Assemblée Législative de la Nouvelle-Écosse

Les travaux de la Chambre ont repris le
21 septembre 2017

Hansard -- Mon., Oct. 26, 1998

First Session

MONDAY, OCTOBER 26, 1998

TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE
INTRODUCTION OF VISITORS 2633
TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS:
Nat. Res. - Truro: Liquor Store - Relocation, Hon. K. MacAskill 2634
PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS:
Educ. - Pictou Co.: School Closures - Oppose, Ms. E. O'Connell 2634
Transport. & Pub. Wks. - MacLaughlin Rd./Broom Rd.:
Cole Harbour - Traffic Concerns, Ms. Y. Atwell 2634
TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS:
Educ.: Universities - Foundation Reports, Hon. R. Harrison 2635
GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 1271, Health: Pap Test Awareness Week - Recognize,
Hon. J. Smith 2635
Vote - Affirmative 2636
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS:
No. 43, Public Archives Act, Hon. R. Harrison 2636
No. 44, Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act,
Mr. Kevin Deveaux 2636
No. 45, Pictou Regional Development Commission Act, Dr. J. Hamm 2636
No. 46, Toll Highway Prohibition Act, Mr. W. Estabrooks 2636
NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 1272, Nat. Res. - Nat. Gas: Regs. - Table Immediately,
Mr. R. Chisholm 2637
Res. 1273, Educ. - Literacy: Canada Post Award - Ms. J. Downey &
Ms. D. Osmond Congrats., Hon. R. Harrison 2637
Vote - Affirmative 2638
Res. 1274, Health - Mother Berchman's Ctr.: Nursing Home -
Rejection Explain, Dr. J. Hamm 2638
Res. 1275, Health - Mother Berchman's Ctr.: Nursing Home -
Commitment Honour, Mr. R. Chisholm 2639
Res. 1276, Commun. Serv. - LEO: Priorities (Disabled) - Address,
Mr. J. Muir 2639
Res. 1277, Ernest Jordan (Mayor of Pictou 1979-88) - Death of:
Sympathy - Extend, Mr. R. White 2640
Vote - Affirmative 2641
Res. 1278, Nat. Res. - Nat. Gas: Regs. - Release, Mr. J. Holm 2641
Res. 1279, Justice - Dean Richard (Death-Car Accident): Inquiry -
Call, Mr. M. Scott 2642
Res. 1280, Econ. Dev. & Tourism: WTCC (Hfx.) Ambassadors (7) -
Congrats., Mr. G. Fogarty 2643
Vote - Affirmative 2643
Res. 1281, Educ. - Chignecto-Central School Bd.: P3 Schools (2) -
Process Halt, Mr. J. DeWolfe 2644
Res. 1282, Bus. & Cons. Affs. - Cons. Protection: Condo. Owners
(Minority) - Obligations Meet, Ms. Y. Atwell 2645
Res. 1283, Educ. - Strait Reg. School Bd.: Info. Tech. Award -
Congrats., Mr. H. Fraser 2645
Res. 1284, Justice - Probate Fees: Ruling (S.C. [Can.]) - Plans State,
Mr. M. Baker 2646
Res. 1285, Reform Party (Can.) - Model: Followers (Trad.) - Note,
Mr. D. Chard 2647
Res. 1286, Educ. - CGS Scholarship: Allison Pearo (Whycocomagh) -
Congrats., Mr. Charles MacDonald 2647
Vote - Affirmative 2648
Res. 1287, Econ. Dev. & Tourism: Small Business Week - Congrats.,
Mr. G. Balser 2648
Vote - Affirmative 2649
Res. 1288, Coast Guard - Shortfall: Alleviation - Pressure
(Gov't. [N.S.]) Exert, Mr. John Deveau 2649
Vote - Affirmative 2649
Res. 1289, Econ. Dev. & Tourism - Queen Molly Brew Pub (Yar.):
Entrepreneurs Award - Congrats., Mr. L. Montgomery 2650
Vote - Affirmative 2650
Res. 1290, Commun. Serv. - Nursing Homes: Seniors-Transfer
(Ex-Local) - Cease, Mr. B. Taylor 2650
Res. 1291, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Margaree Hbr. Bridge: Neglect -
Explain, Mr. W. Estabrooks 2651
Res. 1292, Timberlea-Prospect MLA - Negative NDP Attitude:
Re-Evaluation - Recommend, Mr. R. White 2652
Res. 1293, Health - Oncology: Deficiencies - Acknowledge,
Dr. J. Hamm 2653
Res. 1294, Health - Care: Universal Access - Ensure,
Ms. Maureen MacDonald 2653
Res. 1295, Health - Hfx. Stroke Club: Mrs. Bertha Power -
Commitment Thank, Mr. G. Moody 2654
Vote - Affirmative 2655
Res. 1296, Fin.: Deficit - Remind, Mr. H. Epstein 2655
Res. 1297, Health - Guatemala Mission: Tom Campbell (Johnstown) -
Commend, Mr. M. Samson 2656
Vote - Affirmative 2656
Res. 1298, Commun. Serv.: LIDA (Col. Co.) - Assist, Mr. J. Muir 2656
Res. 1299, Econ. Dev. & Tourism - Offshore Supply Vessel Prog.:
Exclusivity - Disappointment (Peter Kinley), Mr. D. Dexter 2657
Res. 1300, Educ. - St. F.X. Univ.: X-Project (Literacy) -
Canada Post Award Congrats., Mr. H. Fraser 2658
Vote - Affirmative 2658
Res. 1301, Justice - Donald Marshall, Jr.: Court Case -
Intervention Prepare, Mr. N. LeBlanc 2658
Res. 1302, DFO - BIO: Open House - Congrats., Mr. J. Pye 2659
Vote - Affirmative 2660
Res. 1303, Nat. Res. - Stora (Pt. Hawkesbury): Forest Sustainability -
Reports Commend, Mr. M. Samson 2660
Vote - Affirmative 2661
Res. 1304, Econ. Dev. & Tourism - Job Creation: Marketing Initiatives -
Unveil, Mr. E. Fage 2661
Res. 1305, Housing & Mun. Affs. - NSPI: Tax (Mun.) Exemption -
Eliminate, Mr. C. Parker 2661
Res. 1306, Environ. - UNS Indians (Sydney Conf.): Efforts -
Applaud, Mr. J. DeWolfe 2662
Vote - Affirmative 2663
Res. 1307, Housing & Mun. Affs. - Housing: Access -
Universality Ensure, Ms. R. Godin 2663
Res. 1308, Opposition Leader - Bankruptcy (N.S.): Plan - Reveal,
Hon. R. MacKinnon 2664
Res. 1309, Medal of Bravery: Bryan Balkam (Oxford) - Congrats.,
Mr. M. Scott 2664
Vote - Affirmative 2665
Res. 1310, Culture - Bluenose [Final Race Victory (26/10/38)]
Memory - Acknowledge, Mr. P. Delefes 2665
Vote - Affirmative 2665
Res. 1311, Tech. & Sc. Sec't. Computers: Millennium Bug -
Combat Progress, Mr. G. Balser 2666
Res. 1312, Order of Canada: Dr. Kenneth Ozmon, J. Alphonse Deveau &
Georg Tintner - Congrats., Ms. Helen MacDonald 2666
Vote - Affirmative 2667
Res. 1313, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Antigonish:
Atlantic Expressway Comm. - Meet, Mr. B. Taylor 2667
Res. 1314, Housing & Mun. Affs. - Mun. Councillors (C.B.):
Concerns - Listen (Premier), Mr. J. Holm 2668
Res. 1315, Housing & Mun. Affs. - Gov't. (Mun. [N.S.]): Performance -
Congrats., Mr. M. Baker 2668
Vote - Affirmative 2669
Res. 1316, Yarmouth Utd. Baptist Church (3rd): Anniv. 155th -
Congrats., Mr. John Deveau 2669
Vote - Affirmative 2670
Res. 1317, Health - Mother Berchman's Ctr.: Nursing Home -
Rejection Info. Reveal, Mr. G. Moody 2670
Res. 1318, Educ. - Sir John A. Macdonald H.S. Hockey Flames:
Fund-Raising - Congrats., Mr. W. Estabrooks 2671
Vote - Affirmative 2671
Res. 1319, Econ. Dev. & Tourism - Kentville: "Pumpkin People"
Festival - Congrats., Mr. G. Archibald 2671
Vote - Affirmative 2672
Res. 1320, C.B. Nova MLA - Winston Churchill: Incomparability -
Remind, Mr. D. Dexter 2672
Res. 1321, Transport. & Pub. Wks.: Hammonds Plains Rd. - Improve,
Ms. R. Godin 2673
GOVERNMENT BUSINESS:
PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING:
No. 22, Health Research Foundation Act 2674
Mr. G. Moody 2674
Mr. R. Chisholm 2677
Mr. J. Muir 2683
Mr. P. Delefes 2688
Mr. J. Pye 2690
Mr. P. MacEwan 2693
Dr. J. Hamm 2695
Ms. R. Godin 2697
Ms. Y. Atwell 2698
Mr. G. Archibald 2700
Mr. J. Holm 2703
Hon. Manning MacDonald 2708
Vote - Affirmative 2708
No. 34, Teachers' Pension Act 2708
Hon. D. Downe 2708
Mr. H. Epstein 2710
Mr. N. LeBlanc 2714
Adjourned debate 2717
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Tue., Oct. 27th at 2:00 p.m. 2718

[Page 2633]

HALIFAX, MONDAY, OCTOBER 26, 1998

Fifty-seventh General Assembly

First Session

6:00 P.M.

SPEAKER

Hon. Ronald Russell

DEPUTY SPEAKER

Mr. Donald Chard

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

The honourable member for Cumberland South.

MR. MURRAY SCOTT: Mr. Speaker, I would like to make an introduction this evening. I would like to introduce C.J. and Karen Richard who are the parents of the late Dean Richard whose life was taken in a tragic car accident in Halifax two years ago. Also Dean's sister, Kelli and Dean's godparents, Mary and Ted MacDougall from Antigonish. They are seated in your gallery, Mr. Speaker, and I would ask for the usual warm welcome by the House. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Labour.

HON. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, on Thursday, October 22nd, on Page 2491 of Hansard, I was quoted as saying, with regard to the WCB applications, ". . . the applications they were reviewed in a thorough process in consultation with departmental staff, in consultation with a senior CEO and the Chairman of the Board of Directors at the Workers' Compensation Board . . .". What I should have said is that the applications were reviewed through a process (Interruptions)

2633

[Page 2634]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. MACKINNON: The applications were reviewed through a process in consultation with departmental staff, a process initiated subsequent to the discussions with the senior CEO and the Chairman of the Board of Directors at the Workers' Compensation Board. Mr. Speaker, I suppose in my rush to answer, during all the heckling and everything, I miscommunicated that and I apologize for any misapprehension of the House.

MR. SPEAKER: There is no point of order, that is a point of explanation.

[TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Natural Resources.

HON. KENNETH MACASKILL: Mr. Speaker, I would like to table at this time the information following a question by the honourable member for Truro-Bible Hill on Thursday, relative to the liquor store relocation in Truro. For the benefit of all members of the House, I want to table the answer to that question.

MR. SPEAKER: The reply to that question is tabled.

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

MS. EILEEN O'CONNELL: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to introduce a petition from some residents of Pictou East. The operative clause of this petition reads:

"We, the undersigned, are opposed to the closure of our seven high schools in Pictou County which are to be replaced by two megaschools".

Mr. Speaker, there are 192 names on this petition and I have affixed my signature.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable member for Preston.

MS. YVONNE ATWELL: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition on behalf of the residents of MacLaughlin Road and Broom Road. The operative clause of the petition reads:

"With respect to the intersection of MacLaughlin Road and Broom Road, we, the undersigned express concern with respect to the increased number of accidents as a result of heavy traffic.".

[Page 2635]

The petition, to which I have affixed my signature, contains 85 signatures.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Education.

HON. ROBERT HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, in compliance with Section 12(2) of the University Foundations Act, I am pleased to table before the Legislature the annual reports as of March 31, 1998, which include the reports of Acadia University, Dalhousie University, the Nova Scotia Agricultural College, St. Francis Xavier University, Saint Mary's University, the University College of Cape Breton and the University of Kings College.

MR. SPEAKER: The report is tabled.

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Health.

HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, as Minister of Health, I would like to first introduce two people in the east gallery this evening representing the Nova Scotia Gynaecological Cancer Screening Program. There is Dr. Rob Grimshaw who is Chair of that program, accompanied by Ms. Margery MacIsaac, coordinator for the same program. I would ask them to rise and receive the warm welcome of the House. (Applause)

I welcome them to the House tonight in recognition of pap smear awareness week, October 25th to October 31st.

RESOLUTION NO. 1271

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

Whereas October 25 to October 31, 1998 is Pap Test Awareness Week in Nova Scotia; and

[Page 2636]

Whereas the Nova Scotia Gynaecological Cancer Screening Program, one of only two comprehensive gynaecological cancer screening programs in Canada, has been educating Nova Scotians since 1991 about preventive measures against cervical cancer; and

Whereas every year approximately 60 Nova Scotian women are diagnosed with cancer of the cervix and 27 women die from a disease that is almost 90 per cent preventable and almost 100 per cent curable;

Therefore be it resolved that this House take the opportunity to recognize October 25th to October 31st as Pap Test Awareness Week and encourage Nova Scotian women to visit their doctor or a Well Women's clinic to have their annual pap test.

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. (Applause)

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

Bill No. 43 - Entitled an Act Respecting the Public Archives of Nova Scotia. (Hon. Robert Harrison)

Bill No. 44 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 5 of the Acts of 1993. The Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act. (Mr. Kevin Deveaux)

Bill No. 45 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 32 of the Acts of 1991. The Pictou Regional Development Commission Act. (Dr. John Hamm)

Bill No. 46 - Entitled an Act to Prohibit New Tolls on Public Highways in Nova Scotia. (Mr. William Estabrooks)

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

[Page 2637]

NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

RESOLUTION NO. 1272

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

Whereas within the last week, the Premier twice promised rural Nova Scotians, including those in smaller and isolated communities, that industry would share the cost of distributing gas to all areas; and

Whereas it has now become clear that much of Mobil's natural gas has already been sold directly to a few large users who will not share the cost of gas distribution; and

Whereas it is clear that this government has once again disappointed the few people who might have relied on this Liberal promise;

Therefore be it resolved that this House urge the government to immediately table its natural gas regulations so people throughout the province can see for themselves just how unlikely it is that natural gas will be accessible to all Nova Scotians.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Education.

RESOLUTION NO. 1273

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

Whereas literacy is recognized as a critical factor in the development of individuals and their employability and is promoted in Nova Scotia by the Community Literacy Initiative with the Department of Education and Culture; and

Whereas the Canada Post Flight for Freedom Individual Literacy Achievement Awards recognize the outstanding contribution of individual Canadians to the cause of community literacy; and

[Page 2638]

[6:15 p.m.]

Whereas Josephine Downey and Darlene Osmond are two such Nova Scotians recently recognized with Canada Post Flight for Freedom Individual Literacy Achievement Awards;

Therefore be it resolved that the House extend its congratulations to Ms. Josephine Downey and Ms. Darlene Osmond for their outstanding achievement, their commitment to learning and literacy, and for the recognition bestowed upon them by Canada Post.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice and passage without debate.

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.

RESOLUTION NO. 1274

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

Whereas after spending $4 million to upgrade the Mother Berchmans Centre in order to qualify for a nursing home license, the Sisters of Charity were told their application was rejected; and

Whereas after learning that their application for a nursing home license was rejected, the Sisters of Charity applied for in-home support for four of its members, only to be denied once again; and

Whereas the Liberal Government advised the Sisters of Charity that their application for in-home support was being denied because the sisters had taken a voluntary vow of poverty;

Therefore be it resolved that the Liberal Government explain to the Sisters of Charity its uncharitable and discriminatory response to their request for in-home support, and further acknowledge that a vow of poverty is not a justifiable reason for denying them the kind of

[Page 2639]

assistance that is available to any other Nova Scotian who qualified under the terms of the in-home support program.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

RESOLUTION NO. 1275

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

Whereas Nova Scotians are now enjoying the sixth year of Liberal health reform; and

Whereas the Sisters of Charity have been providing health, education and community service in our province for more than 100 years, including the care of elderly and infirmed members of their own community; and

Whereas the March 1998 Liberal platform released by the Premier stated that long-term care would now be a priority;

Therefore be it resolved that this House urge the Premier and part-time Health Minister to recognize that the Sisters of Charity have been led by this Liberal Government to expect that their long-term care facility for retired sisters would be included in the long-term care program and to honour that commitment.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Truro-Bible Hill.

RESOLUTION NO. 1276

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

[Page 2640]

Whereas year after year representatives for the League of Equal Opportunity struggle with inaccessible transportation to come to Halifax to meet with members of the respective Party caucuses to discuss issues of importance to persons with disabilities; and

Whereas despite the efforts of the League of Equal Opportunity and its member organizations, very little progress has been made in terms of improving transportation services for Nova Scotians with disabilities and making technical aids more widely available and affordable, or in terms of making public and private buildings more accessible; and

Whereas this government has refused to take worthwhile and concrete action to assist persons with disabilities, choosing instead to hire consultants to research issues that have already been studied to death;

Therefore be it resolved that instead of wasting additional tax dollars on initiatives that will have no measurable impact on persons with disabilities, this government commit to working with LEO and its member organizations to implement services that address priority concerns such as successful transportation for Nova Scotians with disabilities.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury.

