Assemblée Législative de la Nouvelle-Écosse

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21 septembre 2017

Hansard -- Tue., June 26, 2001

HANSARD
01-58

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.

Annual subscriptions available from the Office of the Speaker.

Second Session

TUESDAY, JUNE 26, 2001

TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE
PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS:
Health: Bill No. 68 - Withdraw, Mr. D. Dexter 5713
Health: Bill No. 68 - Withdraw, Mr. Manning MacDonald 5713
Health - Care Workers: Bill No. 68 - Concern, Mr. Robert Chisholm 5713
Health: Bill No. 68 - Withdraw, Mr. D. Downe 5714
Health: Bill No. 68 - Withdraw, Mr. G. Steele 5714
Health: Bill No. 68 - Withdraw, Mr. W. Gaudet 5715
Health: Bill No. 68 - Withdraw, Mr. D. Dexter 5715
Health: Bill No. 68 - Withdraw, Mr. K. MacAskill 5715
Health: Bill No. 68 - Withdraw, Mr. G. Steele 5716
Health: Bill No. 68 - Withdraw, Mr. D. Wilson 5716
Health: Bill No. 68 - Withdraw, Mr. D. Dexter 5716
Health: Bill No. 68 - Withdraw, Dr. J. Smith 5716
Health: Bill No. 68 - Withdraw, Mr. G. Steele 5717
Health: Bill No. 68 - Withdraw, Mr. Manning MacDonald 5717
Health: Bill No. 68 - Withdraw, Mr. D. Dexter 5717
Health: Bill No. 68 - Withdraw, Mr. D. Downe 5718
Health - Bill No. 68: Law Amendments Comm. - Extend,
Mr. Robert Chisholm 5718
Health: Care Workers - Negotiations, Mr. W. Gaudet 5719
Health: Bill No. 68 - Withdraw, Mr. G. Steele 5719
Health: Bill No. 68 - Withdraw, Dr. J. Smith 5720
Health: Bill No. 68 - Withdraw, Mr. D. Dexter 5720
Health: Bill No. 68 - Withdraw, Mr. K. MacAskill 5720
Health - Bill No. 68: Law Amendments Comm. - Extend, Mr. G. Steele 5720
Health: Bill No. 68 - Withdraw, Mr. D. Wilson 5721
Health - Bill No. 68: Law Amendments Comm. - Extend,
Mr. Robert Chisholm 5721
Health: Bill No. 68 - Withdraw, Mr. Manning MacDonald 5721
Health: Bill No. 68 - Withdraw, Mr. D. Dexter 5721
Health: Bill No. 68 - Withdraw, Mr. D. Downe 5722
Health - Bill No. 68: Law Amendments Comm. - Extend, Mr. G. Steele 5722
Health: Bill No. 68 - Withdraw, Mr. W. Gaudet 5722
Health: Bill No. 68 - Withdraw, Mr. Robert Chisholm 5723
Health: Bill No. 68 - Withdraw, Mr. D. Wilson 5723
Health: Bill No. 68 - Withdraw, Mr. D. Dexter 5723
Health: Bill No. 68 - Withdraw, Mr. Manning MacDonald 5724
Health: Bill No. 68 - Withdraw, Mr. G. Steele 5724
Health: Bill No. 68 - Withdraw, Mr. D. Downe 5724
Health: Bill No. 68 - Withdraw, Mr. Robert Chisholm 5724
Health: Bill No. 68 - Withdraw, Mr. D. Wilson 5725
Health: Bill No. 68 - Withdraw, Mr. G. Steele 5725
Health: Bill No. 68 - Withdraw, Mr. Manning MacDonald 5725
Health: Bill No. 68 - Withdraw, Mr. D. Dexter 5725
Health: Bill No. 68 - Withdraw, Mr. D. Downe 5726
Health - Bill No. 68: Law Amendments Comm. - Extend,
Mr. Robert Chisholm 5726
Health: Bill No. 68 - Withdraw, Mr. D. Wilson 5726
Health: Bill No. 68 - Withdraw, Mr. G. Steele 5727
Health: Bill No. 68 - Withdraw, Mr. W. Gaudet 5727
Health: Bill No. 68 - Withdraw, Mr. D. Dexter 5727
Health: Bill No. 68 - Withdraw, Dr. J. Smith 5728
Health: Bill No. 68 - Withdraw, Mr. G. Steele 5728
Health: Bill No. 68 - Withdraw, Mr. Manning MacDonald 5728
Health: Bill No. 68 - Withdraw, Mr. Robert Chisholm 5729
Health: Bill No. 68 - Withdraw, Mr. D. Downe 5729
Health: Bill No. 68 - Withdraw, Mr. D. Dexter 5729
Health: Bill No. 68 - Withdraw, Mr. G. Steele 5730
Health: Bill No. 68 - Withdraw, Mr. Robert Chisholm 5730
Health: Bill No. 68 - Withdraw, Mr. D. Dexter 5731
Health: Bill No. 68 - Withdraw, Mr. G. Steele 5731
Health: Bill No. 68 - Withdraw, Mr. Robert Chisholm 5731
Health: Bill No. 68 - Withdraw, Mr. D. Dexter 5731
Health: Bill No. 68 - Withdraw, Mr. G. Steele 5732
Health: Bill No. 68 - Withdraw, Mr. Robert Chisholm 5732
Health: Bill No. 68 - Withdraw, Mr. D. Dexter 5732
Health: Bill No. 68 - Withdraw, Mr. G. Steele 5732
Health: Bill No. 68 - Withdraw, Mr. Robert Chisholm 5733
Health: Bill No. 68 - Withdraw, Mr. D. Dexter 5733
Health: Bill No. 68 - Withdraw, Mr. G. Steele 5734
Health: Bill No. 68 - Withdraw, Mr. Robert Chisholm 5734
Health: Bill No. 68 - Withdraw, Mr. D. Dexter 5734
Health: Bill No. 68 - Withdraw, Mr. G. Steele 5734
Health: Bill No. 68 - Withdraw, Mr. Robert Chisholm 5735
Health: Bill No. 68 - Withdraw, Mr. D. Dexter 5735
Health: Bill No. 68 - Withdraw, Mr. G. Steele 5735
Health: Bill No. 68 - Withdraw, Mr. Robert Chisholm 5736
Health: Bill No. 68 - Withdraw, Mr D. Dexter 5736
Health: Bill No. 68 - Withdraw, Mr. Manning MacDonald 5737
Health: Bill No. 68 - Withdraw, Mr. G. Steele 5737
Health: Bill No. 68 - Withdraw, Mr. D. Wilson 5737
Health: Bill No. 68 - Withdraw, Mr. D. Dexter 5738
Health: Bill No. 68 - Withdraw, Mr. Manning MacDonald 5738
Health: Bill No. 68 - Withdraw, Mr. G. Steele 5738
Health: Bill No. 68 - Withdraw, Mr. D. Downe 5739
Health: Bill No. 68 - Withdraw, Mr. Robert Chisholm 5739
Health: Bill No. 68 - Withdraw, Mr. Manning MacDonald 5739
Health: Bill No. 68 - Withdraw, Mr. D. Dexter 5740
Health: Bill No. 68 - Withdraw, Mr. D. Wilson 5740
Health: Bill No. 68 - Withdraw, Mr. G. Steele 5740
Health - Bill No. 68: Law Amendments Comm. - Extend,
Mr. Robert Chisholm 5741
Health: Bill No. 68 - Withdraw, Mr. D. Dexter 5741
Health: Bill No. 68 - Withdraw, Mr. G. Steele 5741
NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 1851, Health - Gov't. (N.S.): Ad Campaign - Cease, Mr. D. Dexter 5742
Res. 1852, Libbus, Francis (Kayo) & Morena: Anniv. (50th) - Congrats.,
Mr. Manning MacDonald 5743
Vote - Affirmative 5743
Res. 1853, St. Margarets Arena - Expansion: Organizers -
Initiative Congrats., (by Mr. G. Steele), Mr. W. Estabrooks 5744
Vote - Affirmative 5744
Res. 1854, Lunenburg MLA - Bill No. 68: Negative Vote - Cast,
Mr. D. Downe 5744
Res. 1855, Black Bus. Summit: Black Bus. Initiative/Chairwoman -
Congrats., Mr. Robert Chisholm 5745
Vote - Affirmative 5746
Res. 1856, Colchester North MLA - Bill No. 68: Support - Effects,
Mr. W. Gaudet 5746
Res. 1857, Hawkins, Cst. George - Death of: Family/Co-Workers -
Condolences Express, (by Mr. D. Dexter), Mr. K. Deveaux 5746
Vote - Affirmative 5747
Res. 1858, Gov't. (N.S.): Bill No. 68 - Withdraw, Dr. J. Smith 5747
Res. 1859, Health - Care System: Demolition - Min. Role,
(by Mr. G. Steele), Mr. H. Epstein 5748
Res. 1860, Kings West MLA - Bill No. 68: Support - Effects,
Mr. K. MacAskill 5748
Res. 1861, Health - Bill No. 68: Prem./Health Min. - Withdraw,
Mr. Robert Chisholm 5749
Res. 1862, Kings North MLA - Bill No. 68: Support - Effects,
Mr. D. Wilson 5750
Res. 1863, Sons of Israel Congregation (Glace Bay): Anniv. (100th) -
Congrats., (by Mr. D. Dexter), Mr. F. Corbett 5750
Vote - Affirmative 5751
Res. 1864, Queens MLA - Bill No. 68: Support - Effects,
(by Mr. Manning MacDonald), Mr. P. MacEwan 5751
Res. 1865, St. Margarets Bay Lions - Seeing Eye Dog Road Toll:
Success - Congrats., (by Mr. G. Steele), Mr. W. Estabrooks 5752
Vote - Affirmative 5753
Res. 1866, Preston MLA - Bill No. 68: Support - Effects,
(by Mr. D. Downe), Mr. R. MacKinnon 5753
Res. 1867, Putting People First - Document: Prem. - Rename,
(by Mr. Robert Chisholm), Mr. J. Pye 5753
Res. 1868, Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury MLA - Bill No. 68: Support -
Effects, (by Dr. J. Smith), Mr. M. Samson 5754
Res. 1869, Lbr. - Min.: Job Duties - House Remind, (by Mr. D. Dexter),
Ms. Maureen MacDonald 5755
Res. 1870, Boularderie Sch. - Toy Donations (Bosnia):
Students/Organizers - Congrats., Mr. K. MacAskill 5756
Vote - Affirmative 5756
Res. 1871, Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley MLA - Prem./Health Min.:
Backbench Revolt - Lead, (by Mr. G. Steele), Mr. H. Epstein 5756
Res. 1872, Chester-St. Margaret's MLA - Bill No. 68: Support - Effects,
(by Mr. D. Wilson), Mr. B. Boudreau 5757
Res. 1873, Yarmouth MLA - Bill No. 68: Support - Effects,
(by Mr. Manning MacDonald), Mr. P. MacEwan 5758
Res. 1874, Health - Care Workers: Concerns - Heed, (by Mr. D. Dexter),
Mr. J. Holm 5759
Res. 1875, Annapolis MLA - Bill No. 68: Support - Effects,
Mr. D. Downe 5760
Res. 1876, Col. Gen. Hosp. - Contract Vote: Health Min. - Impact,
Mr. G. Steele 5760
Res. 1877, Pictou East MLA - Bill No. 68: Support - Effects,
(by Dr. J. Smith), Mr. M. Samson 5761
Res. 1878, Fin. - Debt Accumulation: Reduction - Time Frame,
(by Mr. Robert Chisholm), Mr. J. Holm 5761
Res. 1879, Cape Breton North MLA - Bill No. 68: Support - Effects,
(by Mr. D. Wilson), Mr. B. Boudreau 5762
Res. 1880, Health - Care Workers: Unsuitable Leg. - Avert,
(by Mr. D. Dexter), Mr. F. Corbett 5763
Res. 1881, Pictou West MLA - Bill No. 68: Support - Effects,
Mr. Manning MacDonald 5764
Res. 1882, Health - Nurses: Casualization - Eliminate,
(by Mr. G. Steele), Ms. Maureen MacDonald 5764
Res. 1883, Shelburne MLA - Bill No. 68: Support - Effects,
Mr. W. Gaudet 5765
Res. 1884, Health - Med. Workers: Policy - Flaw Admit,
(by Mr. Robert Chisholm), Mr. J. MacDonell 5765
Res. 1885, Dartmouth South MLA - Bill No. 68: Position - Rethink,
Dr. J. Smith 5766
Res. 1886, Health - Nurses: Retention/Recruitment - Policy Implement,
(by Mr. D. Dexter), Mr. K. Deveaux 5767
Res. 1887, Halifax Bedford Basin MLA - C.B. South MLA: Apologies -
Offer, Mr. D. Wilson 5768
Res. 1888, Kings North MLA - Constituency Concerns: Briefing - Hold,
Mr. G. Steele 5768
Res. 1889, Eastern Shore MLA - Bill No. 68: Negative Vote - Cast,
(by Mr. D. Downe), Mr. R. MacKinnon 5769
Res. 1890, Health - Bill No. 68: Gov't. (N.S.) - Mandate,
(by Mr. Robert Chisholm), Mr. J. MacDonell 5770
Res. 1891, Dartmouth South MLA - Prem./Cabinet:
Backbench - Constituents Concerns Bring, Mr. D. Dexter 5770
ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS:
No. 582, Gov't. (N.S.) - Negotiations: Policy - Details, Mr. D. Dexter 5771
No. 583, Gov't. (N.S.) - Leg.: Essential Serv. - Intentions, Mr. W. Gaudet 5772
No. 584, Health - Opinion Poll: Responsibility - Explain, Mr. D. Dexter 5773
No. 585, Premier - Corporate Research: Poll Questions - Details,
Mr. D. Wilson 5775
No. 586, P&P - Corporate Research: Poll Questions - Approval Details,
Mr. D. Dexter 5777
No. 587, Health - Strike: Contingency Plan - Mistrust Explain,
Mr. W. Gaudet 5778
No. 588, Health - Essential Serv. Agreement: Bill No. 68 -
Withdraw, Mr. Robert Chisholm 5779
No. 589, Premier - Corporate Research: Polling - Awareness Explain,
Mr. D. Wilson 5780
No. 590, Health - Care Workers: Gov't. (N.S.) - Ads Cost,
Mr. G. Steele 5782
No. 591, Fin. - Restructuring Fund: Wage Settlements -
Allotment Details, Mr. D. Downe 5783
No.592, Health - Care Workers: Prem. - Heed, Mr. Robert Chisholm 5784
No. 593, Health - Medical Lab Techs: Training Prog. - Initiate,
Dr. J. Smith 5786
No. 594, Health - District Health Authorities: Support - Details,
Mr. G. Steele 5787
No. 595, Health - Nurses: Training Seats - Increase, Mr. K. MacAskill 5789
GOVERNMENT BUSINESS:
PUBLIC BILLS FOR THIRD READING:
No. 68, Healthcare Continuation (2001) Act 5789
Hon. J. Muir 5789
Mr. Robert Chisholm 5790
Amendment moved 5800
HOUSE RECESSED AT 3:45 A.M. 5800
HOUSE RECONVENED AT 3:54 A.M. 5800
Ruled out of order 5801
Mr. D. Wilson 5806
Amendment moved 5820
Ruled out of order 5820
Mr. G Steele 5821
Mr. K. MacAskill 5836
Mr. J. MacDonell 5849
Mr. R. MacKinnon 5862
Mr. W. Estabrooks 5876
Mr. M. Samson 5891
Mr. H. Epstein 5908
Previous Question Put: 5921
Mr. D. Downe 5923
Ms. Maureen MacDonald 5937
Dr. J. Smith 5947
Mr. J. Pye 5963
Mr. Manning MacDonald 5978
Mr. J. Holm 5994
Adjourned debate 6005
ADJOURNMENT:
MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5):
Law Amendments Comm. - Access: Gov't. (N.S.) - Respect:^^
Mr. K. Deveaux 6005
Mr. M. Samson 6008
Hon. N. LeBlanc 6011
PUBLIC BILLS FOR THIRD READING:
No. 68, Healthcare Services Continuation (2001) Act [debate resumed] 6014
Mr. B. Boudreau 6014
Mr. F. Corbett 6026
Adjournment moved 6038
Vote - Negative 6039
Mr. K. MacAskill ^^Mr. K. Deveaux ~ 6053 6039
Mr. D. Wilson 6072
Debate adjourned 6079
SPEAKER'S RULING: Changes to Opposition Day Hours 6085
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Wed., June 27th at 1:30 a.m. 6089
NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3):
Res. 1892, VON (Anna. Valley Br.) - Quilt Auction: Organizers/ Donors -
Commend, Mr. M. Parent 6090
Res. 1893, Harnish, Rhys - Dauphinee Inn: Taste of N.S. Restaurant of
the Year Award (2000) - Congrats., Mr. J. Chataway 6090

[Page 5711]

HALIFAX, TUESDAY, JUNE 26, 2001

Fifty-eighth General Assembly

Second Session

12:01 A.M.

SPEAKER

Hon. Murray Scott

DEPUTY SPEAKERS

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

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

Therefore be it resolved that this government should respect Nova Scotians' historic right to be heard without limitation at the Law Amendments Committee.

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

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. The member for Richmond rose in his place a few days ago and asked the Speaker to rule. He rose on a point of privilege, actually, and asked the Speaker to rule on a situation that occurred in the Red Room regarding Rule 1 of the Rules and Forms of Procedure. In that rule, it states that the same rules that would apply here in the House would apply in the committee room, any committee room, of this House, and such things as the ringing of the bells or recorded votes. He asked that the Speaker rule on that and you, Mr. Speaker, said you would take it under advisement and get back to the House. I wonder if that is being done or do you plan on coming back to the House soon with that?

5711

[Page 5712]

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you. At face value, when you look at the issue of Rule 1 and how it says that the Rules of the House do apply to all committees, although I am sure there are good intentions for that rule to apply at all committees, it is going to be very hard in a lot of cases with regard to the ringing of the bells and the Whips ensuring that members of the committee are there. As the Clerk just mentioned as well, a lot of committees meet over at the Dennis Building and it could create some real problems.

I know it seems for years that the rules, as applied in the House have, I am sure, applied at committees, but others as well that were apropos have been applied there as well. It is going to take more than a ruling on behalf of the Speaker, I think, to determine whether or not exactly that Rule 1 can apply to all committees, so I am hoping that we can convene a meeting of the Committee on Assembly Matters and deal with the issue for the future for all committees. The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid at one point brought forward an issue at the Committee on Assembly Matters in regard to the power of the chairman at committees and it has never really been determined whether or not, in fact, the chairman does have the power of the Speaker.

As well, as I indicated the other night, I forget the section now - but there is a section that indicates decisions made at committee are not ruled upon by the Speaker, but brought back to the House for a decision. I really think it is going to take a meeting of the Committee on Assembly Matters to determine when in fact the Rules of the House do apply and are applicable as well at the committee level.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, as far as our caucus is concerned, that would be fine if we could be assured that it is going to be brought up at committee level and then we can discuss what we are going to do with that rule ultimately.

MR. SPEAKER: It will be.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Okay.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: On that point, Mr. Speaker, that makes considerable sense to us as well, that the matter be referred to the Committee on Assembly Matters. I would recommend, as the member for Cape Breton South has suggested, that it be done with some haste and that some protocol be laid out for committees - what rules to follow and how that relates to the rules we have here in the House.

[Page 5713]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, perhaps we could ensure that that committee meet sometime at the end of July, early August and we can look at a whole range of problems that have come to light on recent dates with regard to our rules in the House.

MR. SPEAKER: Is that agreed by everyone then? We will convene a meeting of the Committee on Assembly Matters sometime during the month of July or early August to deal with that. That will give each caucus an opportunity to actually document the concerns they have with regard to committees and rules and Rules of the House and bring them forward at that time. Thank you.

We will begin the daily routine.

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition on behalf of 27 residents of the Halifax Regional Municipality, the operative clause reads as follows, "Therefore be it resolved that we, the undersigned, call on this government to demonstrate their trust in, and respect for, health care workers in Nova Scotia by immediately withdrawing Bill 68 and at the same time, negotiating fair and decent settlements with them." I have affixed my signature.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton South.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to introduce a petition signed by 14 Nova Scotians and I have affixed my signature. The operative clause reads as follows, "Therefore be it resolved that we, the undersigned, call on this government to demonstrate their trust in, and respect for, health care workers in Nova Scotia by immediately withdrawing Bill 68 and at the same time, negotiating fair and decent settlements with them."

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I am tabling a petition in the form of a letter with approximately 200 names of health care workers affixed to it. This letter is directed to all MLAs. I am going to table the original here in the House. I have affixed my signature to it. I also have copies that I will have distributed throughout the House to all the Chamber. It

[Page 5714]

is a letter which details nurses and health care workers' concerns about Bill No. 68, refutes some of the arguments that have been put forth by this government and ultimately asks the members of the Tory Party to look at the situation realistically and with conscience, not Party loyalty, and asks, "Do you want a complete breakdown of the Health Care System. Do you want nurses to continue to leave our province?".

This letter itself is signed by Estelle Forbes-Doucet, Registered Nurse, President of the IWK Health Centre local, representing 900-plus members. As I suggested, Mr. Speaker, there are signatures here of over 200 names, the majority of them are RNs. I will table this and we will have copies of this package distributed by the Pages. I think it is important that all members get an opportunity to read it.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable member for Lunenburg West.

MR. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition. It states:

"Whereas in the Tory Platform John Hamm said health care workers: ". . . will not stay unless they have a rewarding professional environment"; and

Whereas the Tory Platform commits to: Working with the nursing profession to make sure the work environment offers a rewarding and positive experience where nurses know they can properly care for their patients, where they know they are valued and where they are empowered to have input into influencing clinical practice outcomes.'; and

Whereas the Premier and Minister of Health have continually shown their disrespect for health care workers, especially with the introduction of Bill 68;

Therefore be it resolved that we, the undersigned, call on this government to demonstrate their trust in, and respect for, health care workers in Nova Scotia by immediately withdrawing Bill 68 and at the same time, negotiating fair and decent settlements with them."

I have some 16 signatures and I have affixed my signature to that list.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

MR. GRAHAM STEELE: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise to table what is for me the first petition I have tabled during my time in this House. I beg leave to table a petition from 22 residents of the Annapolis Valley, the operative clause of which reads, "Therefore be it resolved that we, the undersigned, call on this government to demonstrate their trust in, and

[Page 5715]

respect for, health care workers in Nova Scotia by immediately withdrawing Bill 68 and at the same time, negotiating fair and decent settlements with them." As required by the rules, I have affixed my signature.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable Leader of the Liberal Party.

MR. WAYNE GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition. There are probably over 300 names in here. The petition says:

"Whereas the Premier and Minister of Health have continually shown their disrespect for health care workers, especially with the introduction of Bill 68;

Therefore be it resolved that we, the undersigned, call on this government to demonstrate their trust in, and respect for, health care workers in Nova Scotia by immediately withdrawing Bill 68 and at the same time, negotiating fair and decent settlements with them.".

Mr. Speaker, I have affixed my name to that petition as well.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition from 10 residents of the Barrington area. The operative clause reads: "Therefore be it resolved that we, the undersigned, call on this government to demonstrate their trust in, and respect for, health care workers in Nova Scotia by immediately withdrawing Bill 68 and at the same time, negotiating fair and decent settlements with them." I have affixed my signature.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable member for Victoria.

MR. KENNETH MACASKILL: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition with approximately 185 names on it from the Bridgewater area. I will by-pass the whereases and read the operative clause, "Therefore be it resolved that we, the undersigned, call on this government to demonstrate their trust in, and respect for, health care workers in Nova Scotia by immediately withdrawing Bill 68 and at the same time, negotiating fair and decent settlements with them." I have affixed my signature along with those names.

[Page 5716]

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

MR. GRAHAM STEELE: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition from approximately 25 employees of the Annapolis Community Health Centre. The operative clause of which reads, "Therefore be it resolved that we, the undersigned, call on this government to demonstrate their trust in, and respect for, health care workers in Nova Scotia by immediately withdrawing Bill 68 and at the same time, negotiating fair and decent settlements with them." As required by the rules, I have affixed my signature.

[12:15 a.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable member for Glace Bay.

MR. DAVID WILSON: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition. The operative clause reads, "Therefore be it resolved that we, the undersigned, call on this government to demonstrate their trust in, and respect for, health care workers in Nova Scotia by immediately withdrawing Bill 68 and at the same time, negotiating fair and decent settlements with them." The petition bears the signatures of people from such areas as Clyde River, Barrington, Port Saxon, West Green Harbour and Windsor, to name a few, and contains 170 signatures and I have affixed my name to it.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition on behalf of 10 Nova Scotians. The operative clause reads, "Therefore be it resolved that we, the undersigned, call on this government to demonstrate their trust in, and respect for, health care workers in Nova Scotia by immediately withdrawing Bill 68 and at the same time, negotiating fair and decent settlements with them." I have affixed my signature.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

DR. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition.

"Whereas the Premier and Minister of Health have continually shown their disrespect for health care workers, especially with the introduction of Bill 68;

[Page 5717]

Therefore be it resolved that we, the undersigned, call on this government to demonstrate their trust in, and respect for, health care workers in Nova Scotia by immediately withdrawing Bill 68 and at the same time, negotiating fair and decent settlements with them."

The original is signed by 40 Nova Scotians and I have affixed my signature, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

MR. GRAHAM STEELE: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition from approximately 25 Nova Scotians, again from the Annapolis Valley, the operative clause of which reads, "Therefore be it resolved that we, the undersigned, call on this government to demonstrate their trust in, and respect for, health care workers in Nova Scotia by immediately withdrawing Bill 68 and at the same time, negotiating fair and decent settlements with them." As required by the rules, I have affixed my signature to this petition.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton South.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition signed by 11 Nova Scotians from various parts of the province and I have affixed my signature to this petition. "Therefore be it resolved that we, the undersigned, call on this government to demonstrate their trust in, and respect for, health care workers in Nova Scotia by immediately withdrawing Bill 68 and at the same time, negotiating fair and decent settlements with them."

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition on behalf of 10 residents of the Barrington area, the operative clause of which reads, "Therefore be it resolved that we, the undersigned, call on this government to demonstrate their trust in, and respect for, health care workers in Nova Scotia by immediately withdrawing Bill 68 and at the same time, negotiating fair and decent settlements with them." I have affixed my signature.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable member for Lunenburg West.

[Page 5718]

MR. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition.

"Whereas the Premier and Minister of Health have continually shown their disregard for the rights of health care workers in Nova Scotia;

Whereas the Minister of Health has now introduced Bill 68, which will remove the right to strike for 9,000 acute care workers, as well as deny them access to free collective bargaining;

Whereas the right of free collective bargaining is a cornerstone of a free and democratic society;

Therefore be it resolved that we, the undersigned, call on this government to demonstrate their trust in, and respect for, health care workers in Nova Scotia by immediately withdrawing Bill 68 and at the same time, negotiating fair and decent settlements with them."

There are 26 signatures on there, for which I have affixed my signature, from the South Shore Regional Hospital.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, if I may, before I table a petition, I would like to introduce to members of this House a health care worker in the gallery opposite. It is her first time here at the House, the first time that she has had the opportunity to be introduced. It is my pleasure to do so. It is Lynette Johnson. Lynette has been 10 years at the VG and the QE II. She is a dedicated, hard-working lab technologist and she is extremely concerned about what is happening with Bill No. 68, and has taken the time to come down here to oversee debate and Question Period to try to understand, for herself, her family and her colleagues, exactly why it is this government is moving forward to take away her rights as a health care worker to bargain freely and collectively. So I would ask Lynette if she would please rise and receive the warm welcome of the House. (Applause)

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

The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic on a petition.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I have a group of petitions here - there are four of them, totalling about 40 names, the operative clause reads as follows, "Therefore be it resolved that we, the undersigned, call on the Hamm Government and the Law Amendments Committee to extend the time available for public presentations so that every interested person has an opportunity to appear before the Committee on Bill 68."

[Page 5719]

As was noted earlier, even though the Law Amendments Committee did sit for an extra four hours, many people feel that a full and frank discussion did not occur at Law Amendments and these 35 to 40 health care workers would like to see us revisit this issue in Law Amendments so the public of Nova Scotia will have a greater opportunity to debate the issue. I have affixed my signature in accordance with the rules and I therefore table these petitions.

MR. SPEAKER: The petitions are tabled.

The honourable Leader of the Liberal Party.

MR. WAYNE GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, I have received a small petition from three workers at the QE II Health Sciences Centre. Before I read the petition, there was a little note here. It says, we are voters, we have excellent memory, treat us fairly and we will treat you the same.

This petition, the operative clause reads as follows:

"Whereas the Premier and Minister of Health have continually shown their disrespect for health care workers . . .;

Therefore be it resolved that we, the undersigned, call on this government to demonstrate their trust in, and respect for, health care workers in Nova Scotia by . . .", negotiating instead of legislating.

I have affixed my name to that petition as well.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

MR. GRAHAM STEELE: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition from five Nova Scotians who are employees of the National Archives of Canada in Halifax. The operative clause reads as follows, "Therefore be it resolved that we, the undersigned, call on this government to demonstrate their trust in, and respect for health care workers in Nova Scotia by immediately withdrawing Bill 68 and at the same time, negotiating fair and decent settlements with them." As required by the rules, I have affixed my signature to this petition.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

[Page 5720]

The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

DR. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I hereby beg leave to table a petition from Nova Scotians throughout the province and just one "whereas" says, "Whereas the Tory Platform commits to: 'Working with the nursing profession to make sure the work environment offers a rewarding and positive experience where nurses know they can properly care for their patients, where they know they are valued and where they are empowered to have input into influencing clinical practice outcomes';

Therefore be it resolved that we, the undersigned, call on this government to demonstrate their trust in, and respect for, health care workers in Nova Scotia by immediately withdrawing Bill 68 and at the same time, negotiating fair and decent settlements with them."

I have affixed my name to the petition with the names of the petitioners.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition on behalf of 16 Nova Scotians from the Bras d'Or, North Sydney, Sydney Mines area. The operative clause reads as follows, "Therefore be it resolved that we, the undersigned, call on this government to demonstrate their trust in, and respect for, health care workers in Nova Scotia by immediately withdrawing Bill 68 and at the same time, negotiating fair and decent settlements with them." I have affixed my signature.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable member for Victoria.

MR. KENNETH MACASKILL: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition with 76 names which came from the Dartmouth area. The operative clause reads as follows, "Therefore be it resolved that we, the undersigned, call on this government to demonstrate their trust in, and respect for, health care workers in Nova Scotia by immediately withdrawing Bill 68 and at the same time, negotiating fair and decent settlements with them."I have affixed my name to that petition.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

MR. GRAHAM STEELE: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition from nine Nova Scotians, the operative clause of which reads, "Therefore be it resolved that we, the undersigned, call on the Hamm government and the Law Amendments Committee to extend

[Page 5721]

the time available for public presentations so that every interested person has an opportunity to appear before the Committee on Bill 68." As required by the rules, I have affixed my signature to this petition and beg leave to table it.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable member for Glace Bay.

MR. DAVID WILSON: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition, the operative clause reads: "Therefore be it resolved that we, the undersigned, call on this government to demonstrate their trust in, and respect for, health care workers in Nova Scotia by immediately withdrawing Bill 68 and at the same time, negotiating fair and decent settlements with them."The petition bears the signatures of 19 people who are members of CUPE Local 3131 at the University College of Cape Breton. I have affixed my name to the petition.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I am just going through my papers here and I actually have three more petitions with about another 40 names with respect to this matter being referred to the Law Amendments Committee to give the public sufficient time to make presentations because of their concerns on Bill No. 68. As I said, there are about 40 health care workers who have signed these petitions and I have affixed my name to them and will table them.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton South.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition signed by 13 residents of Riverport Nova Scotia. "Therefore be it resolved that we, the undersigned, call on this government to demonstrate their trust in, and respect for, health care workers in Nova Scotia by immediately withdrawing Bill 68 and at the same time, negotiating fair and decent settlements with them." I have affixed my signature to that petition.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition, that identifies itself as being from the St. Vincent's Guest House, on behalf of 25 residents, residents of Nova Scotia, not necessarily of the Guest House. The operative clause reads, "Therefore be

[Page 5722]

it resolved that we, the undersigned, call on this government to demonstrate their trust in, and respect for, health care workers in Nova Scotia by immediately withdrawing Bill 68 and at the same time, negotiating fair and decent settlements with them." I have affixed my signature.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable member for Lunenburg West.

MR. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition and the operative clause states, "Therefore be it resolved that we, the undersigned, call on this government to demonstrate their trust in, and respect for, health care workers in Nova Scotia by immediately withdrawing Bill 68 and at the same time, negotiating fair and decent settlements with them."I have affixed my signature to some 27 signatures from the South Shore area.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

MR. GRAHAM STEELE: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition from 10 Nova Scotians, which points out that at least 300 people, or more than half the people registered for the Law Amendments Committee, will not be heard by that committee and the operative clause of which calls on the government to extend the time available for public presentations, so that every interested person has an opportunity to appear before the Law Amendments Committee to speak to Bill No. 68. As required by the rules, I have affixed my signature to this petition.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable Leader of the Liberal Party.

MR. WAYNE GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition with 33 names. These individuals are from the South Shore area. The petition states:

"Whereas the Premier and Minister of Health have continually shown their disrespect for health care workers, especially with the introduction of Bill 68;

Therefore be it resolved that we, the undersigned, call on this government to demonstrate their trust in, and respect for, health care workers in Nova Scotia by immediately withdrawing Bill 68 and at the same time, negotiating fair and decent settlements with them."

Mr. Speaker, I too, have affixed my name to that petition.

[Page 5723]

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.

[12:30 a.m.]

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition signed by 153 workers at the IWK Health Centre. If you have had the opportunity to attend the IWK, you know what kind of world-class work is done at this facility and the wonderful commitment that these women and men make to children and youth in the Province of Nova Scotia, in fact, in this region, generally. The petition that was signed, the operative clause reads as follows, "Therefore be it resolved that we, the undersigned, call on this government to demonstrate their trust in, and respect for, health care workers in Nova Scotia by immediately withdrawing Bill 68 and at the same time, negotiating fair and decent settlements with them." I think you will agree with me that it is a very reasonable request and I am pleased to be able to table this petition on their behalf.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable member for Glace Bay.

MR. DAVID WILSON: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition regarding Bill No. 68. The operative clause of this petition reads, "Therefore be it resolved that we, the undersigned, call on this government to demonstrate their trust in, and respect for, health care workers in Nova Scotia by immediately withdrawing Bill 68 and at the same time, commit to negotiating fair and reasonable settlements with them." This petition, bearing the names of 25 people, was signed at the various facilities of the Cape Breton Regional Healthcare Complex and I have affixed my name to the petition.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition on behalf of 19 Nova Scotians. It notes, "Whereas in the Tory Platform John Hamm said health care workers: '. . . will not stay unless they have a rewarding professional environment; and"

The operative clause reads, "Therefore be it resolved that we, the undersigned, call on this government to demonstrate their trust in, and respect for, health care workers in Nova Scotia by immediately withdrawing Bill 68 and at the same time, negotiating fair and decent settlements with them." I have affixed my signature.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

[Page 5724]

The honourable member for Cape Breton South.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition signed by 13 Nova Scotians from the Mahone Bay-Hubbards area. The operative clause is, "Therefore be it resolved that we, the undersigned, call on this government to demonstrate their trust in, and respect for, health care workers in Nova Scotia by immediately withdrawing Bill 68 and at the same time, negotiating fair and decent settlements with them." I have affixed my signature.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

MR. GRAHAM STEELE: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition from 10 residents of the Yarmouth area. The operative clause of which requests that this government withdraw Bill No. 68 while negotiating fair and decent settlements with the health care workers of Nova Scotia. As required by the rules, I have affixed my signature to this petition.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable member for Lunenburg West.

MR. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition on Bill No. 68 with some 27 signatures and I have affixed my signature. The operative clause is, "Therefore be it resolved that we, the undersigned, call on this government to demonstrate their trust in, and respect for, health care workers in Nova Scotia by immediately withdrawing Bill 68 and at the same time, negotiating fair and decent settlements with them."

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I have a group of about 40 signatures here on petitions which I beg leave to table. The operative clause of these petitions reads, "Therefore be it resolved that we, the undersigned, call on this government to demonstrate their trust in, and respect for, health care workers in Nova Scotia by immediately withdrawing Bill 68 and at the same time, negotiating fair and decent settlements with them." The numbers are adding up and surely this government and members opposite can't ignore the hundreds, if not thousands, of Nova Scotians who have indicated their concern with this bill.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

[Page 5725]

The honourable member for Glace Bay.

MR. DAVID WILSON: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition on Bill No. 68, the operative clause which reads, "Therefore be it resolved that we, the undersigned, call on this government to demonstrate their trust in, and respect for, health care workers in Nova Scotia by immediately withdrawing Bill 68 and at the same time, commit to negotiating fair and reasonable settlements with them." The petition bears the names of nine people who signed this petition at various facilities of the Cape Breton Regional Healthcare Complex in Sydney, Glace Bay, New Waterford and North Sydney. I have affixed my name to the petition.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

MR. GRAHAM STEELE: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition from 20 Nova Scotians from various places in Nova Scotia. The operative clause of which reads, "Therefore be it resolved that we, the undersigned, call on this government to demonstrate their trust in, and respect for, health care workers in Nova Scotia by immediately withdrawing Bill 68 and at the same time, negotiating fair and decent settlements with them." As required by the rules, I have affixed my signature to this petition.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton South.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition from six Nova Scotians. "Therefore be it resolved that we, the undersigned, call on this government to demonstrate their trust in, and respect for, health care workers in Nova Scotia by immediately withdrawing Bill 68 and at the same time, negotiating fair and decent settlements with them." I have affixed my signature to this petition.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition on behalf of 25 residents from the area around Armview Estates, the operative which reads, "Therefore be it resolved that we, the undersigned, call on this government to demonstrate their trust in, and respect for, health care workers in Nova Scotia by immediately withdrawing Bill 68 and at the same time, negotiating fair and decent settlements with them." I have affixed my signature.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

[Page 5726]

The honourable member for Lunenburg West.

MR. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition on Bill No. 68. It states, "Whereas in the Tory Platform, John Hamm said health care workers: '. . . will not stay unless they have a rewarding, professional environment.'" It goes on to state other whereases and the operative clause states, "Therefore be it resolved that we, the undersigned, call on this government to demonstrate their trust in, and respect for, health care workers in Nova Scotia by immediately withdrawing Bill 68 and at the same time, negotiating fair and decent settlements with them." There are some 18 signatures from the Bridgewater, Rose Bay, Lunenburg, Mahone Bay area for which I have affixed my signature as well, and I would like to table those.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition. I am trying to put some of these together and they are not all the same, but here we go. There are about 35 names here on a petition - I am going to read the whole thing to make sure I don't get it mixed up - it says:

"Whereas the Law Amendments Committee decided on June 20, 2001 that it will conclude its hearings on June 21, 2001 even though all interested persons who contacted the Legislative Counsel Office will not have had an opportunity to make a presentation on Bill 68; and

Whereas there are at least 300 people or more than half of the people registered who will not be heard by the committee due to this decision; and

Therefore be it resolved we, the undersigned, call on the Hamm government and the Law Amendments Committee to extend the time available for public presentations so that every interested person has an opportunity to appear before the Committee on Bill 68."

I am going to see if I can't find enough to get up to 40 on this one and I will table it after I have signed it.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable member for Glace Bay.

MR. DAVID WILSON: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition on Bill No. 68. You will never guess what the operative clause says, but if I may read it. "Therefore be it resolved that we, the undersigned, call on this government to demonstrate their trust in, and

[Page 5727]

respect for, health care workers in Nova Scotia by immediately withdrawing Bill 68 and at the same time, negotiating fair and decent settlements with them." The petition bears the names of 17 residents of Cape Breton who signed this petition at various facilities in the Cape Breton Healthcare Complex and I have affixed my name to the petition.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

MR. GRAHAM STEELE: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table two petitions of four signatures each which refer to the lack of respect that the government is showing to health care workers with the introduction of Bill No. 68, and calling on the government to show respect for health care workers by immediately withdrawing Bill No. 68. I have affixed my signature to both of these petitions and beg leave to table them.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable Leader of the Liberal Party.

MR. WAYNE GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition on Bill No. 68, the operative clause reads as follows:

"Whereas the Premier and the Minister of Health have continually shown their disrespect for health care workers, especially with the introduction of Bill 68;

Therefore be it resolved that we, the undersigned, call on this government to demonstrate their trust in, and respect for, health care workers in Nova Scotia by immediately withdrawing Bill 68 and at the same time, negotiating fair and decent settlements with them."

Twelve residents from Lunenburg County have signed this petition and I have affixed my name to this petition.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition on behalf of 14 residents of the Barrington Municipality, the operative clause which reads as follows, "Therefore be it resolved that we, the undersigned, call on this government to demonstrate their trust in, and respect for, health care workers in Nova Scotia by immediately withdrawing Bill 68 and at the same time, negotiating fair and decent settlements with them." I have affixed my signature.

[Page 5728]

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

DR. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition signed by 13 Nova Scotians from the Lunenburg area, Blue Rocks, First South and Garden Lots and includes the signature of a distinguished Canadian orthopod, Dr. Bill Standish who is also an Olympian sports medicine physician. It reads in part as follows:

"Whereas in the Tory Platform John Hamm said health care workers 'will not stay unless they have a rewarding professional environment';

Therefore be it resolved that we, the undersigned, call on this government to demonstrate their trust in, and respect for, health care workers in Nova Scotia by immediately withdrawing Bill 68 and at the same time, negotiating fair and decent settlements with them."

