Assemblée Législative de la Nouvelle-Écosse

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21 septembre 2017

HANSARD 01/02-81

HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY

DEBATES AND PROCEEDINGS

Speaker: Honourable Murray Scott

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

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

Annual subscriptions available from the Office of the Speaker.

Second Session

WEDNESDAY, APRIL 10, 2002

TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE
PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS:
Commun. Serv. - Masonview Homes: Funding - Revisit,
Mr. K. Deveaux 8084
Transport. & Pub. Wks.: La Commune (Clare) - Pave, Mr. W. Gaudet 8085
Educ. - Barrington Municipal HS: Rash - Unexplained,
Mr. C. O'Donnell 8085
TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS:
Anl. Rept. of the Workers' Compensation Board, Hon. D. Morse 8085
STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS:
Transport. & Pub. Wks.: Roads - Spring Weight Restrictions,
Hon. R. Russell 8085
GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 3006, Boudreau, Gerald: Ordre des francophones d'Amérique -
Congrats., Hon. N. LeBlanc 8086
Vote - Affirmative 8087
Res. 3007, Bayview Commun. School: Environ. Sch. Of the Yr. -
Congrats., Hon. J. Purves 8087
Vote - Affirmative 8087
Res. 3008, Transport. & Pub. Wks.: Roads - Spring Weight Restrictions,
Hon. R. Russell 8088
Vote - Affirmative 8088
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS:
No. 114, Assessment Act, Mr. W. Estabrooks 8088
NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 3009, Hogan, Father Andy: Death of - Tribute, Mr. D. Dexter 8089
Vote - Affirmative 8089
Res. 3010, SMU - Anniv. (200th), Mr. W. Gaudet 8089
Vote - Affirmative 8090
Res. 3011, Sports: E. Preston Pacers - Mini Basketball Championship,
Mr. D. Hendsbee 8091
Vote - Affirmative 8091
Res. 3012, Cumb. South MLA - Women's Shelter Funding: Concerns -
Thank, Ms. Maureen MacDonald 8091
Res. 3013, Holy Angels HS - 30-Hour Fast: Participants - Congrats.,
Mr. Manning MacDonald 8092
Vote - Affirmative 8093
Res. 3014, Nat. Res. - Legislators (N.S.): Conservation -
Support Recognize, Ms. M. McGrath 8093
Vote - Affirmative 8094
Res. 3015, Fed. Housing Init. Fund - Gov't (N.S.): Expenditures -
Prioritize, Mr. J. Pye 8094
Res. 3016, C.B. North - Promises: Fulfillment - Route, Mr. P. MacEwan 8094
Res. 3017, Hyslop, Donald: Gov.-Gen's Caring Can. Award - Congrats.,
Mr. J. Carey 8095
Vote - Affirmative 8096
Res. 3018, Bay Family (Lantz): Student Exchange Prog. - Congrats.,
Mr. J. MacDonell 8096
Vote - Affirmative 8096
Res. 3019, Hines, Allison/Brann, Deanna - Gymnastics: Victories -
Congrats., Mr. R. MacKinnon 8097
Vote - Affirmative 8097
Res. 3020, Thorburn Rink: Fundraisers - Congrats., Mr. J. DeWolfe 8097
Vote - Affirmative 8098
Res. 3021, Birchmountain Bluegrass Band: ECMA - Congrats.,
Mr. W. Dooks 8098
Vote - Affirmative 8099
Res. 3022, C.B. North MLA - Northside: Health Care Needs -
Responsibilities, Mr. B. Boudreau 8099
Res. 3023, Brookfield Lumber Co.: Building Healthier Futures
Corporate Award - Congrats., Mr. B. Taylor 8100
Vote - Affirmative 8100
Res. 3024, Commun. Serv. - Transition Houses/Women's Centres:
Strategy - Table, Mr. D. Wilson 8100
Res. 3025, Porter, Lucas - Kiwanis Music Fest: President's Cup -
Congrats., Mr. M. Parent 8101
Vote - Affirmative 8102
Res. 3026, YES Science Fair: Participants - Congrats., Mrs. M. Baillie 8102
Vote - Affirmative 8103
Res. 3027, VON (Truro) - RCL: Donation - Congrats., (by Mr. M. Parent),
Mr. W. Langille 8103
Vote - Affirmative 8103
Res. 3028, PJs Recycling Ctr.: Enviro-Depot of the Yr. - Congrats.,
Hon. M. Baker 8103
Vote - Affirmative 8104
Res. 3029, Pete's Frootique: Anniv. (10th) - Congrats., Hon. P. Christie 8104
Vote - Affirmative 8105
ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS:
No. 842, Educ.: Code of Conduct - Content, Mr. K. Deveaux 8105
No. 843, Educ.: Code of Conduct - Zero Tolerance, Mr. M. Samson 8107
No. 844, Commun. Serv. - Transition Houses/Women's Centres:
Report - Release, Ms. Maureen MacDonald 8108
No. 845, Environ. & Lbr.: Workplace Violence - Regs.,
Mr. R. MacKinnon 8109
No. 846, Transport. & Pub. Wks.: Gov't. House - Budget,
Mr. W. Estabrooks 8110
No. 847, Commun. Serv. - Masonview Homes: Status - Update,
Mr. D. Wilson 8112
No. 848, Fin.: Accounting - Accrual Process, Mr. D. Dexter 8113
No. 849, Fin. - Budget: Balancing - Explain, Mr. D. Downe 8114
No. 850, Health - Nursing Home: Bed Shortage - Info,
Ms. Maureen MacDonald 8115
No. 851, Serv. N.S. & Mun. Re. - Drivers' Licenses: Cost Increase -
Explain, Mr. D. Downe 8117
No. 852, Serv. N.S. & Mun. Rel.: Coastal Properties - Assessments,
Mr. W. Estabrooks 8118
No. 853, Commun. Serv.: Affordable Housing - Can.-N.S.
Negotiations, Mr. B. Boudreau 8119
No. 854, Commun. Serv. - Funding Reduction: Progs. - Effects,
Ms. Maureen MacDonald 8121
No. 855, Health - Fed. Funding: Expenditures - Details, Dr. J. Smith 8122
No. 856, Commun. Serv. - Masonview Homes: Residents -
Alternatives, Mr. J. Pye 8123
No. 857, Pet. Dir. - Nat. Gas: Dist. - Premier's Promise,
Mr. Manning MacDonald 8124
No. 858, Educ. - Budget (2002-03): Special Needs - Details,
Mr. K. Deveaux 8125
No. 859, Environ. & Lbr. - Oil Spill: C.B. Highlands -
Response Explain, Mr. K. MacAskill 8127
No. 860, Commun. Serv. - Working Poor: Homelessness - Address,
Mr. J. Pye 8128
No. 861, Sysco - Cleanup Fund: Expenditures - Detail, Mr. P. MacEwan 8129
No. 862, Educ.: École Beaufort - Closure, Mr. H. Epstein 8131
OPPOSTION MEMBERS' BUSINESS:
PRIVATE MEMBERS' PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING:
No. 63, Commissioner on Resources and Environment Act 8136
Mr. J. MacDonell 8136
Hon. D. Morse 8139
Mr. R. MacKinnon 8142
Mr. H. Epstein 8146
MOTIONS OTHER THAN GOVERNMENT MOTIONS:
Res. 2949, Commun. Serv.: Women's Ctrs./Transition Houses -
Consultation Info., Ms. Maureen MacDonald 8149
Ms. Maureen MacDonald 8150
Hon. P. Christie 8152
Mr. D. Wilson 8154
Mr. J. Pye 8157
Mr. T. Olive 8161
ADJOURNMENT:
MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5):
Econ. Dev. - Ind. Base: Pictou Co. - Position Acknowledge:
Mrs. M. Baillie 8163
Mr. F. Corbett 8165
Mr. B. Boudreau 8168
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Thur., Apr. 11th at 12:00 noon 8170
NOTICE OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3):
Res. 3030, Summer St. Industries: Supporters - Congrats., The Premier 8171

[Page 8083]

HALIFAX, WEDNESDAY, APRIL 10, 2002

Fifty-eighth General Assembly

Second Session

2:00 P.M.

SPEAKER

Hon. Murray Scott

DEPUTY SPEAKERS

Mr. Brooke Taylor, Mr. Jerry Pye, Mr. David Wilson

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

Therefore be it resolved that members acknowledge Pictou County's position as a focal point of Nova Scotia's industrial base and its future potential.

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

The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect.

MR. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: I rise on a point of personal privilege. As the Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee and as the MLA for Timberlea-Prospect who takes great faith in when people appear in front of us at the Public Accounts Committee, I would like to bring to your attention, Mr. Speaker, that we believe, as a committee, and I believe, as the Chairman, there has been a violation of our rights, as members, when information is asked for during committee hearings.

8083

[Page 8084]

On November 7, 2001, officials from the Department of Health appeared on the topic of long-term care, single-entry access. During that particular session, six pieces of information were asked for. Commitments were given that this information would be forthcoming. On the following Wednesday, November 14th, officials from the Health Department were there on the topic of information technology in the health care system. Six requests were made and, at this date, none have been received. On November 21st, the Human Resources Retention and Recruitment officials were present; four commitments were made for information and none have been received. Lastly, on January 30th, emergency health care, there were questions asked and commitments given that there would be four pieces of information forthcoming on questions asked by members present.

Mr. Speaker, this is important information, information that all MLAs and all Nova Scotians have the right to know about. I would bring this to your attention and would ask you to become involved to ensure that our rights are not violated and that our privileges are guaranteed as the members of the Public Accounts Committee. I would like to table these 16 items. These requests by various officials in that single department, commitments were made that they would provide the information. E-mails have been sent. Correspondence, faxes and telephone calls made. Mr. Speaker, as the Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee, I ask for your assistance.

MR. SPEAKER: Just for a point of clarification, the honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect, who rose on a point of personal privilege, is bringing this issue before the House on behalf of the Public Accounts Committee or on behalf of himself, as Chairman?

MR. ESTABROOKS: On behalf of myself, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you. I will certainly take the matter under advisement and report back to the House.

We will begin the daily routine.

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

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

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition from residents and parents of residents at Masonview Homes in South Woodside. The operative clause reads, "We, the undersigned implore the Dept. of Community Services to re-visit the funding decision with respect to Masonview Homes. We feel the funding should be adequate to that received by other organizations providing similar services. With the present decision that will not be the case." It's signed by 53 people, and I have affixed my signature as well.

[Page 8085]

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable Leader of the Liberal Party.

MR. WAYNE GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition on behalf of approximately 150 residents from Clare requesting the paving of Common Cross Road, La Coummune, as it is known locally. I have affixed my signature to this petition.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable member for Shelburne.

MR. CECIL O'DONNELL: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table the following petition signed by approximately 1,200 students and parents with children attending Barrington Municipal High School who are very concerned about the outbreak of an unexplained rash, and education officials have yet to determine exactly what it is. I have affixed my name to the petition.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Environment and Labour.

HON. DAVID MORSE: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table the Workers' Compensation Board of Nova Scotia's Annual Report - 2001.

MR. SPEAKER: The report is tabled.

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I would like to advise the House that effective at midnight on Sunday, the Spring weight restrictions will be removed from the roads in the following counties - Yarmouth, Shelburne, Digby, Queens, Annapolis, Kings, Lunenburg, Halifax, and Hants. That is early, of course, and we will be removing the restrictions on the other counties across the province as we determine that the roads will not suffer damage from the winter effects, but we do expect that we will be opening the roads earlier this year than in the past.

[Page 8086]

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Finance.

RESOLUTION NO. 3006

HON. NEIL LEBLANC: M. le président, à une date ultérieure, j'ai l'intention de proposer l'adoption de la résolution suivante:

Attendu que l'Ordre des francophones d'Amérique est un honneur des plus prestigieux dans le monde de la francophonie; et

Attendu que cet ordre est accordé à des personnes qui se sont dévouées à l'avancement et à l'épanouissement de la cause française en Amérique; et

Attendu que un acadien de la Nouvelle-Écosse, M. Gérald Boudreau, s'est mérité cet honneur cette année;

Qu'il soit résolu que cette assemblée transmette ses félicitations à M. Gérald Boudreau de la Pointe-de-l'Église pour ses accomplissements et pour l'honneur qu'il rapporte à la communauté acadienne et à la province de la Nouvelle-Écosse.

Mr. Speaker, I will repeat in English.

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

Whereas the Ordre des francophones d'Amérique is one of the most prestigious recognition awards in the Francophone world; and

Whereas this recognition is given to people who have devoted themselves to the preservation and promotion of the Francophone language and culture in the Americas; and

Whereas an Acadian from Nova Scotia, Mr. Gerald Boudreau, has received the award this year;

Therefore be it resolved that this House extend its congratulations to Mr. Gerald Boudreau of Church Point for his accomplishments and for the honour he brings to the Acadian community and, indeed, to the Province of Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 8087]

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Education.

RESOLUTION NO. 3007

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

Whereas Bayview Community School has been declared Nova Scotia's Environmental School of the Year by the Resource Recovery Fund Board; and

Whereas students and staff have demonstrated their understanding of how important it is to protect the environment; and

Whereas it is the first time the resource board has recognized a school in the four years it has hosted the awards program;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate Bayview Community School students for their accomplishment.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Transportation and Public Works.

[Page 8088]

RESOLUTION NO. 3008

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

Whereas the annual ritual of Spring weight restrictions on Nova Scotia roads began across the province on Monday, March 4th; and

Whereas the restrictions for trucks are announced each year during the Spring-thaw period to help protect roads that are weakened by wet Spring weather; and

Whereas Spring weight restrictions are usually removed by late April or early May, depending on the weather conditions;

Therefore be it resolved that this House thank all Nova Scotians, in particular members of the trucking industry, for observing the need to protect our roads during this sensitive time.

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. 114 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 23 of the Revised Statutes of 1989. The Assessment Act. (Mr. William Estabrooks)

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

[2:15 p.m.]

NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

[Page 8089]

RESOLUTION NO. 3009

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

Whereas today Nova Scotia lost one of its champions of the common person in the passing of Glace Bay native, economist and educator, Father Andy Hogan; and

Whereas in 1974 Father Hogan became the first Roman Catholic priest to be elected to the House of Commons, representing the riding of Cape Breton-East Richmond for the NDP, which he represented from 1974 to 1980; and

Whereas the life of Father Hogan serves as one of the finest examples of the Antigonish Movement in action, for he dedicated himself to seeking a full and abundant life for everyone in the community;

Therefore be it resolved that this House remembers the good works of the late Father Andy Hogan and sends it deepest regrets to his grieving family and the many friends and acquaintances he garnered after a noteworthy life.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice and I would also request that the House observe a moment of silence.

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.

[One minute of silence was observed.]

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

RESOLUTION NO. 3010

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

[Page 8090]

Whereas history indicates that Saint Mary's University was founded in Halifax in the year 1802 by Reverend Edmund Burke; and

Whereas two centuries of history, academic achievement and community contribution will be the focus of a year-long celebration marking Saint Mary's University's 200th Anniversary; and

Whereas beginning on May 21, 2002, ceremonies will be held at the three campus locations in the history of Saint Mary's;

Therefore be it resolved that the House of Assembly wish the best to Saint Mary's University in the year of their celebrations and in the future of such a fine university in Canada.

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.

Before I recognize the honourable member for Preston, I would just like to let all members know that yesterday was the birthday of the honourable member for Preston. On behalf of the House, congratulations.

The honourable member for Preston.

MR. DAVID HENDSBEE: Mr. Speaker, before I read my resolution, I would like to make an introduction of some students from my constituency. To the members of the House, in the east gallery, we have, from my alma mater, my Grade 6 school, 25 students visiting us here from Humber Park Elementary School in Westphal with their teacher, Randy Bullerwell, as well as some of the chaperones, Jeanette Flett, Teri Cole, Elizabeth Roberts, and Karen MacFarlane. I ask you to give them the warm welcome of the House, and please rise to be acknowledged. (Applause)

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

[Page 8091]

The honourable member for Preston.

RESOLUTION NO. 3011

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

Whereas the weekend before Easter, the Provincial Mini Basketball Championship was held at Sackville Heights Elementary School for youth aged 9 to 11; and

Whereas there were teams participating in the championship from Hantsport, Bedford, Sackville, East Preston and Fall River; and

Whereas during the tournament, Johnathan Colley was voted Most Valuable Player while Nicholas Hynes was honoured with the Best Sportsman Award;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate the East Preston Pacers Mini Basketball Team and its Coach, Roland Colley, on their provincial championship victory.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

RESOLUTION NO. 3012

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 member for Cumberland South says he has concerns about a significant cut in funding for women's shelters around the province; and

[Page 8092]

Whereas that member has declared his sympathy with officials of the Cumberland County Transition House Association; and

Whereas the member for Cumberland South can now go a step beyond sympathy and seek support within his government caucus to stop these cuts;

Therefore be it resolved that this House thank the member for Cumberland South for his concerns about reduced funding for women's shelters and suggest that he convince other government members of the wrong-headedness of these cuts.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton South.

RESOLUTION NO. 3013

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

Whereas Holy Angels High School students went hungry Friday and Saturday to help starving children in some of the world's poorest countries; and

Whereas Grade 12 students Kate Meloney and Nena Erickson organized the 30-hour World Vision fundraising fast; and

Whereas a total of 35 Holy Angels High School students took part in the event in an attempt to raise awareness about the issue of world hunger;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate all the Holy Angels High School students who participated in the fundraising fast and commend their leadership initiatives.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 8093]

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Halifax Bedford Basin.

RESOLUTION NO. 3014

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

Whereas the Nova Scotia Federation of Anglers and Hunters presents a Nova Scotian legislator with the Fairn-Hickman Award annually for their efforts in supporting conservation or wildlife habitat initiatives; and

Whereas the 2001 recipient, Natural Resources Minister Ernest Fage, was presented with the award on March 23rd during the federation's annual meeting in Truro; and

Whereas Minister Fage received the award for his efforts in bringing forward amendments to the Wildlife Act that recognize angling, hunting and trapping as valued and safe parts of Nova Scotia's heritage and in enacting new wildlife habitat and water course protection regulations to help maintain wildlife diversity and water quality in the province;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House recognize the efforts of Nova Scotian legislators such as Minister Fage in supporting conservation initiatives that protect and preserve our wildlife species and their habitats.

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 8094]

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

RESOLUTION NO. 3015

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

Whereas the Community Action on Homelessness group's pleas to this government for more affordable housing have fallen on deaf ears; and

Whereas the working poor and those on fixed incomes are now paying 50 per cent to 60 per cent of their incomes toward shelter; and

Whereas this government finds it fitting to spend over $320,000 in renovations to Government House, giving it a royal touch, while people sleep on cots in front of this Legislature;

Therefore be it resolved that this government put its commitment toward the Federal Housing Initiative Fund to provide adequate housing for the poor rather than plumping up the quarters of the royals.

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 Nova.

RESOLUTION NO. 3016

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

Whereas when Moses was elected, he assured the people of Cape Breton North that he would lead them into the Promised Land; and

[Page 8095]

Whereas when the obstetrics unit at the Northside General Hospital was shut down, Moses assured his people that it was only a glitch and would soon be overcome; and

Whereas when Moses could not deliver the $2 million promised for the new Northside Rink and Sports Centre, he said, "Fear not! A miracle will happen";

Therefore be it resolved that this House should ask Moses why, if he is leading his people to the Promised Land, he must first lead them through 40 years of wandering in the wilderness.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Kings West.

