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. I will call the House to order at this time and commence the daily proceedings. Are there any introductions of visitors before we begin the daily routine? Then we will commence the daily routine.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Justice.

HON. WILLIAM GILLIS: Mr. Speaker, as Chairman of the Committee on Law Amendments, I am directed to report that the committee has met and considered the following bill:

Bill No. 27 - Railways Act.

and the committee recommends this bill to the favourable consideration of the House, with certain amendments.

MR. SPEAKER: Ordered that this bill be referred to the Committee of the Whole House on Bills.

As Chairman of the Committee on Assembly Matters, I beg leave to table a report from the Committee on Assembly Matters which met on November 7th with various members in attendance, as listed, and recommends to the House for its consideration, amendments to the Rules and Forms of Procedure of the House of Assembly as set out in the schedule to the report.


The report is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Justice.

HON. WILLIAM GILLIS: Mr. Speaker, as Chairman of the Committee on Law Amendments, I am directed to report that the committee has met and considered the following bills:

Bill No. 24 - Wildlife Act.

Bill No. 25 - Government Records Act.

Bill No. 26 - Motor Vehicle Act.

and the committee recommends these bills to the favourable consideration of the House, each without amendment.

MR. SPEAKER: Ordered that these bills be referred to the Committee of the Whole House on Bills.

The honourable Premier.

HON. JOHN SAVAGE (The Premier): Mr. Speaker, I would like to introduce to the House, Elmer Williams of Barneys River, Pictou County, a former municipal councillor for the Municipality of Pictou. He is in your gallery, Mr. Speaker, and we would like to extend him the usual courtesy of a warm welcome from the House. (Applause)


MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Justice.

HON. WILLIAM GILLIS: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table the Annual Report for the fiscal year ended March 31, 1995, for the Public Trustee.

MR. SPEAKER: The annual report is tabled.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.


HON. RICHARD MANN: Mr. Speaker, as the Government House Leader, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move that the Rules and Forms of Procedure of the House of Assembly be amended as provided in the attached schedule:



Province of Nova Scotia

Rules and Forms of Procedure of the House of Assembly



November 7, 1995

1. Paragraph 60(5C) of the Rules and Forms of Procedure of the House of Assembly is repealed and the following paragraphs substituted:

(5C) Notwithstanding anything contained in these Rules, where a member of a Standing, Select or Special Committee, including the Committee on Assembly Matters, is not able to attend a meeting of the Committee, another member of the same Party may be substituted for that member by the substituted member attending the meeting.

(5D) Notwithstanding anything contained in these Rules, the member of a Standing, Select or Special Committee, including the Committee on Assembly Matters, may be replaced by another member of the same Party by the House Leader of the member's Party tabling a notice to that effect and filing a copy of the notice with the Clerk and the Chair of the Committee.]

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

Does the honourable member for Digby-Annapolis have a resolution to present on behalf of the government?

The honourable member for Digby-Annapolis.


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

Whereas this week has been designated as Veterans' Awareness Week in recognition of the 50th Anniversary of the end of the Second World War; and

Whereas one of the least recognized groups of veterans who participated in this conflict were those who served in the Merchant Navy; and

Whereas these Merchant Navy veterans suffered tremendous losses both in ships and personnel;

Therefore be it resolved that this House officially recognize the significant role of the Merchant Navy in preserving the peace and freedom which we enjoy today as Canadian citizens.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice and passage without debate and further request that this House observe a moment's silence in honour of these Merchant Mariners.

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.

We will observe one minute's silence in honour of the veterans.

[One minute of silence was observed.]


MR. SPEAKER: On an introduction, the honourable member for Halifax Citadel.

MR. TERENCE DONAHOE: Mr. Speaker, I would like to introduce to you and through you to all members, a group of five who are seated in the east gallery. They are representatives of the Dartmouth Adult Vocation Training Centre Student Association. With us in the gallery today are Emile Boudreau, Jo-Ann Williams, Denis Murphy, Cathy Hébert and Paul Gregery. I would invited you and all members to show our guests our usual warm welcome. (Applause)


MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings North.


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

Whereas the Justice Minister said when introducing a new Freedom of Information Act that, "the previous government did not create a climate of openness."; and

Whereas the Justice Minister stated that his Liberal Government, " . . . would rather be criticized for something contained in information it releases than be criticized for not releasing the information."; and

Whereas when I requested through the Freedom of Information Act a listing of departmental travel that was paid for by the taxpayers of this province, we were advised by the Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency that it would cost $2,900 to get this information;

Therefore be it resolved that the Liberal Government live up to the commitment of openness and provide this Freedom of Information request on a freely given basis.

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

MR. SPEAKER: I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for 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 Statistics Canada reported today that tuition fees at Nova Scotia universities remain the highest in Canada, nearly 40 percent higher than the national average; and

Whereas this year alone, the rate of tuition fee increases in Nova Scotia was exceeded only by the hikes imposed by the Klein and Harris Governments; and

Whereas this government is not fighting for national standards of accessibility and seeks instead to radically limit access to many university programs, under the guise of rationalization;

Therefore be it resolved that this House regrets the evidence that this Liberal Government is determined to make university education and its future advantages less and less accessible to the majority of young Nova Scotians.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Citadel.


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

Whereas ITT Sheraton told Nova Scotians it would conduct a program to combat problem gambling, spending upwards of $250,000 annually in education and prevention programs; and

Whereas the Minister of Finance in a press release in December 1994 announced that ITT Sheraton would work closely with the Atlantic Foundation on Compulsive Gambling to develop education and prevention programs; and

Whereas there is absolutely no evidence that ITT Sheraton had contributed any of the $250,000 it promised for education and prevention programs to combat problem gambling and refuses to even discuss the issue with representatives from the Foundation on Compulsive Gambling;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister responsible for the Gaming Control Commission, despite not knowing anything about ITT Sheraton's commitment to fund education and training programs, is simply not credible when she says in the next breath that ITT Sheraton are acting in a very responsible manner.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton South.


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

Whereas veterans of two world wars and the Korean conflict have sacrificed greatly for our freedom; and

Whereas the efforts of veterans in peace time have built the great society we have in Canada today; and

Whereas all Canadians should do their utmost to ensure that veterans are supported in any way possible in order to ensure the comfort of those who have given so much to society;

Therefore be it resolved that this House reaffirm our unconditional support for Canadian veterans.

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

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried unanimously.

The honourable member for Hants West.

[2:15 p.m.]


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

Whereas on the 50th Anniversary of the end of World War II, Canadian war veterans have been afforded heroes welcomes by the people of Holland, France and Italy; and

Whereas, as Canadians, we too revere the contributions of Canadian men and women who sailed home from a war far away in 1945; and

Whereas during this week of Remembrance, all Canadians will join together to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice for a united Canada;

Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia House of Assembly take a moment of silent reflection to remember the thousands of Nova Scotians and other Canadians who never sailed home in 1945 and whose bodies rest abroad where their blood was spilt.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for waiver of notice and one moment of silence.

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The motion calls for the observance of a minute's silence; we shall now do that.

[One minute of silence was observed.]

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


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

Whereas the member for Cape Breton West, in his capacity as President of the Nova Scotia Progressive Conservative Party, remained silent as his colleagues attacked the construction of the Fleur-de-lis Trail; and

Whereas the construction of the Fleur-de-lis Trail will help provide economic stability for the community of Louisbourg; and

Whereas the member for Cape Breton West now boldly claims he is standing up for the people of Cape Breton while his past inaction would indicate that it is, at best, a shallow defence;

Therefore be it resolved that the member for Cape Breton West not be pressured by his colleagues to abandon the interests of the constituents he was elected to represent.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

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 unfair trial of Nigerian writer Ken Saro-Wiwa and the recent death sentence against him have aroused world-wide concern among writers and supporters of human rights; and

Whereas it is widely believed that Saro-Wiwa's imprisonment and trial are caused by his leadership of the Movement for the Survival of Ogoni People, his advocacy of minority rights and his campaign against pollution; and

Whereas there was bribery of witnesses, no right to hear and answer to the evidence against him and no appeal of the death sentence;

Therefore be it resolved that this House joins democrats around the world in urging the Government of Nigeria to immediately release Ken Saro-Wiwa from prison, lift the death sentence against him and respect his rights to freedom of expression and justice, and that Mr. Speaker convey this message on our behalf.

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

MR. SPEAKER: Well, I don't know if it would be appropriate to ask me to convey this message. I know nothing of this matter. Are we judging a judicial action in another country? (Interruption) I would like to take that under advisement, as suggested by the Premier.

Is there a request for unanimous consent, waiver of notice? Is there agreement that this matter be dealt with now? Pardon me? (Interruption) I am taking under advisement whether it would be appropriate for the Speaker to convey such a message to another nation. I don't know if that is proper protocol or not.

The honourable Deputy Speaker.

MRS. FRANCENE COSMAN: Could the motion, if passed, be extended to the Minister of External Affairs for Canada?

MR. SPEAKER: Perhaps that might be more appropriate.

Is there unanimous consent that this motion, as presented, be now dealt with by the House?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

I would be prepared to convey the message to our Minister for External Affairs of Canada.

The honourable member for Cape Breton West.


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

Whereas three months into operations, the new regional government in Cape Breton shocked taxpayers with news that a projected $6 million surplus is now a $9 million debt; and

Whereas Mayor John Coady has said Municipal Affairs policies and unrealistic transitional cost estimates have largely contributed to the financial mess now facing Cape Breton taxpayers; and

Whereas Municipal Affairs Minister Sandra Jolly acknowledged that her department reviewed and agreed to the transitional cost estimates that were off by as much as $3 million;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Municipal Affairs take immediate steps to ensure metro area taxpayers are not subjected to the same ugly and unexpected surprise three months after metro amalgamation comes into effect.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Eastern Shore.


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

Whereas on Saturday, November 4, 1995 in West Chezzetcook, over 100 people took part in the launching of a book entitled Acadian Life in Chezzetcook; and

Whereas this publication by Pottersfield Press is the first book-length story of Acadian history and culture in the Chezzetcook area, whose Acadian roots go back to the tragic deportation of 1755; and

Whereas the author of this book, Ronald Labelle, has rediscovered the traditional culture of the Chezzetcook area as one of the communities in Nova Scotia instrumental in the survival of the Acadians as a people, resulting in its establishment in the 1700's as one of the oldest Acadian communities in the Maritimes;

Therefore be it resolved that this House extend congratulations to Ronald Labelle on the publication of Acadian Life in Chezzetcook and recognize this book as an important contribution to the lives of the people of the unique Chezzetcook area and to Nova Scotia's cultural heritage.

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 minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

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 the Investment Dealers Association of Canada recently praised the reform initiatives and budgetary control measures undertaken by this government; and

Whereas the association's executive said the province is pushing ahead with cost-cutting measures at the right speed, following years of uncontrolled spending by the former government; and

Whereas the association said the province's reforms represent a good, judicious balance between making headway on the deficit from the past 15 years and at the same time making sure the economy continues to move forward;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House join with the Investment Dealers Association of Canada and applaud the financial management initiatives of this government under the leadership of Dr. John Savage, Premier of this province.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver. (Laughter)

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.


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

Whereas the Halifax to Montreal rail line is a vital link our national transportation network; and

Whereas the Port of Halifax represents 7,000 jobs and $233 million in income and is very concerned about the future of CN Rail's commitment to the port once it is privatized; and

Whereas Bill C-101 is presently being reviewed by a federal parliamentary committee;

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier and the Minister of Transportation and Communications urgently stress to the Prime Minister of Canada the paramount importance of ensuring the main Canadian National freight line between Halifax and Montreal is declared an essential part of CN's transcontinental system.

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

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

It seems to be agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Queens.


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

Whereas Halifax County Council last night approved Goodwood as the site for metro's new landfill; and

Whereas the process leading to last night's decision must be, and must be seen to be, absolutely above reproach; and

Whereas the landfill will result in millions of dollars of economic activity;

Therefore be it resolved that in advance of approving the Goodwood site, the Minister of the Environment require that any candidate for council or mayor in the upcoming Halifax Regional Municipality election and who sits on the current Halifax County Council disclose any and all political campaign contributions from any individual or company which has, or may appear to have, any pecuniary interest whatsoever in the landfill at Goodwood.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Waive notice, waive notice.

MR. SPEAKER: Is there a request for waiver of notice on that?

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 Amherst Town Council has expressed its opposition to the shutdown of the Canada Customs office in Amherst; and

Whereas like residents of Port Hawkesbury and other towns losing Canada Custom offices, Amherst residents face much higher costs to conduct customs business by private brokers or with considerable personal travel; and

Whereas major figures like Deputy Prime Minister Copps have come to Nova Scotia to state that the defence and protection of small town Canada is a paramount concern of the Liberal Party;

Therefore be it resolved that this House endorses the concerns of the Town of Amherst and of other Nova Scotia towns about the additional undermining of rural life and the rural economy that is being caused by the closure of Canada Customs offices.

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 Hants West.


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

Whereas small business is a thriving economic force in rural Nova Scotia; and

Whereas technology, innovation and persistence are essential ingredients for success in today's business climate; and

Whereas an excellent example of this technology and innovation has been shown by World-View Digital Imagery of Falmouth for their production of a digital image map of Nova Scotia from 500 miles high, which has already sold 3,000 copies and with another 5,000 soon to be ordered;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this Legislature wish Heather Holm and World-View Digital Imagery of Falmouth every success now and in the future.

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 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 Ontario has slashed economic development spending, while Nova Scotia has raised its commitment to the development of high technology by recently announcing a string of government-led projects to foster the growth of technology-based firms; and

Whereas in June the province awarded the construction of a province-wide data communications network to a consortium of private companies including MT&T, Halifax Cable and Access Cable; and

Whereas rather than dismantling its high-tech programs, Nova Scotia recently consolidated many of them into one super agency called InNOVA Corp.;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this Assembly recognize the significant commitment by this government to forge ahead with partnerships in high-tech business and congratulate both the large and small firms who are developing leading-edge technologies.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for waiver.

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

It appears that we hear some Noes.

The notice is tabled.

Are there any additional Notices of Motion? If not, that would appear to conclude the daily routine.

I wish to advise the House that the Clerk has conducted a draw for the Adjournment debate at 6:00 p.m. this afternoon. The winner is the honourable member for Victoria. The honourable member has submitted a short resolution, two lines in length, so I shall read it:

"Therefore be it resolved that the government continue to build upon our natural strengths in rural Nova Scotia.".

So we will hear debate on that at 6:00 o'clock this afternoon.

The time now being 2:30 p.m., the Oral Question Period will run until 4:00 o'clock.

[2:30 p.m.]



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings South. Kings West, I mean to say. Forgive me.


MR. GEORGE MOODY: Mr. Speaker, I do get a lot of calls from Kings South but I am really Kings West. That is because part of it was in my area before.

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health. I would like to know if the Minister of Health will give us a guarantee today that he will not water down the legislated mandate of the Provincial Health Council as an arm's length, volunteer agency that monitors and publicly reports on the Nova Scotia health care system? Will the minister give us that guarantee that he will not change that legislated mandate?

HON. RONALD STEWART: I would find it difficult, Mr. Speaker, to water down a mandate that is so indefinite and watered down already in the legislation.

MR. MOODY: Well, Mr. Speaker, this man has contempt for volunteers and a group of employees over there who are working very hard.

MR. SPEAKER: I think that is unparliamentary. Now just a moment. To say, "I think this man has contempt for . . ." would appear to me to be rather strong language for you, sir, in the House. I would ask that that not be stated.

MR. MOODY: Well, even though I feel that way, if I can't say it I will take it back, but I feel that way very strongly.

I would ask through you, Mr. Speaker, to the minister, the minister has let the membership of the Provincial Health Council go from 12 to 5. He talks about making the Health Council part of his massive research foundation which, to the best of my knowledge, is a vague concept at this point. My question for the minister is, will he today demonstrate his appreciation of the valuable work carried out by volunteers and staff, by appointing new members in the interim to carry out the mandate of the Health Council? Will he appoint new members?

DR. STEWART: Mr. Speaker, I have frequently publicly paid tribute to the work of the volunteer Provincial Health Council as it was. In fact, I suggested that their mandate be expanded when I came into office. It was merely an advisory group to the minister, at the whim of the minister. I asked them to be more proactive and more aggressive in their advocacy role that I felt they should have.

I have also made it public that I believe that the essential changes going on in health care, particularly the establishment of community boards and regional boards, will ensure a greater, not a less, monitoring of the system by the very citizens that that system serves.

MR. MOODY: Mr. Speaker, I have to say that he has no respect for that group. He has made commitments to that group over a period of time and not kept any of them, not even the appointments. I would ask the minister, if it is his wish and his desire, as minister, that he is going to let that council die by attrition, that at least he have the decency to let the volunteers and staff know what is in store. In other words, if there are no new appointments, the council is going to disappear by the new year.

The minister has appointed hospital board members, knowing full well that the RHBs are eventually going to come onstream. Now he has reappointed those people and appointed them. I would ask the minister, will he today give us a guarantee that he will not let this council die by attrition, that he will appoint the people to keep the council going until such time as the mandate has been worked out?

DR. STEWART: Mr. Speaker, the honourable gentleman opposite knows full well that the Provincial Health Council, its executive director and members of that council, are participating in the planning group, the task force that has been established, to plan for the research and the monitoring that would be set up under the reformed and renewed system. He knows that group is working towards that end and will report to me. I have made it clear publicly that I favour full democratic participation of citizens and not elite boards appointed by ministers.

MR. SPEAKER: On a new question, the honourable member for Halifax Atlantic. (Interruptions) I will have to call for order once again.

The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic, please.


MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I would like to direct my question through you to the Minister of Health. On more than one occasion, the minister has clearly stated that he accepts the recommendations of the Blueprint for Health System Reform. The minister will also know that the blueprint recommended that the Provincial Health Council's role as an arm's length, watchdog of health policy be expanded, doing more public consultation and information, reporting to the Premier on a more comprehensive mandate to achieve health public policy in all government departments.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask the minister, then, given that he does fully support the blueprint, will he bring forward legislation to in fact strengthen the mandate of the Provincial Health Council?

HON. RONALD STEWART: Mr. Speaker, this question and the line of questioning by the honourable member who preceded him, speaks to a mandate rather than a specific entity and I have addressed that in the establishment of a task force that would speak to the recommendations of the blueprint in terms of research and monitoring of our system. I am pledged to do that and I am awaiting a report of the task force.

MR. CHISHOLM: I guess the answer to the first part of that is, no, he doesn't accept all the recommendations of the blueprint committee. The minister's own health research task force has made it clear that they do not see, as a part of their work, as a part of their responsibilities, dealing with the mandate of the Provincial Health Council. They have made that clear, all members of that task force. I would like to ask the minister quite clearly, is this anything more than an attempt to punish an independent, advisory body dedicated to promoting public health in this province . . .

MR. SPEAKER: The question has been asked.

MR. CHISHOLM: . . . a body which at times has been critical of the minister and has made recommendations that increased gambling is injurious to public health? Is this, in fact, Mr. Speaker, a process of punishing this advisory body?

MR. SPEAKER: I had recognized the honourable Minister of Public Health but the other member continued to speak.

DR. STEWART: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member opposite suggests that we are in some way trying to restrict examination of our system and so on. Why in the world would we follow the blueprint which says that the democratic nature of reform is that community and regional health boards will operate and will in fact monitor the system in order for it to work well. There is no attempt here at anything but making sure that the system has proper data on which to function, that this system will work in concert with the citizens which it serves. I am pledged to do that and I would say that whatever entity develops, we will follow those guidelines.

MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, let's go back and remember that the Provincial Health Council was set up as an arm's length, advisory body to report directly to the Premier on questions of health care reform. The blueprint recommended that that mandate be strengthened and yet, what we have seen, through actions of this minister over the past 18 months since that report came out, is a diminishing of the responsibilities and of the role of that board, especially because of the fact that many of the vacancies on that board, seven of them, have been allowed to remain vacant.

There are five people on that board, Mr. Speaker, which hamstrings their ability to carry out their mandate. I ask this Premier in my final comment if he would make a commitment here today to appoint, to recommend, to fulfil his statutory obligation and fulfil those vacancies, at least on an interim basis to the Provincial Health Council Board?

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Premier, is it, or the minister?

MR. CHISHOLM: The Minister of Health.

MR. SPEAKER: You had said the Premier.

DR. STEWART: Yes, as I have said before and I will say again and repeat the answer to the question, there is no intent on patchworking anything. I will not patchwork by appeasing some Opposition thrust to patch over the fact that we do not have, in this province, a sound basis upon which to make decisions nor do we have essential reform in place until the citizens take control, monitor their system and produce what is, in fact, a better system. I have said that. If this honourable gentleman is advocating that an unelected and, in fact, a ministerially appointed board will be the watchdog of our whole reform system and the citizens council be subservient to it, then I have already made my views public on that.

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 understand the minister intends to announce the successful contractor relative to the Highway No. 104 western alignment contract tomorrow after Cabinet. I wonder if the minister can assure Nova Scotians that the process to select the winning proposal was a fair one by agreeing to make all of the proposals public at the time of the announcement?

HON. RICHARD MANN: Mr. Speaker, the short answer to that is absolutely not. There were three consortia who bid on the project, one will be identified as the consortium that we intend to negotiate with. All offers stay on the table for 120 days in the event that we are not successful negotiating with the number one identified consortium so it would obviously stand to reason that we could not make public the offers made at that time.

MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, with all respect, the minister's refusal sounds the alarm to all Nova Scotians that the whole unfairness of the toll highway continues by way of what I believe is a selective contract process. Will the minister confirm that Mr. John Chisholm, a well-connected Liberal from Antigonish who was the lucky winner last week with the strip mine in Stellarton, will also be the favoured winner of the Highway No. 104 contract?

MR. MANN: Mr. Speaker, I certainly can't confirm that. The selection hasn't even been made yet.

MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, perhaps the minister could answer this question. Will the minister tell Nova Scotians whether the relocation of toll booths will cost travellers and consumers more than the $3.00 per car and $2.00 per axle for commercial vehicles that he first proposed?

MR. MANN: Mr. Speaker, first of all I didn't propose it, there was a base case scenario done by a consulting firm engaged by the department to look at the issue. The member asks what I can confirm or what I can't confirm, I can tell the member I haven't seen the proposals. In fact, I did not have clearance to go into the room, into the offices, where the documents were held. This process was done completely at arm's length from me or any other member of the Liberal Party of Nova Scotia. His suggestion that this selection is somehow unfair, I would challenge him to step outside of this Chamber and to make those allegations and I am sure the people involved in the process will have something to say about that.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Citadel.


MR. TERENCE DONAHOE: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Education. On October 20th, this minister very abruptly and without any notice closed five community college campuses across the province. In doing so he left in his wake many unanswered questions of both the students and the faculty affected. I introduced five people in the gallery just a short time ago who are students at the Dartmouth Adult Vocational Training Centre and I have had a chance to meet with them. I understand that the Leader of the New Democratic Party had a chance to meet with them but they haven't yet met with the minister. I was just handed a note to the effect that apparently the minister has indicated he will meet with them after Question Period and I am pleased that that will take place.

Those students have a considerable number of questions and they are very concerned about what their future academic and job prospect circumstances are. I would like to ask the minister for them and on my behalf as well, what does the minister say will happen to the programs that to this point have been solely available at Dartmouth Adult Vocational Training Centre and when will that information be shared with all students and all faculty at the AVTC?

HON. JOHN MACEACHERN: Mr. Speaker, first of all I welcome the students to the House of Assembly and as the honourable member has suggested, as soon as I saw them there I asked them if they wanted to speak to me about their concerns. One of the comments that the honourable member has mentioned, that there was an abrupt and no notice closure of the AVTC. There is some truth to that because we had a four year plan which looked at AVTC as growing and improving.

As the honourable member knows, AVTC programs were all funded by the federal government, each and every one of them. Then we received notice that we were losing all government to government transfers and we had to make some adjustments in our plans, which we have done. Our focus has been to protect programs and protect services to students, because I can tell the honourable member that in fact the students at our community colleges are being served very well by the programs, and we are looking to expand those programs despite the fact that we have 20 per cent less money.

[2:45 p.m.]

MR. DONAHOE: Well, I know I am not supposed to get into editorial comment as I put the supplementary.

THE PREMIER: Hear! Hear!

MR. DONAHOE: Hear! Hear! The Premier agrees with that, but I can't help but remark . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: He is going to do it anyway.

MR. DONAHOE: . . . that the minister appears now, maybe we have reached a milestone here, Mr. Speaker, this is the first indication from a minister in a long time that the problems they are facing are not the legacy of the previous government, but now they are shifting their guns to the feds and it is the feds problem; that is the second envelope. The fact of the matter is that the federal cut is less than the cut that this minister is making from the Adult Vocational Training Centres.

As I put my supplementary to him, the minister has said in response to the main question that there has been a four year study and so on. I would like the minister to explain this to the students at Dartmouth AVTC and to this House, why was it necessary, if this big study was so important, that he spend $30,000 on a consultant down in Port Hawkesbury to come to the same conclusion that the dilapidated old building there was not so good so the students there should go to the Nautical Institute, and he used in his press conference exactly the same rationale for closing down AVTC, but at least he took the time to go through a study . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: That is quite the question.

MR. DONAHOE: . . . and allowed the students to have their input . . .

MR. SPEAKER: All right, this is getting a little long.

MR. DONAHOE: . . . in the Strait situation which he did not do in Dartmouth. Can the minister explain why the study was appropriate and necessary in the Strait and the simple cutting it off in Dartmouth was the only action necessary on his part there?

MR. MACEACHERN: Mr. Speaker, I am sorry the honourable member has to get so upset about this.

MR. DONAHOE: Well, I am. So are they. (Interruptions)

MR. MACEACHERN: Mr. Speaker, I apologize to the students upstairs for having to listen to this. If I could, the study that was occurring at the Strait was part of the four year plan that we announced about a year and one-half ago to address the mess that the honourable member, as one of the former Ministers of Education, left the community college in. So what we did is we started a plan that included such things as providing the students at AVTC, and the other campuses across Nova Scotia, with good technology which was not in place. We upgraded their programs. We raised the profile of the community college like it never was before because, before we got here, many of these programs were an embarrassment. Now the students are saying, quite correctly, that these programs are leading them towards work and we are going to continue to do that.

The study in the Strait had to do with the four year plan. We had the money to work through that and we had time. The reductions, we have not complained, the honourable member is suggesting we are complaining that we have less money. We complained at the first part, but we recognized that is the reality now, Mr. Speaker, and we are addressing it. We are addressing it with care, careful planning, and we are not allowing ourselves to be driven by the foolish plans that the previous government had. We are doing it carefully, providing for our students, at the same time addressing the reductions in money, and we are going to continue to do that.

Our community college staff are working with the faculty and we are going to be working with the students so that, by January or February, we will develop plans so that those programs that are AVTC, that are unique there, we are going to relocate those. We are going to find ways so that students have access to programs at other campuses and we are doing that student by student because if that member, when he gets up the last time, he can inform us and the students upstairs how he would replace the $8.6 million. Would he take it from Health? Would he borrow more? That was his pattern from before. Just write an OIC, and God will provide to us some day down the road. We are planning carefully, Mr. Speaker, and we will continue to do that and we will work with faculty and with students to do that. (Applause)

MR. DONAHOE: Mr. Speaker, as soon as that Minister of Education makes the offer to trade seats with me, I will give him my answer. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: We have to have order in the House, honourable members, please. The member has the floor, let him speak.

MR. DONAHOE: In the last two years, the minister has just now made the comment that he inherited a situation where the programming was a mess. I ask him to put that question to the students with whom he will speak after Question Period. As them point blank if they think the programs they have been experiencing at the Dartmouth AVTC are a mess.

MR. MACEACHERN: We've done it.

MR. DONAHOE: Oh, you have done it? So you have improved it, so now you are hacking it apart. That is what is going on.

Mr. Speaker, whether the Minister of Education is aware of it or not, in the last two years the Dartmouth Adult Vocational Training Centre has been able to generate $1 million in program sales by selling the training to private industry. That amount of money has been used for equipment and additional programming and enhanced programming at AVTC. The graduation rate from Dartmouth AVTC has been approximately 90 per cent and the full-time employment rate of the graduates of AVTC has been approximately 75 per cent.

I ask the minister if he will tell me this, did he have a study of those issues done by his officials before closing down AVTC, yes or no? If so, will he table it in this House today?

MR. MACEACHERN: Let's get this straight now; first of all, we closed the campus on October 20th, for some strange reason that I guess we could guess at, he asks a question today, Mr. Speaker, on November 8th for the first time. So his concern seems to be driven by certain publicity, so we put that on the table.

Second, he didn't address money because they always ignored money, Mr. Speaker. I want to tell you something, he listed in the last two years, they did sell $1 million more in programming. That is what the community college has done, what the staff has done and the students can be proud of that because that is what the whole community college is working at, each and every campus, because that is very important to us. In fact, we increased the sale of training to the private sector to $3 million across the last two years.

The honourable member is right in suggesting that, in fact, the graduation rates are up, they are finding more jobs. That is a credit to the staff of the community college and to the mission that the community college sees itself doing. That particular campus is no different than the others. Those two are doing similar things.

I can assure the students that when they attend other campuses, they will find the same attitude and the same success because it is the tone of the whole community college.

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


MR. ALFRED MACLEOD: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health. Cape Bretoners, like a vast majority of Nova Scotians, are becoming increasingly concerned about their health care system; they see the cutting but they don't see the reforms. Promises of a comprehensive, single entry Home Care Program have not materialized.

Given that this promise has not been kept and given that the Department of Health plans to cut an additional $11 million from the four area hospitals, Cape Bretoners are skeptical about the government's promise to open a cancer treatment unit at the Cape Breton Regional Hospital.

My question for the minister is, will he today guarantee the people of Cape Breton that they will get their cancer treatment unit and that pending transfer cuts and further reduction in his department's budget, which he knows are coming, will have no effect on the government's promise?

HON. RONALD STEWART: Mr. Speaker, the honourable gentleman opposite makes a statement which leads me to believe that he has been here in Halifax and hasn't gone home for a while. The Home Care Program, and the honourable gentleman opposite ought to know, has increased its intake in Cape Breton to up to 46 per cent to 50 per cent. Guess what? He ought to know that, Mr. Speaker, before asking a question like that. I will inform him of that. Go on back home and ask the people who are working daily, the VON, the various people who are providing home care for home hospital and chronic home care.

In terms of cancer therapy in Cape Breton, let me just remind the honourable gentleman, he wasn't here at the time, I don't hold him accountable. A $3 million cancer study sat on the desk in the Ministry of Health for three years, for Cape Breton.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Shame. Shame.

AN HON. MEMBER: Resign. Resign.

DR. STEWART: What happened to that, Mr. Speaker? I ask the honourable gentleman that. (Interruptions) We have committed to a comprehensive prevention . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Honourable members, if the disorder does not cease, I will have no alternative but to leave the Chair. I have that right if I have to.

I invite the honourable Minister of Health to address the question.

DR. STEWART: Mr. Speaker, I would give the honourable gentleman opposite the undertaking that we have committed this government and this ministry to a comprehensive program of cancer treatment and cancer therapy. The announcement and the program that will go ahead at the regional hospital, will be in place. As we speak, the plans are being made and they being made solidly so that we can have a sustainable and high quality program. I would commit to that, indeed.

MR. MACLEOD: Well, I certainly do know how to get Cape Breton. I spent a large amount of time there. The people there don't know half of what the minister is saying.

My first supplementary is again to the Minister of Health. I was advised in early October, October 6th to be exact, that a technical review was about to get underway to ensure that the cancer treatment unit was feasible. That is something, I understand that is a normal practice. Can the minister confirm that this review has, in fact, begun and if it has not, could he tell us when it will begin?

DR. STEWART: Mr. Speaker, I am not sure to what review the honourable gentleman is referring. There are several technical things that occurred in the last three to four months. One was a review in terms of the recruitment program that we would need to do in order to provide personnel. The second review was the actual architectural evaluation which went on here in my department to determine the needs there. Then there is a further technical review which has begun, as I understand it, yes.

MR. MACLEOD: Again, Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health. I understand that the equipment that is required for the cancer treatment unit takes about 18 months from the time it is ordered until the time it comes. Will the minister assure the people of Cape Breton that immediately after the technical reviews are completed that this equipment will be requisitioned so that there will be no further delays in the opening of that unit?

DR. STEWART: I might suggest, Mr. Speaker, that it depends on what equipment the honourable gentleman refers to. If it is a linear accelerator that would be, indeed, the case, there would be a lag time. But there are other pieces of equipment that would not be as long as the honourable gentleman is suggesting. Again, we are working towards a completion date of that centre as soon as possible and, in fact, we may be able to put into place programs that would phase in so that some might be quicker than others. The linear accelerator and the other radiation therapy units do have a lag time. This, of course, will vary, but we will certainly do that expeditiously.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings West.


MR. GEORGE MOODY: Mr. Speaker, my question, too, is for the Minister of Health. There was a report in The Daily News on October 18th from his department indicating that there was a net gain of five doctors this year in Nova Scotia, with 47 doctors moving to Nova Scotia and 42 doctors either moving away or retiring. My question for the minister is, why are there so many Nova Scotians without a doctor and so many areas looking to recruit doctors if we actually had an increase in doctors in the past year?

HON. RONALD STEWART: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate this question. I would like to, however, in due respect, correct the figures. The 47 physicians who left the province, of that number, about one-half were full-time. So we have effectively, again, 15 physicians coming into the province for the months of June onward. We will deal with that in that regard. (Applause)

[3:00 p.m.]

Keep in mind that it was only since June of this year that the Ministry of Health and the Nova Scotia Medical Society could actually work together toward recruitment and redeployment of physicians in the province and, in fact, this has been done. There are areas now, which had a history of chronic underservicing, very rural areas which now are filled, a total of about eight or nine of them and they are well-served by full-time physicians.

We have had difficulty in terms of several smaller towns and smaller urban areas like Glace Bay, Amherst and Yarmouth, in which recruitment is targeted and of a high priority and, in fact, there are some 35 physicians under discussion at the moment for these various areas. So we have made significant progress over the last four months, although much remains to be done in terms of speciality and other things to correct the problems that have existed for some time.

MR. MOODY: Mr. Speaker, since that report in The Daily News, he has added additional doctors. There are many people in this province who are looking for those additional doctors. I notice the report from the Nova Scotia Medical Society has different figures than the minister is using and actually has a decrease in the number of doctors over the past eight months or so.

I would ask the minister - since you hear people talking in Yarmouth, Glace Bay, in Berwick, Pictou and Amherst about their concerns about finding a physician because someone has moved away and also about the speciality area - I would ask the minister, obviously, as the minister has indicated maybe we have had some general practitioners come into the province but we are still lacking some specialty areas, I believe the minister would agree, we have had some top specialists unfortunately leave our province, we have some very good physicians leave our province, and there is a lot of talk about why we have had a sudden exodus of good physicians in this province, specialists, I wonder if he would indicate if he sees it - that there is sort of, as some doctors have said - that the reason they are leaving is because they found that their ability to provide quality health care has been eroded? That statement has been said by many physicians that are leaving. Would the minister agree that that is the reason these specialists and others have left?

DR. STEWART: Mr. Speaker, I would remind the honourable gentleman that there are various reasons why physicians come and go. We have always had a very open policy in that regard and in fact, if you look over the past three years, there has been a net gain, a net loss, depending on the months and depending on various things. I might counter by saying that we have just recruited some of the finest specialists in Canada, including from Harvard University, McGill University, Montreal Neurological Institute, neurosurgery, orthopaedic surgery. (Applause)

I believe that for the past four to five months, the Ministry of Health and the Nova Scotia Medical Society have formed a partnership to, in fact, correct some of the problems that we have had over the past decade in the province with respect to physician resources. Let us also recognize that we have certain underserviced specialities, as the honourable gentleman opposite recognizes - these have existed over the past several years as well - and we are very optimistic, particularly with the recruiter in place, that we can fill these specialties to the requirements of the physician resource planning team that has reported to me and that is continuing to work on that.

MR. MOODY: Mr. Speaker, I know that some people are concerned about more doctors leaving, but my question to the minister would be, at his earliest date, would he be able to provide me with a list of those speciality areas that have been recruited in the past three to four months, so that I can assure people that there won't be that long waiting list to see these specialists, as has been the case, and would he also have - I am sure his department has this over there - an estimated number of Nova Scotians who are presently left without a family physician, because of physicians leaving an area. Could he provide me with that information?

DR. STEWART: I can certainly provide the honourable gentlemen opposite, as I would be happy to do, with the report of the recruiter and report of the recruitment activities from the ministry. We would also certainly spotlight some of the underserviced areas and give an estimate. I would undertake to do that with my staff and we could get that this week, I am sure, or early the next.

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



MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I would like to direct my question through you, sir, to the Minister of Municipal Affairs. Of course the minister will know that the candidates who are seeking the office of mayor in the new super-city of metro have all said that they support the disclosure of political contributions. Of course the minister will also know that some of those candidates have indicated they intend to be raising and spending up to $200,000 on the campaigns. Citizens in this area are asking a very legitimate question and that is, why they do not have a right to know where and who is making what contributions to those campaigns?

So my question is quite simply this, will the minister give assurances today that she will introduce the legislative requirements necessary to ensure that the source and the amounts of contributions to those political campaigns currently underway will, in fact, be required to be disclosed?

HON. SANDRA JOLLY: Mr. Speaker, it is not possible for me to do that. The Opposition Parties are continually after me to deal with the issues that affect the municipalities on a consultative basis. I think I have mentioned in a number of issues, when I have been asked this question over the last three weeks, that in actual fact we have a Legislative Review Committee that has been established for a few months now that deals with issues that need to be reviewed and considered by the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities, the Department of Municipal Affairs and actually some of the staff of individuals from the municipal units.

I have explained on any number of occasions, Mr. Speaker, that that particular question I have directed to that committee so that they are in a position to review it and that they will be coming forward with suggestions on how it be addressed at some time in the future.

MR. HOLM: I appreciate the minister's smoke screen of an answer because this government doesn't hesitate at all to take action to impose, for example, municipal reform and all other kinds of things on municipalities when they decide it is appropriate. But when it is appropriate to do something to ensure the integrity of the system, then this minister and this government are not prepared to do anything.

Way back in 1975, 20 years ago, the Graham Royal Commission said that the information . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Surely the question has to be relevant to current matters, not things of 20 years ago.

MR. HOLM: Yes, Mr. Speaker, it is very current and it is very relevant, the question I am posing, because 20 years ago the Graham Royal Commission said that to minimize the potential for conflict of interest arising . . .

MR. SPEAKER: I cannot have this quotation from the Graham Report. Please put your question or sit down.

MR. HOLM: I am posing my question, Mr. Speaker. If they would be quiet then maybe the minister would hear my question.

My question to the minister is, what is the true reason why the minister is not prepared to act now, to do that which is right and which everybody who is involved in the process says that they support, except the minister?

MS. JOLLY: Mr. Speaker, I just answered that question a few minutes ago.

MR. HOLM: Mr. Speaker, the minister and her government imposed the system that is operating now, a system under which we have levels of financing and expenditures that this government put in place and levels which we have never seen before and pose increased conflict of interest potential.

