Assemblée Législative de la Nouvelle-Écosse

Les travaux de la Chambre ont repris le
21 septembre 2017

Hansard -- Tue., Apr. 13, 1999

First Session

TUESDAY, APRIL 13, 1999

TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE
PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS:
Educ. - Pictou Co.: Mega-Schools - Oppose, Ms. E. O'Connell 5687
Health - Pictou Co.: Aberdeen Hospital - Bed Shortage, Dr. J. Hamm 5688
Fish. - Tatamagouche Bay: Mussel Cultivation - Proposal Oppose,
Mr. B. Taylor 5688
STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS:
Econ. Dev. - Trade Figures (1998), Hon. Manning MacDonald 5688
NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 2708, Econ. Dev. & Tourism - Corps. Large: Hand-Outs -
Restrict, Mr. R. Chisholm 5692
Res. 2709, Fin. - ITT Sheraton: HST - Payment Demand, Mr. G. Moody 5693
Res. 2710, Educ. - Debating Champs. (N.S. JHS): Sherwood Park
(Second) - Congrats., Hon. Manning MacDonald 5693
Vote - Affirmative 5694
Res. 2711, Culture - "Word on the Street": Spelling Bee - Success Wish,
Ms. E. O'Connell 5694
Vote - Affirmative 5695
Res. 2712, Commun. Serv. - Adoption: Info. Release -
Approach Change, Mr. J. Muir 5695
Res. 2713, Sports - Wrestling (N.S. Div. 1 Girls Champs.):
Park View Panthers - Congrats., Hon. D. Downe 5696
Vote - Affirmative 5696
Res. 2714, Educ. - Riverview RHS: Child Poverty -
Conf. Organizers Congrats., Ms. Helen MacDonald 5696
Vote - Affirmative 5697
Res. 2715, Health - Long-Term Care Beds: Yar. Co. - Shortage Address,
Mr. N. LeBlanc 5697
Res. 2716, Educ. - Acadia Univ.: Tech. Breakthrough (Acadia Advantage) -
Recognition (Smithsonian Inst.) Congrats., Hon. R. Harrison 5698
Vote - Affirmative 5698
Res. 2717, Commun. Serv. - Lake District Rec. Assoc. [Sackville]:
Volunteers - Congrats., Mr. J. Holm 5699
Vote - Affirmative 5699
Res. 2718, Health - Reg. Bd. (Eastern): Gaming Addiction Treatment
Progs. - Commitment Re-Examine, Mr. G. Moody 5699
Res. 2719, Sask. NDP - Nurses: Hostile Policies - Discontinue,
Mr. L. Montgomery 5700
Res. 2720, Commun. Serv. - Eileen Cassell (Eastern Passage):
Volunteerism - Congrats., Mr. Kevin Deveaux 5700
Vote - Affirmative 5701
Res. 2721, Gov't. (N.S.) - Seniors: Issues Inaction - Condemn,
Mr. M. Scott 5701
Res. 2722, Sask. NDP - Health Policies: Families Suffering -
Sympathy Extend, Mr. P. MacEwan 5702
Res. 2723, Justice: Lake Echo Citizens on Patrol - Congrats.,
Ms. Y. Atwell 5702
Vote - Affirmative 5703
Res. 2724, Housing & Mun. Affs. - Cumb. Co.: Assessment Rates -
Process Review, Mr. J. Leefe 5703
Res. 2725, Sports - Basketball (N.S. Boys Div. 1 Champs):
Park View Educ. Centre - Congrats., Hon. D. Downe 5704
Vote - Affirmative 5705
Res. 2726, Culture - Dartmouth Players: Successes - Congrats.,
Mr. D. Chard 5705
Vote - Affirmative 5705
Res. 2727, Fish. - Aquaculture: Tatamagouche Bay Licence
(Dockendorff) - Decision Reveal, Mr. B. Taylor 5705
Res. 2728, Sask. NDP - Nurses Strike: Hospitals (U.S.) Use -
Consequences, Mr. P. MacEwan 5706
Res. 2729, Justice - C.B. Reg. Police/New Waterford Lion's Club:
Children In Trauma - Assistance Applaud, Mr. F. Corbett 5706
Vote - Affirmative 5707
Res. 2730, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Trafalgar Rd. (Route 374):
Emergency Repairs - Arrange, Dr. J. Hamm 5707
Res. 2731, Educ. - Classic Achiever HS Award (Wendy's):
Bronwyn Dena Cox (Middleton RHS) - Finalist Congrats.,
Mr. L. Montgomery 5708
Vote - Affirmative 5708
Res. 2732, Fish. - Eastern Cdn. Exposition (Yar. Co.): Promoters -
Congrats., Mr. John Deveau 5709
Vote - Affirmative 5709
Res. 2733, Environ. - Earth Day: Significance - Recognize,
Mr. J. DeWolfe 5709
Vote - Affirmative 5710
Res. 2734, St. Patrick's Church, North East Margaree:
Bell (Anniv. 100th) - Congrats., Mr. Charles MacDonald 5710
Vote - Affirmative 5711
Res. 2735, B-L-T Rec. Centre - Staff: Work - Congrats.,
Mr. W. Estabrooks 5711
Vote - Affirmative 5711
Res. 2736, Commun. Serv. : Volunteers (N.S.) - Thank, Mr. G. Balser 5711
Vote - Affirmative 5712
Res. 2737, Leader of the Opposition (N.S.) - Nurses Strike (Sask.):
Solution - Reveal, Mr. Charles MacDonald 5712
Res. 2738, Health - Homes for Special Care: Care Standards - Enforce,
Ms. Maureen MacDonald 5713
Res. 2739, Metro Food Bank Soc. - Efforts: Thanks - Extend,
Mr. James Muir 5714
Res. 2740, Holocaust: Events - Remember, Mr. H. Epstein 5714
Vote - Affirmative 5715
Res. 2741, Sports - Hockey (N.S. Midget "B" Champs.):
Lunenburg Falcons - Congrats., Mr. M. Baker 5715
Vote - Affirmative 5716
Res. 2742, Lt. Gov. (N.S.) Medal of Excellence in Pub. Admin.:
Dr. Peter Aucoin (Hfx.) - Congrats., Mr. P. Delefes 5716
Vote - Affirmative 5716
Res. 2743, Educ. - Plymouth School: Addition - Congrats.,
Mr. N. LeBlanc 5717
Vote - Affirmative 5717
Res. 2744, Sports - Winter Games (Can. 1999): Participants (N.S.) -
Congrats., Mr. John MacDonell 5717
Vote - Affirmative 5718
Res. 2745, Health - Cumb. South: Physicians Shortage - Address,
Mr. M. Scott 5718
Res. 2746, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Pictou West: Secondary Roads -
Repair, Mr. C. Parker 5719
Res. 2747, Sports - Hockey (Colchester Oldtimers League):
Don Fisher Construction Cruise Missiles - Commend, Mr. B. Taylor 5720
Vote - Affirmative 5720
Res. 2748, Educ.: Hfx. West HS Model Parliament - Commend,
Ms. E. O'Connell 5720
Vote - Affirmative 5721
Res. 2749, Eureka Vol. Fire Dept. (Pictou Co.): Anniv. 50th - Congrats.,
Mr. J. DeWolfe 5721
Vote - Affirmative 5722
Res. 2750, Econ. Dev. & Tourism - Fitzgerald Studio (C.B.):
Info. Tech. (Ex-Prov.) - Congrats., Ms. Helen MacDonald 5722
Vote - Affirmative 5722
Res. 2751, Sports - Wrestling (N.S.-Hants East RHS): Organizers
(Rob Barrett) & Athletes - Congrats., Mr. John MacDonell 5723
Vote - Affirmative 5723
ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS:
No. 882, Commun. Serv. - Abuse Allegations (Cesar Lalo):
Employee Records - Cover-Up Prevention, Mr. R. Chisholm 5723
No. 883, Health - Seniors: Surgery Delay - Consequences, Mr. J. Muir 5725
No. 884, Commun. Serv. - Abuse Allegations (Cesar Lalo): Cover-Up -
Investigate, Mr. J. Pye 5726
No. 885, Justice - Abuse Allegations (Cesar Lalo): Protocol Review -
Meetings (NSGEU), Mr. J. Muir 5728
No. 886, Commun. Serv. - Abuse Allegations (Cesar Lalo):
Employee Records - Falsification Authority, Mr. R. Chisholm 5729
No. 887, Health - Osteoporosis: Testing - Waiting Times, Dr. J. Hamm 5730
No. 888, Human Rights Comm'n. - Protocol Positions (Don Rochford):
Settlement - Disclose, Mr. Kevin Deveaux 5731
[ANSWER (Hon. R. Harrison), Page 5767]
No. 889, Bus. & Cons. Serv. - Empire/Oshawa Group Merger:
Restaurants - Effect, Mr. P. Delefes 5732
No. 890, Health - Attendant Care: Pilot Prog. - Update, Mr. G. Moody 5733
No. 891, Econ. Dev. & Tourism - Sobeys: HQ (N.S.) Retention -
Assistance, Mr. D. Dexter 5734
No. 892, Agric.: Budget (1999-2000) - Increase, Mr. G. Archibald 5735
No. 893, Educ. - P3 Schools: Leases - Secrecy, Ms. E. O'Connell 5735
No. 894, Educ. - Schools (Rural): Funding Formula - Fairness,
Mr. M. Scott 5737
No. 895, Commun. Serv. - Small Options Homes: Workers -
Wage Increase, Mr. J. Pye 5738
No. 896, Tech. & Sc. Sec't. - Mobile Radio System: Emergency
Response Teams - Adequacy, Mr. G. Balser 5739
No. 897, Justice - Correctional & Forensic Facility (HRM): Cost -
Increase, Ms. R. Godin 5740
No. 898, P&P - Violence in Workplace: Regs. - Rejection,
Mr. F. Corbett 5741
No. 899, Environ.: Landfill - Tipping Fees, Mr. J. DeWolfe 5742
No. 900, Commun. Serv.: Social Assistance - Claw Back, Mr. J. Pye 5743
No. 901, Bus. & Cons. Serv. - Weigh Station (Amherst): Closure -
Rationale, Mr. B. Taylor 5744
No. 902, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Hwy. No. 103 (HRM Landfill):
Garbage (Road) - Action, Mr. W. Estabrooks 5745
No. 903, Commun. Serv. - Adoption Advisory Comm.: Report -
Received, Mr. J. Muir 5746
No. 904, Housing & Mun. Affs. - C.B. Public Housing: Upgrades -
Report, Ms. R. Godin 5747
HOUSE RESOLVED INTO CWH ON BILLS AT 2:00 P.M. 5747
HOUSE RECONVENED AT 4:33 P.M. 5748
CWH REPORTS 5748
PUBLIC BILLS FOR THIRD READING:
No. 90, Workers' Compensation Act 5748
Hon. R. MacKinnon 5748
Mr. F. Corbett 5750
Mr. M. Baker 5752
Mr. Kevin Deveaux 5757
Mr. J. DeWolfe 5767
Mr. John MacDonell 5768
Mr. R. Matheson 5770
[debate adjourned] 5772
ADJOURNMENT:
MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5):
Status of Women - Work Non-Traditional: Measures - Support:
Ms. Y. Atwell 5772
Mr. J. Muir 5774
Hon. F. Cosman 5777
PUBLIC BILLS FOR THIRD READING:
No. 90, Workers' Compensation Act [debate resumed] 5780
Dr. J. Hamm 5780
Mr. R. Chisholm 5783
Vote - Affirmative 5792
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again no later than May 18th 5793

[Page 5687]

HALIFAX, TUESDAY, APRIL 13, 1999

Fifty-seventh General Assembly

First Session

12:00 P.M.

SPEAKER

Hon. Ronald Russell

DEPUTY SPEAKER

Mr. Donald Chard

MR. SPEAKER: Before we commence with the daily routine, I would advise members that the late debate today was submitted by the honourable member for Halifax Citadel. It reads, "Therefore be it resolved that the government should undertake new and additional measures to support women who seek employment in non-traditional work.". That subject will be debated at 6:00 p.m. this evening.

We will commence the daily routine.

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

MS. EILEEN O'CONNELL: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition bearing 119 signatures from residents of Pictou County who are concerned about public-private partnering in the construction of new schools. The operative clauses reads, "Down with Mega-Schools.". I have affixed my signature to the document.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

5687

[Page 5688]

The honourable Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party.

DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition signed by 2,200 residents of Pictou County who are concerned about the level of hospital beds that are available at the Aberdeen Hospital. The petition, in part, reads, "Our Residents deserve a guarantee that this number will not decrease but increase to a workable ratio for today and for our future.". I have signed the petition.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition on behalf of 273 area residents as well as people from right across Nova Scotia. The operative clause of the petition reads, "We, the undersigned are opposed to the mussel cultivation proposal currently being considered for development in the Tatamagouche Bay area of Nova Scotia.". I have also signed the petition.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Economic Development.

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I would like to share some news that should be welcomed by all members of this House of Assembly. Statistics Canada has tallied up the province's trade figures for 1998 and the results are very encouraging indeed. Mr. Speaker, Nova Scotia merchandise exports grew by a full 8.2 per cent last year. That is almost double the growth rate of the previous two years combined and it is considerably better than the national average of 5.1 per cent. That increase represents $0.25 billion in out-of-province sales for Nova Scotia companies. They sold more seafood products, more paper, more tires, more railcars and some of the increases are staggering.

The new super-calendered paper-making plant at Stora, Port Hawkesbury drove up out-of-province paper sales by more than 3,000 per cent. That is an increase in sales of $76 million, Mr. Speaker, from this one company alone; a company that was thinking about leaving the province just a few years ago, but decided instead to re-invest in Nova Scotia.

[Page 5689]

Last year, we announced an investment of training funds to Stora and Stora made a $750 million commitment to this province; $0.75 billion, Mr. Speaker, that is about the best job security that you can get and what a boost to our export picture.

Nova Scotia's newsprint exports grew by 17.8 per cent last year to $312 million. Our lumber and forest products sales increased by 48 per cent; pulp exports grew 34 per cent.

Mr. Speaker, there is good news in other sectors also. Nova Scotia sold more railcars in 1998 than it did the year before, $150 million worth of increased sales. Seafood products have also done well. Lobster exports are up 5 per cent over last year and sales of frozen scallops are up 21 per cent over 1997.

Last year, Nova Scotia's largest export product got even bigger. Truck and bus tire exports grew by 3.8 per cent to reach $328 million. You know what company that is, Mr. Speaker? Those export sales are coming from Michelin, a company that is investing in Nova Scotia, that is expanding in Nova Scotia. These truck and bus tires exports are creating more jobs and more wealth in this province and it is happening because this government made a decision to work with the company to secure strategic opportunities; opportunities that could easily have gone to Michelin plants in the United States.

Mr. Speaker, the Department of Economic Development and Tourism has made export development a top priority. We have had to increase our exports to become a truly prosperous and self-sufficient province. We are still behind the national average, but we are making progress and my department is playing a role in driving these trade figures up.

Last year, the department led more companies on more trade missions than ever before, 40 missions in all: Germany, Iceland, the Caribbean, Washington, Louisiana and, of course, our priority market, New England. Many of the companies on these missions were first time exporters and more than one-half were from rural Nova Scotia. What did those missions accomplish? Record sales. Those missions generated $94 million in signed contracts and projected sales for Nova Scotia companies.

Mr. Speaker, $94 million is an impressive number but we need to consider what a number like that means to the provincial economy and for the people of Nova Scotia. The first thing it means is jobs. These new exports translate into 1,300 jobs for Nova Scotians. These jobs are injecting more money into our communities which gives a boost to local businesses. They are also generating new tax revenues for our schools and our health care system. Those new, export-generated jobs are adding $6 million in direct and indirect taxes to provincial coffers.

Let's round out the equation, Mr. Speaker. I have been talking about the returns from these missions, but what about the cost? The companies that travel on provincial trade missions pay their own way. We provide market intelligence and a matchmaking service. Our

[Page 5690]

staff lines up appointments with pre-qualified customers so our companies can get down to the serious business of making deals.

The direct cost to the taxpayer for those services was $579,000 last year, a little more than $0.5 million, Mr. Speaker, for 40 missions and $6 million in new taxes. The taxpayer got $12 back for every dollar we invested and the dividends from the new business relationships keep building year after year after year.

Forty missions, Mr. Speaker, and $94 million in export sales, 1,300 jobs. It is a record performance for the provincial government. It is a performance we are determined to beat in 1999 and we are already off to a good start. A couple of weeks ago we held our first export rally in Truro and that two-day event provided direct export preparation assistance to more than 100 companies, virtually all of which are based in rural Nova Scotia. The event was such a success we are already planning our next rally in Cape Breton.

About the same time, my department's office in New England was hosting the visit of half a dozen Nova Scotia companies to the Boston Seafood Market. This is an annual event. Nova Scotians have been going there for years. Some of us might shrug our shoulders and think this is no big deal. Well, there were lots of big deals this year. In the four days of that show those companies secured millions of dollars in projected sales.

Mr. Speaker, that just shows what Nova Scotia companies can do. It also shows why we are putting more emphasis than ever on New England. Last year we led 11 missions to the Boston States. We are doubling that this year. The Premier and 10 Nova Scotia companies will join their colleagues from the other Maritime Provinces on a joint mission to New England and we will be following up on last year's Boston Summit later this spring. We will help more Nova Scotia companies make more deals in our priority markets than ever before.

Mr. Speaker, export growth of 8.2 per cent is something to celebrate. Let's see if we can be here next year celebrating growth of 10 per cent. We will continue to do our part. In the meantime, I invite all members of the House to join me in congratulating Nova Scotia exporters and the dedicated government staff who support them for a very good year. Thank you very much. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour.

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker, for this opportunity to respond to the minister's statement. Again, I would thank the minister for delivering the content of the statement to me before today's sitting of the House. I am certainly pleased to see that there is an increase in export sales. After all, Nova Scotia is a Maritime Province with a long history of being traders, and development of export markets continues to be an important aspect of the development of this province's economy.

[Page 5691]

Trade missions continue to be the avenue of choice, Mr. Speaker, for the development of these markets. Questions are being asked and I would impress upon the minister that the need for follow-up to analyse the actual impact of these trade missions is important. Projected sales are not actual sales. Projected jobs are not real jobs, but they may be. I would point out that the continuing slide in the value of the Canadian dollar has certainly been something that has assisted in the growth of export sales. What role it plays as opposed to the role of trade missions is an important question. There is no question that this statement, like much of what the minister has been saying, is in defence of the spending of taxpayers' monies on trade missions. We know, despite what the minister says, that a significant investment of taxpayers' dollars are made every time a mission goes forward. The question is whether or not taxpayers are getting value for their money. That is something that we do not know.

[12:15 p.m.]

Therefore, I look forward to the minister tabling in this House his report from the Department of Economic Development so that we may know more fully, in fact, what effect the expenditures of taxpayers' monies in projects like trade missions actually have. Thank you.

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

MR. GORDON BALSER: Mr. Speaker, it gives me pleasure to rise today to congratulate the minister on his announcement. Economic development is very closely linked to developing our export markets. As was mentioned earlier, this province has for many years relied on growing a more lucrative market with New England and with our trading partners in Europe. These initiatives are necessary and they are the only way to ensure a stable economy for the future.

One of the areas of concern for me though is the fact that most of the growth in the export market is still very closely linked to our traditional resource-based industries, that is forestry and fishery. What we really need to do is to focus economic development on value-added products so that in fact, should there be a downturn in the fishery or a change in the pulp and paper market, we will be able to rebound and maintain those niche markets we have developed.

There is concern that while Stora is right now experiencing very stable growth that if something happens to the pulp and paper industry, the newsprint market, we will find a decline in that export market. The other thing is that Stora's history in this province has been one of positive growth and we hope that that continues. We need to ensure that those industries have the opportunity to go and search out markets.

[Page 5692]

As was mentioned, many of the companies involved in these initiatives are smaller companies located in rural Nova Scotia. So there is a role for government to play in ensuring that they are part of a marketing scheme that allows them to participate in any forays into new markets. One of the problems is that oftentimes announcements of potential markets and potential sales and potential job creation don't always translate into reality, and that is a risk.

We are a bit reluctant to give wholehearted blanket endorsement to this because oftentimes down the road we find out that the proof is in fact in the tasting of the pudding. While it is nice to think that this will continue to grow and prosper, there is that risk. We certainly do look forward to whatever positive markets are developed as a result of this initiative and the ones that have gone on. Thank you. (Applause)

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

RESOLUTION NO. 2708

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

Whereas the MLA for Digby-Annapolis, his Party's spokesperson on Economic Development, has criticized free trips to New England for representatives of large companies; and

Whereas many Nova Scotians share his concern at subsidies, freebies and hand-outs to large, profitable corporations when provincial finances seem so bare that benefits to injured workers are being cut again;

Therefore be it resolved that this House urges the government to heed the urging of an MLA who is keeping the Liberals in power and finally impose a moratorium on hand-outs to large corporations.

Mr. Speaker, I seek waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 5693]

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Kings West.

RESOLUTION NO. 2709

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

Whereas despite the ruling of an arbitrator that the Halifax casino owes the province millions of dollars in unpaid HST payments, ITT Sheraton continues to ride roughshod over the Minister of Finance and the Nova Scotia Gaming Corporation; and

Whereas in moving the deadline for construction of a permanent casino ahead, this Liberal Government let ITT Sheraton off the hook for millions of dollars in unpaid penalties; and

Whereas this is the same Liberal Government that hires collection agencies to hunt down single parents and Nova Scotians with a disability who owe small overpayments of family benefits;

Therefore be it resolved that the government, which likes to flex its muscle when it comes to the poor and not so powerful, stand up to ITT Sheraton by demanding it comply to the arbitrator's ruling on HST payments, and further that it immediately inform ITT Sheraton that they are required to pay every cent owing for any delays in completing the permanent casino.

MR. SPEAKER: That was a long notice of motion.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Economic Development.

RESOLUTION NO. 2710

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

Whereas Sydney area students are recognized as the best debaters in Nova Scotia and, indeed, in North America; and

[Page 5694]

Whereas this incontrovertible fact was demonstrated in the recent Junior High Provincial Debating Championship, with Sherwood Park Education Centre's team finishing second only to Malcolm Munroe in Cape Breton; and

Whereas the Sherwood Park team of Rory Gillis, Kevin MacDonald, Mark Brister, coached by Rhonda Moules, worked hard to successfully carry on the tradition of great Sydney area debaters as Mr. Gillis will be one of two Cape Bretoners on the Provincial Debating team;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this Assembly congratulate all those who participated in the Junior High Provincial Debating Championship, especially the great Sherwood Park Junior High Team of Mark Brister, Rory Gillis and Kevin MacDonald.

