Assemblée Législative de la Nouvelle-Écosse

Les travaux de la Chambre ont repris le
21 septembre 2017

Hansard -- Wed., Nov. 1, 2000

First Session

WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 1, 2000

TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE
PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS:
Justice - Lunenburg Correction Centre: Closure - Cease, Mr. D. Downe 7798
Health - Pharmacare: Co-Pay Increase - Oppose, Mr. F. Corbett 7799
Commun. Serv. - Social Assistance: Benefits - Increase,
Mr. Manning MacDonald 7799
Commun. Serv. - Social Assistance: Benefits - Increase,
Ms. Maureen MacDonald 7799
GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 2947, Econ. Dev. - Econ. Performance (N.S.): Strength -
Acknowledge, Hon. G. Balser 7800
Res. 2948, Nat. Res. - Himmelman, George & Pauline: Contribution -
Recognize, Hon. E. Fage 7800
Vote - Affirmative 7801
Res. 2949, Acadian Fed. N.S. - Structure: New - Best Wishes,
Hon. N. LeBlanc 7801
Vote - Affirmative 7802
Res. 2950, Agric. - 4-H: Nat. Conferences - Attendees Congrats.,
Hon. E. Fage 7802
Vote - Affirmative 7803
Res. 2951, Agric. - NSAC: Scholarships/Awards - Winners Congrats.,
Hon. E. Fage 7803
Vote - Affirmative 7804
NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 2952, Sysco - Gov't. (NS.): Plans - Indicate, Mr. P. MacEwan 7804
Res. 2953, Health - Dartmouth: Residents - Boudreau (Sen. Bernie)
Visit, Mr. John MacDonell 7804
Res. 2954, LeBlanc, Léo, Neil & Kevin - Wedgeport: Contributions -
Congrats., Hon. N. LeBlanc 7805
Vote - Affirmative 7806
Res. 2955, Health: Diabetes Awareness Month (Nov.) - Recognize,
(by Mr. Manning MacDonald) Mr. D. Downe 7806
Vote - Affirmative 7807
Res. 2956, Liberals (Cdn./N.S.) - Cape Breton: Treatment - Condemn,
Mr. F. Corbett 7807
Res. 2957, Stephens, Dr. Diane - Veterinary Care: Award - Recognize,
Hon. E. Fage 7807
Vote - Affirmative 7808
Res. 2958, Health - Concerns: Dismissal - Min. Condemn, Dr. J. Smith 7808
Res. 2959, Health - Care: Damage - Boudreau, Sen. Bernie Condemn,
Mr. D. Dexter 7809
Res. 2960, House of Assembly - Members' Debate: Twain, Mark -
Remember, Hon. G. Balser 7810
Res. 2961, Health - Med. Soc.: Information - Accuracy, Dr. J. Smith 7811
Res. 2962, Premier: Funds Save - Go-Between Terminate, Mr. J. Pye 7811
Res. 2963, MacRae, Wayne - Fall River/Riverlake: Lion of the Year -
Awards Congrats., Hon. P. Christie 7812
Vote - Affirmative 7813
Res. 2964, Election (Cdn.) - MLAs (N.S.): Participation - Lacking,
Mr. W. Estabrooks 7813
Res. 2965, Commun. Serv. - Chester & Area Fam. Res.: Wherehouse -
Best Wishes, (by Mrs. M. Baillie) Hon. J. Chataway 7813
Vote - Affirmative 7814
Res. 2966, Vet. Affs. - Post Card of Thanks Proj.: Appreciation -
Express, Mr. W. Langille 7814
Vote - Affirmative 7815
Res. 2967, Proudfoot's Home Hardware (Pictou) - Outstanding Retailer
Award: Staff - Congrats., Mrs. M. Baillie 7815
Vote - Affirmative 7815
Res. 2968, Forrestall, Frank - Dream Works SKG: Partnership -
Best Wishes, Mr. T. Olive 7816
Vote - Affirmative 7816
Res. 2969, Sports - Boxing: Paul, Chance - Recognize, Mr. B. Taylor 7816
Vote - Affirmative 7817
Res. 2970, Educ. - Shelburne Co. Learning Network: O'Connor, Shelly -
Encourage, Mr. C. O'Donnell 7817
Vote - Affirmative 7818
Res. 2971, Health - Aberdeen Hosp. Fdn.: Commun. - Commitment
Congrats., Mr. J. DeWolfe 7818
Vote - Affirmative 7819
Res. 2972, Econ. Dev. - Econ. (N.S.): Positive Activity - Opposition
Members Recognize, Mr. F. Chipman 7819
Res. 2973, Cottreau, Ellen & Franklyn - Community: Commitment -
Congrats., Hon. N. LeBlanc 7819
Vote - Affirmative 7820
Res. 2974, Health - Scotia Nursing Home: Renovation -
Steven's Group Congrats., Mr. B. Barnet 7821
Vote - Affirmative 7821
Res. 2975, Health - Queens Gen. Hosp.: Hospital Hustle -
Co-Conveners Applaud, Mr. K. Morash 7821
Vote - Affirmative 7822
Res. 2976, Teddies for Tragedy - Musq. Hbr.: Volunteers - Applaud,
Mr. W. Dooks 7822
Vote - Affirmative 7823
Res. 2977, Educ. - GALA (Guys. County Adult Learning Assoc.):
Learning Kit - Launch Recognize, Mr. Ronald Chisholm 7823
Vote - Affirmative 7824
Res. 2978, Culture - Four the Moment: Members - Acknowledge,
Mr. D. Hendsbee 7824
Vote - Affirmative 7824
Res. 2979, Applewicks: Anniversary (10th) - Congrats., Mr. D. Morse 7825
Vote - Affirmative 7825
Res. 2980, Liberals (Cdn.): Priorities - Amiss, Mr. B. Taylor 7825
Res. 2981, Environ. - Patterson, Ron: Contribution - Recognize,
Hon. E. Fage 7826
Vote - Affirmative 7827
Res. 2982, Commun. Serv. - Saulnier, Sharon & Roy: Efforts -
Applaud, Mr. K. Morash 7827
Vote - Affirmative 7828
Res. 2983, Educ. - Take Our Kids to Work Day: Sackville Heights
Jr. High (Grade 9) - Best Wishes, Mr. B. Barnet 7828
Vote - Affirmative 7828
Res. 2984, Tourism - Lunenburg: Destination - Promotion Commend,
Hon. M. Baker 7829
Vote - Affirmative 7829
Res. 2985, Watson, Duncan - Fall River/Riverlake: Lions Club
Citizen of the Year - Congrats., Hon. P. Christie 7829
Vote - Affirmative 7830
Res. 2986, Dartmouth Yacht Club - Marine Lift: Opening - Congrats.,
Mr. T. Olive 7830
Vote - Affirmative 7831
Res. 2987, Educ. - Southwest Reg. Sch. Bd.: Adult High School
(Lun. Co.) - Establishment Congrats., Hon. M. Baker 7831
Vote - Affirmative 7831
Res. 2988, Sysco: C.B. South (MLA) - Stance, Mr. J. Carey 7832
ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS:
No. 940, Health - Medical Society (N.S.): Physician Recruitment -
Consultation, Dr. J. Smith 7833
No. 941, Health: Provincial Health Council - Report,
Mr. John MacDonell 7834
No. 942, Exco - Code of Conduct: Discipline - Details, Mr. D. Wilson 7835
No. 943, Health - Care: Physicians - Recognize, Mr. D. Dexter 7836
No. 944, Health - Col. Reg. Hosp.: Min. - Leadership, Dr. J. Smith 7837
No. 945, Commun. Serv. - Social Assist. Rates: Low-Income Children -
Survival, Mr. K. Deveaux 7839
No. 946, Health - Western Reg.: Budgets (Nursing Homes) - Status,
Mr. D. Downe 7841
No. 947, Health - Col. Reg. Hosp.: Paediatric Care - Safety Ensure,
Mr. D. Dexter 7842
No. 948, Tourism - Inverness (Town): Profile - Raise,
Mr. Manning MacDonald 7843
No. 949, Health - EMC: Dispatchers - Lbr. Dispute, Mr. D. Dexter 7844
No. 950, Health : Dental Surgical In-Hospital Prog. - Impact,
Mr. R. MacKinnon 7845
No. 951, Sysco - Duferco: Agreement - Scrap Metal, Mr. F. Corbett 7846
No. 952, Educ. - Acadians/Francophones: Opportunities -
Reduction Explain, Mr. M. Samson 7847
No. 953, Health - Crosbie Ctr. (Kentville): Relocation - Reconsider,
Mr. D. Dexter 7848
No. 954, Educ. - Acadians: Rich. Co. - Abandonment Explain,
Mr. M. Samson 7849
No. 955, Health - Miller Bldg. (Kentville): Shutdown - Plan,
Mr. D. Dexter 7850
No. 956, Sysco - Site Remediation: Funds - Plan, Mr. P. MacEwan 7852
No. 957, Agric. - Farmers: Abandonment - Reason, Mr. John MacDonell 7853
No. 958, Serv. N.S. & Mun. Rel. - Groundwater Supply: Contamination -
Prevent, Mr. B. Boudreau 7855
No. 959, Nat. Res. - Beaches: Protection - Plans, Mr. W. Estabrooks 7856
No. 960, Commun. Serv. - Family Assist. Prog.: Advertising - Costs,
Mr. D. Wilson 7857
No. 961, Commun. Serv. - Small Options Homes (Duffus St., Hfx.):
Concerns - Address, Ms. Maureen MacDonald 7858
No. 962, Econ. Dev. - Funding: Decisions - Cabinet Role,
Mr. Manning MacDonald 7859
No. 963, Educ.: A.J. Smeltzer Jr. High School - Repairs, Mr. J. Holm 7861
OPPOSITION MEMBERS' BUSINESS:
MOTIONS OTHER THAN GOVERNMENT MOTIONS:
Res. 2918, EI - Gov't. (Cdn.): Cuts - Unfair, Mr. F. Corbett 7862
Mr. F. Corbett 7862
Hon. A. MacIsaac 7864
Mr. M. Samson 7868
Ms. Maureen MacDonald 7871
Res. 2809, Health - Cuts: Re-Examine, Mr. D. Dexter 7874
Mr. D. Dexter 7874
Hon. J. Muir 7877
Mr. B. Barnet 7879
Dr. J. Smith 7880
Mr. John MacDonell 7883
ADJOURNMENT:
MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5):
Gov't. (N.S.): Governance - Good:
Mr. J. DeWolfe 7888
Mr. D. Downe 7891
Mr. W. Estabrooks 7894
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Thur., Nov. 2nd at 12:00 p.m. 7896

[Page 7797]

HALIFAX, WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 1, 2000

Fifty-eighth General Assembly

First Session

2:00 P.M.

SPEAKER

Hon. Murray Scott

DEPUTY SPEAKERS

Mr. Brooke Taylor, Mr. Kevin Deveaux, Mr. David Wilson

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 Pictou East.

Therefore be it resolved that the Hamm Government is providing Nova Scotians with good government by making the difficult decisions now which will put Nova Scotia on the road to prosperity. (Applause)

The honourable Minister of Justice on an introduction.

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, it is my great pleasure to introduce a young man who is in your gallery today. His name is Thomas Delong. He is a Grade 9 student at New Germany Rural High School. He is part of the Take a Student to Work Day program. He has been job shadowing me today.

AN HON. MEMBER: A big shadow. (Laughter)

MR. BAKER: Yes, Mr. Speaker, probably the biggest in the House. Anyway, I would like Thomas to stand and receive the warm welcome of the House. (Applause)

7797

[Page 7798]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Lunenburg West on an introduction.

MR. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, I, too, am pleased to introduce in the Speaker's Gallery a young individual in Grade 9, Brendon Bolivar, who is following me for the day as well. I might not cast as big a shadow as some but it is just as much fun. I want to ask members of the House if they would please give a warm welcome to Brendan Bolivar who is also from Lunenburg County, attending New Germany Rural High School. (Applause)

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

MR. BARRY BARNET: Mr. Speaker, I, too, would like to make an introduction and introduce to you and to the members of this House, in the east gallery, my son, Bradley Barnet. He is shadowing me today, a Grade 9 student from Sackville Heights Junior High School. I would ask you to give him a warm welcome from the House. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: We will begin the daily routine.

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Lunenburg West.

MR. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition to the Honourable Michael Baker, Minister of Justice, Province of Nova Scotia. Whereas the Government of Nova Scotia has proposed and announced the closure of Lunenburg Correctional Centre scheduled for August 1, 2001, we the undersigned petition the Legislative Assembly of Nova Scotia to ask that the Lunenburg Correctional Centre remain open because it provides an incarceration facility for two police departments and five RCMP detachments. It is beneficial to the rehabilitation process of inmates to remain in our community, and it provides volunteer work programs beneficial to Lunenburg County, its staff provides alcohol and drug outreach programs to youth in schools. It represents about $850,000 in the local economy, and provides 18 jobs. Further, closure of the facility would increase costs of legal counsel and increased transportation costs of inmates to and from court, displacing staff and family members.

Mr. Speaker, there are some 500 signatures, and I have signed my name to the petition. I also understand there are some 600 signatures petitioned earlier to the member for Shelburne. I would like to table this to the House today.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Centre.

[Page 7799]

MR. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, this petition must be one of those tough decision ones that this government makes. I have a petition here signed by 1,920 pensioners from the Steelworkers and Sydney Pensioners Club, New Waterford Seniors and Pensioners Club. The operative phrase is, "We the Members of the club would like to launch a PETITION against the hike in our PHARMACARE MEDICAL PLAN. Our Co-Pay was 20% of our prescriptions now 33%, a 13% hike, our yearly premium was $215.00 a year, now is $565.00 yearly."

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton South.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition by a number of citizens in the Province of Nova Scotia, urging the Government of Nova Scotia to increase social assistance benefits without delay, in consultation with the women who rely on social assistance and their advocates, so that social assistance provides enough money to meet the actual costs of recipients' food, shelter, clothing, transportation and other basic needs. I have affixed my signature to the over 800 signatures.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition from more than 800 citizens of the Province of Nova Scotia, which says, "I urge the Government of Nova Scotia to increase social assistance benefits without delay, in consultation with the women who rely on social assistance and their advocates, so that social assistance provides enough money to meet the actual costs of recipients' food, shelter, clothing, transportation and other basic needs." I too have affixed my signature to this petition.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Economic Development.

[Page 7800]

RESOLUTION NO. 2947

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

Whereas Nova Scotia's economy has, by independent analysis, been significantly outperforming other economies; and

Whereas Nova Scotia's 5.27 per cent growth rate places it third amongst provincial economies and well above the Statistics Canada's estimate of 3.2 per cent; and

Whereas Alister Smith, Deputy Chief Economist of the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, stated Nova Scotia is in the early stages of a two decade long development of natural gas opportunities;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House acknowledge that Nova Scotia's strongest economic performance in the past two decades is a direct reflection of the clear course and strong leadership agenda of Premier John Hamm.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Natural Resources.

RESOLUTION NO. 2948

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 Province of Nova Scotia has sent a Christmas tree to Boston every year since the Halifax Explosion to express their gratitude for the assistance provided by the people of Massachusetts to the City of Halifax following the 1917 disaster; and

Whereas a representative from the City of Boston travelled to Nova Scotia to view six prospective trees selected by Pat Murphy, an extension specialist with the Department of Natural Resources; and

Whereas this year, a 50 foot white spruce was selected from a site in Lunenburg County, owned by George and Pauline Himmelman of Amherst, Nova Scotia;

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize George and Pauline Himmelman for their contribution to the legacy of the cooperation, compassion and humanity that annually lets the people of Halifax, and indeed all of Nova Scotia, say thank you to our friends in Massachusetts for their rush to our side during our darkest hour.

[Page 7801]

Mr. Speaker, I respectfully request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Finance.

RESOLUTION NO. 2949

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

Attendu que l'assemblée générale annuelle de la Fédération acadienne de la Nouvelle-Écosse avait lieu cette fin de semaine passée; et

Attendu que la FANE représente toutes les régions acadiennes de la Nouvelle-Écosse et travaille depuis plus de trente ans à promouvoir la culture et l'héritage acadien; et

Attendu que les membres ont adopté les nouveaux statuts et règlements proposés par la Fédération afin de mieux servir la communauté acadienne;

Qu'il soit résolu que cette assemblée transmette à la Fédération acadienne ses meilleurs voeux de succès durant la période de transition nécessaire pour implanter la nouvelle structure.

Monsieur le président, je demande l'adoption de cette résolution sans préavis et sans débat.

[2:15 p.m.]

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

Whereas the Acadian Federation of Nova Scotia held its annual general meeting this last weekend; and

[Page 7802]

Whereas the Acadian Federation represents all the Acadian communities in Nova Scotia and has been active for more than 30 years in promoting the Acadian culture and heritage; and

Whereas the members adopted the new rules and regulations proposed by the federation in order to better meet the needs of the Acadian community;

Therefore be it resolved that this House convey to the Fédération acadienne its best wishes for success in the implementation of a new structure.

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 Natural Resources.

RESOLUTION NO. 2950

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 province has 11 4-H members and leaders attending the National 4-H Volunteer Leaders Conference today until November 5th in Toronto; and

Whereas the six members attending the members conference are Shauna MacLaughlin of Annapolis County; Robin Gates of Kings County; Justin Rovers of Antigonish; Andrew Lewis of Cape Breton County; Anne Veniot of Lunenburg County; and Sara May Turber of the Halifax East Hants area; and

Whereas the five leaders attending the leaders conference are Joze Kowenburg of Cumberland County; Jean Ascott of Annapolis County; Nelson Peterson of Victoria County; Mildred Levy of Kings County; and Mary Ellen MacDonald of Antigonish County;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate these 4-H members and leaders for being selected to attend the two premier 4-H events in the country.

[Page 7803]

Mr. Speaker, I respectfully 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 Natural Resources.

RESOLUTION NO. 2951

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

Whereas on October 25, 2000, the Nova Scotia Agricultural College in Bible Hill honoured 230 scholarship recipients and award winners at its annual Autumn Assembly; and

Whereas over $616,000 was awarded for outstanding academic achievements, the highest ever awarded by the Agricultural College; and

Whereas scholarships were awarded for the first time from the Nova Scotia Animal Breeders Co-op, the Nova Scotia and Newfoundland Branch of the Holstein Canada Society and the Taste of Nova Scotia Quality Food Program;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the 230 award winners for their academic excellence, congratulate the Agricultural College on this year's high funding level in scholarships and awards, and thank the organizations that also sponsored awards for investing in Nova Scotia's future agricultural and community leadership.

Mr. Speaker, I respectfully 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 7804]

The motion is carried.

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

NOTICES OF MOTION

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

RESOLUTION NO. 2952

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

Whereas it should by no means be presumed that the responsibilities of the Government of Nova Scotia with respect to the Sydney Steel Corporation have come to an end; and

Whereas the responsibilities of government with respect to site remediation and environmental restoration for those parts of the Sysco property not involved in the current steelmaking operation are immense; and

Whereas this government conservatively estimates that $300 million is required for the Sysco site clean-up, yet has not announced any details as to how this money will be allocated;

Therefore be it resolved that the time for talk has long since passed, the time for action is now, and this government must immediately indicate its plans with respect to ongoing responsibilities at Sydney Steel.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable Leader in the House of the New Democratic Party.

RESOLUTION NO. 2953

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

Whereas former Senator Bernie Boudreau visited the Dartmouth General Hospital today; and

Whereas the Liberals wiped out more than 10 per cent of the Dartmouth General Hospital's acute care beds when Bernie Boudreau cut beds from 144 to 126; and

[Page 7805]

Whereas the federal Liberal Government is not providing any additional transfer payments for Nova Scotia health care next year, despite the widespread chaos in our system;

Therefore be it resolved that Dartmouth residents deserve better than election time tours by the man who first took the axe to their hospital and then revisited the scene of his crime.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Finance.

RESOLUTION NO. 2954

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

Attendu que lors de son assemblée annuelle, le comité régional de la Fédération acadienne en Argyle reconnaît des personnes qui ont contribué à leur communauté de façon importante pendant plusieurs années; et

Attendu que le comité de la FANE honorait cette année Léo, Neil et Kevin LeBlanc de LeBlanc Brothers Construction Ltd. Pour leur participation à la communauté de Wedgeport; et

Attendu que ils contribuent sans réserve depuis longtemps à de nombreuses activités, telles le baseball mineur, le scoutisme, le terrain de jeux de l'École de Wedgeport, le 250e anniversaire de Wedgeport, et bien d'autres encore;

Qu'il soit résolu que cette assemblée transmette ses plus sincères félicitations et ses remerciements à Léo, Neil et Kevin LeBlanc de LeBlanc Brothers Construction Ltd. pour leur contribution à leur communauté.

