Assemblée Législative de la Nouvelle-Écosse

Les travaux de la Chambre ont repris le
21 septembre 2017

HANSARD 01/02-82

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

THURSDAY, APRIL 11, 2002

TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE
Wayne Gaudet: Interim Leader of the Liberal Party - Tribute,
Mr. Manning MacDonald 8174
Hon. R. Russell 8175
Mr. D. Dexter 8176
Mr. Robert Chisholm 8176
Mr. W. Gaudet 8177
The Speaker 8177
SPEAKER'S RULING: Provision of documents by witnesses at
Public Accounts Committee 8178
GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 3031, Parkinson's Awareness Month (04/02)/ World
Parkinson's Day (04/11/02) - Proclaim, Hon. J. Muir 8179
Vote - Affirmative 8180
NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 3032, Commun. Serv.: Funding - Restore, Mr. D. Dexter 8180
Res. 3033, Can. Cancer Month (04/02) - Recognize, Dr. J. Smith 8181
Vote - Affirmative 8181
Res. 3034, Shams, Dr. Nagi: N.S. - Welcome, Mr. C. O'Donnell 8181
Vote - Affirmative 8182
Res. 3035, Women, Status of: Abused Women - Responsibility,
Ms. Maureen MacDonald 8182
Res. 3036, Liberal Budget: NDP - Response, Mr. P. MacEwan 8183
Res. 3037, Educ. - Schools: Maintenance - Cuts, Mr. K. Deveaux 8184
Res. 3038, Sports: Strait Pirates - Jr. B Hockey Champs, Mr. M. Samson 8184
Vote - Affirmative 8185
Res. 3039, Adopt-A-Highway Prog.: Kiwanis Club (Dart.) -
Commitment, Mr. T. Olive 8185
Vote - Affirmative 8186
Res. 3040, Sports - 2004 World Women's Hockey Championship:
Hfx. Organizers - Congrats., Mr. B. Boudreau 8186
Vote - Affirmative 8186
Res. 3041, Deruelle, Mitchell - Hockey: Accomplishments - Congrats.,
Mr. F. Corbett 8187
Vote - Affirmative 8187
Res. 3042, Field, Derek: Truro Sport Heritage Award - Congrats.,
Hon. J. Muir 8187
Vote - Affirmative 8188
Res. 3043, Glace Bay Food Bank: Funding - Congrats., Mr. D. Wilson 8188
Vote - Affirmative 8189
Res. 3044, Ryan H.G. (Nick): Meritorious Service Award - Congrats.,
Mr. W. Estabrooks 8189
Vote - Affirmative 8189
Res. 3045, Doyle, Lillian: Political Sagacity - Commend,
Mr. P. MacEwan 8190
Res. 3046, Central Highlands Assoc. of the Disabled/Pictou West
Commun. Health Bd.: Bus - Provision, Mrs. M. Baillie 8190
Vote - Affirmative 8191
Res. 3047, J.L. Ilsley HS Model Parliament: Students - Congrats.,
Mr. Robert Chisholm 8191
Vote - Affirmative 8192
Res. 3048, Mason, Dutch: Can. Jazz and Blues Hall of Fame -
Induction, Mr. D. Wilson 8192
Vote - Affirmative 8193
Res. 3049, MacDonald, Grant: Prov. Rep. Volunteer Award - Congrats.,
Mr. D. Hendsbee 8193
Vote - Affirmative 8193
Res. 3050, Morash, Lauri, School of Dance: Accomplishments -
Congrats., Mr. J. MacDonell 8194
Vote - Affirmative 8194
Res. 3051, Kingstec: Peace Garden - Creation Congrats., Mr. M. Parent 8194
Vote - Affirmative 8195
Res. 3052, RCL (Caen Br.) - Eastern Pass.-Cow Bay:
Vol. Of the Yr. Award - Congrats., Mr. K. Deveaux 8195
Vote - Affirmative 8196
Res. 3053, Islands Dev. Assoc.: Volunteers - Congrats., Hon. G. Balser 8196
Vote - Affirmative 8197
Res. 3054, Musquodoboit Valley Co-op: Work - Congrats.,
Mr. J. MacDonell 8197
Vote - Affirmative 8197
Res. 3055, Doucette, André - Interchange on Can. Studies: Attendance -
Congrats., Hon. N. LeBlanc 8198
Vote - Affirmative 8199
Res. 3056, Margeson, Nancy/Health Serv. Fdn. (South Shore) -
Congrats., Hon. M. Baker 8199
Vote - Affirmative 8200
MOTION FOR ADJOURNMENT RULE 43:
Commun. Serv. - Family Violence System: Redesigned Plan -
Discuss, Ms. Maureen MacDonald 8200
ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS:
No. 863, Commun. Serv.: Russell Report - Context, Mr. D. Dexter 8203
No. 864, Justice: Russell Report - Genesis, Mr. W. Gaudet 8204
No. 865, Commun. Serv. - Transition Houses: Closure - Min. Answer,
Ms. Maureen MacDonald 8205
No. 866, Commun. Serv.: Services - Summer Availability, Mr. D. Wilson 8206
No. 867, Commun. Serv. - Housing: Sale - Assets Value,
Ms. Maureen MacDonald 8208
No. 868, Fin. - NSRL Sale: Surplus - Details, Mr. D. Downe 8209
No. 869, Fin. - Gaming Corp.: VLTs - Relocation, Mr. W. Estabrooks 8210
No. 870, Health - Tobacco Control Strategy: Fin. Min. - Approach,
Dr. J. Smith 8212
No. 871, Educ. - Schools: Preventative Maintenance - Policy,
Mr. K. Deveaux 8213
No. 872, Serv. N.S. & Mun. Rel. - Equalization Formula: Prop. Taxes -
Effects, Mr. B. Boudreau 8214
No. 873, Gov't. (N.S.) - Port Authority: Untendered Contracts -
Practice End, Mr. H. Epstein 8215
No. 874, Tourism & Culture - Museums: Fin. Info. - Availability,
Mr. R. MacKinnon 8217
No. 875, Tourism & Culture - Arts Council: New - Motivation,
Mr. Robert Chisholm 8218
No. 876, Commun. (N.S.): Pamphlet - Min. Defend, Mr. D. Wilson 8219
GOVERNMENT BUSINESS:
GOVERNMENT MOTIONS:
ON MOTION FOR SUPPLY:
Mr. K. Deveaux 8221
Mr. R. MacKinnon 8227
Mr. W. Dooks 8230
HOUSE RESOLVED INTO CWH ON SUPPLY AT 2:45 P.M. 8236
HOUSE RECONVENED AT 5:59 P.M. 8236
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Fri., Apr. 12th at 9:00 a.m. 8236
ADJOURNMENT:
MOTION UNDER RULE 43:
Commun. Serv. - Family Violence System: Redesigned Plan -
Discuss: 8237
Ms. Maureen MacDonald 8237
Mr. D. Wilson 8240
Hon. M. Baker 8244
Mr. J. Pye 8248
Dr. J. Smith 8251
Mr. P. MacEwan 8254
Hon. P. Christie 8256
Mr. F. Corbett 8260
Mr. D. Downe 8262
Mr. M. Parent 8265
Mr. J. Holm 8266
NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3):
Res. 3057, Three Hbr.-Port Dufferin Vol. FD: Chief/Firefighters -
Congrats., Mr. W. Dooks 8268
Res. 3058, Anti-Prostitution Task Force: Efforts - Applaud, Mr. T. Olive 8268

[Page 8173]

HALIFAX, THURSDAY, APRIL 11, 2002

Fifty-eighth General Assembly

Second Session

12:00 NOON

SPEAKER

Hon. Murray Scott

DEPUTY SPEAKERS

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

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order and I thank you for the opportunity to respond concerning comments that I made in this House yesterday.

Mr. Speaker, as you are well aware, Nova Scotians are angry and they are frustrated with this budget. I share that anger and frustration. However, as the MLA for Timberlea-Prospect, I made an inappropriate comparison yesterday in this House to our Lieutenant Governor. I respectfully withdraw remarks that could be considered disrespectful or discourteous toward the Lieutenant Governor. I meant no such personal disrespect to her or her office.

I would like to point out to members present that I do not need a history lesson about this historic building or about Government House. Mr. Speaker, having attended a personal, memorable ceremony with the Governor General at Rideau Hall in Ottawa, I appreciate, like you, the historic job of the Governor General and Lieutenant Governor in this province and country and wisely and proudly accept your advice as I wear today the medal of bravery that we share, which was awarded by the Governor General at that time, in 1983.

8173

[Page 8174]

How I wish members were as outraged about taking money from women and children in transition homes as they are about my comments. I withdraw the comments. Thank you, Mr. Speaker. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member has withdrawn his comments. Is there agreement of the House?

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

The honourable member for Cape Breton South.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I'm not rising on a point of order, or rising on that point of order, but I am rising here today in the House to inform the House that this weekend there is a very important event taking place in Halifax. The Liberal Party is holding a leadership convention. and you are all invited, by the way. It's down at the Westin. It starts tomorrow evening at 5:00 p.m. We would like to see as many as possible.

My reason, Mr. Speaker, for rising today is to tell the House that there will be a new chapter opening in the Liberal Party, after this weekend, with the election of a new Leader, but I think today is a day of reflection about the current Leader that we have, Wayne Gaudet, the honourable member for Clare, who will be leaving his post as Leader following the election of a new Leader this weekend. Some would suggest that you can't wipe the smile off his face this week knowing that this is coming to an end. This is a not a very good group to be a Leader of at any given time. (Applause)

Mr. Speaker, I also include myself in that. Anyway, Wayne has demonstrated, I believe, to our caucus, some traits that are worth repeating here today; honesty comes to mind; integrity comes to mind; competence comes to mind; tenacity comes to mind; patience with our caucus and with this place comes to mind. All of these things and all of these traits are the measure of the man. In his nine short years in this House - Wayne was elected at the same time I was, in 1993 - he has been a Speaker of this House; he's been a member of two government Cabinets; he's been the Leader of our Party for some period of time now and, in all of those, he's excelled. He's excelled and he's always kept the interest of his people, the people of Clare, uppermost in his mind.

He has served in Cabinet portfolios with distinction. I had the pleasure, and so did some others here, of serving in the Cabinet with Wayne during the MacLellan years and the latter stages of the Savage Government. Wayne never changed when he was in Cabinet to the man he is today. It doesn't make any difference what job or what responsibility Wayne Gaudet had, he did it well and he did it with the best interests of Nova Scotians at heart. I believe, Mr. Speaker, that this House has been well served. Certainly, the Liberal Party has

[Page 8175]

been well served and this House has been well served by Wayne Gaudet being the Leader of our Party. (Applause)

In conclusion, Mr. Speaker, whoever is elected Leader of our Party this weekend will be well advised to take the advice of Wayne Gaudet in the future. Wayne Gaudet, I believe,

is a person that Nova Scotians can be proud of. I know that I'm proud to have served with Wayne Gaudet. I know the people of Clare have been pleased to be represented by Wayne Gaudet for the past number of years, and will continue to be represented by Wayne Gaudet, I hope for a long time in the future.

Having said that, Mr. Speaker, I would feel, perhaps, that this is a very special day, and hopefully Nova Scotians will realize the contributions that Wayne Gaudet has made over the past nine years in this House. Thank you very much. (Extended Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, when I rose to my feet I moved my chair over this way so that my friend next door might vacate his seat without moving my chair. (Laughter)

Mr. Speaker, it gives me a great deal of pleasure to rise today to take part in a tribute to a colleague in the House. We are all members of a very exclusive club. This House has been in place for about 250 years, and during that time, when you consider the number of people who have had the opportunity to walk through those doors and take a seat in this House, we are very few of very few.

Mr. Speaker, when a person who leaves this House or who changes his particular stature within this House I think it's only right that we say a few words about that person. Certainly it is a pleasure to say a few words about my colleague, Wayne. Wayne served in this House, I think first of all in Agriculture and then went on to serve as Minister of Education for awhile and Minister of Business and Consumer Services, but he also served as Speaker. I have particular affiliation and friendship for those who served in that position.

Mr. Speaker, actually, I had the opportunity of serving as Speaker when that gentleman was sitting down here somewhere, and he had the pleasure of serving as Speaker when I was sitting over there somewhere, around about that same seat. I must say he was probably kinder to me than I was to him when he was sitting in your seat. (Applause)

Mr. Speaker, the honourable member has served the people of this province very, very well. He has served this House well, has served his Party well, and served, I think, the departments in which he served with extreme grace and dignity, and with extreme expertise. Now I have to be very careful of what I say because this person isn't leaving here for good, he's returning, albeit perhaps to a different seat.

[Page 8176]

Wayne, I would like to join with your Party in wishing you well. I know you will have a weekend off, probably when you start thinking about relaxing and having a few weekends off, for your own pleasure in the future. Wayne, on behalf of the caucus on this side of the House and the government, all the very, very best. You are appreciated. Thank you. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, I rise to associate myself and my colleagues with the comments that were made by the Government House Leader and, of course, the comments by the House Leader for the Liberal Party. I think, though, I would amend the list of attributes that were put in place by the Liberal Leader to include a sense of humour, because over and above patience, in order to deal many days in this House, with all of us, you need to have a sense of humour. Certainly, Wayne, in the time that I've known him over the last number of years, has always been a gentleman, always displayed a sense of perspective, always displayed a good sense of humour in dealing with what can sometimes be a very difficult time in this House.

[12:15 p.m.]

It's a tough job being an interim Leader and - not that I speak from experience - I don't know who's going to win the Liberal Leadership this weekend, I do know that I assume they're going to need a Leader in the House so, perhaps, Wayne will be back before he knows it. Also, of course, their new Leader I'm sure will advise him to stay out of the library because, if not, he'll have to put up with resolutions from Mr. MacEwan.

I just want to end by saying, I don't want to show up on Wayne's next election brochure but, I want to congratulate him for a job well done and for service to his Party. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I wanted to take the opportunity to say a couple of things about Wayne at this moment. I was the Leader of the Third Party when Wayne was sitting in your Chair, Mr. Speaker and, at that time there were, I don't know how many of us - two, three or four of us, I don't know how many, but it's not a great position to be in. It's not a great position to be in when you're facing a government with a 40-seat majority, let me tell you. We didn't give too much to any Speakers, did we Paul, when we were in that position? That having been said, we always did comment, John and I, about how fairly and respectfully we were always treated by Wayne Gaudet when he was in the Chair and very much appreciate the dignity that he brought to the role. I won't talk about his time as Minister of Education but, certainly, when he was Speaker he brought a lot of dignity to the role and added to the dignity of the Chair and he always conducted himself as a member

[Page 8177]

of this House in that fashion and I wish him well. I think he made the right decision not to seek the Leadership of the Liberal Party. but I wish him well as he moves forward. Thank you. (Applause)

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

MR. WAYNE GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, I want to acknowledge and thank all of my colleagues here today. Over the years it's been certainly a lot of fun, I've made friends from all sides of the House. There's only one thing I regret, if I had known what the job of an interim Leader was before I signed up maybe I would have reconsidered.

Honestly, it certainly has been a lot of fun. I've had tremendous support from my colleagues, lots of help from colleagues and support staff and there's a number of them in the gallery but, mainly, I want to say a big thank you to the people back home, the people of Clare. Because being in this position, it is certainly very demanding. Time and time again when you would love to be able to stay home and spend time and do some local politics, unfortunately, you're called elsewhere. When I took on this job I felt I would certainly do whatever I could and I think, basically, in the end, I'm quite pleased with what I was able to do for our Party and for the people of Nova Scotia.

I know this weekend we will be turning to a new page but, looking back, I have no regrets with the job and the challenges that I was provided with. I'm certainly looking in the future for more challenges. As the honourable Government House Leader indicated, I'm not leaving, not for awhile still. I'm certainly planning to be here for some time still and I'm looking to continue with what I've been doing over the years. I'm not planning to change. Monday morning I'm still planning to be here to represent the people of Nova Scotia, and especially, the people of Clare.

So in closing, I want to thank you, Mr. Speaker, and through you to all members of the House; I want to thank them for their support and their friendship over the years. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: If I could, just on a personal note to the honourable Leader of the Liberal Party, I certainly echo the comments made here today. Particularly for myself, since becoming Speaker, on many occasions the honourable Leader of the Liberal Party would come to me, as many would, with advice, but his advice, particularly was always from his heart and I know it was always with best intentions, for myself and for the operation of this House, and I thank you for that. I wish you the very best and hopefully we'll spend many more years here together.

Before I begin the daily routine, the subject of this evening's late debate was submitted by the honourable member for Dartmouth East:

[Page 8178]

"Therefore be it resolved that this heartless Tory Government has abandoned women, children and families in crisis."

This is to be debated this evening at 6:00 p.m. (Interruptions)

Order, please. Everything was going quite well there. We should have quit while we were ahead.

SPEAKER'S RULING: Provision of documents by witnesses at Public Accounts Committee.

At this time I would like to give a ruling in regard to a point of personal privilege that was brought to this House yesterday by the honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect. The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect rose on a point of personal privilege in relation to various documents that witnesses before the Public Accounts Committee undertook to provide to the committee, but have not in fact done so. The member indicated there was correspondence emanating from the committee to attempt to obtain the documents, but to no avail. The member provided no evidence that the committee issued an order to the witnesses concerned to produce the documents in question. I would like to emphasize, in fact, that the committee has such a power, as do all committees of this House.

It is my opinion that the committee ought to pursue this course of action and such action by the committee ought not to unduly delay this whole matter if it time-limits the opportunity to produce the documents in question. If there is a failure to respond to the order of the committee, a contempt will result, and this situation will have to be dealt with in such an event by this House.

So based on the circumstances as related yesterday by the honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect, I find that there is no prima facie case of privilege.

We will begin the daily routine.

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

[Page 8179]

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Health.

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, with your permission, prior to reading this resolution, I would like to make an introduction. I would turn the attention of all members of the House to the east gallery and I would like them to welcome to the Assembly Gail Gardiner, who is the Executive Director of the Parkinson Society Canada, and Chantel Leturneau, who is a staff member there. They are rising now and I would ask the members of the House to give them a very warm welcome. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Health.

RESOLUTION NO. 3031

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

Whereas one in 300 people are diagnosed with Parkinson's and approximately 100,000 Canadians live with the disease, which affects both men and women from all ethnic backgrounds; and

Whereas the Parkinson Society of Canada and its regional counterpart, the Maritime Region, provide information and support to Parkinson patients and actively support research into the cause and cure for Parkinson's; and

Whereas the month of April is Parkinson's Awareness Month and April 11th is World Parkinson's Day;

Therefore I, Jamie Muir, Minister of Health for the Province of Nova Scotia, do hereby proclaim April as Parkinson's Awareness Month and April 11th to be World Parkinson's Day.

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 8180]

The motion is carried.

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

NOTICES OF MOTION

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

RESOLUTION NO. 3032

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

Whereas as Nova Scotians continue to ferret out budget details, it is now apparent that $890,000 in cuts to services for women, children and the counselling of abusive men will have dire consequences; and

Whereas yesterday it was revealed that this Tory Government's plan is to close four of the province's nine transition houses, although overall use of transition houses has increased; and

Whereas government is always about choices, and this government has chosen to put women and children at risk because closing the doors of transition houses also closes access to protection from violence;

Therefore be it resolved that this House urge the Minister of Community Services to rethink his wrong-headed choice of reducing services for the protection of women and children and restore funding for transition houses, women's centres and treatment programs for abusive men.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

[Page 8181]

RESOLUTION NO. 3033

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

Whereas April is designated as Cancer Awareness Month and the Canadian Cancer Society is celebrating 56 years of volunteer service in Nova Scotia; and

Whereas cancer continues to be one of the leading causes of death in Nova Scotia; and

Whereas funding research, public education and patient services are key objectives for the Canadian Society, Nova Scotia Division;

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize April as Canadian Cancer Month in Nova Scotia and acknowledge and congratulate the commitment of the Canadian Cancer Society, Nova Scotia Division, and its many hard-working volunteers.

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 Shelburne.

RESOLUTION NO. 3034

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

Whereas Dr. Nagi Shams has left the Yukon and come to Barrington to work at the Barrington Medical Clinic; and

Whereas this is a great addition to Barrington's Medical Clinic and will increase services at the Roseway Hospital, where Dr. Shams will share on-call duties; and

[Page 8182]

Whereas the physician's successful recruitment was achieved through a partnership of local health care groups and the Department of Health;

Therefore be it resolved that all members applaud the efforts of the Barrington Municipal Council and the partnership which has successfully recruited physicians to Shelburne County and, most of all, welcome Dr. Nagi Shams and his family to the Province of Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

RESOLUTION NO. 3035

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 Minister responsible for the Advisory Council on the Status of Women has sat quietly in her place as women in this province have been attacked by the Minister of Community Services; and

Whereas the Minister responsible for the Advisory Council on the Status of Women is supposed to represent women, not just in this province but also with her Cabinet colleagues; and

Whereas the Minister responsible for the Advisory Council on the Status of Women has failed abused women in this province;

Therefore be it resolved that this House remind the Minister responsible for the Advisory Council on the Status of Women that the welfare of abused women rests with her and it is her responsibility to speak up for them.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 8183]

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 Nova.

RESOLUTION NO. 3036

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

Whereas the most senior member of the NDP caucus appears not to recall how the Russell MacLellan Liberal Government fell in this Chamber in the voting on the budget in 1999; and

Whereas the most influential factor in the defeat (Interruption) Just listen to my resolution now to get the point.