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.

That notice of motion was also too long.

The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

RESOLUTION NO. 2711

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 on Friday, April 23rd, Canada Book Day, Word on the Street will hold its 3rd annual fund-raising spelling bee; and

Whereas Word on the Street promotes, strengthens and maintains our book culture and literacy in general; and

Whereas literacy is strongly associated with economic life chances and opportunities;

[Page 5695]

Therefore be it resolved that this House wish Word on the Street and its spelling teams G-O-O-D L-U-C-K and lots of M-O-N-E-Y.

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. 2712

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

Whereas in 1994 the Ministerial Committee on the Release of Adoption Information recommended the government make it possible for adult adoptees and birth parents to obtain identifying information; and

Whereas more than five years later, this government has failed to act on the committee's recommendations and has instead struck yet another committee; and

Whereas this government's failure to move forward on the committee's recommendations has added to the frustrations of adult adoptees and birth parents seeking identifying information;

Therefore be it resolved that this Liberal Government changes its approach to adult adoptees and birth parents and respect their right to identifying information.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

[Page 5696]

The notice is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Finance.

RESOLUTION NO. 2713

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

Whereas the Nova Scotia School Athletic Federation held its Division 1 Girls Wrestling Championship in Hants East on April 10, 1999; and

Whereas Park View Education Centre represented the Western Region; and

Whereas the Division 1 Girls Wrestling Team from Park View Education Centre came away with the Provincial Championship;

Therefore be it resolved that this House express its sincere congratulations to Park View Panthers Division 1 Girls Wrestling Team for their championship season.

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 Cape Breton The Lakes.

RESOLUTION NO. 2714

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

Whereas on November 24, 1989, the Canadian House of Commons unanimously passed a resolution that seeks to achieve the goal of eliminating poverty among children by the year 2000; and

[Page 5697]

Whereas a number of Riverview Rural High School students have recognized the horrible fact that there are now 500,000 more children living in poverty in Canada than in 1989; and

Whereas these high school students have organized a conference, Students Taking on Poverty, STOP, for youth to begin their fight against child poverty;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate Amanda Cerpak, Nafay Choudhury, Scott Murchison, Sravai Prayaga and Aja Joshi for their initiative organizing this conference in Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board and wish them every success in their challenging endeavours.

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.

Yours was a little too long, too. I hope this is not the start of a new era.

The honourable member for Argyle.

RESOLUTION NO. 2715

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

Whereas there is an acute shortage of long-term care beds in Yarmouth County; and

Whereas this Liberal Government announced 170 new beds for the province last spring to be allocated in the fiscal year ended March 31, 1999; and

Whereas to date only 41 beds have been approved and none as yet for Yarmouth County;

[Page 5698]

Therefore be it resolved that the government move forward in addressing the needs of many Nova Scotians who need immediate attention and ensure that Yarmouth County receives fair consideration.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Justice.

RESOLUTION NO. 2716

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

Whereas Acadia University's Acadia Advantage program will become part of the permanent research collection on the history of information technology at the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of American History; and

Whereas the Director of this museum, Spencer Crew, called Acadia Advantage a technological and educational breakthrough; and

Whereas Acadia University was one of 470 nominees accepted from 22 nations and the only Canadian university accepted in the educational and academic category;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Acadia University and recognize that this Nova Scotia university is at the forefront of the technological age.

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

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.

[Page 5699]

RESOLUTION NO. 2717

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

Whereas Sackville is a dynamic community whose residents continue to benefit from the generosity of hundreds of volunteers; and

Whereas Lake District Recreation, itself a volunteer organization, will host the 20th Annual Volunteer Appreciation Night on April 19th; and

Whereas community organizations will each nominate and honour one of its own members for exemplary service to the organization and their community;

Therefore be it resolved that this House thank Lake District Recreation for again hosting the Volunteer Appreciation Night and extend congratulations to all who will be honoured during the evening's festivities.

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

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Kings West.

RESOLUTION NO. 2718

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

Whereas the Nova Scotia Gaming Foundation was established to receive, maintain and disburse funds for education, research, treatment and remediation of problem gambling; and

Whereas information received through a Freedom of Information request shows the Nova Scotia Gaming Foundation Fund has a surplus of over $2.5 million; and

[Page 5700]

Whereas Recovery House in Antigonish, which treats an increasing number of problem gamblers, is facing closure in the not-too-distant future because of a significant cut in its annual operating grant;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Health and the Eastern Regional Health Board re-examine their commitment to treatment programs for problem gamblers and immediately commit a portion of the funds from the Gaming Foundation to Recovery House.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Annapolis.

RESOLUTION NO. 2719

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

Whereas in just six days the Saskatchewan nursing strike has become a crisis situation; and

Whereas nurses now say they would rather resign than obey the NDP Government's back-to-work legislation; and

Whereas any resignations would make an unbearable nursing shortage even worse, while NDP policies have sabotaged any future recruitment of nurses in Saskatchewan;

Therefore be it resolved that this House call on the Saskatchewan Government to discontinue its NDP policies which are hostile to nurses and cause of much suffering in their health care system.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage.

RESOLUTION NO. 2720

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

Whereas Eileen Cassell is a long-time resident of Eastern Passage and was recognized as Citizen of the Year in 1998 by the Eastern Passage-Cow Bay Lions Club; and

[Page 5701]

Whereas Ms. Cassell has been actively involved in many organizations over the years, with her volunteer service being recognized in 1997 as the Volunteer of the Year for District 5 of the Halifax Regional Municipality; and

Whereas Ms. Cassell has recently retired as Treasurer of the Eastern Passage-Cow Bay Athletic Association after 10 years of service;

[12:30 p.m.]

Therefore be it resolved that the House of Assembly congratulate Eileen Cassell on her long and distinguished career as a volunteer in her community.

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 Cumberland South.

RESOLUTION NO. 2721

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

Whereas last week, the Minister of Justice refused to initiate a task force on home invasions; and

Whereas home invasions are a concern to all Nova Scotians, but are of particular concern to seniors; and

Whereas last week, the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture refused to comply with a resolution, passed unanimously in this House, to waiver the fee for seniors' fishing licenses;

Therefore be it resolved that the Liberal Government be condemned for its dismal record on acting on the issues that are significant to seniors in Nova Scotia.

[Page 5702]

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Nova.

RESOLUTION NO. 2722

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 health care system in Saskatchewan has been targeted by disastrous NDP policies, . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. MACEWAN: . . . including the closing of one-third of the hospitals in the province and now the bitter nurses strike; and

Whereas the NDP have turned up the heat by threatening nurses with hefty fines and even prison sentences for ignoring NDP back-to-work orders; and

Whereas health care in Saskatchewan deteriorated further yesterday when 230 clinic workers at the Saskatchewan Cancer Agency announced that they plan to strike against the NDP today;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House extend their sympathies to the families of Saskatchewan who are suffering as a result of the NDP.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Preston.

RESOLUTION NO. 2723

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

[Page 5703]

Whereas the RCMP Lake Echo Community Office has been serving the community of Lake Echo and district for almost two years in handling complaints of a minor nature; and

Whereas this office is staffed by volunteers who work hand in hand with the Citizens on Patrol, better known as COP, and have put in 1,321 hours in 1998 and dealt with over 100 complaints; and

Whereas the Citizens on Patrol have logged over 25,000 kilometres and 500 volunteer hours during the last 26 months and overall crime in Lake Echo and community area is down since the office and COP have been working together;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate this team of community volunteers for their ongoing efforts in working to improve the safety of the community.

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 Queens.

RESOLUTION NO. 2724

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

Whereas the alarming increases in both assessment rates and the number of appeals to those assessments in Cumberland County are cause for concern; and

Whereas the minister has informed the Progressive Conservative caucus that sales data has played a key role in determining assessment rates; and

Whereas when that information was requested, it was refused, forcing the Progressive Conservative caucus to go through the freedom of information process;

[Page 5704]

Therefore be it resolved that the minister immediately undertake a review of the process used to calculate assessment rates in Cumberland County and then make that review fully accessible to the public.

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 Minister of Finance.

RESOLUTION NO. 2725

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

Whereas the Nova Scotia School Athletic Federation's Division 1 Boys Basketball Championships were held at the Cobequid Education Centre in March; and

Whereas representing the Western Region were the Park View Panthers of the Park View Education Centre in Bridgewater; and

Whereas the Park View Panthers came from behind in the championship game to win the provincial title;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the Park View Education Centre's Division 1 Boys basketball team for their provincial championship this season.

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.

[Page 5705]

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Dartmouth South.

RESOLUTION NO. 2726

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

Whereas community theatre makes a significant contribution to the cultural life of Nova Scotia; and

Whereas the Dartmouth Players, the only community theatre in Dartmouth, have enriched the lives of residents of the area since their inception in 1956; and

Whereas the current Dartmouth Players production is enjoying great success;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the Dartmouth Players on their successes and wish them continued acclaim in the future.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

RESOLUTION NO. 2727

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

Whereas the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture and this Liberal Government have been told, time and time again, that residents in northern Nova Scotia are simply not interested in the development of a 528 hectare mussel farm on Tatamagouche Bay; and

[Page 5706]

Whereas despite having this message delivered to him loud and clear, the minister continues to drag his feet and refuses to tell the Dockendorff family from Prince Edward Island that their mussel farm application has been rejected; and

Whereas fishermen, residents, local developers, as well as cottage owners from across Nova Scotia, have signed a petition which was tabled in the Nova Scotia Legislature opposing this mega-proposal that would see Tatamagouche Bay monopolized;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture recognize the anxiety he is causing for so many people along the North Shore of Nova Scotia and move quickly to push the idea out of sight and out of mind.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Nova.

RESOLUTION NO. 2728

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 New Democratic Party in this House have railed against American-style health care, claiming that only the New Democratic Party can save us from this evil; and

Whereas yesterday, more than 85 patients were airlifted out of Saskatchewan, headed for hospitals in the hills of North Dakota and the badlands of Montana; and

Whereas during the bitter nurses' strike, the Saskatchewan New Democratic Party has turned its back on labour once again, demonstrating as never before its subservience to big business;

Therefore be it resolved that the action of forcing seriously ill Canadians to seek refuge in American hospitals is the pay-off for those who trusted the New Democratic Party railings against American-style health care.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Centre.

RESOLUTION NO. 2729

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

[Page 5707]

Whereas Cape Breton Regional Police are trying to make things a little easier to bear for children who are caught in traumatic situations; and

Whereas the New Waterford Lion's Club has collected teddy bears for the police department to use in working with children; and

Whereas the work of the Lion's Club and the community in this worthwhile cause is much appreciated;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House applaud the New Waterford Lion's Club, the Cape Breton Regional Police Department, and everyone in the community who contributed toward this effort to help children in trauma.

Mr. Speaker, I seek 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 Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party.

RESOLUTION NO. 2730

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 Trafalgar Road, Route 374, from Lorne to Sheet Harbour is an important commercial link between Pictou County and the Eastern Shore; and

Whereas the Trafalgar Road serves woods enthusiasts as an important access to Nova Scotia forest land; and

Whereas the Trafalgar Road, in particular the Pictou County end, is crumbling and has deep craters which make the road extremely dangerous to drive after dark;

[Page 5708]

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Transportation arrange to have emergency repairs done on this route before a severe, after-dark accident occurs and prioritize the northern end of the route for repaving this summer.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Annapolis.

RESOLUTION NO. 2731

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

Whereas Bronwyn Dena Cox, a Grade 12 student at Middleton Regional High School, has been selected as a finalist for the Wendy's Classic Achiever High School Award; and

Whereas Bronwyn was chosen as one of 12 finalists from a field of over 290 students from Atlantic Canada; and

Whereas as a finalist she receives a $1,000 scholarship, plus $1,000 for her school, with the possibility of winning the grand prize scholarship worth $6,000;

Therefore be it resolved that this House extend congratulations to Bronwyn on being selected as finalist for such a prestigious award which recognizes academic achievement, school spirit, involvement in extra-curricular activities and community volunteer work.

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 Yarmouth.

[Page 5709]

RESOLUTION NO. 2732

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

Whereas this past weekend the Eastern Canadian Fisheries Exposition was held at the Yarmouth Exhibition; and

Whereas this trade show was one of the largest in Atlantic Canada; and

Whereas exhibitors were from as far away as New Brunswick, P.E.I., Quebec, Ontario and the United States;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate Master Promotions Ltd. and the Yarmouth County Agriculture Society for putting on the show.

Mr. Speaker, I am requesting 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 East.

RESOLUTION NO. 2733

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

Whereas celebrated every April 22nd, Earth Day is the largest, most commemorated environmental event worldwide; and

Whereas Earth Day provides the unique opportunity for positive actions and results on environmental issues that affect us all; and

Whereas Earth Day falls in the middle of the week-long celebrations of Earth Week which will run from April 17th through to April 25th;

[Page 5710]

Therefore be it resolved that all members of the House recognize the significance of International Earth Days and applaud the hard work of those who have donated their time and energy into promoting this important day.

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 Inverness.

RESOLUTION NO. 2734

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

Whereas on March 17, 1999, St. Patrick's Day in North East Margaree, a 100-year-old bell rang out for the first time in many years; and

Whereas the bell of St. Patrick's Church was first heard 100 years ago in the Margaree Valley; and

Whereas this special anniversary was celebrated with three local parishioners - Austin McDaniel, Archie Murphy and John Murphy - ringing the bell;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate all the parishioners and neighbours of St. Patrick's Church on the anniversary of their bell and extend good luck for its 200th Anniversary in 2099.

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

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

[Page 5711]

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect.

RESOLUTION NO. 2735

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

Whereas recreation and leisure services are increasingly becoming more important in our communities; and

Whereas the growing communities of the western part of the Halifax Regional Municipality are served by the staff operating from the Beechville-Lakeside-Timberlea Recreation Centre in Lakeside; and

Whereas this staff, under the leadership of Doug Branscombe, daily provide quality service to these growing communities and their many needs;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the BLT Recreation Centre staff for their excellent work and wish them the best of luck in their future endeavours.

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 Digby-Annapolis.

RESOLUTION NO. 2736

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

[Page 5712]

Whereas each and every day across this province countless volunteers give unselfishly of their time and energy so as to help improve the lives and opportunities of all Nova Scotians; and

Whereas volunteers do this not for reward or recognition, but from a genuine desire to enrich the quality of life in their communities; and

Whereas the week of April 18th to April 24th is set aside to recognize and honour the efforts of volunteers;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House extend a thank you to the thousands of Nova Scotian volunteers for their tireless efforts in fostering the spirit of voluntarism.

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 Inverness.

RESOLUTION NO. 2737

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

Whereas yesterday in Saskatchewan, the NDP Health Minister promised to address the concerns of striking nurses if only they would return to work; and

Whereas this too-little-too-late attitude comes at the same time the NDP Government is condemning nurses on TV and radio commercials for rejecting their contract offer; and

Whereas the NDP have proven they cannot handle this very serious labour situation in which hundreds of lives are at stake;

[Page 5713]

[12:45 p.m.]

Therefore be it resolved that since the Nova Scotia NDP have promised to model this province after Saskatchewan, then the Leader of the Opposition should tell this House how he would solve the nursing crisis in his beloved Saskatchewan.

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

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

RESOLUTION NO. 2738

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 whole point of licensing homes for special care is to ensure that the health and safety of residents is paramount; and

Whereas in operating a home for special care there are many important considerations such as whether or not medications are controlled by a registered nurse, whether staff/patient ratios are adequate and whether fire prevention measures meet national codes; and

Whereas in debate on April 7th the member for Truro-Bible Hill indicated clearly that his Party would not support modern standards of care;

Therefore be it resolved that this House acknowledge that it is the responsibility of all members to legislate and to insist on enforcement of standards of care in all homes for special care.

Mr. Speaker, I seek waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 5714]

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Truro-Bible Hill.

RESOLUTION NO. 2739

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

Whereas the Metro Food Bank Society provides essential services to an estimated 15,000 people every month; and

Whereas donations to the Metro Food Bank are needed to offset an increasing demand and short supply of food; and

Whereas the Metro Food Bank Society has launched an appeal for donations due to a low spring inventory;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House extend a thank you to those at the Metro Food Bank Society for their continued efforts to create awareness and provide services to those Nova Scotians in need.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.

RESOLUTION NO. 2740

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

Whereas April 12th was observed as Holocaust Memorial Day; and

[Page 5715]

Whereas a moving ceremony took place at the Shaar Shalom Synagogue in Halifax; and

Whereas Nova Scotia is home to a small and dwindling number of survivors of the Holocaust;

Therefore be it resolved that this House remember with sorrow the events of the Holocaust.

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.

The honourable member for Lunenburg.

RESOLUTION NO. 2741

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

Whereas the Lunenburg Falcons Midget Hockey team won the 1998-99 Provincial Midget "B" Hockey title on the weekend of March 19, 1999; and

Whereas the Lunenburg Falcons defeated the spirited Thorburn Golden Hawks in a hard-fought contest by a 4 to 3 score in the championship game; and

Whereas the team's success would not have been possible without the efforts of coach Billie Boudreau, assistant coaches Wade Wilkie and Dave Kelly, manager Robert Barss, and the parents;

Therefore be it resolved that the House of Assembly congratulate the Lunenburg Falcons and their supporters on winning the Nova Scotia Midget "B" championship.

Mr. Speaker, I seek waiver and passage without debate.

[Page 5716]

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. 2742

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

Whereas Peter C. Aucoin, McCulloch professor in political science and professor of public administration at Dalhousie University, will be the 1999 recipient of the Lieutenant Governor's Medal of Excellence in Public Administration; and

Whereas Dr. Aucoin is recognized as one of Canada's most accomplished scholars in the field of public administration; and

Whereas Dr. Aucoin is also recognized for his expertise as a consultant and advisor to governments and universities;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House acknowledge Dr. Aucoin's contribution and congratulate him on this well-deserved honour.

Mr. Speaker, I do 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.

[Page 5717]

RESOLUTION NO. 2743

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

Whereas Plymouth School officially celebrated the completion of the addition to the school on Monday, April 12th of this week; and

Whereas the $2.7 million project includes a new elementary gymnasium equipped with a stage, music and live arts room, library, resource and projects room, technology upgrading, and a primary classroom; and

Whereas the project also includes the much required rehabilitation of the existing school which was in a deplorable condition;

Therefore be it resolved that the House congratulate all those involved in making this day possible so that the students, the staff and the community of Plymouth will finally be able to have access to state-of-the-art school facilities.

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

RESOLUTION NO. 2744

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 Canada Winter Games, held in Corner Brook, Newfoundland, this winter past, demanded the best of both athletes and coaches; and

[Page 5718]

Whereas Ian Meadows of Enfield made the games in Corner Brook his eighth in a row as weightlifting coach, bringing home medals every time; and

Whereas Mr. Meadows' weightlifting teams have brought home 25 medals to Nova Scotia, one-third of which were gold;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate all of the Nova Scotian participants in the Corner Brook Winter Games for a job well done, especially coach Ian Meadows of Enfield.

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 Cumberland South.

RESOLUTION NO. 2745

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

Whereas Cumberland County continues to face the critical situation of the shortage of physicians; and

Whereas many patients are waiting months for an appointment to see a doctor; and

Whereas too many families are without a doctor to call their own;

Therefore be it resolved that this Liberal Government take seriously the concerns of the residents of Cumberland South and immediately address the shortage of physicians in this area.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver of notice.

[Page 5719]

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. 2746

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

Whereas Pictou West has many secondary paved roads in need of immediate repair, including White Hill Road, Mill Brook Road, Highway No. 289, Granton Road, Greenhill Road and Westville Road; and

Whereas Stillman Road, Old Trunk No. 4 at Mount Thom, Scotch Hill Road, Salem Loop, Old Post Road and the River John Road are also in very poor shape; and

Whereas the West Branch Road, Cape John Road, the Sylvester Highway, the Harris Road and the Sunrise Trail are all in need or repair;

Therefore be it resolved that this government, through the Department of Transportation and Public Works, immediately undertake a program of repair and repaving of secondary roads in Pictou West.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, he failed to mention roads in Hants West. He could have indicated the (Interruption) Yes.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

[Page 5720]

RESOLUTION NO. 2747

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

Whereas the Don Fisher Construction Cruise Missiles playing out of the Don Henderson Sportsplex in Brookfield recently captured their fourth consecutive league championship; and

Whereas besides the Cruise Missiles, five other teams representing Blenkhorn's Auto Recycling, Tim Hortons Mounties; Pro Cresting, Vance Hanes Auto and the Musquodoboit Valley Elms completed for this coveted hockey championship; and

Whereas the Colchester Oldtimers Hockey League is considered one of the premier recreational leagues in Nova Scotia combining clean competition and athleticism;

Therefore be it resolved that members of the Nova Scotia Legislature commend the Don Fisher Construction Cruise Missiles and the Colchester Oldtimers Hockey League on another great season.

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

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable for Halifax Fairview.

RESOLUTION NO. 2748

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 the annual Halifax West High School Model Parliament opens on April 15, 1999; and

[Page 5721]

Whereas the students who participate in any role will learn from their experience how our parliamentary system works; and

Whereas the students and staff have worked hard to prepare for this day;

Therefore be it resolved that this House commend the students and staff for their hard work and wish them a productive and entertaining parliamentary session.

Mr. Speaker, I seek 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 East.

RESOLUTION NO. 2749

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

Whereas 1999 marks the 50th Anniversary of the Eureka Fire Department in Pictou County; and

Whereas the department is holding their golden anniversary celebrations at the fire hall on Saturday, May 1, 1999; and

Whereas the Eureka Fire Department presently has 26 members on their roster available to respond to an alarm at any given time of the day or night;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of the Legislature recognize the dedication and effort put forth by the Eureka Volunteer Fire Department in providing fire and rescue protection to approximately 700 households in their coverage area and wish them every success in the future.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver.

[Page 5722]

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton The Lakes.

RESOLUTION NO. 2750

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

Whereas a Cape Breton firm, the Fitzgerald Studio, has produced award-winning CD-ROMs on Fortress Louisbourg and Alexander Graham Bell; and

Whereas Fitzgerald Studio has proven its skilled production and marketing ability; and

Whereas this small business has successfully produced and marketed, A Fur Trade Odyssey, for Old Fort William in Thunder Bay, a CD-ROM that will be used in 19,000 Canadian schools and 12,000 schools in the U.S. border states;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate Fitzgerald Studio and wish them well as they generate information technology business outside the region.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Hants East.