RESOLUTION NO. 1277

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

Whereas on Friday, October 23, 1998, Ernest Jordan of Pictou passed away; and

Whereas Mr. Jordan was the Mayor of Pictou from 1979 to 1988, during which time he served his community with honour and distinction, not only as mayor but as an executive member of the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities; and

[Page 2641]

Whereas as well as being involved in municipal politics, Mr. Jordan served on many community boards and agencies, supported minor sports and was inducted into the Pictou County Sport Heritage Hall of Fame;

Therefore be it resolved that this House extend its sincere expression of sympathy to his wife and family.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.

RESOLUTION NO. 1278

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

Whereas delay has been the order of the day when it comes to regulations regarding natural gas distribution in Nova Scotia; and

Whereas it is crucial that the regulations be developed in a manner that maximizes the benefits of natural gas distribution for Nova Scotians; and

Whereas the regulations, when finally released, are anticipated to be very different from those that are in the original draft circulated;

Therefore be it resolved that the government release its proposed regulations for the distribution of natural gas and that companies, municipalities and others be afforded one week to comment publicly on those regulations before the regulations are finalized.

Mr. Speaker, I would request waiver of notice and passage without debate.

[Page 2642]

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cumberland South.

RESOLUTION NO. 1279

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

Whereas Dean Richard, the son of C.J. and Karen Richard, lost his life in a tragic car accident in Halifax over two years ago; and

Whereas the Richards are still without peace in their lives because two years after their 22 year old son's death they continue to feel mistakes made in the follow-up actions to the accident were needless; and

Whereas incident after incident raised red flags and left unanswered questions in the minds of the Richards as well as many others;

Therefore be it resolved that this government assist now by calling for an inquiry under the Fatality Inquiries Act so that the Richards may finally have some closure in their terrible loss and so that action can be taken preventing similar confusion and error in the future.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Bedford Basin.

[Page 2643]

RESOLUTION NO. 1280

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

Whereas seven new ambassadors were recognized last week by the World Trade and Convention Centre in Halifax; and

Whereas these ambassadors were recognized for their work in bringing six big conventions to the metro area last year; and

Whereas Nova Scotia benefited from economic activity generated by 714 bookings at the World Trade and Convention Centre last year by such organizations as the Canadian Association of Emergency Physicians, the Canadian Pensions and Benefits Institute, and Oceans '97;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate and thank Pat Simms, Dr. Doug Sinclair, Marc Spier, Stephen King, Tom MacLaren, Kathryn Tucker and Hugh MacPherson for their hard work in promoting Nova Scotia as a destination for conventions and business.

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

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Inverness on an introduction.

MR. CHARLES MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I rise to introduce a gentleman in the gallery opposite, Mr. James MacLean. He worked with the Department of Labour for years and is very familiar to a lot of people across Nova Scotia. He is also the Councillor for Port Hood-Mabou, my old seat in County Council. I would ask you to extend the congratulations of the House and your usual applause. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou East.

[Page 2644]

RESOLUTION NO. 1281

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 decision made Friday night by the Chignecto-Central Regional School Board to replace all Pictou County high schools, save the Academy, with two mega-schools was flawed from day one; and

Whereas while the flaws in the process have been clearly and loudly outlined by the residents, the minister and the board have lunged ahead without due regard or reply; and

Whereas residents at the other end of this same board have been given several months grace to address equally serious concerns with regard to the needs assessment report's recommendations for Truro without fear of losing funds for potential new schools;

Therefore be it resolved that the Education Minister immediately offer some fairness in this process by refusing to proceed with its commitment to the two P3 replacement schools until the board offers a fairer hearing for those opposed to the closures of the Pictou County schools.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Truro-Bible Hill on an introduction.

MR. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I draw the attention of the House to the Speaker's Gallery where there are representatives from the League for Equal Opportunities here tonight. Among them would be Jim MacNeil; Claredon Robichau; Linda Stiles; Elsie Cholette, who is the provincial coordinator; Bill Crawford; and Ray Bonin. I ask the House to give them a warm round of applause. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Preston.

[Page 2645]

RESOLUTION NO. 1282

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 Condominium Act, which has not been changed since 1971, puts minority unit holders at the mercy of majority unit holders, who may either be spend-happy or may wish to deregulate the condominium; and

Whereas the Department of Business and Consumer Services discussion paper focuses on the need to allow condominium corporations to function even more like regular business corporations; and

Whereas condominiums are viewed by many seniors as affordable sunset housing and, therefore, the loss of their retirement home is devastating;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Business and Consumer Services begin to meet his obligations to minority condominium owners with respect to condominium consumer protection.

Mr. Speaker, I would request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Antigonish.

RESOLUTION NO. 1283

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

Whereas the Strait Regional School Board received the Smart Organization-Partnership Award during the Nova Knowledge Assembly held in Digby this past weekend; and

[Page 2646]

Whereas the Strait Regional School Board was recognized for its goal of providing advantages to citizens of Antigonish, Inverness, Guysborough and Richmond Counties, by constructing and renovating technology rich schools through public and private partnerships; and

Whereas the Strait Regional School Board is a leader in creative innovative partnerships, extending resources and community economic development;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate and commend the Strait Regional School Board for their example of how to build a sustainable, knowledge-based economy through information technology.

Mr. Speaker, I would request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Lunenburg.

RESOLUTION NO. 1284

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

Whereas last Thursday, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that fees levied by a province to have a will probated are illegal; and

Whereas the Supreme Court of Canada granted six months in which to bring probate fees in line with the law; and

Whereas during the period of April 1, 1997 to March 31, 1998, revenue produced by grants of probate within Nova Scotia was in excess of $1 million;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Justice clearly state what actions his department plans to take in light of last week's ruling with respect to probate fees.

Mr. Speaker, I would request waiver of notice.

[Page 2647]

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Dartmouth South.

RESOLUTION NO. 1285

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

Whereas Preston Manning and the Reform Party launched an Atlantic strategy after the 1993 election, claiming until June 1, 1997, that they were going to win seats like South West Nova; and

Whereas part of Reform strategy was to distort legitimate rural concerns about federal gun registration to create fear of any form of gun control; and

Whereas another part of Reform strategy was to single out aboriginal fishing rights as a major cause of fishing industry problems, instead of pursuing a balanced approach;

Therefore be it resolved that this House notes with interest that although the Reform bubble burst before it was inflated, Preston Manning's model is nevertheless being following by some inheritors of a respected political tradition.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Inverness.

RESOLUTION NO. 1286

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

Whereas Allison Pearo, a graduate of Whycocomagh Consolidated School, was chosen by the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada and the administrators of the Canadian Gypsum Company Scholarship Program to receive the CGC scholarship; and

[Page 2648]

Whereas the scholarship offers Ms. Pearo $250 per year as she obtains a Bachelor of Science degree on her way to a career in medicine; and

Whereas Ms. Pearo is active in her community and has received numerous other awards for her leadership and academic achievement;

Therefore be it resolved that this House offer congratulations to Allison Pearo on her scholarship and extend best wishes for success in university and continued service to her community.

[6:30 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice and passage without debate.

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 Digby-Annapolis.

RESOLUTION NO. 1287

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

Whereas small business is the fastest growing sector of Atlantic Canada's economy; and

Whereas small business owners consistently demonstrate the energy, ability and expertise to survive in a highly competitive and changing market place; and

Whereas the week of October 26th to October 30th has been designated Small Business Week in recognition of these attributes and efforts;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House extend their congratulations and best wishes to small business owners everywhere.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice and passage without debate.

[Page 2649]

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 Yarmouth.

RESOLUTION NO. 1288

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

Whereas in order to make up for a budget shortfall of $13.3 million the Canadian Coast Guard will tie up three of its ships for the winter and lay off half its contract workers; and

Whereas doing so threatens the Coast Guard's search and rescue capabilities, pollution clean-up and fisheries management operations; and

Whereas these operations are critically important to the fisheries, commercial shipping and recreational boating in Nova Scotia;

Therefore be it resolved that this government exert pressure on the federal government to find the shortfall from another source instead of cutting Coast Guard operations which are critically important to Nova Scotia and the Atlantic Region.

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 Annapolis.

[Page 2650]

RESOLUTION NO. 1289

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

Whereas two Yarmouth-based business owners have been recognized with one of the top awards from the Entrepreneurs' Forum program; and

Whereas Annette Hegel and Ruth MacKenzie of the Queen Molly Brew Pub received the "Against All Odds" award which recognizes the effort needed to make a new business work; and

Whereas the Queen Molly Brew Pub has quickly become a business success story, employing local people and attracting residents and tourists alike;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate Annette Hegel and Ruth MacKenzie for their entrepreneurial spirit and hard work making the Queen Molly Brew Pub a fine example of Yarmouth's ongoing waterfront rejuvenation which started under the Canada-Nova Scotia Infrastructure Works Program.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice and passage without debate.

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. 1290

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 Department of Community Services has demonstrated a heartless and uncaring attitude towards seniors by removing them from private residential homes without consultation and with only hours notice; and

[Page 2651]

Whereas the Department of Community Services is trying to justify its actions by claiming the seniors have all of the sudden developed heavier care needs that cannot be met by the homes they have comfortably and safely lived in for a number of years; and

Whereas in at least one case the doctor of one of the seniors who was uprooted has stated that the reason provided by the Department of Community Services for tearing the senior away from their family and friends was not consistent with his findings and was definitely not in the senior's best interests;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Community Services commit today that no more seniors will be taken from residential homes in which they presently reside without consultation or notice, and further that the minister immediately commit to revisit the recent decision to uproot seniors against their will, against the will of their families and against the will of their family physicians.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect.

RESOLUTION NO. 1291

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

Whereas the Margaree Harbour Bridge is very old and is in deplorable condition; and

Whereas this bridge would receive fairer consideration for priority attention by the Department of Transportation and Public Works according to the criteria recently introduced by the NDP, particularly with reference to contribution to the economy of the area and the safety of residents using this bridge; and

Whereas the MLA for Inverness would obviously benefit from reading this list of criteria more closely;

[Page 2652]

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Transportation and Public Works explain to the people of the constituency of Inverness why the Margaree Harbour bridge has been so obviously neglected by this government's secretive list of priority projects on highway and bridge improvements across this province.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Waive notice.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled? (Interruptions)

MR. ESTABROOKS: I know. Yes. Could I please ask for waiver of notice and passage without debate.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury.

RESOLUTION NO. 1292

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

Whereas on Friday, in this House, during the debate on Bill No. 35 regarding the Nova Scotia Teachers College Foundation, the NDP member for Timberlea-Prospect said, when he went to Dalhousie University for one year and wasted his time listening to frustrated university professors who had not been in the classroom for many years; and

Whereas this remark is an unwarranted criticism of Dalhousie University, an institution that is world renowned for excellence in education; and

Whereas Nova Scotians take pride in their universities and are grateful for the contributions made by faculty and students to both rural and urban areas of this province;

Therefore be it resolved that the House recommend the member for Timberlea-Prospect re-evaluate his typically negative NDP attitude and recognize the strong contributions made by our universities to the academic, social and economic fibre of the Province of Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for waiver.

[Page 2653]

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled. The notice was inordinately long.

The honorable Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party.

RESOLUTION NO. 1293

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

Whereas Nova Scotia will lose yet another medical oncologist with the departure of Dr. Jamey Skillings in December; and

Whereas Dr. Skillings' departure follows the recent departure of two other medical oncologists, reducing to three the total number of oncologists serving the entire province; and

Whereas the Health Minister's assertions that his department is treating the situation as a top priority ring hollow for cancer patients, their families and the medical community, who continue to learn that the Minister of Health cannot retain the medical oncologists we have, let alone recruit permanent replacements;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Health acknowledge that he has failed cancer patients and their families by not addressing the long-standing and gross deficiencies in medical oncology and, further, that he and Dr. Padmos immediately meet with representatives from the Cancer Care Advisory Committee to clearly define the concrete steps that will be taken to address this urgent matter.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax-Needham.

RESOLUTION NO. 1294

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

[Page 2654]

Whereas the recent health caravan organized by the Nova Scotia Citizens Health Network and the Canadian Health Coalition highlighted threats to public health care in Canada; and

Whereas privatization and deregulation of health care, for example, the Health Protection Branch of Health Canada was identified as the biggest threat to our health care system; and

Whereas the coalition is urging a national summit on the health care issue;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Health listen to the concerns of citizens in this province and make a commitment to ensure universal access to quality health care.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Kings West.

RESOLUTION NO. 1295

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

Whereas Mrs. Bertha Power has been an active volunteer with the Halifax Stroke Club for 20 years, providing encouragement, hope and support to stroke survivors, families and friends; and

Whereas Mrs. Power will be in attendance on October 27th when the Halifax Stroke Club holds its 20th Anniversary luncheon; and

Whereas Mrs. Power has provided volunteer service to numerous organizations including the Halifax-Dartmouth Ostomy Association, St. Thomas Aquinas Church Catholic Women's League, the Nova Scotia Association for the Mentally Handicapped and the Nova Scotia Mental Health Association;

[Page 2655]

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House thank Mrs. Power for her selflessness contributions of time and effort that have benefited and enriched the lives of so many.

I would ask for waiver, Mr. Speaker.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.

RESOLUTION NO. 1296

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

Whereas all members of this House have congratulated the government for moving last week to provide $1.8 million in severance payments to former workers at the Westray Mine; and

Whereas a supplementary appropriation has been approved for that sum by the Lieutenant Governor in Council on October 22nd; and

Whereas this sum of $1.8 million is in addition to the budgeted appropriation for the Department of Labour;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Finance be reminded that his deficit is now $83.6 million.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Richmond.

[Page 2656]

RESOLUTION NO. 1297

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

Whereas Tom Campbell of Johnstown will head to Guatemala in February as part of a medical mission team; and

Whereas Mr. Campbell will serve as a pharmacy assistant on the 16 person team that includes doctors, dentists, a physiotherapist, nurse and an eyeglass specialist; and

Whereas the team will provide medical aid to peasant workers, many of whom have never been to a doctor;

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize and commend Mr. Campbell, a remarkable Nova Scotian and an example to all, and wish him good luck and Godspeed on his mission to Guatemala.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice and passage without debate.

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 Truro-Bible Hill.

RESOLUTION NO. 1298

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 organization in Colchester County known as Life Improvement for the Disabled is in a precarious financial position at the present time; and

Whereas innovative solutions through the private sector continue to be sought to improve the financial ledger for Life Improvement for the Disabled; and

[Page 2657]

Whereas Life Improvement for the Disabled is continuing to get new requests from individuals for the use of their transportation services while others have been forced to cancel appointments with doctors and dentists and some disabled students have missed school, while the vehicle used to transport them is out of service because the organization does not have enough money to bring the bus up to provincial inspection standards;

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier and the Minister of Community Services immediately review the situation being faced by LIDA and help this organization get its bus back on the road, thus providing needed transportation to many disabled persons.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour.

RESOLUTION NO. 1299

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

Whereas when the Premier announced his government's offshore supply vessel program, he never admitted that the assistance was limited to the Irving-owned Halifax Shipyard under a deal made nine months earlier; and

Whereas Peter Kinley of Lunenburg Industrial Foundry and Engineering is among those who have spoken out against the uneven playing field that the Liberals created; and

Whereas Mr. Kinley said, I am not happy that one yard was singled out for support over others;

Therefore be it resolved that a Liberal Government, which disappoints the Kinleys of Lunenburg, has hit new depths of mismanagement and incompetence.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Antigonish.

[Page 2658]

RESOLUTION NO. 1300

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

Whereas the Canada Post Flight For Freedom Literacy Leadership Awards recognize the outstanding contribution of agencies active in the promotion of literacy and lifelong learning in our communities; and

Whereas Saint Francis Xavier University in Antigonish has long been associated with a tradition of strong support for community development through education in Nova Scotia; and

Whereas the X-Project, a volunteer tutoring project at Saint Francis Xavier University, recently won a Canada Post Flight for Freedom Literacy Leadership Award;

Therefore be it resolved that this House extend its congratulations to the X-Project and Saint Francis Xavier University for their outstanding contribution to literacy in our communities and for the recognition they have earned through receipt of this award.

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 Argyle.

RESOLUTION NO. 1301

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

Whereas last week the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture stated for the record that he has concluded that the upcoming Donald Marshall, Jr. appeal is a federal issue; and

[Page 2659]

[6:45 p.m.]

Whereas the minister's lack of appreciation for the significance of a case involving long-term implications for resource use in this province is not just disappointing, it is inexcusable; and

Whereas the minister's lack of regard for the fishermen in this province should not be allowed to continue one minute longer;

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier step in, demonstrate some responsibility to Nova Scotia's fishing industry and instruct both the Minister of Justice and the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture to immediately prepare an intervention on behalf of Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice and passage without debate.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

RESOLUTION NO. 1302

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

Whereas the Bedford Institute of Oceanography just wrapped up their most successful open house yet; and

Whereas BIO is a unique oceanographic science facility in Canada; and

Whereas the open house offered thousands of members of the public an opportunity to see many unique oceanographic applications and advances first-hand;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the Bedford Institute of Oceanography on its open house and on its far-reaching work in advancing both the science of oceanography and Nova Scotia's reputation as a centre of oceanographic research and technology.

[Page 2660]

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Richmond.

