Assemblée Législative de la Nouvelle-Écosse

Les travaux de la Chambre ont repris le
21 septembre 2017

First Session

FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 10, 2000

TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE
PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS:
Educ. - Eastern Passage: High School - Need, Mr. K. Deveaux 8567
GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 3210, Remembrance Day: Veterans - Salute, The Premier 8568
Vote - Affirmative 8569
NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 3211, Remembrance Day - Nova Scotians: Sacrifice - Remember,
Mr. John MacDonell 8569
Vote - Affirmative 8569
Res. 3212, Remembrance Day - Ceremonies: Attendance - Encourage,
Mr. W. Gaudet 8570
Vote - Affirmative 8570
GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 3213, Stanfield, Robert L. - Leadership (PC Party): Anniv. (52nd) -
Contributions Recognize, The Premier 8571
Vote - Affirmative 8574
NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 3214, Gov't. (N.S.) - Practices (Secretive & Deceptive): Premier -
End, Mr. J. Holm 8572
Res. 3215, Sydney - WWII: Role - Recognize, Mr. Manning MacDonald 8572
Vote - Affirmative 8573
Res. 3216, MacDonald, Douglas B. (Deceased, Normandy): Bravery -
Honour, Hon. J. Purves 8573
Vote - Affirmative 8574
Res. 3217, Health - Cochlear Implants: Equipment - Acquire,
Ms. Maureen MacDonald 8574
Res. 3218, Burke, Treka - Dr. W.B. Kingston Mem. Health Proj.:
Chairman - Appoint. Congrats., Mr. M. Samson 8575
Vote - Affirmative 8576
Res. 3219, RCL - Flag (Can.-Maple Leaf): Projection - Support,
Mr. B. Taylor 8576
Vote - Affirmative 8576
Res. 3220, Commun. Serv. - Child Poverty (17/08/98 on): Deficit -
Recognize, Mr. K. Deveaux 8576
Res. 3221, Remembrance Day - Sacrifice Remember: RCL -
Recognize, Mr. M. Samson 8577
Vote - Affirmative 8578
Res. 3222, Nicholson, Andrew - Remembrance Day: Parliament Hill
Ceremony - Representative Congrats., Mr. T. Olive 8578
Vote - Affirmative 8579
Res. 3223, Cummings, Rita - Death of: Family - Condolences Convey,
Mr. F. Corbett 8579
Vote - Affirmative 8579
Res. 3224, Murphy, Bill - Royal Winter Fair: Success - Wishes Extend,
Mr. D. Downe 8580
Vote - Affirmative 8580
Res. 3225, Young Women's Parliament (2000) - Participants:
Best Wishes - Extend, Ms. M. McGrath 8580
Vote - Affirmative 8581
Res. 3226, Health - Plan: Protests - Min. Objective, Mr. D. Dexter 8581
Res. 3227, Health - Care: Provision - Premier Concentrate, Dr. J. Smith 8582
Res. 3228, Sunday Shopping - Rural Retailers: Premier -
Statement Provide, Mr. Robert Chisholm 8582
Res. 3229, Bras d'Or (HMCS): Sailors - Remember, Mr. K. MacAskill 8583
Vote - Affirmative 8584
Res. 3230, Fin. - Motive Fuel Regs.: Change - Full-Serve Allow,
Mr. W. Estabrooks 8584
Res. 3231, Red Tape Task Force - Creation: Premier - Apologize,
Mr. R. MacKinnon 8584
Res. 3232, Legislation - Lobbyists: Premier - Identify, Mr. H. Epstein 8585
Res. 3233, McCulloch, Don & MacDonald, Jackie - Gov. Gen.
Exemplary Service Award: Recipients - Congrats., Mr. J. DeWolfe 8586
Vote - Affirmative 8586
Res. 3234, Red Tape Task Force - C.B.: Flood Damage - Assist,
Mr. B. Boudreau 8586
Res. 3235, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Road Plan: Election Commitment -
Publicize, Mr. H. Epstein 8587
Res. 3236, Music Ind. Assoc. N.S. - Blou: Nomination - Congrats.,
Mr. W. Gaudet 8588
Vote - Affirmative 8588
Res. 3237, Commun. Serv./Transport. & Pub. Wks. -
Accessible Transport.: Municipalities - Mins. Meet, Mr. J. Pye 8589
Res. 3238, Lun. Correction Ctr. - Closure: Cost-Benefit Analysis -
Perform, Mr. D. Downe 8589
Res. 3239, Fin. - Bars and Restaurants: Tax Cut - Benefit Negative,
Mr. J. Holm 8590
Res. 3240, Health - Paramedic Dispatchers: Respect Policy - Adopt,
Dr. J. Smith 8591
Res. 3241, Collins, Walter - East Hants Chamber of Comm.:^
Entrepreneur of the Year - Congrats., Mr. J. MacDonell 8591
Vote - Affirmative 8592
Res. 3242, Nat. Res. - Forestry Sustainability: Sawmill Operators -
Congrats., Mr. K. MacAskill 8592
Res. 3243, Sports - UCCB Capers Mens Team: Maritime Rugby
Championship - Congrats., Mr. F. Corbett 8593
Vote - Affirmative 8593
Res. 3244, Environ. - Waste Diversion: Prog. - Success Credit,
Mr. R. MacKinnon 8594
Res. 3245, Gov't. (Cdn.) - Alberta Legislation: Allowance - Admit,
Mr. D. Dexter 8594
Res. 3246, Premier - People (N.S.): Promises - Remember,
Mr. Manning MacDonald 8595
Res. 3247, Rock, Hon. Allan - Staff: Yes-People - Recruitment,
Mr. Robert Chisholm 8596
Res. 3248, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Subdivisions: Paving Priorities -
Staff Assist, Mr. W. Estabrooks 8597
Res. 3249, Commun. Serv. - Policy Intro.: Compassion - Demonstrate,
Mr. J. Pye 8597
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS:
No. 80, Justice and Administration Reform (2000) Act, Hon. M. Baker 8598
PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS:
Health - Colchester Reg. Hosp.: Cuts - Oppose, Mr. D. Dexter 8599
GOVERNMENT BUSINESS:
PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING:
No. 68, Occupational Health and Safety Act 8600
Mr. Robert Chisholm 8600
Mr. F. Corbett 8607
Hon. A. MacIsaac 8611
Vote - Affirmative 8612
No. 66, Consumer Protection Act/Mortgage Brokers' and
Lenders' Registration Act 8621
Hon. A. MacIsaac 8621
Mr. J. Holm 8624
Mr. B. Boudreau 8629
Hon. A. MacIsaac 8630
Vote - Affirmative 8631
No. 67, Crane Operators and Power Engineers Act 8632
Hon. A. MacIsaac 8632
Mr. F. Corbett 8632
Mr. R. MacKinnon 8639
Hon. A. MacIsaac 8643
Vote - Affirmative 8643
No. 77, Agricultural Marshland Conservation Act 8643
Hon. E. Fage 8643
Mr. John MacDonell 8644
Mr. D. Downe 8646
Hon. E. Fage 8647
Vote - Affirmative 8647
No. 74, Probate Act 8648
Hon. M. Baker 8648
Mr. E. Epstein 8649
Mr. M. Samson 8652
Mr. R. MacKinnon 8656
Hon. M. Baker 8659
Vote - Affirmative 8659
PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES:
Law Amendments Committee, Hon. M. Baker 8660
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Tue., Nov. 14th at 12:00 p.m. 8661
NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3):
Res. 3250, RCL - Joggins (Branch No. 4): Reconstruction -
Participants Congrats., The Speaker 8662
Res. 3251, Whalen, Fred - District 4 (Kings Co.): Warden - Re-election
Congrats., Mr. M. Parent 8662
Res. 3252, Sports - Soccer: Cornwallis Dist. HS - Championship Congrats.,
Mr. M. Parent 8663
Res. 3253, Cochrane, Robert Mem. Park - War Memorial: Project
Participants - Congrats., The Speaker 8663

[Page 8567]

HALIFAX, FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 10, 2000

Fifty-eighth General Assembly

First Session

9:00 A.M.

SPEAKER

Hon. Murray Scott

DEPUTY SPEAKERS

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

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

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

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

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition on behalf of the residents of Eastern Passage. The operative clause reads, "According to the 'Evaluation of High Schools' report produced by the Department in May, 2000, Cole Harbour District (High School) is the only school whose projected enrollment exceeds the 'theoretical building maximum'. Given the fact that over 50% of that school's population comes from Eastern Passage and the inability, for logistical reasons, to transfer these students to another school with less capacity pressures, it is our opinion that the only alternative is to build a high school in our community." I have affixed my signature.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

8567

[Page 8568]

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Premier.

HON. JOHN HAMM (The Premier): Mr. Speaker, it is my understanding that all three Parties will be presenting resolutions relative to Remembrance Day. May I suggest that we would present them all and then have our minute of silence after the third resolution?

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

The honourable Premier.

RESOLUTION NO. 3210

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

Whereas tomorrow at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, we will pause to remember; and

Whereas we will remember the thousands of lives lost for the preservation of the precious democratic freedoms enjoyed by all Canadians and for the bravery of those who did return; and

Whereas we will remember the tremendous costs of the wars of this century and pray that this time "Never again." is a commitment we live up to;

Therefore be it resolved that as we salute our veterans tomorrow we recall today and every day the words of Laurence Binyon, "They shall grow not old as we that are left grow old. Age shall not weary them nor the years condemn. At the going down of the sun and in the morning We will remember them."

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 8569]

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.

[NOTICES OF MOTION]

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

RESOLUTION NO. 3211

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

Whereas members of this House are often identified as honourable members; and

Whereas true honour can only be recognized by politicians, heads of state and monarchs but never bestowed or taken away; and

Whereas tomorrow, November 11th, Nova Scotians, like other Canadians, will stop to remember those who by their own deeds have brought honour upon themselves;

Therefore be it resolved that tomorrow, on Remembrance Day, all members of the House of Assembly remember those honourable Nova Scotians who were willing to sacrifice so much in order that we might uphold the democracy that they fought and died for.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

[Page 8570]

The honourable Leader of the Liberal Party.

RESOLUTION NO. 3212

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

Whereas tomorrow, November 11th, people from across Canada will pay tribute to our war heros; and

Whereas Canadians will gather at cenotaphs and memorials in over 2,000 cities, towns and villages throughout the country to honour the men and women killed in Canada's war and military operations; and

Whereas more than 116,031 Canadians died in battle;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House be encouraged to attend Remembrance Day ceremonies in their local areas and let us all take a moment of silence to reflect on the men and women who have served our country.

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.

I would ask that all members now rise for a moment of silence for those who gave their lives for this country.

[One minute of silence was observed.]

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you, please be seated.

[Page 8571]

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Premier.

RESOLUTION NO. 3213

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

Whereas on this day in 1948, Truro native, Robert L. Stanfield was elected Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party in Nova Scotia; and

Whereas this well-respected Nova Scotian took the reins at a particularly difficult time in our Party's history, improving its position in the province so much, so that he led the Party to victory in 1956, when he became Premier; and

Whereas he toiled as Premier for Nova Scotia until 1967, when he sought to lead the Party federally and while unsuccessful in his quest to lead the country, Mr. Stanfield was so respected he became known as the best Prime Minister this country never had;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this Legislature recognize and applaud the enormous contributions of this industrious, compassionate Nova Scotian and former Premier, on the anniversary of the date our Party had the good fortune to have him elected Leader over one-half century ago.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

NOTICES OF MOTION

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

[Page 8572]

RESOLUTION NO. 3214

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

Whereas the Premier, yesterday, took a tiny step and overruled his ministers by stating his government will review its deal to exempt the province from the Environment Act with regard to Sysco and former Sysco operations; and

Whereas neither the Premier nor any other minister has yet explained why the government wants to exempt all Sysco-related matters from the Environment Act and regulations; and

Whereas the Premier's own staff kept this deal secret for five months;

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier should end the secretive and deceptive practices of his government, recognizing that public debate is one of the best cures for mistakes like a blanket exemption from the Environment Act for Sysco-related pollution.

Mr. Speaker, I would request waiver of notice but by the sounds of the minister, I don't think I will get it.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton South.

RESOLUTION NO. 3215

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

Whereas from 1939 to 1945 the people of Sydney helped fight Nazi tyranny in a multitude of ways, including offering its best and brightest to the Canadian Military and Merchant Marine; and

Whereas Sydney Harbour was also of vital importance as ship repair and convoy marshalling point; and

Whereas a lesser known contribution was the role played by the Sydney steel plant in war production, efforts which saw the Sydney plant double in size;

[Page 8573]

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House recognize the strategic role Sydney played during World War II, and remember those Sydney residents who paid the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom.

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

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Education.

RESOLUTION NO. 3216

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

Whereas Douglas B. MacDonald died more than 51 years ago on the beaches of Normandy while selflessly providing medical treatment to two fallen comrades; and

Whereas this unselfish act of bravery earned him numerous post-war distinctions, including the prized Military Medal, and also a promise to his family by the City of Halifax to name a street after him; and

Whereas the decree was only recently acted upon and a park in west end Halifax was named in his honour because of the efforts of his former commanding officer, Harrison Miller, and his sister-in-law, Vera MacDonald;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House honour the bravery of Douglas B. MacDonald and congratulate those who ensured his name and brave deeds will live on for generations to come.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 8574]

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, on a point or order. The previous resolution regarding the Honourable Robert Stanfield put by the Premier, there was a mis-communication on that. The member who voted Nay misunderstood the resolution, wishes to withdraw it and make the motion unanimous. (Applause)

[9:15 a.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

RESOLUTION NO. 3217

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

Whereas technology is now making it possible for deaf children, youth and adults to hear, sometimes for the first time, with a cochlear implant; and

Whereas this implant and the necessary follow-up services are not available in Nova Scotia; and

Whereas at great expense to our health care system, people must travel to other provinces to receive this innovative service;

Therefore be it resolved that the Health Minister instruct his department to acquire the necessary equipment and personnel to provide this service to Nova Scotians in Nova Scotia, which will provide a cost saving to the health care system.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 8575]

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

Order, please. Just before we go to the next one, I would just like to ask the honourable members to keep the noise down. There have been three issues this morning that have not been heard by the members, one by each Party. I would ask that everyone just keep the noise down a bit or take the conversation outside, please.

The honourable member for Richmond.

RESOLUTION NO. 3218

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

Whereas Treka Burke has been selected as the new Chairman of the Dr. William B. Kingston Memorial Health Project in Richmond County; and

Whereas as well as having a Medical Secretary Degree from Halifax Business Academy, Mrs. Burke has worked for the past three years at the office of Dr. Yvonne Nault in St. Peters; and

Where the Health Project is currently attempting to begin a new caregiver program in hopes of getting respite and time-out programs for caregivers;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House extend their congratulations to Treka Burke, of French Cove, on her new position, and wish her continued success as she and her staff develop new initiatives with the Dr. William B. Kingston Memorial Health Project.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

[Page 8576]

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. 3219

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

Whereas Canada's democracy has been maintained through the sacrifice of thousands of lives; and

Whereas because of this, we now lead a peaceful, democratic existence with many freedoms which are protected by the 1982 Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms; and

Whereas beginning in 1994, the Royal Canadian Legion has been requesting the federal government to enact legislation to protect the maple leaf, our flag, from acts of desecration;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this Legislature, this morning, through a letter from the Speaker's Office to the federal Minister now responsible for Veterans Affairs, unanimously support the Royal Canadian Legion in its efforts to protect our maple leaf from any act of desecration.

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 Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage.

RESOLUTION NO. 3220

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

[Page 8577]

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

Whereas since August 17, 1999, this Tory Government's first full day in office, 2,706 children have been born into poverty; and

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

Therefore be it resolved that this Tory Government start waking up to the health, education and social deficits faced by the 2,706 children born into poverty under this Tory Regime.

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 member for Richmond.

RESOLUTION NO. 3221

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

Whereas tomorrow, November 11th, Canadians all across the country will stop and pay tribute to the men and women killed in Canada's wars and military operations; and

Whereas each year on November 11th, members of the Royal Canadian Legion maintain the tradition of remembrance through the Poppy Campaign, organizing and conducting national, regional and local Remembrance Day ceremonies and youth poster and essay contests; and

Whereas tomorrow Remembrance Day ceremonies will take place in Richmond County at Royal Canadian Legion Branch No. 47 in St. Peters and Royal Canadian Legion Branch No. 150 in Arichat;

[Page 8578]

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House take a moment to remember all those individuals who served our great country and recognize the invaluable work done by the members of the Royal Canadian Legion.

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. 3222

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

Whereas former Dartmouth resident Andrew Nicholson, now of CFB Shilo, has been chosen from among thousands of soldiers to represent the Canadian Army at this year's Remembrance Day Ceremony on Parliament Hill; and

Whereas while in Ottawa, Andrew will also attend a memorial service for his uncle, an RCMP officer and veteran of the Vietnam War who lost his life during an aircraft exercise last year; and

Whereas the 25 year old who himself served in Bosnia for six months, comes from a long line of war veterans, his four grandparents having served overseas during wartime;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize the honour bestowed on this young serviceman, which he termed "an opportunity of a lifetime," as he travels to Ottawa to represent the thousands of men and women of Canada's army who have served and protected our country.

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

[Page 8579]

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. 3223

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

Whereas over the last half century we have seen many changes in our education system; and

Whereas one person who has seen many of these changes in a very personal way was Rita Cummings, who started her teaching career in a one-room school house in Lingan; and

Whereas Rita Cummings passed away on Tuesday, November 8th, and she was also a devoted parishioner at St. Joseph's Parish Church in Lingan;

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize the great loss to Nova Scotia and send condolences to the family of Rita Cummings.

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 Lunenburg West.

[Page 8580]

RESOLUTION NO. 3224

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

Whereas a bull owned by Bill Murphy of Lunenburg County won Grand Champion Bull at the Royal Winter Fair; and

Whereas on Saturday, Mr. Murphy and his award-winning bull will compete for Supreme Grand Champion Bull at the Royal Winter Fair; and

Whereas both Mr. Murphy and his bull will travel to Regina for its exhibition to compete for the world title;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Mr. Bill Murphy and wish him success at the Royal Winter Fair on Saturday and at the world championships in Regina.

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 Halifax Bedford Basin.

RESOLUTION NO. 3225

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

Whereas Nova Scotia's first All Girls Parliament, as it was then called, took place at the Lord Nelson Hotel in March 1986 and is now called Young Women's Parliament; and

Whereas the intent of Young Women's Parliament is to provide senior Girl Guide members between the ages of 15 and 20 with an opportunity to acquire experience, skills and knowledge about the political process of our country; and

[Page 8581]

Whereas the fourth Young Women's Parliament 2000 will take place over three days this weekend at Mount Saint Vincent Motherhouse and this House of Assembly;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of the Legislature extend best wishes to the organizers and participants in Young Women's Parliament 2000 as they embark on this important parliamentary exercise.

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-Cole Harbour.

RESOLUTION NO. 3226

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

Whereas in a press release on the appointment of the new CEO for the Colchester District Health Authority, the Minister of Health states: communities are already seeing a greater voice in decisions; and

Whereas this is true as communities and groups band together to protest this government's inexcusable cuts; and

Whereas doctors, nurses and other health professionals are all banding together in a vain attempt to force this government to listen to their concerns;

Therefore be it resolved that if it was the Minister of Health's objective to force the people of Nova Scotia to protest his health plan, then he has really succeeded.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

[Page 8582]

RESOLUTION NO. 3227

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

Whereas health care cuts mean that people in places such as Pictou and Digby are having trouble finding the care they need on weekends; and

Whereas although you may have trouble getting medical attention, the Tory red tape task force wants to make it easier to access shopping malls on Sundays; and

Whereas the failure of the red tape dog and pony show proves that the Premier's priorities are misdirected;

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier concentrate on providing health care for Nova Scotians rather than providing a higher profile for backbench MLAs on his Red Tape Reduction Task Force.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.

RESOLUTION NO. 3228

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

Whereas the so-called Red Tape Reduction Task Force is the Tory equivalent of a winter works grant, only this one goes to restless backbenchers; and

Whereas the Premier is just as responsible for statements by this task force as he is for the statements of any other Conservative caucus or Cabinet committee; and

Whereas small retailers outside metro are the group whose needs the Premier cited when he declared his opposition to Sunday shopping before the election;

[Page 8583]

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier should step out from behind any Tory trial balloons and make a clear statement on Sunday shopping to the rural retailers whose interests he placed first and foremost when he was seeking election to government.

