Assemblée Législative de la Nouvelle-Écosse

Les travaux de la Chambre ont repris le
21 septembre 2017

Hansard -- Wed., Oct. 13, 1999

First Session

WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 13, 1999

TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE
PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS:
Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Pictou West: Munroe Avenue Extension -
Pave, Mrs. M. Baillie 167
TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS:
Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Antigonish: Highway - Interchanges,
Hon. G. Balser 168
STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS:
Econ. Dev. - BCA Investment Co-operative Ltd. (Sydney): Investment
Fund Program - Congrats., Hon. G. Balser 168
GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 64, Econ. Dev. - Companies (N.S.-40): ISO 9000 Certs. - Congrats.,
Hon. G. Balser 170
Vote - Affirmative 171
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS:
No. 2, Cost and Fees Act/Probate Act, Hon. M. Baker 171
No. 3, Coastal Properties Study (1999) Act, Mr. W. Estabrooks 171
NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 65, Paul MacEwan MLA (Elected 13/10/70): Service (29 yrs.) -
Congrats., Mr. R. MacLellan 171
Vote - Affirmative 172
Res. 66, Gov't. (Can.) - C.B.: Plans - Include, Mr. Robert Chisholm 172
Vote - Affirmative 172
Res. 67, Health - South Shore Health Serv. Fdn.: CAT Scan Fund -
Commitment Congrats., Hon. M. Baker 173
Vote - Affirmative 173
Res. 68, Lbr. - Occup. Health & Safety: Regs. - Implement,
Mr. R. MacKinnon 173
Res. 69, Health - Alzheimer Soc.: Work - Commend, Ms. E. O'Connell 174
Vote - Affirmative 175
Res. 70, Educ. - Women's History Month (Can.): Women (Can.:N.S./
Les Acadiennes) - Contribution Recognize, Hon. J. Purves 175
Vote - Affirmative 176
Res. 71, Exco - Tourism: Min. - Identify, Mr. D. Wilson 176
Res. 72, Culture - Blandford Area Historical Soc.: Preservation Work -
Congrats., Hon. J. Chataway 176
Vote - Affirmative 177
Res. 73, Marc Patrone (ATV Leg. Reporter) - Home: Fire Loss -
Support Extend, Mr. F. Corbett 177
Vote - Affirmative 178
Res. 74, Agric. - Windsor Pumpkin Festival (Squash Winner):
Matthew Corkum (Wileville) - Congrats., Mr. D. Downe 178
Vote - Affirmative 178
Res. 75, Teen Missions Internat. Prog. (Jamaica) - Jennifer Lohnes
(Lun. Co.): Work - Congrats., Hon. M. Baker 179
Vote - Affirmative 179
Res. 76, Commun. Serv. - Small Options Homes: Regs. Proper - Ensure,
Mr. K. Deveaux 179
Res. 77, Ukrainian Catholic Church - Rt. Rev. John Tataryn
(Ex-Whitney Pier): Anniv. 40th - Congrats., Mr. P. MacEwan 180
Vote - Affirmative 181
Res. 78, Econ. Dev. - J.W. Rafuse Trucking: Anniv. 50th - Congrats.,
Hon. J. Chataway 181
Vote - Affirmative 181
Res. 79, Educ. - Geog. Educ. (Natl. Council): Prof. Wayne Hamilton
(Brookside) - Achievement Award Congrats., Mr. W. Estabrooks 181
Vote - Affirmative 182
Res. 80, Tourism - Windsor Pumpkin Regatta: Organizers - Congrats.,
Hon. R. Russell 182
Vote - Affirmative 183
Res. 81, Econ. Dev. - Kerr Controls Ltd. (Truro): Anniv. 50th -
Congrats., Hon. J. Muir 183
Vote - Affirmative 184
Res. 82, Metro Food Bank: Efforts - Applaud/Internat. Air Show (N.S.) -
Fund-raising Thank, Ms. M. McGrath 184
Vote - Affirmative 184
Res. 83, Health - Early Childhood Intervention Prog. (Guys. Co.):
Karen Roberts (Coordinator) - Support, Mr. Ronald Chisholm 184
Vote - Affirmative 185
Res. 84, Lbr. - Fire Prevention Week: Stephanie Doucette (Yar.) -
Ambassador Award Recognize, Mr. R. Hurlburt 185
Vote - Affirmative 186
Res. 85, Econ. Dev. - Ledwidge Lumber (Enfield): Expansion - Congrats.,
Mr. B. Taylor 186
Vote - Affirmative 187
Res. 86, Culture - Trueman Matheson (Londonderry, Col. Co.):
Historical Research - Congrats., Mr. W. Langille 187
Vote - Affirmative 188
Res. 87, Older Person Internat. Year - Queens RM: Contribution -
Recognize, Mr. K. Morash 188
Vote - Affirmative 188
Res. 88, Nat. Res. - Forestry: White Pine Underutilization -
Research Recognize, Mr. J. DeWolfe 189
Vote - Affirmative 189
Res. 89, Sports - Baseball (Senior [N.S.]): Kentville Wildcats -
Winners-Congrats., Mr. M. Parent 189
Vote - Affirmative 190
Res. 90, Culture - Crescent Beach Ctr. & Ragged Is. Historical Soc.:
"Lost at Sea" Comm. - Commend, Mr. C. O'Donnell 190
Vote - Affirmative 191
Res. 91, Health - Terry Fox Run: Rosie Steele (Sackville) [Cancer
Survivor/Volunteer] - Recognize, Mr. B. Barnett 191
Vote - Affirmative 192
Res. 92, Health - Dr. Allan Purdy (Neurology Head QE II):
AAU Instructional Leadership Award - Congrats., Hon. J. Muir 192
Vote - Affirmative 193
Res. 93, Health - Mental Health Awareness Week-Recognize/
CMHA (Dart.)-Work Applaud, Mr. T. Olive 193
Vote - Affirmative 193
Res. 94, Agric.: Pictou-N. Col. Exh. - Congrats., Mrs. M. Baillie 193
Vote - Affirmative 194
Res. 95, Culture - Ship Hector Tartan: Janice Gammon (Lyons Brook)
Creator - Appreciation Extend, Mrs. M. Baillie 194
Vote - Affirmative 195
Res. 96, Fish. - Leatherback Turtle: Taggers - Congrats., Mr. D. Morse 195
Vote - Affirmative 196
Res. 97, Sports - Baseball: Kentville - Team (Wildcats) Promotion
Applaud, Mr. M. Parent 196
Vote - Affirmative 196
Res. 98, Educ. - Black Educators Assoc.: Anniv. 30th - Congrats.,
Mr. T. Olive 197
Vote - Affirmative 197
Res. 99, Sports - Sackville Stadium: Anniv. 10th - Congrats.,
Mr. B. Barnet 197
Vote - Affirmative 198
Res. 100, Econ. Dev. - Westville: Opportunities - Encourage,
Mr. J. DeWolfe 198
Vote - Affirmative 199
ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS:
No. 20, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Antigonish: Bypass Route - Costs,
Mr. R. MacLellan 199
No. 21, Fin. - HST: Fairness - Comm. (All-Party), Mr. Robert Chisholm 200
No. 22, Fin. - Prog. Review: Cutbacks - Timetable, Mr. D. Downe 201
No. 23, Fin. - HST: Changes - Rationale, Mr. Robert Chisholm 203
No. 24, Health - Hospitals: Community - Future, Dr. J. Smith 204
No. 25, Health - Care: Funding - Reduction, Mr. D. Dexter 206
No. 26, Lbr. - Fire Marshal: Fire Prevention - Preparedness,
Mr. R. MacKinnon 207
No. 27, Health - Care: Regionalized - Task Force, Mr. D. Dexter 208
No. 28, Commun. Serv. - Seniors: Pty. Tax Rebate - Cost, Dr. J. Smith 209
No. 29, Health - Hepatitis C: Compensation Pkg. - Progress,
Mr. D. Dexter 210
No. 30, Justice - Jail (Bedford/Burnside): Site Change - Cost,
Mr. M. Samson 211
No. 31, Transport. & Pub. Wks.: Purchase Approvals - Methodology,
Mr. J. Holm 213
No. 32, Health - Throne Speech: Reg. Bds. - Abolition Clarify, Dr. J. Smith 214
No. 33, Econ. Dev. - C.B.: Plans - Outline, Mr. F. Corbett 215
No. 34, Devco - Coal Leases: Policies (Gov't. [N.S.-1998-99]) - Uphold,
Mr. D. Wilson 216
No. 35, Fin. - Admin. Costs: Review - Info., Mr. J. Holm 217
No. 36, Justice - Abuse: Shelburne School - Compensation Review,
Mr. R. MacLellan 219
No. 37, Econ. Dev. - Mac Timber: Monies - Investigation, Mr. F. Corbett 220
No. 38, Justice - Abuse: Compensation Prog. - Public Review,
Mr. M. Samson 221
No. 39, Educ. - P3 Schools: Mould Problem - Investigate,
Ms. Maureen MacDonald 223
No. 40, Educ. - P3 Schools: New (16) - Future, Mr. W. Gaudet 224
No. 41, Educ. - P3: Richmond Co. - Site Selection Dispute,
Ms. Maureen MacDonald 225
No. 42, Transport. & Pub. Wks.: Pit & Quarry Work - Regulations,
Mr. B. Boudreau 226
No. 43, Educ. - P3 Schools: Developers - Guidelines,
Ms. Maureen MacDonald 227
No. 44, Lbr. - Workers' Advisers Prog. - Appointment (Ms. Mary Lloyd),
Mr. R. MacKinnon 228
No. 45, Educ. - Busing Restrictions: Review - Status, Mr. W. Estabrooks 229
OPPOSITION MEMBERS' BUSINESS:
MOTIONS OTHER THAN GOVERNMENT MOTIONS:
Res. 6, Sysco - Closure: Impact - Intolerable, Mr. P. MacEwan 230
Mr. P. MacEwan 231
Hon. G. Balser 233
Mr. F. Corbett 236
Mr. Manning MacDonald 239
Mr. T. Olive 241
Res. 20, Health - Full-time Nurses: Funding Commitment -
Intention Indicate, Dr. J. Smith 241
Dr. J. Smith 241
Hon. J. Muir 243
Mr. D. Dexter 246
Vote - Affirmative 247
Res. 32, Justice - Jail/Forensic Hosp.: Location - Indecision Expensive,
Mr. M. Samson 248
Mr. M. Samson 248
Hon. M. Baker 250
Mr. B. Barnet 251
Mr. J. Pye 252
Vote - Negative 255
ADJOURNMENT:
MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5):
Tourism - Shelburne: U.S. Link - Progress Commend:
Mr. C. O'Donnell 256
Mr. P. MacEwan 258
Mr. W. Estabrooks 259
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Thur., Oct. 14th at 2:00 p.m. 261

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HALIFAX, WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 13, 1999

Fifty-eighth General Assembly

First Session

2:00 P.M.

SPEAKER

Hon. Murray Scott

DEPUTY SPEAKERS

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

MR. SPEAKER: Before we begin with the daily routine, the late debate tonight has been submitted by the honourable member for Shelburne:

Therefore be it resolved that this House commend the community of Shelburne in the work achieved to date on realizing a new link with our neighbours to the south - a link which would create a huge opportunity for Shelburne and Nova Scotia's tourism potential.

This will be heard at 6:00 p.m. tonight.

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou West.

MRS. MURIEL BAILLIE: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition signed by the resident of the New Glasgow area, specifically the residents of Munroe Avenue Extension. These residents petition this Legislature that Munroe Avenue Extension be paved, not patched. These petitioners were promised 30 years ago that it would be paved. These residents of Munroe Avenue Extension are requesting a couple of Children Playing signs, one sign at the residence of Mary MacDonald and another at Pat Hunter's residence. I have affixed my signature, as required, to the original copy of this petition.

167

[Page 168]

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Transportation and Public Works.

HON. GORDON BALSER: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table the information I said I would submit to the House today. It is with regard to the cost of the various interchanges on the Antigonish highway.

MR. SPEAKER: The information is tabled.

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Economic Development.

HON. GORDON BALSER: Mr. Speaker, today I would like to invite the honourable members to join me in congratulating BCA Investment Co-operative Limited of Sydney as it launches the first fund in Nova Scotia's new Community Economic Development Investment Fund Program. BCA's Investment Fund is planning to raise up to $2 million for investment in Cape Breton businesses. The co-operative is launching its fund-raising drive today and expects to be looking for investment opportunities by spring.

Mr. Speaker, this is not only good news, a number of other communities across the province have formed investment co-operatives and will soon be making similar public offerings. Community Economic Development investment funds provide a direct way for Nova Scotians to invest in their own communities. These funds will help the private sector and ordinary citizens to take control of their economic destinies and grow their communities from within.

Mr. Speaker, Nova Scotians invest more than $600 million in RRSPs every year. Less than 2 per cent of this is reinvested in Nova Scotia. With our new CED Investment Fund Program, the province is encouraging more Nova Scotians to make investments here at home. As members of this House, we should do everything we can to encourage Nova Scotians to invest in Nova Scotia. Let's keep a lot more of that $600 million working here in this province.

The Department of Economic Development has worked closely with the Department of Finance and the Nova Scotia Securities Commission Department to develop a program that will help Nova Scotians keep their dollars here at home. How do Nova Scotians invest in

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CED investment funds? How can they form a fund? They just have to contact their local Economic Development Business Service Centre or a regional development agency.

The Department of Economic Development supports projects that grow from local initiatives, that build on the strengths of our communities and that create jobs and increase exports right straight across this province. We provide continuing support to those setting up CED investment funds through a network of business service centres across this province. Staff at these centres are there every step of the way to help community groups complete their applications and go through the approval process.

Once again, I would like to offer congratulations to BCA Investment Co-operative and please join me in wishing them the best of success in Cape Breton. Thank you. (Applause)

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

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the minister opposite for providing me with a copy of the ministerial statement well in advance of today's sitting. I also want to congratulate Father Greg MacLeod and BCA Holdings in Cape Breton on this important initiative. Again, I want to congratulate the minister in his efforts to continue to support policies of the Department of Economic Development that were developed by the previous government of this province. I want to wish the group every success in their efforts to raise up to $2 million for investment in Cape Breton business ventures.

The importance of community economic development cannot be overstated and is a way for Nova Scotia communities to invest in their own backyards; self-help and in this case, made in Cape Breton solutions. I know that the very efficient staff working for Economic Development in Sydney will be involved in this venture. I sincerely hope that support for local initiatives will be locally driven and not from above.

Again, my congratulations to Father Greg MacLeod and BCA Holdings, an individual and a company that have again demonstrated its tangible support for made in Cape Breton solutions. Thank you.

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

MR. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, I too would like to thank the minister for providing me with a copy of the statement beforehand, it was very much appreciated. I would also like to congratulate Father Greg MacLeod and the Board of Directors at BCA Holdings for getting on with this venture.

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I think it is important, as we have been saying for many years, that economic development has to be driven by the local community. Indeed, this is a tangible effort on that part. One thing I would like to correct the minister on, I don't think that it is fair to say that this is a Sydney group, indeed, it is a Cape Breton group. These types of CD investment funds are important for groups like BCA Holdings and other RDA-type groups. With that in mind, I would hope that we would see if there is any more expansion of this ideology in tomorrow's budget, that we can give protection and, indeed, encouragement to these groups.

In closing, I would like to congratulate having the fund there, whichever government initiated it. I would push forward the fact that tomorrow, seeing it shored up and make sure that the investors are protected and that BCA in particular should be lauded for this initiative. Thank you.

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Economic Development.

RESOLUTION NO. 64

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

Whereas on October 12th, 40 Nova Scotia companies were recognized for having received their ISO 9000 certification during the 11th Annual Nova Scotia Quality Forum; and

Whereas securing their ISO 9000 certification is an endorsement of each company's ability to compete with the best in the world and succeed; and

Whereas these companies, as a result of their commitment to quality, are helping to increase our exports, create jobs for Nova Scotians and improve our local economy;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate the 40 companies on having received their ISO 9000 designation.

Mr. Speaker, I would seek waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

[Page 171]

The motion is carried.

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

Bill No. 2 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 104 of the Revised Statutes, 1989, the Cost and Fees Act, and Chapter 359 of the Revised Statutes, 1989, the Probate Act. (Hon. Michael G. Baker)

Bill No. 3 - Entitled an Act to Provide for a Study of Non-resident Ownership of Coastal Properties in Nova Scotia. (Mr. William Estabrooks)

MR. SPEAKER: Ordered that these bills be read a second time on a future day.

NOTICES OF MOTION

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

RESOLUTION NO. 65

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

Whereas the honourable member for Cape Breton Nova, Paul MacEwan, today completes 29 years of service in this Legislature and enters his 30th year; and

Whereas the honourable member for Cape Breton Nova has set an all-time record for continuous service in this House and has equalled the all-time record of nine times being elected to this House set earlier by the late Senator Willie Comeau; and

[2:15 p.m.]

Whereas research done by the Legislative Library has verified these records and confirmed that Paul MacEwan holds the all-time record for continuous service here, as Senator Comeau's service as an MLA was interrupted for several years on two occasions;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate Paul MacEwan for his outstanding achievements in his political career thus far and wish him continued success in his efforts on behalf of the people he represents.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 172]

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. (Standing Ovation)

The honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party.

RESOLUTION NO. 66

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

Whereas the October 12th federal Speech from the Throne said, "we can ensure that Canada remains the best place in the world in which to live - the best place to raise children, to learn, to pursue opportunity to share in rich, diverse and safe communities"; and

Whereas that Speech from the Throne failed to mention the economic crisis in Cape Breton; and

Whereas a new study of industrial Cape Breton found that community stability and growth are missing, . . . the regional economy is marked by just the opposite: declining industries leading to job losses, high unemployment and net out-migration;

Therefore be it resolved this House urge the federal Liberals to include Cape Breton in their plans to ensure Canada has the best places to raise children, to learn, to pursue opportunity to share in rich, diverse and safe communities.

Mr. Speaker, I would seek 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 173]

The honourable Minister of Justice.

RESOLUTION NO. 67

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

Whereas the Health Services Foundation of the South Shore made a commitment to raise $280,000 toward the cost of acquiring a CAT Scan Machine for the South Shore Regional Hospital; and

Whereas the funds required were raised in record time based upon the outstanding commitment of the people of the South Shore to their health care; and

Whereas C. DeMone Monuments Limited's generous contribution in honour of their 35th Anniversary put the CAT Scan Fund over the top;

Therefore be it resolved that the House of Assembly congratulate the Health Services Foundation of the South Shore and the generous people of the South Shore for their commitment to public health and extend its thanks to the many generous donors who contributed to the CAT Scan Fund for the South Shore Regional Hospital.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton West.

RESOLUTION NO. 68

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

Whereas the Minister of Labour has recently taken a keen interest in recent Senate appointments; and

[Page 174]

Whereas the current Minister of Labour and former Buchanan/Cameron Minister is delaying the implementation of Occupational Health and Safety Regulations, putting in jeopardy the lives of Nova Scotia workers; and

Whereas both Cameron and Buchanan got their reward in Boston and in the Senate despite their disregard for occupational health and safety, a practice apparently continued by this government;

Therefore be it resolved that this House demand that the Occupational Health and Safety Regulations be implemented immediately without delay so as to avoid the kind of unnecessary tragedies common during the last Tory Administration.

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

MR. SPEAKER: I would like to take a look at that resolution, please.

The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

RESOLUTION NO. 69

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

Whereas Alzheimer's has a devastating effect on its sufferers and their families; and

Whereas the Alzheimer Society raises funds for research, advocacy and support of victims and families; for example, through office coffee parties and its annual fall luncheon being held today; and

Whereas on September 17th the joint Halifax-Halifax Fairview constituency office was once again the first in the country to hold its annual Alzheimer coffee party;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House commend the Alzheimer Society for its work and, where possible, hold coffee parties in their constituency offices sometime

in the coming year with proceeds going to the Alzheimer Society.

