Assemblée Législative de la Nouvelle-Écosse

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21 septembre 2017

HANSARD 01/02-95

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 30, 2002

TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE
Speaker's Ruling: Decorum in House of Assembly Gallery. (Pt. of Priv.
by Mr. D. Wilson [Hansard p.8877]) 9111
GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 3532, St. F.X. - Honorary Degrees: Recipients - Congrats.,
Hon. J. Purves 9116
Vote - Affirmative 9117
Res. 3533, Dalhousie/Gov't. Partners - Int'l. Erosion Control Assoc.:
Award - Congrats., Hon. D. Morse 9117
Vote - Affirmative 9117
Res. 3534, Martin, Cst. Tom: Hfx. Rotary Club Police Officer of the Yr. -
Congrats., Hon. M. Baker 9117
Vote - Affirmative 9118
Res. 3535, White, Mary Anne: Union Carbide Award (2001) - Congrats.,
Hon. J. Purves 9118
Vote - Affirmative 9119
TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS:
Anl. Rept. of the Nova Scotia Real Estate Commission, Hon. A. MacIsaac 9119
NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 3536, Lobbyists' Registration Act: Gov't. (N.S.) - Proclaim,
Mr. D. Dexter 9119
Res. 3537, Health - Southwest DHA: Blood Collection Fees -
Rescind, Mr. W. Gaudet 9120
Res. 3538, Turpin, Bill: Service - Thank, Mr. M. Parent 9121
Vote - Affirmative 9122
Res. 3539, Naugle, Thomas & Doris: Anniv. (60th) - Congrats.,
Mr. K. Deveaux 9122
Vote - Affirmative 9122
Res. 3540, Health - Comprehensive Plan: Provision - Failure Condemn,
Dr. J. Smith 9123
Res. 3541, Hallett, Corey: NCAA/Scholarship - Congrats.,
Mr. C. O'Donnell 9123
Vote - Affirmative 9124
Res. 3542, C.B. Reg. Hosp. Fdn.: Fundraising - Congrats., Mr. F. Corbett 9124
Res. 3543, Fraser, Greg/Baddeck Vol. FD: Service - Thank,
Mr. K. MacAskill 9125
Vote - Affirmative 9125
Res. 3544, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum -
Pictou Rotary Club: Production - Congrats., Mrs. M. Baillie 9126
Vote - Affirmative 9126
Res. 3545, Clean N.S. Fdn. - Cleanup: Participants - Congrats.,
Mr. H. Epstein 9126
Vote - Affirmative 9127
Res. 3546, Transport. & Pub. Wks.: Bridges - Replace, Mr. P. MacEwan 9127
Res. 3547, Mainland North Local Comm. on Drug Awareness -
Poster Contest: Participants - Congrats., Ms. M. McGrath 9128
Vote - Affirmative 9128
Res. 3548, Boutilier, Laura/Mtl. Canadiens: Victory - Congrats.,
Mr. W. Estabrooks 9129
Res. 3549, LeBlanc, Rachelle - Univ. de Moncton: Fem. Athlete
of the Year. - Congrats., Mr. W. Gaudet 9129
Vote - Affirmative 9130
Res. 3550, Anna. East Elem. Sch. - Anti-Violence Prog.: Involvement -
Congrats., Mr. F. Chipman 9131
Vote - Affirmative 9131
Res. 3551, Greystone Tenants' Assoc. - CAP Site: Opening - Congrats.,
Mr. Robert Chisholm 9131
Vote - Affirmative 9132
Res. 3552, Denny, Brent/Sydney River Vol. Fire Dept.: Anniv. (50th) -
Congrats., Mr. R. MacKinnon 9132
Vote - Affirmative 9133
Res. 3553, Johnson, Dan: Work - Recognize, Mr. K. Deveaux 9133
Vote - Affirmative 9134
Res. 3554, Gillis, Les: C.B. Sport Heritage Award - Congrats.,
Mr. F. Corbett 9134
Vote - Affirmative 9134
ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS:
No. 948, Gov't. (N.S.) - Living Wage: Provision - Refusal,
Mr. D. Dexter 9135
No. 949, Health - Youth Tobacco Advisory Council: Recommendation -
Recollect, Mr. W. Gaudet 9136
No. 950, Pet. Dir. - Martillac Consulting: Contracts - Details,
Mr. J. Holm 9137
No. 951, Health - Smoke Free For Life: Curriculum - Usage Details,
Dr. J. Smith 9138
No. 952, Commun. Serv. - Restructuring: Andersen Report -
Perusal Details, Mr. J. Pye 9139
No. 953, Commun. Serv. - Social Assistance Recipients: Care -
Method, Mr. D. Wilson 9140
No. 954, Educ. - French Immersion Sch.: Security - Ensure,
Mr. D. Dexter 9141
No. 955, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Sydney City Hosp.: Prop. Sale -
Residents Consult, Mr. Manning MacDonald 9143
No. 956, Tourism & Culture - Museums: Cuts - Effects,
Mr. Robert Chisholm 9144
No. 957, Nat. Res. - Park Facilities: Operating Level - Maintain,
Mr. K. MacAskill 9146
No. 958, NSLC - CEO (Barker, Andrew): Compensation Pkg. -
Explain, Mr. J. Holm 9147
No. 959, Serv. N.S. & Mun. Rel. - Prop. Assess. Agency:
Establishment - Timeframe, Mr. B. Boudreau 9148
No. 960, Educ. - UCCB: Funding - Inadequacy Explain, Mr. F. Corbett 9149
No. 961, Environ. & Lbr. - Water Strategy: Delay - Explain,
Mr. R. MacKinnon 9150
No. 962, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Gas Tax: Revenues - Usages,
Mr. H. Epstein 9152
PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING:
No. 109, Financial Measures (2002) Act 9153
Amendment [debate resumed] 9153
Mr. D. Dexter 9153
Mr. K. MacAskill 9167
Mr. W. Estabrooks 9175
Mr. P. MacEwan 9193
Mr. F. Corbett 9199
Mr. W. Gaudet 9212
Debate Adjourned 9215
ADJOURNMENT:
MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5:)
C.B. North MLA: Riding Crises - Response:
Mr. B. Boudreau 9215
Mr. C. Clarke 9218
Mr. F. Corbett 9221
Mr. R. MacKinnon 9223
PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING:
No. 109, Financial Measures (2002) Act 9224
Amendment [debate resumed] 9224^
Mr. W. Gaudet 9224
Adjourned debate 9234
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Wed., May 1st at 2:00 p.m. 9235
NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3):
Res. 3555, O'Connell, Frances Waterman: King, Martin Luther, Jr.,
Award - Congrats., Mr. C. Clarke 9236
Res. 3556, Yar. Stroke Proj.: Participants - Congrats., Mr. R. Hurlburt 9236
Res. 3557, Sports - Glooscap Sen. Women's Curling Team:
Championship - Congrats., Mr. M. Parent 9237
Res. 3558, Goit, Barbara: Outstanding Fundraising Exec. (2002) -
Congrats., Hon. J. Muir 9237

[Page 9111]

HALIFAX, TUESDAY, APRIL 30, 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 motion for this evening's late debate was submitted by the honourable member for Cape Breton The Lakes.

Therefore be it resolved that while the member for Cape Breton North may not be a fiddler, that member is not doing anything other than fiddling while his riding burns, as schools are ignored, emergency rooms close and banks shut down.

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

SPEAKER'S RULING: Decorum in House of Assembly gallery. (Pt. of Priv. by Mr. D. Wilson [Hansard p.8877])

MR. SPEAKER: As well, at this time, I would like to make a ruling on an issue that has been brought before the House by the honourable member for Glace Bay last Friday. On Friday, the honourable member for Glace Bay rose on a point a privilege and he stated, "Yesterday, in this House, after the budget vote, several members in the gallery, some of whom are employed with the Premier's office, made a public display of approval, contrary to the Rules of this House."

9111

[Page 9112]

The Rules of the House are the Speaker's to enforce, and I attempt to do that as best I can on behalf of all members, on all occasions. There have been many occasions where I have brought to the attention of people in the gallery, visitors, that they are not to respond either negatively or positively to what is happening on the floor of the House. I would hope that all members would agree that on a lot of occasions it is very difficult and especially the ones who have sat in this Chair would realize, it is difficult a lot of times to hear what is going on on the floor, let alone what's going on in the gallery.

In any event, it's quite evident that this did take place and my instructions will be to the Premier, and to the Cabinet, that if any of their senior staff are present in the gallery, that they would be told that it would be contrary to the rules to take part in anything that's happening on the floor. I would ask that that be passed to the staff.

The Speaker must decide whether it is a prima facie case of privilege and my decision is, it is not. It would be a breach of the rules and actually that was brought forward by the honourable member for Victoria on a point of order that he felt it was breach of the rules and it certainly is. So that is my decision. It is not a breach of privilege but a breach of the rules and I would ask that those members forward that information to their staff. Thank you.

The honourable Minister of Community Services on an introduction.

HON. PETER CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure today to introduce to the House 37 Grade 9 students from Bedford Junior High School. They are in the east gallery and they are accompanied by Kevin Young and Elizabeth Kyle. I would ask them to rise and receive the warm welcome of the House. (Applause)

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

The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

MR. GRAHAM STEELE: Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of privilege today in relation to a matter that occurred this morning in the Legislature's Human Resources Committee. The committee, over the past number of meetings, has been considering its annual report and as part of its consideration of the annual report, I had drafted and circulated a notice that in this Legislature is known as a condition of concurrence which states that the member signs onto the main report but has some additional remarks that he wishes to make. That was filed with the other members of the committee on behalf of myself and the member for Halifax Needham.

Mr. Speaker, there is precedent for conditions of concurrence in this House, in fact in the Human Resources Committee itself conditions of concurrence have previously been filed, and copies of those conditions of concurrence, last filed by the former, former member for Halifax Fairview and the former member for Kings North, were circulated to all members

[Page 9113]

of the committee and they were well aware that this was a fairly standard routine in that particular committee.

Mr. Speaker, the point of privilege on which I'm rising today is that the chairman of the Human Resources Committee ruled this morning that it is the proper subject matter of a vote in committee on whether to suppress a condition of concurrence proposed by a member of the Opposition. Neither the chairman nor the legislative counsel nor any member of the committee could cite any precedent for a vote on whether to accept or not to accept a condition of concurrence in committee, even though the members were well aware there was precedent, in fact, for conditions of concurrence being attached.

Mr. Speaker, I'm rising today, not raising an appeal from the committee's decision, which is another procedure which I may pursue in due course, but rather raising as a matter of privilege, as my right as a member, to speak and to add my condition of concurrence to the annual report of the Human Resources Committee. What I am objecting to is the chairman's ruling that it is the proper subject matter of a vote on whether the members of the committee accept or do not accept a condition of concurrence because, of course, by its very nature, a condition of concurrence is something to which a majority of the members of the committee do not agree. If they did, it would be incorporated into the main body of the report.

Mr. Speaker, I cannot understand and I cannot accept that this is appropriate procedure in the House, that a majority is allowed to vote on a condition of concurrence filed by a member of the Opposition. I would ask you to take the matter under advisement.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

The honourable member for Dartmouth South.

MR. TIMOTHY OLIVE: Mr. Speaker, I would like to rise on this issue as I was a member of that committee this morning. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth South has the floor.

MR. OLIVE: Mr. Speaker, the condition of concurrence was sent out a couple of weeks ago. It was presented at last month's Human Resources Committee, and it was reviewed there. There was a general discussion. It was sent out a couple of weeks ago. All members then had an opportunity to read that condition of concurrence, it could also be called - for the benefit of those who are not familiar - a minority report. That, perhaps, puts it in the proper context.

[Page 9114]

Mr. Speaker, there may be a perceived precedent set in prior years, and the member quoted one by a previous member of this House, with the support of the Opposition. Those decisions are made at the Human Resources Committee. They are decisions made at the time, based on the evidence provided. We had a chance to review this document for two weeks. A decision was made this morning by those committee members. It was supported by both the government and the Liberal members of the committee.

[12:15 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, I obviously don't wish to get political about this, but the minority report clearly did not follow the standard for a condition of concurrence and/or a minority report in that it didn't add to the report; it didn't provide alternatives to the report. If it did that, as the others did, that was quoted, it may well have been accepted. Mr. Speaker, this was a political diatribe. It's something that we hear monthly at the Human Resources Committee. It has no foundation, or provides any alternatives to the current program that was put in place in prior years for the guidance and direction of the Human Resources Committee.

I don't believe, as a member of that committee, that I am obligated to accept a document that adds nothing to the report other than political commentary. My fellow members on the committee felt the same. The Liberal Opposition members also supported the fact that it was nothing more than a political diatribe aimed at trying to gain some political advantage where there was none and, therefore, Mr. Speaker, on the point of privilege, I believe there is not a point of privilege, although I'm sure you will rule that. I hope you will rule that based on the information presented.

This was a decision made by the Human Resources Committee. It was the right decision. Mr. Speaker, the chairman of the committee, the honourable member for Queens, did clearly indicated to the committee and to the honourable member who stood in this House a moment ago that he did have an option of appeal, and we have heard now that he's chosen to make an appeal to the House. So one has to question whether or not, under the scrutiny of the House, that document would be any further ahead as being attached to a condition of concurrence. Having said that, I will take my seat.

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

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, I would like to speak to the point of personal privilege as well. I believe that, perhaps not intentionally, the honourable member for Halifax Fairview may have misguided the House on his point of personal privilege. He's suggesting that the committee made a decision not to allow this report of concurrence. That's simply not the case. The point and the motion that was before the committee, and Hansard will show the record, was, in fact, the motion was not to include it as part of this report, and that was a decision of the committee; a decision of the committee, by the way, which is fully within the Rules of the House of Assembly, the Rules and Forms of Procedure.

[Page 9115]

Mr. Speaker, the chairman of the committee quoted the rule, the section that the honourable member, as with all members of the committee, was guided in allowing the vote to take place. There is certainly ample opportunity for the honourable member for Halifax Fairview to appeal to the House in its entirety or, for that matter, as I suggested at the committee level, bring it before the Special Committee on Assembly Matters. But, unfortunately, some of the detail that was outlined in this so-called report of concurrence by the honourable member for Halifax Fairview has some very good detail and some valid points, but it was mixed in with the usual political slush that you will find coming from the NDP. As a result, it forced members of the committee to take a hard stand so that we could very clearly and succinctly distinguish fact from fiction.

Mr. Speaker, I believe that you will find that there really is no basis for a point of personal privilege and that all the Rules of the House have fully been abided by, and that's the basis upon which we made our decision. There's nothing in the rules that preclude the NDP member or any member of this House to provide a minority report on their own and publish it in whatever fashion they see fit. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I would like to speak as well on this point of personal privilege. It seems to me that there has been for some time a practice, a precedent in this Legislature for standing committees that make provision for members of standing committees to sign onto reports from the committees that are very descriptive in nature, in terms of the business that has been conducted, but reports that fail to address ways to improve the process - and I and my colleague, the member for Halifax Fairview, were essentially attempting to point out some of the ways in which the business of this committee could be improved, and to have that dismissed in the manner which occurred is highly unusual and, I submit, a violation of the privilege of members of this House.

This could occur to members of that Party or members of that Party at any time on a standing committee, and I ask you to examine quite carefully what has occurred in the past and the privileges of members of standing committees that will be undermined if this decision is permitted to stand, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you, and I will certainly take the matter under advisement.

The honourable member for Colchester North on a introduction.

MR. WILLIAM LANGILLE: Mr. Speaker, today in the Speaker's Gallery I have three good friends from Ontario. They're here on a national water conference. They are Her Worship, Mayor of the Township of Ignis, Suzanne Smith; the editor of the newspaper The Driftwood, Dennis Smyk; and the Superintendent of the Township of Ignis, Len Ibey. Thank you for coming. (Applause)

[Page 9116]

MR. SPEAKER: I certainly welcome the guests to the gallery today and to the Province of Nova Scotia. Welcome, and we hope you enjoy your stay with us.

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Education.

RESOLUTION NO. 3532

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

Whereas St. Francis Xavier University will confer five honourary degrees at its Spring convocation; and

Whereas St. F.X. will honour Canadian hockey legend Senator Frank Mahovlich, former Academic Vice-President Dr. John Sears, and international business leaders and philanthropists Sir Anthony O'Reilly, Thomas Bata and Sonja Bata; and

Whereas the granting of Doctor of Laws recognizes the outstanding contributions that these individuals have made in their respective fields;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate St. Francis Xavier University, its honorary degree holders, and the graduating class of 2002 for their accomplishments in education.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

[Page 9117]

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Environment and Labour.

RESOLUTION NO. 3533

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

Whereas two provincial government departments, Dalhousie University and a federal department have won a prestigious environmental award from the U.S.-based International Erosion Control Association; and

Whereas the winning submission profiled 20 years of collaboration to reduce erosion; and

Whereas Don Waller, Director of the Centre for Water Resources Studies at Dalhousie University, received the award on behalf of the project team;

Therefore be it resolved that this House commend Dalhousie and its government partners on this international accomplishment.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Justice.

RESOLUTION NO. 3534

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 Rotary Club of Halifax annually selects a Police Officer of the Year; and

[Page 9118]

Whereas Constable Tom Martin of the Halifax Regional Police was nominated for this prestigious honour by his peers; and

Whereas Constable Martin was the lead investigator on the William Shrubsall file for four years and last year solved two homicides, an attempted murder and a kidnapping case;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate Constable Martin on the receipt of this award and thank him for his tremendous service to his 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 Minister of Education.

RESOLUTION NO. 3535

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

Whereas Mary Anne White has recently been presented the 2002 Union Carbide Award for Chemical Education, which recognizes the person who has made outstanding educational contributions in the area of chemistry or chemical engineering; and

Whereas the Union Carbide Award, which includes a cash prize, will be presented to Ms. White in Vancouver at the Canadian Society for Chemistry Conference; and

Whereas Ms. White is a chemistry professor at Dalhousie University and Killam Research Professor in Materials Science;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate Mary Anne White on receiving the 2002 Union Carbide Award for Chemical Education and wish her continued success in her field of study.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 9119]

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 Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I wonder if I could have the concurrence of the House to revert the order of business, Tabling Reports, Regulations and Other Papers.

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

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

HON. ANGUS MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table the Annual Report for 2001, the Nova Scotia Real Estate Commission.

MR. SPEAKER: The report is tabled.

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

NOTICES OF MOTION

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

RESOLUTION NO. 3536

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

Whereas this government was praised last year when it brought in lobbyist registration legislation because Nova Scotians thought they would finally have the door opened to the backrooms of Nova Scotia politics; and

[Page 9120]

Whereas to date, however, the Premier and his Cabinet have refused to allow that door to be opened by stalling the proclamation of the Act; and

Whereas the current public furor over the half-measures taken by this government to control and eradicate smoking has been exacerbated because they simply cannot find out who has motivated the Hamm Government's tepid legislation;

Therefore be it resolved that this House call upon the Hamm Government to proclaim the Lobbyists Registration Act immediately and allow the door to open to the world of backroom decision-making.

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. 3537

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

Whereas despite the fact that this year the Health Budget in the Province of Nova Scotia has reached an all-time high, seniors and other individuals living on fixed incomes in the Southwest District Health Authority will have to pay a $7 user fee for blood collection services at all four satellite sites; and

Whereas in many cases, some of these seniors and other individuals living on fixed incomes will have no choice but to have their blood collected at one of these blood collection clinics; and

Whereas as a result of this $7 user fee, more and more seniors and other individuals living on fixed incomes won't have the necessary blood work done;

[Page 9121]

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Health immediately rescind this $7 user fee to ensure that all residents of Shelburne, Yarmouth and Digby Counties are eligible to receive the same health care services, such as blood collection, without being forced to pay a fee.

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 Kings North.

RESOLUTION NO. 3538

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

Whereas a watchful media, even when critical of government, is essential to democracy; and

Whereas throughout his 16 years with the Daily News of Halifax, Bill Turpin has been a faithful defender of truth, freedom of the press and the Nova Scotia public's right to know; and

Whereas today is his last day as editor of the Daily News before a well-deserved break from the rigours of journalism;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House wish Bill Turpin well in his future endeavours and thank him for his service to Nova Scotians.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

[Page 9122]

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. 3539

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

Whereas on May 6, 1942, Thomas and Doris Naugle of Eastern Passage were married at St. Andrew's Church in Eastern Passage; and

Whereas Thomas and Doris have been active members of their community while raising six children - Pat, Sharon, Jim, Marilyn, Reg and Paul; and

Whereas Thomas and Doris' family has grown over the years to include seven grandchildren and five great-grandchildren;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulates Thomas and Doris Naugle on their 60th Wedding Anniversary on May 6th, and wishes them many more years of health and happiness.

[12:30 p.m.]

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 East.

[Page 9123]

RESOLUTION NO. 3540

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

Whereas during the election campaign the Premier stated that they were told by health care providers that $1.5 billion was enough money to run a quality health care system in this province; and

Whereas this year the Minister of Health is spending approximately $2 billion on health care; and

Whereas while the minister is spending $2 billion, emergency rooms are closing, beds are closing, and more and more communities are losing doctors and nurses;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House condemn the Minister of Health for failing to provide a comprehensive health care plan, and leading Nova Scotians to believe that health care is a top priority.

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 Shelburne.

RESOLUTION NO. 3541

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

Whereas 6'9" Shelburne Regional High Rebels star Corey Hallett is the first Nova Scotian male athlete in 25 years to accept a scholarship to play basketball in the U.S. at the National Collegiate Athletics Association level; and

Whereas during this last season, as Hallett's skills grew even stronger, universities from across Canada and the United States competed aggressively for Hallett's talent; and

[Page 9124]

Whereas with the help and guidance of his much-respected coach, Steven Pippy, Hallett got through the recruiting process and accepted a full athletic and academic scholarship to Central Michigan University;

Therefore be it resolved that all members congratulate Corey Hallett on his scholarship and the opportunity to play in the NCAA, and join his parents, Caroline and Richard Hallett, in wishing him a bright future as he opens new doors and explores new places.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Centre.

RESOLUTION NO. 3542

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

Whereas the health care system of this province has been cut to the bone by the John Hamm Government, to the point it can't afford the necessary equipment and facility upgrades; and

Whereas the emergency room at the Cape Breton Regional Hospital was in dire need of upgrading in order to serve increasing patient loads caused by frequent closures of emergency rooms in Glace Bay and North Sydney due to doctor shortages; and

Whereas this upgrade was made possible only by the generous donation of $700,000 by the Cape Breton Regional Hospital Foundation, using money raised by volunteers;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the Cape Breton Regional Hospital Foundation for its generosity and commitment to making sure services are retained in spite of this government's failure to adequately fund health care in this province.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 9125]

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Victoria.

RESOLUTION NO. 3543

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

Whereas volunteer fire departments are an integral part of any community providing a service beyond what many citizens expect; and

Whereas the Baddeck Volunteer Fire Department held their annual installation of officers and a banquet on April 13, 2002; and

Whereas Greg Fraser of Baddeck, who just turned 20 years old, was chosen Firefighter of the Year for his dedication and endless hours of volunteering in protecting his community and the maintenance and care of their equipment;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of the Legislature congratulate Greg Fraser and all members of the Baddeck Volunteer Fire Department for their high level of service in protecting their community in fire service and first response.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Pictou West.

[Page 9126]

RESOLUTION NO. 3544

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

Whereas the Pictou Rotary Club will soon hit the stage with the Broadway smash hit, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum; and

Whereas after an absence from community theatre, the club is returning under the musical direction of Lloyd MacLean, with director Don Hicks, choreographer Michelle Hicks, and stage manager Linda Munro; and

Whereas the Pictou Rotary Club members are returning to theatre with talent and good spirit, their performance is sure to be entertaining;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House applaud the Pictou Rotary Club and producer Art MacDonald for this undertaking, and wish the cast and crew of A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum an absolutely great run.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.

RESOLUTION NO. 3545

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

Whereas the Clean Nova Scotia Foundation is a non-profit environmental organization working to develop a sustainable society; and

Whereas since 1992, Clean Nova Scotia has annually coordinated efforts to conduct a province-wide community litter cleanup program; and

[Page 9127]

Whereas this year the program includes Tim Hortons and will bring together volunteers, businesses and various groups, all participating to make our communities cleaner and neater;

Therefore be it resolved that this House extend our congratulations to the Clean Nova Scotia Foundation, Tim Hortons and the more than 30,000 Nova Scotians who will work together to clean up neighbourhoods, parks, highways and beaches in local communities throughout the province.

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. 3546

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 Waugh River Bridge in Tatamagouche is the fourth bridge to collapse in Nova Scotia since 2000; and

Whereas it is almost unheard of for bridges to collapse in other provinces of Canada; and

Whereas bridges in Nova Scotia are more than twice as old as bridges in the other provinces of Canada;

Therefore be it resolved that this Tory Government realize that the bridges of Nova Scotia have been neglected by this government and that lives could be at risk if action is not taken to replace Nova Scotia's bridges.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 9128]

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Bedford Basin.

RESOLUTION NO. 3547

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

Whereas one quarter of Nova Scotians between 15 and 19 years of age smoke and most try their first cigarette at about age 12 taking the first steps towards a lifetime of addiction and tobacco-related health problems; and

Whereas the Mainland North Local Committee on Drug Awareness, volunteers from the Fairview and Clayton Park areas of Halifax, is taking its own steps to change young people's attitudes about smoking; and

Whereas providing an outlet for young students to express their willingness to resist the temptation to smoke, this committee held the 2002 Mainland North Anti-Smoking Poster Contest with seven schools and 215 children participating;

Therefore be it resolved that this House thank the Mainland North Local Committee for taking this proactive step and congratulate the contest winners and all students who participated for taking these steps forward in the fight against tobacco in Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

[Page 9129]

The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect.

RESOLUTION NO. 3548

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

Whereas Laura Boutilier, Sir John A. Macdonald High School grad, devoted Montreal Canadiens fan and daughter of Julie and Mike Boutilier, has inherited her parents' noted hockey wisdom; and

Whereas Laura Boutilier's legendary Montreal Canadiens have eliminated the Boston Bruins from the Stanley Cup playoffs; and

Whereas Laura, currently a Mount Saint Vincent University student, obviously knows much more about the game of hockey than her "old" coach and teacher, the member for Timberlea-Prospect;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate Laura Boutilier and all Montreal Canadiens hockey fans on their victory, with wishes of good luck on their march to glory and a Stanley Cup.

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 Leader in the House of the Liberal Party.

RESOLUTION NO. 3549

M. WAYNE GAUDET: M. le Président, par la présente, j'avise que je proposerai à une date ultérieure l'adoption de la résolution suivante:

Attendu que Rachelle LeBlanc de Comeauville dans le comté de Digby a été nommée l'athlète féminine de l'année à l'Université de Moncton pour avoir excellé dans le sport de volleyball; et

[Page 9130]

Attendu que cette étudiante en troisième année de marketing est capitaine des Aigles Bleu de l'Université de Moncton et a été choisie l'athlète féminine de l'année de cette équipe, qui a remporté le championat atlantique; et

Attendu que cette étudiante est membre de l'équipe étoile et gagnante du championat atlantique et deuxième au plan canadien;

Qu'il soit résolu que cette Assemblée exprime ses féliciations et ses meilleurs voeux à Rachelle LeBlanc pour avoir mérité le titre d' athlète féminine de l'année de l'Université de Moncton.

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

Whereas volleyball player Rachelle LeBlanc of Comeauville, Digby County, has been named the University of Moncton's female athlete of the year; and

Whereas Ms. LeBlanc, team captain of the Blue Eagles, led the women's team to the Atlantic conference championship and was MVP of the tournament; and

Whereas the third year marketing student was also an Atlantic first-team all-star as well as Canadian second-team all-star;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House extend their congratulations to Rachelle LeBlanc on being named University of Moncton's Female Athlete of the Year and wish her continued success in all 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 Annapolis.

[Page 9131]

RESOLUTION NO. 3550

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

Whereas bullying is one of the most underrated and enduring problems in schools today and is a reality in the lives of all children, whether they are bullies, victims or witnesses; and

Whereas Annapolis East Elementary School in Middleton, with the guidance of Principal Heather Harris, has brought about progressive and positive results among students through a multi-year anti-violence program and curriculum; and

Whereas the documentary "Learning Peace" by Teresa MacInnes and produced by Triad Films of Halifax has been shown on Canada's CTV Network and highlights the institution of anti-violence programs at Annapolis East Elementary School, which is now in its fourth year of a peaceful school program;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate students and staff of Annapolis East Elementary School for their involvement in these very successful and innovative school programs which teach students to respect others and avoid conflict by building positive relationships with others.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.

RESOLUTION NO. 3551

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

[Page 9132]

Whereas the Greystone Tenants' Association of Spryfield has been very active in providing for the needs of its resident members; and

Whereas the association recently received status as an official community access site, also known by the acronym CAP; and

Whereas this CAP site is conveniently located in the heart of this community and is accessible to all residents;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the Greystone Tenants' Association for its official opening as a CAP site on March 10, 2002.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton West.

RESOLUTION NO. 3552

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

Whereas volunteering is a unique quality that forms the strong foundation upon which Nova Scotia is founded; and

Whereas the Sydney River Volunteer Fire Department celebrated its 50th Anniversary on April 28, 2002; and

Whereas Fire Chief Brent Denny and members of the Sydney River Volunteer Fire Department serve one of the largest population districts, serving over 2,000 residential and commercial entities with over $100 million of property assessment;

[Page 9133]

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Chief Brent Denny and all members of the Sydney River Volunteer Fire Department on the celebration of their 50th Anniversary.

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. 3553

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

Whereas Dan Johnson has been an active volunteer in his community of Eastern Passage for many years; and

Whereas Mr. Johnson has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars on behalf of those with a visual impairment by conducting a type-a-thon on an annual basis; and

Whereas Mr. Johnson is again holding a type-a-thon from May 31, 2002 in hopes of raising upwards of $20,000 for new equipment for the Sir Frederick Fraser School;

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize the extraordinary work of Mr. Dan Johnson of Eastern Passage on behalf of those with visual disability and wish him the best of luck in his annual type-a-thon.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

[Page 9134]

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Centre.

RESOLUTION NO. 3554

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

Whereas the fifth annual Cape Breton Sports Heritage Awards were held on Saturday, April 27th at the Nova Scotia Community College, Marconi Campus; and

Whereas one honoree was New Waterford boxer Les Gillis who, pound for pound, was one of the toughest fighters ever to come out of that town; and

Whereas Les will be remembered for thrilling the crowds at such venues as the Venetian Gardens and the former Glace Bay Forum;

Therefore be it resolved that this House extend its congratulations to Les Gillis, one of New Waterford's toughest and classiest boxers, on receiving the Cape Breton Sports Heritage Award.

[12:45 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

[Page 9135]

ORDERS OF THE DAY

ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS

MR. SPEAKER: Oral Question Period will begin at 12:45 p.m. and end at 1:45 p.m.

The honourable Leader of the Official Opposition.

GOV'T. (N.S.) - LIVING WAGE: PROVISION - REFUSAL

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, consultant Roland Martin, President of the Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation Andrew Barker, and President of Nova Scotia Business Inc. Stephen Lund together earn $726,000 or more. With that in mind, I would like to table the pay stub of one Nova Scotian woman. She earns minimum wage. She works over 80 hours every two weeks, and after deductions she walks home with $400. That's $800 a month and less than $10,000 a year. Despite her hard work, this woman can barely get by. So I would like to ask the Premier, why is his government taking such good care of top executives but refusing to provide thousands of Nova Scotians with a living wage?