Whereas the most influential factor in the defeat of that government, which led to the election that put Hammism in power, was the attitude of the NDP; and

Whereas in 1998 and 1999 the NDP took the view that no matter what was in the Liberal budget, even before they ever had a chance to see it, they would vote against it, and urged all others to do the same;

Therefore be it resolved that this House note how that even if a Liberal Government had proclaimed , , , , the NDP would have been dead against it, which explains why the Russell MacLellan Government is no longer in office and the Hammites are in.

[12:30 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage.

[Page 8184]

RESOLUTION NO. 3037

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

Whereas our schools continue to deteriorate from years of lack of maintenance to the point many will have to be replaced, rather than repaired, at horrendous expense; and

Whereas rather than stop this rotting away of necessary infrastructure, this government chose to chop $6 million from school maintenance; and

Whereas this government gladly paid out $320,000 for the maintenance and furnishings of the largely ornamental and touristy Government House, claiming it's necessary that our visitors visit in comfort and not drink from chipped cups;

Therefore be it resolved that governing is always about choices, and this government has chosen to let our schools rot on their foundations by chipping $6 million from the school maintenance budget.

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 Richmond.

RESOLUTION NO. 3038

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

Whereas the Strait Pirates are the 2001-02 Nova Scotia Junior B Hockey League Champions; and

Whereas the Pirates won their second consecutive league title and third in the last four years last Saturday with an 8 to 5 win over the Sackville Blazers; and

[Page 8185]

Whereas Richmond native Todd Marchand was solid in goal, picking up his 12th win of the playoffs;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate the members of the Strait Pirates as the 2001-02 Nova Scotia Junior B Hockey League Champions.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Dartmouth South.

RESOLUTION NO. 3039

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

Whereas the Adopt-A-Highway Program is an international roadside litter cleanup program that began in Nova Scotia in 1997 on the initiative of the Women's Institutes of Nova Scotia, the Lions Clubs, and Clean Nova Scotia; and

Whereas each Spring and Fall, the Nova Scotia Adopt-A-Highway Program accepts volunteers to help in the cleanup, and in the Fall of 2001 had 47 groups participate, covering almost 300 kilometres of Nova Scotia's highways, collecting nearly 2,000 bags of garbage; and

Whereas the Kiwanis Club of Dartmouth, in addition to its many other community activities, was one of the Fall 2001 participants of the program;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the Kiwanis Club of Dartmouth for its commitment to the Nova Scotia Adopt-A-Highway Program and for the efforts of its members toward making our beautiful province a cleaner place in which to live.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 8186]

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. 3040

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

Whereas Halifax has beaten out three other Canadian cities for the right to host the 2004 World Women's Hockey Championships; and

Whereas the women's tournament, which Canada has won all seven times, will take place in April 2004; and

Whereas bid organizers have already sold 14,000 tickets to corporate sponsors to give away to children;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate the organizers for their efforts to bring this event to Halifax and extend their wishes for success to the Canadian women's team at this event.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Centre.

[Page 8187]

RESOLUTION NO. 3041

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

Whereas this year Wayne Gretzky led his Team Canada to the Olympic gold medal in Salt Lake City, Utah, thus restoring Canada's dominance in world hockey; and

Whereas Wayne Gretzky scored 104 goals as an eight-year-old hockey sensation in 1969 and went on to break practically every scoring record in the National Hockey League; and

Whereas on Saturday, March 6th, eight-year-old Mitchell Deruelle of New Waterford shattered the Great One's record by scoring 200 goals in only 35 games;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House congratulate eight-year-old Mitchell Deruelle of New Waterford for shattering the Great One's scoring record by netting 200 goals in 35 games and wish him every success in what promises to be a stellar hockey career.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Health.

RESOLUTION NO. 3042

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

Whereas Derek Field of Salmon River was named the Outstanding Male Athlete 16 Years and Over at the Truro Sport Heritage Society's 18th Annual Awards Dinner; and

[Page 8188]

Whereas Derek Field was the leading scorer for the Truro Junior A Bearcats and was the Maritime Junior A Hockey League's first team All Star Centre in the 2000-01 season; and

Whereas Derek Field was a coach's dream, who gave full effort every shift, every night, and was one of the top two-way players in the Maritime Junior A Hockey League, and is the Bearcats' all-time leading scorer;

Therefore be it resolved that all members congratulate Derek Field on being named the 2002 Truro Sport Heritage Society's Outstanding Male Athlete 16 Years and Over, and extend him every success in his future athletic and academic pursuits.

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. 3043

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 Glace Bay Food Bank Society recently received $80,000 in federal funding for renovations to its building; and

Whereas the grant comes from the $305 million National Homelessness Initiative, a partnership designed to help Canada's homeless and people at risk of homelessness; and

Whereas if it wasn't for the Glace Bay Food Bank some people in the community would simply not have something to eat;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate the Glace Bay Food Bank on receiving funding to renovate their building and continuing to provide the people of Glace Bay with a necessary service.

[Page 8189]

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect.

RESOLUTION NO. 3044

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

Whereas Comrade H.G. (Nick) Ryan has served the White's Lake Legion as Sergeant-at-Arms, Service Office, 2nd Vice-President and 1st Vice-President; and

Whereas Nick Ryan served in Korea with the Royal Canadian Regiment and in Cyprus with the Royal Canadian Signal Corps; and

Whereas Comrade Ryan was presented with the Meritorious Service Medal in December 2001;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly offer its congratulations to H.G. (Nick) Ryan of White's Lake Legion on receiving the Meritorious Service Award.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

[Page 8190]

The honourable member for Cape Breton Nova.

RESOLUTION NO. 3045

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

Whereas Ms. Lillian Doyle, of 3424 Wood Avenue, New Waterford, had an excellent letter to the editor published in yesterday's Cape Breton Post entitled, "New Democrats learning error of their ways"; and

Whereas Ms. Doyle began by stating, "Is now not the perfect time for Dr. John Hamm and his Tory puppies to give the New Democrats a standing ovation for their loyalty to the Tories rather than to the people of Nova Scotia?"; and

Whereas Ms. Doyle correctly points out how it was the NDP who engineered the downfall of the Russell MacLellan Liberal Government, thus paving the way for John Hamm to come to power for the express purpose of shutting down the Sydney Steel Plant;

Therefore be it resolved that this House commend Ms. Doyle (Interruptions) for her political sagacity and urge her to express such ideas more frequently so as to overcome the effects of the NDP foghorn. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Order, please. The resolution was a bit long, however there were quite a few interruptions.

[The notice is tabled.]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou West.

RESOLUTION NO. 3046

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

Whereas in rural communities, especially among the aging population, reliable transportation is vital to accessing services, including health care services; and

Whereas the Central Highlands Association of the Disabled (CHAD), through an agreement with the Pictou West Community Health Board, has brought a third bus into full-time service to meet the needs of the people of Pictou West; and

[Page 8191]

Whereas this deal will help many residents by alleviating worries, offering new transportation alternatives and providing dependable, low-cost transportation to rural citizens;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House congratulate the Central Highlands Association of the Disabled, and the Pictou West Community Health Board whose co-operation has made more reliable and accessible transportation available to people in Pictou West.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.

RESOLUTION NO. 3047

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

Whereas J.L. Ilsley High School held their 21st Annual Model Parliament on February 28, 2002; and

Whereas the Party with the overwhelming majority was . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: The NDP.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: . . . the New Democratic Party, led by Prime Minister Jessie Lee Langille; and

Whereas the proceedings and debates were approached by the elected members with an incredible degree of energy, focus and optimism;

[Page 8192]

Therefore be it resolved that this House commend and congratulate Jessie Lee Langille and the other students who participated in the 21st Annual J.L. Ilsley High School Model Parliament, and the remarkable and dedicated teaching staff who work so hard to generate opportunities like these for the students.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

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. 3048

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

Whereas on February 23rd, Dutch Mason was inducted to the Canadian Jazz and Blues Hall of Fame; and

Whereas Mr. Mason was among the first inductees to the Hall of Fame who was also honoured with a Lifetime Achievement Award; and

Whereas a native of Truro, Mr. Mason has also received an ECMA Lifetime Achievement Award, a CBC Radio's Saturday Night Blues Award. and a Juno Award;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Mr. Dutch Mason on his induction to the Canadian Jazz and Blues Hall of Fame and wish him continued success in all future endeavours.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 8193]

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 Preston.

RESOLUTION NO. 3049

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

Whereas volunteers are of vital importance to all of our communities; and

Whereas the 2002 Provincial Representative Volunteer Awards will be presented to individuals from across Nova Scotia on April 19th to pay tribute to the thousands of Nova Scotians whose generosity, determination and compassion help to create a better life and future for us all; and

Whereas Mr. Grant MacDonald, representing the Halifax Regional Municipality, will be named as a Provincial Representative Volunteer for his many significant contributions, including his recent service as President of the Mineville Community Association;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Grant MacDonald for being named a Provincial Representative Volunteer for the year 2002 and thank him for his continued hard work and dedication, and wish him well for his upcoming 40th birthday.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Hants East.

[Page 8194]

RESOLUTION NO. 3050

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

Whereas international contact by young people promotes future goodwill and understanding; and

Whereas the arts in the form of dancing have always been a medium through which one culture reaches out to another; and

Whereas the Lauri Morash School of Dance, of Lantz, recently spent seven days in Cuba entertaining an international audience with a troop of 31 dancers, with the instructional assistance of Leslie Wilber;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly congratulate the Lauri Morash School of Dance and the dancers for their accomplishments in Cuba and their ability to translate that into international goodwill on behalf of Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Kings North.

RESOLUTION NO. 3051

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

Whereas students at Kingstec Campus of the Nova Scotia Community College have created a serene and beautiful setting where people can quietly reflect on life; and

[Page 8195]

Whereas this Peace Garden was a labour of love for 12 Kingstec students and enthusiastically supported by the community who donated necessary supplies and money; and

Whereas Tim Amos, a college instructor, attributes the idea to the shock of the September 11th attacks and the inspiration of Nova Scotians' overwhelming and generous response to those affected;

Therefore be it resolved that this House commend Tim Amos and the students of Kingstec college for creating the Peace Garden, a treasure in their community.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

[12:45 p.m.]

The honourable member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage.

RESOLUTION NO. 3052

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

Whereas each year the Eastern Passage-Cow Bay Lions Club recognizes an individual or organization that has contributed to the betterment of the community through volunteer efforts; and

Whereas this year the Eastern Passage-Cow Bay Lions Club will be celebrating its 30th Anniversary with its Charter Night to be held on April 13th and will include the awarding of the Volunteer of the Year Award for 2002 to a local Legion branch; and

Whereas the Royal Canadian Legion Caen Branch No. 164 has been an active part of the community of Eastern Passage for 20 years, providing support for veterans, helping to educate our youth and supporting local charities;

[Page 8196]

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the Royal Canadian Legion Caen Branch No. 164 on receiving the 2002 Volunteer of the Year Award from the Eastern Passage-Cow Bay Lions Club.

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 Economic Development.

RESOLUTION NO. 3053

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

Whereas in February 1999 the membership of the Islands Development Association launched a monthly publication titled Passages as a vehicle to improve communications on Long and Brier Islands; and

Whereas included in the pages of this publication are articles of interest to all ages, including current events, Royal Canadian Legion proceedings and Honour Roll, community happenings, church news, school activities, conservation issues and interviews with elder citizens to record their memories of their home communities in years past, thus preserving that facet of local history; and

Whereas this publication has a circulation of well over 600 and is distributed at cost to the communities of Digby Neck and Islands and by subscription all over North America;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House applaud this dedicated group of community volunteers for their contribution to the cultural mosaic of Digby County.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 8197]

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Hants East.

RESOLUTION NO. 3054

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

Whereas the co-operative movement has long been a part of rural Nova Scotia; and

Whereas co-ops have brought produce, dry goods and good service to rural communities for many years around Nova Scotia; and

Whereas Musquodoboit Valley Co-op reported increased sales at its annual general meeting last January;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly congratulate the management and staff of the Musquodoboit Valley Co-op for their excellent work and for keeping the tradition of co-ops alive and strong.

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 Finance.

[Page 8198]

RESOLUTION NO. 3055

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

Attendu que André Doucette, un élève de l'École secondaire de Par-en-Bas à Tusket, a été choisi pour représenter san école à l'Échange sur les études canadiennes, qui se déroule à Yellowknife cette semaine; et

Attendu que André est un jeune acadien du Conseil scolaire acadien provincial; et

Attendu que les objectifs de cet échange sont, entre autres, d'encourager les jeunes canadiens à s'engager plus à fond dans la vie politique, économique, sociale et culturelle du Canada, de promouvoir la compréhension et la tolérance de la jeunesse canadienne envers les autres, et de faire mieux apprécier la diversité de leur pays;

Qu'il soit résolu que cette Assemblée transmette ses félicitations à André Doucette et ses meilleurs voeux pour une expérience des plus intéressantes et enrichissantes à Yellowknife.

M. le Président, je demande l'adoption de cette résolution sans préavis et sans débat.

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 André Doucette, a student at École secondaire de Par-En-Bas in Tusket, has been chosen to represent his school at the Interchange on Canadian Studies in Yellowknife this week; and

Whereas André is an Acadian student from the Conseil scolaire acadien provincial; and

Whereas the goals of the Interchange are, in part, to foster in young Canadians a greater commitment to participate in the political, economic, social and cultural life of Canada, to promote understanding and tolerance toward others and to promote appreciation for Canada's diverse heritage;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate Mr. Doucette for being chosen to attend the Interchange and wish him much success during the conference and in his future endeavours.

[Page 8199]

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. 3056

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

Whereas Nancy Margeson is leaving her role as the Managing Director of the Health Services Foundation of the South Shore to pursue another challenge; and

Whereas the foundation has raised almost $2 million since Ms. Margeson arrived in April 1998; and

Whereas the superior fundraising efforts of Nancy Margeson of the Health Services Foundation of the South Shore have contributed to causes such as the ambulatory care centre project at Fisherman's Memorial Hospital;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate Ms. Margeson and the Health Services Foundation of the South Shore on a job well done and wish Ms. Margeson all the best in her future endeavours.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

[Page 8200]

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I rise to move that the business of the House be set aside for the purpose of discussing a matter of urgent public importance, The Department of Community Services' family violence system redesigned plan. I submitted this request yesterday afternoon at the earliest opportunity after I had seen the government's plan. This plan, which formed the basis of the budget, was distributed to transition houses, women's centres and other agencies at 2:00 p.m. yesterday, and copies were sent to MLAs later with a request from the transition houses that the women be permitted the rest of the afternoon to study it and make it public.

This plan requires transition houses and women's centres to close services by June 30, 2002, including the closure of some transition houses. It states that a new model of service will not be provided before September 1, 2002. It requires the homes and services that are being closed to address this two-month service gap. Time is of the essence when the government is requiring the closure and sale of transition houses by June 30th, Mr. Speaker. The safety of women and children will be at risk. Services will be disrupted and uncertain. Women already reluctant and fearful to leave a violent and abusive relationship will be given new reason to stay in that dangerous situation because the alternatives are unknown and unfamiliar. The network of relationships and co-operation that currently exist between transition houses, local police and other protection services will be thrown into confusion by this rapid timetable. The department's plan does not reflect an understanding of the role and relationship of the various programs it will require to terminate or change by June 30th.

Mr. Speaker, every day that passes without detailed debate of this plan is another step toward a very dangerous situation for many women and children. Question Period is not the place to debate such a detailed shutdown plan. The Department of Community Services is not presently before the Committee on Supply. Opposition Day debate took place before the plan was released by the transition houses and distributed widely. This is exactly the kind of situation where urgent debate by this House is appropriate. It is an issue of considerable public interest, affecting people in all 52 constituencies of our province. Our Chamber is the place and this is the time for urgent discussion of this plan and its disastrous consequences.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Glace Bay.

MR. DAVID WILSON: Mr. Speaker, we in the Liberal caucus join with our colleagues in the NDP caucus. (Interruptions)

Mr. Speaker, we hereby serve notice and also have a request before you to entertain an emergency debate and that the business of this House be put aside for the purpose of discussing a matter of rather urgent public safety. That matter is front-line services to women

[Page 8201]

and children in this province that are being severely threatened. While many services provided by government are being eroded, none to date have come this close to threatening the lives and safety of those we have a duty to protect - those most vulnerable, women and children in crisis.

The unwillingness of this government to fully recognize the impact their plans will have on the lives of women and children, especially those in rural Nova Scotia, makes the necessity of this debate even more urgent. The time to bring to light the urgency of this issue is now. In Section 43 (4A) of the Rules and Forms of Procedure of the House of Assembly, it states that, ". . . the Speaker shall, without debate, have regard to the extent to which it concerns the administrative responsibilities of the government or could come within the scope of ministerial action . . .".

Clearly, Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Community Services is responsible for changes to program delivery as they relate to funding provided for transition houses, women's centres and men's treatment programs. More importantly, this minister is also responsible to ensure that the safety and well-being of the clients that he serves are not in any way being compromised. This minister had, in his possession, a framework that would see a serious reduction in services to vulnerable children and women in this province, but chose not to share it. Service providers will be asked next week to submit service proposals and develop an interim service plan for the months of July and August, a time frame where statistics have shown women and children are oftentimes most vulnerable.

Mr. Speaker, further in Section 43 (4A), it states, ". . . the Speaker also shall have regard to the probability of the matter being debated by the House within a reasonable time by other means." Service providers have been asked to meet with the minister early next week to begin the process of determining what services and service providers will survive. Each and every minute that service providers spend justifying their existence means that precious time is being taken away from women and children in this province.

Mr. Speaker, government did not provide a framework for its vision of program service delivery in this province. They have left that task to those who provide the service to vulnerable women and children. Service providers have begun this task now and we, as legislators, are obligated to discuss the ramifications of this proposal and that proposed vision of service delivery before it is too late - before one more minute is spent by service providers trying to determine who will receive services and who will not. The time for the government to listen is now. This issue deserves emergency attention. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I am just rising to advise that the government caucus and the government have no difficulty with debating this issue at 6:00 p.m. this evening.

[Page 8202]

MR. SPEAKER: Are there any other interveners? The honourable member for Halifax Needham has made a request under Rule 43 for an urgent debate to take place this evening and that the business of the House be set aside to discuss this important matter. I have had an opportunity to review the rules and certainly this request was made well within the time frame, which is allocated in the House Rules. As well, I have determined that the matter is proper to be discussed at this time, as it does concern the administrative responsibilities of the government and does come in within the scope of ministerial action.

I will now read the motion aloud so that we can have an agreement of the House. The motion is that the business of the House be set aside for the purpose of discussing a matter of urgent public importance, the Department of Community Services family violence system redesigned plan. Does the member have the leave of the House for this motion?

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

This will be debated this evening. Obviously, the late debate will be set aside and debate on this urgent matter will be discussed from 6:00 p.m. until 8:00 p.m. (Interruption) That, I believe, is automatic.

The honourable Minister of Health.

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, this is not in relation to what went on before, but just for the information of the House, Bob Stanfield's birthday is on April 11th and he is 88 years old today. I was wondering if it might be appropriate for the House to send him a letter of congratulations, having been a former Premier.

MR. SPEAKER: Congratulations to Bob Stanfield on his birthday.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

The honourable member for Cape Breton South.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I know we are about to go into Question Period and I just wonder if the Minister of Environment and Labour is going to be here? Does anyone know where he is?

[Page 8203]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: He will be here. He's going to be a little late, as I understand, but he will be in the House.

[1:00 p.m.]

ORDERS OF THE DAY

ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS

MR. SPEAKER: Question Period will begin at 1:00 p.m. and end at 2:00 p.m.

The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

COMMUN. SERV.: RUSSELL REPORT - CONTEXT

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, last week the Minister of Community Services and the Minister of Finance both referred to the Russell report when they were confronted with cuts to funding for transition houses and women's centres. Well, Professor Dawn Russell, who co-authored that report, stated her position clearly in a CBC interview this morning. She said: both of us were shocked to learn that there might be any suggestion that our report has been used to justify cuts to transition houses or women's centres. My question to the Minister of Community Services is, why was this report taken out of context and used to make devastating cuts to women's centres, transition houses and men's treatment programs?

HON. PETER CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, any reference I made to the Dawn Russell report was in relation to the family violence protection Act that the Department of Justice had introduced last fall, and the programs and the plans that they were introducing. That was the context I was referring to it in.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, the minister's problem is that Professor Russell, this morning, debunked the myths that the minister has tried to use to dodge responsibility for his actions. She said: we never suggested or anticipated that emergency orders would eliminate the need or take the place of transition houses. I want to ask the Minister of Community Services, why doesn't his department use the real recommendations from the Russell report instead of making them up as he goes?

MR. CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, when the Russell report came to us, there were a number of recommendations. One recommendation that was involved in that report was that there had to be better communications between the various facilities that are operated in the province. Along with Justice, we had reviewed those recommendations. For example, one

[Page 8204]

of the things the Department of Community Services did as an outflow of that report was to hire support people to do training and to bring the family violence issue to all areas. That was the reference we made to that report.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, I'm at a loss as to why the Minister of Community Services continues with this kind of bafflegab. What his department did was cut $890,000 that was going into programming to protect women and children in this province. Professor Russell, the Russell report author, has spoken, women program providers have spoken, the people have spoken, the cuts are wrong, and you know it, you know it's wrong. I want the Minister of Community Services to explain to this House, did his department misinterpret the data or did you just twist it around to serve your own political purposes?

