Assemblée Législative de la Nouvelle-Écosse

Les travaux de la Chambre ont repris le
21 septembre 2017

Hansard -- Tue., May 22, 2001

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HALIFAX, TUESDAY, MAY 22, 2001

Fifty-eighth General Assembly

Second Session

12:00 Noon

SPEAKER

Hon. Murray Scott

DEPUTY SPEAKERS

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

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

Therefore be it resolved that the Government of Nova Scotia is raising income taxes through a back-door measure known as bracket creep and that the Finance Minister should recognize that fact instead of burying his head in the sand.

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

We will begin the daily routine.

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

3739

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GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Education.

RESOLUTION NO. 1261

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

Whereas Dalhousie University has decided to confer an honorary doctor of engineering degree on Clair Callaghan at its convocation ceremony on Saturday; and

Whereas Mr. Callaghan has served Nova Scotia by devoting his energies to developing research and technology and helping promote the economy of the region through his involvement on various planning boards and task forces; and

Whereas Clair Callaghan served as President of the Nova Scotia Technical College throughout the 1980's and spent several years as Director of the Nova Scotia Tidal Power Corporation and Director of the Nova Scotia Research Foundation;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House join Dalhousie University in recognizing Clair Callaghan's extensive service to Nova Scotia through his pursuits of institutional improvement and academic excellence.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

Bill No. 60 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 475 of the Revised Statutes of 1989. The Trade Union Act, to Improve the Rights of Organized Workers. (Mr. Frank Corbett)

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

[Page 3741]

NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

RESOLUTION NO. 1262

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 mayors of Canada's five big cities meet later this week to discuss ways to wrest more economic independence from federal and provincial governments; and

Whereas these municipal governments seek new ways to deal with the continued decline of infrastructure and services across this country; and

Whereas the root of this municipal discontent is the failure of federal and provincial governments to fund both infrastructure and services adequately;

Therefore be it resolved that this House calls upon the federal and all provincial governments to assist municipal governments to fund infrastructure and services adequately or to consider other steps that allow municipal governments to do the jobs themselves.

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 East.

RESOLUTION NO. 1263

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

Whereas Clayton MacDonald of Glace Bay was recognized as a hero for saving a woman's life in 1999; and

[Page 3742]

Whereas Rosemary Cross, Executive Director of National Transportation Week, will be presenting him with an award of bravery during a ceremony in Montreal in June; and

Whereas the organization is supported by governments and industries throughout Canada;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House congratulate Mr. MacDonald and the four other recipients of this national award for their unselfish acts of bravery.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Pictou West.

RESOLUTION NO. 1264

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

Whereas teachers are often ingenious in the examples they use, in the ways they bring concepts and ideas to life; and

Whereas at West Pictou Consolidated School, Teacher Roberta MacKean decided to show, rather than tell, her students what one million looked like and drafted parents, teachers and friends of the school to collect bread tags so that her students could see one million for themselves; and

Whereas after a decade-long effort, one million bread tags are now on display for all the children to see and while not recyclable, their efforts have encouraged an Ontario service group to buy a wheelchair for the disabled in exchange for the collection;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Roberta MacKean for her cleverness and resourcefulness and for keeping in mind that seeing is believing.

[Page 3743]

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. 1265

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

Whereas playtime or recess is an important and often memorable part of a student's education; and

Whereas playground improvements are costly, often requiring the use of expensive, heavy machinery; and

Whereas on Volunteers Award Night, April 27, 2001, Mr. James Bond of Rawdon was honoured by the Municipality of East Hants for his quiet donations of the use of his trucks, machinery and time to improve the playground of the Rawdon District School;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly congratulate Mr. James Bond on being recognized for his volunteer efforts by the Municipality of East Hants and for putting the laughter of children ahead of his own personal profit.

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 3744]

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Victoria.

RESOLUTION NO. 1266

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

Whereas it was recently announced that there will be a $4.00 increase in the fee for provincial campgrounds; and

Whereas these campgrounds are used not only by tourists to the province but also by local people who want to experience the great outdoors; and

Whereas this increase is nothing more than another example of a Tory tax grab in the form of a user fee increase;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House condemn this government for incessantly increasing user fees.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

RESOLUTION NO. 1267

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

Whereas the British House of Commons, birthplace of parliamentary democracy is currently considering changing its rules to reflect family-friendly policy; and

Whereas among the proposed changes will be limiting the evening hours of the daily session so that members and others, for example legislative staff, with child-rearing responsibilities will be respected and accommodated; and

Whereas changes such as this would not only set a good example in support of strong families but would reduce some of the barriers that keep parents, particularly women with young children, from seeking political office;

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Therefore be it resolved that members of this House direct the Committee on Assembly Matters to consider ways to promote family-friendly policy in our own Legislature and to report back to the House with their recommendations.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable Leader of the Liberal Party.

RESOLUTION NO. 1268

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

Whereas Ms. Marion Honora MacKinnon of Main-a-dieu, Cape Breton qualified as a full-fledged schoolteacher at the age of 16; and

Whereas in a 45 year career she devoted herself to the classroom as a teacher while raising 14 children, including the member for Cape Breton West; and

Whereas on Saturday, May 19th, Ms. Marion Honora MacKinnon was awarded a Doctor of Laws degree, honoris causa, by the University College of Cape Breton;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House extend congratulations to Marion Honora MacKinnon on the occasion of her receipt of an honorary degree.

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 3746]

The motion is carried. (Applause)

The honourable member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage.

RESOLUTION NO. 1269

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

Whereas Medecins Sans Frontieres offers assistance to those in distress, to victims of natural or man-made disasters and to victims of armed conflict, without discrimination and irrespective of race, religion, creed, or political affiliation; and

Whereas Medecins Sans Frontieres played a pivotal role in having the large drug companies drop their lawsuit against the South African Government's decision to import generic drugs for, among other things, the treatment of AIDS; and

Whereas Medecins San Frontieres held its AGM in Halifax this past weekend and elected its first-ever director from Nova Scotia, Eleanor Fitzpatrick;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate Medecins Sans Frontieres on their stellar independent international relief work and Eleanor Fitzpatrick on being elected to the Board of Directors of Medecins Sans Frontieres.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton West.

[Page 3747]

[12:15 p.m.]

RESOLUTION NO. 1270

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

Whereas Suas e! the first of its kind international music festival was held at Centre 200 in Sydney on May 20, 2001; and

Whereas Suas e! is the Gaelic phrase that translates to "throw your heart and soul into the spirit of the movement" and is the brainchild of music teacher and Howie Centre resident, Eric Favero; and

Whereas Suas e! attracted over 500 choral groups from across Canada and the U.S.A., including Nova Scotia's Halifax County Girls Choir, Halifax Girls Honour Choir, Holy Angels Girls Choir, Nova Scotia Youth Choir Alumni, the Pictou District Honour Choir, as well as the Men of the Deeps as special guests;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate organizers Eric Favero, Tim Cross, Jennifer Crocker and other committee members; as well, conductors Jonathan Willcocks and Stephen Hatfield, choral members, sponsors and all those who helped to make Suas e! a resounding success.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice was much too long.

[The notice is tabled.]

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

RESOLUTION NO. 1271

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

Whereas Sydney Mines native and Grade 12 student at Memorial High School Jill Bishop recently won a worksite safety competition hosted by Skills Nova Scotia, and now goes to the national competition in Edmonton; and

Whereas Skills Canada's mission is to promote skilled trades and technology as a first-choice career option for young Canadians; and

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Whereas Cape Breton's opportunities for skilled tradespeople are being limited as plants close down and call centres become the coal mines of the new century;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House congratulate Jill Bishop on winning the Skills Nova Scotia competition and encourage the Hamm Government to become active by helping ensure that Cape Breton again becomes an economy where skilled young people can expect a bright future.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton The Lakes.

RESOLUTION NO. 1272

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 Catholic Women's League of Bras d'Or celebrates its 50th Anniversary this year; and

Whereas the CWL members take part in a host of voluntary activities, including Christmas Daddies, Walk for Life, Mass for Shut-Ins, Christmas cheer fund and bursary programs for local schools; and

Whereas the CWL recently held a Mass of celebration in recognition of their work at St. Josephs Church in Bras d'Or;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House of Assembly congratulate the Bras d'Or CWL on the past 50 years of volunteer service to the community.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Pictou East.

RESOLUTION NO. 1273

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

Whereas good public-speaking skills are a result of good reading, writing, listening, research and planning, and they are well respected, especially when they are demonstrated by someone in their second language; and

Whereas recently, at a provincial competition, five bright Pictou County students won medals for their public-speaking skills in French; and

Whereas this was a contest of 149 students, who had already competed and won at their school and regional levels;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House applaud Adrian Burrill, Maghan Cummings, Martina Lawson-Issé, Ashley Lochead and Sarah Chisholm for developing their command of the French language and for learning skills which they will carry into their future endeavours.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

[Page 3750]

The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.

RESOLUTION NO. 1274

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

Whereas a recent Revenue Canada report indicates that almost two-thirds of all businesses in Canada with annual revenues of less than $15 million paid no federal tax between 1995 and 1998; and

Whereas a second Revenue Canada study of Canada's very profitable financial institutions shows their federal taxes declined 44 per cent in 1998; and

Whereas the one thing you can take to the bank is that the cost of maintaining our necessary vital services is increasingly being placed on the shoulders of everyday Canadians;

Therefore be it resolved that this House calls for the implementation of a truly progressive tax system that ensures corporations and financial institutions pay their fair share of the cost of maintaining our vital 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 Minister of Health.

RESOLUTION NO. 1275

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

Whereas Jane Archibald, a Truro native, has been selected to sing in Roy Thompson Hall in Toronto in an International Vocal Recital Series which showcases the talent of up-and-coming singers; and

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Whereas Jane Archibald, a soprano who graduated from Sir Wilfred Laurier University, has found a niche in 20th Century classical music, which is well-known for its "anything goes" attitude; and

Whereas Jane Archibald credits much of her success to the music training she received in Truro during her school years;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Jane Archibald for earning recognition as an up-and-coming soprano on the international music scene and wish her every success in her musical career.