Mr. Speaker, I seek waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Victoria.

RESOLUTION NO. 3229

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

Whereas many Canadians gave the supreme sacrifice to serve their country in times of war; and

Whereas on October 20, 2000, a ceremony was held in Eastern Passage to honour 30 sailors who died in the sinking of the HMCS Bras d'Or in World War II; and

Whereas all Canadians should be proud of the many sailors who died in the Battle of the Gulf of St. Lawrence;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House remember the sailors of the HMCS Bras d'Or and all those who gave their lives in defence of democracy.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

[Page 8584]

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect.

RESOLUTION NO. 3230

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

Whereas numerous seniors and disabled people have expressed concern over difficulty finding full-service gas stations; and

Whereas the solution is as simple as having an attendant on hand to operate self-serve pumps for people who are not able to do it for themselves; and

Whereas since this is Access Awareness Week;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Business and Consumer Services should move immediately to change the Motive Fuel and Fuel Oil Approval Regulations to ensure provision of full-service gas.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton West.

RESOLUTION NO. 3231

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

Whereas this morning's daily newspapers report that the Premier's red herring, the Red Tape Reduction Task Force, will recommend giving control over Sunday shopping to municipalities; and

[Page 8585]

Whereas this recommendation is just another example of a cop-out by this government when faced with a decision that it does not want to make; and

Whereas this task force was just a make work project to keep Tory backbenchers busy and out of the hair of Cabinet Ministers;

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier apologize to the people of Nova Scotia for misleading them through the creation of this task force which was a total waste of taxpayers' money.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Could I take a look at that resolution, please?

The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.

RESOLUTION NO. 3232

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

Whereas the government has released a list of legislation that it intends to call for second reading; and

Whereas that list does not include Bill No. 33, the Family Maintenance Act, or Bill No. 54, the Lobbyists' Registration Act; and

Whereas the Premier promised lobbyist registration legislation before, during and after the 1999 election and the Justice Minister was quick to bring Bill No. 33 to end illegal discrimination against gay and lesbian couples;

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier should explain what lobbyists are successfully urging his government to leave these measures on the order paper to die.

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.

[Page 8586]

[9:30 a.m.]

The honourable member for Pictou East.

RESOLUTION NO. 3233

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

Whereas two Pictou Landing firefighters were recently honoured for their 20 years of service to the fire department; and

Whereas Don McCulloch and Jackie MacDonald were both presented with the Governor General of Canada Exemplary Service Award for their 20 years of service; and

Whereas Governor General Adrienne Clarkson appropriately said at the service award in a speech last summer, "these medals are like throwing a stone in a pond, the ripples will reach to far shores. You have given of yourself so much through the fire service by achieving excellence and putting forward such an unselfish attitude. Firefighters are true heroes.";

Therefore be it resolved that MLAs extend our best wishes to both Don McCulloch and Jackie MacDonald for their outstanding service with the Pictou Landing Fire Department.

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 The Lakes.

RESOLUTION NO. 3234

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

[Page 8587]

Whereas Nova Scotians obviously felt that the Premier's Red Tape Task Force was a waste of time and money; and

Whereas this expensive dog and pony show attracted an average of just six people at meetings across the province; and

Whereas the red tape task force was just a make-work project to keep five Tory backbenchers out of sight for a few months;

Therefore be it resolved if the Premier really wanted the Red Tape Reduction Task Force to be useful, he would send them to Cape Breton to help clean-up the flood damage.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.

RESOLUTION NO. 3235

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

Whereas during the summer of 1999 election campaign, this government committed itself to "a comprehensive, non-partisan, multi-year plan for maintenance and upgrading of secondary roads, based on need rather than partisan politics"; and

Whereas this commitment to this comprehensive plan was to be completed within the first year of its mandate; and

Whereas Nova Scotians want to know the priority projects for secondary road improvements in this province;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Transportation and Public Works immediately fulfil this election commitment by making public this comprehensive, non-partisan, multi-year road plan.

[Page 8588]

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton West's resolution is in order and is tabled.

The honourable Leader of the Liberal Party.

RESOLUTION NO. 3236

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

Whereas the Music Industry Association of Nova Scotia held its annual awards gala on October 28th; and

Whereas the Clare musical group, Blou, was the only francophone group to be nominated for an award in the Musical Group of the Year category; and

Whereas Blou has performed before sellout crowds in Canada and in Europe;

Therefore be it resolved that even though Blou did not win the award as best group, they are to be congratulated for being the only francophone group to be nominated.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

[Page 8589]

RESOLUTION NO. 3237

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

Whereas accessible transportation is a priority to improve mobility of persons with disabilities; and

Whereas transportation for disabled persons is virtually non-existent in many parts of this province; and

Whereas the lack of accessible transportation denies disabled persons the opportunity the others take for granted such as going to church, movies, recreational centres, and other public facilities;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Community Services and the Minister of Transportation and Public Works meet with the municipalities to develop a dependable, province-wide accessible transportation service.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Lunenburg West.

RESOLUTION NO. 3238

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

Whereas the Minister of Justice appears to be doing nothing to allow the Lunenburg Correctional Centre to remain open; and

Whereas the minister has not done a cost-benefit analysis to ensure that the province is receiving value for money by closing the Lunenburg facility; and

[Page 8590]

Whereas the minister is in effect saying trust me, read my lips, I know it will save money, and don't confuse me with the details;

Therefore be it resolved that the minister immediately do a cost-benefit analysis of his planned Lunenburg Correctional Centre closure so that we can debate the facts and not the personal preferences of the minister.

I ask for waiver, Mr. Speaker.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.

RESOLUTION NO. 3239

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

Whereas it is becoming clear that the government tax cut to bar and restaurant owners will not result in lower prices for tourists or Nova Scotians; and

Whereas bar and restaurant owners are making it clear that they will pocket the tax cut to increase their own profits; and

Whereas perhaps that tax cut could have been better spent, like maybe on health care;

Therefore be it resolved that this government should now admit that, despite Tory claims to the contrary, Nova Scotian consumers and Nova Scotia's ability to attract tourists will not benefit from the 4.5 per cent tax cut to bar and restaurant owners.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

[Page 8591]

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

RESOLUTION NO. 3240

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

Whereas yesterday the Minister of Health said he is treating paramedic dispatchers with respect, as he treated paramedics with respect when they were forced to go on strike last year; and

Whereas it must have been another group of paramedics that the minister speaks of; and

Whereas paramedics were forced on strike by a government that had no respect for their concerns;

Therefore be it resolved that the Health Minister and the government adopt a new policy of respect towards paramedic dispatchers, so the mistakes of last year's labour dispute will not be repeated.

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

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

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

RESOLUTION NO. 3241

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

Whereas the owners of small businesses collectively form a vital part of our local economy; and

[Page 8592]

Whereas such entrepreneurs often work long hours with little fanfare; and

Whereas the East Hants Chamber of Commerce has seen fit to select Mr. Walter Collins of Collins Country Store in South Maitland as Entrepreneur of the Year;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly congratulate Mr. Collins on this fine recognition by his peers.

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 Victoria.

RESOLUTION NO. 3242

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

Whereas yesterday in this House the part-time Minister of Natural Resources dismissed the concerns of small-sawmill operators as confused; and

Whereas the only thing sawmillers are confused about is why this minister is trying to put them out of business; and

Whereas large fees imposed by this minister means that some sawmills may not be operating next year;

Therefore be it resolved that small-sawmill operators be congratulated for doing their share for sustainable forestry, despite having an unfair burden put on them by the Minister of Natural Resources.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver of notice.

[Page 8593]

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Centre.

RESOLUTION NO. 3243

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 UCCB Capers Men's Rugby Team recently won the Nova Scotia Men's Rugby Championship; and

Whereas they went on to play the University of New Brunswick team for the Maritime title; and

Whereas this game was played at the Glace Bay High field in near monsoon conditions and was won by the University College of Cape Breton;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the University College of Cape Breton Men's Rugby Team for winning the Maritime Championship by defeating the University of New Brunswick 12 to 5.

I seek waiver, Mr. Speaker.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton West.

[Page 8594]

RESOLUTION NO. 3244

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

Whereas the Acting Acting Minister of the Environment has claimed that Nova Scotia has reached a level of 50 per cent waste diversion; and

Whereas the concept of waste diversion was advanced and implemented by the previous Liberal Government; and

Whereas this level of waste diversion was achieved by all Nova Scotians working together because they care about the environment;

Therefore be it resolved that the Acting, Acting Minister of the Environment, when he talks about waste diversion, give credit to all who made this program a success, instead of sticking out his chest as though he were the sole person responsible for this achievement.

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. 3245

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

Whereas Prime Minister Chretien claimed in the November 8th's federal Leaders' debate that Alberta's Bill No. 11 has not yet taken effect; and

Whereas Bill No. 11 took effect on October 1st, and 37 private clinics are already operating under that legislation, getting public funds intended for health services that are available to all; and

[Page 8595]

Whereas most provinces tried without success to get federal backing for a health accord that closed the door on this tier of subsidized private care;

Therefore be it resolved that this House regrets that the Prime Minster was either too arrogant or to ignorant of the facts to admit that his government stood aside to let Alberta ignore its own citizens and put Bill No. 11's two-tier plan into effect.

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

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton South.

RESOLUTION NO. 3246

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

Whereas in true Tory fashion the Premier seems to have resigned his conscience to the fact that Sydney Steel requires government money to sell the plant despite his election promise and his promise to look after the interests of steelworkers; and

Whereas the Premier is probably sleeping well at night knowing he now supports an offshore oil and gas royalty regime that he once condemned as Opposition Leader; and

Whereas the Premier sees nothing wrong with supplying Sobeys with government money, even though he said he wouldn't give money to companies that competed with existing businesses during the last election;

Therefore be it resolved that members recognize, while the Premier sleepwalks through his term in office, the people of Nova Scotia will remember what he promised and they will make sure of it in the next election.

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

[Page 8596]

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.

RESOLUTION NO. 3247

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

Whereas federal Health Minister Allan Rock just campaigned in Sydney where he said that constituency has suffered poor representation since 1993; and

Whereas the representative during most of that time was one Russell MacLellan, a person who while an MP and Premier made no impression at all on Allan Rock; and

Whereas Allan Rock has helpfully reminded Cape Bretoners that their voice is lost whenever they elect a sheep who gets lost in the backbench flock;

Therefore be it resolved that Cabinet Ministers like Allan Rock should look to their own staff for yes-people instead of expecting Cape Bretoners and other Nova Scotians to be burdened with more forgettable Liberal sheep.

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 Timberlea-Prospect.

[Page 8597]

RESOLUTION NO. 3248

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

Whereas the residents of numerous subdivisions in the HRM are becoming increasingly frustrated with the Department of Transportation's process of determining paving priorities; and

Whereas residents have collected petitions after petitions requesting paving that apparently go nowhere; and

Whereas these residents would appreciate clarity on the method of determining these priority projects;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Transportation instruct his staff to assist residents in these communities with this concern about paving priorities in growing subdivisions.

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 North.

RESOLUTION NO. 3249

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

Whereas families who are raising a child/youth/adult with disabilities have concerns regarding the impending cutbacks and the review by the Department of Community Services; and

Whereas these cutbacks will have a negative effect on education and health services to children, youth and adults with disabilities; and

[Page 8598]

Whereas these families and individuals have a unique set of social, economic and community needs;

Therefore be it resolved that the government recognize that some individuals will always need life-long supports and will demonstrate compassion when introducing policies and future regulations.

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

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

Order, please. There has been request to revert the order of business to Introduction of the Bills.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

Bill No. 80 - An Act Respecting the Justice System and Public Administration in Nova Scotia. (Hon. Michael Baker)

[9:45 a.m.]

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

There has been a request to revert the order of business to Presenting and Reading Petition.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

[Page 8599]

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

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

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition on behalf of citizens in Truro and the surrounding areas, the operative clause reads, "We the undersigned are opposed to the planned cuts to the pediatric nursing staff at Colchester Regional Hospital scheduled to begin on November 2, 2000. We believe that a 50% reduction in nursing staff will put our children at risk of being treated in an unsafe health care environment. We demand that the administration of the Colchester Regional Hospital find alternative funding solutions." There are 1,001 signatures on this, with the 1,000 I tabled yesterday, that is 2,001, and I have affixed my signature.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto on an introduction.

MR. HOWARD EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, joining us today we have, I would like members of the House to note, a group from the Halifax Immigrant Learning Centre. They are here in the west gallery. Members of the House may wish to note that the Halifax Immigrant Learning Centre is located in Halifax-Fairview, the constituency represented by our late colleague, Eileen O'Connell. The members of two classes are here to observe us at our work. I would like to invite them to rise and be recognized.

First, in Class 3, we have their English as a Second Language instructor, Sherry Hassanali; along with her, we have Sultana Darwish, Elizabeth Cho, Seka Omicevic, Zong qi Zhang, Argirios Bistekos, Nijazi Elezi, Peyman Rowshan, Nagah Dalloul and Jasminka Gajic. In Class 4/5, we have two English as a Second Language instructors, Jayne Geldart and Jennifer Tobin; along with them, Hye-Young Choi, Eun Ha Hong, Young Ho Lee, Qamila Velija, Huda El Nour, Jasmina Kalic, Areej Bsaiso, Vera Lucia and Kaz Waclawik. I would like members of the House to give them a warm welcome to our proceedings. (Applause)

ORDERS OF THE DAY

GOVERNMENT BUSINESS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

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

[Page 8600]

PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 68.

Bill No. 68 - Occupational Health and Safety Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I want to make a few comments on Bill No. 68. Bill No. 68, pertains to the whole question of a sunset clause for regulations made pursuant to the Occupational Health and Safety Act. I don't remember hearing what the minister had to say when he introduced this bill at second reading, but I expect he might have said something like, it is housekeeping, it is in order to try to keep control of regulations, this sort of thing but frankly, I am aghast at what it is that this bill is designed to do. I would just bring to your attention, in Clause 2(1) where the sunset clause is set for, "The Temporary Workplace Traffic Control Regulations, the First Aid Regulations, the Disclosure of Information Regulations and the Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System Regulations . . .", that four years after this bill comes into force, those regulations will be - I don't know what you would call it - null and void, they will no longer exist.

Then Clause 2(2) refers to, ". . . the General Blasting Regulations, the Fall Protection and Scaffolding Regulations, the Occupational Health Regulations, the Occupational Safety General Regulations and the Appeal Panel Regulations . . .", that they will be repealed after five years of this subsection coming into force. In other words, Mr. Speaker, there will no longer be regulations pertaining to these issues when that time period has come. I will tell you why it causes me such concern because, as a member of this caucus, I have watched while the Department of Labour has toiled over its staff and others involved have toiled over the development of some very important regulations, some of the ones that are referred to here, trying to update them, modernize them, ensure that they are responsive to the conditions at the worksite, that they are contemporary, that they are enforceable and so on. Some of them have taken many years to be developed.

In fact, if I can refer to my notes here, that it was back in the period from 1993 to 1995 that staff and the Minister of Labour's Advisory Council on Occupational Health and Safety worked tirelessly to come up with general regulations for the Occupational Health and Safety Act. They presented those regulations to the minister's office in, I believe, 1995 but many of those general regulations have yet to be brought forward and put into effect. That is seven years it has taken, a seven year process, in order to develop regulations, Mr. Speaker, and many of them still haven't been brought into place. The regulations on occupational health, the regulations on violence in the workplace, regulations on indoor air quality, regulations on underground mining.

[Page 8601]

My concern is that, according to Bill No. 68, once these regulations are repealed, how long is it going to take us to get a new set of regulations? Maybe the minister has a plan in place or some idea in mind that these regulations will be worked on on an ongoing basis and updated constantly so that this will, in fact, be a process whereby regulations will not be thrown out. In other words, there won't be general regulations pertaining to the Occupational Health and Safety Act that don't exist, they will just constantly be modernized. Maybe that is what he is referring to but there has been absolutely no explanation provided by that minister, certainly not in this bill, on how that will take place.

Other members before me have raised their concerns about this issue, particularly as it relates to some important occupational health and safety events or some important events that have happened over the past decade as it relates to occupational health and safety, some very serious workplace accidents where fatalities have resulted that have brought incredible attention to bear on the whole issue of occupational health and safety rules and regulations.

They referred to the Westray explosion on May 9, 1992, Mr. Speaker, where 26 miners lost their lives. As you know, there have been some very significant investigations that have followed from that event. Yesterday, I went back to Justice Richard's commissioned report, Report of the Westray Mine Public Inquiry by Justice K. Peter Richard, Commissioner, where he spent some considerable time and effort in examining the events around the disaster at Westray.

One of the major concerns that was raised was around the role of the Department of Labour and the Department of Natural Resources as it pertained to not only responding to the legislation in terms of the mines Act, which related to permitting and so on, but also the Occupational Health and Safety Act and the Coal Mines Regulation Act as it pertained to the government's responsibility at ensuring that permits were granted in a way that ensured the mining that was carried out was done so in a responsible and proper manner, that a safety regime was put in place so that the lives of the people who worked there were protected.

What the investigation showed, was that all the way down the line there was some very serious abdication of responsibility, Mr. Speaker, and a real gap between what the legislation said, the regulations demanded, and what was actually done by public servants and politicians. That gap is not going to be closed by getting rid of regulations. In fact, the report talks over and over again, when it comes to responsibility, it talks about how important it is that the Department of Labour ensures any company complies with the Coal Mines Regulation Act and the Occupational Health and Safety Act. It talks about how important it is that in the Department of Labour, for example, that those officials are properly trained, because it raised real concerns that the people who were left to enforce those Acts were not adequately trained, did not properly understand their responsibilities, were not being held accountable and that this led to the problem.

[Page 8602]

One of the ways to deal with that was to properly train, to ensure that there was greater clarity in the roles and responsibilities of departmental staff, and ensure, Mr. Speaker, that there were additional resources brought to the administration of this particular legislation to ensure compliance both by staff, who had to enforce it, and by staff who had to work with other employers or employees, or both, to ensure that the rules were followed.

[10:00 a.m.]

This report talks a lot about - I refer to the Justice Richard report - refers a lot to political interference, to responsibility at the political level, raised concerns that in some cases ministers did not understand their role, did not understand the degree of responsibility that they had vis-à-vis their legislation that they were responsible for, and the actual events around the granting of permits and the enforcement of that legislation.

It is only going to exacerbate that kind of a situation when you have a vacuum which will result from a lack of regulations. Not once in this report, or for that matter in Ian Plummer's report - which was a review of the Occupational Health and Safety Division done in 1998, it was done after the Westray investigation, or at the same time and because of other events that were taking place around the Department of Labour - in neither of these reports does it suggest that the workplace is over-regulated, or that there is staff at the Department of Labour sitting around with nothing to do. Nowhere does it say that people are completely up to snuff, they don't require any particular training, that workplaces, employers, and employees groups, are completely versed in all of the regulations and all the legislation pertaining to their responsibilities. Nowhere in any of these reports or in any reports, from anybody who has any knowledge of these issues whatsoever, has it been suggested that the action that should be taken is to get rid of regulations.

I suggest to you, and to the minister responsible, that until he has a plan in place and a process that has proven itself to develop regulations in a responsible and timely manner that he should not bring forward a bill like this which eliminates those very regulations. They are far, far too important.

Surely all Nova Scotians understand that after what has happened in the past decade in this province; surely we understand that these issues are far too important to leave them hanging. Better to have regulations, I would suggest to you, that may be a couple of years out of date than to have no regulations at all governing things like violence in the workplace, governing things like the responsibility of employees and employer groups in the workplace.

I do not know who is calling for this; I would like to know. I frankly don't begin to want to question the motives or what is behind this too strenuously. It is not like I don't do that, and haven't done that before in this place, but I think the longer I am here, the more I realize it is not particularly appropriate, because I think that minister is as concerned about issues with respect to workplace safety and health as I am or as anyone else is. He and I may

[Page 8603]

differ in terms of how to go about ensuring that workplaces are properly safe and healthy, but I am sure that is it.

