Assemblée Législative de la Nouvelle-Écosse

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21 septembre 2017

HANSARD 01/02-90

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

TUESDAY, APRIL 23, 2002

TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE
GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 3328, Arthritis Soc. (N.S. Div.): Goldbloom Roast - Congrats.,
Hon. J. Muir 8680
Vote - Affirmative 8680
Res. 3329, Authors (Can.): Achievement - Recognize, Hon. J. Purves 8680
Vote - Affirmative 8681
Res. 3330, Gaming Corp. - Responsible Gaming: Promotion -
Congrats., Hon. N. LeBlanc 8681
Vote - Affirmative 8682
Res. 3331, Anna. East Elem. Sch. - Peaceful Schools Int'l.: Induction -
Congrats., Hon. J. Purves 8682
Vote - Affirmative 8682
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS:
No. 122, Police Act, Mr. K. Deveaux 8683
No. 123, Halifax Regional Municipality Harbour Solutions
Financing Act, Hon. J. Purves 8683
NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 3332, Commun. Serv. - Child Protection Services: Cuts - Stop,
Mr. D. Dexter 8683
Res. 3333, Nomination Papers - Signing: Cameron, D. - Wisdom,
Mr. Manning MacDonald 8684
Res. 3334, Time Out Prog.: Projects - Commend, Mr. C. Clarke 8685
Vote - Affirmative 8685
Res. 3335, MTT - Directory Assist. Fees: Sackville - Exempt.,
Mr. J. Holm 8685
Vote - Affirmative 8686
Res. 3336, Deuchene, Natasha/Harmon, Corey - Gov.-Gen's. Youth
^^Forum: Attendance - Congrats., Mr. D. Downe 8686
Vote - Affirmative 8687
Res. 3337, King, Martin Luther, Jr., Peace Award - Bell Acad. Ctr.:
Recipients - Congrats., Mr. D. Hendsbee 8687
Vote - Affirmative 8688
Res. 3338, Health: Budget Choices - Reconsider,
Ms. Maureen MacDonald 8688
Res. 3339, Comeau, Philip - Charities: Contributions - Congrats.,
Mr. W. Gaudet 8688
Vote - Affirmative 8689
Res. 3340, Benjamin, Gillian: MANS Pub. Speaking Contest -
Congrats., Mr. M. Parent 8689
Vote - Affirmative 8690
Res. 3341, Educ.: Library Policy - Effect, Mr. K. Deveaux 8690
Res. 3342, Pharmacare - Increases: Gov't. (N.S.) - Responsibility
Recognize, Dr. J. Smith 8691
Res. 3343, Shubenacadie Canal: Hist. Significance - Recognize,
Mr. T. Olive 8691
Vote - Affirmative 8692
Res. 3344, Sports: St. Margarets Bay Basketball League - Congrats.,
Mr. W. Estabrooks 8692
Vote - Affirmative 8693
Res. 3345, Sysco - Remediation: Gov't. (N.S.) - Action, Mr. P. MacEwan 8693
Res. 3346, New Germany Dinner Theatre - Congrats., Hon. M. Baker 8694
Vote - Affirmative 8694
Res. 3347, Kings-Hants NDP: Public Forum Series - Congrats.,
Mr. J. MacDonell 8694
Res. 3348, Chandler, Perry/Strait Area Chamber of Commerce -
Congrats., Mr. M. Samson 8695
Vote - Affirmative 8696
Res. 3349, Wentzell, Ms. Ashley - Interchange on Can. Studies:
Attendance - Congrats., Mr. F. Chipman 8696
Vote - Affirmative 8697
Res. 3350, Pet. Dir.: - Gas Dist.: Rules - Explain, Mr. J. Holm 8697
Res. 3351, Centennial Cup: Tour (N.S.) - View, Mr. B. Boudreau 8698
Vote - Affirmative 8698
Res. 3352, MacKenzie, Charles/N.S. Cattlemen's Assoc. - Congrats.,
Mr. J. DeWolfe 8698
Vote - Affirmative 8699
Res. 3353, East. Pass.: Anniv. (250th) - Congrats., Mr. K. Deveaux 8699
Vote - Affirmative 8700
Res. 3354, Econ. Dev. - Min.: Role - Assume, Mr. P. MacEwan 8700
Res. 3355, St. George's Day (04/23/02) - Acknowledge, Mr. T. Olive 8701
Vote - Affirmative 8701
Res. 3356, Sports: Clare Acadiens Midget "A" Hockey Team -
Congrats., Mr. W. Gaudet 8701
Vote - Affirmative 8702
ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS:
No. 897, Commun. Serv. - Child Protection Workers: Layoffs -
Explain, Mr. D. Dexter 8702
No. 898, Commun. Serv. - Child Protection: Caseloads - Outcomes,
Mr. D. Wilson 8703
No. 899, Fin.: Casino Losses/Bed Closures - Correlation, Mr. G. Steele 8705
No. 900, Fin.: Debt Management Strategy - Genesis, Mr. D. Downe 8706
No. 901, PSC - Younger Employees: Recruitment - Plans, Mr. G. Steele 8708
No. 902, Environ. & Lbr. - Whites Cove Quarry: Dev. - Concerns,
Mr. R. MacKinnon 8709
No. 903, Educ. - P3 Schools: Commun. Usage - Availability,
Mr. W. Estabrooks 8710
No. 904, Environ. & Lbr. - C.B. Highlands: Oil Spill - Responsibility,
Mr. K. MacAskill 8712
No. 905, Econ. Dev. - Child Protection Workers: Layoffs - Justify,
Mr. H. Epstein 8713
No. 906, Health - Strait Regional Hosp.: Emerg. Room - Plans,
Mr. M. Samson 8714
No. 907, Health - Hosp. Auxiliaries/Fdn. Members: Consultation -
Details, Ms. Maureen MacDonald 8716
No. 908, Health - Physicians: Ont. Recruitment - Prevent, Dr. J. Smith 8717
No. 909, Educ. - Strathspey Place: Loans - Details, Mr. K. Deveaux 8719
No. 910, Agric. & Fish.: Hub Meat Packers - Processing Alternatives,
Mr. D. Downe 8720
GOVERNMENT BUSINESS:
GOVERNMENT MOTIONS:
ON MOTION FOR SUPPLY:
Mr. J. Pye 8722
Mr. W. Gaudet 8726
Hon. J. Muir 8729
HOUSE RESOLVED INTO CWH ON SUPPLY AT 2:22 P.M. 8732
HOUSE RECONVENED AT 6:00 P.M. 8732
ADJOURNMENT:
MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5):
Sysco: Cleanup - Accelerate:
Mr. P. MacEwan 8732
Mr. F. Corbett 8735
Hon. G. Balser 8737
Mr. C. Clarke 8739
HOUSE RESOLVED INTO CWH ON SUPPLY AT 6:30 P.M. 8740
HOUSE RECONVENED AT 6:55 P.M. 8740
PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING:
No. 109, Financial Measures (2002) Act 8741
Amendment [debate resumed] 8741
Ms. Maureen MacDonald 8741
Adjourned debate 8753
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Wed., Apr. 24th at 11:00 a.m. 8753
NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3):
Res. 3357, Hadley, Ralph: Mulgrave Vol. of the Yr. - Congrats.,
Mr. Ronald Chisholm 8754
Res. 3358, Oxford Area Vol. FD - Winter Carnival Pageant:
Royal Fam. - Congrats., The Speaker 8754
Res. 3359, Springhill HS - Winter Carnival Pageant: Royal Court -
Congrats., The Speaker 8755
Res. 3360, Mattinson, MWO Bonnie: Scholarship - Congrats.,
The Speaker 8755
Res. 3361, Springhill HS - Science Fair: Engineering Winners -
Congrats., The Speaker 8756
Res. 3362, Springhill HS - Science Fair: Research Winners -
Congrats., The Speaker 8756
Res. 3363, Springhill HS - Science Fair: Life Science Winners -
Congrats., The Speaker 8757
Res. 3364, Taylor, Ms. Alison: Da Costa Award - Congrats.,
Mr. T. Olive 8757
Res. 3365, MacArthur, Heather: Da Costa Award - Congrats.,
Hon. D. Morse 8758

[Page 8679]

HALIFAX, TUESDAY, APRIL 23, 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. Before we begin the daily routine, the subject for this evening's late debate was submitted by the honourable member for Cape Breton Nova:

Therefore be it resolved that has specifically booked $250 million for cleanup of the Sysco site, therefore the government should accelerate the cleanup process instead of the go-slow approach we see today.

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

We will begin the daily routine.

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

8679

[Page 8680]

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Health.

RESOLUTION NO. 3328

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

Whereas the Arthritis Society, Nova Scotia Division, held its 13th Annual Roast on April 22, 2002, and the roastees were Dr. Richard Goldbloom and Dr. Ruth Goldboom; and

Whereas the 2002 roast was the most successful and, indeed, enjoyable event that had an attendance of 900 and raised $150,000; and

Whereas arthritis affects nearly one in seven Canadians, including more than 130,000 Nova Scotians and the Arthritis Society funds more than 70 per cent of all arthritis research in Canada;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate and thank the Arthritis Society, Nova Scotia Division, its volunteers, sponsors, and Richard and Ruth Goldbloom for an excellent, fun, fund-raising event and offer our support and encouragement in the fight against arthritis.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Education.

RESOLUTION NO. 3329

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

Whereas today is both Canada Book Day and World Book Day; and

[Page 8681]

Whereas our Nova Scotian and Canadian storytellers not only entertain and enlighten us, they help define us as a people; and

Whereas this afternoon CBC will announce the winner of its Canada Reads contest in which Nova Scotia author George Elliott Clarke's novel, Whylah Falls, is a finalist;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize the achievements of Canadian authors and pledge to join all Nova Scotians in reading more of their works.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Finance.

RESOLUTION NO. 3330

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

Whereas the Nova Scotia Gaming Corporation has been selected from 118 submissions as presenters at an international responsible gaming conference; and

Whereas Nova Scotia is being recognized as an industry leader in the area of responsible gaming and the rest of the world is interested in the Gaming Corporation's approach; and

Whereas the Gaming Corporation is breaking untried and untested ground to discourage misuse of its products;

Therefore be it resolved that this House extend its congratulations to the Gaming Corporation on its progressive approach with respect to promoting responsible gaming.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 8682]

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

Is it agreed?

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Education.

RESOLUTION NO. 3331

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

Whereas Annapolis East Elementary School in Middleton is a longtime member of the League of Peaceful Schools; and

Whereas on October 16th the school was inducted into Peaceful Schools International; and

Whereas the school has been the subject of Learning Peace, a documentary about a year in the life of a school that is actively addressing the damaging effects of bullying and intimidation;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the students and staff of Annapolis East Elementary School on their exceptional work to make a school a peaceful place every day of the year.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Dartmouth North on an introduction.

[Page 8683]

MR. JERRY PYE: Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to rise today and introduce a number of individuals in the east gallery, over the Oppositions' heads, here. The individuals are Joan Jessome, who is the President of the NSGEU, and along with her are representatives from the children's protection workers of Dartmouth-Sackville, and the children's protection workers of Halifax Children's Aid Society. They are here to view the Legislature, but that's not their only purpose. They are here to meet with the Minister of Community Services and MLAs to discuss the future of child protection in Nova Scotia. I would give them a warm welcome. Thank you. (Applause)

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

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

Bill No. 122 - Entitled an Act Amend Chapter 348 of the Revised Statutes of 1989. The Police Act. (Mr. Kevin Deveaux)

Bill No. 123 - Entitled an Act to Provide for the Financing of the Halifax Harbour Solutions Project by the Halifax Regional Municipality. (Hon. Jane Purves as a private member.)

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

NOTICES OF MOTION

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

RESOLUTION NO. 3332

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

Whereas it has come to light that the Minister of Community Services has chosen to pare his budget by laying off child protection workers; and

Whereas this news follows on the heels of the minister cutting almost $900,000 from the budget for transition houses, women's centres and programs for abusive men, cuts he's been forced to back away from, at least for the time being; and

Whereas Nova Scotians can only ponder sadly the ethos of a government that seeks to plump its bottom line at the expense of services for the protection of the most vulnerable amongst us, our children;

[Page 8684]

Therefore be it resolved that this House demand that the Minister of Community Services honour his duty to protect children and stop the cuts he has instituted in the child protection services.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton South.

RESOLUTION NO. 3333

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

Whereas the MLA for Preston, in what has to be the most inventive way ever seen of getting into Cabinet, has taken up map-making in an effort to be rid of five of his Party colleagues; and

[12:15 p.m.]

Whereas a land-speed record was set last night by his fellow Tory members in their haste to deny support for the Preston MLA's gerrymandering; and

Whereas the MLA for Preston for some reason avoided the boundary hearing held in his own riding at the Black Cultural Centre, instead foisting his grand vision for Nova Scotians on an unsuspecting audience in Wolfville;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House recognize that when it comes to signing or not signing nomination papers, maybe Donnie Cameron had it right. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Did the honourable member request waiver? (Interruptions)

There has been a request for waiver.

Is it agreed?

[Page 8685]

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton North.

RESOLUTION NO. 3334

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

Whereas thanks to the Time Out Program in Sydney, Canadian troops serving in Afghanistan will receive some much-appreciated care packages; and

Whereas the Time Out Program, hosted by Sydney's First United Church, is a volunteer-run initiative that offers various courses for a small fee, which it uses on church maintenance and other community ventures; and

Whereas this program, which teaches crafts and skills, is also a social group and offers fellowship while presenting an opportunity for participants to contribute to their community;

Therefore be it resolved that this House commend the Time Out Program for remembering our soldiers in Afghanistan and wish its members fulfillment and success with all of their projects.

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 Sackville-Cobequid.

RESOLUTION NO. 3335

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

[Page 8686]

Whereas MTT customers should reasonably expect that the telephone directory they pay for as part of their service will be accurate; and

Whereas MTT blundered and lists Sackville telephone numbers under Prospect Road in its new directory; and

Whereas despite an assertion from a company spokesperson that "Our customers come first," MTT does not intend to reprint its 2002 directory to correct its blunder due to the increased costs that would result for the company;

Therefore be it resolved that this House does not believe MTT should benefit financially from its blunder in producing inaccurate telephone directories and urge it to waive directory assistance fees for customers seeking Sackville-area telephone numbers and return fees paid by businesses to be listed in the Sackville section.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Lunenburg West.

RESOLUTION NO. 3336

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

Whereas Natasha Deuchene and Cory Harmon of Park View Education Centre attended the first Governor General's Youth Forum in Ottawa from February 13th to February 17th; and

Whereas the two students were selected as participants for their outstanding community work and the essays they submitted; and

Whereas Natasha and Cory joined over 100 students from across the country for four days of brainstorming on community building;

[Page 8687]

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Natasha and Cory for being selected to attend the first Governor General's Youth Forum in Ottawa and wish them well in their future endeavours.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Preston.

RESOLUTION NO. 3337

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

Whereas the second annual Martin Luther King Jr. Peace Awards were presented in February at the Bell Park Academic Centre; and

Whereas the awards are to honour students in Grade Primary to Grade 3 who exhibit outstanding achievement in the areas of citizenship and human rights; and

Whereas the winners of the awards this year are Quintana Colley, Nicole Hall, Alan Schneider and Channing Colley;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the Bell Park Academic Centre and these four young people on the receipt of the Martin Luther King Jr. Peace Award and for their demonstrated interest in protecting human rights and promoting citizenship.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

[Page 8688]

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. 3338

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

Whereas staff at the South Shore Regional Hospital feel that downsizing the children's wing of the hospital is asking for trouble; and

Whereas doctors at the hospital say their institution is currently running at 105 per cent capacity; and

Whereas nurses and doctors from the pediatric wing should have been consulted before any changes were proposed to their wing;

Therefore be it resolved that this Tory Government reconsider the bad budget choices it made that are now adversely affecting hospitals, nurses and doctors, and the people they serve on the South Shore of Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable Leader in the House of the Liberal Party.

RESOLUTION NO. 3339

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

Whereas the Clare community is very proud of its dedicated volunteers; and

[Page 8689]

Whereas this year the Clare community has selected one of its outstanding citizens as Volunteer of the Year, and this individual has given much in the way of time and energy to various organizations; and

Whereas through this individual's genuine warmth and caring towards others, he has become a valuable asset to the organizations that he is involved in;

Therefore be it resolved that this House extend its best wishes and congratulations to Philip Comeau of Church Point for his outstanding contributions to many charities and organizations throughout the Municipality of Clare.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Kings North.

RESOLUTION NO. 3340

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

Whereas Gillian Benjamin, a Grade 10 student at Northeast Kings Education Centre, has won the Multicultural Association of Nova Scotia's 14th Annual Public Speaking Contest; and

Whereas there were five students competing from around the province, Gillian represented the Annapolis Valley Regional School Board at the provincial contest; and

Whereas her topic, entitled In Recent Acts of Terrorism, How Do You See Multiculturalism at Work? was delivered in an outstanding speech;

Therefore be it resolved that this House join with the Annapolis Valley Regional School Board in congratulating Gillian Benjamin on her winning speech and thank her for representing the Valley region so well.

