, but

[Page 5599]

the problem is that until we start eliminating the chronic unemployment in other parts of this province, we are not going to be in a position where people can get the jobs. You can have all the training in the world, you can have all the skills, you can have all the day care spaces, but there have to be jobs and the government must be committed to creating good jobs, long-term jobs, not short-term, cheap labour jobs that will only result in our province driving ourselves further down into the pit of deregulation and debt and environmental problems.

I want to talk a bit about taxes. During the election I was driving down Cole Harbour Road and that divides my riding from that of the member for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour. There was a sign up on my side, put up by the Tory candidate; it said, you deserve a tax break, vote PC. Well, you know I have been able to talk to a lot of constituents of mine since the budget came out. The member for Cape Breton West is wondering where it was. It was right between the IGA and the Lawton's on Cole Harbour Road in my constituency. I am sure it was done by others as well - you deserve a tax break - almost like a McDonald's sign, you deserve a break today. Well, it ain't coming today and I doubt it will come tomorrow and I doubt that it will come in three years, or at least any semblance of one.

The tax increases in this budget and in this Financial Measures (2000) Bill are astounding. This government likes to talk about the fact that they want to reduce taxes. They got elected saying they would do that, but not before they raised taxes and then claimed they cut them. That is the real problem - user fee is a tax is a tax, let's remember that. Whether I want to go get a license to drive a car or whether I want to pay for my drugs if I am on Pharmacare or whether I want to get certain services from a hospital, there are new user fees I am going to have to pay and those are forms of taxation because it increases government's revenue and puts money in their coffers. That is a tax. You can call it whatever you want but it is a tax. There are over $30 million of those in this budget.

Now, if they had actually increased taxes by $30 million, people would be screaming and yelling, but this government has done it in a very stealth manner to try to avoid that kind of upset. I will tell you and I will tell them, come the next election we will be reminding the people of these tax increases.

Now let's talk about the second form of tax increase, Mr. Speaker. The federal government cut our taxes when they announced their budget in February. We were all ready to get that tax cut. Obviously we will still get the federal portion but our provincial taxes are based on a percentage of the federal tax - I think it is 58 per cent or 56 per cent, I can't remember. I just did my taxes, I should know this. At a certain percentage of the federal tax is our provincial tax. So if the federal tax goes down, our provincial tax, as a percentage of that, will go down as well. So we were all ready to get a very nice tax break from the federal government and then, of course, the provincial component of that.

[Page 5600]

Instead, this government has opted out of the federal tax system, it is going to set up its own tax system and, because of that, they have opted out of the tax cut that the federal government had provided to us. Now what does that mean? That means a tax increase. (Interruption) Well, the Minister of Finance says it doesn't.

Let me rephrase it then. I do not expect him to agree with me on this but let me rephrase it - it means - you know the best thing is there was, I think it was MacKinnon in The Chronicle-Herald had a really good cartoon where it had the federal government with a bat hitting a ball, and I think the ball was a tax cut and there were the provincial citizens out there ready to get the ball and then there was the Minister of Finance with his catcher's mitt, cutting it off. That is exactly right. (Interruption) Oh, it was a first baseman's mitt, I am sorry. It was the first baseman's glove, not a catcher's mitt, the Minister of Finance tells me, so okay.

The point is that what this was, if it wasn't a tax increase, it was eliminating an anticipated tax cut. Thank you, the Minister of Finance agrees with that, eliminating an anticipated tax cut. So that is what happened, eliminating an anticipated tax cut.

Now, Nova Scotians were anticipating that, were expecting it. Some of them might have already been dreaming about that car they would have gotten with that extra money but, instead, this government felt it was more important that they keep the revenues up in a way that would ensure that in three years, when they decide to give us a tax cut, or so they promise, they can say they have cut taxes when, in fact, what they have done, through user fees and this elimination of an anticipated tax cut, have actually increased our tax load and therefore, the tax cut is nothing more than bringing us down to the level we would have been at anyway. It is deceptive. It is a form of accounting practices that, not being an accountant, I can't speak much about it, but I know the Minister of Finance is, and I am sure he is very well aware of how the books can always be worked in a way to always make perception reality.

As I said, Mr. Speaker . . .

MR. BARRY BARNET: That's unparliamentary.

MR. DEVEAUX: Well, if the member for Sackville-Beaver Bank wants to stand on a point of order about unparliamentary, I would be glad to hear his argument, otherwise, Mr. Speaker, I want to make it clear that a lot of constituents in my riding were anticipating a tax cut. They were anticipating that their taxes wouldn't go up, there would not be new user fees, there wouldn't be the elimination of an anticipated tax cut. That is not what they got, and a lot of them are disappointed.

I have listened to them; they have called me on the phone. I have got a lot of e-mails about this, about education and, again, it goes back to the crucial point: this government had a mandate to do certain things. I will accept that they had a mandate to cut taxes, they haven't

[Page 5601]

done that, and they haven't done what they said they would do when they ran in the last election. They have done the contrary, and that is why the people of Nova Scotia are so upset. That is why in all conscience, as a member of this Legislature, I can't vote for the Financial Measures (2000) Bill.

Quite clearly, Mr. Speaker . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: You are not voting for it?

MR. DEVEAUX: No, I am not voting for it. I wasn't sure if through this debate there was some confusion (Interruptions) I know that the members over there were actually . . .

HON. NEIL LEBLANC: If there is a tax cut, you will vote for it?

MR. DEVEAUX: Well, the Minister of Finance has a good point. He says if there was a tax cut, would I vote for it. You know what, I would have at least respected the government for keeping some promises, which is something they haven't been able to do. (Interruption) That is a maybe, yes. I would have to re-evaluate it based on its conditions, and that is a hypothetical question, so you know I don't want to answer a hypothetical question.

So, Mr. Speaker, what we have with regard to this budget is action that moved contrary to what they promised in their election platform and in the mandate they were given. People of Nova Scotia voted for this Tory Government because they felt that they could both be fiscally disciplined - and this is, again, crucial - fiscally disciplined, but not fiscally obsessed that they would ensure that over time the deficit would be reduced and the debt would be reduced. But if you look through the 243 promises they made, they also talked about the other side. They talked about ensuring education priorities would be met, that health care would be saved. That is what they talked about, and that is what people expected when they voted Tory in the places where they did, and elected 29 members.

But, Mr. Speaker, that is not what they are getting. This is what will, in the end, sink this government, and this is why this particular Financial Measures (2000) Bill will come back to bite them later on, because this budget does the complete opposite. It is fiscal obsession, and you hear from the Minister of Education and the Premier, on a daily basis in Question Period, that this budget is about cutting our debt and deficit, and we will do it no matter what it takes. Maybe that means services are cut; maybe that means things that should be invested in to help grow our economy will be cut but, in the long run, it still must be done. That is fiscal obsession and that is not what the people of Nova Scotia voted for.

I guess I can sum this up, Mr. Speaker, in one way, in three words: slash and burn. This government has taken the approach of slashing and burning the budget in order to eliminate the deficit within three years and then to begin paying down the debt. As I said, yes, maybe you will reach that first goal of eliminating a deficit. I have no doubt you will reach that, but

[Page 5602]

a debt that we have of $11 billion cannot be eliminated by short-term slashing and burning of the government spending.

It will only result in a population that will not become healthier, that will continue to be a drain, and even a greater drain on our health care system, and that means more costs. It will only result in a less-educated population, a population that doesn't have the job prospects, and that will be a drain on government coffers. It will result in a population that is more dependant on assistance, and that will be a drain on government coffers. In the long run that will mean this government will not eliminate the debt, it will continue to struggle year in and year out based on the slash-and-burn mentality of balancing the short-term deficit, but will never be able to pay down the debt.

If we took a different approach, an approach I have in three words - grow and invest - we could result in a government that can pay down the deficit, maybe not three, maybe a few more years, but what it would result in is long-term structural change that would result in debt reduction. We would have a population that then is able to get long-term work, is healthier, is less of a drain on assistance, is less of a drain on the justice system, and is better educated, and therefore would result in a population that is paying more taxes, more revenue for government, less spending for government and that is how we will end up paying off the books, getting rid of the debt and beginning to move ourselves forward.