Mr. Speaker, I seek waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

[Page 175]

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

The motion is carried.

With regard to the resolution by the member for Cape Breton West, we will allow it to be voted upon as read.

Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. (Interruption)

Did you not ask? (Interruption) You didn't ask for it. (Interruption)

The honourable member for Cape Breton West.

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Obviously there is not going to be a consensus on getting waiver of notice so I will agree to just table the resolution.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Education.

RESOLUTION NO. 70

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

Whereas October marks the observance of the Eighth Annual Women's History Month in Canada; and

Whereas women have contributed much to the history of our country and province that has not been recorded in the history books; and

Whereas this year Women's History Month recognizes the contribution of Francophone women to Canada's history;

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize, salute and support the contributions of Canadian and Nova Scotian women to the economic and social well-being of Canada, and, in particular, the contributions in this province of les Acadiennes.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 176]

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton East.

RESOLUTION NO. 71

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

Whereas in the House yesterday, the Minister of Tourism, in response to a question intended for the Minister of Tourism, repeated word for word the answer suggested to him by the member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley; and

Whereas the member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley showed the great level of confidence he has in his government's young minister; and

Whereas the minister should be able to answer straightforward questions about his department on his own;

Therefore be it resolved that this House be informed by the Premier who exactly his Minister of Tourism really is.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice and passage without debate.

MR. SPEAKER: I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Human Resources.

RESOLUTION NO. 72

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

Whereas in January 1999, a group of civic-minded individuals in Blandford came together to form the Blandford Area Historical Society led by Chairman D'Arcy Enright, Vice-Chairman David Martin, Secretary Patricia O'Toole and Treasurer Plessa Condy; and

[Page 177]

Whereas the goals of the society are to preserve artifacts and memories of the founding families in the face of rapid change; and

Whereas an exhibit hosted by the society this summer attracted 375 visitors and resulted in 26 artifacts being contributed to the society's collection;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the members of the Blandford Area Historical Society for helping to preserve the history of their community and wish them good luck in their efforts to find a permanent home for the society.

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 say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Centre.

RESOLUTION NO. 73

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

Whereas on Tuesday, October 12th, ATV reporter, Marc Patrone and his family lost their home to a fire; and

Whereas Marc Patrone has become known to all members of this House as a fine legislative reporter; and

Whereas Marc Patrone and his family narrowly escaped the fire but lost all their belongings;

Therefore be it resolved that this House and its members extend to Marc and his family their heartfelt support at this difficult time.

I ask for waiver, Mr. Speaker.

[Page 178]

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Lunenburg West.

RESOLUTION NO. 74

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

Whereas 15 year old Matthew Corkum of Wileville, Lunenburg County, has won first place in the squash category at the Windsor Pumpkin Festival; and

Whereas Matthew's squash weighed in at an amazing 844 pounds, the third largest in the world grown this year; and

Whereas Matthew has been growing pumpkins and squash for more than 10 years, using last year's third place squash seeds for this year's first place win;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate Matthew Corkum of Wileville, Lunenburg County, for his outstanding achievement in winning first place in the squash category at the 1999 Windsor Pumpkin Festival.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Justice.

[Page 179]

RESOLUTION NO. 75

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

Whereas Jennifer Lohnes, a 16 year old Rose Bay, Lunenburg County, resident put her faith in action through mission work in Mineral Heights, Jamaica, this past summer; and

Whereas Jennifer worked alongside 27 other dedicated teens, who toiled in 100 degree Fahrenheit heat building an addition to a mission church and school as part of the Teen Missions International Program; and

Whereas her efforts and the efforts of the other workers assisted a community in Jamaica and have helped improve understanding between Jamaicans and Canadians;

Therefore be it resolved that the House of Assembly congratulate Jennifer Lohnes for her work in assisting the people of Jamaica.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage.

RESOLUTION NO. 76

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

Whereas the Halifax Regional Rehabilitation Centre has a long and proud history of serving the needs of Nova Scotians with disabilities; and

Whereas the rehabilitation centre is scheduled to close in 2001, placing residents in small options homes; and

[Page 180]

Whereas the death of Eddie Sheppard at a small options home and the recent incident of violence at the rehabilitation centre highlight the need to ensure staff and residents are protected at all times;

Therefore be it resolved that the Tory Government move to ensure proper regulations are in place for all small options homes before there are future injuries and deaths at these unregulated facilities.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Nova.

RESOLUTION NO. 77

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

Whereas the Rt. Rev. John Tataryn, formerly of West Street, Whitney Pier, and now of Etobicoke, Ontario, will be celebrating his 40th Anniversary of ordination to the priesthood of the Ukrainian Catholic Church on October 24, 1999; and

Whereas Father John Tataryn has given a lifetime of distinguished and dedicated service to the church, to the community and to the advancement of Ukrainian traditions and heritage both in Ontario and also in the Sydney area over many years; and

Whereas Father John and the Tataryn family have been extremely generous to the Ukrainian Parish in Whitney Pier, APOXI CBATOXO YXA, which means in English, the Ukrainian Catholic Parish of the Holy Spirit;

Therefore be it resolved that this House extend sincere congratulations and best wishes to Rt. Rev. John Tataryn on his anniversary and wishes to convey these to the 40th Anniversary celebrations to be held on October 24th.

Mr. Speaker, I would seek waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

[Page 181]

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Human Resources.

RESOLUTION NO. 78

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

Whereas in September 1949, Mr. James Rafuse of Marriotts Cove, Lunenburg County, began a trucking business; and

Whereas J.W. Rafuse Trucking is still in operation 50 years later, serving the people of Chester and area; and

Whereas Rafuse Trucking is an example of the many small businesses in rural Nova Scotia that pay taxes, create jobs and provide good service to their community;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate J.W. Rafuse Trucking for half a century of service to the people in the Chester area and wish him many more years of success.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect.

RESOLUTION NO. 79

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

Whereas Brookside resident and geographer Wayne Hamilton has been selected by the National Council for Geographic Education as a winner of a Distinguished Teaching Achievement Award for 1999; and

[Page 182]

Whereas Mr. Hamilton was one of 34 teachers and 9 university professors from Canada and the United States who received this award; and

Whereas Wayne Hamilton continues to assume leadership roles in the education field in this province;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate Wayne Hamilton on his accomplishments with best wishes for good luck in his future endeavours.

Mr. Speaker, I seek waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Labour.

RESOLUTION NO. 80

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

Whereas the first Windsor Pumpkin Regatta was held on Lake Pesaquid on Sunday; and

Whereas this novel competition attracted over 4,500 spectators to cheer on the five hearty contestants with New Ross resident Leo Swinimer being the eventual winner; and

[2:30 p.m.]

Whereas New York has held a similar race and it has been suggested that Windsor become the site of an international competition, adding another major tourism event for the Annapolis Valley;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House extend congratulations to Helen Romans and Judi Thompson and members of their committee and all the Hants West residents who worked hard to make this an outstanding community event.

[Page 183]

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 Health.

RESOLUTION NO. 81

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

Whereas Kerr Controls Limited of Truro, a family owned and operated business is celebrating its 50th Anniversary year; and

Whereas Kerr Controls is Atlantic Canada's leading distributor of heating, ventilation, air-conditioning and refrigeration equipment and supplies and has nine branches in the four provinces; and

Whereas Kerr Controls provides a full line of oil, wood and gas-fired boilers, furnaces and oil storage tanks that are sold across North America;

Therefore be it resolved that this House take this opportunity to congratulate Kerr founder and President David Kerr Wilson and his staff on such a tremendous accomplishment and extend best wishes for continued success in the future.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

[Page 184]

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Halifax Bedford Basin.

RESOLUTION NO. 82

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 the Metro Food Bank Society provides essential services to an estimated 15,000 people every month; and

Whereas donations to the Metro Food Bank are needed to offset an increasing demand and short supply of food; and

Whereas the Metro Food Bank Society recently raised $8,500 at the Nova Scotia International Air Show;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House applaud the efforts of the Metro Food Bank and extend our sincere thanks to the organizers of the Nova Scotia International Air Show for supporting this fund-raising opportunity.

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 Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury.

RESOLUTION NO. 83

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

Whereas a long awaited early childhood intervention program began this past August in Guysborough county; and

[Page 185]

Whereas the program is designed to identify and work with preschool-aged children with special needs ranging from children with Down's syndrome to children with speech problems and does not require a referral from a doctor to participate; and

Whereas this county-based program complements the services and care provided by other professionals working individually with children and reduces the demands of time and travel on both the children and parents;

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize the importance of this program and extend our support to Karen Roberts, local program coordinator; and all involved in providing these important services to Guysborough County.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Yarmouth.

RESOLUTION NO. 84

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

Whereas during the recent kick-off to Fire Prevention Week held at the Grand Parade in Halifax, nine year old Stephanie Doucette of Yarmouth was presented with the 1999 Fire Prevention Week Ambassador Award; and

Whereas this award recognizes an individual who has done something to save someone else's life; and

Whereas Stephanie received this honour for calmly and quickly alerting her sleeping family to an early morning fire in their home, ultimately saving their lives;

[Page 186]

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House recognize the quick thinking and heroic actions of Stephanie Doucette and further recognize the immeasurable value of fire prevention education.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Tourism on an introduction.

HON. RODNEY MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, through you to the members of the House, I would like to welcome the Grade 12 class from Plockton High School, all the way from Scotland. They spent the past week in Cape Breton, and they are moving on to Toronto. I would ask the members of the House to welcome them to Nova Scotia. (Applause)

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

RESOLUTION NO. 85

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

Whereas Ledwidge Lumber Company Limited of Enfield, in the beautiful Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley, recently held the official opening of their $2.5 million sawmill expansion that saw the honourable member for Cumberland North, who was acting in his capacity as the Minister of Natural Resources, cutting the ribbon to officially announce the expansion; and

Whereas Ledwidge Lumber is actively involved in silviculture treatments related to planting, commercial thinning, site preparation, stock acquisition, shelterwood and weeding; and

Whereas Ledwidge Lumber has been a long-time employer in this province, creating many employment opportunities and economic benefits through sustainable development;

[Page 187]

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize and commend Mr. Laurie Ledwidge and his family for continually showing their confidence in this province's economy and extend best wishes and congratulations to the Ledwidge family.

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 Colchester North.

RESOLUTION NO. 86

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

Whereas at the turn of the century the community of Londonderry, Colchester County, had a population of 5,000 residents; and

Whereas the Acadia Iron Mines provided employment opportunities for area residents with a boom occurring in the area between 1903 and 1908 resulting in Londonderry being the second largest centre in Colchester County, second only to Truro; and

Whereas author Trueman Matheson opened a museum in 1976 while also authoring a book entitled A History of Londonderry N.S.;

Therefore be it resolved that since Mr. Trueman Matheson did such exhaustive research in writing the history of Londonderry, Colchester County, members recognize the dedication put forth by Mr. Matheson in ensuring Londonderry its rightful place in history.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 188]

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Queens.

RESOLUTION NO. 87

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

Whereas 1999 is the International Year of the Older Person; and

Whereas to promote this important designation for 1999, an open house and information session for those 55 and older was recently held at the Liverpool Lions Club; and

Whereas this event was sponsored by the Region of Queens Municipality Recreation and Community Facilities Department;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House extend congratulations to the Region of Queens Municipality Recreation and Community Facilities Department for their contribution in honouring the important contributions made by older persons within our communities.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Pictou East.

[Page 189]

RESOLUTION NO. 88

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

Whereas white pine is an underutilized tree species in the Nova Scotia forest industry; and

Whereas extensive research is under way within the industry designed to better understand the merits of managing this valuable tree species; and

Whereas the research being done is in the development of techniques to ensure maximized value for underutilized tree species in Nova Scotia;

Therefore be it resolved that as members of this Legislature we recognize the research under way in this great province and do everything possible to promote the sustainability of our forest industry with both underutilized and fully utilized tree species.

Mr. Speaker, I seek waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Kings North.

RESOLUTION NO. 89

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

Whereas the Kentville Wildcats have been a source of pride within their community for over one-half century; and

[Page 190]

Whereas the Wildcats have demonstrated their foundation of talent, team spirit and championship play are still a force to be reckoned with and - as an aside - where the honourable member for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour admitted that the Wildcats were the better team; and

Whereas the Wildcats recently emerged victorious in this year's Nova Scotia Senior Baseball League Championships;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House join me in extending heartfelt congratulations to all members of the team, coaches, assistants, volunteers and fans.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Shelburne.

RESOLUTION NO. 90

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

Whereas the Crescent Beach Centre and the Ragged Islands Historical Society are presently organizing a 40th Anniversary memoriam in the year 2001 for the 17 Lockeport area fishermen who perished at sea in 1961 while fishing on the Emerald Banks, 120 miles southeast of Halifax; and

Whereas these fishermen were survived by 17 widows and 65 children who were left fatherless; and

Whereas the Crescent Beach Centre and the Ragged Islands Historical Society is working in conjunction with local artist, Laurie Swim, to create a large scale memorial quilt in memory of the 17 Lockeport area fishermen who lost their lives at sea on that fateful evening in March 1961;

[Page 191]

Therefore be it resolved that members of this Legislature commend Barbara Smith and her Lost at Sea Committee members and the artist, Laurie Swim, who are working on entrenching the memory of this fishing disaster in history while also creating a venue to educate people about the heritage, culture and livelihoods of fishing communities in Shelburne County.

Mr. Speaker, I seek 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 Sackville-Beaver Bank.

RESOLUTION NO. 91

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

Whereas the 19th Annual Terry Fox Run took on a special meaning for Rosie Steele of Sackville this year; and

Whereas Mrs. Steele, a long-time volunteer with the Terry Fox Run and a breast cancer survivor, participated in this year's event as an official member of Terry's Team, meeting the sole requirement of being cancer free for two years; and

Whereas some 1.2 million people worldwide participated in the Terry Fox Run raising in excess of $17.5 million for cancer research;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House recognize Rosie Steele as a testament to the progress that is being made in the area of cancer research and pledge our continued support to help eradicate this deadly disease.

Mr. Speaker, I seek waiver.

[Page 192]

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 Health.

RESOLUTION NO. 92

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

Whereas Dr. Allan Purdy, Head of Neurology at the Queen Elizabeth II Health Sciences Centre and a professor with the Faculty of Medicine Neurology Division at Dalhousie University, was awarded the prestigious Instructional Leadership Award by the Association of Atlantic Universities this summer; and

Whereas Dr. Purdy is the sole winner in the instructional leadership category this year and will receive his award at the annual Association of Atlantic Universities banquet in St. John's, Newfoundland, next week; and

Whereas making medical learning a multisensory experience and instilling confidence in students is the key to Dr. Purdy's innovative approach to teaching;

Therefore be it resolved that this House take this opportunity to congratulate Dr. Purdy for being awarded the Instructional Leadership Award this year and for his positive influence on the doctors of tomorrow.

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

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

[Page 193]

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Dartmouth South.

RESOLUTION NO. 93

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

Whereas Mosaic for Mental Health is a unique award winning art exhibit now on display in Dartmouth; and

Whereas this exhibit, sponsored by the Dartmouth branch of the Canadian Mental Health Association, is featured during Mental Health Awareness Week; and

Whereas proceeds from the exhibit will be used to support projects that are focused on assisting those affected with mental illness;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize the significance of Mental Health Awareness Week and applaud the work of organizations such as the Dartmouth branch of the Canadian Mental Health Association for their efforts in assisting those suffering from mental illness.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Pictou West.

RESOLUTION NO. 94

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

[Page 194]

[2:45 p.m.]

Whereas the 1999 Pictou-North Colchester Exhibition held from September 8th to September 11th was by all accounts a resounding success; and

Whereas in the absence of a carnival midway, the exhibition went back to its roots as a social gathering and a showplace for agricultural industries, craft displays, vegetables and flower competition and livestock evaluation; and

Whereas a big part of the exhibition's success was due to increased community involvement, including the support of local businesses;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House thank and congratulate the organizers, volunteers, contributors and participants of the 1999 Pictou-North Colchester Exhibition who collectively helped to make this event a true celebration of the region's proud agricultural tradition.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Pictou West.

RESOLUTION NO. 95

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

Whereas the Ship Hector tartan, designed by Janice Gammon of Lyons Brook, was registered on June 15, 1999 with the Scottish Tartan Society; and

Whereas this tartan commemorates the arrival of the first Scottish settlers in Nova Scotia aboard the Ship Hector in 1773; and

[Page 195]

Whereas each of the tartan's colours has a particular significance - white for the whitecaps and rolling seas the Ship Hector endured, royal blue for the settlers' loyalty to their Scottish homeland, green for the tree-lined Pictou harbour, black for the lives lost during the voyage, and gold for the golden sun of a new day in a new land;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House extend their appreciation to Janice Gammon for creating the Ship Hector tartan, a unique and lasting reminder of Nova Scotia's Scottish heritage.

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 Kings South.

RESOLUTION NO. 96

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

Whereas a Nova Scotia team has become the first in the world to attach a satellite tag to an endangered leatherback turtle in the ocean; and

Whereas Acadia University biologist Mike James along with fishermen, Bert and Blair Fricker, accomplished this feat off Neils Harbour on September 3, 1999; and

Whereas these three individuals are all members of Nova Scotia's Leatherback Turtle Working Group which is working to conserve this endangered animal;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House recognize the recent accomplishments of Mike James and Bert and Blair Fricker, as well as the continued efforts of the Nova Scotia Leatherback Turtle Working Group to protect this animal from extinction.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 196]

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Kings North.

RESOLUTION NO. 97

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

Whereas the Town of Kentville has worked hard to promote its unique characteristics and its people; and

Whereas the community's successful baseball history and the teams that have contributed to that success are a hallmark of the town's sense of pride; and

Whereas in a demonstration of its commitment to the community and its recreational events, the town has provided a first-class ball field which will be used in the Senior Men's Baseball League Championships in 2001;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House join me in applauding the efforts of the Town of Kentville for building on the community's sense of pride and serving to promote teams such as the Kentville Wildcats as they participate in championship play.

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 197]

The honourable member for Dartmouth South.

RESOLUTION NO. 98

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

Whereas one of Nova Scotia's longest surviving Black organizations, the Black Educators Association, recently marked a milestone; and

Whereas the Black Educators Association celebrated its 30th Anniversary with a recognition dinner and dance to honour retirees; and

Whereas among the retirees is Dartmouth South resident Earle Clyke;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House join me in extending heartfelt congratulations to the Black Educators Association, its retirees and most especially to Earle Clyke for his valuable contribution to the field of education and for his support of the Black Educators Association.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Sackville-Beaver Bank.

RESOLUTION NO. 99

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

Whereas on October 11, 1999, the Sackville Sports Stadium completed its 10th year of successful operation; and

Whereas the board of directors has begun a major expansion project at that facility; and

[Page 198]

Whereas the operations of this facility touch nearly each and every person in the riding of Sackville-Beaver Bank;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the board of directors on their successful 10 years and their future expansion plans.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Pictou East.

RESOLUTION NO. 100

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

Whereas Westville Councillor Charlie Sutherland was recently on record saying that we need increased economic development for the town; and

Whereas I am confident that by working with this government, opportunities will be found for the town's 700 acres of unused private property in the downtown area; and

Whereas despite the intense competition faced by the Town of Westville in securing new development opportunities for the town, Westville has the ability and the will to make their presence known;

Therefore be it resolved that by working cooperatively with the Department of Economic Development and local authorities, members of this House of Assembly wish Councillor Sutherland and the residents of Westville the very best as they strive to enhance economic opportunities for their town.

Mr. Speaker, I seek waiver of notice.

[Page 199]

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.

ORDERS OF THE DAY

ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS

MR. SPEAKER: The time is now 2:52 p.m. We will finish at 4:22 p.m.

