Assemblée Législative de la Nouvelle-Écosse

Les travaux de la Chambre ont repris le
21 septembre 2017

Hansard -- Wed., May 24, 2000

First Session

WEDNESDAY, MAY 24, 2000

TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE
PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS:
Educ.: Cuts - Oppose, Ms. Maureen MacDonald 6475
Transport. & Pub. Wks.: North Salem Rd. (Shubenacadie) - Maintain,
Mr. John MacDonell 6476
Educ.: Cuts - Oppose, Mr. John MacDonell 6477
Educ.: Cuts - Oppose, Dr. J. Smith 6477
GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 2266, Culture - Hackmatack Children's Choice Book Awards:
Kenneth Oppel (Fiction) & Sheree Fitch [N.S.] (Non-Fiction) -
Congrats., Hon. J. Purves 6478
Vote - Affirmative 6478
Res. 2267, Tourism - Pictou Co. Tourist Assoc.: Dedication - Recognize,
Hon. Rodney MacDonald 6479
Vote - Affirmative 6479
Res. 2268, Sports - Acadian Reg. Games (Argyle): Success - Congrats.,
Hon. N. LeBlanc 6479
Vote - Affirmative 6480
Res. 2269, Nat. Res. - Envirothon (N.S.) Comp.: Digby RHS -
Winners Congrats., Hon. E. Fage 6481
Vote - Affirmative 6481
NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 2270, Health - New Waterford Consol. Hosp.: Serv. Reduction -
Unacceptable, Mr. P. MacEwan 6482
Res. 2271, Commun. Serv. - Child Poverty: Priority (24/11/99) -
Forgotten, Mr. Robert Chisholm 6482
Res. 2272, Tim Hortons Annual Camp Day: Efforts - Recognize,
Mr. D. Hendsbee 6483
Vote - Affirmative 6484
Res. 2273, Health - Agendas (Election/Post-Election): Difference -
Recognize, Mr. D. Downe 6484
Res. 2274, Commun. Serv./Health - Child Care/Home Care:
Personal Concern - Gender Inequality Recognize,
Ms. Maureen MacDonald 6485
Res. 2275, Nat. Res. - Envirothon (N.S.): Whycocomagh Consol. Sch. -
Third Place Congrats., Hon. Rodney MacDonald 6485
Vote - Affirmative 6486
Res. 2276, Health - Budget (2000-01): Cuts - Devastation Observe,
Dr. J. Smith 6486
Res. 2277, Status of Women - Health: Protection - Actions Reveal,
Ms. E. O'Connell 6487
Res. 2278, Fin. - Atl. Loto: Deal - Positivity Recognize, Mr. K. Morash 6487
Vote - Affirmative 6488
Res. 2279, Econ. Dev. - PEP: Actions (PC Cause-Min.) - Reprimand,
Mr. R. MacLellan 6488
Res. 2280, Sysco - Steelworkers: Pensions - Discuss, Mr. F. Corbett 6489
Res. 2281, Commun. Serv. - Lun. Family Resource Ctr.:
Commun. Kitchen Prog. - Congrats., Hon. M. Baker 6490
Vote - Affirmative 6490
Res. 2282, Commun. Serv. - Child Poverty (17/08/99 on): Deficit -
Address, Mr. J. Pye 6490
Res. 2283, Health - RNA (N.S.): Award (Excellence) - Isobel Cream
(Hillcrest Manor) Congrats., Hon. J. Muir 6491
Vote - Affirmative 6492
Res. 2284, Health - IWK-Grace: Cuts - Women & Children
Sacrificed - Condemn, Mr. D. Dexter 6492
Res. 2285, Agric. - Horizon View 4-H Club (Anna. Co.) Work -
Commend, Mr. F. Chipman 6493
Vote - Affirmative 6493
Res. 2286, Fin. - Debt (Foreign): Reduction - Support, Mr. J. DeWolfe 6493
Vote - Affirmative 6494
Res. 2287, Fin.: Bill No. 46 - Support, Ms. M. McGrath 6494
Res. 2288, Econ. Dev.: Job Search & Support Prog. (Graduates) -
Support, Mr. D. Morse 6496
Res. 2289, House of Assembly: Political Debate - Level Raise,
Mr. M. Parent 6496
Res. 2290, Fin. - GAAP: Benefits Positive - Recognize, Mr. J. Carey 6497
Vote - Affirmative 6498
Res. 2291, Econ. Dev. - IDRC (2000 World Congress [N.Y.]):
Strait Area Promotion - Lisa Dobson & Ellen Cecchetto Recognize,
Mr. Ronald Chisholm 6498
Vote - Affirmative 6498
Res. 2292, Sports - Curling (Brookfield CC): Season (1999-2000) -
Success Congrats., Mr. B. Taylor 6499
Vote - Affirmative 6499
Res. 2293, Culture - Parkdale Maplewood Commun. Museum:
Quilting Tradition - Continuance Congrats., Hon. M. Baker 6499
Vote - Affirmative 6500
Res. 2294, RCMP Stetsons & Spurs Youth Group - Edinburgh (Scot.):
Visit - Success Wish, Mr. B. Barnet 6500
Vote - Affirmative 6501
Res. 2295, Culture - Music: Platform Rockers (Yar.) - CD Release
Congrats., Mr. R. Hurlburt 6501
Vote - Affirmative 6501
Res. 2296, Commun. Serv. - Busy Bee Day Care Co. Ltd. (Frances &
Reginald Bellefontaine): Anniv. 25th - Congrats., Mr. D. Hendsbee 6502
Vote - Affirmative 6502
Res. 2297, Tourism - Kings Co. (Tourist Designated Area):
Hall's Hbr. - Congrats., Mr. M. Parent 6502
Vote - Affirmative 6503
Res. 2298, Culture - Sherbrooke Village Living History Prog.:
Success - Wish, Mr. Ronald Chisholm 6503
Vote - Affirmative 6504
Res. 2299, Econ. Dev. - Garex Consultants Internat. (Riverton,
Pictou Co.): Ron Woollam & Employees - Congrats.,
Mr. J. DeWolfe 6504
Vote - Affirmative 6505
Res. 2300, PC Party (N.S.) - Re-Election: Prospects - Evaluate (Premier),
Mr. R. MacKinnon 6505
Res. 2301, Econ. Dev. - Tech. Dev. (Can.): Allan Brent MacIsaac &
Peter Poole (N.S. Natives) - Congrats., Hon. A. MacIsaac 6505
Vote - Affirmative 6506
Res. 2302, Educ. - Bridgetown Reg. Elem. Sch.: Literacy -
Promotion Congrats., Mr. F. Chipman 6506
Vote - Affirmative 6507
ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS:
No. 780, Exco - Elections Act: Eastern Shore MLA - Violation,
Mr. R. MacKinnon 6507
No. 781, Exco - Elections Act: MLAs (PC [3]) - Violation,
Mr. Robert Chisholm 6509
No. 782, Exco - Elections Act: Eastern Shore MLA - Violation,
Mr. R. MacLellan 6510
No. 783, Exco - Elections Act: MLAs (PC [3]) - Violation,
Mr. Robert Chisholm 6511
No. 784, Exco - Elections Act: Violation - Investigation Action,
Mr. R. MacLellan 6513
No. 785, Exco - Elections Act: Violation (PC [3]) - Investigation,
Mr. Robert Chisholm 6514
No. 786, Exco - Elections Act: Eastern Shore MLA - Violation,
Mr. R. MacKinnon 6515
No. 787, Health - Budget (2000-01): Affordable Care - Promise,
Mr. F. Corbett 6516
No. 788, Health - Digby Hospital: Closure - Prevent, Mr. W. Gaudet 6518
No. 789, Health: IWK-Grace - Cuts, Mr. Robert Chisholm 6519
No. 790, Health - New Waterford Consol. Hospital: Serv. - Retain,
Mr. P. MacEwan 6520
No. 791, Health - IWK-Grace: Waiting Period - Increase, Mr. D. Dexter 6522
No. 792, Exco - Elections Act: Eastern Shore MLA - Police Investigate,
Mr. R. MacLellan 6523
No. 793, Health - Cuts: Consequences - Verify, Mr. D. Dexter 6524
No. 794, Health: IWK-Grace - Cuts, Mr. R. MacLellan 6525
No. 795, Exco - Elections Act: MLAs (PC [3]) - Violation,
Mr. Robert Chisholm 6527
No. 796, Health - Reg. Bds.: Disbanded - OIC, Dr. J. Smith 6528
No. 797, NSLC - Future: Review - Table, Mr. J. Holm 6530
No. 798, P&P - Website: Employees - Suggestions, Mr. D. Wilson 6531
OPPOSITION MEMBERS' BUSINESS:
MOTIONS OTHER THAN GOVERNMENT MOTIONS:
Res. 1980, Health - Care: Destruction - Stop, Mr. D. Downe 6533
Dr. J. Smith 6533
Hon. J. Muir 6536
Mr. D. Dexter 6539
Mr. D. Downe 6542
Res. 1765, Transport. & Pub. Wks.: N. Sydney/Northumb.
Ferry - Locate, Mr. B. Boudreau 6544
Mr. B. Boudreau 6545
Mr. B. Taylor 6548
Mr. F. Corbett 6552
Mr. R. MacLellan 6554
Hon. R. Russell 6558
ADJOURNMENT:
MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5):
Lbr. - Occup. Health & Safety Regs.: Workplace - Support:
Mr. K. Morash 6559
Mr. K. Deveaux 6562
Mr. B. Boudreau 6565
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Thur., May 25th at 12:00 p.m. 6567

[Page 6475]

HALIFAX, WEDNESDAY, MAY 24, 2000

Fifty-eighth General Assembly

First Session

2:00 P.M.

SPEAKER

Hon. Murray Scott

DEPUTY SPEAKERS

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

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

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House support the continuing efforts of government to support workplace occupational health and safety regulations and the workers that those regulations protect.

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

We will begin the daily routine.

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition from residents in the Herring Cove, Timberlea, Prospect, Hatchet Lake, Harrietsfield area, signed by 506 persons. The operative clause reads, "We, the undersigned supporters of the present and future students in the Halifax Regional School Board, by signing this petition, express our rejection of the inadequate funding proposed by the Department of Education for public schooling for the academic year 2000-2001 and urge that action and planning be taken to raise funding to levels provided to children in the rest of Canada." I have affixed my signature.

6475

[Page 6476]

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable member for Hants East.

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition in the form of a letter that also has 104 signatures. The operative clause reads:

"We are writing to you concerning the condition of the North Salem Road, just outside the town of Shubenacadie.

For several years we have been upset over the lack of work, or the incomplete work, that is done on the road by the transportation department. We have a few suggestions that we would like to share, that we feel would help improve the overall condition of the road, and that could lead to less costly maintenance over the long term.

1. We suggest that grading of the road not be done in heavy rains . . .

2. Applying a layer of gravel on top of the road surface, . . . to maintain the condition of the road.

3. A solution of chloride applied to the road surface would greatly reduce the dust and . . .

4. Finally, and perhaps the most important request, is that road maintenance (grading, gravel, etc.) be done to the very end of the road, not just as far as the MotorSport Park."

This is presented on behalf of the residents and users of the North Salem Road and I have affixed my signature.

MR. SPEAKER: The document is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Finance on an introduction.

HON. NEIL LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, I would like to make an introduction to the House. I would like to bring to the attention of the House two gentlemen in the east gallery, Jim Aucoin who is the Executive Director of la FANE, who I happen to be told is a mentor to Bill Estabrooks here on the floor. Also, Stan Surette who is a former Executive Director of the Nova Scotia School Boards Association, also a former Superintendent of the Clare-Argyle School Board, also a resident of my home constituency of Argyle and a resident of West Pubnico. I would like them both to rise and to receive the warm approbation of the House. (Applause)

[Page 6477]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants East.

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition in the form of a letter from the Musquodoboit Elementary Schools School Advisory Council which involves individuals from Musquodoboit Central Elementary School, Upper Musquodoboit Consolidated School and Dutch Settlement Elementary School. The operative clause reads:

"We, the School Advisory Council for the Musquodoboit Family of Elementary Schools, wish to express our grave concern regarding the recent Nova Scotia Provincial Budget cuts to education.

As an Advisory Council, our primary concern relates to how these cuts will impact the children in the education system, in terms of programs, facilities and interaction with educators. It is our opinion that these cuts represent a short-term plan, without due consideration to the medium or long-term social impacts related to a population with reduced educational opportunities. As well, such cuts will only enhance the existing historical inequities between the rural and urban schools, placing the rural school system at a further disadvantage."

Mr. Speaker, I will affix my signature to this.

MR. SPEAKER: The document is tabled.

The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

DR. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition under the notice of Voices of Concern Petition. "We, the undersigned, protest a reduction in the Public Education Budget recently announced by the Minister of Finance. These cuts will have a devastating impact on the students of the province. We demand the Premier reinstate Public Education Funding." This is from parents of the Millwood Elementary School area in Sackville-Beaver Bank, approximately 70 parents and citizens, and I have affixed my signature.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Tourism and Culture.

HON. RODNEY MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I would like to bring to the attention of the House, in the east gallery, two very strong community members from the County of Richmond, Doug and Eva Landry. I would ask them to rise and receive the warm welcome of the House. (Applause)

[Page 6478]

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Education.

RESOLUTION NO. 2266

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

Whereas the Hackmatack Children's Choice Book Award is an Atlantic Canadian book award that allows children to choose their favourite Canadian and Atlantic Canadian books; and

Whereas the Hackmatack Award is designed to promote reading by children in Atlantic Canada; and

Whereas the award gives young readers the respect they so richly deserve, as well as an opportunity to flex their reading muscle and develop critical thinking by voting for their favourite book;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this Legislature congratulate this year's winners of the Hackmatack Children's Choice Book Awards, Kenneth Oppel in the fiction category, and Nova Scotia's Sheree Fitch for non-fiction.

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 Tourism and Culture.

[Page 6479]

RESOLUTION NO. 2267

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

Whereas the Pictou County Tourist Association is hosting its annual general meeting on May 25th; and

Whereas the association works with operators and others to further develop and promote Pictou as a prime tourism destination; and

Whereas the association has and continues to make significant contributions to Nova Scotia's $1 billion tourism industry;

Therefore be it resolved that the House join me in recognizing members and staff of the Pictou County Tourist Association for their ongoing commitment and dedication, and wishing them continued success in their efforts to grow this vital part of our economy.

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 Finance.

RESOLUTION NO. 2268

HON. NEIL LEBLANC: Monsieur le président; à une date ultérieure, j'ai l'intention de proposer l'adoption de la résolution suivante:

Attendu que les seizième jeux régionaux des Jeux d'Acadie ont pris place dans la région d'Argyle en fin de semaine; et

[Page 6480]

Attendu que 525 athlètes ont compétitionné dans ces jeux de l'Acadie, des jeunes venus des régions acadiennes d'Argyle, de Clare, Pomquet, Sydney, Dartmouth, Truro, Richmond, Chéticamp et de Greenwood et que la région d'Argyle a remporté les honneurs de la région gagnante; et

Attendu que les jeunes et les entraineurs ont atteint un haut niveau d'excellence et d'esprit sportif tout en promouvant la langue française et la culture acadienne;

Qu'il soit résolu que l'assemblée législative félicite tous les participants et toutes les participantes et tous les bénévoles qui ont rendu cet événement possible et que cette même assemblée formule ses voeux de bon succès aux équipe de la Nouvelle-Écosse qui participeront aux finales des Jeux d'Acadie à Fredericton du 28 juin au 2 juillet.

Monsieur le président, je demande un désistement de motion.

Mr. Speaker - to repeat in English - I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas the 16th Regional Acadian Games were held last weekend in Argyle; and

Whereas 525 athletes competed, representing the regions of Argyle, Clare, Pomquet, Sydney, Dartmouth, Truro, Richmond, Cheticamp and Greenwood, with Argyle taking the provincial banner; and

Whereas they and the coaching staff met the goal of athletic excellence and sportsmanship, while at the same time promoting the French language and Acadian culture;

Therefore be it resolved that the House congratulate all of the participants and especially the volunteers who made this event possible, and give best wishes to the successful teams who will be competing in the final of the Acadian Games to be held in Fredericton from June 28th to July 2nd.

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 6481]

The honourable Minister of Agriculture and Marketing.

RESOLUTION NO. 2269

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 Nova Scotia Envirothon Competition, a Natural Resources competition where high school teams answer natural resources and environment questions, and develop solutions to environmental problems, was held on May 4th and May 5th; and

[2:15 p.m.]

Whereas the team from Digby Regional High School won the 2000 Competition again this year, after wins in 1999 and 1998; and

Whereas the team will now go to compete in the first-ever held in Canada International Envirothon Competition to be held July 31st to August 6th at Acadia University in Wolfville;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this Legislature congratulate the ecologically-minded students on the Envirothon team from Digby Regional High School for winning the provincial competition for the third time and wish them well in the international competition and commend and congratulate Acadia University and the Province of Nova Scotia for hosting the first International Envirothon from across North America to be held in Canada.

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.

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

[Page 6482]

NOTICES OF MOTION

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

RESOLUTION NO. 2270

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

Whereas there are concerns for the continued and uninterrupted operation of the emergency/outpatients department at the New Waterford Consolidated Hospital; and

Whereas the emergency/outpatients is one of the most important facilities in the hospital, and no plan is acceptable to have New Waterford area emergency cases redirected to the long line-up at the regional hospital in Sydney; and

Whereas this morning up to 1,000 citizens gathered at the New Waterford Consolidated Hospital to support continued and uninterrupted service at the emergency/outpatients department;

Therefore be it resolved that this House will not tolerate any reduction of health services at the New Waterford Consolidated Hospital, and urges the Minister and Department of Health to address these concerns without delay.

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 Leader of the New Democratic Party.

RESOLUTION NO. 2271

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

Whereas on November 24, 1999, the Premier addressed the Halifax Club on the issue of poverty; and

[Page 6483]

Whereas he movingly said that he bears the most responsibility towards children in poverty and that they would be his government's priority; and

Whereas the Premier's news release then said, "The new government is also working toward elimination of the claw-back provision in the National Child Benefit program, a commitment made for its second year in office";

Therefore be it resolved that six months later, the Premier has forgotten children in poverty, increased the claw-back, slashed the income of poor families and thereby committed a grave injustice against the children for whom he is responsible.

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 Preston.

RESOLUTION NO. 2272

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

Whereas today is Tim Hortons Annual Camp Day, the largest fund-raiser of the year for the Tim Horton's Children's Foundation; and

Whereas the Children's Foundation raised $2.75 million on this day last year, sending more than 6,000 disadvantaged children to camp this summer, many of whom were Nova Scotians; and

Whereas the Tim Hortons Summer Camp experience continues to provide leadership and social skills which will benefit these children into their adult lives;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House recognize the efforts of the management and staff of Tim Hortons outlets across Nova Scotia and thank them for providing such an important service to children in need.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

[Page 6484]

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 Lunenburg West.

RESOLUTION NO. 2273

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

Whereas yesterday in this House, the Minister of Health confirmed that 15 beds are being closed in the Bridgewater area; and

Whereas these beds are being closed due to money and nurses drained out of the province's health care system; and

Whereas during the election campaign, the Tories promised more nurses, more beds for Nova Scotia and that health care would be their number one priority;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House recognize that the Hamm Government said one thing during the election campaign and are now implementing a completely different agenda than they had promised.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

[Page 6485]

RESOLUTION NO. 2274

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

Whereas 82 years ago, in 1918 on April 24th, Canadian women won the right to vote in federal elections; and

Whereas four years later, in 1921, Agnes MacPhail was the first woman to be elected to the Canadian House of Commons where for many years she was the only female Member of Parliament; and

Whereas today only 17.7 per cent of elected representatives at all levels of government are women;

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize that inequality between men and women continues in our society and may account for why important services like home care and child care remain largely a matter of personal concern rather than public policy.

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 Minister of Tourism and Culture.

