Assemblée Législative de la Nouvelle-Écosse

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21 septembre 2017

HANSARD 01/02-76

















HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY



DEBATES AND PROCEEDINGS



Speaker: Honourable Murray Scott



Published by Order of the Legislature by Hansard Reporting Services and printed by the Queen's Printer.



Available on INTERNET at http://www.gov.ns.ca/legislature/hansard/



Annual subscriptions available from the Office of the Speaker.





Second Session



WEDNESDAY, APRIL 3, 2002





TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE
PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS:
Health - Valley District Health Authority: Equitable Funding -
Provide, Mr. Robert Chisholm 7723
Fin. - Civil Servants: Collective Agreement - Negotiate, Mr. M. Parent 7724
GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 2842, Nova Scotia: CNNmoney.com - Holiday Designation,
Hon. Rodney MacDonald 7724
Vote - Affirmative 7725
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS:
No. 106, Guardianship Act, Hon. M. Baker 7725
No. 107, Land Registration Act, Hon. A. MacIsaac 7725
No. 108, Interjurisdictional Support Orders Act, Hon. M. Baker 7725
NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 2843, Ueffing, Ted: Death of - Tribute, Mr. J. MacDonell 7725
Vote - Affirmative 7726
Res. 2844, Health - New Waterford Hosp.: Closure - Plans,
Mr. P. MacEwan 7726
Res. 2845, Sports: Hfx. Mooseheads - Congrats., Mr. C. Clarke 7727
Res. 2846, Budget: Kings North/Kings South/Kings West MLAs -
Vote Negative, Ms. Maureen MacDonald 7727
Res. 2847, Environ. & Lbr.: Safe Drinking Water Strategy - Release,
Mr. R. MacKinnon 7728
Res. 2848, Kings Mutual Ins. Co.: Berwick Apple Dome - Congrats.,
Mr. J. Carey 7729
Vote - Affirmative 7730
Res. 2849, Pet. Dir.: Min. - Attire, Mr. J. Pye 7730
Res. 2850, Rath, Duane - 2001 N.S. Dealer of Excellence Award,
Hon. J. Muir 7731
Vote - Affirmative 7732
Res. 2851, Macdonald, Sir John A. HS/Allen, C.P. HS: Split Shifting -
Positive Approach, Mr. W. Estabrooks 7732
Vote - Affirmative 7733
Res. 2852, Lockview HS: Free the Children Chapter - Applaud,
Hon. P. Christie 7733
Vote - Affirmative 7733
Res. 2853, McCormick, Wayne: 40th Anniv. - Kinsmen Club,
Hon. J. Muir 7734
Vote - Affirmative 7734
Res. 2854, Vanthournout, WO Zach/Strong, Lt. Kyle: Bravery -
Commend, Mr. B. Taylor 7734
Vote - Affirmative 7735
Res. 2855, Sports: Westville Mavericks Jr. Girls Basketball - Congrats.,
Mr. J. DeWolfe 7735
Vote - Affirmative 7736
Res. 2856, World Cities Energy Partnership - Halifax: Membership -
Congrats., Ms. M. McGrath 7736
Vote - Affirmative 7737
Res. 2857, Deley, Stephen: Bravery - Commend, Mr. J. Chataway 7737
Vote - Affirmative 7738
Res. 2858, Owen, Allan: Int'l. Volunteer of the Year Award - Congrats.,
Mr. B. Barnet 7738
Vote - Affirmative 7739
Res. 2859, Lorraine, Jim & Tricia: Outstanding Young Farmers -
Congrats., Mr. W. Langille 7739
Vote - Affirmative 7739
Res. 2860, NSTU - Afghanistan Educ. System: Endeavour - Commend,
Mr. M. Parent 7740
Vote - Affirmative 7740
Res. 2861, Tolbart, Gwen: 2002 Women of Distinction Award (Texas) -
Congrats., Mr. F. Chipman 7740
Vote - Affirmative 7741
Res. 2862, Health - Care: Valley - Tory Members Support,
Mr. M. Samson 7741
ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS:
No. 793, Health - Care: Valley - Cancelled Surgeries, Mr. D. Dexter 7742
No. 794, Health - Care Crisis: Anna. Valley - Remedy, Mr. W. Gaudet 7744
No. 795, Health - Gov't. Cuts: Valley - Effects, Ms. Maureen MacDonald 7745
No. 796, Health - Care: Funding - Plan, Dr. J. Smith 7746
No. 797, Commun. Serv.: Doucet, Lesley Anne - Min. Action,
Mr. D. Dexter 7747
No. 798, Pet. Dir. - Laurentian Sub-basin: Boundary Dispute -
Premier's Response, Mr. Manning MacDonald 7749
No. 799, Agric. & Fish. - Enfield Pharmacy: Milk Fee - Justification,
Mr. J. MacDonell 7750
No. 800, Fin. - Budget: Balancing Failure - Prem. Admit, Mr. D. Downe 7751
No. 801, Fin. - Income Tax: Fed./Prov. - Comparison, Mr. G. Steele 7752
No. 802, Fin.: Budget Balancing/Debt Increase - Explain, Mr. D. Downe 7754
No. 803, Nat. Res.: Sustainable Forestry Fund - Status, Mr. J. MacDonell 7756
No. 804, Health - C.B. Reg. Health Care Complex: Emergency Serv. -
Report, Mr. D. Wilson 7757
No. 805, Fin. - Economics: Med. Waiting Lists - Effects, Mr. G. Steele 7759
No. 806, Women, Status of - Field Workers: Reduction - Confirm,
Mr. W. Gaudet 7761
No. 807, Environ. & Lbr.: MacNeil Report - Action, Mr. H. Epstein 7762
No. 808, Health: Pediatric Care - South Shore, Mr. D. Downe 7763
No. 809, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Hwy. Repair: License/Fuel Tax -
Revenues Apply, Mr. W. Estabrooks 7764
No. 810, Health - Strait-Richmond Hosp.: Emergency Rm. Doctor -
Retention Plans, Mr. M. Samson 7766
No. 811, Environ. & Lbr. - Minimum Wage: N.S. Workers - Value,
Mr. F. Corbett 7767
No. 812, Environ. & Lbr. - Water: Exportation - Licensing Explain,
Mr. R. MacKinnon 7768
No. 813, Environ. & Lbr.: Workplace Violence - Regs. Introduce,
Mr. F. Corbett 7770
OPPOSITION MEMBERS' BUSINESS:
PRIVATE MEMBERS' PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING:
No. 103, Health-care Premiums Prohibition Act 7771
Dr. J. Smith 7771
Hon. J. Muir 7775
Ms. Maureen MacDonald 7779
Mr. R. MacKinnon 7782
No. 102, Raw Gas Onshore-processing Act 7785
Mr. Manning MacDonald 7785
Hon. G. Balser 7789
Mr. J. Holm 7793
Mr. R. MacKinnon 7796
Hon. A. MacIsaac 7798
ADJOURNMENT:
MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5):
Econ. Dev. - Gov't. (N.S.) Approach: Liberals/NDP - Join:
Mr. C. Clarke 7800
Mr. Manning MacDonald 7803
Mr. F. Corbett 7806
Mr. H. Epstein 7807
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Thur., Apr. 4th at 2:00 p.m. 7809
NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3):
Res. 2863, Rideout, Jim: Commun. Involvement - Congrats.,
Mr. R. Hurlburt 7810
Res. 2864, Ueffing, Ted: Death of - Tribute, Mr. M. Parent 7810

[Page 7723]

HALIFAX, WEDNESDAY, APRIL 3, 2002

Fifty-eighth General Assembly

Second Session

2:00 P.M.

SPEAKER

Hon. Murray Scott

DEPUTY SPEAKERS

Mr. Brooke Taylor, Mr. Jerry Pye, 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 Cape Breton North:

Therefore be it resolved that the Liberals and NDP stop the rhetoric on economic development and join the government in its progressive and positive approaches that are moving Nova Scotia's economy forward. (Applause)

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

We will begin the daily routine.

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present, on behalf of the Leader of the Official Opposition, Mr. Dexter, a petition. I actually have 25,000 signatures in these two boxes here that I would like to table. The petition reads as follows: "We, the undersigned, demand that no more cuts be made to health services within the Valley District Health Authority, and we are prepared to continue our protest until the government provides equitable funding for health care in the Valley."

7723

[Page 7724]

Mr. Speaker, these were delivered by the hundreds of Valley residents who are now inside and outside the Legislature, and they have asked that these petitions with their signatures, some 25,000, be tabled in this House and I would do so on their behalf.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable member for Kings North.

MR. MARK PARENT: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition. The operative clause is, "We the undersigned are calling on the Government of Nova Scotia to finally sit down and negotiate a new collective agreement for civil servants. It has been almost two years since the last contract expired and the government is using every tactic possible to delay the process of arbitration." I haven't counted the number of signatures but my signature is affixed.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Tourism and Culture.

RESOLUTION NO. 2842

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

Whereas Nova Scotia was named 1 of 12 perfect places in North America to spend a summer holiday, according to the editors of CNNmoney.com; and

Whereas Nova Scotia appears on the list with other famous getaway spots like the Virgin Islands; and

Whereas the site described Nova Scotia as "an even more picturesque version of northern New England";

[Page 7725]

Therefore be it resolved that all members acknowledge this significant designation and congratulate all Nova Scotians involved in the tourism industry for their tireless work in making the world feel welcome.

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. 106 - Entitled an Act Respecting the Guardianship of Children. (Hon. Michael Baker)

Bill No. 107 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 6 of the Acts of 2001. The Land Registration Act. (Hon. Angus MacIsaac)

Bill No. 108 - Entitled an Act to Facilitate the Making, Recognition, Enforcement and Variation of Interjurisdictional Support Orders. (Hon. Michael Baker)

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

NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants East.

RESOLUTION NO. 2843

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

Whereas sadly on March 26th, Nova Scotia lost one of its leading lights in agriculture, Theodorus (Ted) Ueffing of Woodside, Kings County; and

[Page 7726]

Whereas Ted Ueffing led a life of commitment to agriculture that included service with the Nova Scotia Grain Commission, past-President of Pork Nova Scotia, past-President of the Nova Scotia Federation of Agriculture, and past-Chairman of the Nova Scotia Farm Loan Board; and

Whereas Ted Ueffing left behind a large family that includes 18 grandchildren;

Therefore be it resolved that this House extends its deepest condolences and sympathy to the family of the late Theodorus (Ted) Ueffing and grieves for the loss of one of the Valley's leading citizens.

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 Nova.

RESOLUTION NO. 2844

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

Whereas the document entitled, Proposal to Reform Health Care Facilities in Nova Scotia of 1992 was the key element of the health care plans of the Government of Premier Don Cameron; and

Whereas Pages 6, 10, 17 and 20 of this plan show that the very clear intent of the Cameron Government was to effect full closure of the New Waterford Consolidated Hospital so as to save $6.9 million and put 197 people out of work; and

Whereas after the Hammites ascended to power, thanks to the NDP in 1999, they got right back at their bad old habits, hatching new plans to close the New Waterford Consolidated Hospital now masquaraded as plans to convert it to an urgent care centre;

[Page 7727]

Therefore be it resolved that today's urgent care centre plans for the New Waterford Hospital are just as objectionable as were the Tory full closure plans of 1992, and that on their basis the Hamm Government deserves political rejection just as firmly as Donald Cameron was defeated as Premier in 1993.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton North.

RESOLUTION NO. 2845

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

Whereas the Halifax Mooseheads claimed victory last night and fended off the attack of the Rimouski Oceanics in Game Seven of the quarter-final series; and

Whereas this victory, however, means they will now face off against the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles who have already advanced to the second round of the Quebec Major Junior "A" Hockey Playoffs in a best-of-seven showdown; and

Whereas this match with the Screaming Eagles may mean a second appearance in the Memorial Cup Tournament, is not in the bag for the Mooseheads;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the successes of the Halifax Mooseheads on last night's exciting and well-earned victory, but send our sympathies to the team for its upcoming match against the superb talent within Cape Breton's Screaming Eagles.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

RESOLUTION NO. 2846

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

Whereas Tory backbenchers from the Valley have publicly declared their support for the campaign underway in the area over health care budget shortfalls; and

[Page 7728]

Whereas if those Tory MLAs really wanted to make a difference, they should follow the lead of the member for Shelburne who said he would resign from the government backbenches if beds were cut at Roseway Hospital in Shelburne; and

Whereas the members for Kings North, Kings South and Kings West should note that the member for Shelburne stood up for what his constituents wanted, fulfilling his electoral duty;

Therefore be it resolved that this House encourage the members for Kings North, Kings South and Kings West to have the strength of the convictions to stand up for their community and vote against the forthcoming provincial budget, showing the people of the Valley they support the campaign underway in their riding.

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.

Order, please. While we do welcome the attendance of all the people in the gallery today, I would ask that you keep your thoughts, whether positive or negative, in response to what is happening on the floor. Thank you.

The honourable member for Cape Breton West.

RESOLUTION NO. 2847

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

Whereas one year ago last week the Premier promised that his government would soon release a safe drinking water strategy; and

Whereas it has been one year since the Walkerton Report has been released and if we have learned anything from Walkerton it is that hesitation and concealing information is not acceptable; and

Whereas 67 water boil orders were issued in Nova Scotia communities in less than a year;

[Page 7729]

Therefore be it resolved that this government release the water strategy so that Nova Scotians will have safe drinking water so that we are not the home to the next Walkerton.

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 Kings North on an introduction.

MR. MARK PARENT: Mr. Speaker, I want to introduce from the gallery Doreen Roberts, and I don't know if I can see Dale up there with her. I want to welcome Doreen, a good friend of mine from Kentville, and there are others who will be filtering in from Kings North and I want to offer them a welcome too. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: I certainly welcome our guests to the gallery today.

The honourable member for Kings West.

RESOLUTION NO. 2848

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

Whereas Kings Mutual Insurance Company is Nova Scotia's oldest mutual insurance company, having been founded in 1904; and

Whereas Kings Mutual Insurance Company will celebrate its 100th Anniversary in less than two years and, as part of this upcoming anniversary celebrations, the company recently announced a donation of $1 million to the new Berwick Apple Dome Sports Facility Fund; and

Whereas this donation was a tremendous boost to the fundraising initiatives now underway to build this multimillion dollar facility;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House of Assembly acknowledge the community spirit shown by Kings Mutual Insurance and its board of directors, while also realizing the work now being undertaken by a former member of this Legislature, George

[Page 7730]

Moody, as well as Bobby Best, to secure the funding necessary for the new Berwick Apple Dome.

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. 2849

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

Whereas the Minister responsible for the Petroleum Directorate wore a Three Stooges tie to announce Hamm's Government had lost a boundary dispute with Newfoundland over the Laurentian Sub-basin; and

Whereas Nova Scotians were not looking for comic relief from the minister, but rather some leadership; and

Whereas comic relief can only describe this government's handling of the boundary dispute;

Therefore be it resolved that perhaps it is time for the Minister responsible for the Petroleum Directorate to start dressing like a leader rather than being the Premier's stooge.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice. (Interruptions)

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

[Page 7731]

The notice is tabled.

I would just caution the members about resorting to calling names again. (Interruptions)

The honourable member for Glace Bay.

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

Whereas there are rumors that Warner Brothers is remaking several Three Stooges classic movies; and

Whereas Larry, Curly and Moe will be played by Jamie, Gordie and Neil; and

Whereas Gordie was described as a shoo-in for the role of Curly after rave reviews from a national audience;

Therefore be it resolved that while the Three Stooges were funny, Jamie, Gordie and Neil make us more sad than happy, but if this comedy troop doesn't make us laugh, the fourth stooge, John, should leave us falling down laughing.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

The notice is out of order.

The honourable Minister of Health.

RESOLUTION NO. 2850

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

Whereas Duane Rath, President of Blaikies Dodge Chrysler in Truro, won the 2001 Nova Scotia Dealer of Excellence Award; and

Whereas Duane Rath captured the Nova Scotia Dealer of Excellence Award for his performance in business acumen, association involvement and community contributions; and

Whereas the Dealer of Excellence Award is sponsored by MacLean's in partnership with the Canadian Automobile Dealers Association;

[Page 7732]

Therefore be it resolved that all members congratulate Duane Rath for winning the 2001 Nova Scotia Dealer of Excellence Award and wish him and Blaikies Dodge Chrysler continued success.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect.

RESOLUTION NO. 2851

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

Whereas students from Sir John A. Macdonald High School and C.P. Allen High School are now sharing the same facility in Bedford on a split shift basis; and

Whereas this temporary arrangement has inconvenienced students, parents, teachers and the communities involved; and

Whereas the communities of Timberlea, Prospect, the Hammonds Plains Road and surrounding areas are appreciative of the cooperative attitude of the students, teachers and the community of Bedford;

Therefore be it resolved that the House of Assembly compliment the communities, students and teachers for their positive approach to the unfortunate situation of split shifting students from Sir John A. Macdonald High School and C.P. Allen High School.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 7733]

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. 2852

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

Whereas a group of students from Lockview High School is helping to improve conditions for children in the developing world with their efforts as a local chapter of (Kids Can) Free the Children; and

Whereas these students raise funds not only to send children to school, but to assist in the building of the school and to buy necessities for families, like farm animals; and

Whereas the Lockview High FTC chapter also donates donations to other schools and organizations and has raised almost $5,000 so far;

Therefore be it resolved that this House applaud these young people on their humanitarian enterprise to assist the children of the developing world get the education they need.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Health.

[Page 7734]

RESOLUTION NO. 2853

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

Whereas Wayne McCormick of Bible Hill was honoured on his 40th Anniversary of membership in the Kinsmen Club; and

Whereas Wayne McCormick has held many offices in the Kinsmen organization, including deputy governor; and

Whereas Wayne McCormick was a charter member of the Bible Hill Kinsmen Club when it was founded 27 years ago and is now a life member;

Therefore be it resolved that all members congratulate Wayne McCormick for his community contributions through his 40 years of Kinsmen membership and wish him well as he continues as the Chairman of the Bible Hill Village Commission.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

RESOLUTION NO. 2854

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the honourable member for Cumberland South - and I should point out to the House that the Cpl. Paul Scott that I am referring to is the nephew of the Speaker - I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas two Canadian soldiers, Warrant Officer Zack Vanthournout and Lt. Kyle Strong put their own lives in grave danger to rescue one of their comrades, Cpl. Paul Scott from falling to his death from a pitching helicopter; and

[Page 7735]

Whereas the act of tremendous courage displayed by these two men is a result of incredible quick thinking and of utter selflessness in order to prevent a serious tragedy; and

Whereas Warrant Officer Vanthournout and Lt. Strong have been recommended to the Department of National Defence for bravery medals;

Therefore be it resolved that this House honour these two brave men as they continue to stand on guard for our country, Canada, and hope that they receive their well-deserved medals of bravery.

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. (Applause)

Thank you.

The honourable member for Pictou East.

RESOLUTION NO. 2855

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

Whereas Dianne McKenzie, who coached the Westville Mavericks, recently concluded their 2001-02 high school basketball season posting a perfect 4-0 record at the junior girls closing tournament; and

Whereas the Mavericks had no difficulty posting easy wins over the West Pictou Wildcats and the Trenton Trojans, East Pictou before narrowly edging by Pictou Academy 44-43 in their final game; and

Whereas in total the Mavericks outscored their opposition in the four games by a total of 61 points, 195-134;

[Page 7736]

Therefore be it resolved that MLAs in this House of Assembly send our congratulations to the Westville Mavericks for a successful completion to their high school basketball season and wish them all the best in the future.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Halifax Bedford Basin.

RESOLUTION NO. 2856

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

Whereas the World Cities Energy Partnership is a worldwide network of cities that promotes the exchange of knowledge and strategies among cities involved in the energy sector; and

Whereas submitted by the Greater Halifax Partnership and sponsored by the City of Aberdeen, Halifax's application was successful and Halifax is now a member of the World Cities Energy Partnership; and

Whereas inclusion in this worldwide partnership will mean a heightened international profile for Halifax and an opportunity for its businesses to benefit from the experience and knowledge of other cities involved in the energy sector;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the City of Halifax, and I would assume also the Halifax Regional Municipality, on its membership in the World Cities Energy Partnership and applaud the Greater Halifax Partnership for its initiative.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 7737]

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Natural Resources on an introduction.

HON. ERNEST FAGE: Mr. Speaker, in the gallery opposite it is my pleasure to introduce to the House two residents from the Amherst area, Gerry and Martha Cormier. Gerry has been a leading person involved in business development and management of a number of companies such as Northern Telecom, and Primetech Electronics in Amherst for a number of years and I would ask the House to give them a round of applause. Thank you. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Chester-St. Margaret's.