The honourable Leader of the Liberal Party.

TRANSPORT. & PUB. WKS. - ANTIGONISH:

BYPASS ROUTE - COSTS

MR. RUSSELL MACLELLAN: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Transportation and Public Works. Yesterday, when talking about the proposed bypass of Antigonish, the blue route which is the favourite of his own department compared to the red route which is the favourite of the member for Antigonish and some high-profile Tories, the minister said that the cost difference between one and the other was fairly comparable. Well, we heard last night in the media that it is a $4 million difference. In the document he gave today, it is between a $4 million and $7 million difference. I want to ask the minister, does he think a difference of between $4 million and $11 million is fairly comparable?

HON. GORDON BALSER: Mr. Speaker, through you to the honourable member, certainly $4 million, $5 million, $6 million is a significant amount of money but when the choice is made, you have to carefully weigh the cost, both upfront and long term. That is why we need to analyse the economic impact, the safety factors, as well as the other consideration before a final decision is made. Obviously cost is a factor but so are many other issues such as safety.

MR. MACLELLAN: Mr. Speaker, that is not what he said yesterday. Today he gives us one sheet of paper with the difference in proposed costs which was on the media last evening. We wouldn't have gotten it if it hadn't been on television. What about the other information, about the difference in the two, his department's recommendation, the question of safety? When are we going to get that information, or do we have to wait until it is in the media before we get it, or doesn't he think safety is important?

[Page 200]

MR. BALSER: Mr. Speaker, again to the honourable member, certainly safety is paramount in any decision that would be made. As I indicated yesterday, I would table the information and I did that today.

MR. MACLELLAN: Mr. Speaker, it is obvious that someone has been talking to the minister. My question is to the Premier. Has the Premier asked the Minister of Transportation and Public Works to reconsider the recommendation of his department with respect to the bypass in Antigonish?

HON. JOHN HAMM (The Premier): Mr. Speaker, I can assure the member opposite that a decision has not yet been made. The people of Antigonish County are very anxious to have that decision and we are determined that the right decision will be made in terms of highway safety, because every road that this government will build will meet national highway safety standards.

The other issue is the long-term effects on the economic viability on the Town of Antigonish. These are issues that are being debated in the Town of Antigonish and this government will listen to that debate.

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

FIN. - HST: FAIRNESS - COMM. (ALL-PARTY)

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I want to refer my question through you to the Premier. I noted with interest yesterday, in a response to a question from my colleague, the member for Sackville-Cobequid, the Premier said that the Conservative position on the BST had not changed but he really wasn't clear on whether or not he had made a commitment to an all-Party committee on taxation to look at replacements on the BST. I am sure his staff have helped him to refresh his memory, but I would refer him to Page 24 of the '99 Conservative plan, which repeats the platform to an all-Party committee on taxation that was first made on Page 10 of the Tory platform.

I ask the Premier, Mr. Speaker, if the Conservative position has not changed, when will the government strike an all-Party committee on taxation to determine how to replace the BST deal and achieve fair taxes?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the Leader of the New Democratic Party is talking about two issues. Number one is our dissatisfaction with the current arrangement with the Blended Sales Tax and we are not in a position, until that arrangement is altered, to do anything to make taxation fair in this province, so what we have clearly said on each and every occasion is we will be entertaining and participating in the review that the agreement calls for. When changes in taxation comes it will be the result of widespread consultation by

[Page 201]

this government and all of those involved in taxation in this province, most particularly the people of the province.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I will pass this across to the Premier to refresh his memory. It was in an article entitled "Make the Rich Pay", that was in The Chronicle-Herald on March 12th, where he referred to an all-Party committee to hold hearings and decide what tax measures would replace the BST. Yesterday the New Brunswick Minister of Finance said that the issue of the BST was not raised at the recent meeting of the regional Finance Ministers or in any conversation between the Premiers of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. I ask the Premier, why is he putting the BST and the issue of fair taxes on the back burner?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, in reply to the question, the member opposite is quite right, it has not been a topic of conversation as I have said previously, publicly, between myself and the other Premiers. On the other hand, I will be bringing the issue up when we meet later this month here in Halifax. The whole issue of what we are talking about is changes in taxation. At this particular time, this government isn't entertaining definite changes in taxation. When the time comes, there will be ample opportunity for everybody to have their say on the issue.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, the Premier while in Opposition made a commitment to Nova Scotians on a number of occasions, to set up an all-Party committee to review the BST and to provide fairer taxes for the people of Nova Scotia. I ask the Premier to explain to Nova Scotians now why, while he is sitting in the seat to actually make that decision, is he backing off on the commitment to review the issue of fairer taxes for the people of Nova Scotia?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, in reply to the question from the Leader of the New Democratic Party, there are two issues here. Number one is an agreement that does not allow us to change taxes. An agreement that absolutely gives control to other provinces over our taxation system. The number one issue is to get an arrangement that allows us the flexibility to move on to issue two, which is really what the Leader of the New Democratic Party is asking about.

[3:00 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Lunenburg West.

FIN. - PROG. REVIEW: CUTBACKS - TIMETABLE

MR. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Finance. During the Throne Speech it was strongly hinted that the Nova Scotia Government will be drastically downsized. I believe the term that was used in the speech itself was "the

[Page 202]

government that remains". Clearly this sends an alarming signal to all government employees. The government is now undergoing a comprehensive program review. I would like to ask the minister if he could indicate to the House what kind of timetable we are looking at for the implementation of the cutbacks that will result from the program review?

HON. NEIL LEBLANC: We have clearly said from the day that we took office that we had financial problems in this province. We said that before we went into an election and as was discovered by myself, especially in bringing about the consolidated financial statements, we have severe problems in the $384 million debt from the previous year. We will be bringing forward a budget tomorrow which will answer some of the questions that the honourable member has but if he is prepared to ask them in specifics as things I could address here today, I would be more than willing to try to help him.

MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, I asked him a question but I never got the answer. I guess the cutbacks to government employees will be announced tomorrow in the budget is what he is saying.

Mr. Speaker, we know that 87 per cent of the budget after debt servicing goes to Health, Education and Community Services. If the government does nothing to curb the health expenditures that are currently going on, health will shortly eat up all the remaining budgets that are left in other departments and clearly you are going to be forced to make some cuts, not only to the Department of Health but to all three departments. My question to the minister, is the minister planning any wage roll-backs, layoffs, forced holidays, hospital closures or delays in badly needed school construction?

MR. LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, I know the honourable member is asking questions that he feels are appropriate. However, the honourable member knows that tomorrow I am tabling a budget in this House that will address some of the concerns that he has in there. As a former Minister of Finance, I am sure that he appreciates that it would be inappropriate for me to comment on that before I table the budget tomorrow. We are talking 24 hours. I think that is more than reasonable and I would be more prepared to try to answer any questions he has subsequent to tabling that document.

MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, the government is promising significant tax cuts in four years. If he is going to do that, he is going to have to impose massive cuts and massive changes as to the above mentioned areas, Health, Education and Community Services. If the shortfalls cannot be met by expenditure reductions then the more likely area is revenue increases. I would ask the minister what kind of revenue generators is the minister looking at for the upcoming number of years to meet the commitments that the Conservatives made in regard to reducing taxation?

[Page 203]

MR. LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, I find it amazing, and when I say that I am being sincere, the minister is a former Minister of Finance and he asking me to comment on what I am going to be tabling tomorrow. Now, I am not trying to be difficult and if the honourable member can wait 24 hours then I would be more in a position to talk about what is going to come down. I think I am being more than reasonable.

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

FIN. - HST: CHANGES - RATIONALE

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I want to refer my question through you to the Premier. The Premier earlier today is quoted as saying that he is thinking about breaking away from the federal income tax system, breaking away the provincial income tax system from the federal income tax system because he is concerned that the federal government is about to reduce taxes. I want to ask the Premier if he would explain why he wants to keep taxes in Nova Scotia high?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I welcome the question because it gives me an opportunity to publicly clarify what is meant by uncoupling taxes. Simply what we are saying is that by having our provincial tax on the federal income tax form tied in with the federal tax then we are tied into any tax changes that the federal government is going to bring forward. Nine out of 10 Canadian provinces are caught in the same box, only the Province of Quebec is in a different situation. Nine out of 10 provinces will be doing exactly the same thing, divorcing the calculation of the provincial tax from the federal. But in no way does that mean not having the federal government collect the tax, it simply means calculating the tax independently of the federal tax.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I think what it also means is that when the federal government announces a reduction in the income tax, it means that Nova Scotians, because they will not be connected, will not enjoy a further reduction in their income taxes. I want to ask the Premier, why would he stand here today and suggest that Nova Scotians do not deserve that accompanying decrease in income taxes?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I thank the Leader of the New Democratic Party for the question because it gives me an opportunity to say that Nova Scotians do deserve a tax break. The only way they are going to get a tax break, is if, in fact, we can balance revenues and expenditures first. That is what this government is talking about. After we do that - because that must come first - then the tax cuts will come. We must follow our own agenda and we cannot allow ourselves, as a province, to be driven by an agenda other than our own. That, unfortunately, is the situation that will occur if Ottawa goes ahead with tax cuts before we have a balanced budget.

[Page 204]

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, what the Premier is saying to Nova Scotians is that he is going to keep pounding to them over the next few years, to try to make good his commitment that he made in this election campaign for a 10 per cent tax; in other words, while other provinces are going to be enjoying a reduction in income tax, Nova Scotians will not be.

He also suggested today in his musings about the income tax system that this change will not increase the bureaucracy much. I want to ask the Premier, would he explain what he means by not increasing the bureaucracy much?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the Leader of the New Democratic Party, on his last question, seemed to be admonishing the government for not reducing taxes and now in his final supplementary, seems to be admonishing the government because they are going to reduce taxes. In answer to the question, the Leader of the New Democratic Party brings up an interesting issue. Changing the way we calculate the provincial tax on the federal income tax form will do nothing to increase the bureaucracy here in Nova Scotia.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings North wishes to make an introduction. (Interruptions) If the House agrees, I will add a couple minutes to Question Period.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

The honourable member for Kings North.

MR. MARK PARENT: Mr. Speaker, there are two distinguished visitors here I would like to welcome, good friends of this House: Mr. George Archibald and Mr. George Moody. I would ask them to stand and I would like the House to welcome them back; we are delighted to see them. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

HEALTH - HOSPITALS: COMMUNITY - FUTURE

DR. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, to the Minister of Health, last week in a mad scramble to honour one of the 243 promises committed by his government, the Minister of Health made great fanfare in announcing that all health facilities will be assessing their patients to determine whether they are receiving the most appropriate type of care.

[Page 205]

My question, Mr. Speaker, to the minister is, was this fanfare a warning that the Province of Nova Scotia may soon be experiencing community hospital closures and hospital staff lay-offs?

HON. JAMES MUIR: Thank you for that question. Mr. Speaker, we have indeed, as per one of our campaign promises, initiated a comprehensive review of health care delivery in the province. What we wish is to have the appropriate care given by the appropriate people in the appropriate place. Once we have that information - we will actually be getting a report on that in November - things will become clearer in terms of our commitment to provide a quality health care system that Nova Scotians can afford.

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, so he is saying there may or may not be staff layoffs and community hospitals downsizing. Your government, Mr. Minister, indicated during the campaign you did not need a major infusion of dollars to provide quality health care to Nova Scotians. You also indicated in your 243 promises that you would create long-term care beds by reallocating existing monies within the budget, long-term care beds allocated within the budget, additional. I ask again to the minister, Mr. Speaker, does he plan to obtain the funding for the long-term care beds by closing community hospitals and laying off staff within hospitals?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I thank the honourable member for that question. Again, our plans for financing the additional long-term care beds, which we have promised will be announced in due course. As he knows, this is a budget question, I cannot comment on it now.

DR. SMITH: To the minister, Mr. Speaker, what community hospitals will be closing in order to pay for your misguided, and I would say ill-advised, election promises, that there is no way that you could downgrade administration . . .

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

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, could I have that question repeated, please, I missed it.

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I am asking the minister what hospitals will he be closing in order to pay for the misguided and ill-advised advice that he is receiving that he can add long-term care beds to the system for the allocation of funds?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member knows that we have said absolutely nothing about closing hospitals, hospital beds or community health centres.

[Page 206]

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

HEALTH - CARE: FUNDING - REDUCTION

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Premier. During this summer's election campaign the Premier claimed that he could run the health care system on $1.5 billion. This would be at least $168 million less than the existing budget. Does the Premier still think the health care system can function well with $168 million less in operating funds?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, clearly I have articulated on a number of occasions that one of our priorities was, in addition to looking at increased health care spending, to determine that the money that we are spending for health care at this time, the $1.5 billion, was being spent appropriately. That is what we were talking about and that is the course that we are going to follow. The largest single expenditure of this government and other governments has been health care and we have to determine that each and every dollar is being spent wisely. That is the commitment we were making at the time.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, I thank the Premier for that explanation. This month the Minister of Health announced that the government is conducting a province-wide review of all health care facilities and programs to ensure that service is delivered in the most cost-effective way. My question to the Premier is, is the goal of this facilities review to identify where the government can cut $168 million from the health care budget?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, it is the intention of this government to provide the kind of health care in which Nova Scotians have confidence at a price that we can afford.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, perhaps I will put it in terms that the Premier is not able to dance around. The government's election platform promised that a Progressive Conservative Government would make the health care needs of Nova Scotia first in all decisions. Will the Premier rule out privatizing health care services as a way of cutting provincial spending and making Nova Scotians pay more for health care services?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, in reply to the question, this government has made a commitment that each and every government service will be reviewed, with the ambition of creating a system of health care delivery and a system of government that this province can afford.

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

LBR. - FIRE MARSHAL: FIRE PREVENTION - PREPAREDNESS

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Labour. Quite simply, would the Minister of Labour please advise the House as to the preparedness of the fire marshal's office on the issue of fire prevention?

[3:15 p.m.]

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, that is a pretty general question, but I can advise the member for Cape Breton West, about the end of last week I received a report from the fire marshal on his office. I haven't got it with me at the moment.

MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, I have, I would presume, perhaps the same report which states quite candidly that the deputy fire marshal's reports are decreasing in quality, and further the fire marshal goes on to state that the workload of his office is compounded by the total lack of training and planning in the fire marshal's office. I would also suggest that this is contrary to any briefing that I received when I was minister.

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, my question to the Minister of Labour (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. MACKINNON: . . . is what action is he prepared to take to restore the confidence in the fire marshal's office particularly with regard to deputy fire marshals who are out on the front line doing work?

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I intend to take actions to rectify the situation left by the previous minister.

MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, I would certainly offer to the Minister of Labour that there is sufficient evidence on file to denote that during all the briefings I was supplied by the fire marshal's office, at no point in time were any of these issues ever raised. My question to the Minister of Labour is, given the fact as well in this report that the fire marshal has confirmed his office intends to have volunteer firefighters take over the responsibility of fire investigations in the province . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Could I have the question, please.

[Page 208]

MR. MACKINNON: . . . a role which they are against, I would ask that the Minister of Labour confirm as to whether this is the intent of the Department of Labour, to download on volunteer firefighters in the province and put them in a legal jeopardy position?

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I have every faith in the Fire Marshal, Robert Cormier, and I can assure you that whatever that fire marshal brings to my attention will be looked after immediately or as soon as possible, and that furthermore, I will not ignore the fire services as has been done in the past.

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

HEALTH - CARE: REGIONALIZED - TASK FORCE

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, the recent report of the Minister's Task Force on Regionalized Health Care in Nova Scotia states emphatically that regionalization must be strengthened and completed, not dismantled, but the Premier says he will go ahead and dismantle the regional health boards regardless of the task force finding. Spending money on task forces only to ignore them is the same kind of ill-informed process that Nova Scotians saw during the Buchanan and Cameron Governments. Will the Premier explain to the House why he encouraged the province to spend tax dollars on a task force he never intended to listen to?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, to the member opposite who has obviously concentrated on the middle and the end of the report and forgot to read the front of the report which says very clearly that the task force was not set up to look at any alternatives to regionalization of health care delivery but was merely set up to try to strengthen what is openly acknowledged to be a weak system of delivering health care, the current regionalization of health care delivery in this province.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, with respect, the task force found that to dismantle the regional health boards and further subdivide the province into hospital boards will create more confusion, fragment health care and will ultimately increase costs. My question to the Premier is what proof has he gathered that shows that money can be saved by dismantling the regional health boards, and how much are those savings?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite was severe in his criticism of the efforts of the previous government to deliver affordable health care, as we were in Opposition. To go down the same road will yield the same results. We have to deliver health care differently, we have to deliver it more efficiently, we have to have communities making health care decisions. That can only occur if, in fact, we abandon the current state and delivery that we have through regionalization.

[Page 209]

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, the task force warned that the government should make every effort to improve regional and community health boards before taking any steps to change boundaries. Why isn't the Premier taking steps to improve the existing structure rather than throwing health care into further chaos by dismantling the entire system?

THE PREMIER: I would like to read, if I may, Mr. Speaker, one line from the document which the member opposite is taking his questions from. (Interruption) It is the task force, you have it. It says, "From its investigation, the Task Force has concluded that a substantial majority of the groups and individuals consulted approve of a decentralized health care system.".

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

COMMUN. SERV. - SENIORS: PTY. TAX REBATE - COST

DR. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Community Services. Last week in this government's Speech from the Throne, a commitment was made to immediately extend the property tax rebate to more seniors next year. Given that the government has costed the promise to be in the range of $650,000, my question to the Minister of Community Services is, what program does he plan to cut in order to pay for this commitment?

HON. PETER CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, to the honourable member, I will indicate that this government is committed to extending the property tax rebate, as we indicated. I make no commitment or no comment on other things that would be cut. That is part of the budget process for tomorrow.

DR. SMITH: So one would have to worry about the programs for children and all and single women and all the other programs. Mr. Speaker, I found it intriguing yesterday that the Premier apparently stated to the media, I believe he is on record as stating, that rebates are cumbersome. Given that comment, my question today would be, and still stands even in light of the assurances of the honourable minister, does he mean that the government is reconsidering, perhaps, some changes in the property tax rebate for seniors other than extension?

MR. CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, as I indicated to the member just in the last question, our initiative, as we indicated in our platform this summer, is to go forward with that seniors' rebate program expansion and we will continue and we are progressing in that direction.

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, he is progressing in that direction. My final question to the minister is, are you planning to honour this commitment and what are your plans? Do you plan to cut a children's program to pay for this or will you be reducing the rebate amount for all seniors in order to honour your promise?

[Page 210]

MR. CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, as I indicated, we are progressing with that program. That program, when the details are finalized and we are ready, will be announced and the member will have the benefit of what that program will be.

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

HEALTH - HEPATITIS C: COMPENSATION PKG. - PROGRESS

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, yesterday I tabled a letter from this Premier dated March 6, 1998 to Mr. DeVenne, a hepatitis C victim. The last three lines of that letter read, "The Progressive Conservative Party remains committed to finding a fair, just and speedy settlement to this long-standing issue.". However, we understand that since the Conservatives have come to power, Mr. DeVenne has requested and been denied a meeting with the Premier or the Minister of Health to discuss these issues. My question for the Premier is, will you set the record straight, get on with leadership you promised and meet with Mr. DeVenne to brief him on your government's progress on the issue of compensation?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, on a number of occasions I have met with Mr. DeVenne. I am very aware of his particular circumstances and I must say the unfortunate circumstances of so many Nova Scotians who have contracted hepatitis C through use of the blood system. We are continuing our efforts to have a shared program with the federal government and we will not be taking a position certainly at this time that would allow the federal government off the hook in taking a broader look at who they should compensate on the issue of hepatitis C.