RESOLUTION NO. 2275

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

Whereas the Envirothon, sponsored by the Nova Scotia Forestry Association, was held at the Strait Campus of the Nova Scotia Community College in Port Hawkesbury; and

Whereas this contest focuses on testing students' knowledge and ingenuity in solving environmental challenges; and

[Page 6486]

Whereas students from Whycocomagh Consolidated School placed third among peers from nine schools across Atlantic Canada;

Therefore be it resolved that we extend our congratulations to these students for their dedication to environmental issues.

Mr. Speaker, I seek waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

RESOLUTION NO. 2276

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

Whereas yesterday the IWK-Grace Health Centre announced that it would cut 46 full-time positions with more job cuts planned for the end of June; and

Whereas these budget cuts will mean the end of the Well Woman Clinic, reduced crisis intervention for children with emotional illnesses and fewer children's dental procedures; and

Whereas the elimination of these services will affect the quality of patient care as a result of longer patient waits and reduced access to care contrary to what the Minister of Health claims;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Health get out of "la la land" to see that his budget cuts will devastate the quality of patient care and further erode Nova Scotia's faith in the health care system.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver.

[Page 6487]

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 Fairview.

RESOLUTION NO. 2277

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 Minister of Health feels he has no obligation to women's health; and

Whereas as the unaware and unconcerned Minister of Health stands idly by with his hands in his pockets, the IWK-Grace Health Centre is closing the Well Woman Clinic; and

Whereas if that minister will not stand up for the well-being of women, then maybe the Minister responsible for the Status of Women will;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister responsible for the Status of Women rise in this House and tell Nova Scotia women what she is doing to protect their health and well-being while her government continues to attack women and children in its heartless budget.

Mr. Speaker, I seek waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Queens.

RESOLUTION NO. 2278

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

[Page 6488]

Whereas Nova Scotians want this province to get its fair share of Atlantic Lottery Corporation revenue with the least amount of taxpayer expense; and

Whereas during the last election this government pledged in its blue book to find out the best way for the province to receive its share of Atlantic Lottery revenue; and

Whereas in January the Premier announced an arrangement was reached with neighbouring Atlantic Provinces, ensuring a better deal by way of $4.9 million per year Atlantic Lottery profits;

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize both positives from this deal - additional revenue for Nova Scotia and a renewed sense of cooperation and good will amongst Atlantic Canadian Premiers.

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 Leader of the Liberal Party.

RESOLUTION NO. 2279

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

Whereas the members of this House were shocked to learn that the Provincial Employment Program for students had been tainted by interference from the Progressive Conservative Party; and

Whereas during yesterday's Question Period the Minister of Economic Development blamed a constituency worker for leaking the information to the Tory Party; and

Whereas clearly the blame rests solely with the minister;

[Page 6489]

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier immediately take steps to reprimand the Minister of Economic Development for using his department to advance the cause of the Progressive Conservative Party.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Centre.

RESOLUTION NO. 2280

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 Premier made a commitment to steelworkers and that was to full pensions for everyone working at Sysco including remediation jobs for anyone who did not have the time to qualify for the full pension; and

Whereas instead of discussing these pension promises with steelworkers, the Premier's negotiators have walked away from the table; and

Whereas the Minister of Finance's budget supposedly took into account the pension and remediation costs;

Therefore be it resolved that this government and the Premier specifically get back to the table with concrete proposals and negotiate in good faith with Sysco steelworkers.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

[Page 6490]

The honourable Minister of Justice.

RESOLUTION NO. 2281

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

Whereas the Lunenburg Family Resource Centre has launched a Community Kitchen Program; and

Whereas the Community Kitchen Program is aimed at assisting those who have a low income or who live alone in preparing low cost and nutritious meals; and

Whereas the participants of the program will plan and prepare their meals together and then be able to take the products home for later use;

Therefore be it resolved that the House of Assembly congratulates the Lunenburg Family Resource Centre and wishes them every success with the Community Kitchen Program.

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 Dartmouth North.

RESOLUTION NO. 2282

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

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

[Page 6491]

Whereas since August 17th this Tory Government's first full day in office, 1,644 children have been born into poverty; and

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

Therefore be it resolved that this Tory Government start waking up to the health, education and social deficits faced by the 1,644 children born into poverty under this Tory Regime.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Health.

RESOLUTION NO. 2283

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

Whereas Isobel Cream received an Excellence in Nursing Practice Award from the Registered Nurses' Association of Nova Scotia at its 2000 Annual Meeting; and

Whereas Isobel Cream is described as cheerful, determined, caring, knowledgable, gentle and compassionate in her role as Manager of Resident Care at Hillcrest Manor; and

Whereas before joining the Hillcrest Manor staff, Isobel was a head nurse in medical nursing at the Colchester Regional Hospital for more than 25 years;

Therefore be it resolved that all members congratulate Isobel Cream on earning an Excellence in Nursing Practice Award and thank her for providing the standard of care for more than 25 years that is an exemplary model for others.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for waiver.

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

[Page 6492]

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour.

RESOLUTION NO. 2284

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

Whereas the IWK-Grace announced yesterday that it will be reducing its staffing levels by 45.85 full-time equivalent positions; and

Whereas these lay-offs will mean longer wait times for certain services and will affect our ability to address the existing unmet needs; and

Whereas the government has now let mothers, new-born children, unborn children and the rest of the children of the province down by attacking the budget of a hospital that specifically caters to their care;

Therefore be it resolved that this House condemn the Minister of Health and the Minister of Finance for sacrificing women and children in this province first.

Mr. Speaker, I would 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 Annapolis.

[Page 6493]

[2:30 p.m.]

RESOLUTION NO. 2285

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

Whereas the Horizon View 4-H Club in Annapolis County consists of 16 members who work incredibly hard to make their community a better place to live; and

Whereas a recent walk-a-thon in which 12 of the 16 members participated raised several hundred dollars and resulted in donations by club members to the Solomon's Lunch program in Middleton and to the IWK children's hospital; and

Whereas the club is now exceptionally busy doing projects before the beginning of the summer season;

Therefore be it resolved that Horizon View 4-H Club members be commended by all MLAs for their diligent work and generosity in making vital contributions to their community, county and province.

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 Pictou East.

RESOLUTION NO. 2286

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

Whereas it is important to reduce the amount of Nova Scotia's debt that is subject to the volatile foreign money markets; and

[Page 6494]

Whereas this government pledged in the last election to repatriate the debt we owe to foreign lenders; and

Whereas foreign exposure is down from 46 per cent last fall to 36 per cent at March 31, 2000, with plans to have it at 20 per cent by the year 2005;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House support this government's efforts to reduce the amount of Nova Scotia's debt held by foreign lenders.

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 Halifax Bedford Basin.

RESOLUTION NO. 2287

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

Whereas Nova Scotians want their government, like they do themselves on a daily basis, to practise basic economics and live within its means; and

Whereas ensuring new spending comes out of existing department budgets is necessary in order for government to live within its means; and

Whereas this government has introduced Bill No. 46, which requires new programs to be funded from the existing envelope;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House support a measure which will ensure that this and future governments can afford all new departmental spending and live within their means.

Mr. Speaker, I seek waiver.

[Page 6495]

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Pictou West.

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

Whereas the public has a right to know who is being paid to provide information to government; and

Whereas the Justice Minister introduced a bill on Thursday that would require consultants paid to lobby on behalf of an individual, corporation or trade union to provide their names, and the names of their clients, to a registrar of lobbyists; and

Whereas this bill brings the process of lobbying from out of the backrooms and into the open;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House support the government's effort to establish a more accountable and open process of lobbying.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

MR. JOHN HOLM: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. We in this caucus certainly do support the introduction of lobbyist legislation and we have been calling for it for a long time. But that having been said, Mr. Speaker, I am just wondering if you would have a look at that resolution to see if it is in order. The reason why I say that is that there is a bill before this House and I am not sure that we are allowed to have a resolution dealing with a bill that is before this House.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. That resolution does pertain to a bill before the House, so it is out of order.

The honourable member for Kings South.

[Page 6496]

RESOLUTION NO. 2288

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

Whereas recent university graduates can, at times, find it difficult to obtain that first job; and

Whereas this government pledged during the last election to create a comprehensive job search and support program for recent graduates; and

Whereas a program has now been established by this government which will provide students with practical job search skills and interview assistance, together with information on employment opportunities;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House support this government in its efforts to help recent graduates in the very important task of seeking employment.

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 Kings North.

RESOLUTION NO. 2289

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

Whereas the Leader of the Liberal Party claims in today's Daily News that good people are being dissuaded from seeking political office in this province because Nova Scotia politics has become a "blood sport"; and

Whereas it is important for us to do what we can to change this unfortunate reality; and

[Page 6497]

Whereas our individual and collective behaviour in this House of Assembly sometimes contributes to the denigration of political life;

Therefore be it resolved that we agree both as individuals and as political Parties to raise the level of political debate and personal deportment while in this House in order to elevate the status of political life, and thus attract the best possible candidates to political service in our province.

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 Kings West.

RESOLUTION NO. 2290

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

Whereas Nova Scotians should be provided the ability to clearly determine the true state of the province's finances; and

Whereas during the election campaign, the government's blue book pledged to establish accounting procedures that would use only one set of financial books; and

Whereas the government's decision to follow Generally Accepted Accounting Procedures provides the citizens of Nova Scotia with an accurate view of the province's financial situation;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize the positive benefits to all Nova Scotians of finally offering a clear picture of the province's finances.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 6498]

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 Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury.

RESOLUTION NO. 2291

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

Whereas the Industrial Development Research Council recently hosted the 2000 World Congress in New York, attracting 3,000 development professionals from around the globe; and

Whereas the Strait area was represented by Lisa Dobson of the Strait Highlands Regional Development Authority and Ellen Cecchetto of the Strait Area Chamber of Commerce; and

Whereas the congress provided an opportunity for these Nova Scotians to advance the Strait area business case plan to prospective clients;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House recognize the efforts of Lisa Dobson and Ellen Cecchetto, not only in New York but everywhere, and thank them for promoting the Strait area so effectively at a critical time in the development of our region.

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 Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

[Page 6499]

RESOLUTION NO. 2292

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

Whereas the Brookfield Curling Club recently held their annual closing awards banquet; and

Whereas the Brookfield Curling Club was proud this year to be home of the 2000 Nova Scotia Masters Curling Championship rink of Hugh Matheson, Ed Graham, John Hiltz and Leo Rovers; and

Whereas numerous other awards were presented as well to league and play-off winners from the Brookfield Curling Club;

Therefore be it resolved that MLAs congratulate the members and executive of the Brookfield Curling Club for having another fantastic season of local and provincial curling competition.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Justice.

RESOLUTION NO. 2293

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

Whereas the year 2000 is the International Year of the Quilt; and

Whereas the Parkdale Maplewood Community Museum is hosting its second Aunt Dinah's Quilting Party on June 10th to celebrate this event; and

[Page 6500]

Whereas there will be approximately 30 quilts and 30 mats showcased, and volunteers will be quilting and hooking throughout the day, as well as teaching basic quilting and hooking skills to guests;

Therefore be it resolved that the House of Assembly congratulate the Parkdale Maplewood Community Museum on their efforts to keep the quilting tradition alive.

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-Beaver Bank.

RESOLUTION NO. 2294

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

Whereas this coming August, an RCMP Stetsons and Spurs Youth Group will once again meet with a youth group from Edinburgh, Scotland; and

Whereas last summer the group from Scotland came to Nova Scotia for the first time to attend international workshops and see many of the beautiful and historic sites Nova Scotia has to offer; and

Whereas this year, the group from Lower Sackville, consisting of 15 youths between the ages of 15 and 20, along with five advisors, will travel to Scotland;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House wish the members of the RCMP Stetsons and Spurs Youth Group well as they travel to Edinburgh, Scotland, to join with their hosts in sharing the rich culture and history of that country.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

[Page 6501]

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 Yarmouth.

RESOLUTION NO. 2295

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

Whereas Platform Rockers, a five piece band from Yarmouth, recently released their first CD; and

Whereas the CD entitled Sublime contains a variety of original music drawing on the wide range of musical influences from all five band members; and

Whereas the band is currently busy promoting their new CD, rehearsing their new songs and perfecting their stage show;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate the members of the Platform Rockers, Danny Surette, Glenn Thorbahn, Andre Surette, John MacIntosh and Rick Durkee on the release of their first CD and wish them every success.

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 Preston.

[Page 6502]

RESOLUTION NO. 2296

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

Whereas the Busy Bee Day Care Company Limited opened its first facility in Lake Echo in 1974 under the ownership of Frances and Reginald Bellefontaine and will be celebrating its 25th graduating class on June 16th of this year; and

Whereas Fran and Reg have since expanded Busy Bee Day Care into three other neighbouring communities; and

Whereas the Busy Bee team provides an important service to the families in these communities;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House extend their congratulations to Frances and Reginald Bellefontaine, together with their staff, for more than 25 years of success and wish them the best as they continue to meet the needs of local families.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Kings North.

RESOLUTION NO. 2297

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

Whereas Hall's Harbour is an area of great scenic beauty nestled in the hills of the shores of the Bay of Fundy; and

Whereas this community attracts some 70,000 tourists each year, all of whom come to enjoy its warm hospitality and admire its natural beauty; and

[Page 6503]

Whereas in order to preserve and protect the unique beauty and tourist appeal of this scenic harbour, the Kings County Council has designated the hamlet of Hall's Harbour as a Tourist Designated Area, only the second such area in Kings County to be so recognized;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House join me in congratulating the citizens of Hall's Harbour for the work they have done to preserve the appeal of their hamlet and the members of the Kings County Council for their foresight in bestowing this designation on the Hall's Harbour area.

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 Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury.

RESOLUTION NO. 2298

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

Whereas 21 Grade 5 students from St. Mary's Elementary School recently became the first Sherbrooke area school to participate in the Sherbrooke Village Living History Program; and

Whereas these students spent three days and two nights in Sherbrooke Village learning what it was like in a typical 19th Century Nova Scotia community; and

Whereas last year about 650 students from 15 schools from across the province participated in this program;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize the Sherbrooke Village Living History Program and wish program organizers continued success as they provide students from across Nova Scotia an opportunity to go back in time and be a part of the history of this province.

[Page 6504]

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 Pictou East.

RESOLUTION NO. 2299

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

Whereas Garex Consultants International employs eight individuals along with owner Ron Woollam and is located in Riverton, Pictou County, servicing customers worldwide in the railway and transportation business; and

Whereas this company does work across Canada, the United States and many other countries including Indonesia, the Phillippines and Venezuela; and

Whereas other projects the company has been involved with was one in Chile and three others that are presently being looked at by Mr. Woollam in the Ukraine;

Therefore be it resolved that members of the House of Assembly congratulate owner Ron Woollam and his employees for their dynamic work which keeps customers from across the world coming back time and again to Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

[Page 6505]

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton West.

[2:45 p.m.]

RESOLUTION NO. 2300

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

Whereas on a previous day the Premier indicated that the members for Kings South and Kings North could not meet with their constituents because the House was sitting and it was important that they tend to legislative business; and

Whereas last evening the Premier found time to escort both members to a Chamber of Commerce dinner in the Valley where PC Leader Joe Clark was in attendance; and

Whereas Joe Clark indicated that he would have to "read the tea leaves" in determining his future political consideration in the House of Commons;

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier read the tea leaves for the honourable members aforementioned and evaluate re-election prospects given their priorities are big business and partisan politics over representing the needs of their constituents.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Housing and Municipal Affairs.

RESOLUTION NO. 2301

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

Whereas Allen Brent MacIsaac and Peter Poole are graduates of Dr. John Hugh Gillis Regional School and St. Francis Xavier University, Antigonish; and

Whereas Dr. MacIsaac and Dr. Poole, professors of applied mathematics at the University of Western Ontario, London, were instrumental in building a supercomputer in a joint effort between the university and Compaq of Canada Incorporated as reported in the April 3rd edition of Maclean's Magazine; and

[Page 6506]

Whereas this accomplishment resulted in the opening of the Compaq Western Centre for computational research which is now the most powerful supercomputer running the Linux open source operating system in the country;

Therefore be it resolved that this House extend its congratulations to these native Nova Scotians for their contribution to technology development in Canada which increases the research capacity of Canadians in many fields, including radiation therapy, research for cancer treatment, designing better aircraft wings and the development of new high-performance materials.

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 Annapolis.

RESOLUTION NO. 2302

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

Whereas students from Bridgetown Regional Elementary School held a read-a-thon earlier this month to promote literacy and to raise funds for their school's enrichment program; and

Whereas the read-a-thon was organized with the help of the local Home and School Association; and

Whereas all classes were asked to participate with each class selecting a reading area dedicated to a selected theme;

Therefore be it resolved that MLAs congratulate students, parents and staff of the Bridgetown Regional Elementary School for the promotion of literacy and for their ingenuity in organizing a successful fund-raiser for the school's enrichment program.

[Page 6507]

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.

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. Earlier today the honourable member for Hants East tabled a letter that was written to Robert Chisholm. It is addressed to the New Democratic Party Caucus Office, Mr. Chisholm, and it indicates that the names that are typed would welcome a response to their concern from the Leader of the NDP. It was tabled as a petition and I would ask that perhaps you review that document to determine whether or not, in fact, it is a petition or a letter addressed to the Leader of the NDP.

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, on that member's point, we asked those individuals for their permission to present that as a petition and that is what they wanted done.

MR. SPEAKER: I will take that under advisement.

ORDERS OF THE DAY

ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS

MR. SPEAKER: Question Period will begin at 2:49 p.m. and will end at 4:19 p.m.

The honourable member for Cape Breton West.

EXCO - ELECTIONS ACT: EASTERN SHORE MLA - VIOLATION

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Premier. Earlier today we received some rather clear unequivocal evidence that the member for Eastern Shore had requested a cheque at the taxpayers' expense during the last provincial election in his capacity as a councillor, but also he was a nominated candidate for the Party which the Premier represents. I will table this evidence. It is a cheque that was issued to the Neudy Quoddy Sporting Club. The request was made on July 2, 1999, and the cheque was issued July 6, 1999. This is a direct contravention, a violation of Section 204 of the Elections Act. My question to the Premier is, what action is he prepared to take to address this issue?

[Page 6508]

HON. JOHN HAMM (The Premier): Mr. Speaker, the member opposite was volunteering to table the information. It would be helpful. The information that was just brought across arrived at my office less than an hour before the House convened, and I have asked staff to have a look at it. We will have a chance to evaluate the information. (Interruption)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member for Cape Breton West on your first supplementary.

MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the Premier's answer, but the fact of the matter is the Premier should have done some due diligence on this member before he signed his nomination papers. Clearly, what we have is a situation where he shouldn't have to wait an hour or two hours or x number of days. When this issue was raised on an earlier day, the Premier should have immediately asked for that information and received it immediately. Obviously we are not dealing with an honourable member. My question to the Premier, will he ask for the resignation of the member for Eastern Shore?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite is an experienced member. If he has any information that he thinks is relevant to the electoral process, I would suggest he submit it to the Chief Electoral Officer. There is a process to follow in this kind of situation. (Interruption)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, I will table the sections of the Elections Act and what the definition of a candidate really is so the Premier will be able to determine in very short order what the situation is. We had the problem with the issue of a slum landlord. We had the issue of the honourable member for Eastern Shore dumping garbage in his backyard and so on and so on; as recent as yesterday, with the scandal of the Minister of Economic Development saying that a constituency worker was leaking information from his department. My question to the Premier, what is the Premier going to do to convince Nova Scotians that he is not simply running another John Buchanan-style government?

THE PREMIER: Again, I would suggest very strongly that if the member opposite has information that he thinks is relevant (Interruption) While he is at it, perhaps he might want to also submit to the Chief Electoral Officer that the member for Cape Breton South on July 23, 1999, announced $425,000 as a minister during the election process. (Interruption)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. (Interruptions) Order, please. Order, please. (Interruptions) Order! I would ask the honourable Premier to table the document that he referred to.

[Page 6509]

The honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party.

