Assemblée Législative de la Nouvelle-Écosse

Les travaux de la Chambre ont repris le
21 septembre 2017

















HALIFAX, WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 29, 1995



Fifty-sixth General Assembly



Third Session



2:00 P.M.



SPEAKER



Hon. Paul MacEwan



DEPUTY SPEAKER



Mrs. Francene Cosman





MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I will call the House to order at this time to commence the day's business. Are there any introductions of guests? If not, we will commence the daily routine of business.



PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Justice.



HON. WILLIAM GILLIS: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition signed by more than 1,100 people. It was given to me at a recent meeting with a group called Humans Against Homophobia. The petition relates to an order made by a Provincial Court judge. Because of the independence of the judiciary, I advised the group that I could not comment upon the actions of the court.



It is appropriate for me to mention, however, matters that were raised at the meeting. As honourable members know, discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is prohibited by the Human Rights Act. In this regard, it is important for justice workers to be fully informed. To this end, I have asked senior Department of Justice officials to conduct appropriate training as soon as possible.



MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.



PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES



TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS



STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS



3583

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Supply and Services.



HON. GERALD O'MALLEY: Mr. Speaker, on Monday, November 27th in Kentville, a very serious incident took place which impacted upon the Provincial Building and the Valley Regional Hospital.



Mr. Speaker, it was a result of human error which resulted in a valve being opened which caused flooding and water damage to property and both buildings. Employees of our department, hospital staff and Town of Kentville employees acted quickly and cooperatively to minimize damage and restore normal operations. Hospital operations were disrupted. Twelve surgery cases were rescheduled. Provincial Building staff was sent home for the afternoon because heat had to be shut off.



I bring this to the House, Mr. Speaker, because it is one of the most complex and convoluted and unimaginative combinations of incidents that could have been very serious to life and limb of people in the hospital and in the building. It was very unfortunate. It was a result of human error. Everybody from my own department, the Town of Kentville and the hospital staff worked very quickly, and as a team, to limit and avoid any very serious consequences.



Mr. Speaker, I bring it as a ministerial statement because I have a complete and detailed report of the whole incident that I'm willing to place in the hands of any member, either from Kings County or from any other county, who wishes to know exactly what has occurred, and what might occur as a result of this very serious incident.



MR. SPEAKER: The reports are tabled.



The honourable member for Kings North.



MR. GEORGE ARCHIBALD: The hospital is in my constituency so I should thank the minister for his quick and decisive action. I am sure the minister knows how serious it is when liquid starts flying around, because of his experience when he went to Cape Breton and he was looking at the tar ponds. So, he didn't want anything like that to happen again.



AN HON. MEMBER: Total immersion.



MR. ARCHIBALD: Yes, it was total immersion in that case. I hope that the minister had better luck this time and he didn't get all wet when he was looking after it.



These accidents happen from time to time. I've got faith in the staff who work for the departments within government, and I know that generally they rise to an emergency and handle the situation and handle the problem. It is unfortunate that the OR time in the hospital had to be postponed for that period of time, but it was better that they postpone it than try to do it in adverse conditions.



I do appreciate getting this copy as quickly as the minister could act. I only wish that that good minister could act as quickly in furnishing the list of the people that are in the provincial parking lot. Thank you very much.





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



MR. JOHN HOLM: I thank the minister. Obviously, I haven't had time to go through the draft report that has been provided. It's marked confidential. I don't know if it has been tabled, if it is available for the general public.



I note in that, in the minister's statement too, in terms of some of the problems resulted from just simply the wrong direction in the turning of a valve. What would appear to be very minor oversights can, in fact, result in quite catastrophic problems. What I am most interested in is not placing any blame, or whatever, but to ensure that there is proper labelling and the proper methods or safeguards are put in place to ensure that similar kinds of preventable accidents don't happen again, so that the near disasters, if I could use that term, that almost occurred, can be prevented from happening elsewhere.



So, I thank very much the minister for his openness in sharing this information with us. I look forward to going through the report in more detail and following up on the recommendations for changes to ensure increased or enhanced safety for future occasions. Thank you.



GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Transportation.



RESOLUTION NO. 716



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



Whereas the federal government appears poised to bring about significant changes to the unemployment insurance program which exists in this country; and



Whereas any changes in unemployment insurance regulations may result in difficulties for many Nova Scotians, particularly those involved in the tourism and resource industries and other seasonal employment; and



Whereas all of Atlantic Canada, because of its geography, historical trends and reliance on resource industries, has needs much different from other areas of the country;



Therefore be it resolved that this House, through our Premier, vigorously represent the concerns and needs of Nova Scotians to the federal government to ensure those needs which are specific to our region are seriously considered as changes to the unemployment insurance program are contemplated.



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



MR. SPEAKER: Is that agreed?



It is agreed.



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



The motion is carried unanimously.



The honourable Minister of Transportation and Communications.



RESOLUTION NO. 717



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



Whereas there has been much said in recent days concerning travel expenses of MLAs; and



Whereas current regulations do not require the release of MLAs' travel expenses; and



Whereas all three Parties are in agreement that travel expenses should be available to the public;



Therefore be it resolved that the Internal Economy Board be convened at the earliest possible opportunity to establish guidelines and a policy to ensure timely and consistent release of travel expenses for all members.



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



MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?



It is agreed.



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



The motion is carried unanimously.



INTRODUCTION OF BILLS



NOTICES OF MOTION



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Lunenburg.



RESOLUTION NO. 718



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



Whereas PC Computing is a leading computer magazine with over one million readers; and



Whereas the editors spent weeks combing the Canadian World Wide Web to find the hottest and most informative sites in the Canadian travel category; and



Whereas the December 1995 issue named the Lunenburg County Visitors Guide as one of its top Internet destinations;





Therefore be it resolved that the members of this Assembly extend congratulations to Tom Rogers and Jennifer Worden of Meadoworks Multimedia for being recognized as a leader in this technology and for having the dedication and creativity to draw world-wide interest to our province.



Mr. Speaker, I would ask for waiver.



MR. SPEAKER: Is that agreeable?



It is agreed.



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



The motion is carried.



The honourable Leader of the Opposition.



RESOLUTION NO. 719



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 Municipal Affairs last year promised the Cape Breton Regional Municipality that it would be more effective and efficient and cost less to run; and



Whereas the Minister of Municipal Affairs further promised that Cape Bretoners who'll live in a new super-city won't have to worry about increased residential property taxes;



Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Municipal Affairs take full ministerial responsibility for cost overruns in the new Cape Breton Regional Municipality and request a full, audited account by the Auditor General of the real financial picture confronting Cape Breton Regional Municipality taxpayers.



MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.



The honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party.



RESOLUTION NO. 720



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



Whereas it is not in order to urge Cabinet Ministers to tell the truth; and



Whereas at a recent public meeting, the Premier claimed that his government is boosting spending on schools, hospitals and social assistance; and



Whereas the Premier also claimed tremendous progress in establishing home care and conquering unemployment;



Therefore be it resolved that while it would not be parliamentary to advise or comment upon the Premier's claims, this House recognizes that Nova Scotians have reached their own conclusions.



MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.



I realize that it is designed to be a commentary on a ruling that I made yesterday. There is nothing wrong with admonishing members to be truthful if it is done in a way that doesn't imply that they are not being truthful, but it was my feeling yesterday that the motion was out of order and I said so. However, I will accept the motion and allow it to be tabled.



[2:15 p.m.]



The honourable member for Bedford-Fall River.



RESOLUTION NO. 721



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



Whereas EnviroSeal Engineering Products Limited of Waverley, Nova Scotia, has received the prestigious 1995 Chemical Processing magazine's Vaaler Award, a highly recognized honour in the chemical processing industry; and



Whereas Joseph and Aniko Dunford, the President and Vice-President of EnviroSeal Engineering Products Limited, along with their highly skilled employees, have shown great innovation in developing the revolutionary Sealmate product; and



Whereas EnviroSeal Engineering Products Limited is truly breaking new ground in the development of technology within Nova Scotia and is the first Canadian company to ever receive the Vaaler Award of the chemical processing industry;



Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the management and employees of EnviroSeal Engineering Products Limited, upon receiving the prestigious 1995 Vaaler Award of the Chemical Processing magazine.



