Assemblée Législative de la Nouvelle-Écosse

Les travaux de la Chambre ont repris le
21 septembre 2017

Hansard -- Wed., May 19, 1999

First Session

WEDNESDAY, MAY 19, 1999

TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE
PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS:
Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Georgefield Rd. (Hants East): Condition -
Deplorable, Mr. John MacDonell 5873
Fish. - Seniors: Licences - Fees Exempt, Mr. B. Taylor 5874
Transport. & Pub. Wks.: Whitehill Rd. (Pictou West) - Upgrade,
Mr. C. Parker 5874
Educ. - Pugwash District High School: Teachers - Increase, Mr. E. Fage 5874
Fish. - Seniors: Licences - Fees Exempt, Mr. B. Taylor 5874
PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES:
Commun. Serv. - Socioeconomic Impact of Video Lottery Terminals,
Ms. Maureen MacDonald 5875
STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS:
Justice - RCMP: Tom Forrestall Print - Thanks, Hon. R. Harrison 5875
Commun. Serv. - Adoption Information: Fees - Eliminate,
Hon. F. Cosman 5878
Econ. Dev. & Tourism - Export Achievement Awards: Winners -
Congrats., Hon. Manning MacDonald 5881
Environ. - Pictou County: Solid Waste Composting Facility -
Sod Turning, Hon. M. Samson 5886
Lbr.: Nova Scotia Fire Service Professional Qualifications Board -
Formation, Hon. R. MacKinnon 5888
GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 2796, Health - Kosovo: Refugees - Response (Participants) Thank,
Hon. J. Smith 5892
Vote - Affirmative 5893
Res. 2797, Agric. - Rainbow Farms (Mr. Ronald Weatherhead): Exports -
Contribution Recognize, Hon. E. Lorraine 5893
Vote - Affirmative 5893
Res. 2798, Educ. - N.S. Museum: Achievements - Congrats.,
Hon. W. Gaudet 5893
Vote - Affirmative 5894
Res. 2799, YWCA (Hfx.) - Women's Recognition Awards (1999):
Winners - Congrats., Hon. F. Cosman 5894
Vote - Affirmative 5895
Res. 2800, Nat. Res. - Forests: Fire Risk - MLAs Safety Encourage,
Hon. K. MacAskill 5895
Vote - Affirmative 5896
Res. 2801, Agric. - 4-H Prog.: Leadership/Export - Recognize,
Hon. E. Lorraine 5896
Vote - Affirmative 5896
Res. 2802, Commun. Serv. - Commun. Learning Ctrs. (Shel. & Yar.):
Opening - Congrats., Hon. F. Cosman 5896
Vote - Affirmative 5897
Res. 2803, Health: Haemochromatosis Awareness Week (1999) -
Recognize, Hon. J. Smith 5897
Vote - Affirmative 5898
Res. 2804, Commun. Serv. - Children: Get Set for Life Prog. -
Congrats., Hon. F. Cosman 5898
Vote - Affirmative 5899
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS:
No. 99, Direct Sellers' Regulation Act, Hon. R. Harrison 5899
NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 2805, Agric. - AIDA Prog.: Overhaul - Endorse, Mr. R. Chisholm 5899
Res. 2806, SCS: Functional - Ensure, Dr. J. Hamm 5900
Res. 2807, Health: Huntington's Disease Awareness Month (May 1999) -
Proclaim, Mr. L. Montgomery 5901
Vote - Affirmative 5902
Res. 2808, RCMP - Herring Cove Commun. Office: Opening - Congrats.,
Mr. R. Chisholm 5902
Vote - Affirmative 5902
Res. 2809, Lbr. - Safety Helmet: Min. - Use Ensure, Mr. G. Balser 5903
Res. 2810, Econ. Dev. & Tourism - ECI Medical Technologies Ltd.
(Bridgewater): Growth - Congrats., Hon. D. Downe 5903
Vote - Affirmative 5904
Res. 2811, Educ. - UCCB: Convocation (Spring 1999-Top Prize) -
Anna Eddy (Sydney) Congrats., Ms. Helen MacDonald 5904
Vote - Affirmative 5905
Res. 2812, Devco - Miners: Fair Treatment - Actions (Premier) Inform,
Mr. G. Archibald 5905
Res. 2813, Educ. - Whycocomagh Consol. School: Environ. Canada
Grant - Congrats., Mr. Charles MacDonald 5906
Vote - Affirmative 5906
Res. 2814, Culture - Wreck Cove Publishing: "The Highland Heart in
Nova Scotia" [Neil MacNeil] Anniv. 50th - Congrats.,
Ms. Helen MacDonald 5906
Vote - Affirmative 5907
Res. 2815, Halifax Bedford Basin MLA: Birthday - Congrats.,
The Premier 5907
Vote - Affirmative 5907
Res. 2816, Transport. & Pub. Wks.: N.S. Roadbuilders Assoc. -
Meet, Mr. B. Taylor 5908
Res. 2817, Econ. Dev. & Tourism - Aerospace Indust.: Promoter
(Mr. Maurice Guitton) - Congrats., Hon. D. Downe 5908
Vote - Affirmative 5909
Res. 2818, Culture - Forbes March (Hfx.): "All My Children" Debut -
Congrats., Ms. E. O'Connell 5909
Vote - Affirmative 5910
Res. 2819, Educ. - Elmsdale Dist. School: Needs - Address, Mr. E. Fage 5910
Res. 2820, NDP (N.S.) - USWA: Money - Return, Mr. P. MacEwan 5911
Res. 2821, Nat. Res. - Nat. Gas: Exploration Licences -
Benefits (N.S.) Consider, Mr. J. Holm 5911
Res. 2822, Educ. - Commun. Learning Ctr. (Lawrencetown):
1999 Partners in Educ. Award - Congrats., Mr. L. Montgomery 5912
Vote - Affirmative 5913
Res. 2823, Educ. - Cole Hbr. DHS: N.S. Skills Comp. (Robotics) -
Success Congrats., Mr. Kevin Deveaux 5913
Vote - Affirmative 5913
Congrats., Mr. H. Fraser 5914
Vote - Affirmative 5914
Res. 2825, YWCA (Hfx.): Service (126 Yrs.)/Women's Recognition
Awards (18th) - Congrats., Ms. Y. Atwell 5914
Vote - Affirmative 5915
Res. 2826, Culture - CBC: Documentary (Blood on the Coal) -
Geoff D'Eon (Producer) Recognize, Mr. G. Fogarty 5915
Vote - Affirmative 5916
Res. 2827, Commun. Serv. - Secure Treatment Facility: Address -
Failure Condemn, Mr. D. Chard 5916
Res. 2828, Educ. - Schools: Construction Prog. - Commend,
Hon. K. MacAskill 5917
Res. 2829, Devco - Transition Package: Improvement -
Students Activism Commend, Mr. F. Corbett 5917
Res. 2830, Devco - Transition Package: Improvement -
Non-Performance (Peter Mancini MP), Mr. P. MacEwan 5918
Res. 2831, Fish. - Lobster: Illegal Fishing - Abandonment
(Argyle & Eastern Shore MLAs) Apologize, Mr. John Deveau 5919
Res. 2832, Econ. Dev. & Tourism - Job Search: Efforts (N.S.) -
Support, Hon. M. Samson 5919
Res. 2833, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Prospect Rd.: Improvement
Priority List - Position Reveal, Mr. W. Estabrooks 5920
Res. 2834, NDP - Insurance: Intentions - Apologize, Mr. H. Fraser 5921
Res. 2835, Health - Pharmacare: Seniors - Answers Provide,
Ms. Maureen MacDonald 5921
Res. 2836, Health - Twin Oaks Senior Citizens' Assoc.:
Anniv. 20th - Congrats., Hon. K. Colwell 5922
Vote - Affirmative 5922
Res. 2837, Housing & Mun. Affs. - Downtown Hfx. BIDC:
Cooperation - Encourage, Mr. H. Epstein 5922
Res. 2838, NDP (N.S.) Leader: Pro-Wrestling Ring - Enter,
Hon. M. Samson 5923
Res. 2839, Econ. Dev. & Tourism - Summer Employment Program:
Criteria - Standards Raise, Mr. D. Dexter 5924
Res. 2840, NDP (N.S.) Leader: Par - Concentrate,
Mr. Charles MacDonald 5924
Res. 2841, Environ. - Commun. Wide Clean-Up (Dist. 9 [HRM]):
Volunteers - Commend, Mr. J. Pye 5925
Vote - Affirmative 5926
Res. 2842, Econ. Dev. & Tourism - Survival Systems Ltd.
(Mr. Albert Bohemier & Staff): Export Market Award - Congrats.,
Hon. J. Smith 5926
Vote - Affirmative 5926
Res. 2943, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Road Improvements: Priority List -
Fair Develop, Mr. C. Parker 5927
Res. 2844, Sports - Bedford Skippers (Coach-Ed Cooper): Efforts -
Congrats., Hon. F. Cosman 5927
Vote - Affirmative 5928
Res. 2845, Elsie Horne: Birthday (102th) - Congrats., Mr. John MacDonell 5928
Vote - Affirmative 5929
Res. 2846, Housing & Mun. Affs. - Habitat For Humanity:
Cole Hbr. Homes - Congrats., Ms. R. Godin 5929
Vote - Affirmative 5929
Res. 2847, Culture - Pier 21 Arts Annex Assoc.: Work Spaces - Congrats.,
Mr. P. Delefes 5929
Vote - Affirmative 5930
Res. 2848, Educ. - Prince Andrew HS (G12-Mr. Greg King):
Landscaping Project - Congrats., Hon. J. Smith 5930
Vote - Affirmative 5931
Res. 2949, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Trunk 12: Harvest -
Transport. & Agric. Mins.-Chester St. Margaret's MLA-Join,
Dr. H. Bitter-Suermann 5931
Res. 2850, Rec. (N.S.) - Anika Adekayode (Hfx. West HS):
Volunteer Award - Congrats., Ms. E. O'Connell 5932
Vote - Affirmative 5932
Res. 2851, Environ. - Second Lake Reg. Pk. Assoc.: Accomplishments -
Congrats., Mr. J. Holm 5932
Vote - Affirmative 5933
Res. 2852, Educ. - Cole Hbr. HS: N.S. Skills Comp. (Web Page Design) -
Students Success Congrats., Mr. Kevin Deveaux 5933
Vote - Affirmative 5934
Res. 2853, Sports - Tae-Kwon-Do Jade Bradbury (Lake Echo):
Junior Black Belt - Congrats., Ms. Y. Atwell 5934
Vote - Affirmative 5934
Res. 2854, Fish. - Georges Bank: Drilling Moratorium -
Comments Scope, Mr. D. Chard 5935
Res. 2855, Nat. Res. - Dominion Beach: Future - Secure, Mr. F. Corbett 5935
Res. 2856, Nat. Res. - Ellenwood Pk. (Yar. Co.): Open - Earlier,
Mr. John Deveau 5936
Res. 2857, Health - Organ Donor Awareness: Kaiser Family (Hubley) -
Commitment Congrats., Mr. W. Estabrooks 5936
Vote - Affirmative 5937
Res. 2858, Health - Nurses: Shortage - Address,
Ms. Maureen MacDonald 5937
Res. 2859, Fin. - Banks: Branches Reduction - Alarm View,
Mr. H. Epstein 5938
Res. 2860, Educ. - Aimee Richard (Cole Hbr. HS): Outstanding
Commun. Leadership - Congrats., Mr. D. Dexter 5939
Vote - Affirmative 5941
Res. 2861, SCS - Strengthen: Methodology - Reveal, Mr. J. Pye 5939
Res. 2862, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Budget (1999-2000):
Secondary Roads (Rural) - Increase, Mr. C. Parker 5940
Res. 2863, Agric. - Drought: Relief - Facts Concentrate,
Mr. John MacDonell 5941
Res. 2864, Commun. Serv. - Skyline Enterprises (Beaver Bank):
Anniv. 10th - Congrats., Ms. R. Godin 5942
Vote - Affirmative 5942
ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS:
No. 925, Sysco - Business Plan, Mr. R. Chisholm 5942
No. 926, Sysco - Hoogovens: Management - Cost, Dr. J. Hamm 5943
No. 927, Sysco: Directors - Appt. (John Strasser), Mr. R. Chisholm 5944
No. 928, Sysco - Business Plan, Dr. J. Hamm 5946
No. 929, Health - Nurses: Shortage - Yarmouth,
Ms. Maureen MacDonald 5947
No. 930, Fin. - Gaming Corp./ALC: Statements - Conflict,
Mr. N. LeBlanc 5948
No. 931, Bus. & Cons. Serv. - Gas Prices: Predatory Practice - Eliminate,
Mr. J. Holm 5949
No. 932, Fin. - P3 Schools: Taxation - Exemption, Mr. H. Epstein 5950
No. 933, Environ. - Sydney Tar Ponds: Testing Program - Commitment,
Mr. J. DeWolfe 5951
No. 934, SCS - Future, Mr. J. Pye 5952
No. 935, Health - Pharmacare Prog. - Retired Civil Servants
(Gov't. [Can.]), Mr. G. Moody 5953
No. 936, Commun. Serv. - Older Persons (Internat. Year):
Announcement - Delay, Mr. J. Pye 5954
No. 937, Transport. & Pub. Wks.: Hwy. Projects - Delay, Mr. B. Taylor 5955
No. 938, Health: South Shore Reg. Hosp. (Bridgewater) -
Paediatric Care, Dr. H. Bitter-Suermann 5956
No. 939, Agric. - Livestock Health Serv.: Funding - Cuts,
Mr. G. Archibald 5957
No. 940, Environ. - Sydney Tar Ponds: Pollutants (Frederick St.) -
Public Meeting Hold, Mr. D. Chard 5958
No. 941, Transport. & Pub. Wks.: Crosswalks - Safety,
Mr. W. Estabrooks 5960
No. 942, Lbr. - Electrical Contractors: Licensing - Regs., Mr. G. Balser 5961
No. 943, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Crosswalks: Safety - Review,
Mr. W. Estabrooks 5962
No. 944, SCS: Meet - Regularly, Dr. J. Hamm 5963
No. 945, Transport. & Pub. Wks.: East Preston Day Care Centre -
Passing Zone-Remove/Speed Limit-Reduce, Ms. Y. Atwell 5964
No. 946, Commun. Serv. - Women's Ctrs.: Funding - Increase,
Mr. J. Muir 5965
No. 947, Nat. Res. - Nat. Gas: Benefits (N.S.) - Maximize, Mr. J. Holm 5966
No. 948, Health - Long-Term/Acute Care: Costs - Difference,
Mr. M. Baker 5967
No. 949, Fish. - Lobster: Yarmouth - Illegal Fishing, Mr. John Deveau 5968
No. 950, Agric. - Drought: Relief - Outcome, Mr. John MacDonell 5969
No. 951, Educ. - Schools: Teachers - Sufficient Ensure, Mr. E. Fage 5970
No. 952, Sports: Yarmouth Multi-Purpose Sportsplex - Funding,
Mr. John Deveau 5971
No. 953, Health - Col. Reg. Hosp.: Services - Inaccessibility,
Mr. B. Taylor 5972
No. 954, Fin.: Budget (1999-2000) - Consultations, Mr. H. Epstein 5973
No. 955, Health - Lun. Co.: Dialysis Unit - Provision, Mr. M. Baker 5974
OPPOSITION MEMBERS' BUSINESS
MOTIONS OTHER THAN GOVERNMENT MOTIONS:
Res. 2572, Sysco - Plan: NDP - Policy Indicate, Dr. J. Hamm 5976
Dr. J. Hamm 5976
Hon. Manning MacDonald 5978
Mr. R. Chisholm 5979
Mr. G. Balser 5980
ADJOURNMENT:
MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5):
NDP (N.S.) - USWA: Political Contributions - Return:
Mr. P. MacEwan 5981
Mr. F. Corbett 5984
Mr. D. Dexter 5985
Dr. J. Hamm 5987
Mr. G. Balser 5989
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Thur., May 20th at 2:00 p.m. 5990

[Page 5873]

HALIFAX, WEDNESDAY, MAY 19, 1999

Fifty-seventh General Assembly

First Session

2:00 P.M.

SPEAKER

Hon. Ronald Russell

DEPUTY SPEAKER

Mr. Donald Chard

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

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants East.

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition on behalf of the people in my constituency who make use of the Georgefield Road. The operative clause is, "We the people who use the Georgefield Road give notice that this road is in deplorable condition. It links two well travelled areas of the constituency of Hants East. It is subject to heavy truck traffic some of which accesses the municipal dump. The signatures below are to notify the Minister, Mr. Huskilson of our concern.". There are 230 signatures and I have affixed mine as well.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

5873

[Page 5874]

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition on behalf of Nova Scotians. The operative clause is, "We, the undersigned respectfully request of the Minister of Fisheries to eliminate the charge for fishing licenses levied against the senior citizens of the province of Nova Scotia as agreed by resolution in the Nova Scotia Legislature.".

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable member for Pictou West.

MR. CHARLES PARKER: Mr. Speaker, "The following statement is a petition signed by the residents of the Whitehill road, concerning the deteriorating conditions of our paved road, in which the Dept. of Transportation has failed to comply in repairing the road to adequate standards.". It reads, "We the tax paying residents of Whitehill, feel this road is unsafe, and unsatisfactory for motorists, and is need for immediate attention. We in turn want to see this paved road totally paved or paved in sections to adequate standards.". It is signed by 59 residents of that area, including my own name.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable member for Cumberland North.

MR. ERNEST FAGE: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table additional petitions from the people of Pugwash. The operative clause reads, "Pugwash District High School has been cut a further 70% of a teaching position. This makes for a total 5.9 teaching positions cut for a decline of 56 students - an average of 1 teacher per 9.5 students. As a result, PDHS has lost a number of programs and services including tech education programs, family studies programs, personal guidance services, and now the extended French program. Our children deserve better. We ask you to take the necessary steps to find 3.5 additional teaching positions so that these services and programs can be restored.". I respectfully submit. I have affixed my signature.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition from residents of the Town of Stewiacke, the Town of Truro, Milford, Timberlea and Halifax. The operative clause is, "We, the undersigned respectfully request of the Minister of Fisheries to eliminate the charge for fishing licenses levied against the senior citizens of the province of Nova Scotia as agreed by resolution in the Nova Scotia Legislature.". I have affixed my name to that petition.

[Page 5875]

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, as Chairwoman of the Standing Committee on Community Services and on behalf of the Standing Committee on Community Services, I would like to table a report entitled the Socioeconomic Impact of Video Lottery Terminals.

MR. SPEAKER: The report is tabled.

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Justice.

HON. ROBERT HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, it is with pleasure and with pride that I rise to thank the members of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, and particularly Assistant Commissioner Dwight Bishop.

Before I complete my ministerial statement, I would like introduce to members of this House and to the members of the public in our gallery, not only Assistant Commissioner Bishop who is behind me here, but Inspector Pat McCloskey, and from the Tantallon detachment, Constables Brad Reid and Barbara MacInnis. I would ask that the House accord them a warm welcome today. (Applause)

Mr. Speaker, I am thanking those members present today, and all members of the force, for the Tom Forrestall print which they have so generously given to the people of this province and to the people's House.

I also wish to thank you, Mr. Speaker, for ensuring that this beautiful print will have a permanent home here at Province House.

This limited edition print was commissioned in honour of the 125th Anniversary of the RCMP's service to this country. The artist, Mr. Forrestall, has done a remarkable job in celebrating the RCMP experience, not just in Canada, but here in Nova Scotia. The print also honours the past, by focusing firmly on the future, with children depicted in a most delightful manner, discovering the garb worn by the provincial police forces over the years, and surrounded by artifacts depicting the force's illustrious history in this country.

[Page 5876]

The proceeds from the sale of the print supports three children's charities, including the IWK-Grace Children's Hospital, the Black Educators Association Bursary Fund, and the Sammy Gehue House Society Educational Awards.

Though the artist could never have known how significant the inclusion of Peggy's Cove in the painting would be, its inclusion is a testament to the compassion, the dedication and the professionalism of the force in responding to the aftermath of the tragedy of Swissair Flight 111. (Applause)

The fact that the RCMP have provided a copy of the print to the families of those who were lost on September 2nd is indicative of the sensitivity and the caring displayed by the members. I encourage all Nova Scotians to visit Province House, to enjoy this print, which will be prominently displayed in the foyer over the summer months ahead.

I want to sincerely, on behalf of all members here today and you, Mr. Speaker, to thank the RCMP, not only for this gift to the people's House and to the people of our province, but for their ongoing commitment to our safety, our security and our quality of life. Thank you. (Applause)

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

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, I would like to start by thanking the Minister of Justice for giving me advance notice of his statement. I would like to echo his comments as well in recognition of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and 125 years of service in Canada. I believe it is 66 years here in Nova Scotia. They have had a long and prestigious history in Canada and in Nova Scotia. If I can speak candidly for a moment, having had an opportunity to work with the RCMP, I have always found the officers professional, committed to their communities and dedicated to the people of Nova Scotia and Canada.

In particular, Mr. Speaker, I have had an opportunity to look at the print that is now in the Red Room. It really does a very good job of reflecting the qualities that do represent the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in Canada. I think it also provides a real example of the role that the RCMP do play in Nova Scotia; most recently of course, with the Swissair disaster and the work that they did with that. In particular, I note that Constable Reid from the Tantallon detachment did an awful lot of work with regard to the Swissair disaster and all the other officers of the RCMP in the work and dedication that they showed during such a difficult time in Nova Scotia's history.

I think the print is a really good way as well, Mr. Speaker, of showing the celebratory side, the celebration of 125 years of service and partnership here in Canada. On behalf of my caucus I congratulate the RCMP on their long history of service to the Province of Nova Scotia and I look forward to be working on an ongoing basis and developing a dynamic relationship between the people of Nova Scotia and the RCMP. Thank you. (Applause)

[Page 5877]

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

DR. JOHN HAMM: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, and I thank the minister for advance notice. I, too, would like to welcome to Province House our guests from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. I had an opportunity a few minutes ago to go in and look at the print. It is a welcome addition to Province House and from today on becomes part of our history.

It is nice to see in Province House a print that, in fact, depicts young children because so many of the paintings and the memorabilia that exists here in Province House is of other than younger Nova Scotians and I think it is a very appropriate kind of hanging to have here in our House of Assembly. I, too, congratulate Tom Forrestall for the job that he has done. He has proven to be a treasure for the people of Nova Scotia and so many of us do appreciate his artistic endeavours. It is fitting as well that he is represented here in Province House.

The commemoration of 125 years of service to this country is something that is important to all of us. One of the recognizable institutions outside of Canada, but one that is recognizably part of Canada and representative of Canada is, in fact, our Royal Canadian Mounted Police Force. So to have them represented in such a real way here in Province House, I believe, is most fitting and most apt. I congratulate the service on 125 years of looking after the people of Canada, making us feel more comfortable at night, and as well providing an institution of which all Canadians are proud. Thank you. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: We will pause for a moment for introductions by members.