RESOLUTION NO. 3017

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

Whereas Kingston school teacher Donald Hyslop is one of 72 Canadians and the only Nova Scotian being presented with this year's Governor General's Caring Canadian Award; and

Whereas the award recognizes Canadians who are selflessly giving of their time and energy to others; and

Whereas Mr. Hyslop's many contributions to his community includes coaching junior girls softball, coordinating the Great Canadian Geographic Challenge, supervising the Duke of Edinburgh Awards, creating and conducting a Gaelic choir and participating as a member of the Kinsmen Club;

Therefore be it resolved that MLAs recognize the tremendous service of Donald Hyslop and offer our sincere congratulations for being presented with the Governor General's Caring Canadian Award.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

[Page 8096]

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. 3018

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

Whereas foreign students can teach so much to our own students about the similarities that we share with very different cultures; and

Whereas host families are a necessary part of the exchange student equation at the high school level; and

Whereas Lantz resident Ms. Bonnie Bay and her family have hosted 12 year old Ms. Tsai Hsian-Lan of Taiwan and enabled her to attend Riverside Education Centre in Milford, Hants East;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this Legislature congratulate the Bay family of Lantz for their display of Nova Scotia hospitality to exchange student Tsai Hsian-Lan of Taiwan and for the example they have set for other families who might consider hosting an exchange student.

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 8097]

RESOLUTION NO. 3019

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

Whereas two Cape Bretoners won gold at the Nova Scotia Gymnastics Championships held last Friday, Saturday and Sunday at the University College of Cape Breton's Sullivan Field House; and

Whereas Allison Hines won top honours in the Open 3 category, while her UCCB Dynamics teammate, Deanna Brann, won gold in the Tryo 2; and

Whereas Ms. Hines an 18 year old from Sydney River won the provincial crown despite missing two and a half years of competition because of personal injuries;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Allison Hines and Deanna Brann on their victories and wish them continued success in all 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.

The honourable member for Pictou East.

RESOLUTION NO. 3020

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

Whereas the Kinsmen Club of New Glasgow has been of tremendous assistance to the Thorburn Rink's improvement fund; and

Whereas recent examples of the Kinsmen's kind generosity include a donation of $10,000 to the rink's repair fund; and

[Page 8098]

Whereas following a recent audit, it was identified that the 28 year old Thorburn facility needed some $400,000 necessary repairs within the next few years;

Therefore be it resolved that members recognize the efforts of the New Glasgow Kinsmen Club and the District 13 Recreation and Planning Commission of Pictou County to raise money for the rink improvements.

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 Eastern Shore.

RESOLUTION NO. 3021

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

Whereas The Birchmountain Bluegrass Band was honoured in February at the East Coast Music Awards by winning the Bluegrass Band of the Year Award for a second consecutive time; and

Whereas Birchmountain Bluegrass now has its latest recording, Pickin for Tradition, available in record stores throughout Atlantic Canada; and

[2.30 p.m.]

Whereas The Birchmountain Bluegrass Band is known for its polished style, traditional presentation, excellent music, and vocal harmonies;

Therefore be it resolved that all MLAs applaud the efforts of The Birchmountain Bluegrass Band on its second consecutive East Coast Music Award win and wish the band every success as it performs across Canada.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 8099]

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. 3022

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

Whereas on Monday night a small number of residents showed up for a meeting called by the MLA for Cape Breton North, concerning the Northside General Hospital; and

Whereas it is certain that there are more than a small number of people concerned about the future of the Northside General Hospital; and

Whereas the low turnout is a clear indication of the total indifference by the people of the Northside in believing this government is not addressing health care needs in the Northside and for the member for Cape Breton North to stop apologizing for the downgrading of health;

Therefore be it resolved that the MLA for Cape Breton North be condemned for not living up to his responsibilities to protect the health care needs of the people of the Northside.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

[Page 8100]

RESOLUTION NO. 3023

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

Whereas Brookfield Lumber Company will be presented with the Building Healthier Futures Corporate Award at the Provincial Volunteer Awards Ceremony and Luncheon Day, April 19th; and

Whereas the Building Healthier Futures Corporate Award is presented annually to a Nova Scotia business which has made outstanding contributions through support and encouragement of employee voluntarism, or corporate support of community initiatives; and

Whereas the company is a lumber and manufacturing dealer with strong roots in Colchester County, who pride themselves on what they can do to assist community initiatives;

Therefore be it resolved that members commend Brookfield Lumber President Ron Creelman and his dedicated staff for their hard work, and congratulate them for this well-deserved recognition.

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 Glace Bay.

RESOLUTION NO. 3024

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

Whereas the Minister of Community Services agreed to provide transition houses and women's centres with a draft document illustrating the reorganization strategy for women's services in Nova Scotia; and

[Page 8101]

Whereas the minister agreed to provide such documentation by Wednesday, April 10, 2002; and

Whereas the executive assistant to the Minister of Community Services has informed Ms. Pamela Harrison of the Nova Scotia Association of Transition Houses that copies will not be provided until a meeting next week;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Community Services honour the commitment made on Monday, April 8, 2002, and table before the House today the draft documents illustrating the reorganization strategy for women's services in this province.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Kings North.

RESOLUTION NO. 3025

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

Whereas at 10 years old, Lucas Porter of Port Williams has received 18 first-place certificates in his four-year piano career, and most recently was awarded the President's Cup for outstanding performance at the Kiwanis musical festival; and

Whereas his talent and ability to learn pieces at an extremely fast pace was discovered at the age of six, now, four years later, Mr. Porter competes against pianists eight years older than himself; and

Whereas Mr. Porter's love of the piano came about on his own and his success is credited to hard work and dedication;

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize and applaud the extraordinary talent of Mr. Porter, his recent receipt of the President's Cup, and wish him the utmost success in the future.

[Page 8102]

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. 3026

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

Whereas Youth Science Foundation Canada, a national leader in extracurricular science and technology education, develops young Canadians' interest in science and technology, and hosts the annual Canada-Wide Science Fair; and

Whereas this year's Nova Scotia Youth Experience in Science Foundation (YES) science fair at the Museum of Industry provided students with an excellent opportunity to explore their interests in science-related projects; and

Whereas the winners of the top four places have received their awards and have qualified to take part in the Canada Wide Science Fair this month in Saskatoon;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate all participants of the YES science fair, especially first-place winners Jim Proudfoot and Celia Peters, New Glasgow Middle School; second-place winner Ashley Sutherland, Pictou Academy; West Pictou student Zachary McCara, who placed third; and fourth-place winner Jason Kay of Trenton High School.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

[Page 8103]

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Kings North.

RESOLUTION NO. 3027

MR. MARK PARENT: Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the honourable member for Colchester North, Chairman of the Veterans Affairs Committee, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas the Truro Branch of the VON was recently presented with a $1,000 donation by the Royal Canadian Legion in Truro; and

Whereas this funding will assist the VON with its foot-care clinics, which are available to veterans as well as the general public; and

Whereas the Victorian Order of Nurses works in partnership with Canadians, such as members of the Royal Canadian Legion, for a healthier society;

Therefore be it resolved that MLAs in this House of Assembly commend President Peter Surette and the Royal Canadian Legion branch in Truro for their kind donation recently presented to the VON Branch Director, Wendy MacDonald.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Justice.

RESOLUTION NO. 3028

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

[Page 8104]

Whereas PJ's Recycling Centre in Maitland was named Nova Scotia's Enviro-Depot of the Year; and

Whereas 85 recycling facilities were in contention for this award in Nova Scotia; and

Whereas the success of PJ's Recycling can be directly attributed to the conscientious efforts of Nancy Wentzell and Wanda Slauenwhite;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Nancy Wentzell and Wanda Slauenwhite of PJ's Recycling Centre on winning the award of Enviro-Depot of the Year.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Community Services.

HON. PETER CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, before I read my resolution I would like to draw to your attention some people in the east gallery. It's the women from the Bedford-Fall River PC Association. They are here today to observe the proceedings of the House. I would ask them to rise and receive the warm welcome of the House. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Community Services.

RESOLUTION NO. 3029

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

Whereas Pete's Frootique, a thriving, unique grocery business in Bedford's Sunnyside Mall, is the creation of Pete Luckett's character, temperament and know-how; and

[Page 8105]

Whereas after years of travel and change, and only a few hundred dollars in his pocket, Pete did what he knew best and opened a market stall in Saint John, fast becoming a success in business and as a popular personality; and

Whereas with his business and popularity growing, Pete opened the Bedford location - originally 1,800 square feet with 15 employees - which is now a collection of grocery businesses spread over 15,000 square feet with over 120 employees;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Pete's Frootique on its 10th Anniversary, and thank Pete Luckett for making Bedford home for this marvellously successful venture.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

ORDERS OF THE DAY

ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Question Period will begin at 2:39 p.m. and will end at 4:09 p.m.

The honourable member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage.

EDUC.: CODE OF CONDUCT - CONTENT

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Education. The issue of bullying in our schools has again been opened up for debate. You know that the government put forward a code of conduct in the last year that specifically identifies bullying as a disruptive behaviour, but does not comment on how continuous bullying can become classified as severely disruptive behaviour. My question for the Minister of Education is, what message is being sent by the Department of Education when its own code of conduct does not recognize bullying as a serious threat to the well-being of students?

[Page 8106]

HON. JANE PURVES: Mr. Speaker, before I respond I would just like to express my sincere regret to the family of the young man who died, allegedly as a result of bullying.

Mr. Speaker, the department has developed a code of conduct. It recognizes the seriousness of bullying. The department actually recognized the seriousness of bullying long before our government came along, even though our government has emphasized it. There are many steps we are taking to try to stop bullying in our schools. Unfortunately, in this particular case, we were not able to do so.

MR. DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, let me be clear. I am not talking about any specific case. The issue of bullying has arisen again in the media and I think it is important that we talk about the issue of bullying. I will table a copy of the code of conduct of the government that specifically identifies bullying as a disruptive behavior, but not as severely disruptive behavior. The words of the minister have very little solace for those who actually are living with bullying. In my own constituency, in the last year, there have been two students who have had to transfer from the school because they were the victims of bullying tactics. So my question for the minister is, what message are we sending to students and parents when your own code of conduct forces the victims to transfer out of schools while the bullying that's being done, they only get a slap on the wrist?

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, each situation is very different. I actually agree with the member opposite about situations when sometimes the victim transfers to another school, but each case is different. Sometimes this is not because the educators want it that way; because the parents want it that way. That situation is different. I would like the members of the House to know that schools in Nova Scotia are actually leaders in the country in developing strategies against bullying. We had the League of Peaceful Schools. We have Lions-Quest. We have peer mediators. We have hotlines that kids can call if they feel they are being bullied. In spite of all these efforts, these things still happen. We are working on them and we regret them very much.

MR. DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate that there are many things being done by many people in this province about bullying, but the question here today is what this government is doing and whether they are doing enough to ensure that bullying is eliminated in our school system. Particularly, bullying seems to be a particular problem in our junior high schools, as can be noted from recent cases. So my final question to the Minister of Education is, what is the Minister of Education doing to focus resources in elementary and junior high schools to eliminate bullying in Nova Scotian schools?

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, some of the steps we are taking, I have outlined earlier. We just recently trained leaders in each board in co-operative discipline. We are taking many steps, but, in the end, although we can reduce bullying in schools, we cannot do everything about all the trends in society, and we try. It is a very serious problem. Halifax recently hosted a national conference on bullying, and some of the efforts that we are doing here

[Page 8107]

achieved national attention. I agree, nothing short of everything would actually be enough. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Richmond.

EDUC.: CODE OF CONDUCT - ZERO TOLERANCE

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, we've all read the papers today and seen the articles referring to violence and bullying in our schools across this province. This government and this minister made promises to the students and parents of Nova Scotia to establish and enforce a standard code of conduct for students and teachers that emphasizes mutual respect, responsibility and discipline. This government also promised a zero tolerance policy for violent behavior. The Minister of Education is not living up to her commitment to the students and parents of Nova Scotia. My question to the minister is, when is the Minister of Education going to honour the government's commitment and responsibility to ensure that schools are free and safe from violence?

HON. JANE PURVES: Mr. Speaker, I am sure the House may recall, when we introduced our code of conduct, we agreed, along with many people in schools, that zero tolerance was not something that we wanted in the school because the policy of zero tolerance was being taken to ridiculous extremes whereby kids were being expelled for doing next to nothing. The members opposite are raising very serious questions and I do not want to try to score political points out of these very serious issues. We are doing a great deal to try to stop violence and bullying in schools, but the way the member asked the question, he might as well ask me to try to get a peace deal in the Middle East.

[2:45 p.m.]

MR. SAMSON: It is not my intention to talk about the tragic situation in the Middle East, but the fact is that we have a Nova Scotian boy who is dead as a result of the violence in the schools that this minister needs to take accountability for and not try to say that it's to score political points. It's this government and it's this minister that went out of their way to say they would ensure a standard code of conduct in schools that would prevent such situations and occurrences from happening. It's the Minister of Education's responsibility to protect the students from violent behaviour in our school system. My question to the minister again is, what steps has the minister taken toward ending violence in schools and implementing the zero tolerance policy that was promised by this government three years ago?

MISS PURVES: This minister and this government and school boards and teachers and principals are doing everything they can to try to stop violence in schools. In this particular case, which was reported in the paper this morning, no complaint had actually been laid at

[Page 8108]

the school about this particular case. It is a tragic story about this young man, but violence in school is not necessarily the cause of this tragedy.

MR. SAMSON: It's quite clear that whatever it is that this government is trying, it's not working, and yesterday we saw the results that show it clearly isn't working. Some children in this province are afraid to go to school because of violence. In fact, we hear of some parents who are refusing to send their children to school because they fear for their own safety. My final question to the minister is, when can the students of Nova Scotia once again begin to feel safe in their own schools throughout this province?

MISS PURVES: The schools in Nova Scotia are safe. There are cases, of course, where kids are bullied and they're afraid to go to school. We are doing everything in our power to stop that, but we strive for perfection all the time. I'm sure this government did what this government does and what that one did when it was in power. We cannot reach perfection. We do try.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

COMMUN. SERV. - TRANSITION HOUSES/WOMEN'S CENTRES:

REPORT - RELEASE

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: The Minister of Community Services made a very public promise outside the doors of this House on Monday. He said that he would deliver a copy of his department's plan for the future of transition houses and women's centres to these groups so they could prepare to meet with him next week. Now we've been told that staff in the minister's department have been instructed not to make this report available in advance of that meeting. My question to the minister is, minister, you have broken a promise you made at the doors of this Chamber; you have dismissed those who deliver essential services to the women of this province and, yet again, you have offended the professionalism of your own department. What in this report is there that you don't want people to see, and why won't you give it to the women of this province today as promised?

HON. PETER CHRISTIE: The honourable member raises the discussion that we had with people outside the House. I don't know where she's getting her research. That report, the agenda, was delivered at 2:00 p.m. today. We delivered it as I said I would; they are now in possession of it. They did get it.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Perhaps the media who are listening here today would have a look at the tapes they shot because they certainly were there when the minister was asked and when he responded to questions about that report. The minister publicly promised representatives of transition houses and women's centres that he would meet with them at their convenience. He agreed to do this on Monday. Now that meeting has been cancelled and rebooked for Wednesday, and the women's groups have been told that the

[Page 8109]

minister will arrive late and only stay for a very short period. Will the minister demonstrate the respect that the women of Nova Scotia deserve and meet with representatives of the centres and the houses on Monday, as promised?

MR. CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, what I had indicated to the women's centres and the transition houses is we would meet next week. We called them and said we would rather have the regional administrators there for the meeting. It was agreed by them, so we set it up on Wednesday.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, this minister is the one who introduced almost $900,000 in cuts to women's centres and transition houses without one bit of consultation by the groups who were affected. This minister has yet to apologize to the women of this province for his very public and continued dismissal of their rights. So I would ask the minister, will he apologize to these women now for the shameful way he's been treating them in this matter?

MR. CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member is speaking, it seems, on behalf of groups. What I have said is I will meet with the groups themselves. I will meet with them and I will have discussions with them. That is where it is more appropriate and I will meet with them.

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

ENVIRON. & LBR.: WORKPLACE VIOLENCE - REGS.

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Environment and Labour. Since July 1999, the minister has been sitting on violence in the workplace regulations. Unlike recent actions we've seen from this government, these regulations have been circulated to all stakeholders for consultation and were ready to go. My question to the minister is, why, after three years, has the minister and, indeed, this government not approved the violence in the workplace regulations?

HON. DAVID MORSE: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the member opposite for pointing out that these regulations have been in the works for a long time. Indeed, I understand they came forward during the time that he was Minister of Labour and he might like to explain why they weren't put in place at that time. However, I think that it would point to the fact that it's a set of regulations that are important but that require a lot of consultation and the process is moving forward.

MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, it was that Tory caucus that voted against the opportunity to implement those in July of 1999. On November 22, 2000, we discussed a Private Members' Bill that I brought forward in this House, Bill No. 81, which would provide amendments to the Occupational Health and Safety Act. These amendments, had

[Page 8110]

they been accepted by the government, would have allowed student representation on the joint occupational health and safety committees in Nova Scotia schools. Students would have had a voice on these committees and, as a result, would have had a say, not only in their health, but their personal safety. My question to the minister is, why did the minister not accept these amendments that would have ensured that these students had a say in their personal safety in their own workplace, that being schools?

MR. MORSE: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member opposite is rather clever because he's getting up and he's asking a question that he knows full well is within the purview of the Department of Health because students are covered under Health. It is not deemed that that is a workplace in the schools.

MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, how dare a Minister of the Crown stand in his place and say that the safety of children in Nova Scotia schools are not his responsibility. It is an absolute shame. Shame on that minister and shame on that government. When that bill was introduced, it was introduced under the purview of the Department of Environment and Labour because that's what Legislative Council said it was supposed to come under. So he doesn't even know what department he represents and what he is supposed to do. Obviously,

Mr. Speaker, my question to the minister is, why has this minister failed so miserably in ensuring that violence in the workplace regulations have not been moved and brought and forward for approval ASAP?

MR. MORSE: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the member opposite. He's 0 for 2, so he might as well go for 0 for 3. (Interruptions) Particularly, I would like to address the member for Cape Breton Centre who was asking questions about this last week, and I think the member for Cape Breton Centre would be interested to know that the Violence in the Workplace Regulations are back from the advisory council and they are now being considered by the department. You were asking about that last week, honourable member, and I thought you would appreciate having that information.

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

TRANSPORT. & PUB. WKS.: GOV'T. HOUSE - BUDGET

MR. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, this Tory Government is cutting transition houses while it's letting the Lieutenant Governor play Martha Stewart just down the street here. The Tories have spent $300,000 fixing up the same mansion that this government spent $3 million fixing up just five years ago. John Hamm says that the Lieutenant Governor's position holds tradition and value, and I'm sure we all agree, but the Lieutenant Governor is allowed to overspend her budget by 17 per cent while transition houses have been cut by 20 per cent.

[Page 8111]

So I would like to ask the Minister of Transportation and Public Works why the Tories can pour money into a luxurious mansion for Nova Scotia's Martha Stewart, but the women and children in this province have to fend for themselves?

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, this government is not spending money to establish a residence for the Lieutenant Governor, it's maintaining a building of immense importance to this province and to this country. (Applause) This building that we are in today and the one down the road, which is the residence of the Lieutenant Governor, are two of the treasures of this country and for that person to indicate that we should allow those buildings to deteriorate is disgraceful. (Applause)

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

MR. ESTABROOKS: Obviously the Liberals and the Tories feel more support for government houses than they do for children and women in violent situations. (Interruptions) This government has dumped money into Martha Stewart's residence. They've spent $80,000 fixing up furniture, $7,000 on lamps. They've given her a butler, a maid, a chauffeur. Mr. Speaker, the Tories can throw money at Government House, but women in this province are afraid for their lives.