[Page 8690]

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage.

RESOLUTION NO. 3341

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

Whereas today is Canada Book Day, which coincides with the UNESCO World Book Day, a day to celebrate books and authors, with Canada focussing on libraries; and

Whereas, at the same time, the Minister of Education is quoted - and I will table the quote - as saying, "there is little hope for school libraries in this province, no plan for designated funding"; and

Whereas students in Nova Scotia are struggling with their reading skills, skills that can be developed and enhanced through a good library system;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Education understands clearly that her policy of attacking libraries is having a direct effect on the reading skills of the students of Nova Scotia.

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.

[Page 8691]

The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

RESOLUTION NO. 3342

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

Whereas the Hamm Government recently increased Pharmacare premiums by $121 per year; and

Whereas this is in addition to the $150 co-payment increase that took place last year; and

Whereas this means that since the Hamm Government came to office, Nova Scotia seniors are now paying over $270 more in Pharmacare fees;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize that these increases are the result of a government that has mismanaged, over-spent and has consistently gone after Nova Scotia's most vulnerable to pay for this government's mistakes.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Dartmouth South.

RESOLUTION NO. 3343

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

Whereas it was on this date 160 years ago today, in 1842, that actual construction of the Shubenacadie Canal began; and

[Page 8692]

Whereas the Shubenacadie Canal is the most significant 19th Century canal development project in the Maritimes, has been declared a designated special place under Nova Scotia's Special Places Protection Act and is a National Historic Civil Engineering Site; and

Whereas the Dartmouth Historical Society published a small paperback book in 1994 entitled, Men . . . Money . . . and Muscle, Building the Shubenacadie Canal, written by author, Harry Chapman;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House of Assembly today commend the historical significance of the Shubenacadie Canal, and the many great Nova Scotians first involved in its creation.

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. 3344

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

Whereas the St. Margaret's Bay Basketball League has had a terrific season; and

Whereas young people from throughout the area enjoyed a year of fun, off and on the court; and

Whereas countless numbers of volunteers have made this year a memorable one for all involved;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the players, coaches and parents for the great basketball season had by the St. Margaret's Bay basketball teams.

[Page 8693]

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 Nova.

RESOLUTION NO. 3345

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

Whereas a fund of some $300 million sits unexpended and unactioned for site remediation at Sydney Steel; and

Whereas apologists for this government offer every excuse for explaining why this vast sum of money remains unspent; and

Whereas despite their every procrastination as to why they sit on this unspent money day after day, the environmental concerns in the Sydney area remain among the greatest unsolved problem now facing Nova Scotia;

Therefore be it resolved that this government's fence sitters get off their fence, leap to action and demonstrate leadership in terms of remediating the unsolved environmental problems at Sydney resulting from 100 years of making steel there.

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.

[Page 8694]

The honourable Minister of Justice.

RESOLUTION NO. 3346

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

Whereas the New Germany Dinner Theatre has been a fundraising event for St. John's in the Wilderness Anglican Parish for the past 10 years; and

Whereas this event brings together over 100 volunteers who contribute to the event's success; and

Whereas this event has become the church's most significant fundraiser each year, being so popular that a waiting list is kept in case of cancellations;

Therefore be it resolved that the House congratulate those responsible for the unquestionable success of the New Germany Dinner Theatre.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Hants East.

RESOLUTION NO. 3347

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

Whereas last evening the Kings-Hants NDP Public Forum Series featured a forum "Forestry at the Crossroads" at the Brooklyn Fire Hall; and

[Page 8695]

Whereas the forum's basic theme is that real, demonstrable sustainability of our forests is needed now if we hope to keep our forests from going the way of the codfish, and if we want to sustain our rural communities; and

Whereas invited, but noticeably absent from this important discussion, were both the Minister of, and representatives from, the Department of Natural Resources, plus the MLA, and Minister of Transportation;

Therefore be it resolved this House congratulate the Kings-Hants NDP for their Public Forum Series that allows rural Nova Scotians affected by this government's forestry policies a forum in which to air their views.

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. 3348

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

Whereas Perry Chandler was elected President of the Strait Area Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday evening during the chamber's annual general meeting; and

Whereas the Strait Area Chamber of Commerce is the second largest business group representing business in Cape Breton; and

Whereas Bert Lewis, Dan Fougere, Misty MacDonald, Betty White and Gerry MacDonald were also elected as members of the new executive;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate new President, Perry Chandler, and all the members of the new executive of the Strait Area Chamber of Commerce and wish them continued success in representing the interests of businesses in the quad counties.

[Page 8696]

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 Annapolis.

RESOLUTION NO. 3349

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

Whereas Ashley Wentzell from Springfield, Annapolis County, was 1 of 10 students selected by the province to take part in the "Interchange on Canadian Studies - Changing Land, Changing People," a forum on Canadian issues for high school students held April 6th to April 13th in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories; and

Whereas while in Yellowknife, the 16-year-old had the opportunity to learn about a variety of local and national cultural and environmental issues, and engaged in a wide array of tours and recreational activities including dogsledding, coasting on seal skins and tours of diamond and gold mines; and

Whereas Ashley was subjected to a rigorous application process, first applying and interviewing through her school, New Germany Rural High School, before being selected by the province;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Ashley Wentzell on her attendance at the recent Interchange on Canadian Studies and thank her for her effective representation and promotion of her province's culture, history and interests.

[12:30 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 8697]

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.

RESOLUTION NO. 3350

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

Whereas this government recently introduced new gas distribution rules that allow gas companies to cherry-pick areas to serve and to charge higher rates in rural Nova Scotia and Cape Breton; and

Whereas the Minister responsible for the Petroleum Directorate claims this is the only way Nova Scotians will ever get to use any of its own gas resources; and

Whereas this strategy could result in underdevelopment of the economies of rural Nova Scotia and Cape Breton because development will go where gas is cheapest;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister responsible for the Petroleum Directorate explain to rural Nova Scotians and Cape Bretoners why he has chosen through the new gas distribution rules to shut them out of any economic development that results from the use of our natural gas.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton The Lakes.

[Page 8698]

RESOLUTION NO. 3351

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

Whereas the Centennial Cup will be touring Nova Scotia starting in Wolfville on April 23, 2002 and will then be displayed at the Nova Scotia Sport Heritage Centre in Halifax until the 2003 Winter Games; and

Whereas in addition to 46 medals, Team Nova Scotia won the Centennial Cup for making the greatest improvement of all provinces and territories since the previous games; and

Whereas Team Nova Scotia athletes performed better than ever at the 2001 Canada Games in August;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House take the opportunity to see the Centennial Cup as it tours the province and recognize its importance within the sports community.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Pictou East.

RESOLUTION NO. 3352

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

Whereas the Nova Scotia beef industry contributes $22 million annually in farm cash receipts to Nova Scotia's growing economy; and

[Page 8699]

Whereas there are 1,200 beef producers in Nova Scotia creating approximately 700 full-time jobs; and

Whereas the Nova Scotia Cattlemen's Association is presently in the stages of implementing a business plan to guide the development of their industry in the immediate future;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House of Assembly congratulate President Charles MacKenzie and the Nova Scotia Cattlemen's Association for keeping government abreast of their ongoing initiatives and wish them continued success in production.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage.

RESOLUTION NO. 3353

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

Whereas 250 years ago in 1752, the eastern-most point of Halifax Harbour was settled by farmers and fishermen who came from Europe to start a new life; and

Whereas those settlers eventually became part of the community of Eastern Passage, whose population is growing to well over 10,000 residents; and

Whereas a community that started with a few families has become a vibrant, active community that provides many services to its residents and all residents of the Halifax Regional Municipality;

[Page 8700]

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize the 250th Anniversary of the founding of Eastern Passage and recognize the residents for building a strong and caring community.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Nova.

RESOLUTION NO. 3354

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 honourable Minister of Economic Development epitomizes this government's lack of concern for Sydney Steel; and

Whereas this minister embodies where the government has gone wrong in terms of making wrong choices with the wrong people; and

Whereas under this minister, we are seeing the Department of Economic Development fritter itself away, as plans for action are replaced by lazy-boy-chairing of the type exemplified by former federal MP Peter Mancini;

Therefore be it resolved that this minister should rouse himself from hibernation and get on with the role he accepted when he was sworn in as Minister of Economic Development, or else resign.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Dartmouth South.

[Page 8701]

RESOLUTION NO. 3355

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

Whereas April 23rd is celebrated annually as St. George's Day; and

Whereas due to his chivalrous behaviour, fighting evil, dependence on faith and might of arms, and his largesse to the poor, devotion to St. George became popular in Europe after the 10th Century; and

Whereas St. George's Day has become a day to celebrate England's long history and its rich heritage, both in that country and for those with British ancestry living abroad;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House pay tribute to this patron saint and acknowledge April 23rd as St. George'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.

The motion is carried.

The honourable Leader in the House of the Liberal Party.

RESOLUTION NO. 3356

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

Whereas the Clare Acadiens hosted the 2002 Midget A Provincial Hockey Championships at the Université Sainte-Anne arena March 15th through March 17th, 2002; and

Whereas the hosting team played the Bridgewater Hawks in the championship game; and

[Page 8702]

Whereas three of the Clare players picked up individual honours, in addition to the team's win;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate the Clare Acadiens Midget A hockey team as well as André Aymar, Michel Saulier and Marc Deveau on their tremendous performance, and their coaches, for winning the Midget A Provincial Hockey Championship.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

ORDERS OF THE DAY

ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS

MR. SPEAKER: Question Period will begin at 12:37 p.m. and will end at 1:37 p.m.

The honourable Leader of the Official Opposition.

COMMUN. SERV. - CHILD PROTECTION WORKERS:

LAYOFFS - EXPLAIN

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, last week six child protection workers who serve Sackville, Cole Harbour, and Dartmouth areas were given layoff notices. I want to table a letter by NSGEU President, Joan Jessome, expressing her concern at this situation. The funding for these positions was transferred to the Children's Aid Society to relieve an understaffing problem in the Halifax area, but Child Protection Services is also understaffed and the layoffs are not going to help. I want to ask the Minister of Community Services why his department is laying off child protection workers when these agencies are already understaffed?

HON. PETER CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, I think the honourable member read only part of the correspondence. What we indicated we were going to do is, there was a demand in the reviews that we've had in Halifax over the last year, which showed the caseloads were going

[Page 8703]

up. We need to have people in the areas where they are most needed, so that we can look at the caseloads and have a proper balance of caseloads.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, I'm going to table a 1996 report on Child Protection Services in this province which states the recommended caseload is 20. The loss of six positions will push the caseloads in Child Protection Services over that standard. Making sure that children are safe and cared for is an enormous responsibility, and there are only so many cases a social worker should be expected to handle. My question to the Minister of Community Services is why is his department putting children at risk in the name of saving money?

MR. CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member brings up a good point in the 1996 report. That is exactly the reason that this government took on 71 new caseworkers to look at the caseload since that time. That is the reason we added caseworkers to our offices and to Children's Aid, so that we could look at balancing the caseloads and have the best possible protection for children in this province.

MR. DEXTER: The minister isn't listening. For once, just for once, he has to show a little bit of concern for the people, for the children his department is charged with the responsibility of looking after. That's what he ought to be doing in this House. In addition to this increase in risk to the children, positions such as the foster care recruitment position and the children in care position will be lost in order to accommodate case transfers. I want to ask the Minister of Community Services, will he commit right now to give these agencies the resources that they need to keep children safe?

MR. CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, that's exactly what we're doing; we're putting people in the areas of highest case load. That is why we're working with the Children's Aid Societies to develop a model of good service delivery across this province, because we are concerned about children. As I indicated, we have put 71 new social workers in the system and we will continue to work to make Nova Scotia a safe place for children.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Glace Bay.

COMMUN. SERV. - CHILD PROTECTION:

CASELOADS - OUTCOMES

MR. DAVID WILSON: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Community Services. We know that three child protection workers in Dartmouth, two in Sackville and one in Cole Harbour who work on a casual basis have been notified that their services are no longer needed, and at the same time these workers were told that their positions are being held vacant and the funding for them is being transferred to relieve staffing problems with the Halifax Children's Aid Society.

[Page 8704]

Mr. Speaker, the workload remains even though the positions don't. My question to the minister is, what will happen with the child protection caseloads in those offices to ensure that children in this province are not put at risk?

HON. PETER CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, the member is quite correct; we are transferring the funds to the Children's Aid Society of Halifax so they can balance the caseloads. The reviews over the last year have indicated their caseloads are going up. They require additional personnel and we are responding to that. Those vacancies in Dartmouth will be there, and if the caseloads - as we monitor that, they will be filled as the demand requires.

MR. WILSON: Mr. Speaker, I think perhaps the minister is missing the point if he thinks that this is just about the need for moving positions around to accommodate shortages. What we're talking about here is an urgent need in this province for the government to deal adequately with children who are at risk in our society. As we've seen during the inquiry of British Columbia's child welfare system, government decisions have to start with the concept of focusing on child welfare decisions that promote the child's safety and well-being.

Mr. Speaker, my question to the minister is, what guarantees can this government provide that adequate training and responsible measures are in place to ensure that children in our society are protected?

MR. CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, the member's question is what have we done to ensure the safety of children. As I indicated to the last member, we hired 71 new social workers a couple of years ago to address that very concern. We have asked the Children's Aid Societies of Nova Scotia to look at how we're going to best deliver that service. The report they're giving us is putting children first and they've been working on that. They are concerned and we are concerned about how we are going to provide the best service for children in this province.

MR. WILSON: Mr. Speaker, when it comes to the safety priorities of women and children in this province, this government definitely wants to have the record for moving too fast, and we don't have to go too far back, other than transition shelters, to know that. This government automatically follows action plans that are based on poorly thought-out ideas without understanding the difficulties that those decisions have for women and children in this province.

Mr. Speaker, that minister is charged with the responsibility of looking after these children, and I'll ask the minister, will the minister slow down implementing this plan in order to properly ensure that children in this province will not be put at risk?

[Page 8705]

MR. CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member mentions that it's a plan that hasn't got any basis and that it's just an unthought-out plan. Well, I would suggest that he might want to talk to the people in the Children's Aid Society in his area because it was the Children's Aid Society that asked us to move forward; perhaps if he had the opportunity to speak to them, he would know that they want this plan to go forward.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

FIN.: CASINO LOSSES/BED CLOSURES - CORRELATION

MR. GRAHAM STEELE: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Finance. The government is shutting down hospital beds, threatening transition shelters, forcing students to attend crumbling schools and laying off child protection workers, all in the name of efficiency, and at the same time, this government can't turn a profit on a casino. Buried in the budget documents is the news that the new Halifax casino is expected to lose money this year - $1.4 million and the win tax on the money wagered at the casino won't even cover the government's payments to the casino operator. Will the Minister of Finance tell the House, why is he shutting down hospital beds to cover losses at the Halifax casino?

[12:45 p.m.]

HON. NEIL LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite is misrepresenting the facts. We have made some changes in this budget year that are difficult decisions. I don't argue that for a second, but it is all with the aim of being sustainable, that we, as a government, can deliver a balanced budget. We have done so and for that I make no apologies.

MR. STEELE: Mr. Speaker, I noticed that answer had absolutely nothing to do with the question that I asked. Let's look at the casino operating agreement that was signed in 1995 by the Liberals. This is part of the reason we're running a loss. That deal, that Liberal deal, locks this province into paying 12 per cent interest no matter how low the prime rate is on the unpaid balance of construction costs and I will table that clause. Quite a money maker for the private operators, but not for Nova Scotians, because what it means is that we are all subsidizing that casino. My question to the Minister of Finance, what has the minister done to protect Nova Scotians from the cost of these exorbitant Liberal interest rates?

MR. LEBLANC: The member opposite brings up a point that was disclosed, and the fact of the matter is, under the agreement that was signed by the previous Liberal Administration with the casino, the interest that is charged on the capital is high. I don't disagree with that for a second and Nova Scotians deserve to know that. The fact of the matter is, there is an agreement with the casino, it is binding and it is binding on the province.

[Page 8706]

AN HON. MEMBER: Who signed the agreement?

MR. LEBLANC: Who signed the agreement? Well, obviously, it was the Liberal Government that signed it. However, the situation is that we have to deal with it today.

MR. STEELE: Once again we hear from the Minister of Finance, he just shrugs and says, what do you expect me to do about it? Well, anyone who paid attention to the evidence in the Ralph Fiske case would know there is a case for reopening the Liberal 20 year contract. Hospital beds are being shut while the casino operators get subsidized. That's one of the choices that this government is making. My question to the minister is, what has the Minister of Finance done to determine how he can reopen this ruinous Liberal casino deal?