EXCO - ELECTIONS ACT: MLAs (PC [3]) - VIOLATION

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, as was just discussed, members of this House have seen a list of cheques issued from the Halifax Councillors' District Capital Funds by former councillors Barnet, Hendsbee and Dooks. This list shows that all three were handing out donations of public funds after they were nominated as Progressive Conservative candidates. (Interruptions) It shows the MLA for Eastern Shore handed out cheques during the election campaign itself, and that all three handed out funds soon after the election was over.

I want to ask the Premier again - he was asked before, a week or so ago, and information has now come to light - will he investigate this apparent abuse of public funds and report to Nova Scotians whether it meets the ethical standards that he has set for his government?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I have had a chance to look at some of these lists. One of the confusing things is that many of the cheques were issued after the writ was issued, but the requests clearly were approved before the writ was issued. In those particular circumstances, I can see no harm. (Interruptions)

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, the MLA for Preston has boasted that he was the first person nominated to be a member of the 1999 Hamm team. While a nominated Tory candidate, that MLA handed out or prepared to hand out more than $62,000 in public funds. My question to the Premier, the Premier promised that he would lead the fight against politically-inspired spending. I want to ask the Premier, as head of this government, will he look into this matter and determine whether the spirit of the law and the standard that he has declared were in fact violated by a member or members of his caucus?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, what I can say to the member opposite is what I have previously said. If you have information that suggests that there were any irregularities in the election, you should present that information to the Chief Electoral Officer of the province, where it can be properly adjudicated.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, it was, in fact, John Buchanan who said that a colleague or an associate had to be convicted before the Premier would consider them to be out of line. There is evidence here in this room today that donations were given and donations were promised in clear violation of the law, in clear violation of the Act, and in violation of the spirit of the Act. I want to ask the Premier, are there any ethical standards for members of the government caucus, and if so, why won't the Premier investigate this evidence that public trust was abused by several of his own MLAs? (Interruptions)

[Page 6510]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Order, please.

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite obviously suffers from the delusion that somehow if he raises his voice in the House that he is right. What the member opposite wants to do is have some kind of an investigation here in the House. What I am saying to the member opposite is if you have information that suggests that there was wrongdoing during the election, bring your information to the Chief Electoral Officer, where it should be.

[3:00 p.m.]

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

EXCO - ELECTIONS ACT: EASTERN SHORE MLA - VIOLATION

MR. RUSSELL MACLELLAN: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Premier. In his lame defence of the member for Eastern Shore, he talks about not having the information that we just presented to him, that I am sure he had. I want to know how the Premier was able to secure all of this information about the activities of the former Minister of Economic Development and what he gave in the little bit of time he had, but didn't have any time to research and come to a conclusion about the activities of the member for Eastern Shore?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I am sure if the member opposite had watched carefully, he could have seen that a note came into the House and that is where I got the information.

MR. MACLELLAN: Mr. Speaker, I want to know the name of the speed reading course that the Premier had taken to be able to get to that particular spot and understand it in the time that he would have had. That is just absolute nonsense. He knew exactly what the member for Eastern Shore had done. It was brought up by the member for Cape Breton West previously. This information would have been made available to the Tory Party as it was made available to us. Why is he misleading this House - and he is misleading this House - why doesn't he come clean and tell us, what is his responsibility with respect to the member for Eastern Shore? What discipline is he going to give?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the reason I was very quickly able to come to grips is because the member opposite very conveniently highlighted the two lines that I had to read in the report. So it wasn't a great feat of intellect to come to grips with what the member opposite was saying. I have also received another piece of information and it doesn't seem to say here, in the Elections Act, that there is any prevention from a councillor doing his duty under the Elections Act. It is obvious that the members opposite have come to a political conclusion. If the members opposite have information, submit it to the Chief Electoral Officer of the province.

[Page 6511]

MR. MACLELLAN: Mr. Speaker, it is clear that there is a violation of the Elections Act. Even with the slow process of the Tory Government, I am sure they can understand that but we are prepared to ask the Chief Electoral Officer to put the Elections Act in comic book form so this government can understand it. I want to know, is this Premier going to take action against the member for Eastern Shore or is he going to shilly-shally, is he going to abdicate, once again, his responsibilities for the moral fibre of this province? I will tell you, there is a hole in the side of the Titanic that is smaller than the minister's code of conduct . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable Premier.

THE PREMIER: The member opposite has information. Let him table it with the Chief Electoral Officer. If he hasn't, let's get on to another question.

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

EXCO - ELECTIONS ACT: MLAs (PC [3]) - VIOLATION

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I can understand the Premier wanting to get on to another topic. I can understand that. The Premier, in the campaign, in his famous blue book, talked about ethical standards for all politicians. He said, in this House, in response to concerns raised (Interruptions)

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

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, in response to questions raised in this House about the spending practices of municipal councillors, when they were candidates for his Party, he said that he knew nothing of it and he wouldn't find anything out. Well, today, information has been presented which, in fact, confirms that money was promised and money was spent . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Question.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: . . . both during the election campaign and afterwards. I want to ask the Premier, Mr. Speaker, what will it take, what kind of evidence will it take for the Premier to recognize there are concerns over the public trust and how funds were disbursed by members of his caucus, and will he not proceed with an investigation?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I had already indicated, in answer to a previous question, that I have asked to have the information that was brought to my office, less than hour before the House opened today, to have that analysed.

[Page 6512]

I do challenge the member opposite since he seems to have come to a very quick decision, if you are convinced of what you say bring the information to the Chief Electoral Officer because that is where it belongs.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I think the Premier, as the head of the government, has some duty, has some obligation to be responsible for his caucus. I know that as Leader of this Party - so does my caucus know - that we have an obligation to ensure the standards of conduct of members of our caucus are above reproach. We have honoured that obligation. The Premier has said before that he is going to investigate and he is going to run a squeaky clean government . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: . . . information is now before the House, which appears to indicate . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: . . . that members contravened the Elections Act. I am asking the Premier, given that information has been presented, will he investigate and if not, why not?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite has already heard me say that I have asked to have the matter looked into, but I would suggest again very strongly to the member, if you think that an inappropriate action was done by anyone in this House then I would suggest you take the information to the relevant agency, in this case it happens to be the Chief Electoral Officer of the province. That is where the information should be tabled and presented.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, the Premier is following the adage, hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil. He is not prepared to take the responsibility of his position as head of the Tory Party and as the head of this government. I am going to table here today the section of the Elections Act where it defines candidate. It defines candidate, Mr. Speaker, as one "who is declared by himself, or by others with his consent. to be a candidate . . ." With this information and the evidence that came from the Halifax Regional Municipality, there are concerns with respect to the conduct of members of his caucus.

MR. SPEAKER: Question.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: I ask the Premier, again, to do the right thing, Mr. Speaker, and ensure an investigation is conducted into whether members of his caucus have broken the law or the spirit of the Elections Act?

[Page 6513]

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I do have in front of me Page 125 of the Elections Act and I am quite sure that is the reference that the member opposite is using, and it would appear that the member opposite has made an interpretation of what that means. If he is convinced that that particular section of the Act has been breached, then he must take that information to the Chief Electoral Officer.

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

EXCO - ELECTIONS ACT: VIOLATION - INVESTIGATION ACTION

MR. RUSSELL MACLELLAN: Mr. Speaker, we, as a Party, have written to the Chief Electoral Officer asking for an investigation. Now, we want to know, what is the Premier going to do?

THE PREMIER: Well, the Leader of the Liberal Party finally 'fessed up. He has written to the Chief Electoral Officer but, despite that, he is not prepared to allow any member of this House to have justice, he wants to have his particular brand of justice.

MR. MACLELLAN: I wonder how long it is going to take the Premier to find a constituency assistant to blame for this. (Laughter) ( Interruptions) The Premier is like the person who lost $5.00 when the goal was scored in the hockey game and another $5.00 on the instant replay. What is he going to do? He knew about this; he had the time; and he had the advance information. What has he done to find out about the actions of the member for Eastern Shore? What is he going to do to discipline this member? What is he going to do to discipline other people in this Party who should have known better?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

THE PREMIER: The member opposite is talking about discipline after he has already admitted that he submitted it to the Chief Electoral Officer, but he is not prepared to wait for that; he wants to have a hangman's trial right here because it is convenient for his purposes. Why is the member opposite writing to the Chief Electoral Officer if in fact he has made up his mind already about this member who is unable to stand up in the House and defend himself?

MR. MACLELLAN: We are quite prepared to have the member for Eastern Shore stand up and defend himself; we have no objection to that at all. What we have an objection to, on behalf of this Party and all people in Nova Scotia who are really getting sick and tired of the way this government is belittling the ethics in the Province of Nova Scotia, we want some example, some indication that there is some backbone in that government, that they in fact are in charge and that they are not just taking advice from back-room people. Where is the Premier showing that he in fact is the Premier and is in charge? Where is his moral authority? Where is his leadership?

[Page 6514]

THE PREMIER: The member opposite conveniently forgets that his government had an opportunity to do what had to be done here in Nova Scotia, to bring fiscal responsibility to the province. They didn't do the job, but this government is prepared to do it.

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

EXCO - ELECTIONS ACT: VIOLATION (PC [3]) - INVESTIGATION

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I want to ask the Premier, the Premier has indicated that he has asked somebody to examine the information that has been brought to the floor with respect to the distribution of municipal funds by three members of his caucus. I want to ask the Premier, would he indicate to members of this House who will be conducting the investigation, what are the terms of reference, and will that information be provided to members of this House, i.e., to the public of Nova Scotia?

THE PREMIER: The member opposite heard the Leader of the Liberal Party indicate that he has already submitted this information to the Chief Electoral Officer. If the Leader of the New Democratic Party has additional information, he may wish to do the same because that is where this issue should be decided. Once the decision has been made to put that in the Chief Electoral Officer's hands, then that is the process that should be followed and I endorse it.

[3:15 p.m.]

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I am just following up on what the Premier said, not what anybody else said. The Premier said he would ask somebody in his office to investigate it. It almost sounds as though the Premier has suspended the investigation before it is even started. So I go to the Premier again. I think the idea that somebody else, other than the Premier, is going to initiate an investigation by the Chief Electoral Officer is a good idea, but I am more interested in what the Premier of this province is going to do about an issue that causes Nova Scotians some considerable concerns.

He said he would investigate it. I want to ask him, who is going to conduct the investigation, when will the information be made available and will it be made available in this House?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I had asked staff in my office to look at the information because it had only reached my office less than an hour before the House sat today and I asked them to go over the information, all of the dates and so on. At that particular time, needless to say, I had not come to any conclusions. The member opposite, the Leader of the Liberal Party, has indicated that he came to the conclusion that it was a matter for the Chief Electoral Officer. Now that he has made that decision, he has informed the House of that decision, then that is where the matter should sit.

[Page 6515]

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I am really concerned with the fact that this Premier does not appear willing, let alone able, to accept any responsibility as the team captain, as the Leader of the Party, for the conduct of members of his caucus. Evidence has been presented in this House about the allocation of municipal funds during the election campaign which raises real concerns for people about the conduct of members of his caucus.

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: I would think that the Premier would want to clear this up instead of fighting the stonewall action. I ask the Premier, I beseech the Premier to show some leadership - Strong Leadership....a clear course - present information in this House that he has conducted an investigation as to whether the Act itself, or the spirit of the Act in terms of ethical standards, has been breached and what he plans to do about it. Will he do the honourable thing, conduct that investigation and present his conclusions to this House?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I believe that now that the issue is before the Chief Electoral Officer, and I am taking the Leader of the Liberal Party at his word that he has, in fact, referred this matter on, now that it has been forwarded to the proper authority, I believe that all members of the House have a right to have that kind of a hearing.

I would hope that once the Chief Electoral Officer has had an opportunity to look at the matter and if, in fact, the members who are being castigated by the members of the Opposition, if, in fact, they are vindicated by the Chief Electoral Officer, I would hope that the Leader of the New Democratic Party and the Leader of the Liberal Party will stand up in this House and apologize to those members. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

The honourable member for Cape Breton West.

EXCO - ELECTIONS ACT: EASTERN SHORE MLA - VIOLATION

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, the fact of the matter is the reason we went to the Chief Electoral Officer is because the CEO for the Conservative caucus and the Premier of this province refused to do something. So obviously, on behalf of the people of Nova Scotia, we had to take some action. My question to the Premier is, if it can be shown that a senior Party worker for the member for Eastern Shore in the last provincial election took seniors from the Elmhurst Seniors Complex to lunch at the Fairbanks Motel with a promissory note that they wouldn't have to pay for their lunch if they would support the honourable member for Eastern Shore. Would he ask for his resignation?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. It is a hypothetical question, but would the Premier like to answer it? (Interruptions) Order, please. The honourable Premier.

[Page 6516]

THE PREMIER: The member brings to the attention of the government an issue about which I have no previous knowledge. If you have information, table it.

MR. MACKINNON: Perhaps I will guide the Premier a bit. He may want to check on the name of one Judith Smiley who is closely associated with the honourable member. I will leave it at that for now. Mr. Speaker, quite frankly, I have received calls myself with suggestions that cases of pop were delivered to school buses during the provincial election. I raise that because I will address it with the Premier privately. My question to the Premier is, given the fact of this issue and all other issues surrounding the government, is he prepared to introduce this code of conduct legislation within the next 24 hours, so we can get on and debate the principles of this legislation and ensure that all members are cleared of any possible scurrilous accusations. If they are unfounded, we will certainly stand by the fact that those members should be respected accordingly, same as we would ourselves. Is the Premier prepared to move fast on this particular issue?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the legislation to which the member opposite referred will be brought forward as soon as it is complete. I had indicated on a previous occasion that it would be brought forward in this sitting of the House, and that will happen. Now, if the member opposite has information, which his question would suggest he has, he has two choices. He either tables it here, or he goes to the Chief Electoral Officer.

MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, we will have to go somewhere else, because we are not getting the leadership from this Premier on the issue of integrity when it comes to the code of conduct. Will the Premier give an undertaking to all members of this House and to all Nova Scotians that this code of conduct legislation will be approved before the House rises in the spring session? (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please (Interruptions) Order, please. (Interruptions) Order, please. The honourable Premier.

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I had made a commitment the other day about bringing in the information, and I would remind members opposite that was a commitment that was in the blue book. The commitment will be kept.

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

HEALTH - BUDGET (2000-01): AFFORDABLE CARE - PROMISE

MR. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health. As he may be aware of by now, over 600 people had to take to the streets in New Waterford today because they were outraged by this minister's budget and the possible cuts on their outpatient services. In the budget, the minister promised to provide an affordable health care

[Page 6517]

system for all Nova Scotians, regardless of where they lived. My question to the Minister of Health is, why are you breaking this promise to the people of New Waterford?

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, this government is keeping the promise it made to all Nova Scotians, including the people of New Waterford.

MR. CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, after this group met with the CEO of the Cape Breton Regional Hospital, they got a temporary reprieve. Where we come from there are many seniors and so on. I want to ask this minister, how will you ensure that the people of New Waterford have equal access to health care, regardless of their income?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, Nova Scotia is a signatory to the Canada Health Act, and among other things the Canada Health Act provides for equality of access to health care. The people of New Waterford are entitled to the same degree of access to health care as other Nova Scotians. I think, with all respect to the honourable member, he is speaking about a particular situation. If he wishes to bring that to the floor, then I will address that specific question.

MR. CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, I brought it to his attention, it is about the ER. As I said, they got a temporary reprieve. He will know that MSI pays certain hourly wages for after-hours physicians in certain ER rooms, for instance it is $71 an hour in Glace Bay, and it is only $56 an hour in New Waterford. There is an agreement at the regional hospital that these will be topped up to regional levels. My question to you, Mr. Minister, is, will you guarantee the people of New Waterford that they will get access to the funding that will top them up to the regional level after July 1st, yes or no?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, there is a different rate for emergency rooms and different types of hospitals in the province. The rate to which the honourable member refers, for New Waterford, the emergency room physicians there receive approximately $56 an hour, and that is for an on-call situation. What happened was that the Cape Breton Regional Health Board had chosen to top that up by $16 an hour to make it up to $72 an hour. The rate for those who are performing emergency services at the Cape Breton Regional Health Care Complex is a little bit more than that, there is a different rate for the regional hospitals.

I want to assure the House that the base rate the physicians are getting in New Waterford is the same base rate the physicians in other community hospitals in the province get. It was negotiated with the Nova Scotia Medical Society.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Clare.

[Page 6518]

HEALTH - DIGBY HOSPITAL: CLOSURE - PREVENT

MR. WAYNE GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health. A memo, supposedly from the Digby Hospital, dated April 19, 2000, was circulated several weeks ago. The memo said that the hospital would be closed on May 31st. The Health Minister was quick to say that the memo was a fake, but he did not offer a guarantee that the hospital would not close. My question to the minister, will the minister guarantee that the Digby Hospital will not close?

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, we have said on a number of occasions, and I have said it in the House, that there will be no hospital closures this coming year.

MR. GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, we have learned that the MLA for Digby-Annapolis met with representatives of the Digby General Hospital last Saturday, May 20th. The MLA said the Digby General Hospital was going to be downgraded from a hospital to a community health clinic. Downgrading means bed closures, loss of jobs and reduction of services. Many people in Digby will be forced to drive to Yarmouth or Kentville for some services. My question to the minister, will the minister guarantee that the Digby General Hospital will keep the same level of staff and services?

[3:30 p.m.]

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, as the honourable member knows, there is sort of a new structure for health care being developed in the province. There is going to be the formation of district health authorities which will obviously make some decisions about health care services in their particular health authorities. In addition, we are studying the business plans that have been submitted by the various non-designated institutions as well as the regional health boards. As the honourable member knows, too, there is a clinical services footprint being developed which has not yet been finalized.

MR. GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, my final supplementary is for the Minister of Economic Development. The level of health services in an area is a key factor for businesses looking to locate. Without adequate health services, the economy of an area will suffer. What is the minister doing to ensure that the economy of Digby County does not suffer as a result of cuts to the Digby hospital?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I believe the question should be directed to the minister responsible for that particular department which would be Health. It is a health question.

MR. GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, I will refer that question to the Minister of Health, then.

[Page 6519]

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I will repeat what I said earlier. There is ongoing planning for health care in this province. We are interested in not only having health care today, we are interested in having health care tomorrow. We have said in here on a number of occasions that the health care costs were spiralling. They were out of control and it was necessary to take steps to ensure that we had a health care system that is sustainable and affordable, it has quality and it provides access and we are taking the steps to see that occurs in Nova Scotia.

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

HEALTH: IWK-GRACE - CUTS

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I want to direct my question through you to the Premier. Last July 7th, the Premier told the IWK-Grace staff that he was going to cut mismanagement, not health care. He said then that 20 per cent of the central regional board budget was being wasted on administration and that he would save that money by eliminating the regional boards. Instead, the Premier is forcing the IWK to cut real services for real people. This week alone, he is cutting Youth Crisis Intervention, Child Protection, Pastoral Care and the Well Woman Clinic at the Maritime's only children's hospital. I want to ask the Premier, will he tell Nova Scotians why it is that he is cutting these vital services instead of the 20 per cent administration that he had identified?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I will refer that to the Minister of Health.

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, we have been sitting down with the district regional health boards, the non-designated institution, including the IWK, since November and working on business plans. I just said that the cost of health care in this province was spiralling out of control. There was a reduction in the health care budget this year. About 42 per cent of the program budget of the province is tied up in health services and if we were to pursue a reasonable fiscal agenda, one that would see health services in this province continue, then we had to address health as well. We have asked the IWK, as well as the other non-designated institutions and the regional health boards, to make adjustments in their operations to live within the budgets which have been allocated to them.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, they are making adjustments all right. I am going to the Premier because it is the Premier who made these commitments, the Premier who sang these beautiful songs to the people of Nova Scotia in the election. This Premier spent much of the election campaign commending the IWK-Grace staff. On July 8th, in a playground on Turnmill Drive in Clayton Park, he congratulated them for recognizing that quality health care can't be achieved in isolation from the issues of child poverty, education and social services. I want to ask the Premier, he made those commitments, he made those nice noises, why then is it exactly those services that he talked about on July 7th, which deal with the broader aspects of health care, which reduce risk and prevent serious illness, that are being hit by the first lay-offs at the IWK-Grace?