The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I would like to draw the attention of members of the House to the west gallery where today we are joined by members of VOLTS, Video On-Line Lottery Terminators Society: Mr. Bernie Walsh who is the Executive Director; Jim Lovelace who is the President; and Ray Volkens who is a member. I would ask them to stand and receive the warm welcome of the House. (Applause)

[2:15 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Transportation and Public Works.

HON. CLIFFORD HUSKILSON: Mr. Speaker, to you and through you, I would like to introduce to all members of the Legislature, 30 Grade 6 students from the Hillcrest Academy in Shelburne. They are also accompanied today by their chaperones, Jocelyn Draine, Tami Crosby, Shirley Decker, Debbie Decker, Brad McNeil, Debbie King and also one of the teachers, Elizabeth Acker. They are in the east gallery, and I would like everybody to give them the applause of the House. (Applause)

[Page 5878]

MR. SPEAKER: The Minister of Community Services.

HON. FRANCENE COSMAN: Mr. Speaker, I rise today to announce a very positive development for the adoption community in Nova Scotia. As of today, the Department of Community Services is eliminating all service fees charged for adoption information. (Applause)

Mr. Speaker, I have received many calls from people who say these fees are a barrier to getting access to information and it is information they need and that they have a right to, and now all members of the adoption community will have equal access to our services. As you know, the Adoption Information Act of January 1997 sets up an active registry. This allows the department to search on behalf of adult adopted persons and birth parents to get information and to facilitate contact with their relatives. People who have used this service tell us they are pleased with it.

Staff work diligently to find the information, to reunite families and to support them through this process. Where necessary and as required by the Act, they also protect an individual's right to privacy. Since the Act came in, the department has had inquires from 692 individuals. The department currently processes approximately 200 search requests in addition to 170 background histories and 175 passive registrations per year.

A $250 fee has been charged to cover the cost of the program. Many of these searches take tremendous time of the staff and tremendous effort to complete. There have been provisions to reduce the fees if they were causing an economic hardship for people, however, my advisory committee on the Adoption Act examined this issue and found that the fees are a barrier for people who would like to search for birth parents or for children.

Mr. Speaker, I make this change to Section 32 of the Adoption Information Act on their advice. Effective today, May 19, 1999, service fees will be eliminated and operational costs of the program will be fully covered by the Department of Community Services. The department will continue to provide all services that have been provided since the implementation of the legislation of this Act. We will do background histories, registration on the passive registry, searches and facilitations of reunions. However, with the rescinding of fees, these services will be equally accessible to all members of the Nova Scotian adoption community.

Mr. Speaker, eliminating fees was one of the two recommendations made in the committee's interim report. I had earlier committed to release the interim report and I am pleased to do so today, and I understand it is being circulated to members of the House. I am also accepting the committee's other recommendation, namely that no further changes to the Adoption Information Act be made at this time. The advisory committee did recognize that issues associated with adoption services continue to be debated nationally and indeed internationally. The advisory committee suggested that we continue to monitor the situation

[Page 5879]

carefully so that Nova Scotia can remain in step with the rest of Canada. Nova Scotia's legislation is presently very similar to most other provinces.

I know there is pressure to make more changes to our current Act. Some people would like it to be more open. The committee in fact wrestled with these very issues at great length. They consulted with people knowledgeable and concerned about access to adoption and the committee reviewed other legislation.

The committee members told me they recognize the anguish and the need of the adult adoptee to obtain identifying information on their birth family and on their heritage. The committee also recognizes the right to privacy. But in the end, the committee determined that people have both a right to know and a right to privacy and both of those wishes must be respected.

I accept the advice of the committee and therefore will make no other changes to the Act at this time. Thank you, Mr. Speaker. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

MR. JERRY PYE: Mr. Speaker, this is another time when I can stand in this Legislative Assembly on behalf of our caucus and thank the minister for doing the right thing. We are very pleased with the minister's announcement of eliminating all the service fees charged for the adoption information. Parent Finders of Nova Scotia have been calling for the elimination of these fees for some years, as did we as a Party and we have supported them. It has been recognized that these fees did indeed cause hardship and in some cases, prevented adoptees from even requesting important information they needed to search out their biological parents.

I am pleased to hear that the department will continue to do the background histories, registration on passive registry, research, and facilitation of reunions. I suspect there may be an increase in the adoptees registering for information and rightly so. However, there are concerns with the department not fully endorsing The Hague resolution, adopting a more open process, particularly for adoptees and access to information for adoptive parents. I do want to thank the minister, however, that if there is a future need to make changes, and there is, and there is no question that the minister is very much aware of this, that she contact the agencies outside such as Parent Finders and seek the information to speed up the process for a more open and fair process. On behalf of my caucus, we do thank the minister for the total elimination of fees. Thank you very much. I should congratulate Parent Finders as well. (Applause)

[Page 5880]

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

MR. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise and respond to the statement by the Minister of Community Services. Certainly, I would congratulate the minister and her department for waiving that $250 fee. I would question why it was ever implemented in the first place and I do notice that it was done in 1997, so the government is trying to rectify a mistake it made in the first place. With regard to that fee, I would also like to say I have raised the adoption issue in this House on a number of occasions and simply to illustrate this, after the last session I had a call from Cold Lake, Alberta from a person who indicated she could not afford the fee and therefore was not in position to use the service. I am therefore pleased that in this particular case, among many others, that she will be able to go ahead and make that search. It is a welcome and positive step.

On the other hand, the report of the Adoption Committee that has just been tabled is not that positive. Two recommendations, the first on the removal of the $250 fee and that is good but the decision not to make any changes to the Adoption Information Act is not good. The adoptive community in this province has been calling for these changes for many years and perhaps the minister should realize it would be nice if this province took a lead in this issue, rather than simply responding.

Two provinces, British Columbia and Saskatchewan, plus the Northwest Territories, have much more open adoption legislation than we do here in Nova Scotia. It is interesting to notice as well, that the committee, whose report she just tabled, had no representatives of the adoptive or adoption community on it, despite their requests. I think that was probably deliberate because I think this minister, since 1974, she and her government have delayed implementation (Interruptions) 1997 when the last report on adoption came out which called for a more fuller access to adoption birth information by birth parents and by those adoptees who are adults, they have delayed and they have put things off.

Mr. Speaker, Canada signed the Convention on the U.N. Rights of the Child and this province has still not lined up with it as far as adoption legislation goes: in 1925, Finland; in 1930, Scotland; in 1956, Holland; in 1960, Israel; in 1960, France; in 1960, Sweden; in 1975, England; in 1984, Victoria, Australia; in 1985, New Zealand; in 1990, New South Wales, Australia. These are provinces and countries that have opened up their adoption records so that adult adoptees can get long form birth certificates and regardless of what this department believes that process has gone on smoothly. So I would encourage the minister to go back, consult the adoption community; the step of waiving the $250 fee was a very positive one but I would encourage her to go back and reconsider the decision and make birth records open to adult adoptees and parents. Thank you. (Applause)

[Page 5881]

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

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I would like to invite the honourable members of this House of Assembly to join me in congratulating the winners of this year's export achievement awards. I had the distinct pleasure of participating in the ceremonies last evening. It is the 15th year that Economic Development and Tourism has sponsored these awards and what a stellar group of winners. Clear Picture Corporation and Math Resources, two Halifax-based information technology firms, both won New Exporter Awards.

Clear Picture Corporation creates survey software for the Internet. Its product has already been used in 43 countries across the world in 20 languages. Besides the New Exporter Award, Clear Picture also received the Global Opportunity Award. This is the first year for this award, which matches a growing company with an MBA student for a summer work term. Neil Freake of Saint Mary's University will design and interpret survey data over the Internet this summer for some of Clear Picture's international clients. It is a great opportunity for Neil and a real benefit for Clear Picture Corporation.

Mr. Speaker, the other New Exporter of the Year is Math Resources. This company is selling its mathematics teaching software and design services to customers in Europe, the United States, India and several parts of Asia. Math Resources has just formed a new alliance with the American electronic manufacturing giant CASIO. This will undoubtedly lead to even more export sales.

The Innovation in Exporting Award went to Rainbow Farms of Hants County. This is a family-run business, Mr. Speaker, that is shipping its specially processed, quick-frozen wild blueberries all over the world and it is keeping 200 people busy during peak season.

Survival Systems of Dartmouth, Mr. Speaker, won the award for Outstanding Contribution to the Export Market by a company.

The Outstanding Contribution by an individual went to Maurice Guitton, Executive Vice-President of Composites Atlantic of Lunenburg, an extraordinary Nova Scotia success story in the aerospace sector.

Mr. Speaker, these award winners and the thousands of other large and small Nova Scotia exporters are making a major contribution to their communities. They are also making a tremendous contribution to the provincial economy.

Nova Scotia's economic future is tied to trade. We have to increase our exports to become a truly prosperous and self-sufficient province. We are still behind the national average, Mr. Speaker, but we are making progress.

[Page 5882]

As members of this House know, Nova Scotia's merchandise exports jumped by 8.2 per cent in 1998. That is almost twice the growth of the previous two years combined and it is well ahead of the national average of 5.1 per cent. This increase represents $0.25 billion in out-of-province sales for Nova Scotia companies.

Mr. Speaker, the Department of Economic Development and Tourism has made export development a top priority. My department is playing a role in driving these trade figures up. Last year, we led more companies on more trade missions than ever before. Forty missions in all, to Germany, Iceland, the Caribbean, Washington, and Louisiana and, of course, our priority market, New England. Many of the companies on those missions were first-time exporters and more than one-half were from rural Nova Scotia. We have been working hard with companies that are first-time exporters, seasoned trade veterans, big and small companies.

[2:30 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, those missions generated record results, $94 million in signed contracts and projected sales for Nova Scotia companies. Those new exports translate into 1,300 jobs for Nova Scotians. (Applause) These jobs are injecting more money into our communities, which gives a boost to local businesses. They are also generating new tax revenues for our schools and our health care system. These new export-generated jobs are adding $6 million in direct and indirect taxes to provincial coffers.

The companies that travel on provincial trade missions pay their own way. We provide market intelligence and a matchmaking service. Our staff line up appointments with pre-qualified customers so our companies can get down to the serious business of making deals. The direct cost to the taxpayer for those services was $579,000 last year, a little more than $0.5 million for 40 missions and $6 million in new taxes. The taxpayer got $12 back for every dollar we invested and the dividends from the new business relationships keep building year after year. Forty missions, $94 million in export sales, 1,300 jobs.

It's a record performance for the provincial government. It's a performance we are determined to beat in 1999 and we are already off to a good start. So far, we have led eight missions into New England alone this year. We are seeing big returns, $71 million in sales and commitments for small and medium-sized companies, many of which were making their first forays into exporting.

Just last week, Mr. Speaker, the Premier hosted a visit by Governor Paul Cellucci and 28 American business operators at the Massachusetts-Nova Scotia Summit. This event generated $15 million in bilateral trade in just one and one-half days. The Premier and Governor Cellucci also established a private sector business advisory council to help stimulate joint ventures and business opportunities between our two regions.

[Page 5883]

The next day, the Premier and I were back in Boston, this time aboard the CAT along with 20 other Nova Scotia business leaders. Our purpose, Mr. Speaker, to meet with more than 170 Massachusetts business people and present to them the innumerable opportunities for trade between our two areas.

Earlier this spring, Mr. Speaker, we held our first trade rally in Truro, which attracted close to 100 rural business operators. We will be holding our next trade rally next month in Cape Breton. We will help more Nova Scotia companies make more deals in our priority markets this year than ever before.

In the meantime, I invite all members of the House to join me in congratulating the Export Achievement Award winners, most of whom are with us in the gallery here today. Represented here today is the winner of a New Exporter Award and the first winner of the Global Opportunity Award, Clear Picture Corporation of Halifax. Clear Picture Chairman and founder, George Marshall; Vice-President, Kwan Gee; and Director of Research, Bob MacDonald are all in our gallery.

Mr. Speaker, also joining us is Ron Fitzgerald whose company, Math Resources of Halifax, also received a New Exporter Award.

Rainbow Farms in Upper Rawdon, winner of the Innovation in Exporting Award, is represented today by company President, Ron Weatherhead.

Also here is Albert Bohemier, President of Survival Systems in Dartmouth. Survival Systems received the award for Outstanding Contribution to the Export Market by a Company.

Mr. Speaker, special recognition goes to Maurice Guitton, Executive Vice-President of Composites Atlantic of Lunenburg, as winner of the Outstanding Contribution to the Export Market by an Individual.

Finally, Mr. Speaker, the winner of the Export Growth Award, Keith Boutler, President of ECI Medical Technologies Limited of Bridgewater - who could not be with us today - also deserves our recognition.

Congratulations to each of the 1999 Export Achievement Award winners and a special thank you for taking the time out of your busy day to join us in the Legislature. I would ask that they stand and be recognized. (Applause)

[Page 5884]

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

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the minister for circulating his statement in advance. I also want to join with my colleagues in this House to congratulate the 1999 Export Achievement Award winners. It is a fact that the economy of this province is facing now, and will face in the years to come, fundamental structural change. The export trade component of this economy is an important and vital part of today's market place. It has been said by others that we live in a global village; it is truer now than it was even 10 years ago. Our trade links and their success is a positive indicator of our ability to take advantage of the dynamism of that new market place.

These award winners are to be congratulated for their drive and ingenuity, and export trade is the dividend that is paid for that drive and ingenuity. In the next century, the growth of this trade will continue to fuel our economy. The question, however, is are we now assisting with these initiatives in the way that makes the best sense. Unfortunately, the recently released report of the minister's department, which has not yet been tabled with this House, contains no comparative analysis in this regard.

Nonetheless, today is a day to celebrate the great accomplishments for these award winners, and I would like to join with the other members of our caucus to extend our congratulations to these award winners and to say that we look forward to their continued success. Thank you. (Applause)

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

MR. GORDON BALSER: Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the minister for providing a copy of his announcement well in advance of today's sitting. Having had the opportunity to attend last evening's 1999 export awards ceremony, I would echo his comments that it is truly an occasion on which all Nova Scotians can feel proud. The export awards, which were held last night at the World Trade and Convention Centre are a clear indication that Nova Scotia companies can go head-to-head with the best in the world. They are not only in the game, they are winning. (Applause)

It has been over 100 years since the Nova Scotian flag fluttered in seaports around the world, when Nova Scotia was recognized as a world trader but, as we enter the new millennium, that is changing. Nova Scotia's growing reputation as a world-class trading partner is cause to feel proud. Whether our exports are in value-added manufacturing materials, natural resource-based products, technology or intellectual property, the world is beginning to realize that Nova Scotians can do it cheaper, better and faster.

In this province today, as was evidenced last night by the over 200 attendees at the ceremony, there is a new spirit of entrepreneurialism which is spreading in the business community. Success begets success and inspires others. The success of companies such as

[Page 5885]

Clear Picture Corporation, Math Resources, Rainbow Farms or Survival Systems is a real incentive to others, and Composites Atlantic and the other companies are proof positive that Nova Scotia can compete in the global market. (Applause)

Last night marked the 15th year that the event has been held; every year it has grown and expanded. The companies and the individuals who were honoured last evening were a clear message to Nova Scotia business that we can do it and we can do it well. Exports are the fastest growing sector in the Canadian economy. The growth in export sales in Nova Scotia is moving closer to the Canadian average at a rapid pace.

As was pointed out last evening, the truly wonderful thing about export revenue is that it represents new money. Money entering Nova Scotia from outside the province adds new wealth, and benefits every Nova Scotian. While the award winners were the focus of last evening's event - and their success is a true testament to their abilities as entrepreneurs - for them to be successful, a great deal of groundwork has to be completed.

The recent visits to Nova Scotia by the Governors of Massachusetts and Maine are a clear indication that New England is ready and willing to do business with Nova Scotia. The work of Mary Clancy and her predecessor in the Boston Consulate helped pave the way for businesses from Nova Scotia to access the New England market. Government, regardless of its political stripe, needs to ensure that Nova Scotian business is encouraged and supported in their efforts. (Applause)

All too often governments fail to be ready to deal with emerging changes. This is particularly true when it involved new business opportunities. The growth of the information economy and other export opportunities which will be created would be lost if it wasn't for certain individuals in government who have seen the potential.

Beyond the businesses themselves, there are individuals in the Department of Economic Development and Tourism who are helping to pave the way for this to happen. Mr. Francis MacKenzie and his staff have been repeatedly referenced as being instrumental in helping to foster the support that these companies need to enter the export market.

The export award ceremonies are an event that every Nova Scotian should be proud of. I know that those present last evening expect to attend an even bigger and better ceremony next year. As one of the recipients said, don't worry, my company will be back for more.

On behalf of my colleagues, let me extend my congratulations and best wishes to the winners of the 1999 awards. Thank you. (Applause)

[Page 5886]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of the Environment.

HON. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, I would like to take this opportunity to share some information with the House about a new facility in Pictou County that will bring us closer to meeting our waste diversion goals in the Province of Nova Scotia. Last week, I had the opportunity to participate in a sod turning ceremony for the Pictou County Solid Waste Composting Facility. This facility will serve the people in the Towns of Stellarton, Westville, Trenton, New Glasgow, Pictou, and Pictou County.

For waste management, the benefits of composting are elementary. Composting reduces the need for landfills and incinerators. It also means a healthier environment and more job opportunities. Our success in turning waste into resources has become a reality in a very short period of time. This, Mr. Speaker, is thanks to the hard work and dedication of a lot of people throughout our province.

Remember, not long ago our province was faced with a dilemma. Our landfills were filling up, our air was being polluted with open burning dump sites throughout our province. Contamination of our environment was a growing concern. Just a few years ago we had over 40 open burning dump sites and landfills throughout our province. Today we have no open burning dump sites, and Nova Scotia is among the leaders in solid waste management.

Along with a comprehensive recycling program and source separated waste, we have been able to demonstrate to the world how valuable a resource we really have in the everyday things that we used to throw away. This composting facility is another element in a very impressive equation in our province and is a very important step towards achieving our goals.

Mr. Speaker, in 1989, every Environment Minister in Canada signed an agreement promising that Canada would divert 50 per cent of its waste from landfills and incinerators by the year 2000. All of the provinces agreed to this goal and we each set a course to achieve it. Today, it appears that only Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island will achieve the goal.

One has to ask, where are the other provinces? The fact is, they are watching what we are doing and they are taking notice and they are now beginning to do what Nova Scotia has already done. Ontario and Quebec last year announced new solid waste resource management plans, moving in the same direction that our province did a few years ago. These provinces have recognized the success that we are having here in Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, just a few weeks ago, we were able to update our diversion rate to 35 per cent throughout Nova Scotia. That is remarkable progress on the provincial scale. I am confident when I say that by next year, once complete composting plans are in place across every county in this province, Nova Scotia will exceed our 50 per cent diversion target.

[Page 5887]

[2:45 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, we have come a long way in a very short period of time and we are well on our way to achieving this important goal, thanks in part to facilities like the one under construction in Pictou. On behalf of the province, I would ask the House to join me in congratulating the owners of this facility, the municipalities involved, and the people who will be served by this facility. Together we are setting high standards of environmental protection for our citizens, our children and our grandchildren. Thank you. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth East. I am sorry, Dartmouth South.

MR. DONALD CHARD: Mr. Speaker, I am sure we can locate it without too much difficulty but it is confusing to have so many constituencies named Dartmouth North, Dartmouth South and Dartmouth East. (Interruption) We have no Dartmouth West.

First of all, Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the minister for the advance notice of this announcement. We, in the NDP Caucus, are very pleased at this announcement. We are very pleased to see the progress being made at diverting organic materials from our landfills and to proper composting facilities in this province.

I think we should also congratulate staff of the Department of the Environment for the progress they have made in this area, the municipalities involved and the public whose diligence will make all of this work. It is true, of course, that there are occasionally some glitches in composting operations and anyone who saw this morning's paper will be aware that in some cases it results in people being forced to tell the "bear" truth about composting. There was one individual who was not afraid to tell the truth about bears in his compost, but I am sure that that problem will be resolved in due course.

I would like to say that we also look forward to seeing strategies from the government for dealing with those organic materials that cannot be composted so we can have proper treatment for all of our solid waste resources and so that we do not run the risk of some organic materials having no place for proper treatment. I would hope that we can also see a commitment to some low-tech, low-cost approaches to composting, such as the pilot project in the Annapolis Valley, which is taking compostable materials from Canning and the surrounding area at very low cost. It is a community solution which apparently is working very well. I think it does suggest that while the high-tech approaches are certainly valid in some areas, that there are certainly some very useful alternatives which we need to continue exploring. Thank you very much. (Applause)

[Page 5888]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou East.

MR. JAMES DEWOLFE: Mr. Speaker, I, too, would like to take this opportunity to congratulate the Department of the Environment and everyone involved in the development of the Pictou County solid waste composting facility. I have been to this site and was duly impressed with the expertise of the company undertaking the construction of the facility - Miller Systems. The proven technology and expertise of the company will ensure the long-term success of this facility. The significance of environmental protection cannot be overstated.

I would also like to take this time to congratulate the residents of Pictou County as well as those who have dedicated their time and energy to this initiative. I must mention Councillor Gary MacLaughlin from Westville and his municipal colleagues for their hard work and dedication because I am sure that that work that they have put into this will continue through to completion of this facility and will ensure that Pictou County surpasses the 50 per cent diversion rate goal that they have set for themselves. Thank you. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Labour.

HON. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, I rise today to inform all honourable members of this House of an initiative within the realm of volunteer firefighters, some 8,500 volunteer firefighters in Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, you represent a rural area of our province and, therefore, you would know first-hand the critical role played by volunteer firefighters. They give unselfishly of their time protecting life and property. We all see their efforts when they fight a fire or perform a life-saving rescue service. What we do not see is the hundreds of hours of time they give to training.

In my constituency, I have some 15 volunteer fire departments, and I marvel at the dedication of these men and women. It seems to me that they spend just about every spare moment they have at their fire departments.

Today I am pleased to report that a Nova Scotia Fire Service Professional Qualifications Board has been formed by a group of interested bodies: the Fire Marshal's Office; the Nova Scotia Firefighters School; Halifax Regional Fire Service; Cape Breton Regional Fire Service; the Cape Breton Fire Academy; the Fire Officers Association of Nova Scotia, and the International Association of Firefighters.

At the present time the board is putting the finishing touches on its application for accreditation to the International Fire Service Accreditation Congress located in Oklahoma State. I have been given every indication from the Fire Marshal that that application will be received positively. The board hopes to have representatives of the Congress visit Nova

[Page 5889]

Scotia on October 2 and 3, 1999. The final acceptance of the application would be dealt with at the annual meeting of the Accreditation Congress, to be held April 14th to April 16th, in the year 2000.