MR. LEBLANC: I believe the honourable member is a lawyer. He's probably encouraging us to have more lawsuits. The fact of the matter is, there is an agreement signed, the rate that is charged - I agree with the member opposite, it is too high. However, the fact of the matter is that the previous Liberal Administration did sign that contract. Those are the facts. The fact that we disclosed it this year in our estimates and our business plans points out that we think that Nova Scotians should also be aware of that.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Lunenburg West.

FIN.: DEBT MANAGEMENT STRATEGY - GENESIS

MR. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, my question, too, is for the Minister of Finance.

AN HON. MEMBER: He didn't sign it, did he?

MR. DOWNE: No, I didn't sign it. I want to start by tabling Pages 17 and 18 of the Nova Scotia Alternative Budget (2002) sponsored by various labour and social groups in co-operation with the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives - the acronym Choices. I also wish to table Page 5 . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The member for Lunenburg West has the floor.

MR. DOWNE: I would also like to table Page 5 of the Debt Management Plan to the minister. Both these documents claim that we need to reduce the debt, the GDP, by 5 per cent over the next three years. Both documents advocate more spending. Neither document sets targets or real debt reduction numbers. My question to the minister is, could the minister explain why his debt management strategy resembles the alternative budget management strategy so closely?

[Page 8707]

HON. NEIL LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, I can't explain why it resembles it. Maybe they looked at our notes in advance - I doubt that's the case, actually. However, the fact of the matter is, they did include in the document that we, as a province, when we examine our debt - and we did table a management plan last week - that one of the issues that we should look at is the amount of debt in comparison to our GDP, our economy. Anyone in this room who doesn't think that's a valid indicator, is basically not on this planet. So, for the member opposite to say that we shouldn't at least look at that, he's off the mark and maybe he could clarify that in his second question.

MR. DOWNE: Mr. Minister, if your debt management strategy was an academic paper, you could have at least provided the footnote recognizing the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives as a basis for your theory. The similarities in those debt management strategies mean one thing, that this government doesn't have its own clear plan or direction to reduce the debt of the Province of Nova Scotia. Instead of an original debt management strategy, this minister has taken pages from other books that are already prepared. Why won't the minister finally admit to this House that he has no concrete plan for dealing with the debt other than crossing his fingers and hoping the debt will go away?

MR. LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, it is obvious from the member opposite that he hasn't looked at the document. It is also obvious that the plan that was put forward brought three major points. The first one was balancing the budget; we have done that. The second thing we talked about is growing surpluses over and above what we have this year. The third thing we talked about is the debt to GDP ratio, which is an important one. All three of those points are issues that we have to deal with. We've done the first one in balancing the budget. The member opposite may think that's not the wise course, but we believe it is.

MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, as the Auditor General says, we've got to stop borrowing. Borrowing more money is putting Nova Scotia unnecessarily at risk. The minister, above all, should know that. The debt to GDP ratio means nothing to our children who will have to pay back the hundreds of millions of dollars that this government is borrowing every year that they've been in power. The bottom line is that we're borrowing and borrowing more money. My question to the minister is, why won't the minister set debt reduction targets, instead of producing a paper with no concrete proposal to actually pay down the debt?

MR. LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, we have made some difficult decisions over the last two and a half years since coming to power. We did that with the aim of balancing our budget. Now the member opposite says that everything that we have done is simple. He's probably the only person in Nova Scotia who believes that. Obviously, today, the honourable member for Lunenburg West, the Finance Critic for the Liberal Party, is saying that we should slash hospitals. He's saying that we should slash Education. He's saying that we should slash Community Services. You can't have it both ways. Let the member stand up and say what he believes in. You can't be talking one day about one issue and the other side the next day. Say it clearly.

[Page 8708]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

PSC - YOUNGER EMPLOYEES: RECRUITMENT - PLANS

MR. GRAHAM STEELE: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of the Public Service Commission. Years of attacks on civil servants has created a number of problems for employees and the services they provide. I would like to table some very disturbing numbers. These are the government's own numbers. Nova Scotia has 6,878 civil servants, but only 204, or less than 3 per cent, are under the age of 30. We know that organizations must continually renew themselves to remain strong and innovative. My question to the minister is, what is he planning to do to recruit younger Nova Scotians into the Civil Service?

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member brings a very good question forward. What has happened is over time the Public Service of Nova Scotia has aged. There is a plan being developed in the Public Service to encourage a renewal of younger Nova Scotians into the Public Service. We have a bubble of people who are in their 40s who will work their way through the Public Service. I can assure you that we are working on encouraging new middle managers and new entry level positions.

MR. STEELE: Mr. Speaker, the fact is that the problem is growing worse under this government. In March 1999, there were 291 civil servants under 30 and today there are just 204, a drop of nearly 50 per cent. Less than 3 per cent of the entire Civil Service is under the age of 30. By far the majority of civil servants, not just a bubble, but 75 per cent of civil servants are 40 or older. My question to the minister is, how is this government's policy of reducing the number of civil servants under 30 helping with the Premier's pledge to keep talented young Nova Scotians in this province?

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member is wrong. There is no plan to reduce the number of public servants in Nova Scotia under 30, or under 40 for that matter, although I have come to the point in life when 40-year-olds no longer look that old. I would suggest that the honourable gentleman should perhaps look in the mirror and think about that as well. In any event, what we have done is tried to develop a plan, such as training with the MPA program, so that we can provide people who are skilled at levels in the Civil Service as others retire.

MR. STEELE: Mr. Speaker, this government's practice of attrition and early retirement has left the Civil Service with just a handful of young people bringing new life to the organization. In fact, there are only 15 people under the age of 25 in the Civil Service. This government has a program called the Civil Service Internship Program where a very small number of jobs are offered to young people. My question to the minister is, over the past number of years since that program was created, how many of those interns or what percentage have actually been hired into full-time positions by this government?

[Page 8709]

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member is right; the Civil Service Internship Program is very successful and, in fact, 100 per cent of the people who engaged in that program last year found employment either within the government or the private sector. The purpose of this is to encourage young people to get employment. It has been a success. We are working towards encouraging more young people to join the Public Service; however, as the honourable member would know, the solution is not to hire and create administration you don't need. That is also, unfortunately, what the honourable member would like, to hire people whether or not you need them.

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

ENVIRON. & LBR. - WHITES COVE QUARRY: DEV. - CONCERNS

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Environment and Labour. As the minister should be aware, there is a proposal by an American company to develop a salt rock quarry at Whites Cove on the Bay of Fundy side of Digby Neck. On Friday, April 12th of this year, over 50 people from Digby Neck, Long and Brier Islands gathered to discuss the impact of such a large quarry. The overwhelming consensus of the people at that meeting was that this quarry would not be a welcome or beneficial activity to their communities. My question to the minister is, is the minister listening to the concerns of these residents or is he just going to ignore them and follow the traditional protocol?

HON. DAVID MORSE: Mr. Speaker, I want particularly to thank the member opposite for his timely question. The reason I say that is that today in the Legislature we have some guests, and they happen to be from my area. So I thank you for asking a question and involving me in Question Period today.

With regard to your question, there is a process in place. This particular proposal requires an industrial approval. The regulations and the guidelines are there and we are proceeding along those regulations and guidelines.

MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, the fact of the matter is that the people in that general area have complained to myself and to others that they have not been properly consulted. Any activity in this area will certainly have a direct impact on their lifestyle and on the rather sensitive ecosystem in that general area. They can't even get answers from the member for Digby; that's what they're saying to myself and other individuals who will listen to their concerns. At the very least, will the minister initiate public hearings prior to any quarry development so that the people will have a say in their own future?

[Page 8710]

[1:00 p.m.]

MR. MORSE: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the member opposite again for his questions. The concerns of the citizens are always foremost in our minds. In fact, the regulations and the guidelines that are put in place, and I want to give some acknowledgement to the former government because these have evolved over time by successive governments. They, in fact, are in place to accomplish those concerns. As long as the process is below the four hectares it would require just an industrial approval; if the application is for greater than four hectares, then we get into something that would require an environmental assessment and that would involve more public input yet again. I want to thank the member opposite for his question.

MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, under the Environment Act, as well, the minister has the ultimate responsibility and authority to make decisions that will protect the interests of all stakeholders. The minister could very well order a public review if he so chose, but he's hiding behind some regulations. My question to the minister is, why won't the minister simply listen to the residents of Digby Neck, Long and Brier Islands so that their concerns will be heard? Yes or no, will you listen?

MR. MORSE: Mr. Speaker, of course the concerns of the people of the area will be addressed. If anything comes forward as a result of this in the form of an industrial approval, they will be addressed in the terms and conditions.

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

EDUC. - P3 SCHOOLS: COMMUN. USAGE - AVAILABILITY

MR. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is to the Minister of Education. Soccer season and outdoor sports are here. Community organizations are becoming increasingly concerned about the quality of fields around these Liberal P3 schools. I want to table an e-mail obtained from the Halifax Regional School Board that states, "HRSB has found St. Margaret's, Park West, Sackville Heights Elementary, Bedford South, and Portland Estates, and Lockview fields as sub-standard. We have asked principals not to use them because we think they are unsafe . . ."

The Department of Education is aware these fields are substandard, because according to the memo it's an issue in the highly-publicized dispute between the board and Scotia Learning, which is currently in progress. My question . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect on the question, please.

[Page 8711]

MR. ESTABROOKS: My goodness, I have your attention today. My question to the minister is, I want to ask, will P3 schools be available this summer for use by young people in the various communities that we all represent?

HON. JANE PURVES: Mr. Speaker, I think all members are aware that the issue of soccer fields with some P3 owners, and other things besides, are a problem that we are trying to address and trying to work out. They are among the subjects of an arbitration now going on.

MR. ESTABROOKS: To the minister, this e-mail that I've tabled for your interest points out a few other very interesting items. Rental rates for P3 school facilities are set by Scotia Learning. This e-mail states that the school board does not have an agreement with Scotia Learning in terms of rates, and they are moving unilaterally on that front. "They claim to be doing this on a cost recovery basis, but once again they are the sole arbiter of the costs." End of quote from the e-mail. My question to the minister is, will expensive arbitration be the only route to settle matters such as the gouging of community groups with these unfair rental fees?

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, we are going to arbitration because we certainly hope that these disputes can be settled in a cost-effective manner for the taxpayer, and in a way to allow kids to be using these schools and communities the way they should be allowed to use them. That was the promise.

MR. ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, I'm going to table two lists. I'm not going to talk about the school fields now, I'm going to talk about the rental fees, the exorbitant rental fees of these Liberal P3 schools with their private partner friends. It costs $5.00 an hour to rent a gym in a public school for a youth group, with no minimum rental time. It would cost the same group $50 an hour to rent a gym at a P3 school and they have to do it for a minimum of three hours for $150. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect on the question, please.

MR. ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, I have it right here. Could the minister tell the House, tell the parents, tell the young people, should we win the arbitration case, will the community groups be reimbursed for these ridiculous fees?

MR. CHAIRMAN: It is a hypothetical question, but if the minister wants to attempt to answer. (Interruptions) It is a hypothetical question. If the minister wishes to answer, fine. If not, I will call for the next question.

[Page 8712]

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, I can say that our department and the Sport and Recreation Commission are doing everything possible, and more, to make sure the promises made when these schools were built - the promises to communities, the promises to school groups - are lived up to.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Victoria.

ENVIRON. & LBR. - C.B. HIGHLANDS:

OIL SPILL - RESPONSIBILITY

MR. KENNETH MACASKILL: Mr. Speaker, my question today is for the Minister of Environment and Labour. Previously the Minister of Environment and Labour confirmed he only learned of an oil spill that happened in Cape Breton because of what he read in a newspaper. Furthermore, the minister stated that his recollection led him to believe that the site of the spill was federal, not provincial. Since asking the question, his staff was very quick to respond and has indicated that they were indeed involved in the spill.

My question to the minister today is contrary to what the minister stated previously, am I correct in assuming that an oil spill in the Highlands is a provincial matter after all?

HON. DAVID MORSE: Mr. Speaker, I'm delighted that the member opposite brings up the question. It was in a national park and it is under federal jurisdiction.

MR. MACASKILL: Mr. Speaker, I will inform the minister that, yes, he doesn't know where the spill is because it's not in the Highlands National Park.

Mr. Speaker, I've asked the first question only because staff of the Department of Environment and Labour did respond to the oil spill in the Highlands and they were taking steps to ensure damage is prevented. It didn't appear, however, that the minister knew about the role his department was playing. So my question again to the minister is, if the staff of the department are now aware of environmental spills in the province, is it safe to assume that the minister will only find out by reading the newspaper?

MR. MORSE: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the member opposite for giving me another opportunity to further embellish the answer. As I indicated the last time he asked this series of questions, we work very well with our federal counterparts. The federal Department of Environment does have the lead on this file, contrary to what the member states. We do have a provincial interest and we have been following it with them, but they are the lead agency on this particular oil spill.

MR. MACASKILL: This spill occurred in the Cape Breton Highlands, on the Aspy River. So my final question is, can the minister update the House today regarding the results of any damage assessment to this date?

[Page 8713]

MR. MORSE: Mr. Speaker, I think the member opposite just contradicted himself. First of all, he said that it was not in the Highlands, now he has confirmed that it is in the Highlands. He seems to be very confused about this subject. The regional manager is watching the provincial interest in this to make sure that it is properly addressed by our federal counterparts. If he has any concerns about it, he should talk with the regional manager. He would be pleased to answer his questions.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.

ECON. DEV. - CHILD PROTECTION WORKERS:

LAYOFFS - JUSTIFY

MR. HOWARD EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Economic Development. I've obtained a document through the Freedom of Information Act that once again illustrates this government is making wrong choices. Last week the Tories cut, as we know, six child protection positions, and yet this document shows that Nova Scotia Business Inc., last year, for its 12 board members, spent almost $20,000 in fees and expenses. President and CEO Stephen Lund spent $576.16 on just one meal. I would like to know from the Minister of Economic Development, how can you justify spending almost $600 for dinner while your government is laying off child protection workers? (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. There's too much noise in the Chamber. You can't hear the questions or the answers.

HON. GORDON BALSER: Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member opposite for the question. I would point to yesterday's announcement that says that the growth in Nova Scotia was second only to Alberta's last year. In order to grow the economy you have to meet with business, you have to move forward business initiatives. I believe that spending money to recruit new employment opportunities is the right thing to do.

MR. EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, this government has to make choices. This minister has chosen to pay the top 20 executives at Nova Scotia Business Inc. a combined salary of over $1.4 million. These particular decisions don't reflect my priorities, they don't reflect the priorities of Nova Scotians. I would like to ask the minister, will he explain why his government finds it necessary to pay the top executives at NSBI $1.4 million while everyone else has to make due with less and less and less?

MR. BALSER: Mr. Speaker, because we have recruited the best, you have to pay the going rate. When NSBI was created we sought outside counsel as to what's appropriate remuneration. I would suggest that the member opposite simply look to the administrative structure of Amira and Nova Scotia Power to compare the kinds of salaries that are being paid to top executives.

[Page 8714]

MR. EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, speaking of paying the going rates, in response to our freedom of information request, NSBI has refused to release its President's Stephen Lund's, contract of employment. We do know that over the last year his travel and entertainment expenses have totalled over $17,000. What I would like to know from the minister is, now that your government is reaching further and further and deeper and deeper into Nova Scotians' pockets, how long do you think it will be before you are held accountable for that one?

MR. BALSER: Mr. Speaker, in order to grow the economy you have to recruit new business, you have to be involved in export trade missions. Last year this province took part in a number of missions which created a great deal of new opportunity for Nova Scotia businesses. I believe it's money well spent.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Richmond.

HEALTH - STRAIT RICHMOND HOSP.: EMERG. ROOM - PLANS

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, for the last five years the Strait Richmond Hospital has struggled to maintain a physician to cover the hospital's emergency room. On April 8th of this year the hospital announced the closure of the emergency room during the daytime. Now, unfortunately, local physicians have withdrawn weekend emergency services due to their workload. The time has clearly come for the Minister of Health to take action to immediately address this very serious situation. My question to the Minister of Health is, what plan does your government have to allow the Strait Richmond Hospital to maintain an emergency room physician for the long term?

[1:15 p.m.]

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, as the honourable knows, that is an incentive position and, indeed, the person who occupied the position didn't leave because he didn't like it there or he was unhappy with the remuneration, I'm told that his wife was admitted to school in another jurisdiction, and I think he said that. Having said that, our recruiters are already actively involved in trying to fill that daytime position. I'm happy to report that there was a conversation with an individual yesterday which, we don't know what's going to happen to it, but it did sound a little bit promising.