Mr. Speaker, I am asking for waiver, please.



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.



L'honorable le député d'Argyle.



RESOLUTION NO. 722



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



Whereas within the constituency of Argyle, there are many boat builders who supply the fishing industry of Nova Scotia as well as other regions of the world; and



Whereas today at TUNS, the Centre for Marine Vessel Design and Research is holding a strategic planning meeting on revitalizing the boat building industry; and



Whereas this revitalization of the boat building industry in Atlantic Canada can create a $150 million operation, employing 2,500 skilled workers;



Therefore be it resolved that this House extend its congratulations to the Centre for Marine Vessel Design and Research on its initiative to expand the boat building industry to benefit the boat builders of Argyle.



Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.



MR. SPEAKER: Is that agreeable?



It is agreed.



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



The motion is carried.



The honourable Leader of the Opposition.



RESOLUTION NO. 723



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 Municipal Affairs stated the Cape Breton Regional Municipality came to her with a proposal to raise taxes by $2.7 million, drastically reduce services and lay off employees; and



Whereas the Cape Breton Regional Council saw the agreement for the first time on Monday night and has yet to approve it; and



Whereas councillors are confirming that this deal was offered by the minister on a take it or leave it basis;



Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Municipal Affairs confirm that the agreement which imposed $2.7 million of new taxes on the Cape Breton Regional Municipality was drafted and presented by the Minister of Municipal Affairs.



MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.



The honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party.



RESOLUTION NO. 724



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



Whereas many fishers and fish plant workers were disgusted by the November 28th newspaper advertisement, signed by Mike Scott, MP, Reform Fisheries Critic, which singled out Mi'Kmaq fishers for attack, falsely claiming they will be charged less for the same licenses and thereby inciting racial division; and



Whereas the advertisement only undermines the legitimate concerns of most fishers and coastal communities about the Oceans Act and the sudden hike in federal license fees;



Therefore be it resolved that this House condemns the false and divisive advertisement which appeared in Nova Scotia on November 28, 1995, singling out aboriginal fishers for a racially-based attack and signed by Mike Scott, Reform Party MP.



MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.



The honourable member for Shelburne.



RESOLUTION NO. 725



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



Whereas Shelburne County has a long tradition of excellence in boat building; and



Whereas the boat building industry in Nova Scotia is presently in the process of seeking expanded markets through the development of a strategic plan; and



Whereas as part of this search for expanded markets, the boat building industry is looking forward to selling its products on the international market;



Therefore be it resolved that this House applaud the continuing efforts of the boat building industry to become a major international supplier, thus providing continuing work for the boat builders of Shelburne County.



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



MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?



It is agreed.



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



The motion is carried.



The honourable member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage.



RESOLUTION NO. 726



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



Whereas a recent study of business competitiveness, titled A Comparison of Business Costs in Canada and the United States, was conducted by KPMG Management Consultants of Vancouver; and



Whereas the study revealed Halifax, Nova Scotia, tops their survey of North American locations for light manufacturing; and



Whereas Halifax's potent combination of geography and economics positions our province well to compete in the global market place;



Therefore be it resolved that the members of this Assembly extend congratulations to the metro Halifax area for this significant recognition as a business leader capable of attracting investors in the future economic development of our province.



Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver of notice.



MR. SPEAKER: Is that agreeable?



It is agreed.



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



The motion is carried.



The honourable Minister of Municipal Affairs.



RESOLUTION NO. 727



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



Whereas country music in Nova Scotia has deep roots, starting with the Acadians who were forced to leave and settle in Louisiana, creating the Cajun sound featured in much of today's contemporary country music; and



Whereas the recently formed Nova Scotia Country Music Association, the only provincial country music association east of Manitoba, is committed to promoting Nova Scotians who create and perform country music on a local, national and international level; and



Whereas the music industry injects an estimated $85 million into the provincial economy, creating some 1,000 full-time and some 1,500 part-time jobs and is very important to our culture enrichment;



Therefore be it resolved that this House send congratulations to President Merv Strang and the members of the Nova Scotia Country Music Association for establishing Nova Scotia Country Music Week to occur the last week in September, beginning in 1996.



Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver.



MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreeable to the House that notice be waived on that motion?



It is agreed.



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



The motion is carried.



Now before I recognize another honourable member, I believe that that motion calls on the House to convey congratulations to an individual. I hope you have the address indicated and the particulars. Thank you.



The honourable member for Eastern Shore.



RESOLUTION NO. 728



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



Whereas 1995 represents the 10th Anniversary of 2610 Royal Canadian Army Cadet Corps of Sheet Harbour; and



Whereas the Sheet Harbour Army Cadet Corps has 42 active members, along with eight staff, and has an illustrious history of medals, awards, citations, including winning seven years in a row the coveted General Amy Trophy for skilled rifle shooting in Nova Scotia, as well as placing fourth in the Canadian National Rifle Shoot; and



Whereas the 2610 Royal Canadian Army Cadet Corps is sponsored by Branch 58 of the Royal Canadian Legion and is the only army cadet corps in the Maritimes to have the honour of being affiliated with the famous Princess Louise Fusiliers;



Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulates 2610 Royal Canadian Army Cadet Corps of Sheet Harbour, along with their commanding officer, Captain V.G. Thompson, on the occasion of their 10th Anniversary and wish them every success in their cadet activities.



Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver of notice.



MR. SPEAKER: Is that agreeable?



It is agreed.



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



The motion is carried.



The honourable member for Kings North.



MR. GEORGE ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, everybody is getting along so well today and we are approving, I think that I would like to ask for waiver of notice when I get through with this, too, and see how we get along.







RESOLUTION NO. 729



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



Whereas the Minister of Municipal Affairs, with hundreds of staff at her disposal, sat idly by day after day as the financial situation in the Cape Breton Regional Municipality deteriorated; and



Whereas the Minister of Municipal Affairs continued to approve spending on infrastructure projects and borrowing resolutions for the eight municipal units; and



Whereas the Minister of Municipal Affairs now says don't ask me; talk to the municipality, on each and every occasion;



Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Municipal Affairs stop passing the buck to the new council and admit it was her deal to impose a $2.7 million tax increase on the people of Cape Breton.



I would like to ask for waiver, Mr. Speaker. (Interruptions)



MR. SPEAKER: I detect less than unanimous consent.



The notice is tabled.



The honourable member for Cape Breton West.



RESOLUTION NO. 730



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



Whereas the Minister of Municipal Affairs has staff in her department to provide her with daily updates on the financial situation of each and every municipal unit in Nova Scotia; and



Whereas the Minister of Municipal Affairs has staff who provide her with daily updates on the financial situation of the eight municipal units which now form the Cape Breton Regional Municipality; and



Whereas the Minister of Municipal Affairs evidently turned a blind eye and a deaf ear to the awful truth of the mounting deficit and continued to sign the cheques;



Therefore be it resolved that the taxpayers in Cape Breton be told the whole awful truth that the policies of the Minister of Municipal Affairs leading up to the August 1st merger of the eight municipal units are fully and wholly responsible for the financial crisis now left at the doorstep of the Cape Breton taxpayer.



MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.



The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.



RESOLUTION NO. 731



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



Whereas little league teams, volunteer fire departments and countless non-profit and charitable organizations must now wait two or more weeks for a lottery number that used to be provided in 24 to 48 hours; and



Whereas a panel of Liberal appointed Gaming Commission board members now meet at a cost to the Nova Scotia taxpayer of $250 per day, plus expenses, to issue lottery numbers that used to be routinely issued by the staff of the Lottery Commission; and



Whereas this new Liberal policy flies in the face of this government's promise to streamline services, empower government employees, reduce red tape and deficit reduction;



Therefore be it resolved that the Liberal Government practice what it preaches by immediately reversing the senseless and outrageously expensive process of having Gaming Commission board members approve routine lottery applications.



MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.



The honourable member for Cape Breton West.



RESOLUTION NO. 732



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



Whereas the Premier claims his government is responsible for a reduction of unemployment in Cape Breton from 25 per cent to 18 per cent; and



Whereas the Premier's numbers in no way reflect the number of unemployed Cape Bretoners who have given up; and



Whereas the Minister of Health and the Minister of Municipal Affairs both have large numbers of job cuts for Cape Bretoners up their sleeves;



Therefore be it resolved that the Premier spend more time on creating employment opportunities in Cape Breton and less time standing idly by as jobs and businesses sail past the causeway.



MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.



The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.



RESOLUTION NO. 733



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



Whereas 7 of 10 Nova Scotians are unsatisfied with the Liberal Government; and



Whereas health cuts, education in chaos, municipal affairs in shambles, and highway toll taxes are just a few examples of why Nova Scotians are dissatisfied; and



Whereas the Premier and his Liberal Cabinet Ministers unconscionably carry on in a vacuum, as arrogant as they were the day they took office;



Therefore be it resolved that the Liberal Government wake up . . .



SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, come on. Come on.



MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Order. Order!



MR. TAYLOR: You know, Mr. Speaker . . .



MR. SPEAKER: Now, we don't need a little commentary, try to read your resolution; go back to the third Whereas and start from there.



MR. TAYLOR: Whereas 7 of 10 Nova Scotians are unsatisfied with the Liberal Government; and



Whereas health cuts, education in chaos, municipal affairs in shambles, and highway toll taxes are just a few examples of why Nova Scotians are dissatisfied; and



Whereas the Premier and his Liberal Cabinet Ministers unconscionably carry on in a vacuum, as arrogant as they were the day they took office;



Therefore be it resolved that the Liberal Government wake up and smell the coffee, take a look in the mirror, and start listening to the real concerns of Nova Scotia.



MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.



The honourable member for Hants East.



RESOLUTION NO. 734



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



Whereas under the leadership of the Minister of Finance, Nova Scotia is engaged in an effective debt reduction policy of exchanging high-interest loans for low-interest loans and replacing foreign currency loans with Canadian dollar borrowing; and



[2:30 p.m.]



Whereas Nova Scotia has repaid the Province of Alberta the final instalment of a high interest loan; and



Whereas by replacing money borrowed at more than 13 per cent with money borrowed at just over 7 per cent, the savings are approximately $25 million to the taxpayers of Nova Scotia;



Therefore be it resolved that this House encourage the Minister of Finance to continue his debt reduction policies which are proving highly beneficial to the taxpayers of Nova Scotia.



Mr. Speaker, I would request waiver of notice.



MR. SPEAKER: I hear several Noes.



The notice is tabled.



Are there any additional notices of motion? If there are not, that would appear to conclude the daily routine and we will advance to the Orders of the Day.



The Clerk has conducted a draw for the Adjournment debate at 6:00 p.m. The winner this afternoon is the honourable member for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour. He has submitted a resolution reading:



Therefore be it resolved that the members of this Assembly extend congratulations to this government for its creative use of advancing technologies, not only increasing efficiencies in the delivery of government programs and services, but enhance the overall quality of life for every Nova Scotian.



So we will hear a discussion of that matter at 6:00 p.m.



The Oral Question Period today will run for 90 minutes so it will run until 4:02 p.m.



ORDERS OF THE DAY



ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.



MUN. AFFS.: ACCOUNTING AND REPORTING MANUAL - USE



DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, a question for the Minister of Municipal Affairs. It has recently come to my attention that within the minister's department there is a manual that is called the Municipal Accounting and Reporting Manual. Having made some inquiries, it is my understanding that this is actually the bible by which the municipal units do their accounting and reporting, particularly as it relates to their relationship with the Department of Municipal Affairs. Among other things, this manual provides for, in terms of uncollectible taxes, a reserve fund that all municipal units must fund so that, in fact, it prevents them from going into a deficit finance position by overestimating their tax revenues.



Would the minister confirm that there is such a document, such a manual and as well if my understanding of that manual and its use is correct?



HON. SANDRA JOLLY: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to answer the honourable member's question. There is, in fact, a document. We have a number of rules and regulations that municipalities function under. There is a document. As many of the members who have been past councillors who sit in this House of Assembly, understand that running deficits are something that councils are not allowed to do. They have to balance out at the end of each year and one of the accounting features that is there is the setting aside of reserves of taxes that have not been collected to date and generally those are set aside at 100 per cent.



DR. HAMM: Mr. Speaker, I thank the minister for her answer. We had questions yesterday in this place regarding the agreement that was made by the province recently with the new Cape Breton Regional Municipality in terms of a $2 million loan. One of the stipulations or one of the clauses in that agreement is that, "The Province agrees to relieve the Municipality of the requirement to comply strictly with the terms of the Municipal Accounting and Reporting Manual so far as it relates to the level of valuation allowances required, for the period of this Agreement only.", which goes on until March 31, 1999.



Will the minister explain why, as a clause in this agreement, that she has allowed the Cape Breton Regional Municipality the discretion to not follow the accounting manual of the province which, in fact, will allow that regional municipality to engage in deficit financing if, in fact, they don't strictly adhere to the manual from now until March 1999? Why was that included in the agreement?



MS. JOLLY: Mr. Speaker, it was very clearly included in the agreement, it was a request by the municipality. We have considered this request a number of times. This is not the first time that we have done this with units that are on emergency funding. It is a procedure that we do not like to adhere to or to allow the municipalities not to set aside 100 per cent but at some point in time you have to look at what can realistically be accomplished.



In this particular situation, we have $3 million that we have agreed not to have a full reserve set aside for in order to help the regional municipality deal with a $15 million problem. It is one of the issues that we have had some flexibility on from the department and what the municipality has promised to us is that they will do a very aggressive tax collection that they believe, under the new regional municipality, that they, in actual fact, can collect this outstanding tax, these outstanding monies, and therefore would be able to write that amount down in a very short time period.



If I did what the honourable member suggested, what I would have to do is require them to do more long-term borrowing in order to deal with this, to try to amortize this over a longer time period and therefore incur greater interest charges. Mr. Speaker, what we have tried to do is keep the borrowing or the interest charges to this municipality as low as we possibly can, taking into consideration the $15 million deficit. So we do have $3 million that the regional municipality, when they came forward with their plan, said that they felt very strongly that they could do a solid tax collection and be able to collect that money and asked us to give them a breathing space on it. To be of assistance to them, we have.



DR. HAMM: Mr. Speaker, I thank the minister for her explanation. By way of final supplementary, so it is made absolutely clear, will the minister confirm that as the solution for the Cape Breton Regional Municipality's financial problems, she has opened the door for deficit financing in that regional municipality from now until March 31, 1999?



MS. JOLLY: Mr. Speaker, I can't believe what the honourable member is saying. What we have here is a regional municipality that has come together, been amalgamated, to produce a saving of $4.2 million. That is what we have on one hand.



On the other hand, we have eight municipal units that have come into this regional municipality with the $15.1 million financial situation that has to be dealt with. We have put a number of things on the table here to assist the municipality. One of them is that we are not going to be requiring strict compliance with the municipal accounting reporting manual, as the member said in his first question. We are doing that to give them some breathing space, to give them an opportunity to collect taxes out there that are owed.



Mr. Speaker, this is not the first time we have done this in the department, this has been an ongoing practice, it has been done by that government. When you are dealing with municipalities that are in emergency funding, it is one of the things you have to do to try and help them out, to get them back on their feet. The honourable member's government did it when they were sitting over here and we see it as a reasonable and responsible way to assist a municipality that has a financial situation.