[Page 6520]

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite would seem to think that we have a lot more money for health care, we have a lot more money for education, we have a lot more money for horse racing. In reality, we have to design health care and education and all the things that government does, not only for today but to ensure that what we do today allows them to survive tomorrow, because that is the only way we can help Nova Scotians have good health care, our young people to have good education and those young kids in the playgrounds in metro to have a future here in Nova Scotia. It is the only way.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask you to conduct an investigation to find out where John Hamm went. The real John Hamm that we saw during the election campaign has gone. Strong Leadership . . . . a clear course is gone. In his July 7th statement, that Leader of the Tory Party said, "This confirms my worst fears, the Premier has no idea what is going on in health care." This Premier has to know that more deaths, more serious illnesses, more hospitalization and more long-term costs will result from the cancelled services and longer waiting lists that he is imposing on the IWK-Grace and every other hospital in this province.

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: I want to ask the Premier, Mr. Speaker, why is the Premier trying so hard to keep Nova Scotia families in the dark so parents have no idea what is going on with their children's health care? Will this John Hamm please explain?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, despite what the member opposite would allude to, John Hamm hasn't gone anywhere, he is right here. He is right here to tell the member opposite that the suggestions of the member opposite to spend more on every single issue that comes before the House isn't workable and isn't supported by the majority of Nova Scotians.

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

HEALTH - NEW WATERFORD CONSOL. HOSPITAL:

SERV. - RETAIN

MR. PAUL MACEWAN: Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask the Minister of Health to return to the topic of the New Waterford Consolidated Hospital. I am sure he is aware that a large crowd gathered there at 11:30 a.m., exactly how many I am not going to get into because I didn't conduct a head count and I don't think anybody else did either but there were many hundreds of people there. They were expressing their concern about the same thing that was referred to when this Tory pamphlet was composed by the Honourable Jane Purves protecting our health care system. That is what they were concerned about. The report that they had was that the emergency services department at the New Waterford Consolidated Hospital was going to be closed. It may not, perhaps, be quite that simple but there certainly was a threat to that department.

[Page 6521]

I would like to ask the minister, through you, sir, if he is prepared to commit to keep both the emergency room, the outpatients facility there, and the entire hospital at New Waterford open and functional so long as he occupies the position of Minister of Health?

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I thank the honourable member for Cape Breton Nova for that question. I can tell him that there are no plans to close the emergency department in the New Waterford hospital. Unfortunately, like in some other areas of the province where there is a shortage of family physicians, the difficulties with the emergency room at New Waterford hospital are related to human resources.

Secondly, as I said in response to an earlier question, we have no plans to close any hospitals this year.

MR. MACEWAN: I discussed this matter with the Chief Executive Officer of the Cape Breton Regional Health Board at approximately 2:00 p.m. this afternoon and I was well briefed by him on the physician shortage in New Waterford which is a contributing factor to this unfortunate situation. I would like to say to the minister, that community needs more doctors. I would like to ask him, what measures is he prepared to attempt to undertake in an effort to attract and recruit a physician or another physician or two to serve the New Waterford area community?

MR. MUIR: Up in the Cape Breton area, I do regret that they are short family physicians and that they are short family physicians in other areas of the province too including, unfortunately, my home community. I do want to tell you we are working with the officials from the Cape Breton Health Care Complex, our recruiter in the Department of Health. We are taking the regular steps we would do to recruit physicians for other areas of the province. New Waterford rates just as high in physician recruitment as does River Hebert or Truro or even Halifax.

MR. MACEWAN: With all due respect to River Hebert, I would suggest that the New Waterford catchment area is considerably larger. Approximately 15,000 people live in the catchment area of the New Waterford Consolidated Hospital, covering all of the suburbs of New Waterford as well as the town itself. I would like to suggest to the minister that in view of what he has just said, perhaps it might be appropriate to review where New Waterford should stand relative to some of these other communities. I would suggest to him, very seriously, that the catchment area of the New Waterford Consolidated Hospital is approximately equal to that of Truro.

I would like to ask the minister, in view of what has happened this morning and obviously the very high level of concern in that community for the welfare of their hospital, would the minister be prepared to give this matter a little extra attention in the weeks and months that lie ahead?

[Page 6522]

MR. MUIR: Physician recruitment and indeed the recruitment of health care professionals in other areas, as well as the particular disciplinary portions of it, are a concern of mine and of the Department of Health. We spend considerable effort trying to recruit, in an effort to maintain an adequate health human resource complement here in Nova Scotia, and we will continue to do so.

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

HEALTH - IWK-GRACE: WAITING PERIOD - INCREASE

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, the loss of almost 50 jobs at the IWK-Grace was in addition to $4.3 million that was cut from the budget through not filling vacancies and not hiring new staff to meet service demand increases. The CEO of the IWK-Grace gave instructions to his staff that they must deal with the increased demand by slowing the flow of patients through the system. The direct impact of such a slowdown will be longer wait periods for direct patient services in mental health, neuroscience, diabetes, respiratory illnesses, just to name a few. My question to the minister is, you campaigned on providing quality health care. Is increasing waiting periods by more than 100 per cent your vision of providing quality health care?

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I am not aware of what the honourable member has referred to as increased waiting periods by 100 per cent. I would like to see where he got that information, but (Interruptions) I would be very surprised if it was correct, I have to tell you. If it came from this side of the House, it would be correct.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable Minister of Health on the question.

MR. MUIR: In reference to that, yes, unfortunately, like in other facilities, there have been some proposed cuts. The IWK has presented a business plan to the Department of Health which does propose certain cuts, and we are reviewing that plan at the present time.

[3:45 p.m.]

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, I believe the Minister of Health just said he was unaware again. The IWK-Grace made it very clear to this government before this budget was released that they required more funding to meet increased demand. Why did you claim that health care cuts wouldn't affect patient care when you knew in advance that service demands required more funding, not less, for Nova Scotians to access the health care they needed?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, Nova Scotians have access to quality health care, and they will continue to have access to quality health care. I do believe, as I mentioned in this House yesterday, as a constituent told me last weekend, Nova Scotians would prefer to have good quality health care rather than no health care. If we didn't start to take control of our health

[Page 6523]

care costs and to implement a system where there are services being delivered that are sustainable and affordable, there would be no health care for anybody in the future.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Health is saying to Nova Scotians, save that crisis until we pay off the debt. Medical problems won't wait. I want to ask the Minister of Health what he is going to say to the 14 year-old boy who is threatening to commit suicide and comes to the IWK-Grace and can't find a social worker, or can't find a nurse because she is too busy in the ER, or can't find anyone to talk to. I want to know what the Minister of Health is going to say to that boy?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, these hypothetical questions are getting too routine in here. Anyway, I want to assure the honourable member that if such a case presents itself, service will be provided.

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

EXCO - ELECTIONS ACT: EASTERN SHORE MLA - POLICE INVESTIGATE

MR. RUSSELL MACLELLAN: Mr. Speaker, with respect to the activities of the member for Eastern Shore, the Chief Electoral Officer has been contacted, and she has stated this is not a matter for the Chief Electoral Officer, it is a matter for the police. Will the Premier contact the police and ask them to investigate this matter?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I indicated earlier that I have asked my staff to review the information so that I could review it as well. When that process is completed, we will do what is appropriate.

MR. MACLELLAN: Mr. Speaker, this matter has been mentioned in the House many times. If the Premier had any leadership at all, he would, in fact, have asked his staff to do this a long time ago to prepare the various scenarios that would result. He had access to the same information we did, and he had a very good friend who dispensed this information in the Halifax Regional Municipality. I want to ask the Premier, is he going to take leadership in this? Is he going to show some leadership on moral issues? Is he going to show that he, in fact, is in control of the government and others aren't making decisions for him? Is he going to set an example for the people of Nova Scotia, or is he just going to let his Party wallow in this chaos? What is he going to do?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Again, there are several questions there. The honourable Premier.

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, again what I will say - and the member opposite I believe understands this to be so - the information arrived at my office less than an hour before the House sat today. We are going to be reviewing the information. I would suggest

[Page 6524]

to the member opposite, if he has come to the conclusion that a wrongdoing has been done, then I would suggest he starts his responsibility and report it to the police.

MR. MACLELLAN: Mr. Speaker, there is no question we will be referring it to the police for an investigation. That is what it means to be decisive. I want to say to the Premier, why has he not had the people, he has more lawyers behind the scenes for him than O.J. Simpson had. Why isn't he referring this, why hasn't he referred this for some advice from all of those people who are so quick to want to give him advice?

THE PREMIER: It is very difficult to satisfy the members of the Opposition. Most days they are saying we are going too fast and we are changing things too quickly and now they are accusing us of going too slow. We had information less than an hour before the House sat and we are now being castigated because we did not act more quickly. I believe that the information should be looked at but, obviously, the member opposite has come to a conclusion and his conclusion is it is an issue for the police. I believe, therefore, the member opposite should follow the dictates of his conscience and follow through.

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

HEALTH - CUTS: CONSEQUENCES - VERIFY

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Health maintains that health care cuts will not impact on patient care. The CEOs of the IWK-Grace and the QE II say the opposite. Front-line health care workers were in Province House last week saying the opposite, and workers are here again today and they say the opposite, yet this minister talks like he knows more about what is going on in hospitals than they do. I want to ask the Minister of Health, how can you so blatantly contradict what health care providers are saying about the impact of your cuts?

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour for the question. As I have said, there have been business plans presented to the Department of Health, that are currently under review, which contain suggestions for a reduction in certain areas in the major hospitals to which he is referring, but I think it is important when we take a look at what has been proposed that our department's position is they are being put into the context of the proposed new capital health authority; sometimes in one institution it could be a service shift. The elimination of certain services in one position or one form does not mean they will not be available in another form.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, let's just have a look at it. Cuts to support programs for parents grieving over the loss of a newborn; cuts to services for youth who are suicidal; cuts in programs to children who have been sexually abused; cuts to services to women who have postpartum depression; and cuts to education programs which allow children with

[Page 6525]

medical problems to receive an education. I ask the Minister of Health, are these services not part of your health care plan?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, there have been certain reductions in service proposed by the IWK-Grace, and I believe that is the institution to which the honourable member is referring at the present time. We would be quite frank, as we have said before, we would prefer that I could just empty my pockets or he could empty his pockets and we just continue to put money in the health care system with reckless abandon. The fact is, in the last four years, people think there has been cuts in health care and there has not. There has been an infusion of about $0.5 billion and the fact is, unfortunately, that money has not made sufficient difference, that people will still want a different standard of health care. Although money is important, the big issue was reorganization, and a fundamental reorganization of the system is what we committed to and what we are proceeding with.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, the ironic thing is that the Premier spoke at the Dartmouth General Hospital on June 29th and he said that front-line health care workers "should not be expected to struggle through each day, without the support of government, as they have for the last six years." He said, "They need and deserve leadership, respect and trust and as Premier I intend to see that they get it." So my question to the Premier, is destroying preventative and follow-up health care how you show support, leadership and respect?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I believe what Nova Scotians expect of their government is a government that delivers on the issues on which it was elected, and this government is prepared to deliver on those issues. We said we were going to be fiscally responsible and we are going to be fiscally responsible. We are going to make decisions on health care and on education not only based on what is good for today, but also what is good and sustainable for tomorrow.

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

HEALTH: IWK-GRACE - CUTS

MR. RUSSELL MACLELLAN: Mr. Speaker, during the election campaign the three Party Leaders held a debate at the IWK-Grace, and the now Premier could not have been more forthcoming about all of the things that he was going to do . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: July 7th.

MR. MACLELLAN: July 7th for health care. He was going to do this by cutting back on administration. He has not cut back on administration, he has cut back on everything; 46 jobs lost at the IWK-Grace; jobs lost in the crisis intervention service, reduced from 24 hours to 12 hours; the Well Woman Clinic, discontinued; the coordinator position for spiritual care,

[Page 6526]

discontinued; perinatal psychiatry, discontinued. Why has the Premier done what he said he wouldn't do and not done what he said he would do?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, this government is determined to do exactly what it said it was going to do, and that is balance the income and the expenditures of this province, something that hasn't been done for well over 30 years. That is why we are in the predicament that we find ourselves in. Nova Scotians can't continue to carry the load of an increasing debt burden. They simply can't afford the carrying costs. We are already spending over $900 million a year just to service the debt. Just imagine if we had even half of that money to spend today, many of the issues you are bringing to the House would be easy issues for the government to deal. However, because those decisions weren't made in times passed, it is very difficult now for us to provide those kinds of services without driving the province into bankruptcy. We are determined that we are going to provide service and we are not going to go into bankruptcy.

MR. MACLELLAN: Mr. Speaker, that is going to be of great comfort to dying children and grieving parents. One of the things this government has cut, has been spiritual care. The Premier received an e-mail today from Reverend John E. Boyd, the Senior Minister of the First Baptist Church in Halifax. He says, "Surely we have not reached the point where the spiritual care of children and their families is no longer a priority of our society." This government has already ripped the heart out of health care, now it is taking away its soul as well. I want to ask the Premier, why does the Premier feel that the pastoral care of dying children or grieving parents is not something this government should be concerned with?

MR. SPEAKER: I would ask the honourable member to table the document he referred to.

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I, too, grieve at the choices the we are being forced to make. They are not easy choices. They weren't easy choices for the previous government, they are not easy choices for this government. We are prepared to make choices, choices that allow us to continue to deliver good health care and good education and to bring in fiscal responsibility, because if we are not prepared to do that, we are assuring Nova Scotians of no tomorrow.

MR. MACLELLAN: Mr. Speaker, by supplementary is to the Minister of Health. We know the Deputy Minister of Health doesn't have to worry about pastoral care, his prayers have been answered. I want to ask the Minister of Health, while he is cutting back on all of these services to children and parents, why has he hired an assistant deputy minister from Western Canada for the department, to help his toady or deputy minister at a cost of $140,000 a year? Why has he done this?

[Page 6527]

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, the assistant deputy minister of Health was in the employ of the Department of Health before I arrived, and his position, I think, must have been set by the government, his salary was published in the Public Accounts.

[4:00 p.m.]

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

EXCO - ELECTIONS ACT: MLAs (PC [3]) - VIOLATION

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I want to return to the Premier on the whole issue of the distribution of municipal funds during the last election by members of his caucus. The Premier has suggested that we will leave this up to the Chief Electoral Officer. In fact, if he understands the Elections Act, there is a limitation period of nine months, and the Chief Electoral Officer has absolutely no jurisdiction on this matter. The other idea would be a police investigation, which would be upwards of a year or better that the caucus would be under a cloud. I want to say to the Premier that there is nothing left for the Premier to hide behind. I suggest it is up to him now to investigate this matter and clear away the cloud that is hanging over the head of his caucus. Will he do that?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the members opposite appear to have reached some conclusions on some issues. There are processes whereby these things can be handled but that doesn't seem to satisfy the members opposite. What I am saying is, you are prepared to come to conclusions that are obviously part and parcel of another process. I believe that we should allow everybody who sits in this House an opportunity to have a fair hearing, and that will occur. The member for Eastern Shore is a member who has always served his constituency well, both as a municipal councillor and as an MLA. I have had an opportunity to travel in the Eastern Shore with the member. He shares a great deal of respect, which is given to him by his constituents.

I will say to the members opposite that the Elections Act is very unclear, because it is silent on two issues: it is silent as to the conduct of ministers during elections, as it is silent on the issue of municipal councillors during elections. The Elections Act is silent on those two issues, because those people obviously continue to function during the campaign. Now the member opposite . . .

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

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: You are right. There is quite a bit of silence on this issue, but I will tell you who wasn't silent, this Leader of the Tory Party wasn't silent when he was trotting around the province in June and July telling Nova Scotians how he was going to bring a new level of integrity to government, that he was going to ensure that all of his

[Page 6528]

caucus was above reproach, he was the one who was going to answer all those questions. (Interruptions)

The option is clear, I say to the Premier, he can close his eyes to the evidence of wrongdoing by some of his own MLAs . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: . . . or he can be a Leader and investigate the evidence and draw some of his own conclusions. Why don't you do that, Mr. Premier?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite obviously isn't convinced that the procedures that are in place to look into various events are good enough. He seems to want to hold some kind of a court here on the floor of the Legislature. I would suggest maybe the member opposite has aspirations that his next career will result in him being elevated to the bench where he can really adjudicate these kinds of issues.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, what the Premier is saying is that John Buchanan is alive and well in that seat. I for one, as a Nova Scotian, am absolutely sickened by this Premier and his stonewalling over evidence that has been presented in this House which clearly indicates wrongdoing by members of his caucus, and he won't do anything. I want to ask the Premier one last time to come clean. The police are not going to do it for him. The Chief Electoral Officer isn't going to do it for him. Clear the cloud, investigate this matter yourself like you said you would when you were running for office. Be a Leader. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable Premier.

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, during the course of the preamble to the question, I heard the member for Cape Breton West saying you stole my line. It would appear that members opposite want to turn the House of Assembly into some kind of a courthouse, and I am not prepared to do that.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

HEALTH - REG. BDS.: DISBANDED - OIC

DR. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Health. One week ago in the House during Question Period, I mentioned the regional health boards had been disbanded. The Minister of Health quickly pointed out that he had to correct me eight times - I have a copy of Hansard - that the health boards still do exist. For all intents and purposes, the regional health boards ceased to exist on October 19, 1999. However, the Minister of Health kept this a secret for two days until the Liberal Party held a press

[Page 6529]

conference and exposed this information. My question to the minister, how can the minister claim that regional health boards still exist when he stripped them of all the power and all the authority on October 19, 1999, by an Order in Council?

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, what the honourable member says is partially correct. But the fact is that those boards do still operate as an administrative entity. That is the point I was making.

DR. SMITH: That is what they are, Mr. Speaker, a shell of their former selves and shame on that minister for that and that government. Health boards have no power and they have no authority and they have no responsibility. That is what you have. Now the employees themselves, throughout the health care system, have no voice because they are afraid, and the government has imposed a gag order. The minister pretended that the regional health boards still exist, but he has not told former board members like Carl Dodie of the former western regional board. My question, if the boards still exist, (Interruption) The point, Mr. Minister of Justice is a simple matter of justice. If the boards still exist . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member for Dartmouth East on the question.

DR. SMITH: . . . what role do board members play if the boards still exist, as he corrected me in this House?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member knows, and he has pointed out on a number of occasions that the people who served as volunteer board members, that that volunteer board was disbanded some time ago. The administrative structure of the four regional health boards still exists.

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, some of the best and most dedicated volunteers in this province were just wiped out overnight, in the darkness of night. In the Thursday, May 4th edition of the Truro Daily News, the Minister of Health said that bed closures at the Colchester Regional Hospital were because of a board decision. The minister is blaming employees, employees who have to report directly to his own deputy minister. My question to the Minister of Health, why is the minister trying to blame imaginary health boards for decisions that are ultimately the responsibility of his own office?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, the administrative and support structures of those regional health boards will remain until the new Health Authorities Act comes into effect which hopefully will be very soon. The decisions to do temporary closures of beds around the province were made by people who are in those administrative structures of the regional health boards, including those decisions that were made about the closure of the 15 beds at the Colchester Regional Hospital.

[Page 6530]

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

NSLC - FUTURE: REVIEW - TABLE

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, through you I would like to direct a question to the Minister of Finance. The Minister of Finance, of course, will know that a review committee has been struck, and that this review committee is to report back to government by June 26th on options with regard to the Nova Scotia Liquor Commission. Included in those options are the privatization of all or part. My question to the Minister of Finance is a simple one. Has the government done or obtained a valuation of the Nova Scotia Liquor Commission, and if you have, will you table it on the floor of the House today?