[4:15 p.m.]

The Minister of Finance - when he started his speech, and I think it was one of his first words and I wish I had my copy of the Budget Address in front of me - he specifically said Nova Scotia can be a have province some day. That is the kind of specific vision I like to see in a government - some day. I think that Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz sang a song about that.

Mr. Speaker, I agree, Nova Scotia can be a have province but the slash and burn mentality won't do it and it will only result in us never becoming a have province. Quite frankly, in 133 years of governments in this province - the member for Kings North has provided me with a copy of the - oh, it is in the third paragraph - "A budget that will position Nova Scotia to be a 'have' province sooner rather than never." Well, that is what he said, not some day. "A budget that will position Nova Scotia to be a 'have' province sooner rather than never."

Well, you know what, I am not a mathematician but never sounds like an infinite amount of time and sooner than never means no specific date. My point is this, that if we want to be a have province, we can do it. In 133 years of governments in Nova Scotia, since we came into Confederation, we have been doing the opposite. We have been selling ourselves short; we haven't been investing in the proper things; we haven't been taking a lead. This province would not have universal Medicare if it wasn't for other provinces that took a lead. This province would not have pensions if it was not for other provinces that took a lead. We

[Page 5603]

used to be a leader; before Confederation this province was the economic engine of Canada and was moving in a direction that clearly ensured that we were prosperous; we had confidence, we were able to compete with anyone else in the world. (Interruption)

That's right, the Minister of Economic Development points to the painting of Joseph Howe and says that he was a visionary. Absolutely, and we have had them since.

AN HON. MEMBER: A good Tory.

MR. DEVEAUX: I thought he was a Liberal, actually. (Interruption) He was eclectic, there you go. Do you know what, Mr. Speaker? If there was a New Democratic Party in 1848 or 1858, he would have been a New Democrat, that is my suggestion.

Anyway, back to my point. The minister keeps getting me off track of the Financial Measures (2000) Bill. So the point is, how do we actually get from here to there? This is the whole point of the Financial Measures (2000) Bill, there is no vision here, there is no long-term plan with short-term steps that allow us to achieve our goal of being a have province, which is what the Minister of Finance specifically identified in his budget. He talks about it but does nothing to get us there. Slashing and burning won't do it. Yes, there is a short-term goal of deficit elimination but no ability to achieve a long-term goal.

We have the people in this province, we have the resources, we just need to use them right and invest appropriately - not in everything, not in every way, but in ways that will ensure that we are able to accomplish our goal. If we are to eliminate the debt, if we are to make opportunities across this province for Nova Scotians to have jobs in their communities, to grow up in their communities, to marry and to have children and to work a lifetime and to retire in their communities, it will only happen by making this a have province. That could only be done through some very specific changes that I don't see in this Financial Measures (2000) Bill and I don't see that vision from this government that will enable them to accomplish the goals.

Quite frankly, if you talked to Nova Scotians, whether it be in the cities or the towns or the countryside, they talk about this. They don't want to pack up and move, they don't want to close their farms, they don't want to move from fishing villages. That has been going on for generations and it has only been expedited greatly over the last 10 or 20 years because of the fishery crisis, because of farm policies, because of forestry policies. People are leaving, many of them are coming to Halifax. I see it in my own area, and I am looking at the member for Eastern Shore, he has parts of his riding, like Lawrencetown, that are growing at a very quick rate. Porters Lake, which I believe is in his riding as well, is growing rapidly because so many people are moving here from other rural parts of Atlantic Canada because they can't get work there and they are coming here for jobs.

[Page 5604]

In my area I have a subdivision called Heritage Hills, and I don't know the specific number but a good number of those people are from Newfoundland and from Cape Breton and from other parts of rural Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and P.E.I. because they came here for work. They are here to find work because Halifax is one of the only places in Atlantic Canada that has built sort of a critical mass of economic development, not by any thanks to the government, just by pure luck.

Mr. Speaker, that has resulted in an exodus from rural Nova Scotia and they don't want to be here. What many of the Newfoundlanders do on a regular basis is get in their car and drive over to North Sydney, take the ferry over, and cannot wait to be back in Newfoundland and to be part of the culture that they love so much. The same thing goes for Cape Breton. The same thing goes for Yarmouth and the same thing goes for Pugwash. They don't want to be in Halifax, but a lot of them have had to move and maybe they come here for that very reason, because it isn't Toronto, it isn't Calgary, and they know it is close enough that they can at least get some taste of that culture and know they are only a matter of a short drive away, whether it be two hours or 10 hours, but they know they are close enough to be able to keep in touch with those cultural roots.

There is the old saying, Mr. Speaker, you can take the boy out of the Maritimes, but you cannot take the Maritimes out of the boy. My point is this budget does nothing to ensure that the boy and the girl will stay in the Maritimes, will stay in Nova Scotia, will stay in rural Nova Scotia, and be able to prosper. There is nothing in here to ensure that we can create a viable economy throughout Nova Scotia and do it in a way that ensures that people can prosper in their own homes, in their towns, in their communities, without having to leave. That is the problem with this budget. It lacks the vision and it lacks the specifics to ensure that we have a viable economy throughout Nova Scotia. That is what is wrong with the Financial Measures (2000) Bill and that is what is wrong with this budget - a lack of vision and a lack of plan.

As I have said, there are clearly problems with this budget, but it is about different priorities. Again, if the government had come out with a vision and a plan, I might not agree with it, but they won that election and if they had a mandate to develop a vision and plan that meant smaller government, that meant removal of agricultural funding - in fact, I heard the Minister of Education say this in Question Period. He said we are cutting agriculture because we have moved from 5,000 farms to 1,800 farms in the past 10 years. So let's keep shrinking in order to get that down to what, one farm? I don't know where he is going, but there seems to be some rationale that the Department of Agriculture should keep cutting because it is important that we keep the process going of eliminating farms altogether, I guess, because they have cut from 5,000 to 1,800 in 10 years. At this rate there will be none left in 10 years if you extrapolate it.

[Page 5605]

So, Mr. Speaker, that is the point. This is the real bitter irony of this. Of the 29 seats this government has, I think all but what, five, (Interruption) I am sorry, 30, yes, I keep forgetting the Speaker as (Interruption) That is right. Given the 30 seats this government has, the vast majority of them are in rural mainland Nova Scotia with farms, with forests, and with fish. Those are the primary resource-based jobs that support the people who voted for them. What are they doing to protect those jobs? What are they doing to ensure that those jobs are going to be remaining and that there are opportunities for them to stay in their community?

They are not there and, quite frankly, you might have expected this from a government that was Cape Breton-based or a government that was metro-based because that is where most of their seats were, but you would not expect it from a government that was a rural government. You would not expect it from a government that, quite frankly, got elected because those people thought that those were the members who were running, who put their names on the ballot, who would actually try to ensure that their way of life would be maintained, whether it be on a farm, or whether it be resource-based, or whether it be someone who works in some sort of service in those communities.

This government is expediting and rapidly increasing the death of rural Nova Scotia. They do nothing to address it in this budget and that is the real shame. When I look at the front bench and look at the number of members who come from rural Nova Scotia, and I don't know if they know it because they have not acknowledged it in their budget and they have not acknowledged it in the Financial Measures (2000) Bill, but if we turn that around, and I will give an example of Moses Coady, you know, someone who said let's create economic development in our communities. Let's create jobs. Let's create good prosperous long-term jobs based on community involvement, based on cooperatives, based on ensuring that we will develop economic strength in our own community. That is what he did through the Antigonish Movement and it worked very well.

I am not saying that is necessarily the example we need now, but what we do need is some example of how we are going to promote, maintain and develop new jobs in rural Nova Scotia. Is it through a Forests Act and regulations that have recently been passed that do nothing to prevent overcutting of our forests? No, that isn't going to do it. Is it based on an Agriculture Department that is to be gutted and there are no services, particularly for those farmers who can't afford the cost of having to go out in the private sector and get the help of a specialist and technicians? I don't think so.

Clearly, this government has not articulated a plan as to how they will help rural Nova Scotia survive. That is what is most devastating about this Financial Measures (2000) Bill and about the budget, that they do not have a plan to help the people, the very people that elected the vast majority of them.