They have assured us that they will work on this diligently. They have a new system there and I think they will be able to do it.



MR. SPEAKER: On a new question, the honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party.



JUSTICE - YOUTH INSTITUTIONS: ABUSE - COMPENSATION



MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I would like to direct some questions through you, sir, to the Minister of Justice. Right now there is an internal investigation going on and also an alternate dispute resolution process in place to try to determine the level or degree of fair compensation that should be provided to those who were victims of abuse in the past at one of the Nova Scotia provincial youth institutions. The internal investigation, of course, is going to be determining who was or who was not responsible for much of what went on.



My question to the minister is quite simply this, how is it possible to determine what is a fair and proper level of compensation to be offered and awarded to those victims before the internal investigation has been complete, in other words, before it has been determined how far up within the government structure knowledge of that abuse was going on? Surely compensation is going to depend, in part, upon the degree of knowledge and potential cover-up that was involved.



HON. WILLIAM GILLIS: Mr. Speaker, it is not intended that the internal investigation will go on forever. We have four people working on it very actively and one of the things, in particular, that they are trying to do is make sure that there is nobody working now who might harm the people who are in our care. But their work will be carried out. Separately, we have the alternative dispute resolution process. That is moving along. I don't think there is any danger that it is going to go so fast that all information will not be available to that process from the investigation. So I think they certainly can co-exist but they are two totally separate operations.



MR. HOLM: I thank the minister for that answer. Yes, I do appreciate that they are two separate operations, but what may be a fair level of compensation and what may be helpful in determining that may depend upon the other without the need for involved and potentially very harmful and destructive court battles going on.



It is my understanding, Mr. Speaker, that all of the files, all the records that had formerly been kept in the Department of Community Services with regard to the facilities, have been transferred to the Department of Justice. It is also my understanding that access to those files has been denied to at least one member of the executive of the Family Services Association which is involved in this mediation and alternate dispute resolution trying to negotiate compensation. Those files were referenced in Viki Samuels-Stewart's report. My question to the minister is, why would those records be denied - those files - and also access to the library of the Department of Justice be denied to those who are working on behalf of the Family Services Association?



MR. GILLIS: Mr. Speaker, again, we are talking two separate processes. The ADR process, through the Family Services Association, is trying to see whether a group of victims can come together, select their own lawyer, develop a process to be compensated and get as much money to the victims as possible. Now separately we have the investigation team which in many ways is doing police-type work. Two or three of the people on the team, if not all of them, have a police background. Some of that material, at least at this point, may be confidential. But it may be that if some victim at some point wants access to certain information, their own information in particular, that is something that could be considered, but there is no intent not to provide information that is appropriate.



But remember, what we have is under the Director of Policing Services, Mr. Barss, who is doing a very detailed examination of allegations by victims and also talking to people who are alleged to be perpetrators and trying to hear all sides to see what damage might have been done to victims and who knew what, including the administrative levels. So I think some of that information may be police type information and might not be properly made available. On the other hand, if a victim wanted some specific information, certainly through my deputy, we could certainly consider and hear that particular matter without closing the door.



MR. HOLM: I thank the minister again for his answer and I can appreciate that a lot of this information can be very sensitive. I am not suggesting that everything of this confidential information just be thrown out there willy-nilly; that is quite to the contrary. I appreciate that they are two separate processes, we have an investigation and we have another process which is aimed at trying to bring about a semblance of justice in a fair and open manner.



What I am trying to get from the minister is an assurance that those who are working on the second separate process, those who are trying and are involved in the alternate dispute resolution process and who are trying to negotiate and mediate fair and proper levels of compensation to those victims who did suffer abuse, that they will have access to any and all files that would be necessary, albeit on a confidential basis, if that is needed, to ensure that those whom they are trying to work with do have the benefit of the files that are on record to ensure that they get the proper levels of compensation and assistance, counselling, et cetera, to which they are entitled.



[2:45 p.m.]



MR. GILLIS: Mr. Speaker, I can assure the honourable member that the Family Services Association and those working on the ADR process would be given every bit of information because the idea is to try to alleviate the suffering and pain that goes back for 40 years or more; there would be every cooperation from other parts of the department or the other part of the investigation. The only concern in terms of the staff of Family Services is on a confidential basis; I am sure most if not all of that material would be available. Again, to say one victim seeking all of the police type information, I am not sure I can give that. (Interruption) No, I am not saying you did, but I am just putting in that caution. The investigative side, I am sure, will provide every reasonable access to all information so that the proper compensation can be made to try to compensate for all of those hurts and damages created over the years.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou West.



TRANSPORT.: HWYS. - WINTER CLEARANCE



MR. DONALD MCINNES: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Transportation and Communications. December is just a couple of days away and we are having a few snow flurries this afternoon; could the minister tell us if all snowplow and salt truck drivers are now on standby across the province and if not, when will they be?



HON. RICHARD MANN: Mr. Speaker, the 18 week period when the snowplow operators are guaranteed their 45 hour a week standby pay actually begins on December 1st. I was checking just before I left my department with some directors and managers of the department and they assured me that all supervisors are prepared to call out operators if and when they are required.



MR. MCINNES: Mr. Speaker, did the minister say that all across the province that they will be called back December 1st for the 18 week period; does that apply all across the province?



MR. MANN: Mr. Speaker, I guess I would have to check, now that he mentions it, to see if every region of the province has the same designated winter period but, as far as I know, it is. As the member obviously knows, there are areas of this province that have different weather patterns than others, areas such as the highlands of Cape Breton, for example, they are known to have much more severe winter conditions, setting in earlier and lasting later. Local managers and local supervisors and directors are charged with the responsibility to deal with those issues as they are in other areas of the province. As far as I know, December 1st is the date that they all begin.



MR. MCINNES: Mr. Speaker, I thank the minister for that answer and perhaps he could just check to bring me up-to-date on that.



I heard a number of reports lately which kind of blew me away; in fact, that there now is scam on that people are stealing safety inspection stickers from cars and either selling them or putting them on their own cars to save paying inspection costs. Could the minister please advise what the procedure is if, in fact, the sticker was stolen from my car, which was supposedly inspected last month, and would there be the regular cost to have that sticker replaced? I understand it is quite common.



MR. MANN: Mr. Speaker, the inspection of motor vehicles is done in accordance with the Registry of Motor Vehicle guidelines, but it is carried out by licensed mechanics at service stations across the province. I would assume, and I recall from my own experience I believe, when you get your vehicle inspected you get a receipt which is dated and shows all of the items which had been checked. I would think if you had that receipt and could show that, in fact, you had had your vehicle inspected, and I think the mechanic would know that, there would be a way to have that replaced. I don't know specifically because it is not a matter that I have ever had to deal with. I will certainly check it out for the member.



I can recall reading in the media not so long ago, perhaps within the last week or two, where an individual was caught, apprehended and charged with the theft of inspection stickers and it was dealt with in the courts in the appropriate manner. I would have to check for the member to see what process applies in having a sticker replaced that may have been ripped off of a vehicle. I have not heard anything through my staff or through my department that that is the case. There have been stickers stolen before they have been applied to the cars and I think perhaps there has been a mix-up there but I haven't any cases where they have been ripped off the vehicle.



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



TRANSPORT.: SAFETY EDUC. PROGS. - CHANGES



MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the honourable Minister of Transportation and Communications. The minister will know that the Department of Transportation's Highway Safety and Field Programs Division has some 10 safety education officers. These safety education officers prepare and deliver programs such as defensive driving, school bus safety, bicycle safety, et cetera. I wonder if the minister could tell us if it is his government's intention to get out of delivering these programs?



