Assemblée Législative de la Nouvelle-Écosse

Les travaux de la Chambre ont repris le
21 septembre 2017

Hansard -- Thur., May 31, 2001

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HALIFAX, THURSDAY, MAY 31, 2001

Fifty-eighth General Assembly

Second Session

12:00 Noon

SPEAKER

Hon. Murray Scott

DEPUTY SPEAKERS

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

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

Therefore be it resolved that if this government won't give consumers a break at the gas pumps, it give them a break on the roads by committing the increased tax revenue from gasoline sales to roadwork throughout Nova Scotia.

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

If I could draw the attention of the members to the Speaker's Gallery, I would like to make an introduction. I know this gentleman is well known by many but I am sure some of the new members may not have had the opportunity to meet Mr. Donahoe. Arthur Donahoe, who was a member of this Legislature for I believe around 14 years, 10 of which were as Speaker. Art, as well, as everyone knows, left Nova Scotia to become the Secretary General of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, of which we are a branch. Art has been finishing up his ninth year as Secretary General and will be retiring at the end of this year. He is home now looking for a new home - not a job, I don't think - he is looking for a home. Arthur will be moving back to Nova Scotia at the end of this year. I know that all members of this House would want Arthur to rise and receive a warm welcome, as a previous member and another future Nova Scotian coming to Nova Scotia. (Standing Ovation)

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Welcome, Arthur, and we look forward to your move back to Nova Scotia.

We will begin the daily routine.

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Richmond.

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition on behalf of the Communications, Energy & Paperworkers Union of Canada, Syndicat canadien des communications, de l'énergie et du papier. It is to my attention. The subject is, "No Doctor at Strait Richmond Hospital". The petition reads:

"Dear Michel;

CEP Local 972 is the union that represents the workers at StoraEnso Port Hawkesbury. We are one of the larger in a number of industries in the Strait Area to be depended on medical attention at the Strait Richmond Hospital. The Strait Richmond Hospital is a fine facility, but due to the fact it has no doctor on staff it puts our members and the community as a whole at a unacceptable risk.

StoraEnso has had some serious accidents in the past and hopefully not in the future, but if it does happen, we have a grave concern about the ability to handle such situations without having a full time doctor on staff. We are a 24hr., 7 day a week operation and would like to see doctor coverage at Strait Richmond Hospital the same."

This is signed, Mr. Speaker, by Mr. Tom McNamara on behalf of all the workers at StoraEnso, he being the Recording Secretary of CEP Local 972. I have affixed my signature to this petition.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister responsible for the administration of the Youth Secretariat Act.

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HON. RODNEY MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, it is with great enthusiasm that I share with the House that earlier today I officially launched the Nova Scotia Youth Secretariat's new Web site for young Nova Scotians at Prince Andrew High School. The site focuses on issues such as employment, education, career development and youth participation. The site allows youth to easily access the information they need to make informed career, life and economic decisions. The Youth Secretariat aims to minimize the challenges that young people face in their transition to adulthood.

Youth are key to the economic growth of our province. By familiarizing them with labour market demands, skill and educational requirements and work experience, we are better preparing them for successful careers in Nova Scotia. In turn, this will strengthen our workforce and improve future prosperity for our province.

Our government made a commitment to establish an interactive Web site to keep young Nova Scotians apprised to the latest training and employment opportunities. This new Web site fulfills this role and more. The site provides youth with information on alternative ways to fund their education, it explains the various education options. It offers links to provincial employment programs and provincial national job sites and it provides access to information on career planning and job search strategies. Overall, this site provides youth with the information they need to plan for their future.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge the Department of Economic Development's commitment to improving the labour market success of our youth in our province. The Department of Economic Development has provided the Youth Secretariat with funds and supports efforts in the area of youth employment. In the fiscal year 2000-01, these funds were invested towards the development of the Web site.

In conclusion, I would ask the House to join me in recognizing the importance of providing youth with easy access to information that can assist them in making sound decisions. By enabling our young people to make well-informed decisions about their lives, we encourage them to thrive in this province. Mr. Speaker, I would personally like to congratulate staff of the Youth Secretariat, the Youth Advisory Council and all of those involved with the development of this site and for the future. Thank you.

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

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, I see that the government benches enthusiastically endorse that ministerial statement. Obviously any time a Web page can be created that gives youth an opportunity to better access information, it is good news. But I think what we really need to talk about here, in the couple of minutes that I have in response, is what the secretariat really should be doing. It shouldn't just be about Web pages, propaganda and photo ops maybe once a year. The job of the minister in charge of the Youth Secretariat should be to advise this government on behalf of youth. He has a Youth Advisory

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Council who should be giving him advice from youth, telling this government tuition fee increases at community colleges and universities are truly what is stifling our ability to compete in a global economy. That is what is preventing us from getting the jobs that we need to be able to stay in Nova Scotia.

We don't necessarily need a Web page to help them find jobs in Ontario or Alberta or California or Singapore. We need real opportunities in Nova Scotia for our youth, whether it be in the offshore, whether it be in the IT sector or whether it be in more traditional sectors. It is the job of the minister in charge of the Youth Secretariat to do that and that is not what we are seeing. We never hear from the Youth Secretariat, we never hear what they really want to do or what they are doing on behalf of youth in this province, except once a year they may roll out a piece of propaganda legitimating the secretariat's job.

I would hope the minister and his staff and the Youth Advisory Council would take the opportunity to truly advocate on behalf of youth in this province and speak on their behalf to the rest of the Cabinet and say, we need to do something differently here because the youth of our province, their youth is being squandered, their educational opportunities are being squandered and we have to change. That government has to change the way they are treating the youth of this province. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Richmond.

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the minister and his staff for providing us with an advance copy of this statement. Certainly having been the former minister responsible for the Youth Secretariat, I want to welcome the launch of the Youth Secretariat's new Web site. Certainly, I agree it is an important step for the government to interact directly with the youth of this province, especially using a means such as the Web which is readily accessible to Nova Scotia youth from one end of this province to the next.

[12:15 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, however, there are certainly a number of concerns which come with this. For the information of the Minister responsible for the administration of the Youth Secretariat Act, last month youth unemployment in the Province of Nova Scotia hit 21 per cent, a 3 per cent increase from the previous month, and unacceptable level. A few dollars from the Department of Economic Development to launch a Web site is not going to help get that number down. A Web site itself is going to do little to keep the best and brightest here in Nova Scotia. The Department of Economic Development and the youth minister are only paying lip service to youth unemployment issues in this province.

If the minister wants to increase opportunities, his government should tell all companies that they must process their gas here in Nova Scotia. The Health Minister should pay nurses what they are worth, rather than forcing them to leave the province for better

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opportunities. Doctors should be encouraged to stay in the province by the Health Department that is willing to pay them enough, instead of forcing municipal units to do so. If the minister wants to do something, he could implement new media and cultural tax measures so that new media companies are not leaving the province, like they are now. Think about it. (Interruptions)

Mr. Speaker, young people work in new media and cultural ministries and the minister does absolutely nothing to support it. If the government is concerned about youth unemployment, the Economic Development Minister would do something to stimulate the economy, instead of overseeing the destruction of his department. Most of all, this government could help youth employment by helping to grow the economy of rural Nova Scotia. Maybe the minister could explain what his intentions are for keeping young people in Inverness, instead of allowing the best and brightest of rural Nova Scotia to move to Halifax or even to move out West.

Mr. Speaker, again, it may be an informative Web site, but in the end the government has abandoned the youth of the province. That minister should be ashamed of his government's inaction. (Applause)

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Premier.

RESOLUTION NO. 1522

HON. JOHN HAMM (The Premier): Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas the credit union movement has deep roots in the Province of Nova Scotia; and

Whereas there are 45 credit unions serving the people of this province; and

Whereas as of April 30th, the assets of Nova Scotia credit unions exceeded $1 billion;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House acknowledge the contributions of the credit union movement to the Province of Nova Scotia and the service to its people.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

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It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Education.

RESOLUTION NO. 1523

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

Whereas the Canadian National Site Licensing Project, comprising of all 64 Canadian research libraries, has completed an experiment to license all national journals of science, health, engineering and the environment; and

Whereas, for the first time, libraries, by banding together, have been able to negotiate prices and conditions of access with scientific publishers, therefore allowing our universities and colleges greater access to this material; and

Whereas the Nova Scotia Agricultural College, because of its focus on the sciences, will be among the institutions benefiting from this arrangement because rising costs and the declining value of the dollar had seriously reduced its access to scientific journals;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate those involved in this initiative to allow our libraries greater access to important scientific journals.

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 Environment and Labour.

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RESOLUTION NO. 1524

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

Whereas on Sunday, June 3rd, members of the Fire and Emergency Services will hold a memorial service in Halifax for those who have died in the line of duty; and

Whereas members of the Fire and Emergency Services across Nova Scotia bravely put themselves in danger in order to protect their friends, neighbours and communities; and

Whereas these men and women are true heros;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House salute the selfless service of members of the province's Fire and Emergency Service and join them in paying tribute to those who have perished in the line of duty.

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 Health.

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, prior to reading my resolution, with your permission I would like to make an introduction.

MR. SPEAKER: Yes.

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, May is Hearing and Speech Month in Nova Scotia, and this morning we, at the Department of Health, together with the the Queen Elizabeth II Health Sciences Centre, the IWK Health Centre and the Nova Scotia Hearing and Speech Centres were very pleased to announced that Nova Scotians who need cochlear implant surgery will now be able to receive that treatment here in Nova Scotia. The procedure will be here starting in July. (Applause)

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Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to introduce to the House today some people who know first-hand what this particular procedure is going to mean to the lives of the profoundly deaf. I would call the attention of the House, in the east gallery, to Lynn Fraser, who is the Chief Executive Officer of the Nova Scotia Hearing and Speech Clinic, and then some very special people, Rob Fraser and his wife, Janet. Rob is a member of the Parents' Association for the Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing, but in particular I want to introduce the House to a young man up there, five year old Nolan, who received his surgery just over two years ago and just a couple of comments about Nolan.

Mr. Speaker, I had the opportunity to talk to the parents prior to coming into the House and two years ago he was categorized as profoundly deaf, which means that he couldn't hear at all. Next fall, with the help of that device, he is going to be able to go to school in a regular stream without an interpreter and that I think that is just tremendous. (Standing Ovation)

We have already given them a welcome, but thank you for coming.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Health.

RESOLUTION NO. 1525

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

Whereas May is Hearing and Speech Month in Nova Scotia; and

Whereas this government, in partnership with the QE II Health Sciences Centre, the IWK Health Centre and the Nova Scotia Hearing and Speech Centres announced today that Nova Scotians requiring cochlear implant surgery will be able to receive it here in Nova Scotia, starting this July; and

Whereas this surgery can be of great benefit to a person who is profoundly deaf and to their families;

Therefore be it resolved that this House offer sincere congratulations to the people at the QE II Health Sciences Centre, the IWK Health Centre and the Nova Scotia Hearing and Speech Clinic, who worked so hard to make today's announcement possible.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

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It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Community Services.

RESOLUTION NO. 1526

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

Whereas Brenda Spears has worked for the Department of Community Services for the past 26 years; and

Whereas Ms. Spears started her career at the Dartmouth Children's Training Centre, which was a facility for severely mentally challenged children, then to the In Home Support Program in 1980 as the first worker to provide support for families with children with special needs in their homes; and

Whereas after 26 years of service to the people of Nova Scotia, Brenda Spears is retiring from social work;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House extend their thanks to Brenda Spears for her commitment over the years to social work; her retirement will mean a huge loss to the department, her colleagues and, most importantly, the families she has served.

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 Education.

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RESOLUTION NO. 1527

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

Whereas seven Nova Scotia Agricultural College students have been awarded post-graduate scholarships from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, three at the masters level and four at the doctoral level; and

Whereas these scholarships mean these students are among the best science and engineering students in Canada; and

Whereas Dr. Bruce Gray, NSAC Vice-Principal, Academic, says those scholarship winners who carry out their research at the Agricultural College contribute greatly to the success of the college's research program and several of these winners will remain at the Agricultural College;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate Terra Jamieson, Janet Rafuse, Erin Smith, Ekaterina Jeliazkov, Sarah Kimmins, Carolyn Parsons and Nathan Boyd for winning these prestigious and significant scholarships and wish them well in their future endeavours.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Community Services.

RESOLUTION NO. 1528

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

Whereas Ian MacLean first joined the Department of Community Services in May 1966 as a Juvenile Probation Officer; and

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Whereas since 1966, Mr. MacLean has worked with Nova Scotia's mentally challenged youth and once left Nova Scotia in 1980 to hold the post of executive director of the Prince Edward Island Association for Community Living before moving back to Nova Scotia in 1990 to become the executive director of the Mental Health Planning Board, then the administrator of social assistance for the City of Halifax and finally the Senior District Manager for Halifax in the Central Region as part of the municipal take over; and

Whereas after more than 35 years of work in the social work community, Mr. MacLean is retiring;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House extend their appreciation to Mr. Ian MacLean for all his hard work and dedication during his years of social work and wish him a happy retirement.

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.

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

Bill No. 66 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 179 of the Revised Statutes of 1989. The Forests Act. (Mr. John MacDonell.)

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

NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: I know it is a little bit unusual, but just before we begin, the Minister of Health didn't do the resolution on cochlear implants as a ministerial statement. I wish he had. Before I begin my notice of motion, I would just like to congratulate the minister for that announcement. It is the right thing to do and I believe it is important that we congratulate the government when they do the right thing. (Applause)

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MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition on a notice of motion.

RESOLUTION NO. 1529

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

Whereas today is World No Tobacco Day with the theme, Second-hand smoke kills, Let's clear the air; and

Whereas the scientific community now agrees there is no safe level of exposure to second-hand smoke; and

Whereas for children the situation is particularly disturbing as involuntary exposure to tobacco smoke has been identified as a cause of respiratory disease, middle ear disease, asthma attacks and sudden infant death syndrome;

Therefore be it resolved that this House join the World Health Organization in recognizing World No Tobacco Day and urge this government to take tobacco companies to task for the health consequences of the use of their product and in particular, take stringent measures to eliminate exposure of our children to second-hand smoke.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

RESOLUTION NO. 1530

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

Whereas nurses are a valued member of our health care team; and

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Whereas for nurses to realize their full potential and use of their skills and knowledge, they require full government support; and

Whereas nursing is at a crucial crossroads in Nova Scotia that requires government support in many crucial areas;

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize and honour the contribution of nurses to our health care system and government respond to their special needs to indicate they value our nursing profession.

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-Cobequid.

RESOLUTION NO. 1531

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

Whereas the Lieutenant Governor's Medal is presented to Grade 11 students who possess qualities of leadership, service to the community and a commendable academic performance; and

Whereas students from the Halifax Regional School Board were honoured at a ceremony on May 30, 2001; and

Whereas Sarah Quinlivan-Hall and David Chui were chosen by the principal and staff of Sackville High School to receive this prestigious award;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate Sarah Quinlivan-Hall and David Chui on being chosen by the principal and staff of Sackville High School to receive the Lieutenant Governor's Medal and wish them continued success next year in their senior year of high school.

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[12:30 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Leader of the Liberal Party.

RESOLUTION NO. 1532

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

Whereas today a flag was raised in honour of Child Awareness Days; and

Whereas the safety and health of our children should be what we are most aware of; and

Whereas this government chose yesterday not to help prevent head injuries to children when they did not allow Bill No. 59 to go forward;

Therefore be it resolved that this government move to rectify their omission of yesterday by quickly introducing legislation to prevent head injuries by promoting helmet use.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

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The honourable member for Pictou East.

RESOLUTION NO. 1533

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

Whereas Past Times Farm in Plymouth, owned and operated by Kathryn and Craig Fraser, recently hosted Pictou County's first ever Canadian Equestrian Federation registered horse show; and

Whereas attracting 28 competitors from across the Maritimes and with 16 riders from Pictou County participating, this show was a qualifying event for the North American Junior Dressage Championship this July in Ohio; and

Whereas because a competition of this quality takes great organization and a lot of work, the community and people from across Pictou County assisted to ensure this event success;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House congratulate the event supporters and Past Times Farm for bringing such quality dressage competition to Pictou County and wish all the riders success in their competitions throughout the season.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Leader of the Opposition on an introduction.

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, I would just like to introduce nurses who are in our gallery today from the Capital District Health Authority, represented by the NSGEU and I would ask that the House give them a warm welcome. (Applause)

AN HON. MEMBER: On both sides . . .

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MR. DEXTER: On both sides, are they? Surrounding it and appropriately so.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Lunenburg West.

RESOLUTION NO. 1534

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

Whereas May 31, 2001 has been declared World No Tobacco Day; and

Whereas the scientific community, supported by two decades of scientific evidence, agrees that there is no safe level of exposure to second-hand smoke; and

Whereas this government has an opportunity to invest additional tax revenue from cigarettes into smoking cessation programs that would help the smoker and non-smoker alike;

Therefore be it resolved that this government recognize World No Tobacco Day by immediately investing additional tax revenues into programs that would protect people from second-hand smoke instead of pumping those additional tax dollars into general revenue.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Dartmouth South.

RESOLUTION NO. 1535

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

Whereas between 400 and 500 people from across Canada are expected to participate in the Royal Canadian Air Force Airwomen's Reunion in Halifax; and

Whereas the reunion is scheduled to be held June 8th - June 10th; and

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Whereas this reunion will coincide with the 50th Anniversary of Peacetime Airwomen;

Therefore be it resolved that all MLAs extend our warmest welcome to those expecting to attend the RCAF Airwomen's Reunion, while acknowledging the hard work of organizers, Dot Kern, Marie Jones and Pat Rowan in preparing such a memorable weekend.

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 Halifax Needham.

RESOLUTION NO. 1536

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

Whereas on May 22nd, the annual Golden Apple Awards were presented by the Halifax Regional School Board to members of the community for outstanding community services to their schools; and

Whereas this award was given to Mark Pettigrew, a parent and devoted volunteer at St. Stephen's School, for his efforts arranging student use of computer labs and other facilities at the Nova Scotia Community College; and

Whereas Mr. Pettigrew also worked with the St. Stephen's School staff technology committee and was instrumental in helping the school receive a Grass Roots grant to support development of a school Web site;

Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia Legislature congratulate Mark Pettigrew on receipt of the Golden Apple Award and thank him for his commitment and dedication to education and to the community.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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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. 1537

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

Whereas debating is integral to our educational, communication and leadership programs in Nova Scotia, nationally and internationally; and

Whereas the Junior High National Debating Championships took place on May 19th to May 21st of this year in Halifax, Nova Scotia; and

Whereas Neesha Rao and Anna Aubut of Halifax defeated an equally talented team from Ontario in the final round of debating to become the Junior High National Debating Champions;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House congratulate Neesha Rao and Anna Aubut on their success and the organizers, other participants and judges for their contribution in this debating championship.

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.

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The honourable member for Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury.

RESOLUTION NO. 1538

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

Whereas Guysborough County actor/writer Carol Sinclair recently took a play she wrote and developed entitled Sabrina's Splendid Brain for a four day showing near Florence, Italy; and

Whereas in addition to her work with this play, Sinclair has an exceptionally busy summer already booked that will include appearances at the Atlantic Theatre Festival in Wolfville as well as the showing of Scotland PA in which Sinclair plays a role; and

Whereas despite now working out of Halifax, Sinclair will continue to make Guysborough County stand proud for her initial involvement in representing Guysborough on the founding board of the Nova Scotia Arts Council and her appearances at the Mulgrave Road Theatre;

Therefore be it resolved that MLAs in this House of Assembly congratulate Guysborough County native Carol Sinclair for her exceptional artistic talents and wish her continued great success in her many theatrical undertakings.

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. 1539

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

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Whereas "We will remember" as we pledge each November 11th the contribution that our veterans have made in our country's history; and

Whereas these veterans displayed untold valour on so many occasions; and

Whereas it will be 57 short years ago next Wednesday that on June 6, 1944, Canadian troops, along with our Allies, stormed to shore on the beaches of Normandy;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House offer their thanks to all these veterans and Legion members as we remember their heroism on D-Day, June 6, 1944 on the beaches of Normandy.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton East.

RESOLUTION NO. 1540

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

Whereas the Minister of Health is resigned to pitting one union of nurses against another; and

Whereas while that same minister (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. While we really appreciate the opportunity to have visitors in the gallery, I would ask the visitors not show their pleasure or displeasure with what is happening on the floor of the House, please.

The honourable member for Cape Breton East has the floor.

MR. WILSON: Mr. Speaker, would you mind if I started again?

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MR. SPEAKER: Please.

MR. WILSON: Whereas the Minister of Health is resigned to pitting one union of nurses against another; and

Whereas while that same minister is willing to bend what laws and rules are necessary to accommodate doctors, he has no interest in giving in the slightest on nurses; and

Whereas even as the best paid nurses in Atlantic Canada, Nova Scotia nurses will still be grossly underpaid on a continental standard;

Therefore be it resolved that this minister and his government get it together and truly support all nurses in Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

RESOLUTION NO. 1541

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

Whereas Parrsboro Regional High School has even more reason to be proud, with its two new provincial badminton titles; and

Whereas after four provincial competitions and a lot of time and effort, Travis Anderson and Tricia Boland captured the seniors' mixed doubles title at the Nova Scotia School Athletic Federation Badminton Championship; and

Whereas the first-time pair, Daniel Uttaro and Krista Quinn, were expected to spend the season just getting adjusted to one another, but to everyone's delight won the junior division title;

[Page 4346]

Therefore be it resolved that all members of the House congratulate these young people on their provincial badminton titles and give recognition to the Parrsboro Regional High School for its support.

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 Hants East.

RESOLUTION NO. 1542

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

Whereas providing recreation for young people is often easier said than done; and

Whereas executive positions on volunteer boards are vital to any serious recreation program; and

Whereas at the Municipality of East Hants Volunteer Awards Night, April 27, 2001, Mr. Joe Young of Lantz was honoured for holding many positions of authority on numerous volunteer boards in Lantz, and for unselfishly volunteering his time out in the field with kids;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly congratulate Mr. Young on his volunteer award from the Municipality of East Hants and for his invaluable contributions to the community of Lantz, which he has made a nicer place to live.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

[Page 4347]

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton The Lakes.

RESOLUTION NO. 1543

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

Whereas the Prince Mine Rescue Team recently captured the overall championship in a combined Nova Scotia/New Brunswick mine rescue operation; and

Whereas the competition took place this past weekend in Amherst; and

Whereas the team competed in a number of events, including firefighting, obstacle courses and emergency first aid;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House join with me in congratulating the Prince Mine Rescue Team in its victory at this past weekend's competition.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

RESOLUTION NO. 1544

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

Whereas Sharon Bell has been employed by the main branch Heritage Credit Union in Dartmouth, for over 23 years; and

[Page 4348]

Whereas Sharon Bell will be closing her career with Heritage Credit Union on June 22, 2001; and

Whereas Sharon will be sorely missed by her co-workers, members of the credit union and practically the entire population of Dartmouth, who have come to know her smiling face over the years;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate Sharon Bell for her invaluable years of service to the Heritage Credit Union and the people of Dartmouth, and wish her well in her retirement.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton West.

RESOLUTION NO. 1545

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

Whereas nine Tory MLAs from the Halifax Regional Municipality support the principle of using property tax dollars to pay for doctors' salaries; and

Whereas in today's media, the president of the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities adamantly opposed the principle of using property taxes to pay for physicians' salaries; and

Whereas the position taken by the nine metro Tory MLAs is contrary to the agreement between the province and the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities on the issue of roles and responsibilities, and possibly the Canada Health Services Act;

Therefore be it resolved that the nine Tory metro MLAs explain why they support using municipal property taxes to pay for doctors' salaries.

[Page 4349]

[12:45 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

RESOLUTION NO. 1546

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

Whereas Mi'kmaq students at Riverside Education Centre in Elmsdale are enrolled in a Mi'kmaq language instruction program; and

Whereas the curriculum is being delivered via video link from Sherwood Park Education Centre in Sydney; and

Whereas this project is one of only a few distance-education initiatives in the province at the secondary level;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of the House applaud the Chignecto-Central Regional School Board for providing video-link for students who otherwise would not have access to a language program and commend the students and teachers at Riverside and Sherwood for their participation in this initiative.

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 4350]

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton The Lakes.

RESOLUTION NO. 1547

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

Whereas it has recently come to our attention the province is moving very quickly to transfer the service of vehicle compliance officers to the RCMP; and

Whereas vehicle compliance officers perform specialized inspection services that are not easily transferable to provincial RCMP officers; and

Whereas for the past several months the NSGEU has requested a meeting with the Premier and the Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations in order to have input into the fate of their members;

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier and the Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations meet immediately with the NSGEU to discuss the province's plan for the future of the vehicle compliance officers.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

RESOLUTION NO. 1548

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

Whereas nurses are a vital link to our health care system; and

[Page 4351]

Whereas the government chronically underpays and undervalues the work of these health professionals; and

Whereas as a result of this situation, nurses in the Capital District are faced with strike action;

Therefore be it resolved that this government take immediate steps to prevent strike action and to allow nurses the opportunity to continue practising what they love, providing quality care to the people of Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Richmond.

RESOLUTION NO. 1549

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

Whereas the St. Peters Marina, owned and operated by the St. Peters and Area Lions Club, has long been the first stop into the Bras d'Or Lakes and the last stop out, greeting thousands of boaters every year; and

Whereas the marina has recently undergone major renovations with the funding assistance of $500,000 from Enterprise Cape Breton Corporation, $79,638 from Human Resources Development Canada, and $20,000 from the Municipality of the County of Richmond; and

Whereas the work includes extensive renovations to the marina building; more boardwalks; an addition to the main wharf, including the installation of power and a sewage pump-out station; and the creation of another section of floating dock;

[Page 4352]

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House commend the funding partners for this project; Mr. Gerry Gibson, Marina Manager; and the members of the St. Peters and Area Lions Club for their continued commitment to the economic development of Richmond County and the environmental well-being of the Bras d'Or Lakes.

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 Richmond.

RESOLUTION NO. 1550

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

Whereas the Law Reform Commission was created by the Nova Scotia Government in 1991 to review the laws of Nova Scotia and to make recommendations for their improvement, modernization and reform; and

Whereas a decision by the current government in August 2000 to discontinue future core funding meant that the commission would have closed on March 31, 2001; and

Whereas the Law Foundation of Nova Scotia has announced three years of full funding for the commission, which will allow it to remain open and continue its law reform work, under the direction of the new Executive Director and General Counsel, Mr. John Briggs, a lawyer with extensive experience in the practice of law, both in the public and private sectors;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House commend the Law Foundation of Nova Scotia for their generous funding commitment to the Law Reform Commission, and wish the commission and Executive Director John Briggs well as they continue to provide a dedicated and valued service to the residents of Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 4353]

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: Question Period will begin at 12:50 p.m. and end at 1:50 p.m.