HON. NEIL LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, this issue has been handled through the Minister responsible for the administration of the Liquor Control Act. I refer the question to him.

HON. RODNEY MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, we do have a short list, and at such time as there is any further movement, I will report it to the House.

MR. HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I saw the Minister of Finance lob the question to the heavyweight in Cabinet, but that was certainly one of the weakest answers I have seen. It didn't come within a country mile. Obviously the answer is no. So I will direct my question to the Minister of Finance. My question is quite simply this, could you explain to Nova Scotians, based on a business perspective alone, why it isn't just absolutely asinine to even consider privatizing any or all of the Liquor Commission until you have developed or obtained a valuation of the business.

MR. LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, I will answer the question, even though the member was extremely rude to my colleague calling him a lightweight. I tend to think that is unparliamentary. I will say that member is very capable in his position, and I think all members on this side take offence to that comment. We have indicated as a government that we have said very clearly that the liquor distribution and the liquor business is not a core function of government. We have said we will be going out to look at options for government as to what we will do with that industry. If the member can't understand that, I am sorry. It was very clearly set out in the Budget Speech, and has been very clearly put out by the minister on numerous occasions in this House.

MR. HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I guess the Minister of Finance has just proved what I have said, he is a lightweight member of Cabinet. I am meaning the Minister of Finance. I wouldn't want to offend the Minister of Tourism.

[Page 6531]

The Minister of Finance was a member of the former Tory Government that, based on a philosophical feeling, without any social-economic cost-benefit analysis, sold Nova Scotia Power. Based on that philosophical feeling, Mr. Speaker (Interruption) and they can applaud.

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

MR. HOLM: Here they are applauding themselves for giving away and costing Nova Scotians literally hundreds of millions in losses, hundreds of millions of dollars. So I want to ask (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid has the floor. Question, please.

[4:15 p.m.]

MR. HOLM: My question is to the Minister of Finance. What assurances can he provide to Nova Scotians that the same philosophical feeling that was through the Cameron Government is not, again, going to be costing Nova Scotians the loss of tens and tens and tens of millions of dollars, as you did with Nova Scotia Power?

MR. LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, first of all, I can't let that go by, because this member is telling Nova Scotians that we made a decision that cost the taxpayers of Nova Scotia money. I categorically deny that. We sold Nova Scotia Power, and since that time that company has had control of its rates, and I would compare Nova Scotia Power's rates against any other province. We did what was right for Nova Scotia, and for that member to make those statements is totally outrageous. He stands up on his feet saying that we have cost money, he is completely ridiculous in those assertions.

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

P & P - WEBSITE: EMPLOYEES - SUGGESTIONS

MR. DAVID WILSON: Mr. Speaker, my question is the Chair of the Priorities and Planning Committee. This government, through the Priorities and Planning Committee, set up an internal website for government employees to provide input on restructuring. Can the Chairman of the Priorities and Planning Committee tell us what, if anything, has happened from their suggestions?

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, we have those, and there will be a list coming forth in the next week or 10 days or so. I will be tabling it in the House.

[Page 6532]

MR. WILSON: Mr. Speaker, I will table now the latest update from that page, which was printed off today at 1:15 p.m. The website has not been updated since January. My question, how can this government say that it is listening to its employees when they have not even bothered to update this form in four months?

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, we have received some excellent suggestions from employees of the government, and many of them will be reacted to by government.

MR. WILSON: Mr. Speaker, is there anybody home over there, and is there anybody listening? My final question, again to the Chair of the Priorities and Planning Committee, perhaps the minister responsible can tell the House how employees can access that site?

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I think most of the reaction we have had from employees has been via e-mail.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Fairview. You have about 30 seconds.

MS. EILEEN O'CONNELL: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister responsible for the Liquor Commission. The NSGEU tells us that it has been invited to present to the Liquor Commission Review Committee on June 21st; the deadline for the report's completion is June 26th. My question to the minister is simple. Why won't the committee hear the NSGEU before the committee's recommendations are a done deal . . .

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

The honourable member for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour, on an introduction.

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, I would like to introduce to the House, here this afternoon, Joan Jessome, the head of the Nova Scotia Government Employees Union. She is here with the members of the bargaining committee for the QE II, the IWK-Grace, the Central Regional Health Board. Please stand up and be recognized by the House. (Applause)

OPPOSITION MEMBERS' BUSINESS

MOTIONS OTHER THAN GOVERNMENT MOTIONS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, this is Opposition Day, and I am sure the honourable member for Cape Breton South would like to take the floor.

[Page 6533]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Liberal House Leader.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: I would like to thank the Government House Leader for acknowledging that fact, that it is Opposition Day today.

Mr. Speaker, would you please call Resolution No. 1980.

Res. No. 1980, Health - Care: Destruction - Stop - notice given May 11/2000 (Mr. D. Downe)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

DR. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, thank you for the opportunity to speak to Resolution No. 1980. I would like to thank my colleague for Lunenburg West for introducing this resolution and he, too, will be using some time to debate this issue here today. It is basically an issue addressing the cutbacks in the health care system - much of which we spoke of earlier today in Question Period - affecting what used to be the health boards and the facilities throughout this province. It addresses the issue of the health care system being destroyed by this government; the infrastructure. With an endless series of which we have just seen the start, the tip of the iceberg at this juncture, throughout this province, with no rhyme and no reason and, most alarming, with no plan.

Mr. Speaker, we will do what we can here to hold this government accountable under these difficult, dark days, not only for education, but particularly today as we address the issue of health care. Those people who have come to visit us today, I will beseech them as a union and as a representative of the employees, and as representative of the children and families that they serve, that they use their voice also. There is a quiet that has come across this land, in case people haven't noticed. The education system dipped into the slush fund of the government and now everything is quiet, quiet until September.

We are seeing the same thing within our health care system, within the regional health boards. The minister corrected me several times, eight times he said I was still saying they were disbanded. They were disbanded by an Order of Council and this government downstairs in this building, Mr. Speaker. Some of the best volunteers in health care within this province were disbanded. So the voices are not there; if you are wondering where the voices are, they are not there. I ask the unions and all the other (Interruptions) The honourable member for Yarmouth is over there beating his gums and perhaps he should do something, too, rather than bring out falsehoods when he meets with his local people. Mr. Speaker, I won't follow those rabbit tracks or tracks of some kind.

Yesterday we learned about massive cuts to the IWK-Grace Health Centre. This amounts to nothing less then an attack on women and children; 46 positions were lost and that would affect 60 to 70 people. Some of those are jointly funded jobs from other

[Page 6534]

jurisdictions and shared. So it will impact 60 to 70 employees and their families. That is the reality.

Today we heard through the various media, the CEO of the IWK-Grace, Rick Nurse, says these cuts are just the beginning. That is the issue we make, why we stay here and want to hold the government accountable. We are learning that what used to be the regional boards are non-existent. The hospitals are bringing forward their budgets. It is going through some semblance of which used to be a regional board, the administrative shell. It is going to the local area here, through some semblance of a capital regional board. It is going to the Department of Health and the deputy there, and all the other administrative staff. Then it is often being sent back where people are told, the health facility is told, not to mention lay-offs of any nurses or any closing of beds. The intimidation process and gag orders are well in hand. Also, things are being said that it is really not compatible with the clinical services master plan, whatever that is. People are telling me, the problem with that is they haven't seen it. A doctor in Dartmouth mentioned the other day that something wasn't acceptable because it didn't comply with the clinical services master plan, but he said we have never seen it. The Minister of Health said that that will be available sometime this summer.

So that is what we are doing, Mr. Speaker, we are seeing a non-system and a non-functioning system brought to its knees, and these are dark days in the health care system in Nova Scotia. They have cut the heart out of health care with the $80 million budget reduction. As our Leader, Russell MacLellan, said today, the Tories have cut out the heart and now they are cutting out the soul, including pastoral care, and the heart and soul of an institution like the QE II and the IWK-Grace and all the other facilities. We are learning in dribs and drabs what is happening across this province. People are fearful for their jobs and that is why in many ways they would like to be outspoken, but they have gone quietly and they are hoping that they can survive if they stay quiet.

Because of the Tory budget cuts, the IWK-Grace was forced to cut two clergy jobs in pastoral care, as was mentioned. Sometimes the only thing that we can give people, Mr. Speaker, in this health care profession, is some spiritual and some comforting support for families with children dying of cancer and others. They fought hard, the churches in this community, to have reimbursement for services offered. Some of these churches are small and they have limited budgets and now we see that slashed and the three persons who were involved with that have been disbanded. That is the type of cuts and those are the sort of things that they may not be marching in the street today regarding pastoral care, but it is something that will be missed. It will be missed in the middle of the night and it will missed in those dark hours before dawn when families need that kind of support so often for critically and terminally ill patients, but the Tories have taken that away.

We have children out of control. They don't necessarily have a mental illness; they don't have a medical diagnosis, Mr. Speaker. They don't qualify for a hospital bed somewhere, but they are out of control and some of them are even farmed out at a great

[Page 6535]

expense out-of-province and now we have an emergency services for Child Protection Services and Psychiatric Intervention Services that will, instead of 24 hours be available, will be open for 12 hours. What 12 hours would you pick? Would you start at 8:00 p.m. and go to 8:00 a.m., or would you have eight hours here and eight hours there? What sort of service would you have available on limited resources?

So those are the sort of issues, Mr. Speaker. This is impacting not only in health care, it is impacting on community services, justice, in the education system and the fostering of families, the children in need of protection, the institutions, that is what is happening. These cuts are not simple, and they do not impact on a job only. They are impacting in delivery of a health care system and it is tearing the infrastructure of a system that has evolved over many years. People have fought hard to have those jobs and those positions in place, and to lose a job is a terrible experience, particularly with no warning, but the loss of the services is really what I am speaking on at this very moment, the loss of services to children, adolescents and youth, and women's health.

Today, Mr. Speaker, we learned of the Digby hospital being downgraded to a health centre, and the honourable MLA for that area thought that was a good thing. Well, maybe somebody should explain that to a person who has a stroke, a 70 year old, or an 80 year old person who some evening goes to the emergency department and there are no beds there because it is now, as we would say, a health centre. Then they are transported to Yarmouth or to Kentville. There will be a loss of lives because of that type of intervention and that is what we are talking about here today. It means bed closures and it is job losses, service reduction, and it is going to cost lives. People from Digby with certain types of services will now be forced to drive to Yarmouth or Kentville for treatment.

So we have the positions that are gone and in light of all of these positions we still have the Premier saying he was only going to cut administration. So according to the Premier's logic, the IWK-Grace will soon have the opportunity to hire 46 new nurses, technologists or physicians. The Premier said over and over in this House that he was elected to balance the books. This is not true, according to the blue book, the Tories most urgent priority is and was health care. I will say "was" health care. The promise to balance the provincial books does not show up until Page 18 in the infamous Tory blue book.

[4:30 p.m.]

The Premier said the loss of nearly 500 staff at the QE II Health Sciences Centre was a positive step and if you want to keep The Daily News for posterity, that is one you maybe want to select because that is where it was reported. I wonder if the Premier feels equally positive about the loss of jobs and reductions in services at the IWK-Grace.

[Page 6536]

We have lost information technologists in the QE II and the IWK-Grace. How can we move into the new technology era - the database sharing of patients' records and the new technology that requires these people and we are just ripping the internal workings of the hospitals. Thank you, Mr. Speaker, for that little wink. I caught myself in time because you knew where I was headed.

Anyway, they ripped the internal workings of those institutions and they cannot function without moving into new technology. I know I have a few minutes and there are many things to say. I will just close on the assault on the women's health.

We can say that is an unnecessary service and could be offered in other physicians' offices, but we have women in their 30's and 40's who are dying of cancer of the cervix, a preventable disease in this province and we need standards and we need programs and that is where they came from, the IWK-Grace Health Centre and we have lost those. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member's time has expired.

The honourable Minister of Health.

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to talk a little bit about the sustainability of health care in Nova Scotia and I was pleased to hear the member for Dartmouth East recognize the fact that steps have to be taken if we are to have a sustainable health care system in Nova Scotia. One that will provide quality, will be accessible and also will be affordable. We made that commitment during the election campaign, it remains our commitment and our goal now to put in place a system that will serve Nova Scotians well today and serve them well in the future.

To achieve these goals, we have to act responsibly. We have to be realistic about the situation that we find ourselves in in this province. There is nothing easier than to stand up in this Legislature and rail on about all the evils of the government. I can tell you it is an awful lot easier to be critical than to be right. We have done a lot of things, we have made a lot of progress in trying to adapt a health care system and indeed a system of government that will serve Nova Scotians in the future and allow Nova Scotians to have a future.

To be quite frank, if we had followed in the path that the previous government had led us down, then probably the future of health care in this system would be very dim. Their solution to the evils or the defects or the shortcomings in health care was simply to put more money in it. As I said in answer to a question earlier today, they put about an extra $0.5 billion into health care in the last three years of their mandate and if you were to ask people about the health care system in 1994 or 1995 and one we had in 1999, they would probably say, that may not have been as good.

[Page 6537]

That is despite the fact that a tremendous amount of money was put into it. The point is this: we recognize that the system will not function without money, but clearly it appears that with the pressures we have in Nova Scotia, indeed in Canada, we have to take alternative steps and take a whole new look at how we are delivering services in this province, including health care. We know that our population is ageing and I just met with a group of nurses outside the Chamber here and they reminded me of that and I agree with them. Our drug costs are rising.

Mr. Speaker, I read an article either this morning or yesterday, talking about the cost of drugs in Canada, both prescription and non-prescription. In the year 1999 the cost was a little less than $14 billion in drugs and close to 50 per cent of that was in non-prescription drugs. So drug costs are rising, and their costs are increasing tremendously.

There are two things about the use of drugs. One is, if we can put money into education and encourage and get people to understand that if they do things which would allow them to have better personal health, then the demands on the health system would not be quite as great. In other words, among other things, drug costs perhaps would be kept under control. Secondly, I think we have to understand that with the improvements in medical technology, including that of the pharmacological improvements, a good many things that were dealt with at one time by putting a person in a hospital bed or doing surgery, it is now possible, and it is becoming increasingly more possible to treat more diseases with chemicals or prescription drugs, and indeed, we do an awful more things with drugs than we have ever done before, and that we will continue to do.

Also, the surgical techniques and other medical techniques and other technological advances in medicine have been so great that it is possible to treat people, we can treat them better, we can treat them in a lesser period of time. What that means, Mr. Speaker, as we continue to make these advances in technology, the demands on in-patient services is diminishing. What we are trying to do in our system is to set up a health care system that moves a lot of the health care items more into the community and lets the community take care of them, and tries to move them away from a model which sees physician services or public health nurse services and acute care as being the way the health care system operates.

What we are trying to do is to move to a system where there is health care in the community. Furthermore, health care services would be integrated in a real primary health care model. What we are trying to do is improve primary health care. I believe as our plan rolls out, Mr. Speaker, the improvements in primary health care will become apparent. I think that as these things are rolled out and people get involved in them and we have the community health boards having a very active role in the health care plans that are going to be present in communities and we are able to get these services integrated, instead of looking at them as silos, that the health care system in Nova Scotia will be improved. Not only will there be improvement and the service delivery to people be better, but people will begin to take more responsibility for their health and say, in a good many cases my health is something

[Page 6538]

that I am responsible for looking at rather than saying that if I am not well it is somebody else's problem. You have to take responsibility for your own health care.

For example, this year, Mr. Speaker, we are putting about $900,000 of new money into wellness programs. We think, although that is just a start, and the immediate return on that will not be apparent, if as a government, and as a Department of Health, and, indeed, as a province in our approach to health, if we start to spend more money and put more emphasis on prevention as opposed to cure, everybody will be better off; people will be happier and will have a lot more satisfaction with the health care system.

My second point, Mr. Speaker, and I think it bears repeating again, is that the Nova Scotia Government has put a tremendous amount of its fiscal resource into health the last four years without, I would say, a parallel gain in health services. Now I think the member for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour will agree with me on that. I know that he and the member for Dartmouth North and the member for Halifax Chebucto know the plans we are preparing for health in Nova Scotia are good. If it wasn't for this little political game we are playing, they would stand up and support the changes that we are proposing. I know that. I know they are good people and they are thinking. They know that there has to be change and that where we are going is the appropriate way.

One of the things, I suppose, that would make me believe that, Mr. Speaker, is that one of the provinces or a couple of the provinces that have actually done some of the things that we are proposing and moving towards are the Provinces of Saskatchewan and British Columbia. The emphasis is on a primary health care system. The honourable member for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour is agreeing with me and he knows that we are heading in the right direction. I sincerely believe that his view on health care in the province and mine aren't that different. We both want a system which provides quality and access and is sustainable, not only now, but in the future.

What we have to do, Mr. Speaker, is to recognize that we have limited resources. I know that the member for Halifax Atlantic, if he would take the time to think about it, would also come out and publicly say that we are going in the right direction. I know that. But what we are saying is that we have to work within our means. We can't be just pouring money down the drain, pouring it out with no concern for the future. Debt servicing, our costs to service debt in this province are tremendous. I am not naive enough to think that what we are doing is going to eliminate the debt in Nova Scotia in five years or three years or even 10 years. But I think one of the things that we can do, if we somewhere think that we can afford to spend over $900 million a year, giving it to the bankers and not putting it into any useful programs in this province, that if we can stop adding to that debt and are able to use money rather than, for example, this past year that the other government was in there, the money that they spent over and above what they said costs about another $86 million in debt service charges.

[Page 6539]

On an annual basis, I guess, Mr. Speaker, the money that we spend in servicing the debt would run every hospital in the province. We know that the actions that we are taking to ensure that Nova Scotians have an accessible and a quality health system now and in the future aren't popular with everybody. But I think Nova Scotians, and Nova Scotians tell me, that they understand that the spending that this province has embarked on in recent years just can't be sustained, including the colleagues on the other side of the House. Fundamental changes are needed and we are prepared to make them. We believe that when we make them, we will have a health care system that will do Nova Scotians proud.

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

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, every time I see the Minister of Health get up to speak, I keep thinking that - and I realize that this is a vain hope - perhaps, finally, he will stand up and admit that what he has been doing and what his budget has been doing to date is wrong, that it is hurting the people of Nova Scotia. I think the appropriate thing for him to do is to apologize to the people of Nova Scotia, to the people he met on the campaign trail. I want him to think about all the hands that he shook and how he said that they were going to be investing $45 million or $46 million new dollars into health care in the first year. He talks about the fact that the people who work on the front line of health care needed leadership and respect, that people were relying on the government to show that they understood the real health care needs of the people of the province. Yet, every time he stands up, rather than that, what we get is the same old trick from a one-trick pony, who only knows how to say over and over again, well, you know, if we didn't do this, there would be no health care available at all in the future.

[4:45 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, people of Nova Scotia see right through those kinds of irresponsible threats. They know it is not true. They know when the Minister of Health sat on this side of the House he had all the answers. He said they were going to spend more money in health care. Somehow, miraculously, now that he is on that side of the House, the only thing that can save health care is to destroy the system first. I suppose that as long as there are those out there who will applaud people who destroy something spectacularly rather than appreciate the laborious and unspectacular task of the efficient administration of a system, there will be those like the Minister of Health who are prepared to destroy rather than to build up. That is a sad commentary on the state of this province and the state of the way those members of the government are prepared to deal with the people who elected them.

All we have to do is look as far as what happened yesterday, and I suppose it is continuing to happen today with cuts to the staff of the IWK-Grace. We know there are going to be cuts to mental health services. There are going to be cuts, and in fact, the complete discontinuance of the Well Woman Clinic. Unbelievable, Mr. Speaker, completely unbelievable when, only a short time ago, we have seen published in this province reports that

[Page 6540]

say that the amount of spending on matters of concern, matters of medical concern to women is underfunded, that one of the determinants of health is gender, there is not enough money and not enough emphasis on women's health. Here we are in the midst of a budget which has been foisted on the non-designated organizations, on the major institutions in this province that is going to result in the closure of the Well Woman Clinic. I don't know how the Minister of Health can sleep at night. I don't know how he can go back to his constituency and talk to the people of his riding and say to them, I know that what I promised in the election campaign is not what I am delivering today. I don't know how he can do that. I suppose in the end, it will be the people of his constituency who have the opportunity to pass judgement on it.

