Assemblée Législative de la Nouvelle-Écosse

Les travaux de la Chambre ont repris le
21 septembre 2017

Hansard -- Wed., June 16, 1999

First Session

WEDNESDAY, JUNE 16, 1999

TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE
PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS:
Transport. & Pub. Wks.: Crombe Rd. (Hants East) - Pave,
Mr. John MacDonell 7287
Commun. Serv. - Family Benefits Payts.: Taxation - Unfair, Mr. J. Pye 7288
STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS:
Educ. - Schools: Information Economy Initiative - Computers Provide,
Hon. W. Gaudet 7288
Econ. Dev. & Tourism - Composites Atl. (Lun..): EH-101 Contract -
Congrats., Hon. Manning MacDonald 7291
GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 3467, Educ. - N.S. Commun. Col.-Ireland Wider Horizons Prog.
(Internat. Fund): Irish Youth (Hfx. [Call Ctrs.] Attendance) -
Commend, Hon. Manning MacDonald 7294
Vote - Affirmative 7295
Res. 3468, Agric. - Oxford Frozen Foods: Econ. Contribution -
Recognize, Hon. E. Lorraine (by Hon. K. MacAskill) 7295
Vote - Affirmative 7295
Res. 3469, Human Res. - Civil Servants: Work - Recognize,
Hon. F. Cosman 7295
Vote - Affirmative 7296
Res. 3470, Educ. - Sc. Fair (Can.-Edmonton 1999):
Strait Region Students - Congrats., Hon. W. Gaudet 7296
Vote - Affirmative 7297
Res. 3471, Bus. & Cons. Serv. - Staff: Commitment - Recognize,
Hon. R. Harrison 7297
Vote - Affirmative 7298
Res. 3472, Environ. - Youth Conservation Corps (N.S.): Anniv. 10th -
Contribution Acknowledge, Hon. M. Samson 7298
Vote - Affirmative 7299
Res. 3473, Health - Cancer Care N.S.: Dedication - Congrats.,
Hon. J. Smith 7299
Vote - Affirmative 7300
Res. 3474, Housing & Mun. Affs. - Habitat For Humanity:
Homes Building [Dart.] - Success Wish, Hon. R. White 7300
Vote - Affirmative 7300
Res. 3475, Commun. Serv. - Continuing Care: Prior Learning Asst. (NSCC)
- Initiative Congrats., Hon. F. Cosman 7301
Vote - Affirmative 7301
Res. 3476, Nat. Res. - Campground Host Prog.: Participants - Thank,
Hon. K. MacAskill 7301
Vote - Affirmative 7302
Res. 3477, Bus. & Cons. Serv. - Water Res. Assoc. (Can.): Effective Mgt.
- Efforts Congrats, Hon. R. Harrison 7302
Vote - Affirmative 7303
Res. 3478, Environ. - Litter: Stop - Responsibility Shared,
Hon. M. Samson 7303
Vote - Affirmative 7304
Res. 3479, Health - Leukemia Research Fund (Can.): Staff & Vols. -
Recognize, Hon. J. Smith 7304
Vote - Affirmative 7304
Res. 3480, Housing & Mun. Affs. - Heritage Ptys. (Prov.): Owners -
Contribution Recognize, Hon. R. White 7305
Vote - Affirmative 7305
Res. 3481, Lbr. - Shaw & Shaw Ltd.: E. Shore Mem. Hosp. (Sheet Hbr.)
- Donation Congrats., Hon. R. MacKinnon 7306
Vote - Affirmative 7306
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS:
No. 121, Gemstone Emblem Act, Mr. D. Dexter 7306
No. 122, Volunteer Benefits Act, Mr. M. Baker 7307
NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 3482, Lbr. - HRM-CUPE (N.S.-Local 13) Negotiations:
Pay Equity - Address, Ms. Y. Atwell 7307
Vote - Affirmative 7308
Res. 3483, NDP (N.S.) - Lottery (N.S.-HQ [C.B.]): Support -
Acknowledge, Mr. G. Balser 7308
Res. 3484, Econ. Dev. & Tourism - Wind Power: Future -
Prediction (Bill Ford)-Heed (Min.), Mr. D. Chard 7309
Res. 3485, Justice - Home Invasions: Minimum Sentences -
Provision Urge, Mr. M. Scott 7309
Res. 3486, NDP (Can.) Leader - Stones Hold: Advice - Take,
Mr. L. Montgomery 7310
Res. 3487, Environ./Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Tar Pits Abandoned:
Clean-Up - Enforce, Mr. W. Estabrooks 7311
Res. 3488, Educ. - Horton HS (G10 Students [3]) Maths. Contest
(Can. & N.S. [1st]) - Success Congrats., Hon. R. Harrison 7311
Vote - Affirmative 7312
Res. 3489, Health - Care: Action Teams - Rename,
Ms. Maureen MacDonald 7312
Res. 3490, Health - Care: Work (Min.) - Recognize, Hon. K. MacAskill 7313
Res. 3491, Nat. Res. - Blomidon Naturalists Soc.: Anniv. 25th -
Congrats., Hon. R. Harrison 7313
Vote - Affirmative 7315
Res. 3492, Educ. - Teaching Excellence (PM's Award [1999]):
Sylvia Gunnery (Park View Educ. Ctr.) - Congrats.,
Hon. D. Downe 7314
Vote - Affirmative 7315
Res. 3493, Prof. Engineers Council (Can.) - William Gates (Hfx.) &
Michael Burke (Hfx.) Honorees: Contributions -
Recognize, Mr. G. Fogarty 7315
Vote - Affirmative 7316
Res. 3494, Educ. - Dal. Tech. (Teaching Excellence Award):
Ken Wilkie (Dart. East) - Congrats., Hon. J. Smith 7316
Vote - Affirmative 7317
Res. 3495, Culture - "Skipper Gabe": Greta Himmelman (Petite Riviere) -
Book Launch Congrats., Hon. D. Downe 7317
Vote - Affirmative 7317
Res. 3496, Chester-St. Margaret's MLA - Health Investment Fund: Support -
True Leadership Show, Mr. P. MacEwan 7318
Res. 3497, Port Royal: Anniv. 400th - Congrats., Mr. L. Montgomery 7318
Vote - Affirmative 7319
Res. 3498, Econ. Dev. & Tourism - IT Dev. (Inv. Co.): Walter Deagle
(Promo. Technologies) - Recognize, Mr. Charles MacDonald 7319
Vote - Affirmative 7320
Res. 3499, Econ. Dev. & Tourism: Export Opportunities -
Encourage, Hon. K. MacAskill 7320
Vote - Affirmative 7320
Res. 3500, Church of the Good Shepherd (Tor Bay): Anniv. 100th -
Congrats., Hon. R. White 7321
Vote - Affirmative 7321
Res. 3501, NDP (N.S.) Leader - Health Care: Improvements -
Opposition, Mr. Charles MacDonald 7321
Res. 3502, Cdn. Heritage - Canada Day Poster Challenge:
Nadine Gaudett (New Edinburgh) - Accomplishment Congrats.,
Hon. W. Gaudet 7322
Vote - Affirmative 7323
Res. 3503, Educ. - Bedford-Sackville Literacy Network: Work -
Acknowledge, Hon. F. Cosman 7323
Vote - Affirmative 7324
Res. 3504, Culture - Stan Rogers Folk Festival (1999): Importance -
Recognize, Hon. R. White 7324
Vote - Affirmative 7324
Res. 3505, Health - Heart & Stroke Fdn.: Waverley Students (G3-6)
Skip-a-Thon - Fund-Raising Congrats., Hon. F. Cosman 7324
Vote - Affirmative 7325
ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS:
No. 1232, Econ. Dev. & Tourism - Techlink: Influence Peddling -
Allegations (John Xidos), Mr. D. Dexter 7325
No. 1233, Econ. Dev. & Tourism - Techlink: B. & L. Friedman -
Relationship, Mr. M. Baker 7327
No. 1234, Econ. Dev. & Tourism - Techlink: Loan - Non-Approval,
Mr. D. Dexter 7328
No. 1235, Econ. Dev. & Tourism - Techlink: Offer (Gov't. [Can.]) -
Approval, Mr. M. Baker 7329
No. 1236, Econ. Dev. & Tourism - Techlink: Lobbyists - List Table,
Mr. D. Dexter 7330
No. 1237, Econ. Dev. & Tourism - Techlink: Negotiations -
Letter (14/01/98), Mr. M. Baker 7331
No. 1238, Econ. Dev. & Tourism - Techlink: Funding -
Knowledge (Date), Mr. D. Dexter 7332
No. 1239, Econ. Dev. & Tourism - BDC: Board - Membership,
Mr. D. Dexter 7333
No. 1240, Econ. Dev. & Tourism - Techlink: Deal - Discussions (Min.),
Mr. M. Baker 7334
No. 1241, Sysco - Clean-Up: PLI Contract - Payment Alleged,
Mr. F. Corbett 7335
No. 1242, Educ. - Hfx. Reg. Sch. Bd.: Class (Primary) Hrs. -
Cuts Effect, Mr. B. Taylor 7336
No. 1243, Nat. Res. - Nat. Gas: Royalty Agreement - Status, Mr. J. Holm 7337
No. 1244, Fin. - Projects: Funding - Plan, Dr. J. Hamm 7338
No. 1245, Fin. - Health Investment Fund: Payback - Revenue Source,
Mr. H. Epstein 7339
No. 1246, Educ. - Hfx. Reg. Sch. Bd.: Class (Primary) Hrs. -
Cuts Intervene, Mr. B. Taylor 7340
No. 1247, Educ. - Budget (1999-2000): Funding Addt'l. - Specify,
Ms. E. O'Connell 7341
No. 1248, Health - Investment Fund: Health Care Providers -
Plans Table, Ms. Maureen MacDonald 7342
No. 1249, Fin. - Gaming Corp.: N.S. Lotto - Estab. Status,
Mr. N. LeBlanc 7343
No. 1250, Commun. Serv. - Black Commun.: Serv. (Task Force Report) -
Finalization, Ms. Y. Atwell 7344
No. 1251, Justice: Jail (Bedford) - Location, Mr. M. Scott 7345
No. 1252, Commun. Serv. - Child Benefit Program: UN - Findings,
Mr. J. Pye 7346
No. 1253, Nat. Res.: Forest Industry - Sustainability, Mr. J. DeWolfe 7347
No. 1254, Commun. Serv. - Disabled Persons: Civil Service -
Employment, Mr. J. Pye 7348
No. 1255, Health - Paramedics/Ambulance Workers:
Contract Negotiations - Stalled, Mr. G. Moody 7349
No. 1256, Bus. & Cons. Serv. - Res. Tenancies: Director - Vacant,
Ms. R. Godin 7350
No. 1257, Health - Emergency Services: Paramedics -
Working Conditions, Ms. Maureen MacDonald 7352
No. 1258, Bus. & Cons. Serv. - Motive Fuel Reg.: Section 15 -
Restore, Mr. B. Taylor 7353
No. 1259, Nat. Res. - Forests: Sustainability - Regs., Mr. C. Parker 7354
No. 1260, Fish. - TAGS 2: Early Retirement Program -
Eligibility, Mr. N. LeBlanc 7355
No. 1261, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Bicentennial Hwy.
(Joseph Howe Dr. Exit): Off-Ramps - Fund, Ms. E. O'Connell 7356
No. 1262, Justice - Crown Prosecutors: Kaufman Rept. -
Recommendations (Human Res.), Mr. M. Scott 7357
No. 1263, Housing & Mun. Affs. - Cooperative Housing: Pilot Project -
Status, Ms. R. Godin 7358
No. 1264, Fin.: Travel Expenses - Study, Mr. B. Taylor 7358
OPPOSITION MEMBERS' BUSINESS:
PRIVATE MEMBERS' PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING:
No. 111, Occupational Health and Safety Act 7360
Mr. G. Balser 7360
Hon. R. MacKinnon 7363
Mr. F. Corbett 7366
Mr. M. Baker 7367
Mr. P. MacEwan 7369
Mr. Kevin Deveaux 7369
No. 118, Motor Vehicle Act 7373
Mr. M. Scott 7373
Hon. R. Harrison 7375
Mr. Kevin Deveaux 7378
Mr. J. Pye 7380
Mr. M. Baker 7380
Mr. P. MacEwan 7383
ADJOURNMENT:
MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5):
Educ. - N.S. Commun. Col.: Training - Recognition (Internat.):
Mr. Charles MacDonald 7386
Mr. P. Delefes 7388
Mr. G. Balser 7391
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Thur., June 17th at 12:00 p.m. 7393

[Page 7287]

HALIFAX, WEDNESDAY, JUNE 16, 1999

Fifty-seventh General Assembly

First Session

2:00 P.M.

SPEAKER

Hon. Ronald Russell

DEPUTY SPEAKER

Mr. Donald Chard

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Before we commence with the daily routine, I would advise honourable members that the motion under Rule 5 for the late debate today was submitted by the honourable member for Inverness. It reads:

Therefore be it resolved that this government is proud of the growing reputation of the Nova Scotia Community College for providing internationally recognized training and education to Nova Scotians in an expanding field of job opportunities.

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

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants East.

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition from the residents and citizens of Crombe Road in Shubenacadie in Hants East. There is quite a long operative clause so I will try to abbreviate. There are concerns regarding dust in the summertime, mud in the springtime and the overall lack of care by the Department of Transportation. The last paragraph reads:

7287

[Page 7288]

"In conclusion, Crombe Road has been in existence for quite some time and if any road should be considered for pavement: it should be this one. It is seen as a short cut from Mill Village and Indian Brook to the Corridor. With the increase in traffic and the maintenance of the road deteriorated; this road should be paved to alleviate the problems that exist. Crombe Road has changed from being a nice well maintained off-road to a dust filled 'gravel pit' . . . We sincerely hope that the Council . . .", and province, ". . . will seriously consider taking steps to improve the well being of its constituents.".

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

MR. JERRY PYE: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to present a petition to the Legislature, signed by 191 people opposed to family benefits recipients only being able to earn $100 a month if they are single or only able to earn $200 a month if they have dependants, before 75 per cent of their family benefits cheque is taxed. I have affixed my signature to this 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 Education.

HON. WAYNE GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to rise in the House today and give members an update on the Information Economy Initiative. Over the next two years the IEI will put thousands of computers and other technology at the fingertips of students, teachers and other community members across Nova Scotia. (Applause)

It is, without question, the largest single investment in technology in Nova Scotia history. Since it was announced, many Nova Scotians have devoted their time and energy to make it become a reality. For example, Mr. Speaker, in February we connected the last of our 460 schools to the Internet. This was no small feat, considering we are only the second province in Canada to achieve this.

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Mr. Speaker, starting this week, I am pleased to say that the first of more than 6,000 computers will begin arriving at the 181 junior and senior high schools in the province.

Mr. Speaker, to deliver the Intel-based technology used in 80 per cent of our schools, the province has selected MicroNet Information Systems. MicroNet was the number one choice of the evaluation team, which included representatives from our seven school boards.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to take this opportunity to thank the school boards for participating in this project. Their assistance was invaluable and I know that they will continue to be involved every step of the way as we bring this technology into classrooms over the next two years.

One of the highlights of the MicroNet proposal we were most impressed with, Mr. Speaker, was their Team Nova Scotia approach. To form Team Nova Scotia, MicroNet joined forced with some of the province's best-known and most-qualified information technology providers, companies like Silicon Island/MacKenzie College of Cape Breton; Innovative Computer Systems of New Minas; Alliance Computer Systems of Sydney; and Instructor Aids of New Minas.

Each company is successful and innovative in its own right, but together they create an IT powerhouse right here in Nova Scotia. The fact that the winning proposal is a team of Nova Scotia companies shows we are already leaders in this field. MicroNet and their partners have promised economic benefits in every region in the province, Mr. Speaker.

I want to say we would have liked to have the technology in the classroooms earlier, but when you are dealing with a project of this size, it pays to take your time and to examine all your options, Mr. Speaker. We did not want to rush in without making sure we got the best deal for Nova Scotia and the best technology for students. I stand here today and say I am confident that MicroNet will deliver what is expected and more.

Technology aside, this announcement is about working together, about building partnerships where everyone benefits. Our students benefit from integrating technology into the curriculum. Our educators benefit from additional training and professional development opportunities. Mr. Speaker, we all benefit when Nova Scotia companies hire Nova Scotians to do the job.

In closing, Nova Scotia's economy is stronger than ever before and we are keeping it that way by investing in our young people, our rural communities and our economic sectors with real growth potential. The Information Economy Initiative is one example of this commitment. It supports the development of the IT industry which creates jobs and also gives our young people the tools they need to prepare to fill these jobs when they leave school.

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So, together with Team Nova Scotia, we are providing young Nova Scotians with the tools they need to work, lead and prosper in a knowledge-based economy, Mr. Speaker. Thank you. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

MS. EILEEN O'CONNELL: Mr. Speaker, oh my, oh my. If I were a person who was ever speechless, and I am not, I would be speechless now.

Mr. Speaker, this is a good initiative. It is, but you know it was a good initiative the first time the minister announced it. I was there at the big swashbuckling, on-line, real-time press conference up at Dalhousie, but it was so long ago, I can barely remember it now.

Now, in the intervening months, and perhaps years, the minister has announced it again and he announced that he was going to announce it in the House. Monday seemed to be his favourite day and when asked in the House, he would promise us Mondays. Today is not Monday but, nonetheless, here it is again.

I will say again, it is a good initiative, but it was good the first time and it was okay the second time and it was kind of all right the third time, but give us a break. The one thing that I have to say about all of this is it makes me wonder what's coming down the pipe in all our lives, if the government has to announce, re-announce, re-announce, recycle, reuse the same announcement over and over again. Thank you, Mr. Speaker. (Applause)

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

MR. GORDON BALSER: Mr. Speaker, thank you for the opportunity to rise today and respond to the minister's announcement involving the Information Economy Initiative. I thank the minister too for making the comments available prior to the opening of the House.

In recent weeks, this government has certainly been awash in a sea of good-news announcements, one after the other. It gives one pause to wonder. If memory serves me, this was such a good announcement that it has been announced before, so truly, a recycled initiative.

The other question is that I do not doubt that the IT equipment will be welcomed in the schools across Nova Scotia. It is much-needed, but the problem is, it comes at a cost. The problem is that this announcement is made at the same time that school boards across this province are announcing that they will have to reduce staff in order to meet budget commitments. So, the reality is, on one hand they are announcing computers for classrooms and, at the same time, they saying that we cannot balance budgets without removing teachers from the classrooms. So, the reality is, you may have a classroom with 40 kids, a computer and 1 teacher. Is that effective use of dollars for education? One has to wonder.

[Page 7291]

This is not meant to be an attack on Team Nova Scotia who put forward this initiative because it truly is a good initiative. It involves stakeholders who have a commitment to IT and a genuine knowledge of the industry. So, their efforts are to be applauded. What is to be questioned is whether or not, at this particular juncture, it is appropriate spending of scarce resources to benefit 181 schools in the province, whereas countless others will be forced to do without. Once again, on one hand, a recycled announcement that contains some good news for some, but at the expense of others. Thank you. (Applause)

[2:15 p.m.]

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

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, to you and through you to all members of the House, in the west gallery, there is an individual who has worked and served this province extremely well for a number of years. He worked as the agricultural representative out of the former office in the Musquodoboit Valley for the Hants East and Musquodoboit Valley areas. This is an individual whose contribution went well beyond the boundaries of that geographical area. Even today, when I am out and about at various community events, I still run into this individual. He participates as much as he can. I think most of the communities don't realize the contribution that this individual has made, but certainly I know the agricultural community has. Recently he was honoured for his service by the Association of Agrologists of the province.

I would like to ask Mr. Gordon Crowe to stand please and receive the warm welcome of the House. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Economic Development and Tourism.

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, before I deliver this speech, I would like to apologize to the members opposite for not providing them with a copy of it. I was waylaid on the way in here and didn't get a chance to get it copied.

It is a good news story. I would like to invite members of this House of Assembly to join me in congratulating a Nova Scotia company on a very exciting success. Composites Atlantic of Lunenburg has just secured a contract to manufacture sponsons for Cormorant EH-101 helicopters. (Applause) Sponsons are something like fenders on a car, chambers made of advanced composite materials that the aircraft landing gear fits into.

Mr. Speaker, the total value of this contract is expected to reach $15 million over seven years. It will create 10 new jobs at the company's Lunenburg plant and another 20 indirect jobs through sub-contracting. This is the first contract for a Nova Scotia company for the search and rescue fleet.

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Mr. Speaker, Composites Atlantic will start by manufacturing the sponsons for Canada's 15 Cormorant Search and Rescue helicopters. That order is worth $2 million. The company will also supply sponsons for all future EH-101 helicopters, including those destined for the British Royal Air Force and the Italian Navy. Those contracts are expected to reach at least $13 million over the next five to seven years.

This contract reflects well on Lunenburg. It reflects well on Nova Scotia's aerospace industry, and of course, on the management and the workers at Composites Atlantic. An executive with GKN Westland Helicopters, one of the partner firms in Team Cormorant, says that Composites Atlantic won the contract by proving it has the technical capabilities, the professionalism and the competitiveness to do the job better than anyone else. This contract is an international endorsement of the capacity and talent of our local industry.

My department has supported this company over many years. That support continues to pay off. We intend to build on this success, to work on other opportunities for Nova Scotian companies. In the meantime, I would like to invite all of the members of the House to join me in extending our warmest congratulations to the workers and management at Composites Atlantic. Thank you. (Applause)

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

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, I would like to take the opportunity on behalf of our caucus to extend congratulations to Composites Atlantic on their success in this regard. We in the New Democratic Party have no doubt whatsoever about the ability of businesses in Nova Scotia to compete with any in the world. They have the talent and the imagination and the abilities to compete in this sector and in many others. We would like to offer our congratulations to them and to say that we look forward to their success in the future. Thank you. (Applause)

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

MR. GORDON BALSER: Mr. Speaker, it is truly an honour and a privilege to rise in the House today to offer congratulations to Composites Atlantic for their contract announcement. It is truly a good news announcement for the company and for Lunenburg and really for Nova Scotia aerospace industry and the province at large. Whenever a Nova Scotia company has the ability to secure a contract in a very large competition, it is something that benefits all the residents and should be a source of pride to every Nova Scotian. Nova Scotian companies can compete nationally and internationally, and size and location is no longer a factor. This is, in fact, the first contract a Nova Scotian company has been awarded for the search and rescue fleet and we hope that it will open the door for more contracts and greater opportunities down the road.

