Assemblée Législative de la Nouvelle-Écosse

Les travaux de la Chambre ont repris le
21 septembre 2017


Fifty-sixth General Assembly

Third Session

2:00 P.M.


Hon. Paul MacEwan


Mrs. Francene Cosman

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen, I would like to welcome everyone here this afternoon.

We will commence this afternoon's session. First of all, introduction of guests.

The honourable Premier.

HON. JOHN SAVAGE (The Premier): Mr. Speaker, some 1,800 members of the International Shambhala Community will join with friends and invited guests from Nova Scotia and around the world this week for A Shambhala Celebration. We, in the House of Assembly, are very honoured that His Holiness Penor Rinpoche, one of the most revered teachers of the Buddhism, has travelled to Nova Scotia to officiate at these historic ceremonies.

So, with your permission I would like to introduce in your gallery, Mr. Speaker, His Holiness Penor Rinpoche and The Sawang Osel Rangdrol Mukpo. Please extend them a traditional Nova Scotia welcome. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: Are there additional introductions of guests or visitors here today? If not, we will commence the daily routine of business.





MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Education.

HON. JOHN MACEACHERN: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table the Annual Report of the Board of Trustees of the Public Archives of Nova Scotia.

MR. SPEAKER: The report is tabled.


MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Natural Resources.

HON. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, I rise to inform members of the House that the Canadian Institute of Mining, Metallurgy and Petroleum will hold their annual general meeting at the World Trade and Convention Centre in our lovely city from May 14 to May 18, 1995. This is the first time that the CIM has held its annual meeting in Atlantic Canada. This is a huge convention that will see over 2,500 delegates and visitors descending on our city. These will include industry leaders from across Canada and around the world.

Mr. Speaker, the CIM Tradex 95, in conjunction with the convention, is the largest mining trade show ever held in Atlantic Canada. This event will bring money into the province and the City of Halifax; this is a great opportunity for our hospital industry and a great warm up for the G-7 Summit in June. This large convention and trade show will showcase Nova Scotia's and Atlantic Canada's abilities in mineral exploration, mining and exploration technology, marketing and reclamation technologies.

Mr. Speaker, we are very proud that the Mining Society of Nova Scotia is co-sponsoring this annual meeting along with the CIM. It is very appropriate that the CIM hold their meeting in Nova Scotia, as this is a homecoming, of sorts, for this group. The Mining Society of Nova Scotia was formed in 1892, when the Gold Miners Club from southern Nova Scotia joined the members of the minerals industry who, at that time, were mostly involved in coal mining. The Mining Society of Nova Scotia was a founding member of the CIM when it was formed back in 1898.

Mr. Speaker, the theme of the convention, Atlantic Canada - The Gateway to the Atlantic, reminds us that this historic gateway is as important to the mineral and petroleum industries today as it was a century ago.

The conference agenda is very exciting. It will include: five workshops from remote sensing to total quality management; 62 sessions exploring all aspects of the mineral industry; government and education activities affecting the industries; and over 200 different presentations and seven field trips. And, yes, Mr. Speaker, there will be time for enjoying of some old-fashioned Nova Scotia hospitality.

Mr. Speaker, as you can see, I am very excited about this great opportunity for Nova Scotia to put its best face forward. Staff from my department have worked diligently to ensure that all goes well.

I am sure that members of this House will join me in welcoming our many visitors from the mining and petroleum industries, and wishing them well during their annual meeting and trade show. Thank you very much.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Queens.

MR. JOHN LEEFE: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to respond to the welcome announcement made by the minister today, an announcement which focuses on the potential for the mining and metallurgy and petroleum sectors, to play an even greater role in the economy of Nova Scotia than has been the case in the past. I do hope that all Nova Scotians who have any time on their hands at all will avail themselves of the opportunity to drop into this trade show and come to understand that this industry has come a very long way in the past few years.

Traditionally, this is an industry which has been looked upon as being environmentally dirty and yet, I think anybody who cares to review the position where the industry currently finds itself will understand that tremendous strides have been made in the past few years. In many ways, this industry is beginning to show leadership with respect to developing a sustainable economy within the whole mining and metallurgy sector.

This, of course, is a tremendous boost to the Halifax area with respect to tourism. One can only hope that the minister's prediction is correct that, in fact, these people will move out of the urban metro area and will avail themselves of some of the very fine opportunities found in our smaller communities and some of the just tremendous accommodations found in bed and breakfasts and perhaps even farm vacations, if they have the time to stay that long with us.

I congratulate those involved with the Canadian Institute of Mining, with respect to the leadership that they are showing in the industry not only nationally but internationally. I thank them for choosing this capital city as the site for their annual meeting. I congratulate the Nova Scotia mining community, who obviously encouraged them to be here, and I congratulate the minister and his staff for their tremendous support for this initiative.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, let me say, please, that when it is announced that any particular organization is holding a conference, a convention in Halifax, I think the more opportunities we have to bring Canadians and people from all over the world to Halifax, the more opportunity we will have to have them come back to visit this province and contribute to the economy. Certainly, the Canadian Institute of Mining and the mining industry has a long history in Nova Scotia and in Canada. We look forward to listening to and perhaps reviewing the results of the deliberations during their convention. Certainly, on behalf of this caucus, we wish all the participants, visitors from outside this province, a wonderful time and hope that the weather is as fine as it is today. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Digby-Annapolis has an introduction he wishes to make.

MR. JOSEPH CASEY: Mr. Speaker, I would like to bring to the attention of the members of the House, in the east gallery, Councillor Robert Johnstone from the Annapolis County Council. Please give him the usual warm welcome. Thank you. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Natural Resources.

HON. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, today I am pleased to announce the season dates for parks and campgrounds operated by the province. Day use parks, meaning parks with no camping facilities, will open on Friday, May 19th, at the start of the Victoria Day weekend. They will remain open until October 10th, Thanksgiving weekend.

Several provincial parks that feature campgrounds and day use facilities will also open May 19th. These are: Salsman Park in Guysborough County, Dollar Lake Park in Halifax County, Risser's Beach in Lunenburg County, Mira River in Cape Breton County, Salt Springs Park in Pictou County and The Islands Park in Shelburne County.

Graves Island Park and campground in Lunenburg County, is being used for a brief period as a movie location, but will open to the public on Friday, June 2nd.

Elsewhere across Nova Scotia, campgrounds operated by the province will open on June 16th. Most campgrounds in our system will close September 5th, Labour Day weekend. However, eight will remain open until October 10th, Thanksgiving weekend. Those remaining open are: Ellenwood in Yarmouth County, Blomidon in Kings County, Graves Island in Lunenburg County, Salsman Park in Guysborough County, Dollar Lake Park in Halifax County, Mira River in Cape Breton; Five Islands Park in Colchester County, and Risser's Beach in Lunenburg County.

[2:15 p.m.]

These few campgrounds will remain open during the fall, the shoulder season as it were, Mr. Speaker, a time preferred by many of our senior citizens.

A detailed schedule of the season dates for the provincial camping parks will be published Saturday in the Cape Breton Post, the Chronicle-Herald and the Daily News.

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to advise members of the House that there is no increase in fees this season at campgrounds operated by the province. (Applause) Campgrounds and basic services will again cost $9.00 plus GST per night. The nightly rate at campgrounds equipped with flush toilets and showers is $12 plus GST. Senior citizens who are residents of Nova Scotia will continue to receive a $2.00 per night discount.

As members of the House know, a detailed study of our provincial parks and campground systems was conducted by Voluntary Planning in the fall of 1993. It included extensive public consultation and resulted in several positive recommendations, Mr. Speaker, many of which have already been implemented.

The VP study suggests that the province should consider closing some low use parks. Then turn them over to the municipalities or the community development groups. There are five small picnic parks in the system with very low rates of usage and attendance. They are currently being offered to the municipalities where they are located. Judd's Pool located in St. Mary's; Kempt Road and Arichat, both in Richmond County; Fenwick in Cumberland County; and Nineveh in Lunenburg County. Although the province can no longer afford to maintain and operate these picnic parks, perhaps they can be taken over and operated by a municipality or a community group.

Mr. Speaker, we have established a department team headed by the Deputy Minister, Mr. Bill Hogg, to work with communities or groups interested in developing partnerships to operate these parks.

There are also two very low use campgrounds that the province will not operate this season. They are Wentworth Park in Cumberland County and Beaver Mountain Park in Antigonish. The occupancy rate at Beaver Mountain has been less than 14 per cent of its 47 campsites. At the Wentworth Campground, the occupancy rate has been less than 12.5 per cent of its 51 campsites. The day use areas at Wentworth and Beaver Mountain will be open from May 19th to October 10th. However, campground operations at the two parks are being offered to the municipalities or community groups.

Mr. Speaker, I am optimistic that there will be a positive response to these offers. I encourage the communities concerned to find a way to acquire and utilize these picnic parks and campgrounds in a beneficial manner.

Mr. Speaker, last season and this season have been seasons of change for our provincial parks system. Throughout these changes, our government's objective has always been the same and that is, to maintain and operate a park system that is attractive, flexible, efficient and affordable. Thank you. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Queens.

MR. JOHN LEEFE: Mr. Speaker, I thank the minister for making this announcement in the House today. I think that his announcement in this place is indicative of his understanding and the understanding of all of us that we, indeed, as the representatives of our constituencies across this province can and, indeed, should be ambassadors for our day use and camping parks with respect to encouraging visitors to come and enjoy them, enjoy not only the facilities they have to offer but also to enjoy the natural experience which is associated with them.

The minister during his estimates had an opportunity to discuss with me the matter of privatization and this reflects the degree of privatization to which the minister referred during the discussion of those estimates. I trust that this is the full extent of privatization that we will see with respect to parks in Nova Scotia and that the net will not be cast more broadly.

Also, I have to say, and the minister will not be surprised to hear me say this, that I am disappointed that Thomas Raddall Park in my own constituency has not yet reached the point where it is ready to be opened to the public and I am also disappointed to see that the one park in Cumberland County that is open is being closed down, without the work being completed and that the Cape Chignecto Park, with it being open to the public, is going to be a very fine park indeed, as is the one in my own constituency.

Also, I should say, Mr. Speaker, that I think it is very important that the minister's staff keep in close touch with the tourism officials in each of the areas where the parks are not being kept open in shoulder seasons. After all, if they aren't open then, they can't generate new business. If the tourism industry people in each of those regions can demonstrate to the minister that there is an opportunity for increasing the use of those parks in one or both of the shoulder seasons, I hope that he will keep his mind open with respect to increasing the weeks of the year that they are open.

For far too long, and I do not reference solely the last two years, the view has been with respect to the provincial parks to build them and they will come. In fact, that is a pretty poor way to encourage people to use your parks and get the percentage attendance up. It behooves any Government of Nova Scotia to ensure that the Parks Division of the Department of Natural Resources and the tourism officials in the Department of Tourism work hand in glove to market these parks, to increase the usage of these parks, in part to ensure that we provide more opportunity to tourists, more variety of opportunities to tourists but also in order to decrease the costs of these parks and, thereby, the burden on the taxpayer.

I welcome the minister's announcement today and I look forward to a very active marketing strategy on the part of his officials, in conjunction with ERA, with respect to increasing the use of these parks. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I just want to thank the minister for announcing that the parks will once again open this year. Unfortunately sometimes other departments, other ministers, just merely send this information over the wire service and it doesn't give us an opportunity to indicate our satisfaction to the fact that parks will, in fact, be open in the Province of Nova Scotia. That is good.

On the question of low use parks or parks described as low use by this minister and his department, I guess I would offer a caution, as I did during estimates on this issue, that the minister and his department, and I know they will but I will just say it again, take into consideration the importance of ensuring that all regions have a healthy supply of these kinds of parks for not only local residents but also people who may visit that particular part of the province, regardless of how much tourist traffic they may get. It is important for all parts of this province, it is important for all Nova Scotians to have an opportunity to make use of parks, whether they be campgrounds with low fees or whether they be day use parks. It is not always within the financial capabilities of some Nova Scotians to be able to travel great distances and to be able to afford more elaborate facilities.

So I would suggest that these kinds of parks are certainly important for those reasons and for people who can least afford to pay. So again let me commend the minister for his announcement and again echo the comments of the member for Queens, to say that the parks are certainly a valued part of the fibre and fabric of Nova Scotia, Mr. Speaker, and our leisure time in this province. Thank you.


MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Community Services.


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

Whereas throughout his life Ralph "Jigger" Mott was a dedicated volunteer for many organizations, particularly those that actively support Nova Scotia's seniors and youth; and

Whereas he promoted friendships between seniors and youth to be an example to all Nova Scotians of the importance of the joy of life and sharing with others; and

Whereas the Alzheimer's Society, along with the Royal Canadian Legion, continues to promote his legacy to all Nova Scotians by inviting everyone to walk for health and fitness in the memory of Jigger Mott;

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize the weeks of May 15 to June 15, 1995 as Jigger Mott Memory Walk Month.

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

The honourable Minister of Community Services.

HON. JAMES SMITH: I thank you, Mr. Speaker, for the opportunity, in conjunction with this resolution, to introduce to you and to all members of the House, in the east gallery, the widow of Jigger Mott, Ulua Mott. I would ask her, along with Robie Horne, the Coordinator of Seniors Affairs, Nova Scotia Command, the Royal Canadian Legion; Cliff Dorey, Jigger Mott's driver and friend; and also accompanying them today is Ms. Penny Doherty, the Executive Director of the Alzheimer's Society of Nova Scotia, to please stand and receive the warm welcome of the House. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Human Resources.


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

Whereas the Canadian Society of Fund Raising Executives recently held the Atlantic Region Awards for Philanthropy; and

Whereas the Canadian Society of Fund Raising Executives is dedicated to the professional development of fund raising executives and promoting a spirit of philanthropy; and

Whereas the economic impact of the charitable sector in the Canadian economy is immense, with over 70,000 registered charities having total annual revenues of $86 billion, employing 1.3 million people;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the 1995 award winners, namely: Jean Shaw, outstanding philanthropist of the year; the Bank of Nova Scotia, outstanding corporate philanthropist; the Dartmouth Firefighters Ladies Auxiliary, outstanding philanthropic group; Mardi Cockburn, outstanding volunteer fund raiser; and William Parker of Wolfville and Ray Pierce of Halifax, both of whom received the outstanding fund raising executive of the year award.

Mr. Speaker, I would request waiver of notice 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. (Applause)


Bill No. 19 - Entitled an Act to Incorporate the Region of Queens Municipality. (Mr. John Leefe)

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


MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.


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 bed and breakfast, farm and country bed and breakfast, and unique country inns industry are vital to the tourism industry of Nova Scotia, particularly rural Nova Scotia, representing as they do over 1,000 rooms and 660 Nova Scotian owners and staff, the equivalent of four or five hotels and motels operating in the metro area; and

Whereas the bed and breakfast, farm and country bed and breakfast, and unique country inns industry believes it is being improperly and unfairly dealt with by the review and assessment process of the Canada Select Accommodation Rating Program; and

Whereas the Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency has not met personally with representatives of this vital tourism industry to learn firsthand the serious difficulties being faced by these Nova Scotian businesses;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency meet immediately with representatives of the bed and breakfast, farm and country inns, and unique country inns industry to learn firsthand of their importance to the tourism industry of Nova Scotia, the difficulties they face with the Canada Select Rating and Licensing Program and the vital contribution they make to life and economy of rural Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for waiver and that the question be now put without debate.

[2:30 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party.


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 Rowell-Sirois Commission, Hall Commission, Carter Commission and other major Royal Commissions undertook broad consultation and careful studies that produced the framework of federal-provincial agreements that ensure comparative quality health, education and community services across Canada; and

Whereas Bill C-76 proposes to wipe out the results of that long, careful effort without even one day of public hearings outside Ottawa;

Therefore be it resolved that this House endorses the call by the Canadian Labour Congress for an independent commission to study the significant changes to Canada's public services that are proposed in Bill C-76.

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

MR. SPEAKER: I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Human Resources with an introduction.

HON. JAY ABBASS: In connection with the resolution I just read I am pleased to say that in the East Gallery we have Mr. Ray Pierce who was a recipient of the outstanding fund raising executive of the year award. I would ask Mr. Pierce to stand up and receive a welcome. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Bedford-Fall River.


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

Whereas May is Nova Scotia Art Month; and

Whereas the Province of Nova Scotia is endowed with many talented, highly-skilled amateur and professional artists who enrich our society by their diverse artistic expressions; and

Whereas the arts play a vital, creative role in our communities by fostering an appreciation for all that is good and beautiful;

Therefore be it resolved that this House support every activity designed to enhance the artistic skills of Nova Scotians and acknowledge the unique contribution that Nova Scotia artists and crafts people make to our culture and our economy.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

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.

The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.


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

Whereas Mr. Justice Richard of the Westray Inquiry has noted the Supreme Court of Canada's support for a timely, open inquiry into the disaster, including such questions as to how the coal mine was first established; and

Whereas the Departments of Natural Resources, Labour, Economic Renewal Agency, Justice and the Premier's Office have a direct interest in such questions, which are not related to the current trial; and

Whereas it can only undermine public confidence in the justice system should the government try additional methods of preventing the inquiry into government's own role in the Westray disaster;

Therefore be it resolved that the Justice Minister and government should cooperate with Mr. Justice Richards in establishing a timetable for the earliest possible public hearings into the government's role and other Westray Inquiry issues that do not impinge on the rights of the accused.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Shelburne.


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

Whereas on the afternoon of May 13, 1945, 750-ton grey-black German submarine officially surrendered and was escorted into Shelburne Harbour by Canadian Naval vessels; and

Whereas on board one of these Canadian Naval vessels was our esteemed member from Digby-Annapolis, Sub-Lieutenant Joe Casey; and

Whereas residents and visitors in Shelburne County have commemorated the 50th Anniversary of this surrender and the end of war during ceremonies held throughout this week;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this Assembly join the people of Shelburne County as we proudly salute our veterans and remember all of those dedicated men and women who served in World War II.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for waiver.

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried. (Applause)

The honourable member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage.


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

Whereas the Canadian Cancer Society is a national community-based organization of volunteers who support programs of research, education, patient services, fund raising and influence on public policy; and

Whereas the Canadian Cancer Society's symbol of hope to volunteers, cancer patients and their families is the daffodil; and

Whereas this promise of hope and renewal is also recognized at ecumenical prayer services held in communities throughout the province, including one held in my own community at Pope John XXIII Church in Colby Village;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this Assembly join those who gather in prayer with friends and families throughout Nova Scotia, and urge everyone to support the efforts of the Canadian Cancer Society, whose mission is the eradication of cancer and the enhancement of the quality of life of people living with cancer.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver of notice.

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.

The honourable Minister of Fisheries.


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

Whereas the District No. 1 Blandford Fire Department is among the first of Nova Scotia's 318 volunteer fire departments to offer a First Responders course for its members; and

Whereas 12 department members spent more than 40 hours in voluntary training provided by the Metro and District Ambulance Service, and successfully passed the exam; and

Whereas encouragement and development of First Responder capability is vital to the provision of emergency health services, particularly in rural communities;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the certified First Responders of District No. 1 Blandford Fire Department for taking action, through training, to assist residents and visitors to District No. 1 with informed and competent care when unexpected emergencies occur.

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

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.

The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.


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 head of the Regional Mental Health Unit in Yarmouth has welcomed the April 1st opening of a six bed in-patient adolescent crisis unit, noting that until then, "some youths in crisis were being inappropriately admitted" into other wards; and

Whereas the Yarmouth officials emphasize that out-patient and outreach treatment are not enough and worked for years to gain the 24 hour unit; and

Whereas this same government continues to deny such a unit for the much larger population in Cape Breton, leaving no option but inappropriate admissions and placements of youths in crisis;

Therefore be it resolved that before the Premier and the Health Minister travel to Friday's official opening of the Cape Breton Regional Hospital, they should authorize the long-planned and desperately needed adolescent crisis unit in that hospital.