When I was thinking about this issue yesterday and listening to some of the debates, I was taken back to that time in May 1992, and subsequently the fallout from this disaster. Mr. Speaker, that was my first time in the House. I was elected in August 1991, and the first session that was held since then that I attended this House was in the spring of 1992. I was the Labour Critic, and I had to respond in this House through questions and through debate on the matter with respect to the Westray disaster. I can tell you that I remember trying to sort through all the regulations. I remember getting in my office, getting in my hands - inches, I was going to say - or pounds of paper that dealt with how this whole question was handled, the development of the Westray Mine, the involvement of the government with Curragh Resources and the role the departmental staff played in enforcing the regulations in the Coal Mines Regulation Act and the Occupational Health and Safety Act.

I will tell you, when you look at all of these issues with the pictures of the devastation of that mine, of that workplace, being blown to pieces, it really brings to mind exactly what it is you are dealing with. Suddenly the words on the paper jump right out at you, when you look at things that talk about the role of the inspector at the mine site, you begin to see, Mr. Speaker, how important it is that there is diligence, that there is attention to great detail. I used to imagine that inspector going into the work site. I had the opportunity to go up and talk to some of those coal miners about what it was like in that workplace, and how they would be coming out from down below, and the inspector in some cases would come to the first level or just inside the top. That inspector would come in and ask the foreman or ask the general mine manager what was going on. They weren't in a position or weren't interested in talking to the miners and weren't listening to the concerns and weren't prepared to carry out their responsibilities.

It brought home to me when I later saw the reports by Justice Richard and by Ian Plummer, we talked about education and accountability, how important that was. How important it was, Mr. Speaker, that each and every staff person at the Department of Labour be made to understand that if they didn't carry through with their responsibilities as laid out in these regulations, that they would be held accountable. If they didn't carry forward with their responsibilities under these regulations, and that these regulations not leave any doubt in their minds or anyone else's minds what their responsibilities were, the consequences either to their jobs or the consequences in the workplace, if they didn't carry forward with their responsibilities.

You know, it is awfully easy sometimes, and I know that staff at the department get this an awful lot when they go out there and do their inspections, employers say to them, what are you hassling us for? We haven't had an accident in six months or in one year or in two years. What is the problem here? You are slowing us down, you are costing us money. We can't afford that, we operate on a small enough margin, and so on and so forth.

[Page 8604]

What those people have to remember, what those inspectors, the staff of the Department of Labour have to remember - in most cases they do - is that in any workplace, if these rules are ignored, if these rules are not clear, if responsibility is not accepted by everyone in the workplace and if they are not encouraged, through vigilant enforcement, Mr. Speaker, to be responsive and responsible and diligent, then the result, in a split second, could be the ruination of a worker's life, through a back problem, through some other kind of injury where, through no fault of their own, that worker is suddenly on the sidelines, that worker is suddenly unable to work, is unable to do what they have done for however many years, or that worker is dead.

In a split second, that is how fast it can happen. Nobody expects it, nobody intends for it to happen, nobody sets it up to happen that way but my goodness surely we recognize, after everything that has happened in this province and in this country and throughout the world and the history of workplace safety and health, you don't get a second chance in most cases. You don't get a second chance and that is why it is so important for us here in this House, that is why it is so important for the minister to pay attention to the details.

I don't know if this was recommended by the red tape commission, that someone referred to it - it might even have been me, I forget - as a Summer Works Program for Tory backbenchers, but I think that whole question isn't a bad idea of reviewing rules and regulations and so on but let's remember why they are there. Let's remember, in this case, why these regulations are in place and how important they are to the health and safety of workers, the responsibility of employers.

Everybody is concerned with these issues, surely. I don't know how they gauge it, whether they say that there happens to be 17 inches of regulations here and our rule that we have established for ourselves, through our red tape commission, is that per department there can only be 15 inches of regulations. (Interruption) I beg your pardon? (Interruption) The member for Preston had an insightful piece of information which I wish he would share. I didn't quite pick it up but I am sure it was good. (Interruption) I can get by without it, the minister says.

The point is that there is some sense, I know from members opposite and from other people out there, that regulations are nothing but encumbrances, they get in your way, they slow you down, they cost you money but regulations, in this case - and I would suggest in many cases - are there for a reason. We need to balance the purpose of those regulations and ensure that for expediency's sake we don't discard regulations that may leave gaps which lead to very serious problems, Mr. Speaker. I know this minister and members opposite wouldn't want to have any part of that. I seriously urge them to consider what it is that is being done here.

[Page 8605]

As I have said, I have taken the opportunity to go through the Plummer report and Justice Richard's recommendations with respect to the Westray Inquiry, and not in one place did I hear them say that there were too many regulations. At no time have I heard the minister or any of his staff or anyone else involved in workplace safety and health that regulations are spilling out the doors, and that we have regulations that are being drafted left, right and centre and being approved and they are tripping over each other, and that we need to have a sunset clause or some way to make sure that we can get the old away because the new is coming in so fast.

[10:15 a.m.]

We have a problem in the Department of Labour, I would suggest to you, Mr. Speaker. In these reports the authors have argued that what the department needs is not less resources but more resources for training and for enforcement so that these important rules, often life-determining rules, are properly attended to and are properly enforced. Not once in here did they say that we needed less regulations.

Instead of paying attention to the details, instead of paying attention to the recommendations which say more training, more accountability, more clarity, greater attention to the responsibilities of that particular department, which is going to cost money, but is intended ultimately to save lives and to save injuries, I am concerned that because the government says they don't have any money, maybe around the Cabinet Table the ministers, collectively, have said, when the Minister of Labour says he needs more money in his department to follow through with the recommendations of the Richard report, of the Plummer report, they say to him no, sorry, you can't do that. What his staff recommends is, well, we don't have enough staff to be able to carry forward with these issues, so let's jettison some of these regulations.

That undoubtedly sounds a bit foolish, when I say it it sounds kind of foolish, but I can't get my head around why it is that we are heading in this direction. I honestly can't. I don't understand it. As I said before, it has taken so long now to get regulations drafted on a number of issues around general health, violence in the workplace, indoor air quality that even in four years, which is the sunset clause here, to come up with new regulations, under the current system, it appears to be almost impossible. I have not seen any evidence that there is a better system, a system that moves more smoothly.

They have been working on new underground mining rules, regulations and legislation that is still not ready. The excuse has been, or the explanation has been - I know people who have been working on this legislation and on the regulations - is that we don't have any underground mining under provincial jurisdiction. But we are about to. When the new private operator takes over the former Devco operations, that will be a provincial responsibility. As it stands, we don't have the legislation in place, other than the Coal Mines Regulation Act dating back 100 years ago which is still in place, but we saw after the Westray examination

[Page 8606]

that that legislation, those rules, were completely inadequate. They did not pertain to modern mining processes and did not follow anywhere near the rules that have been set up under federal legislation to deal with underground mine safety.

So I say to you and other members here, Mr. Speaker, that this may seem rather innocuous, that a sunset clause on regulations, not a big deal, right, we just want to make sure that - you know we do that in our Party. We have sunset clauses on some of our resolutions that are passed at conventions. I do not even remember what it is, five years maybe, that after a period of time those resolutions will be taken out of the policy book because they do not relate or they need to be updated, or whatever. I know that our process is that if a committee says that there is a particular resolution pertaining to health care, or health and safety, for example, that is outdated and is about to lapse, then we will decide at a convention how to modernize that or decide whether or not that is an issue that is still relevant to the public affairs of the Province of Nova Scotia.

I think that makes some sense and that may be the intention of the minister, but as I have tried to outline here, Mr. Speaker, it just does not seem to work that way in the Department of Labour, in this government. Quite frankly, for the NDP, let's say, to come up with a new resolution on nationalized Pharmacare for the Province of Nova Scotia, whether that takes six months or a year to get renewed, isn't going to have, at this point anyway, a whole heck of a lot of impact or import on how things happen in the province on that particular issue. But if, in this case, we suddenly find ourselves without regulations pertaining to the Fall Protection and Scaffolding Regulations, then we are in trouble and people's lives are at stake, are in jeopardy, because those rules are not in place.

We know that those rules, and the enforcement of those rules, can save lives. We know that. That is why they are there and, when they are not there and when they are not properly enforced, problems occur. Tragedies have occurred, Mr. Speaker. So the consequence of this decision and the consequence of Bill No. 68, I say to you is one that all members should be very concerned about. I know that members of our caucus are very concerned about it, and others in this House. I am sure that the minister will do his best perhaps to give us some indication of why he is heading in this direction, and maybe he can offer some information to deal with some of the concerns that I have raised. But I have to say to you that, unless I hear some answers to that question, I cannot support Bill No. 68.

I think it is foolhardy, Mr. Speaker. I think the minister and his officials are playing fast and loose with something that is far too important to the safety and to the health of working women and men in the Province of Nova Scotia, and I would hope that he and other members of the front bench would reconsider whether to move this legislation forward. Thank you very much.

[Page 8607]

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

MR. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, as they say in cards, let's get the kids off the street and say right up front that as this bill stands now, I will not be supporting this bill. Let's make it clear, and hopefully over the next short while as I give my presentation, it will become clear why we don't support this bill.

Mr. Speaker, in front of me we have a summary of Justice Richard's report and Dr. Ian Plummer's report, one in particular is Westray and one is the aftermath of that report. Even in the crassness of politics, if we say to this government, well the one thing you do seem to understand is money, are we going to say we have wasted money on these two reports, and we are not going to listen to them? That is one way I think of getting this government's attention, is it clearly wasted money?

I am going to get back to those two reports later on in my speech, Mr. Speaker, but I am quite disturbed by a couple of things in the bill, not the least of which - and I think we have talked about it - is the word repeal. I am hoping maybe at some point that word may be changed or clarified; using the word repeal. By using that word, what we are saying is, they are gone. That's it. They are off the books, and the regulations are not in effect any more. I don't think that it is this government's intention - I hope it is not this government's intention - to leave workers and employers out there with no regulations, no guidelines if you will. There is absolutely no reason for this. Even the most far-out-there employer who wants to go and say, well we are just too encumbered with government regulations, even the most strident in that area, I think would say, but we do need some guidance. There has to be a third party involved here to make sure both sides are protected.

It comes to mind, Mr. Speaker, we have debated a couple of bills in this House just recently, what we refer to as the Sysco bill, I guess, and again on Community Services. Now we have Bill No. 68 in front of us. What is particularly troublesome is all three bills seem to lack real clarity of purpose. I am hoping that what the bill jumps out and says is not what the minister's intent is. It is with that in mind that intent has to be made very clear. We have had problems, as I said, with the Sysco bill as it pertains to the environment. We have problems with the Community Services bill as it pertains to how it would, I believe, punish the poor, and now with Bill No. 68 how this will affect workplace safety.

This bill will, as speakers before me have said, undo years of work by the Occupational Health and Safety Advisory Board. That board, Mr. Speaker, is made up of individuals from both sides of this, I would want to call them interest groups, one being labour and the other being management. We are talking about regulations that weren't thought up overnight, that weren't and I think in fairness, a knee-jerk reaction, we will say, to the Westray disaster. It wasn't like that horrific disaster happened and tomorrow we will run in and say, okay, everything in the world has to change because there was an accident and we are looking to blame people with these regulations. No, Mr. Speaker, the Advisory Council have plodded

[Page 8608]

along, and some would say, and I was probably one of them at times, that the system was too slow. But they worked in consultation with one and other, both sides.

[10:30 a.m.]

Now, with Bill No. 68, what that would see us do here, Mr. Speaker, is their work would go for naught, because then the minister would have the authority to go and say, okay, this one, this one, this one we don't like and it is gone. What's the criteria for getting rid of some of these regulations? What is the overall purpose? What could one say, well, that doesn't fit in today's workplace, so we are going to get rid of it? We are not talking, I don't think, about a bill that says, for safety purposes you have to hitch your horse 20 feet away from the front of the saloon. They talk about this. (Interruption) That's an environmental question the minister says, and this acting acting minister would know about the environment.

Mr. Speaker, these are regulations that no longer apply, but what we are talking about is about a minister, whether it is this minister sitting in that position or another minister or indeed another government altogether, who would be sitting there and would be making unilateral decisions on what is prudent to today's workplace and what is not. I am not saying that we as legislators should abdicate our role and say, we don't make laws, debate laws and so on. I don't think it is good for this legislative angle of government to say, okay, we know what's best.

Let me talk for a few moments on what this government has done recently. They had a commission go around this province, Mr. Speaker, which they refer to as their red tape commission. Some of my colleagues call it the red neck commission. It was a partisan commission, and this partisan commission is going to come forward with some sort of report. Now this report is not, I may add, reflective of all Nova Scotians but one has to ask, how much faith will this government put in an extremely partisan commission's report? Why would they send out this group across the province to do that? I mean they have people elected from one end of the province to other and I am sure from time to time even their MLAs hear from their constituents and tell them what is wrong.

So why do we need the expense of this purely partisan group to try to tell us what is wrong? It is not even tell us, we have left them to interpret what people have been saying. This government did not take the opportunity to, let's say, take a committee of this House - the Economic Development Committee, of which I happen to be a member of - and say, well, this is an appropriate body to go out and talk to people across this province about business practices and are we tied up in too much red tape. Well, they decided not to do that and what did they do, again, they went to the partisan group.

[Page 8609]

It amazes me, Mr. Speaker. Sometimes I guess if you talk to the right people, if you talk to drug lords, they would tell you that there is too much red tape because they have police chasing them, so that is the problem with a one-Party view. Well, this Party may be government by virtue of winning more seats in this province. The didn't win them all, and I think they have to govern accordingly. They have to govern accordingly because they are here for a short time.

I want to move on a bit, and I want to talk about some of the things about Justice Richard's report on Westray and Dr. Plummer's report on OH&S, because you don't want to become one-dimensional when you talk about any one bill, but it is hard in the Province of Nova Scotia not to use the Westray disaster as the benchmark for worker safety. It was certainly a folly to say the least of the employer in conjunction with a government that wanted to create jobs that caused that disaster. Mr. Speaker, I am sure I don't have to tell you that the former Premier, Donald Cameron, got on the witness stand during Justice Richard's inquiry and clearly, clearly blamed the workers. As my colleague for Dartmouth North said, it was a shame.

Mr. Speaker, many years ago, one of the very first courses I took in the trade union movement was on occupational health and safety. One of the first things you learn in occupational health and safety is that there is no such things as unsafe work, just an unsafe working condition. Now, who are we going to rely on now to tell us that our workplaces are safe or unsafe? Is it after five years? Is the criteria going to be, well, holy jumpins, we have had no accident; if that regulation wasn't there, we could have made another $1 million? It was a regulation because nobody got hurt. Let's get rid of that regulation, because that is causing the slowdown of the economic engine of this province, because we could have made another $1 million. Is that the criteria to repeal that section, to get that regulation out of there? Is that what it means? Is it all economics? Is it economically driven?

What is interesting too, is the negative position of this bill. It is to be reviewed in the light of repealing, not adding. That is what I find offensive, because what is really interesting, I think, to paraphrase the minister in his words of moving this bill towards second reading, Mr. Speaker, is the fact that we live in times of great change, and there is a new paradigm out there. Well, in fact, I agree with him, but is this Bill No. 68 there to say we are going to leave this open to add more regulations, to add regulations that will help workers?

Mr. Speaker, there is still a fight in North America about the effects of working day in and day out in front of terminals. There is no real definitive work yet to say what the effects of whether it is carpel tunnel syndrome or the chemical sensitivities, what radiation effects come from a cathode ray tube. We don't know that. We have been trying to research it and trying to find it, but the negativity of this bill says, oh, no, we are not going to add anything. If we open this up in four years' time, we are going to repeal. We are not going to add anything to that. That is extremely offensive, but where are we at with this?

[Page 8610]

I will tell you a story about workers' safety. I once had a friend of mine who worked for The Globe and Mail. She was an extremely hard worker and a very good reporter, but because of years working on typewriters then onto terminals, she developed a severe case of carpal tunnel syndrome and could not operate her keyboard anymore. So the employer, realizing her value to their operation, supplied the worker with a voice-activated computer, which was a great idea. But, what happened - with voice-activated computers at that time and I am sure it stands today - your diction had to be so that it overloaded her vocal chords, overworked them and now she can barely talk. Does this bill go in and say we should look at those types of things? No, it talks in the negative. It talks of getting rid of, not adding to.

What is really amazing today is these people - whether it is the people who give rise to the Alliance Party which some of the people across the way espouse to or whatever, this whole idea of, this is what this country is all about. This country is, I believe, the greatest country in the world, but let's not forget that the vast majority of people came over here because government gave them land. It was granted to them, so it comes down from us, but yet they want to go on this idea of individualism that really was never ever a part of this country. It was collectivism, our own confederation was built on this.

If indeed we were ever to go back and look at these, should we leave the whole idea of revisiting regulations in the hands of the minister? Well, I suggest there is no way that should happen. If we left things in the hands of the minister, we are opening ourselves to so many problems. I will go back to the Westray situation because this is interesting. We had a minister - and I want to say at the outset this is no real slight on this gentleman's character, but it was, I think, a better snapshot of what that government thought of worker involvement in the workplace - who was so unaware of his own regulations, if we can remember in this House those who were there and those outside, I think that minister was embarrassed by his lack of knowledge of workplace safety. Again, I want to reiterate, that is not a backhand slight at that individual. What it is, it is a condemnation of a government that did not care about workers' rights. It was, if you will, their assumption of a junior minister. It was not important, we will get by and whatever. We can hearken back to those days that the Premier was scrambling to find someone to act as a spokesperson because it had gotten away from them. That was a shame.

[10:45 a.m.]

Is that what we are looking at again? Is leaving it in the hands of a minister, and I am not saying this particular minister, it could be any minister who does not have the sensitivity towards worker safety, and we are up to that again. Certainly, when it came to speaking about the tragedy and trying to, as you would say, put the government spin on it, it didn't mind taking people from the outside in, because it knew it had been caught short on the Westray situation. Yet, the same Party that went headlong into that, we are now supposed to say, oh yes, great idea, we are going to roll back the clock.

[Page 8611]

That is what really perplexes me about this legislation. In one instance the minister talks about being forward-thinking and saying things change; on the other hand, he wants to go back and talk about, well, we will get these regulations off. Mr. Speaker, that doesn't work. (Interruption) I hear the member for Richmond saying repetition. Sometimes when you are talking to certain groups you have to repeat and repeat.

In the Plummer report, regarding occupational health and safety, it says that the Occupational Health and Safety Advisory Council has been established to advise the minister on the administration of the Act and regulations in any matters related to occupational health and safety. What role are these people to be playing? If this government wants to just say no, we don't take your advice, it is of no value to us, that I as a minister can really put my foot down, get rid of legislation that I think is offensive, or that certain friends think is offensive.

Mr. Speaker, two of my colleagues from my Party have already stood in their place and gave their assessment of this bill. I will not be standing here much longer, but I would hope that the minister would look at this bill and realize it does not serve the workers of this province in any great way, it gives too much power to the minister. We have already seen what that power can do. I would ask the minister to table this bill, see what happens. Just put it aside, and let's just see. Let the Occupational Health and Safety Advisory Council see what they can do.

Mr. Speaker, I think that these regulations, as with any regulations, should be visited from time to time, but not in this manner; it is truly a negative manner, it is a take-away not an add-on. I will be taking my place and asking this minister to reconsider the content of this bill.

MR. SPEAKER: If I recognize the honourable Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations it will be to close debate on second reading of Bill No. 68, the Occupational Health and Safety Act.

The honourable Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations.

HON. ANGUS MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, in the context of this bill, I am on my feet as the Acting Minister of the Environment and Labour. First of all, I want to thank the honourable members who have participated in the debate. I have attempted, as much as possible, to listen to them, which isn't always easy to do, but I did make a good effort.

I can say, Mr. Speaker, that as I listened to the debate, I appreciate some of the concerns that honourable members brought forward. The debate, in my view, was a debate that is well worth having in the House and reconfirms my ideas as to why we go through the process of debate because good reaction takes place, people look at what you are attempting to do and you see where your intentions are not always necessarily matched with one's perception of your intentions as it is put forward in the legislation. So it was very useful to

[Page 8612]

listen to honourable members react to what they saw, and I will come back in a few moments to discuss some of that.