These are original signatures and I have affixed my name to that of the petitioners.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

MR. GRAHAM STEELE: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition from 10 residents of the Dutch Settlement area of Lunenburg County, the operative clause reads as follows, "Therefore be it resolved that we, the undersigned, call on this government to demonstrate their trust in, and respect for, health care workers in Nova Scotia by immediately withdrawing Bill 68 and at the same time, negotiating fair and decent settlements with them." As required by the rules, I have affixed my signature to this petition.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton South.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition with 14 residents of the Chester Basin-New Germany area, the operative clause reads as follows, "Therefore be it resolved that we, the undersigned, call on this government to demonstrate their trust in, and respect for, health care workers in Nova Scotia by immediately withdrawing Bill 68 and at the same time, negotiating fair and decent settlements with them." I have affixed my signature.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.

[Page 5729]

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I want to table some 40-odd signatures on petitions with the operative clause which reads as follows, "We, the undersigned, call on this government to demonstrate their trust in, and respect for, health care workers in Nova Scotia by immediately withdrawing Bill 68 and at the same time, negotiating fair and decent settlements with them." This, of course, refers to the fact that promises were made in the platform in 1999 that the Tories said that they would look after health care workers. I have affixed my signature to these petitions and table them as such.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable member for Lunenburg West.

MR. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition signed by some 14 residents of Riverport, Voglers Cove, Bridgewater area. The petition is on Bill No. 68 and reads as follows:

"Whereas in the Tory Platform John Hamm said health care workers 'will not stay unless they have a rewarding professional environment'; and

Whereas the Tory Platform commits to: 'Working with the nursing profession to make sure the work environment offers a rewarding and positive experience where nurses know they can properly care for their patients, where they know that they are valued and where they are empowered to have input into influencing clinical practice outcomes; and

Whereas the Premier and Minister of Health have continually shown their disrespect for health care workers, especially with the introduction of Bill 68;

Therefore be it resolved that we, the undersigned, call on this government to demonstrate their trust in, and respect for, health care workers in Nova Scotia by immediately withdrawing Bill 68 and at the same time, negotiating fair and decent settlements with them."

I have affixed my signature to this petition.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition on behalf of 10 residents of Nova Scotia, the operative clause which reads as follows, "Therefore be it resolved that we, the undersigned, call on this government to demonstrate their trust in, and respect for, health care workers in Nova Scotia by immediately withdrawing Bill 68 and at the same time negotiating fair and decent settlements with them." In accordance with the rules, I have affixed my signature thereto.

[Page 5730]

[12:45 a.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

MR. GRAHAM STEELE: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table two petitions of 10 signatures each, for a total of 20 Nova Scotians, the operative clause of which is to the effect that the undersigned call on the government to demonstrate their trust in and respect for health care workers and are requesting that their government immediately withdraw Bill No. 68 and also petitioning their government to negotiate fair and decent settlements with the health care workers of Nova Scotia. As required by the rules, I have affixed my signature to these petitions.

MR. SPEAKER: The petitions are tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I want to table this petition and there must be upwards of 150 names on these pages. The petition reads as follows:

"Whereas the Premier and Minister of Health have continually shown their disregard for the rights of health care workers in Nova Scotia; and

Whereas the Minister of Health has introduced Bill 68, which will remove the right to strike for 9,000 acute care workers, as well as deny them access to free collective bargaining; and

Whereas the right to free collective bargaining is a cornerstone of a free and democratic society;

Therefore be it resolved that we, the undersigned, call on this government to demonstrate their trust in, and respect for, health care workers in Nova Scotia by immediately withdrawing Bill 68 and at the same time, commit to negotiating fair and reasonable settlements with them.

Mr. Speaker, I will shortly affix my signature and table this petition.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

[Page 5731]

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition on behalf of 43 residents of the areas of New Minas, Falmouth and Summerville, the operative clause which reads, "Therefore be it resolved that we, the undersigned, call on this government to demonstrate their trust in, and respect for, health care workers in Nova Scotia by immediately withdrawing Bill 68 and at the same time, negotiating fair and decent settlements with them." I have, of course, affixed my signature.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

MR. GRAHAM STEELE: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition from five health care workers who have indicated their line of work beside their signatures and just to give you an example, there is here an aide, two clerks, someone who works in linen, a registered nurse and the operative clause of this petition, again, like a number of the petitions that have been table tonight, call on the government to respect health care workers in Nova Scotia. They are petitioning their government to immediately withdraw Bill No. 68 and, at the same time, to negotiate fair and decent settlements with them and their colleagues. I have affixed my signature to this petition.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition signed by approximately 30 health care workers with respect to Bill No. 68. The operative clause reads, "Therefore be it resolved that we, the undersigned, call on this government to demonstrate their trust in, and respect for, health care workers in Nova Scotia by immediately withdrawing Bill 68 and at the same time, negotiating fair and decent settlements with them." I have signed this and am pleased to table it on their behalf.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition on behalf of 54 Nova Scotians, some who have identified themselves as RNs. The operative clause reads, "Therefore be it resolved that we, the undersigned, call on this government to demonstrate their trust in, and respect for, health care workers in Nova Scotia by immediately withdrawing Bill 68 and at the same time, negotiating fair and decent settlements with them." In accordance with the rules, I have affixed my signature.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

[Page 5732]

The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

MR. GRAHAM STEELE: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to table a petition from yet a different area of Nova Scotia than we have heard from so far, the west Colchester region. I am pleased to table a petition from 10 Nova Scotians, the operative clause of which reads,

"Therefore be it resolved that we, the undersigned, call on this government to demonstrate their trust in, and respect for, health care workers in Nova Scotia by immediately withdrawing Bill 68 and at the same time, negotiating fair and decent settlements with them." As required by the rules, I have affixed my signature to this petition.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I am tabling petitions with signatures totalling about 50, 50 health care workers that have signed, people like Eric Dollivar, Carole Hipwell and Janet Barkhouse. There is a Lohnes on there, a Gail Zwicker and Nova Scotians that are concerned about what this government is doing with respect to Bill No. 68. You have heard the operative clause, I won't repeat it at this point, but I have signed this petition and am pleased and proud to table it on their behalf.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition on behalf of 57 Nova Scotians, the operative clause of which reads, "Therefore be it resolved that we, the undersigned, call on this government to demonstrate their trust in, and respect for, health care workers in Nova Scotia by immediately withdrawing Bill 68 and at the same time, negotiating fair and decent settlements with them." In accordance with the rules, I have affixed my signature.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

MR. GRAHAM STEELE: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition from 16 Nova Scotians and the first page wasn't enough for them, so the signatures have spilled over onto a second page, they are that keen to sign these petitions. The operative clause of which reads, "Therefore be it resolved that we, the undersigned, call on this government to demonstrate their trust in, and respect for, health care workers in Nova Scotia by immediately withdrawing Bill 68 and at the same time, negotiating fair and decent settlements with them." I am, at this moment, affixing my signature in accordance with the rules.

[Page 5733]

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I have petitions here with approximately 100 names and the petitions are with respect to Bill No. 68. The operative clause reads, "Therefore be it resolved that we, the undersigned, call on this government to demonstrate their trust in, and respect for, health care workers in Nova Scotia by immediately withdrawing Bill 68 and at the same time, negotiating fair and decent settlements with them."

I must say I am proud these Nova Scotians have asked me to table their petition and I will do so.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, before I table a petition, I would like to, if I may, make a few introductions. In our gallery today we have some health care workers who are very interested in the debates that are going to take place in this Chamber. I would like to introduce to the House, if I may, Liz Greene, who is an RN at the IWK and has been there for the last 12 years, who is very concerned about having to work mandatory overtime when more nurses leave Nova Scotia and asked the question, what other profession demands this? If Liz Greene would stand and receive the warm welcome of the House. (Applause)

In addition, Mr. Speaker, there is Jocelyn LaForte, a staff nurse at the IWK for 15 years, nursing for 24 years and originally from Inverness, Cape Breton. She is very concerned and worried about the state of the health care system. Perhaps if she would stand and receive the welcome of the House. (Applause)

Mr. Speaker, Michelle Cole, an LPN with the NSNU bargaining unit at the Dartmouth General Hospital. She has 11 years of service and says that she is here to support her fellow co-workers and will continue to support them on any action they decide to take and, furthermore, says she will not vote for a PC member in the next election. I wonder if she would rise and receive the welcome of the House. (Applause)

Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition on behalf of 76 Nova Scotians, the operative clause which reads, "Therefore be it resolved that we, the undersigned, call on this government to demonstrate their trust in, and respect for, health care workers in Nova Scotia by immediately withdrawing Bill 68 and at the same time, negotiating fair and decent settlements with them." In accordance with the rules, I have, of course, affixed my signature.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

[Page 5734]

The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

MR. GRAHAM STEELE: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition from 16 Nova Scotians who work in the psychology department but, unfortunately, in their petition, they have neglected to point out the psychology department they work in, although from the fax number it appears to be somewhere in the Halifax Regional Municipality. So, 16 Nova Scotians in the psychology department petition their government, " . . . to demonstrate their trust in, and respect for, health care workers in Nova Scotia by immediately withdrawing Bill 68 and at the same time, negotiating fair and decent settlements with them." In accordance with the rules, I have affixed my signature to this petition.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I have another group of 100 health care workers' signatures here on petitions which I beg leave to table. People from all over Nova Scotia - from Halifax, Lockeport and throughout the province. They have indicated their distaste, dissatisfaction with this government's Bill No. 68 by signing a petition with the operative clause which reads as follows, "Therefore be it resolved that we, the undersigned, call on this government to demonstrate their trust in, and respect for, health care workers in Nova Scotia by immediately withdrawing Bill 68 and at the same time, negotiating fair and decent settlements with them." As I table this petition, I join them in hoping this government will kill Bill No. 68.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition on behalf of 57 Nova Scotians, the operative clause which reads as follows, "Therefore be it resolved that we, the undersigned, call on this government to demonstrate their trust in, and respect for, health care workers in Nova Scotia by immediately withdrawing Bill 68 and at the same time, negotiating fair and decent settlements with them." In accordance with the rules, I have affixed my signature.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

MR. GRAHAM STEELE: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition from 11 people who are clearly health care workers because beside their names appear the letters, "RN", "LPN" and other occupations. This petition refers to broken Progressive Conservative

[Page 5735]

campaign promises, a continual showing of disrespect and these Nova Scotians petition their government to withdraw Bill No. 68 and negotiate fair wage settlements with our health care workers. In accordance with the rules, I have affixed my signature.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I have a group of petitions here with approximately 100 signatures on them. Interestingly, not just health care workers, but other Nova Scotians. I notice some teachers here and others from different parts of the province who are joining with their colleagues, their friends, family members perhaps in the health care sector to sign a petition, the operative clause which reads as follows, "Therefore be it resolved that we, the undersigned, call on this government to demonstrate their trust in, and respect for, health care workers in Nova Scotia by immediately withdrawing Bill 68 and at the same time, negotiating fair and decent settlements with them." I will affix my signature and table these petitions on their behalf.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition with 36 signatures from Nova Scotians who pray that, "Therefore be it resolved that we, the undersigned, call on this government to demonstrate their trust in, and respect for, health care workers in Nova Scotia by immediately withdrawing Bill 68 and at the same time, negotiating fair and decent settlements with them." In accordance with the rules, I have affixed my signature.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

MR. GRAHAM STEELE: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition which once again demonstrates the widespread support in the trade union movement for the struggle of the health care workers. This is from the Allied Communications and Technical Workers Union, the signatures of 10 Nova Scotians, the operative clause which reads as follows, "Therefore be it resolved that we, the undersigned, call on this government to demonstrate their trust in, and respect for, health care workers in Nova Scotia by immediately withdrawing Bill 68 and at the same time, negotiating fair and decent settlements with them."

In accordance with the rules, I have affixed my signature to this petition.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

[Page 5736]

The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I have a further 100 - and I think I must be reaching close to 1,000 tonight - signatures of individual Nova Scotians who are concerned about what this government is doing. Just to refresh your memory and others of the committee, I would like to read out the following:

"Whereas in the Tory Platform John Hamm said health care workers " . . . will not stay unless they have a rewarding professional environment'; and

Whereas the Tory Platform commits to: 'Working with the nursing profession to make sure the work environment offers a rewarding and positive experience where nurses know they can properly care for their patients, where they know they are valued and where they are empowered to have input into influencing clinical practice outcomes; and

Whereas the Premier and Minister of Health have continually shown their disrespect for health care workers, especially with the introduction of Bill 68;".

[1:00 a.m.]

Obviously, there is more that they are concerned about, but we will deal with that another day.

"Therefore be it resolved that we, the undersigned, call on this government to demonstrate their trust in, and respect for, health care workers in Nova Scotia by immediately withdrawing Bill 68 and at the same time, negotiating fair and decent settlements with them."

Mr. Speaker, I indicate my support for their position and great pleasure to table these petitions on their behalf.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition on behalf of 32 Nova Scotians. The operative clause reads, "Therefore be it resolved that we, the undersigned, call on this government to demonstrate their trust in, and respect for, health care workers in Nova Scotia by immediately withdrawing Bill 68 and at the same time, negotiating fair and decent settlements with them." I am affixing my signature as I speak, in accordance with the rules.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

[Page 5737]

The honourable member for Cape Breton South.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition signed by 11 Nova Scotians and I have affixed my signature. "Therefore be it resolved that we, the undersigned, call on this government to demonstrate their trust in, and respect for, health care workers in Nova Scotia by immediately withdrawing Bill 68 and at the same time, negotiating fair and decent settlements with them."

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

MR. GRAHAM STEELE: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition from the employees of the Surf Lodge Nursing Home, who note that their MLA is the member for Shelburne County who, if I remember correctly, won his last election by the toss of a coin. There are in fact 26 employees of the Surf Lodge Nursing Home who petition him and the rest of the government in words that, if I may say, are different than any other petition that I have read tonight. So if I may, it says:

"Whereas the Premier and Minister of Health have continually shown their disregard for the rights of health care workers in Nova Scotia; and

Whereas the Minister of Health has now introduced Bill 68, which will remove the right to strike for 9,000 acute care workers, as well as deny them access to free collective bargaining;

Whereas the right to free collective bargaining is a cornerstone of a free and democratic society;"

We now get to the operative clause, Mr. Speaker: "Therefore be it resolved that we, the undersigned, call on this government to demonstrate their trust in, and respect for, health care workers in Nova Scotia by immediately withdrawing Bill 68 and at the same time, commit to negotiating fair and reasonable settlements with them."

Mr. Speaker, in accordance with the rules, I have affixed my signature to this petition.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable member for Glace Bay.

MR. DAVID WILSON: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition regarding Bill No. 68, the operative clause of which reads, ". . . we, the undersigned, call on this government to demonstrate their trust in, and respect for, health care workers in Nova Scotia by

[Page 5738]

immediately withdrawing Bill 68 and at the same time, negotiating fair and decent settlements with them." The petition bears the names of 20 Nova Scotians and I have affixed my name to the petition.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition on behalf of 24 Nova Scotians who identify themselves as being from communities like Berwick and New Ross and the operative clause of the petition reads, "Therefore be it resolved that we, the undersigned, call on this government to demonstrate their trust in, and respect for, health care workers in Nova Scotia by immediately withdrawing Bill 68 and at the same time, negotiating fair and decent settlements with them." I have, of course, affixed my signature.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton South.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition on Bill No. 68 from nine teachers at Lakeville School on Grand Lake Road in Sydney and I have affixed my signature to this petition. The operative clause reads, "Therefore be it resolved that we, the undersigned, call on this government to demonstrate their trust in, and respect for, health care workers in Nova Scotia by immediately withdrawing Bill 68 and at the same time, negotiating fair and decent settlements with them."

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

MR. GRAHAM STEELE: Mr. Speaker, once again I have the pleasure of tabling a petition from an area of the province that I don't believe we have heard from yet tonight. From the Hants Community Hospital, I beg leave to table a petition of 10 employees, the operative clause of which reads, "Therefore be it resolved that we, the undersigned, call on this government to demonstrate their trust in, and respect for, health care workers in Nova Scotia by immediately withdrawing Bill 68 and at the same time, negotiating fair and decent settlements with them." I have affixed my signature to this petition.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable member for Lunenburg West.

[Page 5739]

MR. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, I would like to table a petition on Bill No. 68 with the operative clause reading, "Therefore be it resolved that we, the undersigned, call on this government to demonstrate their trust in, and respect for, health care workers in Nova Scotia by immediately withdrawing Bill 68 and at the same time, negotiating fair and decent settlements with them." I have affixed my signature to some 70 signatures.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

Order, please. It is obvious that for a lot of these petitions being read, the prayer is the same, and it is obvious that a lot of these have come in together. We have been doing petitions for about an hour. There is an opportunity for members not only to introduce them on behalf of those residents who submitted them, as well to table them. I would ask the honourable members that if they do have petitions in their possession that have the same prayer, that they would present them, please, or table them or else I will move on to the next piece of business.

The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, while I certainly prefer to do them in smaller groups where people are less anonymous, I will be happy to table this group of some 300 names of Nova Scotians, health care workers and others from around the province; workers and their families and friends who have signed the petition that says, "Therefore be it resolved that we, the undersigned, call on this government to demonstrate their trust in, and respect for, health care workers in Nova Scotia by immediately withdrawing Bill 68 and at the same time, negotiating fair and decent settlements with them."

Mr. Speaker, I apologize to members of the House that I have not been on the ball and counted all of the petitions that I have put in but, surely, we are getting near 1,500 to 2,000 petitions from me alone tonight.

MR. SPEAKER: The petitions are tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton South.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a number of petitions from Nova Scotians in various parts of the province and I have affixed my signature to them. There are over 200 names in total and I would just read the operative clause and table them. "Therefore be it resolved that we, the undersigned, call on this government to demonstrate their trust in, and respect for, health care workers in Nova Scotia by immediately withdrawing Bill 68 and at the same time, negotiating fair and decent settlements with them."

MR. SPEAKER: The petitions are tabled.

[Page 5740]

The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, again, while I appreciate that the prayers in many of these petitions are the same, it also demonstrates the breadth and depth of the disgust that people feel with this bill. For example, I will table this petition on behalf of 100 Nova Scotians that was faxed in from the MTT Accounts Receivable Department, if you can believe. The operative clause reads, "Therefore be it resolved that we, the undersigned, call on this government to demonstrate their trust in, and respect for, health care workers in Nova Scotia by immediately withdrawing Bill 68 and at the same time, negotiating fair and decent settlements with them."

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable member for Glace Bay.

MR. DAVID WILSON: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition. The operative clause reads, "Therefore be it resolved that we, the undersigned, call on this government to demonstrate their trust in, and respect for, health care workers in Nova Scotia by immediately withdrawing Bill 68 and at the same time, negotiating fair and decent settlements with them." This petition regarding Bill No. 68 bears the signatures of 205 Nova Scotians and I have affixed my name to it.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

MR. GRAHAM STEELE: Mr. Speaker, if I may say that when one is as snowed under by petitions as we are it is sometimes a little bit difficult to determine if they come from the same place or if, indeed, they say the same thing. But in accordance with your wishes, I have diligently searched for petitions that appear to have the same prayer and, in fact, come from the same place. I have here a set of four from Riverview High School. It appears to be from the staff of Riverview High School and, certainly, with 27 signatures, it must be the entire staff or very nearly the entire staff. The prayer reads, "Therefore be it resolved that we, the undersigned, call on this government to demonstrate their trust in, and respect for, health care workers in Nova Scotia by immediately withdrawing Bill 68 and at the same time, negotiating fair and decent settlements with them." I have affixed my signature to the first of these petitions and beg leave to table all four of them.

MR. SPEAKER: The petitions are tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.

[Page 5741]

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, this is the last of mine. It is from eight Nova Scotians, lab technologists, clerical support personnel who work in the health care sector. This is one of the petitions that refers to the Law Amendments Committee. To refresh your memory, I would suggest the following:

"Whereas the Law Amendments Committee decided on June 20, 2001 that it will conclude its hearings on June 21, 2001 even though all interested persons who contacted the Legislative Counsel Office will not have had an opportunity to make a presentation on Bill 68; and

Whereas there are at least 300 people or more than half of the people registered who will not be heard by the Committee due to this decision; and

Therefore be it resolved that we, the undersigned, call on the Hamm government and the Law Amendments Committee to extend the time available for public presentations so that every interested person has an opportunity to appear before the Committee on Bill 68."

What a great idea. I have affixed my signature to this petition.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, in accordance with your wishes, this will be my last set of petitions, although I do want to assure the House there are, in fact, many more and I will try to do a better job of collating all those from the same area. I notice this one comes from Central Kings Rural High School and other areas adjacent to this. It is signed by 80 Nova Scotians and the operative clause reads, "Therefore be it resolved that we, the undersigned, call on this government to demonstrate their trust in, and respect for, health care workers in Nova Scotia by immediately withdrawing Bill 68 and at the same time, negotiating fair and decent settlements with them." In accordance with the rules, I have affixed my signature. Thank you very much for your patience.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

MR. GRAHAM STEELE: Mr. Speaker, I think it would do us all a service if I were able to take some time to search through the petitions that we have remaining to see if the prayers are the same and they come from the same place. Perhaps this will be the last petition that I read tonight. Perhaps I will go back and do a little bit more work on collating them. I have to say, as the Leader of the Opposition said, the depth and breadth of these petitions has been quite astonishing.

[Page 5742]

This last petition that I have here comes from a branch of the Nova Scotia Teachers Union with the signatures of seven Nova Scotians and they petitioned their government to show respect for health care workers, to withdraw Bill No. 68 and to negotiate fair and decent settlements with the health care workers of Nova Scotia. I am now affixing my signature in accordance with the rules.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

RESOLUTION NO. 1851

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

Whereas this government's "Take What We're Offering You and Shut Up or Else Act" has galvanized health care workers and the public across the province; and

Whereas peaceful protests against this Hamm-fisted legislation have erupted all over and even right-wing commentator, Ernest Cadegan, who finds the bill offensive notes, "I see absolutely no support among my fellow citizens for the course the government has chosen"; and

Whereas the Premier and the Minister of Health have to wonder at the wisdom of their policies when their own staunchest supporters become their critics;

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier and the Minister of Health acknowledge that the public has seen their anti-labour legislation for what it is and end their colossally misleading advertising campaign to sell a bill of goods to the public that they ain't buying.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 5743]

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton South.

RESOLUTION NO. 1852

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

Whereas Francis and Morena Libbus are valued members of the Sydney Lebanese community; and

Whereas Mr. and Mrs. Libbus have contributed much to their community for many years; and

Whereas Mr. and Mrs. Libbus celebrated their 50th Wedding Anniversary with family and friends at the Cedar's Club on June 23, 2001;

[1:15 a.m.]

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly congratulate Francis, also known as Kayo, and Morena Libbus on their 50 years of marriage, and wish them all the best in health and happiness 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 Fairview.

[Page 5744]

RESOLUTION NO. 1853

MR. GRAHAM STEELE: Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas the Board of Directors of the St. Margarets Arena, under the leadership of Chairman, Tim Hill, and Arena Manager, Mike Leroux, held its annual general meeting on Wednesday, June 13th; and

Whereas this group continues to work tirelessly to meet the recreational needs of the surrounding growing community; and

Whereas the board of directors has begun its campaign for the expansion of this facility;

Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia Legislature congratulate and thank Mike Leroux, Tim Hill and the members of the Board of Directors of the St. Margarets Arena for their initiative and dedication.

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 Lunenburg West.

RESOLUTION NO. 1854

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

Whereas on July 27, 1999, the member for Lunenburg was elected as a member of the House of Assembly; and

[Page 5745]

Whereas the Tory blue book states: "Nova Scotians expect their government to conduct the people's business in the open and to provide the public with opportunities for input"; and

Whereas this Tory Government has shown its disdain for this very principle by limiting the number of Nova Scotians making presentations before the Law Amendments Committee;

Therefore be it resolved that the member for Lunenburg vote against Bill No. 68 and apologize to nurses, health care workers and all Nova Scotians for forgetting the proud democratic traditions upon which this great province was born.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.

RESOLUTION NO. 1855

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

Whereas the Black Business Initiative hosted the 2nd Annual Black Business Summit in Halifax from June 20th to June 23rd; and

Whereas the conference provided a forum for Nova Scotia's Black businesses to network and form alliances with other businesses across Canada, the U.S. and the world, producing a prosperous and globally-competitive Black business community; and

Whereas the summit with the theme "Leading Black Business into Economic Prosperity" aims at broadening the traditional range of sectors Black businesses participate in from entertainment and construction to include information technology and the offshore sector;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House congratulate the Black Business Initiative and conference Chairwoman, Barbara Miller Manning for organizing the successful Black Business Summit to showcase Nova Scotian Black entrepreneurs' skills and expose them to new business opportunities.

[Page 5746]

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Leader of the Liberal Party.

RESOLUTION NO. 1856

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

Whereas the member for Colchester North supports a government that wants to dictate to health care workers rather than negotiate; and

Whereas the long-term effects of Bill No. 68 will result in dangerous working conditions and diminished patient care; and

Whereas the biggest threat to patient safety is the attitude of this government;

Therefore be it resolved that the member for Colchester North will be responsible for the destruction of our health care system by supporting Bill No. 68.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

RESOLUTION NO. 1857

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the honourable member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage - I must say I do so with some sadness as this is an individual whom I have met as well - I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas the past week witnessed the death of RCMP Constable George Hawkins from cancer; and

[Page 5747]

Whereas Constable Hawkins was a fixture in the Cole Harbour catchment area, having served in the detachment for 10 years; and

Whereas Constable Hawkins was an active member of the St. Vincent de Paul Parish off the Forest Hills Parkway and will be sorely missed by the community;

Therefore be it resolved that this House express its condolences and deepest sympathy to the family of deceased RCMP Constable George Hawkins; his wife, Valerie; daughters, Brittany and Alicia; their families back in Newfoundland and his co-workers at the Cole Harbour detachment under Inspector Upshaw.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

RESOLUTION NO. 1858

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

Whereas nurses from District Health Authority 9 voted 91 per cent in favour of striking; and

Whereas District Health Authority 9 covers the Cobequid Multi-Service Centre, the Twin Oaks, Eastern Shore, Hants Community, Musquodoboit Valley and the Dartmouth General Hospitals; and

Whereas the introduction of Bill No. 68 no doubt infuriated nurses and prompted them to vote in favour of striking;

Therefore be it resolved that this government show health care workers the respect they deserve and immediately withdraw Bill No. 68.

[Page 5748]

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

RESOLUTION NO. 1859

MR. GRAHAM STEELE: Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the honourable member for Halifax-Chebucto, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas the Minister of Health has admitted that our health care system is so stressed that it cannot afford even one health care worker being absent from the workplace; and

Whereas one result of this chronic shortage in health care workers means existing but exhausted workers have toiled admirably through no breaks and many added hours of overtime to provide care for Nova Scotians, but they can't keep this up forever; and

Whereas the Minister of Health, rather than take adequate measures to alleviate these shortages, is now trying to cast these unacceptable working conditions in stone through the passage of the most regressive anti-worker legislation ever contemplated in this country;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Health take pride in being one of the wrecking balls that demolishes the public health care system in Nova Scotia through his failure to respond to the needs of health care workers.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Victoria.

RESOLUTION NO. 1860

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

[Page 5749]

Whereas the member for Kings West supports a government that wants to dictate to health care workers rather than negotiate; and

Whereas the long-term effects of Bill No. 68 will result in dangerous working conditions and diminished patient care; and

Whereas the biggest threat to patient safety is the attitude of this government;

Therefore be it resolved that the member for Kings West will be responsible for the destruction of our health care system by supporting Bill No. 68.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.

RESOLUTION NO. 1861

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

Whereas Nova Scotians value our dedicated health care workers, as is evident in their letters to members of this House; and

Whereas in a recent e-mail, one such Nova Scotian, who underwent two major surgeries in the last nine months, writes "This bill sends a loud and clear message that we do not value or respect our health care workers"; and

Whereas this Nova Scotian mused, "I wonder if the NSGEU or NSNU were instead called Michelin or Sobeys, would the treatment be the same";

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier and his Minister of Health do the right thing and withdraw Bill No. 68 before irreparable damage is done to our health care system.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 5750]

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Glace Bay.

RESOLUTION NO. 1862

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

Whereas the member for Kings North supports, or I think he does, a government that wants to dictate to health care workers rather than negotiate; and

Whereas the long-term effects of Bill No. 68 will result in dangerous working conditions and diminished patient care; and

Whereas the biggest threat to patient safety is the attitude of this government;

Therefore be it resolved that the member for Kings North will be responsible for the destruction of our health care system by supporting Bill No. 68.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

RESOLUTION NO. 1863

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the honourable member for Cape Breton Centre, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

[Page 5751]

Whereas the Jewish community in Glace Bay established their synagogue in 1901, the same year Glace Bay was incorporated, although their history goes back to the 1890's when Jewish settlers came from Europe in response to ads soliciting coal mine workers; and

Whereas many Jews left the coal mines and moved into retail businesses that provided competition to the infamous company stores; and

Whereas the Congregation Sons of Israel celebrated their 100th Anniversary celebration on May 23rd at the Talmah Torad Auditorium in Glace Bay;

Therefore be it resolved that this House extend shalom to and congratulate the Congregation Sons of Israel on the 100th Anniversary of the establishment of their synagogue in Glace Bay.

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 South.

RESOLUTION NO. 1864

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

Whereas the member for Queens supports a government that wants to dictate to health care workers rather than negotiate; and

Whereas the long-term effects of Bill No. 68 will result in dangerous working conditions and diminished patient care; and

Whereas the biggest threat to patient safety is the attitude of this government;

[Page 5752]

Therefore be it resolved that the member for Queens will be responsible for the destruction of our health care system by supporting Bill No. 68.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

RESOLUTION NO. 1865

MR. GRAHAM STEELE: Mr. Speaker, I would like to propose this resolution in the name of the member for Timberlea-Prospect, who I know to be a proud member of the St. Margarets Bay Lions.

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

Whereas the St. Margarets Bay Lions, on Saturday, June 9, 2001, held their annual Seeing Eye Dog Road Toll at the entrance to the Hubley Centre in Tantallon; and

Whereas during this eight hour voluntary road toll, the Lions raised $3,772.50; and

Whereas these funds will be used by the club to purchase the sixth Seeing Eye dog in the 12-year history of this Lions Club;

Therefore be it resolved that the House of Assembly congratulate the St. Margarets Bay Lions on another successful Seeing Eye Dog Road Toll.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

[Page 5753]

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Lunenburg West.

RESOLUTION NO. 1866

MR. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the honourable member for Cape Breton West, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas the member for Preston supports a government that wants to dictate to health care workers rather than negotiate; and

Whereas the long-term effects of Bill No. 68 will result in dangerous working conditions and diminished patient care; and

Whereas the biggest threat to patient safety is the attitude of this government;

Therefore be it resolved that the member for Preston will be responsible for the destruction of our health care system by supporting Bill No. 68.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.

RESOLUTION NO. 1867

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

[Page 5754]

Whereas in his February 28, 1998, document, "Putting People First", the then wannabe Premier stated that "For five years, the Liberals have governed solely for the sake of the 'bottom line', treating the serious concerns of ordinary people as a mere afterthought."; and

Whereas the "Take What We're Offering You and Shut Up or Else Act" before this House, smacks of nothing other than this Premier aping the Liberals he accused of acting "solely for the sake of the bottom line;" and

Whereas the Premier has not even addressed, as a full afterthought, the serious concerns voiced by health care workers and the public about this bill, and it's clear he's made no effort to consult with them in any form or fashion, preferring confrontation to consultation;

Therefore be it resolved that in light of the Premier's love of sticking to the bottom line and his disdain for the public's serious concerns about his anti-labour bill, he rename his Putting People First document, Pulp Fiction.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

RESOLUTION NO. 1868

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

Whereas the member for Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury supports a government that wants to dictate to health care workers rather than negotiate; and

Whereas the long-term effects of Bill No. 68 will result in dangerous working conditions and diminished patient care; and

Whereas the biggest threat to patient safety is the attitude of this government;

[Page 5755]

[1:30 a.m.]

Therefore be it resolved that the member for Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury will be responsible for the destruction of our health care system by supporting Bill No. 68.

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 Leader of the Opposition.

RESOLUTION NO. 1869

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

Whereas the Minister of Environment and Labour for the province is supposed to protect the rights and privileges of workers in this province; and

Whereas the Minister of Environment and Labour has chosen instead to attack Joan Jessome, President of the NSGEU, on the floor of the House; and

Whereas the Minister of Environment and Labour has chosen to forsake the hard-won rights and collective agreements of health care workers and nurses;

Therefore be it resolved that this House remind the Minister of Environment and Labour what his job is supposed to be and that is protecting workers and not this Tory Government.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

[Page 5756]

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Victoria.

RESOLUTION NO. 1870

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

Whereas Boularderie Consolidated School students donate toys to less fortunate children in Bosnia; and

Whereas the initiative was created by Peter Rogers, a former student of the school, now serving with the Armed Forces in Bosnia; and

Whereas the children of the school are including with the toys such things as pictures, along with cards and letters written to the children of Bosnia;

Therefore be it resolved that the House of Assembly congratulate the students of Boularderie Consolidated School and organizer Peter Rogers for their efforts in helping underprivileged children in Bosnia.

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 Fairview.

RESOLUTION NO. 1871

MR. GRAHAM STEELE: Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the honourable member for Halifax Chebucto, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

[Page 5757]

Whereas the member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley has been known to be at odds with his Premier and to speak his mind in this hallowed Chamber; and

Whereas that member has been strangely silent, considering the "Take What We're Offering You and Shut Up or Else Act", threatens to kick the stuffing out of many of his constituents who surely have pointed this out to him; and

Whereas that member's take charge attitude could surely be useful in rallying his fidgeting fellow backbenchers together in a show of support against this insidious bill;

Therefore be it resolved that the member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley do what is right by his constituents and lead a backbench revolt against the Premier and Minister of Health to stop Bill No. 68.

Mr. Speaker, I have given serious consideration to requesting waiver, but I think it is worthy of debate, so I will not.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Glace Bay.

RESOLUTION NO. 1872

MR. DAVID WILSON: Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the honourable member for Cape Breton The Lakes, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas the honourable member for Chester-St. Margaret's supports a government that wants to dictate to health care workers rather than negotiate; and

Whereas the long-term effects of Bill No. 68 will result in dangerous working conditions and diminished patient care; and

Whereas the biggest threat to patient safety is the attitude of this government;

Therefore be it resolved that the honourable member for Chester-St. Margaret's will be responsible for the destruction of our health care system by supporting Bill No. 68.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 5758]

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.

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

Whereas statistical studies indicate a severe shortage of qualified laboratory technologists, the third largest group of medical professionals; and

Whereas Nova Scotia is in the most precarious situation of all provinces due to a lack of a training program since the program was cut in 1996, it has the largest percentage of technologists eligible to retire and an aging population to require more testing; and

Whereas such a shortage will result in serious health risks to all Nova Scotians as medical laboratory test results are essential in 70 per cent of all medical decisions made by physicians;

Therefore be it resolved that this government heed the call for action issued by the Canadian Society of Medical Laboratory Science and the Nova Scotia Society of Medical Laboratory Technologists and act immediately to avert the impending human resources disaster facing the laboratory technology profession in Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I believe the notice is a bit too long.

The honourable member for Cape Breton South.

RESOLUTION NO. 1873

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

Whereas the honourable member for Yarmouth supports a government that wants to dictate to health care workers rather than negotiate; and

Whereas the long-term effects of Bill No. 68 will result in dangerous working conditions and diminished patient care; and

[Page 5759]

Whereas the biggest threat to patient safety is the attitude of this government;

Therefore be it resolved that the member for Yarmouth will be responsible for the destruction of our health care system by supporting Bill No. 68.

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 Leader of the Opposition.

RESOLUTION NO. 1874

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas Angela Greencorn, a health record technician at the QE II recently wrote to the Premier and the Cabinet that "we have not become involved in health care to harm or contribute to the harm of other people - just the opposite"; and

Whereas she writes that she has been in this field for 13 years and has worked through three mergers and that like other health care workers she has "made many compromises, accepted rollbacks and low raises that do not even match the cost of living increases"; and

Whereas she wants to know if "being employed in the health industry means that I am automatically excluded from your concerns?";

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier and his Minister of Health start listening to the concerns of hard-working, dedicated and reliable health care voters and allow them to freely negotiate an acceptable collective agreement.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 5760]

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Lunenburg West.

RESOLUTION NO. 1875

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

Whereas the member for Annapolis supports a government that wants to dictate to health care workers rather than negotiate; and

Whereas the long-term effects of Bill No. 68 will result in dangerous working conditions and diminished patient care; and

Whereas the biggest threat to patient safety is the attitude of this government;

Therefore be it resolved that the member for Annapolis will be responsible for the destruction of our health care system by supporting Bill No. 68.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

RESOLUTION NO. 1876

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

Whereas votes from health care locals rolled in from all over the province indicating massive support for a strike against this government's Hamm-fisted offers of settlement; and

Whereas the largest strike vote came from health care workers at the Colchester Regional Hospital; and

Whereas the Minister of Health must take heart from the fact that health care workers in his own riding have so overwhelmingly rejected this government's offer and the harsh tonic he wishes to legislate;

[Page 5761]

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Health consider the message for his political future, when his own constituents at Colchester General Hospital have led the province in rejecting this government's contract offer to health care workers.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

RESOLUTION NO. 1877

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

Whereas the member for Pictou East supports a government that wants to dictate to health care workers rather than negotiate; and

Whereas the long-term effects of Bill No. 68 will result in dangerous working conditions and diminished patient care; and

Whereas the biggest threat to patient safety is the attitude of this government;

Therefore be it resolved that the member for Pictou East will be responsible for the destruction of our health care system by supporting Bill No. 68.

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 Halifax Atlantic.

RESOLUTION NO. 1878

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

[Page 5762]

Whereas over the past decade cuts to our health care system at the hands of successive Tory and Liberal Governments have decimated our health care system; and

Whereas the massive debt this Tory Government says it has to solve now has been accumulating for three decades; and

Whereas in this government's own words "We know there is more to be done. It can't be done overnight . . ." and "We are committed to continuing to make improvements - together";

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier recognize that decades of accumulated debt cannot be wiped clean overnight, and that working together to that end does not mean stripping away the rights of Nova Scotian health care workers, and ultimately forcing contracts down their throats all in the name of the bottom line.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Glace Bay.

RESOLUTION NO. 1879

MR. DAVID WILSON: Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the honourable member for Cape Breton The Lakes, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas the member for Cape Breton North supports a government that wants to dictate to health care workers rather than negotiate; and

Whereas the long-term effects of Bill No. 68 will result in dangerous working conditions and diminished patient care; and

Whereas the biggest threat to patient safety is the attitude of this government;

Therefore be it resolved that the member for Cape Breton North will be responsible for the destruction of our health care system by supporting Bill No. 68.

[Page 5763]

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

RESOLUTION NO. 1880

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the honourable member for Cape Breton Centre, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas Premier Blue Book has talked the hard line with health care workers since this Legislature was called back into session to pass the "Take What We're Offering You and Shut Up or Else Act"; and

Whereas the Premier's hard-nosed attitude, uncompromising tone and single-minded purpose may have its place, but not in the arena of delicate labour negotiations; and

Whereas Nova Scotians grow ever more worried as they watch the Premier flog health care workers and wonder how badly he will damage our fragile health care system if he continues his course;

Therefore be it resolved that Nova Scotians pray that Hamm can be cured and an unsuitable legislated answer to contract negotiations may yet be averted.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton South.

[Page 5764]

RESOLUTION NO. 1881

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

Whereas the member for Pictou West supports a government that wants to dictate to health care workers rather than negotiate; and

Whereas the long-term effects of Bill No. 68 will result in dangerous working conditions and diminished patient care; and

Whereas the biggest threat to patient safety is the attitude of this government;

Therefore be it resolved that the member for Pictou West will be responsible for the destruction of our health care system by supporting Bill No. 68.

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 Halifax Fairview.

RESOLUTION NO. 1882

MR. GRAHAM STEELE: Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the honourable member for Halifax Needham, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas the Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party, now the Premier, declared in the Chronicle Herald on May 28, 1999, that casualization has not had an anticipated saving for the health care system, that in fact it "has cost the health care system more, not just in money terms, but in terms of quality patient care"; and

Whereas he chided the Liberal Government for forcing casual nurses to work at more than one job and without benefits, stating "they often work back-to-back shifts for days at a time, compromising care and the profession"; and

[Page 5765]

Whereas two years later, many nursing positions are still casualized and district health authorities admit that without mandatory overtime the health care system simply can't function;

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier heed his own words, eliminate casualization of nursing positions and create fair and safe working conditions for nurses that don't compromise their health and well-being.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: That notice is too long.

[The notice is tabled.]

The honourable Leader of the Liberal Party.

RESOLUTION NO. 1883

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

Whereas the member for Shelburne supports a government that wants to dictate to health care workers rather than negotiate; and

Whereas the long-term effects of Bill No. 68 will result in dangerous working conditions and diminished patient care; and

Whereas the biggest threat to patient safety is the attitude of this government;

Therefore be it resolved that the member for Shelburne will be responsible for the destruction of our health care system by supporting Bill No. 68.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.

