Assemblée Législative de la Nouvelle-Écosse

Les travaux de la Chambre ont repris le
21 septembre 2017

Hansard -- Fri., Oct. 30, 1998

First Session

FRIDAY, OCTOBER 30, 1998

TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE
PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS:
Commun. Serv. - Colchester Co.: Seniors Movement - Moratorium,
Mr. J. Muir 3003
STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS:
Commun. Serv. - Homes for Special Care Act: Violations - Address,
Hon. F. Cosman 3004
GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 1444, Agric.: 4-H Week (Can.) - Recognize, Hon. E. Lorraine 3009
Vote - Affirmative 3009
Res. 1445, Lbr. - Volvo: Dispute Closure - Congrats.,
Hon. R. MacKinnon 3009
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS:
No. 54, Whistleblowers Act, Mr. R. Chisholm 3010
No. 55, Wildlife Act, Mr. M. Scott 3010
No. 56, Senior Citizens' Financial Aid Act, Mr. M. Scott 3010
NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 1446, Justice (Can.) - Workplace Safety: Corporate Responsibility -
Legislation Urge, Mr. R. Chisholm 3011
Res. 1447, Health - Northwood Manor: Strike Contingency Plan -
Responsibility Shared Recognize, Dr. J. Hamm 3012
Res. 1448, Muriel Duckworth (Hfx. Activist): Birthday (90th) -
Greetings Send, Ms. E. O'Connell 3012
Vote - Affirmative 3013
Res. 1449, NDP Leader (N.S.) - Econ. Plans: Explanation Urge,
Mr. R. White 3013
Res. 1450, Lib. (N.S.) Caucus: Research Real - Conduct, Ms. R. Godin 3014
Res. 1451, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Hwy. No. 101: Twinning -
Progress Reveal, Mr. G. Archibald 3014
Res. 1452, NDP (N.S.) - Actions: Lbr. Leaders - Attention Encourage,
Mr. Charles MacDonald 3015
Res. 1453, C.B. Nova MLA - Trust (C.B.): Betrayal - Mirror Look,
Mr. J. Holm 3015
Res. 1454, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Shelburne: Hwys. Garage -
Re-Open, Mr. B. Taylor 3016
Res. 1455, NDPQ - Pro-Federalist (Res.): Support Refusal -
Perfidiousness Demonstrated, Mr. P. MacEwan 3017
Res. 1456, Lib. Leader (Que.): PM Resignation - Suggestion Endorse,
Ms. Maureen MacDonald 3017
Res. 1457, C.B. Centre MLA - Miners Injured: Stand - Take,
Mr. M. Samson 3018
Res. 1458, Educ. - Min.: Report Card (Gov't. [N.S.]) -
Improvement Coordinate, Mr. G. Balser 3019
Res. 1459, Bus. & Cons. Affs. - Condominium Act:
Unit-holders Minority - Amend, Ms. Y. Atwell 3019
Res. 1460, Bill No. 29 - Gov't. (N.S.): Issue Awareness - Ensure,
Mr. M. Scott 3020
Res. 1461, Econ. Dev. & Tourism - Cornwallis Park Dev. Agency:
Econ. Growth - Congrats., Mr. L. Montgomery 3021
Vote - Affirmative 3021
Res. 1462, Justice - Prostitution Educ. Prog. (Hfx. Reg. Police):
Progressiveness - Congrats., Mr. D. Chard 3021
Vote - Affirmative 3022
Res. 1463, Agric. - Beef Farmers: Difficulties - Recognize,
Mr. G. Archibald 3022
Res. 1464, Nat. Res. - SOEP: Opportunities - Recognize, Mr. G. Fogarty 3023
Res. 1465, Educ. - Sir John A. MacDonald HS: Class '78 Reunion -
Congrats., Mr. W. Estabrooks 3023
Vote - Affirmative 3024
Res. 1466, Nat. Gas. - Benefits (N.S.) Maximization: All-Party/
UNSM Approach - Commit, Dr. J. Hamm 3024
Res. 1467, NDP (N.S.) Caucus - Patronage Appointments: Support -
Reveal, Mr. H. Fraser 3025
Res. 1468, Health - Long-Term Care Workers (Northwood Manor):
Strong-Arm Tactics - Abandon, Ms. Maureen MacDonald 3025
Res. 1469, Nat. Res. - Hunters: Safety Record -
Continuance Encourage, Mr. J. DeWolfe 3026
Vote - Affirmative 3026
Res. 1470, NDP (N.S.) - Gov't. Future: Consequences - Heed,
Mr. M. Samson 3027
Res. 1471, Econ. Dev. & Tourism - Ralph Miller (Barber [Hfx.]):
Retirement - Best Wishes, Mr. H. Epstein 3027
Vote - Affirmative 3028
Res. 1472, Culture - RNS Historical Society: Fellowship Conferees -
Congrats., Mr. J. Leefe 3028
Vote - Affirmative 3028
Res. 1473, NDP (N.S.) - Gov't. Future: Path - Question,
Mr. Charles MacDonald 3029
Res. 1474, GG (Can.) - Caring Award: Harley Hazelwood (Kingston) &
Harold Northrup (Cole Hbr.) - Congrats., Mr. D. Dexter 3029
Vote - Affirmative 3030
Res. 1475, Commun. Serv. - Bryony House: Anniv. 20th - Congrats.,
Mr. J. Muir 3030
Vote - Affirmative 3030
Res. 1476, Commun. Serv.: Poverty - Address (All-Party), Mr. J. Pye 3031
Res. 1477, Sports - Hockey: Digby Minor Prog. - Support
(Brian Skrudland [Dallas]) - Thank, Mr. G. Balser 3031
Vote - Affirmative 3032
Res. 1478, Health - Mental Health Assoc. (Cdn.): John Windebank
(Pictou Co.) - Recognition Congrats., Mr. C. Parker 3032
Vote - Affirmative 3033
Res. 1479, Commun. Serv. - Older People: Societal Contribution -
Remember, Mr. E. Fage 3033
Vote - Affirmative 3033
Res. 1480, Agric. - Hall of Fame: Howard Fuller (Pt. Williams) -
Induction Applaud, Mr. John MacDonell 3034
Vote - Affirmative 3034
Res. 1481, Econ. Dev. & Tourism - Yar. C of C: Fisher's Shanty -
Congrats., Mr. N. LeBlanc 3034
Vote - Affirmative 3035
Res. 1482, Coast Guard - Operations: Fish. Comm. (HC) - Review,
Ms. R. Godin 3035
Res. 1483, Agric. - Wild Blueberry & Maple Ctr. (Oxford): Opening -
Congrats., Mr. M. Scott 3036
Vote - Affirmative 3036
Res. 1484, Educ. - Maritime Museum (Atl.): Success (1998) - Congrats.,
Mr. P. Delefes 3037
Vote - Affirmative 3037
Res. 1485, GG (Can.) - Caring Award: Veronica Steele Morgan
(Rich. Co.) - Congrats., Mr. J. Muir 3037
Vote - Affirmative 3038
Res. 1486, Nat. Res. - Offshore: Trust - Solid Reason Give, Mr. J. Holm 3038
Res. 1487, Environ. - Forbes Lake (Pictou Co.): Watershed Policy
Comm. (New Glasgow) - Congrats., Mr. J. DeWolfe 3039
Vote - Affirmative 3039
Res. 1488, Justice - Robbery (North Preston): Commun. Compassion -
Congrats., Ms. Y. Atwell 3040
Vote - Affirmative 3040
Res. 1489, Justice - Long Gun Registration Prog.: Opt Out - Allow,
Mr. B. Taylor 3040
Res. 1490, Housing & Mun. Affs. - HRM: Costs Additional -
Residents Pay, Mr. D. Chard 3041
Res. 1491, Econ. Dev. & Tourism - Sydport: Public Retention - Ensure,
Mr. D. Dexter 3041
Res. 1492, Health - Nursing Homes: Indecision - Reality Face, Mr. J. Pye 3042
Res. 1493, Gov't. (N.S.): Orbit - Blast, Mr. C. Parker 3043
Res. 1494, Vet. Affs. Comm. - Veterans Prog. Post Card: Appreciation -
Express, Mr. E. Fage 3043
Vote - Affirmative 3044
Res. 1495, Human Res. - Unpaid Leave: Voluntary - Ensure,
Mr. P. Delefes 3044
Res. 1496, Inverness MLA: Hallowe'en Costume - Congrats.,
Mr. H. Epstein 3045
GOVERNMENT BUSINESS:
PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING:
No. 38, Private Career Colleges Regulation Act 3046
Dr. J. Hamm 3046
Hon. R. Harrison 3049
Vote - Affirmative 3049
No. 47, Municipal Government Act 3049
Hon. W. Gaudet 3049
Mr. J. Leefe 3052
Mr. H. Epstein 3057
Mr. B. Taylor 3072
Mr. C. Parker 3080
Adjourned debate 3085
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Mon., Nov. 2nd at 6:00 p.m. 3085

[Page 3003]

HALIFAX, FRIDAY, OCTOBER 30, 1998

Fifty-seventh General Assembly

First Session

9:00 A.M.

SPEAKER

Hon. Ronald Russell

DEPUTY SPEAKER

Mr. Donald Chard

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

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

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

MR. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition addressed to the Minister of Community Services from residents who ask her to place a moratorium on any movement of seniors which is against the wishes of their family or guardians from unlicensed seniors homes in Colchester County. There are 81 signatures on this petition, including mine.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

3003

[Page 3004]

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Community Services.

HON. FRANCENE COSMAN: Mr. Speaker, I rise in the House today to provide the honourable members with very important information on work currently being done to address the problems of homes in violation of the Homes for Special Care Act. There have been numerous questions, comments, concerns and criticisms surrounding my decision to enforce legislation. I want all members of this House to know that I take very seriously the responsibilities I have under this Statute for which I am responsible. Our constituency is the vulnerable, the frail and often elderly persons and at no time will I compromise on issues of life safety for these people.

I would like to take this opportunity to provide details with regard to the Homes for Special Care Act and my duty as the minister responsible for this piece of legislation. This is a responsibility that both my staff and I take very seriously. The Homes for Special Care Act provides direction to the Department of Community Services and the Department of Health. This covers such areas as licensing, quality and type of care provided, and fire and life safety requirements.

The Homes for Special Care Act requires anyone wishing to provide care and supervision to four or more persons who are not related to apply for a licence to operate through the Department of Community Services or the Department of Health, depending on the level of care being provided. The Department of Community Services is responsible for Level 1 care. The Department of Health is responsible for the more intensive care known as Level 2 care. A licence is only provided if a number of conditions are met. These include building code requirements and fire and life safety standards. The care or program provided must meet the needs of the client.

Mr. Speaker, we engaged two years in a review of an unlicensed system in this province commonly referred to as the small options system. This review was initiated when we became responsible for funding many of the clients using this system. On April 1, 1998, the department assumed responsibility for case management of subsidized clients province-wide.

Mr. Speaker, small options provide services and care for up to three persons and are regulated by interim standards put in place two years ago. Any homes which have more than three residents cease to be considered small options and come under the purview of the Homes for Special Care Act, and require licensing.

Mr. Speaker, there are a number of settings in the province which are operating in violation of the Homes for Special Care Act. These are the settings that we are addressing. They are providing care to four or more individuals without a licence to operate. Our

[Page 3005]

objective is to ensure the citizens of Nova Scotia are receiving appropriate services in safe settings.

Mr. Speaker, my department will not compromise safety and our government will not compromise the health and safety of those individuals in our trust. It is not only a legal responsibility, but a moral responsibility as well. We are doing the right thing. We are working very closely with our colleagues in the Department of Labour, through the Office of the Fire Marshal. If the fire marshal determines that any setting presents critical challenges from a fire and life safety perspective, we will move quickly and we will move decisively.

Mr. Speaker, if the issue is critical and we have to move individuals to ensure that they are in safe surroundings, we will do that, as was the case for three - note, three - individuals to date. In non-critical situations, we have been and we will continue to work with the operators, with the residents and with their families to provide for a smooth transition to alternate settings in their home community.

Mr. Speaker, my department does not enter into these situations lightly. We recognize there is inconvenience for individuals and we want to minimize this, but upholding the law and the principle of due diligence ultimately overrides all other considerations. We all know that this province has seen tragedies resulting from a lack of due diligence.

I have been personally encouraged by the unsolicited support from our service partners in the field - note, unsolicited support. Yesterday, we received a letter from the Nova Scotia Association of Health Organizations. This is the largest industry association in this sector, which indicates strong support for our position. Mr. Speaker, I want to put this letter into the record as part of this statement.

The Nova Scotia Association of Health Organizations has the view that, "It has long been the position of . . .", their organization, ". . . that it is the responsibility of government to ensure that each facility that provides care to the frail, the elderly and the disabled complies with legislated standards for safety and well being. The importance of this principle is heightened in a continuing care setting as these clients may not be in a position to represent and communicate his/her own interests.".

The health organization, ". . . continuing care members see the establishment and enforcement of legislation and standards as the primary means through which public accountability is attained. To this end, . . .", and again I am quoting from their statement, ". . . we have encouraged the Department of Community Services to enforce the Homes for Special Care Act and regulations . . . we applaud them for stepping forward and doing so in order to protect the well-being and the safety of residents cared for in these homes. In fact, we are now encouraging the Department of Community Services to develop standards and stringent inspection processes for these providers of care not covered under the existing Homes for Special Care Act.

[Page 3006]

If as a result of the Act's enforcement, there are individuals who are required to move to alternate care settings where their needs will be more appropriately met, this may merely be an indication that the previous provider, with all good intentions, may have tried to provide services beyond the scope of their intended role. The Westray catastrophe has provided a tragic and lasting reminder of what can happen when legislation and regulations designed to enforce safety standards are overlooked.". That is in their letter.

Mr. Speaker, we have often been asked in this House about our commitment to enforcing standards in these settings, (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MRS. COSMAN: . . and if the honourable members opposite don't want to listen, that shows their absolute misunderstanding of what this important issue is about. I am here today to tell all members that I take the commitment very seriously, and our current efforts to enforce the law of Nova Scotia are proof of that. Thank you, Mr. Speaker. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

MR. JERRY PYE: Mr. Speaker, I want to rise with respect to the comments of the ministerial statement. I want to say, although the ministerial statement is rather lengthy, and although I just received it at this very short moment, I have heard the comments in this Legislative Assembly with respect to the issue of seniors and small options homes. I want to say that I have also listened to the comments of the residents last night by the Standing Committee on Community Services while being in Truro.

I want to say that I acknowledge the minister's sincerity with respect to making sure that we adhere to standards and regulations, for that, Mr. Speaker, I do applaud the minister. The minister, in my opinion, is operating in the right direction and is operating in the direction that we, the New Democratic Party stands for, and that is for the standing of the licensed homes, because we believe that this is the only way to ensure quality and care and safety of the residents. I do know that the minister has this at heart as well. We also recognize that unlicensed small options homes created a problem situation by downloading seniors who were in long-term care into these homes when there weren't always adequate spaces for licensed homes. We do recognize that that exists throughout the province as well.

Mr. Speaker, I am going to be brief here. I want to acknowledge the minister in her particular stance in this particular situation. I cannot image what we as legislators would do if something were to happen because of the neglect by the minister responsible, if something should happen to seniors in these small options homes or these homes for special care. Mr. Speaker, I do acknowledge the minister's statement, and I want the minister to know that there is support on this side. Thank you. (Applause)

[Page 3007]

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

MR. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in response to the statement by the honourable Minister of Community Services. Let me say in beginning that a move towards standards and regulation is a correct thing. However, the fact is despite this statement, there are many of these homes in which there are simply no regulations and no standards and the operators have been pleading for them. This is just the straight goods. In this statement the minister says, "The care or program provided must meet the needs of the client.". To me, that would be the most appropriate thing or the best thing that is in that statement.

[9:15 a.m.]

The fact is, the reason this statement is being made today, and let's talk straight talk here, we are talking about Colchester County, in particular. There are a number of places that are providing special care to a very special group of people and it is very good care. Those who are responsible as family members, or guardians, feel that the care or program provided in these settings does meet the needs of their loved ones. The minister refuses to recognize that.

Let me give you one example, Mr. Speaker, of one of the things that happened in Colchester County. The Saturday before Thanksgiving, or the Friday of that Thanksgiving weekend, a resident was removed from one of those special care homes, roughly on about two hour's notice. They refused that person, who had been a resident in that home for six years, to eat Thanksgiving dinner there. They moved that person 110 kilometres away. They would not even allow that person to eat Thanksgiving dinner in the residence she regarded as her home for six years.

Mr. Speaker, there are a number of these homes in the Colchester County area and they would like to get licensed. Indeed, there was a meeting of operators about two and one-half weeks ago and I did attend that meeting. A plea that they made to the minister's department was, tell us how we can get licensed. They want to know how they can get licensed. I have in my briefcase a fire marshal's report from one of these homes which on April 30th was assessed as a boarding house. In October the rules had changed. Now they are saying it is a small options home. (Interruption) It is not a small options home. So make the distinction. This is how the place was classified. All I am saying is that there is not consistency.

On November 4th at 8:15 p.m. in the Valley United Church, in the constituency of your colleague, the member for Colchester North, there will be another meeting of the operators of those homes and concerned family members who do not want their parents moved, and if they have to be moved, they do not want them moved 100 kilometres away. Mr. MacDonald, your colleague, last night heard that from about 150 people in Truro and for him to say he did not, just is not correct. I would invite the minister on behalf of that group to show up at that meeting and to explain to the people who are running these homes but, in particular, the

[Page 3008]

families and guardians of those who are in them, how their needs will be met and will she assure that group that she is, indeed, concerned about the welfare of the people in those homes? (Interruption) She has turned around. She will not even listen.