MR. CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, what we've indicated in the paper we released yesterday to the centres is that as a department we want to look at those core programs, to be able to ensure that those programs are sustainable and fundable. That's what we want to do as a department; that's what we want to work with them on.

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

JUSTICE: RUSSELL REPORT - GENESIS

MR. WAYNE GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Justice. Earlier in this year the Department of Justice commissioned a report on action against partner violence in Nova Scotia. Evidence gathered by the Russell report illustrated that adequate support is essential in helping victims and their families deal with the experience of family abuse. The report also recommended that services for victims be increased so as to respond to partner violence. My question to the Minister of Justice is, why did the Department of Justice commission such a costly report only to ignore the recommendations and cut services

to victims of family violence?

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the question from the honourable Leader of the Liberal Party. Very simply, that's not what has happened. The Department of Justice has a number of initiatives of which the honourable member may be aware. The first is the Justice Learning Centre in Truro which is designed to train police personnel, justice personnel and other government personnel in dealing with issues of domestic violence. Of course, the other one is the issue of the JP-issued intervention orders which will provide protection particularly to women and men who are in domestic violence situations, to ensure that they are able to stay in their own home.

MR. GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, family violence is a lived reality for many women and children in Nova Scotia. The women and children who use the services of transition houses and women's centres are survivors of violent and nasty abuse. The vision statements for many of the groups that work with family violence is to see the day where their services are

[Page 8205]

no longer needed. That is in an ideal world that we will probably never see. So my question to the minister is, why does this government feel that is okay for those who are providing such a valuable service to women and children to suddenly stop to justify its existence?

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, what we are trying to do, as a government, is to find more and effective ways of dealing with family violence. The honourable Minister of Community Services, for example, has referred to, in the House, how outreach programs and a number of other programs in dealing with domestic violence, are things where there is a real demand. There are changes being made. The most important one in Nova Scotia is to allow the victims of domestic violence to stay in their own homes. Transition houses are a last resort. What we need to do is to ensure abused Nova Scotians can stay in the homes where they ought to be staying. That's what we have to be striving for.

MR. GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, many of us in this House can only imagine the abuse that women suffer at the hands of spouses every day but he knows, and I will remind him, the abuse is real. That abuse is real and these women and children fear for their lives and well-being. My final question to the minister is, will the minister commit to spending a day at Harbour House, in his area, to experience the life of these overworked and underpaid staff people and to see and hear the stories of abuse that women suffer in this province? Will he commit, yes or no?

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, I don't need that honourable gentleman to lecture me about the stories of abuse in this province. As a lawyer, I had clients who were abused spouses. I've heard first-hand from the people who have been abused in this province. I can tell you, the problem is that the honourable gentleman is trying to make publicity out of the suffering of other Nova Scotians and for that he should be ashamed.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

COMMUN. SERV. - TRANSITION HOUSES:

CLOSURE - MIN. ANSWER

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I've heard what this government has done to women and children described as a gutless ambush on weak and defenceless people and that's exactly what it is. We now know why the Minister of Community Services was trying to avoid releasing his department's plan for shelters and women's centres and men's programs. They will close houses in this province in two months' time and they will put women in unstaffed public housing units, treatment programs will close and women's centres will be gone. I want to ask the Minister of Community Services, having full knowledge of that framework document yesterday, why did you not give me a straight answer when I asked if transition houses were going to close?

[Page 8206]

HON. PETER CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, what I had indicated (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Even though the members are not on record, I would ask the honourable members not to use language that is unparliamentary. I will call them to order, please.

The honourable Minister of Community Services.

MR. CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, in questions, when we were talking yesterday, I said to the member that we will be developing a model. What I have indicated is that we will be having the discussions through to September, that all of the programs we are going to be introducing will be starting on or after September 1st. That's what our bulletin says.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, this government is introducing no programs, they're cutting programs. Can't the minister get that through his head. These cuts are cruel and they're uninformed. These cuts return us to the days when abused women, denied immediate services, simply stayed in abusive situations. My question to the Minister of Community Services is, with the mounting criticism from people who know one heck of a lot more than you do about these matters, what are you prepared to do about it?

MR. CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, a lot of what we are going to do is what I've indicated. We're going to meet with the people from the transition houses, women's centres and men's programs next week. We're going to start with the regions and have regional consultations and we're going to develop the models for each region as they're necessary.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, this plan was created with no consultation, with no communication and, frankly, there's not one ounce of common sense in it. It's going to put the lives of women and children at risk. I ask the Minister of Community Services once again, will you cease this misdirected plan and restore funding to the transition houses, women's centres and men's programs right now? Do the right thing.

MR. CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, I don't consider it misdirected to have meetings with people next week. I don't consider it misdirected to have direct meetings in the region to look at programs. I don't consider it misdirected to make sure that all Nova Scotians have access to this program. We will continue to do that so there is access to all Nova Scotians.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Glace Bay.

COMMUN. SERV.: SERVICES - SUMMER AVAILABILITY

MR. DAVID WILSON: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Community Services. It's an unfortunate reality that women and children in this province are victims of family abuse. The instances and stories of abuse are something that transitional workers hear

[Page 8207]

and see every day. In Nova Scotia, 47 per cent of female spousal abuse victims use helping services including shelters, counsellors and women's centres. My question to the minister, understanding that cold reality of family violence in this province, how can the minister justify a gap in these services in July and August as a good thing for female victims?

HON. PETER CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, what we've indicated is that we are going to ensure that these services are available. There will be no gaps in the services. As we develop the plans with each region, we will be developing the plans as they go.

MR. WILSON: Mr. Speaker, I'm certain that the minister is not aware that instances of violent acts against women are reported higher during the summer months and during holidays. For those women, outreach services are necessary; outreach services that can reach out to them and give them the support they need. I'm curious as to how expanding an outreach service requires the closure of transition houses and beds. So my question to the minister is, how do you propose that outreach services in each of the counties will suffice when all of the beds are full at regional transition houses due to closure of some on June 30th?

MR. CHRISTIE: What we've indicated and what the honourable member is attempting to ask me is, what will be discussed at the meeting next week. What have we discussed and developed with the meetings in the region. That is yet to come. That's yet to be developed, but the services will be there as always.

MR. WILSON: Mr. Speaker, this minister and his department have told groups looking to attend that meeting next week that they will have restrictions placed upon them as to who can sit at the table and talk about this issue. That minister is trying to gag women across this province. To make it even more reprehensible, that minister has told service providers to dig their own graves. That's what he's done. My question, Mr. Speaker, to this minister is, will he take away those restrictions that he is imposing on next week's meeting, take them off, and let all groups affected by this issue sit at the table and be part of the consultation?

[1:15 p.m.]

MR. CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, what we were requested to do is to have members and people from all the groups there. The last number I heard from the department this morning, there would be some-31 people there. We are not restricting. We have people coming from all the sectors, people coming from all the facilities. There is no restriction on them, and they will have an opportunity to share with us the plans and to have their discussion.

[Page 8208]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

COMMUN. SERV. - HOUSING: SALE - ASSETS VALUE

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, something almost as troubling as the callous treatment of women and children by the Department of Community Services is the disregard for the hundreds, maybe thousands of volunteers whose efforts have built and sustained these services for many years. This government's redesign plan includes thoughts about disposing of assets of the houses that they'll be closing. These homes and their contents have been paid for at least in part by community donations. I want to ask the Minister of Community Services how many dollars are you planning on getting your grubby little hands on by seizing the assets of these houses?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. What I don't like to see is the level of debate in this Chamber (Interruption) Order, please - lower itself to what it should not be. Traditionally it has been over the years in this House - I would encourage all members to use - and I've heard a lot of members articulate very well the issue before the House at this time, I know emotions sometimes take over, but I would ask the honourable members to please choose their words very carefully because I do not want to rule members out of order on such a serious debate.

HON. PETER CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, what we've indicated in the document that the honourable member is referring to is the department is going back to core services. We are going to identify those core services for each area that we need to provide. It is not our intent to get involved in housing and various other things that other people have built but, as a department, we have to provide those core services in each area.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, this minister full knows that his plan is one step removed from what this government has done to the Arts Council. All that's missing are the private security guards and the padlocks on the doors. So I want to ask the Minister of Community Services when does he intend to bring volunteers to the table - when the houses have been auctioned off?

MR. CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, I will reiterate for the honourable member. What I indicated a few minutes ago is that we will be having regional meetings with our regional administrators, with people from the facilities to work on the plans for those particular regions. The volunteers will be involved, the people who work at the houses will be involved, and the board of directors will be involved as we work our way to get what we need for the Province of Nova Scotia.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, these houses are worth thousands of dollars and, in this month when we celebrate volunteers, this government is shaking hands with volunteers on one hand and stabbing them in the back with the other. I ask the Minister

[Page 8209]

of Community Services, how can your department sell off the goodwill of Nova Scotians to the highest bidder?

MR. CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member is suggesting that people will not be involved; volunteers won't be involved; people won't be involved in these associations. What we have identified is that we have to provide the core programs to everybody in this province and that is what we are going to do.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Lunenburg West.

FIN. - NSRL SALE: SURPLUS - DETAILS

MR. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Finance. I wish to table a press release, dated November 16, 2001, which indicated that the one-time accounting of NSRL could have resulted in a surplus for that year of $147 million. Could the Minister of Finance explain to Nova Scotians why he chose not to show a surplus that year, even though he could have, under the current accounting rules?

HON. NEIL LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, I didn't hear the first part of the question. If the member could repeat it, I would be more than willing to answer the question.

MR. DOWNE: I wanted to table a press release, dated November 16, 2001, which indicated that a one-time accounting for NSRL could have resulted in a surplus for that year of $147 million. My question to the minister is, could the minister explain to Nova Scotians why he chose not to show a surplus that year, even though he could have under the current accounting rules?

MR. LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, I am confused by the question of the member opposite. In the first year that we brought forward a budget, which is really carrying forward what the honourable members opposite - we had a $500 million deficit estimate when we tabled it. The final operating result of that year was a $321 million loss. In that year we added some additional provisions for the reclamation of Sysco and so forth, which drove it up to $721 million, but that was an extraordinary item. In regard to NSRL, my understanding of it is that that item is also an extraordinary item. If you could be more specific about which year, I will try to endeavour to answer your question.

MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, I can show the minister my questions in advance, if that is any help to him. The issue was on November 16, 2001, when he sold the last assets of NSRL, and instead of it going into the current account he put it to the debt of the Province of Nova Scotia.

MR. LEBLANC: Okay.

[Page 8210]

MR. DOWNE: All right. That is my first question; he understands the first question. My second question. I would also like to table the press release from March 3, 2000, which showed the province wrote off Sysco's liability of $378 million. Like in the case of NSRL, that figure went to the debt and was not included in the deficit of that year. Could the minister explain then why the sale of the assets from Sysco are being put forward toward general revenue instead of being applied to the debt, like he did with NSRL?

MR. LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, the reason I am having a bit of a problem understanding is that the member has it all wrong. I was trying to give him the courtesy at least of trying to see whether or not he may have had it right. In the first instance that I used, the provisions for Sysco were an expense in that year and they were also added to the debt. In regard to the sale of NSRL, the proceeds that we received for it, less the value that was carried on the books, were shown as an extraordinary gain in the year, I believe it was ended March 31, 2001. So what he is saying is not true. It was added to the operating results of the province as an extraordinary item. We are not going to sell NSRL more than once, though I think he will probably expect us to.

MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, I am obviously going to have to explain this question to the minister again. The issue is that what he did with NSRL is that he took the asset sale of NSRL and put it to the debt.

AN HON. MEMBER: No, he didn't.

MR. DOWNE: He did. He didn't put it to the general account because it would have shown a $147 million surplus that year. That is what your argument was and that is what your press release says. Secondly, with regard to Sysco, he put the debt of Sysco to the debt, but yet the assets of the sale of Sysco are going into the current account. My question to the minister. Sysco profits from this year are being pumped into the bottom line so that the Province of Nova Scotia is showing a $1.3 million surplus where in reality, if he did the same accounting procedure as he did with NSRL we would have an $11.2 million deficit. My question to the minister is, why the double standard, Mr. Minister?

MR. LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, this is the Public Accounts for the year ended March 31, 2001. The gain on NSRL is at the bottom as an extraordinary item. It showed in that year that we actually had a profit, we had a surplus because we sold NSRL. I will give this to the honourable member so that he can understand and all Nova Scotians will share.

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

FIN. - GAMING CORP.: VLTs - RELOCATION

MR. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, today my office received a letter from the Royal Canadian Legion, Valley Branch, in Upper Musquodoboit. The letter, stamped

[Page 8211]

urgent, says there's a new policy involving video lottery terminals which will require any VLT machine not meeting weekly revenues of $350 to be removed. This is an obvious attempt by this government to jack up VLT revenues, even at the expense of non-profit organizations. My question to the Minister responsible for the Gaming Corporation is, has your government instructed Atlantic Lottery Corporation to consider relocation of 90 VLT machines from non-profit organizations, like the one in the Legion in Upper Musquodoboit?

HON. NEIL LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, yes.

MR. ESTABROOKS: And the answer was yes. Mr. Speaker, the Atlantic Lottery Corporation will be putting 90 machines where they will make the most money. They've done this across the province without consulting affected organizations. I would like to table a question that was asked on May 26, 1999 by the good member for beautiful Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley, who said at that time - and I will use the question again because it is appropriate - is the minister prepared to intervene on behalf of non-profit organizations like the Royal Canadian Legion in Upper Musquodoboit as they find themselves in such an unfair position?

MR. LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, with regard to non-profit retailers, we are doing an asset management relocation plan, a replacement plan. There are two different plans. There is one for the profit retailers and there is one for the non-profit retailers. The threshold for non-profit retailers is half of the threshold for non-profit organizations, plus the fact is that if a machine is removed from that establishment, the revenues will be guaranteed for five years out. We recognize the efforts that that Legion makes, but there are many other non-profit organizations right across this province. Plus, the issue that I should point out is that the maximum machines to be removed from any non-profit organization is one; in the profit organization there is no limit, if they are not producing they should be removed.

MR. ESTABROOKS: Let the record show there was some applause over there, but there was no applause from the member for the beautiful Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley. The Atlantic Lottery Corporation has told the Upper Musquodoboit Legion they will lose that machine, which will have a considerable effect on a non-profit organization such as legions across this province. Non-profit organizations need VLT revenues, the Conservative Party and the member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley championed that cause so ably in this House in 1999. My question to the minister is, why is your government now trying to balance the books on the backs of non-profit organizations, like the Upper Musquodoboit Legion?

MR. LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, the member for the area doesn't need any help from the honourable member opposite. He can do a good job on his own. He has brought this matter to my attention. I should point out that in regard to this issue the concerns of non-profit retailers have been addressed in the sense that we have treated them differently. The member opposite says they will lose revenues. We have ensured that their revenues will not be affected by the machine being removed. If this was a profit organization, the fact is that

[Page 8212]

they would have no guarantees of revenues and there would be no limits as to how many machines would come out. That's the kind of input that I appreciate from my caucus, but it also points out that we value those members.

[1:30 p.m.]

Also, Mr. Speaker, I should point out that we are replacing machines and the cost of the machines we're putting in is well in excess of $10,000.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

HEALTH - TOBACCO CONTROL STRATEGY:

FIN. MIN. - APPROACH

DR. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Health. It is being projected by the government that it will see increases in revenue of over $60 million as a result of tobacco taxes. While one won't argue about the increase, one has to wonder what plans the government has to implement its long-overdue comprehensive tobacco strategy. My question to the minister is, given that an additional $2.8 million is recommended by various health care organizations to implement a comprehensive tobacco control strategy, could the minister please indicate whether he has approached the Minister of Finance to secure additional funds?

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, Nova Scotia's seven-point tobacco strategy was launched on October 11, 2001, and was endorsed by all of the stakeholder groups. There are a number of things in addition to bringing more revenue into that particular program. Yes, we have discussed it with the Minister of Finance.

DR. SMITH: I thank the minister for that reply and wish him well. Mr. Speaker, it's the government that keeps talking about prevention and yet it's spending over $170 million a year treating tobacco-related illnesses. In January 2002, just recently, it was revealed that only half of the government's $1 million comprehensive tobacco control strategy money was being spent because long-term funding could not be guaranteed. My question to the minister is, in light of the additional tax revenue that this government is receiving, why did this Minister of Health fail to guarantee more stable, long-term funding for a comprehensive tobacco control strategy?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, a tobacco control strategy is a priority of this government, and I think the honourable member has to acknowledge and gratefully acknowledge the steps that this government has taken because they are needed. He knows that and, indeed, he supported them.

[Page 8213]

The fact is, Mr. Speaker, in trying to guarantee long-term, stable funding, the issue to which the honourable member was referring had to do with the timing of the hiring of the tobacco education people out in the district health authorities. I think a good many of them have already completed that but the practicality of that is, as you know, our budgets operate from year to year. I know we would like to get on a three-year budget but right now we aren't.

DR. SMITH: The Premier was with the minister at the time that he referred to last October, I believe it was, up in Cornwallis. We've only seen part of that realized, that great press conference that was held there. So I think, Mr. Speaker, the minister must be a disappointment to the Premier. A comprehensive tobacco control strategy and smoke-free workplace legislation was a commitment made to the people of Nova Scotia by the Premier - not just the minister, but by the Premier. My question is, could the minister please indicate when he plans to table his smoke-free workplace legislation?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, the legislation, which will be introduced in the not-too-distant future, will be among the strongest in the country in terms of reducing exposure to second-hand smoke. I think within the next two weeks. We intend to have the legislation passed this session.

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

EDUC. - SCHOOLS: PREVENTATIVE MAINTENANCE - POLICY

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Education.

Yesterday, the Deputy Premier said, and I will table this article from The Chronicle-Herald, ". . . it's easy for government to let preventive maintenance for all types of infrastructure slide at budget time, but the Hamm government said it wouldn't do that."

Yesterday, Mr. Speaker, students and parents in Barrington Passage learned that it took two weeks of investigation to discover that raw sewage was dripping into one of the classrooms in the school. My question for the Minister of Education is, can she explain how this government's preventative maintenance policy applies to schools when $6 million was cut from this year's budget for school repairs and maintenance?

HON. JANE PURVES: The raw sewage that was so-called leaking into the school was in fact a pipe seeping, and it was discovered and it was fixed.

MR. DEVEAUX: Unfortunately, I think the minister misses the point. The point is that if we had invested in preventative maintenance like we're doing for Government House, presumably we would have been able to find this before children had rashes on them and school had to be shut down for a week or two. We have with Government House a 32-inch television being purchased, we have lavish attention to every detail, including the inside of

[Page 8214]

the closets. However, schools like Shelburne High School are rotting away, barely able to keep the roof over them. Replacement costs are climbing, yet schools are told they have to keep waiting. So my question to this Minister of Education is, can she explain when her government will make preventative maintenance for schools a higher priority than it is for Government House?

MISS PURVES: Shelburne High School is being replaced, as the honourable member knows. Last year we spent a lot of money on maintenance; this year we are spending a lot of money. We are building new schools; we are spending nearly $100 million a year on school maintenance and building new schools. But of course that is not very much money to the NDP because they think money is produced in the basement of a trade mart building and we can throw it at anything any time we feel like it. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. DEVEAUX: I don't want to have to explain basic economics to the Minister of Education, but a short-term investment in preventative maintenance would have prevented the millions of dollars it cost to replace Windsor High School, Graham Creighton Junior High School, Halifax West, Barrington Passage, Shelburne, Sir John A. Macdonald, and many other schools that have rotted under our students because you won't fund preventative maintenance. In view of the emergency situation in our schools, particularly Barrington Passage and others which can quickly drain the budget of her shrinking Education budget, will the Minister of Education immediately commit that her government will give the schools the same treatment that they're giving Government House?

MISS PURVES: This government is spending a great deal of money on schools, as the member opposite is aware. He's very aware of the amount of money we're spending on schools and that the previous government actually started to spend on schools. Yes, there were decades and decades where enough money was not spent on schools; we all know that is true and we are cleaning up what we can as quickly as we can.

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

SERV. N.S. & MUN. REL. - EQUALIZATION FORMULA:

PROP. TAXES - EFFECTS

MR. BRIAN BOUDREAU: My question is for the Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations. The department recently announced its equalization funding formula for municipalities in Nova Scotia. As a result some municipalities will face large budget shortfalls that could result in local job losses; some municipalities will also be forced to raise property taxes to continue to provide essential services to their residents. This government told municipalities that it would not download, particularly services and responsibilities to the level of government that can least afford it. My question to the minister

[Page 8215]

is, can the minister guarantee that property taxes will not increase as a result of his department's new equalization funding formula?

HON. ANGUS MACISAAC: I want to thank the honourable member for the opportunity to speak about our equalization program. I was afraid that I wouldn't have the opportunity to speak about that in this session. I want to assure the honourable member that we have added over $9 million to municipalities through the equalization program, and when you add over $9 million the results are obvious.

MR. BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, my question, again, is to the Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations. The blue book clearly states that a Tory Government will be committed to communities, working in true partnership with municipal government. My question to the minister is, how does the Department of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations' equalization formula not give some municipalities an impossible burden of providing adequate service to their residents?

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, perhaps I will break it down a little bit further. Every town in this province has received additional funding as a result of our equalization program. The CBRM has received an additional $3 million as a result of our equalization program. That is in line with the long-term business plan of CBRM. No rural municipality in this province has received any less money under our equalization program. If the honourable member can't do the math then I will send him over a calculator.