[Page 5606]

I think there are some other components of this. Yes, I guess it is about job creation, yes, it is about a plan, yes, it is about ensuring that Nova Scotians - whether they live in Halifax or Argyle or Victoria County have the opportunity to succeed where they want and particularly in their own communities.

I will give you another example and that is around environment. We have some major environmental hazards and we shouldn't look at them as negatives. Yes, they are, they are health hazards, but if we want to reduce health care costs, if we want to create jobs why don't we start addressing some of those environmental hazards, whether it be Boat Harbour or whether it be the tar ponds or whether it be the remediation of the coal mines that are being closed? There are opportunities for Nova Scotians to get good, long-term work to research and develop new technology that can be used and exported overseas and at the same time reduce health problems.

That is an investment. That is a plan that would help ensure that Nova Scotians could and would be able to succeed. I don't see that in here as well.

I have had an opportunity to talk about, on a provincial level, some of the concerns I have about this budget. I haven't talked as much about my own riding. I did that specifically when I discussed the hoist motion and about some of the specific problems and how the budget will impact on my specific riding. I think it is important to summarize. There is one method of resolving a deficit and a debt crisis and it is slashing and burning. Yes, it will eliminate a deficit in a short period of time, but it will not eliminate a debt and it will not ensure that it does, in the end, result in us having the economic strength to pay down the debt.

The other is to grow and invest. The other is to recognize that if we strategically invest in those things that help us, that ensure prosperity, then we can succeed. Yes, it may take a little longer to pay off the deficit, but in the long run we will be able to pay down a debt that would not be paid through a slash and burn way of doing things. That is the difference and as I said earlier on in this speech, this isn't about deficit, this isn't about debt, this is about ideology and it is about a government that believes a smaller government and reduced spending by government will solve all our problems. On this side of the House, particularly in this Party, it is our position that that isn't the case. Government must play an active role, government must be in a position to invest, government must be in a position to do its job to create an atmosphere whether it be with partnerships with private sectors to create jobs, whether it be through investing in education - early childhood, secondary and primary, and post secondary - or whether it means saving money through health care changes that will make fundamental structural change; not just glossing it over with chaotic procedural changes.

If the government takes that kind of active role we can achieve a have province. We can make Nova Scotia succeed, we can create a province that whether you are in an urban or a rural area, you have the opportunities to grow, to be educated, to get married, to have

[Page 5607]

children, and to retire. That is what it is about. That is the ideological difference. That is the divide that we see personified in the gap between us and them in the centre of this Chamber. That is why, in the next three or four years, but particularly in this Financial Measures (2000) Bill, we are having a debate about the direction of this province. The government hasn't spelled it out, but I think it is important for us, as Opposition members to take the time to spell it out. That is the difference and that is how we can succeed and that is why ideologically I cannot support this budget and why I know that most Nova Scotians don't support it either.

If this government had been honest with the people in 1999, if they were honest with them now as to why they are doing this and stop hiding behind the skirt of deficit cutting and supposed debt cutting and elimination, and admit that this was ideologically based, then they would truly be able to be judged by the people of Nova Scotia. I know what that judgement will be, but I guess we will have to wait for four years. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

[4:30 p.m.]

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

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise and make a number of interventions on this particular piece of legislation on second reading, Bill No. 46, An Act Respecting Certain Financial Measures. At the outset, I guess it would be also safe to say that for all intents and purposes from a practical point of view, the budget has already been passed, and this is a bit like an Act or the regulations component of the Act. The government essentially needs the regulations approved to make the principle of the bill the reality. Although it is a unique process here in Nova Scotia, whether that will ever change or not to be more in line with some of the other jurisdictions is something that could certainly be debated on a future day.

However, Mr. Speaker, it is a rather lengthy and complex piece of legislation. There are no two ways about it. We have close to 20 clauses that deal with a wide variety of issues. Everything from the Alcohol and Gaming Authority to the assessments, the Income Tax Act, tax that deals with large corporations, offshore area tax, tax collected on probate, right through to the Summary Proceedings Act and, ultimately, the Trade Union Act.

Mr. Speaker, to ensure that I am speaking on the general principle of the bill, I have to ask myself, what essentially is the government intending to achieve by the adoption of this particular piece of legislation? I have to go back to some of the deliberations that took place during the Supply debates, for those who are not familiar, the viewing audience, it is essentially department by department analysis and detailed examination of the proposed budget for that respective department, and also an opportunity to review the past expenditures, and the number of programs and initiatives and the essential component of what the respective department wishes to achieve.

[Page 5608]

A number of rather interesting facts came out as a result of those deliberations. In particular, I refer to my discussions with the Minister of Finance during his budget estimates, that is with the Department of Finance's actual estimates, Mr. Speaker. The minister was quite helpful in indicating how the government had changed its financial and accounting methodologies to ensure transparency and full accountability on the entire financial picture for the people of Nova Scotia. That is, to ensure that we are able to look at the big picture and say to ourselves, here is our total asset value, here are our total liability values, here is what we are proposing to spend, here is where we anticipate on achieving the revenues to be able to expend those particular dollars. What I found a little fascinating is the minister's reference to the TCA process, which is the Tangible Capital Assets. The minister has been very helpful and I appreciate that.

What I found fascinating in this process, Mr. Speaker, is the fact that the provincial government really doesn't have a full handle on what our TCA value is. We have an estimate and I believe the minister has been very forthright in trying to make a determination, with the support of the experts within the Department of Finance and various other departments, but there are a lot of unanswered questions that could certainly have a major impact as to what figure the minister would put before the House in the next fiscal year, in terms of what the actual operating deficit is, a balanced budget or a surplus, simply by the stroke of a pen, by the appraisal of these tangible assets.

I think that is certainly an opportunity for anyone, and I am not suggesting this is the case for the minister, but anyone who wanted to be mischievous, could certainly either inflate the value of your assets or depress the value of your assets to achieve the goal, the political objective you desire. That is a real possibility. Now I don't have a lot of experience in real estate, I have sold real estate, like my colleague on the government benches but not to the extent that she has but certainly I have a working knowledge of assets and depreciation and appreciation and that sort of thing. I don't know if the minister is Irish but he certainly has an Irish smile there. I would suggest that perhaps the minister knows full well what I am referring to, that that is a real possibility. So, Mr. Speaker, it is very easy for the Minister of Finance to make the picture look as bad as possible for the previous administration . . .

HON. NEIL LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. I want to tell the member opposite that I do have some Irish in me. My great-grandmother was a Byrne, she came over on a ship and her parents died on the way over and she was adopted by a family in Clare and my great-grandfather married her, so I do have Irish, but that wasn't the reason I was smiling, Mr. Speaker.

The fact of the matter is how assets are recorded, and I just want to clarify for the member's attention that assets are recorded on their costs and are not recorded by a valuation, so it does not give the minister or the province the discretionary means to put assets at the whim of the minister or the department. So we are working on the cost basis, which is how those assets have to be recorded. I felt it was very important that I get up on

[Page 5609]

that point of order and make sure that the honourable member was aware of that. So thank you for your latitude, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you very much, Mr. Minister. That is an interesting bit of history and certainly information but probably not a point of order.

MR. MACKINNON: That goes right to the heart of the issue because the minister is very sensitive on this particular issue. (Interruption) Well, I am Irish as well and I am very proud of it. My forefathers arrived in a boat in Main-a-Dieu and they were accused of a lot of unpleasant things back around the same period of time, the early 1800's. They had a choice of either being hung or being chased out of the country. Their crime was they stole a loaf of bread. So I am certainly pleased, from my perspective, that they chose the latter, to come to Main-a-Dieu because, henceforth, myself.

That having been said, I think what the minister has also stated is that, in fact, they don't have a full accounting of what the total asset value is because that is not determinable at this juncture. So it is going to be very easy to fill in the blanks, if one so chooses, as time allots; we will do so many appraisals and we will supply this additional information, as the information is forthcoming from the respective departments. So there, Mr. Speaker, I think is a fundamental flaw in the Minister of Finance's bottom line, in saying how high or how low the deficit really is. If he is using this TCA process, the reality is they can add these assets on or they can not add them on and that does have an impact on the bottom line.