HON. JOHN HAMM (The Premier): Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the question. The objective of government, obviously, is to improve the lot of every single Nova Scotian. Part of that is putting the right people in the right places to do the kinds of things that will generate the kinds of results that that member expects we will generate and, certainly, that Nova Scotians are looking to this government to provide, but part of that is providing the right people at the top and finding those people to deliver the programs in a way that the objectives of all of us can be achieved.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, the Premier just had an opportunity to do the right thing. Instead, he defended the salaries of Andrew Barker and Stephen Lund, who each earn $135,000 a year, receive some $45,000 in potential bonuses, and have a monthly car allowance of $600. The pay stub that I just tabled shows that a woman working on minimum wage for 80 hours every two weeks takes home $400. A bachelor apartment costs $500 a month. The phone costs $30 and power about $30, so about $200 is left for food, heat, health and personal care costs. So I would like to ask the Premier, why are you failing to address the fact that thousands of hard-working Nova Scotians are living in poverty?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the first step in alleviating what is a national disgrace, and that is the amount of poverty we have in Canada despite a buoyant economy - the responsibility of government is to turn that economy into benefits that really affect the lives of ordinary Nova Scotians. Part of that is coming forward with the right policies administered by the right people. As long as that is the way in which it can happen, this government will see that that is the way it's done.

[Page 9136]

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, the Premier defends paying $5.80 an hour to people on minimum wage while they give Mr. Barker an extra $45,000 just for doing his job. Within a year Nova Scotians will be the lowest paid in this country. The woman I've been describing lives $6,000 below the poverty line. So my question to the Premier is, when are you going to act and raise the minimum wage?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, October 1st. (Applause)

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

HEALTH - YOUTH TOBACCO ADVISORY COUN.:

RECOMMENDATION - RECOLLECT

MR. WAYNE GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Premier. In January 2001 the Premier kicked off the National Non-Smoking Week by announcing a new Provincial Youth Tobacco Advisory Committee. This committee was developed to advise the Premier on issues relating to tobacco use among youth in the province. In March 2001 the teens made a number of recommendations to the Premier, and my first question to the Premier is, could the Premier recollect the recommendations made by the teens on the Youth Tobacco Advisory Committee?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite is quite right; the government did appoint a Youth Tobacco Advisory Committee. They did make recommendations to government, and a number of those recommendations are included in the seven-step tobacco strategy of this government.

MR. GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, I would like to table a copy of the Youth Tobacco Advisory Committee recommendations. One of the committee's recommendations was to implement a complete smoking ban in malls, restaurants and bars. My question to the Premier is, why is the Premier ignoring the recommendations of the youth in this province?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, this gives me an opportunity to remind the members of the House that there are only three provinces in Canada that have, on the books or being debated, tobacco control legislation. We are at the forefront in Canada in protecting the people, through our legislation, from tobacco smoke. Members opposite were part of a government that ignored this for years. This government has taken the issue of tobacco smoking seriously, and we are acting.

MR. GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, it's important that teenage smoking be prevented among our youth. For one, the government needs to make tobacco prevention mandatory in our schools. My final question to the Premier is, will the Premier continue to ignore the recommendations of the Youth Tobacco Advisory Committee or will he begin taking action now before it's too late?

[Page 9137]

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the government, as it has already in formulating its tobacco strategy, has, is and will continue to seek out opinions, including those of the Youth Tobacco Advisory Committee, on a proper go-forward to eliminate the ravages of tobacco smoke on the people of Nova Scotia.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.

PET. DIR. - MARTILLAC CONSULTING: CONTRACTS - DETAILS

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, as I begin, I want to table documents from the province's SAP system which keeps track of all of the government payments. These four pages reveal the taxpayers' tab for Martelec Consulting has now risen to $400,000. I also have the contracts that this government handed out to that same company. It may surprise you to know that none of those contracts were tendered. I want to ask, first of all, the Minister responsible for the Petroleum Directorate, as his signature appears on many of those contracts worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, why those contracts were awarded untendered?

HON. GORDON BALSER: Mr. Speaker, we needed the services of a consultant. The process was followed, and I believe we got good value for the contract.

MR. HOLM: That was a weak response from the government. Even they recognize that the minister didn't answer the question. Martelec Consulting started out with an untendered contract for $15,000. The Minister responsible for the Petroleum Directorate then signed five amendments giving raises of $30,000, then $50,000, then $85,000 more, plus another $20,000, and then finally another $5,000. The objectives of the province's procurement policy states that public spending must be carried out in an open, fair, consistent, efficient and competitive manner. My second question, Mr. Speaker, is through you to the Premier, because I want to ask the Premier, how is handing out over $400,000 in untendered raises and contracts open, fair and competitive?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, if you look at the energy strategy that was part and parcel of why those contracts were let (Interruptions) Anybody who is objective would come to the conclusion that we got a quality product that, in fact, is being used as a template across this country for other energy strategies. We got the right person to do the job and we got the right product for our effort.

MR. HOLM: So in other words, a procurement policy, in which you say you have to be open, fair and competitive doesn't count if the Premier says it doesn't matter; we pick whoever we want and be darned with Nova Scotia's taxpayers' dollars. That's a shame. That's a disgrace. There is only one way that the government can legally give out hundreds of thousands of dollars of contracts untendered, that is if the Alternative Procurement Practice Report is completed and filed. Mr. Speaker, I want to ask, through you to the

[Page 9138]

Premier, will you order all of your Cabinet members who signed untendered contracts with Martillac Consulting to have those produced and tabled on the floor of the House today?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I will take that question under advisement in terms of the availability of the information the member opposite has requested.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

HEALTH - SMOKE FREE FOR LIFE:

CURRICULUM - USAGE DETAILS

DR. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Health. Nova Scotia does in fact have an outstanding school-based smoking prevention curriculum. It started in 1996 and was developed and implemented in 1998. It involves classes from Primary to Grade 9. Surveys have shown that the average age is 13 when our children and youth are starting cigarettes and that, in fact, almost 40 per cent of our young teenagers smoke in this province. My question to the Minister of Health is, can the Minister of Health tell me or tell the House what he understands to be the percentage of teachers who use the Smoke Free for Life curriculum in Nova Scotia in Primary to Grade 9?

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, in starting off, to respond to the honourable member's question, I think he indicated that teenage smoking was about 40 per cent in Nova Scotia. It's not that high. It's about 30 per cent. That's 30 per cent too high, but I just wanted to make sure the correct number did get in there. I want to tell the honourable members that this program is just basically being worked by the Department of Education. It has been modernized and updated. The actual percentage of the teachers who are using it I think was somewhere around 20 per cent, but I can tell you that number will be changing. The program has been revised and updated and will be a better product for the schools.

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I think the minister does point out to the House the lack of use within our school system of this program. The research also estimates that this program could reduce teenage smoking by almost 10 per cent. In addition, every dollar spent on the Smoke Free for Life Program, the province would save $10 in avoided health care costs. That's an estimate and I know we're throwing statistics around, but the message is there. My question to the minister is, why has a curriculum, identified by Health Canada as the best in the country, not been fully integrated in the schools in this province? What's his understanding of that reason?

MR. MUIR: I would refer that question, Mr. Speaker, to the Minister of Education.

[Page 9139]

HON. JANE PURVES: Mr. Speaker, this curriculum, at the moment, is not a mandatory curriculum and it is available in all classrooms. Not all teachers use that curriculum, but we are going to be looking at further measures in the future to help to reduce youth smoking which, indeed, is a big problem in Nova Scotia.

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the Minister of Education for her mentioning the word mandate, or mandating that program, because I think that's the important issue. So, to the Minister of Health, if the Minister of Health is committed to reducing the rate of smoking among our youth, which I'm sure he is, I would like to just ask him a final question and it ties in with the answer from the Minister of Education. Why won't this minister and his government mandate this tobacco prevention curriculum into our schools and save lives and save money in Nova Scotia? He sits at the Cabinet Table, and he can influence that Minister of Education and this government.

[1:00 p.m.]

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I would like to remind the honourable member that this was the government that did introduce a seven point tobacco strategy. Education for the public and education of the schools were two parts of that strategy. The existing program has just been updated and it certainly, I expect, will be used more frequently by more teachers and thus have an impact on more students. I would be certainly prepared to discuss this matter with my colleague, the Minister of Education.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

COMMUN. SERV. - RESTRUCTURING:

ANDERSEN REPORT - PERUSAL DETAILS

MR. JERRY PYE: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Community Services. Today marks the deadline for proposals from private-for-profit companies to restructure the Department of Community Services. The minister says this is all in the name of creating efficiencies and saving monies for the province. Well, Ontario tried the same thing in 1997. They hired Andersen Consulting to restructure Community Services in that province. I ask the Minister of Community Services, did his department read the report on that project before going down the same road?

HON. PETER CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, yes, we've looked at practices all across the country. We've looked at practices in other countries of the world. We've looked at opportunities that we have. We feel our mandate is to make the department as efficient as possible and to save taxpayers money and that's why we're doing it.

[Page 9140]

MR. PYE: Mr. Speaker, what the minister didn't tell this House is what I will tell this House. The Province of Ontario thought it would save some money, too, but the reality is it paid Andersen Consulting $15.5 million for the cost of the March 1998 report to save just $2.4 million for company changes. In reference to a similar initiative in Nebraska by the same firm, the state audit called the project the most wasteful it had ever heard of. I ask the Minister of Community Services, what assurance can he give this House that the province won't be going down the same wasteful road?

MR. CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, as the honourable member knows, in the RFP that we put out it was a requirement of anybody that was bidding to show what opportunities there were for us to find efficiencies. If there are no efficiencies, they weren't going to get paid. The only way they would get paid is if they were going to find efficiencies and there would be extra savings for the department.

MR. PYE: Mr. Speaker, those same efficiencies were requested by other consulting firms as well and that was the same offer. The Province of Ontario is on the hook for a further $180 million - I say $180 million from the future savings of the Department of Community Services. There is no evidence that this scheme will work any better in Nova Scotia than it did in Ontario. I ask the Minister of Community Services, since when did his department become a profit-making venture for private companies on the backs of the poor and the vulnerable of Nova Scotia?

MR. CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, the programs of the Department of Community Services are legislated, the supports we give to the different groups. What we are talking about here is modernizing and perhaps that member doesn't feel we need to modernize the department, that we need to have new systems, but I do.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Glace Bay.

COMMUN. SERV. - SOCIAL ASSISTANCE RECIPIENTS:

CARE - METHOD

MR. DAVID WILSON: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Community Services. Yesterday we heard, once again, a few more details about this minister's made-in-Bedford solution on how to treat social assistance recipients - let's devise a way so that clients can view eligibility through web technology and then implement a call centre intake system. Well, quite frankly, I and a lot of others find this type of method of treating clients without any assurances just a little bit disturbing.

Mr. Speaker, my question to the minister is, how can the minister ensure that clients are going to be able to access the system and talk to a worker when the first point of contact

is a call centre operator?

[Page 9141]

HON. PETER CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member maybe has had the opportunity to look at some of the proposals that have come in today. I have not. They don't close. What we've asked people to do is to give us suggestions as to how we might create efficiencies. If a call centre is one of those opportunities, perhaps that's in their proposal, but we haven't seen their proposals yet. We've simply asked them for ways we can create efficiencies.

MR. WILSON: Mr. Speaker, that minister knows full well what he wants. That minister can put a spin on it all he wants, but we know that he's going to eliminate personal contact between the client and their worker and where client-worker relationships have been built, they will no longer exist. He's going to build a barrier in hopes that people in need will become either frustrated or they just won't access the system. That's what that minister is proposing to do. I would like to know, how is the minister going to ensure that confidentiality is going to be maintained and that those who truly need the system are going to access it given this sudden program delivery change that's being proposed?

MR. CHRISTIE: There is no sudden program delivery change. We've been talking with suppliers, we've been talking with our staff for over the last year. The protocols on confidentiality are in place; those remain in place and nothing will change on those. The purpose of the exercise, one of the stated goals is to provide more resources to our front-line workers in time. That is one of the objects of the exercise.

MR. WILSON: Mr. Speaker, we've heard that this system is going to cost $25 million to $30 million. This minister predicts benefits of $82 million over the next six years. Yet, we have not seen where or how he plans to achieve those savings. My final question, could the minister please table in this House today a detailed breakdown of where he plans to achieve $82 million in savings over the next six years?

MR. CHRISTIE: The department did build a business plan as we looked at it. What I can't table today - I don't know if there are bids in, I don't know if there are companies that are going to accept it, I don't know if there are people who will meet the challenge. Once we've determined that, then we can determine how things are going to proceed as we enter into negotiations, but now there is nobody who has bid as yet or undertaken the project.

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

EDUC. - FRENCH IMMERSION SCH.: SECURITY - ENSURE

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Premier. I want to take the Premier back to June 23, 1999 when he pledged that by law or regulation, a Conservative Government would legislate how the Halifax Regional School Board was to deliver a school program. In that case, it was Primary. He said if there was ever an issue that demanded leadership from government, this is it. Every parent knows that nothing provides a sense of

[Page 9142]

security for a child like a regular schedule they can count on and order their lives around. So, my question for the Premier is, why won't the Premier show leadership now when French immersion students seek the security of a regular school that they can count on and order their lives around?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I refer that to the Minister of Education.

HON. JANE PURVES: Mr. Speaker, as the member opposite knows, most French immersion programs are not necessarily attached to the school. The school boards consider it a program and they consider it one where they have to - in order to keep the program going - sometimes move the program from school to school. A lot of people object to that and in the case of a school in my own riding, they sincerely object. But it was never the aim of French immersion to be attached to particular buildings.

MR. DEXTER: While I appreciate the front bench lateral, the minister was busy bashing Cape Breton while the Premier was making these pledges. So I want to ask this Premier, his government has the right, the power and the authority to require that where numbers warrant, French immersion will be delivered in the same manner as English language education. They can require that from this day forward, where numbers warrant, French immersion students will normally attend the same elementary school from Grades P-6. The Premier said that schools remain one of the first places a child learns to be a productive member of his/her community. Why, then, has the Premier's government failed so miserably to provide leadership on this issue?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I would refer that to the minister.

HON. JANE PURVES: Mr. Speaker, I hope the member opposite wasn't suggesting that the right to French immersion education is in the Constitution, a constitutional guarantee, because it is not. But he's right, the key to this is where numbers warrant, and that is what school boards try to do. That is in no way to be taken in defence of the recent decision on École Beaufort. The school boards do try to provide French immersion education where the numbers warrant, where there is enough critical mass to actually get the teachers together and provide the program in a sustainable way.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, it was the Premier who made the pledge. It was the Premier who would say anything during the last election campaign to get elected. He should answer this question. Back in 1991, the Premier said that he would not need an election campaign to make him require delivery of the public school program in a manner that gives children the security they need. He scorned the Liberals for their flip-flopping on the issue when they finally had to face the voters. He said he would smooth out the bumps in school board funding. So why won't the Premier agree to a requirement that public school education in both languages be delivered in the same manner wherever numbers warrant, and to review the cost of the program requirement, just as he demanded in 1999?

[Page 9143]

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Education, to my mind, has given a very coherent answer as to how the government will proceed with the issue of French immersion. If the member opposite would listen I think he would as well come to a conclusion that this government is proceeding with this commitment, as it has with each and every other commitment it made during the election.

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

TRANSPORT. & PUB. WKS. - SYDNEY CITY HOSP.:

PROP. SALE - RESIDENTS CONSULT

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Transportation and Public Works. The province is presently putting up for sale the former Sydney City Hospital property for $145,000; the signs went up today. With no consultation with anybody the province has just unilaterally decided they're going to sell this particular property. This property is prime real estate, but most importantly it's situated in a residential area. It's presently a most welcome neighbourhood green area, and I would have thought that the minister would have consulted with the local neighbourhood first, before allowing this property to be put on the open market. My question to the minister is, Mr. Minister, why won't you ask the residents what they would like to see happen to that property before you sell it?

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, we made an announcement some considerable time ago about the fact that we would placing the property on the market. As far as talking to the neighbourhood, I know one particular neighbour was contacted and that was the former Premier of the province. The Honourable Russell MacLellan was contacted, I believe, as one of those persons.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: There are more people living up there than the former Premier of this province, but I would be interested to find out whether or not he contacted the former Premier and what the Premier said to him. That would be interesting; perhaps I will ask him at another time.

I want to continue with the government's arrogance here regarding that particular property. Residents in the area are concerned that this property is going to be developed to the detriment of the area and will result, ultimately, in lower property values. This property was given to the provincial government for $1 back in 1980, and since then they have rejected attempts by the municipality to take this property back and use it for the benefit of that whole neighbourhood. My first supplementary to the minister is, why won't the minister sell it back to the municipality for $1 and have the municipality develop it for the benefit of the citizens living in that area of Sydney?

[Page 9144]

[1:15 p.m.]

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, there is no doubt in my mind now why the Liberal Government in the past had difficulty with the finances. If they have a piece of property worth $145,000 and are willing to sell it for $1, well I don't think that shows very much financial sense.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, it was his government that did the deal in 1980 for $1. The member over there was a member of the government . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: He was in the Cabinet.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: He was in the Cabinet. He says that we don't know how to manage property. They were the ones that gave it away. (Interruptions)

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

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: . . . or not, but this property is zoned institutional. I suggest to you, Mr. Speaker, that when he's selling this property, he should add, as part of the for sale sign, buyer beware, because anybody who buys that property is going to have to go for municipal rezoning to do anything with that property. So if they attempt to sell it to one of their friends in Sydney for $145,000, they better assure their Tory friends there that they're going to be able to build something on that property. My final supplementary is, why won't you, Mr. Minister, allow the residents of that area to have some say in what's going to happen to this area, which is adjacent to these very nice and valuable properties in the City of Sydney?

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I just fail to comprehend the argument that the honourable member is putting forward as to why we would want to sell a property for $144,999 less than what the property is worth.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.

TOURISM & CULTURE - MUSEUMS: CUTS - EFFECTS

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I want to direct my question to the minister responsible for community museums. Last year, it was brought to the attention of the Minister of Finance the effect of his decision to cut Nova Scotia's 63 museums by 2 per cent. This year, again, the Tories are continuing to chip away at Nova Scotia's museums. Community museum funding is being cut by 10 per cent to 20 per cent and the government is also transferring $100,000 of core operating support to the Strategic Development Initiative fund, otherwise known as the slush fund. The Tories continue to ignore that our

[Page 9145]

museums need a base amount for upkeep. I want to ask the minister, will he explain to all Nova Scotians how he expects our museums to survive these continual crippling cuts to their operating budgets?

HON. RODNEY MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, thank you to the member for the question. The member is far from the truth. The fact is we are making a significant investment in museums. In fact, if he takes a look at the Community Museum Assistance Program, the Community Museum Assistance Program is being protected in this province for the betterment of those museums. Indeed, we make a significant investment and certainly we had to make some changes. We have done that through the seven larger sites, through the Nova Scotia Museum family, not through the Community Museum Assistance Program.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, there's no question, and we've talked about it in this House before, that our museums require operational funds to maintain their buildings and to preserve their collections. They need to know that that stable fund is there in order to do their job. Last year's cuts to operational funds caused enough damage, but now the community museums are facing another cut. They're a credit to the volunteer spirit and deep-rooted heritage of this province. They attract tourists and they are the focal point of community identities. To stay afloat though, they need this base of operational funding. I would like to ask the minister, will this government commit today to stop cutting these operational funds, commit to granting Nova Scotia museums at least the basic funds that they need to operate and leave the politics at home?

MR. RODNEY MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, the member brought up a good point and that was the Strategic Development Initiative, an initiative of this government, an initiative that recognized the fact that our community museums needed a fund for which to apply so they could make differences in their museums. Also we lifted the moratorium on the Community Museum Assistance Program, a moratorium which I know affected many ridings and I'm sure your own, Mr. Speaker. If that member wants to ask a question with respect to a particular museum, feel free to do so and I will be glad to answer that because there are opportunities there for museums. There is a very big investment by this government in the museums and we do value the heritage in this province.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: That's exactly the point, Mr. Speaker, the minister wants me to tell him, just like he wants his backbenchers to tell him who needs money, and then he will go and he will start doling it out, but the point is that these museums across the province need a base of operational funds in order to keep the doors open, in order to preserve the artifacts. Last year our community museums were cut, and this year transfers in funds will mean another cut for museums here in HRM and it will make it harder for museums across the province to maintain themselves with respect to upkeep and maintenance.

[Page 9146]

So I want to ask the minister once again to leave the politics out of the museums, leave the politics out of the Nova Scotia Arts Council, give the museums in the Province of Nova Scotia a proper level of funding so that they can operate and maintain themselves and continue to be the pride of this province.

MR. RODNEY MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, the Community Museum Assistance Program is an application-driven process which varies year to year with respect to those applications, because obviously it would as that's what an application-driven process is. The member may not realize that, but the fact is if he takes a look at different examples, it does vary. I will give you an example - this year if you take a look at the Highland Village in Iona, it happens that their budget is going up because of the application-driven process. That's why we have that process in place. The member may (Interruption) Well, the member will never know that; he will never be on this side of the House to know that anyway.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Victoria.

NAT. RES. - PARK FACILITIES: OPERATING LEVEL - MAINTAIN

MR. KENNETH MACASKILL: Mr. Speaker, my question today is for the Minister of Natural Resources. The minister will agree that improving the lives of people is one of the goals that any government should have. Indeed, the Department of Natural Resources has indicated in their business plan a goal to improve the quality of life for Nova Scotians. Last year the department invested $320,000 in park facility construction and upgrades. My question to the minister is, is it the minister's intent to maintain and operate park facilities at the same level as last year?

HON. ERNEST FAGE: Mr. Speaker, yes, it is the intention of the Department of Natural Resources to respond to the public of Nova Scotia and with that there have been changes. Some parks will open, some camping parks will be open longer this year so that more Nova Scotians and visitors may enjoy the beautiful province and our parks here.

MR. MACASKILL: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the minister for his assessment. According to the minister's departmental estimates, maintain and operate park facilities in this province means that 12 of our provincial parks will be open, on average, five weeks less than last year - for instance Mira River in Cape Breton and Salsman Park in Guysborough County will be open 10 weeks this year compared to 20 weeks the year before. So my question to the minister is, why did the minister spend significant resources to upgrade these facilities, the facility at Salsman Park in particular, only to reduce the availability to Nova Scotians and visitors one year later?

MR. FAGE: Mr. Speaker, in Nova Scotia we have 22 camping parks. We continually monitor the usage and the accommodations and this year is reflective of that plan. Parks must be maintained throughout the province, but ones that have higher occupancy rates and offer

[Page 9147]

more opportunity are open longer. Ones that are on the lower end of the scale in occupancy rates, we have to reassess them to see if they need to be left open for a longer season or not.

MR. MACASKILL: Mr. Speaker, my final supplementary will go something like this. A new provincial park was opened in West Mabou, located in Inverness County, last year. I recall when this minister became the Minister of Natural Resources. At that time there was an intent to sell that piece of property to a private developer until the outcry from the people of Inverness changed their minds. My question to the minister is this, have seasons been cut at more than half of the provincial parks to provide the park in the backyard of the Minister of Tourism, the MLA for Inverness?

MR. FAGE: Mr. Speaker, again I would emphasize, the length that parks are open is determined by the occupancy rate and the opportunity for Nova Scotians and visitors to enjoy. They are reassessed on a yearly basis, and that's how the decision is made.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.

NSLC - CEO (BARKER, ANDREW):

COMPENSATION PKG. - EXPLAIN

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, the Minister responsible for the Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation hoped to avoid much media attention when he released, late last Friday, the contract for the new Chief Executive Officer, one Andrew Barker. Of course, before the minister gets on his righteous indignation and impugning my motives for questioning the credibility of Mr. Barker, I want to say to the minister that it's not about his credibility or his ability to do the job, it's really about what the government is paying. The real issue is why does this government continue to enter into such rich executive compensation packages for those select few at the very top? Why is it doing that at the expense of all others?

HON. RODNEY MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, indeed, I believe that Mr. Barker will serve this province well, as the member indicated, in his new role. We certainly look forward to working with this individual. I'm sure he will do an excellent job of working with our strong staff across this province who serve the people of this province well.

MR. HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I think the minister must be taking coaching from the Premier, because he's almost as good as the Premier at not answering questions. Now, let's face it, Mr. Barker is not Roland Martin. He's not Roland Martin, but he's getting up there. It's about choices. This government is making choices to cut, for example, child protection workers. It threatened women's transition houses and other essential programs, while at the same time this minister is also handing out very sweetheart deals to a very select few senior executives. Let's cut to the chase and admit that the new CEO's salary, actually, really, what he's going to be paid is $180,000 in addition to his over $7,000 a year car allowance, because

[Page 9148]

a bonus of $45,000 will be so easy for Mr. Barker to achieve that his true salary is going to be that $180,000. Mr. Speaker, through you to the minister, isn't that in fact the truth?

MR. RODNEY MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, the member likes to misrepresent the facts. The fact is there is a base salary in place and the only way you can get the incentive is if you follow the right framework in order to achieve those incentives. Perhaps the member doesn't understand that. We can send another copy of the contract over to him.

MR. HOLM: Mr. Speaker, last year the corporation made $145 million. This year, the government has already cranked up the price by 10 per cent. You add that 10 per cent on, that equals $160 million. For achieving that, what the government has already budgeted, that means that he is going to receive a $20,000 bonus. That's like money in the bank unless Nova Scotians stop drinking. I want to ask the minister, through you, Mr. Speaker, why are you giving him a bonus for simply doing his job?

[1:30 p.m.]

MR. RODNEY MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, perhaps, as I've mentioned, the member hasn't taken a look at the release that we put out the other day. I will be happy to provide that for the member. In looking at that release he will see, and it outlines very clearly - we want to make sure it is as open as possible for every member in this House. I know that the members across the floor frequently ask questions and want the information. We've provided that information. Now he doesn't want the information. You can't have it both ways.

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

SERV. N.S. & MUN. REL. - PROP. ASSESS. AGENCY:

ESTABLISHMENT - TIMEFRAME

MR. BRIAN BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations. We know that this minister is planning on developing a new agency for property assessments. This minister has pretended to be upfront with some questions regarding this new agency; however, he has not been able to answer some of the simpler questions. My first question to the minister is, when will this new agency be established?

HON. ANGUS MACISAAC: Very soon, Mr. Speaker.

MR. BOUDREAU: As I indicated, Mr. Speaker, he can't even answer the simple ones. A few weeks ago, I was expressing my concern to this minister about the equalization formula for the municipalities in this province. Now my concern is for the people who specialize in property assessments across this province. The assessment people I have spoken to are concerned about their job security. These concerns are legitimate. Obviously, these

[Page 9149]

positions will have to be filled by people with experience. My question to the minister is, will you explain to this House what process will be in place for filling these new positions on this new agency?

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, I thank the honourable member for that question because I want to reaffirm to the House and to the honourable member that our position has not changed with respect to this issue since I answered similar questions in previous Question Periods. The staff of that department, the assessment division, will be the staff of the new agency. Their contracts and the benefits they have will be the benefits they will take with them as they assume their work within that new agency. I want to thank the honourable member for giving me the opportunity to make that assurance today.

MR. BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, perhaps those assurances should go forward to the workers and the union that represents them. My final question to the minister is, will this minister guarantee to the people who are currently employed in these positions across this province that their employment rights, privileges, benefits and other entitlements will be transferred? Are you guaranteeing this, Mr. Minister?

MR. MACISAAC: I would like to say ditto, but it's too important to give that sort of answer, Mr. Speaker. I can assure the honourable member and I can assure members of the House that we are taking all of the steps necessary to ensure that the employees of the assessment division of my department, when they become employees of the new agency, will, in fact, take with them the benefits that they currently enjoy and the contracts that go with those benefits. Again, I thank the honourable member for giving me the opportunity to make that assurance once again to the House.

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

EDUC. - UCCB: FUNDING - INADEQUACY EXPLAIN

MR. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, we've heard much from this government today, its lack of concern about the poor and its real concern about its rich friends and people in high places. I don't know whether the Minister of Education was listening to the news last Friday when the UCCB budget failed to pass again. It failed to pass because many courses have to be cut and faculty had to be laid off because of under funding by this government, a government that fails to realize the uniqueness of the University College of Cape Breton and what it means to the turnaround of the economy of that area. I want to ask that minister, why has her department consistently failed to recognize this and not given proper funding to that institution?

HON. JANE PURVES: Mr. Speaker, UCCB receives formula funding the way the rest of the universities do. Last year, we actually provided an extra $0.5 million for UCCB and some of its trades programs. What the member opposite and some people seem to fail to

[Page 9150]

understand is that UCCB is doing what it is supposed to do, and it is trying to rationalize its programs and services in order to provide the best possible programs for its students.

MR. CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, those are hollow words from a hollow minister from a hollow government. This government, time after time, talks cheaply about turning the economy of Cape Breton around, and we all recognize that the very base of helping to turn that economy around is that institution, the University College of Cape Breton. They don't have access to rich benefactors such as the minister herself does in helping through this government. This province will never see that type of help if they don't provide adequate funding for that. So I want to ask the minister again, what is her department prepared to do to help with this funding crisis at the University College of Cape Breton?

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, yes, indeed the University College of Cape Breton plays a key role in the economy of industrial Cape Breton and the rest of Cape Breton. The very important thing that the UCCB is trying to do in promoting the economy of Cape Breton, part of that is also having its own house in order, and that is what it is trying to do. It is an autonomous institution that takes its role very seriously.

MR. CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, I guess what we will see next time is a postcard that says, shut down UCCB and open hospital beds, and we will see how hollow that is. She hides behind the autonomy of that institution, but the reality is that if she would recognize the uniqueness there and put real money, real dollars there, that economy may start going forward. I want to ask the minister, why won't her department finally recognize the warning signs, the danger that university is anticipating, with funding before it's too late? Will you go in there with extra funding and help that institution?

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, it strikes me that going in places with extra funding and not allowing them to deal with their own issues and their own brains, the way they see fit, is precisely what has been wrong with economic development policies in the past.

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

ENVIRON. & LBR. - WATER STRATEGY: DELAY - EXPLAIN

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Environment and Labour. We have been hearing from the Minister of Environment and Labour about the development of this proposed provincial water strategy for Nova Scotia. As this minister is aware, we are the host province for the Canadian National Conference. And 1st Policy Forum on Drinking Water, which was held over the weekend and concluded, I guess, yesterday. My question to the minister is, what are the problems causing the delay of Nova Scotia's water strategy?

[Page 9151]

HON. DAVID MORSE: Mr. Speaker, it gives me a chance to point out what a long road it has been to get to this point. In fact, this strategy goes back to 1991, with the release of the minister's task force report on clean water. That was Minister Leefe. Since that time, there was about a six-year hiatus from 1993 to 1999, and immediately upon resuming government attention was given to it again by this government. We are moving forward on this initiative and are looking forward to an announcement very soon.

MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, I think there was a bit of a vacuum in some of the information that he provided, but I will save that for a later moment. The minister can't even get his act together on our local water strategy all the while knowing the province was hosting this Canadian National Conference And 1st Policy Forum on Drinking Water. We are fast approaching part of the time of year where we would see an increase in the number of boil orders for communities across Nova Scotia and indeed, drought situations. My question to the minister, what plans are in this water strategy or in fact, what plans does the minister have to be able to deal with these impending problems this summer?