RESOLUTION NO. 1884

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

[Page 5766]

Whereas John Hamm believes that a tax cut will make Nova Scotia more attractive to outside investment; and

Whereas positioning his finances for a tax cut via Bill No. 68 will mean an increasing exodus of nurses and other health care professionals; and

Whereas this exodus will lead to a disastrous erosion of the medical system in Nova Scotia, making it even less attractive to prospective immigrants, who bring long-term outside investment;

Therefore be it resolved that this government admit that its policy of starving the medical workers in order to reward investors is fundamentally flawed and simply will not work.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

RESOLUTION NO. 1885

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

Whereas the member for Dartmouth South supports a government that wants to dictate to health care workers rather than negotiate; and

Whereas the long-term effects of Bill No. 68 will result in dangerous working conditions and diminished patient care; and

[1:45 a.m.]

Whereas the biggest threat to patient safety is the attitude of this government;

Therefore be it resolved that the member for Dartmouth South rethink his position and not be responsible for the destruction of our health care system by supporting Bill No. 68.

[Page 5767]

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

RESOLUTION NO. 1886

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the honourable member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas in an article in The Chronicle-Herald on May 28, 1999, the Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party, then soon to be Premier, urged the Liberal Government "to make the nursing shortage a priority"; and

Whereas he went on to argue that the government "must immediately commit to involving the profession, in a meaningful way, in retaining, retraining and recruitment - and support these efforts with real dollars"; and

Whereas he remarked further of nurses that "I hope they will continue to work in Nova Scotia.";

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier think back on his own words of support for nurses and start implementing fair, effective policies to retain and recruit nurses in and for Nova Scotia.

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.

[Page 5768]

The honourable member for Glace Bay.

RESOLUTION NO. 1887

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

Whereas the honourable member for Halifax Bedford Basin proved several nights ago that she certainly knows some unparliamentary words; and

Whereas the honourable member for Halifax Bedford Basin doesn't, at first glance, appear to be the type of person to frequently use such language; and

Whereas those unparliamentary words were said to the member for Cape Breton South;

Therefore be it resolved that the honourable member for Halifax Bedford Basin should apologize to the good member for Cape Breton South because I think she hurt his feelings.

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 Halifax Fairview.

RESOLUTION NO. 1888

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

Whereas the honourable member for Kings North absented himself from the Legislative Chamber for the vote on second reading of the contentious Bill No. 68 and also on the Committee of the Whole House on Bills, I might add; and

Whereas the member has stated that he wishes to hear the views and concerns of the constituents who elected him before he casts his vote; and

[Page 5769]

Whereas it's apparent the Premier wouldn't let him attend last Wednesday's rally by health care workers at the Valley Regional Hospital, where the workers voiced their concerns about this government's disdainful treatment of the province's health care workers;

Therefore be it resolved that the honourable member for Kings North do like ET and phone home for a briefing on the recently held rally, where members of his constituency voiced their concerns loud and clear and take these to heart as he prepares to cast his vote on the third reading of Bill No. 68.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Lunenburg West.

RESOLUTION NO. 1889

MR. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the honourable member for Cape Breton West, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas on July 27, 1999, the honourable member for Eastern Shore was elected as a member of the House of Assembly; and

Whereas the Tory blue book states: "Nova Scotians expect their government to conduct the people's business in the open and to provide the public with opportunities for input"; and

Whereas this Tory Government has shown its disdain for this very principle by limiting the number of Nova Scotians making presentations before the Law Amendments Committee;

Therefore be it resolved that the honourable member for Eastern Shore vote against Bill No. 68 and apologize to the nurses and health care workers and all Nova Scotians for forgetting the proud, democratic tradition upon which this great province was born.

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 Halifax Atlantic.

[Page 5770]

RESOLUTION NO. 1890

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

Whereas essential workers in some other jurisdictions do not have the right to strike; and

Whereas binding arbitration is used in such situations to provide a resolution to unsuccessful negotiations through the use of a third party; and

Whereas this government has no mandate from the people of Nova Scotia to dictate, unilaterally, through Cabinet, the contracts of thousands of their friends, relatives and neighbours;

Therefore be it resolved that this government admit it is acting outside its mandate, given to it by the electorate, scrap Bill No. 68 and allow negotiations to resume.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

RESOLUTION NO. 1891

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

Whereas the arrogance and disrespect for the health care workers of this province and for all Nova Scotians shown by the Premier and his Cabinet is utterly appalling; and

Whereas the Tory backbenchers weekend reprieve from the House allowed them to hear from their constituents on Bill No. 68 and to reflect on the wisdom of the Hamm-fisted legislation under consideration in the House; and

[Page 5771]

Whereas among the constituents of Dartmouth South are health care workers who are frustrated and angered by this government's short-sighted insistence on ramming the Premier's "Take What We're Offering You and Shut Up or Else Act" through the House;

Therefore be it resolved that the member for Dartmouth South work with his backbench colleagues to bring to the Premier and his Cabinet the views and concerns of their constituents whose support is clearly behind the health care workers of the province.

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.

ORDERS OF THE DAY

ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS

MR. SPEAKER: Question Period will be begin at 1:51 a.m. and will end at 2:51 a.m.

The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

GOV'T. (N.S.) - NEGOTIATIONS: POLICY - DETAILS

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, in case any Nova Scotian still thought that this government had a plan, the Premier set them right earlier tonight. He made it clear that he is making up government policy as he goes along when, in a media scrum, he tried to avoid tough questions about Bill No. 68 by saying he has far worse and more far-reaching legislation planned for this fall. There is no mandate, no consultation and there is no comprehension of a century of efforts to recognize the dignity of human labour. I want to ask the Premier how it is that in the 51 pages of his election platform the only mention of essential services is a promise of investments in essential services such as health and education, and not a word about his plan to dictate instead of negotiate?

HON. JOHN HAMM (The Premier): Mr. Speaker, I think if anybody looked with any degree of insight into the platform of the Progressive Conservative Party, which resulted in their election in July 1999, they would have realized that the government has a very complete plan for delivering fiscal responsibility back to the Province of Nova Scotia, something that, unfortunately, has been far too lacking in recent years. I believe that what we are doing in an

[Page 5772]

attempt to coordinate the growth and the cost of the delivery of service with the growth and the revenues of the Province of Nova Scotia is part and parcel of the plan that we have here. So, the member opposite should not be surprised that we are doing exactly what we said we were going to do, balancing expenditures and revenues.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, Nova Scotians thought it was only in the early days of the last century that all force of government was brutally used to make people swallow the wages and working conditions that were being dictated by the employers. Right across the country, whenever governments have deemed a group of workers to be so essential that the right to strike must be denied, those workers are given the right to free and independent resolution of labour disputes. Without a free and fair and independent resolution of disputes, workers endure dictatorship instead of negotiation as equals with their employer. I want to ask the Premier why it is that the policy of his government and his government alone is to dictate and impose contracts of employment?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, it is obvious that I disagree with the member opposite, that it should be that a prolonged strike in the health care sector is a legitimate negotiating tool. Obviously, that member believes that, I don't.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, voters thought they were getting a mild country doctor but, instead, they have gotten a Premier who seems to believe that the purpose of this Legislature is to enact and enforce his personal opinions, not his Party's platform, not the wishes of Nova Scotians and not sound public policy. Premier, you did not promise Nova Scotians that you would launch a divisive and backward attack on working people, starting with nurses and other health care providers, and if you had you would not be Premier today. I want to ask the Premier why it is the policy of his government to dictate instead of negotiate, and how can Nova Scotians trust him to ever put a limit on the dictatorial powers he seeks?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, it had been the intention of this government to reach a negotiated settlement with both unions. For that very reason, we put an offer on the table which, viewed in light of the financial resources of this province, can be considered to be very fair. As a matter of fact, many of the workers in those groups are receiving the largest single offer that has been made by this province to a private sector group in over a decade. I believe that is fair.

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

GOV'T. (N.S.) - LEG.: ESSENTIAL SERV. - INTENTIONS

MR. WAYNE GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Premier. Earlier this evening we heard of yet another agenda of this government, one that involves tabling essential services legislation sometime in the fall or, perhaps, next spring. While the Premier

[Page 5773]

is once again being vague in his intentions, the Minister of Health mentioned liquor store workers may be included, which some would question as being essential. Given that the Premier has had a few hours to think about it, my question is, could he now give us some indication as to which services will be covered in this upcoming piece of legislation?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I can assure the member opposite that all of the information he is looking for will be made available to him when the bill briefing on the essential services bill is held.

MR. GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, I guess I am going to have to wait. Bill No. 68 has been a disaster, and this Premier knows it, the Cabinet knows it and the backbenchers know it as well. My question to the Premier is, will the Premier confirm here and now that this legislation will not be a repeat of Bill No. 68, which gives Cabinet the power to dictate settlements?

THE PREMIER: Yes.

MR. GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, everyone knows that this government overshot their target, and are now looking at ways to retreat and distance themselves from Bill No. 68. My question to the Premier is, is this simply a trial balloon to divert attention away from Bill No. 68 and the current crisis he has created?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, no it is not an attempt to divert attention from what is a very serious situation facing this province, that is an impending health sector strike. On the other hand, this government inherited a negotiation process with which it does not agree. This government does not agree with the right of essential service providers in the health care delivery system to strike. It is a very simple issue. There is a better way to allow health care sector workers to have an unfettered process in which to settle disputes between employer and employee.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

HEALTH - OPINION POLL: RESPONSIBILITY - EXPLAIN

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, this government commissioned a poll more than a month ago to determine public sentiment in the event that it brought forward Bill No. 68. The Premier said today that he hasn't heard a thing about this poll, but over the past few weeks he has used language right out of the poll questions, this includes the claim that the nurses would be the highest paid in the region, and language in the poll is remarkably similar to the Premier's advertising campaign. I want to ask the Premier to explain who in government commissioned the poll, and how it came to form the basis of his anti-nurse strategy without him ever knowing about it?

[Page 5774]

THE PREMIER: The member opposite did articulate the information that was available from the poll by the Premier, very accurately, but I will refer the question to the Minister of Human Resources, who can enlighten somewhat the member opposite.

[2:00 a.m.]

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, Corporate Research Associates were engaged by the former government in 1993, when the Savage Government at the time signed a contract to receive (Interruption) the omnibus (Interruption)

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

MR. RUSSELL: . . . to receive the omnibus quarterly reports and as a part of that contract, which is common for all users of Corporate Research, you are entitled to have six questions included in one of the quarterly polls, which they did.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, the question for this poll had to be available to the company much earlier in order to be used in mid-May because CRA was in the field on May 18th. This is a telling detail that reveals very clearly that this government was thinking of legislating a wage settlement and taking away the right to strike even as it continued the charade of collective bargaining. I want to ask the Premier to answer the charge that it was his intention all along to bring in this anti-labour legislation and that his government has bargained with health care workers in bad faith?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, what I can say to the member opposite is that the decision-making process which resulted in Bill No. 68 was not made with the information that the poll provides available to members of the Cabinet.

MR. DEXTER: That is very interesting, Mr. Speaker, because just before helping to bring down the previous Liberal Government, John Hamm said that polls would not guide his actions, and after the election we learned that he was polling Tory support for months before making that claim. We saw the same thing today when the Premier claimed his government wasn't interested in the results of its Bill No. 68 poll. So my question to the Premier is this, if you have no interest in polling results, why are you doing so much polling?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, again, I will refer to the minister opposite who can remind the member that this is the result of a long-term contract and actually, it is not polling, it is research.

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, if government is going to operate effectively it has to have good data, and I would suggest that any government that doesn't research the market before it takes on any new programs or any new initiatives, then they are operating in a vacuum.

[Page 5775]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Glace Bay.

PREMIER - CORPORATE RESEARCH:

POLL QUESTIONS - DETAILS

MR. DAVID WILSON: Mr. Speaker, the Leader of the Opposition didn't get any real answers from the government on polling, so I will be pleased to give it a shot.

It was just a few weeks ago in this House, May 23rd to be exact, that the Minister of Health rose in his place to talk about honesty. He said, "In attracting and retaining a nursing workforce, as well as other health care professionals, it is important the province be honest with people."

It is a funny thing, the definition of honesty in this government, because guess what was happening at the same time the minister was preaching about honesty? While this government was supposedly dealing in good faith with the Nova Scotia Nurses' Union, they were also polling Nova Scotians and testing out their messages regarding just how shabbily they were actually going to treat the health care workers in this province. Yet, today, the Minister of Health and the Premier claimed they knew nothing about polling questions despite the similarity between those questions and the legislation and communications spin that emerged a month later.

So my question, Mr. Speaker, is for the Premier. On whose authority and direction were the questions added to the poll?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I refer that to the minister responsible.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, the Priorities and Planning Department, when they received the request from Corporate Research to have questions included in the poll, then within Priorities and Planning Committee, they go out to the various departments and ask them if there is any data that they would like to have obtained through the next poll. It is common that all departments have had questions asked in the research of the quarterly polling done by Corporate Research. It was no different when they were in power. As a matter of fact, there was one underway in the Department of Environment when I went there, actually commissioned by these people.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

The honourable member for Glace Bay, it is his turn to have the questions.

MR. WILSON: Mr. Speaker, this is totally unacceptable. The Premier is the CEO of this province. He is the head honcho and he should know, if he doesn't, he should know exactly what is going on in any department, but especially in his own office. It is

[Page 5776]

unacceptable that the Premier does not know. His staff have known since Sunday that the poll was leaked. He has had the time to find out on whose authority those questions were asked. My question again, will the Premier rule out at this time that the questions were added to the poll at the request of someone in his own office? Yes or no?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I can say to the member opposite that the answer I gave still stands. Until I was informed by the media that such a poll existed, until I was provided information by the media person as to what the poll contained, I had no previous information as to the existence or the contents of the poll.

MR. WILSON: The Premier now knows but is not telling this House and Nova Scotians the truth. That is what he should be telling them right now. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member for Glace Bay would know full well that he is suggesting that the Premier told something that was an untruth, I would ask him to retract that, please. Put the final question, please.

MR. WILSON: I will retract that comment and I have used this line before. I am not saying the Premier isn't telling the truth, but I have a picture of him with his pants on fire, Mr. Speaker. What I am saying here is that taxpayers' money was used for this poll with obviously political questions that were attached, despite that Premier's promise that that would not occur on his watch. That would not occur on his watch. Will the Premier commit to reporting to this House then before third reading of Bill No. 68 is completed, on just whose authority those questions were added? Yes or no?

THE PREMIER: I refer that to the minister responsible.

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, this is the copy of the omnibus poll, if the honourable member would care, I am quite willing to table it. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member for Glace Bay, you had your third question. The honourable Minister for Human Resources has the floor.

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, it was no secret that we had negotiations coming up with many unions. Obviously, the Public Service Commission, or the Department of Human Resources as it was at the time when the questions were commissioned, wanted to know what the opinions were of Nova Scotians. They wished to collect data and they got it. I will table a copy of it.

[Page 5777]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

P & P - CORPORATE RESEARCH:

POLL QUESTIONS - APPROVAL DETAILS

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, polling questions and research do not materialize out of thin air - they are rehearsed and practised. We know that if Priorities and Planning were placing questions on a poll through CRA they had to be written and approved by someone. So, my question to the Minister of Human Resources is, who wrote the questions for the poll and which minister approved them before they went on?

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Human Resources has two questions if he would like to answer one.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I would be the minister who would approve them and the actual person who wrote the questions or developed the questions because I think the questions are submitted to Corporate Research, that actually takes the information that you want to get and design it into a question. I can find out that name for you. I don't know who it would be within the department, whether it would be one of the staff.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, I think it is now becoming obvious to everyone in Nova Scotia that the Minister of Human Resources, the person charged with the responsibility to oversee the bargaining with these workers, the minister who was in charge of quarterbacking the negotiations with these workers, knew in advance that he was going down this road. So I want to ask the Minister of Human Resources, when is it that you decided to share this information with other Cabinet Ministers, and which ones did you share it with?

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I don't know if this information was shared with other Cabinet Ministers. The information was obviously utilized in developing the legislation that came forward. As I said, we were out to obtain data and we were out to obtain more information, the same as has been done in every department right across this government since 1993. As I contribute that to the omnibus quarterly surveys, you have that opportunity to put in questions; you can put in questions about the environment, about the collection and recycling of garbage, et cetera . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, I don't think the Minister of Human Resources understands. He put on a poll, questions were designed to gauge public support for the purpose of undermining the collective bargaining position of the government and of the workers with which he was supposed to be negotiating in good faith. I want to ask the Minister of Human Resources if he now understands that the actions that he has taken have completely undermined the confidence that working people in this province, that health care

[Page 5778]

workers, who rely on this government to deal with them in good faith, have in their ability to effectively negotiate a free collective agreement with this government?

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I can't believe the ignorance of the honourable member. How on earth can asking questions of the public influence public opinion? We went out to obtain data, and if we didn't go out and obtain data, we would be remiss in doing what we are supposed to be doing.

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

HEALTH - STRIKE: CONTINGENCY PLAN - MISTRUST EXPLAIN

MR. WAYNE GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Premier. Late Sunday, the NSGEU and the Capital District Health Authority reached an agreement for provision of emergency services in the event of a strike. Management and labour are happy with the agreement, but this government is not. The union wants the government to withdraw Bill No. 68 so negotiations can continue in good faith. My question to the Premier is, why doesn't the government trust the contingency plan agreed upon by both management and labour?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the government is dealing with more than one union. The government is dealing with a negotiation process which, even if well carried out, will be detrimental to the health of the people of Nova Scotia. A strike, by its very being, even if well managed, even if there is a good contingency plan, will be delivered at the expense of the health of Nova Scotians, and the government is not prepared to allow that to happen.

MR. GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, the Premier just doesn't get it. The unions and management have given this government the assurance that services will be covered in the event of a strike. The Capital District Health Authority is satisfied, and the NSGEU is satisfied. My question to the Premier is, why is the government adamant on pushing through this heavy-handed legislation without even considering more reasonable approaches, like binding arbitration?

[2:15 a.m.]

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I believe that the people of Nova Scotia have a right to 100 per cent of the health care system 100 per cent of the time.

MR. GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, during this labour crisis, the government has produced more spin than a washing machine. Health and safety was the first line, then it was about money and now new information suggests the government is basing its spin on polling information. My question to the Premier is simple. What is the real spin, Mr. Premier, is it health and safety, is it money, or is your message simply based on polling?

[Page 5779]

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the health delivery system, under a strike situation, cannot deliver acceptable health care to the people of Nova Scotia. That is why, when strike notice was served, we watched what was happening and we made a calculation as to how we could, in fact, prevent a strike by health care workers because we knew it would be detrimental to the health care delivery system. Unfortunately, because there seems to be so much interest in debating this bill, we will have a strike, but fortunately, it will be a short strike.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.

HEALTH - ESSENTIAL SERV. AGREEMENT:

BILL NO. 68 - WITHDRAW

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I would like to direct my question through you to the Premier. We are going to have a strike and it is obvious that it is because this Premier and this Cabinet have been planning a strike for the last two months. The poll information that was released earlier this week proves it. I want to ask the Premier (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic has the floor.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I want to ask the Premier, last week, when Bill No. 68 was tabled, the Premier was wringing his hands and saying, we have to do this for public safety because he said that the unions and the employer weren't able to reach an essential services agreement. Today, we understand that the capital district group and the NSGEU have in fact reached an agreement on essential services that they are both satisfied with. I want to ask the Premier, given the fact that a board that he has appointed is satisfied that essential services will be delivered, why doesn't he agree that Bill No. 68 is not necessary and agree to withdraw it here and now?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, unlike the member for Halifax Atlantic, I do not believe that the people of Nova Scotia who require health care should be a bargaining chip. Now that member disagrees. He feels that a strike by the health care sector is okay. He feels that delivering, for a prolonged period of time, 50 per cent of the capacity of the health care delivery system is okay. We obviously don't agree on that. If you are going to have a strike, you must be prepared for a prolonged strike. A prolonged strike would be very disadvantageous for many Nova Scotians and this government is not going to allow that.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: I will tell the Premier what, Mr. Speaker, through you, the difference between the Premier and I is that the Premier is convinced that he knows it all. The Premier, in fact, doesn't have to ask anybody for information, like his own appointed district health authority, which has said that they are convinced that essential services can be

[Page 5780]

handled under this agreement and that they can participate in free and open collective bargaining with their health care workers. I want to ask the Premier, why doesn't he trust the people he appointed to be the employer of these health care workers and why doesn't he admit to them that there is no business of them even being there doing their job?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I would remind the member opposite that not only do we have an impending strike that involves technical people, we have the possibility of strikes across the province involving the nursing profession. To interrupt the legislation would not give us the protection that we would need in the event that those strikes go forward. The member opposite knows that. He knows full well that we are not just dealing with one unit, we are dealing with a very complex series of groups of professionals that in fact provide essential service for the health care delivery service, and he knows that once those services are cut back dramatically, Nova Scotians will suffer.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, the Premier told us that Bill No. 68 was designed to deal with the Nova Scotia Government Employees Union, health care workers employed by the Capital District Health Authority, the Nova Scotia Nurses' Union. Now the truth is coming out, that Bill No. 68 is about imposing the will of this government on all health care workers from one end of this province to the other. I want to ask the Premier to explain to health care workers why he is so determined to impose his will - and I am talking about his will - on health care workers instead of allowing them to negotiate freely with their employer, his own appointed district health authorities.

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I was disappointed when the decision was made to have a strike vote rather than to go forward with more negotiations. It was our intention that this would be settled at the negotiation table. That is why we, up front, put in front of the group the largest single offer that we have ever made to a public sector group, in fact the largest single offer that was ever made in the last decade to any public sector group in this province.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Glace Bay.

PREMIER - CORPORATE RESEARCH:

POLLING - AWARENESS EXPLAIN

MR. DAVID WILSON: Mr. Speaker, this is not the first time that the Conservative Government has used taxpayers' dollars to pay for public opinion polling.

This is the story off the CBC Web site dated February 23, 2000, when CBC News learned that Nova Scotia taxpayers were paying thousands of dollars on public opinion polling for the Conservative Government. The story quotes John Hamm - who had a far different opinion of polling when he was campaigning during the election - when he dismissed polls as old-style politics. At that time he said "The time for doing what the polls suggest is right has passed."

[Page 5781]

Now, we have just heard the Minister of Human Resources admit that this poll was used to design the legislation, Bill No. 68. That is what it was used for; that is what he admitted. My question to the Premier now, which is it, Mr. Premier, did you know about it or did you not know about it?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, you have already heard me answer that question a few minutes ago. The answer hasn't changed. This minister, this Premier didn't know about that poll. I have also heard the Minister of Health indicate publicly that he didn't know about the poll. The real objection I have to the question, other than the repetitiveness of the question, is the fact that the member opposite is providing, by way of his question, a misinterpretation of what previous answers have indicated in Question Period.

MR. WILSON: Mr. Speaker, we will go back to Hansard and we will check exactly what it says, and I guarantee you it will show that the Minister of Human Resources said that the language in that legislation is the same as came from that polling, the exact same language is in the legislation and it is in that bill.

Now the Premier of this province is trying to tell us that he, as the top banana in this province, doesn't know where the information came from for legislation that is coming before this House. Unbelievable. I will ask the Premier a very simple question, again. Did you know on whose authority those questions were asked? A simple question, Mr. Premier, come clean with Nova Scotians and let us know.

THE PREMIER: No.

MR. WILSON: Mr. Speaker, as some are saying over there, I will come back at this as much as I possibly can to finally get the truth out of this Premier and this government as to what is going on with this polling. I have asked the question many times, and I know I can't be repetitive in Question Period, but we have to.

We have now learned that the Premier of this province has no control over what is being done in the back room and what is being done by his other ministers. That is the whole issue right here. That polling was done; the language is exactly the same. I want to know, and Nova Scotians want to know, is this Premier ever going to tell us who was responsible for adding those questions, and who is responsible for this polling being done, Mr. Premier?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, you already have a commitment from the Minister of Human Resources that he will provide the name of that person who designed the information that found itself as part of that omnibus survey.

[Page 5782]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

HEALTH - CARE WORKERS: GOV'T. (N.S.) - ADS COST

MR. GRAHAM STEELE: Mr. Speaker, I want to revisit the question of the Premier's advertising campaign against health care workers. This is the campaign where the Premier is breaking another election commitment and spending more than $7,000 a day in taxpayers' money on partisan ads. According to Communications Nova Scotia, the tally for these ads as of Friday is $65,200 and climbing every day. Union leaders and health care workers tell us these ads are increasing their mistrust for the government because, very simply, they are inaccurate. The workers say these ads are inflaming an already tense situation. My question to the Minister of Health is simple, what communications have you had from district health authorities asking your department to pull these ads because they are impeding negotiations?

HON. JAMES MUIR: None.

MR. STEELE: Mr. Speaker, the minister knows that is not true. The minister knows that is not true. (Interruptions) He can stand in this House and tell an untruth, and I can't stand up here and say it without being unparliamentary. That minister knows that that answer is not true. These ads, these misleading, partisan ads have cost taxpayers $65,000 and counting. The money is being spent on an ad campaign that is having the effect of hampering negotiations, and that minister knows it and this Premier knows it. I want to ask the Premier why is he stubbornly persisting with these costly ads when it is clear that they are inflaming an already tense situation and impeding negotiations?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I believe that the people of Nova Scotia have a right to know that on their behalf we made an offer to the health sector workers that is the highest offer that has been made in over a decade to any public sector group. I believe the people of Nova Scotia have a right to know that as a result of this offer, the nursing group will be the highest paid in Atlantic Canada. I believe the people of Nova Scotia have a right to know that $100 million is being directed to these groups to give them a raise. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. STEELE: Mr. Speaker, there is something catching over there, because the Minister of Health started by speaking untruths, and the Premier knows that those ads are misleading. He knows they are misleading and yet he persists in placing them in the daily papers at a cost of $65,000 and counting, after he personally committed in the campaign that there would be no more of this kind of advertising under his government. I want to ask the Premier, why would you choose to spend $65,000 of the nurses' and health care professionals' money of badly-needed health care dollars on advertising instead of on health care workers? Why would you spend that money?

[Page 5783]

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, that is a good question, and it is a fair question. In negotiations between employer and employees, it is not an unusual thing, even in the private sector, for both sides to make their case known to the public by way of paid media advertising. I think it is even more appropriate, when the taxpayers are paying the bill, they know exactly what is being done with their money. The taxpayers have a right to know.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Lunenburg West.

FIN. - RESTRUCTURING FUND:

WAGE SETTLEMENTS - ALLOTMENT DETAILS

MR. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Premier, in light of the fact that the Minister of Finance is not here. Last week, the Minister of Finance said that he divided $73 million for wage settlements among departments from the original $126 million allocated for the restructuring fund. That still leaves $53 million in the budget for the restructuring fund, this year, that could be used for salaries. My question for the Premier, could the Premier inform the House the amount of the $126 million that will be directed towards wage settlements this year?

[2:30 a.m.]

THE PREMIER: While I might be able to, with great certainty, answer that question, I will, however, take it under advisement.

MR. DOWNE: I am not surprised. Either he doesn't know, again, or he just doesn't want to tell us. I will try the Premier one more time.

The Premier keeps claiming poverty, but we know there is at least $126 million that could be used for wage settlements. If the Premier is accurate, that there is no more money for health care workers, he should table how much of the $126 million has been used for wage settlements.

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I recall, on many occasions, members of that caucus, when they were government, indicating very clearly they would not negotiate on the floor of the House. That will be the way of this government as well because, obviously, we can't do that. On the other hand, it is extremely difficult to field a question from a member, who on one day, is saying that the government should be paring even more aggressively than it is and should be balancing the budget even more quickly than it is, then, in the next breath, indicating there is all kinds of money in the budget for wage settlements. The member on one day has one view, on another day, has another view. When will the real member stand up?

MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, I will make it simpler for the Premier, maybe he can understand this. This government has received $756 million in unanticipated revenue since

[Page 5784]

they have taken office; $0.75 billion. There is $126 million in a slush fund divided among several departments. If the Finance Minister didn't budget properly for wage settlements, then it is his fault and his fault only. Given the inability of the Finance Minister to properly allocate $0.66 billion, how can the Premier look health care workers in the eye and tell them he has no more money? How can you do that, Premier?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I think Nova Scotians understand fully that when you have revenues of the province growing at approximately 3 per cent a year, that if, in fact, wage settlements are exceeding that, we will continue to always be in a deficit position. The member opposite also is aware that this is the single biggest offer that was made to any public sector group, as a reflection of the importance we put on health care workers.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.

HEALTH - CARE WORKERS: PREMIER - HEED

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, over the past few days, strike votes have come in from across the province, and I would suggest to you that they amount to an overwhelming condemnation of this government's offer and its Bill No. 68: 78 per cent of the nurses at the Roseway in Yarmouth and Digby voted to strike; Pictou's nurses voted overwhelmingly to strike; 92 per cent in Truro and Tatamagouche; 87 per cent in Cumberland; 88 per cent in Cape Breton. Nurses across this province are asking for two things from this government - a fair offer and the removal of Bill No. 68. I want to ask the Premier, why doesn't he listen to what these health care workers are saying from one end of this province to the other? Kill Bill No. 68 and deal with these workers in a fair and reasonable manner by negotiating a collective agreement.

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I had an opportunity to discuss the matter with a number of health care workers who came to visit here in Province House over the last number of days. Many of them were far more upset with working conditions, unacceptable call-back conditions, unacceptable workloads because of inadequate staffing, than they were with the offer that was put forward by the government. As a matter of fact, many of them indicated that they thought that the total offer was fair, although they did have some problem with the way in which the money within the envelope was apportioned. These are the kinds of issues that we would like to deal with the union to have resolved. But we can only do that if we go back to the table with the union.

[Page 5785]

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: If people just listened to the Premier, you see, everything would be solved because he is so reasonable and everything he puts forward is so reasonable. I would like to ask him to explain though, why it is that all of these nurses that he is talking to outside here rejected overwhelmingly a tentative agreement that had been put to them by the union? It is not the union you have a problem with, it is individual health care workers and nurses from one end of this province to the other. That is who the Premier has to worry about. I want to ask the Premier, given the fact that this show of support, this show of condemnation against this government is from individual health care workers, individual nurses, what is he proposing to do to keep all of these health care workers in the province and out of jail?

THE PREMIER: Through the negotiation process, we were able to sit down with the negotiation teams from two unions to reach agreements with them. Unfortunately they were not ratified by the membership. One of the secrets of all of this is taking the agreement and making sure that the membership fully understands what the offer is. That is quite a challenge and I don't doubt the anger in the hearts of many health sector workers, but much of it is a result of the very difficult working conditions under which they deliver their craft. I believe that they will be very encouraged by the responsive government and the reaction of government that is to respond to workplace conditions. Much of the anger that has been developed in the health care delivery system will not be solved by a wage contract no matter how much money is in the envelope because it will not serve the fundamental problem in the working conditions of health sector workers in this province.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: I can see the problem we have here, it is the Premier, clearly. Nurses, health care workers, have rejected two things. They have rejected the contract offer that has been put to them by this government and by their union and they have rejected Bill No. 68. I say to the Premier and I would ask him to consider what it is that these health care workers have said to him through these strike votes and through the hundreds of presentations here at Law Amendments Committee and agree that in order to resolve the problems in health care, what he has to do is negotiate with these workers, not to shove a contract down their throats through Bill No. 68. Would he not agree that would be the preferable way to go?

THE PREMIER: The question did imply a reference to working conditions and I think perhaps it would be appropriate that the Minister of Health respond to the member opposite.

HON. JAMES MUIR: We have recited on many occasions on the floor of this House the initiatives that this government has implemented in the past 22 months to try to deal with workplace conditions, particularly for the nursing profession. Also, for example, the nursing strategy that was introduced last spring and was endorsed by the nursing profession and, indeed, was created by nurses for nurses at a $5 million price tag annually on it. It has been endorsed widely.

[Page 5786]

In terms of the contract for the nurses out there that was rejected - and we were very disappointed in that and the union was disappointed in it - the big stumbling block right now is there are certain workplace issues that can't be resolved overnight, but we continue to work with the associations and the unions and the district health authorities to resolve those things. The other thing that appeared was that the discrepancy in between the financial demand of the union and the ability of the province to pay was so significant that the talks did break off.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

HEALTH - MEDICAL LAB TECHS: TRAINING PROG. - INITIATE

DR. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Premier. Today, in Nova Scotia, we have a medical lab tech force of approximately 837. In 15 years, if the Premier and his government continue to do nothing, we will have approximately 467 lab techs. Last year there were no medical lab techs graduating here in Nova Scotia. My question to the Premier is, given the continental shortage of medical lab techs and the fact that the Premier and his government have been aware of this information for two years now, when can we expect the Premier to mandate a training program for medical lab techs here in Nova Scotia?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, part of the problem that we find ourselves in here is the result of the flawed policy of the previous government. For example, we are now facing a shortage of nurses, much of that is the result of the ill-advised early retirement program five years ago which provided an exit for many, many experienced nurses. We are also now finding that we have a relative scarcity of lab technicians, largely because the NSIT program was cancelled in this province by the previous government.

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, it has been two years now, and that is a shameful answer.There have been many changes made either in the nursing profession, in the health education and the Premier well knows the basis of some of those decisions. They were not unilateral on the part of government. He is misleading the House, again, and he does that continuously. This government continually talks about the health and safety of Nova Scotians. This is a hollow issue, that it is a safety issue.

Seventy per cent of the patient care decisions made by physicians are based on the accuracy of information provided by lab techs. An overworked lab tech, with no future outlook, could easily leave the province, and that is what is happening. We saw the recruitment down here, I think they had four appointments initially and it turned into 25 or 30 lab techs looking for jobs.

[Page 5787]

My question to the Premier is, given his concern for the safety and well-being of Nova Scotians, largely based on polling I suppose, why has the Premier waited two years, and still has not made the simple decision to mandate a training program for medical lab techs in Nova Scotia? The mechanics are there; the school is there; he just has to mandate the program. Why, after two years, do you choose not to mandate that program?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the question intrigues me because the question implies that the previous government didn't make the decision to close out the course, that some other person, some other group made that decision. I would hope that the member, in his follow-up question, will enlighten the members of the House as to who exactly made the decision if the government of the day didn't make the decision.

DR. SMITH: Whatever the situation, this is a Premier who, for $46 million was going to fix health care. He stood and misled the people of this province, and we see every evidence of it. Blame somebody else; blame the federal government; blame the previous Liberal Government. It goes on and on. Nova Scotians are getting fed up with that, Mr. Premier, if you haven't noticed. You are going to get an awakening pretty darn soon. Perhaps you are not aware that government spends over half a million dollars (Interruptions)

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

DR. SMITH: . . . lab techs in the New Brunswick community college system. Last year, of the 18, how many came back to Nova Scotia, Mr. Premier? Well, for your information, there were two. It is time you did something. When will the Premier wake up and realize that he should stop wasting our money in Nova Scotia, mandate a program in Nova Scotia so that Nova Scotians can reap the benefits from these valuable members of the health care team? When will you act, Mr. Premier?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, what the member opposite is encouraging, he is encouraging this government to do a better job than they did and, yes, we will.

[2:45 a.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

HEALTH - DISTRICT HEALTH AUTHORITIES:

SUPPORT - DETAILS

MR. GRAHAM STEELE: Mr. Speaker, here I am in the Kafkaesque position of standing up in the middle of the night watching these two Parties throw accusation and counter-accusation at each other about which one is worse. Last week, at a rally protesting Bill No. 68, the board chairman of the Eastern District Health Authority said that the

[Page 5788]

majority of the board does not support Bill No. 68. Furthermore, when questioned by media, the board chairman admitted that statement but said she couldn't discuss it further because she had agreed not to speak for the next day and a half. The Premier and the Minister of Health would like to have us think they are acting in accordance with what the district health authorities want, but it would appear that is certainly not the case. My question to the Premier is this, do you or do you not have the complete support of the district health authorities?

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

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, he never did finish the question, but he's been so mixed up during this Question Period that I am not surprised. Complete support for what?

MR. STEELE: Another pat on the head from the Minister of Health. What do you think we are here for, Mr. Minister? What do you think this session of the Legislature is all about? Do you think we are talking about something other than Bill No. 68? Very clever answer, Mr. Minister, very clever. Here we are in the middle of the night with non-answers from the Minister of Health. Time after time we have asked the minister to justify the actions of the Health Department, and time after time he has stood in this House and said, my department doesn't have the authority to make health decisions, that is the role of the district health authorities. I would like to ask the Premier, what consultations with the district health authorities did your government have before they made the decision to introduce Bill No. 68?

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

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, there are regular and ongoing consultations with the district health authorities. Indeed, one of the things that was done, as the honourable member knows, was the state of contingency planning in the event that strikes were likely in the health care sector. We made it very clear when we introduced that bill, it was in response to our belief, reinforced from the district health authorities, that the health system in Nova Scotia could not sustain a strike and deliver adequate service.

MR. STEELE: Mr. Speaker, all over the province, prominent people in and out of the health care professions have condemned Bill No. 68, including such anti-establishment and radical groups as the Medical Society. We are told that not even all the health authorities are in agreement with the draconian measures this government has seen fit to impose in Bill No. 68. The question I would like to ask the Premier is, when will you table, in this House, written documentation that will prove that your government has support of the other district health authorities?

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

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I probably won't do that.

[Page 5789]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Victoria.

HEALTH - NURSES: TRAINING SEATS - INCREASE

MR. KENNETH MACASKILL: Mr. Speaker, my question this morning is to the Premier, and it is relative to nursing training seats. On Monday, June 18, 2001, Prince Edward Island increased the number of training seats at the U.P.E.I. School of Nursing by 31 per cent, starting this fall. Given that nurses have been trying to tell this government that they are tired of working large amounts of overtime and they want a quality of life, my question to the Premier is, when is the Premier and his government going to personally increase the number of nursing training seats in Nova Scotia, now that they are trying to drive the nurses out of Nova Scotia?

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

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I thank the honourable member for that question. I believe he remembers that since we have come into government we have increased the number of nurse training seats by 75, or 30 per cent.

MR. MACASKILL: Mr. Speaker, I think they better start moving and finding more seats because from what we heard over the last month, there will be many more seats that they need to fill.

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

GOVERNMENT BUSINESS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

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

PUBLIC BILLS FOR THIRD READING

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

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

Bill No. 68 - Healthcare Continuation (2001) Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Health.

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to move third reading of Bill No. 68.

[Page 5790]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I rise to speak this morning on third reading of Bill No. 68 and, try as I might, over the next number of minutes, to explain what I think this government is all about in terms of their dealing with the current problems, the current challenges facing the health care system, I do so without, frankly, a particularly strong conviction on what the right explanation is for how this government is proceeding. We have had mixed messages over the last number of weeks and, more importantly, this government has gone in such a totally different direction from the one that they promised Nova Scotians they would take just two short years ago, that I am left wondering what could possibly be motivating them, what is behind this bill.

I think it is important, Mr. Speaker, to Nova Scotians to listen to what it is that the Premier himself has been saying in his interviews in the last media assault that he made over the weekend, where he enlisted the services of The Daily News and one of their contributing editors, David Rodenhiser, to present completely and unconditionally the government's take on all of this without any analysis or any tough questions about whether that made sense or, really, what the answer was behind some of the positions that have been taken. I think it is important to look at that and I think it is also important to take a look at the speech that the Premier made yesterday in this House, trying to defend the efforts of his government and certainly, most recently, some of the answers that were provided in Question Period of the position that his government is taking.

Mr. Speaker, when Bill No. 68 was introduced in this Chamber a little over one week ago, it was done so with the explanation that we need to protect public health and safety. It may be that a group of health care workers might go on strike within a period of two weeks and this government needs to - and the words used in those days was - make a pre-emptive strike, that they must move pre-emptively to prevent these health care workers from exercising their right under the Trade Union Act to withdraw their labour, in the event negotiations were not fruitful.

This government was bringing in Bill No. 68 to not only remove the right of these workers to strike, but also to give itself, to give the Executive Council, power in the bill to impose their own settlement, to impose a collective agreement which goes well and beyond the issue of wages. It may involve not only working conditions but also questions such as jurisdiction of the particular bargaining unit, that this responsibility is now going to be taken upon by the government through the Executive Council. This applies to the NSGEU that is negotiating with the Capital District Health Authority and the nurses who are dealing with that same employer.

They drafted the bill in a way that would ensure, or perhaps allow them the opportunity, to, in fact, extend the powers of Bill No. 68 to cover all health care workers throughout the province. I think we heard tonight quite clearly from the Premier, that that is

[Page 5791]

their intention. The intention of this government is to ensure all health care workers, from one end of this province to the other, are affected by Bill No. 68, have their rights taken away, have a collective agreement imposed upon them if they fail to negotiate one themselves, and the final kicker in all of that, of course, is that no one is able to question the authority of the government, the authority of the legislation. Draconian is an understatement when using it to describe this legislation.

The Premier said here tonight and he said over the last number of days and other members increasingly are saying it, they are under the gun. I almost think when I hear members opposite wail and cry this last number of hours about the fact they are carrying the weight of the world with 980,000 Nova Scotians upon their shoulders, that they didn't realize what they were doing when they agreed that Bill No. 68 was going to come forward, or when they agreed to poll Nova Scotians about the effects of legislating health care workers, that they didn't actually imagine that it would ever come to this point. They never imagined that health care workers would respond so strongly in the negative to this government's imposition, this government imposing its will on health care workers.