It is important that some solution be worked out here. The family members are concerned about their loved ones and that is what the issue is, health and safety. They want health and safety and obviously, everybody wants security for their loved ones and I think a good many of those people are very responsible people and if they felt at the particular time that they were not secure, then they would not want them there. The other thing - and I raised this yesterday and the minister knows this - is this really cloudy area between what is a Level 1 person and a Level 2 person. A Level 1 person perhaps is under her department and a Level 2 person under her colleague, the Department of Health but what is Level 1 and Level 2? There is no clear definition for this; it is a major problem.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, yes. There is. Clearly defined . . .

MR. MUIR: Well, who's interpreting it? There is no clear definition for this, Mr. Speaker, it's a major problem and, again, let me just reiterate, I applaud the minister and her department, no question, standardization regulation and these things. These places would like to do that, but there has been a moratorium and you cannot get a license.

AN HON. MEMBER: Let's make sure everybody moves ahead.

MR. MUIR: Everybody moves ahead, and clearly, the letter the minister read in support, we have three of those homes in my constituency and they are all good places and I acknowledge that. No way would this group be saying that the care in those larger institutions is not appropriate. Indeed it is interesting how things happen. Between the office and the house this morning, I met a person I had not seen in a long while. I asked him how things were going and he said, you know, I have got a problem. My mother is in one of these special care homes and she is getting wonderful treatment, and I think there is a danger of her being moved from there.

AN HON. MEMBER: Jamie, you will take the minister to those three homes.

MR. MUIR: I will take you to those homes, minister. Will you minister - I hope you, and not somebody else - attend that meeting on November 4th? Will you attend that meeting on November 4th and meet with those people? (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

[Page 3009]

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Agriculture.

RESOLUTION NO. 1444

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

Whereas National 4-H Week is November 2 to 4, 1998; and

Whereas 4-H has been bringing leadership and development programs to Nova Scotia's young people for 76 years; and

Whereas during 4-H Week, six Nova Scotian youth delegates will attend the National 4-H Members Conference and six adult leaders will be attending the National 4-H Leaders Conference in Toronto, along with 16 4-H members taking their livestock to a Royal Agricultural Winter Fair in Toronto;

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize National 4-H Week and the contributions made by 4-H members and leaders to agriculture, communities and rural Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Labour.

RESOLUTION NO. 1445

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

[Page 3010]

Whereas the workers and management at Volvo have ratified a fair and just severance package sought by the employees; and

Whereas both sides in the dispute displayed professionalism while achieving resolve to this unfortunate situation; and

Whereas the Deputy Minister of Labour played a key role in bringing the workers and management together for a just settlement;

Therefore be it resolved that in the opinion of this House all members of this House congratulate the employees at Volvo, the management and the Deputy Minister of Labour for their collective efforts to bring closure to this dispute.

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.

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

Bill No. 54 - Entitled an Act to Protect Civil Servants Who Disclose Government Wrong-doing. (Mr. Robert Chisholm)

Bill No. 55 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 504 of the Revised Statutes of 1989. The Wildlife Act. (Mr. Murray Scott)

Bill No. 56 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 419 of the Revised Statutes of 1989. The Senior Citizens' Financial Aid Act. (Mr. Murray Scott)

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

The honourable member for Richmond on an introduction.

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, I would point the members' attention to the east gallery where today we are joined by a good constituent from Richmond. Mr. Stephen Sampson has been a long-time councillor for the beautiful community of l'Ardoise and also served as treasurer on the physician recruitment committee and played a vital role in our

[Page 3011]

recent successes in recruiting four new physicians to Richmond County. I would ask the House to give their warm welcome to Mr. Sampson. (Applause)

NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

RESOLUTION NO. 1446

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

Whereas it will soon be a year since Mr. Justice Richard recommended that the federal government should introduce in Parliament such amendments to legislation as are necessary to ensure that corporate executives and directors are held properly accountable for workplace safety; and

Whereas the Steelworkers Union is conducting a national campaign for a Criminal Code procedure which would hold corporate executives and directors responsible for corporate killing; and

Whereas the MP for Halifax is among those in the Commons who are supporting the cause;

Therefore be it resolved that this House urge the federal government to introduce this fall, before the anniversary of the Westray Inquiry Report, legislation to ensure that corporate executives and directors are held properly accountable for workplace safety and deaths, and that Mr. Speaker convey the text of this resolution to the Speaker of the House of Commons.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: I am not too sure about that resolution. I would like to take a look at it. Exactly what am I intended to do?

MR. CHISHOLM: Convey the text of this resolution to the Speaker of the House of Commons. It is actually a motion that was supported in this House in the spring.

MR. SPEAKER: I will accept that, although in truth I think it is a political request that is being made. However, it is worded in such a way that I think I can accept it.

There has been a request for waiver.

Is it agreed?

[Page 3012]

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party.

RESOLUTION NO. 1447

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

Whereas the Minister of Community Services felt sufficiently prepared to answer questions in the House on Wednesday about a possible strike at Northwood Manor; and

Whereas the Minister of Community Services downloaded Northwood Manor questions on Thursday to the Acting Minister of Health; and

[9:30 a.m.]

Whereas the Acting Minister of Health downloaded the responsibility for the development of a strike contingency plan to the officials of Northwood Manor;

Therefore be it resolved that the government recognize that providing quality service for the residents of Northwood Manor is a shared responsibility of Northwood Manor and of the Department of Health and that the government share the responsibility of providing a satisfactory strike contingency plan.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

RESOLUTION NO. 1448

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

Whereas Muriel Duckworth has made an extraordinary contribution to this province and this country over the course of many years; and

Whereas for her contribution to the civic conscience and body politic, she has received numerous awards, including the Order of Canada; and

Whereas this redoubtable citizen and activist celebrates her 90th birthday tomorrow;

[Page 3013]

Therefore be it resolved that this House send warm birthday greetings to Muriel Duckworth and urge her to continue her work for the benefit of all Nova Scotians.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for 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 Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury.

RESOLUTION NO. 1449

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

Whereas the NDP Government in British Columbia received a failing grade from a leading economic think tank for its attempts to stimulate the economy; and

Whereas a report by the Fraser Institute noted that the NDP in B.C. recklessly increased spending while the debt grew to $15 billion; and

Whereas the report said the NDP raised taxes and thus forcing businesses away from the province;

Therefore be it resolved that since this irresponsible fiscal policy of the British Columbia NDP sounds exactly like the economic plans of the NDP in this province, that this House urge the Leader of the NDP to explain how he would keep Nova Scotia from the financial ruin his Party has caused elsewhere.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Sackville-Beaver Bank.

[Page 3014]

RESOLUTION NO. 1450

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 Liberal caucus research director is a distinguished former member of this House who must have been chosen for his superior knowledge and skills; and

Whereas yesterday, October 29th, the Nova Scotia Liberal research director phoned British Columbia to get the dirt on the NDP, specifically companies supposedly fleeing high taxes; and

Whereas the wily research director made one tiny, little mistake by placing his call to the government caucus office in Victoria and another by overlooking the lower tax rates in B.C.;

Therefore be it resolved that the Liberals and their auxiliary who want to repeat the scare campaign tactics of March 1998 should spend more time doing real research instead.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Kings North.

RESOLUTION NO. 1451

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

Whereas this government last week refused to provide the House with a progress report involving the new federal-provincial highway strengthening agreement, which would lead to the continued twinning of Highway No. 101; and

Whereas since 34 people have died on Highway No. 101 in recent years, a progress report on the twinning of the highway is the least you would expect from the Minister of Transportation and Public Works; and

Whereas town and municipal councils and residents throughout the Annapolis Valley are tired of playing a waiting game with the minister and want Highway No. 101 twinned;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Transportation and Public Works has a responsibility today to the 13,000 motorists who use this stretch of highway every day as well as to the municipal and emergency officials in communities across the Annapolis Valley who

[Page 3015]

want to know if the minister is making any progress at all on the twinning of Highway No. 101.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Inverness.

RESOLUTION NO. 1452

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

Whereas the NDP claims to be the defender of the working class even though it has become increasingly clear that they do not; and

Whereas the NDP have proven this fact on two occasions by rejecting a deal to protect 400 unionized workers' jobs at the Halifax Shipyard and by rejecting a UMW appointment to the Workers' Compensation Board; and

Whereas these actions reflect the actions of the pigs in George Orwell's socialist Utopia animal farm when it was written above the farmhouse, all animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others;

Therefore be it resolved that this House encourage labour leaders to pay close attention to the words and antics of the NDP so the NDP may realize that they cannot take for granted the support of labour.

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

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.

RESOLUTION NO. 1453

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

[Page 3016]

Whereas the Sysco workforce numbered some 2,000 in total when the MLA for Cape Breton Nova decided to join the Liberals so he could be a government member; and

Whereas the Devco workforce was even larger and still numbered more than 2,000 when the MLA for Cape Breton Nova had his first taste of power as a Liberal; and

Whereas the MLA for Cape Breton Nova lectures this House daily on who is really representing Cape Bretoners;

Therefore be it resolved that whenever the MLA for Cape Breton Nova wants to see who has betrayed Cape Bretoners' trust and failed to fight for jobs in keystone industries, he should look in the mirror.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

RESOLUTION NO. 1454

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

Whereas only one location exists along Highway No. 103 between Halifax and Yarmouth and Highway No. 101 between Yarmouth and Digby where replacement parts can be picked up for Department of Transportation and Public Works equipment and snowplows; and

Whereas considerable costs, including hundreds and hundreds of overtime hours, are being added to the Department of Transportation and Public Works budget because the department refuses to open a second garage to assist with the distribution of parts; and

Whereas the member for Shelburne and his Liberal Government shut down the mechanical branch of the Department of Transportation and Public Works garage in Shelburne a few years ago, but could reopen it tomorrow if they wanted to enhance the efficiency of departmental operations;

Therefore be it resolved that the minister give approval to returning the highways garage in Shelburne to a mechanical operation which would include the restoration of the stockroom.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Nova.

[Page 3017]

RESOLUTION NO. 1455

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

Whereas the NDP has a long history of cozy relations with the separatist movement in Quebec, especially at the federal level prior to the formation of the Bloc Québécois; and

Whereas when Dave Barrett led the B.C. NDP, a delegation was sent to the court of René Levesque to see what kind of a formal alliance could be struck; and

Whereas when asked what such a political emulsification might be called were it to be formed, one wag replied, "Why, the NDPQ, of course";

Therefore be it resolved that the refusal of the NDPQ in this House to stand up and endorse a pro-federalist resolution yesterday demonstrates how perfidious this crowd is on the most basic issue of all, the unity and future of Canada.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

RESOLUTION NO. 1456

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

Whereas most members of this House leapt to their feet yesterday to applaud the suggestion that Nova Scotia MLAs should do everything possible to support Quebec Liberal Leader, Jean Charest; and (Prolonged Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Whereas Jean Charest has opened his federalist campaign, calling upon the Prime Minister to resign; and (Applause)

Whereas this provides an ideal opportunity for members to back up yesterday's applause with today's vote;

Therefore be it resolved that this House endorse the suggestion by Quebec Liberal Leader that the Prime Minister resign for the sake of national unity.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver of notice. (Applause)

[Page 3018]

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Richmond.

RESOLUTION NO. 1457

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 NDP socialist member for Cape Breton Centre has given written assurance to the United Mine Workers of America that, as his Party's labour representative, the name of Brendon MacIntyre would be endorsed for the Workers' Compensation Board; and

Whereas the Leader of the NDP socialists has put a gag order on the member for Cape Breton Centre prohibiting him from honouring his comment; and

Whereas the member for Cape Breton Centre has an opportunity to rehabilitate his credibility by replacing one of his anti-Cape Breton members on the Human Resources Committee;

Therefore be it resolved that the member for Cape Breton Centre take a stand and show that he is a real member and not a mindless functionary of a socialist Leader who cares little about issues concerning injured Cape Breton miners.

Mr. Speaker, I seek waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Digby-Annapolis.

[Page 3019]

RESOLUTION NO. 1458

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

Whereas the Minister of Education and Culture is a strong proponent of lifelong learning; and

Whereas the minister's experience as an educator in the province's public school system has provided him with extensive experience working with students having a wide range of abilities; and

Whereas the government's first term report card is a clear indication that they are a class of non-achieving mixed-ability learners;

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier direct the Minister of Education and Culture to coordinate an intensive homework program for their Cabinet colleagues so that the government's next term report card can show significant improvements in those areas showing signs of weakness.

Mr. Speaker, I would request 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 Preston.

RESOLUTION NO. 1459

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 has not been changed since 1971; and

Whereas the current Condominium Act provides only slight protection for minority unit-holders of Granbury Place with regard to the possible deregistration of the condominium; and

[Page 3020]

Whereas deregistration would leave minority unit-holders, many of them senior citizens, with little choice but to sell their units for fair market value;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Business and Consumer Services resolve to amend the Condominium Act in such a way as to increase the rights and protection of minority unit-holders.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cumberland South.

RESOLUTION NO. 1460

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

Whereas when debating our caucus' bill which would opt Nova Scotia from the federal government's long arm gun registry, the Education Minister, speaking on behalf of all government, said that perhaps I did not have a full appreciation of either my own bill or the federal Liberal's bill; and

Whereas, in fact, the real disappointment was in having this Liberal Minister speak for government and not fully appreciate either the intent of the PC bill, or the significance adopting this bill has for thousands of Nova Scotians; and

Whereas a significant portion of the minister's argument used against Bill No. 29 was talk of handgun use and homicides in Canada and the United States, issues not pertaining to Bill No. 29, showing the minister's obvious misunderstanding of both the federal gun registry issue and our bill;

Therefore be it resolved that this government ensure that it is fully aware of an issue as serious as this before debating on behalf of its federal cousins and show more respect and consideration for a bill which is supported by thousands of law-abiding citizens across Nova Scotia.

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

MR. SPEAKER: I believe that resolution may be out of order because you cannot refer to the principle of another bill in a notice of motion. However, I will have a look at the notice of motion in a moment.

The honourable member for Annapolis.

[Page 3021]

RESOLUTION NO. 1461

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

Whereas the Cornwallis Park Development Agency is planning to celebrate a mortgage-burning ceremony; and

Whereas with help from the federal and provincial governments and the local community leaders, Cornwallis Park has become self-sustaining with over 43 businesses employing 500 workers; and

Whereas as well as a business centre, Cornwallis Park has become an affordable retirement and residential destination with 246 homes on the base sold last year;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the Cornwallis Park Development Agency and recognize the hard work of the people of the Cornwallis area in effort to turn the former base into a thriving economic growth engine for the community.

[9:45 a.m.]

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for 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.

With respect to the resolution introduced by the honourable member for Cumberland South, that notice of motion is in order. (Applause)

The honourable member for Dartmouth South.

RESOLUTION NO. 1462

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

[Page 3022]

Whereas next month, the Prostitution Education Program or john school will be launched as a joint effort of the Halifax Regional Police, community groups and provincial authorities; and

Whereas the intent of the program is to make johns realize that soliciting prostitutes is not acceptable; and

Whereas Sergeant Tim Moser, Coordinator of Metro's Prostitution Task Force says other jurisdictions who have used this program have a low rate of reoffending among johns;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate Sergeant Moser and all those who have taken part in bringing forward this progressive effort to cure an age old problem.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for 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 Kings North.

RESOLUTION NO. 1463

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

Whereas this Liberal Government had a beef task force tour the province looking for ways the economic climate might be enhanced for beef producers; and

Whereas more than $2 million worth of beef is imported annually into Nova Scotia while this Liberal Government continues to ignore key recommendations made by the beef task force that would enhance been production in this province; and

Whereas beef farmers were hit exceptionally hard by the drought of 1997 when they lost $250 a head and faced more drought this past summer which only added to the continuing decline of Nova Scotia's beef industry;

[Page 3023]

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Agriculture and Marketing recognize beef farmers are facing severe difficulties that this government is refusing to recognize and immediately begin setting forth in motion a plan that will enhance this province's beef industry, both for today and into the future.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Bedford Basin.

RESOLUTION NO. 1464

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

Whereas nearly 1,700 people in Nova Scotia are now working on the Sable Offshore Energy Project; and (Applause)

Whereas another 1,700 people are expected to begin work next year on the main pipeline to ship gas to Maritime and New England markets; and

Whereas the Atlantic Provinces Economic Council recently said energy projects will drive job creation in Atlantic Canada over the next two decades;

Therefore be it resolved that this Legislature recognize that this province is driving toward a new age of opportunity with natural gas as the fuel and an able, professional Nova Scotian workforce as the engine.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for 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 Timberlea-Prospect.

RESOLUTION NO. 1465

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

[Page 3024]

Whereas alumni organizations throughout our province continue to work yearly for successful high school reunions; and

Whereas high school reunions remain an integral part of building a strong school tradition; and

Whereas these graduates deserve our attention for their efforts;

Therefore be it resolved that this House offer its congratulations to the class of '78 of Sir John A. MacDonald High School under the coordination of Robert Sampson on their 20th year reunion.

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 Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party.

RESOLUTION NO. 1466

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

Whereas the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities have passed a resolution stating that the Government of Nova Scotia, in cooperation with the federal and municipal governments, develop a comprehensive energy strategy for Nova Scotia; and

Whereas the Antigonish Regional Development Authority understands that a single UNSM member on the Petroleum Directorate will not be effective representation for municipal interests; and

Whereas Nova Scotians have not had their fair share of employment and business opportunities from Sable;

[Page 3025]

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier commit to a joint all-Party and UNSM approach in developing a comprehensive action plan that will achieve the goal of maximizing natural gas benefits for Nova Scotians.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Antigonish.