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

MR. SPEAKER: I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage.


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

Whereas the National Science Fair will take place May 13th to May 21st in Whitehorse, Yukon; and

Whereas Penny Slight, a Grade 8 student of Astral Drive Junior High School in Cole Harbour, will be participating in the National Science Fair, as the result of entering a winning exhibit in the annual Metro Science Fair in March; and

Whereas some people have called the National Science Fair the world series of science as a crucial opportunity for young people and for our collective future as Canadians;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this Assembly extend congratulations to Penny Slight for her fine accomplishments and wish her every success at the National Science Fair.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver of notice.

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.

The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.


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

Whereas the end of term celebration for the Captain William Spry Library and Thomas Raddall Library Adult Literacy Programs, called A Celebration of Hope, takes place May 11th at the Captain Spry Library; and

Whereas this program began in 1976 and succeeds as a partnership of the Halifax District School Board, the Halifax City Regional Library and hundreds of volunteer tutors; and

Whereas in this year's Spry and Raddall programs 75 tutors have helped 110 learners, but the overall program is threatened by provincial funding cuts and new adult education policies;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulates the learners and tutors in this year's Adult Literacy Program at the Captain William Spry and Thomas Raddall Libraries, and wishes many years of continued success for this literacy program.

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

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.

Are there any additional notices of motion? If not, the Clerk has conducted a draw for the Adjournment debate at six o'clock. The winner today is the honourable member for Lunenburg. She has submitted a resolution reading:

Therefore be it resolved that members of the Assembly recognize all those associated with the tourism industry as they continue to work effectively and strategically to promote Nova Scotia to the world throughout 1995.

So we will hear deliberation of that matter at 6:00 o'clock this afternoon.

The Oral Question Period today runs for an hour and a half.

Yes, the honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, on that point, I wanted to raise something here in this House. I just received a piece of correspondence from the Nova Scotia Economic Renewal Agency about the Nova Scotia Ambassador Program. While my first reaction was that it was a bit hokey, as I read it further, I thought now this is a very creative idea, I thought it was really smart. It is something that I think for all of us who take a lot of pride in this province, it will give us the opportunity, as we already do, I think, to do our best to encourage people to come and visit this province.

I just wanted to take the opportunity to commend those members of the Economic Renewal Agency, including the minister, for that program.

MR. SPEAKER: Well, that is a very interesting point of order.

The honourable Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency in response to the point of order.

HON. ROBERT HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, it is my understanding that it is customary to make a response for this unsolicited - believe me, unsolicited - remark of compliment. The remarks obviously belong to all those who I hope in this House, because of each of you receive the same correspondence, that you would encourage women and men who are business leaders and travellers to pick up kits and become ambassadors for Nova Scotia. So I thank the honourable gentleman for his compliments and trust that we will follow through.

MR. SPEAKER: Very well. I think we should advance into Question Period without any further delay. The time now being 2:42 p.m, the Oral Question Period will run until 4:12 p.m.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.


MR. TERENCE DONAHOE: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency. On Wednesday, May 3, here in this place, I put some questions to the Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency relative to fixed roof accommodations and problems with licensing and Canada Select and so on.

Just a brief reference to Hansard of that date, at Page 1377, Mr. Speaker, has me saying to the minister that, "It appears now that those facilities are not now licensed. Hundreds and hundreds of such businesses in this province are today not licensed. The minister, as quoted in the press yesterday, is now blaming the delays on the bureaucracy. That the bureaucracy has somehow screwed up and not done the paperwork.".

Well the minister responded to me, Mr. Speaker, by giving me an assurance. He said, "Well, let me assure the honourable member opposite that the hotel industry has been informed. There is no point in issuing two licenses, that there is delay in the proclamation of the Act and the regulations that follow but that delay will produce regulations that are better for the industry, in many cases wanted by the industry. The industry is aware of the delays and I am sure that given the time it has taken to get the reforms, are delighted with the fact that the province is moving forward again, Mr. Speaker. (Applause)". I note that Hansard indicates that there was applause when the minister said those words.

My question to the minister is, would he tell this House today what steps has he personally taken in the last week to move the matter forward from where it was last week?

HON. ROBERT HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, the work that has taken place literally since the question was asked, and before, was to expedite the promulgation of the regulations, to make sure they were done as quickly as possible and to inform the owners and operators of licensed establishments in the Province of Nova Scotia of the delay and the fact that it would not be appropriate to be issuing two licenses in sequence.

MR. DONAHOE: I had occasion on that same date to ask the minister, and I used these words in putting my question, "I want to know and they . . .", meaning the bed and breakfast and the unique country inns and the farm and country inn organizations across the province, as I pointed out in the resolution which I tabled earlier, Mr. Speaker, representing about 1,000 beds across the province vital to the tourism industry and representing about 660 men and women and staff running those establishments, I asked the minister, "I want to know and they want to know when are these meetings . . ." to which the minister referred, " . . . and when is this minister going to get serious about the grading and the licensing of these vitally important institutions for our tourism industry?".

[2:45 p.m.]

The minister responded by saying that they were, ". . . trying to make sure that their sensitivity to a rating system is fair to their sector of the industry.", the bed and breakfast industry and so on, because they are unique. "We are discussing with them daily . . .", said the minister, ". . . and I would be delighted to chronicle the meetings, the letters, not necessarily each item of correspondence but the people with whom we have corresponded and discussed this particular issue.".

My question to the minister by way of supplementary is, can the minister chronicle the meetings and the letters by tabling them today, as he had indicated a week ago he would?

MR. HARRISON: Absolutely, Mr. Speaker. I made a commitment and I have honoured every commitment made to the honourable member. There is a list of meetings. I was looking for it a moment ago. I have asked my office to FAX over the document I have had here now for a number of days and would be quite delighted to chronicle not only the letters but the individual meetings with people in my department, on an issue which, if we were to read Hansard further, although the time does not permit, would restate the commitment to one of the most vital aspects of the tourism industry of Nova Scotia that the sensitivity for rating, a system that, by the way, bed and breakfast and country inn owners do not disagree with, the concept of letting customers know what to expect in terms of quality. What they do disagree with is the imposition of a system which may be unfair to certain segments of the tourism industry. I restate in the same Hansard almost word for word, I am sure, a commitment to one of the most vital parts, pieces of the tapestry, the work of Nova Scotia tourism, a commitment to make sure that as much consensus can be derived as possible on a rating system that is fair to all sectors of the tourism industry.

MR. DONAHOE: Mr. Speaker, the minister told me as well on May 3rd that, his words were, "I have already told you, I told him yesterday. We are corresponding with the operators throughout the province to indicate that the delay in licenses will occur as a result of regulations that they are totally familiar with and a timeframe with which they are totally familiar.".

My supplementary to the minister is, would he tell me, in light of the very flowery speech that he made just now about his understanding of how unique and how important and how vital this sector of the tourism industry actually is, will the minister tell me now what personal correspondence has the minister had with the bed and breakfasts, the farm and country bed and breakfast, the unique country inns' operators and leaders, to ensure that they are familiar with the situation with the licenses and the like and to ensure that their uniqueness would be respected when the Canada Select licensing and registration criteria are finally established?

MR. HARRISON: I think, Mr. Speaker, I have already committed to tabling a document that, unfortunately, is just simply absent at the moment but will be here shortly. That does chronicle every letter, all of the meetings that have taken place during, say, the last three or four months on the very issue the honourable member raises. Once again I make the commitment that we will work with this sector of the industry. There are funds committed to making sure that this difficult task, because the word unique is a contradiction to the concept of a comparable rating system, so the challenge here is to derive connoisseurship about an experience in tourism that is hard to compare one with the other. Yet, we will attempt to do that. Most importantly, we will do that with the very partners that are obviously affected by any rating system that is derived in the province. As soon as that gets here, the honourable member can have it.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.


MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I would like to direct my question through you to the Premier. We have learned recently that there was an assessment done by the previous administration, of the possibility for decentralizing jobs to Cape Breton. It was done shortly prior to this government taking over and, in fact, things had reached the stage where decisions were to be made in short order. I would like to ask the minister why then, two years later, his government has failed to proceed with the necessary consultation and decision-making to put into action a workable decentralization plan?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, this is a serious matter that has concerned us and we are taking time because it is delicate. It does involve people and their families and it is therefore not a subject that we will rush into. We made that clear at the time and it will continue to be important for this government.

MR. CHISHOLM: I know again that I am being somewhat unrealistic here expecting anything to happen within two years. Let me proceed, Mr. Speaker, because it is clear that the Cabinet Ministers are intimately aware of what the previous government had been doing or was proposing to do, we have seen it in the last couple of days in terms of the current Minister of Transportation's tirade into what the former Ministers of Transportation had in the works.

This Premier has been dealing with this issue since taking office, it was part of their platform when running for election. So I want to ask the Premier again, why it is that he has put the question of decentralization of jobs to areas such as Cape Breton on to the back burner?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, to my knowledge, this is the first time we have been accused in two years of dramatic rapid change, of dragging our feet on an issue like this. We have changed more in two years, we have had an agenda that has been packed and, quite simply, not every item can fit on an agenda that has been as busy as ours. They know that. The issue is important to us, we will keep it as an important issue for us but we will not rush into it.

MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I would be happy to table an excerpt from the briefing book of the Department of Economic Development prepared in June 1993, which dealt with the matters that I just discussed.

I would like to say to the Premier that in light of the rising unemployment in Cape Breton, in light of the rising unemployment in many regions of this province, will he now begin at least to hold negotiations, to hold discussions with the Nova Scotia Government Employees Union to determine how, in fact, a workable decentralization plan can be put into place to try to finally meet the commitment that this Premier and his government have been talking about since they were running for election in the spring of 1993?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite is free with the truth, as usual. To imply that unemployment is up in this province is a downright misunderstanding, shall I say. We know very well that the unemployment in this area is 9.7 per cent and that is the lowest east of Ottawa and (Interruptions) Mr. Speaker, . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please, so that the Premier can give his answer.

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, he spoke about other areas as well. The unemployment, for your information, my friend, is down in Cape Breton, marginally. So, the issue of what has been done by this government in job creation is quite clear, unemployment in the province has dropped considerably by over 2 points and in some cases by 2.5 points in the time that we have been here. That is job creation and we are dedicated to increasing the employment possibilities in Cape Breton as a matter of great priority.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition on an introduction.

MR. TERENCE DONAHOE: Mr. Speaker, I wonder if I might be permitted an introduction before I place my question? I would like to introduce to you, and through you to all members of the House, a number of important guests in your gallery. I would like to introduce Mr. Ted Fraser, who is President of the Nova Scotia Association of Unique Country Inns; Mrs. Jennie Shaddoe of Planters Barracks, Port Williams; Mrs. Judy Langley, Duffus House in Baddeck; Rhys Harnish, Dauphinee House, Hubbards; Eve and Mike Concannon, the Marquis of Dufferin, Head of Jeddore; Mr. Alan Redmond, Coopers Inn, Shelburne; Mr. Bernard Mason, Nova Scotia Bed and Breakfast and Farm Vacation Association; and Mr. Ted Castleman, President, Nova Scotia Farm and Country Bed and Breakfasts. I would invite you and all members to offer them the usual warm welcome. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.


MR. TERENCE DONAHOE: My question is to the Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency. As he will immediately recognize, the important men and women who are small business entrepreneurs here in this province and vital members of the tourism industry of this province are the very partners in the tourism enterprise to which he just referred, to use his word, partners. Mr. Speaker, these men and women are here today because they are, as I have been attempting to have the Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency understand, they are very concerned. They are not only concerned for themselves but for hundreds of others in the province's tourism industry. They tell me they have been attempting to make contact directly with the minister to tell him directly that the Canada Select licensing and registration system is simply not sensitive to their unique element or aspect of the industry. As the minister rightly pointed out, they are not objecting to a grading, licensing or a registration system but their uniqueness is not being reflected in it and what they sell is not being reflected, because they sell uniqueness, warmth, personality, hospitality and the handshake on the front doorstep and that sort of thing.

So, my question to the Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency is if he will indicate to me whether he can give this House an undertaking that when the licensing and registration criteria are drawn up in concert with Canada Select and when the regulations are proclaimed under the legislation we passed last session, will the minister give the commitment that the uniqueness of this sector of the tourism industry of Nova Scotia will be properly, adequately and fully reflected and respected in those regulations?

HON. ROBERT HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, I, too, welcome the guests, some of whom I have had correspondence with and others whom I have not yet had the pleasure to meet and would be delighted to meet with at any time. I assume they are here partly because of Rendez-vous which is going on at the World Trade and Convention Centre where we brought literally the world of the market place of tourism to Nova Scotia. Many of the people that I met in Europe are most fascinated with the country inns, the bed and breakfasts, the unique eco-tourism and all of the other tourism related industries in Nova Scotia.

I will restate the commitment I have made in this House on a number of occasions on this issue and undoubtedly will be making through correspondence, if I have not already done so, to the people who are upstairs and those for whom these remarks are meant. This is one of the most critical aspects of Nova Scotia's tourism industry. We have a province-wide tourism entity. One could liken it in metaphorical sense to a cruise boat, the class of the QEII, for instance, where all of the aspects of tourism must be co-related, that were attracting the world to Nova Scotia as a tourism destination and that the very people in our gallery, Mr. Speaker, and those who are represented in that industry sector, are extremely important.

So, yes, the commitment is to derive as much consensus as possible on a rating system that seems to defy uniqueness and yet, must somehow, as it is done in Europe and other places in the world, come to terms with unique destinations for tourists. We will attempt to do so. I will now table the chronology of events that have taken place in response to the question from the member opposite the other day which chronicles the consultation that has taken place to date. I would remind him of the $100,000 that is being spent between ACOA and ERA to do the very job he is talking about, to assure that Canada Select or whatever rating system we determine, is as sensitive as possible to every aspect of tourism in this province. It is our most important industry, it is over $1 billion, I hope, this year. It will go to $1.6 billion as our target in two years or three years and it will be done with sensitivity and commitment to each and every player in the tourism industry. (Applause)

AN HON. MEMBER: Hear! Hear!

MR. DONAHOE: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased that the minister makes reference to the $100,000, ACOA, the ERA and the Canada Select initiative, but I am here to tell him, because the people who I have introduced, who represent this industry, tell me, and through me, I want him to understand for them that they are telling me that they are not at all satisfied that the meetings that are taking place are leading in the direction of representing or reflecting the uniqueness of this element of the tourism industry.

On that basis, I ask this minister today if he will in this place today give me a commitment that he will meet with these people outside and make arrangements to have a meeting with these men and women who are leaders in this industry at a time when his appointment book allows and theirs does, as well, so that he can hear from them personally what the fundamental concerns and flaws are about the meetings that he is describing? Would he make such an undertaking to meet with them directly face to face?

MR. HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, I think I just made that commitment in the answer to the last question, but I will repeat it again. Of course, I will. Mr. Mason's letter arrived yesterday. I know exactly every word in that letter and the concerns that he has expressed. He has my undertaking in this House, as he will in terms of return correspondence, as do the others who have perhaps written or those who haven't, that we are working at achieving the maximum amount of consensus on this issue, so that this segment of the industry, in the tourism industry, understands that we are doing just that. That we will end up with a rating system that derives as much consensus as possible. They have my commitment, I will make it personally after the House rises today and will continue to meet with people and so will my staff, until this is resolved. (Applause)

[3:00 p.m.]

MR. DONAHOE: The Minister of Transportation and Communications says Terry the receptionist or whatever he says, I am simply attempting, Mr. Speaker, as I am sure you appreciate and as you did when you were on the Opposition benches attempting to represent the interests of people who are concerned that they believe they need direct face-to-face access to the minister to resolve a very serious problem. I hear the minister's undertaking and I am sure our guests in the gallery have heard it and I want to say that I appreciate that he has given it and that I have every confidence, that if a meeting takes place face to face with the minister and these leaders of this element of the industry, that success will be had. Could the minister by way of final supplementary, give me an indication please, as to how much longer he believes it might be before the legislation will be proclaimed and regulations will be in place?

MR. HARRISON: Again, in terms of the repeat of the undertaking, there is no question that we will attempt to work through those details in terms of the consultation on Canada Select. The regulations and the legislation that was brought into the House in the fall session is not necessarily connected, well it isn't connected, in fact, to the issue we have just been discussing. As to the timetable of those regulations, as I recall from a briefing note a few days ago, the attempt was . . . (Interruption) it is a matter of weeks, Mr. Speaker, but how many I am not sure right at the moment. I will undertake to get back to the member opposite.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings West.



MR. GEORGE MOODY: My question is for the Premier. The Premier will remember in May 1993, during the election campaign, Warden Coady sent a letter out to all the constituents saying that amalgamation or exchange of services would increase the taxes in the county 20 per cent. I would ask the minister, did the minister meet with Warden Coady, two or three days prior to the minister going to Cape Breton to meet with the municipal leaders, along with Ed Cramm, the Minister of Municipal Affairs and the Minister of Finance at the Halliburton House?

MR. SPEAKER: To whom was that question addressed?

MR. MOODY: The Premier.

MR. SPEAKER: You said the minister several times.

MR. MOODY: He heard the preamble did he?

MR. SPEAKER: You were saying to the minister, would the minister say this?

MR. MOODY: I am sorry, the Premier, will the Premier confirm that that meeting took place, that I just indicated and who the people were at the meeting?

THE PREMIER: This is before 1993? I am sorry, it was a convoluted question.

MR. MOODY: Did the Premier meet with Warden Coady, prior to the minister - I think on May 4, 1994 - going to Cape Breton to meet with the municipal leaders to talk. The Minister of Municipal Affairs went up to meet with the leaders about amalgamation in Cape Breton. Did the Premier and the Minister of Municipal Affairs, the Minister of Finance and Ed Cramm, meet with Warden John Coady at the Halliburton House, in Halifax two or three days prior to the minister going to Cape Breton to meet with the municipal leaders?

THE PREMIER: I can't answer that, I don't have a recollection of that particular meeting. We did meet with the four metro mayors in the Halliburton House. I will check the records, but I really don't remember each time I dine with somebody and particularly as Warden Coady, who I met quite often, particularly as he was my Vice-President when I was President of FCM, so I will find out for him.

MR. MOODY: I thank the minister, I wonder if he would check to see if that meeting actually took place, not with all of the mayors of Cape Breton region, but Warden Coady, and himself and the people that I mentioned, two or three days prior to May 4th? If the Premier would check his calendar and find out if actually that meeting took place, I wonder when the Premier could inform me whether that meeting actually took place or not?

THE PREMIER: I thought I just said quite clearly that I don't recollect meeting in any particular occasion. I will find out but obviously, I am not going to leave Question Period to go and find out where I was on May 4, 1994.

MR. MOODY: No, just to clear that up, it wasn't May 4th; it was May 4th that the minister was up in Cape Breton and it was two or three days prior to that. I don't expect the minister to leave Question Period to get me the answer. I wonder if the Premier could get me the answer today, so that I could know tomorrow, in fact, whether that meeting took place, because I have been informed that it did. I would ask the minister to either confirm or deny that such a meeting took place.

MR. SPEAKER: The minister or the Premier?

MR. MOODY: The Premier.

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I can give a repetition, if you want it. I am certainly not going to make an effort to deliver it today. I will certainly check my records, but I am not going to rush out and find out where I was on May 1st, 2nd, 3rd or 4th, simply because of this question.