My question to the minister is, why is she steadfastly refusing to put in place a procedure that would restore some public confidence to the electoral process that is currently underway?

MS. JOLLY: This member, whenever he stands up to speak on any bill that I have introduced, either tells me to slow down, ask for more consultation, do it differently or don't do it the way he has just asked me to do it. Mr. Speaker, constantly he asks me to slow down, back up, don't go so quickly. How many times have we discussed hoisting of bills for six months? Hoist this bill for six months. (Interruptions)

Mr. Speaker, does he want an answer to his question?


MS. JOLLY: I don't think so, Mr. Speaker. I have said that, yes, I think it is something that should be done and we are looking at it but it is very clear, this is the level of government that has responsibility to deal with their issues. I, as I have said to the other member, am the minister, I am not the councils, I am not the individuals seeking election in this election. They can voluntarily, they can put out all that information, do whatever they want, when it suits him, he wants me to act as a dictator and when it doesn't suit him, he wants me to sit down and back up.

Mr. Speaker, he can't have it both ways. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings North.


MR. GEORGE ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, my question, through you, of course, is to the honourable Minister of Health. Now the Minister of Health will recall that several months ago he closed the Eastern Kings Memorial Hospital in Wolfville. Now the hospital has reopened as sort of a clinic or a health centre and I am wondering if the minister could inform us how the funding is taking place to operate that facility as a clinic and a health centre?

HON. RONALD STEWART: Yes, Mr. Speaker, the community health centre at the former Eastern Kings Memorial Hospital, there is a community planning process in place. They have some very good ideas in terms of how they are going to proceed. In fact, just this week we are looking at a very promising proposal and we will be in a position to indeed comment further on that as we go forward with the community in terms of planning. Part of the budgets, of course, come from the Ministry of Health. I could certainly take the question under advisement and after the decision is made in terms of the composition and services of that particular facility, I would be happy to list them and have a report made for the honourable member.

MR. ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, now the minister knows more than he is saying and I would like the minister to tell the House and to tell the people how much money has that minister instructed to be removed from the budget of the Valley Regional Hospital and to be transferred to the Eastern Kings Centre so that that facility can operate. You know the number and don't let on you don't.

AN HON. MEMBER: Hear! Hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Well the Rules of the House state that a question has to be addressed to the Speaker, so I take it that the words, you know, and so forth, are addressed to me, and honest, I don't know, but I will put the question to the honourable Minister of Health.

DR. STEWART: Mr. Speaker, I believe that I take the intent of the honourable member as seeking information and not as being provocative and unfair. I would answer as best I can in terms of defining the role of a particular facility as we are doing now. It is not possible for me to tell him and to usurp the community's involvement in their planning process, to tell him how much money is going to be there when we have not yet decided the full extent of the facilities. I would ask the honourable gentleman opposite to bear with us until we, with the community, decide on that very promptly, I hope.

MR. ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, through you to the Minister of Health, the Minister of Health knows full well the facility is operating under funds taken from the Valley Regional Hospital on his instruction.

Last week, Mr. Speaker, I asked that minister a very direct question and he indicated he would give us an answer. Now his Department of Health in Halifax is operating a bingo game on the radio station in the Annapolis Valley and the minister indicated that he would find out - and it is not by the regional health board in the Valley, they don't know anything about it, it is from his office in Halifax. Now would the minister indicate if that money also is coming from the funds of the Valley Regional Hospital?

DR. STEWART: Mr. Speaker, the honourable gentleman opposite brings up an issue of bingo on the radio and so on and I did seek that answer out. I felt that that was worthwhile to look into and found, in fact, that the Health Promotion Division has advertisements during that time on that radio in order to target health care and health promotion. I see nothing untoward with putting out health promotion announcements, advertisements, whatever it is in order to promote health among those who would be participating in whatever activity a particular radio program is undertaking. We will go wherever we think we can do good for the citizens in terms of health promotion.

[3:15 p.m.]

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


MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the honourable Minister of Health. Nova Scotia seniors are very baffled respecting the Nova Scotia Pharmacare Program. On Tuesday of last week I asked the Minister of Health if there were two different timeframes for the annual co-pay and the annual premium, with the co-pay being based on the calendar year and the premium based on the fiscal year. The minister responded by saying, I was mistaken and the annual timeframes for both co-pay and premium were actually based on the fiscal year.

Now when I told the minister I checked this out by calling the government's toll free information line, he chastised me for being on the line trying to help seniors out in Nova Scotia, Mr. Speaker. But nonetheless, I did check it out on the government's toll free information line and I also called a number of pharmacists across this province who are responsible for collecting the co-pay. Again, the pharmacist told me that the timeframe for the annual co-pay is based on the calendar year.

So, my question for the minister is, will he indicate when the decision was made to change the timeframe for the annual co-pay from the calendar year to the fiscal year?

HON. RONALD STEWART: Mr. Speaker, I thought I made this clear to the honourable gentleman opposite earlier in my answer which said that the co-pay will be the same and it will be the same in the new program. We are in a transition program in which it was the calendar year and I said this. However, we decided, and the board agreed, the board of trustees of the program will extend that so that in essence the seniors of the province are getting a bonus because we are not going to be charging the co-pay. It will go from January until April of next year and that is a slight bonus.

MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I am wondering if the Minister of Health can advise me as to whether the seniors have been advised of this change and, of course, whether or not the pharmacists across the province have been advised of the change?

DR. STEWART: Again, Mr. Speaker, on the basis of the apparent confusion of the member opposite, I investigated this particular issue and if there is any indication, and if there continues to be an indication of any kind of confusion in his mind or in the minds of any others, I would appreciate finding out specific cases. We can call people, we can use our 1-800 line, we can go into various places to counsel people, as we intend to do and have been doing, and I hope that that would help clarify the matter for the member opposite.

MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, by way of final supplementary and again to the Minister of Health, will the minister table in the House later today or tomorrow, and I am sure he can get any one of his three communication officers to pull the information together in fairly short order, any communication that has been sent to the pharmacists across this province which state that the co-pay period has been changed from the calendar year to the fiscal year?

DR. STEWART: Again, Mr. Speaker, I certainly will give the honourable gentleman opposite the undertaking to ensure that everyone is informed. If he feels that there has been some confusion, we will be happy to correct his impressions, or misimpressions as is more likely, and we will do our job as we have to try to do. We have done more communications in this program than any other program under the Ministry of Health in the decade.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.


DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, a question for the Minister responsible for the Gaming Corporation. Could the minister indicate if he is satisfied that ITT Sheraton, the government's business partner, has followed the provincial government's equity hiring practises?

HON. BERNARD BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, that is a matter of ongoing interest to us. Those statistics are being carefully tracked and we certainly believe that in the hiring process that the ITT Sheraton people are mindful of our guidelines.

DR. HAMM: Mr. Speaker, I have here a letter written by the Chairman, Mr. Ralph Fiske, of the Gaming Corporation to the Chairperson of the Nova Scotia League for Equal Opportunities. This letter reveals that 13 employees of over 800 employees of Sheraton are, in fact, disabled Nova Scotians. That is a percentage of roughly 2 per cent. I will table that document.

My first supplementary is to the Minister of Human Resources. The minister has heard that the ITT Sheraton has, in fact, 13 employees out of 800 employees who are disabled Nova Scotians, would the minister indicate the percentage of disabled Nova Scotians who are now employees of the provincial government?

HON. JAY ABBASS: I would be happy, Mr. Speaker, to provide that statistic to the member opposite.

DR. HAMM: I will table this document, the Affirmative Action Joint Committee Report on the 1993 Work Force Survey, which reveals some 8.42 per cent of Nova Scotia's Civil Service are persons with disabilities.

My final supplementary. I will now go back to the Minister responsible for the Nova Scotia Gaming Corporation, who has heard the statistics. Is he prepared to investigate, with the help of representatives from the disabled community, the discrepancy in the percentage of disabled Nova Scotians at Sheraton casinos versus that in the provincial Civil Service? Is he prepared to work towards having their hiring practices parallel those of the province in terms of hiring practices directed to disabled Nova Scotians?

MR. BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, I think there may be some misinterpretation of the requirement in terms of following affirmative action hiring. It doesn't require them to track identically what our statistics may be. In fact, in a given department, we may have a very high percentage of one category or another. However, it is very important that we do track and continue to track the efforts in terms of equal opportunity hiring. As a matter of fact, that is one of the responsibilities which will no doubt be reviewed by the Gaming Control Commission and reported on in their annual report, which will be made public, not only to the members of this House but to the population of Nova Scotia generally.

MR. SPEAKER: A new question, the honourable member for Halifax Citadel.



MR. TERENCE DONAHOE: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Education. As the minister will know, the members of the Isle Madame Concerned Citizens Committee are still engaged in what might be described as their uphill battle with the minister's department to try to have the Isle Madame Elementary and Junior High portion of the school repaired. That community is grateful, as I think the minister is aware, that the high school students have been able to return to a school repaired, but the younger students are still forced to travel very long distances by bus to neighbouring schools who have opened up their doors to the overcrowding, and those children are dealing with smaller space and a partial gym and no cafeteria and they are trying to do work in portables. The project is on the Capital Construction Committee list but, apparently, it will not be eligible for some time.

Now, the members were told by their local MLA, I am told, that if they could see that the costs were lower than the original $3.4 million estimate, they would have a better chance of moving the project up on the list. I know that the department's Doug Nauss is meeting with this group, and perhaps even meeting with them today. My question, with that much background, to the minister is to ask the minister whether he would agree to ensuring that the Capital Construction Committee review the status of this project if, indeed, the costs can be determined to be lower than the $3.4 million?

HON. JOHN MACEACHERN: Mr. Speaker, I can inform the honourable member that I know the situation well. The Capital Construction Committee reviews all recommendations that come from school boards. The process is basically hands off for the minister. I would suggest they will continue to do that. They have reviewed the case and continue to review the case of Isle Madame Elementary School. When recommendations come to me and we have money, we will proceed. We act always on the recommendations of the Capital Construction Committee.

MR. DONAHOE: Mr. Speaker, this minister's department, I am told, has admitted that the original figure, the very much larger figure of the $3.4 million, was based on some 49,000 square feet of space. But, in fact, it is an area of some 29,000 square feet of space which the citizens committee is anxious to have addressed and repaired.

Obviously, being almost a 50 per cent reduction of the amount of space involved, it would greatly reduce the costs. I ask if, in fact, that is the case, as I am led to believe it is, that the project is perhaps 50 per cent the size of the earlier numbers, would the minister agree to review the project as its completion would mean a great deal, as he would know. He speaks greatly and often about serving the children in the classroom. It would mean a great deal, the completion of improved facilities, to the children of Isle Madame Elementary School and the junior high, whom I am sure he would agree have been very adversely affected.

I would ask him if he would agree to review the project once Mr. Nauss has had the meeting with the Concerned Citizens Committee.

MR. MACEACHERN: Mr. Speaker, first of all I can inform the honourable member that the MLA in the area and Doug Nauss did meet with the group today. I can remind him and I am sure he was in government not too long ago and he can remember that the Capital Construction Committee works on need, the need for students to have school spaces. I also ask him and he can consider when he gets up the next time, that if the spending of money on this facility causes the closure of other schools, new and modern schools that were built in his time, maybe he can also address us as to why they built more schools than they needed in that area in those days. But there is an overcapacity in that area, as designated by the Capital Construction Committee, and we still have the problem of what are the needs.

I visited the schools the elementary students from Isle Madame attend. They are not overcrowded, there are no portables, contrary to what the honourable member seems to be implying. In fact I did not see any discomfort or risk there.

I also mentioned to the honourable member that not only do some of the Isle Madame kids go to those schools but the students from those areas in the high school have always come the other way. So it is not a question of something that is novel to the area, of exchanging students across the two spaces.

MR. DONAHOE: Mr. Speaker, my thanks to the minister for his lecture. My final supplementary to him is simply this; yes, I understand the Capital Construction Committee workings and I know Mr. Doug Nauss well and he is a very able functionary in the Department of Education and a very decent and able man. I understand, as I said a moment ago, that Mr. Nauss is meeting with the group. I am delighted that he has had the chance to meet with the local MLA, whom I am sure shared his insights into the situation.

I repeat my question, is this minister, who apparently having gone to the site, and by his observation, not seeing any difficulties, that doesn't give me much hope or I doubt would give the committee much hope that he will be terribly sympathetic. But notwithstanding, I ask this minister will he, upon receiving a report from Mr. Nauss, personally address the situation and, if necessary, meet with the Concerned Citizens Committee to review in detail the issues which they honestly believe are a very real concern to their children and their children's education?

MR. MACEACHERN: Well, first of all, Mr. Speaker, for the comfort of the parents out there, the students are getting a good education by devoted staff in very fine schools. As I said, I visited them there so the students themselves, their education is not at risk and that is very important for all members of the House to understand.

In the meeting that the MLA and Doug Nauss had, the group gave a list of questions that they wanted answered. We will provide answers to that. Also, in answer to the question of the review, Mr. Nauss is very closely connected to the Capital Construction people and the very fact that he went to this meeting can indicate that, in fact, he did review this, that this is not far away from the discussions of the Capital Construction Committee each and every day. So, this is not far away.

[3:30 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Queens.


MR. JOHN LEEFE: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Municipal Affairs. The Governments of Nova Scotia and Canada have chosen to provide free non-repayable grants of approximately $1 million toward the construction of a new golf course near Bridgewater. That strikes me as an odd priority, particularly in a county which is experiencing hospital downsizings and the loss of hospital beds and reductions in elementary school construction, among other things. At any rate I wonder if the minister could advise the House if she is aware that the cost of the golf course of $3.5 million does not include almost another $0.5 million which is required to meet the interim financing charges, for a total cost of $4 million, not the $3.5 million which has been the most publicly stated?

HON. SANDRA JOLLY: Mr. Speaker, I would just ask in all honesty if the member could clarify his question. He was speaking a little low. I am not sure if his question is whether the golf course is $4 million rather than $3.5 million or who has set up funding for it.

MR. LEEFE: Mr. Speaker, my question is whether the minister is aware that in addition to the $3.5 million cost which has been stated publicly for the course, there also is an additional cost of $444,000, almost another $0.5 million, to cover the cost of interim financing, therefore raising the total cost of the course to about $4 million?

MS. JOLLY: Mr. Speaker, I thank the honourable member for clarification of the question. As the honourable member has stated quite correctly, the portion that the infrastructure program is dealing with is a total of just a little under $1 million, a third, a third, a third. The additional amount of money that will be required, we have approved the project in principle based on the municipality and the Economic Development Committee down there coming forward with guarantees of financing, with looking at the financial implications. All of those things, in actual fact, have been addressed based on the information that has been provided to the department.

MR. LEEFE: Mr. Speaker, I thank the minister for her direct answer. I have a letter to which I will be referring and of course, which I will table for the minister and any other members who may be interested. It is signed by Graham Cooke, President of Graham Cooke and Associates Incorporated Golf Course Architects. In the letter Mr. Cooke says, "Market analysis of Lunenburg County confirms the viability of this new course and, if the course operates similarly to rural courses such as Chester, Paragon, Ken-Wo and Avon Valley Golf Clubs, on-going financial concerns should not materialize.". My question to the minister is, will she please make any market analyses which she has or to which she can gain access available to members of the House and table them here in the House?

MS. JOLLY: Mr. Speaker, I would suggest that the honourable member, who has quite a bit of information already and is in that area, would clearly be able to ask the Economic Development Committee in that area for the information and they would be able to provide it to him directly.

MR. LEEFE: Mr. Speaker, I would have assumed that the minister would have had that information in advance of offering to give that $0.5 million away. My final question again arises from this letter in which Mr. Cooke states, ". . . a condition of approval by the Department of Municipal Affairs for the Infrastructure Funding for the new Lunenburg Municipal Golf Course is a letter from my firm commenting on the appropriateness of the construction and operating costs included with this application.". Mr. Cooke, as I understand it, is the architect of that course and my question to the minister is, why in Heaven's name would her firm seek a letter of comfort from a company which has a direct pecuniary interest in the course being built? Mr. Speaker, I will table this letter.

MS. JOLLY: Mr. Speaker, I just want to clarify. Number one, I have not given away $500,000. I am not sure what the honourable member is referring to there. We have made an arrangement under the infrastructure program, the same as we have done in many programs, that funding is done on a one-third, one-third, one-third basis, of which, I had already explained was just a little bit less than $1 million.

I think, also, Mr. Speaker, as the letter very clearly says, this project has come forward. We have stipulated some things that we need to have ongoing clarification of and we have asked that of the Economic Community Council down there and they are very much providing it to us. So I think certainly it would only be appropriate that we would continue to ask for information as we go along because it is a very important project to that area.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.


MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I would like to direct my question through you to the Minister of Community Services. It has come to my attention today that the planned legislation dealing with open adoptions or legislation that would provide that access to adoption records be more accessible, particularly, to adoptive adults and birth parents, is not, in fact, coming forward. I would like to ask the minister if he could perhaps confirm whether in fact that is true and explain why it is that that legislation is not coming forward?

HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, we have had committees working and the committee has been representative of stakeholders in this particular issue surrounding adoption. There are areas of sensitivity that have to be worked out and addressed in a legislative and in a legal manner. I had hoped that we may have some legislation in place but we are working through this. I would hope in the springtime that that would be available rather than bringing draft legislation or legislation that is not complete. So we are continuing the consultative process within the committee structure.

MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I think it is important that all members are aware of the fact that there was a ministerial committee on the release of adoption information that reported to the minister in the spring of 1994. As the result of the recommendations of that committee, there was a working group established in September 1994 with the express purpose of developing draft legislation on this matter. That committee, that working group, consisted of representatives of different groups concerned about this issue as well as staff from the minister's department, and, I believe, the Department of Justice.

The sensitive nature of this issue is undeniable, Mr. Speaker, but my understanding was that that matter had been addressed, it was recommended by the working group that the minister be left with power to refuse information in the event where it would be harmful to the people involved. As late as this summer, the minister had assured all those involved, including ourselves, that, in fact, legislation would be coming forward. I would like to ask the minister if he could explain perhaps what it was that broke down between September 1994 and this fall to prevent that legislation coming forward?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, nothing has broken down. This government and our department have shown a commitment, even in difficult times. We have put two extra staff persons in there. We have moved already from a passive registry into a more proactive approach. So many of the things that we are doing in the department and opening up the adoption process is already being done and is not dependent upon legislation.

The honourable member mentions the contact veto and that is a matter of some concern to people. In the hearings that were held around the province, we know that there are many people - who have concerns out there regarding adoption and the disclosure of identifying information - who did not appear because those are the people that promises were made, years ago, prior to the 1980's, that that information would be kept secret. This is a major ethical, moral and legal issue. Some jurisdictions have tried that. Other places in Canada have not moved that far so the legislation we are looking at is on the leading edge regarding disclosure.

Many of the things we can do we are doing already. But there is a very sensitive issue of people having, in some way, been rejected from their birth parent and if a contact is made and the information is given and that person pursues, in spite of a contact veto, to bring forward the information and to meet with their birth parent, against the wishes of the birth parent, then we have a major moral and ethical dilemma, plus in some ways the person being rejected a second time. So, these aren't easy measures. There is much counselling that has to be in place for this and we are working toward that.

MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, let me say that no one involved in this issue is insensitive to the need for caution and the need to protect the interests of all involved. But clearly the need to make this information available to adult adoptees and birth parents is extremely important and it is something that this province had committed itself to move on. It was something that the working group was tasked with, not only to bring about administrative changes, but also to bring about legislative changes. It is a commitment that this minister made to all of those groups involved in working hard over the past two to three years and getting these changes.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask the minister, in my final question, if in light of the fact that this is National Adoption Month in Canada, he as the minister responsible will, at the very least, indicate by tabling in this House the administrative changes that he has prepared and is now in the process of making that, in fact, will do what he says, making adoption records more accessible to people involved in the process?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member is correct; many people have worked very diligently on this matter and given our department a great deal of support and I would certainly like to recognize that. Also, I would agree; with the National Adoption Month, I myself have brought a resolution before the House pointing out the need for those children - particularly with special needs and who really need homes, to take some of the pressure off of our foster parent system - for adoption. I think it would be wrong-headed at this juncture to bring incomplete legislation before this House and I have no intention of tabling that. I have not made a commitment that I would do that; I said I would work toward that. We have to do that within the legislative framework of government and I am working within that framework. When it is complete, then I will bring that before the House.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Queens.


MR. JOHN LEEFE: Mr. Speaker, last night, Halifax County Council approved Goodwood as the site of the new metro landfill. My question to the Minister of the Environment is, I wonder if the minister could advise the House, and indeed the people of that community, what steps he as minister is prepared to take to respond to the fears expressed by those citizens who are opposed to the siting of the landfill at Goodwood in advance of his signing of the environmental permits which are required to effect that decision?

HON. WAYNE ADAMS: Mr. Speaker, the question is a relevant one, that I have heard a great deal on the news about. I would expect that the Municipality of the County of Halifax may be applying. I haven't heard anything directly yet, but if they do apply for an environmental assessment, I will look at that request and reply accordingly.

MR. LEEFE: I thank the minister in advance, and I am sure he will make good on his commitment.

Mr. Speaker, yesterday the minister made what I took to be quite an exciting announcement respecting solid waste resource management in Nova Scotia. While I was not in the House at the time to respond to his announcement here, I did privately go over and congratulate him on that initiative. I notice on Page 6 of that initiative, Achieving Waste Diversion Goals, it is stated that, ". . . compostable organic material from industrial, commercial and institutional sources . . .", will not be allowed to be landfilled. My question to the minister is, with respect to the Goodwood site, is he also prepared to bar, as a condition of permit, the landfilling of domestic compostables?

MR. ADAMS: Mr. Speaker, I am grateful for the question because it is a very important one, in light of the fact that my staff have advised me that there was a typo in the material that we sent out yesterday, but indeed the part where it calls for the banning of compostables from industrial and institutional should include residential as well. So we are including all organic waste from all landfills in the province. (Applause)

[3:45 p.m.]

MR. LEEFE: Both the question and the answer were timely in that case, Mr. Speaker. My final question is this. It is reported today in the Chronicle-Herald that PROBE which, as all members will know, has been a citizens' group very actively involved in this matter, ". . . will ask Environment Minister Wayne Adams for a fully funded, mediated environmental assessment and will urge area MLA Bruce Holland to bring the matter up in the legislature.". My question to the minister is, will the minister respond positively to that request by PROBE?

MR. ADAMS: Mr. Speaker, I always like to respond positively to most things that are put before me, but again I will look at any application that comes before me and consider my response at that time.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants West.


MR. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Labour. Firefighters in Cape Breton Regional Municipality are currently in the process of trying to obtain accreditation for training conducted by the University of Oklahoma to be carried out at the Cape Breton Adult Vocational Training Centre for firefighters. I presume that the minister is aware of that, but I am wondering if he is in agreement with the transfer of firefighter training to the Cape Breton Adult Vocational Training Centre?

HON. GUY BROWN: Mr. Speaker, I have met with the fire marshal who is meeting with all parties concerned including the fire school that we have here in the metropolitan area. Hopefully, there will be a resolution to the situation when those talks have been completed.

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, where there is not enough money, as I understand it, to run the school at Waverley it would appear to me that there certainly would not be enough money to run two centres for training fire officers. Would the minister confirm that there will only be one training centre in the Province of Nova Scotia for firefighters?

MR. BROWN: Mr. Speaker, no, I can't. What I can confirm is that the fire marshal's office will be working with the volunteer fire departments across this province and with the new municipalities. Hopefully, we will come up with a plan that will be in the best interest of the volunteer fire departments across this province so that they can all have training at a reasonable price. That is what we will work towards.

MR. RUSSELL: That was a great answer, Mr. Speaker, but it does not really resolve anything. The thing is that the fire training school at Waverley needs, on a continuous basis, funding from the Province of Nova Scotia. In the past that has been something in the order of $200,000 to $225,000 per annum. Now as I understand it the Department of Labour, through the fire marshall's office, is only going to provide something in the order of $90,000. So how can they operate? However, conversely, how can the minister, through the Minister of Education, I presume, fund a fire training course at a much higher level at the AVTC in Cape Breton? So my final supplementary is will the minister advise volunteer fire departments across this province, and I am not asking you to do it tomorrow, but at the earliest possible date, whether or not training is going to continue at Waverley? Because, if it is not, they are going to have to make alternate arrangements in the very near future.

MR. BROWN: Mr. Speaker, with regard to volunteer fire departments, and we should not just consider them, we should also include fire departments from the private sector. We have a lot of them in Nova Scotia and they are working with the fire school, and hopefully as we get more companies involved, then possibly some of the financial situation will look after itself through contracting and through working together in the best interest of Nova Scotia. That is what we are moving towards.

I am not aware, and I have absolutely no approval from the Minister of Education or my department or anybody else that we are setting up another training program in Nova Scotia. But, Mr. Speaker, I want to make it very clear that we will work with Education, ERA and every other government department, in the Department of Labour, to try to develop and deliver a training program to the volunteers across this province. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.


DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency. Recently the State of Israel has been on all of our minds due to the tragedy that occurred there. On a different subject, the Israeli Consul has visited this year, I believe, on two occasions, Nova Scotia. The consul has engaged in talks with members of the Economic Renewal Agency and discussed our trade with Israel. I understand we export some $14 million worth of goods and services to Israel. Would the minister tell us if he, in fact, personally was involved in either of those two series of discussions with the consul?

HON. ROBERT HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, yes, I had the pleasure of meeting the Israeli Consul in the Premier's office located in this building, I think within the last two weeks, if I recall correctly. We had a discussion; there were follow-up meetings with senior trade officials in my department.

DR. HAMM: I am not sure, Mr. Speaker, from the minister's answer if he met the consul or if he took part in meaningful discussion. I wonder if the minister would inform the House, what details were discussed in these talks and if he would discuss trade opportunities that were developed as a result of these two meetings?

MR. HARRISON: Perhaps it would help to clarify if the member opposite would give me the name of the individual, but the Premier and I met with the gentleman from Israel who is perhaps the ambassador from Israel to Canada. We met in the Premier's office and we discussed a variety of trade possibilities, including the Canada Week celebrations which will take place in Jerusalem next summer, and any number of issues that relate between environmental technology and communication technology. There were follow-up discussions with Roy Sherwood, the senior trade official, and my staff after that meeting.

DR. HAMM: Well, the Consul General is Daniel Gal and it was my impression that the purpose of the meeting was to discuss future trade relationships between our province and the State of Israel. Would the minister inform the House, by way of supplementary, what further talks are planned between the State of Israel and our province that would result, perhaps, in a situation that will result in improving trade relationships with the State of Israel? Bear in mind, for them to come to us, I think, is a great opportunity for us to promote business in our province.

MR. HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, the Leader of the Opposition will know that a document published by the Trade Council and endorsed by the department and the government is out for discussion throughout this province. There is, at the moment going on, public consultation on a trade strategy for the Province of Nova Scotia which will identify key locations for export, for trade opportunities, for investment attraction and for tourism throughout the world. One of the areas we are looking at, obviously, is the Middle East. There have been relations between nations in that part of the world and Nova Scotia for some time. I would be happy to supply the Opposition at any time - and I would trust that they would also give us information on leads for potential trade and export opportunities for this province anywhere in the world - and we would be pleased to share as much information as is possible with the Leader of the Opposition at any time.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings North.


MR. GEORGE ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask a question through you, sir, to the Minister of Municipal Affairs. The Minister of Municipal Affairs will probably know that this morning in the newspaper there is a report that the Mayor of Cape Breton Regional Municipality was going to have a meeting today in Halifax with the minister. I am just wondering, did that meeting take place?

HON. SANDRA JOLLY: Yes, Mr. Speaker, I was aware that there was an article in the paper this morning about the meeting. In actual fact, the meeting did take place.

MR. ARCHIBALD: Through you, Mr. Speaker, again to the minister, the minister indicated that she was rather curious and puzzled as to why the regional municipality was over $4 million to $10 million overextended beyond what they anticipated. I am wondering whether the minister was able to find out at the meeting where the money went and has she (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Let's not get back into disorder, the honourable member has the floor.

MR. ARCHIBALD: Look, who is asking these questions. I appreciate the help of the rabble over there but I would like to ask the questions myself, Mr. Speaker. I am wondering, does the minister now understand where the $6 million to $10 million disappeared and is your government going to fund the shortfall?

MS. JOLLY: Well, Mr. Speaker, clearly at the meeting - and it was a very serious meeting, there are some very serious financial concerns for the Cape Breton Regional Municipality - they were able to put forward to me an overview of where the expenditures had occurred and how important it was to them that those expenditures be reviewed. So certainly we had a discussion on that and the information was very worthwhile.

MR. ARCHIBALD: Again, Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask a question through you to the minister. Now there are people in Cape Breton who are concerned about their tax rate and there was some urgency because the Mayor of the Cape Breton Regional Municipality was going to set the tax rate, after his discussions with you. I am wondering how long is it going to be before you can give the Mayor of the Cape Breton Regional Municipality an answer on what kind of provincial assistance will be arriving to alleviate the debt problem, or will you be telling him that he is on his own? I am just wondering what kind of a timeframe the taxpayers have to look forward to in Cape Breton?

MS. JOLLY: Well, Mr. Speaker, when the tax rate is set is clearly an issue that will be dealt with by the Cape Breton Regional Municipality as it is dealt with in all municipalities across the province. Certainly the information was thoroughly reviewed. They came to the table with some ideas and some ways to address that. I have agreed with some of my senior staff we will sit down and review some of the suggestions they came forward with and we will be back to them in short order.

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


MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I would like to direct my question to the Minister of the Environment. I was pleased to see that the minister did finally stand up and make a correction, after I pointed out to him yesterday that he had left out the residential organic materials from the composting, so I am pleased that he has now set the record straight and, in fact, has announced that that is going to be banned.

There was another error, too, in his announcement yesterday. That is that the minister forgot that he should have been banning the development of new, solid waste incinerators in the Province of Nova Scotia because any of the material that would be burned at one of those incinerators can either be reused, recycled or composted. Yet, Mr. Speaker, if you allow them to go ahead you are permitting the emission of hazardous gases and so on that can be very harmful to the people's health.

So my question to the minister is quite obviously this, will the minister now correct another fault in his announcement and will the minister announce that he will not permit the development of any new solid waste incinerators in the Province of Nova Scotia?

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of the Environment. There is no time for supplementary questions.

HON. WAYNE ADAMS: Mr. Speaker, I do want to thank the honourable member opposite for this continuing, long-time commitment to protecting our environment. I would help him out by telling him that there is not an error in regard to incineration. Incineration shows up in the strategy as a last resort. We have not banned incinerations, we have banned the fuel that they use that they are from the resource stream.

Mr. Speaker, we still maintain the standards for emission control from any smokestack of an approved incinerator in Nova Scotia. The strategy that covers incineration is well thought out, it is in keeping with national standards across the country and we are pleased to be a leader in this regard.

[4:00 p.m.]

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



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

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Resolution No. 506.

Res. No. 506, re Educ. - Min.: Dartmouth AVTC Students Meet - notice given Nov. 6/95 - (Mr. J. Holm)

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

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have an opportunity to stand to speak tonight, although I wish I did not have to speak on this particular topic. As I begin, I would like to refer to a few quotes. The first one says, "I have good news to share about the Nova Scotia Community College.". Madam Speaker, welcome to the Chair. That was a quote attributed to the Minister of Education, the Honourable John MacEachern, on April 20, 1995.

Next quote, "Axe drops on colleges across N.S.", that quote, of course, is from October 21, 1995. So between April when we had good news, we have the axe falling in October. The next quote, Madam Speaker,"At least 500 more students will be admitted this year to the Nova Scotia Community College.", that quote, April 20, 1995. Who said it here in the House of Assembly? The Minister of Education. Next quote, "There will be an initial reduction of about 800 potential program seats.". Where is that quote from, Madam Speaker, and who is it from? That, of course, is the Department of Education. That was also in October 1995.

Some people are asking me if that would be a flip-flop, Madam Speaker. All I can say is that the fortunes of the community college system and certainly the fortunes of those young people and adults who wish to enrol in the programs have certainly changed very dramatically in a very short period of time. Believe it or not, it has been exactly the same government and exactly the same minister that has been in power. So we have seen the situation where we have gone from good news to the axe. We have gone from the situation where there are 500 more to 800 less seats that are being offered.

The resolution that I have introduced, Madam Speaker, I will read it briefly. It says:

"Whereas independent reviews of the Adult Vocational Training Centres (AVTC) have found a high success rate, . . .", and we know that. We know that over 90 per cent of the students, for example, of the Dartmouth AVTC are in fact graduates or do graduate. We know that over 75 per cent of those students find employment. Of course, many of the students also go on to do continued upgrading and retraining programs. There is, ". . . solid satisfaction among employers and genuine student commitment to improving their education and job prospects; and

Whereas without consultation, the Education Minister has cast aside the Dartmouth AVTC students, without a guarantee of related programs, without an outline of future programs and with no prospect of a similarly successful adult-oriented campus; and

Whereas this creates a new barrier to students who have overcome much to pursue AVTC training;

Therefore be it resolved that the Education Minister should meet Dartmouth AVTC students as soon as possible and address their many concerns and questions, starting with his reasons for shutting down one of his department's success stories.".

Madam Speaker, I am very pleased that I introduced that resolution because part of that is coming to fruition already. That is, as a result of introducing this resolution today, as a result of the students, and more importantly the students coming to be with us in the House today, the minister has agreed that he will meet with the students after we finish the debates in this House. You know, maybe that is a symbol or maybe that is a sign to others who are trying to meet with the Minister of Education, and others, about other items of crucial concern to them. Maybe what they should be doing is coming to this Legislature and that way they will get a meeting with the minister.

I think that it is very important that the kinds of issues and the kinds of concerns that the students are raising, that the students have asked, that they receive very clear and direct answers from the minister. Not only in a private setting, but in a public forum where they can find out what they can actually expect from this minister and from this government, Madam Speaker.

I had the privilege and pleasure earlier this week to attend the press conference of the students' council organized at the Dartmouth AVTC. I have to tell you I was extremely impressed, not only with the quality of the press conference in the way that it was held, but with the sincerity and the concern, not only for themselves, but for other students, those who will come after them, the students at the Dartmouth AVTC displayed and showed at that time.

I also had an opportunity to tour what is considered to be an unusual building that has to be shut down by this government. I saw many of the improvements that were being done to that building and do you know how they were being paid for? Many of those improvements that are currently underway in this building that is being shut down were paid for with the money that was earned by that school by the sale of their programs to private industry. The profits that were made have been reinvested back into that school, or they had been. Now any profits that are made from the sale of those programs no longer go back to those campuses, now they go back to the department.

Well, the minister says I am wrong. That was the information I was given, but we will hear that, we will hear that all from the minister and we look forward to hearing all of this from the minister.

The students at the college, and I must admit I have to buy into what they were saying, do not believe that by cutting funding to the community college system that this government is acting in the best interest of Nova Scotians. Yes, I know that the minister is going to stand up and he is going to say that the federal government is cutting funding to the provincial body and, therefore, since they are cutting $8.6 million in funding to the province, the province has decided they have to cut over $10 million out.

The province is saying that they are going to revamp and retrain and redevelop their programs and that they have a plan. Well, you know, Madam Speaker, it was not many months ago that the government supposedly had a plan. I talked about some quotes at the start. Good news for the community college system. The fact that there were going to be 500 more training seats, a few months later, the axe falls 800 seats, training spaces, eliminated. Is that good planning?

If in fact, the government has a plan to ensure that the essential programs and that the students who are currently enrolled in the Dartmouth AVTC and also those others who would come after them will be able to benefit from those programs that are offered, some of which, by the way, are only offered at that campus. Surely, if the government had thought through that plan it would have been respectful to those students to have laid that plan on the table. Not to say, we are going to develop it, we will tell you sometime down the road, we will determine which programs that are only offered there will continue. We can tell you now we had thought it through, we know what programs will continue and that those, for example, who are involved in a basic academic upgrading program and a lot of these courses are in blocks. They are like a five month block and students may be enrolled in programs. They complete one block and then they are able to move into the next block.

You know, too, Madam Speaker, that the Dartmouth AVTC has a very different and unique feel about it. It is one of the things that the students are most concerned about the loss of and that is their environment. Because the majority of students and, yes you can say that those who are attending community colleges and I do not have the statistics here, maybe the minister does and he may be able to address these, in terms of the age of those who are enrolled in the programs in different community colleges. One of the things that makes it so comfortable for the students at the Dartmouth Centre is the fact that the mean age of students at that centre is over 31 years of age, 31.4 years of age. In fact, 60 per cent of the students, I am told, are over the age of 31. They are adults, not just young adults, but adults where they work in a learning environment and are treated as adults. They are given responsibilities. They take those responsibilities very seriously and they have an excellent working relationship and learning relationship with each other and with their instructors.

So, Madam Speaker, when the minister is addressing the concerns, maybe one of those concerns is how is he going to set up or ensure that an environment will be able to continue where those students will be able to take part and learn in the kind of friendly atmosphere that they have at the present time. Atmosphere and environment are very important in learning and it is very difficult for adults, especially those who have had to struggle to get back into a training program and/or who have been in a work place before, to go back into the educational system. So the environment is crucially important.

Madam Speaker, we all know, even this government knows, that if the economy of Nova Scotia is to be successful, if the people who live in this province are to be successful, if the businesses of our province are to be successful, we have to have a well-trained and well-motivated work force. This campus has been successful in customizing training and meeting the needs of industry. We know that. We have seen examples of that. For example, the shipyard contract, which I believe was somewhere in the range of $1 million and which produced a great profit for that school.

Students deserve, I believe, very concrete answers to questions like why is it that over $10 million - and these are questions, I'll read some of them directly from their press statement - why is the minister cutting $10.4 million from the Nova Scotia Community College system when the transfer payments are only being cut by $8.6 million? What will happen to the programs that are only available here? Has the minister identified which programs will continue and where those programs will be offered? What is going to happen to the instructors? We know, according to the minister's statement, that there will be approximately 150 fewer positions.

Well, Madam Speaker, they want to know and they are concerned, not only about themselves, but are concerned about the well-being of their instructors. They want to know what is going to happen to them and they also want to know what will happen to the qualities of their courses. If those courses are to be discontinued, some of the instructors, if they gain an opportunity for employment - you would expect and it is reasonable - that they would be prepared or have been forced, I should say, to seek that employment because they also have families to support.

Madam Speaker, the Dartmouth Adult Vocational Training Centre, that building once was basically like a warehouse. That building has been designed, it has been rebuilt on the inside, it has modern equipment. If you go into the shops, because the school has insisted and monies have been reinvested, they have bought additional equipment so the students who are receiving training don't have to line up for individual machines. But there is actually that equipment there for them to use, all the modern computer equipment. One of the most important things - and it came across loud and clear - when you met with the students and you saw them in a group, the students were supportive of each other. That is crucially important to adults who have difficult times in their own life and who have had to undergo tremendous struggles to be able to get into a training program.

I believe the minister has a clear responsibility to give concrete answers, not just some vague plans or announcements, as to what will happen in the future. I am sure that the students are anxiously awaiting those exact plans.

AN HON. MEMBER: Hear! Hear!