Monsieur le président, je demande l'adoption de cette résolution sans préavis et sans débat.

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

Whereas each year at its general meeting the regional committee of the Acadian Federation in Argyle recognizes people who have contributed significantly to the community over many years; and

[Page 7806]

Whereas this year the committee highlighted the commitment of Leo, Neil, and Kevin LeBlanc - no relation - of LeBlanc Brothers Construction Limited, to the community of Wedgeport; and

Whereas they have contributed without reservation to many organizations and events such as minor baseball, the Scout movement, the school playground, and the 250th Anniversary of our community;

Therefore be it resolved that this House convey its most sincere congratulations to the brothers for their most important contribution to the community.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton South.

RESOLUTION NO. 2955

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

Whereas November has been designated Diabetes Awareness Month; and

Whereas the Nova Scotia Division of the Canadian Diabetes Association is hosting a province-wide "Dress Down for Diabetes" to help fund research services and advocacy; and

Whereas more than 50,000 Nova Scotians have been diagnosed with diabetes and are required to take insulin;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House recognize November as Diabetes Awareness Month and participate in the "Dress Down for Diabetes" campaign.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for waiver.

[Page 7807]

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Centre.

RESOLUTION NO. 2956

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 Liberal caucus seems to be very concerned about unemployed federal NDP MPs; and

Whereas what they should be concerned about is unemployed Cape Bretoners who will continue to suffer by federal Liberal's inaction on EI benefits; and

Whereas once again the federal Liberal Government has proven that Cape Breton does not matter to them;

Therefore be it resolved that this House condemn the federal Liberals, and their provincial puppets in this House, for taking Cape Breton for granted.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Natural Resources.

RESOLUTION NO. 2957

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

Whereas Dr. Diane Stephens is a respected small-animal veterinarian in the Amherst area and has practised at the Amherst veterinary clinic for three years; and

[Page 7808]

Whereas Dr. Stephens routinely goes above and beyond the call of duty in her relationship and communication with her pet owners and takes the time to explain procedures and objectives and address concerns with all members of a pet's family; and

Whereas Dr. Stephens' approach to pet care has resulted in her receiving one of six Canadian, Hill's Pet Veterinarian Awards of Appreciation;

Therefore be it resolved that the House recognize Dr. Diane Stephens for her caring approach to small-animal health and welfare, and acknowledge her as a leader in her profession.

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

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

RESOLUTION NO. 2958

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

Whereas the ongoing crisis at the Colchester Regional Hospital has been met with terse responses by the Minister of Health; and

Whereas when confronted with issues of safety by staff, the Health Minister suggested they were dealing with the issue on an emotional basis; and

Whereas the truth is doctors and nurses at the Colchester facilities are dealing with possible cuts in a reasonable and professional manner, and that if emotion is involved it only means they care;

[Page 7809]

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House condemn the Minister of Health for dismissing the concerns of health care workers, and that if the minister dealt with issues in a more compassionate way he would understand that emotion and reason are not incompatible.

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

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour.

RESOLUTION NO. 2959

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

Whereas it was Liberal Senator Bernie Boudreau who was the provincial architect for deep health care cuts in Nova Scotia in the 1990's; and

Whereas Bernie Boudreau was both Finance Minister and Health Minister when this province laid off thousands of health care workers; and (Interruptions)

Pardon me, Mr. Speaker, but the members of the House over here are being rude, as usual. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour has the floor.

MR. DEXTER: Whereas it was under Bernie Boudreau's leadership that doctors and nurses began leaving this province to seek out better employment opportunities elsewhere;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House condemn Senator Bernie Boudreau, the federal Liberals and their provincial Liberal counterparts for the damage they have inflicted upon the health care system in this province.

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

[Page 7810]

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Economic Development.

RESOLUTION NO. 2960

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

Whereas great parliamentarians like Gladstone, Disraeli, Churchill and Trudeau will forever be remembered as much for their wit and wisdom as for their legislative agenda; and

Whereas the hallowed halls of this very Chamber have echoed with the voices of such great orators as Joseph Howe, John Diefenbaker and Richard Uniacke; and

Whereas the level of oration and debate in this House, particularly as it applies to the filibuster on Bill No. 62, has bordered on in the inane, pointless and just plain boring;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House, as they rise to speak in debate be ever mindful of the words of Mark Twain, who said, "It is better to be silent and have them think you a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt."

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

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

[Page 7811]

RESOLUTION NO. 2961

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

Whereas in May the Minister of Health said Liberal claims about cuts at the QE II were widely inaccurate; and

Whereas in June the minister said Liberal information about cuts across the province was wrong, then he said it was old; and

Whereas yesterday the minister said Liberal claims about the number of calls logged at the Medical Society regarding family physicians was false;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Health should learn his lesson that he should never shoot the messenger before learning whether or not the message is correct.

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

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice it tabled.

The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

RESOLUTION NO. 2962

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

Whereas it is obvious to us that the Premier is wasting taxpayers' dollars on his former campaign manager to act as a go-between for caucus and the Cabinet; and

[2:30 p.m.]

Whereas for $41,000, the go-between for the Tories failed miserably to convey the Cabinet's position on a recent Human Resources appointment; and

[Page 7812]

Whereas Tory backbenchers have appeared to have hi-jacked the Human Resources Committee in order to get Tory friends appointments;

Therefore be it resolved that in an effort to save money, the Premier should fire his overpriced and obviously ineffective go-between and start talking directly to caucus and their members.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Community Services.

RESOLUTION NO. 2963

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

Whereas Wayne MacRae has been an active member of the Fall River-Riverlake District Lions Club for the past seven years; and

Whereas during those years Mr. MacRae has held numerous positions and has been an active part of the club, working as head of the Lions Christmas Express; and

Whereas on October 25, 2000, the Fall River-Riverlake District Lions Club held their annual awards night and honoured Mr. MacRae;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House extend their congratulations to the Fall River-Riverlake Lion of the Year, Wayne MacRae, for all of his dedicated work on the project.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 7813]

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect.

RESOLUTION NO. 2964

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

Whereas earlier this year several sitting Liberal MLAs were looking to take a run at federal politics; and

Whereas much to our surprise none of these members have declared federally; and

Whereas it would appear that either they have now lost their nerve, had no chance of winning or just weren't wanted by their federal cousins;

Therefore be it resolved that Liberals MLAs remember that old axiom "those who can, do; and those who can't, criticize".

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Pictou West.

RESOLUTION NO. 2965

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

Whereas youth centres are an important part of community life, offering young people opportunities to gather and socialize; and

Whereas the Wherehouse, a youth centre in the Village of Chester, recently opened its doors; and

Whereas the Wherehouse, sponsored by the Chester and Area Family Resource Centre, provides programs and services for young people, aged 13 and up, with pre-teen activities one night a week;

[Page 7814]

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize the important investment that the Chester and Area Family Resources is making in the young people of Chester and wish everyone involved with the operation of the Wherehouse the best of luck.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Colchester North.

RESOLUTION NO. 2966

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

Whereas for the third consecutive year the all-Party Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs is sponsoring the Thank You Post Card for Veterans Program; and

Whereas Grade 6 students in Nova Scotia will receive a postage stamp and a post card depicting Canadian soldiers in a peacekeeping role to send a personal thank you note to a veteran for the sacrifice made by these dedicated Nova Scotians who served our country; and

Whereas these post cards were provided by the federal Department of Veterans Affairs and the cost of postage was covered by TRA Maritime and the Nova Scotia Teachers Union;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House express their appreciation to all participants in this worthwhile effort, the Grade 6 students, their educators, the Royal Canadian Legion the postage sponsors and the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 7815]

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Pictou West.

RESOLUTION NO. 2967

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

Whereas Proudfoot's Home Hardware in Pictou was recently honoured with the Outstanding Retailer Award as one of the best home dealers in Canada; and

Whereas the store was recognized from among 960 dealers from across Canada for its excellence in staff performance and customer service, retailing and merchandise presentation and the overall quality of the store; and

Whereas this award speaks of the long-standing commitment of Proudfoot's Home Hardware to serving the people of Pictou County;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate the staff and management of Proudfoot's Home Hardware Store in Pictou on receiving this award.

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 Dartmouth South.

[Page 7816]

RESOLUTION NO. 2968

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

Whereas more and more Nova Scotian entrepreneurs are achieving success as a result of new information technologies; and

Whereas one of the latest Nova Scotian success stories is that of Dartmouth artist Frank Forestall whose animated web series Tales of Irth will be produced in Halifax and shown on the popular entertainment site Pop.com; and

Whereas the contract to supply Tales of Irth to Pop.com, owned by Stephen Spielberg, head of Dream Works SKG, calls for a new episode every two weeks requiring 200 hours of work per episode;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Dartmouth artist Frank Forrestall on the success of his recent business partnership with Dream Works SKG and wish him continued success in all future endeavours.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

RESOLUTION NO. 2969

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

Whereas Chance Paul of the Millbrook Indian Reserve in Colchester County will celebrate his 13th birthday tomorrow by appearing on the Aboriginal Peoples National Television Network; and

[Page 7817]

Whereas Paul and the club he belongs to, the Colchester County Amateur Boxing Club, will be featured as part of a new show called Jumpstart which provides a focus on Canadian Aboriginal children; and

Whereas Paul, at the present time, is the Nova Scotia Novice Junior A Champion in the 119 pound weight class;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly recognize the ability and work ethic of Chance Paul while also commending his head coach, David (Tex) MacLeod, for his dedication in assisting this young athlete in his quest for excellence.

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 Shelburne.

RESOLUTION NO. 2970

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

Whereas the Shelburne County Learning Network is now employing two full-time staff instead of just one part-timer; and

Whereas Network Volunteer Coordinator Shelly O'Connor will be one of the two new staff members who hope to begin work on such projects as a homework club at Our House Youth Wellness Centre in Shelburne; and

Whereas the announcement of these new full-time jobs took place earlier this fall during International Literacy Day celebrations in Shelburne;

[Page 7818]

Therefore be it resolved that through this resolution members of this House of Assembly encourage Shelly, her staff and all volunteers associated with the Shelburne County Learning Network the very best as they work on lifelong learning projects for those individuals most in need.

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. 2971

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

Whereas the Aberdeen Hospital Foundation and the hospital's trust programs are well known for their hard work and dedication to the hospital and the community; and

Whereas the foundation and trust programs have recently purchased a digital imaging system and equipment for the operating room at the hospital; and

Whereas the hospital recently launched the Leave a Legacy campaign to assist the Aberdeen Hospital Foundation and trust programs in their efforts;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate the Aberdeen Hospital Foundation and the Aberdeen Hospital Trust programs for their unwavering commitment to their community and wish them much success in their future.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 7819]

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. 2972

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

Whereas Nova Scotia's economy is red hot at the present time, despite the information being brought to this House of Assembly by certain members of the Opposition; and

Whereas a recent Human Resources Development Canada Labour Market Report clearly showed that net migration to Nova Scotia in 1999 for those aged 25 to 44 was 1,000 greater than the year before; and

Whereas the outflow of Nova Scotian workers to Alberta saw a decrease of 75 per cent from the previous year, a dramatic turnaround with more people coming to work in Nova Scotia instead of leaving for the West;

Therefore be it resolved that members of the Opposition recognize the positive activity happening across the province and the benefits of this activity for all Nova Scotians.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Finance.

RESOLUTION NO. 2973

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

[Page 7820]

Attendu que lors de son assemblée annuelle, le comité régional de la Fédération acadienne en Argyle reconnaît des personnes qui ont contribué à leur communauté de façon importante pendant plusieurs années; et

Attendu que le comité de la FANE honorait cette année Ellen et Franklin Cottreau pour leur engagement communautaire; et

Attendu que l'énorme participation de Ellen et Franklin Cottreau à la communauté acadienne dépasse les frontières de leur région, les deux étant engagés dans les Jeux de l'Acadie, le Conseil d'école, et j'en passe;

Qu'il soit résolu que cette assemblée transmette ses plus sincères félicitations et ses remerciements à Ellen et Franklin Cottreau, pour leur contribution à leur communauté.

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

Whereas each year at its general meeting the regional committee of the Acadian Federation in Argyle recognizes people who have contributed significantly to their community over many years; and

Whereas this year the committee highlighted the commitment of Ellen and Franklin Cottreau; and

Whereas Ellen and Franklin's enormous contribution to the Acadian community reaches beyond the boundaries of their region, both of them being involved in the Regional Acadian Games (Jeux de l'Acadie) the school committee and many more;

Therefore be it resolved that this House convey its most sincere congratulations to both Ellen and Frank Cottreau for their important contribution to the community.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

[Page 7821]

The honourable member for Sackville-Beaver Bank.

RESOLUTION NO. 2974

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

Whereas on October 23rd Scotia Nursing Home in north Beaver Bank celebrated its grand reopening with the Minister of Health; and

Whereas the $5 million renovation of Scotia Nursing Home is a vast improvement to the home of the seniors who live there; and

Whereas the cooperative efforts of the staff, management, contractors and residents was the reason for the success of this project;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House congratulate the Steven's Group, the staff and the residents for a job well done.

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 Queens.

RESOLUTION NO. 2975

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

Whereas the Hospital Hustle is an annual community event that raises funds for Queen's General Hospital; and

Whereas every year this event enjoys the enthusiastic support of local residents who buy donated goods at the Hospital Hustle; and

[Page 7822]

Whereas this year's Hospital Hustle raised an amazing $20,000;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House applaud the efforts of Hospital Hustle co-conveners, Shirley Melanson and Linda Delaney, and everyone involved in making this wonderful event a success and wish them well as they begin organizing Hospital Hustle 2001.

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 Eastern Shore.

RESOLUTION NO. 2976

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

Whereas a project started by a small group of Musquodoboit Harbour women only seven months ago to knit teddy bears to comfort traumatized children has spread across eastern Canada; and

Whereas the Teddies for Tragedy concept originated in Scotland in 1986 when a women's guild began knitting teddy bears for children in war-torn countries; and

Whereas more than 500 teddy bears knit by volunteers from along the Eastern Shore have been distributed to RCMP detachments, hospitals, fire departments and other agencies who encounter distressed children;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House applaud the efforts of the many volunteers involved in the Teddies for Tragedy project, especially Bette Foster and the group of knitters from the Eastern Shore who helped spearhead the growth of this special project.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

[Page 7823]

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. 2977

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

Whereas GALA, the Guysborough County Adult Learning Association, recently launched its newly developed learning kit, Another Hundred Years or So; and

Whereas this kit includes more than 300 pages of historical stories, many written by local residents, as well as a video and follow-up activities; and

[2:45 p.m.]

Whereas the kit was developed to help create awareness about Guysborough County and its rich history;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize the hard work involved in developing this unique learning tool and thank everyone involved with the Guysborough County Learning Association for their commitment and dedication to providing adult education opportunities throughout Guysborough County.

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.

[Page 7824]

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Preston.

RESOLUTION NO. 2978

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

Whereas last Sunday evening, the curtain closed on the final concert of local a cappella group, Four the Moment, after 19 years of eloquent, provocative music highlighting the African-Nova Scotia historical experience of oppression, marginalization and injustice through song; and

Whereas over their 19 year career, Four the Moment recorded three albums, We're Still Standing, Tenth Anniversary Concert - Four the Moment, Live!, and In My Soul; and

Whereas their musical talent and stage presence has been showcased and shared through regional and national radio and television, films and international concerts;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House acknowledge and recognize the women of Four the Moment and its past members for their spiritual awakening, lyrical and vocal contribution to our community, country and the world, and wish them well as they continue their musical careers in other forms in days hence.

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 Annapolis, on an introduction.

MR. FRANK CHIPMAN: Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure this afternoon to introduce the Grade 12 political science class from Middleton Regional High School, and also two members of the staff, Mr. William Hines and Mr. Calvin Eddy, who is the Mayor-

[Page 7825]

elect of Middleton. Would the class and teachers please stand and receive the recognition of the House. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings South.

RESOLUTION NO. 2979

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

Whereas Applewicks in Wolfville is widely recognized for their quality handmade candles, woven items and other crafts; and

Whereas this Friday, Applewicks will host an open house in celebration of their 10th Anniversary; and

Whereas Applewicks is a unique workshop of L'Arche Homefries, employing people with disabilities, providing them an opportunity to experience the joys of working, sharing and acceptance; and

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Applewicks on their 10th Anniversary, and thank them for the special role they have played in the Valley community, and wish them continued success and good luck in the years ahead.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

RESOLUTION NO. 2980

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

[Page 7826]

Whereas the Chretien Liberals in Ottawa once bragged that their ineffective Firearms Act wouldn't cost one red cent over $85 million; and

Whereas now the soon-to-be-defeated federal Justice Minister and Edmonton MP Anne McLellan admits that the boondoggle has cost millions more; and

Whereas the Chretien Liberals also ripped away the Canada Health and Social Transfers, greatly impacting the delivery of health care here in Canada and in Nova Scotia;

Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia House of Assembly clearly recognize that the Chretien Liberals in Ottawa have their priorities all screwed up.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Natural Resources.

RESOLUTION NO. 2981

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

Whereas Ron Patterson, who is the Vice-President and the Atlantic representative of the Canadian Water and Wastewater Association, and has dedicated a great deal of his time to work with several North American water associations, including the American Water Works Association; and

Whereas Ron Patterson has been the town engineer for the Town of Amherst since 1981, and has been instrumental in developing and promoting the management operation of the water and waste water systems both in his community and the Atlantic Region; and

Whereas Mr. Patterson has recently been recognized for his tireless efforts to ensure quality water and water systems for all of Atlantic Canadians with the receipt of the George Warren Fuller Award;

[Page 7827]

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize Ron Patterson for his commitment and significant contributions in the field of water management for the citizens of Amherst and of all of Nova Scotia and, indeed, Atlantic Canada.

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 Queens.

RESOLUTION NO. 2982

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

Whereas Sharon and Roy Saulnier of Liverpool have been foster parents for more than 25 years; and

Whereas Sharon and Roy were recently honoured, at the Annual Queens County Foster Family Fun Night, for their efforts; and

Whereas foster families play such an important role in the day-to-day lives of children in their care;

Therefore be it resolved that this House applaud the efforts of Sharon and Roy Saulnier and all foster parents in Nova Scotia for their commitment and dedication to the children for whom they care.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

[Page 7828]

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Health on an introduction.

HON. JAMIE MUIR: Mr. Speaker, through you to the members of the House I would like to introduce another visitor today who is job-shadowing, Shaun Darling, and also his mother, Donna Darling, who works in our department. I would ask all members to welcome them. (Applause)

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

RESOLUTION NO. 2983

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

Whereas today is Take Our Kids to Work Day for Grade 9 students across Nova Scotia; and

Whereas over 8,000 students will join their parents and others at various workplaces around Nova Scotia; and

Whereas Sackville Junior High School student Bradley Barnet has joined me, his father, to be with us today to help him learn what we do as legislators in this province;

Therefore be it resolved that this House send best wishes to all Grade 9 students and welcome Bradley to this House.

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 Minister of Justice.

[Page 7829]

RESOLUTION NO. 2984

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 Town of Lunenburg has been designated as one of only three UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Canada; and

Whereas the Town of Lunenburg and the Lunenburg Board of Trade have been working tirelessly to promote the town's designation as a World Heritage Site; and

Whereas as a result of the effort of the Town of Lunenburg and the Lunenburg Board of Trade, a sign as been erected on Highway No. 103 denoting the town's unique designation;

Therefore be it resolved that the House of Assembly commend the Town of Lunenburg and the Lunenburg Board of Trade on their efforts to promote the town as a tourist destination as part of its designation as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

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 Minister of Community Services.

RESOLUTION NO. 2985

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

Whereas Duncan Watson has lived in the community of Wellington for the past 23 years; and

Whereas during these 23 years, Mr. Watson has always found time to volunteer in the community his culinary expertise to such things as church suppers and the Fall River-Riverlake District Lions Club functions; and

[Page 7830]

Whereas the Fall River-Riverlake District Lions Club held their annual awards night and honoured Duncan Watson as the Lions Club Citizen of the Year;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House extend their congratulations to the Fall River-Riverlake Lions Club Citizen of the Year, Duncan Watson, for all of his hard work and dedication.

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

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Dartmouth South.

RESOLUTION NO. 2986

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

Whereas the Dartmouth Yacht Club opened in 1963 with a membership of about 40, drawn largely from the local business community, and now has a membership of over 250; and

Whereas in the early 1990's, the Dartmouth Yacht Club committed to building a marine four-foot lift and ramp to allow members to provide emergency services to boats as well as routine maintenance; and

Whereas the marine lift and ramp were official opened on August 4th, and now is the only mobile boat lift of its kind in use in this region;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate the Dartmouth Yacht Club on the opening of its marine lift and ramp and for the important role it has played in the Dartmouth community for the past 37 years.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for waiver.