RESOLUTION NO. 1303

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

Whereas the Woodlands Department of Stora Port Hawkesbury recently produced its second annual Forestry Green Balance Sheet for 1997; and

Whereas the green report gives an honest look at the environmental impact of the Stora operation and indicates areas that need improvement; and

Whereas the report is an important part of Stora's environmental management system and examines long-term sustainability, biodiversity and conservation of the social and cultural values of the community;

Therefore be it resolved that this House commend Stora Port Hawkesbury for responsibly reporting their progress toward sustainable forest management and congratulate the management and employees of Stora for considering the concerns of the community in every aspect of their operation.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice and passage without debate.

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 2661]

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cumberland North.

RESOLUTION NO. 1304

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

Whereas the Minister of Economic Development has seemingly been unable to understand that there is more to his job than forking over money to whoever might request it, while hoping he and his government can brag about a few hundred jobs that government money has created; and

Whereas the minister should be able to comprehend that an aggressive marketing strategy must be in place in order to have companies from around the world interested in setting up a new business or relocating their existing ones to Nova Scotia; and

Whereas nearly $40,000 in travel expenses were incurred by one civil servant on three trips to Italy in 1996-97 in an attempt to lure Italian businesses and jobs to Nova Scotia, only to see the jobs go by the wayside without one word of explanation when the present Minister of Economic Development sworn into office;

Therefore be it resolved that in future the minister ensure that proper use of government funds are incurred.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Pictou West.

RESOLUTION NO. 1305

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

Whereas Nova Scotia Power Incorporated, a private corporation, is by legislation exempt from paying municipality property and business occupancy taxes; and

Whereas Nova Scotia Power Incorporated receives the same benefits from municipal government as all other commercial and industrial property users; and

[Page 2662]

Whereas the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities, at their annual convention last week in Yarmouth, unanimously supported the concept of Nova Scotia Power Incorporated paying their fair share of taxes;

Therefore be it resolved that this government amend the appropriate legislation to eliminate this municipal tax exempt status and require Nova Scotia Power Incorporated to pay full municipal property taxes, based on assessment, with appropriate tax sharing as a gradual phase-in over a five year period.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Pictou East.

RESOLUTION NO. 1306

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

Whereas a three day environment conference hosted by the Union of Nova Scotian Indians will begin tomorrow in Sydney; and

Whereas approximately 150 people are expected to attend this conference to share information to address environmental issues, both on reserves and off; and

Whereas among the topics to be discussed are waste management on reserves, improved environmental health, and cleaner water in the Bras d'Or Lakes;

Therefore be it resolved that members of the House recognize the significance of this conference and applaud the efforts of the Union of Nova Scotia Indians in organizing and hosting this event.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver of notice.

[Page 2663]

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Sackville-Beaver Bank.

RESOLUTION NO. 1307

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 colder weather is upon us; and

Whereas the number of homeless and inadequately housed men, women and teens is constantly growing; and

Whereas it is government's duty to support, encourage and protect the people of this province;

Therefore be it resolved that this government take action to ensure that all residents of this province have access to safe, warm and healthy housing.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Labour.

[Page 2664]

RESOLUTION NO. 1308

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

Whereas on Saturday, October 24, 1998, the International Machinists Association held their Maritime convention at the World Trade Centre in Halifax; and

Whereas the NDP socialist Leader, Robert Chisholm, used the occasion to defend the left-wing policy of the former Premier of Ontario, Bob Rae; and

Whereas all Canadians, including Nova Scotians, are acutely aware of Mr. Rae's policies that led to the near bankruptcy of an economy that is so vital to the overall survival of our nation;

Therefore be it resolved that the extreme left-wing socialist NDP Leader of Nova Scotia reveal his plan of ruin and bankruptcy to the members of this Legislative Assembly and share, with the people of Nova Scotia, his desire to advance the failed policies of Bob Rae.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for waiver of notice and passage without debate.

MR. SPEAKER: I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cumberland South.

RESOLUTION NO. 1309

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

Whereas in September, the Governor General of Canada awarded Bryan Balkam of Oxford, Cumberland County, with the Medal of Bravery; and

Whereas Bryan had placed the life and safety of a friend, Donnie Pye, ahead of his own by diving into the water where his friend was struggling to keep afloat; and

Whereas this act of bravery is a symbol of true friendship and an unselfish act;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this Legislature congratulate Bryan Balkam and wish him all the best in the future.

[Page 2665]

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Halifax Citadel.

RESOLUTION NO. 1310

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

Whereas 60 years ago today, the Bluenose won its final race, defeating the American schooner, the Gertrude L. Thebaud; and

Whereas the illustrious ship, then 17 years old, still handled as smartly as ever, a tribute both to the Nova Scotia shipwrights who built her and her Captain, Angus Walters of Lunenburg; and

Whereas despite the best efforts of Captain Walters and others, the Bluenose was sold to carry freight to the West Indies, where she later foundered on a reef;

Therefore be it resolved that this House acknowledge the memory of this fine Nova Scotia racing schooner and endeavour to cherish and nurture our Nova Scotia heritage.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

[Page 2666]

The honourable member for Digby-Annapolis.

RESOLUTION NO. 1311

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

Whereas it has been revealed that the RCMP has cancelled leave for their 16,000 officers located across Canada between mid-November, 1999, and late March, 2000, due to the potential impact of the millennium computer bug crisis; and

Whereas a recent Canadian Press story stated that Canada is not prepared for the millennium bug and that supplies of electricity, water and gas are vulnerable as of January 1, 2000; and

Whereas senior executives and policy analysts from within the Nova Scotia Government met secretly to go over contingency plans in the event of widespread power outages and other emergencies on January 1, 2000;

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier detail what progress, if any, is being done to combat the millennium bug computer crisis.

Mr. Speaker, I would request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton The Lakes.

RESOLUTION NO. 1312

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

Whereas three outstanding Nova Scotians were invested last week into the Order of Canada, which pays tribute to those who exemplify the highest level of citizenship and whose contributions enrich the lives of others; and

[Page 2667]

Whereas Dr. Kenneth Ozmon, long-serving President of St. Mary's University was bestowed the honour of Officer in recognition of his national service and merit; and

Whereas the honour of Member was bestowed on Acadian teacher, writer and historian, J. Alphonse Deveau of Salmon River and on esteemed, internationally recognized conductor, Georg Tintner;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate these three Nova Scotians on their investiture and thank them for their contributions to Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I would request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

RESOLUTION NO. 1313

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 Atlantic Expressway Committee of the Antigonish Chamber of Commerce is working tirelessly towards finalizing a new route for an Atlantic expressway through Antigonish; and

Whereas the Louis Berger Report suggested three alignment options, which were all deemed to meet safety standards when senior transportation officials met with committee members last May; and

Whereas the Minister of Transportation and Public Works has now informed committee members that an independent safety assessment is required but, to date, has refused to meet with the committee or entertain their suggestions that they be included when the terms of reference are being struck for this assessment;

[Page 2668]

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Transportation and Public Works immediately set up a meeting with the Antigonish Chamber of Commerce Atlantic Expressway Committee to discuss this independent safety assessment.

Mr. Speaker, I would request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.

RESOLUTION NO. 1314

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

Whereas municipal councillors and others from the Strait area are concerned that the proposed eight inch lateral to Point Tupper is too small to meet demands for natural gas on Cape Breton; and

Whereas councillors and residents of industrial Cape Breton are also concerned about the inadequacy of the proposed lateral; and

Whereas the Premier last week dismissed such concerns as being ridiculous when they were raised by the member for Sackville-Cobequid during Wednesday's Question Period;

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier should begin to listen to the legitimate concerns of elected municipal officials from Cape Breton and become more supportive, rather than dismissive, of their concerns.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Lunenburg.

RESOLUTION NO. 1315

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

[Page 2669]

Whereas municipal government is often referred to as the order of government closest to the people; and

Whereas municipal government in Nova Scotia delivers many of the services which our citizens require cost-effectively; and

Whereas the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities has recently completed its annual meeting in Yarmouth;

Therefore be it resolved that the House of Assembly congratulates municipal government in Nova Scotia for a job well done and wishes the new executive of the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities well for the coming year.

Mr. Speaker, I would request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Yarmouth.

RESOLUTION NO. 1316

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

Whereas the Third Yarmouth United Baptist Church provides a spiritual home for the residents of Yarmouth; and

Whereas the church was founded in 1843; and

Whereas last week, the church celebrated its 155th Anniversary;

Therefore be it resolved that the House congratulate the congregation on this joyous occasion.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 2670]

[7:00 p.m.]

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Kings West.

RESOLUTION NO. 1317

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 Sisters of Charity who operate the Mother Berchmans Centre were encouraged to spend $4 million to upgrade the Mother House in order to receive a nursing home license; and

Whereas after completing the $4 million upgrades, the Sisters of Charity were uncharitably told their application was rejected;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Health come clean with the Sisters of Charity by confessing his department is playing politics with nursing home licenses and, further, that he immediately instruct his departmental staff to meet with the Sisters of Charity in order to reactivate their application for a nursing home license.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for waiver.

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.

[Page 2671]

RESOLUTION NO. 1318

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

Whereas the fund-raising for school athletics has become an ongoing concern for coaches, parents and players in all schools across Nova Scotia; and

Whereas the past graduates of the hockey program at Sir John A. Macdonald High School recently organized an alumni game and celebrity roast at the St. Margarets Arena; and

Whereas a great crowd of past and present students, teachers and parents enjoyed a great evening together while raising almost $1,000 for this year's edition of the Sir John A. Flames;

Therefore be it resolved that this House offer its congratulations to the organizing committee of Art Campbell, Paul Smith, Craig Cavicchi, Dale Ryan and Dennis Doyle on a job well done, with best wishes for a successful hockey season.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Kings North.

RESOLUTION NO. 1319

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 Town of Kentville has for several years sponsored a fall festival centred around the pumpkin people; and

Whereas tourists and visitors from across Atlantic Canada have visited Kentville to enjoy this great example of community spirit; and

[Page 2672]

Whereas hundreds of Valley residents have decorated their homes and businesses with pumpkin people;

Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia Legislature congratulate Mayor Pearl, the council and residents of Kentville and the surrounding area for this community activity, entertainment, fun and family celebration.

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

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour.

RESOLUTION NO. 1320

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

Whereas the member for Cape Breton Nova recently compared himself to one of the century's greatest leaders, Sir Winston Churchill; and

Whereas delusions of grandeur are not only unseemly but can also be dangerous; and

Whereas these are rather cramped quarters, not allowing much room for swollen heads;

Therefore be it resolved that this House remind the member for Cape Breton Nova that we have all heard the brilliant words of Sir Winston Churchill, we have all admired the courageous actions of Sir Winston Churchill and you, sir, are no Winston Churchill.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Sackville-Beaver Bank.

[Page 2673]

RESOLUTION NO. 1321

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

Whereas there was yet another truck accident on the Hammonds Plains Road just this morning; and

Whereas that particular stretch of road is too narrow, too busy and the speed too fast; and

Whereas it is up to the government to give its taxpayers value for their tax dollar;

Therefore be it resolved that the Department of Transportation recognize that the people who live and drive on the Hammonds Plains Road deserve safe driving conditions provided by its own government.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

Did the honourable member want waiver of notice?

MS. GODIN: Yes.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

ORDERS OF THE DAY

GOVERNMENT BUSINESS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

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

PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

[Page 2674]

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 22.

Bill No. 22 - Health Research Foundation Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The bill was adjourned by the honourable member for Kings West and he has about 59.5 minutes remaining.

The honourable member for Kings West.

MR. GEORGE MOODY: Mr. Speaker, I do not expect to detain the House for 59 and one-half minutes, but I will for a short time. I do have some things I want to talk about on this piece of legislation. I want to say that I am supporting the legislation. I think it is good legislation. I think for a long time we have not done enough on health research.

A lot of the work that has been done in this province unfortunately has been on clinical trials. There is nothing wrong with having clinical trials but that is where most of the money has been spent by pharmaceuticals in this province on any kind of research. I think it is time that this province show some leadership and it is a good idea to get in the area of setting up a health research foundation. There will be, as has been mentioned already, jobs that go with it. Hopefully we will be able to attract specialists. We have lost a number of specialists by this government's policy. It is ironic that the same government that drives away the specialists is trying to figure out how to bring them back. We do need to bring them back. No matter whom you talk to in this province they will tell you we have lost, since this government came to power in 1993, many of the top specialists of this province. Unfortunately, now we have to go by another means to bring them back.

As we look at this piece of legislation where the government is being appointed by Governor in Council, but I am hoping the government will allow a board like this to choose its own chairperson. I think more and more as I hear from groups that they are better able to get together and choose the person who they feel best could lead them as a group. So often government decides that maybe it is a Liberal or a political person they make sure is the chairperson so they think they can control the group. That is not necessarily the case. Not necessarily do we always get the best leader by the government appointing a friend. What we want is good people on the foundation and we will get some good people on the foundation and if the government is comfortable that we will get some good people on the foundation, allow them to meet and allow them to choose the person they feel best able to chair that council.

I hope that we can get an amendment before this bill is all the way through the House, all the way come back. I will be supporting the bill to go to the Law Amendments Committee before we go to Committee of the Whole House, that we look at allowing the council itself to choose its own chairperson from among themselves. Leaders will come to the top. You get a group of people around and you know what you want, you want someone there that the

[Page 2675]

council members feel comfortable with and can support. I will be looking hopefully for some support from some people in this Chamber to try to get that kind of a change.

It is ironic that we have a government putting all the money into this foundation, yet if we want any information the Freedom of Information Act does not apply. We are finding the same thing with regional health boards. If it is government funded, what is wrong with the Freedom of Information Act applying to that foundation, to anything that is totally government funded? What is being hidden? What is being kept that is not what the public or others should know about? So why, Mr. Speaker? I firmly believe that if the government is paying the bills that the Freedom of Information Act should apply and I think should apply in this case.

It is ironic that this foundation is exempt from taxation when we have Oakwood Terrace over in Dartmouth, for seniors, that is taxed. We could correct that Oakwood Terrace situation in this Legislature by passing legislation so that a seniors' home which is a non-profit organization would not be taxed. I do not disagree that the foundation should not be taxed but I also agree that Oakwood Terrace should not be taxed.

The only part is that the government promised during the election $5 million and they have $500,000 in the 1998-99 budget. We are all disappointed. I know the people at Dal and everyone else is disappointed that we are not getting the $5 million, we are only getting $500,000. I suppose the argument is that we have to start somewhere. I agree that we have to get on with this foundation. I am a little disappointed, as I know the people at Dalhousie are, that the money isn't there, but hopefully this government will keep that commitment, if they ever get a chance to do another budget, that they will commit the $5 million that they talked about.

There is no question, Mr. Speaker, that we need to look at outcomes, we need to take a look at some health research to know, are we getting the best value for our money. Because you know, we lots of times have public debates, lots of times, debates about, are we spending our money wisely, are we getting the kind of healthy outcomes that we want, and are we effective in the way we are doing it. This will give us an opportunity to have some hard and fast data that I hope, if this foundation comes back with some recommendations, that it won't be like this government did to the Health Council. When it comes back with some concrete recommendations that the government didn't like, they don't appoint anybody, they let it disappear like they did with the Health Council.

What assurance from this government are we going to have, that when this group reports on ways to reach the kind of healthy outcomes that we want, this government will actually act? I know that it seems like this government has a record, that if you are critical of them, they want you out of the way. You can't speak the truth, you can't speak in a way that affects their policies. Well, if this foundation is going to do as the minister has set out, to research health outcomes and research public health policies, they may, obviously, be

[Page 2676]

sometimes critical of the government. So, what assurance do we have from this government that if that happens, that the foundation won't disappear in the same manner that the Health Council disappeared?

Mr. Speaker, a lot of Nova Scotians, including myself, have very little trust in this government when it comes to health care and commitment, because they talk about it, but what they have done in the past, they do not have a record. They do not have the trust of Nova Scotians when it comes to health care. Nova Scotians will be very suspicious. I am very suspicious of whether they will actually follow through on what they have said they will follow through in this foundation.

I said the other day that action speaks louder than words, and this government has failed to produce any action yet. When they have denied all along that there isn't anything wrong in the health care system, but it is awful strange that they are now going to have a look at their public health policies. On one hand, they say everything is wonderful, and on the other hand, they recognize that something has to be done in order to gain the confidence of Nova Scotians once again in health care.

Mr. Speaker, this is just the beginning. I have felt for many years that Nova Scotia could have more research money spent in this province than we have had in the past. Pharmaceuticals are quick to come here, because of our university and our hospitals, tertiary care hospital, to spend some money on clinical trials. They have only touched on the other areas of research. We have had some announcements in some areas of research, but small amounts of money, hundreds of thousands of dollars. I consider that small, because in order to do the kind of research that has to be done, we are talking about millions of dollars. It will pay back dividends.

Not only the government has to put their money in, but this foundation has to become credible so that it can track funds from pharmaceutical, so that that money will be spent here and the jobs will be here as well to go with it. That is really what it is all about. This is a beginning and we have the university and we have the personnel, but we need to attract investment from pharmaceuticals if we are going to make this a success.

[7:15 p.m.]

So we have now started, Mr. Speaker, and I will be supporting this bill as it goes on to the Law Amendments Committee and we will hear what others have to say and see how along the way that we can actually make this bill a better bill and make it so that government is at arm's length, and somehow it has to be at arm's length. If the Minister of Health thinks he can diddle daddle and control it, then it is not going to be successful. So, hopefully, it will be at arm's length. Hopefully we can make some small amendments to make it better at arm's length and make it more effective and reach the kind of goals that I feel that we all want to reach.