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. 1276

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

Whereas a day-long public information session was held on Saturday, May 19th, at the church hall in the Village of Prospect; and

Whereas involved Prospect area residents continued to demonstrate their commitment to the Prospect High Head by attending this meeting; and

Whereas these citizens remain committed to protecting this unique piece of Nova Scotia coastline;

Therefore be it resolved that the House of Assembly congratulate and thank Prospect area residents for hosting an information session on the future of the Prospect High Head.

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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 member for Halifax Atlantic.

RESOLUTION NO. 1277

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

Whereas rug hooking is a traditional Nova Scotian art form kept alive in great part by the Rug Hooking Guild of Nova Scotia; and

Whereas last week marked the 22nd annual school put on by the Rug Hooking Guild and held at the Nova Scotia Agricultural College in Truro; and

Whereas rug hookers elsewhere in the province are planning a coffee house in Truro to raise funds for the Third Place Transition House in Colchester County;

Therefore be it resolved that members of the Legislature commend the Rug Hooking Guild of Nova Scotia and their faithful artists for keeping alive the art of rug hooking and for utilizing their talents to assist in covering the costs of the partly government-funded Third Place Transition House in Colchester County.

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 3753]

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Hants East.

RESOLUTION NO. 1278

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: We should go to the mat in that last resolution. Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas those who must endure the limiting effects of a disability still often have within them a burning competitive fire; and

Whereas the Special Olympics recognizes that competitive fire and provides an outlet for it; and

Whereas on Volunteer Awards Night, April 27, 2001, Ms. Christine Moxom was honoured by the Municipality of East Hants for her organizing and instructing talents with regard, among other things, to the Corridor Special Olympics;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly congratulate Ms. Moxom on being recognized by the Municipality of East Hants for her volunteer efforts and for her work on the Corridor Special Olympics, where she helps so many who live with adversity to reach for glory as well.

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. 1279

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

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Whereas during the election campaign of 1999, this Tory Government promised more free votes in the Legislature; and

Whereas free votes enable MLAs to express openly the views of their constituents without the restriction of Party discipline; and

Whereas Nova Scotians in constituencies represented by all three political Parties want their MLAs to express the need for a referendum on VLTs in this province;

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier ask the Government House Leader to schedule a free vote in this Legislature on the need for a referendum on VLTs in this province.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

Oral Question Period will begin at 12:25 p.m. and end at 1:25 p.m.

ORDERS OF THE DAY

ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

ECON. DEV. - LAURENTIAN BASIN:

PROPOSAL (NFLD. GOV'T.) - DETAILS

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, a deal is a deal. That is what the Premier said as he played the tough negotiator with the strong hand. But according to the unanimous finding of the tribunal there was no deal, there was nothing even close to a deal, and that didn't stop the Premier for using it for his own personal soapbox instead of working toward an agreement that would allow development to start, he was running around grandstanding as Nova Scotia's natural gas hero. I want to ask this Premier, what temporary arrangement have you proposed to the Government of Newfoundland to allow for the immediate commencement of offshore development in the Laurentian Basin and when did you make a specific proposal to Newfoundland?

HON. JOHN HAMM (The Premier): I am unsure as to exactly where the member wants to go with that question. I can assure the member that it has been the position of this government that we are prepared to look at an interim arrangement with Newfoundland and have been prepared to do so for over a year. If the member opposite would check Hansard of May 9, 2000, if he would check Hansard of May 31, 2000, he will find where this government and this Premier have definitively answered that question.

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MR. DEXTER: It is clear that the Premier is all bark and no bite. The tribunal has handed him a total defeat, a defeat that he should have seen coming. He is 0 for 4 on the Laurentian Basin, he is 0 for who-knows-how-many when it comes to his Campaign for Fairness - both were political exercises to boost the Premier's personal standing and now Nova Scotians are paying the price. I want to ask the Premier this, now that your Plan A has failed, we want to know, is there really a Plan B?

THE PREMIER: That member opposite would appear to be suggesting that if he were in my shoes, he would have simply given in to Newfoundland, given them part of our acreage and allowed everybody to go home happy. In reality, this government will continue to stand up for the rights of Nova Scotia and we will not concede valuable acreage to the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador, acreage that we believe belongs to Nova Scotia.

MR. DEXTER: I don't think standing up for Nova Scotians includes running home with your tail between your legs. We must move forward. We must move forward in this matter and we must get development on track. The Premier has been talking about an interim arrangement with Newfoundland for more than a year. I want to ask the Premier, when will you tell this House, when will an interim proposal be presented to Newfoundland that will allow development to commence? When will Nova Scotians start seeing the benefits from our own resources?

THE PREMIER: The member opposite asks when we will make public an interim arrangement with the Province of Newfoundland? We will make that public just as soon as we have the arrangement with Newfoundland.

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

PETROLEUM DIRECTORATE - LAURENTIAN BASIN:

BOUNDARY DISPUTE - CONTINGENCY PLAN

MR. WAYNE GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Premier. The Premier has shown for some time that we could possibly lose round one of the Laurentian boundary dispute. Now, at least another year will pass and the oil and gas opportunities of the basin will be lost to Nova Scotians. Given that the Premier has had time to prepare for a negative decision, my question to the Premier is, what contingency plan has the Premier prepared in advance of this decision?

THE PREMIER: What I can say to the member opposite, we have been preparing a contingency plan for over a year. We have been talking about an interim management plan which would come into play regardless of what is happening with the tribunal. So we have been working well over a year with our contingency plan. Unfortunately, up until now, Newfoundland has not been prepared to participate in any kind of an interim arrangement.

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MR. GAUDET: I am glad to hear that the Premier has worked on a contingency plan. The Premier has also said that he was interested in joint management with Newfoundland in the interim. The Premier has indicated a need to speed up the development of Cape Breton. My question to the Premier is, what specific joint management strategy has the Premier proposed to Newfoundland?

[12:30 p.m.]

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite will know that interim arrangements are in place in other parts of the world. The issue is not what the interim arrangement would look like, the issue is clearly whether or not we can convince Newfoundlanders that that would be in their best interests. It certainly would be in the best interests of Nova Scotians.

MR. GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, first the Premier says we need some sort of interim plan. Now we find he doesn't even have one. My question to the Premier is, how can the Premier expect to speed up the development when he doesn't even know what he wants?

THE PREMIER: The Government of Nova Scotia knows what it wants. The difficulty is that up until now we have not been able to convince the Government of Newfoundland that it would be in the best interests of the people of Newfoundland and Labrador and in the best interests of the people of Nova Scotia if, in fact, we can allow the development of the Laurentian Basin, even though the whole issue that is before the tribunal has yet to be finally adjudicated. We are onside with what you are suggesting. Unfortunately, the Government of Newfoundland as yet has not indicated that they are totally onside.

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

PETROLEUM DIRECTORATE - TRIBUNAL DECISION:

PREMIER - ACTION EXPLAIN

MR. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, Cape Breton stands to benefit the most when the Laurentian Shelf is finally developed. This provincial government and the federal Liberal Government, when they shut down industries in Cape Breton, always say, well, be cool, just around the corner is your gas and oil industry. My question to the Premier is, is he aware that his defeat at the hands of Newfoundland will hurt Cape Breton most because it delays the development of this promised new industry, and what are you going to do about it? It is delayed, the promise of this new industry, what are you going to do about it immediately?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite is quite correct in describing the intense interest in the activities of the tribunal in industrial Cape Breton because the Laurentian Basin is the closest part of our oil and gas play to the Cape Breton area. We will continue to look for ways to have development of the Laurentian move ahead expeditiously

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and we will, as well, continue to defend the rights of Nova Scotians to retain ownership of that part of the Laurentian Basin on our side of the line, which was established in 1964.

MR. CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, I am sure unemployed steelworkers and coal miners will sleep well after that comment today. Mr. Premier, you have been aware for some time that your defeat was imminent at the hands of Newfoundland. You knew it was coming and you knew it would delay development of Cape Breton's oil and natural gas industry. My question to you, Mr. Premier, has your government developed an interim economic development strategy for Cape Breton that will help bridge its economy between the shutdown of Devco and Sysco and now the delayed start of the oil and gas industry?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I will refer that to the Minister of Economic Development.

HON. GORDON BALSER: Mr. Speaker, once again to the member opposite, the Toward Prosperity document and Opportunities for Prosperity lay out very clearly how we are going to attempt to address the problems in Cape Breton, as we are attempting to address the problems in all of Nova Scotia.

MR. CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, there is as much fiction in that document as there is in a Louis L'Amour novel that I am sure this minister is fond of reading. This government and this Premier have failed Cape Breton. People will be extremely disappointed to learn how Newfoundland got the better of him in this dispute when he was telling everybody we were going to win it. On top of that, we learned the Premier has failed to even consider the economic consequences that will happen to Cape Breton. So I want to ask you, Mr. Premier, will you soften that disappointment by committing that the eventual development of the Laurentian Basin must result in gas coming ashore in Sydney and must have a Cape Breton jobs component?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I can assure the member opposite and the people who he represents that we will go forward and stoutly defend the rights of Nova Scotians to the Laurentian Basin. The member opposite wants to get ahead two or three steps, we have to win that battle and then we will fight the second battle.