MR. SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, the minister knows very well that the problem at the Strait Richmond Hospital is with the current funding formula. He knows that very well, regardless of the reasons that the last doctor left. With all due respect, Mr. Minister, to your hard-working staff and your hard-working recruiters, the last time you told us that you would get us a doctor we waited 11 months before one showed up. So there needs to be more serious action taken. The Strait Richmond Hospital serves the residents of Richmond, Inverness, Port Hawkesbury and more than 2,000 employees working at the Point Tupper

[Page 8715]

Industrial Park. The closure of the emergency room at the Strait Richmond Hospital is already placing additional strain on St. Ann's Nursing Centre and will mean patients will have to travel to Antigonish or Sydney, jeopardizing the health and safety of area residents. My question to the minister is, will the minister commit to the people of Richmond County and the surrounding area that they will not lose the emergency room services at the Strait Richmond Hospital?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, the question that the honourable member is raising is something that has applicability far beyond the Strait Richmond Hospital. It has to do with something that we've talked about, the idea of critical mass to deliver services. I'm told that the major issue with the four doctors who recently decided not to do that after the other doctor left is that they really felt that you needed five to have an appropriate rotation, and the physician that was there was also doing nighttime service, so they had a rotation of five. We will endeavour to recruit a physician so there will be a rotation of five, but it just illustrates, when we talk about the issue of critical mass for physicians these days to deliver services, this is a perfect example of it. I thank the honourable member for allowing me to draw that to the attention of the House once again.

MR. SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, the minister can talk about all the different theories or critical mass or whatever new bureaucratic word that his department wants to come up with. The bottom line is that the people of the Strait area don't have an emergency room at the Strait Richmond Hospital where they can go and know there is going to be a doctor there serving them. In fact, last weekend, as an added insult, the Department of Health decided to post two ambulances at the hospital so that if any emergency showed up at the hospital they could put them in the ambulance and truck them away to another hospital because, in fact, there was no doctor there.

Dr. Laurie MacNeil, a long-time physician from Isle Madame has suggested that the government provide funding for an in-house physician at the Strait Richmond Hospital to address the problems with doctor retention. Failure to do so will only continue to see the same problem over and over again. My final question to the Minister of Health is, will the minister commit here today that he will not abandon the Strait Richmond Hospital and that he will, in fact, provide a full-time emergency room doctor, fully funded, for the Strait Richmond Hospital?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, the government has not abandoned the Strait Richmond Hospital. Unfortunately, the thing is, that I think the honourable member is saying, this has been a problem ongoing over a number of years and, indeed, probably a problem when he was sitting at the Cabinet Table. We have been relatively successful in keeping that emergency room open and we will continue our efforts to see that the residents who are served by that facility do have emergency service. But I would also like to say that I'm pleased again, honourable member, we did have a contingency plan for that and there were

[Page 8716]

additional emergency ambulance resources placed there if somebody did have to be transported for a good reason, and that's a good thing, our system was able to cope with that.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

HEALTH - HOSP. AUXILIARIES/FDN. MEMBERS:

CONSULTATION - DETAILS

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, each year in the province auxiliaries and foundations raise hundreds of thousands of dollars to support hospitals and health care centres in their communities. It's getting harder for these groups to raise funds, not because of hard times or because other charities need funds, these groups are finding it hard to raise money because they can't give any assurance to their community that the services they're supporting will be there in the future. I want to ask the Minister of Health how much consultation did his department have with hospital auxiliaries and foundation members before taking services from their communities?

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, hospital auxiliaries and foundations are a remarkable part of the Nova Scotia health picture. The job that they do to support their facilities and to make, in particular, capital equipment available is something of which we are all proud, and I would like to recognize that once again before this House and I have told these people that personally.

In terms of the consultation, as the honourable member would know, it's the district health authorities that prepare the business plans and map out the particular types of services that are going to be delivered in one facility or another. I have personally met with the representatives of the foundations. We did that prior to the implementation of the new Health Services Act, but I expect that the foundations and auxiliaries have regular meetings with the health boards that administer the acute care facilities or the long-term care facilities in the province.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, if my grandmother were here today, she would say actions speak louder than words.

I would like to give one example. The Annapolis Community Health Centre Foundation and Auxiliary has funded ophthalmology services since the mid-1980s. They have raised $200,000 in the last few years for necessary equipment, but that program was cut from their community because the Valley District Health Authority is underfunded. I would like to ask the Minister of Health to explain what will happen to that equipment now that ophthalmology services have been removed from Annapolis Royal.

[Page 8717]

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, the DHA No. 3 is not underfunded, I don't think any more than any other facility clearly, and I will admit we don't have all the money that we would like to give the district health authorities, but for her to stand up and say it was underfunded is unfounded.

Mr. Speaker, the ophthalmology service is being transferred to Middleton, at least that's the plan, and I expect the board certainly was conscious that the auxiliary had a significant investment in that capital equipment there and the board will work out that arrangement I am sure with the auxiliary, and I think the auxiliary would be as concerned about the service being continued to be offered as it is about the equipment.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, these volunteers are worried that people won't want to donate money for hospital equipment that may be here today and gone tomorrow. I ask the Minister of Health, what does his department intend to do to keep the goodwill of hospital foundations and auxiliary members in communities like Annapolis Royal alive?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, this department, probably more so under this government than others, has certainly recognized and appreciated and publicly acknowledged the reliance of the health services on the contributions of auxiliaries and foundations. There are certain things that occur and they wouldn't occur or wouldn't be as modern without the support of those wonderful people. The boards do consult with the auxiliaries or the foundations on a regular basis, and indeed there are sometimes representatives of these auxiliaries, if they're not formal members of the DHA boards, then they are ex officio. There is consultation. As you know, neither the foundations nor their auxiliaries expend their money in terms of capital equipment unless it's endorsed by the district health authority. They take the lead from the priorities of . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Thank you.

The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

HEALTH - PHYSICIANS: ONT. RECRUITMENT - PREVENT

DR. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health. We learned today of the Ontario Medical Association's strategy to correct the province's doctor shortage, and the Province of Ontario's Department of Health is supportive of that. There are various incentives being offered to bring some estimated 10,000 Canadian doctors practising in other provinces and in the United States back to Ontario. My question to our Minister of Health here in Nova Scotia, what immediate plans does this minister have to ensure that our doctors in Nova Scotia are not recruited away to Ontario?

[Page 8718]

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I haven't seen the document or the report to which the honourable member refers, but I can tell you that we just recently concluded the contract agreements with the Nova Scotia Medical Society. Certainly, the remuneration for physicians in Nova Scotia is above the Canadian average. I will go back to our success in recruiting and retention, which I did speak on in some detail last week. We are the second most successful recruiter in the country and, indeed, we have the second greatest number of physicians per 100,000 population in Canada. We do very well, we practice good medicine and Nova Scotia is a good place to work and health care professionals who choose to locate and stay here are fairly compensated.

DR. SMITH: It is amazing that that minister can brag today about the contract you signed with the doctors resulting in the closure of emergency departments and the inequality he has created within the physician population. Mr. Speaker, the fact comes down to this, that some Nova Scotian doctors are leaving Nova Scotia, the ones who feel that there has been a loss of a valuable health system resource here. Knowing that Ontario is not alone in taking active steps to address doctor shortages with recruitment strategy, what actual steps is this minister taking in the immediate future in this province to help in the retention and recruitment of physicians?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, we have a very active physician recruitment section in the Department of Health. We pay competitive salaries. We lead the country in alternative forms of payment, i.e. salaried physicians. We have recently brought a person into the Department of Health that will spend the next three months looking at alternative forms of payments for physicians and we think this will be a good thing.

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I will compliment the minister for speaking about alternative payment mechanisms that our government initiated, very successful, at least I thank him for not cancelling and still looking for it. Earlier this year this minister stated that this province must work on its programs to attract and retain doctors and nurses. He just can't rely on last year's statistics. I would like to table his comments from last year.

Doctors might not be leaving in droves, admittedly, Mr. Speaker, but make no mistake they're leaving and they're leaving because the conditions and the support systems in this province is deteriorating. This province does, as the minister mentioned, have a top-notch medical school and this is helping to retain once they have their studies done, but there must be programs within the department to support that. My question to the minister (Interruption) Would the House Leader for the . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. (Interruptions) Order, please. Order, please. (Interruptions) I can't hear either. Order, please.

[Page 8719]

The honourable member for Dartmouth East just made a statement to another member, I would ask him to retract. It was very unparliamentary. I would ask him to retract that and put his supplementary question, please.

DR. SMITH: Sure, I will retract. I wouldn't do anything to hurt that person. I feel more sorry for him. (Laughter)

MR. SPEAKER: Final supplementary, the honourable member for Dartmouth East.

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, my question to the Minister of Health, what is the minister doing to live up to his promise to offer attractive incentives so that those studying here will want to stay as physicians?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I think the honourable member is fairly well aware of the terms of the incentive contracts that are offered here in Nova Scotia. They are pretty good. A person who goes into one of our designated areas gets a guaranteed salary of about $155,000 plus incentives. In addition, between 1996 and last year, Nova Scotia was one of the two provinces that experienced the second greatest per cent increase in physician numbers in Canada.

[1:30 p.m.]

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

EDUC. - STRATHSPEY PLACE: LOANS - DETAILS

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: I know that's a hard act to follow, Mr. Speaker, but my question is for the Minister of Education. A couple of days ago the minister provided some details with regard to how her department lost $1 million on the construction of the Strathspey Place in Mabou. It seemed the minister approved a loan for $1 million for the construction of the auditorium but had no legal guarantees that the money would be paid back either by the Strait Regional School Board or ACOA. Now the minister does not have a legal leg to stand on in order to try and recoup that money. My question to the Minister of Education, will the minister tell the House how she allowed $1 million to be spent by her department without any legal guarantees that it would be recovered by those that promised they would repay that loan?

HON. JANE PURVES: Mr. Speaker, as I explained several times during the estimates, the contract to begin the construction of Strathspey Place was signed in July 1999 before we came to office. Now, at present, we still owe or somebody owes - either us or the Strait Regional School Board and it's all the same taxpayers' money - $600,000 remaining on that contract. This is a problem we are seeking to solve, but things that have come to light in the

[Page 8720]

Strait Regional School Board since have certainly smartened us up that no more contracts are going to be let for community use without written guarantees from municipalities or community groups.

MR. DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, what the minister has failed to tell this House today is that the cheque was actually issued when she was the Minister of Education and the finalization of that contract happened while she was the minister so she can't pin the blame on someone else. The minister has made herself out to be the knight in shining armour that will protect taxpayers from the evil school boards yet she allows $1 million to walk out the front door of her Department of Education without doing any background checks to make sure there are guarantees for repayment of that loan. The funds were spent on a project that was not related to education, not related to the classroom, but was a community arts centre. So, now that the Strait Regional School Board is under her financial control, can the minister tell Nova Scotians, given her ability to lose $1 million on a project that had no connection to the classroom, why they should trust her to protect our taxpayer dollars?

MISS PURVES: First of all, I should point out that I'm not a knight, thank you. The member opposite knows that we're not talking about $1 million. He knows we're talking about $600,000. Perhaps the member opposite suggests we should tear the place down - perhaps that's what he's suggesting.

MR. DEVEAUX: No, let's be clear. What I'm suggesting is that I can't believe this Minister of Education allowed $1 million or $600,000 to leave her department without any legal guarantees that that loan would be repaid. That's what this is about. My final question is, what is the plan that this Minister of Education has for recouping the lost funds to prove to Nova Scotians that she did not lose this money?

MISS PURVES: We had the unfortunate circumstance in this province of finding that again and again the word of a superintendent of a school board was not worth the paper it was printed on. We have taken steps to ensure this will not happen again. We will do everything we can to recover the remaining $600,000. I can assure this House and the taxpayers of Nova Scotia that there are many checks and balances in place now that weren't there before we came to office.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Lunenburg West.

AGRIC. & FISH.: HUB MEAT PACKERS -

PROCESSING ALTERNATIVES

MR. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries. We heard today from the Nova Scotia Cattleman's Association that they are extremely concerned about the possibility that Hub Meat Packers will stop processing cattle for the Atlantic Provinces. They are the only federal jurisdiction in the inspection. My

[Page 8721]

question to the minister is, in the event that that would happen, could the minister explain to this House what he is doing in regard to securing an abattoir for meat processing for the cattle of the Nova Scotia producers?

HON. ERNEST FAGE: Mr. Speaker, we have received no formal indication from Hub Meat Packers that they intend to close. We are having discussions on concerns, however, with the producer organizations and we will continue to monitor the situation.

MR. DOWNE: The concern of producers is that they're going to keep processing pork but reduce or eliminate the beef processing. My question is, can you inform the House as to your interventions with regard to making sure that beef will be processed in Atlantic Canada?

MR. FAGE: Mr. Speaker, obviously, it is hypothetical, but we are monitoring the situation.

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

The honourable Minister of Environment and Labour on an introduction.

MR. DAVID MORSE: Mr. Speaker, while the first group from the Evangeline Middle School in New Minas was unable to be introduced today because it arrived during Question Period, I'm delighted to say that the second half of the class is here with teachers Lorraine LeLeivre and Bruce Ross; Shannon LeLeivre, a chaperone; and two students doing their practicums, Paula Robinson and Elise Buck, here today with half of the Evangeline Middle School Grade 7 class. I would ask them to rise and accept a warm welcome from the House. (Applause)

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

The honourable member for Halifax Needham on an introduction.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, in your gallery we are joined by four guests from Adsum House, which is an emergency shelter for women and their children in my constituency in the North End of Halifax. They are Carolyn Abby, who is a social worker there; Marilyn Berry, who's the executive director; Stella Campbell, the fund development coordinator; and Ann Leblanc, who is a social worker and my former student. I would ask them all to stand and receive the warm welcome of the House. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: We welcome you, as well, to the gallery today.

[Page 8722]

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 Dartmouth North.

MR. JERRY PYE: Mr. Speaker, I want to take the few minutes that I do have going into Supply to have the opportunity to speak on the issue of housing. Housing is a very important issue. It's a growing concern with a number of Nova Scotians, particularly those Nova Scotians who are the working poor and who are, in fact, on social assistance. I know that back in November 2001, the federal government introduced a national housing framework initiative. In 2001, the national housing framework initiative allowed provinces and territories to come on side to tap into some federal funding.

Mr. Speaker, Nova Scotia's portion of that federal funding was some $18 million over a period of time. I do know that the minister responsible for housing is in the process of negotiating with the federal government on the national housing framework initiative because there are certain criteria that have been set out by the federal government with respect to tapping in on this funding.

In my conversation during budget estimates with the minister responsible for housing, I heard a disturbing note, a note that seemed to be unsettling. The minister had implied that there is a policy with respect to tapping in on this money, that in fact there is an initiative of 25 per cent that ought to go into the existing housing stock and the remaining 75 per cent of those dollars should be towards new initiatives.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Order, please. There's too much noise in the Chamber. It's very difficult to hear the speaker on the floor. The honourable member for Dartmouth North has the floor.

[Page 8723]

MR. PYE: Mr. Speaker, as I began, I said during budget estimates I was speaking with the minister responsible for housing, and he said there was ongoing negotiations, that, in fact, the Nova Scotia Government has committed some $4.5 million towards the housing initiative. He also implied that there were ongoing negotiations on behalf of the Department of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations that he's responsible for and the federal government, because the federal government has its policy set out that 25 per cent of the money coming forward on the federal government's share into this national housing framework initiative is to go into the existing housing stock, the other 75 per cent - and let's make this quite clear - is to go into new housing initiatives and the new housing stock.

The minister implied that they were not comfortable, meaning the Government of Nova Scotia was not comfortable, with that sort of a policy, so what they were going to do was review this policy and try to negotiate with the federal government on a 50/50 ratio basis. That meant that 50 per cent would go into upgrading the existing housing stock and that another 50 per cent would go into new housing initiatives.

Mr. Speaker, my concern is that if, in fact, this is not endorsed and not supported by the federal government, will this leave Nova Scotia out of the picture all together, of tapping into that $18 million. I can tell you that this is a very serious issue. There are many organizations and many groups that are closely watching the Nova Scotia Government with respect to that. I just want to tell you that there are groups like the Community Action on Homelessness, there are groups of citizens around housing initiatives, both those people who are stakeholders, those people who are in need of the housing, and those people who are professionals, who are all involved in the need to overlook and address the housing initiatives for the Province of Nova Scotia.

I would also say, Mr. Speaker, that the Nova Scotia Government itself has recognized that there was a tremendous need for housing, and in fact I believe that they had a meeting in February 2002 over this very issue. They brought many of those stakeholders together, those individuals who in fact are keenly interested in being a part of this housing proposal and recognition. As a result of that, I know there has been a tremendous amount of discussion around this whole issue.

Mr. Speaker, we know that they've talked about the regional housing needs, the affordable housing; they've talked about the vacancy rates; they've spoken about isolated areas and in particular the number of Nova Scotians who in fact were in need of housing. In the year 2000, the minister is very much aware that over 58,000 Nova Scotians were considered to be in need of core housing. Core housing is just simply basic housing.