On the other hand, a previous government took a leadership role in providing a compensation package to those who contracted the HIV virus through the blood system. Wouldn't it be a shame if we have to take a leadership role the second time because the federal government and other provinces didn't follow the lead that a previous government showed the first time.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, I notice the Premier didn't say he would meet with Mr. DeVenne. I would like to table these transcripts from Hansard dated June 29, 1998 in which the present Premier urged the provincial government to, ". . . immediately do what is right, fair and just and open the compensation package to Nova Scotians outside the 1986 to 1990 time-frame.". Will the Premier explain why, when he was in Opposition, he felt the government was morally obligated to compensate hepatitis C victims, but now that he is Premier, his ideas of moral obligation to those in need have changed?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite is aware that a fair compensation package involving both levels of government would best address the specific needs of those Nova Scotians who have contracted hepatitis C through the blood system. We are pursuing that as a joint responsibility, a responsibility that has yet to be accepted by the federal

[Page 211]

government. We will continue those efforts. Regarding the whole issue, I believe the member opposite knows that it should be a shared responsibility and could be best conducted through a shared responsibility.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, I must say I am genuinely saddened by that response. I would also like to table a resolution introduced by this Premier last November 26th. In it, he encouraged the Nova Scotia Government to, ". . . follow in the footsteps of the Harris Government and be the next province to undertake a commitment to do the right thing by way of settlement for its residents whose lives have been irrevocably changed by the mismanagement of the blood system.".

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

MR. DEXTER: Since the government's Throne Speech seems to have been a homage to Mike Harris' style of government, when can we expect the Premier to follow the Harris Government and to compensate the hepatitis C victims?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I can assure the member opposite that this government takes every commitment that it has made to the people of Nova Scotia very seriously and we will be delivering on all our commitments.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Richmond.

JUSTICE - JAIL (BEDFORD/BURNSIDE): SITE CHANGE - COST

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Justice. Yesterday it was made clear that Nova Scotia taxpayers are paying in the thousands of dollars per day to send psychiatric patients out-of-province due to the lack of a proper correctional facility in the metro Halifax area. Yet the minister contends that the political decision by his Party to move the site from Bedford, causing a further two year delay, will not cost taxpayers of Nova Scotia, or as he stated yesterday, he hopes will be cost-neutral. How can the Minister of Justice tell Nova Scotians that they are not paying for this political decision which helped elect the Minister of Community Services?

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: A very short answer to the member's question. I never indicated yesterday that the delay - as a result of the decision to re-look at a site - had extended the time by two years. In point of fact, it has only been a matter of a few months because the previous government had a plan to build this facility which would have taken two years. The member simply doesn't know what he is talking about.

[Page 212]

MR. SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, I would like to inform the Minister of Justice that a day costing taxpayers of Nova Scotia thousands of dollars or months costing taxpayers of Nova Scotia for a political decision by this government is completely unacceptable to Nova Scotians.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear! Hear!

MR. SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, everyone in this province agrees that a new facility is required and no one has doubted that. We are looking at a two year delay.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Could we have your question.

MR. SAMSON: I would like the Minister of Justice to tell Nova Scotians, since he has taken up his post, what briefings has he received from his department as to the negative impacts on our correction system as a result of this delay?

[3:30 p.m.]

MR. BAKER: Well, I can indicate to the honourable member that I agree with him with respect to the importance of building a new correctional facility and a new forensics hospital in this province, I share his concern in that regard. I wonder what his government was doing for the four previous years before they made this decision. In any event, I share with him a concern for this, but I want to indicate one thing clearly. The people of Nova Scotia on election day voted for a government that made it very clear that their commitment was not to construct this facility in a residential area. The people of Nova Scotia voted for that and he should respect the decision of the people of Nova Scotia.

MR. SAMSON: In a few short years, Mr. Speaker, the people of Nova Scotia will speak again and they will say what they think of this government.

Mr. Speaker, my final supplementary is to the Minister of Health. Mr. Minister, as you know, psychiatric patients are being sent out of this province due to the lack of a proper facility in this province. Will the Minister of Health indicate to us today what negative impact is this having on mental health patients who are incurring trouble with the law - this added two year delay of a proper facility in this province?

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Justice has just told the honourable member that there is not a two year delay, and that is the fact.

[Page 213]

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

TRANSPORT. & PUB. WKS.:

PURCHASE APPROVALS - METHODOLOGY

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I want to direct my question, through you, to the Minister of Economic Development, the Minister of Transportation and Public Works, the Minister responsible for Sysco, and the Minister responsible for the Petroleum Directorate and the Business Development Corporation. This multifaceted minister will know that he received a directive on September 20th, instructing him to review and approve all purchases of goods and services in excess of $1,000. His department would be spending, of course, many hundreds of thousands of dollars on a weekly, if not daily, basis.

My question to the minister is quite simply this, does the multifaceted minister do his approvals daily or weekly, and approximately how many would he be required to approve, on average, daily?

HON. GORDON BALSER: Mr. Speaker, indeed there are a great many approvals that are required, and the reality is that because of the nature of many of them, they are expenditures that are required simply to keep the various departments functioning. In terms of the actual numbers, I would have to do a statistical analysis. There are a good many, and rest assured that I am keeping abreast of the expenditures that are undertaken by the departments.

MR. HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I am sure the minister is taking the directive that was given to him very seriously and that he is not simply acting as a rubber stamp. The minister said that many of these purchases are absolutely essential, but the directive said to approve each and every one of them. I am wondering if the minister could advise us, what process does he follow, what kinds of reports does he require on each purchase order and how much does it cost in terms of staff time to prepare all of the reports necessary for the minister to carry out his responsibility of determining which ones are essential and which ones are not?

MR. BALSER: Mr. Speaker, the process followed in the various departments would be that senior administration bring forward those extraordinary items that need careful review and consideration. I can think of a couple in which the requests were denied simply because they were seen, by myself, to be unnecessary expenditures involving a purchase of computers. So obviously there are times when you trust the judgement of the people you have in place to advise you and there are times when you review their decisions based on what you consider to be exceptionalities.

[Page 214]

MR. HOLM: Mr. Speaker, the tendering rules are staying in place, according to the directive, but the directive quite clearly said that every purchase of goods and services over $1,000 had to receive the approval of the minister to show that they were absolutely necessary.

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

MR. HOLM: My question to the minister is quite simply this, what is he doing that is any different from what was done before, and that is taking the advice of staff, other than the fact it was a political statement put out by the government trying to pretend they had taken some type of control, the minister's own admission is that they are doing things exactly the same as they always have?

MR. BALSER: Mr. Speaker, again I would like to thank the honourable member for the question. He should rest assured that the expenditures in the departments that I oversee are very carefully scrutinized to see whether or not they are necessary and needed.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

HEALTH - THRONE SPEECH: REG. BDS. - ABOLITION CLARIFY

DR. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Health. In last Friday's Truro Daily News, the Minister of Health indicated that regional health boards would be restructured to allow more public input into what services would be provided and where, yet in the Government's Throne Speech a commitment was made to abolish regional health boards. Given that it is impossible to restructure something that has been abolished, could the minister please clarify, for all members of the House and, more importantly perhaps, to the staff of all the regional health boards that are concerned, his government's intention with respect to the regional health boards?

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I would like the honourable member to table that so that I could actually take a look at it. In response to this question, the Throne Speech and our election documents are abundantly clear that the regional health boards in their present form will no longer exist at some point in the future.

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, myself and others in the House are not the only ones concerned. The morale in the staff of the regional health boards is threatened, and the CEO of the Northern Regional Health Board, Dr. Rippey, has come out publicly and stated that this government's position is affecting staff morale in a negative way. My question to the minister is, given that the government is prepared to ignore the advice that they have received from the Goldbloom report on regionalization . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

[Page 215]

DR. SMITH: This is the question. Given that the government is prepared to ignore the advice that they received from the Goldbloom report on regionalization and adopt a system which would increase costs, what part of the health care system is planning to pay for the government's election promises?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, our commitment has to bring a responsive health care system to Nova Scotia.The member assumes that the new structure is going to cost more, and I don't know on what basis he would make such an assumption.

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I think the experience of any transition period is certainly one of increased costs. If governments at all levels haven't learned that, then this government will learn it in time at the expense of Nova Scotians. On my supplement I would like to go to the Premier, and I ask the Premier, why is the government prepared and pleased to accept and implement the recommendations of the Ghiz and the Kaufman reports on the one hand and then on the other, willing to completely ignore and not take the recommendations of a very distinguished panel under the Richard Goldbloom task force on regionalization? That Party helped appoint some of those people to that task force.

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, if any member of this House should know the terms of reference of the task force that was designed as a result of the resolution that I, myself, tabled in this House, it should be the member who has just asked that question. The member knows clearly that we were looking for alternatives to the regional health board. Despite that, the task force went ahead, not mandated to look at alternatives, but mandated to try and shore up a system that isn't working.

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

ECON. DEV. - C.B.: PLANS - OUTLINE

MR. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Premier. Yesterday, the federal Throne Speech conspicuously left out any measure to deal with the ailing economy of Cape Breton and, indeed, Devco; the province's Throne Speech was similarly mute. Will the Premier please indicate, now that his federal counterparts have washed their hands of the matter, has he any economic plan for Cape Breton Island other than selling Sydney Steel at the end of this year?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for his question because I know that as a representative of the people of industrial Cape Breton this is a very important question in his area and it is a question that I take very seriously. We, as a government, are addressing the economy of Nova Scotia, all parts of Nova Scotia, from Glace Bay to Yarmouth. No resident of Cape Breton should feel that this government will ignore the economic plight that that part of this province finds itself in. We have made commitments specifically to the people of Cape Breton through our platform and we have indicated that we will work with the

[Page 216]

people of Cape Breton and the federal government to find a solution to the economic woes of Cape Breton that have been present for decades.

MR. CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, again to the Premier, in the Premier's own Speech from the Throne he has indicated that Nova Scotians are in for a sea change and I agree because the Cape Breton economy is at the bottom of the sea with the Titanic if you do not stop it. Will the Premier please indicate how self-reliance and personal responsibility referred to in the Speech from the Throne as the keys to a better Nova Scotia will steer Cape Breton to a stronger economy?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I would hope that by way of the question the member, who is a good representative of his people in Cape Breton, is not inferring that the same strengths that all Nova Scotians will rely on to build a stronger economy are not present in the people that he represents in Cape Breton because I know they are.

MR. CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, again to the Premier, a recent study by the Gardner Pinfold group, which I have here and I will now table, foresees catastrophic consequences in industrial Cape Breton upon which the closure of Devco, revenues will drop by $30 million annually, household incomes by $100 million.

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

MR. CORBETT: My question to the Premier is, Cape Bretoners are a resilient bunch, but will the government please explain to them how self-reliance and personal responsibilities will supplant the huge sums of money to be removed from the economy?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I am aware and have read the report to which the honourable member opposite refers. It is, for lack of perhaps a better term, a very sobering document in that it quantifies the great problems that the Cape Breton economy faces, but this government is determined that it will do effective things to rebuild the Nova Scotia economy and, in particular, as the member opposite is particularly interested in the Cape Breton economy, the Cape Breton economy as well.

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

DEVCO - COAL LEASES:

POLICIES (GOV'T. [N.S. - 1998-99]) - UPHOLD

MR. DAVID WILSON: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Natural Resources. Mr. Minister, the previous Liberal Government had committed to the workers of Devco to only release the Cape Breton coal leases to a company that had demonstrated a genuine interest in continuing a coal industry in Cape Breton. Will the minister commit today

[Page 217]

that his government will uphold the policies of the previous government with regard to the Cape Breton coal leases?

HON. ERNEST FAGE: Mr. Speaker, to the honourable member, our government certainly is working in tandem with the federal Minister of Natural Resources and his department in relationship to those leases and how they possibly may be transferred to a private operator and when that option is put forward, we will be there to support employment in Cape Breton in the mining industry. Thank you.

MR. WILSON: Mr. Minister, would you explain then to the people of Cape Breton why exactly your government intends to possibly give up one of their best natural resources to any fly-by-night company that has no real interest in Cape Breton's future coal industry?

MR. FAGE: Mr. Speaker, to the honourable member, I guess the honourable member must know a number of fly-by-night companies. I am not aware of which one he refers to.

MR. WILSON: Mr. Speaker, I would ask the minister then why should the people of Cape Breton blindly trust this government to help them save their industry if you will not commit to an answer and commit that answer to paper?

[3:45 p.m.]

MR. FAGE: Mr. Speaker, to the honourable member, when he would list a viable option, a company or private owner that would be concerned, who could honour that commitment that he questions, then we will have a look at it. At this point, we are working on an all-Party committee, which the member is part of, to make recommendations on the post-Devco period. The privatization, as the member well knows, is part of that commitment. If he is sincere, he had better show up for the committee meetings with some real suggestions.

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

FIN. - ADMIN. COSTS: REVIEW - INFO.

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, through you to the Minister of Finance. In September, the Minister of Finance announced that he would be looking at ways to reduce administrative costs. They were to include what he called "an external review of the government operations". While the minister, of course, at that time gave no details he did promise "the details of this process will be announced before the budget". In case the minister hasn't noticed, the budget is supposed to come down tomorrow. So my question is, will the minister be tabling on the floor of this House today those details that he promised to provide back on September 20th before the budget is introduced?

[Page 218]

HON. NEIL LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member brings up a good point and he is right when I said that we intended to table that before the budget came forward. There has been a lot of discussion within government as to what the best forum is for outside advice. As it is now, the timetable for that will be announced in my Budget Speech tomorrow.

MR. HOLM: Mr. Speaker, that is the first admission I have heard from a minister that they are backtracking on one of their commitments, that they haven't fulfilled it. Many hard-working public servants have had to live with a great deal of uncertainty since the minister announced that he would be targeting government services for cost reductions. They have a right to know who will be reviewing the work and what criteria will be employed. So my question to the minister is, will the minister tell this House what criteria will be used in an external review to determine which programs will stay and which they intend to cut?

MR. LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, I will say one thing first of all, I am prepared to stand on my feet and to say that if someone comes across with ideas that may be better, that I will reconsider them. When the honourable member makes mention that I backtracked, if someone can come forward with a suggestion that I, as the Minister of Finance, think it is a logical one and would bear consideration, I am willing to listen to that. Now, if he thinks that I should never change my mind, if there are no better ideas to come forward, that that is not the policy that I will follow. So when I say that we have changed our mind on the consultative process, that is so. Tomorrow in our budget there will be some details as to how that outside consultation will take place.

MR. HOLM: Mr. Speaker, of course this minister and his boss, the Premier, have said that they intend to do things differently, that they intend to be open, that they intend to be accountable, my question to the minister, what criteria will be used in determining which programs will be staying and which will be cut and with whom has he consulted in setting that criteria?

MR. LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, I have answered twice that those announcements will be in my budget tomorrow. But I will say that we have initiated a review of every program that government delivers. When I announced the consolidated financial statements for the year ended March 31, 1999, there was a deficit of $384 million, this was a previous budget that was presented as being in surplus. We have some serious financial difficulties in this province and we have to face them. In our consultation people will understand how that will work and they will also understand the criteria that we will be examining.

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

[Page 219]

JUSTICE - ABUSE: SHELBURNE SCHOOL -

COMPENSATION REVIEW

MR. RUSSELL MACLELLAN: Mr. Speaker, the honourable Minister of Finance's statement is such a crock. I want to ask the Premier, in light of all of this reviewing of all of the programs, I understand the government is reviewing the compensation system available to the alleged victims of abuse at the Shelburne Youth Centre. I want to know from the Premier, has that review started, if it hasn't when will it start and what is the scope of this review?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, it is a good question. It is a file that is being handled by the Minister of Justice and I would ask him to respond to the question.

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, in answer to the question put by the honourable Leader of the Liberal Party, our Party made a commitment during the election campaign to undertake a review of the situation at the Shelburne School for Boys. The situation is very clear, our Party is committed to having that review taken place by somebody who is independent, who is impartial, who will do it in a manner that is prompt, and we are looking at options to make sure that that person fits all the criteria so that people in Nova Scotia have an opportunity to be assured that a program that has cost $32 million of taxpayers' money was carried out properly.

MR. MACLELLAN: Mr. Speaker, we are talking about alleged victims of abuse. I would at least expect the Minister of Justice to have some basis for bringing forward this review. We didn't hear any openness or accountability from the Minister of Transportation and Public Works relating to pertinent information on the bypass of Antigonish. I am hoping that the Minister of Justice will show some openness and accountability in telling us what prompted this review and what is it he hopes to learn?

MR. BAKER: In case the honourable member hadn't heard this before, there is a lot of concern expressed by people who are former employees and present employees of the department who are concerned that they haven't been dealt with fairly. There is also concern by many Nova Scotians about a program where $32 million of taxpayers' money was spent. I don't think it is unreasonable and that Nova Scotians feel it is unreasonable to review a program where $32 million of their money was spent to ensure that it was spent wisely.

I don't understand if the member is just being defensive. I am very concerned about those people who were injured as a result of unlawful acts at any provincial institution, as I am sure the member is, but the important thing is to look at these things to ensure that the money was spent wisely and that the money was given to people who deserved the money. That is all we are looking at and that is all we are talking about.

[Page 220]

MR. MACLELLAN: Mr. Speaker, I take great exception to the Minister of Justice alleging that because there is a concern or that there may have been something that prompted a benefit to an alleged victim of abuse that somebody else suffered and was held accountable. That is not the case. I wonder, from the honourable Minister of Justice, if his decision really doesn't come down to the fact that the present and former employees of the Shelburne Youth Centre took out ads in papers and on radio in the minister's jurisdiction during the election campaign. The fact that the honourable Premier was supposed to lead a parade sponsored by the president and former employees, but didn't show up . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

MR. MACLELLAN: Will he just come forward and tell us, in the area of openness and accountability, why is this review taking place? Come clean.

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, I find it incredible that the honourable member should make the suggestion that he is against reviewing this program. I am wondering if the honourable member has some reason that he doesn't want a review of a program where $32 million of taxpayers' money was spent during his term as Premier.

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

ECON. DEV. - MAC TIMBER: MONIES - INVESTIGATION

MR. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Economic Development. When that member sat in the Opposition benches, he believed, as we did, that the Liberal Government knew Mac Timber was a risky deal. Still it gave the company a stamp of approval by giving it $200,000 of taxpayers' money. Not only did we lose the $200,000 of taxpayers' money, but local business people lost millions when Mac Timber went down.

I want to ask the minister, what steps has he taken to discover whether the Liberal Government knew Mac Timber was a bad risk when it gave the company its stamp of approval?

HON. GORDON BALSER: Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the honourable member for the question. Obviously when we sat in Opposition, we were very concerned about the Mac Timber project and the fact that taxpayers' monies were at risk. When I assumed office, that was a closed file. It had not come up until yesterday's newspaper reporting, so we will be investigating as a result of that.

MR. CORBETT: You are the minister. We learned from the media, as you did, Mr. Minister, and I think you have the ability to learn from a source, a bit better source than the media, that the Liberal Government did not know, in fact, all along that Mac Timber Ltd. was a bad risk, just as the current minister and our Party knew it was a bad risk.

[Page 221]

Now I want to ask the minister, what plans does he have to compensate the unsecured creditors, the small business people who suffered because they believed any company that was touted by the Economic Development Minister was a good deal. What is he doing for these people who were misled by that previous government?

MR. BALSER: I would like to thank the honourable member for the question. Obviously it is a concern when any company in this province goes into receivership and any small businesses around this province are affected. The reality at this point is that our department has no plan to compensate businesses that were unduly affected. However, the plant has been reopened under new management and presents new opportunities.

MR. CORBETT: You yourself, Mr. Minister, said nearly 150 small business people who suffered because of the failures of the previous Minister of Economic Development, deserve answers at the very least. They deserve answers.

My question, will he commit to releasing all records in his departments pertaining to Mac Timber, as well as any information pertaining to the last minister's investigation of his own failures around Mac Timber?

MR. BALSER: Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the honourable member for the question. Certainly once the department has undertaken a review of the information that is being presented, and should it be appropriate, that information can be made available.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Richmond.

