Assemblée Législative de la Nouvelle-Écosse

Les travaux de la Chambre ont repris le
21 septembre 2017

Hansard -- Thur., May 28, 1998

First Session

THURSDAY, MAY 28, 1998

TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE
PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS:
Transport. & Pub. Wks.: Pembrooke-Burnside Road - Pave,
Mr. B. Taylor 371
Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Centreville: Sherman Belcher Road -
Sidewalks Install, Mr. G. Archibald 372
PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES:
Striking Committee: Standing Committees - Appointments,
Hon. Manning MacDonald 372
TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS:
Educ. - O'Connell Dr. School (Porters Lake): Lease Costly - Imposed [p.328]
HRM Letter - Tabled, Hon. R. Harrison 372
NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 216, Gov't. (N.S.) - Policies/Progs. List: Endorsed (Two-Party) -
Present, Mr. R. Chisholm 374
Res. 217, Health: Commitments (Premier 04/03/98) - Review,
Mr. G. Moody 374
Res. 218, Gov't. (N.S.) - Mandate: Cooperative Approach - Urge,
Mr. J. Holm 375
Res. 219, Health - New Ross: Physician Requirement - Acknowledge,
Dr. H. Bitter-Suermann 375
Res. 220, Nat. Res. - Sable Project: C.B. Impact Negative - Condemn,
Mr. F. Corbett 376
Res. 221, Educ. - C.P. Allen H.S. (Bedford): Musical Achievement -
Applaud, Hon. F. Cosman 377
Vote - Affirmative 377
Res. 222, NSP - Trenton Generating Station: Safety - Recognize,
Dr. J. Hamm 378
Vote - Affirmative 378
Res. 223, Tech. & Sc. Sec't. - Year 2000: Report Recommendations -
Fulfil, Mr. P. Delefes 378
Res. 224, Sysco: Success - Support, Mr. P. MacEwan 379
Res. 225, Health - Nurses: RNANS Awards - Congrats., Mr. G. Archibald 380
Vote - Affirmative 380
Res. 226, Nat. Res. - Stora (Port Hawkesbury): Expansion - Congrats.,
Mr. R. White 380
Vote - Affirmative 381
Res. 227, Transport. & Pub. Wks.: Beaver Bank By-Pass - Construct,
Ms. R. Godin 381
Res. 228, Fish. - Seniors: Licenses Free - Provide, Mr. M. Scott 382
Vote - Affirmative 383
Res. 229, Gov't. (N.S.) - Promises Unfulfilled: Negotiations (Can.-N.S.) -
Aggression Show, Mr. G. Moody 383
Res. 230, Fin. - Financial Statements: Hired Auditors - Unacceptable,
Mr. J. Pye 383
Res. 231, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Hwys. Repair:
Non-Partisan Approach - Develop, Mr. G. Balser 384
Res. 232, Nat. Res. - Stora (Port Hawkesbury): Expansion - Congrats.,
Mr. D. Dexter 385
Vote - Affirmative 386
Res. 233, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Truro (Robie St.): Maintenance -
Ensure, Mr. J. Muir 386
Res. 234, Educ. - School Construction: P3 Audit - Aud. Gen. Conduct,
Mr. H. Epstein 386
Res. 235, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Hwys.: Construction (1998) -
Schedule Publish, Mr. J. Leefe 387
Res. 236, Dr. Joan Cummings - Access Awareness Week:
Hour Glass Action Award - Congrats., Ms. Maureen MacDonald 387
Vote - Affirmative 388
Res. 237, Fin. (Can.) - Budget (Bill C-36): GIS Income Changes -
Disapprove, Mr. B. Taylor 388
Res. 238, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Hwy. Workers: Settlement -
Leadership Show, Mr. W. Estabrooks 389
Res. 239, Gov't. (Can.) - Cuts (N.S.): Premier - Interests (N.S.) Protect,
Mr. J. DeWolfe 389
Res. 240, CAF: Sexual Abuse - Condemn, Ms. Y. Atwell 390
Vote - Affirmative 391
Res. 241, Agric. - Beef Industry: Report - Implementation Begin,
Mr. G. Archibald 391
Res. 242, Educ. - School Construction: Consultation (NDP-PC) - Begin,
Ms. Helen MacDonald 392
Res. 243, HRM - Murray Warrington Park: Donation - Gratitude Extend,
Mr. J. Muir 392
Vote - Affirmative 393
Res. 244, Commun. Serv. - Employability Assistance for Persons with
Disabilities Prog.: Success - Ensure, Ms. E. O'Connell 393
Res. 245, Culture - Mahone Bay Founders' Soc.:
Settlers' Museum (10th Anniv.) - Congrats., Mr. M. Baker 394
Vote - Affirmative 394
Res. 246, Educ. - Library (Capt. Wm. Spry): Literacy Progs. - Congrats.,
Mr. R. Chisholm 395
Vote - Affirmative 395
Res. 247, Health/Lbr. - Vol. Fire Departments: Liability Protection -
Enact, Mr. J. DeWolfe 395
Res. 248, Sports - Canoeing: Maclean Comstock (Sackville) Events (Euro.) -
Congrats., Mr. J. Holm 396
Vote - Affirmative 397
Res. 249, Lbr. - Schools: Fire Regs. - Review, Mr. G. Balser 397
Res. 250, Gov't. (Can.) - Expenditure (Parliament Hill Office-Hon. Allan
MacEachen): Public Services (N.S.) - Provide, Ms. R. Godin 398
Res. 251, RCMP (Anniv. 125th): Service - Congrats., Mr. M. Scott 398
Vote - Affirmative 399
Res. 252, Fin.: Employment Insurance System - Reform, Mr. J. Pye 399
Res. 253, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Truckers: Costs Additional -
Imposition Cease, Mr. B. Taylor 400
Res. 254, Sports - St. Margaret's Arena Assoc.: Manager (Mike LeRue) -
Appointment Congrats., Mr. W. Estabrooks 400
Vote - Affirmative 401
Res. 255, Culture: Gaelic Cultural Awareness Month - Congrats.,
Mr. E. Fage 401
Vote - Affirmative 402
Res. 256, Educ. - School Construction: P3 Scrap - Demand,
Ms. E. O'Connell 402
Res. 257, Coast Guard (Can.) - Coffin Island Lighthouse (Queens):
Integrity - Ensure, Mr. J. Leefe 402
Vote - Affirmative 403
Res. 258, Econ. Dev. & Tourism/Transport. & Pub. Wks.:
St. Margaret's Bay Gateway Project - Support,
Dr. H. Bitter-Suermann 403
Res. 259, Health - Huntington's Disease: Norman Gray Walk (Cumb. Co.) -
Success Wish, Mr. E. Fage 404
Vote - Affirmative 405
STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS:
Douglas Giles - Sergeant-at-Arms, The Premier 406
Vote - Affirmative 406
Arthur Fordham - Assistant Clerk of the Legislature, The Premier 406
Vote - Affirmative 406
ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS:
No. 31, Educ. - School Construction: P3 - Alternatives, Mr. R. Chisholm 406
No. 32, Health - Hepatitis C: Compensation Package - Status,
Dr. J. Hamm 408
No. 33, Educ. - Chignecto Central School Board: Computers - Costs,
Ms. E. O'Connell 411
No. 34, Health: Care - Status, Dr. J. Hamm 412
No. 35, Nat. Res. - Sable Gas: C.B. - Socio-Economic Impact Study,
Mr. F. Corbett 415
No. 36, Health: MedMira Labs. - HIV Testing, Mr. G. Balser 416
No. 37, Health - Surgery: Waiting Times - Excessive, Mr. B. Taylor 418
No. 38, Housing & Mun. Affs. - Rooming Houses:
Legislation (Bill No. 1) - Support, Mr. H. Epstein 420
No. 39, Nat. Res. - Natural Gas: Regulations - Delays, Mr. J. Holm 421
No. 40, Nat. Res. - Tussock Moth: Bulletin - Accuracy, Mr. D. Chard 422
No. 41, Health: New Ross - Physician Requirement,
Dr. H. Bitter-Suermann 424
GOVERNMENT BUSINESS:
GOVERNMENT MOTIONS:
ADDRESS IN REPLY:
Ms. Y. Atwell 427
Mr. G. Balser 434
Mr. Charles MacDonald 444
Mr. D. Chard 453
Adjourned debate 454
ADJOURNMENT:
MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5):
Health - Care: Long-Term - Urgency:
Ms. Maureen MacDonald 455
Hon. J. Smith 457
Mr. G. Moody 459
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Fri., May 29th at 11:00 a.m. 462

[Page 371]

HALIFAX, THURSDAY, MAY 28, 1998

Fifty-seventh General Assembly

First Session

2:00 P .M.

SPEAKER

Hon. Ronald Russell

DEPUTY SPEAKER

Mr. Donald Chard

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. We will commence the daily routine.

Before doing that, perhaps I should advise the House that the winner for the late debate today is the Leader of the Opposition. The notice of motion is as follows:

Therefore be it resolved that this House urges the Premier to recapture the sense of urgency about the state of long-term care that he demonstrated ever so briefly on March 4th and respond to 65 per cent of voters who want a new direction and a new confidence in health care.

As I say, that will be debated at 6:00 p.m.

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition on behalf of residents in the Upper Stewiacke-Pembrooke-Burnside area. There are approximately 100 signatories to this petition. The residents are asking that the Department of Transportation and Public Works immediately upgrade, improve and pave the nearly impassible Pembrooke-Burnside Road. I have affixed my name to the petition.

371

[Page 372]

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable member for Kings North.

MR. GEORGE ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, I would like to table a petition on behalf of some people who live in Centreville. Mostly the people are living along the Sherman Belcher Road and they have been petitioning both the Province of Nova Scotia and the Municipality of Kings to install sidewalks from the post office in Sherman Belcher as far as the playing fields. I have signed this along with many other hundreds of people. (Interruption) The Leader of the Opposition would like his opportunity to sign it as well. He supports this as I do.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, as Chairman of the special committee appointed pursuant to Rule 60 to establish standing committees of the House, I wish to report that the committee has met and I hereby submit a list of members of the Standing Committees of the House. I had intended to circulate them all but we just ran out of time, I guess, but they will be circulated in a few moments. So if you would accept this and then it will be circulated to every member.

MR. SPEAKER: I certainly will. That is no problem.

The report is tabled.

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Education.

HON. ROBERT HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, yesterday in debate the member for Halifax Fairview and I engaged in a spirited debate about contracts. During the course of the debate she indicated in her speech an innovative partnership which had been reluctantly agreed to by the Halifax Board, going on to say that the director of operations says the lease is a bad deal costing more than if the board managed the school by itself and basically asserted that the contract would, in fact, cause children of this province taxpayers' dollars.

We called the Halifax Regional School Board yesterday and today they submitted a letter, most of which I will not read but the pertinent points I will. First of all, board staff recommended the agreement to the board members at the meeting of May 26th. Secondly,

[Page 373]

I can assure you that no staff members consider this a bad deal and finally the cost estimates of $3.55 are 20 cents less than the $3.75 per square foot cost which is the average for the Halifax County schools.

Mr. Speaker, I will table a report so that the members opposite can read all of the other pertinent points in this. Suffice it to say that taxpayers' dollars are not being squandered or expended with the private sector but, in fact, they are savings that accrue to the children of this province.

MR. SPEAKER: The document is tabled.

That is not a statement. That was the tabling of a document.

The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid on a point of order.

MR. JOHN HOLM: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, and I appreciate your ruling because the minister did, in fact, stand up under Tabling Reports, Regulations and Other Papers, but when you stand up to table a report, normally what is done is that which the Government House Leader did. He stood up and he gave a report and he tabled a document. The comments made by the minister under the guise of tabling a report really was a statement by a minister where he was attempting to be argumentative and put forward his point of view without providing an opportunity for those other members of this House to respond.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask that you rule that the minister's tabling of a report should more appropriately be classified as a statement by a minister so that other members of this House may have the opportunity to respond to the comments that he made.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Education and Culture.

HON. ROBERT HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, I would just like to speak to the point of order. Clearly the tabling of a letter from the Superintendent of the Halifax Regional School Board to correct a member opposite in debate constitutes tabling not a report, not a regulation, but other papers. The preamble was by way of explanation that what was said in the House yesterday was incorrect and what is being presented today is, in fact, fact.

MR. SPEAKER: There is no point of order. It was a document that was tabled and that is acceptable under that particular heading although I would advise all members that if they are going to make a long statement, actually of principle or policy, that that should be done under Statements by Ministers.

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

[Page 374]

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

RESOLUTION NO. 216

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

Whereas it is more than two months since the present government won 35 per cent of the seats in this House with 35 per cent of the popular vote; and

Whereas the voters have ensured that no Party can dictate all of its policies to this House and the voters deserve similar respect when this House is not sitting; and

Whereas six days of new-found Liberal cooperation have not yet produced a single change in government policies to respect the voters' wishes;

Therefore be it resolved that the House urges the government to present a list of policies and specific programs endorsed by at least two Party platforms in the recent election which the government will undertake immediately.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Kings West.

RESOLUTION NO. 217

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

Whereas in launching his infamous one-plank platform on March 4th, Premier MacLellan said, "And to ensure that the room is there to handle this increased access to treatment, 170 additional long-term care beds will be apportioned across the province"; and

Whereas on Tuesday the Premier said, "With respect to long-term care, the long-term care has to be decided upon by the regional hospital boards. We don't have the power to tell them how many beds they are going to have in a particular regional health area."; and

[Page 375]

Whereas on Wednesday Health Minister Jim Smith hinted of yet another broken promise when he said, ". . . the promise of new beds was made and in the range of 170. Not all long-term care necessarily . . .";

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier and the Minister of Health review the Premier's commitment on March 4th and recognize that they will be held accountable for failing to deliver in full the promises they made to the people of Nova Scotia during the election campaign.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.

RESOLUTION NO. 218

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

Whereas people who live in a democracy expect government to respect the voters and to take heed of the mandate given them by those voters; and

Whereas these Liberals have this week begun to co-operate with Opposition Parties on matters of House management and House business only to the extent normally practised by a majority government; and

Whereas voters have a right to expect a new degree of cooperation and openness from any government in this situation;

Therefore be it resolved that this House urges the government to stop trying to win the last election and start putting in place a more truly cooperative approach to House business that respects the clear mandate given by Nova Scotia voters.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Chester-St. Margaret's.

RESOLUTION NO. 219

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

[Page 376]

Whereas the Liberal Government in the Speech from the Throne confirmed the return of a family physician from Mississippi to Bedford and quoted him saying, "There's no place like home"; and

Whereas the community of Bedford is known to be blessed with many more practising doctors than other communities in Nova Scotia and the emergency rooms of the Dartmouth General and QE II providing additional medical security; and

Whereas the community of New Ross and surrounding villages have been without any family physician for more than three years, leaving about 3,000 rural Nova Scotians without any primary or emergency health care whatsoever, and having in the case of medical emergency to rely on the services of their volunteer firefighters only;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Health acknowledges that there is a place called 'home' outside metro which urgently needs a doctor.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Centre.

RESOLUTION NO. 220

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 awarding of a $90,000 contract to study the impact of Sable gas development on Cape Breton is like closing the proverbial barn door after the horse is stolen; and

Whereas the awarding of this contract is a much belated response to the concerns of municipal, labour and business about the possible negative impact of gas development on Cape Breton Island; and

Whereas municipal, labour and business leaders had to get the Liberal Government's attention by challenging the Sable project in court before the Liberal Government would even do a belated, after the fact study;

[Page 377]

Therefore be it resolved that this House condemns the Liberal Government for going ahead with the Sable project without giving a second thought to its negative impact on Cape Breton.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Community Services.

[2:15 p.m.]

RESOLUTION NO. 221

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

Whereas the schools within the riding of Bedford-Fall River have a tradition of excellence in musical competitions; and

Whereas the concert and jazz bands and the jazz choir of Charles P. Allen High School, under the leadership of Gary Adams, recently competed in the International Ovation Musical Festival in New York City; and

Whereas the concert band earned gold, the jazz band, first-place silver and the jazz choir was awarded second-place silver, with Keith Madison and Sylvia Abi-Khattar earning individual soloist first-place awards;

Therefore be it resolved that this House applaud the outstanding achievement of the Charles P. Allen High School musical director and his students, whose dedication and hard work resulted in such a fine accomplishment.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party.

[Page 378]

RESOLUTION NO. 222

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

Whereas workers at Nova Scotia Power's Trenton generating plant were recently honoured for having 1,000 workdays without a lost-time accident; and

Whereas Nova Scotia Power officials, as well as Department of Labour representatives, presented the workers at the plant with two plaques of achievement; and

Whereas the generating station reached its 1,000 day milestone on May 11, 1998;

Therefore be it resolved that the House recognize the outstanding record of safety at Nova Scotia Power's Trenton generating station and commend all those at the plant for positioning safety as the plant's first and foremost priority.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Halifax Citadel.

RESOLUTION NO. 223

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

Whereas the National Task Force on the Year 2000 computer problem has advised that failure to achieve Year 2000 compliance may well result in critical disruption of the services to the public and the possibility of economic disaster; and

Whereas the national task force has stated in its report, A Call for Action, that encouraging compliance by all government contractors is one key way to assure Year 2000 goals are reached; and

[Page 379]

Whereas the national task force has advised that small and medium-sized businesses need information and direction from government in order to achieve compliance and thereby avoid ruin;

Therefore be it resolved that this House call on the Nova Scotia Liberal Government to immediately fulfil both the letter and the spirit of all the recommendations of the National Task Force on the Year 2000, for example by including Year 2000 compliance in all tender calls and by providing the business community with vital information and direction.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Nova.

RESOLUTION NO. 224

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

Whereas there is more good news concerning successful steel orders for the Sydney Steel Corporation and its workforce; and

Whereas orders for steel have recently been obtained from Peru, Brazil and Canadian Pacific for rail and rolled forged blooms; and

Whereas these successful results reflect favourably on the efforts of the Sydney Steel workforce, management and the leadership shown by the government minister responsible for Sydney Steel, the Honourable W. Manning MacDonald, C.D.;

Therefore be it resolved that this House ought to put petty political squabbling aside and support the efforts of the steelworkers, the company management, and the government minister who is doing such an excellent job on behalf of Sydney Steel.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for waiver of notice.

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

I heard a No.

The notice is tabled.

AN HON. MEMBER: The NDP says no.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled. (Laughter)

[Page 380]

The honourable member for Kings North.

RESOLUTION NO. 225

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

Whereas the Registered Nurses Association of Nova Scotia has presented Excellence in Nursing Practice Awards to six Nova Scotia nurses; and

Whereas Sherette Currie, a staff nurse at the Nova Scotia Hospital, is the top winner in the Atlantic region, with the other award-winning nurses being: Carol Galliott, a staff nurse with the VON in Kentville; Evelyn Grew of the St. Francis Xavier University Nursing Department; Irene Kendall at Fishermen's Memorial; Eileen MacDonald at Northside Harbour View Hospital; and Betty Theriault at the Colchester Regional Hospital; and

Whereas these hard-working nurses are all very deserving of the awards presented to them and display the kind of excellent health care Nova Scotia is capable of providing;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of the House of Assembly congratulate these nurses on their superior performances as caregivers and thank the other hard-working men and women who serve as nurses across our province.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask for waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: There is a request for waiver of notice.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury.

RESOLUTION NO. 226

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

[Page 381]

Whereas tomorrow, Friday, May 29th, marks the official opening of the new supercalendered paper machine at Stora in Port Hawkesbury; and

Whereas this machine represents an investment of $750 million in the community of Port Hawkesbury and area; and

Whereas the installation of this machine has provided hundreds of jobs during the construction phase while at the same time creating hundreds of spinoff jobs in the community;

Therefore be it resolved that this House extend to Stora congratulations and best wishes on the opening of its new mill and express its thanks for Stora's confidence in the Strait area.

