Assemblée Législative de la Nouvelle-Écosse

Les travaux de la Chambre ont repris le
21 septembre 2017

Hansard -- Wed., May 2, 2001

[Page 2315]

HALIFAX, WEDNESDAY, MAY 2, 2001

Fifty-eighth General Assembly

Second Session

2:00 P.M.

SPEAKER

Hon. Murray Scott

DEPUTY SPEAKERS

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

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Honourable members, the winner of tonight's late debate is the honourable member for Kings North.

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House support the need for greater numbers of female legislators in this House and do what they can to encourage that participation.

Let us begin the daily routine.

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings North.

MR. MARK PARENT: Mr. Speaker, I apologize for the format this petition is in but I dropped into the Wolfville Baptist Church on my way home last night to hear testimonies of people who had been up in Quebec City and was handed this impromptu petition by 64 people. I have affixed my signature to it.

2315

[Page 2316]

The operative clause is, "We the citizens of Kings Co. and surrounding area demand a public inquiry into the serious violation that occurred in Quebec City including: the police's excessive use of force; the use of dangerous weapons and chemicals; the health consequences for protesters and Quebec citizens in the zone of the use of these weapons; The unjustified arrests; the violation of human rights, civil rights . . . .; the attack on medical/health practitioners; the whitewashing of this event by the media and government." I hereby table it.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition, large as it is, is tabled.

The honourable member for Yarmouth on an introduction.

MR. RICHARD HURLBURT: Mr. Speaker, in our gallery today we have my son, Mark Hurlburt, and his Chief Engineer from Hurlburt Construction, Laurie Gilby. I would like to have a warm round of applause. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: Yes, indeed, welcome to our guests in the gallery. Welcome to all our guests and visitors here this afternoon. We sincerely hope you enjoy your stay in the Legislature.

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Education.

RESOLUTION NO. 833

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

Whereas Sherwood Park Junior High School in Sydney and Riverside Education Centre in Milford recently demonstrated that Mi'kmaq language can be taught through the means of video conferencing; and

Whereas this innovative idea came about when Riverside could not access a Mi'kmaq language teacher for Grades 7 and 8 students; and

[Page 2317]

Whereas this innovation opens more doors to the possibility of sharing technological resources between schools;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the principals, school board personnel from the Chignecto-Central and Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Boards, technicians and others who were involved in this project.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Community Services.

RESOLUTION NO. 834

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

Whereas a national Web site dedicated to persons with disabilities is now available at http://www.disabilityweblinks.ca; and

Whereas the Web site is the result of co-operation from the federal, provincial and territorial governments and from the Nova Scotia Disabled Persons Commission; and

Whereas the Web site contains information on numerous programs and services in Nova Scotia;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House join me in welcoming this new resource for persons with disabilities and to thank everyone who played a part in its development.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 2318]

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Environment and Labour.

RESOLUTION NO. 835

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

Whereas the prevention of injuries to workers of Nova Scotia is paramount and a priority of the Department of Environment and Labour and this government, and this government supports and promotes proactive initiatives to create safer and healthier workplaces in Nova Scotia; and

Whereas it is recognized that the instruction of safe work habits should begin at an early stage in a person's life and this government will encourage endeavours to help young persons to lead healthier and safer lives through life-saving skills, in other words, first-aid training programs; and

Whereas St. John Ambulance has demonstrated a leadership role in providing resources to public schools in Nova Scotia for the purpose of training students in life-saving skills;

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize and congratulate St. John Ambulance for their commitment to provide this humanitarian service to Nova Scotia, but in particular to the future generation of this province.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

[Page 2319]

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Education.

RESOLUTION NO. 836

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

Whereas the Canadian Race Relations Foundation has appointed Ben Elms, Principal of Digby Regional High School, to its board of directors; and

Whereas Mr. Elms was also recently appointed to the Council on African Canadian Education; and

Whereas Mr. Elms has been an educator for more than 20 years and has served his community as a volunteer in many capacities;

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize Mr. Elms for his work in improving race relations and congratulate him on his recent appointments.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

Bill No. 43 - Entitled an Act to Impose a Moratorium on User Fees in Medicare for Nova Scotia. (Dr. James Smith)

Bill No. 44 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 277 of the Revised Statutes of 1989. The Mechanics' Lien Act. (Mr. Darrell Dexter)

[Page 2320]

Bill No. 45 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 96 of the Acts of 1958. The Upper Stewiacke Fire Protection Act. (Mr. Brooke Taylor)

Bill No. 46 - Entitled an Act to Establish a Board to Distribute to Charities One Half of the Profits From the Sydney Casino. (Mr. David Wilson)

Bill No. 47 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 327 of the Revised Statutes of 1989. The Ombudsman Act. (Mr. Kevin Deveaux)

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

[2:15 p.m.]

NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

RESOLUTION NO. 837

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

Whereas on Friday, April 20th, the home support workers from the region of Queens took strike action; and

Whereas the workers, most of whom are women who provide home care for 180 seniors and disabled people, took this necessary action to get pay and benefits equal to what their counterparts receive elsewhere in the province; and

Whereas family and friends have been called upon to perform the duties of the striking workers and those who are in desperate need may have to be transferred to hospitals and/or institutions if the strike continues much longer;

Therefore be it resolved that the minister take immediate action to resolve this labour dispute and instruct his department to find the necessary funding to alleviate this disruption in service so as to prevent any further instability for seniors and disabled residents.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable Leader of the Liberal Party.

[Page 2321]

RESOLUTION NO. 838

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 Premier is travelling to Washington, D.C., to meet with officials concerning the softwood lumber dispute; and

Whereas the Premier will meet with lawyers from the Maritime Lumber Bureau, Canada's Ambassador to the United States and Canadian officials who are lobbying the U.S. Department of Commerce; and

Whereas negotiating matters of international trade and commerce takes very specific expertise and experience;

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier take the necessary experts with him to the meetings to ensure that the message from Nova Scotia is heard loud and clear at the bargaining table.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Pictou East.

RESOLUTION NO. 839

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

Whereas two members of New Glasgow's The Evening News have been honoured for excellence in journalism at the Atlantic Journalism Awards; and

Whereas Jason Malloy, a student and full-time reporter, received the Atlantic Lottery Corporation Achievement Award as college student of the year; and

Whereas Gordie Marr won a silver award in the Photojournalism Feature - Print Category - and was also an honourable mention in the spot news category;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Jason Malloy and Gordie Marr of The Evening News for their awards of excellence in journalism and for their part in bringing quality reporting to the Pictou County area.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 2322]

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

RESOLUTION NO. 840

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

Whereas Planned Parenthood provides much-needed sexual health care information and services; and

Whereas Planned Parenthood this year celebrates 30 years of service to the Nova Scotia community; and

Whereas the Planned Parenthood metro clinic, in honour of its 30 years of service, hosts a fundraiser this evening at the Velvet Olive;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulates Planned Parenthood on its 30 years of community service and wish the metro clinic every success in tonight's fundraiser.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Halifax Needham on an introduction.

[Page 2323]

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, while I am up I would like to draw attention to the west gallery to a visitor who is here today from beautiful Cape Breton Island, from Victoria who is visiting the House for the first time. I would ask Nancy McKeigan from Victoria, Cape Breton. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: Yes, welcome to our guest in the gallery.

The honourable member for Cape Breton South.

RESOLUTION NO. 841

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 Premier has refused to instruct PanCanadian to process its gas onshore meaning very few jobs for Nova Scotians; and

Whereas it was reported today that the Premier will allow for the construction of an undersea pipeline from Nova Scotia to New England and New York; and

Whereas if the plan goes ahead, it will mean the end of any onshore spinoffs from our natural gas industry;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House condemn the Premier for his failure to maximize onshore benefits, which will mean the end of any onshore gas industry in 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.

The honourable member for Yarmouth.

RESOLUTION NO. 842

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

[Page 2324]

Whereas since 1999, Handicapped Organization Promoting Equality, HOPE, has transported students with special needs, between their schools and home communities, who would otherwise travel via taxi or private conveyance; and

Whereas the HOPE dial-a-ride program, one of the four programs of its kind in Nova Scotia, is more convenient for students and is a modest cost saver for the Southwest Regional School Board; and

Whereas the Southwest Regional School Board recently confirmed its support of the HOPE dial-a-ride program;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House thank the HOPE organization and the Southwest Regional School Board for ensuring that disabled persons are able to maintain their independence and can travel with dignity.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage.

RESOLUTION NO. 843

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

Whereas Cole Harbour District High School has begun the long process of bringing its communities together to ensure they better understand each other; and

Whereas the creation of a community radio station, CHCN, has been a major component in building bridges between the communities; and

Whereas CHCN has obtained a licence from the CRTC and will commence broadcasting on June 21, 2001;

[Page 2325]

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate Mike Whitehouse, the board of directors, Freeman Roach, and the staff of CHCN for bringing such a noble dream to fruition.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Victoria.

RESOLUTION NO. 844

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

Whereas the Northside General Hospital serves a large number of residents from the riding of Victoria; and

Whereas there are many people who feel that the band-aid approach taken by the Minister of Health, to solve the doctor shortage problem, is inadequate; and

Whereas the residents of those communities deserve the same level of emergency treatment as in other areas like the HRM;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Health deal with the doctor shortage in a proper manner so that all Nova Scotians will feel a sense of having an emergency service when they need it.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It hear several Noes.

[Page 2326]

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Sackville-Beaver Bank.

RESOLUTION NO. 845

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

Whereas tonight in Sackville, Lake District Recreation Association will honour countless volunteers for their hard work and commitment to their community; and

Whereas this year has been declared the United Nations International Year of Volunteers; and

Whereas the community of Sackville was built by the spirit, pride, and dedication of many volunteers;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate those volunteers being honoured tonight, as well as all volunteers who contribute to their communities throughout this province.

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 Centre.

RESOLUTION NO. 846

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

[Page 2327]

Whereas employees of the Peter Pan Day Care Centre are now into their second week on the picket line in Whitney Pier in Sydney, in an effort to improve upon horrendous salaries and benefits; and

Whereas the non-profit organization relies on fees from parents in one of the most economically deprived areas of the province, as well as scarce provincial funding, to carry on its operation; and

Whereas a conciliator with the provincial Department of Labour failed to resolve the outstanding issues, though it appears the parties are not separated by much in their negotiations;

Therefore be it resolved that this government take the workers at Peter Pan Day Care Centre, and at all daycares, seriously and invest in the daycare system so it can provide adequate wages and benefits.

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 West.

RESOLUTION NO. 847

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

Whereas today at the Public Accounts Committee, Ms. Debra Burleson, Director of the Museum of Natural History confirmed that the fossil collection at UCCB could very well be transferred to either Halifax or the Museum of Natural History in Pictou County; and

Whereas the Museum of Natural History continues to be excessively subsidized at the expense of other museums in Nova Scotia; and

Whereas officials from the Heritage Division of the Department of Tourism and Culture have confirmed there are no written criteria for funding Nova Scotia's museums, and funding is allocated through a subjective political decision-making process;

[Page 2328]

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier, and the Minister of Tourism and Culture, explain why the Museum of Industry received an increase of $164,000 in last year's budget while UCCB's fossil museum received only $1,000 in total to preserve these vital artifacts.

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 Pictou West.

RESOLUTION NO. 848

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

Whereas "volition" means a conscious choice, it also means the power of choosing; and

Whereas every person's decision to actively promote human rights and the respect of other people is a benefit to us all; and

Whereas a young dance group based at West Pictou High School, fittingly named Volition, has won a Nova Scotia Human Rights Award for promoting human rights and the dignity of all persons;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House applaud the members of Volition and commend them for using their power to impact human rights and advance the respect due all people.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

[Page 2329]

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect.

RESOLUTION NO. 849

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

Whereas the Palm Leaf to the Meritorious Service Medal is the highest Legion award that can be given to members of the Royal Canadian Legion; and

Whereas the award recognizes exemplary service to the Legion and community; and

Whereas Thomas P. Waters of Atlantic Branch No. 153 of the Royal Canadian Legion, White's Lake, has received this prestigious award;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly thank Tom Waters for his many years of dedication to the Royal Canadian Legion and the community of White's Lake and congratulate him for receiving the Palm Leaf to the Meritorious Service Medal.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton East.

RESOLUTION NO. 850

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

[Page 2330]

Whereas today the Cape Breton Post reports that Stream Call Centres is still very interested in opening a call centre in Glace Bay; and

Whereas a representative from Stream is quoted as saying the company is "strongly looking into the possibility of moving" operations to Glace Bay; and

Whereas a new call centre would mean an injection of much-needed and well-paying jobs for Glace Bay;

Therefore be it resolved that this government do its utmost to attract the call centre to Glace Bay.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes. (Interruptions)

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Kings North.

RESOLUTION NO. 851

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

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Order, please. We are dealing with another resolution.

The honourable member for Kings North has the floor.

MR. PARENT: Whereas Canning firefighters are the first in Kings County to receive and be trained to use defibrillator equipment to give sudden cardiac arrest victims a new lease on life; and

Whereas the Canning Volunteer Fire Department covers a large area - one of the biggest in the county - and are often called to be first responders in medical emergencies; and

Whereas this life-saving equipment has been purchased with the support of the New Minas Branch of the Bank of Nova Scotia and through the fire department's own fundraising efforts;

[Page 2331]

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly commend the Canning Volunteer Fire Department for bringing this vital service to their community and for equipping themselves for times of medical crisis.

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.

[2:30p.m.]

The honouable Leader of the Opposition.

RESOLUTION NO. 852

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 member for Cape Breton North promised he would ensure that health care issues are brought to the forefront and to address the issues of front-line health care delivery as well as the recruitment of doctors; and

Whereas despite the claim that Cecil cares, the Northside General emergency room closed this week because it had no doctors; and

Whereas the Minister of Health, lurching from crisis to crisis late yesterday, announced that the ER would remain open, hoping to save the member for Cape Breton North from eating the crow of his campaign promises;

Therefore be it resolved that this House notes that the member for Cape Breton North did not recruit medical doctors but he surely recruited the spin doctors and the Tory damage control team to try to save his bacon.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 2332]

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Sackville-Beaver Bank.

RESOLUTION NO. 853

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

Whereas the spring snow melt has left behind an incredible amount of litter and debris along the roads of Nova Scotia; and

Whereas spring clean up is a tradition in many parts of our province; and

Whereas this annual clean up will benefit the environment and enhance the beauty of our great province;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate and encourage all Nova Scotians to do their part and help keep Nova Scotia clean and beautiful.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury.

RESOLUTION NO. 854

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

Whereas Sherbrooke Village has been nominated by Attractions Canada for a national grand prize as the best developed outdoor site in Canada; and

Whereas this recognition comes to the museum because of the hard work of the team at Sherbrooke Village which heightened awareness of the museum within the province and across the nation; and

Whereas their efforts were assisted by the Antigonish Eastern Shore Tourist Association and the Department of Tourism and Culture which provided resources used to reach the general public;

[Page 2333]

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate all the staff of Sherbrooke Village and Director Craig MacDonald for their accomplishments and applaud their efforts which will benefit the community and the province as a whole.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

Order, please. There is so much confusion, I didn't hear the answer. Order, please.

The honourable member requested waiver.

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Health.

RESOLUTION NO. 855

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

Whereas the Cobequid Educational Centre's 2001 school musical, Jesus Christ Superstar, was the 30th in the school's history; and

Whereas the production had a cast of nearly 75 and a 21 member pit band, all of whom were students; and

Whereas in addition to the performers, the production involved more than 100 students, teachers, administrators, support staff and community volunteers;

Therefore be it resolved that this Assembly congratulate and thank all of those who were involved in the production of Jesus Christ Superstar and applaud the Cobequid Educational Centre for its ability to combine excellence in academics with excellence in musical theatre.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 2334]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Did the honourable member request waiver? I have to apologize, I couldn't hear.

Order, please. Order, please. Would honourable members please bring themselves to order. We are just beginning the agenda. Would all honourable members try to please bring themselves to order.

The Minister of Health requested waiver of notice.

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Kings North.

RESOLUTION NO. 856

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

Whereas Patti Dexter-Peck works as Vice-President of Clinical Services and Site Operation at the Valley Regional Hospital in Kentville; and

Whereas Patti Dexter-Peck will be receiving the prestigious Robert Wood Johnson Award, sponsored by Johnson & Johnson Limited; and

Whereas this award is given to the student in the Masters of Health Services Administration Program who is viewed as the most likely to contribute valuable service in the career of health administration;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly thank Ms. Patti Dexter-Peck for her present work on behalf of Nova Scotians and congratulate her on her receipt of the Robert Wood Johnson Award.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear No.

[Page 2335]

The notice is tabled.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, on that particular vote, could we have a recorded vote? (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. A recorded vote has been requested on the resolution.

Ring the bells. They will ring up to the maximum of 3:35 p.m. Call in the members.

[2:35 p.m.]

[2:39 p.m.]

[The Division bells were rung.]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please, honourable members. Order.

A recorded vote has been requested relative to the resolution that was placed by the honourable member for Kings North.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, by mutual consent, we have agreed that we will just have a voice vote.

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. There seems to be some confusion about the resolution from the member for Cape Breton East. Apparently there were some people in the House who voted Nay to that resolution. I would like the House to revisit that resolution. I would table it and present it to you to be read out.

MR. SPEAKER: That is not a point of order, however, I will read the operative clause, relative to the resolution, and call for the vote:

[Page 2336]

"Therefore be it resolved that this government do its utmost to attract the call centre to Glace Bay."

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 Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, there was notice of motion introduced by the honourable member for Kings North, which dealt with the (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Are there further resolutions that the House would like the Speaker to revisit? If those resolutions could be brought up to the Speaker, I would read them in so we can expedite them along as quickly as we can. (Interruptions)

The resolution submitted by the honourable member for Kings North, whereby waiver was requested reads:

"Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly commend the Canning Volunteer Fire Department for bringing this vital service to their community and for equipping themselves for times of medical crisis."

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. (Interruptions)

Order, please.

Honourable members, I will deal with the two from the government side first. (Interruptions)

[Page 2337]

AN HON. MEMBER: Favouritism.

MR. SPEAKER: No favouritism. The requests came in first from the government side.