Mr. Speaker, my question for the minister is, how can you justify the spending cuts you've made in light of recent Tory cuts to the wrong people in this province? (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, first of all I think that that honourable member over there should apologize for his disrespect for the Office of the Lieutenant Governor. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, 200 years ago these two particular buildings were built; 200 years from now they'll still be here. But if that crowd was in power they would turn them into apartments. (Interruptions)

[3:00 p.m.]

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

MR. ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, I don't understand how these Tories and their Liberal affiliates can dump taxpayers' dollars into a luxurious mansion and ignore women and children across this province. This government has spent over $20,000 on Christmas decorations for Government House, and the list continues with, perhaps, $700 to repair a

[Page 8112]

lock on a chest of drawers in that same house. How can you refuse women and children on one hand, who do not have a safe place to go and, on the other hand, support Martha Stewart with that sort of luxurious living? My question for the minister is, when are you going to admit that your Party's priorities just don't make sense? (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Order, please. This question has brought the House around to actually naming people who are official representatives in this country, of calling them names and, I believe, on behalf of all members, it is disrespectful. (Applause)

Order, please. Order, please. If the honourable Government House Leader wishes to try to answer the question, so be it. If not, I'm going to go to the next question.

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I think I should answer the question simply because of the fact that obviously the honourable member opposite does not understand the importance of protecting the buildings and the houses that we have in this province. If that member doesn't understand that, I suggest, as a school teacher, that he go back and take History 101, Nova Scotia.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Glace Bay.

COMMUN. SERV. - MASONVIEW HOMES: STATUS - UPDATE

MR. DAVID WILSON: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Community Services. Last evening, myself and my colleague, the honourable member for Dartmouth East attended a community meeting with residents and staff and concerned citizens about the potential closure of Masonview Homes. I can report to the minister that what we saw was a group of residents who dearly love their home, and dedicated staff who are providing quality care to those residents. My question to the minister is, could the minister please update us on any changes that may have occurred in the last 24 hours in regard to the future of those residents?

HON. PETER CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, as I indicated yesterday to a question, the department has been receiving the budget information from that facility. We are looking at that, and it's our intention to respond to them and resolve that issue in the very near future.

MR. WILSON: Mr. Speaker, I'm hoping that the minister has just said that it's going to stay open, and the way it is, but we know that the clients of those homes have been reassessed twice by this minister's department. Twenty-four hour care was what was determined to be in the best interests of the client, however the funding is not matching what has been requested by the department. If these residents are separated it will be nothing short of a tragedy. If these residents are placed in institutions it will cost this government even more to house them. My question to the minister is, why has the minister not acted before

[Page 8113]

now to ensure that the residents continue to receive the best possible care at Masonview in the most cost-efficient setting, which is a small options home?

MR. CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, we have been working with the home. We realize and we have indicated that that is a very viable option for people. We have been working with that home. As I've indicated, it is our hope that we'll resolve this satisfactorily in the very near future.

MR. WILSON: Mr. Speaker, that is everyone's hope. But I'm going to ask the minister now - I understand that the minister plans to schedule a meeting with staff and residents of Masonview Homes before the end of the week - could the minister please indicate to all members of this House then when this week that he has scheduled that meeting?

MR. CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, to answer the honourable member's question, there is no meeting scheduled for this week. We have indicated to them that we will be doing the review of the financial statements and as soon as those are available, we will be meeting with the operators in the very near future.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Official Opposition.

FIN.: ACCOUNTING - ACCRUAL PROCESS

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, my question is - and we are going to continue today - for the Finance Minister and it's about his fictional account of the province's books. Last year this government paid an extra $4.7 million towards its share of future social housing subsidies. The minister's so-called prepayment made this year's deficit artificially low. It means the line item for social housing subsidies is not a true estimate of what will be spent on those subsidies this year. So my question to the minister is a simple one; when did you desert the accrual accounting principles and create a false surplus by moving millions of dollars of spending into the wrong year?

HON. NEIL LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, we have not abandoned the accrual process of accounting. We have maintained it.

MR. DEXTER: Well, Mr. Speaker, the Finance Minister knows that's wrong. He knows it, we know it, people across the province know it. But it's not the first time this trick has been tried. Bernie Boudreau tried it too. In 1996, the Auditor General's Report said that such money does not represent expenditures incurred during that fiscal year. He said that reporting them as such is inconsistent with the province's stated basis of accounting. Furthermore, the comparisons between fiscal periods are affected significantly and he said the mistaken effect is compounded.

[Page 8114]

Well, Mr. Speaker, it was wrong then, it's wrong now. Why won't the minister admit his mistake and amend the estimates to show spending in this year when it takes place?

MR. LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, we have recorded the expenses in the years that they should, and for the member opposite to be saying otherwise is not factual.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, this isn't a budget, this is the Joy of Cooking. Money disappears, money is shuffled from one year to another, the estimates don't tell the truth about this year's spending or this year's deficits. So I want to ask the minister, why did you think you could get away with it? Why did you think that no one would find out that you're hiding tens of millions of dollars that should be in the budget and should be in the estimates?

MR. LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, I want to say that this is not the Enron budget of the NDP. This is not the Glen Clark budget. This is a budget that will be reported under Generally Accepted Accounting Principles and that means that everything will be included in this budget. When we get to the end of this year, which is March 31, 2003, we'll have a balanced budget. They may wish not to have one but we will.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Lunenburg West.

FIN. - BUDGET: BALANCING - EXPLAIN

MR. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, my question too is for the Minister of Finance. The track record of this government has shown that spending in the last three years dramatically outpaced the budget estimates for this government. Each year the minister has spent more than he said he was going to spend and were bailed out by either the federal government or user fees or new taxes. My question to the Minister of Finance is, now with this small margin of a $1.3 million float, as it were, how can this minister claim that his budget will be balanced in 30 days, let alone 365 days, after reviewing the fact that this minister has mismanaged the affairs of Nova Scotia for three consecutive years?

HON. NEIL LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, I will point out to the honourable member opposite that the first budget that we tabled, we had a $498 million deficit, which we inherited from the honourable member opposite. The final result was a $321 million deficit. That was an improvement of $160 million. The next year, we had a budget deficit of $198 million and we exceeded that one considerably. I think we ended up with about a $28 million or $30 million deficit. So you want to look at our track record? If you follow our track record, we will do even better this year.

MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, the track record is based on $650 million that has been given to him by the federal Liberal Government to bail him out. The Finance Minister seems to have forgotten what province he lives in. He forgets what Nova Scotia is all about. His budget leaves no room whatsoever for either major forest fires, late season snow storms or

[Page 8115]

serious drought. Maybe the Minister of Finance's way of managing is simply let the woods burn, let the roads remain unplowed or abandon the farm community in a time of drought. My question to the Minister of Finance is, will you promise Nova Scotians that you will not increase user fees or taxes in order to manage your way through this fiscal year, yes or no?

MR. LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, our intention is not to change fees this year. Our intention is to honour the budget that we put forward. But I will point out that the member opposite does bring up a good point. Are there risks to any budget that comes in? The answer, of course, is, yes. We may have more forest fires this year than are anticipated. There may be more demands on some of the departments that we have as a government. The bottom line is that if changes are required, then we will act. That's how government should be. They should be responsible. At the end of the year, we will be in balance.

MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, it is clear that this minister is indicating that taxes are on their way. The minister's track record in management spending is dismal, at best. I am not even referring to the time he was with the Buchanan Government. Just in the last three years alone, for example, Health, has overspent, on average, $146 million. With a budget as large as Health, all they need to do is merely cough and $1.3 million will be gone. My final question to the minister is, what management practice have you suddenly inherited to ensure departments don't overspend this year, or are you simply holding back on another set of tax increases to Nova Scotians?

MR. LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, I think there were three questions there. First of all, I want to point out that the member opposite and his colleagues have been saying that part of the reason that our revenues have grown is at the federal hands. I think he mentioned $650 million. I would invite the honourable member opposite to look at the actual numbers. The federal contributions to Nova Scotia's revenues have pretty well been flatlined. That comment is not accurate and I would invite him to look at the numbers in the budget. The other question that he asked is whether or not we will be increasing taxes throughout the year. I believe I did answer that question in my second answer to his previous question. Our intent is not to go back to Nova Scotians for increases in this fiscal year.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

HEALTH - NURSING HOME: BED SHORTAGE - INFO

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, every time the issue of long-term care beds comes before this House, we are told that the new beds at Parkview are going to be the solution. The new Shannex facility is not the answer to the shortage of nursing home beds in this region and our waiting lists. In fact, according to Shannex's own figures, there aren't new beds. The facility has 190 beds, but 168 are spoken for by beds closed at two other facilities and the Sisters of Charity from Mother Berchmans. So I want to ask the Minister

[Page 8116]

of Health, where is he hiding the new beds that have been repeatedly referred to in this region?

[3:15 p.m.]

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, the number of people who are on the Capital District Health Authority waiting list and are ready to be moved is around 40. Around the middle of April, Armview Estates is - the renovations are going to be substantially completed there, which is going to return about 25 beds to the system. In April, later on this month and probably toward the end of the month, there are going to be about 185 beds come on in the new Parkstone Place. Later on this summer, Armview Estates will reopen one of the facilities, about another 32 beds are going to come onstream there. Later on or around the same time in the summer, Fairview Villa, which is also one of the facilities that has been updated or is in the process of being updated, will be reopening with about eight beds.

So what we are going to have, Mr. Speaker, is a return of a large number of beds, and it appears right now that the number of beds that will be reopening will probably be sufficient to handle the number of people who are waiting for spaces.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, as the minister well knows, returning these beds doesn't replace the beds that were lost because many of these facilities, in fact, are having to redo their space to accommodate a different set of standards to house people who need long-term care. So, nevertheless, beds are being lost. Now the 190 beds at Parkview have all been designated to replace other beds in this region, and that doesn't include the bed closures announced by Northwood and the Capital District Health Authority and it doesn't include the people in this region who have been waiting in their homes for a nursing home bed. Mr. Speaker, my question to the Minister of Health is, where are all of these people supposed to go?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, the single entry access process is slowly coming on stream. One of the things we've discovered is that with the mandatory assessment for anybody who goes into a long-term care facility, the numbers on the waiting lists have diminished considerably. I think I explained to the honourable member last year when we did the pilot on the single entry access in Districts No. 7 and No. 8 that the waiting lists diminished there by around 75 per cent or 80 per cent.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Well, Mr. Speaker, the tally of people waiting for nursing home beds keeps rising, and it's clear that Parkview alone is not the panacea the Minister of Health has made it out to be. So I want to ask the Minister of Health, are residents of Parkview intended to sleep in shifts or is his department willing to admit that there is, in fact, a serious nursing home bed shortage in this region?

[Page 8117]

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I think the honourable member is probably speaking from faulty data and I'm quite confident that we continue to monitor the need for long-term care beds in the capital region. If there are additional beds needed, then that matter will be dealt with.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Lunenburg West.

SERV. N.S. & MUN. REL. - DRIVERS' LICENSES:

COST INCREASE - EXPLAIN

MR. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations. User fees have reached a new high under this government. The Auditor General can't even say how many of these user fees, in fact, are legal. My question for the Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations is, Mr. Minister, you've increased the fee for a driver's license. It went up $11 to a whopping $60. Can the minister explain to the members of this House and to Nova Scotians how he can justify an $11 increase and a $60 fee for a driver's license? Is it the cost of the plastic or is it the cost of the picture or is it the cost of the printing? Would you explain to Nova Scotians, why an $11 increase to a whopping $60 cost for a driver's license in Nova Scotia?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Normally I would order the honourable member to table a document if he had referred to it, but I don't think the House would know what to do with his driver's license. I would ask the honourable member to remember not to use any props in the House.

HON. ANGUS MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, your ruling, if it were applied, would certainly be a unique form of driver suspension in this province. (Laughter) I can tell you, Mr. Speaker, that all of the reasons that the honourable member indicated might justify the reason for the driver's license having been $49, which is what we inherited, but the honourable member didn't mention, of course, that there is the time of processing the applications on the part of people within the department, there is the overhead, all of those things.

So, Mr. Speaker, I'm sure the honourable member was able to justify a fee of $49, which is a 10 year old fee. We have no problem in justifying the increase.

MR. DOWNE: That minister thinks he can justify that fee, but Nova Scotians can't justify that fee, and the Auditor General probably will not be able to justify that fee except to say that it is a tax - and that is what this government is good at, taxing Nova Scotians.

[Page 8118]

My supplementary is to the Minister of Health. The cost of taking an ambulance ride - and I don't have an ambulance here - has just gone up $100, from $500 to $600 a trip, whether it's 5 kilometres or 50 kilometres. My question to the Minister of Health is, what is the list of the new expenses to justify these punitive increases?

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, the bulk of the increase in the EHS budget is due to a salary increase for the paramedics. What we have done, and he is referring to people, I guess we could say, in car accidents. Basically it costs about $600, on the average, to transport a person by ground ambulance here in Nova Scotia. We take the cost to the system, divide it by the number of rides and you get $600, more or less. The policy of the government is, and has been, to charge those people, the third-party payers, the average cost of what it costs for an ambulance transport in the province. That includes not only the insurance companies but it also includes the Workers' Compensation Board and any other third party.

MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, the minister has indicated that it is just another tax.

My final supplementary is, the Supreme Court of Canada has ruled that any user fee that is not cost-neutral is to be considered a tax. The Auditor General has been saying for a year that some of this government's user fees have no legal basis. My question for the Minister of Finance is, can the Minister of Finance state for this House today that all of his government's user fees are cost-neutral or are you making a profit off them, in contradiction to the Supreme Court's ruling?

HON. NEIL LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, in regard to the member opposite's question, he stated that the Minister of Health had said that it was beyond recovery. That is not the case. The member opposite mentioned that it was a cost recovery. I want to give an example, in probate fees, that they do exceed the cost and there was a change brought into place that exceeded that. There was also another change that was initiated, which was unlimited incorporations within this province, which are companies from outside Nova Scotia who come here to register to take advantage of tax laws in their home states. Did we charge more? Yes, we did, and we are going to use that revenue to help Nova Scotians (Interruptions) You may not agree with that but I believe people at home do.

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

SERV. N.S. & MUN. REL.: COASTAL PROPERTIES - ASSESSMENTS

MR. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is to the Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations. People on the South Shore and in Baddeck and in my riding of Timberlea-Prospect are patient. They have waited patiently all year on the Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations to fulfill his commitment in this House to address his department's unfair assessment policy. Many of these people have received their tax notices and their tax bills are coming due, yet they have

[Page 8119]

heard nothing from this minister on his empty promise. My question to the minister is, when are you going to do something to address the problem of sky-rocketing assessments on coastal properties in this province?

HON. ANGUS MACISAAC: In this session of the Legislature.

MR. ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, I advise Nova Scotians not to hold their breath because this matter is not a priority for this minister under any circumstances. I will tell you what is a priority however, when it comes to rewarding big Tories like Ian Thompson of MacArthur, Thompson & Law, this minister, he moved fast. Since the 1999 election, your department has paid Ian Thompson's company about $200,000. Among those things you had them conduct client satisfaction surveys for assessment services. Mr. Thompson's law firm produced a postcard for a mail-out to South Shore residents explaining why they were being taxed off their land. I want to ask the minister how he can spend $200,000 and not discover there was something terribly wrong with the way coastal properties are assessed in this province?

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, I note that the honourable member did not give the results of the survey which showed well over 80 per cent of Nova Scotians were satisfied with the assessments service.

MR. ESTABROOKS: I will table this document obtained through the Freedom of Information. I will table Mr. Thompson's postcard and I will also table a picture of a run-down building in Lower Kingsburg that saw its assessment go from $9,800 to $135,800. Mr. Minister, your department turned down the property owner's initial appeal and is forcing this gentleman to go to the appeal court. My question to the minister is, what's wrong with your department? Why are you handing well-known Tories $200,000 while dragging Nova Scotia property owners into appeal courts? (Interruptions)

MR. MACISAAC: It's very clear that the honourable member would suggest that the assessment of property is based only on the condition of buildings. Property is based on the property and the value of the land. When I bring the legislation forward, I hope that the honourable member will be willing, ready and able to support it so we can deal with this problem.

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

COMMUN. SERV.: AFFORDABLE HOUSING -

CAN.-N.S. NEGOTIATIONS

MR. BRIAN BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Community Services. On November 30, 2001, the Government of Canada announced that $680 million would be earmarked to affordable housing priorities. This money will be

[Page 8120]

distributed to the provinces and territories based on a framework that has given the provinces responsibility to design a housing strategy to meet the needs of lower income families. Affordable housing is an issue for many Nova Scotians and regions right across Nova Scotia. Throughout the province many privately-owned homes and rental units are in need of repair. In the HRM it is not uncommon to hear about substandard rental units at/or close to market rents being the only accessible housing options. Homelessness due to the unavailability of affordable housing is being reported throughout the province. My question is, will this minister please update members of the House on the negotiations that have taken place between his department and the Government of Canada and what these negotiations have accomplished to date?

HON. PETER CHRISTIE: To update the honourable member, in the last six months we've had a national meeting in London, Ontario, we've had a national meeting in Quebec. The province came to the table, as we are required to by the federal government. We put our $4.7 million in last year because we were required to show that we were ready to go, and we arranged a meeting with the Ministers of Housing two weeks ago at the airport. We have officials from CMHC coming in next week. I believe that we'll draw this to a successful conclusion in the next couple of weeks.

[3:30 p.m.]

MR. BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, it is important that such groups as Community Action on Homelessness, the Metro Non-Profit Housing Association and the Phoenix House program be consulted by the Department of Community Services when devising the priorities of the province related to housing services. Any issues brought forward by these groups should be part of the strategy for programs addressing housing needs in this province. It is my understanding that Community Action on Homelessness is working with groups from across the province to present a united voice on housing to the minister. They have asked members of the community to write letters to this minister expressing support for an agreement between the province and the federal government that will meet housing needs.

My question is, Mr. Speaker, will minister commit to tabling today any letters and other correspondence received about the agreement between the province and the federal government on housing needs and initiatives?

MR. CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member is quite right; I did meet last week with a group of homeless people who were here. Here's what they gave me last week. I'm happy to table it for the honourable member's reading. We have been following and working with them, as he knows. The federal government appointed a group for housing, the SCPI group, that has been doing projects through the federal government. We have been working with those groups to determine - once we have our money aside and we have the federal program, we will initiate those programs.

[Page 8121]

MR. BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, the people who are members of Community Action on Homelessness were here earlier today to ask the Minister of Community Services to commit to making housing a priority in this province. My final question to the minister is, will the minister commit to consultation with Community Action on Homelessness and other groups concerned with housing to make the agreement for money from the federal government for housing a priority and one that needs to be met immediately?

MR. CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member will know that we, the housing division, had a breakfast conference back two months ago and we invited all of those groups to come. They came, and we came to talk to them about where we are going with this. We have met with the cities and towns in this province. I will also just say to the honourable member that this government is spending hundreds of millions of dollars on housing through community services right now and we will continue to do so.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

COMMUN. SERV. - FUNDING REDUCTION: PROGS. - EFFECTS

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, there can be very little doubt that the removal of almost $900,000 in funding to women's services, transition houses and men's programs is going to have a dramatic impact on the services that can be offered to protect and assist women in communities throughout Nova Scotia. I want to ask the Minister of Community Services whether or not he can confirm here, today, in this House that no houses will close, no centres will close and that no workers will lose their jobs as a result of this reduction of $900,000 in funding?

HON. PETER CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, we have indicated that we are going to meet with the groups involved in these programs across the province and we are going to work on a redesign program. The member is asking me if we have a model already in place. The answer is no. We're getting that model developed with the sector.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, we're well aware that a meeting is planned. We're well aware that there is no model in place. The question was, would the minister confirm that no houses will close, no centres will close and no women working in these programs will lose their jobs, yes or no?