RESOLUTION NO. 1467

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

Whereas in 1997, Charlene Long of Antigonish contributed $190 to the Nova Scotia New Democratic Party, in 1996 contributed $325 and in 1995 contributed $213 for a total contribution of $728 over the past three years; and

Whereas Ms. Long is the defeated NDP candidate for Pictou-Antigonish-Guysborough in the last federal election; and

Whereas Ms. Long is the nominee for the Workers' Compensation Board being supported by the NDP caucus;

Therefore be it resolved that the NDP caucus come clean with the people of Nova Scotia and tell them that they do support patronage appointments to provincial boards and agencies.

Mr. Speaker, I table the appropriate documents.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

RESOLUTION NO. 1468

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

Whereas the long-term care workers at Northwood Manor still haven't achieved fair wage parity with their counterparts at the Queen Elizabeth II Health Sciences Centre; and

Whereas these workers have not had a raise in seven years and still receive up to $3,000 a year less than hospital workers doing the same job; and

[Page 3026]

Whereas management has been instructed not to give these workers parity with their hospital counterparts, even though they will be in a legal strike position this afternoon;

Therefore be it resolved that this government abandon its strong-arm tactics with these care workers and finally agree to a fair solution in time to avert a strike.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Pictou East.

RESOLUTION NO. 1469

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

Whereas deer hunting season opened at the crack of dawn this morning across Nova Scotia; and

Whereas nearly 50,000 people, most of them Nova Scotians, purchased big game hunting licences last years; and

Whereas there have been no hunting related fatalities reported in Nova Scotia for the past five years;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this Legislature encourage all Nova Scotia hunters to keep up their great safety track record and work hard toward ensuring that we have a sixth straight year of no hunting related fatalities during the 1998 Nova Scotia big game hunting season.

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.

[Page 3027]

RESOLUTION NO. 1470

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

Whereas Ernest Cadegan, a columnist with the Daily News, has a heading for his column of October 29th, "I'm not backing the NDP rush"; and

Whereas Mr. Cadegan went on to state in his column that, "There can be no doubt as to the socialist credentials of such NDP members as Howard Epstein, who would likely figure prominently in any Chisholm government."; and

Whereas Mr. Cadegan went on to state, "And one can only imagine what economic lunacy he could impale us with were he to become finance minister.";

Therefore be it resolved that the people of Nova Scotia heed Mr. Cadegan's advice and realize that an NDP Government would lead to a disaster even worse than that inflicted on Ontario by former NDP Premier Bob Rae.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.

RESOLUTION NO. 1471

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

Whereas we live in a time when the only constant appears to be change; and

Whereas neighbourhood barber-shops are becoming as scarce as a flat-top haircut; and

Whereas after 36 years of cutting hair at his Windsor Street location, Ralph Miller is hanging up his clippers today;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate Mr. Miller for continuing the fine tradition of neighbourhood barbers for so many years in the face of ever-changing fashion, and wish him all the best in his retirement.

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

[Page 3028]

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 Queens.

RESOLUTION NO. 1472

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

Whereas Wednesday the Royal Nova Scotia Historical Society held a periodical launching and honours ceremony in the Red Room of Province House; and

Whereas the Royal Nova Scotia Historical Society is to be congratulated upon the inaugural publication of its new journal which marks the society's 120th Anniversary; and

Whereas the people of Nova Scotia welcome the society's determination to honour those who have made significant contributions to a better understanding of our province's past;

Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia Legislature congratulate Dr. Louis Collins, Dr. Raymond MacLean and Joan Payzant on the occasion of the Royal Nova Scotia Historical Society conferring upon them the distinction of Fellow of the Royal Nova Scotia Historical Society.

Mr. Speaker, I seek 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 3029]

The honourable member for Inverness.

RESOLUTION NO. 1473

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

Whereas a sharp increase in complaints of rude and unethical behaviour by doctors in Saskatchewan has been blamed on drastic cuts to health care by the NDP Government; and

Whereas the NDP Government in British Columbia has been blamed for destroying the province's forests and sending B.C. from first to last place in economic growth; and

Whereas a recent report by the Royal Bank says Nova Scotia will experience the third-best economic growth in Canada over the next few years;

Therefore be it resolved that this House ask the question, why should Nova Scotians let the NDP, who want to raise taxes upon seizing power, take our province down the same path that their socialist friends took B.C. and Saskatchewan?

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour.

RESOLUTION NO. 1474

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

Whereas yesterday the Governor General of Canada announced that two Nova Scotians will receive the Governor General's Caring Canadian Award; and

Whereas these two Nova Scotians are Harley Hazelwood of Kingston and Harold Northrup of Cole Harbour; and

Whereas these two citizens are being honoured for their outstanding volunteer service to their communities;

Therefore be it resolved that this Legislature congratulate Mr. Hazelwood and Mr. Northrup on this award and thank them for their contributions.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 3030]

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. 1475

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

Whereas Bryony House, which was established in 1978 as a shelter and safe place for women in abusive relationships, recently celebrated 20 years of helping battered women and their children; and

Whereas Bryony House operates a 24 hour crisis line, a women's justice outreach program, and provides 24 beds for those in need of refuge from domestic abuse; and

Whereas Bryony House averages 450 admissions a year, takes 4,500 calls a year and provides counsellors for advocacy, referrals and emotional support;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate and thank the past and present staff members, volunteers and board members for their 20 years of dedicated support to women and children in need of a safe and secure environment.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for 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.

[Page 3031]

The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

RESOLUTION NO. 1476

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 Conservative caucus called for an all-Party committee to review poverty in the province; and

Whereas in the spirit of better late than never, I am delighted that the Tories have finally decided to focus on an issue that the NDP has, for years, tried to bring to the forefront; and

[10:00 a.m.]

Whereas I would like to counter their allegation that the NDP is just discovering the poor with a reminder of the Tory Government's dismal record on poverty;

Therefore be it resolved that both the Tories and the Liberals strive to work with the NDP in addressing the real issue of poverty in Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I request 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 Digby-Annapolis.

RESOLUTION NO. 1477

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

Whereas Brian Skrudland of the National Hockey League Dallas Stars has, for the second year in a row, agreed to donate $500 to the Digby Minor Hockey Program for every goal he scores during the 1998-99 hockey season; and

[Page 3032]

Whereas the rising cost of registration for minor hockey programs eliminates many young people from having the opportunity to take part in this program; and

Whereas Brian Skrudland's 1997-98 donation allowed the Digby Minor Hockey Association to reduce last year's registration fee by one-half for all new players;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House of Assembly extend a thank you to Mr. Brian Skrudland for his generous support of the Digby Minor Hockey Program.

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 Pictou West.

RESOLUTION NO. 1478

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

Whereas John Windebank of Waterside, Pictou County, has been accorded a national Distinguished Service Award from the Canadian Mental Health Association; and

Whereas John is the sole recipient of this award in the Province of Nova Scotia; and

Whereas John has, for many years, given tireless effort to advance community awareness on the subject of mental health;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate John Windebank for the recognition that the Canadian Mental Health Association has bestowed upon him.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 3033]

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 Cumberland North.

RESOLUTION NO. 1479

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

Whereas 1999 has been designated as the International Year of the Older Person; and

Whereas seniors throughout Nova Scotia, throughout their lifelong hard work and caring efforts, have provided for each of us, as well as our children and grandchildren, the best country in the world; and

Whereas many older people, after a lifetime of work raising their families and contributing to their communities, find themselves poverty-stricken and hard-pressed to make ends meet in their supposed golden years;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House of Assembly keep these facts keenly in mind when dealing with measures that affect how older people are housed, treated and provided for and given peace of mind.

Mr. Speaker, I respectfully 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.

[Page 3034]

The honourable member for Hants East.

RESOLUTION NO. 1480

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

Whereas the Minister of Agriculture and Marketing recently announced that the late Howard Borden Fuller of Port Williams as the 1998 inductee into the Atlantic Agricultural Hall of Fame; and

Whereas throughout his career and his community and professional service, Mr. Fuller contributed enormously to advancing the agricultural industry in this province; and

Whereas the Atlantic Agricultural Hall of Fame honours members of the agricultural community who have made outstanding contributions;

Therefore be it resolved that this Legislature recognize the achievements of Howard Borden Fuller and applaud his induction into the Agricultural Hall of Fame.

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. 1481

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

Whereas thousands visited the Fisher's Shanty on the Yarmouth waterfront this past summer; and

[Page 3035]

Whereas visitors learned about the region's fishing heritage and diversity of ocean life through displays and exhibits, including a salt-water touch tank displaying a variety of aquatic life; and

Whereas the shanty, a project of the Yarmouth Chamber of Commerce, opened seven days a week from late June until the Labour Day weekend, attracted some 8,000 visitors this past year alone;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of the Legislature thank and congratulate the Yarmouth Chamber of Commerce and all persons who contributed to the success of the Fisher's Shanty, and for displaying the rich coastal heritage of southwestern Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for waiver and that the question be put 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 Sackville-Beaver Bank.

RESOLUTION NO. 1482

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

Whereas on October 16th the Coast Guard issued a gag order against its managers not to discuss recently announced deep cuts to its budget; and

Whereas the hard-working MP for Sackville-Eastern Shore quite rightly stated the Coast Guard is publicly funded and the public, as well as the employees, have a right to know what is happening; and

Whereas these cuts call into question the ability of the Coast Guard to deliver an adequate service, which is even more reason for a public debate on the issue;

Therefore be it resolved that this House calls on the federal government for a review of Coast Guard operations by the federal Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans.

[Page 3036]

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver.

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. 1483

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

Whereas the community of Oxford highlighted its distinction as the Blueberry Capital of Canada with the official opening of the Wild Blueberry and Maple Centre on October 10th; and

Whereas the centre will serve as a showcase for both the blueberry and maple industries and anticipates between 13,000 and 20,000 visitors each year; and

Whereas apart from being a first-class tourist attraction, the centre is expected to assist local merchants and small business operators who will benefit from increased visitors;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate the Oxford Town Council and community members for their hard work and dedication to the opening of this centre.

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 3037]

The honourable member for Halifax Citadel.

RESOLUTION NO. 1484

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

Whereas the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic has attracted a record number of visitors this year, in all, more than 230,000 from January to October, 1998; and

Whereas this 140 per cent increase in visitation over last year makes this the museum's most successful year yet; and

Whereas the museum has drawn visitors with exhibits that are varied, imaginative and that have popular appeal;

Therefore be it resolved that this Legislature congratulate the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic on its success in showcasing Nova Scotia to so many visitors.

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 Truro-Bible Hill.

RESOLUTION NO. 1485

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

Whereas Richmond County resident, Veronica Steele Morgan, will be honoured with the Governor General's Caring Canadian Award; and

Whereas the award was created to honour caregivers and volunteers who selflessly give their time and energy to others; and

[Page 3038]

Whereas Veronica Steele Morgan has given her time over the years to organize annual campaigns for the Heart and Stroke Foundation, served as a school board trustee, and worked to preserve Gaelic culture in Nova Scotia through song and dance;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House of Assembly congratulate Veronica Steele Morgan on her accomplishments and her achievements, applaud her service to her community and congratulate her on the tremendous honour of being selected for this prestigious award.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.

RESOLUTION NO. 1486

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

Whereas when the Premier is confronted with the fact his government has not yet determined the market for natural gas in Nova Scotia, he says, trust me; and

Whereas when the Premier is questioned about the Canada-Nova Scotia offshore board's lack of power to enforce any local content, he says, trust me; and (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. HOLM: I think the karaoke twins are active, Mr. Speaker.

Whereas when the Premier is faced with the fiscally and economically superior natural gas royalty schemes used by western provinces, he says, trust me;

[Page 3039]

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier should give Nova Scotians one solid reason to trust his handling of offshore development unless he wants, Trust Me Russell, to become as popular as a five year old Tickle Me Elmo.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Pictou East.

RESOLUTION NO. 1487

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

Whereas Forbes Lake in Pictou County provides water for the residents of Westville, New Glasgow and some residents in the Municipality of Pictou and is bordered by other primary and secondary watershed areas; and

Whereas a watershed committee has been formed to develop policies for the use and preservation of the area around Forbes Lake; and

Whereas the watershed committee is working in conjunction with the woodlot owners and government to develop a policy that will ensure all stakeholders are in agreement;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this Legislature recognize the efforts being undertaken by this committee and wish them the very best as they work towards the development of a watershed policy around Forbes Lake, Pictou County.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask 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 Preston.

[Page 3040]

RESOLUTION NO. 1488

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

Whereas Wednesday evening a pizza delivery driver was beaten and robbed in North Preston; and

Whereas hundreds of people in the community gathered to offer help in the aftermath of the attack, including one resident who took the driver in and provided medical care until emergency medical services arrived; and

Whereas Mr. Adel Ayadi, owner of the pizza shop, after seeing the hundreds of people who came out to offer help stated, these are the sorts of neighbours everybody in the world is looking for;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulates the community of North Preston for its compassion and caring nature and for being the epitome of good neighbours.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

RESOLUTION NO. 1489

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

Whereas there is an old adage that those who do not remember history are bound to repeat it; and

[Page 3041]

Whereas in midwestern frontier America, one of the most widely used routes for moving herds of cattle to railhead processing plants was commonly known as the Chisholm Trail; and

Whereas the Chisholm Trail was a route filled with suffering, hardship and unimaginable peril;

Therefore be it resolved that Premier MacLellan allow Nova Scotia to opt out of the long gun registration program for the benefit and safety of those Nova Scotians who will be embarking on the Chisholm Trail.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Dartmouth South.

RESOLUTION NO. 1490

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

Whereas the Halifax Regional Municipality has decided to reduce snowplow service in the municipalities' residential streets in order to cut $1 million from its snow removal budget; and

Whereas the decrease in service will undoubtedly mean that many people will be late for work, which in turn will cost employers and in some cases employees as well; and

Whereas just as this government downloaded onto the HRM, the HRM is now downloading onto residents and businesses;

Therefore be it resolved that this government understand that by passing on the tab to the HRM, residents ultimately get stuck with the bill.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour.

RESOLUTION NO. 1491

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

[Page 3042]

Whereas the Minister of Economic Development will visit two Sydport industries this afternoon; and

Whereas the minister has studiously avoided every opportunity to support the Cape Breton Regional Municipality Council's efforts to keep Sydport in public hands; and

Whereas public ownership can best ensure that Sydport is part of a comprehensive approach to make the most of offshore opportunities for industrial Cape Breton;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Economic Development should seize the time and use his October 30th Sydport visit to finally and firmly oppose the planned giveaway of this prime development infrastructure to well-connected liberals.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

RESOLUTION NO. 1492

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

Whereas workers and management in homes for special care have demonstrated extraordinary unity of purpose and message in demanding that this government honour its promise of wage parity; and

Whereas labour and management in this sector have been equally united in describing the severe problems caused by liberal underfunding, inadequate standards and long years of wage freezes and roll-backs; and

Where yesterday the Acting Minister of Health demonstrated how far Liberal rhetoric can travel from reality by suggesting that anyone but his own government was trying to split long-term -care workers and management;

Therefore be it resolved that the Cabinet Ministers should finally start facing the reality of the conditions their policies and indecision have created in nursing homes across Nova Scotia and provide leadership to resolve the growing problems that make long-term care more and more difficult.

[10:15 a.m.]

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 3043]

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Pictou West.

RESOLUTION NO. 1493

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

Whereas American Senator John Glenn has returned to space after 36 years, so he can be studied for the effects of aging; and

Whereas the signs of aging include the body and the mind slowing down over time; and

Whereas this Liberal Government is showing every sign of a hardening of its political arteries;

Therefore be it resolved that this entire Liberal Government be blasted into orbit, so its faltering vital signs can be studied and at least that way they can serve some useful purpose.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cumberland North.

RESOLUTION NO. 1494

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 Veterans Affairs Committee member, Gordon Balser, introduced a Post Card For Veterans Program to the committee in the House; and

Whereas Grade 6 students in Nova Scotia will receive a post card and a postage stamp to send a thank you note to a veteran for the sacrifices they have made in the Armed Forces or the Merchant Marine Navy; and

[Page 3044]

Whereas 13,000 post cards depicting soldiers in a trench during the First World War, reading their mail, were donated by the Department of Veterans Affairs and the cost of postage was covered by corporate sponsors;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House express their appreciation to Gordon Balser and the Veterans Affairs Committee for introducing the Post Card for Veterans Program, thank the Grade 6 students throughout Nova Scotia for doing the right thing, and never fail to remember the sacrifices made by those dedicated Nova Scotians who served our country.

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 Halifax Citadel.

RESOLUTION NO. 1495

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

Whereas concerning the proposed voluntary unpaid leave days for civil servants, the Minister of Human Resources has indicated that civil servants would likely get one week off without pay; and

Whereas the Premier has indicated that they would likely get one week off, but half of it paid; and

Whereas this government, no doubt in the spirit of Hallowe'en, is offering either a trick or a treat to the Public Service;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Human Resources and the Premier agree on a clear scenario for voluntary unpaid leave and ensure that this scenario fits the terms of the collective agreement.

[Page 3045]

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 Halifax Chebucto.

RESOLUTION 1496

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

Whereas tomorrow is All Hallows' Eve; and

Whereas the spirit of the occasion has led to a tradition of dressing up in costumes, especially as little spooks, goblins and witches; and

Whereas the good weather this month has given us all the spirit to celebrate;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the member for Inverness on his costume and unanimously say, nice mask.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

I am not too sure about that resolution. I think I should take a look at it before it is tabled.

