Assemblée Législative de la Nouvelle-Écosse

Les travaux de la Chambre ont repris le
21 septembre 2017

Hansard -- Mon., May 7, 2001

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HALIFAX, MONDAY, MAY 7, 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. We will begin the daily routine.

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Community Services.

HON. PETER CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased today to announce the government's plans to enhance and expand services to young children with developmental disabilities. New and expanded early intervention programs will mean better access in rural areas where the services have been limited.

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Mr. Speaker, this government is committed to rural Nova Scotia and delivering services closer to home. Children will benefit from family service plans developed with community-based professionals. Furthermore, we are committed to helping children reach their full potential. This is a responsibility this government shares with every parent in Nova Scotia. These new and expanded early intervention programs are another way we ensure our children are growing up well.

Mr. Speaker, this government is committed to the children of Nova Scotia and today's announcement of the expansion of early intervention programs is another item on our children's agenda. It follows our announcement last month of the blending of children's mental health services and we are not finished yet, not by any means. Soon I will be announcing our plans for Early Childhood Development, stemming from an agreement that was developed and signed during my term as Co-Chairman of the federal-provincial Social Services Committee.

Mr. Speaker, the Inverness-Richmond Early Intervention Program has been operating since January 2001 and four other programs will be expanded soon. The rest of Cape Breton Island will be covered by an expansion of the existing Allkids Early Intervention Program operating currently from Glace Bay. Digby County will be covered by an expansion of the EIP de Clare. The Colchester County Early Intervention Program and the Sackville-Bedford program have both been expanded to provide service to parts of east and west Hants County. The Eastern Shore area of Halifax County will be covered by a new program being established under the auspices of the women's centre, LEA Place, in Sheet Harbour.

Mr. Speaker, there are currently 16 early intervention programs serving approximately 375 children across the province. Early intervention programs serve children with developmental disabilities from birth to five years of age. These programs have a primary home visit component with a goal of assisting children to develop their full potential within the family and community context. The early intervention home visitors develop comprehensive family service plans, working closely with families in consultation with the child's medical and community-based professionals.

Mr. Speaker, early intervention groups going to the home is a major plus for these families. In rural areas, travelling to programs can be a huge task for parents of special needs kids. When getting to an appointment means bundling up one or more children, arranging transportation and working around everyday chores such as meal preparation and laundry, parents feel defeated before they start. By coming into the home, early intervention brings the program to the family.

Early intervention assists the children and family in the transitions of child care and formal schooling, providing support and information to enhance the development of appropriate programs and associated educational plans. Early interventionists also organize

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parents and children's play groups and develop opportunities for families to network and acquire information.

The Department of Community Services provides grants to support these programs, develop policies, standards and procedures, and assist community groups in starting local programs on their own. We are spending $450,000 on new staff to service previously unserviced areas of Nova Scotia. In addition, $485,000 has been identified to expand existing programs and services where demands have increased. Total new spending in 2000-01 is $935,000. Total spending on all 16 early intervention programs across the province is $1.9 million. With these programs and our other initiatives on our children's agenda you will hear about in the coming days, we will be able to watch our children grow up great. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

MR. JERRY PYE: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the minister for his announcement today. It is quite clear the minister has been talking to stakeholders out there in the community with respect to young children with developmental disabilities. It is quite clear the minister has heard their call and during the period of time I have been in this Legislature, with respect to my Party, our call, coming across this Legislative Chamber, with respect to putting additional monies into early child intervention programs particularly for children with disabilities from ages 0 to 5. I would hope the minister would have extended that beyond a couple more years but I can understand why that has happened.

Singly and most importantly is the addition of $935,000 of new money - the minister has said this is new money - shared both by this department and by the federal government of Canada. It is under the federal initiative program that this is coming forward and, Mr. Speaker, I want you to know that we, on this particular side of the table, once again have continued that battle on behalf of those children with disabilities and we have carried on that battle on behalf of the organizations with respect to early childhood intervention programs.

The single most important thing about this is that now families no longer have to travel those 80 to 90 kilometres, to go to an early intervention childhood facility, they now have early childhood interventionists coming to their homes and this is a huge step for rural communities. This is a step that now allows one on one, with the interventionist and the family, to carry out a program that is going to be beneficial to that child.

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the minister for this good news day but I also want him to know that we will be watching this unfold as it should and hope that the minister has, within his department, an assessment sheet so that he can do the evaluations as this process unfolds over the next year and comes back with a report to this Legislature on just how successful that program is and how successful we can be in introducing new ventures, should they be required in the future years. It is great, excellent, thank you, very much. (Applause)

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

MR. DAVID WILSON: Mr. Speaker, I thank the honourable minister for this announcement today and indeed all Nova Scotians who experience pervasive development disorder, or those who work with them, will know just how important early intervention and assessment is to maximizing a child's potential in life.

This announcement draws together a number of initiatives that are already underway. New spending of $935,000 is already contained in the budget, which this House has passed. That brings early intervention spending to $1.9 million level. The government would obviously like our congratulations for what is simply a re-announcement, as a Ministerial Statement, initiatives they evidently feel don't get enough attention the first time around.

[2:15 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, I cannot imagine anyone among us rising to our feet to protest this announcement, but at the same time no one initiative meets all needs. Increased spending on early intervention will allow the professionals involved to undertake additional action. We think the steps this government is taking in early intervention and assessment could be much more effective if the government wasn't undoing things in other areas. This government's retreat from the Family Violence Prevention Initiative has a particular impact on those with PDDs and families at risk.

Mr. Speaker, increasing intervention programs on Cape Breton Island is welcome and is needed, but when viewed in the context of a budget strategy that forces the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board to cut 53 teachers this year, when it is losing over 100 in coming years due to retirement, we have to ask whether what is given with this announcement will be taken away with other decisions.

Mr. Speaker, it is also troubling to see a government repackage earlier information to call it a new announcement when there are literally hundreds of students and parents in this province who know that their learning disabled child requires additional services to succeed in school and in life. Those who can do, and those who cannot repackage the ongoing and call it new. Our question is, who is best served by this announcement, those in need of early intervention services or a government that is desperate to show it is doing something besides making spending cuts and shoring up a couple of high-profile business supporters?

Mr. Speaker, our Party knows the providers of early intervention services are in the best position to talk about what is effective and what is needed. The spending the minister re-announces today is necessary spending that benefits Nova Scotians. If only the government were not undoing in other areas more than it is doing with these announcements, they might indeed have some progress to announce. (Applause)

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MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Bedford Basin.

MS. MARY ANN MCGRATH: Mr. Speaker, in the east gallery today we have a member of my constituency and my executive association, a small business owner, and a wonderful addition to our community and our province, Mr. Rakesh Koshla. Would you please rise and receive the welcome of the House. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: We certainly welcome our visitors to the gallery today.

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Justice.

RESOLUTION NO. 918

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 RCMP has developed a special program, which is aimed at assisting preteens in dealing with the pressure to experiment with drugs when entering high school; and

Whereas the Lunenburg RCMP is one of the selected detachments throughout the country which is offering Drug Awareness Resistance Training; and

Whereas follow-up statistics indicate that students who have gone through the 17 week program are less likely to experiment with drugs;

Therefore be it resolved that the House of Assembly commends the Royal Canadian Mounted Police on the development of the Drug Awareness Resistance Program as a tool in reducing drug use by our youth.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

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The honourable Premier.

RESOLUTION NO. 919

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

Whereas veterans, loved ones and those who simply wanted to honour Canada's naval and merchant marines gathered yesterday to honour the Second World War sailors, those who returned home and the memories of those who did not; and

Whereas more than 62 years after the battle began, the memories are fresh for veterans who braved the perils of the North Atlantic convoy run; and

Whereas more than 4,200 Canadian sailors, airmen and merchant mariners perished in the campaign to ferry millions of tonnes of equipment, fuel and soldiers to England;

Therefore be it resolved that all members remember those who braved the elements of the harsh waters of the Atlantic and kept the vital sea lanes to Europe open, and who risked life and limb for this great effort which helped to secure our democratic freedoms.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Education.

RESOLUTION NO. 920

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

Whereas Chrissy Costard of West Porters Lake and Vikram Lehki of Bridgewater have been awarded TD Canada Trust Scholarships of $50,000 each, after being selected from among more than 2,900 Canadian students; and

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Whereas Chrissy, a student at Auburn Drive High School, started programs to aid youths in foster care and group homes and established five drop-in programs in rural communities for young people; and

Whereas Vikram set up a small community organization to aid homeless and unemployed teenagers in Jaipur, India, was involved in a dental mission to Haiti, and worked with street kids in Halifax;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate these students for their humanitarian initiatives and wish them well as they receive their awards tomorrow in Ottawa.

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 Natural Resources

RESOLUTION NO. 921

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

Whereas the week of May 6th to May 12th is National Forest Week, a week when all Nova Scotians and Canadians are asked to consider the true value of our forests; and

Whereas forests play a major role in providing a healthy environment, economy and lifestyle for many Nova Scotians, and help support more than 250 species of wildlife; and

Whereas staff of the Department of Natural Resources will be visiting Grade 6 classes throughout the week to talk about the importance of our forests and what we can do to ensure their future;

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Therefore be it resolved that members of this House recognize our forests as a rich and diverse natural resource, and take the time during National Forest Week to think about what this resource means to each and every one of us.

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 responsible for the Emergency Measures Act.

RESOLUTION NO. 922

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

Whereas May 7th to May 13th is Emergency Preparedness Week in Canada; and

Whereas this year's theme is Reducing the Risk: Toward Safer Communities in the 21st Century; and

Whereas this government recognizes the importance of planning ahead and preparing for potential emergencies at all levels - the family, the community, and the province;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House recognize the valuable efforts of all those involved in emergency preparedness and encourage all Nova Scotians to develop an emergency preparedness kit.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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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. 923

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

Whereas May 6th to May 12th is North American Occupational Safety and Health Week, with the theme this year being Prevention is the Cure; and

Whereas it is the goal of the Department of Environment and Labour to increase awareness among all workplace parties of the province's occupational health and safety regulations and responsibilities; and

Whereas the Department of Environment and Labour is kicking off Occupational Safety and Health Week with the distribution of a 16-page supplement in The Daily News promoting effective safety systems, programs and resources to employers and employees across the province;

Therefore be it resolved that we celebrate North American Occupational Safety and Health Week by each making a renewed commitment to workplace health and safety and by acknowledging the role we can each fulfill in making our province the safest and healthiest place in the world to live, work and play.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Education.

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RESOLUTION NO. 924

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

Whereas Lorraine Siebold, who graduated from the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design last month, has prepared hand-stitched cushions which form part of the gift which Lieutenant Governor Myra Freeman will present to the Queen this week; and

Whereas Ms. Siebold's work forms part of a series of four small silver objects and represents all young creative talent fostered by the college; and

Whereas Ms. Siebold leaves for Germany soon to apprentice at the studio of NSCAD alumna, Sabine Mitermayer;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate Ms. Siebold and the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design for this honour and wish Ms. Siebold success in her future endeavours.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries.

RESOLUTION NO. 925

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

Whereas aquaculture is one of the fastest growing agri-food sectors in Canada and in Nova Scotia; and

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Whereas the aquaculture industry has experienced double-digit growth in Nova Scotia each year since 1998 and the farm gate value for the industry during 2000 was $50.5 million, up from $33.8 million in 1999; and

Whereas all of this production was grown in coastal and rural Nova Scotia by highly skilled Nova Scotian workers;

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize the Nova Scotia aquaculture industry as an expanding, sustainable agri-food sector of the Nova Scotia economy and congratulate the participants for their hard work and dedication.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Health.

RESOLUTION NO. 926

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

Whereas May 7th to May 13th is National Nursing Week to recognize the vital role nurses play in the health care system and in the well-being of Nova Scotians; and

Whereas the theme for this year's Nursing Week is, Nurses - Champions for Health, and this province is fortunate to have nurses who are extremely talented and committed to their patients; and

Whereas this government is committed to working with nurses and all representatives of nursing organizations to create a better working environment and to recruit and retain nurses in Nova Scotia so that they may continue to be champions for health;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House acknowledge and appreciate the good work of nurses now during National Nursing Week and every week in Nova Scotia.

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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 Transportation and Public Works.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, with the concurrence of the House, I would ask to return to the order of business, Presenting and Reading Petitions.

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou East.

MR. JAMES DEWOLFE: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table the following petition and it reads as follows:

". . . the enclosed petition signed by 350 people from the communities of the East River Valley (encompassing the communities of Sunny Brae, St. Pauls, Bridgeville, Springville and Churchville). We hope that this will underline the urgency of the need for repair to the roads which are hazardous and impassable."

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition signed by 221 residents of the Province of Nova Scotia, the operative clause of which reads as follows:

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"We the delegates at the 2001 Biennial Convention of the Nova Scotia Government Employees Union call upon the Hamm government to table Bill 20 and refer it to the appropriate legislative committee for full public consultation and review before ever bringing it back for possible approval by the Legislature."

I have affixed my signature.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.

RESOLUTION NO. 927

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

Whereas the Canadian Navy and Merchant Mariners played a principal role in the Battle of the Atlantic during the Second World War; and

Whereas many Canadian seamen and airmen gave their lives to maintain the Atlantic lifeline against the German U-Boat peril; and

Whereas yesterday Canadians gathered at the Halifax Memorial in Point Pleasant Park and in Ottawa to pay homage to the thousands of Canadians who died in the Battle of the Atlantic;

Therefore be it resolved that this House join in solidarity with those Canadians who yesterday gathered to honour those who fell in the terrible Battle of the Atlantic.

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.

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The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

RESOLUTION NO. 928

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

Whereas May 7 to May 13, 2001 marks National Nursing Week throughout Canada; and

Whereas this week marks the time to acknowledge the dedication of nurses in the acute and long-term sectors as well as those working public health and home care; and

Whereas Nova Scotia is very fortunate to have such a high calibre of women and men so committed to their profession;

Therefore be it resolved that all member of this Legislature acknowledge and extend our appreciation to all nurses throughout the province and wish them all the best in the times ahead.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[2:30 p.m.]

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed?

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Sackville-Beaver Bank.

RESOLUTION NO. 929

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

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Whereas on May 12, 2001, Barrett Lumber Company of Beaver Bank will celebrate its 75th Anniversary with a day of activities for customers and area residents; and

Whereas this company produces over five million board feet of lumber per year, as well as building materials, roofing and flooring systems; and

Whereas the Barrett family has served the province well through the development of this business and through involvement in many community organizations;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate the Barrett Lumber Company, owners David, Keith and Hugh Barret, and staff, for its successful 75 years and thank them for their contributions to our community.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed?

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

RESOLUTION NO. 930

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

Whereas nursing is the art of combining skill, education, science and nurturing; and

Whereas nurses in recent years are faced with a changing health care environment and, though these are not easy times, nurses are meeting the challenges head on; and

Whereas May 6th to May 12th marks National Nurses Week, a celebration of the crucial role nurses play in our health care system;

Therefore be it resolved that this House honours nurses on this National Nurses Week for their central role in our health care system and for their commitment to their patients and dedication to ensuring they receive quality care.

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Mr. Speaker, I request wavier of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Leader of the Liberal Party.

RESOLUTION NO. 931

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

Whereas Grace Elizabeth Gosse passed away peacefully in Halifax on May 3, 2001; and

Whereas Grace served as first lady of Nova Scotia while her husband the Hon. Clarence L. Gosse served as Nova Scotia's Lieutenant Governor from 1973-1978; and

Whereas Grace made significant contributions to our province through her involvement in several community and charitable organizations;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of the House of Assembly send our wishes for comfort and support to the family and friends of Grace Elizabeth Gosse.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

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The honourable Minister of Transportation and Public Works.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I don't know if I am going deaf but I am having trouble hearing people and the noise level in the House isn't all that high.

MR. SPEAKER: I am as well. (Interruptions)

The honourable member for Dartmouth South.

RESOLUTION NO. 932

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

Whereas osteoporosis affects one in four women and one in eight men; and

Whereas a specialized x-ray machine called a bone densitometer is helpful in identifying osteoporosis in its early stages and is a way of monitoring the effectiveness of treatment; and

Whereas the Advocacy Committee of the Nova Scotia Osteoporosis Society is promoting bone densitometry as a necessary tool for diagnosis and treatment of osteoporosis;

Therefore be it resolved that this House applaud the efforts of the Advocacy Committee of the Nova Scotia Osteoporosis Society to increase diagnosis and treatment of osteoporosis and encourage it to extend its efforts to include an education program which will suggest lifestyle adjustments for men and women which would lessen the impact of this disease.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Leader of the Opposition on an introduction.

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MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, I would like to introduce to all members of the House the newly re-elected President of the Nova Scotia Government Employees Union, Joan Jessome; and Ken Conrad who was also re-elected this weekend; and Ian Johnston who are here today, and of course to watch the progress of Bill No. 20. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: As always, a welcome to our visitors in the gallery today.

The honourable member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage.

RESOLUTION NO. 933

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

Whereas the Drug Abuse Resistance Education Program, or DARE, provides students with a knowledge base on the effects of drug abuse that go beyond the physical ramifications and extends to emotional, social, and economic aspects of life; and

Whereas DARE builds decision-making and problem-solving skills and strategies to help students make informed decisions and resist drug use, peer pressure, and violence, and provides students with alternatives to drug use; and

Whereas Caldwell Road Elementary School Grade 6 students will celebrate the completion of their 17 week Project DARE Program on June 14th;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate Principal Rob Spicer, Grade 6 teachers Lynn Publicover and Evelyn MacMullen, RCMP Constable Joe Taplin, and all the Grade 6 students at Caldwell Road Elementary School on their innovative Drug Abuse Resistance Education Program.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Lunenburg West.

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RESOLUTION NO. 934

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

Whereas the Mary E. Black Art Gallery has held art exhibitions of artists from Nova Scotia and Atlantic Canada for the past 10 years; and

Whereas the gallery recently extended Ancient Futures: The Art of the Blacksmith at the Third Millennium, an international exhibition of ironworks by 19 blacksmiths from Japan, Germany, the United States and Canada; and

Whereas Laurie Fisher and Christopher C. Huck of Lunenburg are two local artist-blacksmiths who are featured in this exhibition;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House of Assembly congratulate the curator and all of the artists for their contribution to enhancing the cultural sector of Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Pictou East.

RESOLUTION NO. 935

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 Municipality of Pictou has taken the opportunity to thank its many volunteers who serve the county and has awarded some of them for their outstanding efforts; and

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Whereas one such volunteer is Ila MacKenzie, of the Golden Glen Seniors' Club, who is noted for her tireless dedication and effort; and

Whereas Margaret MacDonald, of the Garden of Eden Community Centre, was singled out for demonstrating unyielding energy and enthusiasm;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House thank Ila MacKenzie and Margaret MacDonald for their spirit of volunteerism and congratulate them for their well-deserved awards.

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 Cape Breton Centre.

RESOLUTION NO. 936

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

Whereas the permanent closure of the mail sorting station in North Sydney has been announced; and

Whereas federal Liberals and provincial Tories assured those postal employees and all North Sydney residents that jobs and services would be secure if the area had government members;

Therefore be it resolved that the closure of the North Sydney mail sorting station is another reminder that Liberal and Conservative Governments will promise anything but deliver next to nothing if voters are lured into electing one more backbencher.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Richmond.

RESOLUTION NO. 937

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

Whereas this government recently announced their intention to build a new $6.5 million justice centre in Inverness County to replace the Port Hawkesbury court facility; and

Whereas this new 3,500 square metre centre is expected to be completed by 2003 and will have an extremely positive impact on the community; and

Whereas the government states that it expects continued growth over the next number of years in Richmond and Inverness Counties due mainly to offshore exploration and development;

Therefore be it resolved that with the growth this government expects in these counties over the next number of years, they recognize the need to plan for similar increases in other areas such as health and education as they apparently have for corrections and court services.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

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RESOLUTION NO. 938

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

Whereas the Tory Government is refusing to relocate families from Whitney Pier, a Sydney neighbourhood contaminated by toxins; and

Whereas environmental activist Elizabeth May began a hunger strike in Ottawa on Wednesday, May 2nd, to bring attention to this deplorable situation; and

Whereas Ms. May was joined in the protest by grassroots environmentalist Don Deleskie, who is on a hunger strike in Sydney;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House commend Elizabeth May and Don Deleski for their determination to help those living in the contaminated area of Whitney Pier gain a plan of action for relocation of their residents.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton The Lakes.

RESOLUTION NO. 939

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

Whereas the week of May 6th to May 12th is Occupational Health and Safety Week; and

Whereas the theme of this year's OHS Week is, worker's safety is everyone's responsibility; and

Whereas working Nova Scotians know the importance of worker and management vigilance to ensure safe workplaces;

[Page 2665]

Therefore be it resolved that all Nova Scotians take renewed interest in promoting and maintaining safe and reliable workplaces during Occupational Health and Safety Week.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Kings North.

RESOLUTION NO. 940

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

Whereas since 1933, the Annapolis Valley Apple Blossom Festival has been introducing tourists to the beauty of the Annapolis Valley; and

Whereas Canada Post has issued a stamp to commemorate the Annapolis Valley Apple Blossom Festival as 1 of 10 stamps commemorating tourist attractions in Canada; and

Whereas the official presentation of the stamp by Canada Post will be made May 30th at the opening of the festival in Annapolis Royal;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Claude O'Hara, President of the Annapolis Valley Apple Blossom Festival, and the rest of his team on the announcement of the commemorative stamp and wish them every success with this year's festival.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

[Page 2666]

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.

RESOLUTION NO. 941

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

Whereas the Nova Scotia School Athletic Federation held badminton finals in Truro on Friday, April 27th; and

Whereas the new senior champions are from Queen Elizabeth High School, taking over the title from the Cobequid Educational Centre Cougars; and

Whereas the new junior champions are from Pugwash and the intermediate champions are from Astral Drive;

Therefore be it resolved that all participants in the Nova Scotia School Athletic Federation Badminton Championships be congratulated on a successful tournament.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Richmond.

RESOLUTION NO. 942

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

[Page 2667]

Whereas the Nova Scotia Student Advocacy Coalition is a student group committed to building bridges and not barriers to post-secondary education; and

Whereas the group says that over the past 10 years tuition fees have risen over 125 per cent; and

Whereas the group also says students at post-secondary institutions in Nova Scotia pay on average the highest tuition fees in Canada;

Therefore be it resolved that this government listen to the request of the Nova Scotia Student Advocacy Coalition, which is calling for more government grants and bursaries, an increase of student representation on the Board of Governors of our universities, and the implementation of a new policy regarding default designation of post-secondary institutions.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Pictou West.

RESOLUTION NO. 943

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

Whereas Ian Campbell is doing what many only dream to do; and

Whereas this 61 year old Pictou resident is part of a Hollywood film being shot in Halifax and has a prominent background role as a Russian admiral in K-19; The Widow Maker; and

Whereas Mr. Campbell is no one-time wonder, with four movie credits and a résumé including the Atlantic Fringe Festival, the television series Black Harbour, as well as a couple of made-for-television movies;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House applaud Ian Campbell for venturing into this exciting business and watch for him in this upcoming film.

[Page 2668]

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect.

RESOLUTION NO. 944

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

Whereas local residents in the Prospect area have, for years, campaigned to have the Prospect High Head protected from development; and

Whereas this unique piece of Nova Scotia coastline is treasured by all who have seen its beauty; and

Whereas Sam Rogers, Sue Brown and John Charles have relentlessly pursued the community goal of protecting the Prospect High Head;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly thank and congratulate John Charles, Sue Brown, Sam Rogers and all involved in the protection of the Prospect High Head.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

[Page 2669]

The honourable member for Cape Breton The Lakes.

RESOLUTION NO. 945

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

Whereas Ian MacNeil and Keith Martell of Cape Breton built a residential generator as a project of a course at the Nova Scotia Community College Marconi Campus; and

[2:45 p.m.]

Whereas the students were enrolled in NSCC's mechanical technician class; and

Whereas Nova Scotia Power will use the model generator in trade shows and for other demonstration purposes;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly congratulate Ian MacNeil and Keith Martell of Marconi Campus for their creativity and success in building this model generator.

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. 946

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

Whereas Nova Scotia has the fourth largest Girl Guide membership in Canada which includes 2,300 women and 9,930 girls; and

[Page 2670]

Whereas Margaret Galbraith, a resident of Bedford, has been a volunteer with Girl Guides of Canada for the past 18 years; and

Whereas on Saturday, May 5, 2001, Margaret Galbraith was appointed as the Provincial Commissioner, Girl Guides of Canada, Nova Scotia Council;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House extend their congratulations to Margaret Galbraith on this appointment and thank her for her countless hours as a volunteer to this organization.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Hants East.

RESOLUTION NO. 947

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

Whereas the Eastern Shore Forest Watch Association held a Wake in the Woods on Sunday, May 6th in Musquodoboit; and

Whereas this event was held to voice concerns about clear-cutting and to enhance public awareness to the massive amount of clear-cutting in the proposed Ship Harbour-Long Lake wilderness area; and

Whereas according to the National Forestry Database Program, 98.9 per cent of forestry in Nova Scotia is done by clear-cutting with no regulations for forest cutting on private lands;

Therefore be it resolved that the minister introduce a plan of action immediately to curtail the practice of clear-cutting and protect Nova Scotia's public lands from untold damage to wildlife, forests, rivers, recreation, tourism and future generations.

[Page 2671]

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

RESOLUTION NO. 948

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

Whereas the profession of nursing is at a crossroads in this province; and

Whereas the issues facing the nursing profession today include better working conditions as well as better wages; and

Whereas the handling of these issues will ultimately determine whether Nova Scotia will be able to recruit and retain nurses in light of intense global competition;

Therefore be it resolved that this government recognize the nursing profession as a valued member of the health care team and handle future negotiations with all of these issues at the forefront of their deliberations.

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 Chebucto.

[Page 2672]

RESOLUTION NO. 949

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

Whereas skilled labourers are leaving in droves for the greener pastures of Ontario and Alberta; and

Whereas Atlantic Canada has experienced a net loss of immigration compared to other provinces; and

Whereas thousands of vacancies exist for tradespeople and there are not enough people to fill the positions;

Therefore be it resolved that the Hamm Government be more aggressive and create more incentives to encourage the migration of skilled workers to our province.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

RESOLUTION NO. 950

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

Whereas May 7th to May 13th will see the first annual Family Caregivers Week throughout the province; and

Whereas events organized will help recognize and celebrate the contributions caregivers are making to their families and to society; and

Whereas the main event will see the Family Caregivers Association of Nova Scotia host a Caregivers Luncheon on Wednesday, May 9th, bringing together policy makers, health organizations, special interest groups and media to pay tribute to caregivers;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize and pay tribute to those who are making tremendous sacrifices daily to provide care at home for their loved ones, friends and neighbours.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 2673]

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Natural Resources.

RESOLUTION NO. 951

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

Whereas Rotary Clubs around the world work to make their communities a better place for all who live there, particularly those of less fortunate means; and

Whereas with so many personal, corporate, and social pressures on individuals in society today, it is wonderful to not only find dedicated volunteers but to be able to benefit from their steadfast support and commitment; and

Whereas so many people are touched by the efforts of dedicated Rotarians who, over the duration of their involvement with the Rotary Club, contribute their time and personal resources toward the mission of their organization;

Therefore be it resolved the House recognize two individuals who were recently honoured by the Amherst Rotary Club: Bob Janes, for his work with Camp Tidnish; and Bill Hopper for his many years of volunteer community work.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

[Page 2674]

The honourable member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage.

RESOLUTION NO. 952

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

Whereas Canadian Parents for French (CPF) is a national network of volunteers which promotes opportunities to enhance bilingualism; and

Whereas CPF members advocate an increase of French-second-language instruction in schools; and

Whereas eight French immersion students from the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board were awarded medals as part of the 2001 Concours d'art Oratoire;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House congratulate the eight students from the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board who took home honours in the 2001 Concourse d'art Oratoire.

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. 953

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

Whereas North American Occupational Safety and Health Week, or NAOSH, is celebrated this year from May 6th to 12th; and

Whereas the theme for this year's NAOSH Week is Prevention is the Cure; and

[Page 2675]

Whereas this is an excellent opportunity to reinforce and strengthen commitment to occupational health and safety in the workplace by increasing public safety awareness;

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize North American Safety and Health Week and join in the efforts to promote occupational health and safety awareness in the workplace.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

RESOLUTION NO. 954

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 Conservatives campaigned long and hard against the unfair BST, and in particular against any agreement that would prevent them from giving Nova Scotians a tax break; and

Whereas it had been a point of pride that they would give the required 18 months notice to replace the BST deal with a fairer arrangement; and

Whereas Prince Edward Islanders now enjoy lower taxes on such essentials as shoes, clothing and gasoline, while the Hamm Government uses the BST deal as an excuse for its own unfair taxes;

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier should take the long-promised step of giving notice that Nova Scotia will withdraw from the unfair Liberal BST deal and replace it with a fairer, simpler tax that benefits low-and middle-income Nova Scotians.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 2676]

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

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect.

RESOLUTION NO. 955

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

Whereas tourism plays a vital role in the economy of all regions of this province; and

Whereas the Lighthouse Route is a highly promoted tourism highway in this province; and

Whereas the Lighthouse Route stretches from along the South Shore of this province, including Highway No. 333 from Goodwood to Upper Tantallon;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Tourism explain to Nova Scotians and Nova Scotia tourism operators along the Lighthouse Route why the roads to these wonderful destinations are in such dreadful condition.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Hants East.

RESOLUTION NO. 956

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

Whereas the goal of the World Vision Organization is to improve the quality of life of people in the Third World; and

Whereas 77 of the Grade 9 students of Hants East Rural High participated in the World Vision 30-Hour Famine; and

Whereas the group and their teacher, Gerald Parker, raised over $2,000 towards the World Vision Organization;

[Page 2677]

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House commend the students of Hants East Rural High on raising over $2,000 for the World Vision Organization.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

RESOLUTION NO. 957

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

Whereas Nova Scotians move far and wide to find work; and

Whereas Myrna Segboer, a former Collingwood resident, moved to Raymond, Alberta in 1968 and invested time and energy in her community; and

Whereas Myrna Segboer volunteers in several different organizations in Raymond, Alberta, including the Agricultural Society, the local hospital and the police and fire departments;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate Collingwood native, Myrna Segboer, on receiving the Female Citizen of the Year award in Raymond, Alberta.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

[Page 2678]

The motion is carried.

GOVERNMENT BUSINESS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

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

PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 20.

Bill No. 20 - Government Restructuring (2001) Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Lunenburg West has the floor. According to my count, he has 33 minutes left. I would just remind the honourable member that he is debating the issue of the amendment, which was moved by the Opposition Leader.

"The subject matter of Bill No. 20, the Government Restructuring (2001) Act, be referred to the Standing Committee on Human Resources."

The honourable member for Lunenburg West.

MR. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak again today on the issue of Bill No. 20 and our recommendation, on this side of the House, that this bill be presented to the Human Resources Committee for review and analysis and to have a sense of what is really going on. The members here today realize that it is not just this side of the House that is concerned about Bill No. 20 and its impact on Nova Scotians, but as we have seen in this Legislature on Friday afternoon, parents, mothers and fathers and individuals who work in government throughout the Province of Nova Scotia and others who were here on Friday, expressing their concern, their frustration, their outrage to this government - a government that indicated to them that they would be, in fact, a government that would listen to the concerns of all Nova Scotians, a government that said trust us. We are the government that will consult with you, the workers of Nova Scotia; you, the government employees of Nova Scotia; you, the union leaders of Nova Scotia. We will consult. We will involve you in a process and we will come forward with legislation that is fair and just for the workers and for the public of Nova Scotia.

[Page 2679]

Well, I dare say, the individuals that showed up in this Legislature on Friday were not what you would call very happy about what they sensed this government was all about. They were not happy with what this government was saying and preparing to do with this bill. They were using their democratic right to come here and express to this front bench and to the backbench their frustrations about this bill. A letter that was sent out by NSGEU on May 4th to the Premier saying that, ". . . members are very upset that your government would attempt to pass such a broad and all-encompassing piece of legislation without any attempt to inform or consult with the very people who deliver the programs and services covered by the Bill."

Shame on this government for not even allowing the people who are going to be directly affected by this the pleasure and the opportunity and the right to be consulted prior to this bill coming forward. This is being sent out by not a small group of individuals, this is the largest single union in the Province of Nova Scotia, a union that represents 21,000 individuals, public sector employees.

[3:00 p.m.]

They also go on to say what our members would like to see is that this bill immediately be referred to an appropriate legislative committee, either the Committee on Human Resources or the Law Amendment Committee. The bottom line, they are requesting that this bill go back for review. That is very much what we talked about earlier last week and what we had recommended, an amendment to refer this bill to the Human Resources Committee for consideration, for consultation, for education and involvement of the people affected by this.