JUSTICE - ABUSE: COMPENSATION PROG. - PUBLIC REVIEW

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the honourable Minister of Justice. During the recent election campaign the member for Shelburne called for a full public inquiry into the Shelburne Abuse Compensation Program. In fact, in ads taken out in local papers by the falsely accused youth workers of Shelburne County it was stated that John Hamm, the Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party, has publicly promised us an inquiry into the program and access to information about allegations. Please support us, your neighbours, friends and family members, by supporting John Hamm and Cecil O'Donnell on July 27th.

Yet, since their election, the minister now says that he will simply review the program and not go with a public inquiry. Will the minister please tell this House why he will not honour his colleague's election promise and call for a full public review of this program?

[Page 222]

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: I guess the very short answer to the member's question is that I think we are arguing about whether you call a poodle a dog or not. The answer very simply is that a review and an inquiry, they are basically synonyms. What we are talking about is some opportunity to put the light of truth on this.

I don't see why the honourable members opposite are so against putting an independent person in, to review a program which has many people who are very seriously concerned about its efficacy. That is all we are talking about. I don't understand why they feel so defensive when we talk about looking at the program to see whether the taxpayers' dollars were well spent.

MR. SAMSON: Well, Mr. Speaker, the minister said before that I didn't know what I was talking about, now I think it is clear that he doesn't know what he is talking about. There is a fundamental difference between a review and a public inquiry. A public inquiry allows opportunities for both sides to be heard and to have access to all information, instead of a secret review being done by the minister, by someone appointed by his government, behind closed doors.

Mr. Speaker, again I ask the minister, your Party promised the falsely accused workers of Shelburne County a full public inquiry. Why will you not honour that commitment now?

MR. BAKER: I am not quite sure, but I detected earlier that the honourable Leader of the Liberal Party was pressing me to do absolutely, positively, nothing, and then the honourable member opposite has just been pressing me to do a public inquiry. Just out of curiosity, I would appreciate knowing whether it is the position of the Liberal Party that they want a full public inquiry or they don't want us to do anything at all. (Applause)

MR. SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, I want to tell the Minister of Justice that what our Party is looking for is the open and accountable government that your Party promised in the recent election. You clearly indicated during the election, as your Premier did - and your Premier even said that he would march with these former youth workers, yet he failed to attend that march even though he promised them that he would be there - you promised a full public inquiry. Is your decision now to simply go with a back door review, mere showmanship and a ruse to try to save face for the member for Shelburne?

[4:00 p.m.]

MR. BAKER: I can assure the member of this, and I can assure the people of Nova Scotia this, that the review that takes place on this situation will be complete, impartial and thorough and the truth will be the paramount consideration. That is what we are going to be looking for and I can assure the honourable member that in looking at this issue we are going to make sure that the taxpayers, the people of Nova Scotia, the people who work there, and

[Page 223]

those people who are injured as a result of unlawful activities all have an opportunity to be heard. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

EDUC. - P3 SCHOOLS: MOULD PROBLEM - INVESTIGATE

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is to the Minister of Education. Parents, students and teachers at the new Meadowfields Community School in Yarmouth were shocked to find that their brand new school would have to close for a week to deal with a mould problem. Ironically, in August 1998 when the former government released the opening of the school, the release called it a school that focuses on the environment. I am sure that community doesn't know whether to laugh or cry when they read statements like that. My question is, has your department, minister, investigated why there is mould in a brand new school?

HON. JANE PURVES: Yes, Mr. Speaker, the department has investigated why there is a mould problem and it is very simple: it was a hot, humid September; there was a leak. The mould has been cleaned up and the school is functioning. Thank you.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, Nova Scotians have paid a pretty penny for the Liberal's failed P3 schools. The lease for this school is approximately $88,000 per month for the next 20 years. My question to the minister is, what assurances do we have that the fixing of this problem will not be borne, the financial costs, by people in this province but by the developer? A leak in a brand new school surely can't be acceptable for this Minister of Education.

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, we are not in favour of leaks in schools or anywhere else. The developer in question pays the costs of any problems in the school. The school actually was closed for three days, not a week. If it had been closed for longer, we would not have paid management fees.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Well, Mr. Speaker, Meadowfields is not the only school with environmental issues; there certainly are others, but this one is the newest school. My question for the minister is, what environmental guidelines are in place in her department to ensure that this kind of fiasco doesn't happen anywhere else?

MISS PURVES: A very good question. Thank you very much. Acts of God, Mr. Speaker, are not preventable by environmental guidelines. Any school, any institution, can leak or develop mould, or develop anything else. We have very good guidelines in place; they do not prevent accidents.

[Page 224]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Clare.

EDUC. - P3 SCHOOLS: NEW (16) - FUTURE

MR. WAYNE GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, my question is also for the Minister of Education. Approximately five months ago the provincial government announced details for 16 much-needed schools to be built in communities across Nova Scotia. These new school projects were recommended by the school boards and were accepted by government. Among the 16 new schools approved was a new Primary-to-Grade 12 school for students served by the Southwest Regional School Board in both Clare and in Argyle: a replacement for École Sainte Anne-du-Ruisseau in Argyle and an extensive renovation project for École secondaire de Clare.

Now we learned last Friday that this government is doing an independent P3 finance and process review for all public infrastructure. My question to the minister is, has the minister confirmed with the school boards that these 16 new school projects will go ahead once the review is completed?

HON. JANE PURVES: Mr. Speaker, to the former Minister of Education, the review is about financing only. We have made that clear. The Finance Minister and myself have made it clear that the financing of the schools is being reviewed, not the need for schools. The schools are needed.

MR. GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, now with this P3 review that their government is doing, my question is, how long will the students and the parents have to wait to hear from this minister to find out when their schools will be built?

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, we should know probably by Christmas, early in the new year. The former minister is well aware that the first of these schools is not due until September 2001. There is time.

MR. GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, my last question to the minister is, could the minister tell us how much she has budgeted for yet another study?

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, the Department of Finance is doing the lead on this study and I would like to refer the question to the Minister of Finance.

HON. NEIL LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, actually this is a very good question. I am more than prepared to spend money to review (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

[Page 225]

MR. LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, the previous administration committed to over $0.5 billion worth of capital projects. By their own admission they did it because they could keep it off the books because of the accounting procedures of this province. Without asking for an independent appraisal, they did it internally because they wanted to keep it off the income statement. Is that reasonable, Mr. Speaker? What we are asking today is that if we are going to build schools, we will build schools in the most cost-effective way because we have brought about changes in accounting, so now it makes no difference as to whether or not we lease schools or whether we build schools ourselves. The question is a very reasonable one and when the honourable member for Cape Breton South says we are adding to the deficit, I would ask you to look at Horton High.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

EDUC. - P3: RICHMOND CO. - SITE SELECTION DISPUTE

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is to the Minister of Education. We all know the previous Liberal Government's failed P3 school policy pitted communities against each other, and this I think is very apparent if we look at Richmond County where the east has been pitted against the west over the site of a new high school. The situation has deteriorated now to the point where east Richmond parents are going to court over the site selection process. My question is, does the minister believe the school board followed the regulations when it recommended a particular site for the new school?

HON. JANE PURVES: Mr. Speaker, as I am sure the honourable member for Halifax Needham is aware, regarding site selection, because of the impending court case, I cannot comment on that aspect of the situation. Anything else to do with east Richmond I can help her with, I would be glad to.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: It is not a criminal proceeding, Mr. Speaker, but at any rate the parents are hoping that this government would provide a fresh start and demonstrate a new way of doing business, and not getting answers from the minister is a lot like not getting answers from the former minister in the last government. My question to the minister is, will she undertake to mediate this dispute without delay, taking it out of the adversial court process?

MISS PURVES: I have been up to talk to a group from east Richmond, west Richmond. I have tried my best to mediate. Two years of acrimony has resulted in a very bad situation, as the honourable member is well aware. We have promised openness with regard to environmental studies. There is a public meeting in Richmond on Friday afternoon where all parties will be given information on the environmental studies and then a decision will be made within the next few weeks on the site. We hope to put it to bed soon, Mr. Speaker.

[Page 226]

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: I would like to thank the minister and I want to assure her that we recognize the difficulties that were created by former members in that area. My final question is, will the minister give her assurance that there will be a transparent, non-political and proper site selection process for Richmond Academy?

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, we hope for proper, non-political site selection processes everywhere in Nova Scotia, not just Richmond.

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

TRANSPORT. & PUB. WKS.:

PIT & QUARRY WORK - REGULATIONS

MR. BRIAN BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Transportation. The former Liberal Government approved project plans for road work on Highway No. 125, Trans Canada Highway and Route 223, Barrachois Mountain. These are valued assets in my this area of my constituency for various reasons. A local quarry is being used by the company working on these projects.

My question, Mr. Speaker, to the minister is, could the minister explain to this House what the regulations say about the orderly and safe conduct of a pit and quarry operation which is being used for highway work and are these regulations designed to protect local property owners?

HON. GORDON BALSER: Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the honourable member for the question. Certainly whenever open pit and quarry operations are undertaken, we pay very close attention to safety issues and those regulations, so rest assured the regulations are in place and being enforced.

MR. BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, the company which received the government tender for this work has leased the quarry from a small, local operator in the Leitches Creek area. I, personally, have witnessed trucks speeding at 115 km per hour in a 70 km zone. I have heard the noise that has been created by this operation and residents are complaining about the dirt and the dust. Could the Minister of Transportation tell me if the disruptive actions of Dexter Construction, which is a known contributor to the Progressive Conservative Party, are being overlooked by his department?

MR. BALSER: Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the honourable member for the question. It is interesting to note that, on the one hand they are complaining about the lack of highway repair and construction in the province and, on the other hand they bring to light concerns about dust and dirt in the air. You can't have it both ways. If you want road work to be done, there is going to be some discomfort. As to whether or not regulations are being

[Page 227]

followed or concerns of that nature, they should be raised with the local OS in the proper manner.

MR. BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, residents are very concerned about this operation. They are concerned about various aspects of this project. Dexter Construction is planning to build an asphalt plant in a watershed area. Will the minister give his assurance that his department will move to block the construction of this asphalt plant until the noise, dirt and dust created at the quarry site is investigated and appropriate action is taken and all the permits required are in place by this company. Will the minister confirm that?

MR. BALSER: Mr. Speaker, again I would like to thank the honourable member for the question. Obviously, before any contract is awarded and work completed, the regulations in place to ensure that all environmental issues are addressed have to be carried out and completed. So, if the plant is going ahead, it is with the knowledge that the various regulations are being complied with.

[4:15 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

EDUC. - P3 SCHOOLS: DEVELOPERS - GUIDELINES

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, my question, through you, is to the Minister of Education. We all know the Liberal Government's failed P3 school policy led to some developers riding roughshod over communities. My question to the minister is, does the minister believe that the developers of the new school should follow zoning and building by-laws and other codes and regulations in communities where these schools are being built?

HON. JANES PURVES: Mr. Speaker, I believe the developers of the new schools should follow essentially the same rules as developers of the old schools.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, this is good to know. We learned last week how bad the failed Liberal P3 school policy could get when the Mayor of Port Hawkesbury threatened to stop work on the South Inverness Education Centre. Reportedly, the construction schedule left the developer with little choice but to build the school first and seek zoning approval later. This is not the only school where this is happening. My question for the minister is, what instructions has this new government given to school developers about whether buildings can commence before zoning approval is granted?

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, the developers have, in the case of the school in Port Hawkesbury, applied for the permits. They are trying to build a school on time. We are hoping the town will help us with the paperwork. As I am sure the honourable member is

[Page 228]

aware, the school is being built on provincial land. We are not overly concerned about the end result of by-laws not being complied with.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, the minister cannot have it both ways. Either they follow zoning by-laws that are in place or they don't. I heard her say earlier that it is important that these things be done. We had a school closed because of leaks, someplace else.

My final question to the minister is, will she please explain what her government's position is when members of her political Party made a career out of complaining about the jail site not being zoned for an institution out in Jack Lake and would she please ensure that her department and its private sector partners will obey all local zoning by-laws?

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, I would like to assure this House that we are following the same relationship with municipalities in building schools that we always have and we will be in compliance with the law.

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

LBR. - WORKERS' ADVISERS PROG. -

APPOINTMENT (MS. MARY LLOYD)

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Labour. This government has told Nova Scotians that they are going to do things differently, certainly that they would be open and accountable and, most importantly, their Cabinet Ministers would conduct themselves within a code of conduct befitting their responsibilities. My question, Mr. Speaker, to the minister is, Mr. Minister, your department has offered an injured workers activist a job within the Workers'Advisers Program in exchange for her silence on any and all outstanding issues that she was advocating, respecting issues such as chronic pain and injured workers issues. I would ask if the minister sees that as the standard of conduct within the confines of his job description?

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, that is absolutely false. It was the intention that that particular person be offered an opportunity to serve the injured workers of Nova Scotia who had an interest in the Workers' Compensation Board, the Workers' Compensation Act, et cetera. She is a very well-versed person insofar as the Workers' Compensation Act is concerned and that is exactly why that appointment was offered.

MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, one thing, when Ms. Lloyd took issue with this government, we didn't have to result to try to bribe them with a job to shut them up. We certainly dealt with the issue as it came forth. Ms. Lloyd is reported in the New Glasgow Evening News that she received a job offer from the department the very day after that she had met with the Minister of Labour and several of the Pictou County MLAs.

[Page 229]

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

MR. MACKINNON: My question is, is this the way the department deals with outspoken critics and activists of your department?

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I always understood that the word bribe was unparliamentary so I am not going to answer the question.

MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Premier. Since the Premier has indicated that he will be providing a code of conduct for Cabinet Ministers and senior officials, I would ask if this is the type of activity that the Premier is going to expect as they try to meet their obligations? Certainly, we haven't seen that with the former Minister of Housing. You indicated, when you came back from your Asiatic trip, that you would review new evidence; obviously, there was no new evidence. It was an order from the fire marshal's office, an order to remedy, it certainly wasn't a recommendation. What is the standard that you do issue for your Cabinet Ministers, Mr. Premier?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I can assure the member opposite that all of the ministers of this government are qualified to carry out the responsibilities that are being required of them. The second part of your question is the code of conduct, and it will be introduced for your view and the view of all Nova Scotians very soon.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect.

EDUC. - BUSING RESTRICTIONS: REVIEW - STATUS

MR. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is to the Minister of Education. During the heat of the summer, Madam Minister, you were, of course, made aware of a tough call when it came to busing of students in the community of Beechville-Lakeside-Timberlea. Current restrictions say that within 2.4 kilometers for elementary children and 3.6 kilometres for older children there will be no busing and no courtesy stops. During that issue, you promised a review and I haven't heard a word from you since. What is the status of this much-needed review on busing legislation in our province?

HON. JANE PURVES: Mr. Speaker, there will be a review. I am not aware of all the details of regulations on the busing. I would like to tell the honourable member, as I mentioned in a meeting with the Beechville parents, that this regulation has the biggest effect in the city. It is much needed to review it in the city, but there is not a huge priority in the rest of the province. Yes, we will be reviewing these regulations and changing them, if necessary.

MR. ESTABROOKS: This is no time to get into a debate of city, county, the city most, the county most. My concern is the review. Who is on it? When will it be delivered?

[Page 230]

MISS PURVES: It will happen in the fullness of time. Thank you.

MR. ESTABROOKS: Madam Minister, as a new member in this House, at times clarity is of real necessity. When it deals with issues of real consequence, I don't expect that sort of . . .

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

The honourable Premier on an introduction.

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I wish to draw to the attention of the members three visitors in the Speaker's Gallery. We are pleased to have with us today His Excellency Dirk Jan Van Houten, the Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to Canada. He is accompanied by Mr. André Cornelis Brouwer, the Consul General of the Kingdom of the Netherlands; and Mr. Gavin Rainnie, Honorary Consul of the Kingdom of the Netherlands based here in Halifax. I would ask our three guests to rise and to receive the greeting of the House. (Applause)

OPPOSITION MEMBERS' BUSINESS

MOTIONS OTHER THAN GOVERNMENT MOTIONS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Liberal House Leader.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, in light of the fact that you added two minutes onto the Question Period, we will keep the same time schedule as shown on the sheet that I circulated, which will then bring us to 5:59 p.m. instead of 5:57 p.m.

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

The honourable Liberal House Leader.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Resolution No. 6.

Res. No. 6, re Sysco - Closure: Impact - Intolerable - notice given, Oct. 8/99 - (Mr. P. MacEwan)

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

[Page 231]

MR. PAUL MACEWAN: Mr. Speaker, I introduced Resolution No. 6 the other day as an expression of concern about unfolding developments in a very vital industry. It is in my constituency but this is not a constituency issue alone, it is a province-wide issue, it is a provincial concern. It certainly has a very direct impact on the well-being of all of Cape Breton County but, in a broader sense, it could potentially have a very direct impact on the pocketbook, I think, of every taxpayer in Nova Scotia. It is certainly a subject that is a matter of great interest, I would suggest, at the present time; that is the future of the Sydney Steel plant.

Mr. Speaker, earlier today the honourable member for Cape Breton East posed the question, why should the people of Cape Breton blindly trust this government? I might say to that that I don't think they do trust this government. I don't think they ought to trust this government. I know, sir, that I certainly do not trust this government and I will not trust them until they demonstrate themselves to be worthy of the trust with which they have been entrusted.

Now, sir, this resolution springs from election-time propaganda that was circulated in this city. I tabled this earlier, a photograph of Sydney Steel with the word "closed" stamped over it, Progressive Conservative logo and underneath that the assurance printed, "A John Hamm Government will close SYSCO once and for all. Priorities Matter, stop pouring $$ into SYSCO.", vote Progressive Conservative.

I have already tabled this item, I don't know that I have to re-table it but I have plenty of copies. The photocopier can be very active when needed and we can make as many copies as honourable members may wish, Mr. Speaker.

Now that is the kind of assurance that was circulated not only in the riding of Halifax Citadel - it was pretended by some that that was only published in Halifax Citadel - we have propaganda circulated in the constituency of Shelburne making the same claim, and it was generally stated throughout Nova Scotia that this would be the priority of a Conservative Government, if elected, which may account for why the Tory Party has been so abysmally unsuccessful in the Sydney area.

In my constituency the Tory candidate received 2 per cent of the vote, the lowest anywhere in Nova Scotia. In the honourable member for Cape Breton South's constituency the Tory would-be candidate there got, what - 6 per cent, 5 per cent, 4 per cent - somewhere in that vicinity per cent of the vote. In Cape Breton Centre, the same pattern. In Cape Breton The Lakes, a similar showing. In those ridings that are around Sydney the Conservative Party is at an all-time low right now in terms of popularity. The reason why, I would suggest, in large part is because of the cynical way that they have baited other parts of Nova Scotia against Cape Breton, in the hope that that would gain them votes. We have proof of that not only on Sysco but on a number of other items.

[Page 232]

Now, Mr. Speaker, I would presume that the statements they made at election time are a true and accurate reflection of their intentions. I want to draw to their attention certain facts that might perhaps cause them to have second thoughts - at least I hope so. The first and foremost duty of any government is to maintain and protect the public interest, to maintain and protect the trust of the people with which they have temporarily been entrusted, because they have not been elected to power for all time, they have only been elected to hold power until the next election. When that happens, their record will be reviewed and they will be held accountable for what they have done and for what they have not done.

Now, I demonstrated that irresponsible elements within the government are pressing for a sudden precipitous closure of the Sydney Steel Corporation. For all I know, that may well be the majority of their members across the way, it may be all of them, for all I know. I have no way of knowing if there are any secret friends of Sydney Steel over there. Certainly the honourable Minister of Economic Development didn't impress anyone when he hastened into Sydney to meet with the Sysco board and skedaddled out of town so quickly that he didn't even have an opportunity to go down in the plant and inspect the work site. I never saw such a terrible performance by a minister entrusted with the welfare of the Sydney Steel Corporation, as to hit and run, meet the board, and not even go down and take a look at the plant. What a level of interest that reflects or a level of disinterest.