[Page 5723]

RESOLUTION NO. 2751

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 Provincial Wrestling Tournament was held at Hants East Rural High School on the weekend; and

Whereas Hants East teacher Rob Barrett has shown his commitment not only to the sport but to the teaching profession as well; and

Whereas these events require a sincere, coordinated effort to bring them off successfully;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate Rob Barrett and the athletes for organizing a successful competition.

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 time is now 12:57 p.m., Oral Question Period will go for one hour which will take it until 1:58 p.m.

ORDERS OF THE DAY

ORAL QUESTION PUT BY MEMBERS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

COMMUN. SERV. - ABUSE ALLEGATIONS (CESAR LALO):

EMPLOYEE RECORDS - COVER-UP PREVENTION

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I want to direct my question through you to the Minister of Community Services. On the news this morning, Nova Scotians learned that

[Page 5724]

the Department of Community Services cut a deal with Cesar Lalo, a man who at the time was suspected of child abuse. The deal was that they would give him a good reference and would clean up his personnel file. This was after the RCMP and internal departmental investigations had been conducted.

My question to the minister, Mr. Speaker, I ask her what this government has done to make sure that this kind of cover-up, this kind of purifying of employee records cannot happen again?

HON. FRANCENE COSMAN: Mr. Speaker, the honourable Leader of the Opposition raises some very serious questions here. Obviously, the events that took place in 1989 are events that I don't think any of us in this House or in this province would ever want to see repeated again. A series of events have taken place since then, a series of protocols have been put in place, a series of policies have been put in place. There are safeguards in place that would treat this kind of an issue very differently from how it was treated in 1989.

MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, my first supplementary to the minister. The trust of children in government's care is sacred, yet a man suspected and, indeed, investigated on the abuse of a mentally disabled foster child was given a letter of reference by the Community Services Department. I want to ask the minister - and I do so, so that we can ensure that this will never happen again - would she explain why the Department of Community Services at the time did not advise potential employers that Lalo should not work with children? (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MRS. COSMAN: Mr. Speaker, I think it is very important to reassure Nova Scotians, and particularly the vulnerable children who are in our care, that what took place in 1989 is not going to take place evermore in this province from 1999 onward. It is not going to take place from these safeguards that we have built into the Act in 1991. We have a different system in place. I want to reassure Nova Scotians, it is a system that is working.

[1:00 p.m.]

MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, in order for the people of Nova Scotia to have some faith that changes have happened, they need to understand, they need to have some answers about why things took place in the past. That is why I want to ask my final supplementary to the minister. Will she explain on whose authority was a personnel file for Cesar Lalo cleared, in fact changed, to give him positive marks in all categories? On whose authority was this done?

[Page 5725]

MRS. COSMAN: Mr. Speaker, I think it is obvious that the members would appreciate that in 1989, I was not here. I cannot comment on a case that is before the courts, the individual that is being named is currently before the courts. I just want to reassure Nova Scotians and the children in this province who are in our care that we are doing things very differently and we are doing things with a higher degree of sensitivity, with protocols in place, and with independent investigation.

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

HEALTH - SENIORS: SURGERY DELAY - CONSEQUENCES

MR. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health. Minister, and I will call upon your expertise as a medical practitioner at the same time, will you confirm to the members of this House that the morbidity and mortality rates for seniors increases dramatically if surgery for broken hips is not performed in a period 24 to 36 hours after the break?

HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I am not sure if the question is in order, that he has called on my medical expertise, but I will answer it as a legislator as well as I can. There is a period of time that is optimum with any procedure, and that is a generally accepted professional opinion.

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I will table this for the House's information. There is an article in today's Truro Daily News which tells about a Truro senior who had to wait 60 hours, or two and one-half days, after breaking a hip to have surgery. Would the minister be prepared to indicate today, or will the minister indicate today if such a delay for essential surgery is acceptable to his department?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I am not familiar with the episode or the case that the member brings forward today. I don't know the circumstances surrounding that and why that may have been so. It may have been necessary for the medical condition of the person. It may have been the absence or an illness of the physician, or there could be a host of things. If he wants to provide the data, table the data or share it with me, I will get a response. There are delays, there have been delays and there will be delays in those procedures.

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, again to the Minister of Health. In that particular article, a Truro surgeon is quoted as saying, "'The family has a right to be angry, . . . These delays are not acceptable.'". I could say to the minister, unfortunately the person who was involved in that, the principal, unfortunately did pass on. What is the minister's department doing to ensure that essential surgical procedures are done in a timely fashion in Nova Scotia hospitals, and in particular the Colchester Regional Hospital?

[Page 5726]

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, the whole regionalized system of health care moving more and more procedures into regional hospitals, the recruitment of physicians, over 50 last year in Nova Scotia, allocation of specialty needs, and freeing up of operating room time and better administration. These are just a few of the things that we are highlighting within the Department of Health.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

COMMUN. SERV. - ABUSE ALLEGATIONS (CESAR LALO):

COVER-UP - INVESTIGATE

MR. JERRY PYE: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Community Services. Recent media stories about Cesar Lalo's case alleges that senior officials in the minister's department knew about the abuse . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. PYE: . . . he inflicted upon young boys in his care . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Can I interrupt the honourable member for a moment. I was not aware that this case was before the courts. I would like to determine if that is actually so. (Interruptions) It is so. (Interruptions) It is not before the courts. (Interruptions) You may.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, if I may, in order to clarify. There are over 30 separate charges, court cases, against this individual. What we are talking about here today is as a result of a news report about what happened in the Department of Community Services back in 1989 . . .

MR. SPEAKER: I am familiar with the news report. What I want to know is, is this matter before the courts at the present time? (Interruptions)

MR. CHISHOLM: This has nothing to do with the criminal charges against Mr. Lalo right now.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I am at a loss because I do not know whether this matter is before the courts. If it is before the courts, the questions are out of order. If it is not before the courts, then (Interruption) Very well. We will add an extra two minutes to the Question Period because of my ignorance on this particular matter.

The honourable Minister of Community Services.

[Page 5727]

HON. FRANCENE COSMAN: To respond, the case regarding Cesar Lalo is before the courts. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member will put his question.

MR. PYE: Mr. Speaker, once again my question is to the Minister of Community Services. Recent media stories about Cesar Lalo's case alleges that senior officials in the minister's department knew about the abuse he inflicted on young boys in his care. My question to the Minister of Community Services, would the minister outline what kind of investigation is under way now with the allegations that her department has covered up the evidence that they allowed a sexual predator to work with vulnerable children . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I believe that that question is out of order. The honourable member may put his question with regard to matters within Community Services that may reflect upon this case but not positively referring to this case. Does that make sense to the honourable member?

MR. PYE: Mr. Speaker, I will rephrase the question. My question to the minister is, would the minister outline what kind of investigation is under way now?

HON. FRANCENE COSMAN: Mr. Speaker, perhaps the honourable member would clarify investigation about what?

MR. PYE: Mr. Speaker, my first supplementary. I would like to ask the minister, when did the concerns about Mr. Lalo first come to the attention of the Office of the Minister of Community Services?

MR. SPEAKER: That question is acceptable.

MRS. COSMAN: As I understand it, the concerns around the former employee in question came to the concerns of the Department of Community Services in the 1980's.

MR. PYE: Once again to the Minister of Community Services. Both the Minister of Justice and the Minister of Community Services say that steps have been taken to make sure that this will not happen again. Would the minister now table the protocols, the systems and the procedures which she says are now in a much different process, 1999?

MRS. COSMAN: Yes, Mr. Speaker.

[Page 5728]

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

JUSTICE - ABUSE ALLEGATIONS (CESAR LALO):

PROTOCOL REVIEW - MEETINGS (NSGEU)

MR. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, to the Minister of Justice. This refers, Mr. Minister, to that clip about the case in Community Services that ran on CBC this morning. The former Minister of Community Services, Dr. Smith, indicated the government's protocol for allegations of abuse would be reviewed with the NSGEU. Did these meetings with the NSGEU ever take place?

HON. ROBERT HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, in the interest of responding to the last speaker's question and in responding to this one, I am prepared to table, dated August 26, 1996, the allegations of abuse protocols that exist within the Department of Justice. These protocols, indeed, are being worked on continually; in fact professional development staff members have been working on them as late as in the last few months. So there is an attempt to update the protocols and I would be pleased to table this document.

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, because he did not answer my question, I guess I will ask a different one. Where did this revised protocol come from?

MR. HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, when the matters came before the courts in the late 1980's and early 1990's, there was a transfer of responsibility for certain aspects of the correctional system from the Department of Community Services to the Department of Justice. At that time, an alternate dispute resolution process began for compensation. Judge Stratton's report was commissioned and also there was another study done at that time, an internal audit of all government abuse protocols. Those revisions began in earnest then; I am not suggesting for a moment there were not protocols before then, but they began in ernest at that time.

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, in the development of this protocol, was the NSGEU consulted as promised by the former Minister of Community Services?

MR. HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, I can only assume that with respect to collective bargaining on all fronts, in society as we become more aware of issues related to abuse, that issues related to contracts are part of it. So I can only assume that in the ongoing discussions with NSGEU officials, that these kinds of protocols are discussed regularly.

[Page 5729]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

COMMUN. SERV. - ABUSE ALLEGATIONS (CESAR LALO):

EMPLOYEE RECORDS - FALSIFICATION AUTHORITY

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I want to return to the Minister of Community Services, and let me preface my question by saying that I understand that she was not the minister in 1989, but she is the minister responsible for that department and it is their actions and activities in 1989 that we want some answers to. I want to ask the minister, will she, in fact, advise members of this department who it was that gave authority to falsify this employee's records?

HON. FRANCENE COSMAN: Mr. Speaker, I have no information about somebody falsifying records. I am afraid I cannot answer this question posed on some event that happened in 1989.

MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I would be happy to table Judge Stratton's report dated June 30, 1995, where he did an investigation and clearly outlined that, in fact, this is the deal that was cut by the Department of Community Services. I want to ask the minister my first supplementary. What we are trying to do is get to the bottom of what happened in order to be able to prevent it happening again . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

MR. CHISHOLM: I want to ask the minister if she would advise what investigation is taking place now to clarify the allegations that have been made that senior officials in her department allowed a very serious perpetrator to continue . . .

MRS. COSMAN: Mr. Speaker, I want to go back to the word "falsified" that the honourable Leader of the Opposition used in his first question and my reply was to that use of the word, falsified records. I think that Judge Stratton's response is very clear, that he makes certain statements, but he never suggests that somebody falsified a record. I think that if the honourable member opposite plans to quote from a report, he has to quote it accurately as it is stated. There is no sense that the judge made a judgement that somebody falsified a record.

MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, it is no wonder that Nova Scotians have no confidence in this government and, when it comes to the whole question of the sacred trust of children in their custody, this government does not deserve that trust.

MR. SPEAKER: Your question, please.

[Page 5730]

MR. CHISHOLM: I want to ask the minister my final supplementary. Will she explain to this House why it was that a deal was cut by her department in 1989 to allow Cesar Lalo to continue to work within the Civil Service?

MRS. COSMAN: Mr. Speaker, I think it is clear that the subject around Cesar Lalo was clearly investigated. It was the subject of Judge Stratton's report. I cannot comment on actions taken in 1989, I can only try to reassure people in this province and the honourable interrupting member opposite that there is a process in place now to deal with these issues, and it is a tremendously more effective process than existed a decade ago.

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

HEALTH - OSTEOPOROSIS: TESTING - WAITING TIMES

DR. JOHN HAMM: A question for the Minister of Health. The Minister of Health is aware that we have the worst program for treating osteoporosis in this country. I have a letter here that I will table. It is a letter from a lady whose doctor told her that she should have a bone density test. The doctor told her the waiting period is 9 to 12 months, the longest waiting time anywhere in North America. The minister knows that we have the longest waiting time in Canada, does the minister also know that we have the longest waiting time in North America to get a bone density test?

HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I do not really believe that for a minute, what he is saying. That is not true and he knows that, so he is making statements here that he just does not have proof of, but the whole issue of bone densitometry, even though we have mobile units, we are going to have mobile units, we have machines in the central region - and in the Lunenburg region - and it is still questionable how effective that test is - but I will tell you, we have spent an extra $1 million last year as results of tests on medications for people with osteoporosis.

DR. HAMM: The minister is aware that what I have said is true. Will the minister confirm that he has a report in his department, over one year old, from a working committee on osteoporosis that recommends that this minister purchase five more bone densitometers for the Province of Nova Scotia?

[1:15 p.m.]

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I suppose if I looked hard enough I would find reports that suggest that I buy the Brooklyn Bridge but that doesn't mean that you are going to go out and do it the next day. We are moving. We are decentralizing the densitometry. As I say, there are physicians that have real concerns about this. We have senior department officials that have real concerns about the effectiveness. We have priorities in this province and that is just one of them but it may not be the number one.

[Page 5731]

DR. HAMM: Mr. Speaker, I am surprised the minister wants to trivialize what is a very important issue in this province, the adequate treatment of osteoporosis. Will this minister confirm that today the Province of Nova Scotia has two bone densitometers to do this test and right next door the Province of New Brunswick, with fewer people, has five? Will the minister confirm that?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I cannot confirm that the Province of New Brunswick has five but I read a report concerning some of the other deficiencies within that province. There are strengths and weaknesses in all provinces. We have a plan. We have made announcements regarding densitometry in Fishermen's Memorial in Lunenburg, we will have mobile units available.

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

HUMAN RIGHTS COMM'N. - PROTOCOL POSITIONS

(DON ROCHFORD): SETTLEMENT - DISCLOSE

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: My question through you, Mr. Speaker, is to the Minister of Justice. Last Friday afternoon, the government announced that it had settled the Human Rights complaint of Don Rochford, who had been passed over for two Protocol jobs because he wasn't a Liberal. Now, the complaint has been settled but the government wants the terms of settlement to be confidential.

My question to the minister, Mr. Speaker is, why did the government want to keep the terms of the settlement secret?

HON. ROBERT HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, as the Minister responsible for the Human Rights Commission, as we have talked about many times in this House, the important work of the commission and the work that the commission is bent on performing more effectively is that of settling issues with both parties in agreement. In this case, we have a mutually binding agreement, the subject of which is confidentiality.

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, the last time that complaints like this were settled in December 1997, the terms were made fully public. I believe the public has a right to know the financial and policy implications of this settlement. My question to the Minister of Justice is why has the Minister of Justice asked for a secret settlement this time?

MR. HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Justice is respecting the work of the Human Rights Commission. At this point both parties to the agreement have asked that the matter be kept confidential. I am going to respect that until I hear otherwise from those parties.

[Page 5732]

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, there is obviously a public interest in knowing the terms of the settlement because it involves both political ethics and public concerns. So, my question to the minister is, will he agree, right here and right now, to release Mr. Rochford from the obligation of secrecy that has been imposed on him by the government?

MR. HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, we fully intend to approach Mr. Rochford to ask whether or not he would be prepared to reveal the matter before the Human Rights Commission, but let me remind the member opposite that what I am attempting to do as the Minister responsible for the Human Rights Act is to respect the agreement that both parties have entered into. If, in fact, one or both of the parties to the agreement are prepared to release the information, that would be, I believe, not only in the interest of the people but in the interest of this government.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Citadel.

BUS. & CONS. SERV. - EMPIRE/OSHAWA GROUP MERGER:

RESTAURANTS - EFFECT

MR. PETER DELEFES: Mr. Speaker, we now know that this government has chosen Sobeys' side in its takeover of the Oshawa Group but we don't know why. The Canadian Food Service Industry says the takeover threatens the livelihood of 4,700 restaurant operators and 56,000 restaurant employees in Atlantic Canada. My question to the Deputy Premier, why has this government chosen to support a plan that impacts the livelihoods of more than 60,000 people?

HON. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, clearly as was indicated in the House last week, the Premier indicated that this is a Nova Scotia firm competing against giants in central Canada and he wanted to make sure that they were treated fairly and justly in the process.

MR. DELEFES: Mr. Speaker, the Nova Scotia Restaurant and Food Services Association says the Premier wrote his letter in support of the Sobeys' takeover without knowing all the facts. My question to the Deputy Premier, what research did your government do to ensure it knew what it was doing before writing in support of this merger?

MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, with regard to research, one only has to take a look at the multinational corporations that a local company is dealing with and local companies competing against, the local company is trying to deal with, what the Premier was clearly doing was trying to stand up and fight for the benefits of Nova Scotia on a national level.

MR. DELEFES: Mr. Speaker, again for the Deputy Premier. The Premier confessed in this House that he knew little about the merger, yet his letter goes into great detail. What assurances can the Deputy Premier give that this letter was written by the Premier without input from Sobeys?

[Page 5733]

MR. DOWNE: This particular Party, whether it is Michelin or any other corporation in the Province of Nova Scotia, all they want to do is chastise and criticize and kick out. They are a government of no economic opportunity in Nova Scotia, and they will not fight for Nova Scotians.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings West.

HEALTH - ATTENDANT CARE: PILOT PROG. - UPDATE

MR. GEORGE MOODY: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health. The Minister of Health is aware of self-managed attendant services. I think the pilot was started in 1994, had been funded by the Department of Health and had been successful as far as I know and I have heard a lot of good things about it. I would ask the minister if he could give me an update of that program at the present time?

HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member is correct. The program started around 1994. It was centred in the metro community here. There has been an attempt to move it outside of the metro community in conjunction with Home Care Nova Scotia. That is the status at this time. In the last year, we spent mainly within home care addressing the waiting lists as a priority and trying to stabilize the infrastructure of home care along with attendant care. We look forward to expanding this program in the times ahead.

MR. MOODY: Mr. Speaker, my supplementary to the minister. Would the minister confirm, in the pilot - and obviously you do the pilot to do the study - that they are providing high-quality services at reasonable costs, in other words, they are getting high-quality service and the cost is not going up, that there is actually some savings? Would the minister confirm that from the study?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I think there is no question that it is financially cost- effective, but the important thing is it is good quality care and it is on the road to independence for those people. I think the independent living aspect is one that is hard to measure. I would agree with the member that it is cost-effective in financial and in human terms.

MR. MOODY: Mr. Speaker, my final supplementary. The minister wrote to the executive director, I think, of the Metro Resource Centre for Independent Living back a year or two ago indicating support for this program. We have been able to put a man on the moon in a very short period of time, I am asking the minister, when can those people look forward to the government developing a program that will be province-wide, never mind the promise, when is the time-frame?

[Page 5734]

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I think this is a really important program. It is one while it was in Community Services I supported as I do in Health. As I say, we are trying to stabilize under Home Care Nova Scotia, our budget issue is there. We will move forward. I cannot make a commitment on the date. But he is right, there hasn't been as much progress as one might like to have, but I think you have to have the support services in place. These are individuals with special needs and I think it presents a special set of problems.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour.

ECON. DEV. & TOURISM - SOBEYS:

HQ (N.S.) RETENTION - ASSISTANCE

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, Sobeys says that it is evaluating various funding options from the Nova Scotia Government to keep its head office and other operations here in Nova Scotia, however, the Premier says this isn't true. My question is to the Minister of Economic Development and Tourism. Why has he kept the Premier and all Nova Scotians in the dark about the planned corporate welfare to Sobeys?

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the honourable gentleman opposite for the question and tell him that to preserve the jobs of 6,000 Nova Scotians is not corporate welfare.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, Sobeys has said its head office is not moving. Why is this government getting into a bidding war with Ontario when Sobeys has said its head office is not going anywhere?

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, to date Sobeys officials have been talking with the investment and trade people from our department. They are making our department aware of what their corporate restructuring is. At this point in time, the Government of Nova Scotia has put no incentives on the table to Sobeys.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, my question to the Minister of Economic Development is, how much has he offered Sobeys in this phony bidding war with Ontario?

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, obviously the member is hard of hearing. I just finished saying that as of this date, there have been no incentives made available to Sobeys from this government. Obviously he is presupposing what may happen in terms of discussions between Sobeys officials and officials of this government. Sobeys has given us the courtesy of coming to our department to tell us about their corporate restructuring. We hope that Sobeys elects to maintain its headquarters in Stellarton and provide jobs here in Nova Scotia.

[Page 5735]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings North.

AGRIC.: BUDGET (1999-2000) - INCREASE

MR. GEORGE ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is to the Minister of Agriculture. In conversations with farmers over the weekend, farmers are indicating to me that they are very concerned about the budget process that is going on. For the last several years the government has reduced the Agriculture budget and the program spending. I am wondering what assurances the Minister of Agriculture could give that this year's budget will not adversely affect the agricultural industry.

HON. EDWARD LORRAINE: Mr. Speaker, the member is well aware, as a former Minister of Agriculture, that we are in the budget process, we are dealing with it and we will have an answer when that budget is tabled in the House.

MR. ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, through you to the minister, could the minister indicate what assurances the farmers can have that there will be an increase in the Agriculture budget this year?

MR. LORRAINE: Mr. Speaker, as I just said, we are in the budgetary process right now. I cannot give assurances nor would I give assurances until we know exactly what our budget is.

MR. ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, my question is through you to the Minister of Finance. The Minister of Finance, with his agricultural background, realizes the importance of agriculture. I am wondering if this Minister of Finance will indicate that his government will stop taking money out of Agriculture this year in his budget. Will he assure Nova Scotia farmers that he will increase the Agriculture budget this year?

HON. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, the budgetary process is under way and we will be happy to be able to present that budget to the Legislative Assembly in due time. Thank you very much.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Fairview. (Interruptions)

Order, please. I cannot hear.

EDUC. - P3 SCHOOLS: LEASES - SECRECY

MS. EILEEN O'CONNELL: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Education. The province and the HRM School Board refuse to release the latest O'Connell Drive management lease. The province, which has a member on the management committee at Horton High, has agreed to allow the Horton meetings to be kept secret. My question to

[Page 5736]

the minister is, why is the government going to such lengths to keep the management of P3 schools a secret?

HON. WAYNE GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the honourable member for providing me with this opportunity. I am very pleased to report that this government is committed to provide much-needed schools to students across the province, not just to NDP ridings. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, I can assure the honourable member across the floor that in this whole process we have nothing to hide and, again, I indicated to the honourable member last week that I would have some information ready for her. Before I take my seat, I just want to indicate to the honourable member that tomorrow I will be tabling the information that I have promised that member.

[1:30 p.m.]