There were some other matters raised. The member for Cape Breton West spoke about the workplace violence regulations. I just want to set the record straight, Mr. Speaker, that those regulations were sent back by the previous Priorities and Planning Committee and they were sent back without comment. They are currently being reviewed by the Advisory Council and I look forward to them coming forward from the Advisory Council in the near future.

Mr. Speaker, the intent of the government with this legislation is not to bring Nova Scotians to the point where regulations would fall off the table and there would be no regulations in place to either replace them or to get regulations that were updated. That is not at all the intent of the government. The intent is that we be forced to deal with regulations and to keep them, as I said in the beginning of second reading of the debate, make them living documents, documents that are current, up to date, and much has been said about us shrinking the regulations or expanding regulations. If we take into account the impact of technology on our society, it could well be that the requirement for regulations may shrink in some capacity in some areas. In other areas because of new technologies, new ways of doing business, it may be that we need to come up with other regulations or additional regulations that we have not yet thought of. One thing is certain, regulations need to be reviewed because they need to be kept up to date. All honourable members know there were references in the regulations that were replaced that were totally irrelevant to today's society and today's workplace and it is appropriate that they be gotten rid of.

What we are attempting to do, Mr. Speaker, is put in place a means whereby these will be addressed on an ongoing basis. I can tell honourable members of the House that I will, based on the comments I have heard, have a good look at the wording that is in the legislation and if I can find words that live up to our intentions with respect to the regulation and at the same time deal with some of the concerns - and I am sure I cannot deal with them all, but deal with some of the concerns - that were raised by honourable members, I will undertake to do that and see what we can come forward with as the legislation proceeds through the House.

Once again, Mr. Speaker, I want to thank all honourable members for their participation and I look forward to the bill proceeding to the next stage.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for second reading of Bill No. 68. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

Ordered that this bill be referred to the Committee on Law Amendments.

[Page 8613]

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order today, one that I think is an extremely important point, and one which I think is contemptuous of this House and the Law Amendments Committee process. This morning in the Law Amendments Committee, without any advance warning, without any knowledge that the bill was even going to be brought before the Law Amendments Committee process for consideration, the bill dealing with Sysco, the bill that the minister only late on Tuesday evening tabled the agreement that went along with that, that bill was voted back on a motion by the member for Halifax Bedford Basin, on a motion brought forward, that bill was voted on and ordered back to this House to the Committee of the Whole without any amendments.

That flies against the understanding that we had based on the comments that were made by the minister, by comments made by the Premier, and there was absolutely no agreement made with any of the House Leaders of any of the various caucuses. Now, Mr. Speaker, the government, the Premier himself, on the radio this morning was saying that there were some problems with the bill in terms of clarity. Nobody had an opportunity in this province to get a copy of the very secretly guarded agreement that the minister kept and would only release after - after - the bill had passed second reading.

We were told there would be an opportunity at the Law Amendments Committee process for that agreement to be examined along with the legislation. I have never seen this kind of action in my 16 years in this House, never seen it, Mr. Speaker but by the government's action, I would suggest that they are putting lie to the commitments that were made unless they agree to recommit that bill back to the Law Amendments Committee so that citizens of this province, should they wish to make a presentation to the Law Amendments Committee, would have an opportunity to do so.

I suggest that the actions that were taken this morning are an affront to all members of this House, an affront to the Law Amendments Committee and, even more importantly, an affront to Nova Scotians from one end of this province to the other. Mr. Speaker, I would ask that you rule that the procedures have been violated. I would also urge the Government House Leader whom I understood - and I haven't spoken to him directly - I don't think even the Government House Leader had known the bill was going to be called up at the Law Amendments Committee stage today, although he wouldn't necessarily know because he is not the head of the Law Amendments Committee process, but I certainly would not think that the Government House Leader, with his many years of experience in this House, would support such tactics.

I would like to see the government members make a commitment that they will vote to have that bill recommitted back to the Law Amendments Committee so that the Law Amendments Committee can do the job that they are charged to do. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

[Page 8614]

MR. SPEAKER: Before I recognize other honourable members, I would just comment that the honourable member appears to be bringing, as per Beauchesne, a point of order to this Legislature that certainly allegedly meets the requirements of being a point of order. However, I would say at this point that it appears as if the honourable member feels that an agreement that he had with other honourable members has been breached.

MR. HOLM: Clarification. It's a precedent, Mr. Speaker . . .

MR. SPEAKER: A precedent, okay.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, there was no intention to drag the bill back from the Law Amendments Committee prematurely. It has been done, although the bill as yet has not been returned here, I would suggest to the honourable member. (Interruptions) Well, pardon me, but there was no agreement made as far as I know as to how that bill would progress through the Law Amendments Committee. It went to the Law Amendments Committee, there were no representations made. If it is the wish of the House that the bill be returned to the Law Amendments Committee, I have no difficulty whatsoever with that.

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

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Having sat on the Law Amendments Committee for close to six years on that process, what transpired today was undoubtedly one of the most unprecedented acts that we have ever witnessed. That's first and foremost.

[11:00 a.m.]

There are certain precedents and traditions that are afforded through this legislative process unique to any other jurisdiction in Canada. The honourable Government House Leader knows that but, Mr. Speaker, it is even more concerning than just the Sysco bill. The fact that the same individual, the same member put a motion limiting the number of presentations that could be heard at Law Amendments on the Community Services bill (Interruption)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I wonder in an attempt to be helpful, we have an agreement from the government to refer (Interruption) Honourable members, is it agreed to refer the bill back to the Law Amendments Committee?

Is it agreed?

[Page 8615]

The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid brought a point of order to the floor. It is Bill No. 70.

MR. MACKINNON: On a point, I was up on that, he already had the floor.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Order.

MR. HOLM: Mr. Speaker, if I can, I support what the member is saying, that he has the right to continue his point of order on the other.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Would the honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid please take his seat.

Honourable members, is it agreed to refer the piece of legislation back to the Law Amendments Committee and does the honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid wish to make a motion? The point of order is about that legislation and we are not going to get off on other issues and other matters that don't pertain to the point of order at this particular time.

MR. HOLM: Yes, Mr. Speaker, I would like to make a motion, however . . .

MR. MACKINNON: This is unprecedented. I am trying to make a point on a point of order and you shut me down before I even finished making the point and then started entertaining a motion.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member's point of order was not relevant to the topic that was brought to the Speaker's attention. I am dealing with the topic that was brought to my attention, the honourable Government House Leader said he agrees to refer it back and I am looking for a motion to do that. We will recognize the honourable member for Cape Breton West at a later time.

MR. HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I am trying to be as helpful as I can here. I don't think that we can say a motion to refer it back because it technically hasn't been put on the table yet. However, we could make a motion that this House unanimously asks that the Law Amendments Committee reconsider its motion to refer Bill No. 70 back to this House and we ask that they open up the process once more to receive representations on Bill No. 70.

Now, the wording may not be exactly according to Beauchesne, but I think the intent of what I am trying to do is very clear. If people understand the intent, Mr. Speaker, that I think goes along with what the Government House Leader was suggesting the government would be willing to do and I so move.

[Page 8616]

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is essentially to refer Bill No. 70 back to the Law Amendments Committee for potential presentation.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. What transpired as well before at the Law Amendments Committee was unprecedented and goes against the very spirit and intent of this entire legislative process that we have been so proud of for more than 175 years. It is unique to any jurisdiction in this country and what the honourable member for Halifax Bedford Basin did was totally in defiance of the spirit and the intent of the traditions and the precedents of this House.

What this honourable member did, Mr. Speaker, was to put a motion disallowing any more presentations on the Community Services Minister's bill that is before Law Amendments saying if all the presentations aren't made by the end of Tuesday, no more presentations are allowed before that committee. That is a closure.

Mr. Speaker, I recall when the Public Gardens bill, the Commons bills were up and the Government House Leader well knows what happened there. There were over 110 or 115 presentations that were allowed to come and, yes, when the honourable former Attorney General from down the Valley, I forget his name, he became a judge, Harry How, he sat for hours and hours and days and days because he believed in that democratic process.

Mr. Speaker, the rights and the privileges of all Nova Scotians are being thwarted by this process and we have to put some checks and balances in here or we might as well just shut it down now and go home.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. One of the most revered parts and unique traditions of this House is the Law Amendments Committee. Having served on the Law Amendments Committee from the first moment that I was fortunate enough to be elected, I would ask in common decency that the member for Halifax Bedford Basin withdraw in Law Amendments today the absolute attempt to cut off for members opposite the opportunity to listen to loyal Nova Scotians, to what she says are ordinary Nova Scotians.

[Page 8617]

We are hearing from them, Mr. Speaker. We are hearing from ordinary Nova Scotians. There are many more of them to come and to cut it off is unprecedented. So I ask her to return to Law Amendments, and out of common decency to ordinary Nova Scotians, withdraw that motion.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Justice.

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, first of all and foremost, my submission is that is not a point of order. Second of all, the honourable members opposite forget one little essential fact, is that there was nobody who wanted to present anything after Tuesday.

MR. ESTABROOKS: There might be somebody on Tuesday.

MR. BAKER: And what are we supposed to do, stay there for years waiting for somebody who might come forward? The problem is they want to obstruct the bill, Mr. Speaker. There is no point of order. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I guess what I would say regarding the points of order is that it does appear that perhaps tradition has been somewhat breached and I think what we did as honourable members (Interruptions)

Order, please. Order, please. I just want to conclude by saying I think that all honourable members did the right thing by supporting the motion to refer it back to the Committee on Law Amendments. So it is over, okay.

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. We are dealing with Bill No. 62. The Law Amendments Committee has without notice, the government moved a motion to end the ability for residents of this province to come forward and continue to provide submissions.

With due respect, Mr. Speaker, I think that is what the member for Timberlea-Prospect and the member for Cape Breton West, not with regard to Bill No. 70, with regard to Bill No. 62, and I believe it was a point of order and maybe on my point of order I will re-raise this, that this House order the Law Amendments Committee to reconsider its decision with regard to ending submissions on Bill No. 62 and that the Law Amendments Committee continue to allow those who want to speak, those citizens who want to have an opportunity to talk, those ordinary Nova Scotians who are directly impacted by the cuts of this government, that they have an opportunity to continue to speak before the Law Amendments Committee and that is a motion I would like to make, Mr. Speaker.

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

[Page 8618]

The motion is defeated. (Interruptions)

Order, please. Is this on the same topic because the Speaker has heard nearly enough concerns and points regarding the referral of Bill No. 70 back to the Law Amendments Committee. As far as I am concerned, it has been addressed.

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

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, I probably have not had as much experience to hear all precedents in the past years in this House, but one thing I did hear today was that our member, the member for Cape Breton Centre, approached the Minister of Economic Development and asked when the Sysco bill was coming to the Law Amendments Committee. He said he didn't know. He sent him to the House Leader, and the House Leader said, late Tuesday. That was only an hour or so ago. That bill appeared before the Law Amendments Committee.

Now you may not be able to call a member in this House a liar, but somebody should know who is running this dog and pony act. I think members . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Honourable member, order, please. There are an awful lot of addendums to these points of order, and I think, just to shift gears completely, I would like to recognize the honourable member for Preston on an introduction.

MR. DAVID HENDSBEE: Mr. Speaker, this gives me an opportunity to break some of the monotony here.

It is indeed a pleasure for me to stand here and recognize a class of 37 law students, from the beautiful school of Eastern Shore District High in Musquodoboit Harbour. This school serves the constituencies of Preston and the Eastern Shore, so my colleague, the honourable member for Eastern Shore, and I had an opportunity to meet with these students downstairs to talk about the political process and what is going on here today. This school has been the home of the Schooners. I want to make sure they are well recognized. Their teacher is Mr. Denis LeBlanc, student teachers are Diana Hopkins and Dominique Valet, and the bus driver, Terry Thomas are here. I would like them to stand and be recognized by the House. (Applause)

Mr. Speaker, also for a point of information or a point of interest, Mr. LeBlanc has the longest running streak of bringing students to this Legislature for political science and law purposes. It has been going on at least 12 to 15 years, so I would like to recognize him for his effort. Thank you. (Applause)

[Page 8619]

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you honourable member. Welcome to all our guests. Perhaps I could just say by way of a point of information too that I know Mr. LeBlanc quite well. In fact, last Friday night, we had the occasion to rub elbows so to speak on the ice. He is an excellent hockey player as well. Welcome to the Legislature.

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. We asked for a recorded vote on that motion that was put. Through all the thunderous activity here, it seems like that was overlooked. I would ask in a sense of fairness to this Legislature that we allow the recorded vote to proceed. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: Order. Order, please. I trust the honourable member is talking about the motion that was placed by the honourable member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage. I did not hear a request for a recorded vote. However, there was quite a racket in the Legislature, and I will give you the benefit of the doubt, honourable member. We will have a recorded vote on that particular motion. (Interruption)

MR. DAVID HENDSBEE: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. When you asked for those in favour and those against, they also said Nay. They have cast their vote publicly and vocally. They don't need to do it. (Interruption)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Order, please. We will have a recorded vote on the motion by the honourable member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage. (Applause)

We will ring the bells until a maximum of 12:13 p.m.

[11:13 p.m.]

[The Division bells were rung.]

MR. SPEAKER: Are the Whips satisfied?

Order, please.

The honourable member for Dartmouth South on an introduction.

MR. TIMOTHY OLIVE: It gives me great pleasure to introduce the students and teachers and the people accompanying the teachers, looking after our great students from Hawthorne Elementary in Dartmouth. They are accompanied by John Corney, Suzanne Theriault, Donna Hartigan, Debbie Woolway, Gerald Morrison, and Kathy Coyle. I understand Vickie Williams pulled the whole thing together and that was just great. I had a chance to have a discussion with them downstairs in the Cabinet Room, they are a very interesting young group and a group that is going to go far.

[Page 8620]

I would like the House to welcome them to the Legislature and show our respect for their presence in our presence. Thank you very much. Would you please rise? (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: Sincere greetings are extended to our guests in the gallery - students, teachers, guardians, parents and all our guests are welcome.

Is the Liberal Whip satisfied?

Order, please.

Are the Whips satisfied?

Honourable members, a recorded vote has been asked for the motion that this House request the Law Amendments Committee to rescind a motion to limit presentations on Bill No. 62. I would ask the Clerk to call the roll.

[The Clerk calls the roll.]

[12:08 p.m.]

YEAS NAYS

Mr. MacAskill Mr. Christie

Dr. Smith Mr. Russell

Mr. Gaudet Mr. LeBlanc

Mr. Downe Mr. Muir

Mr. Manning MacDonald Miss Purves

Mr. Holm Mr. Fage

Mr. John MacDonell Mr. Balser

Mr. Deveaux Mr. Parent

Mr. Corbett Ms. McGrath

Mr. Pye Mr. Ronald Chisholm

Mr. Epstein Mr. Olive

Mr. Estabrooks Mr. Rodney MacDonald

Mr. Robert Chisholm Mr. MacIsaac

Mr. Dexter Mr. DeWolfe

Mr. MacEwan Mr. Dooks

Mr. MacKinnon Mr. Langille

Mr. Samson Mr. Morse

Mr. Boudreau Mr. Hendsbee

Mrs. Baillie

Mr. Morash

Mr. Chipman

[Page 8621]

Mr. Barnet

Mr. O'Donnell

Mr. Hurlburt

THE CLERK: For, 18. Against, 24.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is defeated.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 66.

Bill No. 66 - Consumer Protection Act/Mortgage Brokers' and Lenders' Registration Act.

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

HON. ANGUS MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, I move that this bill be now read a second time. Speaking to the motion, I want to inform members of the House that a number of years ago, federal, provincial and territorial governments negotiated an agreement on internal trade. Part of that agreement was a commitment to harmonize cost-of-credit disclosure requirements across Canada. A template was developed to guide all jurisdictions in this drafting. The template was created at the direction of ministers responsible for consumer affairs. It helps ensure a consistent approach is taken across the country. The bill proposes amendments to the Consumer Protection Act and the Mortgage Brokers' and Lenders' Registration Act. These amendments arise from both the drafting template that I referred to earlier as well as take into account the need for minor changes of a housekeeping nature within the province.

The changes being put forward are good news for borrowers, Mr. Speaker. They will make it easier for consumers to make informed decisions about obtaining credit. It will be easier for consumers to track the status of their loans. And we are also adding a much-needed protection for Nova Scotians who co-sign loans.

The bill is not only good news for consumers, the changes are also good for lenders, Mr. Speaker. That is because the bill introduces legal requirements that will eventually be the same from coast to coast. In fact, lenders have been eagerly anticipating these changes. These are win-win amendments that will both strengthen consumer protection and reduce red tape for business.

[Page 8622]

First, let's look at the cost-of-credit disclosure provisions. The cost-of-credit disclosure means spelling out in terms that the borrower and lender understand how much it will cost the borrower to obtain credit. Currently, cost-of-credit disclosure requirements vary from one jurisdiction to another. This inconsistency raises business costs because contracts, forms and advertising must be tailored to each different jurisdiction. Keeping abreast of the rules in multiple jurisdictions is another added expense. Consumers are also affected because the information and protection they receive vary from place to place. For example, the federal government regulates chartered banks, and each province or territory has specific laws for borrowers and lenders. This legal hodgepodge can be confusing and intimidating for consumers.

Mr. Speaker, the bill introduces the term annual percentage rate, or APR, to describe the costs associated with a transaction. When consumers borrow money, the interest they pay on that money may be only one of several costs to the borrower. The APR will give a more accurate account of how much the loan will cost by reflecting other official charges such as service or transaction charges the borrower must pay the lender. The APR will make it easier for a consumer to compare borrowing options and be confident that the full cost of the credit transaction is being disclosed. In other words, consumers can compare apples and apples. Some national lenders already use the APR. This bill will make providing the APR part of all consumer credit offerings in our province.

[12:15 p.m.]

The bill also defines the timing and content of disclosure agreements. When it comes into effect, borrowers will have a more comprehensive package of useful information before they commit to a credit arrangement; that is because they will receive a more detailed initial disclosure statement from the lender before the deal is finalized. Borrowers will also receive similar information regularly through the life of the loan. Information such as how much of their payment is principal, and how much is interest and the amount paid through the year will now be provided. While our existing Acts already contain disclosure requirements, today's proposed amendments harmonize these requirements with all other Canadian jurisdictions.

We are also proposing cost-of-credit disclosure for leases that are fixed-term leases lasting more than four months, leases that last an indefinite term, and leases that are automatically renewed, or leases that require the consumer to pay a lump sum at the end of the lease. The disclosure requirements for leases are similar to those for fixed credit. This is the first time that consumer legislation in Nova Scotia has addressed leases other than for residential tenancies. A common source of misinterpretation or dispute between lenders and borrowers can be the risks and responsibilities outlined in the contract, and this bill specifies the circumstances where refunds and penalties would apply. For the most part, these amendments propose new protection for credit arrangements, and provide for the cancellation of optional services such as life insurance on outstanding balances.

[Page 8623]

For mortgages we are asking that a renewal statement be provided by the lender 21 days before the effective renewal date. The existing Act touches on mortgage renewal statements, but not as distinctly as we are recommending.

Advertisements that disclose part of the cost of borrowing will also have to disclose key cost-of-credit information to consumers. Disclosure requirements for advertising will also be partly based on the type of advertisement. Print advertisements in newspapers and magazines will have to disclose more information than billboards and radio advertisements which have space and time limitations.

The bill also contains some housekeeping amendments, Mr. Speaker. These amendments provide greater clarity to some existing provisions and improve protections they provide. In several instances, amendments clarify the application of requirements to include both lenders and brokers. Other amendments provide greater flexibility to deal with offences, as not all offences warrant cancellation or suspension of a permit.

We have also stepped up protection for consumers who co-sign loans, and I would like to explain, Mr. Speaker. Currently, when a Nova Scotian co-signs a loan, they do not receive any information on the status of their loan despite being legally responsible for the balance owing if the borrower does not meet their obligations. With these changes, co-signers will receive regular updates on the status of the loan. We have also improved protection for co-signers by requiring lenders to obtain the approval of the co-signer should the borrower obtain additional credit. Right now lenders can offer a borrower an increased line of credit without the consent or even knowledge of the co-signer. With these changes, lenders will be required to have written consent from a co-signer before increasing the available line of credit.