MR. SPEAKER: Beauchesne states that a question that has been previously answered ought not to be asked again, so I note that for what it is worth.

The honourable member for Queens.


MR. JOHN LEEFE: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency, in his capacity as Minister of Tourism.

The minister has made it very clear, and properly so, that bed and breakfasts, unique country inns, farm vacations form a measurably important segment of the tourism sector here in Nova Scotia. I wonder if the minister could advise the House whether it is his view that this sector has, as its spokesman, the tourist industry of Nova Scotia? Is the tourist industry of Nova Scotia deemed by the minister to be the spokesperson for this sector?

HON. ROBERT HARRISON: Well, there is no question that TIANS, as I understand it, Mr. Speaker, does represent the broad Tourism Industry Association of Nova Scotia, hence their acronym. I am not sure if I understand whether the question is, do they represent them in actuality; do they represent their interests; or are they part of the organization? I am not sure I understand the question.

MR. LEEFE: Well, I am sorry the minister doesn't understand it. Perhaps he will read Hansard and think about it because I think the question is pretty straightforward.

Mr. Speaker, in speaking with people who represent those three areas within that very important sector, I am led to believe that the minister and his department are determined to implement a system of ratings which are entirely unrelated to that sector and what it has to offer with respect to tourism in Nova Scotia, that it is a rating system that is not wanted by them. It is a rating system which, in fact, will, if anything, seriously erode their capacity to continue as vigorous partners in the tourism industry.

I want to know from the minister, why is it that his department seems entirely bent on developing a system of ratings which may well serve the Sheratons of this world, but will very seriously erode the capacity of these other partners in tourism that serve rural and small town Nova Scotia so effectively?

MR. HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, we seem to be going over the same ground here. I think we have attempted to answer this question, that in fact the honourable Leader of the Opposition, the leader of his caucus, indicated a moment ago that he has every understanding that, in fact, all sectors of the tourism industry do want a rating system. So I am a little confused by the comment that they don't want a rating system. I think the issue has to do with a rating system that is sensitive to all sectors. I think that is probably the issue and therein lies the controversy at the moment; hence the consultation, and hence the commitment to deriving as much consensus.

You know, Mr. Speaker, this is a critical point in the future of Nova Scotia tourism. We know that the customers need a measure of equivalence, we know that they need a confidence in quality rating. We are attempting to do so and obviously there are some concerns among members of certain segments, extremely important segments of the association, and you have a pledge from a relatively new minister to derive as much consensus as possible.

I wonder, Mr. Speaker, at the purpose of these questions. Are we attempting here to create controversy, which we are attempting to resolve? Are we attempting to support one of the most important industries in the province, or are we attempting to create some theatre here? That is what I wonder. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please, so we can hear the final supplementary question.

MR. LEEFE: The minister uses the word "wonder". I think he should employ the word wander and wander out of this Chamber and meet with the men and women in this sector who very much wanted to have the opportunity to express directly to them what their concerns are.

My final question, Mr. Speaker, is this, will the Minister of Tourism provide the same level of support to those operators in the sector which is being referenced here this afternoon that he has provided, for example, to the member for Colchester North, who has introduced a bill in this place, the effect of which will be to lift a specific operation out from underneath the umbrella of the National Building Code.

If he is prepared to go to the wall for one member and one operation, is this minister prepared to go to the wall with respect to ensuring that the Canada Select system will not adversely impact on this sector and, additionally, to go to the wall and force ACOA to provide assistance to this sector, even though it may not be listed under Canada Select?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please, so that we can hear the answer.

MR. HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member is obviously not familiar with what is going on here. In fact, ACOA is pulling out of the very rating system that is producing the need for us to replace it with something sensitive. So to go the wall and demand that ACOA do anything is like living in the past. To mention walls, we have just come off a fiscal and environmental and social wall second to none in the history of this province and we are coming off the wall exporting, and we are exporting tourism.

In order to export tourism, we need customer satisfaction. In order to get that, we have to have a rating system which no one disagrees with; not the people in the gallery, not the Leader of the Opposition, only it seems, the member for Queens.

We will have a rating system, Mr. Speaker. It will be derived on as much consensus as is possible and we will have it as soon as possible. It will be sensitive and it will drive this industry into the 21st Century. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.


MS. ALEXA MCDONOUGH: Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask the Minister of Community Services about the protracted labour dispute at Bryony House, the transition house in metro that is providing shelter and services to women and children, victims of domestic violence.

Mr. Speaker, I think it is fair to say that the community has looked on with some horror as the workers at Bryony House have unsuccessfully attempted to gain their first collective agreement. It is very disappointing that there appears to be no meaningful progress towards a fair settlement.

In view of the climate of uncertainty for the clientele of Bryony House and also the continuing climate of insecurity for the staff, I wonder if the minister would indicate what proactive measures he and his office are prepared to take, to try to impress upon the Bryony House board that their members occupy a position of trust on behalf of the community, in providing these support services to women and children at risk?

HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I welcome this question. This is a very important issue, a very sensitive issue. It is one that has caused concern, I agree with the honourable member, particularly in the Halifax-Dartmouth metro region but to all Nova Scotians who have concern about the safety of women and children in situations of neglect and abuse.

Our senior staff have been monitoring the situation. We have met with members of the board and we would also be open to a delegation from staff. We have monitored the service, particularly services to women and children, that is the primary focus of our monitoring. We have tried to keep abreast of the issues, as well as we can.

This is a situation where we would have to make alternative arrangements. We would have to be prepared to offer back-up services if, in any way, there was a threat to the services of women and children. We are satisfied at this time, Mr. Speaker, that under the circumstances, this is being met but we have grave concern. It is open that we meet with my senior staff in the Department of Community Services, meet with the board and/or members of staff that we could do whatever we could to bring this to some resolution. It is a major concern and I think it is an important issue.

MS. MCDONOUGH: I think it is evident that people, particularly women in this community, of all political stripes, of all ages and stages across the continuum of labour and management backgrounds, have expressed their concern for what is happening but also, to some extent, have remained silent in the hope that this board would undertake their responsibilities to make every effort to move towards a resolution of this very unsatisfactory situation.

I guess I would like to ask the minister if he has satisfied himself that the board has exhausted all available means, to try to come to a satisfactory solution and whether he has been able to communicate with that board the concern that is felt about the climate of uncertainty that has been generated by the fact that this labour dispute has been so protracted?

[3:15 p.m.]

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I have not personally communicated with the board. As the member has said in her preamble, this is a most sensitive issue that many people have been watching rather quietly, if you will, because there is a process in place that could be followed should the initiative be taken on agreement with both sides.

I am satisfied that the board has the tools to do the job. Our job as members of Community Services and senior staff, has been monitoring the services and we have been doing that very closely. Every day I have a continuous update of that very sensitive issue.

The funding, while all transition homes have had difficulties over the past, as a new government, we have tried to address these as well as we can. If it is a funding issue, it is one that we would be prepared to review with the board. I am satisfied that our staff have done all that we can do; that the services are in place, that it is not threatening at this juncture, Mr. Speaker, the life and safety of women and children. But it is one that I would hope that all those involved, the board and the staff, will work together and come to some resolution.

There is autonomy within that board and they have the responsibilities. As a department of government, we will not interfere until we see that there is undue danger or lack of services. We would hold them to the mandate that we understand that they have to our department and to the women and children of Nova Scotia.

MS. MCDONOUGH: Mr. Speaker, I think it is, in some respects perhaps, we have all engaged in something of a conspiracy of silence around the horrifying situation there. I would like to ask the minister if he could address a question that has arisen about the fact that the board reduced the number of beds to 10 and then increased those beds to 24 in the last week or so, with fairly or unfairly a kind of impression conveyed to the staff that they have become convinced that staff wouldn't strike anyway and besides the Department of Social Services would probably move in with replacement services if they did. So, there has, I think, been a further poisoning of the labour relations climate in that instance.

I wonder if the minister could indicate whether his department has played a role in relation to the increase of those beds to full complement again, and if so, what that role has been and what the implication is of the reduction and then the increase of those beds that has taken place over the last couple of weeks?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, in addressing the earlier questions, I tried to make it clear that we recognize the autonomy of the board, we recognize the rights of staff. The process is in place and we are monitoring the safety of those that are served, whether there is 10 or 20 or 24 beds, we know there is essentially 24 but with an occupancy rate providing for about 75 per cent. I would speak for myself and senior staff that I have no knowledge there was any encouragement to make things appear better, neither would there have been anything done that would give advantage to one side or the other. This is a very sensitive issue. We recognize the rights of the board and also of the staff. Our job has been to monitor the safety.

If the honourable member has any evidence that there has been any influence, because she is sort of implying that maybe that has happened, I would be prepared that she would either share with members of the House or with myself. We want to be fair in this and we would not give advantage to one side or the other. We are on the side of the children and women that they serve and we will make sure that that is adhered to and monitored.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants West.


MR. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Housing and Consumer Affairs. Yesterday, during estimates, the Minister of Housing confirmed that the Senior Citizens Assistance Program, in effect, is no longer in existence. In its place there is a new grant called the Provincial Housing Grant which applies to all those applicants across the province who meet certain qualifications and apply for grants to repair their homes.

The minister did say, however, that seniors are still eligible to apply. I wonder if the minister would confirm in the House today that a senior who phones a department at the present time and who meets all the criteria under the old Senior Citizens Assistance Program will indeed be told that yes, indeed, their application will be processed and will be proceeded with?

HON. ELEANOR NORRIE: Mr. Speaker, that program has not been scrapped. I did not say that yesterday. The criteria for that program is now under the Housing Grant and $1.5 million of the Provincial Housing Grant is dedicated to that program. If a senior is eligible and applying for that program that is offered by the department, if they are qualified, they will be given every consideration.

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, last December and in January, February and March, when seniors phoned the Department of Housing looking for a grant under SCAP, they were informed that there was no longer any money. Yet, within the estimates for the department, they still had $1.4 million allocated under the Senior Citizens Assistance Program. Now those people who phoned, many of them sent in letters requesting that they be considered for the program when money became available. Have those people as yet been contacted to advise them that their applications are in the process of being processed?

MRS. NORRIE: Mr. Speaker, I am not aware of applications that are in the department right now. If there are applications there, now that the budget has been approved by the House, those applications I assume would be reviewed and those people who applied would be informed. I can get more information as the minister requests. I can find out from the department where those applications are now.

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I just want to make two points before I put my question. One is, the minister says that the program has not been scrapped. I defy her to show me in her estimates where there is anything allocated to the Senior Citizens Assistance Program. That is number one and number two is . . .

MR. SPEAKER: This is not point period, it is Question Period.

MR. RUSSELL: I know, Mr. Speaker, that the minister has said that there is $1.5 million there. Well, I will send her across the names of two people who have contacted the department, one in January and the other one, I believe, in February, who have not received a word from the department. When they first called in, they were told that there was no money available. Could the minister confirm that she will look into those two particular cases?

MRS. NORRIE: Yes, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou Centre.


DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Housing and Consumer Affairs. The minister is very aware of the plight of very three Westville homeowners whose homes were affected by subsidence due to a collapse of tunnels of the old Diamond Mine. The minister again is very aware that one of the houses is still uninhabitable and two of the homes have had only temporary repairs done. I understand the minister very recently, perhaps as recently as last weekend, has visited Diamond Street in Westville and is very aware of the situation. My question to the minister is, would she outline for the House the help that was offered to the three families during her recent visit to Westville?

HON. ELEANOR NORRIE: Mr. Speaker, I have been briefed very thoroughly by the department on the subsidence issue. I do know that there are four departments of government who have a committee in place to address this issue, not only of the area he speaks of, but also of all those across the province that are affected. We are now waiting for that committee to report back on how we will deal with all those in the province who are affected by the subsidence situation in the coal mining towns of Nova Scotia.

DR. HAMM: Mr. Speaker, I had difficulty hearing the answer but I believe the minister said that three or four government departments are working concurrently to look and see what can be done. May I ask then by way of first supplementary the minister, obviously, then, is prepared to accept that the government has a responsibility and obligation to the families and would the minister specifically reply in terms of the three families in Westville what specific plan does she have to restore the homes to proper condition particularly the middle home which is being destroyed by the elements because it is not capable of being heated since subsidence has resulted in a destruction of the water into the home and as well it is no longer being heated. Will the minister outline the specific help that is going to be offered to these families?

MRS. NORRIE: As I had stated we are concerned not only with the homes in that area that he mentions but we are also concerned about all the homes that are affected. The province is looking at it through four different departments to assess the whole situation across the province to see if there is a viable way of handling their concerns and see if there is some way the province can assist those people who have been affected.

DR. HAMM: I thank the minister for her answer. I did have conversations with the minister's predecessor on this particular subject and he mentioned the possibility of offering to all the residents of Nova Scotia who would be potential victims of subsidence a protection plan which at present is not available to homeowners in this particular jeopardy. Is that the nature of the assistance to which the minister is making reference at this time?

MRS. NORRIE: I think the issue that has been raised is one that is very serious, not only in that area but in all areas of the province where there are homes that have been affected by this, I guess I would call it a disastrous effect of some of the coal mining that has gone on in the province over the last century. As he states, my predecessor has looked into this and I had been briefed by the department that there may be some way that the province can come up with some sort of a program so that we can assist those people who had been affected. There is a committee of four departments looking into that, there are studies being done on the cost of that and we are taking it very seriously. All the ministers who are involved with the four departments where we do have the committees that are assessing this are working together hoping that we could address the situations that are affecting those families that have been so surely affected.

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



MR. JOHN HOLM: I would like to direct my question through you, sir, to the Minister of Municipal Affairs. The minister, of course, will recall that I have both in this House and during her estimates asked some questions about the grant that she made to the Harbourview Senior Citizens Club in her own constituency. During the estimates debate the minister told me that she thinks that the club is registered under the Societies Act and that the club members were having some difficulty with the rules and they were getting tied up with the rules and regulations and therefore they had asked that a board of directors be appointed.

Well, a check with the Registry of Joint Stocks reveals that, in fact, the Harbourview Seniors Club is not registered. My question to the minister is quite simply this, did the minister's executive assistant, who became one of those directors and to whom some of the money that was spent was advanced, did he mislead the minister?

[3:30 p.m.]

HON. SANDRA JOLLY: No, Mr. Speaker.

MR. HOLM: We know that the minister wasn't misled. Within months, Mr. Speaker, of the board of directors being appointed by the minister, all the money was gone and a lock was placed on the door of the club. Within months. The minister said that she didn't know if the seniors' groups had kept any minutes and she didn't know if there was any formal request made. She said she would check.

So, my question to the minister is quite simply this. Has she found any minutes, any records, any formal records, where the minister was asked to appoint a board of directors, all of whom are well-connected and well-known Liberals to this minister, did she find any of those and if not, on what authority did she give that Liberal board of directors the authority to control and spend that money?

MS. JOLLY: Mr. Speaker, as I mentioned to the honourable member as per his request, I have been trying to get hold of the president, Mrs. Joan Hayes. I have called three times and have not been able to contact her yet. I am in the process of writing a letter and requesting the information that the honourable member has requested of me. I would hope to have that some time in the near future.

MR. HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I have to scratch my head, here it is public money belonging to the taxpayers of Nova Scotia and the minister does not have in her possession or in the possession of the department any records, any information that authorized her to appoint that board of directors and to give them the directions to spend that money. Well, both her EA and his wife were advanced some monies under that . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Is this a question?

MR. HOLM: . . . and some have suggested that it was given to them so that they could pay in cash . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Some have suggested is not a question.

MR. HOLM: Yes, Mr. Speaker, there is a question coming, I assure you. So that they could pay in cash those who were involved in the underground economy. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: This is too long, I will have to rule it out of order.

MR. HOLM: My question to the minister is quite simply, will the minister table in this House copies of receipts that show where that money and for what purpose that money that was advanced to her EA and her EA's wife was spent? Will she table that on the floor of the House here today?

MR. SPEAKER: Well, I am very unhappy with this line of questioning. Beauchesne makes it clear that we must exercise great care in making statements about persons who are outside the House and unable to reply. (Interruptions)

MS. JOLLY: I am very pleased to be right here. (Applause) I guess they are not happy that I am on this side rather than that side. Well, I am happy to be here.

Mr. Speaker, I, personally, don't have copies of the minutes at the moment because I am not a member of the seniors' club, contrary to what some people may think. (Laughter) I am glad that I am not there. But as I have said from the beginning, with the questions from the honourable member, I am in the process of getting the material that the honourable member has requested. In contacting the seniors' club, as I said before, they have moved, they have made a number of changes and once I get that material, I will be more than happy to table that for the honourable member.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou Centre.


DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of the Environment. The minister is aware that a total environmental review is being conducted in Stellarton on the lands of the old Wimpey pit. Would the minister inform the House the status of that review?

HON. WAYNE ADAMS: Mr. Speaker, I will undertake at this moment to tell the member and the House that I will undertake to bring back an update situation of that review.

DR. HAMM: I had difficulty again hearing the answer, Mr. Speaker. But I take it that the minister is not aware of the status but he will undertake to determine it.

Will he confirm then, in the way of the report, when will the report be finished and when will it be made public?

MR. ADAMS: Mr. Speaker, the answer to that question will be included in the response to the first question, that I will endeavour to bring back to the House a full report on the status and its targets.

DR. HAMM: I heard that with great clarity from the minister. By way of final supplementary, is it the minister's intention that, when the review is made public, there will be an opportunity for residents in the area to participate in public hearings relative to the review report?

MR. ADAMS: Mr. Speaker, I can't give him the exact terms of reference of the assessment but if that is part of the terms of reference, that will take place. If it is not, I will clarify that for him as well.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings North.


MR. GEORGE ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Supply and Services. The minister is probably aware that Friden Neopost Canada is on a current standing order to supply table top inserters for the Government Postal Service. However, last fall this standing order was ignored and a tender was awarded to Pitney Bowes to supply one of these table top inserters for the Department of Agriculture office in Kentville. The inserter doesn't work and it is yet to be replaced by Pitney Bowes. Could the minister explain why Pitney Bowes would have been permitted the chance to tender against a company whose price was fully known to them, because they were on a standing order to deliver those items?

HON. GERALD O'MALLEY: Mr. Speaker, while that was somewhat of a convoluted question, I will take the matter under advisement and I will report back to the honourable member at the first opportunity as to why Pitney Bowes was chosen.

MR. ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, I note the amusement from the member for Cape Breton South who says that it must be the bottom of the barrel to ask a question like that. Well, it may be to him but to the person from Friden Neopost Canada who lost the contract to Pitney Bowes in an unfair way, he doesn't think it is very fair.

Well, the minister indicated to me he would look into this and he would get back to me as quickly as possible. I would like to ask the minister how, in the future, is he going to prevent actions like this from taking place? You have brought in some new guidelines and what are you going to do, as the minister, to prevent unfair tendering practices taking place like this?

MR. O'MALLEY: Mr. Speaker, with the greatest of respect for the honourable member opposite who just indicated that this was an unfair tendering practice, I think he is living in the past. I think he is living in his own regime and he is unable to break out of that regime. I have not said that this was an unfair tendering practice and I am not prepared to accept his observation that it is an unfair tendering practice. I indicated to the honourable member that I will look into this matter and I will report to the House.

Surely the honourable member doesn't expect me to come to this House with the results of all the tenders that are let through the Public Tendering Office of the Province of Nova Scotia. (Interruptions) Mr. Speaker, I reject out of hand the allegation of the honourable member as a figment of his imagination, but I will bring the results of his question to the House.