[Page 2677]

So, Mr. Speaker, I will be supporting Bill No. 22, An Act to Establish the Nova Scotia Health Research Foundation as it goes along and, hopefully, to the Law Amendments Committee. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I rise to speak in support of Bill No. 22. My colleague, the member for Halifax Needham, was up on behalf of our caucus on Friday and indicated our caucus's support. She took the time, initially, to point out, of course, we were quite disappointed the government failed to move forward on this initiative back in the spring. We were gratified, nonetheless, that they finally tabled the bill on the heels of us having tabled a similar bill from the NDP caucus. We recognize, coming into this House, that it has been far too many years now that the Province of Nova Scotia has been talking about the need for provincially funded health research, but successive governments have failed to put their monies where their collective mouths were. So, as a result, here we are in 1998 still debating, still trying to see legislation go through the House.

I want to say, at the outset, before I turn my attention to the legislation itself, that when the government brought its budget down last spring, I, for one, was extremely discouraged and surprised by the lack of mention in the budget or, in fact, in the Speech from the Throne, about the commitment this government had made during the election campaign to establish and fund to the tune of $5 million a Nova Scotia Health Research Foundation, Mr. Speaker.

During that election campaign on March 17th, the government made great hay with the fact that they were going to put provincial funds up for medical research in the Province of Nova Scotia. There was great fanfare. It was a commitment made at Dalhousie University, Mr. Speaker, and I quote here from a Globe and Mail article dated March 18, 1998, where the Premier, the Leader of the Liberal Party at that point said that they were going to be spending $80 million a year more, remember that? $80 million a year more on health care to make more beds available and hire more doctors. The Leader of the Liberal Party said then, "'Frankly, I'm amazed this hasn't happened before now', Mr. MacLellan said. 'Having been in Ottawa, and knowing the amount of [research] money that comes from the federal government and Nova Scotia is missing, it's just criminal'.". You can just see him shaking his head, can't you? "He said the announcement couldn't be made before the campaign because the province was only recently able to come up with the $5-million.". Well, we know what happened to that $5 million and another $78 million. It went missing.

I think it is interesting that the Premier and his colleagues came out and made this commitment during the election campaign. It was, of course, on the heels of a commitment that had been made by his predecessor a little while before, actually back in 1993, during another election campaign. The then Leader of the Liberal Party, John Savage, had vowed to create the foundation.

[Page 2678]

The Leader of the Liberal Party in 1998 was right, it was criminal that the government had failed up to that time to make such an announcement. But then we got into the spring session of the Legislature and the government of the day under Premier MacLellan, still in power by the skin of their teeth but still in power nonetheless, had the opportunity to fulfil their commitments and lo and behold in the Speech from the Throne not a mention of the health foundation. We get to the budget and it was not there, 5 million smackeroos, it was not there for the Health Research Foundation, no legislation planned for the House.

It is fair to say that many on this side of the House, particularly in the New Democratic Party caucus were extremely concerned about the absence of that information. It was only until we got into debate on Supply under the Health Estimates that we uncovered that there might be $0.5 million set aside for the Health Research Foundation but then the minister explained to us that there was no intention at that time of bringing in legislation. So at that time he said, why bother with the $5 million, we do not need it. We are not setting the foundation up yet, we won't deal with it until the fall so we do not need to set it.

It is fair to say the member for Halifax Needham, our Health Critic, had a lot to say about the backing off of that commitment, as I did. We in turn argued to the minister that at the very least, even though we were astounded, as was the leadership from the Dalhousie Medical School, that the government had backed off entirely on their commitment made during the election campaign for clearly political partisan purposes, to establish and properly fund, to the tune of $5 million, this Health Research Foundation. We said, at the very least bring in a piece of legislation, let us debate it and pass it here in the spring to give the opportunity for those at the medical school and otherwise interested in this foundation to get it going, to get is started, to get it established. We went so far in trying to pressure the Minister of Health of bringing in our own piece of legislation, Bill No. 21, you may have seen it.

Bill No. 21 establishes a medical research foundation. Much to our surprise, satisfaction and indeed, pleasure, on the following day the Minister of Health himself introduced the bill that we are dealing with today, Bill No. 22, an Act to Establish the Nova Scotia Health Research Foundation. The bill itself is lacking in a few areas and we will deal with that. Nonetheless we finally got him to put it on the table and we are glad of that. It is unfortunate that the minister did not have the conviction to - because we certainly supported it and I think we might have even gotten some support from the Third Party because they had indicated some support for it during the election campaign. We probably could have gotten that bill debated and put through this House in that spring session and we made that clear to the Minister of Health, that we were fully in support of this, we had introduced our own legislation that was the comparable superior but that we would certainly agree to support this legislation but you know what happened. The budget got voted on, got supported by a majority of members and the government decided to cut and run at that time. We did not get the opportunity to deal with such an important piece of legislation.

[Page 2679]

The whole question of the need for a Health Research Foundation hopefully has been articulated and is understood by all members of this House. In Canada, annually, in the area of $10 billion is spent on research, 1.5 per cent of the Gross National Product in this country, a huge investment. Our ability here in this province to not only create jobs but to generate the kind of research that is so important for us on so many different levels, which I will discuss, is extremely important and something that we should certainly be well onto already.

I believe we are the eighth jurisdiction in this country to establish a Health Research Foundation. Other provinces - Alberta, British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, New Brunswick - already have such a foundation set up. In Alberta, the budget in 1997-98 was in the area of $37.3 million; in British Columbia, the foundation in 1997-98 was in the area of $6.5 million; in Ontario, $39.2 million; and in New Brunswick, it is well into the $0.25 million to $0.5 million area.

Mr. Speaker, it is an area that other jurisdictions have recognized deserves and certainly needs support, and it is something that finally this government has at least seen fit to bring in legislation. That is extremely important. We certainly applaud it. While it is late, we applaud it nonetheless.

If you go back, the whole question of the need for a research foundation was documented in and advocated for in the 1989 Report of the Royal Commission on Health. Further, in 1993, the report, the Physicians' Advisory Committee Report - I have it here somewhere, but there were a couple of different reports associated with the Blueprint Committee - it had advocated that, in fact, this research foundation be established. The government has dragged its feet to this point.

We surely recognize that the key objectives of the health foundation include identifying, in Clause 11(a), ". . . research priorities through consultation and communication with government, health boards, organizations, institutions and individuals;". One of the things that we in fact had proposed in our legislation - and we will be looking for changes to this - is the idea of setting up a scientific advisory committee to advise the government and the foundation in its deliberations in making sure, in fact, that the decisions with respect to research funding and research decisions are not tainted by politics. We want to make sure that this foundation is in fact arm's length from the Governor in Council, and we will be considering ways to do that.

In Clause 11(b), "allocate funds to support the Province's health-research priorities and capacity development, including the retention of skilled personnel. One of the concerns that we have heard from the medical school is that they have a serious problem in trying to retain professionals who want to do research here; at the same time, they want to apply their experience in a clinical setting. Mr. Speaker, that is extremely important. Without the funding many of these professionals have left or are on the verge of leaving.

[Page 2680]

[7:30 p.m.]

We want to see the establishment of, in Clause 11(c), ". . . a peer-review system, including where appropriate peers who reside outside of the Province, to ensure that scientific and ethical standards are maintained in awarding all grants. Again, that is extremely important, that it is coordinated to ensure that, in fact, it is at arm's length from the Governor in Council. Clause 11(d), "communicate research findings; (e) establish a forum for interaction among health-care researchers and those who could apply the findings; and (f) actively seek both private and public money for the working of the Foundation.".

Mr. Speaker, we currently have some research continuing to be conducted with respect to - thank you, Mr. Speaker, I am just checking my notes to find out what else is happening in the world - we currently have some very serious medical research going on at the present time and it relates to the cancer research in industrial Cape Breton. The issue there, as you well know, is that there has been very little coordination. There has been a number of research studies, epidemiological studies and others that have been done with respect to the high cancer rates and high death rates as a result of cancer in the industrial Cape Breton area related specifically to the environment, the working conditions, the coke ovens, Muggah Creek and so on.

Part of the problem is that since the early 1980's, this research has been done in an ad hoc way by different bodies and there has been very little coordination. The result, of course, is that recently we have had two important studies done, one by Health Canada and one by Dr. Judy Guernsey that have raised alarming concerns with respect to cancer rates for people living in industrial Cape Breton and primarily, or not primarily but, in particular, in the Sydney area. As a result of the lack of coordination with this kind of research, even though we get these alarming results, the response from the government has been that, well, we have got to do further research. We have got to examine in some other way what it is and how it is that this all makes sense.

That very much points to the need for this kind of a foundation, to coordinate and to properly fund and to take out of the political arena the funding of those kinds of studies so that the analysis can be done by the scientific community and not by the politicians, Mr. Speaker, and that clear recommendations in terms of action will come and need to come out of it. That is what needs to happen.

If we had set this Health Research Foundation up back in 1989 when it was first recommended, or in 1993 when the then Liberal Government got elected, as they promised, then maybe we would not again here in 1998 be saying to the people in industrial Cape Breton, well, yes, we have got these studies which show that you are at serious risk living in that community but we are going to do more study. We are going to delay further what it all means because we do not want to deal with it. That is why this kind of a research foundation is important, Mr. Speaker, and why it is really criminal in many ways that this government has

[Page 2681]

dragged its feet, failed to make that kind of a commitment to the people of Cape Breton and, certainly, to the people of all Nova Scotia.

We think it is extremely important, the research, the evidence is there. In 1995 the Deputy Minister of Health appointed a health research task force to develop this health research strategy. It was chaired by Dr. Lynn MacIntyre, the Dean of the Faculty of Health Professions at Dalhousie, again urging that such a foundation be established. We want to make sure that in the spirit of those recommendations that the definition of health research in fact be broadened and we will be dealing with this at a later stage in debate, at the Law Amendments Committee and then again at the Committee of the Whole House to ensure that the parameters in which this foundation will be operating will be sufficiently broad that we ensure that we are able to get the maximum amount of efficacy out of this particular foundation's efforts.

The task force I refer to in 1995 set out a working definition of health research as follows: Health research covers a broad spectrum of inquiry, analysis and dissemination, including basic biomedical research, clinical, environmental and epidemiological studies, psychological, social and behavioural research and research in population health, health promotion, evaluation, health economics and health systems. That is a definition that I hope will in fact be captured by the objects of the foundation in terms of Clause 4 as outlined in this legislation, but we are going to have to focus some attention to that when we get into the Law Amendments Committee.

I know that there will be experts from the medical school who will come before the Law Amendments Committee, I hope, I expect. I know they are interested. I know they were disappointed at the time in the spring when the government failed to make any efforts to move forward on this issue, that in fact we make sure that this legislation is appropriate, that it is proper and that it will in fact do what we all want it to do.

The benefit of a Health Research Foundation in terms of the possibility for improving health outcomes for Nova Scotians, improving our health as a population, but clearly there are also very many economic benefits that would occur from the establishment of a Health Research Foundation. Those would include the better management of health care resources - surely something that we all recognize is sadly lacking in this province - understanding the role and the appropriate delivery of those resources through the regional health boards, but with the critical part of that regionalization which is the community health boards.

We have to ensure that the decisions relative to how those resources are going to be spent and how best to meet the health care needs of the citizens of this province are in fact made in the community. That is the best way to ensure proper health outcomes from the scarce dollars that we have in this province. We must also ensure the enhancement of health professionals' education programs in the province and because the health care system is one

[Page 2682]

of the principal drivers of our economy, health research can play a major role in the overall economic success of this province.

It has been suggested by many, including the Premier when he was making his announcement back in the spring, the Leader of the Liberal Party that is, back in the spring, that we are greatly disadvantaged here in this province by not having provincial funds dedicated to medical research. There is a proposal before us right now to look at, as a complement to traditional medical research, the whole role of herbal medicine in the Province of Nova Scotia. There is a proposal before this government and before the federal government. We are optimistic, of course, that the federal government will look at this particular project and fund it accordingly.

If, in fact, we had a medical research foundation established, then we would see the provincial government, through this foundation, in a position to complement this particular proposal as it steps forward, to try to once and for all integrate the clear evidence that has been generated about the effectiveness of herbal remedies, non-traditional complementary medicine and their ability to make people well and to complement the more traditional medical model in this province. It is time that we recognize that there are alternatives and that we must ensure that those alternatives are part of this system, to make sure that people have the opportunity to live healthy lifestyles and to become healthy through whatever means, Mr. Speaker.

Surely, we, in this day and age, are not going to shun a particular remedy because it doesn't fit into the medical model, even though it has been shown and proven, beyond a shadow of a doubt, to make people well. Surely, we are beyond that particular point. So that is a role that the medical research foundation could and should and would play in its capacity in this province, Mr. Speaker, and we certainly are missing, as has been said, considerable dollars to the economy of this province because we don't have that particular capacity at this stage.

I will be joining my colleagues, I think. Certainly, the member for Halifax Needham, who has indicated the willingness to support this legislation. I will be joining her and other members of this House to support this legislation going forward to the Law Amendments Committee. I think it is long overdue. I think, in fact, one has to wonder whether the government has any commitment at all towards this foundation, especially when you listen to the members, like the member for Inverness, who does nothing but suggest that what has this got to do with the lives of Nova Scotians. You know, I say that this has a lot to do with the lives of Nova Scotians. It has got to do with ensuring that the lives of Nova Scotians are more healthy, that we make sure that the research is conducted to make our workplaces healthier, our communities healthier and the ways of treating illness in this province are made more effective. That is why this is so important and why the government dragging its feet is, in fact, so criminal and why it has left us at a disadvantage.

[Page 2683]

The example that I cited is one before us, the medical research that is being done on the situation in Cape Breton right now with the intolerable levels of cancer in Sydney and in industrial Cape Breton, Mr. Speaker, and this government's response to that, which is, well, we don't really know what it means and maybe we have to study it a little more. It is just another reason to drag their feet. Had they gone forward with their commitment in 1993 to properly establish a Health Research Foundation, then we would be in a position where that research would have been properly coordinated, would have been properly analyzed, conclusions drawn and this government would not be able to hide from doing any further action on behalf of the people of Cape Breton because they don't understand what it means.

I urge members, including the member for Cape Breton West, who doesn't seem to me to sound very committed to the concept of a Health Research Foundation, but, nonetheless, I think members on this side of the House are going to continue to pressure this government to finally live up to the commitments that they have been making since 1993. We are going to continue to pressure them to do the right thing, Mr. Speaker, even if they can't recognize what those right things might be. Thank you. (Applause).

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Truro-Bible Hill.

MR. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, before speaking to this bill, I would like to make an introduction, with your permission. In the west gallery is Mrs. Connie Miller, who is the Executive Director of the Institute for Early Childhood Education Developmental Services in Truro. She is here to observe the debate on the private trades bill, should it occur this evening, I would like members of the House to give Mrs. Miller a warm welcome. (Applause)

[7:45 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, I am extremely pleased to see this Act to Establish the Nova Scotia Health Research Foundation introduced. It is certainly something that can perform a major service to all Nova Scotians and people beyond Nova Scotia, if it is implemented fully and implemented well. I was encouraged last spring when the budget indicated that the government would be making the sum of $5 million available to this foundation on an annual basis. I was somewhat disturbed to learn that in the first year in which the foundation will be formed, that the government reduced its commitment by roughly about 90 per cent, and only $500,000 will be made available in the 1998-99 fiscal year.

However, it is a start. This Act and this organization has been slow getting off the ground. All of us in Nova Scotia, I think, realize that $500,000 is better than nothing, although it is $4.5 million less than what was originally committed, but it does indicate that the government is prepared, at least in this small way this year to see that this foundation gets off the ground, and that there will perhaps be some better health practices occurring in Nova Scotia in the years to come.

[Page 2684]

Mr. Speaker, in my opinion, there are three things which are essential to a healthier population in this province and elsewhere. One is education, and of course, our public schools and our families and other organizations that are involved in health education attempt to put the message out. Certain things make people healthier or enable them to function better than other things. You eat certain foods, some foods are better than other foods. Some liquids are better than other liquids. There is lots of information out there. Most of it is very good information. Education about health is one of the things that leads to a healthier population.

Secondly, once people have been duly and truly educated, another thing that contributes to a healthier population is obviously good health practices. The saying is, you can take a horse to water but you can't make him drink. It is the same with an education about health and how people conduct their lives and live their lives in terms of what is good for their physical and mental health and what is not. The idea of encouraging people to live better lives so that their physical and mental capacities are enhanced or at least, at a maximum is important.

The third element I see in improving the general health of our population is research. I am a strong believer in research and the benefits it brings, whether it is in the health field or in the field of education or in the field of political science or in the field of physics or mathematics. Research is essential if we are to progress.

There is so much to be known, and so little time to do it in, and obviously, so little resources committed to it. Research is the third foundation of improving the health of our citizens. I think it is very obvious that the solution to many puzzles is getting closer, in particular, in this case, to puzzles in the health field. We have had tremendous advances in the field of cancer; for example, the Minister of Health tonight read a resolution about Pap Smear Week and the fact that cervical cancer is one that is very detectable and just about 100 per cent treatable. That is not by chance, that is because of research.

Other types of cancer, such as childhood leukaemia, used to be very serious. In most cases people had a very limited lifespan if they contracted leukaemia at an early age or even as an adult. One can only admire those health researchers who have made the discoveries that have made a treatment for diseases like childhood leukaemia possible. Therefore, more people, more young children and more adults are not succumbing to this disease and are able to live full and happy lives. This is not by accident, it is because somebody put down dollars for research. We can go on about many diseases in the same way.