Now, I want to focus on the second general point that I believe the people of Nova Scotia should be aware of, but before I leave that point, that is critical, Mr. Speaker, that is absolutely critical because let's take Sydney Steel and the tar ponds as a classic example. The value that was put onto the budget this year - I am not sure of the exact figure at this point, I believe $75 million or $80 million was the cost for the government, in terms of what their total contribution would be in this particular fiscal year but is that a fair assessment? Many would suggest, no, it is not. Many would suggest because it is going to take at least eight months to one year to complete a lot of the engineering and the technical analysis that is now before that community-based organization, better known as JAG, that we will not even see that total expenditure.

So what will happen? Even though it shows on the books as an inflated figure, a higher debt, a deficit for the year, in reality what the Minister of Finance will do is carry it forward to the next fiscal year and that ties in with another important issue and that is with the line item that is referred to as restructuring costs. This, Mr. Speaker, is certainly an issue that I think requires very close examination because it does tie into a similar situation with the overestimated value of how much would be required for the clean-up at the tar ponds.

[Page 5610]

We see that in the last fiscal year it was estimated $16.1 million was required for restructuring. The Minister of Finance tells me that that is actually carried over into this fiscal year and added into the figure of $88.1 million. So, in fact, the $88.1 million is not the real figure for restructuring costs this year because he has indicated, for certain reasons, that is an accumulative figure. So, Mr. Speaker, what is the real cost of restructuring for this fiscal year? It is not $88.1 million which is what is put before the House because the Minister of Finance has indicated that the $16.1 million comes out of that, even though it is accounted for in the previous year.

I am not sure if there is an attempt by the minister to be a little mischievous and make things look a lot worse than they are, but you have to take the figures as they are printed by the Department of Finance. Mr. Speaker, for the last fiscal year it was $16.1 million; this year, $88.1 million; next year, $125 million; the year after that, $107 million; and the year after that, $109 million. So if you take the whole thing added together, you have the total costs of restructuring government - $448 million approximately.

Mr. Speaker, that is only one-half of the equation. The other half of the equation that is critical to doing an analysis on this particular piece of legislation is the program review study that was conducted under the auspices of the Chairman of P & P, you know, representing the Cabinet. Because of the fact that the minister is refusing to provide that vital information, it is absolutely mathematically impossible for anyone in Opposition, or anyone in Nova Scotia, to be able to give a true analysis of this particular piece of legislation. Yet, when the Premier spoke so eloquently in defending the budget, he indicated that these two issues went hand in hand.

[4:45 p.m.]

So, Mr. Speaker, why is it that the government is putting the worst-case scenario ahead and out for the people of Nova Scotia to view, but really won't provide the other side of the equation, because everything you do has a plus and a minus in these types of decisions. If we are going to increase taxes, then obviously we will be doing something with that revenue, and either we spend it on programs or services, or employ people. Either we pay towards the debt or we do a whole variety of things, but you just don't do one thing unless there is a reason for doing it.

Now, if the Minister of Finance is sincere about the total cost of this program review it is only appropriate, before we are able to give any type of accreditation or approbation on this particular piece of legislation or, indeed, to the true value of the program review, he has to provide that information. He has to tell the people of Nova Scotia, he has to tell the Opposition members exactly how many public servants will lose their jobs. How much money will be saved? Is this enough money in the program review to be able to cover the total cost of reducing the Public Service? I realize there are a number of factors. We have to look at

[Page 5611]

pension packages; we have look at severance packages; and we have to look at the amalgamating and restructuring within the various government departments.

That is a given, but, Mr. Speaker, what is ironic about this process is the Minister of Finance, after the Minister of Education received three weeks of battering in the House here on her budget, was able to come up with some money out of that restructuring program. So, if that is the case, then how much real value is there to this figure of approximately $446 million, how much of this money is really for program restructuring? How much is really the restructuring cost, and how much of that is the government slush fund?

This is a similar type of initiative. If we go back and examine the history of Conservative policy in Nova Scotia, what we are seeing here is almost a reincarnation of what happened during the John Buchanan days. This particular piece of legislation is, in fact, the footprint of Conservative policy in Nova Scotia.

The Premier indicated during his estimates that we will now be establishing a new management board; a new management board to be able to oversee the hirings of all the Public Service. Anyone who applies for a job in the Public Service will ultimately have to go back to P&P, the Chairman of Management Board. Mr. Speaker, talk about reinventing the wheel; we have gone full cycle. Now I am not sure, the honourable Government House Leader, if this is the way for him to climax his political career by bringing everything back to the old patronage days of John Buchanan that he lived and enjoyed, and that is where the real debt came from.

During that period from 1978 to 1992 when Premier Buchanan left for the Senate because the fire was pretty hot where he was sitting. The flames were there; they were burning; he escaped by the skin of his teeth. That is about the long and short of it. I will never forget that day. We were on a fact-finding tour down on the South Shore, about six or eight Liberal caucus members, and we were meeting with fishermen's groups and farmers and forestry groups and so on, and when we came back that afternoon, late in the afternoon, the word was out and we were trying to get back that day so that we would make it on time to be able to attend the official opening of the functions at the UNSM conference at the Nova Scotian Hotel, which is now the Westin. That was a big event because at that time the government was talking about cutting back funding to the various municipalities and so it was a rather controversial day for the government. That wasn't the issue of the day.

The reporters didn't pay a lot of attention to what was going on at the UNSM, which was a major financial issue that was confronting the people of Nova Scotia. They were hot on the trail of the Premier who was exiting for the Senate because there were a lot of unanswered questions on financial accountability, on the system of justice in Nova Scotia and here, what we see through this particular piece of legislation is a reincarnation of a lot of that same philosophy that has been put forth by two of the senior partners in that government who were members of that particular Cabinet at that particular point in time. That was the

[Page 5612]

Honourable Neil LeBlanc, he was the Minister of Government Services and the Liquor Control Act. (Interruptions) Well, absolutely and that was under the Buchanan Government and eventually, actually under the Buchanan Government he was Solicitor General, I think was the title. He was in charge of all the correctional centres in the Province of Nova Scotia and he was very young and vibrant, many would consider a breath of fresh air to the Buchanan Cabinet.

But, years have passed and now it seems as though the air is not so fresh. If you examine this particular piece of legislation without full examination of this program review, that the honourable Government House Leader is sitting on, maybe he is sitting on it literally, and hiding it from the people of Nova Scotia. We won't really know what the true cost is or how much money is actually being saved. You are not going to reduce the size of your Public Service to the extent of 1,200 or 1,400 and not be able to save money. Otherwise, why would you do with it and if the ultimate goal is to have more money at the end of the day than when you started, then the government has the other part of the equation that they won't share with the people of Nova Scotia. That is how much money is going to be saved by expending $446 million on the restructuring of the government in Nova Scotia.

Are we going to be saving $200 million? Are we going to be saving $1 billion? How much of an impact will that have and why won't the honourable Government House Leader, Chairman of P&P provide that vital information so that we, in Opposition, can give a proper examination of this particular piece of legislation? This smacks of the good old Buchanan days, over and over again and I am afraid what we will see from a lot of these new, energetic members who are hoping to aspire to a higher level someday, that they are going to be sadly mistaken because history is reliving itself in this House. History is reliving itself, they just hate to let go when it comes to patronage, and putting politics into every aspect of public life, whether it is finance, whether it is justice, whether it is occupational health and safety.

Mr. Speaker, I see today that the government has established its Red Tape Commission, chaired by David Grace. I don't know David Grace, I understand he is a businessman from the metro area. He will be taking sage advice from rather learned individuals such as, Jon Carey, David Morse, Brooke Taylor, Richard Hurlburt, and Bill Dooks. Well, talk about Piccadilly Circus, that is exactly what it is. The Minister of Labour is now asking the Tory caucus subcommittee to overrule and oversee the Occupational Health and Safety Advisory Panel, which was duly constituted by an Act of the Legislature, after several years of extensive consultation. That particular committee is delegated the responsibility of ensuring that labour and industry is fully represented. The government has the audacity to inject partisan politics into the occupational health and safety of Nova Scotia. That is essentially what it is.

