Assemblée Législative de la Nouvelle-Écosse

Les travaux de la Chambre ont repris le
21 septembre 2017

 

 

 

 

 

HALIFAX, THURSDAY, APRIL 13, 1995

Fifty-sixth General Assembly

Third Session

11:00 A.M.

SPEAKER

Hon. Paul MacEwan

DEPUTY SPEAKER

Mrs. Francene Cosman

 

 

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I would like to call the House to order at this time and commence
the daily agenda. The daily routine.

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

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

RESOLUTION NO. 118

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

Whereas April 17th marks the date in 1985 when the equality provisions of the Canadian Charter
of Rights and Freedoms came into force; and

Whereas a multitude of women individually and in groups from all backgrounds and circumstances
worked vigorously for the adoption of these Charter provisions; and

 

 

533

 

Whereas the equality provisions of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms have resulted in equal gains
for women and other groups including cases involving sexual harassment, discrimination on the basis of
pregnancy and equal access for women and men to parental leave, and equality provisions of the Charter now
influence legislative review and the drafting of new legislation making equality rights a factor in the new and
revised legislation of all kinds;

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize the significance of 10 years of equality provisions
in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and that members renew their commitment to equality for all Nova
Scotians.

Mr. Speaker, I seek waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed that notice be waived?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

RESOLUTION NO. 119

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

Whereas the education and theological community in Halifax and Atlantic Canada was shocked
yesterday with the sudden loss of a true leader, Reverend Ed Aitken; and

Whereas Reverend Aitken, while President of the Atlantic School of Theology for only half a year,
served the students of the college in an exemplary fashion for several decades in other capacities; and

Whereas Reverend Aitken’s leadership and spiritual guidance within the realm of the college, in his
community and in his past charges throughout Atlantic Canada will not soon be forgotten as it is a true and
proud legacy;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House, through the Speaker, offer our sincere
condolences to the family of Reverend Ed Aitken on whose shoulders this loss will be felt so profoundly.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for waiver of notice and request that the House might observe a moment
of silence.

 

 

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

[One minute of silence was observed.]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party.

RESOLUTION NO. 120

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 Province of Nova Scotia has recognized the Mi’Kmaq people as a nation with
entitlements to be treated on a nation-to-nation basis; and

Whereas negotiations to effect arrangements for self-government have been slow in realizing results
and progress has been complicated by several government initiatives over taxation and gaming outside the
goals of a coordinated approach to self-government; and

Whereas significant progress in self-government could be attained by a priorized allocation of modest
resources to the process;

Therefore be it resolved that the Government of Nova Scotia commit itself to the self-government
process in the province on an accelerated timetable and to do so, commit to retain additional expertise
forthwith to act as advisors and negotiators.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Eastern Shore.

RESOLUTION NO. 121

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

Whereas on Sunday, April 9th, Barb’s Cosy Kitchen Restaurant in Lake Charlotte was officially
opened; and

Whereas Ms. Barbara Patterson, proprietor of the restaurant, has created a wonderful country kitchen
style restaurant offering a fine menu in an atmosphere genuine to Nova Scotia warmth and hospitality; and

Whereas this new restaurant, located in Webber’s Store complex in Lake Charlotte, is another
example of the thriving tourist industry along the Eastern Shore;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate Barb Patterson on the official opening of Barb’s
Cosy Kitchen Restaurant and applaud the entrepreneurs on the Eastern Shore who are making great efforts
to promote the development of tourism.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice on this motion.

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed that notice be waived on that motion?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury.

RESOLUTION NO. 122

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

Whereas Angela Tate, a Grade 12 student at Saint Mary’s High School in Aspen, Guysborough
County, has recently won a $1,000 investment portfolio from Investors Group to be used to pay for her
education; and

Whereas Ms. Tate won this prize as a result of her participation in the Canada Remembers 1939-1945 Competition, a national quiz sponsored by Veterans Affairs Canada to promote understanding among
young people of Canada’s participation in the Second World War; and

Whereas Ms. Tate’s entry was selected from among entries across Atlantic Canada;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate Angela Tate for being a winner of the Canada
Remembers Competition and helping to keep alive the memory of Canada’s significant contribution to world
peace.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice on this motion.

MR. SPEAKER:  There is 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 Eastern Shore.

 

 

RESOLUTION NO. 123

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

Whereas a group of 12 Junior Achievers from Sheet Harbour, have enjoyed a very successful and
profitable year as members of Kitchen Encounters, a Junior Achievement Company which manufactures,
markets and distributes trivets and cookbooks; and

Whereas the 12 members of Kitchen Encounters are all young females who are demonstrating the
new spirit of entrepreneurship and self-determination that is growing along the Eastern Shore; and

Whereas as a result of the dynamic and innovative entrepreneurial skills of these 12 young women,
their company was able to realize a 40 per cent after-tax profit return;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the 12 female entrepreneur members of Kitchen
Encounters along with their Junior Achievement advisors, for the great success they have achieved in
establishing a highly profitable company.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: There is 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 Halifax Bedford Basin.

RESOLUTION NO. 124

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

Whereas today, April 13, 1995 has been designated as International Special Librarians Day; and

Whereas the librarians who work in the Legislative Library are indeed special librarians; and

Whereas these librarians, under the inspired leadership of the Chief Librarian, Margaret Murphy,
have provided invaluable services to members of this House and their research staffs;

Therefore be it resolved that this House extend to all staff members of the Legislative Library
congratulations for the excellent work they perform while carrying out their duties in service to this House.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice on this motion.

MR. SPEAKER: I trust that one will receive unanimous assent.

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. 125

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

Whereas last week marked the 1st Anniversary of a very successful year for SCL Technologies
Limited, a circuit board manufacturer located in Amherst; and

Whereas SCL Technologies Limited payroll has gone from 40 employees to a payroll of 131, with
an increase expected to 150 by mid-year; and

Whereas SCL Technologies Limited which markets its products worldwide with revenues in excess
of $20 million, attributes much if its success on the fantastic work ethic of its employees;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate company President, Mr. Michael Klar and all
of the employees at SCL Technologies Limited for their excellent success that they are working hard to
achieve and for the very significant contribution this company is making to the economic growth and
development of Cumberland County.

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

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed that notice be waived?

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. 126

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

Whereas the Finance Minister boasted to the chamber of commerce as this legislative session got
under way that the Liberal Government is “cutting out the frills”; and

Whereas it appears that this government regards the public School Milk Program as one such frill,
slashing it by more than $400,000;

[11:15 a.m.]

Whereas this government continues to claim that its priorities are health promotion and prevention
and that cuts to education will not hurt classrooms;

Therefore be it resolved that the education reforms have, indeed, touched the classrooms of Nova
Scotia and are now denying children a much needed source of nutrition, hardly a frill if this government were
serious about an effective health promotion strategy and sincere about its commitment to eradicate child
poverty.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

RESOLUTION NO. 127

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

Whereas the decision to divert funding from Nova Scotia’s most dangerous section of highway was
undertaken in only five minutes; and

Whereas the Liberal Member of Parliament for Cumberland-Colchester, who understands the urgent
need for twinning of Highway No. 104, called the Minister of Transportation and Communication’s decision
to divert funds, “an insult to the people of Cumberland-Colchester”; and

Whereas a Liberal backbencher was quoted in this morning’s Daily News as saying, “If David was
from Halifax and Richie was from Yarmouth, do you think they would have paved the Fleur-de-lis?”;

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier and his Minister of Transportation and Communications
make an immediate commitment to all Nova Scotians today, that any decisions made around the inner Cabinet
sanctum, impacting upon lives of Nova Scotians, are worth more than five minutes of debate and discussion.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party.

RESOLUTION NO. 128

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 Minister of Education has been travelling across the province under the pretence of
consultation with education partners about school board reform; and

Whereas the Minister of Education, without having even reported on the results of his consultations,
has instead introduced a bill that will give him complete dictatorial powers to do whatever he decides
regarding education restructuring; and

Whereas thousands of Nova Scotians have given their time and effort in good faith to provide input
to the minister on education reform;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister, if he is to be a true conciliator, will withdraw the bill and
instead release his plan for consolidation so the partners in education will have a genuine opportunity to be
heard and have meaningful input.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury.

RESOLUTION NO. 129

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

Whereas the New Democratic Party continually criticizes large corporations; and

Whereas the policy of the Ontario NDP towards large corporations has resulted in the out-migration
of many businesses to other parts of North America, resulting in the loss of thousands of jobs; and

Whereas large businesses in Nova Scotia currently employ 190,000 people in quality jobs, in
industries as diverse as Stora Forest Industries Limited, Trenton Works, Scott Paper, Nat Sea Products,
Michelin Tire and Pratt & Whitney Canada, along with hundreds of small businesses which employ 115,000
Nova Scotians;

Therefore be it resolved that this House applaud this government’s ability to work constructively with
the corporate sector, both large and small, to promote high quality, sustainable jobs and not to follow the
policy of the NDP, which could result in the loss of thousands of jobs in Nova Scotia.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

RESOLUTION NO. 130

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

Whereas our system of health care is a vital public service, recognized by Nova Scotians as one of
our proudest achievements;

Whereas the recent federal budget announced massive reductions in transfers to the provinces of
funds required to support and enhance our health care system, $385 million over the next three years in Nova
Scotia alone;

Whereas the inevitable consequences of this assault will be the loss of programs and services, reduced
eligibility, increased user fees, massive job losses and decline of Nova Scotians’ health, unless government
can do better than ensure our fiscal circumstances are clearly understood in Ottawa, as opined in the Budget
Address;

Therefore be it resolved that this House supports the protection and enhancement of Nova Scotia’s
health care system as a matter of the highest public priority and will not tolerate erosion of the principles of
the Canada Health Act in the name of deficit reduction.

Mr. Speaker, I wonder if I might ask for waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Hants East.

RESOLUTION NO. 131

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

Whereas Corey Keel, a Grade 12 student at Hants East Rural High School, has recently won a trip
to Ottawa to participate in the May 8th commemoration of the 50th Anniversary of VE Day;

Whereas Mr. Keel was a participant in the Canada Remembers 1939-1945 Competition, a national
quiz sponsored by Veterans Affairs Canada, to promote understanding among young people of Canada’s
participation in the Second World War; and

Whereas Mr. Keel’s entry displayed significant knowledge of Canada’s role in the Second World
War;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate Corey Keel for being chosen to attend the
commemoration of the 50th Anniversary of VE Day in Ottawa and helping to keep alive the memory of
Canada’s significant contribution to world peace among young people of Nova Scotia.

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

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

Is there any further business to come before the House under the heading of the Daily Routine? If not,
we will advance to Orders of the Day. Now under Orders of the Day the first item on the agenda is Oral
Questions Put By Members but before we get into the Question Period today, I want to make a few
observations to the House as to what types of questions are permissible in Question Period. Rule 31 of our
House states very clearly that the questions placed “. . . shall relate only to matters for which a Minister is
officially responsible.”. In other words, if a question is about housing it should be directed to the Minister of
Housing, if it is about transportation it should be directed to the Minister of Transportation and so forth.

Beauchesne’s Parliamentary Rules & Forms specifically state that, “A question may not: (2) seek
information about matters which are in their nature secret, such as decisions or proceedings of Cabinet . . .”.

Now under that it has traditionally been viewed in this House - this is no invention of mine - that
questions such as, did you attend Cabinet on a certain day, are out of order. Questions such as, did the
minister attend a committee of Cabinet when such and such a matter was discussed, are not permissible. I just
wanted to make that clear before we got into Question Period, lest there be any doubt on that.

The honourable member for Hants West.

MR. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, for greater clarification, if you put the question, was the
minister present when a decision was made at Cabinet, you are saying that is out of order, is that correct?

MR. SPEAKER: It is my understanding that it is, yes.

Now the time being 11:23 a.m., the Oral Question Period today will run for one hour, that is until
12:23 p.m.

ORDERS OF THE DAY

ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

TRANSPORT. - SHIP AGREEMENT: MONIES - DIVERSION

MR. TERENCE DONAHOE: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Premier. The Premier - and I am
mindful of the comments you just made, Mr. Speaker - in response to questions from the Leader of the New
Democratic Party in relation to the Highway No. 104 matter, said on Tuesday, April 11, 1995, and I quote
him; “Mr. Speaker, it is known in government that decisions are arrived at by partnership, by decision in
Cabinet and that is the way this decision was made. This decision was one that was made because at the same
time as we made the transfer, we decided that we would start the process of private/public partnering.”.

Meanwhile, the Minister of Transportation has indicated in this House that he does not have a
recollection of having made a formal presentation on this matter to the Cabinet. We have press reports to the
effect that there was some kind of a discussion and that it whisked by in about five minutes’ time.

Well, I don’t know whether it its true but that is the press report. I want to ask the Premier, if I may,
Mr. Speaker, whether or not the decision to make the amendment and take the $26 million out of the highway
strengthening agreement and refer it over to the Fleur-de-lis matter was or was not a decision of his Cabinet.

AN HON. MEMBER: Out of order.

HON. JOHN SAVAGE (The Premier): Mr. Speaker, I answered that yesterday by saying that it was
a decision that was arrived at by the two ministers, brought to Cabinet and discussed. I am glad of the
opportunity to talk about the length of time that this Cabinet has discussed not just Highway No. 104 but also
the public/private partnership. We have discussed this on many different occasions because of the need, left,
as we were, in the lurch by the previous government, the need to look at doing something about this particular
sector of the highway.

I will not give you numerical incidents, but I can tell you that we have discussed this. We have
discussed it in committees, with the Department of Transportation; we have discussed in various sectors of
meetings; and we have given a lot of thought, a lot of time and a lot of Cabinet time to the question of the
public/private partnership and how it would fly. I, myself, spoke to the federal minister because I have
concerns about whether or not it was allowable. We now know that the federal minister is agreeable and we
understand a letter is readily available that will show they are agreeing to the concept of tolls.

So, Mr. Speaker, let’s dispel the idea being put through by the Leader of the Opposition that this went
through with whatever the press reports that he wants to use indicate. This has been discussed at Cabinet. I
personally discussed it, particularly with the member for Truro, and it is obviously an issue which has received
a lot of discussion and will continue to receive a lot of discussion from this Cabinet.

MR. DONAHOE: Mr. Speaker, I would like to try one more time. The Premier has also said in this
place on this issue, and I quote him from Hansard, “I suspect they are the same as they were in previous
governments, that is, ministers on both sides agree, it then comes to both Cabinets and I would assume it is
therefore passed by both Cabinets.”. Later the Premier said, “The agreements are settled between departments
of the federal government and the provincial government and then ratified by us.”.

My question to the Premier is, will he or will he not indicate to the taxpayers of Nova Scotia whether
or not the decision to remove the $26 million from the highway strengthening program to the Fleur-de-lis
Trail project was or was not ratified by his Cabinet?

THE PREMIER: I will attempt, once again, to explain to the member opposite. The decision was
made between the two departments, agreed to by the two ministers. We have said that repeatedly. What I have
said is that that was brought to us, it was discussed in Cabinet and it was agreed. Now, I don’t think it is
appropriate that I keep answering the same question and I urge you, Mr. Speaker, to urge the member opposite
to put his questions in some kind of order.

MR. DONAHOE: Well, by way of final supplementary, then, I take it that what the Premier wants
the taxpayers of Nova Scotia to believe is that the transfer of $26 million from the highway strengthening
program over to the Fleur-de-lis Trail commitment was a matter which was agreed between Minister Mann,
Minister Dingwall and Minister Young, and that he and none of his Cabinet Ministers had anything to do
with the approval process. Is that what the Premier is saying?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I didn’t say that at all. The taxpayers of this province know perfectly
well that the fancy plans produced, for instance, by the former Minister of Transportation, that this would be
ready by 1995, was a great example of the way the Tories did business. They paved their roads with poor
intentions, not Tarmac.

What we are telling you, Mr. Speaker, and what I tell the taxpayers of this province, is that the
decision was arrived at at the same time as we were going to start negotiating the public/private partnership.
We, therefore, with the recommendation from the two ministers, agreed in Cabinet that this was a good way
to go and it will be shown, when this is done in a much shorter timeframe than would ever have been done
by the former government, that this is the right way to go.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party.

HEALTH: MINISTER - EXPENSES (1993-95)

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I too would like to go to the Premier, but on another topic. I would
like to go to the Premier on a matter that was brought to the attention of this House when the expenses of the
Minister of Health were tabled in this House, which showed that between 1993 and 1995, the minister spent,
according to the freedom of information request that he had returned to the Health Critic for the Conservative
Party, over $56,000. Yet, the expense statements that are filed with the Executive Office that I have gone
through and quickly added up, only add up to approximately $3,000.

Now my question to the Premier, I appreciate why auto leasing and vehicle leasings would not show
up in this, but I would like to ask the Premier, quite simply, why such a great difference? Has he looked into
it and can he explain why all of those expenses, except those dealing with the auto lease, would not show up
on the forms that are provided to the Executive Council?

[11:30 a.m.]

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I had assumed that there were some courtesies in this House and the
courtesy which should be extended to an absent minister who has been away defending, I might add, Canadian
health care, who has spoken up loudly as opposed to some of the colleagues opposite colleagues in another
province who want to set up a double-tiered system.