RESOLUTION NO. 2857

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

Whereas on December 23, 2001, as Stephen Deley of the Hubbards Fire Department was attending a family gathering, a fire broke out in an upstairs apartment, at which time he immediately grabbed a fire extinguisher and rushed up the steps to assist in putting out the blaze; and

Whereas Mr. Deley also ran to the aid of a tenant whose mother was having difficulty breathing due to a cardiac problem and smoke inhalation and cared for her until the paramedics arrived; and

[2:30 p.m.]

Whereas it is quite probable that without the presence of Mr. Deley at the scene that December day, the consequences would have been much more disastrous;

Therefore be it resolved that this House commend the selflessness and brave actions of Mr. Deley that day and thank him for his commitment not only to his own community but to his fellow Nova Scotians.

[Page 7738]

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Sackville-Beaver Bank.

RESOLUTION NO. 2858

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

Whereas Allan Owen of Sackville has been an avid participant in the Sackville Rivers Association and has been a director of the association for the past three years, organizing not only river cleanups but annual fish derbies and other fun activities; and

Whereas for the countless hours and weekends Mr. Owen has devoted to making the Sackville River a more hospitable place for the wildlife that depends on it, Walter Regan, the association's Executive Director, nominated Mr. Owen for an International Volunteer of the Year award; and

Whereas Mr. Owen received this award on December 21, 2001 for the outstanding work he performs for his community and the positive environmental impact his contributions had on the community of Sackville;

Therefore be it resolved that this House applaud the hard work put forth by Mr. Allan Owen to try to make his community a better place.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

[Page 7739]

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Colchester North.

RESOLUTION NO. 2859

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

Whereas recently judges from the Atlantic Provinces' agricultural sector named Jim and Tricia Lorraine of Upper Onslow, Nova Scotia, the Outstanding Young Farmers honour; and

Whereas to qualify as a candidate for this Atlantic title, nominees must be under the age of 39 and derive two-thirds of their income from farming; and

Whereas this accolade will see them travel to the Royal Winter Fair to compete for the national title in November;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the Lorraines on their achievement of the Atlantic title, wish them luck in capturing the national title in November and acknowledge the importance of recognizing leaders in our farming community.

Mr. Speaker, for the record, Jim Lorraine is the son of former Agriculture Minister Ed Lorraine.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Kings North.

[Page 7740]

RESOLUTION NO. 2860

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

Whereas the NSTU provincial executive has endorsed a program which aims to raise funds to help Afghan children and teachers return to school at the start of the Afghan school year; and

Whereas the NSTU has paired up with UNICEF to assist in the reconstruction of Afghanistan's public education system and will act as a channel for donations towards UNICEF's fundraising campaign; and

Whereas this effort being put forth by the NSTU and UNICEF will enable over 1.5 million Afghan children and over 300,000 Afghan teachers to return to the classroom;

Therefore be it resolved that this House commend the NSTU on its endeavour to enhance public education, something we value very much here in Canada, in a country so distant from our shores.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Annapolis.

RESOLUTION NO. 2861

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

Whereas Gwen Tolbart, from Middleton, has made a successful career in the State of Texas, where she currently works in television; and

[Page 7741]

Whereas arriving with a deep sense of community and an interest in young people, Gwen has become actively involved in numerous community organizations and is dedicated to outreach and support for young people; and

Whereas this commitment has earned her honours in her new home, where she was named 2002 Woman of Distinction by the Metro Business and Professional Women Club of Hurst, Texas;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Gwen Tolbart on this award and acknowledge the pride of her mother, Catherine Tolbart, for her daughter's sense of community spirit and caring.

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. 2862

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 residents of the Valley are very concerned about looming cuts to their health care system; and

Whereas yesterday the member for Annapolis tabled a petition with over 25,000 signatures from Valley residents, indicating that he had signed it along with the MLAs from Kings North and Kings West, but failed to mention the member for Kings South; and

Whereas the lone voice in Cabinet from the Valley, one would expect the Minister of Environment and Labour to lead the charge to protect health care in his area;

[Page 7742]

Therefore be it resolved that all Tory MLAs and ministers, especially including the Minister of Environment and Labour, stand up for Valley residents in maintaining funding to their ailing health care system.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Environment and Labour.

HON. DAVID MORSE: If we are through with the resolutions, Mr. Speaker, I would like to respond to a question. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Order, please. There is no responding to resolutions. (Interruptions) Order, please. A clarification for Question Period. Order, please.

The honourable Minister of Environment and Labour on a clarification from Question Period yesterday.

HON. DAVID MORSE: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member for Cape Breton West got up and asked me to confirm that the Springhill water utility had been on a boil water order for eight months. That did not seem consistent with my recollection of the situation and I double-checked it; that is not the case. What is the case is that the results are not consistent. We tend to get a number of negative and then we will get a positive one. So, as a precaution, since October 21st, it has been put on a boil water order but it's not because of consistently positive responses. I appreciate his bringing up the point yesterday and, as my colleague, the honourable Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations pointed out, a new plant is going to be installed there and the order will remain until the plant is operating. Thank you.

ORDERS OF THE DAY

ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS

MR. SPEAKER: Question Period will begin at 2:37 p.m. and will end at 4:07 p.m.

The honourable Leader of the Official Opposition.

HEALTH - CARE: VALLEY - CANCELLED SURGERIES

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, I want to begin by tabling a document based on information received through freedom of information. These documents reveal that when the Tories came to power in 1999, eight surgeries at the Valley Regional Hospital were cancelled because there were no beds. In 2000, that number triples to 25. Last year, it was a whopping 61 surgeries cancelled, all due to bed shortages. So I would like to ask the

[Page 7743]

Minister of Health, yesterday you bragged about improving health care, and now that you have the facts what are you going to say to the people of the Valley?

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, certainly, I guess I could comment to begin, the NDP is hard and fast except, I must say the information, that little pamphlet that they put out about health care, I would be embarrassed if I was the leadership candidate to be putting my name to that document, the inaccuracies that it had.

Anyway, Mr. Speaker, the honourable member is correct. I wasn't aware of the actual figures that he just cited. Unfortunately, one of the reasons it leads to cancelled surgeries, in the case there were 16 beds in the Valley region that have been closed for some time because of staff shortage and I assume that the reduction in surgery, or the cancelled surgeries was because of that. I can also say in the for-what-it's-worth category, is that the business plan that has been proposed by the DHA for the upcoming year would see those beds reopen.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Yesterday, the questions and answers got extremely long. It does infringe upon other members' rights to ask questions and answer. I would ask the members to shorten their questions and answers.

The honourable Leader of the Opposition on your first supplementary.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, in 2001, 38 more people of the Valley Regional Hospital had surgery cancelled. The reason was that there was insufficient operating room time. Too many patients, not enough facilities. That's 99 people whose surgeries were cancelled by the hospital last year. Many times, people are travelling long distance over our lovely secondary roads and often in bad weather and when they arrive they find that their surgery has been cancelled. So I want to ask the minister, Mr. Speaker, when is the government going to give the DHA and the surgeons the money that they need to be able to operate?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, in the case of those beds in the Valley, there was funding for those beds. It was not a financial issue; it was a staff issue.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, my office spoke with the Valley District Health Authority this morning and they indicated that, in February, 24 surgeries were cancelled in just 28 days. Now this is clear evidence that your government is creating a crisis at the Valley Regional Hospital. So my question to the Minister of Health is this, why is your government creating a crisis in the Valley by insisting on underfunding the Valley District Health Authority?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I am afraid I didn't hear the first part of the question about 28 days. Would you be kind enough to repeat that for me, please?

[Page 7744]

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, I want to inform the Minister of Health that this morning we had confirmed, from the Valley District Health Authority, that there were 24 surgeries cancelled in just 28 days.

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I thought I had answered that in the last question. This is a very serious topic and the question was that the surgeries were cancelled because there are 16 beds closed there. They were closed, as I understand, due to a staff shortage and it is not a funding issue. Those beds, indeed, are funded.

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

HEALTH - CARE CRISIS: ANNA. VALLEY - REMEDY

MR. WAYNE GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Premier. The residents of the Valley have arrived here today to express their outrage at this Premier. Why? Because they have been betrayed by this government. They were told: Elect us because we have a plan for health care. Nova Scotian's vision of the Hamm plan for health care did not include an exodus of physicians, bed closures, laying off precious staff, cancelled surgeries, and increased wait times. My question to the Premier is, when will this government get serious and deal with the health care crisis that they have created in the Annapolis Valley?

HON. JOHN HAMM (The Premier): Mr. Speaker, I can say to the member opposite that the government takes very seriously the concern of Valley people for their health care delivery system and we have been working over the last number of weeks with the DHA to solve the problem, to ensure that Valley people will get the same level of health care as enjoyed by all Nova Scotians.

MR. GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, I am just wondering if that is a promise to the people of the Annapolis Valley who are gathered here today? Maybe the Premier could meet with them afterwards. On June 22, 1999, in New Glasgow, the Premier stated, "You all know first hand my dedication to health care in Nova Scotia. I believe, as do all Nova Scotians, that health care must be the number one priority of government." I will table a copy of the Premier's speech. My question is, given that you felt so strongly about health care in 1999, why aren't you following the courage of your convictions by ensuring that the health care needs of the Valley aren't being compromised?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, this government takes very seriously the commitments that it made in 1999 to the people of Nova Scotia, including the commitments made in that particular speech, and that is why the single largest increase of any department in the upcoming budget will be in the health sector - $130 million of new money is going into health in a province that is cash-strapped. That is how serious we are about our commitment.

[Page 7745]

MR. GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, in this Premier's 1999 election document, Strong Leadership . . . . a clear course, it states - and I will table a copy of this promise - "In everything we do we will put the health care needs of Nova Scotians first." My question to the Premier is, could the Premier please explain why he is not putting the health care needs of the residents of the Valley first?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the strength of any government is not only what it does today, but what it allows to happen tomorrow. Unlike the previous government, this government will allow health care to be sustainable so that not only will health care be adequate today, it will be there for our children and our grandchildren to follow. I believe that that is the commitment of this government that got us elected, and we will keep that commitment.

[2:45 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

HEALTH - GOV'T. CUTS: VALLEY - EFFECTS

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health. At a public meeting in Kentville on March 27th, Dr. Lynne Harrigan, a highly-respected physician in the Valley said that people will die because of this government's cuts to health care. This is not the first time that Dr. Harrigan has publicly stated her concerns and she remains adamant that this will be the reality if health cuts proceed in the Valley. I want to ask the Minister of Health to respond to Dr. Harrigan's charge that people will die in the Valley because of government cuts.

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I guess I would have to take great issue with that statement by Dr. Harrigan. Quite seriously, I believe she may have been reacting to a preliminary budget document that did call for some closures, you know, the most recent documents. But to be quite frank, I just cannot support that statement.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I wonder how far the minister has gone with his lack of support. Dr. Harrigan has indicated that her organization has been pressured to stop saying in their ad campaign that people will die because it made the government uncomfortable. The Minister of Health has said publicly that it's irresponsible to say people will die in the Valley due to budget cuts. I want to ask the Minister of Health, is he uncomfortable with people in the Valley dying or just that doctors there have the courage to say so?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I would stand by the initial statement that the honourable member made and my reaction to those comments. I should also inform her and other members of the Opposition that there has been no budget cut to DHA No. 3.

[Page 7746]

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, doctors are already planning their exodus from the Valley because they know what is coming in tomorrow's budget. The Minister of Health has indicated that the Valley will be getting less money than other regions because its people are healthier; this is simply not true. In fact, the group of doctors fighting these cuts have shown that the low numbers of admissions in the Valley are due to a lack of beds, shifting health care into people's homes. I want to ask why the minister is using clearly flawed evidence to support damaging cuts to health care in the Annapolis Valley?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, we could get into an argument about data and whatnot but, as I said last week in meeting with groups from the Valley, I'm fairly confident that a sort of equivalent level of service is being delivered right across this province, and that includes the Valley and includes Cumberland or Pictou or any other area. I don't know this issue. They keep talking about cuts. I don't know how I can make it any clearer. The budget is increasing, we're putting $130 million more into health care next year than we did last year. The budget for DHA No. 3 has been increased. This member, to be quite frank, she is just not working on substantiated information.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

HEALTH - CARE: FUNDING - PLAN

DR. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health. When the minister abolished regional health boards, he made a commitment to the authorities that the provincial funding methodology would be in place. Now almost two and one-half years later he now promises one next year. This is an integral part of what's going on with the Valley funding and not having that in place. My question to the minister is, given that the minister had a plan for health care, why after two and one-half years have we yet to see a funding methodology for the province?

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, when we assumed office, we looked in the drawer for plans for health care in Nova Scotia that was left by the previous government and the drawer happened to be empty. I should also tell you that in terms of funding for DHA No. 3 on our trip down in the Valley last year, if they perceived a difference in funding across the province, it lay squarely at the feet of the previous Liberal Government.

DR. SMITH: I can assure you that there aren't many people who are visiting here from the Valley, or are residents of the Valley, who would say that things are better today than they were two and one-half years ago in the health care plan and that minister knows that. There was a rally in Kentville. We heard the spin from the government and according to the government, we were told at that rally there that the reason for not adjusting health funding levels according to the clinical footprint, the people in the Valley were too healthy. This is that $0.5 million Ontario consulting report that the minister hid behind, like he's hiding behind the audit now in the Valley, Mr. Speaker. So the clinical footprint that started off to

[Page 7747]

be a planning tool is now a decision-making tool penalizing the people in the Annapolis Valley.

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, my question to the minister is, could the minister please explain why being healthy should be an acceptable reason to completely destroy the infrastructure of the health care system in the Annapolis Valley of this province?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I really find that question a bit strange. I think when people look at what is going to happen in DHA No. 3 next year - I appreciate the residents' concern - but I think when they take a look at the plan that it has been articulated and will be implemented by the board, is that indeed the health services in the Valley will be strengthened because of that new initiative.

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, that minister hid behind the clinical footprint. He's hiding behind the audit in the Valley and now he's hiding behind big words, acute-weighted cases, evidence-based decision-making, acute day's utilization. This is the reason why the people can't receive equity in their funding in the Annapolis Valley region. So these are very familiar to the residents of the Valley. We don't have to hear from the socialists over on this side. (Interruptions) The only group in Canada that could bring the Province of Ontario and the Province of British Columbia to their knees (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

The honourable member for Dartmouth East on your final supplementary, please.

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, my question to the minister is very simple. Why does this government not practice what it preaches when it comes to the health care needs of the residents of the Annapolis Valley?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, this government is concerned about the health care needs of all Nova Scotians and I can assure the residents of the Annapolis Valley that next year they will continue to receive quality health services.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

COMMUN. SERV.: DOUCET, LESLEY ANNE - MIN. ACTION

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, it distresses me to have to bring a tragic situation, although an important example, to the members of the House. I spoke this morning with Susan Bethune of Yarmouth. Her daughter, Lesley Anne Doucet, is terminally ill and has a rare degenative brain disorder. Lesley Anne receives all of her nutrition through a

[Page 7748]

feeding tube and up until her 18th birthday, March 10th, the food was supplied through the IWK. I will table a letter the family received yesterday from Community Services saying that they will not pay for Lesley Anne's food. She has one week of food left and I want to ask the Minister of Community Services what he intends to do about this situation?

HON. PETER CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member brings up one of the cases we have of 1,100 across the province. We have a number of cases where people come to the government, come to our children's in-home support program looking for those special needs. We will be doing with this case the same as we do with the other ones, we'll be working with them to provide the services they need and then the facilities that they need as best we can supply.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, in this case what the Department of Community Services is doing is deserting this family. You should read this letter. The cost of food for Lesley Anne is between $600 and $700 a month. Her parents have made dramatic changes in their lifestyle in order to spend time with their daughter, and they're not rich people. After my office made an enquiry, Ms. Bethune received a call indicating if she saved her receipts every month the department would evaluate her expenses and determine whether they could cover some and maybe all of the food for that month. Lesley Anne's family has had enough to deal with. My question to the Minister of Community Services is this. Why won't you deal with this situation right now and give this family the peace of mind they deserve during this difficult time?

MR. CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, as I indicated to the honourable member, we have a number of cases. It's not my intention to negotiate this with the honourable member. The social workers and the family are doing that. As late as today, as the member indicated, we've had discussions with them, we are working with that family as we work with all families to help solve their problems.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, this is clearly a devastating time for Lesley Anne's parents. In recent years in fact, Lesley Anne was actually the poster child for the IWK. She appeared on their telethons to help the IWK raise money. It's now our turn to help Lesley Anne. I am asking the Minister of Community Services for his assurance before this House that this matter will be resolved today.

MR. CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, as I indicated, we're not going to discuss any particular case here. We have 1,100 cases, we are concerned with them all. We work with these cases, we provide them with the special needs, we provide them with the assistance that they need and we will continue to work with them all.

[Page 7749]

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

PET. DIR. - LAURENTIAN SUB-BASIN:

BOUNDARY DISPUTE - PREMIER'S RESPONSE

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Premier. Newfoundlanders learned a long time ago that decisions made by one Premier can change the course of history. Thirty years ago one Newfoundland Premier signed away the bulk of the benefits from Churchill Falls to Quebec. It's pretty clear that Newfoundland has learned their lesson, they learned that you have to fight tooth and nail and you have to stand up for your province. My question to the Premier is, why are you caving in so easily and giving up our rightful share of the Laurentian Sub-basin?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the issue of the decision of the tribunal is one that is binding. We have a legal opinion that we have no justification to launch an appeal. It is certainly our intention to go forward and develop the acreage on our side of the line. It's interesting that in the division of the dispute between the Nova Scotia claim and the Newfoundland claim that we actually got more territory than Newfoundland. We got 51 per cent, including over six leases that are already out there.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: There we go with that math again, 16 per cent is better than 50 per cent. You go in looking for 50 per cent and you come out with 16 per cent, and you say you won. Only that kind of logic belongs to that government over there, let me tell you. Mr. Speaker, my first supplementary, the Premier will go down in history as the Premier who gave away Nova Scotia's right to prosperity and once again put the future of Cape Breton in jeopardy. The name John Hamm will be . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member for Cape Breton South has the floor.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, the Premier has not exhausted all options yet, but for some reason he's reluctant to carry on the fight. There is no prize for second place in this fight, you're either a winner or a loser. Why is the Premier satisfied after

losing the bulk of Nova Scotia's rightful claim? Why are you satisfied with that, Mr. Premier?

[3:00 p.m.]

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, it's interesting, the difference of opinion that the member opposite has with those back home. For example, Larry MacPherson, the Chief Executive Officer of the Sydney Airport, said that industry officials have noted settling the issue will allow offshore exploration to move ahead. They also noted that Cape Breton is well-positioned to benefit from any development of the offshore. Another leading

[Page 7750]

industrialist in Cape Breton says, it's 250 kilometres to the Scotian Shelf from Sydney; that's not a small piece. I expect nothing but a positive result from this, said another Sydney representative. The member opposite seems to be out of step with the view back home.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, the first name he mentioned isn't even from Cape Breton. The second name he inferred is the only Tory left down there in Cape Breton, aside from Cecil Clarke. My final supplementary, anybody on that side of the House who thinks the Newfoundland Government will allow entrepreneurs from Cape Breton to be the supply base for the Laurentian Sub-basin is dreaming in technicolour, and they know that. Newfoundland now has the rights to the supply base for the offshore, the Laurentian Sub-basin, whenever it gets started, not Cape Bretoners.

My final supplementary, the Premier has given up his campaign on fairness; he's given up on the health care system, and it looks like he's giving up on a truly balanced budget because he won't admit to this House that it will be balanced 12 months from now. He's also given up on his promise to have a 10 per cent tax cut for Nova Scotians. For once will the Premier stick with something and exercise Nova Scotia's right in this dispute?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, it's obvious that the member opposite is quite willing to pursue lost causes. We went to court; we lost. Now we're going to move ahead and develop the resource on our side of the line. Very fortunately, we were able to protect the six significant leases that are between what Newfoundland claimed and what we eventually achieved.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants East.

AGRIC. & FISH. - ENFIELD PHARMACY:

MILK FEE - JUSTIFICATION

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, today I would like to table a letter received by the Enfield Pharmacy. The letter from a regional manager at the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries states that the pharmacy needs to pay a fee of $50 a year. Why is that? Because the pharmacy sells milk from a cooler. This means that the government considers it a food establishment. I would like to ask the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries to explain how he can justify billing this pharmacy $100 for two years simply because it sells milk?

HON. ERNEST FAGE: Mr. Speaker, all establishments that sell food in Nova Scotia are required to be inspected. In this particular case, we are reviewing the situation to make sure the guidelines have been properly applied.

[Page 7751]

MR. MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, considering the minister's history, I think the farmers in Nova Scotia should be wary because there will probably be a fee placed on them for selling food. The Enfield Pharmacy sells milk at cost and does this as a convenience to its customers. The pharmacist states in his letter to the minister, "If a fee has indeed to be paid I will promptly remove all milk products from my store. The only thing generated will be ill will amongst my customers and your voters." Why won't the minister drop this ridiculous tax on milk that he's enforcing in Enfield?