It smacks in the face of the old Buchanan approach to government. What is it? Do unto others as they do unto you but do it first. This government wants to do it first to the workers of Nova Scotia, whether they like it or not. I think that is wrong. I think what they need to do, and should have done in the first place, is consulted prior to this bill being brought into the Legislature. They should have consulted on this bill that is on the table of the Legislature today. If they had done their homework properly, if they had involved the public properly, if they had consulted properly, then we probably wouldn't be spending any time debating this bill. This bill would probably just swoosh through the House if the public had been consulted, Mr. Speaker.

The fact that it wasn't consulted to the degree it should have been, that is why the unions and that is why members on this side of the House are requesting this government to revert this bill back for public consultation and involvement through a committee structure, the Human Resources Committee in particular. That is why I am standing here today, to ask this government, to plead with this government to give due consideration for this very straightforward and very fair request.

[Page 2680]

I note that members of the front bench are very busy, as always, as all ministers are very busy, but I know that they are listening and working at the same time, it comes with having a big workload, I have learned how to do it myself. I do know they are paying attention here and I know they are understanding what I am saying. But the problem is that the union and the government employees are telling you they want to be consulted; they are saying that they have a sense of not wanting to trust, because they feel the government has not trusted them. The government has sent a signal that they did not trust the employees to the extent that they could have and should have so that this involvement of discussion wouldn't need to be taking place.

One could go back and be somewhat cynical of the old Buchanan days when there was a nudge, nudge, wink, wink and who you were is who you got a job with, the days of every committee that had ever been struck was only going to be one breed of individual. I could go back and talk about that. I hope that this government and this Premier are beyond that. I believe that the Premier stood many times in front of Nova Scotians saying he will move away from that old era of the Buchanan approach. Well, not only the workers of this province are concerned about what this bill really means and whether or not privatization is the way this government is going, but members of this House are concerned that maybe they are setting up structures within government that are allowing OICs to be the order of the day, so that they, in turn, through the Orders in Council, OIC (Interruption) They are asking me questions, Mr. Speaker, and I know they have a lot to learn and I don't mind answering those questions.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. We will save that for tomorrow for Question Period.

MR. DOWNE: They made me lose my train of thought. I will have to start all over again, Mr. Speaker, with some parts of it. The reality is that working Nova Scotians who are concerned about Bill No. 20, 21,000 government employees have said to this government, you did not consult with us when we have asked; you have not shown us your road map or blueprint in regard to job security in the Province of Nova Scotia; you have not laid out before us what our future could be in this new round of restructuring. They are concerned, they are frustrated, they are worried. They find it hard to trust a group who will not even entrust them in the involvement of the decision-making process.

Members on this side of the House are expressing those concerns in this Legislature. But we, too, Mr. Speaker, have some legitimate concerns. Those legitimate concerns are the fact that this government, through this bill, will be able to make all sorts of decisions through Orders in Council. They will be able to set up Crown Corporations and have advisory groups to Crown Corporations set up by OICs, for which remuneration of those individuals will be done through regulation in OIC. The chairman will be chosen by an OIC, not a human resources process that we are recommending, not a process where transparency and openness that this government said it was going to do would be there. Instead, back on the main floor where Cabinet meets is where the Cabinet decisions will be made and those Cabinet

[Page 2681]

decisions will be OIC appointments; back to the appointments of the good old boys within the Progressive Conservative Party.

I remember the old days a little bit - as members on the backbench are looking at me because they remember the old days - when hotels were bought by individuals who happened to live near Richmond County, former members who were down in the Richmond area, they bought a hotel. The government backstopped that hotel. That hotel went broke so that individual member sold it to a brother. The government bankrolled that one. After that one went broke, the government picked it up and sold it, I think, to . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I would remind the honourable member for Lunenburg West that he is to be speaking to the motion that this bill be sent on to the Human Resources Committee. I would ask him to bring his comments back to the amendment motion, please.

MR. DOWNE: When I talk about those points, and thank you, Mr. Speaker, that is exactly why we are saying it should go to Human Resources, so we do not have circumstances like that happening again in this province where taxpayers' dollars were used to help an individual for whatever, and having flipped over two or three times, like toilet seats or roads. Those kinds of things. That is why, going back to the committee - and my colleagues across the way know what I am saying. You remember those days - toilet seats. I see a couple of front benchers who were there and maybe thought they were great. The Minister of Finance maybe thought that was a great invention and government taxpayers' dollars should go into those toilet seats, and how they whip the paper around the top by an electric motor in the back, and things of that nature. Probably those prototypes are sold for a small fortune at different political rallies. That is the type of thing that should be discussed.

AN HON. MEMBER: Well, we flushed it out.

MR. DOWNE: Yes, we flushed it out is right, in roads to nowhere. This particular bill being able to be brought to the Human Resources Committee for consideration is key because all those points would be able to be brought forward and discussed with the general public. The civil servants in this province would then be able to feel comfortable to be able to poise some questions and have their concerns answered so that they, in turn - the productive, caring individuals who are working for government - would continue to be able to work without the added stress that this government is now prepared to give them by implementing Bill No. 20.

We are appealing to their conscience, Mr. Speaker. We are appealing to their social conscience. The Minister of Tourism is listening. We are appealing to their social conscience, their conscience of being responsible, to be elected to be responsible to Nova Scotians. But you know, they have the power. We can all gang up on this side but we don't have enough votes to out-vote this government. So the only way we can try to bring some sanity to this process is to stand here and debate and bring resolutions and comments, and

[Page 2682]

to kind of grab at their social conscience and shake it a little bit. Every once in a while it doesn't hurt to have a few of these front-benchers born again to what they were saying during the election campaign about transparency and openness and accountability. This is the group who said they will consult. The hallmark of the Progressive Conservative Government will be a Party that will consult with Nova Scotians: we will involve them; we will be an inclusive government; we will bring them forward.

Yet you have the union, the NSGEU, which represents 21,000 hard-working Nova Scotians, saying they are scared to death of what this bill can do to them, their employees and their members. They are asking government to have the bill go to either the Human Resources Committee or the Law Amendments Committee, some structure so that they can feel a part of the process, and they could understand what this government is truly trying to do. If they are not guilty of misleading and doing something wrong, then why would they be afraid to bring it to the Human Resources Committee? Why would anybody be afraid to bring it that committee if they have nothing to hide?

Mr. Speaker, if they have nothing to hide, they would be able to bring that to the committee and everybody would be happy ever after in Nova Scotia. As the Premier has said before, go home and have a barbecue, be happy, it is summertime. We could all do that. We could barbecue some chicken.

AN HON. MEMBER: How about some turkeys?

MR. DOWNE: Well, I think a few turkeys should be barbecued right about now. It would be a good way to start. I think we could barbecue and everybody could be a little bit happy for a change. That could be done when this government is prepared to just simply say - and I see the Premier ready to stand, I am sure, in his place and say the member for Lunenburg West is correct, and he is prepared to support that resolution, to bring this to the Human Resources Committee so that, for a few short months, it could be discussed. I am sure he is just ready to stand on his feet to do that.

I see the Minister of Finance clawing at his back to drag him to his chair, not allowing him to get up. Shame on that Minister of Finance. That same Minister of Finance is the one who allowed the debt of the province, since he has been minister, to grow by $2 billion - in the last year alone - $1.3 billion; $3.5 million a day, and even though they are projecting surpluses, the debt will continue to grow each and every year to the year 2007. Shame on that Minister of Finance, that Minister of Finance who just clawed at the Premier and dragged him to the chairman, saying, Premier, do not bend; do not bend to the concerns of the union of the people of Nova Scotia; do not bend to the needs of the working staff of Nova Scotia; and do not bend to the concerns of the Opposition. We are in power and will do whatever we want to do, any time we want to do it, because we have the majority of votes. Shame, shame.

AN HON. MEMBER: Watch your blood pressure.

[Page 2683]

MR. DOWNE: I have great blood pressure. There is nothing wrong with my blood pressure, but their conscience must be hard on them. It must be hard to realize what is going on and still be able to feel comfortable.

The bill needs to be referred to the Human Resources Committee for further question and investigation of the government's true intentions. I assume the government's true intentions are nothing but applaudable; they are all good. Well if they are all good, why aren't we prepared to simply go and bring that forward to that committee? Changes in the Liquor Commission and Liquor Corporation. Workers at the Liquor Commission need to know that this is not the beginning of privatization in their workplace. They need to have that comfort zone; they need to know, the workers in Truro-Bible Hill, that they are going to be there long term, and not have to worry about somebody coming in and privatizing that facility. (Interruption)

Pardon me? I am sure the member from down in Hants County would love to make sure that he can go into his Liquor Commission and tell every one of those employees not to worry, your jobs are protected forever. We are not going to privatize the Liquor Commission, we are going to keep it. It is a profit zone - it is making money, it is being well run and being efficiently run by the hard workers in the administration of that organization.

[3:15 p.m.]

That would solve a lot of the problem if that is what they are going to do. Unless, of course, the government's real plan is to simply say, we are going to get on the job of privatization. Maybe that is exactly what they are going to do. Their red tape task force that floats around the province - none of which allows the New Democrats, the Official Opposition or the third Party, the Liberal body to be a part of that, it is only the guys on the backbenches who get to do all that work, have all that fun, go around and talk to people. I bet they are not hearing too many people saying, we want the Liquor Commission privatized in Nova Scotia. If they are, where have they ever reported it?

If the government is saying, nobody is asking to privatize the Liquor Commission, then why don't' they simply say that, unless, of course, they have the plan to privatize the liquor facilities in the Province of Nova Scotia. I could see if they wanted to do that, if the place was not run properly, if the people were lazy, if they didn't care. I have gone into Liquor Commissions and the people treat you with professionalism. They dress properly, they are polite, they are mannerly, they know that you are a customer, they look after you because that is the future of that business and each and every year, they have made more profit.

How do you reward success? Do you privatize it? I am sure the Minister of Finance has done some studies on what the benefit would be to privatize the Liquor Commission. This is a cash cow to that minister. It is a revenue stream that is pretty positive - very good. So if he ever sold it, he will get a one time benefit, but the long-term effect would be huge

[Page 2684]

in lack of revenue. The present net value of those dollars over a 10 year period would not allow this minister to really be able to do his job properly. Maybe he has done some studies to show that the system is working okay. that may be why they started the process of agency stores. Maybe it is a transition moving toward privatization, but nevertheless, all that would be clarified if it was given the opportunity to go back to the Human Resources Committee for further questions, further investigations and further involvement of Nova Scotians.

Workers need to know that our Premier of Nova Scotia is being true to his word when he signed the Quality Public Service Protection Plan. Do you remember that?

AN HON. MEMBER: Yes, five point plan.

MR. DOWNE: I am not allowed to ask you a question. Okay. Just rhetorical.

Workers need to know that the Premier of this province is being true to his word when he signed the Quality Public Service Protection Plan. I am becoming a doubting Thomas in this. I will tell you why. When the first budget came out about agriculture as being obviously, the rural vote, it is where most of that whole gang came from, was a rural vote, including the good Speaker, the rural vote made a difference in their election. So the first people they want to go after, who lives in rural Nova Scotia - farmers. The first group they want to go after, is farmers. Over a 20 per cent cut in their budget - to farmers in Nova Scotia.

Then, they had the Production Technology Branch which was a service provided by the Civil Service in Nova Scotia to farm communities. It was an extension where they actually do what they call the technology transfer programs, where they would actually take information from research documents that are somewhat technical, very technical in some cases, and they would go to a farm in Pictou County and they would talk to a dairy farmer or a horticultural farmer and they would explain to that farmer the type of new technology that is out there, some new cropping methods, new production methods, new equipment, and they would help teach that farmer to be more productive.

So what did this government do? They fired every single one of them. They kicked them out, just like that. They fired them all, 100 people, 99 people. Those are the people who were giving advice to farmers to allow them to be more cost-effective, to be more competitive, to give them the transfer of technology that is so important for the farm community to survive in a globalized economy. Now, after a lot of heat by both Parties here - and my colleague is not there; I would like to acknowledge him because the two of us have worked very hard at bringing this issue to the forefront.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member for Lunenburg West knows full well he is not to indicate the presence or the absence of a member in the House. The honourable member for Lunenburg West has the floor.

[Page 2685]

MR. DOWNE: My colleague, the member for Hants East, whether he is here or he is not, is a tremendous individual. He cares a lot about agriculture. (Interruption) No, he is a good man.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. (Interruption) No, that's okay. I just want to ask the honourable member for Lunenburg West if he would mind speaking into the microphone. As you turn away and turn toward the back, it is not recorded, what you are saying, so if you wouldn't mind speaking to the front, toward the microphone. Legislative TV is very interested in your debate and would like to keep it recorded. The honourable member for Lunenburg West has the floor. (Interruptions)

MR. DOWNE: I can tell the Speaker got lots of sleep on the weekend. You got lots of rest on the weekend. I will do my best, Mr. Speaker, to stand and look them square in the eye. The only thing is that they are so scared to look me in the eye, they have their heads bowed down because they know that they are doing something that Nova Scotians don't want them to do and that is drive Bill No. 20 down the proverbial throats of all Nova Scotia workers without them having an opportunity to be consulted.

Back to my story, back to my point, about how agriculture was robbed of over 20 per cent of their budget and the farmers understood, that is fine, they will do their part but, my gosh, they tore the heart and soul out of the department by letting go the extension of researchers who provided the technology transfer to the farm community. Now they say they are going to set up ADI, $2.2 million, that there are going to be a few people to help the guys out. But the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries will not commit to the fact that they will start charging a fee to those farmers, privatizing a service of government to the farm community. There are already a number of private sectors out there that you can hire to have experts come to your farm to help, but not every farmer can afford that. Not every farmer in this province can afford that and that service was there to help produce better quality and to be more competitive on an international and national stage. It benefits the economy of rural Nova Scotia.

I could point my finger across this room to every member in that Opposition and those government benches who had farmers vote for them or they never would have made it. Now they just rob those farmers and they are potentially going to go . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member for Lunenburg West knows full well that to use the word rob is unparliamentary. I would ask him to retract that and refrain from using that, please. (Interruptions) The honourable member for Lunenburg West, retract it. (Interruptions) Order, please. The honourable member for Lunenburg West has the floor.

[Page 2686]

MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, I will apologize for that word and say just simply remove the services from the farm community. Now we are into ADI. I have asked the minister, will you guarantee that ADI would not come out and privatize that service to the farm community, and he says they are a private board set up by farmers. That is correct, but he alone is the shareholder of that organization and he alone, on behalf of this government, should set the policy and should demand through ADI that they will not be charging a fee for service to the farm community. Some of those farm communities in this province are reeling through years of drought and problems and despair. The last thing they need to do is have their own government stick it to them.

That is why we are asking that Bill No. 20 go before the Human Resources Committee, so that we can understand that those particular things will not happen and that we will understand that the workers in Nova Scotia were not going to be thrown away, cast aside, only to be privatized. There is a role for government and there is a role for the private sector. I will acknowledge that in this House. I think if you are going to move in a direction of a private sector, then be honest with the people you are dealing with. Be honest with the individual workers you are dealing with.

I will give you an example. We have a couple of hotels in the Province of Nova Scotia - Digby Pines, beautiful Digby Pines in the lovely riding of Digby. The minister knows that I go there every year, and I have for years supported that facility. Long before I ever became a member of this Legislature, my wife and I have always loved it. It is a beautiful facility. I guess there is an expression of interest out there who is going to manage it. Well we tried that management process once before at a theme park, not far from the Digby Pines. At the end of the day, what we found, by that individual who was managing it, was that they were taking all the money out and putting very little back in, and by the time government got it back we had lost a lot of money, because we had to spend a lot of money to fix it up. The Minister of Finance would know.

Then we ended up turning it over to the community and they have done very well, but now we are going on this thing about the Digby Pines, or Liscombe Lodge or some of the other facilities we have in Cape Breton, Keltic Lodge. What is the future going to be for those organizations and the employees who are there? Are they going to be privatized? Is there going to be a private sector buy it out or come in and manage it? At the same time they are managing it, they are not going to spend any more than they have to on capital repair. They are not going to spend any more than they have to on benefits and wages. They are not going to spend any more than they have to to keep that barely alive so they can take as much profit as they possible can. At the end of the day, we lose out on tourism; we lose out on a number of fronts. I would hope that this government is not considering doing that.

The Human Resources Committee could question why the minister responsible for the Liquor Commission is intending to establish an advisory committee to that group. I believe the minister responsible for the Liquor Commission is the Minister of Tourism and Culture.

[Page 2687]

Why would he want to establish an advisory group when he has a board of directors? I used to be the minister responsible for it myself, before they were going to make it a Crown agency. You have a great board of directors. In fact, one member of the board of directors was a director that John Buchanan had appointed. I worked with that individual. He is a fine individual. He knew what was going on. He knew how it was operated. I don't know if he came from Truro-Bible Hill, but somewhere around there maybe. He was there for a long time.

But now the government - under this rookie minister - is saying they are not only going to make it a Crown Corporation; they are now going to set up an advisory committee. This is the same group that are saying they don't want government to get out there and duplicate activities and so on and so forth. (Interruption) Is there a problem?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The only problem is that the honourable member's time has expired.

The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, you know if the rules allowed, I would be tempted to give the member for Lunenburg West a bit of my time. Seeing as how the rules are such, and I always follow the rules, I am going to have to stand up here and try to fill my hour as best I can, but I certainly enjoyed hearing, as I always do, from the member for Lunenburg West. He always includes a couple of points of interest in his hour and I found that once again the case in his intervention in this.

[3:30 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise and speak on Bill No. 20, more specifically the amendment to that bill which is to refer it to the Human Resources Committee. I want to say to you and to other members of this Chamber that I think that it is an extremely responsible motion that was introduced by our Leader, the Leader of the New Democratic Party, the Leader of the Opposition, because Bill No. 20 in its entirety is a very significant piece of legislation. It relates to fairly significant restructuring within the government, a change in style of governing to one that is much more centralized.

While we understand that this government was elected to govern, they have a majority and it is well within their responsibility to do that, no one elected them, gave them a mandate to just simply holus-bolus reorganize completely the way government works in the Province of Nova Scotia. A strategy that effects each and every one of the employees of the Province of Nova Scotia whether they be members of the NSGEU or otherwise. There are huge implications, specific implications of this bill as it relates to each and every woman and man who works for the Province of Nova Scotia. This isn't what this government was elected to do.

[Page 2688]

Them coming forward with policy, new policy, policy changes in direction for the government, had they promised it or given us an indication where they were going in the election campaign, they could say we talked to Nova Scotians, we said what we would do and we are heading down that road; they didn't do that in this case. In no way, shape or form did they give us an indication that they were going to try to wrest power from all the agencies, boards and commissions from other departments into the hands of a small cabal of Cabinet Ministers and, most alarmingly, a higher staff. That is what is taking place in this particular piece of legislation and it is not something, as responsible members of the Opposition, can allow to happen without an exhaustive debate, without an exhaustive review, without exhaustive consultation with employees of the Province of Nova Scotia and, in fact, with Nova Scotia generally.

This is why I speak in support of the motion introduced by the Leader of the Opposition to refer this bill to the Human Resources Committee. This committee has a mandate to consider all matters as they relate to staffing, hiring, appointment of agencies, boards and commissions, policies as they affect the hiring and the employment practices of this particular government. This committee would be a very relevant committee to deal with this particular issue. I think the amendment is wise on another level because if it just passed second reading and went into the Law Amendments Committee, that is a committee which would entertain hearings with the public, but it is a stationary committee that remains here in Halifax, in the Legislative Chamber, and therefore does not get out to meet with Nova Scotians in different parts of the province.

Mr. Speaker, coming from rural Nova Scotia, from Cumberland County, you can attest well to the transportation difficulties faced by many Nova Scotians. Not only is it difficult for Nova Scotians in rural parts of the province to get around but it is expensive. For someone to come from Amherst or someone to come from Springhill, it may well be a full day, it may include a sleepover, and those expenses are significant. I think it would be a very responsible thing, when discussing a piece of legislation of such magnitude, that a committee of this House go out across the province and talk with Nova Scotians, talk with those who work with the government, who work with agencies, boards or commissions of government to talk about the implications of this bill, and where it is that the government is going.

We had quite an interesting intervention on Friday by members of the Nova Scotia Government Employees Union. They came here, having learned about this bill and its implications, each and every one of them, to voice their concerns to the minister and to other members of the government benches, in fact, to all of us, to raise their concerns and let us know that this piece of legislation, as I indicated before, affects each and every one of the members of that union. They are paying attention, and they want an opportunity to discuss the bill with the minister who sponsored it, and to discuss the bill with all members of this House. They want an opportunity to review the bill, to have it examined by legal counsel, and to be able to make representations as to the implications of that bill. I think, frankly, that that is a very reasonable request by this union.

[Page 2689]

When I saw Bill No. 20 and the press release that was affixed to it, I thought how reminiscent this was of days gone by, and how often we have participated, even in the short period of time that I have been here, which is about 10 years now, how governments repeatedly try to rearrange the order of things so that they can give off the semblance of doing something constructive, that they, because they are going to rename the Department of Economic Development the Economic Renewal Agency, that suddenly that department is going to do new and great things.

Under the Liberals, we saw that that didn't happen. It was the same old-same old. In fact, the very act of restructuring in that department - a restructuring that happened without any vision, without any direction - caused more disruption simply in the act of reorganizing than it did to provide any help and provide any guidance, to the point where they eventually brought back the old name and tried to do something different. Now, this government is, again, doing something different with the Department of Economic Development.

The problem here and the problem with all of these restructuring initiatives is that what is needed is some leadership; what is needed is a vision; what is needed is a clear indication of where this government wants to go; where the individual ministers are going to take their departments and, overall, where the Executive Council wants to take the government as a whole in areas of economic development, of health, of community services, dealing with transportation in the province. All of these areas need a vision. They need strong leadership from this government and we have not seen that. We are now halfway through this government's mandate and this government has failed to show us, give Nova Scotians any clear indication where it is that they are headed.

Instead, we get a bill - I think it is somewhere in the area of 34 pages long, very detailed, it amends 11 Statutes and indirectly amends several others, including the Trade Union Act and the Civil Service Collective Bargaining Act. Again, this is a very significant piece of legislation, but it comes without what is necessary and that is some substance, some underpinnings, some clear direction of where it is that this government wants to take us here in the province and that I guess is what concerns me the most.

If you are bogged down, if you are mired in indecision, if you just simply don't have the fortitude to be able to carry things forward in any clear and concise manner, then what you do is you throw up some smoke; you start to shake things up a little bit and change the names on the doors, change the letterhead, change the order of the different departments and hope that people will see all this activity taking place and they will think that something real and tangible is taking place in the specific departments.

Unfortunately, in this case, that is not the issue. As I said before, this government has a majority. If they want to take the government and the Province of Nova Scotia off in a new direction, they can do that, but I believe that they have the moral responsibility, at the very least, to discuss the direction in which they have decided to take us. If this government, in

[Page 2690]

its wisdom has decided that setting up Nova Scotia Business Inc. or setting up a new Civil Service Commission or bringing the Workers' Compensation Board in under the responsibility of a line department, if that is what this government thinks needs to happen in order to move us forward, then let them come to this Legislature and explain why it is they are doing it, on what basis they are doing it, where they have the evidence, why it is they think this is the way to go and participate in some kind of a debate.

This government, where they bring in a piece of legislation that has such wide-ranging impact on the people who work for the government, the Province of Nova Scotia, has an obligation, I believe, to discuss it with those employees before bringing about those changes. They have a responsibility to discuss with the Nova Scotia Government Employees Union the changes that they are proposing.

As of today, several days since this bill was first introduced - I don't know what day it was actually introduced in this House and we have been debating it in second reading now for about three days - this government has had no discussions about Bill No. 20 with the union representing the majority of workers for the Province of Nova Scotia, the Nova Scotia Government Employees Union. That is wrong.

[3:45 p.m.]

Why should anybody be surprised, given the fact that there has been no consultation, that hundreds of those very employees, their leadership and others came over to the Legislature to voice their concerns last Friday afternoon. Nobody should be surprised and nobody should be surprised that the leadership of that union is expressing some outrage that this government would bring in a bill such as this without any further discussion. So everything points to this House supporting unanimously the amendment introduced by the Leader of the Opposition to refer this bill to committee.

Let me just take a second and refer you to some of the reorganizations that have happened just in the past 10 years. Just in the past 10 years some of the changes, restructuring and merging that have taken place, and I suggest at considerable cost, although whenever we ask the government to supply either supporting documents, evidence why particular and specific restructuring is necessary, why they are heading down a specific road, give us your arguments in support of that, they never do. Whenever we ask them to give us the cost estimates for what the costs are going to be for a particular reorganization, they never have that, they have never done their homework, Mr. Speaker, and whenever we seek a tally of costs, they fail to provide it.

I am reminded of the forced amalgamations of the Halifax Regional Municipality and the Cape Breton Regional Municipality where it was said that in Halifax that forced amalgamation was going to save us, the taxpayers, in the area of $10 million. That is what the sponsoring government, the Savage Government of the day said, that is what it

[Page 2691]

committed, that was their public relations campaign at the time, that it was going to create efficiencies not only in the delivery of services but also cost savings. We know that at a minimum, Mr. Speaker, that forced amalgamation of the Halifax Regional Municipality cost in excess of $20 million and has resulted in a serious deterioration, I would suggest to you, from what I am hearing from my constituents and from others in rural parts of the Halifax Regional Municipality, in services in various parts of that forced amalgamation.

So, even when government has, and when we are able to pull some of the evidence together about restructuring, merging and reorganization, inevitably it turns out to be true. The point is that restructuring, reorganization that is done without any basis, without any theme, without any clear direction, Mr. Speaker, is a reorganization that is doomed to fail, that is doomed to cause serious disruption and dislocation of staff and disruption and dislocation of services provided and inevitably a great cost to the taxpayers of Nova Scotia. I don't see any reason, any evidence or believe there is any reason to think otherwise of this particular reorganization.

Mr. Speaker, I take you back, of course, to February 26, 1991, when then Premier Don Cameron said that he would eliminate the Department of Small Business, the Solicitor General, Mines and Energy, Advanced Education and achieve a smaller Cabinet, no longer have a separate Housing Minister. By downgrading Management Board, the body charged with control of spending, Cabinet was reduced from 22 to 17 members. Cameron's goal was to cut the number of departments to 17 to eliminate 500 jobs. He said at the time that this was a fundamental change in the way our government is managed, where reform is in the actual structures of governments, reform that results in reduction in the actual cost of government, eliminate waste and duplication of services.

Mr. Speaker, Cameron went on to promise legislation that blends boards and agencies and commissions into departments, four agencies are then merged to form the URB. The reorganization continued when the Savage Liberals were elected in the spring of 1993. The first thing they did, in their first Throne Speech, was to eliminate Management Board by merging it with the Civil Service Commission to create the Department of Human Resources. Take the Civil Service Commission, an arm's-length body responsible for human resources in the Province of Nova Scotia, take that arm's-length relationship away and turn it into a line department of the province. Here we are, back again, taking that line department and putting it out there, supposedly, in a more arm's-length Civil Service Commission.

Again, it has been done. The Department of Tourism and Culture became a Nova Scotia marketing agency, the Economic Renewal Agency, Mr. Speaker. The Department of Consumer Affairs has been changed over, in a number of cases, and on and on it goes with all kinds of suggestions about how much money it was going to save, how many employees it was going to reduce, as if it was the employees who were the problem. The bottom line is, here we are in the year 2001, we have a government doing the same old same old and, again, no evidence to suggest that this is going to be of any benefit to the people of Nova Scotia.

[Page 2692]

The worst thing is the people who are most affected, the employees, are not going to be discussed. Not only the employees but also the people of Nova Scotia, who receive and who depend on the goods and services delivered by this government aren't going to be consulted with. Again, that is why it is so important that we support the motion of the Leader of the Opposition to refer this piece of legislation to the Human Resources Committee.

Mr. Speaker, I refer you, for a second, if I may, to the fact that this government and this Premier signed on to what was called, and is still called, a Five Point Quality Public Service Protection Plan for Nova Scotia. It was a document produced by the Nova Scotia Government Employees Union and it was presented to the Leaders of the Parties in the House in those days, in July 1997. In the most recent election campaign, in 1999, the Leader of the Tory Party reaffirmed his commitment to this five point quality plan.

If I may, and I will be happy to table this, Mr. Speaker, I would like to present the commitments that have been made by the signator, John. F. Hamm, to this document. It says, "Whereas the trend to privatize public services is increasing in Nova Scotia despite the absence of a mandate or policy to do so, and whereas, Nova Scotians deserve to be fully involved in assessing the impact of privatization on the quality of public services, and on the province's communities and workers, therefore . . .", and lays out those five points and I will go over them in a second.

Again, one of our concerns and one of the concerns that we have raised here in this House, the sponsor of the bill, the Minister of Transportation and Public Works, says that this bill, in no way, is an attempt to privatize services in the Province of Nova Scotia. But I beg to differ as have other of my colleagues, that there are portions of this bill which make it very plausible that the direction that this government is going to be heading in is one of privatizing public services. I refer of course to the proposed Clause 41(6) which gives the government, the executive of the Cabinet, the power to enter into an agreement with anybody to do anything in their mandate.

We believe - and I have not seen any evidence to suggest otherwise - that this clause justifies any kind of privatization, any kind of contracting out, and in that respect I refer you back to the five point plan. In the five point plan the five points are as follows:

Point number one, "A provincial public service will not be privatized or contracted to the private sector without public consultation and without demonstrable evidence that privatization will lead to improved services for Nova Scotians." If this bill passes as it currently stands, this government will be allowed to go ahead and privatize, contract out public service, without referring it back to this Legislature, let alone taking it out for public consultation, or let alone taking the issue, the intention to privatize the Public Service before the Nova Scotia Government Employees Union. That is what is provided for in Bill No. 20, a complete contradiction to principle one of the five point plan that was signed by the now Premier.

[Page 2693]

Point number two, "A decision to privatize or contract out a service will not be made without a full and open review by an independent and mutually agreed upon Review Agency or individual, who will ensure full cost/benefit analyses and comprehensive social and economic impact studies are conducted." How can we believe that this government will fulfill that commitment to provide evidence to do the reviews to present the analysis to support its decision when they brought in such a wide-ranging and wide-reaching bill without a similar analysis? Clearly this government believes, as other governments have in this province, that once they are elected they can bloody well do what they want; that they have a mandate until there is another election to do whatever. They don't have to be answerable; they don't have to explain; and they don't have to participate in any dialogue with Nova Scotians. That is exactly the way they are headed. This is one of the main reasons why we are here as the Opposition, to hold this government accountable for this kind of action, to hold this government accountable for this kind of action as proposed in Bill No. 20.

What this bill proposes to do - and why it is so important that we discuss it more fully here and outside this House in the Human Resources Committee - is to take even minor changes in the structure, the organization of government, to not have those decisions be subject to ratification and debate and examination by this House, but simply by writ; without even giving public notice by an Order in Council this government can make those decision. That is wrong. What they are doing is not only shifting power from this Legislature to the Executive Council, more ominous than that is that the power is going to those staff hired to service the Executive Council. Those are non-elected, unaccountable persons within the employ of this government, and that power is misdirected, it should not reside in that particular space.

[4:00 p.m.]

Let me go to point number three, "Public sector workers and their representatives and other interested parties shall have standing in the review process." Again, this is part of a five-point plan that was signed by the now-Premier back in 1997. These are points that he reiterated his support for in the election in 1999. How can the public sector workers, their representatives and other interested parties - like district health authorities; hospital boards; the Workers' Compensation Board; and other agencies, boards and commissions that this government is talking about centralizing - believe that this government is going to consult with them, is going to allow them to have full and active participation in any review, when they have not been involved at all in the preparation, presentation and debate over Bill No. 20, a bill which absolutely impacts on their future in the province? That has happened, and they have not been asked to participate.

Point number four, "The reviewing agency or individual will issue a final report and recommendation and will table the report and all studies and analyses to the House of Assembly and/or the Legislature's Public Accounts Committee." Again, the key points here are points number one and two, which go to the essence of this government's decision

[Page 2694]

making, and the commitment that was made by the Leader of the Tories, the now-Premier, who said to the union representing the 15,000-plus government employees in the Province of Nova Scotia that he will honour this pledge to participate with them if any intention is made to privatize or contract out to the private sector any public service, that they would follow this particular regime.

As an indication, Bill No. 20, this commitment is not worth the paper it was written on, and not worth the efforts that were put into it by the Nova Scotia Government Employees Union or anyone else who participated in that campaign. The commitment is being flouted by this government. They are going in their own direction, and are simply ignoring the authority and the legitimacy and the rights of the Nova Scotia Government Employees Union.

Mr. Speaker, again, I said to you and to other members of this House that this is a large piece of legislation, 34 pages in length, 13 parts, amends 11 other existing Statutes and indirectly amends several others including the Trade Union Act and the Civil Service Collective Bargaining Act. The very broad definition, as is outlined, of Public Service affects almost every other part of the Public Service except for municipalities. It is a huge move to centralize a control of this government in the hands, as I said earlier, of the Executive Council, and most ominously is to the staff of that Executive Council.