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

PETROLEUM DIRECTORATE - LAURENTIAN BASIN:

BOUNDARY DISPUTE - PREM. INVOLVEMENT

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, my question is also to the Premier. The Premier announced today that we have lost round one of the Laurentian boundary dispute. The difference between our arguments and those of Newfoundland was that our arguments were outlined by the Premier instead of his legal team. The Premier should have

[Page 3758]

heeded the wisdom that a person who represents himself in court has a fool for a client. I want to ask the Premier, why did you, Mr. Premier, take the political route and outline Nova Scotia's case before the tribunal instead of relying on Nova Scotia's highly capable legal team?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite is somewhat confused but he does know that much of the basis of the arguments that were presented to the tribunal actually had a political origin. The difficulty is that the tribunal ruled that there wasn't enough legal input into the arrangement that we had relative to the Laurentian Basin. So primarily there was a huge political input into the arguments that were put forward on our behalf by our very capable legal team.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, the Premier states that I am confused; well, I am not confused about this, that as a result of this decision, there is nothing coming soon for the people of Cape Breton regarding the Laurentian Basin. I am not confused about that. I can tell you that Cape Bretoners are waiting for an early resolve to this Laurentian Basin so we can get on with the possibility of creating some jobs there.

Mr. Speaker, my first supplementary to the Premier. The Premier was out for glory instead of acting in the best interests of Nova Scotia. If we lose one job or royalties in Nova Scotia we will be left to wonder, what if; what if the Premier only had kept away from the tribunal? I would ask the Premier, Mr. Premier, now that you have blown the first round, what are you going to do to ensure that we win the second round?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite can be reassured that the legal team already is preparing the arguments for round two of the tribunal's activities. Many of the arguments that were used in the Phase I part of the tribunal exercise actually will be very relevant in Phase II. If the member opposite would take the time to read the final 10 pages of the decision, he will understand that many of those same arguments will be used in Phase II and will be very, very relevant in the activities of the tribunal over the next 11 months.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, the operative word here is failure, failure in just about everything this Premier has attempted on behalf of this province since he took office, almost two years ago. My final supplementary. Nova Scotians are left to wonder why this Premier is directing limited provincial resources towards this Campaign for Fairness when every single oil and gas opportunity is slipping away from the Premier's fingers. Will the Premier commit to increasing his government's resources directed at resolving the Laurentian boundary dispute including an expanded Petroleum Directorate here in Nova Scotia?

[Page 3759]

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, it is extremely distressing that the Campaign for Fairness which established in the minds of the majority of Canadians the right of Nova Scotia to the resources under the sea is one that has failed to be adopted by a single group in Nova Scotia and that is members of that caucus.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

EDUC. - ADVANCED STUDIES PROG.:

CURRICULUM DEV. - CLARIFY

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Education. Last week in this House, the minister said that the curriculum for the Advanced Studies Program was developed by her department, but on their Web site Knowledge House claims that they develop curriculum and the Department of Education says the same thing in a release. This is a very serious issue. Providing computer software and developing curriculum are two very different things. Nova Scotians need to know the full extent of Knowledge House's involvement in public education. I want to ask the minister, would she clarify who exactly is developing the curriculum for the Advanced Studies Program?

HON. JANE PURVES: Mr. Speaker, the curriculum has already been developed. It is being delivered in schools across this province right now. It is developed by our department, by Nova Scotia teachers. What Knowledge House has developed is a method of delivering the curriculum in a collaborative-based way. That is unique to them but the actual curriculum is developed by the department.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, Knowledge House's role keeps getting bigger and bigger. At first they were restricted to the Advanced Studies Program but least week when the Department of Education met with teachers to discuss the mandatory Grade 11 Canadian history course, guess who was there? Knowledge House. When asked why they were there, there wasn't a straight answer. So I want a straight answer now from the Minister of Education. Why was Knowledge House at the meeting and why was it suddenly involved in the Grade 11 Canadian history course?

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, as the member for Halifax Needham is quite aware, Knowledge House is an educational software firm. It is interested in education but it doesn't report to the minister or the department. I don't know if they were at a tea party or at a meeting or where they were and I have no interest in that.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: It is very interesting. I wonder if Knowledge House attends all meetings called between teachers and the Department of Education. Mr. Speaker, that precisely is our fear. Knowledge House's role is expanding before our eyes and yet there hasn't been any public tendering for contracts and no consultation. So since the minister has

[Page 3760]

already refused to provide contract information with Knowledge House in her department, would she submit the contract to the Auditor General for his review and comment?

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, I have already said before that when the contract has gone through the normal procedures, when it has been checked and double-checked, the contract will be made public. It is not at that stage yet.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Lunenburg West.

FIN. - TRANSFER PMTS.: REVENUE PROJECTIONS - SHORTFALL

MR. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Finance. Last week it was revealed that the minister's transfer payment figures were some $88 million more than what Ottawa had projected just recently. The minister has choices to make. To make up that $88 million, you either have to cut programs or you will have to grow the economy. My question to the Minister of Finance is, what is this government going to do to make up for the $88 million projected shortfall?

HON. NEIL LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, in regard to the numbers that came out last week, it was from a freedom of information process by the Canadian Press asking for the information from Ottawa. If the honourable member opposite will look, the numbers that Ottawa puts forward for equalization never agree with the ones of the province. There is local input put into that, obviously for the local economy, for the differences that aren't encompassed by that by Ottawa. We are still comfortable with the number. For the member opposite to say that we are going to be receiving that amount of money less, we are obviously going to have to wait until the end of the year because our numbers are never exact but we feel comfortable with the numbers that we put forward.

MR. DOWNE: Most provinces are re-evaluating their numbers. Ottawa has just recently been doing it; $88 million is the same as the Departments of Agriculture and Fisheries, Environment and Labour, and Finance all rolled together. This is a significant problem. In the Province of Nova Scotia, the debt will continue to rise until the year 2007. The government had an opportunity to balance the budget last year, but they blew it. Given that health care and education are the biggest budget items, what cuts, in the amount of $88 million, can Nova Scotia taxpayers expect from this Minister of Finance?

[12:45 p.m.]

MR. LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, obviously, the member opposite hasn't been listening to the answer that I gave him, because he is saying that there will be $88 million left in equalization. I clearly articulated in my first answer that the numbers that are there are the best estimates that we have. The federal Minister of Finance indicated that the economy, which was previously estimated at 3.5 per cent, has been changed to an average to 2.7 per

[Page 3761]

cent. In our numbers that we encompass, our department had indicated that we had used estimates much lower. We still feel comfortable with the numbers we have presented. Obviously, as we go on, we will be releasing quarterly reports, and Nova Scotians will know how we stand in regard to equalization payments received from Ottawa.

MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, I think Nova Scotians will trust Paul Martin's numbers a lot more than they will ever trust a Tory set of numbers in the Province of Nova Scotia. The minister is out of control, and as the Auditor General said, this government does not have a fiscal plan to deal with the debt of the Province of Nova Scotia. Will the minister bring forth a revised financial plan in order that Nova Scotia will understand how this government is going to deal with the crisis that they currently have?

MR. LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite says that Nova Scotians have more faith in Mr. Martin than myself, I am sure I can stand up today and say, they have much more faith in myself than they do with the honourable member opposite. I still indicate that we are comfortable with the numbers we have put forward, we will be putting forward quarterly reports, as dictated by legislation, and, obviously, the numbers that will finally get through equalization are never the exact amount that we project, but we still feel comfortable with those numbers that staff has informed me.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

EDUC. - KNOWLEDGE HOUSE CONTRACT:

TENDERING LAWS - BREACH

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Education. The contract for the Advanced Studies Program was awarded to Knowledge House without a tendering process. The minister rationalizes this, saying no one else provides comparable services. Today, in a letter to the editor, a company challenges the minister's claim. Pleiades Consulting is an educational software firm that provides services they say rival Knowledge House, but they didn't get a chance to offer their services, and we don't know how many others were also left out in the cold. Given the information, how can the minister maintain that she didn't breach provincial tendering laws in awarding this contract to Knowledge House?

HON. JANE PURVES: Mr. Speaker, it is quite simple. The other software firm has software that is being piloted; it is good software. It is not the same, it is a completely different product.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, that is what a tendering process is for. The minister has refused to release the contract with Knowledge House on the basis that the deal is still tentative. Given the information about Pleiades and the fact that the deal with Knowledge House isn't final, the minister still has an opportunity to do the right thing. I want

[Page 3762]

to ask, will the minister withdraw from final negotiations with Knowledge House and go through a proper tendering process in awarding this contract?

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, staff in my department are well aware of the software used by the Pleiades company. They are well aware of what Knowledge House is doing. The decision we made to go with Knowledge House was based on the fact that it is a sound system that has been tested. The answer to the question is no.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, it would appear that the minister remains confident in the face of the facts that she did not breach tendering laws. So my next question, my last question is quite simple. I want to ask the minister again, if she is so confident she has done nothing wrong, why she won't ask the Auditor General to review this matter and determine in his next report whether she acted properly?

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, as I have said several times before, the information, when it is ready, is going to be made public, and that is that. It will be public and people will be able to see the contract.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Richmond.

EDUC. - TRANSPORT. & PUB. WKS. POLICY: REVIEW/RECOMMENDATIONS - MIN. TABLE

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, last week the Minister of Education said that an e-learning contract that was awarded to Knowledge House was done through a process which she called honourable. Indeed, perhaps the process was actually honourable. Under Department of Transportation and Public Works' policy called, Guide to the Submission and Evaluation of Unsolicited Proposals, those being proposals that aren't awarded through public tender, any such project must go through four rigorous steps. My question for the Minister of Education is, since she was quick to rely on this document last week in the House, will she table the departmental review and recommendations which she was obliged to undertake as found on Page 5 of the policy?

HON JANE PURVES: Mr. Speaker, I would be happy to make public, as I have said before, the contract that is being developed with Knowledge House and I will be happy to outline for the House - I will get the deputy to put together - the steps we went through in investigating this with Knowledge House. I would be pleased to do so.