Mr. Speaker, I would request waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: There is a request for waiver of notice.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Sackville-Beaver Bank.

RESOLUTION NO. 227

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

Whereas the community of Beaver Bank has been experiencing severe traffic flow problems for some time now and unfortunate accidents over the past year resulting in death and injury on the Beaver Bank Road; and

Whereas the Department of Transportation has already identified lands and developed plans for a Beaver Bank by-pass, which it has already taken to the public for its comment and approval; and

Whereas that same department has indicated this much-needed project will not even be started for the next 5 to 10 years;

[Page 382]

Therefore be it resolved that this House calls on the government to speed up this process as desired by the people of Beaver Bank and build a by-pass which will alleviate traffic problems and make the Beaver Bank Road much safer for pedestrians, bicyclists and other motorists.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: There is a request for waiver.

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cumberland South.

RESOLUTION NO. 228

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

Whereas senior citizens of Nova Scotia, many of whom are veterans of World War II and possibly disabled and many on fixed incomes, have paved the way for future generations; and

Whereas senior citizens deserve the respect and support of all Nova Scotians and should not be denied an opportunity which they may only be able to take advantage once or twice annually because of poor health; and

Whereas this Liberal Government brought into effect provincial licensing fees for seniors to fish in this province;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House support the seniors of this province and prove to them their value to all Nova Scotians and encourage this government to remove the fees on provincial fishing licenses for seniors in Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: There is a request for waiver of notice.

Is it agreed?

[Page 383]

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Kings West.

RESOLUTION NO. 229

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

Whereas the Premier is quoted in today's newspaper as saying, "I mean, I'm desperate. I'm a desperate man,"; and

Whereas the Premier's desperation is self-inflicted, brought on by his desperate attempt to win the hearts, minds and votes of Liberals and subsequently Nova Scotians with one desperate promise after the next; and

Whereas there are likely many reasons for the Premier's desperation including at least four missed self-imposed deadlines for providing HST relief, at least a half dozen self-imposed deadlines for producing school leases, confusion over his on again-off again-on again stand on the Auditor General's review of P3 schools, confusion over his on again-off again-on again stand on injured workers, failure to deliver on his Sable gas promises and his total failure in convincing Ottawa to address or reverse any one of a dozen stick-it-to-you Nova Scotia initiatives;

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier resolve to end his desperation by getting his facts straight, by keeping his promises and by being a lot more forceful and aggressive in dealing with his former federal colleagues in Ottawa.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

RESOLUTION NO. 230

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

[Page 384]

Whereas this government has persistently spurned the Auditor General's strong recommendation, endorsed in two Party platforms, that his office audit the province's financial statements; and

Whereas yesterday the Education Minister stated that Deloitte & Touche, the Cabinet-chosen, Liberal-connected auditors, would brief the Opposition to try to gain support for P3 financing; and

Whereas the minister repeatedly referred to Deloitte & Touche as our auditors when describing this plan;

Therefore be it resolved that this is unacceptable for Nova Scotia to be the only province whose financial statements are not audited by the independent officer of the Legislature and equally unacceptable for ministers to use their hired auditors as paid lobbyists for Liberal policies.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Digby-Annapolis.

RESOLUTION NO. 231

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

Whereas transportation expenses related to highway travel account for approximately 20 per cent, or about $150 million, of out-of-province tourist spending annually; and

Whereas transportation expenses related to highway travel account for approximately 44 per cent, or about $179 million, of annual vacation travel spending by resident Nova Scotians; and

Whereas the Corporate Research Associates, in a recent report to the Department of Economic Development and Tourism, cited the overall quality of roads as an area requiring improvements in Nova Scotia;

[Page 385]

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Transportation and Public Works commit this day to the development of a detailed, non-partisan, long-range highway repair and construction program so that tourists and residents alike will be able to enjoy the benefits of a safe highway system.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

That resolution was a little long.

The honourable member for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour.

RESOLUTION NO. 232

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

Whereas celebrations begin today marking the inauguration of the PM2 Supercalendered paper machine at Stora Port Hawkesbury; and

Whereas the new paper machine, the widest and fastest supercalendered paper machine in the world, will strengthen and solidify Stora Port Hawkesbury's role in the Nova Scotia economy; and

Whereas Stora sets a positive example for corporate Nova Scotia by investing its own money in the $750 million project;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate Stora Port Hawkesbury on completion of the supercalendered mega project and express the hope that Stora will be a positive presence in the Nova Scotia economy for years to come.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

[Page 386]

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Truro-Bible Hill.

RESOLUTION NO. 233

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

Whereas a section of Robie Street, one of the major entrances to Truro, contains one set of lights, 25 chances to turn in one direction and 18 in the other, and a daily number of vehicles that is 120 per cent of the recommended capacity; and

Whereas this eight-tenths of a kilometre section, which extends from Highway No. 102 to Juniper Street in Truro, has more accidents per kilometre than any other stretch of road in Nova Scotia; and

Whereas the number of potholes and craters which frequently appear in the road are a contributing factor to the number of accidents;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Transportation and Public Works instruct his department to ensure that preventive maintenance on the section of road for which it is responsible, is carried out regularly enough to prevent potholes and pavement craters from being a contributor to motor vehicle accidents.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.

RESOLUTION NO. 234

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 Minister of Education says instead of the independent provincial auditor, he wants the government's hand-picked accounting firm Deloitte & Touche to help sell the Opposition Parties on the merits of P3 schools; and

Whereas the provincial auditor, in his most recent report, says one can't make a decision on P3 schools without a clear understanding of costs and benefits including comprehensive risk analysis; and

[Page 387]

Whereas the provincial auditor's report also states that the economy and efficiency of P3 schools can only be determined after final lease agreements covering aspects like operations and technology refreshment are negotiated;

Therefore be it resolved that this House demand that the auditing of P3 be subject to the rigorous standards of the provincial auditor, a servant of this House, not those of the government's hired auditors.

[2:30 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Queens.

RESOLUTION NO. 235

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

Whereas the Liberal Government has allowed Nova Scotia's road system to deteriorate alarmingly over the past five years; and

Whereas the insufficient funding that has been made available for highway maintenance and improvement since 1993 has been expended with clear political bias; and

Whereas the Liberals five years ago promised to take the politics out of paving;

Therefore be it resolved that the Liberal Government establish the objective highway expenditure criteria it promised in 1993, make the consequent construction schedule public and apply the criteria to the 1998 construction season.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

RESOLUTION NO. 236

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

Whereas yesterday in celebration of National Access Awareness Week members of this Assembly and persons from disability advocacy groups and organizations gathered to discuss ways in which public policy could better address the needs of disabled citizens; and

[Page 388]

Whereas this was also an occasion to publicly recognize groups, individuals, organizations and businesses whose work has made a significant contribution to advancing the interests of persons with disabilities in our province; and

Whereas the National Access Awareness Week Hourglass Action Award was given to Dr. Joan E. Cummings, a strong advocate for disability issues for many years, who has served as Chairperson of the Disabled Persons Commission, and whose current research as an adjunct professor at the Maritime School of Social Work is a project that will advance the integration of persons with disabilities into the workforce;

Therefore be it resolved that this Assembly congratulate Dr. Cummings on her award and thank her for her leadership and tenacity in the disability rights movement.

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 member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

RESOLUTION NO. 237

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

Whereas the last place you would expect to see any government turn for savings is by attacking poor seniors that receive the Guaranteed Income Supplement; and

Whereas buried deep inside the fine print of federal Bill C-36, the Budget Implementation Act 1998, measures are contained that will require poor seniors to succumb to a difficult income test regarding a clawback of vital income, which is necessary to help poor seniors make ends meet; and

Whereas the federal Chretien Liberals vouched and bragged that they will save $14 million a year by clawing back an additional 10 per cent from poor seniors across Nova Scotia and Canada thus making it even harder for poor seniors to scrape by;

[Page 389]

Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia Legislature does not support changes to the Guaranteed Income Supplement Income text contained in Bill C-36 that will further disadvantage our poor seniors in Nova Scotia and across Canada.

I seek waiver, Mr. Speaker.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect.

RESOLUTION NO. 238

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

Whereas negotiations have stalled with the Highway Workers' Union because of a lack of cooperation from this government; and

Whereas these workers have continued to faithfully perform their duties during this busy time of the year while patiently waiting for the government negotiators to begin seriously to bargain in good faith; and

Whereas the disdain for the bargaining process again indicates this government's lack of commitment to workers in this province;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Transportation show some leadership and demand that government negotiators get on with reaching a fair settlement with our highway workers.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Pictou East.

RESOLUTION NO. 239

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

[Page 390]

Whereas it has become more and more obvious with each passing day that the Chretien Government is following a stick-it-to-Nova Scotia agenda; and

Whereas there are numerous examples of Ottawa's unfair treatment of Nova Scotia, including handing us over 16 per cent of the federal job cuts, the unfair treatment of the Port of Halifax and Halifax International Airport in relation to other ports and airports across the country, military base closures, transfers and refusal to provide drought assistance to Nova Scotia farmers, to name but a few; and

Whereas the latest example of Ottawa's stick-it-to-Nova Scotia agenda was its decision to ignore applications from all four Nova Scotia companies and to allocate the full 28,000 metric tonnes of northern shrimp to Newfoundland;

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier stop rolling over and playing dead every time Ottawa sticks it to us and that he begin standing up for Nova Scotia's interests.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Preston.

RESOLUTION NO. 240

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

Whereas the Canadian Armed Forces are well served by the dignity and dedication of their women members, including many Nova Scotian women; and

Whereas it is never acceptable that women be subject to sexual assault and sexual harassment, and both the Canadian and Nova Scotian Governments have condemned sexual misconduct of any kind; and

Whereas women have faced numerous barriers in the struggle for equality, and sexual misconduct in the military served only to undermine their hard-won advances;

Therefore be it resolved that this House condemn all forms of sexual abuse in the Canadian Armed Forces and strongly urge the federal government to take immediate and comprehensive action to eliminate this problem.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver of notice.

[Page 391]

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Kings North.

RESOLUTION NO. 241

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

Whereas the Nova Scotia beef industry is presently facing a crisis of major proportions and cannot get a commitment from this government as to whether it will keep in place the Nova Scotia Beef Commission; and

Whereas on average the drought in the summer of 1997 resulted in beef producers losing about $250 per head; and

Whereas one Cumberland County beef farmer reported the drought cost him $266,000;

Therefore be it resolved that since this Liberal Government initiated a Task Force on the Nova Scotia Beef Industry and was recently provided with a report containing 22 recommendations, the Minister of Agriculture and Marketing move immediately to begin implementation of at least the first two recommendations, providing the Nova Scotia beef industry with some form of stability while protecting the thousands of jobs connected with the beef industry.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for waiver of notice.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Too long.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

I would remind the member . . .

MR. ARCHIBALD: I asked for waiver of notice, Mr. Speaker.

[Page 392]

MR. SPEAKER: I hear a No.

That notice of motion was a little long.

The honourable member for Cape Breton The Lakes.

RESOLUTION NO. 242

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

Whereas the Liberal Government's ideologically motivated P3 approach to school non-construction is proving to be another costly blunder; and

Whereas these ideologically and politically driven blunders are hurting school children by delaying much-needed schools and diverting funds from the classroom into the pockets of the corporate friends of the Liberal Party; and

Whereas the ideologically driven P3 is wasting funds that should go to school boards like the Cape Breton-Victoria board, which is being short-changed $2 million by this Liberal Government;

Therefore be it resolved that this House demand that the Liberal Government stop trying to preserve this P3 mess and consult with the other Parties in this House on a fair and economical plan for the construction of much-needed schools in Nova Scotia.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Truro-Bible Hill.

RESOLUTION NO. 243

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

Whereas the Halifax Regional Municipality has donated land for a new community garden in Murray Warrington Park; and

Whereas students, the public and dignitaries took part in the official tree-planting ceremony on May 7th for the scheduled opening of the garden in July; and

[Page 393]

Whereas this generous donation is helping to bring people, young and old, from the North End together for the betterment of the community and to be able to enjoy the fruits, plants and vegetables of their labour;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of the House of Assembly extend gratitude to the people of the Halifax Regional Municipality for the gift to the chairman of the garden's task force, Nigel Miller, and to everyone else who has given time and energy to make the community garden project.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: There is 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 Fairview.

RESOLUTION NO. 244

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

Whereas this government has clearly stated, both in the House and outside, its support for the Employability Assistance for Persons with Disabilities program; and

Whereas yesterday in this House the government denied waiver of notice on a motion to provide resources for consultation with disabled groups which would make it an effective program; and

Whereas this denial of waiver was likely inadvertent;

Therefore be it resolved that the government provide a mechanism and resources for substantive meaningful consultation with groups and individuals in the disabled community to ensure the success of the Employability Assistance for Persons with Disabilities program.

I seek waiver of notice, Mr. Speaker.

[Page 394]

MR. SPEAKER: There is a request for waiver.

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Lunenburg.

RESOLUTION NO. 245

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

Whereas the Mahone Bay Founders' Society was formed to promote the heritage of Mahone Bay; and

Whereas 10 years ago the Mahone Bay Founders' Society purchased a building on South Main Street in which the society has established the Mahone Bay Settlers' Museum and Cultural Centre which is a source of great pride to the community; and

Whereas the Mahone Bay Founders' Society has a strong group of dedicated volunteers and staff who have continued to promote the public appreciation of our heritage and culture;

Therefore be it resolved that the House of Assembly congratulate the Mahone Bay Founders' Society on the 10th Anniversary of the present site of the Mahone Bay Settlers' Museum and Cultural Centre and the reopening of the museum for another season.

I ask for waiver of notice, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: There is a request for waiver.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

[Page 395]

RESOLUTION NO. 246

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

Whereas 102 learners participated in the 1997-98 Literacy/Adult Upgrading Programs of the Halifax Regional Library; and

Whereas these learners were tutored by volunteers in programs ranging from basic literacy to GED preparation; and

Whereas participation in these upgrading programs not only builds on the skills of the individuals involved but contributes to family literacy;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the learners, their tutors and program coordinators, in particular Colleen Ashworth, coordinator at the Captain William Spry Public Library, and her 16 volunteer tutors and 25 learners as they conduct their graduation ceremonies this week.

I seek waiver of notice, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: There is a request for waiver.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Pictou East.

RESOLUTION NO. 247

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

Whereas the present Liberal Government has the majority of volunteer fire departments across Nova Scotia upset and angry with this Liberal Government's attitude toward dealing with them; and

[Page 396]

Whereas the president of the Pictou County Firefighters Association, Don MacKenzie, was recently quoted as saying, "We're going to more and more incidents where there's not a fire . . . and treating people instead of firefighting"; and

Whereas with the decrease in ambulances across the province that was initiated by this Liberal Government, fire departments in Pictou County are now being dispatched if an ambulance is expected to take longer than 10 minutes in reaching the scene of a medical emergency;

Therefore be it resolved that the Ministers of Health and Labour immediately undertake to relieve the stress being placed upon fire departments across Nova Scotia by enacting stronger legislation protecting them against liability, while increasing the number of ambulances in certain locations so that medical emergency calls are reduced for the fire departments.

[2:45 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.

RESOLUTION NO. 248

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

Whereas Maclean Comstock, a 17 year old Sackville High student, won one bronze and five gold medals, the most won by any athlete in canoeing, during the 1997 Canada Games in Brandon, Manitoba; and

Whereas Maclean, this past weekend, became the first person to be named to the Canadian Junior European Tour Team by winning both of her qualifying races at Montreal Basin; and

Whereas Maclean Comstock will be representing her community, canoe club, province and Canada at the Copenhagen International Regatta between June 5th and June 7th and at the Bochum International Regatta in Germany between June 12th and June 14th;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate Maclean Comstock on her past canoeing accomplishments and extend our best wishes to her for success in Denmark and Germany.

Mr. Speaker, I would request waiver of notice.

[Page 397]

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Agriculture.

MR. EDWARD LORRAINE: Mr. Speaker, I would like to draw to your attention and to all members of the House, a former member of this House that served for a quarter of a century and I would ask Mr. Brown and his former EA to rise and receive the warm welcome of the House. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Digby-Annapolis.

RESOLUTION NO. 249

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

Whereas the provincial fire marshal has ordered schools to limit the display of class assignments and projects and artwork covering interior walls; and

Whereas school safety is important, but equally so is the need to display children's artwork and visual teaching aids, particularly in the earlier grades where much of the student's classwork is not textbook-based; and

Whereas the new regulations eliminate the time-honoured tradition of showing children's schoolwork as a means to promote and develop school pride, positive self-esteem and self-worth, all of which further depersonalizes the public school setting;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Labour request a meeting with the provincial fire marshal so as to review the regulations affecting the display of students' work in public schools.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Sackville-Beaver Bank.

[Page 398]

RESOLUTION NO. 250

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

Whereas Nova Scotians have learned that the federal Liberal Government provides staff and a prime Parliament Hill office for retired Senator Allan MacEachen; and

Whereas the same federal Liberal Government slashed UI benefits for Nova Scotians who are laid off through no fault of their own, hit the poor with the BST and made the biggest health cuts in Canadian history; and

Whereas this federal government sends the Premier away empty-handed whenever he goes to Ottawa seeking a political lifeline;

Therefore be it resolved that in the opinion of this House, a federal government that can afford to maintain a retired Nova Scotian in fine style in Ottawa, can afford a fair standard of public services and fair taxes for the Nova Scotians who actually live in this province.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cumberland South. (Interruptions)

The member for Cumberland South has the floor.

RESOLUTION NO. 251

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

Whereas the theme A Proud History . . . A Challenging Future is appropriate for the celebration of 125 years of service by the men and women in our Royal Canadian Mounted Police force; and

Whereas from the force's beginning, as those establishing order in the frontier regions of Canada, the RCMP has grown in numbers and duties and now ensures peace and security in communities across our country; and

[Page 399]

Whereas the duties of the RCMP over the last 125 years have grown to include drug enforcement, commercial crime, traffic law enforcement, Aboriginal Policing Program and computer crime, among others;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House offer our congratulations to the upstanding men and women of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police force who put their lives on the line daily to ensure the safety and security of the people in communities across this country.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

RESOLUTION NO. 252

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

Whereas a surplus in the federal unemployment insurance account is growing nearly $1 billion a month this year and stands at nearly $16 billion; and

Whereas the federal Minister Paul Martin has reaped this surplus largely at the expense of workers who are paying high premiums for an insurance program that now covers only 4 out of 10 unemployed workers; and

Whereas Martin's EI cutbacks have cost Nova Scotians hundreds of millions of dollars per year and put added pressure on the jobless Nova Scotians and the province's social safety net;

Therefore be it resolved that this House tell Paul Martin that reforms are desperately needed to an insurance system in which nearly 60 per cent of the country's jobless are not entitled to unemployment benefits.

[Page 400]

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

RESOLUTION NO. 253

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

Whereas the 1996 Statistics Canada report ranked truck driving as the number one most common job across Canada; and

Whereas 6,570 Nova Scotians are part of the total number of 227,310 Canadians employed by the trucking industry; and

Whereas over the past five years truckers across Nova Scotia have essentially had war declared upon them by this present Liberal Government which forced many into bankruptcy by increasing the provincial haulage rate, by increasing the fuel tax, by increasing the sales tax, by the establishment of a tire tax, while also imposing a toll tax on our Trans Canada Highway;

Therefore be it resolved that this Liberal Government immediately cease with its demented aggression against truckers and begin understanding and appreciating the valuable contribution the number one industry in this land makes to our Nova Scotia economy.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect.