MR. ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, with that minister's undertaking that he is going to look into it and correct the problem, I would like to ask the Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency a question.

MR. SPEAKER: This will be counted as a new question, to the honourable Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency.


MR. GEORGE ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, my question for the Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency is, I want to know, as does Mrs. Verge of Middleton, Nova Scotia, will the Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency release the attendance figures for 1994 for the attendance at the operation of the Upper Clements Theme Park in Annapolis County?

HON. ROBERT HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, if the honourable member would give me Mrs. Verge's address - I assume he will table her letter - I will be happy to send her any and all attendance records, financial statements, the success of this particular venture.

MR. ARCHIBALD: Would the minister also table it for the members of the House and perhaps I could it send it to Mrs. Verge. (Interruptions) It is quite obvious there is a reason why she wrote to me and not to him. She has probably already written to him. Would the minister table in this House, for me, for other members and for Nova Scotians, the attendance for last summer at the Upper Clements Family Theme Park?

MR. HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, I would ask once again that the honourable member table the letter from Mrs. Verge. I think it is appropriate if he is quoting a letter from someone that he table that letter. Both Mr. Rayfuse and myself will be glad to supply her and copy, obviously, to the honourable member any and all information that Mrs. Verge is asking and that we are able to give her. The fact that she has probably written me, I can assure him that she has not written me or she would already have the information.

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


MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the honourable Minister of Justice. Considering the significant outcry from many gun owners from across the province with regard to the newly proposed federal gun legislation contained in Bill No. C-68, I want to know as does Mr. D. Maxwell of Hants East, Mr. P. Spicer of Cumberland South, Mr. E. Swaine of Shelburne and thousands of gun owners across Nova Scotia, they want to know what this provincial Liberal Government's position is regarding the issue of gun control. Has the present government been active in bringing the attention to the federal Liberal Government the views of gun owners in Nova Scotia?

HON. WILLIAM GILLIS: Mr. Speaker, gun control, as all honourable members know, is a very controversial matter. We also know that it is an important matter, but we have a Government of Canada, some governments have enough trouble at their level be it municipal, provincial or federal running their own business so we have tried to stick to our own knitting and do what we are supposed to do here. (Applause)

MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, obviously by that answer the provincial Minister of Justice is not listening to his constituents and he is not listening to rural Nova Scotia. My question is this. The Ministers of Justice of the Provinces of Saskatchewan, Alberta and the Yukon have made presentation to the federal Justice Committee relative to this concern. Will this provincial Liberal Government of Nova Scotia be making any oral or written representation to that committee on behalf of the gun owners in this province?

MR. GILLIS: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member quoted one territory and two provinces. We have eight other provinces that have not gotten into this because it is a federal matter, and I think the federal government and the federal Members of Parliament should carry out their own responsibilities and vote on that bill when it comes up. (Applause)

MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, it is a known fact that the provincial government will be responsible for enforcement and maintenance and carrying out many provisions contained in the federal Bill No. C-68. My question to the Minister of Justice for Nova Scotia is simply this. Has the minister done any studies to indicate what the cost will be to the Nova Scotia taxpayer relative to Bill No. C-68?

MR. GILLIS: Mr. Speaker, with regard to the cost, yes. I have always been a person in public life that has been interested in costs and balancing budgets. We have made inquiries and we have received assurances that whatever regulations that flow from Bill No. C-68, if and when it is passed, those costs will be borne by the federal government and money sent to the Province of Nova Scotia.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings West.


MR. GEORGE MOODY: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Education. The Minister of Education is aware, and I know that his staff were very helpful to the Kings District School Board in getting their buses out to tender. I know that they have made a unanimous motion agreeing that that be done and I understand it is now in the hands of the Minister of Education. I wonder if the minister has made a decision whether or not he would support that motion?

[3:45 p.m.]

HON. JOHN MACEACHERN: Mr. Speaker, my understanding is that the decision is on hold as we look at the possible amalgamation of, for example, Annapolis-Kings and West Kings and West Hants. My staff have been down talking to them and that is my understanding at this particular time. The decision has been put on hold until a final decision is made on such amalgamation.

MR. MOODY: I thank the honourable minister for the answer. I would ask the honourable minister, though, he probably understands that this decision is very important, budget-wise, to the Kings District School Board. If this doesn't go through, I am told that probably 15 jobs could be eliminated. I know the minister knows this.

I am wondering when - since this is so vital, before staffing is finalized - the minister might have an answer for these people? I understand the other issues that he is talking about, but I think this is an important issue, as well.

MR. MACEACHERN: Mr. Speaker, I can tell the honourable member that, in fact, before the day is out, I will talk again to my staff to find exactly where it is. It is my understanding that there have been some discussions between the transportation people in the three boards, that no matter what happens, I think they are coming to an agreement on how they can move forward. So, I think the concern will be addressed, no matter what, forthwith.

MR. MOODY: I thank the minister for that undertaking; I think he understands the importance of the issue. I would ask the minister then, in light of what he has just said, will this decision be made, because I think the privatization, whether you have three boards or one, if privatization, if that is the way to go, it will work.

I guess my question to the minister, can he assure me that before the board has to give notification to staff, regarding the 15 positions, whether the decision will be made prior to that time?

MR. MACEACHERN: I think the date he refers to is May 30th, and I am sure the decision will be made by then. If, in fact, there is a decision, for example, not to amalgamate the boards, then we will proceed in the other direction in terms of the cooperation, which there is much enthusiasm about, amongst the three boards to proceed in that direction, regardless of the amalgamation question.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.


MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency. I wonder if the minister could tell me why it is that an employee of the Liberal caucus office, has been hired to be the manager of the One-Stop Information and Service Centre in Kentville?

MR. SPEAKER: I thought we had heard that one before, however, the honourable Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency.

HON. ROBERT HARRISON: Not today, Mr. Speaker, but I did provide the honourable member, by the end of House closing, as committed to, a full explanation of that, which he has. There was a set of interviews, panels set up, decisions made. The honourable member has the full detail of the answer to which he has posed the question.

MR. CHISHOLM: I really hate to differ with the minister, but I would be happy to table the information that I got from the minister responsible yesterday. The questions have to do with the hiring procedure that was used for all of the positions, and also what the qualifications are for staff, as detailed in the Employment Opportunities bulletin. It does not address the fact that an employee of the Liberal caucus office, was hired into a Public Service position, as manager of the One-Stop Information and Service Centre. Mr. Speaker, I don't know how many ways I have to ask that question, . . .

MR. SPEAKER: You have to come to a question.

MR. CHISHOLM: . . . but that is the information I am looking for. It has happened before in this government and there doesn't seem to be any policy or rationale as to why a political staffer should be seconded into a Public Service position. I am looking to the minister for an explanation of that? I have not received that.

MR. HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, I don't have the document right in front of me, but he said he was going to table it; perhaps he could. I believe the last paragraph of the first page of that document explains clearly how that sort of experience can lead to the sort of decision that was made by the panel. "The hiring procedure followed exactly the guidelines as laid out by Human Resources. The process was chaired by Claudia Fox who at that time was Manager Staffing . . . Competitions were publicized in HR's Employment Opportunities Bulletin . . . Candidates were ranked based on their score and on their preferred location.". (Interruptions) The answers are all here. Once again, it is a document he has tabled; I am not sure what more he is looking for?

MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, when the advertisement says public servants from municipal, provincial and federal government departments, my understanding is that that's, in fact, what it means and that political staff from the caucus offices are not civil servants. So my question to the minister is, why would a member of the Liberal caucus office's application not have been thrown out right off the bat because (Interruptions) I will tell you why, because of the fact that the basic requirements for application for that job were the fact that it had to be somebody from a municipal, provincial or federal public sector department. I don't know how much clearer you have to be, this is obviously a political person who has been moved into a Public Service position, above and beyond the qualifications and requirements of the ads.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency to respond. Order, please, so we can hear the answer.

MR. HARRISON: Above and beyond the qualifications of the ad, I think he means outside the qualifications of the ad. The fact is, the document that he has (Interruption) well, surely you wouldn't want to jeopardize somebody who was above and beyond the qualifications. Those are the very people you want to hire, Mr. Speaker, so what we are talking about here is whether or not someone like this qualifies.

The answer in the document that he has, again that he has just taken back, says that . . .

MR. CHISHOLM: I didn't take it back.

MR. HARRISON: Well, somebody did, . . .

MR. CHISHOLM: The Premier has it . . .

MR. HARRISON: Service of this kind qualifies for the very position which was advertised. So I fail to see the legitimacy of this question, Mr. Speaker (Interruption)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.


MR. TERENCE DONAHOE: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Education. In the latter part of February of this year, there was a parent in Dartmouth who went public with a plan to open a publicly-funded, parent-run charter school. I think the minister would perhaps remember the incident. The gentleman's name is Randy Hoyt. That parent, Mr. Hoyt, unhappy with the quality of education, felt that that would be a positive alternative for his children and other children. At that time, the minister said that he had studied charter schools in other jurisdictions but he wouldn't comment until he had a proposal before him. My question to the minister today is simply whether or not he has received any such proposal for such a charter school?


MR. DONAHOE: During the March 20th public meeting on the White Paper that the minister held at Queen Elizabeth High School and which I attended, the minister said at that time that there is no intention on the part of the Department of Education to move towards charter schools. I wonder if the minister would indicate whether or not that is his position today or whether anything might have come across his desk or across his eye that might prompt him to change that attitude?

MR. MACEACHERN: Mr. Speaker, as the honourable Leader of the Opposition quite correctly said from his first question, we have not given it any serious consideration. Since that time, we have had no material brought before us and the present position of the Department of Education is that we have not considered charter schools and there is no intention to consider them, but if a question comes, we certainly will, for any taxpayer in Nova Scotia, examine the question and give them our evaluation of that question and an answer will follow after that.

MR. DONAHOE: So the minister is saying then, Mr. Speaker, that in the event that he should receive such a request, he would review it carefully, sympathetically and professionally and respond to any such applicant. Is that correct?

MR. MACEACHERN: I can tell the honourable Leader of the Opposition, through you, Mr. Speaker, that any question that has come from any taxpayer or anybody in the Province of Nova Scotia, or other areas that ask us a question, that is within our purview, we will examine it very carefully and we will provide an answer. The suggestion that he gave in terms of sympathetic, I don't know what he means by that, but I can tell you that it will be done with great care and done professionally.

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


MR. TERENCE DONAHOE: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Justice. The Minister of Justice will perhaps recall that back in January he indicated, following what he described or at least he is reported in the press of that time, January 19, 1995, to have described as a questionable placement choice, for an individual performing community service. It was a young man who had been involved in a rather celebrated criminal event here in the city and at that time the Minister of Justice said that he would review the community service guidelines. I wonder if the minister is able to tell this House today whether or not he has had an opportunity to do that and to be briefed by his officials on whether or not community service guidelines, which dictate within general parameters to the courts and the justices of the province the extent to which community service is an appropriate resolution for people in trouble with the law. Has he reviewed and developed new guidelines in that regard?

HON. WILLIAM GILLIS: At the time I referred the matter to officials in the Department of Justice and I don't know the final outcome of the review but I was assured that the review of the guidelines was being undertaken and changes recommended, if any were necessary to those guidelines. I would be glad to double check and update that and just to see what changes were made and be willing to report back to the honourable Leader of the Opposition on a future day.

MR. DONAHOE: I appreciate the commitment from the minister that he will report back on a future day and I hope it is an early future day. I wonder if the minister would be able to perhaps give another assurance or undertaking that if such guidelines are designed or redesigned will the minister perhaps give an undertaking that proper and appropriate orientation will be done with the probation service and the probation officers of the province to ensure that they are properly informed of any changes and that any such changes will also be made public so all Nova Scotians will know exactly what those guidelines relative to community service actually are.

MR. GILLIS: To pick up on the suggestion by the Leader of the Opposition that if the guidelines are changed that there be proper training so that the probation people that are working with the guidelines are fully aware of them and are able to follow them in terms of making them public, this is the kind of material that should be available to the public and I have absolutely no trouble in making that information available to anyone who wants it.

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


MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: My question is to the Minister of Transportation. The federal Minister of Transport introduced legislation late last week that Canadian National was going up on the auction block for somewhere between $1.5 billion to $2.5 billion and that no party would be able to hold more than 15 per cent of the stock. I am wondering if the Minister of Transportation has had any concern expressed to him about the sale and any concern about CN's commitment to the Port of Halifax?

HON. RICHARD MANN: Not that I can recall, Mr. Speaker.

MR. TAYLOR: My first supplementary is for the Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency. Recently, the Minister for Economic Renewal made a stop at CN Rail's European headquarters and discussed a deal involving the promotion of the Port of Halifax. I wonder if the minister can tell us if the pending offering of the shares for CN may have an impact on his promotional deal? Will it have any impact on his promotional deal?

HON. ROBERT HARRISON: The person with whom we met in London was the sales representative for the European Community in terms of CN Rail service to all of Canada. Included in that discussion was exploring the possibility of establishing a partnership between Nova Scotia and CN on the marketing of the Port of Halifax. The expertise that this person brings to the task of marketing the Port of Halifax is obviously directly related to CN, but not totally directly related to CN, and this individual has a wealth of experience when we talk about the brokers who handle shipping contracts world-wide. Obviously, it will have an impact if CN is sold, but the gentleman we met has an important value and major contribution to make to the Port of Halifax, its marketing and, in turn, to shipping lines, European primarily, but world-wide, in fact.

[4:00 p.m.]

MR. TAYLOR: By way of final supplementary, I again, would like to go to the Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency. In an interview last week, the minister would not say whether the pending deal with CN, Europe, involved a cash contribution by Nova Scotia taxpayers. Is the minister able to provide us with any more details, perhaps today, as to whether or not a cash contribution will be made from the Nova Scotia taxpayers?

MR. HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, what the article did not say, what it said was that there was no discussion of cash at this point in time. What we have had is a preliminary meeting with a gentleman in Europe who has tremendous experience in terms of marketing the Port of Halifax and, in turn, CN. The discussions are very preliminary, the partnership is one that would mutually benefit us and CN or this gentleman in the Province of Nova Scotia.

At no time were we talking about cash or a deal of that nature at this point. However, if in fact it is in the best interests of Nova Scotia to invest in terms of a partnership with anyone who can assist us in promoting the Port of Halifax, we would not hesitate to do so under the fair procurement and proper guidelines that are established for entering into such contracts.

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


MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I would like to direct a question through you to the Minister of Transportation. The Minister of Transportation's own briefing book from last year's estimates shows that the former government had approved and was committed to completing the Fleur-de-lis Trail to Louisbourg.

My question to the minister is quite simply, did this minister and his department remove the Fleur-de-lis Trail from its capital spending priority list when the government took office?

HON. RICHARD MANN: My understanding, Mr. Speaker, is that the Fleur-de-lis Trail was intended to be completed under an economic renewal development agreement between ACOA and the provincial Department of Tourism through the Economic Development Agency. It was not through the Department of Transportation.

MR. HOLM: I referred to that so I will table that, of course, in compliance with the rules.

My first supplementary then to the minister and that is, did the minister and/or the Premier, the minister may be answering for him, approach his federal colleague then, the Honourable David Dingwall, to see if, in fact, his federal colleague could find some additional federal dollars either from transportation funding or from a tourism agreement to complete that Fleur-de-lis Trail instead of having to take the money out of the Highway No. 104?

MR. MANN: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite has to understand that prior to the election in 1993, the commitments that were made through the Department of Transportation in other places far exceeded any availability of funding that was going to be there to do it. The agreement on the Fleur-de-lis Trail was one that had been put together in the fall of 1992, spring of 1993 by the previous administration under an economic regional development agreement, in 1992 he says.

The Fleur-de-lis Trail, as I have indicated in this House, and it is interesting when this issue has come up, people have been sending in, as they always do, letters of support, non-support, some very nasty letters, some nice letters, you get a mix. But you get some documents forwarded to you. It is interesting that what arrived on my desk yesterday was a brief presented to the Honourable Allan J. MacEachen by nine boards of trade and/or chambers of commerce dated 1965 looking for support of the Fleur-de-lis Trail.

The support for this trail has been ongoing for now, well in excess of 30 years. It is interesting to note that in their brief one of the tourist associations indicated that the tourism dollars in Nova Scotia had now reached, I believe, the $100 million mark, Mr. Speaker, so this issue has been around for a long time.

MR. HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I want to congratulate the Minister of Transportation on his skill of not coming even close to answering the question I asked, which in itself gives the answer, that is that either Mr. Dingwall does not have any clout with his federal colleagues or the minister didn't even bother to ask.

Mr. Speaker, there isn't a cent of private money going into that Highway No. 104 by-pass. It is going to be all tax dollars, collected in the form of tolls or monies that are being put into it.

Is it not fair to say that what this minister and this government have decided to do is, by placing the toll on both of the Highway No. 104 routes, that it is deciding to have tax dollars collected in that way, to pay for the Fleur-de-lis Trail because he is unable to get any financial help and assistance from his federal colleague, Mr. Dingwall, to have that project go ahead, without having to dip into funds that are specifically designated for national highways?

MR. MANN: Mr. Speaker, I thought all the roads in this province were paid for by all the people. Now the member wants to start saying that this road will be paid for by this person, this will be . . .

MR. HOLM: Just Highway No. 104.

MR. MANN: Mr. Speaker, the Fleur-de-lis Trail will be paid for 50/50, federal and provincial governments. This issue has been dealt with many times. You know in 1955 they completed the Canso Causeway. They put tolls on the Canso Causeway to pay for the Canso Causeway.

MR. HOLM: You did not answer the question.

MR. MANN: Did the tolls come off when the Canso Causeway was paid for? No. Did the money go to that area? No, the money went into the general revenues of the province.

Mr. Speaker, the member is over there beating his gums and squawking that I won't answer the question. I have said in this House, I have said outside of this House, that the Fleur-de-lis Trail has evolved. It has been an issue now for over 30 years. The member of Parliament for Cape Breton-East Richmond, the Honourable David Dingwall, and myself, have talked about the Fleur-de-lis Trail. He has been written to by organizations and individuals for many years. Those letters are on record. Of course this has been an issue with David Dingwall, as it has been an issue with every elected official in Richmond County and in Cape Breton County over the years. I wonder what Dan O'Connor, the NDP candidate in Cape Breton West in the last election, had to say about it. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: On a new question, the honourable member for Hants West. (Interruptions) Please, we can't have discussion of parachutes, we want to hear from the honourable member for Hants West.


MR. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Human Resources. Yesterday in Question Period the Leader of the Opposition spoke to the minister in regard to various projects that have been carried out under the municipal, federal and provincial building fund for the G-7 Summit. The minister said he would be tabling a list of the various contracts and which ones belonged to the province and which ones did not. My question to the minister is, does he have that list available at the present time?

HON. JAY ABBASS: Mr. Speaker, actually yesterday I said that it would not be unreasonable to promise that within the week, and I quote, those cost numbers would be tabled.

MR. RUSSELL: I wonder if the minister could tell us, then, with one particular contract and I am not too sure if it is a federal one or a provincial one or a municipal one. With regard to the Rent-a-Tree Program on the waterfront, I was wondering if the minister could tell us who won that tender and is that a provincial, federal or a municipal tender?

MR. ABBASS: Again, I can reiterate that we will be tabling the list of various projects and their costs and which projects are labelled federal, provincial, city. But I can tell you that that particular one, to the best of my knowledge, is a federal project.

MR. RUSSELL: I wonder if the minister would advise the House in Question Period tomorrow, or prior to Question Period tomorrow, whether or not it is, in fact, a rent-a-tree program, rather than a program to put in trees and to leave them there. The understanding that I get from many people is that the trees are there. They have been put in and they are going to remain there until the fall and then they are going to be lifted out to be resold, I presume, to some other entities.