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I have risen in the House on a number of occasions to raise the issue of what this government has done to support the aerospace industry in this province and, in fact, to question the minister as to why his department has not done more to ensure that the Cormorant helicopter contracts do come to Atlantic Canada. In fact, overall the contracts represent $25 million worth of business for Nova Scotians if we are able to access the contracts that are made available, so it is very important that this first step be taken.

As everyone will no doubt remember, Composites Atlantic was a recent recipient of the Export Development Award and we honoured them in the House here on that day. It certainly is truly rewarding to see their name appear again and the fact that they have won this significant contract. The other thing that is interesting to note is that the contract was awarded without any real direct effort on the part of the government. They went out and got the contract on their own. It is satisfying too that Composites Atlantic won the contract because of "their capabilities, their professionalism, and the fact that they are competitive and can do the job better than anyone else." So I would add congratulations to the management and the employees of that company because it is their hard work and efforts that have made it possible for all of Nova Scotia to benefit from this contract. Thank you. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Lunenburg.

MR. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, it is my very distinct pleasure to rise as the member for Lunenburg to congratulate Composites Atlantic. This is an outstanding company centred in the Town of Lunenburg, a company whose leadership in the aerospace industry in Nova Scotia is second to none.

Composites Atlantic is fortunate to have as its executive vice-president, Maurice Guitton. As my colleague, the honourable member for Digby-Annapolis, mentioned, Mr. Guitton won the Export Development Award very recently. Mr. Guitton and the company are an example in Nova Scotia of what we can do. That company has a tremendously hard-working, well-educated, efficient workforce drawn from the very hard-working people of Lunenburg County who, given a chance to compete on the international field, have done more than compete, they have competed successfully.

I have had the great pleasure to have a number of tours of that plant and that plant is second to none, Mr. Speaker. It provides a first-class basis for that company to compete on the world market. So we have in that company good leadership, outstanding products, a good plant and a tremendously hard-working workforce, and those are the kinds of things that we in Nova Scotia have to rely on in pushing forward, because the jobs that are there today are but a small example of what we could have in this province if we truly maximize our potential. The people at Composites Atlantic deserve a tremendous amount of praise for what they have accomplished. They have demonstrated that you do not have to be in New York City to be successful in the world economy, that you can compete successfully from Lunenburg, Nova

[Page 7294]

Scotia, or from Halifax, Nova Scotia, or from Sydney, Nova Scotia, if you have the leadership and the technology.

It is incumbent on this government and any government of Nova Scotia to provide the leadership to ensure that our companies can compete on the world market. Thank you. (Applause)

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Economic Development and Tourism.

RESOLUTION NO. 3467

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

Whereas the Nova Scotia Community College is partnering with the International Fund for Ireland Wider Horizons Programme to train 20 Irish students as teleservice agents; and

Whereas the recent demand for teleservice agents in Northern Ireland has provided an excellent opportunity for young people from Northern Ireland, along with youth from the Republic of Ireland, to interact with each other in a neutral learning environment; and

Whereas these youth are in Halifax to study Canadian best practices in call centres, as well as job shadowing;

Therefore be it resolved that this House commend our Irish youth in the gallery for learning the benefits of tolerance and diversity while developing their effective and highly marketable skills and wish them great success in their future endeavours.

Mr. Speaker, I would like on behalf of the House to welcome the students and their hosts here today.

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

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried. (Applause)

The honourable Minister of Natural Resources.

RESOLUTION NO. 3468

HON. KENNETH MACASKILL: Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the honourable Minister of Agriculture and Marketing, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas 1999 marks the seventh year the elite of Japan's food industry has visited Nova Scotia to learn more about our world-class agricultural sector; and

Whereas on June 7, 1999, I had the opportunity to speak with these food industry executives from Japan at Oxford Frozen Foods in Oxford, Nova Scotia; and

Whereas 20 years ago, Oxford Frozen Foods was the first company to ever begin exporting wild blueberries to Japan;

Therefore be it resoled that this House recognize Oxford Frozen Food's contribution to Nova Scotia's economy and extend our congratulations to all producers who are selling Nova Scotia grown products around the world.

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 Minister of Community Services.

RESOLUTION NO. 3469

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

[Page 7296]

Whereas for the first time, Nova Scotia is officially participating in Public Service Week from June 13th to 19th; and

Whereas more than 7,500 civil servants proudly serve Nova Scotians every day providing services directly to the public, as well as working behind the scenes developing policies and programs; and

Whereas these men and women delivering provincial public services are seen as the face of government in their communities;

Therefore be it resolved that the House take this opportunity during Public Service Week to recognize the important work done every day by the province's civil servants and extend our thanks to them for their commitment to public service and to the communities in which they live.

Mr. Speaker, I am asking 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 Minister of Education.

HON. WAYNE GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, on an introduction to you and through you to all members of the House, we have two special guests in our east gallery. I would like to introduce them and then ask them to stand to receive the warm welcome of the House. With us this afternoon we have, Mr. Ray Courtney, President of MicroNet Information Systems and along with him we have Mr. Calvin Wadden, Vice-President and General Manager of MicroNet Information Systems. I would ask them to rise and receive our warm welcome. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Education.

RESOLUTION NO. 3470

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

[Page 7297]

Whereas students from three schools in the Strait region brought home national recognition and prizes from the Canada-wide Science Fair in Edmonton last month; and

Whereas Stephanie MacDonald and Devon Gillis of Whycocomagh Consolidated, Lindsay Edmonds of Dr. John Hugh Gillis Regional School, and Guysborough Academy's Stacy England and Jennifer Brow, were all recognized for their projects; and

Whereas 650 students with 450 projects from across Canada competed at the science fair;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate the Strait region students for their hard work and their well-deserved national recognition.

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 Minister of Business and Consumer Services.

RESOLUTION NO. 3471

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

Whereas the most recent Customer Satisfaction Survey conducted by the Department of Business and Consumer Services reports positive gains in service delivery; and

Whereas the overall customer satisfaction was rated at an all-time high of 88.8 per cent, with staff scoring over 90 per cent in helpfulness, friendliness, and providing knowledgeable and efficient service; and

[Page 7298]

[2:30 p.m.]

Whereas the steps to improve service delivery and customer satisfaction to all Nova Scotians are clearly working;

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize Business and Consumer Services staff for their focus and commitment to continuously improving the way government services are delivered to the people of this province.

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 Minister of the Environment.

RESOLUTION NO. 3472

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

Whereas the Department of the Environment recognizes the importance of investing in our youth and at the same time investing in the future of communities across the province; and

Whereas the Nova Scotia Youth Conservation Corps program celebrates its 10th Anniversary this year, with more than 200 young people assisting 40 communities from Capstick to Yarmouth; and

Whereas these young people actively support projects that help the environment and the economy;

Therefore be it resolved that this House acknowledge the contribution these young people are making to the environment and the many project partners that have made this program the success that it is.

[Page 7299]

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 Minister of Health.

RESOLUTION NO. 3473

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

Whereas Cancer Care Nova Scotia was created in 1998 to enhance and strengthen cancer services in the province; and

Whereas on June 15, 1999, Cancer Care Nova Scotia announced its provincial action plan, including the creation of a patient/survivor network and a patient navigation project to help patients gain easier access to cancer information and services; and

Whereas Cancer Care Nova Scotia is committed to working with its health care partners in the system, volunteers, cancer patients and survivors to improve the quality of cancer care and the efficient delivery of the care for Nova Scotians;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate Dr. Andrew Padmos, Commissioner of Cancer Care; Peggy Davison, the Chair of the Cancer Care Nova Scotia Board; board members and staff who are dedicated to supporting and assisting cancer patients and their families.

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

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 7300]

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Housing and Municipal Affairs.

RESOLUTION NO. 3474

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

Whereas Habitat for Humanity, a non-profit organization, will help 10 Nova Scotia families become homeowners by building 10 homes in Dartmouth the week of July 11th; and

Whereas Habitat for Humanity, not only builds homes for families in need, but builds friendships and partnerships as volunteers and sponsors such as Housing and Municipal Affairs work together towards a common goal; and

Whereas members of this Legislature and the public can get involved by making a donation or in the actual building of these homes;

Therefore be it resolved that this House wish the participants well and that they have good weather the week of July 11th to July 16th.

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 Minister of Community Services.

[Page 7301]

RESOLUTION NO. 3475

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

Whereas cooperation by government departments with other departments as well as with community agencies and educational institutions is increasingly encouraged for the benefit of Nova Scotians; and

Whereas the Department of Community Services has recently introduced training standards, including provision for Prior Learning Assessment, for direct care staff who work in the continuing care sector under the mandate of the department; and

Whereas the department collaborated with the Nova Scotia Community College in the development and the implementation of a curriculum to meet the training standards;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate all those involved on the success of this initiative.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Natural Resources.

RESOLUTION NO. 3476

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

Whereas all provincial parks have now opened for the enjoyment of Nova Scotians and visitors; and

[Page 7302]

Whereas we have expanded our Campground Host Program to include new parks and hosts; and

Whereas the hosts enhance our parks with information and support for campers and help us improve our parks;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of House join me in thanking the many hosts who are participating in this service and encourage others who are interested to join.

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 Minister of Justice.

RESOLUTION NO. 3477

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

Whereas the Canadian Water Resources Association is made up of individuals and organizations from the private and public sectors: scientists, academics, students and water resource professionals, all dedicated to the effective management of Canada's water resources; and

Whereas this association increases public awareness about our valuable resources through education campaigns, conferences and policy reviews; and

Whereas from June 22nd to June 25th, Nova Scotia will be hosting the 52nd Annual Conference of the Canadian Water Resources Association, focusing on effective partnerships of our water resources into the next millennium;

Therefore be it resolved that we, as members of this Assembly, congratulate the Canadian Water Resources Association for their tremendous efforts to maintain and protect this valuable resource that we, as Canadians, often take for granted and encourage all

[Page 7303]

participants in next week's conference to continue forging valuable partnerships to protect our water resources.

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 Minister of the Environment.

RESOLUTION NO. 3478

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

Whereas the Nova Scotia Youth Conservation Corps conducted a province-wide litter study aimed at better understanding the composition of litter; and

Whereas the province is using results from that survey to develop a litter abatement strategy aimed at reducing both litter and illegal dumping in Nova Scotia; and

Whereas the strategy will rely heavily on awareness and education with enforcement and stewardship also playing an important role;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize that individuals, industry and government all share a responsibility to stop the litter that is hurting the ecology and beauty of our province.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 7304]

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Health.

RESOLUTION NO. 3479

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

Whereas June is Leukemia Awareness Month; and

Whereas Nova Scotia has participated in the awareness campaign by raising a flag in Halifax to draw attention to the disease and the importance of research; and

Whereas due, in part, to the dedicated Canadian scientists and the Leukemia Research Fund of Canada, 70 per cent of affected children are now cured and more than one-half of adults reach remission lasting one to five years or longer;

Therefore be it resolved that this House thank and recognize the staff and volunteers of the Leukemia Research Fund of Canada and the scientists dedicated to finding a cure and encourage Nova Scotians to give generously in support of this cause.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver 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 Minister of Housing and Municipal Affairs.

[Page 7305]

RESOLUTION NO. 3480

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

Whereas heritage properties are an integral part of our communities; and

Whereas in the past year, the Department of Housing and Municipal Affairs has added 11 properties to the Provincial Registry of Heritage Properties; and

Whereas this addition brings the total number of registered heritage properties across the province to 243; and

Whereas these properties are cared for and maintained by their owners for the enjoyment of all Nova Scotians and visitors to our province;

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize the important contribution made by the owners of provincial heritage properties, a contribution which fosters a sense of pride in our culture, our heritage and province.

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 Lunenburg on an introduction.

MR. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, I have an introduction. There is a gentleman in the west gallery who I would like to introduce to the House today and that is Mr. Donald Zwicker. He is a Councillor for the Municipality of the District of Lunenburg and he is here with us in the House today. I would like, through you, to introduce him to all members of the House. I would ask Mr. Zwicker to stand and receive the acknowledgement of the House. (Applause)

[Page 7306]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Labour.

RESOLUTION NO. 3481

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

Whereas workplace health and safety is a shared responsibility; and

Whereas when the stakeholders work together, they can influence positive change; and

Whereas Shaw & Shaw Limited recently donated $35,000 to the Eastern Shore Memorial Hospital, in Sheet Harbour, honouring a pledge made when they were awarded a contract to coat pipe at a Sheet Harbour plant;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate the management and employees of Shaw & Shaw for their generous donation to this provincial health facility.

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

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Pictou West, on an introduction.

MR. CHARLES PARKER: Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to rise today to welcome to our House the Grade 5 class from the Scotsburn Elementary School, in Scotsburn, Pictou County. They are on a year-end trip, and they are visiting our historic Legislature today. With them is their Principal, Gerry Punke; teacher, Catherine Horton; and parents, Robyn Landry, Valerie Ward, Edna Langille and Kathie Ryan. I would ask them to rise and for the House to give them a warm welcome please. (Applause)

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

Bill No. 121 - Entitled an Act to Declare Agate to be the Gemstone Emblem of Nova Scotia. (Mr. Darrell Dexter)

[Page 7307]

Bill No. 122 - Entitled an Act to Provide Benefits to Certain Volunteers. (Mr. Michael Baker)

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

The honourable Minister of Transportation and Public Works, on an introduction.

HON. CLIFFORD HUSKILSON: Mr. Speaker, to you and through you to all members of the Legislature, I would like to introduce some constituents from Shelburne. We have Paul Branscombe, Shirley Hinton, Ruth Waters and Francis Campbell. Would you please stand and receive the welcome of the House. (Applause)

NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Preston.

RESOLUTION NO. 3482

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

Whereas the Nova Scotia Union of Public Employees Local 13 is currently in negotiations with HRM for their first collective agreement since amalgamation in April 1996; and

Whereas the majority of their members, because of the provincial government's wage freeze and prohibition on collective bargaining, have not had an increase in salary since 1995; and

Whereas the majority of Local 13 members are women - 61 per cent - and whose salaries are lower than those of other HRM units, which are predominantly male;

Therefore be it resolved that the HRM be urged to negotiate a fair wage settlement which addresses the issue of pay equity.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 7308]

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. 3483

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

Whereas the Minister of Finance has stated that as of Wednesday, all bets are off on the location for Nova Scotia's very own lottery headquarters, with the odds-on favourite site being Cape Breton; and

Whereas such political high-rollers as the Minister of Economic Development and Tourism and the Minister of Labour have indicated that their money is down on a Cape Breton location; and

Whereas the lotto mania, which has swept through the Liberal caucus, appears now to have converts among the members of the Official Opposition, including the member for Cape Breton The Lakes;

Therefore be it resolved that the NDP acknowledge the truth that politics does indeed make for strange bedfellows.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for waiver.

[2:45 p.m.]

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Dartmouth South.

[Page 7309]

RESOLUTION NO. 3484

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

Whereas wind is the fastest-growing energy source in the world, with a 25 per cent increase in electrical generation per year in the 1990's; and

Whereas Germany, the world's largest wind power consumer, has created 10,000 new jobs in the industry since 1990, and sales of solar electric units in the United States reached $850 million in 1997; and

Whereas the Minister of Economic Development and Tourism recently expressed scepticism about the importance of sustainability in our economy;

Therefore be it resolved that the minister heed the words of Bill Ford, Chairman of the Ford Motor Company, who has predicted the demise of the internal combustion engine and stated that, "There is a rising tide of environmental awareness . . . Smart companies will get ahead of the wave. Those that don't will be wiped out.".

Mr. Speaker, I seek waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cumberland South.

RESOLUTION NO. 3485

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

Whereas home invasions in the Province of Nova Scotia have become too often a familiar occurrence; and

Whereas senior citizens of Nova Scotia are depending upon the criminal justice system to ensure that they are safe in their homes; and

[Page 7310]

Whereas 1999 is the International Year of Older Persons and today, June 16, 1999, being Senior Citizens Day;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Justice urge the federal Minister of Justice to include a provision in the Criminal Code of Canada that would provide for minimum sentencing for perpetrators of home invasions.

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 Annapolis.

RESOLUTION NO. 3486

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

Whereas the Leader of the federal New Democrats saw fit to attack the performance of other Party Leaders at an NDP pep rally this past weekend; and

Whereas this comes in light of recent events in her Party, including the resignation of MP Chris Axworthy and the banishment of Svend Robinson to the back benches with MPs Peter Mancini and Michelle Dockrill; and

Whereas recent embarrassing election defeats has prompted numerous newspaper editorials to wonder if the NDP are a washed-up political force;

Therefore be it resolved that before throwing stones at other Party Leaders, the Leader of the federal NDP take the sound advice of the old saying: Physician, heal thyself.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect.

[Page 7311]

RESOLUTION NO. 3487

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

Whereas recently two seven-week-old Digby County puppies almost died when they were trapped in an old tar pit believed to have been abandoned by the Department of Transportation; and

Whereas quick intervention on the part of a Digby County couple, a local veterinarian and his staff saved these puppies' lives; and

Whereas abandoned tar pits such as this one also pose a danger to children and to the environment;

Therefore be it resolved that the Environment and Transportation Ministers act at once to enforce an environmental clean-up of all abandoned tar pits in this province so they pose no further danger and unnecessary cruelty and pain.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Justice.

RESOLUTION NO. 3488

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

Whereas a team of three Grade 10 students of Horton High School in Greenwich placed first in Nova Scotia in a mathematics contest, and were awarded the right to represent their province and their school at a national mathematics competition; and

Whereas Jeremy Nicholl, Jon French and Crystal Faulkenham collectively went on to place within the top 15 per cent in the country at the Canadian mathematics competition sponsored by Waterloo University; and

[Page 7312]

Whereas Jeremy Nicholl individually placed 23rd out of more than 25,000 students and both Jeremy and Jon French have been invited to move on to the international level of competition;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Jeremy Nicholl, Jon French and Crystal Faulkenham on their achievements and acknowledge that they have made their teachers, their school, their classmates, and indeed, their province proud.

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 Halifax Needham.

RESOLUTION NO. 3489

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

Whereas yesterday the Minister of Health announced his third action team on health care; and

Whereas these action teams have been assembled to come up with a plan for health care, a plan which the minister doesn't yet have; and

Whereas the minister's frantic efforts to assemble action teams with neither rectify six years of inaction on the part of this Liberal Government in health care, nor the utter absence of a plan to rationalize the $600 million mortgage;

Therefore be it resolved that the minister rename these action teams planning teams and finally admit that he has no plan, he never had a plan and that action without a plan is a sure way to waste $600 million.

[Page 7313]

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Natural Resources.

RESOLUTION NO. 3490

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

Whereas earlier this week our Liberal Government announced plans to purchase a new $1 million CAT scanner for the Cape Breton Health Care Complex which will complement another one already in use; and

Whereas this news has been welcomed by all residents of Cape Breton Island, including my constituents of Victoria, as it will mean significantly reduced waiting lists in obtaining non-emergency diagnostic services; and

Whereas this announcement is just one more clear sign of the importance which our government places in providing quality health care for residents of our province;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize this fact and congratulate our honourable Minister of Health for continuing to do a great job in representing the health care interests of all Nova Scotians.

Mr. Speaker, I seek waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Justice.

RESOLUTION NO. 3491

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

Whereas the Blomidon Naturalists Society is celebrating its 25th Anniversary this year, having first met in March 1974; and

[Page 7314]

Whereas the Blomidon Naturalists Society, one of the largest naturalists groups east of Montreal with some 300 members living in the Kings County area, carries out its activities within sight of Blomidon, seeking to understand all of nature from rocks to the stars; and

Whereas the society has been and continues to be instrumental in promoting the love and understanding of nature through such activities as publishing a natural history calendar; a book entitled, The Natural History of Kings County; as well as carrying out the Christmas bird count and the eagle count;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the founders of the Blomidon Naturalists Society, including honorary life members, Sherman Williams, Larry Bogan, Roy Bishop, Merritt Gibson, and the current membership under the leadership of President Randy Milton for their 25 years of sharing their appreciation of nature amongst themselves and the community at large.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

MR. SPEAKER: That is much, much too long.

MR. HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, it has been 25 years.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Finance.

RESOLUTION NO. 3492

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

Whereas Park View Education Centre teacher, Sylvia Gunnery, has been an energetic and enthusiastic educator for 30 years; and

Whereas Ms. Gunnery received the Prime Minister's Award for Teaching Excellence/Certificate of Achievement for this year; and

Whereas this award honours teachers across Canada who have best prepared students for the challenges of a changing society and knowledge-based economy;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate Sylvia Gunnery for this great honour and thank her for her dedication and commitment to our children.

[Page 7315]

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.

HON. ROBERT HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. With respect to my slightly too long but well-deserved 25th Anniversary celebration, I had asked for waiver actually.

MR. SPEAKER: I am sorry.

MR. HARRISON: Could we ask the House once again for waiver on that notice?

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Halifax Bedford Basin.

RESOLUTION NO. 3493

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

Whereas two Nova Scotians will be recognized by the Canadian Council of Professional Engineers this weekend in Yellowknife; and

Whereas William Gates of Halifax will be honoured for 42 years of service to the profession of engineering; and

[Page 7316]

Whereas Michael Burke of Halifax will also be honoured for his community service to such organizations as Hope Cottage and the Sir Frederick Fraser School for the Blind;

Therefore be it resolved that this House join with the Canadian Council of Professional Engineers in recognizing the contributions of these two remarkable Nova Scotians.

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 Minister of Health.

RESOLUTION NO. 3494

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

Whereas Dalhousie University is one of the best post-secondary institutions in Canada, with some of the finest professors; and

Whereas each year Dalhousie University honours professors with awards for teaching excellence; and

Whereas this year Mr. Ken Wilkie of Dartmouth East was honoured with the DalTech Award for teaching excellence;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of the House congratulate Mr. Ken Wilkie on his distinguished award and wish him well in the times ahead.

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

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

[Page 7317]

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Finance.

RESOLUTION NO. 3495

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

Whereas Gabriel David Pentz of LaHave had the foresight to record his memories of life at sea on tape; and

Whereas his daughter, Greta Himmelman of Petite Riviere, produced a manuscript from these tapes which will be published this month by Stoneycraft Publishing; and

Whereas Skipper Gabe will be launched at a ceremony to be held on July 8, 1999 at the Fisheries Museum of the Atlantic;

Therefore be it resolved that this House extend best wishes to Greta Himmelman for the launch of Skipper Gabe, the life story of her father, Captain Gabriel Pentz.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver 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 Cape Breton Nova.