I would like to bring to the attention of my colleagues in the House that it is common parliamentary practice, right throughout the world I believe, that members who have the floor can speak directly with eye contact to the Speaker and nobody shall move between the speaker who is speaking and the Speaker - if that sounds convoluted, I think you know what I mean - unfortunately, I have noticed a number of members in recent days have been ignoring that practice and I do not want to censor members by name for something that is relatively picky but, however, I do not want to see it degenerate either into where people walk backwards and forwards between members who have the floor and the Chair. (Applause)

That notice of motion introduced by the member for Halifax Chebucto, reluctantly I will table it.

[Page 3046]

ORDERS OF THE DAY

GOVERNMENT BUSINESS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Deputy Government House Leader.

MR. RAYMOND WHITE: Mr. Speaker, will you please call the order of business, Public Bills for Second Reading.

PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Deputy Government House Leader.

MR. RAYMOND WHITE: Mr. Speaker, will you please call Bill No. 38.

Bill No. 38 - Private Career Colleges Regulation Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The debate on Bill No. 38 was adjourned yesterday by the honourable member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage.

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, the member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage could not be here today.

MR. SPEAKER: I understand.

The honourable Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party.

DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, I do want to make a few remarks on an a bill regulating private career colleges. Two incidents have made me realize that this kind of legislation is extremely important. One was the collapse of the Career Academy School of Aviation which received widespread public comment in recent months, the spectacle of students who have paid enormous amounts of money for tuition fees, suddenly to be involved in a private career school that collapsed. The government, to its credit, did jump into the breach and provide some alternative choices for those students. But I think it emphasizes the fact that the system does require a regulation that is not available currently.

The other incident that affected me was when a young constituent of mine had paid a very substantial tuition fee to a career college and did not get the curriculum, as advertised. This student went through the course only to find out that a number of the issues that were listed in the curriculum and in fact, listed publicly in that curriculum, were not delivered.

[Page 3047]

The explosion of the number of these career colleges in this province up to now over 100, involving some 1,200 courses, involving over 6,500 Nova Scotian students, emphasizes the need for some kind of regulation to protect first of all, the very reputable career colleges, fortunately, by far the majority are that, and also to protect the student. So the legislation has got to protect both the student and the reputable college.

MR. SPEAKER: I wonder if I could interrupt the honourable Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party for an introduction?

DR. HAMM: Certainly.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

MS. EILEEN O'CONNELL: Mr. Speaker, thank you very much, I do appreciate being able to do this, as this group has to go in a few moments. Mr. Speaker, through you to all members I would like to welcome a group from Halifax Fairview. These are students from the Halifax Immigrant Learning Centre and I have promised that I will take the challenge of introducing each one of them by name and I am going to do that.

I would like to introduce to the House, Farha Aboutaha, Amany Hassan, Muna Al Duraidi, Yassin Shamouth, Julieta Klimenta, Myung Hee Kye Kay, Yun Sook Han, Ali El Mahamoudi, Zina Sementchouk, Ling Wang, Kan Fook Hoy, Mirosava Dubackic and their teachers, Gerry Mills and Sherry Hassanali. I would like this House to welcome them. (Applause)

DR. HAMM: Mr. Speaker, to continue my remarks on the Act to Regulate Private Career Colleges, there are some 6,500 Nova Scotian students now enrolled in private career colleges. To put it in perspective, there are only 7,000 full time students in our community college system here in the province. While that system is not flawless, on the other hand, there are some safeguards in place that allow a better regulation of that particular institution. The other thing from the student's perspective is that the tuition fees for the private career colleges are many times that charged by the community college system. These young students are making a very significant investment in their future and their ability to enter the job market. We have a responsibility to make sure that the money paid is rewarded with an equivalent value in education.

When this bill goes on to the Law Amendments Committee, we will have an opportunity to have it analyzed by, I would expect, both representatives from the career college student population and as well by the private career colleges themselves because each group has something very great at stake here. It is obvious that private career colleges will continue to be a major source of education leading up to entry into the job market here in Nova Scotia so a proper regulatory process has to be in place.

[Page 3048]

The questions that have to be asked of this bill. Does this bill have enough control over curriculum? Does it have the appropriate measures of control that assure that the curriculum as advertised is the curriculum as delivered? Does this bill provide that that curriculum will be delivered by teachers with proper qualifications? We must have some form of teacher certification. Just because these are private institutions there must be a regulation process that determines that the ability of those who perform the teaching service in these colleges are, in fact, prepared to deliver a high quality educational experience for the young people and, in many cases, the older people who choose to enter these career colleges. These challenges in terms of curriculum and teacher preparedness must be addressed with the legislation that we are now discussing.

Why does a young student pay $8,000 or in some cases in excess of $40,000 tuition to access a career college? It is because they feel that that investment and the training that they receive for that investment allows them an opportunity to enter a job market and perform a role for which they are receiving training at that career college. It must be a requirement of career colleges to do a tracking of how their students do in entering the job market. They cannot merely exist only because they are successful advertisers or promoters. They must only be allowed to exist if, in fact, a respectable percentage of their graduates enters the job market in the field in which they have received training. If they cannot pass that test, if they cannot pass that muster, then they are not fulfilling any useful service for the young people of this province. So a tracking system must become a requirement of qualification to provide career college opportunities in this province.

I look at our community college system and they do a tracking. The last figures I heard are that something in the order of 70 per cent of the graduates of the community college system in this province actually access employment opportunity in this province or somewhere in Canada in the area in which they received the formal training. That kind of approach must become part of the approach and a requirement for the private career colleges in this province.

The student protection fund is an important issue that I believe has been highlighted by the collapse of the Career Academy School of Aviation. It cannot be the responsibility of government each and every time to dig into its pocket and bail out those who have been hurt by the collapse of a career academy. There must be an organized approach and a training completion fund is the right way to go. The issue to be debated is who should make the payments into that fund. Should it be the student or should it be the career college. It is the position of the career colleges that it should be the student but ultimately, because these are for profit organizations, primarily, that the student will pay one way or another. It will be paid somehow within their tuition and they will either make a direct payment or an indirect payment but I look to some arguments being presented in the Law Amendments Committee as to which would be the most practical and safest approach. Obviously, a training protection fund or a training completion fund must be part of the regulatory process that we are now debating in this House.

[Page 3049]

[10:30 a.m.]

So this is a good piece of legislation. I believe that it requires some examination. I believe that it must be strengthened. The area, perhaps, that it needs the most strengthening in is in the area of teacher competence and teacher certification. I will be looking for input at the Law Amendments Committee and later when we come back in committee as to whether or not this law or this particular bill will result in a strong enough approach to what is a growing industry here in Nova Scotia and one which is responding to a real need. In fact, by and large, the majority of the career colleges will be looking for these protections to be in place to weed out the weak members in the industry and it is to their advantage that in fact this is done.

So I rise to make these comments to indicate a general favour for this particular piece of legislation and to move it on to the Law Amendments Committee so we can begin the process of strengthening the legislation with appropriate amendments. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Education.

HON. ROBERT HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, first of all, let me state my appreciation for members of both Opposition Parties for their comments, both substantive and stylistic with relation to this bill. The substantive comments we are dealing with as staff reviews each and every suggestion for improvement or question for clarification. We will attempt to provide those answers in the interest of good public policy making and I would move second reading and that this bill proceed to the Law Amendments Committee.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for second reading of Bill No. 38. 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 Deputy Government House Leader.

MR. RAYMOND WHITE: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 47.

Bill No. 47 - Municipal Government Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Housing and Municipal Affairs.

HON. WAYNE GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to rise in this House and speak on Bill No. 47, the Municipal Government Act. This is an important piece

[Page 3050]

of legislation that impacts local government. The Municipal Government Act defines a more autonomous role for municipal governments in Nova Scotia. We have made some real progress over the past year in terms of improving provincial and municipal relations. Last April, we signed a Memorandum of Understanding and this provided $10 million to assist with short-term municipal needs. We have also begun a joint review of provincial-municipal roles and responsibilities. This will look at some long-term needs. This review, which began last month, is being undertaken jointly by the province and the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities. Now we have the Municipal Government Act which will further improve provincial and municipal relations.

Before I go into details, Mr. Speaker, I want to acknowledge upfront that this has been a team effort and I want to thank the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities; the Association of Municipal Administrators; Municipal Legislation Review Committee; the Planning Act Review Committee; municipal councils, 55 of them across this province; the villages; the fire departments; and all others who contributed to the Municipal Government Act.

This is not something that happened overnight. This process started four years ago with the establishment of a provincial-municipal committee to review the current legislation. The first draft went to all municipalities in the summer of 1996. The community received over 100 submissions and the committee also made presentations to any group who requested one. The second draft went out in 1997 and at that time we received over 80 submissions. So you can see a lot of time and effort has gone into Bill No. 47.

The Municipal Government Act provides authority for most of the activities and operations of municipal governments and villages in Nova Scotia. The Municipal Government Act consolidates and modernizes the legislation currently scattered throughout more than 20 Statutes. Some have commented that it is rather a large bill, 250 pages and over 500 clauses. Well, if you consider the current legislation with over 1,800 sections, it is easy to see that this is a big improvement.

The bill recognizes municipalities as an order of government and gives them the tools they require to meet their responsibilities with limited involvement by the province. This, along with notice requirements regarding provincial legislative, regulatory and administrative initiatives will give them greater autonomy over their affairs and ability to set their own priorities.

There are many reasons why new legislation is needed. The existing municipal legislation is outdated and difficult to understand. The Municipal Government Act represents the culmination of a four year effort to modernize and consolidate existing legislation. We have consulted with municipalities, villages, fire departments and the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities to name a few. The result of that feedback is the Municipal Government Act. Where possible, language has been simplified, processes have been streamlined, obsolete concepts have been eliminated and provision has been made for greater municipal autonomy.

[Page 3051]

Existing legislation gives municipalities limited ability to address new and emerging issues such as smoking in public places and rooming houses. Bill No. 47 would enable municipalities to more effectively address such issues.

Allow me to outline some of the contents of Bill No. 47. This legislation states that the provincial government shall give the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities one year's notice prior to any legislative or other action that will have the effect of decreasing municipal revenue or increasing expenditures. It contains Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy rules, similar to those which currently apply to the provincial government. It extends the term of office of municipal councils from three to four years, effective the date of the next municipal election. It gives rural municipalities the option of having heads of councils elected at large. It standardizes council voting procedures, all members will be required to vote. It limits the topics which can be discussed and the types of decisions which can be made in private.

It also enables municipalities to levy different tax rates, to recognize varying levels of services in urban, suburban and rural areas. It gives municipalities the ability to levy area rates on various classes of assessed property, as opposed to current laws which require area rates to be levied against all types of assessment. It also gives municipalities expanded by-law powers, including power to regulate rooming houses and pesticides to name a few. It modernizes the powers of fire departments and villages. It also eliminates the requirements for municipalities to obtain ministerial approval for local by-laws and contains requirements regarding the disclosure of municipal election campaign contributions.

Mr. Speaker, let me expand on a few of these items. Currently, wardens are selected for a term of three years by majority vote of council members. Under Bill No. 47, the current selection process has been retained, however, provisions have been made for a term of office shorter than councils' terms, so it could be less than four years, at the discretion of individual councils. In addition, municipalities are given the option of having heads of councils elected at large. Heads of council so elected could have the same term as councils and would be given the title of mayor.

Mr. Speaker, Bill No. 47 states that councils can still meet in private, however, strict limits have been placed on the matters which can be discussed and the type of decisions which can be made in private. Topics which can be discussed in the course of private meetings include property transactions, minimum prices to be accepted at tax sales, personnel matters of course, labour relations, contract negotiations, litigations, legal advice eligible for solicitor or client privilege and public security.

Decision-making authority during private meetings is limited to procedural matters and giving directions to staff or solicitors. Final decisions will be made at public council meetings. I should add that provisions regarding private meetings are very similar to those currently in place in other provincial jurisdictions. Candidates for municipal office would have to disclose

[Page 3052]

the names and addresses of all persons making contributions in excess of $50. In addition campaigns costing more than $10,000 would have to be audited. The proposed effective date for this new legislation is April 1, 1999.

In closing, Mr. Speaker, I would like to emphasize that this revamped legislation is something that has been requested by municipal staff and elected officials for some time. I want to say thank you to all those who read the two drafts and kept their comments coming to our staff. I am pleased that Bill No. 47 is now on the floor of the Legislature, and I look forward to receiving the support of all Parties for its timely passage. With those few comments, Mr. Speaker, I would certainly welcome hearing from other members. Thank you. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Queens.

MR. JOHN LEEFE: Mr. Speaker, the minister has done a good job providing us with a rather thorough précis of this very substantial bill which he has brought to the House and with which we are dealing today in principle in second reading. Any of us who have had any experience in this or indeed those who have had the honour to serve in municipal councils would know that the plethora of Acts of Legislature which govern the way in which councils do their business has been very confusing. There have been so many amendments made to those Acts that even the consolidation of the individual Acts becomes very complex and very difficult for councillors to deal with, and I would think even those whose business it is to advise council from time to time find that there is something confusing with respect to the vast number of Acts and amendments.

I think that all of us recognize that this is a very important improvement, one which is welcomed by municipal units across this province. I had the opportunity last week, as did the minister, to attend the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities meeting in Yarmouth, and it was clearly evident to me, both with respect to what I heard officials of the union say in meetings and what I heard on the floor and in the meeting rooms informally, that there is very solid support across the province for this bill.

Of course, there will always be some who would want to see modest amendments made, and a few who may wish to see rather more significant amendments made but, by and large, I think it is only appropriate to observe that to date the bill is certainly smiled upon by the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities' executive and, by and large, by the membership.

[10:45 a.m.]

One of reasons that this is so is because unlike the process which resulted in the amalgamation of the municipalities within the bounds of the County of Halifax and also Cape Breton County, which did not go through what many of us deem an appropriate public process, this bill has, in fact, gone through a very lengthy consultative process with the union

[Page 3053]

and, indeed, with public input as well. That is undoubtedly one of the significant reasons why this bill has been rather well received, in contrast to the legislation which created HRM and CBRM. I think another aspect of this bill which I like is the language is somewhat less confusing. It is clearer and, therefore, easier to understand.

It also must be noted that this bill for the very first time recognizes in Nova Scotia that the municipal units are something more than simply creatures of the provincial government, that they, in fact, are an order of government, a legitimate order of government, and that they should be recognized as such. I think we all understand that there is some drive to create municipal charters across Canada. I think that is a very laudable goal, but I think we want to understand very clearly that in creating municipal charters and entrenching municipal government would require, in fact, constitutional change. That would seem to be beyond our grasp at the moment, so I applaud the minister and the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities for finding a practical and important step forward with respect to recognizing the municipal governments not as just a level of government, not just as a creature of the province but, indeed, as a legitimate order of government.

One of the greatest complaints that the municipalities have made through the years is the complaint that downloading often occurs in an untimely fashion, that councils set their budgets or have done all the work and are about to set their budgets when, all of a sudden, the province passes a bill on to them for which they have not budgeted or, indeed, the budget may already have passed and this phenomenon occurs.

The union was insistent, unequivocally, that this legislation provide that there be at least a full year's notice before any such legislation, or regulatory regime, or costs would be downloaded or sent along to the municipal units. This is exactly what the union was looking for, and I know that they are very pleased that the minister ensured that this section is unequivocal. I think it is wise to extend the council terms to four years. Three years in this time of rather more complex government really does not seem to be quite long enough. It is only about the end of the second year that a new councillor really just begins to get his or her feet wet, so it is in those following two years that they can make an even more significant contribution than they perhaps can in their first two years. I think this is an important step forward.

There also is, as the minister has indicated, a menu set out for each municipal unit with respect to how they choose their first magistrate and the extent of the term of that first magistrate. The choice is there, if a municipality so chooses, to have a first magistrate elected at large - as is the case of my rural municipality - or to follow the traditional pattern of naming a warden. I think this is a good and solid move. I think the legislation does the right thing in providing that once the decision is taken by the municipal unit, the municipal unit is therefore locked into that process so we don't have flipping and flopping back and forth or that particular matter.

[Page 3054]

I do have one concern in that respect in that I am not at all convinced that having wardens elected more frequently than the full term of council, which is currently the case, will be a good thing. We all know that in any elected body there are pushes and pulls which may result in factions coming to exist and it would be most unfortunate if, as a consequence of the formation of factions, the office of warden got shuffled around frequently during a four year term of council. We will be watching that very carefully and I will be interested to see if there are any representations with respect to that particular matter when the bill goes to the Law Amendments Committee, in which case I have already pre-empted myself because you now know that I will be supporting it to go there as will my caucus.

It is so absolutely essential that the public's business be carried on in a public forum. We have heard time and time again, particularly here in Halifax, of the propensity of the council to meet for briefing sessions which, in effect, are private sessions to deal with the public business as a way, we are told by some and I was reading an editorial in this respect in The Daily News just yesterday, it is seen as a means of avoiding discussing the public's business in public. So this legislation is very important because it is prescriptive. It lays out the only instances when the people's business may reasonably be done out of the public eye. I have no arguments with the prescription. It involves things like personnel matters, legal advice and so on. I do think that is very reasonable indeed.