I was interested to listen to some of the debate of members on this side of the House. Again, I wish that members on the other side of the House, the side of the House that sponsors this bill, would get to their feet and talk to me and, through me, to my constituents about why it is that they support Bill No. 20. What evidence they have that this kind of reorganization or restructuring will mean anything worthwhile for Nova Scotians, that they will listen to the concerns raised by me and other members of this caucus and give me evidence and argument as to why it is that those concerns are unnecessary, present here in this House, evidence on the floor, evidence as to why it is that Nova Scotians and employees employed by the Province of Nova Scotia shouldn't be extremely concerned about where this government is headed.

So when I was listening to debate earlier, in particular I am thinking of the member for Halifax Fairview. He was going back a little further in history. I talked about the last 10 years but he went back, Mr. Speaker, to 1934 when there were changes being proposed. At that particular time, there was a Royal Commission, as he referred to, known as the Jones Commission, which examined broadly the economic state and the development process for the Province of Nova Scotia. The commission went through a fairly exhaustive process and made recommendations to the government of the day. One of the benefits that came out of this particular commission is an expert who had been hired, a Professor Dawson, who wrote a report recommending to them, in those days, what a Nova Scotia Civil Service Commission would look like.

[Page 2695]

Mr. Speaker, Professor Dawson said, and I want to quote this because it relates very much to what I said earlier - you can change things around as much as you would like. You can put new people in the jobs. You can get new letterhead. You can put new name plaques on the doors, but unless you have some idea of what it is that your department is doing, then you are going to have problems. I am quoting for the member for Halifax Fairview, from Hansard, in particular, when he quotes from Professor Dawson. As he said, this is what Dawson said after examining 10 years of operation of the Civil Service Act and the Civil Service Commission in Nova Scotia, ". . . anyone who has experience in observing the operation of civil service Acts elsewhere realizes that superficial excellences mean little; that the most important consideration is the spirit in which the Act is administered and applied, and that, unless perpetual vigilance is observed, there will always be excuses found for evading and circumventing its provisions."

Mr. Speaker, again, it underlines the point. Here we are in the Year 2001, a government that doesn't have a clear direction, that doesn't know where it is that they are going. Again, evidence was provided in not only the Throne Speech but the budget. This government was elected on the basis of coming up with great savings through administrative efficiencies. The Premier, when he was running for office in the summer of 1999 had it all figured out, a little tweak here and a little change there. We love the Public Service, he said, and we are not going to do anything to unduly upset them, but if we do a little tinkering here and a little tinkering there we are going to be able to come up with all kinds of savings, which we will use to be able to direct resources where it is that we think they need to be spent.

We know, of course, that this government is spending a great deal more than the previous government did on government. Were it not for the hundreds of millions of dollars that we have collected from the federal government, for example, as a result of the equalization plan from other wealthy provinces, this government would again be in the red even farther than it is and they would again be so much farther away from achieving the balanced budget that they promised and any particular tax savings that they were hoping to pass on to the people of Nova Scotia as they went to the polls in the year 2002. So they have shown themselves to be not particularly astute when it comes to administering, to operating this government and therefore more support for those of us who are concerned about this government making wholesale changes without any particular argument or any particular substance, any particular authority other than the fact that they have a majority government.

Mr. Speaker, the other troubling part of Bill No. 20 is that it basically already legitimizes some fairly major changes that this government has already brought in to the administration of government. They have brought departments together, they have shuffled people around, they have hired more new assistant deputies and more assistant administrative people and now they are bringing in the legislation to legitimize those particular changes that have been made. It is a concern because this government is coming at the issue of governance, the issue of accountability in two different directions and they are both wrong.

[Page 2696]

One is that they go forward with reorganization, that they go forward and make decisions which should be discussed here in this Legislature, they go ahead and they make those changes and then come here and ask us to simply rubber stamp the legislation, which legitimizes it. The second thing that they do, which is equally wrong-headed, is that they bring in legislation to further reorganize government without any evidence as to why it is that it is a good idea for the people of Nova Scotia, why it is going to create any changes that are at all positive and constructive and, again they expect us to simply rubber-stamp that decision.

Well, I will tell you what, members on this side of the House, certainly members in this caucus are not prepared to do that, Mr. Speaker. We are going to hold this government accountable. We are going to provide an opportunity for every employee, for every group, for every organization in the province that has an issue to bring up with respect to Bill No. 20, to make sure that they have an opportunity to bring those concerns to our attention and to this government's attention. Whether it is through the Human Resources Committee, whether it in the Committee on Law Amendments or whether it is every single second of debate that we can squeeze out here in this Legislature, we are going to do that because that is why we are here.

Mr. Speaker, I referred earlier to provisions of this bill which cause some concern.

Let me turn to a couple of things that are particularly alarming - and if I may ask how much time I have left? Fifteen minutes? I will try to cover these issues as best I can in the 15 minutes that are remaining, but if not now, then I hope to rise to my feet again in debate and cover them. I know that my able colleagues in this caucus will simply have an opportunity to debate the issue as effectively, if not better than I am able to.

[4:15 p.m.]

In Bill No. 20, I believe it is Clause 12 and Clause 15, enables this government to replace the Nova Scotia Liquor Commission with the Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation and - we believe - to set up the momentum for the privatization of the Nova Scotia Liquor Commission. The corporation will be able to function as a private-for-profit company to sell off or dispose of property and assets and especially, with no limits on the number of agency stores to be established. That, we believe, is kind of a backdoor privatization.

If this government has any evidence to the contrary, then I ask them to rise and explain to me and members of this caucus and Nova Scotians who are concerned about what the government's intentions are. They have failed to do so yet and I am not hopeful that they are going to rise to their feet and participate in this debate in any way that will help shed some light on what their true intentions are. It is not good enough for any members of the government bench to stand outside and talk to the media and say, oh, no, that is really not what we are planning to do at all. Stand up here, support your bill, support your legislation, support what it is your government is trying to do and explain to members of this House and

[Page 2697]

to the constituents they represent, to Nova Scotians that are represented on this side and explain what your intentions are. Be clear, not fuzzy-minded about it. Be clear. This is the place to do it and we are going to debate this bill as long as we possibly can, until we get some answers from this government.

The other part of that particular clause - I refer to Clause 12, but also Clause 15, relates to the ways that the bargaining rights of those particular employees are going to be dealt with. Most particularly, there is going to be a loss of independence and the potential for political interference. Not only with this commission now but with the Workers' Compensation Board and with other agencies, boards and commissions in the Province of Nova Scotia.

One of the things that we have been able to do over the past 10 to 15 years is to wrest away - we hope - from the Workers' Compensation Board, the political interference that was its hallmark under the Tories and the Liberals before them back in the 1970's and 1980's that drove that board into a serious under-funded situation; at a point in 1993 it was in the area of $450 million, largely as a result of incompetence, lack of political leadership, but also political interference. We don't want that to happen again.

It is an ominous sign that this government would be heading to bring the Workers' Compensation Board in under the mandate or the responsibility of the Executive Council and, therefore, subject to much greater political interference. That is a concern for us; that is a concern for working Nova Scotians; that is a concern for injured workers; that is a concern for business owners, who pay premiums, as do workers, into this fund. It is a direction that we cannot afford to head in this province.

There are other changes that affect these particular boards and commissions that we need to examine in more detail. Again, I would recommend to you and to other members of this House that referral to the Human Resources Committee is a very responsible thing. There are other provisions in this bill, Clause 41 in particular, as it relates to a new Section 6 of the Public Service Act. This particular clause reads, "A member of the Executive Council may, subject to the approval of the Governor in Council, enter into an agreement with the Government of Canada or the government of a province, or agency thereof . . ." It goes on and says, ". . . or with any institution or person, or any of them, providing for a joint undertaking with the Government of Canada or with the government of a province, or any agency thereof, or with any institution or person, or any of them, of any project within the member's mandate under this Act."

Mr. Speaker, this relates to agreements, and my concern with this particular provision is that it gives, again, the Executive Council - not this House - the power to enter into any agreement with anybody to do anything within their mandate. I believe that this is, once again, a move towards privatization. That is the way this is heading, and my concern is, and

[Page 2698]

why we need to examine it through the Human Resources Committee or the Law Amendments Committee, we need to examine additional aspects of this bill.

Again, there are things in this bill that defy understanding, things like the whole question of the terminology, as, I believe, administrative directives. An administrative directive is something with respect to rules and regulations, and it is an administrative directive which must be followed throughout government no matter what it says, no matter to whom it is directed, it must be followed. The need for this administrative directive must not be published anywhere.

In other words, not only do we get the opportunity to debate these issues here, to hold this government accountable here, we also have an opportunity to oversee decisions this government is making through the Executive Council by the published Orders in Council. Well, under this bill and under this definition of administrative directives, these important administrative directions, these rules, these orders throughout government that must be followed will not be published. We won't know what it is that this government, the Executive Council, is asking the rest of its government to do. Again, it has to do with control, it has to do with centralizing authority within the government, it has to do with understanding and appreciating the direction in which this government is heading. That's our concern. That's ultimately the concern all members should have.

I say, Mr. Speaker, as my time is winding down, this government, like other governments before it, fails to remember its history. It fails to remember the mistakes that have been made in the past in order to avoid making those mistakes again. Here we have another reorganization that is happening without any argument, without any substance, without any rationale. Here we have a reorganization affecting each and every employee of the Province of Nova Scotia, from one end of the province to the other and they haven't discussed it with any of those employees or with the union representing the majority of those employees.

I mean, what's that? That is a mistake that has been made before. When it comes to carrying out directives, when it comes to following direction, it is delivering services and being efficient, it is the people - the men and women - who work for this government who do that. It is the women and men who work for this department who suffer when reorganizations end up simply being disruptions and dislocations. Those are the people who bear the burden from bad decisions. Those are the people who should be consulted about a piece of legislation like this.

In fact, do you know what? During the election and when this government was sitting in the Third Party position in this House, they talked all about consulting with the employees before doing anything, working with the Nova Scotia Government Employees Union to ensure that the decisions that this government made were the decisions that were right. They said then that they recognized the role government employees played. They understood the

[Page 2699]

wisdom and the expertise that was contained within that body of public servants and they were going to avail themselves of that expertise, of that wisdom, in setting direction for this government. But we are halfway through their mandate and this government failed and has continued to fail and has continued to repeat mistakes made by previous governments.

Some stand here in this House and they say that this government will pay the next time it goes to the polls. Do you know what? It is not about their political future, it is not about whether they get re-elected or not, it is about the future of this province, it is about the services that this government is responsible to deliver to Nova Scotians. That's what it is all about. That's what this bill is about. That's why I believe we need to support the amendment introduced in order to send this bill to the Human Resources Committee so it can be examined in sufficient detail so that we know, so that everyone knows exactly what this government is doing, least of all, the government itself. Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I realize my time is up and I will take my seat and pass on the debate to another member of the Opposition.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Deputy Government House Leader.

MR. WILLIAM DOOKS: Mr. Speaker, I ask for the concurrence of the House to revert to the order of business, Presenting Reports of Committees.

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

We will revert to Presenting Reports of Committees.

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Finance.

HON. NEIL LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the Chairman of the Law Amendments Committee, I am directed to report that the committee has met and considered the following bill:

Bill No. 30 - Financial Measures (2001) Act.

and the committee recommends this bill to the favourable consideration of the House, without amendments.

[Page 2700]

[4:30 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: Ordered that this bill be referred to the Committee of the Whole House on Bills.

We will now revert to the second reading of Bill No. 20.

[PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING

Bill No. 20 - Government Restructuring (2001) Act.]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Richmond.

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise today to speak on the amendment, which was introduced in regard to Bill No. 20. I have to tell you, right off the bat, it is always refreshing to see the socialist Party following the lead of the Liberal caucus here in this House and finally starting to participate in attempting to hold this government accountable. Certainly, they are following our lead, as we did on Bill No. 30, to hold this government accountable and how interesting it was at the Law Amendments Committee process to see the Liberal caucus with numerous amendments and the socialist caucus without even one amendment. So it is quite interesting to see how they have woken up and entertained this House with their cheesy line of why they are here.

Mr. Speaker, clearly, our caucus, from day one, has raised numerous concerns in regard to Bill No. 20 and certainly where this government is going with the entire Civil Service of this province which, in the end, one could argue is where this government is going with the future direction of government services for the Province of Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, how interesting it is to see that finally this government has decided that they are going to bring to this House the changes which they have already enacted in government. For example, to start off with, I will speak to one that is very near and dear to my heart, the decision to merge the Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture with the Department of Agriculture. If you want a pure example of a lack of vision of this government, it is in that move right there, when you have two of the most important resource sectors in this province and this government doesn't even see fit to have a ministerial position for each of those sectors.

I don't need to tell members of this House or Nova Scotians how important the agricultural industry is to this province. But I have to tell you, Mr. Speaker, I know, in the agriculture industry, as saddened as I am sure they were to see that their department was being merged with Fisheries, they were very saddened by this government even before they reached that point because the minister, who is now responsible for Agriculture and Fisheries, was also the minister who was responsible when it was a stand-alone Department

[Page 2701]

of Agriculture. How interesting it was that, in their first big budget last year, that minister stood and did absolutely nothing to stop the Minister of Finance and his government from devastating the Department of Agriculture in this province.

If it wasn't bad enough, Mr. Speaker, that he sat there in silence and didn't do anything to stop it or to speak for the agricultural industry, he had the gall to stand in this House and try to convince Nova Scotians that there had been no cuts in his department and what a terrible thing for the Opposition to even suggest there was a reduction in front-line services in the agricultural industry as a result of that nasty Tory budget.

Mr. Speaker, sure the minister says you can't listen to the Opposition. I had the privilege, just before Christmas, of being in Ottawa attending a function with our federal Liberal counterparts. When speaking with them, and I remember speaking to one official with the Department of Agriculture in Ottawa, when I told him that I was from Nova Scotia, they started to laugh right away and said, Nova Scotia? They said, Nova Scotia is the laughingstock of the country when it comes to agricultural issues because they are the one province that goes out and criticizes the federal government for drought relief and for other programs, claims more money, when, on the flip side, they are devastating the Department of Agriculture in their own province and yet have the gall to blame Ottawa and say Ottawa should put more money in. It was a running joke and I have to tell you, it wasn't funny. It was an embarrassment.

It was an embarrassment to see, that in our nation's capital, to say that you are from this province on the issue of agriculture, it was a laugh, it was a joke, a very sad day. To this day that minister still doesn't know what happened. He still doesn't know. The Minister of Finance has somehow managed to convince him that there were no cuts to his department and that he shouldn't be concerned. So now he couldn't take care of Agriculture, they have now given him Fisheries on top of that.

So how was he as a Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries? I think the budget deliberations, themselves, this year were a wonderful example of the comprehension that the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries has of the fishing industry? For three years I have asked that minister to show some leadership on behalf of fishermen in this province, especially the inshore fishermen; for example, I asked on the issue of the shrimp fishery in this province. For three years I have been asking this minister. We have made our own representations to to Ottawa on behalf of the Richmond County Inshore Fishermen's Association, we have asked this minister to support our efforts to establish a boundary to keep the draggers, who drag for shrimp, away from the inshore, we have proposed possibly 8, possibly 10, maybe even 12 miles.

Mr. Speaker, as you know, the New Brunswick fleet, which fishes off our coast, cannot come within 12 miles from shore because their boats are 65 feet longer, and that is a rule that has been with DFO for quite some time. We have asked them to consider amending that so

[Page 2702]

any vessel which is fishing by means of dragging should be restricted to that 12-mile limit - 8, 10 - but at least they have a limit so that protects the inshore shrimp trap fishery, which has been a new and growing industry in this province and has great potential for the inshore fisherman to diversify their fishery. I would argue that it is a very environmentally-safe way of fishing for shrimp because these are set traps, it is almost like a lobster trap. It is ironic, I asked the minister if he could even describe to us what a trap looked like and he had absolutely no idea of what I was talking about. Great to see, with this new emerging fishery, that the minister was well versed on the importance of this.

So, for three years I have asked him that during the budget estimates. One would think, coming in this year, that he would have asked his staff to go through Hansard and at least say, look, that fellow from Richmond keeps hounding me on this issue of shrimp, would someone go through what he keeps hounding me about and come up with an answer so we have an answer this year when he asks for the third time. Once again, no answer. The minister babbled and babbled, tried to make the committee believe that he actually knew what he was talking about, when it was clear he had no idea. So I said to myself, if that is the respect the minister is going to show the industry and the respect he is going to show the Opposition, I would show him the same respect.

So I went on and told the minister, well, you know what this issue is, minister, you are well abreast of what the issue is. Remember how I have been talking to you about how the inshore fishermen in Richmond County want you to support them in trying to erase the boundary line so that the draggers can come as close to shore as possible. I told him it would shake up the shrimp so the inshore trap fishery will be a better fishery. The minister said, yes, yes, I recall very well that was the member was saying. Keep in mind the whole concept was to put those draggers as far out as possible, and I am telling him we want them to come as close to shore as possible. In fact, I went even further and said, Mr. Minister we want those draggers to come up and down Arichat Harbour and drag through the harbour and that will help the inshore fishermen, will you fight for us? Yes, yes he said, I have heard that good member and I am going to support that industry, we will fight to have draggers going up and down Arichat Harbour.

Well, that was the best laugh that I had as a member in this House. For a Minister of the Crown, to be fooled into believing such a thing, when he had been told on three to four different occasions what the issue was and yet to show his complete - I don't know if I would say - opposition to the industry or . . .

HON. ERNEST FAGE: Mr. Speaker, on a point of privilege. It would be nice if the honourable member clarified the facts. The fact was that the minister, if the honourable member convinced the local fishermen in Arichat that that was what they want, then he would make a request if all the facts were added in.

[Page 2703]

MR. SPEAKER: I assume the honourable Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries rose on a point order. It is not a point of order. However, I would ask the honourable member for Richmond to bring his comments back to the amendment motion of Bill No. 20, the Government Restructuring (2001) Act, bring his comments back to that bill, please, and the amendment debate which is at hand.

The honourable member for Richmond has the floor.

MR. SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, what I am getting at is, the reason we support this amendment is for the fishermen in Richmond County - and throughout this entire province - to come to the Human Resources Committee and try to get this minister to finally listen to their concerns. For three years they have asked for his support for that inshore fishery, to have a boundary line, to speak to Ottawa and keep the draggers outside. Yet here he is, in budget deliberation, agreeing that, yes, we should have draggers coming up and down Arichat Harbour.

The point is the minister has absolutely no idea what is going on in the fishing industry in this province. That is why we cannot support this government's move to merge the departments of Fisheries and Agriculture together because it is quite clear the minister hasn't given either of these important sectors the time that they deserve. This government should immediately have a full-time Minister of Agriculture to support that industry and speak for it, and a full-time Minister of Fisheries who will speak for that industry.

Now, what is another problem? It was most interesting I have to tell you, recently we had the announcement about the crab allocation for this year and when those seasons would be opening. When the decision was made, we see a release from the Minister of Fisheries saying how upset he is that Ottawa hasn't listened to his pleas to support the plant workers in getting an earlier start to the season to have them work longer. Now, maybe I have missed something, but I don't recall that minister ever standing in this House, I don't recall ever seeing a news clipping, a radio report, or anything, where this minister stood or this minister said, I support the industry, I support the plant workers, I would like Ottawa to have an earlier opening to the crab season.

I can't see anyone else saying that they have seen it either, so that is the whole issue here. This Bill No. 20 to restructure government has already proven to be a failure for this government. They are clearly abandoning these important resource sectors. This province - if it is to achieve its economic potential - cannot continue to neglect these important resource sectors in this province, which is why we can't have Bill No. 20 going through in its present form.

Now, what is another example? The Department of Environment and Labour have been merged into one department. What have we seen? We have seen a marching of ministers and acting ministers for both of these departments. These departments, I would

[Page 2704]

submit to you, have been absolutely neglected since August 16, 1999, both of these very important departments have been neglected. Not only - when talking about the short vision of this government - have they abandoned fisheries and agriculture, they have now abandoned the environment and they have abandoned labour and workers' safety in this province. They have put that on the back burner.

How can you possibly think that you are working on behalf of our children and that you are looking for the long-term benefit of this province when a government abandons the environment portfolio? My colleague, the member for Victoria, brought forward wonderful legislation to deal with the sewage problems in the Bras d'Or. One of the sewage problems would be boat-generated sewage. What was it the minister said? It is not our jurisdiction; not, I support that, I will lobby for that, we will be behind you, our department is behind that. He says, no, it is ultra vires, it is not provincial jurisdiction.

He has been asked questions in this House on numerous topics. He should get an award, possibly not from the NHL, but even in this House for the best, the most assists in a session because all he has been doing is passing that puck off to everyone in sight except himself. Never before in my three years here have I seen a minister refuse to answer questions like that for his own department, instead, moving it to Health, Transportation, Public Works, Education; anyone in sight is where he is moving. Clearly, there are two options: the minister is overburdened by the fact that these two essential departments have been merged, or he has absolutely no idea of either department.

I will give him the benefit of the doubt and say he is overburdened by having these two departments, because having been a former Minister of the Environment I know the importance of that department, and through my colleague, the member for Cape Breton West, I certainly know the importance of the Department of Labour, and to see that Bill No. 20 would propose that these two essential departments be merged.

I will give you an example of the wonderful thinking that has come since they have merged these departments together, and why it is a bad idea. The Nova Scotia Youth Conservation Corps. - you are familiar with that program, I think every member in this House is familiar with that program - a wonderful program which allowed our youth in this province to participate in environment-related programs throughout this province, not only to give them experience, it was also a means of assisting the many environmental groups we have throughout this province, from working on waste management to working on stream and river rehabilitation to working on nature conservation, all of those issues, this was a program to support that. There was also support from Human Resources Development Canada and from the Economic Development Department. What does this government do? It withdraws all the funding from the Department of Environment and Labour for this program. This government says that Bill No. 20 is a good idea. Imagine.

[Page 2705]

[4:45 p.m.]

It gets better than that. Last year - you are probably familiar with this, Mr. Speaker - we had the Water Fee Licensing Program in this province. What was that program? That was a program where heavy-industrial users of water, I believe there are five of them in this province, mostly the pulp mills, who have a lot of water consumption, who are expected to pay a fee back to the province for that consumption. An agreement was made where a portion of that fee, rather than be paid directly to the province could be used by those industrial users to give to local environment groups to assist them; wonderful program. You are probably aware yourself, Mr. Speaker, of groups that have benefited from that. I know the Minister of Tourism and Culture should be well aware, because the Margaree River Association has benefited from that program on a number of occasions. I know that the Richmond County Wildlife Association has also benefited from that program, and I could name groups from throughout this province.

Last year, the government decided to cut, I believe it was, 60 per cent of the funding from that program; a very short-sighted decision. As if it wasn't bad enough, this year came the final blow, when the Minister of Environment and Labour completely eliminated that funding. Do you know what is better? It is how he did it. A new Minister of Environment and Labour, someone who when he was a backbencher hurled about the Opposition and how terrible it was and how the Tories were a wonderful, open, accountable Party. Rather than stand in his place and be honest, and tell this House what programs he had cut, once again he had to be asked and, even at that, it took five or six questions to finally get the truth out of him. What a shameful way to govern, but that is just an example. He has gone from that, to now he doesn't answer questions at all.

Again, Bill No. 20, to be putting these sorts of departments together, clearly, is not working. The Premier said, we are going to cut down on administrative fat, and we are going to reduce the number of Cabinet Ministers. Well, he has reduced the number of Cabinet Ministers, claiming it would be more efficient. I would like you to show me the efficiency in that. Has it caused efficiency in the Department of Health? Well, he has the highest-paid deputy minister with a salary unheard of in this province's history for a deputy, an associate deputy minister, an executive assistant, a senior assistant from Priorities and Planning, and an information officer being paid $99,000 a year. Where is the cutting in the administrative fat?

They didn't like the district health authorities, so they wanted to go local boards. They have gone from, I think it was, 7 to 10, and, again, it is going to save money. Only Tory logic would be able to justify that. Back where I come from, going from 7 to 10 doesn't save money, it costs you more money, it is more administration. That is why Nova Scotians are not pleased with what is happening here.

[Page 2706]

We see the creation of the Treasury and Policy Board; we have the Public Service Commission. This I could term, when one looks back through history, the Tory dream of Nova Scotia, finally, one body, a small group of individuals responsible for the hiring throughout this entire province. No more having to rely on the 52 riding presidents or having to rely on the federal presidents, now you have one central group, a small group appointed by the Tories, who will be responsible for all hiring. How ironic. Who is going to fall under their little hiring scheme? We see one of them, we have the Public Service Commission; the Public Service Act is one of them that is going to fall under it. The Civil Service Collective Bargaining Act, Highway Workers Collective Bargaining Act; how ironic, as I said. The Tory dream is coming true in Bill No. 20. Once again, one body appointed by the Tories gets to hire all the highway workers again. The Minister of Transportation and Public Works, who served in the Buchanan Administration, has the gall to stand here today and say the state of our roads is because of neglect.

Well, Mr. Speaker, it is because of Tory neglect and the abuse that they put in that system of putting people based purely on politics. I can tell you horror stories coming back from Richmond County, people who were area managers that didn't have a Grade 12 education, let alone any idea of engineering or any concepts in that ball field. Yet, we wonder why our roads are in the shape they are. Even the Minister of Tourism himself could clearly say what that has done for his own roads in his own riding. So how ironic to see the Tories, open and accountable, going back to the old Tory days, once again, to have one central hiring body in this entire province. How ironic and it is only with time that we will see, the longer they go on with this, the more we will be able to clearly see how the Tories, once again - it will not be patronage, because that is not the Tory way.

The Tory way is not patronage, the Tory way is corruption. It is by putting people in positions, not based on their politics, but putting people in positions, based on politics, of which they have absolutely no qualification for. Buchanan was famous for that. It is not patronage. If it was an engineering position and the Tories said, we are going to hire this engineer because he is a Tory, that wasn't what they would do. They would say, we have an engineering position. We are going to hire this Tory who is a labourer and put him in that engineering position. That was the Tory way, Mr. Speaker. God help us all if that is the road we are going down again.

What else do we see? One of the things we see, and I am pleased to see, is the government has expressed their commitment to creating a full office of Aboriginal Affairs, which we hope will be a very effective one and, hopefully, the Minister of Justice will actually start to listen to the native community in this province, rather than fighting with them all the time, that he will actually work with them in cooperation in some of the goals that they are trying to achieve. The question is, support the creation of an office of aboriginal affairs, where is the office for Acadian Affairs? I am wondering if anyone in the government would be able to answer that, Mr. Speaker, because they seem to have completely forgotten about the Acadians in this province?

[Page 2707]

How ironic to see who the minister responsible is, who has forgotten about this. He is an Acadian himself, the Minister of Finance, in terms, probably the most powerful minister in this government. He allowed the Acadian community to go almost a full year without any representation in what was known as the Secretariat for Acadian Affairs; one year with no executive director, no staff. Yet, the minister would still stand in this House and say he was the Minister for Acadian Affairs. So what does he do? He turns around and then says, well, I would like an advisory committee to tell me what the Acadian community wants. So we all expect he is going to do, like every other department would do, put out an ad in the paper under Agencies, Boards and Commissions, say like a ministerial advisory committee and allow Nova Scotians throughout this province to apply to this board and to be able to contribute to this process.

Instead what did the minister do? He stood in this House, has his release, I have personally appointed, or I would say, in this case, I have personally anointed my own advisory committee. That is unheard of in this province for a Minister of the Crown to absolutely subvert the human resources process and not even give Nova Scotians the opportunity to participate in this process. The minister himself said, I will choose you, you, you. I will personally decide who is going to be on that advisory committee. That is what the Minister of Finance said, the Minister responsible for Acadian Affairs.

If the member for Sackville-Beaver Bank has some more information or feels that that was the appropriate process, I would be more than happy to hear from him and to explain to the Acadian community, those Acadians throughout the province who would have wanted to participate in this process, why they weren't even given the opportunity by this minister. I would tell you, Mr. Speaker, it was just another example of the arrogance and disdain that that minister and this government have shown for the democratic process here in this province. (Interruption)

The member for Sackville-Beaver Bank says the Minister of Finance was very slippery. I fully agree with him that slippery is the proper term, according to him, to describe the Minister of Finance. Even his own colleague recognizes what a slippery process the Minister of Finance used for the Acadian community. It's a pretty sad day when your own backbenchers start calling you slippery. Even your own backbench says you have been slippery, and that's exactly what the Minister of Finance did to the Acadian community.

So, we had to endure that; now what does he do? He says, I am going to appoint a temporary Executive Director for Acadian Affairs. Temporary executive director? He has just gone almost one year with no executive director, now he waits all this time to tell us he is going to appoint a temporary executive director just until the Acadian community decides when we should appoint a full-time director.

[Page 2708]

Clearly, Mr. Speaker, this government needs to be able to go to the Human Resources Committee to be able to hear from the full Acadian community, not his own anointed representatives. I am not questioning their qualifications; they are all very qualified and dedicated to the Acadian community. But the fact that the minister didn't even allow or follow the appropriate process, as the member for Sackville-Beaver Bank has clearly said, it was slippery on behalf of the Minister of Finance, and I have to fully agree with that member, that is exactly the term. I could think of other terms, but slippery clearly is a good way of describing what the Minister of Finance did to the Acadian community in appointing that board.

MR. BARRY BARNET: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order, the honourable member is saying that I said something. It is absolutely untrue. There is nowhere in this record that I have said anything such as that and the member is making the whole thing up. It is just another fabrication from the member opposite and he ought to apologize to me and to this House for fabricating such nonsense and gobbledegook.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member for Sackville-Beaver Bank rose on a point of order. It is not a point of order, but however, a point of clarification.

The honourable member for Richmond has the floor. You have approximately two minutes. (Interruption) I'm sorry, no. The honourable member for Richmond has the floor.

MR. SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, thank you for that very good ruling. Certainly, if the member for Sackville-Beaver Bank wishes to stand and speak on Bill No. 20 and tell us why it is such a wonderful bill, I certainly look forward to hearing his comments. Hopefully from now on, he will learn to maybe be a little bit more quiet when members from the Opposition are speaking. If he wants to call his own Minister of Finance slippery in his own dealings, that is his own right and I respect that. I am not surprised at all to hear that member say that.

It gets more interesting, Mr. Speaker. Not only was the minister, as the member for Sackville-Beaver Bank said, slippery in his appointment process of his advisory committee, when he appointed a temporary executive director . . .

MR. BARRY BARNET: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order, the honourable member stands over there and says that I called the Minister of Finance slippery. He knows it is absolutely untrue. He is misleading this House and he ought to deal with truth and facts rather than this fiction, this fabrication. The member continues to say that I said that, and that is absolutely not the case. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member for Sackville-Beaver Bank certainly clarified facts as to the way he sees them. It is a disagreement of facts between the two members.

[Page 2709]

The honourable member for Richmond has the floor.

MR. SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, I believe for the member, there is a drugstore just down the street and I believe they have some soothers over there, so maybe the member in his spare time could go pick one up.

Mr. Speaker, as I was saying, not only was it that the Minister responsible for Acadian Affairs - and clearly when speaking about that, the member shouted out the word slippery and I fully agreed with him that it was slippery - appointed a temporary executive director; didn't go out to competition; didn't have a posting in the paper to allow people to apply. Once again, the minister decided - I am going to appoint my own temporary executive director. He comes out, puts the release out, tells about all the qualifications that this gentleman has. I have no doubt, his qualification are clearly good, I am sure he is a good Acadian. How ironic, after doing a bit of research, it appears that this same gentleman happened to be one of the assistants of a former MP called Mark Muise. Can you imagine? How ironic.

[5:00 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I am quite willing to allow the honourable member for Richmond a lot of latitude in this discussion, but I would ask him to bring his comments back to the amendment motion, which is to refer Bill No. 20 to the Human Resources Committee. Some of the comments the honourable member is making have no relevance to the matter before the House.

The honourable member for Richmond has the floor.

MR. SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, allow me to explain. What I am trying to point out is, with Bill No. 20, there is absolutely no mention of what this government plans on doing with the office of Acadian Affairs. They have clearly said they are going to have an office of Aboriginal Affairs. There is no mention of what they are doing with the office or the Secretariat of Acadian Affairs. The reason why we support this amendment of Bill No. 20 would be to allow this bill to go back to the Human Resources Committee, allow the Acadian community to come forward, each Acadian with the right to come forward, and to be able to say exactly what they feel this government is doing for the Acadian community in this province, which I would point out to you, in my own humble opinion, is little to absolutely nothing.

That is why I am pointing out here some of the issues why Nova Scotians would want to come to the Human Resources Committee, go around the province, hear from Nova Scotians about their concerns on Bill No. 20. It is clear that even some of the members of the backbench, the member for Sackville-Beaver Bank and others, also have concerns about

[Page 2710]

where Bill No. 20 is going and what this government intends to do with the restructuring of the government process here in this province.

One of the other departments is affected in this bill, with the creation of Nova Scotia Business Inc. What does this do for Richmond County? I will speak as the MLA for Richmond. This government decided to appoint 12 people on this board, 12 unelected Nova Scotians to sit on this board to tell government where they should be giving out money to businesses in this province. Which area, outside of metro, has the greatest potential for economic development in this province? I think you know that answer; I think the Minister of Tourism and Culture knows that answer; I think the minister from Antigonish, the Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations knows the answer; I think the MLA for Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury knows the answer to that. I certainly know the answer to that, and the people of Richmond County and the entire Strait area know the answer to that.