[Page 7318]

RESOLUTION NO. 3496

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 Nova Scotia Medical Society has shown wise leadership by endorsing this government's Health Investment Fund; and

Whereas the honourable member for Chester-St. Margaret's is a member of the Nova Scotia Medical Society; and

Whereas the honourable member, in this House, has been surprisingly out of step with his colleagues condemning this government's health care plan that will benefit all Nova Scotians;

Therefore be it resolved that the member for Chester-St. Margaret's should show true leadership by getting back in step with his colleagues in the health field by supporting this government's Health Investment Fund and voting for this budget.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Annapolis.

RESOLUTION NO. 3497

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

Whereas beautiful and historic Port Royal is the site of the first permanent European settlement in Canada; and

Whereas, already, a small army of community volunteers is planning a celebration for the 400th Anniversary of Port Royal in the year 2005; and

Whereas the celebration will be a true community effort since planning committees have been busy gathering ideas from the public through meetings and presentations to local organizations;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate the people of historic Port Royal as they prepare for this milestone, and offer special thanks to Sally O'Grady, President of the Port Royal 400th Anniversary Society for her hard work in steering the many volunteers on this project.

[Page 7319]

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 Inverness.

RESOLUTION NO. 3498

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

Whereas the development of information technology is showing great promise for rural Nova Scotia communities looking to diversify away from traditional resource-based industries; and

Whereas the opportunities of this new technology are being felt in Inverness County where entrepreneur Walter Deagle, President of Promotional Technologies, is making an impact on international markets; and

[3:00 p.m.]

Whereas under Mr. Deagle, Promotional Technologies is competing for major contracts to provide web and Internet assistance strategies to companies and organizations;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House recognize Walter Deagle of Promotional Technologies for his work at raising the profile of rural Nova Scotia as a good place to do business in the new economy.

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

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 7320]

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Natural Resources.

RESOLUTION NO. 3499

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

Whereas this week the provincial Department of Economic Development and Tourism is hosting the Cape Breton Export Rally for new and existing exporters across Cape Breton; and

Whereas this two day workshop held at the Gaelic College in St. Ann's is aimed at helping local Cape Breton businesses to identify export opportunities and an approach for seizing them; and

Whereas it is my hope that much will be learned at these sessions which companies can take back and apply to the day-to-day and long-term activities of their operations;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House encourage businesses in their own area of the province to take advantage of export opportunities where feasible and work together in continuing to grow the provincial economy.

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 Minister of Housing and Municipal Affairs.

[Page 7321]

RESOLUTION NO. 3500

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

Whereas this summer, the Church of the Good Shepherd in Tor Bay is marking its 100th Anniversary; and

Whereas for an entire century, the Church of the Good Shepherd has contributed to the spiritual and social well-being of the community; and

Whereas to celebrate this occasion, the church is holding a celebration weekend, June 25th to June 27th, which includes a family fun day, barbecue and special church service;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate the parishioners of the Church of the Good Shepherd for its first 100 years and offer the entire community best wishes on their very special celebration weekend.

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. 3501

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 this House, the NDP Health Critic actually attacked this Liberal Government for listening to the concerns and taking advice from CEOs of the regional health boards and other health care stakeholders; and

[Page 7322]

Whereas the NDP obviously do not trust the judgement of doctors, nurses and hospital administrators, as well as the majority of Nova Scotians who believe in the Health Investment Fund; and

Whereas the only advice the NDP will listen to comes from Ontario labour unions and come-from-away paid campaign workers;

Therefore be it resolved that the Leader of the NDP explain why he is doing everything in his power to kill plans to improve the health care system, while ignoring the wishes of the majority of Nova Scotians.

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 but it is much too long.

The honourable Minister of Education and Culture.

RESOLUTION NO. 3502

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

Whereas Nadine Gaudett, age 10, daughter of Kevin Gaudett and Wanda Sullivan of New Edinburgh, received honourable mention for her entry in the Canada Day Poster Challenge; and

Whereas this Department of Canadian Heritage contest challenged students 18 years old and under to express their ideas of who is a Canadian hero; and

Whereas Lieutenant Governor J. James Kinley presented Nadine with a certificate of achievement for her work in this contest which drew 1,000 entries from across Nova Scotia;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Nadine for her accomplishment in conveying her pride in Canadian heroes and in her country.

[Page 7323]

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 Minister of Community Services.

RESOLUTION NO. 3503

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

Whereas in the 21st Century, literacy skills will continue to be of primary importance; and

Whereas the Bedford-Sackville Literacy Network is one of many community based non-profit organizations which helps adults with literacy; and

Whereas the Bedford-Sackville Literacy Network offers upgrading programs in adult reading, writing, math and computer literacy in a comfortable, non-threatening atmosphere;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House acknowledge the fine work that this and other similar organizations provide to the improvement of adult literacy.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

[Page 7324]

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Housing and Municipal Affairs.

RESOLUTION NO. 3504

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

Whereas the third Stan Rogers Folk Festival and International Festival of Song Writers will take place in Canso on July 2nd, 3rd and 4th; and

Whereas over 40 performers from across Canada, the East Coast and international artists will participate in this three day festival of music and song; and

Whereas over 400 volunteers will contribute their time, talents and efforts toward a successful folk festival highlighting the community involvement of Nova Scotians;

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize the importance of the Stan Rogers Folk Festival and the contribution of many volunteers, and wish them every success for the 1999 Stan Rogers Folk Festival.

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 Minister of Community Services.

RESOLUTION NO. 3505

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

Whereas the Heart and Stroke Foundation depends upon the generosity of Nova Scotians to support their fine work; and

[Page 7325]

Whereas many students from around the province participated in the Jump Rope for Heart Skip-a-Thon, a program designed to promote skipping as a healthy activity; and

Whereas in the spring, 66 students from Grades 3 through 6 at the Waverley Memorial/L.C. Skerry School participated in this Skip-a-Thon and raised pledges totalling approximately $2,500;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate those students for their outstanding support of the Heart and Stroke Foundation.

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.

ORDERS OF THE DAY

ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS

MR. SPEAKER: The time being 3:08 p.m., we will terminate Oral Question Period at 4:38 p.m. (Interruptions) The Premier will not be here. (Interruptions) Does anybody have a question? (Interruptions) Order, please.

The honourable member for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour.

ECON. DEV. & TOURISM - TECHLINK:

INFLUENCE PEDDLING - ALLEGATIONS (JOHN XIDOS)

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, John Xidos, a Cape Breton businessman says prominent Liberals used their influence with the Minister of Economic Development to halt government assistance to his company because he would not give them 1 million shares. Today, the RCMP confirmed that they are conducting inquiries into a complaint of influence peddling as a result of these allegations. My question is to the Deputy Premier. What will the Deputy Premier ask the Premier to do to satisfy Nova Scotians that the Department of Economic Development has not been tainted by the alleged influence peddling scheme?

[Page 7326]

MR. SPEAKER: I think I will allow that question.

HON. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, I will ask the Minister of Economic Development and Tourism to respond to that question.

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, to the honourable member opposite. I think the key word in his preamble was alleged. I might remind this House that no provincial monies have gone into this project at Techlink.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, a senior bureaucrat is on tape telling Mr. Xidos his assistance request is going to Cabinet and that everyone is behind it, Manning is behind it. A few days later, Mr. Xidos refuses a request from friends of the minister for 1 million shares, and suddenly, the government funding falls through. What I want to know is what steps will the Deputy Premier recommend to the Premier to ensure that the minister's fast reversal on this government assistance was not prompted by Mr. Xidos' refusal to give shares to the minister's friends?

MR. SPEAKER: I don't know where this questioning is going, but however, the honourable Minister of Economic Development.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, again to the member opposite. This particular project was indeed a project that was put forward to government many months ago. Yes, officials from my department did talk to, I believe, Mr. Xidos regarding his enthusiasm in the project and I can you that the information we had at that time, that there was a great deal of enthusiasm about the prospect of jobs in Cape Breton as a result of this.

Following that a number of discussions were held with a Mr. Xidos looking for pertinent information as to the validity of this project and as to the certainty of a number of issues that he was talking about in this project. We have received no information to base any go-forward decision on.

MR. DEXTER: Again, Mr. Speaker, my final question is to the Deputy Premier. I would ask what action will this government take to reassure Nova Scotians that the Minister of Economic Development and Tourism was not involved with his friends, the Friedmans, in this alleged influence-peddling scheme?

MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, I believe that the Minister of Economic Development and Tourism could easily answer that question.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, in regard to the question opposite, and I think what he is talking about here is lobbying. I can tell you, in this particular business - Techlink - I have perhaps been lobbied by everybody connected with this particular organization over an extensive period of time, as has the two Opposition Parties in this House

[Page 7327]

been lobbied by the proponent of that particular Techlink operation. The only person who has not lobbied me on this is the Mr. Friedman that he refers to.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Lunenburg.

ECON. DEV. & TOURISM - TECHLINK: B & L FRIEDMAN - RELATIONSHIP

MR. MICHAEL BAKER: My question, Mr. Speaker, is to the Minister of Economic Development and Tourism. Extremely serious allegations have been made that the minister's department has been involved directly or indirectly in improprieties involving the company known as Techlink. I have a very simple question for the minister. Does the minister confirm that Benny and Louie Friedman are friends and supporters of the Liberal Party and close personal friends of his own?

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I certainly will answer that question. In regard to the first part of the question, Louie Friedman has been a friend of mine for 25 years. He has lived in Sydney, as have many other people, as have John Xidos and Martin Chernin and others who have been involved with this debacle, but I can tell you Benny Friedman is a member of the Tory Party and one of the major Tory bagmen.

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the minister. How come, when the Minister of Economic Development and Tourism had allegations of corruption brought to his attention, he failed to take those to the authorities? Why he is covering it up?

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, the way that this matter was brought to my attention was by way of an anonymous letter written by a coward somewhere in Nova Scotia who decided to send a brown envelope to the media discussing this particular issue and other ridiculous assertions in the letter.

All I can tell you, Mr. Speaker, is that John Xidos is a good salesman. Half the business people in Sydney were talked into getting involved in this particular project and there has been a great deal of lobbying going on here. The lobbying that is taking place about alleged corruption is taking place between Mr. Friedman and Mr. Xidos, according to the newspapers, radios and television. The Government of Nova Scotia has no interest or no money in this project.

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, the issue is not whether the Government of Nova Scotia has money in the project. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

[Page 7328]

MR. BAKER: The question is whether the Government of Nova Scotia has no money in the project because of influence being exerted on it. My question for the minister is very simple, does the minister have an explanation why Mr. Chernin comes forward and indicates that he told the minister in February of this year that there was a criminal matter and that he covered it up?

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: First of all, Mr. Speaker, there was not a criminal matter in February that I am aware of or there is not a criminal matter now that I am aware of. What I can tell the honourable member is that Martin Chernin has lobbied me more than any other person in Sydney regarding this particular project to make sure that government funds were accessed, both in the federal government and the provincial government, for a firm that he is a part of and some business associates in Sydney are a part of.

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

ECON. DEV. & TOURISM - TECHLINK: LOAN - NON-APPROVAL

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, a senior bureaucrat at the Department of Economic Development and Tourism informed John Xidos in early 1999 that the Minister of Economic Development and Tourism was very enthusiastic about his business plan. He now says it is too risky. I want to table a letter from the Department of Economic Development offering millions of dollars and stating, "We are most interested in concluding a deal with Techlink . . .".

MR. SPEAKER: Your question, please.

MR. DEXTER: My question to the Minister of Economic Development and Tourism is, why in just a few short weeks did you go from pushing this loan to believing it was too risky a venture?

[3:15 p.m.]

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, first of all, let me answer this way, I didn't make the decision, the Business Development Corporation made the decision. For the record, and to this House, I have never attended a meeting of the Business Development Corporation since I became minister nor have I ever made any decision or had any influence in any decision that the Business Development Corporation has made.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, apparently, the minister's job could be done by a letter carrier. I will table a document from Roy Sherwood, head of the BDC, dated January 7th, in which in exchange for funding, he reserves an option for BDC to purchase 500,000 shares in Techlink. My question for the minister is, the minster says that the company suddenly became

[Page 7329]

a risky venture. If Techlink was such a risky venture, why was the head of the BDC trying to get 500,000 shares in the company?

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, that is an excellent question and he answered himself. The reason that we wanted to get shares in this particular company is the fact that there was nothing here but intellectual property, there were no assets, they were unwilling, we found out shortly afterward, to give the BDC any shared equity in this for the amount of money the taxpayers were going to be asked to forward to this particular company. We simply said we can't go forward unless you can deliver more than your name to this project.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, I will table an independent assessment of Techlink by an American patent and trademark agent. I want to ask the Minister of Economic Development, how could a company whose patent is independently assessed at more than $50 million per jurisdiction be considered a risky venture?

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, it is ironic that the NDP are now supporting gaming operations, export of gambling out of Nova Scotia to the United States. That is a curious position for the NDP to take. I can tell you, the Leader of the NDP was willing to put $1.5 million worth of taxpayers' money in a conversation with John Xidos, because he thought it was a great idea. We don't think it is a great idea, and we are not supporting it.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Lunenburg.

ECON. DEV. & TOURISM - TECHLINK:

OFFER (GOV'T. [CAN.]) - APPROVAL

MR. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of the Economic Development and Tourism. Mr. Minister, if this is such a bad idea, why did your federal Liberal cousins approve a $500,000 letter of offer to that company?

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member opposite didn't tell the first part of that story, that the federal government had originally turned down a request. It was in the last week of the current board meeting of Enterprise Cape Breton that they decided to change their mind and give half the allocation that they were originally asked for to the Techlink corporation. That commitment was based on the fact that they could get money from the provincial government, and they knew, the Enterprise Cape Breton Board were aware of the fact that we were holding it up.

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, if this has been such a bad deal, as the minister indicates, why do the officials in his department, on the radio clip that was played this morning, indicate

[Page 7330]

that the minister fully supported the project and furthermore, indicate that it was guaranteed to be approved?

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, the minister did not indicate any such thing. An employee of my department told a tape-recorded message of John Xidos, I understand if anybody is calling John, it will probably be taped, so watch what you tell him. The fact of the matter is I told him nothing. What Francis MacKenzie of my department was saying was that at this point, this looks like it could be a good project for Cape Breton, in his opinion, and the information that I had at my disposal at that time, I felt it was worth going forward with, at that time. Information that came subsequent to that, because some of the questions we asked were not forthcoming, we then decided that it was best left in the private sector and not involving taxpayers' money.

MR. BAKER: My question to the minister is, he indicates that this was a very tentative deal. There is no question, if you will listen to the tape, Mr. Speaker, what is being indicated. It is a very clear message to the company that their loan has been approved. It is a guarantee. Now the question. The minister is responsible for his department, is he going to stand up and take responsibility for what has been said by his officials or is he going to hide behind them?

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, no, I certainly am not going to hide behind them. I am going to tell you that at that time the project looked like it was worth pursuing until we found out additional information about licensing; in fact, whether it was even legal or not. We still don't have an opinion to say that it is legal. We still don't even have an opinion to know whether John Xidos is even allowed in the United States, himself, with his equipment. We don't even have that determined yet.

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

ECON. DEV. & TOURISM - TECHLINK: LOBBYISTS - LIST TABLE

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Economic Development has said that he was lobbied with respect to the Xidos proposal to the BDC. You know there is a bill before the House with respect to lobbyist registration but presently no rules exist. My question to the Minister of Economic Development is, will you table a list of who lobbied you on this project and when?

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I can tell you that the most extensive lobbying came from the chief Tory bagman in Cape Breton, Mr. Martin Chernin. He has lobbied me ever since this project started. He is very much in favour of this project. I said to Mr. Chernin one day, you are a good lobbyist and in Sydney there are a number of good lobbyists, they come to me all of the time lobbying on behalf of their organizations. Mr. Chernin is no different than anybody else, he was probably the main lobbyist is this whole debacle but I can tell you, we wanted facts not lobbyists.

[Page 7331]

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, the minister is now telling the public that in response to this lobbying an official of his department, Francis MacKenzie, went too far in his zeal for jobs in Cape Breton. My question for the Minister of Economic Development is, are you getting ready to blame the civil servants?

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I would answer the question but it is simply not true, what he states.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, the Department of Economic Development is now under a cloud of suspicion. I would ask the minister what action will you take to prevent this from happening again?

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, here I am finding myself defending why I am not giving taxpayers' money to a gambling operation, this is the height of absurdity in this Legislature. The allegations are between one businessman against another businessman saying that they have influence with me. Everybody in Cape Breton wants to have influence with me.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Lunenburg.

ECON. DEV. & TOURISM - TECHLINK: NEGOTIATIONS - LETTER (14/01/98)

MR. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, the minister has stood in his place today and told Nova Scotians how this was really a very tentative deal and how really he didn't know that much about it and it fell apart at the last minute. Then why is there a letter here - and I will table the letter - dated January 14, 1998, indicating that, " . . . we support TLI's plans to establish and implement a comprehensive, short-term Beta test within the province.". Why did they do that if it wasn't a good project?

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, as with most projects in Nova Scotia that we develop we have to go by the information we have at hand, not what might be. In this particular case, we asked specific information of this company regarding some concerns that we had regarding where this project was going. We didn't receive any information. Have no information except for their words that, you trust us with public money and we are going to create all kinds of jobs; we are going to make millions of dollars. Well, I suggest if they can do that they should go to the private sector to get the money.

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, would the minister indicate whether or not he has ever had any discussion with either Mr. Friedman concerning this project at any time including when he was on vacation in Florida with Mr. Friedman?

[Page 7332]

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, no, I haven't had any discussion with him on this project because he is not involved with this particular project and wasn't at that time. I can tell you again and I will reconfirm to this House, I am a friend of the gentleman in question and the proponents of this particular operation know that. I suggest that it is a matter between two business people that is probably going to end up in the courts. If that is the case, so be it. I can tell you that this government is not involved with this particular project in any way, nor do we intend to be involved, as long as I am minister of this department.

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, the minister has an obligation as a Minister of the Crown to disclose all the information in his possession to police authorities and to take responsibility to disclose any criminal wrongdoing to the police so it can be investigated. Will the minister indicate whether or not when he received the anonymous letter, he went to the police authorities himself, told them about this information and allowed them to investigate?

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I get a anonymous letter, unsigned by some coward that sends a brown bag letter around, and he is expecting me to take that to the police - and does not have any identification on it - I can tell you what I did do, I turned this letter over to my solicitor.

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

ECON. DEV. & TOURISM - TECHLINK: FUNDING - KNOWLEDGE (DATE)

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, John Xidos says the Minister of Economic Development was told about the alleged activities of the Friedman brothers. I want to ask the Minister of Economic Development, when did he have an indication that someone was playing a political game with the funding of Techlink?

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, the political games with Techlink started the day they put the proposal. I just finished telling this House that I have had extensive lobbying from partners in that particular operation, including Mr. Xidos, who told me that he had the support of the New Democratic Party and the Progressive Conservative Party and wondered if I would just give tacit support to it and they would get on with providing their partners with the capital to do Techlink. However, they did not answer the questions we wanted and they are not getting any money from this government.

MR. DEXTER: I will table a letter dated May 12th from John Xidos to the Premier. The letter states that ACOA has offered $500,000, but the province has not proceeded with the approved funding because of personal, political agendas. This letter is copied to the Minister of Economic Development and Tourism and asks for a meeting to discuss the issue. I want to know, Mr. Speaker, will the minister will tell us, what did you know about the political games being played and when did you know it?

[Page 7333]

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: As I stated earlier, I knew there were political games being played the day the proposal ended up on our doorstep and was sent on to the BDC. There have been more political games played with this, I think everybody in industrial Cape Breton wants to become a part of this because I mentioned earlier to you, Mr. Speaker, John Xidos is a very good salesman. He has extensive experience in gaming and gambling and clearly of operating VLTs in Cape Breton Island, including gray VLTs in Cape Breton Island over the years. So don't you think that our department has a right to do due diligence on this before we commit any money here?

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, my question is straightforward. Will the minister confirm whether Marty Chernin, a director of Techlink, told him in the Sydney airport, in February, about the Friedman's activities, and will he confirm whether Mr. Chernin told him in May of the existence of the Friedman tapes?

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: The first part of the question, no; the second part, yes. The discussion that was held in May, he informed me that there was a tape, yes, but I will tell you what else he informed me of at that meeting, a short meeting that we had on my way out of Sydney to Halifax. He told me that he wanted this project approved and he was going to go to any lengths to get this project approved, including people who are trying to obstruct it. He was going to go to any lengths; that is what he said to me and that is what he meant.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour on a new question.

ECON. DEV. & TOURISM - BDC: BOARD - MEMBERSHIP

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, the minister is trying to hide behind a decision of the Business Development Corporation, but the BDC is hardly an arm's length corporation; in fact, the BDC Board of Directors is stuffed with prominent Liberals, like Bill Wade of the Annapolis Valley P3 phase.

MR. SPEAKER: Your question, please.

MR. DEXTER: My question to the minister is, what makes you think anyone will believe that you did not have all 10 fingers in the BDC pie?

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I am not surprised that that would be the attitude of the member opposite, or his Party. There are some distinguished Nova Scotians on the Business Development Corporation Board, and if anybody in this House thinks that I could have some influence over those distinguished gentlemen who are in business in this province - and everybody here knows who they are - then, I am sorry, but I do not take any interest in what the BDC does until it goes to Cabinet for approval and then

[Page 7334]

I am one of the Members of Cabinet who will decide whether or not the government will go forward with it.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, not only is the BDC currently stuffed with prominent Liberals, but we discovered yesterday that this government is proposing to appoint even more prominent Liberals, like Irving Schwartz, to the BDC Board. My question to the minister is, when is the minister going to stop appointing his buddies to watch over the Liberal trough?

[3:30 p.m.]

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, when you talk about the Liberal trough, I don't think you can include people like Leonard Sarsfield or Charlie Smith as people who are in the Liberal trough. They are valued members of the Business Development Corporation. His problem is that there are no NDPs that he can identify on this board. Thank heaven's for that.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, my final question to the minister. Since you and your Liberal cronies are tangled up in this mess at every turn, why should anyone believe anything you say?

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, because this government, through its Business Development Corporation, made a conscious decision not to spend money on a gambling operation which we don't even know is legal.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Lunenburg.

ECON. DEV. & TOURISM - TECHLINK: DEAL - DISCUSSIONS (MIN.)

MR. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, my question to the Minister of Economic Development and Tourism is a very simple question. Have you discussed with either of the Friedman brothers anything involving the Techlink deal, either before the anonymous letter or since?

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: I think the matter may have come up in general discussion in Sydney because everybody in Sydney is talking about this deal. Everybody has been trying to get in on the deal because John Xidos has said, I will make you all millionaires; all you have to do is lobby the government to get some money to start us off; this project will take off and it will be the biggest project in the world. So, I might have discussed it but following the letter, no.