This is a very ambitious undertaking, as they will be seeking accreditation in the following programs: Firefighter 1 and 2; Instructor 1 and 2; Fire Officer 1 and 2; Fire Department Safety Officer; Hazardous Materials First Responder Awareness; Hazardous Materials First Responder Operations; Hazardous Materials First Responder Technician; Hazardous Materials Incident Management; Fire Apparatus Driver/Operator; Fire Inspector; and Fire Investigator.

This program will mean that our volunteer firefighters will have uniform training and will be able to take their place anywhere in North America. I might add as well, this is the first accreditation of its kind anywhere in Canada. What this means is that a volunteer firefighter from one of our communities, let's say Walton in Hants County, could move to Marion Bridge in Cape Breton and join that service without one minute of additional training.

In addition, these seven bodies who make up the Nova Scotia Fire Service Professional Qualifications Board are also working on an occupational health and safety policy for volunteer fire departments and firefighters.

So, Mr. Speaker, as minister responsible for the Fire Marshal's Office, I salute the work of all of these stakeholders. Their cooperation and dedication to a common cause will, in the final analysis, make the role of the volunteer firefighter much better and, for those they serve, life will be much safer. Thank you. (Applause)

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

MR. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, again I would like to thank the minister and his department for providing me with a copy of his statement beforehand, and agree with the fact that the volunteer firefighters of this province are second to none and that their worthwhile efforts on behalf of just about everybody in this House are gratefully appreciated, except for the ones that provide full-time fire services.

This is one of these things that is great, but where is the money? We are going to provide these things for these volunteers, these people who are stressed already - the minister admitted himself that they spend every spare moment doing this - but yet the government has not said in any substantive way of how we are going to support this payment, what we are going to give to these volunteers to help them get this. We have to wait a year to be accredited. We know in this House that they were promised the $500 tax credit to help them along, where is that? Has this initiative been vetted through local fire departments? I see the minister nodding his head. Can he say that was done with every volunteer fire department in

[Page 5890]

this province? I think not. It is another top-down management, what we expect from this government.

As I said, Mr. Speaker, volunteer fire departments are stressed to the max now. Where are they going to find this precious time to receive this training? Is the department going to subsidize the time that they miss work, is that going to be done by the Fire Marshal's Office to give them that time to get this training? We all know that within most of the rural areas they have mutual aid agreements so they can move in and work in lock step when a disaster occurs, so we know that they are willing to do this and they bear the major brunt on their own.

We appreciate this broad initiative but it lacks many specifics. We agree that the rural areas of this province should have access to the best possible fire-fighting men and women this province has to offer. Being part of that would mean training. Who is going to pay for this? We have to wait a year for it. I am saying, we have waited already for a proposed tax credit that none of these departments have been able to realize yet. Who is going to head this up, we don't know.

In closing, Mr. Speaker, while it is an initiative that appears to help with training, where is the money? Thank you. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Lunenburg.

MR. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, first I would like to begin by congratulating the minister for providing the statement to me before the House today. That's a welcome gesture by the minister and it allows for proper response.

I should begin by congratulating the minister because clearly there is a great advantage to firefighters in Nova Scotia by having international accreditation of the courses being put on in our province. Firefighter training is so essential to professional firefighters in this province, and by professional firefighters, I mean those who are paid and those who are volunteers, because Nova Scotia has two types of professional firefighters. However, it is the latter group, the volunteers, that have been neglected in this province for far too long.

It is volunteer firefighters who are taking these courses, the courses that the minister has outlined in his statement today. They are the firefighters who are taking them on their weekends, who are taking holidays to take these courses. They are the people who are leaving their families to go on these courses, they are leaving commitments that they have at home to protect you and I, Mr. Speaker, and what are they getting for it? They are not getting the recognition they deserve.

[Page 5891]

This House unanimously agreed to give volunteer firefighters in this province a tax credit and it is high time in Nova Scotia that we carried through on the commitment that was made in this House. Words are great, deeds are better. The local volunteer fire department in my community has a motto, it says, deeds not words. I think that that is a very apt description of what this government needs to do with volunteer firefighters. It is to show them through their deeds that they support them.

Obviously, part of that is to create the background so that there is accreditation, but it is not only that. You have to provide the funding to allow volunteer firefighters to do their job. You have to provide the funding to allow volunteer fire department to carry out the work. You have to provide the legislative framework to allow volunteer firefighters to do their job in this province without undue influence and interference. I have spoken to volunteer firefighters, Mr. Speaker, and volunteer firefighters are very concerned that they are going to be put out of business by a government who is too concerned with rules and not concerned enough about providing fire protection, because that is what this is all about. It is about providing fire protection to Nova Scotia. We can do that best by providing a background where these firefighters can make the decisions on the qualification that firefighters need to protect their own citizens.

[3:00 p.m.]

I call on the minister, and I am sure the minister will consider this, to make sure that his department does not provide standards for volunteer fire departments in this province which are designed in Halifax and which work fine in Halifax for paid firefighters but which are absolutely impractical when you are dealing with small fire departments throughout this province. I have fire departments in my constituency, small departments with very few members, and these people are providing yeoman service in their community, and only by encouraging these people to stay involved can we make sure that all Nova Scotians have the fire protection they need. Thank you. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Transportation and Public Works.

HON. CLIFFORD HUSKILSON: Mr. Speaker, to you and through you to all members of the Legislature, I would like to introduce 30 Grade 6 students from Hillcrest Academy in Shelburne. They are also accompanied by their leaders and they are Karen Harris, Colleen Smith, Ruth West, Sherrie Harris, Jocelyn Draine, Maryanne Campbell, Mike Buckley, and their bus driver, Stephanie Peterson. They are located in the east gallery and I would ask the House to give them a warm reception. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: I would like to advise members that the Late Debate this evening will be in response to a resolution from the member for Cape Breton Nova, and it reads:

[Page 5892]

Therefore be it resolved that the New Democratic Party should return to the United Steel Workers of America all political contributions it has accepted from that union, if it is unwilling to state without reservation its wholehearted support for the Sysco business plan and for continued operations of Sydney Steel Corporation.

That will be the debate at the moment of interruption this evening.

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Health.

RESOLUTION NO. 2796

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

Whereas Nova Scotia's health care system is responding with great care and concern to the approximately 2,100 Kosovar refugees who have come to Nova Scotia in their time of need; and

Whereas the cooperation among the Western and Central Regional Health Boards, the Dalhousie Medical School, the QE II, the IWK-Grace, the Nova Scotia Hospital, the Department of Health and Emergency Health Services has been outstanding as they work to assist Immigration Canada and the Department of National Defence; and

Whereas I have had the opportunity to visit the bases in Greenwood and Aldershot and the Soldiers Memorial Hospital in Middleton to personally thank the health care professionals for their efforts;

Therefore be it resolved that this House take the opportunity to recognize and thank the physicians, nurses, paramedics, technologists, social workers, psychologists and all the other health care workers for their active participation in our province's response to the health care needs of the men, women and children from Kosovo.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

[Page 5893]

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Agriculture and Marketing.

RESOLUTION NO. 2797

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

Whereas the Department of Economic Development and Tourism has bestowed an award for Innovation in Exporting upon Rainbow Farms of Rawdon, Nova Scotia; and

Whereas that award is in recognition of a technique developed by Rainbow Farms to quick-freeze blueberries and in turn extend the window of opportunity for exporting from six weeks to eight months; and

Whereas Mr. Ronald Weatherhead of Rainbow Farms is present here today, or at least was;

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize the contribution of Mr. Weatherhead and Rainbow Farms to Nova Scotia's growing agricultural export industry.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Education.

RESOLUTION NO. 2798

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

[Page 5894]

Whereas the Nova Scotia Museum captured the Canadian Museums Association's Award for Outstanding Achievement for Roland's Flora of Nova Scotia at the association's national conference in Toronto; and

Whereas the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic's Titanic exhibit received an honourable mention for its outstanding achievement in the exhibits category at the Canadian Museums Association awards; and

Whereas the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic also garnered the best indoor site honour at the national Attractions Canada Awards;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the Nova Scotia Museum for its outstanding achievements in museum practice.

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 responsible for the administration of the Advisory Council on the Status of Women Act.

RESOLUTION NO. 2799

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

Whereas 10 Nova Scotian women were honoured this month at the 18th Annual YWCA of Halifax Women's Recognition Awards; and

Whereas these women - Rose Mary Brooks, Myrtle Corkum, Betty Flemming, Rose Fraser, Kay Richardson, Kathleen Rowan-Legg, Norene Smiley, Patricia Thompson, Hilary Wellard and Jennifer Lily - were paid tribute because of their outstanding achievements in community service;

[Page 5895]

Therefore be it resolved that this House join the YWCA of Halifax in recognizing the work and the achievements of these 10 women and commend them on their dedication to their community.

Mr. Speaker, I am seeking 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. 2800

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

Whereas the less than average snowfall this past winter and a dry spring has led to severely dry conditions in Nova Scotia's woodlands; and

Whereas recent forest fires in Nova Scotia have resulted in the destruction of property and damage to many acres of forest; and

Whereas attempts to keep fire damage to a minimum can be attributed to the extraordinary efforts of numerous volunteers from across the province;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House assist their local fire departments and the Department of Natural Resources by encouraging their constituents to use caution when travelling in the woods and to educate themselves on fire safety practices.

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.

[Page 5896]

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Agriculture and Marketing.

RESOLUTION NO. 2801

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

Whereas the Nova Scotia 4-H program is being used as a model around the world; and

Whereas from May 1st to May 9th, an eight member delegation from the Czech Republic visited the province to further study our 4-H program; and

Whereas the visit was an excellent opportunity for our 4-H program to highlight and share its successes with our grateful and pleased visitors;

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize the provincial 4-H program for building future leaders here in Nova Scotia and for exporting its successful formula to other countries.

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. 2802

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

[Page 5897]

Whereas the collaborative efforts on behalf of Nova Scotians for the betterment of their lives deserves to be celebrated; and

Whereas there has been an effort encompassing almost two years by local organizations and the different levels of government to put in place two state-of-the-art Community Learning Centres that will address literacy and employment issues on Nova Scotia's southwest shore; and

Whereas these Community Learning Centres located in Shelburne and Yarmouth are designed to provide individual development in a relaxed, non-threatening environment to the benefit of individuals as well as the benefit of the community;

Therefore be it resolved that this House extends its congratulations as the centres celebrate their grand opening today and compliment the many individuals, organizations - public and private - and levels of government upon this initiative.

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.

I think we have a problem with the volume in the Chamber. Is anybody else having trouble hearing? (Interruptions) Yes, they are. Okay, we will see what we can do about it.

The honourable Minister of Health. If you will just hold off for just one moment, we will get some more volume in here.

Okay, that sounds better.

The honourable Minister of Health.

RESOLUTION NO. 2803

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

[Page 5898]

Whereas May 25th to May 31, 1999 is Haemochromatosis Awareness Week in Canada; and

Whereas haemochromatosis is one of the most common genetic disorders and the only genetic disorder of which all the complications are preventable by early diagnosis and treatment; and

Whereas the Canadian Haemochromatosis Society's goal is to help diagnose as many Canadians at risk for this disorder as possible and to screen those who are carriers;

Therefore be it resolved that this House take the opportunity to recognize May 25, 1999, to May 31, 1999, as Haemochromatosis Awareness Week and acknowledge the efforts of the Canadian Haemochromatosis Society.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Community Services.

RESOLUTION NO. 2804

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

Whereas Nova Scotians, as do all Canadians, know the importance of raising healthy, happy children; and

Whereas Get Set for Life, a national multimedia public awareness campaign aimed at providing practical day-to-day advice on child rearing for parents and caregivers, was recently launched in Nova Scotia by the Premier; and

Whereas this initiative is primarily nationally supported by CBC television, Invest in Kids Foundation and Telemedia Publishing, as well as by a local steering committee made up of individuals from the Department of Community Services, Nova Scotia Council for the

[Page 5899]

Family, Partnerships in Action, the IWK-Grace Health Centre, Association of Parent Resource Centres, Kermesse, Early Childhood Education Programs, Health Canada, Lever Ponds, Cochran Entertainment and CBC Maritimes;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate all those who support this important initiative and encourage everyone to put into practice those suggestions for caring for children offered through the Get Set for Life Program.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

MR. SPEAKER: That is a very long resolution.

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 notices of motion in this sitting are getting much too long.

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

Bill No. 99 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 129 of the Revised Statutes of 1989. The Direct Sellers' Regulation Act. (Hon. Robert Harrison)

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

NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

RESOLUTION NO. 2805

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

Whereas the federal government's Agricultural Income Disaster Assistance Program, AIDA, has proven to be disastrously inadequate; and

[Page 5900]

Whereas fewer than 1,000 farmers across Canada have even applied for the assistance program because it is so restrictive and so unlikely to provide the cash that farmers need to survive conditions beyond their control; and

Whereas the Government of Saskatchewan has now joined farmers in calling for an immediate overhaul of AIDA and the Western Premiers are expected to add their voice;

Therefore be it resolved that this House endorse the calls by the Nova Scotia Federation of Agriculture, the Government of Saskatchewan and other representatives for an overhaul so the AIDA Program meets the immediate needs of farmers in Nova Scotia and throughout Canada.

Mr. Speaker, I would seek waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party.

RESOLUTION NO. 2806

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

Whereas yesterday, in response to a question regarding the seniors' secretariat, the Minister of Community Services stated that she recognized that as the population of seniors grows, so too will senior's issues grow; and

[3:15 p.m.]

Whereas also yesterday, the minister stated that seniors' needs, present and future, will be met through the service of the secretariat; and

Whereas the minister's statements fly in the face of the numerous cutbacks that have been made to the secretariat, including a fundamental shortage of staff and the absence of a full-time director;

[Page 5901]

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Community Services immediately undertake to have the secretariat made fully functional so that it can carry out the meaningful services for which it was intended.

Mr. Speaker, I request 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 Annapolis.

MR. LAWRENCE MONTGOMERY: Mr. Speaker, first of all I have an introduction. To you and through you to the other members of the Legislature, I would like to draw your attention to the east gallery where we have Keith and Gail Hatchard from the Town of Annapolis Royal. Keith and Gail are advocates for the promotion of a cure for Huntington's disease and for this, we thank them very much. They have asked me to put forward a resolution today on their behalf and that I shall do. First, I would like the House to recognize them, please. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Annapolis.

RESOLUTION NO. 2807

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 fear of losing one's mind and the fear of losing control of one's body are among the most profound fears of mankind; and

Whereas every child of a parent with Huntington's disease has a 50-50 chance of inheriting the disorder and there is no effective treatment and no known cure - yet; and

Whereas research continues to offer the promise of early diagnosis, treatment techniques and ultimately a cure for Huntington's disease;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House proclaim the month of May as Huntington's Disease Awareness Month and urge all citizens to lend their support to the Huntington Society of Canada.

[Page 5902]

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 Leader of the Opposition.

RESOLUTION NO. 2808

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

Whereas on May 15, 1999, the RCMP held a grand opening of their new community office, in Fire Station No. 60 in Herring Cove; and

Whereas the new office is another example of the RCMP's initiatives in maintaining close ties with our communities through community-related police business; and

Whereas residents of Herring Cove and district welcome the new community office;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House congratulate the RCMP on their new community office in Herring Cove and on their good work with communities across this province.

Mr. Speaker, I seek waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

[Page 5903]

The honourable member for Digby-Annapolis.

RESOLUTION NO. 2809

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

Whereas in his efforts to promote occupational health and safety across the province, the Minister of Labour recently stopped by a construction site to pose for the cameras; and

Whereas the photo of the smiling minister recently appeared in the Occupational Health and Safety supplement as part of Occupational Health and Safety Week celebrations; and

Whereas the photo shows the Minister of Labour violating one of the most basic health and safety practices and one of his own department's health and safety requirements, namely wearing a hard hat while on a construction site;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Labour recognize that in his efforts to promote workplace health and safety, he demonstrated a fundamental lack of respect for the laws which he is responsible to uphold and enforce.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

HON. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. The fact of the matter is I wanted him to see my new hairdo.

MR. SPEAKER: There is no point of order.

The honourable Minister of Finance.

RESOLUTION NO. 2810

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

[Page 5904]

Whereas the 15th Annual Nova Scotia Export Achievement Awards were presented in Halifax on May 18, 1999, to six Nova Scotia firms and individuals, two of whom are from Lunenburg County; and

Whereas ECI Medical Technologies Limited, located in Bridgewater, was the recipient of the Export Growth Award for tripling their export values in 1998; and

Whereas ECI has allied with A.G. Heidenheim, Germany, to garner capital investment to expand their production and research and development facilities to assure market leadership for their non-latex surgical gloves;

Therefore be it resolved that the House congratulate Mr. Keith Boulter and his staff for their continued commitment to growing their company globally and acknowledge their positive impact on Lunenburg County and the Province of Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton The Lakes.

RESOLUTION NO. 2811

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

Whereas on Saturday, May 15, 1999, 798 students graduated during the spring convocation at the University College of Cape Breton; and

Whereas the graduates included Sydney resident Anna Eddy who attended UCCB to keep active and to help her recover after suffering a heart attack; and

Whereas Mrs. Eddy was one of the major prizewinners;

[Page 5905]

Therefore be it resolved that this House offer congratulations to Anna Eddy on being awarded the top prize for highest academic achievement in political science.

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 Kings North.

RESOLUTION NO. 2812

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

Whereas it has been almost four months since the federal Liberal Government announced it would be phasing out Devco; and

Whereas the federal Liberal Government's pension and severance offer continues to generate fear and anxiety among the miners and their families, as well as the whole of industrial Cape Breton; and

Whereas the government's track record fighting to ensure fairness for the people of Nova Scotia is only adding to the fear and uncertainty facing the miners and their families;

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier and his government immediately tell the miners and their families what, if any, success the government has made to ensure miners are treated with dignity, fairness and compassion.

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

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

[Page 5906]

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Inverness.

RESOLUTION NO. 2813

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 students of Whycocomagh Consolidated School were recently surprised to learn their school will receive a grant from Environment Canada; and

Whereas this is a remarkable accomplishment since it is the first student project in the province to win funding under the Eco Action 2000 program; and

Whereas the $11,000 grant was awarded for a student proposal to improve local habitat for various plants, animals and insects;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the students of Whycocomagh Consolidated for their success on this project, and extend thanks to all teachers who are committed to teaching students about the environment.

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 Cape Breton The Lakes.

RESOLUTION NO. 2814

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

Whereas the month of May is a time to celebrate the Gaelic language and culture on Cape Breton Island; and

[Page 5907]

Whereas the publishing of the new edition of The Highland Heart in Nova Scotia by Neil MacNeil celebrates 50 years of the remarkable Cape Breton classic; and

Whereas The Highland Heart in Nova Scotia is about the peace and raw humour of Celtic Cape Breton's golden age;

Therefore be it resolved that this House offer congratulations to Wreck Cove Publishing on the 50th Anniversary of the publishing of the Cape Breton classic, The Highland Heart in Nova Scotia, by Neil MacNeil.

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 Premier just gave me a resolution and it was with regard to our former Speaker, Mr. Gerald Fogarty, the member for Halifax Bedford Basin. Today is his birthday, I guess, so I would ask the House to join with me and I will table the resolution and he will be able to have that (Interruption) (Laughter) I will give this to the Clerk. I am sure we all agree that the honourable member for Halifax Bedford Basin will have a happy day.

RESOLUTION NO. 2815

[HON. RUSSELL MACLELLAN, Q.C. (The Premier): Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas I am pleased to announce that the MLA for Halifax Bedford Basin will be celebrating the day of his birth once again; and

Whereas Mr. Fogarty has travelled the world reporting and broadcasting many sporting events including Summer and Winter Olympics; however, his commitment to his family and community always brought him back home; and

Whereas since retiring from broadcasting, Mr. Fogarty is dedicated to representing the people of Halifax Bedford Basin, his wife, children and especially six grandchildren;

[Page 5908]

Therefore be it resolved that this House extend congratulations to the MLA for Halifax Bedford Basin on the day of his birth and wish him a happy birthday.]

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

RESOLUTION NO. 2816

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

Whereas Nova Scotia road builders are concerned about the terrific loss of jobs due to the present severely reduced level of highway funding; and

Whereas the Nova Scotia Roadbuilders Association have been refused a meeting with the Premier, the Minister of Finance and the Minister of Transportation and Public Works until after the budget is tabled; and

Whereas one member of the Nova Scotia Roadbuilders Association in a May 7, 1999, letter states, "There are practically no projects to bid on and as a consequence we will not be able to rehire 60 of our employees some with 30 years of service.";

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier, the Minister of Finance and the Minister of Transportation have the courage to meet with the Nova Scotia Roadbuilders as requested, before the budget is tabled, and recognize that grossly neglected roads are compromising safety, job opportunities and economic development.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Finance.

RESOLUTION NO. 2817

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

[Page 5909]

Whereas Maurice Guitton, Executive Vice-President of Composites Atlantic Limited, was honoured last night for his Individual Outstanding Contribution to the Export Market Award at the Nova Scotia Export Achievement Awards; and

Whereas Mr. Guitton continues to advance Nova Scotia's stature internationally through the growth and calibre of Composites' products within the high-tech aerospace sector; and

Whereas Mr. Guitton is considered by Nova Scotia colleagues to be an Ambassador for Nova Scotia while also serving as Councillor of External Trade for France;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly commend Mr. Guitton on his accomplishments, not only as an industry leader but also as an energetic promoter of Nova Scotia and the high-tech aerospace industry.

I ask for waiver, Mr. Speaker.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

RESOLUTION NO. 2818

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

Whereas Forbes March of Halifax has just completed a three year modelling stint and one year of acting school; and

Whereas Mr. March spent his formative years in a household without a television set; and

Whereas he made his debut at 2:00 p.m. today on the long-running soap opera, All My Children;

[Page 5910]

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate Forbes March on his debut and hope that it doesn't take him 18 years or longer to win his Daytime Emmy.

Mr. Speaker, I seek waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cumberland North.

RESOLUTION NO. 2819

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

Whereas the Elmsdale District School was devastated by an oil spill in the second month of this school year, forcing the busing of Grade 5 students to another community and the closure of the school library and gymnasium; and

Whereas at the end of the school year the Premier pledged to put education in the spotlight at yesterday's school construction announcement at Elmsdale school; and

Whereas Janet Savory, Chairwoman of the Schools Advisory Council, said yesterday that work needs to be done to get them through the interim and that they have received no commitment thus far;

Therefore be it resolved that this government truly begin to put the spotlight on education by addressing the urgent needs of the students at Elmsdale District Elementary rather than using the facility to spotlight the government's attempt to make a bad situation look good.

I ask for waiver of notice, Mr. Speaker.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 5911]

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Nova.

RESOLUTION NO. 2820

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 United Steel Workers of America gave a total of $70,000 to the Nova Scotia New Democratic Party in 1998, this being from District 3, District 6, and the national office of the union; and

Whereas in spite of this very generous level of support for the NDP by the steelworkers union, the NDP refuses to support the steelworkers as regards the Sysco business plan; and

Whereas the best the NDP has to offer the Sydney steelworker is empty statements such as "I and the NDP Caucus are willing to wait for the facts before making up our minds.";

Therefore be it resolved that if the NDP cannot make up its mind and unequivocally support the Sydney steel plant and its workers, they should return, to the United Steel Workers Union, the dues money of hard-working steelworkers which they have received.