MR. FAGE: Mr. Speaker, obviously the member opposite didn't hear the answer to the first question. Because of food safety, we do inspect food establishments in Nova Scotia. In this particular instance I'm having staff review it to make sure those guidelines are properly applied.

MR. MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, the letter from the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries states, "Failure to respond to this notice will result in your establishment being subject to the designated fines and penalties." This government is making the Enfield Pharmacy cough up $50 a year, retroactively, to allow them to sell milk. My question to the minister is this, how could your department possibly conclude that a pharmacy is a food establishment simply because it sells milk?

MR. FAGE: Again, the last time I checked milk was a food substance, and we are reviewing this case. Apparently the honourable member doesn't know what milk is.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Lunenburg West.

FIN. - BUDGET: BALANCING FAILURE - PREM. ADMIT

MR. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Premier. I would like to first table a speech that the Premier made on April 28, 2000 where he said that his government would balance both operating and capital budgets. As indicated by the Minister of Finance yesterday, the capital budget will not be in balance. My question to the Premier is very simple. Will the Premier now admit that he failed to fully balance the budget, contrary to his speech that he gave only two short years ago?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, despite being a Minister of Finance, the member opposite still doesn't understand what budgeting is all about, so I would ask my Minister of Finance to respond to the question.

HON. NEIL LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, we clearly indicated to Nova Scotians three years ago that we would bring about a balanced budget and we would bring it in this fiscal year that we just entered. We are on track to do that; our current expenditures will be covered by current revenues. This is the first time that has happened in this province in 40 years. If the member can't understand that, the people will.

[Page 7752]

MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, I want to go back to the Premier, but I will say that the Minister of Finance just misled Nova Scotians in that response. The bottom line is that this government is still borrowing money to pay its bills. It is clear that the Premier will not be able to balance the capital budget now or in a foreseeable future. The debt will continue to grow under your leadership, Mr. Premier. My question to you is, how are you going to explain to average Nova Scotians that you cannot live up to your commitment of a fully balanced budget? How are you going to do that, Premier?

THE PREMIER: I will refer the question to the Minister of Finance.

MR. LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate it very much. The problem we have here is the honourable member doesn't understand accounting, obviously. We have brought this province into conformity with Generally Accepted Accounting Principles and also with public sector accounting board guidelines. We are one of the leading provinces in how we account for it. I will table Schedule 19 from last year's budget, which clearly indicated that we would be borrowing this year for capital projects. For the member opposite to say that he didn't know that. (Interruptions) I hear the catcalls across the way say that it isn't balanced. The budget will be balanced. Current expenditures will be covered by current revenue.

MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, my final supplementary. I will say to the Minister of Finance that a cartoon in the paper that was good was 13 plus 40 plus something else equals 30. You know, the minister is really good. My final supplementary to the Premier is, the Premier may not be borrowing money to pay for the groceries, but there is no question that this Premier and this government will be borrowing money for repairs to the House and the mortgage of the House. Will the Premier give his personal word to this House, and to all Nova Scotians, that they will balance both the operating and capital budget on Thursday, or will you finally tell the truth and admit that you cannot live up to the promise you made only two short years ago?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, according to General Accepted Accounting Principles, which we have adopted in this province that makes us a leader in the country, the capital expenditures are advertised and we will this year, and every year henceforth, cover all those capital expenditure amortization costs according to General Accepted Accounting Principles that obviously that member doesn't understand.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

FIN. - INCOME TAX: FED./PROV. - COMPARISON

MR. GRAHAM STEELE: Mr. Speaker, my question is also to the Minister of Finance, who seems to believe that if you keep adding to the debt, somehow the budgets balance. But, never mind, that is for tomorrow. Last week Len Denton of Truro sent an e-mail to the Minister of Finance pointing out that for the first time ever his provincial income tax will be

[Page 7753]

higher than his federal income tax, in fact it's going to be more than twice as much. At first he couldn't believe it and thought he'd made a mistake, but he called around and realized there was no mistake. As a retired person, for the first time in his lifetime, his provincial tax will be more than his federal tax. My question to the Minister of Finance is, how many Nova Scotians are now paying more provincial income tax than federal tax?

HON. NEIL LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, obviously I don't have those numbers at my fingertips. The one case that he brings up, actually we have had some discussion with our department, the gentleman he refers to has a situation which is a bit rare. Preliminary discussions appear to be that he will actually be paying more provincial tax than federal tax. I want to point out, he is paying the same amount of tax that he would have paid when we took office. There have been some changes on the federal system which have lowered their taxes. I will say that part of the reason that the federal government has lowered income taxes is because they've taken it away from the provinces, whether it's in CHST or whether it's equalization. Let them step up to the province and we will give those tax cuts also.

MR. STEELE: Mr. Speaker, the unusual situation that the Minister of Finance refers to is simply the fact that Mr. Denton qualifies for the disability tax credit. I would like to table the Nova Scotia and federal 2002 tax credit forms. Comparison of the two forms shows plainly that Nova Scotia's tax credits have dropped below the federal tax credits. The provincial disability tax credit, which is at the root of Mr. Denton's tax problem, is an astonishing $1,887 less than the corresponding federal amount. It's nothing more than a sneak attack on Nova Scotia taxpayers. My question to the Minister of Finance is, how much extra money is the provincial government taking in by freezing provincial tax credits?

MR. LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, we are taking the same amount of money that we took in when we took office. We told Nova Scotians when we would balance the budget, then we would examine how we could lower the tax rate. The member opposite has not listened to that. We told Nova Scotians the decisions that we are making are difficult. After we have balanced the budget, then we will give tax relief. I can't be any clearer than that.

MR. STEELE: It sounds to me like the pre-election tax cut just got put back on the table, Mr. Speaker. The most disturbing part of this story is that these tax credits are available only to Nova Scotians who need them most, like the low-income elderly, the disabled, students, caregivers, people with infirm dependents, to name only a few. My final question to the Minister of Finance is, when did this hard-hearted government decide that it was going to increase the tax burden on the sick, the poor and the elderly?

MR. LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, I find it somehow amazing that every time they get up they tell another story. We have kept taxation levels at the levels that they were when we took office. I should also point out that some of the changes that took place by Ottawa, changing the definition of taxable income, means that as of today, in comparison to when we

[Page 7754]

took office, there is somewhere around $30 million already in tax cuts that have come through to Nova Scotians. Those are because of the definition of taxable income.

Mr. Speaker, I want to go back. That is the same caucus that is now saying that we should give more tax relief that is also saying that we should be raising taxes. Which side of the equation are you on? Do you want to tax more, or do you want to tax less?

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Lunenburg West.

FIN.: BUDGET BALANCING/DEBT INCREASE - EXPLAIN

MR. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Finance. It seems as though the Premier wasn't the only one who lost his balance yesterday. Will the minister explain to this House, and to all Nova Scotians, in plain language, how he can call a balanced budget but he is still increasing the debt of the Province of Nova Scotia this year?

[3:15 p.m.]

HON. NEIL LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, the first thing we did is that we didn't hide Sysco and we didn't hide NSRL losses. One thing we did, is that we didn't hide all the losses and all the deficits of the regional health boards. Another way we didn't do it was to hide the deficits and the debts in the school boards like that very same member across the floor who stands up today and is sanctimonious.

MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, this minister has spent tens of thousands of dollars preaching to Nova Scotians that he will balance the budget this year. The minister went across the province preaching to people that he will have a fully balanced budget, the first time in 40 years. (Applause) Again, I will ask the question to the minister to tone down his rhetoric and simply explain. (Interruptions)

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

MR. DOWNE: I want the minister to tone down his rhetoric and simply explain to the average Nova Scotian how a budget can be balanced but still the government is borrowing more money than it is taking in to pay for roads and other capital projects?

MR. LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, one thing that we will do is that we will cover our current expenditure by our current revenues. The Premier had stated earlier on in today's Question Period that for all the capital purchases that we are making, we are charging amortization against our budget. That is the practice of Generally Accepted Accounting Principles, ones that we adhere to and ones that we put in place when we took office in 1999. Ones which the Auditor General of this province fully agrees with, I should point.

[Page 7755]

MR. DOWNE: Come on, Mr. Minister, you can do better than this. Forty years ago. You talk about balancing capital and ordinary, this government has spent a lot of money on ads convincing Nova Scotians that the budget is fully balanced. That is a lie, Mr. Speaker, that is a lie. (Interruptions)

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

The honourable member for Lunenburg West knows full well that that is unparliamentary and I would ask him to retract that, please.

MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, it is the truth. But I would say . . .

MR. SPEAKER: I would ask the honourable member for Lunenburg West to retract that.

MR. DOWNE: I will use another term. That is a mistruth that he spoke to Nova Scotians.

MR. SPEAKER: I would ask the honourable member to retract the statement that he made, please.

MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, I will retract the word "lie" and replace it with mistruth.

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you. The honourable member for Lunenburg West on his last supplementary.

MR. DOWNE: Mr. Minister, it is time for you to tell the truth to the public of Nova Scotia and explain how you can borrow more money for capital bills this year and your ministry still claims a balanced budget. Explain that to Nova Scotians, Mr. Minister.

MR. LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, I have no problem whatsoever. We told Nova Scotians when we would balance the budget and we are going to balance it this year. That member may be upset because of the fact that we have done it but it will be done. There will be no P3 schools that that bunch invented so they could hide it, we're going to balance the budget. I should point out (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Order, please. Thank you. It is only day two. The honourable Minister of Finance on your final answer, please, quickly.

MR. LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, one of the things that we should point out, by changing to Generally Accepted Accounting Principles and having amortization of capital projects (Interruptions)

[Page 7756]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Thank you.

The honourable member for Hants East.

NAT. RES.: SUSTAINABLE FORESTRY FUND - STATUS

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, my questions is for the Minister of Natural Resources. It is my understanding that under the sustainable forestry program, all 1,500 registered buyers are in compliance with the Sustainable Forestry Fund regulations as of February 28th. They had either paid into the Sustainable Forestry Fund or they have their own stewardship program. So I want to ask the minister, how much money is in the Sustainable Forestry Fund?

HON. ERNEST FAGE: Mr. Speaker, I certainly appreciate the honourable member acknowledging that the Sustainable Forestry Fund is a valuable resource for sustainability of our forests in this province. The Sustainable Forestry Fund, as the honourable member knows, is made up of a number of credit systems that deal with silviculture replanting done in various operations and it's not a bank account amount. It's a volume of business done during the year.

MR. MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, that's pretty confusing but it's probably appropriate. We contacted the minister's department and asked that question and they told us that 1 person out of 1,500 had contributed to the fund and that was to the tune of $500.

I want to ask the minister another question. As I understand it, the policy for the sustainable forestry by this minister, that the registered buyers are responsible for, at most, one-third of the cost of the stewardship, the province contributes one-third of the cost based on the credit system, and the landowner contributes one-third through the check-off at the mills. Can the minister advise if the credit system under the Sustainable Forestry Fund regulations is based on actual costs of doing the work on the land?

MR. FAGE: The honourable member certainly acknowledges and identifies that the credit system is working and that through the model forest, the industry, three groups contribute and he does have the proportion correct. Those credits are extremely important and how they are allocated and how silviculture work is done is through the industry committee and the model forest. That is how they are arrived at, Mr. Speaker.

MR. MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, I do want to make sure, for the record, that I make a correction to the minister's comments. I was not saying that the fund is working appropriately. The problem this credit system creates is that it allows a registered buyer to actually make money from doing almost no work. I'm told the province will credit a hectare of natural regeneration on a basis of $300. I'm also told that it costs as little as $25 to cruise a hectare of land. Under this formula, the province would contribute $100, the landowner

[Page 7757]

$100 for the check-off and the actual cost of the work would be $25. So the registered buyer makes $175 this way. You might call it credits but it translates into $175 in the buyer's pocket for something that Mother Nature did.

MR. SPEAKER: Question.

MR. MACDONELL: My question is, Mr. Speaker, will the minister please tell us when he will stop using taxpayers' dollars in this manner and base the credit system on the actual cost of the stewardship work being done?

MR. FAGE: Certainly, the numbers the honourable member has, I can't comment on their accuracy, their confusion possibly. The reality of what takes place, different procedures in the forest have a different credit value and whether it's regen, whether it's planted, whether it's thinning or whether it's a harvesting operation, all have particular credit values contributed toward sustainable forestry in this province. That is how you allocate the opportunity to make it sustainable.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Glace Bay.

HEALTH - C.B. REG. HEALTH CARE COMPLEX:

EMERGENCY SERV. - REPORT

MR. DAVID WILSON: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health. I am most pleased to rise in my place today as living proof of the high quality of health care. (Applause) It's proof of the high quality of health care being delivered by the health care team at the Glace Bay Hospital. But sadly, this Minister of Health has, just as he has in the Valley region of this province, failed to support health care professionals. This has been clearly documented on Page 6 in the recently released report on emergency services of the Cape Breton Regional Health Care Complex where it states, "The Department of Health needs to recognize that community hospitals are not the same and this needs to be urgently resolved." My question for the minister is, could he please update us as to what progress he has made in addressing the inequities in workload and funding, given that the report states that they need to be urgently resolved?

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, as the honourable member knows - and I am delighted to see him back in the House, by the way, and giving accolades to the health system in this province and the leadership this government has given. (Interruption) I couldn't resist that. But there was, as the honourable member for Cape Breton Centre raised yesterday, a review of the emergency services under the Cape Breton District Health Authority, particularly in the industrial Cape Breton area. As you know, there are five or six emergency rooms within a 15 minute drive of each other, and what they were trying to do is see how they could rationalize these services to see that everybody got services and everybody had reasonable access to services and, at the same time, be efficient.

[Page 7758]

Mr. Speaker, he referred to something else, and I believe you are talking about the funding for emergency rooms up there. The department has been working with the Cape Breton District Health Authority and I believe there will be a resolution on that before too long.

MR. WILSON: Mr. Speaker, the fact of the matter is that the residents of Glace Bay and surrounding areas have no idea when they head out to an emergency department now whether or not it's actually going to be open. The minister would know full well that you don't schedule things like a heart attack or a serious injury. You can't do that. Thanks to the administrative staff of the Cape Breton District Health Authority, as well as the physicians right across this province, the minister is right, the issue of inequitable funding is coming to light. My further question to the minister is, how then could the minister and his representatives be so asleep at the switch during negotiations as not to recognize that that would not create a problem?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, the issue of negotiations between the Nova Scotia Medical Society and the Department of Health, and there are intricacies associated with the conditions in that contract that I am sure wouldn't be fully understood by the honourable member opposite, the issue of funding for emergency rooms. The other thing that I wanted to mention is - and he does talk and he is absolutely correct. You don't know when you are going to have a heart attack or a serious injury like a car accident. But one of the things that this member will recognize, I hope, is that we have among the very best of emergency care service in North America here in Nova Scotia. The thing about that service is . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Again, the questions and answers are starting to drag out.

MR. WILSON: Mr. Speaker, everyone in this House knows that the Minister of Health can take absolutely no credit for the ambulance service in this province. Let me go on record and tell you and all members of this House that the people of Glace Bay and area, the people of New Waterford, the people of the Valley region and the people everywhere in this province are not going to let their emergency departments in their respective communities close. You are not going to get away with it.

My final supplementary is for the Premier. The Premier said back in 1999 that he had a plan for health care. Could the Premier please tell the residents of Glace Bay and the Valley and New Waterford where in his plan for a quality health care system they can expect to find disruptive closures of their emergency departments?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I do appreciate the question. The member is a very effective representative for the people in Glace Bay. What I can say to the people in Glace Bay and the people in the Valley is that we are investing more in health care. We will make sure it is distributed equitably and we will make sure that there are adequate and professional

[Page 7759]

health care services available to each and every Nova Scotian, whether they be in the Annapolis Valley or in Glace Bay. The system will change because it must change, because what we were doing was not sustainable, but people will be looked after.

[3:30 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

FIN. - ECONOMICS: MED. WAITING LISTS - EFFECTS

MR. GRAHAM STEELE: Mr. Speaker, I think we all know that the root of the province's financial problems was in the Tory Government of John Buchanan which believed in spend, spend, spend. Now this government is going too far in the other direction and all it believes in is fee, fee, fee and cut, cut, cut. All they're doing is hiding the deficit in places accountants don't look. Wave your magic wand and pretend it's not there. It's hocus-pocus economics.

Mr. Speaker, the former CEO of the Capital District Health Authority says that inadequate funding means waiting lists will lengthen and people will just have to wait longer for medically necessary procedures. My question to the Minister of Finance is, what studies had the government done to determine the impact of its hocus-pocus economics on medical waiting lists?

HON. NEIL LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, hocus-pocus, there are a few other ones in there. The command of the English language is amazing. I do want to say that the member opposite, I think, is putting his head in the sand when he says that we should continue to spend because the same member asked in a previous question today that we give even more tax relief. The problem comes is, as a province, we have been overspending for many years. We have to make changes to the system, and to say that we can just forget about it and continue to spend will have more and more consequences for the same people he's referring to who are waiting for those services. Those are the facts and that they can't be changed.

MR. STEELE: Mr. Speaker, this government has no idea about what's going to happen to surgical waiting lists. Now, it is true that the Liberal Government tried to wave a wand and make $600 million disappear. Now we have another government which believes in hiding the deficit, except this time it's hiding it in places that accountants don't look, like in the homes of seniors who are enrolled in the Pharmacare Program. I was speaking to a pharmacist last week who told me that seniors are being forced to go without necessary medication or they take a gamble on whether to enroll in the Pharmacare Program at all. My question to the Minister of Finance is, what studies has your government done (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

[Page 7760]

The honourable member for Halifax Fairview on your first supplementary, please. Question only. You don't have to start over. Just your question.

MR. STEELE: Mr. Speaker, if I had done what that former Minister of Finance did, I would be sensitive too.

MR. SPEAKER: Supplementary, please.

MR. STEELE: Mr. Speaker, that crowd hasn't learned yet that it wasn't us who threw them out. It was the people of Nova (Interruption)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member for Halifax Fairview on your supplementary, please.

MR. STEELE: My question is to the Minister of Finance. What studies has your government done to determine the impact of your hocus-pocus economics on the people enrolled in the Seniors' Pharmacare Program?

MR. LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, when you look at the Seniors' Pharmacare Program that we have in this province, we offer some of the most benefits of many provinces in Canada. I should point out that right now it's at 70/30. The province pays 70 per cent and the seniors pay 30 per cent. The other thing that happened when we changed the fees this year was that we lowered the amount for people who wouldn't pay anything to register in the program because we wanted to make sure that the lower-income seniors of our province wouldn't be affected. We were asking seniors to do their part also. I don't dispute that. The deficit and the debt are everyone's problems, whether they are grandparents or whether they are grandchildren.

MR. STEELE: Getting seniors to do their part means going without medically necessary drugs and taking a gamble on whether to enroll in the program at all. That's what's happening out there.

Mr. Speaker, another place this minister is hiding his deficit is in our schools. The Barrington Passage school closed, Sir John A. Macdonald High School closed, Halifax West High School closed, all closed because of environmental problems, the legacy of years and years of deferred maintenance from Liberal and Tory Governments alike.

My question to the minister is, what studies has the government done to determine the impact of its hocus-pocus economics on our crumbling public schools? (Interruptions)

MR. LEBLANC: The members opposite mention the Liberal's P3 fund. I will point out, Mr. Speaker, in my budget that I will table tomorrow, there will be some capital investments for schools. The member opposite brings up a good point, that we have to

[Page 7761]

replace our schools, there are environmental illnesses and I don't dispute that. That brings to light why we have capital spending in our province and why that is required. I want to point out those same capital projects that he's referring to will be amortized, the expenses will show into the province's financial statements, which disputes what the Liberal Finance Critic was referring to before. I want to say, and I will do it quickly, Mr. Speaker, . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Please.

MR. LEBLANC: . . . the bottom line is all these are demands that we have to deal with as a province and, especially myself, in preparing the budget.

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

WOMEN, STATUS OF - FIELD WORKERS: REDUCTION - CONFIRM

MR. WAYNE GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister responsible for the Status of Women. It is the responsibility of this government to listen to the voices and provide resources to women who face barriers to full equality because of their race, age, language, class or family status. Indeed, the Minister responsible for the Status of Women is quoted as saying that this government will continue to ensure that policies and funding will continue to meet women's needs and the barriers they face. My question to the minister is, can the minister please confirm that the number of field workers for the Status of Women has been cut from three to two, resulting from the closure of the Colchester-East Hants office for the Status of Women located in Truro? Could she please confirm?

HON. JANE PURVES: Mr. Speaker, yes, certainly, I can confirm that what the member opposite said is true. The Status of Women department, along with many other departments in government, has had to make some reductions this year in order that we are able to put more money into health and more money into education.