MR. BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, the municipalities will do the math and I think they are quite capable of adding the scheme that that minister put forward. My final question is to the Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations. What is this minister going to do to protect citizens who live in municipalities facing the large budget shortfalls from increased property taxes as a result of your funding formula, Mr. Minister?

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, I want to point out to the honourable member that the funding formula to which he refers is one which was developed in consultation with the municipalities of this province. As a matter of fact, they had, by far, the largest number of people that worked on the development of that formula. What we were very pleased to do was to inject an additional $9.2 million so that formula could work much more effectively to assist the province's municipalities.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.

GOV'T. (N.S.) - PORT AUTHORITY:

UNTENDERED CONTRACTS - PRACTICE END

MR. HOWARD EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Deputy Premier. Our ports are crucial to economic activity in this province. In metro, the port is run by the

[Page 8216]

Halifax Port Authority. This government has a representative on the board of the Halifax Port Authority, Mr. Ian Oulton, and, in fact, the Premier's former chief of staff is the new CEO of the Port Authority. So this government must then be directly aware that the Port Authority has, for some time, engaged in the practice of handing out untendered contracts for legal services. Will the Deputy Premier explain to this House what steps his government has taken to bring the Port Authority's practice of untendered contracts to an end?

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I do not believe that I have any authority over tenders that are handed out by the Port Authority.

MR. EPSTEIN: As I reminded the Deputy Premier a moment ago, the province has a member that they appoint to the board. It was very amusing to see on television the other day, Ms. Oldfield setting off alarm bells as she scampered down the back stairs of the Dennis Building trying to avoid reporters. But alarm bells should be ringing about what she was trying to avoid, which is responsibility for untendered contracts. Now the firm that has that untendered contract has made hundreds of thousands of dollars from that deal. I would like to ask the Deputy Premier whether his government will instruct its board member to act to insist that all Port Authority contracts be properly tendered so all Nova Scotia companies may have a fair opportunity to compete for them?

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I am sure the honourable member is well intentioned, however, I can assure him that our board member is certainly acting in the best interests of the Port of Halifax. However, to say that this government should be responsible for actions by the federal government I think is stretching a very long bow.

[1:45 p.m.]

MR. EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, I am very surprised to hear the Deputy Premier apparently speak up in favour of untendered contracts for hundreds of thousands of dollars. It's the fact that the Canada Marine Act allows the port authorities to set their own financial management policies for the most part, but that means they have a public trust to exercise, and untendered contracts are a bad idea. I would ask the Deputy Premier again, will he instruct his government's representative on the Port Authority to take action at the very next Port Authority board meeting to require their contracts to go out to public tender? What's wrong with that?

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, to suggest that I was saying that we were in favour of untendered contracts is gross misrepresentation of what I said. We have as much effect on the purchasing practices of the federal government as that member has on the selection of the Leader of the Liberal Party on Saturday. (Interruptions)

[Page 8217]

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

TOURISM & CULTURE - MUSEUMS: FIN. INFO. - AVAILABILITY

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Tourism and Culture. Recently I received documents regarding the financial and statistical trends for Nova Scotia's museums. To my surprise, I noticed - and I will table this information, I believe the minister has it anyway - that two museums, the Museum of Industry, and Sherbrooke Village did not show the complete financial information of their revenue streams. My question to the minister is, why was this information not available for all 25 museums in the province?

HON. RODNEY MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I did miss a part of the member's question, but I believe if there's information the member requires I will make sure it comes to the House.

MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, unfortunately, I had to acquire this information through a freedom of information request. (Interruptions) Yes, yes I did ask . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member for Cape Breton West has the floor.

MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, in fact, even additional questions at the Public Accounts Committee meeting, at a subsequent time frame, I learned that the Museum of Industry received $60,000 in cash, and in-kind donations - none of this was recorded in their revenue streams - also that they had received $119,000 for expenses on a storage facility, $10,000 more for a collection manager, and this is in addition to the $500,000 they had received in their budget. My question to the minister is, why is the minister cutting back funding for all the other museums in the province, and letting the Museum of Industry have close to $190,000 additionally, and this is in the last year?

MR. RODNEY MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, the Museum of Industry does play an important role for collections for the entire museum family, which is 26 museums. In fact, the Museum of Industry is actually taking a reduction of a little over $16,000 this year.

MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, that's what's proposed for this year. In fact, there will be no loss because they got the additional revenues last year while everyone else was cut. It's interesting to note that this Museum of Industry lies within the Premier's riding (Interruptions) Mr. Speaker, I'm hoping for the Nova Scotia taxpayers' sake that this is not just another one of the infamous Tory handouts, because it's quite pronounced, the disparity between what the Museum of Industry is receiving versus the cutbacks between the Fisheries Museum of the Atlantic and the fossil museum in Cape Breton.

[Page 8218]

My question to the minister is, can the people of Nova Scotia receive an undertaking from the minister that the Museum of Industry will not receive any special hidden funding that could lead to the detriment of other heritage museums across the province?

MR. RODNEY MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, as I mentioned, we invested over $0.5 million last year. This year the museum has taken a reduction of over $16,000. I don't know where the member is coming from in his question. Obviously we do play an important role in the investment we made previously for the collections in our Museum of Industry. They do not only serve the Museum of Industry, they serve the entire museum family. Where the member is coming from, I don't know.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.

TOURISM & CULTURE - ARTS COUNCIL: NEW - MOTIVATION

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I would like to direct my question through you to the Minister of Tourism and Culture and it's regarding the Arts Council. It was interesting in the midst of all the furor over the actions by this minister on ending the term of the Arts Council, the new council issued a statement, yesterday, which says that the transition to the new Arts Council will be seamless, an interesting way to describe the use of security guards and padlocks on doors, but it also says that the government is operating in the best interests of artists and people who work in the cultural sector in the Province of Nova Scotia.

I want to ask the minister to confirm for us here today, once and for all, that is it not, in fact, the case that this new Arts Council that he says will save them $370,000 in administration is nothing less than a disguise for the minister being able to hand out politically-motivated grants throughout this province?

HON. RODNEY MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, that's completely wrong.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, people who are concerned about the future of arts and culture in the Province of Nova Scotia by the hundreds and by the thousands are coming forward to express their dismay at this government's action. A couple of prominent artists who have received awards from this government include Alistair MacLeod and George Elliott Clarke. Those two individuals are condemning this government for hijacking the arts.

I want to ask the minister, Mr. Speaker, what is he going to do to respond to the concerns expressed so eloquently by Messrs. MacLeod and Clarke, people who know far more about the arts in this province than he or his officials?

[Page 8219]

MR. RODNEY MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, in response to people like Alistair MacLeod, who is not only a friend but a relative, in fact, I do have a deep respect for those individuals and I can tell you what we're doing is not only enhancing the programming, but including the arts and culture sector in the programming that we have. I can tell you that the new Arts and Culture Council will serve this province well.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I think what most people who are concerned about this issue find most galling is that this young minister with his little department seem to think that they know better what's best for the arts and culture industry than do the hundreds and thousands of people that toil in this sector in this province, people who have fought so hard for an arm's-length agency to administer arts and culture programs in the Province of Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I want to ask the minister, won't he agree with Mr. Clarke and with Mr. MacLeod and the hundreds and thousands of others who have contacted his office that, in fact, he is wrong and that it's time once and for all to reinstate the Arts Council and get it up and running to do the job it was designed to do?

MR. RODNEY MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, thank you very much again to the member for the question. As I reiterated, the decision is made with regard to the Arts and Culture Council. The decision will stand. We will move forward in the best interest by reinvesting important dollars into the front line. That is what this is all about, and we will be moving forward in the next few days with regard to the new Arts and Culture Council as well.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Glace Bay.

COMMUN. (N.S.): PAMPHLET - MIN. DEFEND

MR. DAVID WILSON: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister responsible for Communications Nova Scotia. In my hand, I have a pamphlet that this government has been distributing to Nova Scotians across the province. There are a lot of numbers in here relating to health, education and the deficit, but none on what I believe to be what a lot of Nova Scotians are interested in. The government denies that this is political advertising, but it can't be anything else because of what is conspicuous by its absence. The government has conveniently left out of this pamphlet the fact that it is adding $100 million to the debt of the province this year. My question to the minister is, how can he defend this document when it purposely conceals a $100 million addition to the provincial debt?

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, I welcome the opportunity to rise with respect to this question because the honourable member brings up a good point. I am sure what the difficulty is here is that the honourable member does not appreciate the fact that this

[Page 8220]

government is communicating to Nova Scotians the good news of our financial situation and he objects to the good news that Nova Scotians are being told.

MR. WILSON: Mr. Speaker, the minister forgets to say that they won't use taxpayers' dollars to tell them the bad news of the budget as well. I can't get anywhere with that minister, so my first supplementary will go to the Minister of Finance. Would the minister tell us if it was at his instruction that taxpayers' money was spent on this pamphlet that purposely leaves out your $100 million addition to the provincial debt?

HON. NEIL LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, the brochure that went out that the member opposite refers to tells Nova Scotians about the challenges we have. It also tells them where we spend money and says that it costs less than 18 cents to mail this, produce it and send it to Nova Scotians. I make no apologies. Nova Scotians should know the seriousness of the situation they are in and the fact that we are now on the road to recovery, although the challenges that we face going forward are serious. He may not agree with it, but I agree very much with this initiative. Nova Scotians deserve to know.

MR. WILSON: Mr. Speaker, the minister is certainly agreeing that you're purposely hiding the $100 million addition to your debt from taxpayers by not putting it in that pamphlet. The pamphlet asks people if they want to receive further budget information, and I think that probably acknowledges that there is information missing. So, again, to the Minister of Finance, why is that minister continuing to try to hide from Nova Scotians the true story on this government's addition, the $100 million addition, to the debt of the Province of Nova Scotia?

MR. LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, there is no hiding of the facts that the member opposite is saying. In this year, we will add to our debt. That is a situation that Nova Scotians are aware of. Those points came out on Budget Day. In the information that we sent out we also talk about how much money we are spending on health, how much money we are spending on education, how much money we are spending on roads and how much money we are spending out of every dollar we receive on interest. It is 19 cents. Nova Scotia should know that. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

The honourable member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage.

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Education. The problem with the bullying policies of this government is that there are no statistics on exactly how often bullying is actually occurring in this province, and that is an issue we are going to have to deal with.

[Page 8221]

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

GOVERNMENT BUSINESS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, would you please call the order of business, Government Motions.

GOVERNMENT MOTIONS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

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

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

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, I am going to shift gears from bullying in our schools to deal with an issue in my constituency that I think is very important and one that has been brought to the floor of this House by my colleague for Dartmouth North and the member for Glace Bay, and that's to deal with Masonview Homes.

[2:00 p.m.]

Masonview Homes is a set of five homes in my riding in the South Woodside area. I guess the common term is small options homes, and these homes are homes that are very unique for small options homes. They're homes that specifically deal with patients and clients who have mental health issues, but also it's one of the only homes, if not the only home, in Nova Scotia that deals specifically with the deaf community and has special services for the deaf community.

What I want to particularly start off as maybe part of my 15 minutes, there are several members from Masonview Homes here and I will introduce and read off the names - and I know Hansard is going to want a list of this and I do have it in front of me - I will read off their names and if they wish to stand up, we can acknowledge their presence. These are the residents, families, and staff at Masonview Homes: Nicole Bezanson, Kevin Howatt, Jean-Paul Gallivan, Shirley Boyce, Harold Logan, Linda Kelly, Lynn Ward-Rice, Cindy McKay, Sandy Morrison, Shannon Oulton, Marlene Edwards, Joey Joyce, Gail McKay, Fisher McKay and Richard MacNeil. If the members of the Legislature could acknowledge them and give them a warm welcome. (Applause)

[Page 8222]

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

MR. DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, Masonview Homes, as I mentioned a few moments ago, is a unique home. Any one of us in this House - and there are four of us that had an opportuntiy to go and meet with the residents, the parents, the staff and the owners of Masonview Homes two nights ago in Woodside at the East Dartmouth Lions Club - would know full well how special this home is.

First of all, it's a unique home because of the fact that there are so many of the residents from the deaf community or are hard of hearing. We saw that. You could see everything was being done in a bilingual manner at the meeting. You could see the warmth that was emanating from the residents and from the family members, because they were able to be in a community in which people could relate to each other.

I know my colleague for Dartmouth North raised this issue yesterday in Question Period, but I think it's an important point. If we allow Masonview Homes to close, if the Department of Community Services is unwilling to fund it properly - let us be clear, notices have already been sent to the residents and the parents that it will close by May 3rd unless the Department of Community Services does act and does provide proper funding to ensure the home can stay open - if it were to close we would be forcing these various residents of these homes to become isolated, because this is the only place in Nova Scotia, at least that I'm aware of, that specifically deals with these issues, the issues of the deaf community, and provides services for the deaf community. These residents would be scattered into various small option homes where they may be the only resident that has a hearing impaired issue, and that would be a shame.

While we were at that meeting all the residents had an opportunity to speak and it was very touching. I'm going to particularly note a couple of them. When I first got to the meeting, I had an opportuntiy to meet Cindy McKay - and I know Cindy is here today - and she was able to provide me with a letter that she had written. I'm going to read it into the record if I can. She typed this herself and I'm going to read it verbatim and then I will table it. I think we can get the gist of what she's trying to say:

"I want stay here it my favorite place in here I won't move anymore at all because my bowling near here now if I move no-one take me but this is better house in here and few staff drive me bowling every Saturday moring I have few friends in here I really love all the staff in here I want stay two jobs same I don't want new job to hard to look for one this is very best house in here for me all staff really good helps us lot I have fun in here lot with staff go out on weekends to mall vising staff's place.I like two staff play with me all the times in here.

[Page 8223]

p.s. my old friend want move in too if it stay open yes if not, she have to look for one I really stay here for long time in here and it best one thanks."

I will table that. That's from Cindy McKay and she's in the gallery. I'm not supposed to acknowledge that, but I did give an introduction, Mr. Speaker.

The point I'm trying to make is that her family and her parents particularly, Gail and Fisher McKay, and I think her sister was there as well, were able at this meeting to tell us how Cindy has changed since she has been a resident of Masonview, how she has grown, how she has become more confident, how she's prepared to be able to express herself in ways that she wasn't before, Mr. Speaker, and that's what small options homes are for. When a small options home cares, when a small options home is prepared to invest and provide the services to ensure that the members of a community, in this case the deaf community, have the services, that is why it is so important that Masonview Home stays open.

Mr. Speaker, what I don't understand is how the Department of Community Services could allow us to get to this point and that's something a lot of people said at this meeting, you know, the Department of Community Services in the last four years has done a lot of funding reviews. After the Sheppard murder in the small options home in Dartmouth, there was a review. Guidelines were set in place. Small options homes were encouraged and, in fact, told they had to improve standards. Masonview did that. Masonview did everything they had to do in order to improve their funding, in order to ensure that both live-ins and relief workers would be provided so that the home could continue to function properly and that the residents would get the best service possible.

Three years ago, Mr. Speaker, June 25, 1999, the Department of Community Services wrote to the owners of Masonview Homes and told them that we would be in touch to talk about how we would address funding and ensure you get a review and, most presumably, an increase in funding. Well, it has been almost three years and that house has heard nothing from this government. The Minister of Community Services earlier this week made a commitment to a member outside this House saying that he would be meeting with them and yet we still do not have a meeting scheduled with the people at Masonview. This is abominable. The residents, the parents, the staff and the owners are committed to ensuring that those residents have the best possible service. All they're asking for is a commitment from this government to do what they've done with the other small options homes and properly fund them based on them having met the guidelines that this government has set down; provide the funding for the live-in staff, provide funding for relief or respite staff, provide for part-time staff to ensure those residents get the best service possible. That's all that's being asked.

Yet this Minister of Community Services is not prepared to meet with them. He is not prepared to deal with the issue, Mr. Speaker, and today still they're being stonewalled. There have been no answers to their questions. There has been no commitment from this

[Page 8224]

government and they still have not gotten a response since June 25, 1999, when they were in a position where they were told we'll be in touch soon. Well, if three years is soon, I worry for Masonview, I worry for its residents, I worry for the parents and I worry for the staff. They deserve better than this and, again, going back to that meeting two nights ago, I heard so many good stories from the residents and I want to read another one I'm going to table. How much time do I have left, Mr. Speaker?

MR. SPEAKER: Six minutes.

MR. DEVEAUX: Thank you. It's a letter from Steve Harrison. He was a young man who was there and you could see again it was very emotional, it was very touching. I believe even Kevin Howatt who ended up reading the letter on his behalf was very touched by the letter as well, but this is a young man whose life was changed, turned around, because of Masonview Homes. I think it is very important that we recognize that these are individuals, people like Cindy and Steve are people who need our help, but at the same time have a golden opportunity to be strong, productive, effective members of society, Mr. Speaker, but that won't happen if they're isolated, if Masonview Homes is closed, if the funding isn't provided, and they are forced to go to different places where they aren't able to nurture, develop that confidence they need in order to be strong members of our society and that's what this is about.

Yes, it is about funding, but it's about ensuring that every individual in our society, whether they be deaf, hard of hearing, whether they're mental health consumers, whether they have any form of disability, whether they have the same rights as we do to succeed to the best of their ability to have a full and enjoyable life, Mr. Speaker. That's what Masonview Homes has been providing for 14 years and that's what this government must ensure continues to happen, yet we have a government and a Minister of Community Services that is not prepared to meet with them and is not prepared to deal with their issues. I will read from Steve Harrison's letter and I will table this as well. Again, I will read it verbatim so that we have the gist of the issue. This is a typed copy of what he had written.

"Hi My Name is Steve Harrison I start to move in Masnview homes April 2, 2000. I live dthere for two years. I love it because those people who help me and teach me to do right way. Not in the wrong place. Learn not to do bad things. Kevin, Richard, John Paul, Cindy, Nicole and Shirley give me lots of chances for me to keep in the home. I wouild of gone to jail for doing wrong things but they keep helping me and never gave up on me. Because they always there for me to help me. Of course they love me too!! I owe them a lot from the past. Look at me now."

And if you were there, Mr. Speaker, you would have seen his face when he said that.

[Page 8225]

"I have been doing so well in the past in September when I turned 19 I realized they always there for me and now I stop doing stupid things. I am a good man and want to say Masonview Homes for others and clients who is happy in their homes. I would love to help teenagers to teach them the right way. We earn it in Masonview Homes because it is safe to live and respect clients and staff. I never want them apart us cause it would be the same as before. We will be sad for a long time. I fight for Masonview Homes against Government. Please give our best Masonview Homes back. There is only one home where we can be happy not other homes. If the Government won't agree me then I will keep pushing them to win the Masonview Homes. Thank you for listening to me hopefully we'll take Masonview Homes back.

Yours Truly

Steve Harrison JR."

I want to table that as well.

There's another one, Mr. Speaker, from Lynn Ward Rice, who I believe is also in the audience. Her's states:

"I am telling you about Masonview Homes and how important for the residents. (clients) who live in Masonview Homes and small option group homes.

They are for people who cannot live independent. Some have been Suffering by families, discrime, poor health, suffering emotions and mental problems.

Masonview Homes are protect and cared by staffs and Governments."

Well, some governments - that's my editorial, Mr. Speaker. Sorry.

"They help us away from troubles and crimes. They help us away from hospitals and safe with care from Masonview.

When we have no workers where will we be.

We want to keep Masonview Homes and be Happy.

Sincerely,

Sir Lynn Rice"

[Page 8226]

That's signed by Lynn Ward Rice, Mr. Speaker, and I will table that one as well.

Mr. Speaker, again, these are the words of the residents, residents who have flourished within Masonview Homes, who have had the opportunity within a community of others, who are hearing impaired and members of the deaf community. With staff who are bilingual and able to communicate with them they have flourished, they have built confidence, they have felt that this is their home. They feel very good about it and they want to keep it open.

Mr. Speaker, the problem is we have a government that is not even willing to meet with the owners of Masonview Homes to ensure that the staffing can be maintained, that the funding will be there to ensure Masonview can stay open. And the clock is ticking. May 3rd is the deadline; May 3rd is when the home will close and these residents will be sent into other locations, they will become isolated - May 3rd.

Mr. Speaker, this is the problem. We have a short period of time. I'm on my feet in this House, as my colleague, the member for Dartmouth North and the member for Glace Bay have been in the last two days, because we are imploring this government to take the time to resolve this issue now. Every day they stall, every day the minister does not meet with the owners of Masonview they are creating more stress, more pressure on residents, on parents, on staff and on the owners. No one wins.

This is a very unique community that deserves to be funded properly for the services it provides, the technical services it provides, yet this government has not done it. They're not asking for anything that hasn't been done with others. Other small options homes went through the same process. They were provided with the funding. Maybe in this case - and I've heard the rumours that the file was lost and the budget was set and that Masonview wasn't part of that budget because the file was misplaced. Well, that is not the fault of the residents of Masonview, that is not the fault of this minister, that is not the fault of anyone, probably. But let's not try to cover up those potential problems. Let's make sure that the home and the residents of Masonview can stay where they are. Thank you.

HON. PETER CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. I do want to speak to a couple of points that the honourable member just raised. The honourable member suggested

the department hadn't met with the home over the last number of years and, of course, that is not correct. The department met with them in November; it met again with them in February. As late as yesterday, the department was talking to the administration there to finalize a thing. I just want to pass them on because that was incorrect.

[2:15 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. It is not a point of order. It is a clarification of the facts, I guess.

[Page 8227]

The honourable member for Cape Breton West.