The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

HEALTH - NSGEU STRIKE VOTE: RESULTS - MEANING

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, when 97 per cent of a bargaining unit votes to strike, it is a clear message that there are problems that need to be addressed. Despite such an overwhelming percentage, NSGEU has agreed to return to the bargaining table to try once more to arrive at an offer more acceptable to their members. This government has a responsibility to ascertain that nurses in this province are treated with the same respect and compensation as they are in other provinces. I want to ask the Minister of Health, will he agree that a 97 per cent strike vote is a clear message that the Department of Health is not effectively addressing the needs of our nurses?

HON. JAMES MUIR: No.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, over and over we have seen examples of this government's penchant for confrontation instead of negotiation. This is a government that pushed the paramedics into a strike, they refused to intervene on behalf of the custodial staff and today there are home care workers on the line in Queens County. The people, workers in different sectors, come to this House for answers and they expect more than just applause and platitudes. I ask the Minister of Health, please explain how the actions of your bargainers fit with your positive imaging strategy.

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, as members in the House know, and I was delighted that the NSNU, which is the other group who represents nurses, continued at the table and was able to reach an agreement with the negotiators and they certainly feel it is a very fair agreement.

[Page 4354]

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, the nursing situation in this province is not stabilized. Nurses will continue to leave this province if this government is not prepared to offer them something better than last place on the national wage scale. Nurses in this province deserve better wages and benefits. Sick people and their families know that. My question to the minister is, if we can't keep beds open and surgeries are not scheduled because of a lack of nurses, how do you expect to improve if you aren't prepared to bargain fairly and equitably with our nurses?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I do believe that negotiations which took place with the NSGEU, as well as the NSNU, were carried out in a forthright, careful and thoughtful way by the negotiators for the employers. Clearly, it was rewarding to see that an agreement could be reached with one group. I understand as well that the NSGEU nurses and those who are with us here today, their negotiators will be returning to the table with the conciliator on Monday. I am optimistic that when they sit down and resume their discussions, they too will be able to reach an agreement.

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

HEALTH: PHYSICIAN RECRUITMENT -

MUNICIPALITIES INVOLVEMENT

MR. WAYNE GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Premier. The Premier was misleading the public again yesterday. He is more than happy to let municipalities do whatever they want to get doctors, but he is completely ignoring nurses. Yesterday, the Premier said that there were municipalities who were paying doctors' salaries. Well, the president of the UNSM has now said that this is simply not the case. My question to the Premier is, will the Premier, if he can, name one municipality he is aware of that is paying some or all of a doctor's salary?

THE PREMIER: I know that the member opposite would not wittingly mislead the House. To ensure that he does not continue to do that, I am providing him with a transcript of the remarks I made yesterday to which he refers. I will table this so he can have a copy.

MR. GAUDET: The Premier's credibility is on the line here with the people of Nova Scotia. That is what is on the line - his credibility. (Applause) My question to the Premier, will the Premier tell the House why he is insisting on pitting one municipality against another when it comes to something as vital as health care?

THE PREMIER: The member opposite appears to take objection to communities actively going out and recruiting physicians. This is something that has gone on in this province for the past 20 years. The member opposite chooses to ignore that and to simply not support what a municipality is doing to make sure that physicians are available in their community.

[Page 4355]

MR. GAUDET: The UNSM is saying that this Premier is wrong, Mr. Speaker. The Municipality of Shelburne is saying that this Premier is wrong. The entire province knows that this government is wrong on this issue. My question to the Premier, why do you insist on pushing this issue forward in light of such pronounced objections?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I believe that when all of those who are concerned about this issue have an opportunity to examine the facts rather than the statements of the members of the Opposition, that they will come to the same conclusion the government has.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

COMMUN. SERV. - SOC. ASSIST.: POLICY - TABLE

MR. JERRY PYE: Mr. Speaker, mental health patients are living with an added stress these days. In just two months the new regulations for social assistance comes into effect. The regulations are very unclear as to what criteria will be determining whether or not a person is employable. Mental health patients are fearful that the decision will be based on the Department of Community Services' policy, rather than the judgement of their physicians. This added stress is not helping them manage their illness. I want to ask the Minister of Community Services, will you table in this House today the Department of Community Services' policies in regard to the new regulations?

HON. PETER CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, I will contact the department and get those regulations brought down as soon as I can.

MR. PYE: Mr. Speaker, that is refreshing and that is why we are here - to cause that kind of action. Single parents are also worried about the new regulations and how it will affect them. Women support centres tell us the increasing number of single parent moms approaching them for answers to their concerns. The minister has talked about the Employment Support Programs, but his references have been long on rhetoric and short on detail. My question to the minister is, will you table in this House today the details and the policies of the employment support section of those new regulations?

MR. CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member asked for regulations regarding people who couldn't work. The regulations will be the same for single parents and for single mothers. The regulations, as we have indicated here, are for people who are able to work. They will be working if there is work available and it will be based on the doctor's opinion. I will have those regulations brought down as soon as possible.

MR. PYE: Again, that is why we are here, to get that before this Legislative Assembly as quickly as possible so that those Nova Scotians affected out there will know. I am tabling a copy of the Department of Community Services' internal document that indicates the new policies have been completed, including an article for the Corporate Executive Magazine

[Page 4356]

about the Employment Support Program. The people affected by the new regulations have a right to know now what they can expect. My question to the minister is, will you table today the complete sections of the policy manuals and the draft of the Corporate Executive Magazine article that you are forwarding?

[1:00 p.m.]

MR. CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, I would be happy to get a copy of that article and put it with the regulations. I will get them down here as soon as I can.

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

HEALTH - PHYSICIAN RECRUITMENT:

GRANTS PROVISION - MUNICIPALITIES IDENTIFY

MR. WAYNE GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Premier. Yesterday, the Premier said that there were municipalities in Nova Scotia who were paying their doctors. My question to the Premier is, if this is true, will the Premier table a list of which municipalities are doing this?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I gave the member opposite an opportunity to review what I said yesterday. At no time did I indicate that municipalities were directly paying doctors' salaries. I would ask the member opposite to phrase his question relative to what I actually said.

MR. GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, maybe the Premier should check The Daily News today to see exactly what he said to the media outside the Chamber yesterday. The Premier is not answering the question. My question is, if there are municipalities paying doctors, who are they, Mr. Premier?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I hope the member keeps up, because if we go at this long enough he will eventually understand what happened yesterday. What I made reference to yesterday is that municipalities are actively recruiting doctors. At no time did I indicate that any municipality was paying a direct salary to a physician.

MR. GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, if the Premier doesn't know or now knows he was wrong, he should come forward and admit it. I will ask the Premier once again, are there or are there not municipalities taking property tax dollars to pay salaries of doctors? Yes or no. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Order, please. The honourable Premier has the floor.

[Page 4357]

THE PREMIER: . . . and I will read from a letter which I am prepared to table from the Municipality of the District of Barrington. "It is the intention of Council . . .", this being the Barrington Council, ". . . to have this bill passed in order to make it possible for Council to provide direct funding for moving and travel expenses of doctors in order to attract them to the Municipality." That is what the Municipality of the District of Barrington is asking for. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. (Interruptions) Order, please. If the members want to yell back and forth across the floor, go out in the parking lot and do it, not here. That is both sides.

The honourable member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage.

FIN. - TAXES/USER FEES: DETAILS - PROVIDE

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Finance. We have known over the last 10 weeks, we have identified $120 million in new taxes and user fees that this government has imposed on the people of Nova Scotia on an annual basis. We made an application under FOI to the Minister of Finance's department, asking him to provide the details of exactly where that money is coming from and where it is going. We got the response today, it is a bit funny actually, 22 blank pages. Nothing. I want to table that; part of the response was 22 blank pages with nothing identifying why this government and how this government is collecting all the taxes and user fees. It is a bit of a joke, if it wasn't such a serious matter.

I want to ask the Minister of Finance, why has his department refused to provide the details of where and how it is collecting $120 million in user fees and taxes from the people of Nova Scotia?

HON. NEIL LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, first of all, in regard to the levels of user fees or cost recoveries that you are referring to, I am in dispute with those numbers, but I do want to say one thing. The honourable member opposite is a lawyer and as such he realizes there is a format whereby you can apply for information that is prepared by the FOIPOP officer in our department. If some of that information that he is referring to are Cabinet documents, then they don't get provided. I don't know under what circumstances that information was withheld from him, but the member opposite knows very well that that is the process that is followed.

MR. DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, 22 blank pages means this minister cannot justify his government's user fees and tax grab on the people of Nova Scotia; 22 blank pages means the Minister of Finance doesn't think the people of Nova Scotia have the right to know where their money is going and how it is being collected. I want to ask the Minister of Finance why he wouldn't waive the exemption under the freedom of information Act and allow his

[Page 4358]

department to provide the details so the people of Nova Scotia would know exactly how they are being taxed by this government.

MR. LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, in regard to the question put forward by the honourable member, there is a process in this province whereby people can ask for information from Cabinet and from ministers. They asked the department, the department prepared a response. The minister does not prepare the response and we have been questioned before as to whether or not we should be getting involved in those requests. I respect the integrity of the FOIPOP procedure. It is done by my staff and if there is a reason why information wasn't provided, I would have to ask them the question because I was not party to that response to the member opposite.

MR. DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, the people of Nova Scotia don't want a minister who is going to hide behind rules and regulations but is going to provide them with the details of how their tax dollars are being spent. We have taken this government to court before, we have gone all the way to the Supreme Court and we will do it again in order to find out how the people's taxes are being spent by this government. My question to the Minister of Finance is, why is it that your government fails to understand that Nova Scotians might be willing to accept some of these user fees if only you would be honest and responsive and open instead of trying to hide exactly how and where you are collecting and spending the taxpayers' money?

MR. LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, when I tabled the last two budgets, there were cost recoveries in those budgets. The first time a government stood up and we included in our budget documents a list of those cost recoveries, we told Nova Scotians up front what we were doing. For that member opposite to say that isn't the case, that is a misrepresentation of the facts. We will stand by what we say. The information is public anyway. What the member opposite (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

HEALTH - PHYSICIAN RECRUITMENT POLICY:

PREM. AGREEMENT - MIN. EXPLAIN

DR. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Health. Yesterday we asked the Minister of Health about his department's policy on physician recruitment. Since then I have had the opportunity to review some statements made by his Deputy Minister of Health last February. The minister's deputy said that he firmly believed that family doctor recruitment did not belong with communities. He said that policy simply did not fit with the direction in which health care is heading. My question to the minister is, with

[Page 4359]

that in mind, will the Minister of Health tell us why the Premier said yesterday he believed in this policy?

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, clearly, the Department of Health has a recruiting division and has been in co-operation, I might say, with a good many communities, the most successful province in Canada in recruiting physicians. I don't know in what context the statement of the deputy minister and given that it came from the group over there, you can be sure that it is probably out of context. I can tell you that certainly our department does value the input of communities and support of communities when it comes to recruiting physicians.

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, the Premier and the Minister of Health can't get their stories straight but I want to give some credit to the Deputy Minister of Health. The deputy seems to understand that strategic placement is above politics but the minister is still being very fuzzy on this. In front of a group at the QE II, the deputy minister said that there had to be a strategic approach to physician recruitment. Will the Minister of Health tell the House today, once and for all, what is his opinion on municipally-funded doctors?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, throughout this province, there are communities that have assisted in the recruitment of physicians, dentists, optometrists, nurses and anything else that you would like to talk about. I can tell the honourable member that the facility which is very near and dear to his heart, the Dartmouth General Hospital, has a foundation which provides things to that hospital which make it better for health care people to practice. He should recognize and thank the citizens for participating instead of criticizing them.

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, we know all about foundations. It is funding doctors from municipal property taxpayers' dollars, that is what we are talking about. The Premier says that is okay. The Minister of Health says it is okay. It would have been interesting to be a fly on the wall at the Cabinet meeting this morning to follow their discussion. My question to the minister is, will the Minister of Health tell us where, in his clinical planning tool, we can find a reference to communities, rather than district health authorities, paying doctors?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I don't think that is referenced in the clinical planning document, but I can tell the honourable member, as the Premier has said when he tabled that letter from the Municipality of Barrington, that the provision of assistance to recruit doctors by municipalities is done far and wide in this province and it has been for some years. (Interruptions) They wouldn't know what the bill is unless somebody read it to them.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

[Page 4360]

The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.

AGRIC. & FISH. - DEEP SEA TRAWLERS:

OBSERVER PROG. - SUPPORT CONFIRM

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I would like to direct a question through you to the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries. Of course, the minister will know that deep sea trawlers have observers on board, in part to ensure that the regulations are followed, that we don't have high-grading, dumping and so on. My question to the minister is simply this, does the minister support the continuation of the observer program for the deep sea trawlers?

HON. ERNEST FAGE: Mr. Speaker, I thank the honourable member for his question. As the honourable member knows, the observer program and all regulations pertaining to the fisheries in the water is the responsibility of the federal government.

MR. HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I saw him getting coaching from his seatmate, the Minister responsible for the Petroleum Directorate, and that was to not say too much. His seatmate, to whom I will direct this question, knows that off our coast, we have oil rigs that are exploring, as well as producing. We also know that those companies that are doing that are the ones who are reporting any breaches of the regulations that they may make. If there is a spill, it is up to them to report it. If they are dumping hazardous materials, as we know they are, it is up to them to report it. My question to the minister is, does the Minister responsible for the Petroleum Directorate support the placement of independent observers on our offshore oil rigs to ensure that the regulations are in fact being followed and that any abuses are monitored?

HON. GORDON BALSER: Mr. Speaker, the level of monitoring that occurs offshore is among the most stringent in the world, and that includes the North Sea. So I feel comfortable that the programs that are in place are adequately addressing those concerns.

MR. HOLM: Mr. Speaker, the minister seems to be saying that he is fully in support of having the fox being responsible for reporting any offences that they commit in the henhouse. I want to ask the Premier, since the minister is absolutely unconcerned, but I am sure the Premier is concerned about the offshore environment and he is concerned about the fisheries and the thousands of jobs that depend on it. I want to ask the Premier if he will, himself, if his minister is unconcerned, put pressure on and lobby for the placement of independent observers on the offshore rigs to ensure that the health and safety, environmental and other regulations are, in fact, being adhered to?

[Page 4361]

[1:15 p.m.]

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the issue is an important one, occupational health and safety in the offshore continues to be a concern of this government. I had an opportunity as recently as a week ago to discuss this very issue with the petroleum board and to reinforce the position of this government, that nothing will occur offshore that will be done to the detriment of the safety of the people working in the offshore.

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

PREMIER - NURSES: RESPECT SHOW - DEMANDS LISTEN

MR. WAYNE GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, my colleague, the honourable member for Dartmouth East has brought forward concerns on behalf of nurses in Nova Scotia to this Minister of Health on nine different occasions. So far his concerns have fallen on deaf ears. I would like to direct my question to the Premier. Mr. Speaker, 650 days into the mandate of this government and nurses are still underpaid, overworked and undervalued. (Applause) His government's show of respect for the nursing profession is allowing a situation where one group of nurses is being pitted against another. My question to the Premier is, why won't the Premier, a doctor himself, simply show nurses the respect they deserve and listen favourably to their demands. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Order, please. I would have to advise our guests in the gallery that you are requested to refrain from showing applause. (Interruption) We appreciate the concern but the practice in the House is that you must refrain from expressing applause either for or against different matters that are on the floor. If you do not, unfortunately, we will have to request that you leave the gallery. (Interruptions)

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I can assure the member opposite that this member, as the member for Dartmouth East can attest, that the health care system is very dependent on the nursing service in this province. We have made a commitment to reflect that in our negotiations, but we are not going to negotiate here. The proper place for negotiations is around the negotiating table and that is where we are encouraging it to occur.

MR. GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, the Premier may think that the negotiations take place around the table but that is why the nurses are here because they are not pleased with what has been taking place around the table.

Mr. Speaker, the Premier should have respect for the profession of nursing. We have nurses expressing concerns about mandatory callback, there have been concerns raised about working conditions and there have been concerns that Nova Scotia will lose its nurses if you don't pay them enough. My question to the Premier is, how do you expect to return nurses in Nova Scotia without listening to the valid concerns of the nursing profession?

[Page 4362]

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I think I could, in all fairness, remind the member opposite that because this government does value the services of all public sector workers that we are negotiating in good faith. We have not suggested to them unpaid holidays, like that member did when a member of government. We did not suggest a wage rollback that that member suggested while as a member of government. (Interruption) This government realizes the great service that we receive from public sector workers and we want that reflected around the negotiating table.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, if nurses currently in the system are to have . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Honourable members, it is difficult for anybody to hear the question or to hear the answer. Please bring yourselves to order.

The honourable Liberal Leader does have the floor.

MR. GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, if nurses currently in the system are to have a quality of life, have opportunities to participate in continuing education programs and even have a summer vacation, there needs to be more nurses. My question to the Premier is, could he please indicate how the province will attract more nurses to Nova Scotia when they will still be among the most underpaid nurses on the continent?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I would ask the Minister of Health to describe the many initiatives that we have in the Province of Nova Scotia to encourage more nursing in this province.

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, one of the interesting things that occurs during Question Period, when there are people in the audience, is how short the memory of this group is. (Interruptions) This was the group, when Ron Stewart was Minister of Health, he retired nurses in this province and he forced them to sign contracts, the new graduates, that they would not look for work in Nova Scotia. That is why the nurses aren't here today, it is because of what they did, and we are trying to improve that.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

HEALTH - NURSING SHORTAGE: WORKLOAD ISSUE - SOLUTION

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, as we know, the government is at an impasse with the nurses of the NSGEU. I want to table the information from the CIHI with respect to the fewer number of nurses in this province today than there were in 1994. There are 458 fewer nurses in this province than there were almost seven years ago, and I will table that. Workload issues continue to be at the top of the list of difficulties being experienced by

[Page 4363]

nurses, so I want to ask the Minister of Health to tell this House today exactly what initiatives they are undertaking to see to it that nurse workload issues are being addressed?

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, perhaps just to respond in two ways. You will find as well in that document that the number of nurses in Nova Scotia was greater last year than it was the year before and I had partially answered it because of the policy of the previous government. One of the things that I did as Minister of Health - and keep in mind that the government is not directly involved in these negotiations - was to bring the unions and the employers into the room in the Joseph Howe building before negotiations started, and said that one of the things that we wanted to resolve, we recognized that there were a number of workplace issues that had to be dealt with and we instructed and asked the unions and the employers to make these a priority as they sat down at the table.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, well, the biggest problem that this minister has in dealing with the nurses is his inability to treat them with the respect they deserve. That is the major problem that this minister has with this government. No one should know any better than that minister that the way to recruit and retain nurses in this province is by paying them decently. I want to the ask the Minister of Health, will you commit to this House today to go back to the bargaining table and to treat nurses with the respect they deserve?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, our record, in the time that we have been in office, will indicate that no government has treated nurses and health care professionals with any more respect than we have in the past number of years. Clearly, I have been told that the NSGEU people are going to go back to the table on Monday, and I hope that they will be able to reach a successful conclusion of negotiations as did the nurses who were represented by the NSNU.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, this is a minister who thinks that this is Question Period and not answer period. That all he has to do is spout some rhetoric and give some applause to people who show up in the gallery and that they are going to go away satisfied. I want to ask the minister - for once, give us an answer - how do you expect to improve the contract of nurses, how do you expect to recruit and retain them if you aren't prepared to bargain fairly and equitably?

MR. MUIR: As I have said on a number of occasions in this House in the past little while, the employers are indeed bargaining in good faith and trying to - we have said on this floor time and time again, we want our health care workers, our health care professionals to be paid fairly. We want them to have good working conditions and we want to put in measures that will attract and retain nurses - we are talking about nurses today, in this province. I think when you examine our record you will see that we have done just that.

[Page 4364]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

HEALTH - NURSES (N.S.): POLICY - HEALTH MIN. JUSTIFY

DR. JAMES SMITH: My question is to the Minister of Health. Before the election, the Tory blue book talked bravely about what a Tory Government would do to assist nurses. New nurses would be hired, casual nurses would be made permanent and the whole system could be fixed for $45 million. Well, 650 days and $300 million later, nurses are still not getting paid what they are worth. My question to the minister is, how can the Minister of Health justify a policy which will still mean Nova Scotia's nurses are among the lowest paid in this country?

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I think he had better go back to his researchers and get his questions reworded because I don't know what that means, but certainly, it is not our policy. Our policy is that our health care workers will be treated fairly within the financial resources of this province.

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, $45 million is what this government said it would take so maybe this government will still want municipal units to pay for nurses as well as for doctors. This government has got extra federal money and it has a lot of extra money. They have advantages that the previous government didn't have, so if he can't find the money, it is because he has mismanaged the system. Why hasn't the minister (Interruptions)

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

DR. SMITH: My question is simply to the minister, why hasn't the minister budgeted enough money to cover adequate salary increases for nurses in the Capital Health District?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, as the honourable member will know, negotiations are not carried out on the floor of this House, despite the theatrics of the members on the opposite side today. Clearly, the NSGEU and their representatives are going back to the bargaining table on Monday with the employer and I am confident that both sides will work to reach an agreement.

DR. SMITH: Of course, there may be more important things than money, but kind words are not going to keep nurses here in Nova Scotia, so why won't the minster bite the bullet, negotiate in good faith and pay nurses competitively so we can keep them right here in Nova Scotia?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, perhaps, I will table again for those - and most of them probably didn't read it - Nova Scotia's Nursing Strategy which was a document developed by nurses for nurses to answer many of their concerns. I want to tell you that the policy of this government is that our health care professionals will be compensated fairly.

[Page 4365]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

HEALTH - HEPATITIS C VICTIMS:

GOV'T. (CAN.) FUNDING - INTENT FOLLOW

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, we all know that the federal government decided that people infected with hepatitis C through blood services prior to 1986 and after 1990 would not be personally compensated. However, the federal Health Minister clearly stated that these people should not incur out-of-pocket expenses for medical treatment. In order to ensure this does not occur, the federal government provided an extra $300,000 a year to this province. I want to ask the minister, why are you ignoring the intent of the federal government to protect these hepatitis C victims from ever having to suffer financially for the tainted blood given to them?

[1:30 p.m.]

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, this province was in advance of many other provinces in recognizing hepatitis C outside of the window period to which the honourable member refers. The additional money that has flowed through from the federal government is being used in the treatment of hepatitis C as per the agreement.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, here are some of the numerous tests involved in a diagnosis: HCV antibody; PCR tests; a series of ALT/AST; genome typing; and needlepoint of transjugular biopsy, to mention a few. The prescription medications for this disease are expensive and there are various over-the-counter drugs used to relieve some of the symptoms. The conditions require constant monitoring, and this involves transportation costs for numerous trips to doctors and health facilities. My question for the Minister of Health is this, will hepatitis C sufferers infected by tainted blood have to pay any of these costs?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, as the honourable member knows and we were pleased to announce, I guess actually after this session started, that genotype programming will soon begin in Nova Scotia, if it is not already up and running.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, hepatitis C can affect many organs in the body. It is not unusual for the kidney or gallbladder to be removed. There is always the possibility of needing a liver transplant and subsequent anti-rejection drugs and, in the worst case scenario, there are funeral expenses. I want to ask the minister, will you guarantee that hepatitis C victims of tainted blood will never have to suffer financially for these or any other expenses related to diagnosis, treatment or the outcome of their disease?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I wish I could be all things to all people, not only people who have hepatitis C, there are people with multiple sclerosis or with CP, there are people with Huntington's disease, there are people like the young person who was in the balcony

[Page 4366]

today who need a cochlear implant. The answer to that is, from a practical point of view, as much as I would like to be able to do everything for everybody, as a government we cannot. What we will do is provide the best service to all people who are sick within our resources.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Lunenburg West.

FIN. - STEWARDSHIP: MIN. CONTROL - LOSS EXPLAIN

MR. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Finance. When this Minister of Finance came to power, he talked about tough measures ahead, he talked about getting better control of the debt and he also talked about no new taxes.

Well, 650 days later, no plan to pay down the debt. In fact, the debt has grown over $2 billion since they have been in power and will not be under control until the year 2007. Personal income taxes are going to continue to rise; last year $249 million of additional revenue, a time when he could have hired an additional 700 nurses and 800 teachers, and no balanced budget.

The federal government is sounding alarm bells at $90 million fewer in transfer payments and yet this Minister of Finance has his head stuck in the sand saying, Nova Scotians don't worry, I am under control. Why has the minister lost his nerve as the Minister of Finance in less than two years of managing the affairs of this province?

HON. NEIL LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, first of all I would like to say that I haven't lost my nerve. Contrary to the debate going on today, we have provided more money to health care. If I were to listen to that member opposite, to what he has said many times in this House, that we should have balanced the budget no matter what, many of the people in the gallery here today would probably get no raises whatsoever, rather than being at the bargaining table.

We put in place a four year plan to bring about a balanced budget in this province and, subsequent to that, giving some tax relief. It is important to our government that we have a long-term vision. We have one, much to the contrary of what was there before we took office.

MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, this Minister of Finance not only could have balanced the budget, he could have hired an additional 700 or 800 nurses and teachers in the Province of Nova Scotia. He blew it. The Finance Minister will not take responsibility for his department, so my next question is to the Premier. At the Tory annual meeting, the Premier stated his concern about the debt and the effect it will have on our children. Yet, somewhere between the Tory AGM and the spring budget that was just done, the Premier or the Finance Minister lost their nerve, or perhaps it is the Tory caucus that beat out any attempt to balance the

[Page 4367]

budget. Could the Premier outline what happened to the government's fiscal message between the Tory AGM and the spring budget?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the question is a serious one, but it is very difficult to respond to one member of a caucus who is indicating that we should simply open the financial envelope in an unlimited fashion in wage negotiations, while another member of the same caucus is suggesting that the government has lost its nerve in trying to balance the budget and eliminate the debt. So in reality, until we get some kind of consistency from the caucus, it is very difficult to take them seriously.

MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, this Premier had $0.25 billion additional revenue last year, over what they projected in revenue stream and they still could not put their House in order and it is plenty of money to pay for nurses and teachers in the Province of Nova Scotia. The budget tabled in 2001 was radically different than the pre-budget message. The question is, who blinked, the Premier or the Finance Minister? My question to the Premier is, what pressure has the Premier caved in to that will mean a deepening fiscal crisis for generations to come? (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

THE PREMIER: . . . wants us to spend more and the member for Lunenburg West wants us to spend less. What is it, more or less? It can't be both.