This minister is fighting hard for the retention of a good Canada system. Therefore, on his way back,
he has stopped in to look at an undergraduate program and I would have thought, given the courtesies of this
House, and I have not been around here as long as the Acting Leader of the New Democratic Party, but I
would assume that you might take this up with the minister first. The idea of putting it into the headlines is
a well-known tactic but I think it is unfair when the minister is out of the province. (Applause)

MR. HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I would like to congratulate the Premier on his excellent act. Yes, indeed,
there are courtesies in this House but Nova Scotians also expect something called accountability, which this
minister promised that he was going to be providing.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, Oh!

MR. HOLM: My question to the Premier is quite simply this. What is the policy? Is it the policy of
this government, and the Premier is in charge, to have his ministers or permit ministers to charge their
expenses to the department account instead of making them public on the Executive Council reports as they
are supposed to, so that what this government is doing is transparent? (Interruptions)

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the apparently rabid comments coming from the opposite bench
deserve the explanation from the minister concerned. It only makes sense, in my view, and I am quite
prepared to sit down with the minister when he gets back, that we will do this. But let’s be fair, for crying out
loud. The man is away, he is living out of suitcases, he is living a life, defending the health care system. Can
we just wait until he gets back and we will give you a full accounting of this? I think that is an eminently fair
process that I would think even the New Democratic Party would believe in.

MR. HOLM: Mr. Speaker, the Premier is getting quite skillful at letting the questions slide away,
in terms of not trying to address or answer the question that was asked.

MR. SPEAKER: Is this a question?

MR. HOLM: My question, Mr. Speaker, was not dealing strictly with the Minister of Health, it was
with this Premier and his government’s policy. So I will restate it again, clearly, in a different way so that the
Premier can understand it. I want to know what this government’s policy is. Is it the policy of this Premier
and his Cabinet to have their expenses charged to their departments rather than making them public on the
forms that are supposed to be filed with the Executive Council? What is your policy?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, at least we file ours with the Executive Council. Your former Leader
did not. Let me also say, quite categorically, that I will take this up with the minister when he gets back and
we will talk about it. As far as I am concerned, the law of this country is that somebody is accepted as innocent
until proven guilty. For pity’s sake, let’s have a little fairness in this.

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

TRANSPORT.: HIGHWAYS (PUBLIC/PRIVATE) - TOLLS

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the honourable Premier. To my
knowledge, in this nation, Canada, there are presently no tolls on the Trans Canada Highway anywhere. Can
the Premier confirm for this House and to Nova Scotians that the long-awaited and much ballyhooed talked
about private partnership, whether or not it will include tolls?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I have answered this question before when the Leader of the
Opposition asked me. I suggest that you wait until we make the announcement.

MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, over 50 Nova Scotians have perished on this dangerous stretch of
highway in recent years and I would submit that it is the most dangerous stretch of highway in Nova Scotia.
Can the Premier tell this House, and Nova Scotians, when this much-needed project will be announced?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I can but repeat what I said before. We will do this as soon as possible
and the announcement will include all the relevant details. I suggest they don’t try to get any out of us before
that because we are not prepared to do anything until the actual announcement.

MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I will go to the Premier. I wonder if the Premier can tell me if he is
prepared to reduce the gasoline tax to compensate for the tolls, should they be instated?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I would suggest that we wait until the announcement is made. I can
but repeat what I said before.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

EDUC. - COMMUN. COLLEGES: POST-SECONDARY - COMPETITION

MR. TERENCE DONAHOE: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Education. The Minister
of Education recently announced with some considerable fanfare, accompanied by the Minister of Housing
and Consumer Affairs, and the Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency and others, a new Truro campus
to link training and economic development. It is my understanding that more or less contemporaneous with
all of that, an advertisement was placed by the minister’s department under the heading, Nova Scotia
Community College, Training Opportunities for University Graduates. The advertisement says, a number of
the programs are designed to meet the specific needs of university graduates with a strong general education.
Among the programs available which require an under-graduate degree, are and there are a number of them
listed, computer technology, business foundations, business foundations accounting, geographic information
systems and so on.

I wonder if the Minister of Education will tell the province today whether or not it is his public policy
initiative in the Department of Education to now be moving to the establishment of a new level of post-secondary education sponsored by the department which will be in competition with Nova Scotia’s existing
post-secondary education system?

HON. JOHN MACEACHERN: Mr. Speaker, I thank the honourable Leader of the Opposition for
the question. First of all, the Truro campus is good news for Nova Scotia and it is entering an area of study
that has been asked for by the business community and by people looking for very specific training and it is
good news for Nova Scotia. I am glad that the honourable Leader of the Opposition has noted it.

In terms of the kind of training, we are responding to a need. Over the last three to five years in our
community college system we have had students who have graduated from university in business and in arts,
stepping into the community college to get very specific training - for 40 years, I defer to the Minister of
Supply and Services who was in the business. But what they would do and it was very important is that these
graduates were not given credit for their prior learning. So, what we have done is re-engineered the programs
in our community college to allow a recognition that, for example, if somebody with a B.A. steps in for the
specific training, some of the things that we provide, for example, somebody with a Grade 12 or less education
are not required.

So we have re-tooled many of those courses so that graduates can step into them now and we are
advertising the fact that these very specific community college programs are now available so that many other
people can see that that is the case. I will give you a tiny example, there was one program two years ago that
was 10 months long and in the class were graduates and people who had just entered post-secondary
education. Now we have two streams, one that is much shorter and the other one longer to allow for the
different students that are entering the programs. That is what we are referring to in the advertisement.

MR. DONAHOE: Mr. Speaker, I wonder if the Minister of Education could tell us whether or not,
prior to embarking upon the development of programming at the community college level which requires as
a prerequisite to admission the successful completion of an under-graduate degree, whether or not that
minister took the opportunity to review that matter with Janet Halliwell, the Chairperson of the Nova Scotia
Council on Higher Education?

MR. MACEACHERN: I can tell the honourable Leader of the Opposition that it is not something
that I discussed directly with her but I am sure she is aware of it. What we are doing with our community
college system is not developing sequential programming between community colleges and universities or as
he is suggesting, between universities and community colleges. There are two parallel systems, Mr. Speaker,
in which we are going to start recognizing credits from universities to community colleges and from
community colleges to universities, that these are two parallel structures with different goals and different
methods of approaching the material.

These two things, in fact, we have a consortium in which the community college people are sitting
down with the university people to discuss those very connections, Mr. Speaker, and not only here in Nova
Scotia but across the country, so we can start getting recognition for prior learning, community college
programming for universities and, as the honourable Leader of the Opposition has noted, university credits
for community colleges.

Mr. Speaker, this is what we are developing and it is not a secret from anybody. Again, it is in
response to a need and not at the inspiration of some idea that someone might have.

MR. DONAHOE: Well, I will table a note from Dr. Halliwell, addressed to the university presidents,
in which she raises the question as to what the impact of this might do to the relationship between the
university system and the college-university interface because she is more than a little concerned. I have only
the one copy, if one of the Pages might be kind enough to make a couple of copies, I will table that and you
could give one to the Minister of Education.

By way of final supplementary, Mr. Speaker, it is my understanding that the Minister of Education
has indicated that something in the order of $2.35 million will be reallocated within the Nova Scotia
Community College System budget, to support new programs and purchase the latest technology relative to
this new adventure that he talked about in Truro recently.

It is my further understanding, from consultation with university presidents, that this minister has
made a promise to the university presidents that the monies saved, or not having to be expended, by reason
of the cessation of the teacher training program at the Teachers College, was promised to the university
presidents to be folded into the post-secondary education envelope because there will be a very expensive price
tag in redesigning teacher training in Nova Scotia, as that is undertaken at Mount Saint Vincent, at Acadia,
at St. F.X. and potentially at U.C.C.B.

I wonder if the minister will indicate to me now whether or not his statements the other day reflect
a reneging on his part of the earlier commitment made to the presidents of the existing post-secondary
education institutions?

MR. MACEACHERN: Mr. Speaker, first of all before I answer the question specifically, I have the
note that he refers to. In fact, I would suggest that what Dr. Halliwell is suggesting in the letter is that that
particular ad she had not been informed of and she doesn’t know the implications, which is much different,
I would suggest, than the honourable Leader of the Opposition was presenting it. So, the note speaks for itself
and I will allow the House to see that.

In terms of the adventure that he suggested at the Truro campus, it is, in fact, an adventure. I would
suggest to him that the idea of buying the best technology for those people who wish to study, the alternative
is to buy old technology, which is not something that we are very interested in, Mr. Speaker. What we want
to provide for the students of Nova Scotia is the front-end technology and front-end training so they can
compete with the world.

His suggestion that we somehow, or he seems to be suggesting that we delay in doing that, in fact
is belying the situation that Nova Scotia has relative to the world. We are going to buy the best technology
available and we are going to do that.

My dealing with the universities has been constant and consistent and I will continue to do that. In
terms of how they are funded, again, Mr. Speaker, we will be dealing with the Council on Higher Education
and the universities in terms of that. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: On a new question, the honourable Leader of the Opposition.

EDUC. - COLCHESTER COMMUN. COLLEGE:

 

BUSINESS TECH. COURSE - REFUND

MR. TERENCE DONAHOE: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Education. It relates
to difficulties at the Colchester Campus of the Nova Scotia Community College. The minister will be aware,
I presume, that 24 students started a one year course at the Colchester campus of the community college in
September, in a program called Business Information and Technology. It appears that the business - business
math, computer theory and computer lab - components of this program have been an absolute disaster from
the start of the school year.

It also appears that the concerns of inadequate instruction and facilities was made known to the
principal and to the department many months age and, to make matters worse, the instructor in those elements
of the program resigned some many weeks ago and has only very recently been replaced, leaving the students
for many weeks without instruction. In fact, the year has been wasted for those students who have attempted
to stay with the course.

My question to the Minister of Education today is, will the minister commit today that those students
who did attempt to stay with the course but who have been short-changed by all of these events, will be
compensated for their entire financial loss experienced this year?

 

 

[11:45 a.m.]

HON. JOHN MACEACHERN: Mr. Speaker, first of all, the comparison between the previous
question and this one is curious. He seems to be chastising us for buying good equipment and then scolding
us for not having adequate equipment for another program. I am at a loss to which of these he wishes to go
forth. But in answer to (Interruptions) It is fascinating because the very problems he presents here, in terms
of the community college system, were left by the inadequacy of their approach to adult education in Nova
Scotia. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. MACEACHERN: Mr. Speaker, if I could, we have basically put 27 new programs in, in one
year. I would suggest to the honourable Leader of the Opposition, as we were examining what they left here,
clearing it up, was frightening. They had things that were 20 and 25 years out of date and never dealt with.
In one year, we have dealt with many of these; in fact, one-third of the programs have been reviewed and we
are going to be announcing the results of a second one-third, and in one more year we will have re-examined
every program in the community college system and addressed inadequacies.

About his particular question, our staff have been dealing with this particular problem at the
Colchester campus (Interruptions) Thank you, Mr. Speaker. We are dealing with the problem and I will assure
the honourable member that I will speak to the staff and give him an update.

MR. DONAHOE: Mr. Speaker, (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Order. The honourable Leader of the Opposition has the floor.

MR. DONAHOE: Mr. Speaker, we are joined in the gallery today and I would like to introduce, if
I may, five students who have been short-changed by this minister and by this program. I would like to
introduce Shawn Delaney, Tara Christie, Susan Smith, Melanie Hane and Bonnie Ross, who are students in
this business program, and would like them to rise and be recognized and receive the warm greeting of the
House. (Applause)

By way of supplementary to the minister, I ask the minister if he will commit today that these
students and their colleagues who have attempted to stick with this program to its conclusion and will be
guaranteed access, tuition free, to a properly instructed business information and technology course, which
the minister will design since he now, as he tells us, is in the business of being able to design 21st Century
and world-class courses. Will he guarantee access, tuition free, to these disadvantaged students and their
colleagues?

MR. MACEACHERN: Mr. Speaker, I will give a wider assurance than the honourable Leader of the
Opposition has asked for; in fact, in dealing with the difficulties that occurred at another program down in
our Shelburne campus in the aquaculture program, we, in fact, provided the upgrades that were required so
that the students would be ready for the work force. We will give that assurance to the students who are here
and if they had spoken to me, I would have done that.

 

 

I will go even further than that, Mr. Speaker, to show the comparison and the students can speak to
this. What has been left in many of our community colleges by the government opposite, are not only the
programs that were inadequate for the time, they were bringing people through them so that they were never
work-ready. In fact, in Cape Breton, we have people who have taken three and four programs and are now
unemployed in three and four different programs, because none of them led to work.

I had one instructor tell me in a conversation - this was about a year ago - that, in fact, none of his
students were getting work because the trade is 75 per cent unemployed. But that crew opposite, left those
courses in place and were graduating people into a hopeless situation and we are hoping to restore hope to
the students in our community colleges. (Applause)

MR. DONAHOE: Mr. Speaker, I am sure that the minister’s answer has just warmed the cockles of
his own heart and he feels so good. The fact of the matter is . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

MR. DONAHOE: Yes, Mr. Speaker. The fact of the matter is, that this minister, having control of
this program, thought it was so important and such a good program, that he and his officials went out and
hired a new staff person to offer this very program this fall. It then fell apart and these students are realizing
the difficulty, as a consequence.

My final supplementary to the minister is, relative to his program, not to a program that was sitting
there and being abused by previous governments, this minister’s program, will this minister do two things;
will he undertake an immediate audit of that program and will he meet today, here in Province House, with
the students who have come from Truro to express their concerns, who have expressed them for months and
have gotten no answers? Will he meet with them today and make a commitment to them that their opportunity
to have a successful business information technology program will, indeed, be made available to them? Will
he meet with them today?

MR. MACEACHERN: Mr. Speaker, if I might, the sounding brass of the honourable member
opposite scares me. They had a reform several years ago in the community college system, in which they had
a big study and the change altogether in the community college had two things in it. They changed the signs
out in front and the names of the buildings and they changed the way they answered the phones. That is
exactly what they did, exactly what they did.

Now, in answer to his question, Mr. Speaker, any requests from any students - and you can check
the record on this, whether it be the Teachers College or the universities - I have met with them always and
that is not something that the honourable Leader of the Opposition can come from me. I have always made
those meetings. I would suggest to the honourable Leader that he can tell anyone who calls him, call my office
and I am pleased to meet with those people, to discuss any concern. I will give the honourable Leader of the
Opposition a report on how this program has been handled over the period of time, within a matter of the day.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Fairview, please.

 

 

MS. ALEXA MCDONOUGH: Mr. Speaker, I rise to make an introduction. It is my pleasure to
introduce a guest who is with us here in the Speaker’s Gallery this morning, the very popular and hardworking
Leader of the New Democratic Party in the Province of Newfoundland, the MHA for St. John’s East and
former Newfoundland Member of Parliament, Jack Harris. I would ask all members to extend a warm
welcome to Jack Harris, who is here visiting with us today. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: Glad to see you here, Mr. Harris.

The honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party.

SYDNEY TAR PONDS CLEAN UP INC. - TIME MONITORING

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I, too, of course, add my warm welcomes to Jack. It is great to see
you here. My question, through you, Mr. Speaker, and hopefully it is going to be just one question, because
I hope to get the positive answer I want from the Minister of Supply and Services, who has, you might say,
taken a very firsthand interest in the Sydney tar ponds clean-up. My question has to do with the incinerator
and concerns that residents in the community have, that the emissions that are emitted from the incinerator
when it is operating, may not always be up to scratch. There is a very simple way to provide a sense of
confidence and assurance that, in fact, they are meeting the standards and that is to have real time monitoring,
something that I have spoken to the Sydney Tar Ponds Clean Up Incorporated about and argued in support
of. It would simply mean that the constant, real time, as they are being tested, minute-by-minute result would
show up in a public place on a monitor where anybody in the public could see them. My question to the
minister is, very simply, this. Will the minister agree that he will instruct that real time monitoring will be
in place when the incinerator restarts?

HON. GERALD O’MALLEY: Mr. Speaker, I thank the honourable member opposite for the
question. I realize that the honourable member was down to the tar ponds, did visit the control room in the
tar ponds and, as I did, saw that there is minute-by-minute monitoring of the stack emissions on a computer
in the control room. The minute-by-minute emissions are funnelled back to the Department of the
Environment, so that they are always under the control of the Department of the Environment, to ensure that
the standards and the requirements are being met. While there, the honourable member did make the
suggestion that he has just made. He did make it to the operator on duty at the time. The operator reported
to me that that request was made, that somewhere a public monitor in downtown Cape Breton or somewhere
else should be giving those minute by minute readouts.

What we will do is indicate to the honourable member that that matter will be taken under
consideration if we find that there is an absolute lack of confidence on the part of the people that the standards
are being met. But they are being met, the honourable member knows that, he has seen the computer
printouts, as I have seen them. He also knows that they are transmitted, minute by minute, to the Department
of the Environment.

MR. HOLM: There is a supplementary, Mr. Speaker, because I didn’t get the commitment that I
wanted, unfortunately. I would just say to the minister, quite honestly, that yes, indeed, he, I expected, would
know that I was down meeting with representatives of Sydney Tar Ponds Clean Up Incorporated not only with
the operator, but with many members of staff, including the chair. This isn’t high-tech technology, this is not
something that is not done elsewhere, in fact, the incinerator that his seatmate turned down for Dartmouth,
the operators of that incinerator said that what I am proposing here would be very easy to do and it would be
very cost-effective, it wouldn’t cost much money. In fact, it is done in incinerators across North America and
other places, it is done in the new one up in Brantford, for example.