This resolution was submitted today, of course, by the honourable Minister of Health:

"Therefore be it resolved that this Assembly congratulate and thank all those involved in the production of Jesus Christ Superstar, and applaud the Cobequid Educational Centre for its ability to combine excellence in academics with excellence in musical theatre."

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.

This notice was submitted earlier by the honourable member for Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury and reads:

"Therefore be it resolved that members of this House congratulate all the staff of Sherbrooke Village and Director Craig MacDonald for their accomplishments, and applaud their efforts, which will benefit the community and the province as a whole."

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. (Interruptions)

Order, please. I recall that the speaker did request waiver of notice. There was disagreement. (Interruptions) The honourable member expresses that there may be a change of heart. I will read - and I should point out that this notice was submitted by the Leader of the Opposition, earlier on today:

[Page 2338]

"Therefore be it resolved that this House notes that the member for Cape Breton North did not recruit medical doctors, but he surely recruited the spin doctors and the Tory damage control team to try to save his bacon."

There has been a request for waiver.

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

[2:45 p.m.]

The honourable member for Pictou East.

RESOLUTION NO. 857

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

Whereas the Battle of Culloden was fought 255 years ago on April 16, 1746, and stands today as a symbol of Scottish national pride; and

Whereas the Battle of Culloden was the last battle fought on land on British soil and was one of the bloodiest battles in Scottish history, with family members fighting against one another; and

Whereas those who fought and died in the Battle of Culloden were recently remembered at a memorial service in Knoydart, Nova Scotia;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House honour the memory of the thousands of soldiers who stood, fought and perished in the Battle of Culloden and commend the volunteers who keep their memories.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

[Page 2339]

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Justice.

RESOLUTION NO. 858

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

Whereas the Lunenburg Minor Hockey Association held their closing ceremonies recently; and

Whereas the George Winters Memorial Award to recognize the special contribution of volunteers to minor hockey was created this year; and

Whereas David and Donna Silver were presented with the first George Winters Memorial Award in recognition of their outstanding contribution to the Lunenburg Minor Hockey Association;

Therefore be it resolved that the House of Assembly congratulates David and Donna Silver on receiving the George Winters Memorial Award and commends them on their tremendous contribution to minor hockey.

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.

ORDERS OF THE DAY

ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

[Page 2340]

EDUC. - JANITORIAL STRIKE:

HFX. REG. SCH. BD. - MISINFORMATION INVESTIGATE

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, in a strike, misleading information cripples a fair negotiation process and it does a disservice to the public. This morning, an elected school board member said that misleading information is being provided to the union by school board officials. One example given was that the caretakers' union was told that school board members unanimously voted to confirm their support for the principles and positions of the board negotiators when that isn't really what happened at all at the board. My question to the Minister of Education is, what will the minister do to investigate these very serious allegations of misleading information?

HON. JANE PURVES: Mr. Speaker, I understand the press conference and the school board member to which the honourable member refers. But the school board decisions regarding this strike are made by a majority. The chairman, whom I spoke to today about this very matter, insists that she is carrying out the views of the majority and that the majority of the board feels that the information is qualitatively and quantitatively good. Thank you.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, the union and the board had been negotiating earlier last week and they had been up for 40 hours while they were negotiating. At one point, the union negotiators asked for a break and told the mediator they would return later on after they had some sleep, whenever the board requested. Then, to the surprise of everyone, on the Web site it was posted that the union had walked out of the negotiations. Now we all know that getting some sleep is a lot different than walking away from negotiations. I want to ask the minister, what is she going to do to restore some public confidence in this negotiation process that has dragged on for far too long?

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, I agree with the member opposite. This strike has gone on for far too long, but the sides are still negotiating. I believe lawyers for both sides were communicating again this week and there may be another meeting before the end of the week.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I would say to the minister that allegations and accusations about bargaining in bad faith is a very, very serious matter. It is one that needs to be dealt with very quickly because this can poison any progress that can be made in the process. I want to ask the minister, why is she failing the students, the teachers and the caretakers in this province by refusing to investigate these serious matters?

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, what is going on between the union and its employer is what the Speaker, here, would call a dispute between two members. It is not a job of the Minister of Education, under any authority, under the Education Act, to do any such thing.

[Page 2341]

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

HEALTH - CARE: SYSTEM - POLITICAL INVOLVEMENT

MR. WAYNE GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health. Nova Scotians were disturbed yesterday to hear that the member for Cape Breton North said that he was responsible for the reopening of the emergency services at the Northside General Hospital. My question to the minister is, how can the Minister of Health talk about evidence-based and outcome-based health care when his own colleagues announce that the system is politically managed?

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I want to tell the honourable member and all members of the House that the member for Cape Breton North did what any responsible MLA would do and that would be to try to represent the interests of his constituents in an issue (Interruption) (Applause) Because that particular facility is in his constituency, I do know that he was in constant contact with me and also with officials in District Health Authority 8, and certainly did what he could to see that issue was resolved, and indeed it was resolved. (Interruption) (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable Leader of the Liberal Party does have the floor.

MR. GAUDET: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please, honourable members. Order. We do have quite a few minutes to put in, relative to Question Period and the honourable Liberal Leader would like to place his first supplementary.

MR. GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, this reminds us of Lunenburg, last year, or Amherst, where high-profile Tory members saw hospital services in their ridings restored. My question to the Minister of Health is, what documents can the minister table to show that this isn't just political management?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, in this Party, health extends far beyond politics and, I must say, that may have been their practice when they were on this side of the House, but I think maybe what the honourable member is referring to is one of the mistakes that the honourable member for Cape Breton West was referring to when he said we did some things that put him on that side of the House.

MR. GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, in Digby the hospital emergency department shuts down on the weekend. My final question to the minister is, when will we see departmental, not political, action to resolve the service disruption in Digby?

[Page 2342]

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, the Department of Health has been working with officials down in that district health authority to try to restore the operating room at the Digby General Hospital to full operating capacity. Unfortunately, there are a number of factors in that area which are a little different than some of the factors in other parts of the province, but I would dearly love to have that issue resolved as quickly as possible. My staff continues to work with officials down there to resolve the issue.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

EDUC. - JANITORIAL STRIKE:

LABOUR PRACTICES ALLEGATIONS - MIN. SETTLE

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, I must say I was astounded by the responses of the Minister of Education to the concerns of the member for Halifax Needham. I don't think she understands the seriousness of the allegations that have been made. It is alleged that the school board administrators asked employees to find ways to push caretakers into a strike so that their contract could be broken.

They wanted to break the contract so they could hire an American conglomerate, Sodexho-Marriott to come in and clean Halifax schools. The minister, no doubt, wants to tell us that these allegations have nothing to do with her - in fact, that is just exactly what she is saying - but the reality is that this government must take responsibility for what has happened because of the straightjacket that their funding has put the board in.

I want to ask the minister, given this new information, what will the minister do to use all means at her disposal to settle this strike immediately?

HON. JANE PURVES: Mr. Speaker, first, I reject that characterization of information. It's an allegation and the two are very, very different. Second of all, if there are any allegations of that type regarding labour practices, then the member opposite, the Leader of the Opposition, well knows that that would have to be handled by the Department of Labour.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, I said exactly that, that they were allegations that the minister has an obligation to undertake to investigate.

It has been reported that the school board employees, Mr. Speaker, met with Sodexho-Marriott representatives to discuss a possible contract before the strike even began. They brought them to visit some of the local schools. If these reports are true, the administration of the school board was planning always to push these local caretakers into a strike and we have to ask ourselves, if the school board wanted the workers to strike and if they are wooing Sodexho-Marriott to fill the jobs, how committed can they be to reaching a settlement?

[Page 2343]

So I want to ask the minister to prove to workers and students and parents that she has not washed her hands of this. Will the minister commit to intervene today in this labour dispute?

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, the Leader of the Opposition appears to be making a case that there is bargaining in bad faith here. If that is the case, then those allegations should be investigated by the Department of Labour.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, the minister misses the point. She has an obligation to provide quality education to the students of this province. If the allegations are true, then it is obvious that the school board has bargained in bad faith and it is now time for the minister to intervene. So, as a sign of good faith with the striking workers, will the minister at least investigate the claims?

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, the Leader of the Opposition has said something that is very true. It is my job to supervise the quality of education in this province. Not one thing that has been brought up here today has been about the quality of education.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

HEALTH - NORTHSIDE GEN. HOSP.:

DOCTORS RECRUITMENT - POLICY

DR. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Health. Late yesterday afternoon, we all heard the announcement that emergency services at the Northside General Hospital have been band-aided for now. The solution to this political problem was to solicit the services of a doctor in Halifax for the next few days. But the arrogance of the minister, he has to be reminded that he is responsible for all Nova Scotians. My question to the Minister of Health is, is this shuffling of the deck type of solution one that all Nova Scotians should be accustomed to in the health care?

[3:00 p.m.]

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, the issue of physician resources is something we continue to wrestle with here in Nova Scotia as, indeed, in other parts of Canada and in other parts of the world. I think looking positively, I am delighted to hear that the service has been able to be restored to the Northside General Hospital and I look forward to seeing that service back on a stable footing before too long and we will continue to see that all situations in the province having to do with emergency services are on a stable footing, to the best of our ability.

[Page 2344]

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, the minister's own Web site says that he wasn't doing the job in terms of recruiting doctors in Sydney. He took an offer from a doctor in Halifax. The problem is his Web site is also showing that the Halifax-Dartmouth community needs three-plus family physicians. My question to the minister is, could the minister please confirm for all Nova Scotians whether his plan for physician recruitment is based on political expediency or solid-based evidence?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, we are trying to move this health system to solid-based evidence and we will continue to move that way. We have now assembled a group to take a very comprehensive look at the issue of health human resource requirements here in Nova Scotia. We will have a substantive report that will give us direction for the future including such questions as the number of seats that we need at med schools or in nursing schools or in schools of technology and other health care professionals. I feel very comfortable that we are going to do this on the basis of evidence, something that this group didn't do when they were in office, obviously.

DR. SMITH: To Nova Scotians, it is pretty clear that this minister and his government are allowing this health care system that is valued to deteriorate, Mr. Speaker. This government has released a $0.5 million report called the Clinical Footprint for Health Care but we have to stay tuned even further to hear of primary care. That is what we are talking about, primary care. Primary care and access to family physicians is the key to sound health care here in Nova Scotia. My question to the minister is, given what we saw yesterday, will the minister now commit to fast-tracking his clinical plan for primary health care delivery to Nova Scotians before it is too late?

MR. MUIR: I thank the honourable member for raising that point because indeed we are pursuing a plan for primary care which we think is going to benefit all Nova Scotians. We will move that along just as quickly as we can. He knows that there are a number of initiatives that we have already taken that have been things for this province and have been very well received. I suppose if we are looking at primary health care, one of the things that all members of this House applauded two weeks ago was the commitment to the information system which will help primary care providers in Nova Scotia.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

EDUC. - HFX. REG. SCH. BD.:

STRIKE SETTLEMENT - MIN. INTEREST

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, yesterday in this House the Minister of Education advised students concerned about the lack of toilet paper and soap in school washrooms to bring their own. Earlier, when asked to settle the strike, the minister said she wasn't going to take sides and she wasn't going to intervene. Now the minister has failed to help settle this strike. She has failed to listen to parents, students and workers, telling her

[Page 2345]

that they want the caretakers back in the schools. Yesterday, she even failed to take the situation seriously. My question for the minister is, with such a cavalier attitude, why should parents and students have any confidence that this minister is at all interested in seeing this strike settled?

HON. JANE PURVES: Mr. Speaker, no one in this House, including me or the member opposite, anyone in this House, would want anything better than to see these people back to work but there is a process in place, a collective bargaining process, that the members opposite often say they respect. I certainly respect that process.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, after suggesting that students provide their own toilet paper, the minister said that the reasons these supplies were missing in the first place was the students themselves. She said we all know that students have fun making a mess. So it appears the minister and the school board have a simple answer to the question of who is responsible for the problems created by the strike. They say it is the strikers' fault, they say it is the union's fault, and now they say it is the students' fault. My question for the minister is, what will it take for the minister to stand up and take responsibility for creating the conditions that led to this strike in the first place?

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, when I spoke to the media last night we were talking about kids will be kids, and they will. There happened to be an item on Information Morning this morning where kids were talking about the situations in their particular schools and they were saying essentially the same thing, so that accusation is just plain silly. I recall, during debate on Bill No. 47, that the member opposite spent a great deal of time talking about how the minister shouldn't be centralizing power in downtown Halifax, and shouldn't be taking control of school boards, and shouldn't be intervening in things where the school board is in charge.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, it is not as silly as suggesting that little Mary Jane bring her peanut butter sandwich, her toilet paper and her Windex to school. The minister said yesterday that she is tired and frustrated by the ongoing strike. I am not sure why she would be tired or frustrated, she hasn't lifted a finger to settle this strike. So, I ask the minister, if she is unwilling to see progress will she hand responsibility for this strike over to the Premier, when he returns, so it will get the attention it deserves?

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, I would like to remind the member opposite and all members of this House, that the schools are cleaned every day. I would also like to say there was nothing mentioned about peanut butter; as we all know, a lot of kids have peanut allergies. If the strike needs to be resolved another way, then it would be up to the Department of Labour to intervene, perhaps at the request of one of the sides. The Education Act clearly states that the responsibility for school board employees is with the school board, not with the minister.

[Page 2346]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Just before I recognize the honourable member, I wonder if I could request all honourable members, while asking a question and while answering a question in fact, to try to be a little more brief regarding the final supplementary. They are becoming quite extended.

The honourable member for Richmond.

HEALTH - NORTHSIDE GEN. HOSP.:

ER DOCTOR - REPLACEMENT DETAILS

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, this Minister of Health has absolutely no plan to deal with doctor shortages throughout this province. This week we saw that the Northside General Hospital was forced to close their emergency room due to a lack of doctors. Ironically, because of the fact that the hospital is located in a Tory riding, a doctor was located by the Department of Health within 48 hours to keep that emergency room open. My question to the minister is, can the Minister of Health tell us how they miraculously found this doctor so quickly?

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, we were indeed fortunate that a physician was found. I just want to make one thing clear before answering the question. The honourable member indicates that the emergency room was shut down for a lack of doctors, but what happened was there are 21 physicians operating out of the Northside General Hospital - and I am told that that is enough doctors for that facility - and they chose to withdraw their services from the emergency room. So what we did is what a good department would do and that is why we are here (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. That is fine.

MR. SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, this Minister of Health said earlier that their health plan goes beyond politics. Today he admits that there were enough doctors in that catchment area of the Northside General Hospital, but because they withdrew their services, within 48 hours he was able to send in another doctor on top of what he said was sufficient. Ironically, the Strait-Richmond Hospital doctors in that catchment area have gone 130 days since they have withdrawn their services for that hospital and, yet, the Department of Health has yet to send one doctor in to that hospital. Will the Minister of Health finally admit that he is not sending a doctor to the Strait-Richmond Hospital because of the fact that the people of Richmond County voted Liberal?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I think he is confusing that type of mean-spiritedness of his own Party because, as I made abundantly clear, we put health care and health delivery service in this province above politics. Our effort - we will do this and we will have it done - is to make a better, more responsive, more comprehensive health care system to serve all Nova Scotians, including those in his constituency.

[Page 2347]

MR. SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, 48 hours for a Tory riding, 130 days for a Liberal riding. This government has hit a new low by treating Nova Scotians as second-class citizens in their health care system, based on politics. The Strait-Richmond Hospital not only serves Richmond County, it serves the Minister of Tourism and Culture, and the MLA for Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury, a silent Tory backbencher who has said nothing on this issue. Will the Minister of Health show the same courtesy to these two Tory colleagues of his as he did to Cape Breton North, and send an emergency room doctor to the Strait-Richmond Hospital today?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, we continue to attempt to provide additional physician services for the Strait-Richmond Hospital, as we do for the Digby General Hospital, as we do for the area in Truro, as we do for some other areas. I can assure the honourable member and the residents who are served by the Strait-Richmond Hospital that we are doing all we can to get additional resources there as quickly as we can.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

HEALTH - DART. GEN. HOSP.:

CANCELLED SURGERIES - INCREASE HALT

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, we know that it is not just the Northside General Hospital that is having difficulties because of the failings of the Minister of Health. In the last two months, the Dartmouth General Hospital was forced to cancel 21 surgeries for hospital-related reasons. Information provided by the Capital District Health Authority states that it appears an upward trend is emerging in surgery cancellations at that hospital. That trend has emerged since this government began shutting down beds. I want to ask the Minister of Health, what has he done to halt the increase in cancelled surgeries at the Dartmouth General Hospital?

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I think the honourable member has implied there were a lot of beds shut down in the Dartmouth General Hospital, and I don't think that is true. I think what he would find . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: He knows better than that.

MR. MUIR: Actually, he knows better than that. He is trying to embellish his question. But that is why he is there, to spin out these incorrect stories. (Interruptions) And why he is always going to be there or out there, one of the two.

Mr. Speaker, could I answer the question now? Okay. These surgeries that have been cancelled - and I regret that, because it is an inconvenience, and people from my constituency go down to Dartmouth to have elective surgery done - most of those surgeries, the very large

[Page 2348]

part of them, were elective surgeries and could be done at some other time. If people need the surgery done, then it is normally done in an appropriate period of time.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, the minister is right about one thing, we are here to defend the interests of the people of Dartmouth and all the communities across this province, and we are going to continue to do it. We are going to continue to do that. We received information today, which I am going to table, showing that in the first two quarters of 2000-01, the Yarmouth Regional Hospital cancelled 34 surgeries due to the lack of beds. The Valley Regional Hospital cancelled another 12. Does the Minister of Health think it is appropriate that 36 surgeries were cancelled at those two hospitals alone, due to the lack of beds?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, part of the normal operation of a hospital that probably is run effectively and efficiently - and I don't like it any better than anybody else - is that likely from time to time something that is not deemed crucial is going to be put off for something that is crucial. Clearly, if there were surgeries cancelled in Dartmouth or in Truro or in the Valley or Yarmouth, wherever it happened to be, I can assure the honourable members and the people that they were surgeries that could wait. Those who need service immediately in this province, they get it immediately; those in need receive it first.

[3:15 p.m.]

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, I am also going to release the number of surgeries cancelled at the QE II for hospital-related reasons. This information shows that there has been almost no reduction in the number of cancelled surgeries at the hospital since this government took over with a promise to fix health care. I want to inform the Minister of Health that during his time as minister the QE II has been forced to cancel more than 2,000 surgeries. I want to ask the Minister of Health, does he think it is right that there should be more than 2,000 surgeries cancelled on his watch?