When we look across Nova Scotia, and we take a picture of some of the communities - just for an example of one community, I would go to a small town like Antigonish. It's estimated that 365 families live below the household income limit of $26,000 - 205 of those families live on less than $22,000 a year. With average rent for three bedrooms at $862 and

[Page 8724]

$582 for two bedrooms with heat, some families are spending almost 50 per cent of their income on housing, leaving very little for the other necessities of life.

The minister responsible for housing is very much aware that this is consistent across the province. Antigonish is just one town that has these particular problems, there are other towns throughout the province that have very real housing needs. People who are on fixed income, people who are impoverished, the need for subsidized housing, the need for affordable housing just doesn't reach the market. I remember back in 1993 when the federal Liberal Government decided that it would opt out of all housing programs, as a matter of fact. The federal Liberal government in 1993 passed that responsibility down onto the province, but what it didn't do at that particular time was pass new money on down to the provinces as well. What they did was pass the existing dollars down to maintain the existing housing stock that was the responsibility of the federal government. That placed the responsibility on the provincial government then to absorb those particular costs and to mete those dollars out into the existing housing stock that was available.

I do know that after much debate, much consultation and crossing the country, the Liberals recognized from housing advocacy groups across the country that there was a need for the federal government to enter back into the housing responsibility. The federal government entered into the housing responsibility first under what was called the "skippy" program. It's a program that was designed to provide shelter for those individuals who were homeless across the province. I do know that Halifax was the recipient of one of those homeless housing projects at the corner of Gottingen and Gerrish Streets, a very fine housing project and we do congratulate the provincial government as well for coming on because the provincial government provided some support for that housing project as well and also did the municipal government.

I believe the municipal government actually provided the land for that homeless project, so there were three levels of government involved and I think if we're going to address the housing issue and seriously look at the problems centred around housing in Nova Scotia, then we're going to have to get back to that very basic fundamental of levels of government being involved. That includes the municipal, the federal and the provincial governments of getting back into the housing business and providing whatever those levels of governments can provide.

For many years the municipalities did provide land and I do know that in the 1980s when things started getting tough and municipalities were asked to rein in their deficits and bring their budgets under control, the municipalities said - and I was a member of municipal government, I remember in fact this was the sort of talk. At one time, the municipalities even had directors of housing, housing coordinators who advised municipal government on the status of housing within the municipality.

[Page 8725]

However, during that period of time, because of the economics, they decided that they were going to get out of the housing business and it wasn't the responsibility of the municipality. There was talk at the municipal level, much the same as at the federal, and much the same as at the provincial level, that housing should be left to the private sector. The private sector knows best. The private sector knows how to develop housing and make housing available. If housing becomes available, then the trickle down notion is that some of the housing stock would be available to those people who are working poor and those people on social assistance, those individuals. This didn't happen, it certainly didn't happen. As a matter of fact, we have witnessed a deterioration in the availability of housing for many Nova Scotians. Many Nova Scotians are now spending - and the minister responsible is very much aware - some 50 per cent to 60 per cent and higher of their incomes to provide shelter. In the early 1960s and 1970s if you went to the bank it was considered an application that would be rejected if you spent more than 25 per cent of your income on shelter.

Now there was a policy that was developed by governments, it was developed through co-operative housing - and I remember the co-operative housing movement when it was developed in Sackville - 10 families would get together, they would decide to buy lots in Sackville, and then they would develop them as a group of people together because they were on fixed incomes, some of them very moderate incomes and some were on less, but together as a group of individuals they developed these communities. Now today, as you see the growth of Sackville, much of that came out of what was called a co-operative housing movement.

The minister knows that there are many different housing initiatives that have to be reviewed and looked at here. We have to look at reviewing and updating what we do with co-op housing, how we address co-op housing issues and co-op housing before it becomes a crisis situation, that we are on top of that issue and that we're able to keep that stock within the access of individuals who support the lifestyle of living in co-operative housing communities because they are excellent communities.

We also have to shift this paradigm and turn it on its head and look at the possibilities of what kind of new, innovative actions we can take. I know that the Nova Scotia Government in 1998 produced what was called a report on housing - I think it was called The Future of Housing in Nova Scotia, I'm not sure, but I'm sure the minister is very much aware of the report, The Future of Housing in Nova Scotia - it talked about many different models and concepts of housing: housing for disabled, housing for seniors, housing for people who are on social assistance, housing for people who are working poor. The modest housing program came out of that very initiative. The modest housing program, which we watched the minister last year sell two modest homes to private people rather than renovate and repair those modest homes and put them back into the marketplace. We watched that go.

[Page 8726]

Mr. Speaker, I know that you pointed out that my time is up. One doesn't realize how quickly time goes by. I want to say to the minister that he should consult with the experts, those advocacy groups and those people in the health profession, because housing is a determinant of health as well, and bring all those individuals together to look at a Nova Scotia housing strategy.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Clare.

MR. WAYNE GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, I want to raise a very serious issue today, an issue that will be affecting some people in southwestern Nova Scotia as of May of this year. This issue is about the Minister of Health approving a request from the Southwest District Health Authority, a request to charge $7.00 for blood collection at four satellite sites in our district. Those four sites are Lockeport, Barrington Passage, Meteghan - at home - and Freeport on Digby Neck.

Mr. Speaker, our district health authority has indicated to our residents in a press release that they had to meet a shortfall of $1,858,000 in their budget this year. Our health authority submitted a number of initiatives to the Minister of Health for approval in order to raise $1.8 million. On that final list that received approval from this Minister of Health was a satellite blood collection fee that's expected to raise $80,000 from the four sites.

Mr. Speaker, when the budget was tabled on Thursday, April 4th, the Minister of Finance said, on Page 26 - I just want to state this for the record - "That is why we have taken steps to increase fees and revenues. I have already announced, prior to this budget, measures totalling $22 million."

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Finance forgot to include this new satellite blood collection fee from his earlier list. You have to wonder, with this new satellite blood collection fee that will be coming in effect as of May 1st, you have to stop and ask what other fees are waiting for us that this Tory Government forgot to tell us about.

Mr. Speaker, getting back to this new blood collection fee, people in the tri-county area who have gone to the four satellite clinics in the past for blood work, in Lockeport, Barrington Passage, Meteghan, or in Freeport, will now have to pay $7.00 every time they go for blood work at these clinics or, yet, they will have to travel to the nearest hospital, either to the Roseway Hospital, the Digby General or to the Yarmouth Regional Hospital to get their blood work done for free.

Now, Mr. Speaker, you might be wondering what's the big deal with this new blood collection fee? Well, this decision will have an impact on many people and especially on our three hospitals in the area as well. So let's not pretend for a minute that it won't. Yes, some people from these communities and surrounding areas will drive up to the hospitals to get their blood work done for free, no doubt about it, some will, but the volume of patients going

[Page 8727]

in for blood work will certainly increase at all three hospitals, and that means that the wait times for these patients to get their blood work done will increase but, unfortunately, and this is the interesting part, not everyone will have that choice.

Some of these individuals, Mr. Speaker, who are going to these satellite blood clinics don't have a choice. They don't own a vehicle to travel to these hospitals, plus there's no public transportation or bus services in many of these rural communities. Many of these individuals are living on fixed income and have no extra money to hire someone to drive them up to these hospitals for their blood work let alone find extra money to pay for this blood work, and I will come back to that later on.

Mr. Speaker, can you imagine if this new system for blood work was not just for Shelburne, Yarmouth and Digby Counties, but was for all people, for all the residents of our health district? Just imagine if this new blood collection fee was for everyone in Nova Scotia? I'm sure you would agree with me that this new system is nothing more than discrimination for some of our residents in the tri-county area. Some residents will have to pay for blood work and some residents won't have to pay. This is not right, and this Tory Government and this Tory Minister of Health know this is not right, but yet they're the ones who allow this to go through as of May 1st. This Tory Government can't blame the district health authority. I can tell you, the people in Shelburne, Yarmouth and Digby County know differently. They know that this decision was made by this government.

Mr. Speaker, this Conservative Government should intervene before May 1st, when this new policy takes effect. I am sure, before the government went ahead and approved this new blood collection fee, they recognized that this decision would be impacting differently on different individuals, especially on those less fortunate in our society.

[2:00 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, late last week I had a call from a gentleman, a senior from Clare, who needs to go in every two weeks to have some blood work done. This gentleman was told last Thursday that starting May 1st, he's going to have to pay $7.00 for his blood work. He wasn't told why he is going to have to pay for his blood work. That's why this gentleman gave me a call. He was looking to find out why he is going to have to pay $7.00 to have his blood work done at the clinic in Meteghan Centre. This gentleman cannot understand why some people will have to pay for blood work and others won't have to pay. He can't understand that. So he, too, called this latest blood collection fee a discrimination, and you can't blame him.

This gentleman told me that he had worked and paid taxes all his life and is now living on a fixed income; he always believed that when he retired the health care system would be there for him. Well, Mr. Speaker, this man is very upset about this new policy. He's very concerned about how this new blood collection fee will impact his life and especially his

[Page 8728]

monthly income. He's also very upset at our Premier and this Tory Government. He told me that he believed John Hamm when he promised, during the last election, that he could fix health care. I am sure many others believed him as well, but maybe they can't do anything right now to reverse that decision that will take effect on May 1st. But I'm sure these individuals will have an opportunity soon, either this Fall or next Spring.

Mr. Speaker, in politics, I have learned that you always have to go back and see the people that elect you. I'm sure this new blood collection fee - there's no doubt in my mind - will be an issue going into the next election at home. This new fee is supposed to generate $80,000 in funding for our local health authority. In Clare, I was told that, on the average, approximately 110 residents from Clare go for blood work each week, and this is carried out for 52 weeks. So when you do the arithmetic, approximately $40,000 would be collected if these numbers continue after May 1st - $40,000 out of this $80,000 that the district health authority expects to collect.

Mr. Speaker, I know that depending on where you live in Clare, you could spend close to an hour driving one way from your home to either the Yarmouth Hospital or the Digby General Hospital in order to prevent paying this $7.00 blood collection fee. So for many of our residents, this choice to drive to the hospital for free blood work is definitely not a savings. I'm also concerned that this new blood collection fee approved by this Minister of Health, will for some of our residents in the Southwest Nova Health District have a negative impact on health care. I'm sure everyone agrees that this additional cost is going to have an impact, especially on seniors and other individuals living on fixed incomes. These new fees will leave seniors and others who require frequent blood tests with significantly less money at the end of each month, or yet it might cause them not to get these much-needed blood tests done.

Mr. Speaker, these are individuals who need to get their blood work done every week and there are a lot of those individuals. So, again, for individuals living on fixed incomes, this new fee will present new challenges. There's no doubt about that. So when you look at this cost of $7.00 every time you go in for blood work, there are individuals who have to have their blood work done every week. The individual whom I spoke with last Thursday needs to get his done every two weeks. So you're looking at, you know, technically $28 in additional costs and especially if there are two individuals in that household, when you multiply and you add up these costs, some individuals and some of these families could actually be looking at a $56 cost. Now, for some people it may not sound a lot, but for people living on fixed incomes, especially seniors, this will certainly present some many challenges.

In closing, Mr. Speaker, I hope that the Minister of Health, that this government, will be monitoring this new blood collection fee to make sure that some of these individuals in our health district don't put their health at risk and end up being hospitalized because of this new blood collection fee. So I hope that the Minister of Health and this Tory Government

[Page 8729]

will reconsider this new blood collection fee and what real impact it will have on people especially living in southwestern Nova Scotia.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Health.

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to speak on a number of topics. First of all, I would like to just speak a little bit about organ donation. There was an article that appeared in The Chronicle-Herald, or I'm sorry, in The Halifax Daily News on April 18th last week which I would be prepared to table. It says that the East Coast leads in organ donors. I just want to say that I think that is a tremendous thing. I see the member for Lunenburg West with a transplant pin on and I have one of those, too, and actually I would like to see every member of this House with their driver's license endorsed or those supportive transplant emblems on their collar.

The report from the Canadian Institute of Health Information shows that Atlantic Canadians have the highest rate of after-death organ donation in Canada and that the average age of donors is on the rise. The Atlantic Canadians had the highest post-mortem rate in Canada at 18.9 donations per million population. On the other hand, British Columbia, which is perhaps a different age category than we are in Atlantic Canada, had about one-half that many. In the Atlantic region the number of donors 55 years and older has doubled since 1992 and that's really an outstanding thing.

Those who are responsible for the organ donation programs in Atlantic Canada, and particularly here in Nova Scotia, Mr. Speaker, deserve to be congratulated. We're looking at statistics about transplants, that the number of Canadians on transplant waiting lists is about 3,800. In the year 2000 there were slightly over 1,800 transplants performed. There are somewhere around 409 people living who have had transplants. One of the very moving ceremonies that occurs here in Halifax on an annual basis, and I suspect that the member for Dartmouth East may have attended one of these, is a get-together each year where family members and people who are alive because of an organ donation get together with family members of those who are no longer living but have given organs that have saved the life of another person.

Mr. Speaker, this is a very moving ceremony. It just illustrates to us all who have been fortunate enough to be there, how important it is that we who are healthy, regardless of our age, consider the benefits of organ donations to those who may follow us. It's something that has increased in Atlantic Canada, in Nova Scotia, but it's not high enough. I would encourage us all and all those who may be listening or watching today on the closed circuit or on the Eastlink television that if you haven't made arrangements for organ donations after you die, that you go ahead and do that. Obviously, there's no pain, then. It's something that we can all do that just makes a tremendous difference to somebody else. It is an example of volunteerism and thinking of others that we can all do.

[Page 8730]

Secondly, Mr. Speaker, I just want to talk to you a little bit about the extraordinary examples of volunteerism that we have in Nova Scotia in so very many ways. I was taken by this particularly last night. I happened to have the privilege of attending the Arthritis Society's annual major fundraiser. It is a roast. About 900 people attended that roast. The Goldblooms, Dr. Richard and Ruth were the roastees, but it was an outstanding success. The reason I mention it is that I looked at the team of people who put that event together, the program, there must have been a list of 40 people who put that event together. It was extremely successful and it raised $150,000 for arthritis research and education. That's a big event in Halifax, but we have those types of events right across our province.

The people in Nova Scotia, I think, are as generous with their time and talent as any place that I know. We spoke earlier today of the contribution of members of hospital auxiliaries and foundations. All of those volunteer members make such a positive contribution to the welfare of others. Our health system is enhanced and, indeed, would have a major gap if we, in Nova Scotia, did not have the volunteers who are continually raising money for equipment and other types of apparatus that go into our hospitals and also in our long-term care facilities; Mr. Speaker, an exceptional example of volunteerism in Nova Scotia.

I would also like to draw to the members' attention the volunteers we have on the district health authorities. The governance of our district health authorities, the boards themselves are made up of volunteer members. The commitment of the volunteers who come from the communities in various parts of the province to make those district health authorities work is just phenomenal.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Would the honourable minister allow for an introduction?

MR. MUIR: Sure.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou East on an introduction.

MR. JAMES DEWOLFE: Mr. Speaker, I direct your attention and the attention of my colleagues to the east gallery. I'm very pleased to see a constituent of mine, Mr. Everett Baudoux, a former Base Commander at CFB Greenwood and, as a younger man, the first Canadian to fly a jet plane as a young test pilot. Along with him is his son-in-law's brother-in-law, I remember that but I've forgotten the gentleman's name, but I would ask both gentlemen to rise and receive the warm approbation of the House. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: We certainly welcome these two special gentlemen to the gallery today, hope they enjoy the proceedings.

The honourable Minister of Health.

[Page 8731]

MR. MUIR: I was speaking of the volunteer members of our district health authorities who provide the governance to those things, those organizations and just speaking of what a contribution they make and how grateful we should all be that they allow their names to stand. I think it's sometimes forgotten in this House when the type of question that goes on in the spur of the moment, that volunteers, people who are making many of these decisions, despite the fact that they aren't always popular, they're willing to stand up and be counted for the greater good. We're very, very fortunate.

Other types of volunteers that we have in Nova Scotia, one that I want to speak of because it involves my home town of Truro. Tomorrow the Eastern Canadian Junior A Hockey Championships start, it's called the Fred Page Cup and the community of Truro is hosting it. Five years ago, the Town of Truro hosted the Allen Cup, probably as successful an event for an Allen Cup in Canada for quite some number of years.

The Fred Page Cup will be equally successful in Truro, but the thing that makes the Fred Page Cup or will make the Fred Page Cup such a success are the community volunteers from the area in and around Truro who have so generously devoted and will continue to devote their time and expertise to see that those young people who are going to visit from other parts of Eastern Canada along with their families, receive appropriate Nova Scotia hospitality. They will see that the tournament exhibits excellent competition and sportsmanship and they will see that it runs smoothly. Mr. Speaker, I would like to publicly acknowledge the volunteers who are making the Fred Page Cup possible in my community.