MS. O'CONNELL: Mr. Speaker, oh, spare me. We are still waiting for the answer to the question, who owns Horton High School, which was supposed to be tabled last week, several times. The minutes of all Horton High School management committee meetings are given to the province through the representative on the committee. So my question is, if the minister is feeling so generous as he is actually going to table something, will the minister table in this House the minutes from those meetings which include a summary of all significant documents?

MR. GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, as I have indicated to the honourable member, as I promised earlier, a few days ago, this information that she has been requesting will be tabled in this House tomorrow. At the same time, the question . . .

MS. O'CONNELL: Tomorrow?

MR. GAUDET: About Horton High School.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. GAUDET: The question that she is raising today, Mr. Speaker, I will take that under advisement and I will get back to her personally on this matter.

MS. O'CONNELL: Mr. Speaker, would the minister then confirm for this House and for all Nova Scotians that P3 stands for, protect from the prying public?

[Page 5737]

MR. GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, I cannot really understand. We have seen the B.C. NDP way of delivering schools. The B.C. NDP, basically, they just keep digging the hole much deeper. (Interruptions) I can assure you . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

The honourable member for Cumberland South.

EDUC. - SCHOOLS (RURAL): FUNDING FORMULA - FAIRNESS

MR. MURRAY SCOTT: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Education and Culture. Can the minister explain how the present provincial funding formula is fair to small, rural schools across Nova Scotia who are struggling to survive under this present system?

HON. WAYNE GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the honourable member for raising that question. As all members of this House understand, there is presently an educational funding review work group which allows a representative from all the elected school boards to sit on this board, to make recommendations how the funding is allocated to all the school boards throughout the province. Traditionally, the funding has been based on student numbers. Unfortunately, there are some schools across this province that are currently being faced with declines in enrollments. Some of these small schools are faced with extreme difficulties in providing some additional programs.

MR. SCOTT: Mr. Speaker, again to the minister, the minister is well aware that a Fine Arts credit is required for graduation in the Province of Nova Scotia. Is he at this time considering extra funding to schools in this province to provide that Fine Arts program?

MR. GAUDET: Again, Mr. Speaker, the honourable member raises a very good question. Some of the small, rural schools are faced with extreme difficulties in providing additional programs outside the regular core program. However, the current funding review group is actually trying to factor some consideration that should be given into providing or allowing small schools to deliver these extra programs that the honourable member is referring to. So there is some consideration being given.

MR. SCOTT: Mr. Speaker, again to the minister, the minister is well aware how important the music program is, for example, at the Parrsboro High School. Their history and culture depend on it. Will the minister assure the parents, students, teachers and the community that everything possible will be done to ensure the future of the Parrsboro High School music program will not be jeopardized at that institution?

[Page 5738]

MR. GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, I can assure the honourable member that there will be, certainly, consideration given into the factor of the formula to, hopefully, allow small schools, over and above, to offer the core regular program that schools are asked to deliver to provide these small schools with additional funding to provide extra funding . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you.

The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

COMMUN. SERV. - SMALL OPTIONS HOMES:

WORKERS - WAGE INCREASE

MR. JERRY PYE: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Community Services. Today workers at small options homes are entering conciliation talks to try to avert a strike. These employees have been affected by this government's salary caps and neglect of the long-term care sector. What will the minister do to ensure that these workers get the wage increases they deserve?

HON. FRANCENE COSMAN: Mr. Speaker, I think it is important for the honourable member opposite to understand that we are not the employer in these instances and we are not the ones at the negotiating table.

MR. PYE: Mr. Speaker, my question once again is to the Minister of Community Services. Last year, the minister offered workers at small options homes in Cape Breton a wage increase. Why hasn't the Department of Community Services honoured its agreement and given those workers a raise?

MRS. COSMAN: Mr. Speaker, I am not sure that the honourable member opposite has his facts straight, unfortunately. Clearly, last year, we gave a 2 per cent increase to the licensed side of our facilities across the board.

MR. PYE: Mr. Speaker, I just want to let the honourable minister know that the facts are correct. I received that information most recently. Just like in the rest of the long-term care sector, small options workers have waited years for a fair wage and adequate standards. Given that the government has become directly involved in the long-term care negotiations, will the minister bring the same speedy settlement for small options workers?

MRS. COSMAN: Mr. Speaker, I want the honourable member opposite to understand that our long-term care sector does have similarities to the health long-term care sector, but it also has some significant differences. We are focusing on the whole question over the next few years, working with those workers around the question of qualifications and standards so that we get a common base of worker education, so that we can then look at those other

[Page 5739]

issues that they are bringing forward. Clearly that is what we have been focused on in the past several months.

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

TECH. & SC. SEC'T. - MOBILE RADIO SYSTEM:

EMERGENCY RESPONSE TEAMS - ADEQUACY

MR. GORDON BALSER: Mr. Speaker, through you to the Minister responsible for the Technology and Science Secretariat. The recent announcement of the mobile radio system for the Province of Nova Scotia indicated in the initial proposal that they would be providing about 1,000 radio units to the various emergency response teams in the province. There are 314 volunteer fire departments, 120 ambulances, and a number of EMO and search and rescue groups, so it is unlikely that 1,000 units will be enough. Will your department be providing provincial assistance in terms of funding to small volunteer groups so that they will be able to provide themselves with adequate numbers of radios?

HON. ROBERT HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, I intend to table a document to help the member understand just how many radios are part of the program. The issue here is working with, in this case, volunteer firefighters. We have been doing so. They have been at the table throughout the entire four year design of this digital radio system. They are at the table now and will continue to be at the table as we transfer from the analogue to the digital system.

MR. BALSER: Being at the table may not ensure them that they will have something to eat. Aside from that, another major concern with the small volunteer organizations is the cost of radio air time. Can the minister confirm that search and rescue groups in this province will be allotted only 200 minutes of free air time each month for emergency communications?

MR. HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, the whole design of this system is that all of the agencies involved in the safety and security of Nova Scotians are part of the communication plan and part of the implementation of that plan. Ground search and rescue is at the table, volunteer firefighters, emergency and police agencies are all part of the design of the system.

MR. BALSER: Mr. Speaker, I don't think that he addressed the question, but we will let that lie for now. The problem is that volunteer groups across this province are very concerned. What happens if we have a repeat of the Swissair disaster, where it extended beyond 60 days, or when a search for a lost child takes up to a week to complete? Will these small organizations have funding to cover the cost of the radios?

MR. HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, I know, in the question, that the member opposite is in no way trying to suggest that this province didn't respond to Swissair appropriately. In fact, all of those organizations have said that had the radio system that has been designed by

[Page 5740]

them been in place, they would have been even more effective. This is a tool that all of those organizations are anxious not only to design, but to implement.

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

JUSTICE - CORRECTIONAL & FORENSIC FACILITY (HRM):

COST - INCREASE

MS. ROSEMARY GODIN: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Justice. Originally expected to cost $35.7 million, the cost of the new correctional and forensic facility has ballooned to an estimated $57 million; that is a $20 million jump. To the minister, why in six short months has the cost of this facility almost doubled?

HON. ROBERT HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, in fact, it has not doubled in the last six months; it has actually increased from the $35 million original estimate of some two and one-half years ago now, to the proper costing of a proper facility for both forensic and corrections, both long overdue in our province, and one that will be completed in a very short period of time and ready for Nova Scotians within an 18 month period.

MS. GODIN: Again for the Minister of Justice, I know that his department is hearing from residents who have just found out from surveyors that the access road to the jail is within feet of their backyards. Surely with 960 acres of land to fool around with, why can't this government do better than that?

MR. HARRISON: I am just smiling at one of the suggestions that we got which was to put the forensic centre on an ammunition dump, Mr. Speaker. The reason the member opposite has the information is because we are communicating with some 20,000 citizens of the area and, more particularly, with those citizens directly affected by the design of this facility. We intend to continue working with community groups on that basis.

MS. GODIN: As the minister has mentioned, there are other sites which are actually already zoned for facilities such as that. Will the minister agree to meet with residents and explain his department's choices that are probably more expensive and definitely more intrusive than other sites?

MR. HARRISON: I hope that the member opposite into whose riding this facility is going, is not suggesting that we go back to the ammunition dump site. What I would do is, in fact - and she shows knows full well that we are doing it already - pledge that we are meeting with that community. That community will be meeting to look at all the options considered for access to the site and that is an ongoing part of the relationship we are developing with the members of her riding.

[Page 5741]

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

P & P - VIOLENCE IN WORKPLACE: REGS. - REJECTION

MR. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Health in his role as Chairman of the Priorities and Planning Committee. As he is aware, violence in the workplace regulations came before P & P recently after being vetted through business and labour over four years ago and through the advisory council. Will the minister confirm that P & P rejected the regulations, has sent them back to be watered down yet again?

HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I believe the Minister of Labour would like to comment on that and as Chairman of the Priorities and Planning Committee, I would refer the question to him.

HON. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, I thank the honourable member for the question; it is a good question. The fact of the matter is, when the violence in the workplace regulations were forwarded to P & P, they were sent as a non-consensus document. There was a lot of disagreement at the Occupational Health & Safety Advisory Council, but despite the fact that it was a non-consensus document, I felt, as minister, that as a benchmark we had to move at some point in time, take that non-consensus document and go to the next step, which obviously P & P agreed, that it should be sent back to the advisory council for further consideration, but other measures have been taken subsequent to that.

MR. CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, through you, I ask the Minister of Health, again in his role as Chairman of the Priorities and Planning Committee, to tell us what it would cost to implement the violence in the workplace regulations, particularly as it relates to Nova Scotia nursing homes?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, a question like that I would certainly have to take under advisement. If he could be more descriptive - and he has outlined the nursing homes - if he is really serious about that, then I would respond to the honourable member.

[1:45 p.m.]

MR. CORBETT: I will assure the minister that if I were not serious, I would not ask the question. It is clear implementing these will be a cost to the health care system. Can the minister explain to the House and Nova Scotians, particularly those who work in nursing homes, that this decision by P & P to send these regulations back to the Department of Labour has nothing to do with toeing the bottom line of the Health Minister's budget?

DR. SMITH: I am not quite sure I understand the question, but I think the honourable Minister of Labour did. He says he did anyway.

[Page 5742]

AN HON. MEMBER: He does not understand his own bill. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

HON. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, the fact of the matter is the honourable member is totally incorrect in what he suggests. When I spoke previous, I indicated that other measures have been taken and those measures include the fact that on a voluntary basis the Department of Health, the Department of Community Services, the Department of Housing and Municipal Affairs, on their own initiative have taken steps to devise plans and strategies to deal with violence in the workplace so as to show and demonstrate that government is taking the lead rather than wait for a consensus in the private sector.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou East.

ENVIRON.: LANDFILL - TIPPING FEES

MR. JAMES DEWOLFE: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of the Environment and through you to the minister the question concerns landfill tipping fees. Will the minister confirm that tipping fees are applied in each county throughout Nova Scotia and if so, are the rates consistent in each county?

HON. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the honourable member for that question. I will have to take it under advisement. I certainly want to make sure that we give him the specific answer to that question. So I will take that under advisement and get that member the answer by the end of today.

MR. DEWOLFE: Mr. Speaker, I can tell you that they are not consistent. Through you to the minister, is the minister aware that tipping fees in some counties have increased by 400 per cent, creating great difficulties for many businesses?

MR. SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, two years ago in this province we had 40 open-burning dump sites. Today we have none. As a result of that, this province has made great strides and we have made great strides for the future of this province. The result of that is that municipalities have incurred in some cases significant costs to construct new waste management facilities and as a result of that we are continuing to work with each municipality to address some of these concerns with tipping fees.

MR. DEWOLFE: Mr. Speaker, again to the Minister of the Environment. Mr. Minister, in many cases the result of these extreme increases has led to illegal dumping which has taken place in most counties of this province. My question is, what has your department done to address this concern?

[Page 5743]

MR. SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, our department has worked closely with municipalities throughout this province and tried to provide them with as much assistance as possible. I would certainly ask the honourable member if he, personally, is aware of any illegal dumping taking place in this province, that he contact our department so that we may make sure that the laws of this province are upheld.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

COMMUN. SERV.: SOCIAL ASSISTANCE - CLAW BACK

MR. JERRY PYE: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Community Services. The minister likes to brag that Nova Scotia has one of the best social assistance programs in the country. The fact is even Newfoundland, Canada's poorest province, allows welfare clients to keep both the National Child Benefit and the first $500 of their income tax refund. My question to the minister, why does this government keep people in poverty by clawing back those refunds dollar for dollar?

HON. FRANCENE COSMAN: Mr. Speaker, I think it is important that the honourable member opposite understand that we created a new reinvestment pool of money with those dollars, of which at least an increase of 3 per cent went back to our social assistance clients with families, coming out of that reinvestment pool.

MR. PYE: Mr. Speaker, how magnanimous. This minister is no Robin Hood. Her government steals from the poor to give to the rich. Will this minister tell the House whether her government is now planning to also claw back the quarterly GST refund?

MRS. COSMAN: Mr. Speaker, yes, I know I am no Robin Hood but I do take great pride in the fact that in this past year we have put $10 million more into social assistance rates, into the hands of our clients, and I take pride in that.

MR. PYE: Mr. Speaker, once again, as usual the minister has not answered the question. With over 40,000 children living in poverty in Nova Scotia, this government should be ashamed at how little it has done for the poor. Why hasn't this government shown a real commitment to helping poor people get out of poverty?

MRS. COSMAN: Mr. Speaker, I think it is obvious that helping poor people get out of poverty is exactly what we are trying to do. We are doing that through a variety of ways. The negative comments that come from the honourable member opposite don't help this subject whatsoever. Obviously the reinvestment fund and the National Child Benefit see more dollars in the hands of our social assistance clients.

[Page 5744]

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

BUS. & CONS. SERV. - WEIGH STATION (AMHERST):

CLOSURE - RATIONALE

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the honourable Minister of Business and Consumer Services. It has come to the attention of the Progressive Conservative caucus that the Department of Business and Consumer Services has recently beefed up commercial weight compliance on the old Highway No. 4 that runs through the Wentworth Valley. As a consequence, the Amherst permanent weigh station scales must close from time to time.

My question to the Minister of Business and Consumer Services is simply this, has this measure been taken to satisfy the thirst for profit of the New Jersey-based company that owns and controls the Cobequid Pass?

HON. ROBERT HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite gets the prize for fiction today, there is no question. We have a responsibility for safe roads, we have a responsibility for compliance at the Amherst weigh scale. Some 98.6 per cent of the vehicles that come through are fully compliant, as the member opposite will know. That weigh scale from time to time, at low volume intervals, sends people out on the road to ensure that there is safety. It has absolutely nothing to do with the new highway.

MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I would like to direct this question to the Minister of Transportation and Public Works. Yesterday it was brought to the attention of the Progressive Conservative caucus that the Wallace River Bridge, the two-lane bridge on the old Highway No. 4 had a weight restriction posted of 41,000 kilograms. Will the Minister of Transportation and Public Works tell this House and tell Nova Scotia motorists out there whether or not this measure was taken to satisfy the thirst for profit of the New Jersey-based company?

HON. CLIFFORD HUSKILSON: Mr. Speaker, to the honourable member, I had the opportunity to check this out. My understanding is that there have been no restrictions put on that bridge. There are absolutely no restrictions put on that bridge.

MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, my final question to the Minister of Transportation and Public Works is this, when is this Liberal Government going to recognize the desire of the community up through the Wentworth Valley to have a consistent speed limit of 80 kilometres posted on the old Highway No. 4?

[Page 5745]

MR. HUSKILSON: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member knows that we have had discussions on this before and that it lies with the corporation. What we are doing, we have talked with citizens on this and we have talked with the company, and we will do the best thing in this area to see that the highway is safe.

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

TRANSPORT. & PUB. WKS. - HWY. NO. 103 (HRM LANDFILL):

GARBAGE (ROAD) - ACTION

MR. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Transportation and Public Works. I would like for a moment to ask some questions about Highway No. 103. Mr. Minister, this past weekend there were a number of near misses on Highway No. 103 between the Beechville exit and the new Exit No. 3 which goes into Timberlea. This is on the way to the landfill site. These near misses were due to the garbage on that road. Local residents have approached the private operators of the landfill about this continuing problem.

Mr. Minister, how will you assist these residents in pressing the operators of the landfill site to be more responsible new neighbours in our community?

HON. CLIFFORD HUSKILSON: Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the honourable member for the question. As the honourable member has stated safety is a key on our provincial highways. Safety is a key on this Highway No. 103 also. I want to just restate that my department will make sure that this portion of Highway No. 103 and all the highways in the Province of Nova Scotia are safe.

MR. ESTABROOKS: Mr. Minister, motorists cannot continue to play dodge ball with garbage from these trucks on the way to the landfill site. A member of your staff who works in the Beechville depot has told me that he and his staff do not have time to be picking up landfill garbage on Highway No. 103. What are your plans to ensure there is safety on that road?

MR. HUSKILSON: Mr. Speaker, to the honourable member, as I have stated, we will make sure that that highway is safe. If we have to sit down with the community and the people, we will do that, but we will have that rectified so that it is a safe highway.

MR. ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, I would like to table a letter from a constituent, Mr. Bruce Munroe who writes that, Now that we have the dump, that is all we'll see of our twinned highway. What do you suggest should be my reply to Mr. Munroe?

[Page 5746]

MR. HUSKILSON: Mr. Speaker, to the honourable member, as I have stated, we will push ahead for a safe highway. Also, I want to remind the honourable member that our plans are still continuing on this highway to go out as far as Exit 5 and the bridge is being designed that has to cross Nine Mile River. Just one other thing, the honourable member talks about safety, well I happen to have his web site on transportation right here in my hands. Safety is way down on the page, about three quarters of the way down.

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

COMMUN. SERV. - ADOPTION ADVISORY COMM.:

REPORT - RECEIVED

MR. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Community Services. Last fall, minister, you informed this House that an advisory committee on adoption, which was mandated to review issues relative to the release of adoptive information would be reporting in February. Will you confirm that you have received that report from that committee?

HON. FRANCENE COSMAN: Mr. Speaker, yes, I have received a report from the advisory committee. I have sent it back with questions that I have on the report.

MR. MUIR: To the Minister of Community Services, I am pleased that the report has been received. When will the minister be making that report available to the public?

MRS. COSMAN: Mr. Speaker, I certainly look forward to receiving the report back from the advisory committee with the clarification on the questions that I have asked. It will be a public document.

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, to the Minister of Community Services, once the report is complete, will you agree to table that report in this Legislature along with a time-frame which specifies when the government will finally make the identifying information available for adult adoptees and birth parents accessible?

MRS. COSMAN: Mr. Speaker, I think the honourable member opposite is really trying to write policy from his side of the floor on the adoption issue. I am more than pleased to commit to tabling the report, but what actions come out of that report, I can't prejudge at this point in time.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Sackville-Beaver Bank, you have a minute and a half.

[Page 5747]

HOUSING & MUN. AFFS. - C.B. PUBLIC HOUSING:

UPGRADES - REPORT

MS. ROSEMARY GODIN: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is to the Minister of Housing. Mr. Minister, your government has committed $1.2 million to upgrade public housing in Cape Breton. Will you table the report which brought about this level of commitment?

HON. RAYMOND WHITE: Mr. Speaker, to the member, I will provide the information that she has requested related to that.

MS. GODIN: Again to the minister, in light of the horrible condition of the public housing units in Cape Breton, will the maintenance policies of the Cape Breton Housing Authority be reviewed?

MR. WHITE: Mr. Speaker, the money that we are able to put into the Cape Breton Housing Development is the result of properly managing the housing portfolio. As part of that, any monies that we were able to save with the agreement we have with the federal government we put back into areas that have high priorities for development, and will continue to do that.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Sackville-Beaver Bank, you have a little time.

MS. GODIN: Quick question? I received a letter recently from the minister about a senior in a housing situation.

MR. SPEAKER: The time allotted for the Oral Question Period has expired.

GOVERNMENT BUSINESS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I move that you do now leave the Chair and the House resolve itself into a Committee of the Whole House on Bills.

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

The motion is carried.

[2:00 p.m. The House resolved itself into a CWH on Bills with Deputy Speaker Mr. Donald Chard in the Chair.]

[Page 5748]

[4:33 p.m. CWH on Bills rose and the House reconvened. Mr. Speaker, Hon. Ronald Russell, resumed the Chair.]

MR. SPEAKER: The Chairman of the Committee of the Whole House on Bills reports:

THE CLERK: That the committee has met and considered the following bill:

Bill No. 90 - Workers' Compensation Act.

and the chairman has been instructed to recommend this bill to the favourable consideration of the House, with certain amendments.

MR. SPEAKER: Ordered that this bill be read for a third time on a future day.

When shall this bill be read a third time?

AN HON. MEMBER: Today.

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

With the total consent of the House, the motion is to move the bill considered in the Committee of the Whole House today through third reading.

[PUBLIC BILLS FOR THIRD READING

Bill No. 90 - Workers' Compensation Act.]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Labour.

HON. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to move Bill No. 90 forward for third reading. Certainly much has been said about the need for change at the workers' compensation system of Nova Scotia. Without question, Nova Scotians deserve to have a better compensation system and that is certainly what Bill No. 90 set out to do.

This government is committed to doing what is right for injured workers, while ensuring that businesses and taxpayers are treated fairly. From the beginning, we based our approach on three principles: one, resolution and respect for injured workers; two, balance and affordability for businesses and taxpayers; three, fairness for all. With Bill No. 90, Mr. Speaker, we tried to resolve some key issues to eliminate the unacceptable backlog of appeals to injured workers so they can get on with their lives; to help widows who have been declined

[Page 5749]

any benefits; to find a way to help people suffering from chronic pain; to make the rules more clear and straightforward.

Through it all, Mr. Speaker, our objective has been to produce a bill that made a difference to people and their families. Certainly, we understand injured workers' concerns and frustrations. Injured workers and their families have waited a long time for solutions. They deserve answers and they deserve action. While we may not all agree on the final conclusions, I believe that is what we have delivered.

Bill No. 90 has been the result of considerable consultation with all Nova Scotians from across this province affording them the opportunity to participate, including injured workers, organized labour and the business community. It is the result of an unprecedented partnership between all three political Parties. Bill No. 90 was introduced to implement the recommendations of the Select Committee on the Workers' Compensation Act. This all-Party committee toured the province throughout August and September and heard some 274 Nova Scotians make presentations. This committee, chaired by the honourable member for Lunenburg, deserves a great deal of credit for their efforts.

More recently, the bill was refined by the Law Amendments Committee of the Legislature, again with all three Parties present. More public input was again considered. On March 11th, the Law Amendments Committee agreed to move the bill back to the Legislative Assembly for further debate and change.