My question to the minister is quite simply this. Since it is not high-technology but is going to be
burning, by its very nature, hazardous waste, why are you not prepared to commit, firsthand, right now, the
modest expense of ensuring that that monitoring, that constant real time information will be made available
to the public, that means the citizens, that means the press, anybody who wants to see it to provide a sense
of confidence that, in fact, the test results are being met?

MR. O’MALLEY: Apparently, the honourable member opposite wasn’t listening when I gave my
response. (Interruption) Well, you didn’t listen when I gave the final component of my response. I outlined
that the monitoring, and the honourable member is aware, is taking place on a minute-by-minute basis. He
wants it in a public position so it can be viewed by the public at any point in time. Now, the monitoring of the
gas emissions requires a little bit of technological background and understanding to interpret the information
that is being put out. If it is found that that information would be of use to the general public and if when we
get our responses back to our new operating procedures, if that can be incorporated at a very reasonable cost
and if it is determined that it will be of benefit, it will be of significant benefit to the public, I would have no
difficulty in recommending that it occur.

MR. HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I have to say in all respect, the Department of the Environment isn’t
always seen as being a totally independent body. The Sydney Tar Ponds Clean Up Incorporated haven’t always
. . .

MR. SPEAKER: I don’t think any questions on the Department of the Environment are in order.
Please put your question.

MR. HOLM: Yes, I am, Mr. Speaker. I am attempting to. Now, I am not a scientist, I don’t claim to
be, but those results show key indicators and the key indicators you can very easy, it was explained to me and
I could understand it, so the average citizen could as well. Those key indicators will show the citizens if the
potential for those hazardous materials being emitted are in fact happening.

My question to the minister is quite simply this. If you want to restore confidence, if there is nothing
to hide, what possible reason could there be for not making that information public, available, on a minute-by-minute basis? Something which, quite honestly, I argued with the former government, and they wouldn’t do
and I am hoping that this minister will be a little bit more receptive to it. Will you agree to do that?

[12:00 p.m.]

MR. O’MALLEY: Mr. Speaker, I guess the honourable member opposite is not clearly understanding
English because I have indicated to him, and I think he is being awfully humble when he says, if he can
understand it all people can. That isn’t necessarily so. I think he is a very intelligent individual who can
interpret those results but the results, are there, they are monitored and I have every confidence in the
Department of the Environment. They have set the standards, the standards have been met and exceeded in
every category. The honourable member is aware of that.

The question he is asking me is, and I have answered twice, will I make it public, will I bring it forth
to the public. I have given him the commitment that if I can find that the public can clearly understand it and
it is of benefit to the public and if it is within the appropriate cost range of the project, then indeed I will do
what the honourable member suggests. I have said that twice.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Queens.

ERA: SCHOONER BLUENOSE FOUNDATION - STATUS

MR. JOHN LEEFE: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency.
Approximately nine months ago, the government conceived the Schooner Bluenose Foundation. Now, nine
months hence, it appears that that initiative is stillborn. I wonder if the minister could advise the House what
the status of the Schooner Bluenose Foundation is, including advising the House whether or not the members
who were appointed to that board are still with that board?

HON. ROBERT HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, I have to object to the word that is used here to describe
anything, notwithstanding a foundation comprised of people who came forward to serve their province in
terms of raising funds for the replacement of a vessel that is so precious to our people. However, the answer
to the member’s question is quite simply this, there is an accounting that is needed here.

There was an excellent editorial in the Chronicle-Herald the other day which indicated that there
were elements of the past that needed to be brought forward and tabled in this House, or at least given to the
people. What I intend to do in response to the member opposite is provide a full accounting for the existing
foundation, called Bluenose III, monies expended, personnel who were involved, where it stands at the
moment, including the relationship with the Bluenose II Preservation Trust, so that all Nova Scotians can be
reassured of what has taken place in the past and where we are going in the future.

MR. LEEFE: I thank the minister for his response and look forward to receiving that information.
The minister has indicated that he will be providing information with respect to Bluenose II Preservation
Trust and I wonder if the minister could advise the House if there is, in fact, a legal instrument, a contract or
something of that nature, which in writing lays out the obligations of the Bluenose II Preservation Trust with
respect to the Bluenose II and the obligations of the government with respect to its relationship with the
Bluenose II Preservation Trust?

MR. HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, in response to the most appropriate question from the honourable
member and to the editorial in the newspaper the other day written by a man or woman on the editorial board,
I would like to reassure him that that contract is being worked on, moment by moment. It is in final form; it
will be presented to this House as part of the package of where we have been and where we are going.

MR. LEEFE: Mr. Speaker, I want to make sure that I clearly understand what the minister is telling
me and I do not fault him, he is new on the job and very clearly is endeavouring, now it would seem, to fill
a void. Is the minister telling Nova Scotians that to date, irrespective of the fact that government has
announced that the Bluenose II Preservation Trust has been extended, very significant management
responsibilities for the Bluenose II, that there still is no written document in place with respect to the
relationship between the Bluenose II Preservation Trust and the province, that that document only now, after
these many months, is being drafted?

MR. HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, I understand the question and the tone of it and the purported shock
at not having a legal document, but quite clearly what has happened here is that extended to the trust has been
the ability to determine the extent of repair and to make sure that those repairs were carried out within
keeping of the inspection services of the Coast Guard of this nation.

The document to which I am referring is the legal relationship between the Economic Renewal
Agency and this minister and, therefore, this government, and the Preservation Trust, as to the operating and
maintenance schedules, all of the elements of the operation of the vessel. So, to this date there has been no
legal document, in terms of the repair and refit of this vessel. There will be a legal document, in terms of the
future of this vessel and the way in which the trust relates to the Government of Nova Scotia and my
department in particular. As I have indicated, that will be tabled here on the floor of the House.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings West.

FIN.: NATIVE RESERVES - GAMING AGREEMENT

MR. GEORGE MOODY: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the minister in charge of the Atlantic
Lottery Corporation. Yesterday in the House it was indicated to me that the deal with the Eskasoni native
community was permitted 200 VLTs on the premises. That is one for every six adults who reside on that
reservation.

I would ask the minister, is that the formula that is going to be used for all the native communities
around the province?

HON. ELEANOR NORRIE: Mr. Speaker, there is a proposal that has been given to all the native
bands and we are in consultation with all of them on all aspects of that proposal. There has been no formula
set out as yet.

MR. MOODY: Mr. Speaker, it is interesting, we could end up with more VLTs, something like 4,000
or 5,000, on that basis within the native communities, than we have around the province. I am asking the
minister, if they are in negotiations, based on the 200 that were allotted to Eskasoni, do they or do they not
have a formula for the rest of the province? It is simple, yes or no.

MRS. NORRIE: Mr. Speaker, I believe I just answered that. We are in the process of negotiating with
the native bands. We are working to be reasonable and I am sure they will be reasonable, so that there will
be an adequate number or a sufficient number or a reasonable number on the reservations to come to an
agreement with the reserves.

MR. MOODY: If that is the case, there may be more than the formula used at Eskasoni, we will end
up with more VLTs on the native reserves than we have elsewhere, with 5 per cent going to the government.
I would ask the minister, when does she think an agreement will be made with the Millbrook band, who are
threatening to block the 100-Series Highway between Halifax and Truro during the G-7? When do we expect
an agreement with that community?

MRS. NORRIE: Mr. Speaker, I am sure the member opposite is aware there are 13 bands across this
province, we are in negotiations with all of them. Besides the fact that Eskasoni has signed, we have also had
Horton sign; we are in the process of negotiations coming to a close with other bands. I am sure we can come
to an agreement that is suitable for all bands across the province. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants West.

WCB: APPEAL BD. - BACKLOG

MR. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Labour. With great haste,
back in January, we passed a new Workers’ Compensation Act. As part of that Workers’ Compensation Act,
as I understood it, there was some process that was going to be put in place that would take care of
approximately 2,000 cases that were pending at the Appeal Board. My question to the minister is, what has
he done to reduce that number and how long is it going to take to clean up that mess?

HON. GUY BROWN: Well, Mr. Speaker, the honourable member is absolutely right, we do have
over 2,000 there in a backlog that we are looking at. Some of them will likely go on to the Workers’
Compensation Appeal Tribunal and some to the Appeal Board.

I have personally met with the board on several occasions. I have met with Linda, in charge of the
Appeal Board. I have made it very clear that we, as a government, and the people of Nova Scotia are not very
happy with the delay. I had one come across my desk, Mr. Speaker, the other day that is four years old, a
delay. That is not a very fair and just system to put the workers - not only the workers but also the employers -
through that. We have asked that it be speeded up.

I hope to be able to tell you maybe in a couple of weeks, when I think the last one will be done, based
on receiving the medical reports on time, because they are not our decisions in total because there are some
that we are still waiting for medical reports that cannot be done. I would like to end 1995, personally, as the
minister - and I know the government has encouraged me, the Premier and everybody - to clean up that
backlog in 1995. Some of it has been growing since the mid-1980’s.

MR. RUSSELL: I understand, Mr. Speaker, that it is not an easy problem to solve, but nevertheless,
when we put that Act through, it was my interpretation that the written decisions that were required under
the old Act, would no longer be required. Now there were a number of cases, I understand about 300 or 400,
that have gone through the process, the appeal process was finished. The only thing holding up the person
getting a cheque was the fact that somebody had to write a written decision. Now, under the new legislation
that we have, it is my understanding we do not need that any more. Well, why don’t we look after those 400
first of all, just by mailing out letters along with the cheques to the people whose appeals have been
successful?

MR. BROWN: Mr. Speaker, I am not sure that every appeal is to deal with cheques. I think that
would be misleading Nova Scotians if we sent them all a letter saying they were going to get a cheque in the
mail. The honourable member is correct, there are about 400 with the Appeal Board and I have asked the
Appeal Board to have those cleaned up by September or October; the 400. The other ones will be done by the
internal appeal and hopefully, we can have the total backlog, which has existed there since the mid-1980’s,
which is nobody’s fault, I guess, except we never had enough staff to look after the appeals and they kept
growing every year and increasing. I want that cleaned up and as minister, that is my responsibility. If I do
not clean them up within the next year, then the people can blame me with regard to it, but in the meantime,
we are moving ahead and we hope to have decisions going out to the workers in this province from the
Workers’ Compensation Board and the Workers’ Compensation Appeal Board by 1995.

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I was not suggesting that a cheque go out to everybody. I was saying
that where the appeal was successful, then a cheque go out to those people. There are a large number, perhaps
it is not 400, but a large number has gone through the appeal process and the only hang-up between them and
a decision, either yes or no, is the fact that nobody has written that damn decision. Now, I am asking the
minister, why - now that we do not need that written decision - can’t somebody just get down and send all
those people the decision of the Appeal Board?

MR. BROWN: Mr. Speaker, those 400 that we are talking about - and let’s use the term 400, that
have gone to the Appeal Board, it may be 375, 425, but let’s use the number 400 - those are now in process.
I do not have the authority and the Workers’ Compensation Board do not have the authority to go in there and
direct that. The people who are the chair and the co-chairs of the Workers’ Compensation Appeal Board,
under the legislation, under their direction, which they are dealing with those claims, those 400 only, I want
those completed by September or October of this year. I want those letters out and I have met with the
chairman of the Appeal Board and I have given that sort of indication that I want them done and this
government wants them done and all the members in this House want them done.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party.

ENVIRON. - PITS & QUARRIES: PERMITS - MONITORING

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I would like to direct my question through you, sir, to the Minister
of the Environment. The Minister of the Environment will know that the Tidewater Quarry out in Waverley,
has a permit to extract 90,000 tons of aggregate a year but that at its operation, it extracted 218,000 tons. The
minister’s predecessor did the right thing, and I congratulate the now Minister for the Economic Renewal
Agency for, in fact, suspending that permit. That over-production only came known as a result of the efforts
and the watchful concern of the citizens in the area. My question to the minister is quite simply this, why isn’t
his department monitoring those kinds of operations to ensure that the pits and quarries are, in fact, operating
within the terms and limits prescribed by the permits? Why aren’t they monitoring that?

HON. WAYNE ADAMS: Mr. Speaker, it is my understanding that there are no specific terms of
reference throughout the industry of pits and quarries. I am well aware that there is one with regard to
Tidewater and it should be pointed out that Tidewater Construction Company imposed their own limits on
the tonnage that they were going to remove from that particular site.

[12:15 p.m.]

MR. HOLM: Mr. Speaker, it sounds as if what the minister is saying is that this particular company
sets whatever their limits are and then presumably those limits were then included in the permit. The permit
very clearly stated how much they were permitted to extract and if they exceeded that, then action could be
taken.

My question to the minister is quite simply this, especially in light of his answer. Is the minister
saying that it is the company’s responsibility to be monitoring themselves; in other words, the fox can guard
the henhouse?

MR. ADAMS: Mr. Speaker, I was making one point rather clear and that is, you asked the question
about the terms, conditions and limits, I wanted to make the point clear that only one company that I am
aware of in my reading, in my research, in my briefing, has a limit and that was suggested by the applicant
themselves, that they would live with that limit if all the other conditions were met. They were met, that was
the limit.

Yes, they were caught, if you will, in the act of over-extracting tonnage from the site. The stoppage
of operation was the penalty imposed.

MR. HOLM: Mr. Speaker, it is a third supplementary and I can’t go into the whole history of the
court case and all the battles over how that quarry got in there in the first place. But surely, clearly limits were
set to provide some protection for the homeowners in that area. Homeowners in that area report that they are
having their properties damaged and have and some of them can’t even get blast insurance as a result of the
damage that is done.

My question to the minister is quite simply this, will the minister guarantee that if and when that ever
is resolved and if that quarry is ever to reopen again, that his department will rigorously monitor to ensure
that the limits that are set are in fact being adhered to?

MR. ADAMS: Mr. Speaker, I will assure the honourable member and all members of the House that
we will ensure that we have in place proper ways in which we can measure the outtake of various pits and
quarries across the province.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings North.

AGRIC. - LIVESTOCK FARMERS: CHEAPER GRAINS IMPORTATION - ALLOW

MR. GEORGE ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Agriculture. Farmers
in Nova Scotia have borne the brunt of the federal budget with the elimination of the feed freight assistance,
with the elimination of the Agri-Food Agreement and closure of tree, fruit and poultry research at the
Kentville Research Station. Farmers were hard hit by the provincial budget of a few days ago. The
ramifications of this provincial budget will become clear in the weeks ahead.

My question to the minister is simply, with the added cost to livestock farmers purchasing feed
grains, have you asked the federal Minister of Agriculture to allow the importation of cheaper U.S. or
European grains?

HON. WAYNE GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, that is presently being considered. It has been talked about.
There are ongoing discussions with that at the present time, but nothing is finalized at this time. As I pointed
out to the honourable member yesterday, once our Nova Scotian position is clear regarding the FFA, we
certainly will provide that information.

MR. ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, again to the Minister of Agriculture. Have you asked the federal
Minister of Agriculture and the federal Minister of Transport to allow foreign ships to move grain into Halifax
so that Nova Scotia farmers can purchase grain delivered by water?

MR. GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, this concern has certainly been looked at, talked about in looking at
getting our grains offshore, either from Virginia or even South America. There are ongoing discussions
presently taking place. Again, we are looking at all options before the final recommendations will be brought
forward.

MR. SPEAKER: On a new question, the honourable member for Kings North.

AGRIC.: SCHOOL MILK PROG. - DISAGREEMENT

MR. GEORGE ARCHIBALD: On a new question, Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask the Minister of
Agriculture something else. My question for the Minister of Agriculture deals with the disagreement between
the Minister of Agriculture and his colleague, the Minister of Education, they seem to be at odds over an issue
which should, I would have presumed, been discussed at budget time some little while ago at a Cabinet
meeting. The issue is the School Milk Program which benefits all children going to school in Nova Scotia.
The money from the program has been reduced in the Department of Agriculture and there are thousands of
parents who are very concerned. Can the Minister of Agriculture tell these parents why he did not discuss this
change with the Minister of Education who is obviously, from his comments made yesterday, unaware that
the School Milk Program is going to be reduced?

HON. WAYNE GAUDET: The School Milk Program is certainly a very vital program for all
students throughout the schools in Nova Scotia. Presently, there are over 7 million milk servings provided to
our students. The total cost per serving is 43 cents; our subsidy on each container, on each serving is presently
13 cents which amounts basically to $900,000 that this government is putting in the program. The actual cost
per serving to the students is 30 cents. As the budget estimates have certainly indicated, we are looking at
bringing forward a $340,000 cut in the program. There are ongoing discussions with the industry and these
discussions have certainly been ongoing for the last couple of months. Nothing has been finalized. But
regarding the School Milk Program for the present school year, nothing will be affected but we are looking
at it for September 1st, and I certainly have shared this information with the Minister of Education.

MR. SPEAKER: We have 30 seconds remaining. The honourable member for Kings North.

MR. ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Education indicated yesterday that the School Milk
Program is okay. Does the Minister of Agriculture feel that the Minister of Education is taking from his
budget the money to fund the School Milk Program?

MR. GAUDET: As I have pointed out, there are ongoing discussions with the industry. Until we have
arrived with firm commitments for the upcoming school year which will begin in September, we are basically
in a position, we are still ongoing; as soon as we have firm commitments from the industry, we certainly will
keep the Department of Education informed as discussions proceed.

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

The honourable Premier.