MR. CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, I will repeat what I just said. We are going to meet with the sector. We are going to look at the design so that we will determine how the programs were going to be delivered. That is the commitment. That is what the meeting is about.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, my last question is really quite simple. Why won't the minister answer the question? Is he planning on closing transition houses, women's centres and laying off staff? It's a simple question - yes or no?

[Page 8122]

MR. CHRISTIE: Just to put it in yes or no terms. Yes, we are planning to meet with people to develop a program. No, there is no model ready as yet and, yes we will continue to meet with them until we can provide those services across the province.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

HEALTH - FED. FUNDING: EXPENDITURE - DETAILS

DR. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Health. Over the past few weeks, the national media has been reporting that some provinces have spent all their allocated federal money on much-needed medical equipment. Unfortunately, we have learned . . .

MR. DAVID HENDSBEE: Lawnmowers.

DR. SMITH: The member for Preston is correct in stating that some was spent, obviously, on lawnmowers. We have learned that it was spent, obviously, on equipment other than medical equipment. My question, simply, to the minister is, can the minister please confirm how much of the 30.4 million federal dollars allocated to his department by Ottawa has, in fact, been spent?

HON. JAMES MUIR: The answer to that, Mr. Speaker, and I have to give one of two answers, either $15.4 million in this year's budget, and $15 million was spent last year; or $15.4 million was spent last year and there is $15 million in this year's budget - I would have to look at the numbers - but I can tell you that all of the money that has been given to us by the federal government for equipment has been spent on medical equipment.

DR. SMITH: So, Mr. Speaker, just on a point of clarification, but I will incorporate that into my question. It wasn't clear from the estimates the other night that there was $15 million in this year's budget for equipment. So we thought we may have to search for that, even look for the Department of Finance - that he got his hands on it there somewhere. Through a Freedom of Information request we have learned that the minister spent half of his budget, even though half of that budget has been there for a year. While the information shows that most of the $15 million has been appropriately spent, we note that the detailed information was missing. We have two pages of information on what has been spent to date and everything is documented specifically for medical equipment, except for the forensic facility which shows $700,000. So I would ask if the minister could please table in the House, before the end of today's session, the detailed list of medical equipment that was purchased for the forensic unit with the federal medical equipment money?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I will endeavour to get the information as quickly as I can. If I can't table it before the end of the session today, then I will make sure it is available as soon as I can get it.

[Page 8123]

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, medical equipment is needed badly throughout this province and this minister has had 30.4 million federal dollars to spend and has not spent it. Could the minister please inform all members before the House what he plans to purchase with this money, and when?

MR. SPEAKER: Order please, order please. Although the honourable member is asking about federal dollars being spent, I still believe they are spent through the provincial budget, which I think would be a question for estimates, as opposed to a question for the House. Order, please. It is clearly a budget question for estimates.

Next question.

The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

COMMUN. SERV. - MASONVIEW HOMES:

RESIDENTS - ALTERNATIVES

MR. JERRY PYE: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Community Services. Yesterday the residents of Masonview Homes were informed that they would have to move because there isn't enough funding to pay for the care they need. Here are three letters from the residents who don't want to leave their home. I will table these letters. One resident writes that he would have gone to jail but the staff has helped him turn around and he doesn't get in trouble anymore. My question to the Minister of Community Services is, where are these residents supposed to go if they lose their home?

HON. PETER CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, as I indicated to a previous honourable member's questions, it is our hope that we will satisfactorily arrange the financial arrangements with this home. We will conclude those shortly, so they will not be leaving the home.

MR. PYE: Mr. Speaker, my first supplementary. Half of these residents are deaf and speak through sign language, as a matter of fact, bilingual language is an appropriate term. The staff at Masonview Homes is trained in bilingual language while the staff of other facilities are not. It is cruel to throw these people out of their homes due to underfunding and send them to places where they may not be able to communicate properly. I ask the Minister of Community Services when is he going to sit down with the owners of Masonview Homes and come up with a solution to this crisis?

MR. CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, staff at Community Services have been meeting with this group over the last two months. They have had additional financial information that has been required, it's been received, and it's being analyzed now. As I indicated, it is our hope we will conclude this satisfactorily in the very near future.

[Page 8124]

MR. PYE: Mr. Speaker, this minister misspeaks, because in conversation yesterday with this minister, the minister told me himself that he thought the meeting was Monday night. It was too late to attend last night's meeting and the department could send no one to attend but the department would meet with the operator on Thursday of this week. Now the minister implies that that is not the case at all. I attended the meeting last night on the problems at Masonview Homes. The residents are heartbroken at losing their homes, as this letter demonstrates. I will ask the minister, how long is he prepared to let this cruel treatment of these mental health consumers continue, once again?

MR. CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, the department has, as I indicated to the member, been meeting with them. The department could be planning to have meetings with them tomorrow to get information. They could be handling information. We will be resolving this one as soon as we possibly can.

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

PET. DIR. - NAT. GAS: DIST. - PREMIER'S PROMISE

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister responsible for the Petroleum Directorate. In 1998, the then Leader of the Tory Party, now the Premier, was on an open-line radio show in the Annapolis Valley, and he promised natural gas would be available to local residents under a Progressive Conservative Government. I would like to table to the House today - I would like to read a bit of it and then table this particular Sunday Herald edition dated September 20, 1998, when it says, "The leaders of the provincial Liberals and NDP have failed to tell Nova Scotians how the province could get the most out of new opportunities . . . says the province's Tory leader."

It goes on, "The announcement the government ought to make is regarding the new regulations for distribution of natural gas so that communities across Nova Scotia aren't denied the economic spinoffs and job opportunities presented by natural gas." I would like to table that. My question to the minister is, can the Petroleum Minister tell this House if that promise by his boss, the former Leader and now Premier, is realistic today, or, if not, why not?

HON. GORDON BALSER: Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member opposite for the question. I can tell him that the program that was put in palce to see gas distributed in the province by the previous government didn't work at all. We've brought forward legislation that I believe will see gas distributed in this province in the near term.

[Page 8125]

[3:45 p.m.]

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: I'm not talking about what was promised by the previous government, I'm talking about what the Premier, the now Premier of the Tory Government in this province promised Nova Scotians in the Annapolis Valley. My question to the minister was, if the Premier promised it, why isn't he doing it?

Mr. Speaker, my first supplementary, again to the minister. Tier II of the offshore development has been proposed with an 18 per cent local content rider; the previous government was able to get local content to 29 per cent. My question to the part-time Minister of the Petroleum Directorate is can the Petroleum Minister indicate whether or not 18 per cent will be acceptable to his government or will he press for more local content?

MR. BALSER: The 18 per cent is attributable to the PanCanadian Deep Panuke project, not Tier II. But certainly we are concerned, as all Nova Scotians are concerned, to ensure that Nova Scotians get maximum benefits.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: This is the only minister that I know that less is better. He said that in a press conference, that there are no winners and losers here when Newfoundland and Labrador got close to 80 per cent of the project that was recently announced or the Laurentian Sub-basin distribution of property boundaries. He says that wasn't a loss - and we got nothing. That's the same minister who just told this House he's not going to push for more local content in the projects that are before this House now.

My final supplementary to the minister is, the Premier again indicated that there would be a full-time energy minister by March 31st - and I will table The Daily News edition of December 19, 2001, where again the Premier states there will be another Cabinet shuffle before his government's first energy minister is named March 31st - well it's well past March 31st and we don't have an announcement yet. Can the Petroleum Minister indicate to this House, in light of his less-than-stellar performance in the job, when will your replacement be named by the Premier?

MR. BALSER: I believe that question would be better answered by the Premier, since it's his decision when Cabinet shuffles will occur and who will be appointed to various portfolios. Unlike the previous government and that previous minister, we'll take the time to do it properly rather than slam it together in a haphazard manner.

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

EDUC. - BUDGET (2002-03): SPECIAL NEEDS - DETAILS

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: My question is for the Minister of Education. The minister's government has appeared to support fully inclusive education in Nova Scotia. In its platform

[Page 8126]

document it states this government will develop " a multi-year plan for addressing the need for additional resources for students with special needs." My question for the Minister of Education is, where is her commitment to the students with special needs in this year's budget?

HON. JANE PURVES: In fact, we did conduct a review of special education and special education implementation - actually the most extensive review of any such special ed in the country. We are working towards a multi-year plan and are working on 20 of 34 recommendations this year in that report.

MR. DEVEAUX: I'm going to table recommendation No.19. I suspect this isn't one of the recommendations the minister is actually working on for this year. It's a recommendation that states that there should be $20 million injected into the system immediately in this fiscal year in order to ensure that special needs students have their needs addressed and classrooms are not being overcrowded. The minister is familiar with that document, as she mentioned it and the report itself. From its budget it is apparent that this minister did not deal with the document which so clearly called for increased funding to ensure inclusive classrooms. Can the minister tell this House what her government is doing to follow the recommendations, particularly No. 19 that asks for $20 million extra in funding?

MISS PURVES: The funding request from that report, whether it is or is not or to what extent it is dealt with in this year's budget, I am sure that's going to come up in estimates. I am sure the honourable member opposite is going to question me quite intensively on that, but I will say that not every recommendation had to do with money and not every problem can be fixed with money.

MR. DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, you know, the irony is that this report was requested by this government. This government set up a table of experts that they wanted to hear from with regard to special needs. The document recommended increased funding for early intervention to identify special needs, for extensive support to make classrooms more inclusive and for professional development for teachers. It's the minister's own report. So my question is, could the minister tell Nova Scotians who need to have inclusive education when they can expect her government to come forth with the $20 million the experts say is needed in order to address special needs education in Nova Scotia?

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, we are moving forward as we can afford with the recommendations in that report. If we came forward with $20 million today, the honourable member would be standing up there saying we want $40 million. There is no satisfying people who don't understand money.

[Page 8127]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Victoria.

ENVIRON. & LBR. - OIL SPILL:

C.B. HIGHLANDS - RESPONSE EXPLAIN

MR. KENNETH MACASKILL: Mr. Speaker, my question today is for the Minister of Environment and Labour. On April 4th an article in The Cape Breton Post printed that an estimated 4,600 litres of oil was spilled in the Cape Breton Highlands on March 26th. This article indicated that it is still unknown whether the spill will have a negative effect on the North Aspy River or the area.

Mr. Speaker, I would like the House to know that a representative of Environment Canada and environmental emergencies from Dartmouth were quoted as having major concerns. Would the minister tell the House or explain to the House why his department's response to this oil spill in the Cape Breton Highlands was not warranted on March 26th?

HON. DAVID MORSE: I thank the honourable member for bringing up the question and I will tell him that my recollection of this was actually through a newspaper article. It had to do, as I recall it, with a matter that happened some time ago and the jurisdiction seemed to me, as I recall it, federal, but I would be happy to check with the department and provide more information for the honourable member. (Interruptions)

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

MR. MACASKILL: Mr. Speaker, 1,000 gallons of oil was spilled in the river regardless of whose responsibility and I would think that the minister should have at least found out whose responsibility it was. Oil spills happen periodically and we see on television attention is given to environmental people and the media immediately on the site of a contamination and we have seen immediate attention given to spills of a much smaller magnitude than 4,600 litres in Cape Breton.

Mr. Speaker, my question is, why did the minister not ensure that immediate action, regardless of whose responsibility it was, by his department to assess the damage of 4,600 litres of oil spilled in the river?

MR. MORSE: Mr. Speaker, actually it gives me a chance to talk a little bit about contaminated sites in Nova Scotia. The member opposite talks about petroleum spills and actually that is a very serious problem in Nova Scotia. The honourable member would be interested to know that 90 per cent of contaminated sites are because of petroleum spills and that is why we brought in the new Petroleum Management Regulations and that's why we have improved the scrutiny of petroleum storage tanks. So while the member has brought something up which I believe is not of provincial jurisdiction, it certainly is of concern and

[Page 8128]

this is just to give an example of some of the things that we're doing provincially to prevent contaminated sites from petroleum product spills.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. There is too much noise in the Chamber. It is difficult to hear the members. The honourable member for Victoria has the floor on his final supplementary.

MR. MACASKILL: Mr. Speaker, the further we go, the more confused I get. The source of surface water could come from a river. This would be a freshwater tributary. The minister should know that it is his responsibility to foresee that we have safe drinking water in this province. My final supplementary is, I ask the minister, does he plan to continue with his ignorance of the environment with respect to the release of contaminants in our water, our air and our life?

MR. MORSE: Mr. Speaker, I want to assure the member opposite that we work very well with our federal counterparts. We respect each other's jurisdictions and when there is an overlap, we are happy to co-operate with them.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

COMMUN. SERV. - WORKING POOR: HOMELESSNESS - ADDRESS

MR. JERRY PYE: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister responsible for Housing. I would like to recognize the members of the group Community Action on Homelessness, who were present earlier today. They have come here with a message that this province is not adequately addressing the issue of homelessness. The working poor of this province have a difficult time accessing affordable, safe housing. Waiting lists in Kentville are three years long, while there are 36 families waiting for 33 units in Antigonish. I ask the Minister of Community Services, what is his government going to do to address the homelessness of working poor?

HON. PETER CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, as I indicated on a question before, we have been meeting with the federal government. Last year, as part of that program and the 50/50 splitting, we put $4.7 million, our share, in last year. We have been getting ready to start that program. I will also say that we have expanded the number of housing people and the people in housing that are under our Social Assistance Program, too. We have been working on those two fronts. We have been working with the towns and municipalities and the cities because they want to become part of that program, too. We recognize there are a lot of vacancies and requirements across the province and we have to work with all of those groups.

[Page 8129]

MR. PYE: Mr. Speaker, the minister is very much aware that this working with the federal government over a number of years has not allowed this government in itself to put money into the housing issue, which it should have addressed in the first place. The cost of rent has continued to rise while incomes do not. Rural communities are hit hard by the lack of affordable housing, as well as lower incomes. In Antigonish, 365 families earn less than $26,000 a year while rents for a two or three bedroom apartment cost between $582 and $852 a month. That's one-half of their earnings; that's 50 per cent. I ask the Minister of Community Services, how many Nova Scotians are waiting on that list for affordable housing?

MR. CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member knows that in our discussion with the federal government, we have indicated to them that we want to be able to direct a portion of that money back into existing homes; 70 per cent of Nova Scotians own their own homes and a lot of families want money directed back into existing facilities. We are working with them to try to get that number at a 50 per cent rate, as opposed to the 25 per cent across the country, because it is our belief, and as people have told us, they need money to fix up their existing homes while we are working on programs to develop new facilities. This government will keep working and taking that position.

MR. PYE: Mr. Speaker, I would remind the honourable minister that he is quite right, but there are many people out there today who cannot afford the shelters that they already have. The federal government launched a $680-million initiative for affordable housing last year, but so far Nova Scotia has not taken advantage of that. Now the minister has said that he has been communicating for a period of time. This has been going on long enough. My question to the minister is, when is his department going to sign on with this program and give hundreds of Nova Scotians roofs over their heads, Nova Scotians who don't have those roofs now?

[4:00 p.m.]

MR. CHRISTIE: As I indicated to the honourable member before, next week officials from CMHC from the Atlantic Provinces will be in Halifax to try to finalize and finish that off that agreement. We will be working on that item. It was already put in last year, as I indicated to your previous question. The $4.7 million was put in the corporation last year, which one of your members asked the Finance Minister and said we were accruing. We put that money in so we would be ready to do this program.

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

SYSCO - CLEANUP FUND: EXPENDITURES - DETAIL

MR. PAUL MACEWAN: Mr. Speaker, I want to ask a question initially of the Minister of Economic Development, but I may very well wind up with the Minister of

[Page 8130]

Finance. Approximately two years ago - I think exactly two years ago - this government established a fund, which, I believe, was struck at $230 million, for the purposes of environmental remediation and other plant site cleanup work at the site of the Sydney Steel Corporation. The money has been carried forward from then until now, in large part unspent. I would like to ask the Minister for Sysco if he could advise the House approximately how much of that money has been spent, and how much of that money is as yet unspent? (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Again, if the members are asking general questions specific to an area or a region it's one thing, but when you get to specific questions about budget (Interruptions) Order, please. There are specific questions about a budget before the House today, and I would ask the member to save it for estimates. The honourable Minister of Economic Development can answer in a general way without specifically relating to the budget, please.

HON. GORDON BALSER: Mr. Speaker, with regard to the fund set aside for the Sysco remediation, the bulk of it remains unexpended. We're working through a plan for how to best utilize that money. When we have that plan in place and when it's appropriate to spend the money, we will.

MR. MACEWAN: Mr. Speaker, I'm very satisfied with that answer because he agrees with me. The bulk of that money is unexpended; it's still sitting there. It's part of the funding of the province. I want to ask the Minister of Finance, if that money were indeed expended as it should have been over the past two years in Sydney, would that not have an effect on - I can't say estimates or budget - the province's general, overall outlook? How would that be?

HON. NEIL LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, the answer is no, the reason being that two years ago - and I think it is two years ago - there was an engineering study done at that time, I think it was by the Department of Transportation and Public Works, which set up an estimate for the work that would have to be done. There were provisions made for the environmental reclamation that would have to be done, both on the Sydney Steel site and the Muggah Creek site. Those are two different projects. Obviously, as we go forward, those costs will be more exact. I will leave it at that. If the member has another question, I will be more than prepared to answer it.

MR. MACEWAN: Mr. Speaker, this is the final supplementary on the question I would like to get into at some depth, but I obviously can't at this point. I would like to ask the Minister of Finance, in conclusion for today, if he could indicate to the House what degree of priority - perhaps what degree of urgency - his government gives to this matter so that the environmental remediation work that is clearly required in Sydney would be proceeded with, people would be put to work, and the environmental damage there could be remediated?

[Page 8131]

MR. LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, I should point out that whatever work we're going to do on remediation should be done properly. I should point out to the member opposite - coming from Cape Breton where the JAG group has been working to bring this to a successful conclusion that is taking, some would say, perhaps, too long - I will point out that when the plan is developed to move ahead, then we as a province have set up a provision to do the work. We all acknowledge that there is a liability for the Province of Nova Scotia to do that remediation and we all acknowledge it. I remember your colleague, the member for Cape Breton South, in the past said someday when we do that, there will be costs and he would have rather deferred it, but someday we will do that work. Hopefully it will be sooner rather than later. I know the people of Cape Breton would just love to have that site remedied.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.

EDUC.: ÉCOLE BEAUFORT - CLOSURE

MR. HOWARD EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Education. Last night the Halifax Regional School Board voted to close a school in Halifax - École Beaufort. The school is in the constituency of the Education Minister and many of the students come from my constituency. The school board is under extreme financial pressure because of inadequate funding from the Department of Education, but closures are only supposed to be considered for empty schools. That's not École Beaufort; École Beaufort is full.

Mr. Speaker, could the minister outline for the students and parents of Ecolé Beaufort what she is going to do?

HON. JANE PURVES: Mr. Speaker, I certainly do appreciate that question and I thank the member for asking it. The procedures for school closures as in the Education Act now do not allow the Minister of Education to interfere in the process. It has been very difficult for me. Many of the students at École Beaufort and many of the parents are constituents of mine and I have been able to do very little for them other than to listen to them and to provide them with information that is available to the public. The school board is conducting its reviews. It is proceeding with some school closures and I regret very much that one of them happened to be in my riding.

MR. EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, hiding behind the existing regulations isn't going to do the minister any good at election time next year. The savings generated from closing this school are likely to be small and not realized for a few years. There will be a cost of deploying students to other schools and the money saved will be less than hoped for. The

[Page 8132]

decision to close this school is unjustified as it had no empty classrooms. Inadequate funding to school boards by the Department of Education has resulted in disruption.