Mr. Speaker, at that time, government members felt more time was required to deal with a number of outstanding issues; however, it was the general consensus, the majority will of the Law Amendments Committee that the bill come back in its form to be dealt with at Committee of the Whole House and, as such, that is what we have done.

We recognize we didn't have all the answers. I don't believe any member of the government team pretended to know all the answers, however we recognized the need to roll up our sleeves, get to work and create a better piece of legislation, and that is what we have done over the last several weeks. As a result, a number of amendments were introduced during the clause-by-clause process on this bill, and these amendments were introduced to ensure balance, fairness and clarity to ensure that solutions proposed were lasting, workable solutions.

This bill is in good shape, and it will have long-lasting, positive impacts for all stakeholders in Nova Scotia. It is important to recognize that a bill like this cannot be all things to all people. There has to be, there was and there is, a need for balance, and that is what we have achieved. This includes balancing the desire to help injured workers currently in the system, balancing the future for those people who may become injured on the job in the future, ensuring the system is affordable for businesses and taxpayers, and ensuring we are creating solutions that will last and work and not create additional problems down the road.

[Page 5750]

Mr. Speaker, Nova Scotians deserve solutions that will last and we were committed to, and are still committed to finding lasting solutions. Now we believe that Bill No. 90 has done exactly what it set out to do, to create a better workers' compensation system for all Nova Scotians. The people of Nova Scotia, all our citizens, deserve it and, accordingly, will receive it. Thank you. (Applause)

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

MR. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, it is a sad day for workers. We have seen this bill come to this House, a Liberal bill proposed by that government across the way. They would have you believe that it was a result of the select committee, but it was not. If you look at draft legislation proposed by this very minister in June 1998, it is primarily the same bill and it does nothing, in any real sense, to help injured workers in this province. We got involved with the process of a select committee because it was born out of an idea that was really as a reaction, I should say, to a large number of injured workers who, because of their frustration with the system, took the unprecedented move of occupying the office of the Premier of this province.

Mr. Speaker, these people did not do this as, should we say, a college prank, that they had nothing else better to do. They did this because they have been frustrated time and time again, in particular, by another Liberal Government by the Acts of 1994-95 that foisted a bill upon injured workers that is because they were saying that the system was in disarray. Well, yes, the system was in disarray. But who did they lay the blame on? They laid the blame on the workers and in that bill, they put the burden on workers with a two day waiting period. They took collateral benefits and foisted on them and various other means of bringing the system down to a cheaper level, at the expense of coverage for the injured worker. People said, the system cannot get any worse, we have to change it. Well, the system is getting worse.

If this bill passes, and I am afraid it may, there is going to be less room for injured workers to move within the system. They have boxed them in. They haven't allowed them the legal rights of a convicted felon. They have taken people and said, look, you got injured at work, you have limited rights now. They have singled these people out in society. How is that going to help this province move forward?

We said, a few weeks ago here, in talking to the Premier about some things, I think it was on the government's web page, that one of the highlights of coming to Nova Scotia was the low minimum wage and the high unemployment. Now we can say, you can also abuse our workers because we have boxed them out of a lot of things. Is that another rose in our lapel, Mr. Speaker? I don't think so at all. Workers are not even becoming participants, they are chattel.

[Page 5751]

One thing I agree with the minister on is when he says it will have a long-lasting impact on the workers of Nova Scotia. But I think I look at it in a different light. I don't have the rose-coloured glasses that the minister says about his idea is a Utopia where these people will be just forgotten. Where will these people go? We have done nothing for them along the lines of real, substantive benefits. We tried, in some way, in the select committee, to put together a consensus report that would give something to most people that were in the system. But what Bill No. 90 did coming through the Committee of the Whole House on Bills, by way of amendments, was take what little things were in there and just threw them in the garbage, said, no, no, no, you are going to hurt the progress of business by encumbering them with these costs.

One thing we have to realize, if the bill was to be reflective of the select committee report, which it was not, but if it was, you would have to say that those costs were bearable by WCB because they had their people with us day in and day out during this select committee process. We made the glance down the table and said, will you have to raise rates to implement that? It was a hearty no, we can do this without raising rates.

What happens? Somewhere between November 26th and the end of the Law Amendments Committee, there was this big sea change, that we cannot allow it. Who caused that sea change, Mr. Speaker. Did the injured workers come and say, look, we do not need these benefits? No. It was friends of the government who pressed the buttons behind closed doors and the Tories sat there, like the little minions they are, gave us a loop and said, lead on, MacDuff, lead on, and they hurt this province. They have hurt injured workers. They have done nothing. I do not want to use the phrase shocked and appalled because it is too trivial at this point because we have had people storm out of here, not a few minutes ago, and these people are the very people that were at 1 Government Place about a year ago.

They can't even go there because they have got the armed guard there so they cannot get out. It has become so secure that I would rather put gold there than in Fort Knox. Fairness for all. I see Joan up there. Is that fair? (Interruption)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. CORBETT: It is fairness. It is fairness for Mary Lloyd. Is it fairness for Myron that he was here before? These people are Nova Scotians. They are not something dropped here from out of the sky. They are people that worked here, Mr. Speaker. They lived here. They brought up families here. They got mortgages here. They pay rent here. They pay light bills. They deserve better than what that group gave them.

Mr. Speaker, I am angry. I am angry and, you know, I tried not (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

[Page 5752]

MR. CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, the ramblings of the member for Inverness do not make any sense because he does not make any sense. He was at lock step with his members every way it went so let's not go down that road. Let's not go down that road. No. Should Bill No. 90 have come to this House? No, because what we predicted came true because we knew just the way it was going. The fix was in. The deal was on, whatever way you want to cut it, and these people were cast aside.

Mr. Speaker, I am going to tell you that the long-lasting impact of this bill is not going to be a good one. My friend, the honourable member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage, said on numerous times, because of the tightly knit box, that the long-lasting effect of this bill is going to be more backlogs, more court cases, and more people occupying buildings because of frustration.

MR. JOHN HOLM: More hardship.

MR. CORBETT: Well, you know, the hardship side, as my friend here from Sackville-Cobequid says, is quite right. I mean, what have we done? What substantive message have we sent to injured workers, of their plight? How are injured workers going to go out and participate in the economy of Nova Scotia in any worthwhile way after this bill is passed? There is nothing for them; absolutely nothing. Even the minuscule pittance they have in there, were by way of amendments from this side of the House.

I have heard a lot in the Committee of the Whole House on Bills about people signing on and not doing this and not doing that. Well, all I want to do in summation, Mr. Speaker, is say I signed on to a select committee document, I did not sign on to Bill No. 90. Bill No. 90 was brought in here by the Minister of Labour for a Liberal Government that let down injured workers once again, and they will time and time again. When it comes time to help these people most in need, they will turn their backs on them and leave them out there to float on their own. Thank you, Mr. Speaker. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Lunenburg.

MR. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, it is my great pleasure to speak on this bill. I listened with interest to the last comments of the honourable member for Cape Breton Centre. I don't doubt the sincerity of his comments; in fact I don't doubt the sincerity of any of the members of this House in wanting to deal with workers' compensation issues fairly. Obviously there are issues I may or may not agree on with that member and other members, but it is important to not question the sincerity with which people have dealt with this.

I think it is important for the record to indicate that this process has gone on for a very long time and a lot of energy has been expended by members on both sides of this House - Opposition members and government members - to try to hear from Nova Scotians. I think it is also important to recognize, Mr. Speaker, that those messages are not always in sync with

[Page 5753]

each other. That is something we have to recognize, that when members of the public speak, as they have every right to do, the messages you get are often conflicting.

This bill does address certain very important issues. It does deal with the procedural issues. There is no question that part of what brought the Pictou County injured workers and others to the level of frustration they reached were the administrative problems involved in the workers' compensation system. This bill, in large measure, addresses many of those issues. It deals with issues involving the backlog, the elimination of levels of appeal, the whole elimination of the leave to appeal process, and the whole elimination of the reconsideration phase, and it does that in a responsible way.

I am not suggesting that it cannot be improved, but it does do that, and the honourable members on both sides of the House should recognize that it does that. It also sets a time line for deciding backlog cases. As a result of dialogue from both sides of this House, we now have an assurance that, within 18 months, the backlog will be dealt with. But for this bill, there is no such assurance, period. Colour it any way you want, there is no assurance but for this bill. We should recognize that that is there, it is part of the package.

We should also recognize what is in the bill as well. In the bill there is the ability for employers in this province to top up benefits and to pay benefits during the waiting period. Today, you can't do that. When that bill becomes law in this province, employees will be able to have their wages topped up by the employers and they are going to be able to be paid during the waiting period. That is a significant step forward for employers of this province, and it is a good thing. But for this bill, it would not be law.

It is also important to recognize that there is a group of people, the famous 10 per cent PMI rule, that group of people who did not have the ability to have their CRS pension increased because they could not reach a 10 per cent change in their PMI, those people were caught in limbo. Many of those were below the point at which they could get a 10 per cent increase because the maximum was less than 10 per cent for them, and so they were caught in no man's land. But for this bill, those people would not be entitled to have their CRS pensions increased.

Mr. Speaker, as we all recognize, it is the people with the CRS pensions that are the very worst-off people in the system. Allowing those people to have a CRS pension increase, even if they only have a 2 per cent or 3 per cent or 4 per cent change, it is a real benefit to them. For those people who are eking out a living, it is a very important thing. What may be a few dollars to some is a great deal of money to those people.

You will also look at another group of people whose situation has been immeasurably improved as a result of this, the people with amended interim earnings loss pensions. Those people who lost their pension as a result of the changes that came in force February 1, 1996. Those people will be receiving, effective January 1, 1999, their pension back. The pension

[Page 5754]

they were committed to receive, they will receive it back. But for this bill, they would not receive it back.

The suggestion that we could always do better tomorrow is not going to help somebody who is waiting for his amended interim earnings loss pension. They want it back. Now. I am not going to say there are not many people that feel that they should have received their pension retroactively, but the issue is, the most important issue for those people is to get an income to live on. This bill will guarantee them just that. Their promise will be reinstated.

Mr. Speaker, another thing that would not have happened, and this is for a completely different group of people who are in the system and that is the employers, but for this bill the 100 per cent of the cost of occupational health and safety in this province would be borne by employers. Employers in this province will be better off and so will the accident fund, and if the accident fund is better off, the accident fund in the future when there is a review in two years' time, the employees will be better off.

That is something that this bill has accomplished. It has made sure that the accident fund is on a safe footing. That saving of 25 per cent or 30 per cent on the occupational health and safety cost in this province is an ever increasing cost. So if occupational health and safety costs go up, the savings to the accident fund go up. It is a real benefit to employers in this province and to employees in this province, because it is the accident fund that guarantees them their money.

We should never forget how important it is that the workers' compensation system in this province be financially viable, because when there is a stakeholders' review on April 1st, they will be in a position to negotiate among the stakeholders of the system improved benefits. Those improved benefits are extremely important to workers and employers.

This system is not perfect. It is a system that is constantly evolving. The most upsetting suggestion that I have heard made is the suggestion that because your particular problem is not redressed at this particular time that your situation is hopeless. That is just not the case. Members on both sides of this House and my colleagues in the Legislature from the New Democratic Party have advocated for a stakeholder review. That is a very good thing to advocate for, because it is an opportunity for employers and employees to negotiate changes in the system and to review the performance of the fund to see what can be done to improve it. I am extremely hopeful that that will happen, Mr. Speaker, that, as a result of that review, which is approximately two years from now, after the appeals backlog is dealt with, to have it be dealt with by law, that they will be in a position to look at the fund and say, we can do things better.

[Page 5755]

[5:00 p.m.]

Then there were suggestions, as this process has moved through the House, about possibly eliminating other levels in the system, levels of appeal. Those may be good things. Those are things for the stakeholders review and we have to give the people who are the stakeholders in the system an opportunity to look at what can be improved.

The other issue that needs to be recognized is chronic pain. Chronic pain is the most controversial single part of this bill, bar none, and every member here should recognize that it is the most controversial part. The expectations of many of those people who have suffered for years with chronic pain are justifiably very high. They also, however, have been literally starved out. These people have been waiting for seven and eight years, Mr. Speaker, and they have not received one nickel. I have constituents in that situation and when they come in and when you talk to those people, the most pressing demand is a decent income to live on today.

There is one gentleman who comes to my office about every month, when is the bill going to pass? The reason he is doing that is because he can't pay his rent. He hasn't got enough money at the end of every month to pay his rent, as a result of this bill. Now, he may not get as much as he would have liked. I am not arguing that. But I know for a fact that this man will be happy about one thing - he is going to have enough money to pay his rent and that is a darn sight better off than he would have been if we don't pass this bill. (Applause)

The easiest job in the world is to be an advocate for perfection. It is an easy job because no standard is too high, no benefit is too good, if you are an advocate for perfection. However, this is, unfortunately, not a perfect world and, in every situation, you have to balance the ability to pay with the ability to do a program. That is the problem that we have to deal with and the bill that we have passed here will deal with the problems of many individuals. It will not fix the problems of everyone. There is no question about that. There is no one in this House that should believe that everyone's problems are going to be fixed as a result of Bill No. 90 and anyone who created the expectation that every problem could be fixed by Bill No. 90 was misleading people. There was no possibility in the world that you could do that.

As I said earlier when this bill was in second reading, the perfect solution is to give everybody who is entitled to a pension an earnings replacement benefit, a pension based on their earnings and eliminate the CRS pensions. That is the solution, except it is unaffordable. It would put businesses in Nova Scotia out of business and that is a reality. When you talk one on one with members of all Parties in this House, they recognize that. When you talk one on one with injured workers, they also recognize that you cannot do that. It is just too expensive. That is the difficult part.

[Page 5756]

The other part of this equation, which should never be forgotten, is the fact that this bill attempts to deal, with compassion, with widows. I know that not everybody agrees with me on that point, but just look at the plight of those widows. They have been waiting for years for the return of their survivor's benefits and they haven't gotten them. As a result of this bill, effective January 1, 1999, every one of those people, regardless of the date when their survivor's benefits were terminated, is going to have their survivor's benefits restored, period. There is no exception. The only issue, and it is a very justifiable issue and there are many people who are concerned about it, but the only issue is whether or not they are entitled to retroactive benefits, period, and that is not an issue for those people whose survivor's benefits were lost between 1985 and 1992. It is, however, an issue for the pre-Charter people and those people have every right to resolve that in court if there was a breach of the Charter and if it was not, that is an issue again that can be dealt with by the stakeholders, but I can tell you, Mr. Speaker, to make those people wait for perfection is not fair to them because they are getting older. By the time we reach the state of perfection that some advocate, they will be gone and it will not be any good to them.

The idea of this legislation is not to try to benefit someone down the road. It is to try to benefit people today and that is what this bill does. It benefits people today. It provides administrative change. It provides a very large, expensive benefit package to a large number of people. It is not, however, as much money as frankly, you know, one might have hoped. I will be honest. I have mixed feelings because there are benefits in that I perhaps personally would have liked to have seen in the bill and members in all Parties could look in the bill and say, gee whiz, you know, I think that there are benefits that maybe should have been in there, but do you know what? The package here is the best package that could be obtained with all of the competing factors at play and you had to balance. You had to say to yourself this claim on the money is more important than this claim. That is a tough thing to do, but if you are going to be responsible, you have to do that because that is part of what making decisions is all about.

It is not just there to say yes to everybody. The part of making a decision is to look at someone and say your situation is very important. Unfortunately, someone else's situation is even more important. That is not to say these people's situation is not important. It is a question of setting priorities and you have to set priorities.

I would like to speak briefly on one last issue. That is the issue of how come we are here today. The only reason that we are here today is because John Hamm pushed the agenda to make sure (Interruptions) because without his work, this would have failed. That happens to be the truth and the truth is that all the changes, all the positive changes, would not be here without his work. This process would have collapsed at many points in time without intervention and the process kept moving. It has been a fits and starts process, but we are here today because of the important changes that can be made. Perfection it is not, but it is a darn sight better off than if we were not here today. Thank you.

[Page 5757]

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

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, I did listen with interest to the member for Lunenburg's comments with regard to this particular piece of legislation, Bill No. 90. I am going to go into some detail as to why I do not agree with him as to his analysis of Bill No. 90, but I think it is important to remember one thing. Compromising does not mean it is necessarily reasonable. We have to remember that, that just because we came with a bill, that there was some horse trading and there were some deals made, and the Tories and Liberals voted for some things, voted against some others, and we have passed a bill that is a mix-match of many different things, does not necessarily mean that we have all been reasonable with regard to the benefits and how the workers' compensation system will work. When you equate compromising automatically with being reasonable, then you have begun to go down a road that is the wrong road.

I want to talk a bit about this, Mr. Speaker, in an historic context. I mentioned this in the debate on title in the Committee of the Whole House but I think it is important to put it on the record on third reading. Since the early 1900's workers' compensation has been an historic, and still is, compromise between workers and employers. They are the parties most directly affected and the ones who benefit from the workers' compensation system. They are the ones who we must always hold up as the test as to whether they are happy with the changes we, as legislators, are making when we vote for or against the bill, particularly this Bill No. 90.

I want to talk a bit about that. Back in the early 1900's there was a need at that time to create a system called the workers' compensation system that would result in a compromise but that would benefit workers and employers. They came to the table, as far as we can tell now, 80 years hence, because they wanted a compromise. They wanted to build a system that would benefit both of them. The employers wanted the stability and the certainty of assessment rates that they knew would be fixed and knew there would not be any court cases that could dramatically spike up the costs they would have to pay for an injury in the workplace.

Workers on the other hand, were not getting a fair share in the court system. They wanted a system that would ensure they would get the benefits when they were injured at work. They didn't want to have to go through expensive and, at that point, almost always useless litigation that resulted in them not getting what they deserved.

They made a compromise - workers gave up the right to sue their employers and, in return, employers would guarantee through regular assessments, to assist them, that those workers would be paid fair compensation for their loss of income because of an injury at work. It is simple, that is the historic compromise. It was based on employers and employees cooperating, working together, feeling comfortable with the system and moving forward knowing that it was a system they both believed in.

[Page 5758]

There are many examples over the years of how this has collapsed. I will give you one example; in 1993-94 the Liberal Government passed the Workers' Compensation Act - I believe it was Bill No. 122 at the time - and then the compromise collapsed. The government decided at that time, they argued, that they needed to make drastic decisions to deal with the unfunded liability. It was done without proper consultation and without dealing with at least one of the stakeholders, the workers, and allowing them to be respected and have their opinions heard properly and treated respectfully in a way that meant their interests were going to be addressed fairly.

What was done in 1993-94 by the Liberal Government was a process in which we drove through a bill and a new Workers' Compensation Act that limited the benefits for the workers, limited how much they could receive for certain types of injuries and dramatically increased the power of the Workers' Compensation Board to continue to limit the rights and benefits to workers.

What happened after that bill was passed? A couple of things. Workers had no respect for the legislation, they didn't feel it was something they could believe in and, because of that, they had to continue to challenge what was in that Act. Bit by bit and piece by piece workers and the lawyers who represented them continued to challenge the Workers' Compensation Act in ways that would try and find holes in the system and in the walls the Liberal Government tried to build.

Finally we had a collapse of one of those walls in April 1997, when the Doward decision came from the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal, Mr. Speaker. That decision said the government was wrong, the Workers' Compensation Board is wrong in its interpretation of this new Act and that workers were entitled to certain rights for chronic pain if they were injured before 1996. Workers continued to challenge, continued to fight because they never believed in the law that was shoved down their throats, for lack of a better term.

So this short-term, political-decisions patchwork that was done on workers' compensation to try and deal with an immediate problem without looking at the long-term interests of workers and employers, resulted after three years after it was passed by this Legislature, in challenges that were successful in the courts. That is how democracy works - if you don't like what the government does, you try and find ways around it through the courts or through other means. That is what workers did and they were successful.

What has happened since 1997 when workers were successful, to some extent, in challenging the Workers' Compensation Act? Well, another crisis occurred in 1998; workers occupied the Premier's office. They were upset with the backlog because of an ineffective Workers' Compensation Appeals Tribunal set up by the Liberal Government in its Bill No. 122.

[Page 5759]

[5:15 p.m.]

What else had to happen? Well, suddenly we had another short-term political answer to what needed long-term problem solving. A select committee was set up in order to try and find ways to get those people out of the office. Let's be clear for the record. The select committee was put in place in order to get those workers out of the Premier's Office, nothing else.

What did we get out of that committee? We heard a lot, and there were a lot of good suggestions that came from that select committee. Unfortunately many stakeholders felt that they either didn't take it seriously or didn't have the opportunity to be consulted fully. Again workers, employers and organized labour weren't given the opportunity to be consulted fully and feel that they were part of the solution.

What did we have? Patchwork number two. Bill No. 90 was introduced almost instantaneously with the introduction of the select committee report. The Liberal Government's answer to the workers' compensation problem was patchwork over patchwork. Let's put a bill in place that will deal with this problem and hope that they all go away.

What did we have from it? We had a Law Amendments Committee that heard almost no one in support of Bill No. 90. Workers, organized labour, injured workers, employers all said that they were opposed to this bill going ahead. The Law Amendments Committee heard from 150 to 200 people and they all, almost unanimously, said they didn't want this bill to go ahead.

Do you know who the only people were that actually supported this bill? Funny enough, the widows, because they felt that the provisions in this bill that dealt with them were fair enough and they were going to live with them. And now we have seen what has happened to the widows, and the only ones who actually supported Law Amendments don't support this bill either. There is the patchwork.

Now what do we have? We have a government that comes back to the House in March, calls the Committee of the Whole House and begins to go through the amendments to the bill. Many amendments, there are amendments to their own bill, and there are amendments to amendments. We even saw, to some extent, in Committee of the Whole House situations where the government was voting against its own amendment to its amendment to its bill.

AN HON. MEMBER: On a recorded vote.

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: On a recorded vote. Despite the sort of farcical nature that we saw at times because of that sort of odd performance, we still got through Committee of Whole House, a bill, Bill No. 90, and that is why we are here today.

[Page 5760]

I want to go into some detail as to my concerns with Bill No. 90, but let's make it clear, the short-term political compromises that we keep saying are reasonable and are why we are here today are not reasonable and they are not the right answer for workers and employers in this province. This paternalistic attitude that I hear from some members in this House bothers me. This attitude that I will tell you what is best for you and if we have to compromise in order to do it, so be it.