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I wish to make a clarification in order that there is complete
understanding. I implied that the former Leader of the New Democratic Party did not submit her expenses
to the Executive Office. She doesn’t have to by law and it was not my intention to indicate that she doesn’t file
expenses. It was my intention to indicate that both she and the current Leader might follow all of the Cabinet
Ministers and the Leader of the Opposition, who do submit their monthly expenses to the Executive Office.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

MS. ALEXA MCDONOUGH: Mr. Speaker, I don’t know if that was by way of a point of order.

MR. SPEAKER: Yes, I believe it was.

MS. MCDONOUGH: I certainly appreciate the clarification from the Premier because he very
definitely hurled a strong insult across the floor that I fail to meet up with the requirement of filing with the
Executive Council. I have no hesitation at all about revealing, disclosing, filing whatever expense account
requirements there are. In fact, the Premier himself may not be aware of this but I put a lot of effort into
requiring better disclosure in the first place. I think the appropriate thing for the Premier to do, is if he feels
that is in order is to bring in the appropriate amendments that would require the broader disclosure. In the
meantime I would appreciate if the Premier would refrain from what was clearly an unfair and inaccurate
innuendo.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings North.

MR. GEORGE ARCHIBALD: I would like to make an introduction, with your permission. I would
like to introduce to all members of the House a very distinguished Nova Scotian sitting in our gallery today.
He is a constituent of mine and he is also the brother of the honourable member for Halifax Atlantic. So, I
would like to introduce to all members of the House, Dave Chisholm. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: Are there any further matters to be brought before the House before we advance to
Government Business?

GOVERNMENT BUSINESS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RICHARD MANN: Mr. Speaker, would you please call the order of business, Government
Motions.

GOVERNMENT MOTIONS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RICHARD MANN: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Resolution No. 21.

Res. No. 21, re Estimates - Committee of the Whole House on Supply - notice given Apr. 3/95 -
(Hon. B. Boudreau)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants West.

MR. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, it is good to be able to delve further into the budget
introduced in this House on Tuesday by the Minister of Finance. I described this budget on Tuesday in my
opening remarks as being a good news-bad news budget. I meant that truthfully because I think there are
elements in this budget that are good.

Certainly, I think the fact that the deficit on the operating account has been dramatically reduced is
a major step in the right direction. I think that naturally appeals to all Nova Scotians, whether they are blue
collar workers or are in management and own their own businesses. There is no doubt in my mind, anyway,
that fiscal stability within this province and a sound fiscal base are the solutions to sustaining the recovery
that is presently taking place.

But, Mr. Speaker, there are also some elements of this budget that I think are perhaps not so good.
First of all, I think we have to ask ourselves why is it that the Minister of Finance, in Government By Design,
for instance, can come forward showing a deficit in the current account this year of $98.9 million, $99 million
in round numbers, when he had projected a deficit of $297 million.

Mr. Speaker, you don’t have to be a chartered accountant to find the answer. The answer is simply
the fact that the western provinces, in particular the Provinces of Alberta and British Columbia, as well as the
Province of Ontario, have had an excellent year in 1993-94. Those provinces, fuelled by a dramatic increase
in the amount of their exports, had very good financial returns. In consequence, Nova Scotia, along with the
other so-called have-not provinces, have benefitted by a dramatic increase in the federal transfers for those
previous years. In fact, we benefitted in the last fiscal year by about $205 million.

I emphasize that figure of $205 million, because it happens to be $5 million more than what the
Finance Minister was able to reduce the deficit by. So in reality, if you have an extra $205 million in your left
pocket, it is very easy to take $200 million from that and transfer it into any other pocket you want. The
minister also had further windfalls, Mr. Speaker. As a matter of fact, he picked up, I think, an additional
almost $10 million, an increase over and above what he had estimated for corporate income tax, lotteries and
some of the other collections made through licenses and permits, et cetera.

So all in all, Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Finance had a very happy job. He just sat there, the money
came rolling in and he was able to say, look what a great job I am doing; not only are we reducing the deficit,
the program expenditures, but we are able to make a massive decrease in the deficit for the previous year. So,
there is no sleight-of-hand or there is no magic in doing that. Additionally, the minister was also able to cut
capital expenditures by $3 million and that is a move in the right direction as well.

[12:30 p.m.]

Nevertheless, Mr. Speaker, as you well know, it is a lot easier to chop capital expenditures than it
is to chop program expenditures. All you have to do is say, no, we will not build that section of highway, no,
we will not build that bridge, no, we will not build that addition to a school or what have you and you can save
yourself money on the capital side.

Now, in 1994, in this book, Government by Design, which came out in that year, the Minister of
Finance spoke at great length about a program called the Growth Dividend Fund. The Growth Dividend Fund
was designed so that whenever the province had an increase in revenues, a portion of that increase in revenues
would be returned to the taxpayers of this province - whether they be corporate or personal taxpayers of this
province - in the way of a growth dividend, in other words, a tax cut. So, it is no surprise that in this year’s
Government by Design, the Minister of Finance pats himself on the back when he says that the budget
provides $31 million in tax relief. Now, that sounds like a lot of money and, in fact, it is a lot of money. But,
however, is it what the minister promised, back in 1994? It is my contention that it is not.

In 1993-94, Mr. Speaker, the ordinary revenue of the province was $3.582 billion. In 1994-95, the
revenues of the province were $3.885 billion. What that translates to is an increase in revenue of $300 million,
between 1993-94 and 1994-95. Now, the formula that the minister provided for us, back in 1993-94, was that
20 per cent of that increase in revenues would be applied to tax reductions. Now, 20 per cent is simply one-fifth, which is very simple to figure out, and one-fifth of $300 million is $60 million. Well, what is the
Minister of Finance talking about, when he is patting himself on the back because he has provided $31 million
in tax relief, when he has already promised that the tax relief would be $60 million? In fact, he has reneged
on the deal. He has kept $30 million, that he had previous promised would go towards tax relief.

Then we look at what this tax relief is, Mr. Speaker, and it is a real education, I can tell you. First
of all, we are told in a budget bulletin that came out on April 11th, the largest tax break - that is, of this $31
million - is for low income senior citizens. Now, there is a laugh, but anyway, who will receive a tax
refundable tax credit of up to $300, to offset rising Pharmacare costs. Seniors with incomes of $15,000 or less
will receive the full $300.

Now, just ask yourself, the government is considering that to be tax relief. So, what are they doing?
They are saying to seniors, we are taking, I think it is, some $20 million-odd out of Pharmacare and we are
going to charge you for that $20 million through a program that is going to impose a premium for
Pharmacare. But for some of you who are low income, we will give you a break and will provide you with a
tax credit of $300. So that portion of the $31 million is not a tax break at all because the government has
simply chopped Pharmacare by a certain amount and then transferred it across to the Department of Finance
to be paid to low income seniors. That is a complete sham.

Other key tax changes in this budget include an extension of the $3,000 health services tax rebate
on building materials for first time homeowners. A good program, no doubt about it. In fact, in the
government that I was in we did this program during the 1980’s for eight years, from 1979 I believe right
through until 1987, we provided a sales tax break for first time home builders, a good program. What the
minister is saying though, is he is extending this program and this is going to be another tax break. Well, that
is a laugh. A program that is in place and you extend it, you cannot come out and say you have a brand new
tax break for the people of this province. That is certainly not good news. As I say, the minister is defaulting
on at least $30 million of tax relief that he had promised and perhaps even more because some of the money
is simply being changed from one pocket to another.

We are told in this budget that the total home care budget has been increased by more than $20
million to $44 million. I don’t want to get into line by line on the budget at this time but however, when we
come to look at the budget of the Minister of Health, we will certainly reveal that that figure is way out of line,
in fact, once again it is just a matter of transferring money that was previously paid by municipalities to the
provincial government.

Mr. Speaker, I would just like to speak about programs for seniors for a moment or two, if I may.
Among the largest losers in this budget are the senior citizens of this province. They are losing because of the
fact, first of all, that Pharmacare is being dramatically changed. Now the Minister of Health may well say,
but we have to do this to save the system. I am suggesting to the minister that perhaps some of the things that
the minister is doing, he does not have to do to save the system. Under this new program, every senior citizen
in the Province of Nova Scotia will pay a premium of $215 per year to receive a Pharmacare card. When they
receive that Pharmacare card it doesn’t entitle them to free drugs, it entitles them to 80 per cent of the cost
of the first $200 worth of medications that they buy.

Why are our Pharmacare expenses in this province so much higher than other provinces as the
Minister of Health has been so quick in advising us? We were advised by the Minister of Health that, in fact,
the seniors in this province use twice as many prescription drugs as they do in some other provinces. Senior
citizens don’t write prescriptions for themselves, the prescriptions have to be written by the medical fraternity.
I would suggest to you that before the minister embarked on this radical change to Pharmacare, he could have
taken a careful look and consulted with the medical fraternity to determine how the number of prescriptions
issued by the doctors in this province could be radically reduced. I think it is also perhaps a matter of
education among seniors themselves, particularly those who go to a doctor with an ache or a pain and expect
to get a prescription when, in many cases, perhaps no prescription is necessary.

So, Mr. Speaker, I think that with proper education, we could have done a large repair on the existing
Pharmacare Program, to have enabled it to carry on in the manner that it was, without whacking it to every
senior citizen to the tune of $215.

In June of this year, Madam Speaker, every senior in this province is going to recevie a bill for $215.
If there are two of them, a man and a wife and they are both senior citizens, that is $430. If they are the
average senior citizens, it is going to be hard for them to come up with $430. We don’t know what the
penalties are if seniors do not pay that $430, we are not told that, but we have been told that they do have to
pay it in order to receive Pharmacare benefits.

The Minister of Health has told us not to worry because those seniors who are on GIS will get a
refund of $300. That pays off their $215 that is required as a premium to the Pharmacare system, and it gives
them an additional $85 to offset some of the 20 per cent co-pay that they pay on the first $200 worth of
prescriptions.

That is all very well and good, Madam Speaker, but when you take a look at what the minister said,
this is going to be run by the Department of Finance and it will become part of the taxation portion of the
Department of Finance. In other words, for a senior to get a refund, they have to file an income tax return.

The argument that I make, Madam Speaker, is simply that in June of this year, if the senior pays
$215, they file an income tax return in 1996 for fiscal year 1995-96, it will probably be April before they get
that $300 refund. But in the interim, they - and I am assuming there is a man and a wife - have $430 which
they don’t have and will not receive back until April. So, they have to carry the cost of this program for a
period of almost a year, about 10 months, in round figures. I don’t think that too many seniors can afford to
do that. Certainly there are many seniors, as we well know, who do not submit income tax returns. Now they
are going to have to submit an income tax return in order to receive that rebate.

Madam Speaker, I will leave that for a little while and talk about the budget itself. I had a chance
yesterday to take a look at the budget document. I would first of all like to say to the Minister of Finance that
I think the budget presentation this year, that is the books that we have, there is tremendous increase in the
amount of information that is available to us, the Opposition and for the members of the government, to
analyze what the expenditures are.

I think the fact that we have the supplementary expenditure detail, that we have it in advance, is a
big plus. The fact that we are back to almost where we were two or three years ago in line by line, I think it
is an advance, at least for that government. I like the book, Government By Design, I think it is a good book.
I don’t believe everything that is in there but I think it is a good publication and certainly one that I am sure
future governments, even if they are of different political stripe, will probably carry on with because it does
provide for all concerned a guidepost for future years.

[12:45 p.m.]

However, having said that, I think we have to remember that this book, Government By Design, is
simply that. It is the best guess, if you will, by the Department of Finance as to what is going to occur in the
future.

For instance, we are told in the Government By Design that between now, this fiscal year with
revenues of $3.8874 billion, that by year 1997-98 we will have revenues of $3.811 billion. Now, you will
notice, Madam Speaker, that revenues are predicated to decrease over the next three years. In other words,
our revenues are decreasing from this year of $3.887 billion down $3.811 billion which is a decrease of about
$76 million over the next three years. That is the best guess of the Department of Finance as to what is going
to happen with regard to revenues.

The minister tells us that he has included in these figures of revenue, in his revenue figures the loss
under EPF and we are going to lose something in the order of about $300 million, maybe $320 million,
somewhere around that figure over the next three fiscal years, yes, as the minister says, this year plus the next
three fiscal years. When we look at this number for running through to year 1998-99, that is the year, we find
that the minister has to find in additional revenues $300 million plus what he is showing here as being a
natural increase of $6 million. In other words, between now and 1998-99, the minister is predicting that
revenues in the Province of Nova Scotia will increase by $300 million to absorb that decrease in federal
transfers.

If we ignore this year, which was an aberration, when the minister got the sudden windfall of a $200
million, if you ignore that, Madam Speaker, and you look at the history of the increases in revenues,
historically - take over the last seven or eight years you go back to whenever you want - revenues will increase
something in the order of about 2 per cent per year, that is around about the average. Some years they may
balloon, some years they may crash but you are looking at something like about 2 per cent per year.

So, I would suggest that the increase in revenues between now and 1999 is not going to be something
in the order of $300 billion, unless we have another aberration and the economy just takes off and expands
out of sight. That would indeed be great news for the province, it would be just super news. However, I don’t
think in my heart of hearts that is going to happen and I don’t think the Minister of Finance thinks that is
going to happen because he is a very conservative person. So, that, what I am interested in, is where are these
additional dollars coming from for revenues?

You can get revenues in two ways, you can get it as a gift from the federal government, in other
words they increase EPF, they increase equalization and prior years adjustments and what have you. You can
get it that way or else you raise taxes. There is a third one, you could open another casino. However,
(Interruption) Well, Windsor wouldn’t be a bad location. (Laughter)

AN HON. MEMBER: The member is on record as being for a casino in Windsor.

MR. RUSSELL: Madam Speaker, the only way that the minister really has of achieving that kind
of an increase in revenues, unless he had a special crystal ball, is by increasing taxes. When we get into the
Budget Book itself and we get into the estimates of the Minister of Finance, it will be interesting to find out
from the minister exactly how he is going to achieve these increases in revenues, if indeed he has said that
we are not going to have any increases in taxes.

Madam Speaker is telling me that I have five minutes and I will use that five minutes to advise the
members of this House that while this might look like a good news budget, actually if you look at it as a good
news budget, it is even better than what is portrayed here. I do not believe, quite frankly, that at the end of
this fiscal year that we are going to have a deficit of $28.1 million, I think that is flim-flam. I think that what
this minister has in mind, he has a good figure there and that is enough to make him feel good and the people
of Nova Scotia feel good this year but next March he will be standing in his place and he will say, look at what
we have done, our revenues have just taken off again. You know what, Madam Speaker, now we find that our
deficit for this year is not a deficit at all, it is around about $100 million surplus and he is crossing his fingers.
But he knows that there is going to be a surplus this fiscal year and I say that is very good but I am saying that
he should have shown it in the book.

The Minister of Finance has a hidden agenda, in fact, this government has a hidden agenda. They
are going to come forward next year with a surplus and then guess what they are going to do? They are going
to bring in a budget and they are going to go to the polls. Thank you, Madam Speaker.

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

MS. ALEXA MCDONOUGH: Madam Speaker, I welcome the opportunity of making some
comments in response to the Budget Address delivered by the Minister of Finance earlier this week. I must
say that one of the unhappy aspects about being in the role of an Opposition Critic is that one not only gets
criticized by other people for seeming always to criticize, always to be finding what is wrong with what the
government is doing and I think one becomes somewhat tired of that role oneself, although it is the nature
of the role of an Opposition Critic to be focusing on what the government is not doing in terms of its policy
choices, in terms of its failure to be accountable and so on.

Of course, the situation is that not all that the government does is deserving of criticism. I guess one
of the things I have learned in the 14 years I have been in this House is that if one does from time to time have
a genuine basis for congratulating the government or praising the government - and that does happen from
time to time, it doesn’t happen often enough - but when one extends that positive commentary then it is a
certain way of never getting any coverage on what one does. So, it is a bit of dilemma that an Opposition
Critic faces. The Minister of Finance just realizes that I am actually going to say something positive and he
wants everybody to be quiet and listen because it doesn’t happen very often.

In any case, I do want, at the outset, to say that not everything contained in this budget is deserving
of criticism. There are, in fact, some positive measures in the budget and I want to touch on a couple of them
before I get on to express some very major areas of concern and some major reservations that I have about
what the budget does and does not contain.

The first thing that I want to do is acknowledge the fact that I think the presentation of the budget
materials this year is more satisfactory. It is more comprehensive, it is more understandable and I do not know
whether it is the Minister of Finance that should be congratulated or his senior officials. I guess I will take
a chance and congratulate all of them and recognize that it is a partnership between the minister and his staff.
In any case, I think the provision of the supplementary expenditure details accompanying the budget was very
welcome, because, of course, a lot of the global figures really do not mean a lot and they are not very amenable
to analysis, until you have some of the more detailed expenditures set out. It was frustrating, to say the least,
last year, to get that information only in dribs and drabs and then not in as much detail or as satisfactory a
format as presented this year. So, I want to say that I appreciate that and, I think, more importantly really,
that Nova Scotians trying to make sense out of the budget, who are not necessarily caught up in the legislative
process but have genuine concerns that they want to explore in the budget, will find it easier to understand
and analyze.

I know the government engaged in a flurry of self-congratulations about the fact that the budget was
on Internet and I must say, I think that is a welcome development. It might be exaggerated a little, to think
that this is the key to giving Nova Scotians access, when the government’s own statistics, contained in
Government By Design, make it clear that less than 4 per cent of the public have access to that means of
communication. But I think it is welcome and it is sort of a sign of the times, that that kind of new medium
is being made available and I congratulate the government for it.