MR. SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, the minister fails to get it. The question is not about the contract itself, the question is how has Knowledge House managed to get into bed so easily with this government without having to go through public tender. My next question is to the Minister of Transportation and Public Works. Under the department's policy for unsolicited proposals, it states that a jury will recommend against an unsolicited proposal when "the

[Page 3763]

goods are readily available from another source." and "It does not demonstrate an innovative and unique approach or concept."

Mr. Speaker, as the minister will recall from last week, there was at least one other e-learning company in Nova Scotia, Pleiades, which can offer the same services, yet, was shut out of this tendering process. Can the minister tell the House why the jury did not recommend against the proposal when other qualified Nova Scotian companies can provide the same expertise?

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, sole-source tendering is acceptable in certain circumstances but in this particular case I can assure you that there was no other tenderer who was capable of providing exactly the same services.

MR. SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, I have but one request and it be that the Minister of Transportation and Public Works and the Minister of Education leave the protection of this Chamber and repeat the exact statement that the minister said there. We know, the Opposition knows and Nova Scotians know that there is at least one, if not more companies in this province that were capable of tendering and providing that service, yet was not allowed because Knowledge House is in bed with this government. My final supplementary to the Minister of Transportation and Public Works is, Transportation and Public Works' policy on unsolicited proposals is very clear in saying the process isn't a way to justify sole-source contracts or a way to avoid the competitive process but, in this case, something obviously went wrong. Will the minister amend the policy to make it mandatory for the jury to generate a list of all Nova Scotian companies that could provide similar services?

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I will have to talk to my staff with regard to that proposal, but we will take it under advisement.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

HEALTH - NURSING HOMES: RATES (RETROACTIVITY) - UPDATE

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, a few weeks ago I tabled a document in this House that outlined a practice by some nursing homes in this province to retroactively bill full-pay residents for per diem rate increases. At that time, I asked the Minister of Health to investigate the practice and to report back to this House. The minister indicated that he would do so. I want to ask the Minister of Health, have you completed your undertaking and what have you discovered?

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, there are two processes. In some cases what the nursing homes do is they complete their budget, they submit their budget and based on that budget, in just about every case it has an increase in it, so they increase the amount that they

[Page 3764]

charge residents. If the approved budget is less than that which was proposed, the residents get a refund for the amount of which they have overpaid, or at least a credit for it.

The other case, there are some cases where they do follow this practice and what they do is they inform the residents that the amount to be paid is based on the budgeted amount and what they do is they will retroactively bill the people if there is an increase.

MR. DEXTER: A refund, Mr. Speaker. I was just approached by another family of a resident being retroactively charged by the Department of Health for the Department of Health rate increases. This Pictou nursing home is billing the family $2,800.80 for retroactive increases from April 1, 2000 to March 31, 2001. This family has been trying to manage the financial affairs of their loved one in such a way as to stretch out the resources for as long as possible. Since 1995, their daily rate has increased almost 100 per cent, from $80.37 to $159.69. My question to the minister is, how do you expect seniors to afford these ever-increasing rates for long-term care?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I don't usually thank him for his questions, but I will thank him for this one simply because he illustrates very graphically one of the real issues that we are trying to cope with in administering health care in this province, the very rapidly increasing costs of long-term care. He has indicated they are doubling since 1995 and I will take him at his word. When people wonder why we are trying to have a plan and a direction and to do these things, to put down a system for health care that is responsible and affordable, the honourable member has just helped me answer that question.

MR. DEXTER: The Department of Health officials indicated to us that retroactive billing is not a frequent occurrence. The minister himself said that it was due to the budget approval process and that they don't expect it will happen again. I am tabling documents that show that this family has been retroactively charged six of the last seven years, retroactive charges totalling $8,303.08. My question to the Minister of Health is, will you commit to seniors and their families to put in place legislation that will eliminate the practice of retroactive billing by nursing homes?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, this has been a problem. It is not a problem that I am pleased about, but I can tell the honourable members in this House that we are taking all possible steps to see that this situation does not reoccur.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

HEALTH - COL. REG. HOSP.: BEDS CLOSURE - REASON VERIFY

DR. JAMES SMITH: My question is to the Minister of Health. Last week, we learned that the Colchester Regional Hospital is closing four beds in the coronary care unit. Instead, the seven beds in the intensive care unit will be used for patients who were previously treated

[Page 3765]

in the cardiac care unit. My question to the minister is, could he please verify whether the closure of the four beds in the cardiac care unit is to save budget or as a result of a lack of nurses available to care for patients during the summer vacations?

HON JAMES MUIR: The release from the board is approximately the same as it was last year. The major reason for this is to provide the nurses with vacation time.

DR. SMITH: Patients that are being cared for in the coronary care unit require a sterile and supportive environment. Patients in the intensive care unit are being treated all the time for a variety of illnesses, undiagnosed infections for instance. My question to the minister is, what has he done to ensure that cardiac patients at Colchester Regional Hospital will be treated in an environment that will not put their condition further at risk?

MR. MUIR: I can assure the honourable member and the residents who use that facility that their health will not be at risk. There is going to be adequately trained staff, including nurses who will remain on during the summer, to provide the services that are needed for those who would have went into the cardiac care unit. Indeed, I understand there are at least two of the beds in the intensive care unit that will be designated as cardiac care beds.

[1:00 p.m.]

DR. SMITH: Yes, that is the point, Mr. Speaker, we are mixing cardiac, people who have had insult to their heart with otherwise ill and undiagnosed, perhaps with infections. That was the point of my question. So far we have heard of pending bed closures at this hospital and at the QE II as a result of not having enough nurses to fill in while others take their summer vacations. That has been a concern. Will he inform all members of the House of how many other bed closures and reductions in service are we going to see in hospitals throughout Nova Scotia as a result of the nursing shortage during the summer months?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, summer closures are a norm in every acute care facility just about in this province, and it has been going on for as long as I can remember. I would think that just about every facility will have some number of beds closed during the summer period. It is a combination of two things: the demand on the service isn't as great in the summer months; and, secondly, the need to see the staff gets appropriate vacation.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

EDUC. - HFX. WEST HS: SPLIT-SHIFTING - MIN. SOLUTION

MR. GRAHAM STEELE: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Education. The most important public policy issue in my constituency and in the constituency of Halifax Bedford Basin right now is what is going to happen next year at Halifax West High School. The school board has put forward seven options, six of which involve splitting up the student

[Page 3766]

body and the seventh of which is unacceptable to just about everybody. Splitting up the student body will have a devastating effect on every aspect of the school - educational, social, athletic and cultural. My question to the minister is, what steps will you take to let the school board know that splitting up the Halifax West student body is simply unacceptable?

HON. JANE PURVES: Mr. Speaker, I am well aware of how difficult an issue that is. None of the options is great. We don't have a spare school to house 1,000 or so students. That being said, that is a school board decision and the school board will make the decision this week, I believe.

MR. STEELE: Mr. Speaker, the minister decided to close the sick old school and she decided to build a new one; both of those were the right thing to do, but what the minister forgot was any kind of transition plan. Splitting up the student body is completely unacceptable and the minister should say so. My question to the minister, what is it about splitting up the Halifax West student body that you think promotes and protects the quality of their education?

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, perhaps I could throw the question back, split-shifting students at two schools is something that we do in an emergency situation. Now, this is an emergency, but I would ask him, what is good about student bodies both losing between five and six weeks of education a year which will happen this year and will happen next year and for one-half of the year after?

AN HON. MEMBER: Build a school

MISS PURVES: We are building a school.

MR. STEELE: Mr. Speaker, the students, parents and staff of Halifax West are waiting apprehensively to hear what the school board is going to decide today. In fact, the decision may already have been made by the school board's executive council since apparently the elected members are not going to be allowed to vote on this very important issue. My final question to the minister - who may as well turn around and give her answer to the member for Halifax Bedford Basin as well - is, if the school board decides today to split up the student body, what steps are you prepared to take in the name of quality education to reverse that decision?

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, this is an area of school board jurisdiction. My interest as Minister of Education is the education of the students. It is a school board decision on what to do with the students until the new school is built.

[Page 3767]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

HEALTH - PHYSICIAN RECRUITMENT:

MUNICIPALITIES - POLICY

DR. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health. Is there a policy in the Department of Health which would encourage municipalities to pay physicians to practice using municipal taxpayers' dollars?

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, the answer is no.

DR. SMITH: There is no policy in the Department of Health then on that issue. The minister is the sole person responsible for the health and well-being of Nova Scotians. He is the person responsible for the delivery of health care services to each and every person in Nova Scotia. This gives him a tremendous responsibility. My question to the minister is, does he feel that he has responsibility for determining the medical services that are to be provided by physicians throughout Nova Scotia?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, individual practitioners are independent business people and I guess they determine what practices they have. The College of Physicians and Surgeons would have some say in how these practices are conducted. I think, perhaps, I am misunderstanding his question, maybe he can clarify it for me.

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, the person who is responsible for paying the bill sometimes calls the shots. I am concerned with a move toward municipal units paying for health care directly from the municipal taxpayers' money. My final question is to the Minister of Health as well. Some communities are in greater need of physicians than others. Now some municipalities want to offer incentives for doctors to establish practices in their area. How is the minister going to tell patients in any given community that because of a lack of financial resources at the local level he may not be able to ensure that a doctor will establish a practice in their area?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, one of the things that we have done as a government is put in a rural incentive program for physicians and there are a variety of forms including incentives from the Department of Health. We have recently introduced a physician recruiting program which will see relocation expenses paid to physicians who locate in designated underserviced areas of the province. We have to be very blunt about it, as desirable or undesirable as it may be, there have been certain areas that have tried to recruit or are recruiting against each other and what we are trying to do is level the playing field. We take every means we can to do it but the fact is that there is competition here in Nova Scotia and there has been as long as I can remember.