I know the Minister of Health and the Minister of Labour will be very interested in this, I am not so sure they would really support my position, I would be somewhat suspect if they did, given their track record. We saw how the Minister of Labour turned his back on the

[Page 5613]

linemen working for Nova Scotia Power because someone from Nova Scotia Power didn't like the answer they got from the Occupational Health and Safety Advisory Panel, which is represented by industry, of which Nova Scotia Power Inc. is a partner to one of those stakeholders, bodies, that are there. They didn't even like what their own body, their own representative on that council told them. So what did they do? They went in the back door and had a private meeting with the Minister of Labour, and said, we don't like this, we don't like this because this is bad for business. We want to save money. It is not bad enough they are making in excess of $100 million profit a year, but now they want to squeeze to the point of compromising the safety of their workers.

It may not be apparent now, but in the months and the years to come, what we are going to see is rolling back the clock. This Conservative Government is reliving all the political processes and generics of what happened during John Buchanan's and Donnie Cameron's days, and hence, Westray. This is the vacuum that exists with this particular piece of legislation, because the government won't provide the program review. It knows how many people they are going to cut from the Public Service. It knows how many jobs are going to be lost. It also knows how much it is going to cost, because they put the cost out. It also knows how much money it will save, but they will only put out the cost.

Mr. Speaker, why are they hiding? Why are they hiding this particular piece of information? I believe the restructuring cost, as I have stated, is intentionally inflated. It is intentionally inflated to make the previous administration, the Liberal Administration, look bad, and to try and make it look like the Conservative Government has adopted a new and innovative way to bring total accountability into the Public Service and the process of financial accountability. Mr. Speaker, I think that is mischief in the first degree. The Minister of Finance himself, on Friday past, when he was being scrummed after the vote was taken on the budget, admitted to reporters that he may have "overstated" the cost of restructuring government.

[5:00 p.m.]

Well, that is the code word for saying that these figures are bogus, Mr. Speaker. That is essentially what the Minister of Finance has said. To further reinforce that, all we have to do is again look at the way that monies from that particular line item were diverted back over to the Department of Education.

Now, Mr. Speaker, ironically the government tried to make the spin that what they were doing is writing off - they were going to absorb all these debts from the school boards and put it on the public debt. Well, what we have here is just manipulation of numbers. That is exactly what happened. I am very surprised that some of the backbenchers who championed the cause of fighting for their constituents have at no point in time ever taken up the cause of that line of accountability. I would bet that the backbenchers have no clue about what the program review analysis is. It is trust me. Well, if that is reminiscent of the Honest John, trust

[Page 5614]

me, the future is here and the future came and left and what do we have? We were saddled with the largest accumulated debt in the Province of Nova Scotia.

Even this government is struggling with this issue of how to bring the cost of government under control because, as has been indicated, and rightfully so, the high percentage of our tax dollars that is going to service the debt.

Mr. Speaker, I recall back in 1993 when the Liberal Administration took over government, the bonding agencies had served notice, the banks had served notice, just about anywhere you turned there was a creditor serving notice on this province. That is a given, it is public record. I recall the issue of reducing the total percentage of the dollar value on our debt, American exchange versus Canadian dollars exchange. We got that reduced through the efforts of the then Minister of Finance, Bernie Boudreau, and that helped to control the inflationary cost for those who might be interested in the bores of accountability, but that was a very positive initiative. The Auditor General supported the Minister of Finance on that.

Another issue was the Teachers' Pension Fund. The government of the day dealt with that, a $1 billion deficit. The Tory Administration were not putting their contribution into the Teachers' Pension Fund. They were writing it up on the books but they were not setting the money aside to go into that. Who was a party to that? The now Minister of Finance and the Minister of Transportation and Public Works.

The Workers' Compensation Board, close to $0.5 billion, and the government, the Minister of Labour of the day, the honourable Jay Abbass, made some very difficult decisions. Now that unfunded liability is expected to be paid off, not in the 40 year period that was outlined, Mr. Speaker, in the legislative plan, but rather in 23 years. That is how well we have done.

Last year we went one step further. For the first time in the history of this province, firms from outside Nova Scotia now have to pay Workers' Compensation premiums when they come to this province. The Premier is nodding his head, yes, and he supported me on that, unlike the Leader of the NDP who said no. That is a good initiative, that showed that yes, the various political Parties can cooperate and achieve some positive results. I believe that one issue alone, we expected to generate somewhere in the vicinity of $10 million. Well, we far exceeded that, and that is why we ended up with this additional surplus this year. Costs are under control, it is not a panacea for everybody, but these are the types of things that have put us in the position where we are today, given the fact we are not hearing the banks calling. We don't have the bonding agencies serving notice like it was when the Buchanan era boys were there.

But I dare say, Mr. Speaker, if the Minister of Finance and the Minister of Transportation and Public Works get their way, the good old days will be back. They are back in the saddle, and they will not be happy until the glue on their hands has dollar bills stuck to

[Page 5615]

them, so they can go their merry way and patronage will run rampant. It was very difficult, and the Savage Government paid a very high political price for taking patronage out of the Public Service, out of government. It didn't do it entirely. No, it didn't do it entirely, but I daresay, it brought it from the doldrums of when the Minister of Transportation and Public Works was at the helm. It was absolutely a disaster. Patronage was so bad, when that member was a minister in the Buchanan Government.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I was out there for a bit and I came back. Maybe we changed the order of business did we? I would remind the honourable member to be speaking to the second reading of the Financial Measures (2000) Bill, and I would ask him to bring his comments back to that please. Thank you.

MR. MACKINNON: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, because these issues are directly related to the principle of the bill, because we cannot do a complete analysis of this bill because the government has publicly stated that the figures and the restructuring cost may not be accurate to what they estimate they will be, and the honourable Government House Leader has stated he will not release the information that is required to look at the other side of the equation. That is why it is important that we remind members about what will happen if we continue to endorse this legislation without a complete examination of all the facts. Given the fact that the honourable Government House Leader was party to a process that destroyed the confidence of the people of Nova Scotia, it is very concerning that he would expect the Opposition to vote on Bill No. 46, knowing that he is sitting on the information that is vital to doing a complete analysis.

Mr. Speaker, that is nothing short of political mischief, pure out and out political mischief by the honourable Government House Leader, as Chairman of P & P. I think that is shameful that that member would expect the Opposition to vote for a piece of legislation knowing full well that he has vital information that will contribute to the complete analysis of this particular piece of legislation. That is why it is important to remind the people of Nova Scotia about the history of financial accountability, and why this legislation, in the government's view, is necessary to be approved, because there are some tax measures in this particular piece of legislation that will cost the taxpayers more money. If we just look at the issue on the Department of Labour estimates, the fact that under the Trade Union Act - essentially what we are doing is we are amending the Trade Union Act in this omnibus bill. That is essentially what we are doing.

The Minister of Labour didn't see fit, but I guess given the rules of legislative procedure, it would almost have to come under the Minister of Finance anyway, but essentially we are downloading on industry and labour, the cost of arbitration in the Province of Nova Scotia. I think that is very unfortunate, because this, at the same time that this politically-appointed partisan, I think it would only be fair to say it is partisan, because all the members on the committee, five out of six members on the committee, are members of the Tory caucus. They are going to make decisions on occupational health and safety?

[Page 5616]

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Finance is expecting us to approve this, but at the same time, some of the key ministers in that government have already served notice that they want to eliminate some of the major safety components in the Occupational Health and Safety Act. The Minister of Economic Development himself, on a previous day when he was sitting where the member for Dartmouth North is sitting, introduced a piece of legislation asking to get rid of the Occupational Health and Safety Act for anyone who would run a business out of their own home.

Mr. Speaker, the number of small private businesses across Nova Scotia, trucking operations and whatnot, teleworks, all these different operations, because he was under pressure from a lobby group in his constituency, what was he prepared to do? He was prepared to wave the flag, not look at the general safety of the people of Nova Scotia; he was responding to a political lobby so he could get re-elected, that is all the Minister of Economic Development wanted to do. It was cheap theatrics in the first degree. What we are seeing now is that is being permeated in the legal process. This Occupational Health and Safety Act, which has a legislated safety committee is now going to be bypassed by members of the Tory caucus.