I want to say that I think the government’s recognition in this budget of the absolute, critical
importance of cultural industries is very welcome. I think the further measures to reinforce the strength of our
film industry are welcome. It is truly one of the new areas of significant growth in the province and I think
the government has done well to reinforce that and add additional budgetary measures that will further
enhance our film industry and, also, give appropriate recognition, by having brought in the exemptions on
sales tax for cultural performers, is an appropriate recognition of how very key to a truly sustainable economy
and one that recognizes how important cultural industries are, in terms of economic impact, but also how
important cultural industries are in terms of our defining ourselves, of our expressing ourselves as a society.
I congratulate the minister for having given that appropriate recognition.

I think the final thing, about which I want to make a brief mention, is a good beginning - and I say
that sincerely - in the government’s decision to move towards the inclusion of some social indicators. I think
one of the real concerns, certainly that I have, and, I think, a great many people have, with the current
direction of both the federal government and of this provincial government, is the almost exclusive
preoccupation with the notion that the only thing that really matters is what the budget impact is on the deficit
and the debt. Of course, when one says that, one immediately invites from the Minister of Finance, and others
who worship at that altar, comments about how you must think that the debt and the deficit do not matter, you
must think that it is unimportant, if you are rejecting the notion that it should be the exclusive measure of
whether a budget is a success or a failure.

Well, that is a completely absurd notion as well, surely, Madam Speaker, and I think what I want
to do is reinforce the suggestion that the government is making in the Government By Design document that,
of course, it is not acceptable, it is not any kind of display of real leadership to become so totally preoccupied
with deficit reduction, that one fails to recognize that there are a great many other very important indicators.
That measuring the health of the province has to constitute more than just those measures of the narrow
concept of the financial health of the province.

[1:00 p.m.]

That is a concept that my Leader referred to in his Address in Reply to the Speech from the Throne
and that we, I guess, will repeatedly refer to because we think that it makes sense, we think that it expresses
more accurately what most Nova Scotians look to the government for in the way of balance. That is in
addition to addressing the very real problems that we have with the financial deficit and with the accumulated
debt that we have to recognize that the policy choices that the government makes in the budget and through
other means, either increase or decrease the health deficit. The policy choices the government makes either
increase or decrease the environmental deficit. Heaven knows we have a severe environmental deficit in this
province. The choices that this government makes through its various public policy choices, budgetary and
otherwise, either increases or decreases the social deficit.

I guess, Madam Speaker, that it is fair to say, and I mean this in a positive way, that it is some kind
of a recognition of that that the government has been too narrow in its exclusive preoccupation with the fiscal
deficit that in this budget documentation there has been the introduction of the concept of social responsibility
with a number of very important indicators identified. I think it is welcome that the government has seen fit
to say, here is where we are now, let’s be truthful about it in terms of a whole range of educational indicators,
of environmental indicators and social indicators and so on. Here is what we would aim to achieve by the year
2000 and here is where we would hope to be five years beyond that. So, that you have some sense that there
are, in fact, some targets. There are some goals and objectives and then the government is prepared to be
evaluated and measured in relation to what kind of progress is made on those targets. I mean it genuinely,
when I say that is very welcome.

I don’t want to turn around and appear to be taking that compliment away with the other hand when
I say this, but I do think that it is only a beginning and that one of the things that it is very important that the
government work on and, I assume, will be receptive to, are suggestions for the inclusion of some of those
indicators that are not now identified in the three pages of various indicators for healthier families,
communities, environment and so on.

I want to just mention three - not to say this is also totally comprehensive - but I think on a number
of occasions this government, particularly the Minister of Justice and I give him credit for this, has stated very
clearly that this government has adopted a policy of zero tolerance of violence against women. In fact, zero
tolerance of family violence, period. I think it is disappointing, frankly, that there is no attempt as yet, to
really set out what the government would view as realistic targets and provide for some measure towards that.
I hope that will be included in the future. I am not saying it is easy to do but it is not easy to measure any of
these particular social or environmental phenomena.

Secondly, Madam Speaker, I personally was gratified - I don’t think it means a lot, but I think it is
important - that it is on the public record as an unanimous resolve of all members of this House, that early
in this session, we adopted here a resolution to commit ourselves to the eradication of poverty in this province.
I think it is regrettable that there is no indicator among those social objectives that the government has seen
fit, so far, to attempt to quantify, in order to measure progress, that there is no indicator of poverty, not of
child poverty or of societal poverty.

The reality is that in this province today there are 48,000 children living in poverty, 48,000 children
who do not have the basic necessities of life that based on any reasonable notion of the bare minimum that
we ought to be able to provide to children in our society, come up short. I hope that by the time next year’s
budget documentation is released, there will be an accurate accounting of both where we are now with that,
which is absolutely appalling. If I say it is shocking, people will start to laugh at my use of language but I
mean it genuinely. I don’t think there is a single Nova Scotian who doesn’t find it completely unacceptable
that there are 48,000 children living in poverty in this province today. According to the National Council on
Welfare, there are 147,000 Nova Scotians in total living in poverty. Surely the incidence of poverty is one of
the indicators that this government needs to include, if it is genuinely committed to the eradication of poverty.

Finally, Madam Speaker, I make this point not just in passing but I make this point because I think
it really does go to the heart of what would be our most strenuous criticism about this budget and about this
government’s commitments, as set out in the budget; that is the fact that the government has not included
among the indicators which they want to set out in order to measure progress and state certain objectives, no
inclusion of targets and objectives for levels of employment in this province.

 

 

Now I know the minister can point in the budget documentation to the very last page -I think the last
two pages - of the Budget Address Book where we have the current statistics about the numbers of Nova
Scotians employed and the numbers of Nova Scotians unemployed. Nowhere do we have a serious
commitment by this government to state boldly and in a way that the government is prepared to back up with
solid policies, some kind of target for the levels of employment and unemployment which this government
is prepared to turn its attention to, to put its shoulder to the wheel to try to attain, and to say these are among
the most important objectives on which we expect to be judged and we are prepared to be accountable for
them.

It strikes me that surely it would be consistent with the mandate that this government won from Nova
Scotians in 1993 and the commitment they made, which they themselves said was their top priority
commitment, and I think it is fair to say the single greatest reason why the largest number of Nova Scotians
voted for this government, that it made a very aggressive commitment to put 56,000 Nova Scotians back to
work - perhaps it was 57,000 Nova Scotians back to work.

I note that the Minister of Finance is required to leave the Chamber and he has extended the courtesy
of sending a note to indicate that a prior commitment makes it necessary for him to do so. I just want him to
know that I don’t take personal offence. I am sure he will read with careful attention everything I say in my
remaining comments and, more importantly, he will want to act upon them to the best of his ability. I
appreciate the minister making me aware of that fact.

Just to finish on this point about the inclusion of the indicators for employment and unemployment
levels, which this government is prepared to seriously target and prepared to see as fair measure of the
successes or failures of their economic policies. The point I want to make is that had the government on day
one and year one and since it took office in May 1993 turned its attention with the same vigour and the same
enthusiasm to addressing the problem of unemployment that they have seen fit to do with respect to
addressing in the narrowest sense the notion of the fiscal deficit, then I think we would be at a very different
point today in this province with respect to the health of our economy and with respect to the levels of
employment of Nova Scotians.

I do not buy the general proposition, and I think it is the central proposition of this budget, that
because of the fiscal deficit, because of the financial nightmare that this government has inherited from the
previous Tory Government - and I accept that that is so, that is what has happened, they have inherited a
financial nightmare - I do not accept the proposition that because of the financial nightmare there is very little
that we can really do about improving the economy; there is very little that we can do about improving the
quality of life of Nova Scotians; there is very little that we can do about tackling our environmental deficit.

I think that if this government had not bought so indiscriminately the right wing agenda that doesn’t
just stop with saying we haven’t got money to do what needs to be done, it goes further and it says, we are
going to use the opportunity and the excuse that fiscal deficits give us to drastically and fundamentally
overhaul and transform government, because less government is better government. We have bought hook,
line and sinker the notion that if there is anybody out there in the business community who can make big
bucks off of what we are now attempting to do within the democratic framework of modern government, then
we are going to change things. So, that becomes the objective and that becomes the outcome. I don’t buy the
notion that that is leadership and I know one thing for sure, that that is not the kind of leadership that Nova
Scotians were looking for when they elected this government because this government sold themselves on the
basis of doing exactly the opposite of that.

Madam Speaker, that brings me to the government’s commitment to so-called comprehensive
program review. On the face of it, the notion that the government is going to review all existing programs to
make sure they are being delivered as effectively and efficiently as possible, is a very sensible thing to do. How
could anybody argue against it? In fact, I thought that this government had spent its first two years in office -
it is coming up to completion of its first two years in office - doing exactly that.

That is what this government told us it was doing. That is what this government used as justification
for letting out hundreds of thousands, well over a million dollars worth of consulting contracts to their so-called partners in the private consulting world, to do exactly that. That is what we thought the management
audits were all about. So, it doesn’t exactly come as some kind of news in this budget to say that we ought to
be reviewing programs and services and deciding whether they are being offered in the most cost-effective
way. If they are not, we ought to be changing them. It almost seems pathetic that you would have to say that
in a budget and celebrate it as some shiny new policy.

What concerns me about this government’s notion of what that comprehensive program review ought
to be all about is that it is quite clear, again, that this government is buying into the very Americanized notion
of what the role of government ought to be. It is really the notion of sort of modern government according to
Ted Garber and Peter Drucker. It is therefore not an accident, I think, that the Minister of Finance saw fit to
quote directly from Peter Drucker when he said, “It is always amazing how many of the things we do will
never be missed and nothing is less productive than to make more efficient what should not be done at all.”.

[1:15 p.m.]

I think that this raises some very important questions that the government failed to asked itself. What
concerns me is that these are the questions that I think the government is not going to be asking itself as it
proceeds further down that road of hacking and slashing and indiscriminately downsizing government based
on the notion that if there are business interests out there that can make a buck off it, then we ought to whip
it out from under the government’s mandate and put it in the so-called private sector where it belongs.

That is a very American notion of modern government but I don’t think it is the notion of modern
government that Nova Scotians embrace and it is not the notion of modern government that I think
Canadians, by and large, cherish and, in fact, celebrate that we view in a way fundamentally different from
that of our American neighbours.

I think the question that needs to be asked (Interruption) Perhaps this minister is going to try to
answer it for me.

HON. ROBERT HARRISON: A question, Madam Speaker. The honourable colleague across the
floor has introduced the concept of indiscriminate downsizing of public service. There is an ideology within
the United States now represented by at least one of those authors that purports to do just that. It looks at
quantity of public service rather than quality of public service and I would agree with the honourable member
that Canadians are defined by the essence of high quality and excellent public service.

MS. MCDONOUGH: The question, Madam Speaker?

MR. HARRISON: The question is whether she differentiates between one of those authors that in
fact disputes the American ideology about indiscriminate cutting based on quantity, in terms of Mr. Drucker,
and the redefining of essential Canadian, it could easily be interpreted, Canadian public service? She puts both
of them in the same camp but in fact one of the authors talks very differently than the other. I wonder if she
accepts one position over the other in this debate?

MS. MCDONOUGH: Madam Speaker, I would be happy to enter into a full ranging debate with the
minister on this topic and perhaps we could sit down and have a real good discussion both about Drucker’s
and about Gabler’s view of the world. But I am not prepared to devote my Budget Address to that because my
objection is precisely that this government has become so captive to a view that is anathema to our notion
about how we want to build a society and how we want government to play a role in that society that that is
exactly my point.

I think, and if I could proceed, I think that it is just fine for some organizational expert to say, you
would be amazed at how many things would never be missed, in conducting a comprehensive program review.
But surely the question of what it is that people value or don’t value is a question to be answered, not by some
hot shot from some other culture and some other country that observes a different set of values, but rather
those are questions that should be asked by Nova Scotians and answered by Nova Scotians and the Cabinet
Ministers that are addressing those questions have to be accountable for the results, within that context of
what are those values that Nova Scotians hold.

I don’t know whether these organizational hot shots and these management consultants and these
gimmicky new kinds of . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: Spin doctors.

MS. MCDONOUGH: Well, spin doctors is a slightly different concept. But whether they even begin
to appreciate what it is that is so different about our view of the world, but one thing I do know is that a
number of different things that this government has decided are not going to be missed by Nova Scotians are
things that there are an awful lot of Nova Scotians who see differently.

So, when we have the government saying, well, we are going to overhaul our Pharmacare system and
we are going to do a hard sell to Nova Scotians, on the basis that they are not going to miss the extra $215
from their pockets that they have to put down as a premium, a tax, that is what it is. I had a call from a senior
citizen today who basically said, this isn’t pie in the sky stuff, this is more like mud in the eye stuff. This is
a senior who is calling to say, what do they think, that I am stupid? I am being asked to pay a tax now for my
prescription drugs, whether I take them or not. Nobody can pretend that is a universal program.

Madam Speaker, the point is that the Peter Druckers of the world might say that people are not going
to miss that extra $215 or they are not going to miss the $415 they are going to have to put out, through both
the premium and the co-pay, but I think what they fail to understand and what I guess I am pleading with this
government to understand is there is more to our Pharmacare Program than the dollars and cents. The
Pharmacare Program is not about who is going to pay how many dollars for the prescription drugs they need,
it is about a concept of community, of caring and sharing for one another that says when elderly people
become sick, they should not have to be faced with the additional problem, the additional concern, the
additional penalty of having to come up with extra dollars when it hits.

Madam Speaker, that is why we brought in those kinds of universal programs in the first place. It
is even more true of our Medicare system. The reason we brought in that kind of a program in the first place
is not because it is free, there is no medical care that is free, there is no health service that is free, we brought
in those programs because we said that people should share the risk of illness and the costs associated with
it should be shared accordingly.

Madam Speaker, may I ask how much longer I have? My colleague wanted to check on that.

MADAM SPEAKER: Yes, you have until 1:52 p.m. on this clock.

MS. MCDONOUGH: Thank you. Madam Speaker, I have to say that when the government sums
up its notion of a comprehensive program with the words, and I quote directly from the Budget Address; “We
are taking stock, and when we’re done, the inventory will be reduced.”.

It seems to me quite clear, Madam Speaker, that there is a poverty of the outlook of this government
about the possibilities for government.

MADAM SPEAKER: Would the honourable member agree to take a question?

MS. MCDONOUGH: Madam Speaker, I don’t mind taking a question but I don’t want to hear
another speech on the latest American guru, so let the minister have a try.

HON. ROBERT HARRISON: Madam Speaker, I think we have agreed that there are different
American gurus on the issue of essential public service. I would like to ask this question very simply and
quickly; would it be compassionate in the honourable member’s eyes to have a program of Pharmacare that
provides universal access, protection from catastrophic drug costs, that is a sustainable program and that
benefits low income seniors. Is there a problem somewhere? Is there something we are missing here in terms
of a definition of compassion?

MS. MCDONOUGH: Madam Speaker, that minister helps to make my point that once you start
talking about low income seniors it is the thin edge of the wedge. It is the beginning of the unravelling process
of any universal program. Anybody who has studied the evolution of social policy and anyone who has
experienced what it means to be stigmatized as a low income senior and then be on the receiving end of the
means test and the needs test and all of that stuff understands the difference between a universal program
which says if you have a legitimate and a genuine medical need for prescription drugs those needs will be met
period.

You don’t have to say I want to appeal to the charity and the compassion of this minister as a way
of having my drug needs met, that is the crux of the debate. I don’t believe for one single minute that Peter
Drucker and Ted Gabler or any of those other American gurus that have become the policy determinants of
this government, you understand the difference. That is exactly what it means to be Canadian, to say, not
pretend the drugs are free, that is not the point, but to recognize that every senior citizen by virtue of being
a senior citizen shall receive the drugs that they require.

I think the thing that infuriated me most and I know that it was a great insult to a lot of senior
citizens was to have the Minister of Health hold a press conference where he brought in a great big huge
plastic bag filled with prescription drugs and said here is the kind of over-prescribing that is going on and
therefore here is the kind of cutting and slashing of the Pharmacare Program that is going to take place to deal
with those excessive costs. That is a non-sequitur. That is a situation of trying to lay blame on seniors for over-prescribing. If that press conference had been about the problem of over-prescribing and how to deal with that
then it would have been perfectly valid to bring in that great big plastic bag stuffed full of medications. But,
it should have been accompanied by the details not of how new penalties for the cost of drugs are going to be
borne by seniors but it should have been followed by the details of what is going to be done to tackle the
problem of over-prescribing.

To make the obvious statement yet again, no seniors in this province do their own prescribing. It is
a problem that has to be tackled as a drug utilization management problem, it has to involve those who are
guilty of the over-prescribing and it has to involve a monitoring system that if I dare say so myself, I don’t
think can just be left in the hands of doctors, I think there have to be some checks and balances there because
I don’t think doctors are particularly well-known for dealing in tough ways with problems that arise within
their own occupational group.

The point I am making and we could go right through the budget and we will have a chance to do
that as we do it on a detailed basis. This Minister of Economic Development could not have better helped
illustrate that it is not a question of compassion or charity when it comes to making sure that every senior as
of right based on need gets their drugs, based on their health care needs not based on the financial
circumstances in which they happen to find themselves.