I don't think any of them believed that was going to happen and that is shocking, frankly. It is shocking to me that these members opposite agreed to support Bill No. 68 and have been pushing it through the House without any real understanding of what was going to happen. In the final analysis, the lack of a will to negotiate, combined with Bill No. 68, which was the government trying to impose its will on health care workers together, was almost predetermining a strike.

[3:00 a.m.]

You will remember that it was a few days after Bill No. 68 came in that conciliation took place between the NSGEU and the employer, NSGEU's health care bargaining unit. They reached a tentative agreement with the assistance of the conciliator, which was then put to the membership. I asked one of those health care workers, one of those members of the bargaining unit when they appeared before the Law Amendments Committee, what it was about that deal that upset them so much, why did they reject it? This woman said to me, this health care worker - I believe she was a medical laboratory technologist - the deal wasn't enough. If the government hadn't imposed Bill No. 68 on them, they might have accepted it, but they were so incensed, so furious that this government was going to take away their rights, was going to impose themselves on their right to bargain collectively, that they just rejected that tentative agreement out of hand.

That is what members opposite should be thinking about, the fact that not only has their intransigence, with respect to negotiations, been a very significant factor in leading to this situation where the dispute has not been resolved or was deemed unresolvable, but more importantly, introducing Bill No. 68 was the final straw for health care workers who have been so badly treated over the past 10 years.

[Page 5792]

It was the final straw, and as a consequence we saw the NSGEU health care bargaining unit reject the deal, we saw the nursing membership - not the union, because the union had recommended a deal to their members, but the grassroots members - the women and men who toil in our health care system, the women and men who make up our constituencies said they didn't care what the union said. They were so mad at the lack of respect this government was showing them, they were so angry and so frustrated on the lack of progress on issues that they were not prepared to achieve any agreement.

The members opposite are feeling the heat now, and so they should, because their actions, by bringing Bill No. 68 and by ramming it through this Legislature, have significantly, if not ultimately, contributed to what may happen come midnight tonight and may happen further.

What I don't understand is they think that with all of this anger and all of this upset, with all of this frustration that is making itself known either through presentations at the Law Amendments Committee, through protests, through ballot boxes in malls, through strike votes, that Bill No. 68 is somehow going to solve that, that Bill No. 68 is somehow going to deal in a responsible and constructive manner with that emotion.

I say to them, I say to the Government House Leader, you are sadly mistaken. You are under a very significant misapprehension if you think Bill No. 68, after all the problems it is going to cause, that when passed it is suddenly going to calm nurses down, suddenly going to calm health technologists down, who have been to the job fair recently here in Halifax, it is not going to do that.

My concern is, and it should be the concern of all members opposite, that the feeling amongst individual health care workers, against the government, against this bill, against the circumstances they are facing, they are working in, is so strong that once something happens to precipitate any action, it is going to be very difficult to control.

I said to the Premier today, and I say to members opposite again, it is going to take a lot more than Bill No. 68 to solve these problems. Bill No. 68 is going to create a whole host of other problems. The Premier stands up and talks about how nurses aren't just concerned about money, or money is not that important to nurses, he even suggested it is working conditions. You are not going to be able to deal with anything with the level of emotion and anger and frustration that health care workers are facing, that they are feeling as a result of what it is that this government is doing, forcing Bill No. 68 on them.

Mr. Speaker, I say you can put big fines in here, you can talk jail time and all the rest of it, but once this ball starts to roll it is going to be a problem to try to control it. You know that as well as I do. If these workers do go back to work, the frustration, the anger, the alienation, the upset, is still going to be there and it's not going to go away.

[Page 5793]

Mr. Speaker, let me talk about a couple of things. First of all, the Premier, himself, has said that he went through the nurses' strike in 1975 and he can't allow that to happen again, that he is going to take away their right to strike, he is not going to refer the matter to binding arbitration, he is going to ensure that it is imposed. We know now what is going to be imposed on nurses, it's going to be a deal, either what is already on the table or less, what they have already rejected or less, because the Premier decided that's fair, the Premier and his colleagues opposite have said that's fair. So, that is going to be the settlement imposed on them, or something worse than that. How do you think that is going to go over, I ask you?

Let's go back to 1975 for a second and remember that the negotiations of 1974-75, by the nurses, was their first as a trade union. They first certified as a trade union in 1974, and they did so because they were faced so constantly by the kind of attitude that the Premier has exhibited over the last couple of weeks, a kind of father-knows-best attitude who said, just don't worry, I know what's best for you, I know what's right; you may be frustrated now but I know what's best for you and I will do the right thing; you just go away and do your work.

Well, do you know what that led the nurses to? In 1974, they earned $3.76 an hour. In 1974, they got an 8 per cent increase. Seems pretty good, right, an 8 per cent increase? The problem being that in 1974 inflation was running at 12.5 per cent, so they were losing ground and they were losing it bad. The rates of pay in other jurisdictions in the country were double and triple what they were making here in Nova Scotia. So, what nurses realized or came to the realization of is that in order to actually deal with the kind of attitudes that were holding them down, that were holding their wages down, that were holding their profession down, by people like the member for Pictou Centre, was for them to organize into a trade union to bargain collectively under the rules provided for in the Trade Union Act, to deal with their wages and working conditions once and for all.

Mr. Speaker, bargaining began in late 1974 and continued for six months, through to early June 1975, with no progress. No progress whatsoever. Imagine, these nurses are being paid $3.76 an hour, they are falling behind and, once again, they are not getting any respect. They took a very important decision, and that decision was to withdraw their labour, to try to somehow bring home to the government of the day - and it was the Liberal Government under Gerry Regan - that they were serious, it was time to address their concerns. Stop pushing me off, they said, and address these concerns once and for all. We will not be silenced this time.

Mr. Speaker, if members opposite think that anybody ever makes the decision to go on strike lightly, they are sadly mistaken. They don't understand the personal anguish, emotional stress and strain that workers are under, who make that decision. I don't care whether they are health care workers, education workers, workers in the Public Service, iron workers, steelworkers, because, you see, the decision to go on strike means two things. Number one, it means that they are leaving the responsibility for which they were employed behind, and in the case of health care workers and nurses, that responsibility is their patients.

[Page 5794]

In the case of teachers, that is their classrooms. In the case of maintenance workers in the school board, that is their schools.

All workers take their work seriously, they take their jobs seriously and they are responsible people. Not only is that part of it, but the other part of it is a real economic one. When workers go on strike, they no longer receive any income. They no longer receive any income, and while there is some protection under the Trade Union Act, there still is the fear that they won't get rehired. Once you go out on strike, you don't know whether you will ever go back again. It is a tough door to open, because it is an awfully difficult one to close once it is open. If members opposite don't understand that, then they are underestimating, once again, these workers who they are legislating back to work.

Mr. Speaker, the point in 1975 was that the conditions were such that these workers had decided, these nurses had decided that it was time to move, and move they did. After a short period of time, they were able to get a settlement, which they finally accepted. What is interesting is that initial statements of the government, not dissimilar to what we are hearing with the introduction of Bill No. 68, were that the possible strike was a threat to public safety and welfare. In 1975, they were talking about legislating them back to work; in the year 2001, this government is talking about preventing them from exercising that right whatsoever.

Again, it is all about public safety and the welfare. Back then, even though they all trotted it out, the Premier of the day, Gerald Regan said it was important for the government to react to the strike because of the disruptions which would result from picket lines being set up around the hospital. Health Minister William MacEachern said that the government has been forced to act, faced with the walkout and critical emergencies which would develop over that period.

[3:15 a.m.]

The Minister of Labour at that time, Walter Fitzgerald, echoed the concerns of the Premier and ministers. While admitting that the nurses were underpaid, he felt that they had to return to work because of the large scale of the walkout. He therefore argued that the back-to-work legislation was produced in that best interest of Nova Scotians. That is not unlike what we are hearing today, what we have heard over the past week and a half from members of government.

As is the case now, it was the case then that the nurses' union had negotiated essential services agreements with hospital administrators. They did it then and then it wasn't even required in their collective agreement and today it is. You see these people take their jobs seriously, they take their responsibility seriously, and they did not want to jeopardize the health of their patients so they negotiated essential services agreements.

[Page 5795]

Administrators of the day agreed that the government claims of emergency situations at the hospitals were unfounded. A spokesman for the Halifax Infirmary said that the nurses' union had been most helpful in ensuring necessary services. There were some disagreements over the staffing levels, but that would be settled, hospitals continued to operate on a reduced scale with little sign of a major disruption in health care. There were no disruptions on the picket lines; in fact one Halifax hospital administrator could be seen bringing coffee and doughnuts out of the hospital to the picketing nurses.

Those administrators, like the administrators today, understand how important it is that there be a negotiated settlement with health care workers. They have serious problems in the health care system today and in order to solve them, in order to try to work through them, they are going to need everybody on board and pulling in the same direction. That was the case then, and that is the case today. Nurses, other health care workers, janitors, people who work in dietary, LPNs, lab technicians, over the past 10 years have gone through wage freezes, wage rollbacks, they have had their collective agreements frozen, their ability to negotiate has been frozen, effectively from 1991 through 1997. It is absolutely unbelievable to hear the Premier say, and hear the government say in their inflammatory ads in the newspapers that this government has given the nurses and health care workers the highest awards, the highest offer of wage increases in the last decade. How stupid do they think Nova Scotians are?

Nova Scotians know that health care workers have had their wages rolled back, have had their wages frozen, and what they got in 1998-99 was equivalent to about a 5 per cent wage increase. For this government to claim that 2 per cent a year for the next three years is in any way adequate, let alone the largest wage increase granted to public sector workers in the last decade, is absolutely unconscionable that it would even be alleged and it's incredible that they would suggest by doing so that Nova Scotians are that gullible, in fact, are that stupid that they would believe this kind of misinformation, this kind of propaganda that this government has been kicking out over the last number of weeks.

Mr. Speaker, I think one of the reasons why health care workers are so upset about Bill No. 68, are so upset with this government is because when this Premier and his colleagues were trotting around the province trying to drum up support, they told nurses in Hants West, they told nurses at the IWK, the QE II, the Aberdeen, St. Martha's, the Yarmouth hospital, the Roseway and the Highland Regional, they told every nurse in the province - John Hamm said it personally - vote for us. We understand your problems. Not unlike what he is saying today. He said, we feel your pain and we are the only Party who will address your concerns. That is what Dr. Hamm said to the nurses and health care workers when he sought their support in 1999. Do you know what? I would suggest to you a lot of health care workers bought that, hook, line and sinker, because he is a doctor, right? They work with doctors, doctors are relatively trustworthy, that has been their experience, so he should know. He said he would help them, he said he understood, he felt the pain, we will do something about it, our first concern.

[Page 5796]

That is why, I think health care workers are so upset with the Premier and his government, is that he duped them, they feel betrayed. They feel wronged because they believed the Premier and he has turned his back on them. Regardless of the information they bring forward, health care workers and nurses, about what is going on in their workplaces and the fact that they have increasing workloads, there are fewer of them, the opportunities, their challenging and rewarded career continue to deteriorate in this province. They, while under much consternation, feel attracted by recruiters from other jurisdictions because they are offering better working conditions, they are offering better wages, they are offering to treat these health care workers with respect.

For the Premier and members opposite, Mr. Speaker, to now say to these workers, to pat them on the head and say to them, okay, I might have betrayed you since 1999 but don't worry because, once again, we feel your pain and we will look after it. Don't you remember all of the things we have done in the last year or two to make your working conditions better? The nurses and health care workers say, it's not enough, it doesn't fit the bill at all, it doesn't deal with the problems we experience. It's not enough. As the Premier said oh, it's not enough, we will try harder and let's respond immediately to your concerns and deal with wages, and hire more nurses, hire more health care workers, set up a proper medical laboratory technologist program. No, they say, we can't afford that, we will deal with it some other time. They expect nurses and health care workers to trust them. Surely, this government recognizes that is pushing things way too far and it is just not going to happen.

I suggest to you, Mr. Speaker, that working people in the Province of Nova Scotia, public sector workers, health care workers enjoy the rights of free collective bargaining because those rights have been won through hard-fought battles over many, many years, in this province, right here. In the coal fields in the 1800's, throughout this land, we have won the right to free and fair collective bargaining for all workers.

I said earlier in this debate that in 1937, Nova Scotia was the first jurisdiction to establish a Trade Union Act which gave workers the right to organize into a trade union, the right to bargain collectively, and the right to strike. Coal miners were killed in battle with their employers.

In 1925, Bill Davis was shot down, was gunned down by armed thugs sent in by the government of the day to control a demonstration, a strike that resulted from the type of abuses by an employer on their employees. That is the kind of history that has led to the rights that workers today see this government wanting to strip them of. We should not be surprised that workers, the women and men who toil in the health care system, public sector workers, private sector workers, have stood up, have come down here, have signed petitions, have attended the Law Amendments Committee, have called us and said, kill Bill No. 68, don't take away our right to bargain freely and collectively. Unfortunately, this government has not heard.

[Page 5797]

What I am picking up now, over the past day or so, is that this is just the tip of the iceberg, because this group opposite, Mr. Speaker, has every intention of stripping the rights away from every health care worker, and why not every public sector worker and, for that matter, why not every private sector worker who has the right to bargain collectively as we stand?

Mr. Speaker, an employer might come into the Cabinet some day and say to them listen, we might have a strike, our employees are concerned about safety and heath conditions in our workplace, and they have no right to be concerned about it, everything is fine. Sure we have had a couple of deaths in the past week or two, but that is okay, that is not a problem. They haven't had an increase in the past number of years, but that doesn't matter, we don't want them to have an increase. In fact, we don't want to have a union in this workplace, so how about extending Bill No. 68 and whatever other legislation you have to all private sector workers? Let's take away the right to strike, the right to bargain collectively, out of the Trade Union Act, in fact let's get rid of the Trade Union Act altogether.

[3:30 a.m.]

Is that where this government is heading? Is that what they want to do? That is what the Premier talks about. He says, why have the Trade Union Act, I know what is best. I know and my buddy, the Minister of Economic Development, we know what is best. We saw how well he handled the steelworkers situation in Sydney. Another case of chaos, a complete misunderstanding of industrial relations. The point is you just can't decide well, we don't want this group today to negotiate, we don't want them to go on strike. It will be inconvenient for us. That is not what we want to do or where we want to take the province, so let's take away their rights.

Let me tell you, you take away the rights of health care workers, of nurses, technologists, maintenance workers, those working in dietary and laundry, you take their rights away, the next time it will be a lot easier, won't it? The next time will be a lot easier. This government is already talking about moving down the road further and bringing in something more massive to cover all public sector workers. That is why workers in Nova Scotia are so concerned about where this government is going. I would suggest to you that this government has bitten off more than it can chew if it plans on taking on health care workers in that fashion.

Mr. Speaker, the Premier and the Minister of Health have said - and all members on the government side - that we can't afford to give nurses any more. But they may leave the province, we say. Well, we hope they won't, but we don't have any more money to give them. When Michelin says we might leave the province unless you forgive this loan, the government forgives the loan - $25 million one year, $12 million another year.

[Page 5798]

When Sobeys says if you don't give us tax breaks, we may move our head office to Toronto. The government says, oh my goodness, don't do that, how many million do you want? When call centres, when Scotiabank says look, Tories, we would love to set up a call centre in Nova Scotia, but we just might take it elsewhere, we might go to New Brunswick unless you give us some millions of dollars in training subsidies. Imagine. All three examples, and other examples are extraordinarily successful businesses, very profitable, and yet this government forks out tens of millions of dollars to these profitable businesses so they won't leave the province, so they will stay here.

What kind of a message do you think that sends nurses? What kind of a message does that send health care workers, when Sobeys is more important than the care that your family receives from health care workers, when Michelin and people who work at Michelin are more important than the people who work in our laboratories, in our surgeries, in the halls of our hospitals, in our clinics and our medical facilities, home care workers who go in to care for your parents or people who are infirm? What kind of a message does that give them?

It gives them the same message that they are hearing, that is that this government doesn't care, this government has turned their back on them, this government wants this group of workers to pay for the politically-motivated tax break they plan to give in order to get re-elected; a tax break that will benefit the wealthy in this province more than the health care workers, than the people who are going to be paying for it.

This government and the Premier, in his speech, has the audacity to say to nurses and health care workers that they don't deserve to be paid a decent wage, they don't deserve improvements in working conditions because the government has to fix the roads, and the government has to make sure there is money in education. This group of workers pay taxes, more than their fair share, by the way. Those three groups I cited don't pay their fair share; Scotiabank, Michelin and Sobeys.

Health care workers pay their fair share in income tax and property taxes and HST, they pay more than their fair share of taxes, and this government says to them, has the audacity to say to them that that is not enough, you have to keep giving, you have to forgo any wage increases because you, health care workers, and that will be extended to public sector workers and other workers in this province, have to give us more. In other words, you have to provide for the disadvantaged, to people on social assistance. You have to provide more so, as a government, we can fix the roads and provide for better education in the province. Imagine. It's shameful. It's ludicrous, and it is, ultimately, absolutely asinine that this government is heading down that road.

When this government is talking about fairness - which it says and the Premier said in his speech that you have to be careful about fairness, it will get away with itself. I couldn't believe that. I am going to put that up on my wall - why doesn't the Premier and the members opposite start talking tough to the big oil companies? Why don't they negotiate tough deals

[Page 5799]

with the oil companies to make sure we have the resources to provide public services, to provide a decent wage for health care workers in this province? Why don't they ask Michelin and Sobeys and Scotiabank to give back some of the largesse they have received from this government and governments past? Why don't they start paying their fair share and more so we can provide the public services that are necessary in this province?

Why are health care workers, again, being asked by a government, like they were by the Tories in the early 1990's, by the Liberals in the mid-1990's, and now by the Tories, again, why are we again shifting the burden of this responsibility on the backs of health care workers. I ask you, Mr. Speaker? It is unconscionable. Bill No. 68 deserves to go; it needs to go. It's an affront to all working people in this province. It's unfair and it's irresponsible of this government to bring it forward.

Mr. Speaker, how much time do I have?

MR. SPEAKER: You have approximately 12 minutes.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I have argued strenuously, I have argued often that Bill No. 68 is contributing to a deterioration in relations within the health care system. When it is imposed, it will further exacerbate a deterioration in relations within the health care system. After health care workers, doctors are negotiating another agreement, other public sector workers, so are we going to take everybody's rights away? Is that where we are headed? Nobody in Nova Scotia, no working person in Nova Scotia will have the right to bargain freely and collectively with this government? Is that what they are doing?

Mr. Speaker, I suggest to you and I suggest to members opposite that they are wrong-headed in the strategy they have developed for themselves. Ultimately, Nova Scotians will send that message. But do you know what? I am less concerned with what is going to happen to these Tories and their political fortunes in two years' time as I am with what is going to happen in the health care system right now.

Right now, Mr. Speaker, we know that doctors are leaving this province because of working conditions and lack of resources. We know that researchers are leaving this province because of lack of wages and working conditions and research money. We know that it is happening with nurses, technicians and technologists and others in the health care system and we are not filling the positions that need to be filled. I ask you and I ask members opposite to consider the fact that Bill No. 68 will not, in any way, help that situation get any better. Ultimately, what it will do is make it worse, not just in the long term, but in the short term and the medium term. I believe that it is the wrong way to go to try to solve our problems.

Mr. Speaker, I am four-square in favour of free collective bargaining. That is one of the reasons why I came here in the first place, why I was first elected, why I ran in the first place; to try to ensure that the voice of working people, concerns of working people were

[Page 5800]

heard and were addressed in as articulate a fashion as possible right here and that legislation like Bill No. 68 was resisted as vigorously as possible. That is why I came here in the first place.

So when I say to you that I am asking this government, and have been asking this government to at least consider that if you are going to take away these people's right to strike, that at least recognize that you don't have the expertise, let alone the independence and the authority, to impose a collective agreement and, at the very least, that should be referred to binding arbitration. Mr. Speaker, I regret the fact that in the Committee of the Whole House on Bills, we did not have an opportunity to freely discuss and debate that issue because I think it has merit and it is something that should be dealt with.

So, Mr. Speaker, if I may, during this stage in third reading and as it says in Marleau and in Beauchesne, third reading is not the end of debate on a bill, but there is still an opportunity for Members of Parliament, members of the Legislature to debate the essence of a bill and to persuade and to try to bring about changes in that bill. So I would ask you and members of this House to consider a motion at third reading that would be as follows:

"That the motion be amended by removing all the words following 'that' and inserting therefor the words: Bill No. 68, the Healthcare Services Continuation (2001) Act, be recommitted to the Committee of the Whole House on Bills for the sole purpose of voting without debate on the amendment appended to this motion."

I will table this for your reference. The amendment which I am attaching to this motion is one that deals with the issue of binding arbitration and it was an amendment that we were hoping to get introduced and debated at the Committee of the Whole House on Bills. So, Mr. Speaker, what I am doing with this motion, at this point, I am moving a motion of recommittal to the Committee of the Whole House on Bills to consider an amendment on binding arbitration. I so move and I will be happy to pass on other copies of this motion, but I would ask for your decision on that ruling.

MR. SPEAKER: I have received the motion made by the honourable member for Halifax Atlantic, and I will take about five minutes to consider the motion. We will recess for approximately five minutes.

[3:45 a.m. The House recessed.]

[3:54 a.m. The House reconvened.]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic has moved an amendment in third reading on Bill No. 68. I have taken the matter under advisement. It appears that there have only been two occasions in, at least, 26 years where this section has been used for an amendment under third reading. One occasion was a Private

[Page 5801]

and Local Bill, the other was another occasion where the amendment was ruled out of order because of the way it was written.

The way this one is written, it does appear to be in order as far as the way the amendment itself is written, however, if you read Rule 51 it says, "When the Order of the Day for the third reading of any Bill is read, any Member desiring to recommit the same must move to discharge the Order . . ." That would appear that the intention of the order is that the move for recommittal would be done when the Government House Leader called, under Orders of the Day, for third reading of bills. Based on that, I am ruling the motion out of order.

The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I don't understand. What you are suggesting is that there is no provision for an amendment at third reading.

MR. SPEAKER: No. As I said, it is not a section that has been used - at least only on two occasions in this House. My feeling is, my ruling would be that the time for any member desiring to recommit the same must move it when the Government House Leader, under the Orders of the Day, moves for third reading of the bill. That would be the time a member, wanting to recommit, would have to rise in his place and ask for the recommittal of the bill.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: If I may, Mr. Speaker, and I appreciate your patience. I still don't understand. I have read Marleau, I have read Beauchesne, I have read Erskine May, I have looked at the past 10 years of practice in this House. In fact, just in 2001, with respect to Bill No. 54, a motion to hoist at third reading was allowed by you, Mr. Speaker. I would be happy to provide you with the reference of when that, in fact, happened. Also, in 2000, a motion to recommit Bill No. 34 to the Committee of the Whole House, to deal with amendments, was allowed.

Again, third reading, it's quite clear in the references that we have to this House that third reading is an integral and an important step within the passage of a piece of legislation for full and exhaustive debate, including amendments. The references cite at third reading it is identical to second reading, with some conditions, but there are still amendments provided for. It is unprecedented, I would argue, that this House would now - we have been narrowing it down over the years, it seems, as a result of advice from the table, but now what you are suggesting is that you are going to, forever and a day, rule out of order any amendments at third reading, at debate, not when the bill is being introduced, but at debate. I don't understand that, Mr. Speaker, and I would argue that that is wrong.

[Page 5802]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, our rules and procedures supersede any other authorities that are there unless they are not specifically covered in our rules. In the case of recommittal, it is very specific under Rule 51, Page 48, which simply states that before the debate commences then you make your motion for recommittal, not after the debate has taken place. However, there is an exception, and that is if you can obtain the unanimous consent of the House, well, then, obviously, you can move it back, and we have done that in the past.

In third reading, you can move a hoist, you can move a hoist providing you did not move it in second reading. Because if you moved a hoist motion in second reading and that motion was defeated, well, then, quite obviously you can't move that same motion a second time on the same bill. The same thing would also apply, I would suggest to you, in other dilatory motions, which are the only kinds that are accepted in both second and third reading, Mr. Speaker.

[4:00 a.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Glace Bay.

MR. DAVID WILSON: Mr. Speaker, certainly I am not about to stand here and profess that I am any expert on parliamentary procedure, but I am rather confused, and I am seeking (Interruption) Well, I am seeking some clarification, I don't see anything wrong with that. Is that not what we are here for . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Yes. The honourable member for Glace Bay has the floor.

MR. WILSON: . . . to understand the rules and procedures, and that is what I am seeking. I agree with my colleague, the member for Halifax Atlantic, that it was my understanding that on third reading this is not the end of debate, as a matter of fact we can continue on this. I am not challenging your ruling, but you, yourself, have said there are some precedents here, at least twice in the last 26 years. What I am looking for is I am seeking some clarification on exactly what that precedent was and how it was done in those situations.

MR. SPEAKER: Obviously, every amendment and motion that is put before this House is dealt with depending on the circumstances, and whether it is a dilatory motion that has been made in second reading or not has a bearing on whether, in fact, it can be accepted at third reading. This recommittal is dealt with specifically in our rules under Rule 51, at third reading. It is my understanding, as I said earlier when I began, that it has only happened twice in this House. Once it was ruled out of order and once was in regard to a Private and Local Bill.

[Page 5803]

When you read Rule 51, when I read it, "When the Order of the Day for the third reading of any Bill is read, . . ." - which is when the Government House Leader stands in his place and calls for third reading of a bill - ". . . any Member desiring to recommit the same must move to discharge the Order . . .", and I would take that to mean that an honourable member would have to rise in his place at that time. Even before the honourable Minister of Health moves third reading, a member who wants to recommit it would have to stand in his place at that time and ask to have the bill recommitted.

Wouldn't even have to give, if you read on further, the instructions that they wished, just the fact that it be recommitted. It would be debated and if it is agreed upon, the House to recommit it, then the instructions would be given at that time.

The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, you have indicated a couple of times that recommittal has never been allowed in this House. I can cite you examples in the year 2000, a motion to recommit Bill No. 34 to the Committee of the Whole House, with amendments, was approved. In the year 1996, on one, two, three - at least three occasions the motion to recommit was in order. In fact, I will also refer, and we can check on Hansard if the Government House Leader would like, but he rose to his feet on a couple of occasions in 1996, when a motion to recommit was not allowed, and said that recommittal is a perfectly common occurrence in any Legislature. He stood on his feet, the Honourable Ronald Russell, and made those arguments in support of a recommittal motion at the similar stage that we are in right now; in other words, as in second reading a member is on their feet and moves a motion of recommittal.

That is the way it has been done in my 10 years here. The Government House Leader knows that because he has followed the same rules and practices. I would ask you to consider what has happened in this House. I have cited a number of instances where in fact that has been in order.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. In regard to what has happened on previous occasions, without having specific dates and reviewing them, it is pretty hard to determine, but it could have been subject matter that was referred to the committee at the time, I don't know. But I know that based on what is in front of me at this time, which is an actual amendment and recommittal, based on Rule 51, I have made a ruling that I believe the amendment motion is out of order. I will call for the next . . .

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, if I may, on a point of order. I can cite for you the legislation that was, in fact, where reference for recommittal was made. In 1996, there was a motion to recommit Bill No. 47 to the Committee of the Whole House on Bills. The Speaker allowed the motion, debate on the matter ensued before the matter was put to a vote. Again in 1996, a motion to recommit Bill No. 39 to the Committee of the Whole

[Page 5804]

House on Bills, the Speaker allowed the motion, debate on the matter ensued before the matter was put to a vote.

In 1994, a motion to recommit Bill No. 49 to the Committee of the Whole House on Bills, the Speaker allowed the motion, and a vote ensued. In 1992, a motion to read Bill No. 204 six months hence - there is legislation. If you want, I can go get the library to produce the actual Hansard pages, which, as I did with your latest decision, shows that motions to recommit in this House at third reading in the case similar to what just happened have been approved, have been accepted. That is the fact.

If we go forward with your ruling today, I suggest to you the evidence that will be presented very shortly will simply and completely fly in the face of that.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, if I may. There have been rulings overturned in this House since the beginning of time. That doesn't mean that every ruling is going to live there forever, because some Speakers do change rulings. When you are talking about in 1994, I am not surprised at anything that happened in 1994, with the particular . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: What about 1996?

MR. RUSSELL: I don't know who the Speaker was in 1996, but I do know what our rules say, and it is specific for that particular item, which is a recommittal and it is not, under our rules, permissible. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Just before I recognize the honourable member for Glace Bay, again, without going to those specific cases and those specific Acts at the time, it is hard to determine. The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic will recall that Bill No. 68 has already been recommitted once, to a committee. (Interruptions) It has been referred to a committee, in the wording. However, to be recommitted at this stage at third reading, to me, we would have to rely on Rule 51, which I have, and I have made my ruling.

The honourable member for Glace Bay on a point or order, and this will be the last one.

MR. DAVID WILSON: Yes, on a point of order, Mr. Speaker. (Interruptions) The member for Halifax Atlantic . . .

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

The honourable member for Glace Bay has the floor.

[Page 5805]

MR. WILSON: Mr. Speaker, the member for Halifax Atlantic, I think, has cited a number of instances to support his case. I am just wondering, and again I am not challenging you, Mr. Speaker and I am not challenging your ruling, but again, as the Government House Leader has said, certainly there have been things changed in this Chamber from time to time, from various Speakers to various Speakers, throughout the years.

As the member for Halifax Atlantic has quite ably said, in his 10 years here in this Chamber, he has seen this happen before, with various Speakers in the Chair. I am just wondering, perhaps, if some of the information that the member for Halifax Atlantic has should not be considered further and, perhaps even this evening, perhaps a further recess would be in order. I don't know.

MR. SPEAKER: No, it is not. I have made my ruling. I will call upon the next speaker, who is the honourable member for, the Liberal Party . . .

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order.

MR. SPEAKER: Is this in relation to the same issue?

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: I have the research.

MR. SPEAKER: You can present that.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: I have the Hansard research right here . . .

MR. SPEAKER: I have made my ruling.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: . . . on decisions that have been made.

MR. SPEAKER: In all due respect, I have made my ruling.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Do you want . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Yes, I will take the information, but I have made my ruling. I will call upon the next speaker from the Liberal Party. (Interruptions) Order, please. Order, please. The honourable member is out of order. Please take your place. The honourable member for the Liberal Party (Interruptions) Another speaker. Is there another speaker? If there is not I will call upon the Government House Leader, if there is not another speaker on this bill (Interruptions)

The honourable member for Glace Bay.

MR. DAVID WILSON: Mr. Speaker . . .

[Page 5806]

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Is that what it was? Forget the rules, we will just shove on ahead. (Interruptions) No, that is bullshit, that is not true. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Order, please. I will ask the honourable member for Halifax Atlantic to stand in his place and retract that comment he just made, it is unparliamentary, please.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, let me suggest to you and all members of this House that I have become extremely heated as a result of what we are doing right here, right now. I apologize if I have said something that offends members of this House or the House, in general, including yourself, but I cannot abide by decisions that are wrong.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Glace Bay.

MR. DAVID WILSON: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to stand again in my place and speak to Bill No. 68 on third reading, an Act to Continue Healthcare Services in Nova Scotia. I guess we can understand the level of frustration and the level of anger that has built around this bill from the very day that it was introduced. We saw that level of frustration and anger in many shapes and forms. We saw it from all sides of this House in varying forms, as we are seeing it again here this morning. That level of frustration that boils over sometimes is quite evident because of the simple fact that, again, we should not be dealing with Bill No. 68. We should not be talking about an Act to Continue Healthcare Services in Nova Scotia in this Legislature because it is a piece of legislation being proposed that has been wrong from the very beginning and it just continues to get worse and worse as the days go on, as a matter of fact.

Mr. Speaker, I am a real believer - if you want to call it a principle then call it a principle - that if you negotiate sincerely - and this can apply to anything, not just to contract negotiations - then you can settle problems before they become obstacles. That's not what has happened here and it is not what we are faced with here, because if the government was negotiating fairly, when the time came they could have overcome those obstacles before they became obstacles. Now, what we are facing is a strike in the health care industry in Nova Scotia. I don't think anybody wanted to end up there. I don't think nurses or health care professionals, I don't think union negotiators and I don't for a minute believe that the government wanted to end up in a situation where there is going to be a strike in the health care industry in this province.

What we have been talking about, and we have talked about it until, I hate to use the word, we are blue in the face; because it's usually a colour that is associated with the Tory Party and at this point in time I don't want to be associated with the Tory Party in any way, shape or form, especially with Bill No. 68, let me make that perfectly clear.

[Page 5807]

To stand now at third reading of this bill - and we know what is coming in the end, we know what is going to happen - when the day is done, when all of the stalling has been completed, if you want to call it that, or all of the proper parliamentary procedure that's in place for us to properly debate a bill at its various stages, when all of that is done, this government is going to stand in its place and vote in favour of Bill No. 68. Most members of this government are going to stand in their place and vote in favour of Bill No. 68. We know and we have known from a couple of votes now that there are going to be certain government members, government backbenchers on that side of the House who are not going to stand in their place and are going to run and hide somewhere and not vote on Bill No. 68. What I am suggesting is that is probably because they are not in favour of it but they have no other choice but to not be here because they don't agree with this piece of legislation.

There are a tremendous amount of Nova Scotians, as you saw earlier this morning, when we started presenting petitions on behalf of the Liberal caucus and on behalf of the New Democratic Party caucus that the numbers who have turned out at various locations across this province to sign petitions are astronomical. There are literally tens of thousands of Nova Scotians who have signed petitions and we haven't had enough time to present them all here in this Chamber, Mr. Speaker, to table before you and legislators in this province. It is an indication of exactly what is happening out there, it is an indication of how widespread in this province the non-support is for Bill No. 68.

[4:15 a.m.]

Mr. Speaker, if I may, as an example of what is being said out there, I would like to read some letters that I did not have a chance to table earlier but I think tell a distinct story from health care professionals across this province. As you heard when I spoke during debate of Committee of the Whole House, I tabled a letter from an emergency room doctor in Glace Bay who told what he thought of Bill No. 68. As Dr. Neil McVicar said - and I tabled that letter and I hope that all members of the Legislature have had a chance to read that letter because Dr. McVicar made his points rather well - the fact that what Bill No. 68 will do is not help anything or anyone within the health care industry. What Bill No. 68 will do is begin the destruction of health care within our province. The doctor was very concerned about that and, again, not to be repetitive, as I said yesterday morning during debate, at that particular stage of debate, the doctor was extremely concerned with what was happening with Bill No. 68 and what it would mean, not only in the short term but in the long term, to health care professionals in Nova Scotia. There are many others out there.

For example, I received an e-mail from Linda McNeil, the subject on her e-mail was, We live in a democracy, don't we? Here is what she had to say and this was sent out to all MLAs on their e-mail, so unless you don't have e-mail, you probably received this letter; if you are a member of either of our caucuses on the Opposition side or if you are a member of government caucus, this was e-mailed to you. Here is the letter, it reads: This Bill 68 is anything but democratic. I am an RN at the Cape Breton Regional Hospital and have worked

[Page 5808]

in Nova Scotia since 1973. We nurses work long, hard hours, including weekends and holidays. Because of health care cuts made by the government, our job has become even more stressful. Any job in any department that has been cut becomes a nursing job. For example, if you drop a respiratory tech, the nurse gives the inhalations. Drop a ward clerk and the nurse does the phone answering and filing and if you drop a cleaning person then the nurse does matters associated with that. Again, this is Linda McNeil saying this, I hope you get the idea. Meanwhile your other duties remain the same except that you will have more of them because there are no nurses to call out.

You were elected as a representative of the people of Nova Scotia. You are supposed to be their voice. Have you asked them what they want? Ms. McNeil goes on to say, this is not only a blow to nurses but to the whole labour movement. In her area - which I know because it is my area as well - they just celebrated Davis Day. Ms. McNeil says, this was a man who died for his union and people have fought hard and given up much to gain good working conditions through the process of a labour movement. Your government sees fit to throw all they have worked and died for away, with little thought for the enormity of what you are doing. Please stand up for democracy and fair treatment. We are Canadians and deserve that right.

Again, that is an e-mail sent out to all MLAs in this province and there were lots of them. There is another example that I have here that was addressed to the Health Minister and also to the Premier and all other Cabinet members. Again, I don't know what you call them, technically, I guess it is a chain e-mail, it is sent out to all caucuses and individual MLAs. This one is from a person by the name of Angela Greencorn. Here is what she wrote to me in her e-mail: I am a health record technician, currently employed by the Queen Elizabeth II Health Sciences Centre. My main duty is to compile the data that is used by the Department of Health and the Canadian Institute for Health Information for funding and statistical information. I have been in this field for 13 years and have been through three mergers.

As a hospital employee, I, like the others I work with, have made many compromises, accepted rollbacks and low raises that do not even match the cost of living increases, in order to better facilitate these mergers toward patient care. Ms. Greencorn goes on to say, I have continued to do my work which includes an increasing workload, as employees leave and are not replaced and we are still required to meet our deadlines. It has become increasingly hard as an employed Nova Scotian to make ends meet, if there are no unexpected events to deal with, that is.

Your apparent total lack of concern and trust for the Nova Scotians employed at the QE II Health Sciences Centre and other facilities tells me that you have not listened to our concerns and promises. We have not become involved in health care to harm or contribute to the harm of other people, just the opposite in fact. I appreciate your concern for the health and welfare of Nova Scotians but I think you forgot one thing, I too am a voting Nova

[Page 5809]

Scotian. Does being employed in the health industry mean that I am automatically excluded from your concerns? Is this just the start and will all other unionized industries be next? Ms. Greencorn wraps up by saying that she feels we are deserving of a better raise that allows us to keep up the cost of living increases that continue every year. I ask that you please consider the above and do not legislate Bill No. 68.

As I said, we have been receiving a lot of these e-mails and faxes from across the province and they are from across the province, dealing with Bill No. 68. These are totally unsolicited faxes and e-mails that I am reading you here. Again, in most cases, they have been sent to all MLAs in this House. Here is another one. This is from Tony Card who is - I hope I can say this right, an electro-neuro physiology technologist and he writes to the Premier: Dear Mr. Hamm, I am very disappointed at the recent decision of your government to take such an unreasonable step to undermine the bargaining process. I am an electro-neuro physiology technologist, working at the new Halifax site of the QE II Health Sciences Centre. I never asked for a big pay raise or any unreasonable benefits, all I wanted was to be treated fairly. I am one of only four technologists doing my line of work in the Halifax area. There are two other techs in Sydney, as well.

He says, you have put me in an awful position. I have to now look long and hard at all viable options presented to me. I feel unfortunately that remaining in this province may not be one of those options. Your government's decision to pass a bill that would deny me the right to go on strike until 2004, is unjust and unfair. I have been here since July 1997. I have dedicated my work to better the lives of Nova Scotians. I am not asking for any special treatment, however, I am asking for fair treatment.

The letter writer, Mr. Card, goes on to say, the recent offer to the health care bargaining unit of the NSGEU was an insult. Why are we, the grassroots of the health care system of Nova Scotia, not considered as important as nurses or doctors. In case you haven't noticed, this whole mess has been created over the issue of equality, not money. I should be entitled to the same wage increases as a nurse or any other employee of the health care system. It is based upon my work that the many doctors and nurses of this province make their decisions on how to proceed with the care of our sick population. I realize we are living in a time of fiscal restraint. A shortage of skilled professionals, such as myself, will result in a crisis in health care, the likes of which you only have had nightmares about. It may be you or one of your colleagues who will need medical attention in the future.

The letter writer states emphatically, Mr. Card states emphatically, that he would give you the same compassionate care as anyone else. In closing he asks the government to reconsider Bill 68, it will only end in further labour unrest in this province. There has to be another viable option that can be agreed upon between all sides involved in this bargaining process. Do you really want nurses and technologists such as myself to leave this province? If you do and your government continues with further attempts to interfere with the bargaining process, you will definitely get your wish.

[Page 5810]

I didn't have to come to Nova Scotia to work, I chose to come here. Unfortunately, Mr. Muir's comments about Nova Scotia being a nice place to live just don't cut it. Maybe I, along with many of my colleagues, will have to find another nice place to live.

Mr. Speaker, those comments should ring in the ears of government members right now because I think, and in particular I think Mr. Card is saying that we are going to be in for a rough road ahead for health care in this province. We are going to be in a crisis, if we are not there already, with the passage of Bill No. 68, with the passage of this legislation, An Act to Continue Healthcare Services in Nova Scotia.

As I mentioned before, this whole bill misled Nova Scotians because this bill was sold as something necessary to protect the health and safety of Nova Scotians. That has been the big sell here of the Government of Nova Scotia, this is to protect the health and safety of Nova Scotians. Mr. Speaker, you and I know the Capital District Health Authority and the unions affected have developed an emergency plan and that issue has been dealt with, so there is absolutely no need to pass this bill. No need of it, that plan has been dealt with. There is no evidence whatsoever that the public is or will be at significant risk as a result of job action, given the agreement reached on an emergency plan.

There have been other district health authorities that have said their emergency plans are fine should there be a strike, so this government simply should do the right thing. This government still has the opportunity now, even though we are in full swing on third reading here in this Legislature, this government still has the opportunity to withdraw this bill, to put it in the trash where it belongs and to sit down at the negotiating table, get back to that table and hammer out a true collective agreement in this province, a collective agreement that is agreed upon by both parties, because if the employer dictates a settlement then one can assume that the other party has not had the opportunity to bargain in good faith.