[3:30 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.

RESOLUTION NO. 2821

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

Whereas governments don't sell but rather give exploration leases to companies wishing to explore for our oil and gas reserves solely on the basis of how many dollars they say they will spend; and

Whereas companies given such leases are not required as part of their licence to even employ a minimum number of Nova Scotians or purchase a minimum amount of goods and services within Nova Scotia; and

[Page 5912]

Whereas Nova Scotians deserve to receive maximum benefits from all phases of our oil and gas developments;

Therefore be it resolved that government should amend how it grants exploration licences to take into account which companies guarantee the highest Nova Scotian content as a means to develop a sustainable industry and secure jobs for Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Annapolis.

RESOLUTION NO. 2822

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 Community Learning Centre in Lawrencetown recently received the 1999 Partners in Education Award from the Conference Board of Canada and the Royal Bank; and

Whereas the adult high school was one of only 11 such schools in Canada to receive this award and the only school in Nova Scotia to do so; and

Whereas the Community Learning Centre is helping build a highly-skilled workforce as well as a commitment to community pride;

Therefore be it resolved that the staff and students of the Community Learning Centre receive the congratulations of this House on their recent award and best wishes for their continued good work in the community.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 5913]

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 Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage.

RESOLUTION NO. 2823

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

Whereas students from Cole Harbour District High School recently competed in the robotics section of the Nova Scotia Skills Competition; and

Whereas Cherie Collicut, J.D. Hackett, Eric Miller and Nathan McHugh, Andrew Young, Colin Horncastle, Alora Morris, Amy Alexander and Chloe Austin finished in second place in the competition; and

Whereas the students from Cole Harbour District High School have been selected to represent Nova Scotia at the Skills Canada Competition in Kitchener in June;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the students from Cole Harbour District High on their success to date and wish them the best of luck in the national competition.

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 Antigonish.

[Page 5914]

RESOLUTION NO. 2824

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

Whereas the latest employment figures from Statistics Canada shows that Nova Scotia is leading the nation in full-time employment growth; and

Whereas Nova Scotia's success in reducing unemployment and increasing its workforce by nearly 12,000 new jobs is now the envy of Canada; and

Whereas this increase in jobs proves that employers have confidence in the provincial economy;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House recognize the remarkable growth being experienced in our province and offer congratulations to the many Nova Scotia businesses who are fuelling our economy.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Preston.

RESOLUTION NO. 2825

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 YWCA has been essential to the life of our community, believing in a brighter life and a better community for every family; and

Whereas the YWCA believes in a world where women can take their rightful place as equal participants in, and designers of, their local and global communities; and

[Page 5915]

Whereas the YWCA of Halifax held their 18th Annual Women's Recognition Awards at the Lord Nelson Hotel on May 3rd where 10 women received recognition for their achievements in fostering better communities;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the YWCA of Halifax for 125 years of service in the Halifax community and for recognizing the contributions of these women who have made a difference.

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 Halifax Bedford Basin.

RESOLUTION NO. 2826

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

Whereas during the fall 1998 session of the Legislature this House extended congratulations to CBC producer Geoff D'Eon for his documentary on the Springhill mine disaster called Blood on the Coal; and

Whereas since that time the documentary has won an Atlantic Journalism Award for best TV feature; and

Whereas most recently, Blood on the Coal received an award at the Canadian International Documentary Festival in Toronto;

Therefore be it resolved that this House again recognize Geoff D'Eon for chronicling a terrible chapter in Nova Scotia mining history and congratulate him on these prestigious awards.

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

[Page 5916]

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Dartmouth South.

RESOLUTION NO. 2827

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

Whereas the Government of Nova Scotia still has not addressed the need for a secure treatment facility in Nova Scotia for youth with behavioural problems; and

Whereas the government continues to send troubled youth out of the province to facilities in the United States and to distant points in Canada; and

Whereas other troubled young people remain in Nova Scotia without adequate treatment;

Therefore be it resolved that this House condemn the government's failure to address this problem and urge it to treat the matter as one of considerable urgency.

Mr. Speaker, I ask 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 Natural Resources.

[Page 5917]

RESOLUTION NO. 2828

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

Whereas yesterday I, along with the Premier, announced the construction of Rankin Memorial, a new Primary to Grade 12 school; and

Whereas this school will serve students now attending school in Christmas Island and Rankin Memorial in Iona; and

Whereas this new school will have a gymnasium, cafeteria, technology labs, libraries and the space for fine arts as well as being a centre for community and extra-curricular activities;

Therefore be it resolved that this House commend this government for its multi-year school construction program which will result in Nova Scotia having one of the best educational systems in North America.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Centre.

RESOLUTION NO. 2829

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

Whereas on January 28, 1999, the federal government announced it was withdrawing from the mining operations on Cape Breton Island, shattering the future hopes of many of the Island's youth; and

Whereas students, teachers and staff signed a petition outlining their support for an improved package for the 1,100 affected Devco employees; and

[Page 5918]

Whereas the students of Breton Education Centre will stage a march of concern on Thursday, May 20th;

Therefore be it resolved that this House commend the students for their activism and call on the federal government to heed their message.

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 Cape Breton Nova.

RESOLUTION NO. 2830

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

Whereas the NDP here in the Legislature proclaim what great champions they are of the Cape Breton coal miner; and

Whereas much of this is a smokescreen to obscure the underperformance of federal MP Peter Mancini, who claims to be leading the fight for Devco at Ottawa; and

Whereas recently Peter Mancini jetted to Peru, with stopover at Jamaica, then by his own cheerful admission spent four consecutive days at the Sydney library comfortably reading books, to demonstrate leadership on the Devco issue;

Therefore be it resolved that the non-performance of MP Peter Mancini is a perfect example of the very poor quality of representation offered by the NDP and how the Cape Breton miners are not receiving fair value for their current representation in these times of great crisis.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Yarmouth.

[Page 5919]

RESOLUTION NO. 2831

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

Whereas during the session to deal with WCB legislation a bill was brought forward to strengthen coastal communities; and

Whereas this bill brought forward by the member for Yarmouth would deal with the issue of the illegal lobster fishery; and

Whereas the Fisheries Minister and the Fisheries Critic for the Third Party crushed the bill;

Therefore be it resolved that the MLAs for Argyle and Eastern Shore apologize for abandoning the fisheries of this province.

Mr. Speaker, I request 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 the Environment.

RESOLUTION NO. 2832

HON. MICHEL SAMSON: 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 member for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour stated openly that contributions made to his campaign were to cover the expenses of imported election workers; and

Whereas it has now become totally apparent that the Nova Scotia NDP is not totally committed to using the resources available in our great province; and

Whereas it is also noted that this type of behaviour by the NDP has been going on for years now and does little or nothing to help Nova Scotians gain any experience or find jobs;

[Page 5920]

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize the efforts and dedication of the people of Nova Scotia and resolve to stand behind them and help them find jobs whenever possible even if the Nova Scotia NDP does not.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect.

RESOLUTION NO. 2833

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

Whereas residents of the communities along the Prospect Road are aware that the Minister of Transportation and Public Works recently toured this busy highway; and

Whereas the minister also met with area residents and learned of the well-known safety concerns of these residents; and

Whereas this same minister assured these people that he would consider their requests;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Transportation and Public Works inform Prospect Road residents where their far too long neglected road sits on this infamous priority list for road improvement work throughout our province.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

[Page 5921]

The honourable member for Antigonish.

RESOLUTION NO. 2834

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

Whereas the insurance industry in Atlantic Canada recently took a small step to standardize regional services; and

Whereas this step by the four Atlantic Provinces could possibly save government and industry $1 million annually; and

Whereas NDP policy documents state that they plan to regulate the private insurance industry out of existence and create a totally government-run insurance industry;

Therefore be it resolved that the NDP explain to the 3,200 insurance agents, brokers and adjusters in Nova Scotia why the NDP plan to put them out of business and apologize for the Party's hostility toward private business.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

RESOLUTION NO. 2835

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

Whereas seniors throughout this province are still confused about Pharmacare changes; and

Whereas this government has done nothing to clarify the situation by giving seniors straight answers; and

Whereas the government's inaction has only made this situation worse;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Health stop playing games with seniors and start giving them the straight answers they need and deserve on Pharmacare.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Fisheries.

[Page 5922]

RESOLUTION NO. 2836

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

Whereas the Twin Oaks Senior Citizens Association, better know as The Birches, located in Musquodoboit Harbour, recently celebrated its 20th Anniversary on May 13, 1999; and

Whereas The Birches have provided 20 years of long-term care for 40 residents and two respite bed services as well as community programs for seniors such as a weekly foot clinic, Alzheimers Day Club, Senior Social Club and has provided Meals on Wheels service; and

Whereas The Birches has the first integrated board of trustees for long-term and acute care facilities to have received the first joint accreditation award for integrated long-term acute care services in Nova Scotia;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House applaud the staff and volunteers of the Twin Oaks Senior Citizens Association for their dedication over the past 20 years and wish them many more years of success.

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 Halifax Chebucto.

RESOLUTION NO. 2837

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

Whereas last week the Downtown Halifax BIDC hosted an Atlantic Provinces conference focused on the common problems experienced by municipal downtown cores; and

[Page 5923]

[3:45 p.m.]

Whereas all of the participants complained of the lack of attention being paid to downtown cores by the various provincial governments; and

Whereas typically downtowns are still major economic engines, especially here in Halifax Regional Municipality;

Therefore be it resolved that this House encourages the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing to take immediate steps to cooperate with BIDCs in advancing their development needs.

Mr. Speaker, I seek 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 Minister of the Environment.

RESOLUTION NO. 2838

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

Whereas Jesse "The Body" Ventura has made the commendable transition from professional wrestling to become the Governor of Minnesota; and

Whereas the Leader of the Opposition seems to want to make the transition from politics to wrestling by his statement, "Let's get it on!"; and

Whereas this juvenile statement clearly proves the New Democratic Party are bankrupt of policy alternatives as they aimlessly grapple for power;

Therefore be it resolved that the Leader of the NDP make the jump into the pro-wrestling ring, for he has clearly demonstrated he does not have the capacity to lead his own Party.

[Page 5924]

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour.

RESOLUTION NO. 2839

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

Whereas yesterday in the House the Minister of Economic Development heard of several worthwhile projects whose requests for funding under the Nova Scotia Summer Employment Program were unsuccessful; and

Whereas the minister was also questioned as to why such a high proportion of projects funded reside in his riding; and

Whereas the minister responded with the quip that perhaps the reason why certain projects were unsuccessful in their funding applications had to do with their representation, in this case by New Democratic Party MLAs;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Economic Development set higher standards of criteria for these important funding projects than the political stripe of the MLA representing the riding.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Inverness.

RESOLUTION NO. 2840

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

Whereas life is often like a game of golf; and

Whereas despite hazards, pitfalls and unexpected problems, it is important to play through; and

Whereas the Leader of the socialist New Democratic Party and his robot followers have lost this message and are stuck in the sand trap of life without a wedge;

Therefore be it resolved that the socialist Leader should concentrate on getting out of the rough and back to par before thinking of the ultimate prize, which is a hole in one.

[Page 5925]

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

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

RESOLUTION NO. 2841

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

Whereas District 9 held its annual Community Wide Clean-up and volunteers collected over 300 bags of garbage and metal objects of all sorts; and

Whereas this annual clean-up involved volunteers from the District 9 Citizens Association, the IOOF Foresters Court 1250, the Boys and Girls Club, the 3rd Dartmouth Girl Guides, the 17th and 20th Dartmouth Scouting, the Freedom Foundation, the Dartmouth North Community Centre Youth, the area schools, the District 9 Neighbourhood Watch, Mainline Needle Exchange, Halifax Regional Municipality, and Clean Nova Scotia; and

Whereas the targeted areas for clean-up by the volunteers included Albro Lake Beach, Harbour View Elementary School, Farrell Playground and Park, John Martin Junior High School, Pinehill Look-off, Northbrook Park, John MacNeil Elementary School, Yetter Park, Monique Park, Pinecrest Park, Shultz Field, Harbour View, and Primrose/Brule Street Parks;

Therefore be it resolved that this Legislative Assembly commend all volunteers for contributing to make our community and a part of our province a much cleaner place in which to live.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

[Page 5926]

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

The motion is carried.

That resolution was much too long.

The honourable Minister of Health.

RESOLUTION NO. 2842

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

Whereas exports in Nova Scotia play a vital role in stimulating the economy with total sales in 1998 reaching $3.42 billion; and

Whereas on Tuesday, May 18, 1999, Survival Systems Limited, headquartered in Dartmouth, received the Company Award for Outstanding Contribution to the Export Market at the 1999 Nova Scotia Export Achievement Awards; and

Whereas Survival Systems, with its staff of 94, leads the world in the development and delivery of safety survival training programs and simulation devices for the industrial, offshore, aviation and marine industries;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulates the President of Survival Systems, Mr. Albert Bohemier, who was here earlier today with us, and his staff on their Outstanding Contribution to the Export Market Award and for achieving sales in 1998 that were up over 100 per cent from the previous year.

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

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Pictou West.

[Page 5927]

RESOLUTION NO. 2843

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

Whereas May 15th to May 21st is National Road Safety Week, and many rural roads in this province are in dire need of improvement; and

Whereas roads provide a critical infrastructure for communities to develop and grow; and

Whereas the Liberal Government has yet to develop a consistent and clearly defined strategic plan to maintain and upgrade roads;

Therefore be it resolved that the Liberal Government make a commitment to develop a fair and needs-based priority list for road improvements and make that list available to all Nova Scotians.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Community Services.

RESOLUTION NO. 2844

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

Whereas during the summer of 1998, the Bedford Skippers hosted the national Skipping Championships with more than 200 skippers attending from across the country; and

Whereas this year's provincial championships were hosted at Basinview Drive Community School in Bedford, where the Bedford Skippers under the leadership of coach Ed Cooper does its training; and

[Page 5928]

Whereas the Bedford Skippers will send 24 competitors to Ontario for this year's national competitions;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House offer congratulations to Mr. Cooper and his skippers in their continued efforts towards physical fitness and wish them good luck in the upcoming nationals.

Mr. Speaker, I am requesting 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 Hants East.

RESOLUTION NO. 2845

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

Whereas centenarians have reached an age that in itself is worthy of note; and

Whereas my Great-Aunt Elsie Horne reached the age of 102 on April 28th past; and

Whereas in a few months this incredible woman will achieve the distinction of having a lifespan touching on three centuries;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Elsie Horne on her 102nd milestone and wish her the best in the next year.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

[Page 5929]

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Sackville-Beaver Bank.

RESOLUTION NO. 2846

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

Whereas well-maintained affordable housing is essential to the physical, social, emotional and educational well-being of individuals and families; and

Whereas a goal of this government is to provide affordable housing for all Nova Scotians; and

Whereas Habitat for Humanity is an internationally respected organization that has provided thousands of homes for families around the world;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate Habitat for Humanity on building 10 homes in Cole Harbour and turning 10 families into Nova Scotian homeowners.

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 Halifax Citadel.

RESOLUTION NO. 2847

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

[Page 5930]

Whereas the work and cultural identity of artists and craftspeople is promoted by newly created spaces at the Pier 21 Arts Annex at 1099 Marginal Road, Halifax, Nova Scotia; and

Whereas 30 work spaces have been created at the annex for use by artists and craftspeople; and

Whereas there is an open house of the new Pier 21 Arts Annex on Thursday, May 20, 1999, from 5:00 p.m. until 9:00 p.m., co-hosted by the Art of Gallery of Nova Scotia, the Halifax Port Authority and several local commercial interests;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the Pier 21 Arts Annex Association and its Chairman, Nicholas Marsh, for ensuring that this important space for Nova Scotia artists and craftspeople has been preserved, adding to the cultural and economic vitality of this city and of the Province of Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I would request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Health.

RESOLUTION NO. 2848

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

Whereas the Grade 12 graduating class of Prince Andrew High School has recently embarked on a class project which has resulted in massive changes in the landscape at Prince Andrew; and

Whereas these graduating students have invested a great deal of time and energy into planting trees and shrubbery, as well as improving the lawns at the school; and

Whereas their efforts will constantly be a reminder to students and residents alike of the spirit and generosity of the graduating class of 1999;

[Page 5931]

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the Class of 1999 at Prince Andrew High School, under the leadership of Mr. Greg King, for their very important and lasting contribution to Prince Andrew High School and the Dartmouth East community.

Mr. Speaker, I would request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

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

RESOLUTION NO. 2849

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

Whereas Trunk 12 connects Chester Basin with the Annapolis Valley; and

Whereas some ruts in this neglected highway were deep enough last August to be filled by me with top soil and seeds; and

Whereas the seeds of this experimental planting comprised a variety of hardy, flowering perennial herbs and meadow grasses, which are now sprouting nicely;

Therefore be it resolved that the Ministers of Transportation and Agriculture join me for a joyous spring harvest on this former highway turned nature trail.

Mr. Speaker, I would request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

[Page 5932]

The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

RESOLUTION NO. 2850

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

Whereas Recreation Nova Scotia recently held its awards banquet to honour volunteers; and

Whereas among those honoured was Anika Adekayode, a student at Halifax West High School; and

Whereas Anika was recognized for her leadership as vice-president of the student council, peer helper and fund-raiser;

Therefore be it resolved this House congratulate Anika Adekayode for her award and express its gratitude to her for her contribution to her community.

Mr. Speaker, I would request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.

RESOLUTION NO. 2851

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

Whereas the Second Lake Regional Park Association held its annual general meeting on Wednesday, May 12, 1999; and

Whereas guest speakers and general discussion focused on ways to responsibly develop the Second Lake lands in Sackville as a regional park; and

[Page 5933]

Whereas Shane O'Neil, who has spear-headed the association's activities, was re-elected as president for another term;

Therefore be it resolved this House congratulate and thank both past and present executive members of the Second Lake Regional Park Association for their accomplishments and wish them well in future endeavours.

Mr. Speaker, I would request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage.

RESOLUTION NO. 2852

[4:00 p.m.]

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

Whereas two students from Cole Harbour District High School recently competed in the Web Page Design section of the Nova Scotia Skills Competition; and

Whereas Jamie Archibald and Chris Ritchie finished in first place in the competition; and

Whereas the students from Cole Harbour District High School have been selected to represent Nova Scotia at the Skills Canada Competition in Kitchener in June;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate Jamie Archibald and Chris Ritchie on their success to date and wish them the best of luck in the national competition.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver.

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

[Page 5934]

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Preston.

RESOLUTION NO. 2853

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

Whereas Jade Bradbury of Lake Echo has been involved in the art of Tae-Kwon-Do for five years; and

Whereas Jade has demonstrated self-discipline and commitment in learning the art of Tae-Kwon-Do; and

Whereas in March of this year, at the age of 10, Jade was the recipient of her Junior Black Belt;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate this young person for her outstanding achievement and demonstrated ability in achieving this status.

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 Dartmouth South.

[Page 5935]

RESOLUTION NO. 2854

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

Whereas the panel considering the Georges Bank moratorium has heard many submissions from various parties interested in the issue of oil and gas exploration on the Canadian side of the bank; and

Whereas the panel is now deliberating on the subject;

Therefore be it resolved that in the interest of fairness, this Assembly urge the government to allow adequate time for comments when the panel has submitted its report.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Centre.

RESOLUTION NO. 2855

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

Whereas Dominion Beach is a beautiful and popular beach important to tourism of industrial Cape Breton; and

Whereas the beach is facing continuous erosion; and

Whereas erosion will cause irreparable harm to the beach and surrounding wildlife area;

Therefore be it resolved that the Department of Natural Resources take immediate action to secure the future of the beach and its ecosystems.

[Page 5936]

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Yarmouth.

RESOLUTION NO. 2856

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

Whereas the provincial park in Yarmouth County, Ellenwood Park, will not open until June 8th; and

Whereas it historically opened the long weekend in May; and

Whereas it is enjoyed by thousands of guests arriving daily by ferry in Yarmouth and visited by other tourists and residents;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Natural Resources re-evaluate the decision for a June opening and back to the long weekend in May.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect.

RESOLUTION NO. 2857

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

[Page 5937]

Whereas in a recent ceremony, families of organ donors were honoured at the Dixon Building at the QE II Health Sciences Centre; and

Whereas among the 25 families honoured, Betty and Carl Kaiser of Hubley were awarded the Canadian Gift of Life Medal for their dedication to the Organ Transplant Program; and

Whereas the Kaisers continued to give of themselves in these efforts in memory of their beloved son Michael;

Therefore be it resolved that this House offer its congratulations to the Kaiser family for their commitment to the Organ Donor Awareness Program.

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 Halifax Needham.

RESOLUTION NO. 2858

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 Premier said that there would be more dollars for health care in the spring budget and that it is possible nurses might benefit; and

Whereas vague promises do nothing to address the nursing shortage situation which is critical in this province; and

Whereas Nova Scotia is the hardest hit of any province in terms of the loss of nurses;

Therefore be it resolved that this government do more than throw out vague promises and take immediate action to fix a problem they have allowed to escalate into a crisis.

[Page 5938]

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 Halifax Chebucto.

RESOLUTION NO. 2859

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

Whereas the branch of the Bank of Montreal located on Oxford Street in Halifax has just closed permanently, effective last week; and

Whereas this branch has existed for many years and its services will be missed; and

Whereas the immediate neighbourhood has many seniors who will be seriously inconvenienced by the closure of this branch;

Therefore be it resolved that this House continues to view with alarm the reduction in available branches of financial institutions throughout the province.

Mr. Speaker, I seek waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour.

[Page 5939]

RESOLUTION NO. 2860

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

Whereas Aimee Richard of Cole Harbour District High School was recently awarded the Canada Trust Scholarship for Outstanding Community Leadership; and

Whereas Aimee Richard won this award for creating a fund-raising campaign to assist community organizations including the Metro Food Bank Society; and

Whereas Ms. Richard is an example of the fine community-oriented citizens that Cole Harbour District High continues to produce;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate Aimee Richard on this outstanding achievement.

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

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

RESOLUTION NO. 2861

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

Whereas yesterday in the House, the Minister of Community Services made reference to some idiots spreading rumours about the Senior Citizens Secretariat folding; and

Whereas many seniors are concerned about this depriving them of a strong advocate; and

Whereas the minister is quoted as saying her department intends to seek advice around the shape and format of the secretariat in the future;

[Page 5940]

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Community Services provide this Legislature with how her department is going to ensure that the Senior Citizens Secretariat will be strengthened.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Pictou West.

RESOLUTION NO. 2862

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

Whereas rural secondary roads have long been neglected in this province; and

Whereas we need a priority system to determine which roads should be done next; and

Whereas recent budgets have been cut back on funding for maintenance of secondary roads;

Therefore be it resolved that the Department of Transportation's budget be increased to adequately look after the needs of rural secondary roads.