Would the minister provide an answer to that question, prior to Question Period tomorrow?

MR. ABBASS: Yes, again, yesterday I did answer this very question. I did say that I had spoken to Mr. Fred Were of the Halifax Waterfront Development Corporation and that reassured me that none of those boardwalk related trees or plants or fences or posts would be removed, that they would be there for a good long time after the G-7 Summit.

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


MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the honourable Minister of Transportation and Communications. I have a question here from a resident of the constituency of Sackville-Beaverbank. Mr. L. Cameron wants to know a question that is on the mind of many Nova Scotians, thousands, I would suggest. The question is, if the minister sees the diverting of funds from the Highway No. 104 section of the Trans Canada Highway, known as death valley, to the secondary road in his constituency, as a blatant violation of his government's 1993 election promise to eliminate political favours in the form of patronage?

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

HON. RICHARD MANN: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I do not see that. I would say once again and say clearly, although some people, no matter how you say it, it will not sink in, I guess, because it is not to their advantage to understand. The funds going to the Fleur-de-lis Trail will be designated over a period of five years, not available until 1998. They have, in no way, shape or form, jeopardized the construction or completion of Highway No. 104.

MR. SPEAKER: With deference, that is not a point of order.


MR. SPEAKER: The honourable House Leader for the New Democratic Party.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I presented you, I believe, with a timetable of our business for this afternoon. I would ask you to call the order of business, Private Member's Public Bills for Second Reading.


MR. SPEAKER: The honourable House Leader for the New Democratic Party.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 13.

Bill No. 13 - Health Care Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

MS. ALEXA MCDONOUGH: Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to have the opportunity this afternoon to launch debate at the second reading stage of Bill No. 13, a Private Member's Bill, introduced by myself some weeks ago, entitled An Act Respecting the Nova Scotia Health Care System.

Mr. Speaker, in the short time that is available, I want to explain why we have chosen to introduce this important Private Member's Bill, in the first instance and, briefly, try to give all members some understanding of the implications of this bill.

I think it is fair to say that we have chosen to introduce Bill No. 13, in part as a reactive measure and in part as a proactive measure. If I may, Mr. Speaker, explain what I mean by a reactive measure. There is before the House of Commons today, a piece of legislation known as Bill C-76. That is a bill that is now referred to in its short form title as the Canada Health and Social Transfer Act.

In short, Madam Speaker, without going into a long technical explanation, basically the Canada Health and Social Transfer Act represents the implementation of the government's announced intention to drastically alter the most important of our national social programs in this country. Without taking a lot of time to trace the struggle over a period of almost five decades to put into place some of those important national social programs, let me just say, starting with the 1947 introduction of hospital care in Saskatchewan, it has been almost a five decade struggle to put into place national programs that ensure a certain basic level of services to all Canadians in the areas of health, income security and community services and post-secondary education.

[4:15 p.m.]

Time will not allow that I expand on all of those programs in detail, but those who have studied Bill C-76 in detail, and there are increasing numbers of Canadians who are doing just that, thank goodness, Madam Speaker, I think are of the unanimous view that this will not only change the delivery of the social programs which are so critically important to Canadians in the form of our universal health care system, assistance to post-secondary education, the Canada Assistance Plan which allows for some very basic community supports and income security measures to Canadians, but it will, if allowed to proceed in its current form, virtually wipe out any possibility of there being, in the first instance, any meaningful national standards any more which will prevail across the country.

Secondly, there will be a severe erosion of the level of services in most, if not all, provinces. Thirdly, Madam Speaker there will be no meaningful way in which, even if it is the federal government's stated desire, stated intention which they continue to say is the case, to try to maintain some kind of national standards, there will be no meaningful way to enforce that, both because of the severe erosion of dollars, but also because even in the language contained in this bill, the government has abandoned the definition of standards and moved towards a looser concept of some kind of national objectives which virtually guts any effective manner in which there could be the enforcement of any national standards.

Madam Speaker, it is partly in reaction, in response to that, I would say, alarming and dangerous piece of legislation at the federal level, Bill C-76, that we have chosen to introduce a bill respecting the Nova Scotia health care system. Let me just say briefly what that bill attempts to do.

It attempts to put into place the five very important principles on which our universal health care system is based and which are currently contained in the Canada Health Act which is in the course of being systematically undermined and placed in severe jeopardy by Bill C-76, Madam Speaker.

Not only does this bill that we have introduced as a Private Member's Bill spell out, in the provincial context, those five critically important principles of our health care system, namely that it be operated on a non-profit basis, that it be comprehensive, that it be universal, that services be portable and that it be accessible to all Nova Scotians regardless of income and regardless of where they live, but in addition to the articulation of those five critically important principles, the other provisions of this bill recognize that Nova Scotians want, need and deserve to have some say in shaping where our health care system goes from here.

Madam Speaker, that is not some kind of raving revolutionary concept. The Minister of Health, himself, who is not able to be here today - and that is not, I know, by wilful choice. He is attending to other responsibilities - the Minister of Health, himself, and I applaud him for this, had the courage and perhaps it took a certain amount of courage given the climate of insecurity generated by this Premier and by this government around its own ministers, he had the courage to stand together with the NDP Ministers of Health from other provinces in this country to say, we will fight to maintain the important five principles of the Canada Health Act.

One way of doing that is to put it in the bill for the Province of Nova Scotia, so that there is some meaningful expression of that and some means whereby it is possible to enforce those principles. Secondly, Madam Speaker, the Minister of Health, last week, when I raised questions about another piece of legislation that had been promised by this government - in fact promised almost two years ago, within a month of the government taking office, with respect to bicycle helmet legislation - stood in this place and said, well you know in Ontario the way they got that legislation was for the government of the day to support a Private Member's Bill going all the way through second reading and then go to the committee stage, come back, be fully debated and voted upon.

The NDP Government of Ontario did that with respect to that particular piece of legislation, which is a health education and health promotion measure and, to their credit, I think it was the Tories - it might have been the Liberals - who introduced a Private Member's Bill and the government supported them through that process. In the end there was a free vote and all members - I don't know if it was unanimous or not - but a majority of members saw the wisdom of it, supported it and that legislation is in the course of being implemented and enacted.

So, Madam Speaker, the same could be done with respect to this Private Member's Bill, unless those were just empty words, unless that was just rhetorical posturing by the Minister of Health. The same process could be adopted here today with respect to this Private Member's Bill going through the normal stages of the legislative process, and being subjected to a vote here in the House, to find out whether members are prepared to stand up and be counted.

Madam Speaker, there is no question, this is not a matter of NDP paranoia, this is a matter of it being well understood by all of those social policy and health policy analysts who have been observing events and who have taken Bill C-76 and analyzed it in detail. There has been an excellent comprehensive analysis done, for example, by the Canadian Nurses' Association and by a number of other national policy groups.

The media today reported on an excellent brief that was presented by the Nova Scotia Provincial Health Council and they should be congratulated for having done that. What they have documented in the brief - which I requested after seeing reference to it in the media today - what they reported is that the federal government is quietly and gradually repealing the Canada Health Act and it refuses to level with Canadians about it. So if you look at the fact, Madam Speaker, that this erosion has already been underway and this final blow to the Canada Health Act is going to transform the universal health care system as we know it, it is important, it is critically important, for this government to start to be proactive in the face of those completely unacceptable developments.

Supporting this legislation would be one way of doing that; another would be for the government to finally get off its seat, off its bench - if I could put it that way because less polite language is not acceptable - and be willing to call upon the federal government to have public hearings in this matter before they dismantle our health care system, before they put in jeopardy not only our health services, which is what is at stake here, but also the critically important services provided in the social welfare field and the post-secondary education field. What has been pointed out by the Provincial Health Council and others is that any meaningful notion of health prevention and health promotion brings one to the inescapable conclusion that this new block funding approach that is contained by the Canada Health and Social Transfer Act is going to deal a very serious blow to the social welfare and education and training programs that are a critical component of any preventive health care strategy.

Because of the block funding proposal on which that new federal legislation is based, then it is going to be virtually impossible for this government, even if it was prepared to put its money where its mouth is, even if it is prepared to follow through on its stated intentions about shifting the emphasis to prevention and promotion and so on, that in the face of this dismantling of our respective national social programs that it is going to be very difficult to maintain, let alone expand and improve upon those programs.

So, Madam Speaker, I would urge government members to familiarize themselves with these issues, to stand up and with one voice to say to it is not acceptable to the federal government, especially without holding public hearings here and to put in place this simple, straightforward piece of legislation that will at least allow us, as 52 elected representatives on behalf of the people of Nova Scotia, to say, we will fight to uphold the five principles of our universal health care system. We will enshrine it in legislation and we will give it teeth so that Nova Scotians can enforce their rights and this commitment from its provincial government. Thank you.

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings West.

MR. GEORGE MOODY: I rise to speak on Bill No. 13, an Act Respecting the Nova Scotia Health Care System. I can't imagine any member of the government, or actually anybody, opposing a bill that enshrines the five principles of the Canada Health Act into provincial legislation. I've heard, day after day, the Minister of Health get up in this House and say how important those five principles are. He gets up day after day saying that we are going to ensure in Nova Scotia that we adhere to those five principles.

Yet, that minister and this government hasn't got the fortitude or the character to stand up and support this bill or introduce a bill that will enshrine those principles. Now I would be the first to congratulate them, if that would take that initiative, if they would get up and do such a thing. I can support this bill. There is only one part of this bill, when it repeals Chapter 281 of the Medical Services Act, that previous Act spelled out penalties for contravening the Act and this bill doesn't. That is probably the only concern that I have. I think if this bill went on, or we get a new bill, I would like to see the penalties for people contravening the Act, included in the legislation, which this bill doesn't include. But if you read everything else in the bill, there is nothing in the bill that I would oppose, but I would obviously like to see that added.

The Minister of Health who says that, yes, I support the five principles, and who has indicated over and over again, what we have had, he says, we are closing hospital beds and we are introducing a new home care system. Well, I had a call on the weekend from a gentleman who said that is all well and fine; my wife was sent home early but it is costing me $600 a week out of my pocket to support her. If you lived out in Berwick you don't pay anything, but if you live in Kentville you pay. So what we now have is a two-tiered system of home care in this province.

We have in the western Kings area, an acute care, early discharge program. If you are let out of hospital early, home care comes in at no cost. If you live in Kentville and surrounding area, same service, same thing, you pay and you pay according to your ability to pay, but you pay. I can't for the life of me understand why we have this government who says we don't believe in two-tiered systems . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: Who brought it in?

MR. MOODY: Who brought it in? This present Minister of Health brought it in.

AN HON. MEMBER: You guys didn't have anything, nothing.

MR. MOODY: Well. Oh, boy, we had nothing. I'll tell you, when people needed a bed, they could get one, and if people needed service, they could get it and that's more than I can say for this government, Madam Speaker. (Interruptions)

MADAM SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. MOODY: Madam Speaker, these people yack and yack. I don't know who they talk to, but I talk to real people with real problems that this government is ignoring. If they want to be here and be smug about it, I can demonstrate and document the difficulties that these people are having when I talk about the two-tiered system in the home care system, that is a fact. That is a real fact and that is not something I made up. I know these people are not calling me, making up these stories.

So, when I see that the minister says not to worry, we are going to save money in closing some of these beds, who is going to pay? The seniors and those who have to leave early. Yes, they are going to get a home care service but they are being charged. I don't think that this government was honest with the people of this province, who say they believe in the principles of the Canada Health Act that does away with the two-tiered system, this government is now introducing a two-tiered system in home care and that is a fact.

[4:30 p.m.]

The Provincial Health Council went to Ottawa to lobby on Bill C-76. I haven't heard a word out of this minister or this government, about Bill C-76. Yes, they voted against all the resolutions. The Health Council understands what Bill C-76 can do to our health care system and it will erode the five basic principles of the Canada Health Act. Because provinces, once they are not then the money can be spent on whatever area those provincial governments may decide we're going to have not a universal system as we have from coast to coast at the present time. We are going to have another system that is one that we are not going to be very proud of. When this Minister of Health says not to worry, that we will have a universal system there is nothing, as I see it, in the seniors' program, in the Pharmacare, we can't have a two-tiered system. Those drugs that aren't covered or become deinsured by this program, if you've got the money you can buy them, if you don't have the money, you don't get them.

I had a call as late as yesterday from a lady with two sick children, who obviously is from the working poor, who couldn't get drugs for her young kids. Then I listen to the radio program on CBC, talking about in Russia, about kids not getting drugs when it is happening right here in the Province of Nova Scotia. The minister has said at an earlier stage that, and this legislation would obviously allow it to happen, besides dentists and medical practitioners, that there would be others authorized to provide insured services, other appropriate health care practitioners would be authorized. I heard the Minister of Health promise that over a year ago in this House, that nurses could be the entry point to the system. That hasn't happened.

I don't know what side-tracked the minister, it might have been the Minister of Community Services who tried to side-track him, I don't know, who side-tracked him. He is a medical doctor, so he would have reason to side-track him. But, it was always understood and it was understood in the Royal Commission on Health Care, that there are cheaper ways to access the system other than the medical doctors and the dentists. But there is now no other way to access the system, so again, the minister has not lived up to that commitment that he made to registered nurses in this province.

Every time I go to check and if this government wants to expand the role of health care professionals then it should do it. Not just say I am going to do it and not just say and everybody agree that that is the appropriate way to go and that nurses can provide, in many cases they can be, the entry point to the system. It might be a physiotherapist that is the entry point to the system, but there are other health care professionals who can actually do that. But under the present set-up that this government has, even though they acknowledge that is the right way to go, more economical and looks after everyone's needs, we fail to see movement on part of this government. We know that it would be obviously cost-effective.

This legislation would allow that to happen. I wonder when the Minister of Community Services gets up to debate this resolution, of what part of this legislation that his government couldn't support. Because if you read all 12 clauses in this legislation, that really put together the five enshrining principles of the Canada Health Act, into provincial legislation, what is it that the government couldn't support? I will be interested to see which section or which clause that the minister can support. Also, in this legislation it talks about that we can't have private clinics springing up in Nova Scotia. In other words, we can't have services provided in private clinics so that those who can afford to pay can use the clinic, that we will continue to have insured services available and made available equally across this province.

If we adopted this legislation, although the only part that I would want to add to this legislation is that the penalty would be spelled out. I would have to move an amendment to make sure that the penalties are spelled out in this legislation, if in actual fact, the legislation was not followed.

We had the Minister of Health talk about bringing in legislation on the Provincial Medical Board. Again, we are still waiting for legislation, like all of these things that are very positive that we all could support on all sides of the House, the minister keeps informing us that it is going to happen and it never happens for whatever reason. One of the things in this legislation has to do with the Provincial Health Council which very clearly is sort of an avenue for the general public to have some voice in the kind of changes that may occur in health reform. Right now whether you talk to the health professionals or whether you talk to the consumer they do not feel that they are very much part of what is happening in health reform.

When you see the cuts to the Roseway Hospital they are saying to the Roseway Hospital down in Shelburne, you as a community will have some say in what happens. I am convinced it won't be a hospital, it will probably end up being a community medical centre of some nature. The rules are set before the community decides whether in actual fact they do want 10 acute care beds and that is what is needed in the area or whether or not they are going to have none. They are going to have swing beds and overnight beds so somebody can be transferred to Yarmouth or to Queens.

The problem with the Minister of Health's approach is he is going into a community and saying look, you can have some input, but here are the rules that you have to follow before you, as a community, can decide what is best for your community. In other words, the minister is deciding what is best before they start and then they are working on how to make best use of the services that the minister will allow. That is what we have seen happen in this province. The minister decides what services will be allowed and then he says to a community, look this is what I am going to allow you, now put forth the best plan. It happened in Annapolis, it happened in Berwick and it happened in Pugwash. The people say, well we have something and yes we got something, but we sure as heck did not develop the plan from the bottom up.

The plan was developed from the top down. The minister made the ground rules, set the ground rules and then he said, you know I am going to close your hospital in Annapolis and Berwick, but I am going to be the good guy and I am going to give you something and this is what I am going to give you so you will go away happy knowing that I could have taken the whole hospital away, but I didn't. Here is something that I know is good for your community and will be in the best interest of the community.

The people of these communities have no recourse but to accept the direction that the minister has gone in. What is going to happen is down the road whether these are the best ways to go or not people will, obviously be the judge. People are not allowed the kind of input that they should have. If this government was really interested in the five principles of the Canada Health Act they would also be making representation on Bill C-76. They would also make sure that they have provincial legislation that ensures all Nova Scotians, whether they live in Cape Breton or in Yarmouth or the Valley or up in Cumberland, that no matter what happens, the five basic principles of the Canada Health Act will apply here in Nova Scotia.

We, as a government in Nova Scotia, will be committed to that, will enshrine that in legislation and not only will give the rhetoric that we give and can give, but will show to you people that we will put it in legislation so that even though our rhetoric doesn't count in other things we talk about, like not raising taxes and not closing hospitals and not doing this, in the previous election campaign, that that rhetoric, all of a sudden people don't trust the rhetoric that is coming from this group. But if you put it in legislation, they then could believe it. They would see that this government was serious about believing in the five basic principles of the Canada Health Act.


MR. MOODY: They could see that this government would ensure that all Nova Scotians would receive the same benefits from one end of the province to the other.

Madam Speaker, I will be supporting this legislation and I hope everyone else does.

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Community Services.

HON. JAMES SMITH: Madam Speaker, I would like to thank the honourable member for the opportunity to discuss health renewal and some of the positive things the minister and the Department of Health have been working on with communities throughout this province.

Many times I have witnessed the Minister of Health state his belief in the principles of the Canada Health Act. He has not only expressed this in this House but also on the national stage, at the recent Health Ministers' conference in British Columbia. He and his department have shown an absolute commitment in working to uphold these principles in everything they do.

Consistently the minister has stated that health care change will unfold, so a universal, accessible, portable, publicly-administrated and comprehensive health care system is reality for generations to come. As we know, Madam Speaker, those are the tenets of the Canada Health Act.

When this Liberal Government took office in 1993, health renewal topped our long list of priorities. We got to work putting together Nova Scotians with an interest in health care, to form the Blueprint Committee. Last April that committee presented the Minister of Health with this report for improving the health care situation in the province. Since that time Nova Scotians have seen many changes in their health care system. Over the past year the Department of Health has been building on the Blueprint Report, laying the foundation for positive change.

Today we are building on that foundation, putting ideas into action. The department has been working to establish much-needed programs and services, especially in communities undergoing change. For example, in Berwick, as mentioned by the honourable member earlier, Health has been working for the community to expand programs like the Home Care Program. In the Glace Bay area local people have been working with the department staff to improve health care delivery, looking at such things as better services for seniors.

Very soon Nova Scotians will see more pieces of our new health care system fall into place. The Home Care Program is an important example. This year we have allotted $44 million for this program, more than double the amount allotted last year. That is not an insignificant sum, Madam Speaker. This program is an absolute priority for our government.

Early this summer a comprehensive, province-wide Home Care Program will become a reality in Nova Scotia in communities throughout this province. This will allow more Nova Scotians to recovery from surgery or illness in greater comfort, at home, among friends and family. This will help speed recovery and improve a patient's quality of life.

The safety net of emergency health services is also starting to take hold.

MS. ALEXA MCDONOUGH: Madam Speaker, would the honourable minister entertain a brief question? The minister could address it and that is that there has been considerable dispute over the claim by the government that $44 million is going into home care and the impression that this represents a very significant increase. Could the minister indicate what percentage, or dollar amount, of that $44 million, in fact, represents transfer of funds from the municipal level that results from the service exchange?