[Page 7831]

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. 2987

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

Whereas it is never too late for someone to return to the classroom to further their education; and

Whereas it is often difficult for that person to find the flexibility in his or her schedule necessary to resume the educational challenge; and

Whereas an adult high school opened in Lunenburg County in September to provide just such flexibility to those who have been out of school for more than a year, affording students an opportunity to advance their education and improve their future prospects;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate the Southwest Regional School Board for the establishment of the first adult high school in Lunenburg County and wish all the best to those who work and study there.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

[Page 7832]

The honourable member for Kings West.

RESOLUTION NO. 2988

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

Whereas the previous Liberal Government with the Cape Breton South member in tow as minister was always full of rhetoric on the potential sale of Sysco but could never get any sale finalized; and

Whereas the member for Cape Breton South on CBC Radio late yesterday afternoon was doing his best to try and have the public believe that he could not support the sale of Sysco because he did not have enough details; and

Whereas the Progressive Conservative Government has now completed the sale of Sysco in a time frame of 14 months, something the Liberals could not do in over six years;

Therefore be it resolved that the member for Cape Breton South make it clear - does he support hundreds of millions of additional taxpayers' money going into Sysco with no employment prospects or does he support the sale to Duferco and work for approximately 215 steelworkers in the first phase of the operation with the potential for up to 400 jobs in the future.

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.

ORDERS OF THE DAY

ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS

MR. SPEAKER: Question Period will run from 2:57 p.m. to 4:27 p.m.

The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

[Page 7833]

HEALTH - MEDICAL SOCIETY (N.S.):

PHYSICIAN RECRUITMENT - CONSULTATION

DR. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health. This morning the Provincial Health Council released its health for Nova Scotians report and Nova Scotians told the Provincial Health Council that we needed to recruit more doctors. Yesterday in this House the minister accused the Liberals of presenting inaccurate information in regard to the number of calls logged by the Medical Society from people desperately trying to find a family physician. My question to the minister is, how can the minister claim that he consulted with the Medical Society when he has no idea about the extent of their frustration with the process to deal with the shortage of family physicians?

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, as I explained yesterday, the responsibility for fielding calls from people who did not have family physicians had been agreed to move from the Medical Society to the Department of Health and I will tell the honourable member as of a half hour or so before I came into this House yesterday I was in conversation with a senior representative of the Medical Society.

DR. SMITH: The Health Council was also told by Nova Scotians that it is time to stop the chaos that has been created in our health care system. The Minister of Health disagreed with this statement apparently and this morning has said that he feels good about our health care system and the direction that it is taking. My question to the minister, if the minister insists on sticking with his viewpoint, can he tell us if he believes that there is a doctor shortage in Nova Scotia and what is his plan to address it?

MR. MUIR: I have never in the 14 months in which I have had this portfolio tried to tell anybody that the numbers of physicians in this province were the numbers that we would like to have. I have also stood here and I stand to say that we have been extremely successful in recruiting physicians to this province. We have more physicians and family specialists per 100,000 people than the national average. We have been very successful in a very, very competitive market. I know we are not at where we would like to be but I make no apologies and I feel very good about the efforts of my department to recruit new health care workers to this province.

[3:00 p.m.]

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, it is pretty evident that this minister is not prepared to address the concerns contained in the Health Council report, that was released this morning. That report said that they are hearing the same thing over again, that this government is not listening. How much more evidence does the minister need before he shakes his head out of the sand and changes direction before it is too late for the health care system here in Nova Scotia?

[Page 7834]

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I am delighted. It gives me an opportunity to comment on the great work that the Provincial Health Council has done this past year in going out and consulting Nova Scotians about the direction for the health care system.

AN HON. MEMBER: That's the one they closed, isn't it?

MR. MUIR: That was the one they shut down, that's right. Mr. Speaker, one of the interesting things, and the honourable member knows this, is that the recommendations contained in that report, which was released at the press conference today, are the very directions that this government is endorsing for health care in this province.

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

HEALTH: PROVINCIAL HEALTH COUNCIL - REPORT

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, my question will be directed to the Premier. The Premier was elected on a platform of health care, the number one priority. He said the Provincial Health Council would be his eyes and ears. At this morning's briefing at the Provincial Health Council, the report, Health for Nova Scotians, was released. The Provincial Health Council Chair, Barbara Hart, reported the province-wide consultation found our health system is in chaos. Immediately afterward, your minister disagreed and said he feels that the system is in fact stabilizing. My question to the Premier, who said he was going to fix health care, who are you going to listen to, the minister or the people of Nova Scotia?

HON. JOHN HAMM (The Premier): Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the question from the member opposite. The member opposite is aware that it was as a result of the initiative of this Party that the Provincial Health Council was reinstituted because we know it plays a very important role in watching what it is that government does about health care. I also heard just a very few seconds ago the Minister of Health indicating that what the Provincial Health Council is recommending is exactly the route that he intends to follow.

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, that is not what the minister said this morning. The same report also stated that even with the recent federal attempt to put something back into the system, the funding levels to health care in Nova Scotia are still short of the 1993 levels. Since health care is being cut, it is nothing short of shocking to hear the minister say, everything is just fine. Will the Premier level with the people of Nova Scotia and tell them how he will address the concerns outlined in the report?

THE PREMIER: The report has just been received by government and the minister has already had an opportunity to scan it and we will be studying it. We intend to take what it is the Provincial Health Council says very seriously.

[Page 7835]

On the other hand, you did make mention of resources. It has been no secret that this government has been very critical of the cost-sharing arrangements that we have with Ottawa. As a matter of fact, one of the dilemma that we find ourselves in is that this year we will receive $144 million less for health care from Ottawa than we did in 1993. (Interruptions)

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: You wanted to be Premier.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member for Hants East has the floor.

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: The minister may have scanned it but his response has been scandalous.

Mr. Speaker, the people in Nova Scotia clearly feel the health care system is in chaos and not getting any better. This report indicates that Nova Scotians are sick and tired of being asked the same questions over and over while government never listens. My question is this, how many reports is it going to take before Nova Scotians' number one priority becomes the Premier's number one priority?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I can assure the member opposite and, through him, assure all Nova Scotians that we are in the process, first of all, of ensuring that the money we do put into health care, which is the largest single expenditure of government, is money well spent. As funds become available, we will work following the directions of the Provincial Health Council to improve the health care delivery system in Nova Scotia to the kind of a health care system that all of us will be able to support, including members of the Opposition.

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

EXCO - CODE OF CONDUCT: DISCIPLINE - DETAILS

MR. DAVID WILSON: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Premier. The very first section of the Ministerial Code of Conduct says, "Ministers must be truthful and forthright. Ministers must not deceive or knowingly mislead the House of Assembly, or the public, . . ." I will table that part of the Ministerial Code of Conduct. My question for the Premier is, can the Premier please explain how a minister will be disciplined if that minister has been found guilty of misleading this House and the public?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. That is a bill that is before the House today that a question can't be asked about. It is a bill that is before the House today. (Interruptions) That is a bill before this House today. (Interruptions) Order, please. That is a bill before the House today. He can't ask a question on that bill.

[Page 7836]

MR. WILSON: Mr. Speaker, under the present policy I am not referring to bill.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. But it does refer to the content of that bill that is before the House.

MR. WILSON: Mr. Speaker, I can continue with my question, because yesterday, again to the Premier in this House, the Minister of Health said that the Liberals presented inaccurate information about the number of calls logged by the Medical Society. As we all know those numbers turned out to be true. It is the same minister who is rather famous for playing word games with the media. The minister also said that the information revealed by the Liberal caucus about health cuts last June was wrong, when in fact, it was correct. Again, to the Premier, I would like to know how does the Premier plan to discipline the Minister of Health, who has knowingly accused Liberal MLAs of not being truthful, when the minister knew that we were telling the truth?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I can assure the member opposite that I have every confidence in my Minister of Health. I believe he is handling his portfolio in a very satisfactory manner, and I believe that if the member opposite has something substantial to say, he should say it. What we have here is simply a disagreement between members, and that is not an uncommon situation in the House.

MR. WILSON: Mr. Speaker, I think you can find the substantial comments I am talking about in Hansard, and perhaps the Premier would like to check that. If the Premier truly believes that the Minister of Health did not mislead this house, then the Minister of Health certainly must be ignorant of some vital issues concerning his department. I am asking the Premier, will he commit to disciplining his Minister of Health under the code of conduct or immediately ask for the resignation from the Health portfolio?

THE PREMIER: No.

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

HEALTH - CARE: PHYSICIANS - RECOGNIZE

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health. One of the findings in the Provincial Health Council report is a desperate need for more family doctors. Communities like Dartmouth and Colechester are suffering. The minister has still not said when this government will address the doctor shortage or how many doctors he envisions coming into the system. My question is, does the minister recognize that there is a crisis in the health care system and that the doctor shortage is hurting Nova Scotian communities?

[Page 7837]

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I certainly recognize that we would like to have more physicians in Nova Scotia, and we are probably as good as anybody in the country in our recruitment efforts.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, in this morning's Health Council briefing, we heard about waiting lists at Nova Scotia hospitals; we heard of one woman in metro, suffering from a concussion, who had to wait for nine hours and was still not seen by a physician; yet, the minister said this morning he feels the report endorses very strongly the direction we are taking. I am not sure if the minister read the same report I read, or how he could come to the conclusion that a report that says the system is in chaos endorses this government's direction. Does the minister admit that this report is a clear indictment of the government's failure to lead on this issue?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, the report is a clear statement of support for the direction and efforts that this government is taking in the health system of this province.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, despite the findings of this report, the Minister of Health continues to bury his head in the sand and pretend there is no real problem here. At the same time, Nova Scotians are frustrated because they feel they are not being listened to by this minister. Does the minister understand how our struggling health care system and shortage of doctors is impacting on the day-to-day lives of Nova Scotians, and when is he going to start listening to their concerns?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I am getting a lot of help from the other side of the House. I guess I want to say that if these people would objectively take a look at the things that our department has done in terms of consultation this past year, and try to take the politics out of health, they would have to say that we have done more in this regard than probably any other government in recent memory. I would also say that we are very aware of the concerns of people, and the issue of the need for health human resources is something that we recognize. I go back and I say, we are competing in a very tight market, and we are as successful as anyone in the country.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

HEALTH - COL. REG. HOSP.: MIN. - LEADERSHIP

DR. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Health. The doctors, staff and nurses at the Colchester Regional Hospital feel that they have been let down by this Minister of Health and that he has broken the promise he made last October. There is a letter here that I would like to table for the benefit of the House, dated October 31st, from that staff to the Minister of Health. I think it is all-telling. I would like to table that.

[Page 7838]

Mr. Speaker, that minister accused the staff and other members of that hospital of not following protocol. They followed protocol; they went through the Medical Management Committee on the issue of safety within the paediatric unit of that hospital. They followed protocol as directed. Now we learn that this has been ignored, because tomorrow is D-day for the nurses on the paediatric unit at the Colchester Regional Hospital. My question to the minister is, will you, Mr. Minister, show some leadership and prevent this illogical and dangerous move to take place in the paediatric unit of Colchester Regional Hospital?

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I say this quite sincerely, I missed one of his operative clauses there, so I was wondering if he could repeat the . . .

MR. SPEAKER: No.

MR. MUIR: I want to tell the honourable member, as he knows, there was some sort of a minor dispute at the hospital, about paediatrics. The issue, to simplify it, is the concern of the physicians, as presented, was that they thought the numbers of staff that were going to be available on the specialized paediatric unit, which was to be reduced from two all around the clock to one, they felt it was unsafe. The recommendation of the board was to go to one because this is consistent with what happens in Bridgewater. It is in Amherst, it is in Kentville, it is in . . .

[3:15 p.m.]

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

The honourable member for Dartmouth East on your first supplementary; question, please.

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, what is failed to be recognized here is the paediatric speciality of nursing and the minister is ignoring this and he is ignoring it in his own riding, in his own area.

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

DR. SMITH: According to the staff, this is because of the business plan that apparently has been accepted by the minister, that less experienced staff . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

DR. SMITH: . . . will be on call at the paediatric unit.

MR. SPEAKER: We have heard this. Question.

[Page 7839]

DR. SMITH: My the question is, how can the minister allow this to happen when he has full knowledge of the representation, not only of doctors but particularly of nurses, on that particular unit, Mr. Speaker?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I thank the honourable member for the question. Two days ago there was a meeting of a group called the Medical Management Committee and they made a recommendation that a third party come in to take a look at the dispute and give an objective opinion. Indeed, that recommendation was accepted by the board. In the interim, the plan will go ahead, but there will still be two qualified paediatric nurses on 24 hours a day. That seemed to be the concern. That will continue during the transition . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member for Dartmouth East on your final supplementary.

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, whether there is mediation or arbitration or whatever on the issue, the recommendation from the Medical Management Committee is pretty clear. Can the minister inform the House, because there seems to be a discrepancy of the understanding of the physicians and the nurses in that hospital and what the minister is saying on the floor of the House here today, what exactly will happen tomorrow, Thursday, with that paediatric nursing unit component? What are the specific changes that are happening? Will there, in fact, be highly trained paediatric nurses who will no longer be present on that ward that are in the . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable Minister of Health. There are about three questions there, if he could answer one.

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, as I had indicated in response to his second question, tomorrow there will be two highly qualified paediatric nurses on that particular unit.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Let's try something here. Let's try asking a question and let's try answering it and see how we get along. (Laughter)

The honourable member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage.

COMMUN. SERV. - SOCIAL ASSIST. RATES:

LOW-INCOME CHILDREN - SURVIVAL

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Premier. Today we heard from women across this province who are telling us that they can't afford to put food on the table for their families. I am going to table here today a document that says that for children between the ages of 13 and 18 years of age, male, it is $220 a month for basic nutritional needs. This government is only going to be providing $133 a month for those children. That is $87 less than they need in order to survive. My question to this Premier is, why is he

[Page 7840]

depriving the poor children of this province of enough food and how are they going to survive let alone succeed?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I would ask the Minister of Community Services to respond to that question.

HON. PETER CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, the member is quite correct. We have introduced an integrated child benefit which is coming into effect in August. It is going to put together the National Child Tax Benefit, the Nova Scotia Child Benefit and by taking it out of welfare, out of that structure, it will help all low-income families. The rate significantly changes from $1,600, to $1,600 per child, so we are making progress in that area.

MR. DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, there are a lot of people in this province who believe that the real agenda here is that this government believes that people are lazy and that is why they are on welfare. Now, today, in his speech at the chamber of commerce, the Premier said the bottom line is, no one who is on welfare and is capable of working should be better off than their neighbour who is struggling sometimes at one or two jobs to make ends meet.

MR. SPEAKER: Question.

MR. DEVEAUX: My question to the Premier is, how dare he and what gives him the right to say that people on welfare are lazy and only willing to stay on welfare and they don't have enough money to survive? (Interruptions)

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

THE PREMIER: The member opposite has never allowed himself to be encumbered by what was really said. What this government is doing is providing people an opportunity to escape welfare. If you think people shouldn't have to work, if you think people shouldn't be given the opportunity to work, that is your opinion. It is not the opinion of this government. It is not the opinion of the majority of Nova Scotians. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. (Applause)

Order, please.

MR. DEVEAUX: The words are quite clear. The Premier in his speech today says people on welfare shouldn't be better off than people who aren't. When people on welfare can't afford to put food on the table, how does this Premier explain to the people of this province that he thinks they are better off on welfare than if they are not?

[Page 7841]

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, what the government is doing, clearly what the Minister of Community Services is providing is an opportunity for those who have been trapped in the welfare system to finally have an avenue of escape and to enter the job market here in Nova Scotia. If you think there is something wrong with that, then that's your prerogative.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

THE PREMIER: I think there's nothing wrong with that.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. (Applause)

The honourable member for Lunenburg West.

HEALTH - WESTERN REG.:

BUDGETS (NURSING HOMES) - STATUS

MR. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Health. Today, the Premier at the chamber of commerce indicated that the problem in health care is blaming the administration and the front-line workers. Well, we all know that the real havoc in the health care system is because of this Minister of Health dragging his feet on making decisions, whether they are business plan decisions for hospitals and former regional health boards that are still not approved. I received a call recently from other health providers who are worried about the delays in that process and the effect it is having on their budget. My question to the minister is, can the minister please inform this House and myself what the status is for the approval of nursing home budgets in the western region?

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I will have to take that question under advisement and get back to the honourable member.

MR. DOWNE: I would say that the Premier in his talk today should have referred to the fact that the inability to manage health care is because of the minister and not the staff. This minister doesn't understand the fact that in the western region, there are boards that do not have a budget passed. It is interesting to learn that Hillside Pines Nursing Home in Bridgewater has been waiting six months for the minister to approve their budget. The nursing home is currently carrying a deficit in excess of $100,000. How does the minister expect nursing homes like Hillside Pines to provide quality care when they basically are using a credit card to buy groceries for the people there?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, this government put significant money into long-term care. There is a process - he well knows, having been a Finance Minister - to follow if one doesn't get a confirmed budget figure. You carry on on last year's budget for a particular period of time.

[Page 7842]

MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, this is ridiculous. The minister doesn't understand his portfolio, or he doesn't know what is going on in the western region when it comes to homes. The Province of Nova Scotia is negotiating a new deal for long-term care workers. The burden of paying for this has been placed squarely on the backs of the nursing homes. How does this minister expect nursing homes like Hillside Pines to cope with the rising cost with no plan, no attention, no deliberation on the budget and with no decisions to go forward on the current budget they have? How does he expect them to manage?

MR. MUIR: I think, Mr. Speaker, that if the honourable member goes back and perhaps takes a more careful look, he may find that the per diem has been adjusted.

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

HEALTH - COL. REG. HOSP.:

PAEDIATRIC CARE - SAFETY ENSURE

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, despite what the Northern Regional Health Board says and despite what the minister says, as of tomorrow seven paediatric nurses at the Colchester Regional Hospital are gone. I want to table a letter that was also tabled earlier, written to the minister, yesterday, from the president of the medical staff and the head of family practice and the only consulting pediatrician which implores him to intervene immediately. The letter states: If you fail to act, minister, you have turned your back on the women and children of central Nova Scotia. This is a safety issue - safety, safety, safety.

I want to ask the minister, are you going to ensure the safety of the patients at the Colchester Regional Hospital and intervene?

HON. JAMES MUIR: I will assure the honourable member that safety is the number one concern and that those patients who are admitted to the Colchester Regional Hospital in the paediatric or obstetrical ward will receive adequate and proper care.

MR. DEXTER: What the minister is trying to do here is to whitewash what is a very serious situation. There is no one else who can say the nurses are going to be off the job tomorrow, there is no one else who can guarantee the safety of the women and children who are patients at that hospital. You are the only person who can do that now, Mr. Minister. I want to ask you, will you stop sending the doctors away, show some leadership and immediately suspend the plan to get rid of the nurses?

MR. MUIR: In listening to his first question in the first supplementary, I have difficulty in understanding what he is talking about, because I answered in response to the member for Dartmouth East that there will be the same two competent nurses, which is the safety level they are talking about. They are going to be there tomorrow. I think he is not concerned about safety at all, I think he is concerned because some people are being moved to different roles.

[Page 7843]

MR. DEXTER: The letter from the doctor states that if the minister does not intervene, not only is he standing on the sideline whilst his promises to the people of Nova Scotia are being systematically broken, he is actually becoming part of the problem.

My question is, when will the minister get off the sideline and show Nova Scotians that their safety is his number one priority?

MR. MUIR: Although I am not surprised, if you don't mind I will try and put this in very simple terms for the honourable member. The safety concern expressed was, there was going to be a reduction in paediatric nurses on a 24 hour basis, basically from two per shift to one. In the transition, until this external review, there is still going to be two. Now, tell me, what is the safety concern?

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

TOURISM - INVERNESS (TOWN): PROFILE - RAISE

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Tourism. The minister will know about the serious economic problems facing the area in and around the former Town of Inverness. Would the minister detail any plans for specifically raising the tourism profile of the former Town of Inverness?

HON. RODNEY MACDONALD: I would like to thank the honourable member for taking a great interest in my own riding. The first most important step Inverness took was electing a Progressive Conservative Government and putting in a Minister of Tourism and Culture. (Applause)

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: I might say that somebody has to look after Inverness because that member certainly is not. There hasn't been a thing done down there since he was elected.

[3:30 p.m.]

My first supplementary, Mr. Speaker. What the Inverness Development Authority is banking their tourism future on is the construction of a golf course complex in that area. The former government supported the project, a project strongly driven by volunteers but, unfortunately, the chair of the golf course project has resigned in frustration with this government and its failure to honour the commitment made by the previous MacLellan Government.