Following the Fred Page Cup there will be another hockey tournament hosted here in Nova Scotia and it will be here in Halifax, called the Royal Bank Cup which will be for the Canadian Junior A Hockey Championships. I would like to commend the Halifax Oland Exports hockey team who are the host team for that and the team of volunteers that they have put together so that the Royal Bank Cup will be an outstanding success here in Halifax.

Volunteerism occurs in many, many ways. I've spoken of hospital foundations and auxiliaries. I've talked about people who are organizing athletic tournaments and this, of course, is the time of year for that. I've talked about organ donation, I've talked about the arthritis society - I could also talk about the cancer society, the Heart and Stroke Foundation, the Knights of Columbus, the Masons - there are just so many organizations out there whose memberships do charitable work from which we all benefit. Others that I would like to mention at this time, we all see them, we all know what they do, but we all take them for granted - the home and school association, the school improvement councils that are around. I think, in many ways, with the consolidation of schools, we knew there was a lot of participation when we had all of the small schools and the small communities where they were run by the localities. But these home and school associations and school improvement councils and whatnot - again, run by volunteers - just do so much work for our communities and young people and, obviously, for our future.

[Page 8732]

I can speak of the many service clubs in the province. I think of the Rotary Club, the Lions Club, the Kiwanis Club and others: the Kinsman Club, the Kinettes, the K-40s, and Golden K's, all of those clubs. They all do so much, Mr. Speaker, for the betterment of our community. We also have people like those who work at the food banks. The food banks - I wish they weren't a particularly strong part of our community, but they are. They, for the most part, are run by volunteers. The people who work for the food banks, the volunteers who do work for the food banks, just do an outstanding job and their contributions are, in many ways, immeasurable. We have men and women who work with other youth groups, such as the Boys and Girls Club, Big Brothers and Big Sisters. We have Boy Scouts, Girl Guides, Brownies and all of the organizations that are in Scouting. We have people who go into gyms on Saturday nights, or on Friday nights and Saturday mornings, and work with young people who are learning how to play basketball.

We have, Mr. Speaker, just the greatest volunteers in the world in our province. I think it's one of the reasons that, when we all reflect on where we live and why we live here, there is not a member in this House who can't speak with pride about the volunteer efforts in their home communities. We hear them all the time through resolutions, but I think it's appropriate that in this - I believe it's Volunteer Week this week - that we do, as members of the Legislature, recognize the amazing contributions that our volunteers make in so many different spheres of our lives. With those few words, I will take my place.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is carried.

[2:22 p.m. The House resolved itself into a CWH on Supply with Deputy Speaker Mr. Jerry Pye in the Chair.]

[6:00 p.m. CWH on Supply rose and the House reconvened. Mr. Speaker, Hon. Murray Scott, resumed the Chair.]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. We have reached the moment of interruption.

ADJOURNMENT

MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5)

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

SYSCO: CLEANUP - ACCELERATE

MR. PAUL MACEWAN: Mr. Speaker, the draw today was won by my submission which stated, "Therefore be it resolved that has specifically booked $250 million for clean up of the Sysco site therefore the government should accelerate the clean up process instead of the go slow approach we see today."

[Page 8733]

I realize that, grammatically, that wasn't structured quite proper, but I think the drift of it is quite clear to anyone who reads it. The fact is that this government has a very large sum of money hidden away in its supposedly balanced budget; balanced by $1 million. Within that budget, we find a sum estimated at $300-odd million, more than $300-odd million. No one seems to know exactly how much. As C.D. Howe said once upon a time, what's a million? So this government is taking the attitude, what's $300 million? It doesn't matter. It's there in our budget. It's a reserve fund that we're going to draw on when we need it.

Their actions have not been motivated by the state of public concern in the Sydney area by the findings of various scientific tests that have been undertaken, by various environmental and other such tests that have been initiated, the results of which are well known. I don't need to table here all kinds of scientific findings to prove the existence in Sydney of an aftermath of 100 years of making steel there. It's well known to everyone who follows these matters.

So the question is, what is the government going to do about it? Well, they have done certain things. They have set up the Sydney Tar Ponds cleanup body with Mr. Fowler at the head of it. I don't know just which fowl Mr. Fowler is roping in these days, but he's doing something. There is activity underway. There's advertising in the paper. There's a headquarters set up on Hankard Street in one of the public housing units there where the honourable Parker Barss Donham can be found morning, noon and night to indicate the state of the universe, and various other projects are underway.

Overall, there seems to have been a very slow response to the crisis. I know there was an environmental cleanup program underway there several years ago, at which time many of the remnants of the coke ovens department of the Sydney Steel Plant were taken down. Then, suddenly, there became a state of public alarm because there was an ooze or a goo spotted coming out of a railway embankment and, based on that, the program was stopped and based on that, there were all kinds of new fresh studies and drilling and samples and so forth, taken. The conclusion of which seems to be a rather unusual one, that we can't find perhaps as much as we would like to find wrong, but other people say, well, those findings can't be trusted, and on and on it goes.

While this is going on and on there's no action being taken to spend the money that's been budgeted for the massive cleanup of Sydney Steel, the actual site of the steel plant itself, which was supposed to be, I thought, restored to greenfield conditions. That was the terms of reference - it was to be restored to greenfield conditions. Well, where are the green field conditions? Where is the activity to bring them underway. Looking out over my car window when I drive over the overpass I see basically the same things that were always there, either in an erect state or in a demolished state, but they're all still there, they're all still there.

[Page 8734]

There are ships coming along to pick up scrap loads of metal for recycling and there are various projects and plans and proposals underway, some of which, if we had more time, I could examine at some length, but I'm not going to today because the time is limited. We know that because of the loss of the Cape Breton coal industry and the fact that Nova Scotia Power makes more than one-half of its power by burning coal in Cape Breton, that coal is still needed to be burned for making electricity.

Where is that coal coming from? In the most part, it's coming from the United States, from Columbia, or some other such part of the world, South Africa I've heard as one of the sites of the coal that's being shipped in. Every time I drive across the Canso Causeway, I see at Aulds Cove a huge embankment of coal that has been shipped in by Canada Steam Ship Lines' ships and there it lies to be shipped up to Sydney by rail or by truck, I'm not sure, or if it's shipped down to Trenton, it may be shipped there by rail or by truck as well, but all this coal is coming into our province, not that we don't have coal reserves, not that we don't have the ability to mine it, but because of some reason that I can't quite put my finger on, it hasn't happened. It hasn't happened. We have at Donkin a proven coal deposit there, a tunnel that was drilled under a past Liberal Government.

AN HON. MEMBER: No, that was drilled under a Tory Government.

MR. MACEWAN: No, it was drilled under a Liberal Government I was told, but anyway it was drilled. We can agree on that. We can agree that it was drilled and that it is there and if the necessary financing and management were provided, that tunnel could be put into action quite quickly. (Interruption) Two tunnels, yes.

Then there is also the Prince Mine on the Northside at Point Aconi. The Prince Mine could be mined right now. It's not past the point where the electrical gear that's underground has been flooded yet and if the mine was started up today, coal could be taken out of it and taken by a conveyor belt, or by trucks, or by some other means of transportation, over to the nearby Point Aconi fluidized bed power generating station where it could be used to make power to keep the lights on here in this building and everywhere else in downtown Halifax and throughout Nova Scotia.

Now, the fact that that's not happening, in my view, is the largest mistake that this government is making. It's not being Tory, they could be Republican for all I care. The fact is that they aren't making these things happen. They're not tapping into Nova Scotia's own resources to make electricity which we need to have a modern industrial society here. Instead we're bringing in coal from across the world and burning it here while our own coal goes unmined. Then the government is sitting on this huge pile of cash, $230 million or so, we don't know how much, they won't tell us. We don't know what they're going to do with it. They won't make their plans public and so we go on from day to day lurching and groping and hoping and praying, but not seeing anything actually happening.

[Page 8735]

Now, how a government can remain in office with that as their record on the primary piece of action that they ought to be judged by; it certainly strikes me that they have no sense of priority. They can't understand what's important because they're sitting there balancing their budget and all kinds of foolish things and not actually getting to the meat of what we need in this province in that we need to develop our own energy resources so that we can have our own locally supplied power based on our own ability to mine coal in the ground and make it into something useful. Why that isn't happening, I don't know. We've been having a debate about the Department of Economic Development. Mr. Speaker, if there's any yardstick by which the Department of Economic Development ought to be judged, it is the yardstick that I have just mentioned in this short speech. That is what I'm looking to them to do.

I don't care what political Party they belong to, or what they say their orientation is, it's what they do rather than what they say that counts and they have done nothing.

Now, what more can I say? My time has run out and we are coming to the end. I know there are others who want to join the debate, but surely a government that ought to be doing something on these matters and hasn't done a blessed thing stands, in my view, to be criticized and to be chastised. I don't think I have any more time to speak so I rest my case.

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

MR. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, I had a very large speech ready to go here on the topic, but this seems to be gone. We've gone into coal mining instead of steelmaking, but they all go together and that's the one point I will agree with. Well they used to go together until we went from a BOF, or a basic oxygen furnace, at Sysco to an electric arc furnace that was constructed by a Tory Government that was contracted largely untendered to a company in Pittsburgh, Tippins Construction I believe. The member for Cape Breton Nova could certainly correct me on that.

Mr. Speaker, I'm going to try to stay on the essence of this resolution. That is a very important piece of infrastructure for economic renewal in Cape Breton. The Sydney Steel plant property can be one of two things: it can be crippled by indecision of government, or clearly this government can give it the added money - the monies are here, but they could actually put those monies forward - and make that area grow.

Mr. Speaker, let's put aside this government's failed opportunity with the Laurentian Sub-basin; let's put that aside and say that we have to move forward. Let's agree with the government; let's agree with the government and say okay, the past is the past. The one thing we know is that they're not going to appeal that decision, so there's no sense in my going on about the past. I'm sure another time I may not be feeling as generous and I will get up and I will speak about the foibles of this government around the Laurentian Sub-basin.

[Page 8736]

Let's talk about that property at Sydney Steel. What could we do with that property? One of the major things that we could do with the Sydney Steel property is use it to attract work for our offshore. The property is huge, it is large enough for us to get really involved in a substantial way in offshore development. We have a large lay-down area that's probably - not probably, I know it is - underdeveloped and there is nowhere probably on the East Coast where you could find an industrial base that we could use to supply our offshore as large as the Sydney Steel property. Besides an outdoor lay-down area, you have huge buildings which we could use for infrastructure in various forms. One of the largest components of the offshore is the welding industry, whether it's pipe or whether it's manufacturing, out of doors, the actual platforms themselves, there is one of the largest opportunities for that site.

Mr. Speaker, if this government was to say we're not going to use the $250 million as quoted in this resolution towards the cleanup of that site, but what they were going to do, we will say, is make that site usable for industrial economic development of that site, and involve all parties - and when I say all parties, I don't mean political Parties, parties in the largest context, the players if you will - in industrial Cape Breton, involve all those people in there, and maybe a resolution like this wouldn't come forward.

That's what we want, but what we're not seeing from this government is - probably the easiest way to explain it - an openness to sit down with people in the local area. This weekend in the Sydney area there was an open house held by Provincial Energy Ventures to

talk about what they want to use the wharf site for.

[6:15 p.m.]

I talked to some of the residents from that area who fought governments for - in round terms - 20 years about pollution from that area from coal and ore dust. These people do not trust government in a large way and government is a partner here with Provincial Energy Ventures, so what we have now is we do not have local buy-in for development for that area. So I would say the responsibility is on the minister's head. The minister has to go down - and not just the people that represent AMCI and the minister is well aware of who they are - but he has to go down and his government has to get the confidence of people in the local area that what they're doing is two things: it's securing the future of that site for economic development; and, with the job creation, it's not going to make Whitney Pier be another page in their history of economic blight. These are the two things that these people want. Why can't this government be sensitive to that?

These people don't want to inhibit economic growth, they want to be partners. There's a level of sensitivity that this government has to realize. They cannot keep using the citizens of that area as pawns in some kind of future - I'm trying to put this in nice words - usage for political gains. I will leave it at that. That's what we have to do. This government should go in - it hasn't. I mean, I've sat in on meetings and I know the member for Cape Breton Nova was there, at meetings when what the Department of Environment was telling them what

[Page 8737]

was, in fact, happening on that site, was totally wrong. The Department of Environment officials had told the residents, no, that the idea of Provincial Energy Ventures, they did not have a permit for a lay-down area of over 700,000 tons, which they did. What's happening here is a mistrust as I said earlier.

We all want, as I'm sure the member for Cape Breton North, the minister, the member for Cape Breton Nova want, to see economic growth happen in industrial Cape Breton, but the folks in that area are saying, at what price? They're saying that for years we put up with what happened at the former Devco coal piers and all of its pollution because it meant jobs. It meant substantial jobs and at that time we're talking about 200, 300, 400 jobs, but now what we're talking about is in the vicinity of possibly 50 jobs. So, you know, there's a real problem here. They're saying, there is a price on how you do economic development.

I'm asking the minister in my time, in my intervention, for him to show goodwill and for him to meet with people in the area that surrounds the Sydney Steel property and tell them what they're going to do. I applaud Provincial Energy Ventures that they held an open house, but there's a line of mistrust and I don't think that's pointed at PEV, I think it's years of government not telling those residents the full facts. I implore the minister to go and meet directly with the people around that community. Help them to understand what's going to happen, what they can expect in a real way about economic development and in jobs and help them to move forward. All we want is like every other Nova Scotian, to have a job and a good environment in which to raise our children. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Economic Development.

HON. GORDON BALSER: Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing some of my time with my colleague, the member for Cape Breton North. It gives me great pleasure to rise tonight and speak to this resolution because I can say categorically that the members opposite have to recognize that this government said what they were going to do and we've done it.

Mr. Speaker, we said clearly that the province was going to get out of the steel industry one way or the other. We tried to find a buyer - and no one can deny the fact that we worked very hard at that - it didn't happen and then we moved on to the next step. Once we made the determination that we were going to close Sysco and get out of the steel business we embarked on a three-phase plan: the first commitment we made was to deal with the workforce; the second commitment we made was to sell the assets; and the third commitment we made was to find new uses for that site. We have done that.

Mr. Speaker, in the case of the workers, every worker who was involved at Sysco now receives an enhanced pension or in fact was severed. The second priority was to sell the assets and I can tell you that in order to do that we went out and sought the best in the business to make that happen. We hired good liquidators and a demolition team that could take down the facility. The liquidators had a large, successful auction, and the demolition

[Page 8738]

team is about 35 per cent through taking down that facility and we've sold a significant amount of scrap. We are moving forward on that front.

The third obligation and commitment we made was to find out what we would do with that site, find out the future uses for the Sysco lands. In order to do that we retained EDM planners and they are recognized nationally and internationally for the work they did on the redevelopment of the former CN yards in Moncton. They know the business, they do good work, and they are doing good work on behalf of the people of Nova Scotia as it pertains to the Sysco lands.

Mr. Speaker, we made progress because we developed a plan and we stuck to that plan. That has made all of the difference in relation to Sysco. Unlike previous governments we indicated where we were going and we have held to that course. It hasn't always been easy, but I do believe it's the right course and Nova Scotians - whether they're Cape Breton Nova Scotians, mainland Nova Scotians, or Nova Scotians who may live in some other jurisdiction - recognize that we are moving in the right direction.

What this resolution would ask us to do, Mr. Speaker, is to abandon that plan. It's saying now that you're at this point, abandon the plan that you've made that sees us moving forward in an orderly, sensible fashion and simply begin to throw money at the problem in the hopes that it will address the situation.

AN HON. MEMBER: Going back to the old ways, it didn't work.

MR. BALSER: Mr. Speaker, that didn't work in the past and it won't work this time. We do not want this plan at this juncture to fail. The motion asks us to forget about moving forward on a sound environmental planning footing, it asks us to abandon the work that we've done to this point, and it asks us to ignore the proven principles of remediation. The proven principles of remediation which say first of all, determine what it is you want to do with the land, determine what the problems are in relation to the environmental remediation required, and then move forward. That's not the way to approach this problem. We know that throwing money at it doesn't work.

I can tell you, Mr. Speaker, that we will continue on the path that we are currently on, and that is to develop a comprehensive, sound, fiscally responsible plan and hold to it. In fact we've already completed Phase I of the environmental assessment that included hazardous materials surveys and removal of those hazardous materials from the buildings and the surrounding lands. Our priority is to work safely, to ensure that the workers who are involved in decommissioning and demolition at not put unduly at risk. It makes sense to know the background, to know the issues and then to move forward responsibly.

[Page 8739]

In fact, we have monies identified in this year's budget to do phase two of the assessment this summer. That will involve drilling test holes, Mr. Speaker, and again, it's important that the buildings be removed to ensure that the testing can be thorough. It's difficult to jump around, as the member opposite suggests in the resolution. Just put the money in play. It doesn't matter if you have a plan; just get the money out there because that's what it's all about. It didn't work in the past and it won't work this time. As I mentioned before, we are now in the process of determining the future uses of that site.

