Assemblée Législative de la Nouvelle-Écosse

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21 septembre 2017

















HALIFAX, THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 23, 1995



Fifty-sixth General Assembly



Third Session



12:00 P.M.



SPEAKER



Hon. Paul MacEwan



DEPUTY SPEAKER



Mrs. Francene Cosman





MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. We can call the House to order at this time and commence this afternoon's proceedings. Are there any introductions of guests?



The honourable member for Digby-Annapolis.



MR. JOSEPH CASEY: Mr. Speaker, I would like to introduce to you and the honourable members of this House, two special guests seated in the east gallery, Miss Trish Morrison and Miss Julie MacKean, students of Cornwallis Junior High School. I would ask the members of this House to give their usual warm welcome. (Applause)



MR. SPEAKER: Now, the daily routine.



PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS



PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES



TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS



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



HON. ELEANOR NORRIE: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table the Annual Report for the Nova Scotia Liquor Commission for the year ended March 31, 1995.



MR. SPEAKER: The report is tabled.



STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS





3337

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION



INTRODUCTION OF BILLS



Bill No. 47 - Entitled an Act to Amalgamate the Victoria General Hospital at Halifax, the Camp Hill Medical Centre, the Nova Scotia Rehabilitation Centre Corporation and the Cancer Treatment and Research Foundation of Nova Scotia to form the Queen Elizabeth II Health Sciences Centre. (Hon. Ronald Stewart)



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



NOTICES OF MOTION



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.



RESOLUTION NO. 671



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



Whereas the Minister of Health said, "In this province in 1994, the waiting lists for major surgical procedures have remained the same or have decreased, the first time we have ever done that. That is true, we have the information now, . . ."; and



Whereas after two requests, the Minister of Health has failed to table the information that would support his claim; and



Whereas the minister could help allay the fears of many Nova Scotians by providing the information that shows that the Fraser Institute and the many surgeons who have publicly expressed concern about Nova Scotia's waiting lists are, in fact, ill-informed;



Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Health respond to the request for the information he claims has already been collected and analyzed and that he table this information in the House before the end of the day.



MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.



The honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party.



RESOLUTION NO. 672



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



Whereas taxpayers in the Regional Municipality of Cape Breton are now enjoying the benefits of paying for provincial programs and decisions with a $15 million debt hanging over their heads; and



Whereas taxpayers throughout the Halifax-Dartmouth area have expressed growing concerns about provincially mandated costs, described by Ken Meech as a "moving target" with major capital costs unstated; and



Whereas the latest bright idea from the Liberals is that the province will run municipal social assistance, but bill the municipalities;



Therefore be it resolved that this House urges Nova Scotians to save their old tea bags and anything else they may need to re-enact the Boston Tea Party as a reminder to this Liberal Government that taxation without representation is repugnant and undemocratic.



MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.



The honourable member for Queens.



RESOLUTION NO. 673



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



Whereas the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union has launched a national campaign with the slogan MED-I-CARE, THE LIBERALS DON'T; and



Whereas this campaign is intended to ensure the 140,000 members of the CEP, including those who work at Bowater Mersey Paper Company Limited press governments to maintain our health care system as a basic pillar of Canadian society; and



Whereas the Liberal Governments in Ottawa and Nova Scotia continue to ravage health care consistently failing to put new safeguards in place before ripping apart the system, which has served Canadians since the introduction of Medicare;



Therefore be it resolved that the Liberal Government of Nova Scotia heed the sound advice of the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union membership in Nova Scotia, and stop ripping health care apart ostensibly in the name of reform, in reality to feed the ambitions of the Minister of Finance.



MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.



The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.



RESOLUTION NO. 674



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



Whereas Halifax County Council approved the expenditure of $500,000 to set up a permanent household hazardous waste depot; and



Whereas the City of Halifax will provide land for the depot with Bedford and Dartmouth also contributing to this very worthwhile initiative; and



Whereas trained technicians will sort the various hazardous waste materials such as paint and anti-freeze prior to their shipment to a hazardous waste processing plant in Debert;



Therefore be it resolved that all members of this Legislature recognize the importance of recycling and commend all elected municipal officials in Halifax County for showing their commitment to the environment.



Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver of notice.



MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreeable?



It is agreed.



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



The motion is carried.



The honourable Minister of Supply and Services.



RESOLUTION NO. 675



HON. GERALD O'MALLEY: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:



Whereas the Canadian Association of Neighbourhood Services, or CANS, held a national conference this fall titled, The Role of Community-Based Services, hosted by the Ward 5 Community Centre located in Halifax Needham; and



Whereas the Ward 5 Community Centre originated through a serious need to provide various social and recreational programs for young people in need of educational and advocacy programs for the young and the old; and



Whereas the day-to-day work done by all community workers across the province and country at grass roots levels is an essential part of building our neighbourhoods;



Therefore be it resolved that the members of this Assembly extend a sincere congratulations and thanks to CANS and all community volunteer workers.



Mr. Speaker, I would ask for waiver.



MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?



It is agreed.



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



The motion is carried.



The honourable member for Halifax Citadel.



RESOLUTION NO. 676



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



Whereas the Minister of Finance, who professes to be a fierce watchdog over Nova Scotia's finances, recently took a whirlwind trip to Las Vegas at taxpayers' expense; and



Whereas Nova Scotians have a right to know the purpose of the trip and whether the minister was there to look out for their interests or simply to offer concessions to his ITT Sheraton business partners; and



Whereas the Minister of Finance, a senior Cabinet Minister in the Savage Government which promised open and honest government, has to this point failed to table the agenda for his Las Vegas meeting or to tell Nova Scotians the nature of his discussions with his ITT Sheraton business partners;



Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Finance come clean with Nova Scotians and share the details of his Las Vegas trip, or failing that, that the minister provide the taxpayers of this province, who picked up the tab for his two day junket, with the reasons why he believes his trip to Las Vegas is none of their business.



MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.



The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.



RESOLUTION NO. 677



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



Whereas millions of public dollars and considerable effort were invested to establish a state-of-the-art manufacturing facility, with well trained, committed employees in the North Sydney-Sydney Mines industrial park; and



Whereas with provincial financing and generous training assistance, IMP took over that plant in 1992; and



Whereas this government is now washing its hands of the whole issue, despite repeated Liberal commitments to decentralizing both public and private sector jobs;



Therefore be it resolved that this House urges the Premier to ensure that his Economic Development Agency and Finance Ministers review the planned transfer from Cape Breton of the heavily subsidized manufacturing equipment in the IMP plant and aggressively pursue their commitment to keep and secure high-value jobs in Cape Breton.



MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.



The honourable member for Cape Breton West.



RESOLUTION NO. 678



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



Whereas Enterprise Cape Breton provided funding to IMP in the past to assist with operations at their plant in the Northside Industrial Park; and



Whereas the Nova Scotia Business Capital Corporation provided IMP with a $5 million loan to acquire a substantial amount of equipment three years ago; and



Whereas residents of Cape Breton and workers at IMP have a number of questions they want answered prior to IMP's closure in North Sydney;



Therefore be it resolved that the Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency actively help the residents of Cape Breton get answers to their questions before IMP pulls up shop, taking additional jobs out of job-starved Cape Breton.



MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.



The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.



RESOLUTION NO. 679



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



Whereas more than 1 in 10 Nova Scotians are receiving welfare and many Nova Scotian municipalities are facing budget difficulties that could force a lowering of the general assistance funding paid to single people who cannot find work; and



[12:15 p.m.]



Whereas the Minister of Community Services is negotiating a new deal for social assistance with the administrators of the merging metro municipality; and



Whereas the Minister of Community Services said it won't be possible for the province to immediately assume the costs of metro's welfare rolls, as was done in Cape Breton;



Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Community Services initiate a plan and urge the adoption of it by members of Cabinet that would see the province assume complete responsibility for social assistance costs in the new metro municipality or remove the cap it has imposed on municipalities.



MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.



The honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party.



RESOLUTION NO. 680



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



Whereas Halifax County Council has called upon the Education Minister to intervene in the Halifax County-Bedford District School Board's bus privatization dispute; and



Whereas school boards were urged to consider privatization of bus services, although other forms of cooperation offered equal or greater savings without loss of assets, loss of flexibility in employee assignments and higher user fees; and



Whereas with massive amalgamations pending, this is no time for school boards to make expensive, irreversible commitments;



Therefore be it resolved that the Education Minister should comply with Halifax County Council's request that he intervene in the school bus privatization uproar and ensure that a new, amalgamated board can pursue the most sensible, public-spirited options.



MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.