[4:30 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, we know what they have stated and I am not going to trouble the House with loads and loads of clippings and past quotations because we all know what they have said. They know what they have said. They have given an assurance that if a certain procedure or certain process now under way of sale is not concluded or completed by a certain cut-off point, namely December 31, 1999, they intend to move in on January 1, 2000, with a big padlock. They will rub their hands against each other and walk away and say what good boys and girls we are, we have done our job, duty done. Let us retreat or retire back to Halifax and celebrate.

You know, Mr. Speaker, that is not responsible. First of all, we have an industry there that is a viable industry that is producing a lot of good product. It is meeting a need for steel products; it is a Nova Scotian industry that ought to be supported; it supports a large number of people; there are many people on the payroll; there are many more that are on pensions that the company is supporting and it has a tremendous spin-off effect. You have got to bear in mind, too, that you are dealing here with an area, the industrial area of Cape Breton, that is facing right now the loss of a substantial portion, if not the vast majority, of the jobs represented by the other major industry we have there, the Cape Breton Development Corporation.

[Page 233]

I believe that there will be coal mining in Cape Breton long after you and I are gone, Mr. Speaker. I also know that it will not employ the number of people that it has in the past and that there is going to be a transition period that is going to be very difficult indeed for our communities and people to face before we know the final form the future of coal mining in Cape Breton will assume. If it is to be under private ownership, people want to know under what ownership because private ownership is simply an abstract concept. It does not reflect any particular operator; it does not reflect any particular policy; it does not reflect certainly any particular pattern of development. It is just an abstraction. The people of Cape Breton right now are probably in a greater state of uncertainty and of hopelessness and of despair than they have been for many a long year. You have to realize that that is the background when you approach this topic of Sysco and what should be done with Sydney Steel.

What we would urge the government to do is to let the process now under way continue and to give it your support. We are hoping that the process set under way by the former government will be seen through to a successful conclusion and that Sydney Steel will be marketed, will be turned over to a private operator who will make a go of the company, and who will operate it to the benefit of the community and to the benefit of the owner. We accept and recognize that government is not a proper form of management to be running a steel plant. We accept that. You have no argument from us on that at all. It has been demonstrated everywhere in the world, I think, that heavy industry is not best run by government. We do ask that the process now under way be allowed to continue, be allowed to come to a conclusion, a successful conclusion hopefully, and not be interfered with, or jeopardized or undermined or brought under public attack by government in the meantime.

My goodness, Mr. Speaker, I am only barely starting. Just imagine the effect it has on the fellows that are overseas right now trying to sell Sysco products to the four corners of the world, to read in the newspapers and in the journals of the world that the attitude of this government has been expressed in this kind of propaganda. It undermines and defeats their every effort. Because of the limited amount of time, I have only just begun on this topic and there will be many more opportunities to discuss it, but I did want at this opening session of the House on the first Opposition Day to raise the subject so that we could get some kind of a response from government and see where we may go from there. I thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Economic Development.

HON. GORDON BALSER: Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the honourable member for bringing forth this resolution so that it can be discussed. There were some points he raised which were very valid, but I find the wording of the resolution as such that it paints the government's position in somewhat of a poor light in using words such as "knee-jerk" - and "pressing for sudden and a precipitous closure" to the steel plant. Nothing could be further from the truth. What happened approximately one year ago, was that the then government brought forward a plan that would see a management team brought in and then, out of that, spun the retention of a company whose mandate it was to actively find a buyer.

[Page 234]

When we formed the government, we had run on a platform that included issues around Sysco. What we said in that platform is that we, as a government, would not continue to put money in a business that was not viable. But we also said that, in the best light, it would be sold. When we became the government we looked carefully at the agreements that were in place. There was a contractual obligation that allowed one year for this process to be completed. We met with the people involved. We met with the management team. We met with the board of directors and we met with representatives of ABN Amro. We decided to allow this process to be brought to closure.

What we did tell these people though was that there was clearly a date in place on which some decision would have to be made; that date is December 31, 1999. What happened in this instance that has never happened before is that the government clearly articulated its position. That is if, in fact, the operation can be sold, we will be supportive of that process and we have demonstrated that clearly by our support of the ABN Amro group and what they are trying to do.

On the other hand, if on December 31, 1999, there is no clear indication that a buyer can be found, a buyer who will take over that plant and operate it as an ongoing operation, then we will begin a shutdown process. That is, in no way, meant to minimize the plight of the people directly employed at the plant or of Cape Breton as a whole. What we said that if, in fact, in the worst case scenario, a closure process has to begin, that we intend to fully include all of the stakeholders in that process. It is duly noted that many of the workforce can be accommodated through a remediation program that would be essential if the plant was closed. We intend to make sure that those people have the opportunity to work out employment credits so that they will be able to retire with some level of support.

The other point is that as the operation currently exists, it has never been able to turn a profit. The product lines are so minimal and the margins so tight that it is very difficult for that plant to be profitable. The other issue is that, as a subsidized operation, the fact of the matter is it cannot sell rails in the U.S. market without access to that market because steel rails and head hardened rails are their two most lucrative products. Without being able to access the American market, there is no real hope.

Now, I will say that the Hoogovens management team have been very aggressive in trying to resolve the internal problems and positioning the company in the best possible light to be sold. Out of this whole thing though comes the larger issue of what we need to do to retool the economy. For many years, the economy of Cape Breton has been reliant on two primary resource industries; the steel industry and the coal industry. There have been movements across the economy into new areas. What we intend to do is put in place a strategy that will help the communities of Cape Breton develop economic development strategies appropriate to their area. Recently, this government put support into the Rainbow group because that aquaculture industry represents, perhaps, a great new opportunity. There are other opportunities available, but what has to happen is that we have to work together.

[Page 235]

The reality is that the taxpayers of Nova Scotia can no longer contribute endless amounts of money to a business that is not viable. That is not to say again that this government is not supportive of any effort to have the company sold. In fact, I would say that if there is an opportunity for this plant to be sold as an ongoing viable operation, perhaps ABN Amro represents the best opportunity for that to take place.

Rest assured that in my conversations with the unions working at the Sysco plant, with the board of directors, we reaffirmed the commitment, as a government, to do our very best to support and help that sales process. But the difference is, unlike previous governments, we have the political will to take the hard decision if it becomes necessary. But we, by the same token, don't want to unduly undermine any efforts that might bring forth a buyer. We have convinced ABN Amro and Hoogovens that that is our position and, in fact, later this month representatives of the ABN Amro group are going to be meeting with the board of directors. My understanding is that we made an opportunity for them to also brief the two caucuses as to their progress.

What we need to do is work together and continually you see in the media concern about we are going to close it, you are going to close it regardless. That is not the position that we have articulated; in fact we have even gone so far as to allow access to the line of credit. I know we have been called into question for that very strategy, but what we have said is we are committed to seeing, if it can be sold, that that happen.

We have told buyers that if they purchase orders and put orders on the order book that those orders will be honoured. We have told the people involved that no, on December 31st. there will not be a lock on the door. What we have said is that if on December 31st there are no buyers on the horizon that we will begin a wind-down process and that means that we will honour commitments that have been made and we will make sure that any opportunities that come out of the closure, either in the remediation of the tar ponds or other environmental concerns that are prevalent in Cape Breton, that what we do is we look at it as an opportunity to invent a new industry for Cape Breton. Many areas of the world have serious, serious environmental issues outstanding and they are looking very closely at how this province deals with the issue of environmental remediation at the tar ponds, and perhaps at the Sysco operation and at the Devco plant when that step is taken.

So we do have an opportunity to develop a new industry that may make Nova Scotia again a world leader and provide new opportunities. To dwell on the past and to put forward false hope is inappropriate. What we need to do is ask: Can Sysco run and make a profit? The evidence against that is very overwhelming. Thirty years experience clearly shows that they have not been able to do that in spite of the fact that there were extensive renovations. I remember looking at information that said when they have the electric arc furnace in and when they remove the accumulated debt from the books at Sysco, then it can go forward and be profitable. That was the plan and that was the vision. Did it happen? No.

[Page 236]

Unfortunately when we reviewed the proposal put forward by Hoogovens we questioned that, we questioned whether or not the numbers were realistic. In actual fact, to be blunt, Hoogovens has fallen short of their projections in their business plan in spite of good effort, and I would commend them for their effort. In fact, on my visit to the steel plant, Sydney Steel was awarded the ISO 9000 as an accreditation and it truly shows the commitment of the management team and the workforce, and what that shows too is another thing that would make it very attractive to a potential buyer, so we endorse that and congratulate the people involved for their hard work and effort.

We, in no way, are trying to react in a knee-jerk fashion. What we are simply saying is this is the plan for the future, this is what we intend to do as a government. Will we help the operators sell the plant? Absolutely. Will we take the hard decision if there is no other choice? Absolutely. Will we help the people of Cape Breton to redefine the economy? Absolutely. In fact, the federal government has committed $68 million in an economic diversification program and brought the Province of Nova Scotia to the table as not only a partner but a partner who is willing to put money into the package.

We have looked at what is needed, and what is needed is not dwelling on the past and throwing taxpayers' money into a business that is not viable. What is needed is a new vision and that is what we are offering. Interestingly enough, one of the things that ABN Amro has said has been most helpful in their contacts with businesses so far is that we as a government are operating this at arm's length.

We are not meddling and we are not putting caveats around what kind of business plan will be acceptable to us as a government. What we have said is this government is getting out of the steel business and we hope that when we get out it will be leaving the Sysco operation in the capable hands of someone who can run it and make a profit. Thank you, Mr. Speaker. (Applause)

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

MR. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, I, too, am glad to stand here today and speak on this topic because, while my friend and I from Cape Breton Nova may disagree on many things - and maybe even on some of the substance of this - I agree that we are on the same page when we want to see Sydney Steel move forward. I don't think that we are quite at loggerheads over that. Now, shortly after that I am sure the member and I parted company, but I honestly believe that when this member brought this forward he had the best interests of the workers and the community in mind when he did this.

[Page 237]

[4:45 p.m.]

I think one has to look back and think what this member showed us and tabled yesterday - this postcard. Now often by itself, that may not be such a bad thing. One could say it is one candidate trying to get a leg up in a race and whether it is maybe that some nasty things are done during campaigns and one could say okay. I think this really spoke volumes of how this government is going to deal with economic development, in particular in areas that are in no way, shape or form available to move on without some government assistance.

Now the minister himself said this, that they wouldn't move off if there was a clear indication of a sale. Now I am sure that most people who work at Sysco, most people in industrial Cape Breton, would ask for an explanation of what is a clear indication of a sale. A signed document, the minister denotes. So what we are going to say is we are coming into the millennium and the Y2K bug is really going to snap Sysco if this document is not signed by midnight, December 31st.

Well, you know that causes me concerns and certainly should cause all Nova Scotians concerns. You took a very mean-spirited attitude towards this in your election. Again, this is another point that I may agree with that member on - it was a way to garner support off the Island and pit part of the province against the other. Therefore, what you have now is an Economic Development Agency that is suspect because it plays people off in that manner.

Have you told the people of Nova Scotia how much it would cost for, say, your pension plan? How much of the pension plan is unfunded, as we sit here today? I think it would be fair to say that it is in the vicinity of $30 million, yet you are willing to dig into your pocket and cause Nova Scotian taxpayers to go further into debt, pay that $30 million off, rather than wait a few months.

Then you talk about site remediation. Now this is one that gets me because where is this plan for site remediation? Is it similar to the Liberal's plan, where it is going to be an untendered contract and we are going to have all kinds of problems? We are going to have Department of Labour investigations and everything into it, how much is that going to cost? These are questions that you fail to answer and that bothers me. I think it bothers everybody in this House because it is a matter of not just Cape Breton dollars, but Nova Scotian dollars. You, by your position, your Party, have separated those. It is separated by much more than a causeway or a strait - because it is joined by a causeway - it is separated by the strait and you have done more damage there to pit one part of this province against another for economic development dollars. That is not fair.

Now you brought up the $68 million that the federal government has put forward. In response to that I believe it is fair to say that the province came forward with $12 million. But let's not forget that that money was brought forward not on a plan that Sysco would close, if you listened to the federal minister responsible for Devco, clearly stated that that money is

[Page 238]

to help be an economic offset to the closure of Devco. It has absolutely nothing to do with Sysco, not a penny. Yet you feel that you should jump that money in there, which is wrong again.

You are asking us to trust you. You spoke for approximately 10 minutes, with no concrete evidence of saying that if the deal is not signed by December 31st, here is what we are going to do. There is not a word in that. We are running behind the sales force and telling other people in the steel industry or buyers of steel product, don't worry, we are going to go good for it, but are you telling them that on December 31st, if the deal isn't signed, everything is off the table, they are on the hook? I don't think buyers are going to be that enamoured buying that product from Sysco.

You have just said, if we don't have a deal signed, there is no carryover, it is nothing. It is gone as of December 31st. That, to my mind, doesn't reassure customers, it will make the customers go elsewhere.

We didn't arrive at this problem when your government assumed the mantle of power. This problem is 30 years of political interference from both of your Parties, this one and this one. The Liberals want to tell us, we have the answer for Sysco, we were going to do this and we were going to do that. Now, the new captain of Cape Breton, the new senator, he is going to save us. I kind of remember he tried to sell Sysco once. I think he had a group . . . (Interruptions)

AN HON. MEMBER: He was going to take care of himself.

MR. CORBETT: He was going to take care of Sysco, and what did he do? He was going to sell it to a Chinese company. Can anybody tell me where that Chinese company is today?

AN HON. MEMBER: Minmetals, wasn't it?

MR. CORBETT: I think that was the name of it, Minmetals. This group was not interested in today, but this new senator, new Captain Cape Breton, he is going to save the economic day. He is going to do what others have failed to do.

The previous minister, the same minister who had a deal (Interruptions) I am sure the minister of today clearly remembers, the deal is imminent; dotting the i's and crossing the t's. It was a done deal, she is gone. That is it. Then all of a sudden, I guess the pen ran out of ink, because he failed to deliver yet again.

AN HON. MEMBER: The union stopped them before . . .

[Page 239]

MR. CORBETT: That is right. We are here and now we are faced with Hoogovens trying to sell that plant in conjunction with ABN Amro. Another thing we agree on, Hoogovens has done a fine job of managing that plant. We think that ABN Amro is out there really beating the bushes. But, Mr. Minister, I think, as one of your previous ministers said during Question Period today, if people come up with better ideas and more attractive solutions that you should be open to them.

Our solution is quite clear. It is not necessary for you to have a signed document on December 31st, I think it is more important for you to get out there and say in a clear and public way that you support the sale of Sysco, that you support the future that plant could have, that when you invest money, you tell them that you are investing in capital costs to make it attractive in the market place, that we can move forward, that the various product lines they have will indeed be expanded, the plant can be sold. When it gets into private hands, we can look at going internationally with their rails again. Indeed, when I say internationally, I obviously mean the United States market.

Therefore, Mr. Minister, your responsibility is not to go and champion your cause during the provincial election, but it is to champion economic development for this province. If you want to stay by your strident position of sell Sysco at any cost, you, sir, are going to be responsible for costing Nova Scotians millions and millions of dollars. I say to you, move off your high horse and support the people of Cape Breton. Thank you. (Applause)

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

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, how much time do I have?

MR. SPEAKER: You have five minutes.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, in regard to the comments of the previous speaker, one thing I do know in this House, that the NDP will never have to make a decision on anything in Nova Scotia, either in the past or the future. (Interruptions) Where they are coming from, I would take with a grain of salt.

I do want to talk a few moments about Sydney Steel and the importance of Sydney Steel to the economy in Cape Breton. Perhaps, to the new members opposite, I would remind them that if they are receiving other information, that Sysco is not the belching dinosaur that people - and sometimes the media - in this province would make it out to be. It is a modern steel mill that was reconstructed in 1991 and has an electric arc furnace, one of the finest in the world. I want you to remember that.

AN HON. MEMBER: By the Tories.

[Page 240]

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Yes, by the previous government, as a matter of fact. One thing that the Minister of Economic Development said in his talk here today is that if there are no buyers on the horizon on December 31, 1999, we will take another look at it.

I am getting contradictory information as to what this government is going to do with Sydney Steel on December 31, 1999. What is happening now is the minister is saying that we are going take another look at it if it is not sold by December 31, 1999. The Premier has said, publicly, that the plant will close on December 31, 1999, if another buyer is not found.

I want to talk a moment about the importance of Sydney Steel to the economy and some of the misconceptions that are out there. One, the economy surrounding Sydney Steel is not a local economy; it is a Nova Scotia economic issue. It affects the Cape Breton & Central NS Railway. For example, if Sydney Steel goes down, that railway is going down. That affects transportation of goods from Sydney right to Truro, including the Strait area, Pictou County and Colchester County. They are really concerned about the effect that it will have on the Cape Breton and Central NS Railway. Three to one is the economic generator of jobs. You are looking at replacing upwards of 2,500 jobs if Sysco goes down.

Don't, Mr. Minister, stand there and tell me that a remediation project is going to make up for the loss of full-time industrial jobs in industrial Cape Breton. First of all, what will happen is that those steelworkers will be forced on EI for one year before anything is done, while plans are being developed. When those plans are being developed, most of the money will go to consultants that develop those plans over the next couple of years. If we ever get into a remediation project, these steelworkers will be on welfare before that ever comes to fruition.

What about the spin-offs in the community? The business community in industrial Cape Breton is concerned at the present time, and have been for some time, about the uncertainty surrounding Sydney Steel. Much has been said about the $2.8 billion that suddenly grew from $2 billion nine months ago in the press to now $2.8 billion that has been "wasted" on Sydney Steel. What about the economic generator in the past 30 years that Sydney Steel has brought into this province, including suppliers over here in the Burnside Industrial Park who are making money off of Sydney Steel? The local economy, the provincial economy and the national economy have all made money off Sydney Steel.

It is ironic that we are talking about closing it now when Canadian National is back buying rails from Sydney Steel, in spite of the uncertainty that is there now, in spite of the uncertainty surrounding the Sydney Steel Plant, CN has elected to go back to the plant because of the quality of rails that are being produced at that plant at the present time.

[Page 241]

Why the rush to close the plant? To keep a political promise to the mainlanders in Nova Scotia, most of whom, by the way, care about what happens to all sections of Nova Scotia? I suggest that this governing Party has bought in to a minority opinion of the Province of Nova Scotia respecting Sydney Steel and someday they will pay for that. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth South. There are 24 seconds left in debate on this.

MR. TIMOTHY OLIVE: Mr. Speaker, in 24 seconds I can probably say the most important statement that I will make in the next little while and that is that we need a plan for the people of Cape Breton, not to dwell on a plan for Sydney Steel if Sydney Steel can still not make a go of it. We need a plan. We are the only Party that ran an election campaign and that is what we are going to do.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Liberal House Leader.

[5:00 p.m.]

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Resolution No. 20.

Res. No. 20, re Health - Full-time Nurses: Funding Commitment - Intention Indicate - notice given Oct. 8/99 - (Dr. J. Smith)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

DR. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to join in debate this afternoon on Resolution No. 20. It was introduced as a health initiative relative to the government's commitment to funding full-time nursing positions. The government in its Speech from the Throne committed to the funding of 100 full-time nurses, or equivalents, whatever the word equivalent may mean in that context. There is no mention in the 243 promises of the provision of funding for equivalents. "Therefore be it resolved that the Premier clearly indicate whether it is his government's intention to fund full-time nursing positions as originally promised."

Mr. Speaker, when I first read this particular government's commitment in the Throne Speech, I must say that the word equivalent jumped off the page. In the election promises of the PC Party, at Page 6, interestingly called "Strong Leadership - A Clearer Course", this document was quite clear in its commitment, providing us as its first priority, as our first priority, the core funding required to establish additional full-time nursing positions.