HON. RICHARD MANN: Mr. Speaker, I heard him stand in this House on Monday and I saw newspaper reports where he actually gave us the numbers of people who would be laid off. I would first of all like to state to the House that the numbers used by the member opposite, again without checking his facts, are erroneous. They are wrong. He cannot substantiate it, he didn't check with the department. The former Leader of the Opposition, the member for Halifax Citadel, brought this matter to our attention about a month ago. We responded to him. We said that we are making changes at the Registry of Motor Vehicles, our unionized staff are working with us and, in fact, are on the change teams that are taking place and have helped in developing some of the changes. We have met with staff as early as last March and, again, in July. They were told about changes that would be coming forward.



We advised the member for Halifax Citadel that we felt it appropriate, felt it fair that we deal with the unions involved, that we deal with our staff first in this matter and that we not callously throw numbers around, which we don't know yet and we don't know what they will be in the department and attempt to scare everyone. Obviously, the member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley has seen fit to get some numbers on his own and toss them around and worry people, but I can tell you that we are looking at changes. We are looking at changes in the service delivery, we are not getting out of the safety education business altogether, we will not do that, we will ensure that it is provided and that it is provided in a quality way.



MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, again I go to the Minister of Transportation and Communications. I don't know what grounds the Minister of Transportation has to get up in the House and say that I haven't contacted the Department of Transportation when, in fact, I have. The information that I have is that the 10 safety education officers will be fired, will be sacked in March 1996.



Now, the minister will know that the Department of Transportation's road transport division weighs commercial vehicles and monitors the safety of those vehicles. The division also sells permits and, of course, issues fines for violations. The division, in turn, Mr. Speaker, provides much needed revenue to the province and some might say at the expense of the trucker. How many road transport inspector jobs does the minister plan to terminate within the next four months?



MR. MANN: Mr. Speaker, let's examine what the honourable member has just said. He said 10 safety education officers were going to be fired. To start with, there are 11 in the department. I can assure you that not one of the safety education officers will be fired. None. There will be changes, our staff have been working with us since March on those changes. They have been on the teams that have developed how the Registry of Motor Vehicles can deliver services efficiently, effectively, more cost-efficiently and more cost-effectively. They have been working on this with us. They have been aware of this since March and I think it is to their credit that they have acted so much more responsibly in this than the member opposite, much more responsibly. To stand up and say there are 10 members in that group that are going to be fired when in fact 11 exist, I think tells us all how credible his source is. They don't even know how many employees are in the division. Yet he stands here attempting to scare people into believing that their jobs are going to be lost.



There will be changes, Mr. Speaker. Let me say it clearly, there will be changes. There have been changes in the services in the registry and there will continue to be changes. This will all be shared with the employees in advance. We will work with them to offer other positions that are available, we will take advantage of early retirement, we will do every single thing we can to work with our employees. They know the changes are coming and they have been working with us on that.



The member says the road transport division operates at the expense of the truckers. I don't think any trucker in this province is charged or fined if they are not in violation of the rules. I don't believe the Registry of Motor Vehicles goes out and harasses innocent people and charges people who are not in violation of the rules.



If the member opposite is suggesting that we shouldn't charge people who are in violation of the rules, then we don't need any employees. Is that what he is suggesting? I would hope not.



Again, Mr. Speaker, we have equipment in place that was put in place by the previous government, weigh-in motion scales that have never been utilized. The taxpayers of Nova Scotia have paid money for this equipment and it has never been utilized. (Interruption)



Again, there will be none of them fired, Mr. Speaker. There will again be changes, there will be re-assignments, there will be people able to take advantage of other things and, at the end of the day, there will be a change in the number of people who are doing the jobs they are doing now.



I don't know how many are going to take early retirement. I don't know how many are going to take advantage of other opportunities. I don't know how many will have placement rights for other jobs that come open. But I can assure you of this, Mr. Speaker, I will do every single thing I can to ensure that all employees of the department are treated as fairly as they can possibly be treated. (Applause)



MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, it is very enlightening to hear the minister say there are going to be changes within his department; there are going to be people displaced but nobody is going to lose their job. Well, I am very encouraged in hearing that news and I know that the safety education officers will be very pleased and those in the road transport division will be very pleased to learn that they are not going to lose their jobs. You heard it first here in Question Period.



Mr. Speaker, my question is, will the minister entrust the programs that are, at the present time, being delivered by the Highway Safety and Field Programs Division, will the minister be entrusting those programs and the responsibilities to the Canada Safety Council?



MR. MANN: I am not sure what he is getting at, Mr. Speaker. I know that we offer many programs. For example, the Nova Scotia Safety Council has, for years, been looking at ways to provide services with respect to highway safety, they have done a very credible job in doing that in compliance with national standards. They continue to look for new and better ways to do that.



We send safety education officers out to the schools while the teachers sit and watch the safety education officer talk to school children about school bus safety, crosswalks and those types of things. It may be possible that the Department of Education wants to play a role in that.



If we are talking about safety, let's talk about safety. Let's make it clear, we will continue to develop the program, we will continue to ensure that the program is delivered with acceptable standards that will not diminish in any way the safety element.



MR. SPEAKER: On a new question, the honourable member for Hants West.



TRANSPORT.: HWY. NO. 101 - MT. UNIACKE/ST. CROIX



MR. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Transportation and Communications. The section of Highway No. 101 between Sackville and Mount Uniacke interchange is now open for business. It has been open for a couple of months and it is certainly a welcome development.



I was wondering if the minister today could let Nova Scotians know when the department intends to grub the section from Mount Uniacke to St. Croix, which is the next section of Highway No. 101.



HON. RICHARD MANN: Well, Mr. Speaker, I think we are all familiar with the SHIP Agreement by now. The SHIP Agreement contains all the plans that exist for the Province of Nova Scotia, federal-provincial cost-sharing on twinned highways. There is no plan beyond the expiration of the SHIP Agreement that sees any twinning identified. What the SHIP Agreement allows for right now is the completion of one-half of the western alignment that was negotiated on April 1, 1993, by the government of which that member was a member of at that time.



The completion of the twinning from Mount Uniacke to Beaverbank, the twinning of Highway No. 125 from North Sydney to meet the twinned portion outside of Sydney and the twinning from Truro to New Glasgow. That is what is identified in the SHIP agreement. Beyond that 1998 period, there is no federal-provincial agreement in place. I would hope, and I will attempt as long as I am the minister, to negotiate further agreements beyond that but at the present time there are no plans on the books.



[3:00 p.m.]



MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I understand that under the Atlantic Freight Transition Program, there is approximately $51 million which is allocated for improvement and expansion of 100-Series Highways. Would the minister confirm that?



MR. MANN: No, Mr. Speaker. That is wrong.



MR. RUSSELL: Would the minister confirm that there is $51 million available from the Atlantic Freight Transition Program which could be used for expansion or improvement of 100-Series Highways?



MR. MANN: Mr. Speaker, the Atlantic Freight Transition Program, the monies made available as the federal government got out of the Maritime Freight Rate Assistance Program, that money could be used for any highway infrastructure that the Province of Nova Scotia sees fit as long as the Province of Nova Scotia matches 50 cent dollars. Everyone understand clearly, that if any monies from that program are applied to a new program, then we have to come up with matching funds. The only place we can come up with matching funds from our current budget, is money that already exists. So if we want to match $10 million on Atlantic freight funding for 100-Series Highways, then the $10 million we have to match has to come from our secondary road system. Not only do we not improve our secondary road system, but we rip another $10 million a year out of it.



The money that is in the transition program can be used for infrastructure that this province sees fit. As long as I am the Minister of Transportation, it will be used for the secondary road system in Nova Scotia and some 100-Series Highway repaving.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Citadel.



EDUC. - COMMUN. COL.: LEGISLATION - INTRODUCTION



MR. TERENCE DONAHOE: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Education. The minister will be aware - and I am sure has read, and probably already responded to - a letter which he received from Mr. David Peters, President of the NSGEU having to do with consultation in regard to community college legislation. Our caucus has received a copy of that letter and in that letter, President Peters asks this minister for some information on the community college legislation which the minister has been mentioning publicly and which he had, on earlier occasions, been indicating that he would be bringing forward to this session. We have not seen that legislation to date nor have we heard much about it in recent days.