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Education.

HON. JOHN MACEACHERN: Madam Speaker, it is indeed a pleasure to get up and to address the community college in Nova Scotia. I will quote from the previous speaker, that in fact the students of our community college are, first of all, adults. They have acted responsibly and they are becoming responsible people in the sense that the view of the world is something that they face. I am going to speak to the community college because even what we have in front of us, in terms of the resolution, although it has a few odd things at the bottom, the initial whereas speaks very clearly of the success of the community college over the last couple of years. "Whereas independent reviews of the Adult Vocational Training Centres (AVTC) have found a high success rate, solid satisfaction among employers and genuine student commitment to improving their education and job prospects;", that can be applied to each and every one of our campuses across the Province of Nova Scotia.

[4:15 p.m.]

What has happened over the last couple of years was that we turned with the staff to the campuses and what we have done is we have encouraged them to develop themselves. I can mention just a couple, by the way. First is Yarmouth and I will just give an example. When we travelled around the province in December 1993, we were very concerned with the Yarmouth campus for many reasons. The faculty and community college staff have turned that around to a 50 per cent increase in their enrolment in one year, basically by using the resources of sale of training, increased tuition. That is a characteristic of the whole community college but it wasn't always the case.

I will give you some examples of what we saw in December 1993 as we travelled across the community colleges. We visited each and every campus. The executive director, my deputy minister and myself visited each and every campus in a very short time to get an understanding. We found such things as this. One course had no students but had staff because the previous government had this rule that said that no matter what happened there were to be no layoffs of staff, money was to be spent to keep the staff and never mind the programs. We had another case in which we had one teacher who had four students across three years, for courses. We had another, an auto repair course that couldn't repair a car that was less than 10 years old. That causes a certain difficulty.

I remember talking about another course in which there were 15 graduates the year before in that particular section. There were 13 of those sections across the province and not one graduate received employment in the trade the year before because 75 per cent of the trade was unemployed. I asked the teacher, how can we keep doing this? He said to me, I need a job. I have great concern about that because our community colleges exist for students. That is why they exist. We started right away to re-examine our community colleges, focus entirely on students. We want students when they graduate from the community colleges to have their graduation ring and to wear their jacket and be proud of what they have done.

Down in Cape Breton it became a standing joke about some of the courses, in fact, all they used them for was to find a way of extending their unemployment insurance benefits. I have a good friend, by the way, who is unemployed in three trades. In fact, he is equipped for three separate trades, he is 31 years old but never has been able to find work in any of those trades, because of two things. First of all, the community college was underequipped in terms of the equipment and the training and, secondly, they never kept themselves up to scratch in many of their courses.

If I could, I will give you two other examples. I visited one of the community colleges on that tour and they were establishing their first computer lab. I visited another one and the teacher said to me, yes, we have computers here but we use them for night lights. This was a community college, a technical institute which was supposed to be preparing our students. In two years we have turned many of those around.

Now, there were great courses, we had some great campuses. In fact, we had two or three which were absolutely remarkable campuses, mostly tied to the principal that was there at the time who developed the programs that were there. Even at that time they expressed a frustration that they couldn't build forward because they had no money, first of all, and the second thing, they couldn't bring in new staff. What we did was first of all allowed them to keep all of their sale of training money in-house so that they could reinvest it in new equipment and new programming.

I can give you examples of staff people who were very frustrated because of the age of their equipment and in one year reinvested so that now they have front-line computer equipment and they have training of the order of CAD/CAM. There was one school I went to in which they had a drafting course where they were still using T-squares and no computers. That has all been changed and, in fact, we are moving in a direction across the community college which is very positive.

The previous speaker talked about April and October. Those of us who are paying attention to this would have guessed something happened in between. We did have a four year plan; we had a plan to review all of the courses in the community college and we were two-thirds through. We had added about 35 new courses; we had removed approximately 76 old courses; we had changed about 200 sections of courses in one year and a little bit, and we were well on the way, as the honourable member mentioned. We were re-equipping the AVTC building and modernizing it - it needed to be modernized - and we were doing that when, all of a sudden, we were informed that the transfers government to government were to stop. Now, we could have done two things, but again, the students in our community colleges are facing a real world, so we are not going to pretend for them, because when you have less money - my Dad had this wonderful saying - if you don't have any money, don't spend. I follow that exactly, Madam Speaker. I had less money, so we sat with our staff and we examined the whole community college system.

We have the honourable member here who has some kind of sense that you can reach into Health or you can charge more taxes or get more money some magical sort of way, and I am sure when you are sitting in that place - where they will probably sit for a long time because of this - they fail to recognize that we got into the mess we are in because every time we came into a situation, we borrowed.

The young people of this province, and many of them students in our community college, are labouring under a debt because that mentality kept forth, let's postpone the decisions and maybe it will work out okay some time down the road, if we are just stay calm and don't tell anybody. We announced very clearly, we lost 20 per cent of our money and, therefore, we had to do something.

The previous speaker said, well, you lost $8.6 million, so you should have cut exactly to there. Well, let's suppose what are we going to do there, Madam Speaker. We can't even move the equipment across the street because we have no money. We can't re-establish programs any place else because we have no money. So, what we did is we cut back and then we are going to build forward. We are basically going to re-establish the community college programs in new places, that is what we are going to do. (Interruption)

The honourable member had his opportunity to speak and he did that. He has great difficulty with this because it rings true, because he does this at home. In fact, if he has less money, he doesn't spend - hopefully, anyway, otherwise he is going to be in great difficulties - likewise, what we are doing, Madam Speaker, is we are focusing on students because that is what the business and the community college is about.

I am going to give you a concrete example. Every morning I sit at my computer and check my E-mail because, since we have been there, we have established E-mail throughout the Department of Education and connected ourselves to all of the community colleges so our students can understand the new networks that exist. About a week and one-half ago, on my E-mail came a very frustrated note from one of the students, which I responded to right away, by the way, and answered her questions; she listed for me two questions. Within a week I had two more people asking questions and I keep answering them because I am pleased to do that.

He suggested that the only way students can see me is to come to the House. Requests to my office, we entertain all the time; any request to meet with me, I know of no case that I have refused because I am pleased to answer the questions.

If I might, Madam Speaker, and this is a very important consideration, we could have done several things; let's examine the possibilities. We could have kept all of these buildings open and allowed them to get worse and worse because we have no money. We could have done that. We could have, as I said, borrowed money, and that would have made our students worse off than they were before. I am just going to show you the amount of money.

We have revenues of $4 billion; $1 billion of that goes towards debt. I will show you how big that is. Madam Speaker, if we had that $1 billion back that these guys spent on us, we could get rid of sales tax altogether in Nova Scotia. We could get rid of personal income tax in Nova Scotia, or we could double the Education budget. But they spent the money because rather than face difficult decisions, what they did is pretended, they passed them forward to our young people. That is what they did. They mortgaged our future. They didn't fix the community colleges; they allowed the equipment to get worse and worse, so they were pretending to be training people.

We are not pretending. In fact, our challenge is this, and the honourable member even in his resolution is correct; the graduates of our community college, 75 per cent to 80 per cent of them are getting work. Okay, Madam Speaker, because that is what we are doing. Our test is, and we are saying to the students that when you enter our programs we are going to tell you what we are going to try to do, aiming you towards work, and we are going to be disappointed if that does not happen. That is our concern.

We are committing ourselves, Madam Speaker, to telling those students when they come to our campus that we are going to do that. Therefore, we have to make difficult decisions. By the way, when they go into the world they are going to have to make difficult decisions. We are not pretending to them; there are serious realities in Nova Scotia, not because of anything other than there are serious realities in Nova Scotia. Likewise, there are across Canada.

When we were told we had $8.6 million less, we sat down and planned again. So our announcement in October was a consequence of planning through, looking at facilities. Then what we did, Madam Speaker, and the honourable member is talking about what program changes, we are sitting down with our faculty because they know what is happening at each of the campuses and we are talking to them. We are talking to the students there to find out what the needs are. We have a 1-800 number; if they don't want to talk to the fax, they can talk to us. So we have that as well.

Madam Speaker, what we need to do for the future, and this is very important for our community college students, and they are adults, the average age of the students in our community college is 26 years old. Each and every campus we have is an adult education institution, built for adults.

I was at one, by the way, when I started, only two years ago, Madam Speaker, not a long time ago, they had 22 bells. These adults before they could go to the library, they had to have a supervisor to take them to the library. They were not allowed to go down to the gym to shoot baskets unless there was a supervisor with them - 22 bells per day, in the community college that those guys left for us. We removed the bells because we know these are adults. We are treating them like adults, we are educating with them because we are learning as well. What they are discovering I think, Madam Speaker, is that in fact the community college itself is learning. It is developing programs, it is attempting new things, it is expanding its horizons. If something doesn't work, they back up and they work again because they are learning.

Our students, we can teach them nothing better than how to deal with the crisis that we have in Nova Scotia and Canada because there is a crisis. We can pretend, Madam Speaker, but that is not fair to them. We can borrow from their future but that is not fair to them. We could mislead them and say, well, we are going to blame somebody and we are going to say it is that guy but it is not. Nova Scotians and Canadians lived beyond their means for a long time and we owe our young people an apology for that and anybody who meets them should apologize to them because we got our benefits by borrowing from them. We owe them two things; we owe them hope, and our community college is doing that, and secondly, we owe that we pay our own bills. If we have $8.6 million less, we will spend less because we are not going to postpone our debts to our young people.

The honourable member who spoke previously, because they haven't got responsibility and they can pretend that there is a bag of money some place so that somehow someone can reach into it and magically make it appear. It works in Disneyland, it works in the cartoons but in real life we have to pay our bills. Thank you, Madam Speaker. (Applause)

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Citadel.

MR. TERENCE DONAHOE: Madam Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity to offer a few remarks in relation to Resolution No. 506. Resolution No. 506, Madam Speaker, as I am sure you will be aware from a reading of it, reads that:

"Therefore be it resolved that the Education Minister should meet Dartmouth AVTC students as soon as possible and address their many concerns and questions, starting with his reasons for shutting down one of his department's success stories.".

Well, the resolution asks to meet with the students as soon as possible. I think it speaks volumes of the general approach taken by this particular minister, Madam Speaker, when I think back to the little exchange that took place here and the words that he uttered earlier in the day. The minister, if you can believe it, patted himself on the back and he had his big supercilious smile on his face when he said something to the effect that upon seeing the students up in the gallery, I sent them a note to let them know that I would get together with them.

[4:30 p.m.]

Well, all I can say and I am sure their reaction was, big deal. Where was the minister when it came time to speak to them many days ago when he was having press conferences speaking to the community at large, talking about them and their future and leaving them in a state of uncertainty? He had no intention of having a meeting with the students of the Dartmouth Adult Vocational Training Centre. If they had not come here to the House this afternoon, he would have never been anywhere close to chatting with them. Just as he finished now with his diatribe, he talks about consultation and E-mail and all of that.

You know, Madam Speaker, and I know perfectly well, if it had not been for the fact that those students, mature adults, took the time and the trouble to communicate with the two Opposition Parties because they got nowhere when trying to communicate with the government and came to this place today and asked the Opposition Parties to raise their concerns for them, it was at that point that the Minister of Education said, gee. Well, maybe I could be the big helpful Minister of Education and I could meet with them. It is only on that account that he would meet with them.

You know, Madam Speaker, in making the announcement to close five community colleges back some three or four weeks ago, he had three or four weeks in order to arrange an opportunity. He could have picked up his phone. He could have used his E-mail. He could have borrowed a couple of bridge tokens, I am sure. He could have gotten himself to Dartmouth. He could have been there to talk to the students and the faculty at Dartmouth Adult Vocational Training Centre and describe to them, as they had hoped he would, at least a senior official of their department would. Where in the world are we now, now that you are telling us that our institution is being closed.

This minister's theme from the first moment he assumed his current responsibilities has seemed to be and his line has seemed to be, students must be the priority. Well, the decision that he has taken relative to the Dartmouth Adult Vocational Training Centre directly impacts upon 305 adult students in that vocational training centre. He did not have their welfare or their concern as a priority, I suggest to you. There are programs in that training centre which are one of a kind programs. This is the only centre in Nova Scotia at which they are offered. And in those, the employment rate of the successful completers of those programs is 90 per cent, 90 per cent of those who successfully complete those programs are employed in the Nova Scotian economy.

I said earlier in Question Period and I repeat here again, this institution has done successfully exactly what he talked about was going on down in Yarmouth. He used a Yarmouth example. I thought we were debating a resolution that talked about the Dartmouth Adult Vocational Training Centre. The minister waxes eloquent about what went on in Yarmouth. Well, I am delighted that what went on in Yarmouth went on and is successful. But the minister completely ignores the fact that the very same kind of activity has been successfully undertaken by the faculty and the student population at the Dartmouth Adult Vocational Training Centre and, in the last two years, that institution has sold $1 million worth of training. The very kind of thing that he is suggesting is one of the priorities. Yet, that is one of the institutions which, for some reason, yet unexplained, is going to be shut down. So, I have to take serious question that the minister has done any serious analysis of the value and the impact of the activities of the Dartmouth Vocational Training Centre.

You know, it is a fact that the community college in the Strait has been closed and the student population is to be shifted to the Nautical Institute. The minister thought it was important enough to spend $30,000 of your dollars and mine, the taxpayers' dollars, Madam Speaker, to have a consultant do a study as to whether or not that should be done. There was not 5 cents of consultant's study or anybody else's study that I have been able to be made aware of, that preceded the precipitous decision taken by this minister to simply announce at his press conference downstairs a few weeks ago, Dartmouth AVTC is closing and we will figure it all out later. Well, I have some serious questions as to how much the "students must be the priority" was in his mind.

In addition, and the Leader of the New Democratic Party has already made reference to this, we have some very confusing rhetoric already out of this minister. In addition he says, when he made his announcement about the fact - well, to go back a step - in April, there were going to be 500 new places in the community college system. Now, the minister some three weeks or so ago, has a press conference, cuts the legs out from under Dartmouth AVTC and says a couple of other very threatening things. There are going to be 150 teaching places lost in the community college system, and even more threatening, if I may say so, there will be a loss of 800 training places in the community college system.

So what security or what comfort is available to any of those who are our guests in the gallery today, who I am sure are having a fine time with the Minister of Education in conversation up there now, as I speak here, what comfort is available to them when they realize that their place is having the legs cut out from under it, 800 places are being taken out of the community college system for next year and 150 teaching places are being taken out. Nobody has come to them to talk to them about what their circumstances and what their futures actually are.

This minister - I have heard him here and we all have heard him here - likes to talk about lifelong learning. Well this Dartmouth AVTC, Adult Vocational Training Centre, is a model of lifelong learning. I can demonstrate that to you by reference to a table which shows, and again the Leader of the New Democratic Party made mention of this, the mean student age at this institution is 31.4 years. These aren't kids, these aren't babies, these are mature men and women, many of them married with families and family responsibilities, rent to pay, mortgages to pay and so on, and 58 per cent of the student population is 31 years or older. In fact, if I may just quickly, there is a student at the centre 57 years of age. There are three at 52 years of age; two students are 49 years of age; three students are 47 years of age; and three at 48 years of age. These are mature adult Nova Scotians who are attempting to clothe themselves with some training and some skills which will enable them to be gainfully employed in the Nova Scotia economy and provide for themselves and their families. I suggest, Madam Speaker, that this minister has frankly just dismissed them out of hand.

These students have asked this minister a number of questions and to my knowledge, he hasn't come within a mile of even acknowledging any responsibility to answer the questions let along attempting an answer. What will happen to the programs that are only available at the Dartmouth Adult Vocational Training Centre? The students there, are owed an answer by this minister to that question. What will happen to the instructors? Will they be allowed to transfer with their programs or are they perhaps among the 150 teaching positions which are going to be cut? They don't know that. Imagine what it must be like for those instructors at the Dartmouth AVTC to go from three weeks ago or so when the announcement came to the end of the school year, not knowing whether they are on the minister's 150 hit list. Imagine the vigour, the verve and the vitality with which they will pursue their responsibilities over the remaining months until the end of the year. They are scared to death. This minister owes them an obligation to tell them and tell them immediately where they fit in the scheme of things.

What will happen to that quality of instruction as this year unfolds? They are uncertain and the student population is scared to death. The minister, I suggest to you, Madam Speaker, should heed and heed carefully, the warning which appeared in The Daily News editorial of October 24th, and I have that here somewhere and would like to make a very brief reference to it. I know I am consuming additional of your time, Madam Speaker, but I wanted to make reference to it. That editorial comment, among other things, said this - Daily News, October 24, 1995 - "Bad news for Nova Scotia Community College students and teachers was released Friday - the preferred day for a government hoping weekend reporting will bring less attention.". It probably was exactly that motivation to have it on a Friday. "But it left an air of confusion.", says the editorial. "If there are five fewer campuses (out of 19) and 100 fewer teachers and 50 other college employees as of next fall, how does this give top priority to students?".

This is The Daily News editorial. This is not Terry Donahoe or an Opposition politician. This is the media taking a look at what this Minister of Education is doing as he is ripping apart some elements of the community college system.

"That was Education Minister John MacEachern's contention in making the unhappy decision to meet federal transfer cutbacks by saving $8.6 million in college costs over three years. There are more full-time students at these campuses than last year, and for many it is valuable training or re-training in a tough job market. About 800 fewer spaces will be available, though not all campuses are at their capacity. With 300 extra students this year alone, for a total of 6,476, it won't be long before that capacity will be tested. With fewer instructors, it is a puzzle how program quality is to be maintained.".

The editorial article concludes, "That said, the total savings in Mr. MacEachern's plan are modest, even over three years set against the potential damage to vocational education.". That is the issue and that is the substance of the resolution, the damage to the vocational training that will be available in this province.

The minister said in his contribution to this debate on this resolution - well he said virtually nothing, but among a few little scribbles I did make - he said we are interested in front-line training. Well, I want to ask this minister, and I hope that he has an answer more to the point for the faculty and the students of the institution than for me, but I would love to have the answer from him. He wants front-line training. I want to ask him, what is more front-line training than the delivery of programs, successfully, by men and women to adult students resulting in a 90 per cent employment rate? How more front-line training can you get than that? These are in areas of aircraft technician, in sales and marketing, in word information processing, and in programs which are relevant to today's Nova Scotian economy and the graduates of those programs realizing employment rates of 90 per cent.

It is a fact, as well, that the majority of these programs are work experience programs, and I have for a very long time - and I think the Minister of Supply and Services might well endorse this view also - I have for a long time believed that co-op education and work experience education is very much the way to go to the extent that we can employ and engage the private sector in that enterprise. This institution has a remarkable record in the area of work experience programming and work experience opportunities and if this minister will talk to the student population, the student body over there and the faculty, he will find out that they have been engaged in exactly that kind of an approach.

I repeat, it was worth $30,000 of study in the Strait area to find that the old vocational school in the Strait was ramshackled and beat up, as the report apparently indicated to this minister, so he had to move some programming out of there. But to this minister it was not worth a nickel, it was not worth a nickel to have a consultant or anybody independent of himself making his judgment, on whatever basis he made it, take a look at the situation at the Dartmouth adult vocational training centre and make the decision to summarily dismiss the institution and close it down.

I know my time is up. I ask the minister to read the resolution which we have debated here this afternoon, because the resolution asks that minister to meet the AVTC students, and that means all those students, ". . . as soon as possible and address their many concerns and questions . . .".

[4:45 p.m.]

It also goes on and I invite him to read this line as well . . .

MADAM SPEAKER: Thank you. The member's time is up.

MR. DONAHOE: . . . ". . . starting with his reasons for shutting down one of his department's success stories.". I sincerely hope he will find a way and the justification to change his mind, to ensure that the opportunity for 305 students is not destroyed. Thank you, Madam Speaker.