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise and make a few comments going into supply. One of the pressing issues for rural Nova Scotia is the issue of roads. I believe just about every member from rural Nova Scotia can identify with the issue of the deteriorating state of Nova Scotia's roads. I realize that the minister has put an additional $23 million into the budget for capital road construction. I do applaud the minister, but the Minister of Finance, when he delivered his Budget Address, failed to mention what they did was actually move those dollars from other parts of the budget. In reality, there is only a $7.4 million increase over the previous year. So the minister kind of waxed over that particular issue.

So what we have, in effect, is moving dollars from one part of the department over to the other. Now that having been said, and given the fact that that was the reason that the Minister of Finance used to justify the 2 cents per litre increase in taxes for automotive usage in this province for fuel tax, I think it was unfair and misleading by the Minister of Finance to create the impression that we were getting an additional $23 million into the budget when, in fact, that wasn't the case.

With that having been said, Mr. Speaker, I know that many of the roads in my constituency are starting to suffer quite immeasurably. For example, Highway No. 327, which is better known as the Marion Bridge Highway, the last time it had any major repair was somewhere around 1967-68. Now, two years ago, when the government took over, it indicated that it had it up for repaving. (Interruption)

Well, yes, Mr. Speaker, I am glad that the Minister of Health is raising that because I will address that point, as well. Before we go too far back in time, and I know the Minister of Health likes to remind me of all the errors and omissions of yesterday under previous administrations. The reality is, for the last two years, the Minister of Transportation and Public Works has led everybody to believe that we were going to have that road repaved, only to find out at the eleventh hour that that would not be the case. Now the minister went to great pains over the last two years to ask all members of the House to fill in a priority listing for roads and highway issues in his or her constituency. But once we did that and we itemized them, the Minister of Transportation and Public Works either must have put them in file 13 or just didn't read what the issues were.

I noticed, Mr. Speaker, if anyone were to follow the exercise of tenders over the last fiscal year, you would find that a substantive number of tenders were issued in Tory-held ridings, not in non-Tory-held ridings. I have quite a file built on that, but I am not going to get into actual detail. That is bringing smiles to the faces of certain members in this House and good luck to them. But where is this fair roads policy that the Minister of Transportation and Public Works indicated would be forthcoming? I realize that even over in the Department of Transportation and Public Works engineering division for bridges,

[Page 8228]

construction and repair, the total staff there has been reduced quite substantially. So we don't have as many engineers dealing with the issue of many of the bridges that have to be either repaired or, in fact, new bridges installed.

Mr. Speaker, last year, the Department of Transportation and Public Works gave an undertaking that they would provide a new bridge in the Floral Heights Subdivision. Then, at the end of the day, they didn't do it. They gave a written undertaking that they would do it and then, at the end of the day, they decided not to do it. The reason being it was getting too late in the year and there was such a cutback in staff. I believe one-third of all the engineers who were in charge of looking after bridges were laid off from the department.

There are some certain rural members - I know if you drive down through Colchester North, the honourable member there has been quite successful in lobbying the Minister of Transportation and Public Works for paving contracts. In fact, Mr. Speaker, when you listen to that honourable member, it's not a question of if or when he's going to get it, it's a question of how thick it's going to be. That's how successful that honourable member is in lobbying the Minister of Transportation and Public works, and good luck to him because he will have to have good roads to get out of town when the constituents start to catch up with all the effects of this budget. So they will have to get out of Dodge City pretty quick, there's no two ways about it.

Mr. Speaker, not only is the Marion Bridge Highway in a rather deplorable state, but if you look at the Louisbourg Highway, which is the main thoroughfare - it's better known as a parkway under the federal Parks Commission, that, in effect, becomes a federal responsibility, as well as a provincial. The last time any substantive amount of work was done to that highway was in 1970-71. So, again, the Department of Transportation and Public Works should at least give a little attention there.

Of course, another main arterial route - and I do have to compliment the Minister of Transportation and Public Works on some work that was done on Highway No. 4 last year, albeit that it was a very difficult situation for him because it was a commitment that was made by the former Minister of Transportation under the Russell MacLellan Government, who essentially locked the government into that and, given the fact that it was a federal-provincial agreement, no matter how much he twisted and turned he couldn't get out of that legal obligation to proceed with the latest amount of road construction.

So, Mr. Speaker, when you look at the amount of work that was done in Cape Breton County by the provincial Department of Transportation and Public Works in the last year, I think you would be hard pressed to . . .

HON. RODNEY MACDONALD: . . . better than the rest of the Island.

[Page 8229]

MR. MACKINNON: Well, Mr. Speaker, the honourable Minister of Tourism and Culture says, better than the rest of the Island. Well, I've seen a lot of new asphalt down through Inverness and I suspect I will see a lot more over the next number of months ahead, (Interruptions) and down through the Eastern Shore. They're so lucky that I have a cold. I won't dwell on this road to nowhere, down on the Eastern Shore, where the millions of dollars was taken out of the offshore development fund during the Buchanan era and built a road that went absolutely nowhere. There was a bridge there; you could drive up to the bridge but you couldn't drive across the bridge because there was no road on the other side. (Interruptions) It's a road to nowhere. The member then, who was also the Deputy Premier, the honourable Tom MacInnis, was at a loss to explain the justification for that. So that's what happens, history seems to be starting to repeat itself. We had a fair roads construction and maintenance policy in place. The government says it's there but, in fact, it's not acting on that particular policy. It's quite disappointing.

Mr. Speaker, I also wanted to focus on this issue that I raised with the Minister of Tourism and Culture during Question Period today. The Minister of Tourism and Culture

stated that I was incorrect on my figures, that in fact last year the Museum of Industry - which, by the way, is in the Premier's constituency - received the same amount of money as it had the year before, $500,000 - actually $506,000.

Mr. Speaker, what he failed to apprise members of the House of is that the Museum of Industry also received $119,000 for capital repairs, $10,000 to hire an employee, and over $60,000 in donations, which were not even recorded in their spreadsheets for their revenue streams. In effect, they received $189,000 over the $500,000, which is about a 37 per cent increase in their budget compared to the other museums, which for the most part, the vast majority, received a reduction.

Mr. Speaker, one of the arguments made by the curator for museums is that perhaps what we should do is transport over 15,000 pieces of coal fossils from the University College of Cape Breton to Pictou County. Why wouldn't the government provide the traditional funding of some $3,000 a year, a measly $3,000 a year, to maintain the expenses for keeping those artifacts in the place whence they came?

Mr. Speaker, again, what we have is another example of the government saying one thing to the people of Nova Scotia and, on the other hand, doing something totally different. I know the honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley would be only too happy to have some more paving projects approved in his riding. He got more done under the Liberals than he did under the Tories, so is it little wonder . . .

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order, I want to assure you, and through you the honourable member for Cape Breton West and all members of the House that the beautiful riding of Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley did not get more paving with the Liberal regime, as that member just suggested - no, not suggested, he made the false

[Page 8230]

statement in this House. We received a lot more paving with this member as minister than we received from the member. If he can name the roads, I would be willing to listen.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. That's not a point of order, but it's certainly a point of interest. The honourable member for Cape Breton West has the floor. You have approximately one and a half minutes.

MR. MACKINNON: That's the problem, Mr. Speaker; he doesn't even appreciate it when he gets work done. Is it little wonder that under the Tories - they don't want to do anything because they don't know if he's going to appreciate that either. We just have to consider the source.

Mr. Speaker, when my colleague, the honourable Donald Downe, was Minister of Transportation and Public Works, there was work done in that constituency and the record will show that. (Interruptions)

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. That is an absolutely false statement, and by saying that he is, as far as I'm concerned, not only misleading the House, he's making a mockery out of his own Department of Transportation and Public Works, when Don Downe was the minister. Stand up and name the road that was paved when Don Downe was the minister. If you can do that, I will entertain the answer.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Cape Breton West. I think we're back to Question Period between private members.

MR. MACKINNON: If that's the second attempt to get on this side of the House, it's not working. It's not working. Mr. Speaker, I would submit to the honourable member to read Hansard and extract exactly what I said, and then he will come to agree with exactly what I said.

Mr. Speaker, my question to the Minister of Transportation and Public Works is, if he wants to defend his fair roads policy, what happened to that priority listing that all the members gave you? Did you put it in file 13, or is it just to the point where you haven't even done anything with it? The fact of the matter is we're going back to the old ways of doing partisan politics; it's pork barrel politics and I'm disappointed.

[2:30 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Eastern Shore.

MR. WILLIAM DOOKS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker and colleagues. I'm certainly enjoying the banter between the member for Cape Breton West and the member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley. I stand here today to talk about a few concerns that I

[Page 8231]

would like to talk about here in the House. I would like to say first of all and I don't know if people are aware, but I have two MLAs who sit in the House who live within the riding - the member for Halifax Atlantic and the member for Preston. I don't know if any other MLA has two other MLAs in their riding or not, but I must say to the member for Halifax Atlantic, he has asked me a couple questions that I have answered and helped that constituent of mine, so very much indeed. (Interruptions)

AN HON. MEMBER: What does Dale Cooper say about it?

MR. DOOKS: The good member talked about Dale Cooper. I am glad you brought that up. I'm going to talk about Dale Cooper a little later on. I have approximately 15 minutes allotted to me in the House, but I suggest that I will have another opportunity to talk on the issues that would be addressing the Eastern Shore.

Mr. Speaker, the Eastern Shore is a very large riding. I know everyone is aware of that. It goes from the communities of Lawrencetown, Porters Lake, all the way east and approximately 140 kilometres to the community of Ecum Secum and most people know the community of Moser River - a very long and diverse area. The good member across the way grew up in the community of Ecum Secum and he knows the issues that surround the riding, a very diverse area, very diverse indeed. I always talk about the Eastern Shore in two parts: I call it the Eastern Shore East and the Eastern Shore West, being Jeddore, Musquodoboit Harbour as the centre line.

Now, very clearly, my colleagues who sat in committee meetings with me have heard me time after time after time talk about the problems that are facing the people of the Eastern Shore. I don't think anybody could stand in this House and say that what I've just said is not true. I have had a passion to represent the people of the Eastern Shore now for over eight years. I first started as a county councillor and then, because of the amalgamation plan by our Liberal Government, I sat in regional council in Halifax, and now have taken these steps and moved up on a provincial level. You would ask why did this member, once county councillor, regional councillor, come to the provincial level of government?

Well, the answer is very clear, Mr. Speaker. I decided to run for the position as MLA for the Eastern Shore to make a difference for the people of the Eastern Shore. (Applause) I know the oppression that the people of the Eastern Shore live under. A lot of people say it's geographical oppression, but I want to stand here in my place today and say that we're tired of saying that the problems of the people of the Eastern Shore are because of our geographical position. That's not true and it's the first time I stated that and I would want to state that here today.

Mr. Speaker, we say that our problems of the Eastern Shore are because of its location, its location towards Halifax. (Interruption) Well, that is a problem, but that's not the only problem. The people of the Eastern Shore have made a living and provided for their

[Page 8232]

families over the last number of years, approximately around about the late 1700s when the first settlers started to settle on the Eastern Shore. They made their living on the traditional resources of the Eastern Shore, the forestry, traditional practices of harvesting the forests and I say traditional management type of techniques that they used at that time. I also would like to say that we used the fishery and we gathered that resource and provided for our families. We had some mining on the Eastern Shore, shipbuilding on the Eastern Shore, and peg factories.

Mr. Speaker, peg factories are where people make spoons and certain type of wooden instruments that maybe people don't understand that terminology here today, but I have to tell you something about this. I am very proud to represent the people of the Eastern Shore because the people of the Eastern Shore are survivors. They're survivors; they have depended on the traditional resources of our communities to provide for the children.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. JERRY PYE: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. I want to acknowledge the honourable member representing the Eastern Shore. He has certainly indicated some of the industrial developments that are going on down there, some of the employment practices that are carried out along the Eastern Shore, but the honourable member failed to mention a very important one and that is tourism and the promotion of tourism along the beautiful, scenic Eastern Shore. What I would say to the honourable member . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. That's not a point of order.

The honourable member for Eastern Shore has the floor.

MR. DOOKS: Mr. Speaker, I said earlier that I stand in my place today to talk about the issues that surround the people who live in the riding of the Eastern Shore. I can assure this House from this day on that it will not be the last day that I stand in this House and talk to my colleagues about the problems that we're facing on the Eastern Shore. I only have 15 minutes allotted to me today and I stand to be on my pins more than once before this session is out. And I will talk about tourism, I will talk about the situation that we find ourselves in the contractual agreement with Cerescorp and all of those issues. I plan to stand in my place today and talk about each and every issue that surrounds the people of the Eastern Shore. That's why they sent me here and that's why I'm here and that's why I'm proud to be here to take the concerns to government.

Earlier on I said I decided to come here. I decided to come here with the support of the people of the Eastern Shore and I'd like to tell the people on that side that I still have the support of the people of the Eastern Shore and I will bring their concerns to government and I will make a difference to the people of the Eastern Shore. I want to tell this House today that I have committed my political career to represent these people on all issues - Ship

[Page 8233]

Harbour/ Long Lake, the fishing issue that Mr. Cooper is talking about. We're talking about the protected area, we're talking about the port, we're talking about tourism on the Eastern Shore, the lack of industry on the Eastern Shore and our connection to HRM that actually oppresses the people I represent on the Eastern Shore. I'm going to start telling the people of Nova Scotia about the lack of assistance from the federal government for the people on the Eastern Shore. Where does the federal money come from? Well, there isn't any.

I want to tell you, I'm sitting in committee and talking over and over about these problems - nothing has changed. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. JOHN HOLM: On a point of order, please. I've been getting a lot of comments from colleagues and members of the House and it's a real pleasure to hear the member up speaking this afternoon and so Mr. Speaker, by the unanimous consent of the House, we're prepared to allow this member - of course, we can do whatever we want - additional time and allow him to speak for as long as he wants.

MR. SPEAKER: It's not a point of order, but we're certainly enjoying the speech.

The honourable member for Eastern Shore has the floor.

MR. DOOKS: I thank the good member and appreciate that, but I can assure you that I will be back in my seat later on. Even though I'm very passionate about what I'm talking about today, but we have to respect the schedule of the House. We have some very important things to address and I want to tell you - I know that the NDP caucus wants to support the good member on this side and they do show their support from time to time on different issues, but I would ask them to just be quiet until I have an opportunity to speak, so I thank you very much.

I enjoy being part of a government that's going to make a difference in Nova Scotia. I enjoy being part of a government that is making a difference in Nova Scotia. I can't tell you how happy I am when I hear the announcements of new call centres for Yarmouth or Queens County or for Glace Bay, Port Hawkesbury, Sydney or the Valley, I am pleased that those call centres are there and I'm sure shortly we're going to have a call centre on the Eastern Shore.

I am also proud when new bridges are announced. I'm sure shortly that the bridges will be replaced on the Eastern Shore. I'm sure when we hear of new improvements across Nova Scotia that I can celebrate when we hear of federal funding coming, when we hear about provincial funding to make Nova Scotia a better place to live. I'm sure it's only a matter of time when this government will support the wishes of the MLA. As a matter of

[Page 8234]

fact, there are plans in place now, I'm sure, that will make a difference in the Eastern Shore as well. We just have to wait.

We're going to talk about the forest a little later on. Do you remember that I said I wasn't going to accept the reasoning that it was geographical oppression, that I wasn't going to say that we are discriminated against anymore? That's all just rhetoric that I've heard for all of my life because I was born on the Eastern Shore, brought up there. These things are nothing but excuses. I want to tell you that there's a movement on the Eastern Shore right now, we're organizing, we're pulling together as a community and we're going to stand up for our rights and be counted for - not only as Nova Scotians but as Canadians. I am part of what's taking place and I went into a meeting the other night and I can't tell you how pleased I was to see the faces of the men and women who sat in that building in Tangier Fire Hall where Mr. Cooper was. You can ask Mr. Cooper; when we talked about democracy, about being treated fairly and equally, not taking any more excuses and not taking no for an answer, they were delighted.

The people on the Eastern Shore believe in democracy. We are still a people of respect. We are a people who have survived, but we want better things. We want opportunities for our children. We want to be treated fairly on the Eastern Shore, as they have been treated other places in Canada. If there is anybody in this House who denies the comments I am making now, I would ask you to stand and contradict what I am saying. You know that there are many ridings in Nova Scotia. You know that Eastern Shore is probably one of the most rural ridings in Nova Scotia. There is no doubt about it. (Interruption) I am not supposed to talk across here, but my good friend is supportive.

Mr. Speaker, I don't know how much time I have, but I haven't even touched on the message that I am going to start to send across this government, the federal government and Nova Scotia about the people of the Eastern Shore. We are organizing. We are going to work with government. We are going to take control and talk about the way we want to live on the Eastern Shore. There have been so many foul contracts, bad policies, and crippling, supported things that have gone wrong and changed the direction of the lifestyle of the people of the Eastern Shore.

Mr. Speaker, I deal regularly with many issues, as my other colleagues do. We talk about the lack of employment. We have social concerns. We have highway concerns. My gracious, the area is so diverse that half of my riding gets the morning paper and the other side only gets the afternoon. I can have one neighbor on one side of the community line having to pay long distance charges to call Halifax when his next-door neighbor gets to call for free. These things are not fair. These are people who live in the HRM who are not being treated fairly by the private sector or some different government departments.

[Page 8235]

I want to tell you, Mr. Speaker, that even when we talk about the HRM, we talk about the inner core and the outer core. I want to tell you that I have constituents who are getting a different level of service on the inner core than they are getting on the outer core. Their neighbours are bragging about their service. I want to tell you that the people who are living in the outer core are paying more taxes than the people who are living in the inner core. We have trucks that are bogging down on the subdivision roads because of conflict and the foul agreements that have been made between the province and the municipality back in the days of amalgamation.

I could stand in the House and talk about amalgamation until I turn blue. Do we remember amalgamation? Do we understand? The good member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley can tell you that when I was a regional councillor, I represented my people. I tried to lift the oppression from the people of the Eastern Shore.

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: My daughter moved into your riding, in fact.

MR. DOOKS: The riding is so successful that other MLAs are wishing to live in the riding of the Eastern Shore. The good member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley's daughter has even left his riding and moved over. There are great things that take place, but they will not come unless the people stand up with their MLA and are accounted for. I am just standing here today and giving notice to Nova Scotia, giving notice to Canada, that we are organizing and we will be treated fairly as a people. The oppression of the people of the Eastern Shore has lifted and, now, moved away. The people of the Eastern Shore are ready to take a stand.

I know I am hearing a little bit of rhetoric from back there, that is the common practice of this House, and I know they're teasing a bit, but in their hearts, Mr. Speaker, I know they know what this MLA - coming from committee, standing out from behind, standing out from many. I want to tell you that I have a passion to represent the people of the Eastern Shore and I've given this House notice. I am telling you that I will stand here and I am going to talk about the problems that face the Eastern Shore, one by one - the trouting issue, Ship Harbour/Long Lake, the restricted usage in the protected areas, tourism, Cerescorp, lack of highways. I will talk about each and every one until you all get tired of hearing the representative for the Eastern Shore representing the people and doing what he was sent here for.

Mr. Speaker, I must say, in closing, that it is a great pleasure to stand here. I thank the people of the Eastern Shore for the opportunity to be here. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

The motion is carried.

[Page 8236]

[2:45 p.m. The House resolved itself into a CWH on Supply with Deputy Speaker Mr. Brooke Taylor in the Chair.]

[5:59 p.m. CWH on Supply rose and the House reconvened. Mr. Speaker, Hon. Murray Scott, resumed the Chair.]

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

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

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I move that the House do now rise to meet again on the morrow at the hour of 9:00 a.m. The House will sit until 3:00 p.m. or until four hours of estimates are completed; whenever we complete four hours of estimates, the House will rise.

Mr. Speaker, I move that we now adjourn.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is that the House do now adjourn, to sit again tomorrow from 9:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

We have now reached the hour of 6:00 p.m. The House has agreed to now move on to the emergency debate.

[Page 8237]

[6:00 p.m.]

ADJOURNMENT

MOTION UNDER RULE 43

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

COMMUN. SERV. - FAMILY VIOLENCE SYSTEM:

REDESIGNED PLAN - DISCUSS

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, this is a very serious matter that we're here this evening to discuss. Shortly before this debate I had an opportunity to meet with front-line workers from organizations from Sydney, Pictou, Bridgewater, Amherst and the Annapolis Valley. Having spent an hour and a half with these women who work providing front-line services to women and children, as well as men's programs - it's a very sobering amount of information these women bring.

The number one issue that these women are concerned about, of course, is safety. We had quite a discussion. One of the women pointed out that what this government is doing with transition houses, women's centres, and men's programs is much like closing fire departments because they're not out fighting fires 100 per cent of the time. That's the rationale that this government has been trying to get the public to buy into. Because the beds in the transition houses, for example, aren't full 100 per cent of the time, cuts are perfectly reasonable and responsible. Nobody is going to be any worse off at all as a result of this.

Mr. Speaker, can you imagine? Can you imagine if we took that logic and transferred it to fire departments? Let's close fire departments because the fire trucks , the firemen aren't out fighting fires 100 per cent of the time. They have this downtime, and that means, I guess, that we don't need these fire departments anymore. Let's put a padlock on the door, let's sell the fire trucks, and let's save ourselves a bundle of money. Now did you ever hear anything more ridiculous in all your life?