[Page 3768]

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

EDUC. - RIDGECLIFF MID. SCH.:

BAPTIST YOUTH GROUP MEETING - DENIAL EXPLAIN

MR. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is to the Minister of Education. This summer on July 7th and July 8th the provincial Baptist Youth Convention is scheduled to meet in Beechville. Beechville, that legendary community as part of the Timberlea-Prospect constituency. They want to meet at this location due to the deep historical traditions of Beechville and the Baptist youth group. They want to meet at the Ridgecliff Middle School, a P3 school in my community. So the youth convention did what they were supposed to do, they applied to the owners to use the school. That was two months ago; two months later, they were rejected. So I want to ask the Minister of Education, is this a fair way for a P3 school operator to treat an involved community group?

HON. JANE PURVES: Mr. Speaker, I was aware of this situation and I have staff looking into it, but I must say to the member opposite that this community use of schools is one of the more difficult situations we have in living with P3.

MR. ESTABROOKS: Living with P3 as a result of what the Liberals brought forward with those P3s is still a nightmare in the communities, with the inability of being able to get in to use these schools. After being rejected because their numbers were too high for the convention, the group reduced the size in attendance; they applied again, but the convention is now less than two months away. If they have to wait another eight weeks it will be impossible for this group to hold the convention in Beechville. What will the minister do, what will you do today to ensure that the Baptist Youth Convention knows as soon as possible if their application will be successful?

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, as I said, I was aware of this issue, and I do have staff looking into it. That being said, the company is a private company, but I am looking into it, and hopefully, a solution can be reached for this important community group.

MR. ESTABROOKS: Those sorts of promises and those sorts of words, the community of Beechville needs action. It needs a clear, concise response to holding a popular youth group representing the church in their community of Beechville. Nowhere else in the constituency is appropriate. I want to ask the minister, will you intervene and fast-track this to ensure that the Baptist Youth Group will meet at the Beechville Ridgecliff Middle School?

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, I will repeat again, I have staff looking into this. I will request that a compromise be reached but that is all I can do in this present situation.

[Page 3769]

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

ECON. DEV. - PRINCE MINE CLOSURE:

C.B. ECONOMY - FUTURE OUTLINE

MR. DAVID WILSON: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Premier. The Premier has not made a definitive statement on his position regarding the closure of the Prince Mine. As the elected Leader of the province I believe that the Premier has an obligation to stake out a position and then articulate that to the people. Could the Premier outline his vision for the future of Cape Breton in light of this latest economic blow?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I thought it was going to be a question for me but it would appear that it is a question for the Minister of Economic Development.

HON. GORDON BALSER: Mr. Speaker, the closure of the mine, of course, has focused everyone's attention on how best to address the economic renewal of that area. Over the last two years we have been very involved with a number of companies that are looking to locate and have looked to locate in the area. I believe that once we can get past the immediate, with the help of the federal government, we will be able to make some significant announcements.

MR. WILSON: Mr. Speaker, I will straighten out the Premier on that. The question was for him because that honourable minister hasn't done a thing for Cape Breton and never will. He never will do anything. The closure of the Prince Mine is going to have a ripple effect throughout this province. For instance, most suppliers of machinery and equipment are located in Burnside, most of those suppliers. Again, to the Premier, what will the Premier do to ensure that this latest economic disaster will not collapse Cape Breton's economy?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, my referral to the Minister of Economic Development was because he is in charge of our policies in terms of building an economy right across Nova Scotia. This member and all members on this side of the House, as I know all members on the other side of the House, are very aware of the significant economic impact the closure of the Prince Mine will have on the economy not only of Cape Breton but also in the rest of Nova Scotia. We have to work our way through it, we have to provide alternatives and that is what this government is about. It is about growing a new economy in Cape Breton to make up for the shrinking and, perhaps, now-disappearing coal mining industry, for the now-gone steel industry in Cape Breton. We have to find alternatives and we are working hard. Our Economic Development policy is looking at alternatives for the Cape Breton economy.

MR. WILSON: Mr. Speaker, again, when I started my question I was looking for a definitive statement from the Premier. We need a plan from this government for Cape Breton and we need it now. My question, again, to the Premier is, will the Premier go to Cape Breton and demonstrate leadership at this time of crisis?

[Page 3770]

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, yes, I intend to be in Cape Breton as soon as the activities of the House allow me to do that. The member opposite is aware that members of this government are regular visitors to industrial Cape Breton and we will continue to be so. I believe that there is a solution. I believe that prosperity will return to industrial Cape Breton and this government is determined to be the instrument of that prosperity.

[1:15 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants East.

HEALTH - HANTS NORTH: DOCTORS - AVAILABILITY ENSURE

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, I will be directing my question to the Minister of Health. Over six months ago, the community of Noel lost its doctor and last month the community of Kennetcook lost its doctor. Today, the 10,000 people in these and the surrounding communities have just one doctor practising part-time in Upper Rawdon. The people of Hants North deserve health care within a reasonable distance. So my question for the Minister of Health is, what are you doing to ensure that the people of Hants North get the doctors they need?

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, the area of Hants North is of great concern to this government, as is the area of Richmond County, Barrington and many other areas. I will tell you that we are making every effort to have physicians locate in the Hants North area. One of the things, as that honourable member would only know too well, is that one does not make statements until one is very much assured that the person stepped foot in the community, because we did have a person who had basically indicated their willingness to set up practice there and everybody said he just didn't show up for work.

MR. MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Health could certainly make a statement that would assure the people there that he is doing something. The people in this area have been working hard to recruit replacement doctors. They have formed a committee, the Hants North Area Health Co-operative, to pool their resources and work together for solutions, actually from a suggestion made to them by the Department of Health. These volunteers have put in countless hours and energy to solve their problem of a lack of health care for their families. So my question for the minister, again, what specifically has your paid recruiter done to assist these communities in recruiting doctors?

MR. MUIR: They have indeed, Mr. Speaker, a very active and an excellent recruitment committee in the area of Hants North. Our department has met with that committee and individuals on a number occasions. There is a plan together trying to provide that service to Hants North. One of the things is, it started off with difficulty. Again, the honourable member is well aware that you have three communities looking for physicians to serve their own community. Current practices and recruitment guidelines by the College of Family

[Page 3771]

Physicians of Canada suggest that people have to be in some ways grouped so that they will not have to be on-call every day.

MR. MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, the people of these communities have asked the minister's recruiter for copies of the letters and advertisements he supposedly sent out on their behalf. To date, they have received nothing in response to those requests. So would the minister table in this House copies of the documentation directly aimed at recruiting doctors for the communities of Noel, Kennetcook and Upper Rawdon?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I will ask staff to make that available.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Lunenburg West.

AGRIC. & FISH. - GOV'T. (CAN.):

FUNDS - DISTRIBUTION TIME FRAME

MR. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries. Farm income assistance relief was announced by the federal Minister of Agriculture on March 1, 2001. This money was meant to go into the hands of the farmers immediately. In fact, the minister indicated that by no later than the end of March he wanted that money in the hands of the farmers who are experiencing financial difficulty throughout this country. Nova Scotia is no exception to the rule. The GPI is showing that farm incomes have actually declined by 46 per cent since 1971. Apple producers in the Province of Nova Scotia are receiving one-third of their cost of production.

My question to the minister is, when can the farmers in Nova Scotia expect this province to start distributing the funds that the federal government announced?

HON. ERNEST FAGE: Mr. Speaker, it is very important that that money is distributed as soon as possible. Certainly it was pleasing to see the federal government and the federal ministers, the officials, agree on a method for disbursement of those funds very recently within the last two weeks. As soon as the Federation of Agriculture and other commodity groups reach full agreement on how they want those funds disbursed, certainly the federal government will be disbursing those funds to them. I would remind the honourable member that the funds are not in the hands of the Province of Nova Scotia, the funds are in the hands of the federal government.

MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, farmers have been waiting long enough. Two and one-half months they have been waiting for this minister to come forward with those dollars, over $7 million directed to the farmers of the Province of Nova Scotia. The minister says that they have an agreement and it is up to the farmers. This is the same minister who either blames Ottawa, the Federation of Agriculture, the weather, or anybody else, except him, and his government, for relinquishing their responsibility to the farmers. Why won't the minister

[Page 3772]

provide the adequate funding now that the farmers are requiring and do the distribution of those dollars now so that farmers can go forward and produce the crops this year?

MR. FAGE: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member well knows that his federal brethren are the ones who have the funds and the ones who need to disburse it. The Province of Nova Scotia, on the other hand, has sent out applications this week under the drought relief policy that we accelerated two years ago to make sure that those funds do get into farmers' hands as quickly as possible. We are doing something about it.

MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, the minister knows that Ottawa is paying 60 per cent of that fund; 40 per cent of those dollars are from the provincial government. In estimates this year the minister said he would expropriate additional funding to make sure farmers got the 40 per cent of the provincial funding to match 60 per cent of the funding from Ottawa. My question is, will the minister live up to the commitment he made in the Red Chamber that he will provide 40 per cent provincial funding as required under the federal program so that the farmers can count on that money now, not next month?

MR. FAGE: Again, Mr. Speaker, the member opposite appears to be confused. The deal has already been agreed to with the federal government. The federal government has accepted our 40 per cent based on last year, the same as the federal government funding. All it requires now is agreement from the industry to move forward so the federal government can disburse the funds. They are not provincial funds as the member well knows.

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

COMMUN. SERV. - HFX. CO. REG. REHAB. CENTRE:

CLOSURE - TRANSITION FUNDING AVAILABILITY

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Community Services. The Halifax County Regional Rehabilitation Centre was scheduled to close in June of this year - I think it has been extended to November - but the staff, both nurses and CUPE staff in that location, are desperately in need of transition funding to help them move away from that facility as it closes so they are able to get work in other facilities. I am going to ask the Minister of Community Services, is the transition funding that other government staff have going to be available to the workers at the Halifax County Regional Rehabilitation Centre?