Since the agreement on internal trade, a federal-provincial commitment has carried out extensive consultation with business and consumer groups. Both strongly support the legislation template we have used; in fact, many stakeholders, including leasing and lending organizations, and consumer groups, have participated in the development of the template.

As I bring my comments to a close, it is worth restating the tremendous benefit of these amendments. National businesses will face less red tape; smaller businesses can expand with less fuss once rules are the same across Canada. Consumers will benefit from having clear and regular updates on the status of their loans, having more information to make better decisions, and from having consistent protection across the country. The proposed legislation is like the framework of a house, the finishing touches, the detailing will be handled through amendments to regulations under the Acts. The timing of when these changes come into effect will be guided by when the regulations are finalized. Our counterparts in the federal government plan to bring their regulations into force by the fall of 2001.

[Page 8624]

The Government of Nova Scotia makes a commitment to introduce legislation, like these amendments (Interruptions) We made that commitment, and I am bringing the legislation forward based on the commitment that was made. (Interruptions) I am not speaking only to the commitment made as part of the internal trade agreement, I am also referring to a platform commitment made to consumers and businesses to improve the province's credit disclosure requirements. As Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations, the department responsibility for Consumer Affairs, I am pleased to say that today we are making good on both of these commitments. Thank you.

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

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I will say at the outset that we will be voting in support of the bill going on to the Law Amendments Committee. Unlike many bills brought forward by this Tory Government this looks like one piece of legislation that certainly is worthy of support. I couldn't help but think though - as the minister was talking about comparing apples to apples - maybe the Tories, especially when we have seen what they have done with some other legislation, they should start talking about comparing lemons to lemons when they come forward from this government.

Mr. Speaker, having had those minor little shots, I was a little bit confused by what the minister was saying when he was wrapping up his comments. He made the observation that the federal government has committed to bring forward their - and I think he was saying - regulations that would go along, like a parallel piece of legislation or a companion piece of legislation, by the fall of 2001. I wasn't sure if the minister was trying to say that there would be additional legislation coming forward in Nova Scotia, or that the Act would be declared by that time. The minister is indicating that he is saying that the Act will be declared by the fall of 2001, and that would obviously, therefore, mean that the regulations, also, then would be in effect by that time.

Mr. Speaker, I wonder if the minister could tell us, when he wraps up, if there is going to be a sunset clause on those regulations as well, and whether or not the regulations that are going to be brought in to protect consumers are going to disappear after five years, unless they are revisited or reintroduced, the same way as the health and safety regulations that protect the workers in this province will disappear as the result of the very regressive proposed changes that they made in the legislation that was discussed further. I won't dwell on that anymore, as I see you are looking at me with a little bit of a side-on cautioning look, telling me that I might be straying slightly from the principle of the bill that is before us.

Mr. Speaker, of course, that would be a good decision, a good ruling on your part, if you were to make that, because indeed I am. I can't help but point out, however, by way of comparison how the government is obviously treating one segment very differently from another segment. I would just remind the minister that those consumers who are going to be protected by this legislation, many of those consumers are also workers in this province who

[Page 8625]

rely upon the health and safety regulations that are there to protect them in the workplace. Also many of the businesses that might be affected by this, those business people might also be people who would be protected by knowing that they have good health and safety regulations in place to protect their workers.

I hope the minister, as he is reflecting upon a couple of pieces of legislation that he is trying to champion through this House, will notice the inconsistency and move to make some badly needed corrections in the former piece.

Now, there are two items I want to talk about specifically, one which is dealt within the bill, it is really an exclusion. The other is a separate matter, but it is also a consumer protection issue that I have also spoken to the minister about privately.

Mr. Speaker, the bill, and I am not going through a clause-by-clause description, and I say that I endorse the thrust of this, trying to make sure that consumers are going to have more information made available to them so they can actually compare what the actual costs are and know what the costs of loans and credits or leases will be. I certainly also support efforts to ensure that co-signers are going to know the status of loans and have some information as to what is actually happening with the particular loans they have co-signed. Some people have had some pretty unpleasant surprises because that information wasn't made available to them, so if one person who somebody has co-signed a loan for in all good faith, can find themselves, quite honestly, sometimes in very difficult financial situations, personally, because the credit limit for somebody was expanded without their knowledge, they all of a sudden got on the hook for guaranteeing that expanded line of credit. Then if something goes wrong, they are, as I say, presented with some pretty unpleasant bills that can actually lead to the financial ruin of some of those individuals. So I support those kinds of changes.

In the bill, Clause 3(1) - and this is one of the things I mentioned to the minister before - it says, "This Act applies to credit and lease agreements other than a credit or lease agreement entered into (a) for business or industrial purposes of a borrower or lessee; (b) with a borrower or leasee that is not an individual; (c) on the security of a mortgage of real property; or (d) in respect of the sale of goods intended for resale." There are these exclusions. I say through you, Mr. Speaker, to the minister, and maybe the minister, when he wraps up, can point out to me what I am missing or where, somehow, in other areas this may be addressed.

My point is, small businesses for example, also deserve to have access to this kind of detailed information in terms of what a loan is going to cost them. Somebody can be a large business, and I am sure the larger businesses - whether that be the Sobey's interests when they got the $3.5 million from the government, they knew what it was costing them, or if they were to go to a bank or to another financial institution, the large players certainly have the battery of accountants and lawyers and so on, and they can afford to have those to ensure

[Page 8626]

the client, the borrower or the lessee, who may be leasing fleets of vehicles and all kinds of things, is fully cognizant of what those costs actually are going to be to that business. But in this province we have many very small businesses.

I know in my constituency, in my community, there are many businesses that operate out of their basement, very small businesses. Very important businesses, they create employment. Maybe only employment for themselves. They may be starting up, operating on a shoestring. They may have had to put their home up as collateral to be able to get a line of credit and so on, monies to enable them to start a business. There are many examples of these very small bedroom-type community businesses, through the excellent skills of the entrepreneur, have grown those businesses into sizable operations and now employ many others. There certainly are examples of that in my community. Tim Hortons is getting the little milk dispensers from the business that started in a very small way, by a very creative, hard-working entrepreneur in the Sackville community, and the member for Sackville-Beaver Bank knows exactly who I am talking about (Interruption) That is right. Entrepreneur of the Year award the year before last, I think it was, from the chamber of commerce, has done very well.

My point is that I am certainly not opposed by any stretch of the imagination to ensuring that the protections are there for the individuals. But I am saying that I think we should also be looking at businesses as a consumer as well, particularly for those small businesses that cannot afford the large legal costs and may not have the time, or in some cases, honestly, the expertise. That is not their field of expertise in business to be doing a financial analysis. That same kind of apples-to-apples comparison in terms of what costs would be, should be made available to them as well. So, I would like to know if the minister could tell us - maybe I have missed it in the bill and if I have, I would not be offended if the minister wants to point out - where in the legislation those kinds of protections are actually afforded for them. I think that they deserve it as well.

[12:30 p.m.]

The other point that I want to raise with the minister, maybe the minister can tell us a way that this kind of protection can be provided to consumers in this legislation as well. Here I am referring to credit cards and the minister of course knows that there are provisions in dealing with credit cards and so on in terms of cost of borrowing and use of those credit cards.

The point that I raise with the minister - and this was not something original to me, it was as a result of a telephone call that I received from a gentleman who is not even a constituent, but raised what I believe was a very valid point and which I have already raised with the minister - when you go in and use your credit card, whether that be to buy gasoline - upon which the government is reaping extra HST profits. I am trying to catch the Minister of Finance's attention, to get that little poke in, but seriously, if you go in and use your credit

[Page 8627]

card to buy a gasoline product, use it in the grocery store, in the liquor stores of this province, anywhere, in almost every case, the receipt that is printed off and given to you has your name, because you have to sign it. It also has on that slip that is printed off to you, your credit card number, and it has the month and year that the credit card expires.

I won't mention here, but I know that there is at least one and I am sure that there is more than one business that, when they actually print out your receipt, they don't put all that information on the slip. Instead, they may put one or two of your numbers and then in place of all the other numbers on the receipt that you get, and of course, it is a signed copy of the receipt that you get, there will be little stars so that your numbers are not actually recorded on the receipt that you get.

You might ask why can that be important? I have already had that question asked of me, thank you to my colleagues for asking, but, I ask members of this House how many of you - and I know I certainly have - have gotten a credit card receipt, crumpled it up and thrown it in the trash. Or, someday open up your car door and a piece of paper flies out and all of a sudden you realize when you pick up what had blown, because none of us want to litter, that was a credit card receipt. And what is on it? All of the information that somebody would need if they wished to use your card illegally. You can charge things over the telephone, all kinds of ways. You have to give your number, the date of expiration and you, of course, have to know your name. The information is on that slip and we know that credit card fraud is a major problem.

Mr. Speaker, obviously, the business needs to keep a signed copy, but your transition number of the transaction is on it. That does not give any of the personal detailed information like your credit card number. That is on it. Your card has been swiped so that the transaction number is actually there. If some do not use it, then I would suggest none need to put your actual credit card number on that slip. If somebody gets that card number, or that information, they do not have to have your card. Who knows what they could be ordering from international sites, from anywhere, that you punch those numbers into, sent to some, it does not even have to be here in Nova Scotia. It could be through an offshore site and you may not know about it. You have not lost your card. It is still in your purse or in your back pocket. You do not know that charges have been made until you get a bill.

So I am asking the minister, it was about a week ago I spoke to him about this issue, so hopefully the minister has had an opportunity to look into this concern. I would like to see a way to amend this legislation and, yes, give the businesses a little bit of time to make the adjustments in terms of how their credit card machines would print out the information, but to require that the receipts that would be given out not contain all of that information, that if somebody acquires a receipt from when you bought your groceries, or went into the Minister of Tourism's liquor stores and bought something in one of those, because the province has the information on the slips. The province can take a lead in this right away by making sure that those numbers are removed.

[Page 8628]

I think that would be a very important piece of consumer protection, and some people - and it would not be me because my credit limit on my cards is not that high, but the gentleman who called me said that means the way that it is (Interruption) I am not in the Cabinet, Mr. Speaker, so I do not have the perks that the Minister of Health is talking about, but the gentleman who called me said that means in his particular case that he could be liable for up to $10,000 in charges if those charges were made without his knowledge because he has not notified, and why would he notify, because he has not lost his card. He does not know that the information has gone astray.

I do not know, maybe the minister can, hopefully he can, because I brought it to his attention figuring the minister has certainly the best opportunity of anybody in the department, particularly in his government department, to get the information and to get the facts straight. Hopefully, the minister can address this issue as one of the issues when he wraps up, but I do think, especially as we all know that credit card fraud is a major problem, people are concerned about giving credit card information over the Internet, no matter whether the sites say they are safe or not.

Mr. Speaker, probably even more concerning could be just that little receipt that blows in the wind or that we inadvertently chuck into the garbage or, hopefully, into the recycle bin because a paper product can be recycled. We do not know where that information can end up and we certainly do not need to have any more means than are necessary to have that information that could fall into the wrong hands where it could be used for criminal and fraudulent activity.

Those are in essence my comments on this bill. As I said, I will be voting in support of the bill going forward. I would like to see a couple of measures included to strengthen the bill. I would like to know why businesses, particularly the small business community wouldn't be afforded the same kind of protection. I have a little concern that the Government in Council by regulation can decide that they wish to exempt some other classes of individuals from having this information, but I am not going to harp on that point right now.

My two primary concerns, from my cursory glance of the bill are first, that the same kind of protection is not provided to business consumers, from my interpretation of this bill; and secondly that we want to ensure that we can try to find ways to plug loopholes on credit cards that I think has a possible weakness in terms of how that information could leak out to the wrong people. I would like to see a way to protect that.

So, unless I am to hear, and we are to hear in the Law Amendments Committee process that there are some other major issues or glaring problems with this legislation that I am not aware of, it is my intention to be encouraging our caucus to be in support of this bill, as I say subject to our hearing from the Law Amendments Committee process, but certainly I have not had any concerns with me other than the points I have raised about this legislation at this time. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

[Page 8629]

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

MR. BRIAN BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, it is actually kind of rewarding to be able to stand today in the House and have positive comments about what we feel is positive legislation, especially after 16 months. It is the first time I have had the opportunity to stand and say something positive.

We feel that this bill, in the future, should do a few things, and we feel that the bill should have a positive impact on individuals. In the future, Mr. Speaker, when an individual borrows money, lenders will have to give the annual percentage rate. This will help individuals decide who has the best rate. Borrowers will also be able to cancel and receive refunds for optional services. Borrowers will receive notices of any default charges. Borrowing rules will also apply for leases for consumer goods. New rules apply to anyone who provides or brokers mortgages or consumer loans, including credit card issuers and trust companies and retailers who finance client purchases. Chartered banks, of course, as indicated by the minister are not included in this bill, but will be covered by similar federal legislation.

These changes are the result of a federal and provincial agreement to harmonize the cost of credit disclosure regulations, of course. B.C. and Alberta have already similar legislation. Other jurisdictions are willing to do similar legislation soon, and the same rules will apply nation-wide. Essentially the bill eventually will standardize the timing and content of disclosure statements that lenders must provide consumers. It requires, Mr. Speaker, the status of loan updates to co-signers. It also requires written approval from co-signers before additional credit is extended to a borrower.

This bill also requires the cost-of-credit disclosure for leases of consumer goods. It specifies advertising requirements specific to each type of credit arrangement. Penalties, of course, for violation under the Consumer Protection Act are changed as follows: for individuals, from a maximum of $2,000 to a maximum of $25,000; for corporations, from a maximum of $25,000 to a maximum of $100,000.

Mr. Speaker, the bill also provides for the appointment of a Registrar of Mortgage Brokers and Lenders, and a Deputy Registrar of Mortgage Brokers and Lenders. To do business as a mortgage broker or lender, you need a permit.

[12:45 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure for me to stand and indicate that we feel it is good to see that the government has finally tabled a piece of legislation that is consumer-friendly. For once they are helping regular Nova Scotians, rather than padding the pockets of their national and international corporate friends. This bill should help consumers make reasonable

[Page 8630]

decisions when they are seeking credit, and that is important. Hopefully, it will prevent less-than-honest lenders from preying on ordinary consumers.

Mr. Speaker, it is no secret that the previous Liberal Administration began an overhaul of this bill. Most of the information that was gathered through the review process, this bill contains that very information. I would like to congratulate the staff of this department for their efforts and their abilities in providing this protection for all Nova Scotians. I want to indicate that I feel that the minister has proven that at least he is a good listener, in accepting advice from those individuals. Regardless of the fact that the minister has many duties, which I feel are done mostly on a part-time basis, many of them, the minister has shown good character in accepting this advice from his staff.

Mr. Speaker, in closing, I would just like to indicate that I, and my caucus, will be supporting this bill. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: If I recognize the honourable Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations it will be to close debate on Bill No. 66.

The honourable Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations.

HON. ANGUS MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank honourable members for their contributions to the debate. There are three things I will comment on that were raised by members.

First of all, with respect to small businesses, I heard the comment made by the honourable member, and did have a discussion on that matter. While the intent of the honourable member's suggestion is an extremely good one, when we considered the matter we felt that with respect to small business - and I am going to say that I am certainly open to further discussion with respect to this - many of them begin on a personal line of credit or personal financing, which falls under the category of consumer loans or consumer protection, and they would be protected under the Act. As businesses expand, then of course it becomes the responsibility of the businesses to go out and hire some professional help and assistance in order to be able to take them to the next stage of their development. When they do that of course they are then engaging in more formal dialogue and interaction with the financial institutions. Perhaps it is more appropriate for the professionals that they hire to set out and look after their interests

MR. JOHN HOLM: I am just wondering if the minister would entertain a brief question, just on that point, and I hear where he is coming from. I understand what the minister is saying, maybe more for clarification, to make my question a little clearer. As the minister correctly points out, a lot of them start in the way of personal credit to start the business, but some start a small business, they get incorporated, and, they then go and, in the corporation's name, because they need a line of credit for that corporation to operate, they

[Page 8631]

get their credit, but then they become, in effect, the guarantor of their own business line of credit by putting their equity - it could be their home or those kinds of things - up against that new little business they have started. Those are the kind of situations I am looking at trying to ensure that those kind of small businesses would have that kind of protection because they, at that stage, do not have the financial resources to go out and hire the professionals when they are operating on a shoestring like that getting started.

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the honourable member's intervention. It was perhaps more a comment than a question. However, at this stage I still feel that when people are expanding their businesses it is appropriate for them to seek professional assistance, and it is the role of the professionals to be able to provide that sort of protection for the operation of a business.

Having said that, Mr. Speaker, I would want to assure the honourable member that it is a matter I will watch carefully and look at further with respect to the concerns that he has raised, but at this stage the legislation is as it is, and we are bringing it forward in that way. That is not to say that the comments are not worthy of consideration. As I indicated, I have discussed them within the department and we will view that situation as we move forward.

The comment with respect to credit cards is also one which I believe is very valid and it is one which we are looking at. It is not quite as simple to be able to bring the matter forward as simply saying, let's do this. So we are looking at it and it may be that it will have to wait for a further piece of legislation in order for us to be able to adequately address it. However, we will look at it and we will keep an eye on that.

I want to say that I was very pleased to be able to write certain clauses of this bill in my own handwriting, so to speak, and while I did receive very good advice from my department, I also had my own input with respect to this legislation. I am quite proud of that, and I had the support of all caucus members in doing that. So I appreciate that he would like to be able to take all of the credit for the previous government because they are very good at trying to do that. They believe that anything good that comes forward is all their idea. I think, Mr. Speaker, it is only fair that we should not allow that myth to continue unchallenged; this caucus over here. However, I appreciate the comments of honourable members and I will close the debate.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for second reading of Bill No. 66. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

Ordered that this bill be referred to the Committee on Law Amendments.

The honourable Deputy Government House Leader.

[Page 8632]

MR. WILLIAM DOOKS: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 67.

Bill No. 67 - Crane Operators and Power Engineers Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Acting Minister of the Environment and Labour.

HON. ANGUS MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, I move that this bill be now read for the second time. This is an attempt to bring these regulations up to date and allow for the enforcement and the development of procedures with respect to that enforcement to operate more smoothly and more in keeping with modern-day practices.

These changes are suited to our rules here in Nova Scotia and bring us in line with national standards, Mr. Speaker. The major changes include a new advisory role for the board of examiners, a modification of the appeals process, an increase in the fees related to that, and supervision requirements for small plants to allow for automated, guarded plants. Under current legislation, as the Acting Minister of the Environment and Labour, I am responsible for hearing appeals from those who disagree with a board decision. It is a very difficult job, especially when you don't have the expertise in this field. As many of you know, my background is not in this area, and I am not trained in the field, so the changes we are making will ensure that the people who are looking at appeals will, in fact, have more appropriate training to bring to their decisions.

This move puts the decision-making power where it belongs: with the people who are experienced and knowledgeable in the field. We are tightening up, also, Mr. Speaker, the crane operators certification requirements. Again, we are hopefully applying some common sense with respect to this. This is a matter of interest and I know of concern to members opposite, the fines that had become outdated and ineffective, they will be replaced, and they will go from an old maximum of $5,000 to a new maximum of $200,000.

Mr. Speaker, I look forward to hearing the comments of other honourable members with respect to this legislation, and will listen intently.

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

MR. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, I rise today to say a few words about this bill because similar to Bill No. 68, it is not as advertised if you will. The group directly affected by this, the Institute of Power Engineers, are opposed to this bill. It goes a long way in saying again this government has struck out on its own promise of being consultative. It has not gone to this group and said, how will this affect the workplace. These people are the experts in the workplace.

[Page 8633]

Mr. Speaker, this is not about a group of hot dog vendors that just decided to set up shop in this province. This board - which I will get to later - has real regulatory powers, yet this bill in effect will get rid of that very effective board and replace it with a board of, I would suggest, less knowledgable persons. Now, we can say that this bill will only affect small operations. As the minister well knows, on November 7th, he received a letter from the Nova Scotia Government Employees Union which represents steam plant engineers and so on at the QE II complex, and they oppose Bill No. 67, for the very reason that the management at that location is going to use this bill to effect possible lay-offs.