But that is the rationale this government is using with respect to transition houses around this province. Moreover, it's even worse than that because you can take the analogy and you can say, well, heck, why don't we combine fire departments with police departments and emergency medical services? Because they're all providing emergency services and occasionally they probably have some of the same people as clients, so we can do this and we can save ourselves a pile of money and don't worry, be happy, everything will be fine.

As we all know, that would be a ridiculous idea because fire departments and police departments and emergency medical services, they provide different services, they sometimes are a continuum of emergency services that are quite compatible but they're certainly not

[Page 8238]

duplicating any services, they're providing quite different services to different groups of people, and that is precisely the point here.

Transition houses, men's treatment programs, and women's centres provide different services to different groups of people. There is a continuum there and occasionally they may have the same client group, but that has nothing to do with the specific nature of the services that are provided and what is needed. So this is one very big problem in the government's rationale.

Another problem is the issue of safety. This is a government that claims that they're going to keep women safe in their own homes because at some point down the road they're going to have 12 Justices of the Peace trained and they will be available to provide, on an emergency basis, peace bonds. They will be available to assist women to get vacant possession of their matrimonial homes and the men will have to leave.

I would like to draw the attention of this House to an item from today's Chronicle-Herald - I will table this - this is a story that comes out of the Bridgewater area where just today a man who's been charged in a break-in and an armed standoff in the town has been sentenced to a period of time on probation for illegally entering a woman's home and, in doing so, in the careless use of a firearm and in breaching a peace bond.

Now, this article, the lawyer who is representing I believe the Crown in this case said that we're lucky this is a sentencing process and not a funeral, Mr. Speaker. I can tell you from many years of experience working in the field with women who have been abused, that peace bonds and court orders, while they are very, very important as part of a continuing program of services and supports for women and children who are abused, they do not stand on their own. They will not in every case provide the kind of protections that women and children require, and this is the importance of safety in transition houses and emergency shelters.

Mr. Speaker, without a doubt, the safety of women in this province will be seriously compromised if this Framework for Action, which really is a framework for cutting services to women and children across Nova Scotia, this document released yesterday in this House indicates that by June 30th these organizations must submit a plan for redesigning, for terminating services and for looking at how to reduce and meet the new budget targets given to them by this Minister of Community Services. This document talks about transition houses and other organizations liquidating their assets, a disposition of assets, the severance cost of staff. It talks about hiring and bringing in facilitators to assist those groups of workers and staff who aren't able to make the transition to a new environment, an environment where the safety for women and children cannot be assured, an environment where workers are going to be required to do an awful lot more with an awful lot less.

[Page 8239]

This is a shameful, shameful, shameful plan. It is disgraceful. Mr. Speaker, as you well know, we have had a report in this province prepared at a cost of approximately $60,000 to the taxpayers of Nova Scotia following the Maxwell murder in Truro, the Russell report, the Framework for Action Against Family Violence. Now, Ms. Russell, who is the Dean of the Law School at Dalhousie, made recommendations in that report, and none of her recommendations are contained in this framework. The Russell report was a report about strengthening the services that currently exist. Emphasis was placed in that report on providing adequate victim services, in particular reinstating the Family Violence Prevention Initiative, closed down by this government last year, and supplying adequate funding to existing agencies concerned with domestic violence. And what do we have? Well, we have this. We have a further erosion of front-line services for women and children and men's programs and women's centres.

I want to remind the members across the floor of when they were in Opposition, the honourable Minister of Health, standing here in his place and asking questions about funding for women's centres. I will table this, Mr. Speaker. He went after the then Minister of Community Services, Francene Cosman, for more funding for women's centres. He talked about the need for women's centres. He talked about the services they provide. He talked about why their work is valued so highly. He talked about why that Party valued so highly the work of women's centres. Well, it will be very interesting to see where the honourable member is when we come to having a vote on the budget that rips away money from women's centres.

As I pointed out in this Legislature yesterday, this decision not only is wrong and unconscionable, it's stupid, Mr. Speaker. It is stupid because women's centres in Nova Scotia have been able to take the core funding they get from this provincial government, roughly $100,000 a year, in some cases, a bit more, and they have been able to grow that money to $500,000, and they do that by using their small core staff to write proposals and develop other projects that they then secure funding from other levels of government, federal government, municipal government. They also take it into the private sector. They take their proposals to foundations and organizations, increasingly are even looking at funding from ACOA, for example. ACOA has adopted a whole new framework now for encouraging women's community economic development and women's centres will have very much access to money to improve the financial independence and self-sufficiency of women across rural Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, this morning we were told during the press conference with women from across this province who have been doing this work for a long time, that women's safety will be compromised, that men won't participate in programs if they have to travel long distances, that the wait lists will increase for treatment programs for men if there is a reduction in the current number of programs. We heard that women's centre programs and the capacity they have, not only to provide the programs supported by this government, but

[Page 8240]

the programs that they have been able to grow, that those services will disappear as a result of this government's approach.

Mr. Speaker, it's very clear that the public in Nova Scotia does not support what this government is doing. The editorial comments, the letters to the editor are making it abundantly clear that this is a process that has had no consultation and that has no broad-based support whatsoever. I would encourage the minister to withdraw this document and restore the money to these organizations. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Glace Bay.

MR. DAVID WILSON: Mr. Speaker, I rise in my place this evening to add my voice to the countless others throughout this province who have been calling and who have been e-mailing their words of support and their encouragement for the services being provided by women's centres, by transition houses and for men's treatment programs.

[6:15 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, if there is any bright spot the service providers can glean from this week it is that there are many people in this province who are on their side. From many areas throughout the province, especially in rural areas, we have received words of support and encouragement for workers. We've also received words of outrage for this government. It is now official, whatever heart that was left in this government - and one has to question how much was there from the very beginning - has now all but disappeared.

Mr. Speaker, vulnerable children, women and families in crisis are the latest victims in a round of budget cuts that make absolutely no sense. I find it rather ironic that one of the largest beneficiaries of women's centres is the Minister of Community Services' own department. Whenever a woman is in crisis or in need of money or requires a tank of oil because hers has run out and it is 20 degrees below zero, the first place the Department of Community Services sends her is a woman's centre. We heard that this morning from the service providers at a news conference here at Province House. So how can a minister and a department that is so confident in the excellent care and treatment that their clients were receiving, now turn their backs on them? What does that tell you about the savings that are going to be accrued when this government is finished their redesigning and restructuring?

This government was getting a bargain for each and every dollar they invested into these programs and services. One has to wonder what will happen when these services are gone. There are countless volunteers and overworked, underpaid staff who work day in and day out to ensure that the vulnerable members in our communities are safe and are cared for. Now, Mr. Speaker, it is uncertain whether these services will be provided or if, indeed, they

[Page 8241]

will exist. God help us all if this government thinks they can provide these services at the same level of compassion and for less money; it simply is not going to happen.

What will happen when one of these women arrive at the doorstep of a transition house, only to find it no longer exists? Where do those women go for safety and protection, quickly? Where do they get a warm bed to sleep in because they are exhausted? Do they go to the emergency department of a local hospital? Mr. Speaker, with this government they are likely to find that emergency department is also closed.

Let's see the government do a cost analysis on how much is actually going to be saved, Mr. Speaker, when this occurs. What about a woman with mental illness who arrives at a women's centre for support and guidance? This individual could now show up at a local hospital, may even be assigned a bed there. Why? Well, because the dedicated staff at the hospital don't have the time to talk with the individual and really listen to their concerns. How much is that going to save the minister? How much is that going to save the system?

Mr. Speaker, what this government fails to realize is that the services being provided by women's centres, by transition houses and men's treatment programs are actually saving that government money; they are a cost savings. So instead of viewing their funding as being an investment that yielded savings to the system, they treated their funding as if it was a burden. That is nothing more than just plain misguidance.

I wonder, Mr. Speaker, how could the Finance Minister of this government okay such a plan that, at the end of the day, is actually going to cost government more money? There were so many ways that the government could have saved money. They could have saved money without instilling fear, confusion and chaos in the hearts of those who daily face the sad realities of our society. I find it rather interesting that the Minister of Community Services is justifying this heartless action by stating that he's going to expand outreach services. Why does expanding outreach services require the closure of women's centres and transition houses?

Mr. Speaker, perhaps the most outrageous display that I've seen to date on this issue was the response by the Minister of Justice this afternoon when he said that they're working on a plan where abused women will be able to stay in their own homes, where they belong. I'm not quite sure what the minister meant by that, but I truly hope that he has not become so heartless, with other members of that government, as to mean that they belong in a place where abuse will likely happen again. I sincerely hope that he's not so naive as to think that a restraining order will ensure that violence against children and women will not happen as long as the perpetrator has this piece of paper in his hand.

Mr. Speaker, we have not gotten to that stage in this province, and until we do, it is just plain cruel and wrong to punish vulnerable children and women by cutting off the only bit of security that they know and trust in their community. I cannot believe that this Minister

[Page 8242]

of Justice is completely ignoring the Russell report either, a report that he spent precious and valuable resources to commission and a report that is obviously now collecting dust on a shelf somewhere.

Mr. Speaker, in all my days so far in this House as a legislator, I find it hard to believe how a government feels that it's okay for those who are providing such a valuable service to women and children throughout this province to suddenly stop and justify their existence. In effect, this government has asked those service providers to dig their own graves. Perhaps the government can answer this question for me. I would like to know who, at the end of the day, will be making the decision as to who will be providing the service, and which transition houses and women's centres will close? Is it going to be the Minister of Community Services? Perhaps it will be the Premier, or perhaps it will be the Justice Minister, will he have a say? Perhaps the Minister of Finance or all the other ministers will make a determination as to who will be provided a service and who will not. Maybe the backbenchers will have a say. (Interruptions)

I would like to know. Maybe the MLA for Pictou West will stand up against her government when the New Leaf program is discontinued and Tearmann House is closed; maybe we will hear from her in that case. Perhaps the honourable member for Kings South will feel about the reduction of services to vulnerable children and women. (Interruptions)

How can the women on the Tory backbench stand there and be proud of what is happening to these valuable programs? How can anybody on that Tory backbench sit there and say that this is the right thing to do, that this is right for women and children in Nova Scotia? Mr. Speaker, I say shame on that government and shame on those Tory MLAs who would support a Cabinet decision, a minister's decision, to do exactly what's being done now. How can the Minister responsible for the Status of Women in that government support a budget that completely destroys services and programs for women and children? Shame on that Minister responsible for the Status of Women.

Mr. Speaker, my greatest hope is that before decisions are made, they go out and spend a day, that they will - and I mean government backbenchers or government Cabinet Ministers - I would suggest that they go out and experience a day in the life of an underpaid and overworked service provider, a service provider in a women's centre or a transition house throughout this province, see what they're dealing with on a daily basis and understand the problems that they have to deal with. I think perhaps if that had been done before we reached this stage, this sort of heartless and cold decision would never have been undertaken by the Minister of Community Services or by the Cabinet.

Mr. Speaker, there's another thing that has been missing in this equation and that has been one of consultation; it did not occur with the service providers. The minister claimed that it did outside of this House, that indeed when he was caught in a media scrum, he said oh, yes, we've talked with the people involved here, we've talked with service providers, but

[Page 8243]

when they showed up en masse at Province House, they told us and they told the media that indeed no consultation had taken place. There was no one from one women's centre or one transition house in this province who told that minister that he had to cut close to $1 million from this budget - no one. Indeed, what they were saying is needed, and crying for help, is that they needed more services, more money.

Mr. Speaker, perhaps if there had been some respect, and some understanding and some compassion, then that would have overtaken the real urge of this government which is the urge to just gain power and control over the most vulnerable people in our society, and what's even more reprehensible is how this government is now taking those groups, whether they represent women's centres or they represent transition houses, or men's treatment programs, and are quite willing to pit one against the other.

You know what will happen here is that they will sit those groups at a table and say now we're ready for a discussion, but we have to cut from you, or maybe we will cut from you, or maybe it's from you, and those groups and these service providers have expressed that real fear that that's what's going to happen. But I hope and I think that they're united enough after what I've seen over the past couple of days to be on guard against such a move by this government, to ensure that it does not happen, that this government has done it on so many issues, we've seen it from time to time with issues such as other Community Services' issues and equalization, that they've pitted one area against another, one segment of society against another in this province so that they could sit back and make the drastic cuts that they're making for the sake of whatever their ultimate goal is, and I'm not sure what their ultimate goal is and the people of this province are not sure what their ultimate goal is.

Now, Mr. Speaker, it is a tired phrase, but governing is all about making choices and there are tough choices to be made. This has been one of the longest, saddest weeks that I have experienced in Province House - and a lot of other members have experienced - because of this controversy and the controversial and the emotional issue that it's dealing with. This government made the choice to abandon children and women in this province.

Mr. Speaker, I've used the word, it's a strong word, I find it "reprehensible." Others have used other adjectives to describe what's going on - that best suits me - but from what I've heard from people throughout this province so far is that this government now has the chance, now has the choice to change its mind, to step back and feel, and I'm urging the government to feel the compassion that is needed in this case to finally renege on this decision and do the right thing - stop this madness before it continues any further.

[Page 8244]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Justice.

[6:30 p.m.]

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to speak today on this very important issue. I would like to advise honourable members on the progress that we have made as a government with respect to domestic violence. We responded to the report provided by Dean Dawn Russell in November of last year. Honourable members may recall, this report was commissioned to review the effectiveness and relevance of the Framework for Action Against Family Violence. I believe our response outlines a very practical and effective action plan to deal with the issues of family violence, an issue that I know colleagues on all sides of the House take very seriously.

Mr. Speaker, one of the key parts of the plan is the Domestic Violence Act which we passed during the last session. This act will allow victims of violence to apply to Justices of the Peace for intervention orders ranging from temporary possession of the residence to avoid contact. These 30 day orders will provide options to victims, options which we hope will help to protect their safety as well as their economic well-being. In those critical hours after an assault, those options will provide some level of comfort to those victims of domestic abuse.

Mr. Speaker, this legislation is designed to offer immediate protection for the victim. With this Act, they don't have to wait for the next available sitting of a judge to apply for an emergency protection order. Once an emergency protection order has been granted by a Justice of the Peace, that Justice must then forward all the documentation to a judge within two days. The order is then reviewed by a judge who may confirm or vary it. Once it is confirmed or varied, it is considered to be an order of this court. I might add, these orders can deal with the very fundamental issues that, in my experience as a family lawyer, people, particularly women, of course, who are often the victim of domestic violence, are concerned about - like custody of the children. I think all members would agree that protection of the kids is the most important thing possible.

The judge may also require a hearing to deal with the order but, in any event, the people will have access to justice immediately. The victim or the respondent may apply to the court at any time to terminate or vary any provision of the order. I would also like to point out that the order does not affect the title to real property, but does deal with occupation. This is not a new concept, this legislation is in place in six other jurisdictions. Their experience tells us that emergency intervention orders are a useful tool in dealing with family violence. I would also like to point out that the model for legislation adopted in the other jurisdictions originally was designed in Nova Scotia. It was developed some time ago however, but we failed to implement what other provinces of this country recognized was a useful tool.

[Page 8245]

Mr. Speaker, this will make a profound difference in the lives of victims at 2:00 a.m. after an assault has taken place. I don't believe that any member of this House honestly believes that any victim of domestic violence wants to leave their home. I don't believe any member of this House believes that's the right thing to do, that those people and their children should be chased out of their homes. That is not what Nova Scotians want. It may give them temporary care and custody of the children. Access to bank accounts, to the home; it may provide time for victims to take their belongings from their home if they leave the residence. It is one of the many tools we are putting in place.

I am very pleased that we've been able to offer ongoing training to justice personnel through the new learning centre in Truro. That is the very community in which Lori Maxwell lived. (Interruption) The honourable members say, what about Ms. Maxwell? Well, Ms. Maxwell didn't live in Nova Scotia when we had that legislation. No one will know for sure, but maybe it would have made a difference. One of the first subjects to be taught in the centre is how to deal with domestic violence. We will also use the centre to provide internal training on a range of justice issues to ensure staff receive the most current and professional training opportunities available. We will partner with the Nova Scotia Community College in this initiative, and are exploring opportunities for distance education. We have hired a training coordinator, Ms. Carolyn Madden. She is in the process of setting up the centre and developing a partnership agreement. We are looking forward to the opportunities this new centre will provide in dealing with domestic violence. We believe it is particularly fitting that the centre be located in Truro.

As the honourable members know, the tragic death of Lori Lee Maxwell prompted the review by Dean Dawn Russell. We must not forget, as honourable members would agree, the human face of that violence. That is why the location of the centre is, I think, important. I also want to take the time to single out the Truro Police Agency for the strides they are making in dealing with domestic violence. They have made a number of changes within the force and have initiated opportunities for agencies within the community to come together to deal with this issue that touches far too many.

We are also funding three full-time and one part-time victim support workers, Mr. Speaker. These individuals will work with police agencies to provide the victims of domestic violence with assistance. They will also identify high-risk situations to the relevant agencies for case management and monitoring. We are in the process of reviewing existing protocols for those agencies that deal with domestic violence. We will update and revise those as needed to ensure that they are in the best interest of Nova Scotians and that they most effectively address the concerns of victims of domestic violence.

Priority will be given to protocols between police and child protection agencies so that we may improve information sharing, case planning and coordination that protects children. Ms. Russell was very clear in her report - collaboration and co-operation among agencies is extremely important and we will turn our attention to this issue immediately, Mr.

[Page 8246]

Speaker. The cost of this package, over a three-year period is about $1.6 million. We estimate the ongoing costs should be in the range of about $650,000 annually. Let me make it clear. The funds for these initiatives come from within the Department of Justice's budget. There are no funds coming from external sources, nor were other programs cut to eliminate this program.

The Russell report made it clear that we have a solid foundation in place. The framework has provided that. More importantly, Mr. Speaker, we now have an effective and practical action plan in place that will allow us to move forward. We will continue to examine the other recommendations contained in Dawn Russell's report. There are some very worthy recommendations and those will need to be addressed in the future. However, we have to recognize we have limited resources. The plan we have recognizes that but does move us forward.

Mr. Speaker, let us remember that family violence is a collective responsibility. One honourable member suggested that it was a women's issue. It is not a women's issue. Domestic violence is an issue for everyone in society. We all have a collective responsibility to protect those vulnerable people in our society and the honourable member for Dartmouth North addressed the issue of children. Certainly, children are a critical issue. I don't believe there is any person in this House who does not recognize the importance of children in our society.

Mr. Speaker, there is no question that anyone who has ever dealt face to face with someone who has been the victim of domestic violence can only be tremendously saddened by the effect that it has on the children. Those children not only have to deal with the tremendous hurt and harm done by that violence which, in many cases, is incalculable, but then they have to deal with the tremendous sense of loss which often comes from the separation of their parents.

Mr. Speaker, this is not an easy issue. This is not an issue where we should pander to some desire to score points. What we need to do is to be realistic. What we need to do is to realize that in Nova Scotia, we do have limited resources. I don't believe there is a person in this House who would not share the belief that there is always more that we would like to do to assist the victims of family violence. What we need to do is to use those limited resources at our disposal in the most effective way possible. That's really what it's about. We do have to make choices. We have to make sure that the years and years and years of spending without any restraint, stop. I know it's very appealing to the members opposite who don't have to make any choices - it's very easy when you don't have to make a choice - to suggest that this choice is wrong. The difficult problem is that very rarely do they identify the meaningful ways in which the choices can be made where the money can come from. That is the difficult balancing act that governing is all about.

[Page 8247]

Mr. Speaker, I can tell you that this government does share the concern of the honourable members opposite about children, their concern about families. What we need to do is to focus those resources, and that's what the consultation with those people in the domestic violence community in Nova Scotia, we have to focus those programs where they're most effective. Is the most effective use of those dollars in transition houses? Is the most effective use of dollars in women's centres? Is the most effective use of dollars in outreach programs? Those are the kinds of things that we have to talk about. Is the most effective use of the resources elsewhere?

Mr. Speaker, clearly, we need to make the choices. We can't live in the past. Maybe the argument is that the transition house provides the most effective delivery mechanism, but you cannot get an answer to that question unless you ask the question. Honourable members opposite have a duty to not just knee-jerk resist this, but to look at how those resources can be spent more effectively.

Mr. Speaker, an example of that is the new approach that we have taken towards domestic intervention orders. I believe these will provide an opportunity for many Nova Scotians to feel a degree of protection in their own home. There are no absolute guarantees, but I can assure you, Mr. Speaker, that moving to a transition house is just that, it is a transition. Those people who live there, who move there, can only go there temporarily. They must be reintegrated into the community. We need to address the long term. Domestic intervention orders the majority of women in this province who are abused choose not to use those transition houses. What we need to do is look at what would be most effective.

Mr. Speaker, I would urge all members of the House to consider that we need to make a decision, and the decision is how the dollars that are there can be most effectively spent. That is what the government is committed to, to making the most effective use of those dollars. I hope that as members discuss this important issue we will keep in mind that it is truly about making the most effective use of those dollars to protect women and children. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Community Services on an introduction.

HON. PETER CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, I would like to introduce, if I could, in the east gallery, the 1st Bedford Scout Troop. There are six scouts and three adults here, Roger Crowell, Miles Grant and Harry Johnson. They have come in to visit the Legislature and to visit members here. I would ask members to give them a warm welcome. (Applause)

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

The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

[Page 8248]

MR. JERRY PYE: Mr. Speaker, I rise in this House to share both the Liberal Party's concern and the concern of our New Democratic Party as well, and my colleague, the member for Halifax Needham and Dave Wilson, the Liberal member for Glace Bay, who brought this resolution before the House.