My question to the minister, Mr. Speaker, can the Minister of Economic Development tell this House whether or not his government will support this worthy project?

[Page 7844]

HON. GORDON BALSER: Mr. Speaker, I can assure the member opposite that we entertain many proposals, one of which revolves around the Inverness links, and we have conversations ongoing with that group. When it makes sense for the taxpayers to invest money in a golf course, or any other initiative, we will move in that direction.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, it is obvious to me that the Minister of Tourism has no intentions of going ahead with this project, nor does the Minister of Economic Development have any intentions of proceeding with this project.

My final supplementary is talking about another project. Recently this government chose to sell the Northumberland Links for $1.00 based on a deal from the Buchanan days. Even though the links were doubled from nine holes to 18 holes, the government did not even ask for $2.00 for the project. In light of this government's delay on the Inverness golf course project and, obviously, their lack of interest in doing anything in Inverness County, can the Minister of Economic Development tell us whether or not he thinks Northumberland was a good deal and why Inverness is a bad deal?

MR. BALSER: Mr. Speaker, what made sense for this government was to divest itself of a golf course when the opportunity presented itself. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

The honourable member for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour.

HEALTH - EMC: DISPATCHERS - LBR. DISPUTE

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health. The labour dispute between the dispatchers and the EMC has festered for two years. These dispatchers are essential to the operation of the province's ambulance service. Without them the system grinds to a halt. This minister inherited this mess from the crowd next to me. Will the minister please explain why he has followed the lead of the Liberals and sat on his hands in this matter?

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member would have done well to pay attention to my colleague, the Minister of Labour, yesterday and his very positive statement about the benefits of collective bargaining.

MR. DEXTER: It just gets more and more outrageous, doesn't it? Mr. Speaker, again to the Minister of Health, the dispatchers have fought for a first contract because they are understaffed, underpaid in relation to their counterparts in the field and burning out because of it. Conciliation efforts end next week. In no time at all they will be in a strike position and given the two sides are miles apart, a strike is a very distinct possibility and the situation, in

[Page 7845]

fact, is grave. Will the minister please indicate why he has made no effort, either on his own behalf or through his colleague, the Minister of Labour, to have this matter resolved?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I do agree in part with the honourable member, and I am sorry that this matter has not been resolved more quickly, but I want to assure you it is following an approved collective bargaining process and, as minister, you do not get involved in the collective bargaining process. It is following approved procedures.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, my final supplementary is again to the Minister of Health. The Provincial Health Council describes the health care system in this province as a system in chaos. If the dispatch service ends and patients cannot get to our hospitals, will the minister admit to this House and to Nova Scotians that the chaos has just begun?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, this health care system is not in chaos. There are certain areas which we are trying to improve upon and are working diligently toward that. We would like the support of the other two Parties as we move forward to help the province and take the politics out of it. I am optimistic that the current negotiations will proceed a little bit more quickly and a satisfactory resolution will be forthcoming in a very short period of time.

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

HEALTH: DENTAL SURGICAL IN-HOSPITAL PROG. - IMPACT

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health as well. On August 1st of this year the Department of Health imposed limitations who an oral surgeon can treat under its Dental Surgical In-Hospital Program. I would ask the minister, would he please apprise members of this House as to the impact of these changes on Nova Scotians?

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, it would very helpful if he could specify the changes to which he is referring.

MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, I will table the Dental Surgical In-Hospital Program initiative that was put in place by his department, in the event that the minister hasn't seen his own policy.

When employed by MSI, Dr. Adams, who is the dental consultant, approved payment for many of the oral surgical procedures that he is now rejecting as an employee with the Department of Health. Would the minister please explain why the double standard?

[Page 7846]

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I am not aware that there is a double standard. There is a set of protocols and procedures to be followed, and regulations, and they are being followed. Double standards are something that group would know about, but we are trying to avoid them here.

MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, it is very unfortunate that the minister didn't even know what policy is in place in his own department for this particular issue, so I am not surprised he wouldn't know. Because Dr. Adams is certainly not a specialist in oral surgery, many Nova Scotians are suffering because he is preventing them from receiving this essential oral surgery. There are documented facts to back that up if the minister would be willing to go and check in his own department. My question to the minister is, why is the minister allowing this single-minded action to continue to the detriment of the patients and at the expense of the taxpayers of Nova Scotia?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, in the preparation of our program for the sustainability of the health care system in Nova Scotia, part of that had to do with the oral surgery procedures to which the honourable member is referring. Right now the province will deem as insured services only those oral surgery procedures which are deemed as a medical necessity. If somebody disagrees with the classification, there is an appeal process.

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

SYSCO - DUFERCO: AGREEMENT - SCRAP METAL

MR. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister responsible for the Sydney Steel Corporation Act. This government, and this minister in particular, have so far refused to release the agreement of the sale of Sydney Steel that they have entered with Duferco - I will table this letter after I read a comment from it: This will confirm that I will not follow the recommendation of the review officer to provide access to portions of the agreement of the purchase of sale of the assets of Sydney Steel Corporation for reasons I consider appropriate. That is signed by James Spurr, chief aplogist - oh, excuse me - Chief Clerk of the Executive Council. My question to the minister is, how much truth is there in reports that the inventory of scrap metal worth millions of dollars was simply handed over to Duferco free of charge?

HON. GORDON BALSER: Mr. Speaker, I thank the member opposite for the question. What we have accomplished, that previous governments failed to accomplish, is the privatization of the sale of Sydney Steel to a private sector operator. In the process of moving through this, we were able to ensure that, for the first time in 30 years, Sysco had a positive bank balance and that was because Ernst & Young were able to maximize opportunities around running down inventories and those that remain would be acquired by the purchaser.

[Page 7847]

MR. CORBETT: Now let's talk about a positive bank balance. We have been hearing from people about this sale. I want to ask the minister, will you table documents today, who got the balance, the money, when those rails were sold by Ernst & Young? Who got the money, was it the province or was it Duferco?

MR. BALSER: Mr. Speaker, the monies accrued as a result of sales, when we were moving towards the finalization of the deal, obviously resided with Sysco.

MR. CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, he should speak to his friend, Mr. Harris, over at Ernst & Young, because that is not the story he tells. He says that it went to Duferco. My final supplementary to that minister today is, why won't you release the Duferco deal today, so that Nova Scotians can find out how you did them in, and sell, first of all for Duferco and not for Nova Scotians?

MR. BALSER: Mr. Speaker, when the letter or the request for the release of information was made to Mr. Spurr, it was deemed that we were at a very sensitive time in negotiations. Those details will be made available at an appropriate time.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Richmond.

EDUC. - ACADIANS/FRANCOPHONES:

OPPORTUNITIES - REDUCTION EXPLAIN

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, during a ministerial conference on October 12th in P.E.I., the provincial and territorial governments together with the federal government agreed to strengthen relations with the country's francophone and Acadian communities. Last spring this government cut $1 million in grants to French language education, reduced the grant to the Collège de l'Acadie by $500,000, and abandoned their commitment to build a P to 12 Acadian school in Petit-de-Grat. My question to the Minister of Education is, can the minister explain why she is reducing educational opportunities for Acadians and francophones in Nova Scotia while other provinces are supporting enhanced French language education?

HON. JANE PURVES: Mr. Speaker, one of the differences between Nova Scotia and other provinces is that other provinces have managed to control their deficit and begin working on their debt. That is not the case in Nova Scotia. Francophones are being afforded good educational opportunities in Nova Scotia. We have had to reduce some funds everywhere in our department in order to keep core, solid services for all Nova Scotians, including francophones.

MR. SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, each year money is sent from Ottawa to all provincial governments for French language education. In a recent article in the Bridgewater Bulletin, Margaret Forbes, a member of the South Shore District School Board, admitted that the

[Page 7848]

board is receiving money from the province for French education that is being spent on English programs. My first supplementary to the minister is, can the minister tell us exactly how much money is received from Ottawa per year to be spent towards French language education, and why her department is allowing this to go for other programs?

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, to the best of my knowledge, no monies intended for French language programs is being spent on English language programs. I will have someone contact the school board in the area to find out if that story is in fact true.

MR. SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, my final supplementary. This minister and government have abandoned Acadians throughout Nova Scotia. In fact, the minister and her department are currently being investigated by Heritage Canada for the possible misallocation of federal funding for French language education here in this province. My final supplementary is, how can this minister cut and redirect funding for French language education in light of the growing demand for this service throughout Nova Scotia?

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, Heritage Canada was invited in to audit our books by our own department, in order to clear the air after accusations in this House last year.

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

HEALTH - CROSBIE CTR. (KENTVILLE):

RELOCATION - RECONSIDER

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, the Crosbie Centre in Kentville has done a fine job of providing addiction services to people from across the province for many years.

People there are good at what they do. They offer detox services, out-patient counselling and a 28-day in-patient program all under one roof. There are concerns that the Department of Health plans to scatter those services to various centres throughout the Valley or to even eliminate some services. I want to ask the Minister of Health, will he commit today that the Crosbie Centre will continue to operate out of one building in Kentville and that no services will be cut by the province?

[3:45 p.m.]

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, the real issue that the member is bringing up is that unfortunately the Crosbie Centre is located in a structure which has some serious limitations. The Crosbie Centre, as I will agree with the honourable member, does provide a very good service. I can assure the honourable member that those services will be continued.

[Page 7849]

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, treatment will suffer if the government goes ahead with its plans to separate services offered by the Crosbie Centre. There is no financial justification for closing the Miller Building that houses the centre. And so far, there is no environmental justification for closing it. I want to ask the minister why his government is continuing to push ahead with a plan to jeopardize the services being offered by the Crosbie Centre by scattering the programs throughout the Valley?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, of course, it is not unusual he is speculating about the services provided by the Crosbie Centre, but what I do want to tell the honourable member is that the building is not in good shape. That is the reason we are looking to relocate services.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, I have obtained a letter from the member for Kings North, written to the Premier. In it he tells the Premier current suggestions on where to move the services will embarrass you personally. I want to ask the Premier to explain what possible motivation his government has for moving some of the health care services now offered in the Miller Building to the old Sobeys store in New Minas? (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Nothing was on the record. The honourable Premier.

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

MR. SPEAKER: I would just remind the members that until you are identified your microphone is not on.

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, that question has been answered twice already in the last three minutes. We have a problem with the building down there, and we are going to have to find some new sites for some of the services that are delivered there.

AN HON. MEMBER: Why Sobeys?

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Richmond.

EDUC. - ACADIANS: RICH. CO. - ABANDONMENT EXPLAIN

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, during the summer Richmond County residents watched as this government sent their education system into chaos. On August 18th, a mere three weeks before classes were set to start, this government reneged under a commitment to build a new P to 12 Acadian school in Petit-de-Grat and instead chose to relocate them to a school already promised to the Strait Regional School Board. My question to the Minister of Education, if this minister supports French language education, can she explain today to the members of this House why she and her government have abandoned the Acadians of this province, especially those of Richmond County?

[Page 7850]

HON. JANE PURVES: Mr. Speaker, education is about teaching and about students. It is not about buildings. The Acadian students have a school, they have their own school, and they have it a year sooner than they would have otherwise.

MR. SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, what the Minister of Education left out of that is that education is about rights, and the rights of the Acadian community and the French community to have education in their own language. That minister is trampling on those rights and laughing at them in doing so. Yesterday, my colleague for Cape Breton South questioned the Minister of Education on the delay in building schools in his own riding. The minister stated that her government had re-announced the building of 17 schools across Nova Scotia. L'Ecole Petit-de-Grat was one of those 17 schools.

My first supplementary is, will the Minister of Education explain to students and parents of Richmond County why they are being cheated out of a new school and will she today reverse her decision and commit to the building of a new P to 12 Acadian school in Petit-de-Grat?

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, one of the mistakes this government will not make that the former government did make is build too rich, too many schools under a very expensive system. The students on Isle Madame, the Acadian students, are getting their homogeneous education in their own school building a year sooner than they would have under the previous plan.

MR. SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, the decision by this minister not to build a new P to 12 Acadian school in Petit-de-Grat came 11 months after this government took office and a mere three weeks before classes were to begin. My final supplementary is, will the Minister of Education confirm today that her deputy, Dennis Cochrane, met with high-level Tories in Richmond County prior to the reconfiguration of schools in Richmond County?

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, the member for Richmond has been repeating this allegation over and over in speech and in writing, and it has been denied in writing and it is now being denied on the floor of this House.

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

HEALTH - MILLER BLDG. (KENTVILLE): SHUTDOWN - PLAN

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, I want to go back to the Premier on the issue of transferring health care services to a property owned by Atlantic Shopping Centres. That is the old Sobeys store which now houses Empire Theatres. I want to ask the Premier, what has he done to stop his government's plan to shut down the Miller Building and transfer some health services to a property owned by the Sobeys?

[Page 7851]

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, that is a question for the Minister of Health.

HON. JAMES MUIR: I know that the honourable member is not implying that the Department of Health and, in this case, the Western Regional Health Board and soon to be health authority down there should maintain services in a building which is a little shaky in terms of its inhabitants.

I think you would also understand, Mr. Speaker, that (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour on your first supplementary.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, what I would like to do now, in response to the minister's response, is to table a memo from Mark Parent to the Honourable James Muir, with carbon copies to Mr. Carey and Mr. Morse, in which he explains that there is no justification for closing the Miller Building. Let's be very clear, the Crosbie Centre employees say that their extremely successful addiction services programs will suffer if they are scattered to various centres throughout the Valley.

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

MR. DEXTER: People addicted to alcohol will lose if this government goes ahead with this plan but Sobeys will win. The Premier has known about this since . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

MR. DEXTER: . . . Mr. Parent wrote him in August. Now, I want to ask the Premier, why has he done nothing to ensure that his government acts in a way that is best for the clients?

THE PREMIER: The reason that we are slow to respond over here is we can't hear the questions, there is so much noise.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, the Premier's own MLA says that this matter would embarrass him. But more importantly, Mr. Parent says that transferring these services to places like the Sobeys building would be destructive. I want to ask the Premier, will he commit today that Crosbie Centre and other services in the Miller Building will continue to operate out of Kentville and that no services will be cut or transferred to other areas?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, that is clearly a question for the Minister of Health.

[Page 7852]

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, with regard to the relocation services from there, we have found that we will not have to move the people on the first and second floors as quickly as we had originally thought due to the condition of the building. We will work with the new district health authority to find a suitable headquarters location so that these services can be continued in a satisfactory way.

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

SYSCO - SITE REMEDIATION: FUNDS - PLAN

MR. PAUL MACEWAN: Mr. Speaker, a question through you to the Premier. This morning there was much editorial expression of relief that the government was finally out of the steel business in Sydney, but I can tell you that the responsibilities of this government as regards that site have only just begun. I wonder if the Premier could indicate to the House the intentions of his government with reference to $300 million? I believe that is the amount, it was in that vicinity. It was in the provincial budget this past spring for site remediation and clean-up at the Sydney Steel site in Sydney involving many derelict buildings, some of them enormous - huge - structures that are on the site there and they are not involved in the steelmaking operation that is being transferred to Duferco and they are under the custody of the Nova Scotia Department of Public Works.

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the member for Cape Breton Nova is well aware of the facilities on the site and he has a genuine interest in seeing that there is a remedy and I would refer the question to the Minister of Economic Development.

HON. GORDON BALSER: Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member opposite for the question. We do not want to get ahead of ourselves here in terms of what actually will be the needs of Duferco. The monies have been booked, but in terms of how best to proceed, that remains to be worked out as we move to what will happen in the future around the needs of Duferco and what remains to be remediated.

MR. MACEWAN: Mr. Speaker, clearly the government has given this matter some thought or they would not have included money for it, a large and massive amount of money in their budget for this. We are now approaching the halfway point in the fiscal year. I suggest that we have actually passed it now. Surely the government has some ballpark time parameters in mind as to when they want to get this work underway and what it will involve. The people where I come from are very anxious to find out about this. Could the minister please give us some outline of where he intends to go on this matter.

MR. BALSER: Mr. Speaker, in response to the question, obviously the need to book that money was a result of the Auditor General's concerns around accounting practices that had been in place with the previous government. So we merely booked the money to ensure that it was accounted for.

[Page 7853]

MR. MACEWAN: Mr. Speaker, I do not believe that the unemployed steelworkers at Sydney will accept that as a satisfactory answer at all. In fact, my experience has been that you cannot get a satisfactory answer from that minister. I want to ask my final supplementary to the Minister of Transportation and Public Works because the Minister of Transportation and Public Works is responsible as the custodian of those properties for their environmental condition and he is legally responsible, to my knowledge, for the restoration to greenfields condition. So I wonder if the minister could advise the House when and how he proposes to get under way with those responsibilities.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, as the Minister of Economic Development has just clearly told the member, the money has been booked for some future date and that date has yet to be determined.

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

AGRIC. - FARMERS: ABANDONMENT - REASON

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, I have stood on this side of the House for a year now pointing out that the Progressive Conservatives have failed farmers in this province. The Minister of Agriculture has denied my assertions and, in fact, has tried to claim his government is a friend of the farmer.

Well, Mr. Speaker, don't take my word on this matter, take the word of Kings North MLA, Mark Parent, who in the same letter to the Premier referred to earlier says, "Many farmers in Kings County are not happy with our government and feel that the Ted Ueffing fiasco, the lack of drought relief, and the closure of the production services branch that the Conservative government has turned its back on a traditionally strong industry in the Valley. I ask the Minister of Agriculture to answer the charge of the member sitting behind him, why have you turned your back on farmers?

[4:00 p.m.]

HON. ERNEST FAGE: Mr. Speaker, I thank the member opposite for his question because the member opposite has demonstrated . . .

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

MR. FAGE: . . . challenges that face the agriculture industry, but I can assure the member opposite that this government brought down a budget this spring that put more programs out there for the farming community, not less. (Interruptions) We have the full confidence of the agricultural industry to move forward with alternative service delivery and we have more programs actually out there for the farmers of this province and we have not seen one demonstration in the streets here, only the member opposite pontificating.

[Page 7854]

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, we do know the challenges to the industry, and the biggest challenge is this government. (Applause) This minister announced new funding for drought relief in the Valley but his own caucus colleague writes, "In terms of new funding, we have not produced - in spite of the announcement made by Ernie Fage . . ." Mr. Parent goes on to say, that all you have done is re-announced money already promised by the previous government. To the minister, you haven't fooled anybody, not even Tory MLAs. My question is, when will you start telling farmers the truth and stop trying to trick them? (Interruptions)

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

The honourable Minister of Agriculture.

MR. FAGE: Mr. Speaker, I thank the member opposite for his question, because the member opposite clearly has ignored the entire summer. We signed a new federal agreement that that government, the previous one over there, could not even negotiate. We doubled the amount of money with a new federal agreement going into the farm community here in Nova Scotia; the first time in the history of Nova Scotia since there was a Tory Government here, that there is more money going into agriculture. The member opposite clearly ignored farming, he has no interest for the farming community and would rather play politics with farmers lives than worry about them having . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. (Interruptions) Order, please. It is not even Friday. (Laughter) The honourable member for Hants East on your final supplementary.

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, everyone in this room knows that the minister has failed farmers, and the community knows it as well. Will this minister commit today to stop trying to fool farmers and start acting to find positive solutions, such as funding that never got out to farmers for drought relief?

MR. FAGE: Mr. Speaker, I thank the honourable member for his question, for the opportunity to point out, again, that the first time in the history of this province in 10 years that a new agriculture agreement has been signed with the federal government where the province doubled it's money, where the federal government doubled its money for farmers, for AIDA and drought relief in this province. Obviously the member opposite cares to ignore agreements that are very helpful to the agricultural community and he very well knows, that this government is determined to make agriculture one of the cornerstones of growth in this economy, and we are doing those things now.

[Page 7855]

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

SERV. N.S. & MUN. REL. - GROUNDWATER SUPPLY:

CONTAMINATION PREVENT

MR. BRIAN BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the part-time Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations. Water sample tests on several homes in the Westmount area in Cape Breton County, which is in my constituency, have shown that there is an unacceptable level . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. There is too much noise in the Chamber. You can't hear the speaker. The honourable member for Cape Breton The Lakes has the floor. Start at the first, please.

MR. BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, water sample tests on several homes in the Westmount area of Cape Breton County, which is in my constituency, have shown there is an unacceptable level of faecal coliform bacteria, the type of bacteria that can cause E.coli, in the groundwater in that area. I would like to table a copy of those results. Other communities in Nova Scotia - several I might add, at least five - like Springhill, are dealing with water quality problems. We do not want another Walkerton here, of course. My question is, what is the minister doing to prevent a serious tragedy from happening in Nova Scotia in regard to the groundwater supply?