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

ENVIRON. & LBR. - PROSPECT RD.:

ABANDONED RESTAURANT - CLEANUP

MR. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, my question, through you, is to the Minister of the Environment and Labour. A deserted family market, restaurant and greenhouse on the Prospect Road has been for sale since December 2000. It is a tough sell because there is garbage and other disgusting debris everywhere. There are not potential buyers lining up; there are rats everywhere. Neighbours are angry and they are frustrated, but when residents try to get something done, the brokerage firm that is responsible refers all complaints to the national contact numbers for the TD Bank and the Royal Bank in downtown beautiful Toronto. Meanwhile, the stench worsens. So my question to the Minister of Environment and Labour is, I want the minister to tell this House, what is he prepared to do to help the people who live next door to this abandoned, absolute disgust on the Prospect Road?

HON. DAVID MORSE: Mr. Speaker, I guess the first thing I would ask is whether they have made the appropriate complaints. One might be to the municipality for under unsightly premises. That would certainly sound like it would qualify. I can say, back from

[Page 4368]

my municipal council days, I have counselled a few former constituents in that regard. If there are some things that are felt fall under the purview of the Department of Environment and Labour, I would hope that they would please call our office in Bedford and we will see what we can do to assist them.

MR. ESTABROOKS: This morning, Jean Mahar, owner of the adjacent property, showed me around this embarrassment. Everyone in this province has a right to a clean, healthy and safe environment. I would like to table some photos that we were actually able to take without the rats nipping at our heels. So don't you tell Mrs. Mahar that she has to deal with someone else. She has been inquiring, she has been asking questions and in return she is getting nothing. That is because of various people avoiding the issue. So my question for the minister is, will you order an immediate cleanup of this property to ensure that local residents don't have to contend with the stench and the rodents?

MR. MORSE: Mr. Speaker, I made a couple of suggestions. One was to ask whether the people who are affected by this have called the municipality and the second one was whether they had called the Department of the Environment. Thus far the member opposite has not answered those questions.

MR. ESTABROOKS: I am finally a Cabinet Minister. Yes, calls have been made, faxes have been sent, and no answers in reply. Why is it necessary to place a long distance call about an environment and health issue to an answering machine in Toronto when the problem is out there on the Prospect Road? That's the concern. Another issue of the environment on the Prospect Road. I want this minister's personal commitment that he will become directly involved in helping out Mrs. Mahar and those residents again on the Prospect Road on an environment and health issue.

MR. MORSE: Mr. Speaker, I would assure Mrs. Mahar and any Nova Scotians that if they call the department we would do whatever we can under the Act and the various regulations to assist them. The member opposite has very cleverly not answered my question as to whether she has indeed called the Department of Environment and Labour. He has told us that she has called many other agencies including, apparently, the receiver for this operation but he has not answered the question as to whether she has, in fact, called the department.

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

COMMUN. SERV. - CEIP RECIPIENTS:

DOCUMENTATION - PROVIDE

MR. BRIAN BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, CEIP, Community Employment Innovation Program, is a federally-funded work program administered by the province. This program is designed for the CBRM and the purpose of this is to give the unemployed and those on

[Page 4369]

social assistance an opportunity to get a job. Recently I learned through several phone calls that some people who are already employed have left their jobs to take work with this program. My question to the Minister of Community Services is, can he provide documents showing that only those without jobs or on assistance are being hired for CEIP jobs?

HON. PETER CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, I would be happy to review that for the honourable member and get him that information. I don't have that here but if there is a specific project that he is interested in, I would be happy to get that information.

MR. BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, this program is for those without work. Hiring the employed goes against the purpose of the program. Reports in Cape Breton suggest a government member in a riding next to mine is influencing hiring and there is also a question about whether the government member is also influencing organizations who are getting these positions. What assurances can the minister offer that no government MLA is involved in the administration of the CEIP?

MR. CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member, as he is quite aware of the program, knows that those programs are funded through HRDC and Community Services and that HRDC is the lead agency on that. HRDC appoint the supervisors and we provide the names for people to do that. You question is, will I provide a list of names of those people who are on a specific project and if you give me the project, I will get that information.

[1:45 p.m.]

MR. BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, the government's policy is to basically put social assistance recipients to work. The reality is, those who are already employed are getting these jobs. My question is to the Premier. Why would you let government MLAs undermine government policy by getting involved in hiring under this program?

THE PREMIER: This government is not undermining any program, but it certainly is encouraging all programs that provide work opportunities in all parts of this province.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.

NAT. RES. - WEB SITE: SUBMISSIONS - POSTING DELAY EXPLAIN

MR. HOWARD EPSTEIN: I believe this goes to the Minister of Natural Resources. Mr. Speaker, in April, the province put out a draft energy strategy document called Powering Nova Scotia's Economy. It was intended as the basis for public consultation. Part of the approach was to establish a Web site where the document could be read and where comments received could also be read. The Web site states new submissions will be posted upon receipt. One of the submissions was from Dr. Larry Hughes of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Dalhousie University. Dr. Hughes is a long-time critic of Nova

[Page 4370]

Scotia's energy policies and he promptly wrote a critical piece about the draft strategy. Instead of posting it to the Web site for others to see, your department officials delayed and even tried to persuade him to change the submission. Finally, after two weeks, they posted his submission. Will the Minister of Natural Resources explain why it took two weeks to post Dr. Hughes' submission and how that helps the public consultation process?

HON. ERNEST FAGE: Mr. Speaker, I thank the honourable member for his question. As the honourable knows, the official launch of the energy strategy will be on June 11th, the Web site and various other means are getting up and running. Obviously, different presentations will take varying amounts of time to put on. I think the important thing is, as the members acknowledge, the Web site is up and running and the doctor's submission has been posted.

MR. EPSTEIN: Well, the minister just said there is going to be an official launch, but indeed the site is up and running and it has been up for awhile. Mr. Speaker, departmental officials tried to get Dr. Hughes to change his submission because they didn't like it. Look, there is a disclaimer posted on the Web site to cover that, saying that the public submissions are not the government's position. Of course they are not; that is clear. But what I want to know is, are there other submissions that the department is sitting on or that they are trying to get the authors to change? Will the minister tell us that?

MR. FAGE: I thank the honourable member for his question. Certainly, the whole consultation process is about encouraging concerned Nova Scotians to put forward their submissions and views on the future energy policies of the Province of Nova Scotia. Certainly, it would be the intention of the department to allow all individuals to put forward their viewpoint.

MR. EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, all that the minister is telling us is that this is important. We know it is important. These public consultations are going on around the province now. They are happening now. The public sessions are due to finish on June 7th. This process is moving very quickly. Will the minister guarantee that now there will be a quick turnaround in posting all submissions, how long exactly will that take and will they be posted upon receipt, as promised?

MR. FAGE: Mr. Speaker, certainly to the honourable member, we will make every endeavour to ensure that all submissions are posted as promptly as possible.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Richmond. You have about 45 seconds.

[Page 4371]

HEALTH - LONG-TERM CARE:

FIN. ASSESSMENT - ADMISSION DELAY EXPLAIN

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, Nova Scotians know one of the greatest challenges in our health care system is the fact that people are remaining in hospitals for an extended period of time when they should be in long-term care beds. The minister's answer to that was a single entry system, but it appears not to be achieving its success in the Eastern Regional Health Board. Can the minister explain today why there have been up to 16 people remaining in St. Martha's Regional Hospital and the Strait-Richmond Hospital, when there were long-term care beds available for them and why will he not allow placement in these long-term care facilities while the financial assessment is being done?

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I want to make it clear for the members of this House again that that delay had nothing to do with the Single Entry Access Program.

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

GOVERNMENT BUSINESS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I move that you do now leave the Chair and the House resolve itself into a Committee of the Whole House on Bills.

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

[The motion is carried.]

[1:51 p.m. The House resolved itself into a CWH on Bills with Deputy Speaker Mr. Brooke Taylor in the Chair.]

[2:32 p.m. CWH on Bills rose and the House reconvened with Deputy Speaker Mr. Brooke Taylor in the Chair.]

MR. SPEAKER: The Chairman of the Committee of the Whole House on Bills reports:

THE CLERK: That the committee has met and considered the following bills:

Bill No. 10 - Order of Nova Scotia Act.

Bill No. 12 - Assessment Act and Municipal Government Act.

[Page 4372]

Bill No. 14 - Energy Resources Conservation Act/Pipeline Act.

Bill No. 28 - Securities Act.

Bill No. 31 - Agriculture Administration Amendment (2001) Act.

Bill No. 25 - Justice Administration Amendment (2001) Act.

and the chairman has been instructed to recommend these bills to the favourable consideration of the House, each without amendment, except for Bill No. 25 with certain amendments.

MR. SPEAKER: [Ordered that these bills be read for a third time on a future day.]

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, would you please call the order of business, Private and Local Bills for Third Reading.

PRIVATE AND LOCAL BILLS FOR THIRD READING

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 54.

Bill No. 54 - District of Barrington Health Professionals Assistance Act.

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

MR. BRIAN BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, it is certainly a pleasure for me to rise and speak on this bill, that's for sure. An amendment for a six months' hoist, I believe I am speaking on, and I believe it is a very good idea and one that I would suggest that the government should favour and support. In fact we have been doing a little bit of checking on this proposed bill, and we are not pleased at all with the response we are receiving; there is no support for this bill anywhere that we can find.

AN HON. MEMBER: Not even in Shelburne.

MR. BOUDREAU: Not even Shelburne. Mr. Speaker, I don't want to take my place here today to condemn the honourable member who brought the bill forward, because he meant well and he recognizes the fact that you have to be a Tory member in order to get something done in regard to health services in the community you represent. I will refer, first of all, to last November I believe it was, when the good member for Dartmouth East asked

[Page 4373]

the Minister of Health to provide assistance to the Municipality of Barrington; actually it was on November 7, 2000. My honourable colleague and the Health Critic for the Liberal Party, Dr. Jim Smith, asked Minister Muir if he would assist the Municipality of Barrington in paying the overhead office costs for doctors from Yarmouth to come and fill in for the absence of Dr. Blair at the time.

Mr. Speaker, a few days after that question was asked - of course the minister indicated here in the House that he would take it under consideration and all that, he never really replied or gave us a direct answer - a few days later we learned that the municipality was told by the Health Department not to expect any funding, not to expect one penny to help keep the lights and heat on in this doctor's office. What is remarkable is that it would only cost approximately $4,000 a month for this. In fact, if the minister was in support of the process that has been traditionally in place in this province for many years, in which he, the minister himself, is responsible for the recruitment of doctors and health care professionals in this province.

Mr. Speaker, it is obvious the minister is failing. Go down and ask the good people in Richmond and in other areas of this province where there is no medical profession in place because of the weak leadership of the Minister of Health. Six months would provide this minister and this Premier an opportunity to get together so they can get their stories straight, particularly when it comes to what was or wasn't said. Even the deputy minister of that department, who happens to earn in excess of $180,000 per year; imagine, they can't help the Municipality of the District of Barrington to pay the lights and bills in the clinic, but they can a high-salary import from outside this province in excess of $180,000 per year.

Mr. Speaker, that is the type of representation we are getting from that gang over there. I am shocked, I am absolutely shocked that the former municipal representatives who are now sitting in this Chamber have allowed this bill to proceed without going through the proper channel of consultation and discussion with the UNSM, in particular. How do we know if the district health authority was contacted in regard to this bill? We don't, because the minister has sat there quietly while this bill proceeds, and brought it so far to this level of debate.

Mr. Speaker, we saw the same thing last year when the make-work project went out and about in the province, and it is important to note that that make-work project had two things. One, they came back - the end result - and dumped the Sunday shopping issue right in the laps of the municipalities and began a process to start the bickering and the snickering and the division of all municipal units throughout the province until at least the Minister of Justice had enough sense to realize that was the wrong procedure. He stopped that process and he indicated very clearly that he would shelve even the idea of Sunday shopping for a period of five years.

[Page 4374]

Mr. Speaker, that committee, it is important to note, didn't even have the mandate to go out, they didn't even ask any questions, they didn't consult; their mandate was not to bring in any report on Sunday shopping. The shenanigans that went on with that process is an indication why, in my opinion, the member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley quit that committee - because it wasn't doing what it was supposed to do. He didn't support the direction the committee went in, and that is why he quit.

When you really think about the responsibility here, they are trying to take the responsibility from the Minister of Health and his officials in his office. He has more officials in his office than any Health Minister to my knowledge, in the history of Nova Scotia, and the highest paid also. Yet, it is obvious that they are not all on the same page in regard to this bill.

The Deputy Minister of Health, Tom Ward, is on record as stating - and he is on tape - this is not hearsay, this is real and there is a tape in existence which indicates that he does not consider communities should be allowed to recruit doctors. Yet, the minister obviously agrees with it, despite what his deputy minister is advising him. So why pay a deputy minister in excess of $180,000 per year if you are not going to accept his advice.

The six months pertaining to this amendment would provide an opportunity for this government to go out into Nova Scotia and discuss this issue and this bill with all the municipal units and their officials, both elected and administrators. It is obvious that the province recognizes the ability of these administrators and these elected officials because they continually dump responsibilities on top of them. They know these units have the ability to deal with the issues and the problems that they are dumping on them. However, it is very unfair, unpolitical and is creating a great deal of havoc for the municipal units in the province.

That is what concerns me when I look over there and I see the number of former municipal representatives that are now sitting over there as MLAs. They know the process. They are familiar with the process and they know the process. They know that this bill is wrong. The Premier today tables a letter - and I have a copy of it right here - that was issued by the Municipality of Barrington. In the letter, they are indicating to the government that there was a motion passed, ". . . to enable the Municipality of the District of Barrington to provide a grant to health professionals to encourage doctors . . . and other health professionals licenced to practice in . . . Nova Scotia to locate in the Municipality." and ". . . to provide direct funding for moving and travel expenses . . .", for those health care professionals.

Nowhere in this letter - and it is here and any Nova Scotian that wants a copy of this particular letter, just call my office and we will gladly have it sent out - does it indicate anywhere the municipality's wish to increase salaries for doctors. So why is it in that bill? It is in that bill because of the same conniving direction that that government went in with

[Page 4375]

the Sunday shopping issue. They are just dumping it right on top of municipalities. It is wrong for property tax dollars to be used for the need of medical care professionals. It is wrong.

There are enough ministers over there and as I look up and down that gang there, I don't know, I know there are a few rookies on the front benches over there; he wouldn't know a municipal, he doesn't understand anything anyway. There is one individual over there, really, that is a former mayor and member of the UNSM. Now, he is in Cabinet and fails, deliberately I would suggest, to acknowledge to his colleagues over there that this bill is wrong and has entered the wrong process.

[2:45 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, Barrington feels that it has no other option but to come forward with this suggestion to provide direct expenses to medical professionals for moving and travel expenses, because just a few weeks ago in this House, imagine how those people felt when they saw the Minister of Health personally get involved in the issue of the Northside General Hospital in Cape Breton North; how that member who presented this bill felt, representing that municipality that pleaded, last fall, for assistance from the Department of Health to deal with the shortage of a doctor, and he refused to provide that help, yet within an hour of leaving Question Period in which my good colleague and the Health Critic for our Party, Dr. James Smith, the MLA for Dartmouth East - they refused to provide help for the Municipality of Barrington - he was on his feet when we reminded that minister of the commitments - documented commitments - that that minister made to those people in that area during the by-election in Cape Breton North.

Imagine how the member who presented this bill felt, for the people he represented in Barrington, that the minister said no to just last fall, and within hours the minister was on his feet and activity began, bingo. Just imagine how that member who presented this bill felt, and just imagine how the good people in Barrington felt about that procedure.

Mr. Speaker, six months would provide an opportunity for this government to get an input from Nova Scotians on what they think, and if they feel it is necessary to use their property tax dollars that they pay to the municipal units in this province to be used for the salaries of doctors. That is what this is about. Nowhere in this letter that the Premier tabled today does it indicate any support for any municipality, including Barrington, to top up salaries of doctors, some who earn as high as $350,000 a year in this province. The municipality is nowhere indicating in this letter that they are in favour or support of such a measure. Yet, when the bill comes forward from that honourable member on that side of the House, it is included in the bill.

[Page 4376]

What are they trying to hide? The bill, perhaps, doesn't even come with any legal opinion, no legal opinion. Yesterday we saw members over there jump up on the scooter bill. Oh, we don't have a legal opinion. Used that as a weak excuse to trample a good bill that was presented by my colleague, the member for Dartmouth East. Yet, that same crew, that same gang sits idle and quietly with their muzzles on and allows this garbage to proceed. I would challenge any one of those members over there to rise in their place, like I have the opportunity, they have the same right as I do in this House, they could rise in their place and explain to Nova Scotians why they support this bill, but they won't do that because they have been told by the John Buchanan graduates to keep their mouths shut. It is as simple as that.

We have a minister here who is out of touch with his department. Ask the nurses, you don't have to take my word for it. Ask the nurses who are employed. They even got a good job done of getting nurses in this province bickering and competing against each other, instead of creating an atmosphere and an environment of certainty.

Mr. Speaker, do you really think the little Municipality of Barrington is going to be able to compete? Municipalities are going to have to be required - if we are setting the precedent here - municipalities are going to have to get involved to top-up salaries of doctors who are earning in excess of $350,000 per year. If the minister feels that is the difficulty and that is where the problem is, in enticing doctors into this province, if he feels that is where the problem is, then why didn't he present the bill himself and why doesn't he provide the comment on whether he supports the bill or not?

Then we have the Premier over here who also is a doctor, by the way, the good family doctor from New Glasgow, the good country doctor from New Glasgow. He is more like a butcher, Mr. Speaker, more like a butcher in a butcher shop, slice and dice and make all the poor people pay. What is worse, we learned yesterday that the Municipality of Barrington is receiving money through equalization payments. Now what is that going to do for their ability to enter that program next year when they need it?

Will the good Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations stand up and say, well, you are paying that doctor, you are topping up their salary, so now you don't qualify for any payment under the equalization scheme. We all know, Mr. Speaker, what they did and the chaos they caused over the very equalization scheme that was announced by the Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations after 5:00 p.m. on a Friday evening, just prior to a by-election. The municipal units were shocked that they were being, again, trampled on and negatively impacted with the direction of that gang over there.

We have a John Buchanan graduate now, the first. I always indicate that he is the first, but he is a close second to the honourable Minister of Transportation and Public Works, and the honourable Government House Leader. The two of them are pretty close. I don't know which one Honest John signed the certificate for, but I wish I could learn that one, because then they could have the honour of holding that label. We will say the two of them were

[Page 4377]

signed at the same time. We have one Finance Minister here and everywhere I go, Nova Scotians are beginning to ask me if I trust this government. My reply is, do you? Guess what the reply is, Mr. Speaker? I haven't met anybody lately who can trust that crew over there and they are disappointed in the performance of the Premier like you wouldn't believe. (Interruption)

I think the Premier is right. His friends are becoming very limited over there, for that side of the House.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The private conversations of the members are drowning out the member who has the floor.

MR. BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, it is very sad when we get a municipal unit the size of Barrington having to bring this issue to the forefront, pleading and begging at the doorstep of the Minister of Health to deal with a problem in their community and he fails and refuses

to deal with the issue. There is no wonder that the Municipality of the District of Barrington had to do what they did.

It is no wonder they had to take that responsibility in their own hands, because they know full well that there is no activity coming from that department and that minister and his high-paid, salaried gang of imports he brought in here from other parts of this country to design and run the health system in the Province of Nova Scotia. The highest paid, I think it is over $300,000 or $400,000 in salaries alone in the front office of that minister, and he has one deputy minister saying he doesn't support this type of legislation, yet, he will stand in his place and state very clearly that he won't accept that advice. Why does he have that individual over there, paying him in excess of $180,000 a year? Why is he being employed by the taxpayers of this province if he is not going to take his advice?

Then the Premier, himself, stood up in front of media personnel yesterday - and the media has him on record, hopefully, I wasn't there but my colleagues have educated me on this issue - and he is on tape indicating there are municipal units, now, in this province topping-up the salaries for doctors. I find that very difficult to believe. Of course, when he is asked today, he is not able to provide the answers. He doesn't have the list. We saw that just a very short while ago when the Health Minister indicated that smokers, cigarette smokers were going to be cut off from health care in this province, but he couldn't indicate what doctors told him that. Then he admitted, after a few days of questioning, that it was just something he created.

Is that what we expect from our political leaders in this province? I would suggest not.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I am wondering if the member would allow for an introduction.

[Page 4378]

MR. BOUDREAU: Certainly, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. KERRY MORASH: Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member for allowing me this opportunity. I would like to introduce to you and all members of the House, I believe, 18 Grade 9 social studies students in the east gallery from North Queens Rural High School. They are accompanied by Mrs. Uhlman, who is here to chaperone them today. Their teacher is Marie MacLeod, who has been bringing classes to this House for the past 15 years. Earlier this week I was fortunate enough to be able to do a resolution commending her for doing that. I would ask them to rise and receive the warm welcome of the House. (Applause)

MR. BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, it is kind of baffling why this bill is before the House, but if the government was at all sincere about this bill, if they were really sincere they would support the six months' hoist because it would provide that government an opportunity to discuss the issue with the UNSM, the Medical Society, various councils of municipalities throughout the province, and it would provide an opportunity for the taxpayers of this province to tell and provide their opinions on whether they feel that government should use their property tax dollars to top-up salaries for doctors in this province.

Mr. Speaker, it would be hard for me to believe that municipalities are willing to increase property taxes, because there is no way, if this is going to balloon into an all-out war now between municipal units, what we are really going to see is an increase, in some municipalities, in their property taxes to cover the expenses to subsidize doctors' salaries. Is that proper? No, it isn't proper. It isn't proper and those members over there know it. There is enough former municipal representation on that side of that House. At least one in the Cabinet, so they don't have to go outside the Cabinet Room to get any input because the Minister of Community Services is the former Mayor of Bedford. Whether Bedford can afford to top up the salaries, I would suggest yes, they probably can. I don't know too many people who don't have paved driveways and two and three car garages in Bedford. So if he could afford it that may be another case; however, there are areas in this municipality that cannot and that is clear. It is obvious and it is straightforward.

[3:00 p.m.]

When the bill passes, if it is legal - and they have no knowledge on that side of the House whether this is legal or not, because they haven't checked - then, if it is legal, it opens up a whole big can of worms because all the municipalities can then claim to fall under this category. That is the kind of division that they are causing the municipal units in the province. Bickering, snickering division. It seems more like activity that we have seen in foreign countries in the 1940's and not in this province or this country.

[Page 4379]

It is bizarre. It is bizarre because it is wrong. It is wrong because they are downloading and dumping the responsibility for the recruitment of doctors right on the doorsteps of the municipal units of this province. I would suggest that Barrington won't have a chance. If a bidding war breaks out, there are areas like Truro, that the good minister - we have to remind Nova Scotians that he is from one of the richer areas of the province also, we shouldn't forget - but if Barrington has to get into a bidding war with the HRM, Truro, New Glasgow, where will they end up in that list? The small towns in this province, the municipalities cannot afford this. It is unfair to even suggest to take this burden and just dump it on the municipal taxpayer in the province. It is a shame.

We see it with every issue these guys deal with - every issue that they deal with - Sunday shopping - what did they do? They dump right on top of the municipalities. We have a graduate from Johnny Buchanan's school of political learning in the Finance Minister. I am not sure if it was him who graduated first or the honourable Minister of Transportation and Public Works, but it is very obvious that the two of them are graduates. The debt that they are adding on the province is unbelievable. An extra $70 million this year. In fact, at the end of their term, we will be paying over $0.5 billion more to the banks because of choices that Finance Minister has made.

Not only that, we have a Premier who didn't even have any knowledge that the debt would increase on a steady basis until the year 2007. He was totally dumbfounded when asked and questioned in this House on that question. He wasn't aware - now, why wasn't he aware? There are only two reasons why. Either he has no communication level whatsoever with the Minister of Finance or the Minister of Finance didn't know and wasn't aware either. He didn't know to tell the Premier.

I would suggest that watching the Johnny Buchanan years in this province that is the way they did business. That is the way the business of the government of the day and that is why we are in debt today in this province. That minister is adding on, approximately, on average, $3.5 million a day on the debt - $70 million more this year, and they wonder why they can't give the Municipality of Barrington a lousy $4,000 a month to help cover the costs of heat and lights in the medical facility. It is disgusting; it is nothing short of disgusting why these honourable gentlemen would even attempt to do what they are doing.

Barrington is probably going to end up on the short end of the stick because, when the bidding starts, when a doctor says he is available to move to Nova Scotia, guess what? There is no secret that many, many communities in this province require the services of a health professional, so do you really believe that they are going to sit back and allow the Municipality of Barrington to take right out from underneath them a real medical professional when that minister can't bring or entice medical professionals to come to this province.

[Page 4380]

He is a failure. Look at the way he is dealing with nurses. It's no wonder the municipality wrote this letter, because they have no faith, it is obvious they recognize there is no ability in that department to bring doctors to this province, none. I can assure all honourable members in this House and Nova Scotians, I know that first-hand - without the good services of Dr. Naqvi in the CBRM, in the regional health authority in Cape Breton, he is the only recruitment we have - there is absolutely no effort whatsoever out of that honourable minister or any of his high-salaried imports that he brought in here to run the health system in this province.

Not one initiative, in fact, if you ask him he hangs his head in shame. It's no wonder he doesn't have the funding, because the Finance Minister - the graduate from John Buchanan's school of learning - is adding $70 million per year on the money we pay to the banks. He doesn't know anything about bracket creep and he doesn't know yet if he is correct on the equalization payments that come from Ottawa. The guy is just totally out of control; I don't understand what's going on over there.

The UNSM last year, when they dumped the equalization problem on their laps, wrote a letter to the Premier and to the minister and asked for two things. The first thing they asked for was an extension of time, because the good minister found it in his heart to only provide 30 days for municipal units to review that process. So the UNSM requested a 90 day extension, and it was granted; the good minister, and the Premier actually, made the commitment to extend that length of time.

The second thing, and the most important thing the UNSM asked for, was to see some leadership from over there, because they couldn't find any. I talked to many of the mayors and wardens and councillors throughout this province and you know what? They are still looking. They have looked and they continue to look for the leadership that is required to run a provincial government in this province. There is not one of them over there who can carry the title of leader, not one of them.

You can look at the Minister of Economic Development, just look at what he has done to the economic development body in this province. Just a short two years ago, we in this province were number one for economic growth. When that gang took over from the previous government and my colleagues, this province was number one in Canada for economic growth at that time. Because of the direction and the leadership provided by the member for Cape Breton South as the Minister of Economic Development, that's why the province was number one. Mr. Speaker, where is it now? The last time I checked we were ninth, number 9 out of 11 and still tumbling toward the ground.