Mr. Speaker, the honourable member opposite, in his remarks, talked about greenfield remediation. There are a number of steps that will determine whether or not it requires greenfield remediation, brownfield remediation or some level in between. In fact, brownfield remediation suggests that there might be some industrial use for that site, and it would appear, based on provincial energy ventures, that industrial redevelopment makes sense for a great deal of that land mass. Again, it's a question of having a plan that makes sense and moving forward responsibly. On that note, I will turn it over to my esteemed colleague for Cape Breton North.

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

MR. CECIL CLARKE: Mr. Speaker, I do want to thank the member for Cape Breton Nova for bringing this debate item forward this evening. While I may not agree with the language, I do agree with the item with regard to community consultation. I would like to talk about that for the remaining minutes and the fact that throughout this process, as Cape Breton has been an economy in transition, never in the history of Cape Breton has there been so much input and opportunity for consultation, and it's by community groups.

When you look at the Sydney Tar Ponds Agency, the JAG process, and the processes this government is implementing with regard to Devco and the transfer of leases to the province, the good Minister of Natural Resources is not going about and merely grabbing leases to throw them back out. We're making sure that Cape Breton is going to benefit from a full transition plan for the remediation obligations of the Government of Canada; that is the smart, wise and prudent thing to do for the people of Cape Breton, no different than it is smart, wise and prudent to ensure that the Sysco site redevelopment is done. It went through an organized and detailed plan that is going through community consultation.

The member for Cape Breton Centre also mentioned the provincial energies. They are out in the community on Friday and Saturday. I had an opportunity on Saturday to go to their open house, and they were pleased with the numbers and the diversity of people coming through who actually had questions and felt a level of comfort that they were being answered. Our community and this government is open to making sure that answers are provided. I think I want to compliment the CBRM as well and its recent decision to endorse and continue with the JAG process. That is one that is showing results and one where all levels of government are providing leadership and working with the community volunteers who

[Page 8740]

make that organization work. No different than the efforts of the Tar Ponds Agency and the community, as the honourable member for Cape Breton Nova said, there's a lot of activity and dialogue going on to ensure that community needs and aspirations are being met by this government and other levels of government, Mr. Speaker.

So when we want to look at the consultation processes, they are no different than the community revitalization efforts that are happening throughout Cape Breton, and those are not being driven by some government agency. They're being driven by community and the goals of those communities and are ensuring that indeed progress is made by people being part of the process and working in partnership with government, Mr. Speaker. So it's very important that as we move forward on this issue we recognize, and I concur, that the openness that has been established by this government to provide the community with real information and real facts so we can go forward - and those decisions will be decisions that the community will be part of and will be able to plan around.

I look at the opportunities with the establishment of provincial energy ventures, the jobs that they will bring and the leverage for other opportunities, and the fact that we look to them and their goals for the economy to ensure that things like our rail line are preserved because they're out there bringing business to that line. So the community consultation process is working. The Tar Ponds Agency is working and JAG continues. Mr. Speaker, I am very proud of my colleagues who are ensuring that the interests of Cape Breton are being met.

MR. SPEAKER: The time allotted for the debate has expired.

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

[6:55 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 some progress in considering Supply and asks leave to sit again.

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

[Page 8741]

The honourable Government House Leader.

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

PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 109, the Financial Measures (2002) Act.

Bill No. 109 - Financial Measures (2002) Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I'm rising in my place this evening to speak in support of the hoist resolution that was introduced last evening by my colleague, the honourable member for Halifax Fairview. This isn't the first time we've seen such a resolution but I think if there ever was an appropriate opportunity to have a resolution such as this, it is with respect to this particular piece of legislation and the implications of this legislation in this government's budget.

For the past few weeks we've been here now. We've seen a budget with what is probably a generous way to characterize this budget as a razor thin surplus, a budget that has mathematical errors throughout it, a budget that makes questionable choices about where this government's priorities truly lie. A budget that will inflict even more pain and suffering on people throughout this province who have already endured quite a lot of pain and suffering over the past number of years as they have seen various governments, governments of different political stripes attempt to manage the affairs of this province and not do all that great a job in the process.

Everywhere I go the degree of skepticism that exists with respect to this budget, with respect to the choices this government has made, and with respect to where this government is taking the province is extremely high. I have never experienced such deep disappointment and cynicism. I have to say, nowhere is the depth of the cynicism and the disappointment any deeper than with the senior citizens who reside in my community.

So I think first, if we were to hoist this bill for a period of six months to allow some meaningful consultation with senior citizens in this province, we may, in fact, be able to come back to this place and do something useful for people in the province. Particularly for seniors.

[Page 8742]

Mr. Speaker, I don't need to remind you, I'm sure, that the first thing that occurred that sounded a very bad note for where this government would be going with the introduction of the budget was the announcement by the Minister of Health prior to the House being reconvened that Pharmacare premiums in the Province of Nova Scotia would be increased. The Minister of Health makes much, and has made much of the fact that he consulted prior to making those changes. But let me tell you, the senior citizens in my community do not feel consulted whatsoever. They feel like they have been certainly abused in this process.

In fact, the group of nine senior citizen's organizations which the minister talks about consulting, they also are not feeling very good about the process that the minister used. The fact that the minister introduced these changes in the Pharmacare Program, changes that will see large numbers of senior citizens in the province with very modest incomes have to carry an increased financial burden for Pharmacare coverage is a very serious matter for most of these seniors. In many cases, the medical profession themselves are concerned about the non-compliance in taking prescription drugs that will result from seniors who will attempt to ration their medication in an effort to reduce the costs they have to bear. I know that just in my own area there are seniors who have opted out of the Seniors' Pharmacare Program. This will leave them quite vulnerable if they get into a situation where they become ill. Many of these seniors are people who are in good health right now and make that choice because they don't want to be participating in a plan that they're not using.

[7:00 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, that can change very quickly as we all know. If that were to occur, then certainly they would be in a very real bind. Part of the changes around the Seniors' Pharmacare Program that exempted more low income seniors was a very good thing, but the fact that the government continually shifts the burden of the cost of this program onto individual seniors is not a good thing. We are seeing this creeping change in the proportion of the Seniors' Pharmacare Program that this government is prepared to pay for, so that seniors are increasing the amount of money they have to pay and government is reducing its share proportionately.

Mr. Speaker, this is not lost on seniors. Budgets used to be about providing things to improve people's lives, and we have seen in the past programs for seniors, programs for children, programs for families, programs for students, and we see nothing in this budget to assist our seniors, our families, our children. In fact, what we see in this budget is an uncanny, I think, tendency to attack people who are the most vulnerable, those who have the least in a province that has an abundance of resources and opportunities, but yet they're not shared in an equitable way.

We have seen, time and time again in the last few weeks in this House, that this is a budget and this is a government, in terms of the choices they make, that continually favours a select few over many people who either have very little, have the least ability to be able to

[Page 8743]

lose important programs or, increasingly, our middle class population who feel more and more that they're falling off that plateau, the middle class plateau. Increasingly, they're falling into the lower income groups.

Mr. Speaker, I'm sure you must hear this yourself from middle income people, who feel that they're the ones who the squeeze is being put on because they see people with means and advantage continually having the big expense accounts. We've had to go to the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act to look at the expenditures of deputy ministers in the province. If we had six months, I think we probably would have an opportunity to do a little more digging to bring out some of the inequities in the choices that government makes, in the way that money gets spent for some people and the way it gets taken away, and resources and opportunities get taken away from others.

Mr. Speaker, I think the biggest area, well, there are a number of areas, but one of the biggest areas that this government needs to do some reflecting on and could use the six month time period if we were to hoist the Financial Measures (2002) Act would be with respect to the $890,000 that has been removed from transition houses, women's centres and men's treatment programs.

Mr. Speaker, if we had six months, we could send members of the Cabinet, perhaps, on a mandatory history course where they could spend some time learning a little bit about the history of how many of these organizations came to be. I was told by some visitors we had in the gallery last week that a member of the government caucus - when this person had an opportunity to speak with our visitors, who came here to express their concerns about the cuts to these organizations, they told these people that this wasn't the 1980s. You know, things have changed. Get with it. I know I heard that kind of a message from the caucus leader of the government, who basically said there was a time back in the 1980s when money flowed freely, but things have changed now; we can't afford these programs anymore, he was essentially saying.

Mr. Speaker, if you go back and look at how much money this province was spending in the 1980s, we spend significantly more money today than we did in the 1980s. Yet, back in the 1980s, when we had less money to spend, we were spending it on these programs. So it is not a good argument that says we can't afford these things anymore. Our wealth in this province has continually grown. Our Gross Domestic Product has continually grown. This idea that we don't have the resources doesn't hold any water if you look at that. This argument is purely a belief system. It's value-based. It's based on ideology; it's not based on fact. We need to say that clearly. We need to understand that and the reasons that organizations like transition houses, men's treatment programs and women's centres came into being. Those reasons are the same today, unfortunately, as they were back in the late 1970s and early 1980s when these organizations were founded.

[Page 8744]

We still have way too much violence in some families. We have danger for some women and children. We have people who have to escape those environments for their safety - for their lives, quite often, Mr. Speaker - and that hasn't changed, notwithstanding what the Minister of Community Services may want us to believe. The Minister of Justice will not be able to protect people in these situations with some tinkering in the legal system. If that was the answer, it would have been the answer 20 years ago when people were bringing this issue out of the secrecy in which it had been buried for many centuries.

I think that if we had a period of six months, we could give the consultation process that should have occurred with those programs an opportunity to develop and unfold. Many of these organizations are understandably nervous, somewhat distrustful and uncertain about what their fate will be with this government after the Legislature finishes in this session, Mr. Speaker. They express this to me all the time. How will we be able to ensure that we can hold the government, the Minister of Community Services, the Minister of Justice and the Premier to their word when, in fact, they won't give us their word they use weasel language, quite often, to avoid making any firm and hard commitments and when anything they say changes the next day? We've seen this with the Minister of Community Services on this issue, for example, when he started off by saying 32 beds would close and then he said 90-some beds would close.

Then the Minister of Natural Resources says it was all a rumour, there were never any plans to close anything. We've seen the document that's talking about liquidating assets and the only assets many of these organizations have, in fact, are the physical houses themselves. We're not stupid, we can all read the written words on the page and we can understand what that means when they talk about a minimum of one house in each region and all of these kinds of things and understand that $1 million in reduced expenditure in the province in organizations that have very small budgets anyway - I think the largest budget of a transition house in Nova Scotia is not larger than $650,000, Mr. Speaker, and that would be Bryony House here in Halifax. The minister is shaking his head, but I believe that the transition house here in Halifax, its budget is roughly around $650,000, maybe slightly more. (Interruption) $900,000.

So, Mr. Speaker, you know, to take that amount of money, a 20 per cent reduction to the services would have certainly meant that some of these services would have had to close their doors. This is a very serious matter. We've seen, we've heard from the public in the province, you know, the daily newspapers, the editorials, the cartoonists, the letters to the editor, the phone calls, the e-mails, the visits to our House, certainly would indicate that the public at large understand and are much more in touch with the average person in this province on this issue than the members of the Cabinet who certainly would have known what the Minister of Community Services was proposing and would have supported him in his proposal to reduce services in this way.

[Page 8745]

So, Mr. Speaker, I think that if we took six months, if we hoisted the Financial Measures Act (2002) for six months, this would allow the proper consultation process that should have occurred before to go forward with those organizations. It would be a perfect opportunity for the Minister of Community Services, for example, to find out what a women's centre does because women's centres and transition houses are not the same thing. They have very different client groups. They provide quite a different bundle of services and, in fact, they are really very entrepreneurial organizations if you want to use that kind of a set of eyeglasses to look at a women's centre because, as I've said here before, they're able to take $100,000 in core funding from the province and they grow it to, well, in the case of the Antigonish Women's Resource Centre, about $550,000 last year and the same thing with the Pictou County Women's Centre.

Mr. Speaker, this means that they're able to use the core staff to put together proposals that they then can submit to the federal government under maybe HRDC, or under their national crime prevention strategy. They may be able to go to ACOA. ACOA right now has developed a whole new focus, an additional focus, to help in the area of economic development and business development for women and the women's centres are very interested in tapping into the ACOA program that will assist them in developing a small enterprise at a local level in communities across the province.

Mr. Speaker, you're from a rural community in the province, you will know that there are many people in your area who have a lot of talent, who have great ability. There's always a need for the provision of more goods and services and often all that people need is access to small amounts of capital to assist them in developing their business plans, to do start-up programming, or even in some places where they already have a small enterprise to look at expansion, to look at developing, doing some research and looking at ways to develop and expand.

[7:15 p.m.]

I think if we had six months we certainly could take time to see how the consultation process goes, to help the minister become more familiar with those services, to help the Cabinet become more familiar with those services, so that they can see what other people in Nova Scotia can see, the value of these programs and the importance of maintaining these programs. I think the other thing we could do, Mr. Speaker, if we had six additional months, is we could give the Minster of Justice time to develop and start to implement the procedures and the protections under the domestic violence legislation from last Spring.

We would have an opportunity to have that consultation process because those mechanisms to assist people to stay in their own homes, to provide some emergency interim orders, none of those mechanisms are in place. They probably won't be in place. They probably won't even be in place in six months time if we hoisted this bill. Certainly the

[Page 8746]

consultation process around those mechanisms, which is ongoing with the various organizations would be allowed more time if we had time to do this.

Today we had an opportunity to hear about some changes that are occurring in the child welfare system here in the metro area, and I think that certainly these are changes that concern us here in the NDP caucus. The government members didn't seem to be too concerned that there are gong to be vacant child protection jobs in three of the district offices of their own government. I would hope that if we could take six months this government might, in that time be convinced by members of the public and members of the various professions, have a knowledge of what this means.

I had an opportunity to speak with people today from the Nova Scotia Association of Social Workers, about these vacant positions. People are really at a loss to explain, to give a logical, reasonable explanation for what this government is doing and for the choices this government is making. Mr. Speaker, this is such a good example of the real harm that is done to real people, and people who are very vulnerable, by actions that have no explanation, but get dismissed out of hand by members of the government when they're raised by the Opposition.

To lose the child welfare worker who's responsible for children in care from the Dartmouth office leaves me pretty well speechless. I cannot imagine how this minister or this government could justify the fact that this government who is the guardian of young people who are in care are not prepared to provide the worker who actually carries out the supervision and the support for those young people in care who have become basically the custodial responsibility of the state, the government, the province. They are left without someone who will look after their needs, to make sure that they are getting to their medical appointments, attending school, have their clothing allowance, and have somebody to come to if they're living in a residential situation where, for whatever reason, they may be abused.

Mr. Speaker, you and I know that that, unfortunately, occurs way too often. You can have children in care in a foster home or a residential setting with other young people, and they, in some situations, can very well be subject to various forms of harassment, bullying, and abuse, be it sexual abuse, physical abuse, or emotional abuse. The people who are responsible to ensure that at all times we as a society know, because this government is the parent of that child, because of the fact that the courts have ordered this child taken into the care of the state for the protection and the security of that child, we need those workers who will be there for these children in care.

Mr. Speaker, when I heard today that one of the workers will no longer be available to these young people as a result of the Minister of Community Services' budget and decisions, this caused me, really, a lot of distress. I find it hard to imagine what the minister's rationale for this situation is. I think it would be reasonable to hoist the Financial Measures

[Page 8747]

(2002) Act for six months to give us an opportunity to try very much to - the member for Colchester North wants to get up on the debate, does he? (Interruptions)

MR. WILLIAM LANGILLE: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. The Financial Measures (2002) Act, we have seven widows who have waited for a long time to get their rightful due, their money from workers' compensation, and this NDP Party now is hoisting a bill to keep these poor widows from getting their money. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. That was not a point of order. The honourable member for Halifax Needham has the floor.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, it's very apparent that there is no length to which members of that government will not stoop. There's no length to which you won't go, is there, to try to save your political backsides? But let me tell you, people in this province are not fooled for one moment that members on that side give two hoots for the widows of this province. Okay? Because this is a government that only cares about the select few. The rights of everybody else they will trample without any hesitation, and they will not apologize for it. They really don't care about the vast majority of people in this province. People in this province know that, and they know that only too well. It's a shame. It's a very big shame.

Mr. Speaker, if we hoisted the Financial Measures (2002) Act, we would give the Minister of Health an opportunity to do what he should have done when he changed the coverage in the Children's Dental Program so that families that have insurance now are going to be required to be the payer for children's dental care. I had an opportunity to talk to the minister in estimates. He had no difficulty admitting that they had done no analysis, no study, no assessment. He was unable to say what impact that change was going to have on the cost of private insurance to employers in this province and to employees who have to pay premiums, as well, for coverage. He was unable to say what would happen to children in plans that are not as extensive as the provincial plan, that require 30 per cent payment, that don't cover certain aspects of dental care for children. He was totally unable to respond to any of this.