HON. ANGUS MACISAAC: I want to thank the honourable member for the question, because again it gives us an opportunity to point out to Nova Scotians that we have, in fact, brought in new water regulations in this province as of October 1st. We have also, as a result of that, raised the awareness level, among Nova Scotians, of the responsibility that they have in order to ensure that there is a safe water supply. That responsibility rests in the hands of the municipal units, it rests in the hands of the private operators of the province, and it rests in the hands of individuals. I thank the honourable member for the question, because it is important that all Nova Scotians be aware of the need to monitor the quality of their water.

MR. BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, residents living in these areas are already reporting health problems, particularly in my area. What guarantee can the minister give to families living in these areas that this problem will not become full-blown?

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, I would love to be in a position where I could give ironclad guarantees with respect to quality of life within this province, but the key to ensuring that there is a safe water supply rests in the hands of Nova Scotians to ensure that their water is tested. Of course we have put into place an obligation for people to test their water on a regular basis and we will monitor that situation very carefully. In the meantime I would recommend that the honourable member opposite ensure his constituents that they carry out their responsibilities with respect to testing their water.

[Page 7856]

MR. BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, I might add that the minister is indicating the downloading that is occurring under this present government. Municipal water systems extend to the many areas within these municipalities, particularly in the Westmount area. What is this minister doing to ensure that those pipes are secure and that the municipal supply in these areas are not affected by tainted water? What is he doing?

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, again I want to thank the honourable member for bringing to light a fact that needs to be shared with all Nova Scotians. I would refer him, of course, to his seatmate. If he sought the advice of his seatmate, he would find that it was his seatmate who assigned the responsibility for water testing to the municipal units, and we will ensure that they carry out their responsibilities. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect.

NAT. RES. - BEACHES: PROTECTION - PLANS

MR. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, I would like to move on to Page 2 of the letter from the member for Kings North but unfortunately, I don't have it, so I will have to ask another question of the Minister of Natural Resources. (Interruptions) Maybe he did mention this topic, but let's go on. Mr. Minister, on review of the integrated resource management plan for future use of land across our province, there have been a number of concerns raised by various groups. Among those concerns is the lack of foresight to designate beachfront property as protected pursuant to the Beaches Act; our greatest natural resource, our shorefront properties, are slipping from public control. My question to the minister, what steps is the minister going to take to increase the number of public protected beaches in Nova Scotia?

HON. ERNEST FAGE: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member's question is a good one. I would inform the honourable member that under the Beaches Act public beaches are protected now, but above the high water mark - which I assume is what the member is referring to - certainly under the integrated resource management plan, seascapes, landscapes of significance are designated in many areas under C-2 classification which means that use is held in the highest regard for those properties in the future, and that forms of protection are already afforded them.

MR. ESTABROOKS: Mr. Minister, from a list prepared by your department's staff - and I will table it here now because I know there are members in the backbenches who would love to see this list - there are only 42 protected beaches on Crown land across this province. There is not one protected beach on the shorefront from Terence Bay to Peggy's Cove. A crying shame that on this beautiful stretch of the Lighthouse Route, there is not one single protected beach. Crown land with beachfront access must be a priority, and if it isn't, you

[Page 7857]

should make it a priority. My question to you, can the minister clarify the process for the designation of properties as protected beaches?

MR. FAGE: Mr. Speaker, again to the member opposite, all shorelines and beaches below the high water mark are protected now. What the member refers to is the area above the high water mark and certainly those are of primary concern to the Province of Nova Scotia, and that is why the integrated resource management plan was put forward. This is a blueprint of what actually is out there across the Province of Nova Scotia on Crown lands, what their uses are now and the significant sites that should be protected in the future that will have designations put upon them. This is the process that ensures what the member has raised, the Province of Nova Scotia and I, as minister, have an opportunity to help protect for future generations.

MR. ESTABROOKS: On this topic, Mr. Speaker, that minister's comments are washed away because they are only written in the sand. The tide comes in day in, day out, and our beaches are not being protected. Public access to beaches is not a priority. The staff of the Department of Natural Resources have expressed that concern. The Beaches Act should be reviewed immediately. My question to the minister, are you as minister prepared to put teeth into the Beaches Act before we have no public access to oceanfront properties in Canada's Ocean Playground?

MR. FAGE: Mr. Speaker, I thank the member opposite for his question because it is a vital one to all Nova Scotians, and certainly a huge concern to this government. We are definitely reviewing policies. That is why the IRM plan is there to protect areas for Nova Scotians in future generations. Also, the Department of Natural Resources and Service Nova Scotia Municipal Relations are reviewing sections dealing primarily with beachfront properties. In the coming months we will see action taken in that regard. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

COMMUN. SERV. - FAMILY ASSIST. PROG.: ADVERTISING - COSTS

MR. DAVID WILSON: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister responsible for Communications Nova Scotia. Over the last few weeks we have seen and heard plenty of advertising for the new Family Assistance Program. This very expensive advertising campaign comes from a government that has been crying poverty since it took power. Can the minister tell us how much money has been spent on advertising for the Family Assistance Program?

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I am responsible for Communications Nova Scotia, however, that program was launched by the Minister of Community Services, so I will turn the question over to the minister.

[Page 7858]

[4:15 p.m.]

HON. PETER CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, we undertook advising people of the program so that they could access it. I don't have the numbers of how much that cost, I will prepare to get that for the member.

MR. WILSON: Mr. Speaker, my supplementary is for the Minister of Community Services. There are people on social assistance who are already worried about cuts to their programs and the assistance that they are getting. The turn around time for family assistance applications is two weeks, so we should now have an idea of how successful that costly, but yet unknown, advertising campaign was. Can the minister tell us how many applications have been received and approved for the Family Assistance Program?

MR. CHRISTIE: I do not have the up-to-date numbers, I do have the numbers for the end of September. The numbers were relatively low and that is why we were advertising so people would be aware of the program so they could follow up.

MR. WILSON: Mr. Speaker, the government does not know how much it is costing and they have no idea of how many people are involved. They are spending a lot of money on newspaper and radio advertising - money that should be going to families on social assistance and I say shame on this heartless bunch of Tories. Can the minister please guarantee that people will not suffer cuts in social assistance because of the large amount of public relations money that is being spent trying to make this government appear kind and compassionate?

MR. CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, I can assure the honourable member that the Department of Community Services and this government will be open, we will communicate with people and we will tell them what is available so they can make their choices.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax-Needham.

COMMUN. SERV. - SMALL OPTIONS HOMES (DUFFUS ST., HFX.): CONCERNS - ADDRESS

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Community Services. Yesterday I had started to ask you when we were interrupted at the moment of interruption about a group of residents in my constituency who had raised concerns with you about the operations of a small options home on Duffus Street. They were concerned that the four residents in this home were not receiving adequate care or supervision following several visits to the residence by emergency measure vehicles and the fire department. I want to ask the minister what steps have you taken to address their concerns?

[Page 7859]

HON. PETER CHRISTIE: As I started to say to the honourable member yesterday, the councillor for the area and residents have written to us and we have been working with those people. We have made two visits to the area. Clearly our small options home there are for integrating people back into the community. We have made visits there so that our staff are seeing that the proper supervision is being done.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Well, I spoke with the operator of this home, Randy Carter who said the funding for this home from the minister's department is inadequate to provide round-the-clock care and supervision. I have been told that residents of this home have been going through refuse cans looking for food and that they have been seen upset and disoriented in the neighbourhood. I want to ask the minister, when will he take responsibility for the operation of small options homes?

MR. CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, the small option homes are just simply one of the operations and one of the methods we have for getting people back in the community. We have discussions with those groups as to how they will be implemented and as we have the dialogue we will be working with those people to come up with the options that are best for everybody.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, this has been an ongoing issue of concern to Nova Scotians for some considerable period of time. I understand that sitting in the minister's office is a report by Dr. Kendall on small options homes, that it is finished. I want to ask the minister when are you going to table this report and advise members of this House when proper regulations for standards of care in small options homes will be forthcoming?

MR. CHRISTIE: The honourable member raises a valuable point. The point of Dr. Kendall's report was to look at just the options that we were having and where we would go in the future. We had anticipated having that report in September. As the honourable member knows, Dr. Kendall has had some health problems, and that report is coming to us as soon as it is humanly possible, he will be getting that to us.

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

ECON. DEV. - FUNDING: DECISIONS - CABINET ROLE

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Economic Development. The minister announced that he is significantly reducing the role of the Economic Development Department. It makes me wonder what the minister will be doing at Cabinet meetings, besides daydreaming and running for coffee. At the minister's press conference, the minister announced a lot of changes and he hinted that some decisions to give companies money or payroll rebates may be left in the hands of Cabinet. I would ask

[Page 7860]

the minister, will Cabinet make any such decisions or is Cabinet abdicating all responsibility?

HON. GORDON BALSER: Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member opposite for the question. What we heard through the over 100 public meetings involving sectoral representation, municipal governments and so on was that they wanted the political nature of Economic Development to be changed. We have certainly undertaken to do that. We envision that the Nova Scotia Business Board of Directors will be making the bulk of the decisions on who should receive financial support or program support. However, there may be, in certain instances, the opportunity for Cabinet to review situations that are unusual in nature.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, that answer is exactly what I expected. In other words, the decisions will be made by a board appointed by the government, friends of the government, and instead of going through the necessary functions of the political process, they will just go directly to the board that will be able to make largesse payments directly to their friends.

Mr. Speaker, I am going to turn to the Premier in my first supplementary. We have a Minister of Economic Development who has little or nothing to do, and an underworked Minister of Tourism, and the glaring lack of a minister dedicated to petroleum in this province is not only a disgrace but it fails to recognize the importance of this industry to our future. I would ask the Premier why does he not dedicate a full-time minister to petroleum, in recognition of the importance of this sector to the economy?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, yes, much of the economic future of this province hangs on the ability of this province to continue to cooperate with partners and to develop offshore resources. That is a file that clearly is closely associated with the aims and objectives of Economic Development, that is why the current minister is responsible for the Petroleum Directorate.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, again, the Premier states that that is the responsibility of the Minister of Economic Development. I think that we need a full-time Petroleum Directorate in this province, we need a full-time minister, and we shouldn't treat this department like a third class cousin. This is one of the most important departments in government. My final supplementary to the Premier, the Premier picks a Cabinet and we have some ministers over across there with multiple portfolios, two ministers responsible for very little, and one minister without any portfolio. Will the Premier get his priorities in order and dedicate a ministry to this very important sector of petroleum operations in this province?

[Page 7861]

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, one of the commitments of this government was to provide a smaller government. I am quite satisfied that the performance of all Cabinet members is above standard, and I am particularly pleased with the performance of the Minister of Economic Development responsible for the Petroleum Directorate. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Just a clarification, Question Period will end at 4:28 p.m. not 4:27 p.m.

The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.

EDUC.: A.J. SMELTZER JR. HIGH SCHOOL - REPAIRS

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I would like to direct a question to the Minister of Education. This is as a result of concerns that have been brought to my attention by constituents. Last week, for example, the minister, in response to a question, said that the government had known for some considerable time that a number of the schools had faulty trusses or trusses that were weak. Mr. Speaker, some of those schools are in my constituency of Sackville. But I want to deal specifically with one right now, and that is A.J. Smeltzer School, a school that just opened this fall after being closed for over approximately a year to clean up an oil spill. My question is, why is it that the truss problems that were known were not repaired while the other work was being done?

MISS JANE PURVES: Mr. Speaker, the member is quite right. He brought this up to me last week, and I did look into it. The particular problem at that school, as we know, last year was an oil contamination cleanup. The facilities people did not participate in that cleanup, that was done by the Halifax School Board. The facilities people in my department are now at Transportation and Public Works and will repair the trusses when another renovation project is going on. That way it makes it worth their while to get two or three things done at once. I would like to repeat that as long as snow is cleared from the roofs of some of these buildings, they are not a safety hazard.

MR. HOLM: Mr. Speaker, here we have a situation where one hand doesn't seem to know what the other is doing. That building would have been under considerable stress as it was perched precariously as the soil underneath that building was dug out. That would have put tremendous stress and strain on those trusses. My question to the Minister of Education is what is she doing now to ensure that the department is investigating and make sure those roof trusses haven't been compromised even more?

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, actually he brings up a good point because this situation was certainly known for a number of years. In fact, tenders were drawn up but never issued by the previous government in 1998. However, we are going to be dealing with this problem. Some of the truss problems are something as small as a faulty weld, something that can be

[Page 7862]

fixed for about $400 or $500 worth of work. Some are more extensive. Some have been fixed because we have renovated buildings like Digby High or we are planning to build new schools.

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

OPPOSITION MEMBERS' BUSINESS

MOTIONS OTHER THAN GOVERNMENT MOTIONS

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

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Resolution No. 2918, and I have distributed a list of times to both of the caucuses.

Res. No. 2918, EI - Gov't. (Cdn.): Cuts - Unfair - notice given Oct. 30/00 - (Mr. F. Corbett)

The honourable member for Cape Breton Centre.

MR. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, it gives me pleasure to stand in my place today and say a few words on this resolution. The reason we brought this resolution forward was because it was certainly what we thought to be a way of the federal Liberal Government to try and bribe voters in Atlantic Canada with their own money. One of the things we would like to highlight, before I can go into their inability or their refusal to stay around and enact this bill is to look at the EI fund.

Mr. Speaker, in the EI fund, there was approximately $15 billion. Now, one would think that money and that fund would go to workers who have lost their job or are away from their job through no fault of their own for whatever reason. But no, that is not where that fund went to. Of that fund, over half of that fund went to reduce the government's debt. That was money paid into that fund by the workers of this country and by the employers. That was not tax collected. It was money set aside specifically to help the unemployed. What this government did when it took that money out and put it on their deficit was say, well, look, what a great job we are doing. Yet this was money taken right out of the pockets of workers of this country. So that was a classic example of using taxpayers' money that was meant for a whole other purpose, but used by the federal government to make themselves look good in the eyes of the bankers and say look how we are paying down this deficit. Look what great fellows we are. Look how we are being responsive to the international markets. Well, it is easy when it is somebody else's money.

[Page 7863]

[4:30 p.m.]

But they realized at a point, Mr. Speaker, that they were coming up to a federal election and they realized what had happened to the Party's position in Atlantic Canada. They realized how dependent, because of past government decisions, Atlantic Canadians were on EI. I am sure that if you polled the vast majority of people in this province, indeed in Atlantic Canada, about EI, they would tell you they would just prefer to never, ever have to draw on that fund. They would much prefer to work full time, but that not being the case because many of our industries in this province are resource-based and because of resource-based industries they are seasonal, whether it is farming, fishing, lumbering and so on, it is a seasonal industry. So what this federal government intended to do was to say, look, we have made a mistake here, we are going to try to rectify it, but they tried to eliminate certain things.

Now, Mr. Speaker, most people agree that taking back the clawbacks was a good idea. It was a very good idea, but it begs the question why did the government not stay around to enact it. That is the problem. Why did this government not stay around and enact this bill to protect seasonal workers? Why didn't they? In the race to the polls and this is all this is, what it is, is a carrot on the end of a stick for people to say vote Liberal and we will enact these if we win. I think people will say back to them why did you not stay, stay out your mandate and enact them then? That is the question that government and those groups when they are running will have to answer at the polls.

Mr. Speaker, there are many problems in the EI system and I think it has been highlighted. These are incidents that this bill has not even touched and had the House stayed open, certainly would have been brought to the floor. Some of these revolve around the ability for people to access EI when they have received severance. This is a particular problem in industrial Cape Breton where you will see many former employees of the Cape Breton Development Corporation and many employees of Sydney Steel who will be receiving a severance package. What happens to those severance packages? Many of these people would have hoped to invest them so they can protect themselves as a pension, but there is a restriction there because it is calculated on the amount of money they get and it is portioned out and they cannot receive it for quite some time.

So what happens, Mr. Speaker, when talking to a lot of people who have come in contact with these severances, is that they are forced to live on these severances today. They have no nest egg if you want to call it that. That is, in my opinion, one of the major problems that could have been addressed.

If you see a wholesale shutdown of an industry - it is different if someone is in receipt of a severance package and they are leaving of their own accord and they want to strike out and go to a new venture or something - that is different. When you see a wholesale shut-down of an industry as we have seen throughout the Maritimes, quite a few times in this

[Page 7864]

province, why are workers penalized twice? If the federal House had stayed open and debated these issues I am sure that this would have come to the floor. Why can't these workers be protected? The federal government who, in my own riding have put a lot of these people in that position, certainly could have come in some favour had they responded in such a positive way but they haven't. They instead decided to go to the polls and not enact this legislation. One has to come to no other conclusion on this, Mr. Speaker, but they did it for window dressing, that it is not a priority with this government when they go back.

There are many things that have been sitting on the order paper that the federal government could have passed, not the least of which is stuff like offshore safety regulations which the government decided was not important, it was more important to call an election this year than to protect the offshore workers in this province. We all know how important that industry is to this province. They tried to ferret around and say, that is not our problem, the provinces were not in sync. I disagree, I think the provinces were in sync and were ready to make the appropriate changes. The federal government thought it was more important, more beneficial to their own personal gain, to stay in power than to look after the offshore workers of this province - the health and safety of those workers, one of whom has been killed because of the problem of who has jurisdiction for safety in the offshore workplace.

I would like to say that I hope and indeed I believe that Nova Scotians will not be trapped by the fact that these regulations are there . . .

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member has half a minute.

MR. CORBETT: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. That these regulations and this legislation - that the federal government should have introduced - enacted this legislation and there would be some way that we could have debated it and had a full new Act. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations.

HON. ANGUS MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the honourable member for bringing this resolution forward because it is something with which I have spent considerable time over the period of the past year in particular in representing my colleagues in Atlantic Canada, the Ministers of Labour, in Winnipeg at a national conference and in correspondence with the federal Minister of Labour and as well in correspondence with the former Senator for Nova Scotia, the honourable Bernie Boudreau. I believe it would be of some interest to the House if I were able to go over some of those developments.

First of all I want to read into the record, Mr. Speaker, a letter dated February 23rd and I believe our conference in Winnipeg was February 6th so this letter was shortly after and I will hopefully provide some detail here in terms of how things evolved. At any rate, this

[Page 7865]

letter is dated February 23, 2000, and it is addressed to the Honourable Jane Stewart, PC MP, Minister of Human Resource, Development Canada.

"Dear Colleague: Recently, I had the opportunity of co-hosting a Ministers of Labour Meeting in Winnipeg, Manitoba on February 3-4, 2000. One of the items discussed on our agenda was the issue of family-friendly policies in the workplace. During the course of the discussion on this item, the Honourable Angus MacIsaac, Minister of Labour for Nova Scotia," - yours truly, Mr. Speaker - "raised the matter of Employment Insurance reform, and, specifically, the possible impact of reduced eligibility, level and duration of benefits with respect to family-friendly policies. In particular, Minister MacIsaac indicated that tighter eligibility and lower benefits will prevent a number of people from accessing the proposed extended parental benefits. Most of the Ministers present expressed support for the points raised by Minister MacIsaac.

At the meeting, I indicated to Minister MacIsaac that I would apprise you of his comments. Attached is a copy of Minister MacIsaac's talking points. I am sure that these will be of interest to you. Sincerely, Claudette Bradshaw" Minister of Labour for Canada.

Mr. Speaker, I will table that along with my own comments; I think they are relative to this debate today and, if I might, I would read them into the record as well.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Honourable member, Beauchesne does clearly reference extensive reading and reading of material. It is certainly okay to reference from time to time, but reading the whole text, it has been the precedent in the House not to do that. You would certainly be more than welcome to table the documentation, honourable member. I would ask you to, if you want, table the documents. You can use them as reference material during the course of this debate. It is certainly your call.

MR. MACISAAC: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, for your comments and your guidance. Certainly it is not my intent to read all of these verbatim, but I will use them with your permission, sir, as copious notes, and I will table them.

Mr. Speaker, when in Winnipeg, I said the Atlantic Provinces have issues regarding employment insurance that must be addressed in the context of this new policy. These include - and I will briefly go over them here - the reduction of EI funds to the provinces, reduction in benefits, duration and numbers of people eligible for benefits and unmet needs, such as those people who do not qualify for EI or for active measures under Part II of the EI Act. As I said earlier, those comments were well received by my colleagues from across Canada.

The other point we should make is that these issues were raised by the First Ministers at Quebec City prior to our meeting in Winnipeg. So you have the First Ministers raising the issue in Quebec City and the Ministers of Labour raising the issue in Winnipeg. Some of the

[Page 7866]

points - and I won't, as I said, read everything here - we raised are worth sharing with the record. These changes have particularly affected our seasonal workforce, access to training of people who are not eligible for EI, and women. Those three groups were part of the thrust we wanted to address in our meetings in Winnipeg. Aside from those three issues, there are other issues of course with respect to low-income Canadians, issues raised by the honourable member for Cape Breton Centre this afternoon, which are important issues for people of Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I believe - and this is the point we made in Winnipeg - our EI program must reflect support for the seasonal workers and it should be viewed as an investment in the workforce. It is of vital importance to the working poor in Atlantic Canada. All stakeholders in this issue should be heard as part of a consultation process, to ensure the maximum benefit is achieved for children across all income classes of our society.