HON. PETER CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member brings up a very important question. He will be aware that the board of the Halifax County Regional Rehabilitation Centre is having discussions with Community Services regarding what was going to happen there, just what they are going to do. Those discussions are ongoing and, when those are concluded, we will be moving forward with the plans.

[Page 3773]

MR. DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, in the last few years the staff at the facility have been investing time and resources into becoming registered residential workers, an RRW, and that is something that gives them a designation that, hopefully, would allow them to go to other facilities. The problem is that the Minister of Community Services' department has stated that the RRW designation the staff at the county home gets is not transferrable to another facility, it must stay behind when that facility closes. That is not fair to the staff. That is not fair to what they need and I would hope that this minister, and I will ask him, would he actually try and ensure that that RRW designation could carry forward when the facility closes?

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

GOVERNMENT BUSINESS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

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

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

[The motion is carried.]

[1:25 p.m. The House resolved itself into a CWH on Bills with Deputy Speaker Mr. Brooke Taylor in the Chair.]

[5:58 p.m. CWH on Bills rose and the House reconvened. Mr. Speaker, Hon. Murray Scott, resumed the Chair.]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The subject for this evening's late debate was submitted by the honourable member for Clare:

"Therefore be it resolved that the Government of Nova Scotia is raising taxes through a back door measure known as bracket creep and that the Finance Minister should recognize that fact instead of burying his head in the sand."

[Page 3774]

ADJOURNMENT

MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Lunenburg West.

FIN. - BRACKET CREEP: TAX RAISE - MIN. RECOGNIZE

MR. DONALD DOWNE: Thank you very much . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: Are you the Leader?

MR. DOWNE: For tonight, nobody else is here. Oh, we have a couple over here. We have Dave here.

AN HON. MEMBER: We are here to listen. We are not going.

MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, I just want to take a few minutes to talk about the issue of what this government is doing, and that is robbing money out of the pockets of Nova Scotians, working Nova Scotians, by the fact that they will not deal with the issue of bracket creep, one of the few provinces in this country that is indirectly taxing Nova Scotians - I shouldn't say indirectly because it is an absolute direct taxation. This is a government that said, of course they said a lot of things like they would fix health care for $46 million; that was a big mistake. They said they wouldn't increase taxes, but they are increasing taxes each and every day Nova Scotians are working and while they are in power.

Last week, our caucuses brought the issue of taxation to the attention of the Minister of Finance, and to the Progressive Conservative Party the issue of taxation and the fact that the province's debt is continuing to grow. I know the fiscal Conservatives on the other side would be quite upset by the fact that if they were on this side of the House and realizing that, that this province was actually increasing taxation and the debt was continuing to grow, they would be screaming.

Five weeks ago, I brought it to the attention of the Premier. Of course, he had no idea of the fact that the debt was growing each and every year, not only growing now and in the next couple of years, but it is going to grow while they have surpluses and growing to the year 2007. He had not one iota of understanding that that was happening. So I suggested to him to have Finance 101 with the Minister of Finance to understand that yes, Mr. Premier, in fact the debt will continue to grow and grow substantially. In fact, this Minister of Finance grew the debt some $2 billion in less than two years, and last year alone it was about $1.3 billion.

[Page 3775]

Four weeks ago, the Premier had no idea that income taxes were going up. I think he was somewhat shocked when he realized that in fact income taxes were going up to working Nova Scotians. When you pose the question to him a little bit harder and point out that the taxes are going up as a result of backdoor tax measures such as bracket creep, he had no idea, and I thought the good Minister of Finance would have briefed the Premier - he sits beside him - of what that reality is, but he didn't. Three weeks ago, I asked the Minister of Finance and the reason I realize now that he didn't want to brief the Premier was the Minister of Finance denied the fact that income taxes were going up. I couldn't believe my ears when I asked the minister the question and he indicated to me that he did not realize taxes were going up. They are going up each and every year he has been Minister of Finance. I found it unacceptable that the Premier didn't know, I find it even more unacceptable the fact that this Minister of Finance did not know that income taxes under his administration were going up.

The Finance Minister refuses to recognize that bracket creep represents a real increase in personal income taxes in the Province of Nova Scotia, and I think if the minister would go back in Hansard he would realize what was said in regard to that. Nova Scotians are not fooled by this. In fact, I think the only ones who don't realize their taxes are going up are the Minister of Finance and the Premier.

Information provided by the Canadian Taxpayers Federation shows that families earning between $15,000 and $30,000 a year, certainly not a lot of money, are going to be paying some $2 million extra this year alone; $2 million that families making $15,000 to $30,000 could use for so many vitally important issues, just food on the table, that are now being clawed back by this Minister of Finance and by this Conservative Government. Families earning between $40,000 and $50,000 a year will spend another $3 million more in income taxes this year; $3 million more into the pockets of the Treasury of the Conservative Government. So to deny that bracket creep is not increasing taxation is unbelievable.

I note the Minister of Finance is getting as many books as he possibly can delivered to him to make sure that now - I think what the minister will probably come out and say, no changes in taxes until we get our balanced budget. But don't forget, Mr. Minister, you could have balanced the budget with the $249 million windfall that Ottawa gave you last year; $249 million additional revenue that they received last year over and above the budget estimates of revenue stream, over and above the revenue stream that they projected, $0.25 billion could have not only paid off the operating deficit, they could have been in a surplus position. Not all of it came from Ottawa but a large percentage of it came from Ottawa, according to your own staff, in fact, it is over one-half.

In fact, the Minister of Finance has had $512 million, $513 million, over $0.5 billion in windfall money in less than 24 months.

[Page 3776]

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: You could spend $600 million.

MR. DOWNE: The Minister of Transportation and Public Works is yapping on his way out the door that he could spend $600 million like that and I believe it. I believe it because the roads are in such bad shape since the Progressive Conservatives took over. Anyway, back to (Interruptions) It seems to me I got blamed for that one time. I think we were in power for about two months and we got blamed for all the roads falling apart but, anyway, that is what they did on this side of the House.

The bottom line is that this Minister of Finance had a chance to move forward, be bold with growing the economy; be bold with putting money in the pockets of Nova Scotians without causing adverse effects to his own fiscal agenda. He could have balanced the budget; he could have hired nurses; he could have hired doctors; he could have paved roads. But, no, he ran a $91 million operating deficit again this year, and now Ottawa is saying, this thing is going a little sideways, we think your numbers in regard to equalization could be off by $88 million. That is $199 million, he has $97 million he has to come up with for this year to find a balance. Where is he going to find that? More snip, snip, cut, cut in Health, in Education, gosh only knows.

Nevertheless, back to the issue of bracket creep. Instead of putting the money back in the pockets of the $15,000 to $30,000 a year individuals, they are not investing that money offshore; they are not investing that money in some sort of fancy trip around the world. They are going to spend it for goods and services right here in Nova Scotia; they are going to create jobs right here in Nova Scotia; they are going to pay taxes right here in Nova Scotia. The same is true with somebody making $40,000 to $50,000 a year. You are not wealthy making $40,000 or $50,000 a year in Nova Scotia. If you live in Halifax, my gosh, it costs you a fortune. You try to raise a family on $40,000 a year and have kids going to university and see how easy it is to survive. It isn't easy to survive. You are not making long trips and putting your money offshore, you are going to be buying goods and services in this province and you are going to pay taxes to that Minister of Finance.

Instead, what the minister is doing is clawing that money, that $3 million out of those people, the $2 million out of the $15,000 to $30,000 people, clawing that money out, when he could be spinning that money into the economy, and the gross output multiplying factor of that spinoff in the Province of Nova Scotia would mean millions of dollars of economic growth and opportunity that would turn around and give this minister even more than what he has clawed out of the back pockets of Nova Scotians in additional revenue.

Instead, he said, no. It was under a Tory Regime in 1987 that brought in decoupling. It was under a Liberal Regime that said, no, we are going to get rid of decoupling, so that it would be a fair tax for Nova Scotians, a fair tax for the people of this great country of Canada. This Minister of Finance said, no, we are not going to do that. We are not, first off, flowing through the tax reductions; and secondly, we are not going to decouple, we are not

[Page 3777]

going to go any other way than the way that Brian Mulroney told me to go in 1987. We are going to stay that course for some period of time.

I can tell you that the economy of Nova Scotia needs this minister to be more forward-thinking; be more progressive; be more assertive; be more visionary, and get out there and realize that those dollars that he could be putting into the economy of Nova Scotia, creating wealth, creating jobs, creating benefits and creating tax dollars are now being stymied and put in the pockets of the Conservative Treasury for the Province of Nova Scotia, only to see that money, probably, mismanaged a little bit, periodically we see that with this government.

Mr. Speaker, the bottom line is, I hope the minister reconsiders his position. I look forward to hearing his debate. I am sure that he will enlighten me on his chance to make right all the wrongs that he has given in Nova Scotia for the last 20 months.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Finance.

HON. NEIL LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, this is the second opportunity to speak on this issue to a great extent in the last week. Last week, the member opposite tabled a bill which was to have public consultations on how to give tax cuts at the present time. I often find it perplexing when I hear members opposite, when we don't follow through on clear promises to the people, exactly, as quickly as we said or, exactly, in the same month as we said, they are the first ones to stand up and criticize us, that we have clear indication of what we are going to do, and you are doing something different.

In regard to giving tax relief to the people of Nova Scotia. We told them when we would have it, and that is in year four. The member opposite is saying we should do it now. The member brings up the fact that tax relief is something that we want in this province, and I have to say that I agree with that. That is why we had it in our platform; that is why we, as a PC Government, agree that it is desirous to have tax cuts, because there are spinoffs of it, but there is also another aspect, to make sure that we in Nova Scotia are competitive in the Atlantic Provinces.