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

MR. EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, will this minister undertake immediately to stop the closing of École Beaufort - a full school?

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite knows full well that I did not interfere in Dartmouth, that I have not interfered in Sydney, and he would be the first one screaming across the aisle at me if I were to interfere with a school board decision in Halifax.

MR. EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, the core problem here is inadequate funding. Here's how the minister could act without so-called interfering. If she funded adequately that school board and, in particular, if she put up the capital money to build the new high school on the peninsula, the school board wouldn't be scrambling around closing elementary schools. When is she going to give money to the Halifax Regional School Board so it can build a new high school and isn't forced to close an elementary school? That's the step that the minister could take without (Interruptions)

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

The honourable member for Cape Breton West on a point of order.

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: No, Mr. Speaker, on a point of personal privilege. Earlier today during Question Period, the member for Timberlea-Prospect, during his exchange with the Minister of Transportation and Public Works, referred to the Lieutenant Governor as Martha Stewart on several occasions.

Mr. Speaker, I refer all honourable members to the oath of allegiance and the oath that we took as members when we came to the House of Assembly.

MR. PAUL MACEWAN: And the Rules of the House.

MR. MACKINNON: I read, "I do swear that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty QUEEN ELIZABETH THE SECOND, Her Heirs and Successors According to Law, So help me God."

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the fact that perhaps any member of the NDP would like to take issue with the financial appropriation, whether it be the Lieutenant Governor or any other cause in the Province of Nova Scotia, whether it be the Lieutenant Governor, or any other cause in the Province of Nova Scotia. I take personal offence to the fact that the

[Page 8133]

Queen's representative, who, I might add, is perhaps a very effective, well-respected and practising Lieutenant Governor in every facet of life in this province and has brought nothing but honour to the oath of that office.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask you and all members of this House to request the honourable member to offer his apology for such a defamatory association of the Lieutenant Governor in that context and that the honourable member be required to write a letter of apology or, at least, an explanation explaining why his emotional outburst led him to the disrespectful position that he took. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect, your response.

MR. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: I would like to point out under no circumstances is this a personally offensive comment. I would like members present to know that I had the honour - as you did, Mr. Speaker - in the early 1980s to receive a Medal of Bravery which I proudly received from the Governor General of Canada at that time. I know that in present I have stood in this place and I have sung, as we recognized, yesterday, the Queen Mum's unfortunate passing. What is offensive is the priorities of this government. What is not offensive is my particular comparison.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member for Cape Breton Nova in regard to this issue raised by the honourable member for Cape Breton West.

MR. PAUL MACEWAN: I don't have my Rule Book here in my desk, but I do recall from memory a Rule of this House that states that no member shall speak disrespectfully of Her Majesty, which has, I believe, been interpreted to include the Queen's representative, either the Governor General of Canada or the Lieutenant Governor of this province or of any province. That is a Rule of this House that all of us must adhere to.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. It won't be debated on the floor of the House. If there are no further interventions, I will take the matter under advisement and report back to the House.

The honourable member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage on an introduction.

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I am very glad to see today in your gallery, the Speaker's Gallery, some of the residents, parents and staff of Masonview Homes, which is in my constituency. In no particular order, I'm going to read off the names of those people who have come here to attend to listen to Question Period and, hopefully, have an opportunity to talk to the minister about their concerns about the future of Masonview Homes. Maybe they can all stand as I read their names: Marlene Edwards, Shannon Oulton, Lynn Ward-Rice, Nicole Bezanson, Joey Joyce, Jean-Paul Gallivan, Kevin Howett, Richard MacNeil, Erin Hennessey, Christopher Knowles, Linda Kelly, Sandy Morrison, Cindy

[Page 8134]

MacKay, Gail MacKay, Fisher MacKay, Shirley Boyce and Richard Boyce. I would like the House to acknowledge them and give them a warm welcome. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations on an introduction.

HON. ANGUS MACISAAC: I am very pleased today to draw the attention of members of the House to the east gallery. We have visitors from the Town of Antigonish. First of all, a very kind and gracious lady, very popular in that town, Her Worship, Mayor Kay Chisholm from the Town of Antigonish. The mayor is accompanied today by a good friend of mine, a sometimes golfing partner, a long-time volunteer with minor hockey, Councillor Bob Hillier. Bob is in the gallery. (Interruption) Not hard to beat me in golf. They are also accompanied today by a business professor from St. Francis Xavier University, Willie Cormier. They have a fourth companion with them, he's not in the gallery now - I don't know if he's on a "Baker break" or where he is - the Director of the Physical Plant from St. Francis Xavier University, Mr. Leon MacLellan. We welcome these visitors to the gallery. (Applause)

[4:15 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. If the honourable member for Dartmouth East wouldn't mind, I have two more on the list for introductions, then I will go to you for your point of order.

The honourable member for Shelburne.

MR. CECIL O'DONNELL: Mr. Speaker, today we have visiting with us a group of people from various parts of Nova Scotia, attending a meeting in the city. In the east gallery, we have with us today - and I would ask that these people rise as I read their names off - Mona Nickerson, Barry Nickerson, Ronald Surette and Captain Blandford Nickerson. (Applause)

In the west gallery, we have Stephen Relton, who is the Speaker of the Confederacy of the Nova Scotia Metis. We have William Lewis, Tony Cunningham, Marilyn Cunningham, Louise Ross, Paul Ross, Joseph Gaudet, Alice Smith, Roy Doucette, John Babin and, last but not least, my good friend David Quinlan. I would ask that those people rise, too, and receive a welcome from all members. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Preston.

MR. DAVID HENDSBEE: Mr. Speaker, during Question Period, from 2:55 p.m. to 3:10 p.m., I had another group of students from the Humber Park Elementary School in Westphal, the Grade 6 class, 26 students with their teacher, Linda LeBlanc, and their

[Page 8135]

chaperones, Laurie Finley, Donald Mulder, Tony Kennedy and Krista Gagne. I would like the House to acknowledge their presence here today. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: We certainly welcome all our special, invited guests to the gallery today.

The honourable member for Dartmouth East. Thank you for your patience.

DR. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, today you disallowed my final supplementary on a question, which I accepted, but I just want to offer as a point of order that my understanding, at least what I understood, was that it was ruled out of order in that it was covered by the estimates. Now we had tried to determine whether in fact the $15 million of the $30 million of 100 per cent federal dollars that were transferred to this province are available to this province, in fact had been in this year's budget. I wasn't clear and didn't understand that answer at all. I don't think the minister understood where it was. It could have been the Department of Finance, it could be in the Department of Health. The point being that this was approximately $15 million allotted in the year 2000-01 and then another $15 million in 2001-02, which ended March 31st this year. My point was that this was not a matter relative to the estimates that are before the House at this juncture, at least as far as the information given by the minister.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I would like to thank the honourable member for Dartmouth East in assisting me, but when I made the decision I felt that the question was for estimates. I guess I feel that 40 hours of an opportunity to dig out that information would be quite sufficient in the House, so it is not a point of order.

OPPOSITION MEMBERS' BUSINESS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Opposition House Leader. We are a few minutes behind if you want to . . .

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, in fact I thought what he was doing, because it's not a point of order, was challenging the ruling of the Speaker. Surely he wouldn't do that.

Mr. Speaker, I have passed out the order of business to both the government and to the Third Party, with the allotted times. Obviously I will have to adjust the times slightly, maybe cut a minute off the time for each of the speakers.

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

[Page 8136]

PRIVATE MEMBERS' PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Opposition House Leader.

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 63.

Bill No. 63 - Commissioner on Resources and Environment Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants East.

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, before I get underway, I want to acknowledge one of the introductions that the honourable member for Shelburne made. Bill Lewis is from Maitland in Hants East. It's nice to see him here.

Mr. Speaker, Bill No. 63, Commissioner on Resources and Environment Act, a bill introduced by me to this House is a piece of legislation that has similar legislation in other jurisdictions. It is a piece of legislation, I think, that is designed to give a comprehensive overall approach to issues around the environment.

I know this government has been engaged in an integrated resource management program. Certainly there have been members of a number of communities and certainly those in the environmental community who have had really strong concerns about the integrated resource management process. I think they felt that this has been a process that really has not allowed for much consultation from their constituents. I think that if we believe that not only must justice be done, but it must be perceived to be done, certainly that would be a process, but there are people who feel it has not been as open and as consultative as it might be, or at least that their input has not been listened to.

That's only one area, Mr. Speaker, that I would say requires an overall plan or approach to looking at environmental issues and resource issues. If we were to think of a number of things that are going on in this province at any one time, certainly the way we harvest timber in this province and our clear-cutting approach is not appropriate for the industry if the industry is concerned at all about sustainability. It is not appropriate for the environment. It is not appropriate in regard to condition of streams and water courses.

I do want to say that as much as this may not appear to be flattering to the government, for the Minister of Natural Resources, that at least the regulations that he has brought forward allowing for a buffer along streams I think was an appropriate move. I think I would have liked to have seen him make that buffer wider. I think the other parts of those regulations that allow for a certain number of trees left in a clear-cut, I think that was an absolute waste of paper. I think that those little pockets of trees that are left there, the first decent windstorm will take care of that. It does absolutely nothing. It's like sticking a palm tree in the middle of a desert. As far as ensuring habitat for wildlife, it does nothing.

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I think that it would be in the best interest of Nova Scotians if the government would take a view of harvesting practices to try to consider the multi-purpose use of a forest, that there are other people in this province who enjoy the forest and their enjoyment is not based on walking through a sea of stumps and brush. Certainly most of the wildlife species in this province did not evolve in clear-cuts. As much as anybody may enter a clear-cut and see a rabbit or a partridge or a deer, this doesn't necessarily lend itself to the best habitat for those organisms.

There is definitely very valuable information in the GPI Atlantic report, Mr. Speaker, that for any members of this House, if they want to take a look at the secondary documents in that report, which would indicate those species that require a woodland environment in order to live in appropriate conditions in this province, there is certainly a good list that they can refer to and to know that there's nothing here in this province that indicates that there are animals that live very well in clear-cuts. They don't exist.

Also, Mr. Speaker, this commissioner would have the power to look over issues that cover a broad range of departments. His or her mandate would be purely on the development policy and to advise on possible legislation to the government. Where the commissioner believes that a person or a group will be significantly and directly affected by a land-use issue or related resource or environment issue under consideration by the commissioner, then he shall inform that person or group and give that person or group an opportunity to make representation to the commissioner on that issue and develop recommendations for a report.

Now, the commissioner may conduct hearings for that purpose and the commissioner, if the commissioner so deems, will deliver a report to the Legislature. It is incumbent on the commissioner to make an annual report to the government on his/her findings.

It is important for members opposite to understand that this commissioner does not have powers above and beyond the powers of the government. The role of the commissioner, basically, is to examine policy, see if there is a need for improvement of policy or legislation and advise the government on that need in the hope that the commissioner's information will lend itself to the construction of appropriate legislation for whatever that need may be. I want to thank the Minister of Finance for his attentiveness. I would like him to consider that he should not see this commissioner as a significant cost to the province and that the overall benefit, I think, would reap dollars back in the appropriate use of resources.

The government, two years ago, brought in legislation which would be referred to as right-to-farm legislation. It was the view of this Party and certainly of me, as the Agriculture Critic, Mr. Speaker, that that was not the appropriate legislation to deal with right-to-farm issues in Nova Scotia. Actually, we think that the province would be much further ahead if it was to enact legislation on land use and try to diminish conflicts between agricultural operations of urban sprawl wherever those conflicts arise by making clear distinctions of land use and land-use policy so that these conflicts can be avoided in the first place.

[Page 8138]

This is an area that this commissioner can look at and try to come up with recommendations that would be appropriate. The bill, as the government has brought it to this House, is one that we have problems with because the board that is constructed under this bill has powers that we think are unconstitutional. I would say to all members opposite, if you want to instill security in the agricultural sector - in other words, if you think that this is an area that's worth developing, if you think that farmers are going to want to invest in expanding their operations, and if part of that investment is the notion that they are secure and that this investment will not be lost if someone complains about their particular farming practices, then the present legislation does not secure that. As a matter of fact, they're at risk of believing they're secure, and they will invest, only to find out, if someone complains, that they could possibly lose their investment.

This may have a serious impact, and I think it will be important for the government and that industry to take a look at legislation such as the bill that I am talking about here and bring about a commissioner who could look at an overall plan for the province in a comprehensive manner, get input from the stakeholders and come up with something that actually reduces conflict and makes the best possible use of resources in this province.

Mr. Speaker, we know that at the rate that we are harvesting trees in this province, there is more and more pressure by the forest sector on those stands that have actually been set aside as protected areas. I think as time goes on, the government is going to run into pressure from the industry to be able to access and harvest those stands. The truth of it is that in Nova Scotia we do not have the percentage of protected areas that is agreed to on a national basis for provinces to secure. I think we are at about 8 per cent of our forested areas in protected wilderness areas and the aim, in most jurisdictions, is 12 per cent.

[4:30 p.m.]

So this is another area where the commissioner's advice, I think, would be well-advised. I think his role would be appropriate, and I think that if the government considers the role of this commissioner to listen to the stakeholders and to come up with a comprehensive plan or policy that would be the appropriate policy for the province, looking at the wide range of benefits and reduction in conflict between the forestry sector, the agricultural sector, the industrial sector and other areas, such as mining of minerals and so on, that this would be worthwhile for the government. It would give a more comprehensive overview than I think the integrated resource management process has done, and it would get more input from the stakeholders. With that, I will take my place, and look forward to comments from other members in the House.

[Page 8139]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Environment and Labour.

HON. DAVID MORSE: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the member opposite for his thoughts on this matter. I know that he's very sincere. I know that he cares deeply about what he speaks. I do accept some of his points. I may differ as to how we should deliver them. Respectfully, I would like to talk about that for a little bit, and then give some of, perhaps, my own perspective on how I reached that conclusion.

What the member opposite is talking about is sort of like an extra deputy. The commissioner would almost be like a deputy, but it would be a super deputy who would be reporting back to the departments, to the Legislature, and this deputy would be able to hire staff and consultants. I think the member opposite recognizes the seriousness of the challenge, and I acknowledge many of the points that he has brought up in his speech. They truly are of concern.

Indeed, in this Chamber we have members such as yourself, Mr. [Deputy] Speaker, who have concerns about the ability to harvest our forests, because in your constituency you happen to have a lot of sawmills. It's totally reasonable that you would have that concern. There are other members here, such as the member for Eastern Shore, who have people who are concerned about conserving their forests. He does an excellent job in bringing that forward. So we have differences of opinion, and I think that's the honourable member's point.

How do we go about reconciling these in some sort of reasonable fashion that may not please everybody, but it would at least be perceived as fair and, hopefully, make the appropriate use of those valuable resources that are available to us? You mentioned the GPI, I think, briefly in your statement - that's the Genuine Progress Index - and it recognizes things that go beyond just harvesting today. I think that concept certainly has some merit.

In essence, what the bill proposes to do is to make some very fundamental changes in the way that we scrutinize certain responsibilities, clearly, Natural Resources is one. The idea of forestry was brought up as a specific example, but I think it would also apply to mines and many other natural resources that we are blessed with in this province. It clearly impacts Environment, because Environment has some stipulations as to how we conduct business in this province, and it also provides protections for our natural resources and therefore our environment.

It also strays very much into Municipal Affairs, because through the Municipal Government Act we have the land use planning delegation to the municipality. So it has a huge impact on municipalities, and I think that the municipalities would probably very much like to have a say in this debate, because I think they would have some legitimate concerns. Again, that's not casting aspersions on some of the legitimate points that the member

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opposite has brought up, but I think that in their absence I would like to speak briefly on the municipal land use planning process later on.

Anyway, there are a number of departments that would be affected by this. Today, when we get interdepartmental conflicts, what is typically done is there are committees struck, often represented by deputies or by their designates, to try to make sure that we're not getting into a silo mentality and that there can be some sort of comprehensive approach to addressing these more significant and perhaps complex challenges. That is how we do it with this government. I think that traditionally, I understand that's been the method, but I certainly know that with this government we are striking interdepartmental committees and, in fact, on some of the subjects that the honourable member has brought up, those committees exist today to try to work with the stakeholders to bring forward some sort of satisfactory conclusion that stays within the legislation and the regulations that are in place but still satisfies some of those grey areas which are clearly of concern to constituents.

Constituents may not always agree with the legislation and the regulations in place, but they do appreciate the rule of abiding by the law and trying to accommodate their concerns within the framework that's in place, which we are, of course, duty bound to uphold here. If we have a problem with it then we can change the law, but we cannot change it on an ad hoc basis to suit the situation. So the member opposite has brought forward his concept of how he would like to capture this and change the general approach.

We have a fundamental change, a change that I would point out would come with a cost. When you appoint somebody with those types of qualifications and you delegate that type of responsibility to them, you are going to have to pay an appropriate sum to acquire that person's services and, indeed, that person is going to need the necessary support services. We're really talking about not a full-blown department, but certainly a staff that is going to tax the general revenues of the province to a certain extent. So therein comes the balance as to whether there's a net gain by changing the structure by which we approach this, and, I think, respectfully, to the member opposite, I would say that I feel that the existing system encompasses a lot of the things that he feels would be better achieved by the commissioner. Again, that's a disagreement of opinion between two members and that is the essence of good, constructive debate, so I thank him for bringing that forward.

As we get into this, I would like to just talk about what the impact would be on some of the departments. Perhaps I would like to start with my own. In terms of consultation with organizations, with the public, with the stakeholder groups, we pride ourselves in the consultation process. Indeed, right now with the Tobeatic Wilderness Protection Area, we have started a committee to try to come up with a management plan for that area, we've tried to bring in diverse points of views; people who all feel passionately about what they think should be in the Tobeatic. But, you know something, Mr. Speaker? Not all those people going in have the same point of view, but we have put a mechanism in place to try to bring forward

[Page 8141]

a consensus resolution to basically, the rules of the game subject to the legislation. There is some flexibility there and we look forward to a successful conclusion to that process.

In many areas within the Department of the Environment, we go out to people who have shown an interest in the environment, who have perhaps formed an organization. Again, all organizations may not have the same point of view, and it's constructive that we have different points of view, and they articulate their points of view very well, and we listen to them, we consider what they have to say and we try to form our policy based on the best advice that we can receive. Some of it comes from those organizations, some of it comes from the public.

What I'm trying to say is that with the Department of Environment and Labour, we very much value public input, and there are procedures in place to tap that valuable resource.

I would also like to say within the Department of Natural Resources, I know my colleague also values public opinion and he has committees in place and I know that he relies on them. Indeed just in the last week or so, Mr. Speaker, there was something that I think that he would have liked to have done, but he refused to do it until it went through the proper committee process and that is appropriate. There is a democratic process in place. If you put these committees and accept these volunteers' contributions, you should respect it and you should not usurp their position in delivering that valued advice.

But I think that the one that perhaps comes closest to my heart as a former municipal councillor and I think, Mr. [Deputy] Speaker, yourself, as a former alderman here for the County of Halifax, so as a municipal councillor and I think that there are many other former councillors in this Chamber who would have a familiarity with municipal planning strategies and land use bylaws and I, indeed, am also from one of those counties. The Municipality of the County of Kings is one and, indeed, back in 1979 they brought in a municipal planning strategy and there have been many times when there have been public meetings and the public come in and they express their point of view specifically on matters that are of concern to them.

Some of these meetings are well attended, Mr. Speaker, and indeed the people are quite passionate. I think that's what I would call grassroots democracy which I think is indeed what the member opposite is trying to accomplish. I know that some of the things that he speaks to may perhaps go beyond the local community level and he's talking about protecting agricultural land, something which has received a good deal of debate in Kings County and rightly so. I'm not saying that there's not a place there for a provincial concern, but I think that in things like Mark-Lyn Construction, which is something that's within my own constituency, that that is something that would be well addressed by changes to the land use planning bylaws and, in fact, if that was in place, it would have answered the question. It either would have been an activity that was welcomed in the community or not welcomed in the community.