MR. MORSE: I thank the member opposite for his question. This is a very serious subject and I appreciate the attention that he's giving it in Question Period. The role of the department is regulatory. The role of the strategy would enhance the department's contribution by being a repository for information from all the various levels of governments and departments in trying to assist and enable people, empower people to go out and improve their water management practices - whether that be for drinking water, whether it be with regard to irrigation or whether it's in regard to stewardship for making sure that any effluent that goes back into the surface water is of an acceptable quality and not endanger the environment.

MR. MACKINNON: I'm not sure really what the minister said. It was a little convoluted, but this is the same minister, who by his department's own admission, does not even know how much water they're exporting out of Nova Scotia. That's the minister's department's own admission. They don't know how much water they're exporting from Nova Scotia, but yet, continue to do so. Twice, the water strategy has been delayed and without any logical explanation given. Given the fact that they've spent close to $1 million on developing that strategy, my question to the minister, when will this provincial water strategy be tabled for all Nova Scotians to view?

MR. MORSE: I concur. There have been significant delays for the water strategy. I want to give Nova Scotians the credit for taking care of the big one by changing the government, electing a John Hamm Government, that was certainly a good start. With regard to the timing, my anticipation is that it would probably be before the end of this session. Thank you.

[Page 9152]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.

TRANSPORT. & PUB. WKS. - GAS TAX: REVENUES - USAGES

MR. HOWARD EPSTEIN: My question goes to the Minister of Transportation and Public Works. One part of the environment that's been making headlines these days has to do with global climate change. The discussion has focused particularly on the Kyoto Agreement. We know that Nova Scotians can lead the way in reducing emissions by looking at alternative transportation. This government, with its gas tax added on in the most recent budget, now has Nova Scotians paying two cents per litre extra. We are told that this extra money is going for the upkeep of roads in a society that is already highly car dependent. In Alberta and in Quebec and British Columbia, a portion of provincial gas tax is specifically directed to municipalities that have mass transit. I wonder if the minister can tell us, is your government going to be forward-thinking and fund alternative forms of transportation with at least some of this extra revenue?

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: With respect to the first question, is this government going to be forward-thinking, we've been forward-thinking for the last three years. To the second part of the question, no, the gas tax that has been imposed, the 2 cents, is going directly onto roads and bridges for the travelling public of the province.

MR. EPSTEIN: The minister can stand up and say that the roads of Nova Scotia are in bad shape and that's their priority and do you know what? That is a priority and I don't disagree, but breathing is a priority and every year hundreds of Nova Scotians suffer from respiratory problems due to air pollution from auto emissions. The health of Nova Scotians is jeopardized and that leads to higher health care costs. What is your government going to do to reduce our dependence on cars and offer us an alternative?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The time allotted for Question Period has expired. The honourable minister will have to save his answer for tomorrow.

GOVERNMENT BUSINESS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

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

PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 109.

[Page 9153]

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

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

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: I am pleased this afternoon to be able to join the debate on Bill No. 109, our Financial Measures (2002) Act and, in particular, the hoist amendment because, as you pointed out and have pointed out to numerous members of this House, as we begin the examination of this bill, it is in fact the question of why we ought to be taking six months to consider the bill that is the relevant part of the amendment.

[1:45 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, I want to start off just by talking a little bit about what this bill is. It has been referred to in this House as a piece of omnibus legislation in that it covers a great number of different Acts and different provisions, including the Children and Family Services Act, the Civil Service Act, the Companies Act, the Corporations Registration Act, and on and on it goes and each one of the sections begs to change a different piece of legislation more or less.

Now, Mr. Speaker, omnibus legislation is designed to cover a broad range of provisions. For one reason or another a government decides that what it wants to do is bring all those together in one bill. Well, that makes it extremely difficult to try to have a reasoned debate on each particular section of the Act and the reason for that is that, as you know, Mr. Speaker, and as you enforce under the Rules of this Legislature, we are only provided with a certain amount of time to deal with the bill in total. So even though a particular piece of this legislation, say the parts dealing with the Nova Scotia Arts Council, might warrant a full debate all of its own, that can't happen and that is part of the reason why we've been asking that this government accede to our request for the six months' hoist because the reality is that the procedure in this bill, the way this bill is laid out, is essentially designed to inhibit rational debate on the budget. That's what it's designed to do because what they do is they cover so much, they throw so much into the Financial Measures (2002) Act that we can't possibly hope to cover it all in the hours of debate that are allowed here.

I believe, Mr. Speaker, that the reason for this is that the government has kind of an arrogant notion of what the public wants and what they say is, look, the public is conflicted essentially between wanting a balanced budget and debt reduction and wanting more services, the public really doesn't know what it wants. So it's up to us, the authors of the Financial Measures (2002) Act, to decide for them because we are the people who really know what the public wants and we are after all the people who really know what's good for the people of Nova Scotia.

[Page 9154]

Well, you know, Mr. Speaker, with all respect to the government, I have to say that I believe that in a democracy the very word means making it possible for the public to decide what is good for itself and that's one of the fundamental flaws of this kind of legislation. What it does is it stifles debate, it takes away the ability for a rational discourse. I think my colleague, the member for Halifax Fairview, talked about the tumult of ideas so that all voices are heard so that people have an opportunity to consider all options and that is, of course, the benefit of the hoist motion. It gives you the opportunity to listen to that wide range of voices, to the spectrum of opinion that will be out there on the many different issues that are covered by this bill.

Now, I wanted to point out - and this is just an aside but I think it goes along with the whole question of why we need some six months or so in order to be able to consider the legislation, Mr. Speaker - of course, omnibus has a number of different kinds of meanings, it is an electrical contracting term, and the one that I know, of course, is associated with the practice of law. Omnibus has a kind of meaning within the framework of those who study law because of its use by Lord Denning. Lord Denning used to talk about the man on the Clapham omnibus. He said that the man on the Clapham omnibus was the standard of reasonableness. He talked about whether or not things were reasonably foreseeable. So the question was, what will the man or woman on the Clapham omnibus believe to be the case. In fact, this is actually an expression that comes out of the British society, it is I understand used outside of legal context in the United Kingdom and in referring to elections they used to say the government can't be successful without the support of the men and women on the Clapham omnibus.

So it's an interesting kind of thought because of what it has come to stand for. It has come to stand for the reasonableness associated with a proposition. So that means that we can apply it, I think, quite handily to this legislation, which we consider to be an unreasonable abrogation of the government's responsibility to have a full debate about the measures that are contained in the budget. Obviously, the government disagrees but nonetheless, it is up to us to try to the best of our ability to convince the members opposite that this would be a good idea and a fulfilment of their responsibilities and duties to the people of the province. But here we are, discussing these particular provisions.

There are a number of points I want to make, in general, before I get into any of the specific reasons why it is that we ought to be having a six months' hoist in order to be able to march this around the province and listen to the opinions of average Nova Scotians. Mr. Speaker, as I've pointed out this does so many different kinds of things but the first thing that we need to consider is the intent of the legislation, the intent of the Financial Measures (2002) Act in its implementation of the budget. Essentially, in order to actually consider Bill No. 109, the Financial Measures (2002) Act, you also have to consider a couple of other documents. You also have to consider this one, the fees and recovery schedule published by the Minister of Finance for the year 2002-03 and, of course, not the least of which the Nova

[Page 9155]

Scotia budget, because that is actually the salient document for consideration by the people of the province.

Now, if we look at the fee and recovery schedule, what you will see here is a large number of new user fees that are being charged by this government. They are done in a regressive manner. It doesn't matter to the government whether you make $10,000 or $1 million, you're going to pay the same amount. The proponents of a flat taxation system, this is what they talk about, it doesn't matter what your income level is. For example, Mr. Speaker, if you're David Mann and you're making $832,000 a year or whatever it is that he's making or if you're the woman whose pay stub I tabled earlier today, when it comes time for you to buy or renew your driver's license, you're going to pay the same amount even though it is a dramatic difference in the percentage of your income. This is true for just about every kind of assessment or so-called cost recovery measure that this government has undertaken.

You have here the changes to existing fees and new cost recovery measures, and you can see that this forms a significant amount of new recoveries for the government, and whether it's $100 million or $150 million or $200 million, the government, of course, knows best, although they refuse to accept our suggestion, which is to have a look at all of the fees charged in government to see what effect they have on the standard of living of the people of Nova Scotia - interestingly enough, through the six months' hoist, we would actually have an opportunity to essentially carry out that work, because we would be able to hear from Nova Scotians on the provisions of the Financial Measures (2002) Act, and I'm sure that a large part of that discussion would be around the government's cost recovery measures and its new user fees.

Mr. Speaker, for my own part, this definition of a user fee doesn't quite do it. It's a tax. People have talked about it being a tax. Everyone knows it's a tax, except for the government over there. They don't like to admit it, but it is a tax. It has a worse feel to it than that, because it's really a fee that uses the public unfairly. It's a kind of usury, it's a kind of extracting from them additional money for services that they already pay for in their taxes. It takes, as I have said, disproportionately from the poor and underwrites all of the general operation of government. It takes from the poor, but it gives the benefit, what you're seeing in terms of the real benefits of this, those - who will those go to? Those, of course, will go to the wealthy.

I want to give you an example, because this is something I think the government hasn't received enough advice on. The Financial Measures (2002) Act is clearly a set-up for moving in this direction; the Minister of Finance as much as said so on a number of occasions. What they want to do is they want to give some kind of a tax break to their friends. They've talked about a 10 per cent, across-the-board tax break. I think if they took it out to the people of Nova Scotia, what they would find is that that is not in any way part of the general thinking of the people of this province.

[Page 9156]

Mr. Speaker, I want to have a look at what it means, because what it means is this: if you're David Mann and you're earning in excess of $800,000-some-odd a year and you get a 10 per cent tax break, then you're going to glean out of this about an extra $15,000 a year. That's what it's going to mean to you. So when the minister talks about this tax break, it's going to benefit the wealthy. The woman whose pay stub I tabled here this morning, with some $10,000 in total income, do you know how much she's going to benefit from that kind of a tax cut? The answer is zero - absolutely nothing. No benefit to those people; no benefit to the thousands of people making minimum wage; no benefit to people living in poverty. The only people who will benefit are the very wealthy, the people who need it the least.

Mr. Speaker, do you know something? When it comes time to pay the user fees, the poor, the people on minimum wage, they will pay the same amount. The Minister of Finance is a kind of Robin Hood for the rich. He takes from the poor, he gives to the wealthy, and that is the philosophy of this government - they are well and truly Robin Hoods for the rich. They take money in through their user fees and they use them to subsidize the general operations of government, and they give the benefits of that general operation of government to the rich.

[2:00 p.m.]

It's not just that because, as I mentioned, it's not just the user fees that we have to look at in this six months that we have, we also need to look at the budget because at the back of the budget, in Schedule 19, there is the projected consolidated statement of net direct debt. In addition to them taking this money from everyone regardless of their income level, no matter how poor they are they're going to gouge this money out of them with an ultimate intention to give a tax break to their wealthy friends, they're going to continue to add to the debt of the province. Now I'm not making this up. This is in the government's books.

This year there will be an increase in the net direct debt of the province by some $100.4 million; next year there's going to be a net direct debt increase of $102.8 million. So every cent that they decide that they want to give to their wealthy friends is going to be added to the debt of the province and paid for by whom? Paid by the ordinary taxpayers of the province; paid for by those who are not in a position to pay yet more taxation. But that is a decision, that is a philosophical and ideological decision that this government has made regardless of its irrationality, regardless of its incompatibility with the will of the people of the province. They just don't care about it. They don't seemingly, for a government that has said over and over again that they want financial accountability, they want to talk about the debt of the province, they are of course, the participants in the continual adding to the net direct debt of the province, and for no discernable reason other than being able to provide additional benefits to the people who support them and their political philosophy.

I just briefly touched on how these user fees end up underwriting the general operation of government, and I want to take a little closer look at something that I certainly know a bit about, and I'm sure other members of this House know a little bit about, which is the

[Page 9157]

provisions that are going to affect the Insurance Act here in Nova Scotia. I think if we were to open this up and use the six months' hoist to have a wide discussion, a broad discussion about the measures contained in the Financial Measures (2002) Act, this would be one of the things that bears a little bit of scrutiny because of its possible effects not only on the people of the Province of Nova Scotia, but also on the Government of Nova Scotia.

I'm not even sure that they've really thought this out because the reality is that what the provisions of the Financial Measures (2002) Act require now is if you're in a motor vehicle accident in this province and there's a tortfeasor, a person who's committed an act of negligence, and as a result of that act of negligence you have been injured, the Government of Nova Scotia is going to require that a person who makes a claim for that injury also claims to recover any amount that has been paid out through health services to you.

In other words, if you had a broken leg and you were taken to the hospital and it had to be set and you had to spend time in hospital, all the costs associated in the health care system with your treatment for that accident are going to be passed on to the insurance company. You say, so what's the big deal, why shouldn't the insurance companies pay? They make big profits, they pay little in tax - surely this is a reasonable provision. Well the problem, of course, is that the insurance companies also fall into the category of the friends of the government. They're not going to give up their profits, they're not going to say we're going to take a cut in our dividend payments to our shareholders for the sake of the Province of Nova Scotia.

You think they're going to do that? I don't think so. I think that what they're going to do is they're going to say, okay, we've had much larger payouts, we've paid out 110 per cent of our premiums - this is the common thing you hear out of the industry - so no business can operate by paying out 110 per cent more than you take in, therefore we've got to raise our premium rates and the people of Nova Scotia already know how much insurance rates in the province have gone up.

Many seniors are unable to avail themselves of insurance. I think this has some serious consequences. They balance off their different insurance needs. It may be that they only have the ability to buy their automobile insurance so what they do is they say, well, I've got my house paid off. There's no bank requiring that I continue to have fire insurance on my house, so since I need the car insurance, I will take that and I won't bother renewing my house insurance. That's a huge risk because, of course, if the worst does happen, the house burns down and there's no insurance, then the person is left destitute and perhaps falls onto the rolls of one of the departments of the province, whether it's Community Services or otherwise.

[Page 9158]

So that's the first thing. Now the second thing about it is this. This is essentially another tax grab. This is another way to wring more dollars for the government out of ordinary taxpayers. Now how many people in the adult population drive motor vehicles? A large percentage. They drive motor vehicles in one way or another, whether they carpool or go on family vacations or just use it for transportation in the kind of daily affairs of life. All of those people pay insurance premiums that form the pool out of which claims are paid. So if the government takes the position that they want to take a piece of that pool, which is essentially what they are doing under this legislation - they are taking a piece of that pool in order to be able to pay for health insurance costs - if they do that, then the insurance companies are going to go back to their insured and say, you must replenish the pool. You must put more money back into the insurance pool so that we can pay out the claims that we need to pay, so that we can pay a profit to our shareholders and so that we can run the administration of our companies. That's what they're going to do.

Essentially, what the Department of Health is doing is they are charging the end user more money. In fact what they're doing is they're charging for health care, but they're doing it in the sneakiest of ways, Mr. Speaker, because what they're doing is they're bringing it through a third party. They're bringing it through an insurance company and they're saying to the insurance company, we can't charge for health care because that, of course, would be a violation of the Canada Health Act. So what we're going to do is we're going to charge you and we're going to get you to charge through premiums to your insured - the people of the Province of Nova Scotia. Now this is unfair because the people of Nova Scotia are going to have to pay higher insurance premiums in what I think of as a circuitous and - I'm searching for another word for sneaky - in a very devious manner to wring more money out of the people of Nova Scotia.

So insurance rates are going to go up again, thanks to the government, because that's what the provisions of Bill No. 109, the Financial Measures (2002) Act will do. But that's not all of it. That's not the whole picture. The other part of this is, what happens when this comes to the notice of the federal government? What if somebody in the federal government takes the time to actually look at this procedure, whereby this devious method on behalf of the government of the province to wring more money out of the public, what if they look at it and they say no, this is too direct a route. I mean, you have put it through a third party. You put it through an insurance company, but it's really clear what you're doing. What you're doing is you're providing a specified service. I have a broken leg, I go to the hospital, I get it fixed and, in return for you fixing it, you charge me for that service. The way that you do it is you charge me through my insurance premium. You are charging me for my health care service even though that service is already paid for through the general consolidated revenues of the Province of Nova Scotia and through commensurate - I shouldn't say commensurate, but in part funding under the CHST.

[Page 9159]

Mr. Speaker, I think this is unacceptable. It should be unacceptable to the people of the province. It ought to be unacceptable to the government, and I believe if we took the opportunity to march this bill around the province and examine this provision in particular, the people of Nova Scotia would tell the government and its members, like the member for Preston - they would tell him that this is an unacceptable piece of legislation, and I know he knows it. He can't say anything about it because he has to stand in the doorway and guard the exit so that members won't leave this Chamber, you know, so he can have a quorum. We know that that's his role. His role is not, apparently, to listen to his constituents and to the people of the province. (Interruption) He says he wants to make sure I have an audience. Well, Mr. Speaker, I want him to know that the audience for what I have to say goes far beyond this Chamber.

Mr. Speaker, it amazes me. You know, they undertake these - I said this before; they are essentially Robin Hood for the rich. They are taking money from poor; they're giving it to the rich, and they do it in the most sanctimonious of ways. They talk about the debt of the province and how important it is to recover the costs - you know, oh, woe is me - but at the same time they're ready, willing and able and will give money to their rich friends, whether it's through Martillac Consulting or Andersen Consulting, all of those groups, through their friends (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Perhaps some of the members would take their private conversations outside the Chamber, please. The honourable Leader of the Official Opposition has the floor.

MR. DEXTER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I know why they're talking among themselves, because whenever I mention the kind of corporate welfare that they engage in, it causes a great deal of nattering among them. You know, oh no, they shouldn't be saying that; people are going to get upset. Our constituents are going to get mad at us; here we are again. Well, it's true; that's what they're doing. They're taking money out of the pockets of middle-class taxpayers, the poor, and people on minimum wage, and who are they giving it to? They're giving it to the wealthy. They're giving it to their rich friends because that's who they're here to serve, just like we know who we're here to serve. But make no mistake, they know what they're here for. They know who pays their bills. They know why they're here; it's to serve those interests, and they do it and they do it well. You can be assured.

To give you an example, Mr. Speaker, here's a good example, and one that I'm sure - if we were to take this around the province, people would only be too willing to talk about it. Let's look at Nova Scotia Power. This was a Crown Corporation. It was held for the benefit of the people of the province and it was privatized. I know the Liberals spoke against it at the time, then embraced it in government. They had an initial public offering. They sold the assets for $141 million less than they were worth. No wonder they were over-subscribed. No wonder that immediately after the shares were snapped up, the price of the shares went up, because it was a reflection of the actual value of the assets. Boy, they were happy that

[Page 9160]

they were able to do that, and all the people who could afford the large holdings in Nova Scotia Power made a big profit.

Average Nova Scotians living in New England - you know, most of the corporation is not even held in the province, Mr. Speaker. The Minister of Justice knows well that this share offering was bought up by those who had the ability to do so. I don't think there were many people on minimum wage who were buying shares of Nova Scotia Power to put in their portfolio. They sold it for $141 million less than it was worth.

[2:15 p.m.]

What do we find out this year? We find out that the salary of the chief executive officer of Nova Scotia Power is in excess of $800,000, that the salaries of all of the executives of Nova Scotia Power are going up, I think, by an average of something like 40 per cent. At the same time they're asking for a dramatic increase in the power rates of this province. At the same time that seniors in my riding are coming to me and saying the government keeps telling me that they want me to stay in my own home but they're doing everything in their power to drive me out of it. They refuse gas and oil regulation, despite the fact the member for Cape Breton West tabled, yesterday in this House, documentation to prove that the regulation of gas in Prince Edward Island led to the lowest gas prices in the country, a full 10 cents a litre cheaper than it is here in the province.

But do they care about the effect that this has on working families? Do they care what this means to people who have to work 80 hours to bring home a meagre pay cheque on minimum wage, $400-some-odd, $800 a month on minimum wage? Do they care? No, but when it comes to $400,000 in untendered contracts for Martillac, they can't be bothered to have a tendering process, they can't wait to sign the contracts because, after all, these are friends of the government, nothing but the best. They are entitled to fat contracts, bonuses, car allowances and all the other things that go with being a friend of the government.

Mr. Speaker, what should be done? What should be done, for example, with Nova Scotia Power? If the government really wanted to do a cost recovery measure, if they really wanted to get back some of the money to be used in their budget or, perhaps, to be applied to their debt, because they have a debt this year, $100 million debt, then what would they do? They would go back and they would look at Nova Scotia Power, and they would say, gee, we sold this $141 million undervalue. Maybe we should bring in a windfall profit tax; maybe we should tax back, from Nova Scotia Power, some of that $141 million that we gave away to them. (Interruptions) They could do that.

They could implement that, and it's not strange. That's been done in other countries. I believe the Blair Government did it in the United Kingdom. They came in after the Major Government and the Thatcher Government had privatized virtually everything under the sun, right down to water, I think. They did an examination of it, and they found out that these sell-

[Page 9161]

offs had been so grotesque, had been so undervalued and that so much money had been made that they decided that they were going to find a way to recover some of that money, and they did it. They did it in order to bring some sense of fiscal responsibility to the government of the United Kingdom, so they could supply the kinds of services that they knew the people of their country needed.

The Conservative Government could do that here. They could try to recover some of the money that was thrown away. They could do it if they wanted to. But that's only one suggestion about how to deal with Nova Scotia Power. I'm sure there will be much more that would be coming forward from the people of Nova Scotia if they took the six months to actually have a look at it.

Let me give you another example, Mr. Speaker. I think this is a particularly relevant one with respect to Nova Scotia Power. Here's something you could do. Rather than recovering your $141 million shortfall in that way, in a tax. What you could do is you could freeze the power rates, not allow any increases until you felt you had recovered that - the people of Nova Scotia, after all it was their investment, it was their investment in Nova Scotia Power. It came from the taxpayers of the province. So you would be essentially returning it to them through frozen power rates. If you wanted more than that you could actually reduce power rates and say, Nova Scotia Power, you're going to have to take a couple of years to pay back the people of this province the windfall you made when this was privatized.

That might be a better thing to do, Mr. Speaker, when you think about it because, obviously, a lot of those shares have changed hands over the last 10 years. The people who actually had the windfall profits in the initial public offering of those shares might not be the same people who are there now. Indeed, the Minister of Justice says, well, there are a lot of ordinary Nova Scotians who own those shares, and maybe that's true. I'm sure it is. Well, if power rates were frozen and you were getting a return to all of the people of Nova Scotia, then those shareholders who were here would benefit from it as well. The people who wouldn't benefit are people who hold the shares but who don't live in Nova Scotia. So this would be perhaps more equitable to Nova Scotians who hold that share offering. That's the kind of example when we talk about the need to discuss this legislation and have a full debate on all of the clauses of the bill.

Mr. Speaker, we look at what is essentially the unfairness of this bill, of the financial measures that the government seeks to enter into and, of course, the specific examples that come to mind are - it's not often that you see a government coming in and saying we are going to make a few little changes to the cost and fees that you are going to pay in the province and then has to issue a book. That's not the usual thing. Usually there would be one or two small changes that were made and people would understand them and you would see them. They would be the highlight of the news. Well, in this case, they had to issue a book on the so-called cost recovery measures of the government, because there were so many, it

[Page 9162]

was such a broad range of fees that are going to be recovered by this government and some of them were particularly reprehensible, certainly court fees and probate fees.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I'm wondering if the honourable member would allow for another honourable member to make an introduction?

MR. DEXTER: Certainly, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect on an introduction.

MR. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, in the west gallery today we have a friend of mine who actually admits it in public. Is he not only a friend of mine, he is the owner of this Canadien's tie that I have been forced to wear. So I would like to introduce to the House my good friend and hockey teammate from the Buzzard's Hockey Organization, the Captain of the Tantallon Buzzards, Dennis Doyle. Dennis, could you stand in your place? (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

MR. DEXTER: Well, you got to him first. He wouldn't bet with me. He knew better than that. So I think Jose Theodore is now on his Christmas card list, Mr. Speaker.

Where were we, Mr. Speaker? We were talking about the fees that are being charged in this province, the ones that the government's referring to as cost recovery measures. The one that I thought was particularly reprehensible was the fee for international adoptions that went from, I think, $75 to $675. Originally the government, I think, said that it was going up to $600 and then we found out later that it was actually going up $600 which is, of course, a big difference. It went up by $600 to $675. This is apparently for some kind of paperwork processing that is underway. I think it is clear, it's just a cash grab on behalf of the government for people who are trying to extend their own good fortune into the lives of children, who seek to enrich their lives through the international adoption process and the lives of children who otherwise wouldn't have the benefits or may not have the benefits of being in a loving household in this province. I thought that one was particularly callous.

Mr. Speaker, I want to ask you to think about the opportunity that seniors in this province would have if they had the opportunity to come over the six months and discuss the financial measures of this government, contained within the confines of the budget. For example, what we see is an increase in the costs that are going to go to seniors through the Pharmacare plan. You know and I know that this is particularly problematic for seniors. They are, in large part, on fixed incomes. They are the ones who have to deal with increasing insurance rates. Maybe I should just spend a couple of minutes on the whole question of the increase in insurance rates for seniors, because this is the way the argument goes, and I would like to have an opportunity to dispel it.

[Page 9163]

I talked earlier about the way that the government is going to grab money directly from people for health services through insurance premiums, that's part of it. One of the things the insurance companies have been doing with this so-called insurance pool is by limiting it. What they say is that we have to increase the fees to seniors because after a certain age drivers' reflexes slow down, their ability to operate the car as successfully as others diminishes and therefore they have a higher incidence of accidents. That may well be true. They would have actuaries who study these kinds of statistics and make forecasts and do the work that they do in order to be able to forecast what premiums need to be charged. Perhaps that's true.

But what they don't say, Mr. Speaker, is that when they take seniors out of the general pool and they assess them separately, they do two things. First of all, they make more money off the seniors, who they're obviously charging higher rates to, but what they also do is they increase their profit on the other pool because, of course, what they've done essentially is take high-risk drivers out, and leave themselves with a nice, low-risk pool on which they can generate a decent premium, on which they can generate a profit, and therefore dividends for their shareholders. That's the way it works.

I think the seniors in this province have a legitimate complaint. What they say is this, why are you taking us out of the general pool? All our lives, as we were young people and we fell into that general pool, we understood that we were paying perhaps a little higher premium in order to be able to subsidize the people at the top end of the pool, who were, perhaps, not as good drivers as we were because of age, because their accident rates where a little higher, perhaps. I only say that because I don't have the actuarial evidence. Insurance companies have been saying this is so, so I'm accepting it on the basis of their research.

So, they say, over the years, as we were younger and in middle age, we paid more into this pool and, therefore, paid the profits and the dividends to the shareholders of these companies over the years, so that when we got to the upper end of the pool we would be able to take advantage of being in the general pool where the monies and premiums paid by those who were younger will now benefit us, the same way that our premiums benefited older Nova Scotians when they were in the pool.

Mr. Speaker, seniors have a very legitimate beef. They understand that at almost every turn it's their incomes that are being attacked. They are the ones who are going to pay the larger percentage out of their income for increases in insurance rates, for increases in electrical rates.

[2:30 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, that was the big complaint about the BST. We don't hear much about it any more. I think the government thinks people now don't notice that when they get their home heating fuel, there's a big chunk of it on there that's for the blended sales tax, but I can

[Page 9164]

tell you in my riding they still notice. They notice that the necessities of life are still taxed beyond the means of many people and that's why in the last election we said that if we were elected, we would take the blended sales tax off those items that are necessary for people to live their lives in a reasonable standard. I believe if we had this piece of legislation out there, we would hear this.

Now, back to Seniors' Pharmacare because this is another example. The increases in the cost to Pharmacare are going to be handed on to a very finite pool of people, those people who require that coverage in order to be able to receive the medication that they need in order to be able to sustain either their lives or a reasonable standard in their lives and what will it do when the government raises the premiums and co-pays around Pharmacare? This has been a slow but sure march over the years, Mr. Speaker. Some years they increase the premium. Some years they increase the co-pay, some years both.

So, Mr. Speaker, what happens is that they elicit a reaction from the seniors' community. I mean it's anger sometimes, it's cynicism, you know, those are, I think, the most modest of reactions. The most severe is an opting out of the program itself because of what that means not only to the health of this population and to their personal safety, but also to the people of the taxpaying public of the province. The reality and we know this, it's documented in a study out of McGill, is that when you undertake these kinds of increases, what you're going to see is an increase by seniors in usage of emergency rooms. They're going to end up there because they can't afford to take their medication which means that they're going to get sick which means that they're going to show up in emergency rooms perhaps and all too often, I'm afraid.

But that's not the only place they show up, Mr. Speaker. They show up having to go back to their primary physicians, primary care providers, because they know they're getting sicker. They know they're not taking their medication or they've cut it in half. One woman told me, I had the opportunity, I had to make a decision, I could either go see my grandchildren or I could take my medication, I didn't have the money to do both.

Why would any caring or compassionate government want to put a seniors' population in that kind of predicament, to make that kind of a choice - I could choose to have a telephone or I could choose to have my medication? I could choose to live in my home or I could choose to move out of my home and be able to afford the other things I need whether they're medication or other things that I would consider to be necessary for a reasonable standard of living, but this is the kind of thing that this government is engaged in, this kind of paradoxical situation where the government is saying we're going to strengthen the services that are available to keep you in your home. They say it on the one hand and then on the other hand do everything in their power to undercut the very foundation of these people's lives and force them out of their homes. It happens in so many departments. It happens in assessment - people who are driven off their land by high assessments. In some of those cases the property has been in their hands for generations.

[Page 9165]

So this government is far from being the compassionate, understanding, open, accountable group that campaigned for election in July 1999, Mr. Speaker; they have turned out to be a little more than a continuation in the unbroken line of governments over the last 15 years that have served only one master, those people who have the economic ability to support their interests, and an unbroken line of governments that have continued to diminish the standard of living of the people of the province.

People say, we keep switching from Liberals to Tories and they keep saying they're going to be different and act in our best interests, but it just never seems to work out. Government keeps doing things to me instead of for me. Well, that's because the philosophies of those political Parties are just that. We know who we're here to speak up for and they know who they're here to speak up for, and in this regard, never the twain shall meet.

I want to take the last little while to discuss something that I think is particularly heinous about this particular piece of legislation and the activities of this government. I think that in the event that the government should see to it that they will take us up on our option to have the six months to travel about the province, they would find a wide agreement on - I know they're thinking about the callous cuts to transition houses, women's centres and treatment programs for abusive men, and that's true. There is wide agreement on that and nobody knows better than the Minister of Community Services. From my place here on the front bench on this side, I couldn't watch as the Minister of Community Services wilted under the stress. I could watch as public opinion slowly crushed the minister into submission. He knew right from day one that this was an awful piece of business that the government was undertaking, but it just took a little while for the people in the province to be able to get through to him and make him change his mind.

I don't doubt at all that he had more than one conversation with the Premier of the province about it because it seemed only reasonable that at some point in time with a piece of legislation or a piece of budgetary chicanery like this, which was literally going to serve as a symbol for what this government stood for, the Minister of Community Services would have to go to the Premier and say, I don't think we can withstand that. I don't think our government can withstand the fact that we are going to be painted as people who are willing to take money away from women trying to escape abusive situations and children who need this service so desperately. I don't doubt for a second that there was a great discussion on that but that, in fact, is not what I was going to talk about.