What we believe in as a caucus is that we must work with the workers, we must work with the employers, we must listen to them, we must respect them, and in the end, we must listen to them and ensure that whatever we pass as a Legislature is something they can live with because they are the ones that must live with the workers' compensation system after this bill is passed, not us.

I want to talk a bit about some of the principles that all along we have talked about are the basis of why we can or cannot support certain sections of the legislation. There are two particular principles that our caucus has based our support or non-support on. Originally this whole process - at least that is what we have been told - was to eliminate the appeal backlog at the Workers' Compensation Appeals Tribunal.

It was an attempt to deal with the cases of 2,500 people in the tribunal backlog that were getting nowhere. Some of them have been waiting up to five or six years for a decision on the substance of their appeal. We should make a note that about 800 of those appeals are related to chronic pain syndrome. No matter what we did on this bill with chronic pain syndrome - and evidently, according to Bill No. 90 if it is passed as it is we will eliminate 800 of those cases - there is still 1,700 left. No one has ever told me how this government was planning to deal with that other two-thirds of the backlog.

Here is the second principle. Fairness for the stakeholders. This goes back to my original point, the stakeholders, the employers and the workers are the ones who must live with this bill when we are finished with it. We must always ask ourselves, are we being fair to them when we pass pieces of this legislation and the legislation as a whole. Those are the two tests we have gone by, and I will get back to those principles later on.

I will agree with one thing that I think some of the others have said - at least I think they have said this - that part of the compromise that has always gone on is the compromise between benefits for workers and the assessment rates of employers. Let's make it quite clear, our caucus is cognizant and believes that whatever we do in this Legislature, we must always maintain a compromise and a balance between the benefits for workers out of the system and the assessment rates that employers must pay. It is a difficult and sometimes challenging compromise that we must continue to meet, Mr. Speaker, but, in the long run, it must be done. Again, it is not done.

[Page 5761]

I will say this. We have seen, historically, 20 years ago, what some of the short-term political decisions did when, after 15 years of very short-term decisions and political decisions, we had an unfunded liability of $0.5 billion. Then we saw in 1993-94, more short-term political decisions that resulted in even more problems with legislation. Now we see, again, another opportunity missed because we are patching over the legislation with short-term political decisions. What happens in the end is that compromise is eroded and workers are not getting the benefits they want and employers are not feeling that they are being treated fairly either. So what we have in the end are workers and employers that don't feel they are part of the system. They don't feel the system represents them and the system isn't working fairly for them and that is wrong.

We must build a system based on long-term principles and based on developing one that recognizes the compromise between benefits and assessment rates, but at the same time recognizes the need to address long-term policies, as well. Again, short-term patchwork does not answer the questions that workers and employers have about how this system will be made fair. In the end, it was our caucus' first position with regard to this piece of legislation, that the political meddling must stop, that we must work with the employers and we must work with the workers in order to build a better workers' compensation system.

How did we propose that? Well, while we were still at the Law Amendments Committee, our caucus suggested that the vast majority of this bill not go forward. It was our position that other than the parts dealing with the backlog, some of the legislative changes to the WCAT, that particularly were, obviously, things that we said we were trying to address - we were here to adjust the backlog, the widows and maybe some provisions with regard to AIEL benefits for pre-1990 injured workers - we believe the rest of the bill should have been sent back for a review and for facilitation between workers and employers in an attempt to devise solutions that they could live with. That was our first position all along. We were looking for the support of one of the other two Parties in this Legislature in an attempt to ensure that we could build a system that they could buy into. Again, send most of this bill back. Let's not deal with the short-term political decisions and the patchwork. Let's move it aside and let's begin to build a better long-term solution to workers' compensation.

We got no support, Mr. Speaker. We got no support at the Law Amendments Committee when we moved motions and we got no support in this House when we attempted to do the same. So, what was left? Let me just say this for the record. It has always been our belief that workers and employers would be better off if this bill never passed; except for a few provisions dealing with the backlog and the widows, most of this bill should have been sent back to ensure that workers and employers had an opportunity to buy into whatever changes happen to the workers' compensation system. We had no support from the Liberals and the Tories with regard to that position.

[Page 5762]

What was our second position? Well, the Liberals and Tories wanted to go through this amendment by amendment, so we said, fine, let's work through the amendments. We have some. But, in the end, it is going to be difficult to see a bill that we actually can support, because, in the end, Mr. Speaker, there are a lot of provisions in this bill that we knew workers and employers could not live with.

There are four key components to Bill No. 90, Mr. Speaker, benefits to workers, and those are encompassed by workers injured before 1990 and those workers injured between 1990 and 1996. Bill No. 90, as it was introduced in December 1998, I presume, was an attempt to deal with and rectify the wrongs of those workers, paying them some benefits that would address their concerns. However, nestled amongst those little gold nuggets of money that would be handed to workers were a lot of strings attached. In particular, with regard to those with chronic pain syndrome, there are strings attached that prevented them from appealing their decisions and actually removing themselves from the appeal structure in order to get benefits that are less than they would receive if the status quo stood and this bill never saw the light of day.

As it stands, workers with chronic pain syndrome injured between 1990 and 1996, Mr. Speaker, are entitled to full wage loss benefits if they can prove their chronic pain is related to the workplace injury. Instead, this government has decided to put in something less, something that halves, if not more, the benefits these workers would receive and, in return, tells them they must give up their appeal, they have no right to appeal to the courts and that chronic pain is not compensable in any way; we will give you some money to help you, go away and good luck with your life but, in the end, let's make it clear that chronic pain is not compensable. Those are problems we had with this legislation. That is one of the only clauses that made it through with regard to benefits for workers and that is why we can't support Clause 1 in this bill.

What about the widows? They were another group who were addressed in this bill. The widows were broken up into two groups; it was divide and conquer time for the Liberals and Tories when it came to the widows. Originally the bill introduced by the Minister of Labour, put forward in this House no amendments at the Law Amendments Committee from the Liberals with regard to the widows but it addressed in the bill - and it was one of the only ones we are willing to pass - the issue of the widows, saying that those who remarried and were cut from their survivor benefits would have them returned and there would be some retroactive pay.

What did we get in return? We get an amendment at Committee of the Whole House on Bills that said those who remarried after April 17, 1985, will receive full benefits and retroactive pay. That is 26 of them. There are about another 94 of them who were told no, what we gave with one hand we are taking away with the other; where we said we would give you some retroactive pay, we are now going to take that away and we are just going to provide you with a pension from January 1, 1999, forward.

[Page 5763]

It even got to the point, Mr. Speaker, that on March 18, 1999, in a letter from the Minister of Labour to Betty Bauman and Debbie Krewenki, we had a situation where the minister even supported retroactive payment for all widows back to 1985. What we saw instead, in writing, is a reversal on that specific position.

The widows were told in the fall, you will get what you want. In March they were told by the minister that you will get more than is in the bill. In return, in the Committee of the Whole House on Bills, the Liberals and Tories decided that for the vast majority of those widows, they will get a lot less than they were expecting. Given the fact that these widows, whether it be a moral or legal issue, these widows expected more, they deserved more. They have already gone through the hell of having a spouse die in the workplace. All they wanted was to be treated fairly. There is the rub, treated fairly, and the Liberals and Tories decided that wasn't appropriate.

Let's talk about the backlog. As I said, one of the reasons Bill No. 90 was introduced in the first place was to deal with the appeal backlog, 2,500 cases. There were a few provisions that made it into the bill that would deal with the backlog. My friend from Lunenburg is correct, the one year deadline is in place. That ensures that within 18 months of now the Workers' Compensation Appeals Tribunal will have to complete its backlog. There is a 60 day time limit on decisions having to be made by the tribunal, another good legislative provision. There is even another one that deals with the fact, and I think we moved it, that the decisions must be concise. So maybe those 2,500 cases will eventually be cleared up.

Here is the problem - they have created more traps and more problems in this bill that will create new challenges to the court, new court ordered problems for the workers' compensation system. When we eliminate one backlog in the next 18 months, we are creating not one, maybe two, maybe three more backlogs because workers are not going to stand for a system that tells them that you must take or leave this money and then get out of the system. They will challenge that; the widows will challenge, others will challenge in court this bill. What we will have, whether or not we get rid of the backlog that is there now, we will have another backlog. In two years, mark my words, we will be back here dealing with the same issues and the same problems. Why? Because again, Mr. Speaker, short-term political solutions and meddling has won out over long-term policy decisions that would fix and remedy the problems.

The Workers' Advisers Program is another part of the bill. A lot of people at the select committee said they were not happy with the accessibility issue. Well, with regard to the accessibility issue, Mr. Speaker, some things have been done in this bill. Many workers also had concerns at the independence of the Workers' Advisers Program. Indeed, Bill No. 90 actually introduced changes that would move the Workers' Advisers Program to the Minister of Justice and, not hours ago, the Liberals and Tories agreed to remove those provisions. It is unfortunate.

[Page 5764]

[5:30 p.m.]

Justice not only has to be done, it must be perceived to be done and in the case of injured workers, that small change, that they would show that their lawyers, their independent counsel, their free legal service, was under the Department of Justice, not under the Department of Labour, would go a long way to making them feel much more comfortable with the system but, instead, we got rid of that.

I want to go back to the Workers' Compensation Appeals Tribunal for a second, Mr. Speaker. The other shoe that we had asked to be dropped, and we were promised would come forward, were administrative changes. Legislative changes are a small piece of the puzzle as to why this tribunal was so unproductive and ineffective. There are many administrative changes that could be made and should be made to make the tribunal work. We even provided a list of them to the government in the hope that they might adopt some of these. We have seen none of them; we have seen no indication from this government that they are willing to adopt any administrative changes. Indeed, at Committee of the Whole House on Bills, the Minister of Labour stood up and said everything is fine and we have made administrative changes, and there is no need to fix this system anymore. We have cleared up 450 cases out of 2,500 in the last year.

My math means that another 2,050 are going to be waiting up to four or five years to get their decision and if he thinks that that is the administrative change necessary to fix the system, he is sadly wrong. I hope he will take seriously his job of identifying the administrative changes necessary. We have not seen them here today. I do not particularly expect to see them anytime in the near future, and that is another reason why the backlog will not be cleaned up because this government does not have the ability or the leadership skills to take a tribunal under its own mandate and deal with it forcefully and make sure that it does its job. This tribunal is ineffective, it is unproductive and it must be dealt with and this government is afraid to deal with it.

A couple of other points, Mr. Speaker. As I mentioned, our position with regard to removing most of this bill and moving it to stakeholder review, at the Law Amendments Committee and subsequently we heard from many employers, many workers, and those in organized labour who agreed with us. All we were trying to do with that position was get out of the trap of short-term political decisions as a way of building a better system. It does not work. It has not worked; history has proven that, and we need to build a better system with long-term solutions. We have the support of employers and workers, so we felt that we may actually get some support from the PCs and Liberals but, unfortunately, I guess they were not listening to the stakeholders with regard to what was really needed regarding this legislation.

What has happened? A Committee of the Whole House on Bills, having sat through almost all of it . . .

[Page 5765]

AN HON. MEMBER: Mass confusion.

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: There was mass confusion. It was very difficult to tell whose bill it was, who was moving which amendments, and who was supporting what. In the end, let the record show that this is a Liberal Government bill, Bill No. 90. This was a bill to short-term patchwork on the workers' compensation system instead of having the leadership and the gumption to go out and actually fix the system. They have had two opportunities in the past five years to fix the system and, unfortunately, they have missed both opportunities. I would hope that they would have learned their lesson from four or five years ago.

What can we conclude from this system, Mr. Speaker? Workers' compensation can only work where the injured workers and the employers feel comfortable and accept the changes that we as legislators pass. I agree with the member for Lunenburg. It is never perfect and no one was ever striving to make a perfect system, but what we were trying to do as a caucus was build consensus among those who must live with this bill after we are done. As legislators we have those opportunities. Courts cannot do it; courts can only interpret what we pass. The Workers' Compensation Board says they cannot do it. They were confused. They needed clarity.

I wish good luck to the CEO and the chair of the Workers' Compensation Board if they think they have gotten clarity out of this piece of legislation. We, as legislators, have a duty, I believe, to try and build a better system because we have a unique ability to bring together those who are involved in the system, to work with them and develop rules and laws that everyone can live with. We have missed that opportunity. We have ignored their calls to do it and I think we are all worse off because of it.

In the end, what do we have? We have a piece of legislation that was moved by the government, gutted by the government, passed by the government with the support of the Tories. What we have is a piece of legislation that will not fix the backlog. Let the record show that in two years or one year or five years, we will be back here dealing with the problems of a backlog because this government continually attempts to find the solutions through building boxes around the injured workers and not attempting to work with them and with the employers to build a better system.

We will see more court challenges, more fights from workers, because as I said in Committee of the Whole House, workers are resilient, they will continue to pick themselves up, dust themselves off, and continue to fight for a better system. They have no choice. They must continue to fight for the system, because we believe the system can work. But after 80 years of political meddling, there aren't many people out there who actually believe that.

All they are asking for, all they did ask for was an opportunity to be heard, to be respected, to be treated fairly and to ensure that they had a fair hearing before a tribunal that could hear their case. They will get none of that from this bill.

[Page 5766]

Mr. Speaker, in closing, if we care about workers, if we care about employers, if we care about others who are involved in the workers' compensation system, we must respect them and we must respect their needs. That doesn't mean being paternalistic and telling them what we think is best for them, it doesn't mean finding compromises on the floor of the House, on the quick and on the fly, that we can call reasonable when we walk outside these doors, what we need to do is a very simple thing. We must listen to them, we must respect them and we must build a better system in the long run through respect and through listening and through making a system that everyone can live with.

We have heard a few words around this House and I just want to mention a few of them: rough justice, retroactive rules, regressive laws. I think we should all make it very clear, rough justice is not justice, it isn't fair, which is what I think justice means, and we are not treating the people correctly if we are going to implement rough justice over their own demands. Regressive laws are not respected. We have seen that in the past; they will be challenged, they will be fought. There will be successes that will poke holes, maybe collapse walls in this bill and in the workers' compensation system and we will be back at it again. As I said before, retroactive rules are challenged, they are fought, and we will continue to see a system which workers will not have respect for, employers won't have respect for, until we work with them to build a better system.

Reasonableness is a term that I have heard from the other two caucuses. It means respect, it doesn't mean compromises that result in workers or employers being treated unfairly. Without respect for those involved in the system, we will have no conclusion to this particular problem.

I encourage all of you when you vote on third reading to think long and hard about what you are doing. You are condemning the system, you are condemning employers, and you are condemning workers and injured workers to more troubles, more challenges, more confusion, more interpretation and in the long run, no one will win. They deserve better and we should be treating them more fairly. That is why I am not voting for this bill, and that is why my caucus is not voting for this bill. Thank you. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Economic Development.

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, with the indulgence of the House, earlier today in Question Period the Minister of Justice was asked a question regarding the compensation package that was paid to some gentleman, I forget his name now. The minister would like to respond to that and has the relevant information, if that is okay with the House.

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

[Page 5767]

The honourable Minister of Justice.

HON. ROBERT HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, the question was raised by the honourable Justice Critic as to why we were respecting the confidentiality of the agreement. I indicated in Question Period that it was our full intention to speak to both parties, as the Minister responsible for the Human Rights Commission, to see if both parties would agree to the release of the information. We have contacted both parties, either yesterday or today, and have confirmed as of a couple of hours ago that both parties do agree to release the information.

I am sure that the Human Rights Commission has more detail, but the amount of the settlement is $67,000 and both parties have agreed to make this information public. I do so in the House here today.

MR. SPEAKER: We are back to third reading of Bill No. 90.

The honourable member for Pictou East.

MR. JAMES DEWOLFE: Mr. Speaker, as one of the members of the Select Committee on the Workers' Compensation Act, I am pleased to offer a couple of thoughts on Bill. No. 90.

Mr. Speaker, at the onset, our journey was clear, and that was to find a process that would make the current situation better. I was confident that the all-Party committee, the all-Party Law Amendments Committee and the all-Party process of the Committee of the Whole House on Bills could and would build a better bill with fairness at its core; fairness to the injured worker by way of a fair compensation and fairness to the employer by way of fair assessment rates.

It was a delicate balance, indeed. As the previous speaker suggested, caring for workers, I think every one of us in this room care about the injured workers and they care about the employers who pay for this insurance plan. Each day, I noticed as we walked this razor's edge in here in the spirit of cooperation of this minority government, there was a lot of give and take by all Parties on most clauses. As a result, at the end of the day, I would suggest that reasonable people would agree that if you are to weigh out this bill against the old one, I believe this one is much better and a lot of injured workers will be, as a result, better off with this bill than they were before. Unfortunately, there are those who have fallen through the cracks and we all feel their pain because it has been a long wait for some of them to be let down.

Mr. Speaker, this bill did provide many good things and improvements. We finally have a definition for chronic pain. The AIEL clause was carried with amendments and the CRS was brought back on this benefit, which carries on until the age of 65, whichever is the greatest,

[Page 5768]

the AIEL or the CRS. This bill provides injured workers the ability to bring action against a third party, which they didn't have before. It also reinstates survivor's benefits. It rescinds the 10 per cent PMI rule. It eliminates the levels of appeal and of course, the OHS costs are now prorated.

Mr. Speaker, it is not all things to all people. We can't be all things to all people, as much as we would like to be, as legislators. As we have witnessed here, it has been quite a learning experience for myself and, I am sure, for many of the other newer members. In the spirit of cooperation, things are not always the way you would like to see them. But, at the end of the day, I think we have some vast improvements. Thank you. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants East.

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, I have a few comments on this bill and the process. I won't go into as much detail as my learned colleague from Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage, but there are some points I would like to make. I guess I perceive this process of getting to this point today as actually what being an MLA is all about, trying to make those hard decisions that are for the benefit of our constituents.

I must say, I don't really feel in my gut that we actually have made the right decisions on this bill. I have wondered, even though I wasn't involved with the select committee, but certainly was involved with the Law Amendments Committee, and as the Law Amendments process carried on, when we get to where we are today, I am starting to wonder why we went through the Law Amendments Committee in the first place.

[5:45 p.m.]

The bill we are finishing up with here today is a long way from the one that was first presented to the Law Amendments Committee. So many amendments appeared on the floor of this House, apparently on the fly, that it makes we wonder why we sat and listened to the presentations at all because I don't see in this bill a lot of what those people said. I am starting to wonder if that wasn't part of the strategy in order for the government to keep its actual intent held back long enough so that the stakeholders didn't really get to see it.

If it is true that a society is measured by how well it takes care of its most disadvantaged, then we have failed here in this bill; we are not taking care of the most disadvantaged people in this society. The unfunded liability was not the fault of the injured workers, Mr. Speaker, or of the employers, but the injured workers are carrying that unfunded liability on their backs, there is no doubt about that.

To say that at some point our caucus was accused of holding this bill up and that the necessity for moving it forward was because injured workers were told that there would be something for them in this bill and that decisions on their appeals, et cetera, would be made

[Page 5769]

once this bill came through the House. Actually there still was a piece of legislation that had been passed in this House and there is the Doward decision and decisions on those appeals could have been based on that court decision, plus on the previous legislation. That was not done. So to blame this bill for holding their decisions up is not accurate.

I know some members - I particularly heard this quite often from the Tory caucus - that you can't be all things to all people but you can be something to all people. This bill provides nothing for some people.

The honourable member for Truro-Bible Hill said on a previous day that there needs to be fairness for those why pay the piper and those who derive the benefit. I don't know of any injured worker who considers being injured on the job to have been a benefit, especially with what they have been able to receive from the workers' compensation system, I am sure many of them would not perceive that as a benefit. They would think that getting up and going to work every day would be the best thing that could happen to you.

Some years ago a certain Tory Minister of Health in this province took the unprecedented step of compensating a young man who had contracted the AIDS virus through the blood supply system in this province. That statesman is still in this House but that statesmanship is not, it is gone.

Mr. Speaker, there are precious few good reasons to die. For those individuals who got up in the morning and went to work and didn't come home that night, their families have not been considered in this bill, as we see in the actions taken against widows in this bill. I know that none of us can put a dollar value on a human life, it is impossible to do, but you would like to think that if something did happen to you in the workplace in this province that your family would be adequately taken care of. That is not the case. Nobody seems to be figuring into this process what the cost is to society for raising children in poverty. What are we all paying for that?

I know for anybody who takes their responsibility in this House seriously, we all have to get up and look at ourselves in the mirror every day. I would be curious to know what the Minister of Labour sees. Certainly this bill, to me, is a reflection of him and it is not much.

As I close, there is a quote that I would like to read to all members, "Assist us in our deliberations so that our legislation will reflect a true spirit of justice and equity to all people.". If those words mean anything to the members in this House, then this bill should look different than it does today. Thank you.

[Page 5770]

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

MR. REEVES MATHESON: Mr. Speaker, I rise for just a few moments on this bill to speak specifically on behalf of those people who are waiting in the Town of Glace Bay, a mining community that has probably, through the entire course of history of workers' compensation in this province, had a close, personal contact with the system and how it works and, most importantly and ultimately, how it affects them in their lives when they have to call on its assistance as a consequence of an injury that they might sustain in the workplace.

Mr. Speaker, when I first watched this issue present itself on the floor of the House last year, I was intrigued because I was anxious to see whether or not this particular problem that we began to address would be attacked in the spirit of reform, with the view to recognizing the very serious and complex problems that were besetting the workers' compensation system in the province, with a view to putting in the kind of effort necessary that hopefully, after today, when this bill passes, all members could leave and say that we have put our best effort into this project, we have the best workers' compensation system ever, if not the best in this country. That was one view that I had.

The other view I had was that I knew that in 1993, this government embarked on an ambitious reform of workers' compensation which was essentially driven by the fact that the system itself was on the fringe of economic collapse. The unfunded liability was running out of control and was running in excess of $600 million to $700 million. The 1993 bill was directed, I would submit, primarily to rein in that particular problem and I believe, with that in mind, the board has achieved a certain degree of success. However, in 1995, the Supreme Court of the province, in the Doward decision, essentially introduced into the system thousands of new claimants. Those persons who had, through the years, suffered from what we now know to be chronic pain were declared to have rights under this system and to be entitled to compensation.

That immediately had two effects on the supposed reform to the economics that were driving the board's decisions: the appeals process was immediately clogged with an additional 800 to 1,000 claims and, in addition to that, the costs to the board in trying to address this new head of claim, by way or chronic pain, was such that it created panic and effectively destroyed the plan that was in place to reduce the unfunded liability of this board. In other words, it was clear that if chronic pain was to remain in the Act, if chronic pain recipients were to be treated as any other person who is entitled to workers' compensation, the board would be broke in short order.