MR. BAKER: My question to the minister is a very simple question. Why do you think that the minister has the largest number of MLA campaign contributions of any member in this House in the last election?

[Page 7335]

MR. SPEAKER: I don't particularly like that question, but if the minister wishes to answer it.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: I guess I am a better politician than he is.

MR. BAKER: Is the minister honestly suggesting that there has not been an impression given by this government that friends of this government will get preferential treatment; whether it is P3 schools, whether it is this project or another, if you are a friend of this government, you get preferential treatment?

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, we didn't give preferential treatment to anybody, we turned this project down.

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

SYSCO - CLEAN-UP: PLI CONTRACT - PAYMENT ALLEGED

MR. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, today I learned a second company has alleged that the Friedman's had asked them to pay out in exchange for a government contract. A director of PLI Environmental, which won an un-tendered contract to clean up Sysco sites, is on tape as saying, we paid the Friedmans to get the job. My question to the Minister of Economic Development is, what do you know about the tape and the alleged payment from your friends, the Friedmans?

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, there seems to be all kinds of tapes floating around here, but I haven't read or heard about that one yet. First of all, the member is saying that there was an un-tendered contract let by the Government of Nova Scotia. The truth is it was an unsolicited proposal to the federal government, not the provincial government, and the provincial government was asked to come in subsequent to that to provide monies to employ unemployed steelworkers at the clean-up of the plant. I am not making any apologies to anybody for that program.

MR. CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, I am sure that the Friedmans showed up at that announcement when it was aired because they are concerned citizens. That tape is now in the possession of the RCMP and on that tape the PLI director talks about the cancelled cheque written to the Friedmans.

MR. SPEAKER: Your question, please.

MR. CORBETT: Can the minister explain what role the Friedmans played in helping PLI get this un-tendered contract?

[Page 7336]

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I have no idea, it was a contract to the federal government. Why doesn't he ask the Friedmans?

MR. CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, I can tell that minister that that cheque was for $250,000 that PLI payed to the Friedmans. Will the minister confirm whether he has any knowledge of the allegations that his friends received $250,000 in exchange for a PLI clean-up contract?

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: First of all, let me say again, Mr. Speaker, that the contract was with the federal government. The contract was with PLI Environmental. If PLI Environmental wanted to pay somebody else some money in that project to help them out with it, it is of no consequence to me. The only money that we put in that project was money to help the United Steel Workers Union, who asked us for money on that project.

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

EDUC. - HFX. REG. SCH. BD.: CLASS (PRIMARY) HRS. - CUTS EFFECT

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I would like to direct my question to the Minister of Education. Parents and teachers met last night with the Halifax Regional School Board over concerns that Primary class time will be reduced this fall three days a week as part of an effort to cut $7.6 million from the board's budget. My question to the minister is simply this. Does the minister agree that less education for young students means a better quality education?

HON. WAYNE GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the honourable member for bringing this question to the floor of the House. As we have seen, one of our government's top priorities has been education. Last year we saw a commitment close to $82 million to education. This year, again, we have provided an additional $60 million to our educational budget. So education is certainly one of the top priorities of our government and will continue to be.

MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, my first supplementary to the minister is essentially this. The minister knows that education is a provincial responsibility, something that shouldn't be passed off to school boards. Is the minister and his Cabinet colleagues, who are on a pre-election borrowing and spending binge, will they provide the Halifax Regional School Board with additional funding rather than risk the future of five year olds who cannot afford a private school?

MR. GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, I am not sure if I understood the member correctly. Did he say that he was against elected school boards in this province?

[Page 7337]

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Yes. (Interruptions)

MR. GAUDET: If that is what he said, Mr. Speaker, I can indicate to you that when you start looking at the funding that we did provide to the Halifax Regional School Board this year alone, we have provided the Halifax Regional School Board with $14 million of additional money, and since 1996-97, the Halifax Regional School Board has been provided with $35 million.

MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Education refuses to listen to parents, students and teachers; he listens to school boards. The Minister of Health listens to regional health board. When is this government going to start listening to everyday Nova Scotians?

MR. GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, I have said, and I will repeat myself, that I will continue, as long as I am the Minister of the Department of Education and Culture, we will continue to work with all school boards across the province, as we have in the past and we will in the future. That is a commitment that I am making again.

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

NAT. RES. - NAT. GAS: ROYALTY AGREEMENT - STATUS

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I would like to direct a question, through you, sir, to the Minister responsible for the Petroleum Directorate. Natural gas is to begin to flow onshore in November yet, this past Monday, the Minister of Economic Development during the Estimates Debate confessed that the Government of Nova Scotia, contrary to what they have been saying, still does not have a formal royalty agreement. So my question to the minister is simply this. Why has your government been misleading Nova Scotians . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order. Order, please.

MR. HOLM: . . . into believing that there is a royalty agreement?

MR. SPEAKER: I don't like that word.

MR. HOLM: Providing the wrong information, then, Mr. Speaker, to Nova Scotians when they have been saying that they had a royalty agreement which the minister confessed on Monday that they did not have.

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Our policy, Mr. Speaker, is the Nova Scotia First Policy. We are making absolutely sure that the agreements that we formalize are agreements that are in the best interests of the people of this province.

[Page 7338]

MR. HOLM: Mr. Speaker, his colleague, the Minister of Finance, is going to be using, supposedly, these royalty monies to pay for the health mortgage. The government has been saying for years . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Your question, please.

MR. HOLM: . . . that you had an agreement. I ask the minister, what is the hold up, what is the problem, why don't you have a formal agreement, won't your friends in big oil allow you to sign it?

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: I stated to the honourable member opposite the other day that we do have an agreement.

MR. HOLM: If the minister can't remember what he said in the estimates, I will table a copy of his words. In it, he said that they have an interim agreement, but that they do not have a formal agreement. Mr. Speaker, I want to ask the minister quite simply this. Since you and your government have been running around saying that you have a formal agreement on royalties, and now you admit that it isn't true, why should any Nova Scotians believe anything that you or your government are now saying?

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, what Nova Scotians have to worry about here is the possibility of a socialist government which would put a halt to this whole development immediately.

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

FIN. - PROJECTS: FUNDING - PLAN

DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Finance. The government of which this minister is a member has watched over the last four weeks, when this government has made announcements of $221 million on projects. My question for the Minister of Finance, in view of the difficulty that this minister is having in financing health care, how does this minister plan to finance the $221 million on projects announced in the last four weeks?

HON. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, I assume, by the member opposite, that he doesn't want any other department of government to operate except the Department of Health. I disagree.

DR. HAMM: I will continue with the Minister of Health. On March 4th, last year, this minister's Premier made a speech in which he made a number of promises, 170 long-term care beds, DEXA units for the people of Nova Scotia, 80 new specialists to help . . .

[Page 7339]

MR. SPEAKER: Your question, please.

DR. HAMM: . . . solve the health care problems in Nova Scotia. My question to the minister is, why did you not keep the promises of your Premier, that he made last year, before you came out with the list of promises that you made two weeks ago?

HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, the list that the honourable member has outlined has been acted upon. The announcements of the Premier were that of the mandate of a government, and we anticipate that will be fulfilled over the progress of time. We are now announcing a three year plan, based on business plans of regional health boards and non-designated organizations, and we will build on that and incorporate that in the plan. We have announced additional long-term care facilities.

DR. HAMM: Mr. Speaker, I will table this. What I have in my hand is a Liberal ad of over a year ago, prior to the election. It is entitled "Keeping the Budget Balanced and Putting More Money into Health Care - That is the Liberal Plan". My question to the minister is, if that was the Liberal plan last year, where is the Liberal plan for this year?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, we have a Liberal plan. We have developed that from the business plans, as I mentioned earlier, and that is exactly what we have done. We have balanced the budget, departments have been on budget, and we are putting extra money in the health care. That is a special fund called the Health Investment Fund. That is what we are doing.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.

FIN. - HEALTH INVESTMENT FUND: PAYBACK - REVENUE SOURCE

MR. HOWARD EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Finance. Sir, the health fund mortgage is premised on having a secure royalty flow from SOEP, but now we have learned that all that exists is an interim royalty agreement. Will the minister tell us how he can possibly rely on paying back a huge mortgage if his revenue is a complete unknown?

HON. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, in fact they have an agreement in principle. Gas is flowing in five months in this province. That detail will be dealt with over that period of time to finalize the final issues of the agreement. We know we have a royalty regime, it is a generic royalty regime. It is laid out as to how that royalty regime will operate, and that revenue will come into the province.

[Page 7340]

MR. EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, this matter is crucial, the minister is asking Nova Scotians to trust him to deliver the goods. We have to wonder just how wide could the fluctuations in royalty revenues be. Will the minister release the detailed calculations that back up the revenue flow projections from SOEP that his department relied on?

MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, we presented to the member opposite, in fact to both Parties, the royalty regime and the revenue streams of some $2.5 billion over the next 25 year period of which 70 per cent belongs to the federal government and 30 per cent belongs to us. I explained that in detail. They have a schedule of exactly where we are with regard to the royalty regime and the revenue to the province. That was for the year 2000-plus.

[3:45 p.m.]

MR. EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, my final question in fact is for the Minister of Natural Resources. Minister, this question is very crucial. We have to wonder just how low the royalty amount could go. Will the minister agree now not to try to finalize the royalty agreement during an election campaign and step aside until a differently constituted government takes over the negotiations?

HON. KENNETH MACASKILL: Mr. Speaker, maybe if that honourable member will ask me the question when the election is called I will answer it.

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

EDUC. - HFX. REG. SCH. BD.: CLASS (PRIMARY) HRS. - CUTS INTERVENE

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I would like to direct my question to the Minister of Education. Regarding a decision of the Halifax Regional School Board to cut Primary class time, the Progressive Conservative caucus firmly believes this disruptive influence will hurt, not only students but every working family that will have to restructure their lives in terms of work and day care around the needs of a school board he won't control or properly fund. My question is this, will the minister intervene on behalf of students, parents and teachers by establishing a minimum requirement for Primary class time that is fair and equal across the province?

HON. WAYNE GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, to the honourable member. I certainly am ready to make a commitment to him and to all members of the House that we will continue to work with the Halifax Regional School Board as we have in the past. We will, certainly continue to work with them as we have with all school boards across this province. The Halifax Regional School Board has arrived to a significant deficit this year. The Halifax . . .

[Page 7341]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. We are getting into a debate.

MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, the minister didn't come within a potholed country mile of answering that question. Will the minister intervene on behalf of the students, teachers and parents by establishing minimum requirements for Primary class time that are fair and equal across the province?

MR. GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, school boards have the responsibility to make decisions about the education of children within their area. I believe in local decision making by these elected school board members. Again, to the honourable member, as we have done in previous years, last year we provided the Halifax Regional School Board $4.7 million . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley, your final supplementary.

MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, it is a good job it is called Question Period because it certainly isn't answer period. Again I go to the minister, does the minister believe Primary class time should be equal across the province? Does he at least believe we should have a fair standard right across the province for Primary class time?

MR. GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, across this province we have seven elected school boards with the responsibility to look after providing the education to the children within their respective jurisdiction. We will continue to work with all school boards in order to help them provide meaningful responsibility.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

EDUC. - BUDGET (1999-2000): FUNDING ADDT'L. - SPECIFY

MS. EILEEN O'CONNELL: Mr. Speaker, my question too is for the Minister of Education. Despite the government's budget appearing to provide $38.8 million more for public schools, $7.6 million in cuts to the Halifax Regional School Board is the tip of the iceberg. So I want to ask the Minister of Education this question, what amount of this year's total increase is marked for special projects and what amount of the increase can be used for regular educational needs?

HON. WAYNE GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, in last night's debate the honourable member across the floor indicated we had provided the Halifax Regional School Board with, in her words, they had received small change. I can tell her through you to all members of the House, we are providing the Halifax Regional School Board with $14 million of additional funding. So in the eyes of my honourable colleague, if she calls that small change, I think it is a significant . . .

[Page 7342]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Fairview, your first supplementary.

MS. O'CONNELL: Mr. Speaker, last year the department announced Nova Scotia schools would receive a $35.3 million technology boost over three years and there was even more boasting and reannouncing today. My question to the Minister of Education is, how much of this year's announced $38.8 million increase is really last year's and this year's $35 million for technology being announced and reannounced and put in the budget?

MR. GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, to my honourable colleague I can indicate to her and to all members of the House that our government's commitment to education is long term. The work is not over and we will continue to provide additional funding to the school boards as we move in that direction.

MS. O'CONNELL: Mr. Speaker, well, in the meantime, the superintendent of the Chignecto-Central Regional School Board says the real increase in education funding is only $681,000. So my question to the Minister of Education is this, what exactly is your department proposing that boards, like Halifax Regional School Board and Chignecto-Central Regional School Board, do with the extra $4.25 per student for this year?

MR. GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, to my honourable colleague and to all members of the House, when you add up all the dollars across the budget that will benefit all the school boards across this province, it totals close to $59 million. I will table that information for the honourable members of the House.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

HEALTH - INVESTMENT FUND:

HEALTH CARE PROVIDERS - PLANS TABLE

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health. This morning on CBC Radio the Premier was asked how his government came up with the $600 million figure for the Liberal mortgage fund. He replied, it is not our number. It was the number given to us by health care providers.

MR. SPEAKER: Your question, please.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: My question to the minister is, will he table in the House today the detailed plans from these health care providers that the Premier said resulted in a $600 million mortgage?

[Page 7343]

HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, we have a $600 million three year Health Investment Fund, investing in the health care system to stabilize the acute care system. The background analysis that was tabled was part of those figures, the results of business plan analysis with the regional health boards and the NDOs. That is the basis of the decision plus other information relative to the amounts of money available from the federal government.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I really do not understand what this government is trying to hide from Nova Scotians. There is a pattern emerging of a government desperately trying to distance itself from a failing budget. My question to the minister is, why will this government not accept that you are the ones who are responsible for health care, including six years of failures and mismanagement?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, as the Minister of Health, I do accept the responsibility for the quality of care in Nova Scotia and I always have since I have been minister. What is the plan? What is the plan of that honourable member? Does that plan of that honourable member reflect the Saskatchewan plan? Does she want us to close 52 hospitals? Where would we find them here in Nova Scotia? Is that her plan?

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: My final question to the minister is, since this government will not accept any responsibility for borrowing $600 million without any plan, why should Nova Scotians trust them with one more dollar?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, we accept the responsibility and we tabled our plans supported by business plans. I am proud of my Premier when he spoke this morning and he accepted the responsibility. He said where the money was coming from contrary to that honourable member's Leader, who ducked every question on that issue, they have no plan and let's hope they do not copy Saskatchewan.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Argyle.

FIN. - GAMING CORP.: N.S. LOTTO - ESTAB. STATUS

MR. NEIL LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is to the Minister of Finance, responsible for the Gaming Corporation. It has been reported today that the government is set to announce the location of a new lottery establishment, or a new lottery headquarters, here in the province as we are withdrawing from the Atlantic Lottery Corporation. Can the minister give the House a status report as to what exactly is going on with this initiative?

HON. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, it was presented today, through a press release from the Nova Scotia Gaming Corporation, that there will be two sites in regard to dealing with the lottery in the Province of Nova Scotia - one in Cape Breton and one in Halifax.

[Page 7344]

MR. LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, this involves an up-front cost of $17 million. During earlier questioning in this session the minister announced that the consultant's report which showed that the government claims that this will save people in Nova Scotia money, could not be made public because of the fact they had not finalized the decision and were in negotiations. Will the minister today table in the House these reports which he said had to be kept confidential because negotiations were going on? Will he table the report today?

MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, the vice-chairman of the Nova Scotia Gaming Corporation has been very transparent and open about all the issues with regard to the decision we have made. I am sure if the member opposite has a question in regard to the economics of the decision we have made, he is welcome to give her a call and I am sure she will respond.

MR. LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, he is the minister, he has the responsibility and the people of Nova Scotia deserve to have the facts. Let us judge, let them judge whether or not this government is throwing money away into some sort of make-work project or whether this makes sense. Put the information on the table, that is not asking too much.

MR. DOWNE: The member opposite, before he totally gets exercised out of the position here - the reality here, Mr. Speaker, not only is this the right decision for Nova Scotia to be able to provide initial $4 million to the Province of Nova Scotia, but we will have an additional 70 jobs in Cape Breton - 52 jobs in Halifax, as well as 58 jobs around the province, looking after the new corporation, a total of 180 jobs in Nova Scotia, plus we will make more money than we currently are making.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Preston.

COMMUN. SERV. - BLACK COMMUN.:

SERV. (TASK FORCE REPORT) - FINALIZATION

MS. YVONNE ATWELL: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Community Services. In 1996, three years ago, the Minister of Community Services commissioned a task force report to look at services to the Black community. This task force formed after the department pulled the funding from the Black United Front. My question to the minister is, what has happened to that report?

HON. FRANCENE COSMAN: Mr. Speaker, I thank the honourable member opposite for the question, and it is a very good one. There has been a very active committee working across government in response to the initial report that was tabled by the task force. That report and response that they are now putting together should soon be in my hands.

[Page 7345]

MS. ATWELL: Mr. Speaker, since the Black United Front was forced to close its doors, no advocacy agency has been formed to address the issues facing the Black community for the past three years. My question to the minister is, when will the Department of Community Services respond to the 45 recommendations within that report?

MRS. COSMAN: Mr. Speaker, I want to reassure the honourable member opposite that the 45 recommendations made to the department formed the basis of the action committee that we put together, to answer those recommendations in a meaningful way. I am not sure if she has seen the basis on which that committee was structured but I would be happy to provide her with that information. I want to reassure her I am awaiting the results of that work.

MS. ATWELL: The Nova Scotia Black community has waited three years and they have not received a note, as far as I know, regarding the progress of that report, regarding the 45 recommendations to be implemented. So I am going to ask the minister, will any of the 45 recommendations be implemented, or has the report been shelved? I know that they are working on the report but are they working on implementing any of these 45 recommendations shortly?

MRS. COSMAN: I want to again thank the honourable member opposite and I will provide her with the terms of reference and the assurances that there will be an action plan evolving out of the interdepartmental committee's recommendations.

[4:00 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Cumberland South.

JUSTICE: JAIL (BEDFORD) - LOCATION

MR. MURRAY SCOTT: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Justice, and it concerns the proposed site of the correctional facility at Jack Lake. The minister is aware that a site in Burnside was the selection committee's second choice. My question for the minister is this. Why was that site rejected and, given the enormous opposition to the Jack Lake site, why aren't you moving towards the second site that was proposed?

HON. ROBERT HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, there were a certain number of criteria, one of which was, obviously, the cost and accessibility of the land. Others were conditions attached to land. Clearly, the procedure moved from a long list of some 14 sites to a single site selection that we believe is the best site for the new facility.

MR. SCOTT: Mr. Speaker, again, to the minister. The minister is aware that no one is opposed to the Burnside site, but they certainly are opposed to the Jack Lake site. HRM has even indicated that they are prepared to give the land to the province and it is in an industrial

[Page 7346]

park. Ironically, this is not a residential area. There would be no opposition. If the land is still available, will the minister change his plans and locate that in the Burnside Park?

MR. HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, we are well aware of hypothetical questions. The answer to the question, the second time, is the same as the first. We are concerned about costs. We are concerned about site location. We are concerned about availability and any conditions that might mitigate against the successful site. The Jack Lake site passes all those tests.

MR. SCOTT: Mr. Speaker, again, to the minister. The refusal of this government and this minister to this community, to hear their concerns, is an indication of the arrogance and short-sightedness of this Liberal Government. Does the minister realize that it is okay to admit when you are wrong - and you are wrong here? I ask you one more time, will you consider relocating this facility?

MR. HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, this is the honourable member who would like us to move this facility, a metro replacement facility, to Springhill. Here he is standing on his feet talking about open and transparent communication. A long process has taken place, with full public consultation. We have the site and a facility that is needed.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

COMMUN. SERV. - CHILD BENEFIT PROGRAM: UN - FINDINGS

MR. JERRY PYE: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Community Services. In its most recent report, the United Nations found that Nova Scotia's shabby treatment of the poor and the oppressed violated many articles of the international covenant on the civil political rights. As a result, the UN gave Canada a failing human rights grade.

Mr. Speaker, my question to the minister is, what is the minister doing to address the United Nations findings that Nova Scotia fails to provide the necessity of life for all its citizens?

HON. FRANCENE COSMAN: Mr. Speaker, I think the honourable member opposite knows full well what we have been doing in this province. Not only have we been doing things better in this province than in many other parts of the country, we are the only province in Canada that did not cut social assistance rates in the past year. That is a record we can stand on. We are doing many separate activities around the issues of poverty and families. I would be happy to sit down and give him hours of information, if he would be willing to open his ears and listen.

[Page 7347]

MR. PYE: Mr. Speaker, I will take the minister up on that. She can name the date, the time and the place. Allow me to tell you, the United Nations found that Nova Scotia's high rate of poverty among single mothers leave children without the protection, of which they are entitled to under the covenant.

My question is, will the minister act on the UN's recommendation and conduct a thorough assessment of the discriminatory effects of social programs on women and children in this province?

MRS. COSMAN: Mr. Speaker, I think it is obvious that when you look at the fact that we put $10 million more into rates directly targeted at families with children in this province and a Nova Scotia Child Benefit last year, we are acting and doing the proper measures that we must do in order to protect children and around the issues of poverty and families.

MR. PYE: Mr. Speaker, I am glad the minister mentioned the National Child Benefit Program. The clawback of the National Child Benefit Program is in direct violation of the UN covenant because its benefits are being denied to some very poor children.

My question is, will the minister finally admit that her government's policies are doing nothing to address the child poverty in Nova Scotia?

MRS. COSMAN: Mr. Speaker, I think nothing could be further from the truth and what the honourable member is trying to paint, is this picture. We are taking actions. We are putting more money into families. We are addressing child poverty issues. We are putting in place Early Intervention Programs, and we are putting in Child Nutrition Programs. There are a host of actions we have taken since I became minister of this department that are doing all the positive and many more things that we must do to help families with poverty issues.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou East.

NAT. RES.: FOREST INDUSTRY - SUSTAINABILITY

MR. JAMES DEWOLFE: Mr. Speaker, my question is directed to the Minister of Natural Resources. I believe that the minister will agree that we have fallen behind with regard to silviculture treatment of our forest industry in Nova Scotia and, as a result, many stakeholders question whether we can continue this resource in a sustainable manner.

My question to the minister is, can the resource sustain the present and proposed funding levels?