MR. MUIR: I guess one of the obvious statements that he didn't make, Mr. Speaker, was how many of those people did not get their surgery, and the answer would be just about zero.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

HEALTH: NURSING SHORTAGE - STATUS

DR. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health. Yesterday, in response to a question, the minister said that if he could find nurses he would hire them. The Tory blue book said that they would hire an additional 200 nurses. The question to the minister is, has the minister in fact hired those 200 nurses, or is the shortage so severe that the positions could not be filled?

[Page 2349]

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, as the honourable member knows, we have a very active and very effective nurse recruitment program in this province, and we just announced a $5 million enhancement of our efforts. If there are nurses who wish to work in Nova Scotia, I know that there are positions. One of the things that happens with honourable members is that they forget that there are a lot of dimensions to a health care system. This is one of the problems that they had when they were in government, they didn't see the health care system as a whole. They saw it as small, segmented parts, whereas we are looking at it as an integrated system. There are nurses not only for acute care, there is long-term care, home care and all of these things.

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I didn't come here for a lecture. I asked that minister some questions. I asked him during estimates to say how many nurses they had hired. He committed that he would bring that in. He never did, and here today he is not answering the question and he is rambling on about what some other government did or didn't do, so the whole thing is that he is having a rough time recruiting nurses. What concerns me about the minister's comments is he has given implication that any nurse who wants a job can find one.

Does this mean that the minister will guarantee that no nurses will be laid-off as a result of hospital restructuring?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, it is very difficult to draw a comparison that the honourable member just tried to draw. The issue of what is delivered or what is needed in one facility is not the same as what is needed in the rest of the province. Again, I have to say these types of questions simply illustrate that the previous government did not see the health care in Nova Scotia as an integrated delivery system. They saw it as a bunch of separate things rather than as an integrated whole, which we are trying to do.

DR. SMITH: As we used to say, that honourable minister has more nerve than Dick Tracy. Do you remember those days, Mr. Speaker? For him to get up and say that. They have done nothing in long-term care; they have frozen in-home support; they have done nothing new in home care. They have been riding on what our previous government has done; that is what they are doing. The district health authorities' budgets have yet to be released. Would the minister have the courtesy to release those budgets before this House rises? Will the minister, at the very least, indicate that nursing layoffs are not part of the district health authorities' budgets?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I guess it is about time to remind members of the House that this is the government that gave early retirement to nurses here in Nova Scotia. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I wonder if I might request just a little bit more decorum. I don't know if it will do any good but today there seems to be an unusual amount of noise and the Speaker is supposed to try to ensure that the rights and privileges of all honourable members are at least protected, if not enhanced. So I would request all

[Page 2350]

honourable members to please try to conduct themselves appropriately, as that is why I am here.

The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.

COMMUN. SERV. - SOC. ASSIST.:

POST-SECONDARY EDUC. - EXCLUSION EXPLAIN

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I want to direct a question through you to the Minister of Community Services. I am picking up an issue that has been raised on a number of occasions here by our critic, the member for Dartmouth North. That has to do with a policy of the Community Services Department that discriminates against people who are attending post-secondary institutions in the province from receiving social assistance. There is a constituent of mine, a young woman about to be a single parent in probably another five weeks or so. She is now 20 years old and has been studying at the Scotia Career Academy to be a child and youth counsellor. She is now destitute, without resources. She has applied for social assistance and has been told she does not qualify because she is attending a post-secondary institution.

I want to ask the minister, Mr. Speaker, if he would explain to me, to my constituent and members of this House, why is she being prohibited from receiving social assistance and, therefore, completing her post-secondary education?

HON. PETER CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, to the honourable member, we are not discriminating against people. People may choose to take post-secondary education as they wish. What we have indicated, is our thrust is for people who are going to be in the two year training because we have to meet the majority needs of all of our people. We can't single out just a few.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: I don't know what people in this situation are supposed to do, Mr. Speaker. She has applied for a student loan and received it, paid her tuition, paid her rent, purchased necessities for herself and for her soon to be born child. She doesn't have any money and her only option is to withdraw from her course even though she is within two months of graduating. I will ask the minister once again, would he not agree with me and with this constituent that this policy is wrong headed? It discriminates against people who are trying to upgrade their education, who are trying to find work to do exactly what his department and his government has said they should do.

MR. CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, to the honourable member, the program that we have announced is, indeed, just that. It is to help people find work, to get them the training that they need and to provide them with help to get around the barriers. I am not familiar with the specific case he is talking about but people who we are looking to help, when we start on August 1st, will help people get training.

[Page 2351]

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: After August 1st it is going to be worse, let's be clear about that, Mr. Speaker. Here we are right now, it is May 2nd. This woman is within two months of graduating from a course. She has done everything within her power to try to make sure that she has the skills and the training necessary to be able to get a job. She needs help, Mr. Minister, from your department. Probably like many other people in the Province of Nova Scotia she needs it now. I ask you, Mr. Minister, to make sure that you recognize this policy is discriminatory, get rid of it and help my constituent when she calls your office again.

MR. CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, people call in, they have specific cases, they have specific issues and we do work with those cases to help them. Our policy and our plan, as we announced, will start August 1st. It is to help people find employment, to help people get the training they need and that's the direction we will go.

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

HEALTH - RECOVERY HOUSE: FUNDING - NEGOTIATOR

MR. DAVID WILSON: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Health. This week in The Evening News of New Glasgow it was reported that Tory caucus liaison and former campaign manager for the Premier, Cyril Reddy, was in talks with officials with Recovery House regarding funding. Now, given that the minister has a deputy, two assistant deputies, an information officer, two EOs and a CEO of the eastern health region, could the minister explain why Cyril Reddy is negotiating on behalf of the Department of Health?

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I understand that Mr. Reddy was trying to help the people at Recovery House but I can assure you he was not negotiating on behalf of the Department of Health.

MR. WILSON: Mr. Speaker, a non-elected backroom staffer should not be representing a member of the Executive Council in negotiations, especially in areas of public policy, like addiction services. Recovery House is located in a riding with a government MLA, in fact, he is a Cabinet Minister. Maybe that minister could take an interest in this. Will the Minister of Health send a real Department of Health official to ensure Recovery House has adequate funding to provide its valuable service?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I want to repeat what I said in my answer to the first question. If Mr. Reddy is there, he is certainly not representing the Department of Health. I have been told that, actually, he is there as - as you know Recovery House does serve some people in Pictou County - a private citizen and his role, I am told - and I have not discussed this with Mr. Reddy, this is second-hand, as has been told by others - is that he is helping Recovery House prepare a business plan so they can make the appropriate presentation to the district health authorities.

[Page 2352]

MR. WILSON: Mr. Speaker, I can't believe that that minister is standing up and telling us that he doesn't know what a man, who was hired to liaise with caucus and Cabinet, doesn't know what that man is doing. He has been at Recovery House negotiating for two weeks. Cyril Reddy was hired to liaise between the Cabinet and caucus. Will the minister take personal action right now to ensure that Recovery House does not close instead of relying on nothing more than a political hack and former campaign manager for the Premier?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, Recovery House has had a long and distinguished history. I don't want to get down in the gutter where he is.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.

NAT. RES. - NAT. GAS:

PIPELINE (UNDERSEA) - APPROVAL EXPLAIN

MR. HOWARD EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, from way down in the Lone Star State the Premier has revealed that there are plans to pipe Nova Scotia's gas directly to the U.S. undersea from the offshore. It is no wonder the Premier waited until he was in Texas to make that announcement because it is bad news for Nova Scotians. Nova Scotians get most of the benefits from offshore gas in terms of onshore employment, not from the government's feeble royalty regime. So I would like to ask the Acting Premier, why are you cutting Nova Scotians out of the picture by allowing companies to pipe gas directly to the United States from the offshore?

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: I thank the honourable member for Halifax Chebucto for that question, Mr. Speaker, because, indeed, I too read that report. However, I can assure the honourable member that the Premier and the Executive Council and the caucus of this side of the House are determined that whatever we can do to keep the gas flowing through Nova Scotia will be done.

[3:30 p.m.]

MR. EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, the Premier has also indicated that PanCanadian plans to process its gas offshore, not here in Nova Scotia, which again means fewer jobs for Nova Scotians. If Nova Scotians benefit mostly from onshore employment, but the government is letting companies process and pipe the gas to the U.S. offshore, then we have a serious problem. From all appearances, the government is doing nothing to maximize the benefits of natural gas to Nova Scotians so I would like to ask the minister again, will you commit today to maximize Nova Scotian employment benefits by making sure gas processing and pipelines come onshore?

[Page 2353]

MR. RUSSELL: I can assure the member that it has always been the plan and always will be the plan to maximize employment possibilities in the offshore within the Province of Nova Scotia.

MR. EPSTEIN: I think what is obvious to all the rest of us is that this government has failed to protect the interests of Nova Scotians in their own natural gas resources. They have spectacularly failed to stand up to the big oil companies. Let me ask the Acting Premier if you aren't prepared to fight for more Nova Scotian jobs in the natural gas industry, will you then commit to a new royalty regime which will bring the province a better share of the profits?

MR. RUSSELL: At the present time, the Province of Nova Scotia is indeed enjoying much success because of the offshore. As I said to the honourable member on his second supplementary, the intent of this government is to maximize those benefits for Nova Scotians and certainly the Premier is doing his part with his Fairness for Nova Scotia Campaign.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Richmond.

EDUC. - JANITORIAL STRIKE: MIN. - ACTION

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Although we have now heard that soap and toilet paper are in fact being replaced in schools here in Halifax, yesterday the minister said that was not the case. In fact, the minister indicated that students themselves should be bringing those essential items with them on a daily basis to school. While she later recanted and apologized outside the House, the minister still left a bad taste in the mouths of many by suggesting that the fault for the mess in the schools was students and not the lack of professional cleaning services provided by the custodians now on strike. My question to the Minister of Education is, can the minster tell the House what the people of Nova Scotia are to think about her callous disregard for the students in this province?

HON. JANE PURVES: The issue here is about a strike at a set of schools. It is a very unfortunate strike and I wish it were over, but the education of the students is not being disrupted. That is my job, the educational welfare of the students of Nova Scotia and I wish to assure the parents and the students that I am keeping an eye on this situation: that the schools are being inspected, that the health and safety of the students is not threatened, that their education is being delivered just fine.

MR. SAMSON: This is not a strike at a couple of schools. This is 152 schools, the largest board in the province, where there is a strike going on. Based on the minister's comments yesterday, she is once again showing her silver spoon while she speaks. The peasants are at the gates clamouring for bread and the minister is telling them to eat cake. She said yesterday that it was okay for students to supply their own toilet paper. It certainly makes one wonder how bad this situation has to get before the minister steps in. There are

[Page 2354]

students right now who are unable to attend school here in Halifax because their asthma does not allow them to go to school because of the level of dust. My question to the minister is, will the minister at least tell this House today as to how bad it has to get before she will finally step in and show leadership?

MISS PURVES: I have explained to this House before that we do have inspectors going into the schools. There are inspectors in 15 to 20 schools this week and I am relying on the advice of the Capital District Health Authority. At the moment, if health problems are detected in the schools, any school, that school will be shut down.

MR. SAMSON: This minister, day in, day out, refuses to show responsibility for the students of this province. Well, we are not asking her to take a side in this labour dispute. The question to the minister is, when will she step in with an offer for arbitration of the strike, before it is too late?

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, I am not quite sure what an offer of arbitration is. There has been a conciliator with the two sides. Anything further, along those lines, would have to be requested of and/or handled by the Department of Labour, not the Department of Education. That is very clear under the Education Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

HEALTH - MENTAL: PATIENTS - SERVICES PROVIDE

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, front-line mental health workers have told me that patients are being unnecessarily hospitalized, sometimes in secure treatment facilities, simply because there is nowhere to put them. The report of the Psychiatric Facilities Review Board confirms that information. It is clear that this Minister of Health prefers detention to compassion and treatment. I want to ask the Minister of Health, now that you have stripped these people of their rights and freedoms, when are you going to provide them with the services they need?

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I think the honourable member should also report that in that Psychiatric Facilities Review Board Annual Report they talked about the initiatives, the recommendations of the Kendrick report, and this government is moving ahead with them.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, it is shocking to know that people are being placed in detention facilities because this government doesn't see the necessity of providing supervised housing. More shocking yet is the fact that these very same findings were contained in the last Annual Report of the Psychiatric Facilities Review Board. What possible justification could there be to not correct this kind of inhumane treatment of our most vulnerable citizens?

[Page 2355]

What excuse could be acceptable for locking up people, because the needs of the mentally disabled don't fit into the Tories' agenda?

I want to ask this question to the Minister of Health. How many reports telling you there isn't enough community living alternatives for the mentally disabled are you going to need before you finally take action? (Interruptions)

AN HON. MEMBER: That is why we are here, to ask the tough questions. (Interruptions)

MR. MUIR: No, the reason you are here to ask those questions is you never listened to the answers last week. (Interruptions)

Mr. Speaker, in the past 10 years there have been about 30 studies having to do with mental health in Nova Scotia. About a year and a half ago, we commissioned another report called the Bland-Dufton report, which talked about mental health and the organization of mental health here in the province. We are acting on its recommendations. Simultaneously, there was a report called the Kendrick report. The honourable member for Dartmouth North, you should actually, probably what you should do is take your colleague for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour out in the back room and give him a lecture on the thing. (Interruptions)

Mr. Speaker, we have been through this. We are taking action. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. My goodness.

MR. DEXTER: I don't know if the minister has actually read the Kendrick report. The Minister of Health has failed to respond to the needs of mental health. Both the Psychiatric Facilities Review Board and the Kendrick report recognize that the cost of providing suitable community housing for the mentally disabled is a fraction of what it costs to house them in costly hospital beds. Would the minister tell us, why does everyone but you know that it would be more cost effective and humane to provide appropriate housing for the mentally disabled than locking them up in detention?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, one of the things that I have drawn to the attention of members in this House before and I will do again is - it wasn't that long ago - there were about 700 beds in the Nova Scotia Hospital, and they were all full, I am told. Now the number of beds in that facility is around 150, and sometimes people are there as day patients, they go out in the day. We would like to get to a situation where probably we didn't need any of those beds. We are working towards that. We have a task force looking at the recommendations of the Kendrick report, the Bland-Dufton report; we have the CAYAC group together, which is a mental health group; we are making progress for the first time, probably, in a long while.

[Page 2356]

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

ENVIRON. & LBR. - JANITORIAL STRIKE:

EDUC. MIN. - ARBITRATOR REQUEST

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Environment and Labour. Yesterday, students from QEH and St. Pat's left the school because of the deplorable conditions and, as well, in support of the striking custodial workers. My question to the Minister of Environment and Labour is, has he been asked by his colleague, the Minister of Education, to appoint an arbitrator?

HON. DAVID MORSE: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the member for his question. I would like to assure him that we continue to provide whatever services are asked of us by both of the parties and, in answer to his question, no.

MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, given the fact that the Minister of Education is somewhat neglectful on this particular matter, will the minister act on his own ministerial responsibility and appoint an arbitrator to solve this now health threatening dispute?

MR. MORSE: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the member for his question. We are respecting the collective bargaining process and I would expect the honourable member would expect that we, as a government, would abide by our own laws. That is first and foremost.

MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, I concur with the Minister of Environment and Labour. We would expect him to abide by their own laws, but would equally expect them to know their own laws, too, which this minister doesn't seem to know very well. What specific steps will this minister take this week to intervene in a dispute that threatens the public education system in the Halifax Regional School Board?

MR. MORSE: Mr. Speaker, I want to tell you, as the honourable member would concur as a former Minister of Labour, that a lot of time has evolved in our labour negotiations in this province. There is a system in place, and sometimes we borrow on those that are before us. For instance, the former Minister of Labour, during the Metro Transit strike, got up here in front of this House, in answer to that same type of question, and he said, we are respecting the collective bargaining process. I would expect the honourable member would respect that we, as a government, would abide by our own laws. So, in fact, I am quoting the honourable member, when he, in fact, was in the same position.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

[Page 2357]

HEALTH - ALZHEIMER'S DISEASE:

DRUGS - PROVISION DETAILS

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: I think that is what is known as a hanging curve. Mr. Speaker, over 7,000 Nova Scotians suffer from Alzheimer's. That number is expected to triple by the year 2030. There are drugs available that have been proven to be beneficial for people with mild to moderate Alzheimer's disease. The benefits range from stabilization to significant improvement in the ability to perform activities of daily living, behaviour, memory orientation and language. Ontario, Manitoba, Quebec, Alberta and Saskatchewan have each approved at least one of the available drugs, yet this government refuses to include any of them in our provincial drug plan. I want to ask the Minister of Health this. Why are you failing to provide these life-improving drugs to Alzheimer's patients on low and fixed incomes?

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, like the other Atlantic Provinces, Nova Scotia does not provide Pharmacare coverage for the Alzheimer's drugs and there are currently two on the market, although there will probably be a third one; Aricept and Exelon. To be quite frank, it is an issue and the evidence is not sufficient, at this particular time, in the opinion of those who make up our formulary, which is an expert committee, to put those medications on the formulary, the efficacy, the cost-effectiveness, they believe the evidence isn't strong enough at this time to support their inclusion.

[3:45 p.m.]

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, let's talk about costs. Since this government is so fixated on the bottom line; the cost of the medication is $5.00 per day, that works out to $2,000 per year, per individual. The cost of long-term care in this province is $95 a day. (Interruptions)

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

The honourable Leader of the Opposition does have the floor.

MR. DEXTER: The cost of long-term care in this province is $95 a day, that works out to over $34,000 a year per individual. Allowing these medications for Alzheimer's patients is not only the humane and compassionate thing to do, it is also the most cost effective. So my question to the Minister of Health is this, will you commit to do the right thing and make at least one of these drugs available to Alzheimer's patients?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, when the opinion of our formulary committee indicates that there is sufficient evidence of the efficacy, the answer would be yes.

[Page 2358]

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, this minister has failed Alzheimer's patients, their families and the taxpayers of this province by not approving these drugs. There is no excuse for robbing people of quality of life for not doing what would ultimately save millions of dollars in costly institutionalized care. So I am going to ask again, when will the minister stop making excuses and just do the right thing?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I believe at this juncture we are doing the right thing.