Your one area outside metro that stands the greatest potential of growing has absolutely no voice on Nova Scotia Business Inc. In fact, between New Glasgow and Sydney, there is no representation for any of those counties, be it Antigonish, Guysborough, Victoria, Inverness or Richmond; no representation at all, not even a voice on there. One could argue, maybe the government might want to say, there were no applications from that area, they have been known to say that in the past, when the Opposition has indicated these concerns. I can tell you, the Minister of Tourism and Culture knows that is not true; I know that is not true. I know there was a very qualified applicant from the Strait area. In fact, I know that that applicant went to see the Minister of Tourism and Culture, indicated to him his interest, and asked the Minister of Tourism and Culture, should I put my name forward?

Mr. Speaker, this gentleman has been involved in community and in small business development in the Strait area for a number of years, has been a leader in that area, has been a tremendous asset, and he has been a good friend, not only to myself but to members in the government. I am sure they will stand in their place and say that themselves, that in their dealings with him he has been a very fair individual; he has been a very unbiased individual; and he has always put the interests of the people in the Strait area first.

Yet, how can it be that that individual was not appointed to Nova Scotia Business Inc.? How can it be that after speaking to the Minister of Tourism and Culture, going and telling him, look, I am concerned about this; I am concerned about Nova Scotia Business Inc.; it is essential that we have strong voice from the Strait area; I am thinking about putting my name forward; do you think it is a good idea? He went to see the Minister of Tourism and Culture, and he was told, I think it is a great idea. He came to see me, I told him I think it is a wonderful idea and I think you would be a wonderful asset to that board. I believe he might have even gone to speak to the MLA for Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury, but I can't be sure

[Page 2711]

on that one, but I know the Minister of Tourism has nodded, he acknowledges that he was contacted and that he spoke favourably, yet how can it be, out of 12 individuals, 5 counties in this province are left without a voice? How can it possibly be?

The worst thing is the embarrassment that this has caused to that particular gentleman. That gentleman is a civil servant, he did not stand to benefit in any way personally from serving on this. In fact, it would have probably been an inconvenience for him, but in order to put the interests of the Strait area first, he was willing to do that. He even went to see the Minister of Tourism and Culture to ask him if he thought it was a good idea and he wasn't even sure if he would put his name forward. Yet, what does this government do? They slap him in the face and don't even give him the decency of allowing him to stand there as a voice for the Strait area. So, the government can't say in this case there were no qualified applicants from the Strait area and I would challenge any member from that side to stand in this House and to tell the people of the Strait area that that particular person was not a qualified applicant to sit on that board.

Clearly, Bill No. 20, by putting together Nova Scotia Business Inc. and by allowing five counties - my honourable colleague, the member for Victoria, another wonderful county - Inverness, Richmond, Guysborough, Antigonish - not a voice. So what is happening in those counties? Not much. We are the home of offshore gas (interruption) yes, yes, another good name, but there are a few things happening; we have StoraEnso who underwent the largest industrial expansion in the history of this province; we have Statia Terminals with their tank farm which is one of the largest growing industries - and is possibly looking at an expansion; we have the Nova Scotia Power generating station there, the fractionation plant is in Point Tupper. That is where the gas comes when it comes from Melford in Guysborough County; it comes straight over to Point Tupper where it is processed, and then it is shipped out in liquid form. And we wonder why there is no petrochemical industry in this province.

We can't even get them to appoint a representative to Nova Scotia Business Inc. Now, through Bill No. 20, they have Nova Scotia Business Inc., they have gutted the Department of Economic Development, it is almost a farce now to write to the Department of Economic Development. Because do you know what? This government has sent out a clear message - if you are a small business in Nova Scotia and you are looking for $5,000, $10,000, $20,000, even $50,000, you will not get a cent from this government. I challenge this government and that minster to table in this House - since they have been elected and especially in the last fiscal year - how many times they have given assistance to small businesses in this province.

If you look at their annual report, it is $100,000, it is $500,000, it is $1 million, $2 million, $3 million, even $20 million, but no $5,000, no $10,000, no $50,000. Through Bill No. 20, this government is legislating their abandonment of small business in this province. I don't need to tell you, small business is what fuels the economy of our province, especially in rural Nova Scotia it is the small businesses that make this happen. For this government to say, we don't have money for you unless you are coming looking for at least $100,000-plus,

[Page 2712]

what kind of message does that send? What message does that send to Richmond County? Communities such as Arichat, St. Peters, L'Ardoise, River Bourgeois, Louisdale, Lower River, Evanston? What does that say to them? It says that this government has abandoned small business. They have gone back to the Buchanan days, the old Tory days of big business, big dreams, we are going to have one big company come in and solve all of your ills. That is what they are holding out for. They are holding out for the great, big company - maybe an oil refinery, another paper mill, another pulp mill - that is what they are waiting for. Small business - if you can't survive on your own, if you are looking to expand, we are not interested. We don't want to deal with you.

Shameful. (Interruption) That is a very good question about who was asked to sit on that board. I am even told that the representative for Cape Breton did not even apply to be on the Nova Scotia Business Inc., but was, in fact anointed by the Tories. Another example of how this government is operating. I look forward and I hope that the Minister of Tourism will have the decency to go and apologize to the applicant from the Strait area, and say, I am sorry, you came to see me and I told you I would give you my support, but I was voiceless in Cabinet. I was not able to speak for you or for the Strait area and the Strait area through myself and the Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations were unable. Two Cabinet Ministers were unable to get one representative for the Strait area. It is shameful and that is where this government is going with economic development in this province. As I said before, just the merging of these departments, ask Nova Scotians, ask the Fisheries sector. Do they feel that merging Fisheries and Agriculture is a wise idea and they are getting better representation now?

During budget estimates, ask the Minister of Fisheries how much crab was landed last season? I don't know. How many processing plants do we have that process crab in this province? I don't know. How many people work at processing crab in this province? I don't know. How many licences are there? I don't know. That is the Minister of Fisheries. One of the fastest growing industries in this province, where the industry and communities have fought to try to make sure that the jobs were kept here, yet the minister had absolutely no idea.

You yourself know, Mr. Deputy Speaker, as the MLA for Cape Breton East, the benefit that the processing of crab and the fishery has brought to your own community. You know yourself, I am sure you had hoped to see more processing jobs for your own community, as would I for my community. It is a shame that this government sits in silence as our own natural resources continue to be shipped out of this province to employ Canadians outside of Nova Scotia and this government is doing absolutely nothing, like the Minister of Education on educational issues, they stick their head in the sand. Hear no evil, see no evil, and hope it all goes away. What a shameful, unfortunate way to govern.

[Page 2713]

By sending Bill No. 20 to the Human Resources Committee, it may actually also, Mr. Speaker, be a golden opportunity for the residents from the Strait area, for example, to talk to the Minister of Health about the fact that there has been no emergency room physician at that hospital for 130 days. Now, I believe, it is 135 days, if I am not mistaken. The Human Resources Committee could hear that and they could hear from the government to tell them how Bill No. 20 is going to assist in the areas of physician recruitment in this province because the minister refuses to put any additional resources, citing ancient numbers to say that he has had success.

Like the Minister of Agriculture who won't admit his department was gutted on front-line services for farmers in this province, the Minister of Health refuses to acknowledge that there is a serious physician shortage in this province that needs to be addressed immediately and our current efforts, clearly, are not sufficient and must be enhanced and added to. That would be why, if we sent this back to the Human Resources Committee, all of those issues could be dealt with.

Mr. Speaker, if you have any doubt about how this government has abandoned small businesses, you can see that Bill No. 20 actually repeals the Small Business Development Act. It is not just me saying they have evil intentions when it comes to abandoning small business, they have stated in the bill itself that they are repealing this most important Act. What message does that send out? I know, at least on this side of the House, anyone who has written for their small business to the Minister of Economic Development, or any of his agents, it is the same answer - I think it is a form letter now - thank you for your application. I wish you success. You do not qualify for funding for your $10,000 expansion that would hire two more people in your business. Yet, when they see the annual report, if would ask the companies that are listed there, $100,000 $0.5 million, $1 million, $2 million, $3 million, those are fine. Once again, it goes to the point that I was trying to say, that this government has turned away from creating one job at a time. It would rather go with the Tory dream of bringing 1,000 at once and, in a few years, hope that it is still actually operating.

Mr. Speaker, small business is the backbone of this province. They have been here for years. They are the businesses that set up in their communities, that stay in their communities, and employ people in their own communities. It is essential that, with this amendment, the small businesses throughout this province be given an opportunity to actually tell this government what their concerns are and to ensure that Bill No. 20 is not going to diminish or remove the support for small business. As I have said earlier, I would challenge the Minister of Economic Development to table in this House exactly how many small businesses, in the last fiscal year, they have actually provided financial assistance to.

[Page 2714]

[5:15 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, the other thing is, by sending Bill No. 20, to organization, it would be a chance for the Human Resources Committee, for Nova Scotians, especially people in Richmond County to tell the Minister of Transportation and Public Works what their concerns are. Department of Transportation and Public Works, maybe it is time we have a merging of that department, because it appears that the minister - there is no paving going on - when it comes to the issue of Highway No. 101, is more interested in telling us about some brush cutting and a bit of cutting and cleaning that he has done on the side of the road than actually laying down asphalt. (Interruptions)

We have decided to call him the minister responsible for landscaping. Maybe that should be a new department in Bill No. 20, because when it comes to Highway No. 101 and when it comes to other paving projects, we see absolutely nothing being done. There is lots of brush cutting going on. He keeps telling us, if you take a drive through there, you can see them, they are cutting trees, they are cutting the brush and they are cleaning the sides of the road, lots of that going on, all the while our roads continue to be in a disastrous shape, from one end of this province to the next.

We could also have the Minister of Tourism and Culture tell us exactly how he expects Nova Scotia to have another successful tourist season with the state of the roads we have in this province. All we can hope is all the tourists who come here don't speak to anyone else who has been here before them this year. That is our best hope, that if you are coming from Maine, when you come here you don't ask anyone else who has been here before you, because if they do, they are going say, my God, if you value your vehicle, you won't go to Nova Scotia, because of the state of their roads. It is going to cost you more to come on vacation to Nova Scotia because of the damage that will be done to your vehicle, your camper or whatever other means they are travelling by.

Yet this government simply just doesn't acknowledge the situation that is going on. In fact, the Minister of Transportation and Public Works blames Mother Nature, that is who is to blame for all his woes and for the fact they have done absolutely nothing. It would be an opportunity for him to explain why they said in their blue book they would give all revenues from gasoline and fuel taxes, license registration and vehicle registration, and that they would dedicate it to the roads and road maintenance in this province. New asphalt. (Interruptions) The year of the road, and all we hear about is landscaping from this minister.

Mr. Speaker, one of the chambers of commerce, I believe all members got a copy of it, $250 million is what was raised by license registration, vehicle registration, and fuel and oil taxes in this province. Yet what is the budget for the Department of Transportation and Public Works, when it comes to road maintenance and new paving, $60 million. They raised $250 million and they are spending $60 million. If you ask the Minister of Transportation

[Page 2715]

and Public Works, blame it on Ottawa, blame it on the feds. That is all he can do, blame it on the feds, I will spend money when they spend money.

Mr. Speaker, I am sure, if we send Bill No. 20 to the Human Resources Committee, they would have a chance to canvass Nova Scotians. I am sure they would have some very interesting comments to make to the Minister of Transportation and Public Works with regard to that restructuring, and why with the restructuring of all their departments, they have not found some way to put together a department and a minister who would actually take care of the roads throughout this province.

In communities throughout my entire constituency, like so many other constituencies, the roads are in absolutely deplorable shape. I would go so far as to say, it has now become a hazard to travel on certain roads throughout this province. There have been numerous accidents in my own county because of the deplorable condition of roads. If you ask the Minister of Transportation and Public Works, well, we have all sorts of money for ditching and gravelling, that should make it better. That is just wonderful for communities like Arichat and communities like L'Ardoise and communities like River Bourgeois, that there is going to be ditching and gravelling. That is great for their pavement. That is just going to do a wonderful thing to assist them.

M. le président je vous dire que la loi numéro 20 et vraiment l'exemple où ce gouvernement est entrainde dire à Nouvelle-Écosse où ce qu'il vous allé avec cette province. Non c'est pas même proche de ce que leurs ont dit de l'élection de 1999 quand ils ont demandés aux jeunes de la Nouvelle-Écosse de les élire comme un gouvernement. Pas même proche. Ça pris, ça prend l'opposition c'est travail à plein temps pour l'opposition pour leur travers de différentes lois qui ont étaient présentés dans cette maison et pour présente aux juenes de la Nouvelle-Écosse un vrai portrait d'où ce gouvernement veut aller avec cette province. J'ai dèja parlé monsieur président pour le bureau des affaires acadienes. Le ministre responsable, un acadien lui même, qu'est qu'il a fait pour le bureau des affaires acadiens on était au-dessous de neuf mois proche d'un an sans même un directeur de notre bureau des affaires acadien. Il n'y a personne là c'est une chambre vide. On avait un ministre responsible pour une chambre vide il n'y avait personne là des affaires acadiens. Alors après un mois qu'est ce qu'il a dit mais mais dit là je vais me pointer un comité qui va m'adviser sur les différents questions , les différents causes qui la de la communauté acadienne .

Est-ce qu'il a dit je vais aller je veux faire comme, qui faite traditionnellement pour avoir des applications de travers de communautés des ressources humains, non non non pas ce ministre ici. Ce ministre de finance il a dit je veux choisir au travers de province je veux me trouver dix ou douce personnes je vais décidé qu'ils sont d'où ils viennent et sais moi-même qui va décider qu'est qui c'est va m'adviser. Je penset que ca, ca n'est jamais était fait dans cette province et je m'était fait au fin de mes trois ans que j'étais ici dans ce maison. Mais c'est vraiment un exemple de la direction que le ministre de finance prend pour la communauté acadienne. C'est pas à dire je vous que toute la communauté puisse

[Page 2716]

HON. NEIL LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. For the edification of the members of the House, the member for Richmond has made mention that I have an advisory committee, in my capacity as Minister responsible for Acadian Affairs. He makes mention that I have just chosen people at whim throughout the province. I would like for him, for the edification of the members of the House, to indicate which of the members I appointed, that he would feel is inadequate in that capacity. I challenge the member - because he has done this many times - to do that.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Obviously this is not a point of order. (Interruption) There is a question being posed it is not a point of order. The member for Richmond has the floor.

MR. LEBLANC: Who's inadequate?

MR. SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, those who are on the committee, there are none who are inadequate.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SAMSON: It is the hundreds and thousands of Acadians, of your own people throughout this province, that you denied the opportunity to present themselves for this (Interruptions)

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

MR. SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, as I said, it is the hundreds and thousands of Acadians throughout this province that he denied the opportunity to present themselves to be on this advisory committee. That is what (Interruptions) Well, the member for Halifax Bedford Basin says we can't all be on the committee. Well, let her stand in her place and say that she supports this affront to democracy in this province. Our whole system has been based on allowing Nova Scotians (Interruption) The member for Preston is making some sort of whang sound. It is the most we have heard from him this session, other than being the Wal-Mart greeter over by the door.

The whole point here is that our whole system has been that we allow all Nova Scotians the opportunity to apply for positions on boards in this province. Yet this minister's own arrogance was, I am not going to allow my own people, my own Acadians come forward and ask to be members of this committee. I will decide - I the great one - as to who should be on this committee. I will decide who is qualified and who is not qualified and if you want to be on this committee, sorry, I will decide who is going to be on this committee because I am the almighty Minister of Finance.

[Page 2717]

What does he do when it comes to the executive director? For nine months there was no one in that office, a minister responsible for an empty office is what he was when it came to Acadian Affairs. His executive assistant was the only person who even attempted to run that office. I know he did his best but it was not his job, it was a job that should have had a permanent executive director. If you want to see competence and efficiency in this government - nine months, no director - and what does he say now? I am going to appoint a temporary executive director until I have the chance to go look for a full executive director.

That is efficiency? Yet, who does he go look for? Does he put out an ad asking Acadians throughout this province if they would be interested in applying for this? No, he goes to look for an out-of-work Tory, a former assistant to MP Mark Muise who was well defeated in the last election by l'honorable Robert Thibault, and he says that is who will be the Executive Director of Acadian Affairs, rife with politics is what we already see from this minister.

Yet the member for Halifax Bedford Basin and others say what a wonderful thing it is, just an affront to democracy, what a wonderful thing. Already they are abandoning the human resources process, which is why Bill No. 20 should be sent to the Human Resources Committee, to allow that committee to go throughout this province and to actually hear the concerns of Nova Scotians, to hear how the Acadian community, what an affront it was to them. The Minister responsible for Acadian Affairs thinks he has done well, yet no one is impressed. No one is impressed. We have the Acadian Congress, the congrès mondial coming to this province in 2004. This government doesn't even have a plan to address that, something which is going to bring a tremendous amount of revenue to this province, and it has absolutely no plan. The Minsiter responsible for Acadian Affairs has absolutely no plan to even deal with these types of events.

Comme je l'ai dit monsieur le présidente ce gouvernement conservateur abondait les principes des démocracie dans ce province comme le ministre de finance nous a démontré ministre de finance continué à nous dire que c'est année qu'on va voir encore un défecit pas un defecit mais qu'il va mettre 91 million sous la dette de la province et la il va mettre de cette position et dire qu'il parle pour les jeunes de cette province pour les enfants de cette province pour pouvoir à dit ce gouvernement vers choix vous avez un choix de décider où est-ce qu'ils voulons faire des investiments de cette province et ils ont décidé, le ministre de finance lui-même a décidé qu'il voulait mettre encore cet année 91 millon sur la dette de cette province. Il doit avoir hônte monsieur le présidente mais on voit ce gouvernement a dit ils ont dit tous sans ce qu'ils ont pu.

Dans l'election de l'année 1999 pour se faire et lire. Mais je vais vous dire monsieur président que le ministre de finance lui, il connait bien comment ce jeu le travail. Est-ce qu'il a était bien enseigner pendant ces jours comme ministre du gouvernement Buchan. Mais là il ne faut pas parler de ça monsieur son passé non non non il a m'a parlé de nos collegues le membre de Lunenburg West mais la lui le ne veut pas parler de ces propre crime quand lui

[Page 2718]

était membre principle de cabinet et de dire quand lui était de membre de cabinet ce gouvernement encore continuer de depenser l'argent qu'en n'avait pas de faim et qu'il laissait cette dette aujourd'hui mais aujourd'hui ils présentent il dit moi je suis la personne que vous devriez avoir confiance avec la finance de cette province.

Alors monsieur le president je peux vous dire que selon moi selon les membre les citoyens de Richmond que je represent cette confiance là, n'est pas là. Je vous l'assure. C'est pourquoi la loi numéro 20 c'est impérative que c'est loi soit envoyer au comité de resource humain alors ces jeunes peuvent aller attraver de la province. Non pas faire comme ministre des affaires acadiens le ministre de finance et dur je vais juste choisir qui peut être sur mon comité pour m'adviser le comité des resources humain pour attraver la province de tous les régions dans tous les coins dans toutes les différentes villages et à donné l'occassion à chaque gens de Nouvelle-Écosse soit que le ministre de finance les aiment ou qu'il les aiment pas, ça eux donnent tout le droit le droit de se présenter leur droit de dire à ce gouvernement les questions qu'ils ont, les problèmes qu'ils ont, et les changes qu'ils veulent faire.

M. le président c'est ça la démocratie. C'est ça que Joseph Howe s'abbattu pour de cette province pour faire certaine qu'on avait. Ça que ça soit votre réligion, votre langue, votre coleur votre famille vous avez toutes la droit de vous présente d'avoir un raport avec cette province et c'est pourquoi selon l'opposition aujourd'hui entredire que la loi numéro 20 ne répresent pas le bien des gens de la Nouvelle-Écosse c'est impératif que ce gouvernement rétourne au comité de resource humain avec le loi numéro 20 donne l'occassion aux gens de la Nouvelle-Écosse d'un bout de cette province à l'autre de se présente et de dire qu'est-ce qui sont leur concerns et la fin de journée je vous assure monsieur président.

Si que ce gouvernement conservateur si que le ministre de finance si que le prémier ministre de cette province les ecoute, et vont voir que la loi numéro 20 n'est pas un bon loi ça ne represent pas les intéret des gens de Nouvelle-Écosse ça ne represente pas pourquoi ils ont élu quand le gouvernement de cette province et la fin de journée ce n'est pas le meilleur intéret de gens de la Nouvelle-Écosse ce n'est pas le loi qui va nous assiter à avoir un futur de cette province et faire la province de Nouvelle-Écosse la meilleure province possible dans cette dans ce pays, et à cause de ça c'est pourquoi je veux supporter la motion qui a était présenté ici à la fin de journée j'éspere que le gouvernement va être responsible et va retirer la loi numéro 20 jusqu'à temps que les gens d'un coin a cette province à l'autre a eux l'occassion de se présente dessus. Mérci, M. le président.

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

MR. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, the information from the Minister of Finance - I will keep my comments to English - but I do treasure the fact that you help us out with some of the comments that the member opposite says on occasion. I think it is a real relevance to know - and the honourable member for Richmond didn't make reference to this

[Page 2719]

you notice - that this is an NDP-sponsored amendment, an NDP-sponsored amendment that is based upon consultation, based upon openness, based upon the fact that Nova Scotians are going to have the opportunity to have their say on a couple of important issues revolving around Bill No. 20

[5:30 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, obviously as you well know, Friday afternoon there was some excitement in this House, some unfortunate excitement when you look back on it, because of the frustrations and the concerns with the people involved with the Nova Scotia Government Employees Union. Over the weekend, you should know, a number of the constituents in Timberlea-Prospect asked me what was going on. I explained to them as best I could that there was basically a boiling-over spot where people were concerned about the fact that they were not being listened to on a bill called Bill No. 20. The fact, of course, is that the interim Leader of the NDP has made a very valued intervention where he has suggested that this bill, because we believe that Nova Scotians should be consulted, has been referred rightly so to the Human Resources Committee, because this is an unprecedented power grab. This is a centralization of power not just to the Cabinet but to the inner core of the Cabinet. I think Cabinet Ministers over there should know that there are a number of Cabinet Ministers who are going to be part of this decision-making process but they are not all going to be part of this power grab.

Mr. Speaker, I would just like to point out for the information of the House, who is actually on the Human Resources Committee. Now the Human Resources Committee is a committee that I have served on on a number of occasions, it is a valued committee, a committee with strong traditions much like the Law Amendments Committee over in the Red Room. The difference between the Law Amendments Committee and the Human Resources Committee is the Human Resources Committee can travel. The Human Resources Committee can get out there in places across Nova Scotia where they would have the opportunity to listen to Nova Scotians on some of the concerns that have been brought to my attention and to the attention of members over there about Bill No. 20.

Let's see who is on this committee. It is chaired, incidently, by a gentleman with a great deal of fairness in his resumé, the good member for Kings North. The good member for Kings North who has expressed, on the times that I have served on the committee, frustrations with the process of appointing various Nova Scotians to the ABCs, as we call them. I remember our deceased good friend from Halifax Fairview, Ms. O'Connell, if I may use her name in this House in that manner. Eileen, of course, brought forth and actually served on, I believe, a subcommittee, or was serving on a subcommittee, that that good chairman said that we should look at more carefully some of the more open and fair ways to deal with things in the Human Resources Committee.

[Page 2720]

So I would say that we have a committee chairman who is open-minded, who wants to consult and listen to Nova Scotians. That chairman in particular, I have noticed, has become quite a journalist. I must tell you that when I pick up The Daily News and, I know that that particular chairman of this Human Resources Committee writes exclusively, it seems, for The Daily News and he, at times, obviously has points of view which he believes that he has to get expressed in writing because, unfortunately, it seems that he can't do it here in the House. Then we have other occasions when you pick up comments in late debate, some of the resolutions that that member has brought forth in this House, some of the committee meetings that the Human Resources Chairman has held have been fair and open. I am sure that that chairman, very capably, could determine some destinations around this province that would be appropriate so that Nova Scotians with concerns, Nova Scotians in his own riding, Nova Scotians in other parts of this province would have an opportunity to express their opinions to that chairman.

I know there are constituents in Timberlea-Prospect, Mr. Speaker, who would like to have the opportunity to speak to that chairman. They read what he writes in The Daily News. They hear him on other topics outside of this House, being quite outspoken. So it would be a good opportunity for the chairman to show the initiative and to have this particular piece of legislation brought forward to the Human Resources Committee.

Let's look at the other members that are members of this committee. We have the good member for Dartmouth South, who apparently, it has been said, has a reputation for working for and listening to the constituents of his particular area. We have, of course, the member for Eastern Shore. If we look at reputations, the member for Eastern Shore and some of the excellent work that he did as a municipal councillor, it would be a wonderful opportunity for that member, as a member of the Human Resources Committee, to suggest to the chairman, I think, that a good place to take the Human Resources Committee to look at Bill No. 20 could be, perhaps, at the Musquodoboit Harbour Arena. It would be an opportunity for that good member for Eastern Shore, with the reputation that he had in municipal government, and that would be an opportunity for the Human Resources Committee to meet in his very own community so that he could listen to and speak up for the concerns of the constituents of Eastern Shore.

We have the member for Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury who, again, represents an important part of this province, a part of this province with a future, that the people of that area would like to have the opportunity to talk about certain parts of Bill No. 20. But there is a certain member who is also on that committee and that is the good member for Sackville-Beaver Bank. That member for Sackville-Beaver Bank represents a constituency much like mine. You have the Beaver Bank section, which could be more rural, as I have the Prospect section. You have the more urban section of parts of Sackville. That member, based upon his reputation again, Mr. Speaker, as a municipal councillor, that member I know would have a great opportunity in the community of Sackville, where I, of course, served as a vice-principal of the high school there, to introduce the constituents of Sackville-Beaver Bank.

[Page 2721]

I know that some friends from Sackville-Cobequid would also join them. It would be a wonderful opportunity for the Human Resources Committee to listen to the residents of Sackville-Beaver Bank but, more importantly, to hear the member for Sackville-Beaver Bank who would speak on what he thought about certain clauses in Bill No. 20.

I am sure there are liquor store workers, I am sure there are compliance officers, I am sure that there are other people in the Civil Service who are concerned about some of the implications of Bill No. 20 and it would be a perfect opportunity for the member for Sackville-Beaver Bank, on this occasion, to show to the chairman, to take the Human Resources Committee to the Lion's Club in Sackville, and there will be plenty of people there who would want their say on Bill No. 20. It would also be an opportunity, Mr. Speaker, more importantly, for the member for Sackville-Beaver Bank to be able to stand and have his say in front of his constituents. I know he would do that because he would be in his own community. He would be expected to do that and I know he would. Perhaps he doesn't do it here as much as he wants to, but I know he would do it in the community of Sackville.

Now, the two members of the committee that are most valued, in my opinion, are the members for Halifax Needham and Halifax Fairview. Those two members, members of this caucus, constantly stand in their place in this House. Mr. Speaker, that is a point which I think we should discuss. I am not a veteran of many years in this House, but I am under the impression that when you stand in this House, you are speaking or going to and from a desk. Standing in this House doesn't mean what the member for Preston does. Standing in this House is standing in your place and speaking up on behalf of your constituents. I think that is an important point which I know in your wisdom as the chairman in future decisions will point out that if we stand in this House, we are wanting your attention so we can speak up on behalf of constituents about concerns that we hear.

Those two members I just mentioned, the member for Halifax Needham and for Halifax Fairview, they have stood in their place and they go to this committee meeting and have their say on behalf of their constituents. I think the major concern will always be, of course, that the members of the Standing Committee on Human Resources - all nine of them - would have the opportunity to be able to speak out in their various constituencies and listen to what those constituents actually say.

The concern, of course, with Bill No. 20 is - and I heard one of the members say earlier that he was on a trip to Ottawa and that Nova Scotians were being laughed at. That member was a member of the government at one time and I can tell you, there were a few last laughs had on them, no matter who the federal government was at that time. The concern is that Nova Scotia is the home of the most reorganized government in the country.

As a history teacher, I want to take you through a few of the reorganizations that will only date back to the 1990s. Unlike my good friend for, the member for Halifax Fairview, who looked at the recommendations of McGregor Dawson and Angus L. Macdonald, I am

[Page 2722]

only going to go back as far as 1991, but here we go again. We are reinventing the wheel, the same old same old is going to take place. I am going to refer to this document a number of times, so I will ask the Page when I am finished to perhaps table it for the members opposite who should be aware of this history lesson. Here are some of the highlights from this long and winding road of government reorganization.

On February 26, 1991, then Premier, the member for Pictou East, Donnie Cameron eliminates - are you ready, Mr. Speaker? Small Business, Solicitor General, Mines and Energy, and Advanced Education Departments through amalgamation. Now, there is a word that we have heard enough about in the HRM and, Mr. Speaker, from your experience, CBRM could go through some of the same growing pains. Amalgamate, make it better and here is Donnie Cameron reorganizing things. It says in the release, it achieves a smaller Cabinet, but no longer will we have a separate Housing Minister and by downgrading the Management Board, the body charged with control of spending, the Cabinet has been reduced from 22 to 17. So we have begun that campaign of reorganization in the 1990's.

Incidentally, Donnie Cameron said this - I will table this later - but this is what Donnie Cameron said on February 26, 1991: This is a time for fundamental change in the way our government is managed. Real reform in the actual structures of government, reform that results in a reduction in the actual cost of government, eliminate waste and duplication of services. That was February 26, 1991 and I am sure that the good member for Preston was on a first name basis and a friend of Donnie Cameron's so he is aware of those words, I am sure. That was 10 years ago, but here we go again. Let's have a look.

June 30, 1992, legislation establishes the new Department of Economic Development and the Business Development Corporation. Incidentally, its purpose was to streamline development agencies and to eliminate duplication. The Economic Development Department - and I am sure that the minister who is responsible for Sysco giveaways, I am sure that minister is aware of the fact that the Economic Development Department these days is rather - shall we say? - skeletal when it comes to its responsibilities.

Let's move on here. There is obviously a change of government because those Savage Liberals, and isn't that an appropriate way to call it, take over and on September 7, 1993, the first budget of that Liberal Government states: We are committed to reviewing the operations of all Crown Corporations and agencies, boards and commissions of government. We must ask two fundamental questions. Are these operations essential for government and are they operating as efficiently as possible? Again, I will be tabling that for the Pages here in a few moments. I am sure that members of the Liberal Third Party might be interested in the reorganization that took place under those Savage Liberals.

[Page 2723]

[5:45 p.m.]

September 7th of that same year, 1993, John Savage announces a 25 per cent reduction in paper consumption in all government offices to take place over the next year and save over $280,000. The then Premier says: It makes sense across the board, economically, socially and environmentally. We are reorganizing it one more time when, two days later, on September 9th, Premier Savage announces the departure of nine deputy ministers, part of what he calls the government's initiative to revitalize the Public Service of Nova Scotia, part of his government's commitment to change the way the province is administered.

If we continue on, you will know that on November 25, 1993, legislation, at the time, is introduced in this hallowed Chamber, which establishes the Priorities and Planning Committee to replace the former Policy Board and Management Board, simplifying government and eliminating duplication. So it is the same old same old. It is Liberal-Tory same old story. They are always reorganizing the seats on the Titanic. It is just making sure that when and if the ship goes down, everybody has a seat at the Cabinet Table.

If we look at June 30, 1994, we come to this department that seems to sort of come and go. It depends on the tide because, of course, they deal with that issue and that, of course, is the Tourism and Economic Development Department. On June 30, 1994, legislation is enacted to eliminate the Department of Tourism and Culture, making it the new Department of Economic Development and Tourism, Education and Culture. Now, there was a major shift in policy. We then had Economic Development. We had one of the major industries in this province and we had our Education Department all rolled into one. A Nova Scotia marketing agency had been established to merge all marketing by the government at the same time.

We haven't finished, Mr. Speaker. This history lesson continues. I know members opposite and members of the Third Party will be interested in this history lesson, and this is only the 1990's. March 7, 1996, Premier Savage is still around, although we are working on getting rid of him. I wasn't working on getting rid of him, but there were certain people working on getting rid of him. John Savage eliminates the Department of Supply and Services and the Department of Housing and Consumer Affairs. This time the reason is, and I am going to quote what Premier Savage says, "To provide fast, effective, responsive, user-friendly services that are easily accessible to all Nova Scotians . . .", and here comes that word again, ". . . through an amalgamation of nine agencies into one service unit.". We, again, seem to be reorganizing, making sure there are enough seats on the deck of the Titanic.

But let's get a little bit more recent here. On November 26, 1997, Premier Russell MacLellan, now some of us remember that gentleman, announces, "Government has to get off the back and out of the face of business. That is why the Government of Nova Scotia will proceed with legislation to cut red tape." He never once asked the good member for Sackville-Beaver Bank to serve on any commission, "We will accelerate the efforts to

[Page 2724]

streamline and eliminate unnecessary licenses, permits and other annoying, costly and cumbersome bureaucracy". Now, Mr. Speaker, that was Premier MacLellan's attempt.