HON. KENNETH MACASKILL: Mr. Speaker, yes, to the honourable member, we are at a sustainable level on all sectors but the small private woodlot owner; that is the only one

[Page 7348]

we have concerns about. We have an extra $1 million to put into silviculture this year if the budget is approved.

MR. DEWOLFE: Mr. Speaker, again to the minister, do you feel comfortable that your department's data collection methods are depicting an accurate assessment of our provincial forests?

MR. MACASKILL: Again, Mr. Speaker, to the honourable member, we feel that the data we are collecting is not as good as we would like, but we feel it is essential to give us at least a fair idea of our sustainability at this point in time.

MR. DEWOLFE: Mr. Speaker, again to the minister, and I thank him for his answer because I hope he knows the DNR's own computer modelling is indicating that in order to continue cutting . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Your question, please.

MR. DEWOLFE: . . . at today's levels it would require $17 million in silviculture funding a year. How is the minister going to make up this shortfall?

MR. MACASKILL: Mr. Speaker, I am not quite sure that the figures are accurate but, anyway, the present situation, with the extra $1 million we are putting in - which was a total of $4 million - that coupled with the extra $4 million from the stakeholders and another $4 million from the buyers, that is $12 million and that is a substantial amount.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

COMMUN. SERV. - DISABLED PERSONS: CIVIL SERVICE - EMPLOYMENT

MR. JERRY PYE: Mr. Speaker, once again my question is to the Minister of Community Services. The first of June of this year was Access Awareness Week. Last year's Speech from the Throne devoted less than three lines to the needs of persons with disabilities. The government promised to improve employment opportunities and funding for the workplace.

My question to the minister is, how many persons with disabilities has her government recruited to the Civil Service in the past year?

HON. FRANCENE COSMAN: I am sorry, Mr. Speaker, but I missed the tail-end of the question. Would you mind repeating it?

[Page 7349]

MR. PYE: How many persons with disabilities has her department or her government recruited to the Civil Service in the past year?

MRS. COSMAN: Mr. Speaker, as Minister of Human Resources I will answer that question because the obvious answer to this is that people with disabilities are part of our target groups that we are encouraging to identify in their applications when they apply for work in the department and across government. If you look at the percentages of persons with disabilities, those numbers have declined, and that is probably also a reflection of the fact that not everybody who has a disability self-identifies on the application. That is where I am trying to get you the information, honourable member.

MR. PYE: Mr. Speaker, I asked specifically for numbers. Over half of the persons with disabilities in this province are unemployed. In light of such a discouraging number, why isn't this government setting a better example by actively recruiting more persons with disabilities to the Civil Service?

MRS. COSMAN: Obviously everything we are attempting to do with affirmative action and diversity management aims to address the exact issue that this member is trying to bring to the floor today. I think we all can do more in these areas, and we had this discussion in estimates the other day. Certainly our programs around affirmative action and diversity are going to be strengthened as we evolve over the next 12 months with pilot projects in departments of government, and we are working on those very issues that you are bringing up on the floor today.

MR. PYE: Mr. Speaker, that falls in line with my final supplementary. The number of persons with disabilities working full time in the Civil Service has actually declined under this government's so-called initiative. What is the minister prepared to do to improve access to employment for persons with disabilities? Lay it out on the line.

MRS. COSMAN: Mr. Speaker, I would just caution the honourable member opposite that if you just look at numbers, the numbers perhaps don't reflect what is really happening out there. You have seen the Civil Service numbers shrink because of the fact that the jobs have been evolved over to the hospitals and are taken off the Civil Service numbers. If you just look at the numbers, you don't get the accurate picture.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings West.

HEALTH - PARAMEDICS/AMBULANCE WORKERS:

CONTRACT NEGOTIATIONS - STALLED

MR. GEORGE MOODY: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is for the Minister of Health. The Minister of Health is aware that the paramedics have been negotiating for months in this province for a new contract. Contract talks have stalled because EMC says

[Page 7350]

their hands are being tied because of the contract with the government. I would ask the minister if he is concerned about the paramedics not being able to reach a contract?

HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, yes. This is a very important issue and it is one that we are following and hoping will come to a meaningful solution. This is a first time contract of a group that belonged to over 50 areas, 50 regional territories so to speak. It is important. In answer to the honourable member's question, the EMC entered, with good advice, into the contract, they knew what they were getting into, and I am sure they will be able to operate on the funds provided.

MR. MOODY: Mr. Speaker, I am sure the minister realizes the value of the paramedics in this province and the training they have to go through. I would ask the minister, since his budget in 1997-1998 for these ambulances was $13 million and in 1998-1999 it is $43 million, is it fair for these paramedics to work for $8.00 or less an hour with the training they have?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, yes, there are three levels of training. I am really pleased to see the progress that they are making and it is a real commitment. It is a difficult profession to average out, because sometimes you are dealing with on-call, where people are in a home-like situation waiting for calls. I know as a family physician, many times I was on-call when I was dealing with a fee for service. However, it has to be fair, and there are monies within the budget to do that. I am hopeful, very hopeful, that we will see a good contract come from this.

MR. MOODY: I would ask the minister, if in fact it is the EMC contract with the province, if that is the problem, that a fair settlement can't be reached, will the minister re-open that contract to make it fair for the paramedics of this province?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I am totally convinced that the contract that we signed was fair and generous. The number that the honourable member quoted included a one-time, about a $14 million purchase of the regional assets of the territories. There are built-in profit margins, there is adequate there. What we are seeing are normal labour negotiations, and I think we have to let them take their course.

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

BUS. & CONS. SERV. - RES. TENANCIES: DIRECTOR - VACANT

MS. ROSEMARY GODIN: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Business and Consumer Services. Mr. Minister, earlier today during resolutions, I believe, you in fact commended staff at Residential Tenancies and that was well deserved, however, during estimates, the minister admitted that there was no separate assignment for the position of director of Residential Tenancies as is outlined in the Act. My question to the minister is, why is there no full-time director of Residential Tenancies?

[Page 7351]

HON. ROBERT HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, just to clarify, during the resolution we praised all of the staff of BCS for having achieved the highest-yet customer satisfaction rates, including those who are responsible for assisting those with residential tenancies concerns. The answer in estimates is the same one today, there is a supervisor and executive director with responsibilities for the position she describes in accordance with the Act.

[4:15 p.m.]

MS. GODIN: Mr. Speaker, he is right. However, the current Director of Residential Tenancies is also the Director of Service Delivery and Operations Division and oversees Access Nova Scotia, the Registry of Motor Vehicles, Public Inquiries, the list goes on.

MR. SPEAKER: Your question, please.

MS. GODIN: How can the current director properly investigate and mediate formal complaints when he is so busy with everything else?

MR. HARRISON: Actually, Mr. Speaker, the woman who she is describing is actually so busy she is having a baby at home, having just given birth to her first child. The fact is that we are reviewing the Residential Tenancies Act. We have responsible people in the field. We have responsible supervisors reaching the highest level of satisfaction yet on the part of Nova Scotians, all quite capable of doing the work within Residential Tenancies.

MS. GODIN: Mr. Speaker, the minister told me that the Director of Residential Tenancies was Graham Poole. So I do not know too many women named Graham. However, over 114,000 tenants live in Nova Scotia, including mobile home owners. They deserve attention.

MR. SPEAKER: Your question.

MS. GODIN: My question is, Mr. Speaker, why do they not count?

MR. HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, I can assure the member opposite that Graham is not having Marie's baby, but Marie is having her own baby. In fact, not only do we care about Residential Tenancies, but we have begun a two year process to ensure that the Act conforms to modern day and contemporary standards of resolving issues and disputes between landlords and their tenants.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

[Page 7352]

HEALTH - EMERGENCY SERVICES:

PARAMEDICS - WORKING CONDITIONS

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health. This Liberal Government has patted itself on the back recently for developing state-of-the-art emergency services, but it has failed miserably when it comes to dealing fairly with paramedics who work up to 100 hours a week, some for as little as $7.00 an hour. My question is, how can this minister brag about emergency services when paramedics still have such miserable working conditions?

HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, the working conditions and that whole system of emergency health services in Nova Scotia have changed dramatically. There has been a lot of criticism of what has happened in the last few years. I think this province has really done as well and better than most other provinces across this country, but the paramedics have a special job. It is a special calling. They have special training. They are in the process of negotiating a contract and I am sure it will be fair and it will be just.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: I guess because they are so special, that is why we treat them so specially poorly. After a year of negotiating with no progress, paramedics may take job action within the next two days. What immediate action is the minister prepared to take to ensure that paramedics receive decent wages and reasonable hours of work in their contract negotiations?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, as already mentioned by the honourable member for Kings West, there is a large commitment of money that has gone in to make this one of the top-class emergency health services in Canada. The complete system is covered now. The territories are complete. The assets have been purchased. The contract has been drawn up and it is fair and it is just. I believe what we are seeing is normal negotiations. This is a bringing together of 50 different groups. It is not easy, but I am watching and I am sure that it will be done properly . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Your final supplementary.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: He was watching the long-term care sector as well and we know what happened there. I guess my final question is, why should anybody believe this minister will improve health care when he has failed to ensure fair wages and working conditions (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I will add time to Question Period if this continues.

The honourable member for Halifax Needham, would you put your question please.

[Page 7353]

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. My question is, why should anybody believe this minister will improve health care when he has failed to ensure fair wages and working conditions for the people who deliver that care?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, we have provided an adequate budget. The reason is, in answer to that question, I have a Premier, I have a Leader who is prepared to make tough decisions, compassionate and he is sensitive to the health care needs of the people of Nova Scotia. He has done that and he has answered that. He is not ducking the issues like the Leader of that socialist Party over there.

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

BUS. & CONS. SERV. - MOTIVE FUEL REG.: SECTION 15 - RESTORE

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, through you, I would like to direct my question to the Minister of Business and Consumer Services. Until Section 15 of the Motive Fuel Regulation was open up to review by the Minister of Business and Consumer Services, retailers and consumers, employers and employees had some protection from price gouging by the big multinationals, oil companies. But the minister caved in and opened up Section 15 to review. My question to the minister is, when are you going to put Section 15 back in place and provide consumers, employers and employees with the protection they deserve?

HON. ROBERT HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member loves to spin wonderful fantasy tales. In fact, Section 15 is in place and was in place. The issue is how can we ensure that retailers are adequately protected, on a level playing field, in their relationship between their parent companies and the independent dealers of this province.

MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, he is trying to pull the wool over Nova Scotians' eyes. He knows full well that he lifted Section 15 of the Motive Fuel Regulations and, as a consequence, for example, the big multinational PetroCanada is sticking it to all the PetroCanada retailers in this province.

MR. SPEAKER: Your question, please.

MR. TAYLOR: My question, Mr. Speaker, through you, is this. When are you going to put Section 15 back in place and, in fact, beef it up to protect Nova Scotia businesses?

MR. HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member knows full well that Section 15 has not been replaced at all. In fact, Section 15 - if the member opposite would love to table a letter - is the only measure now that exists in the Act to make sure that retailers are protected. It is not gone. That member is misrepresenting the facts before this House. (Applause)

[Page 7354]

MR. TAYLOR: If the people of Nova Scotia call on the Progressive Conservatives to form the next government, we will put this back in place to protect consumers. Will you?

MR. HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, I have been warned constantly by the Speaker of this House not to answer hypothetical questions. However, Section 15 was there yesterday. Section 15 is there today and, in a very short time, this government will announce what we are doing with Section 15 to ensure that retailers are protected in this province.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou West.

NAT. RES. - FORESTS: SUSTAINABILITY - REGS.

MR. CHARLES PARKER: Mr. Speaker, my question, through you, is to the Minister of Natural Resources. On the new woods sustainability regulations, through the initial phase-in period on these regulations, for a registered buyer who reports in the year of enactment, less than 100,000 cubic metres of primary forest products, the rules don't apply. So, Mr. Minister, my question is, that is 4,500 cords of wood, why don't the rules apply to that?

HON. KENNETH MACASKILL: Mr. Speaker, I am not quite sure that I heard the number that he is referring to, thousands of cords, is it? I am not sure, but if he will repeat the question, I will answer it.

MR. PARKER: . . . for anybody in the first year with 4,500 cords of wood, according to the new regulations. Why don't they apply?

MR. MACASKILL: Mr. Speaker, to the honourable member, the real number is, any person cutting less than 200 cords per year does not need to have a buyer's registry.

MR. PARKER: I may as well have asked that picture over there, I would have got a better answer, I think. Mr. Speaker, there is strong evidence we are over-harvesting in this province. The easy way out, under this plan not to do silviculture work, is to make a financial contribution to the sustainable forestry fund. My second question is, Mr. Minister, how many registered buyers do you expect to pursue this option?

MR. MACASKILL: Mr. Speaker, the second part of the question, I will answer. The first is not accurate, so there is no need of me answering it. The information we have, as I told the honourable member for Pictou West, is that the information we have available to us now indicate a sustainable level of forestry, except on the small, private woodlots.

MR. PARKER: The regulations on the new wood sustainability regulations include 10 per cent allowance for administration. Woodlot owners want control over their own woodlands. Mr. Minister, who will this administration money go to?

[Page 7355]

MR. MACASKILL: Mr. Speaker, when the Forests Act is finally complete and all the regulations are in place and our wood acquisition is up and running, I think the honourable member will have a lot more information and I hope he will use it wisely.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Argyle.

FISH. - TAGS 2: EARLY RETIREMENT PROGRAM - ELIGIBILITY

MR. NEIL LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Fisheries. Last year TAGS 2 was announced and the minister stood in this House and made an announcement that over 500 people would qualify for the early retirement program for those who are over the age of 55. Would the minister confirm that the recipients who would qualify and who worked a great deal during the period of TAGS will not be eligible for these benefits?

HON. KEITH COLWELL: The honourable member is correct, they had to be in need in the employment status, people who were not employed during the TAGS Program who were on TAGS are eligible for this, with certain requirements.

MR. LEBLANC: Since the provincial government cost-shared in this program and also had input into its criteria, will the minister stand here today and say that he personally supports the criteria that would penalize people who did not receive TAGS and who had worked and who are now over the age of 55? Does he personally support that people should be penalized for saving the federal government money during the TAGS Program?

MR. COLWELL: The honourable member, I answered these questions in Estimates but I will answer again. There is a standard criteria that has been adapted and adopted for this, based on the history of other programs that have been in place. Because of that, that is why the criteria was set the way it was.

MR. LEBLANC: Well, if this government is going to penalize people for working hard, then I hope you are proud of yourself.

Mr. Speaker, I want to ask the minister one more time whether or not he will review this criteria - and you have made provisions to fund over 500 recipients - whether he will go again one more time and give these people the fairness that they deserve - they saved the government money and you are going to penalize them. Will you review that one more time?

MR. COLWELL: I am going to ask the honourable member a simple question. Is everyone in the Province of Nova Scotia over the age of 55? What he is saying is that everyone in the Province of Nova Scotia over the age of 55, regardless of where they worked, should be on a pension. I think not.

[Page 7356]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

TRANSPORT. & PUB. WKS. - BICENTENNIAL HWY.

(JOSEPH HOWE DR. EXIT): OFF-RAMPS - FUNDING

MS. EILEEN O'CONNELL: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Transportation and Public Works. Yesterday in estimates the minister was questioned about the proposed off-ramps leading to Joseph Howe Drive from the Bicentennial Highway. In response to a question from my colleague, the minister said there was no money for the project. I want to ask the minister, will he confirm on the record today his intention to not fund this project?

HON. CLIFFORD HUSKILSON: Mr. Speaker, thanks to the honourable member for the question. Yesterday when I was asked that question I did say that at this present time funding is not in place and we are still looking at this, and that in the future, when funding will becomes available, we will invest in this.

MS. O'CONNELL: Mr. Speaker, I have two letters which I would like to table in the House. In one letter in March the department tells HRM there is no money but in the other letter in April the minister tells a constituent in a Liberal riding that he is more than willing to direct the available funds to the project.

My question to the minister is, why is the minister telling two stories, one to HRM and another to constituents, about funding for this project?

MR. HUSKILSON: Mr. Speaker, I would ask the honourable member to table those two letters so that I can have a look at them, please.

MR. SPEAKER: Did the honourable member table those letters?

MS. O'CONNELL: Yes, I did, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, whether the minister intended it or not, his April 22nd letter is a commitment to fund this project, so I want to ask the minister, will he ensure this project is completed before the end of this fiscal year?

MR. HUSKILSON: Mr. Speaker, I can't commit to that. I don't know how long it is going to take to do this project. When the money becomes available, I don't know how long that will be.

[4:30 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Cumberland South.

[Page 7357]

JUSTICE - CROWN PROSECUTORS:

KAUFMAN REPT. - RECOMMENDATIONS (HUMAN RES.)

MR. MURRAY SCOTT: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Justice. As the minister is aware the Human Resources Department recommendations relative to an independent mechanism to set salaries and the right to collective bargaining for Crown Prosecutors are directly contrary to the recommendations of the almost $300,000 Kaufman Report. The question to the minister is, which one of these two reports is he going to ignore this time?

HON. ROBERT HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, we are not ignoring any of the reports, there are three reports. There is a working group report, recommendations from the Human Resources Department of government and Justice Kaufman's report. All three are being taken into consideration when the government reveals and explains its commitment to the Kaufman recommendations.

MR. SCOTT: Mr. Speaker, again to the minister. One of the comments made by Justice Kaufman that we are most concerned about is his recognition of a lack of hope within the service. Would the minister agree that his government has consistently contributed to this lack of hope by commissioning report after report, with several concerns outlined which were satisfactory to prosecutors but were not satisfactory to the Minister of Justice?

MR. HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, my responsibility as Minister of Justice is for the overall administration of the justice system in Nova Scotia. We have reports from the prosecution service for a certain type of salary-setting mechanism and it is incumbent on a minister to make sure those reports fit into a context of how government pays and provides benefits for the legal community within a number of departments. We have done just that and will base our recommendations on those reports.

MR. SCOTT: Mr. Speaker, again to the minister. My final question, Mr. Minister, is this, will you commit to doing the right thing for everyone involved in implementing Kaufman's recommendations on salary setting and collective bargaining?

MR. HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, we said three weeks after Justice Kaufman delivered his report that we would have a definitive and declarative statement for the people of this province and most importantly, for the service. Fine people work in the service, they are doing fine work and it is the only independent service in the country. Justice Kaufman has confidence that we will get there and the Government of Nova Scotia will work with the service to make sure we achieve those objectives.

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

[Page 7358]

HOUSING & MUN. AFFS. - COOPERATIVE HOUSING:

PILOT PROJECT - STATUS

MS. ROSEMARY GODIN: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Housing. In March 1998, the then Minister of Housing announced plans to establish a cooperative housing pilot project throughout rural Nova Scotia. My question to the minister is what has happened with these plans?

HON. RAYMOND WHITE: Mr. Speaker, as the member will know there are a number of cooperatives now throughout the province. We work with them to ensure consistent delivery of the co-op program to various parts of Nova Scotia.

MS. GODIN: Mr. Speaker, the then minister promised that regional office staff would conduct extensive consultation with community groups, municipal governments and the private sector. My question to the minister is, is that consultation being carried out?

MR. WHITE: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to inform the member that we do carry out extensive consultation with all the stakeholders in the Housing portfolio, including the cooperative housing throughout Nova Scotia.

MS. GODIN: Mr. Speaker, what I haven't heard and what I would like to ask is when will this minister honour this commitment to rural Nova Scotia?

MR. WHITE: Mr. Speaker, it is very evident from the programs that our department offers throughout Nova Scotia that we certainly do meet our commitment to rural Nova Scotia.

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

FIN.: TRAVEL EXPENSES - STUDY

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, through you I would like to ask the Minister of Finance a question. Under much fanfare the Minister of Finance said that he would do everything he could to rein in unnecessary travel, relative to trips taken by government employees. Yet, we see employees of the Economic Development and Tourism Department have taken trips to the tune of and costs, expenses - one individual as much as . . .

MR. SPEAKER: The question, please.

MR. TAYLOR: . . . the question is this, one individual's taken trip cost $76,000, another cost $46,000 and another cost $36,000. Has the Minister of Finance looked at these type of expenditures to see whether or not the taxpayers of this province are getting good value for their tax cash dollar?

[Page 7359]

HON. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, to begin with, the Minister of Economic Development and Tourism actually is open for an estimates debate, where that question, obviously, should have been asked, if it wasn't. Most of the work that is going on over there is dealing with international trade, opening opportunities for Nova Scotians around the world.

The day before yesterday, I met with the Ambassador from Germany, whereby we are trying to build partnerships between Germany and Nova Scotia. We have partners in Scotland, developments in Aberdeen and the North Sea, where economic opportunity prevails with the activity of the offshore, similar to what we are going to have in Nova Scotia. These people travel. You are building partnerships, economic opportunity, and jobs for Nova Scotians.

MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, the Harris Government in Ontario was able to put that province's finances back on the rails after the devastation reigned by the NDP Government and, as a consequence, Nova Scotia received a windfall from Ottawa. Is the minister now saying that he doesn't stand behind his previous promise to cut back on unnecessary travel by department employees?

MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, if the member opposite is making an allegation that the Department of Economic Development and Tourism trade missions to create jobs in Nova Scotia are wrong, then I ask that that member table before the House, today, the proof of the allegation that he is saying about those individuals, those professional Civil Service individuals who are trying to create work in Nova Scotia. Table the information. (Applause)

MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, all the Minister of Finance has to do, if he is interested, is look at Page 43 of the Supplement to the Public Accounts, ending March 31, 1998.

MR. SPEAKER: Question. Your question. please.

MR. TAYLOR: I have no question, just a comment to answer his question.

MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, I don't know if that is in order, the fact that he can get up here and ramble away in Question Period without even asking a question. Obviously, he didn't have any facts to substantiate anything he is talking about. The commitment of every Cabinet Minister in this House, to all taxpayers, is that we have value for money, and every one of us has a responsibility to look after the responsibilities of those departments and what is being spent.

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

[Page 7360]

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

MR. JERRY PYE: Mr. Speaker. I would like to bring to your attention, and to the attention of members of the Legislature in the west gallery a member of Dartmouth North, who is a member of the North End Residents' Association as well, Mr. Wayne Sitland. It will be interesting to note that he is here today to take in the action on Bill No. 118. I would hope that this House would give him a very warm welcome. (Applause)

OPPOSITION MEMBERS' BUSINESS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Progressive Conservative House Leader.

MR. NEIL LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, would you please call the order of business, Private Members' Public Bills for Second Reading.

PRIVATE MEMBERS' PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Progressive Conservative House Leader.

MR. NEIL LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 111.