The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.



RESOLUTION NO. 681



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



Whereas independent reviews of major hospital mergers have discovered little or no benefits, either economic or medical, from the enormous cost and disruption; and



Whereas one such review found little or no groundwork before most hospital mergers, stating that the rationale is often purely anecdotal; and



Whereas the Health Department has twice confirmed that it did no studies, forecast targets or any other work to consider the effect of the QE II amalgamation before plunging ahead;



Therefore be it resolved that this House urges the government to suspend all expenditures on the QE II merger, including the $12 million plus to renovate a new, unused hospital, until an independent audit and assessment determines whether there will be in fact be benefits from such a merger.



MR. SPEAKER: All right. I will let that notice be tabled. I think that a bill was just introduced the very topics the resolution deals with, but, to be fair to the honourable member, the notice is tabled. I know you wrote it before you knew a bill would be coming in here today.



Are there further notices of motion?



If not, I wish to advise the House that the Clerk conducted a draw for the Adjournment debate at 6:00 o'clock and the winner is our good friend, the honourable member for Halifax Atlantic. He has submitted a motion - I will not read it in full, he can read it when he gets his turn at 6:00 o'clock - but it calls for the Premier to ensure that his Guidelines for Monthly Reporting of Ministerial Expenses be adhered to, in the terms of the resolution, rigorously. So we will hear debate on that topic at 6:00 o'clock this afternoon.



Now I will state that the time is now 12:19 p.m.. The Oral Question Period will run for one hour today, that is until 1:19 p.m.





ORDERS OF THE DAY



ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition, to begin.



COMMUN. SERV.: SOCIAL SERV. - ADMIN. COSTS



DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Community Services. Yesterday the minister is reported to have said that the province would not be taking over the full cost of social services in the new metro municipality beginning on April 1st. Instead, the minister said that the province will take over the cost of administering social services in metro but, in fact, would still require a contribution through the municipal tax structure.



My question to the minister, is the minister now indicating that he is prepared to take over the administrative costs of social services throughout the province, or is the offer limited to metro only?



HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, the commitment of this government to a one-tiered system is well-known. We have been evaluating our model in Cape Breton, the project. We are looking at other areas in the province where that may be able to be used. Areas that have moved toward amalgamation may well be easier to look at.



As far as the overall plan, the goal is to move to a one-tiered system within the Province of Nova Scotia. There are talks and negotiations ongoing with the people involved with setting up the new administration in the metro community. How that will look and how that will take shape will depend on the various options that arise from those conversations. But the overall goal in the long term and whatever timeframe might evolve would be to move in the Province of Nova Scotia as has been a point of our discussions.



DR. HAMM: I am unclear really what the minister has told us in his answer. Mr. Speaker, it certainly had been publicly stated by the government that it was their intention to take over the entire cost of municipal assistance as units around the province underwent merger processes.



Now in the minister's announcement yesterday, my specific question is, is this offer then to administer a one-tiered social service program in metro, is it as well associated with the province assuming an increasing percentage of the cost of the delivery of that program? Or is he merely saying that they will deliver the program, the cost-sharing will remain the same but he will take on some new administration costs?



DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I would like to be perfectly clear in the Leader of the Opposition's first statement relative to taking over all the costs of social assistance in the province. That initially, as the Leader may know, was part of negotiations between the Department of Municipal Affairs, representing our government, and the municipal units. There were not sufficient monies within that exchange to make that a neutral exchange and that has been quite clearly understood by the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities and this government.



What will take place would be a matter of negotiations and the options that would be open, Mr. Speaker, and that is as much as I could say at this time.



DR. HAMM: Mr. Speaker, to continue with the minister. Can the minister inform the House as to the actual cost of the administering of the program in metro? In other words, how many dollars will his department be putting into this program to administer the program, dollars that now are being provided for the administration of the program by the municipalities as they self-administer the program?



DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I will try to answer the question as well as I can. The total cost of the administration and the actual payments in the metro area at this juncture would be somewhere less than around the $24 million mark. What arrangements would be made with the new municipal unit as to the cost-sharing basis will have to be determined with that administration.



MR. SPEAKER: On a new question, the honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.



MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I would like to direct my question through you to the Minister of Health. You and other members of this House will be aware of the fact that about a year and a half ago there was a new designation of a hospital in this city called the Queen Elizabeth II Health Sciences Centre and there has been considerable effort expended over that time since towards merging of the four major health institutions.



MR. SPEAKER: Before we get into trouble, perhaps the honourable member could try another question because the minister has just introduced a bill to do that and that cuts off discussion in Question Period of the content of that bill.



MR. CHISHOLM: I am not talking about the bill.



MR. SPEAKER: All right then, if you know what you are doing, fine. Just trying to help, that's all.



MR. CHISHOLM: Thank you. I appreciate that and, understanding your rulings in the past, I would certainly not want to trespass on that ground.



The issue here, Mr. Speaker, is the decision to merge these four major hospitals in Halifax. The minister made the statement again outside the House today, in the Red Chamber, and said that it is done to better target patient care and, as he said, the outcome is better health care for Nova Scotians.



I would like to ask the minister if he would please table here in the House today, any study, any analysis, any assessment that has been done that would lead him to believe that the merger of these four institutions will lead, in fact, to better health care for patients?



MR. SPEAKER: With greatest deference, that question is out of order. Now I will allow another question from the New Democratic Party on some other subject but that question is out of order because the bill to do all that was just introduced here in the House. Is there another question on some other subject?



MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, the bill in the House has to do with the physical and administrative decisions with respect to merging. I am asking about . . .



MR. SPEAKER: I rule the question out of order.



MR. CHISHOLM: I am asking, Mr. Speaker, about the decision . . .



MR. SPEAKER: Is there another question from another member? The question is out of order.



MR. CHISHOLM: . . . and how it leads to better patient care.



MR. SPEAKER: The question is out of order.



MR. CHISHOLM: How is it out of order? It doesn't have anything to do with the bill.



MR. SPEAKER: It is out of order, it deals with the bill. Is there another question?



MR. CHISHOLM: I will readdress my question, Mr. Speaker.



MR. SPEAKER: Is there a new question? Another subject?



MR. CHISHOLM: I will ask a new question to the minister.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.



HEALTH - HFX. INFIRMARY: ALTERATIONS - COST



MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, the new Halifax Infirmary that was developed for some considerable number of tens of millions of dollars, hundreds of millions of dollars, $150 million is being reorganized in order to accommodate new functions. The renovations are expected to cost in the area of $12 million.



I would like to ask the minister if he has assured himself, if he is convinced, in fact, that the renovations that are planned for the new Infirmary complex can, in fact, be done for $12 million?



HON. RONALD STEWART: Mr. Speaker, I welcome that question. I welcome any question which seeks information on how we are planning better in this province to deliver services, to avoid duplication, to avoid the crushing problem of non-planning. I would suggest that those who are involved in the provision of services in the new facilities would be very competent to determine whether or not this is the proper and fiscally prudent way to go. I have great confidence in the clinical plan that was announced just this week to, in fact, use this new facility so very wisely and so very well.



MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I may be mistaken but I think the minister actually answered the question that you ruled out of order. Does that mean, then that I can ask for further clarification?



MR. SPEAKER: I am not trying to play games here.



MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, the question that I just asked the minister, actually, that he did not answer, had to do with the fact that after $150 million was spent to build a new hospital to be called the new Infirmary, after $150 million was allocated to build that complex, another $12 million is being expended in order to renovate to accommodate new functions. (Interruption)



I can table for the minister, Mr. Speaker, because he asked me who told me that and it is the Task Force on Clinical Program Rationalization Interim Report of the Steering Committee. I will be happy to table that. It says in there, in the $12 million range.



I would like to ask the minister if he could confirm here in the House and table any evidence that will assure him and all Nova Scotians that after $150 million was spent and now a further $12 million, that in fact all of the renovations that need to be carried out in order to fit in with the plan of the new facility will in fact be done within that $12 million?



DR. STEWART: Mr. Speaker, I marvel at the ability of the honourable gentleman opposite to quote from interim reports, reports that are at least three or four months old which he tables in the House, as he is wont to do, to comment on data, particularly in respect to home care, that are years old, and then expect me to comment on those presentations. I will simply say again that the provision of clinical services will follow the guidelines in the province, the guidelines in terms of expenditure reduction, the guidelines in respect, particularly, of patient management and clinical services. I have every confidence in the administrators and the clinical people who are at that facility to make the correct decisions.



MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, let me just say to the minister that I use what information the minister will grudgingly release on health care plans, on plans with respect to the QE II or anything else. If he has information to contradict what I have, then please release it.



MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.



MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, my final question to the minister is what assurances can he give Nova Scotians that after $150 million was spent, now a further $12 million is projected, what assurance can he give Nova Scotians that no other money will be spent to further renovate and change the Infirmary after $162 million has been spent? What assurances can he give Nova Scotians that that money is going to be accounted for?



[12:30 p.m.]



DR. STEWART: Mr. Speaker, I certainly will give the assurances to the honourable member opposite and to the people of Nova Scotia that the decisions, both fiscal and clinical, that are being made are being made by those very people who are providing the services and who are, in fact, the best judges of what they need in terms of provision of care to Nova Scotians and Atlantic Canadians. I would think that we would take some comfort in knowing that the decisions will rest with those who provide the service under the guidelines we have already issued for two years.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.



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



DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, a question to the Minister of Municipal Affairs. The minister is reported to have met yesterday with the Mayor of the new Cape Breton Regional Municipality. The item on the agenda was the $15 million deficit that the municipality has reported in recent weeks after just over three months in operation. I further understand that the minister has agreed to a special financial arrangement to address the problem. My question to the minister is will she confirm just how much additional money she has agreed to provide to the municipality to help them with this deficit?



HON. SANDRA JOLLY: Mr. Speaker, as the honourable member knows, based on the question I answered in the House yesterday, that in actual fact, yes, Mayor Coady and I had a meeting with our officials yesterday. We went through a proposal, a plan of action that they brought forward that had been constructed from the very diligent work of both of our staffs and we went through that discussion. As I said yesterday in the questions by his member in the back bench and the press, at this time Mayor Coady would like to have an opportunity to have his council see what the plan of action is and have an opportunity to have it reviewed by those individuals. I think that is a very fair request.



DR. HAMM: Mr. Speaker, to continue with the minister. The minister must certainly understand the interest in this particular arrangement as it is a very serious problem. It is my understanding, and I may be wrong on this but I believe council met last night in Sydney, so I would presume they now have the arrangement explained to them. My question to the minister is will she confirm just how many more jobs are to be lost in the municipality, and was that discussed and what is her appreciation of the job loss that will be required as the municipality comes to grips with the deficit that the mayor reported to her some three weeks ago?



MS. JOLLY: Mr. Speaker, as the honourable member says, it is very important to all of us. In the Cape Breton Regional Municipality, we have 120,000 population which is a very large percentage of the population in this province. That is why I felt it was so important that we try to negotiate, we try to assist the municipality in order to deal with the very serious financial problem that they have there.



Jobs are a question, a concern I think that we have all over the province. We are not concerned just about jobs in Cape Breton, we are concerned about jobs all over the province. So as a specific item within the meeting, it wasn't something that I addressed but, at the same time, I can tell you that on an ongoing basis we talk about jobs, we talk about how we can create them and how we can ensure that they are there. That is why it is very important that the Cape Breton Regional Municipality have an opportunity to put together and to put in order its fiscal house, the same as this government had to do.



When the Cape Breton Regional Municipality came into effect on August 1st, they had some serious financial situations to deal with, exactly the same as this government had to do when we came into office in 1993. I have every confidence they will do a good job of it.



DR. HAMM: Mr. Speaker, by way of final supplementary, recent information that shows increased transition costs to the new metro merger has come forward, is the minister prepared to make a special arrangement with the new merging units here in metro to cover the increased transition costs which appear to be larger than those that were anticipated when the original study was made? Is she prepared to discuss a special arrangement with this new merging municipality as well?



MS. JOLLY: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member would suggest that he is already aware of what is in the agreement or what is in the proposed action plan. I would quite honestly suggest that until the information has been made available and agreed to, it is a plan of action that is on the table, there has been nothing that has been agreed to by the council in that area. Certainly, I think it has been well noted - I have to go back to the history a little bit - we had 6 out of 8 units that were financially in great serious difficulty. That is why we had to do the amalgamation in the first place. In metro, I have said any number of times, it is quite a different scenario. We have four very strong municipalities that are coming together, but in Cape Breton, we had 6 out of 8 that emergency funding out of my department was almost $4 million a year. Those are things that have to be taken into consideration and I think when he tries to compare the Cape Breton amalgamation and the Halifax metro amalgamation, there is quite a difference.



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



MUN. AFFS. - C.B. REG. MUN.: INFRASTRUCTURE PROG. - APPROVALS



DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, again to the Minister of Municipal Affairs. I recall very clearly, when the information came over the electronic media that debts were mounting astronomically in the new Cape Breton Regional Municipality. I certainly took from the minister's reaction that she was equally as surprised. The minister reported in the Legislature on Tuesday that $18 million was expended by the eight municipal units in Cape Breton for infrastructure programs. Will the minister confirm that she approved in writing each and every individual project, prior to the municipal units being given the green light to proceed with these infrastructure programs?



HON. SANDRA JOLLY: Mr. Speaker, as is part of the infrastructure program, when we had initially sent out the amounts of monies that were available for all 18 counties in the province, the amounts of monies that were available in the Cape Breton area, I believe, were between $17 million and $18 million, but I would have to double-check that number. But certainly that was one-third of the funding available that had to be put forward by the municipalities. All projects were nominated by the municipalities and put forward to the Province of Nova Scotia for approval.



DR. HAMM: Mr. Speaker, again with the minister. Would the minister recollect, when she was involved in approving these expenditures by the municipalities, how many of the $18 million of projects required long-term financing and would have an ongoing financial impact on the new municipality?



MS. JOLLY: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member, I think, is trying to make a picture that this is funding that capital requirements were never required in the municipality. As all of us know here, the municipality is the same as the province; they have capital budgets, they deal in capital construction and it is necessary for a municipality, as well as a province, in order to keep upgrading their infrastructure and to be able to build. As he talks about in his earlier question about jobs, that is one of the things you have to do. You have to keep your infrastructure up and keep it growing in order to ensure jobs are able to come to the area.



DR. HAMM: Mr. Speaker, the minister, I think, is finally getting my point, which is that there was information available to her that should not have really surprised her when some of these cost overruns were starting to be reported, because she, in fact, had approved the spending and the long-term borrowing. So, my final supplementary to the minister is simply, would she not agree that her department had information in terms of the accumulated debt of the municipalities in that area, in terms of the information they had on the infrastructure programs with ongoing expenditures by these municipalities, that in fact the information was available to her department that would allow the department and the minister to predict that all was not well financially in the new Cape Breton Regional Municipality before the mayor came out and publicly stated so?



MS. JOLLY: Mr. Speaker, as I explained in the answer to the last question, these are capital expenditures. The honourable member may not be aware of the fact, but municipalities have capital reserves. Capital expenditures and operating expenditures are dealt quite differently, they are two separate sides of the agenda or two separate sides of the book. We give each municipality an unconditional capital grant, we provide them from the department with unconditional capital grants. They have capital reserves that are set up for equipment purchases, for capital construction. They save money each year. They sell equipment in order to buy other equipment. The capital side of the ledger is quite different than the operating side of the ledger.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Queens.



FISH.: DFO-FISHERS INSHORE (RES. NO. 59) - ACTION



MR. JOHN LEEFE: Mr. Speaker, I was busy penning a letter there and I am pleased that you caught me on the question.



My question, Mr. Speaker, is to the Minister of Fisheries. On April 6th, this House unanimously passed a resolution calling on the Government of Canada and particularly the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and Minister Tobin not to impose a very extensive regime of fees on fishermen in Canada and most particularly, of course, in Nova Scotia. I wonder if the minister could very briefly give us an indication of what action he took on behalf of this House consequent to that resolution to try to convince Minister Tobin that he should not proceed with that regime?



HON. JAMES BARKHOUSE: Mr. Speaker, it is a very excellent question. Just this past week, while I was absent, I was in Charlottetown meeting with the other Fisheries Ministers from across Canada. On Thursday, we met with Minister Tobin with respect to this very important issue. On November 11th, the license fees were tabulated in the Gazette and there is a 30 day period of opportunity for both the provinces and the fishing industry to make representations for adjustments in the license fee structure that has been promulgated in the Gazette. This time there is a considerable amount of discussion taking place between the industry and Minister Tobin. In the very near future, I plan to be going to Ottawa to discuss the same matters with Minister Tobin on this very serious issue.



MR. LEEFE: Mr. Speaker, my supplementary is to the Premier. On November 15th, the House again passed a resolution, unanimously, which called upon the Premier to contact Minister Tobin, again to demand that these fees not be imposed at this time. I wonder if the Premier could advise the House if, in fact, he has responded to that motion which was passed by the Legislature?