My question to the Minister of Education is simply this, will he tell the House whether or not he is planning to introduce such a bill to address the question of governance and programming at the community college system, will he be introducing such legislation at this session of the House?



HON. JOHN MACEACHERN: Yes, Mr. Speaker, that is my intention.



MR. DONAHOE: By way of supplementary, I would refer again to the letter from the NSGEU to the Minister of Education. I am sure it is written in the light of the debacle which we have seen in relation to another piece of legislation introduced by this minister. In the letter, the president of the union asks that they have an opportunity to engage in detailed discussions with the minister about issues which are of concern to them relative to such legislation and they have asked that before it hits the floor of the Legislature that the minister would be prepared to make legislative language available to the NSGEU so they would have an opportunity to review and comment on it to him prior to its introduction here. I ask today if the Minister of Education is prepared to make that commitment to the NSGEU relative to that request in regard to the legislation we are describing?



MR. MACEACHERN: Mr. Speaker, the letter to which he refers is addressed to me and I am in the process of answering Mr. Peters myself.



MR. DONAHOE: Well, I appreciate the curt and flippant response. The letter was copied to this caucus and I made that clear to the minister. The President of the Nova Scotia Government Employees Union wanted us to be aware that this minister had the letter and had the request. It is prompted by that fact that I ask the question. I can appreciate that the minister is in the process of crafting a response.



I am asking the minister the question as to whether or not, in light particularly of the mess that ensued relative to Bill No. 39, where it is now absolutely clear that by reason of lack of consultation the minister had to come forward with something like 170 amendments of his own to attempt to doctor that legislation up, I ask the minister again if he is prepared to give an undertaking that he will engage in discussions with the NSGEU and share with them legislative language preparatory to introducing legislation here in this House relative to community colleges so as to ensure that at least in the main, the concerns of the NSGEU relative to any such legislation would be addressed, concerned and hopefully responded to in the bill with which the minister would come forward? Would he give that undertaking?



MR. MACEACHERN: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member for Halifax Citadel is suggesting I was flippant to suggest for a moment that an individual in this province wrote to the minister and asked for a response and I said that he should get the response before anyone else should get it. It seems that that is just courtesy. Mr. Peters has written to me and he will get my response before anyone else will to his particular request. That is a commitment that makes good sense to me.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.



EDUC. - FAMILY BENEFITS RECIPIENTS: STUDENT AID - LIMITS



MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, before I ask my question I would like to introduce to you and all members of the House in your gallery, a group of single parent mothers who are on family benefits and who are attempting to attend university. These people are joined by Jeanne Faye of Dalhousie Legal Aid. They are here with respect to a policy change made by the Department of Education this past summer which they feel unfairly discriminates against them as single mothers on family benefits. I would like to introduce them to the House and ask them to rise and receive the warm welcome of the House. (Applause)



Mr. Speaker, I would like to direct my question through you to the Minister of Education. This summer, as I indicated earlier, without any forewarning to students, the government changed their policy with respect to student aid for single mothers that are receiving family benefits. The effect of that was to reduce the amount of money that these people are eligible for, up to in some cases $4,500. I would like to ask the minister why he is obviously intent on discouraging people who are willing to overcome incredible obstacles by getting a higher education in order to give them independence? Why is it that he has made a Draconian change to the student aid policy which obviously singles out students on family benefits?



HON. JOHN MACEACHERN: Mr. Speaker, after the rhetoric of the honourable member I think the issue is very clear. Single mothers get their funding from the Department of Community Services in terms of living expenses. When they apply for student aid the student aid covers their study needs. Previous to this there was an overlap between the two. What is recognized is that in fact, it is being treated more fairly in the sense that if a student applies to us, we recognize that there is another program to deal with their living expenses and that is recognized by student aid, it is as simple as that and not the Draconian measure that the honourable member refers to.



By the way, I might mention to all members of the House that my department has been in constant dialogue with representatives of the Students' Union of Nova Scotia to deal with concerns they might have. For example, it has been demonstrated that sometimes single mothers have extraordinary expenses. We have made adjustments in the program to allow for those extraordinary expenses so that nobody would be disadvantaged.



MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, yes, the minister's department has been meeting with individuals with respect to this issue off and on since the summer. Unfortunately, they listened to the Teachers Union with their concerns but they have been unwilling to listen to these people with respect to these concerns.



Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask the minister whether in fact he or his department has examined this policy as to whether or not it unfairly targets single parents on family benefits and whether that contravenes the Charter of Rights and Freedoms?



MR. MACEACHERN: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member is drawing a long bow. I want to suggest to that honourable member that each and every student who might be impacted on that has been invited to come and talk to our staff to see what their extraordinary needs are because of their life situations. We have dealt with each one of those, even to the point that there is a particular representative in my office who has been dealing with case after case.



The honourable member seems to suggest that we have been ignoring these people and not discussing with each and every case and it is not so. He seems to be misleading and, in fact, I would suggest that there is a certain performance in his presentation as he takes his rhetorical excursions across the truth. But I want to suggest that we have dealt with each and every case. We have made allowances for each need that these people have brought to us and we will continue to do that. Again, I want the honourable member to be aware and through you, Mr. Speaker, to all members of the House, that the Minister of Community Services, his department, likewise, has been working with us to deal with the needs of single mothers who wish to attend post-secondary education in the Province of Nova Scotia.



MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, in my final supplementary, let me say that the people who are in the gallery today, and . . .



MR. SPEAKER: References to people in the gallery are out of order. This is Question Period.



MR. CHISHOLM: Let me say, Mr. Speaker, that many people who are experiencing the effects of the discriminatory change in the student aid policy, have tried time and time again by phone and in writing to get a meeting with this minister in order to be able to explain firsthand how it affects them and how difficult it makes it for them to try to break out of a cycle of poverty by gaining a higher education in order to generate that sense of independence.



I would like to ask the minister, obviously his staff have been unable to deal with the concerns of these individuals to their satisfaction, will he indicate here today that he will meet face to face with a group of single parents that are being affected by this change, who are on family benefits and who are being discriminated against by this change in policy? Will he meet with this group?



MR. MACEACHERN: Mr. Speaker, through you to the honourable member, I am going to give you an example of how we have dealt with people . . .



MR. CHISHOLM: Just answer the question.



MR. MACEACHERN: Mr. Speaker, with all due respect . . .



MR. CHISHOLM: That's the problem, you haven't answered the question.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic will please yield to the honourable Minister of Education.



MR. MACEACHERN: Two things, Mr. Speaker, first of all, single mothers who are on bursary or on scholarship, we pay no attention to that as a benefit and that is an advantage to them. That is to encourage them to do well and that is something no other student in this province where that is dealt with. (Interruption)



Secondly, Mr. Speaker, I want to suggest to the honourable member that the Students' Union of Nova Scotia, who represents students, brought these cases to me personally. We made a commitment through the Students' Union of Nova Scotia that any concerns be taken through the Students' Union of Nova Scotia to recognized representatives of students at each of these campuses and be brought to us. We have protocol to involve them and if there are any particular cases, I would suggest that they make contact with the Students' Union of Nova Scotia, carry that through the process, and there has been much satisfaction with the process, contrary to what that honourable member suggests.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings West.



HEALTH: HOME CARE PROG. - ASSESSMENT



MR. GEORGE MOODY: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health. I wonder if the Minister of Health could tell us if his department is conducting an ongoing assessment of the Home Care Program to determine if it is meeting the demands that he indicates are growing for alternative institutional care because of the closing of beds? I wonder if the minister has been doing an ongoing assessment to see if, in actual fact, home care is meeting those demands?



[3:15 p.m.]