The very fact that this bill contains the words "collective agreement", enables the government to dictate a settlement, is ample reason to get rid of this bill. Mr. Speaker, that is ample reason alone, but there is an even more compelling reason to get rid of the bill, because Bill No. 68, as presented by the government, as I said, is more of a threat to public safety than an actual strike is going to be. That is where this bill has put us. It will ensure in the long-term that there will be short-staffed hospitals with overworked health care workers for many years to come. If this bill passes we are going to be looking back, and we are going to be saying do you remember the passage of Bill No. 68? Do you remember the government that passed Bill No. 68, and do you remember some of the Cabinet Ministers who passed Bill No. 68?

I would suggest with the passage of this bill you are going to have to remember those Cabinet Ministers and this government because they are not going to be around for much longer, they are not going to be here. In this case the overwhelming majority of Nova

[Page 5811]

Scotians are saying that this bill is wrong and should not be passed, and what the government has decided to do is go on the grounds of some polling that they have done.

[4:30 a.m.]

Mr. Speaker, we dealt with that earlier today in Question Period. As a matter of fact, there were a number of questions that were asked of both the Premier and the Minister of Human Resources. If you take a look - this is an uncorrected copy of Hansard that I have before me right now - during Question Period at some of the questions that were asked of the Minister of Human Resources. One of his answers to those questions being asked, regarding the polling situation, the minister said, "Mr. Speaker, I don't know if this information was shared with other Cabinet Ministers. The information was obviously utilized in developing the legislation that came forward."

Mr. Speaker, those are the comments of the Minister of Human Resources in this province. The information was obviously utilized in developing the legislation that came forward. We know now, it was admitted by that minister, that this polling was done for political purposes, that this polling was done and the results were known before real collective bargaining was started with the health care workers in this province. Furthermore, the Premier stood here before us in the Legislature during Question Period and said that he knew nothing about this polling, absolutely nothing about who did it, but he would try to find out.

Mr. Speaker, what we are being asked to believe as MLAs - and the general public is being asked to swallow this one - is that a Cabinet Minister knew about this polling and knows who the person is who added these political questions into this poll but that that Cabinet Minister did not share the information with any other of his Cabinet colleagues, including the Premier, and that that Cabinet Minister didn't share, perhaps, the information with the staff of Priorities and Planning, and that staff of Priorities and Planning didn't share that information with other members of the Cabinet, including the Premier.

Mr. Speaker, how gullible does that minister think we are, and Nova Scotians are? How can he actually believe that we are going to fall for that, even for a second? You have Cabinet Ministers and you have Cabinet meetings, and you have private discussions and you have little meetings that might take place in whatever room or in the hall, and information is shared, but at no point in time - the Minister of Human Resources is telling us or is trying to tell us and trying to get us to swallow - did he ever mention it to any of his other Cabinet colleagues or to the Premier.

Mr. Speaker, I would find that hard to believe that if you are polling, which we know has been done, on an issue that is as critical and as important as health care in this province that you would keep that information to yourself and not say anything about that. I would

[Page 5812]

suggest further that anybody who would try to sell that to this House and to Nova Scotians is lying to Nova Scotians.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Honourable member, I would ask you to withdraw that statement, please.

MR. WILSON: Mr. Speaker, I will withdraw that statement immediately. But, again, we are seeing an example of the frustration that is being built here, of the mistruths that are being spoken here, the fact that we are being led down, or trying to be led down, a garden path that this government and those Cabinet Ministers have painted as being rosy and have tried to blame health care workers in this province for what is happening in this situation, and nothing could be further from the truth. What is happening here is on the shoulders, only, of the Government of Nova Scotia.

It is not, Mr. Speaker, if I may digress for a moment, it is certainly not, as the member for Cape Breton North has tried to get one over on us as well, and this is from The Cape Breton Post on-line edition. I wish I could have read it earlier, but it doesn't get to Halifax as quickly as I would like to see it come, but this is from the on-line edition and this is quoting the MLA for Cape Breton North. The headline reads, "Ottawa Blamed for Health Battle." The Tory MLA says Ottawa is to blame for the government's bitter battle with its health care employees. The MLA for Cape Breton North goes on to admit that he has been feeling the backlash against Bill No. 68. That's his quote in the paper.

The paper goes on to say that the Hamm Government's new anti-strike legislation dominated a pair of weekend meetings that the member had with the Nova Scotia Nurses' Union representatives and it is funny that the media has now dubbed this the anti-strike legislation which is exactly what it is, but, Mr. Speaker, what the member is doing here and it is a blame game that the government has tried too; they try it all the time. They play the blame game and say somebody else is to blame for the mess that we're creating. In this case they try to blame the federal government.

Nobody who even thinks correctly is going to buy that. They know that the Hamm Government is the one responsible for Bill No. 68 and they know that the Hamm Government, and that member is a member of the backbench of the Hamm Government, he is not a member of the government itself yet, but he will be soon, all the rumours have him moving up from the backbenches because he has been a good little boy in the corner over there and good little boys deserve to be in the corner. Some of them open doors. Some of them move up into Cabinet and we know who is going to move up into Cabinet and who is going to stay there opening doors for the rest of his term in this Legislature, but the big question is - as my honourable colleague across the way has very succinctly pointed out to me - who is going to be gone from Cabinet, the question that the Cabinet Ministers should be asking themselves.

[Page 5813]

Maybe some of them haven't been playing as prominent a role or been doing the job that they're supposed to do as well as others. We know who won't be moving out of Cabinet. Well, it wouldn't be the Minister of Justice and it wouldn't be the Finance Minister and it wouldn't be the Government House Leader, the terrible trio will stay there because they're running the whole show anyway. Everybody knows that, for instance, the Finance Minister is the Premier in waiting.

I have had it suggested to me, as strange as it may seem, but is there anything really too strange in politics? I don't know, but as strange as it may seem, I have had it suggested to me that the Finance Minister is the kingpin over there who is running the show and he is the one who has forced Bill No. 68 on that government and is forcing it through and here's the suggestion I had put to me. The theory I had put to me is that the Finance Minister is doing that because he wants to make the Premier look bad in the eyes of Nova Scotians so that after this bill goes through everybody will say, oh, John Hamm is terrible for putting Bill No. 68 through and his backbench and his Cabinet colleagues will be over there rubbing their hands, waiting to pull out the knives on behalf of the Finance Minister, to plant them in the back of the Premier who will then have to resign. I know this sounds like a mystery plot or something, I know that, but it would be a mystery over there if they came up with a good Leader, I agree, but what is happening here is that the plot thickens on . . .

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, I was just wondering on a point of order, the honourable member has suggested that there was a conspiracy by members of his own government against the sitting Premier and I assume that would be following the lead of the members of the Liberal Party relative to what they did to the then Premier Savage. Is that what the honourable member is suggesting, that we might be doing what they did to their own leader?

MR. WILSON: What was that, Mr. Speaker, was that a question? Was he asking me a question? Don't be wasting my valuable time. I have valuable time to stand up here and talk about something as important as Bill No. 68 and the Minister of Justice gets up with this kind of nonsense. Don't be wasting my time, don't be wasting the time of Nova Scotians and don't be wasting the time of health care professionals in this province. You have already wasted enough of their time. We have seen you in action, Mr. Minister. We have seen where you go in the Law Amendments Committee and we see how you want to rule with an iron fist. So don't even mention the word conspiracy to me, I didn't mention it, you mentioned it. I am sure you are quite capable of a conspiracy against the Leader of that Party, you are quite capable of it and so are other members, including the Finance Minister.

I was in the middle of my plot here, to be interrupted by the Minister of Justice. The middle of my plot, I hadn't finished it yet. Neil the great. (Interruptions) As I was saying, Mr. Speaker, I am not going to be distracted by the babbling bandits on the backbench this morning, I am not going to be distracted.

[Page 5814]

Mr. Speaker, I was saying, this is quite plausible, this could happen because as the person was explaining to me, you introduce Bill No. 68 and people see just how disastrous it is and that Premier will go down in history as introducing Bill No. 68. Before long, there will be little conspiracies cropping up in the back rows over there and you will want to ditch John Hamm as the Premier and you will want to bring in someone else as Leader. Heaven forbid that it would be the Finance Minister who would take his place, but that is the plot as it was told to me. As I said, it is quite plausible.

We have come to find out in this Legislature and in this province that anything is possible from that bunch across the way. We have seen bad legislation in bundles come before this Chamber. This is just the latest example, Bill No. 68.

As I said in debate yesterday, Mr. Speaker, what has been happening is that the MLAs, the MLAs who have at least had - and I will give them credit - the intestinal fortitude to sit down with nurses and meet with them. Maybe intestinal fortitude is not the proper phrase. Maybe the proper phrase is that they did their job, they did what they were put here for and that is to listen to people, regardless of whether or not they agree with them. But the big question, as I raised last night, is that you can put in the papers as many times as you want that you have met with nurses and health care workers but it has not been in print what those nurses and health care workers have been telling you. It has not been there.

Mr. Speaker, you know that full well, yourself, because you were one of the people who did their job. You were one of the people who sat down with nurses and heard from them. But again, we have had no reporting to this Legislature in any way, shape or form, of what those nurses are telling you. I guess we don't need it because we already know that thousands and thousands of health care workers and Nova Scotians in general have been telling you, Mr. Speaker, other MLAs, and us that Bill No. 68 is not what they are looking for in any way, shape or form.

I just happen to have in my possession some clippings from The Chronicle-Herald that date back to 1998, which was not that long ago. The then Opposition Leader, a person by the name of Dr. John Hamm, was quoted in a number of articles that were being written at that time concerning what was going on in the health care industry. I will be glad to table these and I don't know if the camera will be able to pick them out but I will table them so that all members, (Interruption) when I am finished, I will table them, I have to refer to them right now but I will table them because it says, this is a picture of the Opposition Leader, John Hamm. Below that picture it says, "HAMM PLEDGES MORE FUNDS, MORE STAFF IN HEALTH CARE." Below the picture is says, "Hamm: 'The profession is demoralized.'" A quote from the then Opposition Leader, John Hamm. That was from February 19, 1998. This one is from February 25, 1998. The headline on this article was, "NURSE SHORTAGE 'CRITICAL'". Again, a picture of the then Opposition Leader, John Hamm. The caption below his picture says, "Hamm: Nurses are struggling."

[Page 5815]

[4:45 a.m.]

Mr. Speaker, if you go to March 3, 1998, again, the Opposition Leader was a very popular person at the time, his picture was in the paper quite often. Again, another picture of the Opposition Leader at the time, John Hamm. The headline of the article said, "Pain of health cuts being felt - Hamm. The caption underneath the photo says, "Hamm: Staff overworked because of cuts." That is from March 3, 1998.

Mr. Speaker, all of those - which I will table so everyone over there can have a good long look at them because that Opposition Leader just happens to be your Leader right now and the Premier of this province - is what he had to say about nurse shortages. That's what he had to say about the health care industry being in a critical condition just three short years ago. Now, what happened?

John Hamm, at the time was saying that everything was critical, that we needed more money, he wasn't concerned about budgets and deficits at that time. He was saying, we need to fix this situation right now. We need more money for nurses. We need more money for health care professionals. We have to step in and do something. That's what he was saying to the government of the day. How much money? Well, somewhere between that - and we all know what happened and no one is denying that, I don't play the blame game, what happened was that this government was elected, which was the darkest day in Nova Scotia's history. An anniversary coming up to celebrate it; an anniversary this week. Of all weeks this government would celebrate its anniversary in power, would be the same week they are faced with this situation in the health care industry; strikes, people protesting at Province House, and this government at that short period of time, that short span of time, has reduced our health care industry to rubble and to shambles that it's in now.

Mr. Speaker, if you remember, it was the same Opposition Leader back then who said he could fix health care for $46 million. He could fix everything, we would have more nurses with better health care, no more waiting, no more lineups, no more lists, no more waiting lists, everything would be fixed for $46 million. The question now that every Nova Scotian is hollering and screaming at the top of their lungs is, what happened, John? What happened, where is it? (Interruptions) No, John Hamm. What happened, John Hamm? Where is it, where is that fix that you had for us with the $46 million? Nowhere to be found.

Mr. Speaker, it's another example, misleading the people of Nova Scotia, misleading the voters in this province, and now that person who led Nova Scotians down the path to putting them in power has now turned into the bully, the big, bad bully. The kind country doctor, hold my hand and I will fix health care for you, I'm a nice person, I'm a doctor, I know all about health care and all of the problems involved with health care and I will help you. It is almost like you are watching late night TV and you see the evangelists who say, come forth and I will cure you of all your problems in the health care industry for the meagre sum of $46 million. Heal, my child! I am the great doctor who will lead the Tories to

[Page 5816]

government and who will lead this province to prosperity. But as we find out from watching late night TV, a lot lately, that not all things you see on TV are true, not all evangelists speak the truth, not all of them can.

We found out that the great doctor, who tried to speak that truth, has now been misleading Nova Scotians and as I said, he has now turned into the bully. Here is the kind doctor who is now charging forward with a piece of legislation and come hell or high water, he will force that through this Legislature, regardless of what is being said by Opposition members. He has also shown, Mr. Speaker, that his government and his Cabinet will use any kind of procedural tactics they possibly can in this Legislature to get this through in a record amount of time. That is what he has shown. The only thing that has stopped that from happening are Opposition members in this Legislature.

We saw yesterday morning - I am losing track of time sometimes, but it was yesterday morning, I believe - finally, we saw government members stand on their feet and talk about Bill No. 68. We know and the general public knows because I will tell you, there are a lot of the general public who are not fooled and who know a lot about what happens in this House, some of them follow it religiously. They know that that attempt to speak on Bill No. 68 today was nothing more than to kill time in the Committee of the Whole House and take up the time for debate, in order to push this through as quickly as possible. Obviously, you could tell that because I listened to some of the debate and some of the debate, as the member for, I believe it was Sackville-Beaver Bank, who stood here yesterday morning, and asked well, he almost demanded, although I don't know what he can demand but he tried to demand that we step out of the way as Opposition MLAs, so that this legislation could go through; that is what he called on us to do.

This is another example of the bullying tactics that are used by the government. Step out of the way or we are going to steamroll right over you and we will flatten you with our big, powerful government that we have over there, because we have more numbers than you do and we can do what we want. That kind of arrogance and bullying has been in effect since the very day this government came to power. It just does not apply in this Chamber, Mr. Speaker, they also use those same kinds of bullying tactics and that arrogance outside this Chamber with members of the general public, members who put them there, members who appeared before the Law Amendments Committee time after time and said - some members of that government have suggested that what was being orchestrated in the Law Amendments Committee was unions who were gathering their people together to tie up the time at the Law Amendments Committee.

I sat in the Law Amendments Committee for quite a few of those presentations. I heard presenters in there who said they had never before been involved with union meetings or whatever the case may be. They had never been moved to come before a Law Amendments Committee and talk about something until the introduction of Bill No. 68. Until they saw this draconian piece of legislation they were just everyday, ordinary Nova Scotians who went to

[Page 5817]

work, whether they were nurses, or technicians, or whatever, and minding their own business, showed up for their shifts on time and put in outrageous hours under conditions that they should not be working under in the first place, but that's what they did because that's their job. The only reason they were move to appear before a committee of this Legislature was because they read Bill No. 68 and they said look, I just can't sit idly by and not speak out against this bill, I just can't do it because it would not be right.

Mr. Speaker, if I may. I have lost track of time, could you tell me how much time I have remaining, please?

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member has approximately 13 and a half minutes. (Interruption)

MR. WILSON: I am sorry, Mr. Speaker, I didn't hear you.

MR. SPEAKER: Thirteen and a half minutes.

MR. WILSON: Bill No. 68, Mr. Speaker, is going to ensure, as I said before, that we are going to be left with hospitals that are going to be short-staffed. They are going to have overworked health care workers for many years to come. This bill is about extracting a wage agreement on the favourable terms for the government and nothing else. The only example you have to use to prove that, is if this government thought for a minute that their offer is so fair, if that offer is so fair, why weren't they willing to put it to a test?

Put it to a test, Mr. Speaker, and that test was obvious. That test was obvious to every health care worker in this province. That test had already been done with the paramedics in this province. The paramedics in this province, as you well remember, were ordered back to work with back-to-work legislation by this government, but those paramedics had what? What did they have that's different from Bill No. 68? Those paramedics had binding arbitration.

It is not in Bill No. 68 and, as you have seen, the member for Halifax Atlantic tried to move an amendment on third reading which would have dealt with that matter of binding arbitration, but we abide by what the Speaker rules in this Legislature, Mr. Speaker. If that offer was in Bill No. 68, if this agreement or if this bill - or the agreements that come about I should say - could be put to the test of an arbitrator, then the government should have absolutely nothing to worry about because this is normal practice in labour negotiations. Conciliation, arbitration, mediation, those are all part of the collective bargaining process not only in this province, but throughout this country. They are all part of the process, but that's not there. No one is willing to do that on the government side because they probably knew, for sure they knew that when an arbitrator becomes involved, they take a look at the agreement, they say it is not fair, you owe health care professionals in this province a bigger increase.

[Page 5818]

Now, you know, that's a subject that I have dealt with before as well, Mr. Speaker, that this is not just about money. I don't want you to get tired of me saying that, and I don't want this House to think that I am repetitive enough to keep repeating stories that I have already told, but I know people in the health care industry in this province. I know them personally, I have brought them up time after time after time in this debate, and those people are relatives of mine.

Those people are my sisters, and those people, for instance my mother whom I have brought up here on a number of occasions, I see them, and I saw my mother work in a system for close to 20 years that she was underpaid. So she didn't go to work every day to get more money and to bring home a big paycheque. Heaven knows that the paycheques she brought home certainly stretched a long way for the rest of the Wilsons, and we appreciated that, but she didn't go there to bring home a big fat paycheque, she went to work every day because she loved her job. She loved being a nurse. She was proud of the fact that she was in a profession, a time-honoured profession that helped people in a time of need.

Mr. Speaker, my sisters are the same way. You know, they are cut from the same cloth. In some cases they're their mother, almost an exact replica of their mother. One of my sisters works, as I have mentioned, I am not being repetitive, I have to say it again, she works in the intensive care unit at the Glace Bay Hospital. I mentioned the fact that she went away for special training at one time and took a course in Halifax and was so proud when she came back that she is now an intensive care unit nurse, she gets 10 cents more an hour. Now, that is special unit pay. That is what's called special unit pay.

[5:00 a.m.]

Under the agreement that is being proposed, special unit pay would disappear next year. It would not even be there. So what the government is saying is that we give with one hand and we take with the other in the next year of this contract. So the nurses and health care professionals who are working in these special units, who have gone and taken courses to enable themselves to be better professionals, now have that taken away from them by this government and you wonder why they're upset. You wonder why they're frustrated and, again, that points out, Mr. Speaker, as I made my initial point, that it is not just about money. This is not a bunch of nurses and health care professionals standing around saying give me more money. This is about nurses and health care professionals who are saying we deserve a better quality at our workplace and we deserve a better quality of life. That's part of it as well. That's part of it that has not been dealt with and it will not be dealt with in Bill No. 68, when Bill No. 68 gives that crew across the way the right to impose a contract. I can guarantee you that they are not going to deal with those issues. They will not deal with those issues such as mandatory overtime, working conditions and simple days off.

Mr. Speaker, I had no idea, and I don't know why my relatives didn't tell me, but I had no idea, for instance, that if you refuse overtime for, I think it is three days in a row, or three

[Page 5819]

times in a row, or whatever, that your pay is reduced as a penalty. Mr. Speaker, I ask you, would you work under those conditions? Would you do it or would any other members in this House do it? We couldn't even do it. We don't have the training for that sort of thing because this is a great deal of training, care and experience that goes into our health care in this province and we couldn't do it.

If I could count on one hand how many times, Mr. Speaker, a nurse has come up to me since this debate and has said - and certainly not to be sarcastic or whatever - to me outside of this Chamber that you are tired in there, but you have no idea what it is like to experience the fatigue and the stress of being involved in the health care industry in this province. As tired as you may be right now after these endless hours of debate - as tired as we all might be, we have no idea and cannot compare with what goes on within the health care industry and those are the things that we are supposed to be working towards making better as legislators. (Interruption)

Mr. Speaker, it is okay for members across the way to bunk down in their chairs, as they have been doing throughout debate and at any given time yesterday morning, I counted eight government members asleep in their chairs, eight of them. (Interruption) I was right here. I was right here, Mr. Justice Minister, I was right here watching eight government members asleep and earlier tonight (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please, honourable member, there is nothing in the Rules and Forms of Procedure that indicates that members have to be awake or even conscious.

MR. WILSON: Well, in this case, Mr. Speaker, they were neither. They were neither awake nor conscious because if you were conscious, you would be thinking and they haven't been thinking at all. I think when we see nurses in this gallery come for their night shift, to sit here and watch debate, I would think that the honourable members across the way would at least have the decency to stay awake and listen to the debate. That is what I would think. Mr. Speaker, sometimes thou does protest a little too loudly. The truth hurts, but it has to be told and if they get upset, then so be it. Sometimes you have to deal with the truth.

Mr. Speaker, if I may again inquire as to how much time I have left?

MR. SPEAKER: Approximately three minutes.

MR. WILSON: Mr. Speaker, as I am about to close, I am sorry I have touched a nerve over there, but I am not apologizing. I am not apologizing at all because I don't have anything to apologize for. That kind of comment does not deserve to be said in this place. We have already dealt with a number of comments that haven't deserved to be said, but what I speak is the truth. That is actually happening and people know that; people see it. It has been in the papers. It has been everywhere. It is a reality.

[Page 5820]

In closing, Mr. Speaker, may I say that the government's efforts should have been put forth in a lot better places. This bill, again, should not be before us in this Legislative Assembly, but the government still has time - this is third reading, there is still time - and lots of debate left to withdraw this bill and return us to normality in the health care field in this province. Having said that, I would like to move an amendment on third reading of Bill No. 68 - Healthcare Continuation (2001) Act.

Mr. Speaker, the amendment is: "That the motion be amended by removing all the words following 'that' and inserting therefore the words, Bill No. 68 - Healthcare Continuation (2001) Act be not now read a third time, but that it be read a third time this day three months hence."

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I wonder if a Page could furnish me with a copy of that amendment.

That amendment is out of order.

MR. GRAHAM STEELE: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. First of all . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Is this a point of order on the amendment? I have ruled the amendment as out of order.

MR. STEELE: I am sorry, Mr. Speaker, there is a usage of this House that the Speaker will listen to the members of the House speaking on a point of order before the Speaker issues his ruling. You have a duty . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Is the honourable member going to speak on third reading on Bill No. 68? The amendment is out of order. The ruling has been made and I am not entertaining a point of order on a ruling that I have made. You are challenging the Speaker's ruling. Now, do you have a point of order relative to something else?

MR. STEELE: Mr. Speaker, I am speaking on a point of order. I have two points of order. My first point of order is that there is a usage in the House that the Speaker explains his ruling. There is a second point of order and that is I am asking you, if you are making a ruling here tonight, that you will not listen to the members of the House before you make your rulings. Those are my points of order.

MR. SPEAKER: Honourable member, on your first point of order, the amendment is out of order because a similar amendment was introduced during second reading, therefore that negates it in third reading and on your second point, during your point of order, if an honourable member is on his feet on a point of order previous to a ruling on an amendment or anything, I certainly will listen and have listened. Now does the honourable member wish to speak on third reading of Bill No. 68?

[Page 5821]

The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

MR. GRAHAM STEELE: Mr. Speaker, I rise here tonight certainly tired, certainly angry, certainly sad that this House has come to this, that this House, this place has been reduced to this, what we have seen here tonight. This is shocking. This has clearly been planned in advance. The Speaker will not listen to the members of the House that when the amendment is so clearly in order, different from the amendment that was moved on second reading, on a bill that has been amended since second reading, so it is not now the same bill. It is clear in every book of procedure in this House, Mr. Speaker, that certain amendments are allowed on third reading and second reading.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. The honourable member was speaking of the bill being amended in second reading. The bill was not amended in second reading.

MR. STEELE: Mr. Speaker, in case the honourable Government House Leader needs to have his memory refreshed, the purpose of third reading is to review the bill in its final form, after the shaping it has received in its earlier stages. Well, I am taking my place tonight as an elected member of this Legislature and, by God, I don't care what that member says or what the Speaker says, I will speak to this bill in the form that it is in, as I stand here tonight. I will speak to this bill in the form that it is in. I am an elected member of this Legislature and I will say what I please.

I will say what I please because we stand here tonight with this Bill No. 68 before us, in the form that it is now in, Mr. Speaker, because that government refused to hear the people of Nova Scotia in the Law Amendments Committee. I sat in that committee for nine and a half hours and I was pleased to sit in that committee and I learned an awful lot. There were some members who sat in that committee longer than I did, but not very many, and most sat in that committee a great deal less or not at all. Not a third of the Nova Scotians who wanted to speak in that committee were allowed to speak by that government.

There is no precedent for that, Mr. Speaker, in Nova Scotia. This government will not listen to the people of Nova Scotia. They came forward and, one after the other, they spoke from the heart. Oh, I wish those members and I wish that the brave member for Dartmouth South had been there to listen. I wish he would listen because I don't think that he would be sitting in his chair, that brave, courageous fellow, heckling from the back row, not on the record. Here I stand again, every word that I say this morning is being transcribed. Anybody who wants to turn on their television can watch what I am saying, and the brave, the courageous member for Dartmouth South, joined by the equally courageous member for Preston, sit there and heckle me; the elected member of this Legislature who stands in his place and goes on the record on behalf of my constituents and on behalf of your constituents that you wouldn't listen to.

[Page 5822]

Mr. Speaker, I am standing here tonight on third reading and I don't expect a single one of those members to stand up. They found their feet today. They found their voices, but for the Nova Scotians who are not aware of the rather arcane procedure in this place, the only reason they spoke today was because the bill had gotten to a stage which had a definite time limit for the overall debate and they spoke today, one after another, not because they really believe in debate but because they were trying to shut down debate.

MR. TIMOTHY OLIVE: Speak on the bill.

MR. STEELE: Mr. Speaker, to the member for Dartmouth South, I am speaking on the bill. I am speaking on the bill as it stands before us today, from a government that is ramming this bill through and will not listen. You will not listen, you will not listen, if they will not listen, then I will speak to my constituents and tell them, I am sorry. I am sorry that I do not have better words, I am sorry that I cannot find the words to express my constituents' anger at what this government is doing.

[5:15 a.m.]

I stand here tonight to say that I am sorry to my constituents that I don't know what to do in the face of this government, Mr. Speaker, that is determined to finish this bill, to pass this bill no matter what. I am sorry that this place, this hallowed, this historic place has been reduced to a place with no debate, where I will stand on my feet, on the record, and have the member for Dartmouth South, of all people, here heckling me and telling me to talk on the bill. That brave, courageous member who has not yet gone on the record with his views on the bill . . .,

MR. TIMOTHY OLIVE: You weren't in here earlier today.

MR. STEELE: Not going on the record, because even if he spoke earlier today he knows that it wasn't transcribed. It is not on the record. He knows that. (Interruption)

Mr. Speaker, the brave fellows over there, they sense they have won a little victory this morning. Here we are at this Kafkaesque situation, here I am at 5:15 a.m. facing a majority government that is determined to pass this legislation, legislation that should never have been put on the table, never mind passed, that if they were going to put it on the table, the least they could have done is listen to their constituents, listen to my constituents, listen to anybody except themselves.

Mr. Speaker, there is so much in this bill, that sits before us today, that is offensive. The members on that side of the House didn't even want to talk about the amendments. I mean, for Heaven's sake, they could have talked about them and then defeated them, but earlier today in the Committee of the Whole House they spoke one after another, not because they were really interested in debate, but precisely because they were not interested in debate.

[Page 5823]

They didn't even want to give the members of the Opposition time to propose amendments, not even to put them on the floor to be debated, to be put up for discussion. They didn't even want that.

I will talk a little bit about that later, Mr. Speaker, about amendments like binding arbitration, and I cannot tell you how many people came before the Law Amendments Committee and recommended binding arbitration. You know, I am not even sure that their unions think that is a good idea. In fact, I rather think that the unions don't, but Nova Scotian after Nova Scotian came forward to that Law Amendments Committee and recommended binding arbitration as a way out, that that is what should have been proposed in the first place, and we on this side of the House were ready to propose that amendment so that it could be debated, so that we could say here's why you should consider this, and they could say that's why it wasn't a good idea.

But, Mr. Speaker, they didn't even allow us to put that amendment on the floor of the house and, if they are not ashamed, if they are past shame, if they are past being embarrassed, I am ashamed. I am ashamed for them, and for the record I just want any Nova Scotians who are listening, or any Nova Scotians who are watching on television, or members of the media, to know that the member for Dartmouth South is continuing his heckling from his reclining position in his chair. He has woken up long enough from his slumber to speak off-camera, off the record.

What a brave fellow he is. I wonder if when that member ran in Dartmouth South, is that what he told his constituents that he would do, that he would sit in his chair in the House and heckle other members who are at least going on the record? Whether I am right or whether I am wrong, whether what I am saying makes sense or whether it doesn't, whether it is something that gets under their skin or doesn't, whether it reflects the views of my constituents or doesn't, at least I am on the record. I wonder if that member for Dartmouth South was brave enough to tell his constituents that he didn't intend to do that, that he would just sit and heckle, Mr. Speaker, that that's what he would do, off the record, off-camera, he would just sit there and dish out his vile heckling.

Mr. Speaker, what is it about this bill that the government is so afraid of, that they are afraid even to allow debate in this place? What is it about it? Well, one of the more offensive features of the bill is that it outlaws strikes anywhere in Nova Scotia in any health care bargaining unit. The Minister of Health got up one day and said that was not so, which surprised me a little bit because that's what the bill says. That is what the bill says and if the member for Dartmouth South, or any of the other sheep on that side of the House wish me to quote them which section it is, since now we're at third reading, Mr. Speaker, and I am free, if I wish, to refer to any section of the bill, I would refer them to Clause 3(1) which says, "This Act applies to (c) any bargaining unit of employees of a district health authority . . . the Governor in Council may designate pursuant to the Act, their employer and the union representing those employees."

[Page 5824]

Mr. Speaker, it is clear that that is what the bill says and the only hair-splitting distinction that the Minister of Health could possibly be drawing is that the bill applies immediately without Cabinet order to the three bargaining units that are in the countdown to a legal strike whereas the other bargaining units, the Cabinet order is yet to be issued, but that's the work of 30 seconds to get five Cabinet Ministers to sign an Order in Council. So there is hardly any practical difference and the Minister of Health wants us to actually believe that that's not what Bill No. 68 does.

Well, it does, Mr. Speaker. It outlaws strikes anywhere in Nova Scotia in any health care bargaining unit. So much for the immediate crisis in the Capital District Health Authority because what that reveals is that what Bill No. 68 is about, among other things, is control. This is the same government that passed Bill No. 20 to give itself unprecedented powers over the Public Service of the province. This is just another step in the same mindset which says that not only are we going to deal with what they determine an immediate crisis, but while we're at it, we are going to go a great deal further and outlaw strikes anywhere in Nova Scotia. So how can the government make anyone believe that this is to deal with an immediate crisis?

Another thing that Bill No. 68 does is that it outlaws any strikes for nearly three years. Certainly until well after the next election. Now, how can the government lead anyone to believe that the bill is to deal with an immediate crisis when it outlaws strikes for three years? No, Mr. Speaker, that part of the bill is about politics because why is it that the bill doesn't say that this bill is repealed immediately upon the reaching of collective agreements? Because, after all, that's what the Saskatchewan legislation does that the member for Preston likes to cite, but apparently hasn't read, or why doesn't it say that the bill expires in a month or two months, or three months, or one year, or two years? Well, the answer is simple, there is only one reason and that is the government was determined not to have any job action in the health care sector until after the next election.

It is just pure raw politics, Mr. Speaker, and then they have the nerve to spend the nurses and the other professionals' money to say, oh, it is about public safety, or it is about money, but it is not about politics. I have not heard one single decent answer from the Minister of Health, or anybody else, about why, if this is to deal with an immediate crisis, that this government needs to outlaw strikes until after the next election. There is no good answer. It is just pure raw politics and every single member on that side of the House knows it.

Mr. Speaker, the third thing that is offensive about Bill No. 68 as it currently stands before this House today is that Cabinet orders are simply wrong as a means of settling the terms of employment. The bill says in a wonderful Orwellian phrase that the Cabinet can order the terms of an agreement. They can order an agreement. That's worth savouring and rolling your tongue around, just the very idea of ordering an agreement. For the edification of the members on that side of the House, let me see if I can find the clause. Clause 6(1), for

[Page 5825]

those of you who haven't had the decency to at least read this legislation and understand the implications of it, it says, "Where the Governor in Council is satisfied that an employer and a union are unable to conclude a collective agreement, the Governor in Council may, by order, determine any collective agreement or provision of a collective agreement." So by order they can determine that there is an agreement.

You see, that is so very much the wrong way of dealing with this situation, Mr. Speaker. There is a complete lack of proportionality. There is a complete lack of sense, because what the members on that side of the House don't seem to realize, or if they do realize it they are certainly not acting on it, is that this is not something that happened yesterday or last month, or it is not just about this round of negotiations, these workers have suffered a decade of disrespect from their government and you have unleashed the beast of a decade of disrespect and the anger and the bitterness and the resentment that has been caused by that decade of disrespect.

At least the Minister of Health had the good grace in one of his more honest moments of admitting that Bill No. 68 is a band-aid. That's the expression he used, it is a band-aid. That's all it is, it is a band-aid. It is not a solution to anything. The Minister of Health said in this House yesterday that Bill No. 68 is simply a band-aid. There is a genie who has been waiting to get out of the bottle for 10 years and it is out now. You can't get it back in. Bill No. 68 isn't going to put it back in. There is this anger and resentment and you can try and contain it over here but it is going to come up somewhere else, in job action, or nurses leaving the profession, or other health care professionals leaving the province. It is going to come out in 100 different ways. You can't get rid of it. This is not the way to deal with it. All you're doing is identifying one hole in the dike and sticking your finger in it and then pretending that there aren't 100 other holes in the dike from which the water is going to flow from.

Mr. Speaker, these workers have had their wages frozen. These workers have had their wages rolled back. They had their wages frozen by that government over there of which the present Government House Leader was a member, for which the current Minister of Finance was a member and, then, as if that wasn't bad enough, then they encountered the Savage Liberal Government which decided to go one better than a wage freeze and actually roll back the wages. I was a civil servant at the time. I had my wages rolled back and other members on this side of the House did and the members on that side of the House did, as well.

So, Mr. Speaker, I might say in passing that it is with some sense of sadness that I would listen to the Liberal members of the House stand up and rail against Bill No. 68 and pretend they didn't do exactly the same when they had the chance because, make no mistake about it, this bill is no different than rollback legislation, because what the Premier has said is they're not going to give these health care professionals a fair settlement. If they were willing to give them a fair settlement it would have gone to binding arbitration or, even better, they would have negotiated it at the bargaining table where it belongs. So the

[Page 5826]

government has decided that it is not going to give these workers what they deserve. In fact, the government as good as says so. So, what they have effectively done is no different than giving them a fair settlement and then rolling it back to what the government has already decided in its own mind is fair, with no negotiation, no discussion, simply by Cabinet order.

Mr. Speaker, I am saddened by the fact that very few members in this House, very few members on that side of the House, very few members on this side of the House, seem to be able to muster the basic decency, the basic ethical principle of at least being consistent in what they say, because I wanted to look to see what John Hamm, our Premier, said back in 1994 when the Liberals were proposing something similar and I have the Hansard here if any of you want to read it. Do you know what's sad about this, is that what John Hamm said in 1994 is remarkably similar to what the Opposition is saying today. He doesn't even have the decency to be consistent, much less keep the promises he made in the last election or the election before that.

Mr. Speaker, John Hamm stood up on May 12, 1994, to debate Bill No. 52 which was the Liberal rollback legislation and he said, ". . . it is not so much whether or not one can stand here before you and say something new, but I think it is the hope, the hope that the few can influence the many. This is the situation in this session of the Legislature that we, as an Opposition, find ourselves. It is the few trying to influence the many."

He described the Opposition members in the House at the time, who were many fewer than there are now, he described them as, "A mere 11 who must be the conscience of the people of Nova Scotia and to continue to remind the government that despite the fact that they have an overwhelming majority in this House, they must still give consideration to the people in which they serve." Those are his literal words. I think what he meant was give consideration to the people to whom they serve. That's what we have been saying. You have got to give consideration to what those people are saying and you're not.

You think you have all the answers over there, well, I have news for you. You don't have all the answers because, let me continue with what John Hamm himself said back when he was over on this side of the House. This was when he was relatively new to the political game and maybe, just maybe, he didn't have that accretion of the political veneer that is so obviously encasing him these days. He said, "Would be it too much for the government to take a few days, maybe not six months but a few weeks just to sit down with union leaders representing the public sector, just to examine with them the situation that this province finds itself in."

He said, "It is unfortunate that the time was not used leading up to the introduction of this legislation to have that consultation." That is not me speaking, that is John Hamm. That is John Hamm, the person who is currently the Premier, but he wasn't then. He had been, I guess it would be less than a year on the job as a new MLA who had come into this House in the face of a Liberal sweep in 1993 and this is what John Hamm was saying in the face of

[Page 5827]

legislation that does exactly the same thing (Interruption) All right, all right, well, the member for Preston has decided to speak up from the back row. They're not on camera, not on the record, so whenever John Hamm came into the House . . .

MR. DAVID HENDSBEE: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. He talks about not being on the record. I would like to point out to the honourable member that during the Committee of the Whole House, even though it may not be transcribed or written down on the document record, but on Monday, June 25th, starting at 12:27 a.m. and finishing at 8:27 p.m., in the total of those 20 hours, I should point out for the member and for those who spoke and also it is recorded on video tape. So it is on a form of record and not in the old archival records that the NDP might want to allude to all the time and their print media, whatever the case may be, the NDP only spoke for seven members, 294 minutes; the Liberals, their seven members spoke for a full 117 minutes; and on this side of the House, 18 members spoke for a total of 490 minutes. Ten of them were Cabinet Ministers and eight of them were backbenchers. Our backbenchers outnumbered their caucus when it came to speaking to the bill on the record. We are on the record and it is on video tape so you can go listen to us if he didn't believe it.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. That is more a point of information.

MR. STEELE: Mr. Speaker, it is a little sad that the member would stand up and speak on a point of order that he knows very well isn't a point of order, counting minutes, and he knows very well (Interruption) Oh, I see the member for Dartmouth South has found his voice again. It is too bad that the member just won't stand up and speak on the record because the member for Preston knows very well, I know it, every member in this House knows it, that the reason the members of the government stood up today was in order to prevent the Opposition from moving amendments. Mr. Speaker, you know that very well. You all know that very well and the braying of the member for Dartmouth South doesn't change the fact that that's why the members chose that particular moment to stand up and speak.

[5:30 a.m.]

Mr. Speaker, I would like to go back to what John Hamm said, whenever he came into the House, he was certainly in the House on May 12, 1994, and he was certainly in the House ready to speak to a bill that is remarkably similar to Bill No. 68. He talked about the failure of any negotiating process to occur. He agreed back then with the member for Halifax Atlantic and he complimented the member for Halifax Atlantic, who is still the member for Halifax Atlantic, on his knowledge of the negotiation process and the sincerity with which the member for Halifax Atlantic pleaded with the government to engage in negotiation rather than dictation.

[Page 5828]

Mr. Speaker, the then member for Pictou Centre, now the Premier, said, let's talk about partnership. He went on to encourage the government to form a partnership with its unions rather than dictating to them. He went on to say, "It does not do the image of this government any good to suggest that they are the only ones who have a solution to the province's ills." This is the same Premier who will stand up in this House and say that he knows and only he knows what is in the public interest.

Mr. Speaker, every day I struggle mightily to know whether I am reflecting the views of my constituents, and I am not certain of that at any given time. I try to listen to them. I try to hear them. I try to reflect what they say to me, applying my good judgment and the qualities for which they elected me and, still, I don't know if I am doing the right thing. The Premier stands up and says he knows, just ask him, he knows. He will tell anybody who cares to ask that he knows exactly what is good for all of us. Back in 1994 he wasn't quite so certain and he pleaded with the government of the day, which had a huge majority in the House at that time, he pleaded with them to listen. He pleaded with them to have a little bit of humility, to not believe that they necessarily had all the answers. That's what he said back in 1994.

He concluded, Mr. Speaker, by saying, ". . . I urge the government to not look upon us as a small Opposition who is, for lack of better things to do, providing amendments to very difficult legislation." He said it is ". . . time to forge a partnership with the public sector of this province as a first step to the solution of the financial problems in which we find ourselves." That is what John Hamm, the member for Pictou Centre, had to say in 1994 when the Liberal Government proposed legislation which to, all intents and purposes, is the same as Bill No. 68 I am saddened by the fact that that Premier, that member, doesn't have the ethical and moral decency to at least be consistent in his judgments, in his actions, that he says one thing when he is over here and he says and does something completely different when he is over there because, as he likes to point out, he has been through a nurses' strike before. He has been through one before, and it is remarkable when one reads accounts of the 1975 nurses' strike, how very similar the arguments on each side were.

It's remarkable, Mr. Speaker, it's a little saddening to think that in 26 years we haven't really learned anything. The difference between those two times is, back in 1975 it was a Liberal Government over on that side and a Tory Opposition over here fighting tooth and nail against back-to-work legislation, and now the roles are reversed and now they're the ones who are ramming this through in defiance of the Rules of the House, in defiance of the wishes of the people of Nova Scotia to be heard.

Mr. Speaker, in this Party we have always said that those two Parties are interchangeable, and there's probably no better example of it than what that Party is doing now that they're on that side, or what that Party is saying now that they're on this side, is no matter who is in government, they make the same decisions and do things the same way.