RESOLUTION NO. 254

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

Whereas recreational facilities remain a top priority for the residents of the growing constituency of Timberlea-Prospect; and

[Page 401]

Whereas the volunteer members of the board of directors of the St. Margaret's Arena Association are continually striving to make this facility, which consists of an Olympic-sized ice surface, an outdoor swimming pool and a community hall, a focal point in the community; and

Whereas the arena board has recently conducted interviews during the hiring process for a new manager of this facility;

Therefore be it resolved that this House offer its congratulations to Mike LeRue who was the successful candidate as the new manager of the St. Margaret's Arena.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cumberland North.

RESOLUTION NO. 255

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

Whereas May is Gaelic Culture Awareness Month which this year celebrates 225 years of heritage here in Nova Scotia; and

Whereas during the month of May various events are being held throughout the province in honour of the Celtic culture brought over from Scotland many years ago; and

Whereas Nova Scotia is the only place in North America to uphold the advancement of the Gaelic language and customs that are part of the backbone of our province;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of the House of Assembly commend the Nova Scotia Gaelic Council, the Gaelic community, and to all the participants in this year's Gaelic Cultural Awareness Month for helping to maintain, enhance and advance a language and a culture so rich in heritage and beauty.

[Page 402]

Mr. Speaker, it is my privilege to ask for waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: There is a request for waiver of notice.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

RESOLUTION NO. 256

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

Whereas there is mounting evidence that the P3 approach leads to construction cost overruns like Harrison high and expensive operating leases like the one for O'Connell Drive school; and

Whereas the Minister of Education convinces no one when he protests that his expensive P3 farce is being done on behalf of school children; and

Whereas the truth is that the Liberal P3 fiasco has halted the construction of needed schools, has already sucked hundreds of thousands of dollars out of the education system and will remove millions more if it is not stopped;

Therefore be it resolved that in the interests of school children this House demands the scrapping of the P3 and its immediate replacement with a fair and fiscally sound program for the construction of much-needed schools.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Queens.

RESOLUTION NO. 257

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

[Page 403]

Whereas Coffin's Island Lighthouse is an essential aid to navigation on the South Shore and particularly with respect to Liverpool Bay; and

Whereas a serious erosion problem is occurring at the base of the lighthouse which is threatening the stability of the structure; and

Whereas the federal government, which is responsible for lighthouses, has to date been slow to act on this matter which requires immediate attention;

Therefore be it resolved that the House of Assembly urges the Government of Canada immediately to undertake whatever action is required to ensure the integrity of Coffin's Island Lighthouse as an essential aid to navigation and thereby literally prevent it from collapsing into the sea.

Mr. Speaker, I seek waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: There is a request for waiver of notice.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Chester-St. Margaret's.

RESOLUTION NO. 258

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

Whereas the St. Margaret's Bay is a body of water stretching from Peggy's Cove to Blandford on the South Shore of Nova Scotia; and

Whereas the coastal communities in the St. Margaret's Bay area take great pride in their hospitality and ability to increase tourism; and

Whereas Dennis Pearson from Boutilier's Point has been spearheading incessantly the promotion of the St. Margaret's Bay Gateway Project and designed a concept plan;

[Page 404]

Therefore be it resolved that this plan receive the immediate attention and support by the Departments of Tourism and Transportation so that the St. Margaret's Bay Gateway Project can come to fruition.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: There is a request for waiver of notice.

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cumberland North.

RESOLUTION NO. 259

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

Whereas this is the 25th Anniversary of the Huntington's Foundation;

Whereas the annual Norman Gray Walk for Huntington's Disease will take place on Saturday in Cumberland County, beginning in Wallace and concluding in Amherst; and

Whereas the walk and fund-raiser is held annually in honour of founder Norman Gray who died in 1996 at the age of 58 from Huntington's Disease; and

Whereas other fundraising projects have already taken place throughout Cumberland County in support of Huntington's;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this Legislature commend organizers including local chapter secretary Pam Pye and Beatrice Gray, wife of the late Norman Gray, in their efforts in organizing this walk and wish them every success on Saturday.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: There is a request for waiver of notice.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

[Page 405]

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

The motion is carried.

The notices of motions appear to be particularly long today.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I would just like to ask the Premier to rise and make a statement to the House under Statements by Ministers.

MR. SPEAKER: There has been a request to return to the order of business, Statements by Ministers.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Premier.

HON. RUSSELL MACLELLAN, Q.C. (The Premier): Mr. Speaker, it gives me a great deal of pleasure to make this motion and I believe we have the agreement of all Parties. I think in recognition of distinguished service to his community, to his province and to his country, and is an example of citizens throughout this great province, that the House agree to make Doug Giles, who is now Acting Sergeant-at-Arms, Doug Giles, Sergeant-at-Arms. (Applause)

[3:00 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: Congratulations.

THE PREMIER: If I may, Mr. Speaker, in the same vein, to a person who has been outstanding in this community and this province and a person whom I have not seen for many years until my time as Premier of Nova Scotia but who, many years ago, when I was an articling clerk, helped me tremendously at that time before I was admitted to the Bar, I would move that Art Fordham, Acting Assistant Clerk, be appointed Assistant Clerk of the Legislature. (Applause)

[Page 406]

MR. SPEAKER: Could I ask the Premier, please, to move both in the form of a motion so we can get the . . .

THE PREMIER: Yes, Mr. Speaker. I move that Doug Giles, Acting Sergeant-at-Arms, be made Sergeant-at-Arms.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Premier.

THE PREMIER: I further move that Art Fordham, who is Acting Assistant Clerk, be appointed Assistant Clerk of the Legislature.

MR. SPEAKER: You have heard the motion.

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

The motion is carried.

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, while I am up, I would like to recognize in the gallery a former Mayor of the Town of Sydney Mines, Mr. Hector DiPersio. (Applause)

ORDERS OF THE DAY

ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS

MR. SPEAKER: It is going on 3:04 p.m. We will continue to 4:04 p.m.

The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

EDUC. - SCHOOL CONSTRUCTION: P3 - ALTERNATIVES

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I would like to direct my question through you to the Premier, and it is with respect to the construction of schools in the Province of Nova Scotia and the method by which the province is planning to finance said construction.

On Tuesday, this week, the Premier said that he would look at alternatives to the P3 method - the public-private partnership method - then on Wednesday, the Minister of Education and Culture said that he was arranging what we understand basically to be a P3 sales pitch with his officials, his auditors. I guess I would like to know from the Premier, who

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is right? What is it going to be? What is the plan here? Are we going to have a hard look at the alternatives for financing the construction of schools or are we, in fact, going to be subjected to a sales pitch by the Minister of Education and Culture?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, what we said is that we want to work with the other two Parties and that is our sincere overture in that regard, with respect to new schools in Nova Scotia. We feel people in this province want new schools, particularly the parents of children in schools, and we also feel we do not want to add to the bottom line of this province in doing so. We want to meet with the other two Parties. The Minister of Education and Culture has stated that he is prepared to meet with the other two Parties to give them the information that he has. It is not a sales pitch. We don't feel that we can change the minds, and we are not trying to be condescending to the Opposition, either Party in the Opposition. We just feel that that is information that may be helpful to give you what we have so that you will fully understand our position. We don't say that you have to agree with the position. All we want to do is, before too long, to find a way that we can do these schools together and hopefully that can be done.

MR. CHISHOLM: Well, I think that was a little more clear and I appreciate the offer by the Premier because clearly, as he is suggesting, the fact is that however you finance it, whether it be P3, whether it be, as we have suggested, a Municipal Finance Corporation, or whether it be in the traditional method, the taxpayer pays the bills for much needed schools.

So I guess what I want to do today is ask the Premier whether he will commit today to proceeding immediately with the needed schools starting with the Lantz school, Hammonds Plains schools and the Carrefour school, while a rigorous review of the best financing arrangement is going on. As he has suggested, he wants to participate in a rigorous discussion of the alternatives. I would like to participate in such an analysis. I also want, though, to get the construction commenced on those badly needed schools.

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I completely agree with the Leader of the Opposition. I, too, want to get those schools started as soon as possible. We want to get as many started as soon as we possibly can. I know he sincerely has the same wish as I do. I welcome that position, as does the Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party. What we want to do is meet within the next fews days and determine what we can do, the three of us. Hopefully, we can find a way that we can get around this and we can, in a unified approach, make an application where we can go forward to get these new schools.

All I want to do is to have this chance to work with the other two Leaders and to come to some decision, to ask them what their points of view are and try to bridge any differences. I think it is worth a few days but I sincerely will tell the Leader of the Opposition, Mr. Speaker, that we will pursue where we can to do everything we can even within those next few days but we won't be able to start schools within the next few days but we will, with

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goodwill in all Parties in this House, be able to come to a means of getting these new schools that are so badly needed.

MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate what the Premier has had to say. I want to say this, that the people of Nova Scotia and in particular the communities we have cited and many other communities where they have been promised schools now for sometimes 10 years or 15 years, schools are falling down around the ears of their children, children are being made sick as a result of the condition of some of those schools, I think that we need to make a commitment today here, in this House, that we are going to construct those badly needed schools. I am prepared to do that, as Leader of the Official Opposition. At the same time, we are going to participate in a rigorous review of financing methods but I believe I have a commitment and I believe all members of this House have a commitment to the people out there, to the parents and the children, that we are going to commit ourselves, regardless of the wrangling around financing alternatives, we are going to commit ourselves to those schools on the critical list.

So again I ask the Premier, Mr. Speaker, will he commit today to the immediate construction of those schools on the critical list, and I mentioned the top three, . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Put the question.

MR. CHISHOLM: . . . while we are participating in a rigorous review of alternative financing methods?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, there is no question we are committing to those schools that the Leader of the Opposition has mentioned plus many other schools. What we want to do is to review with the other two Parties what we have done so far to see what is agreeable with the other two Parties and to say where the differences are, where we go from here. We are going to proceed with the new schools as much as we can but we need a mechanism that is agreed to by all Parties. We feel that is the proper way to go. What we want to do is to tell the other two Parties what we have done so far, is that agreeable to them to that point and what do we have to do to get all-Party agreement and how we go the rest of the distance.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party.

HEALTH - HEPATITIS C: COMPENSATION PACKAGE - STATUS

DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Premier. All members of the House are aware of the tremendous tragedy that has befallen those in Nova Scotia and across this country, those who received blood transfusions and subsequently only to find that they had been infected with hepatitis C virus. I have been having correspondence with the Premier on this issue and in response to a direct request, I do have a response from the

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Premier in which the Premier stated to me, "An agreement has been reached for individuals who were infected between January 1984 and June 1990.".

My question to the Premier. As the answer to my letter is clearly different than the responses that the Minister of Health has been publicly stating and that is that the window of compensation is 1986 to 1990, would the Premier indicate if there has been a change in the position of his government regarding the compensation package and the window that will be used to apply that compensation to victims here in Nova Scotia?

THE PREMIER: I apologize to the Leader of the Conservative Party. That may be a typographical error, but I will ask the Minister of Health to answer this question, if I might.

HON. JAMES SMITH: Nova Scotia was one of the leaders within the federal-provincial Health Ministers program that was involved in bringing forward national support programs for victims of hepatitis C and initially between the window of 1986 to 1990. At our most recent meeting of the ministers with the federal Minister of Health, it was from that meeting that we have gone forward to look at options how the program could best be served. There was a $1.1 billion program initially for a national support program.

We are now looking at the ramifications and the implications of expanding that program to all victims of hepatitis C, how that will be determined, whether there will be needed to be new money committed, but in Nova Scotia we have committed between $10 million to $12 million into that program. The numbers, as the Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party realizes, are lower and maybe we will be able to do more with the same amount of money.

DR. HAMM: The minister has suggested that somehow he believes that Nova Scotia has taken a leadership role in compensating hepatitis C victims and I certainly see it otherwise. The leadership role has been taken by other provinces, unlike the situation when this province took the leadership role in compensating victims who received HIV from blood transfusions. Clearly, the minister has not taken a leadership role.

I go on to relate to the minister's letter to me on May 22nd. Over the signature of the Premier, the Premier says, "In the next few weeks provincial, territorial and federal officials will be reviewing all aspects around hepatitis C compensation.".

Has the Premier instructed his Minister of Health, his provincial official, to look at a broader application of compensation to the victims of hepatitis C who received that hepatitis C virus from transfusions here in Nova Scotia? Have you instructed your Minister of Health to take a broader look at compensation of victims here in Nova Scotia?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I have asked the Minister of Health to look at the whole picture, in conjunction of course with the federal government and other provinces but I would ask the Minister of Health to elaborate further.

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DR. SMITH: I can briefly say that the Premier and I have had discussions on this matter. We want to be a team player with the other provinces. This is a very complex issue, it has been a failure of a system that was put in place to protect lives and to save lives. These people were very ill often and they did receive the gift of life but over a long period of time some of them will pay with their lives. This is a very serious matter and it's long term and it has to be very thoughtfully done.

[3:15 p.m.]

We have not committed to any other program because, as I mentioned in my earlier answer, we are awaiting the ramifications of moving into other areas and looking at those that have received hepatitis C from blood transfusions outside of the window. I will say that in answer to about leadership, some of provinces that have now broken rank on the announcements of the Premier, the Premiers of the province varying with the Ministers of Health. It has not been that way in this province, the Premier and I have worked together on this and we were at the table early . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The answer is getting a little long.

DR. SMITH: . . . in Nova Scotia, before other provinces were and some of those now are taking some credit that, really, I don't think is well-deserved by them.

DR. HAMM: Mr. Speaker, well certainly this province is not in line to receive any credit for its stand to this point. My final question to the Minister of Health is, finally the federal minister has revised downward the estimate of the number of victims who have received hepatitis C from tainted blood in the country.

Does the minister now have a number or an estimate of the number of victims of hepatitis C infection from tainted blood in Nova Scotia, whether or not they received it during the 1986-1990 window or whether or not they received it outside that window, the total number, the estimate that this minister is using to calculate his program regarding compensation for hepatitis C victims?

DR. SMITH: I will thank the honourable member for this question. I think this is an excellent question, because in Nova Scotia while in his opinion, maybe we haven't been out in front but we have tried to be team players on this issue, because this is a long-term issue. This is going to go on for 20 and 30, 50 years perhaps. But, we have had one of the earlier look back, trace back programs to identify those that have been infected with hepatitis C from blood transfusions. We have moved now into the IWK Hospital. The records are very spotty, but we are doing a good job here in Nova Scotia.

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We had thought initially there might be 660 perhaps that would have been infected. We are now finding perhaps that those numbers may be about half. We have identified to date about 148, 150 within the window 1986 to 1990 and we project probably the same number earlier on. So you can look at that.

I think that's good news, although there are people out there that haven't been tested. We in Nova Scotia, one of the Krever recommendations, one of the strong recommendations was that these programs of searching, look back, trace back, should be put in place and Nova Scotia was one of the first ones to do that. There was a cost of $1 million to do that, but we think that is important, that we can change the lifestyle of people. This is not a simple matter of financial compensation only, there are other things that we have to look at.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

EDUC. - CHIGNECTO CENTRAL SCHOOL BOARD:

COMPUTERS - COSTS

MS. EILEEN O'CONNELL: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Education. As you know and as the minister certainly knows, there is a P3 middle school to be built in East Hants, and the Chignecto School Board recently negotiated a deal with Apple Computer for 30 laptops for this new middle school. Now the board was not allowed to complete the deal, which would have seen the computers purchased at a reduced price. Instead they were forced to pay through the private consortium about $500 more per laptop.

So my question for the Minister of Education is this. Why is it acceptable to this Minister of Education that this school board was forced to pay a $500 mark-up on each laptop, taking $15,000 directly out of the classroom?

HON. ROBERT HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, as I mentioned yesterday, we will undoubtedly repeat this theme as an element of any contract that is taken out of context. In fact, I met with the Chignecto Central Board a few weeks ago and we discussed this very matter. There is an educational price that Apple offers school districts in this province. The overall envelope for the Hants East Middle School is one that that board approves and even recognizes that the other additional costs and savings more than offset the additional price of a particular item and are pleased - not only are they pleased, but the parents are pleased - with the overall direction and the shape that that school is taking.

MS. O'CONNELL: Mr. Speaker, it seems very odd to me that when a computer has a market price of a certain number of dollars and the consortium becomes the middleman and the price goes up by $500, that doesn't sound like a saving to me no matter what else is going on.

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I think the question has to be asked. Nova Scotians want to know, they need to know and they have a right to know. Is there any ceiling to this price or is no price too high for the government doling out money to its hand-picked friends and political friends, Mr. Speaker?

MR. HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, when we talk about a Party that is willing and open to look at school construction and alternatives, I would respond in part to the Leader of the Opposition who indicated that next week's briefing will be a one-way street. Quite the opposite, as the Premier has said, if the Municipal Finance Corporation provides a certain alternative, we would be more than interested to look at that.

The issue here is whether or not cost savings are identified in the process and whether or not the private sector can satisfy boards, and through them children and parents, with the overall cost savings. Yesterday, the member for Halifax Fairview introduced a contract, erroneously called more expensive, less savings for students. As it turns out, the board signed the contract because there were additional dollars that could come to the children, as she will find when she explores in detail the operations of the TR3LC consortium with respect to Hants East middle school.

MS. O'CONNELL: Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Education can talk all he wants about alternatives, but a bad deal is not an alternative and when you have a consortium of which one of the partners is IBM and you jack up the price of the Apple computers by $500, that is not an alternative; it is a bad deal.

So I want to ask the minister right now, will he make sure that from now on school boards will have the right to get the best deal possible rather than imposing these additional costs on them through the P3 process?

MR. HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite tabled an erroneous document yesterday, which we have corrected today, by the very school board. I would offer that the member opposite should perhaps make phone calls to the superintendents and the facilities managers of these boards to determine the kinds of conversations that I am having with them. Boards are partners in the P3 process. They are partners in the design of the school. They are partners in the selection of the very consortium that she labels as some sort of patronage appointment; in fact, they helped make the selection. Then they go on to design cost-effective delivery of quality schools, supplies, technology, to the children of this province.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party.

HEALTH: CARE - STATUS

DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Premier. On March 4th, the Premier finally realized that health care delivery in this province was in a mess and he talked about the concerns that his Party had. He talked about a number of things. He talked about

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waiting too long for EEGs, CAT scans, hip replacements, eye surgery, no access to obstetricians, gynaecologists, lack of dialysis machines, MRIs, mammogram units, waiting lists too long to see family physicians, and concern about the early detection and treatment of cancer. The Premier, on March 4th, indicated to the people of Nova Scotia, finally, that there were concerns in health care.

In this Chamber, when addressed two days ago on Tuesday, the Minister of Health said, "The myth of the deterioration of Nova Scotia's health care system is a myth.". The Minister of Health, unfortunately, probably didn't hear the Premier's speech and he has not bought into the Premier's position that health care in this province is, in fact, in serious jeopardy. He thinks it is a myth.

My question to the Premier. Mr. Premier, you said health care is a concern. You said things had to be fixed, there were real problems. Your Health Minister is saying that that is a myth. Who is right?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I would like to refer that question to the Minister of Health.

HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, the health care system across Canada has been challenged, challenged because it was a system that was designed with programs that had been in place about 30 years or more and they were not really meeting the current needs of the citizens. The issues facing change, transition times are very difficult and there is lots of change but I really do believe, and it is my experience in the last while, that a lot of the so-called deterioration crisis within health care, it is my firm opinion that it is a myth and I stand by that. The Premier and I do not disagree on some of the needs and the challenges. He has worked very hard with me as a minister to meet that and we are working out our budget to meet those particular needs.