I don't like the language in the bill which makes reference to councils meeting in private. That sounds to me rather too informal and I would prefer, and we will be seeking an amendment at some later date if the minister does not amend it himself, using the language, perhaps, in closed session, which has a more formal sense and I think leaves one with the understanding that while these matters may be dealt with in private, they are nonetheless being dealt with in a very formal way under the proper rules and procedures, not being done at the corner coffee shop.

I am particularly pleased with the demands placed on councillors with respect to voting procedure. It has always been my belief that we are sent here and that councillors are sent to their councils, indeed, school board members are sent to their school boards, to make decisions. Not all decisions are easy but we are sent there to make decisions. I have always thought that it was not in the public interest that anybody who was elected to public office could avoid making a decision by abstaining from a vote. Very important. Now, the only time when abstention is appropriate, of course, is when there is a conflict of interest, and that is dealt with here and that is entirely appropriate.

If a member feels that he or she absolutely cannot take a position on a bill, then the one escape route that is open to them in council or, indeed, to any of us here, is to absent ourselves from the Chamber when the vote is taken. That is the only way to avoid it. Abstentions are too easy to come by and the fact that the bill requires that an abstention be deemed to be a negative vote is very important and I think will resolve this impediment to the

[Page 3055]

people not having their business dealt with in a timely fashion with a firm vote one way or the other by their representatives.

There are sections in here relating to planning, the impact is very good. There are many instances here where matters that currently have to come before the minister or before officials in his department can more effectively be dealt with within the municipal unit itself, without having to burden the department with local decision making and that . . .

MR. SPEAKER: I wonder if the honourable member for Queens would entertain a question from the Minister of Labour?

MR. LEEFE: Yes.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Labour.

HON. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, I thank the honourable member for entertaining the question. With regard to the abstention that the honourable member refers to, would he be suggesting that that be tabulated as a negative vote during the course of the total tally in any count?

MR. LEEFE: Mr. Speaker, the bills says that, yes. I think it has been the practice in this place that abstentions are not recognized as a legitimate vote, although I can think of one instance where a member, I think, did abstain. As I say, there are many decisions which previously had to come to the department for ratification which really, clearly can be effectively accomplished within the municipal unit itself. I think in this bill and the minister is recognizing the maturity of municipal government here and the fact that they do not need a watchdog looking over their shoulders all of the time. As a legitimate order of government they are fully capable of making these decisions in and of themselves.

Any of us who live in areas, particularly, that are rural and where we have volunteer fire departments and volunteer emergency services, are very conscious of the vital importance of those services, the valiant and unselfish efforts of the men and women who serve in those services. This bill provides them with appropriate protections and it also, for the first time in law, will ensure that the rather informal relationship that has often existed between the municipal units and the fire departments and emergency services in their areas are laid down in a formal way. That is very important.

There is reference to villages in the bill and I want to say that with respect to villages and the old Villages Act and reflecting on the Queens Regional Municipality legislation which we passed and which resulted in the amalgamation of the Town of Liverpool and the Municipality of Queens, my personal view is that we made an error. The error was in doing away with village commissions. We had two village commissions in the old Queens County, one in Brooklyn and one in Milton. Both of those village commissions were very active, they

[Page 3056]

did good work in their communities. I know from speaking to people who live in those two communities especially people, who, over many years had served on those village commissions that there is a sense of disenfranchisement. Mind you, they are very satisfied with the work their councillors are doing for them, they have excellent councillors but they really do feel that they have a less measure of control over what goes on in their villages than that which they were able to exercise when they had the right if they so chose to form a village commission. So I think we should not lose sight of the fact that village commissions and villages play a very important role under the aegis of municipal governments, in providing what our communities deem are in their best interests with respect to very local decisions.

While the bill does not place municipal governments under the general ambit of the Freedom of Information Act, the regulations which, when this bill becomes law, the municipalities will be required to follow, in fact, are the self-same regulations as apply under the Freedom of Information Act. I think that is a very important step forward and my inclination is to think that it may have been preferable to apply the Freedom of Information Act directly to the municipal units but then I think there is a counter argument that the municipal units themselves, as an order of government, have to exercise the responsibility to respond to freedom of information requests and establish, within their own units, a capacity for dealing with FOI requests respecting municipal government in each of the municipalities.

[11:00 a.m.]

There is a change here with respect to the qualification of citizenship and I think it is appropriate that once this bill becomes law, in order to qualify to vote in a municipal election in Nova Scotia, one will have to be a Canadian citizen.

There has been some concern expressed by some municipalities and by some individuals that there is an exclusion of assessors with respect to their capacity to offer for public office in the municipal units. While some of us have a view on that, I think it is important for us to note that this is not dealt with in this bill but rather as part of the Assessment Act. So the failure for that to be in this bill is not necessarily a shortcoming of this bill. It can be dealt with in that other Act.

I would have to say that one of my greatest disappointments in this legislation is that it does not provide a reasonable hands-off process for those who are in forced amalgamations - of course, there are two in the province and we all know what they are - and for citizens to be able to find a better way to provide themselves with municipal government. We have had a number of representations from persons in metro in particular, and some, indeed, from CBRM as well, encouraging our Party to seek an amendment in this area and we will be looking at the Law Amendments Committee to see what occurs there and, of course, we will also be looking at the bill when it comes back in for Committee of the Whole House on Bills consideration.

[Page 3057]

All in all, Mr. Speaker, it is a good bill, a good process. The minister has done a good job working with the union and the union has done a good job working with the minister. It is a significant improvement. It makes many changes which, after a little over 100 years of municipal government in Nova Scotia, will put municipal governments in this province in the position to be able to look forward to the new century and another 100 years of providing successful government to our communities in a way that causes municipal councils to be clearly the most direct government that we experience. So I look forward to hearing what others have to say on this bill and I look forward to supporting it in second reading and listening to what representations are made when it goes to the Law Amendments Committee.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.

MR. HOWARD EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, this is inherently an extremely challenging bill. It is challenging not just because of its length - it is impressive that it is such an extensive document - but it is challenging because of the complex matters that the bill deals with. It will be obvious, for example, that one of the main features of this bill is that it repeals the existing Planning Act wholesale and incorporates it in a slightly revised form into the Municipal Government Act. This is an unusual move, I think, but nonetheless one that adds to the complexities of the task in front of us.

One of the things that this means is that it is important that we pay attention to the detail of this bill and it is obvious that it is going to be time-consuming and a process that requires the full attention of all members of the House to deal with successfully. We have heard something of the antecedents of the bill, the process by which it was developed, originally being drafted out of the Department of Municipal Affairs by specialists who have worked in this area, drafts put out in what I must say is a very commendable process, for public response and consideration, successive drafts being sent around for public commentary and for commentary not only by the Nova Scotia Municipalities as an umbrella entity, but by individual municipalities who wished to participate. This is an entirely appropriate way, I should say, to go about the drafting of this kind of legislation.

The interest that many of us in our caucus bring to this bill is rooted in the fact that there are significant numbers of us in our caucus who have served on municipal councils in the past. There are at least four members of our caucus who have been in that position, and an additional member who has served on a school board. I think the actual experience of that gives some valuable history and expertise that can be brought to the discussions here. I know for myself, I am one of those members of our caucus who has served on a municipal government. I served first as an alderman for the former City of Halifax, and then as a councillor on the amalgamated Halifax Regional Municipality.

I bring other background to this, and I want to just briefly mention this because it is relative to what we have to deal with here. One is that earlier on, in fact going back as early 1973, in my private law practice, a significant portion of my private law practice had to do

[Page 3058]

with municipal law. I have been involved in some of the litigation, both as an originator and as legal counsel, that has been among the most significant in terms of dealing with issues of municipal and planning law in Nova Scotia. Also, as it happens, I teach part-time at Dalhousie University Law School. What I teach there is land use planning, and land use planning is the course that is in fact the municipal law course.

I have had occasion over the last few years to read a great deal of the legislation in Nova Scotia, plus all of the cases around the country and internationally that have bearing on land use planning issues. What emerges from that is not that I attempt to make any claim here of particular expertise that goes above and beyond that which the minister would have available to him through his department, because one of the things that strikes me, after studying in as much detail as I have had the opportunity to do, the law of land use planning is that the more you learn about it, the more complicated, difficult and subtle it becomes.

This is not an easy subject. This is one that, in fact, affords us a great deal of opportunity for progressive change, should we wish to take the opportunity. That is exactly what this legislation offers us, the chance to make progressive change. I think because the matter is complex and subtle and difficult, and because although at one earlier stage I had the chance to sit on the HRM committee that was looking at one of the drafts of the bill, I know most of us, however, have not turned our minds to this for some time, that it is important that we do, with the assistance of the minister and the department and all Parties, go through the exercise of reading through this legislation, because I know that we will find things that we might wish to deal with, perhaps, in a slightly different fashion.

We may even find surprises. I know I found one, and I would like to just illustrate the importance, I guess, of going through the legislation in some detail by starting off drawing the members' attention and the minister's attention to Clause 77 of the bill. This was a bit of a surprise to find, because it seems to duplicate exactly, or with minor variations Clause 2 of Bill No. 13 that is in front of this Legislature at this very time, the provision in the Financial Measures Act that deals with the tax on farmland. What we have is two clauses in two different bills going through the Legislature at pretty well the same time, dealing with exactly the same subject matter.

Now, those who drafted Bill No. 47, of course, couldn't have known that the equivalent Clause 2 in Bill No. 13 would be objected to at Law Amendments Committee to the extent of having most Parties there say that what they want - and this has been adopted as one of the recommended changes coming out of that - the power to deal with future changes in the amount of the tax credit by way of Governor in Council regulation has been eliminated.

It couldn't be expected that the drafters of Bill No. 47 would know that, and so I think, naturally enough, we could logically expect that the equivalent provision in Clause 77 of Bill No. 47 will be dropped in line with that, but you have to wonder, when you see two clauses that deal with exactly the same matter coming forward in two different bills at the same time,

[Page 3059]

whether enough attention has been paid to all of the details. That is why I emphasize that it is important that we, all of us together, collectively, attempt to turn our minds to all of the matters that are to be found in this challenging piece of legislation, because there is no shortage of items that we have to look at.

I would like to start out with a few observations about aspects of the bill that are specific to Halifax Regional Municipality, or that perhaps have special application inside Halifax Regional Municipality. (Interruption) Absolutely, it is.

It is obvious that in the desire to bring together, into one bill, a variety of provisions that have been scattered in other Acts, that one of the major changes is that the separate bill that exists to establish Halifax Regional Municipality will no longer exist. It will be repealed and there will be a section of the new proposed Municipal Government Act that will deal only with Halifax Regional Municipality although, of course, the other general rules of application will apply to Halifax Regional Municipality. I do know that this is not the preference of the councillors of Halifax Regional Municipality, that they have turned their minds to this question, and I know that in discussions, HRM would prefer to have its own separate legislation.

The reason for that is that there is a strong feeling that when you are dealing with such a large entity not just in terms of geographic area - because it is very large inside our province - but when you add to that the significant numbers of population in terms of relative size in the province plus significance in terms of locale, of economic activity, that HRM has something of a different aspect to it. It is to be expected, as we saw with the original HRM Act, that experience there will show very rapidly that there are desirable changes that might apply only within HRM; hence the desire to have a separate Act that might allow for a special focus on HRM when questions come up. It can be argued either way. I don't regard it as fundamental to the bill or such an immovable point or principle that the bill should be held up if the minister is not inclined to change his mind, but I do offer this again as a suggestion to be thought about.

Continuing the focus on clauses that deal only with HRM, there is also a provision for the establishment of community councils. Unless I am mistaken, I don't believe community councils, as contemplated in HRM and as they exist in HRM, are allowed for in this bill for other municipalities; this seems to be a unique feature of the governance of HRM.

I have to say that the experience with community councils has been mixed at HRM. It is obvious that the underlying idea was that given the amalgamation, given the large size of HRM, given the diversity of communities and, I have to say, given the general unwillingness of many of those communities to be brought into HRM, it was felt that for some planning matters and for the purposes of continuing to keep in touch with local communities that still identified themselves as communities with their own identities, that community councils were

[Page 3060]

a useful way of going about making sure that the councillors who represented particular areas could keep in touch with the residents of their district.

For that part of it, I have no problem at all; it absolutely makes sense. It absolutely makes sense, when you have something as large as HRM, to move to establish community councils so that the local councillors will have a forum and the residents will have a forum to meet their councillors so that they can talk over matters of interest in their community.

[11:15 a.m.]

However, the bill goes further than that. What the bill does, and this is not unique in the new Municipal Government Act, it has to do with what existed before in the old HRM Act. The bill, of course, gives certain by-law-making powers and certain other powers to the community councils. Essentially what happens in the planning process at HRM is that the Municipal Development Plan, or the municipal planning strategy, is adopted overall for the municipality by the full council, but then zoning, which is the actual instrument that implements the plan, is done by the community council. The community council actually gets to make the zoning decisions.

Again, there is a certain logic to that because the whole idea of individualized zoning is that you look at each property, or each street, or each half block, whatever makes sense, and make a decision about what uses ought to be allowed in that street, block, or on that individual lot. Minor variations are also a power that can be exercised by community council. None of this is objectionable. However, the old HRM Act and this bill that we have before us go one step further and gives to the community councils a power to deal with development agreements. Now, this is problematic. This is severely problematic. Why is that?

Everyone knows that projects that go forward by way of development agreement are most likely to be the ones that involve the biggest chunks of land, the most impact on the community, and not just impact on the immediate community represented by a particular councillor, or even a group of councillors who make up a community council, a decision made to enter into a development agreement can have impact throughout the whole region. I know that on the peninsula of Halifax, which was the Halifax Chebucto Community Council, there were three councillors who were members of that community council and when development agreement applications came forward and were voted on by that community council, all it would take, of course, was two out of the three votes to approve a development agreement and it could go forward.

Now, development agreements on the Halifax peninsula can be very large, very intensive and have economic and planning consequences that go well beyond not only one district but three districts and can have impact throughout the whole of Halifax Regional Municipality. It is not appropriate in my view to allow community councils to continue to be able to make decisions on development agreements or, if they are to be allowed to make

[Page 3061]

decisions about development agreements, there have to be some kind of restrictions. So far the only restriction is that, of course, there has to be some kind of accord with the municipal planning strategy.

Unfortunately, municipal planning strategies have a lot of flexibility built into them and it is not always possible to say that a development agreement proposal does not accord with that municipal planning strategy or does accord. There is a lot of latitude and flexibility there and what you want is the right decision made because one of the things I have learned over years as representing litigants in appearances before council is that it is very difficult to begin to take appeals to the Planning Appeal Board, or into court, because it is not just that it is expensive, there are restrictions in the law about who has standing; there are restrictions as to the standard that is applied by those review bodies later on.

I think this is why so many of us who spent time in municipal government in the first place, it is much more important that the right decision be made the first time rather than citizens be put to the time, trouble and expense of trying to have them reversed later on. That is what I am talking about here. There has to be some kind of way to deal with this problem of development agreements and it really is a problem.

We have seen it in several instances throughout Halifax Regional Municipality, not just since the amalgamation, but the whole history of litigation in Nova Scotia over difficult planning issues has almost invariably been focused on council approvals of projects by way of development agreement. Those are the ones that are found to be most objectionable, those are the ones that stir up citizens' emotions, those are the ones that people worry about the most and those are the ones that they want to see correct or better decisions made about in the first instance, rather than end up in court trying to deal with them later on. So this is a real problem and I have to say it would be a worthwhile measure if the minister and his staff and all of us here together could turn our minds to ways in which we might improve this particular aspect of the provisions that deal exclusively, as I understand it, with HRM.

Let me deal with a second aspect of something that I think also applies only to Halifax Regional Municipality and that has to do with the supplementary funding for schools. This has been a big irritant and a big problem at Halifax Regional Municipality, not just at the council level, but throughout the municipality because of difficulties in terms of jealousies, of unequal opportunities for funding going to schools throughout HRM. Now, the reality is that we now have an amalgamated HRM that spreads throughout the whole boundaries of the former Halifax County and we have an amalgamated school board that spreads throughout those same boundaries. We no longer have an old City of Halifax or a Halifax School Board or a City of Dartmouth or City of Dartmouth School Board. What we have is an amalgamated entity with one school board and one municipal council. If that is going to continue to be the case, then there has to be some kind of congruence of the opportunity for funding and therefore resources that are offered to those schools throughout that system.

[Page 3062]

Right now, we have an extremely awkward system that has been perpetuated not just by the Halifax Regional Municipality Amalgamation Act, but as I read it, is perpetuated by this legislation in Clause 530. The problem is that in the pre-amalgamation world the old City of Halifax and the old City of Dartmouth used to vote supplementary allocations to schools beyond the amount that they are required to give under the Education Act. This, as I understand it, was unique, I believe, around the province. If supplementary education funding is going to be allowed, then it does not make sense to put the school board in the awkward position, or HRM council in the awkward position of trying to convince the school board through some sort of informal mechanism that the money raised in their district be spent only for the schools in their district, because that is what we face right now.

What the law says is, even though it is an amalgamated world, extra tax dollars can be voted for education purposes in what used to the City of Halifax and what used to be the City of Dartmouth and those dollars are supposed to be spent in schools only in the boundaries of the old City of Halifax or the old City of Dartmouth. This makes no sense. It makes no sense not only because there is an amalgamated school board and not just because it is hard for them to set up the financial accounting mechanisms to do this, but because the school boards want to do what is logical when you have one uniform area, they want to move students around and you get students who request to be moved around. They want to move their staff around. They want to take, for example, the speech pathologists or the psychologists who have been features of educational life in Halifax but not in the old former County or Bedford, and make their services available to people outside, but those special services, speech pathologists and psychologists were traditionally identified as having been specially paid for by the money that was raised by the supplementary educational funding.