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

ENVIRON. & LBR. - LANDFILL (OLD GUYSBOROUGH ROAD):

PERMITS - COMPLIANCE CONFIRM

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Environment and Labour. Residents near the construction and demolition debris landfill on the Old Guysborough Road in Halifax County are concerned about leachate. My question to the Minister of Environment and Labour is, can he now confirm that this landfill is currently in complete compliance with permits and stipulations his department has issued?

HON. DAVID MORSE: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the member opposite for bringing up this question. There are a couple of old shale sites there that have acidic slate that was contaminating the local water supply, causing problems for the environment. We gave them a permit, as they are trying to evolve the science of dealing with these sites to remediate the same. We are working with them to do so and to keep them within their terms and conditions.

MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, I understand that the contractor was on-site as late as this morning making some changes to that particular site without Department of Environment and Labour officials. Can the minister confirm or tell all members of this House when this site and adjacent properties were last inspected?

MR. MORSE: Mr. Speaker, I thank the member opposite for his question, again. We have been out there since last week and we are very pleased to say that the owner of this site is behaving in a responsible manner. We have been negotiating with them and we are very pleased that they are trying to bring things into compliance.

MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, what the minister has just said is that the contractor is not in compliance. I have a letter here from the residents of Antrim, Halifax County, and I state, "We the concerned residents of Antrim, Halifax Co. NS near the environmental test site (landfill/dump), off the Guysborough Rd., are requesting that the government or someone in power take and pay for water and soil samples for all, and every contaminate concerning environmental safety from the site, the swamp that surrounds part of the site and also at the following residents:"

[Page 2359]

Mr. Speaker, this is just sample of the water that travels from one lake to the other in a brook in the centre of that particular site. If the honourable members would like, I will table it for the honourable member.

AN HON. MEMBER: Don't take a drink. Don't take a drink.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I am not sure, honourable member, whether or not that is appropriate. (Interruptions)

Order, please.

MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, this particular bottle of liquid contains leachate collected by a resident from an off-site brook feeding into Buckley Lake, right on the site. The residents fear their wells are being contaminated. My question to the minister is, will the minister send inspectors, today, to test water on- and off-site, as he did for the Meadowview Landfill in his own county?

MR. MORSE: Mr. Speaker, I am not sure I quite get the connection. Meadowview was closed long before I became a member and, certainly, a minister. I still appreciate that he brings up this concern. We are monitoring this site on an ongoing basis. There was composting material brought in, so that at the conclusion of the successful remediation, they could plant ground cover to eventually cover out the two sites. We will continue to work in conjunction with the community and the operator to see that it is brought completely into compliance and a welcome part of that community.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

SERV. N.S. & MUN. REL. - GAS PIPELINE:

ASSESSMENT (MUN.) - NEG. DETAILS

MR. GRAHAM STEELE: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations. The province is allowing Sempra Atlantic to negotiate directly with municipalities on exactly how they will be assessed for the gas pipeline. I would like to table a letter from Colchester Mayor Mike Smith to the minister. The letter says, Sempra is trying to have municipalities tax based on the revenue they generate and not on the assessed value of their property, which would be the normal way of taxing them. Mr. Smith is of the opinion that municipalities cannot legally negotiate a revenue-based tax deal, Sempra claims they can. My question to the minister is, will the minister straighten out this confusion right now by informing the House whether, in his opinion, Sempra can legally negotiate these revenue-based taxation deals?

[Page 2360]

HON. ANGUS MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, that is a matter which has a rather long history when it comes to Sempra. I can tell the honourable member and the House that the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities and my department have been in considerable discussion with respect to this issue over time. They have not requested us, at this juncture, to legislate that sort of an agreement. It is not settled at this moment.

MR. STEELE: Mr. Speaker, I would suggest the minister check his correspondence, because the province has made exactly that commitment. These revenue-based schemes offer much less return to the municipalities, at least according to Colchester County. Mr. Smith writes, "The deal proposed by Sempra would involve a major tax break . . ." But Mr. Smith says his opposition to the Sempra tax deal led the companies to suggest it would lobby the Premier to amend the assessment legislation in Sempra's favour. I want to ask the minister right now if he will commit to this House that his government will not cave in to this latest lobby from big oil and gas before this government is satisfied that it is not a major tax break?

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, I can tell the House that at this juncture I have no intention of introducing such legislation.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member is on his final supplementary, and I would ask him to table the document he is reading from.

MR. STEELE: Mr. Speaker, I certainly will. I would also like to table a letter from Sable lawyer, John Young, stating that Sempra is lobbying the province on this and other issues. My question for the minister is, why won't this minister simply tell this House and Sempra that there will be no special deal?

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, I have already indicated that there would be no legislation requiring any change on the part of municipal units. What municipal units would decide to do with respect with Sempra would have to be looked at on an individual basis, but we have no intention of introducing such legislation.

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

FIN. - BUDGET (2001-02): DEBT - PREMIER MISINFORMATION

MR. WAYNE GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Finance Minister. Last week, the Premier would not admit that the net direct debt of the province would increase each and every year of his mandate. In fact, the deputy minister confirmed that the net direct debt may not be reduced until 2007. My question to the minister is, how could the Premier be so misinformed as to the content of the minister's budget?

[Page 2361]

HON. NEIL LEBLANC: I find it amazing that the member opposite is asking me a question regarding finance because this is the same Party that told Nova Scotians that it had a balanced budget - $1.5 million surplus - when in reality, they had a $500 million deficit. The Premier is right when he says we have to get our fiscal house in order. I stand by the record that we are there.

MR. GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, I will table part of the budget which shows that while this minister may achieve a balanced budget, he has no intention of putting a dime towards the debt. The minister also promised a surplus management strategy in the 2000 Budget Speech which I will table as well. My question to the minister is, where is his surplus management strategy?

MR. LEBLANC: Obviously, the Finance Critic hasn't informed him of deliberations that took place in the Red Room because we mentioned in our Financial Measures (2001) Bill coming forward next year that we will be putting forward a surplus strategy as to how those funds will be provided against the debt of this province.

MR. GAUDET: Since the debt is going nowhere but up under this Minister of Finance, my question is simply, will the minister now explain why he is so far off course that the debt will not begin to be paid until 2007?

MR. LEBLANC: The situation is, for ourselves, we put forward a four year plan which was to reduce the deficit that was there when we took over which I indicated was $0.5 billion. This is the same bunch who is asking the questions today, telling us that we have to be fiscally responsible.

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

NAT. RES. - PROSPECT HIGH HEAD:

SALE - INTERVENTION PLANS

MR. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, my question, through you, is to the Minister of Natural Resources. Developers with deep pockets have gobbled up land on the Prospect High Head, land this government led local residents to believe would be protected. It is barely two weeks ago at a public ceremony celebrating this transfer of land that the Minister of Natural Resources stated, "Conservation is important to the province. It is important to all Nova Scotians." Well, let's see how it is important now. The Prospect High Head has been threatened again as developers are at the doorstep. My question for the Minister of Natural Resources is, what are you prepared to do to intervene to stop this land sale?

[Page 2362]

HON. ERNEST FAGE: Conservation is important to this government and important to Nova Scotians. That is why at the High Head project, public lands owned by the Province of Nova Scotia were put in trust with the Nature Conservancy of Canada and that is why they are our partners, along with the citizens and the friends of Prospect High Head and they are doing their best to acquire those private in-holdings. Today's assessment that there is a property up for sale or maybe transferred is one of the things we would deal with our partners.

[4:00 p.m.]

MR. ESTABROOKS: So let's hear from one of these partners. Sam Rogers, a founding member of the Prospect Peninsula Residents Association, says that this development of 36 exclusive homes on the coast of Nova Scotia will undermine the stewardship plan being developed for the area. He says, "It will fragment the High Head and totally disrupt its environmental integrity." The Prospect High Head is an exclusive piece of Nova Scotia coastline. It is valued and treasured by all. My question to the Minister of Natural Resources. What is your department's plan - not short-term - long-term, for High Head?

MR. FAGE: Mr. Speaker, again, the province's commitment is solid to Prospect High Head. Obviously we have turned over our in-holdings of public land to the project. The Nature Conservancy of Canada works with private companies, and individuals as well, to contribute dollars so that private in-holdings can be purchased, and we will continue to work with our partners.

MR. ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Transportation and Public Works. Part of the Prospect High Head is a Native reserve with access by Indian Point Road. It is a K-class road, and I would like to table a map for the minister so he knows what I am talking about. This road is not a road; in fact if we had good legislation it would be a heritage road, because it is nothing more than a trail. That piece of transferred property will be of no value to those 36 exclusive and probably non-resident ownerships on the High Head. My question to the Minister of Transportation and Public Works is, is your department prepared to deny use of this heritage road for upgrading purposes for these developers?

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I know of a number of Indian Head Roads around the province. This one, I take it, is in the member's constituency.

MR. ESTABROOKS: I gave them the map.

MR. RUSSELL: Well, I do not have the map with me. It is a K-class road, Mr. Speaker, and I assume that someone has asked for the transfer of that particular road to a private developer, or else for the upgrading. As I say, I will take the matter under advisement. I know absolutely nothing about that particular road.

[Page 2363]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Victoria.

ENVIRON. & LBR. - BRAS D'OR LAKES:

DWELLINGS - SEPTIC SYSTEMS MONITORING

MR. KENNETH MACASKILL: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Environment and Labour. Residents in communities around the Bras d'Or Lakes are concerned about water quality. In recent years beaches have been closed due to contamination by fecal coliform, and cultured oyster operations have suffered from poor water quality, threatening jobs and economic development, and tourism could be the next. My question to the Minister of Environment and Labour is, how often are the on-site septic systems of lakeside dwellings checked for performance and compliance?

HON. DAVID MORSE: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the member opposite. Actually, I was reading the response to the review of the Environment Act just the other day and it was talking about this very matter. As I understand it, when a septic system is approved, post Environment Act, it is every 10 years and that there is a concern previously. I will take that under advisement and I will confirm that time frame.

MR. MACASKILL: Mr. Speaker, I will be looking forward to the minister providing that information for me.

My first supplementary to the minister is, and we all know that the time has come for action on the Bras d'Or Lakes, on cleaning up the lakes. Many people tell us that the government is not moving ahead as fast as people would expect them to. Let me ask the minister, what protocols do his inspectors follow to ensure that sewage does not leach into the lakes?

MR. MORSE: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the member opposite for his question. In fact, what he is alluding to is a larger problem up in the Bras d'Or Lakes area. I think, as the member knows well, there is a sewage problem in that area and the community has expressed concerns and we continue to work with the community. I understand they have put forward a proposal through the Canada-Nova Scotia Infrastructure Program to upgrade their sewage treatment and we look forward to the answer from both the province and the federal government in response to that application.

MR. MACASKILL: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the minister but he is not answering the question I am asking. I am asking about inspectors relative to lakeside dwellings along the lakes and how often the inspectors get there and what types of reports they are bringing back. Will the minister give his undertaking today that inspectors will increase their efforts to protect the Bras d'Or Lakes this summer so people can use them for swimming and other activities? Will his inspectors enforce their efforts to do that, Mr. Speaker?

[Page 2364]

MR. MORSE: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the member opposite for his question. I would assure the member that when concerns are brought to our department and Nova Scotians ask us for assistance because they have some concerns about their septic systems, we will respond to their concerns appropriately at that time.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

ENVIRON. & LBR. - SANDY LAKE:

DEVELOPMENT - ENVIRON. COMPLIANCE ASSURE

MR. GRAHAM STEELE: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Environment and Labour. One of the last, best pristine areas in Metro Halifax is Sandy Lake near Bedford. There is a recreational development planned for Sandy Lake funded equally by the province, the municipality and a local service club. I want to stress to the minister that the local residents are in favour of the development but the problem is the development is racing ahead without any adequate environmental assessment. My question to the minister is, what assurance will he give to the Sandy Lake Residents Association, that this development will not proceed until all environmental and planning laws have been complied with?

HON. DAVID MORSE: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the member opposite for his question. I certainly welcome the news that there are good new developments happening in HRM. I will undertake to find out a little more information about the Sandy Lake Development and get back to him.

MR. STEELE: Mr. Speaker, I am advised the province has committed $150,000 a year for the next three years toward this project. That is a good thing and the province should be congratulated for that. Unfortunately, some people are putting forward the idea that unless this development goes ahead immediately, that money will be lost, even if environmental and planning laws and simple traffic safety have to be disregarded in the process. My question to the minister is, what assurances will the minister give to the Sandy Lake Residents Association, that that commitment of funding will not be lost simply because they are asking that their environment be safeguarded?

MR. MORSE: Mr. Speaker, I would like to assure the member opposite that the role of the Department of Environment and Labour is a regulatory one. There are certain legislation and regulations in place and we are duty bound to see that we follow them. If he wants an answer to that question, he should ask it to the appropriate minister.

MR. STEELE: Mr. Speaker, news reports today indicate the local municipal councillor said an environmental assessment isn't being done simply because, in his opinion, it would cost too much. My final question to the minister is, what steps is the minister prepared to take to breathe some life into the Environment Act and ensure that the necessary resources

[Page 2365]

are made available to complete a proper environmental assessment of the Sandy Lake development?

MR. MORSE: Mr. Speaker, I would like to inform the member opposite that we are presently going through a review of the Environment Act and I am very much interested in the comments that have come to me. My staff have a draft response and I look forward to reading over that in the next couple of days and it will start to address some of the questions that the member opposite is asking of me here today.

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

HEALTH - BONE DENSITOMETERS: PETITIONS - MIN. RESPONSE

MR. DAVID WILSON: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health. This past weekend, I met with members of the Catholic Women's League in my constituency office. They presented to me, for the first time, their concerns, which I will now bring to the floor. Last June CWL passed motions, both at the local and provincial levels, with regard to the necessity of more bone densitometers in Nova Scotia. Petitions were collected, some 670 of them from Glace Bay alone, and submitted to the minister. My question to the minister is, have these petitions been responded to and forwarded to the appropriate channels for consideration?

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I can tell the honourable member that they are not only from the Catholic Women's League, who have also, as members of this House know, been very active in their support of diabetes too, I have received petitions from them in that regard. We received a fair bit of petitions about bone densitometers, and we have a person, right now, who is engaged in trying to establish the guidelines for bone densitometry in the province. That should be available before too long.

MR. WILSON: Mr. Speaker, the government talks about making decisions based on evidence, so let me lay out the facts. The minister has a report in his department that has been collecting dust since 1998; actions that Liberals took as a result of the report have been cancelled by this minister. That is not enough evidence, I guess. The government has received $15 million from the federal government for medical equipment. There are bone densitometers in Lunenburg, Halifax and now Truro. My question to the minister is, when is this Minister of Health going to recognize the need to invest in some health care infrastructure, like bone densitometers, that will improve the likelihood of early detection of diseases like osteoporosis in women?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I would not want to take that as a sexist comment, because he should also know that diseases of the bone are not solely related to women. These bone densitometers are used for men as well. I would just draw to his attention that in 1998, we didn't cancel any actions that they took because they simply didn't do anything, which was

[Page 2366]

part of the problem, again, left for us to try to solve. As I indicated, we are currently getting some guidelines in place, and there will be an announcement in due course.

MR. WILSON: Mr. Speaker, that is not good enough. It is not good enough. The Premier told the people of Nova Scotia that we need to spend smarter in health care. Eight people hospitalized for five days would pay for the cost of a technician to operate one bone densitometer machine. My question to the minister is, will the minister assure all members of this House, and indeed all Nova Scotians, that he will pass on any evidence that he has in his possession, whether it be reports or petitions, to the appropriate health authorities for immediate consideration and action?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, the reports and whatnot that have come into our department certainly have been passed on to the appropriate officials, so the answer is yes.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

EDUC.: SCH. (PICTOU CO.) - LOCATION

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is to the Minister of Education. Once again I have to bring concerns of Pictou County residents to the attention of the Minister of Education. (Interruptions) That is why we are here. The new Pictou County school is on a list of new schools which the province has promised. The Chignecto-Central Regional School Board submitted a list of three preferred sites for the new Pictou County school about a year ago, but the Department of Education has been dragging its feet and it hasn't announced the site. They are waiting until the last possible moment, to avoid any outcry that will be muted by the prospect of delay in construction. Shameful but typical of the minister's approach to education. My question to the minister is, will she listen to the people of Pictou County and instruct her department to release the location of Pictou East School, the new school? They deserve a prompt response.

[4:15 p.m.]

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, yes, they do deserve a prompt response. It has been explained many times to the many people I have talked to about that particular school. It is simply that our officials are very busy with the schools that we are putting up now and Pictou had to wait its turn. The site selection will be made in due course and in plenty of time for the school to be built.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: A lot of people who opposed the schools in the first place, they felt betrayed when they found out the specifications for the school were being changed. Many families on the far reaches of Pictou East are worried that powerful Tory friends of the government will influence the siting so that the school winds up in New Glasgow and further away from their communities. My question to the minister is, will she

[Page 2367]

ensure that the students and parents from Pictou East are told right away where the new site is so that they will have an opportunity to give some feedback?

MISS PURVES: The answer to that question is yes, Mr. Speaker.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, the minister said the school would open in September 2002. When will Pictou East School open? It seems like there is not going to be much time to get it built.

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

OPPOSITION MEMBERS' BUSINESS

MOTIONS OTHER THAN GOVERNMENT MOTIONS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Liberal House Leader.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Resolution No. 778.

Res. No. 778, Educ. - C.B.-Vic. Reg. Sch. Bd.: Allocation (2000-01) - Min. Report - notice given Apr. 30/01 - (Mr. R. MacKinnon)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Victoria. Would the honourable member permit an introduction?

MR. KENNETH MACASKILL: Yes.

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

MR. CECIL CLARKE: Mr. Speaker, in Your Gallery this afternoon, I am pleased to welcome a former member of this House, Mr. Alfie MacLeod, and Robert MacLean of Sydney and ask that we extend our welcome to them today. (Applause)

MR. KENNETH MACASKILL: Mr. Speaker, I also want to extend my welcome to Alfie. I wish he was down on the floor on that side. I am sure he would make a big contribution. I know lots of members over there that he could replace effectively.