DR. SMITH: I don't have those figures, I could get them, available but there is a real allocation. Of course, the service exchange is a neutral exchange between the province (Interruption) yes, and it is a valid question, as far as new. But I made the statement and the Minister of Health has made the statement that the money has not been going into the Home Care Program, Madam Speaker. I left the topic of home care and was speaking in terms of the safety net of emergency health services.

[4:45 p.m.]

Last month we announced a tender for a consistent fleet of ambulances for the province. As well, a new agency, Emergency Health Services Nova Scotia will soon be up and running. It will, for the first time in Nova Scotia, establish sound provincial standards and guidelines for ambulance equipment and training. This will mean top quality emergency service and faster response time regardless of where you live in Nova Scotia. These are crucial links in health care reform.

All of the changes we are making require a new way of thinking about health care. They require a good deal of understanding and community support. Certainly, there will be changes still to come and there is no question that this will be a continuing process. Throughout all the process, we have been living by the principles of the Canada Health Act, as well as the Blueprint Report. This government is committed to public policy that promotes good health for all Nova Scotians. We are committed to health care that improves quality of life and encourages wellness. We believe that communities are the heart and the future of health care in this province. Through structures like community health boards and regional health boards, we are increasing community involvement. We believe that health care must be community driven, not facility driven.

Department staff will continue to work with hospital boards and administrators, health professionals and volunteers and other concerned community members to implement changes that will improve our health care system. As well, the department has undergone a realignment that will support the process of change and ensure that the department is working effectively with health boards in the region and helping communities to the best of its ability.

In the coming months and years, Nova Scotians will have more opportunities to identify what their community needs and the most effective way to meet these needs. The department, the minister and this entire government, will work with Nova Scotians, developing and explaining our plans, opposing the principles of the Canada Health Act and creating a healthier province for generations to come. Madam Speaker, I was perusing the newspapers last evening and within the last few days and I thought there was one article there that was worthy of note, Canada's health-care debate. First, strip away the myths. I thought I would, in the moments I have left, just highlight it. It is written by Stephen Lewis, not the Stephen Lewis, but this gentleman is CEO of the Health Services Utilization and Research Commission for Saskatchewan.

I will try to be brief in summarizing, Mr. Speaker, but I think there are some points made and worthy of repeating in the House today in this debate on the Canada Health Act. It points out the facts such as 72 per cent of monies going into the health care system are from the public side and 28 per cent are from the private side. The issue surrounds this whole issue of medically necessary.

The second issue would be that $72 billion that is in the health care system in Canada, that $52 billion is public monies and $20 billion is private monies. He goes on to say, "We have not achieved all the efficiencies that research suggests are possible. We have not found a more precise way to define `medically necessary' in an environment of constantly changing science and technology.". The final comment would be that we speak in terms of consultation and we know the amount of consultation that has taken place in health care, the Royal Commissions. I think now decisions must be taken by the department and by governments and we are doing that, Madam Speaker. But, Mr. Lewis goes on to say, "What we cannot afford is a discussion where misinformation, myths, self-serving private interests and options doomed to failure carry the day.".

I think we have the information. This government is prepared to act on it. We do have a plan. It is proactive. It does adhere to the primary tenets and principles of the Canada Health Act and it will go to develop a health care program that is comprehensive and will, in fact, allow Nova Scotians, through programs of wellness and addressing needs of all Nova Scotians, to make a healthier Nova Scotia.

More specifically in addressing the bill, Madam Speaker - and maybe in closing some would comment - one of the reasons that I have some difficulties in supporting this particular Bill No. 13, An Act Respecting the Nova Scotia Health-care System, in Clause 5, I would wonder at the idea that, Clause 5, "No facility . . . policy shall form a part of the health-care system . . . unless (a) it is operated on a non-profit basis . . .". I wonder what the stand of the honourable member would be on abortion clinics within this province and how that might be addressed within this bill. Clause 5 (b), ". . . other health-care practitioners;", whether, in fact, the honourable member would support licensing, for instance, midwives for home deliveries in the province, what the stand on that issue might be.

The area that I would finally address, Madam Speaker, would be Clause 10. I wonder if there might be duplication with the role outlined with the Provincial Health Council. It seems to me that there are other Acts in the Legislature to cover complaints and concerns. If the honourable member feels that process is not working or needs change, and how the Provincial Health Council would really address those particular issues of concerns and complaints of people - I wonder if that would not be setting up a duplicate system. Those would be some areas of difficulties that I have in supporting this particular legislation. Thank you.

MADAM SPEAKER: I believe the honourable member still has three minutes left of his time. Were you sharing it with another member?

DR. SMITH: I lost track of my time a little there, Madam Speaker. It is an area that I would be happy to address and I think that I could take the time. I did want to bring in the particular issues of concern within the bill specifically, and maybe that could be addressed, the bill that is proposed.

The issue, Madam Speaker, is that while it is supportable initially - the bill spells out that, "Whereas the provision of public health-care services under the Canada Health Act is one of the most cherished accomplishments of Canada as a nation;", and we do support the principles of the Canada Health Act - the recent changes within the Pharmacare Program have been a real statement by this province and the Department of Health to maintain universality within our programs, not only those covered specifically under the Canada Health Act, but those such as Pharmacare for seniors. While other provinces have disbanded and moved away from the universal programs, this government is committed to universality. Changes that have been made with premium changes, the lowering of the co-pay and the refundable $300, the tax rebate that has been brought into that program are attempts in a really creative way and a real commitment of government to maintain universality.

Through the accessibility, Madam Speaker, we spell out the issues relating to home care. The honourable member has mentioned that in some areas there are discrepancies at this time. These are pilot projects that we are moving towards to address the needs of not only seniors but those with disabilities, those with acute illnesses and, particularly, children in those particular areas. The portability of the program as we address the shift, not only within the provinces but, particularly, within the province, the shift from a facility health care delivery system into that of a community-based. There are many areas, particularly in the area of adolescent and children's services that this must work with other departments within Health, Education and Community Services. We now have committees that are working in those particular initiatives, so we are working proactively within this government to uphold the tenets of the Canada Health Act and to do it within the legislation that is already in place and the policies and the programs of this government.

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: I am pleased to have the opportunity to rise and speak for a few moments on the bill introduced by the member for Halifax Fairview, An Act respecting Nova Scotia Health-care System. The whole question here of entrenching the principles of the Canada Health Act in our legislation is a very clear response to the attack by forces in the country to eliminate national standards, not only on health care but also on other matters with respect to the responsibility of the federal government.

This government that is now in Ottawa has made a very clear decision to back off on responsibilities that Nova Scotians and all Canadians have said that they desire. When we had the debate around the Meech Lake Accord, around the Charlottetown Accord, Canadians said clearly that they did not want the federal government to devolve more responsibility to the provinces, that was not their image of what our true country is all about. It is important that we have national standards, whether it be the provision of sustainable forest management or whether it be the provision of social services, people in need or whether it be health care and education. Canadians wanted a country that provided those kind of services at a level equal from one part of this country to the other. That, now, is clearly in jeopardy as a result of decisions by this government.

The reductions proposed by the federal government over the next three years, as they relate specifically to health care, represent a cut of 25 per cent; 25 per cent in the amount that we are going to have available in this province to spend on health care; not 1 per cent, not 2 per cent, not 3 per cent. It is not going to mean closing down a couple of beds here and a couple of beds there, 25 per cent, and that was a figure by the way that was confirmed by the Minister of Finance yesterday afternoon in estimates on his budget.

Madam Speaker, the biggest concern about that is not only what it is going to do to health care services in the Province of Nova Scotia, but the alarming fact is that as the Minister of Finance indicated yesterday, the province hasn't figured out yet what to do in response to that kind of a reduction. Here we have an attempt by this government to move forward with reform in health care, to change the focus from primary health care to preventive, community-based health care, and we see that process is in complete and utter chaos from one end of this province to the other, community by community, and that is under restraints of 2 per cent and 3 per cent. What is going to happen in this province when we start to try to deal with a 25 per cent reduction over the next three years?

The second concern, about what the federal government is doing in terms of the provision of funding for Health, Education and social service funding in this country as it affects Nova Scotia. By putting it in a block the way they are, you are going to have education, social services, health care and other needs within that particular envelope competing for those scarce resources. In other words, we are going to be seeing ourselves, I would suggest, pitting one important area in terms of a public service with another. I think that is something we all should be concerned about.

[5:00 p.m.]

The legislation, the bill that is being addressed today, An Act Respecting the Nova Scotia Health-care System, is that it is an attempt to provide some parameters within which we in Nova Scotia can come up with a strategy to deal with our health care system.

The Minister of Community Services, in his address a few moments ago, raised some questions about various areas within this bill in terms of Clause 5(a) and Clause 5 (b) and Clause 10; good questions, Madam Speaker, important questions that should be asked and we need to deal with the answers for those things. As is the case with every other piece of legislation, we should refer this bill to the Law Amendments Committee in order to give it the rigorous analysis that it deserves. I think the important thing is that the province does not have a strategy for dealing with the attack on the Medicare and medical services in the Province of Nova Scotia. This is an opportunity to provide a framework in which we can develop that strategy.

The suggestion is that this legislation, like every other piece of legislation in this House whether it comes from government or Opposition, is not necessarily perfect. Interpretation of particular clauses and answers of that explanation for the interpretation needs to be dealt with and can be dealt with effectively, Madam Speaker, in the Law Amendments Committee and that is certainly appropriate. I would urge the minister to vote in support of this legislation going forward to the Law Amendments Committee.

Madam Speaker, the other questions in this bill are that it provides an opportunity here to have public input into any areas of change. If you look, for example, on the question in Clause 6, "No health service shall be discontinued as an insured health service unless the Minister of Health first engages in broad public consultation respecting the proposed discontinuance.". In other words, it provides for a forum, a process to engage with the public of Nova Scotia in decisions around changes to the system.

Madam Speaker, I think that we need that kind of framework. We need that kind of direction in terms of dealing with these very difficult issues. Another issue, as it deals with the Provincial Health Council, the minister raised concerns that, would this be an overlap, the responsibilities here, in terms of the function of other bodies in the province.

In terms of the Provincial Medical Board in dealing with individual complaints, that is not the intention of this particular section. The intention is with respect to broad policy questions on health care in the delivery of health services, not on individual complaints because clearly, Madam Speaker, as most Nova Scotians are aware, there are bodies within the jurisdiction of the provincial government to deal with those specific questions.

Under that clause there is an opportunity for people that are concerned about the decisions that are being made or the process that is being followed by the government in dealing with these important issues where they can respond to somebody, to a body, to a group that is immersed in and is aware of the issues involved in health care and the delivery of health care, not only in the province, but also in the country, that they understand that there is a process for those concerns to be brought forward to this Legislature.

As it says here, Clause 10(1), "The Provincial Health Council shall receive complaints or concerns . . . with the principles set out in this Act.". The question of, ". . . the provision of insured health services in accordance with principles set out in this Act.", and that, Clause 10(2), ". . . the Council shall make a report in writing to the House . . .", with respect, on an annual basis - I would suggest more often, if need be - to the House and to the Minister of Health.

It says, further, that, Clause 10(3), "Within sixty days of receiving the report of the Council, the Minister shall make a report in response and file the Minister's report with the Clerk of the Assembly.". It is quite simply an opportunity, Madam Speaker, under difficult circumstances - and I would suggest urgent circumstances - where the delivery of health care in this province is under serious threat.

Again, it is not simply a question of are we going to open a couple of beds here or are we going to close this hospital down and change it from an acute care facility into a community health clinic, but it is a question of how we are going to respond to a reduction of 25 per cent in the amount of money we have for the provision of health care in the Province of Nova Scotia. That is an attack unlike anything that we have ever seen before in this province or anywhere else in this country. I would suggest that we need to come together, all members of this House, all groups representing different citizens in the community and people who are participating in the health care system, and we need to try to figure out a way to properly respond to the challenges that are facing us.

Madam Speaker, the sponsor of this bill, the member for Halifax Fairview, talked about national standards, that we have been fighting for over the past 50 years to try to entrench, in this country, national standards that ensure that the principles of the Canada Health Act are followed from one end of this country to the other. Yet what we are seeing now is a dissolution of those principles and we are seeing the provision of a two-tiered health care system in various parts of this country. We are seeing fees and charges being put on health care services that were not normally there. We are seeing that health care services that were once freely provided for people in need are not being provided any longer.

The response by this government to funding pressures on the whole Pharmacare question has been interesting. For them to assert that they have done this and have been able to maintain the universality of it, is simply incorrect. The Pharmacare Program came out of the health care system, and the provision of health services in this country as an ancillary to that; in fact, it is now available only to a very small group, to seniors and to people on social assistance.

Now, Madam Speaker, instead of it being all taxpayers who are going to share the burden of the costs of Pharmacare, a very important benefit and an integral part of the public health care system, instead of it being something that is shared around, in other words, based on universal principles, now it is very much a model of the user pay system. In this case, all seniors - not all Nova Scotians, but all seniors - who are eligible for the Pharmacare system now have to pay an extra fee; the burden for the funding of Pharmacare is being shifted off the general tax base to the specific users of the system. That is, again, regardless of the rhetoric that this government tries to spin on, put on this interpretation of Pharmacare, is a further withering away of the important principles that form part of our public health care system in the Province of Nova Scotia.

So, Madam Speaker, in conclusion, I would urge all members to vote in support of this bill being sent to the Law Amendments Committee. Thank you.

MADAM SPEAKER: The New Democratic Party House Leader.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Madam Speaker, do we have time to vote on yet?

MADAM SPEAKER: I think the rules are quite clear in terms of that there is no debate.

MR. CHISHOLM: By unanimous consent, we can agree to vote this forward.

MADAM SPEAKER: Well, the clock just ran out, actually.


MADAM SPEAKER: The New Democratic Party House Leader.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Madam Speaker, would you please call Resolution No. 294.

Res. No. 294, re Educ.: Funding Commitments - Honour - notice given May 8/95 - (Mr. J. Holm)

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

MR. JOHN HOLM: Madam Speaker, as I was looking at the clock and the menu sheet that had been passed along, I thought we had one minute left, so that we were either going to have the opportunity to listen to the Minister of Labour for a minute or get a chance to vote. But I guess an extra minute has been added on to my time allotment, so I now have 11, instead of the 10 that was decided.

MADAM SPEAKER: Actually, honourable member, the clock was backed up by one minute earlier. I have you starting now at 5:12 p.m. It does not give you an extra minute, though.

MR. HOLM: Not now, because it has been used up. Madam Speaker, I want to move ahead, if I may, on the resolution that we have called for debate this afternoon. I hope that our debate can be somewhat constructive in terms of commitments and so on that are going to be coming forward from government members in terms of what they are or are not prepared to do.

I will read into the record, the resolution that I introduced into this House by means of tabling it at the earlier part of the week. It says, "Whereas in the 1993 provincial general election the Liberal platform stated that `School Boards across the province have been underfunded and we will address this problem as part of our commitment to education.'". That, Madam Speaker, are not my words, but that is from the Liberal Party education policy, as supported by the now Minister of Education and by the Premier.

It also said, Madam Speaker, "Whereas the Liberals noted the illiteracy, innumeracy and drop-out rates caused by underfunding, pledging that `a Liberal Government will stand by our commitment to education; we have no choice but to respond to the real needs of our time'; and

Whereas in 1995 three years of deep Liberal cuts are causing a crisis in education, which the Liberals simply shrug off;

Therefore be it resolved that the government should honour their very specific commitments to properly fund and motivate education as `the means by which Nova Scotia will keep pace in a competitive world'.".

HON. RICHARD MANN: On a point of order, Madam Speaker. I could not listen to the resolution that says three years of Liberal cuts. I mean, we have not even been elected to government for two years. I mean how an erroneous statement like that can be allowed to stand, I don't know, but I think that has to be addressed.

MADAM SPEAKER: Well, I thank you for your (Interruptions) Order, please. That was a point of elucidation, but it was not a point of order.

MR. HOLM: Three decades and Nova Scotians are saying that it feels like three centuries of oppression, Madam Speaker. That is what Nova Scotians are saying and, of course, this government has long since lost any recollection of time and commitment.

However, Madam Speaker, I want to be fair and I will state, as I begin my remarks, that, yes, indeed, in some areas, the government has made some very important progress. They have made some progress, I would suggest. I don't know if I would say that it was the member for Canso who is the one who should take credit for some of that, in terms of setting up literacy programs. They are doing some positive things in terms of the community college restructuring programs and to try to make sure that programs that are being offered through the community college system are, in fact, meeting not only the needs of those who are entering the schools today in terms of what their future employment will be, but hopefully down the road as well.

[5:15 p.m.]

What they certainly have not done, what they certainly have not begun to do is to address the funding problems that are being faced by school boards and those who are trying to deliver essential programs and services across the province. Yes, Madam Speaker, we are probably going to hear about amalgamation and amalgamation is being put forward as a saviour, that somehow or other amalgamation is going to be saving millions of dollars and that those millions of dollars are somehow going to make their way back into the classrooms.

We were told figures like $11 million, even though, of course, the minister's projections were based on 1993 figures. We were told, Madam Speaker, that there are all these excessive dollars in terms of the administration, yet board after board has been forced to make heavy cuts before even this year and more are required. That means the laying off of positions, not only the teachers but the teachers' aides and resource people, the specialists, the school psychologist, the social workers, people who are desperately needed in order to be able to provide essential services so that our children - who are involved in the education system and who we owe it to, to ensure that they have the best educational opportunities and who we are going to be depending upon - are, in fact, going to receive the highest quality of education.

The education reform that is supposedly underway, in terms of restructuring and amalgamation, I would suggest has far more to do with meeting the bottom line of the provincial government in terms of saving money than it does to do with improving the quality of education. I want to read one paragraph and only one paragraph out of a presentation, it was made to the Law Amendments Committee, it was also made to the Minister of Education, from the home and school association that represents parents and schools from one end of the province to the other and who will soon be holding their 100th Anniversary; certainly, a group that is very committed to the quality of education that the children receive.

The report goes on to say, that the proposals for restructuring our education system appears to be driven more by financial than education consideration - not my words, Madam Speaker, but I agree with them - this is of great concern to us, and that is to the home and school association. We have recently witnessed the attempted intrusion of business into our classroom, the youth network, for example, they gave an example. Several new schools in Nova Scotia are going to be built and maintained by a consortium of private companies and that, of course, is to get the dollars off the budgets of the provincial government. Of course, we still have to pay for them.

School boards are moving towards contracting out services. The words charter schools and vouchers are increasingly bantered about. Even the language of the White Paper implies the emphasis being placed on the business agenda, site-based management, clients, restructuring, cost-efficiency, critical mass and quality management, to cite but a few. We would far prefer to see the emphasis remain firmly on students with special attention paid to maintaining and enhancing strong, quality relationships between students and teachers in the classrooms throughout Nova Scotia. Madam Speaker, I agree 100 per cent with the statement that was made.

The Nova Scotia School Boards Association, they in their presentation said that the proposals of the government, in terms of restructuring, have not included any plans for public participation in amalgamation decisions. That, Madam Speaker, has a great deal to do with the resolution because what it has to do with - you are telling me I only have two minutes and if I could have an hour I could go into far more - is that this government has been slashing the funding for the public school system. This year alone approximately twice as many dollars are being taken out of the public school education system as the government is saying will be put back into the education system as a result of restructuring. Even though it has not shown where those dollars are going to come from.