Those were the notes I used in Winnipeg, and I will be happy to table those along with the letters that I am going to reference this afternoon. That now brings me to the third letter.

[4:45 p.m.]

I just want to remind members of the House of the sequence of events here. We have the First Ministers raising this issue in Quebec City and we have the Ministers of Labour from across Canada raising the issue and receiving reasonably unanimous support. Some ministers did not comment, but there was certainly no objection to what we said. As Minister Bradshaw said in her letter, there was widespread support for the comments that we made.

The opportunity to deal with this by the federal government presented itself in the budget which they brought forward in February 2000. There was no reference to that in the federal budget, there was no reference as the proceedings of the House of Commons went through the spring and approached summer. I felt it appropriate to again raise the issue with the federal government and I did so on June 7, 2000.

I want to read into the record this letter. It is addressed to the Honourable Bernard J. Boudreau, QC, The Senate, Room 279-S, Centre Block, Parliament Buildings, Ottawa, Canada, K1A 0A4. There is no need for me to read that into the record anymore because if you write to him there, he is no longer there. At any rate, the letter reads:

"Dear Senator Boudreau:

During a federal/provincial meeting of Labour Ministers in February of this year, I spoke on behalf of the Atlantic Ministers of Labour, regarding the impact of changes to Employment Insurance on Atlantic Canada. I am pleased to advise that our position was endorsed by all provincial Ministers.

[Page 7867]

I am enclosing a copy of a letter Minister Bradshaw wrote to the Minister of Human Resources Development Canada, Honourable Jane Stewart, as well as my speaking notes, in relation to this matter.

In its last budget, the Government of Canada decided to move forward with extending Employment Insurance benefits for up to one year for parental leave. It is our belief that this is fine for those who are able to access E.I. in the first instance. However, it is our opinion that access to this benefit must be more open to individuals where work is only available on a part time or seasonal basis.

I would appreciate your assistance in in advancing our proposal with Honourable Jane Stewart and your federal colleagues.

Your consideration is greatly appreciated."

It is signed by myself. This would be an appropriate time for me to table these documents, so if I could have a Page for the pages.

How am I doing for time, Mr. Speaker?

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member has a little less than two minutes.

MR. MACISAAC: Oh, Mr. Speaker, that is the case. Now, I just want to point out to members that I did not receive a response to that last letter; no acknowledgement of any kind - June 7th.

Subsequent to that, the next thing I heard about EI benefits was a quote from the Prime Minister of this country saying, what if we throw a bit of EI in Atlantic Canada, we will pick up a few seats there.

Well, then they come forward. The honourable members opposite are reading documents and not listening. I don't blame them. I don't think they are reading the letters I sent over either.

Then they tabled changes to EI on the eve of a federal election. For them to have been dealing with this from February 2000 and to come to the eve of a federal election in October 2000 and have done nothing about it indicates the lack of sincerity, the lack of intention and their determination to again try to pull the wool over the eyes of Atlantic Canadians.

That is what is going on in this election. We cannot believe - at least the Canadian Alliance has the decency to tell Atlantic Canadians what they intend to do. This crowd over here has no intention of proceeding with EI changes. They tabled them, they could have done

[Page 7868]

it and they had the opportunity, they gave up that opportunity and now they are here trying to pull the wool over the eyes of Atlantic Canadians.

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you honourable member. I will add this time onto the time of the honourable member for Richmond. I would like to advise all honourable members that Beauschesne states that while it has frequently been ruled that in addressing the House a member must not read from a written previously prepared speech, members have traditionally been allowed to make use of extensive notes. Just for future reference, I would caution all honourable members, and if, in fact, like the honourable minister just did, you do read from a letter, you are required to table the letter.

The honourable member for Richmond.

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, I would also suggest, with your wise comments to the minister about Beauchesne, you may want to suggest to him maybe a little lesson in humility would not hurt him at all. In my two years, I think that is the greatest display of honking your own horn I have ever seen. Anyway, we will let his voters determine his humility, I guess.

Mr. Speaker, it is a privilege to stand and speak on Resolution No. 2918. I listened to comments from the member for Cape Breton Centre. When I saw this resolution coming forward here today, I think this is really the point where we can say that the New Democratic Party has reached the bottom of the barrel. When we see an Opposition Party in the Province of Nova Scotia coming forward today on their Opposition Day, when an opportunity to bring forward an issue that we can deal with here, we can debate here, and hopefully actually find a solution here - what do we see? They bring in EI, clearly a federal jurisdiction, something over which members of this House do not have any control.

I figured as a minimum he is at least going to come here and ask us for our support as a whole province to bring this forward. We didn't even get that. All we heard was NDP propaganda, an attempt again for the member for Cape Breton Centre to raise the sagging fortunes and the sagging legacy that the two NDP MPs have left in Cape Breton. That is what we were treated to.

Mr. Speaker, that is unfortunate, because when I did see this resolution, I had been led to believe, by the member for Halifax Chebucto, that a different resolution would be debated here today. I recall, when he read it, he said, I am not going to ask for waiver because I am going to debate this Wednesday. He huffed and he puffed, and obviously that is all it was, huff and puff. Unfortunately, it would have been interesting to be able to debate that resolution here today and share some of the most interesting information which our caucus has received and which we continue to receive. Hopefully, maybe another day the member for Halifax Chebucto will stick to his word.

[Page 7869]

Mr. Speaker, on this resolution, again, the NDP could have come forward and said, we are going to debate health care, education, home heating oil, doctor shortage, economic development, issues which we can actually make a difference on here in this House. Instead, we don't get any of that, all we get is this talk about employment insurance. I wanted to talk a bit about that, because that kind of fits into one of the topics I discussed earlier on in the session. I already referred members to, and I have extra copies here for anyone who would like one - Mr. Speaker, I can forward one to you - a little handout that we have here. It was interesting in the resolution, it actually says, "Whereas Jean Chretien indicated in August and early September that a November general election was likely;"

Obviously the member is saying that the New Democratic Party was aware that this was coming. So what do we get last Thursday, down in Richmond County? We receive a mail-out from our good Member of Parliament, paid for by taxpayers' dollars, I should say, which refers in the first line, as I write this message, there is much speculation about an early federal election call by the Prime Minister. So, she knew an election was coming. She sent this out on taxpayers' dollars. In fact, on Page 3 it says, Exercise your right to vote; a full page dedicated to telling people how to vote in her particular riding. It goes on to say the NDP priorities, an NDP Opposition puts focus on health and, even better, a full page saying, unemployment insurance making the government listen.

Mr. Speaker, one of the interesting things here, in talking about taxpayers' dollars, is this is just another sign of what kind of respect Michelle Dockrill and the New Democratic Party have for the Acadian and French populations in her own riding. To think that taxpayers' dollars were used, from Ottawa, to send a mail-out to Bras d'Or, Cape Breton, with the communities of Cheticamp, Petit-de-Grat, Louisdale, Riviere Bourgeois, St. Pierre, all of those communities, and she sends this out unilingual on our taxpayers' dollars. It is a disgrace. On November 27th, the Acadian and French communities of Bras d'Or-Cape Breton will remind Ms. Dockrill of what they think of her little fly-outs that she sends at taxpayers' expense. It gets even better.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

HON. ANGUS MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order, since you earlier today referenced Beauchesne and the Rules of the House, I thought it might be appropriate to draw to your attention, sir, and to the members of the House that the reference to a bilingual document about when an election was going to be called is hardly relevant to the subject of employment insurance.

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

MR. SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, that comment is just pathetic, but anyway, as I was going on, the big comment here, this resolution which came forward, I want to refer to a couple of paragraphs here. The NDP Party has said they are the big Party on employment

[Page 7870]

insurance. They have made this their warring cry. They have been fighting for this. This is the Party that has said this, remember, all the members over here, the clowns to the left of me, they have all claimed that they have been fighting for this as their MPs. So here is what we have from Michelle Dockrill.

It says, employment insurance has been one of my battle cries ever since I was elected in 1997. I have always worked hard to respond to the expectations of my constituents. That is certainly debatable, but it goes on, and says, if I had not been so persistent the government would certainly never have chosen to re-evaluate the employment insurance program.

So, Mr. Speaker, unfortunately, after hearing the Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations say that it was all of his letters, unfortunately, even he must be disappointed to learn that it is our own MP, Michelle Dockrill, responsible for what the Liberals changed. Yes, not Alexa McDonough, not the NDP caucus, not Peter Mancini, not the Leader in the House of the NDP, whatever they call him, not him, not the member for Cape Breton Centre - Michelle Dockrill responsible for all of this.

Mr. Speaker, I recall in the last election and to tell you how effective the NDP has been on dealing with employment insurance, I remember a certain lady from New Brunswick, a fish plant worker, an advocate for employment insurance, I think her name was Angela Vautour, elected on the issue of employment insurance and she said, it is the NDP Party that fights hardest for employment insurance. We are the ones who represent the workers. We are the ones who are going to make these Liberals change.

But guess what, Mr. Speaker, they were doing such a great job and she took off way out in the broom closet or something, wherever they keep them these days, she joined the Tory Party. Imagine. Things were going so bad in the NDP caucus that she was even willing to go with the Party of Joe Clarke. That tells you right there what kind of effort the NDP have made but, again, it goes to show you we are here as provincial members, we are here to deal with provincial issues. We see the NDP coming in here today bringing in a federal issue which clearly we cannot change. I will take the opportunity to commend the Minister of Labour for his representations as the minister, clearly it was his position and he has clearly indicated that he has done so and I do appreciate his comments and that is good to see but, again, today was an opportunity on Opposition Day to discuss issues that we could make a difference on, that we could actually try to debate, change government direction, and we see the quality.

In fact, to show you the confusion, the member for Cape Breton Centre and this debate meant so much to him, it meant so much that he is just listening extremely attentively to me right now as I speak and there is just this imaginary person in the seat but anyway, Mr. Speaker, he went on to say that the federal government should have brought this bill earlier "so we could have debated it".

[Page 7871]

Mr. Speaker, I do not know which House he is in. There is complete confusion. He thinks he is up in Ottawa. So we see exactly, again as I started off with, the NDP have hit the bottom of the barrel. On November 27th the good people of Cape Breton will reward the NDP for their great representation by giving them an unceremonious boot.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member has one minute.

MR. SAMSON: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Just to finish off, I really had no intentions of speaking about the government, but I just cannot help it. When I listen to the Minister of Labour, he himself having been a former member of this House some time ago, and having watched his Party and the Government of John Buchanan, to argue or to criticize Jean Chretien and the Liberal Party for saying something and not doing it or for not bringing in legislation or making changes when they said they would, look at your colleague ahead of you on the Highway No. 101 isssue, look at the whole history of your Tory Party. All I have to say is, shame on you.

[5:00 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: Before I recognize the honourable member for Halifax Needham, perhaps for the edification of all honourable members, Beauchesne, when speaking to relevance, clearly states on Page 136, that, "Relevance is not easy to define. In borderline cases the Members should be given the benefit of the doubt . . .", and consequently, this is essentially what I did, but I do appreciate the point of order and it was well taken, although it was not a point.

The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, it is quite interesting to follow the last honourable member who talks about the NDP huffing and puffing, especially the puffing part. I think the puffing part is something that the honourable member knows a lot about, having observed him in this Legislature from time to time.

Mr. Speaker, this is a serious issue, and it needs to be treated as a serious issue, because people in Atlantic Canada, and people in our constituencies have been hurt. They have been profoundly hurt by cuts to employment insurance. Let me tell you, the people who have been most hurt are women. This group has been hit harder than any other group by the cuts in employment insurance, and I would certainly like to thank the Minister of Labour for his intervention on behalf of people in this province with respect to concerns he shared with us in the correspondence he had with the Liberal Party representative in the federal Cabinet. It is too bad that members on this side of the House in the Liberal caucus could not take their responsibilities as seriously as the Minister of Labour has taken with respect to people who have been hurt by these cuts.

[Page 7872]

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. I take serious offence at the comment made by the member for Halifax Needham that this caucus has not done anything on the issue of employment insurance. It is quite clear that all of the members have corresponded with the federal government, have made our views clear . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. That is clearly not a point of order. The honourable member for Halifax Needham has the floor.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I believe the honourable member had his opportunity to address this topic, and I believe that the floor is mine.

I would like to talk briefly about the way in which women have been affected by the changes to employment insurance and what needs to be done to correct this. Employment insurance is a program that was really constructed around the idea of a male breadwinner. That is no longer the case. Now, almost all women in our province, many women, a large number of women, the majority of women in the province, participate in the labour force.

However, women don't participate in the labour force the same way as men participate in the labour force. They are more likely to be employed on a part-time basis. They are more likely to be in and out of the labour force more often because of family responsibilities. They are more likely to be in and out of the labour force because of having children.

Employment insurance needed to change to recognize that reality for female workers, but it did not do that. In fact, the changes that were introduced by the Liberal Government exacerbated the relationship that women have in the labour force by penalizing them, by requiring that women had to have many more hours of work accrued in a year to qualify for benefits without any interruption in their employment from year to year. Increasingly the number of women who can even qualify for employment insurance benefits has dropped tremendously, quite dramatically. Today, I believe, less than 30 per cent of all working women who become unemployed will qualify for employment insurance. This is a very shocking statistic. The changes in employment insurance reduced the number of unemployed workers generally who could qualify for employment insurance, something like 37 per cent, but for women it is significantly lower than that.

This is a situation that has meant that women have not been able to be eligible for employment insurance; in many cases they are not eligible for social assistance and increasingly we know, the evidence is there, that female household earnings are an important part of the overall family earning. Women work because they have to contribute to the standard of living in the family and to have some income security, particularly when you are paying into it. Just because they are in and out of the labour force more often than men, does not mean that they have not been actively contributing and paying into the employment insurance system, they have been, but they are penalized because of their work patterns.

[Page 7873]

Mr. Speaker, $34 billion has accrued, has built up in the EI surplus. It is an unbelievable amount of money that has built up in the EI surplus. This surplus is being used now to reduce our debt and our deficit. This is something I think we really should be questioning here in this province. Is that a proper use of the EI surplus? The EI surplus has been generated from the premiums, from the payments of unemployed workers and of employers, of people who are in the labour force and yet more and more people are being denied benefits. They are being denied what they really have contributed to.

It could be argued that EI is no longer the kind of insurance program it should be in terms of protecting people when they are unable to work, when they are laid off, when the work that they have had is seasonal, it is temporary, it is part-time. This is another reason why we should have seen the federal government put through these changes in time for them to have a real impact. I think the fact that they did not, that they announced that they were going to do this at the eleventh hour before a federal election and created the perception that they were going to address the very real concerns that people had been raising - the Minister of Labour had been raising; Michelle Dockerill, the Member of Parliament for Bras d'Or, Cape Breton, had been raising; the members of the NDP Caucus have been fighting and raising at the federal level throughout the years for changes - this is really a big deception for people in this province. Many believe these changes have actually taken effect and they need to be aware that in fact they were tricked, they were deceived, they were misled by the federal government into believing that they were going to address . . .

MR SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member should know that the terminology and the words deceived and misled are most unparliamentary. I won't ask the member to withdraw them because she is referring to somebody else that allegedly deceived somebody else, but I would ask her if she would refrain perhaps from using that type of language in the House.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: I would never suggest that any member of this House and this government would ever mislead any member of the Opposition. I know that never happens. But, I think when we look at the federal government, we would be well advised to be quite cynical about quite a bit of what the federal government has had to say. So, I take your point, Mr. Speaker, about the need to maintain a particular level of decorum in the parliamentary process.

The other thing that the proposed changes have led people to believe was going to happen that now will not be happening is that the amount of money people would receive when they were in receipt of benefits would change. Particularly for repeat users, for people who were on EI more than once in a certain period of time, their benefits would be reduced. They would be penalized for having been on EI the year before. This was a situation and is a situation that . . .

[Page 7874]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. That does conclude debate on Resolution No. 2918. Thank you honourable members.

The honourable New Democratic Party House Leader.

MR. JOHN HOLM: Thank you for calling it, Mr. Speaker, and to comment that we heard such wise words from the previous speaker.

Mr. Speaker, would you please call Resolution No. 2809.

Res. No. 2809, Health - Cuts: Re-Examine - notice given Oct. 26/00 - (Mr. D. Dexter)

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

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, as you know, this resolution has as its operative clause, "Therefore be it resolved that the Premier and the Minister of Health re-examine their cuts to our health care system and try to bring their thinking in line with Nova Scotians who want more spent on health care."

Well, I think the appropriate starting point with this is to examine what, in fact, has happened in health care spending over the last number of years because, although I believe that the provincial government carries a great deal of the blame with respect to their failure to address the health care and health care funding adequately, we have to accept the fact that social spending cuts by the federal government had been consistently reduced from levels of 1993.

Just to give you an example, Mr. Speaker, in 1994 the reduction from the federal government was some $30 million, in 1995 it was $48 million, in 1996 it was $131 million, in 1997 it was $228 million, in 1999 it was $139 million and in the year 2000 it is $144 million that has been stripped out by the federal government. Over the last seven years, the federal government has taken $1 billion, a cumulative loss to this province of $1 billion that could have been spent in health and education. Now, that is the responsibility that lay with the federal Liberal Government.

This morning I was struck. There was a commentary on CBC, and the commentator said, you know, everybody wants to talk about how we go about spending the surplus. Then he pointed out that a surplus is something that accrues after you have met all of your basic needs. After you have met all of the needs of your community you then have a surplus. He pointed out, and I think rightly, that the needs of our community, whether it is in this province or across the country, have not been met in the areas of health spending. Therefore, far from having a surplus, there is in fact a deficit. He likened it, and I thought this was an excellent analogy, he said taking away from the needs of your community and then claiming you have a surplus is like refusing to feed your children so you can invest in an RRSP. It

[Page 7875]

defies logic. It makes no sense. That is why we say over and over again that part of the responsibility with respect to health spending lies with the federal government.

Now, they don't deserve all the blame. The reality is that just recently, myself and the Leader of the New Democratic Party here in Nova Scotia held a press conference in which we tabled for the edification of all Nova Scotians the Canadian Institute for Health Information estimates indicating exactly where Nova Scotia stood in relation to health care spending. I think it comes as no surprise that in current dollars, we rank last in the province in health care spending. Last per capita. We spend less on health care spending in this province than any other province in the country, and yet the Premier of this province took it upon himself to go off to Ottawa, to try to negotiate additional funds for health care, and he took with him another study, done right here in the Province of Nova Scotia, showing that the needs of the health care consumers are much higher than most if not all other provinces in the country.

[5:15 p.m.]

This is an incongruity. We have the lowest health care spending and we have the highest need. Now, the government knows this, they acknowledge it, but they refuse to do anything about it. There is a clear and obvious answer, which is that you need to be able to provide the services to the people of your communities, when they need it, where they need it. They knew it during the election campaign, but sometime between the close of polls, on that dark day in July, and the time when the government was sworn in, they forgot about it or they deliberately ignore the commitments they made to Nova Scotians.

I think it is interesting, because I watched the federal Liberals say about Stockwell Day and the Alliance, they say, you know, they will do away with national standards for health care, that is what they are going to do, that is their intention. The health agreement that was entered into between this province and the Liberal Government says, in fact, the purpose of performance measurement is for all governments to be accountable to their public, not to each other. They have no intention of maintaining national standards. The federal Liberals are doing exactly what they are warning Canadians that the Reform Alliance is going to do. They are doing exactly the same thing, and that is why they can't be trusted.

Mr. Speaker, I want to make sure I have lots of time to do this, I believe I had 10 minutes, so I still have another 3 or 4 minutes.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member has until 5:23 p.m.

MR. DEXTER: There is plenty that can be done in this country. Canada can be a better place. Canada can do better. Nova Scotia can do better. How do you do that, the first thing you do is you increase the federal funding for Medicare. If it were that the New Democratic Party were to form the government in this country, I can tell you that we would rebuild health

[Page 7876]

care to meet the needs of all Canadians, all Nova Scotians. The reality is that we have committed ourselves, and there is more than one way to get a lever of power. The NDP has committed itself (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. My goodness, there is an awful din in here.

MR. DEXTER: That is because the members opposite know and why they fear the truth because they know that the NDP would immediately increase federal cash transfers for health care to 25 per cent of the shared public health spending from a low of 13.5 per cent that is presently the level that is acceptable to the Liberal Government.