Mr. Speaker, Resolution No. 778: "Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Education give a detailed report on the 2000-01 allocation for the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board showing why teaching positions must be lost.".

[Page 2368]

Mr. Speaker, I think that is an appropriate resolution for this afternoon and I want to thank my colleagues for giving me an opportunity to say a word or two on that resolution this afternoon. Schools in Victoria County, while we have had some success during the time of the previous government when we were able to get some new schools - three, as a matter of fact - one school in Ingonish, one school in Sugarloaf serving the northern tip of the Island and, of course, the renovations and the upgrading of the Boularderie school. These were huge steps forward in a time when we definitely and desperately needed new buildings. Now, with the decline in student enrolment and the loss of teachers, we question where our education is going.

Mr. Speaker, 53 teachers will be lost in the board beginning in September, 23 through attrition and 30 through layoff, and 10 of the 30 to be laid off are probationary teachers new to the system and employed in instructing specialized programs. Newly and specially-trained teachers in modern technology and with specialty training and new teaching techniques are what our children need today. The loss of these teachers is also a loss of expertise in specialty-teaching areas.

Again, Mr. Speaker, the board is expected to lose 23 teachers through attrition and planned accordingly. This was agreed to in advance with the department because the board had a $1.1 million deficit from last year that they are covering by attrition. That's when the trouble began. This is partially due to declining enrolment of students and some of the reasons would be following the Devco mine closures, the additional loss of Sysco means an even steeper decline in enrolment in coming years.

The impact of the funding formula on the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board is at the root of the problem that we face today. The formula assumes the teacher/student ratio of 1:16.5; one teacher to 16.5 students. Currently in the Cape Breton-Victoria District, the ratio is 1:15.1. Mr. Speaker, the department's deputy minister reportedly told the board's superintendent to increase class sizes across the board and through the district so that the ratio is closer to the provincial average. To achieve that average, the board would have to lay off an additional 95 teachers. Can you imagine that; 95 teachers to bring the ratio to the average that the board would be looking for.

This directive to increase class sizes and diminish teaching staff has profound implications on the early intervention and assessment procedure that is designed to bring additional attention to elementary learners and the need. This is because the Nova Scotia Teachers Union collective agreement ensures that the last hired are the first laid off. Because hirings in recent years have focused on those with specialties in elementary and special education, these teachers are the most vulnerable to layoff. This situation makes the government's commitment to equitable resourcing of education and to early intervention, ring hollow.

[Page 2369]

Respecting the special education needs, it would cost an additional $38 million to implement the recommendation of a special report contracted by the board to look into special education delivery. Mr. Speaker, the board and teachers feel the government is not acknowledging that declining enrolment is directly related to economic development decisions made by its very own government.

Mr. Speaker, in May 1999 the board commissioned a study of labour force and economic indicators of future enrolment and found that the Sysco sale will result in the additional decline of 750 students in about two years' time.

In response during Question Period on April 25th, to the MLA for Cape Breton Centre, the minister claims she recognized the unique challenges of that board and gave them an additional $900,000. One real problem is the lack of multi-year budget plans so boards can truly project expenses over a number of years.

The funding formula used to be 80/20, meaning all boards received 80 per cent funding as a matter of course, but the additional 20 per cent of the budget was enrolment-based. This year, what should happen? The formula was changed to 75/25 and naturally, the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board is negatively impacted by the increased portion of the formula being based on enrolment. Many believe that this new formula cannot help but have the effect of diminishing the board's ability to deliver the core curriculum in our schools today. The Premier says he has no interest in micromanaging boards but that is in effect what he is doing because of the way the budgets are tallied.

Next year, 100 teachers will retire from the board. That mass exodus of older teachers will ensure an increased teacher/student ratio as the government wants, and opportunities for new and better trained teachers which teachers and parents and students want. As the MLA for Cape Breton South suggested in Question Period earlier this week, some form of bridge financing or some effort by government to stretch the growth of teacher/student ratios over two or three years instead of one, would solve a big problem. The reason this is, is because once again, 100 teachers are due to retire next year and when that happens, the teacher/student ratio in this district will meet the provincial average and satisfy the planning needs of the department. What is needed is a one-time, one year only, bridge financing so probationary and permanent teachers will not be lost.

Also, the member for Cape Breton South is calling on the Minister of Education to adopt that transition plan for the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board so that will halt teacher layoffs. The board says that the current budget could lead to the loss of many, many more teachers. We believe that the board's three year transition plan meets all the government's objectives without the need of layoffs of permanent probationary teachers.

[Page 2370]

In contrast, the government strategy would cause the board to lay off the 53 teachers before the next school year. We don't believe that is necessary. What we are asking for is a one year probationary time so that the teachers who will reach their age of retirement at that time will meet with the government's teacher-student ratio standards that they are looking for.

What we are asking for is the government to look ahead for two years to make that possible. Regional school boards do not thrive unless they are actively plugged into their community, contributing to and responding to the issues that face them daily. It has been the intention of this board to keep the public informed about their business and to expect their support when things go wrong.

The board has been struggling with shortfalls in their budget over the last number of years. It was reported to the media just a short time ago that spring must be here because the local school board is projecting a shortfall, and staff reductions are an unfortunate result of that process.

[4:30 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, the school boards had a deficit develop this year because of several events that were difficult to predict. We talk about the cold winter, the long winter, joined by fuel cost inflation, which came together, and the consequence was a $600,000 shortfall in their budget for 2000-01. When they were unable to predict the loss of those days by staff it further exacerbated the deficit by approximately $200,000. Another $300,000 was paid out in staff increments in wages, stemming from the Department of Education clawbacks during the wage freeze in 1996. Other over-budget expenditures in electricity, gasoline and diesel brought their total deficit to $1.5 million.

Mr. Speaker, we are asking the Minister of Education, today, to reconsider the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board proposal, to give them another year so that their teachers who are due to retire in that time will be able to retire, and they will carry on with their business of managing a proper school system.

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

MR. CECIL CLARKE: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity to speak on behalf of my honourable colleague, the Minister of Education, on a challenge that the education community is working to resolve in Cape Breton. The resolution before the House today, Resolution No. 778, states:

"Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Education give a detailed report on the 2000-01 allocation for the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board showing why teaching positions must be lost."

[Page 2371]

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise on that today. On March 29th, my honourable colleague, the Minister of Finance, presented this government's budget to the members of this House. In the budget we made careful choices. We chose to make modest investments in areas that are most important to Nova Scotians. Education is one of those key areas. We chose to invest an additional $16 million in funding for school boards. That is an overall increase of more than 2 per cent that boards can put into classrooms throughout the province. Every single board in the province, including Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board, received an increase in their budgets. It is true that some received more than others.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to explain why this happens. Funding for school boards is determined by a complex formula. Essentially, funding should follow the students, so enrolments play a big part in the formula. A large part of the funding is based on past years' enrolments, which are higher than the current. A smaller portion is based on enrolments as of September 2000. School board funding is substantially determined by the past years' enrolments, so we are actually giving about three-quarters of the funding based on much higher enrolments than the current levels. We do this so that school boards with declining enrolments are cushioned from dramatic drops in their funding. This method helps boards to make a smoother transition to less students in the classroom.

The Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board is experiencing a continuing decline in enrolments. The trend is clear; fewer and fewer students are entering the school system in this area. In 1996, there were 24,000 students attending school in this board; this year, we projected about 20,600 students. That is about 650 less than last year. Next year's projection is for about another 650 less than that again. If we were to base the board's funding on current enrolment levels, there would have to have been a significant drop in funding this year. Instead, with our current method of determining funding, Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board received an increase of nearly $1 million. It wasn't a large increase, but it was an increase in a system with nearly 650 fewer students than last year.

No other board experienced such a drop in enrolment this year, so no other board is in quite the same position as Cape Breton-Victoria. We understand that it makes for a difficult transition but it is a transition that must happen. Despite enrolments steadily going down over the last number of years, funding has steadily been going up. From 1996 to the current fiscal year, school board funding to Cape Breton-Victoria has increased by nearly 7.5 per cent. Fewer and fewer students but more and more money; with these trends it would stand to reason that the board should be able to live within its means.

That is not all. After meeting with the board and discussing the challenges of dealing with declining enrolments, the Department of Education provided an additional $900,000. This is not considered base funding, rather it is extra funding intended to help the board adjust to fewer students over the fiscal year. By making this adjustment now, the board will be in a better position to deal with the declining enrolments projected for the next few years. Part of this adjustment means the board must look at every line item in its budget and make

[Page 2372]

decisions about where those adjustments are made. We encourage all Nova Scotia school boards to make budget decisions that put as much funding directly into the classroom as possible.

Mr. Speaker, every single member of this House will agree that putting resources in classrooms is paramount. In order to continue buying books and materials, paying the heat and light bills and providing other services in Cape Breton-Victoria classrooms, some staff reductions may be necessary. We all know that reducing staff is difficult but when there are fewer students to teach, it only makes sense that there may be fewer teachers. We cannot give this board a status quo budget when the system is not status quo.

The Cape Breton-Victoria board has identified at least 23 teachers who will retire this year. We understand there will likely be more. That helps to reduce the number of actual layoffs that have to be faced. The board has advised that it is considering reducing 30 teaching positions in order to reconcile declining enrolments and budget realities. Some of these positions are probationary. If more teachers retire, which we understand is likely, again there will be fewer layoffs. Cape Breton-Victoria has enjoyed one of the best student-teacher ratios in the province. Even with the reductions and retirements the board is currently talking about, the student-teacher ratio in Cape Breton-Victoria would still be better than the provincial average.

Mr. Speaker, I want to stress again that the problem in Cape Breton is rapidly declining enrolments. In fact, Cape Breton-Victoria enjoys the third highest ratio of funding per student. Dealing with declining enrolments is a difficult job for board members and they deserve our recognition and thanks for doing their utmost to serve the students in their communities. The Department of Education is doing everything it can to help them through this difficult time. Department staff have been meeting regularly with the board and have asked for a transition plan that will help the board adjust to less students in its schools. The board is going through its budget line by line in order to prepare the plan. We expect it to be finalized later this week. The Nova Scotia Teachers Union is also at the table encouraging teachers who are eligible for retirement to consider this option which would allow younger teachers to keep teaching.

Mr. Speaker, I am from Cape Breton and I know the people there. They are good hard-working people who want quality education for their children. We all want this, we have a common goal. But money is not the only solution to the problem of declining enrolments. More money will not change the fact that there are fewer students in Cape Breton classrooms. We must achieve a balanced approach to dealing with declining enrolments. How we achieve that balance in this board is the key. It is up to the board members, their staff, Department of Education staff and the NSTU representatives to continue working together to find the best way to deal with this challenge. Together we can find the best solutions that will give Cape Breton students access to quality education now and in the future.

[Page 2373]

Mr. Speaker, on a local note, in my riding of Cape Breton North I understand these very pressures the school board is talking about and what we are addressing on the floor of this Legislature today. In Cape Breton North we've seen some good progress with infrastructure, with the recent introduction of Jubilee Elementary School, and I do credit the previous administration for bringing that school to the community. In fact it was the only P3 school that didn't have widespread community protests because our community needed that school. The community rallied to ensure that it was a vital component.

In the community of North Sydney we also have challenges due to infrastructure, aging, old infrastructure; too many facilities for the number of students and now decisions will have to be made by the school board about how we reconfigure infrastructure for future years so that our students have the best possible education available. That will be done by ensuring that our schools are relevant, that our schools have the equipment and technology, as well as the teaching capacity and human resources to meet the student ratios that are currently available.

Mr. Speaker, in and around my riding the priority of parents, the desire of students and indeed the commitment of teachers to see us through this difficult time is only echoed by the members who sit on the school board in their very difficult time of decision making. But decisions must be made; decisions for the betterment of our area and our future. No different than the decisions that have been made by this government and tabled by the Minister of Finance and this department that is overseen by the honourable member to ensure that we have responsible decision making. What we are seeing in this process and review with the Cape Breton-Victoria board is evidence-based decision making, understanding where the dollars meet the people.

We are committed to ensuring that the utmost benefit is derived for each and every student in the classroom today so that we have the educated people to take on the jobs - every Party member, regardless of Party status, wants to see Cape Breton grow. We know that healthy economies, that better health care means that we have a better quality of education. I think that when we hear - and I endorse the member for Cape Breton East when he talks about the Stream Call Centre potential because I know those jobs would mean a lot to people in providing a better education for their children. We need to continue that. No different from the Tesma expansion, no different from EDS and no different from this government's resolve to see the offshore on Cape Breton, and education will be enhanced by that because people have jobs at home where they are educated at home. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Tourism and Culture has approximately two and a half minutes.

HON. RODNEY MACDONALD: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker, and I would like to thank the honourable member - my colleague, the other part of the Cape Breton caucus - for Cape Breton North. We have doubled in size, actually we had one and a half

[Page 2374]

before, we have almost doubled in size the last number of months. It is quite overwhelming, to be honest, Mr. Speaker, but I think we will get through it.

Mr. Speaker, indeed, education is an investment in our communities as it is an investment in the Strait region. It is an investment in the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board. I find it quite ironic when I hear the cries from the other side of the House talking about education because I remember when I was a teacher. I remember when the former Minister of Education and Culture came down to my riding and did not give the communities a say in the education which happened in our communities. In fact they were quite proud of the process they put forward. There were some good things which happened because of that process, I will acknowledge that with regard to new schools in my riding.

The fact is, much like the job they did in many other ridings, they went to communities, they did not give communities a say, I do not believe, a good say in the process. I can talk about Judique, I can talk about Whycocomagh, I can talk about Mabou and I can talk about Port Hood, Mr. Speaker, because the fact is they didn't give the communities a say. That is why there is not a member from the Liberal Party sitting on this side of the House, in the government.

The increase of $16 million is a strong sign of this government's commitment to stronger education in our communities, communities in Cape Breton North, communities like Baddeck. Indeed, we will continue to make investments in education which has gone up 2 per cent across the province. We will continue to recognize the need in the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board that there is a problem. We have 650 less students for next year. The Minister of Education has recognized that with an additional $900,000 and I think that is a significant investment to help the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board as they move forward in their transition process.

Mr. Speaker, I wish I had much more time. If I had more time, I would continue.

[4:45 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the honourable member for Cape Breton Centre. The previous speaker to the last speaker, the honourable member for Cape Breton North, said that this decision was evidence-based decision making. Well, I would like to know, evidence of what? What exactly is the evidence here? All I see here in this decision is evidence that this government is turning its back on children and it is turning its back on the communities they are from in the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board.

[Page 2375]

Mr. Speaker, the loss of permanent positions means the reduction in programs and, specifically, this is going to mean a loss in programs, music, French and gym, specialty programs that children across this province should be entitled to. It also means that we are going to see probationary teachers not able to find entry level points into the school system.

Mr. Speaker, I attended a school in my constituency this morning where the young people in this school, in Grades 7, 8 and 9, are going on a school trip for the first time in many years. That is because of the young teachers who are now teaching in this particular classroom, who have a lot of enthusiasm and they're highly motivated to put in all of the extra time that it has taken to fundraise and to organize the children into taking on this endeavour.

Mr. Speaker, when you lose the newer teachers, the teachers who have been trained in the last few years into the school system, and there people in here recruiting from other provinces. Certainly, in the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board, we cannot afford to be losing the youth and the enthusiasm and the knowledge base that comes with the teachers that are newly educated and newly trained. Certainly, we think this is a very wrong-headed approach. The board should not be blamed. This notion that boards have to learn how to live within their means, this board is being starved and the result will be a serious loss of program for the children.

Everybody knows, the member for Cape Breton North talks about the 2 per cent increase in this year's education budget for school boards. Everybody knows that inflation is running higher than that and this means that the education budget did not keep pace with the actual costs. Mr. Speaker, at least the Minister of Education is consistent on one thing. She consistently places the blame for what is going on in education someplace else. She has been blaming declining enrolment for the situation in this board, rather than seeing declining enrolment as an opportunity here to have lower class sizes and to invest in the classroom in ways that will make a difference and enhance children's education.

So I just wanted to say those few things about this resolution. I certainly support this resolution. I think that it is a very unfortunate set of circumstances that has developed in this particular board. Talk about kicking an area when it is down, that is what this government has done and that is why we are here. It is to stand up and draw attention to these things and point out that people have been let down by their decisions. Thank you.

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

MR. FRANK CORBETT: I want to continue on with what my colleague, the member for Halifax Needham was saying because the minister has said many times that the situation at the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board is a special case but when pushed on that matter, will not own up to it.

[Page 2376]

I want to talk about some documents that were used by the board arriving at this year's budget for 2001-02 and I tabled these documents in a question to the minister last week, but if they wish, I can retable them. But what it shows is that for the 2000 year student enrolment, Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board was the third highest enrolment in the province next to the Chignecto-Central Regional School Board and first, obviously, the Halifax Regional School Board.

In new monies per student, the lowest funded school board in this province was Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board. The Halifax Regional School Board had $120.38 per student; the Chignecto-Central Regional School Board had $133.38 per school per new student; and we go down the list until we hit Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board and it is $39.20. That tells me it is treated special, but not in a positive connotation. It is being singled out.

Many people stood in their place before me today and talked about what is causing this enrolment problem at the school board and it is, obviously, employment today. I heard the member for Cape Breton North get up and say, what we want is a school system that will provide an education system, a foundation indeed, for children of the future. If this government doesn't step in today and start doing something today, there will be no future for nobody, students, parents included.

We have real unemployment in that member's riding, in my riding of Cape Breton Centre and indeed, Mr. Speaker, probably in your riding of Cape Breton East, in real terms of about 35 per cent to 40 per cent. Yet, they will tell us, no, no, we are building for the future. The proverbial barn doors will be open too long and the horses will be long gone by the time this crowd gets around to it.

This government keeps doing little things. You are going to die in this government, not by one fatal blow, but by millions of paper cuts. I will tell you one that is striking when you talk about the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board. Last year when this government initiated the African-Nova Scotian seats on the boards - which was a good idea - but what this government did is they hid it in a bill that you had to vote for the bill to get this passed. But more significantly, what this government failed to do - and I would say purposely failed to do - was fund these new school board members.