Mr. Speaker, all we have to do is look at the Minister of Health, the graduate of the Johnny Buchanan school of political learning. He doesn't know anything about bracket creep. He doesn't understand the situation. It is quite clear, even I can see that with his replies to the questions from my colleague for Lunenburg West. He doesn't know the issue.

[Page 4381]

He doesn't understand it and it appears he couldn't care less, although it is costing Nova Scotians millions more in tax dollars that he is reaping from their pockets each year. Yet he has no interest in learning anything about bracket creep.

He doesn't know anything or he is not even sure if he is correct when he discusses the equalization payments from Ottawa. He doesn't know if his figures are correct or if the figures that Ottawa provided this caucus are correct. He hasn't got any vision whatsoever, none. Mr. Speaker, he has been successful in adding approximately $3.5 million per day on the debt load of the taxpayers of this province, at a cost of approximately $70 million per year more that we pay to the banks that we owe on the interest that was left over from the Johnny Buchanan days from 1978 to 1993. All through the 1980's, all they did was borrow money here. You need something? We will borrow the money and we will give it to you and now we have to pay for their mistakes.

HON. NEIL LEBLANC: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I don't want to interrupt the member opposite's speech too much, however I think it is important that he said, three or four different times today, I think there was another statement by the Liberal caucus that we have added $2 billion to the debt since we have taken over and he mentions the fact, as he says, it is $3.5 million a day that we have added. That is completely false. It is nowhere close to it and I think it is important for the members of the House that they should be made aware of that.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. That is not a point of order. The honourable member for Cape Breton The Lakes has the floor.

MR. BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, I will challenge the minister.

AN HON. MEMBER: Oh, no. Go outside.

MR. BOUDREAU: Bring in the total figures of how much debt he added on the Province of Nova Scotia since he assumed those duties. Bring it in and table it and divide it by the number of days. It adds up to approximately $3.5 million per day at a cost . . . (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I am looking for just a little bit more order. That is fine. Thank you. The member for Cape Breton The Lakes has the floor.

MR. BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, the minister over there gets all upset when I bring these figures out, but I challenged him the other day and he has yet to bring in and table the documentation. I will make the commitment to rise on my feet and apologize to that minister if I am wrong. But he won't bring it in and he won't table it because I am right and he knows it. You know what? The more I learn of that gang over there, I don't think they could run a vacant farm.

[Page 4382]

AN HON. MEMBER: What kind of a farm?

MR. BOUDREAU: They couldn't run a vacant farm.

AN. HON. MEMBER: A vacant farm, I thought it was a baby farm.

[3:15 p.m.]

MR. BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, they are like a big country home with all their lights on and nobody home. They really don't have any interest. This issue would provide three ministers, the Minister of Health, the Minister of Finance and the Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations, an opportunity to gain an input into what Nova Scotians really think about this bill. They could provide for this six months' hoist that would allow the Medical Society to have an input. It would allow the UNSM an opportunity to have an input.

I see some of them over there shaking their heads but they are pretty quiet. They have the same privileges as I do in this House. If they are in support of the bill and we, over here, are wrong, why don't they stand in their place - I will challenge them - and do what I am doing. Stand up and tell us why they believe this bill is so right.

Now, Mr. Speaker, I think in all fairness, I am familiar with some of those guys over there, those honourable gentleman . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: Don't forget Mary Ann.

MR. BOUDREAU: . . . this is not a personality thing. I have said this before in this House, that in their municipal days they must have shared some level of success, and I think it is fair for me to say that about myself or I wouldn't be here.

MR. FRANK CHIPMAN: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. The honourable member refers to the honourable gentleman but there are two members of the feminine gender here and it should be honourable members, not honourable gentlemen.

MR. SPEAKER: It is not a point of order. It is a good point though.

The member for Cape Breton The Lakes has the floor.

MR. BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, it is very obvious and I will go on record as saying, yes, there are three ladies over there and they are very honourable ladies, there is no doubt. But to my knowledge, at least, none of the three ladies served on municipal councils, particularly, when I was involved in the municipal system. My remarks refer to my municipal days in which I am referring to the honourable gentlemen over there, because the honourable

[Page 4383]

ladies, to my knowledge, were not part and parcel or participated in any municipal experience, certainly not while I served as a municipal councillor. I stand to be corrected on that.

The honourable member should listen to what I am saying, this is what's wrong over there. These members, they don't listen. They get something in their head and I don't know if they hear voices or what, there is something floating around over there in their caucus room, nobody can understand it, if they are eating bad food or what's wrong with these guys.

I used to attend UNSM conventions and some of these gentlemen, Mr. Speaker, would be up shooting - and standing up very strongly for the municipal taxpayer. But now, they go silent. It is just like they never learned anything from their days as municipal representatives. They didn't learn a darn thing. They didn't carry any knowledge whatsoever of what they earned or learned during those days into this House. We see it issue after issue after issue. The six months' hoist is so important because that would maybe provide this government an opportunity to pinch itself, to wake up and come to the reality of the real issues facing Nova Scotians today. That, I would suggest, should not be dumped on top of the laps of municipalities. It is not right for this bill and that is why this caucus is so strongly against this type of legislation.

It is wrong and those gentlemen over there know it is wrong. They know it is wrong. The presenter of this bill knows it is wrong. He knows. There are no false excuses here. They know that this document is wrong and that there is a system in place to consult with the UNSM, in particular, and through the UNSM they can communicate with all the municipal units right across the province.

Why are they afraid to communicate with the municipal units? Somebody rise up and tell me why you are afraid to work with your former colleagues for the betterment of our province. Why won't you honourable gentlemen do that?

It is absolutely disgusting when you have to pit one community against the other, one council against another, one municipal councillor or representative against another. This is what they are doing.

We are supposed to forget about the chaos. There has been nothing but chaos. Look at the Premier. A national embarrassment to our province. He went and poked his nose in the Laurentian Sub-basin and got politics involved, instead of allowing the hired proper paid professionals to deal with the issue. They had to get politics involved. Then he looks at his Campaign for Fairness and then just recently we realized he receives more money than any other province in Canada. You know, duh, wake up, smell the roses, gentlemen. You are headed in the wrong direction.

[Page 4384]

The debt is accumulating. It is increasing at a rapid pace and it is going to be more difficult to deal with than the deficit. You see, they are playing a little game over there that could take six months to explain this to Nova Scotians - what the difference is between the deficit and the debt? And that is what the Finance Minister hopes to achieve to confuse the two issues. But I can assure you that minister is not going to confuse anything. Not with our critic and our member for Lunenburg West as a critic for the Liberal Party for the finance department. He will not get away with that confusion and he already knows that. He has been made looking foolish over the bracket creep, over the increase in the debt already. He didn't realize the debt would increase at a steady pace until the year 2007. He doesn't understand that he has the most important ministerial duties of all over there when it comes to finances in this province.

So, what do you do with them? You can't shuffle them around, what do you get if you shuffle them around? They are like a deck of cards with no trumps. There are no trumps over there. It is obvious the Wal-Mart greeter is over there and he doesn't have a full deck, everybody in Nova Scotia knows that. That is no secret.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I would remind the members that if the arguments and the debate they are involved in would not get personal please. That applies to all members in the House. The member for Cape Breton The Lakes has the floor.

MR. BOUDREAU: I never try to get too personal in this game, but the honourable member for Preston wants a debate, well rise. I don't know what he is telling the residents and the people he represents, it is very clear, he has the same rights in this House as I do. I can rise on my feet and speak whenever I and my colleagues deem it necessary, he has that right also. Maybe I shouldn't say it, I don't want everybody in Nova Scotia to think they are being led by the chain. As I indicated many times when I spoke, there are many individuals in that back row with more, in my opinion, credibility than that gang up in the front. You could do just as good a job and disrupt things and create and destroy and rip and tear as well as anybody over there, that is all we have seen.

Maybe six months is very good. These honourable gentlemen and ladies should really consider the six months' hoist. They should really consider taking six months and allowing the people to provide an input into the direction that gang is going over there. They are going down. It is like the province is in free fall. It is like flying a kite and the wind is starting the downturn. They are going nowhere but crash. In fact, the Premier is probably going to be the quickest Premier to crash of any Premier in recent memory. They have the Minister of Economic Development, he is pretty good, he's a real dandy, he destroyed the entire Department of Economic Development in 20 months. That is pretty good.

It is alarming when you really think of the impact that these people are having on the daily lives of Nova Scotians. We have people down in the CBRM, and I don't mind saying it, who are struggling on a regular daily basis to pay their taxes now, their property taxes,

[Page 4385]

they are struggling. In case any of them are interested over there, there is very little employment opportunity there and no activity from that government to provide any. In fact, the Premier replied to me, he indicated he created more employment in Cape Breton than any other government. I will put the numbers up, and I will guarantee you that he took more jobs out of Cape Breton than he created. He didn't create any. He only created one single job that I know of, the other jobs are all federally-initiated jobs that they had no option but to fund because if they hadn't funded them, then the federal government probably would have made some manoeuvres. I don't know what type of manoeuvres because I don't know who over there has any negotiating skills, because they certainly are not up front and centre, they are not obvious to Nova Scotians.

Where does that leave us? That leaves us with the little Municipality of Barrington having to write this government because the minister hasn't got the ability to deal with his responsibilities in recruiting medical professionals into this province, particularly in rural areas like Barrington. What is their answer to that? The bill, which will dump that responsibility on that little municipality. What they fail to recognize is that the larger units are not going to stand by and allow the little municipalities like Barrington to step on their toes.

[3:30 p.m.]

The larger units like Truro and New Glasgow and Halifax, and there are others, are going to start bidding along with these smaller and poorer municipal units. It is unfair competition. That is what it is. It is unfair and it has been created to be unfair. It is designed to fail and it is wrong and they know it. They know it because they have enough years of municipal experience years over there. If I added up the years, I am sure there is a significant amount of years of municipal service over there from those backbenchers.

The Minister of Community Services should hang his head in shame. That individual was involved, to my knowledge, with the UNSM executive at one level. Maybe I will stand to be corrected because maybe he wasn't smart enough to participate at that level. That doesn't mean he is not a bad guy. I don't want to sound like I am attacking him because he does seem to be a reasonable individual and I am not trying to pick on his character. But their abilities, we will talk about these ministers' abilities a little more in the next sitting of the House, I can assure the honourable members over there. I know my time is up, Mr. Speaker, and I will take my place.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Lunenburg West.

MR. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today and talk about the hoisting of Bill No. 54. I first want to congratulate the previous speaker for Cape Breton The Lakes. He did an excellent job. As a former councillor, he understands all too well the slippery slope that this government is trying to take Nova Scotia on. As a former municipal

[Page 4386]

councillor and Deputy Mayor of CBRM, he understands that this government is trying to put Nova Scotia municipalities on a slippery slope of competition, competing rich against poor, small against large, benefits versus non-benefits, from one end of this province to another.

The member for Cape Breton The Lakes understands all too well that this bill, in its present form, undermines the principles of what we are trying to establish here and that is what taxpayer responsibilities are truly for and what property taxpayers' responsibilities are truly for. One thing that this Liberal Government has stood on is number one on the issue they talked about, when they were trying to drive down the proverbial throats of Nova Scotians on the issue of equalization, that property taxes are not the answer. Now what they are trying to do is drive down the proverbial throats of Nova Scotians is that taxpayers in this province should not be paying for doctors in the Province of Nova Scotia. That is not the responsibility of taxpayers.

The member for Shelburne reminds me to some degree of Rodney Dangerfield's comments, no respect. I have no respect, as Rodney Dangerfield says at different times. I hear him on the radio and he tells these kind of jokes. He says, nobody respects me. Well maybe that is how the member for Shelburne, who represents Barrington, feels. Maybe he feels that he has no respect amongst that Tory fold across the way. Maybe that member for Shelburne, that beautiful community of Shelburne, feels that his own people do not respect him. I note the member for Shelburne maybe wants the floor to say a few words. But, no, maybe he just wants to heckle.

AN HON. MEMBER: Landslide Cecil.

MR. DOWNE: Landslide Cecil, yes. He feels like he has no respect. He gets in here and he tries to fight for the people of Shelburne, but I think he picked the wrong Party to go for, because since he has been in there, his own Party has almost turned against him. I feel bad for him because he is a nice gentleman. I feel bad for him that his own Party has kind of caved in on him. You think of the different things that have happened in that area, whether it is the Roseway Hospital or whatever, this poor member feels like his back is against the wall. It is like an animal in the wild when they are scared; what they do is they go into their den and they just back against the wall and they are ready to fight it out.

The sad part about it is his own Party put him in that position. It must burn him right to the core; it must make him so frustrated right to the core; it must hurt him right to the core. When you have member, a brand new member for Cape Breton North who walks in, snaps his fingers and 48 hours later a doctor is going to be going to his riding. It must absolutely drive him crazy to think a member from down in Shelburne, the first Tory elected in Shelburne for how many years, a long time, the first Tory and probably the last Tory that will be elected in Shelburne for a long, long time, because his own Party doesn't respect him. If they respected him, why wouldn't they have put a doctor in Barrington a long time ago.

[Page 4387]

It was our Health Critic, Dr. James Smith, in the year 2000, that brought to the attention of the Minister of Health the need for a doctor and the assistance needed in Barrington. It was our Liberal caucus that was fighting for the member for Shelburne at that time. And do you know what, we were given opposition. That government opposed what this Party was all about, helping the good people of Barrington. That member is so far in the backbench his back is against the wall.

AN HON. MEMBER: He's going to leave. He can't take it any more. He's going out of the room. (Interruptions)

MR. DOWNE: When I say his back is against the wall, he is in the back row. That is not any indication of the calibre of person, it is the indication of how little respect that Tory Government has for that member sitting at the back of the room. The brand new minted, new, possible Cabinet Minister for Cape Breton North snaps his proverbial little fingers and bango, poof, here comes a brand new doctor.

AN HON. MEMBER: He will be running things over there in six months.

MR. DOWNE: Absolutely. I can't understand it. The member for Shelburne must feel like a failure; deep down inside he must feel like a failure to the people of Shelburne and the people of Barrington, because every time he goes to fight for issues in his own riding he hits a wall, he hits a Tory wall. He hits a Tory wall that is now suggesting to the people of Barrington . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: . . . They gave up on that seat.

MR. DOWNE: . . . they have given up on that seat. They have already determined that they are not going to get that seat back, so they don't care. They have a few resources around there, and what they are going to do is they are going to pick areas that they think are strategic for them. They have already written off Shelburne. They have already written off the area of Shelburne. I can understand why, because the member for Shelburne doesn't get any help from these guys.

Now, the Cape Breton North member, in 48 hours a doctor is there; and the member for Shelburne, zero. I can understand why the member for Shelburne is upset. I can understand why he is hurting and why he is mad. I understand why the good member for Shelburne is feeling like nobody is listening, like Rodney Dangerfield has said before, nobody respects me, no respect. I believe this member is prepared to stand on the hill and go down on the hill on this bill, and I ask myself the question, why. Why is he so misunderstanding of the reality of what this government, what he is doing and what they can do?

[Page 4388]

This bill, if it is about providing basic amenities such as facilities and things of that nature that are done around the province, we have said that is fine, it is being done, not the issue. The fundamental principle for which this Party is standing up - and I note with interest we are not seeing very many members of the New Democratic Party standing up - is the issue of the fact that property taxes should be going to pay salaries of doctors. I don't know why these ones over here are not standing up, fighting on behalf of the rights of the property taxpayers of this province paying for salaries of doctors. They are standing up saying yes. I remember their Leader yesterday standing up in this House saying yes, yes, bring them on, we think that property taxpayers in Nova Scotia should be subsidizing the salaries of doctors throughout Nova Scotia.

AN HON. MEMBER: Shame.

MR. DOWNE: Shame on that Leader, shame on that member and shame on this member who is . . .

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

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order, something happened. I fell into a trance and I actually started listening to the member for Lunenburg West. (Interruptions) and, what I heard the member say, he was misrepresenting the comments made by the Leader of the NDP yesterday by suggesting that the Leader had supported or was supporting the use of property taxes to supplement doctors' incomes, and that was not the position articulated by the Leader of the NDP, nor by any member of the NDP caucus. I think it is important that we set the record straight and that that member desist from misrepresenting positions of this caucus. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the member's comments (Interruptions) I think the member, I would say, . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Honourable members, there is far, far too much . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: Chatter.

MR. SPEAKER: Yes, chatter and din in the old Chamber here and I would ask honourable members to please bring themselves to order. The honourable member for Lunenburg West does have the floor and we would ask him to continue with his dissertation.

MR. DOWNE: The member for Halifax Atlantic, I think he can strike off his resumé spin doctor because, I don't know, he hasn't been able to spin doctor this story out. The bottom line is the New Democrats, by supporting this bill, are saying they support property

[Page 4389]

taxpayers in the Province of Nova Scotia subsidizing doctors, and that is wrong, Mr. Speaker. That is absolutely wrong.

I would like to say it was interesting. We have now seen somewhat - I don't know if the muzzle has been put on some of the members, on the New Democrats because the other day a couple of them stood up for the principles that we are talking about here in the Liberal Party. I know deep down inside they do agree that property taxpayers should not be subsidizing the salaries of doctors and a few of them stood up and fought against that because they know that it is a slippery slope that that Tory Government is trying to drive down the throats of Nova Scotians, and trying to pit one end against the other

AN HON. MEMBER: Dartmouth North and Cape Breton Centre.

[3:45 p.m.]

MR. DOWNE: Dartmouth North and Cape Breton Centre. I want to applaud those two members, from Dartmouth North and Cape Breton Centre, for standing up and speaking because they spoke very well in committee. I want to congratulate them. Their time will come that they can stand up again, unless their Leader, the interim Leader, who just went out and said yes, the New Democrats - I don't know how they are going to get up in Cape Breton, when they go to Cape Breton this weekend, and stand up in front of Cape Bretoners and say, we support property taxpayers to pay for doctors. You know what? I wonder if you have lots of money up in Cape Breton to be able to take it and pay for doctors up there, pitting one community against the other. So I hope those two members who spoke the other day will stand up and in this House and speak as articulately as they did and as compassionately as they did when they were in committee because I think they had a lot of good comments to make.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to move to the bill. The issue here is that the good people of Shelburne and the good people of Barrington are frustrated, mad and disappointed. I have always liked the people of Barrington. (Interruptions) That is the gentleman over there who said that kids shouldn't have to wear helmets.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member for Lunenburg West shouldn't get sidetracked by some of the extracurricular conversations that are taking place in the Chamber.

MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, we used call them rabbit tracks and that is right; they are only like little bunnies in the back there and they are like bunny tracks.

Those people in Barrington are mad and they are scared and they are frustrated. They are frustrated because they want and they need a doctor in Barrington. So what do they normally do? They go to their MLA and they say to the MLA, we have a problem, we have

[Page 4390]

a huge problem in our area. We need a doctor. We remember the Liberals standing up back in the year 2000, I think the month was November, who said we need help in Barrington. They remember that. Now they go to the MLA, and they have known him a long time, and they say to the member for Shelburne - Barrington is in it - we need a doctor. We need to get some help.

He said, well, I am working hard. I am fighting with the Minister of Health and I have gone to the Premier and I have gone to the Minister of Finance but I am not having a lot of luck. All of a sudden the member for Cape Breton North gets in the newspaper that he gets a doctor like that. Well, the poor people of Barrington just felt like they have been ignored. My gosh, what happened? Where did our doctor go? We have been asking for a doctor for awhile. This young guy, this new guy who gets in there, bango, he gets a doctor. So you can tell where the priorities are of this government in regard to the whole County of Shelburne.

The other part, the bill, there are some areas of the bill that I think are getting caught up in misunderstanding. Our basic frustration with the bill is very simple and very basic. Now listen to this, we are saying that property taxpayers should not be subsidizing the salary of doctors. So how many on that side of the room over there agree with that statement? (Interruption) The member in the back is saying, change it. This House has the ability to do anything we want to do with unanimous consent. We have done it in the past and I have seen it done many times. We can do whatever we want, but if you have the intestinal fortitude to support that initiative, then stand up because we can find a solution to this problem here today.

AN HON. MEMBER: Right now.

MR. DOWNE: Right now. You can do it right now and we can make that solution right now because I know that member for Shelburne is not wanting the property taxpayers to subsidize the salary of a doctor. But we can get an understanding right here today if they are prepared to stand up and say, that is not what we want. We offered them an amendment. We have given an amendment. We have shown them the amendment and the amendment is clear right here in the definition of the issue of grant. We are prepared to back that up in support of the member who supported - I don't know what the New Democrats would do - an all-Party committee, and we can resolve the problem and do everything in our power to do what is important here today and that is to get a doctor in Barrington Passage. That is what we should be doing, fighting to get a doctor for the people of Barrington.

The choice is yours, member, you have respect on this side of the House if you are prepared to convince your people on that side that that amendment is all it takes to make this thing work, to fight for the people of Barrington, to fight for the people of Shelburne and to do all in our power to get a doctor in that area that is badly needed. We are sincere on that. We will waive any kind of protocol, we can have an all-Party committee to make it happen. The Government House Leader knows that can be done. The Speaker knows that can be

[Page 4391]

done. The New Democratic House Leader knows that it can be done and the Liberal House Leader knows it can be done.

We have the power to do it right here today, but instead there is another agenda on behalf of the Tory Government, because if that simple solution to resolve this problem is not accepted, then maybe this government's long-term plan is to start a process of turning toward the property owners and property taxpayers of this province to be paying for health care delivery. Maybe we are on that slippery slope.

I don't think the Minister of Health wants to do that. But if that is the strategy, where does it end? Where does it go? Who's rich and who's poor? What community? Does Queens County have more money than Barrington? Are they going to be able buy more doctors and medical people than Barrington? Or what happens when you start pitting a community of HRM or in Chester-St. Margaret's against Truro or against some of the poorer communities? Wake up back there, you guys, wake up. That's what we are talking about here. We are talking about the fact that this bill talks about paying the salary and we are saying that is wrong. It is fundamentally wrong. It is ethically wrong and I want you to know that we are wanting to find a compromise to make it better.

Just a few moments ago, I understand that the member for Shelburne had a chance to talk to the Warden of Shelburne. I just wonder what the warden had to say, I wonder what she had to say, I wonder what words of wisdom she gave to that member. I wonder how many of you who are across the way had a chance to talk to your mayor, to your wardens and ask them, what do they feel about the fact that property taxpayers, under this bill - it can be interpreted this way, legally we have checked it out, it is interpreted this way - will pay salaries of doctors. Now, how many of you have talked to your wardens and talked to your mayors in your communities and asked, do you think this is the right way to go?

I wonder if the Minister of Tourism has talked to his people? I wonder if the Minister of Transportation and Public Works has talked to his mayor? It seems to me that if he did, he might be willing to realize that the simple amendment that we are bringing forward resolves this problem. We are not here just to criticize a bill, we are here with a solution to a problem. That's is what you have asked us to do and that is what we have done.

We have brought here an issue of principle, and we are talking on principle, and we have brought forward an amendment that will rectify the issue that we are standing here debating. It won't take away from the intent - on what I think the intent was when I talked to the backbenchers and others in the front row, I have talked to you about this - and what you said the intent is, our amendment does not take away from any of the intent of what you think this bill is all about. So in other words, it is a win-win situation. Isn't that what we are supposed to do, find a win-win situation?

[Page 4392]

I wonder how many government members have called or spoken to their respective mayors and wardens here today. Is anybody over there willing to raise their hand to say that they have spoken to their mayor or warden today? Is there anybody willing to put their hand up across the way? Did anybody call their mayor or warden today? Did the Minister of Transportation and Public Works call his mayor or warden today and ask them how they feel about it?

AN HON. MEMBER: He already knows how she feels about it. They are against it.

MR. DOWNE: Rule number one, I am not allowed to talk across the floor. Well, through you, Mr. Speaker, to the members opposite, would they please raise their hands, those of you who have taken the liberty and the time to phone their mayor or warden today to ask for input in this particular bill? (Interruptions) I wonder if the Warden of East Hants is opposed; the president of UNSM, the Mayor of Windsor? Whose is the riding of Windsor? Let me think. Somebody in the front row I think. It is somebody in the front row.

Mr. Speaker, through you, to the minister in the front row, representing Windsor, did he talk to the president of the UNSM, who happens to be the Mayor of Windsor, about this bill? (Interruptions) You have to answer through the Speaker. Oh, oh, well, I thought he was trying to answer me. (Interruptions) I know you know the rules, but do you know what your mayor is saying, Mr. Minister, do you know what your mayor is saying? Your mayor is saying, no, we don't agree with the intent of what this bill is able to do. We are not in agreement with what this bill is able to do.

AN HON. MEMBER: . . . tell us what you really want to do and we will go home. We know what you are trying to pull off.

MR. DOWNE: I just wonder if the member for Shelburne would stand in this House and relay what was said to him just a few moments ago when he had a chance to talk with the mayor of Shelburne?

AN HON. MEMBER: The warden.

MR. DOWNE: The warden. The member is a good individual, he is a fine gentleman. As a person he is a fine individual, but he doesn't have the support over there that he needs in order to make this thing work. We are willing, on this side, to give him all the support he needs to get a doctor in Barrington by simply taking a look at the amendment we have brought in, an amendment that is so basic, so simple, so clear, it just clarifies the whole issue of grants. It doesn't take away from the ability for the community to do what it can in regard to facilities and so on and so forth. Our comments are, it takes away the ability of a municipality to be able to pay the salary of a doctor - a slippery slope.

AN HON. MEMBER: Yes, that is all.

[Page 4393]

MR. DOWNE: And that is all we are trying to do, to say to the taxpayers, the property taxpayers in Nova Scotia, your property taxes shouldn't be used to pay the salaries of doctors.

AN HON. MEMBER: So if they don't agree with that they must have another agenda.

MR. DOWNE: This is what we are saying. I don't understand where the gridlock is. I don't understand where the wall is. The people across the way, it shouldn't be all that hard to understand us. Even in the Coast Guard County Newspaper they point out, taxpayers are already paying for health care in their provincial taxes, and the Barrington bill, in fact, could take the power away from the district health authorities and community health boards set up to ensure that health services at a local level are properly looked after by the Department of Health.