MR. GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, the aging population in Nova Scotia is growing at a significant rate. As the Status of Women stated last November, women are disproportionately affected both because they outlive men and because they care for aging spouses and parents more often than men. It is for these reasons and others that this government make issues dealing with women a priority for this province. My question to the minister is, will the minister responsible confirm that the Status of Women fieldworker positions in Digby and Amherst will continue?

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, yes, we decided in the Secretariat for Women that the Truro Office, the position there, in the Truro office that the services could be provided either on the Internet or through Halifax. The other field offices, because of the distance from Halifax, were the ones that should stay. So I can confirm that.

[Page 7762]

MR. GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the minister for her answer. I am sure that the people in Digby and Amherst will be certainly pleased to hear the minister indicating that those offices will remain. My final question to the minister is, can the minister confirm if the Status of Women's Secretariat can expect further downsizing in the coming days?

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, we've been fairly open about the budgeting process. I have said that the Status of Women has had to endure some reductions, but the overall operation will continue and there will be no major reductions in that this year.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.

ENVIRON. & LBR.: MACNEIL REPORT - ACTION

MR. HOWARD EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, thank you. I have a question for the Minister of Environment and Labour. Yesterday the report on proposed oil and gas exploration in waters off the Cape Breton coast was released. Dr. Teresa MacNeil concluded, "There is need for expert examination of the science . . .", she said. "The proponents need to update their exploration plan, . . ." In essence she is calling for a detailed, formal environmental assessment. Will the minister tell us what he is proposing to do to further Dr. MacNeil's recommendations?

HON. DAVID MORSE: The offshore is actually federal and I think it would be more appropriate for the Minister responsible for the Petroleum Directorate to answer the question.

HON. GORDON BALSER: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the member opposite for bringing this issue to the floor of the House. I want to commend Teresa MacNeil on the hard work she did. It was a significant undertaking and there are a number of go-forwards that will be addressed as we go forward in concert with my federal counterpart.

MR. EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, the arrangement that has been worked out between the Province of Nova Scotia and the federal government is that there is joint jurisdiction; that is why we get some revenues from the offshore. The question becomes what kind of environmental assessment is going to take place, whichever of these ministers is deciding that they have something to say about it. What I would like to know is since this is obviously an appropriate instance in which there should be a joint federal-provincial environmental assessment, just as happened with the Sable Offshore Energy Project and as happened before that for the Halifax Harbour, but it happened with SOEP, and what I want to know is what is that Minister of Environment and Labour or his colleague actually doing to speak with their federal counterparts to start the arrangements for a joint federal-provincial environmental assessment?

[Page 7763]

MR. BALSER: Mr. Speaker, since the report was only released yesterday, it requires some time to determine exactly the recommendations that are contained in it and the best go-forward, and certainly that is what we intend to do.

MR. EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, although the report was just released yesterday, I and many others managed to read it and understand it; it is not all that difficult to understand. Now as is obvious, and as was stated by those even who are concerned to see development of the Cape Breton offshore, there is no chance that anything will happen there until all the environmental issues are settled. Protecting the environment in this case means protecting the fisheries, so what I would like to know from that minister is, when will a decision be made and announced about Dr. MacNeil's recommendations?

MR. BALSER: Once again, we have a member opposite who has the luxury of being in Opposition so they can change their minds and take any position they like on any issue on any given day. Certainly, the thing that this government has to do is be responsible and accountable for the decisions that it makes, and it takes time to make the appropriate decisions.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Lunenburg West.

HEALTH: PEDIATRIC CARE - SOUTH SHORE

MR. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health. It has been confirmed by the DHA that the pediatric unit in the South Shore Regional Hospital will close. This closure will mean that young people along the South Shore will have to travel for specialized pediatric services to Halifax. Yesterday, before the House, I had the pleasure to table, on behalf of some 1,300 residents of the South Shore, a petition urging this government to recognize the value of this unit by ensuring that it continues to remain an integral part of the South Shore Regional Hospital. My question to the minister is, given that such a unit is closing, what plans does the department have to ensure that the reliable level of pediatric care is maintained for the children along the South Shore?

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, consolidating that unit was a feature of the business plan of DHA No. 1. I guess I can say that clearly that question was considered by the DHA in constructing its business plan and they feel very confident that the pediatric cases that need service, those that have to come to Halifax and a number of them go to the IWK anyway, but the others that would normally go into the South Shore Regional Health Care facility can be accommodated there, not in a separate unit, but combined with another unit.

MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, I don't know if this minister realizes that the pediatric unit is a specialized service, just like medicine or surgery or intensive care or outpatients. It has a very important part in providing health care for our young people and a very specialized service. Now the minister is saying it is going to be blended anywhere in the hospital. I don't

[Page 7764]

know how a young person is going to be dealing with the surgical floor for seniors, or for anybody else, or in a ward where they have people with cancer. Those are very traumatic times. My question to the minister is, why would the minister approve such a closure knowing full well that he is putting children's lives at risk by trying to jam them in any crack or door or hallway that he can instead of dealing with the issue of sick children on the South Shore?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I can assure the honourable member that the sick children on the South Shore will continue to have access to quality pediatric care.

[3:45 p.m.]

MR. DOWNE: My final supplementary. I want to table just a couple of documents. One is an article on behalf of the pediatric nursing staff of the South Shore Regional Hospital, where they differ from the point of view this minister has just taken with regard to children in the sick unit. Secondly, I want to table this document, an e-mail we received, a search ongoing for a pediatrician for the Bridgewater area. According to an e-mail that we have received from the Department of Health, Physician Recruitment, there is an indication that a candidate is being considered. My question to the minister is, how successful can this minister be with recruiting a pediatrician that is badly needed on the South Shore when he is talking about closing that particular unit? How does that make sense, Mr. Minister?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, in my community, and I assume in others, pediatricians work outside of hospitals as well as in them. I can say that the services that a pediatrician would need in the South Shore to support his/her practice will continue to be there, it just won't be a separate unit. It will be consolidated in another part of the hospital where it's appropriate.

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

TRANSPORT. & PUB. WKS. - HWY. REPAIR:

LICENSE/FUEL TAX - REVENUES APPLY

MR. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is to the Minister of Transportation and Public Works. The Tories and one particular legendary backbencher who sat on this side, the member for the beautiful Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley, promised Nova Scotians that this government, if elected, would dedicate all taxes raised through motor vehicle licensing and fuel sales to highway construction and maintenance. Unfortunately that member remains buried in the back benches, so I am interested in what the department with this minister is about, because last May this minister's department released a report pointing out that the investment requirements needed to maintain the existing system certainly leaves our highways in need. Will the Minister of Transportation and Public Works explain to this House why he and his government haven't

[Page 7765]

lived up to their campaign promise and dedicated licensing and fuel tax revenues to fix Nova Scotia's deplorable roads?

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the question from the honourable member, because it is one that is near and dear to my heart. When we came into government, as a part of that coming into government, we made a promise with regard to capital funding for our highway system. I'm pleased that the Minister of Finance and the government have provided to the department $10 million in additional capital funding in each of the years that we've been in power, and that will continue.

MR. ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, last spring in this House (Interruptions) Don't spill your coffee on the roads in Nova Scotia, whether you roll up the rim or not. Last spring in this House during estimates, the minister admitted he was making a grossly insufficient investment in our highway system. After pointing out that we needed about $150 million just to maintain the system, he told us during estimates, he told me during estimates, that he had about $60 million in his 2001-02 budget. He said, "As you can see, there is one heck of a shortfall." My question to the minister is, could you tell us how much of a shortfall exists between what he is investing in our highway system right now and the Tory election promise of dedicating the fuel tax revenues to our highways?

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I wish I could have the federal government contribute to the Nova Scotia Government at least 50 per cent of the take from this province in motor fuel taxes. The federal government takes from this province, every year, $130 million in motor fuel taxes, and they return (Interruptions) The return to this province over the past 10 years has been something in the order of about $3 million per year.

MR. ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Transportation and Public Works and I disagree on some things, but I do know there was a road federally funded around the City of Montreal conveniently forgetting, of course, Tory Nova Scotia. That's not the issue. The issue is there is a deficit problem of great concern to Nova Scotians and a $100 million gap between what the Tories promised Nova Scotians and what this government is doing. So my question, will the minister commit today that he will live up to the Tory promise - and the promise of the backbencher from Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley to live up to the promise - by ensuring that the current revenues of $278 million plus whatever new revenues generated from licensing will go to our highways?

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, if the honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley made a promise, I'm sure that the government will live up to that promise and the promise is we are moving towards achieving (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

[Page 7766]

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, we are moving towards achieving a total expenditure equivalent to the taxes and revenues from registration and putting it into the highway system of the province.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Richmond.

HEALTH - STRAIT-RICHMOND HOSP.:

EMERGENCY RM. DOCTOR - RETENTION PLANS

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Premier. Today the residents of the Strait area are faced with a health care crisis with the recent announcement that the emergency room at the Strait-Richmond Hospital will once again be closed during the day due to the departure of the most recent emergency room doctor for personal reasons. The Strait-Richmond Hospital has been battling for the last number of years to maintain a physician to cover the emergency room during the day. As leader of the Third Party, the now Premier called upon the provincial government to address the funding concerns that existed for the Strait-Richmond Hospital. My question to the Premier is, what plan does your government have to allow the Strait-Richmond Hospital to retain a daytime emergency room doctor for the long term?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I remember that issue well when we were on the other side of the House working with the government to find a solution to emergency services at the Strait-Richmond. I would hope that the member opposite will, as well, work with this government to find a satisfactory solution as it will be in the best interests of all for us to work together on the issue.

MR. SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, unfortunately, I don't control the books of this province. As much as I may wish I could, that's not the case at this point in time. Clearly this is not only an issue of recruitment, it's an issue of the salary being offered at that institution. Today in the media local doctors themselves are pointing out that the compensation package being offered is insufficient to keep doctors for the long term. The past difficulties in keeping doctors is evidence that the salary being offered at the Strait-Richmond is not comparable with what physicians in the surrounding areas and nearby emergency rooms are making.

My question to the Premier again, will the Premier today commit to the people of the Strait area that this government will immediately increase the salary for an emergency room doctor at the Strait-Richmond Hospital?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I will commit that we will work with the people of the Strait area, we will work with the member opposite, to locate physicians to provide adequate emergency room service at the Strait-Richmond Hospital.

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MR. SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the co-operativeness of the Premier, but what it comes down to is that the salary being offered is insufficient to keep doctors there for the long term. You can recruit all you want. The problem is not going to change. We've learned that from the time the Premier sat on this side of this House. We know it now that he sits in the Premier's chair. This is the same Premier who campaigned to Nova Scotians that he had a plan to fix health care in this province.

My final supplementary, does the Premier actually have a plan to fix health care in this province and if he does, why are we continually seeing the closure of the emergency room at the Strait-Richmond Hospital?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I'm not aware of the circumstances that allowed the emergency room physician there to make the decision to leave the area. I'm not sure if it was a funding issue or what the issue was because that wasn't shared with us. What I will say is we will work with the member opposite, we will work with the officials in that area to find suitable replacements.

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

ENVIRON. & LBR. - MINIMUM WAGE: N.S. WORKERS - VALUE

MR. FRANK CORBETT: There are over 20,000 Nova Scotians earning minimum wage in this province. By the end of the year these Nova Scotians will be the lowest-paid in the country. These hard-working Nova Scotians work full time and still live well below the poverty line. I wonder how they feel about a government that is showing them that they're worth less than the workers in the rest of this country. Even Newfoundland and Labrador is bumping up its minimum wage to $6.00 an hour. I would like to ask the Minister of Environment and Labour why he thinks Nova Scotians are worth less than workers anywhere else in Canada?

HON. DAVID MORSE: I think that, as the member pointed out yesterday and allowed me to elaborate on this, we've gone through a process where we've consulted with Nova Scotians. It is typical that on October 1st, increases in the minimum wage come into effect, and we are in the final throes of coming forward with a recommendation. We trust that that will address the member's concern.

MR. CORBETT: It certainly is my concern, but I have no faith that this government will go anywhere near addressing it. That minimum wage survey you conducted was, at best, embarrassing. What does this government need to know? It's clear this province is the only one in this country that's not making a serious attempt to up the minimum wage to a living wage. My question to you, minister, is when are you going to act and make the minimum wage a living wage?

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MR. MORSE: I appreciate the member opposite bringing up the fact that we've gone out and consulted with Nova Scotians from all walks of life. We've given due consideration to their suggestions and it will be reflected in what comes forward shortly.

MR. CORBETT: That's why they pulled that survey. The working poor in this province will soon be the lowest-paid in the country, as I said. They don't have the time to respond to these silly surveys you have, Mr. Minister. A full-time employee making minimum wage in this province - people living and trying to raise a family are making in the vicinity of $200 a week before deductions. Raising the minimum wage is not a matter of compassion; it's a matter of social and economic responsibility. My question to the minister is, why is it that you believe Nova Scotian workers are worth less than workers in P.E.I., New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador or any other province in this country?

MR. MORSE: I believe that this is the first time such a consultation has taken place, at least to this extent. We've had over 1,200 responses to this, and I think that's an indication of the importance this government places on setting of the minimum wage. There has never been consultation like this before and we expect that the outcome will be reflective of the consultation.

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

ENVIRON. & LBR. - WATER:

EXPORTATION - LICENSING EXPLAIN

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: I read with some interest a report by the Southam News file last year in Atlanta where the Premier is reported as saying that Nova Scotia doesn't have enough water for its own needs, much less enough to meet the export demands. I will certainly table that document. My question is, given the fact that at least one well-known Annapolis Valley-based water company exports its product to consumers in New York City - my question to the Minister of Environment and Labour being, if we don't have enough water for domestic needs, why do we licence private bottling companies to draw, bottle and export water from Nova Scotia?

HON. DAVID MORSE: I thank the member opposite for bringing forward the point that this government passed legislation limiting the amount of water that can be exported out of the province. My recollection is that 25 litres is the maximum that can be exported under the legislation.

[4:00 p.m.]

MR. MACKINNON: Twenty-five litres is hardly a bucket of water, so I don't know what the honourable minister is referring to. The Premier didn't know is hardly a bucket of water. So I don't know what the honourable minister is referring to. The Premier didn't know

[Page 7769]

the debt was still rising and now he doesn't appear to know about export water either; certainly the Minister of Environment and Labour doesn't. Under the Environment Act, one does not require a licence to withdraw less than 5,000 gallons of water per day. In light of the Premier's decree that we lack water, will the minister be introducing Environment Act amendments to conserve groundwater in Nova Scotia?

MR. MORSE: The member opposite speaks to some of the developments in our water strategy which will be expected very soon. I appreciate his pointing out the importance of groundwater. I think the member would recognize that a couple of years ago I spoke on this in the House, but perhaps the response from the Opposition was not as much concern as they are showing today. Anyway, with time, they have come to fully appreciate the importance of the groundwater resources and part of the water strategy will address supply and conservation of supply.

MR. MACKINNON: It is too easy, Mr. Speaker. I don't know what he is putting in his water. My second supplementary is to the Premier. The fact is that the Department of Environment and Labour does not know the volume of groundwater that it has or the surface water reserves. In fact, the Province of Nova Scotia doesn't even know how much water it exports on an annual basis and that is confirmed by the Minister of Environment and Labour's officials. It is also confirmed by the Minister of Economic Development's officials. So my question to the Premier is, on what basis did he offer the statement that we do not have enough groundwater for our domestic needs?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, this is a very important issue, particularly to the agricultural industry in Nova Scotia and very recently our minister was participating in a conference that was dealing with the real issue that the member wants to bring to the attention of the House and that is the groundwater issue, particularly as it relates to our growing industry . . .

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

HON. ERNEST FAGE: Mr. Speaker, the Premier is correct. The issue raised last spring was primarily dealing with a number of issues concerning water, but that specific one was the volume for agricultural purposes in the Valley. What we have done since that time is appointed a person in the Department of Agriculture to coordinate the water strategy and with the co-operation of all departments are doing a total evaluation of water resources in that particular area and the province as a whole and developing a water strategy that will deal with not only industrial-commercial uses, but also residential uses.

[Page 7770]

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

ENVIRON. & LBR.: WORKPLACE VIOLENCE - REGS. INTRODUCE

MR. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, in 1992, Marie Dupe, a clerk, was murdered while working alone in a Sydney convenience store. That was 10 years ago. Since then, we have seen violence in the workplace increase. Further, this government has upped the ante by stocking a number of remote stores with alcohol and yet we still don't have violence in the workplace regulations. I would like to ask the Minister of Environment and Labour, when will you help Nova Scotian workers protect themselves and introduce the regulations we so desperately need and deserve.

HON. DAVID MORSE: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the member opposite for drawing attention to this area. The member opposite would know that the Occupational Health and Safety Advisory Council is working on those regulations. This is an employer-employee group that works on reaching consensus before things come forward to Cabinet and it remains with them.

MR. CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, another incident was just last may when Yancy Meyer was murdered while working in a convenience store in the Town of Antigonish, again, by himself. In fact, these regulations, as the minister full knows, were drafted seven years ago. These aren't new regulations, they are seven years old, but they are still gathering dust in the Cabinet Room shelves. My question to you, Mr. Minister, is why don't you show this province that you are taking violence in the workplace seriously and introduce those regulations in this sitting of the House? Do it today.

MR. MORSE: Mr. Speaker, I think the member opposite would know well that a regulation is not something that gets introduced into the House. This is something that is being worked on by the advisory council. It was referred back to them, and until such time as they refer it back to me I will not be in a position to submit an R&R to Cabinet.

MR. CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, this is the same Party that gave us Westray. This is the same Party and the then-Premier blamed it on the workers. If this government had some foresight and would show Nova Scotians that the government is taking violence in the workplace seriously, these regulations would help managers and employers to be proactive and would provide guidance and incentive for safe workplaces. It makes sense to introduce these violence in the workplace regulations, and it makes sense to do it now. I would like to ask you, Mr. Minister, what is it going to take for you to finally act and introduce regulations that will protect Nova Scotian workers? Is it another Westray, is that what it's going to take?

MR. MORSE: Mr. Speaker, I wish to assure the member opposite that under the general regulations there are broad provisions that require an employer to take care of the health and safety of their employees. That has been in place for some time, it's working well,

[Page 7771]

and until such time as the employer-employee committee can agree upon specific recommendations to enhance the violence in the workplace provisions, then we are going to have to rely on the general regulations.

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

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. During the preamble to one of his questions, I believe the member misspoke when he said this Premier blamed the workers.

AN HON. MEMBER: The previous Premier.

THE PREMIER: Well it came across that the member opposite had said that this Premier. I would give the member opposite an opportunity to correct the record.

MR. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, if he heard that - I would rely on Hansard - certainly my intention was that Premier . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: Which Premier?

MR. CORBETT: . . . would mean the Premier of the day, not today.

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you. That was another day.

OPPOSITION MEMBERS' BUSINESS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Liberal House Leader.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, would you please call the order of business, Private Members' Public Bills for Second Reading.

PRIVATE MEMBERS' PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Liberal House Leader.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 103.

Bill No. 103 - Health-care Premiums Prohibition Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

DR. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I rise today to debate a bill of great importance to this House and particularly to our caucus, Bill No. 103, An Act to Impose a Prohibition on

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Health-care Premiums in Nova Scotia. This has been very topical talk coming out of Alberta for instance, recently, and that always gives us concern when something happens in health care in Alberta, Ontario, even New Brunswick. Sooner or later it seems to find its way here. I would like to use this opportunity today to speak in favour of Bill No. 103 and the important impact it would have to the taxpayers, the people of Nova Scotia, relevant to their health care system.

Our reason for introducing this bill, Mr. Speaker, is quite clear. We as a caucus are against the implementation of health care premiums in Nova Scotia. That would be premiums relative to health care providers, care provided within hospitals and also those imposed by the minister, in his office as minister. Before I discuss the reasons why all members should be supporting this bill, let me relay to all members of the Legislature a quote of the Premier that is relevant to this topic. July 26, 1999, the setting is the Yarmouth Hospital in southwestern Nova Scotia, the current Premier said, "Money alone will not fix health care . . ."

Mr. Speaker, if money alone will not fix health care, then there should be no reason to charge a premium for our health care here in Nova Scotia. Many of us have heard the rumours, perhaps all too clearly, perhaps trial balloons, but whatever that might be, whatever the case may be, this government may well be considering a renewal fee for health cards. I believe that to have been on the table at one juncture.

Mr. Speaker, this would be quite an attractive cash cow for this government that paints with a very broad brush when it comes to health care. The $100 fee proposed, in fact, would realize $20 million. That's based on about one-quarter of the population renewing their cards at any one time over a four year period, $20 million, and I'm sure that that would be very attractive to this government, but to this caucus this type of arithmetic, this lack of health care planning is unacceptable. Equally unacceptable is charging a premium on the payroll which would be another way that this premium could be introduced.