Someone could say, what would be the pressure of adding just one more member to a school board? What would be those costs? I will tell you what could be those costs. If, for instance, the African-Nova Scotian member of the school board in the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board, if he has to go up and get involved in a dispute or even just to investigate something or to visit a school where an African-Nova Scotian may be attending we will say, north of Smokey, there goes his whole budget - one trip. The rest of his job is then eating away at other people's budgets for transportation because his district is so big. So why wouldn't the government accept that funding? Why wouldn't they give him the

[Page 2377]

funding to go out and be able to travel the district? It just goes to show it was a disingenuous gesture by this government to make itself look good. But really, when the rubber hit the road, its lack of funding is hurting the very people they purport to help. So that is one very concrete way.

Mr. Speaker, I have here, from April 24th, when the minister talks about supporting these cuts and the depth of them and she says she knows they are going to be hard. Then, in replying to a question, I think the other day from the member for Cape Breton South, she said, well I am not aware of that. Well, I think this minister has to start talking to her senior staff because senior staff winged into Cape Breton and sat down, and these are not my words, these are words of the school board who said they were treated like so much dirt under the deputy minister's feet, and he was being intransigent all the way through the meeting. Finally, after four hours of begging and pleading at the deputy minister and his minions, he kind of laughed and said, well I had this $900,000 in my pocket all along and he laughed at them, as opposed to going into that meeting and being forthright and saying here's what I have. He was willing to "get out of Dodge" if you will, with spending as little as possible. That is what he was prepared to do.

So if this government is trying to tell anybody that they are doing all they can to help an economically deprived area like industrial Cape Breton and Victoria County, that they are doing all they can to help these students get an education, well, Mr. Speaker, I think they are spreading falsehoods. Because if that very board has to beg the deputy minister, when the minister will not go and meet with them to face to face, when they have to beg the deputy to give them the money that he has in his pocket, that is shameful.

So what is this special treatment? We hear talk about we are going to invest in the future for these children. The very things that will help change the economy, Mr. Speaker, are new incentives, and new initiatives in education and some of those will be around French and using second languages. Of all the special education categories in Cape Breton to have to cut is music. The ministers across the way and the government like to sell our natural resources such as steel and coal, now they have used that up and they are kicking us out, and now they are going to misuse our music and cultural industry because they don't want to fund the languages. They don't want to fund the arts; they see them as expendable.

AN HON. MEMBER: We're here to make them accountable.

MR. CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, yes we are. As my friend from Dartmouth North says, we are here to make them accountable. (Applause) For the member for Cape Breton North to stand in his place and misrepresent the impact of P3 schools is ludicrous. It just shows his lack of understanding of that whole process and the lack of genuine concern by his government about school and school construction, because that was the same government that was caught taking materials out of those schools, out of that same school that he was praising. That same government had the trucks backed up to the door, ready to take

[Page 2378]

computers from the kids until we were here. That is why we are here. We pulled the plug on them.

Mr. Speaker, for this government to say that it is presenting a planned, thoughtful case for the education of children in industrial Cape Breton and Victoria County is a complete falsehood and she should be ashamed of it.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

The honourable member for Cape Breton West.

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise and make a number of interventions on this particular resolution. It is very important, this particular resolution, because it has some significant impact on not only the school system in industrial Cape Breton and Victoria County, but also the community at large and, indeed, the very social and economic fabric.

[5:00 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, I was a little disappointed, to be honest, that the member for Cape Breton North was being an apologist and condoning layoffs within the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board. What the honourable member negated to state is that what is happening at the school board is in fact a symptom of what the real cause is, that this government is failing to sustain the economic and social development in Cape Breton to the extent that it once existed. Under this government's watch, we have seen considerable decline in our economic and industrial base, and our service industries. The honourable member, in all fairness to him, is a new member; he is a little naive; he is being scripted to a certain measure, you can tell by the tone and the content of his written speech that was prepared for him.

Mr. Speaker, the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board is probably one of the most efficient school boards in the Province of Nova Scotia. It has probably the best financially-run management systems of any board in this province. The records will show that, and the Minister of Education certainly knows that. If she doesn't, I would invite her to meet with the CEO of that particular board, Mr. Davis and Mr. Peach, the Chief Financial Officer. This particular board has had to do with a lot less over the years because of declining enrolments and, indeed, because of the changing educational needs in the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board.

The honourable member for Cape Breton North is, again, wrong; he is 100 per cent, he is 200 per cent, he is 1,000 per cent wrong when he states that the only P3 school in that board system, in his district, was the one that was approved with no community confrontation. He is wrong. I can point to the Mira P3 school, Riverside Elementary. It was

[Page 2379]

probably one of the finest collaborative community efforts by six different communities that I have seen in years, given the fact that they are all unique, they all had their own schools and they all had to make some very difficult choices, but they did. They did it in a very fine manner, contrary to what the honourable member for Cape Breton North stated.

Mr. Speaker, perhaps if the Minister of Education were to look in her own department, in her own budget and put an end to some of the waste, the fat, the mismanagement that exists. Why is it that we have upwards, according to the Supplement to the Public Accounts, of $0.25 million for hotel rooms and hotel bookings, when we have schools across this province that are not being utilized? We have large educational facilities that could certainly accommodate many of these seminars and conferences that the minister referenced during her budget deliberations but, yet, the government continues to waste taxpayers' money, lavishly.

Why don't we cut the fat where the fat should be cut? The cost of administration at the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board is probably one of the lowest, on a ratio of all the boards and all municipal administrations, in the Province of Nova Scotia, the cost of that administration. That demonstrates quite clearly how efficient and how effective that board is in managing its affairs. Yes, we do have declining enrolments, but let's not be taken in by this kind of glossy, smooth over the real source of the problem, let's go back to the Walker Commission report versus the Graham Commission report, back in previous years that set us in the direction that we find ourselves in today. The logic of the honourable member for Cape Breton North clearly demonstrates that he is in full support of the Walker Commission report. In other words, everything is straight line numbers. No consideration for rural schools, for the demographics and the special needs of small communities throughout rural Cape Breton and indeed through Victoria County.

I would insist, I would invite that honourable member to read both those reports before he continues on this ill-advised script that he presented before this committee today. It demonstrates that what the honourable member is doing, maybe very unwittingly, he is putting politics, partisan politics into the education system. If he were to read the Walker Commission report, he would find that he would be in great conflict with a lot of his colleagues throughout rural Nova Scotia who have to deal with similar situations as is now befronting the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board.

I am a little disappointed. I am a little disappointed in that member and I am even more disappointed that the Department of Education officials didn't better brief the honourable member before he made his presentation before the Legislature here this afternoon, because had they, he would have looked at it from certainly a different perspective all together. The honourable member for Cape Breton North wishes to accept reality, and that is true, we all have to accept reality whether we like it or not. The reality is not apologizing for a government that is not addressing the real needs in industrial Cape Breton and indeed Victoria County. That is what the honourable member is doing with the sputterings at a high

[Page 2380]

tone of rhetoric. It does little to engender resolve on some very serious issues and that, I would suggest, is again a very ill-advised course for that honourable member to continue.

Mr. Speaker, just to give you an example: a week and a half, maybe two weeks ago the honourable member flew from Halifax during the sitting of the Legislature, flew all the way to Sydney to make a grandiose announcement of $25,000 and flew back the same day. Now wouldn't that money have been better spent on the children in the classrooms of the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board, or for the seniors who are now being charged $50 through no fault of their own that they have to stay in the hospital? We certainly appreciate the commitment that was made by the government. It was a request we made the previous year, the exact same figure that we made to the Minister of Natural Resources and he turned a blind eye.

So it is great and I applaud the opportunity for any member of the government to score a few political points for any effort, but let's not get into that pathetic, parochial, political gamesmanship that existed under the John Buchanan Regime. That is not value for dollar, spending upwards of close to $1,000 of taxpayers' money that could be better spent helping the children in the classroom. Give it to the children in the Halifax Regional School Board to buy paper so they can write their notes or their tests, or heaven forbid provide some money so that they can provide some toilet paper for the schools.

Maybe the Minister of Education should become a little more involved with the mismanagement of dollars that come from her department, with the Halifax Regional School Board, with the Excel Program that is now under RCMP investigation or some police investigation, criminal activity by a board who chastises the Auditor General for doing his job. That honourable member stands up and apologizes for being a Cape Bretoner. What a shame. What a pathetic shame, that he comes up and apologizes for the way things are falling apart under his watch. Again, ill-advised, if he is reading from scripted notes from faceless mandarins behind the political process. It will do very little to engender the regrowth, the redirection of Cape Breton, whether it be onshore, offshore or what have you.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to congratulate the senior management and the elected board of the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board. I believe they have done a fine job. Perhaps representatives from the Halifax Regional School Board should go to Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board and find out how to manage public affairs, how to manage the taxpayers' money. Maybe Mr. Reid should go down and take a lesson from Mr. Peach and Mr. Davis on how to be truly accountable to the elected board, and maybe we wouldn't be at the impasse of this labour dispute that seems to be getting out of control.

Neither the Minister of Education, the Minister of Health and, heaven forbid, we wouldn't expect much better anyway, but nothing from the Minister of Environment and Labour. This is clear drinking water. This is the water that people off the Old Guysborough Road are supposed to drink but the Minister of Environment and Labour, who stands in his

[Page 2381]

place and acknowledges that the contractor is not in compliance with the environmental laws of this province, he just pushes it off. More waste of taxpayers' money, because we have to do the follow-ups; less money for education, less money for the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board.

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased that our caucus supports this resolution. I would invite the honourable member for Cape Breton North and, indeed, the honourable Minister of Tourism and Culture to stop being apologists for who they are, and stand up for what they represent. That is the history, the culture and the good people of Cape Breton Island. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Eastern Shore.

MR. WILLIAM DOOKS: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today. I must say that I am very surprised that the good member for Cape Breton West didn't finish out his time on his own resolution.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The time for debate has expired. (Laughter) (Interruptions)

Order, please. Just to get it straight, so that it goes down in Hansard.

The honourable Liberal House Leader.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Resolution No. 661.

Res. No. 661, Health - Care Workers: Min. - Apologize - notice given Apr. 25/01 - (Dr. J. Smith)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

[5:15 p.m.]

DR. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, thank you for the opportunity to lead the debate on Resolution No. 661 today. That resolution dealt, essentially, with the initiatives of this government that had promised to cut administrative services and fix the health care system. Instead, we see a reversal of that and they continue to dismantle the health care system while increasing the administration. That is sort of the gist of the resolution that is on the floor for debate at this hour.

[Page 2382]

Mr. Speaker, in the last few weeks, we have seen some very disturbing developments in the Department of Health that need to be brought to the attention of all Nova Scotians at this Legislature. We don't have to go very far in recent times in Nova Scotia, in our history, to remember some of the comments that I am going to make right now and they would include, that this province needs doctors, not government spin doctors; that Nova Scotians need nurses, not four mini-departments that spend tax dollars on paper work; that the province needs a health care system that concentrates on results, not consultants. I am certain, to all members of government on that side, including the Tory backbenchers, that these statements are all too familiar, as they were statements made by the Premier during the course of the last election campaign, they were from the now Premier of this province.

What a difference 622 days make. Instead, during that time, those 622 days, what have Nova Scotians gotten from that Premier and this government? Well, in the Health Minister's most recent budget we have seen him increase the budget of his communications division by $219,700. That amount of money would hire six nurses. Instead, we see a broken commitment of this government. The minister has hired more spin doctors in his department, so that now he spends over $0.5 million on this function alone; that is just in the Department of Health. If you look at what the government has done with Communications Nova Scotia, you get a worse picture but a better idea of what is actually happening.

This government is planning to hire 34 more communications people at Communications Nova Scotia. All of those will be at the taxpayers' expense to the tune of over $1.8 million. Sadly speaking, this $1.8 million could have hired an additional 51 nurses. What are Nova Scotians getting instead? Spin doctors to spin the wonderful stories of health care. In July 1999, the Premier stated that what we need are more nurses, not four mini-Departments of Health using taxpayers' money to do paperwork. That is what he saw the regions doing back there in those days prior to being elected Premier of this province.

Yesterday, the truth became apparent to all Nova Scotians of what this government is all about. We have seen increases in two regions and two regional CEO's salaries that amount to an increase of more that $0.5 million in salaries. We now see six CEOs doing the previous job of two CEOs. I think even the Premier would have to agree that this is not the eyeball-to-eyeball health care that he promised Nova Scotians. These are just the salaries, that doesn't include car allowances, moving expenses, administrative support for the CEOs in these six health districts. Those are the six districts that were two, previously. That doesn't include all the others. These increased salaries I have just spoken of could have been better spent on hiring 15 additional nurses who could have provided that promise - eyeball-to-eyeball health care.

This is not the end of the tale. Firstly, we have seen an additional $300,000 being spent on political staff at P&P. Secondly, we have seen over $0.5 million being spent on Healthcor, Ontario consultants that were brought in to sanitize a clinical footprint, a so-called plan for health care. There was a mere skeleton of a body of a report. Thirdly, over $372,000 being

[Page 2383]

spent on an associate deputy minister's offices. Fourthly and, of course, the $180,000 being spent on the highest paid deputy in government, plus odds and ends.

AN HON. MEMBER: Shipping and handling.

DR. SMITH: Shipping and handling, as my colleague says. A lot of shipping and handling going on, they all seem to be coming from away.

Number five and, of course, let us not forget the Minister of Health's Executive Assistant, as well as a special assistant at P&P.

AN HON. MEMBER: What is he being paid?

ANOTHER HON. MEMBER: Deputy Deputy Dog.

DR. SMITH: Well, the word is $75,000, that is the word. I know I should speak through you, Mr. Speaker, and not follow the rabbit tracks.

If this administrative empire building within his own department just outside the doors of the minister, outside the office doors - this is not off in some outreach program down in St. Lawrence or up in Cheboque or somewhere like that, this is right - the minister will be falling over these people as he comes out his door. If this was not happening, this government could have hired 38 more nurses. So, let us add them up. If this minister and his government had not broken their promises to the people of Nova Scotia, then a grand total of 110 more nurses could have been hired. So what did Nova Scotians get for this government's investment in administration?

Well, Aberdeen Hospital lost two mental health clinicians and one dietitian, Aberdeen Hospital in Pictou County; Cape Breton Regional Hospital lost 25 nurses; Roseway Hospital, Digby Hospital and New Waterford Hospital were downgraded, and still not knowing what the status of those facilities will be; the Sutherland-Harris Memorial Hospital in Pictou lost 1.5 nursing positions and lost overnight emergency services; 10 beds and four nurses were lost at the Inverness Hospital; and the list goes on. I truly think that the minister not only owes an apology to the people of Nova Scotia, he owes his Premier an apology. After all, it is the Premier's word that this minister has broken. It is the people of Nova Scotia that this minister owes the biggest apology to, the people of Nova Scotia

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Could I ask the members to come to order, please. Order, please. Could I ask the members to come to order, please. There is too much noise in the Chamber. Thank you.

[Page 2384]

DR. SMITH: The people of Nova Scotia elected this government because of their promises to fix the health care system. Trust us, give us the mandate and we will fix what is broken. Each and every step that this government has taken to fix the health care system has led to a loss of services and a lowering of the quality of patient care in Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, today I am asking the minister and this government to stop fixing the system before it is too late. The health of Nova Scotians cannot stand, cannot tolerate you fixing the system any more. I am asking you to stop fixing it. You know, we are back to the good old days in health care. As long as I have my support and my friends all around me, all will be well. There is a comfort about that and that is fine under many circumstances. But beyond that, the health care system is failing. There has been no movement in home care, there has been a freezing of in-home supports, the long-term care that was a priority of the Premier for so many days.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker, you are indicating, I gather that means one minute not something else. Thank you. (Laughter)

AN HON. MEMBER: You are number one in our thoughts.

MR. SPEAKER: I am sorry. Order, please. The member stood up. Order, please. I am sorry, order, please. The member stood up, I was about to recognize him. The honourable member for Dartmouth East has the floor.

DR. SMITH: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, and I will be bringing my remarks to a close.

I was looking at the various components. They talk about the continuum of care and this health care being a system. We know that, Nova Scotians know that, and I point to the areas that are frozen, and there has been nothing happening in those particulars areas. Now we see the initiatives like the sadness of the Northside General Hospital, and the champion and those members standing up and clapping last night. The stupidity and the ridiculousness of it; that is just a symptom of a system that is falling apart.

That is not going to be solved by one locum coming in, goodness knows what the training of that person is in emergency departments. You have industrial Cape Breton all around you there and the people deserve better than . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

The honourable Minister of Health.

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise and speak on this resolution, and I wanted to begin by saying I am extremely disappointed in the comments made by the honourable member for Dartmouth East, just before he sat down, in relation to my colleague,

[Page 2385]

the member for Cape Breton North. (Interruptions) It probably indicates why, as the honourable member for Cape Breton West said a week ago last Monday night, the honourable member is sitting on that side of the House.

Mr. Speaker, health care indeed is a very serious business and I just want to begin with something in the resolution. He was talking about an assistant deputy minister, an associate deputy minister, an executive assistant, a special assistant, and a chief information officer. I want to say that if you were to count those folks up, you have to count when he was minister and when that government was in power they didn't have one deputy minister, as everybody in this House would well remember, they had two deputy ministers whom they were paying at the same time for quite some number of years. I would say that the special assistant that he was referring to, that he had an executive assistant, I also have an executive assistant. The special assistant, who is not really a special assistant, does some work in Health, elsewhere. I would also think to the assistant that he had, called a physician adviser in his office, who was considerably more expensive than the person (Interruptions) so I guess what I want to say is that the honourable member's memory is not very good.

I also want to say that indeed we have delivered on our promise for more money to direct health care. The district health authorities over the regional health boards, the government was able to commit this year approximately another $19 million: for home care and community care, direct care to the people of Nova Scotia, an additional $9.5 million; emergency health services, again direct care to the people of Nova Scotia, an additional $5 million; and we have just announced two weeks ago, supported by all Nova Scotians, an additional $5 million to put into recruitment of nurses, and we announced relocation expenses and loan repayment for physicians who will locate in under-serviced areas.

I should also indicate that we are budgeting for an increase in medical payments this year. Obviously, if we are increasing the medical payments then that must reflect that we are bringing more physicians into the province who are meeting the needs of the people. I also want to indicate for the House that our administrative costs in the Department of Health are less than 2 per cent.

So to stand up and imply that we are spending gobs of money on administrative positions and nothing to improve direct front-line health care workers is simply inaccurate. As a matter of fact, Mr. Speaker, you can go back and check the record over the past number of years, and you may find that our administrative expenses are less, percentage-wise, than at any time in the last seven or eight years.