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

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Madam Speaker, would you please call Resolution No. 462.

Res. No. 462, re NSP/MT&T-Jobs (C.B.) Increase: Workers/Community - Discuss - notice given Oct. 31/95 - (Mr. R. Chisholm)

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Madam Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity to discuss for a few moments here in the House this afternoon the resolution introduced back on October 31st., which raised some questions and concerns about what the government is doing relative to job creation in Cape Breton. The resolution touches on a couple of things that I have had the opportunity to raise in this House, as have my colleagues in the NDP caucus, on a number of occasions since this government was elected in the spring of 1993, the first point being the whole issue of decentralizing government jobs to Cape Breton. That was a campaign promise of the Savage Liberals when they were running for election back in the spring of 1993, they pledged to the people of Cape Breton that if elected, they would see jobs in the public sector, where they made appropriate sense, moving to Cape Breton and its various communities.

Madam Speaker, it has been an issue that has been dealt with by a number of jurisdictions across this country, the whole question of moving government jobs, decentralizing government jobs, into areas that need a stronger base, in terms of full-time jobs, that are dependable and that have good incomes. It is something that was discussed at some length, prior to the last election some considerable commitments were made on behalf of the Liberal Party.

What I have attempted to do, as some of my colleagues have and as many thousands of people in Cape Breton have attempted to do ever since this government was elected is to try to encourage them to come forward and fulfil the promises they made during that election.

Madam Speaker, there were a couple of different occasions where the Minister of Finance, the Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency, the Minister of Education, were quoted in the newspapers as having made commitments to decentralizing jobs not only to Amherst but also to Sydney and that it was just a matter of time before they implemented a policy. They were going to meet and discuss this with the union representing government employees in this province and they were going to put some action to that.

Well, Madam Speaker, you may be aware of the fact that we and others continue to press this government to come clean with those plans. What we found, unfortunately, was that they had no plan. The Premier said here in this House on a couple of different occasions that they wouldn't be going forward, they had no plan, they had no strategy with respect to decentralizing jobs to Cape Breton or to any other part of the Province of Nova Scotia. Therefore, at this time, and he said that right up until recently, they would not be proceeding.

Madam Speaker, we also got the same indication from the Minister of Finance but the Minister of Finance indicated at various times that, in fact, what would be happening is there would be a private sector decentralization going on, that jobs would be moving to Cape Breton and to rural areas where unemployment was the highest and that his commitment to Cape Bretoners and to other people in Nova Scotia was that he and his government would participate in seeing that actually happen.

Well, his words were revisited, Madam Speaker, when a few weeks ago both Nova Scotia Power and MT&T announced the closure of outlets, of stores and the layoffs of people delivering various services on behalf of their corporations in Cape Breton.

In Cape Breton, I believe, there were five different Nova Scotia Power operations that were shut down in communities around that region. As far as Maritime Tel & Tel is concerned, there are a number of services that they normally provided within those communities that they no longer will be doing. We are talking about at least, in some cases, a couple of hundred employees that will no longer be working in Cape Breton for Maritime Tel & Tel and Nova Scotia Power. The people in those communities are asking, I think, a fairly legitimate question and that question is, what is this government doing about trying to manage things like job creation and job stability not only in Cape Breton but in the rest of the province?

You will recall that not only did they make commitments in the election about decentralizing jobs but most importantly they made commitments about creating jobs. I think it was somewhere in the range of 57,000 to 61,000 jobs and what we are seeing, unfortunately, is that not only has there been a real failure by this government to create jobs, or by the private sector which was going to pick up the slack, but there has also been a scary trend developing in this province and that is the loss of full-time jobs at the same time we are getting an increase in part-time jobs. In other words, the percentage of jobs full-time versus part-time is shifting quite considerably in the Province of Nova Scotia since this government took over. That represents lower wages, it represents a lack of job security, it represents a loss of benefits, it represents a loss of economic base in many of the communities throughout this province.

We have the minister, the Premier and others talking about meeting with the heads of Nova Scotia Power and Maritime Tel & Tel and other corporate giants throughout this province to talk about economic policy at various times and to bring them together to help contribute to the G-7 and other kinds of projects around this province. They are certainly there, Maritime Tel & Tel, for example, when it comes to this government handing out contracts for developing the information highway infrastructure in the Province of Nova Scotia. But why is this government apparently unable to assist Nova Scotia and Nova Scotians in dealing with the effects of this economy by working through these major corporations with the communities and with the unions and with the employees of these corporations to try to come up with strategies that would assist them in maintaining and creating jobs, instead of destroying jobs?

I know that this government is now and has been talking for some time about the fact that they need to deal with the deficit. Let me tell you, people I talked with today in Sydney, who had been away from that community for some time and had just recently returned, can't get over the change, can't get over the fact that in many parts of Cape Breton, the infrastructure is seriously deteriorating. The levels of unemployment in many of those communities continues to go up. The despair in many of those communities in terms of the lack of commitment this government has toward the coal industry, toward fishing, toward the steel plant, toward trying to keep jobs that supposedly are being shifted to Halifax by Nova Scotia Power and Maritime Tel & Tel in those communities.

People want to know what this government is doing and why it is unable to deal with the problems that are being generated in the Province of Nova Scotia and in the region of Cape Breton as a result of the continuing recession. Why is it that they are unable to deal with these corporations who are continuing to downsize and create further hardship in this province because of the fact that it is combining with that similar policy of downsizing by the government? That is the question that is being asked in this resolution and I look forward to listening to the Minister of Finance.

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Finance.

HON. BERNARD BOUDREAU: Madam Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity afforded by the honourable member, the last speaker, to rise in this debate and offer just a few comments.

Madam Speaker, it is a bit of a disappointment to hear the comments of the honourable member. It gives one pause to reflect that perhaps somewhere in the last 30 to 50 years the world changed and the NDP missed it.

You know, probably now, for at least for the last two years that we have been in office, this debate has come up from time to time, and I want to make a few general comments before I address, specifically, the resolution. In those occasions when it came up, we challenged the NDP, and specifically the honourable member who last spoke to bring forward in a new positive way suggestions for employment creation, suggestions that would, he believes, give us some small solutions to the problems that all of us are aware of. No one denies the problem of high unemployment in Nova Scotia, particularly in certain areas, particularly in Cape Breton. I will not stand here and deny that to you, Madam Speaker, it is a serious problem, but I think I have waited for two years for a single suggestion from that Party as to something that could be done and I am yet to hear the first solution.

I recognize, Madam Speaker, that in the old days, 30 years ago, a Party such as that would be interested only in opposition, only in seeking opportunities out of other people's misery to make political advantage. Some Parties have not changed. I am suggesting to this honourable member and to his Party that they change their approach, that they become a little more positive and offer some solutions. As a matter of fact, I will make an offer. If the honourable member wants to offer solutions for Cape Breton or for the province, generally, I will certainly have those solutions investigated, reviewed by the Department of Finance staff, and I will provide them with the results of that review free of charge to him. Just come with a solution, even one, even a little one. Not even one a month, not even one a year, just one in this term, from start to finish, one suggested solution.

Let me talk about our record, and I am not afraid for a moment, Madam Speaker, to talk about our record in employment. Since August 1995 in just one month to the end of September, 3,000 Nova Scotians gained employment, 3,000 additional Nova Scotians gained employment. (Applause) In just one year, since September 1994, 8,000 Nova Scotians have gained employment.

In September 1995, the unemployment rate in Nova Scotia was 11 per cent which was 1.7 per cent lower than it was one year earlier. These are not our statistics. These are not statistics put out by the provincial Government of Nova Scotia. These are Statistic Canada's statistics and they show, quite clearly, that great significant progress has been made in Nova Scotia manufacturing shipments.

In August 1995, we were 12.2 per cent higher than August 1994. For the period January to August 1995, shipments were 9.4 per cent higher than the same period the previous year. In the first six months of 1995, Mr. Speaker, Nova Scotia foreign exports of goods increased by 10.2 per cent over the same period the previous year. Wood pulp was up 101.3 per cent, paper 26.5 per cent, transportation and equipment 129.9 per cent and tires 16.4 per cent.

The honourable members says, yeah, but what about Cape Breton County. Because his resolution did refer specifically to Cape Breton County. I know that in the Opposition benches now sits a member from Cape Breton County. He is a new member, and I hope he will not fall into the trap of the New Democratic Party and simply stand back from a distance and complain. I hope that when he rises, if indeed he is going to rise in this debate and I am sure he will because he is interested in Cape Breton, that he will come up with very positive specific solutions to propose. I will offer him, Mr. Speaker, the same offer I made to the previous speaker in terms of the facilities of the Department of Finance to investigate any solution that he might propose.

In Cape Breton County when we took office, 25 per cent unemployment rate. Hard to believe, 25 per cent. The unemployment rate, most recently 18.8 per cent. That is no great shakes. I have got to tell you, Mr. Speaker, that is no great shakes. That is 18.8 per cent. Not very good. It is still a very serious problem. But, I will tell you, there are a lot of people working to get from 25 per cent to 18.8 per cent.

[5:00 p.m.]

Let's talk about the specifics because they are going to ask about specifics in Cape Breton. Let's talk about new industries, new employment opportunities. Systemhouse, over 100 people working now at that operation in Cape Breton. That is a new industry brought to Cape Breton by this government. And, yes, Mr. Speaker, the casino. Over 300 families in Cape Breton are with a regular paycheque because of that industry, without one cent of investment, I might add, of public money.

Maybe since the next speaker will probably be a member from Cape Breton on the Opposition benches, and that kind of narrows it down, maybe he will harken back to the last two years, for example, by way of comparison, the last two years of the former government, and indicate any two industries that came to town and created over 400 new jobs. I do not recall them. Now, he may recall them, but I do not. But I will tell you, those industries are there now, Mr. Speaker, and people are working.

What about our record with existing industries? Sysco, 700 people are employed there. When we came to office, they had run up a debt of $200 million, new money, completely out of their operating line of capital and the former government had not one idea of how they were going to keep them open. As a matter of fact, they said no more money. They had no money for them. They had no plan. Their only plan, if you will recall, was to sell the tar ponds to the provincial government. Remember that? We bought the tar ponds from Sysco. That was their idea of a plan. Well, that money went just out the window like that. No money, no plan, no future for Sysco.

Let me do the comparison right now, Mr. Speaker. There are 700 people working in relationship with a private sector company that offers, for the first time in decades, the opportunity for a future there. (Applause) What about Stora? Stora was in crisis when we took office and suggestions were that the industry might not survive on Cape Breton Island. There are 800 people employed in the plant and another 800 are out in the woods. Who knows how many are in the spin-off industries. In crisis, we solved that problem. We stepped in. Now the industry is healthy. Now it is growing. Now it is expanding.

I am running out of time, Mr. Speaker, but I am not running out of material. There are 120 teachers working because of our early retirement program - 120 new jobs, high paying jobs, working in Cape Breton because of early retirement.

There was $50 million spent on the infrastructure program in Cape Breton County, employing approximately 1,000 people, putting 1,000 people to work in approximately $50 million worth of projects. That is more than a little success there.

Decentralization, they want to talk decentralization? Sure. One of the things we said was that some decentralization will not be done in the traditional sense. Sometimes we will be decentralizing private sector people who do public sector work. That is precisely what happened in the Systemhouse case. But there have been traditional decentralizations. One I am aware of is the Gaming Control Commission that now has opened an office in Sydney with approximately 20 people employed there. And there is more to come. Don't worry, Mr. Speaker, there is more to come, but I will stand on the record to date and debate it in any event with the record of previous governments. (Applause)

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

MR. ALFRED MACLEOD: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to join the debate on Resolution No. 462, as presented by the honourable member for Halifax Atlantic. You know, where I come from you don't have to go far before you come across people who are jobless and people who are hopeless and who have lost all sense of pride and self-esteem. It is everywhere in Cape Breton. As I look at the faces of the Liberal members from Cape Breton, I know they see it in their own communities, too, as the minister already related that there are 18 per cent unemployed on our Island.

It is human tragedy that is unfolding in my community. As each week and month passes I see more and more young people who have lost all hope in the future, in their ability to stay in their community and to find some kind of meaningful work. What makes it all the more tragic is that the people of Cape Breton West believed in 1993 that John Savage would make good on his promise of jobs, jobs, jobs. They believed when the former member for Cape Breton West said that there would be more jobs; they believed when the member for Cape Breton The Lakes said that they had a vision; they believed when the member for Cape Breton East said that they had a plan; and they believed when the member for Cape Breton South said that he knew how to make a difference. The fact that I am here today, Mr. Speaker, is a statement from the people of Cape Breton West how badly their faith and their belief in this government has been shattered.

I want to share with the members of this House the situation of a friend of mine by the name of Gil Jobe, he is from Grand Mira North. Gil Jobe's story is a story that is familiar to many people in my community and thousands of other people on Cape Breton Island. Gil Jobe is a 55 year old man, he is married and has three children. He has managed over the years, with his wife, to keep a roof over their heads and food on the table. It has not always been easy and they have managed, through determination, to stay afloat. Today, Mr. Speaker, Gil Jobe's determination is gone, it has left. His hope is gone, his opportunities are gone and when he last worked, in March of this year, after spending the past two years going after one short-term job to another, things disappeared for Mr. Jobe. His unemployment benefits will end and his future indeed looks grim. There are no jobs, there are no opportunities and there is no hope any more for a person like Gil Jobe any more.

A growing number of Cape Bretoners are facing the same plight. It is fine for this government to quote statistics but they don't tell the real story, Mr. Speaker, they don't get right down to the root of the problem. It is the people like Gil Jobe who are being hurt by the statements and the actions of this government. Numbers don't tell you about the human realities and the tragic circumstances of a person like Mr. Jobe. So when we talk about jobs and the lack of jobs, let's not forget that we are talking about real human beings, flesh and blood, and we are not talking about numbers. When we continue this debate, and as we talk on, let us always be mindful that it is real human beings who are being affected.

Mr. Speaker, this resolution suggests that this House urges Nova Scotia Power and Maritime Tel & Tel to discuss how to sustain and increase local jobs, rather than lose them through centralization. It would be very far-fetched for this government to tell anyone about sustaining and increasing jobs and decentralizing because this government has led the way in the opposite direction, gone in the completely opposite direction. Everything this government has done is a move that ends the jobs in Cape Breton.

The member for Cape Breton North, as Minister of Health, has put hundreds of jobs in jeopardy by implementing, what he calls, health reform. What Cape Bretoners understand is nothing but cuts in beds, cuts in the health care delivery and closure of hospitals. That, Mr. Speaker, is the real world.

It is this government that forged ahead with municipal amalgamation in Cape Breton, which has cost jobs and as each day passes it becomes more and more clear that the amalgamation has been so badly handled that any cost-savings that might have been achieved are quickly going down the tubes, Mr. Speaker, forcing taxpayers, again, with another shortfall. (Interruption)

AN HON. MEMBER: Don't you worry about Cape Breton, Manny.

MR. MACLEOD: The member for Cape Breton East, Mr. Speaker, as Minister of Education, is moving forward with his vision of what education is all about. I have had phone calls today from many many teachers in Cape Breton who do not know what his vision is and cannot get a handle on where this thing is going. Education should look different from what is being put forward by the honourable minister. That vision has fewer teachers in the classroom, less control of education and, once again, lots and lots of jobs that will disappear. In my own community, this government is again moving to remove jobs. They are going to close the Three Rivers Wildlife Park, and again jobs will be lost. Opportunities to create new jobs will be lost and there will be other people out of work, Mr. Speaker.

As far as decentralizing government to provide jobs to other areas of the province, such as Cape Breton is concerned, we only have to look at the good people of Amherst who were promised 75 government jobs that never materialized, . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: How many jobs was that?

MR. MACLEOD: Seventy-five jobs that never showed up in Amherst.

Before this House turns its attention to the actions of others, I believe that we have to look at this government's record on jobs and restoring the faith of Cape Bretoners, and all Nova Scotians, in our future. A future which, I believe, and my caucus believes that can and should be a good one for all Nova Scotians. Thank you, Mr. Speaker. (Applause)

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

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Resolution No. 242.

Res. No. 242, re Finance (HC Comm.) - Bill C-76 (Prov. Arrangements Changes): Hearings - Urge - Notice given May 2/95 - (Mr. R. Chisholm)

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

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I want to take an opportunity this afternoon to talk for a few moments about the effects of Bill C-76, the bill which will change how funding will be delivered throughout this country to Health, Social Services and Education.

Mr. Speaker, the CHST is known as the Canada Health and Social Transfers and it represents a reduction to the provinces to the tune of $7 billion. To this province, it represents a reduction of approximately $328 million over the next three years, money that will be going to provide health care, post-secondary education and social services. That is a significant cut in a province that probably 37 per cent of our budget comes from federal transfers. It represents about 16 per cent of the monies that pays for our health, education and social services in the Province of Nova Scotia.

If we think that we have experienced significant change in our health care system in this province in education and social services, Mr. Speaker, we are just seeing the tip of the iceburg because the changes that are coming down, not only in terms of the amount of money that is going to be transferred, but also in the way that it is going to be transferred is extremely significant, and that perhaps is the biggest part of the concern that I have and that my caucus has about the fact that we have not debated this issue.

There are many people in this province that are concerned about what is being proposed and what was initially presented in federal Finance Minister Paul Martin's budget, back in February of this year.

[5:15 p.m.]

The fact that we are going to no longer have a universal standard for health care delivery in this country, Mr. Speaker, is extremely significant. The fact that no longer will it be against the law, basically, to provide social assistance to people in need; that no longer will be a standard that the federal government can keep and no longer, under social services, will there be any access to appeal for those people who have been rejected.

In post-secondary education, Mr. Speaker, in the Province of Nova Scotia, we continue to have the highest tuition costs in the country and it is being proposed that those tuition costs will continue to escalate and continue to limit access to education in this province, something that is so vitally important.

We have already begun to see the effects of this reduction in transfers to the provinces. The Minister of Education, when he announced the closure of some 800 spaces for students in the community college system, blamed it on the need for us to prepare for the reduction in federal transfers to the Province of Nova Scotia, Mr. Speaker.

What have we heard from this province? What have we heard from ministers opposite? What have we heard from the Premier with respect to these significant and dramatic changes to the social programs in the country and in this province? Well, we have heard very little, Mr. Speaker. Of late, we are beginning to hear utterances from the Minister of Municipal Affairs, the Minister of Finance, the Minister of Education, the Minister of Health, the Minister of Community Services and others, as they begin to explain further cutbacks in their programs, the reduction in the budgets of their department and the inability of their departments to deliver services at a level that is expected by Nova Scotians. We are beginning to see these ministers explain that we have to prepare ourselves because the federal government has decided to send us $328 million less over the next three years.

In fact, in Bridgewater, a few weeks ago, Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Finance basically said that we are going to have to start accommodating that in the budget in the spring. He is talking about reductions to the Province of Nova Scotia to the tune of $300 million to $400 million. Well, I suggest that not only are we going to have to adapt, not only are we going to be experiencing less money in this province, as we have been dealing with over the past two and one-half years since this government was elected, but fundamentally there are extraordinary changes to the social programs and to the way we are going to be able to deliver education and health care in this province.

I believe, as does my caucus colleague, we agree with the fact that Nova Scotians, the ones that we talked to, the ones that are beginning to learn what is being proposed by the federal government, are saying, why are we not talking about this as a province? Why is it that Ministers of the Crown, including the Premier, are sitting somewhere else behind closed doors and having some discussion among themselves about where the cuts are going to come, about how the services are going to be changed, about how the services are going to be reduced.