August 1999, the Honourable John Hamm, the new Premier of this province, Dr. Hamm, the member for Pictou Centre, re-establishes the Department of Tourism and Culture - which, of course, if you have been following my history lesson, had been eliminated in 1994 as part of the restructuring - to achieve an even more efficient government. Mr. Speaker, do you see what I mean? There is a member standing. I am assuming he wants the floor but no, he doesn't, okay. (Interruption) No, it is all right.

Now, here we are again, Mr. Speaker. As we sit in this House, or stand in this House in my particular situation, we stand in this House and we are going through another attempt to restructure government. Now the question always has to be, if it ain't broke, why fix it. Now it seems to me that there has been enough duct tape on some of these changes that Red Green, that star of TV and radio, would be impressed with all the changes that have taken place here over how many years? Don't forget, that is only over 10 years.

So the question is, why. That is what I would like to turn to now. I think we have to ask some whys here. Why does the Cabinet need to scrap the rule that you put a limit on how many government department it can create in secret? Why? Nova Scotians want to know that. Why does the Cabinet need to give itself the power to interfere in the operations of any department, any agency, any board or commission, even those that are supposed to be at arm's-length from the government? There is a question that Nova Scotians want to be able to ask the Human Resources Committee. Why? Why does the Cabinet need the power to interfere in all contract negotiations within the public sector? That is a concern that the members who we heard here on Friday would like to be able to ask the Human Resources Committee.

Why, Nova Scotians ask, why does Cabinet need the sole power to define what constitutes the public sector? That is the heart and soul of this legislation. Those are the questions that Nova Scotians are going to want answered and this amendment, introduced by my Leader of this Party, is a fine amendment because it will allow Nova Scotians the opportunity to ask those questions.

More importantly, what is the long-term effect of making the Liquor Commission into a Crown Corporation? Is that, after all, a preparation for privatization? That is a concern that all public workers are concerned about. Perhaps most importantly, Nova Scotians would like to know, why does the Cabinet want to move important decisions, taking power out of the public realm in the Legislature, into the secrecy, as my good friend, the member for Sackville-Cobequid says, down in the blue chamber with the blue curtains?

AN HON. MEMBER: In the bunker.

[Page 2725]

MR. ESTABROOKS: In the bunker. More and more of the tough decisions have to be made in secret and in private as opposed to in public, to be able to be justified in this Legislature.

Now who are some of the workers, who are some of the Nova Scotians who would like to bring up some of those questions? Let's just think about it, Mr. Speaker. Who might they be? Well, if you work at Digby Pines or Liscombe Lodge, and I am sure that if you are there as a summer employee or if you work there on another long-term basis, you would like to know, why are some of these decisions going to be made secretly? Can they not be justified publicly?

If you are a highway worker, and you have heard, of course, you have heard of highway workers and their concern about privatization. Now, Mr. Speaker, I have been reassured by the Minister of Transportation and Public Works that the particular area that I represent will no longer be the model test case for privatization. But the concern is out there among highway workers because they are concerned that privatization, whether it comes to salting and sanding of roads, snow removal, highway repairs, that this is going to be a first step toward privatization.

I will assure that minister, and I will assure the Human Resources Chairman, that if a public meeting is held by the Human Resources Committee anywhere in the constituency of Timberlea-Prospect and the topic is highways, he will fill the gymnasium. But, among that gymnasium regarding all the questions about potholes and priorities and the Peggy's Cove Road and subdivision paving and petitions, there will be highway workers present and those highway workers will have that straightforward approach that they always use when they deal with me as their MLA, what about privatization? Is this government going to go ahead with this? That is the concern that Bill No. 20 brings to these workers' minds, that is the concern that they would love to have the opportunity to address. I am sure that the Human Resources Committee could be put into a situation of listening to those highway workers. There are also those compliance officers, those workers who are concerned about the fact that their particular jobs could be transferred to the RCMP.

Now those are the types of rumours and those are the types of innuendos that we hear from this government. How do you clear up those rumours? How do you deal with innuendos? You deal with them up front, straight ahead and allowing people to have the answers given as clearly as possible. That is the purpose of referring this process to the Human Resources Committee, so that people such as highway workers, compliance officers, would have the opportunity to have their say with this committee.

There is one particular group of workers who I really believe need an opportunity to have a full and public airing about their jobs and that is the liquor store workers. I want you to know that I have been in the occasional liquor store. One of the reasons I was in a liquor store one day - the honourable member for Sackville-Beaver Bank will be somewhat amused

[Page 2726]

by this - part of my job as the vice-principal of Sackville High was to make sure that the liquor store in that particular part of the community was not serving to underage young people. As the vice-principal in that community at the time, I was approached by one of the liquor store workers to come to the liquor store and sit in the back section and watch the young people come and go.

Mr. Speaker, as you are well aware, there is a lucrative business there for older teenagers who will sell to younger teenagers, or even adults who will sell to underage drinkers. But who asked the vice-principal to come and sit in the liquor store on that Friday night, those workers, because those workers were concerned. They can ask for IDs, they can look at it, they can say to them who is this one, which particular student is that, were they using the proper ID of the day, where they using high school IDs. But here is the point, those workers were conscientious enough, professional enough to make sure that they have that concern that they do not want to be put into a position of selling alcohol to underage young people.

Mr. Speaker, those people who conscientiously and dutifully work in those liquor stores, to show that initiative, they in turn should be rewarded with an openness, an openness that reflects that they can be treated professionally. Now, I am sure that the honourable member for Sackville-Beaver Bank has, and not to pick on him but I know he is a Sackville High grad and he was old enough at that time to walk into that liquor store I am sure, but the concern that I come into, you look at that fact and I want to you to look at that fact, that those workers have to be treated professionally. Instead, what do those workers have to worry about? They have to worry about privatization, they have to worry about agency stores, they have to worry about their future for their families and their children. They deserve to have the opportunity to talk in front of the Human Resources Committee and to have their say.

Of course, liquor store workers, along with other Public Service workers, many of them are members of the Nova Scotia Government Employees Union. That Premier on July 24, 1997, when he was the Leader of the Third Party, signed and has re-signed when the election in the summer of 1999 was going on, they signed, all three Leaders at the time, a Five Point Quality Public Service Protection Plan for Nova Scotia.

[6:00 p.m.]

I just want to, if I may, quote from it and, if the Pages wish, I can table it. I just want to use a couple of the key phrases that I have highlighted here for my good eyesight: "A provincial public service will not be privatized or contracted to the private sector without public consultation and without demonstrable evidence . . .", without public consultation. "A decision to privatize or contract out a service will not be made without a full and open review . . ." and finally, Mr. Speaker, "Public sector workers and their representatives and other interested parties shall have standing in the review process."

[Page 2727]

Listen to those words, Mr. Speaker; consult, open, review. Now, it would seem to me that if this is a concern, if this government wants to meet the commitment that was made by their Leader, now their Premier, that there would be open, there would be transparent, there would be a consultative way of dealing with decisions by that government, the Human Resources Committee would be the place to go. It would be the place to go under the chairmanship of the good member for Kings North, with his reputation for fairness and openness and consultation.

Mr. Speaker, I want to turn to a particular section of this bill that is of major concern. For me, as the member for Timberlea-Prospect, I am concerned about having this bill referred to the Human Resources Committee because of Clause 41, Section 6, which gives the government excessive powers. I would just like to, if I may, quote from that for a moment. I hope members opposite, and I assume members opposite - maybe my good friend, the member for Dartmouth North could correct me - but I know that when we stand in our places, we have read the legislation over, but maybe some of those members opposite aren't quite aware of this particular clause.

Clause 41, Section 6 says, "A member of the Executive Council may, subject to the approval of the Governor in Council, enter into an agreement with the Government of Canada or the government of a province, or agency thereof, . . ." - now, so far, so good, but here is the kicker - a member of the Executive Council may enter into an agreement with an, ". . . institution or person, or any of them, providing for a joint undertaking with the Government of Canada or with the government of a province, or any agency thereof, or with any institution or person, or any of them, of any project within the member's mandate under this Act."

That is a carte blanche for negotiation; that is, from what I understand, and when I look at all of those "any's" in there, it's an open invitation for the Cabinet, or the executive of the Cabinet, to decide exactly what they want to do with no need for justification, no need to bring out for public scrutiny some of the very decisions that have to be brought back to this Legislature. That clause allows - and I have heard the reference before - the backroom boys from an earlier era, that have been referred to in this House, to have their say; the unelected people in this province who, in the past, have had too much decision and have had too much influence.

I don't remember some of these people running for elected office. I don't remember Cyril Reddy running in any particular constituency, and I don't remember Dave MacGregor running in any particular constituency, these members who are, after all, part of the staff of the Premier's office, or the caucus office who have no say. If the elected officials come onto the floor of this House, debate the issues, find out the strengths and weaknesses of particular legislation, but Clause 41, Section 6, gives unlimited powers to a handful, which we are much concerned about.

[Page 2728]

The concern, of course, comes down to the power that is centred in one particular member's hand. I am quite aware of the fact that that member has, in the past, I know we have tangled on various topics, whether it is roads or potholes or Public Works with bathrooms that are too large, but the czar of that power grab, the man who is going to pull all the strings as the puppeteer who decides on the decisions which will be brought in through to the Cabinet, the czar of that power-broking system is none other than the good member for Hants West. Now he has much experience and I don't think it is any coincidence that the Premier says, who can really manipulate this? Who knows how to run this show better than probably any member in this House? That, of course, comes from government experience under previous governments, previous governments that date back to, perhaps, the good Senator Buchanan's days. When you have the experience that that minister has and the power that is going to be concentrated in his hands, then I have good reason to share Nova Scotians' concerns about a need for an open and transparent review, as the Human Resources Committee can provide.

Do you remember the promises? I remember the promises. I remember those summer election promises. I remember the one that struck me most was that there would be more free votes in this House, that backbenchers would be able to have their say. I remember promises made by that good member for beautiful Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley, who used to stand in his place so passionately and make the case for using every cent that is raised from any kind of license when it comes to motor vehicles, when it comes to the gas tax, and to use that, plow it back into the roads, and excuse me for that expression plow because some of them are soon going to have chaff of wheat coming up through them with some of the cracks that I travelled over this morning on the way back up the Prospect Road.

I want you to know that those were some of the promises, the promises that were made in that summer campaign, that were given on the doorsteps of those members opposite, that this was going to be an open government, that we were going to consult with Nova Scotians. Well, Mr. Speaker, here is a perfect opportunity to consult. My Leader of this Party has suggested that we refer this legislation to the Human Resources Committee. The Human Resources Committee has a perfect opportunity and I want members opposite to know, as my friend for Dartmouth North said, that is why I am in this House. That is why I am here, to bring those concerns forward. I encourage members opposite to continue to bring issues to our attention, to make sure that we raise the issues that will be consulted.

I want to bring a couple of them to the Cabinet Minister's attention now, if I could, Mr. Speaker. I want you to know that there is a very active group in the community that I represent who have major concerns about the ministerial order issued by the Minister of Environment and Labour concerning restrictions to the New Era Farms composting facility in Goodwood. What a wonderful opportunity. That particular minister has given me the commitment that he will travel, after the House rises, but he gave me the commitment that he will go and meet with the people who are concerned about the ongoing problem with the New Era Farms.

[Page 2729]

You know, that really wouldn't be necessary because that minister could tag along when the Human Resources Committee, perhaps, meets at Golda's Cafe for an afternoon session, well advertised in the community. I know that the Minister of Environment and Labour, another one of those reorganized, rejigged seats on the good ship Titanic, that that minister could come to that meeting at that time and have a perfect opportunity to listen to the residents of the Prospect Road on that concern. I know that the Minister of Tourism and Culture, conscientious, young minister that he is, with the many responsibilities that he has, it would be a wonderful opportunity if that particular Cabinet Minister could come, perhaps we could go to Peggy's Cove, and we could review a couple of major concerns. The fact, of course, that there are still no rock patrollers there, with tour buses arriving daily.

It would be very interesting for the Minister of Tourism and Culture, perhaps, to explain to the people who live in that part of my constituency, the major concern that they have, about the rotten road that they have to travel to the most highly-publicized, highly-advertised location for tourism on the East Coast of Nova Scotia, the East Coast of Canada, and maybe the East Coast of North America. That lighthouse adorns more literature that is put forward by our Department of Tourism and Culture than probably any other piece of literature that comes from that department, so the Minister of Tourism should know that I will continue to bring these issues forward. But it would be just as easy for the Human Resources Committee to have the opportunity, because let's face it, what is the department recently that has been made, unmade and re-made? This is a special department.

Mr. Speaker, when I was asked to comment on the creation of that special department, I, unlike the members of the Third Party, didn't make sarcastic comments about the member for Inverness, how he didn't have enough to do and all that sort of thing. I am fully aware of the importance - and it is something that I supported at the time and support today - of having a separate Ministry of Tourism and Culture. It is important to make sure that the tourist operators in this province have the opportunity to deal with a minister who knows the issues and isn't going to be sidetracked by other things, perhaps, like Economic Development, perhaps, like Education and Culture.

The Tourism Ministry is of importance but it would be just as fair if that minister could come with the Human Resources Committee and discuss with us some of the concerns that come out of Bill No. 20. The concern, however, that comes foremost is the fact that the Minister of Fisheries and Agriculture, and it is always put the opposite way. Part of my constituency once had a very active fishery. The fishers who operated out of Dover and Terence Bay are now really playing second fiddle, because of some of the things that are not being done by that particular department. The answers always comes back, well, that is federal, that is DFO.

Whatever the issue is, that particular Minister of Agriculture - and oh, he does Fisheries and he does Natural Resources - concerns me because of the fact that if we look at the reorganization of government, as it has taken place, the fishery, in many ways, has been

[Page 2730]

forgotten. It has been forgotten because you can pawn off the excuses, you say that well, that is an issue for the feds, that is not something I deal with, but eventually the question has to come, what exactly does that minister deal with? That is a concern I know the people in the coastal communities that I represent would love to have an opportunity to speak on about Bill No. 20.

I want that minister to know, and I want those ministers over there to know, and members opposite to know, Bill No. 20 and the amendment process is a good one, but if for some reason this amendment doesn't pass - and it should pass based upon the commonsense suggestion that the Leader of this Party has made - I will continue to bring those concerns to this House; I will continue to speak up for the fishers, who are concerned about quota, who are concerned about the draggers, who are concerned about the lack of direction from that particular department, because that is why I am here. I am in this House. That is why I am here. I am going to continue to bring those concerns forward.

The concern that is foremost in the other part of the riding that I represent, the growing suburban riding of Timberlea and Hammonds Plains - and it comes up all the time, and I am sure that residents of these communities would love to have the opportunity to be able to talk to the members of the Human Resources Committee - are they getting, in those growing communities that I just mentioned and that I am fortunate enough to represent, the service they deserve? Are they getting the services they pay those taxes for? I hear from many of those people through the Timberlea-Hammonds Plains area and in return for the taxes I pay - they say to me - all they do is pick up my garbage. The roads I travel on are terrible, the schools are overcrowded and, right now, dirty and we know that. I was in one this morning that is unacceptable, no matter what the Department of Health is saying and I know that - as a former school teacher there is an issue right now that has been neglected. If Bill No. 20 would provide the opportunity for the people of Timberlea, the people of Terence Bay, the people of Hammonds Plains to have their say about the issue. They pay big taxes in return, they live in some of these exclusive subdivisions on roads that are no more than secondary country roads in terms of the fact that if you lived on Prince Edward Island, they would be heritage roads.

[6:15 p.m.]

They are in such poor conditions - gravel roads that have, if the minister knows and I know the minister knows - the amount of money that is being wasted by gravelling and re-gravelling, ditching and re-ditching those roads when a little bit of asphalt could solve the problem. A little bit of asphalt would be able to make sure that those people who live in those growing subdivisions would receive the services for which they pay those taxes.

The concern always comes down to privatization. Let's talk about that. Privatization. It is the way to go because the PR firms - for one reason or another - believe that private business could do it better. I challenge that in this House and I question members opposite

[Page 2731]

to challenge that among their constituents. The good service that I receive as the MLA for Timberlea-Prospect, the prompt attention to matters that I receive, regardless if I am dealing with Access Nova Scotia, the Department of Environment, Department of Community Services, the people who work in those departments and others that I haven't mentioned, are professional, they are publicly accountable and they do not wish to be privatized.

In particular, in a growing community such as the one that I represent, there is a major concern about privatization around highways, and around the fact that some of the services that are provided by those valuable workers from Transportation and Public Works. Those services must not be privatized because we receive quality service as it is now from those men and women. In particular - if you look, and we are surrounded with it in the HRM - currently we are dealing with a strike that is unfortunately going on. I know it is a little bit off, but the relevancy is there because unfortunately, the gentleman who is in charge of this school board is on a privatization kick. He is a union buster. That is what he is - a hit man who came down here from Ontario and he is busting the unions. He is busting those eight hour workers, he has got Stock Transportation down to four hours a day for drivers, he wants to control the hours of custodians, he wants to control the hours when it comes to overtime. All those things say one thing - privatization. Don't have to pay benefits, don't have to deal with a union - heaven forbid. Union? Rights? Workers? That privatization campaign we are dealing with in the HRM is a perfect example of the way for this provincial government not to go. Not to address issues with privatization.

That is a concern and fear that we saw here on Friday. That anger and that frustration people asked me over the weekend, what was that all about? The answer has to be these people aren't being listened to. They are not being listened to and when you deal with a section of our populous, they are not going to take it anymore. You have seen that ad on TV where the lady throws up the window and yells out into the streets of New York, I won't quote exactly what she says, but the point is, she comes out, we are not going to take this anymore. Members opposite should be aware of the fact that there are people out there in those constituencies, from one end of the province to the other, from Amherst to the South Shore, from Yarmouth to Cape North, who are not going to take it anymore because they believe, that if there is a quality of service in this province, which they should be democratically allowed to receive, they pay the taxes for that, and in return, they should receive the quality of service.

So whether you are talking about liquor store workers or highway workers or custodians here in the HRM, it would be a wonderful opportunity for the Human Resources Committee to be able to listen to Nova Scotians because, Mr. Speaker, that is one of the issues that we don't do enough of as politicians. Perhaps I might be the example of it right now, but let me tell you this morning I wasn't talking, I was listening. This morning, for your interest, I started my day at the Prospect High Head and as I sat there and listened to the people who live in that wonderful community, and I sensed their frustration, when I heard them say some of the things that they have said about that piece of property that they wanted

[Page 2732]

as part of a protected conservancy acreage down on the High Head. I sensed their frustration and I listened to them and that's why I am here today, making that point, speaking up for those people in Prospect because we have to listen. We have to consult.

As I came up Prospect Road this morning, I made two other stops. The stops that I made, on each occasion - and I know some members opposite would like to have me stop now - I stopped in and I listened, I sat in a cafe on the Prospect Road and I listened to what those workers were saying. When those workers from Golda's Cafe - and I paid for my coffee, there are no free cups of coffee for this MLA I want you to know, Mr. Speaker - I listened to those people who spoke about their concerns. They spoke about the concerns about the highway, though I wouldn't really want to call it a highway, I would call it more of a path down towards the lighthouse. They spoke about concerns about the New Era Farms. I listened. They spoke about concerns about the fact that that particular section of that unique coastline, the Prospect High Head, has to be protected.

So I know the members opposite, particularly the member for Halifax Fairview and the member for Halifax Needham, who are members of the Human Resources Committee, would have a wonderful opportunity to go on the Prospect Road, to go into Timberlea and listen and consult, because, Mr. Speaker, that was the commitment that those members opposite gave. They would listen, they would reflect what Nova Scotians were saying to them and they would speak up for their constituents.

Now, Mr. Speaker, I don't want to start picking on members over there individually because I know they are very sensitive about it, but I look particularly at those members of the Human Resources Committee. I look at the member for Eastern Shore. No one was more outspoken, no one had his say more - well, I will take that back. There was a member who had a lot to say but it was mainly about the type of clothes that he wore, that the mayor at the time was concerned about, but that member for Preston is not a member of this committee. The member for Eastern Shore is a member of the Human Resources Committee. It would be a perfect opportunity for that member to reinvigorate our faith in him for his reputation as somebody who speaks up and listens to Nova Scotians and listens to the people of the Eastern Shore.

That member for Sackville-Beaver Bank, he has municipal experience, Mr. Speaker, and he, too, had that reputation that he listened, he consulted, but does he stand and speak up for them in this House? No, they come to me. I have a message here, another message from Sackville-Beaver Bank with a concern and I am going to address the issue, calling me, the member for Timberlea-Prospect because they know, whether they are in my constituency or that of the member for Sackville-Beaver Bank or Eastern Shore or Preston, of course, they know they can call this member for Timberlea-Prospect. They know why I am here and they know I will speak up for them.

[Page 2733]

Now, Mr. Speaker, I know my time is beginning to run out and I have another commitment, but I think it is very important that members opposite are aware of the fact that when a good idea comes forward in this House, that group over there does not have the absolute copyright on good ideas. When we see legislation that comes forward, and I can think of the Order of Nova Scotia, there is a piece of legislation that that minister knows we are in support of. I am looking forward to it being brought forward. It is a good idea. We have stood in this place and congratulated him on that. So, in return, I think that member opposite should be aware of the fact that this particular amendment is a good idea. Is it not an idea based upon fairness and equity and openness to consult with Nova Scotians? That is like being against motherhood and apple pie, Mr. Speaker.

If you aren't going to consult with Nova Scotians, if you are not going to listen to Nova Scotians, then why are we in this House? We are in this House to make sure that we take our place. We have things meaningful to say on behalf of our constituents. I, during the past number of moments, have taken the opportunity to bring forth some of those concerns, to bring forth those concerns from liquor store workers, from people who are concerned about highway privatization, who have brought forth concerns about the Prospect High Head, over-crowded schools in Timberlea. Mr. Speaker, that is why I am here. I want you to know the concern that I have comes down again to members opposite who have a wonderful opportunity, if they would speak in favour of this amendment, if they would consult with Nova Scotians and allow them to have their say on a piece of legislation that they want to speak to us, as legislators, about.

I thank you for your time, Mr. Speaker, and I will look forward to other speakers.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

DR. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, thank you for the opportunity to speak to the amendment to Bill No. 20, Government Restructuring (2001) Act and the amendment referring it to the Standing Committee on Human Resources. This was exactly what was recommended, or this type of procedure, by the Nova Scotia Government Employees Union and their displeasure with this particular bill. I think they are coming to realize that some of the earlier initiatives of this government were signals that this government may well be returning to the old structure of government when you read the legislation in Bill No. 20. So we are supporting this amendment in this caucus, to refer Bill No. 20 for a more full consultation process. In that period of time the bill and implications of the bill, of this particular legislation, could be assessed in the Human Resources Committee. I will be addressing my comments to the referral amendment.

Mr. Speaker, one exchange and request for information came from the Committee on Public Accounts relative to Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations. The information, asking for a list of recommendations made by the service delivery division of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations, relative to the ministers concerning program review. We

[Page 2734]

know there were a large number of recommendations made by this important service delivery division, which would help a government and add a more practicality of what can be done in a community that would best serve Nova Scotians.

There was a commitment that this information would come forward and we would see what the experience of Service Nova Scotia and Access Nova Scotia, those various initiatives, would have brought to bear on this legislation. We see this information as being core and as crucial to this legislation and we feel that that should be made available. There was a commitment to make that available earlier. It has not been forthcoming. It has been continuously delayed. We feel it is significant and a component of this legislation. I know other members will be discussing that, Mr. Speaker, because we feel that that is extremely significant and brings a dose of reality into this.

[6:30 p.m.]

It is not only the Nova Scotia Government Employees Union, Mr. Speaker, although they have certainly voiced their displeasure on this legislation. I think, as I mentioned earlier in my opening comments, that initially there was some feeling that the privatization for instance of the Liquor Commission that that was really not going to be taking place, that there was assurance that it would never see the light of day. Now I think with this enabling legislation gradually getting more prominent and leading toward that direction, I think now what we are seeing is that people are again realizing that this is a reality.

There has been a trend across government, with this government, to return to the good old days and we are seeing advisory committees being tacked on under OICs. We had seen that was very convenient in the earlier years of the previous Tory Government; that was the way that business was done. I thought the road back, away from that, has been challenging, it has been difficult, it has been very difficult for Leaders even of Parties, such as in our Liberal Government that enacted changes that brought more openness and fairness to the whole process of hiring within government. Now we seem to be slipping back as we move back towards, which was really a request for a return to hospital boards. We now have seen a compromise at least of regional health authorities and those types of returning to the old days that somehow that was a better way to do business.

The Human Resources Committee, in dealing with the agencies, boards and commissions has been an attempt to open that process and this government has continued that with some modifications. But now I think probably they are finding, and we can see it happening in key areas throughout the province in various committees, the hand-picking of those persons, ones who are asked to apply, they make their application and somehow they tend to get that appointment. So that is within the Human Resources Committee and that is why we support the referral back to that committee, where a lot of that business is done.

[Page 2735]

Mr. Speaker, we have 63 sections of Bill No. 20 and that is a significant amount. It impacts terrifically on the lives of Nova Scotians and it is important to them. I will address some specific areas of why I think the Human Resources Committee should receive this bill for further consideration.

It is a lengthy bill, as I mentioned, it is 63 clauses and it amends a whole series of parts of the government's business and there is a new alignment, obviously, within responsibilities and departments. It creates the Act, it creates a Public Service Commission, in essence a hiring agency, Mr. Speaker, and certainly a move back towards a centralization of hiring. There is a great attempt to move into departments and have human resource committees there that would have a better hands-on, a better need, perhaps, more of a specialization of those that would be most appropriate to hire in those areas that are sensitive and the discharging of that department's responsibility and in turn the responsibility of the minister who stands in this House and is accountable for the actions of that department. Now, we see a move certainly toward a Public Service Commission and a centralization, a hiring agency and a centralization of hiring function.

So what does this mean to the various departments, as I mentioned, within the various departments of government that are doing this job now? Will those professionals, the human resources professionals in the various departments do the recommendations, only to have their decisions vetoed by the Public Service Commission? All valid questions from those in the public looking at what is happening with the restructuring by this bill. What does it mean for Nova Scotians? Even reading the bill ourselves here in the Legislature, it is very difficult to determine, perhaps, or is it all too clear?

When you look at clauses that would be referred to the Human Resources Committee, Clauses 45 and 46, under the Department of Health, I think it is very clear there, particularly Clause 46, "The Minister of Health has, unless specifically assigned to another member of the Executive Council, the supervision, direction and control of all affairs and matters relating to (a) health, hospitals, insured health services, emergency health services, adult protection, home care, public health, addiction services and residential care facilities;"

Those are the responsibility of the Minister of Health, not the agent of the minister, not an agency, not a regional health authority. The only person who the minister can delegate, according to Clause 46, is another Cabinet person, a member of the Executive Council, no one else. So when the minister stands in the House and says, well, it's not my responsibility, it is the responsibility of - as we used to say the regional health boards, now the minister is referring to - the regional health authorities, this legislation makes that clear. So perhaps this is good legislation, this makes it very clear that it is the minister's responsibility.

[Page 2736]

When he told the nurses last year at the annual general meeting that there would be no money - it wasn't about money - that there were no monies there to address their concerns, perhaps now he is saying, well, it's not my responsibility, this bill, on Page 26, Clause 46, clearly outlines that. So maybe we should be more positive with this legislation, Mr. Speaker.

If what we are looking at here (Interruptions) It's probably time for some of the honourable members to go for a late lunch. (Laughter) Some would say they have been out to lunch for longer periods than one would care to admit. It is in good humour and good jest, so I just take it with kindness.

Mr. Speaker, if we are looking at this particular system, with the centralization of hiring and, yet, maintenance of human resources within departments, why would we see this system being set up in duplicate service? The questions we would like to hear in the Human Resources Committee, will the creation of a Public Service Commission mean that human resources professionals from various departments move over to that Public Service Commission, or would the government be adding more administration? Will we see not only duplicate perhaps, but added layers of administration in order to do the same thing? So, yes, maybe we are even looking at a triplicate here.

At the end of the day, as I said earlier relative to Health, we will have one minister re-hiring for government, and that's quite a heavy burden indeed. So, is that where we want to be, Mr. Speaker, and will there be the necessary information available in that central area that impact on all the various departments?

Voluntary Planning, Clauses 61 and 62, on Page 33, the board itself can appoint its members instead of government. We are seeing that more and more, and this is why this whole power and control. Politics, Mr. Speaker, really is about a lot of things and it is very interesting and it is quite fascinating. We have a lot of people in Nova Scotia, particularly, who follow politics, but it is about power and control at the end of the day. What we are looking at here is the Opposition and why we want to point this out to Nova Scotians, that we think this whole restructuring that goes back to resemble the good old days, that Nova Scotia wore the black eye for right across this country, that that happened because that particular system was in place, and that structure. Now we see the lack of the checks and balances that have been developed, and see that change back to the old ways of doing business. The appointees of the government get to make public appointments, without the benefit of public knowledge and scrutiny. We see that creeping in. We see that at the Human Resources Committee; we see it at Nova Scotia Business Inc. There is a pattern that is following. One certainly has to question the transparency, and even, perhaps, the accountability of this particular type of scheme.

It is interesting, within the Department of Economic Development, that we see that very thing happening as we see the downsizing and almost the disappearance of that department. We see a Nova Scotia Business Inc. committee develop, not only an advisory

[Page 2737]

committee in this particular instance but with decision-making ability relative to monies and benefits that would be available to various businesses. It starts out looking quite democratic and quite ideal to many people. I guess if we hadn't been here, if I hadn't been in this Legislature since 1984, I would say that was a great move. But I have seen how those positions are manipulated, and how they evolve, and decision making is really influenced. Behind, we see the hand of big business being able to work, with ordinary Nova Scotians having less of a say in that particular selection.

Here we are, to a group of people on the blue chip panel, as some would refer to it, handing out taxpayers' dollars without the benefit of public scrutiny or accountability. Where is that accountability? The government has taken the apparatus of government, dismantled it, and they have handed it over to a group of people who are not elected or accountable to run them. That is fine on the surface, perhaps, but it is not democracy, it has power and control for the privileged few behind the scenes, where the media, the public and the Opposition cannot scrutinize the actions.

The Small Business Development Act is repealed. Where is the government's commitment to small business? On the one hand we are saying we are going to open up, Nova Scotia is open for business, and we are having all of this, more openness and at the same time, repealing other Acts that were at least intended to benefit small business, where most of the jobs are eventually created in Nova Scotia. Will this particular Nova Scotia Business Inc., the blue chip panel, pay attention, will it be weighted in favour of small business, and will they receive appropriate consideration within that group? On the first blush, I would question that.

Mr. Speaker, we know that small business is the backbone of the Nova Scotia economy, and it deserves to be recognized. Does that really have a clear voice on that committee? We have heard others, geography has been mentioned, the eastern part of the province has not been represented, various areas are particularly left out.There is a concentration, although I know the people on the South Shore are great entrepreneurs, they go right back to the privateers and all the other initiatives that are so historically noteworthy in that particular part of the country, particularly Lunenburg County and along that shore. We see this government looking to that particular community for the strength within this Nova Scotia Business Inc. committee.

The question I would raise and would like to hear from the Human Resources Committee would be the concerns of small business and if they feel that they will be an equal team player within that Nova Scotia Business Inc. and when they are competing with some others of much higher profile, perhaps, and know how to play rough and tough in the world of large business economics.

[Page 2738]

[6:45 p.m.]

A great deal of this bill and some of the concerns that we have heard from the Nova Scotia Government Employees Union certainly has to deal with the Liquor Control Act. A large part of this bill, Mr. Speaker, is relating to that. Basically, as other speakers have mentioned, this is moving from a Liquor Commission into a corporation and I won't get into the whole ins and outs of that, but we see amendments that will allow the chairman and the board of directors to be appointed by OIC and salaries will be determined by the Governor in Council. Why would terms and salaries not be entrenched in legislation to ensure public accountability?

A general theme piece of legislation brought in by this government is the degree to which details are often left to the Governor in Council. I think you see that evolving and we saw that in the previous Tory Government, that almost everything was done under regulations and OICs. That, of course, allows the lack of public consultation and with the background documents or Cabinet papers and they are considered confidential for many years. So, really, one has to question the accountability and the openness. There are matters surrounding the conflict of interest, Mr. Speaker, on that particular initiative.

One of the most disturbing things, perhaps, while we have the board and we have the chairman of the board appointed by OIC, we see, lo and behold, a consultation committee to advise the minister. All terms of appointments are to be set in legislation. So why would the minister need an advisory committee when he has appointed a president and a board of directors? When you start seeing this whole system evolve, a board of directors, OICs, not a transparent system and then we see an advisory committee. It seems like everyone wants to get on the bandwagon and then, lo and behold, the newspaper article the other day, I think, caught our attention and there was a rebuttal to it coming out of Quebec, that the Liberals were growling about the Quebec Liquor Board, that heads pay free Jaguar. So that is an automobile, I would gather, not the four-legged one.