Mr. Speaker, I would think that it would be incumbent on the Minister of Health, before making such a significant change in public policy that will take a certain number of children, a large number of children and families, out of the public Children's Dental Plan, to actually have spent some time doing that assessment prior to making such an important and significant shift in the plan. But did he do it? No, he did not do it. Why didn't he do it? Because he's not all that concerned about the dental health of the children. He's worried about the bottom line. He needs to take some time. He could use the six months to do the analysis, to look at what the implications are of these changes and who's going to pay the price for this.

[Page 8748]

Mr. Speaker, there's a larger issue that needs to be examined with this change and I think this issue we need to look at with some seriousness with respect to our health care system because, increasingly, the role of private insurance is expanding in the private health care system, with very little study, very little public debate and we need an opportunity to hear from members of the public about how they feel about an expanded role for private insurance and the provision of health care services. We also could probably take some time to look at a lot of the study and the analysis that has been done, an analysis that I believe actually sits in the Department of Health, with respect to the implications for involving more and more private providers in the health care system, what this means under trade deals.

Mr. Speaker, it has been suggested that once you open up your health care system to more and more provision in a private-for-profit way including private health insurers - because that's what they are, it's a profitable form of enterprise - then it becomes very difficult to reverse that. It could become impossible, let's say, to decide that you want to introduce a 100 per cent fully universal dental program for children in the province once you've taken a certain proportion of children out of the public plan, because then you will create a situation where the industry will say that you're taking away business that they've had, legitimate business that they entered into in good faith, because government, essentially, put them in that position and they will be denied a certain segment of their business and the profits that they realize from offering these services. We may be sued and then we will have to compensate insurance companies for the damage that has been done to their bottom line and the impact that that will have on their investors.

[7:30 p.m.]

So, Mr. Speaker, the fact that this government so readily is prepared to hive off pieces of programs that are important public programs and parcel them out, give them out to private industry without so much as a cursory kind of examination of what the costs are, a cost-benefit analysis of what the costs are, what the benefits would be, what the implications are, short term and long term, is very shocking and I think that before that happens we could do ourselves, as a province, and the children in this province a great favour, I think, by spending some time and really reflecting on what the implications of these changes are both in the short term and in the long term.

I think that if there is any sober opportunity for reflection on that side of the government benches it needs to be around the Arts Council and the way in which the Arts Council was summarily dismissed and dismantled and, Mr. Speaker, I don't know if the Minister of Tourism and Culture is the person to do this reflecting, I rather suspect not, I think his mind is pretty made up from what I can see, but I don't know about maybe some other members of the government who I think probably have a greater appreciation for process and a process that is more respectful of people in the province.

[Page 8749]

I know, Mr. Speaker, that the day the government announced the dismantling of the Arts Council was a day that we were very shocked in the NDP caucus to hear about; we could not believe that the decision had been taken, and the manner in which it was taken was totally unacceptable. To imagine that people who are Nova Scotians, who were going to work every day in the service of this province, would be treated in a fashion as if they were criminals, escorted out of their offices, told to take their personal belongings, their keys taken from them, security persons called in, and padlocks put on the door is something that you hear about in basically very undemocratic countries that are ruled by military juntas or something. You don't really expect that kind of behaviour in a small province like Nova Scotia, where everybody knows everybody else and we all basically try to get along and be courteous to each other.

Mr. Speaker, I think if we had an opportunity to hoist this bill for six months, it certainly would give the government an opportunity to think about the way they treated the members of the arts community, the way they treated that staff at the Arts Council, the way they treated members who were appointed to the board of the Arts Council, and actually to rethink the whole redesign of the Arts Council, the redesign that is going to, I fear - as many people in the arts community fear - result in a complete undermining of a vibrant artistic community. We have a professional arts community in Nova Scotia that has been thriving, that has done so much for the reputation of our province - not only inside our province but across the country, internationally - and it's a shame to return to a parochial, patronage-ridden approach to the arts in this province. My fear and the fear of many people who know this area much better than I do is that we will lose people from our province, that they will move elsewhere.

You have to foster the kinds of artistic talent that we have in our community. One of my neighbours is Scott Macmillan whose work, I think, increasingly has come to the attention of just about everybody in this province. Scott and his partner, Jennifer, are both very accomplished artists and musicians in this province. I had an opportunity to read an e-mail that they had sent to me as their MLA. Really, it breaks your heart that people who have made such a significant contribution to arts and culture in this province are feeling so betrayed, disillusioned, disrespected by their government . We need to say to the minister and if we had six months, perhaps we would have time for the Minister of Tourism and Culture to come to his senses and understand the irreparable harm that this move can do, the kind of feeling that exists in the arts community about his approach and this government's approach. They can scoff at these ideas, but I will tell you right now the artists in this province will not forget what this government has done and they will certainly make their views known whenever this government gets up the moral courage to go to the polls in this province and test the views of Nova Scotians on how they handle important issues like the Arts Council as well as other areas.

[Page 8750]

I get the feeling that people think, oh they're just a small group; we can do this because they're a minority, they're just a small group. Who cares? Who really cares? The problem with that thinking is, that's the thinking that they're using with every group. The seniors - they're just a small group. The women's shelters and the women's centres and the men's treatment programs - they're just a small group. The Arts Council - they're just a small group. The children's dental program - oh, they're just a small group. Well, Mr. Speaker, all of these small groups, have you ever seen the picture of the little fish eating the big fish when they get together? That's what's going to happen to this government. I think members of that government, if they don't know it, then they really need to wake up and perhaps they need six months to get out in the community and really come to grips with the fact that the choices they have made have really hurt many, many groups. They seem to be quite indiscriminate in terms of the impact that they're prepared to have on a vast majority of people of middle- income and low-income groups, and they're really not prepared to take on the select few.

Mr. Speaker, another area I think this government could reflect on if they had six months is how they could realistically take some of the millions of dollars that are being reaped in new tobacco taxation and invest that into smoking cessation programs. This government is putting in 1 per cent, 1 per cent of what it gets in tobacco taxation into smoking cessation programs. That's disgraceful. That is disgraceful. I have people who call me all the time, and I have senior citizens who call me who would like to quit smoking, would very much like to quit smoking. I had a very interesting gentleman e-mail me. He had some great ideas about how the government could cover some of the smoking cessation pharmaceuticals under the Pharmacare Program, allow people to get them one time only and that way they would be able to utilize the program and quit smoking.

Mr. Speaker, the cure is more expensive than the cause. Cigarettes are actually cheaper than the smoking cessation supports, pharmaceutical supports. We all understand that tobacco is an addictive substance. Very few people are able to quit just using their will to do it. Many people require the pharmaceutical aids. They also require other programs, support programs, small-group support, 12-step kinds of programs that will help people develop the behaviours to understand the triggers of when they crave nicotine and how to deal with this.

Mr. Speaker, why we don't invest more of the tobacco tax into smoking cessation is beyond me. I think if we had the time, the six months that this hoist would give us, then certainly that would give us an opportunity to examine more carefully what this government might do in terms of utilizing tobacco tax for cessation programs.

Mr. Speaker, last week, I believe the last day of Question Period last week, I had an opportunity, just briefly, at the end of the Question Period to ask the Minister of Health a question about information I had been receiving about an MRI clinic that's opening in the Clayton Park area in July. Of course, not surprising to me in any way I didn't really get much of an answer from the Minister of Health. However, I think there are many, many issues in our health care system that require further study, and this would be one area that I would like

[Page 8751]

to see us really spend some time looking at if we had six months, whether or not, in fact, an MRI clinic, a private MRI clinic is going to go forward, how will that clinic function, is there public money in this clinic, will there be subcontracting or contracting out of public services to this clinic and, if so, what that would mean for the Canada Health Act and adhering to the Canada Health Act.

These are all questions that we need to spend some time looking at. The federal government has a program on housing that they've allocated funds - $18 million I believe they've allocated - to the Province of Nova Scotia. The only problem is in order to get that money we have to match expenditures with our own revenue. Mr. Speaker, housing is a very serious problem throughout the province. Housing stock in many rural areas throughout the province is not in good shape, and in fact in urban areas quite a bit of housing stock isn't in good shape.

[7:45 p.m.]

We had an organization here today come to visit us, Adsum House, and their emergency shelter for women and children. They have been able to get a guarantee from the federal government that the federal government will provide funds to Adsum House for a new service called Nahaum House, which will be a longer-term residential facility for women and children in the Timberlea-Prospect area. However, in order to access that federal government money, the provincial government has to pony up its fair share. This money has to be, and this guarantee has to be, in place by the end of April. If it's not, then the federal money will be off the table.

The Minister of Community Services I understand is prepared to talk to the federal government to get an extension of the federal money, so that he can have some time to look in his budget and see what's available so that in fact we can take advantage of the federal money. While I am somewhat skeptical that the federal government would be prepared to do this for the Minister of Community Services, if we had six months, we didn't pass the Financial Measures (2002) Act, then we would be able to give the Minister of Community Services a six month extension, see if he could get an extension from the federal government and that program could go ahead. Mr. Speaker, it's a program that's a very important program and to see the minister sort of dilly-dally around and not make the commitment here on April 23rd, when the time is clicking on the clock and we know that there's federal money available and that it will be lost because we're not prepared to put up our fair share I think would be really too bad.

Mr. Speaker, I think that there's another very concrete reason why we could take time to hoist this bill and have a real look at the implications. I think the last thing we could do from my perspective, if we had some time to study more aspects of the Financial Measures (2002) Act is to look at the profitization of Community Services, it's being called. The Department of Community Services has a plan to bring in the public sector to provide intake

[Page 8752]

- an intake system - for community services. This is not a good idea, this is a situation where what is going to occur is that public money that's desperately needed for front-line public services is going to be siphoned off into a for-profit organization that knows buzz-all about the provision of social and community services.

Anything that members of this caucus can do in the six months to convince the Minister of Community Services that every dollar of public money in his department needs to be allocated for the people who rely on his department would be time well spent. I think there's no justification, there's absolutely no justification for seeing public money absconded into the pockets of some large multinational or conglomerate of private interests that do not need to be in the public pockets of Nova Scotians. If there's anything we can do to prevent that from occurring, I think we need to do that, quite clearly.

Mr. Speaker, I don't know how much time I have remaining.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member has until 7:55 p.m.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I think that there are many other areas of public policy that we would have a chance to discuss and examine in more detail if we hoisted the Financial Measures (2002) Act. I haven't had an opportunity to talk about education, but there are a lot of concerns in this province about the state of our education system and the fact that the choices being made by this Tory Government in its budget are not contributing to any improvement in the educational attainment of the children and the students of this province. If there was ever a time for us to be investing in the capacity of our young people to be the best they can be in an environment that's extremely competitive and has high demands on the abilities of people to perform, it's now, and this government seems quite oblivious to the fact that this is the situation.

So, Mr. Speaker, I will conclude by saying that clearly this is a government that has an uncanny tendency to attack the most vulnerable. This is a government that not only makes really bad choices in terms of expenditures of revenues but seems profoundly incapable of generating revenue from our own resources and various places where we have wealth and should be seeing benefits. Time and time again this government can only go two places for revenue - one, the taxpayers in Nova Scotia, who they seem to be able to turn upside down by the ankles and shake the daylights right out of, and the other, cutting the heart and soul out of the most important and quite often the least capable areas to give up revenue. Let me say that even when they cut in these areas, there's very little revenue to be gained.

So, Mr. Speaker, we need to hoist the Financial Measures (2002) Act and we need to give Nova Scotians a greater opportunity to be heard with respect to this government's choices. I will now move the adjournment of the debate.

[Page 8753]

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is to adjourn debate on Bill No. 109.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the NDP House Leader, I move that the House sit on the morrow at the hour of 11:00 a.m. Business will conclude at the conclusion of Oral Question Period, for the day. I move that the House do now rise.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is that the House will adjourn until tomorrow morning at 11:00 a.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.

The House is adjourned until 11:00 a.m. tomorrow.

[The House rose at 7:54 p.m.]

[Page 8754]

NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3)

RESOLUTION NO. 3357

By: Mr. Ronald Chisholm (Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury)

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

Whereas volunteers are the cornerstone of Nova Scotia's strong towns and villages because of their selfless dedication to others; and

Whereas the 2002 Provincial Volunteer Awards were presented at the Provincial Volunteer Award Ceremony and Luncheon on April 19th at the Westin Hotel, to pay tribute to Nova Scotians who show their commitment to their community by donating their time and skills in so many different ways to others; and

Whereas Ralph Hadley, representing the Town of Mulgrave, was named as a Provincial Representative Volunteer;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Ralph Hadley on being named Town of Mulgrave Volunteer of the Year and thank all volunteers in the province for the selfless work they dedicate to the communities throughout the year.

RESOLUTION NO. 3358

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

Whereas the Oxford Area Volunteer Fire Department annually holds a winter carnival and pageant at which a mini prince and princess are chosen; and

Whereas at this year's pageant Justin Keating and Alexa Thompson were crowned mini prince and princess; and

Whereas Brandon Casey was selected as prince runner-up and the title of princess runner-up went to Kendra Mattinson;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate Oxford's youngest royal family on this honour.

[Page 8755]

RESOLUTION NO. 3359

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

Whereas Springhill High School held its annual winter carnival pageant, at which time the students chose who would make up the school's royal court for 2002; and

Whereas Michael Legere and Ashley Martin were crowned king and queen with Miss Martin also receiving the honour of being elected Miss Congeniality and Miss Talent; and

Whereas other members of the royal court are Scott MacDonald, Mr. Congeniality and 1st prince; Alex Henwood, 2nd prince; Heather Hunter, 1st princess; and Ashley Gilbert, 2nd princess;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate these six Springhill High School students on their ascent to the royal throne and wish them luck throughout the rest of the school year.

RESOLUTION NO. 3360

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

Whereas Master Warrant Officer Bonnie Mattinson of the 1859 Springhill Cadet Corps has recently been awarded a $1,000 scholarship towards her education at the Nova Scotia Community College where she is a continuing care assistant student; and

Whereas the scholarship is administered by the Youth Initiative Program on behalf of the Department of National Defence and has been available for three years; and

Whereas Master Warrant Officer Mattinson is the seventh Springhill cadet who was a recipient of this scholarship;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate Master Warrant Officer Bonnie Mattinson on the scholarship she has received and wish her the best of luck in her studies at the Nova Scotia Community College.

[Page 8756]

RESOLUTION NO. 3361

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

Whereas Springhill High School recently held its annual Grades 7 and 8 science fair; and

Whereas the science fair was divided into various categories including life science, research and engineering; and

Whereas the winners in the engineering category are Kristen Welsh, Stephanie Rushton, Stephanie Hatfield, Caitlyn Wood, Jarrod Rolfe and Geoff Ryan;

Therefore be it resolved that this House applaud these six exceptional young people on their success in the science fair and hope that their interest in life sciences continues throughout their school years and chosen careers.

RESOLUTION NO. 3362

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

Whereas Springhill High School recently held its annual Grades 7 and 8 science fair; and

Whereas the science fair was divided into various categories including life science, research and engineering; and

Whereas the winners in the research category was Marcie Meekins, coming in second was Melissa Adshade and placing third was Seth Crowe;

Therefore be it resolved that this House applaud these three exceptional young people on their success in the science fair and hope that their interest in life sciences continues throughout their school years and chosen careers.

[Page 8757]

RESOLUTION NO. 3363

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

Whereas Springhill High School recently held its annual Grades 7 and 8 science fair; and

Whereas the science fair was divided into various categories including life science, research and engineering; and

Whereas Tela Varner was the winner in the life science category, partners Ali Hollis and Brittany Herrett placed second and, placing third, was Teesha Synes;

Therefore be it resolved that this House applaud these four exceptional young ladies on their success in the science fair and hope that their interest in life sciences continues throughout their school years and chosen careers.

RESOLUTION NO. 3364

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 the Mathieu Da Costa Challenge Awards, held annually, invites students to prepare a short essay, poem or other piece of artwork, celebrating the contributions of people of aboriginal or diverse ethno-cultural origins; and

Whereas Canadian Heritage sponsors this program and this year alone it attracted over 550 entries from across the country; and

Whereas Alison Taylor, from Prince Arthur Junior High School, was one of the nine recipients from across Canada to receive the prestigious award;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate Ms. Taylor on her achievement and honour of receiving the Mathieu Da Costa Challenge Award.

[Page 8758]

RESOLUTION NO. 3365

By: Hon. David Morse (Environment and Labour)

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

Whereas the Mathieu Da Costa Challenge Awards, held annually, invites students to prepare a short essay, poem or other piece of artwork, celebrating the contributions of people of aboriginal or diverse ethno-cultural origins; and

Whereas Canadian Heritage sponsors this program and this year alone it attracted over 550 entries from across the country; and

Whereas Heather MacArthur, from Horton High School, was one of the nine recipients from across Canada to receive the prestigious award;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate Ms. MacArthur on her achievement and honour of receiving the Mathieu Da Costa Challenge Award.