HON. JOHN SAVAGE (The Premier): Mr. Speaker, it is in hand. The document is ready to go.



MR. LEEFE: I thank the Premier for his response and I would ask the Premier if at his earliest convenience he would make the document available to the House? Thank you.



MR. SPEAKER: Very well. The honourable member for Hants West.



WCB - APPEAL BOARDS: VICE-CHAIRMEN - NUMBER



MR. RONALD RUSSELL: My question is for the Minister of Labour. Mr. Speaker, in great haste we passed the new Workers' Compensation Act earlier this year. Some parts of that Act still have not been proclaimed. I would like to ask the minister though with regard to the Compensation Appeal Boards, how many, I presume they are vice-chairmen, are out there now winding up the appeals that have been outstanding for the last several years?



HON. GUY BROWN: Mr. Speaker, we have just hired 8 or 9 new ones for a three month period. So there are approximately 10 or 12 out there actively now. They are not full time. That is the problem. We are trying to get a lot of hours on them but we are still on target and I would hope to have most of the appeals cleared up or wiped out except the ones that will be held up for medical information, which we cannot deal with, by the time the new Act is proclaimed.



[12:45 p.m.]



MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, it is my understanding that an Appeal Board now consists of a vice-chairman plus one other. I was wondering if the minister would confirm that the number of outstanding cases at the present time is still somewhere around about the 2,000 figure?



MR. BROWN: Yes, he is absolutely right, but there would only be about 300 of them that will be dealt with by the Appeal Board because some 500 applications came in on June 1st which will be dealt with under the old procedure. For training of some new people, yes, we have hearings now with two or three people and it is partly for training purposes. I would like to get it so that everybody can do an appeal and that is the way we have to get rid of them much faster.



I would like to say, Mr. Speaker, to all members of the House, through the question, that we have proclaimed in Cabinet, effective February 1st, the new WCB Act.



MR. RUSSELL: I don't know why it takes a year to proclaim an Act, Mr. Speaker, but nevertheless, my question then is, would the number of vice-chairmen that you have at the present time and the types of claims they are dealing with, is it possible that that backlog of approximately 2,000 would be wiped out by the time the proclamation date for the new Act takes effect?



MR. BROWN: Mr. Speaker, I would hope so. The problem we have is that we have contacted a lot of the lawyers dealing with cases, some of them are not ready to move forward and other ones are waiting for medical evidence. I would hope that by the time the new Act is in we would have most of them, unless there are special circumstances. I have only appointed these people, their terms will be expired by the end of January and they are working their hearts out so I would hope to have it done. I don't want to extend any more terms.



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



EDUC. - HFX. CO.-BEDFORD DIST. SCHOOL BOARD:

BUSING - PRIVATIZATION



MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I would like to direct a question through you, sir, to the Minister of Education. The minister, of course, will know that the Halifax County-Bedford District School Board is planning to privatize its conveyance of students. That, the minister of course would know, would lock the new board that the minister is going to be creating into that contract for a period of at least five years and it will make it virtually impossible for the new board to reverse that decision because the buses and the garages, et cetera, will all have been sold off. Halifax County is the latest who has entered the controversy, and has asked by way of resolution that the minister intervene and not permit the privatization to take place.



Could the minister indicate if he is prepared to intervene and to tell the Halifax County-Bedford District School Board properly so that they may not now privatize that bus service?



HON. JOHN MACEACHERN: Mr. Speaker, I thank the honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party for the question. First of all, it is part of a resolution he gave today. He suggests, and I think that is the direction of his question, that school boards were urged to consider privatization. I do not know of any such urging toward privatization. He may be able to inform the House of what that was about.



One of the things we have talked about in this House over the last period of time is the relative authorities of the Department of Education and the school boards. The school boards do have authorities, they have significant authorities and my job is to make sure that they are fiscally responsible and that is the only check that I have on this. If he is suggesting that somehow - I remember in this House, in fact I think it was the honourable member who referred to me as a tin pot dictator. I would suggest to him that that is not the stance I would take. The school boards are elected people and they make such decisions themselves.



MR. HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I know you would have ruled me out of order had I said that. The minister, of course, also knows that in Kings County where they were privatizing, they had to get the minister's approval before that was done. The report of the transportation committee for the Halifax County board points out that the proponents will be moving to part-time driving positions only. That means that the benefits for the employees will disappear, the wages will go down, all of these dollar savings, so that the operators can make their increased profits while the workers, the people who have been providing this valuable service for students and boards across the province, are paying the price.



My question quite simply for the minister, is that the minister's and this government's view on how employees who have been providing this service should be treated under this minister's education system?



MR. MACEACHERN: Mr. Speaker, I think the honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party failed to listen to the previous question. The decisions being made, and I think it is a proponent who is putting forth a proposal, I don't think this has been finally decided, I think it is something that is being considered by the school board at the present time. I would suggest to the honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party that it is not my position to dictate to this board as they make their mandated decisions, because they are elected people.



MR. HOLM: Mr. Speaker, the minister is still very adept at not answering the question. Under the funding arrangement at the present time the department provides up to $4,000 for capital school replacement of buses, for buses that are owned by the board, and $2,000 if busing service is provided by a private operator. Is part of the provincial government's projected savings for the amalgamation of the school boards based, in large part, upon those school boards privatizing out the conveyance of that bus service, so that the workers will pay, of course by reduced wages and benefits, and that the province can save by not providing as much money for the replacement of school buses?



MR. MACEACHERN: The short answer, Mr. Speaker, is no, the boards have their budgets for this year and two more years following and they are making decisions based on those budgets.



Our savings that we described were based very clearly on the savings that could be made in terms of administrative structures and so on. We have published that, we have tabled it in this House and if the honourable member would like to look at that, he is welcome to do so.



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



HEALTH - HOME HOSP. PROG.: DRUGS - COVERAGE



MR. GEORGE ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, through you I would like to ask a question to the Minister of Health. I received a letter recently from a 64 year old gentleman who is trying to cope with tremendous pain resulting from a prostate cancer operation. The drug costs for the gentleman are about $300 a month; $180 of this is the cost of morphine. This gentleman and his wife are existing on a very low income. They are not looking for help with all the costs of all the drugs. However, he is interested to know whether the government would assist him with the cost of the $180 a month he is paying for morphine. Certainly if he was in the hospital the government would purchase the drug for him. If he was on home care, I am wondering, would the Department of Health, through the home care system, pick up the cost of the morphine for this gentleman?



HON. RONALD STEWART: Mr. Speaker, I am not familiar with the case to which he refers. I will take it as a principle, would the drugs be covered? Under the Home Hospital Program, if he were in the Home Hospital Program, they would be covered as if he were in hospital.



I might suggest, however, that there may be other ways of approaching the problem. I would certainly invite the honourable member opposite to refer the case on to us, to make sure that the person may well be in the Home Hospital Program. If not, how we might get him the services.



I might, by way of just a comment, say that that appears to be, if, indeed, morphine is the medication, it seems to be a problem, I would be happy to look at it and comment.



MR. ARCHIBALD: Thank you. I will furnish you further details. The couple have been, through their family doctor and their specialist, trying to get some assistance from the government in that way, to help with the cost of this morphine, and they have been unsuccessful this far. But if you, as minister, will look into this and help them, I am sure they will be most appreciative. Thank you.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.



TRANSPORT. - HFX.: ICEBREAKING CHARGES - INTERVENTION



DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Premier. The Premier is, no doubt, very familiar with a Coast Guard document that is out there for public consultation, proposed options for a marine services fee. Would the Premier explain what measures he has taken to ensure that there is no harm imposed on the Port of Halifax which would come about by the imposition of an arbitrary icebreaking fee, bearing in mind that our Port of Halifax is an ice-free port? Could the Premier give us his intervention in this regard?



THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I think this falls within the purview of the Minister of Transportation and I would ask him to answer it.



HON. RICHARD MANN: Mr. Speaker, I welcome the question from the honourable Leader of the Opposition. This, of course, has been cause for concern to the Province of Nova Scotia and the Port of Halifax and other ports throughout the province as to the impact, on our businesses, shippers and on our ports that would occur if Coast Guard fees were imposed in such a way that we would end up paying for services used in other parts of the country.



We, as a province, have made representation on this issue to federal ministers and to committees of the House of Commons on several occasions. We have also joined in support with a recent submission made by the Halifax Port Corporation. The Premier has loaned his support to this. We have met with federal MPs to voice our concerns. The policy staff in the Department of Transportation and Communications has been contacting individual industries and companies that may be negatively affected to take into account the concerns they would have and it is being put together, some of it has been and was forwarded to the federal minister responsible and to those MPs who are arranging meetings and making representation on behalf of all who have concerns.