So, Mr. Speaker, it is not a matter, I suggest, of just some little plant somewhere that will be unattended and will have a computerized sensor that will tell us when there is a malfunction. It may affect the very lives, the very health care of this province. I had an occasion, as many of us did the other day, to listen to a press conference sponsored by myself and the member for Cape Breton West in the Uniacke Room, and listened to these employees' concerns. Yet these concerns are not addressed in this bill. Some of the stories that were told caused me great concern.

There was one story, telling what happens in the event of someone coming down one of the streets in this city, hitting a utility pole, knocking the power out to the VG site. What is the sensor going to do then? Not much. The steam is used for various things from a back-up power source to the sterilization units. Yet, this government would have you believe that this will only hit, if you will, small plants that the public does not really have access to. They would have you believe that maybe somewhere there is a small sawmill that is operating independently out there with not much of an infrastructure, not very close to homes and so on, in a very rural area, that if a danger would happen, it would only happen to some equipment on that site.

[1:00 p.m.]

Well, that is not so and I think if you listen to people - and this is just one large physical plant that is in a heavily populated area such as the VG site - they are saying that the very structure of that building, if there is a boiler explosion it would do irreparable damage not only to the structure, but could do damage to anybody on the street passing by, either as a pedestrian or in a vehicle.

That is a real concern, but yet this government would have you believe that these are not affected, but I am sure that - and I will read into the record a letter from Joan Jessome, President of the Nova Scotia Government Employees Union and it says, Angus MacIsaac, Acting Minister of Environment and Labour. Thank you for your letter of September 13, 2000 with the oversight powers of power engineers' act 94 94 and safeguards to public safety. Unfortunately, recent events have only added to the concerns I raised in my earlier letter of August 17, 2000.

[Page 8634]

She goes on, we understand the QE II Health Sciences Centre is seeking to reduce the number of stationary engineers it has on duty at any one time in the QE II. For your information, I am enclosing - I don't have it here, but she says to the minister - a copy of a letter from February 22, 2000 from Plant Operations' Supervisor to the Board of Examiners of your department. Last month QE II officials told our members that they would like to eliminate four stationary engineer positions.

So one could only surmise from that, Mr. Speaker, that they are going to use this Act to lay off employees. Now, it is distasteful enough that they are trying to fill their health care mandate and bring down their numbers by laying off hard-working employees, but there is a double whammy here. They are laying these people off, they may meet their health care targets getting rid of those salaries, but at what cost? At the cost of the health and safety of Nova Scotians who are patients in those very buildings.

In the largest health care complex in Atlantic Canada, they want to eliminate four positions. What for? Just to balance the books, I say. Every day we come forward with that resolution about being born into poverty and one of the key lines is, to fulfil a fiscal mandate; this heartless government, that is all it is doing. It is a fiscal mandate and it has various ways of trying to get at that fiscal mandate.

We debated a bill earlier today in this House about sunset clauses on OH&S. Is this just further causing unsafe workplaces in Nova Scotia? I submit to you that a workplace not only has disadvantages for the worker, but for all Nova Scotians. We are not just talking about making a workplace unsafe, we are talking about a health care complex.

It is not like the Lingan Generating Station that they may want to use these rules at. What happens, Heaven forbid if there is an accident there? But the good way you can look at it, if you are this government, is that these people are all able-bodied persons that can hopefully have safety training and will get out on their own. I am assuming safety training in a previous bill that was talked about here today may take that away from them.

So, these are able-bodied people so to speak, and they will probably be able to escape that. Well, what happens with an explosion at a health care complex; the largest, I must reiterate, Mr. Speaker, the largest health care complex in Atlantic Canada? What happens? It is not that easy. We have the IWK-Grace where temperatures for young children in incubators are so necessary to stay a stable rate. Yet, if there is a loss of pressure or steam problem, if there is nobody there to handle these problems, that will go by. The minister knows this. The minister has been informed that they are going to use this bill to eliminate four positions.

So, I submit to the minister that you should take this bill and really study it. If he thinks that all this is going to do is impact on maybe a few isolated sawmills out in the wilderness somewhere, Mr. Speaker, he is sadly mistaken.

[Page 8635]

Then let's look at the other side of it, in getting rid of the existing board. Who is going to be put on this board? Is it friends of the government? I hear I am being proposed for it, but I want to say, if drafted, I will not accept. (Laughter) Mr. Speaker, because you know what? Isn't that right? Coming from that government, they would want to put someone like me in charge of engineers. I know absolutely nothing about engineers. The Minister of Finance is saying, I could be a layperson.

Mr. Speaker, on that board today are competent people who know the industry. They want to put unqualified people like myself on that board and endanger patients. That is the mindset of that group. That is appalling, that they would want someone of such little understanding of the power-generating needs of this province on the board. I am appalled.

AN HON. MEMBER: Actually, I think you know quite a bit, Frank.

MR. CORBETT: Someone says they think I know quite a bit. I guess I would probably know as much as most of their friends they would put on that board, Mr. Speaker, because they appoint Leroy Legere, the former Labour Minister who was in this House during Westray to a nice comfortable job, so that is the type of appointments we could look forward to.

Mr. Speaker, these are problems. Yet when the minister moved this bill, he would have you believe it is just housekeeping. These are things that aren't going to affect anybody, but he knows by way of mail and certainly did not cover us, if he responded to it, if their interpretation was correct or if it was incorrect. Yet, he wants this House to believe that there is no problem, that we could just do these things, and it is like, you know, technology is such a great thing, we will put a little beeper on it and go.

Well, Mr. Speaker, again, we saw in this province, we saw it very well in this province, when inspections aren't done properly, and they use these little beepers or sensors or whatever to warn us of impending disaster, we saw what a piece of bubblegum can do at Westray. If that is their idea of protecting the public, well I can only say to them, shame. It is not protecting the public. Why would this government want to get rid of the competent, responsible people in the make-up of that board. I mean from time to time the board should rightly change. People will come and go from it and whatever, but this bill allows a much broader sweeping of powers. It is broader and I would say, I guess a better word would be dilution of the powers and the understanding.

This bill seems to be more in reaction to the infamous Red Tape Reduction Task Force. It is like, well, you know, we do not want to be reporting to this group every year. It is an acceptable practice. I mean we accept that other engineers report to the engineers associations. We accept the Barristers' Society, the Medical Society, all these groups. Yet it seems to be, Mr. Speaker, if you are a worker in this province eligible to join a trade union,

[Page 8636]

you become somewhat less intelligent, that you do not have the ability to even control your own destiny at any point.

Mr. Speaker, why is this bill here? It is here for one reason and one reason only, is this delusional attitude of this government that we must streamline government at all costs. We must streamline government just for the sake of saying we eliminated all these, what they would want you to understand as silly laws. I use by example, what could happen here in Halifax at the QE II, but I want to tell this group in a personal way, about 15 years ago on Boxing Day in the Town of New Waterford, the explosion at the local rink and two young people were killed. That compressor was an unmanned compressor. It was there and two young people lost their lives.

Mr. Speaker, I almost hate to say this line, but it could have been a lot worse. It was in a residential area and who knows what could have happened there, but that is what happened. We are not talking about technology that is that far advanced in 15 years that that would not happen again. I must also say that at that time that equipment was in the range of three or four years old. We are not talking about equipment that was left over at some kind of post-war auction and that leads me to my second part because just about every small community in this province has an arena and I will tell you there are a lot of old arenas.

So are we just going to let those go on autopilot forever? Is that going to be exempt? If they can exempt it from one of our primary sources of health care with the stroke of a pen, well, we do not need attendants, we do not need qualified people to look after these facilities in our arenas. I will also suggest to you the other side, I guess if you want to call it lucky, was the arena was basically just being used for a pick-up hockey game. It was not full as every Saturday night as my good friend, the member for Sackville-Beaver Bank, would know, he makes many trips down there with the hockey team, the Cape Breton Alpines play in that arena, and had that been jammed with 600 or 700 people, what would have been the outcome?

[1:15 p.m.]

So, Mr. Speaker, to say that this bill does not have an impact except for a few locations is misleading to say the least. I wish the minister would reconsider this bill. There is no need to have this bill in front of us. We have a group who is monitoring that situation, a group of qualified people who are on that board, so why should we do that? Is it tweaking for the sake of tweaking? I don't know whether the infamous red tape commission has come down with their report yet. Maybe upon perusing that document, what is going on here will become clearer, that this is just another one of their little ways of what they call making government smaller. What is the purpose of making government smaller? It is a nice catchphrase, but what does it mean? With this government what making government smaller means is getting out of the way of anything their friends want, just go ahead and fill your boots. They are trying to make Community Services smaller. They have effectively made the workforce at

[Page 8637]

Sydney Steel smaller. They have effectively made the occupational health and safety people smaller and more irrelevant.

Mr. Speaker, where are we at? What is the purpose, other than helping some of their friends? What are they doing with this bill? Why is this bill even in front of us, taking up valuable time? Why is it here? It is unfathomable why we have this bill. It is the classic, if it is not broke, don't fix it. That is what they are doing. They have told us, don't worry about this, this is one of those, what we often refer to, housekeeping bills. It is more than just a housekeeping bill, when the safety of Nova Scotians is brought into a bill it is more than just housekeeping. Yet, they want to say, oh no, and they want to purport it to be something that it is not.

I want to talk for a few minutes. This government, for some reason, believes it is consultative. Who have they talked to? Have they talked to the experts on this bill? Have they talked to these people? Have they gone to the engineers, have they gone to the Institute of Power Engineers and said, here is what we are trying to do, can we come to some kind of conclusion? Did they go to Mike Gillis, their union representative and say, Mike, what do you think of this legislation? Do you think we should introduce it, do you think this has an impact on the power engineers in this province? Do you think it will have an impact on safety in the Province of Nova Scotia? No. They did not go to them in any meaningful way. Who are they consulting with? Why do they purport themselves to be such a consultative government when they know in their own hearts that they don't do this.

The Minister of Community Services, who did he consult with? Did the Premier himself, when he wanted to make a statement about the state of this province, come to this House and make that statement? No, he did a dine-and-dash with the chamber of commerce. That is who he talked to, he didn't talk to the people who were elected in this province. He talked to the people that he and his government are representing, and that is the business sector. He did not go down to the Every Woman's Centre in Sydney, sit down and say, how is this Community Services bill going to affect you? He didn't go to the food bank in Glace Bay and ask them? He didn't go to the outreach group in New Waterford and ask, how is this going to affect you? He didn't go to the CBRM and say, how is your tram operation. If we find work for people with disabilities, can they get back and forth to work? No, Mr. Speaker, this government didn't consult with them, and I tell you , they didn't consult with the power engineers.

So, it is a sham, an utter sham, Mr. Speaker, when this government tells people that they are consultative. This whole week has been bill after bill of words that mean nothing. We have a Sysco bill that is in the hopper that we had to apply pressure to get it back over to where it should be so the public can make representation, that has wording that, to be polite, is confusing. The very minister that brought this bill forward is also saying, don't worry about that nasty line about the environment because we don't mean it. Here is what we

[Page 8638]

mean, although it doesn't say it, here is what we mean. Well, mean what you say and say what you mean. That is something this government really doesn't believe in.

We are stuck here today with this bill again, Mr. Speaker, Bill No. 67. Why would they want to hoist this on people, and I hate to use the word hoist. Why are they doing this? Why are they going after this group, other than, the only thing is another way so we can start laying off operating engineers and stationary engineers in hospitals across this province so this province can meet its mandated target of underfunding these operations to meet their own budget process. In doing so, while they are not endangering lives by refusing them medical treatment, they are certainly in my estimation endangering them from a health and safety aspect in the workplace. What residual effect does that have? Do we lose four at the QE II, and one at the Roseway, and two at the Cape Breton Regional Hospital, and one at the New Waterford Consolidated, and one at the Glace Bay General, and another one at the Strait Richmond? Is that the residual effect here?

Why bring this bill in other than to do that? Are there too many people working in this province? Is that the problem, Mr. Speaker. Is this government so annoyed that people actually have gainful employment that they have to get back at them? Is that what it is? Is that their perverse logic? Is that where they are going with it? Is that it? Are you going to lay them off and make that pressure, that asinine piece of logic that they use that there is work all over Cape Breton for people who are on social assistance now. There is not enough work now, but we are going to make it even harder. We are going to raise the bar.

Mr. Speaker, I hear the Minister of Economic Development worry about redundancy. Well, they should know all about redundancy because this whole legislative session has been full of redundant legislation by legislators that have become redundant. This is a problem. If they want to get rid of employment in this province, maybe they should look in the mirror because they are the ones causing unemployment in this province by bills like this. They are accommodating the wishes of people like Bill MacDonald, the plant operations supervisor at the site of QE II. (Interruption) This is not. A rabbit track. Isn't that awful.

Mr. Speaker, that is all right. The Minister of Economic Development is telling us how the economy is just smoking here. That is why his own Premier was out telling the media last week that if people can't find work in Cape Breton to move out. To move out. This government is about the depopulation of rural Nova Scotia. That is what they are about. For him to sit there and tell people that this economy is smoking is a falsehood.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I would remind the honourable member to speak on the second reading of the bill respecting crane operators and power engineers. If the honourable member would bring his comments back to that bill, please. Thank you.

MR. CORBETT: It is about steam and I was just blowing off some.

[Page 8639]

This is unbelievable. This is exactly what this group is all about. They do not care about workers. They do not care about the safety of Nova Scotians. They care about the chamber of commerce here in Halifax. They are telling everybody it is great, but Bill No. 67 is going to cause unemployment. Do they care about that? Not in the least. It is funny, you can hear them, Mr. Speaker, they are all laughing and making jokes about it. It is funny because the Minister of Economic Development would tell you - as he just said across the floor - that this economy is doing great so we can afford to lay people off. I guess that is the logic.

We cannot afford to lay people off in this province, for one thing. We cannot afford to have Nova Scotians without jobs, although that is what the minister is purporting and the other thing is we cannot afford to have people who are looking after the safety of Nova Scotians laid off in particular.

Now, they may think that is funny, and it may be a big joke to them in debate, but they do not seem to care. They do not bring anything substantive to the table to say that this will work. What they want you to believe is that we can do this and it is only going to affect some little sawmill out in the middle of who-knows-where, so we don't care. (Interruption)

Yeah. It perplexes me to see a Labour Minister in a Tory Government not cognizant of what happens when you leave safety apparatus unmanned, no manpower around, and nobody in that area to work on them. They seem to think that is okay, so I will be closing my remarks by telling you that our Party will not be supporting this bill because this bill is not at all what the minister has purported it to be. It is a way of getting in the back door if you cannot get in the front door. They are trying to tell people that there are no face-to-face losses in the health care system, well here is one large employer that will see the reduction of four positions - four highly trained, well paid Nova Scotians - gone because this government is allowing it to happen, and I put forward to you, being allowed to happen at the expense of the health and safety of workers and of people in our health care institutions. That is wrong. The position purported by this government on Bill No. 67 is inaccurate and I would ask the minister to withdraw it and I believe that this bill should be defeated. Thank you very much.

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

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: I am pleased to rise and speak on Bill No. 67, An Act Respecting Crane Operators and Power Engineers. I guess to understand the critical aspects of this particular piece of legislation, I will have to review a little bit of history from when I was at the department and when this issue first came before my office back in the early part of 1999 before I was aware there was even an impasse between the Department of Labour and the power engineers and crane operators.

[Page 8640]

[1:30 p.m.]

First of all, I want to congratulate the staff at the Department of Labour, under Eugene Chown, Director of Public Safety. We were quite pleased to have Eugene on staff, I believe he is still on staff. He was very helpful and instrumental in giving me the advice to put the board together with the high level of expertise that we did. I am not sure if that board is still active or that membership is still in place, but it was very good, particularly when we are dealing with such a complex issue as some of the issues that would be dealt with, steam boilers and high-pressure pieces of machinery, turbines and the like.

As I understand, the impasse is all centred around Section 11(5) of the Act respecting power engineers. That was an Act that was assented to on February 6, 1995. Apparently, the impasse centred around the decision-making authority of the board versus the decision-making authority of the Director of Public Safety, or as they call him the Director/Inspector. I felt that at that particular point in time, going back into the latter part of June 1999, after having met with staff and the power engineers, we had reached a consensus that would be satisfactory to both the department and to the power engineers, on that particular issue. It was all centred around the wording in Section 11(5). Apparently, for whatever reason, that seems to have gone past the way.

I believe that correspondence is on file at the Department of Labour, but I could certainly provide another copy to the minister if he doesn't have it, a letter dated June 28, 1999, to Eugene Chown, Director of Public Safety, Nova Scotia Department of Labour, and it was sent by Greg Sutcliffe, President, Nova Scotia Branch of the IPE and Steve Henley, and its past president as well, Mike Gillis, the national first vice-president. The first paragraph pretty well outlines the way the way that we could have resolved this impasse.

Mr. Speaker, I was a little surprised, to be quite honest, that the Minister of Labour had indicated that there was a consultative process with the power engineers prior to the introduction of this particular piece of legislation, at least that is the way I understood his comments. That seemed to be a totally different view that was put forth by the representatives from the power engineers and the crane operators the other day when they appeared before the Legislature with their press conference.

One of the considerations that I felt was very important at that juncture, was the fact that the power engineers body and the crane operators, were developing a certain level of maturity in the professional sense and in the technical sense because, like any other group of professionals, it takes years to get a lot of the wrinkles out of the process if you want to become a self-regulatory body and to have, essentially, your own constitution, your own regulations, by-laws, code of conduct and all these things that are instrumental to making a self-regulatory body become functional and quite effective. First and foremost, that would serve the public interest without compromise.

[Page 8641]

Mr. Speaker, I felt that we had really come to recognize that the power engineers and their entire body had really reached that level, which is why we had expressed confidence in their board of examiners being able to examine issues that came before the Department of Labour for that reason, as well as the fact that within the Department of Labour, I believe, there would have to be a substantial increase in staffing to be able to meet the demands in the market place on this very serious issue. So, they were two of the primary considerations I looked at in trying to develop this compromise for this bill that seemed to be just sitting there in limbo since 1996.

I know, being a member of a self-regulatory body myself, the Minister of Natural Resources does not dictate to the Nova Scotia Land Surveyors Association on matters of survey. We have our own complaints committee, we have our own discipline committee, we have our own board of examiners, we have our regulations, we have a code of conduct, we have the Atlantic Board of Examiners, all these things that allow the association to operate very effectively to the public interests and, at the same time, protecting the public interest through a lot of the processes that are attached to this particular body, much the same as the Dental Society, the Denturists Society, the Medical Society, the Barristers' Society, and we can go on and on - engineering, architects.

That is why we felt it was important to have these professionals be very active in the decision-making process. I am not sure if really that concern has been addressed in this particular piece of legislation. It does not appear to be. I would think to have the crane operators and the power engineers offside, so to speak, with the government on this very important piece of legislation is very concerning. Perhaps when the minister is wrapping up, he could address that difference in opinion because I certainly would not want to support something knowing it is going to miss a very vital component. It is important both bodies work together in the public interest in recognition of the fact that mechanization and modern technology and computer science and everything is making it such that the educational training and the requirements for a power engineer or crane operator, more specifically the power engineers, have changed quite dramatically over the last 20 years.

It is important to have qualified individuals on the site and this particular piece of legislation allows the department to be able to put, in their view, who they would see as a qualified individual, but not necessarily carrying a certificate of authorization from the appropriate educational institution that would certify them in the real sense of the word, the professional sense of having gone through all the various educational processes to ensure they are, indeed, fully qualified, and that does not appear to be here, Mr. Speaker, in its entirety. So, that I do have a concern with.

I also have a concern with the fact that a lot of reference to the regulatory process, we are dealing with the regulations indeed, it would be nice, at least, if we had a draft set of the regulations that perhaps might be able to allay some of the fears by this rather significant group, for example, the power engineers, Mr. Speaker. Not to belabour the issue too far, I

[Page 8642]

think it is important that this impasse between the director of public safety office, or this safety director who would be making the decision as to who would be qualified or not, and the power engineers, really must be settled. The last thing we need when we are dealing with matters of major public safety, whether it be the steam boilers over at the QE II or, indeed, a pulp and paper mill operation such as Stora or Bowater Mersey or Scott Paper, we can't afford to provide a legal framework that would allow some unqualified persons to be positioned in such a very important technical job description. That would be my concern; all other things aside, that would be my major concern.