Two jurisdictions in this country we know, Mr. Speaker, already charge a premium; one I mentioned earlier is Alberta, a province that this government in many ways and in many cases tends to emulate. This government collects about $2.5 billion in Nova Scotia taxes and $1.9 million in revenue from the federal government. Yet the prospect of a premium is still floating around out there. Nova Scotia taxpayers don't need to be paying any more to this government. This government does not deserve more money from the taxpayers of Nova Scotia to fund their inaction and their lack of a plan for health care. Government needs to apologize, in fact, to the people of Nova Scotia for not having a plan for health care. This government misled the people of Nova Scotia right from the time of the election program on. They said they had a plan. The Premier said that they had a plan, it was affordable. What they didn't tell the people was that included in this plan, which we've seen come to pass all too well throughout this whole land, was the reduction in services, longer wait times, closing of the emergency rooms as we've heard today, and the list goes on.

[Page 7773]

Nova Scotians, I believe, will not tolerate any more fees for health care, and why is that? Well, we've already seen a 56 per cent increase in the Seniors' Pharmacare Program premium this year, an increase in co-pay the year before, or a little over a year before, and then a premium increase of 56 per cent. Today I couldn't help but sit here thinking, the largesse of, I think it was the Minister of Finance saying how he had helped the poor people. Well, that wasn't the Minister of Finance helping anybody except himself come to some fictitious balancing of a budget because what they did, Mr. Speaker, was increase tax. The premium came out of those seniors and disabled persons in that program and they are the ones who funded the relief of the premium to those who could less well afford it.

You might say that's a good idea, take from the rich and give to the poor but, Mr. Speaker, if that is what is being done, then I think the people of Nova Scotia have a right to understand that. A few people figured that out, but very few Nova Scotians understand the sleight of hand that this government did with that premium in Seniors' Pharmacare and everything was done in-house and at the end of the day they ended up taking a considerable junk of change away from the people of Nova Scotia.

Many of those seniors, Mr. Speaker, while this government may look at them as being rich and deserve to have increased taxes, many of them are on fixed incomes and they don't know - we know they're more likely to become ill and need long-term care and nursing care, those types of things, and that really disrupts the planning of the seniors, but that's so much for the Seniors' Pharmacare Program. I think it speaks for itself and Nova Scotians have been served full notice of how this government intends to operate towards our seniors. This government, I say again, does not deserve one more cent extra from the people of Nova Scotia until that minister shares with them a plan for quality health care in Nova Scotia.

He mentioned today that this province has the top in emergency health services in North America and that is true. That has made a great sacrifice at times when we didn't have the luxury as a government, when we brought that program in as a Liberal Government, we didn't have the luxury of the monies that are coming from the federal government today.

[4:15 p.m.]

This government has proven time and time again that they don't deserve, as a government, another red nickel - sorry, a red penny; I was thinking of red Tories, I got mixed up. I must say some days the cents have no sense. You can't fault this government for spending money in health care. They've thrown money at the system again. We're back to the previous Tory Government's way of doing business - politicize the Arts Council, on and on is what is happening.

This government has spent an extra $400 million on health care since assuming office and what do they have to show for it? The people from the Valley who were here today, particularly the people in Middleton and up along the Valley - which probably many people

[Page 7774]

across Canada would assume and believe that to be one of the nicest parts of Canada and they've always done well, they've supported each other whether at the municipal level or sharing fire department services or whatever, it's been a great area. Who would have thought that we would have seen and witnessed the dismantling of the infrastructure of the health care system in the Annapolis Valley of Nova Scotia. It's just beyond reason. One couldn't assume that one would ever live long enough to see that day.

An extra $400 million has come from increased revenues, federal government and all of a sudden we saw, to keep the peace and to keep everyone quiet, the $22.5 million that just seemed to fall out of the sky like an airplane flew over and a 707 flew over and there's money floating around and that was supposed to keep people quiet. We've seen that type of government before, haven't we? We'll give you some extra money, now you keep quiet. If you don't keep quiet, we're going to put the police on you. That's exactly what this government and this minister did. We're going to audit you and wasn't it ironic that same day that was announced, the financial officer in that region was relieved of her duties. How do you think that person felt in that community? And, what is going on anyway?

Maybe when the minister gets up, if he does, to speak to Bill No. 103, he'll explain the actions of that audit and why that financial person was relieved of their duties. How does that person feel when facing their family when they go home? Had they been stealing money? Is the reason that the infrastructure and the health care system in the Annapolis Valley in Nova Scotia is being dismantled because that financial officer was doing something wrong? And, if not, why were they relieved of that particular position?

What I think is happening, we'll give you some money and then you be quiet. If you speak up, we're going to send the police after you and we're going to audit you and we're going to publicly embarrass you. I hope the MLAs from that area have got this figured out because they've heard the people speak as I did the other night in Kentville.

The list goes on. Why should the people of Nova Scotia want to give this government any more money when that is what they've already done with Nova Scotians' hard-earned tax dollars? Whatever this government wishes to call it, whether it be a premium, a user fee, a renewal fee for your health card, it's a tax - pure and simple. A tax that, according to the government, back in 1999 in Yarmouth - I don't know if the MLA for Yarmouth was there probably at the time, probably was his nomination meeting, I don't know, but that's where the Premier of this province said, money alone will not fix health care, so no more taxes and no more premiums on health care.

This government's campaign on an election platform that said we didn't need to spend any more money on the health care system, we just need to spend it better. Could this government please stand up and tell us where they have made the health care system better? We heard from the people of the Annapolis Valley of Nova Scotia, they don't think they're as well off as they were two and a half years ago. Wait times have gone up. Health care

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professionals are leaving this province. Why would anyone leave British Columbia or the United States when they hear the troubles? Troubles are happening across this province in health care. The system is disrupted. People are anxious. They are stressed. There are troubles in the land and this government has caused them, and now it is going to tax the people even more. So why wouldn't nurses leave and doctors not come to this province?

I take no joy out of that, Mr. Speaker, as an Opposition member. I think all Nova Scotians bear responsibility, and they bear the responsibility to do something. We are saying, with Bill No. 103, enough is enough and no more of that. This government is not deserving of one more red cent from the people of Nova Scotia to pay for health care services, whether it be through a premium or a user fee. That's why we have introduced this bill today. Bill No. 103 will place a prohibition on premiums on insurance services by health care providers, by hospitals and by the minister. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Health.

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, just prior to entering the debate on Bill No. 103, perhaps I may have first misheard the honourable member for Glace Bay indicating just what a fine health care system we had up there. I just wonder if the honourable member for Glace Bay might like to repeat that statement again for the Health Critic for the Party. He has a rather short memory and I would not like to see that the members of that Party are quarrelling about the level of health care service that you receive. I do believe that I did hear the honourable member for Glace Bay get up and sing the praises of the health care system.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Is the honourable Minister of Health making that a motion, that the honourable member for Glace Bay could make that statement? Is it agreed in the House? We don't have agreement. The honourable Minister of Health has the floor.

MR. MUIR: I do just want to comment that I noticed that the member who introduced this bill probably didn't really take it seriously because, clearly, he deviated from here, there and the other thing. I'm not surprised, Mr. Speaker, because that was clearly a pattern of the way he ran the Department of Health. He didn't know where he was going or where he came from and he had no plan.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to start by making a few points clear. Our government is committed to a universal, single-tiered health care system in accordance with the Canada Health Act. This government does support the principles of the Canada Health Act. It is not our intention, and you will find this out tomorrow - the budget, which will be released, will not indicate that there will be premiums or charges for insured services in Nova Scotia. You will find that out tomorrow.

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Mr. Speaker, I can say that - just in putting that in context, and I can see the honourable member for Halifax Chebucto over there nodding his head, agreeing with me - I have had numerous interventions by people indicating that they would be quite willing to pay some sort of premium or fee for services that are currently insured. That has not been the position of this government. Our goal is to provide quality health care that is responsive to the needs of Nova Scotians at a cost that we can afford. As the Premier said earlier today in response to a question, we are not just looking at today; we are looking at the health care for our children and for our grandchildren. We are working very hard to get a system that has a structure and a basis for maintenance that will see that quality health care services can be delivered into the foreseeable future and beyond.

Despite that, Mr. Speaker, we all know that the cost of health care is continually rising. I was astonished to hear the member for Dartmouth East stand up and criticize the government for not providing more and then stand up during this debate and say that we are spending too much. I use the classic case of suck and blow. You can't do both at the same time, and I want to know whether the honourable member thinks that we should indeed be spending more on health care. I heard him say distinctly that we were spending too much,

we should be spending less. We are making difficult decisions right now to protect our health care, including having to redo - there will be some changes around the province to protect the system that we have. Indeed, some of these changes that will be made will actually see the system enhanced, and it will also protect it for the future. We are also, as we make these changes to improve our health delivery system, making every effort to avoid putting a cost on Nova Scotia.

We do, however, face ever-escalating pressures, which are really beyond our control. Our population is getting older, Mr. Speaker, and we know that the older you are, the greater the demand on the health care system. The price of pharmaceuticals, the government's contribution for pharmaceutical increases. Next year the price of the Seniors' Pharmacare Program will be near $125 million. When that program was introduced some number of years ago it was supposed to be cost shared on a 50/50 basis. Currently the government does pay about 70 per cent of that program. Our contribution next year to the Seniors' Pharmacare will be $85 million, $86 million.

The other thing which we are dealing with is advanced new technologies and the better delivery of health care services. I want to speak, just to give you an example. Last year there was an increase in the wait list for some cardiac procedures at the Queen Elizabeth II Health Sciences Centre. That's pretty well been straightened out now because the hospital, through their administration, was able to help relieve that pressure. Part of that pressure came because there were new protocols. The cardiac care required people to have more advanced intervention quicker. It wasn't that the waiting list grew because procedures weren't being done, a good portion of that waiting list came because there were people being added to it that until this new approach to cardiac care would never have been there in the first place.

[Page 7777]

This is the type of thing. It's a pressure. It's improving. The services are improving. People are going to be better cared for than ever before, but it does put pressure on the system. I guess what I'm saying, Mr. Speaker, is that in terms of the resources that are available to us as a province, the status quo is simply not sustainable. It's just simple math. We have to take a look at delivering health care differently. We have to maintain quality but increase efficiency.

The honourable member for Dartmouth East took great pains to talk about District Health Authority No. 3 and some of the stresses that are there now. Again, I want to assure him and the residents of the Annapolis Valley that the changes that are being made are not going to detract, take away services. They may be delivered a little bit differently, they may be necessarily delivered in a different place, but they will continue to have access to quality health care services as they will in Dartmouth, as they will up in Cape Breton, as they will in Cumberland County and Guysborough County and Inverness and Richmond and wherever else it is.

Mr. Speaker, we have taken many steps in the past two and a half years to increase efficiency at the same time as maintaining quality and, along with that, trying to contain our costs. Some of the things that we have done have to do with the primary health care pilot projects. In the primary health care pilot projects, and we backed this up with legislation last year, it introduces a new health care provider into our health care system, that is nurse practitioners. You will find tomorrow that the provision for nurse practitioners is being further enhanced. But the promise of the nurse practitioner, that the nurse practitioner holds to assist in primary care here in Nova Scotia and participate in the primary care delivery health system has got great promise. I am pleased to say that was endorsed by both of the Opposition Parties.

[4:30 p.m.]

When I mention nurses, Mr. Speaker, I would like to mention our nursing strategy. We released the update on it, and contrary to what the Opposition Parties are saying, this strategy has been working. We have more nurses in Nova Scotia now than we had last year. Indeed, the recruiting efforts, we have about 70 young people who are going to participate in the internship program this summer and will hopefully remain in the province. We, because of our nursing strategy, which does include some relocation expenses in this year, we have, since the strategy has been in effect, been able to attract back to the province from out-of-province, we would be able to bring home between 50 and 70 nurses who, prior to the introduction of this strategy, probably wouldn't have come back. That strategy is working. The strategy costs money.

We are also the second most effective province in the country in terms of recruiting health care professionals. We have more doctors and more nurses per thousand population than any province except Quebec. Now the honourable member says that we are not doing

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very well in that regard. We are not doing as well as I would like; I admit that. But I can tell you that we are certainly doing better than that group over there did, and we won't have to worry about that group over there ever having that challenge. Mr. Speaker, we are doing better than eight provinces and the territories and I am pleased to do that.

That is not just the efforts of the government, Mr. Speaker. That is due to efforts of the people in Richmond County that the honourable member for Richmond spoke of today in terms of recruiting. It is due to the people down in Digby County on Long Island and Brier Island and the medic group down there who are working with the department to try and bring health human resources. It is working with the people down in Clare from where this member originates or that member originates, working with communities. That is what this government does.

There are some cases in Nova Scotia, Mr. Speaker, where I guess to provide these services we are asking people to pay some sort of a user fee, but this is not for insurance services. I guess there is one exception in the province and that would be the Morgentaler Clinic, where the government will pay the fees for the physicians, but there is a facilities fee which we do not pay. I just want to tell you it is a saw-off, in that, I guess, because we get deduction from our transfer payments because we don't pay that facilities fee.

Unfortunately, Mr. Speaker, many people think all health care services are insured and are covered under the Canada Health Act. They are not. Drugs, long-term care, home care or ambulance transport, these are not things which are covered under the Canada Health Act and, therefore, they are not fully insured. Now despite that, because these services are essential to Nova Scotians, we are doing our absolute best to preserve and protect them. As everybody knows, and you will see again tomorrow, our government is putting considerable resources into these areas so people can have access to them. However, we do have to ask, in some cases, for people to participate in their costs.

We have, Mr. Speaker, about 95,000 seniors in our Pharmacare Program. Despite the implication that was given in Question Period today by people who should know better, that about 48,000 of those will not pay a premium next year or will pay a reduced premium. In the Pharmacare Program, although we did alter the premium for the first time since one was introduced, it was to protect the program and indeed there will be 7,000 more Nova Scotians eligible for a reduced or a waiver of premium under the new scheme that will be in next year.

I could say, Mr. Speaker, that it was the seniors groups that encouraged us to raise the floors for the reduction and waiver of premiums and they were pleased that we did that to make the drug coverage available at less cost to more people. Increasing the premium or adding a user fee is something that we give very careful consideration to. We have a sliding scale and basically those who are in a position to pay more are asked to pay more in the case of the Seniors' Pharmacare Program.

[Page 7779]

We face unique challenges here in Nova Scotia. Like the other smaller Atlantic Provinces, we don't fare as well economically. The other thing that we have in Nova Scotia as has been well documented by the recent CIHI information is that we have a greater burden of illness here than anyplace else in the country and we hope to change that. We're moving now and that's reality. This is why, Mr. Speaker, both the Premier and I have argued with our federal counterparts and other provincial counterparts that funding for health on a per capita basis is unfair.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

The honourable member's time has expired.

The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I'm very pleased to have an opportunity to speak on behalf of the NDP caucus with respect to this bill that's before members here this afternoon. The position of our caucus is clear. We oppose health care premiums. We oppose user fees in the health care system, not only for insured services, but also for many of the accompanying kind of requirements that people have these days in the health care system. We've been very concerned. I was very pleased to hear the minister say finally, to bring some clarification, that there won't be health care premiums levied against Nova Scotians as a result of tomorrow's budget because certainly during the period leading up to the budget when both he and the Minister of Finance were out, not exactly consulting because we recognize there's been very little what you would call realistic consultation around the budget that will be coming forward tomorrow, but as they went around the province participating in whatever PR exercises that had been dreamed up in the backrooms of the Premier's Office, certainly the minister was sending out all of the signals, Mr. Speaker, that everything was on the table, I think was the quote I had heard at one time, and he wouldn't rule out the possibility of health care premiums.

Shortly before this House came back into session, I issued a press release asking for some clarification and a commitment from the minister that he would not be introducing premiums and that he was unwilling to take Nova Scotians in that direction. I have to say that I'm very relieved to hear that the government won't be going that way and I will tell you why, Mr. Speaker, this is a source of concern and why Nova Scotians should be relieved today to learn that there won't be health care premiums. We have health care premiums in two provinces in this country, in Alberta and British Columbia. The Liberal Government in British Columbia has just announced substantial increases in the premiums in that province that will go into effect May 1st and these are truly staggering amounts of money that families and individuals in that province are going to be required to pay, not that the premiums that were in place prior to these increases weren't fairly significant, and I would like to read into the record some figures I have, and I will table some information that I was able to get off

[Page 7780]

the Internet from the various newspapers in Vancouver and Alberta with respect to what's happening in those provinces around premiums.

In the Province of British Columbia, an individual who earns more than $24,000, a gross annual income of $24,000, has been paying $432 a year as health insurance premiums, and that will rise to $648 a year on May 1st. That's for one person. That's a pretty hefty chunk of change for somebody whose before-taxation income is merely $24,000 a year. A family of four whose gross income is $33,000 currently, in the Province of British Columbia, pays $864 annually, and that, as of May 1st, will become $1,296. A couple pays $768, and its premiums are going up to $1,152.

Mr. Speaker, there's no other way of looking at these premiums than to say that they're a tax. This is taxation, clear and simple, and it's totally unacceptable. It's shameful, really, that the Liberal Government in British Columbia has seen fit to increase so substantially the premiums in that province when really it should have been looking and it should be looking for ways to eliminate health care premiums.

What about the Province of Alberta, under the Tory Klein Government? Well, it has its own not-so-dirty little secret around health care premiums. The cut-offs for families and for individuals are truly disgraceful in terms of at what point a family or an individual has to pay the full amount of health care premiums. This is the richest province in the country. This is the province that has in excess of $11 billion in a rainy day fund, the Alberta Heritage Savings Trust Fund that was set up by Premier Lougheed many years ago. These are the circumstances for people living in the Province of Alberta, where there is no sales tax. This is what they do to extort from the incomes of Albertans to pay for health care.

A family whose household income is $12,620 or more - anything over $12,620 in the Province of Alberta - pays $618 a year today, but this is due to go up to $1,236. That's unbelievable, that low family income would be taxed at this rate to pay for health care coverage. An individual whose income is $7,560 or more than that currently pays $408 a year, and that's due to double, to go up to $804, and so on. It's only persons whose income is under $5,000 gross a year who are exempt from these health care premiums. Mr. Speaker, this is a shocking situation and it's one that we need to protect Nova Scotians from having to face.

[4:45 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, not only is it important that we avoid introducing health premiums in this province, I think that the reality is that Nova Scotians, like many Canadians, are seeing a substantial increase in the amounts of money that they're paying out of their own pockets for health care services. We have to remember how narrow the coverage for health care, what an insured service actually is in this country today. An insured service is essentially visiting a physician in a physician's office or it's going to hospital and being hospitalized, and that's

[Page 7781]

it. We know that health care is much more than that. We have long-term care facilities that are providing health care in the Province of Nova Scotia and individuals in this province, unless they are very wealthy, are in a situation where they have to contribute a substantial amount of their household income not only for the lodging portions of being in a long-term care facility, but also they have to pay for the medical care, the health care component.

Here is a good example of where there needs to be an extension of health care coverage in the public health care system. We're all aware that the Romanow Commission is travelling the province, will be here in Nova Scotia on the 17th of April. I think it's very important for Nova Scotians to make their views known to the commission in terms of what they feel needs to occur with respect to extending the publicly funded, universal health care system that we pride ourselves in in this country.

Every single, solitary poll that is done, Mr. Speaker, Nova Scotians, Canadians, will say that their number one priority is health care. They also talk about their commitment to maintaining a one-tiered health care system and I think this is because Nova Scotians recognize the inadequacy of the health care system that our neighbours and our friends to the south have to deal with. We know only too well because we hear the stories and we see the American newscasts and the various dramas unfold on American television of how many people in that country have no health care coverage whatsoever because they have a two-tiered system where the vast majority of people are only able to receive health care because of private plans. They're in private plans either through employment or through their individual ability to pay because they're wealthy.

We have an opportunity, I think, with the Romanow Commission, as Nova Scotians, to make our views known about the need to not only reconfirm our commitment to the principles of the Canada Health Act that the Minister of Health spoke about, but to extend, to go beyond what Tommy Douglas - who many acknowledge is the father of Medicare in this country - to go beyond Douglas', what he considered to be the first level of health care which was providing universal and public insurance to cover physician's visits and hospitalization. But Douglas identified what the second course of health care development in the country had to be and understood that Pharmacare, pharmaceuticals needed to be incorporated into the health care system, as well as long-term care, continuing care and other forms of care. Today we have home care. There is a service, again, many people are in situations where they require home care and the public system is inadequate to meet their needs. They're left trying to purchase services through private providers and this often either depletes the resources of a family completely, or it results in families just not having the adequate care that they require.

Mr. Speaker, the other area I would think that this government and this minister need to speak more strongly around is the whole question of user fees. While he did make mention of user fees very briefly, I listened carefully, he indicated that there are user fees coming in the health care system, just not around insured services. This caucus and I have had an

[Page 7782]

opportunity in the past to introduce bills on this floor that would prohibit the use of fees in our health care system, fees for pap smears, fees for sutures, fees for tongue depressors or whatever, increasingly offloading fees onto patients.

