Assemblée Législative de la Nouvelle-Écosse

Les travaux de la Chambre ont repris le
21 septembre 2017















HALIFAX, WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 22, 1995



Fifty-sixth General Assembly



Third Session



2:00 P.M.



SPEAKER



Hon. Paul MacEwan



DEPUTY SPEAKER



Mrs. Francene Cosman



MR. SPEAKER: I think the time has come to call the House to order, ladies and gentlemen. Before we begin the daily routine of business, I would like to introduce some guests in the Speaker's Gallery and then other members who wish to introduce any guests that are here may do so.



I would like to introduce in the Speaker's Gallery, Nichole Burchell and Chris Forrest who are Grade 12 students from Hants East Rural High School. They are here in the gallery on a job shadow assignment as part of their high school program. The individual that they happen to be shadowing is also in my gallery and it is Mr. Bob Burchell who is the International Teller for the United Mine Workers of America. I am sure that Bob is no stranger to this House. We would all like to welcome him. He had his picture taken a few minutes ago with the Minister of Labour and myself and he is very glad to be here today. We are glad to have you here today, Bob. (Applause)



Are there any other guests in the gallery that members would like to introduce?



The honourable member for Hants East.



MR. ROBERT CARRUTHERS: Mr. Speaker, I want to also join you in welcoming the two students from Hants East. We had a chance to speak with them and Bob in our caucus office and show them around, so I welcome them.



I also want to point out to you, Mr. Speaker, that there a number of people here from the Hants East and surrounding area, (Interruption) from Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley also, who are in attendance here today in the gallery. They have come to forward to me a petition with regard to a ruling of the medical board. They are in support of their local physician. I wonder if all members of the House will join me in welcoming these people from the Hants East and Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley area and give them the warm welcome of the House. (Applause)



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MR. SPEAKER: Now are there other introductions of guests? If not, we will move into the daily routine of business.



PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants East.



MR. ROBERT CARRUTHERS: Mr. Speaker, I have with me a petition, quite a lengthy petition in terms of signatures, ". . . the undersigned patients of Dr. K. S. Hoque, (Enfield Medical Centre) are in total disagreement with the decision rendered by The Provincial Board on October 21, 1995.". I have endorsed this petition as the member for Hants East and have affixed my signature to it. I wish to table this petition in the House of Assembly.



MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.



The honourable Minister of Community Services.



HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition consisting of 14 pages from 14 separate schools in Dartmouth East. They were signed November 14th and November 15th. I received it on November 21st, but I did want to table this, as I had committed.



It expresses its displeasure with Bill No. 39, and ask, ". . . the Minister to make substantive changes to this Act as requested by the NSTU or to withdraw this Act.".



Now, Mr. Speaker, they came from Admiral Westphal Junior High School; I.W. Akerley Campus Community College; Ellenvale Junior High School; Alderney Elementary School; Mary Lawson Elementary School; Dartmouth Education Centre; Eric Graves Junior High School; Caledonia Junior High School; Prince Andrew High School; Michael Wallace Elementary School; Brookhouse Elmentary School; Ian Forsyth Elementary School; École du Carrefour; and Mount Edward Elementary School.



Mr. Speaker, I have affixed my signature to the front page.



MR. SPEAKER: The petitions are tabled.



The honourable member for Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury.



MR. RAYMOND WHITE: Mr. Speaker, I wish to also table a petition on Bill No. 39 from 22 teachers and support staff of Centennial Elementary School in Port Hawkesbury. I have also affixed my signature to the petition.



MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.



The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.



MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition on behalf of the patients of Doctor Hoque of the Enfield Medical Centre. The patients are explaining, in their operative clause, that they, ". . . are in total disagreement with the decision rendered by The Provincial Board on October 21, 1995.". They are saying that, "It is our belief that the decision was rendered without adequate consultation and representation from the majority of Doctor Hoque's patients. It is our belief that an appropriate remedy would be an immediate reinstatement of his medical license on the the Permanent Registry.".



Mr. Speaker, as the representative from Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley, I am signatory to this petition and endorse it.



MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.



Are there objections?



The honourable member for Hants East.



MR. ROBERT CARRUTHERS: I believe that is the petition I just tabled.



MR. SPEAKER: Well, I have no objection to that. We had a common form of prayer or petition that was introduced from teachers that was introduced by great numbers of members of the House. They are all in order.



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



MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, perhaps you could advise me and the House as to whether or not an MLA has a responsibility to table a petition if presented, irrespective of where it comes from.



MR. SPEAKER: I am not prepared to advise on that matter. The Clerk is available for procedural advice. The member has a right, but that wasn't the question. It was has he a responsibility and that's a moot point.



PRESENTING REPORT OF COMMITTEES



TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS



STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS



GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION



INTRODUCTION OF BILLS



NOTICES OF MOTION



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition or his designate.



The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.



RESOLUTION NO. 659



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 release of the federal Auditor General's report yesterday clearly shows that the decision taken by the Nova Scotia Minister of Transportation and the federal Minister of Public Works to divert $26 million from the SHIP agreement pre-empted an assessment of the decision's cost and benefits by the federal management committee under the agreement governing those funds; and



Whereas the federal Auditor General stated he had a number of concerns about the methods used by Nova Scotia's Minister of Transportation and the federal Minister of Public Works to divert Highway No. 104 funding; and



Whereas despite saying he has been vindicated, Nova Scotians, including the MP for Cumberland-Colchester, understand that a true clear conscience on this issue is only in the mind of the beholder;



Therefore be it resolved that Nova Scotia's Minister of Transportation not revel in technical victories, but instead do what is right for Cumberland and Colchester Counties and all Nova Scotians and immediately construct Highway No. 104 without tolls.



MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.



The honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party.



[2:15 p.m.]



RESOLUTION NO. 660



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



Whereas the federal Auditor General has confirmed that no amendments were ever prepared or approved to broaden the scope of the Strategic Highway Improvement Program, SHIP, to include secondary highways; and



Whereas the federal Auditor General has also reported that the normal project review and approval processes were by-passed by the provincial Minister of Transportation and his federal Liberal colleague, Mr. Dingwall; and



Whereas the Minister of Transportation led the Liberal election charge with promises that in future all highway decisions would be based on objective assessments, not political interference;



Therefore be it resolved that this House regrets that the Transportation Minister has been reduced to claiming vindication from a report that demonstrates he has been making major highway decisions on a personal and partisan political basis, just like his Tory predecessors.



MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.



The honourable member for Hants East.



RESOLUTION NO. 661



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



Whereas the Canadian Victims Rights advocate group, CAVEAT, recently rated Nova Scotia's crime fighting efforts as being second in Canada, with a B- rating; and



Whereas the Conservative Governments of Alberta and Ontario were rated the worst because while they talked about crime fighting as a priority, like all Conservative Governments they were all talk and no action; and



Whereas even though there is still work to be done on the issue of crime prevention in Nova Scotia, our government has made significant progress in dealing with the kind of social issues which lead to a decrease in crime;



Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia Liberal Government continue its successful efforts to fight crime by addressing and underlining social issues which lead to crime rather than ignoring the problem like Progressive Conservative Governments in Ontario and Alberta.



MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.



The honourable member for Lunenburg.



RESOLUTION NO. 662



MRS. LILA O'CONNOR: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:



Whereas the Annual Tourism Service Awards of Excellence recognize leadership, creativity, professionalism and contributions to the betterment of the tourism industry in this province; and



Whereas an Award of Excellence was recently presented to Amos Pewterers of Mahone Bay for gaining international recognition of their fine artistry; and



Whereas an Award of Excellence was also presented to the Lunenburg Fisheries Museum of the Atlantic for providing an exceptional venue to explore the history and culture of our fishing heritage;



Therefore be it resolved that the members of this Assembly extend congratulations to Amos Pewterers, Suzanne and Greg Amos, and to the Fisheries Museum President, Graham Bailey, for receiving this outstanding recognition of achievement in tourism excellence.



Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver.



MR. SPEAKER: Is that agreeable?



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 Yarmouth.



RESOLUTION NO. 663



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



Whereas the Yarmouth Committee on Drug Awareness and Prevention was awarded the Medallion of Distinction from the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse on November 21, 1995, at the Yarmouth Regional Hospital; and



Whereas the Yarmouth committee works in partnership with many volunteer and professional organizations including: the Home and School Associations of the Yarmouth district; the local Teens Against Drinking and Driving; Kids Against Drugs and Drinking; the Acadia Band; the Nova Scotia Department of Health, Drug Dependency Services Division; and



Whereas one of the many projects initiated by the committee was a seven part cable television series focusing on drug addictions and the development of an educational resource package for Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, under the community support program of Canada's Drug Strategy;



Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House applaud the Yarmouth Committee on Drug Awareness and Prevention's ongoing dedication and commitment in the area of drug prevention and community education.



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



MR. SPEAKER: Is that agreeable?



It is agreed.



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



The motion is carried.



The honourable member for Cape Breton South.



RESOLUTION NO. 664



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



Whereas in their increasing desire to abscond from the sins of the past, the Opposition continues to demonstrate its lack of financial ability by pointing to a rise of the debt over the past two years; and



Whereas the realistic approach to deficit reduction set forth in the Government By Design process is working to such a great extent that the operating deficit will soon become an operating surplus; and



Whereas the Opposition is obviously calling upon the government to inflict the same kind of cold-hearted pain on Nova Scotia as have Conservative Governments in Ontario and Alberta;



Therefore be it resolved that the Government of Nova Scotia stick to its efforts to find an equitable solution to deficit reduction, rather than rewarding the rich and punishing the poor, as has been done in Alberta and Ontario.



MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.



The honourable member for Eastern Shore.



RESOLUTION NO. 665



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



Whereas for the second year tourism along the Eastern Shore has shown remarkable growth with the number of room stays up 10 per cent at the end of October, 1995, the greatest increase in the province, following a 7 per cent increase in tourism last year; and



Whereas last year the tourism industry on the Eastern Shore represented $13.2 million in revenue which supported 500 tourism related jobs; and



Whereas in the past two years two very successful Tourism Strategy Days were held on the Eastern Shore, bringing together local businesses, organizations, communities, government leaders and Tourism Nova Scotia officials to devise a viable tourism strategy for the Eastern Shore;



Therefore be it resolved that this House applaud the significant increase in tourism along the Eastern Shore, with its resulting increase in revenue and jobs, and acknowledge the commitment of local businesses, organizations, communities, government leaders and Tourism Nova Scotia officials to work together to promote tourism growth.



Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver of notice.



MR. SPEAKER: Is that agreed?



It is agreed.



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



The motion is carried.



The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.



RESOLUTION NO. 666



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 Human Resources Development Canada reported in an April 1995, study of occupational health and safety that when enforcement activities were up, injury rates were down; and



Whereas the consensus process used by labour, management and government on the federal Labour Program Legislative Review Committee did not endorse cuts in health and safety enforcement; and



Whereas nevertheless the federal government is firing dozens of health and safety inspection staff and adopting self-regulation, despite the documented rise in injury and illness that results;



Therefore be it resolved that this House urges the federal government to respect its own evidence and the value of labour-management consensus by reversing its dangerous decision to slash health and safety enforcement.



Mr. Speaker, even though I didn't give notice earlier, I would like to ask for waiver of notice on this resolution.



MR. SPEAKER: Is that agreeable?



It is agreed.



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



The motion is carried.



The honourable member for Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury.



RESOLUTION NO. 667



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



Whereas Seawind Landing Country Inn, located in Charlos Cove, Guysborough County, is the proud winner of the 1995 Tourism Industry of Nova Scotia Accommodation Award of Excellence; and



Whereas Jim and Lorraine Colvin, proprietors of the Seawind Landing Country Inn have aggressively developed a marketing plan that includes nature tourism activities that are environmentally friendly, with a strong emphasis on conservation; and



Whereas the publicity brochures of the Seawind Landing Country Inn includes a Code of Ethics for Sustainable Tourism, which has been accepted by the Tourism Industry of Nova Scotia;



Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate Jim and Lorraine Colvin on receiving the 1995 Tourism Industry of Nova Scotia Accommodation Award of Excellence and encourage them to continue to promote their inn and the Marine Drive Eco-Tour as a naturalist's paradise, offering exceptional product and service.



Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.



MR. SPEAKER: Is that agreeable to the House?



It is agreed.



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



The motion is carried.



The honourable member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage



RESOLUTION NO. 668



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



Whereas the Canadian Academy of Travel and Tourism is piloting a new tourism education course in four Canadian schools; and



Whereas this three year program will incorporate regular curriculum such as computer experience, languages, English and geography, with communications, problem-solving, time management, working with others, and information processing; and



Whereas Auburn Drive High School has been selected as one of the four schools, for its location and technological abilities;



Therefore be it resolved that the members of this Assembly congratulate Principal Don Buck, the staff and students of Auburn Drive High School for being chosen to support the growing travel and tourism industry.



Mr. Speaker, I would ask for waiver.



MR. SPEAKER: Is that agreeable?



It is agreed.



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



The motion is carried.



The honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party.



RESOLUTION NO. 669



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



Whereas the federal Auditor General has warned the federal government that its ability to properly manage public services is being endangered by rapid downsizing and job cuts; and



Whereas here in Nova Scotia, the provincial government claims that it has already destroyed its ability to analyze or manage major projects like Highway No. 104 and improvements of correctional facilities; and



Whereas, meanwhile, millions have been wasted on substandard, surplus office space, unworkable computer systems and unmonitored outside contracts;



Therefore be it resolved that the quick march of privatization begun by the Conservatives and pushed by the Liberals should be replaced by the sound management and proper monitoring of public services that truly safeguard the public interest.



MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.



The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.



RESOLUTION NO. 670



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



Whereas Dartmouth City Council has joined Annapolis County, Pictou County, Kings County and many other municipalities suffering because the province imposed a new unilateral cap on social assistance cost-sharing, three months into the fiscal year; and



Whereas the Community Services Minister has been promising since midsummer that he has a team which can fix the problems created by this poorly timed and badly communicated funding freeze; and



Whereas the minister's efforts have so far fallen short of his promises;



Therefore be it resolved that this House urges the government to recognize and address the misery that is being created by its late, unilateral freeze on contributions to general assistance at a time when UI cuts, economic stagnation and a drop in full-time jobs is putting more pressure on case loads.



MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.



If there are no further Notices of Motion, I would like to advise the House that the Clerk has conducted a draw for the Adjournment debate at 6:00 o'clock and the winner this afternoon is the honourable member for Lunenburg. She has submitted a motion reading as follows:



Therefore be it resolved that the members of the Assembly extend congratulations to the participants of the Tourism Strategic Workshop held in Yarmouth this past week, for their outstanding efforts to enhance our tourism industry.



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



We can advance at this time into Orders of the Day. I will state that the time now is 2:29 p.m. so the Oral Question Period can run until 3:59 p.m.



ORDERS OF THE DAY



ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.





FIN. - CASINO (SYDNEY): ITT SHERATON - CONTRACTORS PAYMENTS



DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister responsible for the Nova Scotia Gaming Corporation. Yesterday, in Question Period, I brought it to the minister's attention that many small contractors in Sydney, who worked on the construction of the Sydney Casino, have not yet been paid. One of those small contractors, Mr. Walter MacPhail, was, in fact, owed $10,000 for work that was done some six months ago. In response, the minister said that he was not prepared to get involved and micro-manage the contract between the Gaming Corporation, Purdy's Wharf and ITT Sheraton.



My question to the minister is, would the minister not agree that the very minute he decided to go to Las Vegas and to discuss with ITT Sheraton officials such things as marketing and employment equity, he had already made a commitment to micro-manage the agreement?



HON. BERNARD BOUDREAU: No, I would make no such admission. I might ask the honourable member though, as Leader of the Opposition, if he is, prepared to indicate to me that he has information that ITT Sheraton or Purdy's or Lindsay Construction owe this particular individual money because I made some inquiries and that wasn't the information I had.



DR. HAMM: To continue with the Minister responsible for the Gaming Corporation, in addition to the information that I brought to the House yesterday, it has also come to our attention that the Bidart Sprinkler Company in Sydney is out approximately $50,000 for work that they did on the casino completed almost six months ago. Mr. Bidart points out that it has already cost him some $4,500 to carry that line of credit since the work was done and it is costing him about $750 every month that he is not paid and he is very anxious to get his money. Again I would ask the minister is he prepared to, as Minister responsible for the Gaming Corporation, to find out whether or not ITT Sheraton has made all its payments owed to the Lindsay company which will allow them to pay the small contractors and the sub-contractors who have worked on the Sydney Casino?



[2:30 p.m.]



MR. BOUDREAU: Well, the honourable member hasn't answered the question I raised in the first response but let me ask him again, is he saying that J. W. Lindsay owes this particular person money or ITT Sheraton? I have made some inquiries after the subject was raised and my indication is that they do not.



DR. HAMM: Mr. Speaker, I find it passing strange that the information we are getting from small contractors is not legitimate, if that is what the minister is suggesting. By way of final supplementary, is the minister prepared to simply make a commitment here that he will look into this matter and make absolutely sure that all of the small contractors are being paid by J.W. Lindsay and that they, in fact, have received all of their progress payments that are due from ITT Sheraton? Will he make that commitment?



MR. BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, as I said, the management of the construction and capital investment of some $26 million in Cape Breton is handled by our partners, that is their part of the deal. I don't intend to get into managing construction sites or accounts payable. What I did is I asked whether or not there were any accounts outstanding and my information is that there are none. There may be some accounts outstanding from subs of subs of subs but in fact, all of the obligations of ITT Sheraton and indeed Lindsay have been met.



This brings me to the concern that I raise that the Opposition, and I am surprised at the Leader of the Opposition raising these sorts of concerns and issues here, yesterday, in fact, claiming and propagating the myth that the casino in Sydney was about to close. Now there are all sorts of unpaid contractors there. This sort of thing is irresponsible, there is no foundation to it and they have an obligation before they bring this to the House to have some basis in fact for their allegations. (Applause)



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.



COMMUN. SERV. - DARTMOUTH: SOCIAL SERVICES - FUNDING SHORTFALL



MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I would like to direct my question to the Minister of Community Services. We all know of the uproar that took place at the Dartmouth City Council meeting last night where the councillors were debating the fact that the Social Services Department in Dartmouth is looking at a $1 million shortfall in their budget. Back in the early part of the summer I raised some concerns with the Minister of Community Services about the impact of his government's decision to cap general assistance funding at the 1994-95 level. In response to my letter the minister indicated that he was putting together a high level budget and program review team to meet with various councils. It appears that this high level team has met and worked through his solutions with many councils but it appears that the results have not been very effective because we are again seeing that many municipal units, Annapolis, Pictou, Kings, and now Dartmouth are faced with extraordinary over-demand if you want to call it, on their welfare rolls and the government solution has not worked.