There are those who say that we should try to be competitive with anyone in Canada. I regrettably stand in my place and say that is not going to happen. To say that we can compete with Alberta and maybe even Ontario, it can be very difficult for Nova Scotia, we don't have the same dimension of economies that they have there. Often people say, wouldn't you like to be the provincial treasurer for Alberta versus Nova Scotia? Well, maybe the job would be a little easier but Nova Scotia is where I am from and Nova Scotia is where I am going to stay.

Mr. Speaker, I used this story last week, where I said the federal surplus had $15 billion. It was interesting that Mr. Chretien said that and I guess it points out that rather than let Mr. Martin announce it Mr. Chretien had to steal his thunder the day before. I find these

[Page 3778]

little games amusing when I look at them from the side. What it emphasizes is that there is a huge surplus in the federal government right now, and they say $15 billion and Mr. Martin reinforced that a day or two after when he had his economic statement that came down. But I will bet you something, when the final numbers come in they will be much higher. I bet you he wouldn't have a whole lot of people in the House who would bet against me. Mr. Martin consistently underestimates his surpluses and, as such, has overachieved, as people have said.

But for us, I think it is important we look at it and say, why is Mr. Martin giving tax relief now? Why didn't he do it the first year he came in? If everything that the member opposite is saying is true, well, all these spinoffs and everything else is desirous to have, why didn't he do it earlier? I will tell you why, because the circumstances, he did have a sizable deficit to tackle and because of that he waited until such time as there was a surplus. Now he has a surplus because they did some difficult things, but they also came to the province and asked difficult things of us. We all know a lot of the things - we all know that Nova Scotia was the hardest hit province, I think, in the percentages of cuts he took from Ottawa under the Jean Chretien Government. I think in 1997 they learned that Nova Scotians didn't accept that, felt that if we are going to be treated equally it would have been fine but not to the extent that everything that we lost, especially, what the federal government used to provide to us.

I want to go back. He didn't give indexing of brackets during his term until he had a huge surplus. If you look at the $15 billion that Mr. Chretien announced as a surplus, if you add in the tax cuts over and above that, that meant that before he gave the tax cuts he had a surplus of perhaps $25 billion. Now, that is a rough estimate and after we get all the numbers in we will have a better indication. I should also point out that Mr. Martin has paid for programs in advance which also has an impact on that. He is paying for programs three or four years into the future because he has surpluses now and he wants to make sure he has surpluses into the future. It points out that he waited until such time as he had the means to give that tax relief.

We told Nova Scotians when they would get tax relief. and the member opposite has pointed out every so often the fact that - he refers to his report which is called, Taking Control of Our Future. It was a final report of the Voluntary Planning's Fiscal Management Task Force Report. In this he makes mention that we should have more consultation and so forth, but there was one thing I thought was very important - and these people had public consultation throughout the province - it said in Recommendation No. 16, "The Government should ensure that revenues from personal or corporate provincial income tax remain at current levels until the province balances its books."

That is exactly what we have done. But I would point out that we could have piggy-backed over and above the federal tax cuts, whereby, Nova Scotia would have received a tax cut. We didn't do that. We told people when they would get it, and that is in year four. But the changes that Mr. Martin has put in place will mean tax relief for Nova Scotians, as it does

[Page 3779]

for every person in this country. Those who pay taxes will receive a tax cut from Mr. Martin. We have kept our levels at the levels they were in in the past, previous to Mr. Martin's initiative. We have done that because that is what we said we would do.

People say, why shouldn't we give tax cuts in the first year of our mandate? We realized that we had a sizable deficit when we campaigned for office in 1999. I will also be candid, we didn't know the size of the deficit. There was about $100 million of initiatives that the previous administration said they would do that were not achieved which meant that added $100 million to the problem that we faced. Overall, we knew we had to make changes and we think that Nova Scotians expected the government to make those changes before they got tax relief. That means that everybody has to step up to the plate and give a bit before we give tax relief, and I think it was a prudent move. I think it is one that is commonsensical, but it is one that we clearly outlined when we would give those tax cuts.

[6:15 p.m.]

There are a lot of people who would like to receive them today, but I think that for ourselves as a government, it is important that we are consistent, that we maintain to the four year plan that we outlined. We have done that and though I appreciate the member opposite feeling that we should give tax cuts today, in his own text that he talked about today he made mention of the fact that some information out of Ottawa says that the equalization may be lower.

Mr. Speaker, I am comfortable with the numbers that we have presented, but the fact that he mentioned it means that the revenues that we have should always be guarded, that things can change and we may have less revenues. In the same speech he said we should have balanced it today. It didn't make any difference. We should have had a balanced budget and the member opposite will look at Hansard and I know what he said. So when you are saying that we should be cautious and we should give tax cuts and in the same speech you are saying that we may have less revenues, I don't see the balance and our balance is that we will put forward a multi-year plan, which will bring about balance in the sense of having a real surplus in this province, and in year four of having tax relief.

Mr. Speaker, I think that is the way that Nova Scotians expected to do it and that is the course that we are going to take. Although I appreciate members opposite may have a difference of opinion with myself, the Premier and our caucus, we said what we would do and we will do it in the time frames that we specified.

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

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, there are a lot of tidbits and a lot of loose threads that I could pick at with regard to the Minister of Finance's comments, and the member for Lunenburg West, but let me see if I can put this into some form of a nutshell

[Page 3780]

because if there are people here in the gallery, or members in the House, or if there are people maybe watching or listening, or reading Hansard, there will be a real concern maybe as to what this is all about, this talk of bracket creep, talk of tax cuts, talk of equalization. These numbers and these issues are ones that can become a little obscure. They can result in people not clearly understanding what it is all about, but in the end it is about government and the choices that a government makes.

Mr. Speaker, what we have in the form of this resolution and the comments made by the member for Lunenburg West, the Finance Critic for the Liberal Party, is a belief that we need tax cuts, we need to balance the books. We need to move towards greater tax cuts for all Nova Scotians I think would probably be a good way of summarizing his comments. It is a way of saying let's have across-the-board tax cuts. He talked about it in the legislation he introduced and debated last week in which he suggested the fact that we need an opportunity for Nova Scotians to have tax relief. That is his agenda. It is an agenda in which all Nova Scotians would get tax relief. Look, don't get me wrong, I believe working- and middle-class families in Nova Scotia need tax relief, absolutely. I don't believe people making $200,000 a year need tax relief.

Now, some people will say, oh, my gosh, why are you saying that? Because I truly believe again it is about choices and our Party, the NDP, the Official Opposition, believes we need fair taxes where working families (Interruption) yes, have more money in their pockets so they can spend it on those things. The member is right. They are not going to spend it in offshore accounts; they are not going to spend it overseas; and they are not going to spend it on savings. They are going to be putting it into investment for their children's education or they are going to be putting it into buying a new fridge, or a new car, or a bigger home, or renovations, and that is money into our economy and that is good.

We need fair taxation that allows that to happen, but at the same time, Mr. Speaker, there is clearly an ideological divide between our Party, the government and the Liberals. The government and the Liberals are talking about how fast they are going to get tax cuts. The government says, look, give us a couple of years, we will give the people, particularly the wealthy, big tax cuts. The Liberals say that is not soon enough, we want those tax cuts now for our wealthy friends.

Our position is different. Our position, and we have the polling to back it up, a poll that we did and was released showed that there was clearly amongst Nova Scotians a belief that instead of trying to bribe them with their own money so to speak, pay them off with their own money, they wanted their tax dollars invested into things that they need: roads; a health care system when they need it, or their parents or their children need it; an education system that ensures our children can get a decent education and compete in a global economy. These are what they want. They want investments with those tax dollars and that is what the difference is here. That polling showed people want investments. They don't want the tax

[Page 3781]

cuts. They want that money invested in the infrastructure and the essential services that Nova Scotians believed they were getting when they voted for this Tory Government.

Well, Mr. Speaker, there is your divide in a nutshell. The NDP believes money should be invested in the services that need to be there for people so that we can have a thriving economy. I heard the Minister of Finance say he wished, you know people ask him about whether he should be the Minister of Finance for Alberta, and he said well, there was a difference. Absolutely there is a difference. There is a difference of 30 years of the Alberta Government investing in the infrastructure of that province or Ontario investing. Yes, they have a much broader economic base, a much more diversified economy. That doesn't happen overnight. You can't snap your fingers and have that happen. We need a 10 or 20 year plan that will say, okay, we are going to be getting money from offshore. We maybe have the opportunity to build a biotechnical industry here or medical research or maybe even in the IT sector.

But let's talk about over the next 10 or 20 years how we are going to develop those things, how we are going to use that royalty money, how we are going to use a Campaign for Fairness that maybe will give us more equalization money in the short term so that we are going to invest that, not in tax cuts for the wealthy, but in roads so that businesses will come to Nova Scotia and set up in our environment so that people have safe drinking water, so that companies will want to come here and set up, so that we have a health care system that works for Nova Scotians, so we have an education system that allows Nova Scotians to take advantage of those new jobs over the next 10 or 20 years.

Alberta is where it is today not necessarily by giving tax cuts, Mr. Speaker, but by providing the infrastructure necessary to build that foundation that allowed the private sector to create an economy that thrives. Government does have an active role to play. I am sure Peter Lougheed did not play the same role Ralph Klein did. In fact, I recall Peter Lougheed, the Tory Premier of Alberta, owned an airline; I believe Pacific West Airlines was a government-owned airline in Alberta. They owned, I believe, a telephone company, things that in Nova Scotia would be unheard of.

He had a government back when they started bringing in royalties and bringing in a lot of revenue from oil and gas and they had a plan and that plan was that government will have an active but limited role in ensuring the economy will thrive and we will have a plan to ensure that in 10, 20 or 30 years, we will have a diversified economy. That plan is being brought into fruition. We see today an economy that is incredibly diversified because the government invested those royalties, invested those tax dollars in roads, in hospitals, in schools.