Right now the situation is that only the Halifax and Dartmouth based taxpayers pay that money, but the services that they are paying for, more and more, are going to service the students who come from elsewhere. You know what? I don't think any taxpayers in Halifax and Dartmouth begrudge those services being available to anybody else. We are not saying that and I certainly don't want to be interpreted as having suggested that. What they want is that there should be the same kind of supplementary money taxed for schools paid by the residents who live in those other areas. That is the way you begin to move toward a system that offers equality of opportunity to all of the students and lifts everybody up together. That is what is desirable.

I am not saying that this has to happen immediately, that the tax should suddenly jump in those other areas. It seems to me that you can contemplate, and quite easily, a phase-in period because those kinds of sudden jolts to peoples' property tax are not desirable and I certainly know as a former Halifax Regional Municipality councillor that if you get big jolts in peoples' taxes, they will come and talk to you endlessly and explain why they do not deserve it and so on. It becomes seen, and probably correctly seen, as simply too wrenching, too much all at once. But phased in over a period of time, that, I think, is acceptable to people and it is what is fair, it is what is right, it is the appropriate thing.

[Page 3063]

For too long the people, I have to say it, who have built their homes on the outskirts of the old City of Halifax and the old City of Dartmouth, many of them in suburbs and standards of housing that are entirely comparable to those found in the former core municipal areas, who built their homes and those suburbs were developed because they were in areas that were traditionally lower tax areas - that is one of the impetuses that people had for building out there - they, unfortunately, have had some of the benefits that have come from amalgamation and to a certain extent and this is one example of it, have not really been required to pay their fair share. As I said, I favour phasing in, I favour it coming in over a three or four year period but this is a particular instance in which something should be done focussed on Halifax Regional Municipality.

I can see, Mr. Speaker, that I have taken a bit more of my time than I had anticipated and therefore, before I lose all of my time I want to turn to another very specific and very difficult issue that will be no surprise to the minister and it has to do with his provision to give a power to municipalities to deal with pesticides. This is to be found in Clause 174(1)(j).

I want to be clear about the problem we are dealing with here. The power that would be given to a municipality and this is to all municipalities throughout the province to regulate pesticides here, as drafted in this bill, is completely inadequate to do the job. It is not only inadequate it is an affront to the many people in this province who either already have chemical sensitivities or who wish to avoid one more of the common assaults on their systems that are to be found in our environment at large. This is one that deals with this issue in an entirely inappropriate way.

Now let me explain the problem. If the provincial government wanted to deal with the issue of the use of pesticides, particularly in urban and suburban areas, where we all live so close to one another and where the reality of what you do on your property affects, very directly, what goes on on your neighbour's property because of drift, if the province had wanted to deal with this through the Department of the Environment, they could have done so years ago because the Department of the Environment has legislation in place which is very broad in its terms and which could have allowed regulations or an administrative regime to be put in place to deal with what is usually called, the cosmetic, domestic use of pesticides - cosmetic meaning it is not for any serious agricultural or forestry purpose we know, it is for the purpose of making your lawn look prettier, for those who think that yellow dandelions are not pretty somehow.

This is what it is about and that power, if the province had wished to exercise that power before it could have done so at any time because there are very broad powers. The only reason anybody is even discussing putting over to the municipal level the power to deal with pesticides is because the province has not done it at the provincial level before, even given that the Environment Act has a special section that addresses pesticides and dangerous goods. Now there is an intriguing title for a section in an Act, pesticides and dangerous goods, and it is clear in the Environment Act of this province that pesticides are poisons. They

[Page 3064]

are poisons. Chemists will tell you that they are poisons, the industry that sells them will tell you that they are poisons, physicians will tell you that they are poisons, and our Environment Act recognizes that they are poisons. The public policy in this province is to reduce their use, but it hasn't happened. It has not happened at the provincial level, and the only reason anyone is contemplating the possibility of it being regulated at the municipal level is because the province hasn't stepped in.

[11:30 a.m.]

Now, if the province is going to step in, they should do it properly, and this subsection does not do the job. It does it wrong. It does it the wrong way. What this subsection says is that first off, before anyone can really complain about their neighbour spraying pesticides, they have to have a medical reason. Essentially what that means, although it is not explicit, but essentially what that tends to mean is that they have to be sick already. This doesn't make sense, because people are concerned to avoid exposure to something, that is the problem. Why should we wait until they get sick afterwards?

In fact, let me just remind people as well, that there is an intermediary stage. I have heard some please say, well, why don't they just sue their neighbours? Well, I have to say that this makes no sense at all. As a lawyer, I have been involved in representing people who were in that position, who as homeowners didn't want their neighbours spraying pesticides. I have to tell you that the individual private legal remedy is not appropriate here. It is not appropriate because this is exactly the kind of use of land that by-laws exist for. Zoning by-laws exist to protect homeowners, usually, for example from having commercial or industrial uses side by side. That is the essence of zoning, to get compatible uses that are side by side and make sure that incompatible uses are not side by side, that is what zoning is really about.

This is a kind candidate for this kind of regulation. It used to be that 100 years ago, if there were obnoxious uses beside your land, of course, you could go to court and sue over it. But zoning was developed because it was recognized that lawsuits on an individual basis don't make sense. They are time consuming, they are expensive. It means that they are too expensive for most people, and the situations keep recurring, they tie up the courts. It just doesn't make sense to have this sort of individual reliance on an individual remedy continue to arise time after time. What makes sense is to have a generalized rule that applies. That is what we are talking about here.

This system as proposed takes what was initially suggested in a different bill, in a different format, Bill No. 1 and makes variations. There is some kind of passing acknowledgement of having a registration system. A registration system, I have to say, is second best. Of all the people that I dealt with on the issue of pesticides, the vast majority of them including most Halifax Regional Municipality councillors would have preferred an outright ban of pesticide use in urban and suburban areas, because they recognized the difficulties. They recognized that this is a genuine health issue.

[Page 3065]

It was agreed that probably a registration system was the better way to go, because it would attempt to accommodate generalized community interests. It would allow for generalized community interests. The registration system that would be infinitely better than the one here would be one that would allow for exclusion zones by any homeowner or resident who comes forward in the urban and suburban areas and says that they want it. The distance would be for a municipal council to set. The notification process would be for municipal council to set. The process by which a municipal council would adopt such a by-law would be the usual open public hearing process, and of course, it is not mandatory, it is permissive. This is a power that would be given to a municipal council, if it wished to exercise it. Which means, only if a councillor brings forward a by-law and only after the public hearing process has gone through. That would be a public hearing process in which anyone who wanted to speak, pro and con, would have the full opportunity to come forward and give their reasons and, undoubtedly, everybody would.

The registration system that is contemplated here, at its utmost the most it would do if a property were registered under this system, would allow a person, who would otherwise wish to be safe in their homes, to get advance notice that their neighbour is going to use pesticides. This is inadequate, and it is inadequate because it says to the homeowner that you have to move out. You have to move out. If you are sensitive or you want to avoid exposure to pesticides, you have to go somewhere else.

Where else are they going to go and why should they be put to that expense? What are they going to do, go to a hotel and rent a hotel room for the night? People who are chemically sensitive, and there are significant numbers of them, there are very significant numbers of people out there who are or are becoming chemically sensitive, will find problems going to some environments, including commercial hotels where you often get special cleaners being used, industrial strength cleaners, or you get off-gasing from glues that are used in carpets, or other substances that are used.

Many of these people have taken the time and trouble to make their own homes free of these chemicals and what this clause would say is that they still have to move out, because there is no way to protect themselves on a drift day. This is common if your neighbour is spraying, even if they tell you, if you stay in your home, if there is drift there is going to be exposure and they just plain do not want it.

Also it goes on to say contrary to other sections in the bill that suggest that the power to regulate might actually extend up to the power to prohibit, that this specifically would not be allowed. I know that some people had problems with the variation on this clause that came forward in Bill No. 1, but it is clear that it could be limited to urban and suburban areas so as no to duplicate what already exists as provincial regulation in agriculture and forestry areas. I have not problem with that.

[Page 3066]

That seems reasonable, but this clause does not do the job and I have to tell the minister and all members of this House there is going to be a big series of representations at the Law Amendments Committee about this clause. If they are not prepared to listen to the scientific evidence that has been laid out before them, if they are not prepared to pay attention to the hundreds of letters that have come forward and petitions that have come forward before, they are going to hear it again at the Law Amendments Committee. It is not going to stop until an appropriate form of regulatory regime is put in place in this province.

Let me turn to a few other aspects of the bill that have caused me at least passing concern. Clause 30 sets out a style of government that is usually referred to as the city manager style of government. It has to do with the question of who is in charge at a municipality. It is clear under Clause 30 that it is the CAO. So essentially what you have is a council that is elected, but the council deals with the CAO and the CAO is in charge of what would be the equivalent of the Civil Service. The problem is that this section goes rather further than might be absolutely necessary, and I worry when I see wording like in Clause 30(2). Listen to what it says: "The council shall communicate with the employees of the municipality solely through the chief administrative officer, except that the council may communicate directly with employees of the municipality to obtain or provide information.".

The last words are vital. They have to be there. There is no doubt about it but what does it mean to say because, normally, communication is to obtain information. What are the opening words of that subsection there for? "The council shall communicate with the employees of the municipality solely through the chief administrative officer, . . .". I have to say that this is puzzling and if the tone of that is to attempt to limit communication between the councillors and the individual employees, this is not generally desirable.

We know that in any complex entity, HRM being one of them, our own provincial government and Civil Service and any department thereof being others, it is important that there be as much free flow of information back and forth as possible, because this is the way to facilitate good government. It is important that the individual employees equally feel free to go and talk with elected officials in order to get their information across. This is efficient, it is fair, it promotes frankness and it is not to be stifled. So I worry a bit when I see such, I would say, heavy-handed language in a clause that deals with what is probably the right style of government, that is to say a city manager's style of government. But at the same time there have to be some limits and there have to be opportunities for (Interruption) Not just whistle-blowers, there has been some suggestion across the floor that it is whistle-blowers, it might on occasion but that is a separate issue, this really has to do with efficiency of government and good government building good government and that is what this is about. So I am just a little concerned when I see that kind of a clause there because it seems to me that it goes just a bit too far.

[Page 3067]

Let me turn to another aspect of this and I apologize for what must undoubtedly seem the stray fashion in which these points come forward but I have done my best to read through the legislation and pick out the points that I want to identify for other members and for the minister and his department as they are listening, points that struck me of concern because as with the member who spoke before me, fundamentally I think this legislation should go forward. Certainly, we will support it, in principle, at second reading so that we can look at the details at the Law Amendments Committee. I just wanted to note for the record a number of the points that had occurred to me that I had observed as I went through.

I would like to have the minister connect two clauses in the bill and this is Clause 81(5) and also Clause 305 and they both have to do with utilities and how municipalities interact with utilities, in one case gas and in the other electricity. It is useful and important that the Municipal Government Act now turn its mind to the fact of gas coming ashore in Nova Scotia, we hope, in a year's time. It is important that the bill put in place mechanisms that allow municipalities to begin to plan for and deal with the actual physical infrastructure of moving gas around inside the municipality and that is what Clause 81(5) does, it mentions gas, it is right to list it there, that is entirely appropriate because this is a coming fact.

I would ask the minister to check because I have not had the opportunity and I did not see it in the bill, but it seems to me that this clause is more on the engineering and technical side and what it does is it contemplates the physical infrastructure of placement of gas lines inside a municipality, but it does not address and I am not sure if the bill does address, the possibility of a municipality operating itself as a gas utility. Now it may be that this is covered off in other legislation and I have not had the chance to go cross-check. It may be that that is contemplated by other legislation but if that is not the case, it should be clearly specified so that there is no equivalent to an objection that it is not part of the objectives or corporate powers of a municipality. We know that a number of municipalities are interested in the possibility of becoming involved in the gas utility business. If that is the case, this opportunity should clearly be afforded to them so that that power is not in doubt. Again, I would ask the minister to do that.

With respect to Clause 305, the parallel utility section for electricity, again, I raise the same point, it should be clear that if a municipality - and I know the trend has not been in that direction - does wish to operate in an electrical utility, they should have that power. Now we know that the last remaining municipal entity, Kentville, that did that has recently moved to get out of that business. On the other hand, this is contrary to the overall trend throughout North America in electricity which is toward deregulation and devolution of the function into smaller entities where we can contemplate a whole variety of generators so that you no longer have, within one political jurisdiction, be it California which has been the state in the United States that has moved most aggressively towards electricity deregulation, or in our own province, that you don't have just one dominant, virtually a monopoly entity generating the electricity. I know that Nova Scotia Power Inc. has recognized that this is the coming trend and, indeed, tends to favour some kind of deregulation of the electricity industry. So, my first

[Page 3068]

point there is that municipalities, again, should have the power, if they choose at some point in the future through some opportunity, to begin to get involved.

[11:45 a.m.]

We saw a few years ago the old former Metropolitan Authority attempt to get into the electricity business through the burning of garbage. Do you remember at one point they had a proposal to set up a garbage incinerator? Well, one of the things that garbage incinerator was going to do was it was going to generate electricity. Now, I am not suggesting that this was ever a good idea and I spent months and years saying it wasn't, but if that were ever to happen - and we see it happening in Sydney - it seems to me that it is good that the energy that is produced there should generate electricity and should go into the grid. It should be clear that there is a corporate power that would allow a municipality, either through that means or some other means, to go forward and not be held up from doing that.

I have another problem with Clause 305 - and it also has to do with the question of looking forward towards deregulation.- which is that it contemplates that a municipality may enter into contracts for transmission and supply of electric power. But it may only do so, apparently, with Nova Scotia Power. Well, I have to say that this is fundamentally wrong. If we are entering an era in which other entities are going to become involved in the generation of electricity, I don't see that we should be nudging ourselves in the direction of saying that it has to be with Nova Scotia Power. It may be desirable, it may be that they will put forward the best bid, but I don't see that we should be passing legislation that gives a preferred spot to what is no longer, of course, a Crown Corporation and hasn't been since June 1992 when it was privatized. As it constantly reminds us, a private sector corporation that wishes to be out there in the market place competing.

If it wants to be in the market place competing, we shouldn't be putting in place clauses that essentially say, here is a reserved piece of business for you. Again, this may have been an oversight but, if so, I would ask the minister and his staff to turn their minds to it because this is an item that is not consonant with the coming future of electricity and how it is going to be delivered in not only our province, but worldwide.

I wish now to turn to another section and another topic of the bill. It has to do with municipalities in their corporate aspect. We know that municipalities are levels of government, but they also act as corporate entities in the sense that they can enter into contracts, they can be sued for tortious acts and so on. It is precisely this last item that causes me some concern.

Clause 187 of the bill perpetuates a standard of protected liability for a municipality which does not apply to any other potential tortious malefactor in the province by holding up the standard of gross negligence. You can't sue a municipality unless it has been grossly negligent, according to Clause 187. I have a problem with that. I cannot see that special

[Page 3069]

protections ought to extend to municipalities. If it is the case that anyone else - a private citizen, a private company or a Crown Corporation - should behave in a way that causes damage to some other person in a non-contractual damage - be it physical damage or some other form of mental stress - the law has a whole apparatus that deals with that known as tort law.

The standard, if you are suing somebody in a Civil Court, is that if you can prove they did it intentionally or they did it negligently, you are entitled to some form of compensation or some kind of remedy. The standard applied by the court - and this is a piece of law that has developed over hundreds of years and is known as part of the Common Law, and this is one of the things that courts are expert in - is the whole aspect of tort law, the standard is not grossly negligent, a plaintiff does not have to prove on a balance of probabilities that the defendant was grossly negligent; all they have to prove is that they were negligent. It is up to the court and the court's experience and their good common sense to decide whether in a particular set of circumstances there ought to be liability. It has never made sense to me that a municipality should be protected by that standard of gross negligence. If there is some underlying logic, or if I have misconstrued the clause, I would be happy to hear of it, but I have never been convinced. If I am reading it correctly and it is a special protection for the municipality in terms of traditional tort law, then I find that very difficult to swallow and I would see this as an opportunity for making a change in the bill.

Mr. Speaker, may I ask for your advice on how much more time I have?

MR. SPEAKER: Yes, you certainly may. You have lots of time. You have another 13 minutes.

MR. EPSTEIN: Thank you. Continuing through this bill - the minister brought it on himself by introducing a 500 or 600 clause bill - I would like to draw the minister's attention to the freedom of information provisions in the bill. These are clauses 462 to 502, only 40 clauses to deal with here.

AN HON. MEMBER: Take your time, Howard.

MR. EPSTEIN: I will. Here is the difficulty with this section. It would have been easy just to take the Freedom of Information Act that exists now and say, it applies to municipalities. I find it peculiar to find a whole series of 40 clauses that are dealing with how a municipality is to deal with freedom of information separate from the main governing Statute that we have and have had for a long time. I think Nova Scotia was, in fact, the first province to adopt a Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act. It has been something that we have moved on in Nova Scotia, moved on to our credit. The general Statute is not perfect and could be improved, but what I think we have to do here is not erode it at all and I am concerned that there is some watering-down in these provisions, in these 40

[Page 3070]

clauses, of the original Statute which itself should be improved rather than watered down in its special application to municipalities.

I also have not heard how it is that the burden of administration of this bill is going to be shouldered by those who now administer the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act. We have not seen, for example, a commitment to added resources. We know the way the system works with a review officer who looks at individual complaints and deals with it and we know from comments made by the review officer in cases that he has written up that it is already clear that he requires additional resources. We know from the reports that he has put forward that resources are needed.