What we know, Mr. Speaker, is that in addition to what happened at the IWK-Grace, the lay-offs in that facility which is just the first step - we have heard, of course, that there are going to be 46 full-time equivalent positions eliminated there - but that is just a small part of what is going to have to eventually happen with that institution. I have here a press release that was put out by the IWK-Grace and I am going to table it. The President and CEO, Rick Nurse, says: This is truly a sad day. Unfortunately these changes mean longer wait times for certain services and will affect our ability to address existing unmet needs. Regrettably, this reorganization has also resulted in people losing their jobs. Dedicated people who have worked exceptionally hard and are committed to caring for Maritime children, women, and their families.

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Health wants us to believe that patient care is going to be unaffected. That is nonsense. They have been told that by the CEOs of the IWK-Grace. They have been told that by the CEO of the QE II. They have been told by the nurses who were here, the physiotherapists, the medical laboratory technologists; they were told again today by the members of the bargaining unit for the NSGEU that there was going to be a direct impact on patient care.

Yet the Minister of Health chooses to ignore them. He chooses to proceed with this charade that the only thing that is important is slashing the budget so that in two and one-half years time, he can go to his very wealthy friends and say, we delivered a tax break for you. I will tell you something, Mr. Speaker, there won't be anything for the average Nova Scotian. They really wanted to effect a tax policy, they could not wait to uncouple from the income tax increases because it was going to affect their revenue.

But would they uncouple from the health services tax and lower the amount that Nova Scotians would pay, an initiative that would actually affect the pocketbooks of average Nova Scotians and those on low incomes? No, Mr. Speaker, they won't do that because that is not going to benefit their very wealthy friends and Party supporters.

[Page 6541]

Anyway, I digress because that is not why we are here today. We are here to talk about the lack of a plan that this government has for health care. We keep going back and referring to the infamous blue book. Well, Mr. Speaker, that has less in common with a plan and now has more in common with the Valachi Papers. It is really a list of the things that they are not going to do, it is a list of their transgressions against the people of Nova Scotia. It is a list that they continue to deny and to warp and to twist and say, oh well, that didn't mean what the black letters of the sentences say, no, it meant something completely different.

It meant that we were going to cut programs, it did not mean that we were going to invest in health care. It means that what we are going to do is withdraw services, not provide more. It means that the people who are on the front lines of health care are not going to receive more respect, are not going to receive more support and, in fact, they are going to be undervalued. They are going to continue to have what meagre support systems they have in place moved out and eradicated as we watch. I suppose we could only be hopeful that the deterioration takes place at such a slow rate that there will still be something left when this collection is thrown out of office as they obviously will be. Unfortunately, I think the damage that they are doing is so severe and so single-minded that there may well not be much left to save by the time they are finished.

Mr. Speaker, what they have done is they have broken faith with Nova Scotians. They have broken trust with Nova Scotians. They have taken it upon themselves to take something that is sacred to the people of this province, their health care, and undermine it, devalue it and to destroy it. That is truly a sad commentary on the moral fibre of the Premier of this province and those people who follow behind him. I am sure that when they ran for election - I guess I am not sure - I should say, I thought that when they ran for election they truly meant and believed some of the things that they were saying.

Now I think the evidence has come in, the jury has had time to deliberate and the verdict is clear. They never intended to keep any of the promises they made, they intended instead to pursue a single-minded agenda which will only benefit those who are most wealthy in our society, those who are most well-off, those people who can afford a two-tiered system, those who will benefit from the inevitable high-income-bracket tax breaks they will provide at the end of their terms, and they are going to walk out and they are going to say to people, look, here is your extra $25 a year, take it as a voucher and go buy some health care.

Mr. Speaker, this isn't the United States. In Canada, we value the Medicare system. I believe in the end the people of Nova Scotia will say that you were wrong in your judgement, and you were wrong in the execution of your program, and you were wrong to break faith with the people of the province. I want to thank you for the opportunity to speak on this matter this afternoon.

[Page 6542]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Lunenburg West.

MR. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to stand here today to talk about Resolution No. 1980 that we have before us. Regarding Health, I read in Communications Nova Scotia, today, "Trauma Conference 2000 Is a First in Nova Scotia" I believe it is a first in Nova Scotia, we are in a trauma over health delivery in the Province of Nova Scotia, and Nova Scotians know we are in a trauma condition when it comes to health delivery by this Tory Government. I know the health care workers know this province is in a trauma over the health delivery in Nova Scotia because of this Tory Government's lack of a plan; this Tory Government whose election platform said to Nova Scotians, from one end of this province to another, they had a $46 million quick-fix plan for health care.

Now, Nova Scotians understand all too well they did not have a plan. The only plan they had was a heartless plan, a thoughtless plan, a mindless plan of trying to convince and snooker Nova Scotians into believing they had the answers to the health delivery system. What a shame it is we are here debating the issue of a lack of a plan for the most important part of a government today, the largest budgetary expense of a government that is so fixated on numbers and they do not have a plan; a budget in excess of $1.7 billion and they do not have a plan; a budget that is growing exponentially and they do not have a plan.

It is a shameful fact this government, under the leadership of a doctor, a country doctor, who stood out there and said publicly they had the answer, where in all reality they have no answer, no plan, no knowledge of where they are going except to the beginning of the demise of the health care delivery system in the Province of Nova Scotia. We have heard all too well, over the last number of days, the concerns of the New Waterford Consolidated Hospital and what impact it is going to have on that delivery system if they cannot find a doctor. Maybe the Premier would like to resign after today and take on a doctorship in New Waterford so they can keep that hospital open. That would be a useful job for him today.

We hear about the Digby General Hospital and the chances of that Digby General Hospital being downgraded, downgraded from a hospital to a health care centre. I feel bad for the poor Minister of Economic Development who has to go home and try to sell this concept to the good people of Digby. They know better. They know all too well they did not elect a representative to take away the health delivery system in Digby. I bet you that poor minister is sweating it out pretty good today, trying to figure out how he is going to scheme his way out of this mess when he goes back to the public in Digby. He has to go back and say, yes, we said, for $46 million, we can fix the health care delivery system in this province. Yes, this is the government that said by cutting away a little administrative fat, we will resolve the health care problems in the Province of Nova Scotia and we will provide a transparent, sustainable health care delivery system to Nova Scotians from one end of this province to the other, whether it is in Cape Breton or whether it is down in Digby. Now he has to go back with his head between his legs, only to tell his people that is not so. Health care delivery in

[Page 6543]

Digby is now on a slippery slope to the extent from a full-blown health delivery system to a health care centre.

[5:00 p.m.]

We have heard the discussions by the former Minister of Health, the member for Dartmouth East, who talks about the tremendous effect of these cuts at the QE II and how far-reaching it is going to be throughout all of Nova Scotia. The QE II cuts are not only impacting on the HRM community, they are impacting in Lunenburg County, they are impacting in Digby and Yarmouth, they are impacting in Cape Breton, up in Amherst; they impact throughout all of Nova Scotia. Yet this is the government that said they had the plan, they had the quick fix, the $46 million solution. Well, it has turned into the $64 million question as to how they are going to make it work, and none of them know how it is going to turn out.

Today we hear about the Well Woman Clinic that is going to be affected dramatically. The minister talks about these cuts only being administrative cuts, yet the front-line workers today of the QE II hospital were here, and the front-line workers said no, the realities of what is going on in health care, they made it clear to this minister that the effect of these cuts at the QE II are going to be more pronounced than a little administrative fat. It is going to go to the core of health care delivery.

This government knows now that the effect of the changes in health care in this province are going to be, without question, one of the major millstones around each and every one of their elected necks come the next election. For a government that said they had the answers, only we find out this is a government without any answers, without any plans, without any thought as to what the impact of the changes they are making in health care are going to be.

Mr. Speaker, I remember all too well when I had the Minister of Finance in the Red Room and I asked him if he had done any economic analysis, cost-benefit analysis of the changes in health care, and what effect that will have on Nova Scotians. The answer was no, we did not have any studies done to determine what impact there will be. I happen to live down on the beautiful South Shore, Lunenburg County - Lunenburg West is my riding - and I can assure members of this House that people in the health care delivery system are concerned. Even the ones who are muzzled are concerned.

I know the good doctors in the health delivery system in Queens County are worried about the impact of these $2.6 million cuts to district one of the western health board. Even the ones who have been muzzled and threatened not to say a word to anybody about what the impact will be in health delivery are saying quietly that at this point they don't care if they lose their job, they are just so frustrated by the fact that, in a democratic society, they are not even allowed to come forward with their concerns.

[Page 6544]

The minister repeatedly goes on and says the health boards are in place, they are intact, they are calling the shots. Well, that is a falsehood and everybody in this House knows that, the people on the health boards know that, and the Premier understands that in spades. They are now a facade which this minister and this Premier and his Cabinet can hide behind to make the cuts, to brutalize the health care system the way they want to and say it is the health boards that are doing it. Well, the truth be known, those people have no power; they have no decision-making power. It is only the Premier, the Minister of Health and his fleet of deputy ministers who are making the decisions in regard to the health delivery system.

I mentioned the other day the concern I have with regard to the South Shore Regional Hospital - some 15 beds are being closed as I speak today - and the impact that will have on the western region, specifically in district one. We know on top of the $2.6 million cuts in my area alone, and the bed closures that are there, and it is not because of vacations - my gosh, it is May, vacations don't happen until June, July or August - it is because of a lack of nurses and a lack of money, and this Premier knows that as well.

On top of those cuts, the western region has another $1.4 million headache to worry about and that is in the area of mental health, a $350,000 reduction in the mental health budget as I speak. Public health will be cut by $90,000 and the detox unit will be cut by some $439,000 and I wonder how the Minister of Justice from the beautiful community of Lunenburg, is going to stand up when Fishermen's Memorial Detox Centre closes and moves to another district, maybe in the Valley.

I wonder what will happen to the good people in Bridgewater when the mental health facility is possibly going to close and move to another area. This is a government that has not developed a plan. This is a government that does not know where it is going with health delivery. A report is sitting on the minister's desk.

I have to close my discussions right now, but I do thank the House for its time and I do appreciate the members' attention during this debate.

MR. SPEAKER: Time has expired for Resolution No. 1980.

The honourable Acting Liberal House Leader.

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Resolution No. 1765.

Res. No. 1765, Transport. & Pub. Wks.: N. Sydney/Northumb. Ferry - Locate - notice given May 4/2000 - (Mr. B. Boudreau)

[Page 6545]

MR. SPEAKER: Resolution No. 1765, "Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Transportation and Public Works check with his staff to find out where North Sydney is, where the Northumberland Ferry is and report back to the House."

The honourable member for Cape Breton The Lakes.

MR. BRIAN BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, this resolution speaks to what I believe is the inability of this government to stand up for Nova Scotians. Marine Atlantic of course, is very important to the economy of the entire Province of Nova Scotia. In 1999, for instance, 432,000 passengers used Marine Atlantic to travel to Newfoundland.

It is obvious that a booming ferry business is a bonanza for Nova Scotia. It is necessary to travel through this province in order to reach the ferry and that means investment in tourism establishments along the way. Further there are employment benefits at the terminal in North Sydney and at the facility in North Sydney and they are very important to that particular area of the community.

One of the reasons I presented this resolution was that I am concerned about the question I asked the Transportation Minister. He seemed a little confused as to where North Sydney was. In reply to another question in this House regarding Devco, it was a different topic, I became concerned when I heard the reply. The reply is basically this, But I would point out to the honourable member, in fairness, just as the federal government doesn't get involved personally in the matters of Sysco, we in the provincial government do not get involved in the personal matters with regard to Devco.

The same could be said here in regard to Marine Atlantic. Marine Atlantic is an issue that is the responsibility of the federal government and my concern is the new ferry. In regard to the new ferry, there are approximately 200 jobs that are available. I feel that Nova Scotians have the right to at least half of those jobs. My concern however, is that since November, 1999, the Premier of Newfoundland, Brian Tobin, has been busy - very busy, Mr. Speaker. He has been sponsoring and funding training programs and training courses for his residents in Newfoundland so that they qualify for these jobs when they come forward.

However, in this province, in Nova Scotia, it was just recently that the Education Minister acknowledged that there was a training program initiated at Marconi College in Sydney. However, many of the residents of that particular area - and I do represent just outside of North Sydney, many of those residents - the difficulty they have run out of EI benefits which exempts them from any federal funding for job training.

This, I feel, is the responsibility of the provincial government to provide funding to these institutions and these individuals to ensure that the economic opportunities exist within that particular area of the community, especially when the economic feasibility is real.

[Page 6546]

The federal government has already announced the new ferry and it is quite obvious, as well, Mr. Speaker, that there is a crew going to be required to man this new ferry. I have been assured by the federal minister that those jobs will be shared, provided - and this is the kicker - that there are qualified people to fill the positions. I notice that the Minister of Community Services is in the House today. I know that he spoke during estimates about the opportunity for training programs through his department. Of course, I am proud to say that North Sydney has a Community Services office there and I have a great deal of faith in the individuals that run that particular office. I believe that they are qualified, very much so, to initiate the proper training programs to help people who are forced on the backs of Community Services and this is a real opportunity for this particular government to save money.

Mr. Speaker, I am going to try to talk as quickly as I can. I do want to recognize that the Premier has written several letters to Ottawa, to the federal Transport Minister, David Collenette. However, I am not comfortable. I don't really think that is good enough. I think that it really takes some strong representation to stand up for fellow Nova Scotians to ensure that these job opportunities become a reality and that Newfoundland does not score big time on these jobs. I don't want to sound too negative against Newfoundland, because we, in Cape Breton, have always regarded Newfoundland as our friend and neighbour and we have a great history and we look forward to the future, working with the Province of Newfoundland, particularly in Cape Breton.

However, given the economic conditions in both of those communities, we see the bickering and the snickering, perhaps, between the two communities for these jobs. This is where I believe a strong Premier should stand up and fight for the Province of Nova Scotia and its residents to ensure that we have the same opportunity as Newfoundlanders and that this fight should be taken in the same perspective that the Premier of Newfoundland, Brian Tobin, has.

I would just like to acknowledge that my Leader and former Premier, when he was the Premier, initiated dialogue with the federal government when the head office was closed in Moncton, New Brunswick. My Leader, the former Premier, took the initiative to go to Ottawa, directly, and meet with the minister responsible, meet with the Prime Minister to ensure that North Sydney had its fair share of jobs. Mr. Speaker, that took place because of the strong representation and leadership that he provided for that particular area of the community. That is the suggestion I have for this particular Premier. To write letters is simply not enough. We need action and we need action in regard to jumping on an airplane, going to Ottawa to meet with these people, the federal Transport Minister, as well as the Prime Minister, if it is necessary.

AN HON. MEMBER: You can go too.

[Page 6547]

MR. BOUDREAU: I would welcome the opportunity to accompany the Premier to Ottawa, to fight on behalf of the residents that I represent, that work at this facility, Mr. Speaker. This is the type of representation that the workers at this facility are accustomed to, particularly the facilities located in Cape Breton North, which is the constituency of my Leader, Russell MacLellan. He has fought in the past. He is willing to fight in the future. In fact, he has acknowledged to me that, next week, he will be attending some meetings in Ottawa and will be bringing this topic up, both with the minister and with the Prime Minister.

Mr. Speaker, really, this Premier criticized, several times, over a two year period, what my Leader has done in regard to job creation for the Province of Nova Scotia. I would like to acknowledge to the House that Nova Scotia was number one in job creation in the entire country, it was number one for economic growth. Since July of last year we have fallen to number nine. Now that is quite obvious and I would hope that somebody over there, particularly in the front benches, would recognize the immediate need for attention in these areas.

[5:15 p.m.]

I believe this is an ideal opportunity for this government to come into Cape Breton and show the community in Cape Breton that they are willing to stand up and fight for the issues pertaining to our community. I have heard time and time again that this Premier will provide the same representation to Cape Breton and to that particular community and that he would not look at that in any different light because there is only one - actually one and one-half - representation from Cape Breton Island with regard to the government side of the House. Huffing and puffing is no good here; we need action. We need this Premier and this Minister of Transportation to do something immediately to take up this fight for the workers at Marine Atlantic and do some action; really get involved and deliver these jobs to the community of North Sydney, particularly in my area.

When I look at Sydney Steel, Atlantic Loto, you know time and time again the ineffectiveness of this government is taking its toll on the economy of Nova Scotia and especially in Cape Breton. This is a real opportunity for this Premier, this minister, to stand up and fight for Nova Scotians. I guess that this Premier has to put his words into action. If he is not willing to go to Ottawa I would suggest that at least he could write a letter and request that the federal minister visit North Sydney so that he can meet with the existing workers in that facility. The workers are kind of paranoid, they are concerned about their roles, particularly reports from the other side of the water in Newfoundland where they feel that the entire facility of Marine Atlantic should be in that province. I think in all fairness that this Premier do something that will have a positive effect on that particular area of this province. I would suggest if he did that it would be a bonanza for the entire province. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

[Page 6548]

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

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I take great pleasure in being able to speak today, about a service that will be used by tens of thousands of people this year who will discover all the charms and beauties of Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and the waters that link our two beautiful provinces. It is a service that I have used extensively in the past, in fact in 1986 I made 40 trips to Newfoundland when I was trucking for Hibbs & Kaizer Transport out of Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. Our location was on Windmill Road.

Now the resolution before us this evening is, with all respect, ill-informed at worst and myopic at best, a resolution without foresight or insight. I am delighted to speak about North Sydney and its thriving partnership with Marine Atlantic. I would like to dispel some of the gloom, some of the hysteria that has been stirred and seasoned and served up by members opposite.

Mr. Speaker, I am happy to remind this House of the long, successful association between North Sydney, Cape Breton, and Marine Atlantic. Many people in and around the North Sydney area are long-time Marine Atlantic employees. I have had the opportunity to meet these skilled and dedicated workers who have a love for the sea and a love for their province, Nova Scotia, and a love for their town, North Sydney. They have intense loyalty to their employer and we believe those jobs and that strong relationship will remain in place. Let's be absolutely clear, yes, that relationship will remain in place.

Let's be absolutely clear about one thing, Mr. Speaker, Marine Atlantic is not a Newfoundland company, it is a federal Crown Corporation dedicated to serving the country, Canada's best interest. In this case that means providing ferry service between our province of beautiful Nova Scotia, and Newfoundland. That is what it means. This is not a case of pitting one province against another province, one town against another town, one city against another city. This is a partnership that works. This is a growing, flourishing ferry service attracting more and more tourists every year. Every year the tourist numbers have been increasing.

In fact, as the honourable member had mentioned in his dissertation, Marine Atlantic has arranged for a high-speed ferry to sail this summer, to try to keep up with the demand, and I understand that that is a temporary service, Mr. Speaker. I understand it is a catamaran and I understand, much to the trucking industry's chagrin, that it will not be taking commercial vehicles. However, by taking the passenger vehicles, the automobiles and the motorists, it will make the wait, if you will, the line-ups, less. So in that sense the trucking industry probably will be pleased to see the high-speed ferry put into service. The reality is we are speaking about more jobs in Marine Atlantic. Another ferry means more jobs, more jobs in Nova Scotia, more jobs in Newfoundland.