The Coast Guard understands; the Coast Guard is the voice of the people. They understand. Mr. Blades who wrote this story understood very clearly the implication of this bill, he understood very clearly what this bill could do. They all sit over there like bumps on a log. Can't they understand that either the government intention, long term, is to change the tax structure in the Province of Nova Scotia so that property taxpayers are going to be used to subsidize all the issues of health care in this province, or they are just prepared to fight it out, because they don't care about principle; they don't care about standing on merit, on principle, on ethics and doing the ethical thing; doing what is right. I wonder how those members across the way when they go back home are going to say to their people, yes, whether you live in Chester-St. Margaret's or whether you live in Pictou County or wherever you live in this beautiful province, you the property taxpayers are going to be starting to subsidize doctors and possibly nurses and whatever other health professional you want. How are they going to justify that? How are the New Democrats going to be able to back that up is beyond me when they head up to Cape Breton over the weekend. I don't know. I think somebody has missed the picture.

[4:00 p.m.]

Page 10 of the Tory blue book, the government made six promises about recruiting doctors and retaining doctors in Nova Scotia. Nowhere in this Tory blue book - the $46 million quick fix for health - nowhere in that book did the government say that it would demand municipalities to subsidize the salary of doctors. Nor did that book go on to say that they are going to pit municipality against municipality, nowhere in this blue book where it says that we are going to pit the rich against the poor. Think about it. Legal counsel has said they could interpret this bill to mean that property taxpayers are going to subsidize the salary of doctors and if that goes forward, then you guys realize what you have done. You have opened up a can of worms. You have pitted rich against poor. You have set up a battle zone of urban and rural. You have created a great deal of anarchy in a system that can be all resolved, all made whole, all fixed by just accepting a simple amendment that our Party has

[Page 4394]

brought forward in regard to the definition of the word grant. This can be all fixed up by defining the fact that grants would not be used, property taxpayers would not be used to subsidize the direct salary of a doctor. Then the whole problem goes away.

We can resolve this and go forward with the agenda of government. It is so simple, it is scary. It is so simple for this government that it bothers me why they don't want to understand this approach. It is so simple and basic, either they are not wanting to listen, they don't care to listen, they have another agenda or they are just too darn stubborn to pay attention to a recommendation because it happens to come from the Liberal Party. They are the government. Just because you are the government, it doesn't mean that you have every bright idea in the book.

The Tory blue book said it would create community health boards and consult with doctors. That was their promise. I applaud the Municipality of Barrington for trying to do something, anything, anything at all to find a doctor for the people of that area. They are desperate. They are scared, they are worried and I would be too. Some people say, I don't mind, people choose where they live, but if I lived there, and my parents lived there, I would be worried. No wonder the member for Shelburne, who represents Barrington, is prepared to fight hard on this matter and we are prepared to fight with him and for him, but we need to make sure that we are fighting for the right issue. That is what we are trying to clarify here today. A bidding war for doctors means that poorer municipalities will lose and that is not right.

This is a sad day in many ways, it is a sad day that this house has to be held up on going forward with government bills because of the fact that this government is so stubborn and they are so locked in that they cannot understand common sense when they see it. They cannot understand common sense when they hear it. They cannot understand when a solution is laid out before them, how we can find a way to have a win-win situation, a win-win for the people of Barrington, a win-win for the rural communities of Nova Scotia, a win-win for the member for Shelburne, a win-win for rural Nova Scotia and a win for the communities that do not have the financial capability of getting into a bidding war for doctors.

Some people would like to portray this bill as a case of communities doing what they have always done. We have heard that argument in the House. I remember the Premier saying, well, this is being done all over the place. It is my view and my understanding that municipalities have never paid the salary of a doctor. We have asked the Premier, if communities in the Province of Nova Scotia pay the salaries of doctors, to please simply table that list of communities. We have asked the Minister of Health, if there are communities that have paid the salaries of doctors, simply bring that information to the floor.

We have never seen it, so either it doesn't exist or they are afraid to share information that we don't seem to be able to find. If they did, municipalities - the issue here is that municipalities in the Province of Nova Scotia, in my view, have not been paying the direct

[Page 4395]

salary of doctors in Nova Scotia. If they did, then that information would be coming forward. You know, they say on this side of the House, in Question Period today they said, what are you worried about in this bill? We have done similar kinds of things around the province. We have paid for clinics. Well, we support that; we say that is fine, we don't have a problem with that.

Well, if there is no problem with it, why do you need a bill? Well, I have heard some people say, we want to legitimize it. The only thing I see they want to legitimize is that the people of Barrington, the property taxpayers of Barrington, are going to be taking their property taxes and subsidizing the salaries of doctors. If that is the case, then it is wrong. The member for Shelburne would agree with me, wouldn't he? Through you, Mr. Speaker, to the member for Shelburne, would you agree with me, yes or no? (Interruptions)

Here is what the Tory - yes, we have - here is what the Tory blue book said about doctor recruitment, "In consultation with the Nova Scotia Medical Society . . .", immediately take steps to address the chronic shortage of family physicians in communities across Nova Scotia. Well, I wonder if this Tory blue book promise, in fact, is what we are seeing in this Bill No. 54 that we have before us today. I don't know, I don't think so. Has the Medical Society even been consulted on this bill? Has anybody asked that question? Has the Minister of Health asked that question? Has the Premier asked that question? Has the member for Shelburne asked that question, has the Medical Society been consulted on this bill?

What steps have been taken, Mr. Speaker, we do not know. It is clear that the government is not addressing the shortage of family physicians across this province - we know that - unless, of course, a Tory MLA screams loud, like the member for Cape Breton North. He screamed loud and got a doctor, just like that.

But, you know, the member for Richmond County, who is a Liberal, has been screaming about the need for a doctor in Richmond County, we have no doctor in Richmond County. You know what? Now we have a member for Shelburne and the government has turned its ear and its eye and its back and its heart on the good people of Shelburne by saying no to the people of Barrington. It appears to me that this Tory Government had favourites in the backbenches. Mr. [Deputy] Speaker, I don't think you are one of their biggest favourites, with all due respect. My sense is that because you have been there longer than most, you should be in the Cabinet but you are not.

They obviously have got their eye on the new guy from Cape Breton North. (Interruption) We like him in the Chair. He does a good job in the Chair, I compliment him in the Chair. He seems to be very fair. But the hierarchy of the front bench or whoever it is in the Tory Party seem to have turned their heart cold. They have let their heart get hardened to the good people of Shelburne; but by gosh, they sure seem to go after the new guy for Cape Breton North.

[Page 4396]

This Tory Government had a chance to help the people of Barrington get doctors' services last fall and they refused. November 7, 2000, Liberal Health Critic Jim Smith asked the minister if he would assist the Municipality of Barrington, pay overhead costs, office costs, for doctors in Yarmouth to come and fill in for the doctor who was absent. We brought that forward, to help pay the overhead. We don't mind that, we say, do something to help the people in Barrington. The answer was no. A few days later we learned that the municipality was told by the Department of Health not to accept any funding to keep the lights on and the heat on in the doctor's office, just $4,000 a month.

The Health Minister and the MLA had a tremendous opportunity to make sure that the people of Barrington were served by doctors but they refused. They refused and I don't know if the member for Shelburne understood the complexity of what we were bringing forward in the House. But, my gosh, he understands the complexity of the problem in Barrington today because they need a doctor. We have a solution, we can help find a solution and we are prepared to do everything in our power to help find a solution for the good people in Barrington but we will not support . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Would the honourable member for Lunenburg West entertain a question? I would be the first to admit that Question Period is over although it is up to the honourable member for Lunenburg West.

MR. DOWNE: I would be happy to answer a question from the member for Shelburne as long as he first answers a question from me. (Interruptions) The question is simple, does he support property taxpayers in Barrington using their property tax dollars to subsidize the salary of a doctor?

AN HON. MEMBER: Yes, let him get on his feet and answer that one.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. This is somewhat irregular but I could certainly ask the honourable member for Shelburne - I see he is on his feet - if he wants to answer the question.

MR. CECIL O'DONNELL: Mr. Speaker, I do support doctors coming to the Municipality of Barrington. But what I wanted to ask the honourable member or any of the members from the Liberal Party, will they come to Cape Sable Island, Shag Harbour, Woods Harbour, Barrington, Barrington Passage, Baccaro, Port La Tour, Clyde and Oak Park and stop and talk to the residents of the Municipality of the District Barrington and tell them why you are so opposed to a doctor coming to an area of the municipality. What have you got against the people of Barrington?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

[Page 4397]

MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, the answer to the problem is right here. That member over there, if he would learn to read the paper, he can find a solution for the people of Barrington and that's the question that he should ask himself. The people of Shelburne are going to hold him accountable, they are going to hold that government accountable because they let the people down. They had a chance to fix the problem and they blew it.

That member over there should be ashamed to ever walk back in Barrington when his own Warden of Shelburne said to him, shame on you. We have a solution here and we can find a solution here if he is willing to read the paper about the definition of grant and we can move forward. That good member over there knows that we can find that solution, and have a win-win situation. But either he is too stubborn or he hasn't read the paper. I don't know.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I wonder if I could ask the honourable member for Lunenburg West to speak to the six months' hoist now for a little while.

MR. DOWNE: All right, Mr. Speaker. It is so frustrating when you try to help people. You are trying to help them. That's all we are trying to do. We are trying to help this process and find a doctor for Barrington and you know, my gosh, you would think we were trying to push a mountain here. It is like trying to push a rope. They don't understand there is a solution right on the floor of the House here today and everybody could come out of this doing the right thing.

[4:15 p.m.]

AN HON. MEMBER: But they have another agenda.

MR. DOWNE: They have another agenda. It is obvious they have another agenda. I wonder how the people of Windsor are going to feel when their property taxes are going to be used to subsidize a doctor? They are going to be pretty upset. I think of the people in Barrington. I read the Municipality of the District of Barrington's letter, and what the motion says and what their definitions say are two different things. That is the point we have tried to make to the member. What the motion says and what the intent - we support the intent, we support your intent, member, we support the intent, we have no problem with that - but the motion itself, in the way it is put forward, and the way this bill is put forward, it allows for property taxes to be used to subsidize the salary of physicians.

That is what we oppose and, I think deep down, inside, that member opposes it as well. I think members on the front bench oppose it as well. We can find a solution by simply changing the definition of grant so that we don't get into a situation where grants are used, property taxpayers' dollars, to subsidize the direct salary of a doctor. We can find that solution. That is why I say we have the answer here, member, you have the solution before you. We are all prepared to make that solution work; we could put the energies of this House

[Page 4398]

together to fight. That Minister of Health hasn't been able to do it, and that Premier hasn't been able to do it, put together the fight to get a doctor in Barrington; that we support.

Mr. Speaker, it is so frustrating. I know that we are going to have a chance to speak on this matter for awhile, and I would like to make sure that my colleagues have a chance to speak today. I will say in closing that there is the Deputy Minister, Tom Ward, who doesn't agree with the principle of what is going on, and the list goes on and on and on. I will try to make it as simple and as basic as possible, Bill No. 54 - I have been sent a message here and I will read it, "Is the MLA from Shelburne willing to talk to the residents of Lockeport, Sable River, Shelburne, Ohio and other places, and say why he is trying to pit one section of his county against another?" I bet you the warden asked him that same question today. I bet the warden asked that same question today.

I will just sum it up and make it very simple, very basic, very clear - very simple, very clear - that we on this side of the House say that doctor recruitment, physician recruitment is very important. It is clear that the Tory Government has failed dramatically on the recruitment in rural Nova Scotia. They failed on that issue.

Number two, what we would like to say is that historically there have been communities in the province that have tried to lure doctors in by providing amenities such as facilities and things of that nature to help with infrastructure. We support that; we have no problem with that; we understand that is fair. You need to have a clinic; you need to have a facility in rural areas to be able to provide service for a doctor, and to make sure that the people in that community are looked after. We have no problem with that.

Number three, when we read the bill and we read the comments from the community, the Municipality of the District of Barrington, what they said in their motion and what they say in their preamble, or their definition of that motion, are two different things. So herein lies the problem, the problem is in definition of the issue of grant. We are saying that fundamentally, as Liberals, we disagree with the principle, that property taxpayers should not pay for the salary of doctors. That is number four.

Number five is, if that is the two different positions that are there, the solution is in having an amendment agreed to by the Parties on the definition of the word grant, thus allowing the member for Shelburne, who has been cast aside by his Party, has been pushed to the back by his Party, a chance to come out and show leadership and to find a solution. The people of Shelburne, the people of Barrington, more importantly, are not worried that that member defines the issue of grant one way or the other, they just want a doctor. I don't think anybody in Barrington wants their personal property taxes used to pay a salary of a doctor. They will help with the infrastructure of a doctor, but not the salary of a doctor. That is a responsibility of the Department of Health and the Treasury of the Province of Nova Scotia - full stop.

[Page 4399]

We have the solution before you. We have the amendment before you. It is going to be, obviously, the member for Shelburne's opportunity to find an answer and a solution to that dilemma. It is in his hands to make this work. It is in the Government House Leader's hands to make it work. It is in the Minister of Health's hands to make it work, to sit down with the member to make sure that what we are talking about is providing quality health care delivery in the community of Barrington and to find a doctor ASAP, but not to be able to charge property taxpayers their taxes to go to subsidize the salary of a doctor.

Mr. Speaker, I can't make it any clearer than that. I would hope that common sense will prevail and that this government will understand and wake up that all of us in this House can find solutions if we are prepared to not play politics but to go forward with an initiative that is fundamentally important for the people of Nova Scotia. We, in the Liberal Party, are prepared to do that. We will not play the games the New Democratic Party are doing, but we are here to find a solution with the government. With those few words I will now rest and allow the next speaker to have an opportunity to say a few words on this matter. Thank you.

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

MR. DAVID WILSON: Mr. Speaker, I am going to try and sort things out this afternoon. I am going to try and (Interruption) Yes, exactly that, be the voice of reason here this afternoon. It might be, to some people, very confusing as to exactly what is happening here. First of all, as the Speaker and all the members of this House will know, we are speaking on a hoist amendment which is trying to get the government to delay for a six month period what is happening with Bill No. 54 and to rethink their position on this bill.

Mr. Speaker, the reason that it may be somewhat confusing is that because some people may mistakenly see members of the Liberal Party here standing in their place and arguing our points and they may think that we are not speaking on behalf of the people of Barrington, which couldn't be further from the truth. As a matter of fact, we are speaking in the best interests of the people of Barrington in this case. We are trying to protect them from what, very clearly and very evidently amounts to a hidden agenda of the Tory Government in this particular case; the real reason behind this bill and what is the Tory Government hiding? Why would they put everything they have behind a Private Member's Bill to simply try and ram it through the Legislature in Nova Scotia?

Mr. Speaker, first of all let me quote and this was a letter the Premier of this province tabled during Question Period today. It was a letter to the member for Shelburne. It was a letter that was from the Clerk-Treasurer, Mr. Brian Holland, from the Municipality of the District of Barrington. In that letter it says that indeed they asked the member to bring forward this bill ". . .in order to make it possible for Council to provide direct funding for moving and travel expenses of doctors in order to attract them to the Municipality." Nowhere in that letter, the letter that the Premier tabled in Question Period today, does it say that this is being done to top-up or pay the salaries of physicians, doctors, who would be locating in

[Page 4400]

Barrington. But that is not the case in the bill itself, Bill No. 54. Specifically in Bill No. 54, the word "grant" is used in Bill No. 54.

Mr. Speaker, what we are proposing here is that we further define the word "grant" so that it will not be used to subsidize the salaries of doctors. It is a very simple and a very straightforward amendment or solution or proposal that we had put forward for the Tory Government to consider. It would not change in any way, shape or form the intent of the letter from the Municipality of the District of Barrington, all it would simply do is define it. So why wouldn't the Tory Government say, well okay, that's right, it defines it; let's do it and let's get this over with.

Mr. Speaker, again, what is the real reason behind the bill and what is the real agenda of the Tory Government and why head down this slippery slope when we don't have to? Because there is a hidden agenda, and that hidden agenda is that the Tory Government wants to get rid of the responsibility of recruiting physicians in this province. They do not want that responsibility, because so far they have failed at it miserably.

The Minister of Health knows that. The Minister of Health, to this very day, after hours and hours of debate on this subject, has yet to say whether or not he is in favour of this bill. He has not said it. The Minister of Health knows that he would love to privatize the recruitment of physicians in this province, and that he would love to see municipalities in this province take over the responsibility for the recruitment of physicians, and that he would love to see municipalities in this province spend their property tax dollars on topping off physicians' salaries. Mr. Speaker, that is ethically, that is fundamentally and that is morally wrong. Property taxpayers in this province, their tax dollars should not be used for the recruitment of physicians, and every member in this House knows exactly that; every member, including the members of the Official Opposition. They know that.

Only on one occasion, on the occasion of their interim Leader standing in his place in this House - let me quote from Hansard, the official record of the Legislature, as to what the Leader of the NDP said. You will have to listen intently in order to get an exact position out of this, but I quote from Hansard, from the Leader of the Official Opposition, "The other context I think we have to look at is just in the context of the responsibility of the municipality, generally, and what it is that municipalities are in the business of doing. The question would arise and I think justifiably so, and has been raised by other members of our caucus is that perhaps it is not appropriate for municipalities to be giving grants which, in essence, will be used to compete against other municipalities for the purposes of recruiting physicians to those particular communities. Where does it end?"

That is from Hansard, from the Leader of the Official Opposition in this House, Mr. Speaker, who goes on to say that the bill in question, Bill No. 54, ". . . creates a playing field which is not level." The interim Leader of the NDP goes on to say, "There is much of merit in what it is the Liberals are saying." The Leader of the NDP goes on even further to say,

[Page 4401]

". . . that it should never come to this, that this bill ought not to be necessary and that it not ought to be necessary for municipalities to have to provide grants to fill in where the provincial government is failing."

[4:30 p.m.]

It ought not come to this. Those are not my words, again a reminder for everyone that those are the words of the interim Leader of the Official Opposition, the New Democratic Party, in the Nova Scotia Legislature. Furthermore, to make it even more confusing, two members of the Official Opposition sat in a Private and Local Bills Committee in the Red Chamber of the Nova Scotia Legislature - and I was there - and those two members voted no when it came to whether or not they supported this bill going on in further stages of debate in the Nova Scotia Legislature. Both members voted no, along with myself and the member for Dartmouth East, who voted no as well.

So I am sure that you would find it very confusing as to why members of the Official Opposition are not standing in their place and speaking against this bill because they have already voted no in a committee of this Legislature. So why is that not being done? And why are they not supporting what we are saying when their Leader supports what we are saying? Other members of the Official Opposition are not standing in their place to show what they really feel and say what they know is right, that this bill is wrong.

This is not just a Private Member's Bill that is going to do something on behalf of the municipality. This is not just a case of a Member of the Legislative Assembly standing up on behalf of his constituents. This is a case of a hidden agenda. This is a case of a Tory Government that does not want the responsibility of recruiting doctors in this province and they want municipalities to take over that job.

Let me give you an example. The president of the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities does not support this bill and has gone on record publicly as stating that. Has the Minister of Health, has the Premier of this province, has anyone in Cabinet or anyone on the government side - anyone at all - paid attention to what the leader of all of Nova Scotia's municipalities and their union has said, that they do not support this bill? She is the person who speaks on behalf of all of Nova Scotia's municipalities. She does not support this bill.

This bill, as I have said, certainly in its present form, in its present shape, has no business being here before us right now. This bill should never have reached the stage where the Liberal Party would have to propose a hoist amendment to stop it from going further, to attempt to stop it from going further. This bill should never have gotten this far; it is as simple as that. A Private Member's Bill, the flag was raised in the Private and Local Bills Committee that there was something fishy about this bill. The members on the other side, on the government side, can say we are not thinking about the people of Barrington and we don't care about them. Don't we want them to get a doctor?

[Page 4402]

How silly. How immature for them to even suggest that we don't want doctors to go to communities in this province where they are most needed. We want doctors to go to Richmond County, we want doctors to go to North Sydney. It took absolutely no time at all for this government to find a doctor to go to North Sydney because their feet were being held to the fire. They found a doctor in Halifax and shipped him down there like there was no tomorrow. No tomorrow. But let me tell you, when it comes to the people of Barrington Passage, who have been waiting for so long to find a doctor, this government has failed to do what it was supposed to do on behalf of the people of Barrington. Now, as a cover-up, nothing more than a cover-up, they introduce a Private Member's Bill to try and say that it is okay to pay doctors more of their salary topped up by property tax dollars from a municipality.

What does that start, Mr. Speaker? It starts a bidding war which will be unequalled in the history of this province, in terms of health care. This government will be sorry the day it started and it will come back to haunt them in a big way.

Mr. Speaker, we can go on for only so long, and we will for as long as is necessary, to try and drive home some common sense into the government. Eventually we will run out of time and eventually the government, as misguided as it may be, will use its majority to support and pass this bill. What we will find ourselves in the middle of is a bidding war in this province, between the poor municipalities and the rich municipalities, a bidding war in this province like we have never seen before.

All we are asking for in our amendment is to hoist this bill and take six months and let's rethink exactly what is being said in this bill. Or, it wouldn't take too much, either, to get the unanimous consent of this Legislature to amend that bill and we could solve the problem right there.

Mr. Speaker, it is clear that the government has not addressed the shortage of family physicians across this province. I mentioned the Strait-Richmond Hospital; areas like Shelburne, and, as we know, Barrington in particular can't find doctors. The government can't find doctors for Barrington, that is the people who are in charge of recruiting doctors in this province, in particular the Department of Health and the Health Minister who is responsible for that department.

Mr. Speaker, let me clarify this as well; the Tory Government had a chance to help the people of Barrington get doctors' services last fall and the Tory Government refused. Now surely the member for Shelburne realizes that. On November 7, 2000, the Liberal Health Critic, the member for Dartmouth East, asked the Health Minister if he would assist the Municipality of Barrington pay overhead costs for doctors from Yarmouth to come in and fill in for the absent Dr. Blair. A few days later it was learned that the municipality was told by the Health Department not to expect any funding to keep the lights and heat on in the doctors' office. All they were looking for was $4,000 a month. The Health Minister and the

[Page 4403]

MLA had an affordable chance to make sure the people of Barrington were served by enough doctors and they absolutely refused to do it.

Mr. Speaker, the overall issue being lost in all this, unfortunately, is the quality of care. I would like to ask, through you, Mr. Speaker, to the members, what is this going to do for the quality of care? What will Bill No. 54 do for the quality of care? Is there a valid, clinical reason for passing this bill?

Now, Mr. Speaker, again I set out in my time here today to try to clarify things, another clarification. According to the Deputy Minister of Health, there is absolutely no benefit to doctors having their salaries topped up by municipalities. Well, that is what we are saying. We are saying exactly what the Deputy Minister of Health is saying; this is wrong, it is of no benefit to anyone. In fact, when the Deputy Minister of Health explained the clinical footprint to the workers of the Capital District Health District, Deputy Minister Tom Ward said he saw no clinical reason for communities to be engaged in doctor recruitment.

Now, Mr. Speaker, the whole reason for that clinical planning footprint, what we thought anyway, was to provide benchmarks and some accurate statistics. The minister at the time, in fact, at the time of the release of the footprint said, this approach will help district health authorities match health resources to community needs for today and tomorrow. That is a quote attributed to the minister.

Mr. Speaker, how does allowing municipalities to top off salaries help district authorities match those health resources to the needs of communities for today and tomorrow? It doesn't and that is why we are asking for a six months' hoist on this bill. That is why we are asking for it. That is why we need more input for the district health authorities. That is why we need more input from the Department of Health. Don't forget, this is not just me saying this. Deputy Minister Tom Ward is on tape if you want proof. He is on tape as saying he does not think that communities should be allowed to recruit doctors. Well, I am wondering if anyone, including the member for Shelburne who owns this bill, has asked the deputy minister how he feels about this bill?

Mr. Speaker, as I have mentioned before, the doctor recruitment problem is not new in Nova Scotia and indeed I have faced the issue in my community as well and we faced it head on, literally thousands of people in my community went for quite some time without the services of a doctor. But that doctor was eventually found through good recruitment methods, in particular on behalf of a certain person in the area at the Cape Breton Regional Health Care Complex, an employee of the Cape Breton Regional Health Care Complex and a quite capable physician by the name of Dr. Mahmood Naqvi.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Would the member permit an introduction from one of his colleagues?

[Page 4404]

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, in the gallery today, I would like members of the House to recognize two distinguished Cape Bretoners from Cape Breton The Lakes who are visiting in the Legislature today, Mr. and Mrs. Harold MacKinnon, Harold and Mary. I would ask that the members of the Legislature accord them the usual welcome we do for visitors here. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: Welcome to all our guests in the gallery.

MR. WILSON: Mr. Speaker, I welcome the visitors as well. I happen to know them personally. I happen to know that they are very sensible people, as a matter of fact. They certainly would have no problem understanding what is going on here today and what I am trying to say, that is for sure. The timing of this bill, as I have mentioned, the whole bill is suspect, but the timing of this bill in particular is suspect. It was introduced about 10 days after the member for Cape Breton North claimed that he had found a doctor for the Northside General Hospital.

Now, I would think, and pretty understandably, Mr. Speaker, that the member for Shelburne would be pretty upset. As a matter of fact, I would speculate that the member for Shelburne, upon hearing that, would have been absolutely ticked-off because Barrington has been waiting for almost a year for help from the Department of Health. The people of Barrington need a doctor. The most amazing thing that has come out of all of this is that the Minister of Health will not help the people of Barrington. He will not help them. He saw a newly elected member get a doctor in 48 hours. Well, he could have said to himself, why not Barrington? The Department of Health and the Health Minister are letting the people of Barrington down. It is as simple as that.

Mr. Speaker, what would happen, let's say for instance, just to pick at random, the good people of Preston - let me pick an example, just as I said, out of the blue - what would happen if the good people of Preston all of a sudden decided they needed a doctor. Let's use our property tax dollars in Preston to pay for a doctor. Well, the good MLA for Preston, a former municipal counsellor (Interruption) He is better known in this province as the lead expert on giving to charities. Let me continue along that line. If the MLA for Preston decided all of a sudden that well, I remember when I was on municipal council. At that point in time, would I have thought that it would have been a good idea to spend property tax dollars on topping up a doctor's salary?

[4:45 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, I bet you that as a municipal councillor, the now-MLA for Preston, would have said, no way, no way do you use property tax dollars in this province to pay for a doctor's salary. But what is the MLA for Preston saying about it now? And what happens if the people of Preston, down the road, need a doctor? What happens if they decide to use

[Page 4405]

property tax dollars and get into a bidding war with the people of Barrington? What happens if they raise more money?

MR. DAVID HENDSBEE: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. The honourable member for Cape Breton East has made assertions that I haven't had a chance to speak on the bill, and it was a challenge for me to speak. Well, I will give him just three points. The people from Barrington . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Order, please. That is not a point of order. If the member wants to speak, he can stand up and speak.