Last week was Mental Health Week and schizophrenia is another disease where many people who have this affliction can live much better lives than they could 10 or 15 years ago. The reason for this is research. We could go as well to arthritis. Now I doubt very much if there is anybody in this House who has not known somebody who has been afflicted with arthritis. The advances in the treatment of arthritis in the last 15 or 20 years have been

[Page 2685]

significant. The reason that the improvements have been there is not because somebody says, gee, I am willing away arthritis but it is because of medical research and it is just so important.

The establishment of this foundation here in Nova Scotia does give hope to many of us that some of these diseases, for which we have not found the final answer, can be attacked here in Nova Scotia. Many of us who will be afflicted with them will be able to live happier and healthier lives. We could continue on with the research.

My colleague for Kings West, Mr. George Moody, was speaking about pharmaceutical research and the impact that research has made in finding new drugs. Probably everybody in this House takes drugs which were not available 10 or 15 years ago and we are all in much better shape because we have these things available to us. Again, that is not because these pharmaceutical companies just dream these up, it is because they were willing to put money into research.

The benefits of research, from a health point of view, are many. I could go through a much longer list of diseases where we all live much longer and healthier because of research. I suppose the ultimate thing is - somebody in here could probably tell me for sure - I think the average lifespan of a Canadian has increased probably four or five years in the last quarter century. That is not just from anything, it is medical research that has taken place; whether it is in surgery for technology, heart bypasses, joint replacements, we can repair aneurisms, all of these things do not just happen. They are because people have done research. This whole field of medical research and what it has done for us has just been remarkable.

Another thing which has really impacted medical research is the advances in technology. We have all of these machines - CAT scans and MRIs and all of these things - and we can find out things about people that we did not know was the matter but we can look inside of people now and find out how the blood is flowing, where a blockage is, is there a swelling in the brain, all of these things, and we could not find this out a few years ago without, in a lot cases, invasive procedures but, again, this is the product of medical research. We may say it is technology, but it is still research related to the field of medicine and we all benefit from it.

Mr. Speaker, I am really delighted, as I said earlier, to see this government finally introduce this piece of legislation, although I am disappointed in the dollar amount and the fact that it was not introduced last spring because I think, as even the Leader of the Opposition acknowledged - and I do not like to agree with him too much - probably most people on this side of the House would have, indeed, supported the government had that bill been introduced last spring.

Another positive advantage of this medical research foundation is that we have an excellent medical school here at Dalhousie. Dalhousie Medical School has an internationally known research program, but because of the limited amount of funds that are available for universities these days, and university dollars, the education dollars have been cut back, you

[Page 2686]

know, the medical school or the medical researchers, they are the same as everybody else, they pack up and they go someplace else. So we have lost many competent or too many competent practitioners, theoreticians and other types of researchers simply because there has not been the funds available so that they can conduct the research here in Nova Scotia. This foundation, one of the other advantages of it is it will enable Nova Scotia not only to retain but to recruit many people, you know, international class researchers to come to Halifax and conduct the research here.

I dream of the day, Mr. Speaker - and I do not like to talk about it - that we can get a journal coming out of Halifax that deals with medical research that would be something like the New England Journal of Medicine which we hear quoted all the time. It would be nice if we had that type of research capacity here in Nova Scotia, and I see this bill as perhaps moving towards that.

Another advantage of strong medical research is if we are looking at building a community here in Halifax, or in my home community of Truro-Bible Hill, if there is a good health facility, people will move into a community. This has been one of the cries, of course, of the rural members where they are losing medical people, but if we can get good health practitioners, or if we had good health researchers here in Halifax, in particular, with Dalhousie there, then it is going to mean that we are going to make Halifax the place and people are going to move in here because they know that we have a world-class medical facility. We will not have that until we have a sufficient research going on to support that type of facility.

Having said that, there are some things in the bill that I think can be improved and I would like to turn to those now. I would say, before beginning, Mr. Speaker, it is certainly my intention to support this bill in the strongest way and move it on to the next stage, but I do believe there are some questions that this proposed legislation raises that I think, as it gets into the next stage, should be considered.

First of all, in looking at the objectives of the foundation, it says that one of the objectives of the foundation is to, Clause 4(b), "study all matters referred to it by the Minister and, where required by the Minister, report its findings to the Minister.". I would see that this research foundation might be of a more general use if it was at arm's length from the government rather than being sort of an arm of it.

[8:00 p.m.]

This is the way the legislation reads to me. If the government is in a position to dictate what that research foundation is going to do, then it may not indeed really be a strong research foundation. For example, we have an 'epidemiologist' here in Nova Scotia whose job is to conduct medical research and if all the epidemiological studies which will be carried out under the Department of Health, if the Minister of Health says, no, we are taking that line

[Page 2687]

from my budget, I think we will move all of those studies under the Health Research Foundation which it appears to me to be perhaps possible, Mr. Speaker, the way the legislation is written.

I would be afraid that if the foundation does not have a little bit more independence than it appears to me is intended here in the bill, then a good many of these routine things which are deemed as public health matters by the Department of Health, they may be more survey research as opposed to perhaps some more theoretical research which is really needed. For example, the problem that we have up in Cape Breton now with the report that the metro Cape Breton area had a higher prevalence of cancer than other areas of the province. There are two types of research, I guess. One is you could go up and you could go around and you could count the number of cases of cancer that there are to document this, but this probably may be the job of the epidemiologist. On the other hand, my opinion is that the research monies that would be expended on this horrific problem might be better used in trying to solve the problem rather than simply to describe it.

Depending on how the government would view this foundation, if it views it as simply an arm of the Department of Health or the epidemiological section of that department, then there is a chance that some of these fundamental matters that this foundation could deal with, they will not have the funds to do it. I would see that, Mr. Speaker, as being a bit of a problem.

I would also look then at Clause 11 of the bill which says "The Foundation shall (a) identify research priorities through consultation and communication with government, health boards, organizations, institutions and individuals.". The members can read the rest of that particular section but if we compare what is in Clause 11 with what is in Clause 4(b) there does not seem to be all that much consistency. Clause 4(b) says the foundation, one of its objects is to, "study all matters referred to it by the Minister and, where required by the Minister, report its findings to the Minister;'. Yet in this particular Clause 11 it says to, "(a) identify research priorities through consultation and communication with government, health boards . . .", and so on. In one case it kind of reads to me that it is the government that may be in a position to dictate to this foundation. On the other hand, in Clause 11 of the bill it seems to talk about the foundation as an arms' length organization. I think that it may be well to clarify that during the Law Amendments Committee process.

Similarly, if we go on to Clause 12, we will see that, "Each year, on the date fixed by the Minister, the Foundation shall transmit . . . a three-year plan of its proposed activities, including amounts estimated to be necessary for its financial - . . .", and all of those things. If the organization is going to be used to deal primarily with the problems that are referred to it by the government, then it may not be possible to do this three year plan. Then in the regulations, I believe, it said, Mr. Speaker, that the Governor in Council would fix the amount to proportional distribution of funding to health research categories. This would be fixed or

[Page 2688]

regulations prescribing the thing and they would also prescribe, in Clause 20(b), ". . . the maximum proportion of expenditures to be used for administrative purposes;".

We either have a foundation which is operating on its own, or we have a foundation which is basically an arm of the Department of Health or some other agency of government. I don't think it can be both ways. I am pretty sure, Mr. Speaker, that that was not the intent of the government when this legislation was put together. But looking at it, as I see it, there is this inherent inconsistency within the bill itself.

I notice, too, Mr. Speaker, that there is going to be a board of directors of a maximum of 10 people, but this board of directors will be appointed by the Governor in Council. Despite the fact that there is some reference in here to consulting with health care groups - no reference to university that I saw - but with some health care groups, to allow the Governor in Council to appoint all of those people without any consultation with other groups, I am not saying that they won't, but it may be wise within this particular legislation for somebody to think well and wisely about who might best be the persons that should be consulted about the formation of the board of directors for the Nova Scotia Health Research Foundation.

I do note, as well, that the Governor in Council will appoint both the chair and the vice-chair of the board of directors. I am not entirely sure, Mr. Speaker, if I understand why that is going to happen and why they are going with an appointed chair and an appointed vice-chair, as opposed to allowing the board to select their own head and deputy head.

Those are just a few thoughts I have, Mr. Speaker, about the legislation. I would just like to reiterate that I congratulate the government for bringing in this legislation. I wish it had a greater dollar amount to it. I wish it had had the $5 million that was promised last spring, instead of the $500,000 that they are talking about now. I look forward to this foundation as being a positive force for the lives of Nova Scotians. If this research is conducted well, and for people all over the world and, hopefully, this bill will get a rapid passage through the next stage and that the government will act with all dispatch in seeing that the foundation is up and running at the very earliest possible date. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Citadel.

MR. PETER DELEFES: Mr. Speaker, I would like to take a few moments to speak in support of Bill No. 22. It is a welcome measure. It is very similar to our own bill, Bill No. 21, which was similarly entitled An Act to Establish a Health Research Foundation. I am very pleased that, at long last, we will have such a research foundation. With the establishment of the foundation, we will be the eighth province to have such a research foundation. Better late than never.

[Page 2689]

The government promised, during the recent election campaign, to establish a research foundation and to fund it to the tune of $5 million. Unfortunately, only $500,000 was set aside in the budget. That was a disappointment to the medical research community, I can assure you, Mr. Speaker. Nevertheless, such a foundation will certainly enhance the research potential of Dalhousie Medical School and other institutions doing health research. The cutback in federal funding from the Medical Research Council, totalling some 15 per cent over the last few years, has certainly taken its toll on the research activity at the Dalhousie Medical School.

Too much effort has been devoted recently to scrambling for grant money on the part of scientists and researchers. There has been, in fact, a dearth of funds to support health research. In fact, many of our top scientists and researchers at the university are so hard-pressed financially that they are spending money out of their pockets for office furnishings, carpets, that sort of thing, so desperate is the financial situation. In fact, the lack of funding is discouraging top scientists from pursuing careers in medical research, our top scientists are looking elsewhere, going into medical school or into other areas, but staying away from scientific research. Properly funded, health research will ensure that highly skilled researchers will remain in Nova Scotia.

Health research not only includes research at the medical school, it involves health research along the entire continuum of the health professions. It includes nursing, occupational therapy, physiotherapy, pharmacy, social work, and so on. It is not just clinical research we are talking about. It is important also that the foundation look at preventive measures. Not only medical research, but as well, health research, research into health-public policy, health utilization research and health promotion as well.

We all know that health research creates jobs and improves knowledge on how to achieve and maintain health. It provides seed money to local researchers making it possible for them to compete in national research competitions for scarce research dollars. We also know that research in universities has already produced biomedical and health related devices which are then spun off and create jobs for Nova Scotians. One of the functions of Innovacorp, the province's Crown Corporation which helps commercialize high-tech industries, is to spin some of these products off into commercially viable products. As I say, thus creates jobs and much needed revenues for Nova Scotians. We know that for every $1 million spent on health research, 34 high-paying jobs are created. These in turn generate thousands of dollars in provincial government funds.

Mr. Speaker, it is also important that we involve communities in setting the research agenda. This was one of the strengths of our bill. It is not emphasized in Bill No. 22, but we hope that the foundation will involve community health boards and regional health boards in all health projects. They can help set health priorities for health promotion, outcome research and health services research.

[Page 2690]

Another of the strengths of our bill, Mr. Speaker, was that it set up a scientific advisory committee to advise the foundation on all research projects. This appears to be absent in Bill No. 22, and it is something that was recommended by the Health Research Task Force. It would advise the directors of the foundation with regard to the overall priorities of research objectives and directives. It is also important that there be an arm's length relationship between the government and the foundation. Previous speakers have spoken of this arm's length relationship. The researchers need to be free to pursue research without political interference.

As the member for Halifax Needham pointed out, Dr. Guernsey's study of cancer rates in the Sydney area was initially funded by the province, and then funding was withdrawn because of an ostensible methodological problem with the study, unfortunately. Funding was secured outside the country, in California I believe, and an important piece of research was conducted, that of course has serious implications for Nova Scotians. This whole episode emphasizes the need for an arm's length relationship between government as a funding resource and the actual research being done.

I believe we can strengthen Bill No. 22 in Law Amendments Committee by ensuring that the foundation is properly funded, first of all; that it ensures a role for community and regional health boards; and that the research conducted covers a broad spectrum of inquiry, including population health, health promotion and health systems, as well as clinical, environmental and biological, social and behavioural research. Hopefully these suggestions are incorporated through the Law Amendments Committee process, then I think we will have an excellent health foundation that will well serve Nova Scotians. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

[8:15 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

MR. JERRY PYE: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity to speak before this Legislative Assembly on an Act to Establish the Nova Scotia Health Research Foundation. Allow me to tell you that, in fact, this Liberal Party touted that very foundation in 1993. It was the result of this New Democratic Party passing Bill No. 21 that caused the Liberal Party (Interruptions) Not passed but introduced, brought before the Legislative Assembly, Bill No. 21, in order to prod this Liberal Government into living up to its commitment to health care and a health foundation within this province. Remember in the 1998 provincial election campaign, this provincial government promised Dalhousie University a $5 million research foundation with respect to that.

I want to speak about Dalhousie University and the contribution that Dalhousie University and its medical research centre provides. Dalhousie University, through its Medical Research Foundation, provides a tremendous amount of research and development into medicine in Nova Scotia. Allow me to tell you that they work in concert and complement the

[Page 2691]

finest hospital facilities that there are in Nova Scotia knowing the IWK-Grace Hospital as well as the Women Health Centre that is there. I want to tell you that, in fact, this bill provides the opportunity if, in fact, it is passed and hopefully with recommendation, it provides the opportunity for Nova Scotians to see a health care foundation second to none.

I do recognize a colleague of the Third Party who indicated that it would be nice to see reports that come out in the New England Journal of Medicine published here in the Nova Scotia journal of medicine, as a matter of fact, I want to recognize that. But we have to recognize what a health care research foundation would do. First of all, it would attract and retain skilled medical research workers in this particular field, not only the highly skilled research workers but it would attract and retain those who are presently here. The millions of dollars that, in fact, would follow through not only nationally in Canada but we are looking at the international picture as well, the international reputation of a health foundation that is second to none. It attracts the international expertise that would come to Nova Scotia and, in fact, initiate a tremendous amount of millions of dollars as a result of spin-off.

I want to tell you that there are medical research fields and health profession fields that we have to look into such as nursing, physiotherapy, pharmacy and social work. If I can just backtrack for a minute with respect to the international medical dollars that would come with respect to having a health research foundation, we also have to look at the private and public dollars that would fall into place as well. We have some very serious areas which require medical research at this particular time.

I talk about environmental illness and environmental research. When we talk about environmental illness and research and we look at the Fall River medical clinic and we recognize that environmental illness is, in fact, one of the single most important debilitating diseases and takes people away from the workplace today is the very area in which there needs to be a tremendous amount of research and development in that particular field.

We also talk about an area that is extremely dear to my heart and that is in-depth research into post-polio syndrome. I do not know if many of the Members of the Legislative Assembly are aware that most of the individuals who had contracted poliomyelitis back in the 1940's and 1950's suffer a debilitating disease called post-polio syndrome. It has not had the ability to have the kind of research and in-depth study that a Health Research Foundation would provide it.

I have to say also that I believe it was last Thursday night there was debate on a bill with respect to CT scanners and those are, of course, computerized tomography scanners. What happened is the government congratulated itself on paying 75 per cent of these computerized scanners to hospital health boards. I did not get the opportunity to speak that night but I just wanted to bring back to the attention of the Members of this Legislative Assembly that, in fact, the Dartmouth General Hospital's Charitable Foundation, recognized the need for a CT scanner back in April 1998. In fact, the minister's letter of support was on

[Page 2692]

August 20, 1998. So, in fact, the Dartmouth General's Charitable Foundation had already recognized the very need for this and had already allocated the fund-raising funds to put it in place.

Along comes the government in its self-congratulatory measures indicating that, in fact, it had contributed and that it was going to do a great justice to the hospital community. Now, mind you, thank you very much for the 75 per cent, but remember that that 75 per cent is over a three year period and that, in fact, there is no interest charge placed on that 75 per cent. I just wanted to bring that clear with respect to the government's commitment with respect to the millions of dollars that it promised with respect to medical research in Nova Scotia. It had, in fact, made its commitment that there would be some $5 million. Eventually during budget deliberations and budget estimates we had found out that that number had diminished to approximately $500,000. We do recognize that that is a start. We do recognize that there is very little that can be done but we certainly hope that the government recognizes that in its future budget that, in fact, it allocates the sufficient dollars that are needed and required to do research into the medical field, particularly into health outcomes and to health services research.

I remember as a matter of fact the former Premier, Dr. John Savage, who sat as a Mayor of the then City of Dartmouth, and he brought forward the healthy communities concept. The healthy communities concept was derived out of, I believe, the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, and with due respect to Dr. Savage, Dr. Savage as well. The healthy communities concept is very important, Mr. Speaker, because it gives the opportunity to communities to play an active role in health research and the development of health within that particular community. It also goes to the very bone of healthy communities recognizing that, in fact, there are better spent dollars if it is spent on the social end with respect to social services and with respect to dollars going into people's mouths for nutritional value so that there is this need of not depending upon a health care system which costs $400 a day versus a $40 a day half decent meal. We recognize the research and development and there will be and there should be with respect to that very social policy some research and depth into that very field and that very area.

We have to recognize that there needs to be better management of our community resources, Mr. Speaker, and the better management of our community resources can only be done at the community level. We recognize that there needs to be an arm's length from the government with respect to research and development by this very foundation because if government is allowed to dictate what, in fact, the research and the development should be and what the outcome will be, then we truly do not get the autonomy of a health research educational institution that ought to be looking after the very best interests of the citizens of the province and of the country.