[Page 6549]

Mr. Speaker, that is the fundamental difference between the philosophies that our Party and the Party opposite brings to Nova Scotia. Our Premier believes in creating the climate for the economy to grow and thrive. Nova Scotia is reaping the tourism benefits of its natural beauty and innovative citizens to create a province that people want to visit and a province where people want to live with that thriving climate. With that thriving climate comes jobs. Marine Atlantic is now filling 100 new jobs; 100 more people will be working this summer. (Applause)

Marine Atlantic, Mr. Speaker, has told us that it is committed to hiring the most qualified people regardless of where they come from in Canada. Now, that makes sense to us, that makes sense to the Progressive Conservative Government because we believe that Nova Scotians are among the best qualified workers in all of Canada, absolutely. Our people have hundreds of years of experience working the sea and today's figures with Marine Atlantic bear that out. About 45 per cent of the workers that we are talking about relative to this service between Nova Scotia and Newfoundland are from Nova Scotia. My government is in steady contact with our counterparts in the federal government and with senior staff at Marine Atlantic. Marine Atlantic has given every indication that it has no intention of moving jobs from the historic community of North Sydney. The federal Minister of Transport has assured us that there is no such plan.

I understand and I would think the Leader of the Party opposite would also appreciate and support that the Honourable David Collenette is an honourable individual and when he tells us and assures us that the jobs will remain in North Sydney, we can only take him at his word.

Now, we should recall, North Sydney, like Port aux Basques, Newfoundland, was chosen by Marine Atlantic to be one of its headquarters. Mr. Speaker, that was done a couple of years ago. It decided to move its operational staff from Moncton to North Sydney, and financial and administrative staff went to Port aux Basques. Now this has been a great success. Both commercial and tourist traffic has grown rapidly, and I have little doubt that more people from Quebec, Ontario, New Brunswick, the United States, Europe, et cetera and beyond, will be visiting our shores this summer and sailing that ferry route.

Jobs are important for Nova Scotians. There is no doubt about that. The real issue before this House is not about an office in North Sydney. As long as the ferry runs from Newfoundland to Nova Scotia there will be jobs for the people of North Sydney. The resolution should be celebrating the role Marine Atlantic plays in keeping traffic flowing between our two beautiful provinces.

Guess what, Mr. Speaker? If the member had been keeping up with the news, and I am sure he has been, he just failed to mention, he would know there will be one more boat on the route this year. Many more jobs and thousands more tourists who will be discovering the wealth and the charms of Atlantic Canada.

[Page 6550]

Mr. Speaker, I apologize if I don't enunciate the name of the new ferry, but I understand it is the Max Mols. It is a new high-speed ferry that will be crossing the Gulf of St. Lawrence, beginning next month to make travel faster and more convenient. As I indicated, it will be of particular assistance to the tourists who are making the Gulf crossing, but the trucking industry will benefit. I am sure members of the House realize that Newfoundland is quite dependent on the trucking industry. Not just the trucking industry of Nova Scotia and Newfoundland, truckers from all across North America go to the tenth province, so to speak. It is an important service. This government appreciates the role Marine Atlantic plays, the Crown Corporation, in providing that very vital service.

Next year, I understand Marine Atlantic will be acquiring the Stena Challenger as a permanent addition to the Marine Atlantic Gulf fleet. This means capacity for either 300 automobiles or 75 tractor trailers. The better ties we have with Newfoundland, the better it is for our economy, the better it is for their economy. All goods trucked to Newfoundland travel our roads. They travel our shared ferry route. I repeat, we should be celebrating the union between Nova Scotia and Newfoundland, and the role Marine Atlantic plays.

As I indicated earlier, Mr. Speaker, our government is committed to Nova Scotia, and we are committed to the Town of North Sydney. I have had the privilege over the last several years, when I was trucking, to come to know the workers in Newfoundland and the workers from Port aux Basques who tie down the big rigs, who tie down cars when weather is inclement or weather has been forecasted to be a bit rough travelling across the Gulf. I can tell you, it can get pretty rough going across that Gulf. There is no doubt about that.

One time we were coming back from Corner Brook with gyproc on, a couple of tri-axle tractor trailers gross - we will go to pounds, probably 130,000 pounds or somewhere around 50,000 kilograms. When the wind was so severe going through the wreck house - that is a term they use over in Newfoundland between Doyles and Port aux Basques, when the wind can be so fierce and blow up such a gale that, in fact, it has blown tractor trailers over. If you are hauling over 100,000 or 50,000 kilograms, truckers from Newfoundland, and truckers with more experience than I have or had at that particular time suggested, yes, you can go through to the terminal with that weight. One night, a colleague of mine who was hauling for Jardines Transport, we were the only two tractor trailers on that vessel because the rest of the trucks didn't have as heavy a weight on, and they had to park out in Doyles by a service station. When we got out on the Gulf that night, I think it was the old Marine Nautica or Marine Atlantica, one of those older vessels, I wished I had parked in Port aux Basques, too. It was a rough crossing.

But, you know what, the goods were delivered, and the workers on that ferry provide very qualified and first-class service to the truckers and the motorists who travelled across. This happens especially in the fall.

[Page 6551]

[5:30 p.m.]

You know when the ice comes down from the Gulf of St. Lawrence? Well, I will tell you, then it is a slow crossing. Well, it was when we had the old vessels. Now with the Joey and Clara Smallwood and the Caribou, which, essentially, are ice-breakers, they are certainly equipped with double- and triple-plated hulls, they make the trip much quicker than the old Marine Atlantica, Marine Nautica and the Sir Robert Bond and all of the vessels, the Ambrose Shea, all the vessels that travelled across the Gulf. When the ice was in, we used to get caught in the ice.

Mr. Speaker, I had a first-hand experience appreciating just how many seals are around between Nova Scotia and Newfoundland. You wouldn't believe the number of seals that are out there on the ice floes. It is absolutely outrageous. I would only imagine that a seal - and I am kind of digressing a little bit here because it is an important service, but you know, you have an opportunity, not only as a tourist or not only a resident of Newfoundland and Nova Scotia, not only to make the connection and the link between Nova Scotia and Newfoundland, you have an opportunity to appreciate the value of the sea and how, from time to time, it can be uncooperative, so to speak. It can make your life quite difficult.

The workers at North Sydney and the workers at Port aux Basques and the workers on those vessels do a first rate job. This government recognizes that and the Minister of Transportation and Public Works appreciates that. We are going to stand up for those jobs because we know we have qualified Nova Scotians. Nova Scotians are as qualified as anybody in Canada, anybody in the world. Nova Scotians are as qualified as anybody in the world when it comes to travelling the sea, Mr. Speaker. There is no doubt about it. There is no doubt in my mind.

Mr. Speaker, with those few brief remarks, I do want to thank the honourable member for Cape Breton The Lakes for bringing this resolution to the House. I know, from time to time, he raises questions. He is concerned about the service. He is concerned about jobs and he can go to sleep tonight knowing that the Minister of Transportation and Public Works for Nova Scotia is just as concerned as he is and so is the Premier and so is my government. Thank you. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Yarmouth on an introduction.

MR. RICHARD HURLBURT: Mr. Speaker, it is with great pleasure that I introduce to the members of this Assembly today, guests in the east gallery. One happens to be my lovely daughter-in-law - and the mother of my beautiful grandson - Lisa Hurlburt. The person next to her happens to be somebody I am extremely proud of, my son, the President and the CEO of Hurlburt Construction, Mark Hurlburt. I would ask you to give them a warm welcome. (Applause)

[Page 6552]

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

MR. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, I always like to speak after the member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley because he reminds me of when my children were small, three and four years old, they were always fun to listen to, but it made absolutely no sense. (Interruption)

Well, Mr. Speaker, you know, this is a very serious resolution because when it is all said and done, what the resolution speaks about is being in support of the economy of Cape Breton. In all seriousness, while I enjoyed the previous member's intervention, it was humorous, I think he missed some vital points, although he did talk about some of the employment aspect of it. He did speak in terms of those jobs being relocated to North Sydney, with a minor correction that there were 37 jobs in Moncton, 24 went to Newfoundland and there were 13 promised to Cape Breton. If I am not mistaken, only 11 came, not the full 13, and with the real possibility of those jobs being shuffled to Newfoundland. To some it may be a minor point, that those jobs were not located at the terminal itself but were over at the Canadian Coast Guard College, and while we appreciated them coming to Cape Breton, they weren't at the North Sydney dock location.

Mr. Speaker, it is an interesting argument when you start talking about the Marine Atlantic situation because I think if you listen to some of Newfoundland's positioning on that very vital ferry service, they would have you believe that it is Newfoundland Marine and not Marine Atlantic, that there is not a two-way flow of goods and services. We have to understand that there are two components here. One of the components, quite rightly, is the component of Confederation where we agreed, Canada as a whole undertook to provide ferry service year-round to the island of Newfoundland, which is laudable and which we should do and we should give the best of service for; the other side of that equation is by fact of having that, that there has to be a mainland component to those jobs and to that service.

The previous member spoke about the tourism factor and whatever. Well, whether headquarter jobs are in St. John's, Newfoundland, or whether they are in North Sydney or whether they are in Vancouver, those same tourists are still going to show up; those same tourists will still leave that value-added dollar there, and we appreciate that, that is not what we are debating here today. What we are debating here today is the distribution of the full-time jobs that go with that service; I am not going to make an argument for who should get more or who should get less jobs. That is not our role here. I think what our role here today, by way of this resolution, is that we should be seen as a provincial government trying to fight for the maximum number of jobs here in Nova Scotia. It is not a matter of us going in and trying to take jobs from Newfoundland, that is a real mug's game, what we are doing is we are taking two economically deprived areas and saying folks, have at her, and it is a lose-lose situation.

[Page 6553]

I don't think - and I am certainly not speaking for the mover here, and I don't pretend to be - that we want all the jobs, or if you got all the jobs that, miraculously, either economy would turn around. I think that is wrong. What I think we have to say is that this government has to be proactive in assuring two things: first, and foremost, that there is no reduction in employment for the Cape Breton side or the Nova Scotia side of this equation, and, if this service is to grow, both sides have to benefit.

Whether it is a delegation from this province going to meet with the minister and hammering out the deal, well, that is fine, that maybe should be done, but I think when we look at this resolution, what it does is chastise the government for - and rightfully so - its lack of initiative in doing any such thing. I doubt if there has been any really hard work in this House in support of the workers at Marine Atlantic on the North Sydney side. Where can we go in Hansard or anywhere to find that this government says that its position is to support as many jobs as possible at Marine Atlantic, that it supports no reduction in services and that it feels that it is a necessity to go to Ottawa and let the government in Ottawa know our position?

Mr. Speaker, that is nowhere to be found here and, you know, that is bad enough by itself. I think that is very deplorable by its own nature, but what is really galling by this government is its kind of paternalistic approach to anything that takes place in the County of Cape Breton. It is a kind of "there, there, little boy, we will look after you" attitude. Well, that does not work. Whether you are a coal miner working in Prince Mine, whether you are a steelworker working at Sydney Steel Corporation, whether you are a teacher in the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board, whether you are a nurse at the New Waterford Consolidated Hospital, that does not work because this government has failed since last July. Since it has been elected, it has failed the people of Cape Breton County in any real terms when it comes to economic development.

Now, there is a chance that this government can stand up in a real way and tell the people of Cape Breton that we support you. They will not do that, Mr. Speaker. The Premier would rather say these little platitudes and not do anything in a constructive way to help the economy and this is, as the member from the Tory Party who spoke before me made the point quite clearly, about the economy; the economy of an area, as I tried to illustrate earlier in talking about the various occupations, that is reeling and any little piece of good news is a great piece of good news when it comes to the economy of Cape Breton, when we feel that we are growing the economy, that we are protecting jobs, because I want to make this point once more and very strongly because my family roots are in Newfoundland. It is not my Party's position, or my own position, nor I think it should be any political Party's position to take jobs from another area that is economically disadvantaged for your own good. I don't feel that is of value to anybody.

[Page 6554]

What do we have here? We have a provincial government that is void of any support for those workers. Not once have they come down to have a press conference in North Sydney and sit down with provincial politicians, maybe of other political stripes, sit down with municipal politicians, sit down with federal politicians and say we support the retention of jobs in North Sydney for Marine Atlantic. That is what you hear, Mr. Speaker, you hear nothing.

It does not take much, Mr. Speaker, and the government does say stuff like, well, why should we, are we just delivering platitudes? Well, if you don't do it, it is not going to get done. If they don't go and tell the people and go down first-hand and find out from the people who work on the boats, from the longshoremen who work on the docks, the people who help park the cars, the people who sell tickets, the people who sell goods and services in the cafeteria, if they don't go down, and if this government keeps ignoring these people, then nothing will get done. We will wake up some morning, and we will read in a newspaper that that service has gone. The sub-text of that story will be, Newfoundland and its Premier and its provincial politicians of all stripes were hammering about the need to have those jobs there, and that they were needed in Newfoundland, and we can't say we heard the same from Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, it is time now for this government to show some leadership. It has been something we have talked about during Question Period a lot today - leadership. I think we need that leadership to be shown. Is it a huge step? No, but even the longest journey starts with one step. I would ask this government to support this resolution so we can start to tell the people of industrial Cape Breton, if you will, that we haven't forgotten them, that the work they perform - as we have been told by the Tory members of the great job they did - is not just cheap talk but real valued work that Nova Scotians know is needed. These jobs stay here in Nova Scotia, employ Nova Scotians so we can see our economy grow.

Mr. Speaker, I would support this resolution going forward, and I hope my friends across the way will, and I appreciate the Liberals bringing it forward.

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

MR. RUSSELL MACLELLAN: Mr. Speaker, I have listened very carefully to the previous speakers, particularly the member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley. (Interruption) No question, no argument. I was particularly interested. He was talking about Nova Scotians, how capable they are, when I left to go out and talk to somebody. He was talking about them again, how capable they are, when I got back. I know that is worth repeating, because it is very true. But, I want to say to all members, and I wish he were here so I could talk to him, not to criticise him but just to say there are couple of things that just bear mentioning.

[Page 6555]

One is that the honourable member said that the Honourable David Collenette who is an honourable person promised that no jobs would be taken away from North Sydney. Mr. Speaker, I don't quarrel with that. I don't think jobs will be taken away from North Sydney. What we are looking at here are the new jobs that are going to be created by the new ferry and whether those jobs are going to be coming to North Sydney, because the arrangement we made with the federal government when we were in power was that half of the jobs that were created in Marine Atlantic would be in North Sydney and half would be in Newfoundland, presumably Port aux Basques - but that was up to Newfoundland. If they wanted to put them at Argentia or St. John's, that was fine with us. It is just that half of the jobs would be in North Sydney. We understood, and the federal government is agreeing that is what was understood. The member for Cape Breton Centre says no, half the jobs there now aren't in North Sydney. I think he said 24 were in Newfoundland and there were supposed to be 13 in North Sydney but 11 went to North Sydney, not 13. If that is the case, the federal government isn't keeping its commitment. Half the jobs aren't in North Sydney. That is a concern to me.

What I want to say to the government, and particularly the Minister of Transportation and Public Works, and I wish the Minister of Education were here as well, because this relates to her.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I would just remind the honourable member he is not to bring to the attention of the House if the members are not here.

MR. MACLELLAN: I am sorry. It is an educational issue, and there is no reason she should be here, Mr. Speaker, because I didn't ask her to be here, and I didn't say I was going to mention this. But I wish someone would mention it to her, that is all. With the new jobs that are going to be coming with respect to the new ferry - and I disagree with the honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley - the 100 jobs won't be this year, to my knowledge. What we have is that rapid catamaran, as he says, but this is a ferry that is being leased and the crew is coming with the vessel. There won't be many jobs for either Newfoundlanders or Nova Scotians this year, because the crew comes with the vessel. We are the leasing the crew and the vessel as a package. Next year, when the vessel that the federal government has bought comes, then these new jobs will come into play.

We have been told by the Minister of Education that training is going on for these jobs. Well, that is not the case, it is not true. There is a hospitality course being given at the University College of Cape Breton and the Nova Scotia Community College, Marconi Campus. These people are trained in hospitality, but they are not specifically designed and geared to Marine Atlantic and the new jobs on the ferry. Newfoundland, however, is doing that. They are training people for specific jobs - and I am glad to see the honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley is back because I was referring to him and taking his name in vain, so I am glad he is here. (Interruption) Good. We hope he has a reservation to come back too because we would miss him.

[Page 6556]

I wanted to say that the training needs to be done for these particular jobs by Nova Scotia, that Newfoundland is actually gearing these jobs, and they are giving training on these specific jobs for the new vessel. Nova Scotia is not doing that. They have hospitality jobs, of course, which could be used at hotels, motels, tourist bureaus, things like that, they are not geared specifically to the Marine Atlantic ferry. That is where we are falling down. Newfoundland has a reputation in Ottawa of wanting those jobs much more than Nova Scotia does, and this is comparing the two governments. The Government of Nova Scotia is not gearing and not going and making sure half of these new jobs come to Nova Scotia. They are not training people to make sure those jobs come to Nova Scotia. The government has to do that.

The federal government has made the commitment, but I am very much concerned that if this provincial government does not go and lobby for those jobs and get a commitment from the federal government in writing that the new jobs, 50 per cent of them will come to Nova Scotia and 50 per cent will go to Newfoundland, that we are not going to get the 50 per cent. Now the honourable member for Cape Breton Centre says, well, we are not there to say where the jobs should go. Well, we are, I am there, I am saying where the jobs should go, because that was the agreement that was made between Nova Scotia and the federal government, 50/50, half the jobs in Newfoundland, half of them in North Sydney.

This is a commitment. All I am saying to the federal government is, honour the commitment, and I am asking the provincial government to assure us that they will do everything they can to make sure that the federal government honours that commitment. There is really a very serious unemployment problem in Cape Breton. It is very bad. The Minister of Transportation and Public Works knows that, all members on the government side know that. It is getting worse because of the Devco and Sysco situations.

What we need is to take advantage of these jobs that become available. I am asking the Government of Nova Scotia to stick up for Nova Scotians. I don't think that is asking too much. I don't think that the people of North Sydney are asking too much when they ask for that, because the commitment is there. Let's ensure that that commitment is kept. There was a rumour that the head office was moving from Moncton to St. John's. I heard on very good authority that was the case. I made the question, we brought it up in the House and it didn't take place or it hasn't taken place. I hope the Minister of Transportation and Public Works has gone to his counterpart, the Honourable David Collenette in Ottawa and said, we don't want that to happen. If it moves from Moncton, 50 per cent of those jobs should be in North Sydney. I think that is only fair. We are not asking for the federal government to breach the agreement, we are just asking for the 50/50 to be maintained. I am asking the government that they will ensure that, in fact, is the case.

There is going to be a new ferry, there is an increase in traffic and we are all in favour of that and I am very pleased for Newfoundland. This is a lifeline for them. If they don't go by air, they have to take the ferry service, and Newfoundland is pushing and promoting their

[Page 6557]

tourist industry and it is growing and it is going to help us because these people are going to come through Nova Scotia on their way to Newfoundland. They will spend money in Nova Scotia and it does benefit us.

The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley talks about trucking. He is right, this ferry, this catamaran will not carry trucks, but the new one will. The new one that starts next year will carry trucks, and the trucking is increasing. We don't want the waits to continue, we don't want long waits because there is a turnaround, truckers are in business, they want to get their rigs turned around and back as fast as they can and long waits (Interruption) perishable goods as well, that's right, and we face that in Cape Breton and Nova Scotia sometimes with waits at the U.S. border where sometimes when there is a problem, or they want to get upset, they will hold our trucks, this side of the border, with perishable goods. It is awfully tough to enforce justice in that case, but in this case, with Newfoundland, we want to be able to make sure the people in Newfoundland have the fresh produce as soon as they possibly can. We want to be able to sell trucking companies - look, ship through North Sydney to Port Aux Basque or Argentia and you will be treated fairly, those trucks will move as quickly as possible and we are very pleased this new ferry is coming in.

Once again, I humbly ask the government, particularly the Minister of Transportation and Public Works to assure that half of these jobs come to North Sydney. We need those jobs. The unemployment rate in Cape Breton now is 30 per cent. The census in Ottawa doesn't anywhere nearly reflect the problem. We not only have a high unemployment rate in Cape Breton, we have the prospect of a complete collapse of an economy that affects 117,000 people.