Mr. Speaker, I will ask for a 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 Hants East.

[Page 5941]

RESOLUTION NO. 2863

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

Whereas the Minister of Agriculture has been playing a shell game with Nova Scotian farmers over the federal-provincial funding package; and

Whereas last week he said Ottawa's contribution would be $7.5 million and then later he said it was really $4.5 million; and

Whereas his sleight-of-hand game of now you see it now you don't has indeed succeeded in totally confusing Nova Scotia farmers;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Agriculture save his magic trick for parties, excluding his own that is, and stick to the facts when it comes to the serious business of drought and crop relief.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I wanted to ask that the notice of motion that I read just a short time ago be reconsidered.

MR. SPEAKER: Yes indeed. I don't know if it was my error or somebody else's error but, quite obviously, there has been error.

MR. DEXTER: Should I read it again?

MR. SPEAKER: No, we will just put the question.

There is a request for waiver on the notice of motion brought forward by the honourable member for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

That is a retroactive approval.

[Page 5942]

The honourable member for Sackville-Beaver Bank.

RESOLUTION NO. 2864

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

Whereas Skyline Enterprises of Beaver Bank is a sheltered workshop for residents of the Scotia Nursing Home; and

Whereas the quality wood and ceramic gifts produced at Skyline Enterprises are a great source of pride for the artists and the staff;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate Skyline Enterprises as it celebrates its 10th Anniversary today.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for wavier 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 4:12 p.m., we will terminate at 5:42 p.m.

The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

SYSCO - BUSINESS PLAN

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I want to direct my question through you to the minister responsible for Sysco. Just yesterday the minister tabled in this House what he pretends was the Sysco business plan but I say to you that it is not the five year business plan drawn up by Hoogovens; it even differs from the outline Hoogovens presented to the

[Page 5943]

Opposition caucuses back in March. My question to the minister is quite simply this, why is he playing these kinds of games with the future of Sysco?

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, the people playing the games with Sysco is the Leader of the Opposition and his Party, who will not come out and say whether or not they support the steelworkers and their plight in Cape Breton. That is who is playing games with Sysco.

MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, over a month ago the government made a commitment to our caucus that when the five year plan was completed it would be provided to us on a confidential basis. I want to ask the minister responsible, why has he not carried forward with that commitment?

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, the short answer would be that anything you would give the Leader of the Opposition would never remain confidential, I can tell you that.

MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, the minister said he was ending government's involvement in the Sysco sale by putting it in the competent hands of Hoogovens. The minister wants to be above politics, he says. My question to him then is, why will he not do the responsible thing and provide straight answers and consistent answers about the Sysco business plan?

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I am doing the responsible thing. This government has agreed to a go-forward position with Sysco with a world-renowned firm called Hoogovens and ABN Amro, another world-class institution that is out there trying to sell the plant. All we are hearing here is negativity from the Leader of the Opposition. That Leader over there has one story today and another story tomorrow. I could tell you, he is doing (Interruptions)

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

SYSCO - HOOGOVENS: MANAGEMENT - COST

DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the minister responsible for Sysco.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The chitchat across the floor will cease.

DR. HAMM: Government employed Hoogovens to manage Sysco. This occurred in 1998. Rumours on the street have it that at least $1.2 million is being expended every month to have Hoogovens run Sysco. My question to the minister is, exactly how much money per month is being paid to Hoogovens to run Sysco?

[Page 5944]

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, unlike the Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party, I don't deal with rumours on the street.

DR. HAMM: In January, Mr. Speaker, I submitted a Freedom of Information application. On April 28th the Freedom of Information Officer decreed that we should have the payment agreement and the Memorandum of Understanding with Hoogovens. Is this minister prepared to acquiesce to the demands of the Freedom of Information Officer and make that information available?

[4:15 p.m.]

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, whatever information the honourable member is looking for - and there is some confusion as to exactly what he is looking for here, whether it is this plan or that plan - Darce Fardy in the Freedom of Information Office has been in contact with the president of Sydney Steel and they are now talking about what information can be given out excluding, of course, information of a proprietary nature that Hoogovens need to go forward with the marketing plan and the sale of Sysco.

DR. HAMM: To the Premier, this government passed the Freedom of Information legislation that indicated that information that was decreed to be in the purview of the public should be made available by government. The Freedom of Information Officer has ruled that we should have the Memorandum of Understanding and the payment agreement.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Your question, please.

DR. HAMM: Will the Premier indicate to his minister that he should agree and acquiesce to the ruling of the Freedom of Information Officer and provide that?

THE PREMIER: I want to assure the Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party that all is being done that can be done to expedite the information. Mr. Fardy is now looking over the documents. He will make a decision as to what can be provided and on his recommendation we will provide what he suggests. (Interruption) No, he has not.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

SYSCO: DIRECTORS - APPT. (JOHN STRASSER)

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I am going to return to the minister responsible for Sysco. If the Hoogovens plan for Sysco is going to work, Sysco needs to have credibility in the world market. The appointment to the board of directors of John Strasser, the front man for a Russian company that put in a bid for Sysco less than two years ago, puts that credibility in jeopardy. My question to the minister, why, when Sysco desperately needs credibility, have you just appointed a director with a clear conflict of interest?

[Page 5945]

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, the Leader of the Opposition opposite again chooses to bring the name up of a distinguished Nova Scotian by the name of Dr. John Strasser, a former president of Sydney Steel, and a person who was instrumental last year in obtaining a five million ton rail order from Stavan Transmet of Russia and that was his only involvement with that particular company. I wish we had more people on the board that could do that.

MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, access to the U.S. market will be impossible unless Sysco can demonstrate a clean break with the past, a past full of political interference and mismanagement. My question to the minister, why is the minister sending a signal to the world steel industry that, once again, mismanagement and politics are the order of the day at Sysco?

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, it is interesting that the Leader of the Opposition would make that comment because I wanted to respond to that. That is exactly why we have world-renowned steel people trying to market this plant and trying to sell the plant in the best interests of the steelworkers at Sydney Steel and the community of Cape Breton. I want to know, Mr. Speaker, where the NDP stands. Do they support Sysco or don't they? That is what I want to know. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. If I have any further interventions, I will name that member.

MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, we keep going back to the past with this government, to the Buchanan era and beyond . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. CHISHOLM: This minister cannot keep his grubby hands off Sysco. That is the problem. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. CHISHOLM: I want to ask the minister, Mr. Speaker, will he do the right thing by the workers at Sysco, by the people of Nova Scotia, and get John Strasser off the board at Sysco?

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I am doing the right thing. I am keeping Sysco open, a plant that is going to work and supply jobs to Cape Breton for steelworkers who deserve the jobs. I am not embarrassing the steelworkers like that member is.

[Page 5946]

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

SYSCO - BUSINESS PLAN

DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, I will continue with the minister responsible for Sysco. Is the minister prepared to say that the document that he tabled here in the House yesterday labelled, Sydney Steel Corporation Business Plan 1999, is the information that was provided to Cabinet that allowed them to make the decision to give $44 million more of taxpayers' money to Sysco?

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, the business plan that was tabled here yesterday was the operation business plan from Sydney Steel to the Government of Nova Scotia, a requirement of a Crown Corporation. It is not the Sears Catalogue, it is a business plan, 37 pages of business plan all the way from marketing projections to finance projections. I am sorry if the Leader of the Third Party cannot make out what is in this business plan. I will carefully explain it to him later if he wants me to do that.

DR. HAMM: Mr. Speaker, the minister responsible for Sysco seems to be more interested in denigrating those that want to get the information on Sysco, than he is in standing up and justifying why $44 million is being invested in Sysco. My question to the minister is, can the minister report any sentences in here that would give anybody any confidence that Sysco, that has not reported a profit in decades, can become profitable over the next 12 months?

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, the Leader of the Third Party continues the ultimate double-cross to steelworkers and their families in Cape Breton. He has demonstrated that for crass political reasons and I refuse to be drawn into a debate at that level. What I will say is that the $44 million new money that he talks about is a loan guarantee to Sysco to see them through a difficult period while we are effecting a sale of that plant and putting it in private hands and private, proper management where it belongs.

DR. HAMM: Mr. Speaker, this minister seems interested in propping up an industry that at best provides 32 weeks of employment for steelworkers, the rest of the time they are on employment insurance and in many years even less than 32 weeks. My question to the minister is, does he feel that investing in Sysco is going to make things any better in Cape Breton than they are today or have been over the last two years? Or is he prepared to admit that we should be looking for a new economy for Cape Breton and investing in new initiatives?

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, we have heard that story before. What the honourable member opposite wants to do is put everybody in Cape Breton on a make-work project, that is what he said, put everybody on a make-work project. We have an industry here that is being marketed now for sale. It is an industry that we think with the

[Page 5947]

expert steel people we have running that plant can make it in the future. I am going to tell you, I don't subscribe to his theory about Cape Breton, his double . . .

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

HEALTH - NURSES: SHORTAGE - YARMOUTH

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is to the Minister of Health. Yesterday the minister said . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I hesitate to name a member but if we don't have some order in this Chamber I will be naming a member and that is goodbye for today.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, yesterday the Minister of Health said he had a plan for addressing the critical shortage of nurses in Yarmouth. He also said the details of the plan were none of our business. Now holding this minister accountable is our business. Once again my question is, will the minister tell us just how he intends to address the nursing shortage in Yarmouth?

HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, and thanks for the chance to clarify a few points. The letter that was being waved around yesterday on Yarmouth hospital letterhead was from a volunteer and had been addressed to the chairman of the regional health board, Dr. Perkin. What I was responding to and I think you held me to task for and which I apologize to the House for, was a statement relative to a phone call. I meant that that phone call between Dr. Perkin and myself was a private conversation.

Five days before the letter that the honourable member is referring to was written, there was a plan circulated that would have been available to that person who wrote the letter, on how that would be dealt with. There will be no closure of beds due to nursing shortages in the Yarmouth Regional Hospital and, I might say, at the site of a new hospital.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I have the government's plan here to address the nursing shortage in Yarmouth, which amounts to little more than putting a band-aid on a splint. I would like to table that.

Will the minister explain why it is necessary to bring in two nurses from the United States, while we are losing nursing graduates from our own province?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, we are addressing, through our relationship with all stakeholders in nursing, a plan that will evolve, that will be financed and announced in the budget and there will be nurses coming from all over North America to Nova Scotia, the way that there are physicians returning to this province right now, a net gain of 59 physicians.

[Page 5948]

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Hiring private nurses and filling the gaps temporarily with nurses from other regions just isn't acceptable, Mr. Speaker. Will the minister allocate funds for full-time nursing positions for Yarmouth today?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, the nursing services at the Yarmouth Regional Hospital are well taken care of by the Western Regional Health Board and there is no closure of beds.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable minister will address the Chair, not across the floor.

DR. SMITH: That honourable member, Mr. Speaker, has no proof of that. The plan from the western region is that there will be no closure of beds and that is the sort of thing that really has a negative impact on the health care.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Argyle.

FIN. - GAMING CORP./ALC: STATEMENTS - CONFLICT

MR. NEIL LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, my question, through you, is to the Minister of Finance. We learned today, at the Public Accounts Committee from the head of the Atlantic Lottery Corporation, that there are presently no negotiations going on between Nova Scotia and the other provinces. That is different from what the head of the Gaming Corporation, Dara Gordon, has stated, that is that there are some negotiations going on. We have two conflicting stories and I think, for the benefit of all members of the House, I would like the minister to stand up and say, who is telling the truth in this matter?

HON. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, the reality is, what I have been saying all along, is the fact that negotiations have been ongoing since March 29th. Mr. Macpherson, who was here today, was really talking about at his level. It is really at his level, as President of ALC, that he is not part of the negotiations because it is a shareholder negotiated process. So negotiations, in fact, are ongoing.

MR. LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, the dates of the termination of pulling out of the Atlantic Lottery Corporation are November 30, 1999 for the VLTs and March 31, 2000. Today, it was also indicated by Mr. Macpherson that 40 per cent of the costs, which are information technology, will have to be borne by Nova Scotia to have a parallel situation and also the cost of advertising.

Could the minister today try to explain to the House how it is going to be cost-effective for the Province of Nova Scotia to run a parallel system to the Atlantic Lottery Corporation whereby we would benefit? Can you explain that to the House?

[Page 5949]

MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, in fact, as was indicated early in the study by TCG, Ms. Dara Gordon presented the consultants report from Vancouver and it indicated, very clearly, that, in fact, under the business case that we are proposing to go forward on, that we will be able to have more profit to the Province of Nova Scotia and we will also be able to not only maintain the 60-some jobs that are there, but increase up to, possibly, another 100 jobs for Nova Scotians.

MR. LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, what we heard at the Public Accounts Committee today, I find that very hard to believe. There are two consultants reports, one that was done in 1996 that said that is wasn't beneficial and we have another today that says it is.

Will the minister table in the House today, so that all Nova Scotians will have the information and we won't be operating in the dark? I think people deserve to have answers.

MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, in fact, Nova Scotians have not been kept in the dark. Ms. Gordon, Vice-Chairman of the Nova Scotia Gaming Corporation had an open discussion with all people and presented exactly the findings of the TCG report. The report made it very clear that we can go on our own and be financially viable.

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

BUS. & CONS. SERV. - GAS PRICES:

PREDATORY PRACTICE - ELIMINATE

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I want to direct my question, through you, to the Minister of Business and Consumer Services. Of course, the minister will know that the big oil companies used predatory practices to keep the independent gasoline retailers from reducing their prices. What that means, of course, is that if an independent tries to lower their price, the big oil suppliers will charge them more for their gasoline than they sell it to their own flag station.

[4:30 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: Your question, please.

MR. HOLM: My question to the minister is, does your government support the use of such predatory practices that are aimed at eliminating price competition in the retail sale of gasoline products?

HON. ROBERT HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, as I mentioned yesterday in response to another question from the NDP caucus, this province and this country are in a deregulated market and there are checks and balances primarily driven by consumers to keep prices down. If there are allegations of unfair or predatory or anti-competition practices, that member has

[Page 5950]

an obligation to bring that to the Competition Bureau just as we would if we had that information.

MR. HOLM: Mr. Speaker, even many U.S. states have outlawed predatory practices to ensure that there is fair competition for the consumers in their states.

MR. SPEAKER: Question.

MR. HOLM: My question to the minister is, why is it that he is trying to sound more like the public relations person for big industry instead of doing your job and outlawing predatory practices so Nova Scotians can get a fair deal?

MR. HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, Nova Scotians have benefited from deregulation in the gasoline industry. We have had the lowest prices in 20 years in this province. Once again I challenge the member opposite, if he has a single shred of evidence of unfair competition, of illegal practice, he has an obligation to bring that before the Competition Bureau of this country.

MR. HOLM: The minister knows it is not illegal because he will not outlaw it. The minister knows every cent the price goes up, $11-plus million is taken out of the pockets of Nova Scotians.

MR. SPEAKER: Your question, please.

MR. HOLM: My question to the minister is simply, why is your government more interested in protecting the obese profits of big oil instead of genuine competition in the market place here in Nova Scotia?

MR. HARRISON: You have to love NDP rhetoric. The louder it gets, the less clear it becomes just what their position is. We have a nation and a province that believes that deregulating the oil and gas industry and that consumer purchasing power is the best mechanism to keep prices down. On top of that, we have competition laws in this country, Mr. Speaker, and if he has evidence that those competition laws are being violated, he has a moral and a legal obligation to bring that forward.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.

FIN. - P3 SCHOOLS: TAXATION - EXEMPTION

MR. HOWARD EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Finance. Yesterday the Minister of Education was trying to tell us what a good financial deal P3 schools are. Yet when one reads all of the leases, for example the one for O'Connell Drive, it is clear that the province has made a promise to these business enterprises that they will not

[Page 5951]

have to pay any tax. My question to the Minister of Finance is, why did he and his Cabinet colleagues agree to allow these business enterprises not to pay any tax?

HON. DONALD DOWNE: It is quite simple, Mr. Speaker. We went public for public services, services providing quality education facilities for our students, students that need these facilities so they can be able to meet the emerging economies with an understanding of the educational system. I do not know where the member is coming from. It is open for public access and public utilization.

MR. EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, Hugh Smith and George Armoyan have formed something called the Scotia Schools Trust to raise $70 million so they can go ahead with their P3 schools. In their prospectus they say that one of the reasons they formed a trust rather than a regular corporation was so that they can avoid certain federal and provincial taxes. My question to the Minister of Finance is, did he and his colleagues foresee and approve that a trust could be formed to avoid the payment of tax?

MR. DOWNE: This is so typical of an NDP body. All they want to do, Mr. Speaker, is tax, tax, tax; increase taxation on everybody in the Province of Nova Scotia. These facilities are for public use. They are used by our children and I do not believe we should impose a tax to the children of the Province of Nova Scotia for educating them, unlike the NDP.

MR. EPSTEIN: What we want, Mr. Speaker, is that all businesses should pay their fair share of tax. Can the minister tell us exactly how many dollars of income tax have been foregone by the Province of Nova Scotia by allowing these arrangements?

MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, I cannot tell him that number, but I can tell you one thing. Because of our government, we have reduced taxes in the Province of Nova Scotia, whether it is the HST or tax benefits for small businesses, to the tune of some $32 million, creating jobs. That is why we have the lowest unemployment rate we have had in decades, that is why people are working, not like the NDP that will impose taxes and increase costs to businesses in the province.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou East.

ENVIRON. - SYDNEY TAR PONDS:

TESTING PROGRAM - COMMITMENT

MR. JAMES DEWOLFE: Mr. Speaker, I would like to direct my question to the honourable Minister of the Environment. Yesterday there was a community meeting for residents of the tar ponds area with, I might add, no DOE representation. At this meeting they called on the government to provide a comprehensive soils and water-testing program for their area. Will the minister commit today to having that work done for these residents?

[Page 5952]

HON. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the member for the question. In fact, a meeting was called; unfortunately, there didn't seem to be any communication with my staff to attend that meeting and, what little communication there was, was at the last minute. What staff have been doing is going door-to-door to speak to the residents one-on-one and to individually explain the testing results that have been received, some of the further work we are looking at, and that is going to continue. At this point in time we are doing it on a one-on-one basis.

MR. DEWOLFE: Thank you. I do believe that a comprehensive testing should be done in the area.

I will direct my first supplementary question to the Premier. The Premier yesterday was quoted by the Halifax Chronicle-Herald as saying that he will be coming forward with new statements and a new direction with regard to this issue. Is the Premier admitting now that he has gone down the wrong road, in the wrong direction with this project?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, this is a major problem, involving the coke ovens and the tar ponds. The province, in conjunction with the federal government, is working on this and doing analyses, and we will be making statements as to how we are going to proceed as we go along and that is exactly what I meant.

MR. DEWOLFE: Mr. Speaker, again to the Premier. Your government seems to have been donkey-dancing around this issue for over a year now. My question. When will the government provide much-needed leadership for the residents in this area and present an overall, comprehensive, complete plan?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, if I am not mistaken, the former Conservative Government provincially and the former federal government, which was a Conservative Government as well, wasted $52 million on the clean-up of the tar ponds - $52 million gone - from which the people have no benefit whatsoever and we had to start all over again.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

SCS - FUTURE

MR. JERRY PYE: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the honourable Minister of Community Services. Yesterday the minister told the House she was going to strengthen and expand the Senior Citizens Secretariat. Seniors' representatives told our caucus that they had no idea what the minister meant because seniors have never received any commitment from her.

[Page 5953]

My question for the minister is, will the minister explain exactly what she means when she says she will strengthen and expand the Senior Citizens Secretariat?

HON. FRANCENE COSMAN: Mr. Speaker, I think I made it quite clear in all my answers in this House that the issues and concerns of seniors are of paramount importance to us. I hope the honourable member opposite is not buying into this campaign of misinformation that seems to be circulating around. We strongly support the secretariat; we strongly support its budget. The budget has never been reduced, despite the statements in this House today. We will continue to look at the function and the role of the secretariat to strengthen it for its future.

MR. PYE: Mr. Speaker, this member is quite capable of deciphering what is misinformation. For almost two years the secretariat had no director, no support from the minister. How much longer will the seniors have to wait for the minister to strengthen and expand the secretariat? That is the question.

MRS. COSMAN: Mr. Speaker, given that I announced this about five days ago, I don't think the wait has become too onerous, but certainly we will be going to the seniors and the various organizations they represent on the secretariat with our proposals for doing this consultation and certainly strengthening the secretariat's role and function for the future.

MR. PYE: Mr. Speaker, once again it is difficult to get the information from this minister. Once again we see this government just can't communicate. Will the minister please tell her plans for the secretariat and let the seniors know what she is doing?

MRS. COSMAN: Mr. Speaker, I think it is obvious that the answer is, yes.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings West.

HEALTH: PHARMACARE PROG. -

RETIRED CIVIL SERVANTS (GOV'T. [CAN.])

MR. GEORGE MOODY: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is for the Minister of Health. In 1995 the Liberal Government made changes to the Seniors' Pharmacare Program that has upset a lot of seniors in this province. One such group was the over 10,000 retired federal civil servants, whose Pharmacare costs at that time were borne by a federal plan. I would ask the minister, since the change was made this year - that I agree with, going back to allowing that plan to be the first payer, obviously there is still a lot of confusion - what is he doing to rectify that confusion and that problem?

HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I think that is a very good question because I think communication with that group of seniors is really important and sometimes it is very difficult and sometimes even though you do as well as you can, it is still misunderstood.

[Page 5954]

Mr. Speaker, we have advised those seniors affected by both plans that they should, number one, join the Nova Scotia Pharmacare Program and that if in time the other plan is in fact satisfactory, the issues are resolved and it is satisfactory to those people, then in fact we will rebate the money for the premium that they have submitted to us. No senior will be left without coverage and in the meantime, we are waiting to hear from the federal body governing this particular plan.

MR. MOODY: Mr. Speaker, we have a major problem. These seniors are being made to pay into two plans. In every other province in Canada except Nova Scotia the federal plan kicks in first. I would ask the minister, when is he going to go to Ottawa and see that our seniors in this province are treated fairly and the same as the other seniors across this country?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, Ottawa has come to us. I have met with people from Ottawa here. We have a proposal that will be very satisfactory. I am encouraged and I expect that we will hear very soon. It is not quite true that provinces are dealt with differently across this country by that particular plan, but we want to have Nova Scotia's seniors treated fairly here.

MR. MOODY: Well, it was nice to know that Ottawa came, but obviously they forgot their chequebook. Like everything else they have done with Nova Scotia, they forgot their chequebook. I would ask the minister, when he says soon, he had a meeting with the group this morning, what did he tell that group, how soon can they stop paying into two plans and only collect out of one?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, some of those seniors will obviously continue to pay into both plans. That is their right, they can do that. That is an option. I wish that we could have heard earlier, but we have no way to put other pressure on the government other than to speak with the minister and the deputy and those people and I believe they are reasonable and fair and they will do what is right. I am expecting . . .