What I was going to talk about instead were the provisions of the Financial Measures (2002) Act that deal with the Arts Council. With the government having relented around transition houses, women's centres and the treatment programs, at least for the time being - don't worry, Mr. Speaker. I know the Minister of Community Services is sitting over there rubbing his hands and waiting for the day that the doors of the Legislature will close so he can slink back to his offices and not have to worry about being accountable and then perhaps

[Page 9166]

try to find some way to run this through yet again. I want to tell the minister that we are going to be watching. We are going to be here to represent those people, to see to it that you don't get away with doing this through the back door. That's why we're here.

Now, the Arts Council. This has been said many times, but it bears repeating. Nova Scotia was the last province to have an arm's-length organization, an arm's-length Arts Council. It was set up in a manner that guaranteed the independence of that organization from government. They didn't have to worry about the interference of the members of government in the process of making grants to organizations and individuals in the community. This was hailed as a great thing. It was, I believe, supported at that time by all the Parties. So when the Minister of Tourism and Culture decided in his absence of wisdom that this was going to become the target of this government in this budget, it came as a complete surprise.

It came as a surprise, Mr. Speaker, because the minister is a member of the arts community. It came as a surprise because people believed that he had a commitment to that community and its independence. So imagine the shock and dismay of the artists from one end of the province when one of their peers, one of their own artists, one of their own comrades, one of their own people decides to do away with something that they had struggled and worked for, for many, many years.

You know, Mr. Speaker, he should know better. I mean as a traditional artist, as a person who knew the value of making applications for this kind of funds, you would have thought that he would have said we've got to strengthen the Nova Scotia Arts Council. We've got to find a way to increase the endowment fund. We've got to find a way to make more money available to the arts community to strengthen it. Instead, without warning, without consultation, the minister went in and locked the doors of the Nova Scotia Arts Council in a completely callous and uncalled for way. The members of the arts community came to this House and they asked the minister to come out and speak with them. Would he even go outside? Would he even take the time to go outside and speak with them?

Mr. Speaker, one of the things about the Minister of Education, although many people disagreed with the budget that she produced and disagreed with her administration of that department, when they came down here to speak with her, at least she took the opportunity to go outside and talk to them. I don't know that it was a fully understood two-way conversation, but she at least had presented herself, as she should, as a minister of the government. The Minister of Tourism and Culture refused to even take that opportunity.

Mr. Speaker, I do want the government to know this. The Nova Scotia Arts Council is coming back and there's nothing they can say or do about it. They're coming back and the government is only one election day away from the return of the Nova Scotia Arts Council. The Nova Scotia Arts Council will be back. It will be independent, it will have the peer review process and it will be back in this province. I want to tell them that it will be among

[Page 9167]

the first orders of business of the new government, reappointing the Nova Scotia Arts Council. I can just see it because the gallery will be full and the Nova Scotia Arts Council legislation will be reintroduced and the members of the Tories, wherever they might be, scattered as they will be, whither and yon, will say we made a mistake messing with the arts community, we made a mistake. So I will end with this, we are only one election day away from the reintroduction of the Nova Scotia Arts Council legislation and the reinstatement of the Nova Scotia Arts Council.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Victoria.

MR. KENNETH MACASKILL: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity to talk for a few minutes this afternoon on the hoist of Bill No. 109, the Financial Measures (2002) Act. The reason we support the hoist, particularly since the Party to my right has introduced the hoist and it's not always that we support the NDP and their amendments, or whatever, but today I think on this particular motion, it's a good motion and we applaud their efforts for putting that forward.

[2:45 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, what we are looking for today is a hoist of six months on this very important piece of legislation - the Financial Measures (2002) Act - because this government thinks it's okay to introduce a bill and a budget that affects many people and then they pretend to the House that this government has consulted with those who are affected most. That is why today, that I, in particular, and all the rest of us who have spoken on the hoist, we would like to see this motion passed, so it will allow the government the time it needs to revise it so that it does, in fact, reflect what it is that the government should have done in the first place. What's that? Let's try the word consult. When anybody asks the question, why should we hoist this for six months, well I will tell you why. It is because Nova Scotians should be made aware of how devious this government is in its actions.

Mr. Speaker, all members on the Opposition voted against the government's budget, and why? There were two main reasons, two very important things that jump out at you. First of all, the government has no plan for Nova Scotians or for Nova Scotia. Secondly, when it comes to health care and the protection of the safety of families or the importance of the arts in this province, this government has proven that it is unable to manage the affairs of the province.

Mr. Speaker, that's exactly what this hoist motion is really all about, ensuring that the government is held accountable to Nova Scotians. That accountability can only come through consultation and properly conducted assessments with the most vulnerable people of Nova Scotia, our seniors, our women and our children. This government should not be allowed to get away with saying it consulted the people of this province in making its decisions when

[Page 9168]

that is not the case. Passing these measures leaves Nova Scotians to speculate and worry about what might be enacted.

Mr. Speaker, with six months set aside, this government will have more of the necessary time to engage in important discussions with Nova Scotians, and particularly to hold meetings with the groups representing those vulnerable people in our society. I think that it would be wise for the government to consider the hoist for that very reason. Indeed, also, hoisting this bill will give the Minister of Community Services a chance to appreciate what works and what can be improved upon with respect to transition houses and people on social assistance. He may be able to teach them in six months how to use a new computer in case this new government plan goes into effect.

Mr. Speaker, this Minister of Community Services thinks we are all tuned into the information technology. Also, the Minister of Community Services will get the chance to hear why $890,000 is drastically needed with respect to transition houses in our province. Also, for the Minister of Health, six months gives him the chance to determine, among other things, the impact any increases in ambulance fees would have on Nova Scotians and on their decision to seek immediate and lifesaving medical attention. It's taking money out of the people's pockets who can't afford it.

Mr. Speaker, I would yield the floor now for an introduction, with your permission.

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

DR. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague, the member for Victoria, for yielding the floor to introduce 26 very important people from my riding of Dartmouth East that I represent from Ellenvale Junior High School, 26 students, with their teacher, Mr. David Wilson, who has been coming to this House on a regular basis.

MR. JOHN HOLM: I used to teach him way back when.

DR. SMITH: The member for Sackville - somewhere or other in Sackville - says he used to teach him. Anyway, excuse me. Mr. Speaker, David has been coming to this House much longer than some of the current members and he will probably be coming back when some of the people on that side of the House have long since gone. Seriously, I promised the students I would not be partisan in any way. Ellenvale Junior High School is a very important place in the community of Dartmouth East. I don't know if all the students would know, but back in the 1960s, 1970s, during those days, there were twice the number of students in that school than there are now. They are accompanied by their teacher, Dave Wilson, and Sue Hollihan, who's a teacher assistant. I see her doing a little sign language as well, and I compliment you for all the support for the students. They are also accompanied by Noel Lewis, who I've had some communications with over the year, and he's a pharmaceutical rep in the region here and a very active parent.

[Page 9169]

Ellenvale has been a very outstanding school in sports and internationally known for its bands over the years and for its high academic standards in all matters. I just want to compliment the teachers and the students here today and to say to the parents, and to Noel in particular, that it's nice to see parents involved. Some of the things we're speaking about today, in the smoking programs and other matters, really can benefit from not only teacher assistants and those persons but also the parents' continued involvement, not only at the elementary level but here at the junior level and to carry on later. So I welcome them and I would ask the students to rise and receive the warm welcome of the House. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: We join in welcoming our visitors to the gallery. The honourable member for Victoria has the floor.

MR. MACASKILL: Mr. Speaker, I was afraid he was going to use up all my time. (Laughter) Indeed, we all welcome the students here today. We were talking about this government and the way they pick the pockets of the vulnerable in the province and those people who can't afford it. Let's take, for instance, an ambulance ride. It went from $85 to $125 for emergency rides and if you're being transported, it goes from $500 to $600. This user fee is a tax, pure and simple. Also, with the ambulance, if the patient is accompanied by a member of their family, that member also gets a bill

Mr. Speaker, the government's $121 Pharmacare increase is in addition to the $150 co-payment increase announced in 2000 when that rose from $200 to $350. That's why we believe that this hoist is in order and the right thing for this government to do. The impact on cutting the Children's Dental Program, which will force some Nova Scotians into a position of being unable to afford certain aspects of dental care, this government is offloading children's dental care to private insurance and, so far, that's three groups that this

government has turned its back on in bringing in this budget and with this bill; three vulnerable groups and worried parents in our society who worry what these new provisions will mean for tomorrow, for a month, or a year from now.

It is also important to understand that should the hoist motion pass, for the next six months, Nova Scotians would have the opportunity to examine the exact wording and the implications of this legislation that greatly impacts on their everyday lives.

Emotions have been running high about the services that this government has decided to cut, the privatization plan it hopes it will introduce and services for which they have decided to either impose fees or increase fees. There is a reason for that passion and Nova Scotians are worried. Six months would give the government the chance to consult more with people, and in particular, give people a chance to consult with government. Without consultation and assessments, the government doesn't respect Nova Scotians or value the input that they can provide; in other words, dodging the issues. Consultation and assessments would ensure that the government makes the most informed decisions for the future of this province and its people.

[Page 9170]

Budgets of any province are a series of choices. We all understand that there are tough choices, but it's very important that the right choices are made and governments exist to make reasonable, informed choices for the people. But it didn't make the informed choices it said it did or that it was going to do.

A lot of people have legitimate concerns about this budget because the effect will have real and lasting results on a lot of people and a lot of people's lives. That is why we want to put this Bill No. 109 out to the public to review it and digest it and probably suggest necessary changes.

I return to the reason we stand by the hoist motion today. It's because of this government's poor management of the priorities it has for Nova Scotians. Everything from children to women, artists to seniors, debt to health care and our message on this hoist motion is clear - there should have been more and further consultation. This government says it's committed to the culture of our province, but it's taken the money from those people - the artists of Nova Scotia that contribute greatly to the culture of this province - by taking control of and thereby risking the fund. The relationship between this government and the province's artists has been dismantled because of the lack of consultation. The endowment fund of this former Nova Scotia Arts Council will be spent instead of placed in trust to protect the arts community. If amendments to this bill are passed by this government, that's what is going to happen. The Nova Scotia Arts Council intended to spend only the interest on this fund to ensure that revenue would always be available to fund art and culture in this province. This government's amendments, with respect to the Arts Council in this bill, will allow the government to spend the endowment fund as long as the funding broadly relates to arts and culture.

If there is any doubt in anyone's mind that this government is unaccountable, consider what they want to ensure - that access to government information is kept just out of reach of the public. Everything is hidden. Everything is out of sight of the people it affects.

Mr. Speaker, another reason we feel this hoist motion is in order is that this government says that it has the most open and generous FOIPOP Act in Canada for making information available. But this government says it wants to be transparent and it wants to be open and accountable; whatever the public wants, it will provide. They say they will provide it. But this government is going after FOIPOP, an important avenue the public has to government documents that help them ensure and keep the government accountable. If you have money and you're willing to wait long enough, you might find out some of the information that will allow you to keep the government accountable - if you have the money and you're prepared to spend it to get the information that's rightfully yours.

[Page 9171]

[3:00 p.m.]

With this new user fee, it is going to be difficult. This fee is a tax to prevent the public from gaining knowledge of government activities, pure and simple. It's increasing from $5 to $25. That's an increase of 500 per cent. At that, it's a huge increase. That goes to the essence of our democracy. It denies people the chance to examine the government's records, which, in truth, are the people's own records. That's what we talk about here. Freedom of information is just that, freedom of information to the people of Nova Scotia relating to the performance of their government.

Mr. Speaker, I want to dwell for a few moments on some opinion columns in the local papers. This was from the Halifax Chronicle-Herald, and I'm only going to read a small portion of it. The title is Shelter Cuts Take Nova Scotia Back to the Dark Age. This lady has said: It has been nearly 20 years since abused women in rural areas were trapped with no place to go. In that time, those shelters have provided support for thousands of women and children. In 2002, rural Nova Scotians are not going to be willing to go back to a life with Billy.

Mr. Speaker, another document, another article, Balancing Budgets on the Backs of the Vulnerable: Oh, and by the way, Mr. Christie, as of April 10th, Bryony House had a resident count of 28 women and children in a 24-bed shelter. We had a family which had to sleep in our front room area. I bet they would have some comments on your budget cuts and where you can put your restructuring rhetoric. The list goes on and on: Loss of Funding Shuts Doors to Escape; that's an interesting title. Without a safe place to be and people who care, most women and children stay in these homes, trying to leave again and again because they don't know what it's going to take, who is going to take care of them now. Those are the people we talk about who should have been consulted by this government, and that is the reason we support this hoist motion today, so that this government will reconsider its actions on this budget, consult more with Nova Scotians and hear what they have to say. Then maybe they can get it right.

Another item I would like to touch on is, Health top priority, and this is from Buster Woodworth in New Minas: "I would like everyone to know that I have been a Conservative all my life. I was raised in a Conservative family and I believe in all their policies. Times have changed. Have you ever asked yourself what type of doctor John Hamm was? The first priority Mr. Hamm and his cabinet should have is health care. But what is he doing? Closing and removing beds from Cape Breton to Yarmouth. There seems to be no consideration for the elderly or sick." Fear is raised about repair depots and closures. The list goes on and on and on.

Mr. Speaker, it's interesting, the statements of the Auditor General, some user fees may not be legal says the Auditor General. Last week's budget hit the public with over $18 million in extra fees for everything from vehicle registration to international adoption. The

[Page 9172]

Auditor General, Roy Salmon, has been warning for over a year that some of the changes have no legal authority behind them. These are interesting lines, but does it make any difference to this government? I don't think, but if this government would go back to the people, take a six months' hoist, go back and talk to the people, get their input, maybe they would get it right.

Another one suggests, Mr. Speaker, that the doctor should go back to doctoring; the illness, Mr. Premier, is severe budgetitis. It is caused by 40 years of careless spending by those in power. You are first a doctor and, second, not what you claimed to be when seeking the premiership. Please return to where you may be needed more - to doctoring.

Mr. Speaker, the balancing act, and this is one by S.T. Power, Dartmouth: Dear Editor, the Premier and his government should be ashamed of themselves. How do they figure they've got a balanced budget when the interest alone this year will put us $100 million deeper in debt, a debt of $11.6 billion? They must think the people of Nova Scotia are plain stupid. Their ride is up. How many tax increases, user fees, fuel tax plus, HST increase, service cutback, hidden taxes and how many of those do they think we can handle? It closes by saying: Well done, Mr. Premier, I hope you are proud.

Mr. Speaker, there are many ways in which this budget affects many, many people, everyone from seniors to children, battered women. The list goes on and on, even to the food banks in our province. The Metro Food Bank has something to say about this government's budget. The food bank expects the budget to drive up the demand. The Metro Food Bank Society is expecting demand for its services to go up because of the Hamm Government's budget: When families' budgets get tight, the grocery money gets cut and food banks must step in to help those families feed their children. The province is expecting to raise $17.8 million through hikes in taxes and user fees, from driving a motor vehicle, to reduce the debt. Motorists will also be on the hook with drivers' licenses and vehicle registrations on May 1st.

Mr. Speaker, I want to go back to the Nova Scotia Arts Council's endowment fund and where that fund came from and how it was established. The Nova Scotia Arts Council's endowment fund was established and mostly funded by the previous government in 1995 and 1996. Since that time, organizations, as well as individuals, have placed their money into an endowment fund for the purpose of funding the Nova Scotia arts community.

Mr. Speaker, this money was placed in an endowment fund in good faith with the knowledge that the Nova Scotia Arts Council would only spend the interest that was accrued on the fund. But in the amendments that the government is pursuing through Clause 43 of the Financial Measures (2002) Act, this government is breaking that good faith with the organization and individuals who have contributed to the endowment fund since its creation. We would love to see the government pass this hoist so they would go back to the Arts Council and further consult with them. This amendment would be in the best interest of this

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government. But the government contends that they will not spend the fund in ways that the Nova Scotia Arts Council would have. Then why add these amendments to the bill that give the department the power to spend the money in the endowment fund? With these amendments it is possible for the government to spend the money as part of a Tourism campaign, as long as it involves arts and culture in this province.

Mr. Speaker, that was not the intent of the endowment fund when it was created. If the government plans on using the fund in the same fashion the Nova Scotia Arts Council would have, then the amendments should not have been added to the legislation. In fact, the amendments added would prove that the government's plan is to use the money to pursue outcomes that are inconsistent with the original intentions of the endowment fund. The government's amendments state that the endowment fund can be used to obtain advice on matters relating to the arts policy. There are many in the arts community who are very disappointed in the way this endowment fund is going to be used. They wonder, why abolish the Arts Council when they provided arts policy advice without - and I will repeat, without - having to spend the endowment fund. What does this say about the minister's confidence in the staff when he is stating that he will look to outside sources for arts policy advice? That's not a very fair statement on the part of the minister. If this is the case, why add Clauses 41 to 44 to the Financial Measures (2002) Act. That's why we suggest this hoist should take place.

Mr. Speaker, because of the fact that the new Arts Council will not be an arm's-length organization, there is the very real possibility that the $100,000 in funding from the National Foundation will not be available to fund a school arts program. That's why we want to hoist. That's why we're asking for this hoist to take place. This means that minister's so-called $270,000 to $370,000 in savings will drop to $170,000, if he intends to fund the program from the department's budget. Because most foundations do not fund government agencies the new council will not eligible for future funding from these sources. If the Arts Council was maintained as an arm's-length body, the possibility for future funding from foundations would be much greater and we believe that. It is just unfortunate that this government doesn't believe that. Instead, this government has decided that it knows what is best for the arts community in Nova Scotia. As a result, the endowment fund will be drained and future funding for new projects does not look very good.

[3:15 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, there are many areas in this province and many issues that this government cuts to the heart at in their budget. I want to briefly touch on some commitments made by the government, for instance in forestry, sustainability of our forests. The minister has stated many times and he says he makes a strong commitment to the sustainability of our province's forests . . .

[Page 9174]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member has the floor and I'm keenly interested in what the honourable member is stating and I am sure there are other members in this Legislature who are as well. The honourable member for Victoria.

MR. MACASKILL: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. I have noticed since I started, I have attracted a bit of an audience on this side which is nice. But I want to continue for a few more moments and then I will yield the floor to another speaker. There are many things we could talk of, but I was talking about sustainability in our forests across the province. The minister has said that he has made a strong commitment to the sustainability of our provincial forests. Now, that's good news, but the minister, while he has said that, he has made cuts to the province's reforestation budget by over $250,000 and still maintains that the province will keep the sustainable forestry fund healthy. That's kind of hard to figure out, but I'm sure there is some logic somewhere in it, and probably if we had six months to go to the people of Nova Scotia we would find that out.

Mr. Speaker, the Premier, when he was campaigning in 1999, printed a very rosy picture of the outlook for this province, and these promises go on and they go on. I'm reading from an article in The Chronicle-Herald on June 19, 1999, when he says, "The number one priority is getting our finances under control and getting health care established in a way that we can provide health care at an affordable cost." We heard today where the cost of health care is soaring now close to $2 billion, and it seems that the service is deteriorating. So it would appear that that number one priority has not held much water. He says we need a health care system that is fiscally responsible and we should start by looking for a more effective use of our resources. Mr. Hamm said a better use would be getting rid of some administrative spending and spending the money on people who give eyeball-to-eyeball care, such as nurses. That's a good line, Mr. Speaker, I like that one.

Mr. Hamm said that his Party would bring in a balanced budget well within its first mandate. He would not be more specific and I could see why he wouldn't be at that time. He goes on to say the budget will be balanced and really balanced in year three. The bottom line is "no more red ink for Nova Scotia" I don't know what you call a $11.6 billion debt. If it's not red, it's a new method of financing or bookkeeping. In general, I think what we've seen is this government continuing to gouge people in Nova Scotia.

It was interesting, one evening I was watching the good member for the beautiful Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley reporting on CTV about the way the oil companies were gouging Nova Scotia by increasing fuel tax the same day that the increase was noted in the budget. If there's anyone gouging the people of Nova Scotia, it's this government. That's why we want a six months' hoist so people of Nova Scotia can explain to this government how they've been gouged.

[Page 9175]

I know the Minister of Transportation and Public Works is sick and tired of me talking about ferry fares, but let me give you some insight into their methods of cost recovery. I have two ferries in my riding. The fares have increased from $3 to $5 for a single vehicle. Commuter tickets have gone from 75 cents to $1.25. But the interesting thing is, Mr. Speaker, if a tractor trailer drives on the ferry and takes up the whole centre line, he pays $5 and then take a motorcycle and stuff it in the corner, they also pay $5. If you can see the rationale of why a government has to recover costs, or why it's cost recovery to ferry a 50 or 60 ton vehicle at the same cost as it does to a 300 pound or 400 pound motorcycle, I fail to see it. But the minister did say that they would take another look at the ferry costs, and I hope he will, because it's a very hot issue in my riding. Particularly when these two ferries split the community right in two and people have to travel back and forth constantly. That's why we want a six months' hoist on this, so Nova Scotians can get a chance to talk to the government on these issues. A lot of these user fees were put in place without full knowledge, I believe, of the department's leaders or ministers.

Mr. Speaker, we talk about increased power rates. Power rates are very, very important to Nova Scotians. A lot of people are worried and a lot of people are concerned about what these user fees or increase in power rates will do to ordinary citizens of Nova Scotians. An area of concern in my riding and Inverness County is StoraEnso. If these rates go through, they are going to be hit with huge, huge costs, which in turn will maybe force closure in some areas. Particularly in the old pulp mill where a lot of wood contractors and harvesters rely on that mill for their second grade wood. That is the nearest market.

Mr. Speaker, there are many issues that we could talk about, but I promised I would keep my remarks somewhat short. I have even gone beyond what I anticipated. So we will hope that the government will listen to what we are saying and pay some attention to what we are pleading for. Hoist this bill for six months, give people some input, give Nova Scotians a chance to talk to government, to talk to ministers and maybe we would all have a better Nova Scotia after that happens

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

MR. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, it is with pleasure that I take a few moments of the House. In fact, I probably will take about 59 minutes and a few seconds to bring to the member's opposite some concerns and particular matters of attention in regard to the financial measures proposal which is in front of us, Bill No. 109. It's been a busy week for me. Over the past seven days as I've been around my community, the question always comes up, what's going on in the House? What's the event that's going to be dominating the news? Particularly when you happen to get into some local schools. I had the opportunity of going into Madeline Symonds Middle School, and I know the member for Sackville-Beaver Bank will be interested in (Interruption) Madeline Symonds Middle School is, after all, one of those schools where the very first question they asked me was a matter of some consequence. I stand here today with this Canadiens hockey sweater on; who is going to win

[Page 9176]

the first round? Well, I picked the wrong team, but I want you to know that I picked the right school when it came to aware young people who wanted to know what's going on in the Legislature.

Later that afternoon I visited - I want to say I visited Sir John A. Macdonald High School, but of course I didn't. I visited the students of Sir John A. Macdonald High School who are going to C.P. Allen High School in Bedford, and they asked the same question. What's going on in the House, Mr. Estabrooks? What are the important issues that are being discussed? And I explained to both groups of students at some length that we soon would be going through, at that time, the financial measures bill. That's the engine that makes the budget go, or that's how I described it to the students. That's the engine that makes the budget go. But included in the financial measures bill I listed for them are all these other pieces of legislation - off-road vehicle legislation, Arts Council legislation, various pieces of legislation included in the financial measures bill.

At that time, Mr. Speaker, as you might be aware, my good friend for Sackville-Cobequid had asked for a ruling from you as the Speaker, and you, in your wisdom, decided that it wouldn't be appropriate to divide this bill up so that we could discuss the matters and after all, in this historic House, have the opportunity to debate these issues. Would it not be appropriate to have the Minister of Tourism and Culture stand in his place and debate the Arts Council? Instead, it's buried in the financial measures bill. It's buried in there, as are other pieces of legislation that I will bring to your attention.

During the past week I also had the opportunity to attend the annual meeting of the Haliburton Hills Homeowner's Association - 600 homes - and their question of course is, what's going on in the Legislature? Where are we with certain pieces of legislation? Because many people in the community that I represent faithfully follow the proceedings of this House. I know there are some now, and I'm sure that while I'm speaking I will be getting notes from some of them to make sure that I include various things to be brought up on behalf of the people who live in my growing constituency of Timberlea-Prospect.

One of the big barometers for me is my stop at the local coffee shop. I have three coffee shops of that Toronto Maple Leaf origin. I hope all viewers and all members of the House know that Tim Horton, proud No. 7 that he was - only of course that six months' hoist, this is an important issue, as I said to people at Tim Hortons this morning. We are trying to make sure that the government takes six months to look at this issue and at some of the things they're driving - excuse my expression - down the throats of Nova Scotians. We've heard of examples from the front bench where Nova Scotians have not been consulted, but over the next six months the opportunity will be there for consultation.

So during the next hour I'm going to bring to your attention, the members opposite - and I know they're going to pay attention. I'm going to bring these matters to their attention what is actually included in the financial measures bill, because it's an omnibus bill that

[Page 9177]

would take six months to look at carefully. Six months. I can guarantee you, when I provide my schedule of events - for example, I would like to invite the Minister of Tourism and Culture to my kitchen - I hear he's good at a kitchen party - because there's a young woman who lives in my home who goes to NSCAD, and she's got major concerns about the Arts Council. That's what would be beneficial to that minister during the next six months, to come to 4909 St. Margaret's Bay Road, even bring his fiddle, and we will have an opportunity for him to listen to this young art college student who has concerns about what's happened to the Arts Council.

[3:30 p.m.]

There's no opportunity to debate this here in the House. There's no opportunity to debate it; the minister hasn't brought the legislation in; he includes it under the Financial Measures (2002) Act, but during the next six months, on a calm night on St. Margaret's Bay, it would be a wonderful opportunity for other ministers and other members opposite to come to Timberlea-Prospect. There are some members opposite who would be popular in my constituency. They're not all Cabinet Ministers, and I know the good member for beautiful Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley could fill the St. Margaret's arena, because they would like to know, the straight shooter that that member was when he was on this side of the House, why is he over there buried in the backbenches, why are they taking these important pieces of legislation that are all included in the Financial Measures (2002) Act and slipping it past Nova Scotians?

Mr. Speaker, that's why we need six months. We need six months, and I know the people in Timberlea-Prospect would look forward to the opportunity over the next six months to have their say with members of the government opposite. I'm also going to bring to your attention some particular concerns, from residents I've been in contact with. Some of them are teenagers, some of them are young people I was fortunate enough to have in school as a schoolteacher, but I'm also going to bring to your attention the names of a number of seniors who have concerns with how business is being done in this province now.

Nova Scotians aren't fooled. The financial measures bill is an omnibus bill that you in your wisdom decided you would not allow to be broken up, and we're living with that particular rule, but we do need the opportunity over the next six months to look carefully at this bill and allow those members opposite the time to listen to Nova Scotians and their particular concerns. This is, after all, an historic House where there is an opportunity to debate, but this is a one-sided debate, and from my experience, and you know, Mr. Speaker, yourself, in some of the places where you've gone, to student Parliament - I know that you served as the Speaker in a student Parliament recently - and I know that all members are invited to their local high schools at which time they can speak and have their opportunity to see how Parliament works, but where's the debate in this Legislature? Where's the debate? It takes two to debate.

[Page 9178]

I'm not talking about the members of the Third Party. We're in the Opposition, they are the government, but there is no opportunity to exchange ideas. It would seem to me that we would have the opportunity if these ministers had the courage to bring in separate pieces of legislation. For example, the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act - should not those changes to the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act be brought in here as a separate piece of legislation so that that minister could stand in his or her place and we could debate why these fees have gone up? Why isn't that happening? Well, for the next six months, we would like to ask that question.

There's a particular Act that I think would be of some concern to you in your riding of Dartmouth North, Mr. [Deputy] Speaker. The Halifax-Dartmouth Bridge Commission is part of this omnibus bill. I'm sure there are people in your constituency, I'm sure that there are travellers throughout the HRM who would like to have the opportunity to discuss with members opposite exactly why that particular piece of legislation is included in this omnibus bill. There's the Arts Council, of course, and we will come back to that; there's the Off-highway Vehicles Act, and there's a piece of legislation that could fill the Terence Bay Fire Hall; in fact, I know that it did fill the Terence Bay Fire Hall. I hosted a meeting and we had over 200 people present to discuss that very issue.

So why doesn't that minister, that minister who's responsible for that piece of legislation, make himself available over the next six months? Over the next six months it would be a wonderful opportunity for that minister to be able to point out the advantages of bringing this legislation through. Instead, it's buried. It's buried in the Financial Measures (2002) Act, and that is not the way we should do business in this province; that's not the way we should hold debates in this historic House.

We look at another important piece of legislation, and that, of course, is the Health Services and Insurance Act. I want the Minister of Health to know that I might have to reserve the Department of Transportation and Public Works and Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations to fill the Terence Bay Fire Hall. The maximum capacity is 220 or 230, but I could take the Minister of Health to Exhibition Park on the Prospect Road that holds over 2,000 people and I would guarantee you if that minister would over the next six months make himself available on any night that I could advertise throughout the riding of Timberlea-Prospect, he would have the opportunity to learn first-hand from Nova Scotians about their concerns on an issue of such importance which, of course, is the responsibility of the Minister of Health.

Mr. Speaker, there are issues which I must bring to your attention, I'm obliged to bring them to your attention, and I would like to take a few moments at this time to do it at this stage of my comments. I would like to point out to the members opposite (Interruption)

[Page 9179]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I think it has been reported on a number of occasions - and the Speaker does not have to report it again, hopefully - that the use of cell phones in the Legislature is inappropriate. Thank you.

MR. ESTABROOKS: Now, where was I? Well, should I start again? (Interruption) No, I don't think so. I would never get it all in in my remaining time here.

MR. DAVID HENDSBEE: You're back at the fire hall.

MR. ESTABROOKS: You were listening were you? Well, I'm past the Terence Bay Fire Hall, I want the member for Preston to know now. I've gone beyond Exhibition Park where the Minister of Health could fill 2,000 seats in a moment's notice with people across this province, but particularly the people who live in my constituency would love to have the opportunity at any night between now and October 22nd. This particular hoist which was brought in by my good friend, the member for Halifax Fairview, I believe, in his wisdom, was on April 22nd. Six months later we're into the Fall. Now, that would be an opportune time to make sure that at any night over the next six months, any night over the next 160-some days we would make sure that we would have an opportunity at Exhibition Park. Can you imagine what the public relations people would say - that Cabinet Ministers opposite are making themselves available to Nova Scotians so that they can have their say.

Mr. Speaker, perhaps you and I on occasion are perfect examples of how, and I know you, you listen to the people of your constituency. I was at a public meeting Sunday night and I was introduced by the president of the Haliburton Hills Homeowners Association. He wanted a few comments and I said I'm going to make very few comments, I want to listen to you. That's what we must do more as elected officials in this province. You know we always seem to have lots to say, and I have lots to say today because I'm going to bring some concerns forward from the people of my constituency, but the opportunity is there over the next six months to make sure that we actually get to listen.