What really drove this particular exercise was not reform, but a desire of the board and the government to return to the pre-Doward days; in other words, to essentially deny, once again, to those persons suffering from chronic pain, the rights they had won as a result of the decision that was made by the Supreme Court in 1995.

[Page 5771]

I would admit, Mr. Speaker, that watching the process through first and second reading, through the hearings that were conducted by the special committee appointed by this House to go about the province, and watching the proceedings through the Law Amendments Committee, that I would say upon coming back to the House on this particular occasion, to this committee, that I was leaning towards the idea that this government and this House had as its primary focus a reform of the Workers' Compensation Act. I have to admit, however, that those particular expectations were certainly brought to rest very quickly, were dashed very quickly by the series of amendments that were introduced by the government.

Mr. Speaker, I do not believe any system can be fair if it arbitrarily, for no other reason than that it cannot find a way or means to accommodate a particular group, excludes that group in terms of rights that every other worker has in that system. That is exactly what has happened here. When you look at the manner in which the government has chosen to debate this particular issue in this committee by coming forward with amendment after amendment to its own bill, which time after time has as its sole purpose and function to deny what up until the time that we came back into this House those workers had, we had amendments that would deny workers the right to counsel. That was defeated fortunately.

We have an amendment that passed that says that a chronic pain worker has no right to access the Appeal Courts of this province. Not unexpectedly, when one recognizes that it was that very Supreme Court that championed their right in the first place that was denied by the Act of 1993. We saw pieces of amendments to this legislation that would effectively say if you cannot be covered by this Act, not only that, you will not be able to access your rights in the common law to our civil court for damages, the very right that every worker had prior to this particular Act abrogating that right when it introduced this legislation of supposedly no fault workers' compensation.

Mr. Speaker, it is wrong in any situation, when any particular group has its rights cleansed. It is no different and in many ways, although certainly not on the level of what is going on in Europe and Kosovo, when one group of people tell another group, or ethnic group, that they have no right, no reason to exist, no right to look for the protection of what every other person, or every other citizen in the country or the province has. In this particular place you cannot draw any other conclusion then that the intent of this legislation is to cleanse that group of workers who suffer from chronic pain out of the law as it pertains to workers' compensation in this province.

More importantly than that, and what was really perplexing is that if this law said, well, we cannot afford to pay under the present system and we cannot afford to meet the demands that this particular group of workers would place on the system of workers' compensation, but when it goes the additional step and says to those workers, not only do you have no rights under this particular system but, in addition, we intend to deny to you a right that every other worker in this legislation has by way of appeal to the courts of this land, to test whether the

[Page 5772]

veracity and truth of this particular legislation can stand the test of time in terms of our Constitution and what any person has a right to expect.

I oppose the legislation, primarily because it is offensive in what it intends to do to these people, not only to say, you are not entitled to workers' compensation but, more importantly, to deny them that basic right that every other person has and is entitled to presume that they have. I know that there are prohibitive clauses but generally they speak to the whole body of the persons that they affect and it is very seldom that they single out one particular group and discriminate against them and that is what is happening here. It is cleansing of an entire group of people from the system and it is wrong because it is motivated by problems created by finances as opposed to whether or not these are legitimate claims that should be heard. Thank you.

[6:00 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. We have come to the moment of interruption. The late debate this evening was submitted by the honourable member for Halifax Citadel. The honourable member for Preston will be taking the debate and it reads:

"Therefore be it resolved that the government should undertake new and additional measures to support women who seek employment in non-traditional work.".

ADJOURNMENT

MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Preston.

STATUS OF WOMEN - WORK NON-TRADITIONAL:

MEASURES - SUPPORT

MS. YVONNE ATWELL: Mr. Speaker, it is, indeed, important that I stand and speak for a few minutes this evening on this very important topic, that government should undertake new and additional measures to support women who seek employment in non-traditional work.

Mr. Speaker, some 81 years ago, on April 26, 1918, women in Nova Scotia got to vote. That is less than 100 years. During that time, we have seen women struggle to take care of their families and their communities over a very long period of time, and oftentimes, with very little support. There was a time when women could only work in a very few professions, mainly teaching and nursing. I am pleased to say that over the period of these years, women have carved out a place for themselves in our society and have taken leadership to advance their cause.

[Page 5773]

In 1977, the Advisory Council on the Status of Women was established to assist women in their struggle. However, as we see women advance, we have also seen women who have taken steps backwards. We must realize, Mr. Speaker, that women in this province make up 47 per cent of the labour force. However, 50 per cent of women in this province also live in poverty. So what do we do about that? How can we make a difference? How do we get women involved in work that has traditionally been absent from women's agenda? I have seen, with the Sable Gas project that has been coming forward, that women have had high hopes of trying to find employment that would assist them in taking care of their families. These jobs are high paying and there are many jobs that are non-traditional that are high paying. Some of the technical jobs, such as engineering and others, are also jobs that are high paying.

So how can the government assist women who are interested in working in non-traditional jobs fulfil their goals, their dreams and aspirations and how can government encourage those women who may not have thought about working in non-traditional jobs? I know, through the Status of Women, there have been some round table discussions, there have been focus groups, there have been some papers, particularly around young women and looking at non-traditional work, however, I have not seen any clear guidelines or procedures or any type of open support in terms of how to move women from some low-paying jobs into jobs that are going to provide them with a proper source of income.

Over the course of the last year or two, we have seen several reports from women themselves, who are interested and who realize that they are not involved in how they themselves are able to get by or move forward when they talk about or involve themselves in this work. Recently, there was an article in the paper where Premier MacLellan announced that there was $190,000 going towards training for the Sable Gas project and most of that training was going to welders who would be trained for the pipeline jobs. I know, also, that there have been some women, a few women, who have been taking training as welders, as well. However, there again, I have not seen any serious programs that would encourage women to take more of that type of work. Industry reports that were put out by women who talked about why they feel excluded from those non-traditional jobs and there was a recent research project undertaken by four Atlantic women's groups that looked at trade training and technology. Some of the findings are very interesting; they have found that occupational segregation continues to be a major labour force issue for women in Atlantic Canada and here in Nova Scotia.

Women also want practical, hands-on training so they will be able to do the kind of work, not just classroom training, they want to get in there and get their hands dirty, they want to actually do the work. They also need a conducive workplace that encourages the best that women have to offer on those jobs. Oftentimes women find themselves in a position where they are unable to be comfortable working on some of these jobs, because of the number of males. Women need to feel safe. They also need to feel accepted when they take on this type of work.

[Page 5774]

I do believe that to date I have not seen or heard anything that would tell me that some of these steps are being taken based on some of these reports. One of these reports was from the Status of Women themselves, who responded to rebuilding the system. This is the response of the Nova Scotia Advisory Council on the Status of Women and this was to the Department of Community Services, where they themselves talked about how important specialized education and training is and how women who still work in low paying jobs, such as clerical and sales and services jobs where the wages are very low, they have a number of recommendations in this report that would do the government well to look at. I would encourage that they do that.

Also, if we look at how women in this province and in Canada have made steps to improve their working conditions as well as their educational conditions, you have to look back to the policy on affirmative action. The province needs to develop policies that promote equality. While we say that we promote equality, it is not always shown that equality is promoted. Equality that will provide access for women who want to work in non-traditional jobs and who need that kind of education to do so.

It is important that government, along with employers, take a partnership role to deal with the kind of training women need. They also need to take positive steps to ensure that the workplace is safe for those women.

I just want to say that when we look at 50 percent of the population who are women who are living in poverty, that we have not done a good job. We have not done a good job in encouraging women to enter the market where the high paying jobs are; we have not done a good job in our education system by encouraging women to take the kinds of jobs that are necessary.

I would also ask the minister who is responsible for the status of women to look at the report for women in technical training in Atlantic Canada. There are excellent recommendations in that report. I think that for women in this province, if they are going to get out of the hole of living in poverty, women and children, then women must begin to feel the support of government that can assist them in achieving their dreams and aspirations. Thank you very much.

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

MR. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise and speak to this resolution which states the government should undertake new and additional measures to support women who seek employment in non-traditional work.

Mr. Speaker, to be quite candid, I have some mixed emotions about this resolution. First of all, I am a bit distressed by the picture which my colleague from Preston has just painted about the status of women in this province, because I think there have been

[Page 5775]

tremendous strides made over the past number of years. (Interruptions) Excuse me, I was being interrupted by some of these rowdy people on the right. I do think that there have been significant strides made in the past number of years, and one of the agencies in this province that has been responsible for that has been the Nova Scotia Council on the Status of Women.

Now I should say, on the other hand, one of the things that I am not prone to do is to encourage or to say I really think that this government is doing a good job about anything. I am not, particularly when I say that things have changed over the past number of years, that is not necessarily kudo to that government that we have there.

However, I should say that there are a number of things that have been instrumental in improving the situation for women in the world of work the past number of years. One of course was the Charter of Rights and Freedom. That had a tremendous impact not only on women and their rights in the workplace or the employment force, but on disabled people, people of colour, people of different sexual orientation and whatever it is, all of these things. Society is changing.

Another thing is the Human Rights Act which has been adopted here in Nova Scotia. That has come up in this Legislature on a number of occasions, or at least the commission in the past number of years, which has been a good thing. I think as well that the access to money for training has been greater in the past few years than it ever has before, which has led to improvements in the opportunity for changing or what we call non-traditional employment not only by women but by people who might never have, in the past, thought of accessing that.

Another thing I could say is that, and I am pleased to say this . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: Any examples?

MR. MUIR: Yes. No question. Law school, medical school, engineering, all of these things. For example, and I am pleased to say this in illustration that some things are possible, I believe that more than 50 per cent of the Dalhousie Medical School, the students there, are women, more than 50 per cent of the law class at Dalhousie University are women, and the numbers of engineers in Dalhousie is increasing.

I know that because at one time I used to be involved in higher education, and this used to be a topic. I was very familiar with our friends at Mount Saint Vincent University; indeed, I sat on their Senate. One of the things that they did influenced me. It was their stance on standing up for the women of Nova Scotia and, indeed, the women of Canada.

Mr. Speaker, I can say as well about non-traditional employment, and I am not sure what it is any more because I see that the Sable Gas people, Sable Offshore Energy Project is partnered with the Nova Scotia Community College in developing a project to promote

[Page 5776]

more technically oriented careers toward young women. I see as well in the paper the other day - and I actually saw it on television - a thing about women in the welding world at the Trenton Steel Works where they make the railcars.

Indeed, we have not really thought of welding. There are 27 women at that plant doing welding, 2 people at that plant doing drafting - another occupation which we have typically thought as belonging to men - and 4 involved with inspections. This is in a heavy industrial plant that employs 1,500 people. The percentage is not great, but my point is that these occupations, we can't call them non-traditional any more.

About a month ago, I visited the offshore gas plant in Goldboro, and there was a training program with the people there and I guess there were about 12 people in training and about 50 per cent of that group were women, and again, we have typically thought of the oil patch industry as being the sole domain of males. I suggest, Mr. Speaker, that that is changing.

[6:15 p.m.]

So when I say that I have a difficulty with what are non-traditional occupations, I am serious. I think, to be quite frank at this particular juncture, I am not saying that the percentages are great, we are looking at it a different way and say that for males going into non-traditional occupations, such as nursing and being secretaries and typists and things like this, or babysitters or pre-school people, the number of males going in there has probably not, (Interruption) nannies, yes. I guess we couldn't call them nannies. My point, Mr. Speaker, is that the resolution to me indicates something negative and does not take into account the positive change in our society that has occurred over the past 10 or 12 years.

I know, Mr. Speaker, when I talk about medicine and law, I know women who fish lobsters and they probably do it down in Shelburne too. My point is this . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: Fishers, are they?

MR. MUIR: Fisher ladies, fisher women. Anyway, Mr. Speaker, I see it over in Charlie Parker's constituency in West Pictou, and Charlie, the representative for Pictou West, you know there are women who are fishing lobsters out of Toney River. You know them too. We have also seen, again, a non-traditional occupation, I have a house in Truro and, on occasion, I have to have repairs made and not being a particularly handy person, I have to call somebody. My electrician is a woman. (Interruption). That is right. Thank you. I want to tell you though, I can speak of that particular person, and I wouldn't speak too much of it because the Minister of Labour is not here, she had a little confrontation with the apprenticeship board because there was some feeling that the apprenticeship inspector discriminated against her because she was a woman and that was a terrible thing. I know

[Page 5777]

women who are plumbers and this, again, is an occupation which we would think of as being in the non-traditional vein.

Mr. Speaker, just before I close, and I guess I have about another minute and one-half, there are, at this present time, relatively few occupations that women are denied access to. There are some, obviously, that are related to physical strength - in a lot of cases, women, because of their own choice, and I can take, for example, being a firefighter - some women are able to cope with the physical demands of that and do it willingly. There are others who are not interested in that or feel that they do not have the physical stamina for that.

I could mention, as well, a sort of non-traditional occupation, and I have been reminded that in my home town of Truro, we have an undertaker who is female, and a very good friend of mine happens to be a funeral director at a rival funeral home. Again, Mr. Speaker, this particular resolution implies that women are being denied access. I submit that the equality is probably not what we would like to see, but things have progressed over the past number of years and I don't think the negativism in this resolution is warranted. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Community Services.

HON. FRANCENE COSMAN: Mr. Speaker, it gives me pleasure to engage in this debate this evening. I really did pick up with interest the first speaker's comments about women who used to be streamed into one or two careers because I do remember my own father saying to me that I didn't need to be educated at university because I could go into nursing or I could go into teaching or into secretarial school. That was my choice and it was very limited at that time. I sort of didn't agree with my dad over that and history will speak for itself but it is obvious that we have moved a long way from those traditional three streams that women were streamed into in the 1950's and 1960's, so it does give me some sense of pride that we are moving forward and making progress, obviously.

I think tonight is an opportunity to speak about some of the initiatives that have been going on for the last several years in the area of the resolution. It is in the area of how we support women so that they are better represented in fields of non-traditional work.

I want to speak briefly about the Advisory Council and some of the work they have done. They have certainly been facilitators and motivators among employers and unions in Nova Scotia, particularly in the longshore industry. They have been talking to the industry about their obligations to women, to hire women under the federal Employment Equity Program. Certainly as Halifax is in the running for the bid on the Panamax port, this is very strategic that the Advisory Council has taken on this work and is making sure that the interests of women in getting into this non-traditional field of work are being flagged with the industry and that this awareness is created about it.

[Page 5778]

The council has had the opportunity this past year to deliver four standing-room-only sessions to inform women down in the Guysborough area and in Sydney and in Halifax about opportunities in the emerging offshore industry. These sessions were organized after lengthy discussions with the Sable Offshore Energy Project. As I said, they had standing room only at this, so that indicates the high degree of interest in this area.

Currently, with the help of the Advisory Council as well, we are working with the women in trades and technology and the Petroleum Directorate. We have had the beginnings of the discussions around women, the inclusion of women in this energy sector. Last week at its annual meeting the Advisory Council made sure they talked about the inclusion of women in the technical occupations as a priority on their work plan for the upcoming year, so that the consultation the council is doing is ongoing on the issues of the energy and business sectors and their engagement of women.

Now in this past year the Advisory Council partnered with the Association of Nova Scotia Women for Education and Research in Science. That has an acronym, it is called ANSWERS. They had a very successful forum, called Finding Answers. That was for women specifically targetted in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. That workshop focused on finding solutions to the workplace dilemmas confronting women scientists in the university, government and private sectors. Again, issues around recruitment and retention were focused on in that debate.

The council certainly has engaged itself in a very proactive process around non-traditional fields of work. What I am referring to basically is a reference to some of the work they are doing, not all of it. Government is also encouraging women as entrepreneurs. The new Capital Access Program is coming out of the Department of Economic Development and Tourism. It has that as a focus around a loan program targetted to women who want to expand or start their business. Obviously anyone who has ever set up a small business recognizes that accessing venture capital is a major problem. We hear from women all the time; it is a bigger problem for women to get the ear of the bank around accessing venture capital. So there is a job function, a role function there that the Advisory Council has engaged in. Also, the Department of Economic Development and Tourism is part of that.

The province is a co-sponsor of the new Women's Community Economic Development Program. That program is designed to give support and promote gender equity in community economic development. They are piloting programs in three parts of the province. That is certainly looking at the whole question around the participation of women in the social and economic development of Nova Scotia.

I want to shift gears for a moment to the Department of Human Resources because obviously, as an employer of women and, as Minister of Human Resources, I want to make sure that we cover some of those bases in the remaining few minutes we have.

[Page 5779]

I think it is fair to say the government goes beyond simply supporting women who seek work in non-traditional areas, but we actively promote measures to do that. Women, obviously, outnumber men in the Civil Service. Approximately 56 per cent of that work force is female. The government itself is a viable and a strong career path for women who choose to work in the Civil Service. The percentage of women in management and in the professional classifications has increased by 6 per cent in recent years. At one time women managers made up 37 per cent of the Civil Service work force. It is up from 31 per cent in 1994 to 37 per cent. The number of women in professional classifications, jobs such as computer services, economists, engineers, social workers, has grown to 45 per cent, up from 39 per cent.

So not only are there opportunities there for women in the Civil Service but there are other experiences for young women who are studying or just starting out in their careers. I think that everybody in this House last year was quite interested in Career Starts. That is a program that provides students with an opportunity to work in the Civil Service in Nova Scotia and it gives those students a chance for career related experience. That is very strategic because sometimes it is very hard. You are studying in a degree program and you cannot get a summer job that relates to the field that you are studying in. So this not only gave them a chance for exposure to working in their own field, but it also meant that they could consider the Nova Scotia Civil Service as a viable career path and an option.

I am proud to say that women filled 16 of those 25 positions last year and the work was a wide range kind of work, anything from an assistant coordinator at the gas hearings to Internet media production and to probation officers. They were all in the category, I think, of non-traditional work. Career Starts is not the only program that hires young women. Since 1991 we have had a Mentorship Program, that is designed for women who are in under-represented fields, such as applied sciences, trades, technology and management. That also enables women to learn more about their chosen career and that, again, is extremely important as an experience for them.

The mentor helps the student broaden her circle of acquaintances and that networking is something that we as women always are trying to expand on. Networking is an important part of any career path that we might choose. It helps to build confidence and that is extremely important as well. I think we have a good track record as government around the area of employment for women and in helping women to try and choose non-traditional fields of endeavour.

Mr. Speaker, the success of the Advisory Council on the Status of Women - turning back to their record - in the past year or so, one of the things that I have been really encouraged by is the work of the council with young women. They have held forums for young women around the province. They have held writing contests. I participated in a very successful event where we honoured a team of young women who built a formula for a race car. Not only did they build it, they formed the team that drove it. They entered the race.

[Page 5780]

They competed and they won the race. If anything is non-traditional, that would have to describe it.

So I think that there is a lot of progress being made and there is a lot of information sharing now. There is a whole sense of momentum among younger women around their career choices and where they are going with their future choices with work. Certainly the Province of Nova Scotia, through Human Resources, through the Advisory Council on the Status of Women, through many of its endeavours with economic renewal, is looking at this whole question of non-traditional work for women.

I think in my closing 30 seconds I want to say that I think the government is working hard to support women in non-traditional careers. Women know that the future is theirs to embrace. They know that they have choices to make. They know that they likely will work in more than one or two or three different career paths and they know that in order to succeed they are going to have to engage in life-long learning.

It gives me great pleasure, as minister in a variety of responsibilities, to focus on these issues around non-traditional work and to know we are making progress. Thank you.

[6:30 p.m.]

[GOVERNMENT BUSINESS]

MR. SPEAKER: We will resume debate on Third Reading of Bill No. 90.

[PUBLIC BILLS FOR THIRD READING

Bill No. 90 - Workers' Compensation Act.]

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

DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, a few words on the third reading of Bill No. 90. I can recall very vividly going to a number of meetings of the injured workers in Pictou County and it comes as no surprise to this group that that particular organization is well-organized, well-informed and extremely proactive. I do have, and did develop in my meetings with them, a strong sympathy for their plight. So many of them were simply not having their concerns addressed by the Workers' Compensation Board, through no fault of their own. That group, I believe, proved inspirational to other groups in the province and gradually brought the plight of the injured workers in this province to a head.

It would have been nice to be able to stand here and say that we have solved the problem which clearly we have only started to address, but I believe we have taken a step in that direction. So many of those 2,500 workers, without a piece of legislation, without clarity

[Page 5781]

and without what we are achieving here today, would be in the same boat tomorrow that they were in a year ago, two years ago, five years ago, and having the perception, with great justification, that in fact the system was failing them.

We started down this road to address the backlog, and while there are differences of opinion as to how successful this particular piece of legislation will be, it is something that must be tried. I look back at the remarks of the member for Lunenburg - and while it is in my mind I would like to congratulate all members of the committee who participated so well in this process. They were called upon to do yeoman service on our behalf, in going around and having the public consultation process that was so essential - the member for Lunenburg has a good handle on this particular piece of legislation, perhaps the best handle that any in this place have. He said that if we were to continue to strive for perfection, then that in itself would be a mistake and that we would not make any progress whatsoever. In the effort to achieve perfection, we would probably eliminate the opportunity for any progress whatsoever.

When we look at this bill, each of us perhaps will have a slightly different determination as to how successful we have been. Frankly, I have disappointments, and I know that injured workers have disappointments. On the other hand, as a group this will benefit injured workers and, unfortunately, there will be some in the group that will not benefit from the legislation. That in itself should not be a reason to hold it up; that should not in itself be a reason to say to injured workers that we won't have a bill and maybe in two years we will fix it for you. That is really what we would be saying to them, and I am not prepared to say that to them at this time.

I look at the successes we have had in trying to balance what I understand is the second highest premium rate in the entire country and balance that against what is a very unfortunate group, and that is the group that have called themselves the injured workers of Nova Scotia. I look at the elimination of the 10 per cent PMI limit on the CRS, because that is the group that really is most hard done by in the whole system. Wouldn't it be great, and others have said this, if, in fact, we could eliminate those lines between the groups of injured workers and simply say to injured workers, look, the legislation will apply equally to all injured workers, regardless of when you had your injury. Elimination of the 10 per cent PMI limit is a real step forward and will help many injured workers.

Elimination of the backlog, and there is a debate going on as to whether or not this will eliminate the backlog. If it does not, then in the review in two years, which is guaranteed by this legislation, we will have an opportunity to look at that again. We will not hold up the benefit to those workers who will benefit from this legislation, by waiting for those two years to occur and to address the backlog if, in fact, we have not done it with this particular piece of legislation.