As far as the concern about the employment factor with the power engineers, well I respect that. They have a position. Perhaps employment is one of the concerns they have, but I truly believe, having listened to them on a number of occasions, having met with them in the boardroom of the Department of Labour, with staff, on a previous date and listening to them again, Mr. Speaker, there is a genuine concern there about safety and the possibility of having non-qualified persons, under the guise of being qualified, taking on these job descriptions that could very well end up in a serious tragedy.

So if the minister feels he has the confidence and the legal framework to be able to ensure that, then certainly we are a reasonable and responsible Opposition. Before giving our approval to that end, I would submit that perhaps the minister could enlighten the members of the Legislature a little more on that particular issue, because it is not good when we have such an important body of professionals out there who are not onside with the government in the professional sense of the word, not the political sense, but the professional.

We are dealing with issues of safety; we are dealing with people's lives, and it doesn't augur well to start off approving this type of legislation without at least striking some middle ground to ensure, rightfully or wrongfully - perhaps personalities could be the cause of an impasse on communication or a directive or an order, or an understanding of what one person said and another person would take to mean a different way. We can't allow even the slightest chance for ourselves to be caught in that predicament, Mr. Speaker. I would hope that the minister would be able to help enlighten members of the Legislature here because, in its present state, I don't think it is a positive initiative to move too far and too quickly without giving consideration to that particular issue.

Perhaps with it going on to the Law Amendments Committee we will have an opportunity for the respective stakeholders to come and express their views. At that point, maybe when it comes back from the Law Amendments Committee with some reasoned amendments, or indeed having heard the power engineers come and express their rationale, and then the minister being able to come and say, well, no that is really not in the best interests of the public, we could be able to come back and either give our final stamp of approval so to speak or our reasoned objection to this particular piece of legislation.

[Page 8643]

With that, Mr. Speaker, I thank you for the opportunity to raise these few points on this bill. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: If I recognize the minister it will be to close the debate.

The honourable Acting Minister of Environment and Labour.

HON. ANGUS MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank honourable members for their participation in the debate. Again, I just want to indicate to members of the House that we are attempting to bring our legislation in line with what is happening elsewhere in Canada, and that is consistent. I can say that there is an advisory board which will be composed of the professionals in the field, and there is also an appeal board which would be put in place which would be able to deal with any concerns that arise out of the operations of the bill. So, Mr. Speaker, I feel reasonably satisfied that when this legislation is in place, people will find it is a very workable piece of legislation and one which will set us in the time-frame to be able to deal with the future and future developments with respect to this field.

[1:45 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank members, and I look forward to the bill proceeding to the next stage.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for second reading of Bill No. 67. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

Ordered that this bill be referred to the Committe on Law Amendments.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 77.

Bill No. 77 - Agricultural Marshland Conservation Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries.

HON. ERNEST FAGE: Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to open debate on second reading on Bill No. 77, the Agricultural Marshland Conservation Act. I just want to take a couple of moments to explain a little background. This bill is intended to replace the Marshlands Reclamation Act established in 1949. The bill specifically applies to the fertile lands reclaimed from the sea incorporated under the Marshlands Reclamation Act for

[Page 8644]

agricultural purposes. These lands represent approximately 17,000 hectares and are protected by 240 kilometres of dykeland structure. This bill has no authority over the upland marshlands or natural non-dyke marshlands within the province.

By limiting non-agricultural development, we are decreasing the chance of flood damage to the commercial and residential structures that could be built on marshlands which flood during severe storm conditions or high tides. The major provisions of this bill include: no development can be carried out on a marshland unless a permit has been granted; exceptions include generally accepted farm practices that do not require a structure to be built or development or repair to protect the marshlands. Developments that were started before November 7, 2000, or had all the necessary permits in place to start up a development prior to that date are excluded.

I should say this has been brought forward and has the endorsement of the Nova Scotia Federation of Agriculture. I, as the minister, have taken an undertaking to provide some public opportunity for more public consultation. We will not be introducing this bill after second reading until November 17th has passed - public and municipal submissions will be received up to that date, and those taken into incorporation in the Law Amendments Committee. Thank you.

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

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, I would like to introduce to you and through you to all members of the House a distinguished Nova Scotian who served in this Legislature on a previous day. She is in the west gallery. She served as the member for Sackville-Beaver Bank. I would like all members to accord her the proper protocol and courtesy as we do to all guests before the House. Rosemary Godin. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: I, as well, would like to welcome the previous member who has sat with us. Welcome to the House today.

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

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, I am glad to have an opportunity to speak to this bill. I have to tell the minister that, at present, I don't see anything that raises major concerns with this piece of legislation. There are a couple things I want to draw to his attention just for clarification. I hope that when he stands to close debate, he will restate what he stated before he seated himself around November 17th and the process of going to the Law Amendments Committee; that wasn't clear to me, what his intention was there.

[Page 8645]

This legislation, which deals with conservation of marshland and for agricultural purposes, is one that I would see as significant. In a constituency like mine, noted to have the highest tides in the world, the history of settlement in Hants East, along the Minas Basin and the Shubenacadie River Valley, in particular by the French, who were the first settlers in this area, who established the dyke system that is there, that system had to be upgraded and updated, and some of that original farmland, I think we could all realize, must have been reclaimed by this point, but certainly those lands that are presently still being farmed, we see a value in that. Obviously the use of those marshlands for farm land, to a point, has been through some help by the Department of Agriculture over the past few years, for a variety of programs they had in place that helped defray the costs of keeping those lands in agricultural production.

I think it is probably prudent on the part of the government to move in this direction, considering the statement of provincial interest in the Municipal Government Act for preserving agricultural land. I know that in my own constituency, it has the unique distinction of its municipal boundary and my provincial constituency boundary being exactly the same; therefore there is almost no discussion about the area taken in by the municipality, it doesn't impact on what I do in some way or another.

I know that the municipality has been working to try to identify agricultural areas. I think that this in particular is a good initiative, considering what we have been through around the legislation of right to farm. I think this is the approach to go. I would say that this bill provides for the building replacement and repair of dykes where it is deemed economically feasible. I certainly got the impression, when we talk about this bill, that this bill really was for the maintenance of dykes, not actually to go into reclamation, which was more the direction of the previous bill. This bill is trying to set the new direction.

The bill does make a statement in Clause 4, provides authority for the minister to construct, reconstruct, and maintain marshlands. So it tends to make me think that if you are going to talk about constructing that it may be a case where there is no dyke structure there. I think it is probably regrettable that the federal government has moved away. I think the history, as it is outlined in the highlights, indicates that at one point the federal government used to take the role of maintaining the dykes, and the province and the farmers actually took care of the land beyond that, and then this fell to the province.

I know that in my area, the marshlands that are used for farming make up a major part on some properties, and there is no question about the quality of the soil and the fertility of the soil in these marshlands. Actually, for any of the members of the House who have been paying attention to the present series that has been going on around the history of Canada, it makes note about the soils in Nova Scotia and the fact that the settlers coming to this area did not suffer the same level of scurvy that other settlers in the country did, in particular because of the soils in Nova Scotia and the quality of the food that was produced here.

[Page 8646]

So, I would say to the minister that this piece of legislation is probably timely considering the previous Act, considering the municipal Act that did pay attention to identification and preservation of agricultural land. It probably makes good sense that the province would upgrade the previous legislation to a point that makes those two pieces of legislation go somewhat hand in hand and I think the province in that way is not abdicating its responsibility by staying up to date.

So, unless during the Law Amendments Committee process or the specific process that the minister referred to - as I say, I was not clear about - unless there are major concerns raised prior to this bill coming to the Committee of the Whole House, at this point I would say that we support this legislation and hope to hear more as this legislation moves through the House.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Lunenburg West.

MR. DONALD DOWNE: I want to say as well that the Agricultural Marshland Conservation Act itself, in checking with the Federation of Agriculture I guess it has been an issue that has been brought forward by the county federations for quite some time. I want to say in the beginning that as long as public consultation does take place - and the minister and I talked prior to the bill being introduced and I do appreciate his comments - that upon receipt of the information back on November 17th that he would be willing to share that with members here before it goes into the Law Amendments Committee and that we have a good sense of what the issues are, pluses and minuses to the bill itself. I want to thank him for providing that.

With that in mind - and realizing that at this point there is no major problem with that - we will in principle be supporting this bill going forward. We believe, however that the bill is a little rushed, I do not know why we could not have waited until after November 17th and that paper and information had come back and then go this route, but obviously there is probably a strategy on behalf of the House Leader to make sure that things are done at a certain period of time and maybe wanting to get this done early, for whatever reason I do not know. Suffice it to say that we will be supporting the principle of this, subject to the fact of the outcome of the public discussions that will take place.

This legislation is designed to conserve 300 year old dyke marshland for agricultural purposes for which I will support. It is interesting when you travel in Ontario and outside Toronto some of the marshland there and some of the lowland dyke land is some of the most fertile land anywhere in North America. I had the pleasure as vice-president of the Canadian Federation of Agriculture of spending some time meeting the farmers that are there and going through that operation, a tremendous potential and a great economic opportunity and we have that same opportunity here.

[Page 8647]

Really, what this bill does is to focus on conserving the current level of dyke lands and limiting non-agricultural development on developing any new marshlands. I support the minister's initiative and I support the Federation of Agriculture's initiative and those organizations that have brought this matter to the forefront. By limiting non-agricultural development we are also decreasing the chance of flood damages to commercial and residential structures that have been built on marshlands and that is another positive initiative. The bill deals only with marshland, not uplands and non-dyke marshlands. For that, we are dealing specifically with areas that talk about reclamation, reclaiming and putting it into agricultural production.

[2:00 p.m.]

So with those very few words, I have more to say on the matter itself, I mean we can go through the fact that there are 17,000 hectares of marshland and so on and so forth, suffice to say that has been said by the minister and my colleague, the member for Hants East. But I will say that this affects not just one particular county in Nova Scotia. This is to deal with Kings, Hants, Cumberland, Colchester, Annapolis, Yarmouth, Digby and Clare and so clearly it does have an impact on many jurisdictions in the province. We will support bringing it forward as I indicated. We are very seriously interested in the responses the department will get back on November 17th and we will be supporting it to move forward to the Law Amendments Committee.

MR. SPEAKER: If I recognize the honourable Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries it will be to close debate on Bill No. 77.

The honourable Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries.

HON. ERNEST FAGE: Mr. Speaker, I rise to close debate on second reading of Bill No. 77, the Agricultural Marshland Conservation Act. I will be very brief. The intention of this bill, obviously, is to preserve farmlands and certainly flood plain situations in regard to limiting the amount and type of physical structures that can be constructed on them. As the honourable member has mentioned, I certainly appreciate their support in general in moving this forward on behalf of the agricultural industry. In that light there are public meetings being held with interest groups up until November 17th. Submissions will also be received at the department and we will share those with our colleagues and hold back moving this bill forward to the Law Amendments Committee until past that date so those materials can be reviewed. With those remarks, I would like to close debate on Bill No. 77.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for second reading of Bill No. 77. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

[Page 8648]

Ordered that this bill be referred to the Committee on Law Amendments.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 74.

Bill No. 74 - Probate Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Justice.

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, it is my great pleasure to rise to say a few brief remarks with respect to the Probate Act. As members may know who know a bit about the history of the Probate Act, the probate laws in this province are a very ancient set of laws and, in fact, have not been updated, although one of the very first Acts passed by the Legislature, in fact, dealt with the probating of wills in the province and so the issue of probate is not exactly one of recent standing. Nevertheless, the probate laws in this province have been woefully neglected.

As I indicated during the bill briefing with respect to this bill, there are only two things in life that are absolutely certain - death and taxes. This certainly deals with at least one, and arguably with both, of those subject matters. (Interruption) Yes, I was going to suggest to the honourable member that both of those things existed before this government came to office. So we are not going to take credit for either one, but in all seriousness, Mr. Speaker, a large number of members of the Bar, in particular, but also registrars of probate, people who work for trust companies, a number of people who are stakeholders and work in this field have sat down over the last many months and have worked on this bill. They have put a tremendous amount of effort and time in this bill and much of that effort and time has been volunteer hours.

We have had committees dealing with drafting the bill. We have had another committee dealing with the principles of the bill. We have had a lot of time spent on this subject, Mr. Speaker, and the reason is because this is a relatively unseen area of the law, but it is nevertheless a very important area of the law. It is an area of the law which many families come into contact with at perhaps the worst time in their lives. With respect to the probating of estates, first of all, there were concerns that the system that even led to the probating with respect to wills, in particular, was made difficult by the fact, for example, that there is a requirement today that you cannot swear the affidavits to a will at the time the will is executed, therefore, you are required to chase around looking for a witness, oftentimes many years after the person has done the will. Oftentimes the witnesses are dead, have moved away or are unavailable. Some people aren't as quick at remaking their wills as they ought to be.

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A personal anecdote, I had a lady come in with a will, the husband's will, that had a great round burned spot on the middle of it. I asked what happened, she said, well, we used to keep it over the stove, it dropped out of the cupboard onto the stove and it burned a ring in the middle of the will, yet, it was quite legible. Her husband had just passed away. I looked at the will, it was done in 1942, in Toronto. Two witnesses, no problem. I said, why is it so old? She said, my husband did this will when he joined the army, which I think is quite appropriate to the subject at hand. Although he was a Nova Scotian, he was mustered into the Armed Forces in Toronto and had done the will as part of making provisions in case he was killed in action. He had made provisions for his wife, and those provisions lasted from the point he had made them, into the early 1990's, when he passed away. Fortunately there was a specific exemption for soldiers' wills, where we didn't have to find the witnesses. The nightmare of trying to deal with the subject of a will, and trying to find the witnesses for a will some 50 years after the will was made, would have been very significant. That just gives an illustration of the practical things.

There are a number of processes here that are also designed to protect beneficiaries. Unfortunately, in this province, we have had a number of situations, which honourable members will be aware of, certainly the honourable member for Lunenburg West would have read about in our local newspapers, where personal representatives have been guilty of conduct, which is extremely unfortunate. The process for removing a personal representative, who is wasting the assets of the estate, or worse, are very cumbersome and difficult. This bill makes it much simpler to remove a personal representative who is guilty of misconduct, without going through some of the hoops and ladders that were required to be done hithertofore.

There are many other things in the bill that will make probate simpler, easier and less expensive for families, provisions for waiving closing if all the beneficiaries are adult and comply. There are a number of procedures set out in the bill that will make probate simpler, that will make it cheaper and will make it quicker for families, and will nevertheless protect the creditors and the beneficiaries of the estate from wrongdoing.

Mr. Speaker, I think it is a step forward, and I am hoping that all honourable members in the House will be able to support this initiative going to the Law Amendments Committee, in an effort to modernize the law in Nova Scotia that deals with the administration of estates. I would, obviously, be prepared to talk to honourable members if they have any particular concerns about the bill, on a personal basis.

Mr. Speaker, I move second reading.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.

MR. HOWARD EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, those of us who have had the opportunity to engage in the general practice of law, as the honourable minister has, as I have, as other

[Page 8650]

members of this House have also done in the past, will know that there is a well-recognized range of subjects for which the middle class comes to lawyers. They come because they want to buy and sell property, this is standard fare. They come because they have usually come to the stage in life where they have accumulated a little property and perhaps have children, and they decide they are going to make their wills. They come because every once in a while someone dies and it is time to probate the will. They come to lawyers because every once in a while they or someone in their family might be involved in a minor criminal offence, and then, of course, they all want to divorce each other.

This is the standard fare of a general practitioner of law, but it is important to note that absolutely every one of those legal services is of great importance to the families of the individuals involved. When they come to their lawyers, they come because these matters are of great importance to them. They know they are doing something that is solemn and important. You will note in the list I gave you of the main legal preoccupations of working families, that two of them revolved around this question of wills and probate.

Now, every practitioner is fully aware of this, and most families will have taken the steps at some point of forcing themselves to come to grips with facing their own mortality and going to the lawyer in order to have wills made. It is not an easy step for them, and I am sure the minister's experience in delivering these services to people in these circumstances was perhaps quite similar to mine. I remember when I was in private practice doing a general practice that the couples that came wanting their wills made usually weren't sophisticated people with experience of going to lawyers. In general, this is one of the rare, and as I pointed out, few occasions in their lives in which they would choose to use legal services. So when they came in, they had already taken a serious step to bring themselves to come to grips with this issue. They were a little nervous, I always found. They would come, and they were keen to entrust this important step in their lives, the making of a will to someone they believed to be sound. They wanted to know that the individual they were dealing with was someone that they could trust, that this person knew what they were doing, that they were possessed of common sense and a grasp of how it is that the world went.

My experience was that every day for three years during the time I was in general practice, that I must have had four conversations a day with couples who came in in that position. In order to make sure they were dealing with someone they could trust to make their wills, to make sure the person was sound, they started off the conversation by talking about the weather. Clearly the theory was that if you could pass reasonably intelligent remarks about the weather, that you could be trusted to carry on the business of actually drafting the will and getting it right, putting in place what it is that they wanted in their documents and actually do it in a form that would pass muster later on.

I see the honourable Minister of Justice nodding and agreeing. I am sure that every lawyer who has been in practice has had this experience. This is exactly what life is like in the lawyer's office. It is exactly appropriate that, not only should the lawyers be able to have

[Page 8651]

a range of sound and convincing remarks to make about the weather, they should be able to organize themselves and get the wills right. Now, this is just fine.

The minister is quite correct that it is important in terms of how it is that the lives of most people are affected by the practice of law, that we have in place a system that not only allows them to use the system in a way that is, if I may say so, user-friendly, but that is efficient, that is not so obscure that they can't understand what is happening, and that helps them through the process. Indeed it is appropriate that we as legislators in designing a system, come up with a system that does not have about it, to the extent we can avoid it, the terrible, ancient, arcane methods that were so vividly portrayed and ridiculed in novels like Bleak House and the famous case of Jarndyce vs. Jarndyce. The fog that enveloped London that Dickens describes in the opening pages of Bleak House and which he describes as being nowhere so thick as in the Court of Probate is, I would hope, we would all hope, a thing of the past. Yet as the minister has correctly said, we still have some of the remnants of old-style probate practice surviving in our legislation. I cannot but commend the minister for bringing forward a piece of legislation that attempts to rationalize what it is that goes on in probate. It is entirely appropriate.

[2:15 p.m.]

Many of us, Mr. Speaker, I would say admire, perhaps even stand in wonder at the vast array of stray information that the minister seems to have available to him on virtually any occasion. I noticed that he drew our attention to the fact that one of the earliest of the bills that this Legislature ever dealt with had to do with probate. This is a fine example of the kind of well-informed background that the minister has and many of us admire it. It is always a wonderful experience to listen to the minister give us the benefit of his learning. I did wonder, however, when the minister talked to us about the background to this bill, why it was that he had omitted one fact. Perhaps members of the House will recall that upon first reading he introduced to us a gallery full of lawyers and trust experts who had participated in the background to generate the text of this bill. I am glad the minister was aware of all the people who had worked towards generating this bill.

But, Mr. Speaker, there was another entity that was involved. The minister might well have drawn our attention to the fact that the Law Reform Commission of Nova Scotia actually did work on probate. The Law Reform Commission of Nova Scotia did very good work on probate and produced a report that I would say in advance of the phalanx of lawyers and trust company officials who were here laid out the foundations for what it is that ought to be in the bill that we now are working on.

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: That is true.

[Page 8652]

MR. EPSTEIN: I hear, if I may so again, the minister saying this is true. I am only sorry the minister did not recall it. It may be that in the minister's rush to forget the existence of the Law Reform Commission, he has banished it entirely from his mind. It is not absent from my mind, Mr. Speaker, and I want to draw the obvious lesson yet again for the members of this House, which is how valuable it is to us as a province to have in existence a vibrant, hard-working Law Reform Commission doing its job.

The minister in bringing forward this bill has only illustrated for us yet again what a valuable service the Law Reform Commission does for not much money. I am sure the minister and all members of the House understand my point in this regard. Indeed, I think this is the second bill that we have had come forward from the government this session which has had its antecedents in the work of the Law Reform Commission. There is no reason why it is that we could not continue to benefit from the research, analysis, expertise and hard work of the Law Reform Commission in the future.