Now, Mr. Speaker, there are some members opposite who I know consider themselves good constituency people, good constituency MLAs. So I would think that they would welcome the opportunity. For example good member for Digby-Annapolis, would it not be appropriate to have the Minister of Environment and Labour to go down to Digby Neck and to listen to the concerns that are happening there from people in that constituency? Would it not be of some real value over the next six months for the good member for Colchester North, who has a reputation as a constituency person, wouldn't it be really important some night over the next six months where he could hold a meeting in his community about the dangerous bridges and have the Minister of Transportation and Public Works present?

That would after all be an opportunity for positive public relations for this government and, let's be clear, there are members opposite who know that this government needs some positive PR and over the next six months that could be achieved. That could be achieved by

[Page 9180]

a couple of the examples that I've used and some more that I'm going to bring to the members' attention here in a few moments.

Now, Mr. Speaker, of course, I hear from a lot of young Nova Scotians and I guess I will say I hear from them about their ongoing concerns about the future that they see for why they should continue to live in this province. Some of the comments that they bring forward to me, I must admit, are rather disparaging at times about us as a profession. I don't know whether we actually say we have this as a profession. I still consider myself an educator and I guess I could say I'm also now an elected politician. But you know, we have an image problem, an image problem of real concern. The image problem could be erased in a moment. It could be changed. It could be improved if we would only listen more and make ourselves more aware of what Nova Scotians are saying.

So, Mr. Speaker, over the next six months, that opportunity is there. That opportunity is there for members opposite, for myself as an Opposition member. It would take some coordination, but it would be a real consequence that Nova Scotians could say, I had an opportunity to speak to the Minister of Tourism. I had an opportunity to speak to the Minister of Education and she or he listened to me. That's a format that we do not have enough of in this province and during the next six months, it could happen. It could happen right here in Nova Scotia. It would be a wonderful opportunity for us to improve our public relations image, to go to a public meeting and say, I don't have a lot to say. I want to sit down and listen to you.

Actually, Mr. Speaker, although I know that you know I'm a man of many words on some occasions, at the Haliburton Hills Homeowners Association, I did that very thing. The response that I got from people and the questions they asked and the points of view they made, were very refreshing. In fact, one gentleman came up to me afterwards, Dale Smith, I remember, a past member of my Lions Club in St. Margarets Bay, and said, that was refreshing. You took some notes, you answered some questions, but I had an opportunity to express some of my frustrations to my MLA. Now can you imagine what wonderful response we would have if, in turn, the opportunity was there to speak to the Minister of Community Services, to speak to the Minister of Finance. I would guarantee you it's a hit parade of success. I would guarantee you that the Minister of Finance, well spoken that he is, would be a popular attraction in my constituency at any time because they have, the constituents of Timberlea-Prospect, questions to ask.

I would like to bring one to the minister's attention now. This gentleman is a friend of mine, another friend who actually admits it publicly, and I'm going to table this letter because I know I'm going to quote from it, Mr. Speaker. Over the next six months, it would be a great opportunity for the Minister of Finance to show the good graces, which he demonstrates to us so many times in this House, not to just send a standard reply to this constituent, but to go out with me and knock on the door and say, hey, Wayne, how are you? I'm - and I don't know if I'm allowed to use his name - but I'm the Minister of Finance and

[Page 9181]

they certainly will know who he is. Wayne Rogers will say, wow, look who's on my doorstep. What a wonderful opportunity for him to listen to me. Wayne Rogers has written a letter and the letter, of course, got a standard reply from the Premier's office. There are more numbers in this letter than a math teacher who hasn't assigned homework for a month and the six month explanation that could come from Mr. Roger's letter to the Premier, and the response, the Minister of Finance would have a wonderful opportunity to explain this to this particular constituent.

It's says - follow the numbers, Mr. Speaker - "The Nova Scotia government will collect $215.5 million in gasoline and diesel oil tax revenue for the current fiscal year. The Department of Transportation currently dedicates approximately $210 million . . . Of that total amount for this year, $130 million is allocated to highway operations . . . while $80 million is allocated to capital works expenditures . . ." I don't know if you followed that very carefully, but when Mr. Rogers dropped in to see me and said to me, he would like to have the Minister of Finance explain those numbers, I said we have a perfect opportunity that over the next months, wouldn't it be a wonderful opportunity if the Minister of Finance could explain to you, could explain to the residents of Timberlea-Prospect, could explain to the residents of the Lake of the Woods, exactly what those numbers mean. That's the sort of one-on-one contact that Nova Scotians would like to have the opportunity to speak to that minister about.

Now that minister in his future career has to learn that there's a time to listen. I mean, hopefully, he learned from past experiences, when he sat on this side and criticized the Minister of Finance for the Liberal Government at the time. He has explained that he does not have the arrogance, he does not have the ego, he does not have the dominance, and at times he has stood in his place and corrected the past Minister of Finance for his mistakes. But is he not going down the same slippery slope as that previous minister, where he gets removed, he doesn't listen to Nova Scotians?

[3:45 p.m.]

During the next six months, that minister would have the opportunity to turn that image around, to make sure that he would make Wayne Rogers and other people across the constituency of Timberlea-Prospect and other people of the constituencies from one part of the province to the other to say, that Minister of Finance is not such a bad guy after all. He came out and he listened. During the next six months, that would be a wonderful opportunity to listen, to listen to individual Nova Scotians and their concerns, their concerns about such matters have been brought up here on this particular matter from Mr. Rogers. Wayne, I will table that so that the Minister of Finance can have a look at it.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to, at this time, if I may, bring to your attention the names of some other constituents who have some concerns that over the next six months could be addressed by members opposite. I'm fortunate enough in my constituency to have a number

[Page 9182]

of prominent artists and members of the cultural community. I also had the privilege as a school teacher to teach some outstanding young people from John Little's family. Now John Little is a blacksmith who lives in East Dover. He's a wonderfully creative, motivated, interesting gentleman. He's a wonderful, conscientious father. His children, outstanding young people, very bright young kids. In fact, one of them now works in the distant North with a certain daughter of mine.

John Little is hopping mad. John Little, I can tell you, I heard the member for Richmond say the other night - I tried to correct him on it - he said artists aren't that passionate, they aren't that involved. Well, I invite the member for Richmond to come along with the Minister of Tourism and Culture, you come to East Dover, and you come to John Little's blacksmith shop and you will run into one passionate, upset, angry member of the arts community in this province. John Little wants to have his say.

Wouldn't it be a wonderful opportunity over the next six months if that Minister of Tourism and Culture took it upon himself to say, I heard the member for Timberlea-Prospect talk about this John Little, and I would like to meet him. I bet he has something to say. Or, the Minister of Tourism and Culture could also come to Terence Bay and meet Ariella Pahlke. Ariella Pahlke was here last week when the artists were here and the members of the cultural community were here, and they were upset. The number one complaint they had, that this minister wasn't listening. This minister wasn't listening.

If the good, young minister from Inverness wants to correct his image, wants to correct, after all, the mistaken image - is it mistaken? - that he's removed, that he's arrogant, that he isn't going to listen to Nova Scotian artists anymore, then he should take the opportunity over the next six months to drop in and have a community meeting in a place such as Terence Bay or Lower Prospect. I use that as an example, but I know there are members opposite, too, who represent members of the arts community and the cultural community. The opportunity has to be there if the minister makes a mistake, he should admit it. The Arts Council legislation that's included in this omnibus bill, it's the wrong place to put it.

If the minister believes that he should change the Arts Council in this way, then that minister should have the courage to bring the legislation in separately so we can debate it here on the floor of the House. That, after all, is the way it's going to be done, but it doesn't seem that it's going to take place that way. Because of that, and because of the ruling you made, in your wisdom, therefore we have brought in the six months' hoist, because that minister has to learn from his mistakes. Ariella Pahlke or John Little, they passionately want to have their say.

I have the privilege of representing a number of seniors. One senior in particular is, of course, I would say again a friend of mine, a gentleman I hear from fairly regularly, his name is Harry Beuree. Harry Beuree was in fact a Citizen of the Year two years ago in St. Margarets Bay. Harry has to watch his blood pressure, but I can tell you that his blood

[Page 9183]

pressure is up. When he talks about user fees and taxes and gas taxes and other things that are happening around him, when he hears about Seniors' Pharmacare, when he hears about these uncontrolled insurance rates, Harry Beuree gets angry.

I should tell you this - and it would be of some interest to you, Mr. Speaker - Harry Beuree has never been a member of a political Party until two weeks ago when he called me and said I should come over and sign him up; he wanted to join the NDP. I didn't call him and recruit him, I didn't bother him all night, but he quickly got a visit from the MLA for Timberlea-Prospect and I am proud to say that this senior has said enough's enough. I'm not putting up with it anymore. He's like that guy in New York who threw up the window, stuck his head out into the street and yelled at the people of New York, I'm mad, I'm - I will leave the adjective out - very mad and I ain't gonna take it anymore. That's the status of many seniors and Harry Beuree is one of them.

There's also another senior I'm proud to say I've known for many long years and I know the member for Preston knows who he is. His name is Buster L. Woodworth and he's from New Minas. Lion Buster Woodworth. He has written a letter to the editor under Voice of the People and I want to quote from the letter that Mr. Woodworth wrote. I hope the member for Preston, over the next six months understands, let's go see Buster Woodworth. Let the member from New Minas pay a visit to Buster Woodworth because he is upset. What does he say? I will table this if it's necessary.

"I would like everyone to know that I have been a Conservative all my life. I was raised in a Conservative family and I believed in all their policies. Times have changed.

Have you ever asked yourself what type of doctor John Hamm was? The first priority Mr. Hamm and his cabinet should have is health care. But what is he doing? Closing and removing beds from Cape Breton to Yarmouth.

There seems to be no consideration for the elderly or sick."

I know Lion Buster and I know how passionate and I know how involved he's been in community projects. His health hasn't been that great lately and he knows first-hand about some of the difficulties, but wouldn't it be a wonderful opportunity over the next six months for members of that Party to go and talk to a person who has said in his opening letter he used to be a Conservative. He used to be a Conservative, but what will happen in New Minas next time? Positive public relations by the members from the Annapolis Valley area, they should welcome the opportunity, it should be a welcome opportunity to host a community meeting. I've seen them on the news. I've seen them comment - well, some of them comment - I've seen some of the members from the Valley comment, we know how popular meetings over the next six months would be in certain locations in the Valley. That, after all, has been proven when we had some of the concerns with health care in the Valley.

[Page 9184]

I'm sure that Buster Woodworth would make his views known. It's a given - if you listen, you will learn. You don't have to be Einstein to know that but there are members opposite - maybe not the front benchers, but the other ones know, hey, we're in trouble here because we haven't been listening. We haven't been listening to Nova Scotians.

Why were they in the streets? Why do we get letters to editors such as we get from Buster Woodworth? Why am I receiving the calls that I do receive? I know that members opposite get their calls and hopefully they call them all back. I do know that they're getting calls of concern about various issues that are included in this financial measures bill because there are issues that are included here that should be able to stand on their own but over the next six months there will be a perfect opportunity to have their say with Nova Scotians. That is of some consequence.

Now of all the members opposite and of all the ministers opposite - perhaps with the exception of the member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley for obvious reasons, as a grassroots politician. The Minister of Education, I was going to say, could fill my high school, but guess what, Mr. Speaker, you can't get in it, it is closed. It sits out there in Five Island Lake, with portables in back of it, empty. It sits there empty. I want you to know that as it overlooks Five Island Lake, there remain concerns in that community. The community has reached a frustration level. They have listened, they have heard some of the answers. They have communicated with school board members; they have dealt with the School Advisory Council, they have called their regional councillors. They certainly have been in contact with me many, many times, but over the next six months who would be the person they would love to have the opportunity to speak to and to listen politely to? The good Minister of Education.

So, over the next six months, why doesn't she take that opportunity? Name the time, name the place. No, I would have to name the place because I would assume the good minister might not know a place that would hold that number of students. We could perhaps hold it at Ridgecliff Middle School - no, we won't hold it at Ridgecliff Middle School, that would put me in debt if I tried to rent that place for three hours. That is one of those P3 schools where you can't possibly get into it and, if I have a crowd of more than 500, it costs me $300, and if it is over three hours, it will cost me $1,000 to have a community meeting. Perhaps I could hold it at BLT Rec Centre, but I am sure that the Minister of Education would benefit immeasurably from having the opportunity to listen to parents. Not just the parents of high school students, not just the parents of the kids who go to Sir John A. There is my mistake again, sir, they go to C.P. Allen. They are getting home at 6:50 p.m. which, in many ways, has really changed a lot of the family living situations across the constituency of Timberlea-Prospect and across the constituency of Chester-St. Margaret's.

The perfect opportunity would be there for the Minister of Education, over the next six months, to listen to Nova Scotians who live in a growing community, with a high school that is closed, with a high school that we all knew had problems for years. Mr. Speaker, as you

[Page 9185]

are well aware, my older daughter, Trisha, in 1995 achieved political success before I did. She was elected as the President of the Student Council of that school. One of the very first things she did was write to the Minister of Education. The Minister of Education at that time, if you remember your political history, Mr. Speaker, happened to be a member of the Third Party.

Oh, Sir John A. doesn't have a lot of problems, it is just another overcrowded school in a fast growing area. This is a high school that is across the street from Junky Jim's; this is a high school that has 30 containers of PCBs up on the hill that the Minister of Public Works has told me are going to be out of the community in this calendar year. I want the minister to know we are going to hold him to that. In fact, it would be wonderful if he could come into the community of Hubley and actually have a community meeting over the next six months on that topic.

In 1995 we knew there were problems at Sir John A. MacDonald High School. My children told me that. The children in the community and the teachers who have taught in that school are well aware of the problem. Was anybody listening? The answer, unfortunately, is no. So they write letters to the editor, they send e-mails, they have petitions, they make sure that over the next six months they have their concerns listened to. Over the next six months there would be the opportunity.

What is the burning issue in my growing - I should say our growing - constituency? A high school that sits empty because respective governments did nothing. People are angry and frustrated. I want the minister to know that over the next six months, if we held a meeting at any time, the decorum, the positive comments that could be made, that would come out of that meeting, and this is a minister who has made great strides. I think she's made great strides because she's beginning to listen to me, for one, but that could be a bit self-serving.

[4:00 p.m.]

This minister has been proactive on certain issues. I have said it publicly and I have said it privately, some of the things that this minister has done are correct things. She is doing things - and let's not go back in political history, let's not talk about some of those faux pas, and I don't even want to mention a couple of them - but one of the most proactive things this minister could do is on a night over the next six months she could have an opportunity to meet and listen to the students - maybe that's the way to do it. In the afternoon, we could have a session, in the next six months, of course it would have to be before the end of June - the Minister of Education comes to C.P. Allen High School and says, I want to hear from you. What a wonderful opportunity.

[Page 9186]

We don't need any media; we don't need any TV cameras. These young people want to ask some questions. They would like to have some answers. That evening, it would be an even better opportunity, although I'm sure some of the teenagers would like to come again to the meeting, they would come and say, we would love to have the opportunity to ask some questions of the Minister of Education. That's how we as legislators are going to learn whether we have good legislation or not.

Mr. Speaker, I will assure you that of the ministers opposite who could benefit the most from that experience in the community that I represent would be the Minister of Education. I know the Minister of Education wants to do the right thing. I know she wants to be open and communicate with young people and parents. I know that over the next six months she will have the opportunity to do that. In fact, I'm sure that the good member of the school board from the community that I represent, who happens to be the chairman of the school board, Mike Flemming, at a moment's notice would make sure that he could set up a meeting with the student council co-presidents and with anyone from that community who wants to have that sort of session with the minister.

Mr. Speaker, there has been a very positive announcement that has affected my community, and it has affected the regular users of Highway No. 103. It would be, over the next six months, a very important opportunity for the Minister of Transportation and Public Works to come to Timberlea-Prospect and to meet a gentleman named Bruce Munroe. Bruce Munroe has corresponded with the minister. He sent e-mails to the member for Lunenburg West, when he was the Minister of Transportation and Public Works. He sent letters that didn't get much of a response from the Minister of Transportation at the time, who was from Shelburne. Unfortunately, of course, the member for Shelburne didn't know how to flip a coin the right way, and that minister isn't back in this House.

But Bruce Munroe has been in contact with these respective ministers over two governments. He's made his case known. He would love an opportunity over the next six months to be able to speak to that particular minister and, I'm sure, to say thank you publicly. There's an opportunity for that government and those front-benchers, again, to actually receive some positive feedback on a decision that was made for the right reasons, because of the rationale of traffic, because of the growth in the community, because of the decisions that were made by the very professional people in the Department of Transportation and Public Works, and that were made because of the influence of people such as Bruce Munroe, who made sure his views were known. There's a great opportunity for that particular minister to take an opportunity to come into Timberlea-Prospect and listen to citizens over the next six months.

Now, for the members opposite, I always know that I have to give a history lesson or two. I know the Minister of Justice, at times - actually, I think he took notes one time when I was giving him a bit of a history lesson, but I don't want to go too far back on my history lesson because over the next six months, does this government want to repeat history? Does

[Page 9187]

this government want some of the disastrous results that we saw here associated with Bill No. 68.

Now, Mr. Speaker, you remember Bill No. 68, and what was the history lesson that was learned from Bill No. 68? The lesson was you've got to listen to Nova Scotians and in this particular case you've got to listen to health workers, you've got to listen to nurses, you've got to listen to the people who actually know what the issues are on a particular issue such as Bill No. 68. Has there been any history lesson learned by this government opposite? They bring in Bill No. 109. Bill No. 109 is an omnibus bill. It includes pieces of it that really have nothing to do with the Financial Measures (2002) Act, nothing at all to do with the Financial Measures (2002) Act, and members opposite should know that.

I mean, we look at the freedom of information legislation, the freedom of information legislation and the increase in fees, when this piece of legislation, and I would assume that when the hoist motion - if it's going to happen, Mr. Speaker, it will be unfortunate - if the hoist motion doesn't work, I encourage Nova Scotians to appear in front of the Law Amendments Committee, and how ironic will be for members of the press gallery to appear in front of the Law Amendments Committee and over the next six months they would have all kinds of opportunity to express their frustration and their concern about the freedom of information increase.

Then, of course, when we take it over to the Law Amendments Committee, the Financial Measures (2002) Act, if the hoist bill doesn't work, what will happen? We'll hear from people; and the Minister of Tourism and Culture, Mr. Speaker, will hear from the Nova Scotia Arts Council people. They will be there in droves. They will be there night after night on one particular feature of the Financial Measures (2002) Act and that particular piece of legislation would benefit a great deal more if over the next six months the opportunity would be for Cabinet Ministers that I've mentioned, Cabinet Ministers who would take the opportunity to go out into my constituency and to your constituency.

Mr. Speaker, I am aware of the fact that you, after all, have one of the biggest constituencies. My geography isn't my strongest suit, but I do know that Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley is a huge area. So if we took that beautiful Bicentennial Theatre and we reserved it, let's make it a Thursday night, and if we took some Thursday night and we brought the Minister of Transportation and Public Works into your constituency - you name the night over the next six months, but I think a Thursday night would be a good night - and we could fill that hall on the condition that the MLA for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley comes in, turns on the microphone and says, the Minister of Transportation and Public Works is here and he's here to listen to you. So come to the microphone and have your say.

So we don't have a two-hour speech, we don't have the MLA hogging the microphone, not that the member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley would do that, but over the next six months it would be a wonderful opportunity. I am sure that the MLA for that community

[Page 9188]

would look forward to the challenge of saying, now, there is a positive way to deal with issues across this province. It's a positive issue. I will assure you, Mr. Speaker, this is after all the way, as Legislatures . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I'm not sure whether that fashion show is a prop or not, but I guess seeing as how much more learned Speakers than I permitted the honourable member to wear that Montreal Canadien's sweater, of course, we would wish the member for Timberlea-Prospect to continue in his present form, shall we say. Yes, I see the honourable member for Dartmouth North concurring.

MR. ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, let the record show that I am a man of my word, a man of my word, and when the time comes, . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. There seems to be a comment; if not, a point of order.

The honourable Minister of Health.

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, you know, I agree that the Canadiens may be the most appropriate jersey to wear, there's no question about that, and I know that in his heart the member for Timberlea-Prospect is really a true Canadien's fan and that Boston Bruin necktie means absolutely nothing. I know I heard you speak last Saturday, Mr. Speaker, of the Boston Bruins and I just would like to say it might be appropriate for you to have one of those Canadiens' jerseys on today.

MR. SPEAKER: That definitely is not a point of order. (Interruption) It's out of order, yes. Well, the member for Preston, if he would like to make that comment for public record, I would certainly give him the floor. I think other members would agree. I'm sorry to cut in on your time. Honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect, carry on, sir.

MR. ESTABROOKS: I know I'm going to get some extra time, am I? Because I have many more comments to bring forward on this important piece of legislation. I want you to know that the record should show that as a man of my word, and I must admit it was a friendly wager. A particular young woman who is a student and an athlete of mine, who I was fortunate enough to coach and teach, when she provided me with the challenge and sent me the particular fax and then an e-mail, I had to respond accordingly. So I stand in my place today with this splendid Canadiens hockey jersey on and, of course, the Canadiens tie. It's with some concern that - yes, it's the Canadiens tie too - I hear from Laura Boutilier on a lot of issues.

Laura Boutilier, the young woman I lost this friendly wager to, is an education student and she wants to be a teacher. I know there are some retired teachers opposite. I hear from her quite regularly. She and her dad and I correspond on various issues. She follows the business of this House quite carefully. I do know that one of the issues that bothers her, of

[Page 9189]

course, is what kind of future does she have as an educator in this province? What are the job possibilities? What are some of the concerns that she would have that could be brought forward at a public meeting? She lives in Brookside. It would be a great opportunity if we look at what could happen if the Minister of Education - what a wonderful learning experience for this young woman, who's a current student at Mount Saint Vincent University, if she had the opportunity to speak to the Minister of Education and express some of her concerns.

Laura Boutilier, of course, went to a school where there were a lot of young people who were mainstreamed, as we call the term, and working with some of those young people as a peer educator, Laura Boutilier decided so wisely that she was going to become a teacher. That would be the opportunity over the next six months, for the Laura Boutiliers of Timberlea-Prospect, for the young people out there to have their faith in politics revived. Because for once, they're going to listen to us. They're going to listen to us about the Financial Measures (2002) Act. They're going to listen to us because there are concerns we have about such things as ambulance fees and other, additional fees. We're going to be listened to for a change.

Mr. Speaker, as you are well aware, we hear from many people in our business, if we can call it a business. We hear from many people who have a rather cynical view of politicians. They're self-serving; they only take care of themselves; and they don't listen to Nova Scotians. Well, over the next six months, we could, the members opposite leading the way, reverse that trend. They could reverse that trend, restore the faith of young people across this province and say, you know, this Financial Measures (2002) Act includes pieces of legislation that we should stand in this House and debate, that we should listen to Nova Scotians about.

For example - and I will use it as an example, Mr. Speaker - the off-road vehicles legislation that's included in the Financial Measures (2002) Act, why is that in there? That particular minister should have the courage, the intestinal fortitude, and the parliamentary skills to bring that legislation to the floor of this House and have it debated, because that's the opportunity for debate that we're missing in this House. This hoist legislation, it's the members of the Opposition standing. I heard the member for Colchester North speak the other night. He got up and he was upset about the delay, this hoist motion, because of workers' compensation and a number of widows who were delayed because of us having this hoist. But what a wonderful opportunity for the Minister of Environment and Labour to meet with injured workers across this province and to listen to them and their concerns. Name the time, name the place and I guarantee you that there would be injured workers from across this province who would like to have the opportunity to have that minister listen to them, just to listen to them, to politely listen to their concerns.

[Page 9190]

Mr. Speaker, as I've been speaking here, I've been receiving some notes, some of them pertaining to this hockey sweater. I don't want to be distracted by that. I don't want to be distracted by that because I am fulfilling that commitment, but it is an indicator that people in other parts of the province are listening to our comments today and they are watching and saying, what's going on here? What is this particular piece of legislation?

[4:15 p.m.]

See, this six months' hoist would allow Nova Scotians the opportunity over the next number of months, up until October 22nd - April 22nd to October 22nd - to have their say on this Financial Measures (2002) Act, because the Financial Measures (2002) Act includes so many other things beyond just the nuts and bolts of the budget. It includes pieces of legislation that are somewhat controversial, and you, Mr. Speaker, are aware of those controversial pieces of legislation. I have to ask, why is it necessary to take such a piece of legislation as the Arts Council and change it and move it and put it under the Financial Measures (2002) Act?

It would be a wonderful opportunity over the next six months if that Minister of Tourism and Culture would take up the challenge to meet with Jana Estabrooks, art college student, daughter; he would have the opportunity to meet with John Little in East Dover, and Ariella Pahlke in Terence Bay. But, more importantly, we can go right down this front bench, from the Minister of Community Services to the Minister of Transportation and of course to the Minister of Finance. I have said this before in my comments, Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Finance would benefit immeasurably from having an opportunity, over the next six months, to listen to Nova Scotians.

Mr. Speaker, there are also members opposite who would be extremely popular in my constituency; there are members opposite who have reputations, who, over the next six months - Cabinet Ministers couldn't be everywhere over the next six months. I would not want them all in Timberlea-Prospect. I do know that the member for Kings North, that journalist for The Daily News, some of the strong opinions he holds - what a wonderful opportunity for him to go and meet with the students in any one of the schools that I have. He has expressed some of these strong feelings. Over the next six months, no one in those benches over there should be more concerned about his image . This is what he tells us in his weekly columns. Over the next six months, to have the opportunity to listen to Nova Scotians, to come into various other constituencies and have the opportunity to listen to young people, this would be a proactive move over the next six months to improve the image of this government.

Mr. Speaker, there is a member opposite, and I have mentioned him before. I have always invited him to my constituency because they would like to hear from him. When he sat on this side, he never kept quiet; he spoke up constantly. He had his say. He made sure -

[Page 9191]

one day he said so passionately that there has not been a teaspoon - or was it a tablespoon - of pavement anywhere in my riding.

AN HON. MEMBER: No, it was hot asphalt.

MR. ESTABROOKS: Hot asphalt, thank you. The Minister of Health knows more about hot asphalt than he knows about hospitals, but maybe that was a bit of a dirty shot.

You know, that member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley, I want that member to learn. I want that member to use the example he used when he sat in Opposition, when he passionately spoke up and listened to his constituents.

So let's follow the example of that member, so that members opposite - backbenchers, the Cabinet Ministers - over the next six months, would have the opportunity. I will make that member a deal, although it is not a wager because I am not too good at wagers these days. That member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley can have a community meeting in Timberlea-Prospect, and I will have a community meeting in Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley. The deal would be that we turn the microphone on and say, we are here to listen to you. I know that if I could have made it to that meeting down in Eastern Shore, when Dale Cooper invited me to go down there, Dale Cooper wanted one thing; he wanted politicians to listen to him. To the good member for Eastern Shore who did organize that meeting, that good member set an example for the people along that shore on a concern they had. He held a meeting and he listened. After all, that is something that all members of this House, but members on that side in particular, could learn from. Over the next six months, what a wonderful opportunity. That good member for Eastern Shore, I will hold a community meeting for you at the Head of Jeddore, you hold a meeting for me in Lower Prospect and we will learn what's wrong with this Financial Measures (2002) Act. We will learn about some of the concerns and frustrations of Nova Scotia. That would be the fair way to do it, and over the next six months, we would have an opportunity to listen.

I want the member for Eastern Shore to know that you're one of those members, you're one of those members, and I'm going to wait for the member for Cape Breton South to do his - he promised us in this House that he was going to do - procrastination, projections, whatever he was calling them that night. He was going through the members opposite, of who was coming back. If the member for Eastern Shore wants to be back in this historic House, he should be saying to members opposite, over the next six months, we should get out there and we should listen to Nova Scotians. We should get out there and have our Cabinet Ministers sit in various community halls and make sure that your residents have the opportunity to make sure that they are being listened to.

That's becoming your reputation, the reputation of this government is, they don't listen. They're removed, they're arrogant, they have this attitude, we know better, Nova Scotians, you just listen to us. We know better, you should trust us. I remember that summer

[Page 9192]

campaign. Do members remember that summer campaign? Oh my goodness, the promises that kept flowing. Do you remember, through all that summer campaign, some of the things that we were promised? We were promised that there was going to be an open, accountable government that was going to listen to Nova Scotians.

Well, here's an opportunity. Here's an opportunity over the next six months on this piece of legislation to listen to Nova Scotians, to listen to us, to make sure that not just in your particular ridings but in the riding that I happen to represent where you're going to listen to Nova Scotians about their concerns. They have them. You see them here in the streets. They come to this House. Is it necessary for them to always come to our House here, or should we not show the example and go to them? Go to them and listen, over the next six months, about their concerns, because this particular piece of legislation, the omnibus bill that it is, that omnibus bill has to be broken up.

Mr. Speaker, let's be clear on something, if the hoist amendment doesn't work, and we go into the Law Amendments Committee, the Minister of Justice had better be prepared for witness after witness after witness. Witness after witness after witness on one particular part or another particular part of this offensive piece of legislation. That's how we should be presenting legislation in this province. This is, after all, a House where debate is supposed to take place. It's disappointing to me, and I know that when we have visitors here, what they say all the time is, the Opposition is always on their feet debating, making their views known, speaking on behalf of constituents. The members opposite, on the government side, get up on occasion, read from a prepared speech, and really just have a few comments and then sit down.

There are some members opposite, on occasion, who will have an opportunity to speak, but those members are not Cabinet Ministers. Those Cabinet Ministers, if they have a piece of legislation which they want to bring forward, the Off-highway Vehicles Act, anything with regard to increases in ambulance fees, anything which deals with the FOIPOP legislation or the Arts Council, shouldn't they have the parliamentary skills and the opportunity to be able to bring this legislation in so we can debate it and we can have our say as members of the Opposition, as members of the government. That's, after all, how parliamentary democracy is supposed to work.

There's give and take here; give and take between a government that has a responsibility to bring forward ideas in a public forum, and not to include pieces of legislation in this offensive legislation that should be hoisted because there are parts of that legislation that should stand on their own, that Nova Scotians want to have their say about, Nova Scotians who have concerns with ministers opposite who should have learned from Bill No. 68 and did not, who should have learned from the history of their three or three and a half years of government and have not. They must begin to listen, because if they don't listen, when the time comes and when the vote is cast, let's be clear, that will be the lesson that they will learn and they will not forget.

[Page 9193]

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. My point is one that I think all members should, perhaps, take notice on. I've noticed over the last number of weeks some members of the House have taken liberty to make reference to members of the general public, which is fine if they have the approbation of people from across Nova Scotia. I know I've done it myself on occasion. What I find becoming a little bit of a disturbing trend is the fact that references are made to their personal medical records and medical conditions. I noticed in the dissertation of the last member, on two separate occasions with two different Nova Scotians, reference was made to the medical health of two of these Nova Scotians.

Now I recall, a previous Speaker, the honourable Art Donahoe, when he was Speaker of the House, had a very strict rule. We were not allowed to discuss the personal medical files of any Nova Scotian. In fact, we were even prohibited from naming names without the express consent. Given the fact that that has been done, the written consent, I believe, the Minister of Finance is acknowledging, and that's my recollection. There was a very strict rule on that for obvious reasons. I notice that that has deteriorated somewhat. Particularly, I was, quite frankly, a little disappointed. It was an excellent dissertation, but the fact that we're starting to allow that action to permeate on the floor of the Legislature, I find is very disturbing. Because, once it's there and it's allowed, then it's open for discussion by all members and for cross-examination for various reasons, whether it's an issue through the Department of Health, the Department of Finance or what have you.