I would like to ask the minister now that he, in fact, has spent the summer working through his solutions, which have not worked as he promised, what are you going to do to live up to your commitment that the level of service to welfare recipients will not be reduced in the future?



HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, we have had a budget review team. This consists of program and financial officials from our department. We have visited over 44 municipal units. It has worked most effectively. They have been most diligent in their work. They have had great cooperation in almost all municipal units and they have been able to really identify many areas, particularly in the area of small options that really the budgeting process could have changed usually to the benefit of that municipal unit.



It has been a success. There are some areas yet that we haven't really fully finished our job of reviewing the budgetary process and we are doing this. We have had several meetings over the past several months with the municipal unit that the honourable member mentions. I think things are well in hand. The figures being quoted are not, in fact, correct as we speak but that is another matter, Mr. Speaker, but the budgetary review process is working. Not only that, we have put in a committee of municipal and provincial officials that will, in the future, be following the whole budgetary process from start to finish. That is something, really, that has not been done in this province.



MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I think we have to recognize the fact that municipal units have their hands tied in that they are dealing face-on with the economic realities of the results of this government's programs, the deteriorating economic situation in this province, and the loss of jobs is creating real hardship for many families.



MR. SPEAKER: Is this a question?



MR. CHISHOLM: What we are talking about here is an increasing case load . . .



MR. SPEAKER: This is not a question. This is a sermon.



MR. CHISHOLM: . . . and the demand on the social services.



MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.



MR. CHISHOLM: I will ask my question, Mr. Speaker. What I am trying to ask this minister, has he made a commitment to municipal units that the level of service and assistance to clients of municipal social services will not be reduced? In Dartmouth, they are looking at a 50 per cent reduction, as is Kings County, in social services. What is the minister going to do to live up to his commitment?



DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I don't mind saying it is a bit difficult to honestly answer questions when the whole proposition, really, is based on ill-founded information. The provincial government has given that particular municipal unit $2.1 million more this year and, further, it is an area of quite high employment. In fact, 17,000 more people are working this year I believe than we can say last year, in 1993. But there are great demands on the social service system and this why the old way of doing business is not working. We are working with the municipal units; we are working with employment resource centres; we are working with our COMPASS programs and we are streaming people much earlier to get into these types of programs.



I want to thank the member for bringing this question, though, and I know he brings it in earnest and it is important that we deal with these issues up front. We are dealing with the municipal units and our commitment is that if we find an area of special need, and he has mentioned Annapolis County and Guysborough County and there are special needs there, then we will have to address those particular issues. But we certainly are not going with an open chequebook, Mr. Speaker. The days of doing business in social services with an open-ended system has finished and we must find new ways of doing business and we are working on that and we have plans in place to do that.



MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, in my final supplementary, I would like to ask the minister what he is saying to those people who, through no fault of their own, have no work and are having difficulty putting food on their table and putting clothes on their backs and are faced, in the case of Kings County, with the possibility of having their benefits reduced by 50 per cent? What is this minister planning to do to deal with those realities?



DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, there is a difference between the benefits being reduced 50 per cent at the municipal level. Now I want to be clear on the question because there have been some eligibility reviews done and some of these determinations have really been able to be a little more cost effective, shall we say. But if there is a municipal unit that has reached their limit and really are in difficulties and are not able to meet their commitments to those people, we will not see those people in need. That is the Liberal program, that is the way we have done business and that is the history of this Party and we will continue to do that.



MR. SPEAKER: On a new question, the honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.





HEALTH - MEDICAL ACT: PROV. MEDICAL BD. - HEARINGS PUBLICIZE



MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the honourable Minister of Health. This afternoon as guests in our gallery we have a number of supporters and patients of Dr. Hoque. Dr. Hoque works out of, or at least did work out of, the Enfield Medical Centre. I want to thank the minister because before we came into the House this afternoon the minister did sit down and meet with some of the representatives of the patients who are in support of Dr. Hoque and I want to thank the minister on behalf of the patients and supporters.



Because of responsibilities in the House, our meeting was cut somewhat short. But as the minister should know, there is widespread agreement in Nova Scotia that the Medical Act is somewhat outdated, and specifically as it relates to the process for handling complaints against physicians. Evelyn Sullivan and Judith Barron, who are sitting up in the gallery, are representing the group of patients in support of Dr. Hoque and they have a number of concerns over the shortcomings in the Act. (Interruption)



Yes, Mr. Speaker, there is a question here and I am going to get to it very quickly. There are shortcomings in the Act, particularly as they relate to public notification of hearings and opportunities of patient input.



MR. SPEAKER: This is getting much too lengthy. Now you have to ask a question.



MR. TAYLOR: The question, Mr. Speaker, can the minister advise this House and, of course, patients and supporters of Dr. Hoque, whether the anticipated revisions to the Medical Act will include and require a notice of hearing to be published in the appropriate local newspaper?



HON. RONALD STEWART: Mr. Speaker, I am delighted to see the relatively recent interest of the member opposite in the Medical Act and issues in respect to this particular issue. I congratulate him for his sudden interest. I would reassure him that the Medical Act is, in fact, being pursued in terms of its revision and I will bring that forward in due course.



MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, my first supplementary; one of the disciplinary actions that was taken against Dr. Hoque required that he obtain a sponsor before being allowed to resume his practice. I understand that on October 31st four sponsors were forwarded to the Provincial Medical Board, including one who is a member of the executive society. Is it in the minister's jurisdiction, to inquire as to whether or not there has been a breakdown in the process that is leaving up to 600 of Dr. Hoque's patients without their family doctor? Is it in the minister's jurisdiction to inquire as to whether or not there was a breakdown in the process?



DR. STEWART: Mr. Speaker, it is not within my mandate nor is it, I would suggest, in the mandate of this particular discussion to bring forward a judicial ruling from the Provincial Medical Board. I would just reassure the member that the process is, in fact, a process which has been developed.



I assured the member in his previous question that the whole of the Medical Act is under review and I have given assurances, as that honourable member heard no more than one hour ago, to representatives who have come forward with very good suggestions, I have given them representations in terms of the importance of their suggestions to the revision of the Medical Act.



MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, perhaps for further clarification and greater certainty, can the minister tell the House when he expects to introduce amendments to the Medical Act? I understand that the Provincial Medical Board was expecting the Act to be amended during this session but that seems most unlikely. Can the minister advise us when he will be introducing amendments to the Medical Act? Can the minister be precise?



DR. STEWART: Mr. Speaker, I would assure the House and would assure the honourable member opposite that the Medical Act is under review. It will come forward in due course. I might say that the fact that we are reviewing and taking a very careful managed review, in fact, has been benefitted greatly by the representations of the honourable people who are here from East Hants and his constituency. I would thank them for being here.



[2:45 p.m.]



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings West.



HEALTH - REG. BDS.: WORKERS - PROTECTION



MR. GEORGE MOODY: My question is for the Minister for Health through you, Mr. Speaker. I understand that the NSGEU has requested a meeting with the Minister of Health and sent the minister a letter to discuss a number of labour issues. The issue that I would like to ask the minister about is the issue of what is being done to ensure public health nurses, drug dependency staff, home care workers, regional staff of the Department of Health and other employees, what is being done to ensure that they have the same protection as hospital employees under the Regional Health Boards Act, if the minister would indicate what is being done?



HON. RONALD STEWART: Mr. Speaker, I very much appreciate the question by the honourable member opposite. It is a question that is extremely important particularly in the plan to have workers in respect to drug dependency and home care, and so on, transfer eventually to the regions. We have a committee working within the regional health boards and will be meeting in respect to this particular issue with the unions that are involved. I might say that one of the priorities, however, has been to, first of all, work with those same unions for the labour adjustment package and then go on to the specifics.



MR. MOODY: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to know that the minister has indicated how important it is and that there are steps that have to be taken. I wonder, in my first supplementary, if I could ask the minister when would we see amendments to the Regional Health Board Act to make sure that the protection is there? Would it be reasonable to assume that we would see those amendments in the spring or at what particular time?



DR. STEWART: Again, Mr. Speaker, I would be cautious in my response in terms of the timing in that it involves the meeting and the collaboration with our labour colleagues, particularly the NSGEU and others, and we would certainly hope that as soon as possible these changes might come about. However, the transfer of these employees is scheduled for 1996 and with two sessions, I would expect that either one would contain those requirements.



MR. MOODY: I thank the minister for understanding how important this issue is and for the consultation that he plans to follow. I would ask the minister, in the final supplementary, given the fact that, and I think he would agree, that April 1st is the date, as I understand it, for these people to become employees of the regional health boards, I would ask the minister if he would give the undertaking that this would be done prior to that date so that there would not be a lot of confusion among the workers regarding their protection at that time of transfer?



DR. STEWART: As the honourable member opposite suggests, this is a matter of such importance that there would certainly have to be major agreement if not complete contracts and so on prior to that date.



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



HEALTH - WORKERS: EARLY DEPARTURE PROG. - COST



DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, again, to continue with the Minister of Health. There has been some debate as to how many people will be involved in this labour adjustment program in health care. Can the minister confirm today that based on the early departure program cost of $20 million, with an average payment of $10,000 per worker, that he is looking for some 2,000 people to voluntarily leave their positions in health care?



HON. RONALD STEWART: Mr. Speaker, again, as I have said in the past, we would anticipate as many as possible who would feel comfortable and able to accept, what has been described as a precedent setting agreement, would take advantage of that. Again, it will very much depend on the needs of the community and the community resource needs that are expressly evaluated by the facility and by the community and regional health boards.



DR. HAMM: Mr. Speaker, the minister continues to show an amazing aversion to numbers. I believe there are some 300 people who have been identified as being eligible for the early retirement package in health care workers with a budget that will allow some 2,000 workers to take the Voluntary Departure Program. Would that not lead the minister to perhaps conclude that the minimum target for reducing the hospital and health care employees is some 2,300?



DR. STEWART: Mr. Speaker, I have no aversion to numbers and I am not trying to in any way discredit those who would have estimates. However, I am saying that the ultimate up-take of a package like this will depend on the service delivery models in each of the communities and the needs of the communities and also in the interests of those workers who might consider taking those packages. The workers will decide, the unions will ratify if they wish and the needs of the communities will be served.



DR. HAMM: Mr. Speaker, again to the Minister of Health. The minister has spoken about health care workers losing their jobs in hospitals and having opportunities to work in community health care schemes. Could the minister indicate if workers who take the severance package under the Voluntary Departure Program will be eligible for those same positions that come up in home or community based care? If so, wouldn't it make more sense to have an orderly transition of those workers into those programs rather than to go through a severance kind of package and then have them become employed in these local programs?



DR. STEWART: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate that very cogent question on the part of the part of the Leader of Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition. I would say that the beauty of this package, if there is, is very simply the options provided to the workers in respect to either continuing their employment and considering other options in the health care field or taking early retirement and other retraining packages that would see them retire from the work force in health care.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition on a new question.



HEALTH - TREATMENT DELAYS: INFORMATION - TABLE



DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, I would like to continue with the Minister of Health. The minister fails to confirm, I think, that reasonable estimates of some 2,300 to 2,500 jobs will be affected by the program that the minister announced the other day. While I appreciate the fact that an exact number would be difficult to determine, I think it would be very useful to have a reasonable estimate provided by the department so that those of us who have incomplete information aren't always speculating on the numbers.



Yesterday I had asked the minister in Question Period when I discussed some information about the fact that treatment delays had increased in this province dramatically from 1992 to 1994 and we had surgical waiting lists in coronary surgery and in orthopaedic surgery that had increased dramatically, the minister said that he had studies and they were monitoring continuing community needs. He had evidence that indicated that what I had said was incorrect and I asked him to table the information. To this point I have not seen any information from the Department of Health that would in any way negate the statements I made in Question Period yesterday.



HON. RONALD STEWART: Mr. Speaker, I am not sure that was a question.



MR. SPEAKER: I am not either, it sounded more like a dissertation.



DR. STEWART: I am not sure where it was going. I would be happy to presume a question but I don't want to misrepresent.



MR. SPEAKER: Is there a question?



DR. HAMM: Mr. Speaker, I was hoping the minister would table the information that I asked him for yesterday. Does he have it with him today?



DR. STEWART: Mr. Speaker, the information to which I referred yesterday is continuing to be analyzed and is continuing to come to the Ministry of Health through our new computerized systems. We will have quarterly reports. We welcome scrutiny of these data and we certainly would suggest that they are largely an improvement on what was done before and also, in fact, much of an improvement over the quotations of the Fraser Institute.



DR. HAMM: Mr. Speaker, again with the Minister of Health. I failed again to hear a commitment that the information will be made available to us. Would the minister clarify a point regarding the early departure program? Could the minister indicate if the early departure program is only available to those who, by way of seniority, will be targeted for layoff or is it being broadly offered to every health care worker in the province, regardless of their seniority?



DR. STEWART: Mr. Speaker, the programs and packages which we have negotiated and spoke of yesterday and worked out with our partners and our people in the health care field, is a broad package available throughout the system and again, we hope that many will take advantage of that package.





DR. HAMM: Mr. Speaker, by way of final supplementary, yesterday the Minister of Health said that those who took voluntary departure would qualify for unemployment. Again, the Minister of Human Resources said otherwise and then a senior official for the Nova Scotia Government Employees Union said that the matter was not cut and dried.



Would the minister clarify for those who may be thinking of taking the early departure offer from government, whether or not they would qualify for unemployment insurance on receipt of that package and on leaving their position with the Department of Health?



MR. SPEAKER: Now the minister may respond to that if he wishes to. I want to point out that Beauchesne makes clear that ministers may only be questioned on matters that come under their ministerial responsibility. The Unemployment Insurance Commission does not, it is a federal agency, it is a responsibility of the Minister for Human Resources Development for Canada, in the House of Commons, but the minister may respond if he wishes.



DR. STEWART: Well, I would just say in respect to the answer that we gave, Mr. Speaker, I believe that one of us was describing a glass as half full and the other as half empty. The answer is the same, I would defer to the honourable Minister of Human Resources to clarify or to, in fact, make clear what we said.



MR. SPEAKER: With deference and based on much experience, I am sure that . . .



DR. STEWART: However, the answer is that it is beyond . . .



MR. SPEAKER: Neither minister can answer the question, it is a federal matter.



The honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party.



HEALTH - BRAIN INJURIES: REHAB - PRIORITY



MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I would also like to address a question through you to the Minister of Health but on a different matter. The Minister of Health will know that the Brain Injury Association of Nova Scotia has been seeking the support from this government to open a small community residence with a rehabilitation component for Nova Scotians who have brain injuries. At the present time there are no such facilities in the Province of Nova Scotia or in the Maritimes and the only private service, I understand, that the price for that has been tagged at around $600 per day.



The responses I have received in correspondence that I have sent to the minister and, as well, to his colleague the Minister of Community Services, would seem to indicate that this matter is being bounced back and forth between the two departments and getting bogged down between the two different ministers. It certainly appears that this is a very low priority with this government and I would like to ask the minister why it is such a low priority with his government to meet the needs of those with these types of injuries?



HON. RONALD STEWART: Mr. Speaker, I want to assure the honourable member opposite that it is, indeed, not a low priority. There has been in the past, as the honourable gentleman refers to, a lack of clarity in terms of some of the treatment facilities that would be required. We are putting that right by a cooperative venture between Community Services and ourselves in the Ministry of Health. We will continue to do that. In fact we have a group working on just that issue. I want to assure the honourable member opposite and all members of the House that this is a very important issue, in terms of long-term rehabilitation.



I would remind the honourable member that we certainly do have in the province rehabilitation services for head injured patients and spinal cord injured patients, of very high quality.



MR. HOLM: Of course the minister will know that the number of spaces available, for example, in the rehab are nowhere nearly adequate, nor are they intended to be long-term, nor are the hospitals. I think even the minister would agree that the level of service available for this is not adequate to meet the full scope of the need.



Mr. Speaker, of course what the association is looking for is a community-based public service that would be at a reasonable cost, rather than a higher priced, non-accountable, private operation. From the information I have received in a letter dated as late as November 16th from the association, it indicates that neither the Minister of Health or the Minister of Community Services, that they have not even met yet to deal with this and that the two departments are not even collaborating and working together.



So, I would like to ask the minister - if he says that there is cooperation - I was going to ask him when the buck-passing will stop but I will change my question to be a little bit kinder and ask the minister when, reasonably, can the members of the Brain Injury Association of Nova Scotia expect that there will be a concrete response that outlines what the government will be doing to address the very real needs of these clients?



[3:00 p.m.]



DR. STEWART: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the indulgence of the honourable member opposite in emphasizing kindness. As he very well knows, we are not here for kindness, we are here for probing questions which will get to the bottom of issues. I appreciate his question in this regard because it is a major priority in terms of the long-term rehabilitation facilities in this province. He very properly refers to the difficulty in which there has been in the past no provision, or little provision, for the long term. In terms of the short-term rehabilitation, he properly gives credit, I am sure, to the rehabilitation centres in the province.



We are working, in concert with our two departments. Our staffs, in fact, have been mandated to look specifically at the implications of several types of programs and we have been in contact with the association to engage them in this regard. They have a very far-reaching proposal which we are extremely interested in and we continue to look at in concert with the Department of Community Services. Let there be no doubt that this is not, in any way, buck-passing. It is an effort, as we have done in the case of youth services in Cape Breton, to look at how we can break down barriers and silos that exist in government far too often.



MR. HOLM: I thank the minister for his answer and I congratulate him for his skill. He is becoming very adept at being able not to answer questions, Mr. Speaker, because I still did not get an answer, really, even to my kind question. Yes, indeed, I am talking about long-term rehabilitation. I am not talking about short-term. I am looking for the provision of, for example, the supportive of housing project that they are looking at, a community-based type of operation. We have small options being developed under the Department of Community Services, for example.



My question to the minister is very specific. When can they expect that a decision will be made as to whether or not the request will be approved? What program is the government going to put in place that will address these needs? I am looking for a timeframe. When?



DR. STEWART: Yes, I appreciate, again, Mr. Speaker, the insistence of the honourable member for an exact date or a timeframe. I cannot give an exact date of when our deliberations will be concluded because I cannot predict what some of the other players in the deliberations will require in terms of information or a decision. I will say this, however, that I do appreciate the attention of the honourable member opposite to this issue and I will reassure him and reassure those who are so very committed to this issue, that we will work very hard to get the program that we will decide on in place as quickly as possible for the benefit of all those affected.



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



HEALTH: MARCH OF CONCERN (C.B.) - ATTENDANCE (MIN.)