Maybe there is this tendency that, all of sudden, we are going to move to privatization of the liquor stores and there is a going to be a great deal of spin-off and personal gain. This particular person had the free use of a chauffeur-driven Jaguar. I question why he would need a chauffeur and then it became apparent later. He also got $3,500 worth of free top vintage wine annually. So is this what we are going to see? There are certainly going to be a lot of applications if this is the sort of way that business is going to be run. Even the boards there, the vice-presidents of the board - there were several of those - were paid up to almost $150,000 a year, but free wine again, $2,500 or $3,500. So it goes on and on. So you have the free chauffeur. You have the free wine, so that is why you should have a chauffeur, because you shouldn't drink and drive and we all know that. Then, also, there was almost $5,000 for an allowance.

[Page 2739]

So that is how things can go, Mr. Speaker, and maybe that is why there is so much interest for this government, that those are things, probably, the last time they were in government, they hadn't thought of. Now they have become aware that these things are available, can be done out there and perhaps even get away with it. But that is not the route we want to go.

We are looking at this power and control again and the advisory committee. That advisory committee, what will be their job? Will it be to advise or will it be to influence government? I think this is a real concern and I don't mind raising this relative to addressing this amendment to refer this bill to the Human Resources Committee because this has got to be a concern. We are not totally naive about this and how practices have been in the past. We have gone to great pains and to a lot of personal anguish for some people that have made a real effort and, hopefully a lasting effort, to change the practice of that in this province. Now we look like we are going to drift back to that.

We do see them, at least under this particular clause, increasing the fines and the violations and we commend that, but still question the decrease in the fines for smuggling cigarettes so you have a balance there. I didn't want to spend a lot of time on the Liquor Commission changing to the Liquor Corporation because other members will do that.

The main thrust of all this legislation and the reason it should be referred to committee is that it is no different than maybe some other bills that we have seen, the prime example, the employment supports bill. The main thrust of the bill is to enshrine in OIC regulations, not in legislation. It is a large bill, 63 clauses, but it basically puts - well, on the surface it seems to be quite a strong bill. But you find when you read it that it really puts more and more influence of the activity into Orders in Council which is really Cabinet control. So, it is power and control, that allows a secretive government, not one open and accountable as was promised. Questions are raised of accountability and of transparency.

Mr. Speaker, control is very much the theme of this bill and not government restructuring. I think that must be said very clearly and it is really the point of why we oppose this legislation and support the amendment to refer this bill to the Human Resources Committee. It is about power and control, it is not about restructuring. Back to the good old days, back to what we saw as pork-barrel politics for a privileged few and there are some people perhaps thinking that happy days are here again. That is a very good reason why this bill should be referred to Human Resources.

We probably will not see it referred to the Human Resources Committee, let's be realistic, that is unlikely. It would be far too open and far too accountable for this bill to undergo scrutiny in that type of committee. I mentioned back in the earlier times when this province was seen to be the worst managed and even, yes, it needed to be said, the most corrupt government going in this country. I am not saying it is going to happen again, but this

[Page 2740]

bill will help facilitate the move if this government and subsequent governments choose to do that.

Earlier we did see some promises, commitments to make, that the provincial Public Service will not be privatized or contracted out to the private sector without public consultation and without demonstrable evidence that privatization will lead to improved services for Nova Scotians. "A decision to privatize or contract out a service will not be made without a full and open review by an independent and mutually agreed upon Review Agency . . ." These are signed documents on July 24, 1997, that the public sector workers and their representatives and other interested parties shall have standing in the review process. That needs to be done. We have the Law Amendments Committee that this bill is most likely to find its way to. Will that process be adequate? We don't think so.

So, in the event that specific privatization is recommended and found to be in the interest of Nova Scotians, employees will have the ability to move to the new employer with all existing rights, benefits and entitlements. That is crucial in job security and in benefits. So often, as others in this Legislature, in debating Bill No. 20, have mentioned, that all of a sudden, in privatization, you see temporary employment, hours cut and we have seen that within the last few months in this province.

There were groups of workers, Mr. Speaker, that initially breathed a sigh of relief when this government came out with its much-touted and talked about report about privatizing liquor stores. The workers in those stores felt they were spared when this government stated a few agency stores would be open, and we have seen some progress in that matter, but the status quo would remain in existing outlets. I don't think they feel that way now, now that they have had a chance to look at Bill No. 20, an Act to Restructure the Government of Nova Scotia.

This bill, Mr. Speaker, does need to be referred to the Human Resources Committee to further question and investigate the government's true intentions with regard to changing the Liquor Commission to the Liquor Corporation. Workers at the Liquor Commission need to know that this is not the beginning of privatization in their workplace and they need to know that the Premier was being true to his word when he signed the Quality Public Service Protection Plan that I mentioned, I think it was, July 24, 1997. The Human Resources Committee could question why the minister responsible for the now Liquor Commission is intent on establishing an advisory committee. I brought my concerns here during this debate. Is that going to be to advise the government? Is it that complicated, that that board and that chair will need advice? Or, is this an area to be set up for influencing government in matters relative to the function of that corporation?

Is the minister not content that the president and the board of directors would be capable and up to the job? They should certainly be, as he and his government alone would be responsible for appointing them. We have that irony of events that follow those types of

[Page 2741]

appointments, and the Human Resources Committee has a role to play there, Mr. Speaker: to be able to question the minister himself or herself as to whether the mandate of the advisory committee - which we don't know if this would be established in OIC - would be to advise and influence.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. There is a little too much chit-chat in the Chamber and I am having trouble hearing the member for Dartmouth East. I would ask that the members on all sides, if they have private conversations, to take them outside.

The member for Dartmouth East, you have 28 minutes left.

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I thank you for the attention of the House. So the whole question of the advisory board to the Liquor Corporation, would it be to advise or influence? I will just leave it at that. Perhaps the Human Resources Committee would be the one to screen the applicants for that advisory committee and perhaps they would be able to minimize the likelihood of the board being an influence, or being a true advisory board and not a board of influences on government. I think the point that I would like to develop and spell out particularly is our concern that if we see the agencies, boards and commissions, the appointments circumvented here because it gets cumbersome, and that the appointments are being made directly from OICs and boards and advisory committees, the volunteer planning, whatever, that they would in turn appoint themselves.

[7:00 p.m.]

It is very clear to see. You don't have to use much imagination to see how that can become very friendly to government, a very comfortable relationship with government. So this is one way around the lobbyists' bill, and our amendments to the lobbyists' bill, that were rejected, were that the ministers and those people working in the departments would keep a list of those persons that be lobbyists. I think the sooner that this is in the open and everything is clear, that is the proper process to follow, to have openness there.

This could really be a way around, the way that the lobbyist legislation is reading now, it would be a way around that and that would circumvent the intent of the lobbyists' bill. Whether we see that bill again or not, I gather it is on the agenda and will be moving forward. The advisory committee to the liquor corporation is - in the case of this bill - a privatization committee in disguise; all valid questions that I feel that human resources committee should have time to investigate and to question.

I did want to spend a bit of time in some of the areas that I know would be a concern at the Human Resources Committee. One particularly would be health, although there are only two clauses of the 63 that deal with the Department of Health. As I mentioned earlier, the Minister of Health, clearly the responsibilities that are all-encompassing for ". . . supervision, direction and control of all affairs and matters relating to . . .", and then the

[Page 2742]

whole list of acute care hospitals and long-term care facilities and all the functions within that.

We have heard today, and I am sure that in the next few months if this is referred to the Human Resources Committee one thing that would be of paramount interest would be the situation of nursing within this province. This morning, one particular group of nurses that represents almost 5,000 nurses held a press conference and brought their concerns forward and I am sure they would be only too pleased to have a chance to speak to the Human Resources Committee. They will be in a position to take a strike vote in early June and we see continued deterioration of the nurses' situation here within the province.

This nursing strategy that has come forward, while it is commendable, it really only added a $5,000 relocation grant in terms of what this government voted down. I think that was $5,000 per person, as I recall. The minister and I can discuss this later, but I think it was a one-shot, $5,000 per nurse, but he would be more aware of his budget than I.

Essentially, the relocation grant was the only significant difference that changed as to what that minister and that government had voted against. We heard very clearly this morning at a joint press conference with representatives for the union from Newfoundland and Labrador, Prince Edward Island, and from the national organization of nurses, and that clearly spelled out some experiences that other areas and jurisdictions have had. The President of the Canadian Federation of Nurses' Unions, Kathleen Connors spoke, I thought, extremely well this morning, as did the others, addressing the particular initiatives in this province. The Nova Scotia Nurses' Union represents almost 5,000 nurses, the group, being represented by the Nova Scotia Government Employees Union, which is in a more advanced stage of negotiations, and is looking at, maybe, job action, even in the month of May.

I think things in Nova Scotia are coming to a crunch. There is no question it is a difficult time, nursing is at the crossroads. There are the diploma nurses, the university-trained nurses, and there are those who are training for their masters', and continuing education, and move into a manager's position. Nursing itself has undergone dramatic changes, and yet we see those persons who find themselves in need of nursing care asking, where are the nurses? I think this was alluded to this morning. When some of those nurses present had trained, they trained in the hospital, they had a lot of clinical experience, there was a lot of work that they carried out in the nursing area very early in their careers.

The education of nurses has changed, and the qualifications to become an equal partner within the health care team is much stronger at this juncture, to be an equal partner. I think whatever we look at, wages, obviously, are going to be a concern, it has to be concern when you have nurses in this province being the lowest paid across this country, and LPNs being the third lowest, that has to be an issue to be addressed. It is not going to be good enough to say, well, it is not our responsibility, somebody else in the capital region will have to deal

[Page 2743]

with that, or the regional health boards will have to deal with, it is really going to sit right on the desk of the minister. This bill and Clause 46, Section 46 really clearly defines that.

The sense of being valued, the issue of recruitment and retention, we will always have outwardly mobile persons who will choose to go to other provinces and other countries; particularly early in their career before they have established families and have chosen to stay in their own province, they will move out on a regular basis. At the same time, you are hoping that others will move in, either from other parts of Canada, perhaps from countries like New Zealand or others, in travelling.

We seem to really be reaching that impasse, that Nova Scotia is quickly - particularly in the last few months - becoming a place not to go to. We see it in nursing, we see it with specialists. Today, again, we hear of the possibility of liver transplants in this province, in the next eight weeks, at least, and who knows, will be moving out of province, to Montreal, Toronto and other areas. We see this time and time again. We have been very fortunate in this province in the last few years, particularly in the recruitment of medical oncologists, to a full complement.

That is part of the picture. You can't isolate one from the other, they are all there as a group. The nurses look at the supply of physicians as well, and how comfortable they are with their particular profession in that particular province. I think this is what is happening, the word is now out that it is not likely to be a place that will best serve your needs. It is very easy to click on some other Web site and find out what is going on in another province and in another country.

Mr. Speaker, we heard very clearly this morning, those particular concerns that will have to be addressed. The government is about making choices and it is about priorities. The nursing profession is crying out for attention, no longer taking promises but is now prepared, I think we heard this morning, with the united force and support of their colleagues across this country to take a stand. We will see job action in this province from nurses very quickly unless the right steps are taken. Maybe they will not be able to realize the monies that Alberta is able to provide directly, that is certainly going to be a goal of theirs, but they are going to ask for equality and most of all respect for their profession, that they are equal partners within the health care system and part of that team; wages and benefits.

It just keeps going on, Mr. Speaker, about how it has deteriorated and how the employers, particularly, deal with that whole situation and the lack of resources and wherewithal that the individual nurses have when the chips are down. I am thinking particularly of the temporary positions. I know the minister has changed, been involved or at least under his watch, many of the positions in temporary nursing have gone into permanent nursing. It is not my impression, though, however, there has been a great influx of nurses into Nova Scotia. I think it has mainly been a statistical change where the minister

[Page 2744]

has done the right thing or those agents of his, those representing him, who he is responsible for, have actually made those permanent positions.

Just as recently as May 3rd, I received from my own riding, a concern, and it says relative to the Dartmouth General Hospital, that recently management has instituted a policy whereby staff are placed on mandatory overtime or mandatory call to cope with overwhelmed resources. That is, if it is whatever reason or in any department staff is inadequate, a nurse can be forced to come to work at any time of day on that scheduled time off. So what you have, particularly with those nurses with temporary positions, they work several shifts, they make plans to go out with their children or have some other activity or some time off and downtime to recoup and they get a call and it is a mandatory callback. That seems to be what is happening. So we are seeing that used more and more. That has to stop and we can do better than that.

We wonder why the nursing union or the registered nurses representatives might say that nurses do not feel valued when they are treated in that manner, and I have known of many other cases when this has happened. So I think that this is sort of the thing that the Human Resources Committee would be a vehicle to have presentations made and whatever the restructuring of government is, maybe the whole structure is not spelled out here, how the capital region functions, but we know that is going to be a real concern with the Nova Scotia Government Employees Union nurses. As I say, they are moving well along in their deliberations but we also see just following them, the other 5,000 nurses under the Nova Scotia Nurses' Union.

It is not going to be good enough this year, Mr. Speaker, and I would like to just try to address some of the issues within health and relative to Clauses 45 and 46 and why they should be referred to the Human Resources Committee. Last year, at the time of the nurses annual general meeting, the minister told the nurses union annual meeting that the government recognized the problems facing nurses but it is not up to the province to find the solutions. Somebody reminded me of this and I heard this previously last year and I had forgotten about it because I really thought it must have been a misprint. Here you have quotation marks. The government isn't the employer and this is something that they will be working out at the bargaining table with their employers. But here this bill says, Clause 46, Section 46 "The Minister of Heath has, unless specifically assigned to another member of the Executive Council, the supervision, direction and control of all affairs and matters . . .". Then it goes on to list any place that a nurse would work. So he can't assign that to someone else. Whoever that minister is, is responsible.

[7:15 p.m.]

The province has encouraged the district health authorities to convert casual nursing positions into full-time jobs. I think to some extent that has happened. But we asked the minister during estimates - which we never got the answer to - how many new nursing

[Page 2745]

positions have been created in the province, how many new nursing positions, not how many temporary nurses employed have gone into permanent nursing, which is really mandatory and that was a commitment of the previous government and the budget and the wherewithal to do that was voted down by the then Opposition.

Mr. Speaker, that was the flavour of last year. I am not responsible, it is not up to the province to find the solutions, the government is not the employer and this is something they will be working out at the bargaining table with their employers. I think that will have to change this year. The government will have to be more involved. You can have all the legislation you want to restructure government but you can't opt out of your responsibility for the quality of health care in this province.

I was just handed a very important letter that I already had the opportunity to address earlier and it had to do with information on the restructuring program. So in supporting this initiative to move Bill No. 20 to the Human Resources Committee, health care is certainly a prime area where we have seen the restructuring of this government; where we have moved from the regional health boards, even in spite of the Goldbloom report saying they were starting to work well, there were some communications problem, some areas were too large for administration and there had to be some changes made there perhaps but we saw those changes taking place. So this government thought no, that is not the way we want to do business. So we are going to change it. They were getting a lot of pressure to try to go back to be closer to the people, so to speak, and that sort of thing.

It is really ironic how they did that. In the middle of the night, unbeknownst to the volunteer chairmen of those boards, they were cancelled and put out of business. They were informed later after the news had hit the media, they were advised, that that had taken place. So that is how we see business being done. I think that is why it would be nice to hear at the Human Resources Committee how they feel about doing business with a government that does it that way. But the irony still follows, it even gets more interesting, Mr. Speaker, as to how, you talk about restructuring government, so we are going to give you back your hospital boards, well, they won't quite be hospital boards but they will be regional health authorities and we have nine of those now throughout the province, albeit a very large one here within the central region but we are going to restructure.

We are going to give health care decision making back to the people. Then you have your community health boards. Some are reasonably well developed, certainly in the central region here in the Halifax-Dartmouth metro community they are and down the Eastern Shore somewhat and in the Valley. The eastern part of the province has not been as well developed but in this current year they are getting $1 million, which sounds like a lot of money until you start dividing it up. I am not sure how many boards there would be, 25 or 35 or something in that range.

[Page 2746]

In the meantime, what has happened with control? Here again is this power and control and this pattern that is evolving with this government. They are returning to the old ways of doing business, while they are telling people we are going to give you in the community your decision making. We are going to give you the budgets and we will be nice with you. This year we will give you a flat-line budget, but we are going to take your debt and all of that. But really, what they have done is brought the decision making, the power and control, back to central office, albeit it is shut down for the next three or four days. Maybe the health of Nova Scotians will improve because the Department of Health was shut down for three or four days. This is what happened when they closed hospitals in Saskatchewan. They closed 52 hospitals. Mr. Romanow, who is now leading the Royal Commission across this country on health care; they did studies in small communities and actually the health did seem to improve, so it is going to be very interesting.

I don't know if they are going to let the minister in or not so that he can get at his computer and give directions to all those communities on how business is to be run. I don't mean to make light of a very serious matter that could have been a disaster this morning. I would be very interested when that building will become safe because that has never been a very healthy building to start with, in my opinion, but there certainly may be more problems there than what we might realize. Let's hope and just give thanks that there have been no injuries and no loss of life in what could have been a very serious matter. I don't mean to make light of that, but that is where the power and control has been taken within the health care system, it is returned to that Joseph Howe Building.

I am not saying that there be a sign that anything is remiss there, but it will be interesting to see how things will evolve over a period of time, because we haven't learned the full impact of the budget of health care. We served notice that there is no question that we intend to take fully our time in these particular matters, Bill No. 30, Financial Measures (2001) Act and Bill No. 20, Government Restructuring (2001) Bill. We intend to take our time because there is a lot to be known yet. The budget has been passed; the estimates have been deliberated; the time of the House has been taken for debate on those matters. But what is the impact of the budget on the regional health authorities? And if there is control back here in the Joseph Howe Building that has been taken back? At the very time they are telling people in the communities that we are giving health care decision making to you back in the community, it is deceitful. That is not what is happening. Decision making is, more than ever, again, back here in the central, and there is that theme that is developing with this government - to take power and control.

Politics and government is information and it is control of that information and that is what we are seeing. This is what this bill is going to allow, more regulations, more Orders in Council, more hands on, what was promised to be and was developing a system. The Goldbloom report said it was gradually getting decision making out into four regions and then nine, in theory could, although it would cost more, there is no question administration is going to cost more, but we see the increase in administration for this type of restructuring.

[Page 2747]

So this government is not afraid of making decisions when it really affects structural change of how they are doing business on the surface. If people buy into that - I almost called it a lie, the big lie - if they buy into that it makes this government look great. All of a sudden, all this decision making, although they are not saying, in all fairness to them, the decision making will be done in health care and the community health boards, but they are saying they will be made at the regional boards.

So any time that any confrontation matters come up and difficulties, well, it is not our decision, it is the regional health authorities who have done that. We have given them their budgets. Everybody has to live within their means. That is the big theme. That is the Harris Government theme that this province has adopted. As I mentioned earlier, we want to know what the impact of the budgets on the regional health authorities will be and we want to know what the regional health authorities budgets will be on the budget of this province. So this is a two-way street and it is not a question of sending out a package of money to the regional health authorities and them delivering health care.

When primary care issues are not resolved, when accessing the health care system is not resolved, when waiting times are increasing, when we are losing specialists almost weekly out of this province, it is not going to be good enough to say, well, that is the capital district's responsibility or that of the regional health authority No. 9. It is not good enough for that because this bill says in Clauses 45 and 46 that it is the responsibility of the minister. If there is one thing positive that I want to end on, that is very clearly and that is why we are here as Opposition to speak our time and to hold the minister accountable whether it is responsible for the Liquor Commission/Corporation or the Minister of Health, we will use our time to make them accountable and to have a transparent process. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

MR. JERRY PYE: Mr. Speaker, I rise to speak on the subject matter of Bill No. 20, the Government Restructuring (2001) Act to be referred to the Standing Committee on Human Resources. the amendment.

Mr. Speaker, I support the amendment referring the bill to the Standing Committee on Human Resources because Bill No. 20 is a cause of great concern. It is a cause of great concern to many Nova Scotians. It is amazing that just this weekend, other than my conversation with people around the cellular phone bill which came in on Friday, many people were talking about government and government reorganization, government restructuring. They were talking about it at the federal level, they were talking about it at the provincial levels across this country. The people that I was talking to, in fact, informed me, they said you know there is a problem here, that government is redesigning itself into a business and it forgot it was to deliver services to people and that government is a people service and should deliver those services and programs to people.

[Page 2748]

Now, people are quite annoyed and as a matter of fact, if you look at the last provincial election that was held in July 1999, a very nice warm summer, as a matter of fact, voter turnout, and there would be no other reason why voter turnout would be so low, the apathy in people setting in because government was not listening to them; actually the voter turnout turned out to be about 67 per cent of those who were eligible to vote. So, the government was elected on 67 per cent of the people who were eligible to vote and they only received 39 per cent of all that, of all the voters who had voted, 39 per cent of that support. The other two Opposition Parties received somewhere around 29 per cent and 30.1 per cent. That only left the government with 9 per cent support of those out there who voted and now the government thinks it has a mandate to restructure government simply because it has a majority government that it ought to go ahead and do that.

Well, government can have majority governments but if it doesn't listen to the people - a prime example is the 1993 elected Government of John Savage, the Liberal Government. Prime example is that you are not invincible and that you are not here forever and a day as used to be the process by which people were elected. The public is very much aware of what they want from government and they are very much aware of government delivering those services. This is a very good reason why this bill ought to be referred to the Human Resources Committee because it will allow that Human Resources Committee, unlike the Law Amendments Committee, to get up and move out of Halifax and into the rural communities, into the neighbourhoods in which many of that government's Opposition members have been elected from, the rural community. It will allow those individuals to have a say on what they believe is important to the restructuring of government. I am sure that many of those people in rural Nova Scotia would be very delighted to have the opportunity to tell government where it thinks government ought to be restructured, what kind of delivery of services and programs that they would like to see for Nova Scotians.

[7:30 p.m.]

For example, Mr. Speaker, we talk about the government and how it has handled health care. We just went through the budget here for the year 2000-01. We have just spoken about the Financial Measures (2001) Bill as well. Each of those have a financial implication on the delivery of programs and services to Nova Scotians. Many Nova Scotians are appalled at the delivery of health care services that they have.

They are concerned that a member of that government, the member for Cape Breton North, if in fact a particular problem with health care and doctor shortages takes place, that he has the ear of government while the member for Richmond, for the Richmond General Hospital, may not get that concern. There is a very real concern with the delivery of those kinds of services to Nova Scotians when, in fact, a member of government can get the ear of his political Party, rather than Nova Scotians, irrespective of how important that issue might be, plays a vital, important role in how government will deliver services and programs.

[Page 2749]

This Bill No. 20, which allows for restructuring, allows the government to take that kind of control. It allows the government to take control of those nine regional health authorities, Mr. Speaker. Those nine regional health authorities, many of them are in rural communities; for example, Digby-Clare, Yarmouth-Shelburne, Kings-Annapolis, Cumberland, Pictou-Antigonish, Guysborough-Strait-Richmond, the District Health Authority of Cape Breton and then the Capital Regional Health Authority, but primarily the rural communities and those health authorities.

Now, in fact, the government when it got elected, true to its credit, said that it was going to change those regional health boards into health authorities and give greater control to Nova Scotians. On the other hand, the government dispenses those dollars to those health authorities and tells them how to spend that money. When it gives out money to those health authorities and the health authorities go over budget, then they say, it is not our problem, it is the health authorities. We have given them the number of dollars that they need, we believe, to manage in this fiscal year. If they go over budget, then they are accountable and it is up to them to answer to that particular region or area.

Mr. Speaker, again the big hand of government steps in, puts money in the pocket and then administers that money to the regional health authority without the health authority having some flexibility and some movement around the delivery of the kind of health services that they may want for that rural community. One can say and one can argue that each of those rural communities are uniquely different in what they would like to see as deliverable programs.

Much of the money that has gone to those regional health authorities is money that hasn't been able to address bone densitometers, seniors' issues that need to be addressed with respect to the $50 fee for every day that a person is in the hospital. It hasn't addressed the areas such as, Mr. Speaker, Alzheimer's disease and arthritis, the whole picture around many of the issues that are out there happening in rural communities. That is the kind of thing that Nova Scotians want to see their government take control of and those are the kind of issues that Nova Scotians are looking for their government to be accountable for, not restructuring.

We talk about education. The minister has already allocated the money for education, has told the educational boards how they are going to spend their money and that, in fact, it is up to the educational boards on how they administer. We have a labour strike going on with one of the largest education boards, the Halifax Regional School Board. As a matter of fact, the minister says there is no need for her to get involved, there is no need for involvement.

Yet the public out there is crying for that involvement. Even though the regional school boards are fully elected school boards and do have a mandate. If the regional school boards aren't adhering to their mandate and addressing the issue and the labour strike has gone on too long, one would think that the minster would take that under her authority and act upon

[Page 2750]

it, making sure that this kind of thing doesn't happen. That is important, that is significantly important to all those out there who are looking to the Minister of Education for direction with respect to education.

When we look at what the government can do, the government under restructuring can very well do exactly the same as it did with Southwest Regional School Board. It can go and it can take control of Southwest Regional School Board and appoint one of its Tory friends to the Halifax Regional School Board or any other school board for that matter if it feels that it is not acting appropriately and it is not spending money wisely. We all know who Leroy Legere is, he was a former member of this Legislative Assembly. He also now happens to be the director for the Southwest Regional School Board - I don't know if that is the official title or if it is superintendent, but I do know that he carries that role.

Now, the fear is built up among all those regional school boards across this province that if they don't fall in line, government will do the honourable thing - what they feel is appropriate, despite what the public may believe or the citizenry might believe - and take control. That is a huge fear and that is a fear that is driving the Halifax Regional School Board into trying to get some control of its finances, keeping those people, those janitorial services, out there on strike. I think that is an issue that can be addressed and can be addressed by this Legislature and by the Minister of Education.

I look at the minister's statement with respect to the amalgamation of the Department of Environment and Labour. I often wonder - as I have sat in this Legislative Assembly and listened to the Minister of Labour speak about labour issues and the Minister of Environment, who is one and the same, speak about environment issues - I have often wondered if it somehow doesn't appear to be a conflict of interest because if a huge, major development were to come in and it was to have a significant impact on the environment, where would the minister stand? What kind of a role, what kind of a position would that minister take? I remember going back and reading the 1997 - I believe it was Maclean's magazine - that devoted a whole article to our precious planet and talked solely about the environment and its importance. If we don't take control and if we don't spend more money on the environment, that we, as a society, are losing and we will continue to lose and people will continue to grab. There needs to be protection of that environment and there needs to be controls set in place so that corporations, businesses and people who want to develop industry here have a greater respect for the environment as well.

We know, just going south of the border to the United States, that the United States is now seeking from Canada energy sources, energy sources that might very well require Nova Scotia to dispense energy into the United States, which we are already doing. That might also require the damming of rivers and lakes and streams and so on in order to create a higher level of energy because natural gas is not here forever and a day and in fact, it is a fossil fuel that can be expended. If we are able to put this issue before the Human Resources Committee with respect to protection of the environment, then many citizens whom are woodlot owners

[Page 2751]

who do clearcutting and are unable to manage or control their forestry or the land in which forestry is being developed will be able to come out and speak about that and ask for government intervention. I think if there was ever a significant department that ought to stand alone, the Department of Environment ought to be that department. We rely too much on the Department of Environment to take it for granted. As a matter of fact, in the budgetary process there is such little money placed in the Department of Environment and Labour that the Minister of Environment and Labour really doesn't have the opportunity to put on handle on this particular issue.

Mr. Speaker, if we were able to go to the Human Resources Committee, then the Human Resources Committee would be able to go on the road, into rural Nova Scotia, and they would be able to talk to woodlot owners; they would be able to talk to people who are involved in the forestry industry; they would be able to talk to people in the lumber industry; and they would be able to talk to these people about what kind of services and programs government can deliver or should deliver. It is this kind of movement that would allow the citizens of Nova Scotia if, in fact, we were able to go to the Human Resources Committee, and go across this province seeking input from Nova Scotians. To me that is important; we need to touch base with Nova Scotians.

Mr. Speaker, I just want to go back to the government's blue book. Quite frequently I refer to this blue book, because it gives me great opportunity to know what the government has said about making government accountable, and it says, "The Liberal budget represents only the most recent example that the Liberal government has no respect for the electorate. Their Health Investment Fund - an off-book accounting gimmick - goes beyond deception. It illustrates contempt for Nova Scotians. Such an approach to government not only displays a lack of integrity and competence, it undermines the public respect for our political system and the integrity of elected representatives. The Liberals have, quite simply, abandoned their responsibility to the electorate and forfeited their right to govern. We believe that Nova Scotians are right to demand greater openness, accountability and participation."

Mr. Speaker, the government that is now in power, the Tory Government, has said that it would do things differently for Nova Scotia. It said, in this blue book, that it believes in openness and accountability and that it believes that all Nova Scotians should be a participatory factor in that openness and accountability. If that is the case, here is the opportunity for this government to in turn go out there, by way of the Human Resources Committee, and tour this province, with respect to what they believe a restructuring of government ought to be. If, in fact, Nova Scotians tell them that they are on the right track, then we, as the Opposition Party, would have very little difficulty in demanding government to change its direction. But we know, and that is why we are here, that Nova Scotians are not happy with this government, and we also know that Nova Scotians are fearful about what this government means when it says restructuring.

[Page 2752]

Mr. Speaker, I just want to talk briefly about restructuring. We heard about it here just a couple of weeks ago. The Department of Community Services, for instance, said, no, no, it is not going to be involved in the private sector; it is not going to do private business. What happened? Well, 150 consultants were invited into the Department of Community Services, just a foot in the door, that tiny foot in the door, but that is what it was. Now the Minister of Community Services said, this is only IT information; this is about software; this has nothing to do with coming in and taking over government. We just happened to catch them. We just happened to catch the minister trying to sneak in the back door and bring privatization into the Department of Community Services.

[7:45 p.m.]

Now, the Minister of Community Services says, no, no, we are just developing software that will make our department run easily and run smoother, we are asking for a standardized form of that software that lists the client, that tells where the client's business might be, what kind of bank account the client has, where the money is coming from with respect to the client from Old Age Security, income supplement, Canada Pension Disability, workers' compensation, all that, which the minister already has.

But what the minister didn't tell us or tell Nova Scotians was that they already have that information, and they didn't tell Nova Scotians that if these private consulting firms get in that they own the property rights of that software that they developed and that they are investing $25 million and of that $25 million over a six to eight year period, they are going to get $20 million. So, they not only get their $25 million but they get $20 million back on top of that. That's something that should automatically go to the Human Resources Committee. That is a department that needs to be reviewed by the Human Resources Committee to see what is the intent behind this department.

Mr. Speaker, when you look at the Department of Community Services you see this is just the foot in the door and there are some four core delivery services within the Department of Community Services. We talk about what that means. We know that that means, and I don't want to attempt to name them all right now but that's child and protection services, that's income supports, that's housing, those are three of the four core programs that come right off the top of my head that now the department has a handle on and that, in fact, it has the potential to take over intake services and client services. There was no consultation with the social workers when this was happening.

The Minister of Community Services spoke with those individuals who are going to deliver the program and those consultants, but he did not speak with the employees who are going to be a part of that. If, in fact, this is referred to the Human Resources Committee, those individuals will have the opportunity to speak about that.

[Page 2753]

This Bill No. 20, the restructuring bill, Mr. Speaker, also doesn't speak about setting up a ministry for needy children or children in poverty. Now, wouldn't that be ironic if the department decided that under the government's restructuring that it was going to set up a department of eliminating child poverty in Nova Scotia. That's something I know that I could support but I know it is not going to happen. I know that I don't see that within Bill No. 20 as part of the restructuring. I know that that is one of the national agendas that was put forward in 1984; the elimination of child poverty in Canada. I know each and every province agreed to eliminate that. That's some 17 years ago and it still hasn't been addressed. If, in fact, the government were to say within this Bill No. 20 on restructuring government that it was going to set up a ministry, can you imagine a ministry to eliminate poverty in Nova Scotia, that would be something else. But I know it is not going to happen and I know that it is only wishful thinking.

It is much the same as setting up an independent Department of Environment, to protect the environment under massive developments. So the same with, in fact, a ministry for the elimination of child poverty. It will not happen and it won't happen and this government is not prepared to bring that kind of restructuring forward.

Mr. Speaker, when we look at the restructuring of government, we also look at what the government has said with respect to restructuring of the Civil Service and making it a Public Service Commission. There are some 21,000 employees of the NSGEU who are directly or indirectly affected by the government's restructuring of the Public Service. There is absolutely no question that, in fact, each and every one of those expressed their concern. Many of those individuals expressed their concern at the annual general meeting of the NSGEU that was held for a three day event here in Halifax, as a matter of fact.

They have spoken and some of them have, in fact, put their signature, if not all of them, have already put their signature to a petition speaking against the government ram-rodding this Bill No. 20 through so that no one gets an opportunity to speak on it. They know, Mr. Speaker, and I know and my Party knows that the government has a majority. The government can, in fact, vote against this amendment. The government probably will vote against this amendment. I know there are former members of the NSGEU who are over there in that government who could very well get up and speak about this legislation and who also could express what kind of fear is going through the employees of the NSGEU. Many of those employees may not be directly employed by the Government of Nova Scotia, but they are indirectly employed by agencies, organizations and the like outside the government that receive funding from the government, who, in fact, are members of that union as well.