Why is the government now indicating that they are willing to fund full-time positions or equivalents and not full-time positions, as originally promised in the pre-election? Is it because Premier Hamm and his government now realize that the money they hoped to find

[Page 242]

in order to pay for their health care promises, one of which includes full-time nursing positions, cannot be realized, in fact, by the outrageous statements made during the election and they were advocating during that time by cutting administration and health care, whatever that means. Usually it means jobs, in my experience, Mr. Speaker, because that is really the driving force within the budget of the Department of Health - jobs in hospitals, jobs in home care, jobs in community clinics, physicians, nurses, occupational therapists. That is what we call the administration of the health care system, in the broadest sense.

By funding full-time positions or the equivalents, as was stated in the Throne Speech, does the Premier and his government truly believe that they can check this promise off their list as having been accomplished - the big list that was being held up on the billboards pre-election. Now can they really feel that they can check one of those off now? I don't believe so.

Does the Premier and his government believe that funding equivalents is a cheaper way to go? We have heard very clearly that if there is one message from the nursing profession it is that the issue of part-time funding for nursing positions is really cutting into the quality of care; it has lowered the morale of the nursing profession and it really is probably not saving money as well. So does the Premier and his government really believe that funding equivalents is a cheaper way to go? I think that nurses in Nova Scotia and the health care system in general deserve better than this. They deserve to know what equivalent means.

Yesterday when I asked the Minister of Health in the House to clarify his government's definition of equivalent, he indicated that we would have to wait for the budget in order for the financial implications of this commitment to come forward. So, for the sake of argument, let us, as a result of the minister's response, assume that equivalent means something other than full-time. Nurses in this province during the election campaign were not looking for a commitment of funding for the equivalents - they certainly had made it clear that they were not. They were looking for the funding of full-time positions.

I ask the minister and his government, does the word equivalent mean part-time or casual? I wish the minister would address that in his response this evening, if he does address Resolution No. 20.

Mr. Speaker, we have been told many times in this House and, indeed, have been told by the nurses themselves, that the hiring of part-time and casual nurses has a very negative effect on the health care that is being received by our residents of this province. It is a negative impact on the nursing profession generally and it certainly seems to be impacting on patient care. In fact, the current Minister of Finance said on the floor of this House, on May 18, 1999, that the hiring of part-time and casual nurses has had a very negative effect on the health care that is being received by our residents in this province. If the Minister of Finance believed so strongly then about the funding of full-time positions, why is he content on

[Page 243]

bringing forward a commitment that states that his government is willing to fund full-time positions or equivalents? Whatever equivalents may be.

There were other nursing initiatives promised by this government that were not contained in the Throne Speech, Mr. Speaker. This government promised during the election campaign that they would immediately fund additional training seats for nurses, and training seats were not included in the Throne Speech the other day. I looked clearly for that one. The failure to provide additional training seats, coupled with the backtracking of the commitment to fund full-time positions, and instead to fund full-time or equivalents, shows this government's lack of commitment to the nursing profession in Nova Scotia and to the people of Nova Scotia. We will not allow them to check off their election promise, as having been done, with this type of hollowness.

Mr. Speaker, our Party and our government made it perfectly clear we were committing - and it was not as many as the nursing profession wanted - the funding within the budget, not within the Health Investment Fund but within the budget, to 200 full-time nurses and we were going to upgrade 200 more positions from casual to full time. In addition in the Health Investment Fund we had training seats, which I do not see from this government.

In closing, Mr. Speaker, I would like to say I am certain that all nurses will be watching very carefully tomorrow when the budget comes down so that they, in fact all Nova Scotians, can finally ascertain what this government means by funding equivalents for nursing, and also to look at their commitment to the nursing profession, recognizing our nurses as the backbone of our health care system. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Health.

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I am delighted to rise from my seat to continue debate on Resolution No. 20 considering our government's commitment to fund full-time nursing positions.

First and foremost I would like to say that I welcome the selection of this resolution because it does give me the opportunity to reiterate and to reinforce the government's position on addressing the shortage of nurses in this province. Mr. Speaker, I am sure it will not surprise anybody when I say that Canada's nursing workforce is ageing; furthermore the number of nurses is declining right across the country and more and more nurses have been working part time.

Our government does welcome the opportunity to find and implement a Nova Scotia solution to what is, and has been for a little while, a national challenge. I want to assure the members of this House that we are committed to making sure that this province does have enough nurses. We are committed to ensure that the nurses of this province, whom the honourable member spoke of, have their concerns addressed.

[Page 244]

Mr. Speaker, we are committed to work together with the nurses themselves as part of our promise to undertake a comprehensive review of all Nova Scotian hospitals and homes for special care to identify the need for additional nursing staff and to provide the necessary resources to fill that need. We need and we want input from the nurses. The nursing unions, the Registered Nurses Association of Nova Scotia, the Nova Scotia Medical Society, and the Association of Licensed Practical Nurses will all be consulted as we implement our solution, and as part of our overall approach. The need to be involved and to participate in decisions is something that we believe in. Addressing the nursing shortage is essential if we are to successfully build a responsive outcome and efficient health care system. This is our most urgent priority and nurses are an integral part of this.

Mr. Speaker, we must deal with the issue of a nursing profession that is ageing and also the issue that not enough young nurses are entering the profession. We must also deal with the trend towards employing nurses on a casual rather than a full-time basis. How will we accomplish this? I can assure you that our government continues to treat the nursing issue as a very high priority.

In fact, Mr. Speaker, early last month, just a few weeks after assuming office, our government announced that it will be hiring a nursing policy advisor. The new position was advertised and we hope to have it filled by the end of this month. That successful applicant fulfils a commitment made by this government to address the province's critical nursing shortage. Working closely with the deputy minister, the advisor will provide advice to the Department of Health on the nursing side of health policy, issues and all programs and policy issues relating to or affecting nurses. The advisor will also be responsible for working with members of the nursing community to develop effective strategies to retrain and recruit nurses.

Resolution No. 20, Mr. Speaker, asks for an indication as to whether it is the government's intention to fund full-time nursing positions as originally promised. The answer is yes and, indeed, I reported yesterday that there have been 130 full-time nursing positions filled since this government took office two short months ago. I am proud of that.

Now, I do recognize that one of the reasons that that happened and with all respect we recognize that a number of those positions were casuals turned into full-time positions and the reason that was able to happen - and I think the other two Parties, Mr. Speaker, have to accept some responsibility, or maybe I should say share some of the glory for this - is because all three Parties in that last election all acknowledged that there was a shortage of nurses in the province and all three Parties agreed, including the former government, that we had to take steps to address the issue of a nursing shortage and also the trend toward casualization. I think, based on the assurance no matter which Party assumed government at the end of July, then there was going to be a concentrated effort by the Minister of Health and his colleagues to address this issue. So, as a consequence, at least two boards in this province went ahead and there were 130 of these full-time positions created.

[Page 245]

The honourable member for Dartmouth East raised the question yesterday about equivalents and the equivalents, Mr. Speaker, are defined basically this way. I would look at it from a two-sided perspective: one is equivalents would be turning a full-time casual position into a full-time position and; secondly, is to enable people who wish to job share and, indeed, that is still the wish of a number of people in the nursing profession, to job share. So when we are talking about the equivalents or full-time positions, they are positions and it does not matter how you count them. You can either count them as full-time or whatever it is, but they are full-time positions and people will be treated as full-time employees as opposed to casual employees and that was part of that intention.

The previous speaker, Mr. Speaker, indicated that this government had done nothing to increase the number of people entering the nursing profession since assuming office. That simply is not correct. This fall the student enrolments at the province's two nursing schools, Dalhousie and St. F.X., were expanded by 75; 25 of these at Dalhousie, 25 at the St. F.X. Antigonish Campus, and 15 at a satellite St. F.X. Campus at the University College of Cape Breton.

I want to tell you, Mr. Speaker, that on the strength of this government's commitments two of the universities have taken the initiatives and, indeed, we have met that commitment to put new nursing positions in the province.

[5:15 p.m.]

I should also tell you that at the present time there is a task force at work. It was basically set up by the previous government on nursing education, which is to develop a nursing recruitment and retention policy or strategy for our government. Our government is waiting for that report.

Secondly, I should say that the people who made up that task force or who comprise it are representatives from the Registered Nurses Association. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. DAVID HENDSBEE: Mr. Speaker, at this time I would like to introduce a couple friends of mine in the gallery. Mrs. Dawn O'Hearn is also a member of the Halifax Regional School Board, and her husband, Kerry O'Hearn, a good friend of mine and a campaign worker. I would like to welcome them to the House. (Applause)

[Page 246]

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

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, I am certainly pleased to rise this afternoon to participate in this debate on Resolution No. 20, the operative clause of which is, "Therefore be it resolved that the Premier clearly indicate whether it is his government's intention to fund full-time nursing positions as originally promised.".

It is obvious that the intent of the resolution is to clarify what the government meant by the significant use of the word equivalent in the Speech from the Throne. I did notice that although this resolution comes forward from the former Minister of Health, it certainly doesn't mention the 600 nursing positions that the former minister and his government did away with during their tenure in government as they cut and slashed their way through the health care system. I want to tell you, those weren't equivalents, those were nurses. (Applause)

The word equivalent was duly noted, and I guess the question is, does it mean full-time equivalent? Sometimes that is an explanation that is given, and as was indicated by the Minister of Health a full-time equivalent can take a number of different forms including things like job-sharing, where you do have full-time equivalent positions that are nonetheless the true equivalent to a nursing position that is as full time.

I would like to point out what was said in the platform of the Progressive Conservative Party during the last election. I have it right here. Progressive Conservatives of Nova Scotia, "Strong Leadership", a clear curse. No, I guess that says course, "a clear course.". Perhaps they are one and the same thing. Who knows?

Mr. Speaker, it says, "John Hamm's Plan for Nova Scotia, Platform and Policies, Health Care.". During its first mandate, the PC Government will address the critical shortage of nurses by reversing the trend to casualization, to casualize the nursing profession by properly funding full-time nursing positions based on the result of the process noted above.

What they have talked about is ending the casualization and moving to truly full-time positions. This is something that certainly was one of the, I guess, expressed wishes and desires of nursing organizations. They certainly found the idea of casual positions to be unacceptable. It is true, however, and I would note that in the province we do need a pool of casual nurses in the province but we shouldn't be relying on those nurses to be substitutes for full-time positions.

Does the word equivalent mean some sort of professional equivalent? That is something that wasn't addressed by the Minister of Health. Does it mean, for example, that PCWs or other allied health professionals will be used to fill the positions that would normally be filled by nurses?

[Page 247]

I take it from what the minister is indicating, he is saying that that is not going to be the case either. Just so that people know, there are really two basic kinds of nurses practising in Nova Scotia - there are registered nurses who have either gone through one of the now defunct diploma schools, or have a Bachelor of Science Nursing Degree and Licensed Practical Nurses. Now nursing organizations suggest that we need a good mix of both LPNs and RNs. However, they worry that the government may try to change job descriptions so that non-RNs can be employed in RN positions; that is a fear.

There is also the fear that the government may try to save money by using other health professionals, like personal care workers, as I mentioned, in nursing positions. In fact, this has already happened in some institutions, as the Minister of Health may know. These non-nursing professionals should not be considered nursing equivalents.

Certainly we have to respect the education, the training and the skills that it takes to be an RN or an LPN and I don't think we should compromise either the health of Nova Scotians or the abilities of professionals by using the wrong professional in the wrong job.

Mr. Speaker, there are things we can do to address the nursing shortage. The first thing is to listen to what the profession is saying. I am sad to say that the ability of this government to even listen to what health professionals have to say is seriously put into question by their failure to listen to and to adopt and to not ignore what is contained in the Goldbloom report. I think it is truly unfortunate that given that taxpayers' money was spent on that report, called for the strengthening of the completion of the regionalization, they have chosen instead to ignore it. We have to invest in education for nurses. They have to stop employing casual nurses in full-time positions and there must be a comprehensive approach to health professionals. Health professionals work together increasingly as a team and recruitment efforts should reflect that.

Part of the problem with our health care system is that past governments have used a band-aid approach and have treated individual problems on a crisis basis, rather than looking at the big picture. The nursing shortage is a real crisis but we also need radiation therapists, family physicians and specialists, just to name a few, Mr. Speaker. I want to thank you for the opportunity to speak on this subject today. Thank you.

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

The motion is carried. (Applause)

The honourable Liberal House Leader.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Resolution No. 32.

[Page 248]

Res. No. 32, re Justice - Jail/Forensic Hosp.: Location - Indecision Expensive - notice given Oct. 8/99 - (Mr. M. Samson)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Richmond.

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, certainly it is my hope that my resolution will receive the same support as that just given to my colleague, the honourable member for Dartmouth East.

In the resolution it clearly points out the concerns Nova Scotians have had since this administration took power and they are adhering to their blatant political promise of moving the proposed new forensic and correctional facility from the Bedford site to another site, as they promised during the election and as the honourable Minister of Community Services promised during his campaign that this would be done.

Nova Scotians, from one end of the province to the other, are asking themselves how much is this political promise costing the taxpayers in a time when the Premier and his government are saying that they are going to tighten expenditures of this government and they are going to run a tight, efficient ship. We have to ask ourselves, to what extreme will this government go to to keep their blatant political promises?

During questioning with the Minister of Justice, Mr. Speaker, it was interesting and, in a number of his answers, he indicated how the site selection for Bedford was not done with any sort of consultation, that it was forced upon the people of Bedford and it took the good Tories to come to power to save the poor people of Bedford from having this decision forced down their throats.

I would like to go back and talk about what was the site selection process which short-listed Bedford. The fact is that this process started back in June 1998, over one year ago, when the Justice Department short-listed the sites to three sites, which included Bedford. When this was decided in 1998, the fact was that there was not a word from the Bedford community on this decision. The fact was that the Justice Department had to go out and ask the community to please give it input on this decision, for there was no reaction at all from the community. They called meetings. When they did call the meetings, there were more Justice officials at those meetings than residents from Bedford.

Meeting after meeting took place until, in September 1998, the government decided that it would go forward with the decision to locate in Bedford. So now one would think, listening to what the member for Bedford-Fall River has said and listening to what the Tory Government has said, we would expect, when this decision was made in September 1998, that we would have had these great big protests and that the people of Bedford would have clearly spoken out against this. Wrong again, Mr. Speaker. Nobody showed up at the meetings. Basically, the Justice Department had to go out in October when they saw that there was no

[Page 249]

interest and ask that a community liaison committee be formed so that they could get some sort of input from this community.

Only in April 1999, finally the word came out of Bedford that they were opposed to this site, 10 months after the initial decision. I have to ask myself, Mr. Speaker, considering how the Minister of Community Services was such a strong advocate against the site, where was he in September 1998 when this site was selected? Was he at the meetings to talk about the outrage of his residents and how this could not take place in these residential areas? Where was that minister at that time? Where was his leadership at that time? He wasn't to be seen. Only once when he saw that it was for his own political gain could he take part in this issue and all of a sudden the member, the former Mayor of Bedford, came out and spoke so strongly against the site.

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Justice holds that this consultation process was flawed and there wasn't the proper consultation. So they turned around and changed the site and said, okay, we are going to do it the right way. We are going to properly consult. We are going to look at Burnside and we are going to talk to the good people of Dartmouth North. So what did they do? They said, we are going to do it right. We are going to arrange three public meetings in two weeks. So the process that our government spent one and one-half years doing, and yet we somehow failed, according to the minister, they are going to solve in two weeks with three meetings. That is going to be proper public consultation, according to this Minister of Justice.

I think, Mr. Speaker, that Nova Scotians will judge, and the good people of Dartmouth North will judge what they think of this minister and this government's version of proper public consultation. If this government is going to be open and accountable, considering what the good people of Dartmouth North have said with their concerns on this site, that they would say that we are going to listen to the good people of Nova Scotia. Burnside is out. They have clearly spoken. We are going to listen. Do they do that? No. Yet, they criticized our government when the good Minister of Community Services spoke against the Bedford site that we didn't immediately pull it out. It was good enough for Bedford, it is not good enough for the good people of Dartmouth North. So, once again, the good people of Nova Scotia will decide what they think of the minister and his government's decisions.

[5:30 p.m.]

The other point I want to make and it is a statement that the minister made in one of his responses in that he said the reason we moved the Bedford site was because Nova Scotians gave us a clear mandate in the election that they wanted us to move the jail from Bedford. I would challenge the Minister of Justice to publicly go out and say that his 29 members got elected because the people in Nova Scotia wanted that Bedford site to be moved. I would like the member for Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury, or the member for

[Page 250]

Antigonish, or the good minister from Inverness to go back to their people and say you elected me to move the jail from Bedford.

Mr. Speaker, that is a farce. Nova Scotians know it is a farce. This was done as a blatant political decision and Nova Scotians will have the Tory legacy to pay for for years and years to come. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Justice.

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, it is hard to respond to my honourable colleague, the honourable member for Richmond. He was pontificating on the election results in a democracy. With all due respect to the member opposite, it was the people of Nova Scotia who rejected the former government at the election; that is clearly what happened and let us not forget that.

Now just again to re-examine history for a second. First of all, the public meetings that were held in Bedford by the former government took place after the decision had been made to site the facility in Bedford.

AN HON. MEMBER: What about Burnside?

MR. BAKER: Now the difference in Burnside, Mr. Speaker, with respect to the Burnside site, no decision has been made. We had an open consultation process and we had an opportunity to hear from people. The other issue that I want to make clear for the benefit of the honourable member is that there are many, many people in Dartmouth and elsewhere in the province - but particularly in Dartmouth - who think that the Burnside site is a wonderful site for a correctional facility.

Mr. Speaker, let's not forget that Burnside is an industrial park. Our commitment during the election, in the Blue Book, was very clear. We would not site this facility in a residential area. The area in question in Burnside is clearly zoned as a commercial area and not as a residential area. I should also point out to the member opposite that one of the difficult problems that we were faced with as a government, and one which a number of people were very concerned about, was the whole issue of whether this facility should be built with a P3 concept. Well, unfortunately the former government, facing an imminent defeat at the polls, raced off to sign a contract so that the facility would have to be constructed with a P3 concept.

So when we were elected by the people of Nova Scotia, we were faced with a very obvious situation. We could do the Liberal ploy which is to go there and get absolutely nothing. Remember the helicopters. I hope the people of Nova Scotia remember the helicopters, where the federal Liberal Government made an election promise and ended up spending hundreds of millions of dollars of taxpayers' money and getting absolutely nothing

[Page 251]

for the money. That is not the method we are looking at. What we are looking at is to continue with this contract and define a suitable site, Mr. Speaker. We are going to find a suitable site if at all possible for this facility, because the former government saddled the people of Nova Scotia with a contract, the breach of which would lead to very large damages and I think the honourable member should remember that it was the government in which he was a member that approved that particular transaction.

Mr. Speaker, I am not sure how much time I have left.

MR. SPEAKER: Three minutes.

MR. BAKER: I will be very brief because the honourable member for Sackville-Beaver Bank would like to speak on this issue.

I just want to indicate to the House that no decision has been taken, but a decision has to be made shortly because it is in the interests of Nova Scotia. The one issue that I do agree with the honourable member in the resolution is the fact that we are in dire need in this province of a correctional facility and a forensic hospital. Let's never forget that the one thing we do agree on is that we have to have adequate health care facilities for those who are mentally ill, not criminally responsible, and adequate facilities for those inmates who are sentenced to our custody. Those facilities have to be safe and they have to be modern; they have to protect the public. With that I would relinguish the remainder of my time to the honourable member for Sackville-Beaver Bank.