MR. WILSON: If the members on the backbenches over there, if they want to clown around with this issue; if they want to make fun of the fact that the people in Barrington need a doctor; if they want to act foolish by standing up like that, they all know that they have equal time on this amendment and equal time on readings in this Legislature to get up for a little more than three points, on some silly point of order that you know you can't get away with. If you have the intestinal fortitude, Mr. Speaker, to the member, to stand up at any time, you can go for an hour on this bill.

I have not seen anybody on that side get up and speak on behalf of this bill. No one. It is no joking matter, let me tell you. It is no joking matter to the people of Barrington who have needed a doctor for over a year. It is no joking matter. Sometimes in this Legislature we can go too far, and that is a prime example; that is a prime example of going too far.

Mr. Speaker, as I was saying, when you get to that bidding war, and no matter if it involves the people of Preston, or it involves the people of Canso, or Port Hawkesbury, or Victoria, whatever the case may be, they are looking for doctors, can the poorer municipalities in this province afford to add to the salaries of doctors? For instance, the Cape Breton Regional Municipality, can it afford to compete with Halifax Regional Municipality for doctors? Of course it can't; the Cape Breton Regional Municipality doesn't have the money.

What is going to happen is that when this bill, if it does go through - and I hope it doesn't for the sake of the people of Barrington. And for the sake of everybody in this province, I hope this bill doesn't go through - this bill is going to be a disaster for universal health care in this province. An absolute disaster. That is why, again - amazingly, earlier in this Legislature I heard backbench MLAs actually say that they were in favour of the NDP position that they were taking. Can you imagine that? A Tory-New Democrat alliance in the Nova Scotia Legislature. The Tories and the New Democrats get together to support a bill, or are they just getting together for the sake of it to try to gang up on the Liberals; that may be more like it. That might be more like it.

[Page 4406]

Both the Tories and the New Democrats realize that we are the only alternative. We will form the next government in the Province of Nova Scotia; both of them know that. I can't find any other excuse why, and that is why I am so surprised that the members in the New Democratic Party have not, they could not support this bill. The NDP claims to be the defender of Medicare and throughout this whole session they will stand up and use that cute little cliché, that's why we're here. Well why are they here now because they are not speaking on behalf of the people of Barrington. They are not speaking on behalf of the poorer municipalities throughout this province, that is for sure. I am sure, I know it, Mr. Speaker, I have already said, I sat in a private member's committee and I saw it and I heard it. Two members of the NDP caucus voted against Bill No. 54, the honourable member for Dartmouth North and the honourable member for Cape Breton Centre, those were the two members.

Now, Mr. Speaker, that shows you that you don't need six months to change your mind, it took them a whole lot less to change their mind from the time they left the private member's committee until the time they walked into this Chamber. They went from a solid no to a sit on the fence until their Leader got up and said we are not supporting it and their interim Leader turned around and told them you're not speaking on this, you are voting yes. And that, Mr. Speaker, in particular the honourable member for Dartmouth North, a man I admire and respect, a man who speaks on behalf of his constituents, a man who can go among real people and understand what they are saying. That is why it boggles my mind why the honourable member for Dartmouth North right now has not even said anything in this Legislature on this bill, it absolutely boggles my mind. I know that the honourable member for Dartmouth North does not agree with this bill. I know that the honourable member for Dartmouth North would have no problem telling his Leader where to go if he wanted to get up and stand up and speak on it.

I just wonder, Mr. Speaker, what is going on? Is this the beginning of a Tory-New Democratic alliance in Nova Scotia? If anything (Interruptions) Let me tell you (Interruptions) The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley says that is absurd and I agree. Nothing would be more absurd than a Tory-NDP alliance but I'm telling you it is possible. It is possible on this bill because I can't come up with any other reason why the New Democrats would be siding with the Tories to use taxpayers' dollars to top-up doctors' salaries. For the last few nights it has literally kept me awake trying to figure out what is going on with this little alliance in the Legislature. As I said, the only thing I can figure out is that the NDP has decided to team up with the Tories and try to gang up on the Liberals because they thought we would give in and the NDP and the Tories would get out of here early and the New Democrats would be able to scurry to Cape Breton to see the 20 people who are going to show up at their annual general meeting.

[Page 4407]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member is supposed to be talking on the hoist for the bill and I have given him a fair bit of leeway, but I would encourage the honourable member to stick to the hoist which is an amendment for a six months' hoist and to Bill No. 54.

MR. WILSON: Mr. Speaker, if I may just ask just approximately how much time I have remaining.

MR. SPEAKER: Twenty-eight minutes.

MR. WILSON: Thank you. I don't intend to go on for much longer, Mr. Speaker, but with that kind of reaction it is quite possible that I will. This is a quote from the infamous Tory blue book. "In consultation with the Nova Scotia Medical Society, reviewing, and where necessary, amending the criteria used by government in defining under-serviced areas to ensure appropriate incentives are provided to attract doctors to all communities in need of family physicians;" So, where are the incentives? Where is the help for the people of Barrington?

That is why we are talking about hoisting this bill for six months because this Tory Government is so stubborn that they won't deal with it right now, they are so narrow-minded, the blinders are on. Now because we have proposed a worthwhile amendment that we can work this out with, the Tory Government has said no way, we will ram it through at all costs, no matter what. But if they should decide to support a six months' hoist, in this case, then what they could do is actually settle down for six months and think about the amendment and finally come to the realization that it does make sense and let's change this bill so that property tax dollars will not be used to top up the salaries of doctors in this province.

This bill basically says to communities that you are on your own. Good luck and good riddance, but don't come to us, the provincial government, for help in recruiting doctors. That is what this bill says. This bill will say to every municipality in this province that you are on your own, go get your own doctors because we are no longer responsible for the recruitment of doctors.

Again, I don't know the real reason behind this bill. I can speculate that the real reason is a hidden agenda, some sort of secret agenda on behalf of the Tory Government and that maybe, perhaps, that secret agenda is that they want out of the recruitment business altogether. Eventually, down the road, they may want out of the health care business altogether because they know how miserably they have failed in this province to date and that the people of this province certainly do not have the trust in them that they can do anything about this.

[Page 4408]

It is not good government, it is not good health care management. Shame on the government. Shame on the Minister of Health. Shame on the member for Shelburne who brings this bill before this Legislature. It should not even be here. Having said that, I will take my place.

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

MR. WAYNE GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise and speak on this hoist amendment. You may ask, why should Bill No. 54, an Act to Authorize the Municipality of the District of Barrington to Provide Financial Assistance to Encourage Health Professionals to Locate in the Municipality, be delayed for six months. Well, there are a number of reasons. I will try to provide you with a few of the concerns that we have with regard to Bill No. 54.

Our caucus, first of all, have grave concerns with this piece of legislation that is before the House. In the next six months, I hope that the Premier and the Minister of Health, the Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations, and this Tory Government will have an opportunity to reassure the people of Nova Scotia on what Bill No. 54 allows this municipality, the Municipality of the District of Barrington to do, and, once this bill goes through, what impact Bill No. 54 will have on the other 54 municipal units throughout Nova Scotia.

We need to first recognize why Bill No. 54 is before this House. This area of the province, the Municipality of Barrington, is in desperate need for a doctor and, unfortunately, the Minister of Health and this Tory Government is doing nothing to help them to recruit a doctor for their area.

It is not what they did to help their member - when you look at what this Tory Government did to help one of their colleagues in Cape Breton North - it didn't take long there to help recruit a doctor. Our Health Critic, the member for Dartmouth East, raised this concern in the House last year, about a need for Barrington to get a doctor.

[5:00 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, when you look at what this government did, what this Minister of Health did, to help the honourable member for Cape Breton North with that shortage of doctors in the emergency unit at the Northside General Hospital, it didn't take long. But what happens here to their colleague, the member for Shelburne - and he is a good member, we have to acknowledge that - he certainly has brought the concerns of the Municipality of the District of Barrington forward, but what has this government done for the Municipality of the District of Barrington?

[Page 4409]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. There is a little too much chit-chat in the room. I am having trouble hearing the Leader of the Liberal Party. If any members have any private conversations, I would ask that they leave the room to carry them on; everyone should be paying attention to the Liberal Leader.

The honourable Leader of the Liberal Party.

MR. GAUDET: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Again, what has this Tory Government done for the Municipality of the District of Barrington and for their colleague, the honourable member for Shelburne, in order to help that community recruit a doctor for that community? Very little, very little to this point. That's why this municipal council has decided to use property tax dollars from the residents within that municipality and give a grant to a doctor in order to encourage that doctor to locate in their area, in their municipality.

Mr. Speaker, many municipalities over the years in Nova Scotia have been involved in building clinics, in making doctors' offices available to new doctors moving within their jurisdiction. I will give you an example. In the Municipality of Clare, several years ago we had a committee when Dr. Robert Beliveau took his retirement; the Municipality of Clare was in need for a replacement doctor. We had a committee that basically helped out, along with the help of the municipality, the municipal council. Our municipal council came forward and provided that doctor with free office space for two years.

I think if we looked throughout Nova Scotia within the 55 municipal units, we will see that many municipal units have come out and helped out, in some way, with the recruitment of a doctor for their area. But I am not aware that any municipalities in Nova Scotia are using property tax dollars to pay for doctors' salaries. I am not aware of any; maybe you are, Mr. Speaker.

Yesterday the Premier told the media, prior to the beginning of the session, that he was aware of some municipalities in Nova Scotia using property tax dollars to help pay doctors' salaries. Again, Mr. Speaker, my colleague, the honourable member for Dartmouth East, asked the Premier and he has asked the Minister of Health to tell this House which municipality in Nova Scotia is currently using property tax dollars to help pay for doctors' salaries. You know what? Both the Premier and the Minister of Health refused to provide the members of this House with any names. Again, I don't think there are any municipal units in Nova Scotia using property tax dollars to help with doctors' salaries.

Mr. Speaker, today an article by Brian Flinn in The Daily News, I just want to quote a line here and I will table this, "Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities president Anna Allen said she isn't aware of any community in Nova Scotia topping up a doctor's salary before." Well, maybe the Premier or maybe the Minister of Health are aware, but the Mayor of the Town of Windsor, the President of the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities, does not know

[Page 4410]

of any municipalities in Nova Scotia that are currently using property tax dollars to top off doctors' salaries, she's not aware.

Mr. Speaker, again, if the Premier knows of any municipalities using property tax dollars to top off doctors' salaries in Nova Scotia, he should come clean and tell this House and all Nova Scotians who these municipal units are. If he can't, then he should do the honourable thing, and that would be to apologize to you, Mr. Speaker, to the members of this House and to all Nova Scotians for misleading them, if he can't provide us with those names of those municipal units, because the President of the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities does not know of any municipal governments in this province currently using property tax dollars to top off doctors' salaries.

Mr. Speaker, in my opinion I honestly don't think it is right for any municipal unit in Nova Scotia to use property tax dollars to help pay for doctors' salaries anywhere in Nova Scotia; I don't think that is right at all.

Mr. Speaker, again using that same article, the President, Anna Allen - she is also the Mayor of the Town of Windsor - says that the province is supposed to pay for health care and not the municipalities. I agree with the President of the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities, the Mayor of the Town of Windsor.

Mr. Speaker, if this is allowed to take place in Barrington now, what is going to happen in other municipalities where they, too, are looking at recruiting a doctor? Well, I will tell you what is going to happen. A bidding war will begin between municipalities. You just have to look at the headline in The Coast Guard two days ago - "How much for a doctor?" Do we want that to happen in Nova Scotia - how much for a doctor? I don't think so. I don't think we want to see the bidding war start anywhere in Nova Scotia for a doctor. That community, the Municipality of Barrington, is in need of a doctor and this government should do the exact same thing they did for the member for Cape Breton North.

Mr. Speaker, as you are aware, not all 55 municipal units in Nova Scotia are fiscally capable of getting involved in these bidding wars. Some units have a stronger tax base than others. Many small towns in Nova Scotia are currently living within limited resources. It is not their fault, a lot of people from the towns are moving outside the town because the tax rates are much lower. So many towns in Nova Scotia are having a hard time making ends meet. If this bill goes through, the bidding war will begin, and there are a number of municipal units in this province that don't have the tax base in order to play this game, to bid for a doctor. The Coast Guard article sums it up very well, if this bill goes through - "How much for a doctor?"

[Page 4411]

I think if we looked at the 55 municipal units around the province we would certainly have two groups of units; units that can afford to play the game, that have a strong tax base, and the other group, unfortunately, does not have the tax base to provide them with the resources to play this bidding war. That is a fact.

Mr. Speaker, if this game begins, if this bidding war begins, we are going to have winners and losers among the municipal units in the Province of Nova Scotia. What will happen to the losers? What will happen in those municipalities that will not be able to compete in these bidding wars? Will the residents of those units be forced to go outside their municipality to see a doctor? Chances are that that is probably what is going to happen.

Furthermore, Mr. Speaker, there is no question here what is going to happen; if you want to play the game, if you want to bid, get involved in this bidding war, you will need some money to play the game. The only money municipalities are currently responsible for collecting is property taxes within their respective jurisdiction. So what will happen to units that don't have that strong tax base? Well, I think we can pretty well say that property taxes will go up in those units, especially if you are from a smaller municipal unit which does not have a strong tax base.

As I have said before, there are many units that have limited resources to work with. We see this currently with the federal-provincial infrastructure program. Unfortunately, because of limited funding, municipalities or some units cannot put their one-third of the funding required under this program if their project is approved. So working with limited budgets, some of these municipal units in this province are going to have a hard time to compete in this game.

Mr. Speaker, will the Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations come up again with an equalization proposal to use property tax dollars from wealthier municipalities to help those less fortunate municipal units, in order to recruit doctors for their areas? We know how popular the first proposal was that came before the UNSM and the municipal units back in March and April. Maybe the Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations should call an urgent meeting with representatives of the 55 municipal units from across this province to ask if they are in support of this proposal and then he can report back to the Premier and his colleagues. But I am afraid that meeting will not be called and I am afraid even to consider what would actually come up in that meeting.

[5:15 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, if this bill, as presented before this House, goes through this House - and the government has the majority numbers in order to get this bill through - it will open the door for a bidding war between municipalities in order to recruit doctors. That is what I am afraid is going to happen. This bill will create a bidding war for doctors. It will pit one municipal unit against the other and I am sure it will not solve the recruitment problem for

[Page 4412]

doctors for those communities throughout this province. No doubt it will create new problems for the provincial government and new problems for many of the 55 municipal units throughout this province. That is what is going to happen if this bill goes through.

Mr. Speaker, as it stands today, we are currently in third reading, and I said the government has the numbers on their benches. This bill will go through, but in order to prevent some problems from coming forward, from arising, our Health Critic, the member for Dartmouth East, has brought an amendment forward to the Minister of Health. I am sure the Government House Leader is aware. All this delay could be brought to a stop if the government is ready to recognize, to make one small change in this piece of legislation that is before the House. We need to clarify the definition of what a grant under this bill will represent and we can move on. We can vote on this bill, close the House and the spring session will be over. The Premier and the members of Cabinet can return to their offices and their departments because I am sure there is a lot of work waiting for them. But unfortunately, someone is not ready to consider this amendment.

Mr. Speaker, you may say that an amendment cannot be introduced in third reading. Well, with unanimous consent of this House and our caucus, the Liberal caucus is ready to waive to provide that unanimous consent to the Government House Leader, to the Minister of Health, to the honourable member for Shelburne, to recognize the concerns that our caucus has brought forward to the floor of this House. This hoist amendment is certainly an opportunity for this government, for this Minister of Health to reconsider what real impact Bill No. 54, once it goes through third and final reading, will have on other municipal units in this province.

Mr. Speaker, Nova Scotians are already paying provincial taxes and federal taxes for health care in Nova Scotia. They don't need to pay property tax dollars towards the funding of health care in this province. There is no need for that.

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Health is responsible and he knows that. He is responsible for the delivery of health care in Nova Scotia. He is also responsible for paying doctors in Nova Scotia, not the 55 municipalities around the province. It is his responsibility, it is a provincial responsibility and it is not a responsibility that should be downloaded to the 55 municipalities in this province. He knows that and all his colleagues are aware of that as well.

Mr. Speaker, I hope the Minister of Health will tell Nova Scotians - will rise in his seat; if he is in support of using property tax dollars to help pay doctor's salaries in Nova Scotia, then he should rise, I will take my seat. If he is in favour, he should rise and say so, but I don't think we need to wait for the Minister of Health to rise today and tell us that he is in favour of using property tax dollars to help top off doctor's salaries in this province. You know why he won't stand up? Because he too doesn't agree with using property tax

[Page 4413]

dollars to pay for doctors' salaries and if he does, then he should stand and tell us that he does. But I don't think he will. There are not too many people that will support this.

Mr. Speaker, I hope that Nova Scotians, I hope that the UNSM and that the different municipal units will come forward and tell this Tory Government that this bidding war, that pitting one municipal unit against another, should never, never be allowed to start. Today, we have heard from the President of the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities, Anna Allen, currently the Mayor of Windsor, saying she is not in support of this proposal. Earlier this afternoon I was doing an interview with the media and I was told by the reporter that she had been talking to the Warden of East Hants, Mr. Lloyd Matheson, and he too is not in support of using property tax dollars to pay doctor's salaries with.

Mr. Speaker, this morning I was talking with the municipal clerk for the Municipality of Clare in regard to Bill No. 54. They are not aware of what is in this bill. If this bill goes through, then municipal units may actually have to come forward with property tax dollars to fund doctors' salaries in Nova Scotia. He wasn't aware of that. I can tell you that during our discussions, he indicated to me that he would be calling the office of the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities, he would be talking to the President of the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities and with some of his colleagues in the southwestern part of the province.

I know that the Warden of the Municipality of Shelburne was here at the House earlier this afternoon. I had a chance to talk to her outside and, again, she does not support what is here in Bill No. 54. I am sure, Mr. Speaker, in the next few days we will be hearing from other mayors, wardens, councillors, for other municipal units in this province. I haven't heard yet of one individual outside of this government that is in support of Bill No. 54.

Mr. Speaker, what needs to happen here is what this Tory Government promised Nova Scotians in the last election. They said in their famous Tory blue book that during their first mandate a PC Government will address the critical shortage of doctors. Well, they should help communities like Barrington to recruit doctors as they said they would.

Mr. Speaker, that is not what is happening. That is not what is happening throughout this province. We have heard from my colleague, the honourable member for Richmond, of the need to recruit a doctor for the emergency unit in his riding. They have been waiting for five months for a doctor for the emergency unit. They still haven't heard anything. I know my colleague has asked members on the government benches, the honourable member for Inverness, the honourable member for Guysborough - Port Hawkesbury. So far, this government has not come to the assistance of the good people of Richmond County.

Mr. Speaker, maybe this government needs six months to look at the promises they made Nova Scotians back in the election campaign in the summer of 1999. This Tory Party promised Nova Scotians that they would address the critical shortage of doctors in the Province of Nova Scotia. Not just in certain areas of the Province of Nova Scotia, they didn't

[Page 4414]

say that. I didn't see that in their blue book. Again, it is critical, it is critical for the good member for Shelburne and for the people of Barrington who are desperate for a doctor for those communities, for this government, for this Minister of Health to help recruit a doctor for that area.

Mr. Speaker, that is not what this Minister of Health is doing. What he should be doing and what he is not doing are two different stories. This Minister of Health should be working with his colleague, the member for Shelburne, to help recruit a doctor for the people of the Municipality of the District of Barrington. That is what this minister should be doing. Again, I think it is critical. I think it is critical for this Minister of Health to work with his colleague, the MLA for Shelburne, and the Municipality of the District of Barrington to find a doctor for that community.

Mr. Speaker, I am sure, since the debate on this bill has started, you are probably wondering by now, like many of us, if this bill will actually deliver a doctor for Barrington. Well, I think if you ask me there are too many unanswered questions at this stage, whether this bill will allow the member for Shelburne to deliver a doctor for the Municipality of the District of Barrington.

Mr. Speaker, I personally think that in the next six months this Tory Government would have an opportunity to really look into what real impact Bill No. 54 will have on municipalities, will have on recruiting doctors for many communities here in Nova Scotia, or will have on property tax dollars in Nova Scotia.

[5:30 p.m.]

This is wrong, what is before us, using property tax dollars to help fund doctors' salaries; that is wrong, Mr. Speaker. People in Nova Scotia are paying provincial tax dollars and federal tax dollars in order for the Minister of Health to provide them with the health care that they need. They don't need to pay extra property tax dollars in order to fund health care in Nova Scotia. This Party said they would not download further on the 55 municipal units in this province; that's not what is happening here with this bill. Property tax dollars should not be spent on doctors' salaries, that is wrong. The President of the UNSM, Anna Allen, said that today in an article that appeared in The Daily News; the Warden of East Hants, Mr. Lloyd Matheson, who today did an interview with the media, he too said this was wrong to use municipal property tax dollars to help fund doctors' salaries.

Mr. Speaker, throughout this debate we haven't heard from the Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations. Is he in favour of Bill No. 54, an Act to Authorize the Municipality of the District of Barrington to Provide Financial Assistance to Encourage Health Professionals to Locate in the Municipality? Does the Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations have any concerns about this bill? Does the minister have the support of the UNSM to allow this bill to go through this session? Does the Minister of

[Page 4415]

Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations see any potential problems developing between richer and poorer municipalities in the bidding war for doctors in Nova Scotia? Well, maybe the minister should read this article from The Coast Guard, "How much for a doctor?"

Mr. Speaker, does this mean that property taxes will have to go up? I said earlier, with the 55 municipal units in Nova Scotia, we have a number of them that do not have the tax base to play this game, to get into a bidding war in order to recruit a doctor for their communities. We have a number of units around this province, especially small towns, that have a limited tax base; they have limited resources in order to provide the service they are expected to provide to the residents of their municipalities now, as it is. So now we are looking at increasing the demands on their budgets.

Is the Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations in support of municipalities raising property taxes in order to raise extra money to allow them to bid for doctors? Is the Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations in support of this? We haven't heard from the Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations.

Mr. Speaker, I think the Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations should probably take the next six months and consult with the UNSM and the 55 units to see if they support Bill No. 54, and then come back and inform the members in this House.

Maybe the Government House Leader should allow the people of Nova Scotia some time to look at this bill and bring it back in the fall session. Allow the people of Nova Scotia to look at this bill and try to understand what real impact this bill will have on the residents of Nova Scotia, then bring this bill back in the fall session. That is nothing new, it has been done time and time again in this House, Mr. Speaker, where a minister tables a bill, the bill is then allowed to be looked at by the people of Nova Scotia and then returned at a later session in order to go through this Legislature. So why wouldn't the Government House Leader allow this to happen? What is the rush for this bill to go through now?

Today, concerns have been raised by the President of the UNSM; The Warden of East Hants; the Warden of the Municipality of Shelburne was here in the House to talk to her representative from Shelburne. So again, Mr. Speaker, here is an opportunity for this Tory Government to delay this bill going through the House with this six months' hoist amendment. I am sure that in six months this government will have a better understanding of what real impact this bill will have on Nova Scotians.

Again, Mr. Speaker, if this bill is allowed to go through as is, we are opening a new door for a bidding war to take place among the municipal units in this province. So any time a community is looking at recruiting a doctor, they will need some funding in order to enter this bidding game; a bidding war will begin as soon as this bill goes through. Municipal units will have to use property tax dollars in order to pay or top up doctors' salaries in order to attract them to those communities. That is wrong, that is wrong because Nova Scotians

[Page 4416]

currently are paying provincial taxes and federal taxes in order to fund the delivery of health care in this province. This is not one of the municipalities' responsibilities and this government, moving in this direction, downloading this responsibility on the 55 municipal units is wrong.

Mr. Speaker, normally, when a bill goes through this House, first reading, a member, in this situation the member for Shelburne stood in his place and tabled Bill No. 54. That was first reading. Second reading came along, the members of this House who wanted to speak on this bill had a chance, had an opportunity to enter this debate and talk and raise their personal concerns that they had on Bill No. 54. Then in the end, this Chamber voted on the second reading of Bill No. 54, which allowed this Private and Local Bill to go to the Private and Local Bills Committee. At that time anyone, anyone in this province who had concerns, could attend this committee meeting and raise concerns at that committee meeting.

Mr. Speaker, I understand that at that meeting the honourable member for Cape Breton Centre and the honourable member for Dartmouth North, from the New Democratic Party, had concerns on this bill. They came forward and they raised concerns in committee in regard to Bill No. 54. Strangely enough, we haven't heard a word since from those two honourable members. They had concerns before, now they no longer have concerns with this bill. The honourable member for Dartmouth North used to be the Municipal Affairs Critic for the New Democratic Party. Well, something happened here; the honourable member for Dartmouth North is no longer allowed to rise in this House and enter this debate. They had concerns before, but now those concerns have disappeared. You have to wonder if the New Democratic Party has joined the Tory Government caucus.

AN HON. MEMBER: They are an auxiliary.

MR. GAUDET: An auxiliary, an alliance is being formed, as my honourable colleague here just expressed. There are real concerns with this bill that is before the House, concerns that property tax dollars will be used for topping up doctors' salaries in the Province of Nova Scotia, and that is wrong. That is wrong for that to happen in this province, when Nova Scotians are paying provincial taxes and federal taxes in order to fund the delivery of health care in this province. That is wrong. It should not be allowed to go forward.

Mr. Speaker, as I said earlier, many municipal units in this province have helped in some way in recruiting doctors for their communities, providing health clinics, providing free office space. I know in Clare, three years ago, when a new doctor came in to replace one of our doctors who had taken his retirement, our municipal council offered free office space to this new doctor for two years. I am sure if you went around the province many municipal units offered the same type of services, the same type of benefits to some of these doctors in order to attract those doctors in their communities. I have no problem with that, and I am sure there are not too many people in this House who would object to allowing that practice to continue.

[Page 4417]

But, Mr. Speaker, the members of the Liberal caucus do object to using property tax dollars in order to fund, finance doctors' salaries in this province. (Applause) We do object. That is wrong. That is wrong.

Mr. Speaker, I am being told that members from across the floor do also object using property tax dollars to help finance doctor's salaries in this province. Here is a great opportunity for any member on the government benches to stand, rise in this House and speak on Bill No. 54. (Interruptions)

[5:45 p.m.]

AN HON. MEMBER: What a hill to die on for the Tory Party, property taxes to pay doctors. That is the hill they are going to die on. Can you believe it?