We supposedly live in a democratic society where the taxation system is the instrument for ensuring
that these costs are borne in the most fair way, in the most dignified way, in the most humane way and that
it does not result in stigmatizing and labelling seniors. If you earn $15,000 here is what you get, if you earn
over $18,000 there is what you get. You know what else, Madam Speaker, a lot of that in addition to being
stigmatizing for the beneficiaries is highly inefficient. It is wasteful, it is an administrative nightmare. In the
name of Heavens, what is wrong with this government that it does not understand that that is why we got into
these programs in the first place?

[1:30 p.m.]

So, Madam Speaker, I do not want to dwell unduly on that particular example, but I have to say, on
the same subject, that I was particularly distressed by the editorial in today’s Halifax Chronicle-Herald, dealing
with the broader issue of what is happening with health care funding and, more broadly still, the Canadian
health and social transfer. I could not agree more strongly with the point made in that editorial that, while
we have a Health Minister going around the country upholding the five important principles of Medicare, we
have the Finance Minister of this country literally pounding away at the foundations of that Medicare system
and its five founding principles, with a sledgehammer. I completely agree with the description that that is
what is happening. But I have to say that I find about this editorial the same thing that I find distressing about
this budget and that is the notion that it is somehow out of fashion, out of date, outmoded and no longer
attainable for us to talk about a society where we do make provisions to meet the basic requirements for health
care through a universal system.

The editorial talks about it in terms of it being some kind of ideological nonsense to still be talking
about those universal principles on which our Medicare system is founded. It talks about how the Health
Minister if out of touch, if she thinks you can still maintain that kind of a system. It talks about how this is
some kind of Old Testament, I guess, sort of sentimentality. Well, I do not want to bring religion into it,
Madam Speaker, but I have to say that if I have to choose between the principles of the Old Testament and
the principles of the right wing idealogues, I will go with the Old Testament principles any time, thank you.
Because what those Old Testament principles have to do with, is recognizing that there is something obscene
about saying that people can only expect to have their basic health needs met if they are going to pay penalties,
if they are going to pay premiums, if they are going to reach into their own pockets to pay, as if nobody has
dealt realistically with the fact that health care is not free. That is ridiculous. Nobody ever said health care
was free.

There are a lot of very fundamental reforms in our health care system that are badly needed, but what
this government has chosen to do to date, is mouth all the words about health care reform and do practically
none of the things that are needed to actually tackle health care reform while it, instead, introduces a number
of health cost reduction measures that have only to do with the health of the balance sheet that happens to be
the responsibility of this government and not very much to do with the health of individual Nova Scotians,
with the health of families, with the health of communities.

That is why, Madam Speaker, I come back to making the point that, fundamentally, what a budget
is, is a set of choices that convey what your vision of the society is. What a budget is, is a clear declaration
of what your priorities are. When we give up the notion that that is what a budget is all about and substitute
instead the idea that a budget is only about crunching numbers and only about the health of the balance sheet,
then I don’t know what makes this government think that people are going to have any kind of healthy respect
for democracy.

Maybe Peter Drucker thinks that School Milk Programs are a frill that we can do without. Maybe,
Peter Drucker thinks that we would not even miss the School Milk Program for kids living in poverty. Well,
I have to say, Madam Speaker, that I don’t think very many Nova Scotians share that view of what matters
and doesn’t matter in our society. So one has to ask the question, who is it who is going to miss the School
Milk Program? I will tell you who is going to miss it, the children whose basic nutritional needs are surely
one of the top priority claims that any government should be making if they are serious about health
promotion and prevention, if they are serious about ensuring that every kid gets a fair chance at an education
and if they are at all sincere about the eradication of poverty. That is who is going to miss the School Milk
Program.

There is nothing in this budget at all to move on a commitment that has been out there before the
public, year after year, and still never met, which is technical aids for Nova Scotians, especially for children
who require them.

There may be some who say, well, we would not miss that program, we don’t miss that program. That
is true, Madam Speaker, but the majority of Nova Scotians don’t miss the fact that we don’t have a proper
program to provide technical aids to children. But I will tell you who misses them, the children whose access
to education, whose access to participating in community life, whose access to just to be able to function as
best they are able, is blocked and barred and frustrated by the failure to provide those technical aids.

We have had some minimal provisions in this province for accessible transportation for the physically
handicapped, for the mobility impaired. Who is going to miss the program that is getting cut back by this
government? Not the majority of Nova Scotians, that is true. If you take a vote on it, are you going to miss
the accessible transportation that has been provided to some disabled persons in this province? The majority
of Nova Scotians, probably 90 per cent, are going to say no, I am not going to miss it. They don’t depend on
it to get to the doctor or to a friend’s funeral or to get out to participate in a continuing education program.
But the ones for whom it is not provided, who are going to do without it, are going to miss it, you can be darn
sure.

Is that the concern of the other 90 per cent of the population or isn’t it? I say, that in a democratic
society that supposedly cares about all its members, including the significant minority of Nova Scotians who
have physical disabilities, that we have to do better than that. That we can’t measure this budget or the
performance of this government on such narrow indicators, as are suggested to us by the American consultants
and the American business tycoons, who don’t even understand that concept of solidarity and sharing and
caring for one another.

The American model that is being shoved down our throat, is a model that is such a spectacular
failure, that in the last three years alone, the indicator that we should be looking at with very great care is the
indicator of how many Americans have gone from having some kind of health care benefits to having none
over the last three years. Do you know how many that is, Mr. Speaker? From 1989 to 1993, the number of
Americans for whom there was no basic health provision went from 36.1 million to 40.8 million people. Is
that why we are emulating the American model, because we want to increase the numbers of seniors for whom
there is no basic health care provision? I don’t think so. Is that some outmoded, old fashioned idea? It is an
idea that has been jeopardized by financial mismanagement, by wasteful patronage practices but I don’t buy
that it is some unworkable, unattainable objective in a province and in a country that is rich with resources
and that does understand the difference between the charity model and between some comprehensive model
of universal program provision.

I suppose it is what you would expect of Opposition members to say that this budget is a failure but
the indicators are there. While the government is congratulating itself and celebrating the supposed
improvement in the economic performance of this government, they themselves have not been able to disguise
the truth, to disguise the fact that individual income tax revenues, for example, this year are down by $45
million. And juxtaposed with that is the fact that corporate income tax revenues have increased by some $20
million.

I don’t want to engage in the folly of saying that is not a good thing at all. I am not saying that. But
when it comes down to the tough choices that a government has to face when we are working under such
severe financial constraints, how does the government decide that it is more of a priority to give healthy,
profitable businesses more tax breaks than it is a priority to give children who require it a School Milk
Program and senior citizens who require it the assurance on an even-handed basis that their prescription drugs
will be met without being stigmatized by all sorts of tests of income and all the rest of it? That is what this
government has chosen to make its priority.

Even the President of the Federation of Independent Business has said that he doesn’t think a number
of those additional tax holidays, those additional tax deductions for businesses are what business was looking
for particularly. In fact, it is well known that most of them don’t even work and what better indication could
you have of that than the fact that Nova Scotia now has the lowest corporate tax rate in the country. If having
the lowest corporate tax rate in the country works for attracting businesses, stimulating businesses, building
businesses, wouldn’t we have the healthiest economy in the country with respect to the results of that policy?

Even the President of the Federation of Independent Business and we don’t often agree on a lot of
things, I think had a good point when he said, I don’t think those extra tax breaks for business are what
business were looking for. Now what we might disagree on is he might take the view, I think he did, he
expressed this view, that it should go directly on the deficit. Do you know what? I will even agree with him
on that, that it should have gone directly on the deficit. He would say it should have gone directly on the
financial deficit. I would say it should have gone directly on the human deficit, the environmental deficit, the
social deficit, the health deficit, but that is what a Budget Address is, it is a set of priorities.

[1:45 p.m.]

I haven’t got time to go through how misplaced and misguided some of the other priorities are. One
can’t let pass the fact that this government supposedly committed to a shift from an institutionally based health
care system to a community-based health care system has done half the job, they have hacked out of the system
in less than two years over $100 million in hospital costs but have they reoriented? Have they reallocated the
dollars to ensure that the community-based services are there, those services that were absolutely
recommended as fundamental building blocks by the Blueprint Committee? No, they haven’t chosen to do that.
They have chosen to misrepresent the number of dollars that are going to be infused into the home care
system. They have said that over last year’s estimates by this government, this year’s estimates for home care
expenditures are going to double.

If your aim is to deceive you could make that kind of statement and get away with it. The point of
the budget is supposed to be to indicate both what your priorities are and how you are going to get there. There
is no way, when the government pretends that its allocation of home care dollars is going to be a net increase
of $22 million that we are going to get to where we need to be to even make up for the home care deficit that
was already there before you started shutting down on hospital beds and hospital services and introducing a
whole range of policies that throws people into their homes without any kind of proper in-home support, home
nursing or any other of the range of home care services that are desperately needed.

This is the Party that went all over the province during the election campaign in 1993 and said, the
home care system now is inaccessible, unavailable, it is not comprehensive, it is not coordinated and yet this
government hasn’t even begun to put a single dollar into making up for that deficit before it has created an
even bigger deficit by dumping people out of hospital beds and health care institutions into homes where there
are no new provisions whatsoever. The health care expenditures are not the only area in which there is an
active deception perpetrated on Nova Scotians about what the new dollars look like because, of course, what
Nova Scotians know is a result of the municipal provincial service exchange, the home care dollars that have
been put into the system by the municipalities aren’t going to be put into the system anymore because the
province didn’t intend that they should be and so this government cannot begin to address the home care
deficit with the token allocation of dollars that they have seen fit to put in this budget.

Neither is there a dent being made in this budget and in the measures outlined here in the
unemployment deficit. Just in the health care field alone this government has chosen to create an even bigger
unemployment deficit by throwing hundreds and hundreds of health care workers out of their jobs. We are
talking about nurses, we are talking about nutrition workers, we are talking about cleaners, we are talking
about laundry workers, all of those workers who are going to be displaced because of $100 million taken out
of the hospital budget. If this government were serious about addressing the employment deficit they would
have taken the Blueprint Committee’s advice and they would have brought in a proper labour adjustment
strategy, a labour adjustment strategy that would ensure that the outcome of these so-called health reform
measures is not an even greater increase in the employment deficit and a strategy that would have ensured
that we don’t create a new health care deficit in terms of the services that people need. So, that is what I mean,
Mr. Speaker, when I say there is more than one kind of deficit, but I suppose, to some extent, it depends on
your whole notion of what constitutes a healthy economy.

We see the buzz-words from this government, we see them talking about public/private partnering.
I know the Speaker has indicated that I only have a couple of moments left and so I will wrap up with these
comments. (Interruption) Well, I am not sure that the Speaker is signalling he would give me extra time.

If your notion of economic development is to figure out how to maximize the opportunities for
business to make money off of the most basic goods and services that people in our society need, then I guess
this government can be happy with its economic performance and this is a budget that accurately reflects that
vision, that view of the role of government and that vision for society. But if your notion of economic
development is broader than that, if it includes the notion that economic development, to be considered
successful, is going to lessen the gaps between the haves and have-nots in our society, if your notion of
economic development is that we have to improve the environmental health of the society, we have to increase
the economic self-reliance and the independence both of communities and of individual Nova Scotians, then
this budget does not measure up.

That is why, Mr. Speaker, I think it is not an unfair, inaccurate portrayal of this budget, to say that
you will be better off as a result of these budget measures, if you are a banker or if you are a broker or if you
are a big business person. But if you are one of the 56,000 unemployed, 58,000 unemployed, for whom there
is really only the hope of a net increase of 2,000 jobs, by the government’s own predictions, by the
government’s own calculations, then it is very difficult to see this budget as a success. If you are one of the
thousands and thousands of Nova Scotians in the middle income range, who are bearing an unfair share of
the tax burden, then it is hard to see this budget as a success, when you see that the tax breaks, that the new
tax deductions, that the new tax credits for the most part are going to that element of our society, who are
already doing very well, thank you very much.

So, it will not be a surprise to any member opposite that, when it comes to the detailed budget
estimates, we will be scrutinizing this budget, in terms of whether it meets our notion of economic
development, rather than the narrow notion of what constitutes a healthy economy in the minds and in the
eyes of this Liberal Government. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: That concludes the debate on Resolution No. 21, directing that the estimates be
referred to the Committee of the Whole House on Supply. I therefore declare the motion carried and the
estimates referred.

GOVERNMENT BUSINESS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RICHARD MANN: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Public Bills for Second Reading.

PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RICHARD MANN: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 3.

Bill No. 3 - The Halifax Regional Municipality Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The debate was adjourned by the honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party,
who, I believe, had used up 39 minutes and so, has 21 minutes remaining.

The honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party.

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I did not realize I had quite that much time left. (Interruptions)
But I do not have to use it all. I am being encouraged by some government members. I take that as a positive
encouragement, that they also want to stand to speak in support of the very reasonable and responsible motion
that is being considered for debate this afternoon. It is to hoist the bill and that the bill be read six months
from now which, of course, not wanting to be repetitious because that would be a breach of the rules, but
simply just to put the comments into context, a six month period of time, if the bill is not going to be
considered until that time which of course would put it into the early fall.

We know we have two sittings of the House every year so that is certainly quite possible, but that
would give time to analyze and to take a look at what would or would not really be the most effective and the
best system for the metropolitan area in terms of government.

Since we started the debate on this bill, everything is happening so fast. First of all, now the minister
is shaking her head saying no and I can almost hear what she is going to say, this has been studied to death
for 20-some odd years. I can almost hear the thought process over there because it is exactly the same one that
the former government used and, quite honestly, what I am doing is advancing very many of the same
arguments that were advanced not too long ago by members of the government benches when they were
opposing the Donald Cameron plan. So they should be familiar with the arguments, by and large, because so
many of them are really their own arguments being fed back to them.

When I said that things are happening so fast and they are because it was only about three months
ago that this government appointed, after a real shemozzle in terms of how they appointed the commissioner,
they appointed a coordinator to supposedly do this study. Now, Mr. Hayward has given his recommendations
to this government who already had their plans made up so it is a matter of just changing some dots and i’s
and trying to find out exactly how the structure is going to be adjusted or modified slightly to fit the legislation
that the government, I am sure, had prepared even before they had appointed a coordinator.

However, an important piece of information has come to the attention of members of this House even
after we started debating this bill on Monday. That important information was the report that came out
yesterday, the UMA/Doane Raymond Study on the Analysis of Municipal Amalgamation.

Now, I have been trying to take a look at this report and I brought a summary of it with me today.
Those who are advocating amalgamation, in other words the government side, are picking out certain parts
of that study and saying, see, it justifies what we are doing, it agrees with what we are doing. I concede that
on a strictly efficiency basis, if we are looking for the main line, the fastest, quickest and easiest way to do
something, that yes indeed, on a strictly efficiency basis the report does indicate that a one-tiered system of
government would be preferable.

However, we have to take a look at efficiency in all kinds of ways. We also have to take a look at
some of the assumptions that are made in the UMA report and compare them with some of those assumptions
or lack thereof in the report that was done for the minister. This government is very critical of the UMA report
and the findings that suggest that the tax rates will go up.

I heard, for example, on the news last night Mr. Hayward saying something to the effect, well, that
is because they are putting assumptions in that I did not. When we are talking about changes in the form of
government, it is only logical, I would suggest, to assume that some things will change and that that may also
mean service levels are going to change. For example, I represent the community of Lower Sackville and the
member for Sackville-Beaverbank represents another part of the community of Sackville. I say to all members
of this House, and I ask the member for Sackville-Beaverbank, is he prepared to accept and would he accept
in his area, or would his constituents, a lower level of police service in the urban areas of Sackville than exist
or will exist in Dartmouth and Halifax?

 

 

[2:00 p.m.]

I suggest, Mr. Speaker, that if amalgamation is going to go ahead, the residents in my community,
which is an urban community, would have a right to expect and would expect that they would have the same
level of service as other urban dwellers within that municipality. (Interruption)

Well, the member for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour throws the very reasonable question, maybe, across
the floor, why? Well, Mr. Speaker, I would have to answer that by giving him another question, which is, why
would you expect that the residents in your community would expect and receive less in the way of police
protection than those who are living just a few miles away, in another neighbourhood, which would also be
having the same kinds of pressures and concerns about safety and law enforcement within the community,
at the same time as they are being asked to pay more.

The UMA report made a number of observations. They are very up-front in their approach. They said
that first we factored in the impact of the service exchange. That is reasonable, Mr. Speaker, to calculate into
the projections they are working on, something that is reality. We are now at April 13th, the service exchange
took effect on April 1st. Costs have transferred, so let’s deal with apples and apples, dollars, figures from
1995.  Service exchange has taken place, something that the government didn’t calculate in when they were
projecting their savings and how it was all going to work out in the wash, for all the different communities.

Then the authors of this report went on to say that we then adjusted the tax rates by eliminating tax
burdens related to fire protection. The same thing as the government’s proposal, that is that the fire service
would be on an area-rated basis, depending on what service they receive because many urban areas have
volunteer fire departments. Even Sackville has a large voluntary component to the fire department, for which
all residents in the community are very grateful because not only do they provide a fantastic service and work
to make sure that they are well trained, but they are also saving taxpayers many millions of dollars.

Next they went on to say that we introduced the impact of harmonizing municipal services, policies
and their significant taxing policies. In other words, they assume, and I think it is reasonable to expect
because it is what I was saying before, that people who are living within this area would expect they will have
the same levels of service, in the same kind of communities, no matter where they live.

It was interesting in Sackville, for example, one of the things that the municipal coordinator, Mr.
Hayward, was running around saying, is that the debt charges from one municipality will not be transferred
to a common rate, he is not going to be recommending that, so that the residents in other communities, for
example, would not pay the debt charges for Dartmouth or Halifax or Bedford or they for the county.