[Page 2693]

We have community health boards which, in fact, can complement the health foundation which will, hopefully, Mr. Speaker, have a very active role to play in this particular field. We also recognize that, in fact, our communities have become much smaller because of technology, and because of technological advances in the community we also recognize that this Health Research Foundation can go out there in the communities and distribute their research and their findings and taper it to the particular needs of the particular community throughout the province and throughout the country.

We need the tremendous amount of research that is required if we are going to move into the next millennium. Then we need to recognize that there has to be a foundation that, in fact, will be able to address these very issues. Public policy is a very important issue to me. The research foundation can address those public policy issues. When we talk about alternative medicine we look at alternative medicine and we know sometimes the effectiveness of this alternative medicine that has been passed down through history. However, we do need deeper research and in-depth study of that alternative medicine. That alternative medicine can come through a Health Research Foundation study with respect to the needs of the citizens and of this province.

I must say that I do have some concerns with respect to the arms' length and the autonomy, as I have already spoken. I also think that it is singularly most important that this board, if it is set up as the Health Research Foundation and the board that complements this very foundation, has the power within itself to select its own chairperson. I think it is very important not to allow government and the Governor in Council to make this selection, but in fact that the board be allowed to make the selection among its peers, as has been suggested. Also, I would hope that there are recommendations out of Bill No. 21 which my colleague, the MLA for Halifax Needham, has brought forward with respect to scientific research and advisory. I think it is very important that we look at those particular fields, that we certainly look at that level of research and that level of in-depth study, as well, with respect to scientific research.

I can only say, in summary, that I do support Bill No. 22 in principle, but I would hope that we as a government can be cooperative and recognize the important segments of Bill No. 21, which has been presented to this Legislature by the MLA for Halifax Needham, and in fact incorporate those particular sections of Bill No. 21 into Bill No. 22 so that we come up with a very comprehensive health foundation bill that is not only going to serve this province, but the Dominion of Canada as well. Mr. Speaker, I do thank you again for the opportunity to speak on this bill.

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

MR. PAUL MACEWAN: Mr. Speaker, I had not intended originally to participate in the debate. I did not feel that this was a bill that would engender much controversy and I am

[Page 2694]

certainly not among those who would call for speedy passage of legislation and then proceed to prolong the discussion of the bill.

I want to say that this is a government bill. It represents government policy. It represents the outcome of extensive consultation with the Nova Scotia Health Research Foundation. It represents extensive work within the Department of Health. It represents extensive work and commitment by the Minister of Health who brought this bill forward to government caucus, where it was given considerable consideration, and after much deliberation and weighty measurement it was endorsed by the government caucus, passed on to our legislation committee, which also gave it a thorough vetting, and then brought it forward here to the House through the Minister of Health as a result of extensive deliberation and input and commitment, this especially being the case because it represented the implementation of an election commitment made earlier this year.

[8:30 p.m.]

There has been some mention made of the fact that the bill has only been introduced now and was not introduced at the spring sitting. To that, I would indicate, sir, that in my view at least, this is the spring sitting. This is the continuation of a session that was adjourned in June and resumed in October; we simply continued on where we had last left off. It is not a new session of the House, it is a continuation of the previous session. We have introduced it at the first opportunity because of the very great amount of input, consideration and research that was needed to bring the research bill forward. That is why the bill hasn't come forward until now.

Some have said that this bill is deficient. Some have suggested it is deficient because it provides for political appointment by the Governor in Council of the members of the board and also for direction from government of the activities of the foundation. Well, Mr. Speaker, at the very tail-end of the earlier portion of this session of the House, the Official Opposition brought in a bill, Bill No. 21, which incorporates, in my view, all of the main features that have been criticized of Bill No. 22. Bill No. 21 certainly provided for Order in Council appointment of the members of the board, Bill No. 21 stated that, "The Governor in Council shall designate a director to be Chair of the Board.".

Further to that, Bill No. 21 stated that, "The foundation shall study all matters referred to it by the Minister and, if required by the Minister, report its findings to the Minister.". And further, "The foundation shall establish policies in accordance with the priorities established by the Minister.". That is what the bill, brought in by the Official Opposition, stated in part. The government brings in a bill incorporating the same provisions and we find ourselves the butt of extensive rhetoric for having brought those particular provisions forward. I say, sir, that that indicates perhaps a lack of research by those that have made those comments on the bill to establish the Health Research Foundation.

[Page 2695]

Mr. Speaker, I don't intend to speak at length on this bill. We have heard some rather meaningless comment from across the way. We have even heard lectures on 'epidermiological' studies and on an 'epidermiologist. Now an epidermiologist, of course, would be a scientist, a researcher concerned with the epidermis, which is the outermost layer of the skin. What we need in Sydney, or what we had in Sydney, was an epidemiological study, which is based on epidemiology, the study of epidemic disease. Quite a different thing from a study of the skin. So I just wanted to make that observation as an indication of perhaps the lack of research, the lack of homework, that has characterized some of the comments we have heard here this evening.

Mr. Speaker, the nuts and bolts can be fine-tuned in the Law Amendments Committee; that is what we have the Law Amendments Committee for. Second reading debate in this Chamber is on the principle of bills and the principle involved here is to establish a research foundation for Nova Scotia. Either we are for that concept, that principle, or we are against it. I am for it. The other speakers have stated that they are for that too, so I don't see where there should be too much need for controversy in these matters. I think the best thing we can do, if the bill requires any fine-tuning or adjustment, is to move it forward to the Law Amendments Committee and I would urge the House to do that.

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

DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, I listened with great interest to the last member who spoke. He made some excellent points. I would like to talk about Bill No. 22. I believe it is a step forward, although belatedly a step forward. There was a lot of talk about setting up the Health Research Foundation before it actually happened. I believe it has particular significance now, because I think it will do some very important things, things that will, in the long run, strengthen the medical community, the health delivery system of Nova Scotia.

We have all felt, over the last number of years, that here in Eastern Canada, here in Halifax in particular, there had developed what we like to call a centre of excellence in terms of medical personnel. All of us who laboured for years in the health care delivery system were conscious of the pool of strong people who were working within the university, within the clinical setting here in Halifax, and felt very confident that we had something that was really strong and really good here in Nova Scotia.

Now, a lot of that has started to blow away in the wind, as we see a lot of the expertise that had centred here in Halifax gradually leaving this province because of the ill-advised reform policies of the current government. Now the Health Research Foundation, as well as attracting the personnel - and I think that is an extremely important part of what this foundation will do, it will start the process of re-attracting personnel to Nova Scotia, who will, in a very positive way, impact the Dalhousie Medical School. It will impact the residency programs at Dalhousie - it will impact the delivery of clinical medicine right across this

[Page 2696]

province as more and more experts, who will be participating in the research, and will as well affect the clinical side of medicine here in Nova Scotia.

There will be the potential for in-depth analysis of the Nova Scotian health scene. I, like many in this place, am extremely concerned about health care statistics right across this province. We look at cancer levels, we look at the levels of cardiovascular disease, we look at the levels of diabetes, we look at the levels of drug dependency, be it tobacco, be it alcohol, or be it the dependency on hard drugs or the dependency on gambling. All of these are health-related issues that require study. We cannot make the assumption that studies that are done outside of our province are necessarily relevant to the situation that we have here.

Others have said, and I echo, we have to take a long serious look at the health care environment in industrial Cape Breton. We must evaluate health hazards in industrial Cape Breton and determine the most effective way to eliminate those health hazards and to return to that area of the province a healthy environment, one in which all of us would be very happy to spend our time. We have to look at the specific problems of Frederick Street, a problem that has recently surfaced, and as yet for which there is no reasonable solution.

I believe that all of this is very positive. I would be astounded if this particular piece of legislation is not voted for by all of the members of the House. But there is a little bit of caution, this foundation can only do what it is intended to do if it is adequately funded. There was a commitment made by the government, by the Premier prior to the election, and a commitment that has been confirmed by many who were at that meeting that day, at that announcement, that in fact the government was going to initially provide $5 million as initial seed money to set up the foundation. Lo and behold, the budget comes out, the $5 million had fallen even more dramatically than the Canadian dollar, it became $500,000.

It is interesting that on the day the Premier made the announcement, not only did he announce that there would be an initial seed grant of $5 million to the foundation, he did say afterwards, and this has been confirmed by others, that the $5 million was to become an annual grant. We are a long way from achieving what this research foundation can do, simply because the funding won't be there; $500,000 will really just ignite the burners, it really won't set the thing up and running and do all of the things that I have predicted it can do, and others have predicted as well that it can do.

We must be very cautious that as legislators, as participants in the political process of Nova Scotia, we do not drive expectations and then as a matter of convenience simply back away from the commitments that we had made as public people. I believe that while much will be achieved by this foundation, I believe it is a step on the road back to re-establishing the level of expertise that once existed in this province but on the other hand it will only happen if, in fact, appropriate funding is there.

[Page 2697]

The other good thing, Mr. Speaker, is that once the research foundation is up and running, it will attract other money, out-of-province money for research projects that will be undertaken and for which out there is a number of sources of out-of-province funding that can be attracted once the expertise is in place here in the province. So I look forward to this bill going to the Law Amendments Committee. I look forward to it coming back for third reading and eventual passage by this House. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Sackville-Beaver Bank.

MS. ROSEMARY GODIN: Mr. Speaker, I have to say that this bill presents a very welcome initiative to this House and this province. Last week I was listening to the Minister of Health move the second reading of Bill No. 22 - An Act to Establish the Nova Scotia Health Research Foundation, and it really begged the question of what took this government so long. A coordinated health research strategy is certainly needed and, in fact, it is long overdue.

I think that is very evident when you realize that our medical school is the only one in the country without the support of a provincial research foundation and this undoubtedly has short-changed our province in more ways than one. I also want to say at this time that one of my sons is a student at Dalhousie. He is studying neuroscience and I am very proud of both him and the university. Neuroscience is an area of emerging research and sometimes he tells me he is thinking about being a student at Dalhousie Medical School. So I feel I have to declare that because I, obviously, have a personal interest in the support of medical research in this province.

The minister outlined the ways that Nova Scotia has been short-changed in the past, a difficulty in attracting funds, a difficulty in attracting specialists, and, in fact, the minister said that this new bill should keep our best and brightest right here at home. Well, Mr. Speaker, a lot of them, unfortunately, are already gone and we can only hope that this legislation will encourage medical specialists and personnel to come home and that it will encourage graduates to stay and work and world-class specialists to see this province as we see it - a good place to live and work.

Our lack of a research foundation has not just been a brain drain, as the minister called it, but it has caused a financial drain as well with money going elsewhere that could have been put into our own researchers and our own people but let's not forget that this government promised a research foundation back in the 1993 election campaign and let's not forget that in 1995 a Health Research Task Force recommended that a Health Research Foundation be established. So we have been waiting years for something like this.

I do want to mention that our own Opposition Health Critic, the member for Halifax Needham, introduced Bill No. 21 that is very similar to Bill No. 22. Other speakers have drawn the obvious correlation between the lack of a Health Research Foundation and the

[Page 2698]

unfortunate - and, in fact, it could be called tragic - situation of the high incidence of cancer in Sydney. If the government had followed through with its election promise of bringing in something similar to Bill No. 22 early in its mandate in 1993 and we had our own research foundation working with medical people all over this province, we might have identified this problem so much sooner and been able to act on it that much sooner.

This bill does have potential, Mr. Speaker, but noticeably absent from it is an outline or a framework to involve communities and health consumers in further planning.

[8:45 p.m.]

The 1995 Health Research Task Force recommended setting up a scientific advisory committee to advise on all research projects. This is also something that is not addressed in Bill No. 22. These things might provide a mechanism for the management board to operate independently of the government but also closely with consumers who can only benefit from being consulted themselves.

I think that in the best interests of Nova Scotians, this bill should pass second reading and go forward to the Law Amendments Committee where hopefully it can be improved on and to use words that were used earlier, the nuts and bolts and, yes, the nuts and bolts do have to be worked on. We can put legislation in place that serves the best interests of the people of this province. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Preston.

MS. YVONNE ATWELL: Mr. Speaker, I too would like to add my voice to this bill. As we have heard from most of my colleagues who supported this bill, I too support this bill with amendments. We have talked about the similarities to Bill No. 21 and have also talked about the election campaign and what that meant. We talked about the silence of the government.

We also talked about Dalhousie University and what a fine educational institution Dalhousie is in terms of research potential and what needs to be done there. We also talked a lot about the medical school and how that needs to be enhanced in terms of research potential. We also heard how health research can create jobs and improve the knowledge of how to achieve this, how to attract and maintain highly skilled researchers to the province. We also heard about providing seed money to local researchers which is very important as well.

Some of things that we have not heard this evening I must talk a little bit about. What are some of the factors that the community would want to see that would be established in health research? We have not talked a lot about minority communities or women, we haven't talked a lot about aboriginal communities, we haven't talked very much about children and

[Page 2699]

the kind of research we may like to see there and what this foundation may mean to those individuals.

My concern is regarding community input. For example, in the Province of Nova Scotia the incidence of asthma is very high, higher than the national average in Cape Breton; it is also higher than the national average in the black community as well. One of the questions we need to ask is why. Why are many of our children contracting asthma? Why are the children struggling and fighting with it? There is no research to date that will help answer some of these questions, in terms of the high incidence of asthma in Nova Scotia. There are also other issues, for example, in minority communities around issues such as sickle-cell anaemia, a trait that is very prominent within the black communities.

Very recently there were five young women who were tested at random for sickle-cell anaemia, after taking some workshops with the Black Women's Health Program. Out of the five women, two of them had the sickle-cell trait and if it were not for this Black Women's Community Health Program who were doing some local community research, they would not have been able to find out that they did have the trait. So this is another area for research that we have not even talked about.

There is also the issue around drugs within the minority communities. There are certain drugs that are toxic to those individuals who have not been exposed to certain drugs, in the immigrant community, for example, people who come from other countries and what that may mean. Also when you look at certain toxic drugs based on the type of environment of our community and also in the aboriginal community, those issues need to be looked at as well.

When I look at the bill and I am looking at Clause 11(a) where it talks about, "identify research priorities through consultation and communication with government, health boards, organizations, institutions and individuals;". I am trying to figure out, how do organizations such as the Black Community Research Organization get on this committee? What kind of input may they be able to have in terms of setting up this type of organization? Also, how do we look at individuals in the community or how are we going to pick them? How will people on these boards be chosen? So there are a number of issues and concerns that I am sure will be resolved.

Health research must also look at wellness in our communities. We cannot have a research foundation that only looks at the negative part of health. We must look at wellness and what that means, what is needed to ensure that public policy reflects the wellness model of our communities as we move into the 21st Century.

When we talk about health boards, it is really important. They have come forth with many recommendations over the years and, therefore, it is very important that they have input. This input must be more than clinical, it must be broadened. We must also look at implementing and involving a wide spectrum of other health professionals such as nurses,

[Page 2700]

physiotherapists, pharmacists, social workers; all of those people would have vital input into this foundation.

While Bill No. 21 is very similar to Bill No. 22, we also heard earlier about the absence of a scientific advisory committee that we feel fairly strong about in terms of being necessary to establish such an advisory committee, to sit essentially in the role of advising the directors of the foundation. That is something else that is really important.

I believe that we will have an opportunity, Mr. Speaker, to strengthen this bill and to look at some of the issues I have mentioned in terms of minority health and how that can be implemented within the framework of any kind of public health policy or in any kind of policies that are going forward under the foundation. It is very important that there are people from the communities that would be involved in that. So, hopefully, when this goes to the Law Amendments Committee, we will be able to have a look at some of these issues that are very important.

The final thing that I would like to say, as a person who lives in a community where there are many health issues around high blood pressure, heart attack, stroke - which is very prominent within the African-Nova Scotian community - even though it is not scientifically founded, it is believed that the whole issue around racial discrimination is also a factor and a determinant in looking at health research. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings North.

MR. GEORGE ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, I want to tell you, I think all members of the Legislature support this bill, whether its origins came from the government or from the great NDP. They have been claiming ownership of it, and so on, all evening. I think that is marvellous that they do that from time to time. I guess they do that. Anything that is good, they say, we thought of it first. Even if it was only in a dream, they thought of it.

Mr. Speaker, health care is one of the things that is uppermost on Nova Scotians' minds, particularly in the last few years. I know that this bill will help because it is $5 million every year that the Government of Nova Scotia is channelling into pure medical research to help each of us. (Interruption) No, it is not $5 million. It is $500,000. It was supposed to be $5 million, but it is $500,000. It is a 10 per cent discount, 90 per cent off.

Mr. Speaker, over the weekend, I met with two people from my riding for some little time and we were talking about medical research and we were talking about cancer because both of the gentlemen have prostate cancer and one of their wives has cancer as well. They were bringing the topic of delays when you want to be seen by your doctor because there are only 2.7 doctors specializing in cancer in the province, Mr. Speaker. They were indicating how difficult it was because they have particular types of cancer and it is very specialized and more research is necessary at all times.

[Page 2701]

At some points we are trying to re-invent the wheel here perhaps because there has been extensive research done in other areas. I think it may be time our government said to the Department of Health reach out to other regions in North America and tie in with the newest and the greatest research that is being done in cancer and apply that to Nova Scotia. Supposing it means bringing some of the experts here in special training, that is research. Special training for Nova Scotians and bring in a health care system where our doctors don't all want to quit because they cannot practice the type of medicine that they studied in university. When I hear that people are waiting three weeks, four weeks, five weeks, and then those same people if they have the financial wherewithal can fly to New York and be seen that day and operated on the next. New York is not far, Mr. Speaker, if you live in Sydney you can be in New York as quick as you can be in Halifax, if you happen to be driving, because it is only an hour and one-half to New York. You can leave here in the morning, you could make a 1:00 o'clock appointment in New York City with the convenience of these little jet planes that fly from Halifax to New York.