MR. ALFRED MACLEOD: Mr. Speaker, my question, too, is for the Minister of Health. I think the Minister of Health will be very happy to hear that I indeed was in Cape Breton on the weekend.



AN HON. MEMBER: Very helpful.



MR. MACLEOD: Very, very helpful. I attended a meeting and I know that the Minister of Health (Interruption) That's a good point. We are supposed to be in Cape Breton and we are supposed to be attending meetings and the member for Cape Breton South should keep that in mind.



MR. SPEAKER: That's out of order. That's out of order.



MR. MACLEOD: I attended a meeting that was held in Cape Breton South. (Interruptions) I know that the minister can't speak for the other members and I wouldn't expect him to, but I would like to know what pressing matter kept him away from the March of Concern of Health in Cape Breton last Sunday?



MR. SPEAKER: I don't know if that question is in order. If the honourable Minister of Health wishes to respond, he may.



HON. RONALD STEWART: Mr. Speaker, I have had more public meetings in Cape Breton than almost any other Health Minister known to mankind, I believe, in this regard. (Applause) I have always made myself as available as possible to those who would approach me with their particular concerns. There are times, however, that either personal commitments or commitments in terms of my position here would not permit me to attend very important meetings and I would beg the indulgence of the honourable member opposite to understand that.



MR. MACLEOD: My next question, Mr. Speaker, is to the Minister of Health. There were 3,000 people there that wanted to know where the minister was, but that is beside the point, I guess, in his opinion. It was recently reported though that at a health care meeting in his own constituency that a number of plain-clothes policemen were there to provide security for the minister. Could the minister indicate who arranged and who paid for those people at this meeting?



MR. SPEAKER: I would rule that type of question out of order. We never had questions like that in this House in the 25 years that I have been here. (Interruptions)



A new question, the honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.



COMMUN. SERV.: DEBRA STEVENS - COMPENSATION NEGOTIATIONS



MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: I would like to - as things settle down a bit, it is just like me to get up here to calm things down - I was going to address one to the Minister of Health, but I will take the heat off here for a moment. I would like to direct a question through you to the Minister of Community Services, Mr. Speaker. You and certainly the minister will recall that a review report was delivered to the public in December of last year on the matter of the Lunenburg Family and Children's Services Agency and the people who were victimized as a result of actions and inactions by the agency and the government.



At that particular time, Mr. Speaker, the minister apologized to the victims; in particular he indicated the Stevens family. Subsequent to that, there were some meetings with government lawyers and lawyers of the victims to try to reach some resolve to the question of compensation. Subsequent to that there was a mediation process which started in July, which has been called off as of October. We are still almost a year away and nothing has been resolved. The victims of this matter, in particular the Stevens family, have gone through an awfully agonizing process without a resolve. I would like to ask the minister, could he perhaps explain why it is that Debra Stevens, Clayton and Ryan were subjected to this kind of a process if in fact the minister knew all the time that the mediation process wouldn't happen? Why did they get involved in a process . . .



MR. SPEAKER: All right. You have asked your question, the minister is ready to respond.



MR. CHISHOLM: . . . that didn't come to a resolve, Mr. Speaker?



HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, that honourable member is correct, there was a report received on the matter last December that we commented on publicly. It indicated that the system had failed the victims in that particular situation.



While there was a delay getting all the applications for compensation after a period of time, we declared at the end of April of this year that we would hope that they would all be before us. Later, Mr. Speaker, there was a dispute mechanism resolution process entered into where there were two lawyers that really were engaged by the department to meet with the lawyers of those people who had laid complaints before us. It never did evolve into true mediation. It was involved in a premediation process out of which, fortunately, I am happy to say, came to a successful resolution on behalf of two victims.



So the member is not correct in saying that there was a total failure. In fact, I feel very positive that that was a good result, that addressed the concerns of two people who had suffered abuse. While it was discontinued on the recommendation of those persons involved, it has now moved into the courts and as the member would know, I am unable to comment on other matters relative to that.



MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I think I made it clear in my previous question that the failure was in the fact that Debra Stevens, Clayton Henderson and Ryan Henderson, two direct victims and their mother, were not satisfied and the matter was not resolved. In fact, it was the insurers of the agency that put a halt to the mediation. I would like to ask the minister if he could please explain to the members of this House why it was that this mediation process was originally initiated if, in fact, the government did not have control over it. Why did they bring Debra Stevens, Clayton and Ryan into this process when, in fact, it doesn't appear they had control over it?



DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I am not quite clear on the question as to what the control of the process means in the words of the member. Also, the halt to the process was not brought about by the insurance companies. I thought most fair-thinking people would want to proceed in the area that would give less trauma to the victims and that was the purpose of proceeding with the premediation. The fact that the insurance companies did not come to the table of that premediation is another issue and that I believe is what the member is referring to. But that was a reasonable avenue to pursue in the opinion of officials in our department and the minister. As I said, we were able to come to a satisfactory resolution with two members. I think it is very positive that for those people now, the issue surrounding compensation relative to the Department of Community Services has been resolved.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Premier.



HON. JOHN SAVAGE (The Premier): Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure as a Welsh-born Canadian to introduce, in the Speaker's Gallery, a Miss Melody Blackburn of Swansea, Wales, who is a National Health Service Administrator visiting and studying the health care system in Nova Scotia. Perhaps we could extend the normal courtesy. (Applause)



MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, my final supplementary to the Minister of Community Services is, we are talking about a mediation process initiated by the government. My question to the minister is, why would you initiate a mediation process unless you were prepared to follow through with it and get resolve? I will table a letter from the co-mediator dated October 18th which clearly indicates that the mediation process fell through because one of the participants was not in attendance. I will also table a letter of October 24, 1995, to the lawyer for Debbie Stevens, Clayton Henderson and Ryan Henderson that explains in more detail that process. My final question is again to the minister, what confidence could any Nova Scotian have now in dealing with this department in any proposed mediation process when they have already seen that the government engaged in a mediation process but failed to follow through because of some unforeseen event?



[3:15 p.m.]



DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I think the last phrase that the member used really demonstrates his lack of knowledge and perhaps even my lack of knowledge as to what actually proceeded in that matter. There was an agreement amongst all people that they would not comment on the premediation and the mediation process. Whatever reason it was discontinued is a matter of those persons involved and they were represented as they choose.



I think the process was worthy of a trial. It did resolve two issues that were before them and I think that is very positive. The other matters before the courts will have to take their due process. Those are the rights of any Nova Scotians if they are dissatisfied with any part of that process, that they can go to the courts and that is the matter.



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





MUN. AFFS. - C.B. REG. MUN.: DEFICIT - ACTION PLAN



MR. ALFRED MACLEOD: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Municipal Affairs. I wonder if the minister can confirm that an agreement has been reached with Mayor Coady of the Cape Breton Regional Municipality today concerning the $15 million debt and a solution to that problem?



HON. SANDRA JOLLY: Mr. Speaker, I can confirm that a meeting was held this morning with my staff, myself, Mayor John Coady and staff from the Cape Breton Regional Municipality. We have come to an agreement on a principle of action, a plan of action and that is something that Mayor Coady is now taking back to his Council. Yes, we had a discussion and we have been able to come to an understanding. A plan of action has been put forward and we hope that it will certainly solve the difficulty that the Cape Breton Regional Municipality finds itself in at the moment.



MR. MACLEOD: Mr. Speaker, again to the Minister of Municipal Affairs. I would ask the minister, would she provide the taxpayers of the Cape Breton Regional Municipality with the details of this agreement by tabling it here in the House today?



MS. JOLLY: Mr. Speaker, I think my wording was, and I would ask the honourable member to understand, a plan of action. We have come to a plan of action that we think would be beneficial. I can tell you that both myself and the mayor agreed that he should go back and speak to his council first. The mayor came up and spoke with myself and our staffs have agreed, but the mayor wanted to have an opportunity to speak to his council before any information was released.



MR. MACLEOD: Mr. Speaker, how much money is the province going to put into this solution?



MS. JOLLY: Mr. Speaker, as I have said quite clearly, there is a plan of action that we have agreed to in a meeting this morning. The mayor asked to have an opportunity to present that to his council and I think he should have every right to do that.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.



COMMUN. SERV.: COMPASS PROGRAM - COST-BENEFIT ANALYSIS



DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Community Services. In June 1994, the minister held a press conference and announced a training program that would help social assistance recipients get back to work. Can the minister indicate whether or not he has completed a cost-benefit analysis on the Compass Program that was announced at that time?



HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, we have some preliminary figures and there is a report that is in the process of being prepared by an independent evaluator. We will have, probably within the next couple of weeks, some initial reports. I am not free to release it at this time and I have not seen it myself. I know it will be available and it is very positive. Some areas in some parts of the Compass Program we have actually achieved 58 per cent to 60 per cent of people working and we will have the figures that will be available with the cost of the program and the net value both to the province and to the municipal units. It has been a very positive program, it has worked through the employment resource centres and it is really a great program.



DR. HAMM: Mr. Speaker, again, to continue with the minister. On September 11th my office sent a freedom of information application to his department specifically requesting information on the costs and the benefits of the program. We were advised: We have estimated the cost of locating, retrieving, producing and preparing the record is $120.



In view of the fact now that the minister has preliminary information and within two weeks a report will be available, would the minister undertake to release that information to us when it becomes available, and without a cost of $120? I believe it is in the public interest that that information be known.



DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I thank the honourable member, the Leader of the Opposition, for that question. To me, just here today, I see no problem with that. I would point out that the problem with releasing some of the earlier requests and the amounts of materials that were involved may be some confidential issues. Now, of course, in any report that would be screened out and it would be available, so I would make that commitment that that would be available to the House in some form of a report.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Citadel.



JUSTICE: LEGAL AID - RESIDENTIAL QUALIFICATIONS



MR. TERENCE DONAHOE: My question is for the Minister of Justice. The minister will be aware, as I know you, Mr. Speaker, and many Nova Scotians are, that there have been recent media reports regarding a matter which ended up in the courts here, in the Province of Nova Scotia, involving a man from Port Coquitlam who is accused of second degree murder. The reason the story reached us here in Nova Scotia is that that man was able to have access to the Nova Scotia legal aid system in his attempts to secure court orders relative to the custody of his three children. At the same time, Nova Scotian residents and taxpayers, namely the aunt and uncle of the children in question and the sister and brother-in-law of the deceased woman who was killed in British Columbia, were obligated to spend something in excess of $30,000 to defend against the action brought relative to the custody of these children.



I wonder if the minister might be prepared to indicate, knowing as I do that he announced yesterday that there would be and is to be a review of the legal aid system, would the minister give an indication today as to whether or not he believes that the circumstance which I have just now described is, in his view, a fair and equitable use of the Nova Scotia taxpayers' dollars within the context of the legal aid system?



HON. WILLIAM GILLIS: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member knows that the Legal Aid Commission is an independent body and doesn't take direction from me. I would assume that the person who did receive the help met the criteria of the commission and was granted that. On the other hand, the family that is paying their own legal costs, if they did apply, may not have been eligible for whatever reasons, but it really is a matter for the commission. If the member would like, I could make an inquiry of the commission but it is up to them, as an independent body, to deal with the matter.



MR. DONAHOE: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the minister's response and I understand the delicacy and the difficulty of the issue and I understand, having spent some time in the office which he now occupies, the independence of the commission. I also understand, as does the Minister of Justice and Attorney General, that until proven guilty the man who had access to the Nova Scotia taxpayers' money through the legal aid system is innocent.



It does, however - and I have had a number of contacts made with me relative to this matter - raise very real concerns with a considerable number of people. Following up on his closing remarks, I would ask the minister by way of supplementary, again referencing the study that he indicated he was about to embark upon which he announced yesterday, would the minister be prepared to ensure that those who will undertake the study of the legal aid system will address the criteria in the context of the very example which we have just now been discussing here - and I suggest that what we are discussing is persons charged with criminal offenses, persons who are not residents of Nova Scotia, who have access to the Nova Scotia legal aid system which, in turn, results in residents and taxpayers in Nova Scotia being put to an expense in excess of $30,000, forgive me for being so lengthy with it, Mr. Speaker but - would the minister put that kind of issue and related issues, particularly as they relate to residents, to those who will study the legal aid system?



MR. GILLIS: Mr. Speaker, I do not think it would be in any way interfering and inappropriate and I would be happy, through my officials, to bring this type of matter that was brought forward today by the honourable member, to the attention of the committee that is going to carry out the review of legal aid.



MR. DONAHOE: Mr. Speaker, just as a final supplementary, and relative to the legal aid review which the minister has announced in concert with Mr. Mark McCrea - Mr. McCrea is the Chairman of the Legal Aid Commission and is to be a member of the project review team - I wonder if the minister, if he hasn't already done so, would be prepared to table here today the request for proposals for the project management team which is to review the legal aid system. He indicated in his release yesterday that the request for proposals will be issued tomorrow. If they are issued, would the minister table them here in this House this afternoon?



MR. GILLIS: Mr. Speaker, I do not have the request for proposals with me. As some honourable members know, I carry too much paper around in my briefcase and probably have my arm pulled out of shape, but I would be happy to obtain copies of the request for proposals and make them available to the honourable member as soon as possible. It may not be today but certainly tomorrow.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Citadel on a new question.



JUSTICE: ATL. POLICE ACADEMY (P.E.I.) - FUNDING



MR. TERENCE DONAHOE: Mr. Speaker, my question, again, is to the Minister of Justice. It has been reported in the news in recent times, that the Minister of Justice has indicated, and I think the word attributed to him was that he was "toying" with the idea of pulling out of the Atlantic Police Academy in Summerside. I wonder if the minister would be prepared to confirm to this House today whether or not he and his department and the government of which he is a member are, in fact, considering removing funding from the police academy which currently serves all four Atlantic Provinces?



HON. WILLIAM GILLIS: Mr. Speaker, I am not sure that I used the word toying. It may have come up in discussions. I would just say what I have said in response to inquiries is, there is some concern about the curriculum and the quality of the product of the police academy and as a result of that a study is being carried out by Holland College into the quality of that program and I think it is important that our department look carefully at the results of that when it is available, I guess by January.



MR. DONAHOE: Mr. Speaker, the various news reports in relation to this particular issue indicated, at least some days ago - and circumstances may have changed and that is what I would like to determine - or up to some days ago, this Attorney General and the Nova Scotia Minister of Justice had not offered or provided any advice or notice to the Attorney General of the Province of Prince Edward Island that Nova Scotia was contemplating in any way the potential that Nova Scotia might remove itself from the arrangements relative to the police academy. This is, of course, an Atlantic Provinces initiative and I would ask the minister today whether or not he has, in fact, made it known to his partner, Attorneys General and Ministers of Justice, that Nova Scotia is concerned about its participation in the police academy, is anxious to see the assessment of the curriculum and is going to make judgments as to whether or not they will continue as partners in the academy?



[3:30 p.m.]



MR. GILLIS: Our partners know that we are concerned and the other provinces are concerned. But a two year notice is required to quit the program by the Department of Justice, the Province of Nova Scotia and the program. We haven't given that notice and we would certainly think it is premature to consider doing that until we get the results of the study, which we expect in January. So, they know we are concerned and we haven't given notice.



MR. DONAHOE: Mr. Speaker, I wonder, then, to conclude the matter with the Minister of Justice, if he would give an undertaking to me here today that he will table here in this House the copy of the study, which is now current and which he just a moment ago, I think, indicated should be completed in or around the month of January. That is the study which, I understand, will address the quality and efficacy of curriculum and other matters. Will the minister give me the undertaking that he will table or, in some other fashion, make public that study as soon as it is received by him and his department?



MR. GILLIS: Mr. Speaker, as I understand it, the study is being carried out by Holland College itself, it is not my study. If I have the right, if Holland College gives me that right or if the other provinces agree that it be done, I don't have a problem with that. In fact, I stand for full disclosure in this type of matter. But I would not make the commitment until we could check with the institution, which is actually carrying out the study and the other provinces, that that be done. But if that is so, then I would certainly be glad to make the information available.



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



JUSTICE - JAILS: PRIVATIZATION - PLANS



MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, my question is also for the honourable Minister of Justice. On Monday past, I met with a large number of members of Local 480 of the correctional workers of Nova Scotia. I know the Local 480 invited different members of the government, including some members of the front benches. I know they are very busy people and they couldn't attend that meeting, and that is fine, that is understandable. (Interruption) And yes, the honourable Leader of the Third Party was there.



President Ed Foulkes and the representatives of the correctional workers in Nova Scotia are very concerned about the privatization of the correction centres across the province; I believe there are nine. I wonder if the minister could update the people of this province on the province's move toward the privatization of prisons?



HON. WILLIAM GILLIS: I don't know how appropriate it is to get into too much detail in Question Period, but I first want to say that the implication was made at the beginning of the question by the honourable member that members of the Treasury benches would not meet with Mr. Foulkes.



MR. TAYLOR: I didn't say that . . .



MR. GILLIS: Mr. Speaker, there was an implication that members of the Treasury benches would not meet with Mr. Foulkes. (Interruptions) I want to make it perfectly clear, not only did I meet with Mr. Foulkes, as Minister of Justice, I had an extended meeting with him and reps of each of the nine institutions on behalf of the government, just so he knows. (Applause)



Mr. Speaker, in terms of possible privatization, because corrections is very expensive and we are trying to live within our means, we are spending $18 million a year on corrections, we have to trim back about 10 per cent, which is almost $2 million, and we have to find various ways to do that. One of the ways is looking at the possibility of possible privatization in terms of building a facility or facilities, or possibly operating a facility or facilities. But we are at a very preliminary stage and we are going to approach this very carefully and properly.



MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I did not say that members of the front benches would not meet, I said they are very busy people.



Again, I go to the Minister of Justice. I understand that a delegation of government officials went down to the southern United States and viewed some of the prisons down there. I also understand that H. & H. W. Consultants - whoever they may be - are going to make some recommendations to the Minister of Justice. I have also been told that members of Local 480, the correctional officers are very concerned and what they are saying, Mr. Speaker, is that the Americans are very fine people but their attitudes and, in fact, their methods, and some of their practices, and their outlook, their perspective, are just a little different than we have here in Nova Scotia. My question for the Minister of Justice is simply this, is he going to base his decision on the American experience?



MR. GILLIS: Mr. Speaker, we will use all experiences as we examine the possibilities of privatization. There was a group, it is true, so we would get facts and sometimes they are a little dangerous but we should know what we are doing and thinking about, but there was a group that went to the United States to study. There aren't any in Canada to speak of, in terms of private facilities so we had to go where they are and that was next door, to the U.S. That delegation was a total of five people and it included the President of the Nova Scotia Government Employees Union as well as another senior official from the union. So it was a 3/2 split so there was full information.