The government is hiding behind a smoke-screen and it is saying that the boards have plenty of money to be providing all the programs and services yet we are hearing 88 positions in one board, more in another, Digby lost 9 and so on. Those are impacts that are affecting directly upon the children in the classroom of the Province of Nova Scotia. If we are going to make it more difficult for school boards to provide these specialist needs, the resources that are needed for those children, most specifically who are at risk, then what we are doing is denying them and all others whose educations are disrupted with the full economy opportunities to take part in the future economy of the Province of Nova Scotia in terms of helping to rebuild. Plus we are denying them the opportunities to have the personal growth and development that they deserve as citizens in the Province of Nova Scotia.

The deficit is a problem. Nobody denies that, but if we are to truly address the deficit we have to remember the human deficits that are being created and we cannot increase the numbers of those human deficits by simply trying to save a few dollars on the backs of the children in the Province of Nova Scotia.

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Official Opposition.

MR. TERENCE DONAHOE: I am please to have a couple minutes to address this resolution. I think as we hear more and more of the decisions in terms of areas of budget cutting forced on our school boards and the communities across the province, that people certainly hundreds and hundreds of them who communicate with our caucus, are becoming dismayed with the actions of this government.

I note the numerous promises that the NDP resolution refers to taken from the Liberal platform, but there is another which was flagged by the current minister and his Premier which they have all but abandoned. Those words were and quote from the Liberal election documentation and those words were: Liberals identify education as the one area where increased investment may well be necessary to achieve our goals. However, one of the only investments, I think that we have seen within the Department of Education while in the midst of the government's 2, 3, 3 and 2 reduction plan is basically to add funds to the department's administration. That budget is increased by about $400,000 and the minister has had abundant explanation for such extravagant expenditures on the administrative side of the operation, at time of fiscal restraint. I may say, as I am sure he knows, they do nothing to impress the teachers, the boards, the parents, the home and school associations and the students who must do more with less.

When asked yesterday by a television reporter, when will the boards reach, "the bone" in terms of cuts to existing fat, it is this year, next year, the minister replied that the boards had probably already reached that point. I think that says a lot. So where does a board like Dartmouth go next year when it must cut another $1 million as it will likely have to do? Dartmouth School Board member Don Chard was asked that question this morning on the radio and I am sure the minister probably heard him. I am not sure if he knew exactly what the board would do next year except cut possibly more administrative positions. The board in Dartmouth passed a budget last night which eliminated 30 teaching positions for this coming year. How many should parents expect next year by allowing the various schools to carve away at the children's Primary year, the board was able to save a few resource teachers and speciality programs. What will they do next year?

In an article in the Daily News about almost a year ago Tom Regan with who views I don't always agree had this to say, and I quote him, education in Nova Scotia is in BIG TROUBLE. He raised the issue which has been spoken of in terms of our health system, but has not had the same attention when it comes to education and that is the creation of a two-tiered education system.

Regan asks and I quote him again, who can blame parents for pulling their children out of a rotting education system and putting them in private schools? Those are Regan's words, not mine, those are the words of a commentator who is looking at what this minister and this government is doing. But he certainly correctly points out, and he is so right, and I quote him again, he says, not everyone can afford to do that. Isn't he right? But he continued in this article by saying, and I quote him again, in an age when education counts more than ever, we are in the process of creating an educational elite based on income and not on ability. How sad that in a province where the idea of public education was championed before almost anywhere else in North America, it is becoming increasingly obvious that the only way to get a really proper education is to put your child in a private school. Again, Regan's words, not mine, but this minister knows and I know, from people who are communicating with me, that they are experiencing the same concerns.

The trumpeting of the woes of our system and there are woes in our system by Mr. Regan is corroborated, I think, Mr. Speaker, by the story in February of a Dartmouth parent who was so unhappy - and I asked the minister about it today - he is talking about charter schools and so on and the minister earlier today also made his views known about charter schools. But that is the extent to which parents in this province are being driven by reason of concerns relative to the public school system here in the Province of Nova Scotia.

The school boards, the Teachers Union, and the home and school federation held a joint press conference in February, and they released a survey to illustrate just how the government cuts are hurting the classroom, in opposition to what the minister said would happen. Prefacing her comments with the fact that Nova Scotia is second only to one other province, spends less per student than any other province, the president of the school boards association said, and I quote her, I don't think people can continue to think that we can go on doing more with less. We'll have to do less with less, and that unfortunately is what is happening in the public school system. We are doing less with less.

In response, the Education Minister didn't offer solutions or a chance to discuss the difficulties. He just criticized the boards by saying that they have been asking for more money ever since he was a teacher and he, in fact, got off the good line that he knows all about surveys and he wasn't much impressed with the quality of the survey taken. Well the minister may make the comments which he makes and his continual haranguing that all of the Liberal woes are due solely to the former government is that the Liberal Party knew full well that the province didn't have additional money to throw around and yet they made these extravagant promises in the election campaign of April and May 1993. It is nice to see that the minister seems now to have one standard for the school boards, unions and the home and school associations but he happens to have another standard for his own department because that is well treated.

He made the commitment, along with his colleagues, to advance the quality of education, to invest more, not, Mr. Speaker, to invest less, to realize that goal. I know how difficult that is. I could go on. Unfortunately, the time is limited.

The Liberal education policy, Mr. Speaker, ends with the promise that, a Liberal Government will excite young minds and awaken them to the joys of life-long learning. We will support and empower our teachers and we will make a fundamental commitment to prepare every student in Nova Scotia for the challenges of the future by providing them with a quality education. Instead of insulting our hardworking teachers, volunteers of our home and school associations and our elected school board members, the minister, I might say, might start living up to his Party's considerable education promises and helping those individuals see that our children are properly prepared for the challenges of the future with a quality education.

If you take a look at the estimates of the Department of Education, as the Leader of the NDP has said, very substantial millions of dollars are being ripped out of the public school system, when one realizes the reduction in expenditures there, notwithstanding the fact that the minister says that some of that money will be returned by restructuring. Well, I don't think that there is a Nova Scotian yet who understands or who has had it explained clearly by this minister, how this restructuring money is, in fact, (a) going to be generated; and (b) how it is going to make its way back into the public school system.

[5:30 p.m.]

You take a look, Mr. Speaker, at the community college system and the minister has no answer that I have heard for what it is that he and his officials in the government propose to do with the thousands and thousands of people who are going to fall through the cracks, who are not going to be able to meet the standards which are now being implemented at the community college system, who are not able or by interest prepared to pursue a post-secondary education system. There are tens of thousands of young people for whom a range of programming that simply must be present is not present.

It is simply not possible for all of our young people, unfortunately, to pursue post-secondary education careers. It is not possible for all of them to attain entrance to our community college system with the increased standards. It is not possible for all of them, and it never has been and it never will be in any society, for all in that society to be at the leading edge of the so-called information highway and the new technologies and so on. There simply will not be the capacity for tens of thousands of young Nova Scotians. I will bet dollars to donuts that every member in this place knows many families in their communities where their young people just simply are not able to meet the criteria at the community college level and they are not able to meet the criteria at the post-secondary education level.

This minister, I believe, and this government owes an obligation to the thousands of people who are young Nova Scotians who are in that category to develop a range of programming that will meet that need. I realize my time is up, Mr. Speaker, but I support this resolution and I call upon this Minister of Education and the government to finally get off their backsides and start to keep even some of the promises that they made in the election campaign of April and May 1993. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Just before I recognize the honourable Minister of Education, perhaps I would just take a moment to make an introduction to the House. In the Speaker's Gallery we have with us the Deputy Speaker's daughter here today, Ms. Cosman is here, and I wonder if she would rise and receive the warm welcome of the House of Assembly. (Applause)

The honourable Minister of Education.

HON. JOHN MACEACHERN: Mr. Speaker, it is with great pleasure I rise after the previous two speakers. What we have heard just now is the confession by both the Opposition Parties in terms of their Leaders that, given the circumstances that Nova Scotia and education face today, they cannot do the job. They basically said that unless there is more money to provide services in Nova Scotia, they cannot do the job. I want to tell you, we on this side of the House recognize the realities that we face, thanks to the previous government. I would like to speak to those just for a moment.

In 1978 when they came into power, debt servicing in this province was about $10 million. That is the total debt servicing; education about $350 million; $10 million, $350 million. When we came into power, Mr. Speaker, they had doubled education spending to about $720 million approximately, but debt servicing had gone to $802 million when we arrived. (Interruption)

Mr. Speaker, with due respect to the honourable members who have had their time on the floor . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order please. The Minister of Education has the floor.

MR. MACEACHERN: For the first couple of months, Mr. Speaker, I felt exactly like the previous two speakers, that the job is impossible. Basically what happened, there was not enough money because not only did they leave us the debt and not enough money, but they left us some real problems financially. They had committed $50 million new money to service the pension that they allowed to go bankrupt, number one. Some other costs, for example, they promised $60 million in new schools.

For a while, Mr. Speaker, I sat expressing exactly what the previous two speakers said, that this job is impossible. Then we sat down, the Department of Education and the government in terms of discussing this and we decided that the job was absolutely necessary for the young people before us. First of all, contrary to what the other two speakers seem to imply, there is no other money in government. There is none. They are suggesting that somewhere this government can reach in and get money. Well, the previous government fixed it so that was impossible.

What we needed to do was to restructure because let me repeat, not only did we have less money, we also, because of the crowd opposite, had debts of about another $100 million that we had to spend for the public school system, because of them, Mr. Speaker.

So we set about doing it, Mr. Speaker, and I am going to give you a couple of examples of how we did this to rescue it because we have taken the challenge very aggressively. The honourable Leader of the Opposition talked about the community college system which he and his crowd left in a destitute state. We are resurrecting that. This year, with about $3 million less money, we have 500 new positions there, to train 500 new people, 500 new seats in the core programming.

Besides that, Mr. Speaker, we have sold $9 million in customized training, a record for the community college. Besides that, we have sold 15 per cent more training to the private sector, all brand new. The challenge has been taken and we are doing it.

There was mention made by the Leader of the New Democratic Party about the Literacy Program. Using a small amount of money, we basically this year have brought into the Literacy Program an additional 1,500 people; that is adults in our province who, in fact, were falling through the cracks under the previous regime. Next year we expect that to almost double again, with the same kind of monies that we have here.

Another thing that the previous government committed the Department of Education to, was, in fact, the Museum of Industry, which they had committed out of the very scarce education dollars, $1.3 million a year. Well, Mr. Speaker, I can report that we have recovered $1.1 million of that to protect services and, at the same time, the museum is going forward, thanks to the community.

The honourable Leader of the Opposition talks about the money that is being ripped out of the education system. So, Mr. Speaker, for the illumination of all members of the board, I would like to talk to that money that is being ripped out. He mentioned the Dartmouth board so I will go specifically at the Dartmouth board because he brought it forward here; $348,000 has been reduced from their budget, for example. That $348,000 is because of the 3 per cent roll-back. It is $348,000 that is taken out but they don't have to spend it, so that is like nothing. Let's do that again now. (Laughter) Well, just think about this, if I had to pay in what is happening in this House, for example, we have reduced the salary component for that board by $348,000, so we are not giving it to them. But we are not giving it to them but they don't have to spend it. This is not complicated.

Let's take an example in terms of your salary, Mr. Speaker. Let's suppose I gave (Interruptions) Oh, absolutely.

MR. TERENCE DONAHOE: Mr. Speaker, on a question. The minister and I have had this discussion before and he may not have all of the numbers that relate to all the boards but obviously he had paid some attention to the Dartmouth circumstances.

My question to the minister is, could he tell this House what is the expenditure faced by the Dartmouth board this year to meet its obligation under the Early Retirement Program?

MR. MACEACHERN: Mr. Speaker, as I told the honourable Leader of the Opposition last day, and I don't know why he is using my very valuable minutes here for the question he asked the other day and I committed to provide it when the study was done. The numbers are not in in the department because the boards have not provided them. (Interruptions) Well, because it is reported.

Now, Mr. Speaker, do you see what he is doing here? Let's do it again - $348,000 they don't have to spend, is not given to them. That is like nothing, right? Your salary, Mr. Speaker, the Speaker's Office, if the Speaker's Office had decided that they are not going to pay you any salary, so the government didn't give them your salary, then they are no worse off than when they started. So that $348,000 or, for the honourable Leader of the Opposition to make it clearer for him; let's suppose he didn't have to pay his mortgage so his salary was reduced by an amount equal to what he would have paid, if he had to pay his mortgage, he would be no worse off, if he had a mortgage, for example.

Now the second thing, Mr. Speaker, if I could because he is using these numbers as if he knows something and that scares me. (Laughter) The second thing, and this is the second item, this has to do with an agreement among the boards because that is where it came from, they asked us to do this. In terms of our agreement with the Nova Scotia Teachers Union, we have identified for the Dartmouth board $811,000 that could be saved if they followed the agreement exactly as was signed between the Department of Education and the Nova Scotia Teachers Union. We had yesterday, by the way, from the home and school in Dartmouth, that arrived on all members' desks, a statement by members of the home and school where they did a survey and they made the following charge to the Dartmouth school board.

They said that they recognized cuts must take place because of the agreement, for example, but they disagreed the cuts you define are the ones that should be done because - and we have three examples of boards last year that did this - they were having difficulty implementing the agreement with the Teachers Union, $811,000 for that board; in fact, what happened, we stepped in, as we promised to those three boards, to help them identify how to make those cuts and, in fact, they did that, made their budgets and protected almost all the services. They have the right to do it but they have room, according to what is here, of $811,000.

What this government did previously - and I was in the school system - this is important, that if they were to reduce $800 or $1 million from the boards what they would have done is just take it and allow the boards to suffer with it and so, as a result, those things took place. Now, let me repeat, Mr. Speaker - this is very important - what those two members did when they spoke, they confessed that they cannot solve the problems in the community college unless they have more money, they can't solve the problems with the universities or literacy unless they have more money. Now, the truth is, whether it be federally or provincially, there is no money. So what they confessed, while they stood up, is the incompetence of that group to solve the problems of Nova Scotia given the realities they face and I accept their confession.

MR. SPEAKER: Just before I recognize the member for Halifax Fairview, I would like to recognize the member for Cape Breton South on an introduction.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. In the gallery today we have with us, Jacqueline Norrie and Karen Fulton, two distinguished residents of the Truro area and, of course, you know that Jacqueline Norrie is the daughter of Housing Minister, Eleanor Norrie. I would ask the House to welcome the visitors here today. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

MS. ALEXA MCDONOUGH: Before I address the resolution that is before us dealing with the severe problems with our education system, I too, would like to welcome the daughters of two of our women members of the Legislature. It makes me sad that I don't have a daughter to introduce to the gallery. But it is very nice not to be the only woman in the House, which was a sentence worse than death in my first three years in this Legislature and I hope that the daughters of male and female members will pursue a lifelong interest in politics, if not every last one of them be necessarily aspiring to be a member of this House; by spending some time in the gallery, they may in fact, revisit any aspirations they might have had to enter public life.

Madam Speaker, I listened carefully to the Education Minister's comments - I see that he is not listening at all to mine - and I guess I just must listen with different ears than the Minister of Education does, because he stood up here and said that he had just heard a confession by both Opposition Education Critics that they couldn't under any circumstances do anything to properly manage and implement the education agenda in this province.

I am not going to waste the few minutes available to me to talk about what a silly statement that is except to say that it is exactly that kind of excessive rhetoric and arrogance that I think causes people to be so frustrated about the level of debate that goes on in this House. Instead, I would just like to speak briefly about a couple of particular concerns that I have arising out of the resolution brought forward by my Leader, the Education Critic, the member for Sackville-Cobequid and by the complete inadequacy of the Minister of Education's response. He has pleaded poverty, he has poor-mouthed every step of the way in terms of addressing the educational challenges that he as minister and this government face and yet we have heard absolutely deafening silence, in fact, no official stand whatsoever taken by this government, for example, in the face of the federal budget brought down recently which has signalled, which has specifically indicated that over $350 million is going to come out of the federal government transfers to Nova Scotia over the next three years.

[5:45 p.m.]

Now if we are to believe that the Minister of Education is severely handicapped, severely constrained in being able to keep the Liberal Government's commitments that they made in 1993 to the electorate under the current financial circumstances, then what in the name of Heaven are we going to face in the future when we see a reduction of approximately 25 per cent of the dollars coming from the federal government for our health care system, our community services and our post-secondary education system? I guess we will see this government declare its complete incapacity to discharge its responsibilities.

Surely, the point is that given the financial constraints that we are already facing and given what that is meaning in the way of the erosion of the quality of educational services in many parts of the province, the assault on many of our educational support services, the specialized educational support services provided by psychologists, by speech therapists, by social workers and so on, given the severe erosion of many of the aspects of our curriculum that provide for the kind of well-rounded educational experience that students need in this day and age, if they are to be truly equipped to deal with the changing circumstances and, frankly, the number of changes in occupation and employment they are likely to face over a life time, then what in the name of Heaven are we going to face when that 25 per cent reduction hits us over the next three years?

Yet, we have not seen this government do so much as stand up in this House and even talk about their concerns with respect to the federal government's direction, let alone be willing to join hands, join forces with the diverse elements in this community that do want to see some leadership, to come together and take a stand in the face of what the federal government has indicated that it intends to do to Nova Scotians. They have not even been willing to come together and support the minimalist, carefully worded so as not to be provocative resolutions brought forward from the Opposition members of this House to say, let us with one voice express our concern and at least ask the federal government to come and talk to Nova Scotians through public hearings, through the committee on finance.

It is not about whether members in this House from different caucuses support one another. It is about whether we can come together and provide some leadership in working with all Nova Scotians to provide support to them in the face of the kind of already announced attack that is going to take place on our quality of education, health and community services over the next three years or four years.

Madam Speaker, I think one of the totally ignored concerns that is almost unthinkable to imagine in terms of how much worse it is going to be over the next few years is the complete failure to deliver on the commitment to special education services. We know that special education services in this province for kids who are challenged in various ways with learning disabilities, with mental handicaps and so on, that these services were already woefully inadequate when the Liberals came to power.

I grant that they did not create that situation in the first instance, but what they said is that they recognized that problem and they would move swiftly and dramatically to address the problem. They then said, we are not going to move quickly to address the problem after all. We are going to do a careful analysis and come up with a comprehensive plan.

Yet, Madam Speaker, almost two years later, we are still waiting for that first step, which is to hear from this government what it intends to do to address the reality that if many of our students are having a difficult time in the face of eroding services and deteriorating educational supports, then children and youth in our educational system who have special learning needs are being affected adversely to an even great degree. Has this government moved to address this problem? Far from moving to address this problem, what this government has done is put the squeeze on the existing resources, knowing that the school boards are not compelled to deliver the kind of special education supports that are needed, and it is presiding over the erosion of what exists now in the way of special education services.

Yet, this government says that what it recognizes is that our children and our youth have to be assured the best possible education, if they are going to be able to compete. That is the buzz-word, that is what this government thinks about whenever it talks about education, whenever it talks about the economy. Well, I say, Madam Speaker, if this government has any commitment at all to the children of this province who have special educational needs, it better be ready to stand up and fight to protect the dollars under the social and health transfers that we're now getting and to ensure that there is a fair allocation of dollars to meet the needs of those special education kids, because, of course, it is kids throughout the whole system who suffer when you don't have those special support services in place.

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

MR. JOHN HOLM: I'm the Acting House Leader, I guess, momentarily.

Madam Speaker, would you please call House Order No. 31.

H.O. No. 31, re Educ. - White Paper: Min. Tours - Cost - notice given May 2/95 - (Mr. T. Donahoe)

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants West.