[Page 8142]

I do want to talk about the costs just for a few minutes, Mr. Speaker, about the extra commission, because in essence what we have been doing as a government and, indeed, I can assure you that within my own department there has been a great economy on administration so that the scarce resources can be put to front-line service. In the case of the Department of Environment and Labour that could mean occupational health and safety officers; it could mean environmental inspectors. There are all types of people who are providing front-line service and there have been significant cuts to administration, particularly in the minister's office.

So this, to me, is going back on the course that we have chartered as a government and that is the member's perfect right to come up and say, well, you know, I differ on that point of view and I respect your opinion, I disagree, but I do respect your right to bring this bill forward and to speak on it but, in essence, what you are calling for is another layer of administration bureaucracy. They will come with a cost, there will be some ground rules that would have to be worked out by the affected departments. So I would maintain that the interdepartmental committees using the deputies or their designates is perhaps a more cost-effective way of accomplishing what the honourable member is suggesting in his bill, but as I think about that cost, I also have to think about some of the public meetings I've been to where, say, parents of special needs children have come forward and they've pleaded for more funds for special needs children.

I would have to take the monies that would have to be diverted to this and consider how many special needs children would go without educational instructors. I think of being in front of crowds of concerned citizens who are concerned about their health care and I think how many nurses' positions or doctors, or beds, would it cost to put this other layer of bureaucracy in. I mean this is a cost, it's a trade-off. I'm not saying that the member opposite is mistaken by advocating that trade-off, I'm just making a point that there is a cost.

I could go on, Mr. Speaker, I could talk about caseworkers and community services or whether there's money to buy glasses.

MR. SPEAKER: I'm sorry, honourable minister, your time has expired.

The honourable member for Cape Breton West.

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, I'm pleased to rise and speak on this particular resolution before the House with regard to Bill No. 63 that the NDP have introduced. Essentially the NDP caucus would like the House to approve a bill providing for the establishment of a commissioner on resources and environment. While I applaud the initial thought process, I'm a little disappointed about the fact that the NDP caucus did not research this matter a little more substantively. Simply because the Glen Clark Government of British Columbia took a piece of legislation and put it in place as theirs, doesn't mean to

[Page 8143]

say that we have to photocopy and try to establish the same process here in Nova Scotia, because it's just simply not applicable.

[4:45 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, I would draw the attention of the honourable sponsor of this bill to legislation that's now on the books and a law here in Nova Scotia. Had the honourable member read or done a little research, he probably would have come across a bill, an Act to Encourage the Development and Management of Forest Land. I realize the honourable member is referring more to the aspects of the environmental side . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: If we have the law, why do we harvest the way we harvest . . .

MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, we are getting the cracklings from the socialists, but at least allow us to provide some detail so they will know the next time when they decide to bring a bill before the House, they will at least research it and stop wasting the time of all honourable members when, in fact, we have lots of legislation on the books to deal with such matters.

AN HON. MEMBER: Why haven't you dealt with them?

MR. MACKINNON: Because we have a minister who doesn't even know what's going on in his department. That's why we're not dealing with it. We will get to that point, Mr. Speaker, but let the socialists relax and listen to the facts of reality.

MR. JOHN HOLM: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I just can't help but point out that he said the current minister doesn't know anything about his department or doesn't know what he's doing. I just have to make the observation, is he something like the last minister?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid knows full well that that is not a point of order. So, obviously, the Speaker has ruled that it is not. The honourable member for Cape Breton West has the floor.

MR. MACKINNON: You are right, Mr. Speaker, the honourable minister of the day that the honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid refers to, who is now Acting Premier and the Minister of Transportation and Public Works, did a fairly good job. Never mind the rhetoric from the socialists . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. For the edification of all folks in the House, we do recognize that points of order do take precedence over other matters before the House; however, I trust this time it will be a point of order.

[Page 8144]

MR. JOHN HOLM: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I made an error and when I referred to the former Minister of Labour . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I can see where this point of order is going. It is not a point of order. Would the honourable member please take his seat.

MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, that point is as frivolous as the piece of legislation that we're debating now. That's the point. If the honourable member who sponsored this bill and the NDP caucus - surely they must have researchers; they have the resources the same as every other caucus, provided by the taxpayers of Nova Scotia - had they read another piece of legislation, the Municipal Government Act, which they themselves supported, it empowers the municipalities, " . . . to assume the primary authority for planning within their respective jurisdictions, consistent with their urban or rural character, through the adoption of municipal planning strategies and land-use by-laws consistent with interests and regulations of the Province;"

Mr. Speaker, take that, coupled with the other piece of legislation, coupled with the Environment Act, and I would suggest that there is no need for this politically sponsored, politically motivated bill, just because someone from the Clark Government decided to fax them something from one end of Canada to the other. Simply creating an office doesn't necessarily solve the problem.

We saw what happened when we created the office of the commissioner of forestry. We go back to Public Accounts in 1993 and 1994. It was quite evident that this individual had the power to do a tremendous amount of good in protecting the natural resources of this province. You know what happened? It became a budgetary issue because the government of the day didn't want the answers that he was prepared to give them. So what did they do? They just sliced it. Effectively, we can put as many pieces of legislation on the books as we want, but if the will isn't there to do something about it, why bother?

We heard the Minister of Environment and Labour stand up in Question Period today and say a gas spill or an oil spill was not the responsibility of the Department of Environment and Labour. In the same Question Period, the same minister stands up and says that occupational health and safety is an issue for the Minister of Health to handle, not his department. Mr. Speaker, that was 60 per cent of his budget when it was just the Department of Labour. It's all about confidence, and we don't have the confidence in that minister and that government to see that this piece of legislation, were it ever to be approved - and I doubt it ever would be, because people don't have confidence in what's happening.

The Minister of Environment and Labour referred, today, to issues in Kings County, in the Valley. Well, that's the part of the province where we have the highest percentage of boil orders of any other jurisdiction in the Province of Nova Scotia. Why? He should be giving us answers; he should be giving solutions.

[Page 8145]

We heard the witness today, Mr. Speaker, representing Mark-Lyn Construction, and yes, it was good. I don't fault this individual any more than any other private businessperson, but I fault the government, that minister and employees in his department for the way this issue was handled. A memo was produced by department staff that showed . . .

HON. DAVID MORSE: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. The member has made a statement about boil orders in the Valley, and I would like to ask him to name one community in the Valley that's on a boil order.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Honourable member and all members, again, that is not a point of order. It is, nonetheless, a question to the honourable member for Cape Breton West. He can feel free to reply to the question if he so desires. He's under no obligation or responsibility to respond.

MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, I feel so bad for that minister; I almost have to apologize to members of the House for some of the answers he's giving. It's so silly when a minister stands up and says, I found out about an environmental disaster in my department by reading the newspaper. Hello. Is the light on up in the department there, or what's going on on the 6th or 7th floor? Let's get with reality. The minister who's responsible for the department says he's going to read the newspaper to find out if there's an oil spill in the province that he has jurisdiction over.

Mr. Speaker, now let's get back to the issue. It was pointed out today that the liaison, the contact person, for the citizens' committee overseeing Mark-Lyn Construction was indeed a poll captain for the Minister of Environment and Labour in the last election. I would suggest there's a little bit of a conflict there when he's saying everything is okay and all the residents are saying there's a problem. We have a departmental employee, and we tabled the memo today, who said that there's peat moss being extracted in that bog, Baltzer Bog, and yet the minister stands and the official position of the department is, it's peat. Yet the proponent, the owner of Mark-Lyn Construction - we tabled another letter - by his own signature, claims there's peat moss in that bog. Why are the environmental laws of this province being broken by the minister, or being ignored? Why would we want more legislation on the books when we can't even get the stewards of trusteeship for our public laws, our public interest, protected? Because of perhaps, maybe, political considerations. I would hate to suggest that, but the evidence points to that.

Mr. Speaker, I can't support this particular piece of legislation. Not that there aren't some good points in there about collaborating with the various interest groups in the province, particularly the Native community. I think that's very good, because the Native community has a lot to offer from their years of experience and lifestyles and knowing the land and working with the land and the natural resources. When we have a piece of legislation that's just some kind of puppy fluff that was generated on the West Coast of Canada by a failed government reincarnated so as to generate some political activity on the floor of the

[Page 8146]

Legislature, it's not good enough. There are just three pieces of legislation that I pointed to so far and I'm sure with another 15 minutes in the library we could come up with a lot more. At least, if we're going to use taxpayers' money and get value for dollar, let them use the researchers to produce some substantive material. Here are four pieces of legislation that are on the books over a 10-year period dealing with that, aside from the three that I've already addressed.

Mr. Speaker, at what point in time do we have to stop putting up with this foolishness? I would encourage the Minister of Environment and Labour to start showing some leadership and if he can't, I'm sure, good gracious, there are some senior members in that Cabinet who could help him. At least tell him that oil spills are a Department of Environment issue, occupational health and safety is a major financial and safety issue in his department; it must be, he just appropriated more money from the employers of this province in his budget, so if they go from 81 per cent to 91 per cent from the employers, why would he do that if occupational health and safety wasn't an issue?

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

MR. MACKINNON: Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.

MR. HOWARD EPSTEIN: Well, a very interesting albeit somewhat noisy debate so far. Let's have a look at what it is that the bill in front of us actually does. Bill No. 63, the Commissioner on Resources and Environment Act introduced by my colleague, the member for Hants East. It has been observed correctly that this is modelled on a piece of legislation that exists in British Columbia. It has been observed incorrectly that it was a piece of legislation in British Columbia from the time of the Clark Government. In fact, it dates back to the time of the Harcourt Government and is somewhat more than theoretical. This Statute, in its corresponding item in British Columbia, was actually put into effect. There was a Commission on Resources and Environment that was very successful in the British Columbia context.

It's that model that we're looking, through Bill No. 63, to convince the other Parties here ought to be adopted in our province. Why did British Columbia decide that a core process was appropriate? The core process was put into place when British Columbians experienced a great deal of conflict over proposed uses of the natural land mass in their province. It's easy to understand what those various interests were and what it is that prompted the government to move.

In British Columbia, of course, the land ownership patterns are somewhat different than we have here. In British Columbia, 91 per cent of the land mass is owned by the provincial Crown. That's an enormous amount for the province to have under their control. What that

[Page 8147]

meant, of course, is that the province, the provincial government, was directly responsible for most of the effective decisions that were made about land use in the province.

Never mind municipalities, places like Vancouver or places like Kamloops. It was the great bulk of the land mass that was directly under Crown control where most of the conflicts took place and those were conflicts amongst those who were interested in logging, those who were interested in using wilderness areas for recreation, those who were interested in seeing wilderness areas preserved for wildlife, the native groups who had their land claims and treaty entitlements, those who were interested in tourism, those who were interested in promoting tourism, those who were interested in recreation, those who were environmentalists and were concerned about overall ecosystem impacts. That's a wide range of potential users of land who had concerns that were sometimes in conflict.

[5:00 p.m.]

As we know from thinking back to the conflicts that erupted over places like Clayoquot Sound, they did become quite heated and with respect to land at least, there were various episodes of acting out and damage done to some land, to a bridge. Fortunately, most violence towards individuals was avoided, but it just illustrates the extent to which these land-use conflicts became a highly charged political issue in British Columbia. It is not incorrect to say that we have the potential for highly charged land-use conflicts in our province. We see, of course, already charges in the courts against Mi'kmaq loggers. We have seen active debates over what lands ought to be set aside as protected areas.

What this bill seeks to avoid is the escalation of land-use conflicts and what this bill says are the tools we have now to deal with land use, although we have some, are not quite adequate and they can be improved upon and that's the essence of Bill No. 63. Bill No. 63 says let us gather everyone together in order to have discussions about reaching consensus over land use. Let us not have physical conflicts. Let us not see resources destroyed unnecessarily. Let us talk to one another peacefully around the table and see if we can't sort out the problems.

Mr. Speaker, that's the right approach, but why is it that Bill No. 63 suggests that we need to go beyond mechanisms that we have right now? One of the mechanisms, and the minister said this, the Minister of Environment and Labour, spoke about delegation to municipalities of land-use planning. Delegation was his word. By saying that, he recognized that municipalities are the instruments of the province when it comes to land-use planning. That's correct. The difficulty is that political jurisdictions defined for municipalities do not always correspond correctly to what ought to be the appropriate land-use areas for which planning needs to be done.

[Page 8148]

It's easy to understand this. Think about interjurisdictional problems. Think about watersheds, for example. Watersheds will often go well beyond one municipality's jurisdiction. What's appropriate when it comes to water and watershed and watershed protection, is to think in a way that crosses individual jurisdiction. Think about urban sprawl. Urban sprawl is a major planning problem in HRM right now and yet its impacts go well beyond the geographic boundaries of HRM even given how large HRM is now post-amalgamation. We know that the questions of urban sprawl involve Colchester County, Hants East, Hants West, Kings County, and it goes down the South Shore just as much as it affects the political entity of HRM. What mechanism exists to allow those four or five counties to come together to do organized planning? It doesn't really exist.

Now, the province has a power that they could assert if they wanted to. We know under the Municipal Government Act that there are powers for the province to step in and issue pursuant to Schedule B Statements of Provincial Interest according to which local municipal planning has to be done and some of those Schedule B Statements of Provincial Interest have been created, but they are not adequate.

What this suggests is not just that the province should assert its jurisdiction, but it should create an office of a commissioner to deal with resources and the environment and that the processes of that commissioner ought to be public, consultative, round-table, consensus-seeking processes. That is the right thing to do. It's not part of Bill No. 63 that the legislative powers of the municipalities or the province be replaced by the commissioner. The commissioner has no powers, under this bill, of bringing in bylaws. The commissioner would have no powers of bringing in regulations. The most the commissioner could do would be to make recommendations to the House of Assembly.

Look at the individual wording of the different sections and this becomes immediately apparent - I won't quote them, because on second reading we don't do that - but what is abundantly apparent is that the power to actually implement remains with the provincial government. The power to implement would remain with law-making bodies like municipalities. All the commissioner would do would be to call people together for discussions. This is correct; this is exactly the way it ought to be.

It was especially noted in Bill No. 63 that the Mi'kmaq peoples ought to be called to come to those round tables if they wish to participate in those discussions. This is correct. Now we know that the patterns of land ownership in Nova Scotia are not the same as B.C., as the precedent that this is modelled upon in British Columbia, and they are different from a small place like Prince Edward Island. In Prince Edward Island the Crown owns 9 per cent of the land. In B.C. I said it was 91 per cent. Nova Scotia is in between; the provincial Crown here owns 23 per cent of the land mass, but that is still a significant area to own and control in Nova Scotia.

[Page 8149]

The ownership or the control of that is, to some extent, being challenged by Mi'kmaq who come forward and say they have certain treaty rights or that they wish to assert their land claims. It is not suggested that Bill No. 63 be a replacement for those processes; clearly, it couldn't be. But the Mi'kmaq peoples could be invited to participate in what could be a comprehensive land-use planning exercise motivated by the overarching principle of sustainability. That has to be the fundamental foundation, philosophic and for implementation of all land-use planning that is done in our province.

Do you know what years of experience in dealing with sustainability issues has taught me, and I think has taught my colleague, the member for Hants East? It's that what is good for the environment is also good for the economy. To which I would add - that nothing else is; nothing else will do. Unless we actually act according to those principles, we will not have a healthy and sustainable economy. We know this because we are so closely tied to forestry and to mining and to agriculture and to fisheries and to energy matters in our province.

It is all very well to have a superstructure economy based on services, but there is an underlying stratum that is so fundamental that we cannot ignore it and that is the goods- producing sector and, in Nova Scotia, that means natural resources. If we abuse those natural resources, there will be no superstructure economy, no room for it. It simply won't exist. Those of us who live in urban areas recognize that. We recognize that what goes on in the rural areas is fundamental to our survival here. That is just economic survival. Beyond that is the importance, in the terms of the minister "the seriousness of the challenge" that has to be recognized.

So, Mr. Speaker, I want to say that I support at second reading, Bill No. 63. It would be a wonderful measure for our province. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: That concludes the time for Bill No. 63.

The honourable Opposition House Leader.

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, would you please call the order of business, Motions Other Than Government Motions.

MOTIONS OTHER THAN GOVERNMENT MOTIONS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Opposition House Leader.

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Resolution No. 2949.

Res. No. 2949, Commun. Serv.: Women's Ctrs./Transition Houses - Consultation Info. - notice given Apr. 8/02 - (Ms. Maureen MacDonald)

[Page 8150]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I think this resolution which says, "Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Community Services come clean about who he consulted with regarding funding for women's centres and transition houses by tabling a list of people and organizations he spoke to about cutting funding to these groups.", is an appropriate one to debate here today.

In the last few days since the budget was tabled last Thursday, we have witnessed the unbelievable spectacle of the Minister of Community Services taking almost $1 million away from women's shelters, women's centres and programs for men who have been abusive. These cuts represent close to 20 per cent of the operating budgets of these organizations, and we've witnessed this minister, in this House, attempting to hide that plan.

Mr. Speaker, in spite of the fact that the minister will not provide straight answers and avoids answering questions that are put to him, his day is coming soon because he can't hide forever. Pretty soon we will all be very clear, as we ferret out the details, on how these cuts, these severe and deep cuts with severe and very damaging consequences, will play themselves out. Make no mistake about it, at the end of the day services will be reduced, women's and children's security will be decreased in this province, houses will close, and women will lose their jobs, especially in rural Nova Scotia. I think that's very clear.

Mr. Speaker, this decision is mean, this decision is wrong and - I don't know if this is a parliamentary term or not; I'm certainly hoping it is - this is a stupid decision. I will tell you how stupid it is; it is so stupid that this government is jeopardizing organizations that generate revenue and create additional sources of opportunity for employment and public service in many areas throughout the province where they are required. I would like to use the Antigonish Women's Resource Centre as an example. Yesterday in the House the honourable Leader of the Opposition tabled a petition with close to 900 signatures on it from the Antigonish area.

Mr. Speaker, that is a women's centre that has operated for many years and that, roughly, receives a little bit more than $100,000 annually from this government. With that money, they provide some core programs. They have an executive director, an administrative assistant, and two part-time program workers, and what they do with $100,000 - as the member for Antigonish will know because I know he's been meeting with them - is they take $100,000 and they grow it so that it's $500,000 annually. How do they do that? Well, that hard-working little corps of women in that organization, along with the volunteer board members, works and develops other program proposals that they then take to various federal government departments, foundations, the Sisters of St. Martha, and other groups, private sector groups, and other levels of government, and they ask for matching funds. They ask for funding in addition to the funding they received from the Department of Community Services.

[Page 8151]

The result of that is, in this one small women's resource centre, that last year they have been able to take $100,000 in a small town, in a small county like Antigonish, and they've been able to grow it to $500,000. They've been able to hire 10 additional staff. They are able to provide a vast array of public services that are required by women and children, not only in Antigonish County but in Guysborough, where the member for Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury - that community that he represents. This is a program and this is a women's resource centre that now is in jeopardy along with five other women's resource centres around the province.

[5:15 p.m.]

Now, Mr. Speaker, I have here information which I will table that outlines the budget of the Antigonish Women's Resource Centre. It also outlines some of the programs that are being provided by the Women's Resource Centre and this is very important because what the minister doesn't seem to recognize or understand is that women's resource centres, the amount of time that they spend working in the area of violence against women and domestic violence is very slight. It's something like 14 per cent to 17 per cent. So this is a very small proportion of what they actually do.