[6:45 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, this resolution was of such importance that it required an emergency debate. Today we can see how many members are on the government side of this Legislature listening to this emergency debate. This is a debate about transition homes, domestic violence, women's centres, children, safe houses for men and the New Leaf Centre, which also offers programs for men who have been involved in domestic violence.

Mr. Speaker, what troubles me is that we get this very sad picture of government. This particular government came forward, when it ran in the 1999 election campaign, and brought forward the Tory blue book. The Tory blue book said that this government would consult with the stakeholders in this community; there would be consultations across this province whenever government was involved in a decision-making process that affected people. This government would, in fact, consult with people.

Mr. Speaker, the decision for this model to deal with family violence and that design were, in my opinion, crafted and thought about almost a year ago. Since the last budget, this government has decided that it would not involve the individuals who, in fact, would be directly affected by the decision that this government was going to make with respect to how they were going to deal with intervention in domestic violence in the future. As a matter of fact, it was so appalling that this government decided that the way it would inform those people who are involved in the delivery of support services, the directors and those individuals who manage the transition homes and women's centres across this province, would be on April 4th , when this budget was drafted and the day on which, a half-hour after, the budget was going to be in lock-up and be discussed. That is when the phone calls went to those transition homes; that is when those transition homes realized the serious problem that was going to be faced in this province.

Mr. Speaker, this government says it is about priorities; it is about addressing the deficit; it is about addressing the debt. This government has, since the day it was elected, decided what its priorities were going to be. Its priorities were going to be to stick it to those people in the Department of Community Services who were most vulnerable and could not speak for themselves. Last year we witnessed the introduction of Bill No. 62, the Employment Support and Income Assistance Act, where individual single moms were going to be forced out into the community without any education or any major supports, to go out there and be part of the community - as a matter of fact, to contribute by going out there and working. Now we come a step further and we recognize that, in fact, there are no cuts to the Pharmacare Program; there are increases to the Pharmacare Program. So we have hit seniors;

[Page 8249]

we have hit single moms; and we hit children; now this government has decided that what it would do is hit women in violent situations.

Mr. Speaker, this government says that we have a whole new plan. They have crafted this whole new plan without actually involving the stakeholders, those people who have been involved for a number of years in this business, the business of delivering domestic violence intervention programs across this province, in the business of delivering programs that would be preventive of domestic violence programs in the future and help children through women's centres.

I can say to you that in fact what this government has done is they have actually stuck a gun to the head of every one of those directors in those transition homes and the report says that you will prepare the report, you will assist and you will have, and I quote this out of the summary section of the model family violence system redesigned, Page 6: "Submit a plan for redesigning, terminating service, etc. accompanied by a budget to June 30, 2002 based on budget targets provided and a plan to address the two month service gap for July and August." Not only are they asking them at the end of June to provide that plan, but they're also asking them to provide the services during the period of time until the next service becomes available in September 2002.

This government can certainly turn around. We know that this government has boasted that in fact it has balanced the budget. It has stated that it has a $1.3 million surplus. A $1.3 million surplus. Part of that $1.3 million surplus is the $890, 000 that was taken from the transition homes. This government can still have a surplus - all it has to do is put that money back into the transition homes and put it back now. Then the government can go about consulting with the transition homes, the women's centres, in order to decide what kind of a program ought to be delivered.

I have to tell you that while I was sitting here, a Page brought me over a name. I received a call on one of the phones out in the leg. room and I received a call and it said that this person lives in my constituency and she indicated that she was quite concerned and that she would like to have her name and have her concerns voiced with respect to this particular cut. Her name is Collette Poirier and she said I think it's just appalling what this government has been doing with respect to cutting women's transition centres and I would like you to let them know my concerns. I want you to know those concerns are not only from Collette Poirier, you read the newspaper today you will see the concerns expressed right across this province.

If you go out into the community you will find those concerns expressed. Everyone in the community from one end of this province to the other who has actually been involved in transition homes and who have supported them through volunteering their services and so on, every one of those individuals have expressed their concern. I can assure you as the days go on that this concern will continue to grow and continue to grow because what the

[Page 8250]

Minister of Justice has said does not address the real issues of hands-on, first step with respect to domestic violence.

We know across this province and there are some nine transition homes and women's centres - the total would be approximately 16 - and I will say to you, particularly the transition home in Kings, Chrysalis House, as a matter of fact it covers a tremendous area, somewhere around 217 kilometres, I don't know what the overall distance of that would be, but there is at least that many kilometres that it would encompass to deal with this particular issue. The issue of family violence knows no bounds. No one knows when it will strike and if the minister is concerned about, there happens to be some bed vacancies this year and there happens to be a trend where there are bed vacancies. There may be cycles and I don't know if we have calculated or we've done models with respect to knowing if those cycles go down and go up, but that's not the point.

Mr. Speaker, that's not the point; it's the point of delivery of service. No one talks about the number of calls that come into a transition centre, the number of calls that have to be addressed and dealt with. In the report there's nothing to talk about those particular issues. No one has commented about the time that it takes to process one of those calls, the time it takes to address that particular issue.

The other issue with respect to outreach, Mr. Speaker, again I say to you that outreach costs money. You just simply can't do it from a central point. This province is a huge province and outreach will cost money. As a matter of fact, the transition homes for the most part do outreach services now. They do that outreach service and they provide an excellent service. The problem I have difficulty with is that, in fact, when governments know that they are going to make changes that affect the lives of people, that government ought to involve those individual stakeholders in that process. This government, as I have indicated earlier, had exactly one year from the last date of this budget to the dropping of the budget on April 4th, they had exactly one year to talk to all the individuals within the transition homes and women's centres on how best to deliver one of the finest domestic intervention programs that we could possibly have in this province.

The people at the transition homes know that we have to be fiscally responsible as well. They're not talking about that. As a matter of fact, last year, Mr. Speaker, they stayed within their budget guidelines. Many of them had to come - because the budget guidelines were so stringent - back here for emergency funding to hold them over until this year's budget came forward; that's how frugal they were. They worked within a budget, the service that a government could never deliver. Those services are delivered by people in the community who know best how to deliver those services and who know best how to get the bang for their buck.

[Page 8251]

They, in fact as my colleague for Halifax Needham has stated, have tapped into other levels of government for additional funding, they have tapped into the community for additional funding, they have tapped into volunteer agency organizations, and they have passed on their applications for funding to a number of agencies and organizations in the community, all which contribute to the pot to help deal with this very important issue.

Mr. Speaker, I think that we ought to know that the community centres itself around what it believes is a very serious issue as well, and the community recognizes that. I can tell you that it's extremely difficult to understand a government that has created deficits for some 40 years or more decides that now, in three years, not only do we get rid of deficits, but we reduce the debt. It simply cannot happen and it simply will not happen. There is actually a need that government has to deliver services and it should deliver the services to those people in the community who rightfully deserve it.

So I would say to you, Mr. Speaker, that it is very important that this government go back and touch its $1.3 million surplus and put that money back into the transition homes now - now. That is the most important thing that I can say. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

DR. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to address the issue before us tonight in the emergency debate. I would just like to advise, with your permission, that I would like to share my allotted time with the member for Cape Breton Nova, who has great concerns about the matter before the House.

[7:00 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, we are here this evening discussing a very important program that is really being cancelled, or being downgraded severely, without other programs in place. Why this is happening and what are the politics behind it, or logistics, it's far beyond me. I've been thinking about this the last week or so and trying to picture if I was there in the ministry, as to how one would move into this announcement without some plan in place and I think that has caused an awful lot of disruption.

Mr. Speaker, we're talking about family violence and we've come a long way in our communities throughout Nova Scotia in the last several years. We've made progress within the women's centres where our government recognized the need for continued funding for those centres when federal monies were downsized during a particular crucial period. We're speaking about women's centres which are really resource centres in communities. There are some counselling services. That's an area of a great collection of knowledge and they set a direction in the community for addressing issues of family violence. There are groups of advocacy. Sometimes I think that bothers Tory Governments throughout this country. They're concerned about that.

[Page 8252]

We see programs relative to the women's resource centres and we see the intervention services for men, mainly centred around anger management and sometimes without psychiatric services throughout parts of the province, whole regions of the province that do not have psychiatric services as such, these programs are crucial. So we're talking about really three main programs, Mr. Speaker. More importantly, we're talking about the vulnerability of people who come to these programs. They come from all walks of life. Some are known to the Department of Community Services from early interventions, but others just arrive in the middle of the night; sometimes children in need of protection, sometimes not.

The whole issue of what should be in place can be debated, but I certainly think that at this juncture we have the minimum in place in this province and should in no way threaten the fragile balance that we have. We should be here tonight - and we are in some way, I suppose - debating how to enhance and enrich these programs and not to tear them down, but we're dealing with an attitude that's across this country and it's mainly in provinces like Alberta and the Tory Government there. I call it a Tory attitude. It's like we know what's best for you, you know, we will take care of you, you come to us, you poor little children, or you poor vulnerable woman, or whomever, the man with anger management issues, but we know what's best for you.

This is a group, Mr. Speaker, very early on when they formed government that cancelled the Family Violence Prevention Initiative that was, I thought, working quite well in this province, but that's gone now, I guess, to the Department of Justice, but Dean Russell and Professor Ginn said that that program should be reinstated. You didn't hear the Minister of Justice quote this, this evening, did you? So I think it's really what we're seeing here. While I'm disappointed and almost shocked by what has happened to this budgetary issue, I'm not surprised. This is a Tory intervention manoeuver. It's control. The member for Glace Bay said that; this is about power and control.

We've seen the same thing with the Arts Council - bringing it back home into government where it will be safe. The regional health boards, from four to nine, okay, but really the decision making did not go to the community, the decision making has come back to the Joseph Howe Building and the minister's office. We've seen monies taken from charities. This is a Tory Government and this is a Tory manoeuver.

This is a victim perhaps of a balanced budget. Nova Scotians will decide on that. I don't want to dwell on that. Others have mentioned that, but I believe that there's a sense of bullyness here. It has been very much in the media, and I don't want to harp on the media and the bully, but this is the bullyness of a government that's a right-wing government with an attitude that says we know what's best for you and we're going to take this home and we'll manage.

[Page 8253]

Outreach programs are certainly commendable in areas I grew up in along the South Shore of Nova Scotia; there are certainly limited services in those communities. I guess we're also talking particularly of issues of personal safety, particularly of children. We fought hard, the United Nations set criteria for the minimum for children; of adequate shelter, we speak in terms of transition homes and in terms of need. We speak of nutrition, literacy, most of all we speak in terms of personal safety.

I guess this is important to me, Mr. Speaker, and the reason I was pleased to have a few minutes this evening, when I came to this House of Assembly I brought, I won't say guilt but I guess I shared the collective guilt of our society because when I learned, the last few years of my practice, I had been seeing evidence of family violence and abuse and neglect within families, and I didn't recognize it. The little kid who said to me, Dr. Smith, daddy threw the dog downstairs last night, and the mother puts her hand over the mouth of that child, I remember that, and I passed that off and let that go. I know now what was going on in that family. I had people trying to disclose sexual abuse within families to me and I didn't hear; I thought I was a caring physician and I really missed it.

We have come a long way, Mr. Speaker, but I know when I came to this House it was a Tory Cabinet Minister who said to me one day - a doctor as well - Smith, you're seeing this all over the place, you're just imagining it, this is not happening. Well, it is happening in our communities and that's why we are here debating an emergency debate tonight.

Whether transition houses are good or bad, they have to be there and they have to - but the Minister of Justice, I would just like to say on his leaving, it is really quite offensive, quite simplistic to say that to take this issue and turn it around, yes, women and children belong in their own homes but there are times they have to be out of there for their own personal safety, they can't remain there. What are you going to do? Put a policeman on the front door and the back door? You can't do that, you can't provide that safety. You need that place of personal safety. We cannot guarantee. For the Minister of Justice to stand up and puff and huff that we're going to do this and we have the most progressive legislation, he is getting it all mixed up; either he doesn't understand or he chooses not to see. Maybe the people of Nova Scotia will judge that.

Interventions, we know from experience when you go in child protection issues, to take a child from a home or violence, when anyone intervenes, a policeman comes to the door and then leaves perhaps, violence doesn't get less in that home, almost always it escalates and gets worse. If you are going to intervene, a social agency or whoever, whether it's an ambulance driver or whether it's a policeman, whoever, when you enter in and break into that family in one way or another - and I use, break in, in a soft way - then that violence is going to escalate the moment you leave. You have to be ready to make interventions.

[Page 8254]

I could go on, Mr. Speaker, and I want to give my time to the honourable member. I just want to say that the development and enrichment of outreach and other support programs, in concert with the current programs we have, leave the programs as we have them but get busy and develop and enrich the programs for outreach. Not to tear down the fragile system that has been such a struggle to get to where we are today to address the fallout within our communities of family violence.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Cape Breton Nova, you have about six minutes.

MR. PAUL MACEWAN: Mr. Speaker, time is limited, therefore I will get straight to the heart of this matter if I can. I was shocked at the heartless attitude displayed by the Minister of Justice in his response to the motion. I didn't expect this move from this government. I know they have done many strange things; they closed the steel plant in Sydney, they declared war on the New Waterford Hospital, they declared non-confidence in many programs and institutions that I had thought we had all-Party agreement on in this province. I half expected them, in my instinct, to come down on social assistance or community services-type programs, and they have to a certain extent, and I was not particularly aghast when they did that, because it seemed to me to be where they were coming from. This particular move here, I can't understand where they are coming from.

Mr. Speaker, I believe there are two principles that apply in politics. I believe, as Abraham Lincoln did, in government of, for and by the people. I think that in order to have government of, for and by the people, you have to have government with a heart. The previous speaker just before me served for a number of years as Minister of Community Services in this province when our Party was in power. The fact that he can stand in this House and speak from his conscience, from the heart, without having to bat an eyelid or flinch in any way with embarrassment for what he did when he served in that office, speaks for itself. When he served, he served with dedication, yes, and with commitment to the programs that he had inherited from the past labours of those who had come before him.

This minister also has that responsibility, Mr. Speaker. It would be improper to name as Minister of Transportation and Public Works, for example, a person who has pledged to destroy the public highway system. You just wouldn't do it. You wouldn't appoint as Minister of Natural Resources someone who was opposed to their continued existence. It doesn't make any sense to me for a government to embark on a program of attacking, destroying and undermining those services we have in our society because of a common consensus that has developed as time unfolded that yes, they are necessary.

This Minister of Justice speaks about the need to allocate scarce dollars in a cost-effective way. Mr. Speaker, if he really believed in that, he would insist that his colleagues in the Cabinet spend the $200-some-odd million that they have squirrelled away for future use, God knows when, for environmental remediation projects in Sydney, because anybody

[Page 8255]

who reads a daily newspaper would know that there is serious environmental contamination in Sydney right now that the people are concerned and upset about, and require action from government on, no matter what government it is. If it were a Liberal Government that were doing the same thing, I would have to stand up and criticize that, because when you budget money to be spent on things that the people need, it's then your duty and responsibility to go out and spend it. So they're sitting on some $200-odd million that they have tucked away in the bank to balance their budget, and they're not spending that money when it's needed down in Sydney.

On the other hand, in the realm of providing support for our women and children, they're trying to pit one kind of institution and approach against another. The defence of the Minister of Justice for his government's action was legalistic, as if he were citing the provisions of canon law, saying, see the regulations that we've passed? See the laws we've passed? They will meet the need, never mind institutions.

Mr. Speaker, if you take that kind of approach, where would the hospitals of this province stand? Where would the schools of this province stand if a minister could get up and say, well, look at all the regulations and laws that we've passed; they will meet the educational needs of our children. We don't need to have schools anymore; shut them down. You can't condone that kind of an approach with government.

It is the duty of all of us, irrespective of political Party, to stand up and defend those things that we have in our province that we need. I know that in the area that I come from, there's a Cape Breton Transition House. I met the executive director of it this morning; her name is Bea LeBlanc. Whether her home is actually threatened right now with closure or not, I don't know. She didn't tell me that. I'm sure if they come to that conclusion they will let me know very quickly. I don't think that type of facility should be threatened in any way.

I don't think that they should have to burn the midnight oil figuring out tonight whether they're going to be able to remain in existence after June 30th or not. I think they should take that for granted with whatever government we have, be it Conservative or Liberal or New Democrat or something else - if it was Bloc Quebecois. I think we should be able to agree that those governments would support those programs. If they don't, what else can we do but what we're doing right here, and that is try to make an appeal over the government's head to public consciousness, public opinion, and the community at large.

[7:15 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, when you're in government, and I think I know something of this - before I take my seat - you make your bed; you have to lie in it. All governments stand ultimately answerable to the people. All governments, unless they abolish elections, which hasn't taken place yet in this province, have to answer to the electorate. They will stand

[Page 8256]

answerable for what they do and it's not that far away. Every day that passes we're one day closer to the next provincial election.

Mr. Speaker, if my time has expired, there will be other opportunities to explore these important matters.

MR. SPEAKER: Lots of opportunities, thank you very much.

The honourable Minister of Community Services.

HON. PETER CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, I'm pleased to be able to join in this debate tonight. As the honourable member said today, this debate is best done here as opposed to being in Question Period or Estimates, and I think we all agree on that. What we have said and what we have undertaken is to do a redesign of family violence and outreach programs. That's what we have said and we welcome the opportunity to do that.

To explain factually what is being proposed here, here are a few of the facts. This fiscal year the Department of Community Services will undertake a redesign of family violence and outreach programs in Nova Scotia. These include programs for transitional houses, women's centres and men's treatment programs. We have put forward to the people who are going to join us next week a draft document of a model of redesign and some things that we want to have a look at. That is in preparation of next week's meeting as they asked us to do. They asked us to have a meeting with them, we have done that and we have put forward our draft document. I will repeat, that is a draft document for discussion only.

There is one thing I would like to make clear here in this discussion. As the Minister of Justice has indicated, this government is very concerned and committed about the safety of women and children, and that we will not have changed. Our commitment is strong to that particular objective. We think this redesign will maintain that focus on the safety of women and children as we move forward and it will also be able to provide an opportunity to look at enhancing outreach programs. We have to be sure that public dollars are spent wisely.

Right now, we do not have a coordinated system. By involving the sector to redesign we believe our goal is to achieve both a coordinated approach and a more effective service delivery system. As you know and as I've mentioned, we will be meeting with representatives next week. We need to have a serious exchange about this development and how this model is going to be developed. We need to have a serious discussion about the core programs, but we also have to have a serious discussion about how we will do the system that will be available to all women and children in Nova Scotia, available across the whole province. We will discuss with them our ideas, ideas born out of the analyses of service trends we've been seeing across the province.

[Page 8257]

The issues that have led to this discussion of redesign are not new. Our community partners that we've been involved with have known this for some time and we've had discussions with them over the years. The honourable members have indicated times when transition houses and/or women's centres have had to come and say we're not able to achieve our budget - could you help us out? This House last year had the questions and had discussions surrounding Bryony House and some of the issues, and we were able to come to an arrangement to assist them as they moved forward.

We will be discussing these ideas and these ideas will be born out of the service trends and the analyses that we've seen. The issues which lead to these designs are issues of occupancy rates, they're issues of needing more services, they're issues of geographical areas. We will consult with this sector and that was always a given. As you look at the draft document that we've put out, the draft document indicated we were going to have the discussions in our regions, the discussions were going to take place and before anything was going to happen - and it would be in September if we were able to achieve that - we would have those discussions.

Our goal is to ensure that no person in need of service goes without. We have seen an overall decrease in the number of women and children seeking the services of transition houses and an increase in the request for additional outreach services. We know in this sector that there are low occupancy levels in some areas, but low occupancy levels aren't the only issues as I mentioned before. The redesign will take that into consideration. It's about ensuring we have a continuum of services to provide services for families in crisis involved in abusive situations. One way is to address that by expanding outreach service. Outreach services provide consulting and assistance to women. It may help them find housing or employment or child care in addition to providing women with a safe place to go. The redesign will ensure the safety of women and children remain our first priority. The redesign will consider the occupancy rates, geographical area and factors such as what various other services may be available in certain areas.

I would like to take a few minutes to discuss the draft document which proposed the model to redesign family and children's services. I would like to point out, as I mentioned, that this is a draft document and, as people reading it can see, it is nothing that is carved in stone. It is a starting point. It is a point that Community Services put out to say, where are we going to start in this discussion? You have to start somewhere and we put that too. There had to be a starting point for this discussion and I can agree with the members opposite that this debate is the place to have that and, while we look at the design, it is the place to bring the document and to look at it. The best place for discussion, and we agree with all the members opposite, is for the sector itself. Discussions are planned, as I indicated, for this month and we will have those discussions as we request for this sector.

[Page 8258]

To help that debate and discussion, I think it is really important that we look at the facts. The facts are that we have a collection of programs in the field of family violence that have been developed over the last 20 years. We have never looked at those services from the perspective of one system and how they will be integrated, and we believe the time has come to do that. We also have to recognize the demand for services, and the state of communities have changed. In the last 10 years, Mr. Speaker, the occupancy rates of transitional houses have declined by 11.5 per cent and the occupancy rate for children has dropped 33 per cent for the same period. Six of the nine transitional houses have occupancy rates of less than 50 per cent. Clearly, the need was there, but the transitional houses were established in 1978 and have changed. Changes in the justice system have addressed some of those issues on family violence. Other programs have developed to serve the various trends and other needs.