[Page 5829]

Mr. Speaker, Cabinet orders are wrong as a means of settling the terms of employment although that's what this bill says, first and foremost, because this is about a decade of disrespect and the government appears determined to pass this legislation and if they want to, they will, but they haven't taken that into account. They also don't appear to have taken into account that the wage freezes and rollbacks that these health care professionals have suffered have not cured Nova Scotia's fiscal problems because the Premier now says that that is what this is all about, it is all about something within the fiscal envelope that the taxpayers of Nova Scotia can afford.

Well, Mr. Speaker, that is exactly what the Don Cameron Government said. That is exactly what the John Savage Government said and haven't you all learned that it didn't work? It has been done before, everybody over there, it has been done before and it didn't work and what you're doing is for the third time you are trying something that has already been demonstrated twice, conclusively, not to achieve the objective that you say that you have and to the contrary to cause a great deal of harm in the health care system. Why are you doing it if it hasn't worked before? What makes you think that this time you know better?

There is another reason, Mr. Speaker, actually there are several more reasons why doing this by Cabinet order is simply the wrong way to go and that is that it will not have escaped the attention of any member of this House that the bargaining units that this government has decided to take on are dominated by women. The main issue, not the only issue, but the main issue in this round of collective bargaining is wages and working conditions. I don't think it is an accident that this government has decided to take on female-dominated professions. I don't think it is an accident that this entire House is dominated by men and we, in this Party, are no better than the members of that Party because one of our 11 members is a woman. None of their 10 members is a woman and three of your 31 members are women. This House does not reflect Nova Scotia and it does not reflect the makeup of these bargaining units and yet this government has the nerve to take on these bargaining units and say that they will dictate the wages that these bargaining units' members are paid, that they will dictate the working conditions of these bargaining units.

Mr. Speaker, this is an occasion of sadness for the women of Nova Scotia, for the Minister of the Advisory Council for the Status of Women who has not said boo about this issue even though this is a very important undercurrent in this whole debate and it is yet another reason why a Cabinet dominated by men should not be the body that makes these decisions. Yet that gang over there wouldn't even allow us to put on the table today, not even debate it, they wouldn't even allow us to put on the table an amendment that would have led to binding arbitration. They should be just a little bit ashamed.

Mr. Speaker, there is yet another reason why Cabinet orders are the wrong way to go, why Bill No. 68 is so fundamentally flawed, and that is that there is no trust and in order for this scheme to work, in order for the Cabinet to be able to issue their edicts from the bunkers on Hollis Street and Granville Street in Halifax, really the office towers surrounding this

[Page 5830]

Legislature is where all the decisions get made. Over that way, to the west, is the Premier's office; over that way, to the south, is the Department of Health; and over that way, to the east, is the Department of Finance, right, ringing this building, that is where the real decisions get made.

[5:45 a.m.]

Mr. Speaker, there is no trust. If any of the members on that side of the House doubt that, I will say again that it was only a few months ago that I was on the doorsteps of Halifax Fairview, trying to get elected in the by-election, and I talked to thousands of people there. They don't trust the government. They are cynical, they are angry about all politicians.

I would like to think, Mr. Speaker, that every member on that side got into politics for the right reasons, that they just thought they could do a better job than the people who had come before, because if that is why they got into politics I have a message for all of you tonight. You are no different. You are no different than the people who came before. You are no better. You are making the same kind of decisions for the same reasons as the crowd who came before you, and the crowd who came before that, and the crowd who came before that. This is the government that is well on its way to breaking 80 per cent of its campaign promises, and this is the government that polls in order to decide whether to introduce back-to-work legislation even before bargaining has started.

Mr. Speaker, there is no trust there and if you want to know why people are cynical at politicians, look at yourselves. Look at yourselves about the platform that you were elected on and what you are now doing. You are just the same as the Buchanan Government; you are just the same as the Regan Government. You are just the same; you are all just the same. The same backbenchers sat on the backbenches in those governments and made the same kind of decisions for the same reasons as you are. You are no different; you are no better. The same Cabinet Ministers, interchangeable Cabinet Ministers, sat in the front on that side of the House and they all thought they knew what was best and they all thought that they could get their way through the raw application of political power.

Mr. Speaker, you are no different, you are just the same. You are just the same. There is no trust. There is not anywhere close to the kind of trust that would be necessary for you to issue Cabinet orders telling these hard-working health care professionals what their terms of employment and their working conditions ought to be. There is no trust because you made different offers to different bargaining units, something that has enraged many people out there.

As if Bill No. 68 wasn't bad enough, as if the government's bad faith bargaining wasn't bad enough, the fact that you made different offers to different bargaining units means that there is no trust. There is no trust out there for you. There is no trust because we now know that the government, led by the Government House Leader, commissioned polls in

[Page 5831]

advance of agreement of collective bargaining on wages to determine whether their lines, their public relations lines would be acceptable to the public because they had planned back-to-work legislation already, even before bargaining began.

Mr. Speaker, at first the government denied it, but now we know the truth. The Government House Leader was there. He knew about it; his people commissioned it. It is perfectly obvious to anybody who reads the questions in the polls and then reads the ads in the paper that those polls heavily influenced the government's approach to this bill. There is no trust, not only because that is true, but because the government persists in trying to deny it. There is no trust because the government spent tens of thousands of dollars, not their own dollars, not the Conservative Party's dollars, but my dollars and these health care professionals' dollars, on ads that were simply entirely misleading. Speaker after speaker came to the Law Amendments Committee and quoted chapter and verse to anybody who was willing to listen about how misleading those ads were.

Only to take the most obvious example, Mr. Speaker, this idea that came from the poll by the way that these professionals would be the highest paid in Atlantic Canada if only they would accept the offer, but we know now, and the Premier said it again today, we know now that that is true only for the next few days until Newfoundland renegotiates their collective agreement, which is up at the end of June. Now they won't literally have it renegotiated on June 30th but, in the normal course, it will be renegotiated and it will be made retroactive to June 30th.

So these Nova Scotia health professionals, even the few who, in fact, would be the highest paid in Atlantic Canada, very few and not by very much, it's only for six days; five days now because since I came to this House the day has turned over, it is now Tuesday. Here I am, Mr. Speaker, an elected member of the Legislature, having been here all night, speaking at 5:55 in the morning, at the most draconian piece of legislation that anybody has seen in living memory. How can this be about democracy? How can this be about doing the right thing, being here at this time of the night, to a government that hasn't listened before Bill No. 68, hasn't listened during Bill No. 68.

Mr. Speaker, if only the people of Nova Scotia could see what I see as I look across the floor now. I see members lolling in their chairs, I see members reading the newspaper, I see a gaggle standing over by the doorway chatting amongst themselves. I am not sure that there is a single member on the government side whose ears are turned this way. Certainly their faces aren't. I am not sure there is a single member who is paying the least bit of attention. I guess we all get used to that after awhile.

I guess, Mr. Speaker, that Nova Scotians shouldn't expect, that in their Legislature, that anybody should actually pay attention to what is being said, because I know that they have their hearts set on doing this, this monumentally wrong thing. So I am speaking to my

[Page 5832]

constituents now, if not to them. I am speaking to their constituents, if they won't listen to them.

Mr. Speaker, Cabinet orders are wrong as a means of setting the terms of employment, because for all the reasons that I have talked about, there is no trust anymore. There is not shred of trust left. Nobody believes that this government will do the right thing, nobody; not a single member of those health care bargaining units, certainly nobody on this side of the House. I have not spoken to a single person who believes that this government is capable of doing the right thing.

Mr. Speaker, Bill No. 68 is fundamentally wrong because it is driven by the government's tax cuts, election-mongering promise that they made two years ago. Before the last election, the Premier said that he would not promise any tax cuts because nobody would believe him. Then one week later he stood up and promised a tax cut. In the week in between, one can only imagine who got to him. Certainly the spin doctors, the campaign managers, the backroom boys, they all got to him and said, John, you have to promise a tax cut.

I am so sorry and I am so ashamed that every part of the government's agenda, whether it's health or education or the environment or social assistance or seniors is now driven by the desire of this government, two years from now, just before they call an election, to promise a tax cut to the richest Nova Scotians because it is by now clear that not every Nova Scotian qualifies for this tax cut. It is only the people who pay Nova Scotia tax. Figures released by the Minister of Finance show, conclusively, that there are literally hundreds of thousands of Nova Scotians who are too poor to pay any Nova Scotia tax at all, so that the tax cut offers them precisely nothing and, yet, it is driving this government's entire agenda. Because before the next election, they want everybody to forget what just happened here; they want everybody to forget the chaos in education that they caused last year. They want everybody to forget the chaos in health care they are causing this year by dangling the carrot of a tax cut - a small tax cut I might add - in front of the best-off amongst us. That is what is driving this because if that was off the table, they would have the money to do this.

If the Premier hence said in a politically motivated speech two years ago something that he knew to be wrong, and that is come hell or high water, no matter what the circumstances of the province, a tax cut would be offered four years hence, Mr. Speaker, if he hadn't promised that, then all things are possible because then we could have a real debate about what exactly it is that ought to be done with the revenues of the Government of Nova Scotia but instead we have a government that is obsessed with the idea that two years from now, no matter what, it is going to offer that tax cut.

Mr. Speaker, that is just about politics. It is not about public health, it is not about public safety, it is about politics and that is what lies behind Bill No. 68 in the form that it lies on the table today. The government would like us to forget that the fundamental promise

[Page 5833]

of the Conservative campaign in 1999 and also in 1998 was to fix the health care system. They want us to believe that the agenda that they ran on was eliminating the deficit but it wasn't. If you want me to quote chapter and verse, I will.

The blue book says that the most urgent priority of a Hamm Government would be fixing the health care system. The blue book says that a Conservative Government would put health care first in every single thing it does. The ads that were on the radio, and if any of the members want to hear them, I have the ads. I have them on tape, I will play them for you, promise more doctors, more nurses, that is what your ads said. You didn't promise anything but to fix the health care system. You promised better working conditions for nurses and other professionals. You promised to bring them along every step of the way and you didn't.

From the day after the election the backpeddling started and the big PR campaign started to say that that is not what you actually promised. Well I am here to say that it was. That is exactly what you promised to your constituents and they elected you. They voted for you and it is not what you are doing. Can you imagine for one second, Mr. Speaker, if that gang over there had promised what it is in fact that they have actually done? Can you imagine if they had promised cutbacks in education last year or that they would decide in the middle of negotiations for a collective agreement that well, by gosh and by golly, Nova Scotia really needs essential services legislation and they are going to outlaw all strikes until they can order essential services legislation by Cabinet Order.

Do you think that a one of them would have been elected if that is what they had actually said in their ads? Of course not, Mr. Speaker. The spin doctors triumphed over the family doctor. John Hamm, Pictou County doctor, became a politician. He is a politician now first and foremost. I don't think he knows which end is up. I don't think he knows the truth anymore. I don't think he knows what it is to keep a promise.

Mr. Speaker, as if we didn't have plenty of examples, as if we didn't have a mountain of examples of what I am talking about, in Question Period this morning, here we are in a democracy and we had Question Period at about 2:00 a.m. this morning. The Premier said in the face of a public opinion poll commissioned by his government that it wasn't actually a public opinion poll, it was research. That is what he said. That is what any person on the street would call a public opinion poll. It is what I call a public opinion poll, it is what they call a public opinion poll, but John Hamm stands up in the House tonight and says, well, no, it wasn't really a public opinion poll, it was research. So that nice family doctor who we all thought we were getting turns out to be somebody who can turn on a dime, who can split hairs about anything, who can say that words don't mean what they really mean, that up is down, that in is out.

[Page 5834]

[6:00 a.m.]

Mr. Speaker, that's what we have now. We have a politician bringing forward a highly political piece of legislation under the guise of public safety. Bill No. 68 is so wrong because there are alternatives. The government has alternatives and you all know you have alternatives that are less destructive than Bill No. 68. This legislation is just as draconian as it could possibly be. At every point where you had a choice, you chose the toughest, most uncompromising, the most stubborn, the worst option for public policy in Nova Scotia.

You chose to forbid strikes everywhere in Nova Scotia for three years. You didn't have to do that. You chose to say that it was the Cabinet that would set the terms of employment, not an arbitrator, not at the bargaining table, but that it would be the Cabinet. You chose to say that in a democracy under the rule of law that people would have no recourse to the courts to challenge whether the Cabinet had made appropriate decisions or even whether the pre-conditions for making its decisions apply. Well, the question has come up about whether that is unconstitutional.

Mr. Speaker, I can tell you as a lawyer who spent just a little bit of time in constitutional law, of course, it is unconstitutional. Of course, it is. You know it is. I know it is because the Supreme Court of Canada ruled 20 years ago, in a case that could be cited by any first year law student, called Crevier, that this kind of clause is unconstitutional. It is so unconstitutional that the courts won't allow it to stand and they will do something called reading down where they'll pretend that it is constitutional because you just can't block recourse to the courts even if you want to.

So in the face of the fact that for 20 years every lawyer in Canada knows that this provision is unconstitutional, what's it doing in Bill No. 68? Why is it there? Mr. Speaker, there are alternatives. There is unanimous condemnation of Bill No. 68, certainly from the trade union movement across Nova Scotia and across Canada, but also from the Teachers Union, the Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions, and that radical anti-establishment body, the Medical Society of Nova Scotia, you know as well as I do, folks over there, that the district health authorities are opposed to this. They are opposed to the way the government is doing it, but you know best. You say that you know best.

Mr. Speaker, I wonder if I could ask how much time I have left.

MR. SPEAKER: Yes, the honourable member has until 6:10 a.m.

MR. STEELE: Mr. Speaker, there is unanimous condemnation of Bill No. 68. The Premier continues to say over and over again that what he is doing is being stubborn, as if stubbornness has somehow become a virtue. Where I was brought up, when my mother said I was being stubborn, she didn't mean it as a compliment. She really didn't mean it as a compliment and, do you know what, there is a very fine line between being a courageous

[Page 5835]

leader and being a stubborn old fool and I think I know on which side of the line that Premier and this government has staked out its ground because the Premier seems to think that this legislation shows that his government is strong.

Well, I am here to say, Mr. Speaker, with regret and sadness that I can't do more, that the one thing that Bill No. 68 shows conclusively is that this government is weak. It is very weak in its heart, in its spirit. In its soul it is weak, because if there was an ounce of leadership on that side of the House, if there was an ounce of leadership, you would be at the bargaining table negotiating with these health care professionals in free and fair collective bargaining without the gun of Bill No. 68 to their heads and to the heads of every single health care worker in Nova Scotia. Not only that, but to every public sector employee in Nova Scotia because the government has sent signals as clear as it can be that this is only the beginning.

Real leadership means free and fair collective bargaining. Real leadership means that if you believe that the offers you have put on the table are fair and right for Nova Scotians you will not be afraid of binding arbitration. You will not be afraid because if it is fair, then that's exactly what an arbitrator will find. So you know that it is not fair what you're doing. You know it because you're too weak and you don't even have enough leadership to send it to binding arbitration. To not even allow this Legislature to debate an amendment that would propose binding arbitration, you are weak, and you have to tell yourselves that you are strong and I am here to tell you that that is not so.

Mr. Speaker, if this government were strong, it would not be afraid to listen to Nova Scotians. It would not engage in the bullying tactics that it has. It would not have shut down the Law Amendments Committee, which is the jewel of the Nova Scotia Legislature, where no matter what goes on in this nuthouse, this place where there is what no reasonable person would call debate, that if this nuthouse can't even have one word of real debate, that at the very least . . .

MR. WILLIAM LANGILLE: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. I hope I heard wrong, but I heard the honourable member refer to this House as a nuthouse, the Legislature of Nova Scotia.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: What? Shame. Shame.

MR. LANGILLE: On a point of order, would you bring him to order, Mr. Speaker?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I apologize, I was conversing with another honourable member and if, in fact, the honourable member did use that terminology, I would ask the honourable member to withdraw that type of reference to this Legislature, please.

MR. STEELE: Sure, Mr. Speaker, I withdraw the comment.

[Page 5836]

If this government showed an ounce of leadership it would listen to Nova Scotians. If this government had an ounce of leadership it would allow its backbenchers to vote their conscience and vote the way that their constituents are telling them to vote. You know it. If they had an ounce of leadership this government would not be ramming this bill through the House the way it is, in defiance of the Rules of the House, in defiance of everything that is right and fair about a democracy, in defiance of all the traditions of collective bargaining in Nova Scotia, in defiance ultimately of what the people of Nova Scotia are saying because, as I said, Bill No. 68 at the end of the day is about us, our friends, our neighbours, our communities. It is about ourselves.

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

The honourable member for Victoria.

MR. KENNETH MACASKILL: Mr. Speaker, what a way to begin a new day. If I recall right, I started probably an hour later yesterday morning and the difference I see, of course, is there seems to be a brighter audience across the way in terms of being awake, being alert and I might add maybe a little testy.

Mr. Speaker, for the next few moments I want to continue the debate on Bill No. 68. I have to admit to the House that I never considered one of my strong points is speaking, but if there is anything about Bill No. 68, there are lots of things to talk about. You can speak for two hours a day on the clippings you take out of the newsprint each day and they are certainly not in support of Bill No. 68 any more than I am.

Bill No. 68, the Healthcare Services Continuation (2001) Act, is tantamount to the admission that the government is not offering nurses or health care workers a fair deal. That is what we hear daily, this government's lack of respect for the health care workers of this province, and that's a shame. That's what we have heard many times in almost every speech made here, or every time a member got on his feet. I think we all agree on one point that the government will ultimately pay the price for Bill No. 68 because this bill represents the demise of collective bargaining in Nova Scotia.

This bill will allow the government to overrule any decision reached in any labour negotiations and, Mr. Speaker, this government is turning back the clock on workers and their rights in Nova Scotia by 100 years. Some would say that this bill is nothing more than union busting, but it may not come so easily because shotgun bargaining will not go over well in this province among our workforce, not only the health care workers, but any unionized labour organization or workforce in the province because normally when there is a legislated solution to a strike - which we don't even know if we will have one yet, but apparently we're going to - what usually happens is that there's a trade-off.

[Page 5837]

If a group is deemed to be an essential service, then they are usually offered binding arbitration as an alternative to striking. This contains no such trade-off in this bill that's before us today. The fact is that the government - or you may say, Mr. Speaker, the employer - is taking no risk in this process. The government is trying to distance itself from the role of the employer. It is the de facto employer. The nurses work for the DHAs. The DHAs get their budgets from the Department of Health and the Department of Health is directed by Cabinet.

Mr. Speaker, following the route of the purse strings, it is clear that the nurses, in fact, will be working for the Cabinet and picture this scenario playing out in the private sector. General Motors could never get away with negotiating with a union and then having the final offer simply handed down from the board. Can you imagine that? But this government thinks they can do that and get away with it.

Mr. Speaker, as I said, they are turning back the clock on labour relations 100 years and the Minister of Health indicated that he had only one example of this happening in another jurisdiction and that was New Brunswick, and that bill, while similar, does not provide the same omnipotent powers for Cabinet that this Nova Scotia Government does. It, however, seems to be the only available precedent for this bill. It seems we have another example of one Tory Government following the bad lead set by another.

[6:15 a.m.]

Mr. Speaker, the problem with this is that the definitions from the Trade Union Act do not necessarily fit this bill. For example, the definition of collective agreement means an agreement signed by both parties or their agents. This will, obviously, not be the case if an Order in Council, posing as a collective agreement, is put in place as a contract. That means that the definition they are using simply does not match the bill. As any lawyer can tell you, the definitions are probably the most important part of any piece of legislation. They dictate the language on which any discussion on the bill will take place. At the moment, this bill is nothing but gibberish.

Mr. Speaker, this bill sets out that this Act takes priority over the Trade Union Act, and that means that things in the Trade Union Act, such as the requirement for bargaining in good faith, may no longer apply to negotiations with the province. We asked, at the Law Amendments Committee, to have certain provisions to be included as superseding this bill and we were denied. The problem is that things like the ability to form a union, organize a union, and the requirement to bargain in good faith are all in the Trade Union Act and will, almost certainly, be ignored when this bill will be passed.

It also provides the list of groups the Act applies to, which could easily be amended. This, again, comes back to the question of definitions. As we will mention in Section 12, this could easily be amended to include anyone they wanted to include. During the Law

[Page 5838]

Amendments Committee the Justice Minister gave a rather unconventional commitment that it was not the intention of the government to include others at a later time but, Mr. Speaker, how do we know that? We suggested it would be more appropriate to make the minister responsible for the Public Service Commission responsible. They didn't agree. At the very least, there should be some recognition that along with being a health bill, this should be a labour bill, as well. That minister has been almost completely silent on this entire issue.

Again, Mr. Speaker, we proposed at the Law Amendments Committee that this would be changed in 2002 and the only reason to leave it like this is a political one. The Justice Minister more or less admitted that this date was to fit in with their fiscal plans and not their plans for health care. Moreover, this clause fits with their plans for re-election. In other words, the date of 2004 would allow them to legislate another contract in three years' time so that this issue would not be surfacing during an election campaign.

Mr. Speaker, we believe this is a troublesome bill, troublesome in many ways, but the repeated government phrase is, we are doing this for the health and safety of Nova Scotians. Now there are many of us who don't believe that, because if they were doing this for the good of Nova Scotians they would come to an agreement or reach a settlement one way or the other with our health care workers. We believe that this is simply a red herring, simply misleading Nova Scotians. By selling this bill as necessary to protect the health and safety of Nova Scotians in of itself is reason to question it.

After all, the Capital District Health Authority and the unions affected have developed an emergency plan, and we believe this issue was dealt with and we believe there was no need for us to be debating Bill No. 68. There is no evidence that the public will be at significant risk as a result of job action, given the agreement reached on an emergency plan. Other district health authorities have said that their emergency plans are fine should there be a strike. Therefore this government should have done the right thing and removed this bill, get back to the bargaining table and hammer out a true collective agreement.

That's the way to reach agreements today, Mr. Speaker. A collective agreement is one that is agreed on by two parties. If the employer dictates a settlement, then one can assume that the other party has not had the opportunity to bargain in good faith. The very fact that this bill contains the words collective agreement, yet enables the government to dictate a settlement is ample reason that we don't need this bill.

Mr. Speaker, as I began my remarks and we talked about the many letters to the editors and the letters we received, all the MLAs received, most of them because I see they're copied to all MLAs, but let me touch on this one from Estelle Forbes-Doucet, RN. I will just read a small portion of it. In the third paragraph, "Yes, I am a nurse with 31 years experience. My speciality is pediatric hematology, oncology. Your recent decision has made me feel frustrated and devalued as a human being. I have no idea as to what words I could use to

[Page 5839]

convince you that this Bill No. 68 will defray our present Health Care System beyond repair." Beyond repair, she states.

AN HON. MEMBER: Where is she from?

MR. MACASKILL: She is President of the Nova Scotia Nurses' Union at the IWK-Grace Health Centre, 900 plus members. "Nurses are working short in many hospitals in our province." She asks: "Do you honestly believe that your present proposal is fair wages. I have watched my cheque dwindle over the past 10 years, making it difficult to keep up with the cost of living."

Mr. Speaker, that's one of many. Robin Crickmere from Lunenburg writes a letter. "Insulting Bill" is the title, I am appalled at Premier John Hamm's ham-fisted attempt to break the nurses and health care technician's union with a bill that will prevent them from striking and give Cabinet the power to settle collective bargaining issues. It is insulting to nurses and health care workers and an obvious retrogressive step in labour relations. If Premier Hamm thinks that ordinary Nova Scotians will be taken in by this transparent concern for our health and well-being, he is I believe sadly mistaken. Hamm must be both blind and politically inept if he cannot see and understand the correlation that people will make between politicians feasting at the money trough as they given themselves huge salary increases while this government offers paltry scraps for nurses and health care workers. Most of all, Mr. Speaker, it removes bargaining rights.

The very fact that this bill contains the words collective agreement, yet enables the government to dictate a settlement, is very unfair. There is perhaps a more compelling reason that this Bill No. 68, as presented by this government, is more of a threat to public safety than it will do any good. Bill No. 68 will ensure there will be short-staffed hospitals and overworked health care workers for many years to come. We believe that the public is at risk now. When they go to a hospital and are cared for by an over-tired, stressed-out health care professional, the situation will be worse.

Mr. Speaker, this bill is all about government extracting a wage agreement on favourable terms for the government and nothing else. If the government thinks their offer is so fair, why are they unwilling to put their offer to the test of an arbitrator? That is where this agreement should be.

The issue before us today is an issue between unionized workers and their employer. Where both sides should be is at a table with an arbitrator. Government should, for no other reason, at least give them the opportunity to do that. Mr. Speaker, we believe it is fair and would be fair to all involved. Workers would know they are being treated fairly and independently from government. Nova Scotia would know once and for all that their offer made was a fair and reasonable one, let's hope.

[Page 5840]

Mr. Speaker, this bill was never needed because we believe it does absolutely nothing to ensure the health and safety of Nova Scotians. It does nothing to address the fundamental health care worker, nursing shortages in our province. What it does do is give the Cabinet extraordinary powers which will do nothing but drive health care professionals from our province.

Mr. Speaker, as I said earlier, this bill is nothing but a red herring. It is an attempt by the government to manipulate its own agenda, and I believe an agenda which misleads the people of Nova Scotia into believing that this bill is all about protection of health and safety. Nothing can be further from the truth.

Almost two weeks ago, Mr. Speaker, June 14th was the day this bill was tabled. Prior to that day we had both parties at the bargaining table, negotiating in good faith. At that time even the groups that weren't in conciliation were scheduled to be in conciliation. A day after the government appointed a mediator, it decided to call the House into session to pass back-to-work legislation.

Mr. Speaker, health care services were still being provided without interruption. A day after appointing the mediator, then came Bill No. 68. If Nova Scotians reflect back, it was when this bill was tabled that the continuation of health care services was at immediate risk, and rightly so. Mr. Speaker, that is when the health care workers got angry. It was after this bill that health care workers, in some cases, began a work-to-rule, in post-June 14th, that the health and safety of Nova Scotias was placed in jeopardy.

[6:30 a.m.]

Contrary to the title, Bill No. 68 is about two distinct things, none of which is about the continuation of health care services in Nova Scotia. First and foremost, Bill No. 68 is about a lack of respect for our health care professionals in Nova Scotia. That is the sore point with our health care professionals in our province. They told us, they told the government, and they told the hospital boards that they had contingency plans in place in the event of a strike, yet even though government was not aware of the contents of the contingency plan the government said they were simply not good enough. Yet they didn't know what the contingency plans were.

What government is doing is sending a message to health care professionals that they don't trust them to carry out contingency plans, that they don't trust them to provide services and care in times of emergency. Mr. Speaker, that is a shame. If health care professionals adhere to the bill everything will be all right. Now that is taking a huge step, isn't it? Nothing can be further from the truth. How can any government ever expect that the services that will be provided after the passing of this bill will ever be of the same high quality as pre-June 14?

[Page 5841]

Mr. Speaker, health care professionals are angry. Young professionals will turn to other jurisdictions where they know they will be respected, leaving a further strain on our already strained system. Yes, some health care professionals will stay, no doubt those who stay have five years or so left before they retire. If we put ourselves in their shoes for a moment, how would anyone like to work in a workplace where the employer doesn't trust them, or even respect them? Morale will be low and the ability of the health care system to sustain itself down the road will be greatly jeopardized with the passing of Bill No. 68. While this bill may be a finger-in-the-dike approach in terms of providing for the continuation of health care services post-June 27th, or even the first couple of weeks of July, it does nothing but jeopardize the continuation of health care services three months, two months, or one month down the road.

Mr. Speaker, we all know the view that this government takes to the continuation of health care services in this province is truly frightening. The government fails to recognize the negative spiralling effect this bill will have on the recruitment of not only those directly affected by the bill, but those not even mentioned in the bill. When specialists look at settling in the region, they first and foremost look at the team that will be there to support them. Just imagine for a moment that a paramedic or a pediatric cardiologist is looking to make a career change and to settle in Nova Scotia. He or she will first look at whether there is a well-motivated, experienced team of health care professionals to support his or her practice, and Bill No. 68 threatens the existence of these experienced, motivated teams of health care professional.

Specialists looking to settle in Nova Scotia will likely think twice. Those specialists already here will likely think about leaving - where there is a greater opportunity - an opportunity for them to go where they will be respected and where their employer will appreciate their hard work and their dedication. Bill No. 68, pure and simple, will likely mark the deterioration of specialists' services being offered in our province.

Another item that appeared in the paper recently called "Better Wake Up" to the editor and it goes on to say, "Almost 30 years of backbreaking shift work, often in dangerous situations, split second decisions, chronic lack of sleep, missing concerts and family events, being coach and confidant, observer and reporter. Always being there, assuming duties others refuse to do, getting little respect and poor wages. Want a nursing job in Nova Scotia? John Hamm and Jamie Muir better wake up. The majority of nurses in this province are headed for retirement and we're getting out. Other provinces are investing in the future and trying to arrest a nursing shortage. Way to go, Nova Scotia Government. Get it backwards, as usual.". That is from Dianne Miller, Registered Nurse, in Halifax.

Another letter here from Kim Shore-MacAllister, President, Dartmouth General local, Nova Scotia Nurses' Union. Kim says, "John Hamm and Jamie Muir would like the public to believe the employers of the nine district health authorities were not satisfied with the essential services provisions as set by the employer-union joint committee. On June 15 the

[Page 5842]

executives from the acute care locals of Nova Scotia Nurses' Union met in Truro. We contacted our representative site managers and asked them to debate these allegations. The manager at my site of employment confirmed that he was quite happy with the conclusion reached by both the union and the employer for essential services. Many others received the same message from their employers." Who are you going to believe?

There is ample evidence that there was a strong contingency plan as seen by many people in the profession who knew the contingency plan was sound. But, no, our government didn't believe that. Perhaps a better name for the title of this bill, a name which better reflects its content and intent would be, Bill No. 68, healthcare services elimination Act.

This government is failing to be up front with Nova Scotians. Bill No. 68 is about a settlement with health care professionals that will not jeopardize their ability to provide a 10 per cent tax cut prior to going to the polls in the next election.

If the Premier is so concerned about the state of the province's finances, which he said is what this bill was all about, why aren't there any debt payments until 2007? Because, we believe this government is receiving record amounts of revenue and will continue to do so for the next five years. To state otherwise, is merely misleading Nova Scotians. This government forecasted money in their restructuring fund last year, but in this year's budget, a large chunk of what they have forecasted seems to have gone missing.

The Minister of Finance has said, don't worry, this money has gone to other departments. But our question is, where and for what purpose? Let's not kid ourselves, this government has led Nova Scotians down a garden path. Instead of the bill being about the continuation of health care services, it is all about having extra money at their disposal to buy off their friends just prior to the next election.

Perhaps the government's efforts would have been better spent in being up front with Nova Scotians with the following questions: given that we have record revenues coming into Nova Scotia, would you rather see this government invest these revenues to ensure that we maintain the stable health care system, or would you rather that we spent it to pay off our friends so that we can win the next election?

We said that on many occasions, at least I have said it on a number of occasions, if Nova Scotians were polled, or they were asked what would they prefer, a tax cut in year four - of course we know why it would be in year four, why this government would want it in year four - what would Nova Scotians want, a small tax cut or a firm and solid health care system?

I said this morning that we are an aging population and we appreciate, respect and we look forward to having a viable health care system and health care providers as we reach our golden years. It would appear that this government - to ask Nova Scotians this very

[Page 5843]

fundamental question, instead they focus on putting money aside for four years down the road when they will be prepared to go to the people for another mandate. Given this government's true agenda in terms of exacting a settlement that suits their political purpose, this bill could be called, Bill No. 68, may read protection of the Tory re-election fund (2004) Act. Bill No. 68 is quite clearly misnamed. If this bill were about ensuring Nova Scotians that health care services are to continue in Nova Scotia, then this government should have put in a provision for binding arbitration.

The government just assumed that binding arbitration would be too costly or would break the bank, but how do we know? At least if they had looked for binding arbitration, that way health care professionals would have known that their offer was being judged not by a government who didn't trust them, but by someone from the outside who would judge it for the merits contained within the offer. That is what we are talking about and that is why we are debating and that is why we are fighting Bill No. 68.

We believe that Nova Scotians are fair-minded. If you take away a right, you replace this right with something in return. If you had offered binding arbitration, the people of Nova Scotia would have known that their government was treating our very valuable health care professionals with respect and fairness, at least it would be perceived that way.

In every jurisdiction in this country that has removed this right to strike for health care professionals, they have replaced it with binding arbitration. Why would this government, who has spent large sums of money to advertise their offer as fair, why would they not be willing to place this offer in front of an independent arbitrator to judge it as such? Instead, this government is determined to jeopardize the continuation and, indeed, the sustainability of health care services in Nova Scotia by proceeding with this Bill No. 68 as it is.

Mr. Speaker, Nova Scotians may not realize it but this government is leading them down a very dangerous path, a path with a very dangerous cliff at the end. The cliff at the end represents this government's inability not only to retain the health care professionals that they have, but jeopardizes our ability to recruit professionals further down the road. This does not sound like a bill that will provide for the continuation of health care services but one that will jeopardize and eliminate them in future months and years ahead.

[6:45 a.m.]

Nova Scotians will judge this government on their campaign promises to fix the health care system. We heard that repeated over and over again that this government was going to help fix the health care system in the province; fix it with $46 million, remove some bureaucrats, put more money on the front line. This bill, Bill No. 68, will ensure a health care system that will be permanently damaged, one that will take many years to bring it back from the damage that this government has done. On behalf of all Nova Scotians who care about our health care professionals, who care about a system that will be there for them when

[Page 5844]

needed, I implore the government to rethink this very dangerous bill, a bill that will create a health care system that will never be able to recover as a result of Bill No. 68.

Mr. Speaker, some health care workers will put up with the assaults of this government knowing that their families can grow up in the same stability that they did. Some nurses will put up with what Shakespeare called "the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune" because they know, as I said earlier, that in a few years, 10, 5 years, whatever, they will be able to retire and they will be out of the system. In fact, many will probably retire before five years and it is not right and it is not fair and it is downright mean what we are doing in Bill No. 68.

The Health Minister, the Premier and the entire government caucus do not realize, however, that those few nurses that are graduating will not put up with the disrespect and the scorn heaped upon them by this government. As nurses graduate they will look for a greener pasture, they will look for employment in the United States, Boston for instance, where they will receive a much better wage. They know that many American hospitals will pay them to move to the United States, they know that they can get signing bonuses anywhere from $3,000 to $10,000.

Nurses know that if they go to the United States, if they go anywhere outside Nova Scotia, that they can work two 12 hours shifts and they know that they won't be called back for the third shift without any overtime pay. They know that they can work flexible hours and spend more time with their families, friends and loved ones, and they know that they can take education upgrades paid for by their employer knowing full well that they will have time to do further study if needed. They know that if they leave Nova Scotia they will get respect. That is a word that we use very often, the lack of respect towards our health care professionals by this government.

That is exactly what nurses will do. They will vote with their feet, they will move, they will leave Nova Scotia, not necessarily because they want to but because their government does not care about health care in Nova Scotia or health care professionals. Again, that is what this bill is all about. It is about attacking the integrity of nurses and other health care workers in our province. This bill is a threat to the health and safety of Nova Scotians and not the nurses. The nurses will be protected, not in this province but they will find a place where they will be respected. By driving nurses out of the province, this bill will close beds, it will also increase wait times and cause elective surgeries to be cancelled on a daily basis. Mr. Speaker, I don't know if this government really cares.

Mr. Speaker, this government is spending a lot of taxpayers' dollars on advertising, and advertising the salaries of nurses, but it is not only salaries we are talking about here, we are talking about the shortage of nurses. It is not the salaries that is the main issue with the nursing profession or the health care workers in Nova Scotia, it is the opportunity for them to move elsewhere, where there are better salaries. That is what this government should be

[Page 5845]

concerned about, the shortage and the opportunities out there for nurses and other health care workers.

Mr. Speaker, when we talk about the issues and the effects of Bill No. 68, one thing that my mind keeps reflecting on is the difference between Bill No. 68 and what this government promised in the last election campaign. We refer to the Tory blue book, where this Premier has made so many comments, travelling across this province telling Nova Scotians what he was going to do for health care and now, today, we see a completely opposite Premier.

From the Tory blue book, "A John Hamm Government will: Stop spending taxpayers money on politically-motivated advertising." Now, Mr. Speaker, what happened to this promise? We heard today in Question Period of the government spending more money on polling relative to Bill No. 68. We believe the polling, we also believe the advertisements in our daily newspapers are politically-motivated advertising. That is exactly what this Premier said they would not do. In typical Tory fashion, they have ignored this promise, and there were others, Mr. Speaker, but now I want to turn to salaries.

This bill is basically about limiting the salaries of nurses. There are other issues and probably more important issues, but the government says it cannot afford salary increases. They say that one day, they say it is all about money, and on another day they say it is about the health and safety of Nova Scotians. No salaries for nurses, Mr. Speaker, but let's look at the following employees of the Department of Health and the salaries of senior staff of our district health authorities and others. I spoke about that earlier, the Premier said that is where the cuts were going to come, from the bureaucrats at the top, and the money would go to the front-line workers. That is what this government said they would not do; instead; they did the opposite, loaded the bureaucrats at the top and now there is no money left for our front-line workers.

Mr. Speaker, this bill is a monster coming out of the Cabinet. It is a politically- motivated, neo-Conservative bill that takes away, most of all, the collective bargaining rights of our workers. Community health boards have no say in the system, but the CEOs do. In fact the CEOs of the Capital Health District claim that this bill does not take away the collective bargaining rights of nurses but, Mr. Speaker, it is pretty clear, very clear indeed, that the CEO has not read the bill.

Mr. Speaker, in a speech at the Yarmouth Regional Hospital on July 26, 1999, the Premier said, and I will quote, "That is why our health care platform lays out very specific commitments . . . with very specific time frames . . . that include care givers as an integral and important part of finding answers to our health care challenges." Now, how many caregivers did the Cabinet consult when they were drafting Bill No. 68? The fact is this bill is about telling health care workers that they do not have a voice. It says that we, the Cabinet, will tell you when you will work and for how much and if you don't like it, tough. In fact,

[Page 5846]

if you don't like it, you can't appeal to the courts. Cabinet is saying and we will take away your right to strike, your right to collective bargaining, and your right as a human being to work under livable conditions. That is what the Cabinet is saying to our health care workers. What's worse is this bill is being forced on health care workers with the full complicity of all the Tory caucus.

Mr. Speaker, I spoke this morning about the member for Halifax Bedford Basin in support of this bill, the bill that will impose a contract on nurses and other health care workers. We don't necessarily select the member for Halifax Bedford Basin for any other reason than she represents a riding of the province with a lot of health care professionals because it takes in some of the richest area of the HRM, the Clayton Park area, Bedford, where there are many health care workers. I wonder, does she consult with the health care workers who live in the Halifax Bedford Basin area? There could be as many as 3,000 workers. The member at least owes it to those workers and the nurses in that riding, or any other riding, to explain why she supports such draconian legislation, and that is what it is, it is draconian legislation.

If she won't explain her position to the people of Nova Scotia on the floor of this House, she can explain it on the doorsteps at the next election time, Mr. Speaker. If we can't appeal to her humanity, we can at least appeal to her political instincts and I think that's important because that's when the message will come loud and clear, when we go to the doorsteps in the next election.

Mr. Speaker, the member for Kings North has become a self-styled conscience of the Tory caucus and he has a column in The Daily News where recently he talked about the power of apologies. I know the member for Kings North has very strong and rigid beliefs indeed which I find no fault with, but I wonder, what message can this member take to the nurses for forcing them to take a contract without negotiations? If this member has a conscience, or any other member, he would at least speak to this bill which he did and, again, the member for Kings North always says that substantial debate never happens in this House.

If there were ever a time to speak in this House, it is now. This is perhaps the most substantial piece of legislation to hit the floor of the House this year, not because it protects the safety of Nova Scotians, because it jeopardizes the safety of Nova Scotians. It means that there will be fewer nurses and more overworked nurses. It means delays in lab tests and it means delays in surgery and delays for almost any procedure. Mr. Speaker, I cannot imagine why this government just doesn't get it. As I mentioned a number of times, there is a nursing shortage throughout North America. Does any Tory member understand that? I know Tories are big fans of the marketplace. They are big supporters of the laws of supply and demand and that is what this bill is about, supply and demand of health care professionals. It is just too bad that this government doesn't respect the laws of the land by taking away the rights of appeal to the courts. Simply put, the demand dictates that this government is going to have

[Page 5847]

to pay nurses what they are worth but, most of all, the government will have to ensure better working conditions.

[7:00 a.m.]

Mr. Speaker, nursing is a fine profession. I believe nurses should be treated better, but if we do not treat our nurses better, they will simply go where they will get the price that supply dictates. We may not be able to keep our existing nurses, but no new nurses will come and stay in this province. This government's defence is simply, today, we do not have enough money. Tomorrow it will be about health and safety, but if we do not have enough money, whose fault is that? It is not the nurses, or it may be, Mr. Speaker, or is it the taxpayer?

If this government is short of money it is because they are mismanaging the funds of this province. Since the fall of 1999 this government has received $613 million in additional revenues. In fact, if you add $140 million from the sale of NSRL, this government has received $753 million in extra revenue. Many will question this government's ability because if they couldn't balance the budget with that kind of money, they never will. If they can't balance a budget and have money left over for health care, they never will and it is not enough; according to the Atlantic Provinces Economic Council, this government will receive an additional $600 million in federal transfers.