Mr. Speaker, we are nowhere near that. The Minister of Finance is right. We are 10, 20 or 30 years from that, but it doesn't start by promising tax cuts because that will result in roads not being paved. That will result in hospital beds being closed. That will result in

[Page 3782]

nurses that go on strike or have poor morale because they are not being paid. They are being paid the lowest in Canada. That will result in schools that make our children sick and in janitors who go on strike because all they want to do is maintain the standard of living that they have come to enjoy, based on free collective bargaining.

Mr. Speaker, all of that stuff will go by the wayside because the government and the Liberals are saying they want to provide a tax cut. The Liberals say, let's do it more quickly, hurry, hurry, more tax cuts. There again, is the divide. In a nutshell, our Party believes that money needs to be invested, not just because we believe that people's tax dollars are spent wisely by government. Let's face it, in some cases they are not - $2.5 million spent on a bungled legal case to try to argue the arbitration with regard to the Laurentian Shelf; $3 million for a PR firm to deal with the bungled Sysco sale. These are examples of waste in government, things that need to be addressed, absolutely.

People in this province voted in 1999 for a government to provide essential services in a way that only the public sector can provide, not the private sector, whether that be hospitals, whether that be schools, whether that be roads. There is a need, there is a demand for those things to be provided. The government must provide them and then build that infrastructure so that the people of Nova Scotia then can have the foundation in which we can begin to diversify our economy from the gas royalties

Mr. Speaker, we have had, for a long time in this province, excellent institutions of higher learning: community colleges, vocational schools, technical schools, universities. We have created some of the best minds in this world and then we have exported them. They have left because we have never been able to ensure that we had an economy and an infrastructure and the foundation, based on government investment that resulted in the opportunity for these people to spread their wings, to become entrepreneurs, to have a private sector that would flourish in Nova Scotia. That is the difference between Alberta, Ontario and Nova Scotia. They have a 30 year plan of investing in the people of Alberta; investing in the infrastructure; investing in the province that has resulted in an economy that now allows them to talk about eliminating income tax. You are right, we will never be able to compete with Alberta, because we are 30 years behind.

The people of Nova Scotia have been promised short-term gain for 140 years, since we came into Confederation. It is about time that we finally had a government that stood up and said, I am not going to bribe you with your own money; I am not going to hand out tax cuts to the wealthy; I am going to take that money and invest it in a long-term strategy, a long-term plan that will result in Nova Scotia being better off. Maybe you won't see it tomorrow; maybe you won't see it next week; maybe you won't even see it next year, but in 5, 10, 15, 20 years we can be Alberta; we can be a have province.

[Page 3783]

Our province can succeed. It won't happen by providing tax cuts; and it won't happen by the Liberals pushing the government to provide tax cuts even more quickly. There is the divide between our Party and the Liberals and the Tories. We believe, based on polling, based on what we hear from the people on the ground, that the Government of Nova Scotia has an active and important role to play in providing the services Nova Scotians so desperately need for them and their children to have economic success, so they can stay in Digby, or they can stay in Sheet Harbour, or their family can live and retire and their children can grow up in Pictou or in Hopewell or in Neils Harbour, all these places.

It can happen, but not in the short term by handing out tax cuts, only in the long term by providing Nova Scotians with those essential services, by investing in them so that we have a province that has the economic foundation to ensure the private sector can succeed. That is what we need; that is the difference between why we are here and why they are there. We will continue to speak up on what Nova Scotians truly want.

MR. SPEAKER: I thank the honourable members for taking part in the debate this evening. There is one moment left.

The honourable member for Cape Breton East. No.

The House will now resolve itself into a Committee of the Whole House on Bills. (Interruption)

The House will recess until 6:30 p.m.

[6:27 p.m. The House recessed.]

[6:30 p.m. The House resolved itself into a CWH on Bills with Deputy Speaker Mr. William Dooks in the Chair.]

[9:58 p.m. CWH on Bills rose and the House reconvened. Mr. Speaker, Hon. Murray Scott, resumed the Chair.]

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

THE CLERK: That the committee has met and made progress and begs leave to sit again.

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

The honourable Government House Leader.

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HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, tomorrow being Opposition Day, I move that you recognize the honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Opposition House Leader.

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, tomorrow's business after Question Period will be two bills, Bill No. 52, Workers Health and Safety Act; and Bill No. 53, Labour Standards Code.

Mr. Speaker, I move that the House do now rise to meet at the hour of 2:00 o'clock in the afternoon until 6:00 o'clock in the afternoon.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is to adjourn.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

The House is adjourned until 2:00 p.m. tomorrow.

[The House rose at 9:59 p.m.]

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NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3)

RESOLUTION NO. 1280

By: Mr. Frank Chipman (Annapolis)

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

Whereas Loretta Piper of Melvern Square, along with five other Canadians, recently travelled to the Philippines to bring basic comforts to some of the poorest children on the globe; and

Whereas Sleeping Children Around the World is a charitable program which provides bed kits tailored to the specific basic needs of children in different countries, including items such as groundsheets, mattresses, sheets and blankets, sleepwear and personal care items; and

Whereas although Loretta Piper has supported this project through the Kingston United Church for several years, her charity was brought to life in the Philippines as she looked on the faces of the children she was helping, what she called a life-changing experience;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House commend Loretta Piper for her work to help the poor and for having the courage to face desperate need and be transformed by the charity she distributed to others.

RESOLUTION NO. 1281

By: Mr. Timothy Olive (Dartmouth South)

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

Whereas across the province registered nurses make important and valuable contributions to their profession and to the health of all Nova Scotians and each year the Registered Nurses' Association of Nova Scotia (RNANS) recognizes the exceptional efforts of several of the province's registered nurses; and

Whereas the Client/Public Health Advocacy Award honours the significant contributions of registered nurses, individually or collectively, to the protection and improvement of the health and well-being and safety of Nova Scotians and this year's recipient is Josephine Muxlow of Dartmouth; and

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Whereas Ms. Muxlow has facilitated professional development, mentored young nurses and encouraged mutual support in the profession, her most remarkable work being the reform she introduced within the Corrections Services health system, improving health care options and access for the incarcerated;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House applaud Josephine Muxlow for initiating phenomenal changes in health care within correctional institutions and for standing as a premier example of the priceless contributions of nursing professionals.

RESOLUTION NO. 1282

By: Hon. Angus MacIsaac (Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations)

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

Whereas across the province registered nurses make important and valuable contributions to their profession and to the health of all Nova Scotians and each year the Registered Nurses' Association of Nova Scotia (RNANS) recognizes the exceptional efforts of several of the province's registered nurses; and

Whereas Honorary Life Memberships are granted to persons retiring from their professional careers who have rendered distinguished service or assistance to the nursing profession by actively contributing to the provincial association, by promoting a more positive image of the nursing profession, or by leading, supporting and mentoring nurses; and

Whereas Mary Forshay of Antigonish, regarded as a vigilant community worker and a dedicated, courageous and caring nurse, has encouraged equal partnerships in both the clinical and administrative arenas and has promoted nurses as integral members of patient care and health management teams;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House recognize Mary Forshay as a strong voice for nursing and as a professional who has surpassed the criteria set out for honorary life members.

RESOLUTION NO. 1283

By: Mr. Cecil O'Donnell (Shelburne)

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

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Whereas across the province registered nurses make important and valuable contributions to their profession and to the health of all Nova Scotians and each year the Registered Nurses' Association of Nova Scotia (RNANS) recognizes the exceptional efforts of several of the province's registered nurses; and

Whereas Honorary Life Memberships are granted to persons retiring from their professional careers who have rendered distinguished service or assistance to the nursing profession by actively contributing to the provincial association, by promoting a more positive image of the nursing profession, or by leading, supporting and mentoring nurses; and

Whereas Sandra Marie MacKenzie of Shelburne has had a nursing career spanning more than three decades working in both acute and long-term care as a direct care provider and has taken every opportunity to advance her knowledge base and share her expertise with others;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Sandra MacKenzie on her honorary life membership and applaud her remarkable commitment to excellence in the practice of nursing and her dedication to lifelong learning.

RESOLUTION NO. 1284

By: Mr. Cecil Clarke (Cape Breton North)

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

Whereas across the province registered nurses make important and valuable contributions to their profession and to the health of all Nova Scotians and each year the Registered Nurses' Association of Nova Scotia (RNANS) recognizes the exceptional efforts of several of the province's registered nurses; and

Whereas Honorary Life Memberships are granted to persons retiring from their professional careers who have rendered distinguished service or assistance to the nursing profession by actively contributing to the provincial association, by promoting a more positive image of the nursing profession, or by leading, supporting and mentoring nurses; and

Whereas Marie Romeo of Sydney's nursing career has included various roles such as working as a staff nurse, a head nurse of a medical unit and an emergency department, a clinical instructor, and finally as a home support nurse in palliative care, but constant throughout her career were the high standards she set for her own, and others', professional practices earning her the widespread respect of her peers;

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Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House commend Marie Romeo for promoting and demanding professionalism among nurses and acknowledge the professional pride and loyalty she has added to the nursing profession.

RESOLUTION NO. 1285

By: Hon. Ronald Russell (Minister of Transportation and Public Works)

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

Whereas John Jodrey, a native of Hantsport, Nova Scotia, has spent his adult life developing Atlantic Canadian business, including the establishment of Jodrey Enterprises, service as Chairman and Director of Scotia Investments Ltd., Maritime Paper Products Ltd. and 20 years of service as Director of the Bank of Nova Scotia; and

Whereas Mr. Jodrey was inducted into the Nova Scotia Business Hall of Fame in 1994, served as chancellor emeritus of the former Technical University of Nova Scotia, became a member of the Order of Canda in 2000 and established many institutions and awards supporting education; and

Whereas John Jodrey is 1 of 12 individuals receiving honorary doctoral degrees during Dalhousie University's spring convocation this week;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House join Dalhousie University in recognizing John Jodrey's impressive service to the business community of Nova Scotia and his many contributions to foster research and academic opportunities in our province.