It is not out of the way to be thinking of research so that we are taking advantage of the work that is being done. There is great work being done, but more needs to be done so that Nova Scotians who have suffered cancer or will, can have a better lifestyle and greater opportunities for success. There is nothing that breeds success more than experienced expertise. We have to develop that. We would not be the first area that made an amalgamation with some of these well-known and well equipped cancer institutions and I think that is something the Department of Health should be thinking about. I know they are not because one of the gentlemen made a presentation to the department the other day and he said you are out of order. This is not the road we are going down. When we only have 2.7 oncologists in the whole darn province, Mr. Speaker, we had better get going down a different road than this blessed government is going down now. They do not know there is a crisis and there is. Bringing in a bill that says we are going to spend $5 million and then winding up at a 90 per cent discount and only spending $500,000, is that the answer to the thousands and thousands of Nova Scotians who need help today? I don't think it is, Mr. Speaker. We have to do more and I am not saying we have to spend more money but I think we have to spend it more wisely. It was no problem for the former Liberal Government to go out and hire Danny Reid for $110,000. If you can tell me one earthly purpose, one good thing he has done since he has been there, good. (Interruptions)

That was Winston Churchill. You know the old story about Winston Churchill. You know, Mr. Speaker, Winston Churchill one night . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Principle of the bill.

MR. ARCHIBALD: All right, Mr. Speaker. I would love to say something.

[Page 2702]

There seems to be $110,000 to give to an old back-room hack who needed a job. You are paying $120,000 to a fellow to look after the rules of gaming and gambling, and all he is doing is making a botch of things. (Interruption) Mike Murphy working. There is all kinds of money being spent, and a lot of it in health, but we are missing the patient. We should be asking the doctors, why are you leaving? Some of my friends have left town, they didn't want to leave Nova Scotia, but they did. It is called research. We absolutely, Mr. Speaker, find out why they left, and then we wouldn't have to spend so darn much money.

[9:00 p.m.]

We are at a crisis in health care in this province. It is going to take good (Interruptions) Did you hear that, the Liberal leadership hopeful, he is ever sitting there praying, it is never far from his mind, Mr. Speaker.

AN HON. MEMBER: Always a bridesmaid and never a bride.

MR. ARCHIBALD: No. No. That is right, never a bride, always forever hopeful. (Interruptions) Will you stop that. Mr. Speaker, we are in a crisis of the greatest magnitude in this province. Truly, I do not think this government has grasped the gravity of it, because when we found all the physicians going, we haven't done much to bring them back. We have hired a couple of guys, go out and do recruiting, and they move one from Yarmouth to Shelburne, and Shelburne to Pictou, and say, what a good boy I am, like that guy that was eating plums out of his pies.

But this bill is a good start, and hopefully some of the research will show how we can make it better. I mentioned a way to make it better, by amalgamating and using the services of some other well-known medical facilities that have the proven expertise, and that is what we need in Nova Scotia. Nova Scotians should not be treated as second-class citizens when it comes to health care. At this time, I am not sure that we are even treated as second, it may be way down at the bottom, perhaps it is like Third World, because I hear so many horror stories of people trying to get into a hospital. Once you get in the hospital, I hear nothing but praise of the physicians and of the medical staff that are there, but it is this 16 week wait, the 12 week wait.

Is this research going to show us how we can treat our people quicker? When you are dealing with many diseases, time is of the essence. How is this bill going to make the time delay go away? This bill should go to the Law Amendments Committee, down there in the Red Chamber, and others should come in and have a chat. I hope that they will try to get through to this government that health care is number one. You know, Mr. Speaker, representing the Hants County riding that you do, that in your riding health care is number one. The abuse that these people have put on the health care system puts it at the forefront every day.

[Page 2703]

Mr. Speaker, I will take my place, and let others more versed than I in health care stand up and speak. But I hope that all members realize health care should be the most important issue that we have before Nova Scotians today. (Applause)

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

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I welcome the opportunity to speak and to say a few words this evening on the creation of the Nova Scotia Health Research Foundation. Now, as I begin my remarks, I want to spell out that I don't anticipate that the legislation that is before us is going to be addressing all of the health care needs and all the deficiencies that exist within the Province of Nova Scotia. Quite honestly, in the broadest sense or in the truest sense, I don't know that this particular piece of legislation is intended to address those obvious issues. It is not going to be addressing the number of people who are waiting in line-ups directly, in the hospitals waiting for care.

What it will do hopefully, is it will make this province more attractive for the specialists, those who are knowledgable in research, those who are not only the researchers but also the practising physicians who would be involved, whether that be at one of the medical institutions, at Dalhousie University, this will make this province a little bit more attractive for them to stay or to come back to to practise their medicine and their various skills.

When we are talking about research, as I understand it and I do not claim to be the most knowledgable in this field and I tip my hat to my colleague, the Health Critic, the member for Halifax Needham, in reading her speech, the remarks that she made on Friday, I think that she articulated very well the principles of what the health foundation is supposed to do. Based on the principles, I am not going to pretend for one minute that I can equal the articulate manner in which she put forward the case in support of the bill. For those who did not hear it on Friday I would suggest that they apprise themselves of the debate and read it because it might be very edifying for them and it might even help government members understand why it is they will be following the government line in voting in support of the bill as it goes forward in second reading.

I want to say at the outset that I have absolutely no hesitation whatsoever in saying that I will be supporting this bill going on. I think that this is indeed a very positive step. It is an important step. When this is in effect this will make Nova Scotia the eighth province in this country to actually have a health research foundation and we are right now the only province, I believe, in this country which has a major medical research hospital and teaching institution that does not have such a facility.

When we are talking about research, we are not only talking about medical research, we are not only talking about ways in which you can better treat somebody who has an identified illness. It is also looking at what are the causative factors. We know, for example, that Dr. Guernsey's study into the health care problems in Cape Breton, that the funding had

[Page 2704]

been pulled from that particular study by the government. Dr. Guernsey fortunately was able to obtain funding nationally and internationally that enabled this study to go forward and to provide very important information and evidence to help us understand why there are so many who are living in the Sydney area of Cape Breton who have cancer.

One of the things, when we are talking about health care and talking about wellness is to identify what are many of those causes that lead to a lack of wellness. You cannot, with the greatest respect, automatically draw conclusions from one study as to what are causes in one community, in one environment maybe somewhere else in the world and overlay those and say that those are the same causes, those are the same roots of problems that exist in this province. Just as you cannot say that research that has been done on medical problems addressing men can automatically be assumed that the same consequences or the same effect will happen on women. We know, for example, from research that is being done that conclusions of studies that have been done on men do not necessarily apply equally to women. The same would hold true for different communities and people of different ethnic origins.

It is very important that we have within this province a research foundation that can look at causes and effects of health care difficulties in this province. Once you get a better handle, once we get a better understanding of what that is making people unwell, then we have the opportunity to try to address some of those issues in the forefront so that people will not, down the road, continue to become ill as a result of those particular issues. This is an important move and I congratulate the government for finally moving forward in this. It has been a somewhat long time in coming and we, of course, can remind people of the history, of how in Opposition, the Liberals, back when they were suggesting that the Progressive Conservatives were bad because they had not done this back in 1993, of course, the then Liberal Opposition promised that they were going to be creating a research foundation.

Then, of course, in the interim it seemed to have gotten lost as health care change took place, Mr. Speaker. I say change, not reform, because reform implies that the health care delivery system was improved and gotten better and I have some difficulty when I take a look at what has gone on in the province and I see the state of health care in this province at the current time. I have trouble using the word reform. I have no difficulty saying it is changed but change does not necessarily imply for the better and what this government has done has certainly not improved or sped up the health care delivery in this province.

That is not to say that there have not been some significant improvements in certain areas because there have been some changes and some improvements in some areas, Mr. Speaker. What is crucially important is that what we do, we find out what is working, what has worked and we move forward with it. That is part of what this health research council can, in fact, do. Certainly there are the economic benefits as well. I mean if we are talking about job creation and employment, one of the advantages of this research foundation will be that jobs are created in this province and those will be good paying jobs and that will have a

[Page 2705]

spinoff effect within the economy. But, more importantly even than those jobs, it is going to be, and we are hearing all the time about specialists in this province who are leaving and one of the reasons they are often leaving is that they do not have the support that is needed for research.

This will hopefully help to reverse that trend. It will also be important because although the amount of money that is being given is nowhere close to what this government promised, it will provide some seed money. You will remember, Mr. Speaker, events that took place in this province a number of months ago, back in March, there was an election campaign going on. (Interruption) Even the member for Inverness, I am sure, is remembering that event. Even that member for Inverness, I am sure, would remember his Party and his Premier promising to create the health care foundation. I am sure that he and all members of his caucus were surprised to learn, when the Speech from the Throne was delivered, they forgot about it. It was an oversight, I am sure; as Winston Churchill said from across the floor, the fact that the government forgot about it does not mean anything. No, it does not. It just means that they are acting like Liberals of the past.

Mr. Speaker, it does mean something. It does mean something. (Interruptions) Well, members of the government may say that the Speech from the Throne does not mean anything. Well, the Speech from the Throne . . .

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member will ignore the remarks from across the floor.

Order, please.

MR. HOLM: Winston Churchill.

MR. PAUL MACEWAN: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. I wanted to say that the honourable member overheard me saying that the Speech from the Throne did not need to contain everything. I did not say that it did not mean anything. I said it did not have to contain everything, a little different.

MR. SPEAKER: There is no point of order.

MR. HOLM: I am glad, Mr. Speaker, that the member on his point of order corrected my hearing because my hearing I thought was very good but if the member would like to change his version in the Hansard, he is welcome to do that.

However, Mr. Speaker, a Speech from the Throne is like a blueprint. It is the policy, it is the statement, it is the direction that government intends to follow. That is really what a Speech from the Throne is and the government by omitting this, after they campaigned on it, and I even remember the big press releases and the big show. It made great headlines, a great news story, great news clips of the government down there announcing this and it was going

[Page 2706]

to be $5 million a year. Well, we have got 10 per cent of that and for the government to keep 10 per cent of its commitment that is pretty good for this bunch. That is a pretty good average for this bunch. So they are 10 per cent there.

Mr. Speaker, when it came to the budget, they forgot to announce it there as well. But, of course, that doesn't mean anything either because they forget a lot of things in budgets, especially the numbers that are in the deficit columns. However, that would be getting off track, wouldn't it.

[9:15 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: Yes, it would.

MR. HOLM: It would. Okay, Mr. Speaker, so I won't do that. The reality is that even though not enough, $500,000 that has been promised is important seed money because what it will do is it will help those that are involved in health research and that can mean a whole host of things. It can mean the impact of gambling on communities. It can mean a whole range of anything that deals with wellness. It will help those who are wishing to do that kind of research to have the seed money to help to prepare their ideas, to prepare their proposals, to do the basic homework that is necessary so that they will then also be able to compete on a national or international level for the funding that is out there, from all kinds of institutions and other agencies.

Nova Scotian researchers have been at a tremendous disadvantage because they haven't had that seed money to help them to get together those proposals and they cost money. Those proposals, that research, would be on matters, Mr. Speaker, that you cannot, as the previous speaker for Kings North said, you can't just automatically import something from somewhere else and say that it is going to fit here. But the seed money will help us to prepare proposals and, hopefully, win research contracts and work here that will help Nova Scotians be more healthy, less unwell in the years to come.

In this process, I underscore that it is extremely important that there be an arm's length separation between the research foundation and the government. The research foundation, Mr. Speaker, should not have its strings being pulled by government. There should be independence. There should be a high degree of independence to ensure that they are going to be coming forward with those recommendations about those projects that should be receiving funding and moving forward, that meet health care requirements, not just being led by government's agenda of the day. (Interruption)

Mr. Speaker, I know that Winston Churchill over there, the gentleman that likes to compare himself to the statue down in front of the library on Spring Garden Road and there are many similarities between that member and that statue.

[Page 2707]

MR. SPEAKER: Order.

MR. HOLM: However, the scientific advisory committee that is being proposed in the bill that we brought forward is intended to provide much of that arm's length separation to ensure that the work of that research council will not be directed by government for government agenda, but rather that it will be guided by the highest principles of health care and health care research in the province. I think that that is a very important premise, a very important principle because we all know, and we don't have to scratch very far to see example after example of government interference in how agencies and Crown Agencies and others have, in fact, operated.

There are a couple of principles or a couple of things in the bill that I noticed, Mr. Speaker. One of them, of course, is that each year, the minister on a date that the minister shall provide, the foundation is going to be giving to the government a three-year plan. I am pleased to see that there is going to be some requirement for some long-term planning. In that, it is going to be required to provide amounts of money that it considers that it is going to be necessary to have in the way of assistance from the public Treasury to support the programs and to provide the administrative support that is needed. That, of course, is important.

One of the other things, and if you go on to the next principle that is contained in the bill is one of insecurity for the foundation, because this bill, the way it is worded, provides no long-term commitment of the government towards that foundation. What it says, "An annual grant to the Foundation may be provided . . .", not shall be, but may be provided. In other words, even though the government decides that it is going to set up the foundation this year by the adoption of this legislation, there is no commitment by this government to ongoing financial support for this foundation; there is none, Mr. Speaker, in the way of ongoing guarantees of support for that.

I see that as a difficulty. I am not prepared to say, or I am not going to be so presumptuous as to say how much that grant should be each and every year, but I think that we should have a requirement that there is going to be some funding being provided, so that we will be ensured that at least it will be a matter that will be debated. Here we have the government promising $5 million a year during an election campaign. After the election campaign is all concluded, and after they forgot about it in the Throne Speech, after they forgot about in the budget, then when they are shamed into it, they come up with a 10 per cent solution, and they promise that they will provide 10 per cent of the amount that they promised to offer or provide for this very important project during the election.

I know that there are some members of the government caucus over there who hate to hear the truth, but I am sure that the residents who live across this province, who understand the importance of research and how it is aimed at trying to make their lives healthier, the environment in which they live, a better one, and which hopefully will have the positive effect

[Page 2708]

of attracting and keeping highly skilled medical personnel and researchers in this province, they appreciate that.

They would love to hear why some members of the government benches that introduced this legislation, like the member for Inverness, simply heckle and make fun of those who are speaking of this legislation, rather than getting to their feet and taking part in the debate and talking about the importance of fulfilling an election commitment made to the people of this province by the very government that you sit on. (Applause) That would be far more productive to moving us forward than sitting back, trying to hurl their barbs across the floor, somehow assuming that it is going to distract the person opposite who is speaking.

I want to assure them that none of their barbs is going to deter me from taking my place on the floor of this House to speak in support of a bill like this that I believe is very important. With those words, Mr. Speaker, I will be voting for this bill to go on to the Law Amendments Committee. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader to close the debate.

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the Minister of Health, I would like to close the debate by moving second reading and send this bill on to the Law Amendments Committee.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for second reading of Bill No. 22. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

Ordered that this bill be referred to the Committee on Law Amendments.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 34.

Bill No. 34 - Teachers' Pension Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Finance.

HON. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to move the second reading to an Act to Provide a Pension System for the Teachers of Nova Scotia. I want to emphasize from the beginning that the drafting of this Act has been a collaborative effort between the Nova Scotia Teachers Union and the Nova Scotia Department of Finance. The recommendation to move forward was made a year ago by officials of both groups. The Teachers Union has sent this draft and is fully supportive of the changes and the

[Page 2709]

recommendations within the bill. The teachers' pension plan is a plan for public school teachers in our province and a plan for the faculty at the Nova Scotia Community Colleges. The Act is administered by the Minister of Finance to the Pension Services Division of the Department of Finance. The Minister of Finance is a trustee of that fund.

In 1993, the province entered into an agreement with the Nova Scotia Teachers Union by which both the province and teachers would join in equal participation in the governance of the pension plan. The current Act, however, refers to the Teachers' Pension Board as a body which has become defunct. This board used to have the responsibility for making regulations under the Act, including all pensions and also for the hearing of appeals. The province made a commitment to the Teachers Union in a memorandum of understanding back in 1993. The agreement laid out the arrangements with respect to the joint governance and administration of the teachers' pension plan. The legislation for second reading in the House today facilitates the implementation of this joint governance arrangement that has been made between our government and the Teachers Union; as well, it accomplishes long-needed housekeeping changes that are important to the previous bill.

Significantly, this new bill also contains safeguards, which prevent improving pension benefits without matching sources of funding which historically had been the case. The current Teachers' Pension Act is a combination of enabling principles and the detailed provisions of this pension plan. Some pension plan provisions are also contained in regulations. This mixture has grown up over time and has little underlying philosophy as to why some things are in regulatory form and regulations and why others are in legislation.

Currently, in order to amend most of the previous provisions of the pension plan, we need to bring the bill before the House to amend the Teachers' Pension Act. This process has created lengthy delays in getting approvals for the operational amendments such as, for example, changing provisions of the pension plan to conform with the registration requirements of the Income Tax Act of Canada. Quite frankly, Mr. Speaker, the requirement for the Parties to return to the House for even minor amendments is a throwback to an age to which none of us want to revert. In today's terms, pension plans are a partnership. The details of that partnership arrangement should be subject to an agreement and modifications by all Parties. This Legislature needs to debate the major principles, but the details should be hammered out between the Teachers Union and the government.