Mr. Speaker, that is a lot of money. We're talking a lot of money, but what this government is really saying is that we have to nickel and dime health care and health care workers so that we can pay for a tax cut down the road in time for the next election or, as they put it, in year four. It is bad enough that taxes are going out through the back door because of bracket creep and it is bad enough that the provincial portion of the federal tax was taken away from Nova Scotians, now they are picking the pockets of our health care workers to pay for a tax cut, but the nursing crisis is about supply and demand which I stated earlier.

This government is comparing the salaries of Nova Scotians with other Atlantic Provinces, but as has been said over and over again, we are not losing nurses to New Brunswick, we are losing nurses to the New England States where they get paid a much bigger salary because of the shortage of nurses throughout the continent. We are losing nurses to Ontario where the maximum salary is $59,000. We are losing nurses to Alberta where salaries are over $55,000 and much better opportunities and no sales tax, but it seems that this government will keep its head buried in the sand. They can keep their heads buried in the sand if they like, but Nova Scotians will be the losers. Nova Scotia will lose nurses and other health care workers because there is a North American shortage of nurses, something like 126,000 in the U.S. alone. That means that Nova Scotians will have to step up to the plate or nurses will leave the province.

[Page 5848]

Not only is there a shortage of nurses, but the United States also need 46,000 pharmacists, lab technicians, X-ray technicians, and physiotherapists. Mr. Speaker, all over North America there is a demand for all health care professionals.

Mr. Speaker, let's look at what the Premier said about health care workers on Saturday, June 19, 1999, at the QE II Health Sciences Centre. I applaud the efforts of each and every health care worker, doctors, nurses, technicians, orderlies, and cooks, they are all doing their part to provide good health care in this province.

What is the Premier saying now? Well, so far the Premier is saying Bill No. 68 is what we need in Nova Scotia, not a fair settlement with nurses and their health care workers. That is why we are debating, that is why we are so opposed to Bill No. 68, because on this side of the House Bill No. 68 is a disgrace and a slap in the face to our health care professionals and our nurses. In fact, Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Health stood in this House, and I must also add that so did the Premier and most of the Tory caucus, and they defended Bill No. 68. But most Nova Scotians believe that this bill is an attack on health care workers and a severe attack on their health care.

This government says they need this bill to protect public safety, but we believe this bill has nothing to do with public safety. Do you honestly think that a government that would not pass a bill to protect children from wearing helmets while using their scooters or roller blades really cares about public safety? If this government cared about public safety it would twin Highway No. 101, without or without federal help, just as the honourable member for Hants West promised. If this government cared about public safety they would not have lowered fines on tobacco smuggling. If this government cared about public safety they would clean up the tar ponds and the coke oven sites in Sydney.

Mr. Speaker, if this government cared about public safety it would implement concrete crime-prevention initiatives instead of the legislation we see in front of us today. If this government cared about public safety, they would devote every new tobacco tax dollar to help fight tobacco use among our young people. If this government cared about public safety they would not allow cuts to physical education programs.

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

MR. MACASKILL: Mr. Speaker, the government requires truck drivers and bus drivers to limit their hours on the road, but nurses they expect to keep working 12-hour shifts, shift after shift and without overtime pay. We believe this bill is about the government flexing its muscles. This bill is about taking away collective bargaining rights; this bill is about taking the right of appeal away from Nova Scotians; and it is about dictating the terms of a contract with no input from health care professionals. This bill has nothing to do with public safety and everything to do with satisfying the ego of the Premier and his Cabinet.

[Page 5849]

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

The honourable member for Hants East.

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, I want to say it is certainly a formidable task to be the speaker following the previous speaker.

Mr. Speaker, I want to know if you had a chance to be outside the House this morning, if you had a chance to walk at all around the building or down the street. I want you to be aware that if you haven't had an opportunity, it is a beautiful day in Nova Scotia. I would say that Nova Scotians, probably, by now, are awake and on their way to work and I think for many of them carry a heavy load on their way to work. I would say that just as there was no joy in Mudville when mighty Casey struck out, for Nova Scotians, today, there is no joy in what is one of the most beautiful provinces in this country, one of the most beautiful countries on the face of the earth, one that has been recognized by the United Nations as the finest place in the world in which to live, I think, six or seven years in a row.

Mr. Speaker, it is a shame that that reputation has to be tarnished by legislation that is about to be passed through this House of Assembly today. I want Nova Scotians to be aware that, to a point, I am ashamed to be a member of this House and not to have had more of an effect in changing this piece of legislation or, at most, killing this legislation in the hope that the government may have come to its senses before the end of third reading and before this bill is proclaimed into law.

When I say it is a beautiful day, Mr. Speaker, I don't know if you ever had the experience or the occasion to wake up on days - I think, in particular, of coming from winter into spring in Nova Scotia. Actually we have had a nice spring, there are lots of years when we don't have any spring in Nova Scotia. At one time I worked for a dairy farmer in Milford who had come from Holland and he used to tell me that Nova Scotia has no spring, that in Holland you have a winter, then you have a spring and you have a summer but, in Nova Scotia, the rule rather than the exception is that you have no spring.

For people who carry a burden, in other words, if you have debt that is difficult to manage, if you have a sick loved one, whatever it is, whatever stress you have in your life, then a day like today doesn't mean as much because you have too many overriding concerns. I think for the thousands of health care workers in this province who are getting up and going to work or for those who are just coming off a shift and heading for home tired and hoping that they are not called back on overtime, that today is not a beautiful day and it means not much to them.

Before I am done my last hour that I can speak on this piece of legislation, I want to remind the members opposite of statements they have made. It is interesting how this debate has progressed or regressed from the point this bill was introduced. I want to remind

[Page 5850]

members about a news release by the government on June 13th, and I will quote from that and I will table this when I am through. The comments here are:

[7:15 a.m.]

"'Despite our best efforts to reach agreements through collective bargaining, the threat of multiple strikes now places the well-being of Nova Scotians in jeopardy,' said Mr. Russell. 'We value our health care employees. Without them, the system can't meet people's needs. We must act to protect Nova Scotians.'

'The proposed legislation will allow for collective bargaining to continue,' said Mr. Russell. 'Our hope would be that mediation talks and conciliation processes under way, or requested in the future, will result in negotiated agreements.'

The decision to recall the legislature was prompted by information received today by Health Minister Jamie Muir that a strike by health care workers would leave Nova Scotians without the critical services they need.

'The reductions in beds, services and staff caused by a strike would place people's lives at risk,' said Mr. Muir. 'The government is not prepared to take that risk'

'Fair and reasonable offers have been made to Nova Scotia nurses and other health care workers,' he said. 'The rejection of these offers has left government with little alternative to introducing legislation to ensure the health and safety of Nova Scotians.'"

Well, it is amazing how that spin on health and safety of Nova Scotians had changed. The Opposition had stood here and said, this is not about health and safety. The unions had come up with a contingency plan that actually was quite a good contingency plan, that all critical areas were going to be manned and actually, the union had indicated that some of those departments would have more staff during a strike than they regularly do every day of the week. So, how could health and safety in the most critical areas be compromised by the possibility of a strike?

I am surprised by the government's use of the word fair because their approach to this piece of legislation and what it means to Nova Scotians and how it has demoralized health care workers, I would like to know what the government's definition of fair is.

[Page 5851]

I want to read some comments from The Daily News article by David Rodenhiser, June 24th. This is, I think, from an interview with the Premier. The Premier says, "'I make no bones about it, I got elected on a fiscal agenda. Am I now to abandon it simply because the water is rough? . . . I'll take the political penalties that you pay for doing unpopular things, but I don't want to wear the mantle of being someone who's abandoned what they promised to do for the province. I don't want the ultimate analysis of this government to be a government that was afraid to stand up for what it believes is right.'"

Well, I would say it's pretty hard to fault the Premier for not standing up for what he believes is right, but I think we can fault the Premier for what he sold Nova Scotians. He didn't sell them a fiscal agenda, he sold them compromise, he sold them prudence, but he didn't sell them fiscal agenda at any cost.

I will refer to Strong Leadership . . . . a clear curse - I mean a clear course. What the Premier has said in his blue book, John Hamm's Plan for Nova Scotia, Health Care:

"In addition to our initial investment in nursing we will undertake a comprehensive review of all Nova Scotia hospitals and Homes for Special Care to identify the need for additional nursing staff and provide the necessary resources to fill that need. This will be done in consultation with Nova Scotia nursing unions, . . .", that is interesting consultation, ". . . the Registered Nurses' Association of Nova Scotia, the Nova Scotia Medical Society, the Association of Licensed Practical Nurses, hospital administrators and the continuing care sector. The results of this review will be made public and all shortages immediately addressed;

Reversing the trend to casualize the nursing profession by properly funding full-time nursing positions based on the results of the process noted above;"

So, in other words, they were going to address those needs based on consultation.

But it is interesting that even in the blue book that the Premier had blocked out one section to highlight it. "Increasing the number of nurse training seats or recruiting new nurses to Nova Scotia will not necessarily reverse the nursing shortage. They will not stay unless they have a rewarding professional environment." If the Premier is trying to tell Nova Scotians that this bill is going to create a rewarding professional environment that will attract nurses, he is sadly mistaken.

I want to return to his interview with Mr. Rodenhiser, "'We can't allow fairness to get out of our hands.'" How much of a contradiction can there be in one statement? "'We can't allow fairness to get out of our hands. When you go to unfettered arbitration, then who knows how fairness will be defined.?'" I want to tell the Premier, I want to tell the members

[Page 5852]

opposite, this is how the Webster's new collegiate dictionary defines fairness. "Fair - just, equitable, impartial, unbiased, dispassionate objective, shared meaning element free from favour toward either or any side, fair implies an elimination of personal feelings, interest or prejudices so as to achieve a proper balance of conflicting needs, rights or demands." That is the definition of fair, Mr. Premier.

Mr. Speaker, the Houghton Mifflin Canadian dictionary of the English language defines fairness or fair. In doing that it also gives synonyms - just, equitable, partial, unprejudiced, unbiased, straightforward, objective, dispassionate - some of the same terms that I just mentioned from the previous dictionary. Let me go through some of these definitions for those terms. Fair, which has the widest range and can imply any of the foregoing senses. Just stresses being in accordance with a code of what is legally or ethically right and proper. Equitable also implies justice, but less from the standpoint of a rigid code of rules than from a sense of what is in the best interest of all concerned in a given issue. It therefore may imply justice tempered by reason or compromise. Impartial emphasizes lack of favouritism in deciding an issue. Unprejudiced means without preconceived opinions or judgments, especially those adverse to a person or thing and not soundly based.

Unbiased implies straightness of judgment or behaviour in the absence of self-interest, prejudice or emotionalism. Straightforward suggests what is frank and honest rather than devious. Objective implies detachment that permits a person to observe and judge without undue reference to his own experience and without indulgence of sympathies. Dispassionate means free from colouring by strong personal feelings or emotions. Mr. Speaker, I will table those when I am through with them.

Mr. Speaker, in the Premier's statement, "'We can't allow fairness to get out of our hands.'", then I am going to assume that the Premier's definition of fairness is a different definition than those that I just read. I will go on with some of the Premier's comments. "'A strike which stops many of our health-care services is not an acceptable way to go. It should not be part of the bargaining process,' he says. Anybody that's providing that kind of service has you under the gun. We can't win. The employer - the taxpayers of Nova Scotia - can't win with that kind of an ultimatum as part of the process,". Well, one of the words I used in those definitions was compromise. When the Premier says, we can't win, the employer and the taxpayer of Nova Scotia, he seems to forget a couple of things. One is that the health care workers are part of this process, as well, and they are taxpayers in Nova Scotia. "'People accuse me - as one of my weaknesses - of being stubborn. Well, I think the time has come for a stubborn premier . . .". I want to say to the Premier that you are not the first stubborn Premier we've had.

I think I envy the Premier. I envy the Premier for the world I think he has grown up in, I think a world of such security, a world where obstacles must be so few that you can only see those who have less as a possible threat to anything you have. I don't understand, and I

[Page 5853]

guess I have noticed this in other people, but why is it so difficult for members of the government side to walk in somebody else's shoes.

I don't understand why it is that the interest that I think the Premier wants to stand up for are the interests of those who have the most. The interests of those who have access to the most resources and why it is those who have access to the most resources feel so threatened by those who don't have access to the same degree of resources. Yet, all around the world, we see people who have the power to exercise this right-wing agenda and they always seem to use the strong arm of power to keep those who don't have access to those resources from getting those resources, and they seem to feel that those who have the least are the biggest threat to them.

I would say that's not the case. Not everybody looks at the world through the same glasses that the Premier does or that the government does, and that most people are very reasoned in what they want, they are rational and they know that there is a limit based on their educational level, that they cannot necessarily garner all that they would like to. They recognize their place and they work hard to improve their position in society and work hard to improve that of their families.

They are not expecting anything handed to them on a silver platter. They are expecting fair remuneration for the job they do, and in the case of the health care workers, they definately are not getting that, they haven't gotten it for a number of years. I would say that if the Premier were to live up to what he said in the blue book, that he would look for a way to ensure that health care workers were remunerated fully for the job they do in some way that he showed them their true value and that is recognized by the government. He also did it in a way that was different from previous stubborn Premiers. He did it in a way that treated health care workers with the respect they deserve and also showed Nova Scotians that he was a Premier of reason, that he was rational, he was willing to compromise and that he was able to deliver on his promise.

If he thinks his agenda is a fiscal agenda, which I think is a reasonable way to go to be careful with the taxpayers' dollars. God knows, we haven't seen it in many Premiers, that they are interested in balancing the books to get rid of the deficit. That is an honourable way for the Premier to think but there will be nothing wrong if the Premier said, look, this may take an extra year. The Premier is only early in his mandate. He has five years. Now unless his plan is to go well ahead of the five years to go to Nova Scotians for another mandate, then I think the Premier should be careful.

[7:30 a.m.]

If the Premier misjudged by a year and said, I want to take care of health care providers in this province, I want nurses to stay and I want to be able to attract nurses, which is the very thing he said in the blue book and instead of getting rid of the deficit in three years, we will

[Page 5854]

do it in four or we will do it in five, I don't think Nova Scotians would fault him for that. I think Nova Scotians would say, here is a man who went into government with a number of promises, as a matter of fact, with too many promises. Nova Scotians gave him the opportunity to try and deliver on those.

I think if the Premier was to say, look, conditions are tougher than we thought but we think we can still meet our targets within our mandate, we don't have to do it in three years; we can do it in five. We can treat health care workers fairly. I mean by these definitions of fair; I don't mean by the Premier's definition of fair. I think Nova Scotians would say, I think we might have a Premier with a brain. I think we may have a Premier who can step back from the politics of his Party and he can look at this whole province as a unit and say, what is the best thing I can do for the people of Nova Scotia and still deliver a prude and fiscal agenda.

I think Nova Scotians, long ago, gave up on the idea that their governments will deliver miracles. They are not looking for them, but they are looking for a presentation of ideas and a delivery of commitment that is reasonable and possible, and it is possible, Mr. Speaker, for the Premier to deliver his agenda of fiscal prudence. It is possible for the Premier to get rid of the deficit. I believe that. I think the Premier has the dollars to do it in three years, but if he doesn't feel he can, Nova Scotians aren't keen to run to the polls for another election. I think it was the John Buchanan tradition to go to the polls every three or every three and a half years. That's not to say that Nova Scotians need to go to the polls right away.

After having a 1997 federal election, a 1998 provincial election, a 1999 provincial election, having a by-election in 2000, then a federal election in 2000 and then by-elections here in the province in 2001, I want to say to the Premier, don't be in such a rush for an election. I think people are electioned-out. I think Nova Scotians would like to see delivery of the services they pay for. I know the Premier ran on providing Nova Scotians with a tax break. Well, it's something I disagree with, I will say here, now, Mr. Speaker, because you can't give a tax break and deliver service.

Unless somebody is going to give me a tax break that I can see in a big pile in the back of my pick-up truck, then I would say that I am probably not going to notice it very much, but I certainly notice cuts to health care delivery. I notice cuts in education. I have a young family and I would like to think that they are going to be an old family someday. I want the services to be there for them and that is what I pay my taxes for. I pay for service; what I think will be good service and I think will be sustainable service. I would expect that any government should deliver that. Now, if it is possible to get rid of the deficit, and I think it is, then I would say to the government, for sure, if there is sometime down the road that somebody can ease my tax burden, I would appreciate that. What I would really like to see, at least, is no increase in my taxes, and that's not what we are getting. I think our Party has calculated somewhere in the range of over $118 million that is being siphoned out of the wallets of Nova Scotians in user fees and other taxes that Nova Scotians didn't vote for.

[Page 5855]

The Premier didn't campaign saying, I am going to increase your taxes, but that's what is happening. There are more dollars being siphoned out of Nova Scotia pockets than at any other time. What I want to say to the Premier is, don't worry about giving me a tax break but, please, don't increase my taxes. Deliver the services I am paying for and I will be quite happy. Knowing that the health care system will be there for my family and for all Nova Scotians, I think, would be priority number one.

I don't really understand, unless there is something they teach you in med school that tends to make doctors seem relatively hard on the health care system. Maybe it's just a conflict that has developed because of the position that doctors play in that hierarchy and delivering of health care. Certainly when it came to trying to bring in Medicare in Sasketchewan it was the doctors that opposed Tommy Douglas the most. I would say for a system that has worked so much to the advantage of doctors in this province and in this country, I am amazed at how, from that experience, doctors are not more open-minded to the way a health care system should run.

I want to say that I don't understand why it is that not just the Premier, but members of the government side, have so much contempt for unions. They are definately anti-union and anti-worker, which is strange because I know there are members opposite who belonged either to the NSGEU or the Nova Scotia Teachers Union. They have become the beneficiaries of hard-fought-for rights, historical rights that those unions have worked for for their membership, whether it is health benefits or pension benefits, those members are the recipient of those hard-fought battles and yet, they seem so willing to turn their backs on unions, they seem so willing to not recognize that unions have had a role in creating a better life for them.

I want to say that a better life for them that Nova Scotians don't begrudge them, that Nova Scotians don't really notice that it has had any negative impact on their lives. In other words, sharing the wealth equitability across the province to the people of the province, and I would say in a large way to people who belong to unions, has not affected the lives of anybody in Nova Scotia and had a negative impact on them. So, why is it we seem to see this agenda that is definitely anti-union is beyond me. Because if unions have done anything, they should be able to stablize, for the government, some of their cost projections. They should be able to determine in the long term what they are going to be spending, to the people who are union members. I would say that, traditionally, unions have had a much better impact, a stabilizing impact on economies, rather than having a negative impact, Mr. Speaker.

So what is it that the government wants to see? Long ago we abandoned the practices that have been such as children dying while cleaning chimneys. We still see child labour in other countries; we have seen countries now move under free trade agreements, companies move to countries that have less rigorous labour laws. We have allowed for the exploitation of workers in other countries and we look at that as a fair way of doing business. Governments seem to think that is the right way to go. We have never said look, let's put into

[Page 5856]

our free trade agreements a higher standard. Companies will say, I can't compete with the labour costs in South America.

Well then why, when we negotiate these agreements, don't we bring everybody up to a similar standard or a closer standard, so those people who are being exploited are treated better, so they can offer a better quality of life to their families, so that the level of competition becomes level.

That is not what we do. We allow for the erosion of rights of people. We say we have to bring North American workers to a lower level, similar to those in South America because that is a more equitable way of doing business and those companies, if they are going to trade globally, then the high wages fought for by unions are an impediment to fair trading across the globe.

We never look at the reverse and say, let's unionize all workers globally; let's set them all on equal standard so that companies then are on an equal footing as far as competition and the basis of their gaining more market share is based on the quality of the product they produce. If their expenses are all relatively equal, then quality would be the determining factor of the day, Mr. Speaker. Therefore, by paying workers better, they can afford to buy the product.

It seems so unrealistic to expect to pay your workers nothing, so they can't buy the product you produce. We pay them nothing because that product is not intended for them to be part of the market, that product is being made and shipped somewhere else, where other people are more affluent and they can buy the product.

Well, get a reality check. Those areas that are more affluent, the people who are unionized are being attacked so they are not more affluent; therefore, they are not able to buy the product, therefore undermining the bottom line for these companies. It is a ridiculous cycle that right-wing governments and corporations have inflicted on the people of so many countries.

Now it is one thing to be selling widgets or sneakers or whatever, but here in this province we are selling health care. We are trying to do it at the most reasonable cost to the taxpayer. One of those reasonable costs means treating the people who deliver that service reasonably. That is not what is happening, Mr. Speaker. Actually, from comments we see in the paper and comments made by the Premier, we know that in the very near future, possibly by the fall sitting of the House, there will be more legislation attacking unions. I would say that teachers should look out because I think they are next.

I want to relay some comments by one of my constituents, Ageena Orser. She said when she delivered a note to me: Please feel free to use my name as one of your constituents who is very displeased, disgusted, disgruntled and disrespected by Bill No. 68. How many

[Page 5857]

dollars have been spent poorly - i.e. Devco, Sysco, Sobeys and casino fines - that could have been used in the health care sector.

[7:45 a.m.]

The Premier's comments in any of these news articles all seem to relate to him standing by his commitment to his fiscal agenda. That is fine, I said earlier that I think it is a good thing for the Premier to be prudent with the people's money. What I have never been able to understand is why it is when those of us on this side of the House talk about things we think the government should do - and I mean on the revenue side - why the government seems to balk so strongly at any notion of trying to, first of all, increase the revenue they get by either taxation of corporations, or by trying to get a better resource or royalty regime for the offshore; all these tend to fall on deaf ears. The Premier has had no problem giving $3 million to Sobeys so they would keep their headquarters here in the province. We tend to think those dollars are well-spent because we have kept those jobs. Yet why is it that those dollars were well-spent but not spending dollars for health care workers, so that we keep those jobs.

One thing I do notice about the Tory blue book, and it is something that I think leaps out at you because it is something that in previous elections those Parties running for government have always had part of their agenda on job creation. You know I am not sure there is even a mention of job creation in the Tory blue book. It is interesting that it is not mentioned because it is obvious that the agenda of this government was not to create jobs. If we look at the cuts made through various departments then certainly there have been more jobs lost than created. The same thing has happened in the health care system. It is not that the government has gone out and tried to get rid of health care workers - not like the previous Liberal Government did that worked actively to get rid of nurses - but the government has not done anything to enhance the working conditions so that nurses would at least stay, let alone have new nurses entering the profession stay here.

We have a twofold problem; we have people who are overworked and stressed because of the lack of help on the wards and floors in hospitals and we have graduating nurses in this province who are not staying. The number used by my colleagues has been, I think that last year in the Dalhousie School of Nursing there were 79 graduates in nursing and 6 stayed in Nova Scotia. What we are doing is subsidizing nursing in other jurisdictions on the continent, either going West in this country or going South to the United States. I am sure the American Government should be sending us a letter thanking us for supplying them with nurses.

When the message sent by Premier and the government is that we can't afford a strike because we are putting people's lives at risk, well, this has been going on for months. In Question Period on the floor of this House, we have raised time and time again about surgeries that have been cancelled, well through the winter and past months. I know even of

[Page 5858]

cases that have come through my constituency office, individuals who have come into the city three times in a row and have been told to go home, that the procedure they were to go

through that day that was planned for them had to be cancelled. They said there were no beds, but actually there was no staff, there were no health care workers to take care of them so they had to be sent home and then come back in a month or two months to have the same thing happen again. Our health care system is in crisis now.

AN HON. MEMBER: Bill No. 68 will solve all that, John.

MR. MACDONELL: My colleague says that Bill No. 68 will solve all that. Yes, and that seems to be the message that the government is trying to send.

AN HON. MEMBER: Solve it all.

MR. MACDONELL: We know that one of the major components of this crisis is the lack of health care workers. Bill No. 68 is not going to address that. Bill No. 68 is going to make the problem worse because certainly new nurses to the system are not staying in Nova Scotia, and why would they? The nurses who are already in the system are not going to stay. If they have an opportunity to leave, and I mean if their spouse has an income or if their situation, their family has grown, their mortgage is paid, they have put enough years in, they are going to leave, because their quality of health and their quality of life is important to them and they can only do so much. I think they are starting to realize that they have paid the price and they are not going to risk their own health in trying to carry the health care system on their backs or actually try to carry the Tory agenda of a tax break in the third year on their backs. That is what has been happening.

The Premier is asking them, carry out my agenda because I want to get re-elected. Now, that is a troublesome thought, that this Tory Government will get re-elected, because you have to ask yourself, looking at the legislation that we have seen come through this House in the two years that this government has been in power, what is the next plan? What is going to happen in the next mandate? It will be really interesting to see what that blue book says and try, if it is possible - I am sure whatever the agenda is it won't be written there in black and white, somewhere between the lines will be the Tory agenda just as it is between the lines in the previous blue book.

I think the government should realize it is making a grave mistake if it thinks that its action on this bill is not going to come back and haunt them, and I would be curious to know how many members opposite are planning to re-offer in the next election. I am amazed at how stoic - I am not sure how stoic - or I am amazed at how stoic members on the backbenches seem to be in standing by this piece of legislation.

[Page 5859]

It is interesting that members opposite, that at least a couple of them, were not there for the vote of the Committee of the Whole and were not there for the vote in second reading. I certainly hope that they will be there for the vote at the end of third reading because I think they should deliver a real message to their constituents, because if they are going to be absent from the House, if they are saying on the basis of principle they can't vote yes for this piece of legislation, then certainly be in your place and vote no for it. I will be interested to see which seats are filled come the vote on third reading because if they, by being absent, know that this bill will pass, then I think they are doing a disservice to their constituents. They should at least sit in their place and either vote no if they don't want it to pass, or vote yes knowing that it will pass anyway.

I want to say that if I don't get re-elected in the upcoming election, whenever that happens . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: That's not going to happen, John.

MR. MACDONELL: Well, I think it is one thing to be sensible, this is politics and a week in politics is a long time, they say. You can never be sure and I certainly am not sure that the next time around that I will be returned to this House. I have tried to think what could happen in this House of Assembly that I could say I wasn't there for. I wasn't here during the Savage years, but I would say this is a re-enactment of what happened during John Savage, so I have caught it. I was able to be here for that.

I want to say that I was here during a minority government. I was here as part of the largest caucus that the NDP had in this House. I was here as a member of the Third Party, I was here as a member of the Official Opposition. I even had a stint as Leader in the House.

I want to say that I am not sure that there is anything that could possibly happen to an elected member in this House, that when it happens again, I can't say, I was there in 1998 or 1999, or whenever, when that happened before. I think there is a pretty good bet that there is very little that can happen in the House of Assembly in Nova Scotia that if I am only here for at least two terms, then I can say, well, I was there. Seen it. Been there, done that.

I feel somewhat sorry for Nova Scotians. I think when I recognize the difficulty for Nova Scotians to determine who it is they should vote for in any election, it is a task. I think that the level of apathy among voters is an indication of how much they have come to have no regard for politicians and political process. They have good reason to have no faith in their elected officials, I have to say.

A bill like this tends to wake people up, they pay attention no matter what side of the fence they are on whether they are in support of this legislation or whether they are not. I would say, indicators are that the majority of Nova Scotians are not in favour of this. It is difficult for them to know, because the next time around they are going to be spun a message on how to explain this piece of legislation. They will be spun a platform by all three Parties

[Page 5860]

and they are going to have to try to decide which out of this bunch of buffoons is the most credible buffoon? It is becoming increasingly more difficult. I would say, the fact that in the polls all three Parties are basically neck and neck is an indication that political thought among Nova Scotians is shifting, and that they are starting to actually stop and analyze a little bit what it is that people are offering and how much of a gamble it is to vote for any particular Party.

I want to say that it does amaze me when I hear my colleagues to my left but to my right, philosophically, especially the member for Cape Breton West, when he stands in the House and tries to tell Nova Scotians there is enough blame to go around and includes the New Democratic Party in that, I have to say that I am amazed by that. I am willing to take my lumps for the things that I do or that our Party does, but I am sure not willing to take the lumps that the Liberal Party deserve. (Interruption) I hope the honourable member doesn't hold his breath waiting to see that happen. (Interruption) Yeah, maybe I should invite him to hold his breath, yes, that's true.

As beautiful as this day is in Nova Scotia, it is a very ugly day for health care workers and for Nova Scotians generally. One of the most draconian pieces of legislation that every came through this House is about to be passed, I would say only slightly more draconian than perhaps legislation that the Liberals put through this House.

[8:00 a.m.]

I was interested to hear reporters on the radio and in other media mentioning this legislation. One of the most ominous parts of this legislation is the clause that does not allow the right of appeal through the courts. Well, Mr. Speaker, this is not the only time that clause has appeared in a bill in this House. In the 1998 workers' compensation legislation that came through this House there was a similar clause that restricted those who were written off with chronic pain to be able to apply through the courts. On the day that bill came back from the Law Amendments Committee, the Chairman of the Law Amendments Committee was the Minister of Justice. I remember my colleague, the member for Halifax Chebucto rising to speak and probably speaking on title in the Committee of the Whole House, actually, when he said, I am amazed that the Minister of Justice, Chairman of the Law Amendments Committee, would come back to this House with this bill that has a clause that restricts the right to the courts of the citizens of Nova Scotia. He said I believe that is unconstitutional. It was the members of the Tory Opposition at that time, because that was a minority government, I think 14 members in the Tory Opposition at that time who joined with us to have that clause defeated.

Now here we see a Tory majority bringing in a similar clause. Now it does tend to educate you, Mr. Speaker, and tell you that there is no difference between Liberals and Tories, it is just a question of which side of the House they are on. In Opposition, there were, albeit few, occasions when the Tories did agree with us and fought against things the Liberals

[Page 5861]

were trying to do in legislation, but for the most part it was a coalition. I would say that the number of amendments our Party were able to get through this House in 1998, after that minority government was formed, were extremely few. We were shut out by Liberals and Tories, for the most part. We could not get the Tories, who were to our left in the House, to agree and support us on amendments that would have actually improved a piece of legislation.

We saw the very same thing when - and I have heard members of the Liberal Party stand and speak about some of the things this Tory Government has done and the Health Authorities Act is one of the things they have spoken against. Yet when that bill came to the Committee of the Whole House, we had a number of amendments that our present Leader had negotiated as our Health Critic. The honourable member for Lunenburg West, for the most part talked that out on title, we never got to the amendments and his reaction when he went to the media was, we stood tall. The Liberal Party had no amendments for that Act but yet was unwilling to allow the NDP to bring forth the amendments they had, even if they were going to be rejected, but they should not have been. The Minister of Health had been involved with those negotiations and we thought had bought into those amendments, although he didn't take the opportunity to bring in any of the amendments himself, he didn't change the legislation.

At least we can think that if the Liberals were an incompetent government, they at least don't have to be an incompetent Opposition, that we could stand up and improve legislation together for the benefit of Nova Scotians, but no, it was too much of a task to allow the media to find out that the New Democratic Party had tried to amend legislation and that the Liberal Party had no amendments. They hadn't done their homework. They didn't try to improve it. (Interruptions)

AN HON. MEMBER: You'll find out what the facts are.

MR. MACDONELL: The member says we'll find out what the facts are. Well there is certainly enough in Hansard to indicate the agenda of the Liberal Party, and it is not the welfare of Nova Scotians.

I want to say in my last four minutes that I hope that the members in the Tory Government, the Tory Cabinet and the backbench, you have a few hours yet to rethink this road you're travelling down. I want to say that I think you are taking a trip that you're not coming back, that in the minds of Nova Scotians, they've been here. They have done this. The people who did this to them the last time are sitting here, what's left of them. I want to say that as much as you may think you can deliver a blow like this to the Nova Scotia taxpayer, to the Nova Scotia voter, they are not going to forget. They have seen this too many times. They are not willing to accept it. They made that message clear in how they dealt with the Savage Liberals, so if there is anything that the members opposite can pay attention to,

[Page 5862]

they should realize that this is going to be a one-term government if you don't back down on this piece of legislation.

Treat health care workers with the dignity and respect that they deserve. Remunerate them in a way that they feel that when they get up to go to work every day, somebody is thinking of them, that they are not carrying the health care system on their backs to benefit you. They are doing it to benefit the sick, and in some hope in doing that they will benefit their own families. They have their own agendas and they have their own dreams, their own hopes, their own desires for the people they care about, and they are tired of carrying the government's agenda, Liberal or Tory.

Kill the bill; take care of the people who are taking care of Nova Scotians. They deserve that much from all of us, because when you have to go back to the people and you knock on doors this is going to be a tough sell. I would be really interested, actually I would like to be a fly on the wall when those doors open and see how the members in the Tory caucus are able to deal with the criticism that they are going to face. I would say that you're going to be turning and walking down a lot of walkways, finding out that people are not happy to see you.

The people in my constituency have not been unreasonable. They have always I think shown me enough courtesy even though, considering the makeup of my constituency, to elect and re-elect a New Democratic member is a big stretch for them. To have put their faith in me, I take that as a major responsibility; to be a voice for them is the ultimate that I have to deliver on. I think it saddens me to think of how many times I have spoken in this House knowing that the only thing that really happened was my voice hit the far wall and bounced back at me and that it had no definitive effect on what it was that the government did, but certainly I hope that come the next election the people in my area, and all Nova Scotians, will remember what you did to them. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, I rise to speak on the title of Bill No. 68, An Act to Continue Healthcare Services in Nova Scotia. I am not sure if the headlines in today's Daily News sets the tone for the days and weeks and months ahead. Certainly, it would be an ominous sign, as we read the title, "Tories eye wider anti-strike law." I think that captures some of the fears of many Nova Scotians on Bill No. 68.

Before I get too far into that - because the points were raised, certainly, within the forum of this debate - I think it is only fair to rebut some of the points that were raised by the former socialist Leader - I think it was socialist Leader number four. Did you ever hear that song, Mambo Number Five? Well, I am not sure if he is four or five, but the points that he raised were rather interesting as they tie into Bill No. 68. He went at great pains to chastise the Liberal caucus for how it obstructed the socialist attempts to put some considerable

[Page 5863]

amendments into the Health Authorities Act back in a previous session of the Legislature. Although the honourable member for Hants East was quite focused on the timelines by suggesting that the member for Lunenburg West had spoke at length on the title of the bill so as to prevent the NDP from having any amendments.

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Cape Breton West, not Lunenburg West.

MR. MACKINNON: He used the reference, Lunenburg West, and it was, in fact, as he now correctly states, Cape Breton West. I don't apologize for speaking some 6 hours and 45 minutes on the title of that bill because as the Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations stated yesterday, it is all about process. The NDP had ample opportunity at the Law Amendments Committee to put some of those considered amendments to improve that bill but we in the caucus felt that was a bad piece of legislation and no matter how many pieces of amendments you would put into it, the principle was still the same; it was a bad piece of legislation. The socialists brought boxes and boxes of amendments and stacked up next to the former NDP House Leader's desk you would think he was receiving fan mail he had so many boxes of amendments there. (Interruption) Yes, I wouldn't doubt that he did receive some fan mail and I don't know where that letter went, but I am sure that someone from his constituency thought well enough of him to send him at least one letter.

The fact of the matter is, you can't have it both ways on Bill No. 68. That seems to be the rather strange dichotomy that the NDP have found themselves placed in; under the new stewardship, with the Leader of the NDP, he seems to be trying to, from a general public point of view, distance himself from organized labour groups. Yet, as the individual members stand up they can't help but go back to their very roots and take the extreme left-wing view of management and labour issues as identified in Bill No. 68.

So you have to take it with a grain of salt. Consider the source from whence it came because they are now crying the blues, but they are the very individuals who put that lot on the other side of the Legislature. They were so hungry for power that they couldn't see the damage that they, themselves, were doing by allowing the Conservative Government to take form and impose such draconian pieces of legislation. So, they have no one to blame but themselves, they really don't. So my condolences go out to them.

Perhaps it's a little early in the morning for them or what have you but let's be very clear, I think there is a commonality on what we do think in this particular piece of legislation and that is that the government has gone too far. The government has gone too far because unlike every other provincial jurisdiction in Canada, from Alberta, Saskatchewan, New Brunswick, Ontario, Quebec, British Columbia, Manitoba, Newfoundland and Prince Edward Island, everyone of those provincial jurisdictions either have the provision for binding arbitration or in fact for an essential services contingency in the event of a strike. For whatever reason Nova Scotia, and in particular the Nova Scotia Government, has decided to

[Page 5864]

embark upon perhaps one of the most extreme right-wing agendas that we have ever witnessed.

[8:15 a.m.]

Who is driving the agenda? Is it Cabinet? I don't think so. I would say perhaps certain elements within Cabinet have that right-wing agenda and it is like going to an auction, some will even be afraid to raise their hand for fear they may be forced to accept the bid. So we won't see too many more hand gestures for the rest of the day, not in friendly form anyway as the time progresses. Really we have to ask ourselves, who in the name of heavens would come up with Bill No. 68 in this form, that gives no consideration to binding arbitration, gives no consideration to the possibility of an essential services contingency as is provided for and by the majority of the other provincial jurisdictions. In fact, it was negotiated by some of the hospital authorities here in the province with the health care organizations, labour component, that is, and then on the eleventh hour just changed its mind.

You wonder if in fact they were given direction or, for whatever reason, they decided that they had no intentions of negotiating a resolve to this labour dispute in good faith. Then we find out yesterday that a poll was commissioned back in May by the government to determine the effects of a potential labour interruption here in the province on the people of Nova Scotia. If you put all the pieces of the puzzle together, lo and behold it is quite clear that the government had no intentions whatsoever of resolving this issue. I think it is important to focus on the two main principles of argument that the government has put forth on Bill No. 68. One is the issue of finance and financial resources and obviously the other one is the issue of health and safety for Nova Scotians because that is essentially what it is all about.

On the issue of finance, despite the protestations by various ministers in yesterday's debate in the Committee of the Whole, they have supplied no substantive documentation, actually no documentation at all, to clearly indicate that the government would be compromising the financial agenda that it has embarked on, that is balancing the books within a fair and reasonable period of time and not putting the taxpayers of Nova Scotia in a compromised position, i.e. having an increase in the debt because of this particular contract, if they were to sign it, with the demands that are being put on it by the labour component or indeed any other reasons within government.

Now, we listened to the honourable Government House Leader yesterday go into his usual eccentric tirades about how the government is on the verge of bankruptcy. Well he, of anybody, should know about that because he was one of the chief architects of the bankruptcy. If anyone would know about why the government is in peril with its finances, it would be that honourable minister because he sat there, front row and centre (Interruption) I will speak softly, Mr. Speaker, certain members don't want to be alerted too early in the

[Page 5865]

day, but my enthusiasm for speaking on the title of Bill No. 68 draws me to arouse their interest and I will gain their attention as the time progresses, I know.

Back to the issue of finance. The honourable Government House Leader, the Minister of Finance, the Minister of Health, and indeed the Minister of Education, they all kept focusing yesterday on the issue of $100 million. Well the message that is being conveyed to Nova Scotians by this spin-doctoring is the fact that this government, the Department of Health in particular, is going to spend $100 million of additional taxpayers' resources this year for this contract with the health care workers, and that is not true. That is not true and it is not fair to portray that image to the people of Nova Scotia and to leave that misguided message that that, in effect, is what the situation is.

If you took over 6,300 employees and you multiply out essentially what the wage demand is and the improvement in certain other factors in the contract well, my heavens! That only works out to a total of $28 million. Now $28 million, Mr. Speaker, is a lot of money by any stretch of the imagination, but given the fact that the health care workers have really been put in a very difficult situation over the last 10 years, and yes, even under previous Liberal Administrations, because of the situation they found themselves in, because of the mismanagement from the John Buchanan era, but one could argue back and forth as to whether they did the right thing or the wrong thing, but the fact of the matter is, and as I have stated on a number of occasions, there is enough blame to go around, and that includes the socialists.

They can pretend that they are just cheerleaders by convenience, but you know, Mr. .Speaker, when we were in a minority government, they couldn't wait, they were so hungry to get over on that side of the House, they were so starved for power that they couldn't see the forest for trees and they pushed the Tories on that side and now they are over here singing the blues. But they, in effect, are part of the reason that we have got (Interruption) Yes, and that really is the theme song for the socialist Party, they are always singing the blues, the "poor little me" syndrome, because things didn't work out in life. Well, I am sorry. Nova Scotians will never see fit, if history is any measure, to elect a socialist government in Nova Scotia. That would be a licence for complete disaster - things are tough enough with the Tories.

Let's not inflict that type of regressive thinking on the people of Nova Scotia because we saw what socialist governments, with the exception of Premier Romanow in Saskatchewan, I believe it was, but the fact of the matter is that is very much an anomaly. So how would they handle Bill No. 68? Well, I am afraid it would be like having a nightmare. You would wake up in a cold sweat trying to figure out what they would do with Bill No. 68.

It would be much like what happened in Ontario with former Premier Bob Rae. They took over the government, and do you know what happened within two years? They said to themselves, oh, we represent labour, we represent organized labour in this province and the

[Page 5866]

principle of socialism and the New Democratic Party is all the labour groups, all the labour communities are going to support what we do in government anyway so we don't have to bother with them. We will just cast them aside. See, that's the type of twisted philosophy and psychology they use.

It is all idealistic thinking until they get to power and then it is like a corkscrew, or like if you took a balloon and held it up and let the air out of it and the balloon is swirling all over the place, that's NDP thinking, and that's what you would get on Bill No. 68 if you were to put them in charge. So let's not . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: There wouldn't be a Bill No. 68 if we were in charge.