We also have a consultant who is simply advising us as we proceed along so we don't make any missteps and that is a Canadian firm. In fact, I think they have a good presence in Nova Scotia.



MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, with all respect, the Minister of Justice is talking out of both sides of his mouth. He is saying out of one side of his mouth that he is (Interruptions) philosophically opposed to the privatization of our correctional centres and out of the other side of his mouth he is saying that politically it might be the right move. As the Minister of Municipal Affairs says, you can't have it both ways.



MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. We have to have a question. This is a lecture. I don't want a lecture, I want a question.



MR. TAYLOR: My question is, Mr. Speaker, does the Minister of Justice, at this very - as he calls it - preliminary stage, have any idea how many Nova Scotian correctional officers will be put out of work as the result of his privatizing that service?



MR. GILLIS: Mr. Speaker, as I said, we have made no decision and we don't answer hypothetical questions. There may not be any correctional officers put out of work. There may be none put out of work. However, it may be that in management and in the operations of the facilities and in buying supplies we could do a better job, sharpen our pencils on behalf of the taxpayers, operating them better and keep them in the public sector.



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



EXCO: EXPENSE CLAIMS - FILING PROCEDURE



MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I would like to direct a question through you, sir, to the Premier. The Premier, of course, will be very familiar with the Guidelines for Monthly Reporting of Ministerial Expenses that he tabled in June 1994 which said that, "Ministerial expenses will be reported regardless of the method by which they are paid,". "Expenses for travel outside Canada will be separately shown and identified by trip so the total cost of each trip outside Canada will be reported.". My question to the Premier is quite simply, why isn't that being followed diligently by the Premier and all of his ministers?



THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I would have to hear the specific complaints before I answer that.



MR. HOLM: Well, of course, the Premier will know that his knuckles got rapped in newspaper articles in September about his trip to China. Following that, the Premier very quickly filed a revised statement for that on, I think, September 18th. But, the Premier never filed to disclose the costs of the KLM tickets on his trip to Switzerland. My question to the Premier is, why has the Premier not disclosed the cost of those for that January trip?



THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I will try to find the cost of the tickets. As far as I know, we have tickets that were available under the subagreement. But I have no difficulty in finding them. I regret that they were not filed at the time. Obviously it is a matter of importance.



MR. HOLM: From the freedom of information request, we know that the cost of the tickets for the Premier and Alan Steele were $5,655.28. We know the cost but you shouldn't have to go to freedom of information. Those tickets, under that KLM agreement were paid for by the taxpayers of the Province of Nova Scotia. I would like to ask the Premier, again, why it is that that kind of information that is required by the guidelines is not filed as is required by the Premier and all others? I will send the Premier a copy of the freedom of information request.



MR. SPEAKER: Well, Beauchesne states that a question that has previously been answered, ought not to be asked again. So, we have heard that question before and the Premier gave his answer to it.



The honourable member for Kings North.



AGRIC. - KINGS CO.: SERVICE CENTRES - CLOSURE



MR. GEORGE ARCHIBALD: My question to the Minister of Agriculture, through you, Mr. Speaker, as you know agriculture in Kings County is very important, it is over $100 million a year. It is also very important in Pictou County. We had two agricultural service centres that were used for hiring seasonal, casual employees for the farm labour market. Both of those offices have been closed by the federal government. I want to know what your Department of Agriculture is going to do to help alleviate the difficulty in the coming growing season?



HON. WAYNE GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the honourable member for his question. Both of the offices, in Pictou and in Kentville, that were operated by the federal Human Resources Department have been closed. We have certainly been in contact with the federal Minister of Human Resources, along with the Federation of Agriculture. We certainly have been providing the federal minister of the importance to continue this valuable service to both these areas and we will continue to bring this again to the federal minister's attention, how valuable this service is.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Citadel.



JUSTICE: ATL. POLICE ACADEMY (P.E.I.) - FUNDING



MR. TERENCE DONAHOE: Mr. Speaker, I would like to go back through you to the Minister of Justice. As he gave me his last answer a moment or two ago about the Holland College study situation relative to the Atlantic Police Academy, he left me a little bit uncertain. On the one hand, in answer to part of my question, the Minister of Justice tells the taxpayers of Nova Scotia that the decision this government will make as to what it will or will not do, relative to its continued participation in the Atlantic Police Academy, will depend upon a study. He said that the study is now underway and that the study will be ready in or around January. I sat down and thought that is fine, there is going to be a study.



Then I asked the minister if he was prepared to table the study or, if we happen not to be in session, would he make it public when he receives it. At that time his answer was, well, this is Holland College's study, it is not really my study.



The point I want to make and the question I put to the Minister of Justice is, is the Minister of Justice going to make decisions and recommendations to the government of which he is a member on the basis of the Holland College study to which he has referred, or is he not?



HON. WILLIAM GILLIS: Mr. Speaker, Holland College operates the Atlantic Police Academy. All of the partners involved in contributing, the other provinces, including Nova Scotia, agreed that they wanted to be satisfied on certain concerns on the curriculum so Holland College agreed to do the study. Copies will be made available to the people who are paying the shot, who are paying the costs, including Nova Scotia. We will get a copy of it. We will look at it and we will make our decision.



The only point I was trying to make, because it is being done by Holland College, which is an independent institution, and the member is well familiar with inter-governmental relations, there are three or four provinces involved, there may be some problem in releasing it. I said that if it is possible, I will certainly release it, I have no problem. But it is not just the Nova Scotia Department of Justice carrying out an independent study of this institution, the institution there is carrying it out and it has partners that are the other provinces. So if it is available, I will be glad to give it to you.



MR. DONAHOE: Will the Minister of Justice indicate whether or not any amount of the Nova Scotia taxpayers' money is being expended to make it possible to have the study undertaken?



MR. GILLIS: Mr. Speaker, I don't know in detail. I don't think so, I think it is money of Holland College itself that is carrying it out, but I can check. The department could make an inquiry through Holland College to see if any of the money that we earmarked to support the academy is going to that. I don't really know. It was just felt by all the partners that a study should be done, because of the concerns. If some of our contribution is used to make sure that we get a quality product and get police officers who do a good job, I think it is money well spent. I don't know if that is specifically being done or if Holland College are using some other pool of money they have to do the study but the study is being done and that is important.



MR. DONAHOE: Well the fact of the matter is, Mr. Speaker, as the Minister of Justice has acknowledged and all Nova Scotians are well aware, considerable Nova Scotia taxpayers' dollars are spent in support of the efforts, activities and the programming at the Atlantic Police Academy at Holland College. I ask the minister, one final time, that as long as the taxpayers of Nova Scotia are paying anything to participate in the activities and the programming of the Atlantic Police Academy, will the Minister of Justice acknowledge that that is justification enough to require him to make public the study that is to be ready and finished some time in January? As long as the taxpayers' money of Nova Scotia is in the program then they are entitled to see the study.



[3:45 p.m.]



MR. GILLIS: Mr. Speaker, the reason we are taking an interest in this and looking at the whole matter is that we want to make sure we get a good product and value for our money. That honourable member who was a senior minister for 15 years knows there are protocols in dealings with other provincial governments or, in some cases, the federal government. There are certain agreements, and you have to have agreement from the other jurisdiction to release certain information. If we can release it, if there is no problems with Prince Edward Island and the other two Atlantic Provinces, he is more than welcome to it. We are not trying to hide anything, we just want a good police officer on the beat to help protect Nova Scotians.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings North.



HUMAN RES. - CONTRACTS: CONFIDENTIALITY - VARIANCE



MR. GEORGE ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Human Resources. The question is, under the Freedom of Information Act, on April 28, 1995, we requested from the Premier's office a copy of the employment contract for his Chief of Staff. On July 21st, we received notification from the Human Resources Department that the request had been denied because contracts of this nature were confidential between the parties. On the other hand, we did receive the contract for the position of Commissioner for the Health System Reform. We have received that contract so it wasn't confidential. Could the minister please explain why, on one hand, there is a confidential contract that cannot be released and, on the other hand, the contract is not confidential and it can be released? Could you tell me why there seems to be a double standard?



HON. JAY ABBASS: Mr. Speaker, I would like to check with the person within my department who oversees requests for freedom of information releases and report back to the House and to the honourable gentleman opposite.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou West.



ERA: N.S. FILM DEV. CORP. - SOUND STAGE



MR. DONALD MCINNES: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of the Economic Renewal Agency. On February 15th, in the Red Room, the Premier announced that the government was committing $0.5 million toward the cost of a film sound stage. Since that time, Electropolis Studio Incorporated was selected by the Film Development Corporation as a preferred supplier for that first Nova Scotia film sound stage, and it was expected the sound stage would be up and running soon. Could the minister bring us up-to-date whether negotiations are on and when that sound stage will be in place?



HON. ROBERT HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, I think that is a good question because it once again highlights not only the concern but the commitment for the cultural enterprise industry in this province by the Premier and by this government. The answer to the question is that negotiations would not be a good word to describe what is happening now; what we are dealing with now is the preparation of a business plan, one of the requirements for the funding to be put in place. I understand that the principals involved are attempting to meet deadlines, the private sector principals, to put that business plan together.



MR. MCINNES: Mr. Speaker, I am just not sure if I understood the minister's answer, he is working very hard to get the sound stage in place but I don't think he indicated as to whether it would be December, April, next fall or whatever, could the minister give us some indication as to when, and that is to be down on Lower Water Street where the old power plant was?



MR. HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, the question is a precise critical path or time line on the completion of this. Unfortunately, I can't be specific because the completion of the task at hand is with other parties than the Government of Nova Scotia at the moment and I am sure they are proceeding with all urgency.



MR. MCINNES: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate if negotiations are ongoing and it is difficult to give a precise answer. We hope and I think it is important that that sound stage get in place.



Could the minister tell me or table today in the House, or at his earliest convenience, the number of companies that are awaiting completion of that sound stage, so that we can again have some movies made in Nova Scotia?



MR. HARRISON: Well to the best of my ability, I will be pleased to do that. The Film Development Corporation is an active cornerstone element of the growing film industry in this province, as are the film producers and video producers.



If I am privy to such information, either through that corporation or through other means, I would be happy to provide the honourable member with that detail.



MR. SPEAKER: On a new question, the honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.



TRANSPORT. - COL.-MUSQUODOBOIT VALLEY: ROADS - REPAVE



MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the honourable Minister of Transportation and Communications. Arguably the provincial constituency of Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley has the most kilometres of roads, when compared to the other 51 constituencies, but yet three construction seasons have come and gone since this government came to power and the constituency of Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley hasn't seen one kilometre, in total, of repaving. Mr. Speaker, I would advise the Premier that perhaps he would even like to come with me on a little jaunt up through the Old Guysborough Road.



My question to the Minister of Transportation and Communications is simply this, why?



HON. RICHARD MANN: I think what he meant was why not? Mr. Speaker, as I have said in this House many times, we have attempted, as best we can, to look at the needs of Nova Scotia with respect to highways, yes, using a matrix, using engineering criteria predetermined. That honourable member opposite, as I said to him last night in the Chamber, I think I can recall the last session here in the House when a group of school children came in from Inverness. He screamed at me that day in front of those school children to do the roads in Inverness County, that they deserved to have their roads done.



I have letters from him about roads in Pictou County; I have letters about roads in Parrsboro. Every place he went and met with a group or had a meeting, he wrote a letter asking me to fix those roads.



Well, I am happy to report to the House that most of the letters he has written about the roads he has wanted done have been accommodated. (Applause)



MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, it is certainly much better to understand a little than to misunderstand a lot. Never before, or at least in recent time, has a constituency been shut out. I have a constituency by constituency breakdown; in 1988 Richmond County, and I will table this . . .



MR. SPEAKER: I don't want to hear an extensive history lesson now, please, the question.



MR. TAYLOR: The question is simply this, when will the minister table his much talked about matrix, relative to highway priorization in this province? When will the minister table it? We have requested it numerous times.



MR. SPEAKER: All right, we have heard the question, now let's hear the answer.



MR. MANN: You know, Mr. Speaker, the honourable member very flippantly makes reference to how much work is done in each riding. Well sometimes that is a bit misleading. There are different programs in the department; there is the repaving of the 100-Series Highway, we have the SHIP Agreement, we have the repaving of trunk roads, we have the repaving of county roads, we have paving new roads, we have cost-sharing with municipalities, we have cost-shared programs with cities.



For example, if you check the western district of this province and the cost-sharing with municipalities, you will find this year that I believe each and every bit of work done in the entire western district was in the riding of the member for Kings West. He doesn't stand up and tell us about this. The number one priority in the province, I think on the trunk roads, was in the riding of the member for Halifax Atlantic. He doesn't tell us about that.



There are roads that have been done in Pictou County, in the riding of the member for Pictou West. He doesn't stand up and yell about those. There has been a lot of work done in Sackville, in the riding of the Leader of the Third Party. He doesn't stand up and yell about those.



Mr. Speaker, for 15 years politics determined how roads were paved in this province and which roads were paved in this province. Remember the red, the green and the blue file folders. For 15 years ridings like Antigonish, the riding of the member for Cumberland South, Shelburne, those ridings were neglected and now an engineering criteria is applied to the needs of the province, a province that has 80 per cent of the seats belonging to one Party in this province. Does it surprise anybody that about 80 per cent of the work would end up in those ridings? Combine the neglect and combine the breakdown of the seats, it should not even surprise you. (Applause)



MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I noticed one or two of the government backbenchers not clapping. Can I presume that they did not receive any roadwork this summer?



The Minister of Transportation stood up in this House, just now, and deliberately mislead the House.



MR. SPEAKER: You cannot say that. That is out of order. Withdraw those words now.



MR. TAYLOR: My question is simply this.



MR. SPEAKER: Withdraw the words, "deliberately misled the House".



MR. TAYLOR: Okay, I will withdraw the words, Mr. Speaker, but I should enlighten you that the riding of Cape Breton The Lakes from 1988 until 1992, had the fifth highest expenditure and then it was in an Opposition riding. The riding of Cumberland North had nearly $40 million spent in an Opposition riding. Never before has a constituency been shut out like Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley and that member should be ashamed of himself because we have the highest volume of commercial traffic, we have eight large sawmills in our constituency.



MR. SPEAKER: I am not interested in the eight large sawmills.



MR. TAYLOR: It is absolutely despicable that the Minister of Transportation . . .



MR. SPEAKER: That is not a question, that is a tirade. Please sit down. Be seated.



MR. MANN: Those numbers probably include the Barra Strait Bridge that was counted four times, each in four elections (Applause) Tom McInnis's promise in 1978, the extension of Highway No. 125, still not done, four elections it was promised.





Mr. Speaker, you know, the member starting yelling one day about why the signs were coming down, Your Tax Dollars at Work. We had to take them down. The people in eastern Nova Scotia were infuriated because none of the signs had ever gone up east of New Glasgow, not one.



The members opposite chose the projects that were going to be done. Fair enough, it was their decision to make. On the SHIP agreement, Highway No. 104, they go on about priorities and yet when they sat down on April 1, 1993, maybe it was fitting that it was April Fool's Day, to hastily put together a SHIP agreement prior to the provincial election campaign, isn't it ironic that they left off Highway No. 104 western alignment? Isn't that special?



I have here a list of roads, the matrix, the roads that were done this year. You will see that with virtually very little exception, we followed the priorities established by the engineers across this Province of Nova Scotia. I am only too happy to table this today and if anyone wants an explanation of the few deviations from the priority list, we have a very good explanation for those, as well. (Applause)



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



OPPOSITION MEMBERS' BUSINESS



MOTIONS OTHER THAN GOVERNMENT MOTIONS



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Opposition House Leader.



MR. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Resolution No. 540.



Res. No. 540, re Mun. Affs. - Hfx. Metro Amalgamation: Costs Transition - Surveillance - notice given Nov. 8/95 - (Mr. A. MacLeod)



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Citadel.



MR. TERENCE DONAHOE: I am pleased to have the opportunity this afternoon to address Resolution No. 540. You will note, Madam Speaker, and good to have you in the Chair, that Resolution No. 540 addresses the issue of amalgamation and, more to the point, addresses the concerns which are being raised with increasing frequency and concern all across the province as to what the fate of the municipal taxpayers will be as we move in the direction of municipal amalgamation.



[4:00 p.m.]



You will note that the resolution, Madam Speaker, says, that "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;". This resolution, by the way, was tabled here in this House on November 8th and we have now had indications that the debt that may be faced by the municipal taxpayers in the new Cape Breton Regional Municipality might be $13 million to $15 million.



The Minister of Municipal Affairs met today, she says, with the mayor of the new municipality and they have worked out an action plan. She failed and refused to provide any detail to this House as to what kind of a settlement or action plan had been organized and, more to the point, had failed to make any indication to us here in this place today as to what the impact on the taxpayer in the new Cape Breton Regional Municipality will actually be. I am sure that we will find in the coming days that until we see some kind of an indication from this minister that she, having imposed that result upon the Cape Breton Regional Municipality in the fashion that she did, will, in fact, have made a commitment to ensure that there is no increase in the cost of municipal service and there is no increase in the cost of municipal taxes in Cape Breton.



The operative clause of the resolution which we address at this moment before you, Madam Speaker, makes reference to what went on in Cape Breton and it indicates that the mayor of that municipality had said publicly that Municipal Affairs policies and unrealistic transitional cost estimates have largely contributed to the financial mess facing Cape Breton taxpayers. It goes on to say that "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;", then the operative clause of the resolution I address now reads as follows: "Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Municipal Affairs take immediate steps to ensure metro area . . .", meaning Halifax, Dartmouth, Bedford, Halifax County, ". . . taxpayers are not subjected to the same ugly and unexpected surprise three months after metro amalgamation comes into effect.", here.



Well, I am not at all assured, Madam Speaker, nor are the tens of thousands of municipal taxpayers here in the metropolitan region that they have any reason at all to feel any comfort. It was not Cape Breton taxpayers but rather it was this minister's absolute disregard for her responsibilities and her recklessness and her inattention to what was going on and her utter failure to put into place adequate controls and measures which resulted in the abysmal mess now faced by the municipal taxpayers in Cape Breton and that is why she is now required to have the kinds of meetings she is having with Mayor Coady and with others.



If that is the case, and I believe it to be the case - that it is this minister's inattention and recklessness - I ask what faith metro residents and taxpayers can have in the amalgamation process which this minister now is allowing to drift along without her taking proper care, control and attention. I think already metro residents have very real reason to have concern. Five months before the amalgamation is final, Madam Speaker, we are already hearing about cost overruns in the amount of $3.8 million. There was press coverage as recently as today to the effect that the metro municipal taxpayers may well face overruns of about $3.8 million. What is a little bit frightening about this is that that is about the way in which the concerns that have come to be of near disaster proportions in Cape Breton, started when they in Cape Breton started learning about their financial mess. Every day the cost there went higher and higher to a grand total, which stands today at something, as I have said, near a whopping $15 million. By all accounts and as far as we know, particularly in light of the minister's refusal to give us any information in this House today, perhaps still counting.