There needs to be a system of monitoring of managing the growth. The growth has been out of control, the amounts of money going into health care, and we have to look at how those dollars flow through and impact on patient care; that is the issue, Mr. Speaker, and that is what we have done with the system. We are only 13 months into some of the changes that have been made, and I think we are seeing results in cost saving and better patient care. Nova Scotians are receiving more services today than ever before in Nova Scotia.

DR. HAMM: Thank you for the answer, Mr. Minister, I finally understand. (Applause) I cannot buy this Minister of Health, responsible for the delivery of good health care to the people to the people of Nova Scotia, standing up and excusing the sorry mess that we have here in health care delivery because there are problems in other parts of the country. That is simply not good enough. I have to answer to my people, as all of us do as MLAs, when they cannot get physicians in this province, when they are waiting too long for service, and we have a Minister of Health that wants to talk about problems in other parts of the country.

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My question is, in my area we have a serious shortage of general practitioners and the minister knows that we will be losing four general practitioners over the next six weeks in Pictou County. We are already two short and we are only going to replace one of those four. That, in my mind, is a crisis and the people in my area feel it is a crisis. I want to know if there is anything in the Premier's speech that he made on March 4th when he glibly said, I am going to provide 100 new doctors to Nova Scotians, both specialists and general practitioners. Will this Minister of Health tell me if when in June and July we lose three more physicians in Pictou County that will not be replaced, will those three be replaced immediately by the 100 positions that the Premier so glibly described on March 4th? Will we have replacements?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, we have made great strides in Nova Scotia in physician replacement. We have a problem with where they are practising and, for instance, we have many pediatricians gathered around Halifax, the community there, but we have had an increase of 100 physicians in Nova Scotia in this last while. We have had 45 go into Cape Breton, specialists and general practitioners and 60 per cent of those increases have come in as family physicians. But we will work, I have promised that honourable member that we will work with this community. The government cannot do it alone. The licensing board of Canada - and what happens in the rest of Canada does impact here, whether we like it or not, and the licensing board of Canada shut off the re-entry.

In Nova Scotia, one of the few provinces, we have created 12 extra spots at Dalhousie that will be able to have people go out into practice and return as specialists. We have created 12 new spots for family doctors. Family doctors are returning. They are going into Springhill. We have had two recently go into Springhill and probably one more in September but the community has to work together. The physicians have to make the community understand and work with the community to make that environment that they practise in the type of community that they want to come in and not all communities do that.

DR. HAMM: Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Health is particularly comforting today to those areas that are losing their physicians when he talks about his solutions and, you know, the minister talked about the myth of health care delivery and health care reform and really it is not a myth, it is a mystery.

My final question to the minister is, and the minister is very aware that the provision in rural Nova Scotia of paediatric service is in jeopardy. That service can only be preserved if, in fact, an alternative funding plan is put in place. The provision of pediatric service in northern Nova Scotia is in jeopardy. We will lose our paediatrician in Pictou County if, in fact, an alternative funding plan is not put in place. The minister knows that the provision in the nearby County of Antigonish is in jeopardy because of the situation in which the practitioners had to survive over the last two years.

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[3:30 p.m.]

Will this minister commit today to moving onto the front burner alternative funding plans that will preserve specialist services in Nova Scotia, both in the rural parts of the province and here in metro? Will he put that on the front burner?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, again I thank the honourable member for his question; I think it is a very important question. He has pointed out, as I did earlier in one of my answers, that we have physicians in this province, paediatricians, but they are gathered around the more urban areas and the medical school, and that is pretty natural and that is pretty well what happens across this country.

We are in the process of finalizing an agreement of alternative funding with IWK-Grace and we have that as a priority, and I will take that from the honourable member and I appreciate his support in this matter. That is a priority and we will be moving into looking at rural and small-town paediatricians and we hope to have that up by the fall.

I thank the honourable member for his question; that is a very important issue for quality health care for all Nova Scotians, Mr. Speaker.

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

NAT. RES. - SABLE GAS: C.B. - SOCIO-ECONOMIC IMPACT STUDY

MR. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Premier. Yesterday the Premier finally announced the awarding of a $90,000 contract to study the socio-economic impact of the Sable development on Cape Breton Island. Can the Premier explain why the Cape Breton Regional Municipality and the alliance had to go to court before this government would even study the impact of Sable on Cape Breton?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the decision to go to court was the decision of the Cape Breton Regional Municipality. They asked for a socio-economic impact study, I agreed as soon as I heard the request, and we have now announced that such a socio-economic impact study is being undertaken and we await the results.

MR. CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, certainly they went to court to protect themselves; it is a clear idea there. They were waiting and waiting and they had to wait with this government. The fact is, the alliance is before the courts trying to protect the economy of Cape Breton, a job that should have been done by this government.

Would the Premier explain why he signed the Memorandum of Understanding, the much better deal he promised in December, that explicitly prevents his government from joining the alliance, to protect jobs and the economy of Cape Breton?

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THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, we are protecting jobs in Cape Breton, that is why we are undertaking the socio-economic impact study, to make sure that the natural gas in the Cape Breton Regional Municipality does not affect the coal industry. We believe the two can develop in conjunction with one another and that natural gas will not detract from coal, and we are quite prepared to allow a study to determine the facts. We have, in fact, told the Cape Breton Regional Municipality that they could appoint two representatives to this committee, and that is what has happened.

MR. CORBETT: It gets deeper, Mr. Speaker. There are going to be lost jobs here, he has just about admitted that. In Section 14 of the Memorandum of Understanding between Mobil, Shell and the Liberal Government, the Premier's better deal prevents the government from supporting the Cape Breton Alliance in their court case.

I want to ask the Premier again, why have the interests of Cape Breton been sold down the river and the government's lead to a long rush to get gas flowing into the United States as quickly as possible?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, how can I support the municipality in their court case? I said I was going to get a better deal for Nova Scotia natural gas, which I did.

AN HON. MEMBER: When? (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Order.

THE PREMIER: The Cape Breton Regional Municipality wanted to keep natural gas from coming ashore. How in the name of heavens could I support that action by the Cape Breton Regional Municipality?

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Digby-Annapolis.

HEALTH: MEDMIRA LABS. - HIV TESTING

MR. GORDON BALSER: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Health. MedMira Laboratories of Hansport announced yesterday that Health Canada has authorized a rapid screen process for HIV testing in Canada. This three minute, five step test requires no lab equipment, no refrigeration and costs about 10 per cent as much as existing tests. With your comment in today's Chronicle Herald that, "'We're eager to find out how it can best be incorporated into our present testing program, . . .'", eager is good - but I would like to know from the minister when will Nova Scotia be placing an order with MedMira?

HON. JAMES SMITH: This is very important. It was good news yesterday and we only hope that this company will be staying in Nova Scotia and you are there to celebrate that announcement.

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We have been involved in Nova Scotia in doing clinical trials on this particular test and we are looking at ways that it can be incorporated into our testing procedures. Nova Scotia has an excellent AIDS testing program. I think all would agree on that and before we make any changes in that we want to know about the product being properly tested. It looks as if it is working out well. It has had the federal approval now. We certainly will be looking at that.

I cannot give the honourable member a date when we would be placing an order. For all I know we may be using some now. We certainly have been involved in the clinical trials.

MR. BALSER: No firm date. I guess I would like to direct another question, my supplementary question, to the Minister of Economic Development and Tourism with regard to the same issue.

What I would like to know is that you have a company that has already established markets. It already has a commitment to creation of jobs in this area, looking to create jobs for 300 to 400 people by the year 2000 with the construction of a new plant. What has the Department of Economic Development and Tourism done with regard to ensuring that this company will continue to operate in this province?

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: I thank the honourable member for the question. We have been negotiating for some time now with MedMira which I am convinced is a very exciting new company and one that is going to grow substantially in the future, perhaps upwards of 400 jobs will be created in this particular venture that is going on now. Hopefully they will see fit to stay in Nova Scotia. They are an Ontario-based company to begin with. They have operations there now.

They have entered the market in Nova Scotia. We are negotiating with them and that negotiation is continuing. We will do everything possible to encourage them to stay in Nova Scotia and I understand over the next couple of years that they will be expanding considerably with their operations and I hope that will happen in Nova Scotia.

MR. BALSER: Further to that question, now we have no indication as to when the Province of Nova Scotia will be entering into an agreement with an established company to purchase goods so that jobs can stay in Nova Scotia. We have the Economic Development and Tourism Minister saying that they have ongoing negotiations with no clear time lines. You have other jobs being created in the call answering industry and so on. We have a chance here to take advantage of a company that has established a market niche. They have guaranteed sales of upwards of one million of these units in Europe and in Asia.

Is there any indication as to what date we will know when this company will be in a position to expand? I think the people of Nova Scotia have a right to know what the plan is. Dates are important.

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MR. MANNING MACDONALD: To the honourable member I might say this, that I have no intention of negotiating a deal with MedMira or any company in Nova Scotia on the floor of the Nova Scotia Legislature. We have people negotiating these deals on a daily basis. We have over 900 companies out there in Nova Scotia that we are dealing with at the present time. We have $400 million out there in investments and to date we have a 97.5 per cent success rate in the deals that we have made with companies in Nova Scotia. (Applause)

I might say to the member that we are treating this deal very seriously and our staff are negotiating it as we speak.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

HEALTH - SURGERY: WAITING TIMES - EXCESSIVE

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, through you I would like to direct my question to the honourable Minister of Health.

We keep hearing from patients that say waiting times for urgent surgery is inordinate and unreasonable. We keep hearing that beds are simply not available. Nonetheless, here in the House the Minister of Health continually insists that all is well and good.

My question is merely this. When will the Minister of Health specifically address the excessive waiting times being experienced by sick patients?

HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, there is great fluctuation in waiting times. I think this is important. We addressed some of the issues here the other day in the House. I think we acknowledged that we have some blockage of beds moving through into long-term care and also primary care. That is one of the initiatives we are bringing in. More and more services are being offered on an outpatient basis. For cardiac surgery, the waiting time is down now and that is an example of a very important service.

So it is very cyclic. I think during the winter months there was a lot of pressure on the health care system. But I think home care is working better now and there is no one single thing that addresses that particular issue. This is very important. It is an important issue and it is one that is a priority of this Department of Health.

MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, on March 31, 1998, a specialist here in Halifax diagnosed his patient, a constituent of mine, as having a cancerous tumour on his left kidney and the specialist said that if he could get a bed, he would remove that kidney as soon as possible. Mr. Minister, guess what? The patient, his specialist, his general practitioner and the surgeon tried for 15 days, over two weeks, before they could get a bed.

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Do you consider a wait of over two weeks excessive when you are waiting to have a cancerous tumour removed?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I don't know the full details of all of the situation that the honourable member brings to the House. I would have to know more. I would have to know whether the surgeon was available, his waiting time. In all deference to the honourable member, the issue is usually operating time. You can have a bed pretty well within a few hours and that is a general rule. It is a complicated issue. It has to do with OR time and other cases that the surgeon might be dealing with.

I think any day is a long day when you are waiting for an operation for cancer. But there is no question choices have to be made in those situations. Whether it made a difference within the care of this particular person or not, that is a judgment. These are professional judgments that are made by professional people and I will not interfere with that, Mr. Speaker.

MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, the general practitioner is a professional person, the surgeon, the specialist. The Premier says that he is a desperate man, but it is the people of Nova Scotia who are desperate.

Will the minister, immediately, deal with the unreasonable and long waits that people are having getting beds in Nova Scotia?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, there are many parts of the health care system that are important and we are trying to deal with them all at once. Home care is a very important issue, outpatient services, mental health programs; they are very important. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

DR. SMITH: Those are all very important issues. We are dealing with them, Mr. Speaker, and they are a priority and I can't say it any differently. There will be waiting times. (Interruption)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The chitchat across the floor has to stop.

DR. SMITH: That is his judgment, Mr. Speaker. I say one day is a long day to wait, but there are many innovative things that are happening in health care and the continuum of care is extremely important and the hospital is only part of that solution. Many times it is an administrative program that needs to be addressed and we are doing that and I think, in the larger hospitals, we are seeing that working better now, as we speak.

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MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.

MR. HOWARD EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the honourable Government House Leader. We read in today's news, yet again, another problem with a rooming house in metro. When we read in the Speech from the Throne last week, we saw there was a specific commitment of the government to "address abysmal conditions in local rooming houses". Since the only initiative of which I am aware which would deal with the problem of rooming houses is Private Member's Bill No. 1, which I have brought before this House.

Does that actually mean that Party discipline will be put on and that the members opposite will be supporting Bill No. 1?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Just for one moment - I believe that question is out of order - if the honourable member from Halifax Chebucto would perhaps like to rephrase it.

[3:45 p.m.]

The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.

HOUSING & MUN. AFFS. - ROOMING HOUSES:

LEGISLATION (BILL NO. 1) - SUPPORT

MR. HOWARD EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, the question then might be put in the following fashion. It is necessary before a vote can be taken that the bill be called for second reading debate. Do we have an undertaking, in light of the comments from the Speech from the Throne, that the government will call this bill for second reading debate?

MR. SPEAKER: I am still a little doubtful as to whether or not that is in order but, however, if the honourable Government House Leader would like to answer that question, that's acceptable.

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: The agenda of this current session of the House, Mr. Speaker, will unfold in the fullness of time.

MR. EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, I wonder then if the Minister of Housing can tell us whether there are any other initiatives of which he is aware that might, apart from Bill No. 1, deal with the issue of rooming houses?

HON. WAYNE GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the honourable member for his question. There is no doubt that there's a growing concern on the quality of the housing, of the rooming houses especially, in the Halifax Regional Municipality. I think, as the honourable member knows, our Premier has, in a letter dated April 2, 1998, indicated to the

[Page 421]

mayor of the municipality that we are in support of this piece of legislation, and in that letter we did indicate to the mayor of the municipality that we were requesting that maybe a local member bring that bill forward and we are very pleased that that bill is on the floor and I suspect that we will have some discussion at a further date.

MR. EPSTEIN: I take it that that means a clear yes, so I look forward to the support. Thank you. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Discussion of a bill during Question Period is out of order.

The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.

NAT. RES. - NATURAL GAS: REGULATIONS - DELAYS

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, my question through you, sir, is to the Premier. The Premier will know of course that last year the Liberal Government considered that it was urgent that the Pipeline and Gas Distribution Act be rushed through this House so that we could get on with the development of natural gas and the distribution of that natural gas across this province so that all Nova Scotians can benefit from that in terms of reduced costs for energy and economic development. Applications were originally to be to the URB by the end of June for the distribution of that and it was anticipated the hearings would start in September. Those dates have been pushed back because the regulations under that Act, which are essential for those applications to go forward, have not yet been developed.

My question to the Premier is quite simply, can the Premier justify the incompetence of his government in getting those regulations adopted and put into effect, because right now we have the spectacle that these delays have the very real probability that Nova Scotia's gas will be used and burned in New Brunswick before Nova Scotians will have an opportunity to even have it distributed?

THE PREMIER: The regulations for the distribution of gas are moving very well and they're ready to be tabled very soon. What I would like tell the honourable member is that it's very important as well that we allow the municipalities time to develop their positions on what they want to do with respect to the distribution of natural gas.

MR. HOLM: Mr. Speaker, and I'm glad to hear that they are moving along, I guess in the fullness of time, and I will say to the Premier that I certainly agree with him that it is extremely important and we have argued that, that municipalities and cooperatives have got to have an opportunity, fairly, to be able to provide that. One of the concerns however is that companies will be permitted to cherry-pick, to skim off the cream of the crop, so to speak, in terms of taking those areas for the distribution of the gas which are most profitable, but leaving all of those rural areas that are less profitable out.

[Page 422]

So my question to the Premier is simply this. In the regulations, that in the fullness of time are going to be tabled, will the Premier guarantee that no distribution rights will be granted until there is an assurance and a strategy in place to ensure that that gas, as the Premier had promised Sable gas to everyone, that the regulation will require that that gas be provided to all parts of this province before anybody is given the lucrative opportunity just to take the cream of the crop?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, it is very important to have the regulations for the distribution of natural gas but it is also very important not to move so quickly that the municipalities cannot make their proposals, cannot develop their presentations in this very important area.

MR. HOLM: I would like to congratulate the Premier on very skillfully not answering my question. The Premier didn't come within a country mile of giving that kind of assurance so I guess the Premier is saying he is quite prepared to allow those who wish to skim off the cream and to only distribute in the profitable areas to be allowed to do that before ensuring that others get it.

My final question to the Premier is this, Ontario, Quebec and parts out West received assistance from the federal government in developing the distribution systems in rural areas that were least profitable. It is obviously not politically advantageous for the feds to keep those programs in place at this time so they have been cancelled. So my question to the Premier is this, has the Premier sought and has he received guarantees from his very close friends in Ottawa that they will treat Nova Scotia no less fairly than they treated their friends in Upper Canada in ensuring that those rural areas get the gas?

THE PREMIER: Yes, Mr. Speaker, I have had discussions in Ottawa concerning the distribution of natural gas in Nova Scotia.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth South.

NAT. RES. - TUSSOCK MOTH: BULLETIN - ACCURACY

MR. DONALD CHARD: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is to the Minister of Natural Resources. This is almost literally through you since your table intervenes. My question concerns the validity of a bulletin published by the department, and in particular a bulletin on the white spotted tussock moth. This is a bulletin which would appear to be quite authoritative and certainly is an official publication of the department. I would ask if this, indeed, is supposed to be an accurate source of information on the tussock moth?

HON. KENNETH MACASKILL: Mr. Speaker, I am sorry, and I apologize to the honourable member, I did not hear the question and I wonder if he would mind repeating it? I am sorry.

[Page 423]

MR. CHARD: No, I would be quite happy to repeat the question. My question concerns a bulletin which the Department of Natural Resources published on the white spotted tussock moth. My question is, given the rather authoritative nature of this bulletin, are we to take it as an accurate source of information on the tussock moth?

MR. MACASKILL: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the honourable member for repeating the question. I don't know what report he is talking about. If I could see the report I would probably be better able to comment on it. I wonder if the honourable member would not mind tabling the report so that I could have a look at it.

I would assume that if our department put it out I would consider it to be accurate because I am quite confident in the staff we have. I am sure they would not have put it out if it was not accurate.

MR. CHARD: Mr. Speaker, I have here a copy of the bulletin. Perhaps it would be helpful if I quoted from it.

MR. SPEAKER: If you quote very briefly, normally it is tabled.

MR. CHARD: It states under "damage", "Repeated years of 90 per cent or more defoliation may cause tree mortality and wood loss." If I might, I would be quite happy to table this document but, having posed my first question, I would like to move to my first supplementary.

MR. SPEAKER: I thought that was what we were on.

MR. CHARD: Yes, very good.

MR. SPEAKER: Well, would the honourable member please shorten it up.

MR. CHARD: Yes. My question is, if this bulletin is accurate, why then do statements published in the department's journal, Nature's Resources, which was circulated to members of the House recently, convey a drastically different impression? If the official bulletin merely says that repeated 90 per cent defoliation may cause mortality, which certainly sounds as if there is an element of doubt in the minds of the entomologist of the department.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Can I have a question?

MR. CHARD: Why then does this publication convey a very different impression when it says the moth devours leaves, needles and bark in its larval stage, often killing the trees in the process?

[Page 424]

MR. MACASKILL: Mr. Speaker, I will advise the honourable member if he would table the document so I can read it. I will take it under advisement and report back to the honourable member with accurate information. For me to give an answer on some document that I may not have seen, it would be rather hypothetical.