HON. RONALD STEWART: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the question from the honourable member opposite. A part of the new Home Care Program has been an assessment tool with various sectors within that tool, if I might say, to evaluate several aspects of the effect; not only the effect but the numbers and the types of care that are being given and the aspects of outcome, as much as we can determine it given some of the data that we have had in the past, yes.



MR. MOODY: Mr. Speaker, I think I heard the minister say that some information is being collected - I didn't hear him say, if he did, I am sorry if he is saying it is all being collected, I wasn't, maybe he will clarify when he gets back up - I thought he said some was being collected; if it is all being collected, that is great.



I wonder if the minister could indicate whether or not his department has done an assessment on the costs required to fully implement the document here, Home Care Nova Scotia, A Plan for Implementation, that I know he is familiar with, I wonder if he can indicate to the House, through you, Mr. Speaker, what the cost would be to fully implement this program?



DR. STEWART: Again, Mr. Speaker, to perhaps expand on my original question, yes, the assessment tool that is developed, and has been developed in conjunction with the new Home Care Program does include the data, demographics, numbers of cases, types of cases, whether each fall into a given sector of home care, palliative care, home/hospital, chronic home care and so on, so those are all being collected. There is a computerized system that has been instituted, that has been tested over the last eight months and that data is being collected by each of the care coordinators regionally and analyzed and tabulated, and that is ongoing.



In terms of the cost estimates, yes, indeed, we have estimated our costs in terms of the program as it is being introduced, and we will continue to do so and introduce the programs as funds become available. We have planned, as the honourable gentleman knows from the report, to stage the introduction of other aspects of home care, in terms of the years 1996 and then 1997.



MR. MOODY: I am a little disappointed in the fact that I didn't hear a cost. If the minister would give us the cost. I understand what he is saying, it costs so much as we go step by step. I don't have any difficulty with that, but I am sure that his department must have done a cost analysis of what the total program would cost when it is completed, and that is what I hope the minister will give me.



I wonder if the minister would also give me that, as well as table the information on the assessment done to date. If we could have that information, so that we can tell whether or not - and I would ask the minister not to make further cuts to hospitals or to the hospital care until such time that we can see that, the data he has given - in actual fact home care is meeting the increased demand that is being put on them due to the closure of institutional beds.



DR. STEWART: As I have said many times and as the honourable gentleman opposite certainly brings to the attention of the House frequently, the institution of a new programs have to have certainly an assessment portion. In addition to this, we must be very careful as we transition into new programs, particularly as it affects the institutions. I will take under advisement the tabling of both costs and also assessment tools and the description and figures, as the honourable gentleman requests.



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





HEALTH - HOME CARE PROG.: QUALITY STANDARDS - DEVELOPMENT



MR. GEORGE MOODY: Mr. Speaker, to the Minister of Health. I know the minister is always very willing to table these and I thank him for that but I hope this is for real, that we will actually see it. That has been the difficulty, getting the pieces of paper.



I would ask the minister, when he announced through you, Mr. Speaker, his expanded Home Care Program, I believe on June 13th, he acknowledged that the department had not developed standards of quality and employment practices for pay, et cetera; those standards had not been set as recommended by the Blueprint Committee. They recommended that these standards be set.



He went on to say, the minister at the time, that they were developing standards and it was a priority but, as of June 13th, they were not done. It is five months later, and he said it would be done by sitting down jointly with labour to develop these standards as recommended by the Blueprint Committee on the quality of care, employment practices and pay and so forth, so I would ask the minister, since five months have gone by, if, in fact, those standards have been developed and, if they have, would he table those as well?



HON. RONALD STEWART: Mr. Speaker, I think in response to the question, the honourable gentleman should be a little more specific in terms of what standards he is speaking of. Certainly, I made statements both at the time and then throughout the last five months in terms of the development of standards for home support services. The standards for nursing services are in place and have been in place since the previous administration.



MR. MOODY: Mr. Speaker, I think the minister knows that I was referring to the home support standards. The nursing standards have been set, or were set and still apply as I understand it. The home support, which is done by private sector people in some cases and community groups and so forth, the standards have not been set and those are what I was referring to. I think also at the press conference on June 13th, the minister said the regional health boards, as I understand it, will be contracting home care staff, and existing VON contracts expire in March of 1996. Can the minister confirm that agencies other than the VON and Martha Home Health Care, will be open to compete for these home care contracts as tendered by the regional health boards as of April 1996? Is that the case?



DR. STEWART: Mr. Speaker, the honourable gentleman raises both a complex but also a very important issue and that is standards in the program. In regard to the specific question of whether or not after the contracts expire, that would depend entirely on whether or not the standards are in place and functioning at the time that those contracts expire. In other words, the fact that standards exist within VON and Martha Home Health Care, that would determine whether or not we would open that. I would suggest very strongly that if those standards are not in place, then those contracts would have to be looked at and renewed.



MR. MOODY: Mr. Speaker, I understand from the minister that those contracts will be extended if the standards are not in place by March 30, 1996, and I have no difficulty with that. The difficulty I will have is with what the minister is saying then, that the standards will be set and then they will go out for contract by the regional health boards. When will the minister give his assurance that regional health boards will ensure that we don't end up getting the cheapest, but not up to a standard that we have been having? The VON and Martha Home Health Care have set excellent standards, as the minister knows, and I am wanting to make sure that after the regional health boards take over that there will be no lowering of those standards when they are set out by contract. Can the minister give those assurances?



DR. STEWART: Mr. Speaker, in regard to nursing services, I would certainly give that undertaking without hesitation. The standards that are developed would be equal to or greater, if possible, than the current providers of the nursing component of home care. However, as the honourable gentleman opposite knows from his previous role, the standards for home support services need to be raised and changed. I would give that undertaking to certainly give attention to that, and I can give an estimate when I ask my staff specifically when those standards should be developed and in place. We are, as he was, concerned about the variety of standards that may exist in communities, and there are many community groups who have very high standards as he knows; in his tenure that was the case as well. We do believe we need across the province standards which are high, and I would pledge to that.



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



HEALTH - CARE: SENIORS - STANDARDS



MR. GEORGE MOODY: Mr. Speaker, I agree with the minister, those standards have been high in the past, on the nursing side. I guess I am going now to the personal care side. What we are finding is private companies are getting into the personal care side of home care, providing services for seniors, springing up all across the province. We don't have any standards, we don't have any sort of central registry, those sorts of things are not in place. I assume that after the end of March they are going to come under the regional health boards.



If the minister says we are going to have those standards, I wonder if it is not important that we get them as quickly as possible, to make sure seniors are protected and, not only that, but to make sure that all the regional health boards in the province require the same set of standards and there is some control on who out there is actually providing personal care services for seniors, not only the companies providing it but how are we making sure that the workers are meeting the standards when they provide those services for seniors?



HON. RONALD STEWART: Yes, I again appreciate the admonition and the question of the honourable gentleman opposite. It stems entirely from the desire that the Home Care Program and its directors and care coordinators and personnel have to elevate the standards, particularly in terms of the provision of home support services - not nursing services, home support - which represents about 60 per cent of the care delivered to seniors and others in the program because this program is now open to all Nova Scotians.



I might say that the key to this has been the expansion of the ability of care coordinators to evaluate the care that is going on. As a protection until the standards are in place, we have increased the number of care coordinators and the influence that they can have on the provision of services within the home and for the particular client being served. So that has been one guarantee, if you would.



But as the honourable gentleman opposite says and as I have repeated several times, the across-the-province standards must be in place before other home care providers can be allowed or can be included in the provision of service. That is the very careful and very measured approach that the new home care coordinators and the directors of the program are taking towards this problem.



MR. MOODY: Through you, Mr. Speaker, to the Minister of Health, given the fact that these standards are being worked on, I wonder if the minister could table for us in the House who has been meeting, who they have been consulting with, his staff, to work on these standards, the number of meetings that have been held, the type of people they have been meeting with and maybe some dates and times, and then bring us up-to-date on where we are, even though we haven't finished developing those standards, and the time expected as to when they might be completed.