DR. HAMM: Mr. Speaker, I thank the Minister of Transportation and Communications for his answer. Again to the Premier, has the Premier conferred with Premier McKenna of New Brunswick to discuss taking a proactive bi-provincial assault against this threat to ice-free Maritime ports, bearing in mind they have a similar interest in the Port of Saint John? Has the Premier given any thought to that kind of united approach?



THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I would have to say that we discussed it at the last meeting in October in Prince Edward Island. There are differences, however, between the Port of Halifax and the Port of Saint John. We have taken it under advisement, but I am not sure that it is an issue that joint action is liable to be any more effective than a single action taken by one province.



DR. HAMM: Mr. Speaker, I don't necessarily agree with the Premier's conclusion; I think very often Premier McKenna has been very effective in dealing with the federal government. I think a bi-provincial approach may be a much better way to go about it.



By way of final supplementary, will the Premier commit today to take these very serious concerns about us participating in an arbitrary icebreaking fee, is he prepared to take this issue directly to the Prime Minister, to make absolutely sure that the Prime Minister understands what a serious matter this is for Nova Scotia and our ice-free ports here in the east?



THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, it is perfectly clear from the answers rendered by the Minister of Transportation and Communications that we take this very seriously. I have been involved, he has been involved, and I dare say that we have made more progress in dealing with some of the issues that relate to the port as a gateway than in the previous 15 years when the other government was in there.





We will continue to approach this because of the importance of the port and the issue of whether or not they are icebreaking is an issue with which we are very familiar and we will continue to do so; I will go to the Prime Minister when I consider it important and when the government asks me to do that. It is not an issue that you use too often. (Applause)



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings West.



NSLC: LIQUOR DELIVERY PROGRAM - LICENSES



MR. GEORGE MOODY: Mr. Speaker, through you to the Minister responsible for the Liquor Commission. In August, the Nova Scotia Liquor Commission put a program in place that would allow the licensing of companies to deliver liquor to people with a charge of the liquor plus a $5 minimum carrying charge. I understand there were two companies licensed by the Liquor Commission in August. In September, the minister instructed the Liquor Commission staff not to issue any more licenses, that is what I understand. Would the minister tell me and all Nova Scotians today the status of the program and how two companies, without the thing being tendered, how they were selected?



[1:00 p.m.]



HON. ELEANOR NORRIE: Mr. Speaker, I thank the member opposite for the question. The Nova Scotia Liquor Commission introduced a home delivery program in August-September. That program now has been suspended after some consultations with myself as the minister. It is now under review. They are auditing the whole process and when they do consult with all the stakeholders across the province, if they can still justify the fact that it is a good sound business decision, they will bring a recommendation back to me on whether they want to continue that or not.



MR. MOODY: I think I heard the minister say the program was suspended so there is nobody with a license. Is that as I understand it? I would ask the minister why anyone would need a license. As I understand it under the Act today, I can buy liquor for my friend to the right or friend to the left (Laughter) and deliver it to them, as long as you are of legal age and that I don't charge them any more for the liquor than I paid for it, in other words, whatever I pay. I don't need a license. Would the minister indicate today, under the present Act, that one doesn't need a license to purchase liquor for someone else of age, as long as they don't charge more for the liquor than what the liquor cost?



MRS. NORRIE: Mr. Speaker, under the Liquor Control Act, the Nova Scotia Liquor Commission is the body that is authorized to transport liquor within the province or to authorize the transportation of liquor within the province. (Interruptions)



MR. SPEAKER: Well, that is what the minister says.



MR. MOODY: Mr. Speaker, I do know that you can buy liquor and transport it, for somebody else, without breaking the law. We allow it for gifts. It is in the Act. So my final supplementary is, when the minister was first asked about this issue in September, she was taken by surprise, as I understand it, didn't know that it was occurring.



I know that the minister receives, on a regular basis, the minutes of the Liquor Commission. Would the minister indicate to me, through the Speaker, whether or not, on a regular basis, she reviews those minutes from the Liquor Commission?



MRS. NORRIE: Mr. Speaker, minutes of the Liquor Commission's meetings arrive on my desk some time following the meetings and I do receive them at a date about a month after the meetings are held. (Interruption)



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.



HOUSING - SUBSIDENCE: INTER-DEPARTMENTAL COMM. - REPORT



DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, a question for the Minister of Housing and Consumer Affairs. It is now almost two years since three homes on Diamond Street in Westville have been seriously damaged through subsidence when the workings of the old Diamond Mine collapsed. In fact, one of those homes is still not inhabitable. The home has been rendered worthless and the lot on which it sits has been rendered worthless by subsidence.



Back in May the minister said in the House that there are four departments of government that have a committee in place to address the issue for the whole province. My question to the minister is, has this committee reported?



HON. ELEANOR NORRIE: Mr. Speaker, we have had several meetings across those four departments. We are still in the process of addressing the issue, working with the local area, the MLA from the area, and the ministers that are part of that committee, to try to come to a resolution that is satisfactory to those people who have been affected by this subsidence issue that happens in other areas of the province, as well.



DR. HAMM: Mr. Speaker, the minister's reply will be of little comfort to those who are sitting out or Diamond Street, one home completely uninhabitable and two other homes with temporary repairs allowing the residents to be there.



Can the minister give any kind of a timeframe in which she may be able to let these people know when it is that a program will be in place which will allow them to make, first of all, permanent repairs on their home and, I think, in one instance, some alternate arrangement because it well may be that that residence is beyond reclamation?



MRS. NORRIE: Mr. Speaker, I want to mention that this government is committed to safe, affordable housing to all Nova Scotians. Where we can supply that, we are making every effort to do so. This issue is being dealt with within the departments that have been identified to address the issue. As soon as we can come to a resolution that is satisfactory to all, it will be dealt with in a way that this province will be proud of, I am sure.



DR. HAMM: Mr. Speaker, by way of final supplementary, again, the minister has failed to give any kind of a timetable, which is really what is required here for these residents. Will the minister commit to keeping the lines of communications open with the residents on Diamond Street and will the minister commit to make available the plans that the government has and to give them some idea of when whatever it is the government plans to do for these residents, when, in fact, they can look for that program to be put in place so that they can put their residences back in shape and their lives can get back to normal?



MRS. NORRIE: Mr. Speaker, this issue isn't just located in one area of the province. It is an issue that affects other areas of the province from Cape Breton to Springhill and to Pictou County. It is an issue that has been ongoing for a number of years. This government is trying to come up with a program that would not only address the immediate issue, not only address the issue in that area but to address it all across the province and to address it in the years to come.



MR. SPEAKER: A new question, the honourable member for Pictou West.



SUPPLY AND SERV. - PICTOU: DETOX CENTRE - RELOCATION



MR. DONALD MCINNES: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Supply and Services. Would the minister tell me and the people of Pictou what his plans are to utilize the empty building on Elliot Street in Pictou, the former Children's Training Centre, which Supply and Services put a new roof on this summer, which was needed? Could the minister please tell us what the plans are for that building?



HON. GERALD O'MALLEY: Mr. Speaker, I thank the honourable member for his question. It is a matter that has been of great concern to him for some months now and he has queried me a number times on the matter. I am pleased to report to him that the Minister of Health in his unwavering determination to provide the absolute epitome of health care services has chosen this facility to house the detoxification centre that is currently in an old hospital building in the Town of Pictou, as the honourable member is aware. So that building will in the very near future, it is now being planned and retrofitted to house the detoxification centre consistent with the Minister of Health's determination.



MR. MCINNES: Mr. Speaker, to the minister, I appreciate that answer and I am glad to hear that the Minister of Health has made the decision to move that Drug Dependency Centre to Elliot Street. If I could go to the Minister of Health and just ask how soon would he expect that move to take place?



HON. RONALD STEWART: Mr. Speaker, I was just going to confer with my colleague to find out the state of retrofitting and so on, and I am sure we could confer. It is as soon as possible, because they really do need to move. I appreciate that question from the honourable member.



MR. SPEAKER: A question from the New Democratic Party. Do you have one?



AN HON. MEMBER: They are not even standing.



MR. SPEAKER: Well, it is their turn. (Interruption)



The honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party.



MR. JOHN HOLM: The Minister of Justice is implying there is a coalition between the New Democratic Party and the Speaker. (Laughter)



MR. SPEAKER: I try to see that everybody gets their fair share of the action.



The honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party.



HEALTH - LEGISLATION: BRIEFING NOTES - CIRCULATION



MR. JOHN HOLM: Through you, Mr. Speaker, to the Minister of Health. Earlier this afternoon, binders were passed out to Liberal members of this House - or folders were passed out - my question, quite simply, to the Minister of Health, did the Minister of Health pass out briefing notes on his legislation and so on, today, to Liberal members of this House and to Liberal members only?



MR. SPEAKER: I regret that that question would be out of order. It relates to a bill that has been introduced in the House which is . . .



MR. HOLM: No, I am asking if he provided information.



HON. RONALD STEWART: Mr. Speaker, I can only say that the press kits, I assume, were passed out to everyone at the press conference and should have been circulated.



AN HON. MEMBER: You usually do that.



DR. STEWART: I usually do that. I do it to everyone, in fact.



MR. HOLM: Well, Mr. Speaker, indeed press kits were passed out, I understand, at the press conference, but I also understand that there were packages passed to Liberal members of this House with the names of Liberal MLAs. (Interruptions)



MR. SPEAKER: All right. Now they have been passed out to you too. (Applause)



MR. HOLM: Now I have a copy, the Minister of Transportation's. I didn't get one in the beginning and I don't know if this is a complete one.



My question to the minister, through you, Mr. Speaker. Did the minister, in the packages that were provided to the Liberal MLAs, provide additional information on how to be answering specific kinds of questions, rather than providing it to all members of the House?



DR. STEWART: Mr. Speaker, I would certainly assure the honourable member opposite and all the Opposition that they got all of the notes from everyone and we would share them around, as we have done and proven to be the case. (Interruptions)



MR. HOLM: I am pleased that the minister is now committed to sharing things around because we found the last one, Mr. Speaker. When one sees that . . .



MR. SPEAKER: Question, please. Time is scarce, question.



MR. HOLM: Yes, it is, Mr. Speaker. When one sees packages of information going out with cards with only the names of Liberal MLAs and not being provided to Opposition members, one becomes slightly suspicious.



My question to the minister, through you, Mr. Speaker. Any briefing notes on the legislation, explaining it and so on, that he is providing to his caucus colleagues, is he prepared to provide that to all members of the House, not just have Opposition members find it by accident when it is provided to members of this House?



DR. STEWART: Mr. Speaker, suffice it to say that as we have shown in the past, the transparency that we seek in this government, that I would ensure that the honourable gentleman opposite and all members of the House be given information. I might say that the fact that the names are on the brochures indicates they came through caucus and were circulated, as we do and properly so, and we would follow those rigorous requirements of communication as often as we can.



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



NAT. RES. - FORESTRY: WOOD EXPORTS - MONITORING



MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Natural Resources. We are concerned about the health of the forestry and I know the minister is concerned about the health of the forestry. The forestry sector across Nova Scotia has encountered a number of difficulties of late and the minister's department has been asked if it could define its future role in forest management, and the recommendation from the coalition of forest interests was that the minister's department calculate the average annual supply of wood which the province's forests can sustain for each five year period. Considering the amount of wood leaving this province, it seems to me to be a very realistic approach to monitoring the amount of wood leaving the province; however, it has come to my attention that the minister and his officials are really not interested in that approach. My question is how does the minister intend to monitor the wood that is leaving this province?



HON. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, I don't know where the member opposite receives his information that says we are not interested in determining or understanding how much product leaves the province. Quite the contrary, we are very interested in knowing how much product is leaving the province in whole state.



MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, the minister is very interested in knowing how much wood leaves the province, but he doesn't have any mechanism in place to monitor it; that just doesn't make sense.



[1:15 p.m.]



Mr. Speaker, the Coalition of Nova Scotia Forest Interests have discussed, at least from an administrative aspect, the creation of a sustainable forestry board. I believe that would assist the Department of Natural Resources and the forest sector regarding sustainable forest management practices and matters.



Now there is considerable concern in the forest sector about Nova Scotia's forest industry going the way of the northern cod and none of us in here want that to happen. So can I ask the minister what his brief thoughts are on the creation of a sustainable forestry board? Does he support a sustainable forestry board?



MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, it is nice to hear the member opposite talk about the coalition for which I do believe the last time we were debating this issue he was almost condemning the fact that as minister, I was prepared to work with industry to find solutions and a made in Nova Scotia policy. So by the fact that this member is talking about the issues coming forward from the coalition, I appreciate very much his support to the mechanism that in fact this government brought forward and has never been done before in Nova Scotia.



Part of the recommendations of the coalition have yet to be totally finalized but part of it is talking about a sustainable development board. Many of those initiatives, once they come forward to me, supported by the coalition, obviously is something I feel very positive about. Sustainable development is a key pillar to the province's commitment to forestry in Nova Scotia. We are aware of the products leaving the Province of Nova Scotia, we are working with the coalition and have, for quite some time, in developing frameworks for implementing programs such as monitoring products leaving the province, as well as a proper program for sustainable development of the forests of the Province of Nova Scotia for future generations, Mr. Speaker.



MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Natural Resources did a very good job of not answering the question. I will again put the question to the Minister of Natural Resources. The wood fibre that is leaving our province is greater than the amount that is actually being used in our province, it is a very serious concern. When will the Minister of Natural Resources get a mechanism in place that will monitor the amount of wood fibre that is leaving this province? When?



MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, you know this member opposite is absolutely unbelievable; I called him Mexican overdrive last spring and I see him still in the same mode. The reality is if he has quantitative proof to be able to substantiate the comments he has made in regard to there being more product leaving this province in a whole log state than is being consumed in the Province of Nova Scotia. (Interruptions) He said it, Mr. Speaker, and if he is saying that I would like him to put to this House proof that that is actually happening. I believe he is totally mistaken and is misleading this House.



MR. SPEAKER: Well, I believe the time allotted for the Oral Question Period is pretty well expired.



The honourable Minister of Justice on a point of order relative to a previous question.



HON. WILLIAM GILLIS: Mr. Speaker, I simply want to return information requested yesterday by the member for Halifax Citadel. It is a copy of the Request for Proposals for a Project Manager for a Review of the Delivery of Legal Aid Services in Nova Scotia.



MR. SPEAKER: Very well. The time allotted for the Oral Question Period has expired. We now move to the order of business, Government Business.



GOVERNMENT BUSINESS



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.



HON. RICHARD MANN: I move that you do now leave the Chair, Mr. Speaker, and the House resolve itself into a Committee of the Whole House on Bills.



MR. SPEAKER: The motion is carried.



[1:19 p.m. The House resolved itself into a CWH on Bills with Deputy Speaker Mrs. Francene Cosman in the Chair.]



[6:00 p.m. CWH on Bills rose and the House reconvened. Mr. Speaker, Hon. Paul MacEwan, resumed the Chair.]



MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The winner of the Adjournment debate draw was the honourable member for Halifax Atlantic who has indicated he wishes to defer to the honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party, who wishes to debate the matter:



Therefore be it resolved the Premier ensure that his Guidelines for Monthly Reporting of Ministerial Expenses are adhered to rigorously or admit publicly they follow the principle of catch me if you can.



ADJOURNMENT



MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5)



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



PREMIER - EXPENSES: GUIDELINES - ADHERE



MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I welcome, but I regret that it is necessary to bring this topic before this House for debate tonight. Of course, the topic that I have called for debate, that I was lucky enough to win, was, in essence, that the Premier ensure that the guidelines that the Premier has introduced - and they are in fact the Premier's own guidelines dealing with expenses and the disclosure of those expenses - either be followed or that the government basically admit that they are a farce and that they have really little or no meaning, whatsoever.



What I am referring to, of course, are the Guidelines for Monthly Reporting of Ministerial Expenses. Mr. Speaker, these were introduced by the Premier after there had been considerable controversy as to what kind of expenses were being disclosed. They were tabled in this House by the Premier on June 14, 1994. Under those guidelines, they say such things as: "These are guidelines for the Premier and Ministers to ensure uniform reporting of current monthly expenses in a place where the public can see the information.". They go on to say that, "The Premier and Ministers will report all of their travel expenses and other expenses . . .", that includes air travel, "Ministerial expenses will be reported regardless of the method by which they are paid." and, that they " . . . will submit monthly summaries . . .". It goes on to say, "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.". And they go on, and, of course, they are to be on a current basis.



Now you know in the past, Mr. Speaker, that government members, ministers - and I am not just casting my brush here at the current group of ministers or the Premier - there have been tendencies for Premiers and ministers to hide expenses. Expenses that would normally have occurred to them, or been credited to them, have been hidden within department budgets or, in fact, on other department budgets. I am sure that we will all remember hearing stories about who used the government plane, what did it cost and government helicopters and so on.