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

COMMUN. SERV. - OLDER PERSONS (INTERNAT. YEAR):

ANNOUNCEMENT - DELAY

MR. JERRY PYE: Mr. Speaker, once again my question is to the Minister of Community Services. Back in the fall of 1997 the United Nations declared 1999 to be the International Year of Older Persons, but this minister didn't bother to announce the funding for the Year of Older Persons until last week, far too late for seniors' groups to make plans. My question is, why did the minister wait until halfway through the Year of Older Persons before making funding available to those seniors?

[Page 5955]

HON. FRANCENE COSMAN: Mr. Speaker, I was really pleased to be able to reassure the Senior Citizens Secretariat and its members that funding in the magnitude of $0.25 million was being made available for the activities that are planned for this year. There was never any question that they weren't going to be funded for their activities and they have been more than happy to receive that.

[4:45 p.m.]

MR. PYE: Mr. Speaker, the minister's project for the International Year of Older Persons should be to get the secretariat back on track. Is this government's chronic neglect of the secretariat and the seniors just another attempt to silence the critics?

MRS. COSMAN: Mr. Speaker, I think it is important to make sure that this House and the people of Nova Scotia have to understand that there is a very strong, a very viable, and a very functioning Senior Citizens Secretariat in this province. It is funded, it has never had a budget cut, it is working well. The programs and the literature it puts out are all doing an excellent job.

MR. PYE: Mr. Speaker, it is amazing that the seniors it serves don't know that. The seniors' groups have no idea even if the minister would have provided funding. How does the minister explain her consistent failure to communicate with the seniors in this province?

MRS. COSMAN: Mr. Speaker, I fear sometimes that the honourable member opposite is going to have a very long nose. Anyway, we continue to communicate with seniors, we have answered their briefs that they have presented to us in writing, we have given a strong commitment to work with them, which we have done and will continue to do. I am sure that the honourable member opposite must have moments when he knows he is really exaggerating far from the truth.

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

TRANSPORT. & PUB. WKS.: HWY. PROJECTS - DELAY

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I would like to direct my question to the honourable Minister of Transportation and Public Works. In a May 7th missive - and I will table this letter - the President of Aberdeen Paving in Bedford contends that because there are no highway projects to bid on he is not going to be able to hire 60 of his employees from Shelburne, Clare, Argyle and Yarmouth. I am going to ask the Minister of Transportation, what is he going to do about it?

[Page 5956]

HON. CLIFFORD HUSKILSON: Mr. Speaker, I also had a meeting with this gentleman and I want to assure the honourable member that once my budget is finalized, then we will be able to find out what contracts are going to be available across Nova Scotia and we will certainly proceed in that manner.

MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, the construction season is upon us now. The May 7th letter further states that Mr. Ross, President of the long-time employeeing company, Aberdeen Paving, believes that some of the roads like Deep Hollow Road in Kings South will have to be plowed under and reverted back to gravel. Is that what this government plans to do with our paved roads, plow them under?

MR. HUSKILSON: Mr. Speaker, I want to assure the honourable member I have engineers that work in our department and they will make the determination of what roads will be paved and what will be done.

MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, there is no question that roads in Nova Scotia, roads in Hants West, roads in every riding are in deplorable shape. My question to the minister is, when is he going to start calling some tenders to put Nova Scotians to work and stop compromising the safety of motorists who are travelling on our highways?

MR. HUSKILSON: Mr. Speaker, there will be tenders called and they will be called very shortly once we have determined exactly what the budget will be.

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

HEALTH: SOUTH SHORE REG. HOSP. (BRIDGEWATER) -

PAEDIATRIC CARE

DR. HINRICH BITTER-SUERMANN: Mr. Speaker, through you my question is to the Minister of Health. The Western Regional Health Board is supposed to serve the South Shore. That board has failed to renew the contract for Dr. Ardila, the only paediatrician on staff at the South Shore Regional Hospital in Bridgewater, despite a petition by all 36 hospital medical staff members on April 30, 1999, which I would like to table.

My question, through you, to the minister is, how much longer will the minister wait to reassure the people on the South Shore regarding the maintenance or retainment of paediatric care in their hospital?

HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, this issue, relative to specialist services in that particular institution, came to the floor here yesterday and, again, with misinformation. The western region, as the honourable member mentioned, is responsible. They are working with physicians in that area in speciality. We have a program in place of alternate funding, offering salaries, and other benefits can be negotiated with the western region. This is a program we

[Page 5957]

have throughout the province. It is working. It is ongoing and we will stay out of it, unless there are quality of care issues.

DR. BITTER-SUERMANN: Mr. Speaker, it is absolutely amazing. There are 36 doctors that petitioned the health board and have not got an answer yet. Without the paediatrician, neonatal care and obstetric care in Bridgewater will collapse.

Will the minister explain to the people on the South Shore why they should no longer have the same level of care that we have in metro?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, comparing the quality of care from one area to another, one is a regional hospital and one is a tertiary care. The honourable member, as a physician, would know that there are differences expected of those particular institutions. We have an alternate funding mechanism that is working well in this province and medical oncologists are coming into this province and so are paediatricians. We have paediatricians coming into those regional hospitals this year.

DR. BITTER-SUERMANN: It is just impossible to explain. Here we have a paediatrician that wants to stay and he is not allowed to stay. This minister is abdicating his responsibilities as health care supremo.

In order to keep Dr. Ardila, will the board have to go or the minister have to go, or what?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, the contract will be between that institution, the regional board and the physician. It is my information that negotiations are taking place, or talks are going on, and I don't foresee a withdrawal of services in that area.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings North.

AGRIC. - LIVESTOCK HEALTH SERV.: FUNDING - CUTS

MR. GEORGE ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, through you to the Minister of Agriculture. I would like to ask the Minister of Agriculture about the program regarding the livestock health services that operated throughout Nova Scotia to see that veterinary service was affordable around Nova Scotia to all farmers. Could the minister indicate why his government has decided to cut the funding so drastically that the program is now almost useless?

HON. EDWARD LORRAINE: I am sure that member realizes that the program was cut two years ago. It was brought back to $5.00 to $13, from which it had been cut. It was brought back for the last two quarters of last fiscal year. I said to the Livestock Health Services Board, or the Veterinarian's Association, at a meeting that when they asked if we

[Page 5958]

would make that continue on, I said we will review it next spring and that is exactly what we are doing when we get a budget passed.

MR. ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, again, to the Minister of Agriculture. Since 1993, the Agriculture budget has been cut from $47 million down to $30 million. If the trend continues, there will be no budget for agriculture at all to help the farmers in Nova Scotia.

MR. SPEAKER: Your question, please.

MR. ARCHIBALD: The question is right here. Veterinarians are telling me that it is no longer becoming profitable, nor is it no longer becoming economically viable for them to continue to practice large animal medicine in rural Nova Scotia. What is the minister going to do to make sure that we have veterinarian service for our farmers?

MR. LORRAINE: Mr. Speaker, I was involved in setting up this arrangement, 25 or possibly 30 years ago, as Chairman of the Central and West Colchester Livestock Health Services Board. The veterinarians told me that same story at that time. I am telling you, when we get our budget approved in this House, we will meet with the veterinarians and we will use the vets properly in the agriculture industry.

MR. ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, the Federation of Agriculture yesterday said that they would support his aid program, only because he agreed to put some provincial money in it. Will the minister indicate that he is going to put provincial money into his budget this year so that he can show his support for the farmers in this province?

MR. LORRAINE: Well, Mr. Speaker, I am sure the Minister of Finance is not going to want me to disclose what is in the budget. We certainly will protect the agriculture industry in this province, and the vets as well.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth South.

ENVIRON. - SYDNEY TAR PONDS:

POLLUTANTS (FREDERICK ST.) - PUBLIC MEETING HOLD

MR. DONALD CHARD: Mr. Speaker, more than a year after toxic yellow ooze appeared in backyards on Frederick Street in Sydney, adjacent to the coke ovens site, residents are still waiting to see the government's plan to deal with their problems. My question for the Minister of the Environment is, why hasn't your department organized a public meeting to inform the residents of your government's plan?

HON. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, the member is correct, we have not organized a public meeting. Rather, we went door-to-door and talked to the residents, one-on-one. We could have waited, as a department, and said we need to do further testing, we

[Page 5959]

need to establish a plan of how we are going to go forward. We could have made the residents stay in their homes and still have that level of fear.

Rather than do that, this government made a decision last Thursday that out of compassion for the residents, we would act immediately and offer them relocation rather than wait to have all the answers to those questions.

MR. CHARD: Mr. Speaker, last night residents of the community who obviously are not satisfied with door-to-door surveys, held an emergency meeting to voice their concerns. Representatives from the Department of the Environment said they could not attend because it was on too short notice.

My question for the minister is, why, after over a year of the community being held in limbo, is your department still not organizing a public meeting to let the residents know what your plan is?

MR. SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, as I indicated yesterday, it is important and we have a duty as elected members in this House, not just ourselves but the media, to make sure that the accurate information is getting out to the residents, not play on their fears and continually talk about tests which are not accurate and give inaccurate details of what the results were.

Mr. Speaker, we are going to continue to work with the residents as to what specific plans we are going to put in place. They are in touch with us and we are going to continue the discussions.

MR. CHARD: Mr. Speaker, these residents, after over a year of false reassurances and not knowing what is going on, are understandably getting panicky. Will the minister make a commitment in this House today to full public disclosure of his department's plan for the Frederick Street neighbourhood?

MR. SAMSON: As I indicated, Mr. Speaker, last Thursday we made an important decision. We took immediate action to try to alleviate the concerns of the residents of Frederick Street and it was done completely out of compassion. We are going to keep them in touch as to the plans we are making and, rather than make them wait, we took that action. This government took action based on compassion, rather than the Leader of the NDP, who would rather go down there, get his picture on TV and play on these people's fears and mock the situation they are in.

[Page 5960]

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

TRANSPORT. & PUB. WKS.: CROSSWALKS - SAFETY

MR. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is to the honourable Minister of Transportation. On April 8th in this House the minister stood in this House and asked the Road Safety Advisory Committee to conduct a review of existing crosswalk policies. This review was mainly a reaction to that unfortunate accident on Robie Street here in Halifax.

My question to the minister, will the Road Safety Advisory Committee review the Department of Transportation's warrant system in its review of crosswalk policy? Warrant system as is described in a May 10th letter from David VanSlyke to the honourable member for Preston.

HON. CLIFFORD HUSKILSON: Mr. Speaker, to the member, we are very concerned about crosswalk safety in the Province of Nova Scotia. We initiated a team effort between the Minister of Business and Consumer Services, the Minister of Justice and my department to look into crosswalk safety, and we will continue to do that because we want to have the crosswalks safe in the Province of Nova Scotia.

[5:00 p.m.]

MR. ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, if this government is so committed to road safety, will the minister explain why his department requires - and that letter has just been tabled - documented evidence of, in some cases, fatal accidents before addressing road safety concerns? Documented evidence is needed.

MR. HUSKILSON: Mr. Speaker, to the honourable member. When we are conducting studies and we are conducting safety reports for crosswalks, we need all the available information. We look at all the information that is available, whether it would be accidents that did occur at those individual crosswalks, and all this information is vital, important to the final decision and what's made.

MR. ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, my question again is through you to the minister. Mr. Minister, how many people have to be injured or killed before these reactive policies, not proactive policies, with regard to crosswalks are studied and reviewed?

MR. HUSKILSON: Mr. Speaker, to the honourable member. I want to assure him that the committee is very active and they continue to review this. As far as we are concerned, one accident is too many in the Province of Nova Scotia.

[Page 5961]

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

LBR. - ELECTRICAL CONTRACTORS: LICENSING - REGS.

MR. GORDON BALSER: Mr. Speaker, through you to the Minister of Labour. Your department has indicated that it will be bringing forth new regulations regarding electrical contractor licensing. What is the current status of these regulatory changes?

HON. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, I thank the honourable member for bringing that to the attention of all members of the House. It is something that is being actively dealt with. As the honourable member is aware, there has been a report prepared that is being circulated and reviewed by all stakeholders and, subsequent to that, the staff is in the process of articulating those regulations - low-voltage regulations I presume is what he is referring to - to be able to bring before Cabinet in the near future.

MR. BALSER: Mr. Speaker, on May 3, 1999, the Construction Safety Association of Nova Scotia held a meeting to inform electrical contractors of these changes. There were over 100 electrical contractors present, most of whom were not aware of any changes that were coming, nor did they indicate they had been consulted. I would ask the minister, what process did your department use to ensure that those affected would know what was happening?

MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, as I indicated to the honourable member on a previous date, the consultation process that did take place, as well as those individual contractors who raised concerns with him - eventually to myself - I contacted those individuals and expressed to them that no such decision would be final until each and every one of them were afforded proper process. Even though there was an extensive consultation process that was put forth, unfortunately some fell through the loop. We made sure and we did follow through on that commitment.

MR. BALSER: Mr. Speaker, I would like to table a letter from the Construction Association of Nova Scotia dated May 4th. On May 4th the Construction Association forwarded a letter to your department raising a number of concerns regarding these new regulations and the implementation process. Will the minister agree to delay proceedings with these changes so a comprehensive plan including licensing, permits, inspections and trade regulations can be implemented, a plan which truly includes full industry participation and support?

MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, as I have indicated, there has been extensive consultation including, and there is ample evidence within the department to support the fact that the construction association has been involved in that despite the fact that certain elements within that organization and a few other lobby groups have persisted in advancing their own cause. I respect that but, unfortunately, that is not the will of the government.

[Page 5962]

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

TRANSPORT. & PUB. WKS. - CROSSWALKS: SAFETY - REVIEW

MR. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, my question again is for the Minister of Transportation. Mr. Minister, it has been six weeks since in this House you announced this Road Safety Advisory Committee would review these crosswalks that are so dangerous throughout metro and throughout the province. What is the current status of this review?

HON. CLIFFORD HUSKILSON: Mr. Speaker, to the honourable member, the current status of this review is the committee is still proceeding with this, gathering information, and they will be reporting back in a timely fashion.

MR. ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, many of these crosswalks are in close proximity to public schools. In my constituency alone there are six dangerous crosswalks. The involvement of school boards, school principals and parents' organizations is critical to the review of this.

MR. SPEAKER: Your question, please.

MR. ESTABROOKS: Mr. Minister, how many school principals, how many school boards, how many parents' organizations have you and your committee invited to this review?

MR. HUSKILSON: Mr. Speaker, to the member, I would like to just remind him of the public meeting that I attended in his area and at one of the schools that he is talking about. At that meeting it was brought up about the crosswalks and about safety. We recorded all that information and all that information is on file and I just want to remind the honourable member of that.

MR. ESTABROOKS: And there are five other dangerous crosswalks that you do not know about. Six weeks, Mr. Speaker, this crosswalk committee has yet to finalize a meeting schedule. It has yet to announce a public meeting.

MR. SPEAKER: Your question, please.

MR. ESTABROOKS: Will the minister tell this House when the committee will hold these public meetings; where, and, more importantly, who is being invited to these presentations?

MR. HUSKILSON: Mr. Speaker, to the honourable member, this is an open process and what I would like to do, if the honourable member has more information that he wants to share with me and with the committee, I invite him to do that and I would welcome that.

[Page 5963]

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

SCS: MEET - REGULARLY

DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Premier. Areas of concern to Nova Scotia's seniors cover a wide range of issues and, therefore, fall under the interest range of a number of Cabinet Ministers. Over the years, the Senior Citizens Secretariat has been an excellent way to address seniors' concerns. My question to the Premier is, is the Premier prepared to commit that he will have his appropriate Cabinet Ministers meet on a regular basis as members of the secretariat and respond to the concerns of seniors?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I want to assure the Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party that we have nothing but the greatest intention to act upon the concerns of seniors. We are doing that to the best of my knowledge, but I will ask the Minister of Community Services to reply further.

HON. FRANCENE COSMAN: Mr. Speaker, I want to assure the honourable Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party that the Senior Citizens Secretariat already is meeting on a regular basis. It is responding. We have been responding in writing to the concerns raised and they have covered a whole range of issues, as the honourable Leader has already mentioned. We have had input on HST issues, home care, health issues, Pharmacare, housing, a whole range of consultations and briefs that we have responded to.

DR. HAMM: I will continue with the Minister of Community Services because really those who are involved in the secretariat have an entirely different interpretation as to what is happening at the secretariat level. On May 12th this minister made a commitment that she is going to strengthen and empower the secretariat. My question to the minister specifically, what did the minister mean by strengthening and empowering the secretariat and what is the time line she is prepared to follow to do exactly that?

MRS. COSMAN: Mr. Speaker, clearly concerns have been raised about the level of staffing within the secretariat. In the past there has been a part-time position. I want to look at whether that position should move to full-time. There have been issues raised around increasing the budget although it has never been reduced despite some very difficult challenges over the years. There are a number of issues that we are identifying. I want to take this process to the secretariat. I want to take it beyond, to other seniors and consult with them on these issues so that we do have a strengthened secretariat for the future.

DR. HAMM: Mr. Speaker, to flesh out the minister's response, the secretariat used to have seven full-time employees and four part-time. It has now been reduced to three full-time employees. My question to the minister is, is this minister prepared to commit today that she will appoint a full-time director to the secretariat reporting directly to the minister?

[Page 5964]

MRS. COSMAN: Mr. Speaker, I think the honourable Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party realizes the kind of difficulty he is posing here because that is the kind of direction I want to seek in a consultation. We have not had a full-time director. We have had a part-time director and clearly this whole staffing issue, so that we can better meet their needs, has to be addressed in any consultation.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Preston.

TRANSPORT. & PUB. WKS.: EAST PRESTON DAY CARE CENTRE -

PASSING ZONE-REMOVE/SPEED LIMIT-REDUCE

MS. YVONNE ATWELL: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Transportation and Public Works. The East Preston Ratepayers Association wrote the minister asking that a passing zone in front of the East Preston Day Care Centre be removed and the speed limit near the Day Care Centre be reduced from 70 kilometres to 50 kilometres. Both requests were denied. My question to the minister is, why is it your department's policy to do nothing until someone dies? (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

HON. CLIFFORD HUSKILSON: Mr. Speaker, to the member, my department has several engineers on it and there are several officials that go out and look at different areas when we receive complaints such as this. I know that they did, they do traffic counts and they go out and look in the areas to see where the problems are. When problems are detected then we will work on those problems. I will give the honourable member the commitment that I will certainly look into this also.

MS. ATWELL: Mr. Speaker, it is only through the grace of God and diligence on behalf of the East Preston Day Care Centre, that a tragedy has not happened. My question to the minister is, day care staff and parents have told you this is an accident waiting to happen. Why aren't you listening?

MR. HUSKILSON: Mr. Speaker, to the honourable member, I want to assure her, her constituents and the people of Preston, yes, I am listening. I will take this under advisement and I will look into this right away.

MS. ATWELL: Mr. Speaker, I certainly hope the minister will do that. I believe that common sense should tell the minister that a passing zone on a 70 kilometre per hour stretch of highway directly in front of a day care is wrong. Will the minister ensure that this decision of the district traffic authority is reviewed?

MR. HUSKILSON: Mr. Speaker, yes.

[Page 5965]

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

COMMUN. SERV. - WOMEN'S CTRS.: FUNDING - INCREASE

MR. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Premier. On March 24, 1998 and then again as recently as April 27, 1999, you met with representatives of women's centres and assured them of your commitment to address the problems of inadequate funding for their centres. Would you please explain then why women's centres continue to be underfunded, in light of your commitment?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I did meet on those occasions with the women's centres and as the honourable member has said, I did express to them my feeling that there should be greater support by the government for women's centres. I hope that that answer will be forthcoming in the budget.

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, to the Minister of Community Services. I understand there is a long-term planning process in place looking at that issue of funding for women's centres and I am encouraged by that. However, the long-term planning, as I understand it, is going to be very long-term and is not addressing the serious lack of funding experienced by these centres.

MR. SPEAKER: Your question, please.

MR. MUIR: Will the minister please provide specific examples of what she is doing to address the immediate short-term needs or the immediate needs of these women's centres?

HON. FRANCENE COSMAN: Mr. Speaker, I just want to remind the honourable member opposite that we did increase the budget this past year to the lower funded women's centres in this province to achieve some equity in the funding base for all of them at the same time. At that time they asked for a 333 per cent increase in their budgets, which we were not able to meet. We have put in place an operational plan with the centres and are working cooperatively with them for solutions and further trying to pre-judge what next year's funding levels will be, which I can't commit today. Obviously, we are concerned about their requirements and the role that they play which is so important in the communities.

[5:15 p.m.]

MR. MUIR: Again, to the Minister of Community Services. As she is probably aware, the Antigonish Women's Resource Centre is in danger of having to close its doors on August 1st. This is going to be a serious blow for numerous clients who depend on their services, many of whom are referred to that centre by other government agencies. What are your plans to prevent that centre from closing?

[Page 5966]

MRS. COSMAN: Mr. Speaker, clearly, we have also been in support of the Antigonish Women's Centre. We have also written to our federal counterparts in support of the program funding that they provide. We have been seeking assurances on that and we are working with the women's centres because we value their work so highly. We intend to give them as much support as we possibly can to keep them operational and doing the important job that they do.

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

NAT. RES. - NAT. GAS: BENEFITS (N.S.) - MAXIMIZE

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I would like to direct a question, through you, sir, to the Minister responsible for the Petroleum Directorate. Of course, the minister will know that the licences to companies that wish to explore for our oil and gas resources are awarded on the basis of who says that they will spend the most amount of money during the five year exploration period.

My question to the minister is, is it the government's position that Nova Scotia businesses and Nova Scotia workers should gain the maximum amount of benefits from all phases of our oil and gas development, including exploration?

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: I would like to thank the honourable member opposite for the question. It is a good question and one that I think deserves a good answer. The answer that I would give to the honourable member is that as far as we are concerned, the amount of money that is being spent on exploration in this province should go to the maximum benefit of people who live and work in Nova Scotia.

MR. HOLM: Mr. Speaker, following up on that, I want to ask this minister a question that, hopefully, will help them do that. I would like to ask the minister why it is when governments are granting these licences, they don't demand that companies compete for those licences on the basis of their commitments to use Nova Scotia workers and Nova Scotia businesses? Why don't we ask them to compete on that basis?

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, there are only certain players that can compete in this particular business and the honourable member knows who they are. They are people like Mobil and Shell, Esso, PanCanadian, Murphy, Hunt, those people. When they come into an area for exploration, they buy goods and services in this particular area. They use people, whenever they can, from this particular area. That is the only answer that I can give. They use as much and they maximize as much of the local work pool and buy goods and services whenever possible.

[Page 5967]

MR. HOLM: Mr. Speaker, the minister should also know that we are not getting nearly the number of benefits that we should be. The minister also knows that we have the ability, if we use it right, to develop a sustainable industry here.