Bill No. 111 - Occupational Health and Safety Act.

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

MR. GORDON BALSER: Mr. Speaker, it gives me pleasure to rise today and say a few words regarding Bill No. 111, an Act to Amend the Occupational Health and Safety Act. This bill is an attempt to ensure that the regulatory regime which has been implemented under the Occupational Health and Safety Act is effective, realistic, doable and, in fact, needed.

On a larger scale, it is also an attempt to provide the opportunity for public debate on the issue of workplace safety. The bill has two main purposes. First, it mandates a regular review of the Occupational Health and Safety Regulations. The intention here is to keep the regulatory regime current. Workplace procedures change, and new technology changes the way in which we work. Now, more than ever before, the workplace and our workers need to be adaptable, and embedding regulations, with no provision for review or change, makes this process extremely difficult. If anything, the regulatory review will ensure that the change process is a part of the planning for both government and business. A change mechanism embedded in the Act will ensure that there is an opportunity for review and that that review occurs on a regular basis, and it will improve the effectiveness of the regulations.

[Page 7361]

Everyone, without doubt, has heard a humorous anecdotal story of laughably archaic regulations regarding horseless carriages, coal oil lights or the like; regulations that remain regulations simply because no one has ever bothered to review the need for their existence.

The sunset clause proposed in this bill will avoid this from happening. Our legislation will allow a process for a review to be conducted on a regular basis, a review that will be conducted by someone outside of the system, someone who will not be accountable to the Department of Labour or to the minister. The individual who will carry out the review will be accountable to the Human Resources Committee of the Legislature, a tri-Party committee that should help eliminate partisan politics.

This process ensures that the suggestions put forward during a review will be considered at arm's length, from those who have no real vested interest in the issue. In addition, having the review completed by someone with expertise who is from outside the system allows them to bring a fresh perspective to the debate. It will also provide valuable and useful insight into what is happening in other jurisdictions regarding Occupational Health and Safety.

The second clause in this bill is specifically designed to help the private homeowner, to protect the private homeowner from prosecution under the Occupational Health and Safety Act. Under the current regulations, any private homeowner who contracts with an individual or a firm to carry out work on their property may, in the event of an injury, be charged under the Occupational Health and Safety Act. This, in effect, means that if you or I were to hire a student to mow your lawn, to paint your house, to rake your yard or do some gardening and that individual was to be injured, through no fault of your own, you could be held liable under the regulations.

If you as the homeowner have failed to ensure that that individual you have hired is in compliance with the regulations and fully knowledgeable of work procedures related to the job they must carry out, then you, a private homeowner, through no fault of your own, can be charged. It is necessary for people who work under the guidelines of Occupational Health and Safety to have taken some courses and training, and that is a good thing, but oftentimes, a person who retains an individual, particularly a student, may not be aware of these requirements and may not, in fact, even know whether or not the individual who has been hired is in compliance.

The reality is, if you, a private homeowner, are charged under the Act, you could be liable and subject to a fine of upwards of $250,000. Most homeowners are not even aware of the necessity or their obligations under the regulations in the Occupational Health and Safety Act as it currently exists. For many of us, particularly seniors who remain in their own homes, the prospect of your next-door neighbour's son or daughter doing some work for you means a whole new thing. It takes on a whole new dimension. When hiring a contractor to carry out home repairs, usually the person involved will check the reputation of the person

[Page 7362]

they were looking to hire. They might shop around for the best price, they might find out the quality of the workmanship involved, but rarely would they ask for a résumé to determine whether or not that contractor is in compliance with the Act.

For most of us, if the individual arrives in a truck with a name on the door, the person wears the garb of a contractor, he has the equipment of a contractor, he has the staging and the tools to carry out the work, you assume that that person is a contractor. Our focus generally is on the work to be done and not on the potential liability that might result because this individual has not completed certain courses. In many instances, it is not even reasonable to assume that a homeowner would be knowledgeable enough about safety procedures to even recognize unsafe work procedures, that is to say, is a three-inch staging plank sufficient, should it be five inches, should it be an eight by eight? Does the average person have the knowledge to know this? How should a worker carry shingles? Do we have the knowledge to do that? What is the proper way to put up staging or what is the proper way to support a ladder on the side of a building?

[4:45 p.m.]

The average homeowner, while they may know a little bit, certainly does not have the formal knowledge generally to make the distinction between someone who is competent in the area of health and safety and someone who is merely performing a task for them. This clause does not excuse a contractor from performing his work in an unsafe or irresponsible manner. It simply ensures that the private homeowner will be protected.

It is not the intention of this clause to protect the homeowner either from gross personal negligence. There are some situations where an individual might, with full knowledge that the contractor is doing something that grossly violates the intention of the Occupational Health and Safety Act, allow that person to continue to carry out the work simply because the deal is too good to pass up. In that instance, where it is clearly demonstrated that the homeowner has grossly violated the intention of the Act, there would be a mechanism by which that homeowner could be charged.

The intention purely is to ensure that you or I, as honest law-abiding citizens and homeowners, are protected from being prosecuted. In point of fact, it is my understanding that there is currently a case pending in the courts where a private homeowner has been charged under the Act and the way in which that progresses through the legal system will have serious implications for each and every homeowner in this province.

What this clause really tries to do and what this amendment tries to do in its entirety is introduce a little bit of common sense to the regulatory regime that has come about in occupational health and safety. Responsible homeowners carry insurance to protect themselves from liability. They buy insurance that ensures that if someone slips and falls, they are protected. They buy insurance to ensure that if the young gentleman from across the

[Page 7363]

street, who happens to be mowing the lawn, should injure himself, they are protected. They are well aware and are being responsible when they do buy insurance, but it seems to be a bit unfair to assume that each and every private homeowner in this province will school themselves in the Occupational Health and Safety Act to the degree where they will know exactly what their responsibilities are under that Act. Private homeowners should not be expected to be experts in the field of occupational health and safety and this Act is designed to do that.

The real issue around this is that there needs to be reason and common sense introduced to the occupational health and safety regulatory regime and that is the intention of this Act. For that reason, I would hope that we can have the support of the House so that it can be moved forward for more debate. Thank you. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Labour.

HON. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, workplace health and safety affects most Nova Scotians and measures hundreds of millions of dollars each year. Nova Scotians have always been concerned with creating the safest possible workplaces through the Occupational Health and Safety Act.

In 1992 the provincial government requested the Occupational Health and Safety Advisory Council to review the existing legislation and inspection policies. Mr. Speaker, that was post-Westray. To refresh the honourable member for Digby's mind, that government was a Progressive Conservative Government. I would also remind the honourable member that after the Westray Mine accident in 1992, there has been an increased focus on occupational health and safety. Discussions were held through the Auditor General, or the Advisory Council and its networks, labour, industry and government respondents were canvassed to indicate areas of concern.

The cost of reviewing the Occupational Health and Safety Act was $1.5 million, Mr. Speaker. It was probably one of the most extensive, all-inclusive consultative processes, involving all stakeholders in the Province of Nova Scotia. Why this honourable member wants to turn back the clock is beyond my comprehension.

Mr. Speaker, the results of the discussions that were consolidated at a workshop for the legislation task force, a subcommittee of the advisory council, in July 1993, and I would certainly urge the honourable member to read some of these documents. It is quite evident that the honourable member didn't read the present legislation, nor the supplementary information leading up to the introduction of his bill, because, had he done that, then he would have realized that under Section 83 . . .

[Page 7364]

MR. GORDON BALSER: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I am wondering where the minister is headed with this. We are speaking to two specific clauses, one of which addresses private homeowners and the second of which calls for a regulatory review. He seems to have wandered a bit from the intent of that particular bill.

MR. SPEAKER: There is no point of order.

MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, obviously, there is no point of order. Since the honourable member did ask a question, I will answer it for him. Under Section 83 of the present legislation, there is provision for exemption that the honourable member is asking for. Had he read the legislation, he would have realized that and stop wasting the time, the money and the effort of all members of this House.

"(1) Where an application is made in writing to the Director for authorization to deviate at a workplace or workplaces from a provision of the regulations, unless the standard to be used by the Director in considering an application is altered by regulation, the Director may authorize the deviation where the Director is satisfied that the deviation affords protection for the health and safety of employees equal to or greater than the protection prescribed by the regulations from which the deviation is requested.".

Mr. Speaker, I cannot believe that that honourable member wants to go back to pre-Westray in the Province of Nova Scotia, a lesson that that Party, any Party, should have learned, in the Province of Nova Scotia. It is here after an extensive consultation. It is in the legislation. Stop wasting time, money and energy of all Nova Scotians.

Further, Mr. Speaker, to validate the benefit and the success of what has transpired since 1992, to the culmination of the 1996 Occupational Health and Safety Act, which was approved under Chapter 7 of the Acts of 1996, there is evidence to support the success of the accomplishments that have been put forth by this government and all Nova Scotia stakeholders, employers, employees and, indeed, government and non-government agencies. The total number of fatal claims - and I will table this so this honourable member will learn something about the reality of what is happening in the market place - in 1993, the Workers' Compensation Board reported 26 fatality claims; in 1998, that was 12. Obviously, a substantive reduction. The honourable member has alluded to financing being a consideration. In 1993, the total claims cost incurred was nearly $12 million. In the last fiscal year, that was $5.2 million. Obviously, this piece of legislation is working.

Mr. Speaker, further, the consultative process, under Sections 24, 25 and 26 of the legislation, makes provision for an advisory council that advises the minister and the director and the government and all members of the House, if the honourable member is interested, to review, to provide recommendations for new regulations or any other safety matter. Not only that, but if one is unhappy with the decisions that are being made by an employer with an employee in the workplace or, indeed, a homeowner, then they can appeal to the

[Page 7365]

Occupational Health and Safety Appeals Panel. That is another quasi-judicial forum which operates independent of the political arm within the Department of Labour.

Mr. Speaker, I know this particular member has a particular interest because of Balser Trucking in Digby. I know this honourable member has lobbied very long and hard to support the interest in that general area. I am not saying that there is any particular family connection with the honourable member and Balser Trucking, but let's be fair, if you are going to roll back the clock, tell people why you want to do it. Do not put the employees, the hard-working Nova Scotians at risk because of a single-minded objective.

Mr. Speaker, he is suggesting that a homeowner should be exempt. Now, can you imagine how frightening it would be, a homeowner deciding to just pop down to the corner store and pick up a few sticks of dynamite to do a bit of casual blasting. Is this what the honourable member is alluding to? I don't think I would want to be his neighbour, let alone his insurance agent. What in the name of heavens is this honourable member getting at, and where is he going with this?

Mr. Speaker, it is certainly not sufficient to create a level of workplace health and safety, which the advisory council seeks and we support. Changes in knowledge and attitude and ongoing education are key to achieving our goals. The honourable member would have us believe that ignorance is an excuse to avoid the law, but again, we have to go back to what is the basis and what is the premise by which he advocates this particular piece of legislation.

The review process that he refers to, through the Human Resources Committee. Let me remind the honourable member that both Opposition Parties have put forth before the Human Resources Committee, making it a prescription by law that the Minister of the Crown, which says in item 13, by their prescription, it is my opinion as the Minister responsible for the, in this case, Occupational Health and Safety Advisory Council, that from the candidates that have applied to the position, that this is the most and the best qualified person to carry out the duties of this position.

Mr. Speaker, the honourable member and his colleagues have asked us to do due diligence and now he is asking us to roll back the clock because of a single-minded interest that he has himself involved in and now he seems to be drawing his colleagues into. I will not go back and neither will this government or the people of Nova Scotia go back to pre-Westray. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. MACKINNON: That is the bottom line. (Applause)

[Page 7366]

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

MR. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, this bill, to say the least, is short-sighted. I am going to give a few comments about it. The two clauses that are in this, I am going to speak of the two clauses separately. I would advise the member that the first clause is a cavalier approach to all the sweat and tears that went into the preparation of the current OH&S Act. There was an incredible amount of stakeholder input into the Act and province-wide consultations. They were done twice. Both times universal coverage was recommended through consultations.

In one fell swoop, this member would have all this work, compromise and agreement swept out the door. The stakeholders, in their wisdom, left that flexibility in this Act. Although there is universal coverage, a person may apply for exemption from the Act. The test seems to be not where the work is performed but the type of work performed. Now this may be an extreme case, but the amendments sought by this member would allow a self-employed person to perform any type of work in a residence, regardless of how dangerous it is and not to, "(a) take reasonable precautions in the circumstances to protect the self-employed person's own health and safety and that of other persons who may be effected by the self-employed person's undertaking.". The stakeholders would not grant such a blanket exemption nor should this Legislature.

[5:00 p.m.]

I understand as well that the OH&S Advisory Council has looked at this bill. They have put varied interpretations on Clause 1, the first one being as we have interpreted it. Another interpretation would exempt a contractor hired to do work on a single dwelling from having to abide by this Act. What protections would that give to the employees of the contractor? None, Mr. Speaker.

There is another interpretation but the point is, Mr. Speaker, the language is vague and confusing even to the minister's advisory council. Would we toss out all the work done by these stakeholders for such a vague provision? I think not.

Let's also remember the climate from which the current OH&S has emerged. The Westray Report identified a real problem with health and safety enforcement in this province and stakeholders agree this climate had to change.

This Act, while not perfect, surely represents a move away from the climate of carelessness in our workplaces. There is still much to be done, Mr. Speaker, and giving a blanket exemption to home-based businesses surely is not conducive to the climate of increased health and safety in the workplace we are trying to develop.

[Page 7367]

Mr. Speaker, we have spoken with Occupational Health and Safety Advisory Council and the Director of Occupational Health and Safety at the Department of Labour about this matter. Neither can recall any application for exclusion from the Act by a home-based business. If the member knows of someone seeking this then why doesn't he advise them to ask for it. (Interruption) The Act makes provisions for exclusions. I am sure his grandmother knows exactly where to write, Mr. Speaker. I would suspect she is a very bright woman. Too bad it doesn't run downward.

Now Clause 2, the bill also wants to set up, through the Standing Committee on Human Resources, a committee of persons to review the OH&S Act and regulations. Mr. Speaker, the members of this House are all well aware of the meddling by the Minister of Labour and the composition of that current Occupational Health and Safety Advisory Council. I won't belabour the point but that minister has set labour relations back 50 years, and both labour and business shake their heads and wonder at it all.

We had difficulties with the minister abandoning the tried and true method of making appointments to the council. We argue this method should be restored and would be restored under a New Democratic Government. What this clause attempts to do, however, is to create another body with the same duties of the Occupational Health and Safety Advisory Council. (Interruptions) He certainly would. This leads one to asking what is the purpose of having two bodies doing identical tasks. Redundancy, I would say, redundancy.

I would advise that such a measure should be done with thorough public consultations with stakeholders over what is the best vehicle to choose an advisory body to the minister on occupational health and safety matters. The stakeholders need to speak on this and the lone member cannot claim to be their spokesperson. As it stands, Mr. Speaker, appointments to the Occupational Health and Safety Advisory Council must be approved by the Standing Committee on Human Resources. If the member has difficulties with current appointments, why did his Party vote to have them go through? Is he trying to face this down with a bill, something that might set labour relations back even further than it is. I thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Lunenburg.

MR. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, I listened with incredulity to the previous two speakers. You know the first comment I would make is that the one problem we seem to be having is that the honourable member for Cape Breton Centre didn't seem to have read Clause 1, Section 19A of the bill. In particular, I would point out that it says "Notwithstanding any other provision of this Act, this Act and the regulations do not apply to a person in respect of a residence that is a single-family dwelling occupied by that person . . .". No one could misunderstand those words. Those simple words were designed to give the homeowner, the person who owns the home, an exemption from the Occupational Health and Safety Regulations.

[Page 7368]

The reason is very simple, these people are not experts. We are implying a level of expertise that they don't have. It is a fiction. There is an old saying that Parliament can say a man is a woman or a woman is a man but it doesn't make them change their sex. Well it is the same way, with all due respect, to the reality of occupational health and safety. You know, Mrs. Smith who lives across the street from my house may not know the Occupational Health and Safety Act and it is a fiction to expect her to do so. Do you know if she is going to understand the regulations . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Would the honourable member for Lunenburg entertain a question from the Minister of Labour?

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, yes.

HON. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, I thank the honourable member for accepting the question. Was it the member's intent not to read the entire section when he forgot to state that not only is the home being occupied by the person, but that it is being or to be used as a workplace?

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, it is a very simple answer and I am glad the minister asked me the question. Under the bill a workplace is any place that work is done. What we are talking about is when a person hires someone to mow their lawn; that is being used as a workplace, but it does not necessarily mean we are talking about a sweatshop. We are talking about people who have their lawns mowed, their decks built. We are talking about people who have their flowers trimmed. That is what we are talking about, we are not talking about some great insidious program to completely disembowel the Occupational Health and Safety Act. We are trying to bring common sense to government and it seems that the last two Parties are not interested in common sense. They are interested in patronizing statements to speak to history. Let's look to the future.

These people are very good at looking at the past, but not very good at looking at the future and that is what we are trying to do by this bill. With respect to the last thing in the bill, someone said who are the best people to decide who the stakeholders are and who the interests are? Frankly, the best people are the 52 people elected to sit in this House; those are the people who are in the best position. The stakeholders that we represent are all the people of Nova Scotia and that is why we are recommending that it should be the Legislature, through its committee system, that picks the representatives to serve on this committee.

The New Democratic Party has been very vociferous in its criticism of the system and of the problem with appointments. This is designed to address the problems by making sure the people who are appointed to look at the bill are representative of all Nova Scotian interests, including the interests of small business.

[Page 7369]

Why don't we move this to the Law Amendments Committee? I bet you if this went to the Law Amendments Committee there would be many Nova Scotians who would like to come in, and perhaps the minister would be enlightened by the debate. I suspect that what would happen is there would be lots of people from small business who would say that this system does not represent us. It represents big business, big labour, but not small business nor the average guy who works for those people. Those are the people who are being ignored, and this bill will address their problems. Thank you.

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

MR. PAUL MACEWAN: Mr. Speaker, this bill is a piece of errant nonsense and I don't propose to dignify it with extensive deliberation. I note that the debate has gone a bit ahead of schedule and there is time left for a vote if we want to have a vote. I have no difficulty with a vote. I am assured that the majority of members of the House see the bill as I do, as being something worthy of defeat. I call on honourable members to vote to defeat this particular piece of legislation on second reading. Thank you.

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

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, I rise to speak on Bill No. 111, put forward by the Progressive Conservative caucus. This is a bill that I am going to talk about on a couple of points; one is the clause that deals with the issue of homeowner responsibility with regard to construction projects. I should say at the beginning of this that this is something that I do know a little bit about having been involved in the drafting of the Occupational Health and Safety Act that is now before us. Maybe it is important that we put on the record why the rationale was put in there with regard to the issue of homeowners possibly having responsibility in certain circumstances.

There are construction projects, there are contractors who build buildings from time to time that maybe they are not going to inhabit themselves but are going to use for other commercial purposes, yet they are the homeowner. In those circumstances that person has a very good level of expertise that can recognize and should recognize that they have to take responsibility with regard to safety.

In those circumstances, Mr. Speaker, I think it is paramount that we have a situation in which there be provisions that ensure that those types of owners and operators and constructors with regard to the construction of a residential property be responsible and not be exempt because what we are creating through exemptions in legislation is an exemption that is fully, straight across the board, going to impact on certain types of people who may have responsibilities under this piece of legislation.

MR. MICHAEL BAKER: On a point of order. Mr. Speaker, I would like to indicate to the House that our caucus would certainly be very willing to look at such an amendment

[Page 7370]

at the Law Amendments Committee and in the spirit of cooperation would support that and I am sure on that basis the honourable member would be able to support the bill.

MR. SPEAKER: There is no point of order.

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, because that was my question. I was not clear where the point of order was and the minister, the honourable member for Lunenburg (Interruption) Well, maybe some day.

I think it is important, Mr. Speaker, that we recognize that with regard to those who have responsibility under the Occupational Health and Safety Act, it is going to vary depending on - I mean that could be an employee. It can be an employer. It can be a supervisor. It can be a constructor. It can be a contractor. Everyone is going to have a different level of responsibility, but it is clear that they all should have a certain level of responsibility because what we are doing by eliminating one group, no matter their level of knowledge with regard to construction, is allowing them to be not liable, not impacted, and will allow them to make decisions that are not going to take into consideration safety as a factor that must be considered.

I will give a classic example, Mr. Speaker. I will give the example of a person who is about to hire a roofing contractor. We all know that there are roofing contractors out there who are very good contractors and take safety into consideration, but those ones, obviously, you have to pay a premium for that safety. We also have what they call the midnight cowboys, those organizations that may come in, say, we can do it very cheaply, and we are going to do it in a way that ensures that they are not going to have to pay very much; in fact, they can low-bid other groups with regard to this.

What do we have in those circumstances, Mr. Speaker? We have the owner of the house saying, well, I guess I am not responsible for the safety, I will take the cheaper one. Put a worker up on that roof, that worker is injured, and we all pay through workers' compensation, including the small businesses that have to have increased assessment rates because an owner of that property did not consider safety when hiring the person in the first place. Those are the kind of problems that can be created by the clause that is put in this particular piece of legislation and that is why an amendment to it is not the answer; the answer is not having this bill go forward at all.

Mr. Speaker, I think it is also important to put on the record the whole issue of regulation and review of regulations. I just want to read from Clause 2 of the bill. It states in Clause 2, Section 83A (1), "The Human Resources Committee of the House of Assembly shall appoint, in writing, from the applications received pursuant to subsection (2), a committee of persons to review this Act and the regulations.". (Interruption)

[Page 7371]

Yes, it is debate in principle and I want to get to the principle by reading the actual clause:

"(2) Persons who are interested in serving on the committee appointed pursuant to subsection (1) may apply to the Human Resources Committee in the form determined by the Committee.

(3) The Committee appointed pursuant to subsection (1) shall report, in writing, to the Minister within six months of the date . . .

(4) Regulations made pursuant to this Act cease to have effect one year from the date of the report required . . .". It says something about the length of the bill.

Mr. Speaker, the honourable member who introduced this bill called this a sunset clause on regulations and, you know, I want to talk a bit about the history about that because there is a real need to address the issue of regulatory reform. Up until the passage of the general safety regulations, again a piece of legislation I know something about, up until the passage of those by Cabinet earlier this year, the regulations with regard to construction and industrial safety in this province were up to 50 years old. That is a problem. I do not disagree. It is one that must be addressed.

I do not think this bill does it in a way that will ensure that it is going to be addressed properly because what we will end up having is deregulation and no regulation at all. We will not be in a situation where we are going to have proper review and proper consideration of the regulations in a timely manner.