MR. CHARD: Mr. Speaker, since the department's recent pronouncements on the subject of the tussock moth seem to be designed to create a climate in favour of its proposed spray program, I wonder if the minister - and if he does not have the information at hand, I would be quite happy to receive it at a later date - would explain what the department means when it says that a test spray carried out in August 1997 was 88 per cent to 90 per cent effective?

MR. MACASKILL: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the honourable member for that question. That spray done in August or September 1997 was a spray to test the effects of BTK on the white mark tussock moth, which we had to forward to Ottawa for a Health Canada survey to see if this 4A-4-8B was effective on the tussock moth. That is the reason that spray was done. Before that, the label was not approved for the tussock moth, but it was for a number of insects across the province. That is the reason that spray was done. Health Canada has approved it for use on the tussock moth.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Chester-St. Margaret's.

HEALTH: NEW ROSS - PHYSICIAN REQUIREMENT

DR. HINRICH BITTER-SUERMANN: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Premier. In the last election, the Premier, when asked about his platform, answered monosyllabically, health care. The honourable Minister of Health, a few days ago, came with his infamous quote that the myth of deterioration of health care in Nova Scotia is a myth. It sounded good, but it was just that, the sound.

My constituents in New Ross, 3,000 of them, have been without a doctor for three and one-half years. The only primary health caregivers are ambulance drivers one-half hour away. A few firefighters can jump on your chest if you have a fibrillation of your heart. It is to be hoped you will never have one. Those 3,000 people in New Ross feel terribly insecure.

My question to the Premier is, what has happened between the election and now that the Minister of Health can declare a dying patient healthy?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I think that the honourable member may not mean to do so, but I think that there really is a trivialization of the very deep concern that exists in the Province of Nova Scotia. I think that what we want to do, as the honourable member has suggested, and I think the key area is confidence in the health care system in Nova Scotia.

[Page 425]

That is what we are working towards and that is what the Minister of Health is working towards.

There are things that need to be done, but our health care system is basically sound. That is not to say it is perfect. That is not to say that there are not concerns that we have. Certainly, any community that doesn't have sufficient medical attention and sufficient doctors in that community, is a concern to this government.

[4:00 p.m.]

DR. BITTER-SUERMANN: Thank you, Mr. Premier, for your candid admission that there is no health care in New Ross. However, to trivialize my concerns in saying that there is some progress elsewhere is not an answer to my question.

We, as MLAs, in rural Nova Scotia, inundated with phone calls from patients that in the absence of GPs use us as their spokesperson to get referrals to practitioners or to specialists. Like that poor woman the other day that waited seven weeks after a mammogram had decided for her that she had a tumour in her breast and that a follow-up sonography had decided that it was a fast-growing tumour. That woman had to phone me up to get a referral to the QE II.

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

DR. BITTER-SUERMANN: My question to you is, what is the plan of the Minister of Health or of you or your Cabinet to tackle the existing health care crisis in rural Nova Scotia?

THE PREMIER: The Minister of Health has stated that there is a very concerted effort to find doctors for all parts of Nova Scotia. We are gaining ground in that regard, but that is not to say that all communities have the number of doctors that they need. Some are leaving while we are still trying to get doctors for other areas but we are gaining ground on this very important area.

I also want to say too that there are concerns. Everybody can find a story where there has been a problem in getting the attention for the medical problem that a person has, but there are many more stories in this province of where the health care system was there at the time and to the degree that the public wanted it. I am very concerned that these stories are not being brought forward to the extent that they should be.

We want to create confidence, but we need the co-operation of all members of the House, not to just bring forward the cases where problems have been brought to them. I would like to see members bring forward success stories as well.

[Page 426]

DR. BITTER-SUERMANN: I am too shy to talk about myself, otherwise I could talk about successful surgery.

My immediate question to you, Mr. Premier. You mentioned yesterday outside the House that you are desperate. I quote. "I mean, I'm desperate. I'm a desperate man." Obviously you meant that in a different context. The government of yours has a tradition to exchange Ministers of Health every second year.

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

DR. BITTER-SUERMANN: Hearing, now, that you have no intent to tackle the health care crisis in rural Nova Scotia, I ask the Minister of Health, when will he follow tradition and resign?

THE PREMIER: I think the question is intended for the Minister of Health.

HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I am not sure who it was one day who said to me it was cheaper to keep a doctor in the House of Assembly than it was to keep him in the hospital. I don't know if that applies to the person asking the question or those answering them. Anyway, we will try not to afflict too much pain.

MR. SPEAKER: You only have 13 seconds remaining.

DR. SMITH: I think the honourable member in a very roundabout way has hit on some very important issues that have to do with primary care. I do not know the history exactly of New Ross but I don't believe that they have had doctors for many years. Primary care will address many of their concerns.

MR. SPEAKER: We will have to take that up at some future day. The time allotted for Oral Question Period has expired.

Order, please.

Before we move on to Government Business, I would like to just address for a moment the order of rotation for questions. It has been agreed to and it is laid down, but if no member gets to their feet when it is their turn, then I have an obligation to recognize another member. I corrected that today but I will not correct it in future.

[Page 427]

GOVERNMENT BUSINESS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

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

GOVERNMENT MOTIONS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I move that the adjourned debate on the Address in Reply to the Speech from the Throne be now resumed.

I believe it is the honourable member for Preston.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Preston.

You have a considerable amount of time remaining. I will give you the exact minutes in a moment. You have approximately 42 minutes remaining.

MS. YVONNE ATWELL: Mr. Speaker, I would like to just start where I stopped a couple of days ago. First I would like to say thank you to all the people who assisted me in getting elected to this House and to say a few words about my constituency, the constituency of Preston.

I would like to acknowledge the love and support of my entire family. I would also like to thank the many volunteers who worked so hard to send me here to represent their interests and concerns. I would especially like to thank Mary Meisner of Lake Echo who worked diligently and went way beyond the call of duty in her support, the nights and the days that she worked on my behalf. To the many other supporters I cannot thank you enough for being there, for allowing me to move forward to do the work that was necessary for me to be here today.

Mr. Speaker, I want to say to the citizens of the Preston constituency, thank you for your vote of confidence. I will do the best that I can in this House to represent them and their concerns. I would also like to remember my father, John Thomas, who passed away a couple of weeks prior to the March 24th election. It was a very difficult time for me but I know he would be proud of me today. My being here today is because of the values that he instilled in each one of us. I miss him.

[Page 428]

Mr. Speaker, many times you will hear me refer to my community. I want to take a few minutes to explain what I mean when I say community. When I say community, I am saying what others may often refer to as their constituency. I do not particularly like the word constituency. Even though there are times that we must use it, there are times when it is very inappropriate; the word constituency to me is kind of cold, remote and political. I like the word community because it is much more intimate and I feel that all the people within my constituency, be it North Preston, East Preston, Wonderland Trailer Park, Porters Lake North, Lake Echo, these are all my communities.

Now, Mr. Speaker, I would like to say a few words about some of the things within my constituency, within my communities. I want to talk about a couple of schools. We have two schools in the Preston community. One of them is the new school in Porters Lake which we have heard much about during the last couple of days. This school was built with the capacity to serve 430 students. It opened last September and it is a very high tech school. Right now the school is at its full capacity. As a matter of fact, it is beyond its capacity. It has 452 students and it has been open less than a year and I am told that probably within the next couple of years they will need to expand. There will be a need to expand this school because of the rapid growth in the area of Porters Lake.

We also have a school in Bell Park and the Bell Park Elementary School is an older school and needs much work. This school needs a new well. It has been having a very, very difficult time with its well. Water is trucked into the school on a daily basis. The air quality in the school is questionable. This school is also in need of additional resources to assist special needs students and, of course, the parents continue to work very hard to raise money to support many of the activities in the school.

There are two recreation centres in our community and they are fairly new. We have the Black Cultural Society, which is an icon in the community and has been around for many, many years. But across the street from the Black Cultural Centre is the Nova Scotia Home for Coloured Children which is really right now an eyesore. The board had planned to renovate these properties. However, vague promises from this government has delayed reconstruction of these properties.

The community of Lake Loon, Cherry Brook continues to be without a recreation facility. Their centre was condemned several years ago and it has been difficult for them to raise funds for a new one, but they continue to try. The community is now working very hard to find financial support to erect another building.

In the community of Preston, there are many small microbusinesses; often people work from their homes. There are families who find it difficult because they try to make ends meet, unemployment is very high there. There are also members of the community that must travel every day into the city and the bus service is quite remote in that area as well. These individuals are also concerned about their high taxes. They have built new homes, they have

[Page 429]

young families and basically they want to grow their children in a community that is healthy and that is a good and kind place to live. We need safe communities.

I must say, during the past five years, the community has been very disillusioned with their government. They have felt abandoned. They have felt that their concerns have not been addressed. They have suffered cuts to health care. They have seen a deterioration of services and they can feel that things are not being done for their well-being.

In the community of Preston, we have grave concerns about the lack of employment. In the black community of Preston, unemployment rates are known to be as high as 75 per cent. In the community of North Preston, the unemployment rate is extremely high. In the community of East Preston, the unemployment rate is extremely high. There are many areas in Porter's Lake, Lake Echo were the unemployment rate is extremely high.

In the community of Preston, while it may be smaller than most constituencies, certainly the diversity of that community makes the riding extremely challenging and extremely exciting to work in and to be a part of. My family is fifth generation Prestonians. I am very happy living in Preston, but some of the citizens in my riding are forced to live in homes that are condemned. This area needs additional funding for housing infrastructure. There hasn't been much in the last several years.

There are other concerns in this area. Community development is almost non-existent. The George Washington Carver Credit Union closed on March 27, 1998, 50 years of work gone, because we could not compete with large banks. We could not even merge with another credit union and keep our site like some other credit unions. Mr. Speaker, it must be realized that the George Washington Carver Credit Union was the foundation for many people who were poor in our community.

For example, a senior or single parent who was living on a very low income, could borrow small sums of money to purchase wood for the winter or to purchase small household appliances. These residents could borrow maybe $700 to $1,000 to do that, and then proceed to pay it back over a longer period of time. Particularly with the wood; this is very important in our community, because many residents rely on wood stoves to heat their homes.

They would purchase the wood in the fall with a small loan obtained from the George Washington Carver Credit Union and then over the summer proceed to pay it back. The following winter, they would get a loan to purchase wood for the following year. This may seem like something small, but this is only one small example of the kinds of things that this credit union was involved with.

I know that there are credit unions having fewer assets who amalgamated and maintained a site. We were not given the opportunity to amalgamate when we wanted to but were bluntly shut down. This, Mr. Speaker, creates a source of anger, animosity and a feeling

[Page 430]

of isolation, especially when we do the work and we do not have support from the government to whom we pay taxes. When we stand by and see other institutions, corporations and businesses who do far less for the community get big tax breaks or write-offs. It is certainly disheartening and people are tired of this kind of disregard and disrespect from government.

[4:15 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, it is a disgrace to allow the only Black financial institution in all of Canada to be dismantled by government's neglect. How can we be on the verge of a new millennium and not understand the importance and great significance of these types of institutions in our communities? We have an incredible Afrocentric school, I believe the first one in all of Nova Scotia, perhaps in Canada. This school is located in North Preston. The school recognizes the importance of African-Canadian education, based on the recognition that the birthplace of humanity is Africa. Therefore, this school is committed to the development of programs, resources and learning materials which accurately provide knowledge and understanding of African people, their history, heritage, culture, traditions and their contributions to society, recognizing their origin as African.

This school is striving to bring these children who attend to a place where they are confident, where they will have the strength and courage when they move to a school outside their environment. Then they will have the capacity to maintain their cultural values as a driving force, so that they will have the self-esteem and skills to excel. Presently these students are at the school up to and including Grade 4. It is the hope and wish of the community to keep these young students there up to Grade 6. The reason is so that these young people will have two more years to build on the incredible confidence being instilled within these young minds today. However, all students should learn about their African heritage, not just students who are educated in an Afrocentric environment. After all, this is where humanity began.

Mr. Speaker, my preoccupation with the issue around education in the schools is simply because I believe that education can be a driving force to move the African-Nova Scotian community forward. It is my view that the purpose of education should be to show learners how they can use the power of their communities. Our efforts should not be limited to the creation of well-trained but disconnected minds only capable of improving the province's economic productivity. This is important, of course, but our educational efforts must also be aimed at helping all learners become decent, caring, compassionate, nurturing human beings, builders of communities, sharers of learning, lovers of the printed word, citizens of the world and nurturers of nature.

In our community we have three day care centres. One is called the Busy Bee Day Care, a wonderful day care that has been there since 1985. Busy Bee has recently opened two other day care centres; one in Porters Lake and one in Lawrencetown. The East Preston Day Care

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Centre, which has been voted one of the best in all of Nova Scotia if not Canada, has a present enrolment of 95 children, with an extensive waiting list. We have a day care in the community of North Preston, where many young children go and thrive before they go off to their Afrocentric school.

Our communities need much more. There are serious issues confronting the Province of Nova Scotia. I do not want to bore you with the details but we have seen very high levels of unemployment. Many of our rural communities are disappearing. Our health system has been dismantled, our schools are sick, our children are sick in these schools. I could go on, Mr. Speaker, but you know too well the serious situations we find ourselves in here in Nova Scotia in 1998. It is time for a new style of leadership, it is time for new insight.

There are issues and concerns that have not been addressed in the riding of Preston and across the province. Frankly, Mr. Speaker, there needs to be a change. In the community of Preston we also have two trailer courts. These courts are faced with frequent rent increases. There needs to be protection, particularly for tenants of trailer courts because many of their issues are different from apartment or housing rentals.

In the area of health care in the community, there are major concerns regarding health care. We know there is a Women's Centre of Excellence for Health, which is at Dalhousie University. This institution is beginning research on women's health, while in the Black community we have the Black Women's Health Program. Hopefully these two institutions will be able to connect. We have no research on Black women's health in terms of women's health in Canada, or in Nova Scotia, that we can refer to. Most of what we learn regarding Black women's health, is research from the United States. Many issues on Black women's health in Canada, and Nova Scotia in particular, are somewhat different because our environment is somewhat different. So it is my concern that resources and attention need to be paid to the issue of women's health, in general, and more specifically Black women's health.

In the Speech from the Throne, Mr. Speaker, it was mentioned, "Our heritage and our culture are major attractions, promoted at the 25 sites of the Nova Scotia Museum.", and we are talking about museums here. This is good; museums are needed. However, there are other areas that also need development and other things communities can do in terms of developing strong tourism programs. We need more visibility and support for projects related to the African-Canadian presence in Nova Scotia. Brochures and other government material do not go far enough to acknowledge African-Nova Scotians' presence in the province.

I specifically want to mention the Shelburne County Cultural Awareness Society. The Shelburne County Cultural Awareness Society has developed an extensive plan on heritage, culture and tourism, that has implications for job creation. This project has the potential to create many jobs; however, the plan needs support to be implemented. The Shelburne project is a very comprehensive project that merits this government's support. This project has many

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goals, and one is to define and guide the future development of the Birchtown Black Loyalists historic site that will entrench its unique, national significance as a Black Loyalist landing site. It is also to provide for the continuing research, preservation and protection of the history and heritage of the Black loyalists who settled in Nova Scotia. It is a very in-depth project and the goal of this project is to enrich the culture of Nova Scotia and to provide employment for Nova Scotians. It has many components; I would urge the government to consider this project.

Mr. Speaker, the issue of roads is often brought up in our communities. The issue of roads in the Preston constituency needs to be addressed. I have heard many of the other honourable MLAs refer to the issue of roads. We have been promised roads. There are many roads that need developing and need to be paved. There is an enormous amount of potholes throughout the riding. For the past five years, many of these residents have been promised decent roads. Many of these individuals have been waiting 12 to 15 years for decent roads. I have not seen anything in the speech that refers to infrastructure in terms of roads. It is crucial that we provide our communities with adequate, decent and safe roads. It has been way too long.

Mr. Speaker, I am also happy to see in the Throne Speech that over the next three years more than 60 schools will be renovated, so that students and teachers can learn and work better equipped in a more welcoming surrounding.

As I mentioned earlier in this response, the Bell Park School has been in crisis for more than five years. They do not have water. As I mentioned earlier, water needs to be trucked in daily. There are problems with air quality, as I mentioned earlier. The environment is not safe. I also mentioned that earlier. These issues have not been addressed during the past five years or more, but I am sure that they will be addressed now, according to what I am hearing in the Throne Speech.

Mr. Speaker, I am also pleased to see that there will be increased funding across the province for women's centres. However, it is unclear whether this funding is to include women's shelters, which is the transitional house. As well, women's centres are not mandated the same way that transition homes are. There is a difference. So I guess I am assuming that, within the Throne Speech, that the allusion to women's shelters is also meaning women's centres, so that they are either lumped together; but they are two different things.

Mr. Speaker, I would also like to think that my standing here today is significant in another way. I would like to think that my standing here signifies a new era, a new day, a new paradigm, the beginning of a difference in terms of how governing and government and the exercise of government is done in the Province of Nova Scotia, the beginning of new relationships between the government and the people they govern.

[Page 433]

Mr. Speaker, I believe that the voters of Nova Scotia sent a very clear message and gave notice to those in the position of government in the last election. I think the citizens of Nova Scotia clearly indicated that they are tired of promises made during an election campaign, only to be broken after winning a seat. For example, I refer to the position of the BST. The Honourable Mr. MacLellan campaigned on the promise that he would eliminate the BST. Since being elected, what have we heard from the Premier? Promises and more promises; if the Premier was a businessman, dare I say, selling a product, I don't believe he would have many clients.

Mr. Speaker, the people of Nova Scotia are tired of the old style politics and old boys network. The people of Nova Scotia are looking to government to set a new tone, a new style of operation. I would hope that during my time in this House that other members of this House would demonstrate a sincere interest in their constituencies, beyond merely doing what we have to do to get elected. It is time for a new relationship between the governed and the government.

Mr. Speaker, this government leaves many concerns unaddressed, but, most importantly, it leaves the big picture unaddressed. The very fundamental issues in which this government stayed in power and came to power, many of them have not been addressed. Health care, education, amalgamation, taxes, poverty, violence against women and child poverty have only been touched on in a very superficial manner.

Within the community of Preston, people are expecting more from government. Nova Scotians across this province are expecting more from government. The Black community in Preston, in particular, who have been promised much during the past five years - support for many of their major projects - are really not impressed.

Mr. Speaker, within the entire community of Preston, I would like to see community development initiatives that are concrete. Such community development initiatives must be supported by government in order for our communities to stay strong and healthy. I would like to work within the constituency with all members of the riding to ensure that they have adequate information and that they know where to go to find resources for the building of their communities. Taxes are very high because of the regional municipality that was forced on us by government.

Mr. Speaker, the issue of high taxes has not been addressed in this Speech from the Throne. We have not addressed the issue of poverty to any great extent. The forced amalgamation by government has not really been addressed. The deep and complex issues of women and children and what that will mean to the future going into the 21st Century have not been addressed. We need responsible government. We need good government. We need government where people as a priority are at the core of how the government governs. These are issues and concerns that have not been addressed in the constituency of Preston.

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[4:30 p.m.]

Finally, I would like to remind the House, Mr. Speaker, that the issue of a Black seat, the issue of representation on the school board, the issues of the need for community development, these are issues that I would like to see addressed in this House. Once again, we need responsible government.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank you and the members of the House for being attentive. I would like to thank my colleagues for their support. I look forward to the serious deliberations that are to come before this House. I am now voting in support of the amended motion and against the Speech from the Throne as it presently stands. Thank you. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Digby-Annapolis.

MR. GORDON BALSER: Mr. Speaker, it is, indeed, an honour and a privilege to rise today to respond to the Speech from the Throne on behalf of the people of the riding of Digby-Annapolis. I would like to begin by extending my congratulations to you and to Mr. Donald Chard, the Deputy Speaker. I am sure that history is going to record your names not only for the fine decisions that you will render but also for the fact that you are the first to hold these positions through election by your peers.