Mr. Speaker, I think that is absolutely reprehensible, particularly knowing that the Minister of Finance and the Minister of Transportation and Public Works were a part of that government when the whole Westray issue came to the forefront. We saw claims of political pressure on the public servants, from the representative for Pictou County who eventually became Premier. It was absolutely deplorable, what went through here. You wonder why we would have questions about financial accountability and the true value and merit of supporting this particular piece of legislation.

I don't think it is fair. I don't think it is fair for the government to have vital information, it is bad enough they hide it from the Opposition, but they are hiding it from the taxpayers of Nova Scotia for political gain. I think that is wrong. Not all members, Mr. Speaker, I know you are a very impartial and fair-minded individual, so you have come halfway. You are in the centre aisle, so chances are you could end up on this side of the House on a future day. That would be of your own choosing, I am sure.

Mr. Speaker, this partiuclar piece of legislation. (Interruption) I just don't want to be ruled out of order again so I have to kind of be nice to the Speaker. I mean the member for Dartmouth South made it over here. It was only a matter of time. He is lucky to be in the House, let alone on this side.

[5:15 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, that having been said, also the fact that the Minister of Finance wants to change the relationship with the federal government on the issue of personal taxation is another major issue. That in itself opens up the door for further increased taxation, and it is

[Page 5617]

taxation that the people of Nova Scotia simply cannot afford. The federal government gave the people of Nova Scotia a tax break, and what did this government do? They clawed it back.

When they were in Opposition, they were clamouring for a reduction in taxes. The Minister of Finance, when he was Finance Critic, was demanding that we reduce taxes, Mr. Speaker. He stood in this House and he was demanding tax relief for the people of Nova Scotia; he was demanding that we put more pressure on the federal government. Well, the federal government reduced taxes and what does he do? He goes in and he claws it back. He is just like a wolf. He took it from them. He could not wait to get it. Talk about the silence of the lambs. My golly, that Minister of Finance, he is ruthless when it comes to squeezing a dollar out of a taxpayer.

AN HON. MEMBER: Before they even get it.

MR. MACKINNON: That is before they even get it, Mr. Speaker, that is before they even get it. I am receiving some encouragement from some very learned colleagues, and that is good because he was probably an excellent Finance Minister; in fact a heck of a lot better than the one we have now, I can assure you. He was willing to stand and put all the information for the people of Nova Scotia to examine, not like the Minister of Finance, today, and the honourable Government House Leader, who are hiding information.

My colleague, the honourable member for Lunenburg West, he stood up and he was prepared to defend, from the barrage of attacks that came from the Progressive Conservative caucus when they were in Opposition. Now they are doing everything they said they were not going to do. Well, not everybody. You are Speaker so we are not going to blame you but, the overwhelming majority of that Tory caucus are now doing all the things that they said they would not do, and I am very disappointed. I am actually disappointed in the member for Pictou East. He spoke so passionately about health care services: everything was going to pot; we were not putting enough money in.

We were increasing our health care budget, Mr. Speaker, a very systematic plan that was supported by health care professionals from one end of this province to the other, and it was in a very logical and clearly delineated process that was laid out so all people could follow, so that ultimately at the end of that three year period, the health care costs would start to come down. It was an investment over that three year period, and what did the Tory caucus say? No. We were destroying health care in Nova Scotia. In fact, during the election debates the Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party said they only needed about $46 million more.

Now, something is lost in the translation, Mr. Speaker, because as we can determine from the health care budget, there is no $46 million going in, but there is about $75 million coming out. In fact, we witnessed today more than 400 employees at the Queen Elizabeth II

[Page 5618]

Health Sciences Centre are losing their jobs, so perhaps it is an opportunity for the Premier to get up and show the leadership that he demonstrated so eloquently during the election campaign as to where in the name of Heavens this $46 million is.

Maybe it is in Bill No. 46. He is a doctor, he would have no problem analysing the health care budget. It is very unfortunate that $46 million seems to have evaporated. Perhaps the Minister of Finance kind of squeezed that out and kind of snuck it in to this line item called Restructuring Costs. I would be willing to bet that the actual restructuring costs will be anywhere between $250 million and $300 million and I base that, not just on a political guesstimate, but if you do a comparative analysis to the restructuring costs that took place on a previous day under the Liberal Administration between 1993 and 1996, it is almost a mirror image, only this is far more brutal. Even with that, the Minister of Finance has signalled a lack of credibility in these figures by telling reporters last Friday that perhaps he overestimated the cost, but he didn't say by how much.

I think the Minister of Finance might be just a little bit mischievous here and that wouldn't surprise me. That would be only to be expected given the training and the education that he received under the Buchanan Regime. I recall when he first came into this House and he sat over just behind where the Minister of Education is sitting now and he was a young, energetic minister and he wanted to do a lot of good things. He was willing, he was open to answer all the questions people asked him about his department, departmental estimates and so on, but it seems that all that openness seemed to have evaporated with this particular piece of legislation.

Just to emphasize the point of reality, I recall just after the 1993 election when the Conservative Government was defeated, a lot of the Tory backbenchers who were first time elected, they were actually shell-shocked. They couldn't believe what happened. They thought things were going so well. I spoke to a few of them afterwards and they thought that they had got hit with a Soviet missile. They really didn't understand what happened because they were in government and they had the power and the money and the patronage and everything was high-rolling. I believe that particular year there was an unprecedented amount of asphalt poured. I recall, if my memory is correct, I think the operating deficit for that year alone, because of contractual arrangements that were made under Premier Cameron was somewhere in excess of $574 million. I could be off a couple of dollars - $1 million one way or the other.

They figured they had it cold. There was going to be no debate because he was the white knight in shining armour. He was that silver-haired Messiah who was going to lead them after the demise of the Buchanan Regime, with the exception of two and they are hanging on for dear life. If I were them I would keep my eye over my shoulder because there is some energetic talent that would like to kind of move up, if they are allowed out of the House on certain occasions.

[Page 5619]

The fact is, that is the reality of what is taking place here today, by asking the Opposition to support this legislation. These members - and this is not a partisan statement - I can tell you from experience, being in here, it has happened to the Liberal caucus, it has happened to the Tory caucus and what is happening here today in this session is going to be the demise of many of those backbenchers. There are no two ways about it. This is not the same as municipal politics, where you can stand up and champion your cause and rush back to the constituency with little brochures and all these feel-good power-point bulletins about all you are doing for your constituents, this is not the same thing. I think they are slowly learning that.

They have to approve and endorse all aspects of this particular budgetary measure, Mr. Speaker, whether they have read it, whether they have not read it, whether they agree or they disagree; you are in or your are out. That is the logic. They decided they are in and, because they are in and they have made that choice that the Party line is more important than looking after their constituency objectives, is it little wonder that we will pick up special bulletins, special edition, Eastern Shore constituency bulletins put out by Bill Dooks, MLA, April, 2000. This is what he says, and it goes right to the heart of this particular piece of legislation. This is where he has crossed the line from fighting for his constituents to following the tales of the old Buchanan Regime. "I understand that protest marches are being encouraged and have taken place by students as young as 12 and 14 years of age, with little or no supervision. Please do not allow yourself to let emotion or rumour rule your decisions, possibly placing children in unsafe situations."

Mr. Speaker, can you imagine sending that out to a constituent and telling the constituents that, "As a parent, I have to ask myself what they (organizations and bureaucrats) are trying to protect and what they are hoping to accomplish by making students afraid and placing such stress on such teachers." Well, I have never in all my living days seen anyone who would try to defend . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member has about two and one-half minutes left. I wish he would take that time to talk about the principle of the bill at hand, please, at least in the last two and one-half minutes. Thank you.