Now in addition to the $3.8 million, which is referenced in media reports today, we are also aware, Madam Speaker, as I know you will be as an MLA representing a metro riding, that the City of Dartmouth is saddled with something in the order of $1 million of social services shortfall as a result, if I understand the situation correctly, but more to the point, as a result, on the basis of statements made by the City of Dartmouth, that shortfall of $1 million in the city, which the Minister of Municipal Affairs represents, that shortfall is the result of this government imposing a cap on social assistance funding several months after that municipality had set its budget for the year. Once again, there was no consultation and no recourse and it is simply (Interruption) Well, if it is not true, the Minister of Community Services can stand up and take his place in this debate and tell me it is not true and tell the citizens of Dartmouth it is not true, if that is the case.



It is the case, however, Madam Speaker, that this Minister of Municipal Affairs claims no responsibility for the problems these amalgamating municipalities are grappling with. What a total and complete and 100 per cent abdication of any responsibility. If she is not responsible in any way, shape or form for any of that, what in the name of Heaven is she doing masquerading around the Province of Nova Scotia and calling herself the Minister of Municipal Affairs. What does she do as Minister of Municipal Affairs? She goes to tea parties and has little clam bakes with municipal representatives. What does she do?



MADAM SPEAKER: Honourable member, I think you are getting a little far-fetched with the tea parties and the clam bakes. So, if you would mind just trying to come back to the debate.



MR. DONAHOE: Well, if I am getting a little far-fetched with clam bakes and tea parties, then perhaps this minister will stand up and tell us what, in fact, she is doing to ensure that the men and women whom you represent, Madam Speaker, and the men and women I represent, the families we represent as MLAs in the Halifax metro region, are not going to be saddled with the kind of financial mess which now faces the municipal taxpayers in the Cape Breton Regional Municipality. This minister twiddles her thumbs and does nothing.



"No idea of merger cost in metro, Jolly admits", the Halifax-Chronicle Herald, November 15th. Sandy Jolly - I think that is the Minister of Municipal Affairs - "Sandy Jolly appears to have given metro's merger czar a blank cheque and stuck taxpayers with the bill. The Municipal Affairs minister said Tuesday she has no idea how much it will cost to amalgamate the four metro-area governments. `I don't have that amount,' she said. She also acknowledged that merger co-ordinator Bill Hayward has, in effect, no boss.".



Well, it was that very point that this Opposition attempted to make when we debated the legislation which incorporated the Halifax regional municipality, which was made law May 19, 1995. That law, you will be aware, Madam Speaker, gave the Governor in Council, of which this minister is a member, the authority to appoint a person to be the co-ordinator of the regional municipality. That co-ordinator, against the wishes and the arguments of some of us in Opposition, was given this authority and responsibility, ". . . responsible for designing and implementing the administrative structure of the Regional Municipality.", and that co-ordinator, ". . . has all of the powers of the Council and of the board of police commissioners until the Council first takes office pursuant to this Act.".



Here we have it, "The Co-ordinator may, with the approval of the Minister, borrow such sums as may be required for the purpose of this Section and Sections 4 to 10, and the sums borrowed shall be repaid by the Regional Municipality in not more than five annual instalments, as determined by the Council.", approval of the minister, and, "All acts of the Co-ordinator have, upon the incorporation of the Regional Municipality, full force and effect, and shall be and be deemed to have been exercised by the Regional Municipality.".



That, Madam Speaker, points up the difficulty that we raised when we debated this legislation, the difficulty when we raised the Cape Breton Regional Municipality legislation and the difficulty that we raise when we are debating now, as we are in other phases of its process through this House, the regional municipalities generic legislation. The problem is this government is prepared to appoint coordinators and then simply say, go do your thing and we, as a provincial government, will assume no responsibility whatsoever and you can do as you please and run up what bills you please. We, the provincial government, now we will say, in legislation and do say in legislation, you just then, when it comes time, when the magic date comes around that the regional municipality takes effect, then you just simply tell the men and women who are the new regional council, by the way, ladies and gentlemen, the bill, the debt, the deficit, the amount you have to pay before you even start into your work is whatever it happens to be. In Cape Breton we are being told that it might be as much as $15 million.



I wonder if this minister has taken any steps, Madam Speaker, to curb the activities, or address in any way the activities of Halifax County. If I understand reports correctly, Halifax County has let something like $1 million worth of untendered contracts on the waste management strategy. I think that is true, I understand it to be true. What role or involvement, if any, did the Minister of Municipal Affairs play? Did she raise a cautionary note? Did she blow any whistles and say hold it now, excuse me, do you understand that you are guaranteeing that the men and women who will become the regional municipality members are going to be inheriting this particular municipal unit with that bill?



Further press reports say that Ms. Jolly, who has criticized pre-merger Cape Breton councils for overspending, took exception to suggestions that there are no spending controls on metro's merger coordinator, whom she appointed. Well, I don't see them in the legislation, I don't see them in any action taken by this particular minister. I believe that what I read in that news report which, if in fact, it was what Minister Jolly said, is made of the stuff which makes the grass grow greener. It just simply does not ring true.



But Ms. Jolly, the Minister of Municipal Affairs, Madam Speaker, imagine, she criticizes the pre-merger Cape Breton councils for overspending. Now we are in the situation where we are starting to see daily news reports that there is a very real possibility that there will be a substantial deficit faced by the new metro regional municipality when they take over. And has she raised any objection? Has she done anything to ensure that that amount, if indeed it is a deficit or debt amount, is within reasonable proportions? She has not at all.



Further press reports tell us that unlike city dwellers, and I refer again to the Halifax Chronicle-Herald, another article on November 15th, unlike city dwellers who might worry about traffic, noise and crumbling sidewalks, there is only one issue for the people of District 2 in the December 2nd regional government election, taxes. "We are taxed to death here, not only residentially but commercially, and we are not getting anything for what we are paying for, says Garth Isenor, who helps run the Isenor and Sons lumber yard.



I wonder if Minister Jolly has any answer for Mr. Isenor and his business when Mr. Isenor and his business realize there will be potentially very substantial debt raised by the time the municipality gets underway?



Again, on November 18 in the Halifax Chronicle-Herald, I read an article which indicates that Mr. Hayward, who is well known to me . . .



MADAM SPEAKER: Your time has expired, honourable member.



MR. DONAHOE: My time has expired?



MADAM SPEAKER: Yes, you started at 3:59 p.m.



MR. DONAHOE: I am at 3:59 p.m. and I have expired. Well, I have expired and, hopefully, this minister will expire and that the term of this government will expire but this municipality and Halifax metro deserve some straight answers from this minister as to what she is going to do to ensure that the new regional municipality is not saddled with unreasonable . . .



MADAM SPEAKER: Your time has expired, honourable member. Are there further speakers on this debate?



MR. DONAHOE: . . . expenditures and debts before they get down to their work when they take office. Thank you, Madam Speaker.



MADAM SPEAKER: I recognize the honourable Minister of Municipal Affairs.



HON. SANDRA JOLLY: Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise and have an opportunity to correct some of the misinformation that has been put forward not only by this member but by a number of members in his Party. I would have to say, Madam Speaker, I am surprised that generally in the House when we have a resolution that is put forward by a particular member, and this resolution was put by the MLA for Cape Breton West, Mr. Alfred MacLeod, I am surprised that the member for Halifax is speaking to it. Because Mr. MacLeod was here I would have thought Mr. MacLeod would have wanted to put forward his concerns that he expressed in the resolution, unless the honourable past Leader didn't think he was capable of handling the debate. Then I would suggest that that is why we have come forward with the member for Halifax Citadel.



[4:15 p.m.]



The member for Halifax Citadel in his final comments says that he wants straight answers. Madam Speaker, this province has been asking for straight answers from the Progressive Conservative Party for many years on the taxes and on the deficits that have been built up over a 15 year time period. We have been asking for straight answers on those for many years.



Let me go through just a bit in the short time that I have to deal with this very large issue. First, I want to say that I, the Minister of Municipal Affairs, did not invent amalgamation. Amalgamation had been studied for over 40 years in this province when you go back as far as the Graham Commission Report. This honourable member, through his Party, had put in in 1992 (Interruption). If the member would like to listen it would give me an opportunity to have a chance to deal with the resolution. I would very clearly do that.



Back in 1992, this member of the Party that was in government at the time commissioned a study to deal with amalgamation across the province. That is where the study came from, that is the study that we have been working on. That study that in 1992 this honourable member and his Party commissioned, had done and reported back, signified five areas for amalgamation, one of which is in effect as of August 1, 1995, and another one, the Halifax Municipality, which is coming forward on April 1, 1996. The amalgamation is not something that I have invented, it is something that has come forward from the previous government in a report that they had done in 1992.



MR. DONAHOE: And we support amalgamation. Now we want to know why your legislation is so crummy.



MS. JOLLY: Madam Speaker, the honourable member says he supports amalgamation but in actual fact I have seen these two Parties do everything they can to stop it because each time we put a bill in, and this is our third bill, what they have tried to do is tell us to slow down, you are moving too fast, there is too much change going on.



I want to tell you that the amalgamation is something that has come forward in the Cape Breton Regional Municipality. The resolution deals with two of them. Certainly in Cape Breton Regional Municipality we looked at eight units there, six of which were in a very difficult financial position. They were in a very difficult financial position. One of the ways that we could try to deal with the difficult situation that was there and keep local government in this area, if local government was to survive in this area, we had to move into amalgamation. A study had been completed and it was an ability to keep local government in the area.



He talks about the particular numbers in that area and he would suggest that the amalgamation has caused a $15 million deficit. This is part of the difficulty with where the speaker is looking at mixing apples and oranges. I have tried to be clear in Question Period on any number of times. There are a number of sets of numbers here. (Interruption) They are not really interested in hearing what the actual facts are, they are just interested in confusing and putting apples and oranges together.



When we look at the resolution that was brought forward, they say, "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;". The amount of debt that was brought into the Cape Breton Regional Municipality deals with numbers as of March 31st, it deals with numbers as of April 1st to July 31st and then the actual amalgamation occurred August 1st.



With the actual amalgamation on August 1st, what we are looking at is a one time cost of $4.6 million in order to deal with the amalgamation of that area dealing with the administrative costs, the building and technical enhancements that were required. It is a one time cost but what they don't bother to tell anybody is that there is an annual savings of $4 million that is available because of the amalgamation. Those are two very separate numbers. There is savings there of $4 million because of the amalgamation, on an annual basis, and there is a one-time cost of $4.6 million in order to do the transition from eight units into one unit. So, Madam Speaker, he would leave the impression that running eight units is less expensive or not as expensive as running one unit. I think we can see quite clearly there is a saving in having one unit.



The other numbers that he would bring into the equation, Madam Speaker, are numbers that have come forward from these eight units regardless of whether there was amalgamation or not. That is one of the issues that I think has to be made quite clearly: these eight units have had difficulty financially - six of them, I am sorry, Madam Speaker, not all eight - six of them have had an opportunity to, I think, have their financial situation finally addressed. It is in a very difficult way, I don't think anybody has disputed that but, in actual fact, we are having an opportunity to deal with the financial difficulties we have seen in that area. So I think it is important to note that there are a number of different numbers there, not just mixing them all into one kettle as the honourable member would like to do.



Madam Speaker, the transition costs within that Cape Breton Regional Municipality, as I have stated, are $4.6 million. Those are costs that will be incurred on a one-time basis.



Let me go further, Madam Speaker, when we look at where the honourable member was discussing the Halifax regional municipality. He would like to have some information on the Halifax regional municipality. He would suggest that there are significant cost overruns, that the Halifax regional municipality is in dire straits of folding, of collapsing because there are significant cost overruns.



Let us again look at the actual numbers. Madam Speaker, in the metropolitan area we are dealing with a $500 million operating budget. When you put in the boards, commissions, capital, you are dealing with a budget of almost $700 million. That is an ongoing budget that will be dealt with in the new Halifax metro municipality. Of that, and in the time period we are putting the amalgamation together, there has been a budget produced by the new staff of the metro municipality, as well as with Mr. Hayward who is the coordinator, that there will be an approximate cost of $13.8 million, a one-time cost, to deal with the transition, to bring forward computerized systems, administrative systems, to deal with the severances and early retirements of individuals.



Maybe the honourable member doesn't think we should deal with people in a fair and reasonable manner. Maybe we should not be expending that money on early retirement or severance pays. Maybe he would just suggest that they are all laid off and they just go on in whatever merry way they want. But, Madam Speaker, out of that $13.8 million, approximately $6.5 million will be dealt with in early retirement and severance pays. I think it is important to understand that.



Madam Speaker, out of this $13.8 million, we are also looking at - as he says, they are way over budget. They had budgeted, in a previous study that had been done, approximately $10 million to do the transition. That is what had been looked at - the amount we are looking at is $13.8 million; that is the budget that has come forward, so there has been an adjustment. But that adjustment has been made in the technical application of being able to put forward a much more solid administration system. We have four municipal units coming into one, so I think it is important that we look at those numbers.



The one thing that the honourable member declines to suggest or state in all his discussion is that there is still a $10 million annualized savings to be realized in the Halifax metropolitan area.



AN HON. MEMBER: Will the honourable member permit a question?



MS. JOLLY: No, I will not. The honourable member had his time to speak. I am taking my time to try and put out some of the other information that has not been put out to date.



So, Madam Speaker, as we have seen (Interruptions) The press release? I will be happy to table the press release. (Interruptions) Well, Madam Speaker, I will be happy to table the press release from the Halifax regional municipality. I will also be . . .



MADAM SPEAKER: Perhaps, Madam Minister, it might be appropriate that all speakers in this debate table their press releases that they have been referring to.



MS. JOLLY: Certainly, Madam Speaker, I would be happy to table that. The member asked if I would table the information on the $10 million savings. It is in a report. He quoted extensively from the press media. I have a press clipping here; it is exactly the same press clipping that the honourable member quoted from. At the very end of the press clipping, which the honourable member decided not to deal with or not to bring any discussion on, it says very clearly at the end that estimates of $10 million in annual savings as a result of amalgamation is still the operating estimate according to Mr. Meech.



So Mr. Meech did come forward with what he has, a budget with regard to the amalgamation, the one-time cost of amalgamation and in the press release, the same press release that the honourable member quoted from, there is the confirmation that the $10 million annualized saving is available with the amalgamation coming forward. So I think, Madam Speaker, those are very important issues to have understood and important numbers to try and have some clarification on.



If we look back, Madam Speaker, on amalgamation in general, there has been substantial discussion on amalgamation. We now in the Province of Nova Scotia, have three areas that are being amalgamated. We also not only have Cape Breton and Halifax which is mentioned in the resolution that we are debating here today, but we also have Queens County which is amalgamating two units April 1, 1996.



AN HON. MEMBER: On their own.



MS. JOLLY: That's right. Very much on their own. That is the understanding, I believe, the information that has been put forward, that they have an understanding of how amalgamation can be of benefit to them, that it will allow them to be a strong, regional government with a single local voice on economic development and on ways of dealing with the issues that taxpayers are concerned about.



Taxpayers, Madam Speaker, are the reason that many of these amalgamations are happening. It is the taxpayers who have asked for streamlined government, for a single voice on economic development, for a single voice from the business community and having an opportunity to deal with one set of by-laws, one set of rules and regulations and having the opportunity to have a single unit, to be able to work in.



We heard very clearly in Halifax, we don't need three industrial parks in Dartmouth, Halifax and the county competing against each other for business. We don't need that. What we need is one area competing for the business all the way through so that we can bring jobs to the metropolitan area and that we will have an opportunity to deal with the concerns of the taxpayers.



So, Madam Speaker, I think we have three already. We have three more municipal areas, three more counties, that are looking at amalgamation. That would be a total of 6 counties out of 18 counties that are in the Province of Nova Scotia, that see amalgamation as a direction, as a positive way to move. I think that is very important, that we look at those aspects and that we realize the steps that have come forward.



Madam Speaker, you have given me my signal that my time is up. I just want to say in closing . . .



MADAM SPEAKER: You have one more minute.



MS. JOLLY: . . . that the information that has been brought forward has been very informative on how we deal with amalgamation and how important amalgamation is. There is a recognition of this across the province which I think is important. The final thing that I would say, Madam Speaker, is if you do something important, there is bound to be criticism. We accept that. When you are doing important things, there is bound to be criticism. There is bound to be critics. If you don't like critics, then you shouldn't do something important. We are willing to put up with the critics because it is important for the children and for the future of the Province of Nova Scotia.



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



MR. JOHN HOLM: I want to tell you that if anybody wants me to table any of the things that I will refer to, there is my page, Madam Speaker, in terms of the quotes that I will be using. So if anybody wants my scribbled page of notes afterwards, they are welcome to them.



I want to congratulate the minister for being able to spend almost her full 15 minutes on her feet trying to defend the indefensible. Now she did a very good job filling up the time but I didn't really hear much back from the minister in many regards to the questions and the concerns that were raised.



I will concede a couple of points that the minister did make that were indeed accurate and indeed are fair and important to put on the table and to acknowledge. One, yes, in fact, what the Liberal Government is doing is carrying out the Tory plan that had been announced by Don Cameron back before the 1993 election, Madam Speaker. So yes, indeed, that is correct, that the minister is carrying forward with that plan, a plan, of course, that the Premier once called crazy. Secondly, Madam Speaker, I will also concede that some of the figures that have been used in terms of the amount of the cost, for example, in Cape Breton, are very much misleading. I acknowledge that and I have said that in this House, on many occasions. I have not been using the figure nor has my caucus of $15 million of costs of the amalgamation because we recognize and we acknowledge that there are different debts in each individual municipal unit that have been brought forward.



[4:30 p.m.]



MR. BRUCE HOLLAND: On a point of order, I have just picked up on something that the member has said. I sat through the minister's talk about change as well and I thought, if my memory serves me right, that we were using the report that was done by the previous government as a guideline to implement amalgamation. I noticed that he indicated that she had said that we are using the "Cameron plan" and that is not true. I would just like to make that point. (Interruption)



MADAM SPEAKER: I do not think that it is a point of order, it is more on the nature of an intervention.



MR. HOLM: I am sure that that is going to warm the hearts of many who heard it and give tremendous comfort to the people in Timberlea-Prospect to know that the report that the amalgamations are being based on is not the plan, they are just following the report.