With that, Mr. Speaker, I do want to make it clear that we will, of course, support Bill No. 74 at second reading. We have no hesitation in supporting the principle of the bill which is to make the probate proceedings more user-friendly. This is entirely appropriate. We do have a few minor questions to deal with during the Law Amendments Committee. I hope that perhaps some of those who were involved in the more recent drafting do get the opportunity to come talk with us at the Law Amendments Committee or perhaps we might enter into dialogue with the minister or some of his staff at that time.

With that said, we have no hesitation in supporting Bill No. 74 and will indeed, in our caucus, be supporting it at second reading. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Richmond.

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: It is a pleasure to rise and make a few comments on Bill No. 74, an Act to amend the Probate Act in this province. I want to commend the minister and this government for bringing forward this important legislation which certainly has been long overdue to address this area of law.

As has been pointed out, this bill modernizes probate laws here in our province and from our perspective this bill is very welcome. It is extremely important as a government in trying to govern this province to modernize our laws as the times change and certainly we are seeing rapid change in our province right now. It is a whole new world out there compared to when these laws were first written and it is essential for us to make sure that these laws are living laws and that they continue to be amended to address the changes that go on and that they do not remain stale and create problems. Certainly, with the Probate Act there were certain sections of it that clearly were not living up to the new reality that we have here in our province. It was important for that to be changed.

[Page 8653]

As it has been pointed out by the minister and other speakers, our Probate Act here in Nova Scotia dates back as far as 1842, so needless to say it was time to dust off this particular Act and bring it out and make the necessary changes to it.

On behalf of my caucus, I want to thank all the lawyers and trustees and others who worked hard to come up with the necessary recommendations for this bill and as it has been pointed out by the member for Halifax Chebucto, I recall not too long ago seeing come across my desk a Law Reform Commission Report on the Probate Act and the changes that should be made to that Act and I remember glancing through it just a bit. It was quite an extensive report - it must have been at least 20 to 30 pages, so certainly as it has been pointed out by the member for Halifax Chebucto it is just another indicator of the importance of the Law Reform Commission as an independent body to sit back and review some of these different Acts that we have here in this province and try to point out to government some of the changes which should be made.

When one considers the small amount of money that it was costing to fund the Law Reform Commission, I have heard the minister say that he will dedicate some resources in his department to try to take over the role of the Law Reform Commission. With all due respect to the staff in his department, I don't think they can ever replace the work that was being done by the Law Reform Commission because I believe they are overworked to start off with in this department. That is not a knock against the quality of his staff or the capability, but they have a full plate to start off with. The Law Reform Commission was a body which could sit back and analyse laws and not be under the same time constraints or under the same pressure as what one would expect of the day-to-day Civil Service. It is with sincere hope that the minister and his government will reconsider the decision to cut funding to the Law Reform Commission and will, after seeing this type of legislation. I have no doubt the abundance of legislation being thrown at us by this government is certainly in no small part due to the hard work of the Law Reform Commission over the years and I hope the minister will reconsider that.

One of the most substantial changes in the new bill before us relates to title of land after death which is a great concern. Because of the changes, the title of land owned by the deceased will now rest with a personal representative or the executor of the will, which will make it much easier to be able to close estates and be able to make transfers than what previously was the case here in this province and which was certainly a hindrance to speedy resolution to the closure of estates.

The bill also deals with the fact that if an individual dies intestate, that is they have died without a will, the court will then appoint an administrator which will then be capable of the disposition of the rest of the estate. Ownership of the individuals' personal property will rest with the public trustee until an administrator is appointed. As the same time, this change brings Nova Scotia in line with most other jurisdictions in Canada. Again, I commend the minister for making this most important change here today. The probate

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process itself is also being streamlined in allowing registrars of probate to hear many proceedings of the Probate Court and many issues in dispute if all parties agree.

Now, certainly with all other aspects of our justice system, it is important we all know how overworked and the backlog with cases by justices throughout our entire system, and it was no different in Probate Court. I certainly recall working on a number of cases as an articling clerk. There were always delays in trying to slot in times. It was extremely frustrating for the executors of the estates. Quite often, it would have been a family member. They were doing so at their own expense. It was a learning process for them, and it was an expensive process in many cases, because they did not want to have to take out unnecessary funds from the estate for their travel to try to slot in different appointments. It was very difficult for them. Hopefully this will be a means to avoid that, to make it as simple a process as possible. Certainly, I am sure the minister will agree that executors who are not in the justice system or trustees or those who have previous knowledge of how this works, it is a tremendous task, to say the least, to try to administer an estate and to try to make sure to follow the wishes of the individual whose estate you are administering.

It is often a costly measure. It is a very frustrating measure. I have heard many people who have said, I will never do it again, because it is extremely time consuming and in many cases, the individual ends up losing more money out of their own pocket than what they would have ever anticipated, especially in cases where the executor may not even be in the same province as the person who has passed away. I have seen cases of that. The person who passed away was here in Nova Scotia, the executor lived in British Columbia. The executor had to travel to Nova Scotia I think on five different occasions to try to settle the estate. Now it was a complicated estate in that particular case, but certainly, it was difficult even trying to get into Probate Court and trying to make sure to do as many things as possible in that one trip rather than the five trips. That was often difficult. Hopefully, this change with allowing the registrars of probate to hear proceedings at the agreement of all parties will avoid some of those complications and try to speed up the process a bit more and not make it as frustrating a process to the executors.

Again, the result of this is that a judge will only need to be involved if necessary. I think in many cases in probate, I would say it is the overall exception that estates are in dispute. So hopefully, this will cut back on the amount of time required for the actual judges of probate to be dealing with these different issues. Hopefully it will streamline and time will tell. I am certainly optimistic that this will be a very positive move.

One of the other changes, that the procedural rules are being simplified and forms will use plain language which again is going to be a very positive thing for the executors of the estates who do not have legal background or financial backgrounds to be able to deal with these matters. Again, this is a very positive move.

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The probate data will be computerized and available in Probate Courts. Certainly again, this is a welcome move to see that we are bringing, as I have said, the Probate Act into the era of 2000 and making it a more user-friendly system. One of the concerns that has popped up as a result of this, Mr. Speaker, as a result of all of these changes, the minister hasn't indicated where the funding is going to come from to be able to carry out these changes. To be able to computerize this whole system, to change the forms and everything, there is going to be a need to invest some money into this.

This particular Bill No. 74 is only going to be able to succeed and to be able to accomplish what it has set out to do if the proper financing is put in place. I am not trying to be pessimistic, Mr. Speaker, but too often we have seen with the cuts made by this government and the streamlining by this government, you know, they didn't have enough money to keep funding the Law Reform Commission and they cut that funding. Yet now they are telling us they are going to start computerizing things, changing the probate around and not even telling us where the funding is going to come from. So that causes me a great deal of concern. I am sure it causes a lot of concern to our entire caucus that . . .

[2:30 p.m.]

MR. DONALD DOWNE: Look at the correctional centre.

MR. SAMSON: Yes, exactly. We wonder if maybe the closure of the Lunenburg Correctional Centre is where they are going to save the money to be able to pay for the changes to the Probate Act. I would encourage the Minister of Justice, in his closing comments on second reading, maybe to address that and, on behalf of all the good people of Lunenburg, indicate to them if that is exactly where this money is coming from. I thank my colleague from Lunenburg West for having raised that possibility. I don't think he is far off the mark in this particular case. Only the Minister of Justice himself will be able to address that.

One of the other big changes is that the amendments will allow the Probate Court to make an order to protect the assets of an estate. Overall, as I have said, the changes are as a result of some very hard work by the Law Reform Commission, the lay people who sat on that, the different lawyers and members of the Nova Scotia Barristers' Society, trustees, and everyone else who had input. We are pleased to see that the government has listened. I know the minister tabled another bill this morning which makes changes to a whole variety of different Acts, but for the most part they are positive changes, they are bringing our law forward into the year 2000, and I want to commend the minister and his department for doing that.

Again, in closing, the minister has said that he will allocate more resources in his department to deal with the issues that were addressed by the Law Reform Commission. I would hope to see the minister soon come forward in this House and indicate exactly how

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he plans on doing so, which people in his department will be mandated to take care of this, what type of budget will they be given, and exactly what their role will be in doing so. I think it is safe to say, what the minister has heard today from the member for Halifax Chebucto, just paying lip service to this House, and saying to pay no attention to the fact that we have cut the Law Reform Commission, we will replace them internally, is not good enough for the members of this House.

We expect much more from the minister. He has recognized, and he has admitted himself, the important role of this body, and we will certainly hold him accountable to come back to this House and tell us exactly what plan he has put in place to be able to make sure that the other Acts - the numerous Acts administered by this province - continue to be reviewed and continue to be updated. It is absolutely necessary.

Mr. Speaker, certainly, our caucus will be looking at this bill in a favourable light at this point. There may be some other concerns raised, but we do look forward to it moving on to pass second reading, into the Law Amendments Committee and at that point we will see. There may be some concerns raised by those affected by this; there might just be something in there that we didn't think about that they will bring to our attention. If that is so, I look forward, as a member of the Law Amendments Committee, to being able to address that, and to bring forward any necessary amendments to this important legislation.

With that, I will take my place, and I believe my colleague from Cape Breton West has a few comments to add.

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

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, by no stretch of the imagination do I profess to know a lot about this legal process, but I do want to share a few thoughts with the members of the Legislature from personal experience. As a professional who has to deal with matters regarding real estate that surround estates of various individuals and companies, I can readily, at first glance see that this particular piece of legislation is long overdue, and it is a good initiative. There is one thing that, perhaps, if the minister would be kind enough to clarify when he is wrapping up on second reading, surrounding the issue of probate.

As I understand it, when someone passes on and they leave a will, an executor is appointed to oversee this particular piece of estate, and there is a process that one has to go through. You go in, as the executor, and you make application to have the will probated. At that particular point in time, you pay a fee and then the Registry of Probate takes control of the will and they register that will in the Registry of Probate and Registry of Deeds simultaneously.

[Page 8657]

One problem that I found that has evolved over the years is that when a probate is opened, you do not necessarily have to close it in order to be able to transfer title and that creates problems, I am sure, for the legal profession. It certainly creates problems for those family members who would be affected because, as I understand from experience, some lawyers who I deal with will not certify title until the probate is closed. Other lawyers will, in fact, allow for the transfer of title without the probate being closed, Mr. Speaker. So if 5 years or 10 years down the road somebody is buying a piece of that particular estate that was willed to an individual, then a lawyer may or may not certify title based on the fact that the probate was opened but not closed or the final documentation after the advertisement, all the proper papers are filed, plus the advertisement in the Royal Gazette and so on, and the appropriate sequence of events would take place.

What we need to have clarified with the minister, Mr. Speaker, is the issue of this lack of clarity on title through the probate process. Will that be resolved with the adoption of this particular piece of legislation? If it is, well, that is great. That is great because then we have continuity on how we are going to be dealing with chains of title from one party to the next. That is not clear under the present system and that is certainly a problem for anyone such as myself doing surveys. If we are expected to certify that so and so owns parcel A, then you would like to be able to give the most accurate and up-to-date information that you possibly can.

Obviously, Mr. Speaker, we do not certify the quality of title. We just certify the extent of title and the lawyer accepts the first responsibility, but certainly to have that ambiguity taken out of the system, I think this would be an excellent opportunity to do that. Now, whether the minister has that addressed in this particular piece of legislation or not is difficult to say. Maybe it is something that goes beyond the purview of this particular piece of legislation and it is something that can only be resolved through the court system by judicial decision.

Now, if it is the intent of the minister to make that an absolute and it can be done in the legislation, then we are talking about a taxing matter. We are talking about a taxing issue and I am speaking from experience, Mr. Speaker, that would for many individuals almost double the cost of completing the transfer of title by a will because a will is a deed; by any other word, a will is a deed. We have different types of deeds. We have a quick claim deed. We have a warranty deed. We have a trustee's deed. We have a will. We can go on and on, but this is one of the few that has a lot of uncertainties about the implications on the transfer of title.

Mr. Speaker, perhaps the Minister of Justice would be prepared when he is wrapping up on second reading (Interruption) I am getting some prompting here and that is always good too.

AN HON. MEMBER: Wrap up is a good word.

[Page 8658]

MR. MACKINNON: The honourable Minister of Labour would love to engage in this debate. He and I have had some spirited debates earlier this week and I know he is just gnawing at the bit to get back into this. This would be an excellent opportunity for him to get on some solid legal ground for a change.

Anyway, this is a serious matter in the sense that we are talking about whether the government will be securing another opportunity to generate a rather extensive amount of revenue through this process, Mr. Speaker. If we were to draw ourselves to Clause 86 and Clause 87, and I don't want to start going through clause by clause, because as we know, we are here to debate the principle of the bill, but one of the principles is also the ability for the Minister of Finance and the Minister of Justice to generate revenue. That is in here. It is in here under a number of different forms. The Minister of Justice very conveniently overlooked that entire issue.

Mr. Speaker that is, in fact, a major concern for the Opposition. Also, when you look at the fact that we have, I would say, close to 20 different sets of terms of reference on the design of our regulations, perhaps it would be most helpful for the Minister of Justice to at least provide a draft copy of those regulations so my colleague from Richmond County, our very able Justice Critic, could apprise members of the committee as to what the implications are. Not only our Justice Critic, but the next Minister of Justice for the Province of Nova Scotia. There we go. We think ahead. We don't think like the Conservatives looking through the rear-view mirror.

Mr. Speaker, one of the good things I do see in this bill, and it has been addressed by a number of individuals, is with estates for individuals who die intestate, in other words, they don't have a will, and a guardian would have to be appointed. Well, I recall back more than 20 years ago, when my wife's father passed away. He died without a will, and not living in the same community, he lived in the New Glasgow area, the court appointed a lawyer to look after his estate. Everything was settled. Of course, being young and not knowing the legal process to the extent we do today, everything was settled in a very calm, quiet fashion, and I am sure done very ably, but it wasn't until almost 20 years later that we found out there was a deficit to the way the whole process was handled. In fact, my wife's father was eligible for some security from his previous place of employment, his pension. That was not even addressed on the devolution of that aspect of the estate.

I notice in this particular piece of legislation the assigning of trustees and the terms of reference for that, Mr. Speaker, is a very positive initiative and I am pleased to see that in this particular piece of legislation.

Mr. Speaker, I think it may take several years before all the wrinkles come out of this particular piece of legislation in terms of the day-to-day operation, because as the Minister of Justice well knows, if it is anything like in surveying, no two lawyers will think alike on the same issue. You can have the same issue, put 10 lawyers in the room and you will get 10

[Page 8659]

different opinions on the same issue. We saw that when we were trying to deal with the issue of chronic pain in the Workers' Compensation issue. I believe there were seven lawyers in the room, including the then Labour Critic, who is now Minister of Justice, trying to analyse that. We, I believe, in the final analysis, did come to a consensus, but we started off with eight totally different opinions as to how to handle that. So these are the day-to-day issues that will come as the bill proceeds. It is refreshing, as well, to see that this is bringing this facet of our legal process in line with other jurisdictions. It is long overdue. It is certainly something that I know the Law Reform Commission sunk its teeth into, and did an excellent job. I commend all those stakeholders as well.

[2:45 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, that having been said, I would hope that as time passes and we go from second reading on to the Law Amendments Committee, perhaps even if the minister, when he is wrapping up on second reading, would be kind enough to clarify some of those issues that I have raised. I think they are very important issues. When you have some members of the legal profession certifying title with a probate issue not closed, and others certifying title with the probate still open, just with the will by virtue of its public notice, registered in the Registry of Deeds and/or Probate Court, then that certainly adds confusion for future generations.

Mr. Speaker, with that, with the concurrence of the minister, who will be wrapping up after this, I will now take my place.

MR. SPEAKER: If I recognize the minister it will be to close the debate.

The honourable Minister of Justice.

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to rise to close debate. I would like to thank honourable members opposite for their interventions with respect to the bill, their support of the bill, and their agreement that it move on to the Law Amendments Committee. (Interruptions) That is right. I might add that I do honestly appreciate, particularly, the honourable member for Halifax Chebucto and the honourable member for Richmond, being practising lawyers, they are interested in this subject on a personal basis - their interventions.

Mr. Speaker, I move second reading.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for second reading of Bill No. 74. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried. (Applause)

[Page 8660]

Ordered that this bill be referred to the Committee on Law Amendments.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, we have a bill to report back. It is just the one bill from the Law Amendments Committee.

Mr. Speaker, would you please revert to the order of business, Presenting Reports of Committees.

MR. SPEAKER: There is a request to revert to Presenting Reports of Committees.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Justice.

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, as Chairman of the Committee on Law Amendments, I am directed to report that the committee has met and considered the following bill:

Bill No. 64 - Dairy Industry Act.

and the committee recommends this bill to the favourable consideration of the House, without amendment.

MR. SPEAKER: Ordered that this bill be referred to the Committee of the Whole House on Bills.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I move the House do now rise to meet again on Tuesday at the hour of 12:00 noon. We will be sitting until 8:00 p.m. The order of business will be Public Bills for Second Reading and Committee of the Whole House on Bills. We may as well stay with the Minister of Justice and do Bill No. 75, then Bill No. 76, then Bill No. 78.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is carried.

[Page 8661]

The House will now rise until 12:00 p.m. on Tuesday. I hope everyone will have a safe journey home and a nice long weekend with their families. Until Tuesday at noon.

We stand adjourned.

[The House rose at 2:50 p.m.]

[Page 8662]

NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3)

RESOLUTION NO. 3250

By: Hon. Murray Scott (The Speaker)

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

Whereas the Royal Canadian Legion Branch No. 4 of Joggins, Cumberland County, Nova Scotia, recently suffered much damage as a result of a fire; and

Whereas the Legion in Joggins continues to be an important contributor and part of the local community by being involved in many functions and assisting many of those in need in the local area; and

Whereas once again the members of the Legion of this area have shown their strength with the support of the community by rebuilding the Legion to ensure that it has a secure future for many years to come;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this Legislature congratulate the members of the Royal Canadian Legion Joggins Branch No. 4, other area Legions, residents of the communities of Joggins, River Hebert and area and all those who assisted this Legion to repair the damage that it sustained in this recent fire and wish them all the very best in the future.

RESOLUTION NO. 3251

By: Mr. Mark Parent (Kings North)

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

Whereas Mr. Fred Whalen has served his constituents faithfully as the Councillor for District 4 of the County of Kings; and

Whereas the voters of that district recognizing this fact have rewarded Mr. Whalen for his hard work by re-electing him to this position; and

Whereas at a recent council meeting Mr. Fred Whalen was chosen by his peers to serve as Warden for Kings County, the fastest growing county in the Province of Nova Scotia;

[Page 8663]

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House join me in congratulating Mr. Whalen and in wishing him well as he assumes his new role as warden.

RESOLUTION NO. 3252

By: Mr. Mark Parent (Kings North)

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

Whereas the senior girls' soccer team from the Cornwallis District High School recently won the provincial championship in a series of hard fought games against teams from Stellarton and Westville; and

Whereas this is the first time that the senior girls' soccer team of Cornwallis District High School have won a provincial championship; and

Whereas this is the third in a series of provincial championships won by Coach Dale Sanford and the senior girls' team as they celebrated victories in softball and basketball last year;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House join me in congratulating Coach Dale Sanford along with the girls of the senior high soccer team for their success and for the sportsman-like manner in which they conducted themselves.

RESOLUTION NO. 3253

By: Hon. Murray Scott (The Speaker)

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

Whereas the War Memorial Committee of Port Greville is about to unveil the Robert Cochrane Memorial Park named after the late Mr. Cochrane for his commitment to the community and neighbours; and

Whereas the war memorial will contain 147 names of veterans who were born, lived, or worked between Fox River and Fraserville; and

Whereas John Chipman Kerr, who as born and raised in Fox River, will be recognized on the war memorial as the recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest honour a veteran can receive;

[Page 8664]

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Estelle Larsen, President of the War Memorial Committee, and all her supporters on the hard work and effort that has led to this project becoming a reality, which will be a reminder for generations to come of the commitment and dedication of those individuals who have fought in many conflicts on behalf of all Canadians.