I would ask, Mr. [Deputy] Speaker, if you would take that on notice and perhaps yourself or Mr. Speaker himself would, during the regular course of the proceedings, make a ruling on that. Because I find it very unsettling and I'm only speaking from one person's experience, but it's something that we must be mindful of. Thank you.

MR. [DEPUTY] SPEAKER: I do have to apologize. I didn't preside over the honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect's entire speech, but I would like to, if it's appropriate and agreed by the House, refer this matter to the Speaker. I will take it under advisement. It does seem, at least based on the allegation made by the honourable member for Cape Breton West, to be inappropriate and probably unparliamentary to refer to individuals, private citizens, especially their medical information. However, we will take that under advisement and we appreciate the point of order at this particular time. Are there further interventions?

The honourable member for Cape Breton Nova.

MR. PAUL MACEWAN: Mr. Speaker, I rise with a certain sense of trepidation to address this manifesto, Bill No. 109, because it's such a complete and total encapsulation of the Tory vision for Nova Scotia. Rarely, have I had the opportunity in my career to rise and address something that contains such meat in terms of summing up what it is to be a Progressive Conservative. Bill No. 109 is called An Act Respecting Certain Financial Measures. Well that's a rather understated title. It doesn't really give the whole picture of

[Page 9194]

what the bill encompasses at all, but if you read the bill through, you will see that it's an omnibus bill. It takes various different measures ranging from the Children and Family Services Act to the Workers' Compensation Act to the Arts Council Act to the Financial Measures (2002) Act, the Income Tax Act and lord knows what else, the Education Act, the Companies Act, et cetera, et cetera, the Civil Service Act.

It takes little bits and pieces of all these different Acts and says, we're going to repeal this. We're going to repeal that. We're going to substitute this and we're going to rewrite the whole formula. So when you get a bill to speak on that encompasses so much, surely a bill of that type ought not to proceed with undue haste. Now, honourable members of the House will be aware of my lectures from time to time on parliamentary procedure in the supreme Soviet where they gathered for two or three days and passed the national budget, amendments to the criminal law, the civil law and all other laws - Lord knows they had plenty of them - did it all without any debate. All the deputies voting the same way, they had voting cards and they were to hold them up in unison to vote da to put the bill through. Nobody voted nyet - no nyets at all, all das. Those who don't understand that can get themselves a copy of Romanovs Pocket Russian English Dictionary and look those words up and be educated because this bill too is about the Education Act so we have to be educated while we're considering it.

[4:30 p.m.]

Now, getting back to the bill, what does the bill do? Why should we delay it for six months? It does all kinds of strange and odd things. I see, for example on Page 11, the formula (A) x (B) - (C). Now, I haven't lectured the House for a long time on (A) x (B) - (C). I don't know if I can today, but it reminds me of the Social Credit (a) + (b) theorem which was the basis of their doctrine. Nobody understood it, except Bible Bill Aberhart, but he proclaimed it to other people who affected to understand it. What the drift of the (a) + (b) theorem was, there wasn't enough purchasing power in society to buy the goods that were produced and so it was the duty of the government to give money to the people so they could buy the goods. This money would take the form of - I guess you could call it free money. Money that would be issued from the printing press and every citizen of Alberta was going to get $25 a month. In the 1930s that was a very large sum of money, it would be as if the government was to give everyone today $400 or $500 a month to go and spend. So that formula had attraction to those who were desperate and had no money, had nothing to eat. This new party came along, the Social Credit Party - what Social Credit stood for was the government would socially issue credit to the people so that they could buy and have money and purchasing power once again.

Is this bill introducing the (a) + (b) theorem here in Nova Scotia? Mr. Speaker, I don't know because the bill doesn't explain what it means. It just cites the formula, (A) x (B) - (C), the amount shall be described by the formula (A) x (B) - (C), and then it goes on with all kinds of gobbledegook to explain what that supposedly means to the taxpayers' expense, I

[Page 9195]

suppose, perhaps maybe to the revenue collectors sense of common sense. If we pass this as law without understanding it first, Lord knows what we might be passing. It might even be good, but I don't trust this crowd across the way and I'm much more inclined in my heart to believe that it might be bad. So I rest my case.

Let's look at some of the other provisions of this Act. The Nova Scotia Arts Council. Now this is a subject that I didn't have any proclivity to want to raise as a public issue when the session of the House began, when it first began a year or two ago. I had no reason to want to get into the Arts Council, I'm not much of an artist. My paintings haven't commanded high prices. The only group I know of to put my sketches on exhibit and sell them for making of a profit is the NDP who auction from time to time Paul MacEwan's drawings to raise funds for their Party. Yes, I know all about that. But, other than them, I don't have much involvement with the Arts Council.

AN HON. MEMBER: Desperate measures.

MR. MACEWAN: Well, they do desperate things over there when they're into culture too. Now, this bill, Pages 16 and 17 of this bill, if passed, are going to abolish the Arts Council and going to substitute in its place whatever it is that the Progressive Conservatives have come up with as its replacement.

Now, all I can tell you is that the backlash, or the reaction to that proposal from those who are involved in that field, has been negative and they've come to me. I wouldn't say they've besieged me exactly, but I've gotten communications from them and e-mails, letters, phone calls and so forth, saying don't let that bill go through the House because it's bad. It's not going to help the arts. It's not going to help those who are involved in painting and in sketching and in producing cartoons. It's going to be negative to their best interests and I have to accept that advice because it comes from people who I think are sincere and are not particularly political motivated. I haven't seen any screaming parade of painters running down the main street advocating against this bill. I haven't had any of those types of people come to my house.

AN HON. MEMBER: I will bring my daughter over tonight, Paul.

MR. MACEWAN: You don't need to do that because I'm speaking right now and I will be all done by tonight. (Interruptions) If she is a student at the Art College, then she will be supporting me when I criticize this bill and say it ought to be held up for six months.

AN HON. MEMBER: Hear! Hear! (Applause)

MR. MACEWAN: Hear, hear, and applause from the right, yes, and the left, too, all right.

[Page 9196]

Now, I could go on about that one for probably an hour or two, but the next thing that I see right after that is the Nova Scotia Power Privatization Act and that makes me think of Donnie Cameron who was the man who privatized Nova Scotia Power and turned it over to Emera, it's now under the control of Emera. That's an acronym and I'm not quite sure what it stands for, but it's something like energetic, menacing, et cetera, for the five letters and it gives you a word, but Donnie Cameron had the same problem that this government has of balancing the budget. His way of doing it was to sell off Nova Scotia Power in 1992 and then to call the election in 1993 and he thought because of those nice new redistributed electoral boundaries that were drawn just before that time that he was going to go back into power, but it didn't happen, but the Nova Scotia Power Corporation, having once been privatized and sold by the government that took the place of the Cameron Government, didn't have the money to buy it back. It was a big chunk of cash and so it has stayed under private ownership ever since. (Interruptions)

Hear, hear, they say, hear, hear, because under this new private ownership the Nova Scotia Power Corporation has gone further afield and bought a hydro company in Bangor, Maine, the Bangor Hydro Company, and those customers of Nova Scotia Power are going to get a 10 per cent decrease in power rates because we are going to be paying 10 per cent more here. So we pay more to finance lower power rates for the people in Maine. That's what the Tories say hear, hear, to. I understand why they say hear, hear, but it's not my idea of what they should be saying hear, hear, to at all because it constitutes a rank injustice and certainly it's not the kind of thing that I don't think Nova Scotia Power consumers deserve. (Interruption)

Now, do you want me to get into the Nova Scotia Power Corporation? We have a socialist caucus here to my right that is going on about something else, but whatever you say, Mr. Speaker, I will adhere to.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The Speaker hasn't said anything. The honourable member for Cape Breton Nova has the floor and I would ask him to continue.

MR. MACEWAN: I shall do my best, sir. There are also provisions in here regarding the Provincial Finance Act, the Public Service Superannuation Act and the Workers' Compensation Act. I think I will speak awhile about the Workers' Compensation Act, Mr. Speaker, because this government appointed a committee, a Workers' Compensation Review Committee, and they recently came in with this great big report here. How long is that? Oh, I can't see the numbers, my eyes are going on me - 386 pages, almost 400 pages. It's the size of an old-fashioned Eaton's catalogue, 400 pages of recommendations of what should be done with workers' compensation. This comes from a committee that was appointed by this government. That's where it came from. It's not a submission of some private organization or of the Federation of Labour or injured workers organizations, it is the submission of a committee, the Workers' Compensation Review Committee, appointed by this government.

[Page 9197]

They have all kinds of recommendations in here. It would probably take two years, not six months like this amendment proposes, but probably two years to go through them all in the detail that you would need to properly grasp and understand them. What did this government come in with as a result of the 400-page workers' compensation report that their own committee produced? They came in with three clauses in this bill, three clauses, Clauses 57, 58 and 59, which in total take up 15 lines of type.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member certainly knows and is very much aware that in Committee of the Whole House there will be an opportunity to go through the bill clause by clause, but right now we are debating the six months' hoist.

MR. MACEWAN: Well, the six months' hoist, I'm supporting, but it's probably not long enough to really grasp the full totality of the bill. When you think of a small provision of only 15 lines taken from 400 pages of recommendations, it makes me think that they have missed the main message. Others seem to agree. They even have a section in here called "General" Clause 60. That clause deals with anything that the previous 59 clauses didn't deal with, in general.

Mr. Speaker, what I'm trying to say here in general terms is that this bill leaves a great deal to be desired. It represents, I know, the culmination of the government's program of action, but at the same time it doesn't do a very good job. They leave out everything but 15 lines of this report on workers' compensation. Why did they appoint that committee? Why did they let that committee spend all that money and time and effort to come in with a report if that was all they were going to give it by way of recommendation or by way of recognition? I suppose the answer to that, the stock answer might be, well, this bill was drafted before we got a copy of the Workers' Compensation Review Committee Report, so we didn't know what would be in it, so we can't be held responsible for what we didn't include in our bill.

Mr. Speaker, legislation is an ongoing process. It isn't carved out in time, in various - what's the word that they use, like the 10 commandments were carved in stone. The legislation we have here is not carved in stone, it's only printed on paper. It can be changed, and that's what this amendment is about. This amendment would give six months for a proper consideration of the contents of the bill. During that time, yes, they could amend the bill and they could change those 15 lines on workers' compensation to the amendment or enactment of all of the contents of that report.

Think of all the great things they could do with the time, Mr. Speaker, if they would only take advantage of the opportunity that we are giving them, rather than rushing away from it and saying, no, no, what we thought up this one occasion on Bill No. 109, that's it, the bill cannot be amended, will not be redrafted, will not be reworded in any way. What we gave you, that's it. Take it or leave it. Well, on that basis, we will have to leave rather than take.

[Page 9198]

Mr. Speaker, I could speak at length. There are sections in here about the Insurance Act, the Motor Vehicle Act. Just on the Insurance Act alone, I think the honourable member for Cape Breton The Lakes has done a bang-up job on that issue. What he proposed was that a select committee of the Legislature be established that would hear submissions from the public, and come in with its own terms of reference just like this committee did here on workers' compensation. We do need some rethinking of this issue. The rates that are being charged by the insurance companies are going up, up and up. It's going to get to the point, if it hasn't already, where the senior citizen and the retired person will not be able to afford to drive a car, even those who have had no accidents at all, because the insurance companies are extracting such a gouging premium for their services that ordinary people of ordinary means won't be able to afford it any longer. That's what we're heading to, this little flaccid response to the Insurance Act. I won't count how many lines there are but if there were 15 lines on the Workers' Compensation Act, I would say there were about 25 lines here on the Insurance Act. I didn't count them, so I can't be held responsible for that number.

[4:45 p.m.]

It's not much of a response to the tremendous crisis that exists in Nova Scotia today on insurance. I could go into that one at somewhat greater length, but I will just move through this rather quickly. The Municipal Government Act, Clause 34, one clause deals with the municipal government of this province and amends it by the passage of five lines that deal with the Motor Vehicle Act. That's all they have to offer the municipalities. That's their total program. Take it or leave it. Then there's another clause about the Municipal Grants Act. It goes on a little bit longer, but it doesn't say a great deal.

In all, Mr. Speaker, it appears to me that the bill is much ado about nothing. It doesn't really amend the Workers' Compensation Act. The only thing it really does that I can see is it abolishes the Arts Council. Now why they chose to pick on that particular agency, I don't know. I don't know if it was as a result of a late night Tory caucus and they had too much to eat or what, but something happened. Like St. Paul when he was Saul on the way to Damascus. He saw the light and suddenly he was blind. These people, they saw the light, and suddenly they came up with this bill. I don't think that it meets the needs of Nova Scotia. It is not an effective program to deal with the problems in education or in the arts or in workers' compensation or in health services or in any of the other activities the government is involved in.

It's a very poor response. It wouldn't merit a mark of D on a report card. It would probably merit a mark of F with a big red circle around it. Such being the case, we can't support it. Now I don't know if they want me to go on for a whole hour to say those things over and over again. It might be better if, at this point, I would perhaps sort of taper to a conclusion and say that I have had my piece, at least at this stage of the proceeding of the bill. But if they want to get it through, they are going to have to go through clause by clause in Committee of the Whole House on Bills, as you've pointed out, and at that time, yes, we

[Page 9199]

can examine it clause by clause and section by section and line by line and word by word. If need be, we will.

I think that I've generally given the overview from this perspective that I represent at this time. My throat is not as strong today as it was on a former occasion when my vocal cords were all young and fresh. But there's plenty of ample air power left to deliver more, as the occasion may arise. So I want to tell you, Mr. Speaker, that while I've perhaps said all that I will for this time, there may be many more times to come.

AN HON. MEMBER: What about seniors and social assistance?

MR. MACEWAN: He wants me to talk about social assistance.

AN HON. MEMBER: And seniors.

MR. MACEWAN: Well there's no better person, in my view, to talk about social assistance and seniors than the honourable member who's exercising his vocal cords over here. So possibly, he might be next to take the floor. I don't know. I don't have a list of speakers, but we have plenty who are ready to go, not just once, but over and over again, if necessary, to express their displeasure with the performance of this government and with this legislative package. So having said, that, is someone getting up next? The honourable member for Cape Breton Centre? All right. I rest my case.

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

MR. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, I, too, am standing today in support of this six months' hoist motion. There are many, many reasons why this Financial Measures (2002) Act should be hoisted for at least six months and possibly even longer. But, for the time being, we will be happy if we could talk about the six months because this bill has been referred to by a lot of people as an omnibus bill, as a bill that clearly lays out the framework for financial projections and the financial manner in which this government will be behaving in the next 12 months.

You know, Mr. Speaker, 12 months is a long time in the life of a lot of Nova Scotians who, I believe, will be adversely affected by this bill going forward unamended. By way of headlining some stuff, there are health care issues, there are education issues, the Arts Council, labour, economic development, compensation, insurance rates, Pharmacare, Nova Scotia Power. Those are just a few of the many areas I would like to speak about today.

One area I would like to start with is in one of the health care fields, and that is around the operation of emergency rooms in and around Cape Breton and how that can be affected within the next six months, Mr. Speaker. As you may or may not be aware, recently, in the last three months or so, there was a report released for the DHA in Cape Breton. It was called

[Page 9200]

the Murray report, and it revolved around the use of emergency rooms in their facilities in industrial Cape Breton. The facilities we talk about are: the Cape Breton Regional Hospital in Sydney; the Glace Bay Emergency, which is in Glace Bay; the Northside General, which is obviously in North Sydney, and the New Waterford Consolidated, which is obviously in New Waterford.

Now, Mr. Speaker, that report by and large looked and accepted the status quo in most locations, with the exception of one location, the New Waterford Consolidated Hospital. Now the report stated that the New Waterford Consolidated Hospital should go from a 24 hour a day, seven days a week operation down to 16 hours a day, which would effectively mean overnight closures. Now as I noted at a public meeting around this report, when the District Health Authority brought it around, especially to the Town of New Waterford, I said our town doesn't want to be known as a municipality where your Needs Store is open 24 hours a day but your medical services are open only 16 hours. It makes absolutely no sense.

Mr. Speaker, in line with the hoist, it would certainly make a lot of sense to say look, we need time to see the financial impact of what we are going to do in that DHA as it relates to emergency rooms and their operations. The operations, especially in the New Waterford Consolidated Hospital should be open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Mr. Speaker, one of the real frustrating aspects that came out of the Murray report is we, in New Waterford, are the only hospital of those three facilities, outside of Sydney, that have not experienced closures because of doctor shortages. Now what the Murray report did was say look, we are going to turn New Waterford into an urgent care, which basically would have a couple of effects, not the least of which is that no emergencies would stop there.

Now I realize that in a public meeting the CEO of the District Health Authority said oh no, that is not the case, that will not happen. Mr. Speaker, it is a real likelihood that it will. That is what is obvious here, that doctors, obviously their skills will not be used and they will not want to participate in an emergency room where there is just urgent care and no emergency care.

What else will happen there, Mr. Speaker? Well, because of a recent agreement signed between the Department of Health and the Medical Society of Nova Scotia, they have come up with a new fee structure around the emergency rooms. Now there is a three-level emergency room pay and actually more, there's tertiary care, there's regional and there's care with hospitals with CCUs, and then there are community hospitals.

Now, Mr. Speaker, what would happen if that was to go through - and it has gone through - the New Waterford Hospital, which is categorized as a community hospital, would pay its emergency physicians a considerably less hourly rate than they're being paid now. So we would see that drop off to roughly 50 per cent of the high end. So the reality is that it would make it harder and harder to attract a doctor willing to do emergency room hours in

[Page 9201]

that hospital. Another problem we would have around how this is structured is that one of the offers apparently put towards these physicians is a fee for service. Now, as we all know, in emergency rooms the fee for service in a hospital such as a community hospital just doesn't work. A fee for service is exactly what it says, that you get paid by the amount of visits. Now, overnight, granted, the volume of business is low, the volume of patients you would see is low and you would get roughly $17 or $18 per visit, I think, or maybe even $30, but I mean it doesn't add much, if you're up all night and you see none or one or two patients. So that doesn't work in this case.

Now, Mr. Speaker, you know, besides all this, there is a side deal that says that the DHAs, in agreement with the Department of Health, will not be funded for any deals they make over and above what's contemplated in the agreement with the Medical Society of Nova Scotia. So, in effect, if I'm allowed to go back a bit in time and say, right now, that the DHA has an agreement with emergency room doctors to top up an hourly rate to provide them with adequate payment for work in emergency rooms. They would supply physicians for 24 hours, seven days a week, in all those facilities, which was an agreement that most physicians agreed to, but no, again, because of something, a deal being struck with this government through financial measures and through their budget, what they're putting as a caveat, if you will, with the district health authorities is preventing them doing that. They say, sure, you can do it, but you're going to have to find the money elsewhere. Well, where do we find the money elsewhere?

Is the Town of New Waterford and the residents of New Waterford, Lingan, Scotchtown, River Ryan, New Victoria and Victoria Mines, to do bake sales now, Mr. Speaker, to pay for our overnight emergency room service? I think that's completely foolish. It's not what our medical system is meant to be. Many times we talk about restructuring, Mr. Speaker, of our health care system, but you know this is not in any way, shape or form to be considered dialogue with the people of that area. Just last week there was a move by one of the local municipal councillors to bring myself and other elected people, along with the community, to meet with the DHA board of directors and I guess the best description would be that they're stalling on it, that they're really not trying to come to the table in a meaningful way because I go back to it. I mentioned earlier that they told the people of New Waterford in a public meeting, yes, that we've heard what you say and before we implement anything, we're coming back for another public meeting.

Well, Mr. Speaker, these residents are ready for the next public meeting, but what's happening is it seems that we're hitting a wall in some respects with the board of directors from the DHA. They're saying, no, if you want to see us, here's the protocol. That's fine to say there's a protocol to meet with the board, but I think what the board is losing sight of is their public statement that they would come out and have another public meeting. Maybe we'll need a six months time period here for them to do that. This is coming all too fast. We're going to have a decision sometime in June of what this district health authority is going to do around its emergency room operations.

[Page 9202]

[5:00 p.m.]

The impact - one could say, why worry? There's still three more emergency operations that are going 24 hours a day, seven days a week. I would contend that if you saw cuts in New Waterford that's not going to be the end. There are going to be cuts and closures in Glace Bay, there are going to be cuts and closures on the Northside and continuing. Whether it's a paranoia or whether it's reality, it's a centralization of services to one facility. Maybe a six months' hoist would allow us to see the fullness of what that report is going to do. It would allow us to see if there really is indeed proper funding to go forward.

One has to worry, I mentioned outside of New Waterford, the Northside and the Glace Bay situations, is that really money and the amount being paid in those two locations don't seem to be the biggest qualifier of why they have to close - it's just a matter of physicians saying, look, there's a shortage of us here and my patient load in my office is just so great that I can't find the time to pull an eight hour emergency operation overnight. So what happens is that they say, that's it. I'm not doing it anymore and we're through. So I would put that out as a bellwether if you will, Mr. Speaker, to other members of this House who may think that the only hospital emergency that's in jeopardy is in New Waterford Consolidated. I would contend that both the Northside and Glace Bay are in serious jeopardy also. We may see that in the fullness of time or in at least six months.

We're talking about a hospital - will I get back to New Waterford Consolidated Hospital - that is 40 years old, is a hospital that was built in 1963, I know the late Jimmy P. MacNeil was mayor then and I believe he was chair of the board of directors at the time. There was the late Danny Nathanson and Dr. Danny Nathanson went on to be the mayor of New Waterford for some time and certainly a leading citizen. On the medical staff at that time also was Dr. Joe Roach. Joe Roach is over his 80th year and he's got one of the largest patient files of anybody in this province. He's there every morning, bright and early, at 7:00 or 7:30 a.m. He has patients that come from as far away as Baddeck to see Dr. Joe Roach. Here's a man well over his 80th birthday who pulls yeoman service at that emergency room. Is his input sought out by this government to talk about the effects of closure of that emergency by a third of its hours? No. it's brushed aside, it's left to the devices of a "health care specialist" from Barrie, Ontario, to do this.

I would hope at some point during this debate that I get the attention of the Minister of Health. I really want to say that until this government in a meaningful way, does something to attract doctors to those areas, we're going to have - we have a senior doctor, Joe Roach, who may very well retire soon. Where's his patient load going to go? We don't know, but there is nowhere in this financial plan or the plan of the Department of Health, over the next six months, to explain to us what we're doing for doctor recruitment in and around Cape Breton.

[Page 9203]

Mr. Speaker, I believe a hoist would be in order just to allow the government the time to roll out its plans and to tell us, when a fine physician and citizen such as Dr. Joe Roach, if he decides to step aside, who is going to replace him and that the Town of New Waterford would be on a priority list for new physicians. As we know, Dr. Roach is clearly one of our legendary-style doctors; when he leaves the field, he takes a lot of knowledge with him. As opposed to waiting for that last day, we should be trying to tap into him. He's being ignored by this department, extremely ignored. I would hope that the Minister of Health is hearing me.

Mr. Speaker, we have grave concerns around that. That's one of the things that I wanted to get on the record about today, the New Waterford Consolidated Hospital and how this budget does nothing whatsoever to help its emergency room and to help it attract doctors to the Town of New Waterford. In an area where we're predominantly seniors, will probably see growth in the Grey Party, and that this minister should be taking grave concerns and looking at, we have to help those people with new physicians.

But no, Mr. Speaker, there's nothing in the budget, nothing in the Financial Measures (2002) Act, that would give those citizens any kind of reassurance that the Department of Health is looking after their needs. We need - I think I feel an intervention coming on.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. I thought he was talking on the hoist motion, but I don't think he's been on that for about 15 minutes. I was just wondering . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. That's not a point of order. The member for Cape Breton Centre has referred to the hoist motion in his remarks so far, but perhaps it may be done more frequently in the future. He has the floor.

MR. CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, with the assistance of the Minister of Tourism and Culture, I'm reminded quite frequently about six months. The member for Inverness - we will be talking about the six months' hoist, as I have been all the way through this. As we talked about, in my riding, the number of seniors - one of the more horrific things that has happened to many of the constituents in and around the Town of New Waterford, because it is an aging population, is the increase in the co-pay for Pharmacare.

Mr. Speaker, it may very well take a six months' hoist to find out what the real impact of this is going to be on our seniors in the area. The government quite proudly stands up and points itself out to be - I can be corrected if I'm wrong, but the term they used is - the insurer of last resort. That's what they want to do. They want seniors to go everywhere; whether it's seniors around Pharmacare or young people around access to dental work, they want to be known as the insurer of last resort.

[Page 9204]

Why would they do that? The whole idea of both of these programs, the Children's Dental Program and certainly the Pharmacare, is not so much that your whole bent should be a means test. But the reality is that what it should be is to try to make sure of two things, that the dental health of our young children is the best it can possibly be, so therefore you hedge against it later in life, and indeed that our seniors, on part two, are given the best possible medical treatment they can receive. Forming part of that, and I would say in a large way, is Pharmacare.

I think this is one area where the Minister of Health and I would agree. That's one of the highest motivators of rising costs in medical services, the non-covered areas, such as the cost of prescription drugs. There's just no way, no how that anybody can say anything different, that that isn't one of the largest - if not the largest - movers, in an upward spiral, the price of pharmaceuticals in this province.

Mr. Speaker, this government would not rather wait out six months, they would rather see this hoist motion defeated and go on their merry way and say the concerns of citizens and senior citizens and our young people aren't really what we're interested in. We're interested in bolstering up a very slim, very kind of questionable, if you will, budget surplus. That's what they're trying to do here. They're trying to guise it all. The reality is, it's a budget that's only balanced because of that fact; they're taking many, many cuts from areas and not paying for them.

The Minister of Finance says that it's balanced, thank you. Well, Mr. Speaker, when the budget keeps taking away from people, that's not the way to fairly balance a budget. He knows that, and you only get it by the slimmest of margins. Maybe, I wouldn't say maybe, I would bet on it that if we hoisted this bill for six months we would see that this kind of very narrow surplus would be eroded very quickly. In reality, there was no surplus. They really aren't willing to wait that six months. We have a problem here and I believe it will be rectified by a six months' hoist.

Another area, especially in and around most of industrial Cape Breton, are concerns around our education, whether it's P-12 or post-secondary, Mr. Speaker. We have a real problem in our post-secondary education in that we have a system that is commonly referred to as dollars will follow students, which is extremely wrong-headed when you think of what's going on in areas like industrial Cape Breton where we see a real decrease in population. If you look at it from the 1992 to the 2002 census that has been just recently released, industrial Cape Breton has basically lost the equivalent to the population of the Town of New Waterford. Now that's a large number of your population to lose. The majority of this is not by any catastrophic accidents that caused a great deal of injury and pestilence and death. No, a lot of it is straight out-migration. The people we lose by way of out-migration are our youngest and our brightest, as some would refer to them. They finish their education and they move on.

[Page 9205]

If you take the dollar following the student idea a little further - I was reading a story about one of the outports. I think it's about 130 kilometres north of St. John's, Newfoundland. What they had done is they had whittled away, and because of the devastation of the inshore fishery this community became more and more isolated because it had closed its fishing plant and so on, its processing plant. The school went from a full P-12 school down to a P-9 school, Mr. Speaker, which would mean that the senior high school children would then have to move to another community altogether. It came to the point that they would leave for high school and then they wouldn't return.

[5:15 p.m.]

In essence, what they are doing this November is they are shutting the community down. The government has put a proposal on the table to buy them out and depopulate the area. That is what happens in areas where government speaks just of dollars following students. It doesn't work. If we are truly sincere about the fact that what we have to do is build the province from Yarmouth to Cape North, inclusive of everybody, to try and grow the province in a way that everybody can take advantage of its economic resources, then we have to do it for all the areas. We can't spot it, we cannot do an economic drawing of a hub and spoke system in hopes that it works because it won't work, Mr. Speaker, the province geographically doesn't allow that.

We are going to make sure that the system won't work if what you do is say, okay the enrolment is down in industrial Cape Breton, therefore you get fewer dollars. Well, Mr. Speaker, we know, as I am sure you are well aware, that if you are operating a bus in a school system and there are 15 students on it, or if there are 25 students on it, or if there are 30 students on it, it costs the same amount of money to go over the same mileage. So to lump these together and say there are 10 less students in this rural school or whatever and we are going to give you funding based on that, it is wrong. It has to be government's role to say we realize that the economics being as they are today, that you have hit a rough spot, but we as your government are there to serve you, and part of our service to you is to make sure that you have access to a public school education in a reasonable setting. It doesn't mean that no, you have fewer in your class, now we are going to take them out of here and put them over there. That is not the way it works.

Mr. Speaker, I think a hoist motion would be in order that would allow the government to reconsider that. It is an area that this government, I don't think, and I don't think that many of its backbenchers really realize it either, because a lot of them are from rural Nova Scotia and have seen declines in their enrolment, who realize that part of the government's job is to help Nova Scotians, and this government is zealous to move away from investing in Nova Scotia, I think there are lots of rural members who realize just how that can turn into oblivion for many of these rural areas and they see the wrongness of it. I would think that if they had time to petition the front benches and tell them the reality of what is going to happen in their

[Page 9206]

rural communities in their zealousness to balance the budget at all costs, it is going to hurt Nova Scotians. Give them those six months to think about it.

Speakers before me have seen the former Tory Governments talk about one of the real great sins it committed against this province, I believe, was during the Cameron Regime and the privatization of Nova Scotia Power. Now, as we speak in this House today, there are hearings going on with the Utility and Review Board talking about that very company. But I want to take you back to Friday of last week, when one of the senior executives, Mr. Huskilson, was being cross-examined by one of the lawyers. This is supposed to be a company that's in the leadership role of the economy of this province. He was being cross-examined by a witness; he was talking about the availability of coal supply and, at one point, was being asked directly about coal supply during a time when there was a work stoppage in the Cape Breton coal fields, in January 2000.

Mr. Huskilson went on to describe what was going on. He described that they were facing a possible shortage of their coal supply. They had injunctions; they had hundreds of police on the ground and they've found that the injunction that they got was relatively toothless, but, Mr. Speaker, he went on to explain that the gates of their power plants were being manned by people with hoods on and his words were that they could be best described as terrorist tactics.

The insensitivity of those remarks just echoed throughout that room, Mr. Speaker. A senior executive saying those types of words in the context of what this world is through today, to say that about the working people of Nova Scotia, to use that phraseology - yet, we're supposed to say that a company like that really has the best interests of Nova Scotians at heart. I find it, after making a statement like that, almost impossible to believe that NSPI and its leadership have the best interests of Nova Scotians at heart. I mean, we've seen, since the privatization of Nova Scotia Power, the decrease of more and more jobs in industrial Cape Breton and the centralizing of the power company to metro Halifax; we've seen the closures, right across the province, in many rural areas of rural payment stores and rural garages where you could actually talk to Nova Scotia Power workers. There were garages and workshops and so on, but they've all closed and are centralized.