MR. MACKINNON: No, there would be just more hot air. That's exactly what you would get from the socialists. There wouldn't be a Bill No. 68 because they, themselves, would not see the need for organized labour even to come and protest before the Legislature, much the same as what they did in Ontario. They destroyed the relationship of management and labour relations in that province, much the same as what they did in British Columbia. Of course, they went too far to the left. They got so far to the left they fell over the side of the boat and they drowned in the last election. There weren't enough life jackets for maybe one or two of them. I think that was all that was on there.

AN HON. MEMBER: . . . you weren't in here when he was the Minister of Labour.

MR. MACKINNON: Well that is right. Do you know what, Mr. Speaker? As Minister of Labour, we didn't legislate, we negotiated our way out and we were proud of it, despite some of the antics by the socialists running around feeding off the misfortunes of the seniors in this province. As they did up at Northwood Manor, running around with a camera crew, asking if they could get in to seniors' units to try and feed on any opportunity to make the situation look much worse than it was. When they weren't allowed in the seniors' units, what did they do? They weren't interested in talking to the management or the spokesperson for the seniors, they packed up their camera crew and they went to another strike site; yes, the honourable member for Halifax Needham and Cape Breton Centre. When they couldn't get their picture taken feeding off somebody's misery, they packed up their cameras and they left. They weren't interested in talking.

So they were exposed for their theatrics and, undoubtedly, they will probably do the same if there is a strike with the health care workers, because Bill No. 68 doesn't pass before 12:00 midnight tonight, but you expect that from them. You can't expect any better. They're idealistic in their thinking and they're hypocritical when it comes to applying their ideal philosophy. It just doesn't wash. So let's not be sidetracked by that.

[Page 5867]

Yes, Mr. Speaker, we were in a minority situation. We had nursing homes; major, major strikes. (Interruption) We are talking about labour-management issues and that is what Bill No. 68 speaks to, and the socialists don't want me to talk about it. It is like the Minister of Finance, he doesn't want to talk about the history of the Tory Party until it starts from when he became Minister of Finance and looking ahead under his propaganda process. You can't have it both ways. We're stuck on the left; we're stuck on the right. Who's in the middle? The Liberals. We'll solve the problems. They know that.

Mr. Speaker, the reason the member in the Conservative caucus, who is the Minister of Finance, is there today is very much thanks to the quest for the Holy Grail by the socialists. They didn't put the people of Nova Scotia first, they put their own vanity for power. They didn't look at the big picture and, for that, I have to congratulate the Premier. When we first formed the minority government, he saw the wisdom of what would happen, Heaven forbid if there was a socialist government. I think he went home and he probably almost would have had to consume a whole bottle of Tylenol just to kind of shake the fear of the thought of a socialist government and how they would handle Bill No. 68. My, my, my.

We respect, we don't necessarily agree with pulling the carpet from under the Liberal budget in 1999 because all they did was they just dusted it off, peeled off the red cover and they put the blue cover back on and that is essentially the way that budget went. They said they were going to clean-up health care, solve all the problems for $46 million and what did they do? They just changed the wording. They got some good spin doctors and then they adopted the Liberal's health care investment fund plan. So the more things change, the more they stay the same.

[8:30 a.m.]

The issue here is not only the money issue because the government has defeated itself on the argument of this being just strictly a monetary issue. There is enough money set aside in the Minister of Finance's slush fund to more than deal with the wage demands that are on the table. Notwithstanding the fact that these wage demands are already calculated into the Department of Health's budget. There is a kind of double-negative spin out there by the government that they don't have this extra $28 million a year. They have already budgeted those dollars into the Department of Health's budget, so it is really not new money. They knew then and they know now that this is not an additional charge to the taxpayers of Nova Scotia, because they included it in their budget in the spring.

To turn around and send out press releases, or to make proclamations, as the Premier did, that it is going to cost $100 million more, that is being a little bit mischievous and misleading to the people of Nova Scotia. The fact of the matter is, that additional $28 million a year for the next three years or four years or what have you, in terms of the length of the contract, that is already included in the budget so there is no additional charge, unless they

[Page 5868]

were perhaps to go over that amount. Then they would have to draw those dollars from other areas within the Department of Health, or they would have to get additional dollars from another source. I would submit that given all the money that the government is claiming it is saving on the restructuring of government, well, my heavens, they could dip into the Minister of Health's slush fund, which he is sitting on, hoping that things will go pretty smoothly until perhaps next fall or the following spring and he will have lots of money to ingratiate himself and his caucus colleagues in the next election. We won't mention names or point fingers because there are certain benefactors, you know, that would be included in that.

Another issue, Mr. Speaker, is the issue of health and safety; the Premier says that is a major issue. I go back to the point that as tough as the legislation might be, or as weak as it might be, or as well-intended, or well-structures as it might or might not be - I have said this on a previous day and I will only make this point once and that is - the government cannot legislate opinion. No matter how hard they try, they cannot legislate opinion. One thing that the government has managed to do in this particular process, by the introduction of Bill No. 68, is that it has engendered a tremendous amount of mistrust between the health care workers and the government. Not only that, but the people of Nova Scotia have become very suspect as to what the government's motivation is.

I don't believe anyone in Nova Scotia, including the health care workers, or indeed all members of this House, would agree within any process that would lead to the further deterioration of somebody's health, or the fact that somebody would become seriously ill or die, I mean that really is not what it is all about and, yes, perhaps because of the difficulties in the process some serious concerns will be raised and they have to be looked at. That is why what they did in other provinces with essential services legislation, including the process for binding arbitration, was included.

So there was a great deal of wisdom and thought that went into this, but in this particular case the government, with Bill No. 68, I believe has gone too far to the right. They have managed to isolate themselves unwittingly, because whoever the mandarins are or whoever the policy advisers are within government who suggested that because organized labour is such a small component of the overall labour picture in Nova Scotia, that the government could do this and whip up enough support by the general public to weigh against the health care workers, I believe they misjudged the situation. I think they were a little misguided, because whoever has given them the advice obviously hasn't been in the real world for awhile and that means, you know, a front-line worker as a health care worker, whether it be a nurse, an LPN, somebody in the medical profession, i.e., doctors, or interns, or what have you, because they are people, they have families, they have friends, they talk to people, and they have an opportunity to explain the situation and all the dynamics of what is happening here.

[Page 5869]

It is so perplexing as to why the government did it the way it did, because there was ample opportunity to include essential services legislation in Bill No. 20, an Act to Enable the Restructuring of Government, in the spring session of the Legislature. So why are we here - as the Premier would say - in the heat of battle trying to inflict legislation - because he, himself, in a media scrum outside of a Cabinet meeting two weeks ago said it was the wrong time to introduce back-to-work legislation. It was the wrong time. He said you don't do it in the heat of battle, you wait until things calm down and then you assess the situation in a more reasoned and calm form. Then, within days he does a complete flip-flop. I am absolutely at a loss as to why he would do that. Obviously, he has been guided by some advice that seems to have taken him in a direction contrary to what he really believes.

I think another telling tale about this particular Bill No. 68 is the fact that it is a labour bill. It is a labour bill and the Minister of Environment and Labour has been relegated to nothing more than a cheerleader status in this whole process. Not once, aside from his dissertation in the early hours of yesterday morning, which I took the time to view on Legislative Television, he didn't do anything to add to the substance of the debate. Yet that is the department that is given the responsibility for labour/management relations in the Province of Nova Scotia.

What about the issues of occupational health and safety that have been raised at the Law Amendments Committee? What about the impact that Bill No. 68 is going to have on labour/management relations in this province, not only in the short term, but in the long term? It is very concerning that we have a minister who seems to be totally shut out of the process, and one can only draw that conclusion by the substance of his speech during the Committee of the Whole House in the early hours of yesterday morning and then, Mr. Speaker, when you tie these issues of health and safety and finance together, it goes back to the issue of leadership. The Premier, when he was running for election, you know, he held up that document. Everywhere he went he held up that document - Strong Leadership . . . . a clear course.

Mr. Speaker, the course is getting a little cloudy. It is like water, you know, that is being muddied. If you stir it, it is going to get cloudy. It is going to get muddy and it is going to get murky, the course is not so clear. There are 51 commitments to improve health care in this province in the Tory blue book in the last election and one of the most telling is the fact that the government, the Tory caucus said that they were going to include the nursing profession as part of the deliberations, as part of the process, as part of the consultative process to resolve some of the health care problems here in the province and what did they do?

The first chance they got they gave them the boot. They tried to turn it around and made them look like they were a bunch of irresponsible, union rebel rousers who are irresponsible and didn't care for the health and well-being of their patients, but the people of Nova Scotia didn't buy into that because they could see beyond the political propaganda

[Page 5870]

and they could see that this Machiavellian plot by the government, you know, to beat up on organized labour was ill-founded with the health care workers because, as was noted by the presentations that came before the Law Amendments Committee, several hundred of them, they told their own story in a very compelling, in a very compassionate, in a very and sometimes emotional manner, Mr. Speaker.

They weren't singing some type of a unionized scripted line. In fact, what they were doing is telling about their experiences as front-line workers, whether it was in intensive care, whether it was in outpatients, whether it was in the coronary unit, whether it was in pediatrics, or what have you, Mr. Speaker. I am sure many members of the Legislature didn't even understand what they were talking about because we didn't even realize there were different divisions within the health care field that required so much attention and specialized professional service from these health care workers.

So, yes, Mr. Speaker, it is like someone who is very determined to make an argument and win that argument regardless of the consequences. That argument could very easily be made for the Government of Nova Scotia. It crossed the line. It went too far. While it went too far for most in the Tory caucus, but not all, we saw that several members of the Tory caucus, saw the wisdom. Their conscience couldn't allow them to sit there and vote against the bill so they abstained, period. So we recognize that, albeit that the Minister of Finance will probably inflict his own punishment on a future day because they didn't toe the Party line and that's very discouraging.

Mr. Speaker, what really is the government trying to achieve and has it really come to the point of achieving what it wanted to do? I don't think so because aside from the fact that each and every Nova Scotian, including the hospital authorities, the government, Opposition and indeed the health care workers, we all recognize the need for an essential service in health care and even more so is that the health care workers in this province were more than willing to give up the right to strike in exchange for binding arbitration. The government came up with some frivolous argument, oh, wait, the arbitrator always gives more than the government is able to afford, so we can't allow that.

[8:45 a.m.]

Mr. Speaker, with all due respect, when you look at the other nine provincial jurisdictions, that argument is nothing but pure hogwash. It is a feeble attempt to try and rally up some type of frenzied support against the health care workers in this province. It didn't work because some of the arguments made - not by the politicians, although some were very sound and very strong arguments and some were somewhat frivolous and designed to simply filibuster - those arguments were made by the presenters who came before Law Amendments Committee. In many cases that is where the real story is told. That is why I rose on that point of personal privilege because I had the occasion to sit on Law Amendments Committee for

[Page 5871]

some five years, from 1988 to 1993. I sat with my colleague, the honourable Guy Brown, the member for Cumberland Centre I think it was.

The reason for me sitting there was it was his job to teach me the rules of the process and to be a good member, a good representative on Law Amendments Committee. I felt he did a reasonably good job, because sometimes the traditions and the practices of the House are not always written down but these are certain customs that are respected, that are passed down from generation to generation, much the same as is done in different clans, different cultures, different communities, and that is the same in the House.

That is why I believe it was so unsettling to see the Minister of Justice do what he did. He is the chief magistrate in this province, with the Great Seal for justice in this province, and he was willing to breach that sacred trust, all because he had a very dogged view of how to achieve his goal. He didn't care what anybody was going to say. He reminded me a lot of a minister in a previous government who said no matter what you say or what you do, this is what is good for you, I am going to do it, I am the boss and, if you don't like it, too bad, go somewhere else.

Mr. Speaker, it is a reincarnation of that attitude all over again, for senior members in the government. They know what I am referring to. We won't regurgitate history too much but, suffice it to say, just to give you an example, back when the Minister of Tourism of the day under the Donald Cameron Government, the honourable Rollie Thornhill brought in two rather commanding piece of legislation. One was the Halifax Commons and the other was the Public Gardens legislation. The outcry on both those pieces of legislation was absolutely mind-boggling. On the first day, I believe, there were - if my memory serves me correctly - 98 individuals who called and wanted to make presentations on one of those two pieces of legislation. We had the business community upset, we had all those who were interested in the heritage and the history of Nova Scotia. We had municipal representatives upset because of the way it impeded on municipal jurisdiction, and it went on and on.

What did they do in the final analysis? The outcry was so profound that what they did was shut down the House and they continued to hold hearings with the Law Amendments Committee during the summer months until every Nova Scotian who had a view was heard. The door wasn't slammed on anybody and that was what was so concerning about what the Minister of Justice did. He tried to destroy 250 years of tradition attached to the principle of responsible government and democracy. That is scary. This is scary because he is a senior member in this government who is pounding away at some of the key clauses in Bill No. 68, Mr. Speaker, and I believe that he is not being very responsible in guiding his caucus colleagues in this direction.

Oh, yes, Mr. Speaker, maybe the laws of gravity will prevail for certain Cabinet Ministers and they will survive after the next election, or maybe they don't have any plans about re-offering, so they just don't care what they do or say. That sense of indifference sinks

[Page 5872]

in because all of a sudden they find themselves in this very high-powered, very commanding position, that they feel that they're above the people of Nova Scotia, but the laws of gravity say what goes up, comes down, and that's the same with some of the high-handed Cabinet Ministers who think that they're above the law and that is what the Minister of Justice tried to do.

Instead of protecting the rights of the citizens of all Nova Scotia when it came to some of the legislative processes that we were compelled to deal with when debating Bill No. 68, he tried to circumvent the process. He tried to sidetrack the law. That's really what it is because we are the legislators. We are the policy makers. We are the law makers in this province on provincial matters and the Minister of Justice tried to undermine that process in Bill No. 68. That's why, as I have said on a previous day, Bill No. 68 says a lot, a lack of trust. So it was all about attitude and process.

Let's assume for the sake of discussion that the poll that was done back on May 18, 2001, was a fairly accurate poll, a fairly accurate reflection of people's opinions and that they didn't want a strike. They wanted to make sure that our health care workers stayed on the job and perhaps a legislative process was the way to do it, but the government lost it, Mr. Speaker, they lost it in the debate, much the same as we lost the election in the debate and the way we put our platform in the last election. Whether we like to admit it sometimes or not, it is a fact. We lost the confidence of the majority of the people. Therefore, we lost the election. We weren't necessarily wrong. We had some darn good issues, the government of today is adopting the health care plan in many forms that we adopted, and all you had to do is look at last year's budget and the budget they brought in when they first came to power.

It is essentially the same except for now they're getting off the rails because they had this political agenda that they had to fulfill. Let's get rid of the hospital boards that were put in. I forget the exact terminology, but let's bring in these regional hospital boards, the local hospital boards. Bring health care back to the people. Well, Mr. Speaker, that's all political propaganda. The Royal Commission on Health Care in this province, which was initiated under the John Buchanan Government, recommended what we as a Liberal Administration did back between 1993 and 1998 and once we did it, the Tories say, oh, well, we have to have a political issue. We have to get rid of that. So then they destroy what they, themselves, recommended to have done, and what happens in the end? The taxpayers pay more money, because most people don't get caught up in the intricacies, all the technical activities and the processes that take place behind the scenes at the governmental level because they don't have time. They elect people who they trust to protect their public interests and they send them off and they expect good public policy, good legislation, good management of their public affairs, good budgets, good management of their budgets and so on but, see, that is all taken away.

[Page 5873]

Well, it is the culmination, in many respects, of that process of removing the accountability of government that is there for the people, by the people and to the people, that's now removed. For all intents and purposes, within the next, I would say 12 to 18 months, from a practical point of view, Mr. Speaker, in managing public affairs in terms of the business of operating government, you won't need two-thirds of the people in this House. You will not need them other than for rubber-stamping, because Bill No. 20, the health care bill that was brought in in the fall of 1999 or 2000, I forget which, the Education Act, which essentially puts the full control of education, the management of school boards, it sets the stage to take all that away from the elected school boards and put it in the Department of Education at the provincial level. So if this is a cost-cutting process that the government is embarking on to achieve its balanced budget in trying to eliminate the debt, well, stand up and say so. Don't tell the people one thing and do something else.

That's why people have rallied behind the health care workers on Bill No. 68. It's not that they support not having a good health care system. It's not that they are supporting a strike action. It's not that they necessarily support giving additional money to the health care workers, although I believe there is considered support there; it's not just that. It's the way that the government did it. If the government had been a little more forthright in what they were attempting to do and how they were attempting to do it, then I think, by golly, they could have pulled this off and this House would have been shut down long before it started because it would have been included in a legislative package back in the spring session before the heat of the battle, as the Premier would say.

But no, Mr. Speaker, the government, somebody, whether it be the senior political advisors over at the Premier's Office who are generously rewarded for their service, or whether it was some political bureaucrats, the Department of Health, Department of Education, or that committee of deputy ministers who generally operate within government, whether they came up with this, whether it was, I don't know, maybe it was a dream by some prima donna within the government ranks who thought this was the right thing to do, but it goes back to attitude and process.

The government has hurt itself because of the arrogance that was demonstrated by the Minister of Justice, who is more content to destroy everything that we have worked for for 250 years. I congratulate you, Mr. Speaker, because you didn't allow your sense of fairness and justice to be pushed aside. You didn't allow the rules of your House to be pushed aside. You didn't allow yourself to be bullied by the Minister of Justice or the Government House Leader because you knew that when you took that oath of office as Speaker that you had an obligation to all members of this House, present and past. Even more so, you knew and you still know that your obligation is to all Nova Scotians, not just to one political Party, albeit that you were appointed from the ranks of one political Party.

[Page 5874]

[9:00 a.m.]

I believe on that issue alone you will stand tall with Speakers, such as the former Speaker Art Donahoe, Vince MacLean and a few others who made, in their capacity as Speaker, Nova Scotians proud. They did. Read Hansard. They may not have been good political adversaries when they were out of the Chair, but in that capacity as Speaker, you defended the rights of all Nova Scotians in allowing the democratic process to proceed and, for that, Mr. Speaker, I believe you should be commended.

The attitude and the process has really put the government in a rather precarious position because it will stick, it will stick just like glue to paper. For whatever reason, this is the lightening rod that has aroused the interest of Nova Scotians as to what the heck is going on up here at the province's capital.

Yes, Mr. Speaker, it was amazing to talk to the number of health care workers who came before this House who have never put a foot on the steps of the Legislature, they have never done it, and for them to come here was intimidating. It was a very fearful and scary prospect but they felt so strong, not because they are union bosses, not because somebody was directing them to go and do it, but they did it. They did it becaused they believe in what they were saying and what they were doing. When they came here, yes, many of them were shocked, they were shocked to see what would appear to be some rather obvious disarray on the floor of this Legislature in terms of members' attention when another member was speaking; the fact that members heckle another member when they are speaking. I have done it, heckling is part of the process in parliamentary procedure, if it's done properly. Whether I have done it properly or whether I haven't, I will leave others to decide that. That's what it's all about, don't judge yourself to be the end-all, don't put yourself in a position where you're judge and jury on everything, don't put yourself above the law.

That is what the Minister of Justice did. He has lost respect. I am sure he has lost respect in the legal community, he has lost respect with the people of Nova Scotia and in particular, he has lost a lot of respect from ordinary Nova Scotians who came before the Law Amendments Committee making what they felt was their legitimate case for justice and fairness, for their voices to be heard. Because, this is not his Legislature, it's not my Legislature, it's not yours, Mr. Speaker, it is theirs; this is the people's Legislature. We are charged with the responsibility of advancing their interest, their concerns.

Mr. Speaker, the government has crossed the line. Not so much on just the principle of Bill No. 68, although one would have to question that, as well. If you look at Clause 13, to state in law that no one is allowed to question the decision of Cabinet or you are not even allowed to appeal to any court of the land - municipal, provincial, at the appeals level or the federal level. I mean, what are they smoking over there? Are they in a cloudy room, smoking banana peelings or what? Who in the name of Heavens would come up with that conclusion? Is it the Karen Oldfields of the world? Or is it the Michael Bakers of the world? These are

[Page 5875]

bright legal minds. If this is what they would advocate, Heaven forbid what they would do in a courtroom against some poor, defenceless individual. I would really be worried.

That is what really brought us to our knees under the John Buchanan Administration. That type of attitude marginalized anyone who would question a decision of the government, or a decision of certain Cabinet Ministers. You would be marginalized, you would be ostracized, you would be very subtly put in a position where if you said or did anything to defend your rights or what you thought was the right thing, you were made to feel like a common criminal, so much so that people were scared to death at the end of it to even mention the word politics in Nova Scotia because they knew the government had crossed the line and it had the power and full weight of the law behind it - or at least it had the appearance of it.

In the final analysis, the people's court won in 1993, well actually in 1991, when they chased the then Premier out of Nova Scotia and sent him somewhere else. I am not sure that we would have sent him to the Senate, for what we were stuck with, what we were saddled with, we certainly would not have.

Mr. Speaker, I guess when you look at the state of the provinces across this country, there is enough blame to go around. Even for those politicians who think they are not responsible, when you accept this responsibility here in this House, or in any other House of Assembly or in Parliament, you accept that charge, you accept the responsibility for the errors and omissions of days past. You may not be able to change it, you may not be fully responsible for what was done at that juncture, but you have an obligation to do everything within your legal power to change it for the better.

Mr. Speaker, that is why I wanted to speak on the title on Bill No. 68, because the government has crossed the line. It may not see that now; it may be able to achieve its goal on passing Bill No. 68, but the severity of the measures in Bill No. 68 will come back to haunt this government in more ways than one. The Premier stated yesterday, oh, this is a lot like Bill No. 131 that he had to deal with back in 1975. Totally wrong. That piece of legislation had binding arbitration built into it. It had the provision for essential services to be protected.

In short, Mr. Speaker, the Premier misled this House and misled Nova Scotians. Whether he did it intentionally or unintentionally, it is not for me to judge, but the facts speak for themselves, it is there in black and white. What he said and what is in that legislation are two different things. That is why I believe the government has crossed the line, because it has had an excellent opportunity to sell its message and it failed. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

[Page 5876]

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

MR. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, this will be the fifth hour that I take my place to speak on behalf of the constituents of Timberlea-Prospect, to make sure that the people whom I represent - not just the health care workers but the people who dutifully elected me to this position - know that when I knock on their doors this summer or I run into them at the Blessing of the Fleet in Terence Bay, or when I see them at other social events over the busy summer ahead, they will be able to say we know that you spoke up about Bill No. 68. Right or wrong, the people who elected me know that I have my say in this House on their behalf. Not that they always agree with me, not that I always agree with them, but I can tell you, Mr. Speaker, as you are too, we are proud to come to this House to stand in our place to take part in these debates and to have our say.

I also should point out this is not necessarily a great, proud day for me because as I drove in this morning and realized another beautiful day was dawning in Nova Scotia, I realized that this was also going to be a dark day, and the next couple of days are going to be dark days for the collective bargaining rights in the history of this province. There are health care workers as I speak, putting those picket signs together. That is where we are in this province.

During this time I want you to know that I am going to speak about some items, and I usually do it this way and I think that members opposite perhaps are expecting another history lesson. Well, for the Minister of Justice, I want him to know he is going to get another one. It is not going to be about Draco this time, but we should talk about Draco.

Draco, first of all, was not a Spartan, he was an Athenian, and that draconian laws that we always refer to are after Draco. I am not going to talk about Duplessis, because I know the Minister of Justice is quite offended by that comparison that I made in Law Amendments with the Union nationale and how Maurice Duplessis, "le Chef" had basically interfered in labour relations in the Province of Quebec, and the vilification of Duplessis. I know the Minister of Justice is always so concerned about historical comparisons because the Minister of Justice, as you well know, is a student of history and was enrolled as an undergraduate at Dalhousie University majoring in history, minoring in political science, before he so wisely applied to the Law School and was accepted.

I am not going to just talk about history, I am going to talk about the fact that we have some concerns based upon the Premier's comments and the arguments that he made yesterday about being fair and being prudent. I want to talk about the collective bargaining process in this province and its deep history. I want to talk about William Davis, that miner in New Waterford, but more importantly I want to have the opportunity to thank some people who over the past week, the past number of days, have given of themselves, came into this Legislature, appeared in front of Law Amendments, contacted me personally. Some of them, most of them yes, are from my constituency. Yes, for members opposite, the member for

[Page 5877]

Halifax Bedford Basin who is always so tired of me talking about my past students yes, many of them are my past students. Many of them, the young health care workers who came here, many of them will have their time again when they will speak, and this time they are going to speak with the X.

This would be a wonderful time for a member of the Third Party to ask me a question, because they always come after me with questions. I am willing to entertain a question from a member of the Third Party at any time. Obviously, none of them are ready to question the success that I will receive in Timberlea-Prospect, because as I speak they are probably dreaming up questions that they will ask of me sometime during this discourse. Hearing none and seeing no one rising in their place, because they are in third and they are going to be worse than third, if that is possible, in Timberlea-Prospect next time. I certainly at any time encourage a question from the member of the Third Party. Seeing none of them rise, I guess I can continue with the comments that I am going to make.

The concern that I have revolves around the fact that in my opinion, Bill No. 20 to Bill No. 68 to the future bill - Bill No. 20 - do you remember Bill No. 20? The omnibus bill, the reorganization of Cabinet - from Bill No. 20 to Bill No. 68 to that bill of the future, is going to be like Tinkers to Everts to Chance. That famous triple-play combination, not double-play combination. From baseball history, from Tinkers to Everts to Chance, that famous baseball combination, short stop, second baseman, first baseman. Are we, in this province, going to have - excuse me Mr. Speaker if you rule me out of order, I will certainly go back to their regular names, but to continue that analogy - from Baker to Muir to Hamm as the next triple play, because this headline this morning is upsetting.

[9:15 a.m.]

Mr. Speaker, I know that I am not allowed props, but this headline - and I am into headline reading these days because basically we don't have the time. Although I do notice in a very important headline today, and I know the honourable member for Preston, perhaps, if he has read the paper, should know that this will be the day that Ray Bourque resigns but let's not go down that side track. Let's go away from the sports headlines. Let's look at this headline. It says, "Tories eye wider anti-strike law". What is that bill going to be? What number will it be? Should I, off the top of my head, give it Bill No. 99? Now there is a number of historical interest in this province and in sports history. Is it going to be from Bill No. 20 to Bill No. 68 to Bill No. 99? Maybe it will be Bill No. 74?

Whatever the number is going to be, this particular piece of legislation that comes in the future, this is the very piece of legislation that we, and I guess I, have railed on about in here. That we are going to go from Bill No. 20 to Bill No. 68 to that bill of the future and that triple play of Tinkers to Evers to Chance, of Muir to Baker to Hamm. That says, to workers across this province, they are ready to go to the barricades.

[Page 5878]

I have said in this House, I was, and I guess I am now, still, an associate member of the Nova Scotia Teachers Union. I not always agree with everything that the Nova Scotia Teachers Union was all about and some of the members opposite know that. Particularly if they have been involved with the HRM or the Halifax County school board. I not only always agreed with the NSTU. I thought they were too far removed, I thought their opulent offices on Dutch Village Road were out of touch with classrooms. But I want you to know, Mr. Speaker, I seldom have been more proud of a member of the NSTU than I have been of Brian Forbes, the current President, and the Yarmouth Junior High School history teacher.

I seldom have been more proud of saying that I am still a member, an associate member, at this stage, of the NSTU, because the teachers are watching. This morning at Brookside Junior High School, at Sir John A. Macdonald High School, at other schools in my constituency, they are going to say, based upon this headline, "Tories eye wider anti-strike law", they are going to say like I have said to them in their staff rooms, like I have said to them at football practice last Friday night, like I said to Arla and Fred Merrant, like I said to Bonny and Gordon Steeves, we - that's we, the teaching profession - could be next. That looks like the triple play will actually take place.

Mr. Speaker, that's the sort of animosity, that's the sort of personal attacks that are going to happen as this anti-strike bill continues to go through. I have heard members opposite speak and I listen to them. I want to congratulate some of them too. Your Deputy Speaker, yesterday, when he was in the Committee of the Whole House, during the comments from the honourable member for Preston, the members of the Third Party - and I am still waiting for a question from them but I don't see them standing - harangued the honourable member for Preston, they interrupted him. The good member, who was the Deputy Speaker and was the Chairman of the Committee of the Whole House at that time, said to us and to them, in particular, you always want him to speak so let him speak. To the credit of the honourable member for Preston, he stood in his place and he finally had his say.

Now, I don't have an actual text of what he said, but I put the earplug in and I listened carefully to what he said. I want you to know that the honourable member for Preston, based upon his municipal experience, is a frustrated, concerned member of the backbench. I wish him all the best in his decision. He has to make a tough one, but he has stood in his place and he spoke. I heard the member for Kings North - in fact, to be candid, I was watching it from my constituency office because there are constituency issues still going on - and I heard the background noise as he quoted and he said he would table it, although I know it is not necessary, he quoted from the Bible three of the very difficult choices that David had to make. I know that member is going through some of that same tough decision making, but he stood in his place and he had his say.

I heard the member for Halifax Bedford Basin and the member for Chester-St. Margaret's and I know that he was apologetic for a cold, for the fact that he didn't have quite the usual projection that I have heard him 'chat away' with in the past - as of course, we

[Page 5879]

always, in neighbouring ridings, point out that Mr. Chataway does on occasion, and I am using his name as the member for Chester-St. Margaret's does refer to his name jokingly in the same manner. But, it is good to see those members stand in their place because inevitably, they will have to answer, back to their constituents and maybe in all good conscience, they believe they are doing the right thing.

I want to put it on the record today and I want to make it clear to members opposite, I know that I am doing the right thing. I have heard from enumerable constituents, I have heard from them in all manner. Whether they are stopping in my home on a quiet Sunday afternoon and apologizing for the fact they are doing that, I have had people with e-mails and calls, I have had all kinds of people in contact with me as the MLA for Timberlea-Prospect, saying, thank God, Bill, you are speaking up opposed to Bill No. 68. This is something that I feel passionate about, as you can tell from my comments.

Let's return so the Minister of Justice can understand a comparison that was made. Again, the Minister of Justice, fair-minded as he is, is always very intrigued with my historical comparisons, so I am going to make one for him. The person who lives on Joshua Slocum Drive just down from where I live on the St. Margaret's Bay Road, that particular member of the Tory staff could have written the speech that was delivered in here yesterday during the Committee of the Whole House by the Premier. I want to thank the Premier for providing us with a copy of that speech because, as you well know, the Committee of the Whole House, of course, you know it is televised and we don't actually get a final written record for a number of months, but my friend, the member for Dartmouth North stood on a point of order and asked if the Premier could provide a text of that and he responded, as he usually does in his very appropriate way and we received a copy of it.

During the introduction to the speech, and if my constituent from Joshua Slocum Drive - I am speaking about Dale Madill, incidentally, of the staff - wrote that speech. For goodness sakes, stop comparing this well-intentioned, good country doctor to Mackenzie King. Mackenzie King, who couldn't sign a bill unless the two hands were absolutely aligned. He couldn't do that because of his superstition. He couldn't make a decision on so many important pieces of legislation that he near divided this country into two separate parts because of his lack of courage when it came to the fact that during World War II we needed troops and we needed conscription. A nasty word at the time. But, Mackenzie King couldn't make a decision if his or his mother's life depended upon it. No reflection on Mackenzie King and the unfortunate loss that he suffered through - a very important person in his life - his mother - but Mackenzie King used to turn the light on over his mother's picture, believe it or not, and consult with her about how he and his government - a Liberal Government - should make these important war time decisions. I am sure that Winston Churchill would have loved to have been part of that discussion. But I want to refer to Mackenzie King because the quote that was used by the speech writer who put the speech together for the Premier, said, "It is what we prevent, rather than what we do that counts most in

[Page 5880]

government." Mackenzie King said that. Let's make the record very clear on this, it is what we prevent rather than what we do that counts most in government.

Maybe the Minister of Justice will be aware of this, and I encourage him. I have already given some members some summertime reading which, hopefully, they will have a look at. I know the member for Halifax Bedford Basin is looking at the biography of Maurice Duplessis. I know Conrad Black, of all people, wrote that biography. Think about that one, Conrad Black doing a Union Nationale Leader's biography. I can also refer to Leslie Roberts, an excellent biography of that particular Quebec Leader.

I want to direct the Minister of Justice to Frank H. Underhill's, In Search of Canadian Liberalism. Let's be clear, that is a small l liberalism, In Search of Canadian Liberalism. If the Minister of Justice would take a moment during this, perhaps he could look at this verdict of Mackenzie King's, and the comparison of the Premier of this province with Mackenzie King is offensive at most. Yes, Mackenzie King was the Prime Minister of this country for a number of years, but his longevity, the test of success, politically, I hope not, when we look at the fact that Mackenzie King, in my view, was one of the most inept Prime Ministers Canada ever had.

In fact, and the Minister of Justice should know this, if I remind him of this, my undergraduate thesis at Mount Allison University, I was driven to do this undergraduate thesis by my football coach at the time, Angus MacFarlane because of the fact that Mackenzie King was so inept, it was suggested to me that I look at that good Conservative Prime Minister of Canada that has been so badly misunderstood, Richard Bedford Bennett. R. B. Bennett, the antitheses of Mackenzie King. If this Premier had stood in his place and used a comparison from R. B. Bennett, I would have been much more pleased than to have a comparison made with Mackenzie King.

Let's look at this one, and only one - and I don't want to have to table this, but I will if I can get the copy back, thank you, I ask the Pages for this - Frank H. Underhill, In Search of Canadian - small l - Liberalism, writes on Page 188, "We . . ." Canadians, he is speaking about ". . .prefer to leave issues undefined with an assumption that all right-thinking people . . ." I think by right there he means correct-thinking people ". . . would agree about them if ever they were defined." And the public man who would devote his life to seeking clear definition, like Mr. Woodsworth . . ." Now there is an aside I could go a long ways on, ". . . for instance, is regarded by most Canadians as an unmitigated nuisance. Mr. King is obviously the most complete personification of this national Canadian characteristic who has ever appeared in our public life. Canadians, politically, prefer to live in a mental haze."

Mr. Speaker, defining issues, clarifying ideas, that is what we, as political leaders, must be. J. S. Woodsworth wanted clarity; R. B. Bennett wanted clarity; Mackenzie King wanted delay, Mackenzie King wanted Royal Commissions, Mackenzie King never wanted a decision. I want you to know, proudly, I will say in this House, that my father is a good

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member of the North Novies of this province, although as you are well aware I was brought up just across the marsh from the Tantramar. My father was a North Novie. When Mackenzie King came onto the battlefields, as they waited to go to Normandy, they booed him, the Canadian troops booed their Prime Minister. Wasn't that shocking? No, that was a reflecting on the fact that the soldiers who had been overseas, in my father's case, at that time, for five long years, with one quick diversion to Dieppe, and now waiting to eventually go to the beaches of Normandy, they booed this Prime Minister of Canada when he was out reviewing them.

[9:30 a.m.]

Is that the sort of example, is that the sort of comparison that the speech writer knew about when he was using - or she, although I think it was Dale Madill - put together that speech for the Premier. Under no circumstance let us allow a comparison between this Premier and Mackenzie King. Let's face it, we would rather - and I will have to quote again, here, if I may - "It is what we prevent, rather than what we do that counts most in government." Now are we talking about preventing a strike here, or are we talking about preventing the legal democratic rights of collective bargaining? There is the concern.

Even Mackenzie King didn't have the unmitigated gall to interfere with labour negotiations. Of course he probably couldn't make the decision anyway without talking to his dead mother, or making sure that the photograph that he always talked to was at the right angle so he could correspond to her.

Mr. Speaker, I am serious about the fact that that comparison is offensive, and in future speeches written by the speech writers, under no circumstance should any Conservative Premier in this province or any future NDP Premier in this province look at the fact that they want to be compared to Mackenzie King, the worst decision-maker in the history of Canada, after all a man that under no circumstance we should be looking about or we should be considering, a man who made his decisions based upon the fact that he had to talk to his dead mother. But, enough of that.

More importantly, Mr. Speaker, I hear a member from the Third Party is here, and maybe they are finally taking me up on a question. More importantly, I want to look at a comparison that means a great deal to the Premier apparently. That is the comparison of the June 1975 nurses' strike. I don't know what happened to the Premier when he was the doctor at the Aberdeen Hospital at the time, during the June 1975 nurses' strike. I have no idea what happened, but it must have been something traumatic, he will not give us the details. He says in an article in The Sunday Daily News with David Rodenhiser that some people died, but he didn't know who. He says that there were some terrible interruptions at the time, but then again if we remember what The Halifax Herald said - The Halifax Herald as reported by Judith MacLean in that chapter Strikes in Nova Scotia - there were no labour problems, that emergency services were continued to be delivered during that June 1975 strike.

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I know the Premier has spoken to the caucus members and said you know, I survived 1975, maybe he has t-shirts printed about it, but those are scare tactics to his backbenchers. I heard the member for Halifax Citadel speak yesterday. As you are well aware, the member for Halifax Citadel's father was and is a respected health care worker and doctor, and of course she pointed to the fact that her father was involved in the strike of 1975. I don't have a copy of her comments here, but I heard her say - and I will stand by this comment - that her doctor-father was on the nurses' side in that strike.

But what happened in June 1975? What happened, and what is the comparison with now? It is 26 years later. The Premier finally has dealt with this traumatic event, conveniently either through memory loss or convenient memory recall, this is the most horrific thing in his career, he has heard about this June 1975 strike and he wants to bring it to the province's attention. I want to bring some things to those members opposite about the June 1975 strike. I want you to know that my good friend, the member for Cape Breton Centre and one of his constituents, a veteran nurse from New Waterford, she and I and the member for Cape Breton Centre the other evening, had an opportunity to reminisce about the June 1975 strike. That veteran nurse, who was at the time a young nurse, I want you to know what she shared with us. She shared with us that never again would nurses be the dutiful, obedient, health caregivers that they have been in the past. That they were now going to be looking out for their rights. It has taken 26 years later, but that veteran nurse is just as determined to make sure that she gets her rights.

During that conversation that the member for Cape Breton Centre and I had with this veteran nurse, I want you to know that not once did that veteran nurse bring up wages. Not once did she bring up the fact of salary demands. What she said was that Bill No. 68 ticked her off - and that wasn't quite the word she used, because as a good, plain-speaking Cape Bretoner, she said it in the correct guttural language that was not accepted in classrooms, or in this Legislature, but we will say it ticked her off - because Bill No. 68 - in the middle of these sensitive negotiations that are going on with collective bargaining - infuriates health care workers. Poor timing and it goes too far. That is what it is in capsule form. Poor timing.

Members opposite have to agree with this. I have used the comparison before and I know members of the public have been quoting me on it and saying, it is like killing a mosquito with a hammer. It is like killing a fly with a maul when, after all, a fly swatter will do just the case. We were, when we were recalled to this House, expecting back-to-work legislation. I was expecting, based upon my experience, limited as it might be with the NSTU, I was expecting binding arbitration. And I know that most health care workers would say - and have said to us at Law Amendments - I can live with that. We can live with binding arbitration, if that is the next logical step, let's go to binding arbitration. That has not happened.

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Instead, we have this oppressive, repressive piece of legislation that just goes too far. Some of the learned members of the law of this caucus have spoken about certain clauses and their unconstitutionality and how they will be appealed. That is beyond where I am at this stage in my career. I am talking about the fact that health care workers are angry and they are upset because Bill No. 68 takes away their collective bargaining rights. It takes away their hard-fought rights and that does not sit well with them.

So, as Carolin Read told us at Law Amendments - Carolin Read, incidentally, is that nurse who ended up on the front page of The Chronicle-Herald. She was in tears, if you remember and my apologies to Carolin. In fact, I was given the ultimate by the most important constituent that I have - my wife. When she found out that it was my question that made Carolin - out of frustration and anger - my question was the one that provoked that outburst of tears, I want you to know that the number one constituent in Timberlea-Prospect, Carolyn Estabrooks demanded an apology, and made sure that when I got that picture back to Ms. Read, she explained that in advance I had asked permission to ask this question.

At Law Amendments, I saw Ms. Read sitting there in her nurse's uniform and I could tell she was a little ill at ease. As you well know, Law Amendments in the historic Red Chamber, it can be intimidating. It can be an intimidating process. Many Nova Scotians have never been in this historic Chamber. They have never been in the gallery. They have never been down the hall to the Red Chamber, but I encourage Nova Scotians to continue to make those presentations.

When I got up - and not for a Baker break, but for a quick coffee with my apologies to the chair at the time because I needed a coffee - I went by Ms. Read and I said, you are nervous. Oh, yes, I am really nervous. I introduced myself and told her who I was. I said, I will tell you what I will do, Nurse Read, I will ask you a question that perhaps might - if we can use the expression - break the ice. So I got permission to ask her this question. And when Ms. Read came to make her presentation, I began with this question, "So, Carolin, can you tell me what happened to the dutiful, obedient, always listening, always caring nurse? How did you become so militant, so angry? The result, as you saw on the front page of the Chronicle-Herald, is Carolin in tears.

Now, there were some health care workers there in the audience. Some of the comments they made about me, as a member of the NDP, how rude I would be to ask that question, how could I ever ask such an awful question to the dutiful, obedient nurse who has become the militant nurse? Well, Carolin then explained it, and she passionately made her case, that they are not going to take it anymore. She pointed out that her collective bargaining rights had been infringed upon for the last time. After she had collected her thoughts and expressed them so passionately and finished, I went over and thanked her. Some of the health care workers there were going, was this a set-up, did she know about the question in advance? Of course. I had permission to ask that really sarcastic, that really caustic question to this health care worker.

Debate continued