This is extremely serious and members will be hearing more and more about this as time goes along, and I say to the government, don't, for heaven's sake, misrepresent this. Don't underestimate the economic problem that exists in Cape Breton, it is part of Nova Scotia and we have people who have been in business there for 30 and 40 years who aren't going to be able to hold onto their businesses unless we create some jobs. Well, here we have jobs because we have this undertaking from the federal government, and I ask the Minister of Health, as well, that a part of securing jobs in North Sydney is maintaining the outpatient and emergency services in the Northside General. This is extremely important to that area.

If people who come off of the ferries are not well, someone takes a heart attack on board, the Northside General is the first hospital, a hospital right beside the ferry terminal where someone could be taken immediately. They have an excellent staff and they have very good doctors on the Northside.

This is an important factor as well that hospitals have this, maintain this 24 hour outpatient and emergency service. This is all part of being able to assure the people in Newfoundland, the federal government, look, we made an arrangement with you on trust, up

[Page 6558]

front, we intend, as a province, to make sure we honour our part of it, we are not going to give you any reason to think about reducing or wanting to get out of your side of the commitment. We want 50 per cent of those jobs, we are making sure our people are trained for those jobs. We are making sure the services like health care are in place so those jobs will be there and we need the cooperation of the Nova Scotia Government. I am asking the Minister of Transportation and Public Works, and this is very important to the people in my riding and North Sydney is part of my riding, and I can tell you this is a very big issue in North Sydney. Thank you. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: Time has expired for the resolution.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I only have 22 seconds but I can tell the honourable member, indeed, we are doing that and we have correspondence which I can certainly share with the Leader of the Liberal Party.

The hours tomorrow will be from 12:00 noon until 8:00 p.m. and the order of business following Question Period will be Public Bills for Second Reading, and I think there are a couple of Private and Local Bills there too, perhaps we will deal with those tomorrow.

AN HON. MEMBER: Before or after?

MR. RUSSELL: Probably after. So, Mr. Speaker, I move the House do now adjourn.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is to adjourn and the House will rise until 12:00 noon tomorrow.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

[6:00 p.m.]

We have reached the moment of interruption. The draw was won by the honourable member for Queens who wishes to debate the matter:

"Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House support the continuing efforts of government to support workplace occupational health and safety regulations and the workers that those regulations protect."

The honourable member for Queens, would you allow for an introduction before you start?

[Page 6559]

MR. KERRY MORASH: Yes, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Yarmouth.

MR. RICHARD HURLBURT: Mr. Speaker, and members of the Assembly, in our east gallery we have two more residents from Yarmouth. I don't know if it is the hockey game that has attracted them to Halifax today or if it is to come watch this Assembly in motion and see how professional we are here. We have from L.G. Trask Agency, in Yarmouth. two executive members, Nancy Cottreau, and a personal friend of mine, Mr. John Churchill. I would ask them to stand and receive a warm welcome from the House. (Applause)

ADJOURNMENT

MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Queens.

LBR. - OCCUP. HEALTH & SAFETY REGS.:

WORKPLACE - SUPPORT

MR. KERRY MORASH: Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak about the Occupational Health and Safety Act, the internal responsibility system and safe workplaces in general. I understand the importance of the Occupational Health and Safety Act and have dealt with it quite extensively as fire safety and health coordinator at Bowater Mersey Paper Company. Most people take safe workplaces for granted. In many cases the attitude is accidents happen to the other guy and they just will not ever happen to me. The truth is that we are all at risk in the workplace and only the application of the principles of the Act and common sense keeps us from injury.

The Internal Responsibility System is the foundation of the Occupational Health and Safety Act. Under the IRS, since all workplace parties influence what a workplace is like, they all share responsibility for making the workplace safer and healthier. The Act sets out the responsibilities and duties of all workplace parties. Workplace party means anyone connected with a particular workplace. They can include the employers, contractors, constructors, employees and the self-employed, as well as owners, suppliers, architects, engineers and occupational health and safety consultants.

Mr. Speaker, it is very important for employees to understand that they have a voice. The Act provides all workplace parties with three basic rights, the three r's as they are known. The right to know - all employees have the right to information that could affect their health and safety and this would include material safety data sheets for hazardous chemicals that employees may work with or come in contact with. The right to refuse - all employees have

[Page 6560]

the right to refuse unsafe or unhealthy work and if an employee believes work is unsafe or unhealthy to them or others in the workplace, they can refuse to do the job and it is not only their right, but their responsibility to refuse to do unsafe work in the Province of Nova Scotia.

They also have the right to participate. They have the right to participate on health and safety committees or be a health and safety representative and that depends on how large the workplace is and the numbers of employees. They also have the right and the responsibility to report unsafe conditions and to voice their concerns or opinions on any issues that may affect their health and safety or the health and safety of anybody else who may be at the workplace.

At the outset, Mr. Speaker, I said I wanted to talk about the Internal Responsibility System. The Internal Responsibility System implies that there is a set of values, beliefs and attitudes in the workplace and that there will be meaningful cooperative action to resolve health and safety issues. This is a very important system. It means that the workplace parties get together and solve their safety concerns and problems without the outside help of the Department of Labour and the Department of Labour would be called in as a last resort when the parties and the workplace could not solve their own problems.

So the IRS means that employers, employees and others who function in and around the workplace must become more conscious of safety and occupational health and safety concerns. IRS means raised consciousness must be matched with enough knowledge to enable those in the workplace to identify potential hazards and to promptly control or eliminate these hazards. Under the Occupational Health and Safety Act training is mandatory. Employees must be trained so that they can safely perform their duties and perform their jobs. The IRS means support for the workplace parties in having concerns addressed and, as the IRS states or implies, other groups, both internal and external, such as Occupational Health and Safety committees, Occupational Health and Safety agencies, unions, employer associations, have contributive roles to play.

We must, at all times, practice due diligence. For example, if I or any member of this House, the Pages, our solicitors, the Sergeant-at-Arms, anyone who has access to this Chamber, sees something that has the potential to harm a member or members, then that person is duty bound to report it to yourself, Mr. Speaker, you are responsible for the health and safety of persons who enter the Chamber and you, for all intents and purposes, would be the employer in this case and your responsibility is to take care of the people who work in this area and, we, as employees, must abide by your rules and regulations.

In 1999, the Workers' Compensation Board report claims costs were $98 million, and these were paid out as a result of 8,200 compensable lost-time claims. A lost-time claim is when an accident is serious enough that an employee cannot report back for his next scheduled shift. So if he is injured and goes to the doctor and comes back, has some stitches, that is not considered a lost-time injury; however if he has something more serious and the

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doctor puts him off work, then that is considered lost time. It could be for one day or it certainly could be longer.

Sadly, Mr. Speaker, there were 11 fatality claims in 1999. In Canada, Mr. Speaker, an average of $5 billion is spent annually on compensation for injuries received on the job and workplace deaths. I believe accidents are preventable and we all must work hard to prevent accidents, which will prevent injuries. I could speak for an hour or more on this matter; it is of great importance to me and to all Nova Scotians. It has become, certainly, more legislated in the past, more regulated as just recently, and it is imperative of the people in this House to ensure that members of their ridings understand the rules of the road and the Occupational Health and Safety Act and the regulations that go along with them. I would urge all members to make themselves familiar with the Occupational Health and Safety Act. It is comprehensive; it is descriptive; and it must be known and understood within the workplace in order for the Internal Responsibility System to function.

Mr. Speaker, all of us here are called on to speak to groups in our constituencies or when the members address employers or employees take the message of the Occupational Health and Safety Act and share it with your neighbours. We have an opportunity, as members of this House, to go out and educate the public with regard to health and safety. That is certainly an opportunity that shouldn't be missed and it is an opportunity that we should be taking at every chance and every opportunity, to get out and talk to people. One thing we can give them, I guess, is advice and guidance on the importance of workplace safety. If we do that, we may prevent someone from being hurt or injured in the workplace, or even worse. If we can do that, we certainly will have done a good job.

I thought I would like to cover some of the responsibilities of employers. I guess if we look at the Speaker as being the employer in this Chamber, one of the duties would be to provide employees with the training, information and supervision that they need to do their job safely, including informing employees about any health and safety hazard in the workplace. If there was something stored in this Chamber or around the Chamber that could be a hazard or a problem to someone, it would be the employer's responsibility to make sure that everyone was aware of it. If there was a particular hazard in here, if there was construction taking place somewhere around the area, it would be incumbent upon the Speaker or the employer to make sure that everybody was aware of what that might be. Also, with regard to employees, if we look at the members as employees, we have a responsibility to report all dangerous activities to the employer, to make sure that they could be corrected. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member's time has expired.

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The honourable member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage.

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, I want to start by acknowledging the member for Queens for rising and making this motion. I know that in our previous lives, we have worked together and cooperated in the development of health and safety rules and education, and I understand his sincerity with regard to the subject. I applaud him for taking the time this evening to talk about it and to identify some key points, ones that I think are very good points. Education is a key aspect of occupational health and safety. The member is correct. Employers and employees must cooperate together, he is correct there as well.

I want to get into a bit of detail about something he may have been remiss in noting. I don't think it is from his own lack of information with regard to health and safety, but maybe more related to his own Party's philosophy with regard to health and safety. Education, yes. Government having a role with regard to occupational health and safety in every workplace is something that must be noted. I don't think the member noted that. In particular, government must have a role of enforcement and regulation, otherwise, as has been observed in the past, the system does not work.

Let me talk a bit about some of the background with regard to this. The member may know that I have taken the time in the past to familiarize myself with the Occupational Health and Safety Act and with the regulations, some of which have been passed, and some of which haven't been passed by this particular government.

Mr. Speaker, just giving a bit of background, I spent three years in Ontario prosecuting under the Occupational Health and Safety Act. In that time I observed the necessity for enforcement, the necessity for regulations. Why? Well, yes, occupational health and safety in Canada is based on cooperation. It is based on a system in which employers and employees must meet, sit down and attempt to resolve the problems through consensus. It is a very good system. In 98 per cent of the cases, it works. But it is those 2 per cent where it doesn't, where you have an employer that potentially is not willing to work to ensure the workplace is safe and healthy, where there may be an ignorance on either party or both parties with regard to whether or not the workplace is safe and healthy, where there could be a chemical in the workplace that neither thinks is a serious problem, when in fact it may be.

The system of internal responsibility is Canadian invented, Canadian developed, and it is one that has even been exported to other countries, as I myself know from my work with the International Labour Organization. I think what is important to recognize is that cooperation and internal responsibility only works where all parties understand that the government has a role to play. Yes, the government must educate. Yes, the government must take the time to teach others within the workplaces of the responsibilities, of their duties, of their rights.

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It must also take the time to explain to them the details of specific regulations. Lord knows there are a lot of complicated regulations from the width and the type of wood that can be used for scaffolding, to the manufacturer's specifications that must be kept on a boom truck, to the slope and rise of a stairwell on a construction site or in an industrial setting, to the type of guardrail. These are just the minute details that people must be regularly informed of. What we need in that case is a government whose role is to educate, takes the time to facilitate and to provide that information to employers and employees so they are better able to ensure that in their workplaces those jobs are being done.

The problem is that historically this government and previous governments have not taken the time to implement regulations that can be used to educate workers. We still do not have a comprehensive set of general health and safety regulations in this province. There are regulations in this province that are over 50 years old, Mr. Speaker, regulations that were written in 1949, and talk about things like coal burning butane heaters and things like that that no longer exist. In fact, if I recall, there is a specific regulation, and I don't know if it has been rescinded recently or not, but up until, at least months ago if it still is in place, there was a regulation requiring a special sitting room for women in industrial settings. Women were considered to be unique and different than men and, therefore - maybe certain times of the month, I don't know where the regulation came from - they had to have a sitting room where women actually had to be given a couch and an attendant if they demanded it for every seven workers. For every seven female workers, there had to be one attendant who would help them when necessary.

I mean, going beyond the fact that that has a lot of human rights implications, it also has implications with our workplace. If someone actually enforced the regulations that are currently still in place and recently were rescinded, Mr. Speaker, we would be in a situation where we would be forcing employers to have to pay a lot of extra money for regulations that just are not practical, let alone necessary.

[6:15 p.m.]

The fact is, government after government failed to ensure that regulations were being updated and advanced. Unfortunately it took a Westray accident and the death of 26 workers on May 9, 1992 to force a government to actually sit down and attempt to change regulations. It was done much like the Act believes as a philosophy, it was done on a tripartite basis of government, employers and employees sitting down, working together and negotiating a bill. Quite frankly I believe that there is a lesson there for other forms of legislation in the workplace as well, whether it be the Trade Union Act or the Labour Standards Code or any other legislation that affects the workplace. The parties that must live with it must be at the table. It was successful under the Occupational Health and Safety Act, the bill was passed and implemented in 1997 and it is considered one of the best Acts in Canada. I salute the Liberal Government of the time that actually passed it, they worked hard to ensure - and through the minister at the time, Guy Brown, who I have a lot of respect for,

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having worked with him in the Department of Labour, for his ability and commitment to ensure safer workplaces.

The problem is an Act is only one aspect of the legislation, regulations are the meat, they are the details that must be in place. They have not been in place, they have not been implemented and to this day they still have not been fully implemented. Occupational health regulations still have not been implemented that were drafted, indoor air quality regulations, violence in the workplace regulations to name a few. Roll-over protective structures is a classic one, we have already seen this year where two or three farmers have died because presumably roll-over protective structures which should have been in place - and could have been place if the regulations were passed back in 1995 when they were drafted - are not in place and then those farmers are not require to comply.

Again, education can work and government can facilitate but quite frankly I have also seen where regulation can work and I will give you an example; the fall protection and scaffolding regulations, classic regulation for people who said things could not be done; no matter how you educated, particularly the roofing industry they said we cannot ensure that there will be guardrails around a flat-roofed building. As soon as regulations were passed, within months I saw those guardrails in place. It is the old story, if you regulate it they will ensure that safety can be implemented. It is the other half - yes, education but also regulation.. The government must know that it has the power and the authority to push where necessary, maybe softly, to ensure enforcement is there to ensure workplaces will follow and implement the safest and most healthy workplace provisions that can be put in place. Sometimes it takes the regulation in order for some workplaces, some employers and some employees, to really appreciate the need for such things. That is why enforcement is necessary, that is why regulation is necessary.

I am afraid where this government is going with things like the red tape commission, they seem to be going in the opposite direction. They believe that there is too much regulation, they believe that government should be off the backs of business. I have one word for a government that talks about removing regulation and removing - particularly health and safety regulations - and that word is Westray. We saw when we had an Act that was not being enforced, we saw when regulations are antiquated what can happen. We saw it happen in Plymouth, Nova Scotia, we have seen the implications of such things and I would hope that this government - when it was in power in 1992 it allowed this to happen and I would hope they - have learned their lesson.

I know the member for Queens is quite passionate about heath and safety. If he has any ability as a member of that government, that he would implore his government to not de-regulate health and safety, not stop good regulations from coming in place that can protect workers. He is right, workers must be protected. We must ensure that when people go to work they don't die or become seriously injured. Deregulation and the red tape commission is going in that very direction and I would hope he would know enough to ensure that that

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does not happen. I would hope this government would learn from the mistake of May 9, 1992 and prevent this kind of deregulation from causing more deaths in the future. Thank you.

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

MR. BRIAN BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, first of all I would like to acknowledge that I am putting this presentation forward this evening on behalf of my colleague and former Labour Minister, the honourable member for Cape Breton West.

I thought first off the residents of the province may, for the courtesy of them to know what the resolution says, that I would read it. The resolution states:

"Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Labour immediately implement occupational safety regulations as agreed to by industry and labour."

Mr. Speaker, in 1992 an Occupational Health and Safety Advisory Council conducted an overall review of the Occupational Health and Safety laws administered by the Nova Scotia Department of Labour. In 1993, six working groups were formed to develop a draft of the Occupational Health and Safety General Regulations. Employees, employers and Department of Labour representatives were included in all of the working groups.

MR. KERRY MORASH: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. The resolution that was just currently stated was not the resolution that was stated by me to discuss tonight. I just wanted to make that point.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Cape Breton The Lakes, are you aware of which resolution is before the House?

MR. BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, according to the notes that I was provided, that was the resolution that I read.

MR. SPEAKER: "Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House support the continuing efforts of government to support workplace occupational health and safety regulations and the workers that those regulations protect."

MR. BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, hopefully, my notes will fall in line with the proper resolution. Employees and employers and Department of Labour representatives were included in all the working groups. This began in 1992 and the groups were formed in 1993. In late 1995, the working groups developed individual reports, which were combined to produce a draft version of the new regulation. The draft was circulated to over 1,000 individuals and associations for comment, throughout the Province of Nova Scotia, of course. In 1997, the Occupational Health and Safety Division of the Department of Labour reviewed

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the draft, incorporated the comments, where possible, and made changes with a view to increasing enforceability and reader access.

In the spring of 1998, a total of 270 copies of the revised Statute, a draft, were distributed to individuals and associations. On April 28, 1999, through an Order in Council, 1999-195, the regulations were approved. Mr. Speaker, these regulations were scheduled to be implemented on October 1, 1999. The Department of Labour has prepared a list of all the standards referenced in the regulations and the issuing bodies. That list is presently on the Department of Labour website.

The Minister's Advisory Council on Safety, made up of worker and employer representatives, wasn't consulted about the delay in the implementation. Without implementation of the new regulations, of course, the rate of accidents and loss of life in the workplace will probably, undoubtedly, increase, Mr. Speaker. These regulations were already available and they are available readily on the Department of Labour website and, of course, I feel, at least, my colleague, the honourable member for Cape Breton West, feels that the minister has caved in to the wishes of big business.

The Occupational Health and Safety Division concentrates its efforts on safe and healthy workplaces and work practices, I might add, and safety standards, protecting the general public, as well as the employee and the employer. The division seeks to continuously improve the provision of these services, of course. The old Occupational Health and Safety Division focuses on the promotion of the internal responsibility system, Mr. Speaker. The system acknowledges the responsibility of employers and employees for workplace health and safety. The OH&S Division, through information and enforcements, affects the public and the workplace health and safety, through many aspects, and I will list just a few.

Promoting the primary responsibility of the employers and employees to create safe and healthy workplaces through the use of safe work practices, adequate training, suitable equipment, promoting inspection, certification and enforcement services to demonstrate to clients that a level of surveillance exists to monitor and to correct actions or conditions that are not in keeping with the responsibility of the system. Enforcement provisions also ensure that where violations of the legislation are identified, appropriate action is taken, providing both general and specific deterrents.

Developing partnerships through dialogue and information exchange and providing opportunities for client consultation which shapes OH&S Division services. The OH&S Division also recognizes the value of promoting general health and safety issues.

Enhancing client services to create an environment that sustains the development, availability and delivery of client services. Ensuring effective use of resources to service the public by effectively and efficiently allocating resources in pursuit of our mission. Ensuring the continuous evolution of legislation to serve Nova Scotians better.

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The division is built around two service branches, I may add. The field services and the central services. The field services are those provided directly in the workplace to the client. The central services are those directed to give technical support to the field service officers.

The Occupational Health and Safety Act provides for the promotion, the coordination, administration, enforcement of occupational health and safety in the Province of Nova Scotia, from one end to the other. The Act places certain duties on employers, on employees, self-employed persons, contractors, constructors, professionals, owners of supply outfits and providers of occupational health and safety services as well. The Act places emphasis on proactive approaches to prevent accidents, injury and disease through an internal responsibility system based on the cooperation and involvement of the workplace parties in occupational health and safety matters.

In addition, the broad duties identified by the Act are further defined by legislation, commonly referred to as regulations, together with lower tiers of non-Statutory codes of practice and guidelines.

The Occupational Health & Safety Division actually administers two of the following Acts: Coal Mines Regulation Act, the WHMIS section of the Hazardous Products Act and the Quarries Regulation Act. Information on these programs are available on the website.

The regulations have the effect of spelling out specific requirements of the legislation and may be formatted to prescribe specific standards of performance.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member's time has expired.

The House will now rise to meet again tomorrow at 12:00 p.m.

[The House rose at 6:29 p.m.]