Well, Mr. Speaker, that may sound great. But also, in order for them to have built up that debt ratio,
a lot of that debt is related to the putting in place of infrastructure that is generating large amounts in the way
of tax revenue. I think, for example, of the Burnside Industrial Park.

I asked specifically in Sackville because in his presentation Mr. Hayward had said that Sackville or
that the county residents would not be responsible for the Dartmouth debt. I asked him, would that mean then
that we would or would not share in some of the business and commercial tax base from Halifax and
Dartmouth, to help pay for the services that the municipality has to take over?

Well, there was no assurance, in fact, that there would be any sharing of the revenues. Well, if there
are no assurances that the revenues are going to be shared, Mr. Speaker, and that would mean not only the
actual revenues but then obviously the obligations that go along with those, the debts, then how are the
residential rates in those other areas of the municipalities, that don’t have a large commercial base, how are
they going to be benefiting from this?

Then, he said, we reflected the impact of the levelling of certain services which I have really already
dealt with and then we factored in the implication of rationalization of the governments, the administration
and the management structures of the four municipalities. The end net result was, that he said there really is
no significant savings whatsoever in terms of cost-savings for the municipalities or the municipal taxpayers.
In fact, suggested, if you take into consideration harmonizing, providing common levels of services for those
who live in the same kinds of communities, that the tax rates will increase significantly.

In that report, exhibit 216, and I think taxpayers and the residents in the community have a right to
have an opportunity to analyze this report, to analyze the government report and maybe even suggest an
alternative. But under that scenario they are projecting that the residential tax rate in Bedford will drop by
2.88 per cent. They are projecting the Dartmouth rate will go up by 1.4 per cent, the City of Halifax by 17 per
cent. Now, urban areas of the county are to benefit, like my community, Sackville, 2.5 per cent lower tax rates
and rural areas in the county will face an over 13 per cent increase. Yet, the reality is too, that if the
commercial sectors in Halifax County paid the same kind of tax rate as commercial in Halifax and Dartmouth,
residential rates in Sackville would have, in fact, been reduced by far more than this, because the residential
rates out there have been subsidizing, in the county, commercial rates for quite a number of years.

When we take a look at the commercial end, Madam Speaker - welcome to the Chair -Bedford - and
this, remember, is supposed to be driving economic development, encouraging economic development - the
trucks are going to be and the vehicles and the cars are going to be roaring down the highway to come to
metro to set up business in our area because it is going to be so efficient. Well, we standardize services,
Bedford’s commercial tax rate, 18.5 per cent increase; Dartmouth, 12.9 per cent increase; Halifax, 9.5 almost
9.6 per cent; the urban areas of the county like my community of Sackville, 23 per cent tax increase; and the
rural areas are almost exactly the same at 22.93 per cent. Madam Speaker, let me tell you, that she is going
to encourage an awful lot of economic development in these areas.

You can’t tell me that a business that is going to locate in Timberlea or a business that is going to
locate in Sackville or a business that is going to locate in Cole Harbour, will expect and deserve lower in the
sense of police protection and other common services than those who live and have businesses in Halifax and
Dartmouth, would have. So, there is going to have to be, either it is going to be done immediately or over a
period of time, you know that the policies are going to work towards developing that harmonization, it has
to happen.

This government’s purpose for this bill, has very little to do in truth with their so-called stated
objectives. I know that it is a government’s decision and this government plans to concentrate as much power
and absolute dictatorial power in their own hands. We saw that in the bill that was introduced in this House
yesterday by the Minister of Education where one person has the ability without even going to a public forum
or in this House to change and realign school boards to lump them all together because this government,
contrary to the belief that they professed before they got elected, this government is concentrating on
centralization and centralizing the power in a very small area and mainly in their own hands.

The main purpose for this bill, the motivation behind it, has nothing to do basically with what they
are saying. What it has to do with are the bottom line financial figures for the Minister of Finance. With that
service exchange and the minister yesterday refused to give me the answer that I was looking for which isn’t
uncommon, but I wanted to find out what the actual figures are in terms of let us see the actual cost that the
province has assumed as a result of service exchange, dollar for dollar, with those that they have off-loaded
to municipalities. I would suggest that if you could really get at those figures from what we can already look
at, it is quite obvious that the provincial government, through this budget, has off-loaded far more costs to the
municipalities than they have taken on.

What this bill has to do with is quite simply getting the provincial government off the hook for its
service exchange legislation where it is doing the greatest amount of harm to Halifax County. It has nothing
to do with their stated objectives, it is more aimed at solving a problem that they have created. I think
somebody wants to make an introduction, so I will yield the floor.

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou East on an introduction.

MR. WAYNE FRASER: Madam Speaker, to you and to members of the House, I would like to
introduce a Grade 11 class from Westville High School. They are visiting us today with their teacher, Mr.
Bruce Moore, and Mr. Alfred White. I would ask the class to please rise and receive a warm welcome from
the House. (Applause)

MR. HOLM: I am just going to really wrap up at this point by saying the following. What we are
doing in terms of amalgamation, the process, has been flawed to the extreme. It has been completely
autocratic, dictatorial, top-down. The residents in the communities that are being affected have not and are
not being afforded the opportunity to have meaningful input. It is the government’s responsibility and
obligation and I would suggest to the residents it is their democratic right to receive the information from the
government and that is to have various options put on the table.

Let us see the government put its financial projections on the table for not only this one option but
several like maybe two cities or maybe another system where there are identified problems in terms of how
we could do things more efficiently in terms of delivery of services. You don’t have to amalgamate, you don’t
have to get rid of your community as a separate community or other communities as separate communities
to do that. There are other models, for example, as being followed in Moncton which was not amalgamated.

Let’s sit down in a mature, in a grown-up fashion, in a respectful way, with the citizens. Provide
information and then give the residents of the community the opportunity through a public process, I would
suggest a plebescite, the same kind of process that was used in my community of Sackville, to determine that
it wished to stay part of Halifax County but give the residents an opportunity through a plebiscite, to make
their decision on what they consider to be the best form of government. That would be respectful, that would
be courageous and that is something that I hope the minister will accept. Thank you.

 

[2:15 p.m.]

HON. SANDRA JOLLY: Madam Speaker, on a point of order. The honourable member quoted
extensively certain things out of the report that was produced yesterday by the UMA and Coopers & Lybrand,
for the benefit of the four mayors in the municipalities with whom we are discussing amalgamation.

He goes further to say, he is saying there were no other models looked at. I would think if he had read
the complete report, he would see on Page 53 that, in actual fact, the analysis that was done by the UMA did
cover three or four, as many as six different options, and their recommendation was the same option that the
government has put forward, a single regional municipality.

MADAM SPEAKER: Do you wish to speak to the point of order?

The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.

MR. JOHN HOLM: Yes, indeed, and I will come back to this broader topic very shortly, when I get
a chance to speak again. I would like to correct the minister; first of all, the report wasn’t just done for the four
mayors, Madam Speaker, the report was done to try to shed some information and provide information for
the citizens. It was not done for the four mayors, it was done for the people who live in what is to be
amalgamated, so that they can get some facts, figures and information.

MADAM SPEAKER: Well, I thank you for your input on the point of order. Are there further
speakers on the point of order?

MR. RONALD RUSSELL: No, not on the point of order.

MADAM SPEAKER: No, not on the point of order? Would you allow me to rule on the point first,
please. I think you have both made your point and I don’t wish to have you both entering into a debate on the
differing points. It is not a point of order that was raised.

I would now like to recognize the honourable member for Hants West.

MR. RONALD RUSSELL: Madam Speaker, it is the usual happening, I guess, on second reading
for perhaps an amendment of this kind to come forward to apply a hoist to the bill. I think sometimes the
government or the proponent of the bill thinks that those interventions are rather frivolous. Well, perhaps
some of them are, but I think in this particular case it is a very strong indication by the Opposition that there
are a number of questions about this bill, about what the final outcome will be when this bill eventually gets
through the House, as I presume the government is probably going to have its will in the end and it will
become law. There is a lot of misapprehension, there is a lot of misunderstanding and a lot of questions out
there that have yet to be answered.

Madam Speaker, I know there are some mayors who are in favour of metro amalgamation and they
are perfectly honest when they say, but we have our doubts about some aspects of the effects of this bill that
we would like answered. There are some councillors out in the metro area who have the same kind of
questions that they are looking to be answered. There are members of this House, as I said before, and there
is the public at large, the taxpayers of the metro area, who certainly have questions.

I think that the polls that have been done recently within the metro area reveal that while people are
generally in favour of amalgamation, they have a number of questions. What they are saying to the minister
is, why now? Why does this thing have to be rushed through this House to amalgamate Halifax, Dartmouth,
Bedford and the County? Why does it have to be done in such great haste?

Now the minister is going to get up and say, well, it isn’t being done in great haste, they have been
talking about metro amalgamation for 20 years, and that is quite true. Well, if they have been talking about
it for 20 years, what is six months difference going to make? (Interruption)

Well, the minister says, what is two years? No, certainly not, the die has been cast, we have a bill and
people know now what the government’s intentions are. What they want now is an explanation from the
minister of all the variations and permutations and combinations that will ensue if this piece of legislation
becomes law. (Interruptions)

MADAM SPEAKER: Order, please. I would like to recognize that the speaker has the floor and I
do not appreciate the conversations that carry on back and forth in the Chamber.

MR. RUSSELL: Oh, I don’t mind it, Madam Speaker.

What I am saying is that six months do not matter, in truth. In the whole overall picture, six months
is going to give this minister and give this government the opportunity to satisfy the populace as a whole that
what they are doing is the right thing and more importantly, Madam Speaker, that it is going to achieve some
positive impact (Interruptions)

HON. SANDRA JOLLY: Madam Speaker, on a point of order. I would just like to point out to the
honourable member that in actual fact there are 12 months prior to the actual amalgamation occurring and
over the next 12 months - not 6 but 12 - there will be a large opportunity and we will be explaining and going
through with the co-ordinator and some of the new staff of the new municipality exactly how it will impact.
We have in actual fact, not 6 months but 12 months to put many things in place.

MADAM SPEAKER: I would like to rule on the point of order. You have made a point of
clarification but not a point of order. Thank you.

MR. RUSSELL: Well, I appreciate the point of clarification, it is too bad that she wouldn’t do that
with the populace as a whole within this area.

Madam Speaker, the minister, a moment ago, was talking about - at least I shouldn’t say she was
talking about it, she was interjecting across the floor - the fact that this has been in the mill for a long time
and now is the time to act and that after we have passed the legislation, there are 12 months before it comes
into effect and during that 12 months she can go out and tell the people about the great advantages from
passing this piece of legislation. Well, in Heaven’s name, it is too late after you have passed the legislation.
The time to do that is before you pass the legislation, then pass the legislation, then you can get on with the
amalgamation with the acquiescence of the present municipal units and all will be well.

The minister says, well, there are 12 months until such time as this piece of legislation takes effect,
after passage in this House. In fact, Madam Speaker, in 1996, there will be a municipal election anyway. Now,
wouldn’t it have been ideal for the minister to come forward and said, this is the bill we are going to have in
place by the time 1996 rolls around and when we go to the polls in 1996, that is for the municipal elections,
at that time people will know what they are voting on, they will know what size council they are going to vote
for, they will be voting for their mayor at the same time, they will be voting for a new administration and a
new kind of methodology of running this giant municipal unit.

What difference does it make that we pass, within the next two or three weeks, (Interruption) Okay,
the next election is 1997, sorry, I was a year out, that’s correct, three years from 1994. Let’s wait until 1997,
why not? The minister has given a clear indication as to what she is going to do and I congratulate her. She
has finally said, we are going to stop right now, there is going to be no more City of Halifax Council, no more
Dartmouth Council, no more Bedford Council, no more Halifax County Council, that is going to take effect
at the end of the present terms of these people who were duly elected for a term of three years. If the minister
says now she is in a rush, why wasn’t she in a rush back in 1994 to say, hold the elections for a year? Why
have people going out spending money, Madam Speaker, running for elected office and then about a week
or two after they are elected say, look, I am sorry people but you have got yourself elected but you are only
elected until I decide that I am going to fire you all and make this into one big super-city and we are going
to have a brand new set of rules? No, it just doesn’t wash.

One of the things that I think we could achieve, Madam Speaker, by postponing the passage of this
legislation for a period of time - now this is a six months’ hoist, as I say, I am suggesting a longer period than
that - however, at the minimum for six months, although in truth, though, were we to pass this present
amendment, in fact, that would kill the bill anyway, it would have to be reintroduced, but it could be
reintroduced in the fall. But during that intervening time, we would have time to have a socio-economic study
done so that people would be aware of what the economic impact would be on each of the units around this
metro area, they could examine what the impact was going to be with regard to such services as policing,
garbage collection and all those other bits and pieces that are the responsibility of municipal units. But if we
do not do that, well, then, as I say, in a short time, three or four weeks from now, this legislation goes through,
that this House after Law Amendments comes back in again and then it becomes the law of the land - it is too
late, because nothing can be changed, the bill is the bill is the bill. It is there, it is there in place.

I spoke a moment ago, Madam Speaker, about the advantage to the government of a delay and there
is a definite advantage to the government, because every individual that this minister and this government
can convince that what they are doing is the right thing, is another person who, I would suggest, next time
the provincial elections roll around, they are going to say, what a great government this was, they put in an
amalgamation which I agree with entirely, because I had my say, I had my propositions put forward by my
council, which were accepted by the minister and evolved into a brand-new piece of legislation. And so, I
think it is not only to the advantage to the citizens of this metro area, I also think it is to the advantage of the
government to have this bill delayed.

There is another aspect to this present amalgamation that is taking place and that is, I think that
there is an unfairness to it, Madam Speaker. Just recently, I think it was a week, 10 days ago, the Premier of
the province was up in Pictou. We all know that in Pictou, we have three municipal units, that are much
closer, actually, than they are in the metro area and there is probably much more overlapping in that area than
there is in the metro area. But what did the Premier say to Pictou? Did he say, we are going to go in there and
the Minister of Municipal Affairs is going to come forth with a bill to force amalgamation? No, he did not
say that. What he said was, there will be no amalgamation in Pictou unless the people in Pictou want
amalgamation. That is what the Premier said. Well, if it is good enough for Pictou, why is it not good enough
for the metro area? Why is it not good enough for the people of the metro area, to have a say as to whether
or not they want amalgamation? (Interruption) And they may well agree, if this minister will provide the
answers to the people of this metro area, to the questions that they have. (Interruptions) She is chatting away.
Have you got a question?

HON. SANDRA JOLLY: Madam Speaker, on a point of order. I think if the honourable member
looks at the report, that many members are referring to, the UMA Report, they actually ran 30 focus groups
to get the opinions of the public. In the report it says, the preferred form of government for this area is a
metropolitan amalgamation, that we should have a regional government to provide those services. There were
30 focus groups that were held and Mr. Hayward also held 50 other meetings. That is a total of 80 meetings
with public input.

MR. RUSSELL: On the point of order. It does not matter to me. They could have had 1,000
meetings. And the people have said, yes, they are in favour of amalgamation, but they have not said that they
are in favour of this piece of legislation that the minister has come forward with. They want the questions
answered before they have amalgamation, not after the bill has passed and it is too late.

MADAM SPEAKER: I would like to rule that the point of order seems to be becoming a debate. It
is not a point of order. And I would remind the honourable speakers to address their remarks through the
Chair.

I will recognize the member for Hants West in continuing the debate on the amendment.

MR. RUSSELL: Madam Speaker, I would just like to refer to polls so that I can answer some of the
remarks put forward by the Minister of Municipal Affairs. This is April 8, 1995, a corporate research poll,
which is fairly recent. This is what, about a week ago? Less than that.

[2:30 p.m.]

On consultation on metro union, 70 per cent to 75 per cent of the respondents want more
consultation. In other words, they are not necessarily against a metro amalgamation but what they are saying
is, we still have some basic questions we want answered and most of them are financial. They want to know
what is going to happen to their tax rates. They want to know what indebtedness they are going to have to take
on when amalgamation takes place. That is why 70 per cent to 75 per cent of the respondents want more
consultation.

The same poll, 88 per cent of the people polled are satisfied with existing services that they have from
their own municipal unit. Well, if 88 per cent are satisfied, then there are only 12 per cent that believe that
they are going to gain something in existing services because the minister is going to force amalgamation onto
the metro area. What these people are saying to the minister is, we are satisfied with what we are getting;
show us, demonstrate to us what we are going to gain in the way of service delivery within our particular
municipal unit when we have amalgamation. That is what they are asking for, more information.

More than 80 per cent, same poll, expect taxes to remain the same or go up after amalgamation.
Now, the primary move by the government for amalgamation is to save money. They are not doing it because
they think some great event is going to happen when they amalgamate. They are doing it primarily to save
money. There is a whopping great 80 per cent out there who disagree with the government. There are 80 per
cent out there who believe either that their taxes will remain the same or go up and I would suggest to you
that probably the majority of those expect taxes to go up. The reason that I say that is because there are only
50 per cent of the metro population that are in favour of amalgamation in the first place. There are a rigid 37
per cent who are opposed and then there are the other 13 per cent who have no opinion or do not expect that
things are going to change.