We've seen, effective January 1st of this year, the closure of a business call centre in Sydney, with the loss of approximately 15 jobs, well-paying jobs, throughout industrial Cape Breton. But this government doesn't feel that that matters. Mr. Speaker, it does. I think we should be looking at that. We should allow this government six months to look at the impact of those job losses and the impact of what NSPI is going to do here. We could also ask NSPI what its intentions are about the use of the rail line from Port Hawkesbury to Sydney, whether it's going to - because they did buy the ground facilities, if you will, of the Cape Breton Development Corporation; the rail infrastructure, they bought the port and they bought a lay-down area out at Victoria Junction. Could we be asking Nova Scotia Power if it's going to use that line from Sydney to Port Hawkesbury in any substantial way to move

[Page 9207]

any commodity on it, in particular its coal commodity? Those are questions that maybe we could find out.

We'll find out within six months the reality of what the URB is going to do around its rate increase. Certainly it would give us a much better idea, Mr. Speaker, but it's the lack of direction in a lot of ways with this government that behooves me.

I mean we have seen the sale of the Sysco wharves to petroleum energy ventures, Mr. Speaker. Maybe we need six months around there to find out what their plan is for that area, whether they're going to use that as a lay-down area for coal. I mean I would contend that the Sysco area, if they were to be serious, would be great for a lay-down area if we were to look at making platforms for the offshore. You have a railway infrastructure there. You have a large area for lay-down. You have a ready wharf there. You have a workforce. It makes sense. (Interruption)

Mulgrave is not big enough, Mr. Speaker. Mulgrave doesn't have the lay-down area. Mulgrave is a fine wharf, as wharves go, and as a commodity handler, it's a great wharf, but (Interruption) No, he knows that, Mr. Speaker. I'm talking about supportive. We're talking about port utilization and the proper use of infrastructure and I think as great as it is as a handling centre, it just doesn't have the lay-down area for the oil exploration offshore. But, do you know what, I would love to see it in Mulgrave as opposed to Louisiana, but this government is certainly not going to stand up to anybody and tell them that's where it should be because we've lost another piece of our valued work there. Isn't this what this is all about - the ability for us to get Nova Scotians, people, making wages that they can help grow the economy?

Mr. Speaker, all these jobs that I've talked about, whether it's in fabrication, whether it's in Nova Scotia Power, health care, education, all well-paying jobs that could help grow the economy, but this government has no plan to do that. In a question today, the Premier said, oh, yes, we're getting a minimum wage increase in October. Well, we know it's going to be the usual dime. There's not going to be any consultation to the affected people. They may go talk to some of their business friends and ask a few questions, but that's all it's going to be. It's going to be what it is - a minimum wage. It's not going to be a living wage. As we showed today, you take home $200 a week for a 40-hour week job. Are there any provisions? This government, are they saying, what we're going to do is we're also going to look at opening up the Labour Standards Act and we're going to start looking at making that a bit more progressive, as we proposed a year ago. We will give them six months to look at that, to bring in changes that would allow people leave provisions, that would allow people covered under the Labour Standards Act to have incremental increases in their vacation credits, that people would be able to have incremental yearly increases in minimum wage as opposed to relying on the will of Cabinet, that has kept us down here at or near the bottom all the time on minimum wage.

[Page 9208]

They want us to be known as Mexico North, Mr. Speaker. Let's give them six months to think about that. We need in this province a vision that's not anywhere in sight, pardon the phraseology, but six months would allow them to look at things like that. Six months would allow them to look at the funding issues that have been created around the University College of Cape Breton, again well-paying jobs, jobs that we may see go out of that area because this government will not allow the proper funding to take place - I would say probably the most important piece of infrastructure we have for economic development because that's where our young people are going to be educated. That's where, if we get them and train them in Cape Breton, they'll stay in Cape Breton.

[5:30 p.m.]

As I said before about the Newfoundland experience, they move away in the formative years and don't return. As a life-long resident, I know that that's what happens. They do not return. They'll come to university here in Halifax and they will not return to their native Cape Breton because they realize the job opportunities here in metro as opposed to back home and that flutters away.

So, Mr. Speaker, there's got to be an appreciation of the uniqueness of the University College of Cape Breton. There's got to be an appreciation of the newness of the University College of Cape Breton because we do not have an infrastructure of alumni and benefactors, a network of people throughout North America and indeed the rest of the world, that could funnel funds back in to help offset some of the costs. So it's growing pains. These are the things that we have to look at; six months hence, I think they could certainly do that.

Now, Mr. Speaker, we talked about some stuff around WCB before and around labour, but I want to talk about WCB and particularly the Dorsey report where the minister says, I want 90 days to look at it. Well, 90 days to look at it is just so completely absurd. It would be different if this was not a mandated review. It would be different if there was just one person doing it out on their own who didn't hear from and have public hearings open to everybody across this province. It would be all right to say that maybe if nobody sat with Commissioner Dorsey, if there wasn't a full spectrum of business, labour, health care, injured workers and all these people that were represented on that commission, but they were. So why 90 days? They know that they will be out of this House by that time and it is a delay tactic.

So, Mr. Speaker, we've talked, just about every caucus, and I'm sure the minister has, to injured workers groups that have said this, there's not everything in here we agree with, but it works. It gets rid of FRP, the Functional Restorative Program that they say doesn't work. It does start to recognize chronic pain as a compensable injury. This government wants to hide behind court decisions. This is a government, don't forget, that took widows all the way to the Supreme Court rather than pay them, rather than sit down and negotiate with them. They can smugly sit across and say, well, we won it. We were right in fighting these

[Page 9209]

things because these widows didn't deserve this. Maybe by a caveat in the law they don't deserve it, but everybody knows that those women should have got their retroactivity, but this government would rather fight them than prove they are right.

It is the same thing again. We're on our way to the Supreme Court around chronic pain. Rather than the government ceasing this whole attitude of fighting the common person in Nova Scotia, they would rather take them all the way to the Supreme Court and say, look, we don't care what's fair, we just want to do what our agenda dictates and our agenda is not to support the working women and men of this province.

We saw by example today, Mr. Speaker, what it thinks when it hires high-paid executives in this province. It's open a chequebook and show me where to sign when it comes to them. The audacity of that government and its Premier today to say, that's how we right the ship. We give these guys these big salaries and the rest will come trickling down. We remember in the United States in the 1980s, the Ronald Reagan economic theory, the trickle-down factor. We know that and Thatcherism doesn't work. All it did was make the poor poorer and rich richer. So it widens that gap but they don't care. I think a six months' hoist would allow them to look at that.

More on labour, the occupational health and safety violence in the workplace regulations, where the government agreed yesterday with a resolution I put forward - I assumed they would announce that today, Mr. Speaker. Maybe they are waiting for Thursday's Cabinet. We just don't know because these are things that don't affect their friends in any great way; they affect ordinary Nova Scotians who are trying to send their children to school every day, the senior citizen who is trying to pay for their pharmaceutical needs for a month, and the person on social assistance who has a severe medical condition and is trying to fight with this government to get a phone in case of an emergency medical need. We are talking about people, that same person who is trying to access emergency medical care overnight in the Town of New Waterford. These are things that this government should do over a six-month period to say look, this isn't working; it is just not working.

Who are we in power to help? This idea of giving the higher end more so they will support the disadvantaged has been proven time and time again not to work, yet this government is trotting down this road knowing full well that it is not going to work. They will tell people this. They will try to tell people this, and we know people don't believe them, Mr. Speaker.

Let's talk a little bit more about some more ordinary Nova Scotians. Let's talk about the Arts Council and what this government did by gutting that organization. Was the gutting of the Arts Council in the infamous blue book? No, Mr. Speaker, it wasn't in there. What motivation did this government have in just tossing that group aside? We hear the minister from time to time saying that now more money is going to go to the artisans and less into administration. We don't know that. The real problem here is twofold; we obviously don't

[Page 9210]

know that what they are saying is accurate. They haven't laid out any real criteria that would show you that. Then, you know, the only thing we see from them in any real way is that it is now going to become art funded by a government committee and we are going to have a government decide what is art.

Now, Mr. Speaker, there may be art that may offend the sensibility of that group across the way, and all of a sudden it won't get funded. We all know one of the primary prerequisites for art is freedom of expression. The idea of - now what is going to happen is the establishment of a politburo to put the stamp on what is art and what we should be. I take you back to probably, of this century, one of the greatest photographers of our times, really an artist, Ansel Adams. They had the Endowment for the Arts in the United States; the right-wing agenda around there tried to block them supporting any or all of his art work that could be given money by the Endowment for the Arts in the United States because they didn't agree with it. They thought some wasn't art; they questioned the idea of should these photographs be shown to the public, because of certain - what one could only describe as expectations around the pictures, the idea, again, of a right-wing government group saying that that is not art.

Now, Mr. Speaker, I would contend about Mr. Ansel Adams, who is internationally recognized, is an artist. Now what we're going to have is the possibility of government backbenchers telling us this is fundable and that's not fundable.

What I also find really disturbing about this idea too, is we do this to the Arts Council with no consultation, they come like a thief in the night - to use the biblical phrase - and the funding is cut, the doors are locked, the locks are changed, and that's what happened to the Arts Council. We do that to them. Yet, we're the first ones, when there's a reception here, to bring someone in. What do we do? If someone comes to this province as a dignitary, they try to give them some kind of piece of Nova Scotia artifact made by an artisan here. They're willing to jump out and kind of applaud them for being a part of Nova Scotia but yet they're not willing to support them and nurture them.

Mr. Speaker, by and large, as most people in the arts community would tell you, these grants are necessary to allow them to grow and find a market niche and help them with business plans and so on. So to now leave that primarily as an arm of government is wrong. The minister can say what he wishes, that he's putting together a board that's going to be more responsive to the needs of artisans. We don't see that, there's no proof in what he says. I think a six months' hoist would go a long way to helping us here.

Mr. Speaker, this is a government that's talking more about taking things away from people. That's what we're finding here today. I think a six months' hoist would allow this government to really kind of look within themselves, if you will, to see what they've done to Nova Scotians, what this financial measures bill really does. Does it improve the life of Nova Scotians? Not really. Do you improve the life of Nova Scotians by making it more

[Page 9211]

difficult and more riddled with political patronage, by getting rid of the Arts Council? Does that make life in Nova Scotia better? I would contend to you, no, that it doesn't.

Mr. Speaker, does it make life better for Nova Scotians that you're going to close the emergency room in the New Waterford Consolidated Hospital for a quarter of the time? Do you think that makes life better for the citizens of New Waterford and the surrounding areas who need that facility? Does that make sense? Do you think that those residents are more secure after this bill goes through? Do you think they're going to be happier? Do you think that they're going to be saying, gee, that's great, I believe now that what we're doing here is the right thing, rationalizing services on the backs of the poor and the elderly?

Mr. Speaker, do you really think that that's what people are going to be saying at the end of the day if this bill is not hoisted for six months to allow real examinations by Nova Scotians of what the impact of that emergency room closure is going to be? I don't believe it will be. I believe it will show that there is a real problem, and I think Nova Scotians want those changes stopped. Are Nova Scotians going to be happy with the disruption of classes in the Cape Breton-Victoria School District? Are they going to be happier with less funding? Are they going to be happier with 40-some teachers retiring, with fewer teachers in the classroom? Mr. Speaker, is that what Nova Scotians want? I say they don't. They want students to be taught by qualified teachers day in and day out and that includes substitute teachers. Nova Scotians want an education system that they can access anywhere in this province that is of equal value. That's what they want. They don't want to be hindered by the problem of this government's ineptitude around economic development to hurt them and the possibility of their children for an education. That's what Nova Scotians want - they don't want a government of slash and burn, they want a government of growth and that's not what they're getting today in this House, I would contend.

[5:45 p.m.]

I would also contend that senior citizens with pharmaceutical co-pay - it doesn't work. Older seniors are getting sicker. Their access to pharmacies has to be maintained. Their ability to use and not be having to pay onerous amounts of money for prescriptions. We have to have a formulary, a formulary that really rationalizes what medications seniors need today. It's a growing concern of different types of illnesses and quite a few of these seniors are now experiencing environmental illnesses, so we need that. We need a government that will show that they're being leaders, that they're not just cutters, but they're leaders. We're not seeing that with this government and with this Financial Measures (2002) Act.

We need this hoist to find out that this will happen. This will lead seniors to be secure in the health care system. We need a system that will ensure citizens of insurance rates, that their automobile rates will not go through the roof just because of the greed of the insurance companies in this country; an insurance company that doesn't care about seniors, an insurance company that doesn't care about your driving record, indeed insurance companies

[Page 9212]

that don't care about seniors and their housing needs; or, insurance where seniors cannot use and have insurance on their homes because the premiums are so high. We forgot about our seniors. This government has. This government doesn't care. Give it six months to reflect on that, that this government will listen to these seniors.

Is it right that they don't have the proper funding for Pharmacare, for their car insurance and for their home insurance? I challenge this government to wait six months and do the proper thing and fund it properly.

I challenge this government to fund the University College of Cape Breton in a way that will make students proud and want to stay there, that the faculty and administration can work co-operatively so that they're good, that they will move forward, that they will be educating our young, that they will provide jobs through that education, that they will understand the uniqueness of that facility; that this government step back for six months and look at those things, things that make this province grow. This is a fundamental responsibility of this government and it's failing to respond to it.

I challenge this government today to pass this hoist motion, wait six months, realize the consequences of this Financial Measures (2002) Act, what it will have on the citizens of this province. I think in six months they will realize that it's been devastating, they will lift this Financial Measures (2002) Act and we will go forward in a way that Nova Scotians can be respectful of its government and of this province once and for all. Thank you.

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

MR. WAYNE GAUDET: I'm pleased to rise to say a few words on this hoist amendment on Bill No. 109, An Act Respecting Certain Financial Measures. What exactly is a hoist amendment and why is it being introduced? This amendment is a way to delay this piece of legislation to move forward for a six month period. Looking at the record of this Tory Government, I don't think there are probably too many people who would disagree that this government needs extra time to look back at this budget and what's in this Financial Measures (2002) Act before it goes forward.

This amendment gives the government more time to consult with Nova Scotians, to tell Nova Scotians what's in this bill, what's in this budget and how this budget will impact

on them and also to hear what the people of Nova Scotia have to say with regard to this government's budget and to the supporting bill, this bill respecting certain financial measures.

Mr. Speaker, in six months, the government, as well as the people of Nova Scotia, will be in a better position to understand exactly what the government is trying to do and at the same time this government would certainly understand a lot better how this budget will be impacting on the lives of many of our residents. During this six month period I am sure the

[Page 9213]

government could take advantage of this time, to consult with individuals or groups that they perhaps forgot to consult with and I'm sure, a few groups come to mind, a few individuals. We can talk about the arts community. We can talk about the transition homes. We can talk about the school boards. We can talk about the hospitals. The list goes on and on.

So I'm sure if this government really wanted to take advantage of this six month period and really consult Nova Scotians on how this bill and this budget will impact on them, I am sure they would be quite surprised with those results but, Mr. Speaker, I will come back to some of these individuals and some of these groups that this government pretends at times to have consulted, but I think we certainly recognize if the consultation did take place, it certainly was not done with everyone involved and I will come back to that later.

Mr. Speaker, there are many things in this bill and in this budget that will truly have an impact on the people of Nova Scotia and as a responsible government I'm sure that they would welcome the opportunity to have six months to speak with and hear what Nova Scotians have to say. We have heard this Tory Government promising Nova Scotians that they want to be open, they want to be honest, they want to have a transparent government. Well, what a great opportunity this would be, Mr. Speaker, an opportunity for this government to be open and accountable to the people of Nova Scotia.

We know, Mr. Speaker, this is what the Tory Party promised the people of Nova Scotia going into the last election, but that's not what this government is doing and I certainly will come back to that as well. I can tell you this Tory Government needs to get their act together. There's nothing more they need than to sometime get their act together. Time and time again they have gone forward, announced something, backed off because of public pressure. So this government certainly could use the time to look back and regroup for themselves. More and more, people across this province don't trust these Tories across this floor. You just have to pick up the daily paper on any given day; there are people who are writing letters to the editors to express their concerns and they're not just from the metro area, they're from all over the province.

So you can understand why so many people across this province are upset at the Tories. You know, the Tories have time and time again told Nova Scotians, Mr. Speaker, (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. GAUDET: Thanks for your help, Mr. Speaker. This Tory Government has told Nova Scotians time and time again one message and what do they do, they end up just doing the opposite. So no wonder that people are saying this Tory Government is a one-term government.

[Page 9214]

Mr. Speaker, this Conservative Government needs this time, this six month period, just to get their act together, if nothing else. The Conservative Government has very little credibility with the people of Nova Scotia, promising many things in the last election and ending up, after getting elected, just doing the opposite. The list goes on and on, and I will touch on a few of those this afternoon.

Getting back to the Financial Measures (2002) Act. Financial Measures Acts usually deals with the budget. It deals with fee increases, taxes, it deals with financial measures, but this Financial Measures (2002) Act does not only deal with the taxes, fees and financial measures, this bill deals with far more than financial measures. With this type of legislation we are moving away from established traditions in this House. When the Financial Measures (2002) Act was tabled, it was a bill to support what the Minister of Finance had tabled in his budget.

Mr. Speaker, this bill that is before the House covers a lot more than just financial measures. I know my colleague, the member for Sackville-Cobequid, raised this point with the Speaker already with regard to the format that is included in this bill. I'm not going to go there, I know the Speaker has already ruled on the point. Personally, I'm afraid that with this type of legislation we are setting a precedent, a precedent that will no doubt in my mind come back when future budgets are tabled, when future financial measures bills are tabled in this House. We can expect to see lots and lots, I'm sure, in the years ahead.

I think, today, with this bill, we're breaking new ground. This Financial Measures (2002) Act is no longer just here to cover material that was tabled in the budget, tabled by the Minister of Finance; it covers some amendments for the Minister of Education, it covers material that maybe the Minister of Tourism and Culture should have brought forward to this House, material that the Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations should have brought forward, and the list goes on.

Mr. Speaker, I know, today, it is very difficult to speculate on future budgets and on future financial measures bills. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable Leader in the House of the Liberal Party has the floor.

MR. GAUDET: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Again, with my limited experience in this Legislature, I'm sure that this House will be faced to make a ruling on future financial measures bills that will be tabled in this House. There is no doubt today, looking at this bill, which doesn't just include financial measures, but a whole gamut of different other stuff, that we will be faced here again with some future questions and future financial measures.

[Page 9215]

Mr. Speaker, as I've said, this bill deals with far more than financial measures. Certain sections of this bill, as far as I can determine, don't directly apply to the Financial Measures (2002) Act.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. We have reached the moment of interruption. I would call upon the honourable member, at the end of the half-hour break, to resume his debate.

The subject for this evening's late debate was submitted by the honourable member for Cape Breton The Lakes:

"Therefore be it resolved that while the member for Cape Breton North may not be a fiddler, that member is not doing anything other than fiddling while his riding burns: as schools are ignored, emergency rooms close and banks shut down."

ADJOURNMENT

MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5)

[6:00 p.m.]

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

C.B. NORTH MLA: RIDING CRISES - RESPONSE

MR. BRIAN BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, of course, as all members know, I only have a short 10 minutes here to speak, so I will certainly try not to get into a personal debate here with this member, however, so be it. The problem is, Mr. Speaker, the honourable member can't stand up and take responsibility for what goes on in his riding. So I'm going to start off by speaking about Gannon Road School. Gannon Road School is on the chopping block, of course, by this government. Everybody, locally, knows that. There are many problems surrounding this closure. For instance, a study committee comprised of the parents and school board administrators was supposed to submit a report on the condition of the school and provide a report to the minister. However, this government, of course, created problems between the administrators and the parents on the scheduling and timeline of this sort of thing. As a result, there were problems created. The parents, of course, requested an extension of time. There was some mumbo-jumbo. They went to the minister directly, as well as the honourable member, to no avail.

The parents had to deal with absenteeism by administrators, by the member and unwillingness to accept the parents nominations for chairperson of the committee. The Minister of Education and the member were made aware of these problems in January 2002, but the minister didn't even respond until a few days before the deadline that the report was supposed to be filed, the deadline report. Even then, the response was by e-mail. Talk about

[Page 9216]

effective communication. Mr. Speaker, it is important to note as well that when the minister visited the community a month ago, just before the House went in, there was no visits to rural schools. Isn't that a coincidence? The honourable member took her about to the urban schools and the large urban schools, but he would not dare take the minister near a rural school, whether it be in his riding, mine or whatever. Parents and students in the rural schools deserve the same type of representation as that member is providing to students and parents in the urban schools. I think because the honourable member only has one rural school left in his riding, it is no reason to neglect the parents and the students in that school.

When the honourable member for Cape Breton North spoke to the community members in January, he gave no solutions to clarify dogging these issues. The report was due on February 15th and no extension was given to the parents, none. They couldn't put an adequate report together and, as a result, no report was filed, which was quite all right with the Minister of Education who had previously visited the school board and ordered the school board members to close the school. The message was sent by the deputy minister, in fact, Mr. Speaker, in which at least one school board member left the room when he demanded that they either close the school or he was coming down and close them himself.

Mr. Speaker, perhaps the honourable member should speak to the honourable Brian Young, the former Minister of Municipal Affairs with the Tory Government prior to 1993. That individual was a Tory Minister who was the last elected individual to help save that same school because he recognized the need and the necessity of this school. Mr. Young knew what his role was when the community needed it. I would have to ask, does this present member for Cape Breton North know what his role is when the students and the parents need him? Does he know? Perhaps he should talk to Mr. Young. In fact, my recollection is that the member is the same member of the Party of the Minister of Education. I think he could have been able to help out his own constituents when they needed him. That is when they needed him. But no, maybe this is when he started to play the fiddle. Obviously he is taking lessons from the honourable Minister of Tourism and Culture, who is obviously a fiddle player by profession, and he is a darn good fiddle player, I will give him that, he is a good musician. Mr. Speaker, somebody should tell him, when he comes here to do business in this House, to leave the fiddle home, and to provide real advice to the rookie member, his rookie over there from Cape Breton North.

The solution of the honourable member for Cape Breton North is to close all the schools in his area - and he said this publicly - close the schools and build one big one. He said, imagine what this will do for the economic situation in my community. Mr. Speaker, I hope that when he gets up to speak on this resolution, because he will be next, I hope he defines how building a school generates any economic activity after the construction. This is what I want to hear from the member because many of his residents are baffled as much as I am.

[Page 9217]

The decision has already been made to close the school and he has been quiet. He is like the rest of the backbenchers, as I ended up yesterday, that after two and a half years he finally is going to be their apprentice in quiet time. They are not in hospitals here in quiet time that will speak for the residents no matter which side of the House you sit, your residents are the people you are here for. They are the people who put you here; they are the people who sent you here to ensure that their views and concerns are dealt with. That member fails to do that on a regular basis in this House.

Mr. Speaker, busing children all over the place, past schools that are already over-burdened with students, the numbers are just simply not there, they have to bus children past schools to get them to schools that are not adequately filled, and they are in his riding. Urban schools are the schools that have no enrolments. They are the schools that perhaps should be looked upon if the member was really concerned about education, he should close the ones that are not attended.

Mr. Speaker, let's talk about the hospitals for a minute. The emergency department closed again. All weekend I received calls, people have no confidence in that facility anymore. In fact, when an emergency takes place, people are uncertain, they don't know if they have the ability to go to Northside General, or should they go right to the regional hospital and save 20 minutes. Mr. Speaker, I have a doctor, I asked my colleague from Dartmouth, the honourable Dr. James Smith, seconds count when saving lives - not minutes. These are major, serious issues, that member should be bringing forth to the Minister of Health, quiet, he has not said a word in this House or outside the House, to my knowledge, Mr. Speaker. He keeps telling people that things are getting better with health care, maternity ward closing, long-term care beds being created. (Interruptions)

Mr. Speaker, this guy wants to get in - this honourable member thinks he is a real candidate for Cabinet. Well, look, he got the rest of them up there, he got the rest of that front gang over there, he certainly fits because that's all they do is sit there. It is like they are in some kind of trance in here.

Mr. Speaker, it is time the member stood up and spoke on behalf of his constituents, fulfil the commitment that the Minister of Health, in fact the Premier, committed to the residents in the by-election in which that member was elected, that that hospital and that facility would not be hampered or dampered in any way, that that member would stand up here in Halifax and huff and puff and blow all the houses down, if, in fact, they went to touch any hospital. Well, the last time I checked, all the houses are still standing in Halifax.

[Page 9218]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member's time has expired, but thank you for that.

The honourable member for Cape Breton North.

MR. CECIL CLARKE: Well, Mr. Speaker, speaking of the huffing and puffing, we heard a lot of it but not nearly enough clarity on it. I would say that while the member's resolution speaks to a Roman analogy, he seems to feel that with Cape Breton North, all roads lead to Rome, and Cape Breton North must be Mecca because all he can talk about is my riding and the issues in it because my riding has something happening. I have never heard that member talk about Cape Breton The Lakes very often. What are the Liberals doing for Cape Breton The Lakes? What did the Liberals do for Cape Breton The Lakes? The reality is it's more than just a boardwalk to nowhere; it's about us doing constructive things and dealing with the real issues, whether they are schools, our hospitals and health care, and our issues with the economy in the area.

One thing he alluded to, he talked about schools. Well, I did not dodge that issue, Mr. Speaker, and that member knows it because he was in the same room I was, but was not present when the minister was talking with concerned parents about that issue. I was part of meetings with the school board in trying to deal with the constructive issues. This member got up in the House and accused the Minister of Education of not taking an interest and then said, but she's spending too much time in my riding dealing with the issues of education and schools, touring the riding.

Well, Mr. Speaker, he's asking for me to have some attention to the issues in my riding. We do it and then she's not doing enough to go out to the rural areas. Do you know why? Because she was throughout the area to make sure that she was dealing with the issues pertinent to her portfolio, but that's what this government is doing. We're dealing with the real issues and not talking about some of the foolishness. That member also knows - that member misleads the House when he talks about the Northside General Hospital and health care. No member from Cape Breton has been more accountable when it comes to health care and trying to be responsible and responsive to the citizens.

Mr. Speaker, I hold public accountability sessions. The member for Cape Breton The Lakes wouldn't know what a public accountability session was, let alone how to coordinate one or host one, because all he can do is come to mine and give these nice platitudes and then come up here and try to be negative about it. Well, the jig is up. He should know better than the rhetoric that he's going on with. He talks about the banks being shut down. The Royal Bank has taken decisions with regard to a number of branches, a decision that affects banking and the member for Cape Breton South, banking and the member for Inverness, and banking and the member for Richmond.

[Page 9219]

So if he's suggesting if a decision for Cape Breton North is also indicative of this government, then I would say his own members are awry too, Mr. Speaker. What that member would not talk about in Sydney Mines is the reality that the local credit union, the Princess Credit Union, has added $3 million to its portfolio. People are putting their money in their community in that area and if the Royal Bank takes a decision, I think the people in the community are wise enough to put their money where they feel it is best suited. The Sydney Mines Princess Credit Union is expanding and serving the needs of that community, so I commend them on their ability to expand by $3 million in one year, the efforts, and the good people who work there. (Applause)

And he wants to talk, Mr. Speaker, about what's going on. Well, let's talk about the list and the issues that are necessary that are going on in Cape Breton North. This member, the member for Cape Breton North, is strongly involved, assisting with community renewal initiatives in North Sydney and Sydney Mines and working to ensure that road improvements are undertaken in Florence, and that sport and recreation activities and projects are proceeded with. The Millennium Sportsplex, which that member would probably get up and throw some barbs at as well - but the fact of the matter is we're working with the federal government, this level of government and municipal government as well, Mr. Speaker. The other thing, I'm supportive of the Sydney Mines and District Community Centre and their bid.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. BRIAN BOUDREAU: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Since the honourable member mentioned the sports complex, perhaps he would be kind enough to explain where he's going to get $2 million out of a $1.6 million budget?

MR. SPEAKER: It is not a point of order.

MR. CLARKE: Mr. Speaker, we'll let the math speak for itself and the project proceeds because that's what we're doing, working with the federal, municipal and community stakeholders to see that project go forward, the Sydney Mines and District Community Centre and their efforts to do improvements at the forum there. We want to talk about proposals by the North Sydney and Sydney Mines Minor Baseball Association to do further improvements in the community for the well-being of the Northside; the Northside Industrial Park and our efforts to ensure that the environment is there so we can grow the economy and do something the Liberals merely talk about. For sure, we're working with the not-for-profits and community-based initiatives throughout the entire Northside. Things are happening in the Northside that obviously this member for Cape Breton The Lakes, the Liberal member who loves and pays me a compliment, I'm sure, by even introducing this resolution, by virtue of enabling me to get up and talk about the many great things that are happening in Cape Breton North, the things that don't happen in Cape Breton The Lakes,

[Page 9220]

haven't happened when they've had Liberals there, but good things are happening because a Progressive Conservative member of the Legislature is serving under this government.

I'm working with the three fire departments, the North Sydney Volunteer Fire Department, the Sydney Mines Volunteer Fire Department and the Florence Fire Department on some of their initiatives, not to mention the North Sydney Historical Society and the Sydney Mines Community Heritage Society, the Chapel Point Development Committee, all doing community-based-driven initiatives for the well-being of that community. So, if that member wants to say I'm not on the job, indeed, I'm on the job, but I don't fixate on one issue because the needs of our community are wide and vast and they're much more wide and vast than the mindset of that Liberal caucus, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, I've been proud to work with the three local branches of the Royal Canadian Legion in ensuring that we respect those institutions and that their concerns are heard and that we provide support for their programs. This government is working on offshore opportunities and port development for the Sydney area and the Sydney Harbour area; most recently, as of yesterday, meeting in the community with the concerned stakeholders and industry participants on the railway issue. An issue that that Liberal caucus has been mighty noisy about pointing blame but doing little to form a reasoned, reasonable solution to it, but this government is. I can tell you, as they look at the cup half empty, the cup is more than half full today when it comes to the railway issue on Cape Breton, because common sense in a business case with evidence-based decisions will come to bear for that.

He wants to talk about initiatives and what this government's doing. This government through the Nova Scotia Community College - as he referred, the Minister of Education was down doing consultations on the ground with the community college ensuring that she is connecting with the very institutions that are delivering vital-services partnering with industry that is part of doing training and delivery for real jobs, new jobs that those people don't have the foresight or never had the insight to think of in the first place. So, I want to thank the member, the Liberal member for Cape Breton The Lakes. Since I've been in here he's been about 10 months in a leaky boat on those lakes, and the hole's too big for him to plug it right now, so he wants to take a plug at me. Well let him try because it doesn't bother me. Those Liberal members over there . . .

MR. BOUDREAU: On a point of privilege or a point of order, whichever you want to define, perhaps the honourable member could tell the members of the House where he obtained the last job he had before he came here.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. It's neither one. Neither a point of order or a point of privilege. The honourable member for Cape Breton North, you have a minute and a half.

[Page 9221]

MR. CLARKE: What that member would know is that I work and I respect the people I work with. Whether that was Russell MacLellan there, and by the way, making things happen, but we had the fortitude and the respect to acknowledge the member in what he did previously - the previous member for Cape Breton North - and we carried it on because there was good work that was initiated that was there. The member for Cape Breton South was part of that, and put money into that project as well. We carried it forward because it's the right thing to do and now we're seeing community development projects happening all over urban Cape Breton. Initiatives that are building communities, not taking down. In some ways, Mr. Speaker, while I thank the member for highlighting the many great things that are happening and the representation that's being provided for Cape Breton North, it also is a sad statement on his take of politics in this day and age because I would have to say that I think there are more issues than going and trying to get personal. He said this is not personal. By virtue of the wording and the statement, it is personal in how he does it. I say shame on that member but, at the same time, thank him for highlighting what that Liberal caucus stands for. It doesn't stand for what Cape Bretoners are looking for for a positive future, that's why I'm there to ensure that that voice is drowned out under the bottom of the Bras d'Or Lakes. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: I thank the honourable member for his dissertation.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Centre has the floor.