One of the things that the system lacked was strong leadership. It wasn't so much the people in place, I don't think, as it was the lack of vision from the previous government; they didn't have any idea what they wanted to do in health care.

[Page 2386]

[5:30 p.m.]

I want to tell you a description I heard about health care from a person who is no longer in the department, but had worked with the department, worked with this group for some time. He said, it was like this, the regional health boards had a major practice, they spend for 11 months and then come to the department in month 12 with their hands out saying, bail us out. (Interruption) No, that was one of your people. I have some numbers here which I will present a little bit later on just to show it.

One of the things, Mr. Speaker, that was needed most to help our health system was a good information system. We have committed to making decisions based on evidence and best practices. That is what we have tried to do. Obviously, if you are going to do that - this is something those other groups know nothing about and don't want to know anything about. Because if you had to use information and best practices, then you would have to make rational statements.

Mr. Speaker, I want to tell you that we did hire a chief information officer. The honourable member, I am not so sure the day he asked the question that he thought that person was part of our communication staff because that is certainly what the headline read in the paper the next day, so I assume they got if from him. The chief information officer is a very talented person and we were able to do, when she came, a project that had been on the books for five years. We were able to get it done in nine months. So I want to tell you that I think one of the things that will distinguish this government from our predecessors for the previous six years, is the ability to get things done. That is what the people we have brought in will do.

I just want to give you a little example of how effective it is. The honourable member for Richmond was railing on today about physicians in Strait-Richmond and in the Northside General Hospital. The regional health boards really weren't very well received by the people in the province. We made a commitment during the election campaign to remove those regional health boards and put the decision making back in the communities and that is what we have done with the regional health authority. The talk about the Northside General Hospital, and that was really unfortunate, it is unfortunate anywhere that doesn't have a physician, I want to tell you, the main people who were responsible for that were the district health authority there. They worked very hard on that. That is an example of what can be done when you move things back into the community.

They talk about administrative positions, Mr. Speaker, and moving things back into the community. We went from eight organizations, really, to 10, if you count four regional health boards and four non-designated institutions or independent institutions. We moved some of those to the Capital District Health Authority and in terms of administration we have, in the Capital District Health Authority, reduced the administrative costs by 33 per cent and reduced the number of senior administrators from 20 to 10.

[Page 2387]

Mr. Speaker, I just want to tell you that what we have been able to do is to put that money into front line care. It doesn't matter how many press releases the former minister wishes to send out, at the end of the day, we are the ones that are taking the right steps and taking health care in a positive, new direction. I make absolutely no apologies for the staff we have hired to create something that is tangible, something that the former government could only talk about when they occupied the office across the street. It is ludicrous to imply that the change in the administrative structure has displaced money that could be spent on front line health care workers.

We have money and provided money to hire nurses. For example, our nursing strategy, Mr. Speaker, is $5 million annually, $5 million put into the recruitment, the retention and the retraining of nurses, both RNs and the licensed practical nurses. Other things that we are doing to enhance the profession are two bills that will be coming in this session to upgrade the professional status of the LPNs and, of course, the revisions to the RN Act. We have money in the budget to hire doctors. We have money to assist new doctors with their debt payments. What we have done, we have put that money for the debt payments to try to encourage people to go to areas that need medical services and are currently without physicians, primarily rural areas.

We have money to hire new home care workers, as well. Indeed, the increase in the home care budget, Mr. Speaker, long-term care budget, is about $19 million. The Opposition chose to criticize the money spent on the administration for the district health authorities, but when we were putting this system together, the front line workers said that the former system was just too big and too far away.

We are excited about the district health authorities and I want to tell you that regionalization was no bargain. The fiscal year of 1998-99, the Department of Health picked up cost overruns by the regional health boards and the non-designated organizations which totalled $317 million - $317 million they had to pick up. Now, if we can put a structure in place that costs $1 million and we save $316 million, it is a good bang for the buck. (Applause)

In the fiscal year of 1999-2000, the Department of Health picked up an additional $5.4 million in cost overruns from the same health care organizations and $38.5 million in the last fiscal year, the majority of which was incurred by the former health care organizations. Perhaps if the former minister and his department had spent more money up front on seeing that the administration of these systems was stable and in place, then it would have been a much more cost effective operation. By the way, if it is cost effective, that means that the money is flowing through to the front line workers where it is needed.

Let me also remind the House of some of the accomplishments we have had in our short tenure. The single entry access system is in place across the province. The previous government . . .

[Page 2388]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: It is a pleasure to join the debate on this resolution this evening. It is always enlightening to hear the Minister of Health speak and I have to say that you learn something every time that he gets on his feet. What you usually learn is the ability of the Department of Health and the officials and the speech writers they have to engage in duplicitous histrionics that are aimed at only papering the logical cracks that exist between what the minister says and what the department does. That is what you usually learn.

This Minister of Health explains away the administration in his department by saying, well, it is true, we have added a Deputy Minister of Health that we are paying $180,000 to, I now have an associate deputy minister and an assistant deputy minister, a special assistant and any number of additional administrative staff in his department and then he says, but we have done away with the administrative staff at the Capital District Health Authority, we have decreased the administration there. Then he looks down the road and he sees, and he admits, that he has put in place CEOs in the district health authorities that are much more expensive than the ones that existed prior to his government taking office. There are more of them and they are more expensive. He explains that and tries to make it seem as though it is a good thing somehow.

You have to look at the rationale as to why it is that you would move administrative staff out of the hospitals and into the Department of Health. Well, there is a reason for that and it is one that we have often pointed out to the people of this province. We have pointed out through the Health Authorities Act, the point of that exercise from the Minister of Health's perspective was to centralize in Halifax, in the Department of Health, all of the decision making for the Province of Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, that is why the increases in administration take place in the minister's office and why you withdraw them from the Capital District Health Authority, among others. That is not a good thing. In fact, it is exactly contrary to what this government said they were going to do when they got elected. What they said they were going to do is they were going to provide an opportunity for communities to have input into the decision-making process around health care, that they were going to reduce the administrative costs.

What kind of reduction of administrative costs are there when you go outside of your department and hire an external company to come in and do $0.5 million worth of work, producing a clinical footprint that you originally said was going to be produced internally? Now what savings are there? Explain the administrative savings in doing that, Mr. Speaker. Well, there are none.

[Page 2389]

Again, it is part of the campaign that is being carried on by the Department of Health to get rid of the input of the communities and centralize it in the Department of Health, because, of course, they didn't use internal resources. They didn't use the community health boards to come up with these answers. They didn't even use the district health authorities to come up with the clinical services footprint. No, they used an external body. They used Healthcor, they went outside and they paid $0.5 million to get that done, because they know what the next part of this is, and it is coming very shortly, when the business plans and the budgets are finally tabled.

Mr. Speaker, I have to tell you, I don't think the Minister of Health has it in him. I don't think he has the gumption to table those business plans, to show the budgets for the district health authorities to the people of this province before the House rises. The reality is, he doesn't like public scrutiny. He doesn't like to have somebody look at the handiwork that he has done too closely. Because, all of a sudden, all of the failures of the government become apparent. I want to give you a couple of examples.

Mr. Speaker, this is the government that said that they could take a little money out of administration, they could add a little bit in from general revenues and shazam. All of a sudden there would be a proper health care system in this province and there wouldn't be any problems. There wouldn't be waiting lists. The minister was going to work some kind of magic. Well, the reality is, today, in this House, we tabled documentation that show that surgical cancellations are going up in Dartmouth General Hospital. Last week, we brought to the attention of the minister the effects that the cancellation of the meal allowance was going to have on cancer patients and on people at the Eating Disorder Clinic. Before that, we had to embarrass the government into putting back in place a nutritional supplement at the IWK Hospital. It has just been an absolute parade of mistakes and failures that this government has had over the last two years.

The diagnostic equipment in our institutions is becoming antiquated and, in some places, are becoming outright unusable. They have to look elsewhere and get those tests done at other institutions. We have seen the Canadian Cancer Society say that they are going to withdraw from providing low income and the working poor with the drugs they need because they say, and rightly so, that it is the responsibility of the government to see to it that these people are properly cared for. That is another one of the failures of this government. Look at cochlear implants.

[5:45 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, we joined with the parents of many children and adults who need this important service in this province. They have been told that in Ottawa and Toronto, the Ontario clinics are telling them that they are no longer going to provide the service to people from Nova Scotia, that they are now reaching their capacity with people from Ontario. It is the responsibility of the provincial government to respond. I understand that the government

[Page 2390]

actually went out and tried to find a surgeon, somebody who was capable of doing this, a physician whose expertise was in cochlear implants. They brought him to Nova Scotia. And do you know something, he is thinking about leaving. He is thinking about leaving because the support that he needs in order to be able to perform those procedures is not here. All he wants to do is do his job.

The Minister of Health gets some $300,000 from the federal government to assist with new programming for those people who are suffering with hepatitis C. New programming, this could be a positive thing. This was an opportunity for the government to take advantage of federal money to do something right. Have they done it? No. They haven't done it, they failed, on that account, all of those individuals who are affected.

They are tasked with the responsibility to try to put in place enough homes for special care so that elderly parents don't have to worry about dying before their adult disabled children have been placed. Have they moved on that at all? Not at all. A failure by this government, yet, again. A missed opportunity to do the things they said they were going to do. They did away with the subsidy for a transportation program for children with behavioural problems so they could get to the day programs they needed. A failure of the children of this province.

Mr. Speaker, this afternoon we asked the minister if he would do the right thing and see to it that those Alzheimer's patients who require Exelon or Aricept would be able to have access to those drugs, because the cost of supporting that project, that pharmacological intervention was much less than having to provide institutionalized care for those people who suffer from Alzheimer's. We asked them to do this, and to do the right thing. Mr. Minister, what was the response? The response was an abject no. They decided that for whatever reason, these people with moderate or mild Alzheimer's condition did not warrant the attention of the government. I have to say that is particularly sad.

We have, of course, the recent example of what is going on with the Northside General Hospital, but that is not the only case. There are shortages of doctors and nurses, there are going to be shortages of home care workers. We have home care workers who are on strike. The Provincial Health Council has said that health care in Nova Scotia is in chaos. They are right. It is part of the failure of this government to all of those people, to seniors, to youth, to doctors, to nurses, to patients, to suffers of Alzheimer's disease, to people who suffer from hepatitis C, to the elderly, to those people who rely on this government for the health care services they need.

Mr. Speaker, if it weren't for the New Democratic Party, and our caucus, all of this would be swept under the rug. Well, I am here tonight to tell these people, to tell the members opposite that that is not going to happen, that they are not going to get away with it, that the members of this caucus are going to hold them accountable, are going to make sure that they understand the necessity of having us in these seats. That is why we are here.

[Page 2391]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

The honourable Liberal House Leader.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I welcome the opportunity to rise for a few moments and debate Resolution No. 661. I won't spend any time going into the whereases in that resolution or the be it therefore, I will simply say that I think when you are talking about this particular resolution, you have to talk both in terms of province-wide implications and you have to talk in terms of recent events. I want to go to a recent event. It happened here this week when it was brought to the floor of this House that there was a problem at the Northside General Hospital.

Now, only when it was brought to the floor of this House did the government miraculously go and find somebody to go down there, because they employed the principle, the long-honoured principle of Tory politics. Somebody brought it to the attention of Nova Scotians that the honourable member for Cape Breton North was already in trouble, only three months in office, and we have to get him out of this jam before he goes to the guillotine even before he gets warm in this House.

Now I have a great deal of empathy for that member because very early in his tenure here in this House he is learning the art of Tory politics, and the art of Tory politics is shut them up, get elected by any means possible. Now you contrast that to the situation in Richmond. It is ironic and interesting that the government only took two days of harassment in here to get a doctor parachuted in from Halifax to get out of that jam, when in fact the truth of the matter is they did it for political reasons. It has taken 130 days to do something in Richmond County and no such luck for the people up there.

I wonder how long that doctor is going to stay in North Sydney. Is he going to take up residence there or is he going to be there until this House rises? The people of Nova Scotia, and we on this side of the House, know exactly what is going on here. That honourable member for Cape Breton North is being touted for the provincial Cabinet and they don't want him guillotined down there before he gets a chance to get to the front benches. There are people over there who will never have that opportunity to get to the front benches, but the least they can do is try to protect the health care system, not use it to their advantage to get into the Cabinet.

When we talk about health care on a provincial basis, we talk about what is going on in health care, and $300 million more is being spent in health care and the system is going that way in this province - when the government said they could cure the problems in health care for less than $45 million as recently as two years ago - $300 million more has gone into this health care system, and nothing to show for it. The system is going backwards. No plan ever presented to this House regarding health care and where this government is going with

[Page 2392]

health care. Playing politics with every aspect of the health care system in this province for nothing more than crass political gain.

This government will try to convince Nova Scotians that it is responsible. I said it in this House and I will say it again today, the net debt in this province is rising considerably as we speak. As a matter of fact, by the time the year 2005 comes the net direct debt will have increased over $400 million. For those people who are watching, or those people who will ultimately read what is being said here today, I want to refresh that in the year 2001 the net debt will grow to $11.472 billion; 2002 - $11.648 billion; 2003 - $11.705 billion; 2004 - $11.754 billion; and, yes, in 2005 - $11.768 billion. That is the legacy that this government is going back to the polls with. No matter how you want to cut it they are going back to the polls paying over $1.1 billion in annual interest costs by the time this government has the intestinal fortitude to go back to the people of this province, whenever that may be.

I suggest to you, Mr. Speaker, that Prince John and the Sheriff of Nottingham over here, the Premier and his Minister of Finance, Prince John and the Sheriff, are taxing everything in this province that moves. If it moves it is going to be taxed, but it is going to be called user fees, including user fees in the health care system. I think that is nothing more than crass political politics of the finest kind. What is happening here is that they are telling Nova Scotians, look, we are not really increasing taxes, nobody is really paying for any of this stuff. People don't really have to pay for hospital beds, people don't really have to pay for drugs, people don't really have to pay for any services that they are getting. Well, we listed the number of services yesterday that they are getting and we listed what they are going to pay for them.

The government promised, Mr. Speaker, they promised Nova Scotians they were going to respect them in terms of health care delivery. What do they do? They are hiring all kinds of highly paid guns from everywhere else in the world to come in here and tell us what is good and what we need and what we don't need in our health care system. Highly paid gunslingers in the Department of Health, while are the same time they can't even present this House with a plan for the future except to say that there is more money going in the system and the system is going backwards.

Now, the plan for health care, the so-called footprint or the plan, the overall long-term plan, at some point Nova Scotians are going to get tired of hearing about it and want to see it. I believe the Health Minister should table his plans and where he is going with this system before this House rises, whenever that might be. I can tell you, Mr. Speaker, that that may not be very soon because there are questions we are asking this government about the Financial Measures (2001) Bill and the health care implications in that Financial Measures (2001) Bill. We'll also be asking this government to come clean with Nova Scotians on some of the tax measures they have been employing and hope to get through in this session of the House. They are not going to get them through easily unless we find out exactly why some of these measures are being put into place and the rationale that not only we are asking for,

[Page 2393]

but, yes, the Auditor General himself has been asking for. We are going to ask that question over and over until we get the answers.

Mr. Speaker, I realize my time is getting short but I do want to say that I am a firm believer that if you have a program that is worthwhile that you think is good, then don't hide it. This government is hiding something they obviously think that if they tell the taxpayers and the people of this province about it, that they are going to reject those policies so they are trying to hide them. They are trying to slip things through here. What they can't slip through in the House of Assembly they will slip through in the bunker downstairs and tell their backbenchers about it later. That is what is going to happen here.

Mr. Speaker, I am going to conclude my remarks by saying how can you have any trust or faith in a provincial Tory Government that is setting out to overtly politicize and ultimately destroy the health care system of this province, while at the same time, Prince John and the Sheriff of Nottingham are allowing criminals to smuggle tobacco into this province and making it easy for them. Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you. That concludes Opposition Business this afternoon and I recognize the honourable the Government House Leader.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I move that the House do now rise to meet again on the morrow at the hour of 12:00 noon and sit until 8:00 p.m. Following Question Period the order of business will be the vote on Bill No. 30 and then we will proceed to Second Reading of Bill No. 20. I should pass on to the honourable members that the bill after Bill No. 20, just for the record, will be Bill No. 25. (Interruptions) Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is that the House do now adjourn.

Is it agreed?

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

The motion is carried.

[6:00 p.m.]

[We have reached the moment of interruption, and as I indicated earlier there was a draw for a debate on the adjournment motion. The draw was won by the honourable member for Kings North who wishes to debate the matter:

[Page 2394]

"Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House support the need for greater numbers of female legislators in this House and do what they can to encourage that participation."]

ADJOURNMENT

MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings North.

HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY - LEGISLATORS:

FEMALE - NUMBERS INCREASE

MR. MARK PARENT: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise and speak to the resolution, Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House support the need for greater numbers of female legislators in this House and do what they can to encourage that participation. I was reading the latest issue of Policy Alternatives, which did a study on Canadian Legislatures across the country and concluded that this Legislature was the least democratic. Dean Robb, in an article, managed to point out some of the inconsistencies and errors in that particular article, but there was one category in which, unfortunately, they were accurate, and that was on the lack of female legislators in this particular Legislature.

Why is this a problem? It is a problem for several reasons. First of all, of course, is just the sheer percentages, the sheer numbers. Women comprise over 50 per cent of the population of this province, and yet they occupy less than 10 per cent of the seats in this House. It is a troubling statistic. Nationally, for example, 20 per cent of the seats in the House of Commons are occupied by women. Let me give you some of the other provinces, just for comparison: in Alberta, 26.8 per cent; in British Columbia, the statistic is 29.3 per cent; in Manitoba, 22.8 per cent; in New Brunswick, 18.9 per cent; in Newfoundland, 16.7 per cent; in Ontario, 17.6 per cent; in Prince Edward Island, 11.5 per cent; in Quebec, 23.2 per cent; in Saskatchewan, 22.4 per cent; in the Yukon, 23.5 per cent. None of these are very exciting statistics in light of the statistics of the genders, male and female, with females outnumbering males across Canada.