[5:15 p.m.]

Now, having worked with the Advisory Council on Occupational Health and Safety prior to my being elected, Mr. Speaker, I want to talk for a few minutes about the work that that group did. That group was appointed by the Human Resources Committee of the Legislature and, being appointed by them, that advisory council then went about the work of appointing the people who would be reviewing regulations specifically.

There was representation from various groups, whether it be the Alliance of Manufacturers, whether it be the Construction Association of Nova Scotia, whether it be various unions that are represented and, also, invitations were sent out, on a regular basis, to the Federation of Independent Business and to various small businesses for their input, whether it be through a written response to the regulations as they were drafted, or to actually sit on specific working groups that reviewed the regulations. These came from various organizations, construction companies that I would consider small businesses, manufacturers that were small businesses, where they were willing to volunteer their time to come forward and work on a review of the regulations. That is the kind of work that must be done. It has

[Page 7372]

been done in the past and it can continue to be done. The concern here is that we are going to be putting in a provision that can result in regulations dying.

Now, how can we have consistency in this province, with regard to regulations, if there is going to be a clause that will result in - and I suggest that small business wants consistency in the regulations. I don't think it is to anyone's advantage, workers or employers, Mr. Speaker, to be in a situation where one day the regulations apply, the next day they don't; one year later, there are new regulations, and one year after that, those regulations are dead and we are on to new ones.

If we are talking about the education process, I have heard from some small businesses about the need to ensure that education and explaining the regulations is part of the process of helping them understand, but if the regulations are going to change every year or every five years, or every three years on a wholesale level, what are we doing other than putting them in a position where the regulations aren't going to be consistent. I don't think that is fair to small business. I would hope that small business would want regulations that are consistent, that are put in place, and that they have had an opportunity to be part of the process and then they are in a position where they are able to come forward with regulations and concerns and ensure that they are being addressed.

I suggest that the Human Resources Committee of this House of Assembly, by appointing the people to the advisory council, will ensure that the advisory council will be in a position to actually deal with this.

So I really think there is a need, Mr. Speaker, that we deal with this issue and, quite frankly (Interruptions) It is funny, actually, that the members from the Third Party are so concerned about Occupational Health and Safety and about reviewing, yet what they are talking about is a situation where they are so keen on having this bill rammed through quickly, without ever any real review or consultation. I would suggest that considering the work that went through the Occupational Health and Safety Act recently, considering the review that was done by all stakeholders, including small business, considering the comments that they were able to put in, I would hope that, in this particular case, we would have a situation - again, that was only two years ago that we had a review. The review was completed. It was passed. There was an opportunity for all Parties to be involved. Why would we be in a situation now where we would have this bill come forward without any in-depth consultation prior to its introduction?

I think we have seen, through the Workers' Compensation Act, what happens when bills are introduced in a manner that does not allow for prior consultation before it is brought forward and that is a problem.

MR. SPEAKER: The time allocated for debate on this bill has expired.

[Page 7373]

The honourable Deputy Progressive Conservative House Leader.

MR. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 118.

Bill No. 118 - Motor Vehicle Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Cumberland South.

MR. MURRAY SCOTT: Mr. Speaker, it is a privilege today for me to rise and speak in regard to Bill No. 118, An Act to Amend Chapter 293 of the Revised Statutes, 1989, the Motor Vehicle Act.

Mr. Speaker, clearly, this issue is one that relates directly to the metro area of this province. This legislation is about getting tough on those who do not care about our communities; it is about ensuring that citizens of this province continue to remain in control of those communities that they live in. We have heard stories from people here in metro who feel they have lost their sense of security right in their own backyards. Some of these stories, we have to put a human face on. For example, women who state that they can't even go out for a simple walk on a summer evening with friends in their neighbourhood without having cars drive by . . .

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order, we do not have a quorum in the House at the moment.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Deputy Government House Leader.

MR. PAUL MACEWAN: Very possibly honourable members are in the immediate precincts, and I think it would be proper and due courtesy perhaps to ring the bells for a moment or so rather than trying to jump the gun. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: I believe we have a quorum now.

MR. SCOTT: Mr. Speaker, as I was saying, I have had stories related to me by women who tell me that they can't even go out for a walk on a summer evening with friends without having cars drive around their block two or three times with individuals in those vehicles making them feel very uncomfortable just by their mere presence. I have also heard stories about young children, girls, who have felt very insecure either walking home from school or walking home from other activities in their neighbourhood in the early evening hours.

[Page 7374]

Mr. Speaker, what we may have thought would take place late at night in our communities has turned into happenings that we see in the early hours of the afternoon. I have heard stories of Johns who patrol neighbourhoods looking for prostitutes, not caring about those families that live in that area. The police are doing all they can to address this very serious problem, but they have limited resources. They have attempted extra patrols, and increased enforcement in response to concerns brought forward by the communities.

Mr. Speaker, as I said, they have limited resources and they can only do so much. It is time for us as legislators to assist these communities and the citizens in taking charge of these communities once again. It is time that we come down hard on those who have no regard for the well-being of these communities and their residents.

Mr. Speaker, this bill that we are discussing here today will see the opportunity for police to seize a vehicle from a john and also for the possible sale of that vehicle. Yes, there are many who would say that these are harsh measures, and I would agree that they are, but these are very serious crimes, and that is what it is, a crime. There will be some great inconvenience and financial hardship placed on some of these people and maybe even their own families.

Mr. Speaker, we owe it to the citizens and we owe it to the community to ensure that these people can live in a sense of security without the threat of these people, even if it is only by their mere presence in the community. It is time to make these people responsible. This bill allows for the police and the Registry of Motor Vehicles of this province, in certain circumstances, to release the vehicle back to the accused. This bill is a mirror bill of another province of this country, but we have actually put in place some provisions that will allow for the release of the vehicle.

Mr. Speaker, in a situation with no charges being laid or that person posting a bond, that vehicle may be released. Also, if the accused is eligible for and agrees to John School, the vehicle could also be released to him. If the vehicle that is being used in the commission of this offence does not belong to that individual or if the vehicle was used without the knowledge of the owner, again that vehicle could be returned to the rightful owner.

Mr. Speaker, we are continually asking police in this province to do a task for us, and in this particular situation, it is to make these neighbourhoods safe, and they are doing the best they can. I believe it is an opportunity for all three Parties of this House to put politics aside and do what the people of this province, and in particular the metro area of this province, are asking us to do, and that is to give them back control of their neighbourhoods.

Mr. Speaker, we as a Tory Party feel we have to stand up for the residents of this area. I am asking each of the legislators in this House, in each one of the three Parties to do the same and agree with the provisions of this bill and pass it on to Law Amendments for further discussion. Thank you.

[Page 7375]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Justice.

HON. ROBERT HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, I would like to begin by first of all commending the members opposite for bringing this bill forward. There is no question, and we have heard eloquent testimony from someone who has been on the front lines in one respect, not so much here in metro but as a police officer himself, who would know full well the conditions that exist for some communities, some neighbourhoods within communities. It is a difficult issue, it is one with which communities have been grappling for eons and, needless to say, here in Halifax is one which is troublesome to certain communities in our City of Halifax. I dare say that the member opposite said this is only an issue for metropolitan Halifax. I am not so sure that is the case but at any rate, it is an issue that is more pervasive here than elsewhere.

However, the proposed legislation that the Conservative caucus has brought forward here is not legislation that we can support at this time. There are several reasons why, Mr. Speaker, and I would like to take my time to go through that. As the member opposite has indicated, this bill mirrors legislation that has been put in place in the Province of Manitoba. It is a fairly new initiative, in fact, a considerably recent initiative within the Province of Manitoba and one that requires closer scrutiny before it is replicated in any other province or jurisdiction in this country, in our opinion.

The issue of street prostitution was fully examined by the federal, provincial, territorial working group on prostitution. These are senior officials from Departments of Justice, in both the Government of Canada and the provinces and territories. They released a report in December 1998.While there were differing opinions regarding this issue, the group was unanimous that it did not recommend the seizure and impounding of vehicles as an effective means to address street prostitution.

Now I know that the members opposite are talking about tougher penalties, tougher actions, actions commensurate with effective policing and ultimately the goal is to curb this activity within certain jurisdictions in the neighbourhoods in which this member is meeting people, is discussing these issues.

Some of the main concerns raised by the group, this is the federal-provincial senior officials group, were the possible consequences to others who may be dependent on the very vehicle that is used by the john and, under this legislation, would be seized by the province, by the state, and impounded and, as the member opposite said, possibly even sold. Aside from the possible negative consequences to innocent parties, the effectiveness of such an approach is really not known. It is not clear that impounding vehicles is going to lead to any kind of a cessation of this activity. It may be seen as a deterrent but the problem is if it can be challenged effectively, we may have set back the cause of some of the initiatives that are, in fact, making some headway.

[Page 7376]

We feel it is prudent, as do most, if not all, of our colleagues across this country, to monitor what Manitoba is doing to evaluate the effectiveness of their action, to ensure that what Manitoba is doing here and is proposed to be replicated in this province is actually effective in reducing and providing an effective deterrent to those who would seek and solicit prostitution.

We are also concerned about the issue of constitutionality, criminal laws exclusively within the jurisdiction of the Government of Canada. Should a constitutional challenge be launched in the Province of Manitoba, and one can reasonably anticipate that this will be the case, it would hinge on the powers between the federal and provincial governments.

As members in this House full well know, we do regulate, in fact, we can regulate motor vehicles and traffic for reasons of safety. In fact, impounding and seizing vehicles was sanctioned by this very House as a means to keep drunk drivers off our highways. There are tremendous initiatives going on in this country, province by province, territories, often led by Mothers Against Drunk Driving and others who have an interest in ensuring that our highways are safer, that people think twice about using a vehicle when they are intoxicated and seizing vehicles, impounding vehicles was considered constitutionally and legally appropriate for a province because, in fact, it falls within the jurisdiction that provinces regularly exercise.

To proceed to impound a vehicle for a federal criminal offence, or an allegation of an offence, without question will be subject to challenge in one of the jurisdictions, in this case Manitoba and we believe will be subject to challenge based on federal-provincial powers and the powers that exist between those two levels of government.

[5:30 p.m.]

In addition to that, provinces do not have the authority to regulate matters relating to prostitution. As I have said before, will this bill stand up to a constitutional challenge? It is not something I can honestly or confidently answer. Again, we feel it is appropriate to evaluate the experience in Manitoba both for its effectiveness and for its legal constitutionality. In the meantime, what are we doing in this province to try to address this issue?

One of the early statements made is that we take every step we can to ensure that a society produces citizens, in this case both men and women, who choose other actions to follow than the kinds of choices that are being made by some. It is related to poverty, it is related to historical patterns that have existed and to a certain extent more in a metropolitan and urban setting than in others. It is related to a definition of safe communities and healthy communities, there are many aspects to this.

[Page 7377]

Nova Scotia has produced some initiatives which can best be described as leading initiatives when we compare with other provinces and territories the actions of other jurisdictions. We took a number of definitive steps to deal with the issue of youth involved in prostitution. A task force was put in place a few years ago and we have a safe house to help young people off the streets and into a brighter future.

We have also launched a pilot project in prostitution education. Most people refer to this as the john school. The main objectives of this program are to deter potential customers through a program of education. The participants are charged $650 for the series of sessions involved. They have an opportunity to learn first-hand the health risks that are related to prostitution and the possible consequences if they bring home those health risks to their own families. They also learn about the social impact of prostitution. They hear from members of the community who explain first-hand, as I know they have to the members opposite, first-hand testimonials of what street prostitution is doing to their areas, to their families, to their sense of community, to their neighbourhoods. They hear directly from ex-prostitutes who tell johns what it is like to be caught up in that lifestyle.

To date, a total of 36 individuals have gone through this program. They were all males, obviously, ranging in age from 23 to 72 years and 63 per cent were either married or in common-law relationships. About 80 per cent of the participants were employed on a full-time basis. Program participants were asked to complete an evaluative statement on the experience. Over three-quarters or 76 per cent found that the courses were extremely useful. The funds that have been generated from this course will be used to help fund various community justice initiatives, related projects to prevention and community crime prevention. Already $2,000 alone has been allocated to Exodus House, a place that helps prostitutes get out of the sex trade. A place that offers people a way to get off the street and into more productive and promising life choices.

This is one way to address the street prostitution issue but it is only one. That is way it is extremely important as we convene federal, provincial and territorial conferences, that we learn from other jurisdictions, adopt the best approaches and bring those best practices here to the Province of Nova Scotia.

The fundamental question when faced with this legislation is, is the impoundment of vehicles, an effective deterrent. On the surface it seems as though it would be, just as we found it to be or are hoping that we find it to be a deterrent for drunk driving. Well, time will tell whether or not it is an effective deterrent. We will watch the initiative in Manitoba and will do so with great interest and we are doing it across the country. Will there be a constitutional challenge to that legislation? Again, time will tell.

We feel there are merits to this proposal, however, we do not feel that the time is now for this province to replicate legislation newly enacted in Manitoba for which there are many unanswered questions. We will wait and we will learn from the Manitoba experience. We will

[Page 7378]

continue to bring best practices to this province and improve on those practices which are effectively working now. We believe this approach is the best approach for Nova Scotia. Thank you.

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

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, I stand on behalf of the Official Opposition in support of Bill No. 118. I think the important thing to remember about Bill No. 118 is that it is an attempt to address prostitution by addressing the demand for prostitution. I think that is a key, not the only component, but a key component with regard to dealing with the issue of prostitution that we feel makes this bill a legitimate bill. If johns, as they are so normally called colloquially, are worried about the seizure of their vehicles, I think it is important for us to recognize that they will be less likely to want to use the services of a prostitute and, hopefully, that will reduce the demand.

Bill No. 118, Mr. Speaker, is addressing prostitution as a criminal matter. That is one way of looking at it. Our caucus happens to believe it is also a social problem and one that I will address in a social problem means a little later, but like the war on drugs, if you can limit the demand for criminal activity, you are going a long way to stopping that criminal activity and in this case that would be prostitution.

I think it is important to remember that seizure of a vehicle, it is like a big stick, Mr. Speaker, it probably has as much influence over the threat as it does over the actual seizing of the vehicle. It sends a clear message to johns throughout Nova Scotia. They must stop their destructive behaviour. They must stop destroying our communities or they will have to pay the price and that is why we are supporting Bill No. 118. (Applause) Oh, how the Third Party changes their position depending on the bill.

I think it is important to remember, Mr. Speaker, as I said earlier, the prostitution is more than a criminal matter. It is a social problem as well. I will just identify three specific communities within the metro area that this impacts, or two, I guess. One is the North End of Dartmouth and I believe the honourable member for Dartmouth North will speak for a few minutes on that. Also downtown Halifax is another area that is impacted, but I think it is important to remember this is not just a metro issue. This affects every community in Nova Scotia. Why? Because it is the problems in communities and it is the problems in families that result in people, particularly women but people generally, leaving their communities, coming to a city and being forced into prostitution. That is the social aspect of this and that is what is not being addressed in Bill No. 118, but that we, as a caucus, believe should be.

It has to be remembered, Mr. Speaker, by all members of this House that women and children do not choose to get involved in prostitution. It is abuse in the home, it is drug addiction and it is children who are on the streets and it is those conditions, any of those, that can result in someone being in a position where they are forced into prostitution. The choices

[Page 7379]

are taken away from them because of the difficult circumstances they are in and until we are willing to address those circumstances, there will continue to be children, there will continue to be women, who will be forced into prostitution.

We must address the social conditions, Mr. Speaker, that result in prostitution, a supply side, I guess, of the prostitution continuing. We must have early childhood education and I do not mean with regard to prostitution, but generally. The better educated a child is, the better the early childhood development, the less likely they are to be in a position where they are going to be forced onto the streets and into prostitution. We must increase the services we provide to children, whether that be investigation of abuse matters or whether it be general support programs for families, so that the families do not collapse, that we do not have the problems where we are going to have children put in the position where, again, they are leaving their homes or leaving their communities and they are going onto the streets.

We must provide alternative education programs, Mr. Speaker, for youth. A youth is 12 or 13 or 14 years old or maybe even 10 years old who is in a position where they are feeling that school is not answering the questions for them and they want to quit. We must provide alternative schooling so that they do have opportunities to be provided with the education that keeps them in school, keeps them off the streets and keeps them away from prostitution.

We must address youth at risk programs and I know the Minister of Justice talked about this yesterday in estimates, about preventing crime through early childhood intervention. I applaud that. We must continue, we must improve, because it is youth at risk programs, again, that can help prevent children from being in a position where they are forced into prostitution.

Finally, you must support non-government organizations like Stepping Stone, organizations that are doing the best they can with the resources they have, Mr. Speaker, to try to address the issue of prostitution, and women and children who are forced into it.

Mr. Speaker, to paraphrase the British Prime Minister, we, as a House, we as politicians, must be tough on prostitution. We must be tough on the causes of prostitution. The Progress Conservatives have made a first step towards addressing the issue of prostitution by addressing the issue of demand. But the NDP supports not only Bill No. 118, but also the need to address the causes of prostitution. To do one without the other is to only do half the job and to condemn our children to a dangerous future. We owe them more and we, as a caucus, hope that Bill No. 118 is only the beginning for this Legislature to begin to debate the issue of the causes of prostitution and how we must address them. We can't look at this just as a criminal matter, we must look at it as a social problem, as well. Until we, as a House, begin to address those issues, as well, we will not answer the problems, we will not eliminate prostitution.

[Page 7380]

I suggest to you, Mr. Speaker, that our caucus will support this bill in second reading, but we hope that in the Law Amendments Committee and later on, this Legislature will take the opportunity to debate this issue as a social problem, fully, as well. I pass off the rest of my time to the member for Dartmouth North. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

MR. JERRY PYE: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise to speak on Bill No. 118, regarding the seizure of john vehicles. I want to concur with everything my colleague, the member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage, has said. I want to inform this Legislature that there is an area of Dartmouth North that has become known as the stroll and that area where johns seek out prostitutes and, in so doing, often harass the local women.

Also, we are very much aware that where there is prostitution, there are also drugs. Both come hand in hand. This kind of scourge quickly destroys the community. The residents of this Dartmouth North community are so fed up and now they are hoping that this Legislature can help them eliminate the issue of prostitution. It is their beautiful community and their once-quiet community that now pay the price for the prostitution that now lingers there.

You also, Mr. Speaker, must be made aware that back in June 1995, this community participated in a stakeholders report on prostitution. I had asked the Minister of Justice at that time, what had happened to this stakeholders report. It was supposed to be sent on to the Government of Canada. The minister did not respond and we do not know where that report has gone.

Finally, hopefully, this government will see that this bill will be sent on to the Law Amendments Committee. Then, members of the community of Dartmouth North, along with other communities affected by prostitution, will have the opportunity to put forward and provide input into making this bill an even far more effective bill than what it presently is. Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity to support the legislation today. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Lunenburg.

MR. MICHAEL BAKER: The honourable member for Cape Breton Nova, was he calling for the question too? If he was calling for the question, I will relinquish (Interruption) It is just that it is my turn, Mr. Speaker, I would be glad to take the initiative, but if the honourable member is calling for the question, I would be glad to relinquish the floor.

Mr. Speaker, first of all, I would indicate that the Minister of Justice had indicated that one of his concerns about this bill was the constitutionality of the bill. Without boring members of the House with all the constitutional mumbo-jumbo, there is a thing called the criminal law power. At one point in this country, the criminal law power was very broadly

[Page 7381]

interpreted so that it ousted almost every item of provincial jurisdiction. However, over a number of years, particularly with the drunk driving problem in this country, the criminal law power has been limited to give provinces jurisdiction to deal with matters involving motor vehicles, in particular.

The courts in this country have recognized that the provinces have the ability to put a number of both driving restrictions and motor vehicle restrictions, loss of vehicles, impounding, a whole bunch of other things, which are quite new, Mr. Speaker, and which give the provinces a broader ability to respond to areas that are perhaps peripherally criminal. Clearly this is a matter of great concern to the provinces, and to our province in particular. Street prostitution is a blight on our communities. It is a blight on our society and it has to be eradicated. It is destroying communities in this province.

[5:45 p.m.]

The honourable member for Dartmouth North spoke about his own community, Mr. Speaker, and there are other communities in this province that are being directly harmed by it. We must remember that the innocent people who are the victims of street prostitution come from communities all over Nova Scotia. They come from Yarmouth, Sydney, every other community in this province and they are all being harmed from it.

A number of years ago there was a young lady from my own constituency who was killed while involved in that profession in Halifax. It was a very sad thing. I remember the heartache from the family. It was the drugs and the street prostitution and it led to a cycle which led to, in this particular case, the person's unfortunate death. We can do something about that. We can make sure that the people who create the demand get off the streets. That is exactly what we can do here with this bill. This bill would ensure that those people are off the streets.

I will be honest with you, Mr. Speaker, you have to take dramatic means to discourage this kind of behaviour. In this province deer jacking can lead to the forfeiture of your vehicle. While deer jacking is certainly a problem in rural Nova Scotia, the harm that is done to people by prostitution, I would suggest, is far greater than the harm that is being done to people by deer jacking. When the choice is between human lives and wildlife, my choice is going to be with human lives. That really sends a mixed message about our priorities. Are we going to take away someone's vehicle - and there are no exceptions, by the way, for a vehicle that is used in deer jacking, it is gone, there are no ifs, ands or buts.

This bill tried to introduce a level of compassion, Mr. Speaker, to deal with situations where vehicles were taken without the owner's consent, to deal with situations where the person could not reasonably have foreseen that the vehicle was going to be used in street prostitution. The john school, again, in a situation where rehabilitation is an issue, it tries to address those concerns.

[Page 7382]

On the other hand, we have a bill here that has potential. It may need fine tuning, and I would certainly look to the government side of the House for leadership on this issue because we are prepared to work with all Parties to fine-tune the bill. I can tell you, Mr. Speaker, if this bill goes to the Law Amendments Committee, I can assure you that there will be people who will be here from communities all over this province who want to speak in favour of the bill. If we give them the chance to be heard, they will be heard.

Now you know, Mr. Speaker, the minister said we are studying to see what happens. How much longer do we have to study the problem? It is a sad truth but prostitution is not exactly a new phenomenon. How much longer do we have to study the problem before we recognize that it is a problem? You can study that endlessly. You can have working groups and you can have bureaucrats but, at some point, you have to stand up and be counted. I would suggest that this bill is a bill where we can stand up and be counted. We have support from the New Democratic Party for this bill. It is certainly our bill and I call for a vote on the bill. The government members who are present, if they wish, can vote their conscience but at least let's vote on the bill. We can talk all we want but the people of this province expect some action.