My question is, to the minister, will you amend the tendering process to require those companies that want to explore for our gas and our oil to compete on the basis of who will maximize benefits for Nova Scotians?

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: The truth of the matter is, Mr. Speaker, there are over 2,000 Nova Scotians working in the natural gas industry presently and we haven't even started to develop the industry. We know and we are confident that people who are going to explore off Nova Scotia's shores are going to purchase goods and services in Nova Scotia and use Nova Scotia labour. That is what we want. That is what will be impressed upon them and that is what they are going to do.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Lunenburg.

HEALTH - LONG-TERM/ACUTE CARE: COSTS - DIFFERENCE

MR. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Health. Yesterday, the minister indicated in the House that he was in no particular hurry to open the 170 long-term care beds that were promised during the last election campaign.

My question to the minister is a very simple question. Can he tell Nova Scotians what the average difference is between the cost of keeping a patient in an acute care facility, such as a hospital, and a long-term care facility, such as a nursing home?

HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I don't recall that I said I was in no hurry. I think that, in all fairness, the member is misquoting. What we are doing is evaluating proposals, we are looking at areas of highest need, and we are phasing in the beds. We made the commitment for 170 beds and certainly, we will. As far as the costs, the most appropriate cost is for the patient, the client, or the resident to receive the appropriate care, at the appropriate time, in an appropriate facility. Anything else, there is a difference that is not cost-effective in human or financial terms.

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, what the minister just said with all of the mumbo-jumbo is that it was a waste of money to keep people in a facility that wasn't appropriate. We have people in this province who are being kept in acute-care facilities when they really need long-term care facilities. In fact, the cost of keeping people in long-term care facilities is one-tenth of what it is in acute care. My question to the minister, when will he open the beds that will allow the people of Nova Scotia to get the savings that could be recognized?

[Page 5968]

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, again he misquotes and I don't know if that is the adversarial system of the courts and I hope that we will be able to share information, particularly when it comes to health care that people are really concerned about. We are working, we have a plan. It will be phased in and there is no question that long-term care is an alternative to acute care and acute care is under stress, but home care is also an option, there are Small Options for seniors, perhaps there are a lot of options and we are looking at them and the continuum of care is the issue.

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, first of all I am not trying to be the adversary of the minister. What I am trying to do is to advocate for Nova Scotians so that we can improve the quality of health care. My question to the minister is very simple. Does he not recognize that it is oftentimes much more efficient and cost-effective to keep people in the long-term care beds that his government announced, rather than to keep them in acute-care beds that are now filled?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, there is no question the appropriate care varies from time to time as to where the patient, the client, or resident should be but you can't do everything overnight. Last year we committed $22 million to long-term care and we have moved through various contracts. We have made a huge commitment, over $80 million in the next couple of years, to the long-term care sector. We are doing it, we have made that commitment. The Premier has made the commitment, we are working on it, we have a plan and it will work.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Yarmouth.

FISH. - LOBSTER: YARMOUTH - ILLEGAL FISHING

MR. JOHN DEVEAU: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is for the Minister of Fisheries. The lobster fishery in southwestern Nova Scotia comes to an end on May 31st and, I assure you, then the illegal lobster fishing will start up once again. My question to the Minister of Fisheries, what plan of action does the minister have to stop this out-of-control activity?

HON. KEITH COLWELL: Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the honourable member for the question; it is a very important question. As he is well aware, we have a task force put together between the provincial Department of Fisheries, the federal Department of Fisheries, the Department of Justice, provincially and federally, the RCMP and Revenue Canada. They have already laid some 23 charges and are in the process of laying more. As time goes on, we will see the benefits of this task force, which is the first of its kind in the country.

MR. JOHN DEVEAU: Mr. Speaker, last year thousands of pounds of illegally caught lobster were being landed daily. Some estimates were as high as 22,000 pounds a week, yet there were only a few prosecutions of buyers and sellers. My question to the minister, your

[Page 5969]

government has the resources and people, why don't you use them beyond touching just the tip of the iceberg?

MR. COLWELL: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member seems to have some pretty detailed information which my task force could definitely use. If he would be kind enough to provide it, we can lay more charges.

MR. JOHN DEVEAU: Mr. Speaker, if he would do his job he would have that information. The lobster fishery is the most valuable one Nova Scotia has. My question to the minister. Why are you and your department willing to sit on your hands and do nothing about ensuring that this fishery remains healthy?

MR. COLWELL: Mr. Speaker, I object to that comment, we are not sitting on our hands. We are more proactive than any government in this country in correcting this problem. It is a major problem, we have identified it and have set up a task force as has never been done before in this country, never mind in the Province of Nova Scotia, and we are getting results.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants East.

AGRIC. - DROUGHT: RELIEF - OUTCOME

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, my question through you will be to the Minister of Agriculture. Yesterday the minister stated the federal Disaster Relief Program that his department rejected in February amounted to $1.3 million, with $3.2 million of the present program going into credit for programs already accessed by farmers, that leaves $1.3 million.

My question to the minister is, how is this $1.3 million any different from the $1.3 million you rejected in February?

HON. EDWARD LORRAINE: It seems to me, Mr. Speaker, that this member just doesn't understand any explanation whatsoever. If we had accepted the deal in February, we would have had $1.3 million federal funding out of that offer that was made to us. We now are receiving $4.5 million. Now if he can't understand that, I can't put it in any better order.

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Well, it is obvious that I must be the only one who did not understand because only days ago the minister's deputy said they had oversold the agreement; the minister says they didn't. Why is there a difference?

MR. LORRAINE: Mr. Speaker, I am telling you that the deputy didn't make that statement. That statement was printed but it was not made by Alan Steel, my deputy minister.

[Page 5970]

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, my question would be to the Premier. The Saskatchewan Government is calling for a better deal for Canadian farmers. I want to know if the Premier will endorse and support the Saskatchewan Government's position?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I would say the Saskatchewan Government is following the lead of Nova Scotia.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Cumberland North.

EDUC. - SCHOOLS: TEACHERS - SUFFICIENT ENSURE

MR. ERNEST FAGE: Mr. Speaker, I rise today on a very serious issue of equity in education across the province. Through you I would like to address a question to the honourable Minister of Education.

The minister is aware that the budget process for the school boards is now taking place. School after school throughout Nova Scotia, primarily in the rural regions, are encountering a situation where they are faced with less teachers. The situation is to the point where courses cannot be offered. What will the minister do to alleviate that situation in this next budgetary year so that there are enough teachers to offer courses?

HON. WAYNE GAUDET: I want to thank the honourable member for raising that very serious question on the floor of the House. I certainly concur with the honourable member's comments. Throughout Nova Scotia small rural schools are faced with difficulties in order to provide programs where there is a decline in enrolment.

Currently the Funding Review Board - where there are representatives from all school boards across the province - is presently considering to make recommendations to our department that there should be special consideration given in order to meet these programs in small schools.

MR. FAGE: Mr. Speaker, to the minister again. The minister is well aware that the southwestern board is considering cutting 40 positions; Chignecto is looking at 30 positions; Cape Breton is down 600 in enrolment. Will the minister assure this House and the people - the teachers, the parents and the instructors in Nova Scotia - that those shortfalls will be covered by this government in this budgetary year, so that we will not see an erosion in education . . .

MR. GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, I can assure that member and all members of this House that one of our government's priorities has been education. Again, in the upcoming budget, members of this House and all Nova Scotians will see that education again remains one of the top priorities of our government. (Applause)

[Page 5971]

[5:30 p.m.]

MR. FAGE: I thank the members of the Opposition for their applause. The minister has taken great lengths, and his predecessor, to announce many schools, few have been built. Schools need to be built where they are required in Nova Scotia.

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

MR. FAGE: But operational budgets are where education occurs in this province. Will that assurance go out to those teachers and parents again that they will not have to face cuts in teachers across this province in this year?

MR. GAUDET: Again for the honourable member, as I have indicated earlier, one of the top priorities of our government is certainly education along with health care. I can assure the honourable member that with the upcoming budget that will be tabled, I suspect, shortly down the road that he will again see that the education budget will certainly show that priority once again.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Yarmouth.

SPORTS: YARMOUTH MULTI-PURPOSE SPORTSPLEX - FUNDING

MR. JOHN DEVEAU: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is for the Premier. The federal government recently decided that there would be no federal funding for the Yarmouth multipurpose sportsplex. This sportsplex has been promised by politicians for 20 years and is critical to the economic resurgence of Yarmouth. I want to ask the Premier what discussions his government has had with Ottawa to clear up this funding problem so that we can get this sportsplex built for Yarmouth?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, we have had many discussions with Ottawa on this question and I want the honourable member to know that we are very supportive of the Skate Yarmouth project.

MR. JOHN DEVEAU: Mr. Speaker, I am sure this Premier would agree, enough is enough. This long-promised project must proceed for the people of Yarmouth. What steps will this Premier take to ensure funding is put in place and construction of this sportsplex can begin immediately?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, it is an important project. I visited the present rink, it is in deplorable shape. The community badly needs a new facility. I recognize that and I am quite supportive of the community and what they are doing.

[Page 5972]

MR. JOHN DEVEAU: Mr. Speaker, if this Premier cannot convince Ottawa of the importance of this sportsplex will he commit to finding further sources of provincial funding so this project can finally get underway?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I am very hopeful that we will have something to report back before too long.

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

HEALTH - COL. REG. HOSP.: SERVICES - INACCESSIBILITY

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I would like to direct my question to the honourable Minister of Health. A number of health services at the Colchester Regional Hospital are clearly inaccessible. We are talking about haemodialysis treatment (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I cannot hear the questions. If you want to chat, leave the Chamber.

MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, a number of health services are clearly inaccessible at the Colchester Regional Hospital. I am speaking of haemodialysis treatment; bone scanning is not available. I am wondering when this Liberal Government is going to do something about it.

HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I think this question demonstrates the balancing act of health. Yesterday we heard his seatmate on that side of the House complaining that services were moving from one hospital into Truro where a centre of excellence will be developed for the treatment of breast cancer. There are services available, they are being rationalized throughout the region. There are some services, he mentioned the bone scan, the densitometry, there is a mobile unit that will be in that particular area.

MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, people from Colchester County and further away from Halifax are required three times a week, many of them seniors, many of them disabled, to travel to Halifax, get up at 5:30 a.m. and travel to Halifax to receive haemodialysis treatment. When is this government going to do something about that?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, we have been actively working on that. There have been small community hospitals such as Liverpool, in Queens County that there have been programs in place. We are working with groups throughout the province. We have made headway. The demand is major. We are now having, in renal dialysis, people in their 80's and 90's that would not have been done a few years ago. But we are trying to meet those needs. We have a plan. It is phasing in and it is working.

[Page 5973]

MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, the Colchester Regional Hospital Auxiliary offered to purchase a densitometer so people with osteoporosis could be diagnosed and people with osteoarthritis. The regional health board turned down that offer.

When is this Liberal Government going to give the people in Colchester County a fair break and put those health services in the Colchester Regional Hospital?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, again, I think the honourable member makes a great case for regionalization of services. There you have a situation where one hospital and one hospital board, in the old days, would go ahead and do something and, yet, not be part of a coordinated service. There is a plan to address that particular need in that particular area, but it has to be coordinated with the regions and that is the way you deliver services to a region.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.

FIN. - BUDGET (1999-2000) - CONSULTATIONS

MR. HOWARD EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Finance. We understand that at long last, he is about to present his budget for this year. Budgets are very important. They are important to a lot of people. They are important to the Nurses' Union, to the Federation of Labour. They are important to day care centres. They are important to the Food Bank Society. It is important to people who run shelters for the homeless and the battered. I would like the minister to tell us which, if any, of these groups he has met with to ask them what they think should be in his budget? (Applause)

HON. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite is absolutely right, budgets affect all Nova Scotians. That is why we spent a lot of time preparing our budget process and involvement. In fact, what we have been doing is dealing with Community Services, for example, who in turn meets with these communities on a day-to-day, regular basis. That input is very much appreciated in the Department of Finance. We will involve the inputs from that ministry and those concerned individuals through that process.

MR. EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, the minister is, obviously, not interested in meeting with representatives of the disadvantaged to consult. But one promise that he did make last year with respect to consultation (Interruption)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

[Page 5974]

MR. EPSTEIN: One promise that his department did make last year with respect to consultation was that the department was considering changing the format of the way the Public Accounts are presented and that officials of his department would meet with the Public Accounts Committee. Can the minister explain why officials of his department have not met with the Public Accounts Committee to discuss this issue?

MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, we indicated and tabled before the House, the White Paper, a blueprint on the whole issue of consolidation of debt. I believe that is what the member is really referring to. That document is there. That will be open for public debate and discussion as time goes on, in consultation with the Auditor General.

MR. EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, the controller of the Department of Finance, who has since left, said that he was going to come meet with the Public Accounts Committee, but he hasn't. Will the minister undertake that there will be no changes made in the method in which the books of the province are presented until there has been formal consultation with the Public Accounts Committee?

MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, we are going to run the affairs of the Department of Finance in a proper way. We have moved ahead. We are not Mr. Clark in British Columbia and falsify numbers to the people of British Columbia . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable minister will address his remarks to the Chair or take his seat.

The honourable member for Lunenburg.

HEALTH - LUN. CO.: DIALYSIS UNIT - PROVISION

MR. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Health. The South Shore Regional Hospital in Bridgewater used to have a dialysis unit which served the people of Lunenburg County and that area of Nova Scotia. That hospital lost that dialysis unit. There are a large number of residents in Lunenburg County that are on dialysis and have to travel a huge distance to get to dialysis. There is a proposal now coming from that area, generated by the community, to put a dialysis unit into Lunenburg County. My question for the minister is, does he support a dialysis unit in Lunenburg County.

HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, what we are doing is working with a provincial group and we are looking for the appropriate placement. That may well be an area. I will review it and be satisfied within myself that there is a proper distribution and if that is one of the areas that needs to be addressed, then working with the provincial body, it will come about.

[Page 5975]

MR. BAKER: My question is, first of all one has to wonder why it came out of the hospital in the first place. My question for the minister is, how long can the people who are on dialysis on the South Shore of Nova Scotia expect before the minister is going to be able to tell them whether or not they are going to be able to get the care they need in their community?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, it would be great to be able to do everything all at once and have everything in place today. We are phasing in these programs in that particular region; there are the services in the Queens General which is part of that particular catchment area. We are working with the groups for the best information and we will try to make the best service arrangements and delivery the quality service close to the community.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Lunenburg. You have 30 seconds remaining.

MR. BAKER: I will make it very brief, Mr. Speaker. My question is, will the minister commit to contact the hospital foundation of the South Shore, and in particular, the Fishermens Memorial Hospital and the South Shore Regional Hospital Foundation?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I will work with my senior officials in the Department of Health. I have met with one of those foundations personally and they have made representations to me on various areas, some of which we have been able to act on.

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you. The time allotted for Oral Question Period has expired. We have a couple of introductions.

HON. JAMES SMITH: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. In Question Period this afternoon, the honourable member for Chester-St. Margaret's quite forcibly brought forward a petition about a doctor, a paediatrician, leaving the South Shore Regional Hospital. I want to advise you and other members of the House that the doctor has reached an agreement with the western board and the Department of Health and he will be staying at that particular hospital. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: That is not a point of order, it is a point of information. Thank you.

DR. SMITH: When that issue was brought forward (Interruption) the issue had already been resolved (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable minister is out of order. I am going to recognize the honourable member for Preston for an introduction.

[Page 5976]

MS. YVONNE ATWELL: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I would like to bring the attention of the House to the west gallery. I would like to introduce four members from the Metro Coalition for a Non-Racist Society who delivered the books to us this afternoon. They are; Brian O'Neil, Jackie Bartley, Rona Jessome and Crystal Walters. Welcome. (Applause)

OPPOSITION MEMBERS' BUSINESS

MOTIONS OTHER THAN GOVERNMENT MOTIONS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Progressive Conservative House Leader.

MR. NEIL LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Resolution No. 2572.

Res. No. 2572, re Sysco - Plan: NDP - Policy Indicate - notice given Apr. 7/99 - (Dr. J. Hamm)

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

DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, it has been abundantly clear all afternoon that the members of the government and the members of the Opposition are not interested in spending a lot of time debating this particular resolution. Since 1900 the steel industry has been a significant part of the economy of Sydney. Unfortunately, for 40 years it has been an unprofitable industry. In 1967, the owners, Dosco at the time, backed out. At that time there were 6,000 people employed in the steel industry in industrial Cape Breton. Despite the expenditure of $2.8 billion of public funds, the industry shrank until today there are only some 700 workers who are dependent for their livelihood on the steel industry in Cape Breton.

The question we must ask ourselves is, has the investment in Sysco provided the results we want for Cape Breton? Has it provided acceptable employment levels in Cape Breton? Clearly the answer is no. Has it provided a future for young Cape Bretoners? Is it an industry that young Cape Bretoners want to build a future on in Cape Breton? The answer is clearly no. Is it an industry that provided steady employment for steelworkers? The answer is no. A commitment to Sysco is simply a commitment to the status quo and Cape Bretoners are telling me that the status quo is not acceptable.

[5:45 p.m.]

It is very interesting that the history of this document which is called the Business Plan 1999 of Sydney Steel Corporation. I asked for a copy of this on March 4th when I was briefed by Hoogovens and I was told I could have it, but then on March 16th the deputy minister said it is not available, it is not ready. In the middle of April, the Freedom of Information Officer was told that this document was not complete and yet we have the

[Page 5977]

information that this is the document that before March 16th Cabinet used to make a decision to provide $44 million to Sydney to keep the industry alive for another year.

Because the minister tabled this document yesterday in the House, I have had an opportunity to read it, and does it change anything, because what the document says and the evaluation of the document, the decision was obviously made by the minister because at that time there was no board of directors of Sysco. So who made the decision, Hoogovens, who have a very good contract managing Sysco, the nature of which we have not been able to determine because that minister won't provide the information despite the ruling by the freedom of information officer?

Sydney Steel Corporation Business Plan. Let's see what it says. Does it tell us, does it tell any impartial observer that there is a reasonable chance that that is the industry that will be the sustaining force over the next number of decades for Cape Breton, and the answer is clearly no. What does it talk about? It talks about a workforce, and they are going to spend $4 million this year in retraining that workforce and in subsequent years, more. But what it also says is 60 per cent of the hourly workers will be retired in 18 months, 90 per cent will be retired in four years. Are we going to spend millions and millions of dollars in training a workforce that are looking, in the very near future, to go out the door. It doesn't make any sense.

It talks about sales. Last year was a particularly good year in the world economy. What does Sysco have to do to break even? It has to sell $225 million worth of products and it has to generate sales for 405,000 tons of steel. Last year, a good year, how much steel did it produce? It was 179,000 tons and $90 million in sales.

Let's talk about what is projected this year, because even this document says the steel industry is in disarray due to the mid-Asian crisis and due to the collapse of the Russian economy. So we are in a weaker market, and they are predicting that they will only require $44 million and what we have to do is over double sales and that will mean that we will only need $44 million of the taxpayers' money to keep the industry alive. Clearly there is nothing in this document that gives any confidence that steel is the way to go in Cape Breton. The road that we have gone and the successive governments have gone, to provide strength for the Cape Breton economy, that road has not led anywhere.

It is time that we looked at another road, that we make other investments in the Cape Breton economy, that we do protect the steelworkers. Let's start the environmental remediation, let's promote information technology, 5,000 jobs in Nova Scotia between now and the year 2002. Wouldn't it be great if we got 1,000 jobs in Cape Breton. Let's make those kinds of investments. Let's talk about the knowledge-based industry in Cape Breton. Let's talk about investing in the Laurentian Sub-basin. Those are the kinds of things that the Economic Minister should be talking about, not more investment in Sysco, because Sysco won't work. (Applause)

[Page 5978]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Economic Development.

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, the Leader of the Third Party has dug a hole for himself bigger than the Grand Canyon when it comes to Sydney Steel and what I call the great double-cross of the working people of Cape Breton Island. The situation at Sydney Steel has changed. The Sydney steelworker is the least of the problem at Sydney Steel. It has been past government mistakes that Sydney Steel - some by his Party, some by our Party - kept politics to the forefront in the operation of Sydney Steel; pumping money into Sydney Steel over the years without any kind of an adequate plan for retraining or any kind of an adequate plan other than to go from one election to another election. That is exactly what was happening at Sydney Steel.

It is only in the past number of months that we have decided that if we are going to proceed in a go-forward position with Sydney Steel, we have to do it with a recognized world-class steel company at the head of that operation and to attract new investors and get out of the steel business. We realize that steelworkers do not want grants. They are a proud workforce and want to make steel. They are a happy workforce right now because they have a good management/labour relationship at Sydney Steel. As we speak, there are 650 steelworkers working in Sydney, producing steel in a clean steel plant. I think that is a very good start to the future of that particular operation in Sydney.

It has to be realized that the impact of Sydney Steel goes far beyond the Sysco gate. Goods and services to the tune of $44 million to $50 million last year were purchased all over Nova Scotia, a lot of it here in the Burnside Industrial Park. The Central and Cape Breton Railway depends on Sydney Steel, the railway that goes right through Pictou County. I can tell you that if Sysco was not operating, that railway wouldn't be operating. We have a viable railway operating from Sydney right through to Truro and that railway would be in great jeopardy if Sysco was not operating today. Those are the kinds of things that impact on the economy of Cape Breton and the economy of Nova Scotia as it affects Sysco.

Right now the order book is good, the marketing potential of that plant is good, despite the fact they have gone through a downturn that has never been seen before in world steel markets and we are still producing steel in Sydney. As a matter of fact, because of the new operational structure we have in place there, we have now recaptured Canadian National - as a rail supplier - Sydney Steel, and we will be producing rails for Canadian National and Canadian Pacific this year. I call that a good marketing strategy.

We don't want grants in Cape Breton, we want to make steel. The steelworker wants to make steel, he doesn't want to be employed in some remediation project that they might put together that would see consultants make millions of dollars like they did on the tar ponds under his predecessors in Cape Breton. What they want is work in the steel industry well into the future. I consider that a good investment in the future of Cape Breton.

[Page 5979]

I can tell you also that this community of industrial Cape Breton can't take another economic hit. Despite the grand plans of the Leader of the Third Party to let's do this and let's do that, let me tell you this, we have an industry that employs 650 people at good wages in industrial Cape Breton, and I am not about to jeopardize that by taking the advice of the Leader of the Third Party. The United Steel Workers of America, internationally and locally, agree with the business plan, they agree with the go-forward position of Hoogovens and they agree with ABN Amro going to the world market to attract new investors to that plant.

If they all agree and the steelworkers agree and the community agrees, why should anybody listen to the Leader of the Third Party? He is obviously doing this for nothing more than crass political reasons. He has done some polling and knows that his Party is gone forever on the Island of Cape Breton. If it wasn't before it certainly is now. I can tell you that because the people of Cape Breton will never forget that it was John Hamm who said that that steel plant should be closed. They will never forget that. Shades of his predecessor, Donnie Cameron, that other great lover of Cape Breton Island.