People in Nova Scotia, Mr. Speaker, I think, deserve to participate in that debate, deserve to have an opportunity to talk about whether or not the choices for them are simply a question of the rates of return that the bond traders in Toronto and in the international finance community are going to receive. People need to participate in the debate about whether or not they are prepared to give up education, health services and social services in the Province of Nova Scotia that we will end up paying for big time in 10 years, 20 years or 30 years down the road. People are talking about costs to this province, costs to the population, to the citizens of this province that are much greater than the deficit costs that we hear this Minister of Finance and his colleagues talk about ad nauseam.

There needs to be a balance of dealing, not only with fiscal costs and with the fiscal realities, but also with the human costs and the human realities that are being faced by people from one end of this province to the other. We are discussing this issue publicly with Nova Scotians. We are trying to engage, we are not suggesting that we have all the answers to these questions, but we are saying two things. Number one, what is this province doing in terms of dealing with the federal government on this whole question of reducing the social programs by $7 billion and changing the total framework on how those programs will be administered federally? What is the provincial government doing in that area?

Secondly, we want, as Nova Scotians to participate with this government in the decisions on how it is that that reduced money is going to be divided up. We want to participate in the decisions on how it is that those programs are going to be affected. Are health, education and social services going to divide up that $328 million less money that is coming down in the same percentage that has existed historically? Is education going to get more of that money or social services or health? These are important questions.

We have heard the member for Cape Breton West talk about the reduction in industrial Cape Breton of $11 million from the budget in the hospitals in that particular region and the effect that is having on people in the community. The fact is that all the while thousands of beds are being taken out of the system, they are not seeing an equivalent increase in programs in the community to deal with their health care problems. On top of that they are beginning to recognize what the federal government is proposing in these budget changes in this $7 billion reduction in the monies that are going to be delivered to the provinces. They are getting extremely concerned that this province is holding back, that they are not being up-front with Nova Scotians in order to try to tackle the problem.

No one suggests that it is going to be easy. People just want to have the opportunity to discuss this issue, to debate with Cabinet Ministers, with their caucus colleagues, with all members of this House and with other people in the community about what the solutions are before the government comes out and makes announcements like the Minister of Education did to shut down five community colleges. Let us have that debate, is what we are asking. Let us have that debate in the Province of Nova Scotia before any more irrevocable changes are made. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Community Services.

HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I thank you for the opportunity to speak to Resolution No. 242 today. I would certainly take issue with this resolution. I think it is naive, I think it is ill-founded and I think it is misinformed.

I would like to use my time today, which I noted started a little early to the allotted time, but I would like to speak of the need for reform and also the positive actions that not only our Department of Community Services, but that our government has been taking and address the issues that was brought forward highlighted within this resolution.

I welcome the opportunity to speak to the House on this issue because it is clear that there are many misconceptions around the Canada Health and Social Transfer. It is true that the Canada Assistance Plan, which was introduced in 1966 and not after the Second World War as the resolution seems to indicate, was designed to combat poverty and to build equitable social infrastructure for Canadians.

In Nova Scotia the introduction of CAP resulted in an immediate and a very dramatic growth in modern social programs. Today, CAP is providing over $250 million toward the expenditures of the Department of Community Services. Planning to adjust for our share of the projected $330 million shortfall, which will result over the next three years from the creation of the CHST is a challenge that we are currently addressing with vigour, not only within our department but within our departments and with the government in a coordinated method and initiative.

We ought never to forget that as a vehicle for effecting profound social change, the Canada Assistance Plan has definitely outlived its usefulness. I would point out first that it is based on assumptions about Canadian families and our Canadian social structure which are now outdated. It is rigid, inflexible and the rules have all too often forced clients to remain captives of the dependency culture. It has enforced arbitrary rules about the funding of social programs which have resulted in many worthy services and programs, in fact, being declared ineligible for cost-sharing. I would use one that is close to my experience, the Boys and Girls Clubs of Canada, for instance, or any programs that may have been interpreted as having a health slant. I think that this has been a real problem with the CAP funding and it has pointed out the need for change.

Fourthly, I would say, it has made it very difficult for Health, Education and Community Services to develop integrated programs for clients as CAP dollars have never been able to be pooled into broad program initiatives. We have done this in Cape Breton with some difficulty, but we have a model developed. For instance, we address adolescent services with Education, Justice, Health and Community Services working together, but it has been meaning to be innovative within the rules under the current system.

Fifthly, Mr. Speaker, most significantly, the seemingly eternal availability of "50 cent CAP dollars" has lulled every jurisdiction into believing that there was no need to fundamentally re-examine the way in which we do business. We have, as one social policy analyst has commented, been imprisoned by the golden shackles. So it has been a blessing in one way but in many others, it has been very restrictive. There is some feeling, I think, in many jurisdictions that if you are only spending 50 cent dollars, it really didn't matter and I think there has been a real lack of accountability and evaluation certainly in many of the programs.

So, Mr. Speaker, the reform of the Canadian Assistance Plan was clearly long overdue. Although there is still much uncertainty about how the negotiations around the CHST will unfold, there is no provincial jurisdiction in the country that does not see the strategic value of moving ahead with the type of comprehensive reform of social programs which the new system will allow. There is much work to be done in getting on with the business of restructuring and integrating social programs which cut across Health, Community Services and Education sectors.

As provinces, we must seek to find some common solutions and then to press our federal counterparts to negotiate and plan with us how the changes caused by the CHST will be integrated with proposed changes in unemployment insurance, social security programs, Canada Pension Plan and the human resources investment fund. This is the objective that the Canadian Premiers adopted in Newfoundland this summer and it is one which is being addressed by a variety of means.

Firstly, there is a national ministerial council which will be bringing forward to Premiers a plan for national principles on social programming. Number two, there is a provincial/territorial ministers' forum in both Health and Social Services which will collectively be providing the Premier's Council with input on social policy, vision and national standards. Nova Scotia, Mr. Speaker, is playing a key role in each of these initiatives. A provincial minister's committee is to support the Minister of Education who is representing Nova Scotia on a ministerial council. A senior officials working group is presently preparing background paper for the availability of data base which is really so important when you look at the alternatives to funding based on needs, capitation or function of programs.

The Atlantic working group committee on impact analysis which has already reported to the regional Premiers on the impact of proposed federal changes, Mr. Speaker, those are three; and the fourth, is the one that I have the pleasure in being part of, we are co-chairing with British Columbia within the provincial/territorial Ministers of Social Services project and we are drafting one of the major papers which will go forward to the Premiers within the next six weeks. Right across this country there is a coordinated effort and we have direct input and liaison with it. I would say that our department and other departments such as Finance and Education and Health have made really significant contributions at the national level as late as the last few days.

[5:30 p.m.]

Both within our own provincial system and within the wider forum of the provincial/territorial jurisdictions, the work done on the CHST and other social changes has done much to break down the vertical silos which have artificially existed between our departments. They have hampered the planning of efficient and effective programs for our citizens. In this context I question why some members believe that our attention should be diverted from the main issues, from the important business at hand and that they would press for what would be at best a symbolic opportunity for, quite frankly, media hype and political gamesmanship.

The CHST legislation has already been proclaimed. The clock is ticking toward the implementation date. We need to get on with the business and be proactive to rationalize these changes. We have a plan in Nova Scotia, our government has a plan, our departments have a plan and we are going to do just that. Thank you. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings West.

MR. GEORGE MOODY: Mr. Speaker, I was listening intently to the last speaker and I am just totally amazed that a minister would get up and say to this House that Bill C-76 has been proclaimed. That is not true. In actual fact I am told by the federal government it is to be proclaimed April 1, 1996. For the Minister of Community Services who is supposed to be informed about what is going on, to stand up in this Legislature and say, what is all this talk about, it has already been proclaimed - well, it has not been proclaimed and I am told by the federal government it is not to be proclaimed until April 1, 1996. So that does leave us some time to have some consultation.

The other aspect is the minister said, you don't understand. What we do understand is that Nova Scotia will receive $330 million less over the next four years, that is what we really understand. This government has to understand that it will have an effect on Nova Scotians. But this government doesn't want Nova Scotians to even know about it, they don't want to talk to the federal government about it and they don't want to allow Nova Scotians in any way to have any input on what will happen to the social network that is going to be, obviously, affected by $330 million less coming from Ottawa than we presently have.

I was amazed that this government said very little when this legislation was before the federal House, knowing full well that they, when doing budgets, would be affected and the person who needs health care, the person who needs some social assistance in that network, or education, would be affected by this piece of legislation. In actual fact, Bill C-76 affects Nova Scotians from Yarmouth to Sydney to Amherst. All over Nova Scotia, we will all be affected by Bill C-76. For this government to say, oh no, we can't talk to them, they are the federal government; even though we are affected, they are our Liberal friends in Ottawa, we have to keep quiet even though poor Nova Scotians are going to be affected on April 1, 1996, by this legislation.

Earlier today in the House I raised the issue about the Provincial Health Council and the work of the Provincial Health Council. Actually, I believe part of the reason the Provincial Health Council is being shut down is because they raised this very issue on Bill C-76, they had a number of concerns, but you cannot ruffle, talk about anything against the Minister of Health because then he is going to make you disappear because you might be saying something. The council said, it will mean a major loss to the funding for key social process. This was one of the concerns that the councils has raised. They said it would impair the provincial program reform efforts. There is no question in my mind that $330 million taken out of these programs is going to have an effect on how this government reforms health care. It is going to have an effect on how this government reforms education. It is going to have an effect on how this government reforms social service programs.

For this government to get up and say, nonchalantly, well there is really nothing to it and we do not want the people in this province involved. It is kind of amazing. We are going to have one service pitted against another. Is it going to be that this government is going to close down the Advisory Council on the Status of Women? Is it going to be that this government is going to close down the Human Rights Commission? What is it going to be? This government is going to start pitting one group against the other and they have already started and mainly because of these cuts that are coming out of Ottawa.

Well, Mr. Speaker, at least I had compassion. I cared about people. That is more than I can say about these people over there. I at least showed some compassion. This crowd does not show any compassion at all. They talk about compassion. I will tell you (Interruption)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, the member for Kings West has the floor.

MR. MOODY: Mr. Speaker, I can always tell when the truth is getting to them because they start yelling. I know the truth hurts.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. MOODY: Bill C-76 means, obviously, less financial security for the people in this province. It will reduce public accountability. It will make the enforcement of the national principles, when we talk about the Canada Health Act, with this kind of money taken out of the system, I am afraid we are in for a two-tiered health system.

I was amazed when I heard that Devco was hiring their own orthopaedic surgeons to do work on the workers and now, all of a sudden, what happens when people are on long waiting lists and cannot get in, Mr. Speaker. That to me, obviously, is a two-tiered system.

When it was suggested that this government deal with this issue of Bill C-76, they wrote a letter to the Minister of Finance. The Minister of Finance went on to say that because of the importance of this issue of Bill C-76, they were going to strike a committee to negotiate with the federal government. But what they said they would not do was allow the public, in any way, to become involved. In other words, Premier Savage said, trust me. I know what is best for all of you people out there in Nova Scotia. I am a doctor. I will just write the prescription. You follow me and once you do that, I do not need to consult.

Mr. Speaker, I am afraid that this bill is going to have more far-reaching effects then I think even I realize. I appreciated the fact that the Minister of Community of Services talked about reform and some changes. I don't disagree that probably the CAP program needed to be changed. I would not disagree with that. I would have liked to have seen the money come, yes. Maybe not under the CAP program, but I would have liked to have seen it come so this government could introduce innovative ways to get people off the system. I believe that that can only happen and reform can only happen if you have the money to make the reform happen.

All that this government has said is that they will not, in any way, take on Ottawa on this very issue. Because, Mr. Speaker, probably the three most important issues for any government and for this province are health care, education and the social services network. Once those programs are eroded and those people cannot be adequately looked after, then I think we are letting the people of this province down by not indicating to Ottawa that that kind of cut to a small province like Nova Scotia is going to have major effects on many of these people.

Mr. Speaker, I say that I hope before April 1, 1996, when this bill is to be proclaimed that this government will get off its butt and go to Ottawa and indicate to the federal government just what effect Bill C-76 will have on the people of this province. Thank you.

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

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I welcome the opportunity to stand and make a few comments in the brief time that I have on the excellent resolution that was introduced by my colleague, the member for Halifax Atlantic. As I begin, I am puzzled a little bit by the comments that were made by the Minister of Community Services.

The Minister of Community Services said that the resolution was naive, that it was ill-informed. He went on and, of course, he talked about some of the studies that have been done and maybe the minister would like to table those studies that he has done. He went on to suggest, Mr. Speaker, that what the member for Halifax Atlantic, something that would involve involving the people of the province of Nova Scotia in a discussion about the impact, about the cut-backs under the federal program to Nova Scotia, the devastating effects it will have.

The minister implied that that was a waste of time and we should not be going out and be wasting our time talking to the people of the Province of Nova Scotia about those programs and services that they need and deserve, Mr. Speaker. Instead we have to get on with the important things of making plans and taking action. I say that that, unfortunately, is an attitude that just extends through everything that this government is doing. It devalues the people of the Province of Nova Scotia and it is an insult to suggest that the people of this great province do not have some ideas and some attitudes to share.

What we have here before us is a government which is playing lemming. They are so intent on not ruffling the red feathers of their colleagues in Ottawa that they are not willing to even begin to try to challenge and object to the federal measures which we already see are starting to have a devastating impact on the people in the Province of Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, nobody from any side of this House has said that we do not recognize the need for reform or change. Nobody that I have heard; despite what the members of the government benches like to pretend, nobody has said that people are opposed to change. Change comes about - good constructive change - when you involve people, when you get the greatest variety of opinions and advice. People will buy into programs when they have been respected, when they have been listened to and when they have been provided a meaningful opportunity to help to design the system.

Mr. Speaker, when we take a look at what we consider Canada and we take a look at the things that the people in this country value, Nova Scotians are not so different from other Canadians. Nova Scotians value their freedom. Nova Scotians value, as do Canadians, something that makes us unique pretty well in most of the industrialized world and that is a Medicare system. We value high quality education and training programs and we value having a safe environment, safe both in the traditional sense that you talk about it being free from hazards in the environment, and also the social environment.

But what do we have? We have the number of unemployed going up and the number of families and children living in poverty increasing. That is not the Canadian vision. The way you solve the problems is not to penalize and to beat down those who have already been beaten down, the way to solve the problem is to provide realistic education and training opportunities, not eliminate 800 training seats. For those who have struggled very hard, like those at the Dartmouth AVTC program to be able to upgrade their skills, the way is to create employment, not to under-value people.

[5:45 p.m.]

There are those, and the Liberals have bought this just as the Mulroney team had bought it before and they are listening to a select elite group who are saying that it is our social programs that have caused a deficit in this country and they have not; in fact, by 1997, the percentage of our GNP that will be going on social programs - and that is prior, of course, to Medicare having been introduced - will be in the range as a percentage of what it was in the mid-1950's.

What has driven up our deficit has been the high interest rate policies of this country. If anybody doubts that, just track the rate of return on investments since 1980 and track the deficit in this country. Yet, those small elite who stand to benefit the most are saying, cut the programs, cut the transfers to the provinces. I would suggest that if Nova Scotians are to be well-served by the government in their province, the Government of John Savage and all members of his benches, the Minister of Finance, the Minister of Community Services, the Minister of Health will be exerting pressure on the federal government and that includes the MPs from Nova Scotia, all Liberal, to be effecting changes in Ottawa like getting rid of, and I am sure the Minister of Health would agree, the drug patent law which is driving up the cost of prescription drugs and is destroying the Pharmacare budget here in Nova Scotia.

Let us see them put pressure on the federal government to start to ensure that some of those $44 billion in uncollected taxes and deferred taxes from profitable corporations are being paid, so that Nova Scotians who need and deserve quality health care at a national standard will know that they, here, will also be able to receive those kinds of standards and that those young people who are trying to get an education will know that Nova Scotians do not accept the fact that tuition fees in universities here in Nova Scotia are the highest in the country.

We cannot tolerate these barriers to accessibility to post-secondary eduction in this province. This is not something that should be seen as a you and us, as a partisan political issue. We, surely, are big enough in this House to be willing to hold public hearings in the Province of Nova Scotia. Surely the Government of Nova Scotia would want to hear what Nova Scotians have to say, instead of just dismissing them as the Minister of Community Services seemed to do in his address. I do not like to think and, quite honestly, I do not want to believe that really is the minister's view. We all say some things sometimes that we really do not mean and I am sure the minister himself does not believe in that.

Mr. Speaker, there is no doubt we have a deficit and yes, there is no doubt that the federal government is going to be reducing transfers as they are planning at the present time to do. But we can resist that, and we can involve Nova Scotians in designing the kinds of programs that they want for Nova Scotia. Yes, I see the finger going up to indicate the amount of time that I have left, Mr. Speaker. Remember, and I will be cutting my comments or bringing them to a close as I wrap up, in the Province of Nova Scotia, not just on the government benches, we have many people with compassion. We have many people who have great ideas, who are quite prepared because of their vision for our province, their commitment to their fellow Nova Scotians and to mankind, to work together to try to come up with programs to meet those needs.

There isn't even enough time to want to get into the next point that I want to address, not nearly enough time, in the couple of seconds I have left, but I say in all sincerity then, as I close, to the Minister of Community Services, to the Minister of Health, to the Premier and to others on the government benches, please do not dismiss out of hand Nova Scotians as you appear to be doing. Hold some public consultations on the federal government's program plans and it may be surprising, not only may you learn something, but you might actually get some positive appreciation from the people of this province for at least respecting them and being willing to listen for a change. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants East. I think there is one minute left.

MR. ROBERT CARRUTHERS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Well, one minute will do because I just can't sit in my place on this resolution without rising to point out a couple of things. First of all, the whole problem we are facing with downsizing and government transfers from both the federal government and the provincial government, is because the previous government at the federal level and the previous government at this provincial level, never put their house in order. They never put their financial house in order and that is the problem we are facing. I am not defending the federal government but I am not going to condemn them either when they tried to put their financial house in order. We are going to work with them. I have a good relationship with my MP. We discuss these matters, it has an effect on the people of East Hants and we are going to work together to handle them. Sure, there is some downsizing, we are going to have to explain that. But if the previous government had watched their own house, none of us would be in this position, be it at the provincial level or the federal level. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The time allotted for the debate has expired.

The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I am quite willing to give up the remaining six and one-half minutes to the Government House Leader for business he may want to do, or he could decide to move on to late debate. I will leave that up to him.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RICHARD MANN: I wonder how many other bills we could get through in the seven minutes.

Mr. Speaker, no, we won't call Government Business but perhaps with the unanimous consent of the House, I could ask that the resolution that I introduced this afternoon on Rules and Forms of Procedures, that with the unanimous consent of the House that we could pass that resolution and have it dispensed with.

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

It is agreed.


MR. SPEAKER: The Government House Leader can read it.


Res. No. 531, re Rules of House (Amendment) - notice given Nov. 8/95 - (Hon. R. Mann)

MR. SPEAKER: The Government House Leader.

HON. RICHARD MANN: Mr. Speaker, the changes in the rules would be:

1. Paragraph 60 (5C) of the Rules and Forms of Procedure of the House of Assembly is repealed and the following paragraphs substituted:

(5C) Notwithstanding anything contained in these Rules, where a member of a Standing, Select or Special Committee, including the Committee on Assembly Matters, is not able to attend a meeting of the Committee, another member of the same Party may be substituted for that member by the substitute member attending the meeting.

(5D) Notwithstanding anything contained in these Rules, the member of a Standing, Select or Special Committee, including the Committee on Assembly Matters, may be replaced by another member of the same Party by the House Leader of the member's Party tabling a notice to that effect and filing a copy of the notice with the Clerk and the Chair of the Committee.

Basically, to sum it up, if a member wants to replace another member on a committee for a meeting, simply advise the chairman. If you want a permanent change to a committee, the House Leader of that Party would table it at this place. So that, I guess, has been agreed to.