[Page 5782]

We look at those survivor benefits, those who lost their pension or those who, in fact, were being disadvantaged. There is an advantage in that particular clause. On the other hand, maybe it is not all that the people wanted but, on the other hand, it does restore their pensions as of January 1999, and that is a benefit to those persons.

AIEL, and we spent so much of our energy and time debating AIEL. I carry around in my pocket those letters that were sent to those workers by the Workers' Compensation Board initially, back in 1994 I believe it was, that said, you are going to get AIEL, and then a letter that came on a number of months later and said no, you are going to get a smaller benefit. We created, by an administrative mistake, another classification of workers and we had to address that and we did.

I was influenced because I was uncomfortable with that particular resolution. On the other hand, I was influenced by the fact that the members of the committee who sat through close to 200 submissions, came to the conclusion that AIEL should be part of the benefit package. Only those who sat through all of those submissions perhaps have the real grasp of what all this means.

We talked about administrative change and so many injured workers are less upset about what it is the Act says and more upset about how it is administered. I would hope that through this process the approach of administration will, in fact, be different, and that injured workers will feel part and parcel of the process rather than feel they are victims of the process.

The appeal system, this getting it down to 18 months must be of some comfort to the workers, knowing that at least 18 months from now something is going to happen that has not been possible to happen, in many cases, for many years. The elimination of the leave to appeal, the case manager reconsideration will improve the situation because so many times it was a complaint about the appeal procedure, rather than the ultimate resolution of their claim, that was on the minds of injured workers.

We talk about prorating the responsibility for occupational health and safety. That will be of comfort to many employers. I believe it was the right thing to do, the ability of employers to top up because in my area there are employers who are anxious to top up, are anxious that there not be a waiting period for their workers. Should we not legally give employers the right to do this, particularly when employers have done it voluntarily. They have come and said, look, we are going to give our workers this kind of protection.

While I agree with those speakers who say there is much to do yet, on the other hand that is no excuse not to produce and pass this piece of legislation that helps many workers, that, in effect, sends out a signal that we are determined to make the Act better, that we will work on the process and, as I say, we are somewhat disturbed that we didn't get as far as they would have liked. Perhaps there are employers who will say, we have gone too far. But this

[Page 5783]

is not an issue that is clear, regardless of whether you are an employer or regardless of whether you are an employee. Therein is the challenge for us, as legislators, to walk somewhere in the middle.

We have, as a third Party, walked as some in our caucus have said, on the razor's edge for a number of weeks on this issue, determined to come up with a piece of legislation that is as balanced as it is possible to do at this particular time, and I believe we have done it and we will vote for this bill. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition. (Applause)

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I want to speak for a few moments on Bill No. 90 at third reading. I want to spend a few moments talking about how we got here, a bit of the history around the problems that have been created and why I find it so difficult to be in this situation right now with what has happened to Bill No. 90 and the process that we went through, especially over the past few weeks. A process that we went through, the kind of so-called negotiations that went on as people tried to lobby for their own interests and then maybe a little bit about whether we can do it better, if we get the opportunity.

Mr. Speaker, I want to begin, as the Leader of the Official Opposition, to tell you how proud I am of the work that was done by our members of the select committee. The members for Cape Breton Centre, Sackville-Beaver Bank and Pictou West invested a lot of time. (Applause) They were members that were truly committed to going across the province and talking with injured workers and other interest groups, employers, small and large, organized labour, anybody that had something to say about workers' compensation. As you know, the select committee involved, as well, employer representatives, representatives from the Workers' Compensation Board, and those three members invested a lot of time and energy in a process that took many months, throughout the summer, and a good part of the fall. I want to thank them for that because I feel that they represented our caucus very well in a process that I did not start out with a lot of confidence in. I think some of that lack of confidence has been shown to have been prudent. But, nonetheless, we made a decision as a caucus to commit ourselves to that select committee and our members conducted themselves responsibly, conducted themselves well, and I am very proud of the role that they played on that committee.

I also want to say, Mr. Speaker, because, as you know, the select committee report then turned into, well, let's just say a piece of legislation became a fix to the select committee's report. It then went through first and second reading and ended up in the Law Amendments Committee and the Law Amendments Committee held a number of hearings for days and weeks in the winter and spring, where they heard a lot of presentations.

[Page 5784]

I want to thank our members of that Law Amendments Committee, the member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage, the member for Timberlea-Prospect and the member for Hants East, who conducted themselves well. (Applause) I have heard a lot of feedback from people who have made representations and commented on how respectful our members were and how interested they were in finding solutions and how engaged they were in the presentations that were being made.

[6:45 p.m.]

I, as a member in this House now for eight years, have always felt that was extremely important, when Nova Scotians are taking the time to come before a committee of the House, it is very important that we show them the kind of respect they deserve. They are the reason we are here and when they take the time to do the work, to come and give us their views, we owe them the time, the sensitivity and the respect to listen and to engage with them in the issues that they bring forward.

I want to thank those members of our caucus who have played such a role and let me also say that, especially in the Law Amendments Committee, other members of our caucus participated and subbed in. We made sure that on almost all occasions we had three members there, because we do take our responsibility on these committees seriously, and I want to thank those members for that work.

Let me remind, and it has been discussed, but indulge me if you will, that we are here a little over a year later as a result of an occupation of the Premier's Office by a group of injured workers, a group of injured workers who had had it up to here with the problems that, in fact, were (Interruption) Mr. Speaker, some members have questioned whether my mike is on. I think people can hear me although they may not be particularly interested, but there is no light on the indicator that shows that my mike is on.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Your mike is working.

MR. CHISHOLM: Thank you. I know the supportive member for Cape Breton The Lakes, sitting next to me, is having a little trouble hearing me and wanted to make sure that I had my mike on. I appreciate her concern.

The question was the occupation of the Premier's Office. They occupied the Premier's Office I think for two main reasons. The main one was the whole question of the backlog and the way that they felt they were being dealt with or not being dealt with. The backlog had built up to around 2,500-plus cases. Injured workers were suffering as a result, and it was also because there had been a court decision on chronic pain, known as the Doward case, that had come down in April 1997 and the board had still not implemented the results of that decision, which was to pay. They were concerned about that and were they to begin to pay out on the basis of chronic pain, then that would have dealt with the backlog and so on. They had some

[Page 5785]

very specific grievances, but I think we can characterize it as being classed around those two issues.

As you know, it was an emotional, very difficult time for injured workers in the Province of Nova Scotia who were watching that and were participating to some degree in what these workers were doing. They are people who are living, in many cases, below the poverty line through no fault of their own, simply as a result of being injured. They felt that they were again being injured by a system that was not responding to the problems. They had had commitments made to them, they felt, by this government, commitments that were not being upheld, and they were trying to force their point. They tried other ways and they were doing it in a way that they felt they were otherwise left with no recourse, so they had an occupation.

They were there for a number of days. There were some solutions suggested. One of them was the select committee. I had some concerns, I must be frank, because what I envisioned at that time was that the matter would get put off. These people would be moved out of the office, which was a good thing, and that the issue would again be delayed, put off and not really dealt with.

I think we had suggested at the time a couple solutions. One was that the board simply begin to implement the Doward decision and that they bring in the administrative changes that we all felt would deal with the problems at the board, with the WCAT in particular, and things that would actually streamline things and begin to deal with it. In other words, we all recognized, and I think all Parties did at that time and certainly had said so in the election campaign, there was a problem here that needs to be addressed. Why go through another discussion which may delay a resolution, let's actually put in some concrete measures that would result in addressing some of these grievances, which were very valid grievances. It didn't appear that that was going to get any support.

The injured workers were in there for a number of days and the select committee seemed to be the only option that was getting any support from the other Leaders, so we did agree to participate in that select committee. We consulted with the injured workers' group involved and they felt that if the three Leaders committed themselves to the process, that they committed themselves to actually dealing with their grievances that it would be dealt with. They felt it would be dealt with fairly quickly, but it was not to be.

Anyway, that is what we did and the select committee went out and did its work and did yeoman service; we should all be proud, but nonetheless here we are a year later. We have a bill that I have to tell you is far from satisfactory as far as I am concerned. It does not go any distance, I would suggest to you, not to overstate the point, in dealing with those very grievances that we talked about a year ago trying to solve. I am very disappointed that that is, in fact, the situation that we are in.

[Page 5786]

I want to tell you, maybe if I may, Mr. Speaker, you will recall you were sitting not far away on the Opposition benches from me back in 1994-95 when we were dealing with Bill No. 122. Bill No. 122 was a major piece of legislation, a major overhaul of the workers' compensation system brought in by the newly-elected Liberals, elected in 1993. It was primarily intending to overhaul a bill that needed to be overhauled. We all agreed to that. It was an old piece of legislation, I forget how old that other one was - I should know, I talked on it enough - but it was old, and it needed to be brought into the 20th Century, let alone the 21st Century.

There was also a very serious problem of an unfunded liability, to the tune of $500 million. That was a burden; it was a burden on the Workers' Compensation Board and it was a burden on the Government of Nova Scotia and the ability of the board to function and to pay claims. The member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage discussed the decision through Bill No. 122 that was made or what Bill No. 122 represented was a decision made by the government of the day to deal with, I will contend, that unfunded liability on the backs of injured workers.

The unfunded liability had built up. We studied it. We had Price Waterhouse do a major study, I should say that the Workers' Compensation Board did. You can see how the rates never increased throughout the 1970's and 1980's. There were some bad investment decisions which were a problem, but the basic case was that for many years the board was not paying its way; as a result, we had a build-up of $500 million. The decision by the government as reflected, I felt at the time and our caucus felt, in Bill No. 122 was to slash benefits for injured workers, in some cases by over 50 per cent, to restrict eligibility to the point where many injured workers would not be eligible, and it did other things in that bill. We debated it long and hard in this House, the few of us that were in Opposition and it was an onerous bill. It was a bill that took away the rights of working people in this province, and I found it very difficult to deal with that legislation as a Nova Scotian, as a member of our community and as a representative of this House.

Anyway, it got passed, there was a big majority at the time but, sure enough, problems arose right away, problems began to show themselves. One of the things, of course, they did in order to deal with the backlog, they felt they would get away with the independent, arm's length Workers' Compensation Appeals Tribunal and that that would solve all the problems. All that did, of course, was really take away the right of the injured workers to get an unbiased, clear-headed, lay person's perspective on their cases. It was as if the government had to get rid of that because many cases got overturned so they figured, we will deal with that quick enough, we will get rid of the External Appeal Board. That was done. It didn't deal with the appeals backlog. The appeals backlog stayed the same and continued to grow because of administrative problems and because, I believe, the Workers' Compensation Board was going out of their way, in a way - and it was talked about here, rough justice - to deal with them in a rather heavy-handed way.

[Page 5787]

It didn't work and the Doward decision is a good example of that, where the worker went to the Court of Appeal and the court ruled that what the board was doing did not have any standing in law. That was the beauty of the External Appeal Board, that they would rule on that and they could rule on the board's policies, do you remember? They could say whether or not they were just or reasonable or, in fact, made sense in law and, in many cases, overruled some of that stuff but that was gone. But, nonetheless, in the Doward case it went to the Court of Appeal and was overturned.

So here we are in the spring of 1999, to deal with the backlog, ostensibly, but what I think we are dealing with in Bill No. 90 are ways to streamline the activities of the board to make workers ineligible, to cut workers off the appeal board by making them ineligible or by giving them a lump sum payment that is like buying them off. It is a small payment, Mr. Speaker, and then closing the door behind them so they can't appeal. They have no right then to go further to appeal the decision that has been made by the board. It is like the courts make a ruling that your law is not right, so you come along and change the wording and make sure this time that workers don't get away with any sense of justice.

So I must tell you that I am extremely concerned with what we are faced with here. Some members in this House have talked about this being a compromise. Our members signed on to the select committee report. That was a compromise. Those members - we talked about it in caucus, we kicked it around a lot, let me tell you, because there were things in there and there were not things in there that some of us had felt very strongly about. We kicked that around for some time but we came to this conclusion that we have to recognize that there is a compromise, there were some recommendations in that select committee report that we felt had some merit and that should go forward and that they would deal with the backlog and deal in a more fair way with the current problems faced by injured workers.

Bill No. 90 then came about and surprised members of the select committee because there were a lot of parts of it which didn't appear to make a whole lot of sense. We then went about for a couple of weeks, no, no, we went through the Law Amendments Committee and so on where we had people come in and talk. There were things in Bill No. 90 like universal coverage, which would require all employers in the Province of Nova Scotia to be a member of Workers' Compensation to pay their rates. Well, there was a huge hue and cry. The government, back in a former day, in 1990, tried the idea of universal coverage in Bill No. 99. That didn't fly then either, very controversial and something that requires a lot of discussion out of the community.

[7:00 p.m.]

The idea is that people need to participate, like universal health care, in order that the system have the capacity to be able to function properly and fairly, as it is meant to be. So things like universal coverage became a lightning rod for the employer community and there are other parts of the bill. Our members of the Law Amendments Committee and others

[Page 5788]

worked on that committee and worked with all Parties and all representatives at that Law Amendments Committee, employer groups, employee groups, trade unions, injured workers, to try to find ways to address the problems at hand, always trying to keep in mind that our main focus is the backlog and chronic pain and how we deal with those two things.

We came to the conclusion, after all was said and done, things like universal coverage and other things should be set aside because they were superfluous to the main two items and they were causing a lot of dissension, so we should put those aside and refer them to stakeholder review. We should get on and deal with those items. I must thank our members for having done that, gone about and worked with the employer and the trade union community, the chamber of commerce and others to try to reach a compromise on that basis, Mr. Speaker.

We had meetings of our caucus and so on and we tried to do that. We came into this House less than three weeks ago and Bill No. 90 came forward to the Committee of the Whole House on Bills and, all of a sudden, boom, a whole raft of amendments were introduced by the government, which would gut those few clauses that would give something to injured workers, things like the retroactivity for widows between pre-1985 and 1992 and issues on chronic pain. The government brought in amendments that were extremely onerous and caught us all by surprise. They were not following the sort of principle of compromise and of taking into consideration both sides of the equation in order to try to come to some agreement.

I have to tell you, Mr. Speaker, as I watched that unfold, it was clear that the government was working with the Third Party and others on these amendments and I must tell you that I was not pleased with what I began to see, because what I began to see is what I have seen in this House in the eight years I have been in here, that people start to take sides. We always have to set up winners and losers. The government and the Progressive Conservative Party decided that it was the interest of the employer community, business community, that was paramount here and regardless of the commitments that it made to widows and made to people in chronic pain, regardless of the fact that we are going to take rights away from injured workers to access appeal, to sue and so on, we were going to accept what was being advocated because it would cost less money.

In 1995, we passed a piece of legislation which asked injured workers and the workers in this province to pay the unfunded liability that was built up through no fault of theirs. Here we were, again, asking a few hundred injured workers to again pay the unfunded liability that still exists, through no fault of their own. I have to tell you, in my own sense of justice and fairness, that just didn't fit. That didn't make sense to me. (Applause)

I understand and appreciate, as do all members of my caucus, concerns about rates increasing. No question about that, and what that does to the competitiveness of businesses in the Province of Nova Scotia. We responded to that and the members of our select

[Page 5789]

committee responded to that in their report, but what bothers me and what bothered me is, is there no other solution? Is there no other way that we can find to deal with these injured workers than by taking it out of their hides? Does it have to be that you have to stack it up, all employers on one side, workers and injured workers on the other side? Then it is a question of power, it is a question of who has the muscle, who has the sway with government, who has the sway with the Third Party, the balance of power supposedly.

We know the Liberals and Tories, who they tend to represent. So we get in here dealing with a piece of legislation where the sides have been drawn. Again you have the Liberals and Tories representing the concerns, I would say, of some to the exclusion of others. (Interruptions) Yes, the Minister of Justice says, Nova Scotians. It is like some Nova Scotians get the ear of this government, while others don't, and some Nova Scotians are winners, some Nova Scotians aren't.

The problem that I have with that is that the employers you talk about and the injured workers that you talk about are all members of the same communities. They are people who work together, who live together, who make contributions to this community, to this society, together. They all deserve to win some and lose some; they all deserve to have access to the government. They all have the right, I think, to feel that they are not being ganged up on every time it comes down to decision making, or it comes down to making choices.

The member for Lunenburg talked the other day about when you come to the riverbank or the edge of the river, or whatever he said, and you have to make a decision. I don't know what he meant. I don't know whether you jump in or you jump over it. I think the point was that you come to the edge of the river and you have to make a decision. I don't know whether there was something chasing him or not.

The point is that it always comes down to a point where a decision has to be made, a choice has to be made. I have to tell you, there are some Nova Scotians, particularly as it relates to workers' compensation, who always feel left out, who always feel that the decision that is finally made, in the final analysis, it goes against them. They get patted on the head and are told, listen, we feel for you, we care for you, we understand this is really tough, but we have to do the responsible thing. Responsible for whom?

I have to tell you that in 1994-95, injured workers were crying, in this gallery and downstairs, and were upset because they were shut out, because forces had ganged up against them and, when the decisions came, they were at the wrong end of the line.

Here we are again in 1999. The crunch comes, all the negotiations that have been happening, all the cooperation that has been happening, we get in this place, and all of a sudden there is a certain group of Nova Scotians who are being shut out. There are only certain people who are meeting with the government and the Third Party in the back rooms,

[Page 5790]

and those are the people who are getting changes to the bill that are advantageous to their interests.

I have to tell you that I don't think that is a good way to govern, quite simply. I think that sets up bad feelings, that sets up winners and losers. We don't want to have people walking around this province who always feel they are on the wrong side, that they are always the losers. They have the right, Mr. Speaker, to be part of the solution and to win some. That is what needs to happen more often in this province. (Applause)

I have to tell you, and I will wrap up here, I just want to say that it almost feels we are not getting anywhere, we are not dealing with things in a responsible manner. We have heard words like compromise and being reasonable and having to make decisions and a perfect world. Nobody is talking about a perfect world. Those injured workers here today have not talked to me about wanting a perfect world, they want a better world, they want some justice. That is all they are asking for. They want to be treated fairly.

When they get a commitment from Ministers of the Crown or from members of this House that they are going to do something, they want them to stand up and do it. They don't want to be shut out, they don't want to feel that this place, this beautiful building on Hollis Street, is only for certain people, only for a certain group of Nova Scotians, those people who have access to the corridors of power, who run around here and give advice to the government about what needs to happen, in the best interests. When they hear people say that well, in a perfect world, that is a code word, Mr. Speaker, for saying we have made a choice and the choice doesn't go in your direction.

It is all about choices. The decisions we make here, the decisions we make, the decisions the Third Party made, are choices they make about what side of the line they are going to be on. Let's not fool ourselves to think that. We are telling injured workers, on one hand, that this is the best we can do and this is the best they can hope for so take it or leave it. It is a piece of legislation that affects the lives of tens of thousands of workers in the province and their families. Mr. Speaker, we should be dealing a little more responsibly with such an important piece of legislation.

It is fine for us to sit here in our comfy seats with our suits on, our fancy clothes and say, well look, we will come back at this in two years time, don't worry. But, the people who have been in my office and the people I know, they are in everybody's office. They are trying to survive today. They don't want to build a palace, they don't want to go out and buy a new Mercedes. They are talking about putting a roof over their head and putting food in the mouths of their children, that is what they are talking about.

[Page 5791]

When we talk about decisions here we are not talking about a perfect world, we are talking about trying to find solutions that don't always leave the same group of people on the outside. That is what we have done this time. That is why we are not going to be in a position to support this bill, Mr. Speaker.

I want to say in conclusion that we cannot continue to govern the Province of Nova Scotia like this. These issues and this legislation are far too important to the lives of Nova Scotians. We can't continue to do this in an ad hoc way. We go through almost a year of discussion on an issue, we bring in a bill, we have all parties working to try to get a compromise and the government brings in a bill and it slaps down amendments to that bill which gutted it, that are only agreed to by two Parties in this House and by one segment of the population out there, Mr. Speaker, completely to the exclusion of those people who are actually affected by the bill. It is awful easy when you are sitting back in your big easy chair, you can say, you know, we cannot afford it. We cannot afford to give these poor little injured workers this money. It is awful easy.

[7:15 p.m.]

I will tell you, when you are on the breadlines, you know, when you are trying to feed your family, Mr. Speaker, I think you would have a bit of a different perspective. That is what I think we have to think about when it comes to making decisions. We have got to stop this winner-loser thing, stop ganging up on people and recognize that we need to find solutions that actually make sense and that are workable in our communities, not for one group of people but for the community as a whole.

Mr. Speaker, I believe if we start to do that, then Nova Scotians will have a reason to be proud of this House instead of feeling as disgusted as they do when they see legislation like this passed.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for third reading on Bill No. 90. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

A recorded vote is being called for.

Are the Whips satisfied?

[The Clerk calls the roll.]

YEAS NAYS

Mr. MacKinnon Mr. Matheson

Mr. Lorraine Ms. Atwell

Mr. MacAskill Mr. K. Deveaux

[Page 5792]

Mr. Gaudet Mr. Holm

Dr. Smith Mr. Chisholm

Mr. M. MacDonald Ms. H. MacDonald

Mr. Downe Ms. O'Connell

Mr. Harrison Mr. Dexter

Mrs. Cosman Mr. Epstein

Mr.C. MacDonald Ms. M. MacDonald

Mr. Montgomery Mr. Estabrooks

Mr. Samson Mr. J. Deveau

Mr. Huskilson Mr. Corbett

Mr. MacEwan Mr. Chard

Mr. Fraser Dr. Bitter-Suermann

Mr. Fogarty Mr. Delefes

Mr. LeBlanc Ms. Godin

Dr. Hamm Mr. J. MacDonell

Mr. Muir Mr. Parker

Mr. Archibald Mr. Pye

Mr. Moody

Mr. Baker

Mr. DeWolfe

Mr. Leefe

Mr. Balser

Mr. Scott

THE CLERK: For, 26. Against, 20.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is carried.

Ordered that the bill do pass. Ordered that the title be as read by the Clerk. Ordered that the bill be engrossed.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, this completes the government's business. I would inform the House that it is now our intention to adjourn until May 18th or sooner, depending on the call of the Speaker. We will inform the Speaker as to when we are ready to come back to the House.

MR. SPEAKER: If I may just make a quick comment on that. If, indeed, you are saying we are coming back before May 18th, then we should have 30 days notice.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: In fact, no later than May 18th.

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MR. SPEAKER: Very well.

Is that agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

We stand adjourned.

[The House rose at 7:20 p.m.]