The long hand of the government can, in fact, be involved in many of the agencies and organizations. Mr. Speaker, I just had a list here of applications invited to the agencies, boards and commissions by the Government of Nova Scotia. Now, excuse me, but I didn't take the opportunity to count the number of agencies and organizations here that are directly affected by the Government of Nova Scotia. But this application has, I would wager to guess

[Page 2754]

that, in fact, there are some 90 to 100 agencies, boards and commissions that are directly, in one way or another, involved with government, either by appointments to the board or by way of receiving funding from the provincial government. These agencies, boards and commission, believe it or not, are at the whim and control of this new government restructuring.

If tomorrow, after this government has passed this legislation, it decides that it no longer wants that many agencies, boards or commissions, it will, in fact, reduce the number of agencies, boards or commissions. Mr. Speaker, it can do that and yet the government will say that is not its intent. Nothing is ever the intent of government with respect to legislation until it has control and power. Once it has control and power then, in fact, that is when it will exercise the kind of influence that it has.

All 21,000 of those employees of the NSGEU go about doing their work. They may be nurses. They may be technicians. They may be administrators. They may be social workers. They may be caseworkers. The field is wide and varied, but every one of them go about doing their work for the best interest of Nova Scotians. They work and they place in the hours knowing often that they are understaffed, that the caseloads that they may carry are burdensome and, also, that the kind of work that they are required to do will require them to work extended hours, particularly in nursing.

It may very well be, Mr. Speaker, that many of those individuals are carrying caseloads of some 1,400 in social services. All of that puts added stress on those individuals who, in fact, are delivering the services of government to Nova Scotians. It is those individuals that Nova Scotians have to learn to respect. It is those individuals that the government must remember when, in fact, they are doing restructuring of government. Those individuals want to know who they will be negotiating contracts with and if there is a potential of privatization. Those individuals have a right to know, they have a right to be informed and they have a right to know that this government, who has said that they will be open and consultative are going to do that, that they are going to offer that process to those individuals.

I want to harken back to the Five Point Quality Public Service Protection Plan for Nova Scotia. This was signed by the now Premier John Hamm in July of 1997. I also want to say that the government ought to live up to the commitment, it has already made, and I just want to cite what it states here in a couple of the bullet points.

It says, "A provincial public service will not be privatized or contracted to the private sector without public consultation and without demonstrable evidence that privatization will lead to improved services for Nova Scotians." Well, Mr. Speaker, if you talk to many Nova Scotians out there, many Nova Scotians who have been involved in some of the privatization businesses that have already taken place - P3 schools for example, the government recognized that the P3 school privatization cost Nova Scotians millions and millions of

[Page 2755]

dollars; in fact, they will continue to pay for that. That is a privatization venture that has gone bad, and it has gone bad by a previous government. All Nova Scotians will pay for that.

Getting back to this Five Point Quality Public Service Protection Plan for Nova Scotia. You can understand why those 21,000 NSGEU employees would be quite concerned. Mr. Speaker, they have a right to be concerned and they have a right to demand of this government that this government provide an open and consultative process.

The only way that that can happen, is not through the Law Amendments Committee, because it does not go across this province, the Law Amendments Committee stays here in the Red Room in this beautiful legislative Province House. That's where the Law Amendments Committee stays. But if this were to be put over to the Human Resources Committee, then the Human Resources Committee can go across this province and seek input into those individuals who deliver programs and services to Nova Scotians on behalf of this government. For example, it can go to Yarmouth, it can go to Sydney, Kentville, Truro, Sheet Harbour, Antigonish. Many of those areas to seek input from those individuals with respect to the programs that they deliver in rural communities, and the demand and the time that it takes to deliver those programs and services to rural communities.

We all know about municipal amalgamation under the former Savage Government. We all certainly did not appreciate municipal amalgamation. It came in under a fury of protest with no public consultation, no citizen involvement at all. As a matter of fact, Mr. Deputy Speaker, you may have also been a member of the regional municipality - of course it was then called the Municipality of Halifax County - when the Savage Government brought this forward, they were bringing it forward irrespective of what people had to say and it was coming forward simply because they felt that they had a majority government of some 44 MLAs and they could do whatever they wanted.

[8:00 p.m.]

The same thing now, Mr. Speaker, is happening to the Tory Government across this legislative floor with only 31 members, only 31 members of this Legislative Assembly. They feel that now they can restructure government without consultation and without involving Nova Scotians of exactly what kind of government Nova Scotians want. Well, they will meet the same fate of what that previous Liberal Government has met if, in fact, they are not open and receptive to Nova Scotians. We already have the Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations talking about equalization. Many Nova Scotians, other than the UNSM, have no opportunity to vent their concerns with respect to municipal equalization.

If, in fact, Mr. Speaker, government restructuring were to go on the road, and it were to go on the road by way of the Human Resources Committee, all of those 55 municipalities across this province would have the opportunity to let government know what they think of this municipal equalization plan. They would have the opportunity to know about that. They

[Page 2756]

would also have the opportunity to let government know about their fears about the restructuring of government.

You know, Mr. Speaker, this government can say that that is not the intent and that they would never do it but under this government's restructuring, in fact what it could do is it could take over all the municipal services. Governments would say, why do we need municipal government? It is another level of government we don't need. We can deliver recreational services and programs. We can deliver streets, roads, highway improvements and sidewalks and so on. We can deliver fire services. We can deliver engineering. We already do that as part of our Transportation and Public Works, and the government could very well say that once we have restructured and once we got a handle on this that we will not only cause municipal amalgamation to take place but we will take over the delivery of government services.

That is what could happen. Far-fetched, one might say, but it actually can happen because government can ask itself then, why can't we deliver those programs and services and can we deliver those programs and services that municipalities already deliver at a cheaper cost and do we need another bureaucracy of government because after all, the municipalities are only here at the grace of a province. At any time that the provincial government wants to rid themselves of municipalities, just by the snap of a finger, they can do that.

AN HON. MEMBER: They did that to Bedford.

MR. PYE: Mr. Speaker, they did that to Dartmouth which are now communities through municipal amalgamation but I am talking about taking over. I am talking about the ridding of municipal government. You say it can't happen. Once government has control of restructuring under Bill No. 20, government goes the limit. Government can do any possible thing it chooses to do. It can reorganize and restructure government in a manner which many Nova Scotians would think is foreign today.

Mr. Speaker, I just want to say, the Tory Government had no difficulty with this restructuring bill because they will be able to set the reorganization that will allow them and their high paid, unaccountable appointments to make decisions for Nova Scotians without any consultation. Whatever happened to this government's campaign platform on openness and accountability of government has gone down the tubes because now in downtown Halifax, in those high-rise buildings, you just look out your window from anywhere in Nova Scotia and you see those individuals directing how government shall be delivered to Nova Scotians. Nova Scotians can go to Point Pleasant Park or they can go to the Halifax Commons and they can go to Citadel Hill and look down over the downtown Halifax and they can see that now they have no control over government anymore, that all those downtown offices and all those friends of government are now in control. They will figure, and they will do the evaluation of what kind of services and programs can be delivered.

[Page 2757]

Mr. Speaker, it is no wonder that many Nova Scotians are quite concerned with respect to what is happening with this Bill No. 20 and the restructuring of government. The seriousness of this bill - I believe this bill is some 30, or 32 pages, and allows for a wide range of restructuring within government, and we know that only after this bill is passed will Nova Scotians feel the impact of this legislation. There is not one member on the government side who was prepared and who had been prepared to speak on Bill No. 30, the Financial Measures (2001) Bill. There was not one member on the government side who was prepared to speak on the budget and its implications to Nova Scotians.

Mr. Speaker, there will not be one member in this Legislature, on the government side, who will speak to Bill No. 20, the Government Restructuring (2001) Bill. It will be left to us, over here, to speak to that legislation, and to bring about an awareness to Nova Scotians of what the impact is of this legislation. That is why we are here. That is why we are here. Yes, Mr. Speaker, I remember the laugh of the former Liberal Government, in 1999; that is why we are here; we will bring in the health plan, the $670 million health plan, it will make Nova Scotians happy, that is part of the Health Investment Fund.

This government, same thing, there are 31 members there, and they think that with 31 members that they are here forever and a day. Well, Nova Scotians have news for them, because Nova Scotians are watching this government and this government's performance. As a matter of fact, this government, I don't believe has actually increased its popularity since its anniversary date. As a matter of fact, I think it has decreased its popularity. It is going down in the polls. It has gone down in the polls, this government.

This government knows that it is not sending out the kind of agenda that Nova Scotians want, and that is why we are here. We are here to make this government accountable, and Nova Scotians are relying upon us to make sure that this Bill No. 20 gets the kind of hearing that it rightfully deserves. The only way this Bill No. 20 will get the kind of hearing it rightfully deserves is not over there in the Red Room, in this Legislative House, it will only get that kind of information and input from Nova Scotians if, in fact, it goes to the Human Resources Committee.

The Human Resources Committee, then, will be able to tour this province, listening to Nova Scotians. I can't say that enough, because this government has lost touch with Nova Scotians and why they are here. This government carried forward this blue book, and I constantly refer to this blue book, and it has gone through every seat on this Opposition side, to the point that the blue book is almost tattered. It says, this government, Strong Leadership . . . . a clear course. It has promised Nova Scotians a clear course. (Interruptions) Yes, it was tattered when they wrote it, as the member for Cape Breton East said, and it is still tattered and it is continuing to be frayed apart, because this government isn't listening to the platform that it sent out to Nova Scotians.

[Page 2758]

Mr. Speaker, the government continuously strays from this book, and it is up to us to continuously remind the government of what it said to Nova Scotians in 1999. It is up to us to remind Nova Scotians and that is why we are here and that is what we will be doing. As we will be we are reminding Nova Scotians, we are constantly reminding Nova Scotians that, in fact, what this government has committed to in the blue book, it has not fulfilled. One way that all Nova Scotians will tell that government is by making sure that this Bill No. 20 is sent to the Human Resources Committee so this Human Resources Committee will, in fact, go across this province.

Mr. Speaker, I just want to talk about changing the Liquor Commission to a Liquor Corporation. Now if that isn't a move to privatization, I certainly don't know what is. Remember the Nova Scotia Power Commission? It finally turned into a Power Corporation, then it was sold and it was sold to private industry and Nova Scotians lost some $110 million on that deal. (Interruption) They did so, Nova Scotians lost some $110 million on that deal. (Interruptions)

Obviously, the Finance Minister has a problem.

AN HON. MEMBER: He was in Cabinet.

MR. PYE: He was in Cabinet. Listen, that is the truth and that is why we are here (Interruptions) because (Interruptions) You see the Minister of Finance is very defensive. He knows full well but he doesn't want to admit to Nova Scotians that they had made a deal, that they had done wrong. They sold that and lost $110 million of Nova Scotians. The infrastructure was there. (Interruptions)

Well, Mr. Speaker, that is the kind of thing that is going to happen if, in fact, we don't allow this Bill No. 20 to go to the Human Resources Committee. The Liquor Commission is going to be privatized and who is going to get hold of the Liquor Commission? Some nice friend of the Tory Government is going to get their hands on that Liquor Commission and they are also going to get their hands on the small liquor stores that are out there across Nova Scotia, dotting Nova Scotia. They might be sold and likely they will be sold and we have to make sure that that doesn't happen. The government says, well, we want to deliver to Nova Scotians. We want to make sure that Nova Scotians can get liquor any hour of the day or night that they want it. (Interruptions)

Mr. Speaker, I know many tourists who come to Nova Scotia who go home and boast about not being able to get liquor on a Sunday, that the liquor stores are cold alcohol, alcohol on Sunday. They go back boasting about that because it is unique and it is different. If, in fact, we open the doors to privatization, and the Minister of Tourism and Culture knows full well that I don't think that it is going to be a significant add-on to the tourist industry at all.

[Page 2759]

Tourism comes to Nova Scotia because it is a unique place to come to. That is why tourists come to Nova Scotia because they know that the hospitality of Nova Scotians, not for their liquor - or for their alcohol - but for (Laughter) for their alcohol. That is the single most important thing that you have to realize, they come here to Nova Scotia because of the hospitality of Nova Scotians, because of the scenery of Nova Scotia and all the little hamlets along the dotted coastlines of Nova Scotia, that is why they come here.

Mr. Speaker, the important thing is that we cannot allow the privatization of alcohol establishments in Nova Scotia. We just simply cannot allow that to happen because it takes away from some very good well-paying jobs and it gets into the hands of the private sector who will then deliver low paid jobs without benefits and that will, in fact, cost Nova Scotians in the future. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Order please.

HON. RODNEY MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, on a point of clarification. I was just wondering if the member - first of all there is nothing in the bill that suggests that we will be selling liquor on Sunday, that is the first point. The second point, I wish that the member could clarify what his Party's position is because in October when we announced this initiative, the member for Sackville-Cobequid stood up in this House and said, I have absolutely no problem with what the minister just said and I will table that. (Applause)

[8:15 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. While the honourable Minister of Tourism and Culture did rise on a point of clarification, the honourable member for Dartmouth North is certainly welcome, if he so chooses, to explain his Party's position as requested or he can decline the invitation. The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

MR. PYE: Mr. Speaker, you said I can decline the invitation of responding to the matter. The single most important thing is that we know where this government is headed under this bill of restructuring. We know that despite what the government has considered with pilot projects, we recognize that this government, once it takes control of the Liquor Corporation, will privatize the alcohol industry.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member is impugning motives that I am sure honourable members do not agree with, but nonetheless the honourable member, carry on.

MR. PYE: Mr. Speaker, I am not imputing motives. I am particularly implying what might possibly happen. In fact, with respect to that, (Interruption) Yes, yes, I do. I do apologize. I cannot challenge the Speaker's decision and I withdraw it. (Interruptions)

[Page 2760]

You are absolutely right, Mr. Speaker. The single most important thing is that if in fact, we are going to address these issues here and the issues are very important, then, what we should do is refer this bill to the Standing Committee on Human Resources. The Human Resources Committee can then go out across this Province of Nova Scotia and they can get feedback from those workers who are employed with the Liquor Commission of Nova Scotia. They can get feedback from those individuals who are employed, the kind of services that they offer to Nova Scotians. They can get that simply by going to the Human Resources Committee and having the Human Resources Committee bring forward - the chairman of the Standing Committee on Human Resources is the honourable member for Kings North and the honourable member for Kings North obviously would want all Nova Scotians to hear the importance of this Bill No. 20.

If there is anything that member for Kings North would want to hear is what Nova Scotians want to know about the restructuring of government under Bill No. 20. That is what the member for Kings North would prefer Nova Scotians to hear, but I don't think that even if this bill went to the Human Resources Committee, that the chairman would endorse such a commitment. It would have to be debated again at the Human Resources Committee to make sure that this issue goes on the road in order that Nova Scotians have input. The only way that would happen is by the Opposition making sure that it was present at the Human Resources Committee in order to make sure that the chairman of the committee was carrying out the Legislature's commitment. Absolutely.

I just want to say, on the weekend when I visited a number of Nova Scotians - particularly in Dartmouth when I was going around - when they were speaking to me other than with respect to the cell phone bill, they were telling me that government is not listening to people anymore. Government is becoming a business - it operates like a business, it doesn't deliver the programs or services that the public has been asking for, and they feel isolated from government. They no longer feel as if they are in control. They don't believe that government is listening to them anymore.

As I said earlier, about 20 minutes ago, only 67 per cent of Nova Scotians voted for the government that is in power now. Yet, that government walks as though it had a huge majority, much the same as the former Liberal Government that had 44 members and then, five years later, found itself out in the street, in the Opposition. The same thing is going to happen to this government, the Tory Government that is now in power.

They are telling me out there that no one is listening to them. I was in the Porters Lake area, and I don't know what member represents the Porter Lake area. I have no idea, Mr. Speaker, but I must say I was down at the shopping centre on Saturday in Porters Lake and they were saying, why are you guys talking about this restructuring bill? What is it, Bill No. 20, somebody said? I said, yes, because there are some very important significant changes taking place within government. The government will be able to control who, in fact, gets what from government. They said, you can't be serious. I said, why don't you talk to your

[Page 2761]

MLA. They said, well, my MLA doesn't get up to speak. I said, what? I heard your MLA speak a few times. Now, I said, you should tell your own MLA to get up there and speak on this restructuring bill.

Mr. Speaker, I think it is significantly important, not to be intimated, but I think it is significantly important that members get up and speak on behalf of this Bill No. 20. I think the member for Preston, the member for Pictou East, the member for Pictou West, the member for Cape Breton North, the member for Eastern Shore, every member in the Opposition side of government, with the exception maybe of the Cabinet, ought to speak on Bill No. 20. They ought to enlighten us if they think that this is such a great bill. If they think that it is such a great bill and they want to speak in defence of this bill, then they should rise up individually and spend an hour. If the government members spoke on this bill it would be 31 additional hours to speak on this bill, 31 additional hours to convince us that, in fact, this is a good bill, that Bill No. 20 - Government Restructuring (2001) Bill, is a very good bill.

When I was in Porters Lake, Mr. Speaker, I want to say that the individual may not have been from the member's own riding. It might very well have been an individual from Preston. I never asked the individual where they actually resided. So the member for Preston or the member for Dartmouth South, as well, it could very well be. So you know, I think . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: Did they have a truck?

MR. PYE: Did they have a truck? It is amazing. It is odd that you should say that. Yes, I believe the pick-up truck was dark blue. We finally identified which riding the individual is from. Now all we need is for the member of that government to get up and speak on Bill No. 20 - Government Restructuring (2001) Act.

Seriously, Mr. Speaker, this Bill No. 20, we can certainly jest from time to time, but it is very important that this amendment of Bill No. 20 be particularly referred to the Human Resources Committee. I think there is such a significant direction in the way government is going to go that we need to make sure that every Nova Scotian who wants to speak on this bill has the opportunity to speak on this bill, and the only way that that can be done is by this bill being sent forward to the Human Resources Committee so that it can tour the Province of Nova Scotia and it can get the feedback from Nova Scotians throughout this province as to what potential lies within this legislative bill, Bill No. 20. Mr. Speaker, I stand here in support of this amendment simply because I believe it is my duty and it is my Party's duty and that is why we are here, to make sure that this bill gets to the Human Resources Committee so Nova Scotians get the opportunity to speak before this bill.

[Page 2762]

Mr. Speaker, as I take my place in this Legislature and allow someone else to speak, I will gladly sit down and listen to another member of this side of the floor speak because I can assure you that no other member will . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member's time has been used up.

The honourable member for Cape Breton West.

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise and make a number of observations as to why we should support this very worthwhile amendment to refer Bill No. 20 to the Human Resources Committee of the Legislature. It is an all-Party committee of the Legislature and albeit it hasn't been much productive over the last year and one-half, I would suspect there are sufficient detail and content within Bill No. 20 that would warrant a close examination at the committee level.

Mr. Speaker, there are a number of troubling aspects to Bill No. 20 that I believe do warrant close scrutiny at the committee level. First, before I even get into that particular type of detail, we have to remind ourselves of really what the government is trying to achieve with this particular piece of legislation. The government is trying to restructure government so that it takes a whole new shape, a whole new form, whole new dynamics and the process by which it will function will be changed quite dramatically. The accountability processes, the cost for the taxpayer and, indeed, the methodology by which the government would argue would make government and the Public Service more effective and efficient, thereby receiving greater value for the dollar.

Mr. Speaker, what is very disturbing about this is for a government that says that it is open and accountable and has made proclamations both within this House, in the media and across Nova Scotia, there is growing evidence that the government is trying to hide some vital information that we, in the Opposition and I am sure many of the backbenchers on the government side, would need to be able to determine with considerable confidence that Bill No. 20 is, in fact, a good piece of legislation for the people of Nova Scotia.

Let's go back to March 21st on Wednesday, when Service Nova Scotia, Access Nova Scotia came before the Public Accounts Committee. At that particular meeting, representatives from Access Nova Scotia, from Service Nova Scotia, gave an unqualified commitment that they would provide the recommendations that were made to P&P with regard to the restructuring of government. That was an unqualified commitment. Mr. Speaker, you having been a former member of the Public Accounts Committee, know what that commitment means. That is an equivalent of an Order of the Legislature.

Mr. Speaker, again, during budget deliberations, the minister responsible for this department gave a commitment that he would provide those recommendations that were made by that department to P&P with regard to the restructuring of government.

[Page 2763]

[8:30 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, it was very disappointing that on April 25, 2001, when representatives from Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations sent a letter to the Clerk of the Public Accounts Committee, and the director states of a list of the recommendations made by the service division of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations to the minister concerning the program review that department staff are reviewing this request and a response will be provided within the next few weeks.

What a coincidence, Mr. Speaker, that the minister and the government are trying to ram Bill No. 20 down the throats of Nova Scotians, get it passed before they provide this vital detail as to the effect of what this government is trying to do. What is this government trying to hide? I know it's not parliamentary to say cowardice, but what is the minister responsible for this department trying to hide? What is the Chairman of P&P trying to hide? The commitment was made to provide this vital detail before this bill was called for second reading and the government is showing contempt for the people of Nova Scotia by doing what it's doing. You wonder why we would ask that this be referred to a committee of the Legislature. Because the government is not being forthright, not only with the people in this Chamber, but indeed with the people of Nova Scotia. If it is so good, there should be little fear of tabling that information.

This letter was signed by Graham Poole who is the director in that particular division. We had a commitment from Mr. Poole; we had a commitment from Ms. Cathy Smith, who spoke on behalf of the department; and we had a commitment from the minister responsible for the department. Where is that information, Mr. Speaker? What is the government hiding on the people of Nova Scotia; what's so terrible? The only recommendation that that department would release to date was the closing down of the Government Bookstore. Well, whoop-de-do! (Interruption) And a smug little response from the Minister of Justice, didn't notice did you? You wouldn't expect much better from a Rambo Justice Minister who is preoccupied with gun legislation. That's about all we can expect from him, going soft on smugglers for tobacco. (Interruption)

Well, he may be smug and think it's good for Lunenburg, but is it good for Nova Scotians? Is that the type of justice we can expect, what's only good for his constituency? He should be ashamed of himself, to say the least. That's why people are losing confidence in that honourable minister and that ministry, because of his smug, high-handed, Brian Mulroney-type attitude. (Laughter) He was taught by the best. Go back and check the history of that honourable member before he came to the Legislature. He was quite an advocate of the Honourable Brian Mulroney. He was his mentor, so we wouldn't expect much better, and now he's trying to inflict it on the people of Nova Scotia. (Interruptions) I will speak for the people that I was an advocate for, I can assure you of that.

[Page 2764]

Mr. Speaker, suffice it to say, we would expect the minister, or at least the Chairman of P&P, to stand in his place, do the honourable thing and table that information so that all members of this Legislature can examine the detail and perhaps give the confidence to the government that this bill may very well deserve. But how can we do it when the government is saying one thing and doing another? That's not the open and accountable government that they promised Nova Scotians; that's not what they promised. Yet they will send letters back and say, we will give it to you in a few weeks, after the House rises. That sounds like the ghosts of John Buchanan are still alive. It is very relative.

AN HON. MEMBER: In the fullness of time.

MR. MACKINNON: In the fullness of time. In a few weeks. (Interruptions) We are hearing some very faint rumblings from the backbenchers over there, but once they understand . . .

MR. SPEAKER: I am sure the honourable member is aware that he is speaking to the amendment to refer the subject matter of Bill No. 20 to the Human Resources Committee. I fail to see what Brian Mulroney, John Buchanan and faint voices have to do with the amendment. I would just point that out for the honourable member's information.

MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, you have just answered my question. Information. We are not getting it because these people are trying to re-enact or reincarnate all that went wrong before. That is really why we want it to go to a committee, because we don't want to return to the days of John Buchanan in this Legislature.

Let me focus on another aspect of this bill, the workers' compensation system. Under this particular piece of legislation, this will now come under the direct responsibility of the Treasury and Policy Board. Talk about politicization of the Workers' Compensation Board, putting this under the Public Service, that is what Bill No. 20 will do. That is why we believe that the stakeholders, the major stakeholders in this province, the employers and the employees and ultimately back to the taxpayers, should this go through, because what it will do is it will again, once again, bankrupt the Workers' Compensation Board. This is probably the most troubling piece of Bill No. 20.

Let's go back and review a little bit of history, to present the argument as to why this should go to the Human Resources Committee. This is how bad it was, back during the John Buchanan days, and why the substantive changes were made through several select committees of the Legislature and, indeed, with the legislation, the Workers' Compensation Act that was brought in under the Honourable Jay Abbass, as flawed as it may be in some respects, but certainly a lot better than what it was. Again, with Bill No. 90, back in 1998-99. Here is how bad it was, and this is what will happen if Bill No. 20 goes through in its present form.

[Page 2765]

As one presenter made under the heading of Patronage in the Workers' Compensation Board, and this was the select committee of November 1990, the Workers' Compensation Board system of Nova Scotia has been and continues to be a cesspool of political patronage, from the appointment of Reg Allen, the former campaign chairman of then-Premier, now-Senator John Buchanan as chairman and the sole board member, the sole board member, of the WCB to the ongoing appointments of political, chosen lawyers to represent injured workers.

Mr. Speaker, Bill No. 20 is the licence to go back to what just about bankrupted and destroyed the workers' compensation system in Nova Scotia. This no-fault insurance plan - as flawed as it may be in some respects - the fact that it doesn't deal with environmental sensitivity, the fact that one could argue the issues surrounding chronic pain are too restrictive, or what have you, in terms of the compensation packages, we cannot allow Nova Scotians to be dragged back into that type of politics.

To do away with the independence of the workers' compensation system and drag it in under the direct command of the Minister of Environment and Labour would absolutely be scary to say the least, given a minister that can't even stand in his place and answer one full question in Question Period on any issue in his department. The confidence of the members of the Legislature here today - what happened in this very Chamber today - demonstrates the lack of confidence in that honourable minister. He couldn't even get a simple resolution proclaiming this week as the week of occupational health and safety. He couldn't even get that, but yet a member of the Opposition could do it. That is how little confidence his own government has.

HON. DAVID MORSE: That's because I voted for yours and you vetoed me.

MR. MACKINNON: Well, the honourable minister, and I know if there were a recorded vote, it would be very difficult for that member to say that because . . .

MR. MORSE: I was willing to rise above the partisanship.

MR. MACKINNON: I know you are going to rule me as being out of order but I am going to tell you, Mr. Speaker, I checked and that honourable Minister of Environment and Labour was not in his place when the vote was taken, Mr. Speaker, so don't pay too much attention to that foolishness.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member for Cape Breton West is correct about one thing. The Speaker will admonish him for suggesting that an honourable member was either in or out of his place and I would ask the honourable member to refrain from that type of discussion.

[Page 2766]

MR. MACKINNON: Yes, thank you, Mr. Speaker, but the fact of the matter is, I was right, so I will not pursue it any further.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. MACKINNON: On Page 8 of this particular (Interruption) Well, Mr. Speaker, if the honourable Minister of Environment and Labour would love to get up and engage in a debate on the workers' compensation system, I would be more than pleased, but I doubt if he will. I doubt if he has gumption enough to get up and try and defend what is happening in Bill No. 20. I am not sure if he is even aware of the implications of this.

The unfunded liability that was perpetrated on the people of Nova Scotia under the Buchanan Regime was unprecedented. How many times did the annual reports and the audited statements come before this House? Everything was fine and dandy until the Auditor General stepped in and then we found out that the place was just about bankrupt. I will quote how bad it was and this is what Bill No. 20 will do if it is not referred to a committee.

On the issue of rate setting for the investment portfolio, in 1985 the rates were established in a completely subjective manner. There was no consideration given to the cost incurred by the accident fund by the various user firms. Also, the rates were based on total historical costs since coming into the being of the workers' compensation. Clearly, that type of subjective politics into this process will not be tolerated. I can prove to you why it will not be tolerated - because of the Occupational Health and Safety Act.

The Occupational Health and Safety Act was brought in primarily because of the way the Department of Labour was run under that Buchanan Regime and, yes, it came to a focus and in a mere two days time, we will be - I don't know if you can use the word celebrate - marking a moment in time, a very fateful moment in time for a number of miners at Westray in Pictou County, May 9th at approximately 5:30 a.m. Perhaps the government members may not want to think about that in two days time. That government of the day should have been ashamed of themselves and that is why we cannot allow Bill No. 20 to drag the workers' compensation system back into the cesspool, as has been noted by the presenter before that select committee.

[8:45 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Environment and Labour tabled in this House, several weeks ago, his annual report, or the annual report of the Workers' Compensation Board. Again, the evidence is clear, and I don't blame it all on this particular minister, I blame as much on his predecessor because his predecessor saw the bill, the amendment to the Occupational Health and Safety Act, bringing in the sunset clause, doing away with safety regulations, but yet this junior, who seems to know very little about the process, has become nothing more than a cheerleader for what is going wrong.

[Page 2767]

Mr. Speaker, the evidence is in his own report and I will quote from Page 34 of his report. "In 2000: The total number of time-loss claims in 2000 is 9,061. This represents an 11 % increase from the 1999 total of 8,200." Clearly, the change in the legislation last year has given the signal that safety is not a priority. Let's not just take it at that. Let's look at further evidence in the report. "The average duration of time-loss claims increased by 3.5 % . . ." Again, a signal to those who have no respect for the work safety of employees, whether it be at Amherst Fabricators or the Yarmouth and Valley Hospitals or what have you. That Minister of Environment and Labour is a sad excuse for standing up for the safety laws of this province. That is why we have to send it to . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I am willing to allow the honourable member for Cape Breton West quite a bit of latitude, but not to get personal like he is. I would ask him to retract that and bring his comments back to the amendment that is before the House at this time and refrain from getting personal with the other members.

MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, I draw those points in his capacity as a minister, not personal. If they do sound to be personal, I apologize because they are meant to be in his ministerial capacity. The evidence is quite clear that this minister and this government have a total disregard for what people are telling them, they are turning back the hands of time when it comes to safety. Clearly, his department's own reports indicate for a need for us to go to an all-Party committee of the Legislature to examine why Clause 10 of this particular bill, Bill No. 20, should be examined very closely, Part V - Labour Department Act, is repealed.

It is absolutely scary to put an independent board under a very comprehensive piece of legislation with other companion legislation such as the Occupational Health and Safety Act, albeit as much as it was tampered with, to put that in the hands of politicians who have, in many regards, little comprehension for the mechanics of what it takes to operate that board. What that will mean are increased incidents of preventable claims. There will be more claims, there will be more time lost, there will be more people hurt, it will get progressively worse.

Mr. Speaker, another reasons why they should be submitted to the Human Resources Committee is because, and senior members of the Legislature will remember (Interruptions) under the old . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: . . . not old people.

MR. MACKINNON: Senior members.

AN HON MEMBER: Does that mean old?

[Page 2768]

MR. MACKINNON: It could be states people of the Legislature, will remember when 95 per cent of all claims that went to the higher appeals division were overturned, because it was clearly demonstrated that the decisions at the lower level were politically based. Many of those claims were politically based and we have select committee upon select committee in the Legislature that point towards that, and putting the Workers Compensation Board under the control, direct management of the minister is a recipe for disaster. It is a recipe for disaster for the employees, for the employers and for the taxpayers of Nova Scotia. The unfunded liability, which was somewhere in the vicinity of $476 million running at around 25 or 30 per cent when the Honourable Jay Abbass took over in 1993, is now running close to 70 per cent of fundability because of good management and tough decisions, and this government wants to take it back. I say, no. I will bet a dime to a dollar there will be stakeholders from one end of this province to the other lined up at the Law Amendments Committee, if not before the Human Resources Committee of the Legislature, should this motion be approved, which I am somewhat suspect given the dynamics of the numbers in the House, and let's be realistic.

Mr. Speaker, I would be very surprised if we didn't see representatives from the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, Canadian Manufacturers Alliance, which by the way is the single largest stakeholder in the Workers' Compensation Board. Another reason it should be referred to the committee is because it doesn't make any sense. It doesn't make any sense to repeal this Act and politicize the workers' compensation system when the minister himself has just appointed a committee to review the workers' compensation system. What in the name of heavens is going on over there? He just appointed a committee of industry and labour representatives to review the processes in the workers' compensation system and now we are going to do away with all of that with the stroke of a pen. It is almost like the left hand doesn't know what the right hand is doing over there. Unless the Minister of Environment and Labour is so junior and is kept out of the dark as to what is happening at P&P, that it is not going to make a difference anyway, they are just going to railroad things right over him anyway.

Mr. Speaker, it doesn't make sense. It is bad enough that the minister will appoint members, individuals to that particular committee who didn't even know they were appointed and then resigned. That will demonstrate quite clearly how political this process is even under what little control the minister does have. Yes, the minister appointed people, sent out wonderful thank you letters for accepting their position on this review panel only to find out that a resignation was coming forth. Yes, and I understand that a second one has come forth in the last week. Do you know why? Because it would have been nice if the minister had a least taken the time, or if somebody in his department had taken the time to ask them if they would like to serve on the board. One lady was in England and didn't even know she was put on the board. That is why it is best to send it to the Human Resources Committee, where we can have some accountability.