The women's services and the centres provide drop-in programs. They work with survivors of child sexual abuse. They do parenting programs, particularly with parents who are dealing with adolescents. They work with women on financial planning. They do income tax preparation and assistance for women with low incomes. They do health work. They do work to encourage greater community participation in health-related planning and decision making through the community health boards and what have you. They do work around sexual assault. They do work on social program reform. They work with youth in terms of social justice. They do work on developing alternative forms of rural housing around the province.

Mr. Speaker, I will table this fairly comprehensive overview of what one exemplary women's centre in the Province of Nova Scotia does that is now in jeopardy because of a decision that is mean, that is wrong, and which is ultimately stupid. What it does is it puts in jeopardy the capacity and the expertise that exists in these centres not only to provide programs based on the funding that this government gives, but to grow those programs and to draw into these small communities many more dollars than what this government gives. Talk about a stupid, stupid decision. I can't believe it and most people in this province are absolutely dumbfounded at what in the world this minister and this government are thinking of that they're so prepared to jeopardize women's security and they're also prepared to jeopardize those programs and the basic community economic development capacity of the women's centres.

[Page 8152]

Now, Mr. Speaker, it's clear, if you take $1 million away from these organizations, the minister has a plan here and it seems to me that this is the plan we're going to see. The transition houses are going to be required to do what they do now with less money. They're going to be required to do the men's programs with less money and they're going to be required to provide services that women's centres are currently providing with less money. Now, isn't that just like this government? Isn't that the basic modus operandi of this government where this is a government that wants everybody in the province to do more with less and, boy, are they ever asking these women's organizations to do more.

They're asking them to do a whole lot more with a whole lot less, Mr. Speaker, and these organizations have made do for years and years already. So this decision is mean, this decision is wrong, this decision is stupid and in very short order we will start to see the details of this decision. We will learn what regions of the province will see houses close. We will learn what regions of the province women who work in these organizations will see their employment terminated, and we will see what regions in this province will experience the significant loss of public services and programs right in their own homes.

Mr. Speaker, in the last few days I have to tell you that I have had, and I am sure the Minister of Community Services has had many, many more contacts than I've had about this situation. I thought I was hearing a lot from members of the artistic community who were very upset about the loss of the Arts Council, but I will tell you, the loss of transition houses, women's shelters and programs for men who abuse their partners has elicited, certainly in my community, a great, great outpouring of hostility and anger toward this government. It is like the straw that broke the camel's back. The minister, he may have been able to hide his plan, but we will know about it fairly soon, I feel quite certain of that.

MR. SPEAKER: I should mention, honourable member for Halifax Needham, you did indicate that you weren't sure as to whether or not the terminology and the word stupid was parliamentary and, according to Beauchesne, since 1958 it has been ruled parliamentary to use that expression. However, I'm certain that on different occasions it has caused some interventions in the House of Commons and, I'm sure, different Legislatures across this country.

The honourable Minister of Community Services.

HON. PETER CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, I'm pleased to join in this resolution for the debate. I take the comments from the member for Halifax Needham as something that she wants to express a condition. I don't take it personally at all.

The Department of Community Services, as we've indicated, will be undertaking a review of family violence and outreach programs in Nova Scotia. Programs of transitional houses and women's centres and men's programs were developed over the last 20 years. These programs were based on individual community needs. This has resulted, at times, in

[Page 8153]

organizations operating independently from one another. This is not practical, nor is it efficient. Beginning immediately, the department will continue to examine our family violence programs as it relates to a range of services, as they assist families dealing with family violence and a lot of other issues.

Mr. Speaker, I want to be clear, our commitment to the safety of women and children has not changed. This redesign will allow us to maintain our focus on the safety of women and children, and it will allow us to enhance and focus on outreach programs. Right now, we do not have a coordinated system. Involving the sector by redesign and by achieving the goals we will need to meet we will provide a coordinated and efficient approach of delivery for this service.

Now the honourable member mentioned that in programs that we have with women's centres that they lever the money we give them into more money. Mr. Speaker, that's no different than the other hundred or so agencies that we provide money for in this province. Family and Children's Services, other areas, Boys and Girls Clubs, all of those areas that we supply money to to help, because they provide programs they lever the money to get more too.

Mr. Speaker, I have indicated today in the House, and I indicated to the group I met with last Monday that we would meet with them next week. We will discuss the redraft design and the issues that lead to that. We know it is not new, and it is not new to our community partners. I will table this. This just shows the occupancy rate for the last number of years, and I'm happy to table it. That's one of the things that our partners know, that's one of the things we've been discussing over the last number of years.

Mr. Speaker, we have seen an overall decrease in the number of women and children seeking the services of transitional houses, and we have seen a demand for an increase in outreach services. We know there are low occupancy rates in some areas, as I've just indicated, but low occupancy rates aren't the only issue we're addressing here. The redesign will do much more than that. We are planning and we need to reach and come into expanded outreach programs. We will assure the safety of those programs and we need to make sure they are sustainable.

I have said before in this House and I will say again that no decision has been reached on which and how things will change or how the new model will look. We have provided the partners and the women's centres and transition houses with our outlook plan; we've indicated the areas where we want discussion. We've indicated the standards that we want to have as we go forward and those are available as we start the discussion. We need to include the men's programs in these areas too.

There have been a lot of issues surrounding who had we met with, who have we talked about. In the years that I have been in the Department of Community Services, I have attempted to get to all of the centres. I have attempted to get to and meet all the transitional

[Page 8154]

houses. I've attempted to get to Bonny Lea Farm. In the last little while, I've had the opportunity to visit Talbot House in Louisdale and Sydney. I would certainly encourage anybody who's in that area to drop in, to look at that program. That is an area that is not included in these ones that we're talking about, but it is a very critical program for the province. We provide grants to that program and they leave with their money to get more money. That is another program that people have said to us we need to continue and move forward with.

The new design will reflect the operational needs of the region, the input of service providers and the priorities of the department. Discussions with the sector will start next week and we will be ready to reel out the redesign in the fall. In addition to this work of Community Services, the domestic violence legislation that was introduced last fall will work towards helping victims so they can immediately apply for emergency protection orders so their safety and economic well-being can be protected. The Department of Justice has set aside $300,000 to create a justice learning centre in Truro. It will provide training for justice personnel and will begin with their focus on family violence. In addition, funding has been set aside to establish victim assistant co-ordinator positions in the Department of Community Services. They will work with police agencies and develop risk assessment strategies. Justice will also develop and administer protocol for assessments in high areas.

We have put this design and the redesign of Department of Community Services to make programs more effective for those in need and to ensure they have continued access to service. If they are available from other service providers, we have to ensure that we are not duplicating and that we are using the dollars to the best advantage. As part of this design, it's important to be able to put the services and programs in a sustainable financial foundation. That means that we have to work within scarce dollars and we have to make sure we are using those effectively. It is an operation requirement that we as a department are clear to do.

I will finish my remarks by repeating a couple of messages that I've said. First, no decisions have been made as to where we're going. That will be done in consultation with the groups as we go meet them. Second, consultation with the sector will begin next week and its input and delivery model will be needed to develop. And, finally, this government has not changed its commitment to the safety of all of its citizens in this province. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Glace Bay.

MR. DAVID WILSON: The minister, in his comments, just indicated that no decisions have been made. There have been decisions made already and the decision has been made to cut almost $1 million from the budget. That's been a decision made by that minster and it's a decision that's going to result in five transitional shelters or homes being left in this province from what now is nine. That minister and that government are going to close four transition shelters or homes in this province. That's contained in the draft of the model for family violence system redesign - a draft which I would be very pleased to table when I am

[Page 8155]

through with it so that every member in this House can take a look and every member on the government side can flip through this draft and see what the minister, without consultation from the groups affected, is proposing to do. The members on the government side can go home and tell women and children in their constituencies and their riding that perhaps the transitional shelter or home in their riding is going to be one of the four that is going to be closed by this government.

[5:30 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, what's being done here, and my colleague from the NDP chose to use the word stupid, the word that I have chosen and I still prefer is reprehensible. This is a reprehensible act, as I said the other day, by a government that is cold-hearted and simply does not care any longer about the most vulnerable people in our society. In this case, it is women and children who are going to be put at risk in this province. The minister uses some favorite buzz words such as restructuring and redesign. Those words have different meanings to those who provide and require services from that minister's department. The words that they have created now are fear and chaos. That is what they will mean to women and children in this province and families who are in crisis in this province without the services that these centres offer.

Mr. Speaker, there is also at risk here other issues. Women's centres are one. They are going to be cut along with transition houses and men's treatment programs. The women's centres refer women to transition houses and so on, but they also happen to deal with whatever may come their way, whether it is homelessness issues or poverty or education and sexuality issues. The list goes on that women's centres deal with on a daily basis. What is happening now, as my honourable colleague from the NDP indicated, is that there is going to be less money to provide those programs, men's programs, women's centre programs and all of that is to be done with less money. But, still, the minister tries to paint a very rosy picture that everything will be okay.

Trust me, everything will be just fine. Don't worry. The women and children that are at risk in this province, don't worry. You will be fine with four less transition houses or shelters in this province. You will be fine when women's centres will close across this province, and they will. You will be fine when the treatment programs are no longer offered to men. Everything will be just dandy because we've cut $1 million from the budget and, by the way, that's one that the minister tried to put over on us by saying that the groups had been consulted. That is exactly what people were calling for, that they had asked that the budget be cut by $1 million.

Indeed, Mr. Speaker, we have gone on to show that this was not the case. Indeed, representatives from women's centres and transition houses across the province deny that there has been any consultation about these cuts whatsoever. They showed up here at Province House the other day, the individuals who showed up. They strongly indicated that this was not

[Page 8156]

a matter that they had been consulted on prior to the decision being made. I will give you just one example of that. There was the Director of the Antigonish Women's Resource Centre who said that funding cuts will close the door to battered women, clearly indicating that she, as is the case with the others, was not consulted by this government.

Mr. Speaker, this is a fact, in this province last year, the number of women and children admitted to shelters for abused women doubled compared to 1999. So, as I said, this decision is going to put the most vulnerable women and children in this province at risk, the essential services that provide safety for women and children across this province. The Minister of Community Services made the decision without consulting any of the affected groups. In the Tory blue book, a document that the minister and others over there will wave in our faces from time to time, in that blue book they promised they would be open and accountable to the people of Nova Scotia. That is one of the main premises of the Tory platform in the election campaign.

AN HON. MEMBER: That was the election platform.

MR. WILSON: It was the election platform. It was everything. They promised to provide the public with effective opportunities for input. Just now the minister indicated in his address, he used the word input, "input of service providers" is the exact quote that he made.

Mr. Speaker, this is further proof, and we've had the proof time after time after time, but this is further proof of another broken promise to the people of Nova Scotia. This is another broken promise that that government said, and promised in its blue book, it would consult Nova Scotians, it would get that input. And here we are, with a matter as important, vitally important as the safety of women and children in this province. What could be more important? But this government and that minister did not bother to even ask the people involved for their input into a decision as important as closing - and they will close - transitional shelters across this province.

Mr. Speaker, I dare say that a Premier who campaigned on that promise and wanted to be open and accountable certainly wouldn't be too pleased, today, with a minister that has now broken that promise. People in this province will certainly remember what has gone on over the past few days, and what is about to take place. There has been a total lack of consultation with the groups, and these are the groups that have the expertise. These are the groups that are dealing with these situations on a daily basis. These are the people who have poured their heart and soul into protecting the less fortunate, the most vulnerable in our society. The minister should have met with those people. They are the people, as I said, who deal with these situations on a daily basis, and they would have had some very valuable information for the minister.

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Mr. Speaker, I can guarantee you that those groups - because I've talked with a lot of them over the past few days and not one, not one representative of any of those groups across the province has said to me that they came to the minister looking for this cut. The exact opposite, they came to the minister asking for help because they needed more not less. There were representatives from across the province who have told me that this government in this instance is not listening, they have not paid attention.

Mr. Speaker, we deal with some pretty important issues in this Legislature on a daily basis, and we deal with issues that affect people's lives on a daily basis. We're dealing with one right now. We're dealing with an issue that affects the lives of women and children in Nova Scotia. We're asking the minister to do something very simple, it will not cost anything, it would not have cost a cent to sit down and consult and ask for input from the people who are affected by this program.

Mr. Speaker, as I said earlier, I'm afraid what this has created is a lot of unnecessary fear and chaos in a system that at the best of times could be chaotic, at the best of times, and there are dedicated people who are working within that system, who are doing their best on limited funding, on whatever was available, to try to provide the services that are necessary. These are services that most of us certainly would hope that we would never have to use, but they are services, unfortunately, in our society, which must be available on a 24-hour basis they have to be available. You now have the potential of women and children in crisis, families in crisis, showing up in certain regions of this province and the service will not be there. Where will they go? What will they do?

Mr. Speaker, one does not like to get personal here and I had no intention of going there, but I have to, a part of me is asking what kind of government and what kind of minister would resort to this sort of action that would make such a drastic cut of almost $1 million to services that we know are necessary and needed by the people of this province? It's not too late for the minister to reinstate that funding immediately.

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

The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

MR. JERRY PYE: Mr. Speaker, I take my time to speak on what I consider a very important subject, a subject that should never cross the Legislature floor. Today, when my colleague, the member for Timberlea-Prospect, was making comments with respect to the money that was put aside to renovate the Lieutenant Governor's house, even the Speaker of the House admonished the member for making such particular comments with respect to those expenditures.

[Page 8158]

Yet, Mr. Speaker, I recall during the mourning ceremonies for the Queen Mother that just happened here a couple of days ago, I listened to some comments with respect to how the Queen Mother was quite concerned during the Second World War and when there was bombing in the east part of London that she had felt somewhat displaced until, in fact, a bombing had taken place at Buckingham Palace and I think she used to quote "now I understand how the people of East London must feel".

I am sure the Lieutenant Governor of Nova Scotia, Myra Freeman, would feel exactly the same way. That Lieutenant Governor has contributed a tremendous amount here to this province. She has gone and visited women's organizations. She has, in fact, gone to children's day care centres. She has, in fact, done the official openings and, Mr. Speaker, in her life before she became the Lieutenant Governor of Nova Scotia, she was a schoolteacher and she was actively involved in the community on a number of issues and many issues with respect to social issues.

Mr. Speaker, that Lieutenant Governor would have asked this government to cancel the money, the $320,000 that was allocated to Government House, if she had known that this government was going to be so bloody callous as to cut transition homes out of the Department of Community Services' budget. I am sure that the members of the Halifax Board of Trade would not have indeed . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Is the honourable member for Cape Breton West on a point of order?

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Yes, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Cape Breton West on a point of order.

MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, again the socialists seem to fail to understand the role of the Lieutenant Governor, and this is very serious for a member of the Legislature to ask the Lieutenant Governor to involve herself in partisan politics and debates before the House of Assembly on a budgetary matter. It is absolutely an affront to the entire process of British parliamentary rule and the issue of responsible government. I'm absolutely flabbergasted that the members of the socialist Party have not even studied this very issue and to draw the Lieutenant Governor into a budgetary matter, when this is the responsibility of the respective ministers and their departments, is absolutely outrageous. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

I understand fully where the honourable member for Cape Breton West is coming from, but according to the terms relative to a point of order, that is, once again, not a point of order and in this House during debate on the title of any bill the Speakers have permitted

[Page 8159]

considerable amounts of latitude and leeway. It is not a point of order and I would, once again, recognize the honourable member for Dartmouth North. (Interruptions)

[5:45 p.m.]

Order, please. Point of personal privilege does take precedence. The honourable member for Cape Breton West.

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, it is not a point of order, I would certainly submit and ask for your ruling that the rights and the privileges of this member have been violated by such a diversion as portrayed by the honourable member. (Interruptions) The honourable member for Halifax Needham says sit down and do not express our democratic rights in this House. When do those socialists not get the idea that this is a democratic state and is not some kind of a pinko, socialist, commie state? (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I would once again rule that the honourable member for Cape Breton West does raise a very good point, although it is not a point of personal privilege and it is not a point of order. I find it most discomforting, so to speak, when honourable members pit one particular issue, especially the Monarch, so to speak, against another issue that's in the budget. I understand where the member is coming from. I will permit latitude and leeway, but it does make it difficult for a lot of members in the House to tolerate this type of debate.

MR. PYE: Mr. Speaker, I would say to you that, obviously, I am getting a directive from you, as well, and I am not prepared to make comment with respect to this particular issue, other than to say that I said that the Lieutenant Governor may have - and Hansard will be open tomorrow and you will be able to read Hansard. I have tremendous respect for this particular office and what I am saying to you is that this is just simply an analogy on the direction in which government is going here. That is simply what it is. It's an analogy on what government considers its priority and its agenda. It has no respect or disgrace to the Monarch or to the particular facilities that house the Monarch.

Mr. Speaker, what I want to say is that I want to get back to the transition homes. I just wanted to make an analogy as to what we could and what we should have done with respect to that money. We know that transition homes are going to take the cut and we know that they are going to take a big hit, but we have known all along, since this Progressive Conservative Government got elected, that the Department of Community Services would be the department which was going to be gutted by this particular government, because this government is completely insensitive to the needs of people who are disadvantaged, people who are disabled, people who find themselves in violent situations. This government has consistently, during it's three year term in office, decided that it would balance its budget on the Department of Community Services.

[Page 8160]

Mr. Speaker, transition homes across this province offer a tremendous service. The transition homes are spread out across this province and encompass extremely large areas. I just want to mention one in particular. When we look at it, in fact, and I'm sure the member for Lunenburg will recognize it - Chrysalis House - Chrysalis House serves Annapolis, Kings and Hants West Counties. That is a tremendous distance.

When in fact that transition home has to address an issue of violence, think of the amount of time that has to be taken in order for that individual to get there. To think, as the member for Halifax Needham has said, that the transition home is the first point of entry, the very first point of entry in a violent situation. They are the ones who address this very important issue with women and children who have been witness to a particular violent crime on that particular evening or that particular time in that particular community. It needs immediate attention. It needs to be addressed.

Mr. Speaker, that is something that cannot be addressed by outreach. If this minister thinks that simply by reducing the number of transition homes across the province and that the issue can be addressed by outreach, this minister is so wrong because outreach costs money. Outreach does not provide a facility for someone who actually found themselves in a violent situation that needs an emergency service now. That's what those transition homes provide. Those transition homes deal with that person at entry and then have to address the issues as they go through the women's centre, second-stage housing and so on and so forth. All that is, in fact, a part of what these transition homes provide.

The minister is very much aware, as well, that these transition homes raise a tremendous amount of dollars. As a matter of fact it's a 500 to 1 ratio some of these transition homes raise in dollars that support programs that are subsidiary to the programs that are offered by transition homes. The members of that particular government have to recognize there are important issues that need to be addressed in this province, and one of those very important issues is with respect to transition homes, women's centres, safe houses, second-stage housing, we can go on and on and on, Mr. Speaker.

There are members across this province, and I'm sure, once again, the Board of Trade would have never provided the Minister of Finance with his millilitre or 0.03 millilitre of black ink had they known that this budget was going to be balanced on the back of the most vulnerable individuals, that this budget was going to be balanced on the people who rely upon transition homes.

Mr. Speaker, there are people in this province, you yourself, who served in another career as a police officer, you know the importance of having a transition home in rural communities. You know the importance of being able to access that transition home immediately. You know that family violence is a very important issue. It has its cycles within our society as well. One year family violence may very well be down, another year family violence may very well be up. There are stresses that place people within an economy that

[Page 8161]

cause family violence as well. We know the more economically depressed an area is, the poorer an area is, the most likely it is to need a transition home.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member's time has expired. Thank you. The honourable member for Dartmouth South.