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

The honourable member for Cape Breton West.

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in support of this particular Private Member's Bill, Bill No. 103, which essentially would put a cap or prohibit the usage of user fees on insured services here in Nova Scotia for health care providers, hospitals and the like. I congratulate the honourable member for bringing this bill before the House because, in reality, what we have here is the real Minister of Health in the Province of Nova Scotia. The evidence speaks for itself. I will point out a number of obvious facts, unlike - I don't know if you would call it a witch doctor or some kind of voodooism that is going on over there between numbers and programs and plans that never seem to exist. The honourable member who introduced this particular piece of legislation, he just didn't do this on a political whim just in the last few days to try and get something on the order paper and so on. This is something that this honourable member has been pushing for many years. When the Tories took power, this honourable member was there to try and protect many of the good deeds that were achieved on behalf of the people of Nova Scotia through his department and under his tenure.

Mr. Speaker, in April 2000, the honourable member for Dartmouth East brought this issue before the House. Again, on May 2, 2001, the honourable member brought this issue again back before the House. But let's leave that just for the time being and deal with the reality of the situation and why this honourable member would like to bring such a comprehensive and thoughtful piece of legislation. Don't we remember one week before the provincial election in July 1999 when the then Leader of the Third Party said, I will correct all the problems in health care for $46.5 million. When the Liberals were in, we did have a surplus. The honourable member for Annapolis is correct.

Mr. Speaker, let's look at the reality. The health care budgets under this Tory Government since they took power, let's look at the facts. The PC budget in 1999 said health care, $1.77 billion. What did they spend? They spent $1.951 billion, $181 million over budget in the first year. The next budget in 2000 they budgeted $1.686 billion and what did they spend? They spent $1.909 billion, $223 million over budget. So much for the $46.5 million solution by the magician down in Pictou County.

Let's go again, Mr. Speaker, to the 2001 budget. They budgeted $1.819 billion and what did they spend - $1.855 billion. Another $35 million over budget. In total they have overspent by $439 million.

[Page 7783]

They forgot a decimal point when they were talking $46.5 million; it should have been $465 million. What do they do? They hijacked a Liberal platform. That's what they did. They took the Liberal Health Care Investment Plan, they changed the title of it and that's what they did, but the problem with that is Tory ways are terrible ways. It's hard to break bad habits. Remember the Royal Commission on Health Care - $3 million commissioned by a Tory Government, and what did they ask for? They asked for regional hospital boards. Yes, Mr. Speaker, and what do we do? We took the advice that was given on this $3 million study that was commissioned by the Tory Government. As soon as we did it, we saw that there was a good plan that could be enacted. We did it and what do they do? Oh, no, because it's better to have a political gimmick. That's all it was. Let's go from regional to district boards. Well, what a sham. (Interruptions)

The honourable government has actually misplaced the trust that the people of Nova Scotia put in them, Mr. Speaker. The Minister of Health hasn't even indicated how much it has cost to go back from regional to district health authorities. If he had taken a responsible leadership role and continued as Dr. Goldbloom had recommended, continued with regional health care boards, perhaps the people from the Annapolis Valley would not have been here protesting on the steps of the Legislature today because the members for that area failed to stand up for their constituents. So much so that the member, who is also the Minister of Environment and Labour, refused to support the petition for further cuts in that area.

He went to a meeting in the Valley, in Middleton, 2,000 people, and told them to settle down, settle down, you may be wrong in what you're doing. We're right. You're wrong. Mr. Speaker, they chased him. He couldn't get out the front door. They had to chase him out the fire escape. That's essentially how he got out of the building. He got out by the skin of his teeth.

Let's go look at what the Premier said. (Interruptions) Yes, oh, all the wonderful things that the Premier said that he was going to do. He said we are going to deliver less administration and more health care. Well, why do we have two Deputy Ministers of Health, or is it three? Three for the price of one, no, he hired three, but that wasn't good enough, he had to hire two spin doctors - not doctors you know, like medical doctors, spin doctors - to kind of weave out this, you know, spin-city-type thing. That's really what it is. It is becoming a real cartoon over in the Department of Health. (Interruptions) Exactly. It's absolutely shameful.

This is the type, Mr. Speaker - I will demonstrate why this bill is so important to all people in Nova Scotia - the sneaky, sneaky tax that this government has perpetrated on the people of Nova Scotia.

[Page 7784]

[5:00 p.m.]

Let's look at one issue alone. The people that need help the most - personal care, home support services, in other words, for the most part those who are disabled who need home care and so on. In the 2000-2001 budget, there was a list - I will table this so all members of the House will have it. You can see the schedule of fees, the minimum and the maximum that individuals would have to pay and they have different categories for different levels of income and that's fine, but, one kind of a little tangible change in their policy from 2001 to 2002. Under category (e) where the minimum charge was $8.00, that's the $8.00 per hour up to a maximum monthly client fee charge of $320 or if it's for a very essential item such as oxygen - if you're on an oxygen tank at home - you need that service.

Up until 2000-01 you would pay a maximum fee of $240. So if your total fee for the year was $1,000, the Department of Health would cover this $760. Now, the client has to find their oxygen somewhere else - they have to pay for the whole thing. They're even choking off the air for the patients. Is that what it's coming to? Shame on you. You're picking on the most defenceless, the helpless people in Nova Scotia. Is that what this government is all about? Is this compassion? Is this a government for the people? I would submit not, Mr. Speaker. It's absolutely shameful. Yes, they're even choking them at the windpipe (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member knows, relative to content of speeches, that in the House generally we don't make personal charges against members and I find as the Speaker at this particular moment that the honourable member is certainly drawing a very long bow towards that end so I would ask him if he could please refocus on his speech as he did earlier on. Thank you.

MR. MACKINNON: Yes. Thank you, Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to hear you're enjoying my speech and I won't draw a long bow because it's bad enough that the government is hunting down the people of Nova Scotia the way it is with these user fees. It's absolutely unpalatable and the way the minister and his staff have treated members of this House. We had representatives from the Department of Health come before the Public Accounts Committee on November 7, 2001 with regard to the community support for the adult program. Representatives from that department indicated that there was a policy put in place for the criteria entrance into nursing homes at that time. It had been put in under the Liberal Administration so we asked for that. Yes, we were given an undertaking that was going to be forthcoming. Till this very moment, we can't even get officials on the Department of Health's phone line, help line, fax line, e-mails, anything, to respond to that request because the only policy that's existent is one that was put in in June 2000 by this administration trying to claw back as much of the assets of seniors in this province that I have never seen the like of before.

[Page 7785]

Mr. Speaker, if you have one spouse who happens to be required to go into a nursing home and the other spouse, perhaps on minimum wage for all intents and purposes, receiving the Canada Pension and perhaps a supplement, and then along come Department of Health officials and I can provide the documentation. Just as recently as two months ago, they came along. One lady in my constituency, a retired senior citizen, her total income for the month was approximately $400-some and the Department of Health official comes out and says we're going to take 50 per cent of the value of your home by submitting a bill to you to pay for $50 a day for every day your husband had to stay in the hospital after the 30 day period. It's not his fault he had a stroke, it's not his fault he needs health care in the regional hospital, but because he's there for more than 30 days, they're going to start sending the bill. If that's not user fees, if that's not contrary to the principles and the intent of the Canada Health Act, what is? This government is effectively privatizing health care in Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, that's why Bill No. 103 is important. It's important not only for the members of this House, but for the people of Nova Scotia. (Interruption) Then we're hearing from the greeter for Wal-Mart, as usual, the cracklings from the corner. They never stand up and tell their constituents where they stand on these issues because they're not allowed. They can't get off the leash. He sends a newsletter anonymously.

Mr. Speaker, I realize my time is getting short. I have 40 seconds to finish. I would think that the Minister of Health would come to his senses and start listening to the member for Dartmouth East. He has good ideas. He has been a leader in health care who's recognized in every jurisdiction of this country. Look at our ambulance service. As you've stated yourself, Mr. Minister, it is the best in North America, thanks to the honourable member for Dartmouth East when he was the Minister of Health, and many more services. I would encourage the government to stand up and vote for this.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The time allocated for Bill No. 103 has expired.

The honourable Liberal House Leader.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: That's a hard act to follow.

Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 102.

Bill No. 102 - Raw Gas Onshore-processing Act.

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

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I don't think anybody should be surprised that this bill is here today. I think it's the only way the Opposition Parties in this House can bring to the attention of Nova Scotians, and hopefully to the government, a

[Page 7786]

missing piece in the offshore puzzle here, and what's been happening regarding the whole oil and gas industry as it affects the future in Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, the premise of this bill is that all Nova Scotia gas found in offshore Nova Scotia must be processed onshore in Nova Scotia. There can be no secondary industry from the offshore if our gas is processed and packaged offshore and sent directly to the United States mainland. If the government fails to recognize this, then the government is either incompetent or incredibly stupid.

AN HON. MEMBER: Or both.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Or both. There's no in-between here. One only needs to look at the PanCanadian project to understand the regression our industry is taking as a result of the ineptitude of this government. I want to say right off the bat that you can't blame PanCanadian for that. They're going to get the best deal they possibly can; they're in the business of doing that. But you can blame the Province of Nova Scotia for the fact that only 18 per cent of the content of this project will be Nova Scotian.

Mr. Speaker, I find it absolutely incredible that the same Tory Leader, now the Premier, who lambasted the previous government for 29 per cent Nova Scotian content in the Sable project now seems to be satisfied with 18 per cent Nova Scotian content in the latest project. The part-time Minister of the Office of Economic Development, who someday may be a full-time minister - or at least someday somebody may be a full-time minister; I've been hearing that for a year now - states that he's going to talk to the oil industry. He's going to discuss it with them. That's another broken promise.

The fact that he's going to have discussions about onshore processing while the company is out there telling the whole world it's going to process it offshore, that and $1.00 will get you a cup of coffee.

AN HON. MEMBER: Where?

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: That's all that discussion will be worth. Is it more? I don't drink coffee. (Interruptions) You're very helpful; my friend is very helpful. (Interruptions) He sits to the right of me but he's certainly not to the right of me, although sometimes I wonder. (Interruptions) For those who didn't hear that, the statement was that he knows the cost of everything and the value of nothing.

Mr. Speaker, the Premier and the Minister responsible for the Petroleum Directorate have a duty to require that our resource is processed in Nova Scotia. Now that's not something that is revolutionary. I think that is something that we should expect from any reasonable government, but we can't expect it from this government because, obviously, they have abdicated all responsibility when it comes to maximizing Nova Scotia benefits from the

[Page 7787]

offshore. As a result of this, there will be no spin-offs such as petrochemicals, aluminum smelting or other power co-generation opportunities if they're not accessed to the gas on land.

Mr. Speaker, to make matters worse, if one company is allowed to process gas offshore then the others are going to follow suit because the bottom line with the oil companies is to maximize their profits. They don't care who gets the jobs. They don't care who gets the spin-offs. They want to get the gas processed and to a marketplace as quickly and as efficiently as they can for their interests, not for the interests of the people of Nova Scotia. That's fair ball if you are talking from their point of view. Again, you cannot blame the oil companies here; you blame the people who have the responsibility for the resource and that is the Government of Nova Scotia. I will go to the Laurentian Sub-basin for a moment. Even if any gas is found on the Nova Scotia side of the Laurentian Sub-basin, that 16 per cent that we ended up with, even if the gas is found there it will be of little value if the gas is processed offshore.

I want to turn for a moment, Mr. Speaker, to some other developments. Hunt Oil and Corridor Resources are both engaged in the preliminary steps now to do something about seismic testing, exploring off of Cape Breton. If they receive the permits, they haven't yet, but if they do and all the regulations are in place and it's found that they can co-exist in these areas, because I understand there are some areas of concern here, but all of that put aside, the government initially should send a message to Hunt Oil that if they are going to develop any gas or oil reserves off of Glace Bay or off of Louisbourg or off the Sydney Bight, it's called, then that production has to come ashore there. It comes ashore there to give Cape Breton the opportunity to develop a petrochemical industry in the Glace Bay or Louisbourg area, perhaps. That's what has to happen.

What has this government done so far? Haven't even made a statement to that effect. I have been asking them to say something public, Mr. Speaker, about that and all I get is silence. Well, nothing is happening. Well, nothing was happening with Sable for a long time until it did happen and then what happened there is the people who were waiting to derive some business opportunities out of the Sable project in Cape Breton were left at the starting gate. They never got any business because the government did not put the infrastructure in place at the time to do that.

Now with Hunt Oil, we have an opportunity, that's in its infancy, to send a message there, but if the industry is allowed to process offshore then significant benefits to Nova Scotians will disappear and that's what makes the bill so essential. It is going to be interesting now that this bill is here for second reading, it is going to be interesting to see whether the government allows this bill to go forward or perhaps they might not, but they may bring in a bill of their own. They may see the wisdom of perhaps bringing a bill in of their own to do exactly what we are proposing.

[Page 7788]

I believe that the problem here is that nobody is minding the store in this province when it comes to the whole petroleum industry, when it comes to dealing with big oil companies and when it comes to dealing with maximizing benefits for Nova Scotians. Just the other day an electrician calls me up from Cape Breton, can't get any work on the latest projects going on in the harbour here. There are electricians coming over from Newfoundland, there are electricians coming over from Great Britain, but Cape Breton electricians - and I am sure electricians from other parts of Nova Scotia - can't get jobs there. Now is that fair? What are the minister and the department doing about that. Nothing, while people are coming over on huge expense accounts and getting per diems and allowances for coming over and working here while Nova Scotians are not getting the jobs.

[5:15 p.m.]

I think yesterday, if it wasn't so funny, you would have to cry. The government tried to put a positive spin on what happened here yesterday. What kind of spin is the government going to put on the fact that these oil companies are going to put it to this province by maximizing their profits by processing offshore and, in the case of Hunt Oil and new developments, mainlining their gas in the sub-seabed right past us to the United States.

Now, I want to refer to an article, and I will table this, which I think is very telling. I think government members should pay attention to what was said in this particular article by a very much respected editorial writer in the business section of The Halifax Chronicle-Herald. His name is Roger Taylor and the headline is Boundary Decision Another Blow to Cape Breton Economy. The Premier stood in his place here today and said this was a boon to the Cape Breton economy. Only he believes that - and one or two Tories who are still left down there in industrial Cape Breton.

MR. PAUL MACEWAN: Are there any? I didn't know . . .

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Well, there are one or two left. We know who they are, Paul; we're working on getting them out of there. Anyway, I would like to table that and maybe the minister would like to read it. I didn't say that, the editorial writer in The Halifax Chronicle-Herald said that today. But of course, the minister and the Premier know better than an expert on business matters in this province by the name of Roger Taylor - Boundary Decision Another Blow to Cape Breton.

Mr. Speaker, yesterday Irving Shipyards and the Canadian Auto Workers called upon the government to set quotas for Nova Scotia content, and that's why I raise that matter about the electricians. When industry is calling for quotas, it means that they've reached the breaking point and they're calling for quotas as a last resort. It's an absolute disgrace that there will only be 18 per cent content in the latest project.

[Page 7789]

Mr. Speaker, if this project, and I'm talking about Deep Panuke and PanCanadian, is allowed to go ahead without further discussion with the company, at least we should be talking about two issues here when it involves this particular project. One is taking the gas ashore in Cape Breton and making it available for processing in the same way as you would with any other gas that you want to separate. The raw gas comes ashore, you separate the ethane and then you decide if there's anybody interested in working this project in Cape Breton with the possibility of setting up an industry in some part of Nova Scotia. In this particular case, it would be most beneficial for this project to be coming ashore in Nova Scotia and providing jobs in the long term for Nova Scotians.

Now, again, this bill is not to condemn the oil industry. It will do whatever it's allowed to do. (Interruption) Yes, they have shareholders. They have people who want to maximize their profits, so they're going to do whatever they want to do, but this government has the regulatory powers to set regulations and to sit down and tell these oil companies that they're not going to develop the industry here unless the profits are maximized for Nova Scotians' labour and business interests in this province. But, Mr. Speaker, it is incredible that this government once again is not listening. It is absolutely incredible that this government can be walked on at every turn of the road when it comes to the petrochemical industry, and I hope that as a result of this bill coming today, this government will have the intestinal fortitude to let this bill go forward to the Law Amendments Committee, come back to this House and eventually be written into law. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Economic Development.

HON. GORDON BALSER: Mr. Speaker, this is an important day. It's a good opportunity to talk about this particular issue. Once again, it is a very simple solution to a very complex issue, and one has to accept that, given the source from which the bill came. As a result of the fact that they're trying to apply a very simple solution to a complex issue - the legislation is flawed from the outset.

I really want this opportunity to talk about this issue and to clarify some of the concerns that have been raised by Opposition members and the media. Everyone should fully understand and appreciate what it is exactly we're talking about when we talk about offshore processing because there is a fair bit of misinformation. What this bill talks about is the removal of parts of the raw gas that is produced offshore. Most members probably think that that type of work actually is occurring onshore and that this bill would simply maintain that practice, but it's just not that simple. Let's take, for example, the existing project, the Sable project, a project which clearly has been of significant benefit to this province, to people who are looking for opportunities in the oil and gas industry.

Mr. Speaker, for the record and for Nova Scotians so they can clearly understand. First the raw gas comes out of the well. At the very first stage, water is removed. The water is separated from the gas stream so that there are not freeze-ups in the gas when it's transferred

[Page 7790]

to shore. The gas stream does not come out of the well, go directly into a pipeline and head to shore. Under the present system, the processing begins offshore at the wellhead. The gas moves to the Thebaud platform where it is processed. At Thebaud as I have said, the water is removed and the gas is dried out because in the very initial stages - one will remember that there was a time when the pipeline was frozen up and it caused a great deal of difficulty for the Sable project partners. That problem exists when gas is transported with water in it. This process is called dehydration - the removal of the water offshore prevents corrosion in the pipeline. We can't have that because it would be a significant problem if there was corrosion occurring in the pipeline underwater from the gas platform to the shore. At this point, we're talking about raw natural gas going through a de-watering process. To tell the truth, that's just the very beginning of the offshore processing.

Another part of that processing is to remove the impurities that are found in the gas. The raw gas, when it comes out of the well to the wellhead has sand in it, has wax residue, has a number of impurities and they have to be removed before that gas is put into the pipeline and transported to shore. Again, that processing is occurring offshore.

Now we get to what I consider to be a fairly interesting part of the process. During the separation process, the gas liquids also drop out. The gas liquids come out at this stage too. This again is offshore processing. They're removed from the raw gas and then the liquids are reinserted in that gas to be transported to shore where they are removed once again. In order to have the Sable project work and work effectively, there has to be offshore processing. Because of the quantity of gas and the design of the Sable project, this process is what is required.

When you introduce a very simple piece of legislation that doesn't recognize the fact that any new gas discovery will have vastly different characteristics than the Sable project, than the PanCanadian project. In fact, if you look at those two gas fields, they're very different and the process by which that gas is ready for transport to shore has to reflect those differences. All members in this House should understand that. It's not simply a matter of introducing one piece of legislation, a very simplistic piece of legislation, that will fix all of the problems that could be associated with any gas discoveries that may be found offshore Nova Scotia - whether it's in the Laurentian Sub-basin or in the current blocks that are under lease, the $1.5 billion worth of work commitments that are currently under lease.

In case the honourable members do not follow this explanation, Sable processes raw gas offshore. It cleans up the gas onshore. It removes impurities offshore. So they are perfectly clear, offshore processing occurs today, right now, as we speak in the Sable Project. It's because the volume of gas at the Sable stream is so high that the company uses offshore processing to clean up the gas and to ship it to shore.

[Page 7791]

Mr. Speaker, offshore processing is an integral part of the Sable Project, it will be a part of the PanCanadian Project, and I hope that Marathon are successful and it becomes part of their project, and I hope Kerr-McGee is successful and it becomes part of their project, and I hope any one of a number of other companies that are involved in exploration offshore have the kinds of successes that will create the long-term economic viability that everyone speaks so eloquently about.

Mr. Speaker, what we have today in offshore Nova Scotia is 6 trillion cubic feet of known natural gas reserve. If we can move six to 60 or 600, that's when we have an industry that will truly shape the future, not just of Nova Scotia but all of Atlantic Canada. At this point, we should be focusing on encouraging exploration and development. In the absence of new discoveries, we have the Sable project, we have the Deep Panuke project, and that is it.

Mr. Speaker, the members opposite rail on about lost opportunities. The reality is the decision yesterday creates an opportunity for exploration to occur. With the current situation, there was no exploration, there were no work commitments in the disputed area. We've cleaned that up and we will move forward. I hope that the Kerr-McGee block is tremendously successful. I hope that Kerr-McGee on their block finds a project as large as Sable, twice as large as Sable. That would be in the best interests of all concerned.