The problem for the minister and the government is that if they pass this legislation, they are doing
themselves harm. I don’t know if this government can ever wake up to the fact that sometimes, if you want
to do something, you don’t rush in like a bull at a gate, you go around and talk to people, find out what their
opinions are. If they have opinions contrary to what you think is in their best interest, you try to convince them
that what you are doing is going to be better for them in the long run.

This government would have that opportunity if this particular amendment would pass. If this
amendment passes, then the minister and the government members and perhaps even the Opposition members
would be delighted to go around and explain the impact of this bill and what it is going to mean to the average
taxpayer within this area.

I started a moment ago, I was saying how this bill is unfair because it is unfair to the rest of Nova
Scotia. The Premier has said to the people of Pictou that they are not going to have amalgamation unless they
want it, but they haven’t come down to my riding in Windsor and said to the people of Windsor, West Hants
and Hantsport, we are not going to amalgamate you unless you ask us to amalgamate you, unless we come
forward as taxpayers and say to our municipal representatives, get together and press the minister to put in
a bill that would amalgamate my particular three municipal units. She has not done that for the other areas
within the province.

MADAM SPEAKER: I wonder if the honourable member would draw in his debate somewhat to the
amendment that we are debating at the present time. You are starting to wander quite far wide of the mark
on the merits of the amendment.

MR. RUSSELL: Yes, Madam Speaker, I will indeed. I am speaking primarily because there is a
reason why this bill should be stalled. In fact there is not only a reason, there are probably 100 reasons why
this bill should be stalled for a period of time, to give the minister the opportunity to make her views known
on the bill she spoke on the other day for approximately 10 or 15 minutes in introducing the bill. I am sure
that even members in this House who were sitting right opposite didn’t get anywhere near the questions that
we have answered by the minister in her preparatory address. If we didn’t get it, I am sure that the rest of the
people within the metro area didn’t get it.

So, Madam Speaker, it would give the minister and the government and the Department of Municipal
Affairs the opportunity to go around this metro area and to explain to the people exactly what the impact of
this bill is going to be.

But that is only half of the equation. By postponing the passage of this bill, Madam Speaker, it is
going to give the taxpayers the opportunity. They are the people, I would suggest to you, who count most in
this equation. They are the people who are going to pay the taxes. They are the people who are going to be
stuck with this massive metro amalgamation for the foreseeable future.

In spite of what the minister says about the fact that there is a year between the passage of this bill
and the actual implementation of the bill, that period of time is useless. It is useless from a point of view of
changing the parameters that the minister has already put in place. In other words, the people are stuck with
this bill and the year doesn’t make any difference. It could be two years, it doesn’t make any difference.

What the people want is time before the bill passes, time when they can try to inject their ideas, have
their particular concerns answered before the bill is hard and fast and passed through this House.

So, Madam Speaker, I am going to vote in favour of the amendment and urge other members to also
vote in favour of the amendment because I think it is to everybody’s advantage in this House that we
accommodate the taxpayers of this area, who are the most important people insofar as all of us are concerned,
I am sure. Thank you, Madam Speaker.

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

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise this afternoon in support of the hoist
that was put forward by my colleague from Pictou Centre. In my support of the hoist I would like to reference
a couple of points that are in the bill that certainly merit the hoisting of the bill.

I will begin with the fact that the Hammonds Plains Fire Commission, for example, does have some
profound concerns as to what is going to happen to their property? What is going to happen to their assets?

AN HON. MEMBER: What riding is that?

MR. TAYLOR: Hammonds Plains, I am not sure. My colleague to the left was concerned as to what
riding Hammonds Plains is in but I am just not sure whose riding that is in. I don’t know if it is Bedford-Fall
River. Actually the point I am trying to make is they are not sure what is going to happen to their assets. They
have several pieces of equipment, pumpers, all kind of outfits, first response vehicles, a beautiful building and
property. All was raised through initiatives of the volunteer fire department, bingos, and, of course, in concert
with that community, a community that supports their volunteer fire department.

Now I think we have some 36 to 38 fire departments in Halifax County. Two fire departments are
more or less on their own, so to speak, in that the assets and the vehicles and the building and things of that
nature are in their name, they are not in the county’s name.

I did have an opportunity, Madam Speaker, to attend amalgamation meetings in my district and I
want to commend the co-ordinator, Bill Hayward. I was a bit hesitant and skeptical at first of the development
of this regional municipality but Mr. Hayward came out into the communities. He was up in the community
of Middle Musquodoboit on February 13th, there were well over 100 people in attendance and as you can
probably vouch for today, unless there is an extremely important issue it is really hard to get people to come
out to a meeting.

We had somewhere around 130 people out to the meeting in Middle Musquodoboit and there were
a lot of concerns about the external boundaries and people still are a little hesitant as to whether should we
secede to Colchester County or maybe other ends of the district would want to secede to Hants East or perhaps
Saint Mary’s. By supporting this hoist, Madam Speaker, that will allow those folks to further determine just
which position they want to take. They felt comfortable with Mr. Hayward, the position and Mr. Hayward was
there to listen to our opinions, listen to our views he did that very well, he did it very eloquently.

We had some concern about whether the new municipality will be able to recognize the distinction
between urban and rural. In Halifax County it has always been the case, as probably you are aware, I am sure
the member for Timberlea-Prospect is aware that Halifax County municipality has always been able to
recognize the diversity between districts, between urban and rural. Questions came forward about our rural
tax rate, a suburban tax rate and urban rates and at each of the meetings whether it was in Upper or Middle
Musquodoboit or Dutch Settlement the audience asked the co-ordinator to recommend to the Minister of
Municipal Affairs that rural rates be incorporated into the legislation and I did denote, I believe it is on Page
40 of the bill, anyway there is reference in there to rural rates and I want to commend the minister for
incorporating the recommendation that was put forward to by the minister.

However, at the meeting in Dutch Settlement which was held on February 26th, it was recommended
to the co-ordinator and this is a very good reason I feel why the bill should be hoisted for another six months,
we recommended to Bill Hayward that the province assume full responsibility for social services and Mr.
Hayward said, well, look I cannot make that recommendation for all of the mainland, I guess the question was
put to Mr. Hayward, would he recommend that, like Cape Breton, the province assume full responsibility for
social services on the mainland.

Mr. Hayward said I cannot recommend it for the other municipalities but I can recommend it for the
new super regional municipality, Halifax, Dartmouth, Bedford and the county. Now, we had the package that
was handed out when the minister had her press conference respecting Bill No. 3 and nowhere under the
headline, Metro Area Amalgamation Co-ordinator Outlines Recommendations for Legislations, nowhere in
this article does it appear and that is very disturbing because the the co-ordinator had told us at the meeting
and he was very upfront, it was black and white, he wasn’t nebulous about it at all, he said, yes, I will include
that in my recommendations.

The folks in eastern Halifax County at least, are very disappointed that the province is not going to
assume full responsibility for social services. As we know today we’ve got a very mixed-up, convoluted type
of social services, where, in fact, a small percentage of social service recipients are playing the system. There
is no question, no ands or ifs about it. Not everybody is but a lot of them are playing one municipality against
the other municipality and they just are continually in transit from one to the other trying to beat the system
and it is very unfair to the people that are qualified, legitimate and it is a very small percentage but this is one
of the negative things that could be removed if this . . .

MADAM SPEAKER: Order, please. It is getting increasingly difficult to hear the speaker. I would
suggest that those who have intense conversations might want to take them outside this Chamber so that we
can hear the debate. Thank you.

MR. TAYLOR: I do want to express that the citizens in eastern Halifax County, particularly Districts
12 and 13, were very appreciative of the fact that Mr. Hayward came out into the communities and he listened
and although all of his recommendations weren’t included in his package a good number of them were and
he did listen to the opinions of the citizens and he gave consideration to their views on external boundaries
and other amalgamation matters. I will say Mr. Hayward was forthright, he listened and we engaged in a
question and answer period after he made his presentation.

I felt after attending three of those meetings, in fact, he and his counterpart, Mr. Abraham,
commented that I probably could give them a hand when they made their presentation in the future, but
nonetheless I certainly didn’t participate in that but they were very forthright.

[2:45 p.m.]

Last night there was a meeting in the community of Elderbank in beautiful Middle Musquodoboit,
a meeting which I had ample time to get to. Presently, Halifax County has a policy and I am not sure whether
you are aware of it or not but there is a policy regarding apparatus purchasing. Essentially, what that means
is that if you are a fire department in Halifax County, you must adhere to a policy, fairly strict standards. Now,
I believe in guidelines and standards but many of our volunteer fire departments in the county have acquired
a lot of equipment through community effort. They take an old truck, refurbish it and bring it up to an
acceptable standard and we have a lot of confidence in our volunteer fire departments as we do, I am sure, in
our paid fire departments. I guess the concern is that if this policy is universal in the new regional
municipality, will our volunteer fire departments be handcuffed so to speak in terms of getting equipment to
help service the serviceable area that they are responsible for, so it is a major concern.

I think by supporting this hoist, fire departments will be able to determine just what their role is in
the new regional municipality. Now I would suggest that all the municipalities have an apparatus purchasing
policy. I know we are aware but in terms of buying equipment, I can speak from experience from the trucking
industry. I had an old 1972 Autocar and went from Nova Scotia to California running along beside new rigs
and pulling a van trailer and had not a hitch but under this present policy, if a fire department desires to
purchase an old piece of equipment that is in good shape, and some old equipment is in good shape, they may
get a pumper whether it is 1,000 gallons per minute or whatever it is, it has to meet these ULC standards. As
I understand it, pumps can only be tested out of the province so there is great cost incurred by the volunteer
fire departments.

If this hoist went through, we would be able to better address the concerns that the volunteer fire
departments have because this policy is unbeknownst to many fire departments, they don’t know until they
go to gear something up, the Fire Services Co-ordinator in the County, Mr. Turpin, will be quick to remind
them that no, you just can’t go buy a truck and refurbish it, get the frame lengthened, put the pump on, you
can’t do that. So, the hoist . . .

MADAM SPEAKER: To the honourable member, I am very interested in hearing about these trucks
to California but I would like you to rein in the debate somewhat to the amendment on the hoist please.

MR. TAYLOR: Thank you, Madam Speaker. I hope to always appreciate and respect your rulings.
I was trying to make the point that from personal experience, old machinery can be easily put into place and
work almost as good as new. This is what the fire departments, the type of service they have been delivering
for us. They have fund raisers, they have bingos, walkathons, loonie days, they have all kinds of things but
they do it in the best interests of the community. They determine what the community needs are and then they
have a meeting and after great deliberation, discussion and negotiation they put a plan in place.

In supporting the hoist of Bill No. 3, this will enable our fire departments to find out, well, look, we
are going to become part of this new regional municipality, will we have to adhere to a different policy? Are
we going to have an apparatus purchasing policy that is exclusive to Halifax County? Are we going to have
a similar type policy in (Interruption) I can’t help, although I am directing my . . .

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Supply and Services on an introduction.

HON. GERALD O’MALLEY: Madam Speaker, in your gallery I should like to introduce to you a
person who really needs no introduction, a former Mayor of the City of Dartmouth, a very profound mayor,
a very profound entrepreneur and businessman in Nova Scotia, a man whose name resides on the lips of most
Nova Scotians over many decades, Mr. Joseph Zatzman. (Applause)

MR. TAYLOR: I too would like to welcome the former Mayor of Dartmouth to the wonderful
confines here in Province House. I hope he enjoys his stay. I would like to talk about the mastodon in
Stewiacke, I know that would certainly be . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: Tell him about the hospital that closed in Wolfville, that’s more fun.

MR. TAYLOR: No, I can’t tell him about the hospital closing in Wolfville.

Madam Speaker, the metro area amalgamation is on the tips of a lot of people’s tongues in the
affected areas. I understand, primarily from newspaper reports, that the citizens of Bedford are extremely
concerned as to just where this government is going. They have policing concerns, there is no question, and
they have some fire services concerns, they have tax rate concerns. As you well know, the Town of Bedford
does not receive emergency funding, nor does the Town of Bedford receive capital funding or capital grants
from the province. The Town of Bedford is pretty well solvent, as far as I am concerned. You can understand
better than most, the situation that Bedford finds itself in.

What the six months’ hoist will do is permit the residents of Bedford a little more time and it will
give this government more time. I know, look, I support amalgamation, I have never said I was against
amalgamation, but there is so much change coming down in Nova Scotia, whether it is education, health, you
name it, there have been cutbacks to practically every department in government, save for a couple. These are
major concerns. People want just a little more time to know answers to some of the very important questions
they have. I mean, who knows what is next? Perhaps Bridgewater could be amalgamated with Yarmouth, I
mean we don’t know that it won’t be. So it is important that the precedent be set with this regional
municipality because of the sheer numbers alone.

When this municipality comes into existence, as I understand it, it will contain a population of over
one-third of this province. So surely it merits support and consideration because it is an extremely important
bill. I can speak from experience, having known my colleague from Pictou Centre for a little over a year now,
Madam Speaker, he does his homework and does it very diligently. My colleagues will confirm that the
member read the bill very thoroughly and found some inconsistencies with the bill. (Interruption) No, Pictou
Centre.

Madam Speaker, I am sorry that I am getting diverted. I don’t want to digress . . .

MADAM SPEAKER: I think you are getting side-tracked a little on this debate on the amendment,
so I would like to draw you back to the subject at hand. I will call for order in the Chamber, please.

MR. TAYLOR: Thank you, Madam Speaker. The Upper Musquodoboit Ratepayers’ Association.
When Mr. Hayward was in Upper Musquodoboit on February 13th of this year, during the meeting, and it was
a very collegial type of meeting, Mr. Hayward made his presentation as per usual and fielded some questions.
The ratepayers had some property above the fire station, and they own the fire station and several vehicles -
it is a situation that is darn near similar to the Hammonds Plains situation. They own a lot of assets and they,
too, are concerned.

Mr. Hayward said in the terms of reference of his mandate that he has been told the new regional
municipality will assume responsibility and control of those assets.

Now I wonder if the minister can tell me where, and the closest thing I come to in this bill is on Page
36, about purchasing, acquiring, maintaining and improving public grounds, squares, halls and parks, but I
wonder if there is anything that is specific to that concern, the assets of our many . . .

HON. SANDRA JOLLY: Madam Speaker, on a point of order. I am very pleased to be able to direct
the member to Page 33, Clause 74(2), “Nothing in this Act vests any property of a fire department, other than
property of a municipal government, in the Regional Municipality.”. So the fire department such, as
Hammonds Plains, the equipment they own themselves will remain with that fire department.

MADAM SPEAKER: I thank the Minister of Municipal Affairs for that clarification. It isn’t a point
of order but I would remind the honourable members that we are not in Question Period, we are in debate.

AN HON. MEMBER: Her answers are not any better here than they are in Question Period.

MR. TAYLOR: Madam Speaker, Clause 74(2) states that “Nothing in this Act vests any property
of a fire department, other than property of a municipal government, in the Regional Municipality.”. Now I
am not sure where the Upper Musquodoboit Ratepayers’ Association stands then because I had understood,
and obviously we all make mistakes from time to time. (Interruption) Well, the Liberals make lots of mistakes,
too, I should warn the Leader of the Third Party. But we all make mistakes. Now, we have got to be honest.

But my concern is that the audience, the citizens from District 12 - and I can speak, I think, on behalf
of the councillor, Jim Reid - we came away from the meeting with the understanding that the province would
assume responsibility and title of the assets of the Upper Musquodoboit Ratepayers Association. So I would
be, perhaps, well-advised, because this is part of the reason I support this hoist, and that takes one component
of my support away, but it does not take all (Interruption) no, no, no. I certainly do not support all the
components. But I will convey this message back to the Upper Musquodoboit Ratepayers Association and just
see where they stand.

Now, seeing as how tomorrow is a holiday, and this is Thursday afternoon and the member there
kind of eyeing the clock, the wonderful member for Pictou East, with your approval, Madam Speaker, I ask
that we may adjourn this debate.

MADAM SPEAKER: The motion is that we adjourn the debate on the amendment. That is in order.

I will call on the Government House Leader.

HON. RICHARD MANN: Madam Speaker, I would advise members that the House will sit again
on Tuesday, from the hours of 12:00 noon until 6:00 p.m. Following the daily routine and Question Period,
we will move into Committee of the Whole House on Supply. We will debate the estimates of the Minister
of Health, in this Chamber, and the estimates of the Minister of Community Services in the subcommittee,
in the Red Chamber.

I wish everyone a Happy Easter and move that we adjourn until Tuesday at 12:00 noon.

MADAM SPEAKER: The motion is carried.

We are adjourned until Tuesday at 12:00 noon.

[The House rose at 2:57 p.m.]

 

 

NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3)

RESOLUTION NO. 132

By: Mr. John Holm (Leader of the New Democratic Party)

I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas the Provincial-Municipal Service Exchange announced in October 1994 assumes the
province will take over 100 per cent cost-sharing on a number of municipally funded services; and

Whereas the budget documents tabled yesterday by the Minister of Finance show large increases in
services where in reality they only represent the transfer from municipalities; and

Whereas this is a significant matter with impacts throughout the province, for individuals and for
their municipal governments;

Therefore be it resolved that the Finance Minister table a detailed accounting of the true costs of
service exchange clearly indicating on an item-by-item basis former municipal expenditures compared with
proposed new provincial expenditures for the 1995-96 fiscal year.

 

 

HOUSE ORDER NO. 12

By: Ms. Alexa McDonough (Halifax Fairview)

I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move that an order of this House do issue for a return
showing, with respect to the Department of Health:

(1) A copy of the evaluation of the Hospital-in-the-Home project in Antigonish.