How is it that that office is going to be able to take on this added burden of dealing with Freedom of Information Act complaints from municipalities all around the province without additional resources, without additional allocation of money and support? It is difficult and I would welcome some kind of commitment, suggestion or undertaking from the minister or some other minister of the government to indicate that hand in hand with this kind of extension of power would go the appropriate support, or it may be that he contemplates the municipalities paying for it. I am not sure, but it seems to me that something has to be done.

It is right to extend the power of freedom of information review to municipalities. This has been missing for a long time. I will draw the minister's attention, for example, to a decision that came from the review officer just on August 24th of this year. It had to do with a request for a review from the Public Prosecution Service. That is not the essence of it, but I will show you that what the review officer said at the time and this has to do not with the question of resources and financial support, but with the desirability of strengthening the provisions of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, rather than weakening them.

Here is what he said, "This frustrating incident with the PPS shows how vulnerable the Act is and how easily it can be undermined, whether intentionally or otherwise.". He goes on to explain in detail, and I won't read into the record the full comments that he has made, but this is an observation from a respected review officer who, time and again, I have read a number of his decisions, and one cannot but admire the competence that Mr. Fardy brings to the job. He is thorough, he writes clearly, he does a good job. (Applause) He lives in my riding.

In any event, what I have to say is that we have to pay attention when we hear him warning us as recently as August that it is possible for a department, as defined under that Act, whether intentionally, as he says, or otherwise, to undermine the main thrust of that Act. We have to pay attention to that, and I am not satisfied that in dealing with the underlying idea - which is admirable - to extend the application of this process to municipalities, we have really done it in the proper fashion. I am concerned about that provision, and I would again ask the minister and his staff to think seriously about potential changes to that.

[Page 3071]

I have a small point I would like to draw to the minister's attention that has to do with compensation for elected officials, members of council. As I understand the thrust of the bill, it is essentially to say that whatever pay is voted by a municipality as pay for their councillor is the full pay that they get. I know that there has been a history of complication through people sitting on other boards and commissions, and there has been a history of councillors getting extra pay for that. I know that one of the thrusts of the HRM Act, for example, was to put an end to it. We know, of course, that there was a recommendation at HRM that came through a process that attempted to recommend a level of pay, that there be reasonable compensation paid to councillors, but that there be no extra pay for service on extra boards, commissions and tribunals.

I know this affected some councillors who used to be in the City of Halifax and in the City of Dartmouth, and I think the example was they used to sit on the Bridge Commission. I sat on the Bridge Commission, I was appointed by HRM, but by that time the extra pay had been eliminated. I know that not all councillors were happy with it but, I say, too bad. If you are getting a reasonable remuneration, there ought not to enter into it, this spirit of competition to try to get the plum appointments on boards and commissions that pay extra. It is part of the job.

In Clause 570 of the bill, I see that if a councillor is on the Police Board they can be paid extra. Perhaps I am reading this wrong, but I would ask the minister to check with the members of his department and advise us whether that is in fact not what seems to be emerging from the bill. If that is the case, I don't think that is right, because it is not as if this were some special or unusual function that is well beyond the contemplation of what a municipal councillor would be expected to do. Police service is exactly one of the fundamental things that you pay your taxes for and you get in return in terms of a public service, and it is what you would expect your elected councillors to do as part of what you pay them to do. If someone sits on a Police Board, they should regard that as part of their duties and there shouldn't be extra pay for it. I think the minister might want to just check.

Let me turn to one other aspect, Mr. Speaker, about this. Clause 519(1) embodies the provision that has been promised, I understand, to the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities to attempt to provide some financial stability to the municipalities in terms of their interaction with the provincial government and any financial measures that might come forward. I heard the speaker who addressed this matter before I did say that he favoured this and he thought it was a good idea. I understand the principle, and I favour the principle. I favour the idea. I favour the idea of trying to insulate municipalities from financial shocks that might come from the provincial level but I have to say I worry a little bit about actually embodying it in this kind of statutory provision.

[Page 3072]

[12:00 p.m.]

It is one thing to make a political promise for which you can be held politically accountable, for which you can become very unpopular with your colleagues on municipal councils, we all have them, around the province if they are violated. It is another thing to essentially say, as Clause 519 does, that the hands of the government are tied in the sense that they have to give one full year's notice. I wonder about the wisdom of this and however good it is as a policy, however good it is as a promise, however desirable it is as an idea, I wonder if putting it in legislation is the right thing.

I have one last point to make, if I may, Mr. Speaker, I referred to it at the beginning when I referred to the length of this Statute because what it does is it incorporates the whole of the Planning Act or it abolishes the old Planning Act and incorporates new planning provisions. I intend to go through in detail the new sections which I have not yet had the chance to read, the new sections that deal with the planning process. It is important that all of the fundamental, underlying, good public policy principles of the existing Planning Act not be lost in their implementation here and I hope they have not been but I will be taking the chance over the weekend to look at that. I think other speakers at the Law Amendments Committee will probably turn to that if we find any failings. Thank you. (Applause)

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

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I am privileged to have an opportunity this afternoon to make a few comments regarding the Municipal Government Act. I had the privilege of serving on the old Halifax County Council from the fall of 1991 until the fall of 1993. All municipal councillors would certainly agree, I am sure and most Nova Scotians, that the government that is the closest to the people is the local municipal government. Unfortunately, the Savage Government of the day, as you are certainly well aware and has been referenced many times in this House, forced amalgamation upon Halifax County residents, Halifax, Dartmouth and Bedford citizens. I truly believe that the Municipal Government Act that is before us today is pretty much, if you will, a consequence and an aftermath of forced amalgamation. This Municipal Government Act was developed so differently from the Halifax Regional Municipality Act that a comparison suggesting night and day would be very appropriate.

How did we get here to this bill that is before us today? Well, I know the Progressive Conservatives support this legislation in principle and the Progressive Conservatives, for the last five to six years, railed away at the Savage and MacLellan Governments to make changes to the Municipal Act so forced amalgamations do not happen again. The Progressive Conservatives were supported by the citizens in Nova Scotia. Constituents right across this province from one end to another contacted the Tory caucus office and, Mr. Speaker, as I know some of your own constituents in Hants West would have had some concerns about a

[Page 3073]

government that rains holy terror on its citizens by forcing them into an amalgamated unit that they do not want to be in and that they never had any opportunity for consultation.

This Municipal Government Act is completely different, if you will, by the way it was drafted and the way it was created. It did provide for consultation and I commend the government for working with the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities. I know that most municipal units, if not all in Nova Scotia, and I understand some 55 did make submissions to the government relative to this legislation.

Village commissions. I know not too far from my constituency in my colleague, the member for Truro-Bible Hill's riding, there is the Village of Bible Hill. I know Bible Hill made a submission to the provincial government, to the UNSM committee and the provincial representatives regarding concerns they had with this legislation. So there was reasonable consultation relative to this piece of legislation that we have before us today.

Fire departments did have concerns that responsibilities were not clearly delineated. I know in my riding there are 16 fire departments, including the fire department at the Halifax International Airport. They were very concerned about the legislation as was, for example, a smaller fire department in the community of Meaghers Grant. In my riding, as I mentioned, there are a number of fire departments. We have the Goffs Fire Department, the Elderbank Fire Department, the Meaghers Grant Fire Department, the Middle Musquodoboit Fire Department, the Upper Musquodoboit Fire Department, the Upper Stewiacke Fire Department, the Middle Stewiacke Fire Department, the Brookfield Fire Department, the Hilden Fire Department, the Cobequid-Old Barns Fire Department, the Lower Truro Fire Department and, as I mentioned, there is also one at the Halifax airport.

The Salmon River Fire Department is almost on the line of Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley but my colleague to the right, figuratively, the member for Truro-Bible Hill, also claims the Salmon River Fire Department. It is really nice to know that fire departments across Nova Scotia had an opportunity to submit their concerns to the government, to the joint UNSM committee, and for that I thank the government and I know the fire departments do likewise.

A number of other government agencies also provided the joint committee with concerns and comments that they had. So, again, government agencies had an opportunity. The government, I think, is slowly learning through some of the errors that they have made in the past that if you are going to bring in legislation, especially legislation like this that has a large number of clauses and provisions, you have to provide consultation. The principle of this legislation is very supportable and we should mention that the general public out there had an opportunity to comment on the Municipal Government Act that is before us today.

This legislation, while it took some time to craft and develop and formulate, does have broad support across Nova Scotia and it is going to be terribly difficult for me, or any other member in this House, to stand and argue against the principle of this legislation because it

[Page 3074]

is quite different from other legislation that this government brought forward. So we ask that they continue with this principle, if you will, with this pilot project. It is the first time in recent memory that the government came in with legislation that provided for broad consultation.

Having said that, Mr. Speaker, let's move along to the highlights, if you will, of this legislation because it is reasonably good legislation. The scope of this legislation does modernize and consolidate some 13 or 15 Acts, I am not just sure which, but it does roll in municipal legislation, village services boundaries and regional services. It speaks to the Halifax Regional Municipality, the Cape Breton Regional Municipality, Queens.

Queens, for example, when Queens amalgamated, it was a classic example of how amalgamation should unfold, how it should transpire, how it should take place. As I understand, there was no shotgun wedding there and legislation like this will provide - and I will get to that a little later - that dictatorships no longer will reign supreme in Nova Scotia if this legislation receives approval and I trust that it will, because the Progressive Conservatives were very instrumental in seeing this legislation come forward.

Now, I am not really pleased that the government didn't enshrine and give municipal government jurisdiction and powers; municipal recognition is certainly provided and referenced in the Act, but from time to time we hear municipal units say, we would like to have a charter, if we just had a charter. In some other Canadian provinces, municipal government certainly does have strong legislation supporting it as an entity, as a body of government. The jurisdiction of municipal government is more clearly articulated in this legislation, and the purposes of municipal government are more clearly defined in this legislation. Case in point, for a couple minutes, I would like to represent the part that refers to deed transfers.

The small Town of Stewiacke, population of approximately 2,200, right in the heart of the beautiful Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley, brought in legislation asking that their deed transfer tax be increased from 1 per cent to 1.5 per cent, so they would be better able, if you will, to defray costs, because that small unit works extremely hard and they want to remain solvent; every municipal unit would like to do so. They don't want government handouts, and for the most part, Stewiacke has been a viable cost-effective and efficient municipal unit in the Province of Nova Scotia. However, we brought the bill before the Private and Local Bills Committee.

While the MLA who represents the Town of Stewiacke spoke forcefully in favour of increasing the deed transfer from 1 per cent to 1.5 per cent, the chairman of that committee, the former member for Hants East, argued against it. While he had no grounds and no basis and no substance to his comments and discussions against the Stewiacke Town bill, members of the NDP and the Progressive Conservative Party on that committee raised the point that the Halifax Regional Municipality, to name one, has provisions that they can charge 1.5 per cent for deed transfers.

[Page 3075]

We thought, in the name of fairness, in the name of consistency, why not let the smaller units, if you will, charge the same as the big unit. The big unit is trying to defray costs and balance their budget and so are the little units. It is absolutely heartening to see that, as a consequence of the little Town of Stewiacke raising a ruckus down here in the Private and Local Bills Committee a couple of years, we now have a clause included in the legislation that a council may determine by by-law that a deed transfer tax applies in the municipality but the rate of the deed transfer tax shall not exceed 1.5 per cent of the value of the property that is transferred. Mr. Speaker, that is good legislation. That is just one example of how the Progressive Conservative caucus listened to the people and likewise there was a fallout, and the government of the day heard that little town ask for the 1.5 per cent. We are very pleased to see that in there. (Applause) We are pleased that the government listened.

There are a number of clauses in the legislation, and a lot of these provisions are darn good sound clauses for the citizens and provisions that will help make things easier for municipal government.

Now, as I mentioned, there are notification and consultation provisions in this legislation that require the province to consult with the UNSM about any future changes, any possible, probable changes to the legislation. How in the heck can you argue against that? Again, the Progressive Conservatives would support that very fundamental provision. Here is something new, and I think all governments and certainly governments in the NDP Province of Saskatchewan, from what we hear, and we have it on good source and information that they also have a habit of downloading. They will not tell us in the House but there is a provision in this legislation, I think something you would like, Mr. Speaker, that the province shall give 12 months notice of actions which will result in increased costs, reduced revenues for municipalities.

[12:15 p.m.]

I know that during the bill briefing the Minister of Municipal Affairs was accompanied by the president of UNSM. I think the new president, Mr. Bolivar, and he was very pleased to see that the province now will or must - we hope they don't give them notice, whether it is 12 months or 16 months notice. We hope they do not have to give them notice about any increased costs but it is nice to know that a municipal government has time to prepare. I know that especially in the minority government environment we are in today, that before any government would dare download, they would consult with the Progressive Conservatives and likewise, but perhaps to a lesser degree, with the NDP. The legislation is sound. Again another fundamental change and very supportable.

Council term of office, I also understand, has been extended to four years and while you could certainly raise concerns as to why that may be not appropriate, likewise you could raise just as many concerns as to why it is appropriate. Again, on balance, I think that four years is reasonable and supportable. I am not the Municipal Affairs Critic for this caucus but I have

[Page 3076]

not received any concerns from councillors in my district. Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley is made up of the Halifax Regional Municipality, made up of the Town of Stewiacke and made up of the Municipality of the County of Colchester. I know all those units had an opportunity to comment on extending the term of office to four years and I have not received one letter, one phone call, against extending the term from three years to four years. Again, another change to the legislation, the Municipal Government Act, that we find some favour with.

Now, this legislation also talks to private council meetings. I hate going in camera but there are times, and I know sometimes even in standing committees of the House, it may be convenient if not widely supported to go in camera. When you are dealing with personnel and property exchanges and very sensitive issues there are times that it is nice to be in camera, Mr. Speaker. For that purpose, and again there is some grey area as to what can and cannot be discussed in camera, but again you cannot take that provision away altogether. I don't care what you say. Again, just speaking for myself on that one, I find favour with the provision and it talks to the different purposes where you could perhaps have a private council meeting and again, very supportable.

Municipal powers, as I indicated earlier, have been clarified and there is legislation in there where municipal units will have rules similar to the province regarding access to information. I know the Progressive Conservatives have problems with the present provincial situation relative to the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act. We have made numerous applications for information regarding matters that should be disclosed to the public domain and time and time again we have had our applications turned down. On other occasions we have been told, if you want to pay for it we might be able to give you a little information. On rare occasions, we have actually had one or two applications approved. I hope that municipal units somehow do not believe or are somehow not misled into believing that by receiving rules similar to the province regarding access to information that they are going to get information any quicker. That is a piece of legislation that clearly, most certainly, has to be tidied up.

The Progressive Conservatives made an application to the Department of Economic Development and Tourism recently asking for information relative to funding golf courses in this province and this is just an example. We threw three or four questions at the department but we wanted the names of golf course owners that have received the taxpayers' money through the Economic Diversification Agreement that this government has with their friends in Ottawa, the Chretien Liberal Government. We received a letter back telling us the department would have to check with the third party. So in other words, the taxpayers are doling out millions and millions of dollars, federal dollars and tax dollars, there is only one taxpayer, but do not dare ask where that money is going because we have to check to see if the corporation wants to let the people know that they are being subsidized and funded by the taxpayers in the province. So this access to information certainly sticks in my craw, however, let us give the municipality the same privileges, if you will, that the province has but, my gosh,

[Page 3077]

let us do something to improve the Act so the municipal units are actually receiving something.

This legislation also speaks to public-private partnerships. We have been down that road several times in here, we have talked about the public-private partnership up on the Cobequid Pass, we have talked about the P3 situation regarding the schools, Horton High, Harrison high, all of these high schools and so on and so forth. There may be some justification for public-private partnerships. The Progressive Conservatives have never, ever spoken against the principle of public-private partnerships. There are areas especially today in this time of fiscal restraint and austerity, we have to be conscious of the private sector. The Progressive Conservatives do not argue that but we also believe that there are services and roles and responsibilities that the government must always maintain. We believe that before any more toll roads, if one single kilometre of highway in the province is tolled, before that could ever take place and in fact, we are absolutely opposed to any more but we do believe, unlike the Savage swarm that reigned holy terror in Nova Scotia, we want true, meaningful, consultation.

The poor people and I say that term with all respect, but the folks in Amherst, Cumberland, Colchester, Truro and Musquodoboit never had the opportunity for consultation so when we see this government we almost shy back. It is something like grabbing a phone in a toll booth. The former member for Antigonish, the Honourable Bill Gillis told me, he said, when you want the phone and the phones are busy there and they are not lit up, you grab them like the head of the rattlesnake before the light lights up, grab them quick. So that is the way you have got to treat this public-private partnership. We have got to handle that very carefully before we ever proceed. You have to grab that one very quickly before it could jump back and bite you. You have to be careful.

This legislation, the Municipal Government Act, also speaks to new taxes and area rate provisions. In Halifax Regional Municipality we have many services. We receive services that come out of the general rate and there are other services, such as street lighting, firefighting, sewer and water, that are paid for via the area rate. This legislation is making, again, a provision for urban, suburban, rural and minimum tax rates and the existing HRM legislation does not have the necessary provisions for the three area rates that may be charged. So this legislation and a good number of the provisions in this legislation, just by the very language, clearly is more especially for Halifax Regional Municipality.