Mr. Speaker, now let's talk a bit about the PanCanadian project. PanCanadian's Deep Panuke has sulfur in the gas. To put that gas in the existing pipeline is not possible. To build a pipeline that can accommodate gas that has a high sulfur content makes very little economic sense because that pipeline could only be used for gas that has that characteristic. It means that the PanCanadian pipeline would have to be built for that purpose. That's a tremendous investment of dollars, and it's been referenced here, shareholders' dollars, absolutely true, and they expect a return on their investment.

What they're suggesting makes business sense in the case of Deep Panuke, to build a pipeline that can accommodate additional gas discoveries because they are truly optimistic about the geology and about the opportunity in offshore Nova Scotia. They're making plans for the long term and the future. By re-injecting the sulfur back into the ground, by removing it first from the gas and getting the gas ready to go into their pipeline, they are going to be making a project, that has marginal economics at this juncture, economically viable. The big advantage that moving forward with the PanCanadian project will be that that infrastructure will allow for the critical mass to make future discoveries that are of less size than the approximate trillion cubic feet of gas that PanCanadian are talking about, economically viable.

Mr. Speaker, some of the proponents are talking about building pipelines, whether it's elpaso or Williams, are talking about putting in a gathering system so that small discoveries then become economically viable. If the Sable project had not moved forward, if the

[Page 7792]

infrastructure were not in place for PanCanadian to put their gas into a pipeline, to ship it into the U.S. market, there would be no project. It's about planning for the future. What we see here is something that makes sense. PanCanadian is talking about processing offshore to remove the sulfur. It allows them to re-inject the sulfur into the existing field. This makes sense environmentally. The environmentalists have spoken out very positively about the PanCanadian plan from an environmental perspective.

From a purely economic development perspective, the PanCanadian Board of Directors have to make decisions based on a return and risk associated with the investment. It's clear that the one trillion cubic feet, with the cost associated with doing this type of processing, makes the project marginal. They've committed to move it forward. Everyone's talking as if the PanCanadian project is a slam-dunk in this case. We're certainly confident they will move forward. They've given every indication that they want to move forward, but it's going to be a function of working with PanCanadian to make sure that it can happen.

[5:30 p.m.]

Larry LeBlanc has spoken on a number of occasions about the business sense it makes to have Nova Scotians employed in the project development. In fact, the Alma contract was a disappointment for Nova Scotians, but on the other hand, we had a number of companies in Nova Scotia who were successful in bidding for work on that project. We now have Shaw & Shaw moving forward. They will do the pipe coating for the new pipe for this project. There are opportunities on the horizon but, again, you can't simply bring in a simple solution to a very complex, difficult problem.

We also find, on many, many occasions the Opposition would like to say, why isn't Nova Scotia like the North Sea? Why isn't Nova Scotia like the Gulf of Mexico? Why isn't Nova Scotia like Norway? You have to remember that when Norway initially began their offshore development they had tremendous success in the very early stages. That is what gave them the leverage they needed to negotiate with these oil and gas companies. When you have 6 trillion cubic feet of gas, you are negotiating to some degree from a state of disadvantage. If we had 60 trillion cubic feet, the arguments would be vastly different. What we are doing is attempting to set the stage where this industry can grow incrementally and create the kind of direct economic benefit that people expect to accrue from the offshore.

Back again to the PanCanadian proposal. They talked about the loss of jobs. PanCanadian have put forward an argument that would indicate that there are going to be a number of jobs associated with offshore processing which would not occur in an onshore processing facility. The facility that would be required to deal with the gas would be largely unmanned. It doesn't take a great deal of man hours to operate this facility. What will occur with offshore processing is that you'll have supply ships. You'll have helicopter crews. You will have the service industries that support offshore processing. It is clear that these people,

[Page 7793]

in introducing this bill, do not understand the complexities of the problems ahead for the oil and gas industry particularly related to this project.

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

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, as I begin my remarks this afternoon, I find myself in agreement and disagreement with both of the previous speakers. Let me say, depending upon which particular comments they were talking about, I want to say at the very beginning and I say this to the minister that, indeed, there isn't a very simple solution that is going to address all of the complex issues. I understand that. I know that. I am also aware that there are and that there is some processing going on offshore at the present time. Call it dehydrating or call it de-watering, for example, it is something that is done and has to be done unless we want to be filling the gas lines with antifreeze so it won't be freezing as it is coming onshore.

Mr. Speaker, what concerns me as much as anything else is the tone of the minister's comments. The minister is saying, for example, that PanCanadian puts forward the argument or that industry says this or that industry says that, therefore we have to do it. Quite some time ago in this House I raised questions about offshore processing with this minister and with the Premier, and raised the question about whether or not the government has done any cost-benefit analysis from a Province of Nova Scotia perspective for that offshore processing. The industry has their board of directors. They have their shareholders who they are serving. Their objective, quite correctly, is to maximize the amount of profits that they can make, bring a project on line as economically as possible for themselves so that the shareholders can get a good return on their investment.

Mr. Speaker, that minister, the Premier and the front benches are the board of directors for Nova Scotia's government. All Nova Scotians are the shareholders, and the minister and the government are to serve your shareholders. That's the people of the Province of Nova Scotia and it's your job, not just to automatically accept what you're being told by Larry LeBlanc, who is a very fine fellow, he is a nice gentleman, he's involved in all kinds of activities around the community, but his employer at PanCanadian is his shareholders; that's who he is serving.

I haven't seen, I haven't heard that the government has done an independent cost-benefit analysis. We can take a look at all kinds of different things. For example, you know the suggestion that we can't transport the sour gas to shore. Well, you can. It's done elsewhere. It's more expensive. You have to put additional coatings on the pipe. You have to use a thicker gauge steel in that pipe. So it's more expensive, but the processing can be done onshore, but it might cut into their bottom line a little bit.

[Page 7794]

Let's also remember, Mr. Speaker, that they got Deep Panuke for nothing. The former government could have had 100 per cent of the Panuke field for free, but they passed up that opportunity, so that's where PanCanadian got their first 50 per cent. The Tories when they took office weren't prepared to go along and drill a couple of wells, so they got the other half for nothing basically and the royalty rates are 1 per cent. So they haven't paid a great deal for the actual resource in the scheme of things.

When we're talking about an offshore platform that is going to be processing of the size that they are talking about, we know, Mr. Speaker, that that can't be built in Nova Scotia, of that size, but smaller ones could, and do you know in military contracts and all kinds of other contracts there are what they often refer to as offset benefits.

I was very critical of the former government when we saw the level and degree of benefits that we got from Sable. The Premier, when he was on this side of the House, he also was very critical of the level of benefits, and I still am critical of that level of benefits, but for PanCanadian to come forward and say that in this development stage that it should be around 18 per cent, we got spanked on the Laurentian Sub-basin, we lost. Paint it any way you want, Mr. Minister, we lost. Are we also going to give up on our benefits, on our jobs? The jobs in Nova Scotia, the economic benefits are worth more in the way of revenue than we're going to get in royalties and if you take a look at other lines, like elpaso, what are they proposing? - to kiss the province and head straight to the States. They're not talking about onshore processing in their plans.

What they're talking about, Mr. Speaker, is a plant that would be a pressure plant to increase the pressure to ship it, again, down to the States. They're obviously contemplating that the natural gas - we don't even know if it's sour or fresh, or sweet - they're obviously contemplating processing it offshore. Where are the benefits for Nova Scotia? Even municipalities, you know if the processing facility is offshore, it's not going to be paying property taxes as it would be paying taxes if it's an onshore facility. The elpaso proposal is about five to five and a half jobs, permanent jobs in Nova Scotia.

The minister talks about how we have to encourage exploration and development. Certainly we want to encourage exploration and development. We want to encourage exploration and development if that's going to mean there will be benefits to Nova Scotia. Our gas is being burned in the United States, in New Brunswick. They're building power plants in the United States to burn our natural gas. Industries in the United States are using our resource which is giving them a cost-benefit advantage to compete against Nova Scotia businesses. Is PanCanadian offering Nova Scotia in return, if they're permitted to process it offshore, are they promising to sell natural gas into the Nova Scotia market for distribution at a percentage lower than they would sell it at the Boston price?

[Page 7795]

Let's say we want to get some offset benefits. Let's say we want to do some trading, that PanCanadian wants to process offshore. Give us a 10 per cent reduction in the price of natural gas if it's sold in Nova Scotia. That might be a tremendous bonus to encourage the development of a distribution system in this province. That would be a tremendous bonus or advantage to attract industries, not only to stay, but to come and locate in Nova Scotia, creating jobs which creates revenue, and then the Minister of Health would actually have the dollars that are needed to ensure that the health care system in the Valley and other parts of this province gets what it needs.

AN HON. MEMBER: Does this mean you support our bill?

MR. HOLM: I was asked if this means I'm going to support the bill. I'm very prepared to say that I'm willing to vote for this bill to go on to the Law Amendments Committee. I am not prepared to say that it doesn't need amendments because I am not going to prejudge or preclude any amendments because I am sure that even the mover of the bill would admit that there can be some ideas coming forward from others that would make the legislation better. But I certainly support the principle, so therefore I will support the bill going forward and in second reading debate, it's on the principle of the bill.

I firmly believe that Nova Scotians are supposed to be the primary benefactors from the offshore. That's even what the accord says. But when one takes a look at it, the jobs are going elsewhere - 80 per cent Newfoundland content. The minister downplays the Laurentian Sub-basin, but you know, when they find something on that land, then Newfoundland just gained from Nova Scotia in that area. A land mass at sea which is equal in size to the total land mass of Newfoundland and Labrador put together, an area that size. When they do discover it, you can be darn sure they will be demanding a high Newfoundland content in both the exploration and development phases for that. Why shouldn't Nova Scotia?

We've got a resource and it's there; it may not all have been found yet, but it's there. We have location, we are close to the major markets. We have a very capable workforce in this province. We have very capable and competent industries and businesses in this province. They can compete. They should be given the advantage in competing too. I don't hesitate in saying that. We already know that PanCanadian is putting out calls for expressions of interest. It says that they believe their development agreement or proposal has already been approved. There are expressions of interest out almost every day looking for this or looking for that, asking for companies to bid on being put on the supplier list.

[5:45 p.m.]

The minister, the Premier should say to them, clearly, 18 per cent ain't good enough. Even though this is going to be reviewed and studied by the Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Board, I am telling you now that unless that level increases and increases dramatically, we, at the end of the day, will not approve the project. Nova Scotia businesses and Nova Scotia

[Page 7796]

workers deserve and will get a higher percentage than 18 per cent or that project will not proceed.

Then, Mr. Speaker, with that kind of motivation, then maybe some creative minds within PanCanadian can determine ways to procure more goods and services from Nova Scotia, to encourage other businesses with whom they do business to partner with Nova Scotia businesses so that together they can increase the Nova Scotia content. Surely, each and every one of us in here was elected to represent Nova Scotia's interest, not the interest exclusively of the shareholders of big oil, who will be making huge profits from our resources. Thank you.

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

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in support of Bill No. 102, which essentially would require the Province of Nova Scotia to ensure that our raw gas is being processed here in Nova Scotia. I believe that the honourable member who is the sponsor of this particular piece of legislation has seen from his experience the need to try to protect Nova Scotia jobs, to enhance economic activity here in Nova Scotia and certainly, in large measure, to envisage for the future of Nova Scotia how the gas and oil industry will play a vital role in our economic and social development. So with that, I think it is only befitting that all members of this House should provide considerable support for this rather worthy initiative.

I was a little disappointed to hear the Minister of Economic Development give a dissertation on how to take gas out of the ground, put it in a pipe and transport it on ground and then give all the reasons why that couldn't be done. I have never seen such a defeatist attitude from a Minister of the Crown in this House since coming here in 1988 as I have seen with the Minister of Economic Development. Essentially, I was expecting the honourable minister to ask all members of the House to sit down and write a little test, a little quiz at the end of his class on how you separate water from gas and how you pump gas from the ground up into the pipe. Really, on such a very serious issue, I was quite disappointed with such a frivolous presentation on such a serious issue.

Mr. Speaker, when members of the Conservative caucus were on this side of the House, almost on a daily basis they were pounding the Liberal Government of the day that we should have more people from Nova Scotia working in the offshore. We need more Nova Scotia content, more Nova Scotia jobs. Where is the economic activity? We weren't reaching that magic quota of 39 per cent or 50 per cent or whatever number was the flavour of the day on the Opposition's agenda. But yet, if we will compare, there are fewer Nova Scotians as a percentage of the total industry working in the offshore today than there were when the Liberals were in power. So that should tell you something about who was doing things for Nova Scotia and who wasn't.

[Page 7797]

I couldn't help, as I listened to the Minister of Economic Development, refer back to the words of Benjamin Disraeli, who was a British Tory Prime Minister back in the mid-1800's and he referred to one of his opponents as "You behold a range of exhausted volcanoes." Well, if that doesn't sum up the speech from the Minister of Economic Development, nothing does, and that's just about what we heard, a range of exhausted volcanos. It wasn't gas he was trying to pump for the people of Nova Scotia, it was complete political rhetoric as to why he was a failure in trying to advance the cause of the offshore development for the people of Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I was equally surprised when I saw the headlines in the paper almost a year ago where New Brunswick citizens are getting Nova Scotia's natural gas before Nova Scotians. I was even more disturbed when the Americans announced they were now enjoying the benefits of natural gas from Nova Scotia and Nova Scotians were not.

I believe the honourable member for Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury will certainly recall a conference that we attended last summer and the announcement was made that the regulatory regime in the State of New Hampshire had just approved two new gas-fired power projects for that state using Nova Scotia's natural gas. Well, I dare say, Mr. Speaker, how is it that we can sustain energy needs for the people in New Hampshire and we can't do it for the people in Nova Scotia? Is that what the Minister of Economic Development was apologizing for here today, instead of supporting this particular piece of legislation? Where is this so-called champion of Nova Scotia's interest; where is the Premier, calling for all these Nova Scotia jobs like he did when he was Leader of the Third Party?

Mr. Speaker, I think really what we see here is a complete change of face. It's like the Phantom of the Opera, the two masks; what you see and what you don't see. That's essentially what we're watching here with the government.

Just recently, Mr. Speaker, several weeks ago, the government announced that they were looking at the possibility of dumping the sludge from the offshore drilling process out to sea. What's out there? Our precious fish resource; yes, our fishing grounds that we need. Why didn't he speak to his colleague, the Minister of Natural Resources, and say, will that affect you folks; what's your input into this? But no, very quietly, on a Friday afternoon, these types of announcements come out. They're so embarrassed by the situation that they aren't going to create all the jobs in Nova Scotia that they said they were going to create, so they don't even want to bring the sludge onshore because it will be a very sharp reminder to the people of Nova Scotia that they've been had, once again, by this government. It's bad enough that this particular department has been all but gutted; that's disappointing.

I look across and I listen to the Minister of Economic Development and it reminds one of how they would assess their political life in here. I guess you could do the analogy where one would say that youth is blunder, manhood is a struggle and old age is a regret. Well, this government is going to regret lost opportunity for the people of Nova Scotia. Where are all

[Page 7798]

the jobs? Why isn't the member for Cape Breton North fighting for the development of some of these platforms and different opportunities for the offshore? Not a word. We've just been had with this boundary dispute with Newfoundland and Labrador, and the government says, well, it really wasn't about winning or losing, we got a fair deal.

How could they assess getting less if you go out and hire a surveyor - a good surveyor like myself, of course - and find out that you're ending up with less area today than you did before the announcement was made, how could that be more? How can that be better? Or how can that be equal? The math doesn't add up. The national headlines the day before the official announcement was made indicated that Nova Scotia was the loser. Nova Scotia was the loser. What about all the different opportunities in terms of protecting the value added? Why is the government taking a laissez-faire position?

Let's go back and look at Nova Scotia Resources Limited. When that was created, it was created with good intent, and it would have worked well if it wasn't for the political meddling by the Buchanan Government that brought it to the brink of total bankruptcy - even the Auditor General has all but confirmed that, because of the mismanagement.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. There's too much noise in the Chamber. I would ask the members to take their conversations outside, please. The honourable member for Cape Breton West has the floor.

MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, perhaps I'm not speaking loud enough; I could certainly speak a little louder to compete. This is the way the Tories operate. It's for the privileged and it's for the people, for the common people, that type of elitism that permeated all through the 1970's and the 1980's under the John Buchanan Government. The bad habits are setting in rather early with this particular administration. It would be well-advised for the government to start supporting economic opportunities by supporting Bill No. 102.

Mr. Speaker, with that I will conclude my remarks and ask for the approbation of the House to move it on to second reading.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations. You have about one and a half minutes.

HON. ANGUS MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have an opportunity to make some comments on this particular piece of legislation, and I find it extremely interesting that that crew over there would bring forward legislation suggesting that they know how to prepare for the offshore. I can tell you first-hand that in the department over which I have a responsibility there was no preparation for the development. They didn't have anything in place with respect to taxation on pipelines; they had nothing in place with respect to the taxation of the SOEP project (Interruptions) You had nothing in place. You left a mess behind. You didn't prepare for what was going to happen. (Interruptions)

[Page 7799]

Mr. Speaker, for that crew to suggest to Nova Scotians that they know how to prepare this province for the offshore is as close to hypocrisy as we can come. (Interruptions) They talk about the gas being marketed outside of Nova Scotia. One of the reasons that the gas is going outside of Nova Scotia is because they put in place a ridiculous . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The time allotted for debate on Bill No. 102 has expired.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I move that the House do now rise to meet on the morrow at the hour of 2:00 p.m. The routine for tomorrow will be the Budget Address, commencement of the response from the Opposition Finance Critic, then we will move into the daily routine, then into Question Period, and then the government business will be Public Bills for Second Reading. We'll be doing the bills in rotation, and we'll try to stay with that as far as possible. We'll be, first of all, debating Bill No. 101, then Bill No. 104, and Bill No. 105 - that is the Fire Safety Act, the Maritime Provinces Higher Education Commission Act, and the Elevators and Lifts Act. We'll sit from 2:00 p.m. until 6:00 p.m.

Mr. Speaker, on Friday we'll sit from 10:00 a.m. until 1:00 p.m. or until the debate on the response to the Budget Speech is completed and then we will terminate. I would imagine probably about two hours, I would think, would be around about what we will actually be sitting on Friday. With those few comments, I move that we do now rise.

[6:00 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for the House to adjourn until 2:00 p.m. tomorrow.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

We have now reached the moment of interruption. The subject for this evening's late debate was submitted by the honourable member for Cape Breton North.

"Therefore be it resolved that the Liberals and NDP stop the rhetoric on economic development and join the government in its progressive and positive approaches that are moving Nova Scotia's economy forward."

[Page 7800]

ADJOURNMENT

MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5)

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

ECON. DEV. - GOV'T. (N.S.) APPROACH: LIBERALS/NDP - JOIN

MR. CECIL CLARKE: Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to rise in this House and after two days of listening to rhetoric from the Opposition ranks, to comment on it because they're proving their true colours in this House already. They are proving why Nova Scotians are overwhelmingly going to endorse this government to continue when the next election is called in the Province of Nova Scotia. I put forward,

"Therefore be it resolved that the Liberals and NDP stop the rhetoric on economic development and join the government in its progressive and positive approaches that are moving Nova Scotia's economy forward."

Mr. Speaker, Nova Scotia is moving forward, especially Cape Breton. Cape Breton is moving forward not because of the NDP or Liberals, but in spite of them, because this government is doing what they didn't have the fortitude to do and making the necessary decisions to move our economy forward. So we will be taking invigorating (Interruptions) I don't hear the Opposition complimenting this government, as industry and business have in Cape Breton, on provincial energy ventures to invigorate an economy and start job creation on the Sysco piers. Sysco is coming through with a new plan and a site plan that is going to see opportunities for future development. I don't hear that from the Opposition, but you would never hear anything about the real development going on in Cape Breton. But I hear about it every day. I meet with people who are prepared to move our economy forward every opportunity I have. We're doing it with community as our focus and our priority, as in the work that we're doing in partnership with other levels of government, community and business that's seeing the revitalization of downtown Glace Bay, downtown Sydney, downtown Sydney Mines, downtown North Sydney, and anywhere else the people are prepared to move our economy forward.

You don't hear that from the Opposition because - you know what? They're not at the table; they're not going to be at the table, but this government is and this government is prepared to see the economy be progressive and fully encompassing of a better Cape Breton - because it has a government member who will stand up to any rhetoric on any occasion and ensure the voice of real opportunity is achieved in Cape Breton, Mr. Speaker. We have seen the investments and the full diversification and growing of our economy through EDS, Stream, Ron Webber and Associates, ICT Group, and the Upsource call centres.