Mr. Speaker, when you consider the harm being done by prostitution, both to adults and to children, the suffering that we can maybe help make some difference in, and the complete loss of pride in community. I am very lucky because I come from a community where there is a great deal of pride, but there are communities in this province where, because of this terrible problem, it attacks the pride of the community. You know what? I have young children. I don't know how I would feel if I went for a walk with my young children and we were at risk of being accosted by street prostitutes, whether there be johns, the drugs that are attracted to this, all the problems that are created by not addressing the problem, ancillary street crime that comes from both drugs and prostitution. We can do something. This is not the cure for the problem. Clearly there are social causes to prostitution in this province, lack of opportunity, hopelessness, abuse, there are all sorts of problems that exacerbate the problem, but the problem was not and is not going to be solved by this, but it could help.

The honourable members opposite have every ability to talk out this bill. I am going to relinquish the floor in time to allow there to be a vote on the bill and I would implore the government members opposite to allow the bill to come to a vote. If the members here feel it should be forwarded on to the Law Amendments Committee, so be it. If they want to vote against it, so be it. Simply because a bill is proposed by the Opposition does not make it wrong. We have cooperated with bills that have come from the government side, and we are imploring that the government cooperate. The minister, in all fairness, did not speak against the principle of the bill; he recognizes it is a problem. What the minister was saying is that we should have some more time, and what I am suggesting to this House is that we can do something now. I am going to call for a vote. I think you should call for the question on this bill.

[Page 7383]

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

MR. PAUL MACEWAN: The government has indicated its full sympathy with the professed intention of this bill. It has, however, reserved - and I suggest very properly - the prerogative of government to exercise initiative on this matter on such terms and conditions as the government deems to be appropriate. The legislation has been drafted in a hasty process that we had no input into, and does not, to the best of our knowledge, represent to the full utilization, the research capacities of the Department of Justice. It is something that is introduced here on the floor of this House primarily to achieve political gain, I suggest, more so than to actually address the problem. There has been no public input solicited that we know of prior to the formulation of this bill.

On examination of the bill we find . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. MACEWAN: Has the time expired Mr. Speaker?

MR. SPEAKER: Time has expired.

MR. FRANK CORBETT: Time has expired.

MR. MACEWAN: Well, the honourable member for Cape Breton Centre says my time has expired; I am sorry about that because I was just beginning to warm up.

MR. SPEAKER: The time allotted for this bill was to 5:53 p.m.

MR. MICHAEL BAKER: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker, the time allotted for the bill, I believe, was to 6:00 p.m.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I was given this sheet and it shows 5:53 p.m. I don't know where that came from.

AN HON. MEMBER: It's the member's time. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: I am unsure at the moment. The honourable member for Cape Breton Nova has the floor then, because I am not sure where these numbers came from. (Interruptions) Order, please.

MR. MACEWAN: Mr. Speaker, I am not relinquishing the floor, but the . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: You sat down.

[Page 7384]

MR. MACEWAN: I sat down because the Speaker indicated . . .

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

MR. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. The time allocated, according to our sheet, and it was our Opposition Day, it was to end at 6:00 p.m.

MR. SPEAKER: I have an amendment on this though that shows 5:53 p.m.

MR. DONALD CHARD: I think I can . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Okay. I will relinquish the Chair just for a moment.

MR. PAUL MACEWAN: If I could speak to the point of order. It would be appropriate at the conclusion to indicate the next day's order of business. Hopefully we might adjourn at 5:58 p.m. or 5:57 p.m.

MR. [DEPUTY] SPEAKER: If I might provide clarification. I think I have left the Speaker in some confusion. I had meant simply to indicate that the member from Lunenburg, his time was up at 5:53 p.m. That was my notation. The Deputy Progressive Conservative House Leader, is correct in that there was originally time allocated until 6:00 p.m. for this debate. (Interruptions)

MR. PAUL MACEWAN: On a further point of order, will the debate continue until 6:00 p.m. sharp?

MR. SPEAKER: With that explanation, yes, it is, until 6:00 p.m.

MR. PAUL MACEWAN: Well, I was beginning to say that the view of the government, it may be that the legislation proposed does not actually achieve the goals so eloquently outlined by our honourable friends opposite because, on a quick read of this bill, I note that it contains very wide-ranging provisions for legislation by regulation so that the bill would construct a certain skeleton, a certain form perhaps, but the actual detail, the actual implementation would be done by regulation of the Governor in Council which is a rather peculiar formula, I should think, for a bill introduced by Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition. So I might say, sir, that it seems to me, indeed peculiar that the honourable members opposite would wish to convey to the Executive Council on this side of the House the power to essentially define the terms and parameters of their bill. That strikes me as peculiar.

It states here at Clause 1, Section 291E(22), "The Governor in Council may make regulations", for instance, "(b) respecting the release of motor vehicles detained pursuant to this Section.".

[Page 7385]

The legislation that is presented to the House is enabling, I quote here from the Explanatory Notes, ". . . enables a peace officer to detain a motor vehicle where the peace officer is satisfied that the vehicle is being operated in the course of committing an offence . . .". So it gives power to detain yet the bill has been produced and advertised as a piece of legislation that would provide for the impoundment, for the seizure and confiscation of a motor vehicle in much the same way as one might have one's vehicle permanently lost if one were to cross the border into the land of the free and the home of the brave and to make a false statement on declaring the contents of one's vehicle.

The U.S. Custom Service has the power to seize and confiscate a vehicle and you never get it back and you do not get compensated for the value of your vehicle, but this bill has no teeth in it at all because presumably a Governor in Council regulation could, to all intents and purposes, nullify the stated intent of the legislation by providing for very free and easy release of motor vehicles so that they might perhaps be towed down to the pound and locked up there for 15 minutes. Then you pay perhaps $35 for the return of your vehicle or some other such relatively meaningless formula which, in effect, would undermine and destroy the claimed intent of this bill. So, sir, we have trouble with the support of such a wishy-washy, imprecise, vague and ill-defined formulation.

We have stated that our government is committed to the principles of dealing effectively with a problem that this bill seeks to address but, sir, we are going to do that carefully. We are going to do that with due deliberation. We are going to do that with some degree of input and when a bill is brought to this House by our Minister of Justice, as I am sure that it will be in the fullness of time to deal properly and effectively with this matter, it will represent the best advice, the best input and the best draftsmanship that is possible and so, I say, sir, the bill does not appear to match the bill of goods, the statement of what it intends to do, the explanatory notes, the title, the ballyhoo, the promotion. It does not seem that the goods that are actually inside the package match that promotion at all.

We have here a rather toothless tiger, a bill that does not seriously address the issue and so, Mr. Speaker, in the considered opinion of the honourable members who advise and counsel Her Majesty, I might say that I think that this bill warrants further consideration. Indeed, it might be revived at a future occasion and by adjourning the debate when the clock strikes 6:00 o'clock, in no way are we voting against this bill. We are not voting to kill this bill. We are asking for additional consideration so that the bill can be dealt with and the topic can be dealt with adequately and properly. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The time has expired.

The honourable Deputy Government House Leader. (Interruptions)

[Page 7386]

MR. PAUL MACEWAN: Mr. Speaker, the House tomorrow will sit from 12:00 p.m. until 8:00 p.m. Following Question Period we will be dealing with estimates. Then, following the consideration of Supply Unto Her Majesty, if time permits, in consultation with the House Leaders of the other Parties, we can consider dealing with bills on the order paper.

[6:00 p.m.]

I would move that the House do now rise to meet Thursday afternoon at the hour of 12:00 Noon.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is carried.

We stand adjourned until 12:00 noon on Thursday.

We have reached the moment of interruption and the debate for today was submitted by the honourable member for Inverness.

ADJOURNMENT

MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Inverness.

EDUC. - N.S. COMMUN. COL.: TRAINING - RECOGNITION (INTERNAT.)

MR. CHARLES MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, the resolution I am speaking to tonight is about education. But it is about more than that, it is also about providing opportunity for our young people. The resolution before the House tonight reads:

"Therefore be it resolved this government is proud of the growing reputation of the Nova Scotia Community College for providing internationally recognized training and education to Nova Scotians in an expanding field of job opportunities.".

I represent a rural riding. In many rural areas, education has traditionally taken a back seat to opportunity. There are entire communities in Nova Scotia where generations of young men would quit school to go fishing or to work in the woods. Luckily this is changing.

Provincial graduation rates continue to rise. They reached 78.4 per cent for the 1996-97 school year. This was the highest rate ever, an increase of almost 4 percentage points over the previous year and up by almost 17 percentage points since 1985-86. There are many reasons for these positive numbers. Young people realize more than ever before the importance of a good education. And today there are more opportunities for young people

[Page 7387]

to get the type of training they want after leaving high school. This is an area where the Nova Scotia Community College system is gaining reputation.

Before the passing of the Community Colleges Act of 1996, or the Auditor General's Report of 1993, the different campuses of the Nova Scotia Community College were considered trade schools. Learning trades is still important but today the college has re-invented itself as one of the leading schools for education and training that is crucial to a changing economy. In fact, Maclean's Magazine has described the Nova Scotia Community College as the college of the future. This is why more graduates of the college are finding jobs.

Numbers released last year show that 74.6 per cent of students are getting a job within a year of graduation. That is three out of every four graduates of the community college. That is up 5 per cent from 1993. To get an idea of how many people are actually finding jobs, it is important to remember that more than 7,000 full-time and 13,000 part-time students are enrolled at 13 campuses across the province.

The community college is successful because it adapts and changes to meet the needs of the labour market. It works closely with industry to identify what skills are needed in Nova Scotia. For instance, the Call Centre Management Program is offered at the Halifax Campus. This program was started a few years ago. Practically every student who graduates from this program is finding a job when they are finished.

Earlier today in this House we welcomed a delegation of students from Ireland who came to Nova Scotia to study about call centres. This is an example of how the community college is training Nova Scotians and exporting our knowledge around the world. The community college also has close ties with the Philippines. Representatives from the Centre for Geographic Studies and the Nautical Institute went to the Phillippines to share information and sign agreements worth between $10 million to $14 million. Another program in which nearly 100 per cent of graduates are finding work is the Computerized Machining Technician Program.

The community college is also playing a role in the very exciting offshore industry. In April, Minister Manning MacDonald announced that $450,000 will be provided to train Nova Scotians for the offshore at the community college's Marconi Campus in Cape Breton. Training will be offered in instrumentation engineering, technology, and this one year program is the first of its kind in Nova Scotia. Instrumentation is required in the operation of petroleum plants and later this year the natural gas plant at Goldboro and the gas fractionization plant at Point Tupper will be opening. The private sector is also working on plans to build a petrochemical plant at the Strait of Canso.

[Page 7388]

Funding by the federal and provincial governments has allowed the Marconi Campus to establish the Petroleum Institute. The Petroleum Institute will prepare students to succeed in the offshore industry, as well as in related careers associated in oil and gas.

I am also proud of the fact that the Strait area campus is hosting a program for young women between the ages of 9 and 14. The program will make them even more aware of career choices in the field of trades and technology. The schools selected to participate in the program are Waycobah First Nation Secondary, Dr. J.H. Gillis Regional High, Antigonish East High, Strait Area Education Recreation Centre, the Guysborough Academy, the Canso Academy, Saint Marys Academy and Duncan MacMillan High School.

I am also quite pleased with the new program the community college is offering in community economic development. Recent graduates of this program at the Truro campus will take their new skills back to their communities. One of the community-based projects that will benefit from this program is the new whale interpretative centre in Pleasant Bay, which has received some attention from across the province, thanks to the Progressive Conservative caucus across the way.

Since 1994 the Nova Scotia Community College have introduced 55 new programs. This is a good demonstration of its ability to respond to the economic development strategies of this province. I know the President of the college, Ray Ivany, is supportive of the recent provincial budget. He is very happy with the amount put back into the community college system and, with the help of every member of this House, the Nova Scotia Community College will continue to change and adapt to meet the needs of students and employers. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Citadel.

MR. PETER DELEFES: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak on this resolution tonight, as I am always pleased to speak when I have an opportunity to perorate on the subject of the Nova Scotia Community College, which I believe has the potential to become one of the great economic engines of this province.

The resolution cites the government's pride in the growing reputation of the college for providing internationally recognized training and education programs. I fully endorse this resolution, Mr. Speaker. The government should be proud of the college's reputation. It has done an excellent job striving to meet the present demands of the labour market and to anticipate future needs of the labour market.

However, in so doing, Mr. Speaker, it has faced very difficult odds. It has been seriously underfunded and seriously underdeveloped by this government for a number of years. It is ironic that the mover of this resolution speaks of the government's pride when this government has so seriously underfunded and retarded the development of this college over

[Page 7389]

the last number of years. As a matter of fact, last year, in the past fiscal year, when incrementally the universities got $25 million and the public school system got $82 million, the community college received zero dollars. So it speaks, in fact, of the very little pride it does take in the community college if it won't provide the funds needed for it to reach its potential.

I introduced a resolution in this House on May 20th, and the resolution read: "Therefore be it resolved that the government support the growth and development of the Nova Scotia Community College as an important part of its economic development strategy.".

My reason for introducing that resolution, Mr. Speaker, was to emphasize the need to provide appropriate funding for the college, to enable it to fulfill its mandate. Its mandate is to improve the social and economic well being of the province. I have had the opportunity to visit many of the 13 campuses in the province. I have been very impressed with the dedicated staff and, of course, with the President, whom I have also had the pleasure and the honour to meet, Mr. Ray Ivany, who is much respected by members of the staff and by, in fact, the community at large. They respect him, I think, for the vision he has of where the community college can go.

I agree that the college has a good reputation and that it is working hard to train Nova Scotians in an expanding field of job opportunities. In fact, on June 7th, I introduced two resolutions in this House. The first pertained to the two year Screen Arts Technician Diploma program. This is a unique program, which will train students in state of the art digital technology, which can be used in the burgeoning film and video industry in this province. It is a very forward looking program, Mr. Speaker.

I also commended the college for its Petroleum Institute, which has been established at the Marconi Campus in Sydney and this will prepare students for the offshore oil and gas industry in Nova Scotia. Nevertheless, Mr. Speaker, Nova Scotia has got to start producing more technically skilled, competent people or we will end up importing them, as we have had to do in the oil and gas field. It is most regrettable, at a time when applications for the community college are extremely high - I think, at the present time, they are running at about 18,500 for next year, when there are only 7,000 spaces - when the economy requires a very high level of education from the labour force and at a time when unemployment in this province is extremely high, that the college has been in a declining state of financial support from this government. That, in fact, is most regrettable.

I would like to just take a moment to review the facts and figures, to emphasize just how low the level of support for the college has been from the Liberal Government. In fact, funding for the college, over the last number of years, has been reduced by $10 million. As I have said on previous occasions in this House, Mr. Speaker, if we look at the participation figures in the post-secondary sector, we will know that, here in Nova Scotia, 83 per cent of all post-secondary students are university students, whereas only 17 per cent are community

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college students and in the rest of Canada, those percentages are almost equal, 50 per cent for university and 50 per cent for the community college. So there is a huge discrepancy in this province. Too few of our students are attending the community college. There is a huge demand for the college. As I indicated, 18,000 students have applied to attend the college next year. If our enrolment figures for the Community College of Nova Scotia were at the national average, the enrolment of the college would have been 15,300, instead of 7,000. That is why I say the college has been seriously underfunded.

Also, as we look at the funding of post-secondary institutions in Nova Scotia, we will find that university students are funded at about $40 per capita higher than the national average, whereas community college funding, per capita, is at the very lowest in Canada, $75 per student. Even if our province was funded at the same level as our neighbouring province, New Brunswick, we would have a 25 per cent increase in funding for the community college. I cite these statistics, Mr. Speaker, to drive home the fact that our college is underfunded and, therefore, unable to realize its true potential.

The government has provided some $5.3 million for the college in this budget, which we are now discussing. This comes after a period of cutbacks to the college by both the federal and the provincial governments. I mentioned, from the provincial government, there has been a reduction in funds to the degree of some $10 million these last few years.

[6:15 p.m.]

One good piece of news for the college, however, Mr. Speaker, is that the government has made the commitment in this budget to authorize the college to come up with a plan to increase the total number of students at the college by over 50 per cent by the year 2003. This would mean that the enrolment would rise to some 10,000 students by that year. I don't expect this government to be around by the year 2003; however, I would hope that an alternative government, an alternate government would ensure that this target is met and, in fact. the enrolment does rise to 10,000 students.

How much time do I have left?

MR. SPEAKER: You have approximately two minutes and some-odd seconds.

MR. DELEFES: I will close in saying that we do have every right to be proud of the Nova Scotia Community College. It is the newest community college in Canada. Unfortunately, here in Nova Scotia, we have been slow to move to a developed community college system, such as that which we have in other provinces, and that is why only 17 per cent of all our post-secondary students in this province are community college students.

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We have a way to go, a long way to go, to reshape the labour training and educational opportunities which Nova Scotia students will have. Let's give the community college the capacity to realize its potential. Thank you.

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

MR. GORDON BALSER: Mr. Speaker, it gives me pleasure to rise tonight to speak to the resolution submitted by the member for Inverness. This government is proud of the growing reputation of the Nova Scotia Community College for providing internationally recognized training and education to Nova Scotians in job opportunities in expanding fields. There is justification to feel proud; the Nova Scotia Community College system has undergone a massive restructuring over the last little while and, in fact, is showing that it can become responsive.

There was a time, not that long ago, when the community college concept took on a more vocational directive and, in fact, it became to some degree a dumping ground for students who were not destined for university training. That is unfortunate because that perception lingers on in the minds of many of the people who are looking at post-secondary training.

It is in fact one of the major considerations that brought about the draft document, A New College for Nova Scotia. What they attempted to do there was to talk to the people of Nova Scotia to determine exactly what it was they were looking for in ways of training young people to be able to become employable but, also, at the same time to make them well-rounded citizens who were capable of making informed decisions.

It is interesting to note that out of that document, the mission statement for the new Nova Scotia Community College system is building Nova Scotia's economy and quality of life through education and innovation. I think innovation is a very important word in that mission statement. Now more than ever before, education must be adaptable, it must be able to realize the needs of the workforce and to adapt training programs so that there is a quick response to new opportunities that occur.

It is interesting to note, as was mentioned earlier, that only 17 per cent of the students leaving high school view the community college system as a viable alternative. For many years, perhaps because of the fact that we have so many universities in this province, so many widely recognized and certainly prestigious universities, young people here see university as the route to post-secondary training. The reality is that the dynamics of our economy have changed to the degree where now oftentimes community college training will, in fact, provide skills that will allow them to enter the workforce more readily.

I have heard the comment, made by more than one university graduate, that I got my university degree to get an education and an experience and now I am going to take the

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community college training to be sure that I can get a job. I think the reality is that there is a value in both training, but certainly a well-rounded program, the one that is being offered now at the community colleges is going to provide that opportunity. It is unfortunate, too, to note that the gender breakdown of the students currently enrolled in the community college system, while it is moving more towards a 50/50 split, there still seems to be a view that it is a male-dominated training ground and that it leads to construction related career choices and I believe that there is nothing further from the truth.

In fact, today's community college offers a wide range of programs and training. I know the two previous speakers have mentioned at length, the various courses being offered tenets. In the draft document what it suggests there is that one of the most important tenants of a new vision for the Nova Scotia Community College system is that it will talk to the people who will be accessing the programs, to ensure that they are programs that are needed, that are doing what the people who will take them want and which will, in fact, lead to employment.

The other thing that came out of the draft document was that many of the employers in this province, those people who will be trying to find places for the young people who are taking the community college training, don't feel they are directly involved, or have not in the past. So what the strategic plan called for was consultation with those people to design programs to fit the needs of the employer and, at the same time, to open discussions about work placement experiences. So overall, the new direction for the Nova Scotia Community College has been a positive one.

It was mentioned earlier on, too, that the President of the Nova Scotia Community College, Ray Ivany is bringing a new vision to that structure. I know he is anxious to ensure that funding is increased so that the Nova Scotia Community College system can take its rightful place alongside the other post-secondary institutions in offering what young people want in terms of post-secondary training.

The reality is, too, that young people now are very cognizant of the costs associated with post-secondary training and young people are looking at universities and the debt load that occurs when they choose that route of training, as opposed to that which is available through the Nova Scotia Community College system. The reality is that the community college often offers a much quicker route to the workforce. That is not belittling the programs that are offered because they run the range from highly technological to more traditional training, in carpentry and vocational directed skills. Those are good things.

What we need in our community college system is a wide range of programs so that the needs of many people are met, in terms of employment but also in terms of employers, so that those people will also be able to find the needs that they have met.

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A great many documents have been generated around what community colleges could and should do. What is happening is that education is becoming a highly competitive industry, that is that now the courses offered in community colleges are being offered concurrently in private sector operations and so what has happened because of the competitive nature of chasing students, in terms of where they will attend, the community college has become much more receptive and responsive to the needs of the students and the workforce.

What I would like to do is speak a bit, too, about the things that have emerged as a result of the consultation process. I do know that when the Nova Scotia Community College travelled the province, setting up planning sessions to talk not only to educators but also to students and to employers, they looked at the direction they would take in the future. They recognized very quickly that the dynamics of the Nova Scotia economy have changed radically from what existed 10 years ago, that is that job opportunities that didn't exist 10 years ago exist now and in abundance. What they have said is that we must really have a mindset shift to reflect what is going on in the economy and in the private sector.

The community college for a long time languished in the doldrums of sort of introspection and they thought that what was traditional should be maintained and they certainly moved away from that, but I would also like to talk a bit about a group of students whose needs are not being met, that is that by and large many of us view the public school system as a training ground for people to move on to post-secondary training, whether that be in university or in college, but a great many students want to enter the workforce directly or, in fact, may not see the public school as an environment where they can be successful. For a long time, as I mentioned earlier, the vocational school was able to accommodate students like that.

It is unfortunate that as the community college has shifted in a new direction, that there is less opportunity for those people to be able to continue their training. In fact, a high percentage of these students who are enrolled in the community college, at this point in time, have not only high school attainment, but also some post-secondary university or formalized training beyond the Grade 12 level.

So, it is making it very competitive and that is an issue, too. As jobs become more difficult to attain, the competition for placements in the limited number of seats in the community college setting becomes much more fierce. So, while there is, certainly, merit in saying that the Nova Scotia Community College system is a source of pride and well should be, there are still areas of concern. I thank the member opposite for allowing us the opportunity this evening to talk about the issue of the Nova Scotia Community College and where they should be going in the future. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The House is adjourned.

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