MR. MACKINNON: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. By clearly demonstrating how feeble this particular document is, how feeble that anyone would attack the people of Nova Scotia, attack his own constituents because he refuses to stand up and explain why it is important that he, as a member of the Conservative caucus, is supporting this particular regressive legislation. (Interruption)

Okay, let's assume that it is good legislation. For the sake of discussion let's assume this is good legislation and that the Opposition should support it. Let's assume that it is good, that it is the right document for the people of Nova Scotia as part of this budgetary process. I am going to make that assumption. If that is the case, why is it that the Government House

[Page 5620]

Leader is sitting on the vital information that is needed to analyse this legislation? That is political mischief and that is why we have such mindless diatribe being sent out to constituents to make them feel guilty for expressing their concerns about this legislation.

Mr. Speaker, they can't have it both ways. Perhaps the honourable member for Eastern Shore would ask the Government House Leader to table that information; ask the honourable Government House Leader if he would do that, but obviously he won't. He would rather attack his constituents than defend the legislation. (Interruption) Oh, the member says the Government House Leader is his boss. Well, I hate to disappoint you but I thought all your constituents were your boss, not that relic from back in the Buchanan days. I apologize.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member has been in this House long enough to realize that was very uncalled for and I would ask him to withdraw it and make apologies to the honourable member, please.

Order, please. (Interruptions) The honourable member's time has expired. Order, please. The honourable member for Cape Breton West has the floor.

[5:30 p.m.]

MR. MACKINNON: I believe the honourable Government House Leader has acknowledged as such, and I do apologize, and I thank you for the opportunity to speak. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

MR. JERRY PYE: Mr. Speaker, I rise to speak on An Act Respecting Certain Financial Measures. I do know that we had already made a hoist to this bill, and we were hoping it would go on for a six month period so that Nova Scotians would have a better picture after six months as to what the consequences of this Tory Government's budget was going to be to all Nova Scotians. I do know that we had a recorded vote for that, and I do know that we in the Opposition, no matter how hard we tried, lost that recorded vote.

Mr. Speaker, I want you to know that did not stop the Opposition from continuing to make sure that Nova Scotians are very much aware of the consequences within the budgetary process that this Tory Government has introduced. I think it is very important to recognize that this Bill No. 46 which is before this House is a bill that affects all Nova Scotians and it affects them in a significant way. I want to say that this bill with respect to the financial measures has such a significant impact that there is not one part of Nova Scotia from Brier Island to Meat Cove and all points in between that cannot be affected by this particular bill. (Interruptions)

[Page 5621]

Mr. Speaker, I guess I must have touched a spot with the member for Digby-Annapolis, whom in fact is the Minister of Economic Development as well. I am sure that he is a protector of his constituency, and I am sure that Minister of Economic Development fully understands the impact of what his government brought in with respect to a budget to all Nova Scotians. Although he is a junior minister, he is very much aware of the impact that this Financial Measures (2000) Bill has. It is enlightening that I stand in the very seat that this former Minister of Economic Development occupied when he was in Opposition when, in fact, he had some backbone, and as the Premier would indicate, some spine. I have to tell you, with respect to this Financial Measures (2000) Bill, that minister stood up here and he talked about economic development as a way out for Nova Scotians and a way to generate revenue for Nova Scotians. When that member was in Opposition, I was attached to every single word that member said. There wasn't a single word that member did not attract me to. I thought, when this member became a member of the government, and one day he would become a member of the government, he would, in fact, be very much aware and sensitive to the needs of all Nova Scotians.

Much as yourself, Mr. Speaker, you occupied the seat next to the one that I am now sitting in. And you spoke often and you spoke well. You spoke about the concerns of Nova Scotians and, in particular, seniors and the number of resolutions you brought with respect to the protection of seniors within this legislature. As a matter of fact, I have to tell you, you thought of the consequences of every single economic measure you spoke about in this House, as well as every single member. (Interruptions) One has to recognize that this government has indicated that it wants to do what is right. I don't know how far right it wants to do what is right. As a matter of fact, what I would say is that the measures by this government under Bill No. 46 and with respect to the budget, because that is what this Bill No. 46 does, it encompasses the entire budget that was passed here on Friday past.

Mr. Speaker, I want to tell you that I did not realize that I would attract such attention from the government side, but that is quite appropriate because it implies that they are listening. I want to say to you that the government members opposite are very much aware that they can no longer hide, they have the budget, there is very little that we can do with respect to stopping them, but they have to go home and what we are going to do is we are going to prolong the process so that Nova Scotians will fully understand the impact of this budget.

Mr. Speaker, if one recalls, just when we were talking about the Education Minister for a point, we just read in the paper yesterday, that there are going to be an $11.5 million cuts to the Halifax Regional School Board. Now that they have satisfied the particular measures of the teachers, what they have not satisfied is the librarians, the teaching assistants, the clerical staff, the custodial staff, the bus drivers. Every one of those individuals have families. Every one of those individuals are going to be cut. They are going to be cut because of this government's Draconian measure towards education.

[Page 5622]

MR. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: Heartless.

MR. PYE: Heartless measures towards education, that is the most appropriate term because it certainly is heartless. It means that this government is in the process of plucking the heart out of every single employee within the Education Department. This government is also in the process of plucking the heart out of every single child in this educational system as well. I think that that is quite appropriate and, as a matter of fact, I want to thank the member for Timberlea-Prospect for giving me the descriptive adjective of being heartless here with respect to mentioning the Minister of Education's manner in which she has gone about selectively making sure that the very disadvantaged in our educational system are, as a matter of fact, not entitled to a quality of education the same as every other single individual. Education is a right in the Province of Nova Scotia and because you have a disability, or if you are a hard to teach individual, does not have a right to take the education from you.

As a matter of fact, Mr. Speaker, with respect to the quip, that is a significant quip as a result of what is happening here. (Interruptions) What I will say . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member for Dartmouth North has the floor.

MR. PYE: I did not realize how effective heckling was until I am standing up here now. I must say, Mr. Speaker, you are right and that is not a part of what we are debating here today. I will say to you that, in fact, it is extremely effective and I must say that I should do it more often. Anyway, I want to say to you that we are going down a road, it is a very serious road.

MR. RICHARD HURLBURT: And the right road.

MR. PYE: We can certainly lay all jokes aside and the member for Yarmouth can simply imply the right road, but every single member of the Opposition on the New Democratic Party side has presented petitions on behalf of the member for Yarmouth and, as a matter of fact, it is very serious (Interruptions)

MR. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: Get off your ass.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh! Oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I would ask the honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect to rise in his place and retract that statement, please. It is unparliamentary.

MR. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: I would ask the honourable member for Yarmouth to get off his rear end in this House and speak for the people of Yarmouth, Mr. Speaker.

[Page 5623]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I would ask the honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect to retract that statement he just made or I am going to have him removed from this Chamber.

MR. ESTABROOKS: I said, Mr. Speaker, I would remove it . . .

MR. SPEAKER: That is all I asked you to do.

MR. ESTABROOKS rose--

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you, take your seat.

Would the honourable member for Dartmouth North allow for an introduction?

MR. PYE: Certainly, Mr. Speaker, by all means.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings North.

MR. MARK PARENT: Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to introduce Mr. George Bishop, the Chair of Acadia University and also President of Scotia Investments. Let's give him a warm welcome. (Applause)

MR. PYE: Mr. Speaker, I do want to go back to education because we all recognize that education is the road to prosperity and without education we do not have anything. All we have to do is look around at the developed nations. The developed nations came about as a result of education. We want to contribute to that path.

Mr. Speaker, when I see $11.5 million cut from the Halifax Regional School Board, I have to say that when I look at Bill No. 46, that it is incumbent upon us, as members of this Legislative Assembly, to continue to debate this bill for as long as we possibly can. There are librarians who will no longer be in the libraries in our educational system in our schools. There will be children who will no longer have access to those libraries in a manner in which they were accustomed and having the teaching expertise available to them, to show them the Dewey decimal system and all the other methods which, in fact, are available within and to coordinate the purchase of school books.

There is also is a very good question with respect to the violation of hard to learn and disabled individuals within the classroom, Mr. Speaker, as a result of removing teaching assistants. They are an integral component of the education system. They assist teachers with students who are 30 and 35 in a classroom. Without that teaching assistant the classroom could not survive; the teacher could not pay the special attention given to the rest of the class in order to provide them with a quality education.