[Page 7801]

You know, Mr. Speaker, I have to compliment all those companies for their good judgment in investing in good people. They invest in the good people of Cape Breton. They didn't invest in some other government's claim to fame on doing something proper. They invested because the people of Cape Breton are worth the investment, and the people of Cape Breton, I believe, are going to be investing in more Progressive Conservative members to get rid of their rhetoric in the next election. We are diversifying the economic base so that youth and other people who previously had no opportunities are achieving opportunities, and that's something that's happening.

There are more jobs, Mr. Speaker, in Cape Breton today with Cecil Clarke as the MLA for Cape Breton North than with any of them when they were in office. There are more jobs, investment and opportunity because this Progressive Conservative Government is working through the Department of Economic Development, partnering with the Cape Breton Growth Fund through the minister, ensuring that a member of our provincial department is working with the growth fund and seeing new opportunities. We're investing in that. We're investing in community groups to take hold of their destiny and opportunity, a destiny that does not include the Liberals or NDP. It includes the real people. This Party is the Party of the people of Cape Breton because we've done what's necessary to move the economy forward, and people will do what's necessary in the next election to see to it that the Third Party Liberals stay as the Third Party Liberals. I feel sorry for the new leader coming in because he's going to try to head a ship, but he forgot that it is now rudderless and the engines are worn down because of the bad decisions and ill-conceived programs and processes that they've imposed on this province.

But we also know - and I compliment the companies such as Stora Enso, Forest Insight Limited, ELKS Fabricators, Polysteel Atlantic and East Coast Rope, and Tesma. Those are the people who drive the economy and we, as a government, have been part of that. We as a government have put in place infrastructure, an environment that is moving Cape Breton and Nova Scotia forward. We are doing what's necessary on the offshore so that Cape Breton is very much a partner in that. I heard the Opposition Liberals and NDP talk about 13 million negative reasons why the boundary dispute. Well, I have 1.5 billion good reasons why we are going to move the economy forward because that's the real opportuntiy, that's the on-book value of opportunities for Cape Breton if we choose to be part of it and that what we're choosing is not be part of the rhetoric of those two Opposition Parties. We're working with industry and those who are prepared to position themselves; that includes Laurentian Energy Corp, that includes the people who are willing to work to include such things as provincial energy to give us the base necessary. We're using existing infrastructure to make sure we position our Island to move forward. That's happening throughout Nova Scotia and it's happening because this government cares enough to do what's necessary.

We had to take a difficult decision and a necessary one to move beyond Sysco, as did the feds with Devco. But Cape Breton has never been so well positioned for a bright, prosperous future as they have with the decisions of this government. I am convinced that

[Page 7802]

the people of Cape Breton believe in that because the people of Cape Breton are doing; they're going beyond the rhetoric and they're doing things day in and day out to reconfigure their communities, their economy and their well-being as individuals contributing to a stronger Cape Breton and Nova Scotia. Not tearing it down, not being negative naysayers as the Liberals and the NDP are. No wonder there's a negative stereotype, because those two Parties perpetuate it constantly.

You know what? I am glad to be a member from urban Cape Breton who will stand up with my colleagues from Inverness and Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury to say there is a different way of doing government and there's a better way than what they could ever achieve and that the NDP will never have the opportunity to do in the Province of Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, we want to look at the Laurentian Sub-basin and the opportunities that provides. Yes, there's many opportunities and, yes, there's lots of discussion and dialogue going on, but it's from businesses they never hear about because they're not talking to them because they know it's a no-go, no-show effort. They didn't do it before, we're doing it now. We're putting in a regime that's going to see new opportunities capitalized that those Parties only dream of. This government is a progressive government. This government can do and is doing things they have never been prepared for or are willing to admit that need to be done.

I will be voting, Mr. Speaker, for a balanced budget. A budget that's going to strategically position Nova Scotia's economy as the only one in Atlantic Canada that will be the most attractive economy for investment and trade opportunities. It's necessary for us to do it and we're doing something that the Liberals never had the guts to admit they could do. They talk the talk, but obviously they've walked the walk and they've walked their way over to the Third Party status and that is where they belong.

We want to look at other opportunities where innovative approaches are being taken, in the IT sector in Cape Breton. In culmination with call centre opportunities, other opportunities in the IT, and new media opportunities that have been realized by people that choose to make and call Cape Breton home, a place they have been able to contribute in a cost effective, innovative and a competitive environment that has made sure that this government can work with them to further enhance and move us forward.

In the Strait area, people in urban Cape Breton are looking at the success of that area. It didn't happen overnight. It happened with a lot of work and a lot of commitment from the community and the leadership in and around there. That's the same thing that's happening in and around urban Cape Breton. It's something that I am proud to be part of. I am proud to work with my colleagues in caucus and with the Cabinet members who are providing the necessary leadership so we can move forward.

[Page 7803]

I would also be remiss if I didn't talk about how we're investing and making sure the promotion of our tourism product is becoming so that Cape Breton is a world-class attraction with the facilities necessary. We're seeing the five class accommodations being there, the golfing selections that are available at an upscale, high-end market which means better opportunities, higher paid jobs and better returns for those who make a strategic investment in our area.

Unlike the NDP and the Liberals, this is a go-forward, not a go-back government. We are moving forward with those who choose to be part of it. So they can get up and say whatever they want for the next 20 minutes, it's not going to deter me in my effort and work to ensure that while their rhetoric continues, what our government will do is deliver the results, and that I will take to the polls any time with either of those Parties because our government is the progressive government necessary for the future.

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

The honourable member for Cape Breton South.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, most people on the government bench just gave that member a standing ovation, they must figure that he's going to the Cabinet, they're already trying to curry favour with him. Why else would they be here to listen to that drivel, that comic relief that we just heard for the last 10 minutes. Now we'll get into some reality of what's really happening in Cape Breton. One of the realities, and I will table this, this is today's Cape Breton Post from the editorial writer. It says volumes about what this government is doing in Cape Breton and I will just read the opening paragraph. "When a politician says it's not about winning and losing, you know he's trying to cover a loss." That is the development he is talking about in Cape Breton, ". . . it would have been more dignified of the petroleum minister to admit off the top that Nova Scotia had lost the Laurentian boundary decision." I will table that. I will also table the headline in today's Cape Breton Post. "Newfoundland gets bulk of sub-basin." That is another one of the developments that the member for Cape Breton North is blowing about.

Now, I think we should apologize to the member, both Opposition Parties, because I guess we didn't lose the Laurentian Sub-basin. We didn't lose it. We got 16 per cent out of 91 per cent, but we didn't lose it. Newfoundland now will control where the supply bases are going to be in the development and if you think the Newfoundland Government or big oil is going to allow Cape Bretoners to make any money off the Laurentian Sub-basin, that member is dreaming in Technicolor.

Mr. Speaker, the member is wasting the time of the House, but he is doing it to try to build up his own image back home, but it is not working because the truth is that every single positive thing that he talked about here today was brought in by the previous government, or what wasn't brought in by the previous government was brought in by the federal

[Page 7804]

government and the Cape Breton Growth Fund. This government is spending nothing in Cape Breton, absolutely nothing.

Mr. Speaker, that member talks about the payroll rebate system. The payroll rebate system is in place in Nova Scotia, yes. It is in place for Convergys, which was supposed to go to Cape Breton but conveniently got side-tracked into Pictou County with a payroll rebate, but what happened to Stream? The member for Cape Breton North mentioned Stream. The only provincial money that went into Stream was a $1 million loan guarantee to Marty Chernin, the biggest Tory on Cape Breton Island, to renovate his building when he already had a 10 year guarantee for rent. What happens is there is no payroll rebate so Stream employees get paid less than the Convergys employees in Pictou County. The Economic Development office in Sydney is now down to two people. All they are doing is handing out applications. That is more of the progress of the Tory Government.

As a matter of fact, I want to table an e-mail that one of our staff received from Nova Scotia Business Inc. and the e-mail states, Mr. Speaker, "With respect to placing a BRE person in Industrial Cape Breton, this is something we have been reviewing. We are gathering information from stakeholders on the need for such a position. We want to be careful about duplicating capabilities and activities that already exist. There are a number of organizations that are already working effectively in the area." In other words, they are not going to do anything and I will table that e-mail.

Now, Mr. Speaker, the member for Cape Breton North waxes eloquently about what they are doing down there. He sat by and let the Minister of Economic Development and the Cabinet appoint 12 people to run Nova Scotia Development Inc. Only one of them, a Tory hack, is from Cape Breton Island. Only one of the 12 is from Cape Breton Island, the same island he talks about developing and an island that the Tories profess to care about. Well, if 12 people in Nova Scotia are going to be doling out $30 million in government largesse and 11 of them live up here in Tory ridings, then where is the money going to go? It is not going to find its way into industrial Cape Breton and the member for Cape Breton North knows that.

Where has the government been in trying to save the railway? Again, the member for Cape Breton North says we are going to meet with them. Sixteen businesses want to know what he is doing. What about the tax credit for the film industry? Anne MacKenzie from the Nova Scotia Film Development organization states this is the best year ever for the film industry in Nova Scotia. Yeah, west of the Canso Causeway. There isn't one single thing going on in the film and television industry in Cape Breton as we speak because this government rolled back the tax credit that we had put in place to enable productions to come to Cape Breton. A sound stage that is empty. It has been empty since this crowd took over. That's more of the development that the member for Cape Breton North talks about, an empty sound stage in Point Edward, soon to be followed by an empty supply base for the Laurentian Sub-basin.

[Page 7805]

[6:15 p.m.]

The part-time minister of development, he makes no apologies. He shows what he thinks about Cape Breton. But the member for Cape Breton North, the Cabinet wannabe who keeps talking about his government influence - I keep saying to the backbenchers over there, you're not members of the government, the front benches make the decisions, despite how many times they parade him out. Now when it comes to tripartite decisions or discussions, where's the member from the Tory Party? He disappears, he's not there. He didn't even come to the last summit that was organized by the federal government. The NDP were there, the Liberals were there. Where was the Tory member? Absent, because he would have had to answer some difficult questions about his role in economic development.

Mr. Speaker, the sum total is $2 million a year that this government is saying they're putting into the pot and we still can't identify where that's at in the budget, but anyway, that's the sum total of their involvement. The rest on the growth fund is being done by the federal government, and they are trying to trot themselves out to take credit for it. The Economic Development Minister is not shy about hiding his disdain for Cape Breton, and you have to give him credit for that. He doesn't like Cape Breton; he doesn't like Cape Bretoners; he doesn't want to do anything down there. That's fine. He doesn't hide that fact. Cape Bretoners will remember him and the Premier forever down there, not in a very rewarding way, but they'll remember him.

I can accept that but what's more galling is the Premier talking about all that he did in Cape Breton since he came to office. I can't point to anything that he's done. And the member for Cape Breton North, all he does is lecture his constituents on what's good for them. I'm going to tell you, in the next election his constituents will tell him what's good for him. He says that he's going to vote for everything his government does, and the Cape Bretoners are going to fall in line. Well, I've got news for him. He hasn't been looking at the same polls that we've been looking at, as far as the Tories are concerned, in their popularity in Cape Breton Island right now. He should start doing some politicking on the Northside to get himself re-elected, and never mind worrying about the Tory strategy for the whole province.

Mr. Speaker, I have to tell you that in the last two days this place has been nothing but laughable when you hear members getting up here and talking about a wonderful win we made on the Laurentian Sub-basin when we went in looking for 50 per cent and came out with 16 per cent. That's a great win. We hear the member for Cape Breton North talking about everything that's happened down there, when the sum total of this government's involvement was to give some money to their friends, which meant there was a double standard, one for the call centre in New Glasgow, which by the way was supposed to go to Cape Breton. Convergys' second plant was supposed to go to Cape Breton. Where did it go? It went to Pictou County. But the same rules didn't apply.

[Page 7806]

The member for Cape Breton North talks about rules. Different rules are in place for the mainland than they are for Cape Breton, both in terms of the tax credit system, both in terms of the payroll rebate, and in terms of the government's interest. Thirty million dollars is what's left in the Economic Development Department, down from $80 million in the last year of the Liberal Government, $80 million down to $30 million. Now that's given to friends of government who aren't even responsible to this Legislature. The member for Cape Breton North should tell his constituents that this crowd, this Nova Scotia Business Inc. can now go around the province cherry-picking where they're going to spend government money.

Mr. Speaker, I'll guarantee you that it's spent in Tory ridings leading up to the next election to try to re-elect some of these guys who have no hope of getting re-elected anyway, no matter how much money is being spent. If anybody thinks that they can sit over there and hide behind the mistakes of the front bench, I'll leave you with this. Since 1993 there are only 11 members left here who were elected in 1993. I suggest to you that after the next election there'll be a lot of different faces over there and over here. But I'm going to tell you something, it won't be Liberal faces that are changed, it'll be Tory faces.

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

MR. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, I always enjoy the chance to debate economic development. I don't know what fairyland this member lives in. Is there a fairy floating around Cape Breton with pixie dust that we're not seeing here, Mr. Speaker, because what he says makes absolutely no sense. He accuses both Opposition Parties of being the ones that are naysayers. Well, Mr. Speaker, and I will table this when I am finished, a survey done by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business - and they are no big supporters of the New Democratic Party, by and large - but some of their surveys of businesses in Cape Breton when asked the State of Community's Local Economy in the Cape Breton Region: Growing quickly, 0.0 per cent; Growing moderately, 5.7 per cent; Staying stable, 8.6 per cent; Declining moderately, 48.6 per cent; Declining quickly, 37.1 per cent.

They are not NDP numbers, Mr. Speaker. They're from the CFIB. That yahoo sits up in here and rambles on about what his government has done. He has done absolutely nothing, he and his fairy-tale Minister of Economic Development have not done diddly in Cape Breton. They keep piggybacking on other people and doing nothing. I was surprised that he was quoting businesses that were established in Cape Breton while he wasn't even living in Cape Breton, yet he takes responsibility for them. Boy, oh boy.

Here is another part of this one: Level of Satisfaction with the Local Government's Management and Handling of the Local Economy: 37.1 per cent, Somewhat satisfied; 37.1 per cent, Somewhat dissatisfied; 25.7 per cent, Very dissatisfied, for a total of 62.8 per cent that are dissatisfied. Is that the NDP and the Liberals saying that? No, those are business people who can't deal with this government, who know that they are dragging that industry down, what's left there. They took away one of the major employers, Sysco, and laughed

[Page 7807]

about it. They literally laughed about it. (Interruption) Now we have the cackles from over there. He doesn't have the wherewithal to stand up. But they did. They laughed at steelworkers, gave them nothing and walked away from them. Now he is talking about the idea that they are partnering with provincial energy ventures.

If they were really honest, what they would do is allow - they are hiding behind the old Sysco agreement, so they won't pay real taxes to the municipality. They are hiding behind a grant in lieu. Now the minister is rolling his head and I would watch those eyes in that head. I wouldn't let them roll back too far. But, Mr. Speaker, that is what they are doing. They are not allowing that to be assessed on real property levels. So it is not us in the Opposition. Certainly, we are out there and we are telling this government what they are doing wrong, they are just not listening. But it is not just the political Parties that are saying this. The member himself knows this. There are people in his own Party, high-powered people in Cape Breton, in his own Party, barely speak to him. We know that.

AN HON. MEMBER: Many are embarrassed by him.

MR. CORBETT: Yes, they have mentioned it to me and I am sure they have mentioned it to the member for Cape Breton South, I am sure. That is our fault? They know that they don't fall in line. They know that this idea of just shut up and agree with everything the government says is not right. You have to have someone who will go in and fight for that end of the province. But this guy here, the moon is a balloon if the Premier says so and that is it. That is the way it goes with this member.

So, Mr. Speaker, for him to barely stand in his place today and say that the problems with the Cape Breton economy is because the Opposition Parties are not applauding every silly little adventure that this Premier says he is going to do when he continually sells those people down the drain, well, he is wrong. Ask his friends in the Canadian Federation of Independent Business. Read their report and he will find out. I will be taking my seat in a moment and sharing my time with the member for Halifax Chebucto, but this member just doesn't get it. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.

MR. HOWARD EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, thank you very much. I was amazed when I saw the text of the adjournment resolution for today. I have to say that in previous times, we have seen some resolutions that have actually helped us focus our thoughts. We have seen resolutions that have offered some kind of insightful new topic that we might deal with, but this resolution is simply a call for all of the members of this House to jump up and down and cheer. I mean when I read this resolution and when I actually heard the address of the member for Cape Breton North, I was surprised that he wasn't wearing a t-shirt and rattling pompoms in his hands when he spoke. It was exactly what it was that the resolution and, unfortunately, the speech that he offered us to back it up sounded like.

[Page 7808]

This is not what the people of Cape Breton deserve. Cape Breton has had a very difficult time, as we all know, throughout the many years in which the Liberals and Tories have formed the government in this province. There has been unfortunately, year in, year out abuse and neglect of the economy of Cape Breton, and that situation has not changed with the latest change in government in 1999. Do you know what shows that very dramatically? It's the Census Canada, the census figures that Statistics Canada just came out with last month based on the surveys from last year. Look at it; just look at those numbers.

The depopulation of Cape Breton Island, that's exactly what we saw. At least 8,500 people in the last five years moved off Cape Breton Island, and they moved away not because they didn't like it there. Cape Breton Island is without a doubt, hands down, the most beautiful part of this province. It's gorgeous. If we had any sense, those of us who live in the city here would take the opportunity to move there if we had the opportunity. But do you know what? The opportunities aren't there to make a living. That's the difficulty and the successive governments, that government, the Liberal Government when it was in power, now the Tories in their turn are failing Cape Breton and the people of Cape Breton.

That has happened year in, year out, and it's no wonder that in just five years 8,500 people left Cape Breton Island. Obviously they left to seek economic opportunities somewhere else because they weren't being afforded economic opportunities for them right there where they wanted to be - at home. They wanted to stay. We all know, and I am sure I've heard members over there say that if they had the opportunity they would have stayed there. Well, what are the opportunities this government is offering to the people of Cape Breton Island?

Look at the slew of announcements that have been made. First, no announcement has been made of work, new employment that hasn't been heavily subsidized. It has had to have subsidies to even be at the starting gates to go there, and do you know what? I'm not opposed to it. If we have to do that in order to support some kind of work in Cape Breton, then if that's what's necessary, we'll do it. It's the right thing to do but, my goodness, look at the choice - call centres, overwhelmingly call centres. Now, in an area of high unemployment like Cape Breton, if you need an emergency transfusion of jobs and you have to get them up and running quickly and you need them, well maybe call centres are the thing to do, but it's only short term and everyone knows that call centres are mobile businesses.

They can be located anywhere. That's why you can place them in Cape Breton, in Pictou, down the South Shore, and in Digby and whatever. Those companies could be anywhere in the world and they're only here because of the subsidies. The trick is, can we keep them beyond the period of the subsidies? That's the question, and the fact that we managed to get a few jobs in the interim, that doesn't tell us anything except we're subsidizing their payroll. And these aren't even such wonderful jobs. They're not high-paying jobs and a lot of them are part-time jobs. This is not what it takes in order to give a

[Page 7809]

sustainable base to the economy of a place like Cape Breton, or of Nova Scotia overall, but unfortunately we see continued reliance on that kind of step.

We've seen colour photos printed in the newspapers today of the Laurentian Sub-basin mess that this government was responsible for and we saw where the lines were drawn, the position of the Tory Government and the position of the Newfoundland Government. It's not well-known, Mr. Speaker, but do you know what? The Tory Government had a fallback position. They would have liked to have seen the line drawn across the Canso Causeway.

MR. SPEAKER: The time has expired on this debate and I thank the members for taking part.

We are adjourned until 2:00 p.m. tomorrow.

[The House rose at 6:30 p.m.]

[Page 7810]

NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3)

RESOLUTION NO. 2863

By: Mr. Richard Hurlburt (Yarmouth)

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

Whereas Jim Rideout, Grade 4 French immersion teacher at Yarmouth Central Elementary School, has been partnered up for the last three years with the Yarmouth County Museum to develop the Yarmouth and the Age of Sailing Ships school program; and

Whereas this interactive program examines the shipping heritage of Yarmouth through learning aids and activities, including videos, CDs, books and board games; and

Whereas overall, the aim of the program is to develop a link between the classroom and the community by giving teachers the resources necessary to enrich their curriculum;

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize the worthwhile service Mr. Rideout is doing for his community in helping to educate the students in his community.

RESOLUTION NO. 2864

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 Theodorus "Ted" Ueffing of Kings County passed away on March 26th surrounded by his loved ones; and

Whereas Ted's love of farming extended beyond his own farm to an active involvement in many farming organizations, including past President of the Nova Scotia Federation of Agriculture; and

Whereas Ted's sense of commitment included his church and parish council and extended into the community as a chartered member of the Canning Lions Club;

Therefore be it resolved that this House join me in paying respect to Ted Ueffing, a valued member of the agricultural community, and extend condolences to Ted's wife, Truus, his children and many grandchildren.