As much as I dislike Halifax Regional Municipality's way of charging for services, I think we have to be more flexible and we have to have area rating provisions, Mr. Speaker. I know in my part of Halifax Regional Municipality our rural rate, if you will, our residential rate went from 89 cents - this is pre-amalgamation in rural Nova Scotia - per $100 of assessment to nearly $1.06 in a little over two years, but the services, if anything, have declined. The rate inclined, the service declined, and the representation - just because of the geography, our member for District 1, Eastern Shore-Musquodoboit Valley in the Halifax

[Page 3078]

Regional Municipality, has an area almost the same size as any provincial constituency. So he is a very busy gentleman and does a heck of a good job but he has a large area to serve. While the area rates kind of take care of themselves, I do not think anybody has a difficulty with paying for service they receive, sometimes the general rate . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: It is about a 17 per cent increase probably.

MR. TAYLOR: Yes, and my colleague raises a good point. It is about a 17 per cent increase in less than two years plus the assessments went up to compound it, to make it more difficult to swallow, Mr. Speaker, on average up through the beautiful Musquodoboit Valley, including the communities of Gibraltar, Meaghers Grant, Elderbank, Middle Musquodoboit.

Now, Mr. Speaker, seriously, we have seen our municipal tax rate increase by 25 per cent and 30 per cent over the last couple of years primarily due to amalgamation but also as a result of the assessments that have been carried out by the government recently. The provincial government is conferring expanded by-law powers to the municipal units and I find favour with that and support it. I understand what the province is trying to do because the municipal government must have the ability to deal with existing and emerging concerns that may develop. This legislation does that.

Mr. Speaker, this government also speaks to the disclosure of campaign contributions. As I understand it, contributions that are $50 or more are to be disclosed up to, I am not sure what the maximum is but if you receive $10,000 or more, in fact, you will have to have an audit conducted. You have to submit an audit. So you can say what you like about campaign contributions but I think that is fair. I like to offer examples of where this legislation finds favour and why perhaps this was included. As you will recall, there was a race for the mayor's chair in the Halifax Regional Municipality, two well known, somewhat connected Liberals, one might be a little more disconnected now than the other one but nonetheless, we did find out when one of those individuals made application to the Utility and Review Board it was disclosed that he received a significant contribution from a major developer.

[12:30 p.m.]

AN HON. MEMBER: Who was the developer?

MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, the developer is a fine fellow, a heck of a nice guy. It is time we moved along to other provisions that are in the legislation but we have to remember that there are certain clauses in this legislation that apply only to the Halifax Regional Municipality. However, we will have one Statute when this is approved and I trust it will be when it is passed, incorporated and proclaimed, we will have one Statute to govern all municipal units. I think that is important, it is a pretty general statement but when we go through the legislation we find a number of areas where the stakeholders are represented and how can you argue against that? That is difficult to speak against, good stuff, yes.

[Page 3079]

MR. SPEAKER: I wonder if I could interrupt the honourable member just for one moment for an introduction?

MR. TAYLOR: Absolutely.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Argyle on an introduction.

MR. NEIL LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the honourable member for yielding the floor. In your gallery today we have four residents of, I would say the beautiful constituency of Argyle if I want to follow in the footsteps of my colleague. They are Margaret D'Eon, Emiline D'Eon, Rosella D'Entremont and Pauline D'Entremont and I would ask them all to rise to receive the approbation of the House. (Applause)

MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I certain would like to reiterate what the honourable member for Argyle said there, welcome, welcome. (Interruptions) C'est bon, Mr. Speaker.

I kind of lost my train of thought but just to get back to the legislation before us, existing legislation is outdated, it is difficult to find and it is difficult to understand. We are getting clear of some of this legislation that is outdated and difficult to find.

The previous speaker spoke to his concerns relative to pesticides, herbicides and insecticides and that honourable member, during the last legislative session brought in legislation that would see the storage, transportation, sale and application of insecticides, herbicides and the like more tightly regulated. However, that legislation was clearly going to impact the agricultural community in a way that was really not certain.

I had some conversation with the honourable member who brought in the previous legislation and explained to him that in the Musquodoboit Valley, most of the farming, if not all of the farming in the Halifax Regional Municipality is and potentially will be in that district of the super-city. The member said that the legislation was really intended for the urban parts of the Halifax Regional Municipality. However, the legislation did not distinguish that so as a result, the Progressive Conservatives could not support the legislation that the honourable member brought forward. The farmers across Nova Scotia are very responsible individuals; however, if we are too heavy-handed and too intrusive and too restrictive in this House, we could see a decline in the farming community like we have never seen before.

I come from a small farming community. I grew up on a dairy farm in the small community of Chaswood where we milked upwards of 23 cattle; we had Holstein, Ayrshires, Guernseys and Jerseys. You know, the problem we had, we couldn't seem to coordinate when the cattle freshened and in the winter months, when things are extremely difficult, sometimes we were only shipping one can of milk a day; now this is before the bulk tank. I can tell you, coming from a family of eight, shipping one can or less a day, the income is not all that substantial. It is not all that significant. We had to supplement our income from the

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farm, so we cut hardwood, we did a little bit of trucking and things of that nature. All in all, we kind of got along and managed. I can tell you, there was never a mealtime when there wasn't a meal before us. That is the way it is today.

Agriculture in Nova Scotia should not be restricted, if you will, to such a degree that it makes the job difficult and it makes the profession unbearable for those who are in that very important sector. Now the NDP, something you might know a little bit about, Mr. Deputy Speaker, are telling us that they have somehow mysteriously found rural Nova Scotia. I would encourage (Interruptions) Yes, that would be a very good question, we must not get strayed by the rabbit tracks; especially me, I would never do that.

Just in closing, this is a very important day in history. I know the honourable member for Halifax Bedford Basin probably knows what this day in history is. Mr. Speaker, I think all members should know, before I take my place - and we do support this legislation - this day in history, in 1956, the Progressive Conservatives won the provincial election. With that, I take my seat.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou West.

MR. CHARLES PARKER: Mr. Speaker, I rise to speak on Bill No. 47. It is certainly a pleasure for me, coming from a background as a municipal councillor for a number of years, to have a little bit of input on this, the Municipal Government Act. As a councillor, I have had a background for 10 years on the level of government that is closest to the people, and really at the grass-roots level associated with ordinary folks.

Some of the things that we had, and I see some of them reflected in this Act, we had responsibilities to deal with every day on all kinds of matters. Mundane issues like dog control and trying to get a street light for a resident, certainly social services, were a big part of the job that we had to do. Little things like garbage pick-up and looking after our landfill sites; determining where sewer and water projects should be implemented, and how to find the money for that; setting tax rates; dealing with people who had complaints about the provincial government. I guess nothing has really changed there, I still get that one all the time.

Really, I think municipal government is the first order of government in this country, and later on we had the federal and provincial governments established, but the level of government closest to the people is municipal government. I know in this House, we have had a number of people who have come from municipal backgrounds. I know there are at least 10 MLAs in this House who have had experience as municipal councillors, or maybe more. I was counting them up before I stood up here and there is at least that number, and perhaps higher than that, within all three Parties combined.

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My privilege as a municipal councillor was to serve in District No. 7 of the Municipality of Pictou County. That included areas like Alma, Durham, West River, Union Centre and some of those areas of that county. Presently, as MLA, I have the opportunity to serve and work with two municipalities, certainly the Municipality of Pictou County and also the Town of Pictou by times and dealing with a warden, a mayor, town councillors and rural municipal councillors. So it is a good background of different people that are involved in municipal government.

I am going to turn now to this bill, Mr. Speaker, and I guess the first thing I note, while the legislation allows for more autonomy and more say for municipal government, it still does not go all the way in allowing a charter to be established for municipal government. I know that would take some legislation to change that and it would require a constitutional change but while it does help and it does establish more authority to the municipalities, the real step is to establish a municipal charter that establishes in legislation the right of municipal governments to continue in this province and in this country for that matter. So I might suggest to the minister that might be something that he could work with or work towards to see if a charter for municipal governments can be established because really right now municipalities are at the whim of the province. If the province so wished, they could take the powers of municipalities away and I certainly would not want to see that happen.

Turning to some of the particular features within the bill that are good and some that are not so good, overall I think the legislation is very good in that it establishes the principle of consultation. I think the minister indicated that there were over 100 people who made submissions on the first draft of the bill and on the second draft there were almost that many, 80-odd, I believe he mentioned. So it shows that the municipal councillors, wardens and mayors have had some time and some possibilities of putting some thought and to change the legislation as they saw fit. I think that is good. It establishes an excellent principle that consulting with the municipalities is the right way to go. I hope that is an indication of the way our provincial government might continue in the future, to consult with people so that they have an opportunity to have some input into the legislation.

I want to turn to the particular bill. I guess I will start with Clause 10(1) of the bill, "A municipality is governed by a council consisting of at least three members.". I wonder if three is enough. Now, that is at least three and that means it could be only three. The municipality I served in had 14 councillors. Most town councils have seven counting the mayor. Three, to me, seems like a small number and I realize that some municipalities are quite small in population but if three is the number and perhaps one is sick, then you have only got two, you know, they split their opinion and maybe they cannot come to a decision. So I wonder if the number should be a little bit higher than three. It just seems a little bit small to me.

Moving on to Clause 12, and this is where it is talking about electing a warden, the warden shall be picked by his fellow councillors at the first council session that is held after the election, and that is the way it has always been in rural Nova Scotia, that one of the

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councillors would be picked as warden from among themselves which is different than in towns where the mayor is elected at large by all the residents. I know there has been considerable discussion on this and most rural municipalities did not like the idea of, first of all, their warden being called a mayor and, secondly, the idea to change the system, but I do see in the legislation where that is possible. That is good. If the municipality does choose to do it, then they have nine months, I think it is, to serve notice that they would like to have it changed from being a warden elected by their councillors to the chairman of the council elected by all the people in the municipality. The option is there, so I commend the minister for having that in there, although I doubt if I can see too many rural municipalities that will choose to change it that way.

[12:45 p.m.]

Another section of the bill, Clause 17, deals with a councillor who, for some reason, goes off in a huff and decides he wants to resign from council. This happens on occasion, people get hot under the collar and they put in their resignation to the clerk; they might, in the heat of the moment, think that is the right thing to do. It mentions that it cannot be withdrawn. Now, maybe on sober second thought they might like to change that and I think there should be some provision in there for them to do that, but it says here once it is given to the clerk, the clerk is obligated to take it to council and present it as a resignation.

I know in the past, in the municipality I come from, there was a case of a councillor who did that and, after a couple of days of reflection, he did decide to withdraw his letter of resignation, so he remained as a councillor and he was a good councillor. I think that just in that particular moment he thought it was the right thing to do but, on reflection, he changed his mind. I certainly would like to see that opportunity continue because sometimes we all say things in the heat of a moment that we regret later on, or do things that we shouldn't, so I would like to see that provision changed so they would still have the opportunity to withdraw their resignation a day or two afterwards.

Clause 23 is dealing with the pay structure for councillors, pay that is regulated for councillors, and the council has the opportunity to determine how much their warden and their councillors are going to be paid. I guess I have some difficulty with that in that it seems wiser to me that you should not have the fox in the chicken house determining the rules. It should be maybe a body outside council that would make the decision. It says, Clause 23(1) "The council may make policies . . . (d) providing for and fixing (i) the annual remuneration to be paid to the mayor or warden," and the amount to be paid to the deputy mayor and the amount to be paid to the councillors, and also for meeting fees for outside members and so on.

I don't think it should be in the hands of the council themselves, how much they get paid for their services; it should be an outside body or agency that can look at it, review it, get public input and determine what is fair and what is just. There is a possibility, a chance for

[Page 3083]

abuse there, when you set your own rate of pay. I know here in this House it is done by an outside agency and that is being done at the present time with Mr. Justice Clarke, who is touring the province and getting submissions from people. I would like to see something similar at the municipal level, where an unbiased body would review the salaries or the wages of the council and the members.

Moving on to Clause 69, this is for the exemption of taxes for people who are in low-income situations. I know from previous experience that at one time it was limited only to those who were on a pension, like Canada Pension or Old Age Pension or a disability pension. I believe it was changed somewhere along the line that it would be based on income regardless of the source and regardless of age. If a person was only earning $5,000 for the whole year, from whatever source, which would be under the minimum amount of income, then they should be eligible for some type of tax exemption and not have to be an old age pensioner or on a disability or Canada Pension. It should be available to anybody who meets the income requirement, regardless of age or source of income.

Clause 71 is dealing with exemptions for charitable organizations, like churches and fire departments and community halls and so on. I think that generally that section is good, and that it does give an exemption to these community organizations and community groups. Although there has been some, I guess, push or some indication that the municipalities, or I don't know where the push came from, but they were trying to tax charitable organizations. I don't think that is right. If they are a church or a registered charity or a fire department, they should be exempt from having to pay municipal property tax. I just want to make sure that the legislation is properly written that that does occur.

I know they do receive an assessment notice, saying the value is $70,000 or whatever it is, but then they don't have to pay the tax on it. But there are some municipalities that are strapped, and I know would like to be able to tax, at least on a partial basis, some of these charitable organizations. I hope, Mr. Minister, you will be able to make sure the legislation is tight enough that that cannot happen.

Clause 74 deals with the minimum tax that may be charged, and while there is some merit that all people that receive services from a municipality should have to pay their fair share, I am just wondering if it is not discriminatory against low-income people that have a very small little house or a mobile home or whatever. If the minimum tax is $200 and in actual fact, through assessment, it may only work out to $94 or something, they have to make up that difference, the extra $106, and I am not sure if that is the right way to go. Based on ability to pay, some people are paying more than what actual value they have in their real estate.

I think it is an area to look at, because it may be discriminatory again, against that person who is only earning $5,000 or maybe someone who is earning over the minimum amount of say $12,000 or whatever, it is still very difficult for them to come up with the

[Page 3084]

amount of tax, if it is a minimum tax of $200 or whatever. It is still a burden on them. I might ask that the section could be looked at.

Clause 77, my colleague had mentioned earlier, a concern on this, the farmland tax grant per acre of $2.10. Generally, I am glad to see this as being reinstituted under Bill No. 13, the Financial Measures Act, that farmers will again have this exemption, and the province is providing the grant in lieu of taxes to the municipalities. But I am a little bit concerned about Clause 77(3), which says, "The Governor in Council may, by regulation, change the grant per acre.". That means, the way it is written, they could actually do away with it, and take it out all together, which is the way it was the last couple of years until the government brought it back in.

I certainly support the farm community in this province. Coming from rural Nova Scotia, I think it is very important that we do support our farm communities, and they absolutely need this land tax exemption. I am concerned about the possibility of any government in the future, through the Cabinet, being able to take this away. I don't like Clause 77(3).

In the same vein, Clause 78 is dealing with forest land, and again, under Clause 78(2), "The Governor in Council may, by regulation, change the rates of tax set out in subsection (1).". Again, it appears that at any time, the Governor in Council could take away this exemption on our forest land. That is a concern. It is there, it is good, but let's not take it away. Maybe a government that is financially strapped feels they need some extra revenue, and all of a sudden they look at this and take it away. I don't think it is the right way to go.

Moving on through the bill, there is a lot of information in here on the subdivisions and planning. It would take more time than I have had to prepare to read through it carefully, so I haven't really concentrated on that, but what I have looked at next is Clause 103 which is the deed transfer tax. It is presently set up to be at 1.5 per cent, that the municipalities have a choice, that they can decide if they want to levy that tax and generally I have no problems with that. I am not just sure how it was determined that 1.5 per cent would be the rate but the difficulty in some counties is where you have a lot of municipalities. For example, in Pictou County, there are six municipalities there. I know one municipality looked at this and one of the towns said, yes, this would be a good source of revenue for us, let's implement it, but the other five municipalities around it decided that they were not going to try this source of revenue and did not go with it.

The difficulty became that, you know, it almost became a detriment for that town in that people looked at paying this extra 1.5 per cent and maybe it was the determining factor on whether they moved to that town or not. If they were penalized an extra amount in that town but not in a neighbouring municipality they decided they might choose not to go to that particular town to live. In time I know the council decided, well, it is hurting us and we will take it away because we want people to move to our town, not be discouraged from coming

[Page 3085]

to it, and they did away with it. I think if it was all or none, if none of the municipalities had this right, or if they all were at the same time given the right to put in the deed transfer tax, then it would make it more fair but it actually becomes a detriment to individual municipalities to try to implement it on their own.

Clause 174 is dealing with the right of a municipality to declare a holiday. I think the only municipal holiday that can be declared is a civic holiday in August, or around Natal Day, and some municipalities have done it and some have not. It is Clause 174(1)(h). There is some difficulty here in the province right now in that some municipalities declare a holiday and some do not. I would certainly think that it should be uniform across the province, either we have a civic holiday on the first Monday in August or we do not. As it stands, some have it and some do not. People are confused about what is open today and what is not. Are the banks open, or is the municipal office open? It is in that town but it is not in this one. So I think it should be uniform and maybe it is something the province could declare - I think most would like it in mid-summer to have an extra holiday, so if the province could declare - that there is a civic holiday uniformly, I think it would be better.

I know my time is getting very short, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: I would advise the honourable member, if he wishes to continue much longer, perhaps he might adjourn the debate shortly.

MR. PARKER: I will adjourn debate and pick up on another day. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is to adjourn the debate. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

The honourable Deputy Government House Leader.

MR. RAYMOND WHITE: Mr. Speaker, the hours on Monday will be from 6:00 p.m. until 10:00 p.m. Following the daily routine we will continue with Bill No. 47. If that is completed, we will move on to Bill No. 43.

I move that the House do now rise to meet Monday evening at the hour of 6:00 p.m.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is carried.

We stand adjourned until Monday at 6:00 p.m.

[The House rose at 12:59 p.m.]