[Page 5624]

Mr. Speaker, there is need for clerical staff as well. The clerical staff is significantly important because they are the drivers behind the administrative level of the school system. There is also the custodial staff as well. We cannot have a quality education unless we have clean schools and clean facilities in which to educate our children. We already have been told about the sick school syndrome across this province. Many of our schools across this province are sick schools. As a matter of fact, the honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid says, many and the honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid might have within his constituency one of those schools which, in fact, is a sick school that resulted from an oil spill, I do believe, and it is a leaking oil spill that continues to go on.

These kinds of measures, Mr. Speaker, with respect to education are just simply out of control. There is also the reduction of bus drivers as well because students and young children may be expected to go instead of the 2.5 kilometres, up to 3 kilometres. That may be the consequences of the loss of bus drivers. The only thing that certainly helps the Halifax Regional School Board which, in fact, many other school boards don't have, is the supplementary funding. If we did not have the supplementary funding in the Halifax Regional School Board, can you imagine the consequences? Now they have to use the supplementary funding to provide some of the services and to assist in the cutting of their budgets of some $11.5 million. As a matter of fact, there is part of the Halifax Regional Municipality and many parts of the educational system throughout the Province of Nova Scotia which, in fact, do not and have not had that opportunity of having supplementary funding.

[5:45 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, as a matter of fact, I have to tell you that I believe that Education warrant a quality education is warranted across this province; as a matter of fact I believe that it should be a government-funded education from P-12, and it should be core programming, because every single person in this province, right across the province, competes in the market place for the same jobs, and because they do not happen to be in a regional school board that has access to supplementary funding, they are disadvantaged when they go into that workplace. Those individual students are disadvantaged, they don't have access to the extra-curricular activities, the music programs, the art programs, and all those programs that come as a result of the extra-curricular funding all across this province.

Mr. Speaker, I have had the opportunity to tour much of Nova Scotia. I have visited many of the little hamlets throughout this province, and I have seen the impact on education. We talk about the economic devastation on Cape Breton Island, well let me tell you there are areas along the Eastern Shore and along the South Shore where unemployment rates are 26 per cent and more. (Interruptions) How much? As a matter of fact a government member who represents the Eastern Shore just brought it to my attention that the rate is 30 per cent unemployment.

[Page 5625]

The member for Eastern Shore knows very well the community which I have grown up in and that I know the Eastern Shore quite well, and the job losses like Scott Pulp and Paper, the downturn in the fishing industry, the downturn in tourism. There is also now such desperation that those individuals are selling their wood lots to private woodlot owners who are farming in a manner which is not appropriate, as a matter of fact. There is this whole devastation as a result of those kinds of losses.

The member for Eastern Shore is very much aware of the high unemployment rate, the illiteracy rate down along the Eastern Shore as well, the number of individuals who, in fact, live on social assistance because they don't have the educational qualifications. There are no training programs and there are very few job opportunities available to those individuals, all which this Financial Measures (2000) Bill will in fact not be able to address.

Mr. Speaker, I want to now step off Education and go into Human Resources. I just want this government to know that we now have 10,000 proud government employees in the Province of Nova Scotia. We have 10,000 proud government employees, 6,000 are government employees and 3,000 are civil servants. Every single one of them delivers a program to Nova Scotians.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. It is very noisy in the Chamber. I would ask all members to extend the same courtesy to the honourable member for Dartmouth North as he does for other members when they are speaking. (Interruptions) Order, please. The honourable member for Dartmouth North has the floor.

MR. PYE: Mr. Speaker, I would just say there is a lot of truth in the phrase, what goes around comes around. I guess one has to recognize that, in time, will happen. I have to tell you that I spent a few times listening at law hour, sitting in on some of those law hours, and this sort of sounds like it from time to time. I have to tell you that it is . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: Where's your blue book?

MR. PYE: Oh, I have the blue book here, as a matter of fact. I will be referring to this blue book as I progress through my hour-long speech on the Financial Measures (2000) Bill. I just want to go back to Human Resources. I am pleased with the great audience on the Conservative side because they will know the impact of the cuts in human resources. We know the only reason why they are here is to keep a quorum. That is one good thing that is advantageous to the Opposition side. They have to be here and they have to listen.

I want to go back to Human Resources. During the Human Resources estimates I spoke to the Minister for Human Resources, and the minister has recognized this government may very well cut some 600 jobs from the Department of Human Resources. That is a cut of 600 jobs that many Nova Scotians did not expect during the 1999 election campaign. This Party made no indication whatsoever of cuts in the delivery of governmental services to the citizens

[Page 5626]

of Nova Scotia. Many of those individuals are quite concerned. Some 600 of those individuals. Can you imagine? There are some 10,000 employees if you cover NSGEU. 6,000 and the remaining 3,900 of Civil Service employees as well. Many of those deliver quality services to Nova Scotians and quality programs.

Mr. Speaker, this Bill No. 46 as it accompanies the budget estimates and which we have already passed will, in fact, have a significant impact upon the delivery of services to Nova Scotians. Not once during the election campaign, has this government said to Nova Scotians what were going to be core service or core delivery programs to the citizens of Nova Scotia. Not once during the campaign. As a matter of fact, I want to reiterate again, when I was campaigning, I felt like I was competing against another New Democratic Party, simply because many of the issues out there were, as a matter of fact, there was a time when I thought I should be in that Party's campaign, simply because they were so far left to us, I couldn't believe it.

Mr. Speaker, something happened on the way to the fair, but let's say something happened on the way to the Legislature.

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

MR. PYE: Certainly, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth South.

MR. TIMOTHY OLIVE: Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the honourable member for Dartmouth North for allowing me to make an introduction. We have in our gallery a couple of individuals, one who has been extremely active in the agricultural community in Nova Scotia for years, and who has worked very, very hard. Another individual who is in the religious community and has worked very hard in his community. I would like the House to welcome to the gallery Mr. Downe and Mr. Parent. (Applause)

MR. PYE: Mr. Speaker, it is unfortunate that the two guests weren't here last Thursday when I gave about a 35 minute speech on agriculture and the importance of agriculture. I certainly will not tap into at length agriculture this time around, simply because I think I covered much of the basis on agriculture in my 35 minutes.

I want to go back to Human Resources, back to areas that are of significant concern to me. I have asked the Acting Minister of Human Resources with respect to what his role was with respect to the importance of the five point plan and how much of an importance that he and his department have stressed towards the five point plan that Premier Hamm signed during the election campaign.

[Page 5627]

As you know, Dr. Hamm was not then the Premier, he was a candidate in the Tory election campaign during that period of time and he was a member of the Opposition when, in fact, he signed that five point plan. We all know that the signature is there, it is legible and everyone can see it. As a matter of fact, I asked the Acting Minister of Human Resources with respect to what validity he had placed with respect to the Premier's commitment to the five point quality plan with respect to the NSGEU employees.

I have to tell you that the Acting Minister of Human Resources implied to me that that was an election campaign promise and that was not the way the Department of Human Resources functioned. In effect, what he was telling me is that the paper that the signature was written on - it wasn't worth the paper it was written on. I have to tell you that that to me is something that I valued strongly and I valued very importantly because every single one of those individuals who are going to have their jobs cut, are individuals who don't know yet. They are out there in the wilderness, they are out there in the dark, they can't buy consumer goods, they can't buy a refrigerator, a stove, a car, they can't keep the economy flowing because they don't know the day that they are going to be without a job. Because of that hesitation, the whole economy has a problem, a significant impact.

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

MR. PYE: Mr. Speaker, I will move to adjourn the House for the day.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. A motion to adjourn the House is out of order; a motion to adjourn debate. The honourable member for Dartmouth North will move adjournment of debate.

MR. PYE: Mr. Speaker, I so move.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for adjournment of debate on Bill No. 46.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, the business for tomorrow in the House will be, following the daily routine, second reading of Bill No. 46. The House will convene at 9:00 a.m. and the House will rise at 5:00 p.m. or on the conclusion of the debate on Bill No. 46, whichever occurs first.

[Page 5628]

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is that the House do now rise until 9:00 a.m.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

We stand adjourned until 9:00 a.m.

[The House rose at 5:58 p.m.]