We will index federal support to growth and populations - something the Minister of Health talked about earlier on - and also to the economy to account for demographic factors. This is a forward-looking policy about what can be done to make the health care system responsive to the needs of the people of this province. This is exactly - do we hear, no, we hardly ever hear of the federal Conservatives, but do we ever hear anything on health policy from them? Of course not, because they don't care.

The other thing that we would do is we would halt the drift toward privatization and two-tier health care by legislation preventing public health dollars from funded private-for-profit hospitals like the Tories have done in the Province of Alberta with Bill No. 11 and shame on them. Shame on them.

When Stockwell Day was the Treasurer of the Alberta Government, that is what he did and that is what he is carrying over into the election campaign that we see unfolding before us today. So the Liberals and the Canadian Alliance with respect to health policy that will dramatically affect the Province of Nova Scotia are exactly the same boat. Neither of them stand up for the number one issue that people are saying across the country - the number one issue on peoples' minds - proper health care.

We know that there is a better way.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member has one minute.

MR. DEXTER: We have said that we will create a national home care plan under the Canada Health Act to support families, to care for their loved ones. We will introduce a national Pharmacare Program which will be of great assistance to the people of this province considering what it is that the Minister of Health has done with the Pharmacare Program here.

[Page 7877]

The reality is we are saying, throughout this province and throughout the country, that we know that Canada deserves, Nova Scotians deserve a proper health care plan that responds to their needs. We know that Canada can do better and we know that it has been the federal Liberals and the provincial Conservatives that are stifling and harming the health care system.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member's time has expired. Thank you.

The honourable Minister of Health.

HON. JAMES MUIR: It gives me great pleasure to rise today and respond to this resolution. I must say in starting off that in the portion of the honourable member for Cole Harbour's comments that I heard, I would have sworn he was running for federal politics and was making a campaign speech for the metro audience on behalf of the NDP candidates in here.

I would say and I would hope . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I would just comment because the honourable the Minister of Health did suggest that it seemed that the honourable member for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour might be running federally, relevance is terribly difficult to define, honourable member. You certainly do have the floor.

MR. MUIR: To suggest, Mr. Speaker, this is one of the - what he has just illustrated is one of the real problems that we have in health in Nova Scotia is that too frequently, health decisions have not been based on evidence as much as they have been on political expediency and I know clearly the person that will speak, he knows that too and actually, I have examples of that in my department that happened under his direction.

It is very interesting to examine - and I should say, Mr. Speaker, that I will be sharing my time with the honourable member for Sackville-Beaver Bank. Some of the data released and cited by the honourable colleagues on the opposite side of the House last week, where they fell into a bit of difficulty was implying that there was a direct correlation between health expenditures and outcomes. I think most of you saw the editorial piece in the most recent Maclean's Magazine. I know the honourable members representing the New Democratic Party did because there was a New Democratic Party Government in Saskatchewan and the information referred specifically to that (Interruption.) Still is? They are very much like Tories, they act like Tories, don't be concerned about the names. The essence of it was that they had gone and closed a number of health care facilities in Saskatchewan, I think about 55, and what they discovered was the communities - believe it or not - that were the healthiest were the ones that no longer had the hospitals. That was a very interesting thing. I took it to mean that it supports what we are trying to do here, and that

[Page 7878]

is to put a great deal of emphasis on taking responsibility for your own health; in other words, living a good life, being conscious of diet and exercise and all of these things.

There are some statistics, just common facts, that say that your health is about 80 per cent of what you do. The heath care system contributes to about 5 per cent of your health and the rest of it is tossed in for heredity. If you have some things in your background that would make you believe that you might be susceptible at some time to some medical condition, then you should take immediate steps to do the things that will prevent that condition from occurring, such as diet and exercise - and I would just like to toss in stopping smoking. I would like to have a commitment from the people in this House that do smoke that they would cease.

I want to say that I do know that, notwithstanding those comments, if we don't have a certain amount of money it is not possible to have quality health care. In our case what we are trying to do is to use the money effectively. We are trying to move money away from the acute care sector into primary care programs and public health programs, two areas where Nova Scotians have made it very clear they want health dollars spent. It was interesting today during Question Period, Mr. Speaker, that both Opposition Parties made reference to the findings of the Provincial Health Council in their recent tour around the province. These were two of the findings, that they want the money diverted from acute care where possible into primary care programs and into public health programs that will emphasize a good deal more of prevention rather than cure. We know, and they would agree, I have heard them say this, that when resources are scarce there is an absolute necessity to find the right amount of money to spend on the acute care sector, to spend on the long-term-care sector, to spend on community-based programs. This is where we are going.

It is very clear that preventable chronic illnesses in Nova Scotia are causing a very serious strain on our health care system and simply spending more money to fix them is not going to solve the problem. Our direction for the health care system is not only prudent from a fiscal perspective, it is very prudent from a health perspective and that is supported by the Provincial Health Council.

We have stated on several occasions that the health care system, as we inherited it from the previous administration, was not sustainable, given the pattern in which they had taken it. We decided very quickly that we had to manage the health care system and the dollars very carefully and wisely if we were going to make a difference. That is the focus of this Department of Health, of this government. Although we need more money and we will continue - and I am pleased to see that the honourable member from the other side of the House is supporting our position that the federal government should become a fuller partner in health funding in this province, but given the situation we have, we are taking the steps, Mr. Speaker, that are necessary to make it work. Thank you.

[Page 7879]

[5:30 p.m.]

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

MR. BARRY BARNET: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to participate in this debate tonight, and I want to share with members of this House a recent phone call I received about two or three weeks ago. On a Sunday afternoon, I had the privilege to receive a phone call from a pollster. About five minutes into the question and answer session that they provided, there was a fairly long and detailed segment concerning health care. It was clearly evident to me that it was something that obviously the federal government had sponsored and paid for. The questions were worded in a way that would favour the position of the federal government's initiative for health care.

The disturbing portion of this was the fact that the pollster, in my opinion, clearly was trying to lead Nova Scotians and Canadians into a direction that would support what the government did. One of the questions he asked me, Mr. Speaker, was, do you support the federal government's initiative in restoring funds to health care. I quickly pointed out to him the fact that if you take away 50 and you add 20, you are still 30 short, and that is an unfair question. You can't ask Nova Scotians and Canadians whether they support that when, in fact, they don't, when it is not correct, and it is unfair to ask them a question like that.

Mr. Speaker, what was equally disturbing was the fact that he went on to ask me whether I had witnessed or seen on television an ad campaign that the federal government had paid for to try to promote its plan on resolving health care issues. At that point in time I didn't. But what I said to the pollster, his questions were, do you support or have you seen the ad campaign, and I said no, and he said, well, if you had said yes, I would have been able to reply by saying that it was a good ad or somewhat good or not good at all. In fact, what I said to the pollster, and I asked him to write this down, is that it is my belief and opinion that the people of Nova Scotia would sooner see, and Canada for that matter, the money that they spend on ads and on polls spent on health care. I am not quite sure how much money that cost, but I know that since that time, I must have seen that ad (Interruption) $8 million I am being told. But I can tell you that since that time I have seen that ad placed on television probably five or ten times, and I don't watch television much.

I will tell you this, Mr. Speaker, I don't think there is a person on this side of the House or even that side of the House who thinks that was well-spent money. We believe on this side of the House that the money the federal government has taken away from Nova Scotians and Canadians on health and social transfer for health care should be restored and it should be restored to the full amount that they were partners in in the first place.

One final point - I know I have 30 seconds left, but one final point. There was some discussion here about the commitment of the NDP and the commitment of the Liberals with respect to health care funding. I want to inform members of this House that I don't believe

[Page 7880]

there is a single Nova Scotian who believes any NDP member has done a blessed thing for health care in this province, federally, Mr. Speaker, and I further don't believe that anybody in this province believes that it is a good thing when you take away 50 and add 20 that you are still short 30.

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

The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

DR. JAMES SMITH: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, for the opportunity to join in on the debate on Resolution No. 2809. We have had a bit of variety here, so I don't know what perspective I might bring. The honourable member who introduced the legislation, we only know that the last speaker was home with his feet up on Sunday afternoon, while the rest of us were out working, but he is answering the polls. Thank goodness somebody is home to answer those polls.

The member who introduced this resolution that mentioned the cutbacks at the federal level, he also fell for the trick, I guess, of the Premier when he took the Dalhousie health report and used it as a prop. I am not sure he read it, but it was a very effective prop, and he always says, if you go to Ottawa, take something with you - a prop. So I would just note that I thought it was sort of interesting. He dug around the shelves and found a prop to take with him and then came home and bellyached about the lack of money coming down from the federal government, which we are all concerned about. As a previous Health Minister, I am certainly aware of that.

The minister himself did speak in terms of expenditures and measuring outcomes, but also more disturbingly, I visited an emergency room today and I could not help but think about this responsibility for your own health, and some poor person dragging himself into an emergency department having a coronary and the Minister of Health there with his stethoscope, dressed in a white coat saying, well, all you have to do is cut down on your smoking, eat healthy, get some exercise, and you take responsibility for your own care. Just go away and really do not bother us. We really do not have time for these illnesses because we are really too busy cutting core services and dismantling the infrastructure in this province, Mr. Speaker.

Like I say, it was a variety of speakers, I enjoyed it, and I wanted to enter debate here and I will try to pick up the spirit of debate, Mr. Speaker. It is good to debate this resolution particularly on the day, as the minister referred to, that the Provincial Health Council released its report on the (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member for Dartmouth East has the floor.

[Page 7881]

DR. SMITH: Nova Scotians have told the Provincial Health Council that it is time to stop the chaos in the health care system, the minister hears that daily here. That is basically the same thing that the Goldbloom report said; Dr. Goldbloom's report said that it would create more confusion and cost more money to get rid of the regional health boards, but come hell or high water this government was prepared to do that and take all the risks, the extra costs, the dismantling, and they built chaos into the system by dismantling the regional health boards which they have done. Still nothing going on. Still referring to regional health boards, but they are really just an extension of the deputy minister's office here in downtown Halifax. Even though the Premier demanded that this Goldbloom report be conducted, he refused to follow any of the recommendations.

I hope the Premier is going to listen more to the Provincial Health Council than he did to the Goldbloom report, Mr. Speaker. The Provincial Health Council report today said that Nova Scotians wanted more money to spend on programs like illness prevention, home care, home support for seniors and better mental health care programs, recognizing that these people need supports and not just make everybody responsible for their own health. The report also said that the province needs more doctors, and today the Minister of Health disagreed that the health care system is in chaos. He said he feels good about our health care system and the direction that it is taking under his non-leadership. I guess this shows how out of touch this minister is.

The minister is also out of touch when it comes to health care spending. During the election the Tories said that the health care system did not need any new money. The Tories said they could heal the health care system for a mere $46 million and during the election the Tories made 243 promises, of which 50 concern health care. When he released his blue book platform on June 25,1999, the Premier said the costs of each promise were clearly outlined. When you add up the costs listed in the health promises, it adds up to just $43 million and this time the Premier said health care providers have told us that $1.5 billion - that is the Health budget - is enough money to run a quality system in this province if it is used properly.

Obviously, the Premier is only talking to spin doctors and not real doctors because the previous government, our government, developed a plan for health investment fund, a plan to invest in the health care system, the same amount of money that you people put into the non-system right today, Mr. Speaker. They put in already as much money as we were going to in a reform to improve the system, and they do not want to hear that, but the health care providers told our government that we needed a sound investment in health care in order to make it affordable and to make it sustainable. Our Liberal health plan was a made in Nova Scotia solution that took into account the level of funding from the federal government.

[Page 7882]

We were not pleased with the funding from the federal government, Mr. Speaker, but we were prepared to deal with health care in Nova Scotia without additional federal help. That was what our plan was. We did not go bellyaching and go around blaming other people. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member for Dartmouth East has the floor.

DR. SMITH: The NDP said they did not need that plan and we did not need to invest in health care; the Tory Government made a promise to Nova Scotians that health care would be fixed by simply cutting administration. Well, we have seen that for over a year now. They did not bother to tell Nova Scotians that administration was 2 per cent of the total budget.

Tories now blame the federal government. Premier Hamm went up there with his prop, the health study from Dalhousie, waved it at the federal government and came home bellyaching. The truth is, even before the massive infusion of federal funding announced last month, Nova Scotia was receiving more money this year from the federal government through Canadian Health and Social Transfer Tax than in the last few years. In 1997-98, Nova Scotia received approximately $817 million in CHST funding; in 1998-99, $818 million; in 1999-2000, it was $910 million; and this year it is going to be $944 million, not the $200,000 that the minister's mouthpieces were saying the other day, reported in the media.

Mr. Speaker, when you add the equalization payments, Nova Scotia was scheduled to receive about $10.7 billion in federal transfers over a five-year arrangement, $10.7 billion. Last month the federal Liberal Government renewed its commitment to health care in Nova Scotia by making an unprecedented deal with the provinces for health funding. According to documents from the government, Nova Scotia will receive approximately $626 million more from Ottawa for health care over the next five years. Put that in your pipe and smoke it, Mr. Minister. I don't know what prop you are going to use for that. I will tell you the prop that you will be doing will not be pretty. That is over $125 million more per year.

Now, the Health Minister and the Finance Minister are trying to say that Nova Scotia is not getting any additional money from Ottawa. They are saying since they didn't expect to get more funding next year, the current windfall will only bring Nova Scotia up to the level of funding of last year. Leave it up to the Tories to add two plus two to equal zero, that is their mathematics. I wonder why we are getting off the rails in this province. Nurses and doctors and other health care providers do not believe the new Tory math. Health care providers want to know what the Health Minister plans to do with his new money. Where is it going? Where is the shell game?

[Page 7883]

The Health Minister has already said that throwing money at the problem will not solve the crisis that he has created in health care. The Tories claim that money is not the solution, yet the new federal funding is simply not enough. The only province in Canada to come home bellyaching about not getting enough money from the federal government. Every Premier in Canada, including Lucien Bouchard, is excited about the new federal funding for health care. Every Premier was happy to get the money, except for one, John Hamm.

Today at noon, the Premier delivered a state of the union address, a very punitive address on social assistance, and watch out what is going to happen in this province. In his speech he bashed the poor and he commented on the rising cost of health care. He said that Nova Scotia must get a handle on rising health care costs. We agree with that, but not the way the Tories are doing it. They voted against our health investment fund. Instead, what they are doing is setting the clock backwards, and they broke their campaign promises, and they have cut the funding.

Hospitals and former health boards have been given the green light to run up huge deficits. Over in Dartmouth, $1.6 million, $1.7 million. They said, oh, don't worry about your operating budget, just go right ahead. Wasn't this the year that we were going to be balancing the budget? That must be accounted for next year. That is where we are going, we are back to the old spending ways of the Tories. The day of reckoning will come next year when the district health authorities, which are a month overdue, may be in place, we may see them in place.

We are seeing the erosion of our health care system, against all reports, against the Goldbloom report, and we are seeing it in the Colchester Regional Hospital and the Tatamagouche area, a community with a regional hospital. There is an example of a whole region that is being dismantled. The minister will justify what he is doing, putting in float nurses and calling them paediatric-trained nurses. He is showing a blatant disregard for the health of Nova Scotians and for the safety of Nova Scotians and what will happen now.

We will see, and we will be watching what will be happening, not only in Tatamagouche and in Colchester County, but throughout the province, as they dismantle the infrastructure of our health care system that Nova Scotians value and have worked so hard to sustain. Thank you.

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

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, I am glad for an opportunity to make some comments regarding this resolution. For those who don't have a copy of it, what it says is: "Therefore be it resolved that the Premier and the Minister of Health re-examine their cuts to our health care system and try to bring their thinking in line with Nova Scotians who want more spent on health care." I think perhaps more and more wisely.

[Page 7884]

[5:45 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, it would really be nice if, by the time I sit down people would have thought that I said something that makes sense. It is pretty difficult actually considering the climate to know whether anybody who has spoken to date has made any sense. I think that some people have touched on some good points. Some have used good arguments, but the same arguments can be applied against them as well.

I do want to mention a comment by the honourable member for Sackville-Beaver Bank, and there was a lot of what he said that I thought was very good. When he criticized the federal government for their advertising on health, and then we see the Department of Community Services in the province with ads as well, and it kind of makes you wonder if it is appropriate for the federal government to quit the advertising and put the money into health care, then perhaps it is appropriate for the Department of Community Services to quit the advertising and put the money into community services so it could actually help the people who need it. (Interruptions) Mr. Speaker, I wish . . .

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

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I hear comments from the other side saying we are telling them what we are going to do. Perhaps that means that tomorrow they will table the regulations that go along with the bill for community services so people will know what it is this government is going to do.

The only thing I can be sure of is what this government has done in regard to health care in this province, and it is nothing to be proud of. The increased costs to seniors, a group that really deserve a break if no group does. (Interruptions). Mr. Speaker, I think it is really easy to pass the buck on to the federal government (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. (Interruption) Order, please. The Leader in the House of the New Democratic Party has the floor.

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. And it is true, the federal government has abdicated its role as far as health care in this country. I think that no one will argue with that fact. To go from 50 cents on the dollar to 12 cents on the dollar could not have secured health care in this country anywhere. And it hasn't. But, what the Minister of Health didn't mention when he talked about Saskatchewan was the dollars that the federal government took out of health care in Saskatchewan, the provincial government there put back in. Something else the minister didn't mention was that yes, there is a lot of evidence to indicate that if you shift money from acute care to prevention, then that is a good thing to do. But, that is the only message that the minister seems to want to pick up on. He will shift

[Page 7885]

the money from acute care but not put the money into prevention. It is the same thing we saw with the previous Liberal Government.

Now some may want to say that there is some other mechanism in place on how the Government of Saskatchewan was able to do that. But people should be aware, for starters that the government in Saskatchewan did balance its books and put money into health care. (Interruptions) The minister has acknowledged, Mr. Speaker, that health care has improved in those areas where there were no hospitals. What they did was put them into health centres. They said they were going to do that, they said they were going to put money into home care and they did that, something that both of the previous administrations said they would do and still haven't done and that is the difference. It is a question of identifying where the problems are and having the strategy to deal with them and not just doublespeak and tell people you are going to do something and when you get in power, not deliver on it at all. The members opposite may not be aware that the population in Saskatchewan is about the same as the population in Nova Scotia. They have probably 40 per cent or a little more of the arable land in Canada. It is an agricultural economy for the most part, some of the lowest wheat prices in history over the past few years and they were still able to balance their books and deliver good quality health care in that province and put back the dollars that the federal government took out.

We have not seen that in either this administration or the previous one, but they are perfectly willing to shake their finger at the New Democratic Party for what it does not do. I want to remind members that last winter when the federal government brought down its budget, after the budget debate and we get into the first Question Period in the House, every Party, every federal Party, the first question that they asked was around the loss of dollars in the HRDC.

One Party in Ottawa asked the question about health care. Where were the dollars for health care? And that was the New Democratic Party. So for those members who will shake their finger at the New Democratic Party and say that you have had no effect in Ottawa on the agenda of the federal government as far as trying to raise the concerns of health care, they can say that, it is really no different than anything else that other politicians say because there is no one in Ottawa that is going to say yes, the New Democrats have held strong on health care. No other Party is going to admit that.

But, the record will show that their (Interruption) It was not.

AN HON. MEMBER: Give yourself a break. That is Stockwell you were talking to.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The member for Colchester North. Order, please. My view was blocked.

[Page 7886]

MR. WILLIAM LANGILLE: On a point of order. The honourable member stated that they cleaned up the health care in Saskatchewan. Mr. Romanoff while he was Premier in Saskatchewan closed 52 hospitals. Thank you very much.

MR. SPEAKER: That is not a point of order. The honourable member for Hants East.

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: I thought I addressed that issue once already. Everyone seems to talk about the cost of health care. Health care out of control, but yet, if it is out of control that means you should be spending more, but these governments have been spending less. Can spending be out of control and still allow you to cut at the same time?

Reports and investigations show that those provinces that cut the most prior to 1997 are going to spend the most in health care since 1997. We are one of those provinces. What are we doing? We are cutting again, so the minister had better realize that it is a question of you can pay now or pay later but eventually he is going to pay.

I was pleased to hear the Minister of Economic Development earlier today mention that the growth in the province is in the range of 7 per cent.

AN HON. MEMBER: No way. That is what they were hoping to get.

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Well then I am glad to hear him say that. That means that the reason for the cuts will not be there and the government's revenue is going to be more than even they had predicted, I am assuming, so therefore they have to have a good reason to go to the people and explain why they have cut health care the way they have. All those people who are involved in health care delivery and we have heard from so many of them recently and we put the questions to the minister so that we know he is aware, he has to be, then they are saying that the approach that this province has taken to health care is not the right one. So I think he better hope for increased revenues because the prediction is going to be that we are going to need those extra dollars for the health care system.

AN HON. MEMBER: Every penny.