These guidelines were put in place by the Premier in recognition that there was a right for full public disclosure of such expenses. Now it is not the first time that, for example, the Premier has been caught. I am not suggesting by raising this tonight - nor did I the other day, Mr. Speaker, yesterday when I tried to raise questions - that there is anything untoward going on by the Premier or members of his Cabinet, when I say untoward in terms of anything that is dishonest, or that the Premier did not have a right to travel to Switzerland, to China or to do the other business. But if these regulations and if people are to have any faith, any confidence, that these guidelines are, in fact, being followed or, in fact, any guidelines, any regulations are going to be followed, it is essential that the First Minister, the Premier, be the one who leads by example. That is important if there is to be confidence, if we are to have confidence to ensure that expenses are not being hidden and costs not shown. (Interruption)



Now I understand the member for Cape Breton South is going to speak in this debate a little bit later on; I am not sure.



AN HON. MEMBER: He speaks in every debate, from his seat.



MR. HOLM: Now, Mr. Speaker, this isn't the first time that the Premier, as I have said, has been caught. Hopefully what we do not have is a situation that, everything will be disclosed when you catch me. Hopefully that is not the policy and that is not the message that is trying to be shown.



The guidelines, as I said, were tabled after there had been concerns raised about expenditures. In September 1995, it was reported in the press that it had been identified that air fare for travel, to which he was entitled, to go to Toronto had not been recorded as was proper according to the Premier's own guidelines. Instantly, it turns out, the Premier was able to refile a revised statement to show those proper costs. Of course, even though it was not, apparently, possible to have kept on top of this for filing properly in the first place, I understand that the Premier's staff were able to rebuke the media for raising any questions about it in the first place.



Then we discover, dealing with KLM, $150,000 worth of tickets which are billed back to the Economic Renewal Agency. When one looks at the freedom of information request, again you discover that under the Economic Renewal Agency there are costs for some tickets that do not show up on expense claims that were filed as they are supposed to be filed. One, of course, was for a former Cabinet Minister, another was for the Premier. I understand that after this was pointed out, the Premier has filed a revised statement, today, and shown what the true cost of that air fare was - today, after he has been caught again.



I would suggest, and the Premier has done this on other occasions when problems were identified with these, he has sent memoranda to his Executive Council reminding them what the guidelines state and telling them that they are to adhere to them. Maybe the Premier will agree to do that again, today. Possibly, he might even want to affix a copy of the memorandum to his own office door. (Interruption)



The Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency says that it is a pretty substantive debate. Well, maybe that minister would like to make sure that when those tickets that are paid for by the Province of Nova Scotia, by the taxpayers, and who are supposed to have that billed back to the minister who has used them, will ensure that, in future, if the minister who used it does not come to his department looking for the information, that will be sent instantly so that that minister will be able to claim it properly. It is the responsibility of the person filing the claim to ensure that they check it out. (Interruptions)



I hear the heckles from the back benches of the Premier, those who want to make sure that they stay in his good graces, I hear the heckles from them. I say in all sincerity to them, the Premier and all others, if these guidelines mean anything, if it was not just killing a tree so that you would have something to write your information on, surely the Premier is the one who has to lead by example and Nova Scotians are looking for that leadership from the Premier.



I see that you are telling me my time has expired, so I look forward to the Premier's response and commitment to following his own guidelines in the future.





MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Premier.



THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I am delighted to have this opportunity of discussing some details that are obviously important, but in the right perspective. I welcome this opportunity. It is a rare opportunity for me to have the floor on an issue that is obviously one that attracts the interest of all of us, which is correctness and honesty in government.



I don't think there is any doubt, Mr. Speaker, that what we are seeing is the Third Party attempting to make a loaded issue out of my expenses, as if there was any attempt to hide anything. That is, I guess, to be expected, because, perhaps, and the evidence is all around us at times, the member opposite is lost in a time warp. He is confusing this government with previous governments who did, indeed, have things to hide. This government has nothing to hide, nothing at all. I think that it is telling that for all the Third Party's efforts to inflate this to an incident like bingo, oh sorry, like bingogate. This is, indeed, a harangue about bookkeeping information that was quite public to begin with in the first place. (Applause)



I think we have a serious responsibility to deal with issues that concern the member opposite as they do us, but, I guess, since it was his choice and he did win the toss, then we have to listen and walk through some of the items that he chooses as important and significant. The Third Party, the Party that raises this issue, has really no track record to answer on the question of expenses because, Mr. Speaker, they have never been in government.



AN HON. MEMBER: And never will.



THE PREMIER: I would not be so presumptuous as to add that, but I would suggest that if they are bent on a moral crusade that perhaps they would want to look at the way in which they look at their expenses. It may be of interest some time for some of the media to ask them some questions too. I know that as a Third Party, they are not required to submit their expenses to the Executive Council Office for public scrutiny. It is interesting that whereas the former Leader of the Conservative Party and the former Leader of the Official Opposition did submit to the Executive Council Office voluntarily, the NDP did not and still does not do the same. I wonder, Mr. Speaker, do they, perhaps, have anything to hide? It is not my practice to throw innuendo across the floor, but maybe it is something that we might look at in the answers that may flow from the Party opposite.



This government, Mr. Speaker, was elected, resoundingly, I might add, on an ambitious platform of policies which included many issues of strategic importance to the future of this province. Among those policy issues was a clear commitment to openness and accountability because Nova Scotia had, for a long time, been misled on critical matters, such as the exact size of our debt, the true nature of our annual deficit, all the things the people told us at the time, that they wanted openness, candour and honesty.



We introduced a freedom of information Act, which has been used, or dare I say it, occasionally abused by the members of the Opposition. But it is there because it is now commonly excepted that this is the second best freedom of information Act in Canada by an impartial assessment and I think that speaks well. (Applause)



When it comes to budget information, we have given Nova Scotians clear, visible, open, accountable budget information, every year, the three budgets that we have had. We implemented this province's first ever four year plan for balancing the budget. Then we printed it and handed it out and called it Government By Design so that Nova Scotians would know exactly what was going on with their province's finances at a glance.



Now let's look at the issue, this uproar over the expenses that are claimed by the Third Party. This is about a process the member is, despite his protests, attempting to construe as a quasi-moral issue. Let's call it a quasi-moral issue. Curiously, it is also the very process which he believes, in a quasi-moral way, he is entitled to ignore by his own practice, as I mentioned earlier. Mr. Speaker, I cannot help but question the credibility of the stance that he has taken on this issue and I am reminded of the old adage, something to do with glass houses and people should not throw stones.



Let me explain, for the benefit of people, the facts as they relate to this particular issue. As Premier, my travel expenses are filed monthly with the Executive Council. My MLA expenses are filed regularly in the Speaker's Office. Everything is reported up front, everything that is an expense to my office. And by the way, we are accountable on how much we spend as well - with a legislative commitment to reduce costs by 10 per cent over a four year period.



I will stack my MLA expenses and my travel expenses alongside those of the member opposite any time that they want to bring in comparable facts and compare.



What this debate is about, what has provoked this, is that the member opposite is questioning why the Premier's Office staff did not include air fare for this trip to Geneva last January on my expense form.



The simple fact is there was no cost incurred by the Premier's Office. The cost was borne in the office of my colleague in the Economic Renewal Agency where it was indeed not only filed but openly publicized through press releases when we announced our agreement with KLM. Remember what we did with this. I would like to submit this so people may look at a piece of paper which I think goes back to the time last year when I went to Davos. Openly filed, clearly visible, a trip that enabled me to go and talk with people in Europe about investment and about the G-7 Summit.



This was the announcement that we made about the KLM deal which was the promotion of Nova Scotia in Europe. That is what that contract was about. It was about those people, whether they were the Premier, whether they were ministers, whether they were staff, people who could go to Europe and publicize this province. That was a legitimate expense on the ERA budget. It was not an expense on the Premier's budget.



Indeed, the fact that I was flying to Europe by KLM was clear, it was made public and quite frankly, we are proud of the initiative that we did when we went to Davos last January. If there is a deep, dark secret about this cost, I can't help wondering where the member has been, lost in the fog that surrounds him at times. I can only wonder how really clean he expects us to be because, ladies and gentlemen, this government is squeaky clean when it comes to recording our exercises and our expenses.



Everything that we have done has been visible, as was this. It was just not in the budget of the Premier's Office because the expense was incurred by the Economic Renewal Agency under a contract signed, demonstrated in this House before we did it, so let's be quite fair about this.