The most troubling statistic of all, of course, is the one for the Province of Nova Scotia, for this Legislature, 9.8 per cent. We rank dead last in this category, a very dubious honour, I would say, indeed. I think it is a problem simply because representation is what this House is all about. When over 50 per cent of the population of this province is represented by 10 per cent of the legislators, it is something that we need to worry about. Not that, of course, male legislators can't represent their constituents as well as female legislators, I am just talking about the sheer percentages.

[Page 2395]

There is a more critical issue, I think, behind why I feel, at least, it is a problem, and why we need to do more to help encourage greater participation of women within the political process as a whole, and particularly running for office as Members of the Legislative Assembly. That is because I think the fact that we have such an abysmal percentage of women who sit as legislators - we have wonderful ones who do sit, I want to say that, on presently two Parties, the Official Opposition and the governing Party, at the present time, but because of the fact that the numbers are skewed so badly, I think there is a concern I have that the insights and perspectives of women are being ignored, and yet these perspectives are of crucial importance.

I believe they are of crucial importance, particularly in a day and age when it has become apparent to many people that the Canadian parliamentary system has to evolve, has to change. This is being called for at both the federal and provincial levels. It is no secret. One of the planks of the Alliance Party, that, frankly, I support strongly - Mr. Deputy Speaker, you may be glad to hear this - is their call for reform of Parliament. I may not agree with the ways they want to reform it, and yet I think it is a very important call.

We are hearing it from all circles. We are hearing it from all different walks of life and all different ideological perspectives as well, that the Legislatures, both provincially and federally, need to evolve. I think one of the ways they would evolve is if they had a greater number of female MLAs, female MPPs in Ontario, female MPs in the case of Ottawa, who would bring the perspective of their background to their work as legislators. This governance is, I think, as I said, one of the main issues that is going to face Canada, how this parliamentary system could evolve to meet changing needs and changing situations.

In fact, Jeffrey Simpson, a respected political observer, in an article in The Globe and Mail, stated that of the four main issues that he saw as being the hot button issues for the next 10 years or so, one of them was governance. So I think the perspective of women can be very, very helpful in governance and I say this as a result of some research I have done and some reading I have done, particularly a fascinating interview that appeared in the February/March issue of the Elm Street magazine, a magazine for women in business, I believe, and it was based upon an interview with three female legislators. Three MPs currently sitting on the government side federally, Jane Stewart, Anne McLellan and Carolyn Bennett with some insights from past legislators such as Kim Campbell and Pat Carney through some of the writing that they have done. It focused basically on the three who were presently sitting in the House of Commons - two of them Cabinet Ministers - and it was very interesting because they brought a different perspective to the political process that I think would help reform and help the parliamentary system evolve in some of the ways, it seems like a vast amount of Canadians are calling for.

I jotted some of these down, just off the top of my head. There are more in the article that I could jot down, but one was an emphasis that they feel that the way women operate is to put more emphasis upon co-operation then on competition. The sort of "one-upmanship"

[Page 2396]

of the blood sport of politics as these legislators said, they find distasteful. This win at all cost mentality. It doesn't fit well according to this article, according to the perspectives of Jane Stewart, Anne McLellan and Carolyn Bennett. It doesn't fit with their perspectives, with their way of operating in life and with the background that they bring to life and the experiences that they have. They find that the sort of chest thumping, macho mentality, they find it silly at best and disconcerting and unproductive at worst.

The second is the sort of honesty rather than theatrics. Reading this article, what became clear is that women aren't afraid of integrating emotions, but the desk pounding, yelling, bursts of anger that are, unfortunately, typical of even this Legislature and then walking outside and laughing about it all, they find this as somehow deceptive, dishonest, not being really true to oneself. A bit of a show, a theatrical show.

The third is - and I know this is somewhat controversial - but the third is the consideration of the other, rather than the predominance of the mentality of what is in it for me and it is controversial in a sense that there have been some feminist writers who have claimed that women think in a different fashion than men. They think in a non-linear fashion and if I could just read one sentence from Carolyn Bennett, one of the MPs from Ottawa, what this means is according to this MP for the Liberal Party federally, is that women make decisions differently. They think of every possible - and here I am using her words, and I will table this - "They think of every possible impact on every possible stakeholder before they come to rest on the best possible decision. They worry about their kids, their mother, their neighbours, their spouse, what might happen a decade from now, as well as every other possible what if?" This sort of perspective of having a broader concern for others rather than just trying to sort of win for oneself or one's riding, I think would be refreshing. Very refreshing for the political system.

A fourth sort of difference that I picked up from the article was the flexibility to change one's mind when presented with new facts and situations. In the typical political world, this is seen as a sign of weakness when, really perhaps, it can be a sign of strength when new facts come out.

These are just some of the reasons why a perspective more representative of women and brought by women - and others, not just women - but why women would be helpful in the political process. How we get them in is a controversial question, I don't have time to discuss that, but that is for another late debate perhaps. So I want to close with just a joke. I am paraphrasing from a former mayor of Ottawa - she was a politician - and she said that women in politics have to work twice as hard as men and be twice as smart and she concluded, fortunately the last part is not too difficult. So, thank you very much, Mr. Speaker, and I am sorry I have to run to a meeting with the Canning Village Commission, but I do assure the other speakers that I will read their comments with great interest.

[Page 2397]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the honourable member for bringing forward the resolution and identifying a problem and the need to do more. I would like to talk more about action in how to address this issue and less about defining the issue and looking at this in the abstract.

Mr. Speaker, I am sure it is no surprise to you and to other members here that this is a topic that I, and certainly the New Democratic Party, have thought about for a long time. There are a number of steps that political Parties have taken to address this problem. I don't know what the Progressive Conservative Party has done in terms of recruiting women to run, to seek nominations, to make sure they run in winnable ridings, give them the financial support to mount campaigns. I am very pleased that the New Democratic Party, since the early 1980's, has had a policy of recruiting and promoting women as candidates, not only in ridings that are marginal but, particularly, to try to find women to run in winnable ridings.

We have, provincially, here in Nova Scotia, a fund that we call the Women in the Legislature fund, the WIL fund and, federally, there is a fund called the Agnes MacPhail fund and contributions are made. Fundraising happens around both of these funds that have been established for more than 20 years now. In election campaigns, money from these funds are disbursed to female candidates to offset some of the costs that they may have that may be particular to them. For example, if they are a single mother and they have child care expenses, or if they are a working mother and they have to leave their employment or they need particular child care expenses or some assistance in doing household duties that they would normally do in the course of family life, these funds are there to ensure that that financial barrier that women often feel is removed.

So I think these are very important and concrete measures that political Parties can take if they have the political will to do more than pay lip service to the promotion of women to seek public office and sit in Legislatures such as this. I am often really puzzled, I guess, about why it took so long for a woman to be elected to this Legislature, Mr. Speaker. Florence Porter, whose picture is over there on the wall, was the first woman to be elected here in Nova Scotia. She was a member of the Progressive Conservative Party and was elected in the mid-1960's. I think if we look at the record and the numbers of women who have served in this Legislature, it is probably less than 20 in the entire history of this House of Assembly, which really is quite a shocking statistic, I suppose, in many ways.

I think that, Mr. Speaker, another thing that we need to do is we need to look at the organization of work. There is a lot of research that demonstrates that the organization of work has a lot to do with the choices people make with respect to their careers and whether or not it is going to be possible to combine family life, for example, with a political career. In this Legislature, as in most Legislatures, but not all, because, certainly, Parliaments now in other parliamentary democracies, like the new House of Assembly that has been just

[Page 2398]

established in Wales, for example, have set regular hours for the business of the Legislature. There is a predictable schedule so that, in fact, you can organize your work life and your family life with some predictability.

This is something that certainly is a measure that women parliamentarians, who have been meeting from time to time through the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, have identified as an organizational or a structural feature that could be adopted in a Legislature to address the problems that women, in particular, who don't like to be away from their families for long periods of time, especially if they have young children, and the importance of tending to the needs of their children and their households, would take into consideration.

[6:15 p.m.]

I know, in speaking to many women in the New Democratic Party, the hours of this Legislature, the unusual hours when we get into extended hours, sitting until midnight, is a concern for many people because they think they need to be home, they need to be helping their children, make sure their school work is done, make sure they have somebody to talk to about how their school day went, and what have you.

I think that if the honourable member was interested - and I would challenge the honourable member who brought forward the motion, since he is a member of the government benches - perhaps he could bring forward a stronger resolution that would have some content in it, some content that would allow for some real structural change, not just an expression of, oh my soul, isn't this a problem. We all know it is a problem. It has been a problem for a long time. Let's stop identifying the problem; let's look at some of the concrete measures that can be taken to address the problem; let's get on with doing something about it; and let's not just sit here and use this time to go over old territory.

I would challenge the honourable member to bring forward, maybe, a resolution that would either bring in some of these concrete measures, like a regular schedule, like family-friendly hours, into the House of Assembly, and in the absence of being able to get support from his colleagues to do that kind of a resolution and have it carried, perhaps he would consider bringing forward a suggestion for a committee that could be established to look at some of these issues, to make Parliament or Legislature more attractive for women.

I think the other issue that the honourable member was driving at, although I am not sure that he spoke of this with any detail, is the culture and the concerns that people, women in particular, might have around the culture. I have to say I read the Elm Street article, due to the courtesy of the honourable Minister of Education, who sent me a copy of the article in case I hadn't seen it. I quite enjoyed reading the article. I didn't entirely agree with everything that was said in that article. I happen to think that women don't necessarily think differently than men. I know Carol Gilligan's work very well, that was being referred to in the article. She has been well critiqued and found to have a lot of flaws in her arguments.

[Page 2399]

Mr. Speaker, I certainly would be very happy to engage in work that would make this Legislature a more diverse place, and a place that reflects the reality of people in this province with respect, not only to women but to other groups, the First Nations community, people with disabilities, and certainly people from the African-Nova Scotia community and newcomers to our country. I think we will only be stronger for that, if we reflect the very diverse nature of our society. Thank you.

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

MR. WAYNE GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to rise and speak on this resolution. Women around the world are becoming more involved in the political process now than they have ever been. Looking around the globe, for your information, one of the countries with the highest percentage of female parliamentarians is Sweden. In 1998, 149 women were elected and that represents roughly 42.2 per cent. At the same time, we have to look at one of the countries with the lowest percentage of women in politics and that country is France. In 1997, 63 women were elected and that represents a 10.9 per cent representation.

Closer to home, how did Canada and the United States compare? Canada, in 1997, 60 women were elected for a 20 per cent representation. In the United States, in 1998, 58 women were elected for a 13.3 per cent representation. For the record, in Canada, Kim Campbell became Canada's first Prime Minister after winning the federal PC Party leadership back in June 1993. Ellen Fairclough was MP for Hamilton West and was the first woman appointed to a federal Cabinet post, by the Prime Minister then, John Diefenbaker. That goes back to not that many years ago, 1957. Premier Catherine Callbeck was the first woman to lead a political Party to an electoral victory in March 1993 and that was in Prince Edward Island. Here in Nova Scotia, Her Honour Myra Freeman was appointed Nova Scotia's first female Lieutenant Governor last year. Again, that was a first.

So looking at this historical Chamber, Mr. Speaker, I want to look specifically at the last two provincial elections here in Nova Scotia. In the 1998 provincial election, 30 women candidates ran in that election and, looking at the last provincial election in June 1999, an increased number of women ran in that election; 46 women candidates ran in that election: 19 women ran for the New Democratic Party, 13 women ran for the Liberal Party, 7 women ran for the Tories, 7 women ran for the Nova Scotia Party and 1 woman ran as an independent candidate. I hope and I am sure all of us hope that in the next provincial election, whenever that takes place, that more women candidates will decide to run.

Mr. Speaker, this resolution has particular significance to the Liberal Party. Since the last election, we have been without a female representative in our ranks. That is for the first time since 1988. That may have had more to do with the political reality of the last election than to do with gender. In the last provincial election, we ran the largest number of female candidates in our Party's history. Although we were obviously not happy with the overall

[Page 2400]

results, I think there are some important things to look at. In 1993, we had eight female candidates that ran for us. By 1999, however, that number had grown to 13. After we were elected in 1993, our government saw 50 per cent of the female government members appointed to Cabinet. However, I look forward to the days where the firsts are no longer as noticeable.

Today, Mr. Speaker, we have our first female Education Minister and that is the way it should be. So the history of women in politics is not a great one in Nova Scotia. We were far from the first province to grant women the vote, not until 1918. Our first female MLA was not elected until 1960 and her picture is on the wall right behind me, Gladys Porter. Gladys Porter's election to this House did not come until 39 years after Agnes MacPhail was elected as the first female MP to the House of Commons in Ottawa. It was not until the 1980s that Nova Scotia had its first female Cabinet Minister. So there have been many challenges for Nova Scotian women to overcome to become involved in politics and there remain still many challenges today.

So what is the Liberal Party doing to help overcome those challenges? Our Party organized a campaign college at the national level called Winning Women, and that is designed by and for women who want to get involved either as a candidate or as an organizer. We have funds raised specifically for women candidates, federally, like the other Parties do. Ours is called the Judy LaMarsh Fund. Provincially, we have the Cecilia MacDonald Fund designed to assist female Liberal candidates. I know at the provincial Party level our Party has incredible gender equity at the constituency executive level. Our Party usually has a 50-50 split between men and women as to who makes up our constituency presidents throughout the 52 provincial ridings.

Other challenges speak more to society at large, and remain beyond what a political Party can do, but that doesn't mean that they are not worth pursuing. For example, many of the challenges that women considering politics face are not dissimilar as ones faced by women in the workplace. The same challenges exist, such as child care. I think we have to stop here. Does raising children have to be the domain of women and, if so, does that mean you put off your career, political or otherwise, until the kids are grown? Not anymore, and that is a positive thing. We have seen at the federal level, since the 1980's, women seeing that a career in politics does not necessarily mean that you have to wait to start a family or to grow a family.

Another challenge still faced by women in politics is unequal treatment of female and male politicians by the media. According to author Sydney Sharp in her book, The Gilded Ghetto, "media coverage of the first federal female Cabinet Minister, Ellen Fairclough, was mostly concerned with her hats" Hats, has that changed? Well, the article referenced by the honourable member for Kings North would suggest not. The article by Susan Delacourt refers to the media covering the federal Justice Minister's voice and appearance. So, would a male member of Parliament be subjected to a similar scrutiny? Probably not.

[Page 2401]

In closing I want to thank the honourable member for Kings North for bringing this resolution to the floor and for bringing forward such an interesting topic. I know that the subject of bringing more youth into the political process has been brought forward recently, as well. Any debate that brings more people and more diversity into the political process is a welcoming thing. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you. I would like to commend all honourable members who did participate in this late show. I found it very interesting and informative. That does conclude our time for this late show.

[The House rose at 6:29 p.m.]

[Page 2402]

NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3)

RESOLUTION NO. 859

By: Mr. James DeWolfe (Pictou East)

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

Whereas Thorburn and District Minor Hockey Association handed out their annual awards to players from all divisions; and

Whereas trophies were awarded for sportsmanship, most improved, dedication, team spirit and most valuable player; and

Whereas boys and girls from each division shared these awards, along with Brandon MacDonald who was named coach of the year for his work with the novice team;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate the boys and girls of the Thorburn and District Minor Hockey Association for their participation, effort and team play, and thank all the coaches who donate so much time and energy to ensure children can play a sport they love.

RESOLUTION NO. 860

By: Mr. James DeWolfe (Pictou East)

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

Whereas for both adults and youth under the Correctional Services probations program, getting their feet firmly planted can be a hard and lonely task; and

Whereas in Westville, volunteers show they care by lending a friendly ear and some practical help to those trying to get things straight; and

Whereas these volunteers also provide support with counselling and finding jobs and help clients meet their particular needs as they take each new path;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House commend the Westville volunteers for working with Correctional Services and for bringing hope, encouragement and confidence to people trying to mend past mistakes.

[Page 2403]

RESOLUTION NO. 861

By: Mr. Mark Parent (Kings North)

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

Whereas Ms. Phyllis Sweet recently completed her last day as coordinator of the Red Door, a teens' health and counselling centre located in Kentville; and

Whereas Ms. Phyllis Sweet began her nursing career over 40 years ago; and

Whereas over those years Phyllis has contributed to the health of Nova Scotians both physically through her nursing schools and emotionally through her warm, caring personality;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly recognize Phyllis Sweet for her compassion and commitment and wish her all the best in her retirement.

RESOLUTION NO. 862

By: Mr. James DeWolfe (Pictou East)

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

Whereas students of the NSCC Pictou Campus enjoy the opportunity to demonstrate their talents and abilities; and

Whereas the New Glasgow Rotary Club, Summer Street Industries, and the cooking and hospitality programs of the Pictou Campus have hosted the Food and Hospitality Showcase to provide students from the cooking and hospitality programs just that opportunity; and

Whereas the gala, a five course meal with local entertainment and a silent auction, is also an opportunity to raise funds for these three groups;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House congratulate the organizers and participants of the Food and Hospitality Showcase on their successful evening and thank them for their efforts in encouraging students and providing a venue for their talents and skills.

[Page 2404]

RESOLUTION NO. 863

By: Hon. Michael Baker (Minister of Justice)

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

Whereas the Order of Canada is the highest recognition bestowed upon Canadians; and

Whereas it symbolizes lifetime achievement and outstanding contribution to Canadian society; and

Whereas in a ceremony that took place in Ottawa on February 28th, Mr. George Bain of Mahone Bay, political writer and former Director of the School of Journalism at King's College, was named an Officer of the Order of Canada for his distinguished career in journalism;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House offer our congratulations, admiration and respect to Mr. Bain for having his achievements in writing so honourably recognized, and for continuing to be a role model for aspiring journalists in Nova Scotia and nationwide.

RESOLUTION NO. 864

By: Hon. James Muir (Minister of Health)

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

Whereas Truro's AM radio station CKCL signed off at 7:05 a.m. on April 27, 2001, after 54 years and seven months of continuous broadcasting to central Nova Scotia; and

Whereas during those years CKCL provided exemplary news, local information and entertainment to area residents and, in addition, supported many community activities; and

Whereas CKCL has been replaced by a state of the art FM station which can be found at 99.5 and will be known as CAT Country;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate and thank CKCL for earning an important place in the history of Colchester County and wish its successor, 99.5 FM CAT Country, every success as it broadcasts its state of the art stereo signal to an expanded geographical area.