In this light, I hope all members will appreciate that this is the format followed in the bill before you today. This proposed structure is made up of a bill that basically contains the constitution of the pension plan and schedules that contain the detailed provisions for the pension plan which will be regulations under the Act. These regulations may be developed and amended only upon a joint action of the Minister of Finance and the union. The Legislature's valuable time will be directed to the bill which contains strategic and directional issues associated with a pension plan, while the partners in the pension plan governance arrangements will be given the ability to adapt to changing circumstances on a timely basis.

[Page 2710]

On critical policy matters, the bill lays out a partnership between NSTU. For instance, the Minister of Finance, on behalf of the province, in the partnership with the union, will decide on all policy matters relating to such a plan and examples of that are: insuring funding levels are sufficient to meet the obligations of the plan; achieving the funding targets set out in a memorandum of agreement; establishing the benefit structure of the pension plan; setting the contribution rates; setting the actuarial assumptions and methods used to value the plan; and dealing with actuarial deficit or actuarial surpluses that may arise. However, the province maintains administrative control under the new structure in several key areas. The Minister of Finance, on behalf of the province, retains the responsibility for the Act, the trusteeship of the pension fund, the day-to-day administration of the plan and represents the province in a partnership arrangement referred to in the 1993 memorandum of understanding.

[9:30 p.m.]

Under this governance arrangement, the province continues to guarantee the pension fund. The new Act, however, provides for the minister to make an agreement with the union, altering the governance arrangement. If a new governance arrangement provides for a trustee other than the Minister of Finance, the province would no longer be the guarantor of the pension fund. The Nova Scotia Teachers Union has played an important role in the process of developing this new bill and is, in effect, co-sponsoring and co-sponsor of this bill. Their support and involvement was obvious when it was tabled in the House just last week when we had the president of the Nova Scotia Teachers Union here.

In summary, Mr. Speaker, this bill is a modern, progressive legislation. It establishes a policy-making and administrative framework which will carry the teachers pension plans into the next millennium. Yes, the 21st Century. It recognizes that pension plans are partnerships. The plan members have a vital role to play in the governance of what is, after all, their pension plan, while, at the same time, protecting the interests of the employer and, in this case, the taxpayers of Nova Scotia. Thank you. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.

MR. HOWARD EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, this measure is a financial bill that comes from the government. One wishes, therefore, immediately to be cautious and sceptical. The essence of this bill is contained in Clause 21. Clause 21 of this bill says, "The former Act is repealed.". The former Act, when you read it, is 50 pages long. The new bill that comes before us is four pages long. How has this miracle of compression been achieved by the Minister of Finance? This is the same miracle from the same minister who, a few months ago, gave us a budget with a surplus, but, three months later, manages to find one with a huge deficit.

[Page 2711]

What has happened is this. If you read the old Act, the existing Act, what happens is virtually all of the existing Act is taken up with the details of what is in the Teachers Pension Plan. It sets out the terms of the plan. It gives all the details of the plan, what the members are entitled to, that is the teachers, what the retirees will be entitled to. It goes on to set out in a lot of detail what exactly are the requirements of that plan. Fair enough.

The difference between the existing Act and the proposed piece of legislation is that all of those terms that now set out the details of the plan would be put into regulations. Now, do we really want to do that? The minister has suggested to us in his introduction that what is appropriate is that this should not come before the Legislature. That the details of the plan need not come before the Legislature. Now, the reason that the minister gives for bringing forward this piece of legislation is he relates it to the 1993 agreement. Everyone remembers that there was a time, and not so long ago, when the plan to provide pensions for the teachers in the province was very seriously underfunded and in a position that threatened the financial viability of the plan and threatened the security, not only of those teachers, but, in fact, since the province was going to be the guarantor, it put a big drain upon the finances of this province to try to bring that plan up to the point where it is adequately funded. It was the right thing to do, to put the money into that plan was exactly the right thing to do.

There was a study facilitated by Dr. David Slater who was brought down from Ottawa at the time to try to get the parties together to discuss what ought to happen and he hammered out an agreement. Part of that agreement was that there were to be changes in the governance structure. Changes in the governance structure of the plan are certainly worthwhile but do we want to rush in, at this point, where the plan is still not 100 per cent funded and move all of the details of the plan into regulations, rather than to leave it in the fullness of legislation. It is not clear to me that this is a desirable move at this time. (Interruption)

We were told at the press conference at which this bill was first previewed last week, that the assets of this fund are about $3 billion. That is a very large sum of money but even at that, it still is only about 85 per cent funded. Although there has been admirable progress made over the last five years in terms of moving ahead of the contemplated schedule of moving up the level of fundedness of this plan, it is still not 100 per cent funded. It will be a while and given the turmoil in the financial markets, it is not clear exactly how long it will be before this plan is 100 per cent funded which means the right number of dollars are in the plan to meet the obligations that are made in the details of the plan to the teachers who are still working and to those who are already retired and to their beneficiaries.

To be at 100 per cent funding is the most desirable state. If we are beyond that then we can deal with that but we are not at that. If we were at that stage we could begin to contemplate the possibility of serious changes to the administration of this plan. But I have to wonder whether this, in fact, is the right step at this time. Now it may be that there are

[Page 2712]

good reasons for doing it in advance of reaching the 100 per cent stage. But if that is the case, I have not heard those reasons advanced so far.

Let us look now, in detail, at how the so-called regulations are to be put in place. There is an amazing provision in this bill. I said that the key of this bill is to be found in Clause 21. There is an amazing provision in the immediately proceeding clause, Clause 20. If the regulations which are now to be relied upon so extensively, not only for defining the plan but for allowing amendments to the plan and a whole variety of other things that I will get to in a moment, if the regulations are going to be the way in which the plan is going to be dealt with in the future, we have to look at how it is that these regulations are made and whether this is a sensible way to go. Clause 20 of the bill says, "The Minister and the Union may make regulations (a) setting out the terms of the Pension Plan;" and, "(b) defining any word or expression . . .".

I have to say that a provision of that sort must be virtually unique in legislation, that actually moves to give a regulation-making power to an entity beyond the immediate apparatus of the government.

I think it is fine that the union be consulted, or that the union have a say, or that the union be heard from as a condition precedent, or that there be input from the union. This is quite right. But this is an interesting provision which I do not recall being part of the 1993 agreement. If there is some genesis to this that makes it clear, I would like to hear it. What is the origin of this particular provision? Is this good legislation? Do we want to have this kind of, essentially, stalemate?

Now the makings of a bargaining process is quite admirable but to actually move it to the point beyond saying that there is mandatory consultation, that there is some kind of consent, this becomes a very strange provision. I am wondering if we will hear comments as to what drives this particular clause.

Now, let us look at another one. I mentioned a moment ago that the regulation-making aspect of this bill is quite extensive. It is not just that the union and the minister can set out the terms of the plan, they can amend the plan, Clause 14(1) of this new bill. They can amend the special payment schedule. This is also an amazing provision. The special payment schedule right now is the one that sets out the amounts of extra payments that have to be made to bring the plan up to a 100 per cent level but this can now be changed again by regulation. It is not clear to me that it makes sense to do this by regulation.

Set the actuarial assumptions, Clause 13(2), again, it is not clear that this is a desirable way to go. This kind of extensive reliance at this stage when the plan is still not 100 per cent funded has to give us pause. These provisions, in particular, the ones that talk about the special payment schedule and the actuarial assumptions are things that are key to the financial balance, safety and risk of the plan. If we are going to go ahead and decide that this process

[Page 2713]

is quite acceptable to be done by regulation, one of the things the minister might have done is table the draft regulations that he has in mind at the same time as the bill. We have not seen hide nor hair of any draft regulations that might implement any of these things, nothing, not one word.

It is not unusual that bills can have attached to them - or can be released at the same time - draft regulations so that we can look at them. That would have been a useful step forward. If the minister has them, we would be happy to have a look at them and examine them.

There is one other point. This is the role contemplated for teachers who have already retired. Right now under the existing legislation there is a pension board which the minister told us was defunct. I assume this means that for whatever reason it just has not been operating. We have not heard what defunct actually means. What we have not heard as well from the minister is the role of retired employees on that pension board, defunct as it is, even though it is set out in the legislation there is to be a representative of the retired employees although one appointed by the Nova Scotia Teachers Union. If it is satisfactory to the employees who are retired that that be the mechanism, then the minister should say so. It would be useful to hear that from them and perhaps when we go to the Law Amendments Committee we will hear from them if this is satisfactory but we have just been hearing at the Law Amendments Committee extensively from a parallel group, the employees who are retired from the Public Service of the Province of Nova Scotia, that they regard themselves as independent stakeholders in their pension fund and they want their own separate representation on any committees that have an effective say about how their plan is run. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. EPSTEIN: In fact, what we know is that for investment purposes, the money that is held in the Nova Scotia Teachers Union Fund is merged with the money of the Superannuation Fund for investment purposes. This makes sense because the larger your fund, the more advantage you can take in the financial market place in terms of dealing with your professional money managers. You get better rates in terms of your ability to make investments, you are better off. This makes sense but there exists a joint investment fund on which the Teachers Union is represented, quite rightly. The Nova Scotia Government Employees Union is represented, quite rightly, but the Nova Scotia Government Retired Employees Association is not represented and they want to be.

If the situation with respect to those teachers who are retired is that they do not want to be represented on such a board, they should say so. That would be a useful piece of information to have put on the record but we have nothing on the record that indicates that. If this is satisfactory, there is no problem but if it is not satisfactory, there is a model, there

[Page 2714]

are all kinds of models in which a comprehensive governance board that includes all stakeholders ought to be structured.

I would look to either the draft regulations, if the minister would be so good as to bring those forward for us to look at to see if they contemplate separate and independent representation for those retirees.

[9:45 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, I have to say that I am left with a number of questions about this bill. Probably the place at which the questions should be sorted out in detail is at the Law Amendments Committee. So I propose that, and I hope, members of the House will see this piece of legislation move on to the Law Amendments Committee so that we can have a detailed look at it. But at the same time, I have to say, I have serious reservations about the wisdom of moving ahead with this particular piece of legislation at this time. It may well be that at a subsequent date, when the fund is at 100 per cent level of funding, it would make sense to do something like this. But at this point, I remain to be convinced. Thank you. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Argyle.

MR. NEIL LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, I have been looking at this legislation, An Act to Provide a Pension System for the Teachers of Nova Scotia. The previous speaker has brought up some very good points and some of the ones I want to echo. One of the ones is, first of all, this bill is basically a framework to bring about the administration of a pension for teachers in the Province of Nova Scotia. It is basically enabling legislation and it is going to mostly be done by regulation.

I would like to say, first of all, the minister said that it would give teachers a much greater role in setting policies for their future pension. I think that is something that he quoted when he said it. I appreciate that you have had a lot of negotiations with the Nova Scotia Teachers Union in trying to bring forward this legislation. We have a lot of questions, I guess, in a sense as to what is going to be put into regulations and that is something that is very difficult for ourselves to ascertain as to what the framework will be, in a sense, as to what will come forward and how you are going to administer this pension. I notice that in here there are a lot of powers, that the minister could appoint a trustee. I look at Clause 11(2) that the minister may have entered, ". . . an agreement whereby the Minister . . . appoint another person as Pension Plan administrator and the Minister thereby ceases to be the Pension Plan administrator . . .".

So I look in here and there are enabling provisions whereby the minister can give up a lot of responsibilities that he has up to now. But it isn't something that is determined that his intention is to do so, or whether this is basically enabling legislation that he could, in the

[Page 2715]

future, if he so decides, move into a different format or a different relationship with the Nova Scotia Teachers Union.

I have had a lot of correspondence and I was reading one from a retired teacher who is basically very concerned about representation. It is very strange that we are discussing this bill here this evening and mentioning retired teachers, because we have been having a lot of discussions about retired civil servants in regards to Bill No. 13, which is the Financial Measures (1998) Act, which involves provisions with the Public Service Superannuation Fund, whereby retired civil servants are very concerned about what is happening in regards to that fund and the lack of input. So I look at this bill and I say that our retired teachers are in the same boat. Are they represented? I think from the correspondence that we are getting in our caucus office, and I don't know whether the Opposition is receiving the same kind of correspondence, they had the same concerns.

I say that if we are going to enact a new bill to look at teachers' pensions, that we really owe the retired teachers of this province a voice. I know that maybe the union leadership is saying that they have addressed that and the retired teachers should be happy with what has been put in this bill and we will take care of them. Maybe the union leadership feels that they have done so but when I talk to the retired teachers, they don't feel the same way. I think, a lot of times, they want to have a voice. If you make decisions in regard to this pension fund, it affects what benefits they will receive. Many people will say, it is predetermined what pension they are going to receive, it is all determined, so they are going to get percentages. What happens a lot of times is if the fund is in very good standing, then those pensioners sometimes can receive improvements in their benefits. They may change the medical provisions that they can receive, more benefits or their dependents can receive those. Or in fact, maybe the percentage that they receive as survivors will receive a higher benefit than what is presently in legislation.

They have a part to play. I think, of any comments that I received in regard to this legislation, it is in regard to the retired teachers. I put the minister on notice, and I think I don't have to, because I think the previous speaker has said it himself, that if anything should really be looked at very closely, it is in regard to the representation, they feel that they want to be part of the process so that if they have concerns, they are part and parcel of any decision that is made, and that they basically aren't left out of the process.

If you look specifically at the legislation, I look at the comments that were made by the minister, and one specifically mentioned here that I liked very much, which I will agree with, is the fact that it requires annual actuarial valuations of the fund. I think, if anything, the volatile situation that we find ourselves in in money markets today is something that we should basically be asking that question. We were here earlier on this week, debating the Financial Measures Act. When we started the process in the spring, it was at 123 per cent valuation, and according to the witnesses that came forward to Law Amendments Committee just last week, it was somewhere around 102 per cent. You are not talking chickenfeed here,

[Page 2716]

you are talking billions of dollars. When you are talking a 21 or 20 per cent valuation in the funding of a pension plan, you are talking millions and millions, hundreds of millions of dollars.

I think that we as legislators, to try to know where we stand and along the lines that we have been trying to get more disclosure on all our public accounts, that these pension plans are part and parcel of that, and we need more up-to-date information. I think, asking for yearly actuarial assessments or valuations of all our pension plans is the right decision to make, and see that there are provisions in here to do that, and I agree with that.

To tell you the truth, it begs the question as to whether or not the Public Service Superannuation Fund is being done yearly now, I believe it is, but I haven't actually specifically seen that reference. The minister is indicating that it is. It used to be three years. I don't know if it is still that or not. I am getting off the topic, I am just trying to draw information from the minister. If it isn't, we should be looking at that for all our pension funds, especially the ones that really impact so much on the public purse.

I look at another provision that is in this bill, that I like, it is the fact that it an independent pension appeal body. We go into this legislation, and I find that there are a lot of provisions in here that I like, but I guess in a sense, the other question that I have to look at, what is it changing from the previous legislation? I notice that there are some highlights the minister used in his briefing notes when the bill was brought in, and I wasn't anticipating the bill to be debated so quickly, so I haven't done my contacts with a lot of the people that I would have done, even for my local area. (Interruptions) I have a few minutes. I am on a roll here, Mr. Speaker, so I will continue.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. LEBLANC: I would like to say that for ourselves, we would like to have the best pension bill brought forward. I appreciate that the leadership of the NSTU has brought about a dialogue with the minister and has agreed with the legislation that is there. For ourselves as a caucus, there are a few provisions that we are concerned about. One of which is basically mostly in regulation, and I think that for our caucus, we are going to be asking some questions, especially at Law Amendments Committee, as to whether or not this has to be to this degree.

This is the smallest pension bill that I have ever seen introduced. Most of them, I think the previous speaker mentioned, the 50 pages, the Public Service Superannuation Fund is also a large legislation. Everything used to be done on the floor of the House, but there are practical problems with doing that. I don't disagree. I have been in Cabinet before and also, sometimes some small provisions that you would like to change which would be agreed to by the union and by yourselves and perhaps by all Parties, and the legislation doesn't get

[Page 2717]

brought in for a couple of years, because you have a heavy legislative agenda and you sometimes do not bring the legislation into the House.

I can sit here and say that there are sometimes some reasons whereby you would like to have regulatory changes that you can bring about to do it; I would like to see it a little more clearly defined as to how the agreement with the union would be entered into. The minister has used, two or three times within this legislation, that the regulations would be by agreement, and I am not really sure what he means by agreement. Does agreement mean dialogue or does it mean a written agreement, that both parties would have to agree to it before the regulation was brought in? That has not really been explained very clearly so, for me, those are the types of questions I would like to be able to ask and I intend to do so, especially at the Law Amendments Committee because I really believe those are the questions that the people I represent would want me to ask.

We are heading fairly late into the evening and, with the agreement of the House, I would like to adjourn my comments and pick them up on a future day.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is to adjourn debate on Bill No. 34.

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 the House will sit from the hours of 2:00 p.m. until 6:00 p.m. and following the daily routine and Question Period, we will continue with Bill No. 34, pick up the adjourned debate and then, if Bill No. 34 goes on to the Law Amendments Committee tomorrow, we will pick up additional business with Bill No. 38.

MR. JOHN HOLM: What are the hours on Thursday and Friday?

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: The hours are 2:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. tomorrow and on Thursday. On Friday we will sit from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. I move that we now adjourn until 2:00 p.m. tomorrow.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is to adjourn.

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

[Page 2718]

The motion is carried.

[The House rose at 9:57 p.m.]