[Page 2769]

You wonder why I don't have confidence in that minister, in that department. He could have at least asked one of the backbenchers to say, hey, do you know somebody in your constituency who would make a good representative on that board? I am sure somebody in the Opposition would have known. You wonder why it may sound like it is a little personal. Well, I guess it is personal because I worry about what this government and this minister will do to the workers of Nova Scotia should that be politicized through Bill No. 20. That's why the stakeholders should be consulted and not by that silly process. That is exactly what it is, a silly process appointing people because you think they might be a good Tory. There is more to it than that. The honourable minister knows that, surely to heavens.

Do you know what is even more disturbing about Bill No. 20, Mr. Speaker, and why it should be sent over to that committee? Well, let's just take a look. On Page 11, Clause 23. Well, well, well, do you know what it does? It allows the government to establish liquor outlets in drugstores. Now, this is a new twist. Now we are going to start setting up liquor stores inside drugstores. Is this the new health care industry that the Minister of Health is now promoting? I quote from the minister's own legislation, "Clause 23 repeals the prohibition against liquor stores being placed in a business that also contains a drugstore." (Interruption)

Well, well, the Minister of Health says I am against private business. Well, we know how strong he was on the tobacco smuggling. Lots of bravado but when it got to Cabinet and it got to the budget, he came out with a whimper, Mr. Speaker; the single largest budgetary item in government and that's the best he can do, is be a cheerleader. Now he is supporting liquor stores in drugstores. Well, well, well, that's an all-time low for this government. Instead of trying to help people, at the rate they are going they might as well set up liquor stores in detox centres. That's just about what it is coming to. (Applause) I never saw anything so ridiculous in all my life.

AN HON. MEMBER: They're applauding it.

MR. MACKINNON: They are applauding it, Mr. Speaker. Holy whistling. (Interruptions) Yes, you wonder why we would want to send this off to Human Resources. It is food for thought. Not drink for thought, food for thought.

Who in the name of heavens, certainly that wouldn't have been one of the recommendations that came from Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations. Maybe that is why the government didn't want the recommendations from Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations to be publicized. Maybe that's why they are not going to release them until after Bill No. 20 is approved. If this goes before the Human Resources Committee, maybe we will be able to "ferret it out" and we can have people from across Nova Scotia - I don't know of any drugstore owners, any pharmacists who have put an application in to the minister's department responsible for the Liquor Commission asking that they be allowed to sell alcohol. This is just something else.

[Page 2770]

Mr. Speaker, even the issue in terms of a plebiscite as to whether you would allow a particular town or village or community to have the option of selling alcohol, having a Liquor Commission or outlet, or what have you, or not having one.

[9:00 p.m.]

The wording in here is too general, which is another reason, because they just simply refer to the municipality; that's what they refer to, the municipality. You take the Municipality of Halifax, Halifax County, that's a large municipality. People in the Eastern Shore may not want it, but does that mean that everybody outside the Eastern Shore can vote and insist on a liquor outlet in the Eastern Shore? I wouldn't think that was the intent, but certainly the wording would lead one to believe that. Again, these are the types of issues that could be dealt with.

Bill No. 20 is a very, very dangerous piece of legislation. We recall years ago, under the previous Tory Administration, the hiring processes. Even in this bill, Mr. Speaker, the processes that we have gone through from approximately 1992, and in fairness to the then Premier Donald Cameron, who started to depoliticize that Public Service process, he did some things that were wrong and that's why he ended up getting defeated, but on this particular issue we have to give him some credit. That was carried forth under the Savage Administration, right up through until this government came into power.

What Bill No. 20 does, Mr. Speaker, is it eliminates that non-partisan competition for the Public Service, that's what Bill No. 20 does. (Interruption) Well, I know it's not appropriate to go in clause by clause, but let's put it this way, the smiles on the ministers on the front benches speaks for itself. The ones on the second row, well, they are still dazed and confused. They aren't even on the Richter scale, the ones in the third row. As far as the greeter from Wal-Mart down at the back, the member for Preston, we just won't waste too much energy there.

Another reason why Bill No. 20 has to be referred to a committee, is with regard to education. It's the darnedest thing. I guess maybe being a surveyor, we are always required, Mr. Speaker, as yourself in your previous life as a police officer, it's like a puzzle. You are looking for evidence and you start putting pieces of the puzzle together and in the final analysis you are able to determine whether you have sufficient pieces of the puzzle to make a decision as to whether you can come to a specific conclusion. That's what's happening in Bill No. 20 and why it should be referred to the Human Resources Committee.

Mr. Speaker, in May 2000, the Halifax Regional School Board prepared a report called Evaluation of High Schools. In that particular report it came to the conclusion that the Halifax Regional School Board would require approximately $115 million to address the dismal state of the schools in the Halifax Regional School Board because of issues of occupational health and safety. It is surprising, the number of schools in the Halifax Regional

[Page 2771]

School Board that have asbestos in them. These issues are very pressing issues and how does it tie into Bill No. 20 and why would we want it sent to the Standing Committee on Human Resources? Quite clearly, because of what is happening right at the doors of the Legislature, with the custodian strike.

This bill, in conjunction with the Education Act that was brought before this House last year, Section 10C of the Education Act effectively gives the Minister of Education the licence to take over all or part of the Halifax Regional School Board. We saw what happened with the Southwest School Board - it will be interesting to see. I hear the member for Halifax Bedford Basin say, good. She must be advocating doing away with the Halifax Regional School Board. The proof is in the pudding. Let's give her a little latitude, let's see where she stands on where the students from Halifax West should be going on the split shifts at J.L. Ilsley or, dispersing to a number of other institutions. Let's see where she will stand in the fall semester because it goes right back to the mindset of what is going on in Bill No. 20 and why this should be referred to the committee.

This government, this minister, has given the Halifax Regional School Board the licence to cut Mr. Reid loose to do what he wants over there. Beat up on those custodians - browbeat them until there is no organized labour within the Halifax Regional School Board. When you look at what is happening over there, it is all about financial accountability, isn't it? Well, the member for Halifax Bedford Basin again agrees with me. Financial accountability. At least we have gone beyond milk and cookies, we are getting at least a cheerleading section.

They are going to use the ones at the bottom of the heap, so to speak, as the whipping agents to start cutting costs. Do you know what it is? It is a false economy. It is a false economy that Mr. Reid is perpetrating on the Halifax Regional School Board and I don't fault many of those elected school board members because if we listen very carefully to what the Auditor General has said, and a number of school board members what they have said publicly, they have not been given the information. They have not been given sufficient detail to make a complete, reasoned decision on these school closures.

AN HON. MEMBER: Then why are they making the decision?

MR. MACKINNON: The question was asked, why are they making these decisions? That is a very good question. Part of the problem is perhaps we have elected school board representatives who are only on a part-time basis.

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: The honourable member for Cape Breton West is talking about questions - I wonder if the honourable member would entertain a question?

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Cape Breton West, would you accept a question?

[Page 2772]

MR. MACKINNON: Yes.

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

MR. TAYLOR: The honourable member during his somewhat wide-ranging discourse indicated that the Savage Regime and the Liberal Regime in 1993 was quite conscientious of employees and privatization and things of that nature. I wonder if the honourable member could tell this House why it was that Savage Regime, barely a short 8 to 10 months after assuming office, did some political ethnic cleansing of their own and fired outright 161 - the majority of them good, solid Department of Transportation and Public Works - superintendents and area foremen. People from the community. Perhaps the honourable member could answer his position on that particular initiative that was undertaken by the Savage Regime - 161 good employees.

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

MR. MACKINNON: I think that is a very good question; it is. It is very sincere and I think it has some wide-reaching implications. Part of the problem with that, and I have to confess I wasn't the minister at the time and I am not going to pretend to know all the detail, but I will try and answer it to the best of my ability. I think part of the problem with that process is that it was an evolutionary process going from . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: Evolutionary.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, ramblings of the Rambo Justice Minister. I would like to answer the honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley. It was a changing process. As the honourable member would well know, back in the days of both the Liberal and Conservative Administrations where patronage was the norm of the day, there was (Interruptions)

AN HON. MEMBER: So the people appointed were patronage appointments?

MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, I am trying to answer, but the foolish talk from the Minister of Justice. I would honestly like to answer the member because it is a very important question because it affects the lives of several dozens of people, if not hundreds of people. I think there was a flaw in that process. There should have been some type of a grandfather process put in that to allow individuals who were on the job for any considerable amount of time; that would have allowed for their years of experience to be considered. I do believe that.

[Page 2773]

Again, I think the honourable member knows full well that I wasn't privy to all the Cabinet discussions because I wasn't a member of Cabinet. But that would have been one thought process that I would have entertained and it would have, to me, been there. But the fact that there was a reasonably open, a fair competition subsequent to that, I think that helped to address some of the imbalances. The honourable member is quite correct, Mr. Speaker. There were some flaws in that process that I could detect.

AN HON. MEMBER: A broken promise.

MR. MACKINNON: The honourable member says a broken promise. I can't comment other than the promises I made, and I don't make promises. I will make a commitment if I am going to do something or not do something. I have never made a promise since I have come to this Legislature and I have no intentions of doing such.

Mr. Speaker, that is what the honourable member should certainly be aware of because that is what his government is now going to do at the Workers' Compensation Board. They are going to politicize it. They are going to put it right under the Policy and Management Board. They are going to do away with that independent board that we now have in place, so it is certainly an opportunity for the member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley, and all members of the Legislature, to learn from past experiences.

Perhaps the honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley would stand in his place and support the reason why this bill should be sent to the Human Resources Committee, or at least stand in his place and try and defend Bill No. 20 and show us why, perhaps, we are wrong for making this argument. Perhaps the honourable member would stand in his place and make a public plea to the Minister of Service Nova Scotia and/or the Chairman of Priorities and Planning, who is holding back. They are hiding vital information that is important to Bill No. 20. That is why we are quite concerned and that is why we think this should go to the Human Resources Committee. It is all about accountability.

Mr. Speaker, it is all about accountability. I want to go back to the Halifax District School Board because it does tie in to Bill No. 20, because we are talking significant numbers . . .

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. While the honourable member's discourse is a brilliant ramble on the history of the 20th Century and, indeed, the member indicated that he was going to return to the bill, unfortunately the member is speaking to the hoist amendment (Interruptions) Sorry, the reference to the committee, which is a dilatory motion. Perhaps the honourable member could be frequently reminded to return to speak to the motion and not to the bill, or anything else.

[Page 2774]

[9:15 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you. (Interruptions) Order, please. The honourable member rose on a point of order. The honourable member for Cape Breton West did allow for a question and he did make an attempt to answer that question, and I think now would probably be a good time to return to the debate at hand, which is the motion to refer the bill to the committee.

The honourable member for Cape Breton West has the floor.

MR. MACKINNON: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, and to make the case for why this particular bill should be referred to the Human Resources Committee, I felt it was important to provide sufficient detail on particular arguments. Now, if the Minister of Justice is preoccupied with dilatory or stuff like that, silly interventions, well, that's up to himself. He didn't add much constructive to the honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

The reason why I focus on this considerable issue with the Halifax Regional School Board is because of the restructuring of government in this particular bill. The implications are profound, because we are dealing with such large amounts of money, taxpayers' dollars, just on the premises alone; $115 million just to deal with the issues of OH&S: asbestos, leaking roofs and so on. That's why Bill No. 20, if it were to proceed, would just rubber-stamp this entire series of processes and pieces of legislation that have been put in place, to a point of no return.

Perhaps, if the Chairman of P&P and the government - certainly the minister responsible for introducing the bill - have an opportunity to make the argument as to why we are so wrong on some of these points. But then again, I believe the honourable minister knows full well the implications of what is happening, because the two primary issues of profound magnitude in terms of budgetary issues are health and education.

Mr. Speaker, it seems as if the member for Halifax Bedford Basin supports doing away with the Halifax Regional School Board. I won't get into it tonight because time is a little limited, but I would be quite interested in discussing the letter that the honourable member for Halifax Bedford Basin sent to the chairman of the Halifax Regional School Board in recent days. (Interruptions) Yes, she did. In fact, as I understand it, she suggested that the member for Cape Breton West should apologize to the Halifax Regional School Board for his condemnations in the House against that board. Well, don't tell me (Interruptions) Yes. I'm not sure if she put a couple of cookies in that large envelope or not.

She should stand in her place and try to explain to the students in her constituency what Bill No. 20 will do if it doesn't go before the Human Resources Committee. Which does she really favour, the split shift over at J.L. Ilsley? You know what, that's not very good. When

[Page 2775]

they go semestering in the fall, that's not going to be good for the students coming from Halifax West, and she knows that. But that's only option number one. Option number two is to disperse all those students into several other schools.

She refuses to stand up and take a stand. She refuses to stand up for her constituents; she's hiding, hoping, just hoping that Mr. Reid, who that government and that minister has cut loose, will be able to solve the problem for them. Well, he's not going to solve the problem, he is compounding the problem. And that member for Halifax Bedford Basin will be known as a one-termer, because she has failed to stand up for her constituents when they need her the most. That's why sending Bill No. 20 to the Human Resources Committee would at least allow her constituents to come before this all-Party committee and have their say.

I have said before and I will say it again, I don't blame the elected members of the school board but I do point the finger at the chairman, for quietly acquiescing to the actions of Mr. Reid. What a contrast, Mr. Speaker, to June, 1994, when she came before the Law Amendments Committee and this is what she said with regard to the issue of governance and matters of the Halifax District School Board, that change for the province's schools should be based on solid, documented rationale and be taken only after careful and considered consultation with all stakeholders in education, our students deserve no less. One Ms. Sandra Everett, President of the Nova Scotia School Boards Association. What do we get today? We get a cop-out. We get an apologist for the government. What does the member for Halifax Bedford Basin do, sit quietly and do nothing, nothing for the students from Halifax West. That is why it has to be sent to an all-Party committee of the Legislature.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I would suggest to the honourable member for Cape Breton West that the matter of just mentioning the word, referral, to the committee I don't think covers the aspect of it being relevant. (Interruption) Human Resources Committee, you even have me confused. So I would ask the honourable member to bring his comments back, he has about three minutes left and I would ask if he could spend the next three minutes maybe talking about referral to the committee.

The honourable member for Cape Breton West has the floor.

MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, I believe that all of these issues surrounding the Halifax Regional School Board should be referred to the Human Resources Committee before Bill No. 20 proceeds any further. That is as clear as we can make it, because the Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations won't provide the detail despite a commitment, a public commitment. The Chairman of P&P who sponsored the bill refuses to provide the detail. That's why people are suspect, because it conjures up all these memories of what went on from 1978 to 1993.

AN HON. MEMBER: And who was in power?

[Page 2776]

MR. MACKINNON: Who was part and parcel, Mr. Speaker? The more things change, the more they stay the same with this lot across. That's what so disappointing.

Mr. Speaker, this is why it has to be sent to the Human Resources Committee. (Interruption) The Minister of Justice is coming alive over there. This is what the chairperson of the school board says that the elected member should do. I think the information is there from various sources for board members to look at and make some kind of a rational decision not a detailed, not a comprehensive, an informed decision, just some kind of rational decision.

In the name of Heavens what is this? Is this some kind of cat and mouse game that is being played with the lives of the children in the Halifax Regional School Board, Mr. Speaker? I think this is absolutely shameful, especially the members for the Halifax district, from Halifax County, what is happening to the students and the parents and the teachers and all the stakeholders, the custodians? Where are they when all of these stakeholders need them? The best we can hope for is "let the process work." Well, well, well, I would be remiss if I didn't make an observation about the Minister of Tourism and Culture. In his previous life he signed some petitions, he signed some petitions before this House and it would be interesting to see if they show up at the Human Resources Committee and I am sure that they will, but we will let it go at that. I realize that my time is drawing to an end - I have approximately six seconds - but I will look forward to coming back and speaking on the principle of second reading on a future day.

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

MR. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, it gives me pleasure to stand in my place and speak about the amendment to Bill No. 20, to refer back or send over to the Human Resources Committee. You know, Bill No. 20 is like so many other bills, kind of a hallmark of the way this government has been governing the Province of Nova Scotia, because what they do is give these large, omnibus-style bills and within that are hidden little gems, if you will, that aren't usually very intriguing for Nova Scotians. We had that in the Municipalities Act, we have had it in the Sysco bill, and we have had it in various bills we have seen come before this House. That by itself is one very real reason why this bill should be referred to committee because you know, the government itself, and I am not chiding anybody in particular over there, but the government as a whole over there, if each person was to stand up and say quote chapter and verse on the bill, they still wouldn't understand the bill and probably they are not supposed to and that is within some fairness.

There are some real problems within this bill and in the next while I hope to articulate some of them from our perspective and that is what it is, it is our perspective and I don't mind particularly having a different perspective on a bill than this government; it makes me feel good actually. That doesn't necessarily mean that the government is wrong, but I think the government should own up to what is in their legislation. As I said previously, the

[Page 2777]

hallmark of this government is sending in large bills and hiding things. One just has to go back to the first budget I believe when the Premier himself was asked about things that were in it he said you will have to ferret those out yourself. I guess maybe one could say he is right in being coy but I don't think is being responsible to Nova Scotians. I think the responsibility of he and his ministers is to tell Nova Scotians what their proposals are. It is not to simply hid things from the Opposition members and then when we clear the House we start finding out the problems.

Mr. Speaker, by way of example I will show you why I think that referral would be a good idea here. If you remember the Municipalities Act - I forget the bill number - but we cleared the House, everyone was away and then it is known that the door is open for assessment that the people that laid the pipeline could then go back and renegotiate rates with the municipalities. Certainly that wasn't contemplated in any large form in that bill, but certainly it was part of a caveat in that bill and now we find that municipalities are out having to negotiate.

Again, one could debate this either side, but most municipalities say it is kind of onerous on us to go and try to bang heads and talk about rates with large oil companies who have much greater financial capacity and so on, to debate these things with us and we would be at a disadvantage.

[9:30 p.m.]

That is not to say that these municipalities lack substance or intelligence, Mr. Speaker, it is just that municipalities operate on a very fine line, financially, and they don't have the financial wherewithal to come across these large multinational oil companies. That was in a bill that all Parties voted on. Some voted for it, some voted against. But in no way did the government put forward that this was a part of this bill. I would say that it was something in there that they were just as happy that, during debate, it didn't hit the light of day. To say they were trying to hide it, or to use another word that is unparliamentary, so I won't use it, but I think you know where I am going with it. They were just as happy that we didn't find that out.

Mr. Speaker, those things, that's another one. I want to give you another one. It was when the Minister responsible for Sysco put the Sysco bill forward. We believe that that bill was way out of bounds when it talked about the environment and we still do, to this day, agree with that. The minister, to his part, disagrees. But I think that was something that if it was put out to a broader audience, if you want to call it that, that I think our position would have been verified. It really was taking away the rights of some people as it comes to control of their own environment. But it was in a bill that I don't think the context of a piece of environmental legislation being in the sale of Sydney Steel. I think that should have been a separate piece of legislation that we would deal with it on its own merits and it wouldn't implicate that bill whatsoever.

[Page 2778]

Another one I would say, since this government has been in power, Mr. Speaker, are some of the Education Act changes. You see how they put a large thing in and what, from time to time, from our perspective again, a bad bill. They put in provisions for the African-Nova Scotian representatives on school boards, which is a good idea. But what they do, is they put that in and you kind of look at that in the context of the other information in that bill and that has really no real context to that Education Act. While it may be education related, I think in a greater sphere of that Act, it had little or nothing to do with it and it was a way to say, if you vote against this bill, you are voting against African-Nova Scotians, which I don't think was the intent of anybody.

By way of example, Mr. Speaker, I lay those out to you because I think that is what this government is all about. It is about making bigger pieces of legislation that go beyond what I think we are doing here. You can use terms such as using a maul hammer to kill an ant. I think the Government House Leader the other day was quoted as saying that all this bill does is enshrine what we have already done. If that was the case, then I don't think we would be at that spot. If that, indeed, was the sole attempt here of government, then government should say, look. We will get all this other onerous stuff out of that bill and we will put them in stand-alone legislation. Then we will deal with what the Government House Leader has clearly stated as information just to reflect changes in departments, how they are set up, and in ministries, how they are set up. But I think this bill, again, goes beyond that scope. So, therefore, we have to say, whoa. What else is here? We clear this House and we find out all these other little nasties that may be in this bill.

So, Mr. Speaker, we have been in this House now about 25 days so far. Really, we haven't passed a whole lot of substantive legislation. I don't think anything has been proclaimed yet. The farthest we have gone, I think, is a couple of trips over to the Red Room for the Law Amendments Committee and that is it. We haven't gone to the Committee of the Whole House on Bills. I hear the member for Preston over there wailing on. This has nothing to do with delay. If that member thinks this is what this is all about, if he doesn't believe that debate is necessary in this House, then what does he believe in? If we can't come up here and debate the merits of a bill - does he want to sit in his seat and sulk and cry because we want to debate a bill? I was very generous about this. I said, this bill is not about right and wrong, it is about perspectives. When we debate it, that is what he is going to find out. If that is the level of debate that is going to come from the other side, no wonder Nova Scotians have lost their faith somewhat in the democratic process.

I am not lowering myself to his level, but it is interesting to note that. I think if Hansard bears out how I opened my remarks and how he sits back there and snipes and plays like a guard of the back door, or whatever he does, in that government, I don't know, but Mr. Speaker, it says a lot because I care what is in this bill. I want to find out what the good things are in here for Nova Scotians. If there are bad things, it is my job whether he likes it or not, to show it. Quite simply, that is why we are here. For him to whine - there are all

[Page 2779]

kinds of other names I could think of, but I couldn't say them in this House, I certainly wouldn't be around here very long if I did.

With that said, I want to talk about what I believe and what my Party believes. The impact of this bill is on certain departments and the previous speaker to me spent a good deal of time talking about the Workers' Compensation Act and the board in particular and how this is going to impact on it. We all know - and I don't know whether the Minister of Environment and Labour will admit to this, but I know and my colleagues across the way may very well know - that he had a visit from senior staff of WCB . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: Who did?

MR. CORBETT: The Minster of Environment and Labour. He had a visit recently - since this bill has been introduced and - what I am told - they told him in no uncertain terms of their fear of the impact of this bill. (Interruptions) Well, one person told me - and again, not to rely on the words of the member for Cape Breton West, but we agree on this - it is a revisiting of the Reg Allen days. I don't know which debacle Reg Allen, his worst foist on Nova Scotia. Was it what he did to WCB or what he did to the Halifax-Dartmouth Bridge Commission here? We will be paying the Reg Allen legacy - until our grandchildren have grandchildren. (Interruptions) Well, it is. The operatives have to have someone to report to and that is certainly what it was, but I am just talking about one individual, one individual that was allowed to run amok in this province, and with taxpayers' money.

Well, WCB is an interesting group because what we look at is it had such a huge unfunded liability. It was, as what some would say, a patronage pig. I don't know if that is parliamentary or not, but I just mean it in very real terms. It was used as a farm animal to hive off parts to help people in a very patronage way. It was not meant to serve. It was supposed to serve Nova Scotians.

So, what did we have out of that system? We had employers - if you knew the right guy - that you were not paying your fair share of premiums. You weren't paying your fair share - you could go and attend a meeting with certain people and those in this Chamber who are much more knowledgeable about the WCB than I am, know there is a booklet and it is called the Standard Industry Code; it is called SIC. What SIC is is an industry standard used across the country to find out what the rates of premiums should be if you are an employer in a certain industry. So let's say coal mining on average is $8.00 on the 100 and then you have incident ratings on top of that. But in the heady days of the Buchanan era, you could circumvent that by the pals Act and maybe all of a sudden your are paying $2.00 on the 100 if you're a pal. It would be interesting to see what the rate was for Westray compared to the Cape Breton Development Corporation.

[Page 2780]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I would just remind the honourable member that the hour is getting late and that he is debating the issue of referring the matter to the Human Resources Committee, and I would ask him to bring his comments back to that and reasons why the honourable member feels that should be the case in support of the motion.

MR. CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, you are absolutely right, thanks for bringing me back; as usual, fair and honest, the trademark of your Chair. I wanted to lay that out because it is important because this bill, if it is referred back to the Standing Committee on Human Resources, it would give that very group that had to meet with the minister - and we don't know whether that is going to get a fair airing from the minister, we don't how much weight that minister carries in Cabinet. When the heavy hauling is going on in Cabinet, is he sent out for coffee? I don't know.

So rather than the executive members of WCB having to try to get an audience with the minister, they could have an open and fair airing of what their fears are about Bill No. 20, that workers' compensation will not be thrown back some 20-some years, or 15 years, into this "debt spiralling out of the way" regime that it was under the Buchanan era. Many had put on our desks here today the Occupational Health and Safety, I think it had an OH&S card in it. Mrs. Kingston says in an article on Page 14, ". . . in the absence of significant changes to benefits or coverage, the unfunded liability could be eliminated by 2010 - nearly 30 years . . ." before it was supposed to be. Are we willing to allow politicization by that group again, to have that room?

AN HON. MEMBER: How will they politicize it?

MR. CORBETT: Well, it becomes a direct arm of government, with a hand of government in it. Then you know all this good work, all this hard work will be for naught. If you think, and this again comes back to why we should refer this, because if this government is to say we will forget about the people who have come before the various public meetings, we will forget about the various changes that have been made between Bill No. 90 and what is commonly referred to as the Abbass bill - I was loud in my criticism of Bill No. 90, but these are changes at least while I may have disagreed with them I wasn't worried about the politicization of these after they left the House - while it is very fine for it to political within this House, it should be interpreted fairly without the fear of politics over at the board.

I think that is what Bill No. 20 would do, Mr. Speaker, it would reintroduce politics into the WCB and, therefore, we would have chaos again over there and we would have that long arm of government stretching in there, telling people, well, this guy can get a pension, this lady can get a pension but this person doesn't only because they are politically connected or not, or the rates this company, this employer pays is at a lesser rate than this company because they have political friends. That is wrong. If we sent that off to the Human

[Page 2781]

Resources Committee for widespread public consultation, that is what we will do, it will be inclusive.

[9:45 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, I will come back in a bit to talk some more on the WCB. It is topical now that in Cape Breton when we have the Joint Action Group, it has been very topical in the news lately that there are groups now from streets in and around north of the coke ovens that want to be moved. What is interesting about that is this, that same group, that is a tripartite group, JAG, has agreed to this. But for some reason this provincial government doesn't agree with the same group that is in power to do this work, this government has failed to go along with it, they want further studies. That is governmental interference and that is what this bill will go a way to even heighten.

Mr. Speaker, it is oft told to me in this House by the minister, calling me the so-called expert. Well, as far as contaminated sites and so on, and the like, I am no expert. But, I do know that when you have huge (Interruptions) There is the honourable member for Preston, again being silly. You know, people have cancer rates 10 times higher than the national average, they are dying 10 years earlier. What does the clown prince of Preston want to do? He wants to make fun of it.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Order, please. I would suggest to the honourable member that calling another member names doesn't really add to the debate. I would ask the honourable member to bring his remarks back to the debate at hand.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Centre has the floor.

MR. CORBETT: Yes, that's right, if they are true. Mr. Speaker, you are absolutely right and I will retract those statements. I will not retract that he was smiling about them and laughing about them. It is an extremely serious condition and it is one of life and death for a lot of people. I find it extremely offensive for him and other members to laugh about this. Again, he is using the safety of his chair and not his microphone to yell his comments back. I am tell you that if that member is serious about that, maybe he should go down and see those people. In this House for a long time I have advocated on behalf of those people and other people in an economically disadvantaged area and this is not fair, and for someone to make light of it is reprehensible.

Before I get too hot under the collar about that, I want to look at some other ways that sending this bill back to the Human Resources Committee could work. There are flaws with the Human Resources Committee. I want to go back to what I think is another patronage problem, Nova Scotia Business Inc. Here is where we need fundamental changes. We have this board that is basically taking away all the power of the Department of Economic Development. Who we have on that Nova Scotia Business Inc. is one member from Cape

[Page 2782]

Breton, and I am not going to say anything personally disparaging against that member, he is a successful business man, but the problem with that is simple.

Many people from Cape Breton had applied to get on that board, but they didn't accept them and solicited this one individual. I know in estimates, from talking to the minister about this very thing, he said, well, he brings a certain degree of expertise. I don't know what his expertise is. If that is the case, they should have a caveat on each board member explaining why they are there. If you apply for WCB, or any other board, say management or labour, well, they should be more exact in what they are looking for. So that is another problem.

I am trying to hit on a bunch of topics, Mr. Speaker, before the House rises. As we see, it is getting late into the night. Let's just talk about how this is going to affect government employees. There are many government employees who really don't know how this will affect their jobs after this bill is proclaimed. For a government that says it wants to be inclusive, it doesn't seem to want to stick to its word because, for a very government that wants to be inclusive, you would have thought they would have sat down with one of the largest stakeholders that would be affected by this bill and it is their own workforce. The majority of that workforce is represented by a trade union, the Nova Scotia Government Employees Union. So wouldn't that make a whole lot of sense for them to go and meet with the largest affected group. I think that makes all kinds of sense.

What happens with this government, Mr. Speaker, is it takes, literally, hundreds of those employees to come into the lobby and into the gallery of this House to kind of shake this government up a little bit before it can get an appointment with them.

AN HON. MEMBER: Have they got one yet?

MR. CORBETT: Well, I don't know. They were around here again this afternoon, Mr. Speaker. How can this government say that they are inclusive when the very people, their very employees, their own workers have to resort to that to get a hearing. Did this government call up the President of the Nova Scotia Government Employees Union and say, hello, Joan, we are reducing this bill and it is going to have a large effect on your membership, let's discuss it? No, there was no such call.

Then the minister gets agitated when a group of them show up here. He says, well, what are they doing here, this mob, I think he called them. Well, it is a reaction when you are one of the largest stakeholders in an ominous bill like this and you are not given the courtesy of what is in it. They have to resort to those things. I don't think that is open and accountable. Open and accountable, Mr. Speaker, would be if they sent this bill to the Human Resources Committee and let it be vetted by Nova Scotians and allow hearing dates from across this province.

[Page 2783]

In the short time that is left tonight, Mr. Speaker, I will touch on the NSLC. Even with these so-called agency stores, is the government going to lose money on this? Are we just chasing our own sales here? Has there been any kind of real study done to show that by opening these agency stores, what we are getting here is more sales or is it just sales at the cost of other locations, which will, in turn, mean a loss of revenue for the government because they are not going to sell x more bottles this year. What they are going to do is sell y, the same amount as they did last year and where is it going to go? The minister tells me they are projecting a 1 per cent increase. Is that 1 per cent increase just a general projection that would have been made had the agency stores not been made? Well, again, the minister with a head shake says no. Well, we don't know that because these are projections, so we don't know. We don't know the impact and we don't again know that the changing of some of these into agency stores rather than fully controlled outlets that are owned and controlled by the province make any more sense. We could have a boutique run by our own people. It is a successful operation, I think it is really a good idea and it should stay in the hands of government.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Considering the hour, would the honourable member consider moving adjournment of debate?

MR. CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, I move adjournment.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is to adjourn debate.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I move that the House do now rise to meet again tomorrow at the hour of 12:00 noon and sit until 8:00 p.m. The order of business will be Public Bills for Second Reading, following Question Period, Bill No. 20 and if time remains, we will take another bill.

MR. SPEAKER: Motion to adjourn.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

[Page 2784]

The motion is carried.

[The House rose at 9:57 p.m.]

[Page 2785]

NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3)

RESOLUTION NO. 958

By: Mr. Richard Hurlburt (Yarmouth)

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

Whereas through the leadership of Maple Grove Education Centre teacher Joe Bishara, the Memorial Club, incorporated in 1985, Yarmouth area students have sought to encourage national holiday status for Remembrance Day; and

Whereas students of the club - which now includes almost 200 members from both Maple Grove and Yarmouth Consolidated Memorial High School - have worked tirelessly to raise funds to travel to Ottawa this weekend to make their pitch personally to the federal government; and

Whereas the students and their leader included on their trip meetings with MPs, participation in the Battle of the Atlantic ceremony and a visit to the Ottawa veterans hospital;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House commend the actions of these young adults and their leader for making it their goal to see that our veterans are honoured each year with a national holiday solely devoted to remembering our heroes both past and present and, thanks to support from their parents and community, taking that message directly to Ottawa.

RESOLUTION NO. 959

By: Mr. Frank Chipman (Annapolis)

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

Whereas yesterday marked the beginning of National Forest Week across Canada; and

Whereas Nova Scotia's forest industry employs more than 23,000 people and is valued at $1.5 billion; and

Whereas forest management and working within the various ecosystems plays a significant part of the diversity of wildlife and plants in Nova Scotia's forests;

[Page 2786]

Therefore be it resolved that members of this Legislature support this province's $1.5 billion forest industry, while encouraging the many partners involved in the industry to work together to ensure it plays a pivotal role in our economy for many years into the future.