MR. GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, this is extremely sensitive. This bill that is before the House will allow property tax dollars to be used in order to subsidize or top off doctor's salaries in Nova Scotia. That is wrong. It should not be allowed. What is going to happen to some of the municipal units that do not have the tax base in order to play this bidding-war game? Well, we know that municipalities can only generate revenues through property tax dollars. So if they want to play the game, they have one option and one option only and that is to increase property tax dollars. So just imagine how popular that will be with the residents of those municipal units that will see their property tax dollars go up in order to allow those municipal units to have some extra resources in order to enter this bidding-war game in order to recruit a doctor for their communities.

Is the Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations in support of this? Is this Tory Government in support of property taxes going up? I don't think so. Mr. Speaker, there is an opportunity here before the floor of the House, an opportunity for this Premier, for this Minister of Health, for this Tory Government to consult with these individuals, with the residents of Nova Scotia if they are in favour of Bill No. 54. The real impact of Bill No. 54 is not known at this stage. It will certainly raise many questions at the municipal level and many questions at the provincial level. Concerns should be addressed now and this government has the opportunity that is before them to address those concerns as we go through the debate on this bill.

Mr. Speaker, my colleague, the member for Dartmouth East, has provided a copy of an amendment to this bill to the Minister of Health. This caucus wants to provide a doctor to the people of the Municipality of Barrington and help the member for Shelburne to provide a doctor. He is a good member for Shelburne. (Interruptions) The member for Shelburne has tabled this bill on behalf of the good people of the Municipality of Barrington. They are in desperate need of a doctor. He brought that bill forward on their behalf.

[Page 4418]

What this member needs is a little bit of help from this Minister of Health, just like he provided for the good member for Cape Breton North. (Interruptions) It has happened. This Minister of Health can make things happen, especially when it comes to procuring a doctor for a community.

Mr. Speaker, this is not what needs to happen here. The Minister of Health needs to work with his colleague, the good member for Shelburne, in order to recruit a doctor for the community of Barrington.

When this Tory Party ran in the last election they promised Nova Scotians that they would address the shortage of doctors in the Province of Nova Scotia. They promised Nova Scotians, they promised the good people of the Municipality of Barrington; they promised the good people of Cape Breton North; they promised the good people of Richmond County. So, Mr. Speaker, there is a double standard here with the Minister of Health. It seems the Minister of Health will help some communities and, at the same time, will delay helping others.

This is not what this Party ran on in the last election, Mr. Speaker. They promised another one of their 243 promises they made to Nova Scotians in the last election. So there is a good opportunity here with this hoist amendment that is before the floor of this House, to allow the good Minister of Health to work with his colleague, the member for Shelburne, in finding a doctor for the people of the Municipality of Barrington. That is what should happen.

Mr. Speaker, if this bill before the House goes through, this bill will allow property tax dollars to be used in order to subsidize doctors' salaries in the Province of Nova Scotia. That is wrong. We have the President of the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities, Anna Allen, the Mayor of Windsor; we have the Warden of the Municipality of East Hants and, this afternoon here at the House, we had the Warden of the Municipality of Shelburne, all objecting to using property tax dollars to help fund and top off doctors' salaries in the Province of Nova Scotia. That is not the responsibility of municipalities in the Province of Nova Scotia. (Interruption)

Mr. Speaker, our Municipal Affairs Critic, the good member for Cape Breton the Lakes, raised this in the House earlier today, that property tax dollars should not be used to subsidize doctors' salaries in the Province of Nova Scotia. He indicated that there are some municipal units that do not have a strong tax base in order to pay property tax dollars towards subsidizing doctors' salaries.

Mr. Speaker, earlier I mentioned that our Health Critic, our honourable colleague, the member for Dartmouth East, did provide the Minister of Health with an amendment to this bill. The Government House Leader may indicate that no, we cannot bring amendments on third and final reading of the bill. Well, Mr. Speaker, that is possible with the unanimous

[Page 4419]

consent of the members of this House, on both sides of the House, that is possible. Members of the Liberal caucus are ready to provide the Government House Leader with that unanimous consent to bring this amendment forward in order to allow Bill No. 54 to go through third and final reading in hopes that Bill No. 54 will provide the good member for Shelburne to go back home and go and deliver a doctor to the good people of the Municipality of Barrington.

That is a possibility, as we stand here, Mr. Speaker. We are ready to co-operate with the government but, unfortunately, at this stage, 5:55 p.m. on Thursday night, there ain't too much movement with regard to the possibility of bringing an amendment forward on third and final reading of Bill No. 54.

Mr. Speaker, we know that we will come back tomorrow if the Government House Leader decides tonight when the House adjourns as to whether the House will reconvene tomorrow morning, or whenever he decides. I can tell you there is an opportunity here to move Bill No. 54 through third and final reading.

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

The honourable member for Victoria.

MR. KENNETH MACASKILL: Mr. Speaker, I don't think it is anyone's wish they would have to stand on their feet at any time in the House to be seen as filibustering or to be seen as a delay in the process of the House. I think, in my time here over the years of representing the good people of my riding there was never a time, I think, my constituents would want me to be on my feet more than today to deal with Bill No. 54, An Act to Authorize the Municipality of the District of Barrington to Provide Financial Assistance to Encourage Health Professionals to Locate in the Municipality.

Mr. Speaker, let us look at the resolution presented to the honourable member for Shelburne. Mr. Speaker, the resolution begins by saying that it was moved by D. Hunt and seconded by W. Smith. I will bypass the first paragraph, ". . . Act into the Nova Scotia Legislature to enable the Municipality of the District of Barrington to provide a grant to health professionals to encourage doctors, dentists and other health professionals licenced to practice in the Province of Nova Scotia to locate in the Municipality." As we move into the other part of the resolution it goes on to say, ". . . to provide direct funding for moving and travel expenses of doctors in order to attract them to the Municipality."

Mr. Speaker, this resolution gives us two messages; one for moving and other expenses, and another to top-up a doctor's salary. Now, that is the argument here, topping up doctors salaries. I am sure, Mr. Speaker, that my people of Victoria County are in no position to top-up a doctor's salary . . .

[Page 4420]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. We have reached the moment of interruption. The subject of this evening's late debate was submitted by the honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect:

"Therefore be it resolved that if this government won't give consumers a break at the gas pumps, it give them a break on the roads by committing the increased tax revenue from gasoline sales to roadwork throughout Nova Scotia."

[6:00 p.m.]

ADJOURNMENT

MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5)

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

GOV'T. (N.S.) - ROADS: INCREASED TAX REVENUES - COMMIT

MR. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: This is a topic, of course, of real concern for, as Nova Scotians, we understand that the economy of this province, whether it is the tourist business or the forestry industry or getting from one point in this province to the other, it all depends on our transportation system. I will be interested to see which government member is going to stand in his place and if I could make a request, Mr. Speaker, I don't know if you take requests like the Deputy Speaker, he must have taken requests in a previous career, I would like to hear from the good member for beautiful Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley on this topic.

I hope he is allowed to stand in his place and speak so passionately like he used to do when he was on this side of the House. So I don't know if that request is possible but if someone is going to speak from the government side, there would be the member to speak because, after all - and I think it is an appropriate way to set the scene for this particular resolution - let's look at what the member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley said as he is quoted in the Truro Daily News of April 5, 1999 and if I may, Mr. Speaker, I am going to quote.

The by-line of course is from Stewiacke. "The Progressive Conservative policy . . ." - the light must be bad in here tonight, Mr. Speaker, my quoting will be a little ad libbing, if I am not careful - ". . . on highway improvements calls for all monies generated, either through provincial gasoline taxes or registry of motor vehicle revenues, to be spent on our highway system." April 5, 1999, so said the good member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley and I am looking forward to - if he stands in his place as I hope he does today and debates this particular resolution.

[Page 4421]

The motion says, "Therefore be it resolved that if this government won't give consumers a break at the gas pumps, it give them a break on the roads by committing the increased tax revenue from gasoline sales to roadwork throughout Nova Scotia."

The tourist season is soon upon us and there are other provinces in this particular part of the region that advertise heavily as destinations for tourists who arrive on the wonderful East Coast of Canada, one of them Prince Edward Island. They advertise golf, beaches, sun and they also are out there saying, low gas prices.

I can tell you that on many occasions, when I happened to be touring the Maritimes in the summertime and when I look at the difference between our gas prices and a neighbouring province much smaller than ourselves, that has the foresight of having regulatory pricing in effect and to have the fact that gas prices don't just rise as they wish, that there is a process put in place on that island, that is an attractive feature.

I am sure there are many people, just before they pull out of Borden-Carleton, just before they get on the Wood Island ferry, they probably say to themselves, I hope the weather is good in Nova Scotia for the rest of my trip, but I am also going to fill up before I leave Prince Edward Island.

Unfortunately, this government will not take that initiative. On the other hand, because of the gas prices currently being charged in this province, there are increased revenues from gas prices. The resolution says it quite simply, that it would be appropriate, would it not, to use these increased gas revenues and to turn them around and, like the good member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley said as he so passionately stood when he was in this place as a member of the Third Party at the time, and said, that is what we will do.

In fact, it says in the blue book, one of those ones that is highlighted for me that I can't see again, I apologize for that, on Page 42, "Dedicate all taxes raised through motor vehicle licensing and fuel sales to highway construction and maintenance to provide a solid base for highway spending which may be increased depending on public need and available revenues;" now, that blue book that my good friend for Dartmouth North waves so triumphantly in here, is obviously his bedtime reading. That blue book was one of the most important features of that campaign. Yet, more importantly, I believe there is no more credible member across this province than the good member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley. He is recognized from one end of this province to another. He is recognized either because of his previous career or because of his municipal experience.

I run into seniors in my area. In fact, I saw someone at a senior's event this past Saturday. This person was from Stewiacke, Mr. Speaker. After the event was over - it was an auction - this senior came up to me, the member for Timberlea-Prospect and said, you are in the Legislature - and I know I am not supposed to use his name, but I'll use his first name - with Brooke. He is a good member, isn't he Bill? At that time, I said to myself, here is

[Page 4422]

another Nova Scotian who knows about the member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley or maybe I should have corrected that senior from Stewiacke at that time. She knew of him when he was over here, when he could speak up, when he could have his say because that member, as in a previous career in that transportation business, that member knew of the road situations.

I can remember him saying, on an earlier day, and I believe there wasn't one, was it tablespoon or teaspoon?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Teaspoon.

MR. ESTABROOKS: One teaspoon of asphalt and there was that member again so passionately speaking up for the highways in Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley. Now, based upon the common sense solution offered in the Truro Daily News by that member and also in the blue book, we have increased tax revenues from gasoline. That is a given. Why should that money disappear into the black hole of revenues in this province? All members present know there are roads throughout this province that are in embarrassing shape.

The Minister of Transportation has said, on many occasions, he wished he had more revenue; he wishes he had more funds to allocate to that important issue of roads across this province, not just the twinning of Highway No. 101, not just the twinning of Highway No. 103 from Exit 3 to Exit 5 in Timberlea-Prospect, to be able to put a sizable amount of revenue in place to address roads and the need for road improvements all across this province. Every member of this Legislature, I am sure, could point out to the member for Hants West and the Minister of Transportation and Public Works roads that need attention.

Then there was the solution for revenues and there is the solution again in this resolution, that the funds that are raised from gasoline taxes not be allowed to disappear into the black hole of revenues so that the Minister of Finance can decide, well I think we should go here with that money or here with that money. If that was one of the promises that that group over there got elected on and that that member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley spoke so passionately about many times in this House, then let's take that member at his word and let's take that government on their promise. It is based on common sense. It is based on safety for roads across this province.

Mr. Speaker, general revenues have increased because of taxation on gas in this province. What is a fair price for gas? Why does it fluctuate up and conveniently, once in a while, down? Why is it traditionally always up in the summertime? Because, of course, more people are here. You see the reaction. You have heard the reaction, I am sure, from the people that have visited the beautiful coal mining Town of Springhill or anywhere along the Parrsboro Shore. You have heard the reaction from other Canadians and Americans about the price of our gas in Nova Scotia. But if in turn you could say that gas prices are high because we use the tax revenue from it to improve our highways, then those two things, in

[Page 4423]

sequence, Nova Scotians, tourists, people throughout this country perhaps could say, now maybe we will pay higher gas prices if we knew the money was going to the seat of our pants. After all, it is pretty rough some days when you travel the roads in this province.

I thank you for your time, Mr. Speaker, and I look forward to hearing the member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley. Hopefully he is the requested speaker designated this evening to speak on this topic.

MR. SPEAKER: If there are no further speakers on this issue, we will - I thought we were going to be able to take a break a few minutes early.

The honourable member for Cape Breton West.

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, I was disappointed babbling Brooke didn't get up, but that is to be expected, that is his style, hide and seek, that is the way he operates. He has always been a champion of the people until the time comes to put his money where his mouth is. What did he do? He caved in. Do you why? Because the evidence is overwhelming against this government about what it is doing to the consumers of Nova Scotia. Yes.

Well, let's look at the Tory blue book promise, as had been quoted a little earlier by the good member for Timberlea-Prospect. On Page 26, "Dedicate all taxes raised through motor vehicle licensing and fuel sales to highway construction and maintenance to provide a solid base for highway spending which may be increased depending on public need and available revenues." Do you know they said that they were going to have every penny, every penny, go towards the highway system of Nova Scotia in year two?

They just had their budget approved, and what do we see? The minister standing in this House and saying, maybe we will have it by the end of our term. Well, I would say that is a little slippage, wouldn't you? Wouldn't you say that is backpedalling?

AN HON. MEMBER: Backpedalling? Backsliding.

MR. MACKINNON: Backsliding, backpedalling. Where was the good member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley when this was being rammed through the House? Where was he? Why didn't he stand in this place? Not once during the budgetary process did he stand and defend the government on this issue.

Mr. Speaker, do you know that since the Tories came to power here in Nova Scotia that furnace oil prices have risen by 50 per cent? That is 50 per cent in Nova Scotia since this Tory Government took power. And what do they do? They offer a $50 tax rebate. They scrape hundreds upon hundreds of dollars from the seniors, the low income, the fixed income, the single parent families, and what do they do? They give them a $50 rebate, and

[Page 4424]

then say we are going to tax you, it is taxable income, until they got caught by the Opposition and the federal government stepped in, and where were they? They were like little puppy dogs with their tails between their legs, running, scurrying for cover.

Where was the good member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley? Where was the champion of the people? You wonder why the media have dubbed him babbling Brooke. Yes, his name is recognized from one end of this province to the other for being a champion of the people, but he is losing his title. It is fading, the veneer is getting very thin, because he knows, like all members of the House and all Nova Scotians, it is getting almost impossible to defend this government that has raised a considerable amount of tax dollars in Nova Scotia, and saw fuel, home heating fuel, prices in Nova Scotia rise by 50 per cent in the two years since they came to power.

Mr. Speaker, yes, where was babbling Brooke when we needed him? It is terrible.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I think the honourable member would agree that to call other members names in the House would be very unparliamentary. It is repetitious as well, but mostly unparliamentary. As the member will recall, one time I said, a year or so back, not very nice either. I would ask the honourable member to refrain from that. The honourable member will realize that other members have time on the floor as well, and I certainly wouldn't want to see a reaction as a result of that.

[6:15 p.m.]

MR. MACKINNON: I thank you, Mr. Speaker. I think it was somewhat of a tribute to the honourable member in some ways. But let's see where the honourable member will stand after the devastating news today on Sempra. Let's see where the honourable members of the government, while Sempra is planning on pulling out of Nova Scotia, where is the government hiding? What does the Minister of Economic Development say? Go to the URB. Another five years down the tubes. That is what we can expect, hundreds of job going up in smoke because of this government's policy, because of the lack of foresight, the lack of ability to negotiate. (Interruptions)

Foresight. Yes, it is a term that is foreign to this group across the way, Mr. Speaker. That is a very difficult word for some of those members because they can't see too far ahead. Clearly, with the actions taken by Sempra today, can we imagine what is going to happen when Sempra pulls out of Nova Scotia? It told its employees today to go look for other jobs. Is this why the government is so anxious to get out of the House? Scurry and run? Well, well, it is just not Brooke, it is not the honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley. (Interruptions) Hundreds of jobs, thousands, hundreds of thousands, millions of dollars at stake. That will have a dramatic impact on the cost of fuel for all the domestic, commercial, and industrial consumers in this province.

[Page 4425]

What is the government doing? You go to the URB, we are not going to deal with you. Because the government signed agreements with Sempra and didn't understand the magnitude of the distribution process, forcing (Interruptions) Mr. Speaker, it is important to have a cheerleading section, but just a cheerleading section, okay?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Would the honourable member relinquish part of his time?

MR. MACKINNON: Not likely, I am just getting started.

MR. SPEAKER: No, I didn't think so.

MR. MACKINNON: I realize, Mr. Speaker, there is a message there.

The fact of the matter is the government knew full well when it signed with Sempra that they intended to have the distribution line along the shoulder of the highways in Nova Scotia. Then, when the pressure was on, what did they do? They cut and ran and left Sempra holding the bag. Sempra, put in a very untenable position, wants to - as any reasonable business operation would want to do because they have to realize a profit - renegotiate. What does the government say? No, go away bad dream, you go to the URAB, which would mean another five year delay; jobs would be lost.

Mr. Speaker, this government has failed in just about everything. It failed with Newfoundland; it failed with the highway agreements on Highway No. 101; it failed on health care. The Minister of Health himself has said he has failed to recruit doctors in this province. So what are they going to do? Download and let the municipalities do it. Yes, they are going to fail the consumers in Nova Scotia, and this whole thing, this whole promise from the blue book, this big promise that all the fuel taxes would be used on highway construction and maintenance is now, poof, up in smoke.

Well, well, I will be very interested to see what the honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley has to say to defend this 50 per cent increase in home fuel for seniors and those on low and fixed incomes. I wonder how his constituents feel. I wonder how he feels defending the inadequate decision-making policies of this government as it pertains to Sempra and hundreds of jobs lost, and the spinoff effect: Millions of dollars up in smoke.

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

The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, first of all I would like to thank the honourable members opposite for providing insight into this resolution before us this evening. I know the honourable Transportation Critic for the NDP is concerned about roads.

[Page 4426]

On numerous occasions in the House, whether it be via Question Period, a resolution or just during general debate, when he digresses from second reading and third reading, being germane as he is, sometimes he does stray a wee bit. The honourable member for Cape Breton West certainly is an interesting representative of his people.

I give him full marks for being returned to the Legislature time and time again, because obviously he is doing a good job for his people. However, tonight, I think we have to recognize that the resolution that is before us does talk about giving consumers a break, it does talk about roads and, of course, it does talk about gasoline taxes. For the record, I think it is very important, that we all recognize that the average price today for gasoline is approximately 82 cents per litre or 81.9 cents.

Mr. Speaker, if you break that price of 81.9 cents down, 47.7 cents is the industry's take, so to speak; (Interruptions) 10 cents is the federal excise tax, there is a flat rate of 10 cents on every litre that you purchase that goes to the members opposite in the right corner, their federal cousins in Ottawa, that is 10 cents; the provincial fuel tax, and we are talking to the resolution that is put forward by the honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect, 13.5 cents is the provincial fuel tax; and, of course, 10.7 cents is attributable to the HST. Everybody knows that 15 per cent is applied to the price of gasoline, as a consequence of an arrangement that the provincial Liberal Government of the day made with their federal cousins in Ottawa.

I just wanted to provide some facts regarding the purchase price of a litre of gasoline. Let's also remember, I remember when I was a member of the trucking industry, when, in fact, we used to buy our fuel by the gallon. But under the Trudeau regime and some of the things that Pierre Trudeau did, the late Prime Minister of Canada, were commendable and supportable but, do you remember, Mr. Speaker, I bet you do, I know you are much younger than I am, but I think you remember when you used to buy gasoline by the gallon. It was very convenient for the federal Liberals in Ottawa to move us from imperial measure to metric measure.

Just to bring us up to date, I don't mean to go down memory lane too far, but let's just bring ourselves up to date a little bit regarding the honourable member for Cape Breton The Lakes who seems to be quite energized this evening. Let's remember that in 1996, his federal cousins, the Chretien Liberals in Ottawa, applied 2 additional cents to the federal excise tax, bringing it from 8 cents to 10 cents. That 2 cents, Canadians, from one coast to the other coast in this great country, were told that once the deficit, not the debt because we know we have an incredible debt nationally, but once the deficit was eliminated, which it was in 1999, then the federal government would remove the federal fuel excise tax, or at least that 2 cents.

But, do you know what happened, the deficit was eliminated and we have their federal cousins boasting, we have Chretien and Martin and Tobin and all the spin doctors in Ottawa for the Liberal Government saying, we have a surplus here, we have a surplus there. Well,

[Page 4427]

why don't they live up to their commitment and remove the 2 cents. When you do the math, for those of us who still refer to imperial measure once in a while, that equates to over 9 cents a gallon. The audacity, the boldness of the federal Chretien Liberals to apply a tax to remove a national deficit and promise to Canadians (Interruption) The honourable member for Cape Breton The Lakes obviously . . .

MR. BRIAN BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. Like all Nova Scotians, I am wondering, and I stayed here tonight to listen to the late debate to find out what this government did with the extra $15 million it received as a result of the price increases last year on gasoline and fuel that affected, negatively, I might add, the low earners.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Thank you for that intervention. The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

MR. TAYLOR: That is a fair question, and I would be very honoured to answer that question in a somewhat round-about way. The honourable member will understand what I am talking about. Do you know the former member for Kings West, George Moody, and myself, had an opportunity to examine the expenditures relative to fuel tax and highway work in 1991 and 1992, and do you know that the Tory Government spent at least the equivalent of road taxes on the Department of Transportation's budget? (Applause) That was the Tory Government of the day.

Now, when the Savage swarm came to office in 1993, do you know that they had the audacity and the boldness to cut the transportation budget and as a consequence, roads all across Nova Scotia, especially in Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley, were neglected from one end of this province to the other? We are trying and we will live up to that commitment, we might even exceed putting the road taxes into the Department of Transportation budget. That is a promise we made, that is a promise we will keep for Nova Scotians. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member for Lunenburg West.

MR. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, I wonder if the member would accept a question?

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Lunenburg West on a question.

MR. DOWNE: The question is, he is over here bashing at the Liberals, yet, when he has a problem about the Tory Government's situation he comes to the Liberals and asks us to ask the questions of the Tories. I just wonder if he wants to bash the Tories later in another late debate?

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

[Page 4428]

MR. TAYLOR: Yes, I have absolutely no idea where the honourable member is coming from, but the fact of the matter is, the Liberal Government, the Savage swarm, were the authors of the roads that we have in Nova Scotia today and they should be ashamed of themselves. I am absolutely embarrassed as a provincial politician to say that the federal Liberals in Ottawa are withholding fuel tax from Nova Scotians; and the Savage swarm. That member for Lunenburg West was a Minister of Transportation at one time who absolutely, completely neglected the biggest riding in Nova Scotia, Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley. This is a riding made up of 63 communities with hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of miles of roads. Now he is in here asking me questions about the government of the day when, in fact, we have roads that are an absolute mess. The trucking industry in Nova Scotia is reeling from the federal fuel excise tax. It was increased, why don't they take that tax off; why doesn't his federal cousins, as Paul Martin promised to do once the deficit was eliminated?

Have you sent any letters? I have sent letters to Paul Martin asking - and the honourable member for Lunenburg West is indicating he has sent letters to Paul Martin - asking him to reduce the federal fuel excise tax and you know that is stifling tourism, stifling trucking and stifling the general public, the motorists in Nova Scotia.

They have the audacity to get up and complain about bridges, they have the boldness to get up and complain about roads when, in fact, they neglected the roads. That member - and he probably sat before he was the Minister of Finance - he'd sit there with his lips closed and he didn't say anything to Savage and his beasts when they decided to cut the Transportation budget. But they cut it and cut it and cut it (Interruption) and to the honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect, the roads, yes, are deplorable, but we are working to live up to a promise we will keep and we will put all road taxes back into the budget. (Applause)

Mr. SPEAKER: Order, please. I would like to thank the three able debaters for taking part in this discussion tonight. We will revert back to Bill No. 54, the hoist amendment.

[6:30 p.m.]

[PRIVATE AND LOCAL BILLS FOR THIRD READING]

Bill No. 54 - District of Barrington Health Professionals Assistance Act. [Debate resumed.]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Victoria.

MR. KENNETH MACASKILL: Mr. Speaker, welcome again to Bill No. 54. It is always a difficult act to follow the honourable member for the beautiful Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley, but he closed by saying that they will live up to their reputation. Of

[Page 4429]

course, he mentioned the HST. I wonder if he knows what HST means? It means health services tax. If they are living up to their promise by forcing municipalities to pay for doctors in this province, then I hope he will live up to his promise and vote against this bill.

Mr. Speaker, I didn't intend to speak on this bill, but I did make a call to the chief administrative officer at the Municipality of Victoria this morning. Not only was he shocked, they were also not informed. They were shocked and appalled. We have heard on several occasions over the debate of the last couple of days and during Question Period, some people would like to portray this bill as a case of communities doing what they have always been doing. Well, I can assure the House that our municipality has not been paying doctors' salaries.

Mr. Speaker, what are we doing? We are asking for a six months' hoist so this government will go back to the people of Nova Scotia, go back to the taxpayers of Nova Scotia and tell them what they want to do. Maybe six months will take us into when we are sitting in this House again for the fall session. This bill can be brought forward then and maybe Nova Scotians will approve of what the government is trying to do. But I can, again, assure the House that the Municipality of Victoria has not paid a doctor's salary. If they did or if any other municipality have been paying a doctor's salary, then this bill would not be necessary.

Mr. Speaker, this bill represents an abdication on the part of the government in trying to recruit doctors. Apparently, the Minister of Health is not successful in recruiting doctors. Is this a last resort, forcing and downloading it on municipalities, to get them involved in the recruitment issue? When these members were running for election in 1999, they didn't talk about taxpayers paying for doctors. As a matter of fact, we have heard, over the last several hours, about the Tory blue book and what that famous book said about doctor recruitment.

It goes on to say, "In consultation with the Nova Scotia Medical Society, immediately take steps to address the chronic shortage of family physicians in communities across Nova Scotia." Mr. Speaker, has the Medical Society been consulted on this bill? I don't believe they have. Should they be consulted? I believe they should. So let's take six months and consult with the Medical Society, put this bill on hold for six months or until we come back for the fall session. Then we may have a different outlook on what this bill really means to Nova Scotians, if they approve of what this government is trying to do.

Mr. Speaker, we have also heard, throughout the day, that the NDP did not support this bill at the Private and Local Bills Committee, but now why the change? Do they favour property tax dollars going to prop up doctors' salaries and to pay for our health care? It is clear that the government is not addressing the shortage of family physicians across Nova Scotia, unless, of course, a Conservative MLA seems to scream loud enough. In the case of the Strait-Richmond Hospital, the government doesn't have a representative or doesn't have an MLA from Richmond, so, no MLA no doctor.