However, whatever that means, I am not sure yet what the point was, but regardless, I want to say that in reality the minister is absolutely correct when she is talking about the debt amounts. It is not fair to say that all of the debt of the Regional Municipality of Cape Breton is as a result of the merger. That is fair, that is accurate, because there were debts that each individual municipal unit had that are being brought in. Just as it is fair to say that when the regional municipality in Halifax is created, there is going to be a debt and that all of that debt certainly is not going to be related to the cost of that new municipal unit being set up. Halifax City has debt, Dartmouth has debt, Bedford has debt and the county has debt and all of that debt is going to come into the big pot.



What we are talking about and what we try to use as figures are the startup costs that are being added to the debt that are being brought in. The minister will know that we have used $4.3 million, $4.5 million as a cost that is being imposed upon the people in Cape Breton in that regional municipality. The figures that we have used so far in metro is that there is a cost overrun, over the budget, of approximately $4 million that has to be borne by the taxpayers once that has been done.



There are a number of other items that I want to talk about. The minister has said, for example, and offered to table her press release which points out that there are going to be $10 million savings per year.



HON. SANDRA JOLLY: On a point of order, I said I would table the press release that the regional municipality had put out with regard to the numbers that they had brought forward as the budget. I tabled the press release, but what I spoke of was the press clipping which denoted the $10 million savings.



MADAM SPEAKER: I would rule that is more in the nature of clarification than a point of order.



MR. HOLM: What we will have to look at are the words as they are recorded in Hansard later on to see which interpretation is, in fact, correct. Regardless, what we do not have is any assurance that there is going to be any more reliability with what the projected savings are than what the costs of the amalgamation are going to be. We know in the metropolitan area that already it is approximately $4 million over what was budgeted. We also know that the Chief Executive Officer, who happens to be a very capable individual, for whom I have a great deal of respect, but he said trying to figure out the budget is like trying to pin down a moving target. Who knows what the final costs are going to be?



There are some costs that have been identified that now appear to be an overrun because they had not had the time to sit down and figure out what these kinds of costs are going to be. Yet, Madam Speaker, the minister and her department race on down the road, because even though the member for Timberlea-Prospect does not like to admit it, and members on the government benches do not like to admit it, basically, this government is following the model that was supported by the former Conservative Government and it was rejected resoundingly when Don Cameron tried to impose it.



I have, Madam Speaker, a number of very serious concerns with this legislation. It does not matter if we are talking about the Cape Breton bill or we are talking about the bill for the metro amalgamation or the one which we are not allowed to debate because it is before the Committee of the Whole House, but it deals with amalgamations across the rest of the province. I am not going to talk about that one, but I will talk about things that are common to all. One of them is lack of accountability. You know, the decision to amalgamate metro was not arrived at because the metro municipalities said, let's do it. They were working together and were already well on the road to establishing the one industrial commission. They were working on ways and, yes indeed, sometimes there needs to be, maybe, a little bit of encouragement to work on ways to better improve the sharing of services so they could reduce costs.



But you know, Madam Speaker, the government decided that they were going to amalgamate them. The government decided what the legislation was going to look like. The government decided what the structure of that municipality would be and that it would be one municipal unit. The government picked a co-ordinator. I don't care if the co-ordinator is super-person, the co-ordinator cannot possibly be on top of each and every thing that is going on, (Interruption) a very capable individual, but cannot possibly be on top of everything that is going on. This co-ordinator is given total, absolute power. The power of council to borrow, to hire, to make arrangements.



Do you know that there is a fundamental difference between what is being done across the province, with the exception of the Queens amalgamation. In the Queens amalgamation, the co-ordinator is not the czar, he is a partner. The municipal councils, Madam Speaker, have say and the co-ordinator only makes the final decisions if the councils of Liverpool and Queens County cannot agree. That is a powerful encouragement for them to agree because they do not want somebody outside imposing it upon them. But those choices are not given elsewhere. It is the co-ordinator and the co-ordinator alone who has the authority. Elected representatives were not even permitted to sit on the advisory council.



I am told by the member for Queens that in that amalgamation, the government has not even promised or announced whether or not it is going to live up to its commitment to those municipal units to establish the one-tiered provincial social services program that they understood was going to be put in place in return for them cooperating with the minister and going ahead with this amalgamation.



What these amalgamations have more to do with, Madam Speaker, is not supposed efficiencies, it is not about improving local government, it is finding ways for the Province of Nova Scotia to save dollars from its budget so that the Minister of Finance's budget and the 39 colleagues on the red team will supposedly be able to present a better provincial budget balance sheet when the next election rolls around.



The Cape Breton amalgamation had more to do with the province wanting to end emergency funding and have other municipal units pick up what had been the provincial responsibility than it had to do probably with anything else. Madam Speaker, in the metro area and across the province, we had service exchange that was supposedly going to come into effect and that was going to be balanced. The costs that the province picked up were supposed to equal the costs that they are passing to municipal units. I would dearly love to get an audit statement that would clearly point out which costs have been downloaded, whether that is in roads, policing and so on, to municipal units and to balance that with the costs that the province picks up from municipal units.



Of course, in those areas, in home care, the province runs around and they use those figures and they say, look at all the money we are putting into these services. When in reality, all they are doing is putting more provincial dollars in, instead of some that had been put in previously by municipalities. But it makes good politics and you can do great press releases with this type of information, Madam Speaker, when you don't provide the other side of the equation.



Here the minister appoints a co-ordinator, the co-ordinator, supposedly, develops a budget. The co-ordinator is responsible to the minister only but the minister takes no responsibility for what a co-ordinator does. The minister isn't involved with the budgets and she doesn't have overviews to ensure that the budgets are, in fact accurate, realistic and reasonable. If those budgets should happen to overrun, well, it is not my fault. It is not my budget, they are capable people doing it. But those capable people are accountable to no one. They aren't elected at the provincial level or the municipal level but you can put a shell over it and so it is not my fault if down the road the tax rates have to go up to pay for all these costs. What is the government's response? Pay it over five years, amortize it. So what if you have to pay a large interest rate, Madam Speaker? That is this government's response. It is ducking, hiding, trying to put through its agenda and pretend it has no responsibility whatsoever. That is extremely irresponsible and disrespectful to the citizens of this province and to the elected municipal level representatives.



Accountability and involvement involve municipal people in a meaningful way. Be accountable for the decisions that you make and, Madam Speaker, and I know that you are telling me that my time is up, and I have not even got through a fraction of my notes that are on my paper. It does, however, provide the government with an increased opportunity to offload, to download costs from the province to the municipality as the people in Dartmouth and other parts of the province are starting to find out.



MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable Opposition House Leader.



MR. RONALD RUSSELL: Madam Speaker, would you please call Resolution No. 607.



Res. No. 607, re Educ. - Standards: Assessment (Multi-Partite) - Create - notice given Nov. 16/95 - (Mr. J. Leefe)



MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable member for Queens.



MR. JOHN LEEFE: Madam Speaker, there is a crisis afoot in the schools and in the educational system of Nova Scotia today, a crisis in our classroom, a crisis which is not going to be resolved by the Education Act which is on its way through this House, for that Act deals with governance and will lead to centralization and to school closures. It is not about the classroom. That Act is as illusory as is the one page in-depth study that the minister has provided us with respect to the $11 million of illusory savings that he says that Act is going to result in accruing to the schools in this province.



If we want to measure the crisis in our classrooms, I think we need go no further than the statistics that are available in the Adult Literacy in Canada results of a national study. Madam Speaker, I think all members will be dismayed to understand that of the four levels of literacy in Canada, from lowest to highest, the lowest being one, the highest being four, only 57 per cent of Nova Scotians have achieved the fourth level of literacy.



According to this study, the fourth level is defined as, Canadians at this level meet most everyday reading demands. What is most alarming is the fact that fully 43 per cent of Nova Scotians fall in level three or below. Level three is defined thus, Canadian at this level can use reading materials in a variety of situations provided the material is simple, clearly laid out and the tasks involved are not too complicated; they tend to avoid situations requiring reading.



[4:45 p.m.]



We can go beyond an inspection of literacy skills in Nova Scotia and look at numeracy skills and again we find, as the case with literacy, that Nova Scotia falls in the bottom half of achievement in our country. In fact, with respect to numeracy skills, only 56 per cent of Nova Scotians have achieved the highest level, that is level three. The other 44 per cent fall somewhere in level two or level one. I found it shocking to read the definition of level three, to understand that Nova Scotians' numeracy skills fall somewhere in this range or below.



Canadians at level three can deal with material requiring them to perform simple sequences of numerical operations which enable them to meet most everyday demands. For example, a person achieving level three is capable of determining that if one pair of gloves costs $1.00, then two pairs of gloves would cost $2.00. If one kilogram of sugar costs $2.00, then two kilograms of sugar would cost $4.00. It is absolutely shocking that in Nova Scotia today, only 56 per cent of the people in this province are deemed to have numeracy skills which would even elevate them to the point where they could make that modest kind of calculation.



The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development places Canada as 11 out of 18 of industrialized nations with respect to educational achievement. If Nova Scotia is somewhere in the bottom half of Canada, then that would suggest if we compared ourselves to those other countries that we might, indeed, be below the lowest country, the 18th ranked country, and that is Spain. Ahead of our country are countries such as Switzerland and Finland. Nova Scotia falls dismally off the bottom of the chart.



It is absolutely essential that we establish educational goals and targets which meet the needs of society and which reflect the realities of the modern global economy. It is absolutely essential that we develop an educational system, through our classrooms, which in fact provide for a continuing interface between educators and the educational institutions in which they work, with employers and with the citizens and to ensure that we develop programs flowing out of our classrooms which will lead to apprenticeship and to cooperative education.



We must, working very closely and hand in hand with the teachers in this province, redefine teaching as a profession, not with a sledgehammer as the Minister of Education attempted to do in his first very rough draft of Bill No. 39, but indeed as peers. I think it is absolutely essential that we strive to work with teachers in this province - government to teacher, citizenry to teachers - to allow the Nova Scotia teachers to become a much more self-regulated profession, to involve themselves in really meaningful professional development training which will help them to ensure that they, too, have every opportunity extended to them to participate in the new learning which is necessary to inculcate the learning opportunities in our students and in our schools today.



One of the aspects of that, of course, must be peer review. Madam Speaker, there is an absolute need in our schools for strong support, support which is not there, support which will allow our teachers to do what they are trained to do and what they can do so well and that is to teach in the classroom. What we need within our schools are proper opportunities for career counselling, not personal counselling, not the soft guidance counselling that we are used to, but real career counselling which requires very special skills. What we have to do is bring the public health system back into the school as a partner with education.



Our schools need social workers to assist in helping our students to overcome the problems that they face in our contemporary society, problems which can best be addressed in the skilled hands of a social worker, not with the poor beleaguered teacher who is doing their best to perform their professional duties in the classroom. We can say the same of psychological services as well.





So vitally important is the provision of remedial services within our schools. It is essential to establish real, meaningful outcome measures. Grading clearly does not mean anything any more. What we have to have in our schools are measuring tools which will allow us an early detection of problems so we can then plan a strategy for remediation and for getting those who are having difficulties back into the mainstream. We have to ensure that we, also, are capable of ensuring that our students meet international and national standards with respect to education. Of course, the most real measure of how successful our schools are is in the success that our students have in participating in the modern economy.



The Economic Council of Canada, in 1992, issued a report entitled A Lot to Learn - Education Training in Canada. That report - I have made a few notes to myself, Madam Speaker - says that performance of Canadian students internationally in science and math is mediocre and, in addition, there are substantial differences between the provinces with respect to performance in those two areas. Surely that is reflected in the numeracy and literacy rates that I have just provided to the members of the House.



The United Nations' Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization considers that anyone in an industrialized society who has less than a Grade 5 education, is wholly illiterate and that those with less than Grade 9 are fundamentally illiterate. What does our Minister of Education and our government offer up to us with respect to those definitions? In his very own documentation, which was tabled in the House the other day, the curriculum document which this minister and this government say is going to guide us into the future, we find that by the end of Grade 12, students will have achieved the outcomes for entry Grade 9. That is Grade 8, Madam Speaker, and according to UNESCO, in our industrialized society, those students will be deemed to be functionally illiterate.



Our Minister of Education also says in this selfsame document, that, by the end of Grade 9, students will have achieved the outcomes for entry level Grade 6. Madam Speaker, according to the UNESCO measurement, that means that those students are just barely above being measured illiterate. That is not good enough. It is not good enough for Canada and it is not good enough for Nova Scotia. It does not fit out our students to be able to compete, either nationally or internationally in the expanding global economy. It does not allow us to ensure that we will be able to take advantage of rapidly expanding technology. What it does mean is that we will probably become the victims of it.



The bottom line is if we continue on this course that this government has set out in this new curriculum document, is going to be lower paying jobs for Nova Scotians, reduced self-confidence for Nova Scotians and a slide into a Third World economy and the Third World society that goes with it.



It is clear that this government whose words speak louder than its action has a great deal to do if it is going to repair the damage in our educational system today. This government is failing Nova Scotians educationally today. This government has an Education Act that is built on a foundation of sand. This is a government which confuses between the structures of education and the substance of education as delivered in the classroom.



With respect to the classroom it is a government with a vision, without purpose and without a plan. The tragedy is that it is Nova Scotian society in general and it is the young people in Nova Scotia in particular who are going to be offered up the bitter fruit of the failure of this government to do what is needed in the classrooms today. That is why it is so absolutely essential that we move beyond the trappings of educational reform which the minister and the government have fed us in Bill No. 39 and move forward to real, substantial, hard-nosed planning and educational reform through the creation of a multi-partite process, a process which will be designed to build an educational system which will lead us into a future of hope rather than lead us into one of absolute and utter despair.



Don't take my criticisms on the basis of their own virtue, take my criticisms on the base of the information that is provided through Adult Literacy in Canada, through the OECD, through UNESCO, through these international agencies which tell us that if we don't move and move quickly, that we are on the precipice of sliding into the Third World. Thank you.



MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable member for Argyle.



MR. ALLISTER SURETTE: Madam Speaker, I am pleased to stand this afternoon to debate the contents of Resolution No. 607. I know the member opposite mentioned in his opening remarks on levels of literacy, that 43 per cent of Nova Scotians were at level three or below. In the numeracy skills, again, most Nova Scotians fell in the bottom half. I was pleased to see again in his opening remarks that he mentioned that we must establish goals and standards for our students here in Nova Scotia and that we must strive to achieve these goals and standards. I am in total agreement as an educator, as a parent and as a legislator now with this comment.



I must admit, however, that I am somewhat puzzled with some of the contents of the resolution. The resolution seems to argue that the curriculum or the standards will be lowered by what the Department of Education is presently doing and in fact, I would say that it seems to be the opposite that is happening.



The truth of the matter is that these documents, the documents that I am making reference to and I am not 100 per cent sure what documents the member opposite was making reference to but these are the documents that I will make reference to in my remarks. They support higher standards for our students and a better education for all Nova Scotian students.



I would like to begin by discussing the documents themselves. First I would clarify for the member opposite and all members of the House that these are not just Nova Scotia Department of Education and Culture documents, we must share this credit with our Atlantic counterparts. Nova Scotia has worked with Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick and Newfoundland on the common core curriculum for science, mathematics and language arts. I am happy to say that this is being done in both French and English.



A common core curriculum makes a lot of sense when you understand what it does and what it doesn't mean. It doesn't mean that everything will be exactly the same or taught exactly the same way in every school in Atlantic Canada. For example, students in Prince Edward Island might want to learn a little bit more about Anne of Green Gables whereas students in Nova Scotia might want to hear the story of Evangeline. If you talk of the fisheries in different areas, for example, it doesn't have to mean that exactly the same content will be taught in every classroom here in Nova Scotia or in the Atlantic Provinces.



[5:00 p.m.]



On the other hand, Madam Speaker, certain things must be taught to all students. It doesn't matter whether you are in school in Montague, Prince Edward Island; Gander, Newfoundland; Fredericton, New Brunswick; or Argyle, Nova Scotia, science students must be taught to question and investigate the world around us, to test theories, solve problems and make informed decisions. Mathematics students must be taught subjects like algebra and geometry. Most significantly, all our students must know how to apply what they have learned in our world of ever-increasing technology.



Of course, language arts students must understand how to confidently use language to think, learn and communicate. Our language arts students today must be able to go beyond traditional print literacy to visual and media literacy, so students can use current and emerging technologies.



If I may for a moment, Madam Speaker, use some educational jargon which are in these curriculum documents, the core curriculum is based on six essential learnings, as listed in these documents, which are the results of extensive consultation and span all school subject areas. These essential graduation learnings, as they are called, are key to supporting a better education for our students. I would like to briefly review them for members of the House:



(1) Aesthetic expression; this means graduates will be able to respond to critical awareness, to various forms of the arts and be able to express themselves through the arts;



(2) Citizenship; meaning graduates will be able to assess social, cultural, economic and environmental interdependence in a local and global context;



(3) Communication; graduates will be able to use the listening, viewing, speaking, reading and writing modes of language, mathematical and scientific concepts and symbols, to think, learn and communicate effectively;



(4) Personal development; meaning graduates should, for example, be better prepared to make the transition from school to work. They should also be able to make appropriate decisions and take responsibility for them;



(5) Problem solving; relating to graduates' ability to use necessary strategies and processes to solve a wide variety of problems, including those requiring language, mathematical and scientific concepts; and finally



(6) Technological competence; this means graduates will again be able to use a variety of technologies, demonstrate an understanding of technological applications and apply appropriate technologies for solving problems.



In plain terms, Madam Speaker, these will be the basis of what our students will learn in the classroom every day. By partnering in curriculum development with our neighbouring provinces, we are building on the best that our four Atlantic Provinces have to offer. I know that in Nova Scotia we have many talented professionals working on curriculum development. Combining their talent and their expertise with those of their counterparts should translate in an even better system than what we have now. Excellence in curriculum development supports excellence in the classroom.



As I have said, Madam Speaker, these documents are the result of four provinces working together but the opportunities for collaboration and partnership are even broader. You see these documents, the three documents I am making reference to, are not in their final form. They are for consultation, they have been widely distributed to schools, teachers, school boards, parents, universities and other educational partners for their comments. If members of the House would like a copy of some of these, I am sure the Department of Education and Culture would be very willing to forward some copies of these to the members.



While we are talking consultation, in this case dealing with these curriculum guides, consultation may lead to an even better document than what we see here now in print. The resolution we are now debating is an excellent example of how consultation can benefit. If you turn to Page 13 - and I know the member opposite, the Leader of the New Democratic Party, has copies in his hands of the language arts curriculum - for example, you will see, I believe what part of the contents of the resolution makes reference to, and I believe that this may be where some of the confusion has arisen.