Mr. Speaker, I would also like to extend my congratulations and best wishes to the other members of this House. I am sure that veterans and novice alike are filled, as I am, with a sense of pride and awe that we have been selected to carry the voice of our constituents to this, the oldest and most time-honoured Legislature in all of North America. In the days to come I think it will do us all well to remember that it is indeed a privilege and an honour to be here, a privilege and an honour that we should treat with the respect that it deserves.

Mr. Speaker, I am deeply appreciative of the faith and the trust that the people of Digby-Annapolis have shown me and I will try to honour that faith by carrying out my duties and my responsibilities as their elected representative to the very best of my abilities. I certainly know that my predecessor, Mr. Joe Casey, was well aware of this responsibility. Mr. Casey established the benchmark by which I will be judged. I am keenly aware, too, of the high standard of public commitment and dedication with which Mr. Casey performed his duties as the MLA for Digby-Annapolis. I would like to take this opportunity to publicly recognize and applaud Mr. Casey's 27 years in the Legislature and on behalf of the people in my riding I would say to him, thank you for a job well done. (Applause)

Mr. Speaker, the riding of Digby-Annapolis has a great deal of which to be proud and its greatest asset is the people. The people from Digby-Annapolis are hard-working and they are honest. Just like most of rural Nova Scotia, the way of life in Digby-Annapolis is one that is based on a tradition of hard work and honest values. The people from my riding are the people who still believe that a person's word is a bond and that a handshake will close most

[Page 435]

deals. The people from my area are the kind of people who will stop and help a neighbour in need or give directions to a stranger. The people of Digby-Annapolis take pride in their community and they work together to improve the way of life for all the community members but the unfortunate part is in the last few years Digby-Annapolis has faced many hardships, hardships and difficult times: the closure of CFB Cornwallis, the downturn in the fisheries, the stumbling economy and the resulting migration of our youth to the more urban areas. All events that were difficult to face.

The people of Digby-Annapolis have learned one lesson, that adversity breeds strength. Our communities have emerged from these difficult times stronger and more united than ever before. Today Cornwallis Park is a thriving operation. On the evening of May 22nd, I attended the grand opening of the Cornwallis Park Mall. This is an enterprise that has six stores and shops and is employing more than 20 people. The most wonderful part of this whole thing is that those stores and shops are located in a building that many said would never reopen.

The industrial park located in Cornwallis is also home to many thriving businesses that employ people, pay taxes and add to the local economy. Mr. Speaker, I would congratulate the agency for the hard work and effort that has gone into trying to revitalize Cornwallis.

As the fishing industry in the riding of Digby-Annapolis went into decline, it forced the people there to look for new and innovative ways to earn a living. Today aquaculture operations are a reality in the Annapolis Basin. There are aquaculture industries involving scallop fisheries, involving salmon rearing and rainbow trout operations. At East Ferry an experimental halibut-rearing facility is now moving towards completion.

The people of Digby-Annapolis have found it very hard to leave the roots of the sea behind. For many of them, earning a living from the sea is more than just an occupation, it is a way of life for these people that is even older than this Legislature, a way of life that the elected representatives who serve the constituents must recognize, appreciate and work to preserve.

Some communities, like those on Digby Neck, have realized that in order to survive people would have to seek new employment opportunities, new and innovative ways to earn a living. The Digby Neck Community Development Association has been able to diversify the economy of that area while, at the same time, respecting the traditional way of life and the value systems. The Digby Neck Community Development Association has received national and international recognition for its efforts; in fact, it is being considered by the United Nations as the model for rural revitalization in countries whose fishing communities have been devastated by the collapse of the fisheries.

[Page 436]

Ecotourism is rapidly expanding as an industry in the Digby-Annapolis area. Digby Neck, Long Island, Brier Island and, in the far reaches of the constituency of Digby-Annapolis, the Kejimkujik Park area, are all internationally known as areas where birding, whale watching and enjoying natural beauty are possible. The Balancing Rock Nature Trail on Long Island enjoyed over 20,000 visitors during the 1997 tourist season, and it is expected that in 1998 it will enjoy even larger numbers of visitors. The HANSE Society has taken over Clements Park and moved it in a positive direction. Last year they posted the best year in its history and, with new rides and new events, it is expected that the summer season this year will be even better. All of these locally developed projects are a clear testament that hard work and dedication on the part of community members can improve the way of life in the Digby-Annapolis riding.

The Town of Digby has experienced renewed vitality. The Digby Marina, the Digby Area Recreation Facility, the new swimming pool, these are all clear examples of what can happen when a community works together. There are few towns in Nova Scotia, with a population base the size of Digby's, that can boast the first-rate tourist recreation facilities that are available in Digby. On behalf of the residents who have enjoyed the benefits of these community improvements, I would like to say thank you to the members of the various volunteer committees and organizations that have helped to bring these projects to fruition.

The Town of Weymouth has also benefited from the renewed economic activity that has come as a direct result of the operation and expansion of the Lewis sawmill. When the Lewis sawmill burned, the town was devastated. It is now back and running at increased capacity.

As new industries opened and expanded the entire economy has been strengthened. Success breeds success and so Weymouth is beginning to grow.

Bear River - known as the Switzerland of Nova Scotia - has also experienced a renewed sense of community. The closure of the community school in Oakdene was a terrible blow to the residents of Bear River, but by working together the community members were able to convert that building into a vibrant and active community centre. The Oakdene Centre today is living proof of the possibilities that can be brought to fruition when a community works together.

Bear River also boasts an environmentally friendly sewage treatment plant which has been recognized across the world as the model of non-intrusive waste management. In fact, visitors have come from Europe and Australia to view the project. It is the only one of its kind in North America.

[Page 437]

Bear River is also home to many artisans and craftspeople, small cottage industries which, though largely ignored by the government, are in fact the backbone of the rural economy. I would like to extend my congratulations to all those people who, by themselves, are by and large the masters of their own destinies.

Bear River, Bear River East, Milford, Maitland Bridge, Centreville, Tiddville - these are all essential parts of the fabric of Nova Scotia. Small rural communities. It gives me great personal satisfaction to think that I have been chosen to represent these constituents. These are people like Nancy Buckman of Tiverton, Wally Devries of Westport, Jim Cress of Clementsvale, Joe Jarvis of Weymouth Falls. These are names but they represent the people that I and every other elected representative have been called to serve. They represent the people of Nova Scotia and they have placed their faith in each and every one of us.

These are people who have asked for little more than fair and responsible government. In the Speech from the Throne it was said that the people of Nova Scotia voted for good government. To more than 60 per cent of them good government was not a Liberal Government. To the people of Digby-Annapolis good government was not a Liberal Government. The people of Nova Scotia voted for responsible and responsive government, a government that would listen. It is incumbent on each and every one of the elected representatives regardless of their political affiliation to recognize this fact and to work to make government work for the people.

Good government is not partisan. Good government recognizes the merits of ideas regardless of their source. Good government is about working together to solve complex problems.

The Speech from the Throne talks at length about family and community and education and the future of our children. I genuinely hope that these words and references are really grounded in a commitment to work for a better tomorrow. I genuinely hope that it is not more political gesturing and rhetoric.

I have heard it said that in the sea of humanity the electorate are the people whom politicians stand on to avoid drowning. I truly hope that that is not the case.

[4:45 p.m.]

The Speech from the Throne indicated that quality education is a priority goal for this government, a priority goal no doubt when school board amalgamation was introduced; a priority goal no doubt when regional health boards were introduced. Some of the schools in Digby-Annapolis are in need of significant improvements. The buildings are aging and they are in need of repair and replacement.

[Page 438]

In point of fact, Digby Regional High School had to close for a number of days during the current school year due to maintenance and environmental concerns. The school in question was at the top of the 1991 capital construction list for this province. Seven years of waiting to be a priority. I would mention that projects are in place to see some kind of repairs or restoration take place some time before 1998 is completed. I can only hope that it happens soon for the benefit of the children of the community and the parents of that community.

Now in the Speech from the Throne, there was the story of Janet Bauer-Veitch and it was a heart-warming story, but I too can share stories, stories of teachers like the one from my riding who has a Primary class with 27 students. Two of those students have been diagnosed as having specific learning disabilities. These two students are included in the regular classroom setting. Now, these two students do have a classroom support person to aid them during the day, but the single support person must divide their time between two children. What this means, is that that individual spends their day shuttling back and forth between those two students while the teacher and the rest of the class work around them.

Now, the Department of Education and Culture is very proud of their special services policy document and well they should be on paper, it is a wonderful plan. However, without adequate funding at the classroom level, making that policy work is a daunting if not impossible task. Certainly, the reports of teachers' stress and classroom violence and the difficulty faced by students and parents, issues like inclusion, classroom violence, these would all lead me to believe that everything is not wonderful in public education.

The Speech from the Throne talks of increased opportunities for all school graduates, the opportunity to pursue post-secondary educational opportunities. The reality is, though, student tuition and associated costs are approaching $10,000 per year for every year of university level education. The reality is, graduates are leaving university with insurmountable debt loads and few job opportunities. That is the reality of 1998. Affordable university training must be available to all those with the ability and desire to enter. The truth is, rhetoric will not make that happen.

There are other problems facing public education. In spite of our best efforts to the contrary, many young people choose to leave school before high school completion. Where are the plans and programs and opportunities for those people. Are those people doomed to a life of poverty and failure, simply because the public school system does not have programming or an acceptable model that will work for them?

The Speech from the Throne said that young people are this province's greatest asset. I find it somewhat ironic that our young people are also our leading export. Mr. Speaker, I sincerely hope that the government's plans to promote youth employment opportunities will become a reality, that they won't just be more idle talk and false promises and false hope. Rural Nova Scotia, indeed, all of Nova Scotia, needs its young people to stay here.

[Page 439]

Mr. Speaker, the Speech from the Throne indicates that 25 per cent of the children in Canada live in poverty. Further, it says that a great many of them live in single-parent families, single-parent families who live a subsistence level existence, single-parent families who cannot access adequate support, single-parent families who have jobs with very little future. The working poor represent an increasingly large sector of our society, a sector of that society that is growing exponentially as economic opportunities are lost. This group of people is under-represented and under-served. They fall through the cracks of our social support system, the cracks of our educational system, the cracks of our health care system. That problem is a reality and it must be addressed. They are a group who, because of their dynamics, are not recognized.

Mr. Speaker, since opening a constituency office in Digby-Annapolis on April 1, 1998, I have received in excess of 20 calls from people who can only be described as working poor. That is not to mention the 100 more a week for various other issues. The constituents of Digby-Annapolis have driven home to me, very clearly, the fact that the much anticipated single-tiered social assistance program does not work. I must say, I for one, and they, do not share the Premier's enthusiasm for this positive change. The single-tiered program does not allow local level intervention or the application of common sense. Social workers have indicated to me that they feel hamstrung by regulations that will not allow them to immediately address legitimate concerns. The single-tiered system is a program that sees the working poor as being too rich for assistance but, in reality, too poor to buy groceries and medicine for their children in the same month. New plans and promises of change will not feed and clothe these people. They are people who need assistance today.

Mr. Speaker, the best social program is a job and that was contained in the platform. I hope, too, that every Nova Scotian who wants to find work has that opportunity. I promise the people of Nova Scotia and Digby-Annapolis, too, and the Premier of this province that I would support any real effort by the government to make job creation a reality. Job creation in the riding of Digby-Annapolis is, to a large extent, contingent on the availability of natural resources. The local economy is based on fishery, forestry and, to some degree, the service and tourism industry.

Where in the Speech from the Throne is there any reference to the need to develop, for one thing, a comprehensive forest management plan that will ensure long-term sustainability for our forest industry? It is a concern of the people in my constituency who depend on forestry for their occupation. Where is the long-term vision for tourism? Tourism as it presently exists in my riding is seasonal at best. There are limitless opportunities and they must be developed and enhanced. The fishery is in turmoil. Scallop fishers are very concerned about the sustainability of their stock. The fish dragging industry is concerned and the lobster fisheries have expressed concern that their industry too is headed the way of the ground fishery. There is no clear direction from the provincial Ministry of Fisheries or the federal Ministry of Fisheries that they intend to address that problem. Where is the proof that the herring fishery, the lobster fishery and the scallop fishery are not doomed to failure?

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Now, Mr. Speaker, the Premier indicated in his Speech from the Throne that the government hopes to help at least 500 businesses expand. Well, speaking on behalf of the people of Digby-Annapolis, I hope he can help 600 or 700 or 800 or 900 industries expand in Nova Scotia. If you are going to pick a number, pick high. As they say, hope springs eternal.

The Premier spoke of the economic benefit that would result from the development of Sable gas, but there is nothing concrete to even indicate how that benefit will accrue to the residents of my riding. To date there has been absolutely nothing to ensure the residents in southwestern Nova Scotia that their communities will have a natural gas pipeline that will make it possible for them to compete. Natural gas must be available to the Cornwallis Development Agency. It must be available to the people in Digby, to the fishing communities on Digby Neck, to the Lewis Sawmill in Weymouth. We must have a level playing field in all of rural Nova Scotia and certainly it is incumbent upon the government to ensure that the riding of Digby-Annapolis has its opportunity to compete.

Mr. Speaker, as the Speech from the Throne indicated, the heart of Nova Scotia lies in the city and the soul comes from its communities, an interesting metaphor. I took it to mean perhaps that our communities are destined to become graveyards with lost souls that can find no peace.

The development of an adequate transportation system is also critical to the revitalization of rural Nova Scotia. The gravel and paved highways in the riding of Digby-Annapolis are deplorable. We have more gravel roads in the riding of Digby-Annapolis than most other rural ridings. Highway No. 101 from Digby to Weymouth is one of only two sections of that highway that is incomplete and it remains the only section of the highway that has had no work done on it to date. The government must act to implement a long-term, non-partisan plan that will ensure the residents of Nova Scotia will have the opportunity to have their roads repaired and constructed in a prioritized manner.

I mentioned earlier the 100-Series Highway from Digby to Weymouth and I would like to come back to that because, with the elimination of rail transportation, more and more goods are being transported on our highway system. This has resulted in increased truck traffic, increased truck traffic with heavier and heavier loads, and increased truck traffic that leads to greater and greater deterioration of our highways. The section of the 100-Series Highway from Digby to Weymouth would eliminate heavy truck traffic through a largely residential area that has schools, churches, a number of businesses and has, in fact, experienced a number of fatalities over the last few years.

The tourism industry represents a cornerstone of the economy of Digby-Annapolis. We have a world-class golf course, we have pristine scenery, we have whale watching that is the envy of the world, we have small cottage industries catering to the tourist industry. Again we

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have a clear example of what can happen when communities work together to solve problems. I would add that they work together largely without government support.

[5:00 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, tourism is one of the most rapidly expanding areas of the local and world economy. It is estimated that for every dollar spent in tourism promotion that the return is twelvefold. It is ironic that this government doesn't see fit to have a Minister of Tourism, in an industry that has limitless potential growth. This government needs to implement the recommendations contained in the tourism promotion strategy so that the tourist industry can reach its full potential.

Mr. Speaker, every member of this Legislature must commit to make the Port of Halifax the number one seaport on the Eastern Seaboard. Failure to do this will limit Nova Scotia's ability to expand. Failure to address the needs of the Port of Halifax will reduce Nova Scotia's chances to compete on the world market. In this instance, opportunity missed has far greater implications than just a lost opportunity. The very economic future of Nova Scotia lies in ensuring that Halifax becomes the post-Panamax seaport for the Eastern Seaboard.

Mr. Speaker, the elected representatives of this Legislature need to work together to ensure that the federal government honours its commitments to upgrade and improve Halifax International Airport. I spoke earlier of the fact that Nova Scotia has limitless growth in the area of tourism. Without adequate airport facilities in Halifax we will miss the tourism industry opportunity and we will also limit ourselves, in terms of economic growth, as more and more exports are taken out by air. If the airport is allowed to fail and not meet its full potential, as a result of short-sightedness on the part of government, shame.

Mr. Speaker, it is indeed appropriate that the Speech from the Throne made reference to story-telling as part of the Liberal economic vision because to some degree, the Speech from the Throne was a story, a fairy tale.

Digby-Annapolis is composed of a number of diverse communities, each with its own unique identify and personality. The people who live there are proud and independent. I believe that both the heart and the soul of Nova Scotia lies in its communities, all its communities, from Westport on Brier Island to Louisbourg in Cape Breton, communities from Clementsport to Pictou. It doesn't matter what constituency they lie in, it is incumbent on us to help all of them.

Nova Scotians are a proud lot. This fact was made very clear to me the other day when I saw a person on the television in Toronto walking down the street and on his T-shirt it said, "I live in Nova Scotia, I just have to work in Toronto". That is true. Any other province in Canada, there is always a large Nova Scotia contingent. Those people are proud of their heritage.

[Page 442]

AN HON. MEMBER: Exporter of brains.

MR. BALSER: That is exactly true, as I mentioned earlier. Mr. Speaker, public service industries are important and none more so than our health care system. No one would deny this fact. We have been debating it since the House opened. Health care is a number one priority for many Nova Scotians. Again, in the Speech from the Throne, it was wonderful to hear that Dr. Steve Spiess had come home to Bedford. It is wonderful that he was able to come back, as I mentioned earlier, as many Nova Scotians would like to do. But the reality is that that is small comfort to the people who live on Long Island and Brier Island, two small communities in my constituency; there are about 1,200 residents on that island and those residents no longer have a physician. Not only do they not have a doctor, they have no real hope of having a doctor. They went two years without a doctor before they were able to get one. Unfortunately, the doctor who came to Freeport to practice medicine was taken ill and can no longer practice.

These people are two ferry boat roads and over two and one-half hours from the nearest regional health care facility. That health care facility would be located in either Kentville or Yarmouth. Compounding this problem, and it is a reality - not a myth - a reality for the people who live on that island, anyway, the ambulance service on the island is in serious question. The Long and Brier Island ambulance service is one of the very few remaining privately owned ambulance services in this province. The owner-operator of that business has no clarity on his future. He has called me on a number of occasions asking that I intervene and lobby on his behalf, not because he wants to cease operation, but because he has no idea if he will be allowed to continue. The residents of the island, two hours away from the regional health care, are forced to live with the daily worry that every day will be the last day that they will have the advantage of the locally operated ambulance service.

Further to health care, Mr. Speaker, it was a genuine relief to learn that Holly Smith was fine when she was injured. It was rewarding to hear that she was able to return home to her family the night of her injury. The question that sprang to my mind was, what if she hadn't been so fortunate? What if her injuries had been more serious? Would the outcome have been the same with telemedicine or would the ending have been different? One success story or one failure does not stand the scrutiny of statistical analysis. If the health care system in this province is working so well, why has it been debated on the floor of the House since the opening of the Legislature. If health care in Nova Scotia is working so well, why is it the number one concern of Nova Scotians?

Mr. Speaker, the result of the improved regional health care system for the residents of Digby-Annapolis can be seen in the Digby General Hospital. That hospital, in the last week, has seen the resignation of the chief of staff. The chief of staff has resigned from his role because of the health care systems failure to adequately address the needs of the people of Digby-Annapolis. The doctor in question spoke to me personally and said that he was frustrated by his inability to meet the genuine needs. What we have in Digby-Annapolis is a

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hospital that has been stripped of staff, stripped of beds, stripped of programs. A hospital that is underutilized and doubtful of its future. (Interruption) The top floor is used for palliative care.