[Page 4430]

Mr. Speaker, the Conservative member for Cape Breton North was successful in doctor recruitment, and I applaud the efforts of the member for Cape Breton North because a lot of people in my riding go to the Northside General Hospital for treatment and for medical attention. I am glad he was able to recruit a doctor. But, if it was a Liberal MLA there, I doubt they would have been successful.

Mr. Speaker, it would be the same as areas like Shelburne and Barrington, who can't find doctors. We find that the government or this Health Minister can't find a doctor for Barrington. This government had a chance to help the people of Barrington get doctor service last fall, and what happened, what did they do? They refused. On November 7, 2000, our Health Critic, Dr. James Smith, asked the Minister of Health if he would assist the Municipality of the District of Barrington to pay the overhead costs, the office costs for the doctors from Yarmouth to come and fill in for the absent doctor, Dr. Blair.

Mr. Speaker, we were not successful, Dr. Smith was not successful. That is why we are asking for a hoist. Somebody mentioned it already, maybe a plebiscite is the way to go, to find out by doing that that all Nova Scotians would have a say. Do they want their property tax dollars to go to topping up doctors' salaries? By doing a plebiscite, we may know. At least every Nova Scotian would then have their voices heard.

Mr. Speaker, we talked about our Health Critic, Dr. Smith asking the Health Minister if he would assist the Municipality of the District of Barrington, and a few days later we learned that the municipality was told by the Health Department or by the minister's staff not to expect any funding to keep the lights or the heat on in the doctor's office. I don't think there was any great sum of money at stake here, just a few thousand dollars. But, no, the Health Minister and the MLA had an affordable chance to make sure the people of Barrington were served by enough doctors, but they refused.

Mr. Speaker, let's ask for a six months' hoist. The issue being lost in all of this, however, is the quality of care. What does this bill do to the quality of care? Or is there a valid clinical reason for passing this bill? We don't believe there is, because we don't believe Nova Scotians want this bill passed. Nova Scotians don't want their property tax dollars to go to top up medical professionals' salaries. Let's talk about the deputy minister, the Deputy Minister of Health. According to the deputy minister, there is no benefit to allowing doctors to have their salary topped up by any municipality, Mr. Speaker. In fact, when he explained the clinical footprint to the workers at the Capital Health District the Deputy Minister, Mr. Ward, said he saw no clinical reason for communities to be engaged in doctor recruitment. Now if that is what the Deputy Minister of Health who - when I was a minister and when I'm sure most of us were ministers, we always relied on the deputy minister, he was the key strategist to all that went on in the minister's office. We took the advice of the deputy, he always had the last positive recommendation for the minister.

AN HON.MEMBER: He should know what he's talking about.

[Page 4431]

MR. MACASKILL: Mr. Speaker, maybe he doesn't know what he is talking about. Apparently the Health Minister may seem to think that, that he doesn't know what he is talking about. The whole reason for this clinical footprint which we thought was to provide benchmarks and accurate statistics, in fact the minister said at the time of the release of the footprint, this approach will have district health authorities match health resources to community needs for today, tomorrow; that is what the minister said. So let's ask the minister, how does allowing the municipality to top up salaries help district authorities match health resources to community needs for today or tomorrow? What do we expect? What does that mean?

Mr. Speaker, that is why that we ask for a hoist on this bill, that is why we feel we need six months to have this bill out to the people of Nova Scotia, to have their input, bring it back. We will have it back here at the fall sitting of the House with all the information we need whether or not taxpayers want property taxes to go into the topping up of a doctor's salary. That is why we need more input from district health authorities and from the Department of Health. We spoke earlier on about Deputy Minister Ward, and we have a tape of Mr. Ward. What is he saying on the tape? He is saying that he does not think communities should be allowed to recruit doctors. That is a very key word in the bill that we are debating today, communities should not be allowed to be involved in the process of doctor recruitment.

Mr. Speaker, I wonder how much the deputy minister knows about this bill, or does he support it? We don't know. Some of us seem to think that deep down the Minister of Health may consider that this bill may be wrong. We sincerely believe that. He knows, or at least we think he knows that it will not improve the level of care. We believe deep down too that the minister knows that this bill is a political bill that will destroy the creditability of the Department of Health and the credibility of the minister and of his clinical planning tool, the clinical footprint. So, we think it is reasonable to ask for a six months' hoist so we can receive the input we are looking for, whether Nova Scotians want this bill passed and whether they want their tax dollars to go to prop up doctors salaries.

Mr. Speaker, you know the timing of this bill it suspect. It was introduced about 10 days after the member for Cape Breton North claimed he had found a doctor for the Northside General Hospital, and again I applaud the efforts of the member for Cape Breton North.

[6:45 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, understandably the member for Shelburne was upset that the newest member of that caucus was able to recruit a doctor in just hours after the emergency room was about to close.

AN HON. MEMBER: He pulled a doctor out of a hat.

[Page 4432]

MR. MACASKILL: He pulled a doctor out of a hat. So, was the member for Shelburne upset? We believe he probably was and we believe that probably that is why that bill is before us today. The member for Shelburne knew that Barrington had been waiting for a year for help from the Department of Health or from the minister. The people of Barrington needed a doctor and the Minister of Health was not able to help. He saw a newly-elected member get a doctor in just hours and we believe the member for Shelburne was upset and he said to himself, why not Barrington? Yes, why not Barrington.

Mr. Speaker, the Department of Health and the Health Minister are letting the people of Barrington down. We sincerely believe that. It is a clear case of failure of the Department of Health to debase health care decisions for sound, clinical reasons.

In the course of the debate today on this bill, a number of people mentioned the amount paid to the Deputy Minister of Health. There have been numbers kicked around that reach as high as $180,000, but as I said earlier, we pay a deputy minister that kind of money and the Health Minister has some questions about following his advice. Mr. Speaker, that is why we asked for a six months' hoist on this bill.

Let's look if doctors are recruited or settled within rich communities, where will the top-up of their salaries end? Will doctors choose what communities they will go into, where they can get the highest salary? Will they stop? How long will they stay there? Maybe a year, maybe six months, then they will look for a raise. Then what will the municipalities do? Mr. Speaker, in this bill the bottom line is that the wealthiest communities will get the doctors. What will happen to the poor communities? They probably will not.

Mr. Speaker, do you think Barrington will be able to compete with Kentville? Will it be able to compete with Bridgewater? Will it be able to compete with richer municipalities like Truro or New Glasgow? If it does, what will happen? In a bidding war Barrington will likely lose. (Interruptions) I am glad that when I am able to take a drink somebody will fill in for me. It is very convenient.

Mr. Speaker, can Canso compete with Port Hawkesbury for doctors? I wonder, can they? Can the beautiful County of Victoria afford to add to the salaries of doctors to settle in Neils Harbour or Baddeck? I don't think so. We are very proud of the doctors we have in Victoria County in both Neils Harbour and Baddeck. We are very proud and we are very pleased with the health services we have in Victoria County.

Mr. Speaker, between 1993 and 1996-97, something like that, we have seen three new hospitals built in my riding. A new hospital in Baddeck, a new hospital in Neils Harbour, and a new hospital in Cheticamp which serves the Pleasant Bay area, which is in my riding. We are able to attract doctors, and we are able to keep doctors. But how long will we keep them? Hopefully for a long time. If doctors are going to be recruited by the money that the

[Page 4433]

municipalities have, we don't have much money, we don't have any money that could be considered a surplus.

Mr. Speaker, what would happen to the municipalities that have projects out under the infrastructure program, have money set aside for infrastructure programs, for water or for sewer, which are very important to many municipalities? They don't have a doctor, they have two choices, cancel their infrastructure program or get a doctor. These are tough decisions. They are decisions that I would hate to see my municipality faced with.

Mr. Speaker, that is the reason we asked the government to put this bill on hold for a few months, or at least consider an amendment. We are not opposed - and it has been said here over and over many times - to grants relative to helping doctors settle in the community. What bothers us is the fact that taxpayers' dollars will be going to top up salaries of doctors. That is the key word, topping up doctors' salaries.

Mr. Speaker, take for instance the Cape Breton Regional Municipality, can they afford to compete with Halifax Regional Municipality for doctors? Not likely. Why? Because the Cape Breton Regional Municipality doesn't have any money. They don't have the money to get into a bidding war for doctors; they don't have money for a lot of things that they need. But if they are forced into making choices, they would probably use what little money they have, if they had it, to put it towards a doctor's salary, if that was the case, and if this government forces that upon municipalities.

Mr. Speaker, we believe that this bill will be a disaster for universal care in our province. That is why I am so surprised that the members of the New Democratic Party are supporting this bill. Why the change of heart, from the time they sat at the Committee on Private and Local Bills, when they were so opposed to the bill? Now, in the House of Assembly, on the floor of the House, they are supporting the government in their efforts to recruit doctors through taxpayers' money.

Mr. Speaker, we all believed that the New Democratic Party was a defender of Medicare, but I guess universal access is for wealthy communities only, and they agree with that. Poor communities and poor regions cannot afford to be in the bidding war, because the poorer communities will lose and the richer regions will be able to attract the best, the cream of the crop. That is why we ask, we want this bill to be hoisted. This bill is another example of the government pitting community against community or municipality against municipality. The worst part of this bill is that it is a Private Member's Bill, supported by the government. If the government believes in this bill, why shouldn't they be unequivocally in their support? Why are they supporting it so strong? No, this bill represents a plea for help from the District of Barrington.

[Page 4434]

Mr. Speaker, it is a wish on the part of a community to get access to the same level of care as everyone else in this province. This bill is not fair. The government has to get a handle on the physician shortage, and that is the role of the Minister of Health and his department. The famous Tory blue book also said, "In consultation with the Nova Scotia Medical Society, reviewing, and where necessary, amending the criteria used by government in defining under-serviced areas to ensure appropriate incentives are provided to attract doctors to all communities in need of family physicians;".

Mr. Speaker, I ask the government today, where are the incentives? Where is the help for the people of Barrington when they need it? There is no help. This bill says to communities, you are on your own. Good luck, but don't come to us for help. We have no help to offer you. That is not good government and it is not good health care management. We believe it is an embarrassment to Nova Scotians as a government and we believe it is an embarrassment to the Health Minister.

Mr. Speaker, I know the members of the government criticize us for holding up this bill as we find so many flaws in it, but we are doing with this bill what our constituents would want us to do. My conversation with the CAO this morning clearly demonstrated the disappointment they had with the government in forcing downloading on the municipalities without any consultation, either with the municipalities or with the UNSM, the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities.

Mr. Speaker, that is the reason that we want a six months' hoist on this bill. We want to ask questions and we want to make sure that this government doesn't have a hidden agenda. We want to make sure that Nova Scotians know what this bill is all about. We believe that there is a hidden agenda. We think there is more to this bill than just simply trying to find a doctor for Barrington. That is why we ask for a six months' hoist, to let people of Nova Scotia have a say.

Mr. Speaker, in closing, I want to bring to the floor of the House the views as expressed to me this morning by the Chief Administrative Officer of Victoria County, and his displeasure with this bill and what it would mean if Victoria County got into a bidding war in trying to recruit a doctor. With that, I ask for adjournment on this debate.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is to adjourn. A recorded vote has been called for.

Ring the bells. Call in the members.

[7:00 p.m.]

[The Division bells were rung.]

MR. SPEAKER: [Are the Whips satisfied?]

[Page 4435]

A recorded vote was called on adjournment of the debate. The Clerk will call the roll. I would ask the members to keep the noise down while the Clerks are calling the roll.

[The Clerk calls the roll.]

[8:00 p.m.]

YEAS NAYS

Mr. Rodney MacDonald

Mr. Christie

Mr. Russell

Mr. LeBlanc

Mr. Muir

Miss Purves

Mr. Balser

Ms. McGrath

Mr. Ronald Chisholm

Mr. Olive

Mr. MacIsaac

Mr. DeWolfe

Mr. Taylor

Mr. Dooks

Mr. Chataway

Mr. Clarke

Mr. Hendsbee

Mrs. Baillie

Mr. Morash

Mr. Chipman

Mr. Barnet

Mr. O'Donnell

Mr. Hurlburt

Dr. Smith

Mr. Boudreau

Mr. Steele

THE CLERK: All present voted in favour.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is carried.

The honourable Government House Leader.

[Page 4436]

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I move the House do now adjourn to meet on the morrow at the hour of 9:00 a.m. The House will sit until 23:59, midnight. The order of business will be Private and Local Bills for Third Reading and Public Bills for Third Reading.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is to adjourn.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

[The motion is carried.]

MR. SPEAKER: The House is adjourned until 9:00 a.m.

[The House rose at 8:02 p.m.]

[Page 4437]

NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3)

RESOLUTION NO. 1551

By: Mr. David Hendsbee (Preston)

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

Whereas just a short three months ago, this same member was quoted in the Cape Breton Post as saying, "It's absolutely a great thing for Cape Breton. It's a well needed boost for the municipality."; and

Whereas Monday night in this House the member for Cape Breton The Lakes changed his tune suddenly and stated his opposition to the initial proposal; and

Whereas during debate, the member instead dismissed the benefits of the proposal to the Cape Breton region;

Therefore be it resolved that the member for Cape Breton The Lakes define for his constituents just whether he is in support of the concept of equalization or against it.

RESOLUTION NO. 1552

By: Mr. Frank Chipman (Annapolis)

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

Whereas Middleton Regional High School's athletics program is extensive, covering a wide range of sports; and

Whereas at the 24th Annual MRHS Activity Awards, the school's top male and female athletes were honoured in both the junior and senior levels for their outstanding achievements and performance throughout the year; and

Whereas at the senior level, Christina Richard, the best defensive soccer player and outstanding player in both volleyball and basketball was named Female Athlete of the Year and the male athlete, Jacob Harris, also singled out by the Nova Scotia School Athletic Association for his celebration of school sport, was soccer MVP and most dedicated player on the rugby team; at the junior level, Tracey Campbell, also MVP with the basketball team, was named Female Athlete of the Year and James Mitchell named MVP for soccer, tied with

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David MacFarlane, MVP volleyball, basketball and who was also awarded NSSAF Scholar-Athlete for Male Athlete of the Year;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate these young athletes for showing dedication to their team and sport and also commend all the teams' players whose skill, effort and participation is so vital to their school spirit.

RESOLUTION NO. 1553

By: Mr. Frank Chipman (Annapolis)

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

Whereas the Chretien Government is delaying the passage of legislation, enforcing stronger criminal code amendments to combat child pornography and sexual stalking on the Internet; and

Whereas federal Justice Minister Anne MacLellan is refusing to introduce separate child pornography legislation and continues to insist it must be part of overall amendments being made to the Canadian Criminal Code; and

Whereas Canada's Criminal Intelligence Service Agency in their 2000 annual report noted that incidents of child sexual exploitation are increasing in Eastern Canada and yet it remains an area of criminal activity that is largely undetected or not reported;

Therefore be it resolved that the Chretien Government stop treating this issue with kid gloves and get down to work like other countries have and get the necessary legislation passed to assist police agencies across this country and CSIS in curtailing this heinous crime.

RESOLUTION NO. 1554

By: Mr. Mark Parent (Kings North)

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

Whereas Peter Goucher has served with distinction as the principal of the Cornwallis District High School for the past seven years; and

Whereas during these past seven years, among many other achievements, Peter has instilled a sense of school and student pride; and

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Whereas Peter will be retiring as Principal of CDHS in June of this year;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House of Assembly congratulate Mr. Peter Goucher on the excellent work he has done and wish him all the best in his future endeavours.

RESOLUTION NO. 1555

By: Hon. Murray Scott (The Speaker)

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

Whereas public speaking helps children gain confidence in themselves at an early age and express themselves more easily and also breaks down the nervousness most individuals experience when faced with speaking in front of people; and

Whereas under the guidance of their teacher and in the non-threatening environment of their classroom, exercises in public speaking build a child's confidence among their peers, helps them learn to think on their feet and teaches critical thinking skills; and

Whereas at Junction Road Elementary School, Grades 3 and 4 students were engaged in a public speaking contest and while this exercise ensures all the participants are winners, awards were presented to the top-placed students;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House commend Junction Road Elementary School for teaching this important skill and congratulate Grade 3 students: Emily Moore, first place; Brittany Barton, second place; Lindsay Meekins, third place; and Grade 4 students: Kevin Hunter; first place; Luke Gallagher, second place; and Tyrel Langille, third place, on their achievements.

RESOLUTION NO. 1556

By: Hon. Murray Scott (The Speaker)

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

Whereas the Golden Opportunities Vocational Rehabilitation Centre (GOVRC), a vocational training facility for mentally challenged adults, works to prepare individuals to lead productive lives; and

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Whereas GOVRC recently held an open house to give clients a chance to demonstrate their skills and to show the community and business district the variety of products available at the woodworking department, the services they provide in the contract department and the new products grown in their greenhouse; and

Whereas the open house was also an opportunity for the GOVRC staff to acknowledge their many volunteers and present milestone certificates to clients: Bev Jewkes, Faye Brooks, Linda Howard, Daniel MacArthur and Jenny Brown, for their years of work and participation at the workshop;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate all the clients for participating in the workshop, thank the many volunteers who support the facility and its board of directors whose ongoing work at the centre brings productivity and satisfaction to so many people's lives.

RESOLUTION NO. 1557

By: Hon. Murray Scott (The Speaker)

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

Whereas public speaking helps children gain confidence in themselves at an early age and express themselves more easily and also breaks down the nervousness most individuals experience when faced with speaking in front of people; and

Whereas under the guidance of their teacher and in the non-threatening environment of their classroom, exercises in public speaking build a child's confidence among their peers, helps them learn to think on their feet and teaches critical thinking skills; and

Whereas at West End Memorial Elementary School, Grades 3 and 4 students were engaged in a public speaking contest and while this exercise means all the participants are winners, awards were presented to the top-placed students;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House commend West End Memorial Elementary School for teaching this important skill and congratulate Grade 3 students: Wesley Herrett, first place; Michael Ryan, second place; and Megan McNutt, third place; and Grade 4 students: Stephanie Capon, first place; Eden Grant, second place; and Alissa Quinn, third place, on their achievements.

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RESOLUTION NO. 1558

By: Hon. Murray Scott (The Speaker)

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

Whereas Ropak Inc., Can-Am Division, has been honoured with the President's Award for Outstanding Achievement in recognition of the plant's exceptional performance level in the year 2000; and

Whereas out of nine plants in Canada and the United States, it was Ropak in Springhill that exceeded the company's goal for 2000 in regard to finances, sales and production hours, despite uncertainty at the time about the future of the plant; and

Whereas this success comes as a result of the contribution of each and every one of the 106 employees which Ropak has acknowledged by giving each employee a gift;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House applaud the hard-working employees of Ropak Inc. in Springhill for creating growth at their plant and congratulate them for the well-deserved recognition they have received from the company's president.

RESOLUTION NO. 1559

By: Hon. Gordon Balser (Minister of Economic Development)

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

Whereas the Digby and Area Recreation Commission recently attracted the attention of Adventure Racing Ltd. and as a result the Digby area hosted, on May 25th and May 26th, one of the Raid the North Adventure Racing events that are being held across Canada; and

Whereas 32 teams of four healthy and determined individuals competed in the 36 hour endurance trek through the wilderness of Digby and Annapolis Counties; and

Whereas the participants who were from all over North America and some as far away as Europe were impressed with the community, so much so that many have indicated that they will return;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House applaud the efforts of the Digby and Area Recreation Commission for a job well done.

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RESOLUTION NO. 1560

By: Hon. Gordon Balser (Minister of Economic Development)

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

Whereas for many years Oren Foster has been known to the residents of southwestern Nova Scotia for his numerous articles chronicling his Second World War experiences with the West Nova Scotia Regiment; and

Whereas these stories have provided insight into the life of the ordinary soldier who was serving his country at this very difficult period of history; and

Whereas Foster Green convinced Paul Sean Grieve of Predator Entertainment to do a film documentary of Mr. Foster;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House applaud the efforts of Mr. Foster to ensure that we will always remember the courage and sacrifice of these individuals and congratulate the filmmakers for their initiative.

RESOLUTION NO. 1561

By: Mr. James DeWolfe (Pictou East)

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

Whereas schools teach our children important life skills in addition to academics; and

Whereas extracurricular activity in school promotes a wide range of positive qualities such as attaining physical health and athletic excellence, achieving personal goals, being a team player, and contributing to our communities; and

Whereas Westville High School recently handed out its non-academic awards to recognize the special achievement of its students;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House congratulate Nicole MacKenzie, Kaitlyn Watters, Megan Chennell, Lloyd Muirhead and Lindsay Tye for the special contributions they have made to Westville High School and community for their achievements in athletics and school spirit.

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RESOLUTION NO. 1562

By: Mr. Frank Chipman (Annapolis)

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

Whereas Middleton's weightlifters are no lightweights, particularly when it comes to powerlifting competitions; and

Whereas the Nova Scotia Powerlifting Championships were held in early May and saw four competitors based in Middleton awarded with medals; and

Whereas Jamie Peppard won gold in the 125 kg class and Shawn Challoner's gold was earned in the 82.5 kg class while in the 110 kg class, Jason Weaver finished second and in the 100 kg event, third place went to Emile Belliveau;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House congratulate these athletes for their provincial medals and wish them all the best as they prepare for a spot at the national competitions this winter.

RESOLUTION NO. 1563

By: Mr. James DeWolfe (Pictou East)

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

Whereas Saint Francis Xavier University's Information Systems Degree is an applied discipline which prepares students for professional careers in the field of computer-based systems; and

Whereas today's knowledge-based economy is rapidly expanding and graduates of information systems degree programs are in high demand; and

Whereas this year Melanie Dawn MacCulloch of Little Harbour has graduated with a BIS and won the silver medal for the highest average in the final three years of a Bachelor of Information Systems;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Melanie Dawn MacCulloch on her recent graduation and her high standing and wish her well as she explores her options for developing her career.

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RESOLUTION NO. 1564

By: Mr. James DeWolfe (Pictou East)

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

Whereas community policing is about preventing crime and it is an important way to make communities safer; and

Whereas when the people of communities like Westville work together on crime prevention they have seen results deterring crime, the reduction of fear and the raising of confidence in the citizens of the area; and

Whereas Westville Citizens Crime Prevention Association has engaged in building a healthier community and recently raised nearly $1,200 to support their efforts;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House commend the Westville Citizens Crime Prevention Association for bringing citizen's crime prevention to their community and congratulate them on the success of their fundraising efforts.

RESOLUTION NO. 1565

By: Mr. Robert Chisholm (Halifax Atlantic)

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

Whereas the Government of Lebanon has determined the International Day of the Lebanese Emigrant to recognize the post-war contributions of Lebanese abroad to the rebuilding of Lebanon; and

Whereas the Lebanese community in Halifax celebrated the 1st Annual International Day of the Lebanese Emigrant on Saturday, May 26th at Heritage Hall in Pier 21; and

Whereas the Lebanese community has been making contributions to Nova Scotia for over 150 years;

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize the last day of the second week of March as the International Day of the Lebanese Emigrant and congratulate George Arab who was presented with the first Emigrant of the Year for his contribution to the well-being of the Lebanese community in Nova Scotia.

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RESOLUTION NO. 1566

By: Mr. James DeWolfe (Pictou East)

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

Whereas always striving to improve the quality care we give to our seniors is one way of showing our appreciation for their lifelong contributions to our communities; and

Whereas addressing health and safety issues is key to ensuring that quality care for residents and the staff who look after then; and

Whereas the Valley View Villa in Stellarton annually recognizes a staff member or a volunteer for their contributions to their health and safety committee;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Louise Coady, Quality Assurance Coordinator at the Valley View Villa, for being awarded a plaque in recognition of her efforts to make the home a safer place for residents to live and for staff to work.

RESOLUTION NO. 1567

By: Mr. Timothy Olive (Dartmouth South)

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

Whereas the Writers' Federation of Nova Scotia has just recently awarded the Dartmouth Book Award for Non-Fiction to Mr. Harry Chapman; and

Whereas Harry Chapman of Dartmouth won the literary award for his history of Dartmouth entitled In the Wake of the Alderney; and

Whereas this tremendous writer has also authored several other books outlining the incredible history of the city including Sketches of Old Dartmouth and Dartmouth's Day of Anguish;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this Legislature commend Mr. Chapman for this honour and for utilizing his talents to preserve the very rich history of the beautiful City of Dartmouth.

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RESOLUTION NO. 1568

By: Mr. Frank Chipman (Annapolis)

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

Whereas the performances of coaches and athletes are often supported by the tireless efforts of the people working behind the scenes; and

Whereas the Investors Group Community Sport Administration Award is presented to a deserving person who demonstrates outstanding commitment and service in an administrative capacity for a club, organization or event that results in a strong impact for coaches and athletes; and

Whereas Shelley Williams, President of the Middleton Minor Hockey Association, was recently presented with Investors Group Community Sport Administrator Award;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House commend Shelley Williams for her dedication, organizational skills, enthusiasm and leadership that she has demonstrated towards minor hockey and the contribution this has made to the community of Middleton.

RESOLUTION NO. 1569

By: Mrs. Muriel Baillie (Pictou West)

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

Whereas Ronnie Heighton of River John has been a fisherman for 35 years; and

Whereas Mr. Heighton has also served 12 terms as President of the Northumberland Fisherman's Association; and

Whereas Mr. Heighton is putting this lifetime of experience to use as owner and operator of Landlubbers Lobster and Seafood, specializing in lobster, mussels, haddock, scallops and flounder;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House wish Ronnie Heighton good fortune as he embarks upon his new business, Landlubbers Lobster and Seafood, along the Sunrise Trail.

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RESOLUTION NO. 1570

By: Hon. Murray Scott (The Speaker)

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

Whereas on June 18, 2001, the Masonic Lodge in Springhill, Laurie Lodge No. 70, of the Grand Registry of Nova Scotia, will be celebrating its 125th Anniversary; and

Whereas the Lieutenant Governor of Nova Scotia, the Honourable Myra Freeman, and His Honour Larry Freeman will be attending in Springhill to help celebrate this very memorable occasion along with members of Laurie Lodge and their spouses; and

Whereas the Most Worshipful Tabour Jan (Ted) Caulier, the Grand Master of Masons in Nova Scotia, will also be in attendance at Laurie Lodge to recognize this anniversary;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of the Nova Scotia Legislature congratulate Laurie Lodge No. 70 and its members on their 125th Anniversary and wish them all the very best in the future.