If you look at the first column, by the end of Grade 3, students will be able to do these things. The next column, by the end of Grade 6, students will have achieved the outcomes for the entry Grade 3 levels and will also, and you see pages and pages of things that they must accomplish to achieve by the end of Grade 6. So we must add to what we have in previous grade levels.



The member opposite uses the phrase, crystal clear, in the resolution. To me it is crystal clear that for the first time in this province we are challenging our students to new levels of achievement. We are clearly defining what is expected of them and we will work to ensure that they can meet these expectations. Let me restate, it seems crystal clear that we are in no way lowering standards. We are doing just the opposite. We are clearly establishing and elevating our standards to benefit our students.



This fact is perhaps not crystal clear to the member opposite or to members of this House, which brings me back to the value of consultation. People are invited to submit comments to the Department of Education and Culture by January 12, 1996. In these curriculum guides or documents, there is a response guide that any member of this House or any stakeholder in education in the four Atlantic Provinces may make their comments regarding the contents of these documents. So that is by January 12, 1996.



Now that I have made the purpose of the document clear, let me focus on some other points in the resolution. First, I agree wholeheartedly that we must have standards and the member opposite agreed as well. But what the member opposite has missed, in my opinion, is that this is the primary purpose. He did not seem to believe that this was the primary purpose of these curriculum documents. For the first time, we are clearly stating, again, what is expected of our graduates and our students at different stages in their schooling. In these documents the stages are by the end of three levels, Grade 3, Grade 6, Grade 9 and Grade 12.



As I have worked on the Acadian-Francophone governance issue, I have travelled the province from end to end. I visited schools and talked to people inside and outside the system. I hear people talk about the success and the failures in the education system. But in the past, have we really had any way of knowing how well our students were doing, how well our education system was doing? That is why our government is improving the education system by putting a clear focus on results.



Students are more highly motivated to succeed when they know what is expected of them. Parents have a right to know what their children are learning. Teachers who are helping shape these expectations, also benefit from having them clearly defined and, of course, employers want assurances that the graduates they hire have been challenged to meet their full potential.



This is totally consistent with the thrust of education reform. Schools must be open and must be accountable. If people are to work to support students, they must know the results they are shooting for. None of this is about blame or pointing fingers. I think the member opposite clearly identified results that he was not so pleased about. It is about pinpointing our strengths and building on them. Just as important, it is about identifying where expectations are not being met. Then we can focus our attention and support to fixing the problem and promoting equity from Yarmouth to Cape North.



This resolution is centred on documents in English. I would just like to say a few words. It is also important to point out, however, that progress is being made in French language programs. A new French Language Education Committee has been formed within the Atlantic Provinces Education Foundation. This committee will take charge to maximize the opportunities presented by regional cooperation in French language education programs. A multi-year plan has been adopted to set the vision and priorities to ensure the work gets done. This will mean clearly defined standards again here and a better education system for the Acadians and francophones throughout Atlantic Canada.



Of course, it is not enough to set standards and expected outcomes. We must also test our success along the way. Teachers who work with their students daily are obviously in the best position to regularly assess student progress. Obviously, teachers will be assisted in this regard by knowing clearly what is expected of their students at different grade levels.



The province also has a role in assessment. That is why we continue to improve the provincial testing program. For example, we are moving away from a Grade 12 writing with multiple choice only. More logically, I believe you would agree, we are testing Grade 12 students' writing by actually assessing samples of their writing. This mirrors what we are doing at the elementary level in the language arts program where a portfolio of students are being assessed.



Nova Scotia students also deserve an education that equals or exceeds schools elsewhere in Canada. So we are participating in a national testing program and we are again pursuing an Atlantic partnership in developing testing at the Grade 3, Grade 6 and Grade 9 levels.



If I may, Madam Speaker, in conclusion, what this means for students is the most important issue here. We must stress that the education system obviously is for the student and we must keep that focus in mind. What they learn in the classroom is based on a clear vision for their educational needs. The plan relies on the expert advice of our teachers and other educational partners and builds on the best our four provinces have to offer. We have a plan designed with the best interests of the students as a primary goal. That is good news for the students and I believe that is good news for all members of the House. I thank you for the time here today. (Applause)



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



MR. JOHN HOLM: Madam Speaker, I find myself in a somewhat unusual situation where I today am standing more to speak in support of the presentation made by the previous speaker and member of the government than I am of the mover of the resolution. (Interruption) (Laughter) Well, the Minister of Transportation and Communications may be right. Give me a few minutes and I will revert back to doing some hard-nosed crashing of the government.



Madam Speaker, as I take a look at the resolution, quite honestly, that is before me, I tend to look at it as it being a little bit simplistic. I certainly am not opposed to, and I certainly very much support and I would suggest that all Nova Scotians would agree that they would be expecting that their hard-earned tax dollars are going to be very wisely spent when it comes to public education. I don't think that anybody would disagree with that. That is needed and our children deserve that.



Madam Chairman, or Madam Speaker, as we move back and forth from committees, as you have noticed, I have been doing all afternoon, my mind is not always on referring to, as I should be, the proper title to the person who is in the Chair. Now that you are in the Speaker's Chair, I mean no disrespect if I inadvertently call you Madam Chairman rather than Speaker, so I apologize if I have done it and continue to do it.



However, it is a little bit simplistic, I would suggest, to think that each and every child in our education system fits into exactly the same little peg or slot. Children are different, as are their needs and learning styles.



Madam Speaker, when I take a look at these documents from which the resolution was drawn, I quite honestly come to the same conclusion as the member for Argyle. I have looked at them and yes, indeed, I would be happy to see in each and every column, that the children by the time they have ended Grade 9, have completed in all areas a level that is equal to that Grade 9. The same all the way through. For example when we are dealing with English language arts or whether we are dealing with mathematics and so on, it is more than about one single, simple element. When we are talking about English - and the member was quite correct - it deals with a whole variety of things in terms of communication, understanding, your ability to communicate, whether that be verbally and whether you can think creatively. It refers to a lot of things.



When we are looking at the education system, I hope we aren't going to go back to the days when we had provincial exams. Many of us wrote those provincial exams where you were taught to that exam rather than teachers and educators being able to concentrate more on skills and comprehension and ability to think creatively and to handle new tasks. I can remember and I will confess that when I was in high school I used to go to the library and look up - I do not know if anyone else did this or not, but I sure did - old copies of provincial exams back several years because you would know that certain kinds of questions and maybe even the exact questions would be asked. That is not the way we want to go and teachers should not be teaching just for trying to make sure that the students pass the exam. It is the skills, the comprehension and so on that need (Interruption) Well, maybe the minister is right.



[5:15 p.m.]



I will also say, to personalize it, that I certainly would not have got through school if it had not been for the fact that my parents identified a problem that I had in Grade 3 when I was told that I would not be able to get beyond Grade 6, or my parents were told that. What they did not understand, my parents noticed that I had, as many students do across this province, we have many with learning disabilities and there is mine. (Interruption) The minister might have a point there, that I would have talked myself out of a grade by keeping moving myself along. Maybe I would have.



I want to move on to a different item with the remaining few minutes that I have. I tend to agree, first of all, that what we have to be looking at is not just that exact standard that you can measure, like how much water is in the glass. It is to know how to go about that experience, to know how you do the experiments, to know how to be able to communicate, to use technology and to be able to adapt and to learn at an appropriate level so that you can move forward.



What I want to talk about very briefly here is that I believe that if we are going to have any kind of successful outcomes, what we have to have in place across the province are the proper resources to ensure that when whatever kind of testing is being done, all children, whether they live in Argyle, whether they live in the Halifax-Dartmouth metropolitan area or in Cape Breton or any point in between or around the edges, will have the opportunity to do their very best in terms of their ability to learn and to succeed because they have equal high opportunities for those resources.



We have right now across the province great inequities in terms of what kinds of specialists, resources and so on are needed. We have classrooms in this province where we have 40 or more students. We have classrooms where you have large numbers of children and many children with very unique special needs. We have to ensure, I would suggest, that the core program be expanded, we have to have guarantees that if a child needs to have a speech pathologist, if a child can benefit from having a psychologist do an assessment at the early stages of schooling to be able to identify learning difficulties, problems that they may have, that there will be those with the expertise, with the skill, with the knowledge, to do those assessments and to work with their other partners in the education system to develop strategies to help that child maximize their educational potential.



It is not good enough for us to say that every child has a right to go to school. It is fine to say any child can be in the building from age 5 to age 21. What we have to do, quite honestly, when we are talking about curriculums, when we are talking about programs, when we are talking about outcomes, we have to ensure through the provincial government that there are adequate resources to identify the difficulties that children may be having and then work with the educators and with the parents to make sure that those children are going to be able to maximize their abilities.



That doesn't mean everybody fits into that neat little slot, that neat little peg or that neat little hole. It doesn't mean that every child will be at the same place, but it means that we recognize that each and every child is special, and some of those special children have different needs from other children. It is also a recognition that those who are in front of the classroom cannot do everything for everybody. They cannot possibly be knowledgeable any more than a medical doctor can be knowledgeable in every medical specialty - it is not possible - and treat every single medical specialty. They do a lot, teachers do a lot, parents do a lot, but we have to be able to provide those other assistants as well.



As I am rising on this resolution, I am really speaking not so much in support - because I am not - of the intent or the thrust of the resolution. I am sure the Minister of Transportation and Communications, if he has been hearing everything I am saying, to his surprise I haven't reverted to government-bashing yet. I think that it is not just a matter of having the curriculum outline saying that by the time a child finishes Grade 9 that they have to have that Grade 9 level in all areas. Quite honestly, it would be extremely unfair to be holding children back because in one aspect they may not have reached a Grade 9 level, but in many other areas they have exceeded far beyond it.



I know that there are people in this House who probably, like myself, are not necessarily the best spellers in the world but who have learned to compensate for their inability to be the best spellers in the world, and technology can help now with spell checkers and so on, on computers. We have to look at the ability and the skills of the children to be able to move forward.



I see that I am drawing tremendous response from the government members in that they are sitting on . . .



MADAM SPEAKER: Yes, I think we should call for order at this point in time; there is getting to be a fair level of distraction. If you have private conversations, perhaps you could take them into the back part of the Chamber. The honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party is still on focus.



MR. HOLM: Madam Speaker, as I am told I am not on a roll today. I normally get a little bit more attention when I increase my volume or when I am slamming the government. I think that what we are talking about here is far more important than simply using this as a forum right now to slam the government. I think that what we have to talk about is our commitment to our children who are in the schools now and the future children who will be there, upon which the Province of Nova Scotia and our future is going to depend.



As I am wrapping up, I think of, for example, a presentation that was made to the Law Amendments Committee today, made by the Council of Administrators of Special Education. I know I can't go into the details of that because of the fact it deals with Bill No. 39. At least I can, hopefully, still be within the rules and suggest that members of this House who were not at the Law Amendments Committee maybe would benefit if they got a copy of the presentation and read through it, and not just thinking about where the sections deal with a particular Act, but talking about the philosophies and principles that are being espoused in their presentation.



We have to and can accept nothing less than excellence. Excellence will be something different for each and every child; each and every person will have different excellence levels. Just like in any other thing in life, some people are extremely talented with their hands and can take a piece of wood or any other material and craft it into something with virtually no training at all; others, like myself, if I don't have a neat plan to follow, I am lost. Some have skills in one area and very little in another.



In the education system, what we have to learn to be able to do, as well, is to recognize where those students have particularly strong skills, whether that is in math, in the arts, in the languages, you name it, and to help them to maximize those skills and to build on those other areas and provide the additional assistance that they need in those areas where their skills are weakest and to be able to make sure that they are brought up to a level where they are going to be able to function very well. That, Madam Speaker, is going to depend, in large part, upon the commitment of this government to expand the basic core programs and to put in place the kind of resources that are needed so that that kind of success can be obtained. Thank you.



MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable Acting Opposition House Leader.



MR. GEORGE ARCHIBALD: Madam Speaker, would you please call House Order No. 22, and in the absence of the member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley, I would so move.



H.O. No. 22, re Transport. - Highway No. 104 Alignment: Model (Arthur Andersen & Co.) - Table - notice given April 24/95 - (Mr. B. Taylor)



[The House Order was read by the Clerk.]





MR SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Transportation and Communications.



HON. RICHARD MANN: Mr. Speaker, I believe we dealt with that through a freedom of information request and there are implications there in the privacy Act and everything. So that I do not complicate this, it will be dealt with through freedom of information and I believe what parts can be released are being released through that process. So I am going to turn down this House Order and deal with it in that other manner.



MR. SPEAKER: The House Order has been turned down. The ministr indicates he is turning it down, so we will have to have a motion.



The motion is to approve the House Order. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.



The motion is defeated.



The honourable Acting Opposition House Leader.



MR. GEORGE ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, would you please call House Order No. 33 and in the absence of the member for Halifax Cornwallis, I so move.



H.O. No. 33, re Educ. - School Board Amalgamation: Coordinators - Tenders - notice given Nov. 8/95 - (Mr. T. Donahoe)



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Deputy House Leader.



MR. ALLISTER SURETTE: In the absence of the minister, I would ask that it be stood.



MR. SPEAKER: Shall the order stand?



House Order No. 33 stands.



The honourable Acting Opposition House Leader.



MR. GEORGE ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, would you please call House Order No. 41.



H.O. No. 41, re Mun. Affs.: Personal Property Security Legislation - Consultations - notice given Nov. 10/95 - (Mr. G. Archibald)



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Deputy House Leader.



[5:30 p.m.]



MR. ALLISTER SURETTE: Again, Mr. Speaker, in the absence of the Minister of Municipal Affairs, I would ask that this House Order be stood.



MR. SPEAKER: Shall the order stand?



House Order No. 41 stands.



The honourable Acting Opposition House Leader.



MR. GEORGE ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, I would ask you to call House Order No. 45 and on behalf of the member for Cape Breton West, I so move.



H.O. No. 45, re Commun. Serv. - Youth: Funding Allocation - Breakdown - notice given Nov. 14/95 - (Mr. A. MacLeod)



[The House Order was read by the Clerk.]



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Community Services.



HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, this is a joint project, as you know, with Justice, Health, Community Services and Education, which is an attempt to break down the barriers between departments and where resources are pooled. I could try from the Department of Community Services to get as much as I could on that matter. The project might be difficult at this time but at least we could give some indication of the commitment to the project of these various departments.



So, I will make an undertaking that I will do what I could at this time.



MR. SPEAKER: Would that restriction be acceptable to the member?



MR. ARCHIBALD: Yes.



MR. SPEAKER: Would all those in favour of the House Order to that extent please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.



The motion is carried.



The honourable Acting Opposition House Leader.



MR. GEORGE ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, would you please call House Order No. 47 and I so move.



H.O. No. 47, re Justice - Jails: Privatization - Study Costs - notice given Nov. 16/95 - (Mr. T. Donahoe)



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Justice.



HON. WILLIAM GILLIS: Mr. Speaker, there is no problem, we would be glad to return the information.



MR. SPEAKER: The motion is carried.



The honourable Acting Opposition House Leader.



MR. GEORGE ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, would you please call House Order No. 48 and I so move.



H.O. No. 48, re Agric./N.S. Lottery Comm'n. - Harness Racing Teletheatres - notice given Nov. 16/95 - (Mr. G. Archibald)



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Deputy Government House Leader.



MR. ALLISTER SURETTE: Again, Mr. Speaker, I would ask that in the absence of the minister that this House Order be stood.



MR. SPEAKER: Shall the order stand?



House Order No. 48 stands.



The honourable Acting Opposition House Leader.



MR. GEORGE ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, would you please call House Order No. 49.



H.O. 49, re EMO: Municipal Organizations - List/Structures - notice given Nov. 16/ 95 - (Mr. D. McInnes)



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou West.



MR. DONALD MCINNES: I so move, Mr. Speaker.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Deputy Government House Leader.



MR. ALLISTER SURETTE: Mr. Speaker, in the absence of the Minister of the Environment I would ask that this House Order be stood.



MR. SPEAKER: Shall the order stand?



House Order No. 49 stands.



The honourable Acting Opposition House Leader.



MR. GEORGE ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, would you please call House Order No. 50.



H.O. No. 50, re ERA - Tourism: Brochures - Distribution [U.S.A. (Minneapolis-Detroit)] - notice given Nov. 17/95 - (Mr. D. McInnes)



H.O. No. 51, re ERA - Amherst Tourist Bureau: Access - Corres. (N.B.) - notice given Nov. 17/95 - (Mr. D. McInnes)



H.O. No. 52, re ERA - Yarmouth-Bar Harbor Ferry: Study - Costs - notice given Nov. 17/95 - (Dr. J. Hamm)



MR. SPEAKER: The motions are carried.



The honourable Acting Opposition House Leader.



MR. GEORGE ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, would you please call House Order No. 53.



H.O. No. 53, re Commun. Serv.: Children's Benefits - Recipients - notice given Nov. 20/95 - (Mr. A. MacLeod)



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou West.



MR. DONALD MCINNES: On behalf of the member for Cape Breton West, Mr. Speaker, I so move.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Community Services. Would you like the House Order read?



HON. JAMES SMITH: No, Mr. Speaker, I have reviewed House Order No. 53 and also House Order No. 46. I wonder if I could ask if there is intention of calling that because I had some comments to make on that. (Interruption) It has been withdrawn. Well, that's good. (Interruption)



MR. SPEAKER: I think the member indicates he is planning on withdrawing it.



DR. SMITH: Okay. Because they are very similar, Mr. Speaker.



MR. ARCHIBALD: The minister's point is well taken. House Orders No. 53 and No. 46 are very similar. House Order No. 53 is a notice of motion that we would like called and we would like the minister to agree to provide the information requested. However, House Order No. 46 is not going to be called at this time and it probably will not be called in the foreseeable future.



DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, with this House Order, I would be pleased to comply. I think our staff would have no problems obtaining those figures. I know in April of this year, I would just like to mention to members of the House, that under (1), which asks for, "The number of recipients with children aged 19 or under presently drawing benefits from the Department of Community Services;", for a point of clarification, it is my understanding that the House Order requests those persons who are 19 years of age or younger, with children, receiving benefits. If that is so, in April of this year it was approximately 200 in Nova Scotia, which I think most members of this House find quite surprising in the low numbers.



I would be pleased to present an update to that because I think it is important that we break down some of these myths, that we have large numbers of young people, particularly young women with children, on social assistance in this province and that is just not so. The other one, the county by county, we would be able to provide that information and also the breakdown of the number of people on social assistance in Nova Scotia. So, I think that we can pretty clearly forward all of this information.