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

MR. BARRY BARNET: Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to speak on this resolution tonight. Certainly it is not my duty or job to give a lesson in geography in this House, but it should be noted that in the resolution it claims that the reason for this was to help elect the Minister of Community Services. In fact, the Jack Lake site is wholly within the riding of Sackville-Beaver Bank. In fact, one of the major problems that the people of that particular area, that particular portion of the riding that I represent, had was the roughshod way in which their municipal plan was overrun.

Mr. Speaker, the people of that community have taken great pleasure and steps to develop a municipal planning strategy, quite frankly, that they are proud of, that they worked hard to develop. It took them five years to develop that planning strategy and it included many uses, including residential and recreational. Those uses were going to be taken right away from those people.

Mr. Speaker, with respect to those who have come out in support of one side or another, there are people on both sides of this issue, clearly. It could be pointed out that the former Mayor of Dartmouth on many occasions has said that she agrees with the Dartmouth-

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Burnside location. This decision by this government had as much to do not with what was going in that facility but what they were going to lose in that particular area. There is no question that the people of this province need and deserve a forensic facility and something to replace the former Sackville Correctional Centre. There is no question about that.

The real issue here, Mr. Speaker, is what the people in that area of Bedford were going to lose. They were going to lose a valuable resource. They were going to lose areas where their community can grow and expand. So I commend this government for the decision that they made. We had 243, now we have 242. I think it is a great idea. I think it was well planned, well thought out, and certainly from my point of view the people that I represent and the people that I spoke to in that area, they certainly believed that that was the right thing to do. Thank you. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

MR. JERRY PYE: Mr. Speaker, I would like to remind the honourable member opposite that the former Mayor, Gloria McCluskey, ran against me in the 1998 election. Obviously, she did not have the touch or the feel of what the public opinion was at that particular time and I do not think she has the touch or the feel of what the public opinion is at this time so I would like to remind the member.

Also, Mr. Speaker, it is amazing that I have to stand here today in this Legislative Assembly to debate a resolution that is purely based on politics. One can certainly recognize that the honourable Minister of Justice, who has a law degree, who has obviously studied land use planning, who is obviously very much aware that outlying adjacent areas to communities and to towns and to cities are often zoned residential and often zoned holding. You have a number of members who are, in fact, municipal politicians. The fact of the matter is that Burnside happens to have been zoned industrial and business, but I also want to tell the honourable members opposite as well that one-half of the Dartmouth North constituency is zoned industrial, business, harbour-oriented and I can tell you that that is a large scope of that constituency. To add and to apply pressures on a community, when you look at community economic development and planning, is certainly something that has to be measured and has to be taken into consideration.

I can tell you, Mr. Speaker, that the Burnside Industrial Park represents 1,500 companies; that is 17,000 people employed. So, please do not tell me that Dartmouth, and particularly Dartmouth North, is not concerned about business and business development. We have certainly supported business and business development for a number of years. As a matter of fact, 8 of my 11 years in municipal government, I served on the Industrial Commission. I am partly responsible for the fact, I guess, that the Burnside jail, the jail and forensic hospital will now be located in Burnside because I supported the advance of business development into the beautiful area of Spectacle Lake and Frenchman Lake because that was designed for a business community, a business campus as a matter of fact.

[Page 253]

Mr. Speaker, I want to tell you that not only have we recognized that there is an important need for development, but you also have to remember that Dartmouth North is also the home of Nova Scotia Power and National Gypsum as well. Again, please don't imply to people of Dartmouth North that they are not business oriented and they are not interested in creating employment, because they certainly are.

I would also remind the honourable member opposite that, in fact, Dartmouth North accepted one of the components of waste management which is the composting facilities. We recognize a responsibility and a role in Dartmouth North to play for the development of all communities.

I want to also tell the Minister of Justice, on the very first night that they held a public meeting, they did it in such a swift manner that, in fact, about three days after we had realized it, they were in negotiations with the Halifax Regional Municipality on a Burnside site that three to five days later, there was a notification to the community that in fact there had been talk with the HRM about the siting of this facility. A week later, I believe, that, in fact, and I may be wrong on my time but about a week or a week and a half later there was a public meeting held, it was not a public consultation meeting, on the second floor of the Future Inn on Highfield Park Drive. The second floor didn't even have an elevator. People who were disabled or handicapped couldn't even make that particular meeting.

The second meeting was, in fact, at the Ramada Inn. If you wanted the residential community, then you needed to provide that consultation and that input, then you should have come closer to the residential community. That is the important thing.

This government has stated that it has been open to public consultation. It certainly didn't make any attempt to be open to public consultation in Dartmouth North on this particular matter. I also wanted to say to the Minister of Justice that I tabled in this House yesterday a petition with over 800 residents opposed to the jail and forensic hospital in Dartmouth North.

The Minister of Justice has not only made the statement today, but he made the statement yesterday to the news media that in fact a number of residents in Dartmouth support that site location. I would want to know if the minister is prepared to table his information, the same as I have tabled the petition to this Legislative Assembly, showing me what information he has to substantiate his position that the majority or a large number of Dartmouthians support that site location.

Mr. Speaker, I heard a question posed to the Minister of the Environment with respect to an environmental assessment being placed on a school in Richmond County. I know that the site located is in Burnside Industrial and Business Park, but I have not heard the minister indicate that there would be an environmental assessment placed on this particular site. Given the fact that it occupies 66 acres of land, now I would like to know if the minister is aware

[Page 254]

that there should, by the very nature of the size of this proposed development, require an environmental assessment.

The most important thing here . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order. The time has expired.

Is the House ready for the question?

A recorded vote is being called for.

Ring the bells. Call in the members.

[5:45 p.m.]

[The Division bells were rung.]

MR. SPEAKER: Are the Whips satisfied?

I will read the resolution.

"Therefore be it resolved that the Tory Government will do anything to serve its own interests at the expense of justice and at the expense of the Nova Scotia taxpayer."

[5:52 p.m.]

[The Clerk calls the roll.]

YEAS NAYS

Mr. MacLellan Mr. Chataway

Mr. Downe Mr. Christie

Mr. Manning MacDonald Mr. Baker

Mr. Holm Mr. Russell

Ms. Maureen MacDonald Dr. Hamm

Mr. Corbett Mr. Muir

Mr. Epstein Miss Purves

Mr. Estabrooks Mr. Fage

Mr. Dexter Mr. Balser

Mr. MacEwan Mr. Parent

Mr. Gaudet Ms. McGrath

Mr. MacKinnon Mr. Ronald Chisholm

Mr. Samson Mr. DeWolfe

[Page 255]

Mr. Boudreau Mr. MacIsaac

Mr. Wilson Mr. Dooks

Mr. Pye Mr. Langille

Mr. John MacDonnell Mr. Morse

Mr. Carey

Mrs. Baillie

Mr. Hendsbee

Mr. Morash

Mr. Chipman

Mr. Barnet

Mr. O'Donnell

Mr. Hurlburt

THE CLERK: Those in support of the motion, 17; Those opposed, 25.

MR. SPEAKER: The resolution is defeated. (Applause)

The honourable Liberal House Leader.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, this completes a very productive Opposition Day. Thank you very much.

MR. SPEAKER: If I may, Government House Leader, I have a request for an introduction from the member for Kings North.

The honourable member for Kings North.

MR. MARK PARENT: Thank you. I would like to welcome to the gallery Mrs. Irene Swindells and her husband, Harold. We are delighted to have them with us. Irene has been a good friend to me, personally, and we are very happy to have them with us. (Applause.)

MR. SPEAKER: There is one other introduction.

The honourable member for Richmond.

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, I would ask the members to look in the east gallery where we are joined today by Mr. Edgar Samson, who is the owner of Premium Seafoods, which is a very successful fish buying and selling business based on Isle Madame in Richmond County, and a good friend. I would like the members to welcome him here to the House today. (Applause.)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Health.

[Page 256]

HON. JAMES MUIR: On an introduction. A friend of the House from Dartmouth, Gail Avery. Welcome, Gail, and would the members please welcome her appropriately. (Applause).

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I move the House do now rise to meet again tomorrow at the hour of 2:00 p.m. We will sit until 6:00 p.m., and the order of business tomorrow will be the introduction of the budget. Following that, one of the Finance Critics from the Opposition side will be responding and then we will go into the daily routine, followed by Question Period. If there is any time remaining we will have resumption of debate on the Address in Reply to the Speech from the Throne.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Liberal House Leader.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I move that at the hour of two o'clock we move immediately into the budget.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is to adjourn. Would all those in favourof the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

MR. SPEAKER: We have reached the moment of interruption and the resolution provided by the member for Shelburne is:

"Therefore be it resolved that this House commend the community of Shelburne in the work achieved to date on realizing a new link with our neighbours to the south - a link which would create a huge opportunity for Shelburne and Nova Scotia's tourism potential.".

ADJOURNMENT

MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Shelburne.

TOURISM - SHELBURNE: U.S. LINK - PROGRESS COMMEND

MR. CECIL O'DONNELL: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise tonight on the motion for adjournment and, due to the luck of the draw, once again I am given the opportunity to do something near and dear to my heart, and that is to discuss the dynamic opportunity now within arm's reach of Shelburne County.

[Page 257]

Last week when I rose to reply to the Throne Speech, I brought before the House the issue of the Shelburne to Gloucester ferry. The realization of a high speed ferry route between the two communities, of the two countries, has been a dream of the communities for decades.

[6:00 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, to actually be this close to seeing the service in place is something for which thanks must chiefly go to Shelburne Mayor, P.G. Comeau, as well as to those within the community who have worked and who are working to see that not only does the ferry come to the area, but that the area is ready to accommodate the tourism influx the service will carry to Shelburne County and beyond.

Mr. Speaker, in July, the mayor and representatives from Massachusetts said they were aiming for the spring of 2000 as a start-up date. At that time, they also were tendering an independent study, a study to give potential investors a realistic picture of the ferry service's potential and ensure that their homework was done in all aspects of the service. The community is awaiting the results of that study.

Mr. Speaker, at the time of the July announcement, details included the group had narrowed the scope of the type of the boat that is being looked for. The vessel of choice was a mono-hulled, high-speed ferry that would take seven to eight hours to make the crossing. The senator of Massachusetts, who also addressed the community, said, if chosen, this would be the only one of its kind in the world. It was indicated that no other high-speed ferry has a run this long and that it would be on the cutting edge of technology. This is exciting news for our community.

As I stated in my reply to the Throne Speech, the beauty of Shelburne and, indeed, all Nova Scotia, is no secret to those of us who travel back and forth, and throughout our towns, villages and cities. To provide an additional transportation link to a Nova Scotian community from our neighbour to the south provides one more route to draw tourists to the province. Our communities have stated publicly, their intentions to be prepared to not only receive the tourists the ferry will bring to the area, but also hope to have them stay as long as possible.

Mr. Speaker, the Mayor of Lockeport, Sara Huskilson, says her town has already begun the development to handle the influx of tourists that the new route would bring. The business community, with direction from the local Chamber of Commerce is already working to capitalize on the business partnership that could grow as a result of the ferry to Gloucester. The potential that this provides our community is tremendous.

Mr. Speaker, as members opposite pointed out this afternoon, the importance of having direction from our communities on economic development projects is key to their success. There is no doubt that this is a perfect example of a tourism project with huge potential for the entire province, which has been driven primarily by the community of Shelburne.

[Page 258]

Mr. Speaker, one of our government's goals is to see the tourism industry hit the $1.5 billion mark. To do our part, our government has created a separate Department of Tourism to ensure that the attention required to reach that goal is given. Shelburne is also doing its part in helping to achieve that goal.

Mr. Speaker, we have found a niche for our community, stretching its resources and its people beyond that already bountiful potential, when Shelburne found a place in the film industry, starting with the Hollywood movie, The Scarlet Letter, and attracting Hollywood's finest to our fine community. Not only are we looking to build on that success, we will now have an even greater reason for businesses from the U.S. to knock on our door, the ferry connection.

Mr. Speaker, we tend to concentrate on our connections by road, something which will also need to be addressed if more tourists do enter this province from a new connector point. But by opening a new route by sea, we open all sorts of opportunity for our traditional industries, our people and our tourism. I look forward to bringing to the floor of the Legislature, further developments on this issue and take this opportunity to commend the community of Shelburne for taking an idea which has surfaced from time to time over the years but which has finally gathered enough steam to be close to becoming a major transportation and tourism route for the Province of Nova Scotia. Again, since it is something that members from all sides have noted, an idea which germinates and which is driven from the grass-roots level of the community is often the one with the best potential. Thank you.

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

MR. PAUL MACEWAN: Mr. Speaker, I would like to address this as Transportation Critic for the Liberal Opposition Party. (Interruption) Indeed I am, among other things.

Mr. Speaker, there is a proposal to have a ferry between Shelburne and Gloucester and this ferry, unlike the Yarmouth to Bar Harbor ferry would be able to handle transport trucks. I certainly would like to express support for the concept. I would not want to see anything happen that would jeopardize existing ferry connections between Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and the United States, but providing this would not duplicate or jeopardize other existing operations, I certainly would give it my full support. I know that this proposal had a vigorous supporter in the former MLA for Shelburne, Mr. Clifford Huskilson. Mr. Huskilson was a strong advocate and had raised this matter with the federal Transport Minister, the Honourable David Collenette.

I would say that in terms of support for this proposal we would certainly in this group be prepared to support initiatives that would help to make this a reality. Mr. Speaker, that is really all I wanted to say. I know my friend, the member for Timberlea-Prospect, is chomping at the bit to get up and get his teeth into this matter, too. I wouldn't want to exploit this opportunity to turn it into a full-fledged filibuster, but I would say that certainly I was very

[Page 259]

much aware of the work that Mr. Huskilson, the former member for Shelburne, did on this subject and that he saw the advantages for the South Shore with a ferry proposal and hoped that it could be twinned with the development of Highway No. 103 to the national highway system so as to qualify it for federal cost-shared dollars. These were among the projects that Mr. Huskilson worked on so diligently.

Were I to exploit matters, sir, which I would never do, I might get into a claim that was published at election time saying that the truth is obvious to all of Shelburne County citizens that 25 years of Huskilson rule has brought very little economic development to our area. I don't believe that to be the case, Mr. Speaker. I think the advance work that was done by Mr. Huskilson on this subject is the reason why we are discussing it here today. I know that Mr. Huskilson was instrumental in waterfront development and improvements throughout Shelburne County: certainly tourism received improvements; the Shelburne Sound Stage; the Barrington Elementary School; even the new high school for Shelburne that is now on hold, thanks to the present government.

AN HON. MEMBER: Don't overdo it.

MR. MACEWAN: I don't want to overdo it. My honourable friend says, quit while you are ahead. I think that is sufficient to say on this subject. We would support the proposal and I commend the honourable member for having introduced his particular resolution here in the House this afternoon. I thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect.

MR. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: I, too, would like to congratulate Shelburne, adjoining communities in the county of that particular area of Nova Scotia on their initiative. I, too, would like to point out that I have had the opportunity, in a previous session, to work with the previous member for Shelburne. Clifford Huskilson, it was said by the member for Cape Breton Nova, was a continuing spokesman for this project. As a Transportation Minister on many occasions, I had opportunities where I fulfilled my role as critic but I can tell you that Cliff Huskilson tipped this project and he drove it. He would not, under any circumstances, allow it to be shuffled bureaucratically from one department to another.

I want to point out, however, that the key thing that the current member for Shelburne said is, listening to the community. The tourism dollar is an important part of the economy of this province, Mr. Speaker, and I know that you know that from the area you come from, the area that we all come from, but those areas of the province that are fortunate enough to have coastline, that are in close proximity to a major market such as the United States, must constantly take advantage of every chance to market our wonderful province and also in return to make sure that there is a flow of goods to and from in the best and most efficient way possible. The Yarmouth Ferry is an example of initiative and how the Cat has added to that community.

[Page 260]

However, I would like to point out there is another project that I would hope that the Minister of Tourism, since he should be aware of this case and because of the situation of my wife's home on Prince Edward Island, that there is also another need for a real good look at a study between Port Hood and Prince Edward Island. That particular project, Mr. Speaker, will succeed if the MLA locally does his or her job, that puts it on the public record, that goes after the appropriate authorities - federal, provincial - that makes sure that the municipal politicians, the provincial politicians and the feds are all singing the same tune and then the will of the people will be listened to. The Port Hood - and I believe it was - Georgetown that is the Prince Edward Island destination, would be an absolute bona fide tremendous success. However, at times it does take the persistence of members and ministers, such as Cliff Huskilson and the current member here, to keep that on the front burner.

For example, I would like to talk about the Lighthouse Route. Some members present perhaps do not know the location of such places as Prospect Village, White's Lake, Blind Bay or Porcupine Hill. Those destinations are places along the tourist route that are neglected because of the lack of promotion by previous tourism brochures put out by previous governments and perhaps this government unless the new Minister of Tourism takes a leadership role in promoting destinations through tourist connections and transportation connections to parts of this province, Mr. Speaker, that get forgotten. Surely, not all tourists come to this wonderful province to use the casino. I know that for a fact.

Instead, tourists will come to different parts of our province, your wonderful Springhill, and the Anne Murray Museum; to Port Hood; to Pictou; to such places as Terence Bay; other places that get forgotten, if the government at all three levels that I have mentioned, Mr. Speaker, are willing to work together to coordinate a transportation system that will allow for those people to come to our province and I suppose in turn for some of those good Boston Bruins fans to get down to Massachusetts on a quick trip. In fact, I have been told that the honourable member for Preston has invited me on one of these trips as soon as the ferry from Shelburne is available, that the Boston Bruins will receive a visit, completely apolitical, that we would be willing to make sure that that ferry operates and gets to Gloucester in a good efficient manner. We might even take in a Red Sox game.

Mr. Speaker, I believe that tourism at times neglects certain parts of our province and it is neglected, and to this government's credit, I am pleased to see that they have now a separate Ministry of Tourism, but the Minister of Tourism has to take the lead in these issues. He cannot be relying upon the member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley to feed him the occasional word on the Gloucester ferry or the Port Hood connection. What, in turn, is the new Minister of Tourism should be making sure that he is consulting with us and other levels of government so that we can promote the entire Province of Nova Scotia, and not just metro Halifax or not just such highlights as Peggy's Cove.

[Page 261]

[6:15 p.m.]

My adjoining neighbour, incidentally, from Chester-St. Margaret's, is present. I want to assure him that we will continue to work on Route 233 to make sure that that route is up to speed in more ways than one, one of the most heavily used tourist routes in this province. Yet we continually have to push the Department of Transportation and Public Works to make sure that that is a priority riding, that is an area that has not received the attention it should. The plan was for Route 233, that it would be, if I remember correctly from the previous Minister of Transportation and Public Works, that over three seasons it would be completely paved, from Peggy's Cove, that much-promoted destination along the way, and I am sure the honourable member for Chester-St. Margaret's would agree, there are some absolutely wonderful places to visit, but do they receive the promotion? Do they receive the attention needed to make sure that people stop and don't just drive through those destinations?

So the people in Shelburne are to be congratulated and the political people involved are to be congratulated. I hope that the current member will work with those municipal officials to make sure that people don't just drive through Shelburne, that they stop and go to those bed and breakfasts, that they make sure there are all kinds of things they are going to be given on that ferry ride so that they know when they are coming in from the United States, that there are plenty of things to see on the South Shore of Nova Scotia, along the Lighthouse Route and not to just jump onto Highway No. 103 and get to Halifax. As we well know, the people who live in other parts of this province, it is great to come to metro and metro has some things to offer the tourists. However, there are many areas, and I am sure the members present could point out areas that would be a great place to stop and take a picture, to savour the moment that you have been in rural Nova Scotia.

So I congratulate the current member on his resolution. I look forward to his continued support of this initiative locally in Shelburne and I encourage the Minister of Tourism and Culture to follow-up to make sure that all areas of this province are correctly promoted. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you to the members who took part in this lively debate tonight.

The House now stands adjourned until 2:00 p.m. tomorrow.

[The House rose at 6:17 p.m.]