The model that has been proposed for discussion takes into account the standards put forward by the Transition House Association of Nova Scotia, as well as a standard for men's intervention programs and the strategic planning goals of women's centres and other areas. The model incorporates core program requirement, 24-hour emergency service accommodations seven days a week, that means a minimum of one transitional house per region; and a 24-hour regional crisis line. In addition, consideration will be given to components above and beyond the core requirements, including, for example, providing safe houses or apartments for short-term stays in areas where there are none, developing enhanced outreach programs providing services, counselling and group work for women and children experiencing domestic violence, performing support and counselling services to children.

Mr. Speaker, as I have said in this House many times, no decision has yet been made on which services will be changed. Again, we are not talking only of transitional houses - the family violence and outreach programs, and women's centres, and men's treatment programs. When we addressed this on Budget Day we talked about consultation. What I had said is that I had the opportunity to visit a number of the transition houses, women's centres and men's programs around this province.

MR. JOHN HOLM: . . . make an impression . . .

MR. CHRISTIE: . . . the honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid said, did they make an impression? They certainly have and I think, if the honourable member had had the opportunity to attend Talbot House, a men's centre outside of Sydney, you could not help but be moved and affected by that, because that program is very extensive and offers a wide variety of things. That's one of the other areas that Community Services supports as part of our grant program. I have met with these representatives as we've travelled across the province. The trend toward these lower occupancy rates, we need to speak to.

Mr. Speaker, we always need to look at our programs and services to see if they are effective and if we can deliver them more effectively. We really do need to see that every dollar is effectively spent. Our current programs, designed for servicing and staffing around

[Page 8259]

the clock, are some things we have to look at; transition houses that have less than 50 per cent occupancy. We need to do that to make sure that we are being effective in our delivery programs.

The new design will have to reflect the operational needs of each region. The input of service providers and the priorities of the department will have to be involved in that. As we've mentioned before, discussion with that sector will start next week. We will have to listen to what they say, and we will continue to consult with them over the next months and weeks as we develop the model to go forward. Together we will develop the next system that brings the efficiency and the co-ordination that we want. (Interruptions)

The purpose of redesigning community services is to make the program more effective for those in need. For part of this design, it is important we are able to put the services and programs on a sustainable, financial foundation. That means we have to make things effective and spend every dollar as wisely as we can.

Mr. Speaker, in closing, I ask that members of this House to remember, first, that no decision has been made yet; and second, community consultation with the sector will begin next week, and (Interruptions)

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

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. I can't help but get up on this one. The minister is saying no decisions have been made, yet his budget has been introduced to reduce $890,000 from that area. Obviously $890,000 worth of decisions have been made by this minister and his Tory Cabinet colleagues, and it is misleading for him to say that no decisions have been made.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. That is not a point of order, it's a disagreement over the facts.

The honourable Minister of Community Services, you have about two minutes.

MR. CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, when we introduced the model yesterday the question was, has the decision been made on how that model is to go forward. I will repeat again that no decisions have been made as to the model and how we are going to go forward until we have the discussions with the sector. We will begin consultation with the various members of the sector to ensure that we're providing those services that each region needs.

At the end of the day, we do not think that the models that develop in each region will be the same because each region has different requirements, each region has different geographical requirements, and each region has different areas that they need. I would say thank you, Mr. Speaker.

[Page 8260]

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

MR. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, there are many corrections to be made in that dissertation by that minister. What I want to correct off the top is that he leaves out large pockets of information, not the least of which was when he talked about Bryony House. Bryony House wasn't met with and their funding wasn't increased until they went to the media to get a meeting with this minister. This minister didn't come to them. They couldn't even get to him; they had to go through the media to get to him. So let's be sure about that.

The other side of this that bothers me greatly, as some of my colleagues have mentioned, this is clearly a political decision, a decision while we know that our Premier is recuperating from surgery but is still keeping his wary eye on the helm, we hope. He's the guy who could pull this back. He's the fellow who gave the orders, and he can say stop this lunacy - he's the fellow where it sits at.

And fellow is a good word here, Mr. Speaker. There are many statistics to look at in and around what's happening here with this government, but some of the things around abused women, 47 per cent of men who abuse women will do it three times a year, on average. Another thing to consider here is one in four men are abusers. I want you to think of this, Mr. Speaker, in these terms: if we subtract the amount of women in this room and the amount of unattached males - who do not have partners or may not be dating - we come, roughly, to the figure of 44; we'll just say that is close. That means that within these walls, there is a possibility of 11 abusers, if you use the average - 11 abusers within the walls here. These are things we have to think about, Mr. Speaker, when this government makes these decisions.

[7:30 p.m.]

We heard the Minister of Justice talk about how it is about choices. Well, certainly it is about choices; it is about straight-ahead looking at a fiscal deficit or helping and looking at a social deficit, Mr. Speaker. This government just wants to continue to tear down the social fabric of this province so it can go and beat its chest about an allegedly balanced budget.

AN HON. MEMBER: Which isn't balanced.

MR. CORBETT: Well, that is why I used the word allegedly.

Mr. Speaker, the minister can stand in his place all he wants and say that there have been no decisions made on what is going to be cut, but we do know there are going to be cuts. There are going to be 890,000-some cuts. That is the reality of it. That is where we are going with this. There are backbenchers who can help to close that. As a matter of fact, there are even some people on the front benches who can change that.

[Page 8261]

The Minister of Finance can revisit this, Mr. Speaker. There are many on the front benches who can say what an ill-conceived idea this is. You know, we have three female members across the way who could see this and say no, this is not right, yet they want to go hand in hand. The member for Kings North, who often stands in this House and waxes poetic about the straits the poor find themselves in in this province, he could stand in here on his own feet and say no, this is enough; I have swallowed Bill No. 68; I have swallowed this other anti-Nova Scotian garbage that you are trying to stuff down our throats and, as a backbencher, I am not going to take this anymore. I am going to stand up and say there is more than just a physical deficit in this province; there is a social deficit that this government just doesn't get.

Mr. Speaker, it causes me great pain when I see how the disadvantaged have to come to this House every time to try to get this government to see their position. You know, when the Minister of Finance goes out and, as we prefer to call it, sells the budget to the public, does this minister or this Premier go out and meet with Leeside Transition House in Port Hawkesbury or Bryony House? Does he go and meet with those people, the executive directors and the people around those houses all across this province? No. Where does this government go? It goes to its friends; it goes to its chambers of commerce and its boards of trade, where the millionaires sit, where they think that lumping almost $900,000 off a budget is - aw, what the heck, this is nothing.

Mr. Speaker, it is something. It is something to a person who, if they can't access a shelter at night, if they can't access programs and this is what is happening out here. You know, it makes me extremely angry when members stand up on the other side and talk about the importance of the family. It is almost like that family, if it is not your Tory version of the nuclear family, is not important.

Mr. Speaker, no child asks to be born into poverty, no child asks to be born as a son or a daughter in an abusive relationship, but that's the way it ends up. This government doesn't seem to care about those people. It seems that it's much more important to this government to get a lousy bottle of ink from the Board of Trade or the Chamber of Commerce, that's more important to them. They care more about a bottle of black ink than a woman's black eye and that's despicable. This government should realize that. This government talks about what our statistics were, but it's not good enough.

Mr. Speaker, if there's a threat of this government, this government didn't come to this realization that this was wrong until these groups pushed and pushed, got us as the Opposition Parties involved, to bring it to the floor, to bring it to an emergency debate. I've been in this House now for about four years and I think this is only about the third or fourth emergency debate we've been involved with. So it tells you of the gravity of the situation and for the minister to merely say, well, there have been no real cuts decided yet, but there has been a decision. It's a matter of we're cutting the pie. All we're debating about now is it apple, blueberry or cherry, that's all this minister knows.

[Page 8262]

Mr. Speaker, these ain't statistics. These are real people who this government has to realize that they're hurting. It's fine to go out and tell the business community, well, we've done it, we've done it, we've balanced your precious books and then the next day open the newspaper and read about a tragedy in a domestic situation. I want this government to realize that, that every day when they open those newspapers and they read about something that happened in a home, that that's part of their so-called budget surplus. That's who's helping them to get their so-called fudge-it-budget in order. That's the type of people that we're dealing with.

Mr. Speaker, I want this government to go on notice that this Party will hound this government every step of the way if it tries to keep going forward with these foolish cuts, cuts that aren't going to help anybody. It's not a rationalization. The minister says in one breath we haven't decided what to cut, then he says it's a rationalization of where our funds are going to go. Well, that only leads to one conclusion, that he's decided where they're going to go and where he is going to take them from. That's the only rational conclusion you can come to and then he stood in this House and he told members of this House that he consulted. He didn't consult in any meaningful way. Did he give someone out in front of the library a quarter and figured he had conversed with the homeless? Is that his idea?

Mr. Speaker, these are major concerns. If this minister was truly responsible to these people, he would go to his Cabinet colleagues and get a message to his Premier and say stop the nonsense, this merry-go-round ride is silly, for God's sake, stop taking on these people, do the right thing, renew the funding, don't cut it, allow these people to do the very good work, the fine work they do, and do you know what? If 10 beds go unused a night, so what? I would hope none of the beds are used, but what's this minister going to do? Is he going to return a woman back to her home that has been ransacked by an abusive partner? Is that what we want? Is that where we're going to send her, when there's not a window in it, when he has thrown the sofa out on the lawn? Thank you. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Lunenburg West.

MR. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, tonight I am here to speak in regard to the emergency debate on what is being proposed by the Minister of Community Services with regard to the potential closing, and I will say closing of facilities that are used by individuals in this province who are being abused.

I've listened to the debate tonight, and I've listened to our colleagues on this side of the House, both New Democrats and Liberals, and what appears to be being said to the government benches is that we're talking about people, we're talking about people who are abused. We're talking about women primarily, and children who are in environments that are unsafe; we're talking about women and children who fear for their lives and fear for their own safety. Sometimes we talk about the physical abuse, but there's also psychological

[Page 8263]

abuse, there's sexual abuse. There are all sorts of abuses out there affecting people in our communities.

I entered politics and I remember, some 10 years ago, talking about politics is all about people, and the priority about where people fit into the responsibility of government. Yes, governments have a responsibility for fiscal matters and about economic matters, but government has a responsibility about the social safety net of society. This government is making choices, and they're talking about priorities. It's interesting, they talk about bed utilizations, occupancy rates as if it's a hotel we're talking about here. We're talking about a facility where people who are being abused can go to that gives them the ability to have safety.

Now as a man, as a male, I don't have that fear in my life. I have that fear if I go somewhere where there's a bunch of individuals where I could get beat up, then all of a sudden I understand the area of fear, but there are women and children who are living in environments every day who live in that fear. They talk about 47 per cent of the women who are being abused going to these shelters, what about the 53 per cent who are scared to go, who cannot go?

I've been fortunate. I was brought up in a home where love and caring and compassion has been a part of what we were brought up to be and to have. We were taught about respect and about compassion for other people. I believe that's the role of government in regard to the overall governance of the Province of Nova Scotia. The government has a $5 billion budget, and the Minister of Community Services has a budget of some $649 million, and we're talking about the cut of $890,000 and the impact it can have on men's centres, women's centre, safe houses, transition facilities. You ask yourself the question, where is this government's priority?

They're going after facilities because of their criteria of utilization. They're not talking about what are we doing about women and children who are being physically, psychologically, and sexually abused. My colleague across the floor gets up and talks about court orders and all this sort of stuff. Maybe that sounds fine to some people, but what about the women who tonight are scared to go home, or scared to be home, because somebody is going to come home half-drunk, or ticked off, or mad at something and will take out their insecurity or their frustration on the children and the women in that house?

We can't fix all the problems in society. We have a member that was of the clergy, who realize you cannot fix all the problems of society, but taking away the social safety net for individuals who will reach out for help is not the answer.

[Page 8264]

[7:45 p.m.]

I have been told today by representatives down home, and whether it is true or not we will wait and see, that on June 30th Harbour House will close in Bridgewater. I have heard that on June 30th Second Story could very well be shut down because the funding is tied in with Harbour House. The men's centres, that are equally important in the South Shore, could very well be shut down. I, as a member - whether I am a politician or not, as a member of my community - as a person who cares about people, I am concerned about what is going to happen to those individuals who have used the facilities of Harbour House and Second Story. We can have all the laws in the world, Minister of Justice, you can have all the protocols and things in the world, but if you have a woman and a child who are being abused and there is no place to go, what do you say about that? Give them a court order, a restraining order? How many restraining orders really answer the problem to the women who are scared to go downtown in Bridgewater, or anywhere else, because they know those people stalk them, those men stalk them, they have no place to hide.

I entered this political arena for one reason, and that is to try to make this province a better place and try to do my part to achieve that. This particular bill, what we are talking about tonight, and the Minister of Community Services understands all too well, I have had him down in Bridgewater, he has toured Harbour House, I have talked to him about the needs of Harbour House and Second Story, I have talked to him about the needs for men's centres as well. We are prepared tonight in this debate to hear the rebuttal by the Minister of Justice who says that women want to be left in their homes. Well, I don't know what women he talks to but some of the people I have talked to who have been abused don't want to be home, they are scared to be home but they are forced to be home because they can't get out. They can't just go out and jump in a car and drive away. These people live in fear. The one safety net they had is that they had a home where they know they could have gone and be protected and protect their children. Now that facility is threatened to be gone, threatened to be shut down.

I say to the government, where are your priorities? We talk about Bill No. 68 and all the fiasco about Bill No. 68 when we talk about taking away rights and all that sort of stuff. We are talking here today about rights of individual women and children who, sad to say in our society, today are being abused. Instead of trying to say we want to find facilities and help to make it go away, we seem to be saying we would rather shut it down so that in our minds it has gone away. It is like saying, put it in a closet and we will forget that it exists.

Well, you know you can't put this issue in a closet; you can't close the door and hope it goes away because it isn't going away. We have a responsibility, as a society, to educate, to help, to nurture and to assist those members of society who need our help.

[Page 8265]

It is great to have a debate but, Mr. Minister, why are these people here today? Are they here today because they trust that debate will mean that we are going to do more to help people? They are here because they feel that you are going to shut down the facilities that are providing those benefits to women and children and men in our society.

I had a member from the opposite side - I won't mention his name - say to me, well, thank goodness my centre is being utilized a lot but if I were you I would be worried about yours because it is not being used every night. Well, I say, I can understand what that member is saying but the reality is that we, as a society and members of the Nova Scotia community have a social responsibility to look after our neighbours, whether they are in the Valley or the South Shore or Cape Breton or Cumberland County or Halifax. When we neglect that responsibility as a society, then we say that politics is not about people, politics is about somebody's agenda that doesn't care about people and that is why I ask you, Mr. Minister . . .

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

The honourable member for Kings North.

MR. MARK PARENT: Mr. Speaker, I wasn't going to speak tonight, but I've really been impressed by the level of debate and the sincerity of the Opposition on this issue. I've been critical, sometimes, of the level of debate in this House and perhaps have caused you a few heartburns now and then and, yet, tonight, the level of debate has been very compelling. So I thought that I would try to stammer out a few words on a very important topic and a topic that I feel sincerely about, as I know that the others who have stayed here tonight do, as well.

It is also an opportunity for me to speak about the importance of Chrysalis House in my riding of Kentville. Chrysalis House is a house that operates 365 days a year, 24 hours a day and any woman who has been abused or fears abuse can go there with her children and stay there for up to six weeks. My church has supported Chrysalis House. Our Christmas Eve service, which is open to the community, we feel that the offering at the service should not be used for the church, so we have divided it between Chrysalis House and Fidelis House. I was reading a news bulletin about Acadia University and the staff and students there that have done the same thing to help Chrysalis House. So it is not just myself that feels strongly about it. It's something that's supported by our community.

So I wanted to have that chance just to put that on the record, Mr. Speaker, the point that the Director of Chrysalis House is a well-respected person in the community, Mary DeWolfe. She's a passionate defender of women and children who have been abused and has given her life to try to help that and actually has gone so far as to run politically for the New Democratic Party because of her passion for this and for other social justice issues. So she's put herself on the line and she has my respect for that.

[Page 8266]

I do want to respond very quickly to three things that were said and just give my viewpoint. I know that I won't be agreed with, but it is an opportunity to do so. One is, I do agree that the domestic violence legislation is moving in the right direction, whether it is successful or not, and we need to build in police protection. I do think that it is important that instead of having the victim to be victimized again by having to move out of their home, if we can find some way to protect and encourage them and to keep them in their home with their children, to allow the children to go to their school, that that is the way to go. I agree there are many problems with that and I agree that there are lots of issues around that that perhaps we haven't thought through very carefully yet, but I think that is the step.

The second issue I want to address is we do have a social deficit in this province. We have one in this country. We have one in this world. I cannot get my head around though how increasing the financial deficit will lower the social deficit. I listen and I look forward to that. I really do listen with interest because I am not very good at sort of balancing figures. I left that up to the treasurer. I would much rather spend the money and yet, as I listen, I don't know how increasing that debt how that will leave us with the resources to help deal with these issues.

The third thing that was raised that I want to address was raised by the member for Dartmouth East. I hope that this is not true that Tories are heartless. I don't think it's true. Historically, Gad Harowitz of a seminal sort of academic has stated that the difference between Canada and the United States is this - as he calls it - this Tory touch, this emphasis on the good of the society rather than the sort of rugged individualism of the United States. I hope we don't lose that and I hope that that criticism is not true.

The last thing I want to speak about is that I'm glad - I'm not glad - I mean sad we're debating something like this, but it's important we put the emphasis and we raise the issue of violence, not just against women, not just against children, not just against men, but violence in our society as a whole; in school - we've talked about that as well and violence in the world. I know all the members here, like me, are terribly worried about the level of violence that we've seen in the Middle East. I think that it's important we do have this debate about violence and about how to deal effectively with it. It's a complex issue and so I want to thank you for these few moments I've had just to put my thoughts on the record and to respond to some of the things that have been said and I appreciate that. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid. You have about three and a half minutes.

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, it isn't nearly enough time to say what I'd like to say. I have to respond to a couple of things though which was said by the previous speaker and one of them is he said he doesn't know how increasing the deficit is going to in itself, help to reduce the amount of family violence. You tell me how reducing the amount of money that is going to go into those programs that are aimed at assisting those who are the

[Page 8267]

victims of family violence, how eliminating and cutting back those programs that are aimed at assisting men who want to get treatment so that they won't continue with those kind of practices, you tell me how that is going to reduce any deficit?

The member spoke - and I'm sure he spoke very sincerely about his concerns about family violence. I have also spoken to other members on the Tory caucus who do not agree with what is happening. They won't, and they haven't, stood up and said so publicly, but there are members of the Tory benches who privately will tell you that this is one of the stupidest things that they have ever seen their government do; and they don't support the front benches. I don't know if the Premier has Eastlink and has cable access and is watching this tonight, but you can be darn sure that his minions are watching it. Those whose job it is to keep track of what goes on in this House and keep the Premier briefed, they know what's going on and they will be briefing the Premier. I say to the Premier, who for very legitimate reasons can't be here, but I say it through you, Mr. Speaker, and through those who will be reporting back, he is ultimately responsible.

It's about choices. The Premier can resolve this issue. He may not be here, but he can issue an edict from his home to the Minister of Finance, to the Minister of Community Services and say, put that money back. Do not fool around with those programs, especially when you haven't even got anything to put in its place. He can do that and he damn well should do that. I have not been hearing anybody other than from a few Tory members who have been pushing in support this asinine program that is being put forward by this minister.

But it's not only that minister. Every single member of the Tory caucus, every one of you bears equal responsibility with the Minister of Community Services if you support what is being proposed in that budget. You have a choice, each and every Tory member has a choice of saying, no, I will not vote for that unless this critical issue is resolved and resolved favourably. They can do that.

But do you know what? The backbenchers outnumber the front. They weren't involved in drafting this budget. Like us, it was presented to them as a done deal. It's time that those backbenchers get some spine and say, we will not support that. It's in their hands.

MR. SPEAKER: Time has expired for the emergency debate this evening. I'd like to thank all honourable members for taking part in the debate this evening.

The House is adjourned until tomorrow morning at 9:00 a.m.

[The House rose at 8:00 p.m.]

[Page 8268]

NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3)

RESOLUTION NO. 3057

By: Mr. William Dooks (Eastern Shore)

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

Whereas firefighters are summoned in times of need, regardless of the time of day or night; and

Whereas the Three Harbour-Port Dufferin Volunteer Fire Department, under the capable leadership of Chief Michael Butler, answers in the neighbourhood of 30 to 35 alarms a year; and

Whereas a community without the dedication of volunteer firefighters would be a community at great risk because of the uncertainty of when an emergency can arise;

Therefore be it resolved that MLAs commend Chief Michael Butler and firefighters from the Three Harbour-Port Dufferin Volunteer Fire Department for their excellent responses in times of need while wishing them continued success.

RESOLUTION NO. 3058

By: Mr. Timothy Olive (Dartmouth South)

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

Whereas metro's joint Prostitution Task Force and the Halifax Police Vice Unit are working hard to get johns and prostitutes off the streets of metro; and

Whereas the success of the task force has been largely due to the overwhelming support it has received from concerned citizens, especially those living in the affected areas in our community; and

Whereas their work involves assisting many of these offenders through programs designed to steer them away from prostitution and help them get their lives back on track;

Therefore be it resolved that this House applaud the efforts of the anti-prostitution task force and the community members that have dedicated time to helping the task force offer those involved in the prostitution trade a better choice in life.