MR. ARCHIBALD: Just as a point of clarification, one of the things that is of interest and it has arisen twice and I brought it up on one occasion last year in the Legislature. If a young lady is 14 or 15 years old, living at home with her mother who happens to be on mothers' allowance, at that point in time both the daughter and the granddaughter both go on the same check with the mother herself.



I was wondering if the minister, with that in mind, could furnish the statistics of the number of dependants of the grandmother, in effect, who has a daughter and then a granddaughter all living under one roof. That is the number that I think would be quite interesting, if we knew what that one was, if you have that in your statistical piles.



MR. SPEAKER: The minister indicates he will do his best in that regard.



MR. ARCHIBALD: I know, he is a good minister.



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



The motion is carried in the affirmative.



The honourable Acting Opposition House Leader.



MR. GEORGE ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, there is just one point I would like to make. There were four or five House Orders that were stood and I would ask the Acting Government House Leader if next week, when we do call, if he could check with those ministers to see whether, in fact, they will allow those to pass - if they are not here, themselves, it would be helpful - and if, perhaps, between he and the Whip they could check with the ministers concerned with House Orders because they know they will be called in the afternoon and perhaps we could have them all passed or not passed, as the case may be. But it would be better to do that than to have them stood due to the absence of a minister. That concludes our business for today, Mr. Speaker. Thank you.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Acting Government House Leader.



MR. ALLISTER SURETTE: If that concludes their business, unless we would like to do anything else, we will take that under advisement, yes, and we will try to have a look at those for House Orders that have been stood and we will do our best to have the ministers here the next time around.



I would like to advise all members of the House that tomorrow we will sit between the hours of 12:00 noon to 8:00 p.m. Following the daily routine and Question Period, we will be in the Committee of the Whole House on Bills and I believe it is Bill No. 28.



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



MR. SPEAKER: The motion is carried.



We will now enter into the late debate. The late debate tonight was won by the honourable member for Lunenburg who wishes to debate the matter:



Therefore be it resolved that the members of this Assembly extend congratulations to the participants of the Tourism Strategic Workshop, held in Yarmouth this past weekend, for their outstanding efforts to enhance our tourism industry.



ADJOURNMENT



MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5)



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Lunenburg.





ERA - TOURISM STRATEGIC WORKSHOP (YARMOUTH):

PARTICIPANTS - CONGRATS.



MRS. LILA O'CONNOR: Mr. Speaker, as the legislative assistant to the Honourable Robert Harrison, who is the Minister of the Economic Renewal Agency and responsible for Tourism, I am very pleased to rise in the House this evening to recognize the outstanding efforts being made in future tourism development along the southwest shore of Nova Scotia.



Mr. Speaker, in Yarmouth this past weekend, over 80 participants took part in a Strategic Tourism Workshop. It is an honour for me to extend my appreciation to those participants, including the many tourism operators and the tourism directors from Annapolis, Digby, Yarmouth and Shelburne Counties. I would like to commend the staff members from the Economic Renewal Agency for their significant contributions. I am pleased to recognize the facilitators of this workshop, the Fourth Wave Strategic Management Association, sponsored by the South West Shore Development Authority, Western Valley Development Authority and Tourism Nova Scotia.



Mr. Speaker, it was a real pleasure for me to participate in this workshop with my distinguished colleagues in government, including the MLA for Yarmouth, Richard Hubbard; the MLA for Shelburne, Clifford Huskilson; and the MLA for Argyle, Allister Surette. We were all excited to work with the many tourism stakeholders at this critical time in the region's tourism development. With all these participants, the room was filled with a wealth of experience and interest, making this a very productive day. I believe that we created something that was both meaningful for everyone and inspired us all into action.



You see, Mr. Speaker, each year, thousands of travellers pass through Yarmouth, Digby and Shelburne Counties. With only slightly more than 25 per cent of the region's 83,000 visitors to the region staying overnight, there is tremendous opportunity for growth. Not only is there a significant untapped market in this group of pass-through travellers, the region, through a strategy that addresses both marketing and physical attractions, can become a Nova Scotia destination region in its own right.



Mr. Speaker, it has been through the outstanding efforts of the many tourism stakeholders at this workshop that resulted in the creation of action plans to address the challenges and take advantage of the opportunities in developing the western region of Nova Scotia as a destination region in this province. That is why I am so proud to stand here this evening in recognition of all the hard work that took place in Yarmouth last weekend. The Strategic Tourism Workshop took a firm hold on a proactive tourism action plan for destination development. As a result, the goal is to increase the number of visitors to the area and increase their length of stay when they are in the southwestern region of Nova Scotia.



Mr. Speaker, it was clear by the end of the session that participants were eager to share their recommendations. All submissions will be given to the Fourth Wave Strategic Management Associates and these facilitators will compile the recommendations and send them to the three sponsors.



Mr. Speaker, participation by all tourism industry stakeholders at this workshop and any other such initiatives throughout Nova Scotia are to be highly commended. Tourism was worth $880 million to the provincial economy last year and our target is for it to top $1 billion by the year 2000. Now, as the peak tourism season draws to a close, most indicators reveal another strong year for tourism in Nova Scotia.



[5:45 p.m.]



For the third consecutive year, Nova Scotia's tourism industry posted peak season gains. Visitations surpassed 1994 by 4 per cent, with 44,000 more people visiting Nova Scotia this year. To the end of September, provincial room sales are up 1 per cent, with 24,000 more rooms being sold compared to last year.



The car is the traditional means of travel to Nova Scotia. Three-quarters of our visitors arrive in cars. Air continues to be the second most popular means of travel to our province. Looking more closely at the most recent month reported, air traffic continues to soar by 24 per cent over 1994 figures. Possible reasons may include the increased airline services to Halifax International Airport and supportive marketing programs that promoted Nova Scotia to Europeans last year. In addition, the number of visitors arriving by motor coaches is up 18 per cent or an additional 9,000 person visits.



It is always encouraging to see continued growth in the tourism sector. Now with all the reported increases, 1995 will no doubt top the phenomenal tourism season Nova Scotia enjoyed last year. Tourism is an increasingly important part of this province's economy. Not only does tourism provide jobs for Nova Scotians, it generates provincial and municipal tax revenues that support essential services like health care, education, police services and snow removal.



Visitors to Nova Scotia spend money on many of the same things we do in our own daily routines. That means most all sectors of the economy share in the benefits generated by the tourism industries, not just hotels and campgrounds. Tourism also enhances our quality of life by helping to provide parks, museums, attractions, campgrounds, special events and celebrations in our communities.



Over 1 million people visit Nova Scotia each year between May and October. They travel for many reasons; to take a vacation in a clean, safe, scenic environment; to visit friends and relatives; to attend conventions and to shop. Tourism brings us into contact with people from around the world continuing our understanding of other cultures. When visitors come to Nova Scotia, it makes us feel proud of our lifestyles, our culture and our province. Thank you. (Applause)



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou West.



MR. DONALD MCINNES: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased as the Tourism Critic for our caucus to be able to rise and to debate that great segment of Nova Scotia's economy, the tourism industry. As the honourable member for Lunenburg said, it soon will be a billion dollar industry, I think she used the figure $880 million last year. She did say that she hoped it would reach the $1 billion mark by the year 2000. I am hoping it will reach that mark before the year 2000.



We have a wonderful province and it is a great place to travel. The member didn't talk much about her own area but certainly that old quaint Town of Lunenburg is one that I am sure they are very proud of and one that represents a particular interest.



We are concerned about some of things that are happening in regard to tourism in the province. I want to talk for a few minutes with regard to the ramp at Highway No. 104 at the Nova Scotia Tourist Bureau at Amherst. I have raised this question in the House on many occasions and in fact, just this week we had a call from the Mayor of Amherst stating that she is extremely frustrated about the entrance to Nova Scotia and I will quote her, she said, "We did have one of the finest entry points of any province in the country. Now you need a road map to get to the visitors centre, and you will no doubt pass it by if you are travelling at 100 kilometres an hour.". I would have to agree, I do not go to Moncton a lot, but I have lived in Pictou for many years and I do go to Moncton occasionally. My wife and I were coming through there this summer and I suppose I was probably travelling 100 kilometres an hour, I would not be going over that, but in travelling and coming along and, I say I used to know where the exit was, and I missed it. I got off down further and I am familiar enough with Amherst to know how to get down to the Sunrise Trail once I got down there. The thing is that if you were a tourist, you would not have a clue how to get onto the Sunrise Trail.



The people from that area are very concerned and it would be very simple to fix that entrance to that bureau. As the mayor said, it was one of the nicest entrances of any province that I ever passed through, with beautiful flowers and you came right up through the middle and the tourist bureau was right there. The thing is to fix it. The honourable member for Cumberland North, who was at that time, the Minister for the ERA gave me to understand that they did have approval from the New Brunswick Government to go ahead and, that is almost one year ago, to have this ramp fixed up. It is very simple, all you do, when you are coming down off Highway No. 104, they just put a little ramp down. You could actually drive down, I would not mind driving off with my car the way it is. For the expense to fix that so you could go down there, a contractor would make $50,000 on a $100,000 contract to put a little ramp in there and even pave it, so that you would go down the bridge and then you would drive right up into the tourist bureau.



It is really hurting business along the Sunrise Trail, because if you do not get off at that exit, as I said, then you slip right through and then you are going down to Springhill and that is fine, we want people to come down that way, too, the businesses in Pugwash, in Wallace and in Tatamagouche and even down to Pictou. When I go to Amherst, I never think of going to Truro and go up Highway No. 104, I just go up the Sunrise Trail directly to Amherst and it is a beautiful drive if you are on the Northumberland Strait. The groups from those three communities that I mentioned are very concerned and I must say, in all fairness to the government, they did improve the signage somewhat to get down there. I really cannot understand why they would not let them, the New Brunswick Government has approved and I know it is across the border, but if they would just fix that up, it would be so helpful.



You may smile at this, but I think another issue that is related to tourism are the tolls that are going to be put on this highway. Where in Canada do you pay tolls? I am told that there is not a toll on any Trans Canada Highway in Canada. I understand there are tolls on some roads in Ontario and some roads in British Columbia, but as I understand it, this would be the first toll that would be on the Trans Canada Highway. Maybe what will happen, is when they put the tolls on there, then people instead of coming down that road, they will come down the Sunrise Trail to Pictou and we will get more tourists that way. I think it is going to hurt tourism a little bit, the fact that those tolls are going to be there.



I travelled a little bit in the United States and I cannot remember any toll that would be over $1.00 for travelling on a highway with a reasonable distance. I think that that is an impact on our tourism industry and something that maybe the member for Lunenburg, who works very closely with the minister who is responsible for tourism, that perhaps she should talk to the minister about the effect that that will have on tourism in this province.





Another issue I want to raise about tourism is the announcement made by the Director of Tourism Nova Scotia on Monday of this week. Michele McKinnon who is an excellent person - she worked as an Information Officer for the Department of Housing when I was there - said that the provincial agency is looking for the 125 best-qualified seasonal, casual employees with which to staff the information centres around the province between May and October.



I am a little bit concerned about that. I think we should have good people that are well-trained to staff the centres, but are we going to get people from Yarmouth, if there are good, trained people down there, come up to Pictou to my bureau. I don't know. I am concerned about that. I think there is nothing wrong with having a good, well-trained, qualified seasonal employees, but why can't we have them from our own area to provide an important service to the tourists as they come along.



Last year there were four tourist bureau managers across this province that were dismissed. They took their dismissals to the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission, after numerous attempts were made by individuals to obtain information as to why they were not hired. As a matter of fact, Mr. Speaker, the manager of the tourist bureau in Pictou was one of the four. I must say she was very upset and I can honestly say, she was certainly non-political. She never acted in any political way in her life. But, anyway, she was one of the four and quite disappointed that she was not rehired. I might say that that is a very important bureau in Pictou because Caribou, four miles from Pictou, is the second largest entry point to Nova Scotia. So I think it is important that we have good people on staff.



I just hope that these 120 people will not be moved from one area to the other, that they will try to let them work locally. The students need to get as much money as possible to go to university or whatever. I know it is important that we have people who are very capable, to be helpful to the tourism industry.



My time is up, and I did want to talk about the announcement today about Auburn Drive High School, that is going to have a pilot project, which was just announced in today's paper, but perhaps, on another occasion, I can talk about it. Thank you very much to the member for raising the topic tonight.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Yarmouth.



MR. RICHARD HUBBARD: Mr. Speaker, I just wanted to touch base a little bit about what Lila O'Connor, the member for Lunenburg, mentioned earlier in her talk and I wanted to thank the member for Lunenburg for being in Yarmouth last week to help with the proceedings of the workshop.



I would just like to point out how that workshop evolved and I did mention that last weekend. It came about as a result of some statistics that were given to me by local tourism people in Yarmouth, probably the first year that I got elected. I thought that something had to be done because I recalled reading that the bed occupancy rate was something like 45 per cent of those beds that were occupied during the year. I thought that was kind of crucial for a place that has two ferries coming in during the summer: the Bluenose, of course; and the Prince of Fundy.





So I just felt that something had to be done and the result of that was, thanks, first of all to the Acting Minister of Tourism, the Minister of the Economic Renewal Agency, who was the Honourable Guy Brown at the time and since then, the Honourable Robert Harrison, who both agreed to host that workshop in Yarmouth last week and which I was very grateful to have.



What we are trying to do down in the southwest part of the province is to highlight some of the things that we have down there that for whatever reasons do not get highlighted in a lot of the brochures that we see distributed and just to let people, perhaps, know what is down in the southwestern end of the province and, in particular, in Yarmouth County.



I would like to point out that we have a lot of natural attractions in Yarmouth County. We have a great system of lakes; a great river system there. There is lots of canoeing that goes on there. One of the nicest things, I think, that we have are these beautiful salt-water beaches, which people seem to be coming back to, people seem to be going back to nature. I note that in the past couple of years and again I would thank the minister, the Honourable Donald Downe, who helped us fix up some of our salt-water areas with paving and refurbishing of those areas that was done. People are coming back in droves to those areas. I recall when I was a young fellow that that was where we swam, every weekend or every day we went to the salt-water areas. Somehow over the years we got away from those and we all went to pools. People are coming back to nature now.



[6:00 p.m.]



My wife and I visited the salt-water areas this summer and sat many nights and watched the sun go down, it was beautiful. A lot of the people who are coming to our area are starting to make note of the fact that there is a tremendous sunset there to watch.



Other things that we have down there are two of the finest museums, I think, anywhere. One is the Firefighters Museum of Nova Scotia and they have a great collection of old fire engines from New York, New Brunswick and from all over the place. They have a great collection of pictures of major fires that have taken place throughout the world. They have a little archives there that students in Yarmouth County can go there to do research and it is a well utilized museum. The other, of course, is the world famous Yarmouth County Historical Museum. That museum has the second largest collection of ship portraits anywhere in Canada. It is a really fine museum and we are very proud of it.



Another thing that we have down there in the summer is our annual Seafest. That features lots of sea things, the dory races, rum-running races and all of the sports events that go along with it and the cultural events and so on. A unique feature that we have in Yarmouth County that I don't think any other counties have are the French Acadian festivals. These, of course, are unique in the sense that the participants are all dressed in their Acadian costumes and the cultural things that they are used to doing are all done in these little French communities.



For the past few years we have been trying to work on our waterfront development. We are in the process now of developing a trail that will lead from one end of the town straight out to the harbour entrance. I would be guessing but I think that is probably a distance of about three or four kilometres with the main part of that development right on the harbour-front itself. We are getting a lot of good comments about that development in Yarmouth so we are very pleased that that is happening. Again I would thank Minister Harrison for some of the funding that we have received, and the federal government, to develop that waterfront.



Our fishing villages in Yarmouth County are also very popular and they are visited by many tourists each year. It gets back to the natural thing, I think that people are starting to get out into outlying areas more. We think the people sometimes come to shop but people don't come to shop, they can do that back home wherever they are. They want to see some unique things. We have some unique things in our fishing villages in Yarmouth County.



One that is quite a thing, we boast about it as being the smallest drawbridge in the world. My guess is that it is about 20 feet when it is down and this allows the fishing boats that are in a sheltered area to go out to the open sea. Many visitors who come to Yarmouth are told about this little drawbridge and always make a point to go out and see this and a lot of pictures are taken. It is in Sandford, a little village just on the outer parts of Yarmouth County. So when we boast the world's smallest drawbridge that does have a lot of attraction for those people.



One of the other things that people really enjoy when they are in Yarmouth are the stately houses. Yarmouth, as you know, is a very old town and there were a lot of millionaires there around the turn of the century, it was one of the richest places anywhere, I think the second or fourth largest shipping port in the world per capita, so obviously there were many rich people in the Town of Yarmouth. Those houses are still there complete with their cupolas on the top of their houses. I live on a street called Captains Walk and there is a lot of seafaring interest there so there are a lot of these houses. These are designated areas in the town where people can walk and see these stately houses and they get a kick out of those as well.



We have a lot of tournaments that attract a lot of people to our town. We have, I think, excellent facilities, I couldn't boast that a few years back but over the past four or five years we have developed a wonderful, beautiful baseball stadium which hosted the first National Old Timer's Championship on that field, raked to the final dirt on a Thursday night and the game started the next night. Because of that facility we were able to attract a national championship there. Of course, along with that came their families who stayed there three days, four days or five days. We have a rink, an indoor pool, tennis courts, bowling alleys, an indoor rifle range second to none, I think, in eastern Canada. A six-range firing range building, well maintained, a lot of interest in pistol shooting, archery and so on, it is quite a fine club. Again, it draws tourists to our town for various matches that they put on.



I just wanted to highlight some of the things that Yarmouth County does have. I am hoping that as a result of the workshop that was held last weekend - and it wasn't just for Yarmouth County people, as our member for Lunenburg stated, it was for the southwest region. We down there feel that anything that is good for that western end of the province is good for Yarmouth. If it is in Annapolis, it is good for Yarmouth. We think if it is in Yarmouth, it is good for the South Shore and good for the Valley and so on. We are not out to try to outdo the other. That wasn't the intent of the workshop, to make sure that Yarmouth gets to the front. The idea of the workshop was more, I think, to let people know what we have down there. How can we get to the public of Nova Scotia, of Canada and, obviously, how can we get to the public of the United States to let those people know that the western part of the province has a lot to offer?



I hope that the workshop - I have not seen the results of that yet - but I understand from speaking with some of the people there that it was very well received. It was their workshop. We didn't have government people there saying that you should do this, you should do that. They sat back, they were listeners and hopefully the results of that workshop will develop tourism much better along the western part of the province.



Thank you, Mr. Speaker.



MR. SPEAKER: That concludes the late debate.



We will adjourn until tomorrow at noon.



[The House rose at 6:07 p.m.]