MR. TIMOTHY OLIVE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I would like to bring this discussion a little closer back to reality than some of the speakers previous. I'd like to start by saying that for the last 20-plus years there have been a number of programs in Nova Scotia geared towards family violence, transition homes, outreach programs, women's centres, men's treatment programs and many other programs. The unfortunate part about them is there's been no cohesive delivery of those programs; they've been all over the board. It was in the days when money flowed like water and the actual delivery of the service wasn't the issue necessarily as it connected with other services, it was just, create the program and let it run and hope it works.

This government recognized that, and as a result of that have developed a redesign of the family violence and outreach programs in Nova Scotia. Our commitment to safety for women and children hasn't changed. It hasn't changed in the least. We will maintain our focus on the safety of women and children and include enhancing the focus on outreach programs. (Interruptions) The honourable member is over there bellowing and I guess what he fails to recognize is that the domestic violence legislation being prepared and presented in this House will do a number of things to enhance the outreach programs in all the areas which are under discussion today.

Under this domestic violence legislation, it will ensure that the victims can immediately apply for emergency protection orders so their safety and economic well-being can be protected.

Mr. Speaker, the Department of Justice has set aside $300,000 to create a justice learning centre in Truro. In addition, funding has been set aside to establish victim assistance coordinator positions. That's the response to the outreach programs that we are developing. They will work with police agencies, and develop risk assessment strategies for those in need. Our goal is to make changes that ensure that no person in need will go without.

AN HON. MEMBER: Well, they're doing it now.

MR. OLIVE: We have seen an overall decrease in the number of women and children seeking the services of a transition house, and an increase in the requests for additional outreach services. This is a good thing, this is not a bad thing. If in fact we have lower occupancy rates in transition houses, it proves that the parallel programs being developed by Community Services with the support of Justice, are in fact providing the needed resources

[Page 8162]

for those families in need and for those children in need. The Opposition doesn't talk about that, because, I guess, that's not what they think is important.

I was interested to hear the member for Halifax Needham when she was making a point earlier today in Question Period. She didn't talk about the delivery of the service in one of her questions and her two supplementaries, she talked about the employment levels at these institutions. Since when does the number of people who are working have a direct bearing on the quality and the ability of the government to deliver the service? It's the quality of the service, not the number of people we have employed and pulling down a government paycheque; you have to understand that - good, quality people.

I think it's important that the public knows that. The honourable member for Halifax Needham stands up and talks about, we need to employ people. No, we need to provide an across-the-province level of service that connects all the dots, that connects the outreach programs, that connects the transition houses, that connects the women's centres and men's treatment programs. We have to do that. A responsible government living within its budget prepares services and the delivery of services that connects those dots. It doesn't just create employment for people because they don't have anywhere else to go.

Mr. Speaker, it's important that people understand that. No decisions have been made yet on the Masonview Homes. Consultation will continue with the private sector, with those in need, with those providing the services. Finally, this government hasn't changed its commitment to children and women . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Debate on Resolution No. 2949 has expired. This brings to an end Opposition Members' Business.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I move the House do now rise to meet again on the morrow at the hour of 12:00 noon. The House will sit until 6:00 p.m. The order of business, following Question Period, will be estimates, and we will pursue our way through four hours of estimates, and then the House will rise.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is that the House do now rise until tomorrow at 12:00 noon.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

[Page 8163]

The motion is carried.

We have now reached the moment of interruption. The subject for this evening's late debate will be led by the honourable member for Pictou West:

[Therefore be it resolved that members acknowledge Pictou County's position as a focal point of Nova Scotia's industrial base and its future potential.]

ADJOURNMENT

MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou West.

ECON. DEV. - IND. BASE: PICTOU CO. - POSITION ACKNOWLEDGE

MRS. MURIEL BAILLIE: Mr. Speaker, I rise this evening to speak about the people of Pictou West, a people in whom I have great faith. The people in Pictou West, in fact the whole county, are tremendously talented. Throughout its history, Pictou County has demonstrated a strong work ethic, its people have shown determination and a real spirit of enterprise. I'm proud of this history and these people. I'm hopeful that the future holds good things in store for them.

Pictou County has a diverse economy, an economy that includes farming, the fisheries and seafood processors, like Cape John Seafoods, processors of crab and lobster, which has recently expanded. Pictou County is booming with tourism attractions, the launch of the Hector was, of course, one of the greatest successes. In fact, our summers are filled with festivals and attractions, including the numerous craft businesses. Visitors can relive the experiences of the Scottish settlers who landed on our shores of Pictou County in 1773, and have left their mark on the generations who have followed. Tourists love what they find when they visit our county - so tourism is a vibrant part of our local economy.

Resource industries are very important in Pictou County, of course. Still, overall, manufacturing accounts for the largest percentage of our labour force and heavy industry remains the metal which forms the backbone of Pictou County.

[6:00 p.m.]

Pictou County has an important blend - an excellent workforce that enjoys challenge and change and an infrastructure which overall is very strong. Perhaps this accounts for part of the ongoing strength in manufacturing. Consider the companies doing business in Pictou County: Kimberly-Clark, Michelin Tire's Granton Plant, Scotsburn Dairy, Grohmann Knives,

[Page 8164]

Scott Paper, Deniso Lebel's Sawmill in Scotsburn, and The Pictou Advocate, one of the largest employers. Not only is our present very bright, but our future looks bright also.

I read in this House a resolution highlighting the achievements of some students from my area who placed in the top four at a recent science fair. These students, one from Pictou West High School and one from Pictou Academy, are top notch. Their interest in science and technology is encouraging because our province needs these young people to be ready to take on the new higth-tech challenges facing this province and these students from Pictou County come by their interests and ingenuity honestly. As I like to say, they come from good stock.

Mr. Speaker, I mention these students' successes also because the fair was held in the Museum of Industry. Our museum in itself demonstrates to you all here tonight what I am saying about the history of industry in the Pictou area. This museum is a credit to the history of industry and a tangible link to the area's past. Still generations separate the past and these students. It is for these people, as well as the students, that I am optimistic about the future of Pictou County, not the distant future, but the here and now.

Mr. Speaker, we have shown how we can adapt. Pictou Shipyards has undergone change and it has been very successful. Imagine building components for the U.S. power industry, scrubbers for coal generated power plants which are in high demand. With Irving's recent purchase of the same business, there will, as a result, likely be more fabrication work, work related to the offshore - either contract or sub-contract work. In addition, there will be spin-off work for suppliers to the shipyard, of course, once this contract is complete. For industry to succeed, you have to have a capable and well-trained workforce. You also have to have a transportation network which allows you to bring in raw materials and ship out your end products.

Finally, you must have a lifestyle that allows you to attract and retain people you need to run such a business. These features are fundamental in any developing industry. These are features Gerry Bryne, in a comment posted on the local Web site, says have kept Kimberly-Clark in Pictou County for 27 years, Mr. Speaker. These are the very features which will encourage new industry and bring people to our area. This is just the beginning. Again, this is a highly sophisticated industry. I encourage young people to have a look. The people of Pictou County can provide the needed workforce and reap the benefits of the sector's rewarding, challenging jobs. In fact, many Rowan Company workers live in Pictou County and work on rigs offshore and around the world right now. If we act now, Pictou County will be prepared to fill some of the remaining gaps that exist in the province's skilled workforce.

Our Nova Scotia Community College is an excellent place to turn to for that training. They are brimming with know-how, Mr. Speaker. Here in Pictou County, the campus is the provincial centre for trades. The Pictou campus has worked closely with heavy industry for years, devising customized training as it pertains to specific work. The campus can be counted

[Page 8165]

on to continue its valuable relationship with industry. It is an important asset to the development of the potential of Pictou County.

Our young people can and will be ready as the job markets open up. It gives extra confidence to those companies who see Pictou County as a potential site for locating. The Government of Nova Scotia continues to demonstrate its commitment to improved skill training. Our government just increased financial support to the Nova Scotia Community College. This is an important investment and people in Pictou West are encouraged by it.

Pictou County can be encouraged by the possibilities presented by the new gas distribution regulations. Laying pipe for natural gas is a daunting prospect in many parts of Nova Scotia, not just across regions, but within small areas. We know this if we think about it. Just consider the different terrains along this small province. In Pictou County, our soft ground is a natural advantage. So while natural gas is benefiting Nova Scotians now, it is only a start, and the benefits will not be confined to any region, Mr. Speaker. In fact, opportunities will present themselves in many areas besides Pictou County.

The rules have changed to encourage local gas distribution in Nova Scotia. They are based on a market-driven system that depends on economic forces to build it. Local gas distributions will occur in areas where it makes economic sense. Realistically, it is not going to happen everywhere, but Pictou County is an attractive area for local gas distribution. Pictou County has a strong market - an industrial base, a commercial centre and several towns in close proximity - which fits with a system that is economically driven.

Pictou County also has the advantage of being close to the main natural gas pipeline, and the absence of bedrock means that the installation of a distribution system would be fairly straightforward, easier and less expensive. There are some key factors that would be considered by a gas distributor when selecting a franchise area. Ultimately, it is the decision of the distributors; however, there is a strong business case for local gas distribution in Pictou County. These regulations achieve a good balance, one that will be felt in Pictou West.

The important thing is that it start, and these regulations will result in actions. Even communities themselves can come forward for a franchise. Of course, my primary concern is for the people of Pictou County.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Thank you, honourable member, your time has expired.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Centre.

MR. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, there are certain things in the member's dissertation that I agree with. I agree with the resiliency of the people of Pictou County. I agree with the fact that they are up for the challenge and, indeed, agree wholeheartedly with

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the fact that Pictou County is one of the best places, next to Cape Breton, to live, in this province - almost as nice as Cumberland County.

But, Mr. Speaker, there are all kinds of holes in this premise put forward by the member. I will probably start at the further end of her discussion and talk about gas distribution. If we take the idea of it being purely an economic-driven factor, how you get natural gas to your doorstep, wouldn't that have been disastrous had we taken that same attitude towards electrical distribution? What we would have seen would have been parts of the province - I am talking about northern Cape Breton, areas far off the road such as Canso, around the far reaches of the Eastern Shore, and Guysborough, and purely rural areas - that wouldn't enjoy having the electricity come to their doorstep.

So what we are having now, Mr. Speaker, around gas distribution, is if you have an economic reason for it to show up, it will show up. But if you do not, if you happen to enjoy a standard of living in an area where the population isn't there and a private gas distributor can't make money, you will not have that. We've had problems with that. Even with the old model projecting out when we would see natural gas services under the old model in Cape Breton, we were told at that point it was seven to eight years away. As you explore that thought even further, you find out that the distribution system, the main trunk carrier really did not have the capacity to serve Cape Breton.

That model, while it may bear fruit in areas of heavily, dense population does not, I would submit, carry the same weight - in areas - I think areas of Pictou County will be under-served by gas distribution because they do not have that large economic, large density of population so there'll be a form of - if you will - economic push down on that that won't allow certain areas of Pictou County.

I want to get off of that because I know my time is limited and we have other speakers, but I want to talk about Pictou County's role in heavy industry because in a lot of ways Pictou County and Cape Breton County mirror each other. They have been counties that have been involved with the mining of coal for over a century in this province. The importance to that economy - coal, while I wouldn't say it played the same level in the economy that it did in industrial Cape Breton, it certainly had a major role to play. As in most places, when you have a base industry such as that, what governments, governments of today in particular are bad for it, is what I refer to as, what have you done for me lately attitude.

We're coming close to the 10th Anniversary of one of the worst mining disasters that visited this province in the Westray disaster and I have a hard time looking you in the eye because I know your background, Mr. Speaker, and the part of the province you're from and you're no stranger and your family is no stranger to mining disasters. I feel bad that governments play no small role in those disasters. I felt bad last week when trying to ascertain from your government, from the member's government, would it allow Clifford Frame back in this province to do business and quite honestly, I wasn't happy with the answer. Clearly,

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they were not willing to say to the people of Pictou County, we're not going to allow that man back into this province to do business, to open up old wounds. I'm not saying he's going to - I can't say with any certainty what he's going to do, but I know one thing, what it will mean to the psyche of those people who have to go now and revisit. So, I don't have that level of confidence.

Again, I agree with the member in her platitudes around community colleges, but I have to be on the other side of the debate and say where is this government's initiative around apprenticeship training? It's not there. If we want to talk to people in the trades, they will tell you there's looming a large shortage of skilled workers through the apprenticeship training programs. We're talking about welders, carpenters, electricians and yet this government, I don't believe, is answering that question. I think the government is sending out a broad message and being very, very laissez-faire about what we want our community colleges to do. We have industry. You talk about the Construction Association of Nova Scotia, they will tell you there's a shortage of these skilled tradespeople. You talk to the workers and unions that represent these workers, they will tell you there's a shortage there. These are problems that worry me, and I don't think this government is being very proactive in that area.

[6:15 p.m.]

Another aspect I want to bring up, which was part of a topic of late debate for last night, was around the Arts Council, because, again, it's one of the things the member brought up, such a vibrant area, in which she talked about the Hector. To a lot of people it can be considered as the birthplace of New Scotland in this province. Yet, what we see here is a government that wants to run the arts industry in this province and it wants its hands in there. It got rid of an arm's-length association. That causes me problems. When you see the impact on such fine tourism festivals, the Festival of Tartans, if people can't participate willingly, or if it's pick and choose by the minister as opposed to an independent body, arm's length.

Mr. Speaker, I could get up and I could talk about what I think is the failure of this government's economy policy across this province, indeed in my own area, but I'm not because I respect the member. I want to say in closing that I think she was right in the nub of her argument, that those things are successful, not because of what this government has done but it's successful because of the fibre and the go-forward and the toughness of the people of Pictou County. I don't think this government can hold out its chest and beat and say, well, we've done such a great job. I think it's about time governments looked out beyond themselves and said to the people of Pictou County, despite our interferences, you have persevered and endured and made this a great province. I think they should be ever grateful to the citizens of Pictou County, and not have the citizens of Pictou County be grateful to this government.

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

MR. BRIAN BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, it's certainly an honour for me to rise in my place this evening to join in on the debate here at late debate. Two items, if I may, to first get out of the way. I want to express the respect that I have for the member for Pictou West who has presented this resolution here this evening. She works very hard and represents her people very well, and I want to recognize that before I start.

The other thing, as well, I would like to recognize that the former Liberal Government provided strong support for the former steelworkers who lived in Pictou and, of course, the payroll rebate program was created by the former minister and, as a result, major call centre jobs and opportunities for rural residents of Pictou County were created. I may add also that support was provided to Pictou Shipyards, although I believe that failed since this government came to power, because they failed to recognize the issues and ignored the issues in that particular industry in that area. As I indicated at the beginning, I do find this evening's topic quite interesting.

"Therefore be it resolved that members acknowledge Pictou County's position as a focal point of Nova Scotia's industrial base and its future potential."

I believe I have just done that. I find it very interesting because it's being brought forward by a backbench rural MLA, who is a member of the government that has completely ignored rural Nova Scotia to date. I guess the question is, how can any rural community, any rural community - and I represent a rural community as the good member for Pictou West does, believe me I can recognize the difficulties in rural communities today in Nova Scotia - be recognized as a focal point for Nova Scotia's industrial base when we take into consideration the actions of this particular government, Mr. Speaker?

Any rural community or county must first have the essential infrastructure before it can be acknowledged as a focal point of Nova Scotia's industrial base. Pictou County has lost many services since this government came to power. It lost hospital services, for instance. Sutherland-Harris Memorial Hospital has had services ripped out that will never return and that concerns us on this side of the House. It concerns us a great deal because, for some reason or other, those rural, backbench representatives, MLAs on that particular side of the House, fail to recognize what the Opposition members have been saying now for approximately two and a half years. Two and a half years and still they either totally fail to recognize or they don't have the ability to recognize that the Opposition Parties are correct in this regard.

Now how can Pictou County have any future potential if industry looks at a place and says that health care has been gutted? Look at education, Mr. Speaker, and the fact that there will be a lack of teachers, especially in rural Nova Scotia, which will be affected more than the urban areas in Nova Scotia. Rural Nova Scotia, rural communities, over the next few years will be a major impact because this government fails to recognize the need for a strong

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education system in this province. One of the main tools is to have well-trained teachers to provide education to our children. This government isn't doing anything, nothing at all, about this. Absolutely nothing. There is no plan; no direction; nothing.

Why would any major company that is willing to provide investment in any county, in any rural area of Nova Scotia and, in particular, in Pictou West, say, yes, that is where I want my business to be located, I want my business to go to Pictou West, only to find the resources to educate their children simply are not there? Mr. Speaker, in the two and a half years since I have been elected as a provincial representative for my community, one of the major things that I have learned is that the education system and health care are side by side. They are major issues in this province, for our communities, to ensure the future prosperity of this province.

For instance, Mr. Speaker, through my colleague for Dartmouth East, the former minister, when we try to attract doctors, particularly to rural Nova Scotia, the very first question that is asked by that particular doctor is: What type of education system do you have in place to educate my children? That is the first question. Since I came here two and a half years ago, all I've seen in direction from this government is to gut education, to gut the very industry - perhaps education could be classified as an industry - but it is vital, the education system is vital for the future growth of our province and I notice, very kindly and rightfully so, that the honourable member for Pictou West acknowledged contributions that many of her students put forth in their various facilities. That is very important and it is great to see.

I know that the member is a former teacher and a very capable one so I'm told and, in fact, I believe she was a principal of a school. So she's very well qualified when it comes to education, but why, Mr. Speaker, this member fails to pressure the minister to ensure that the education system in rural Nova Scotia is strong so that our communities can prosper and move forward into the future, side by side with the other Provinces of Canada. This member and the other backbench MLAs over there on that side of the House must recognize the importance of these issues and begin to pressure their ministers to ensure that Nova Scotia does move forward and that we should and we do have the ability to create these opportunities for our younger people.

Mr. Speaker, as I indicated, when an individual looks at placing a business in particularly a rural area, there are many things that they look at; education is just one. The potential employers look at more things than just physical space in a building. That's not what potential employers look for when they go into a community scouting out the possibility of locating there. They don't just look for buildings that are suitable to handle their needs. They look at the infrastructure that's available that the community provides.

Mr. Speaker, they look at the overall health of the community, whatever that particular community is, whether it be Pictou West or in Cape Breton, where education and health care is under attack and I call it a destruction mode, you know, because I share the many concerns

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that the honourable member across the floor has. As I indicated, I represent a rural community and I can recognize. I represent people who many days don't have money in their pocket to purchase a bus ticket as I indicated many times in this House and I think it is important that we identify with these type of people.

Mr. Speaker, in closing, again I want to thank the member for bringing the resolution. I hope I don't sound like I'm beating up on her because that is not my intention here. I know the member is a good member of this House. If there's a message here, I would like to leave with this honourable member and her colleagues on the other side of the House it is, please talk to the ministers and correct these issues that are being ignored.

MR. SPEAKER: I would like to thank all the members for taking part in the discussion and debate this evening.

The House is adjourned until 12:00 noon tomorrow.

[The House rose at 6:28 p.m.]

[Page 8171]

NOTICE OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3)

RESOLUTION NO. 3030

By: Hon. John Hamm (Premier)

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

Whereas Summer Street Industries in Pictou County offers day programs, vocational training and employment services for 150 mentally-challenged adults; and

Whereas the beneficial work provided by Summer Street Industries would simply not be possible without such fundraising events as the 10th annual pub fundraiser which was sold out again this year; and

Whereas the band Deja-Vu has been an enormous help over the past 10 years to Summer Street Industries and this year the band was specifically recognized by Bob Ballantyne, Past-President of Summer Street Industries, for its tireless work;

Therefore be it resolved that the House of Assembly commend Summer Street Industries, Deja-Vu and the many people who continually support this worthwhile organization which greatly enhances the quality of life for some 150 mentally-challenged adults in Pictou County.