I can tell you that the Sydney steelworkers are proud people. They want to work and they are not the problem here. It is the attitude of people like John Hamm that is the problem here. Thank you, Mr. Speaker. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, let's be clear that Resolution No. 2572 deals in its entirety with what is the New Democratic Party's position with respect to Sysco. This wasn't an attempt by the Leader of the Third Party to bring forward a substantive debate on the issues facing the steel industry in Nova Scotia, but it was an attempt to attack us, and I will tell you why that is such a problem. It is a problem because we have supported this government's move back in July 1998. The Premier has the nerve to say that we are supporting this idea because we have received a donation from the steelworkers but what we are talking about is supporting this government's strategy, the first government that has stepped back from the political management of this steel plant. They have brought in a reputable international steelmaking firm and they have engaged along with the steelworkers, with the workers at Sysco, to come up with a strategy that will hopefully provide for a future for this industry. That is what we support and we do not have any ties with that. He should be ashamed of himself to suggest that we are motivated by something other than what is right in this instance.

What is the problem? The other problem about this resolution, and the Leader of the Third Party made it very clear when he took to his feet, he said that on March 4th he got the same presentation from Hoogovens and from the government that we did on the plan. They told him at that presentation that they did have a document. They showed it to him and they said they would get it to him at a future date. Then the government told him he could not

[Page 5980]

have it. Well, what did he do? Did he wait? Did he try to find the document? Did he try to get the details about what the plan actually was? No, he did not.

On the basis of incomplete information, he said I have done an analysis, I have talked with others who have done an analysis and I have decided that this plan will not work and that Sysco should be shut down. That is irresponsible. It is irresponsible in the extreme, I believe, to have done that, but let me say this, that this government and this minister responsible for Sysco has added to the problem, has added to the confusion, because he has not presented the information that we have asked for. He suggested that there was a plan. He put a plan on the table yesterday that was different, Mr. Speaker, a plan that was different than the one that was presented to us. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. CHISHOLM: It was different than the outline that was presented to us in March and it certainly was not the five year plan that Hoogovens has already prepared and said that they would make available to us and to the Third Party. If the minister responsible would make that information available, we said to Hoogovens, we said to the government, to the deputy minister responsible, that we would be happy to sign a confidentiality agreement to make sure that that information was not released.

We have been operating in good faith because we are convinced that this is the only possible hope to find a reasonable future for the steel industry, but this minister has got to stop playing games. This minister has got to come clean. He has got to present the information to this House, to members of the Opposition, and anyone else who is interested, on a confidential basis so that we know what is going on and then we can clearly support that plan or not support that plan. I ask this minister to be clear with this House, be clear with members of the Opposition, so that we can make a decision on the basis of fact, not on the basis of fiction. Thank you very much.

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

MR. GORDON BALSER: In the last 30 years the issue of the viability and future of Sysco has been discussed and debated by governments, by six different Premiers, and always the result has been the same - more money and no change. What makes the Hoogovens "now we have it now we do not, existent/non-existent" business plan, the right answer this time? The answer is nothing, nothing at all. There is nothing in that document to convince anyone who has looked at it that things will change. We have empty filibustering and no real answer.

The problem is the taxpayers of Nova Scotia are being asked to fork over $44 million to support a plan. That is $1 million a page for every page in the Hoogovens plan. That is too much money.

[Page 5981]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, thank you very much. Tomorrow the House will sit between the hours of 2:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. Following the daily routine and Question Period, the government will be calling Bill No. 97 - Business Efficiency (1999) Act, and Bill No. 98 if we have time. I move that we do now adjourn until 2:00 p.m. tomorrow.

[6:00 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: The moment of interruption now being upon us, we will now proceed to the late debate.

ADJOURNMENT

MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5)

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

NDP (N.S.) - USWA: POLITICAL CONTRIBUTIONS - RETURN

MR. PAUL MACEWAN: Mr. Speaker, there are three political Parties represented in this Chamber. There are three different positions on the Sydney Steel industry that we have just heard expressed by the spokespersons for the respective Parties.

The Progressive Conservative Party is out to close down Sydney Steel, to make every Sydney steel worker unemployed, to deny any hope for the future and to write Cape Breton off, as they, politically speaking, have written Cape Breton Island off already.

The Liberal Party, of course, supports the steel plant and supports the steelworker and believes in a dynamic, positive future for that industry and, as tabled yesterday here in this House, a business plan for which the steelworkers are requesting the support of all members of this House, not the government, the steelworkers. The steelworker's union was vitally involved, Mr. Speaker, in the preparation of this document and I would cite such names are Hugh MacKenzie and Peter Warrington of the International Office of the United Steelworkers of America. I am even told - get this now - that former Ontario NDP Premier, Bob Rae, was involved as a consultant in the preparation of this document and if the NDP claims that they don't know what is in it and so they can't pass judgment, they need only pick up the telephone and call the United Steel Workers of America, because I am sure the steelworkers union that was involved in the preparation of this document would be only to happy to explain it to our honourable friends opposite. They certainly have good contacts with that union. They received, according to the annual statement of political contributions for the reporting period . . .

[Page 5982]

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I just wanted to make clear to the member who is on his feet that the United Steel Workers and the officials that he talked about who were involved in the preparation of that plan, would not have been able to tell us or anybody else what was in it because they, along with the other people involved, signed a confidentiality agreement.

MR. SPEAKER: There is no point of order. That is a point of information.

MR. MACEWAN: Mr. Speaker, the United Steel Workers of America, according to the annual statement of political contributions of the Chief Electoral Officer of Nova Scotia, contributed $70,600 to the NDP in 1998 and, in addition to that, various candidates at the constituency level received donations from that union, a list of which I have. There is no question but that the union has supported the Party led by the Leader of the Official Opposition and, yet, the Official Opposition will not support the steelworker. That is why I bring this motion before the House this evening.

What is the position of the NDP regarding Sydney Steel? Mr. Speaker, I call it the jellyfish position because they can't say if they are for it or against it. They are like Pontius Pilate. You can hear the waterfalls as they go past as they wash their hands to absolve themselves of responsibility, claiming that they don't know what is in the business plan and so they cannot pass judgment. I have looked for evidence of them taking a positive stand. I have failed to find it. "I, and the NDP caucus,", according to a recent NDP statement, "are willing to wait for the facts before making up our minds.". Well, they can wait until the cows come home, Mr. Speaker, the steelworkers in Sydney know where each Party stands. They know the Tories are against them. They know the Liberals are for them. They know that the NDP are sitting on the fence. Those are the facts of the matter.

It is my contention that if the NDP cannot support the steelworker, that they ought to return to the steelworkers' union, those dues, those funds that they have received by way of political contribution from the steelworkers' union, because, it is my view, patently unfair and unjust that any political organization should accept the financial support of an organization that they are not prepared to support in kind. It just doesn't seem right. They take the steelworkers money, but they won't support the steelworkers.

Now what do you do with a bunch like that? I will tell you what you do, Mr. Speaker, you defeat them at the polls. That is what you do. You defeat them in the ballot box and that is exactly what we propose to do. Mr. Speaker, I do not think that the points (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. MACEWAN: . . . that are made here require great elaboration. I do not think that they require great elaboration because what we have heard this afternoon says it all. We know where the three Parties stand and the people know where the three Parties stand. I am not

[Page 5983]

afraid to come up here and stand up for the steelworker. I am not afraid to come up here and fight for the steel plant or to support a government that supports the steelworkers because that is my constituency. The plant is located in my constituency. It is the largest single industry in my constituency and what time might remain, I might be prepared to say a few words about it.

Perhaps I might say, if I have a few minutes, something about what the Leader of the Opposition said about the fact that some three-quarters of the existing work force was scheduled to be pensioned within the next two years and yet the business plan proposes for the training of workers for the future and that this is redundant because you would be training people that are going to be retiring within two years.

The facts about that, Mr. Speaker, are very simple, that there are large numbers of steelworkers currently on layoff who would love to return back to work and will return back to work when those older workers are pensioned off. That is the group that is going to be retrained under the business plan - the laid off workers who will be coming back to work. Also, I look forward with confidence to the rehiring, or the hiring I should say, of new workers off the street, so to speak, within the next couple of years at Sydney Steel. There will be a need for a new motivated, highly trained workforce at Sydney Steel to produce steel into the future.

Mr. Speaker, this is our future in Cape Breton. We may not be able to develop a future in some other lines of work but there is a future and it is represented by the investment and the commitment of the Sydney steel plant, of its workforce and of this government which so long as it remains in power will keep that industry I am sure in operation and will certainly support initiatives to sell it so that it can be marketed and so that it can escape the barriers imposed by the Canada-U.S. Trade Agreement on government subsidized industries and become an industry capable of penetrating the U.S. market.

We have gained valuable new contracts, new customers, CN and CP Rail, the Minister of Economic Development has reported here to the House this afternoon, and I am reliably informed that there are others waiting in the wings, based on experience with Sysco products willing to give them a try, willing to buy, and if we can get production there up, we can get sales up, and we can make a go of it. All we are asking for is give us a chance. Give us a chance at Sydney Steel and the Progressive Conservatives say no, shut her down, and the NDP say, well, we do not know what to say so we will not say anything.

That is not the kind of support that we are looking for, Mr. Speaker. We are looking for definite real support, unequivocal support, support that is given from the heart, genuine commitment. You do not need to know every last confidential detail. I am sure that if my friend opposite had called Bob Rae, he probably would have been told, well, sir, I cannot give you all the details because I am under a pledge of confidentiality, but he certainly could have gotten some general advice of, yes, you should support that plan because it is a good plan.

[Page 5984]

That is all we are looking for and they will not give that kind of commitment. They will not give that kind of support at all because they do not want to offend the voting interest that they are trying to cater to, namely those that do not support the continued operation of the Sydney Steel Corporation.

Mr. Speaker, I think that is about all that needs to be said. We have three political Parties. We have three different positions and I am quite content to allow the voters to have their pick of those three. I will certainly stand by that verdict when it is handed in at the polls when the time should come. I would hope that what I have said might be sufficient to make my point and I would invite other honourable members interested in these matters to join the debate.

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

MR. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the honourable member for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour. I am really interested in this debate because the member across the way likes to tell us, well, you just should have blindly gone ahead and supported this document. No matter what it is, you support it.

We talked about a five-year plan. This is a patchwork for one year and he is saying this group worked on it and that group worked on it. Well, you know, Mr. Speaker, it just goes to show you how unenlightened that member is. He will go willy-nilly and follow any Liberal plan. He is the guy that was running up and down the Shore Road in South Bar, like a trained seal, clapping for the Minmetals' plan. That was the greatest thing that ever came across the Causeway, but now it is this one.

What we are saying is very simple. Let us see the plan and, if it is a good plan, we will endorse it. His own member, his own minister admitted to the House not 15 minutes ago, perhaps 20 minutes ago, that the Liberal Party and the Tory Party did that plant in by pulling back political favours, time after time. Yet he has the unmitigated gall to stand in front of this House and say we have something over here that might be right or might be wrong, but you had better support it because you are waffling if you don't.

AN HON. MEMBER: You don't need every detail.

MR. CORBETT: Well, Mr. Speaker, it is not a matter of having every detail is right, it is a matter of having the right facts, facts that he seems to not know about himself. He knows absolutely nothing about this deal. If he knew as much as he likes to blow hot air about, he would realize about the many meetings I have had with Local 1064 of the Steel Workers and how we have talked about this plan and how they agreed with our position that this plan will not succeed unless it has the full and complete support of the public, and that means all of the province. As long as he and his cohorts on the other side like to play a shell game - here is a bit and here is a bit - and expect somebody to follow willy-nilly behind them,

[Page 5985]

he is way off base. I think he spent way too much time rolling in arsenic. He cleaned out too many old stoves because it is affecting his thinking process.

What we have to do here, Mr. Speaker, is find a plan and endorse a plan, hopefully, that will help those steelworkers to get on with producing steel and selling it on a world market that will help everybody in industrial Cape Breton and therefore, by fact, will help everybody in Nova Scotia.

These guys are still out there playing games with him. We will go, let's see what is there, let's see it. Oh no, unless you are going down the road with fife and drum with this bunch of yahoos, you are against the steelworkers.

I would tell that member to go and see the executive of Local 1064, the Steel Workers who represent the men and women who work at that plant and they will tell you that that is not a fact. We are out there trying to get a deal that is in the best interests of all Nova Scotians.

Now this group here, you know in his tomfoolery and, as opposed to being a forthright person, he tries to back-door this thing by saying we should return any donations that were made to us vis-à-vis the United Steel Workers of America if we don't support this plan.

Mr. Speaker, I am going to be sitting down shortly and I hope my colleague will then discuss about the Liberal Party and how it garners its political contributions, how there was a Senator Barrow and a Mr. MacFadden, how they hit the pockets, the highwaymen of Nova Scotia, if you will, the length and breadth of this province, taking money out of the pockets of legitimate business people in this province so that Party can put money in its war chest.

Here is a member - and he knows full well, he is glaring over there now, Mr. Speaker - he knows that he was drummed out of this Party for questionable practices. He knows full well, but yet he rides over the Causeway and pretends he is a white knight. Well, I think he is more white light and very few people see him or care about him. So, I will be taking my seat now and turning my remaining time over to the member for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour. Thank you.

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

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, it is funny that my colleague should mention it but, yes, I do want to talk a little bit about political contributions and how they get made. The reality is that for years and years in this province the members of the Party that is represented in government today and their friends, who of course routinely huddle over here in this corner, received the bulk of their contributions from the big banks, from corporate Canada, from private corporations that pay no tax. They get the majority of their money from vested interests of the right wing and they know that the rewards that they have visited over

[Page 5986]

the years on these friends of theirs is that the tax structure has been devised so it suits them, and not average Nova Scotians who pay the bulk of the tax of this province.

[6:15 p.m.]

By contrast, and I challenge the members opposite and the members of the Third Party to look at political contributions and they will see that, by far, the New Democratic Party is supported in the majority by individual contributions. The tax structure was eventually amended. It was amended, Mr. Speaker, to provide for tax rebates. The idea was that they would encourage individuals to participate in the political system by contributing to the Party of their choice.

Why was this done, Mr. Speaker? Well, it was done because the governments of the day were using other means to collect and fund their campaigns. They awarded lucrative contracts to contributors. They gave patronage out to their supporters and, in return, they received money to fund their campaigns. For sure, the most infamous of these scams was the liquor store toll-gating scam. The Liberal Party built up a war chest by charging a fee to liquor companies. Every time they would put a quart of liquor on the shelves, they got paid.

They used that money for all kinds of things. They used it to run their campaigns. They use it even today. They use it to buy their television ads. They use it to buy their signs. Mr. Speaker, at one point in time, they even paid a secret salary to the Leader of their Party. Ultimately, it was that secret salary and the money from the trust funds that brought down that Leader, the outrage among their own Party, it meant that he was foisted from that position and rightfully so.

What happened as a result of it? There were charges laid, Mr. Speaker. There were charges laid over the influence peddling and, yes, people were convicted and people were found guilty and, yet, the money in those funds remain and they remain there today. Almost $3 million went into one trust fund. Another $1.5 million went into another and they formed the basis for more than $4 million in what is now referred to as the consolidated funds of that Party, which they use routinely to fund their campaigns and to run the election machinery that they have built up as a result of this illegal activity. They have the unmitigated gall, as said by my colleague, they have the temerity to criticize legitimately constituted democratic organizations for contributing to this Party. It is a shame. They should be ashamed of themselves.

They should do the right thing and give back the money that they have, to the taxpayers of Nova Scotia, from whence they took it. (Applause). Mr. Speaker, reform does not come from without, it comes from within. They have to see first the error of their ways. That is the problem with the Liberal Party. It is rotten to its core and it hasn't seen the error of its ways and, perhaps, it will be up to some other Party to legislate a little bit of morality into that political Party. (Applause)

[Page 5987]

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

DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, I wish to share my time with the member for Annapolis. I want to talk a few minutes about the information that we do have before us, information that is contained in the business plan. It is interesting how certain members are not interested in listening to some facts. But I was looking for information that will allow me to make a decision that, in fact, further public investment in Sysco was in the public interest.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

DR. HAMM: The business plan has some interesting statements because the business plan is what is being sold as the justification to provide more money to Sysco. Where others have failed, this is going to succeed. I am going to read a few lines that are in the business plan.

Under the heading Market Segmentation, and this is a direct quote, "Sysco has a cost structure and a location that makes it very difficult to compete effectively in the market for 'commodity' type long products.". What we are looking for is Sysco situated in such a way that there is hope. Can it do better? Can it do better than the 179,000 tons that they sold last year? Because we are talking about the same products. We are talking about the same disadvantages that the plant and the company has been dealing with for a long, long time. Where is it that it is going to be any different.

Cast blooms. The sale of cast blooms in Canada will depend on Sysco establishing a relationship with Algoma and Stelco. The fact of the matter is that Algoma has a rail plant that is in mothballs. If in fact Sysco ceases to be a rail producer, Algoma will dust off their rail plant and they will start producing rails. They are not going to form a working relationship to try and help Sysco to survive. That is the fact of the case, and I know the member opposite knows that is the fact of the case.

They talk about cast ingots. Sysco will return to the market for forging ingots. Sysco was in that business. They did ship ingots, remember, by railcar, insulated railcar to Trenton. Certainly in my memory and in the memory of many in the House. But that is a new market and it is not going to provide a great deal of sales, and we are talking about a big increase in sales. We have to get to 405,000 tons a year before the plant even breaks even. We are so far from that.

Cast rounds. Cast rounds could be an attractive new product. Well that is a pretty weak statement to invest $44 million on. Axle blooms. Another of the products that they make at Sysco, and it says here, "In Canada the Axle Bloom market is virtually non-existent . . .". That is in the document that was used to justify $44 million of new expenditure of the taxpayers' money.

[Page 5988]

It talks here about round cornered squares. I have seen those, because I toured the plant. Round cornered squares. Do you know what this statement says here in the book? "Our chances of selling large quantities in this sector are small, . . .". That is what the business plan says.

Now let's talk about rails, because rails are where you can make money. We have to sell 205,000 tons of rails every year. Last year we didn't do half of that in rails and 20 per cent of them or 22 per cent had to be head-hardened rails because there is even more money in selling head-hardened rails, but it says here that our markets will continue to be Canada, Mexico and Brazil. Those are the markets that we have been dealing with and we haven't gotten the volume we need, but we have to break into the American market because they import annually 2 million to 3 million tons of rails. But here is what they say about the American market in rails, "After privatization of Sysco, the current US anti-dumping duties and US . . . can hopefully be lifted, although it may take a few years.".

That is the kind of information on which a decision was made to advance $44 million to Sysco. To me it doesn't wash. Oh, how I wish it would wash. It is tough talking to a steelworker when you are the man that says look, I am not supporting your plant anymore, but I do support the steelworker and I will not see them hurt. I will see that they are protected if their industry in fact is to be no more because I want to support the Cape Breton economy. I want to support all of Cape Breton. I want to put money in economic development that has a future, that makes sense, that is sustainable, that gives young Cape Bretoners the idea, yes, I will stay in Cape Breton because that is the kind of job I want.

How many steelworkers are saying to their sons today or their daughters, I want you to follow me into the steel plant? They are not saying that, because that steel plant has provided them over the last 30 years irregular employment and weeks and weeks and weeks every year on unemployment. That is the kind of employment the steel plant has provided to the steelworkers despite $2.8 billion of taxpayers' money being invested. I wish it was different, I wish we could go on and say, look, we can protect those 679 jobs.

Another thing that bothers me, what does the business plan not talk about? What this business plan says, they can run the plant for $44 million of taxpayers' money if, in the current year, they sell 350,000 tons of product, double what they sold last year. I want to know how much additional taxpayers' money will be required if, in fact, they sell 300,000 tons of steel, or 250,000 tons of steel or, perish the thought, just 150,000 tons of steel. What is that number? Because $44 million won't carry then until March 31, 2000, if they don't meet those sales projections. They will be back for more taxpayers' money. I want to know what those numbers are because somebody must have looked at it. Somebody must have said, if we don't sell 350,000, how much more money will be needed? That is the kind of information I have been looking for.

[Page 5989]

What we have been presented with is the best-case scenario but we also have a right to look at the worst-case scenario and everything in between. Thank you.

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

MR. GORDON BALSER: Mr. Speaker, I welcome the opportunity to rise tonight and speak on this issue. It is unfortunate that so often when we rise to discuss late debate issues the resolutions contain references and agendas that are not true to the real nature that needs to be discussed and that is true here tonight. The issue of the closure of Sysco is critical to all Nova Scotia and to Cape Breton, yet within that resolution there is a reference to campaign contributions which belittles what should be a genuine and honest debate and discussion. I don't feel it is appropriate to go down that trail.

What I want to talk about tonight is what is in the plan this time that makes it workable, that makes it truly different. We have spoken often about the need for change, it is time for a change in Nova Scotia, it is time for a new economy, it is time for a new direction, a new birth. That is a good message to be discussing but that is not what happened here earlier. What I think needs to be discussed is whether or not the taxpayers of Nova Scotia really and truly can believe and support that $44 million at this particular point is what is needed to turn Sysco around. We talked earlier about the fact that for 30 years that has been the fundamental cornerstone discussion and each time, in spite of good intentions and best efforts, it didn't come to fruition. I am really sceptical that the Hoogovens plan is going to be any different.

What was in the plan? Well, to the Liberals it was the next last chance, justification to once again go down that trail I just spoke of that has accumulated $2.8 billion in debt. That is no small amount in a province this size (Interruption) one-third of this province's accumulated debt, that is correct. It has created a situation where the government is forced to once more try to grasp at straws to address a critical economic issue.

The other thing is for the NDP, what has it meant for the NDP? Well, to them and to all Nova Scotians it has provided a genuine opportunity for us to see clearly that they are not willing to take a stand on any issue. It was referenced earlier on that what they want to do is sit on the fence, when they go to Cape Breton what is expedient there is to tell the people, yes, we need to see a plan to be sure that we can support it but, if the plan is a good plan, we will be there for you. Yet, when they come to mainland Nova Scotia, they speak volumes in their silence. They are not willing to say whether or not they are willing to support.

Now the reference was made earlier to what it means to the Progressive Conservatives. Dr. John Hamm said we are taking a stand, we have looked at a situation, we have addressed a concern and we recognize that based on the information provided, it is not feasible to throw another $144 million into Sysco. What is reasonable is to look at other options, to ensure that the steelworkers are cared for and looked after. In fact, John, prior to making his announcement, did not commit to going out and talking to the press until he had the

[Page 5990]

opportunity to go there and talk face to face with the steelworkers, to tell them first, before he told the public. That takes the kind of leadership that is needed to tell the people of Nova Scotia what they need to hear, not what they want to hear, as some Parties would be willing to do - what they need to hear. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The time allocated for late debate having expired, the House will rise until 2:00 p.m. tomorrow afternoon.

[The House rose at 6:30 p.m.]