If the member is suggesting that if would have been preferable to have included the KLM information on my expense forms, then I would have to tell him that I agree with him. I have today refiled my expense statement and have included the travel via KLM. I have also made it clear that this fare was not an expense of the Premier's Office, it was an expense of government borne through the Economic Renewal Agency. That is the issue on which we differ.



I have also suggested, however, so that the member here shall not waste time digging in files and going through and claiming under freedom of information, I have also suggested today that all Cabinet Ministers who took flights under the auspices of KLM do the same thing and that it be included in their monthly expenses because, Mr. Speaker, we would very much like to spare the time and effort that obviously this member has spent on researching this major issue.



I conclude, Mr. Speaker, by telling you that the absurdity of any suggestion that we are hiding information when what we are discussing is in the public realm is unfair and, I think, cheapens public debate.



I will conclude by saying that I think we have made a fair case. We will, indeed, do this so that we can save the member opposite the labour and effort and sweat that obviously is necessary, but at no time was this an expense in my office and I think it is important that the public should know that, too. (Applause)



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.



DR. JOHN HAMM: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. It is a pleasure having the Speaker in the Chair for the late show, it is something we don't see very often.



MR. SPEAKER: I am always here for the late show. (Interruptions)



DR. HAMM: I welcome the opportunity to participate in the debate on the process that the government has chosen to use to create transparency in the filing of government officials' expense forms. I think this is very important.



The Premier in his remarks very correctly indicated that what we are looking for here is whether or not the process is correct and honest. I haven't heard any statements to suggest that either the members of the New Democratic Party, in bringing this issue forward, or by our own caucus, were interested in anything other than the correctness of the situation. By no measure has the Premier reassured us that he has concocted a way in which correctness can be guaranteed.



Any method whereby the members on the government benches are reporting their expenses must be quick, it must be accurate, it must be understandable and it must be accessible. By any stretch of the imagination these four criteria are not being met by the expense reporting guidelines produced by the government over a year ago.



This has really been an issue for a number of months because you look back in Hansard in June 7, 1994, and the Premier in responding to criticism about how expenses were being filed said, "It is not, and I say quite frankly, a situation that I am very proud of and we are addressing it and, hopefully, after Cabinet on Thursday . . . " and so on. So that was a year after taking office and the Premier readily admitted that he wasn't all that excited or even proud of the way in which government ministers were reporting their expenses.



Bearing in mind that the public has a right to know, particularly in these times when the public and the people of Nova Scotia are being asked to make terrific sacrifices, as the government plods on in its attempts to bring the financial picture of the province into proper perspective and, in fact, to get our spending under control.



Then again, when questioned on the same day actually, the Premier said, "I can guarantee you that as I have said in a previous statement, every penny that is spent by this government, be it through the department or be it by a minister, it will be reported and it will be available for scrutiny by this House.".



Following that, on June 14, the Guidelines for Monthly Reporting of Ministerial Expenses did come out and it included such things as "(a) air travel; (b) accommodations; (c) business lunches and dinners; (d) taxis; (e) mileage reimbursement . . ." for private vehicles and ". . . (f) other personal expenses . . .".



Then it went on to say, "The Premier and Ministers will submit monthly summaries of their Ministerial expenses to the Clerk of the Executive Council . . . ". There was great criticism of that by members on the Opposition benches and that summaries, in fact, were not good enough. So I asked, actually, to see some summaries. I haven't been paying attention, personally, to the spending habits of ministers of the government, particularly as it is extremely difficult to follow them, but I did ask to see a few.



One government minister, for example, on June 27, 1995, had a dinner meeting for two at a cost of $138. Now, that was June 27th of this year. Well, the Premier mentioned correctness, I would say that a dinner for two by a government minister of $138 would be not correct, certainly, in these times of fiscal restraint. I would hope that among other things that the Premier would provide some spending guidelines to government ministers. It is one thing to report, it is another thing, I think, to keep expenditures within reason. So, things are not quite as the Premier would have us believe in that this government has provided us with a set of guidelines that are superior to the previous government.



The yardstick by which the spending habits and the spending reporting habits of this government will be measured will be that provided by the immediate previous government. You will recall, Mr. Speaker, that ministers of the Cameron Administration reported monthly and filed monthly. They filed in detail and you could go over those monthly and determine exactly month by month how government ministers were spending their money on personal expenses incurred doing government business. That is the way it should be. The filing should be monthly, it should be detailed and it should leave nothing open to question as to whether or not public money is being spent in an appropriate way. There should be guidelines in terms of the amount of spending that a government minister could incur, for example, for dinners for two.



There is a yardstick, Mr. Speaker, and that yardstick is the one that was provided by the previous government. It is a yardstick by which this government, if measured against it, comes up very short compared to the previous government. The people of the province have a right to be absolutely certain that in these troubled financial times that government ministers are as careful in their own spending as they are asking Nova Scotians and public servants and all of those Nova Scotians who are working for the public purse that they follow the same guidelines as they are requesting all members of the Public Service to follow.





There is a yardstick, Mr. Speaker, and that yardstick was provided by the previous government and certainly one cannot help but conclude that the confusion that even the Premier of the province has created by filing travelling expenses in the expenses of another government department. That is only bound to be confusing. All government ministers must be required to file in one place, which is easily accessible, all of their government expenditures, whether it be under a department credit card, their personal credit card or out of pocket expenses. It shouldn't be difficult to track this down. It shouldn't be a major effort and it should be a requirement of all government officials to file immediately following the end of the previous month.



Mr. Speaker, in concluding, may I say that the guidelines that have been provided by the Premier in June 1994 still are far short of what is required for quick, accurate understandable and accountable reporting by government ministers of their own expenses. Thank you.



MR. SPEAKER: The time allotted for the Adjournment debate has expired. The House will now reconvene into the Committee of the Whole House on Bills.



[6:31 p.m. The House resolved itself into a CWH on Bills with Deputy Speaker Mrs. Francene Cosman in the Chair.]



[7:55 p.m. CWH on Bills rose and the House reconvened. Mr. Speaker, Hon. Paul MacEwan, resumed the Chair.]



MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The Chairman of the Committee of the Whole House on Bills reports:



THE CLERK: That the committee has met and considered the following bill:



Bill No. 28 - Regional Municipalities Act.



and the chairman has been instructed to recommend this bill to the favourable consideration of the House, without amendment.



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



The honourable Government House Leader.



HON. RICHARD MANN: Mr. Speaker, could we please revert to the order of business, Presenting Reports of Committees.



PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Justice.



HON. WILLIAM GILLIS: Mr. Speaker, I have two bills to report, they are both with certain amendments, they are actually packaged separately but I will just run through them once and indicate the numbers and names.



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



Bill No. 30 - Fisheries Organizations Support Act.



Bill No. 37 - Revenue Act.



and the committee recommends these bills to the favourable consideration of the House, with certain amendments.



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



The honourable Government House Leader.



HON. RICHARD MANN: Mr. Speaker, we will be sitting tomorrow from the hours of 8:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. The order of business, following the daily routine, will be Committee of the Whole House on Bills.



I move that we adjourn until 8:00 a.m. tomorrow.



MR. SPEAKER: The motion is that the House do now rise to meet again tomorrow morning at the hour of 8:00 a.m.



The motion is carried.



[The House rose at 7:57 p.m.]





NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3)



HOUSE ORDER NO. 54



By: Mr. Brooke Taylor (Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley)



I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move that an order of this House do issue for a return showing, with respect to the Nova Scotia Department of Natural Resources and the Nova Scotia Economic Renewal Agency:



(1) A list of the companies and number of individuals who accompanied the Minister of Natural Resources to the Offshore Oil and Gas Exhibition and Conference September 5th to September 8th in Aberdeen, Scotland;



(2) Total cost of the trip sponsored by the Nova Scotia Economic Renewal Agency and the Department of Natural Resources; and



(3) Copy of the agreement signed between the Government of Nova Scotia and the Grampian Region of Scotland signed in September 1994.



HOUSE ORDER NO. 55



By: Dr. John Hamm (Leader of the Opposition)



I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move that an order of this House do issue for a return showing, with respect to the Nova Scotia Economic Renewal Agency:



(1) An individual breakdown of the 803 jobs created and the 537 jobs maintained as of October 24th under the Economic Renewal Agency's Community Business Loan Program;



(2) A list of the 278 businesses operating throughout Nova Scotia as the result of the Community Business Loan Program; and



(3) Finance rate offered and timelimit for repayment of loans under the Community Business Loan Program.