MR. FRANK CORBETT: I don't know if I will be using my full 10 minutes because what's been said has been said. I want to really highlight some things today around the banking industry, one of the little lines that was put in the resolution today. It concerns me. As the member for Cape Breton North said, it's not just part of his constituency, it's part of four constituencies, that one of the richest institutions in this country is retreating from. I noticed in their release to the public they say words like, nobody will lose their job, there will be no job losses. Sometimes that's kind of double-speak from the banking industry, which just says that sure, you will go from Sydney Mines to North Sydney, but you will go from 35 hours to 18 hours with no benefits. They talk about the full-time equivalencies of job losses: Arichat is 3.3, Port Hood is 3.72, Sydney Mines is 6.25, and Charlotte Street is a whopping 17 full-time jobs.

Mr. Speaker, part of the reason I think we can debate this on the floor today, about job losses in the banking industry in any of those four constituencies, is that maybe by way of supporting the true community banking spirit, which was brought up again by the member for Cape Breton North, is the credit union system - this government through its billions of dollars we spend and invest, maybe we should start looking at accessing credit unions much more. We use banks exclusively, I believe, in this province - our government does. So, let's start looking at using credit unions. That's truly a function of community; they're chartered through the province.

[Page 9222]

Mr. Speaker, that would be a way, I think, we could look forward. As someone who had the distinct pleasure of representing workers in banks and negotiating on their behalf, while it was a pleasure to represent the workers, I could never say it was that much fun being locked in negotiating rooms with their employer. I have to say, in my working life, from time to time, that I had to represent workers, I found one of the most mean-spirited employers I had the chance to negotiate with were banks. Certainly, we're not talking about an industry on the verge of collapse. We're talking about a very buoyant industry; we're talking about one of the richest corporations in this country. Yet, they don't see this.

I'm sure they will hide behind the fact that they're saying there are going to be no direct layoffs. Well, probably not, but we're also talking about people in those communities - it's not so easy for a senior to leave Port Hood to go to Port Hawkesbury to do their banking. I think that has to be appreciated. It isn't so easy for a senior or anybody for that fact, in the middle of winter, to do banking from Arichat to St. Peter's, and vice versa from Sydney Mines to North Sydney.

Mr. Speaker, banks are making huge profits on the backs of working women and men in this province, and yet they seem like they operate with relative impunity. They don't worry about the communities they come from. We saw a wave a couple of years ago, of Scotiabank closures in many rural areas of this province. The effects are still being felt. While there are many things I certainly could go on about and disagree with the member's portrayal of what's going on in areas of industrial Cape Breton and perceived growth, I'm not going to go there. I think it's time that if we really want to show - one way we could show - the citizens of this province that we are taking charge of our destiny is that we will start looking in a serious, tangible way at investing with and doing banking with credit unions.

Another slap in the face that credit unions received just recently was from the federal government, in that employees of credit unions for the longest time were considered guarantors or managers on your passport documents. Now that's no longer the case. Excise Canada, the agency now does not recognize these managers. I think that's wrong. The federal government should change that and allow these people, who are upstanding people in the communities, especially rural communities in Nova Scotia, where people who guarantee such things aren't that available, they should be recognized as guarantors. I think that makes perfect sense.

So I think what we have to do is rationalize where we're coming from, Mr. Speaker. We have to rationalize where we're coming from and say that the banking industry owes the people of Nova Scotia, and particularly rural areas, more than just to say there's not going to be any loss of full-time jobs. I'm not going to get into a lively debate like the honourable members for Cape Breton North and Cape Breton The Lakes. So I'm going to take my seat and hope I had some words on the record on the banking industry. Thank you.

[Page 9223]

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

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, I hadn't anticipated joining this rather lively debate, but the comments from the honourable member for Cape Breton North kind of inspired me to stand on my feet because . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: Motivate.

MR. MACKINNON: Well, motivate, because I think it's important to kind of lay some facts on the table, Mr. Speaker, about all the wonderful things that he's done. I would ask the question, where was the honourable member for Cape Breton North when there were somewhere in the vicinity of 18 jobs lost in a window manufacturing company next door to his constituency office? My understanding is the employees couldn't even get hold of the honourable member for Cape Breton North. So I would raise that. What about all the jobs that were lost at Marine Atlantic for the retraining and the promises that were made by the Premier? Where was the honourable member for Cape Breton North? Not a boo, not a word, as the jobs flipped over across the sea to Newfoundland.

Mr. Speaker, what about the sorting station at Canada Post? Where was the honourable member for Cape Breton North there? Yes, it's a federal issue, but didn't the voice of concern by that honourable member count for something? I guess not. He didn't seem to think it was important to fight for his constituents or constituents in other areas. The priority listing for new schools in the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board shows a senior priority to the one that the honourable member for Cape Breton North is now advocating, now appears to be shuffled down the list because of a political commitment that the honourable member made publicly, that he was supporting this new junior high school. The school board members for that very district did not even know that that was being considered. In fact, it was not even a priority with the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board and they stated as such publicly. So talk about putting politics into a process. He's trying to politicize our educational system. It's bad enough as it is and now he wants to make it worse by putting politics ahead of the real needs of the students in Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board.

Mr. Speaker, there was an economic summit by all the political leaders, both municipally, provincially and federally.

MR. CECIL CLARKE: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. The point of order, I would be remiss if I didn't identify the errors in that statement. Obviously, that member is just proving that he does not connect regularly with Cape Breton North because there are a lot of erroneous statements and he, like the rest of his caucus, seems to be with one oar in a rowboat going around and around Cape Breton The Lakes as well.

[Page 9224]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. That is not a point of order. It is just a disagreement of the facts between two members. The honourable member for Cape Breton West, you have one minute left.

MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, it is about facts and the public record will show exactly what the honourable member said and the public record will also show what the school board member said, contrary to what the honourable member said. What about in Sydney Mines? Yes, that was a Liberal initiative and the honourable member at least graciously conceded that. But where was he at the economic summit at the Coast Guard College a little more than a month ago? He was the only elected official who refused . . .

MR. CECIL CLARKE: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Once again, there are facts that have to be clarified here and I would say where was the member for Cape Breton West during the council session in that community. He was not there and probably had a reason for it. I wasn't at that meeting and I had a reason for it and probably much more important in terms of the future of Cape Breton.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. It is not a point of order. The time allotted for the late debate session has expired.

[PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING]

Bill No. 109 - Financial Measures (2002) Act. [Debate resumed.]

[6:30 p.m.]

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

MR. WAYNE GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, this is a tough act to follow. Where were you and where was I? Anyway, I will return to speak on the hoist amendment on Bill No. 109, an Act Respecting Certain Financial Measures. As I was saying just before the moment of interruption, this Financial Measures (2002) Bill that is before us today deals with a lot more than taxes, fee increases or with financial measures in this budget. This bill deals with far more than financial measures. Certain sections of this bill, as far as I can determine, do not even apply to the Financial Measures (2002) Bill. I don't know why this would be the case, perhaps they did not want to deal with these issues in separate bills. Two things that come to mind: certainly with the amendments to the Education Act, again I don't understand why the Minister of Education did not table these amendments herself; another one that comes to mind is the elimination of the Arts Council, why the Minister of Tourism and Culture did not bring this to the House himself.

[Page 9225]

Mr. Speaker, as I said earlier in this debate today, I pointed out that the member for Sackville-Cobequid raised a good concern, why this was being done under this bill. I know you ruled on his point raised but personally, again, I suspect this Financial Measures (2002) Bill will eventually get though this House, through third and final reading. Once it does, it certainly will be setting a precedent for this House for future budgets that will be tabled in this House, for future financial measures Acts that will be tabled in this House. So, by allowing many things to be included in this bill, I would anticipate in the future that this will come back and probably a lot more with future governments when they do table their financial measures Acts.

Mr. Speaker, I want to say a few words on the Arts Council. This bill before the House deals with the elimination of the Arts Council. Why are Clauses 41 to 44 in this bill? I don't recall that the Conservative Government ever told the people of Nova Scotia in the last campaign that under a Tory Government they would eliminate the Nova Scotia Arts Council, le Conseil des arts de la Nouvelle-Écosse. I don't remember ever having heard that, if elected, they would do away with the Arts Council.

I know the arts community has proven that an independent, arm's-length Arts Council is vital to Nova Scotia, since it was created in 1995. This government and this Minister of Tourism and Culture have a responsibility to protect the arts community in this province. So when I look at the amendments in this bill, instead of protecting, they are deciding that they know what is best for the arts community in Nova Scotia, and by introducing these amendments to eliminate the Arts Council is definitely not what the Arts Council or what the arts community feels is best for them.

This government, by introducing these amendments in this bill, has shown absolutely no respect to the arts community in this province by dismantling the Nova Scotia Arts Council, le Conseil des arts de la Nouvelle-Écosse.

So, Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Tourism and Culture has done nothing but attempt to divide the arts community and destroy the solidarity that exists between artists by creating his own Arts and Culture Council. Many people will probably come forward after this bill goes through; this so-called new Arts and Culture Council will no longer be an arm's-length council from this provincial government. This falls directly under the Minister of Tourism and Culture. We know this same minister is responsible for the Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation. We know what he did, appointing some of his close friends to head the Liquor Corporatiaon. So you really have to ask yourself, you know, is appointing this new Arts and Culture Council truly what is best for the arts community in this province? I am sure many people have come forward and many people will probably still come forward and disagree with this minister and this Tory Government that this is the way they should go.

[Page 9226]

Mr. Speaker, when you look at an article that appeared in The Chronicle-Herald on Thursday, April 25, 2002, over 3,000 individuals have publicly come forward against this government's plan. We've had well over 200 organizations that have also come forward, basically speaking against what this Minister of Tourism and Culture is proposing. These 300 organizations and more, and all these thousands of individuals - we know that we had a protest here, one of many during this Spring session, to call upon this government to reinstate the Nova Scotia Arts Council, and to this point this government has yet to reconsider what they are proposing in this bill. At the same time you really have to question why these individuals would be calling for the minister's resignation.

So, Mr. Speaker, when you have this amount of people involved in this particular campaign, and they're not just people from Halifax; there are people from all over the province. I know I've been receiving some phone calls from the Arts Council in Clare; you know, what is this government planning to do by dismantling the Arts Council in Nova Scotia? So many people have raised concerns with regard to this new game plan that the Minister of Tourism and Culture has and, of course, that is being supported by his own government. So, again, this hoist amendment would certainly be a great opportunity for these individuals across the floor to reconsider what they are proposing to do to the Arts Council in Nova Scotia, le Conseil des arts de la Nouvelle-Écosse. So, again, here is a golden opportunity for this government to reconsider the plan to dismantle the Nova Scotia Arts Council.

Mr. Speaker, since this Minister of Tourism and Culture made the announcement to dismantle the Arts Council there has been protest over protest - protest in the newspapers, of course. There have been all kinds of letters written to the editor. There have been all kinds of individuals from the arts community turning up here at Province House to speak to their local members, to try to speak to the Minister of Tourism and Culture over this proposal to dismantle the Arts Council.

Mr. Speaker, this bill will eventually get through second reading in this House, and once it gets through second reading, this bill will be referred to the Law Amendments Committee. I am sure you remember, a lot of us remember, what happened at the Law Amendments Committee last year, with Bill No. 68 and the nurses. I certainly don't want to go over those details, what exactly happened, but to make a long story short, the government lost the fight and the nurses won. With 300 organizations and with over 2,000 individuals who have already shown publicly that they do not support this government's move to dismantle the Arts Council, I'm sure that a lot of these individuals will be coming forward at the Law Amendments Committee to make a presentation in terms of whether or not they support this government's proposal to dismantle the Arts Council.

I think it's pretty safe to say that I don't expect too many people from the arts community to appear at the Law Amendments Committee to support the proposal that the Minister of Tourism and Culture presently has on the floor of this Chamber. I'm sure we will

[Page 9227]

be hearing from a lot of these individuals and from a lot of these groups at the Law Amendments Committee to ask this minister, to ask this Tory Government to reconsider before they actually go forward and dismantle this Arts Council and to call upon the government to reinstall the Arts Council.

Again, Mr. Speaker, maybe this government should reconsider what they know is the right thing to do, and reinstall the Arts Council. Again, this hoist amendment will allow this government in the next six months to certainly sit down with these individuals or these groups and listen to what they have to say. I know the Minister of Tourism and Culture has tried on a number of occasions, but when you look at these types of advertisements, a lot of the arguments that the Minister of Tourism and Culture raised about all the money he was going to save, about all the money that was going to be reinvested in the arts community, time and time again people from the arts community have shown that this is not going to be the case.

Again, here's a golden opportunity for the minister and for anyone on that side of the House to sit down with the minister and to listen to these people with the concerns that they wish to raise. Again, this Tory Government has created another mess among many that they have created over the last three years. With this hoist amendment, it would allow this Tory Government some extra time to try to resolve this mess with the arts community in Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, another section in this bill deals with amendments to the Education Act. Again, you really have to wonder why these amendments have not been introduced in the House by the Minister of Education. Why have they been included under this Financial Measures (2002) Act? This is something new. In my short stay in this House, I have never seen this. Again, there must be a reason behind this. (Interruption) When I look around, especially when I look back to when I was first elected to this Chamber in 1993, there are not too many people left from that class who are still in this House.

[6:45 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, looking back at these amendments to the Education Act that are included in this bill, you really have to try to understand why this is being done. These amendments have nothing to do with implementing certain financial measures contained within this budget, so why are these amendments to the Education Act contained under this Act? Some of these amendments to the Education Act are good amendments, however, one has to question why they would be contained in this bill; why these amendments to the Education Act were not introduced by the Minister of Education herself.

Again, Mr. Speaker, I don't know why this would be the case. Perhaps the government, perhaps the Minister of Education didn't want to deal with these amendments in a separate bill, for whatever reasons. This new format, under this new Financial Measures (2002) Act

[Page 9228]

that is before the House will certainly establish a precedent for this House of Assembly, especially a precedent for future years, for future budgets, for future financial measures Acts. As I pointed out earlier, Mr. Speaker, I am quite sure that this House will be faced with this type of legislation in the future, by future governments. I am sure we are breaking new ground with this type of legislation.

Mr. Speaker, sections of this bill also deal with the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act. We have heard this government say that it wants to be transparent, wants to be open, wants to be accountable; whatever the public wants, this government would provide. Well, again, this Tory Government says one thing and it does the opposite. If there is any doubt in anyone's mind that this Tory Government is accountable, I am sure they can certainly look at this bill before the House and probably ask that question again. I think that rather than trying to be accountable, they are trying to be unaccountable. This is something they ran their campaign on, they wanted to be open and accountable and transparent and all those nice and fuzzy nice things they had to say, I guess - to try to get people to support them.

Mr. Speaker, you just have to look at these increased fees for FOIPOPs. This fee, or this tax, whatever you want to call it, is to prevent the public from gaining knowledge of government activities, that is pure and simple. This fee is increasing from $5 to $25, so this increase is a 500 percent increase. It goes to the essence of our democracy, it denies people the chance to examine the government's record which, in truth, are the people's records. So, once again, to avoid being accountable, the government raises the rates for obtaining information. So, instead of paying $5, you now have to pay $25.

Again, Mr. Speaker, six months would give this Tory Government the time to reconsider increasing these rates for obtaining information and just maybe, time to remember those promises made to the people of Nova Scotia. So you really have to wonder what is going on. This government has the habit of promising one thing and then turning around and doing just the opposite. Some people might say it was all part of the game to get elected in the last election, say all those nice warm and fuzzy things, to try to convince people to support them.

Mr. Speaker, there are certainly members on that side who probably agree with me. Time and time again, and the list goes on and on, things that this Tory Party promised the people of Nova Scotia in the last election, and they end up doing just the opposite. (Interruptions)

Mr. Speaker, I can tell you from experience, the people of Nova Scotia don't have a habit of forgetting. They don't have a habit of forgetting. Some day these Tory MLAs will have to go on the campaign trail again. Looking back at my short experience in this House, when I was elected for the first time in 1993, there are not too many people left from that gang of 1993. (Interruptions) That's exactly how it works.

[Page 9229]

Mr. Speaker, these people will have to face the music sometime. We've been there. Our caucus said a few things. We had to go back knocking on those doors. We paid a price. But, I'm sure that the people of Nova Scotia can hardly wait for these Tory members to come and knock on their doors.

AN HON. MEMBER: Knock, knock.

MR. GAUDET: Yes, knock, knock. Mr. Speaker, you might say, looking at the history in this House, there are probably many members who are here today who will probably not get re-elected after the next election, but I'm not going to attempt to predict who's going to get re-elected and who is not. (Interruptions) I'm sure they're anxious to find out.

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

MR. GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, I will tell you one thing, I will leave that up to the people of Nova Scotia to decide who will get re-elected to this House after the next election. After having been through three elections myself, I know there are many people on the doorstep who will probably have questions. Absolutely. I can hardly wait to go to the next campaign.

Mr. Speaker, I want to turn now to these fees and recoveries for the fiscal year 2002-03. The Minister of Finance said that these new fees, recovery fees, will generate $22 million this year. Well, looking back at the famous Tory blue book - I have a copy right here, Mr. Speaker - called "Strong leadership . . . . a clear course", it's strange, these days we don't hear much said about these 243 promises. (Interruptions)

Mr. Speaker, I want to return to this blue book full of promises. Some people may refer to this book as a book of broken promises, but again I will let the people of Nova Scotia decide on that one. I want to just go quickly here to Page 28, maybe the honourable member for Preston would be interested in hearing this. It says, "During it's first mandate, a PC Government will: Reduce the excessive tax burden on Nova Scotians. Nova Scotia can no longer afford such high rates of taxation." That's a pretty heavy one. When you're looking at all these new fees that are supposed to be generating an additional $22 million, but at the same time, the Tory Party promised Nova Scotia that they certainly would be looking at lowering this taxation. Well, I'm sure many people in Nova Scotia would agree with me that this, more than likely, is another broken promise. But, anyway, I'm sure we will have an opportunity to go there some other day.

Mr. Speaker, again, in politics, you always have to go back. You always have to go back and knock on those very same doors that you knocked on the first time around. (Interruptions) Since this Tory Government was elected, they have racked up over $200 million in user fees and that amount just keeps on going up. In this budget, the new recovery fees that were tabled, the minister said it would generate an additional $22 million. Well, I

[Page 9230]

think it doesn't matter if you're a senior or not. It doesn't matter if you're living on a fixed income or not. Everyone in this province will have to dig further in their pockets to come up with more money to help support this Tory Government with their so-called balanced budget, and I'll come back to that later on.

AN HON. MEMBER: Birth to death.

MR. GAUDET: Yes, birth to death. Mr. Speaker, I'm sure that Nova Scotians, especially the hardest hit by these new recovery fees, will remember, especially come next election because that wasn't what this Tory Party promised them in the last election.

MR. DONALD DOWNE: What did they promise?

MR. GAUDET: My honourable colleague here, the member for Lunenburg West wanted to know what this Tory Party had promised him. I don't think he was here when I made a reference to the famous Tory blue book, Page 20 to Page 28. Yes, it's worth reading again, especially to remind the people from across the floor that,"During its first mandate, a PC Government will: Reduce the excessive tax burden on Nova Scotians. Nova Scotia can no longer afford such high rates of taxation." Well, how soon do they forget. But I can tell you, people of Nova Scotia won't forget. They will be there waiting for these individuals.

Mr. Speaker, these Nova Scotians that are the hardest hit by these new recovery fees can't afford it, they just can't afford to pay more money. They just can't. So looking at a few of these new fees that the people of Nova Scotia will have to reach in their pockets for more money for and I just want to look at a couple here: driver's licenses are going up from $49 to $60; car registration, vehicle registration is going up $88 to $148. Truckers will have to pay 40 per cent more for their vehicle registration. Fares for ferry services are going up. At home in Digby County, fares are going up on the ferries travelling in the Petit Passage and Grand Passage. The annual licensing fees for fish processors are going up from $100 to $200; Ambulance user fees - $85 to $105 for emergency calls, then we have for transporting, $500 to $600.

[7:00 p.m.]

That reminds me of a little story. I recently had a call from the individual who looks after the Villa Acadienne, a nursing home in Meteghan. She was interested in hiring an ambulance to drive one of the seniors to the dentist, probably less than a 10 minute drive from the nursing home. Anyway, after she was told that it would be a $600 cost to transport this senior to the dentist, one way, she just could not believe this. That's why she was calling the ambulance to see if it would be possible to transport the senior to the dentist. One way, $500, now that fee is going up to $600. I'm sure we've heard stories, I think my colleague for Richmond last night indicated an incident that happened on the weekend at home. There was a need to call the ambulance, but unfortunately that family could not come up with the

[Page 9231]

money that was needed so they had to transport that individual by car to the hospital. I'm sure this new ambulance fee will certainly be impacting many families in Nova Scotia. So, again, here's a great opportunity with this hoist amendment to allow this Tory Government, the Minister of Health, to sit down and find out exactly how this new fee will impact on Nova Scotians.

Another one I wanted to just touch upon, a fee for international adoption and applications. That is going up from $56.50 to $600. Again, you really have to wonder if this is a recovery fee or if this is just a new way of generating some additional revenues for the Minister of Finance.

The list goes on, Mr. Speaker. I'm sure if anyone has not received this copy of fees and recoveries for the fiscal year 2002-03, I'm sure they can contact the Minister of Finance and I'm sure he could provide them with a copy of that.

AN HON. MEMBER: Contact us, we will let them know.

MR. GAUDET: Yes. Give us a call. But, these are not the only fees that are being introduced this year.

AN HON. MEMBER: What else is coming in? Is there more?

MR. GAUDET: Yes, there's a lot more. There's a lot more that's not covered in this book. I want to just cover a couple of those because they're quite sensitive. As my colleague, the member for Richmond, said earlier in this debate, the premiums for Pharmacare have gone up on April 1st; 40,000 seniors will have to pay 50 per cent more this year. The $215 fee has gone up to $336. I'm sure many seniors in this province are wondering if these new fee increases this year are part of the Tory's game plan to move toward a balanced budget. These new Pharmacare fees were introduced by this Tory Government on April 1st. That's the day before the spring session started, so you really have to question why was this done the day before the spring session began. Sometimes a lot of these things don't just happen by accident as I've learned from experience.

I remember when the now Premier was sitting on this side of the House. You know what he said about Pharmacare premiums? He was not in favour of them. He wanted to do away with them.

AN HON. MEMBER: What?

MR. GAUDET: Yes, he wanted to do away with them, but again, when this budget was introduced, these new fees and recovery fees, our Premier had the choice to do away with or reduce these Pharmacare premiums, but that was then and this is now. Yes, he chose to do the opposite of what he was calling for back then, but again, seniors won't forget.

[Page 9232]

AN HON. MEMBER: Some of his front benchers were doing the same thing, weren't they? The front benchers who are there now were asking the same thing - lower the rates, lower the rates.

MR. GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, another fee was not listed in this book of fees and recoveries, but it was announced yesterday by the Southwest Nova District Health Authority. It announced that effective May 13th residents attending a rural blood satellite clinic operated by the Southwest Nova District Health Authority will be charged a $7 user fee; that's a $7 blood collection fee. When the budget was tabled on Thursday, April 4th, the Minister of Finance said on Page 29, and I just want to enter this in the record, "That is why we have taken steps to increase fees and revenues. I have already announced, prior to this budget, measures totaling $22 million."

Well, Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Finance forgot to include many of these new fees that have been coming out since the budget has been tabled or just before the budget was tabled. So, again, the Minister of Finance forgot to include this new blood collection fee and these new Pharmacare premium increases in his earlier list. So you have to wonder again, with this new satellite blood collection fee that will be coming into effect on May 13th, what other fees are waiting for us that this Tory Government forgot to tell us about?

Getting back to this new blood collection fee, people going to the four blood satellite clinics in Lockeport, Barrington Passage, Freeport and Digby Neck - or in Meteghan Centre at home, Mr. Speaker - will have to pay the $7 user fee every time they go in for blood work, or they will have to travel to the Roseway Hospital in Shelburne, the Digby General Hospital or the Yarmouth Regional Hospital to get their blood work done for free. Now, you might be wondering what's the big deal with this new blood collection fee?

Well, I want to go back to that press release that was issued yesterday. This is Blaise MacNeil, the chief executive officer: "Unfortunately we cannot afford to offer services of convenience to our communities." Well, Mr. Speaker, unfortunately not everyone in these communities is being affected by this decision, and of course they don't see it this very same way that Mr. Blaise MacNeil sees this new fee, in order to cover the service of convenience. Some of these individuals don't have a choice in going to these clinics. They don't have a choice. They don't have a vehicle to travel to the hospital. There's no public transportation. There are no bus services in those rural communities. Many of these individuals are living on fixed income, so they don't have any extra money to hire someone to drive them to the hospital for free blood work, let alone find extra money to pay for this blood work. 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, might just cause them not to get those much-needed blood tests done.

[Page 9233]

Mr. Speaker, last week I had a call from a senior from Clare. This gentleman needs to go for blood work every two weeks. This gentleman can't understand why the same people will have to pay and others won't have to pay for their blood work. This man told me that he doesn't own a car, and he lives on a fixed income. He also told me that he had worked all his life and paid taxes all his life. He also told me that he always believed that when he retired the health care system would be there for him. This man is very upset towards this new policy. He called this latest fee a discrimination against him and others in our health district, and I have to agree with him. This is a discrimination. This gentleman is very concerned on how this new blood collection fee will impact on his life and, especially, on his monthly income.

Mr. Speaker, I hope that the Minister of Health or this Tory Government will intervene before May 13th when this new policy takes effect. I spoke with this gentleman last week. He told me this new policy would be coming May 1st. I raised this in this House, and then I see this press release that was issued yesterday by the Southwest Nova District Health Authority indicating that this new fee will only come into effect on May 13th. Again, I'm sure that this government recognizes that this new blood collection fee will be impacting many individuals in Shelburne, in Yarmouth, in Digby County, and especially those less fortunate in our society. I hope that the Minister of Health, the Premier, the members on that side of the House will look back at exactly how this new blood collection fee will be impacting individuals in our health district.

Mr. Speaker, could you indicate how much time is left?

MR. SPEAKER: Six minutes.

MR. GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, there were many surprises in this budget, but probably one surprise that will not soon be forgotten is the new gas tax, that 2 cents per litre increase. There have been all kinds of comments made on this new gas tax, but I thought one individual summed it up quite well the day after the budget was tabled. I was listening to the radio that morning, the next day, while the reporter was interviewing people at the gas pumps, and this individual said that we don't have a choice this morning than to pay for this new tax, but we will have a choice come next election.

Mr. Speaker, there are a lot of individuals who were affected by this gas tax. This is after, of course, this government said there would be no tax increases again. Many people will argue that these recoveries are not taxes, recovery fees are not taxes. But our Auditor General has said anything above these cost recoveries are taxes, anything above these cost recoveries are taxes. One thing that Nova Scotians know is that whatever you want to call these, it's going to cost them more money. That's one thing that they do know.

[Page 9234]

Furthermore, if the government introduces these new recovery fees to generate more revenues for the province, then I am sure I am not the only one in this House, and especially in this province, who would disagree, who would object to this practice of increasing these recovery fees to generate more money for the Minister of Finance for this government to try to provide us with a balanced budget. That is not what the Auditor General said these recovery fees were about. Again, Mr. Speaker, I don't believe this practice of introducing these new recovery fees should be allowed to generate some additional money for the Minister of Finance.

Mr. Speaker, at this time I would like to move that the debate on Bill No. 109 now be adjourned. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member has moved adjournment of the debate.

A recorded vote has been called for.

Ring the bells to the satisfaction of the Whips.

[7:16 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

[7:18 p.m.]

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: I consider this to be adjournment. We will vote on the adjournment and then the Opposition House Leader for the Liberal Party will give the business for tomorrow.

MR. SPEAKER: Does the House agree that we will vote on the adjournment debate at this time?

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 motion is to adjourn debate and all are agreed are they?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Yes.

[Page 9235]

MR. SPEAKER: Very well.

The honourable Liberal House Leader on tomorrow's hours and business.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, tomorrow the House will sit from 2:00 p.m. until 6:00 p.m. Liberal Opposition Business tomorrow will be Resolution No. 2828 and following that, it will be Resolution No. 3321. I move that this House do now adjourn until 2:00 p.m. tomorrow.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is that the House adjourn until 2:00 p.m. tomorrow.

Is it agreed.

It is agreed.

[The motion is carried.]

We are adjourned until 2:00 p.m.

[The House rose at 7:19 p.m.]

[Page 9236]

NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3)

RESOLUTION NO. 3555

By: Mr. Cecil Clarke (Cape Breton North)

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

Whereas Frances Waterman-O'Connell, a student in the Bachelor of Education Program at Saint Francis Xavier University, is the recent recipient of the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. Award; and

Whereas this award is presented annually to the Black Nova Scotian university student with the highest academic average; and

Whereas named in honour of this important civil rights activist, the award is not only an honour to the recipient, it is as well an opportunity to applaud the academic achievements of all Black Nova Scotians;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate Frances Waterman - O'Connell on her award and wish her every continued academic and professional success.

RESOLUTION NO. 3556

By: Mr. Richard Hurlburt (Yarmouth)

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

Whereas the Atlantic Health Promotion Research Centre is launching The Yarmouth Stroke Project at a forum to be held this September in Yarmouth; and

Whereas the three-day forum will involve researchers, health professionals, people who have experienced a stroke or strokes, as well as caregivers and community leaders; and

Whereas The Yarmouth Stroke Project, under Project Coordinator Jeff Gushue, is a five-year research project to improve the quality of life for individuals who have suffered a stroke as well as their caregivers;

Therefore be it resolved that MLAs applaud Project Coordinator Jeff Gushue, the Atlantic Health Promotion Research Centre and Dalhousie University for their dedication to this project and wish them every success with it.

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RESOLUTION NO. 3557

By: Mr. Mark Parent (Kings North)

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

Whereas Skip Yvonne Martin has won her second Provincial Senior Women's Curling Championship in three years; and

Whereas with Mate Carol Hampsey, Second Allison Weagle and Lead Donna MacKinnon, Martin's team proudly represented the Glooscap Curling Club in Kentville; and

Whereas with that win, Martin and her teammates advanced to the National Senior Women's Championship in St. Thomas, Ontario, where they competed with 12 teams from across the country;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the Glooscap Senior Women's Curling Team on their provincial success and wish them well in future competitions.

RESOLUTION NO. 3558

By: Hon. James Muir (Health)

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

Whereas Barbara Goit was named the 2002 Outstanding Fundraising Executive by the Society of Fundraising Executives; and

Whereas Barbara Goit has been the Executive Director of the Colchester Regional Hospital Foundation since its founding in 1988; and

Whereas under Barbara Goit's leadership, the foundation has experienced consistent growth and has raised more than $5 million;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Barbara Goit on being named the 2002 Outstanding Fundraising Executive and wish her continued success as she spearheads fundraising efforts for the Colchester Regional Hospital Foundation.