What was once a proud example of the finest health care system in the entire world is now a shell of what was. It is a shell of what was, staffed with part-time staff, staffed with regular staff who are overworked and stressed, understaffed by doctors because it lies in rural Nova Scotia and staffed with people who are universally discouraged and demoralized, people who are frustrated because the system does not allow them to adequately provide care. A clear example of health care at its best, a clear example of the problems in health care in this province.

Mr. Speaker, all of health care is not gloom and doom. Again, I make reference to the fact that volunteers have stepped in to fill the gaps, that we now have an adult day hospital at Digby General Hospital, one that reaches out to the community, to members who are not served by existing services but who can take advantage of opportunities that are provided by volunteers. The government's commitment to revisit nurses' training in this province is a wonderful and welcome change of direction. Many young people were giving consideration to nursing as a career, a proud and honourable vocation, a vocation which appears to be in want of candidates.

It is nice to know that the government is having a realistic change of heart in this particular area. It is nice to think that the government will allow training in university, and may reintroduce hospital level nurses' training. I think too it is incumbent on the government to look at programs, as I mentioned earlier, that will allow those people who would like to directly enter the labour force the opportunity to do so. Not every graduate from high school wants to go to community college. Not every person who enters school in Primary ends up with a Grade 12 leaving certificate. More and more, industry is limiting the opportunities for these people. I think it is incumbent upon the government to look at ways of making supports available so that industry can be encouraged to work with these people so that they can acquire the skills on the job that will make them valuable employees.

Last week I had an opportunity to visit the Lewis Sawmill. In speaking to the manager of the sawmill, he indicated that that was the direction that organization was taking. They are continually running upgrading programs, programs of interest to employees, not so much for the benefit of the company, but because it is the right thing to do. They want employees who have opportunities to advance within the system. They recognize that training is not always what makes a good employee, a good employee.

I feel there's a need for the government to actively reach out to the rural communities which I represent, communities across the province, in Digby, in Bear River, in Centreville and so on, reach out and ask the people living there, what can we do that will make it possible for them to stay in rural Nova Scotia. It is indeed a tragic statement that there is very little in

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the way of opportunity for many of the young people who would like to live in rural Nova Scotia.

When I was campaigning I was made aware of the fact that to some degree the riding that I represent has an aging population, an aging population that is indicative of a couple of things: one, that people see rural Nova Scotia as a place to live and two, that young people, by and large, are being forced away. I think that is something that we need to address.

[5:15 p.m.]

In closing today, let me reiterate my willingness to work with the government of the day, regardless of what government that is, whether it is a Liberal Government or an NDP Government, to work with that government, provided the legislation is in the best interests of the people of the riding of Digby-Annapolis. I say today that I am willing to work to try to improve the economy and the way of life for the people of Digby-Annapolis. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Inverness.

MR. CHARLES MACDONALD: It is indeed an honour for me to reply to Lieutenant Governor Kinley's presentation of the Throne Speech during the First Session of the 57th General Assembly of Nova Scotia.

As this is my first time to rise as a member in this historic Chamber, it is my pleasure to extend to you and to all the members of this Assembly and to our Premier, warmest greetings from the people of Inverness. To my family: my wife Mary, my daughter Katrina, my sons Joseph, Shane and Aaron, my mom and my mother-in-law, I want to thank you for the strong support throughout my campaign and in particular for influencing my decision to run as candidate for the constituency of Inverness.

Further I want to thank my campaign workers, my office workers and all those across the constituency who so generously gave of their time and talents during the election campaign, and last but not least of all, the ones that allowed me to come here today, the voters of Inverness County.

To all members who have been recently elected and given the serious responsibility of representing Nova Scotians in ridings throughout our province, I extend my congratulations.

The Speech from the Throne offers to the people of Nova Scotia the government's intentions for this province's future prosperity and well-being. Under the leadership of Russell MacLellan our government is setting new directions for this province, their actions based on the priorities of its people.

[Page 445]

Today we Nova Scotians have the opportunity to set our own economic course. Leading economic forecasters expect positive changes for Nova Scotia. The Bank of Montreal predicts the province's economy will grow 3.5 per cent this year, pushing down unemployment to 10.8 per cent. The bank's own chief economist notes that the ingredients are in place for Nova Scotia's best economic performance in more than a decade.

Even as the provincial economy grows our government has not lost sight of the fact that not all Nova Scotians benefit. There are areas of Nova Scotia and especially in Cape Breton where unemployment remains far too high. That is why this government intends to support new investment and job opportunities in those areas of higher unemployment. I want to compliment this government's support and, in particular, Premier MacLellan for his continued dedication to working with people, with communities and the private sector to help build a more prosperous full employment economy. (Applause)

In the riding of Inverness, our Premier maintained his usual hands-on approach when earlier this year he assured the nurses at our Inverness Consolidated Hospital that their concerns would be addressed. Our Premier worked directly to resolve the Evans Coal Mine Limited problem. His prompt attention resulted in the men going back to work and the mine site returning to full production.

Education, Mr. Speaker, is one of the vital cornerstones of our province's future. In an effort to be known as the education government, this government has initiated an unprecedented commitment to the public education of our children. Beginning in September 1998, this province will see reductions in class sizes. This has been a priority for our government and our school boards across the province. Together they are working on the short-term and long-term plans to bring class sizes down. For the members of Mi'kmaq communities, this government will be hiring Mi'kmaq guidance and education counsellors for our high school students.

Mr. Speaker, it is this government, with a clear plan of action, who will construct 30 new schools and renovate 60 additional schools across our province, welcome news to many of our communities. For university students, this government is increasing university funding in a great effort to limit tuition fee increases. It is this government who remains committed to expanding community college programs, to complement emerging industries already starting to do business in our province.

Mr. Speaker, a prosperous society, is a well-educated society. I am proud to say that the school board in our riding is working to ensure that all students, no matter where they live in Inverness County, are educated in good facilities, with access to quality courses, and are given choices that will equip them to meet the challenges of the next millennium. I appreciate this time to express my support for our school board and I look forward to working with them to properly deliver their mandate under the Education Act.

[Page 446]

Mr. Speaker, there are many positive initiatives for our students at all grade levels. I would like to compliment this government for creating an opportunity for parents and communities to have a greater say about what happens in our schools. It has been this Liberal Government that has established school advisory councils and strengthened the partnerships among government, school boards and schools for the overall success of our students.

Youth unemployment for our young people, this government is working, along with public sector unions, to begin a new youth employment strategy. Mr. Speaker, this government has initiated a new entry level hiring plan to provide jobs for young Nova Scotians and it is the intention of the program organizers to promote similar action by private sector employers. Further, this government will initiate a new student internship program called the Civil Service Career Start Program.

Mr. Speaker, along with my government, I too remain committed to addressing the needs of the less fortunate and the needs of their caregivers. I strongly endorse this government's social and financial priorities. As indicated in the Throne Speech, the child poverty level remains far too high. I am pleased to support this government in all efforts to address the needs of our low income families. The new national child benefits and the Nova Scotia Child Benefit Program will be of great assistance to support low income families. For those unfortunate families who find themselves in times of crisis, I support this government's funding increase for women's centres.

Mr. Speaker, as part of this government's long-term strategy to address child poverty, I am proud to support a healthy child development program and the establishment of a children's ombudsman to provide an independent voice for children under provincial care.

Mr. Speaker, for the senior citizens across our province, this government will sponsor community-based symposiums to address their concerns on services and housing needs. It will be important for this government to continue to consult with Nova Scotians to address the needs for all social assistance programs and services into the 21st Century.

Mr. Speaker, I can recall throughout the recent election campaign telling people how much I look forward to helping build a better Nova Scotia by building a better Inverness County. Of course people would say, that is great, Charlie, where do we begin? Well, I always reminded them that we already have a good head start. I don't know of any other part of Nova Scotia that has such natural beauty, the cultural heritage and recreational possibilities of Inverness County. The people of Inverness have always been happy to share our cultural talents with the rest of the province and the world. Now we have to find new ways to translate this into jobs, income and prosperity. Now instead of asking, where do we begin, the people of Inverness County are beginning to say, where do we go from here? That is another reason I look forward to working with this Liberal Government, a government that is keeping job creation as a top priority.

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This government is promoting training that is more flexible and responsive to changing business requirements, featuring tailored just-in-time training programs that enable businesses to invest and expand. This government has incentive programs to encourage business to invest in their workers, while providing incentives to encourage employers to hire new graduates.

I am pleased, as well, to support all government initiatives. Together we work with the private sector to expand our already successful and growing tourism industries.

This government is also developing Nova Scotia's export potential with a goal of securing $1 billion in additional export sales, while adopting a generic royalty regime to encourage new development in offshore gas and oil.

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to report that we have 11 community development associations that are also committed to building a better Inverness County. These organizations were formed because people knew that initiatives for economic development had to come from within our own communities.

The Mabou Waterfront Development Project consists of the construction of a boat landing facility in Mabou's historic Village Centre. The facility includes a docking area, a waterfront promenade, a bandstand, parking and highway access. The project is designed to provide easy access to existing businesses, site opportunities for an information centre and new business ventures, and a link between the parks and public areas. This unique community development project has been programmed and designed to comprehensively address the many needs of the Mabou community, its Village Centre and the district, with a strategic and cost-effective project. Its realization will result in immediate short-term and long-range sustainable results for the region. The Port Hood Area Development Society has constructed a day park in partnership with the provincial Department of Natural Resources. This was a first for Nova Scotia, with the assistance of the then Minister of Natural Resources, the Honourable Don Downe.

[5:30 p.m.]

AN HON. MEMBER: A good minister.

MR. CHARLES MACDONALD: Our community is very proud of this park. It contains a parking area, picnic areas, change houses, washroom facilities, high quality hiking trails, and approximately one kilometre of boardwalk.

The Inverness Development Association is in the second year of a strategic development plan designed to revitalize the economy of this former coal mining community. Inverness is located on the western shore of Cape Breton on two miles of sandy beach. Tourism is playing a vital role in this planned approach to community development. Ten

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projects have been identified as a beginning and these projects are all based upon the creation of tourism infrastructure.

The first project, expansion of the Inverness Coal and Rail Museum, has been completed with the assistance from funding partners in all three levels of government as well as a contribution from the community through the Inverness Development Association. Also recently completed was a 3,800 foot oceanfront walkway along the dunes below the community. Phase II of the Coal and Rail Museum expansion is the creation of an integrated visitor centre which will take place in the fall of this year. The key project included in the plan, or the vision of Inverness, is the construction of a Scottish-style golf course on the former mine site below the community. This site was owned by the province when abandoned in the early 1960's and is in need of reclamation. This site, which is 160 acres along the ocean, is owned by the community through the development association. This links course will be the only true Scottish links style course in Canada. It is projected that $3 million of new money would be injected into the community in year one. The Inverness Development Association plans to reinvest earnings from this facility into future community projects. Once the targets of the vision of Inverness has been realized, this community will once again be an enjoyable place to work and live. This is a good example of what proactive community economic development and planning can accomplish.

The Whycocomagh Development Commission this coming year is making various plans to help make their area better for tourism. Whycocomagh is a very beautiful area and we feel we have to use this more to keep the tourists in our area. Some of the plans that are currently in progress are plans to build a walking trail that will run from mid Whycocomagh to Salt Mountain at the Whycocomagh Provincial Park. The trail will run along the Nova Scotia Power transmission lines. The development commission will have the trail cleared and it will be well maintained. Another walking trail along the shores of Whycocomagh Bay is also in the plans. It will run from the Whycocomagh Consolidated School shores to the Whycocomagh Wharf. Providing the provincial park with a connection to the sewer and water system would also help the community. These plans would not only bring more tourism to the area but it would help to keep it here for a longer time.

Whycocomagh should be more than a day stop. It should be a destination. Not only Whycocomagh but the surrounding areas will also benefit from this. We believe these plans would definitely help the area become a bigger and better tourism destination.

The LeMoine Development Association to assure progress in its community has identified an innovative sewer system for the community to support their harbour development and the aquaculture site development. To support our cultural uniqueness the association is pursuing an establishment of the Interpretive Centre on La Mi-Careme to include mask making and other product lines to make this centre self-sustaining and an important tourism infrastructure. This association has always worked in partnership with

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different levels of government and on a diversity of other projects, such as the campsite, hiking trails and a breakwater for the harbour.

The strength of the province lies in well-developed communities. As the MLA for Inverness, it is my pleasure to advocate, on behalf of our communities, as together we work to transform initiatives into economic solutions. I will work to support our community development organizations with a vision to making tourism a year-round industry. Our culture, our natural resources and our hard work can build a tourism industry that will bring Inverness County international attention.

Small business is the backbone of Inverness County's economy. Together with this government, I look forward to developing a climate that will encourage our people to become entrepreneurs, this includes our farmers, fishermen, craftspeople, store owners, small producers and many, many more. With the support of this government's improved infrastructure, many small businesses will see long-term economic growth as we compete in national and international markets. With the support of this government, Inverness County will also see our resource industries continuing to grow. In our fishery, we insist that when new quota becomes available, our inshore fleet is one of the first to benefit. Further, we have to work towards ensuring that we get to process that quota locally. In 1997, only 17 per cent of the sea harvest was processed locally. This should increase in 1998, due to government support of a new venture in Cheticamp, of which the residents of Cheticamp are very excited.

Recently, the federal government announced their decision to keep open an exploratory snow crab fishing area. This is welcome news to snow crab fishermen from Cheticamp and the Bay St. Lawrence areas, and it supports Nova Scotia's efforts to pursue new fishing opportunities in this province. I want to take this opportunity to express my sincere thanks to our Fisheries Minister, the Honourable Keith Colwell. Minister Colwell has shown that he is committed to working with and representing the interests of our fishing communities in a strong and aggressive manner to the federal government. The decision to allow the snow crab fishery this year is a fair decision to Nova Scotia and fosters much-needed economic activity in our coastal community.

Inverness has the potential to create jobs in the mining industry yet we will ensure that activity must not put our environment at undue risk. The people of Inverness work together with the government. The people of Inverness County together with the government must work to preserve and diversify the forestry sector of our economy. We must look for new ways to use our wood while taking advantage of the economic spin-off potential of Stora. As forest industry stakeholders, we must maximize usage of the Strathlorne Nursery and develop a properly managed reforestation program.

The economic development initiatives and communities will be the future for our residents, the county and our province. Earlier this year, a new division of the Technology and Science Secretariat, the community IT development proudly announced from Industry

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Canada, 54 new community access internet sites in Nova Scotia under the Federal Community Access Program, better known as CAP. This funding represents an investment of $1 million for rural communities in Nova Scotia. With reference to my constituency of Inverness, this would include communities such as Margaree Forks, Pleasant Bay, Scotsville, St. Joseph du Moine and Whycocomagh that have received funding.

Due to this government's largest ever investment in computer and information technology, more computers will be available for our schools, libraries and universities. There will be increased funding for public libraries, often the literacy centre of many communities.

In health care, Mr. Speaker, I am proud to report that, thanks to this government, there have been increased efforts to attract new family doctors and specialists throughout our province. While the outflow of doctors is a problem across Canada, it has been this Liberal Government that has stopped the exodus of doctors from Nova Scotia.

Working with the Medical Society of Nova Scotia, it has been this Liberal Government that hired a provincial physician recruiter and created the rural incentive program. That means we continue to put doctors in place where they are needed most. As a result of this government's prompt attention to this serious problem, the people of Nova Scotia now have the third highest ratio of doctors to population in Canada, after Ontario and British Columbia. We have gained 107 new doctors in the last year alone.

I would like to remind the people of Nova Scotia that it was the previous Conservative Government in 1991 that shut down the re-entry program for family doctors. Thanks to this Liberal Government, the program has been reinstituted to train more family doctors.

Another accusation of Opposition members has been that there are fewer insured services provided in our health care system. Again, the facts are that there are actually about 250 more insured procedures covered by MSI than there were in 1993. Insured services, Mr. Speaker, now total over 4,500 in Nova Scotia, with 200 of those insured services approved within the past year and one-half.

Mr. Speaker, if there is one program that I am always proud to boast about, it is this Liberal Government's Home Care Program. When the Liberal Government came to power in 1993, only $19 million had been spent on a poorly coordinated Home Care Program. At best, it was a small scale program only available to a limited number of seniors. The budget consisted of just over $19 million to serve 7,000 people. Since 1993, there has been a steady increase in home care funding. In 1995-96, $48.7 million was spent on the program. That figure grew to $60 million in 1996-97, and today the Liberal Government now spends $70 million a year to provide quality home care. Since June 1995, Home Care Nova Scotia has served more than 29,000 Nova Scotians.

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Mr. Speaker, regardless of age or income, services such as the hospital in the home, chronic care and home oxygen are provided any time of the day or night. There are no waiting lists for assessment and entry into the Home Care Program. It is sad to note that the Tories left Nova Scotia decades behind the rest of Canada in developing a comprehensive Home Care Program. Yet, in three short years, we now have a comprehensive Home Care Program that has received national recognition. As a further matter of fact, we now spend more on home care than Saskatchewan, where home care programs have been in place for over 15 years.

We have to be always mindful of the needs of our senior citizens. The need for in-home support, for example, will continue to increase as our population ages. Our governments must have the necessary resources in place to ensure that our seniors enjoy their golden years.

[5:45 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, another program which I would like to take a few moments to comment on is the Seniors' Pharmacare Program. The costs associated with the Pharmacare Program escalated out of control, from $7 million for the year 1974, when the program was started by a Liberal Government, to $80 million in 1990. In 1993, with the election of this Liberal Government, the Seniors' Pharmacare Program, which was on the verge of collapse, was actually saved. With the necessary changes, Nova Scotia's program is still one of the best in the country. All senior citizens have the opportunity to participate in the Pharmacare Program, while in New Brunswick and Newfoundland only seniors who are eligible for the Guaranteed Income Supplement, or GIS, can join their seniors' drug plan.

The premium for Nova Scotia seniors is $215. In Saskatchewan the premium is $1,700. Once seniors in Nova Scotia reach $200 in the co-pay amount, the remainder of their prescriptions are free. In Saskatchewan there is no limit on their co-pay amount, seniors don't ever have the opportunity to receive free prescription drugs. For low income seniors in Nova Scotia they do not have to pay the premium and, in some cases, they receive a rebate.

Mr. Speaker, in 1993 Nova Scotia's ambulances were in a sorry state of repair. An estimated 25 per cent to 30 per cent would not have passed standard motor vehicle road inspection. On average five ambulances a week were breaking down, many times while en route with a patient. Only 25 ambulances had been equipped with defibrillators. Air ambulance service did not exist. The only credential required for an ambulance driver was a valid driver's license.

By 1998, through the efforts of the Liberal Government, 140 high-tech ambulances have replaced those poorly-maintained vehicles. One hundred of these ambulances are now equipped with defibrillators, a first for Nova Scotia. Trained paramedics are now on board with standardized lifesaving equipment. Mr. Speaker, to supplement our land-based

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ambulances a new air ambulance program has flown over 500 missions with a fixed wing aircraft and a helicopter capable of landing at the scene of an accident.

Another critical difference in this province's emergency health service is the province-wide 911 dispatch. This enables people to get immediate access to lifesaving instructions and advice over the phone, while emergency vehicles are being dispatched to the scene. As for ambulance breakdowns, there has not been a single breakdown since the program began to replace the aging fleet.

Now there are even more incentives for doctors to practice, with the establishment of the Tele-Medicine Program and a rural local service which helps to combat any isolation felt by rural communities. To further support more physicians in rural communities this government will continue to expand the Tele-Health Network province-wide. Nova Scotia became the first province in Canada to link rural medical professionals through computer and teleconferencing links to specialists in diagnostic services, as well as continuing medical education programs. This province-wide, computer-based Tele-Medicine Network will connect every hospital in Nova Scotia by the end of 1998. With 43 sites it will be one of the largest tele-medicine projects in the world and the first to connect all hospitals in one jurisdiction.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The background noise is quite high in the Chamber at the moment.