MR. SPEAKER: We have to have a motion to adopt that change in the rules. You have made the motion. 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 Government House Leader.

HON. RICHARD MANN: Mr. Speaker and members all, tomorrow we will be sitting from the hours of 12:00 p.m. until 8:00 p.m. Government Business will commence with second reading debate on Bill No. 39.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I believe that the rules say that we work through five days of business in order to switch from the four hours, the six hours and then the eight hours. There have not been five days. If you remember, the House rose on the Friday when there was the trip to Montreal and there was not consent from this caucus that that day would be forgiven in terms of meeting this rule. So, as far as we are concerned, the hours for tomorrow would be 12:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RICHARD MANN: Mr. Speaker, I have not had a chance to look at the rules, but we agreed, I think, by the fact that we sat the six hours last Thursday, that, in fact, we had agreed to forgive the previous Friday or we would not have been able to sit the six hours last Thursday, but having done that, that would put us, I believe, into the eight hours one week later, which is tomorrow. The five days does include Opposition Day on Wednesday and we sat six hours on last Thursday, Friday, Monday and Tuesday and, with today's business then tomorrow would be the one week, I believe, that is required in the rules that would see us go to the eight hours. That is consistent with the practices of the last two years in this House, that one week after going to six hours, we go to eight hours.

MR. SPEAKER: Well, the motion has been made by the honourable Government House Leader that we meet tomorrow at 12:00 p.m. and sit from 12:00 p.m. until 8:00 p.m. Now, I am open to points of order. We do have three minutes remaining. Possibly, they could be used productively, but I am at a loss to know what to do here. I am guided by the precedents and usages of the House in interpreting these rules and the case made by the Government House Leader appears to be a convincing one. The Clerk wants to consult with me. I will consult with the Clerk.

The Clerk is also of the same view that the motion is in order as made by the Government House Leader. It can be, of course, defeated by the House if such is the wish. The motion is that we rise until tomorrow and meet tomorrow at 12:00 p.m..

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RICHARD MANN: I have indicated the hours for the members' benefit. I would also indicate that, by mutual consent, we have agreed to sit from 8:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. on Friday so that members can make plans. Now I would move that we adjourn until 12:00 p.m. tomorrow, to sit from 12:00 p.m. until 8:00 p.m.

MR. SPEAKER: Is there a request for standing vote on the motion or anything of that type? Otherwise, I will put it as a voice vote.

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

The motion is carried unanimously.

The winner of the adjournment debate was the honourable member for Victoria, who wishes to speak on the motion:

Therefore be it resolved that the government continue to build upon our natural strengths in rural Nova Scotia. (Applause)



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Victoria.


MR. KENNETH MACASKILL: Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to rise today and to say a few works regarding our government's great accomplishments in Victoria County. Every region of the province has been affected by government restraint. Our provincial government has made every effort in Victoria County and throughout Nova Scotia to minimize any of the possible negative effects caused by fiscal restraint measures. We must, however, keep this in context.

Nova Scotia was affected by the last recession more than any other province in Canada. It has taken longer than we hoped to create the kind of prosperity that other regions of the country have known.

[6:00 p.m.]

The debt legacy of the last government cannot be underestimated as a factor in the present government's ability to improve the economy and to deliver essential services. We are now approaching a $9 billion debt. I cannot help but be more than a little upset at the way we have been hamstrung by the previous government.

Of course, we cannot dwell on the past and we must embrace the future. I believe the new Leader of the Opposition is sincere, but he cannot deny that our government is on the appropriate course. We are doing the proper things for the right reasons. Mr. Speaker, our Liberal Government has come a long way from the time when hand-outs and bail-outs were in fashion. Of course, provincially, the Liberal Governments of the past have not left an almost uncontrollable debt legacy.

Mr. Speaker, we, as Nova Scotians, must build upon our natural strengths. Tourism is one of these strengths. Tourism is an extremely important sector in Nova Scotia and in Victoria County in particular. Nova Scotia does not need theme parks or museums dedicated to floor space at the taxpayer's expense. Nova Scotia must build upon its natural beauty and the kind of leisure activities that take place in the outdoors.

Eco-tourism is extremely important and we have seen the benefits. Recently, European travel writers were treated to the most spectacular views of whales available in North America. There is a great deal of potential for this kind of activity in Victoria County. In northern Inverness County we have one of the most spectacular views for whale watching in North America. Of course, I am referring to Pleasant Bay.

Mr. Speaker, leisure activities such as golf are growing at a tremendous rate. Unfortunately, there are not many public courses available for tourists. Recently, the private sector, along with the provincial and federal governments have engaged in a cooperative effort to build a world-class golf course in Baddeck near the Alexander Graham Bell Museum. This is the kind of strategic infrastructure that can create long-term sustainable jobs. Baddeck is a tourism success story due in large part to the people of the Village of Baddeck. They have made their village a first-class tourist destination. The new golf facility can greatly enhance the present strength of the tourism product in the Baddeck area. This $5.8 million project will be built by the private sector with assistance in the form of loans. I believe this will ensure its success in the future.

Mr. Speaker, I earlier spoke of the kind of community effort it takes to ensure economic stability. The people of the Ingonish area have risen to the challenge to aid in the development of their own future. Of course, I am speaking of what is potentially one of the best winter tourist attractions in Nova Scotia, the Cape Smokey ski facility. This facility has been underdeveloped over the years and its full potential has not been realized. Last year it looked as though Cape Smokey was on its last legs. Instead the community rose to the challenge and worked hard to save that facility. This year Cape Smokey has risen from the brink of closure. Now, with federal and provincial government help, the local community group is installing a new quad chair lift, buying a snow groomer and enhancing trails.

The importance of Cape Smokey to the northern Cape Breton economy is great. In the winter there are 25 full-time and 20 part-time employees. Work at the hill means that people can work year-round and not be tied to one tourist season. Mr. Speaker, the Cape Smokey initiative is a project that enhances the natural assets of Victoria County. Cape Smokey has a great future. I am confident that it will grow and prosper in a self-sufficient manner. I encourage people to visit and discover one of Nova Scotia's best kept secrets.

As a province, we must be confident enough to realize our potential. If we enhance our strengths, we can overcome the many challenges before us.

The North of Smokey Economic Development Authority established in June 1991 has become so involved in the development of northern Cape Breton that they are taking the bold step of developing a five year strategic plan. Such plans have so far only been attempted by larger communities than those north of Smokey.

The volunteer nature of the authority also sets it apart from the traditional model of development agencies. I am confident that this kind of community economic development will succeed because it comes from the desire of the people to build a better future based on their strengths.

Mr. Speaker, there are many good things happening in Victoria County. They are not mega-projects with the promise of thousands of jobs but these projects are relatively small in scale and go a long way to enhance the economic stability of Victoria County.

Other works that deserve mention are some of the infrastructure and health care changes in Victoria. Water projects in Neil's Harbour and New Haven are enhancing the quality of life for the residents of these remote areas.

As well, the recent Little Narrows water project is also a significant step in the improvement of the area of Little Narrows. For many years this project has been delayed and people have had to continue trucking their water into the community. The Canada-Nova Scotia Infrastructure Works Program achieved what was considered un-achievable before. The $750,000 investment ensures that the Little Narrows community can now enjoy a level of service taken for granted by most Nova Scotians.

There have been many other good infrastructure projects under the Canada-Nova Scotia Infrastructure Works Program including the Shore Road water project in Baddeck, the parking lot at the Highland Village in Iona. This has paved the parking lot to enhance the site for visitors. Construction of a new fire hall in North River has provided an impressive community facility.

I mentioned health care because of its importance to rural communities. Home care is a great initiative that will go a long way to help rural Nova Scotians who have had a mutually supportive health care system for years.

The new hospital in Baddeck greatly complements health care reform. The new modern building replaces a wooden structure. Hospitals are becoming more complementary to the health care system. Hospitals are no longer the focal point of health care. In places like Victoria County the new health care is really old health care. For a number of years we have had a very effective hospice society in the catchment of the Baddeck hospital. This hospice society has carried out quality home care for terminally ill patients who want to be treated in the comfort of their own homes.

People helping people has always been a trait of Victoria County. The new Baddeck hospital is a small facility that meets the needs of the population scattered over a wide geographical area. Home care is a necessity in this kind of environment and I am pleased that government is recognizing this fact by supporting home care.

Mr. Speaker, the great strength of Nova Scotia is self-reliance. Community efforts have always been the way in Victoria County and I urge more developed and less developed areas to learn from their experience. We must enhance our natural strength with people as the centre of that strength. Thank you, that concludes my remarks at this time.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Citadel.

MR. TERENCE DONAHOE: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity to respond for a few moments to the resolution brought forward by the previous speaker. I don't have a copy of the resolution in front of me but you were kind enough to let me read your copy a few moments ago, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: " . . . resolved that the government continues to build upon our natural strengths in rural Nova Scotia.".

MR. DONAHOE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. What struck me when I read it and to hear you now read it again is the word continue because continue presupposes that there has been some previous positive action. I want to suggest to you that the argument or contention that there has been some previous positive action is questionable, to say the least.

Some months ago there was an editorial in one of our province's community papers, a paper called the Inverness Oran. The editorial was entitled, "Rural Rape". The message this editorial was sending the provincial government and its Liberal counterpart in Ottawa is loud and clear. The message was, listen up. The editorial describes the growing sense of despair felt by rural Nova Scotians as it sees what little government infrastructure left in the towns is actually vanishing and it does not stop there.

Recently, an editorial in the Shelburne newspaper, The Coast Guard stated the Liberal Government has a lot to prove to small-town Nova Scotia. The editorial was in agreement with the Mayor of the Town of Shelburne, Mr. P.G. Comeau who said and I quote him, They, the government, ". . . are tearing Shelburne County apart brick by brick".

Mr. Speaker, there are other examples of this government tearing the social fabric away from rural Nova Scotia. Mention was made here earlier this afternoon and I will repeat it. In Amherst, the Atlantic Provinces Special Education Authority (APSEA) has been closed. When that closure took place, you will recall, Mr. Speaker, as I certainly do and the residents of Amherst certainly do, this Liberal Government promised to move 75 provincial government jobs into Amherst. That was one year ago and the residents of Amherst are still waiting.

Let us move to Truro. The province has closed the Teachers College, the Youth Training Centre and most recently, the Community College, all in Truro.

Guysborough County is another example of this government's ineptitude. A Cabinet secretariat and you will recall that, I am sure, was formed by the Premier with great fanfare and that secretariat was to address the problems being experienced in Guysborough County. Other Nova Scotians, I can assure you, are certainly hoping that there are no more secretariats of that kind established since 142 jobs have disappeared in Guysborough County since that secretariat was formed.

The residents of Windsor and West Hants certainly do not buy into the philosophy being espoused by the member for Victoria. In one week the community college was closed in Windsor-West Hants and a budget cut of $1.5 million was made by this government to the local hospital budget and with that cut, a number of jobs are going by the wayside. That number of jobs is approximately in that small community 25. Windsor-West Hants is also losing their court-house and their local assessment office. Mr. Speaker, the list goes on and on and those are but a few examples.

The infrastructure, which in so many cases helps sustain Nova Scotia's smaller communities and which contributes to their economic viability is, whether this government wishes to recognize or acknowledge it or not, that infrastructure, that economic viability of small-town and small-community Nova Scotia is rapidly disappearing. The truly scary thing about it is that we have not heard so much as a whimper, not so much as a whimper, from the members on the government side of the House. Their silence has been deafening. What we get and the best we get and I compliment him for his references to his own constituency, the best we get is from the member for Victoria tonight who rises and attempts to commend this government for strengthening rural Nova Scotia.

What happened to 30-60-90? What happened to community economic development? 30-60-90 and community economic development have, all of a sudden, disappeared from the Liberal Government's vocabulary, as may I say, its promise of jobs and prosperity for everyone. This Liberal Government which looked Nova Scotians square in the eye in the election of 1993 and said, and you will remember it as candidate and as will my colleagues who are still remaining here to put up with my remarks here in the late show. You will remember it and I am sure they will, too.

They and their Liberal colleagues and yours, Mr. Speaker, looked Nova Scotians square in the eye in the spring of 1993 and they said, we have all the answers and that government which said in May 1993, that they had the answers, I say now have to stand up and be accountable to the people of rural Nova Scotia and the accounting is going to be a very tough one.

Nova Scotians are watching the magic and the mystery of this Liberal Government. The magic, do you remember magic? The magic and the jobs and the prosperity which was promised by this government. All of a sudden that magic is now a mystery. Very much like, now you see it, now you don't. Your school board, your hospital board, your local government, now you see it, now you don't. Your hospital, your court-house, your assessment office, your registry office, your forestry depot, now you see it, now you don't.

Rural Nova Scotians, Mr. Speaker, see little hope in coming to the city, even with its fancy blackjack tables and slot machines. They see no hope for their communities in anything this government has said or done since being elected over two and one-half years ago.

[6:15 p.m.]

Like mail order fraud, this government told Nova Scotians they would win a major prize if elected. But the deal has soured because not only are rural Nova Scotians not getting the jobs they were promised, in far too many cases rural Nova Scotians are losing the ones which they did have. The real kicker, Mr. Speaker, is that along with this, they are losing their services, their infrastructure and their local governance. "Rural rape" was the title of that editorial to which I made reference. It is a perfect description, I suggest, for the misguided remedy this government has prescribed for curing Nova Scotia's fiscal woes.

The Oran editorial asks a very legitimate question and that is: "Will rural Nova Scotia have any hope of securing some of the jobs this government promises will result from the electronic superhighway?". Will the information highway include any off-ramps to the job-starved parts of rural Nova Scotia or will it be a one-way street that bypasses rural Nova Scotia? If by chance the information highway does move into rural Nova Scotia, will there be anything left by then? Will there be any schools? Will there be any hospitals? Will there be any court-houses? Will there be any government offices and services? Will there be any infrastructure? Will there be any vitality or integrity to the communities to support that off-ramp from the information highway, if, by chance, it does take a turn down into rural Nova Scotia?

The people of Nova Scotia - and you know it, Mr. Speaker, and I certainly have heard from them in large measure and large number - and particularly the people of rural Nova Scotia are demanding to be heard, and the government, as the Inverness Oran editorial indicates, better listen up because in many cases, unfortunately, the despair being experienced by too many people in too many rural Nova Scotian communities is turning to rage.

I am not suggesting for a moment, Mr. Speaker, as this government did in the spring of 1993, that there is a quick fix for the issue we are debating here this evening. But what I am saying is that any effort to cut costs must be weighed against the benefits to be gained. Clearly, the government must recognize that it is not in the interest of the people of this province, be they from rural Nova Scotia or, indeed, from urban Nova Scotia, for it to proceed any further with decisions that jeopardize the very future of many of our smaller communities, decisions which dash the hopes of the youth of this province who want to live and to work and to contribute to their communities, be they urban or be they rural and to their province.

This government made some very bold promises when it was on the campaign trail. But absolutely nowhere do I remember reading, either in its policy papers or in its Throne Speeches, that they were committed to dismantling the infrastructure of rural Nova Scotia, and nowhere do I remember reading anything at all other than the promise that they would create jobs in rural Nova Scotia. It was not a promise to take those jobs away. It was a promise made boldly and loudly by the Premier and every Liberal candidate in the last provincial election, in every community of this province; it was a promise to create jobs.

It is time, I suggest to you, Mr. Speaker, and to my colleagues who are present and to any who will learn of these words, that this government thought back to those lavish campaign promises made in 1993 and started to live up to them. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Cape Breton Centre, to continue the debate.

MR. RUSSELL MACNEIL: Mr. Speaker, I would like to take the opportunity to compliment the member for Victoria for bringing the goodnesses that happened to his constituency of Victoria. So with all good news, sometimes bad news comes and that is the former Leader of the Opposition who stood up in his place and harangued for his allotted time, saying that the Province of Nova Scotia is in terrible condition.

Now, the investment dealers association did not think so. Those who received quite extensive infrastructure programs do not think so. The ones that the member for Victoria talked about, they are quite happy about what happens though. Some of the ones in Inverness who received some assistance, they feel quite happy with it. It is not everything they wanted, Mr. Speaker, and there is no way that anybody can promise everything that the people wish. But I know the people in my community, they are appreciative of the infrastructure work, and funnily enough, the reason why some of these areas received it this time is because they were deprived of it. They could not get it when the former government was in power because patronage reigned supreme. I know some of the areas of my constituency for 15 years, they could not get a street paved, not one, but the present government came in with a maintenance system whereby those who really need it would get it.

The member complained about the casinos. He complained about everything that is going on in the Province of Nova Scotia, but they were the makers of the deficits that we had. That is who did it. What we are trying to do is create it, and I feel very proud, as a Liberal member of this government that during the election I said we would try to fix the problems and that is exactly what we are trying to do. What he is suggesting is that there is a magic wand that you will do it and everything will be perfectly okay. Well, that is the dream world he is used to. Those things do not happen. It takes time and it takes a little planning and that is exactly what we are doing in this government. So for him to stand up and say that everything in rural Nova Scotia is gone to pot, he does not know who he is talking to. He always says he talked to thousands and thousands of people. I talked to my colleagues, the members for Inverness and Victoria. They do not say that. So I do not know where he gets it. There is always thousands and thousands of people. So I know that the people in my constituency are very appreciative of what this government is trying to do.

We have difficulties coming along in order to get this province back in shape and we have heard it many times that there may have to be a little pain in order to gain some of the respect that the people wish. There is nothing wrong with that, nothing whatsoever because I think the people would appreciate that. It is not as bad as he says it is. He has taken the advantage of saying that rural Nova Scotians are being ignored. They are not ignored.

If we look at all the programs that are in the Canada/Nova Scotia infrastructure program, he will see that there were gains made by these people. So I get very frustrated when he says that we went out and said we were going to do a whole lot of things and we are doing them. Again, the magic wand that he wishes is one that they tried for years and years and it did not work, but now he is saying that he has the instant answers to all these. I have to tell you, Mr. Speaker, that the instant answers they had a long time ago did not work. I think he is the first to admit that. They would never do it publicly, by the way, so the place was in a mess.

We, campaigning, in the elections said, we are going to try to put the province in a good position and we are working towards that. A lot of the members are working very hard to try to make this happen. It behooves everybody to try to get something positive in the province. We are used to the negativity for a long time. So we have to try to give a sense of hope to the people in this province and the likes of that talk that it is hopeless.

I do not know if he is around or the thousands and thousands he speaks to or close to the million, I guess, because he seems to have the opinion of everybody in the province. Well, that is not what I hear and we have difficulties, Mr. Speaker, and I want to tell you that the people are appreciative of what this government is trying to do and that we are going to be able to bring it around and make it a positive place for people to live and that the people of Nova Scotia will enjoy this province as they have never done before. I want to thank you for the opportunity to speak.

MR. SPEAKER: Are there further speakers in the debate? The only member left is the member for Inverness. No? All right, if there are no further speakers in the debate then the House stands adjourned until tomorrow at 12:00 noon.

[The House rose at 6:25 p.m.]



By: Mr. Terence Donahoe (Halifax Citadel)

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

(1) A list of all tender calls to date for coordinators for regional school board amalgamation;

(2) A list of any accompanying tender summaries for same;

(3) A list of successful bidders for each tender call for same; and

(4) A list of the contract costs (salary) for each coordinator as well as accompanying term length.


By: Mr. Terence Donahoe (Halifax Citadel)

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

(1) A copy of the tender call for the review on the community colleges in the Strait Region (Strait Campus, Nova Scotia Community College and the Nautical Institute);

(2) A copy of the agreement between the province and Educational Consulting Services with regard to the review; and

(3) Total cost to the province of the review of the two Strait campuses.