MR. RONALD RUSSELL: On behalf of the honourable Leader of the Official Opposition, I so move, Madam Speaker.

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RICHARD MANN: Madam Speaker, on behalf of the Minister of Education, I have no difficulty agreeing with that.

MADAM SPEAKER: Is the House ready for the question? Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

The honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party.

MR. JOHN HOLM: Madam Speaker, would you please call House Order No. 30.

H.O. No. 30, re Transport - Roads: Ice/Snow Control - Cost (1992-95) - notice given May 2/95 - (Mr. D. McInnes)

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants West.

MR. RONALD RUSSELL: On behalf of the honourable member for Pictou West, I so move, Madam Speaker.

[The House Order was read by the Clerk.]

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Transportation.

HON. RICHARD MANN: Madam Speaker, the number of kilometres of roads haven't changed much and I don't know that we can break down specifically for each road what the cost was. What we generally do is take our snow and ice control budget and divide it by the number of kilometres of road. We will do the best we can to interpret the House Order.

MADAM SPEAKER: Is the House ready for the question? Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

The honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party.

MR. JOHN HOLM: Madam Speaker, would you please call House Order No. 28.

[H.O. 28, re ERA: N.S. Research Foundation - Geophysical Work - notice given May 2/95 - (Mr. T. Donahoe)

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants West.

MR. RONALD RUSSELL: On behalf of the honourable Leader of the Official Opposition, I so move, Madam Speaker.

[The House Order was read by the Clerk.]

MADAM SPEAKER: The Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency.

HON. ROBERT HARRISON: Madam Speaker, we will be complying with this request.

MADAM SPEAKER: The minister is advising us that he will be complying with this request.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party.

MR. JOHN HOLM: Madam Speaker, would you call House Order No. 1, and on behalf of my colleague, the member for Halifax Atlantic, I so move.

H.O. No. 1, re Human Res.: Public Service - Layoffs (26/05/94 to date) - notice given Apr. 3/95 - (Mr. R. Chisholm)

[The House Order was read by the Clerk.]

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Human Resources.

HON. JAY ABBASS: Well, to the extent that data is maintained under those various categories, the information will happily be provided.

MADAM SPEAKER: Thank you. We are advised that the information will be provided. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

The honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party.

MR. JOHN HOLM: In the spirit of cooperation, I would, Madam Speaker, give up the rest of the time left, to the government.

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RICHARD MANN: Madam Speaker, tomorrow we will be sitting from 12:00 noon until 8:00 p.m. and following Question Period we will be going into Committee of the Whole House on Supply for the Estimates of the Minister of Labour. We anticipate doing some Public Bills for Second Reading and some Committee of the Whole House on Bills. The Subcommittee on Supply will be meeting in the afternoon to consider the estimates of the Minister of Human Resources and possibly begin the estimates of the Minister of Justice.

I move that we adjourn until 12:00 noon tomorrow.

MADAM SPEAKER: The motion is that we stand adjourned until 12:00 noon tomorrow.

Order, please. We have reached the moment of interruption. The late show debate this evening was won by the honourable member for Lunenburg:

Therefore be it resolved that members of the Assembly recognize all those associated with the tourism industry as they continue to work effectively and strategically to promote Nova Scotia to the world throughout 1995.



MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable member for Lunenburg.


MRS. LILA O'CONNOR: The resolution this evening, Therefore be it resolved that members of the Assembly recognize all those associated with the tourism industry as they continue to work effectively and strategically to promote Nova Scotia to the world throughout 1995.

Madam Speaker, it is always a great honour for me to speak about tourism in the Province of Nova Scotia. Tourism Nova Scotia is an important and developing industry which has enjoyed many successful years of growth and this year Nova Scotia anticipates continued growth and success in our tourism industry.

Tourism is big business for Canada. It is our fifth largest export industry, bringing more than $10 billion into our nation's economy each year.

[6:00 p.m.]

In Nova Scotia the tourism industry has a vital impact throughout our province, with hundreds of millions of dollars injected into the province's economy. Nova Scotia tourism operators say they are looking forward to another banner year in tourism for Nova Scotia.

To date, Canadian inquiries are up 46 per cent; requests for information from the United States are 24 per cent higher than they were this time last year; and reservations are up 55 per cent over the total in April 1994. Perhaps the most exciting factor about these strong indicators is that they reflect the tourism activity being generated by Nova Scotia's core advertising campaign. You see, Madam Speaker, each of these inquiries has come from a potential visitor, motivated to call Nova Scotia from advertising in a magazine or a newspaper ad.

Nova Scotia is strategically penetrating the American market with a multimedia campaign that positions the province as a safe, affordable, desirable and close vacation destination. In addition, Madam Speaker, Canadian visitors are encouraged to explore diverse Maritime vacation experiences in Nova Scotia, with opportunities for history, fun and entertainment in locations province-wide.

Madam Speaker, a strong interest in conventions and meetings is also contributing to the interest and activity surrounding Nova Scotia as a travel destination. Among the many events, two major Canadian sports championships, compete with national television coverage, have contributed to the province's profile in the national spotlight.

But, Madam Speaker, the numbers do not reflect the important boost the industry can expect from the Halifax Summit in June. I expect this summer season will be especially great, not only for the Halifax area but for the province and the Atlantic Region as well.

Madam Speaker, I would like to take just a moment to mention one of the very special events taking place this summer in Nova Scotia. 1995 is the 250th Anniversary of the first siege of Louisbourg and the 275th Anniversary of the founding of the colony of Isle Royale (Cape Breton Island). From July 28th to July 30th, a Grand Encampment will be held at the Fortress Louisbourg, bringing together from across the continent volunteer groups that specialize in re-enacting key periods in North American history. This summer Louisbourg will truly come alive when at least 1,400 historical re-enactors in period costume take part in the exciting highlights of the anniversary year celebrations.

As if this wasn't enough, Madam Speaker, the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa, together with other sponsors, is organizing the Louisbourg Voyage. Two squadrons of sailing ships, about 20 vessels, will come together at Louisbourg to celebrate the valour and heritage of both the French and English 18th Century navies. These sailing ships will take part in the July 28th to July 31st festivities that mark the official founding of the Fortress by the French Government 275 years ago and its siege by forces from New England 250 years ago.

The flagship of the combined flotilla will be Fair Jeanne, a 33-metre brigantine from Ottawa. The largest vessel will be the U.S. Coast Guard ship Eagle, from Norfolk, Virginia. Other ships include our own Bluenose II, that is expected to be there in time to join the party. We are all looking forward to Louisbourg coming alive in a way unseen for 250 years.

This week Canada's major tourism market place, Rendez-vous Canada, is being hosted here in Halifax. More than 1,000 participants from around the world are here to conduct business and experience Nova Scotia firsthand. Over 300 travel buyers, representing 240 organizations from around the world, have been matched with 600 Canadian vendors, for pre-arranged appointments at which business worth hundreds of millions of dollars will be conducted. Now in its 19th year, Rendez-vous Canada is organized by Tourism Canada and is, this year, hosted by Atlantic Canada's members of the tourism industry, as well as provincial and municipal organizations.

Rendez-vous Canada brings together public and private sector members of the tourism industry in successful efforts to sell tourism products and services to international markets.

Madam Speaker, Rendez-vous Canada gives the Canadian tourism industry a unique chance to do business, to network, and generally expand its markets around the world by bringing the world to Canada.

Madam Speaker, with the advantage of the Halifax Summit focusing attention on Nova Scotia early in our traditional tourism season, the 1995 Village Fair will be launched early in June to capitalize on Summit travellers before and after the conference itself.

Communities throughout Nova Scotia have developed plans to open the doors of their historic and heritage homes, their leading-edge work places, parks and factories to visitors from across the province and around the world in June and indeed throughout the summer months.

Madam Speaker, I am confident that the Province of Nova Scotia can look forward to lots of company this summer. We will have outstanding opportunities to showcase ourselves to the world and to build our tourism industry for years to come. Thank you.

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Official Opposition.

MR. TERENCE DONAHOE: Madam Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity to speak for a few moments to this resolution. A resolve that members of this Assembly recognize all those associated with our tourism industry as they continue to work effectively and strategically to promote Nova Scotia to the world throughout 1995.

That is a very lofty sentiment and one which I support. I support and endorse the good and positive things which the previous speaker has just mentioned and there is no question that the G-7 Summit and the major conference, the Metallurgical Association - I do not have the right name - the organization that the Minister of Natural Resources referred to today, will bring a couple of thousand people to metro and be very important.

I read in today's local press that people connected with the World Trade and Convention Centre say that, even if the G-7 Summit were not part of what is ahead of us through May and into June, they would be having a bountiful time of it.

So, there are good things happening in tourism. The honourable member who has just spoken is right, that we do recognize all those who are associated with our tourism industry. I guess really, that is the element of the phrase of the resolution which I would like to address. That we recognize all those associated with our tourism industry.

One of the significant problems, and it was addressed here earlier through Question Period, is that with the greatest respect, the Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency - who has responsibilities for tourism - has to this point at least, in my opinion, not recognized all those associated with our tourism industry.

As I said earlier in Question Period today, Madam Speaker, in the bed & breakfasts and the unique country inns and the farm and country inns element or portion of our tourism infrastructure in this province, there are approximately 1,000 beds in that sector. There are 660 or more men and women and their staff who are running those establishments. As I have said earlier, that round figures - I would have to pick the specific places here in metro - but 1,000 rooms and 660 men and women working in connection with that sector equates to four or five very significant and major motels and hotels here in the metropolitan region.

What is happening is that these people are not being recognized as this resolution suggests they should be, because they are not being recognized by this minister, this government, by Canada Select and if I may say so by TIANS, as being what they are, absolutely unique.

They do not produce the fancy room with the colour television, the fax machine, the paved parking lot and all of those accoutrements. What they do provide is what was talked about here earlier today, they provide the smile and the handshake at the door. They provide the bringing of the tray with the breakfast to the room. They provide the laying out of, in virtually every case, a beautifully appointed room with a locally made quilt. They provide a kind of vacation and rest experience that just simply can't be equated with what one might get at the Sheraton or at the Prince George or at a major hotel or motel.

What they have been asking for the last couple of months and they have been pleading and they to this point, haven't gotten to the minister. I trust, although I didn't have a chance to speak to him after Question Period, I trust he made good on his promise here in Question Period, that he opened up his appointment book and he made an appointment with the representatives of that sector of the tourism industry and said, yes, I will meet with you face to face and I will, as he indicated in his remarks, put the flesh on the words which he the Minister of Tourism used here in this place earlier today.

He had all the right rhetoric, that they are unique and that they are, I am not even good enough to match the rhetoric, they are the jewel in the crown of the tapestry of the ta da, ta da, ta da, I mean, he had it all rolled into one and he left the impression here in this place in Question Period that he really understands the uniqueness of that vitally important sector of our tourism industry. Well, if he does I hope that, as they say, he doesn't just talk the talk but that he walks the walk and he meets with that sector.

I want, if I may, to just read very quickly from a letter which was sent to the Honourable David Dingwall and it was sent to the Honourable David Dingwall because ACOA, for which the Honourable David Dingwall is responsible has $1.5 million committed to Canada Select. This letter was addressed to the Honourable Mr. Dingwall from the Poplars bed and breakfast, and that is down in Annapolis Royal. They said, in part this, "In the Annapolis Royal area alone this would mean the loss of 32 B&B guest bedrooms, which extrapolates to 2,888 guest rooms over a 12 week season. With the presumption that each guest would add $50. per day (excluding accommodation expense) to the local economy for meals, visits to Parks Canada sites, souvenir purchase, etc., this would present a loss of $134,400 to the local area. Further, these small businesses would no longer be funnelling a like amount into the economy, for a total loss of $268,800 per annum to an area already devastated by the loss of CFB Cornwallis and the downturn in the fisheries. These figures are based solely on possible B&B closures and do not include the Country Inns.".

Well, that is the problem which that sector of the tourism industry faces unless this Minister of Tourism and this government sits down and understands their dilemma and acts upon it and recognizes that they are unique. All of the good things which my learned colleague who spoke just now said about the importance of tourism, I repeat, I concur, just no question, it is worth about a billion dollars.

If we don't do the right thing by the B&B's and the farm and country inns and the unique country inns and that sector of the tourism infrastructure of this province, this minister and I and others and the Minister of Tourism won't for long be talking about an industry in this province worth a billion dollars because there will be hundreds and hundreds of thousands of dollars taken out of the system unless they are treated as they should be in a unique fashion and we will see, as I say, some 1,000 beds taken out of circulation and some 600 people out of work.

I don't want to as perhaps some members might think I already am, start to sound like a broken record, but I had the privilege to spend some time as Minister of Tourism, and I was engaged in the early part of the start, not of the Canada Select arrangement but of a provincial grading system. We were attempting at that time to inject into that system some recognition of the uniqueness of this sector and that is why I am so interested in it and so perplexed that it seems, now not to be going anywhere.

The Minister of Tourism earlier said he was making good on the commitment that he made to me in an earlier Question Period that he would file a chronology of the various meetings which were had relative to Canada Select and the grading and registration system, well, he did and I thank him for that. But, when you read the item which he tabled, I note with considerable interest that in the various meetings held, I noted by that way that I didn't detect that the minister himself participated in any of those meetings, but the meetings held didn't include representatives from the bed and breakfasts and the farm and country inns and the unique country inns, but it did include a whole range of people from the big hotels and motels and so on.

My plea and my bottom line comment and the honourable member who has brought forward this resolution, I might, through her, ask that she bring her best efforts to bear upon the attitude and the thinking of the Minister of Tourism as a consequence of this debate tonight to reinforce what we heard earlier here in Question Period and what I am saying now.

[6:15 p.m.]

This is a vitally important sector of our tourism community and our tourism industry. They are unique and they must be dealt with in a unique fashion with the grading and registration system. I would invite all honourable members to prevail upon the Minister of Tourism to ensure that that grading system reflects that uniqueness. Thank you, Madam Speaker.

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

MR. JOHN HOLM: I welcome the opportunity to stand this evening to speak for a few minutes on the resolution that was brought forward by the member for Lunenburg. I sincerely do wish to congratulate her on bringing it forward and I would also like to congratulate her on what, I think were very insightful and very positive remarks that she made during her address this evening.

Tourism is and it will continue to be a very important industry in the Province of Nova Scotia. It is an industry that, I would suggest, in many parts of the world in terms of what unique things we have here in Nova Scotia to offer is only just being discovered. I had the pleasure this morning as I was driving in to this place of hearing a report and I cannot remember the name of the trade show that was on.

There was a trade show on here in the Halifax area where those who are promoting tourism and selling tourist packages from around the world are here and are snapping up opportunities to sell tourists to Nova Scotia, pointing out how Nova Scotia has a unique culture and unique geography and certainly a landscape that is unique and that he did not think it could be found anywhere else in the world and that it is something that is being discovered and certainly will be bringing many more tourists to Nova Scotia.

That, of course, is all positive and that is all great and it is all very important because it is going to be bringing literally hundreds of millions of dollars into the Province of Nova Scotia, into our economy that then can be circulated around. I do not think for one moment that we, whether we are directly involved in the tourist industry or not, I do not think that anybody should play lightly with the importance of the industry. It is vital.

That having been said, I think that it is also very important that we recognize that there are a number of reasons, not only our geography, not only our culture, that are attracting tourists to Nova Scotia. Certainly, there are other features as well, such as the low Canadian dollar which helps to attract people to this area and import a lot of dollars. It means our debt payments also increase and as the dollar rises some of those incentives to attract people to our province also start to dwayne a little bit or fade a little bit.

We have to be sure that we are building, building the infrastructure and building the resources not only to take advantage in the good times in terms of the economic situation, but also in the other times when we won't have the natural draws like the low Canadian dollar. It is important that we stress and emphasize some of the things that you can not only find here, but in many other places like the large tourist areas. We also emphasize and build upon those very unique situations and things that we have to offer, like eco-tourism which is certainly a very important and growing type of tourism. It is one that will impact upon all parts of the Province of Nova Scotia. I know as I drive around the province in the summertime, you are seeing all kinds of tours now where people are travelling around the province on bicycles. People are coming in and are involved in this kind of tourism and they very much enjoy and appreciate what they find here in the Province of Nova Scotia.

Another point that I certainly would like to talk about, of course, is the advantage for what is really economic development that is offered in many of the smaller communities around the province. It is in that sense, as well, Madam Speaker, that I would like to touch upon the point that was also raised, and I suggest raised very well, by the Leader of the Official Opposition. That has to do with the bed and breakfasts, the country inns that exist right across the province.

You know, Madam Speaker, as you are travelling around this province, once you get away from the larger centres, you often find that there are not large hotels and motels. You will also find that there are many of the travelling public who would prefer to stay in a rural inn or a country inn or a bed and breakfast, even in a larger urban centre, because it offers a different kind of flavour, a different kind of atmosphere. I know from the experiences that I have had when I have stayed in a bed and breakfast, it gives an opportunity where you can have that give and take, the camaraderie with the other guests who are staying there and to speak in a very informal way and find out about the community much more than you often will staying in a larger resort or a larger hotel.

I believe very strongly, too, that certainly the bed and breakfasts have to have a kind of a registration system and that the travelling public should expect that there will be a rating system. But is it reasonable and is it practical to say that the kind of rating system that a bed and breakfast will have should be the same system that is used to classify your larger hotels and resorts? I would suggest, in all honesty, that it is not. I would suggest that very often those who are travelling and staying in a bed and breakfast are looking for a different kind, and that does not mean inferior, of accommodations than those who are staying at one of the larger hotels in downtown Halifax.

Surely, Madam Speaker, we should be able to have in this province a rating system that acknowledges and recognizes the uniqueness of those country inns and other types of facilities of that nature, rather then trying to impose the one carte blanche system that was designed for the large resorts, the large hotels, upon them.

The Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency and Tourism, I think, had a very simple and very easy request made of him today. I understand that the minister has agreed to meet with those who came into this Legislature today. Surely, however, it should not be necessary for those who want to have their concerns heard to have to come and sit in the galleries so the questions can be asked publicly in this place before the minister will find that he is forced to respond and to go out and meet with them.

We have, in the Province of Nova Scotia, a unique culture and part of our culture, I believe, is one of openness and a willingness to listen. Supposedly, we sell ourselves on being the friendly people here in Nova Scotia. Madam Speaker, I sincerely hope that the minister has entered, if he has had that meeting already, with an open mind and with a willingness to look at and try to compromise and to devise a system and to be willing to fight with his federal colleague to ensure that ACOA grants are able to be approved for those country inns, even if they are not members of the Canada Select. Surely, we should be able to recognize the differences between them.

Madam Speaker, we do have tremendous opportunities. We have to make sure that our training is proper. Not only in terms of, I would say, for the accommodations, but also for the eating establishments, we want to ensure that we have a kind of a rating system so that those who are visiting will be able to determine the level of the facility they are using, the level of the service.

But you know we have to be very conscious, too - as my closing comment on this, Madam Speaker - that tourism in many parts of the province tends to be a seasonal type of employment, very important to those communities, but it does tend to be a seasonal type of employment and it also tends very often to be lower in terms of the wage scale, so we cannot, obviously, build all of our hopes for our economic future only upon the tourism industry, as important as that is. I say that as a way, Madam Speaker, of getting one final plug towards the Minister of Education to ensure that the province provides proper funding for education, so that our young people will have an opportunity to move into whatever field of endeavour they should wish to follow in their adult years. Thank you.

MADAM SPEAKER: Are there any further speakers in the remaining two minutes? Hearing none, we have reached the moment of adjournment.

The House stands adjourned until 12:00 noon tomorrow.

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