MR. CHARLES MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, it is a marvellous science and technology as telemedicine used advanced telecommunications technology to transmit medical data, video images and audio between doctors and fellow health care workers at two or more locations. Thanks to this Liberal Government, telemedicine will improve Nova Scotians' access to the health care system by enabling patients and doctors in rural Nova Scotia to access specialist services in their own communities. I have heard that technology is sometimes referred to as the grease for the economic wheel of the 21st Century. Technology will play a critical role in the creation of affluent societies.

I would like to report to the people of Inverness, to the people of this Assembly and to all Nova Scotians that I will work hard to ensure that the technological and communications infrastructure is available to all parts of Inverness County so that our people can have increased access to global markets.

Infrastructure such as good roads is also a feature of a healthy and safe community. The continued success of our rural counties' economic development will depend largely on the quality of our highways and our maintenance. Knowing that our Minister of Transportation and Public Works, the Honourable Clifford Huskilson, also represents a rural riding I am sure he too can imagine the sense of pride people have in a network of roads that supports their

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community economic and social development. To me good roads say, welcome and come again, to visitors. They tell the world that our county and province are worth investing in.

Our culture, our heritage, our desire to shape our own destiny, our education system, our technological training, our experience in dealing with challenges, our hospitality and our desire to make Inverness County the place we will want to be in the next millennium - these are the things that collectively will make our future strong.

Mr. Speaker, I know that Premier MacLellan as the Leader of this government works tirelessly with the people of Nova Scotia to bring stability, security and a sense of pride and accomplishment to every aspect of our lives. Presently this Premier has protected Nova Scotia's interests to ensure that the best possible benefits are gained from the Sable Offshore Energy Project. With strong leadership, our government, this province and the people of Nova Scotia are ready to successfully prosper well into the next century. When the vote is called I will vote confidently in favour of the Speech from the Throne. Thank you. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth South.

You might like to make a few introductory remarks and adjourn around about 5:58 p.m., something in that area.

MR. DONALD CHARD: Mr. Speaker, in light of the time I do not think there will be an opportunity to do more than make a few introductory comments. I would like to say what an honour it is to be a member of this House and I would like to congratulate you, Mr. Speaker, on your election to your office. I hate to contradict other members who have made reference to your being the first elected Speaker in the House. You are certainly the first elected Speaker in modern times and perhaps the first elected Speaker in almost 200 years but I believe there was an elected Speaker in this House in 1805 or 1806. That was, of course, before responsible government and our present Party system, so I consider it a noteworthy achievement that we have finally got a duly elected Speaker.

I think that in the few minutes that I have remaining, I would like to, first of all, thank all of those who worked on my campaign from near and far and, in particular, I would like to mention John Osborne, my campaign manager. John worked tirelessly for the cause of social democracy in Dartmouth over many years.

I would also like to acknowledge the role of my family: my wife, who made sure I would not be distracted from the campaign by domestic matters and my teenage children; my younger son, who actually worked in the campaign and accompanied me door to door on occasion; my daughter and older son for their uncanny knack of posing difficult questions to me to test my ability to think on my feet and deal with the inevitable criticism I would face in the House and on the doorstep.

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Other than that, I have to confess that my daughter was too busy with university exams to play a more active role in the campaign, and my older son was too busy skiing with the daughter of the Minister of Health and other of his classmates to make any other contribution. Perhaps that is evidence - his consorting with known Liberals and members of their families - that Liberals and New Democrats can, occasionally, cooperate.

I would also like to acknowledge the service of my immediate predecessors in Dartmouth South, the Honourable John Savage and the Honourable Roland Thornhill. I may not always have agreed, Mr. Speaker, with their politics, but I do respect them for their service to their community over many years. I think it would be remiss of me not to mention them.

Mr. Speaker, in light of the time, I would like to reserve my comments on the Speech from the Throne for another date and perhaps I should be, at this point, moving adjournment.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is to adjourn the debate.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, tomorrow we will sit from the hours of 11:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. and, following the daily routine, we will continue with the debate on the Address in Reply to the Speech from the Throne.

I move we do now adjourn until 11:00 a.m. tomorrow.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is carried.

We have now reached the moment of interruption.

[Therefore be it resolved that this House urges the Premier to recapture the sense of urgency about the state of long-term care that he demonstrated every so briefly on March 4th and respond to the 65 per cent of voters who want a new direction and a new confidence in health care.]

ADJOURNMENT

MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

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HEALTH - CARE: LONG-TERM - URGENCY

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I am speaking on the resolution and I would just like to read the resolution:

"Therefore be it resolved that this House urges the Premier to recapture the sense of urgency about the state of long-term care that he demonstrated ever so briefly on March 4th, and respond to the 65 per cent of voters who want a new direction and a new confidence in health care.".

Mr. Speaker, I think we heard in this Chamber today that the Premier, yesterday, had said that he was a desperate man with respect to the need for schools in Nova Scotia. I wish very much that the Premier were a little more desperate about his commitment to long-term care, which is a commitment that has been made repeatedly by this government in this Assembly without any substantive action having occurred following the verbal undertakings.

Mr. Speaker, as someone who, for many years, has worked as a social worker, I know, as many other members here know, that there are periods in the life cycle where we are more vulnerable than other times. Infancy and childhood, obviously, being one of those times, and certainly being elderly and in poor health is another one of those times.

Mr. Speaker, while we all might like to think that when we get into the final years of our lives we will be well, fit and free to stay in our own homes or to be with family members and friends. This is not always possible, often for some very complicated and good reasons. For these reasons, our society has accepted a measure of social responsibility to care for the sick and the elderly in long-term care facilities which have very properly been labelled as homes for special care. These homes for special care are a very important feature of health care and community service and the programs we provide when people are in vulnerable states.

[6:00 p.m.]

However, in the last few years, homes for special care or long-term care, have experienced difficulties. It has been an area of some neglect. I would even go so far as to say perhaps chronic neglect of this sector under this government. No additional licenses have been issued in this sector since I believe 1995. Budgets have been frozen since 1991-92 but expenses certainly haven't been frozen, Mr. Speaker.

The expenses of operating homes for special care have escalated in many areas. Workers' compensation premiums are rising quite dramatically; municipal tax reassessments have had an enormous impact on organizations in this sector. So this is a sector that is experiencing a lot of difficulties and stresses and strains.

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It is a sector that has brought their concerns forward to the government. It is a sector that feels they have had some empty promises, that a review was planned in the Speech from the Throne in November for review and action on the part of the Ministers of Health and of Community Services. This has not occurred, Mr. Speaker. It is a real source of frustration and concern for this sector.

Now, Mr. Speaker, the Homes for Special Care Act itself is an Act that is somewhat outdated and antiquated. It has not been overhauled since 1961. The budgetary process requires a thorough review and a more systematic process. The conditions of work are certainly something we need to be concerned about and give great attention to.

This is a sector where more than 80 per cent of the workers are women. Wage parity in this sector, for nurses for example, is non-existent with their sisters doing nursing in acute care facilities. The disparity in annual income between workers in long-term care facilities and workers in acute care facilities can be as much as $10,000 or $12,000 or $14,000 a year, Mr. Speaker, which is dramatic and quite unbelievable, given that the functions being performed and the qualifications required are quite equivalent.

Additionally, Mr. Speaker, many of the nurses and other workers in long-term care facilities have no pension plans. In speaking with health care workers from one facility, I met a woman who had worked for 26 years as a long-term care employee and she is looking forward to a retirement without a pension plan. This is hard to believe, that these kinds of situations exist in our province today, particularly when, in Canadian society, a great amount of progress had been made with respect to the poverty of seniors, in no small measure due to our understanding and appreciation and a commitment to the importance of having pension programs to provide security and to mitigate the impact of poverty in the later years of life.

Yet here we have workers in the sector, who will very much, after working very hard for wages that have fallen further and further behind, be confronted with the potential of poverty and impoverishment in their older years. So, I think there are many issues that need to be addressed with respect to workers.

Resident/staff ratios in long-term care facilities are a real concern. The standardization of educational requirements are a concern. And so, what we need and we need immediately is attention to this sector, we need a plan, we need for the minister and the Premier to provide some clarity and some certainty to people in this sector. What absolutely has to stop is the kind of contradictory information that we saw yesterday when on the one hand, we are being told that there will be 170 additional long-term beds in these facilities, and on the other hand we are being told, well, maybe some of those beds will be allocated for acute care. I think that these mixed messages and contradictory messages really heighten the uncertainty and sense of frustration that exists in this centre.

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So, if I could just close by returning to my first point, we have a growing number of elderly persons with the kinds of needs that require homes for special care, and the kinds of supports and services they'll receive there. These people are very vulnerable at this period in their lifespan. They deserve better than the kind of system that we have right now that has been neglected, their families deserve better and employees and caregivers in these facilities definitely deserve better. Thank you. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Health.

HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, it gives me pleasure to rise tonight and to address this very important issue of the Adjournment motion, relative to the commitment to long-term care facilities and those people that work in those facilities and also the motion mentions building confidence and a direction in health care. These are very important issues. From time to time, we all rely on the health care system and we trust that system. We trust the system to take care of us when we are sick or when our friends and loved ones are ill or are injured. We count on it from our earliest years until the twilight of our lives. Through illnesses and injury, public health and emergencies, no part of our public infrastructure has to be more comprehensive and effective.

I am pleased to stand here today to reaffirm our commitment to one particular area of the health care system in Nova Scotia. Our long-term care sector has never been more important, and I want to assure you that we recognize the growing need for continuing care for many Nova Scotians. We will not only work to enhance direct patient care, but we will also respond to the needs of those people who are providing that continuing care.

First of all, this government wants to ensure the availability and quality of our long-term services. The budget for long term care last year was approximately $112 million. That number represents a significant increase over previous years. That alone should demonstrate our commitment, but let me be specific about where the money is being spent. Our modest annual investments during several years of restraint have allowed us to begin addressing some of the deficiencies of this evolving and growing health care sector. During the past several years, we have added 400 full-time workers to the 69 nursing homes and homes for the aged under the Department of Health's responsibility. In 1997 alone, we added the equivalent of 190 full-time employees to the sector that directly impacted on patient care. In the coming years we have made a commitment to add 170 new long-term and acute care beds. We are on the right track and making good progress but we recognize that much more work has to be done.

As a result we have established a joint ministerial committee on long-term care to help facilitate changes to this sector faster and more effectively. This committee includes representatives from the Department of Health and the Department of Community Services, the Nova Scotia Association of Health Organizations and Associated Homes for Special Care. My colleague, the Honourable Francene Cosman, and I have reaffirmed our commitment to

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this committee. It is an excellent opportunity to discuss concerns in the long-term care sector, such as assessment tools, legislation and staffing standards.

Also, while enhancing this health care sector is a priority, we recognize that we must address issues such as operating cost pressures, wage and benefit costs for employees and employers and capital infrastructure costs. Our government is committed to supporting employers in dealing with current negotiations with their employees. As you know, long-term care sector employees are in the collective bargaining process currently.

Hospital sector settlements have impacted on the long-term care sector in at least two ways. First, there are raised expectations regarding wage parity. Number two, there are fears within the long-term care sector that facilities will have trouble filling RN vacancies if they cannot offer wages and benefits that are competitive with the acute care sector.

We understand these concerns. This government has been examining options for addressing these issues in a fair and sustainable manner. It is my aim to see that other pressures in the long-term care sector continue to be addressed in the upcoming budget.

In addition, let me change direction slightly and spend some time in highlighting the health care professionals in the long-term care sector. Workers in this sector are proving to be innovative in service delivery. At Northwood here in Halifax they have an adult day program for people dealing with Alzheimer's disease.

Workers at the Shiretown Nursing Home have brought together residents with local Grade 7 students to publish an annual book called Memories. At the Valley View Villa in Pictou County a successful outreach program for seniors has been set up, including a seniors' help line in addition to a Meals on Wheels program. I want to pay tribute to these workers. Their job is not easy. These are but three examples of the innovations of which I spoke. Clearly the long-term care sector is valuable but it has probably not received the kind of attention within our health care system that we believe it needs. This government is committed to improving long-term care programs. Our goal is that this sector receives the same attention as all other quality health care services. We want to ensure that every Nova Scotian has access to quality health care across a wide spectrum of services.

Nursing homes and homes for the aged are but one part of the continuing care solution. Our department's responsibility for nursing homes and home care and the vital components of the sector administered by my colleague, the Minister of Community Services, must be seamless to the client. This is the goal of our government.

Access to this range of services must continue to grow and prosper in response to the needs of our aging and our special needs population. This, Mr. Speaker, is our commitment today.

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A commitment was made during the election to add more long-term care beds and we intend to honour our commitment. We are working with a joint ministerial committee comprised of departmental staff and representatives of the long-term care sector to address long-term care issues. We are committed to respond to the needs of the long-term care sector and to Nova Scotians benefiting from these services.

Do I have a little more time, Mr. Speaker? (Interruption)

I would just highlight again that I believe that this government has shown commitment to ensure the availability of quality and the availability of long-term care services. We are working to ensure that Nova Scotians across the province receive the same level of care, the high level from trained professionals, right across this province. There are 69 nursing homes and homes for the aged under the Department of Health's responsibility. This means there is a total of over 5,800 licensed beds, plus an additional 54 respite care beds. As I mentioned, the equivalent of 400 new, full-time staff positions were approved for homes over the last three years. The Opposition says that work is needed in this area. These numbers speak for themselves, progress is being made.

[6:15 p.m.]

I thank you, Mr. Speaker, and I also thank the honourable member for Halifax Needham. I believe she gave a good presentation. It is one that is challenging but we look forward to bringing the status of the long-term care sector up to the level to which it works for, professionally strives for and deserves.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings West.

MR. GEORGE MOODY: Mr. Speaker, I rise to speak on this very important resolution. The member for Halifax Needham, who spoke first and brought this resolution forward, I believe, understands the urgency of long-term care being addressed. What the honourable member for Halifax Needham probably doesn't know and the Minister of Health probably does is that for the last six years a resolution like this has been brought to the House and been debated but, unfortunately, nothing has changed. That is the unfortunate part.

I was listening attentively to the Minister of Health who made a commitment and understands that long-term care has been neglected for some time. Mr. Speaker, I am worried about the government following through on its commitment because last November in this House, for those of us who were here, and the present minister was the Minister of Health of the day, the Speech from the Throne stated, "The long-term care sector has made significant contributions to the overall health and well-being of our population. The ministers of Health and Community Services will be convening almost immediately to begin efforts to ensure this sector gets the attention it deserves.".

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Now I am hearing again, how many months later, Mr. Speaker, that that is going to happen? What happened between last November and now, when that same commitment was made by the same minister, by the same government, yet there has been a vacuum since that time? I acknowledge that the minister acknowledges that, yes, something has to be done. When he was Minister of Health last November he acknowledged that. It is not time for talk, it is time for action. If I go back to the promise, that promise that came on the heels of numerous others that were unfilled, back to 1993, when the former Minister of Health, Ronald Stewart said; "The long-term care sector has been traditionally underfunded and understaffed and there has been a huge disparity between long-term care and acute care and a disparity between long-term care facilities across the province as well.". So the government recognized it in 1993.

Here we are five years later and the long-term care sector is really no further ahead, and I would have to say, Mr. Speaker, in all fairness, if you talk to the long-term care workers, they are worse off today than they were in 1993. Now we are going backwards when we all recognize that we have to go forward.

I am hopeful, I listened carefully to the Throne Speech that we had not many days ago. I thought, we are going to hear that again the government recognizes the difficulties in long-term care and it is going to be acknowledged and we are going to get a commitment but this time it is for real. Well, unfortunately this time there was nothing in the Throne Speech about long-term care. Quite frankly, I was disappointed and I know that the people working in long-term care are disappointed that this government didn't recognize that in the Throne Speech this time they were again important and something needed to happen.

Yesterday in the House the Minister of Health - I heard him tonight and I know that yesterday when the Premier said he would stand behind the commitment of 170 long-term care beds, and I think I heard the minister tonight say, yes, yesterday it was a little different, that maybe some of them were acute care. If he is saying 170 long-term care beds, as the Premier had said, I applaud him. I really do. If he is saying that it is not quite 170, then I am going to hold my applause, Mr. Speaker, and I am going to hold the Premier to his commitment of 170 long-term care beds.

The Premier said that in the middle of an election but it was right. What he said was correct. I acknowledge that the Premier recognized that this had to happen. Now I am waiting for that to happen. Mr. Speaker, I read a report, and I know the minister has and I am sure the member for Halifax Needham has, the Nova Scotia Nurses Union released a report on long-term care. These are people who actually work in the system. They are not the same kind of experts that we would like to think we are when we stand to take our place in the Legislature. These are people who work in the system and know the system and they say that it will take a tragedy for the government to realize just how critical the situation is.

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I am hoping that after today and after the minister tonight recognizing that something has to happen in long-term care, that it will not take a tragedy for the government to respond to a group who has been out there, has been neglected, in no man's land for the last five to six years. If we get the kind of attention that it deserves, and I would be the first to say - and I do not know if the minister agrees or not, or if the member for Halifax Needham agrees - but I think some of the changes that occurred, and everybody got excited about the changes in acute care, some of the spin-off that negatively came from that has negatively impacted on the long-term care. What has happened is also the moratorium on beds, and I have to say, Mr. Speaker, that those in administration in long-term care are doing their best but the budgets they get are pieced together. They need to be able to plan in the long-term care facility and they have had to rob from Peter to pay Paul.

Do you know who loses, Mr. Speaker? It is the residents of the long-term care facility that are actually the losers because we have not addressed this very crucial situation. We have the most loving, most dedicated staff in those facilities of anywhere in the world, including the administration. They actually care about those residents but they have been pleading, Mr. Speaker, for a government to acknowledge that they have been neglected for five years and that things are deteriorating to the fact that we could have a tragedy if it is not addressed and addressed immediately.

I think all three Parties in this House agree that we are here for the benefit of those people we represent and if we truly are, Mr. Speaker, we will applaud the minister when the changes are made, the money is allocated for the new beds, and that they are funded adequately and they are actually part of the system. Because I happen to believe, as I talk to people in long-term care, they are not sure where they fit in the system, who they belong to, who they respond to, and who makes decisions. That should not be hard to clear up. If we clear that up, we are actually providing better quality of life, a better care for the residents of these facilities, and the family will then feel much better, the long-term care workers will feel much better, and I know the Premier said that a nurse is a nurse and wage parity is important, and it is important, because if we do not address that issue we are going to lose good, qualified nurses that are working in those long-term care facilities.

Mr. Speaker, Ron Stewart identified the problem in 1993. Ron Stewart and I did not agree on a whole lot of things but we both agreed on that issue. Now the government - five, going on six years later - has a chance to actually make a difference and I am hoping that after another Speech from the Throne in this Legislature, whenever that may come, that we do not have this same important resolution before us as we did in 1993 and every year since, that the commitment that we tonight have made, that actually happens.

The member for Halifax Needham and I cannot make it happen, but the government can. We will support them if they make it happen; I will give them credit if they make it happen. I will tell you one thing, Mr. Speaker, I will also challenge them, and I will never let go if the issue is not addressed. It is a fundamental issue. As the Nurses' Union said, if there

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is a tragedy, all we have to do is then look and say that the department was warned. It has been warned for six years. Let's not let that happen. Let's make sure that that long-term care issue is addressed and those who work in the system can then take pride again in a great system that I think is fundamental to our total health care system in this province. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The house is adjourned.

[The House rose at 6:26 p.m.]