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: I know that in my particular riding of Hants East health care is an issue. We have an excellent community health board there. They work diligently trying to address the needs of health care in Hants East. I am amazed that . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Time has expired. That concludes debate on Resolution No. 2809.

The honourable member for Lunenburg West on an introduction.

[Page 7887]

MR. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, through you to members of the House, it is my pleasure to introduce in the Speaker's Gallery the father of the young chap who was shadowing me today. This is Mr. Tommy Bolivar. He drove in from Bridgewater to understand what is going on in the Legislature and to see what is going on and to also take his son back home as we will be here for awhile. I would ask the members of the House to please give a warm welcome to the father. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Finance.

HON. NEIL LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, I think we would be remiss if we did not introduce one more person. It appears that Grade 9 has been very busy today. In the east gallery there is a fine young lady from Digby County. She is the daughter of Economic Development Minister Gordon Balser, Jill, who accompanied her father today and I am sure has learned a lot about how government works. So if you could please rise and receive the warm approbation of the House. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, the hours for tomorrow will be from 12:00 noon until 8:00 p.m. The order of business will be Public Bills for Second Reading. We will be doing Bill No. 62, Employment Support and Income Assistance Act. Following that we will be doing second reading on Bill No. 70, Sydney Steel Corporation Sale Act.

Mr. Speaker, I move the House do now rise to meet again tomorrow at noon.

MR. SPEAKER: Is the House ready for the question? Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

The House stands adjourned.

I am taking instructions here. My mistake. We have reached the moment of interruption. The resolution to be debated tonight is:

"Therefore be it resolved that the Hamm Government is providing Nova Scotians with good government by making the difficult decisions now which will put Nova Scotia on the road to prosperity."

[Page 7888]

ADJOURNMENT

MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou East.

GOV'T. (N.S.): GOVERNANCE - GOOD

MR. JAMES DEWOLFE: P.T. Barnum famously said, "You cannot please all the people all of time." And, Mr. Speaker, those of us who have been bestowed with the honour of governing learn that lesson very well and very quickly. In government we soon learn a childhood lesson, a lesson Beaver Cleaver learned every week and that is the right thing is not always the easy thing. No pain, no gain. A quick fix is no fix at all. It really does not matter how you say it, Mr. Speaker. It all amounts to the same thing. You have to put your personal interests aside and do the right thing even when it is difficult or unpopular, just because it is the right thing to do.

When Premier John Hamm and his government came to power, we sent out a signal that the days of taking that easy way out are over. Nova Scotia was smothering under the weight of an $11 billion debt. The debt was limiting our choices as a province and dooming our children to a future mired in debt and without prospects for prosperity. In the blue book our Party set out a plan, a thoughtful, four-year plan designed to eliminate the debt burden and put our province on the road to prosperity.

[6:00 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, as I am sure those across the floor will agree, it was that plan that we took door to door during an election campaign and it was that plan that Nova Scotians voted for. It was on the strength of the blue book that we were elected. I think Nova Scotians were relieved to find a Party that had a real plan. We had a plan. They saw that the Liberal solution to Nova Scotia's predicament was to throw money at the situation, a plan that would increase the financial problems of the province and for future generations to come. The NDP simply had no plan, a fact that the members for Cole Harbour and Eastern Passage readily admitted.

Well, we have a plan, and it is a good one. It is the initiatives contained in our blue book that we are fulfilling. You may ask if delivering on the blue book commitment was easy, I can tell you that keeping those promises is not easy. As I am sure all members in this House will agree, delivering on our promises is the right thing to do for Nova Scotians. We take our commitment seriously, and after only one year in office, one year, we reported to Nova Scotians that significant progress had been made in implementing more than 35 per cent of its four year plan. I can tell you, we are right on course. Mr. Speaker, in fact, our status reports identify specific actions taken by government to fulfill more than 85 commitments, many others are in the various stages of being fulfilled, many of them.

[Page 7889]

Let me identify just a few of our fulfilled promises. We replaced the original health boards with district health authorities. We legislated the role of community health boards. We established the position of nursing policy advisor, we did this. We adopted Generally Accepted Accounting Principles to tell Nova Scotians the true finances of the province. We established a code of conduct for Cabinet Ministers, one that should have been there years ago. We reduced the size of government.

The development of a secure treatment centre. We said we are going to remove the barriers to increase incentives to work for those on assistance, and that is exactly what we are doing, precisely. We promised to introduce legislation to better protect consumers, that legislation is before the House now. We said we would negotiate a new infrastructure agreement with Ottawa, done. With the help of Opposition Parties, with your help, we will pass the Dairy Industry Act, legislation that will allow farmers to create efficiencies and expand the industry while ensuring that consumer interests are protected. We promised a balanced approach to government, and that is exactly what we are delivering. We promised to get government out of those areas that properly belong to business, and that is what we are doing. We are no longer in the steelmaking business or the retail bookstore business.

Each of these examples is a case of a Tory promise made and a Tory promise kept. Two weeks ago our government released an economic growth strategy, the first of its kind in Nova Scotia. Surprisingly enough, from now on, it will be Nova Scotians, who know and understand, who live in the real business world, making business decisions. Partisan politics no longer influences those directions. That is what Nova Scotians asked us to do, and that is what we are doing. (Interruptions)

Mr. Speaker, yes, the Opposition is saying, I was never in business, well, I will have you know I have been in business. Appropriately titled Opportunities for Prosperity, our economic growth strategy identifies the steps we need to take to build a stronger, more self-reliant future for ourselves and, yes, for our children. We have also taken steps to help Nova Scotians on assistance achieve independence. At this time, when we are seeing more and more help wanted signs being posted in storefront windows right here in Halifax and across the province, we want to take away the barriers that prevent people on assistance from seizing these employment opportunities, that are worthy of seizing.

We are making progressive changes in our social assistance system that shifts the focus from reliance on government to self-sufficiency. Until now our welfare system has been too passive. In too many cases, it has been perpetuated by need. It didn't support the able-bodied youth who needed a refresher course, or a single mother who wanted to work but she couldn't afford day care, or the person with a disability who needed support in getting back and forth to work. We are going to help them. (Interruptions) Unfortunately the old system built a welfare wall.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member for Pictou East.

[Page 7890]

MR. DEWOLFE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Unfortunately, the old system built a welfare wall that prevented welfare clients from joining the workforce. It prevented them from contributing to society rather than relying on it. Our government is smashing that wall. We are smashing it, and we are making it easier for Nova Scotians to take the jobs they want and a need for a brighter future that they deserve. We all know that welfare was never intended to be a long pension. It was meant to provide temporary support so that people who were down on their luck could get back on their feet. We intend to reverse the number of families, and in particular, the number of children living in poverty. With the recently announced program, we will achieve that goal. We are not like the Opposition Parties whose answer to children's poverty is to sit on their hands and bury their faces. We are doing something about this problem.

Our economic growth strategy and the revamped social assistance system are only two components of a three-pronged approach that we are putting Nova Scotia on the road to long-term, sustainable growth. The third prong, you were asking, is the development of a culture of learning that promotes life-long learning - from cradle to grave. These important initiatives will be unveiled in the days to come, so just wait and see.

As you know, Mr. Speaker, this government is determined to wrestle the deficit all the way to the ground. We understand that if we continue to spend money we don't have, our children will have to pay tomorrow for our folly. They will be the ones who are going to suffer.

In our blue book we said that we would eliminate the deficit in three years and provide a 10 per cent tax cut to Nova Scotians in four. We discovered however, that the province's finances were in a much worse state than our friends across the floor would lead us to believe. Surprise, surprise. In fact, the alleged $1.2 million surplus, what do you think? Well, it turned out to be a $385 million deficit. The Liberal miscalculation will make meeting our fiscal commitments much more difficult. But, Mr. Speaker, we will deliver. Why, I hear you ask? Well, it is not because it is an easy thing to do, but because it is the right thing to do. For politicians, integrity, doing what we said we would do, is our stock and trade. I am proud to be part of this government, the Hamm Government, that has integrity, that has chosen to put the interests of Nova Scotians ahead of political interests, and we have done that. We do the right thing even when it is not a popular thing to do.

We may not be able to please all of the people all of the time, but I know at the end of the day, Nova Scotians will be better off and looking toward the future with optimism and hope. That will make all the difficult decisions worthwhile, I can assure you. Thank you, Mr. Speaker, for your indulgence.

[Page 7891]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

The honourable member for Lunenburg West.

MR. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to rise tonight in the late debate to discuss the resolution that was presented today by the Progressive Conservative Party where they were talking about all the self-righteous platitudes in regard to the things the so-called Progressive Conservative Party have been successful at. I note with interest how the member opposite that read a great speech, by the way, Jim, I don't know who wrote it for you, but you did a good job trying to read it. I didn't agree with it, but you did a reasonably good job trying to read it.

The member opposite pointed out how successful this government has been bringing in a code of ethics for ministers. This is a government that in less than one year realized how miserably they had done in regard to finding ethical processes within their own front benches. The Liberal Government, for seven years, never had near the problems they have had in less than seven months when they were in power. Talk about corruption and doing things wrong on behalf of the of public of Nova Scotia. They talk about the health advisory board changes and yet we have yet to see the legislation come forward to implement the programs they talk about.

They talk about the changing of the accounting process and it seems to me back in 1998 it was the Liberal Government that brought in the consolidation of debt concept and the generally accepted practices of accounting changes to be implemented ourselves and it was a Liberal Government that actually initiated that process. Then he brings in about the Dairy Industry Act, that is another part of the blue book changes for which in 1997 it was a Liberal Government that initiated that process because I was there when we actually sat down and talked with the dairy industry about bringing together their ability to have their own self-marketing board.

What this government has done under this so-called blue book list of promises that they say they have completed; many of them are part and parcel of the previous Liberal Government that they are really talking about. They have done virtually nothing of their own in regard to their so-called platitudes of self-approval rating that they have given themselves. Today I was at the chamber of commerce when the chamber of commerce was giving the Progressive Conservative Party a report card. The report card I think was 49, 49 out of 100. We have got a teacher here, 49, I think that is a flunk, isn't it?

The member opposite spoke about the fact that they were the government of self-reliance and they were going to empower the private sector to take over the businesses that the government is in and he spoke as if they have done so much to privatize the activities of government. I can tell you today the chamber of commerce gave you an F - failure - when it comes to privatizing and what you have done so far in regard to turning what the

[Page 7892]

government sector has over to the private sector. I note that the member opposite, being a loyal backbencher to that government, is trying his best to put on good news.

The reality is this Progressive Conservative Government is a government without a plan and a vision for the future of this province. It is a government not only without a plan, but without the strength to bother trying to do the right thing. The member said that they are the Party to make tough decisions. I remember the member for Lunenburg when they made the choice of closing some hospital beds in Fishermen's Memorial Hospital, it was the member for Lunenburg who said no, we can't make that tough decision, we will keep it open. The Minister of Health agreed and changed the direction.

The Speaker of the House said no, we are not going to close these beds up in Amherst, so they changed the decision on what they were going to do. I can go right across the benches, from the front to the back, of how their so-called tough decisions that they were going to make only bent their knee and cowardly ran away, because they did not have the intestinal fortitude to go forward with any tough decisions but did what was politically expedient on behalf of the government benches of the Province of Nova Scotia; that Progressive Conservative Party that obviously does not have a specific plan nor the intestinal fortitude to go forward with some of the issues.

I note with interest how the Premier today, made it very clear that part of the problem of this province is in three areas. He said that they are going to further the educational component and I support that. He then went on to say, I want to make it clear that the teachers had better not get in the way of lifelong learning, blaming the educational system for the fault of the educational system in the province of Nova Scotia today. Blaming teachers, can you believe it?

He went on to say about the welfare people - I thought that was taken out of the dictionary a long time ago - saying, how dare somebody lie on their back, they make more money than somebody that has two jobs? I would like the Premier to tell me who in this province makes more money on social assistance or family benefits than somebody with two jobs? This government is blaming the single mothers with children at home for the fault of the social assistance program. Shame on that government, shame on that member and shame on that Premier for saying they are the fault of the Province of Nova Scotia.

He went on to say the problems with the health care system are not because of the mismanagement of the Minister of Health who does not even know what is going on in health, he went on to say it is the fault of management and the front-line workers in health care. Shame on that government for blaming them. In the last election, in 1999, that is the government and the Premier who said that $46 million will fix the health care system. Since that time, that Tory Government has spent $0.25 billion more than the $1.562 billion budget in health care, and they still haven't got it right, they still do not have it right.

[Page 7893]

[6:15 p.m.]

Then with the largesse of the federal Liberal Government under the leadership of Jean Chretien who sat and negotiated $20 some billion for the province, Hamm gets up and gets $70 million or $80 million or whatever it is, he comes back and says, it's not enough money. Yet he sold a bill of goods to Nova Scotians by saying vote for me, $46 million and I will fix your health care problem. Well, they don't even understand the dimension of the health care problems, and they haven't even got a plan how to solve the problem. So, there is another one of these examples of success of the Tory Government that has been shot down in flames, because that is a government that has no idea, no plan, no intestinal fortitude to do what is right on behalf of the public of Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I find it interesting that this province led the nation for two years in economic development and growth. We led the nation as a percent age of private-sector investment, the GDP; we led the nation. We beat the Kleins of Alberta, and we beat the Harrises of Ontario. We led the nation. Since they have taken over, they are saying they are projecting a 2.5 per cent growth in GDP, one of the lowest in all of Canada. What have they done to help stimulate economic opportunity? What they have done is - well maybe a few favours for Sobeys, but other than that what else have they done? They have tried to develop a strategy. Well, I hope the Minister of Economic Development can find that that strategy works. But, quite frankly, I have seen nothing that says to the world, we are open for business in the Province of Nova Scotia. Come, and we will make it work for you. We will be the leaders of the world. We will make things happen.

In one example alone is their inability to flow through the tax savings hard-working Nova Scotians so those dollars stay in the pockets of Nova Scotians creating economic opportunity; creating opportunities of jobs; stimulating economic growth because people with money in their pocket will spend it and invest it in Nova Scotia jobs. They said no to flowing through those tax savings. Those tax savings that Paul Martin, the federal Minister of Finance, one of the best, if not the best Minister of Finance this country has ever seen, has offered to pass on tax reductions to Nova Scotians. Yet this government said no. We are now going to have, as a previous Buchanan program, the highest tax rate in the country thanks to the Progressive Conservative Government of the Province of Nova Scotia. The highest provincial tax in all of Canada, because of you and your government, that has no idea and no plan. We did, we passed it on, Mr. Speaker, and they did not; millions of dollars that is going to be clawed back by this government.

Mr. Speaker, I will give kudos to this government for trying to make an effort, but I find it absolutely repulsive when I hear some of the comments that are made, giving themselves this self-glory for things they haven't done. I would like to say, it is Nova Scotians, the front-line people of this province, whether government or private sector, that are driving the economy, not you. We should be giving them the glory, not you.

[Page 7894]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Time has expired.

The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect.

MR. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, let's look carefully at this resolution, as I think the members opposite should have a bit of a lesson here. "Therefore be it resolved that the Hamm Government is providing Nova Scotians with good government by making the difficult decisions . . ." So let's talk about some of those difficult decisions.

Mr. Speaker, the difficult decision of gutting the Department of the Environment. We might as well not even have a Department of the Environment anymore. The Department of the Environment, that is a tough decision? The right decision, the right time. I listened to the speech that was so eloquently read. That is a wrong decision. The environment of this province is a top priority. We basically now no longer have an Environment Department.

We have an Agriculture Department that has been ravaged, absolutely ravaged, and the member for Lunenburg West can testify to that, coming from Christmas tree country, and some of the terrible decisions that were made. The right decisions, the speech reader read. Let's look at Community Services, and let's understand that the debate that took place here and the speech that was read is something out of the 1950's. If Dale Madill wrote that speech, he deserves a quick lesson that this is the 2000's, and it is time to use the proper language as opposed to people on welfare. Let's talk as if we know, at least, what we are going to read about.

We have made all the tough decisions, have we, in the first year. Let's look at the blue book. This one in particular, a non-partisan road plan, promised within the first year. What is it going to cost you? Nothing. It is listed here in the infamous blue book, that my good friend from Dartmouth North provides me. Let's have a look at that, a non-partisan road plan. We are making tough decisions that are going to help Nova Scotia on the road to prosperity. Let's look outside of metro. Let's look at how we move goods around. Let's look at the importance of those tough decisions in the Department of Transportation and Public Works. The Minister of Transportation and Public Works has undertaken no leadership in publishing this strategic plan.

One year is up and the clock is counting. If you want to take politics out of decisions, the place to start is in the Transportation Department. Take politics out of paving. As you know from your riding, Mr. Speaker, the importance of increased economic development is based on how we move goods and move people around in this province. I see no tough decisions there. I see a government that is not stepping up and making an important decision and telling us, what are the priorities in the Department of Transportation and Public Works.

[Page 7895]

Now, as the Economic Development Critic, this has been called the addendum to the blue book. Opportunities for Prosperity. Let me tell you, I attended that press conference. I heard the Premier speak. I heard the Minister of Economic Development speak. Do you know what this government is going to do? It is going to, are you ready, get out of the way of business. It is going to allow business to make those decisions, because it is going to form a Crown Corporation, it is going to take people who have business experience, and those people from the private sector are going to be given the combination to the public piggy bank.

They are relinquishing those tough decisions. Sure, it is important to listen to the private sector. Those are public monies, public monies that should be controlled by a public official, the Minister of Economic Development. That minister says he is getting out of the way on those decisions. Is that making tough decisions? The answer is no. The Minister of Economic Development, let's face it, the Economic Development Department is no longer really going to exist, when they make those final changes. Who is going to be on that board? Well, we will wait and see. The allegations will be made, it will be interesting to see how you get on that particular board, whether HRDC representatives in this province will have a say or not. But, we are getting out of the way and letting business make decisions.

That is making tough decisions? Absolutely not. That is not making tough decisions. That is relinquishing your authority. So the Minister of Transportation, the Minister of Economic Development, the Minister of Community Services, not leadership, not making tough decisions, not making the decisions which Nova Scotians expected to hear from this government. When you read a speech and you start off with a quote from Beaver Cleaver - Mr. [Deputy] Speaker, you are probably not even old enough to remember Beaver Cleaver. I have a few years on you, I realize - how reflective of an attitude. It reminds us, of course, if you look back far enough, you are going to re-invent an idea.

The Minister of Economic Development should get prepared for the fact, maybe he should consult with the people from Pictou County because there was something at one time called Industrial Estates and was it ever wonderful. Oh, the number of disasters that this crowd over here previously had to get themselves involved in. Industrial Estates, and now we have it reinvented. The old ideas like the Beaver Cleaver connections. It seems to me that if a government is elected for forward-thinking, this crowd over there was looking over their shoulder most of the time, and after a while if you look over your shoulder enough, somebody is going to go by you or you are going to fall flat on your face.

For this apologist to stand in here this evening and read this speech, to read this speech to justify, as I said to my good friend from Dartmouth North, that's an application from that member to have a spot in Cabinet. That member is out there campaigning for if and when a Cabinet shuffle comes; I stood in there, I justified our tough decisions. He outlined some of the rather poor decisions, not the tough decisions.

[Page 7896]

I mean, toughness, let's have a look at that term. You know athletically, we can talk toughness. We can look at athletic comparisons, you have to have some skill to go along with it though. Kevin Morrison recently was inducted into the Nova Scotia Sports Hall of Fame and as you are well aware, Mr. [Deputy] Speaker, they didn't come much tougher than Kevin, but Kevin that night said it takes more than just toughness, it takes some skill too. The skilful decisions are the ones that we want to hear about. The skilful decisions that have allowed input, that have allowed people across this province to have their say. Consulting Nova Scotians when it comes to making decisions based upon input, based upon skilful research and allowing people to have their say.

If they want to consult people before making decisions, then we will understand that economically in this province there are skilful decisions that have to be made, but putting on the bravado that we have made the tough decisions, they are the right decisions, they are not only the popular decisions, you consult with Nova Scotians. If this government consults with Nova Scotians, they will understand that popularity in politics is based on doing what the majority of Nova Scotians want. They want a government and they saw a leader who sat on this side who portrayed the kind country doctor who was going to listen, who was going to consult, who was going to make sure that his government reflected Nova Scotians and this particular Premier and that government over there do not reflect the best interests of Nova Scotia.

No wonder they are unpopular. No wonder everybody from the emergency drivers to all the other people have been reacting to unpopular legislation. It is so unfortunate, there are members now, if you will remember the letter that was read earlier today in the House, that is a reflection of the fact. Tough decisions, give us skilful decisions. Allow Nova Scotians to have their input. At that time Nova Scotians will finally produce the verdict with this crowd over there. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: We stand adjourned until 12:00 p.m. on Thursday.

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