I think it is important that we know that seniors are being consulted, that the people in the business are being consulted, along with his department working up these standards. If he would give us that information, I would ask him if he would do that, please.



DR. STEWART: The input towards the development of standards and towards the streamlining of a program has, of course, been going on for some months, particularly in terms of patient satisfaction, client satisfaction also involving the local providers who are now accepted and have been accepted for some years as care providers.



I would very properly prepare a short document in the briefing notes that I could table and I will speak to my staff this afternoon by phone.



MR. MOODY: Mr. Speaker, I think this is a very important issue. As the minister said, we have the most comprehensive Home Care Program in Nova Scotia of practically anywhere, we have one of the best. If we have one of the best, then I hope this information can be forthcoming. I think it is important that this get done and that we get this information out.



I would ask the minister, knowing that we are developing and adding as we go to our Home Care Programs, could he give an idea of how many new jobs in the next two to three years - we know how many jobs are being taken out of the institutions, probably 2,000 to 2,500 - is there a number of new jobs that are going to be created in home care and can the minister give us the number of those jobs?



[3:30 p.m.]



DR. STEWART: Again, I would refer back to the original question that the honourable member opposite asked me in terms of the introduction of the program in a measured way to make sure that the services were maintained in the community and the number of positions which would fall open would depend entirely on how much in the way of home care we need to support the services of the institutions. I cannot give a round number on that except to say that we will be watching carefully and planning with the local communities and community and regional health boards.



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



HEALTH: WAITING LISTS - TABLE



MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the honourable Minister of Health. The minister maintains there is no increased treatment delay. There is no increase in waiting lists for surgery. He even maintains that he has data to support that contention and what he is telling this House on a daily basis is that the waiting lists are improving, but oddly enough, he refuses to table that evidence. So my question for the minister is, can he table information that proves that there has been no increase in treatment delays, no increase in the average waiting time for Nova Scotians requiring the services of a neurosurgeon or a neurologist?





HON. RONALD STEWART: Mr. Speaker, I want to respond directly to this honourable member who continues to refer to waiting times and waiting lists. I would like if he would have the courtesy to table his information in terms of waiting lists in 1992 and 1993 or if you would like to do that, I would very much appreciate.



The second thing is to provide us, this House, with the information when he gets up and states that I have maintained ever that waiting lists were less or greater or the same than in 1991, 1992 or 1993. I can certainly tell him in terms of specifics over the last year because that, Mr. Speaker, was the only time that we were collecting the data. They were never collected prior to that. There was no standard information that we collected. There was no standard information and no definition even of a waiting list except for cardiovascular surgery.



You can look at cardiovascular surgery and we can analyze it very closely and we can talk about the reduction in angioplasty time. We can talk about the reduction in the number of patients on waiting lists for particular surgery. We can talk about how urgent cases are being handled. We can talk about the slight increase during August of elective cases because of closure of beds for holidays and the decrease since that time. If you give me specifics in that way, I will be happy to analyze and give you a response, but for the honourable gentleman, as he has over the last several days, to stand up and make some of the statements he has, particularly saying that there are only two neurosurgeons in this province seeing patients, this is the height of irresponsibility and he needs to be called on it. I, through you, Mr. Speaker, call him on this and tell him to table what information he is presenting today to say that waiting lists are x or y. He simply does not have.



I will be happy to present to this House and to the honourable gentleman opposite the information as it comes through our systems as we are developing those systems. I have said that and I have said it several times. I have said it last week, but until we get trends, until we define what a waiting list is and I would challenge the member opposite to find what a waiting list is and what it is composed of. I would say that if he has that information in previous years to compare, I would be very happy to discuss that.



MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, you know, I thought it was quite ridiculous and far-fetched when the Minister of Natural Resources told me to come up with a plan for the forestry in Nova Scotia. Now the Minister of Health wants me to table waiting lists. You are the Minister of Health.



Mr. Speaker, Mrs. Pat Clarke of Musquodoboit is suffering intense head and back pain. She has been experiencing that pain since the end of August. She had an appointment to see her neurosurgeon today, November 29th. She was called on Monday and told that she could not get in until January. Now, my question is modestly this, I put to the minister. Does a six month waiting period seem normal for a patient to wait to see a neurologist in this Province of Nova Scotia. Is that normal?



DR. STEWART: Mr. Speaker, as the honourable gentleman's Party opposite would be able to testify, the seeing of patients and the clinical delivery of services may vary according to physician, may vary according to the section of the province. That is one of the comments that I have made before.



If you go back to what was cited here in last year's report, the practically scurrilous report of the Fraser Institute, you would find that in neurosurgery and neurology, we were doing better than average around the country. What does he want, Mr. Speaker? Does he want me to in fact comment on the clinical decisions made? This is not micro-management of the health care system.



We have put in place and we have improved in various areas, and we are continuing to do so. These are system questions which I have addressed frequently in this House and all I ask of the honourable gentleman opposite is, would he table his information that makes the broad sweeping statement that only two neurosurgeons are available to see patients in this province, that makes the broad general statements that waiting lists are going from x to y. He fails to recognize that this is a question that has just recently been addressed by the Department of Health in the last two years.



MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I actually don't have any information to table for the Minister of Health. (Interruptions) But hear this, I would encourage the Minister of Health to get a copy of MT&T's Northeastern phone book, look under the Middle Musquodoboit Exchange, in Meaghers Grant, there is a Mr. and Mrs. Ronald Smith, 1-902-384- and the last four digits I will leave up to you. Now, again to the Minister of Health, can the Minister of Health tell the House if Nova Scotia has experienced a net loss of neurosurgeons in the last year?



MR. SPEAKER: All right. That is more in the realm of a parliamentary question.



DR. STEWART: Yes, if the honourable gentleman wishes me to report to this House currently on the status of neurosurgery, I would be happy to do that. There has been a loss of several neurosurgeons in the province. We have gained another one back. We have just hired two and in fact, as of this coming year, we will be up to beyond what level we have ever been up before. We will have seven neurosurgeons in this province, we have only had six, there are not two. In fact, I have their names if you wish me to read them into the record, but I will assure the member opposite that these clinical questions and the work being done by the people in this province, in the health care system will in fact continue to do the hard work they do. To make the suggestion in any way that only two neurosurgeons are working in this province, implying that the other three or so are not working, does not sit well with either them or this Minister of Health, or should sit well with patients either.



MR. SPEAKER: All right. The honourable member for Kings North seems to be seeking the floor very vigorously. (Interruptions)



The honourable member for Kings North.



HEALTH - NEUROSURGEONS: NAMES - TABLE



MR. GEORGE ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Health said he was going to table those names. I want those names. Give us the names.



MR. SPEAKER: All right, is that the question?



MR. ARCHIBALD: Since the minister will not answer the question, may I go to a different minister with a different question then.



MR. SPEAKER: Does the honourable Minister of Health wish to respond to the question? (Interruptions)



The honourable member for Kings North.



MUN. AFFS.: REASSESSMENT - DELAYED



MR. GEORGE ARCHIBALD: Well, he won't table anything so I am going to ask a minister who will stand up and speak. Mr. Speaker, through you, I would like to ask the Minister of Municipal Affairs a question.



Mr. Speaker, this question is very serious for this minister and it is with regard to Michael Turner's meeting. Michael Turner, of course, is President of Turner Drake & Partners Ltd., a realty tax consultant. He indicated to the minister and to the staff of her department that the reassessment being postponed is going to be a real hardship on business throughout Nova Scotia. I want to know if the minister believes that Mr. Turner is exaggerating what the potential harm due to the delay of the assessment is going to mean to Nova Scotia business, or does she have other information which she would like to share with us that would indicate why she has not gone ahead with the reassessment as she should have?



HON. SANDRA JOLLY: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to respond to this question. As I announced back in the summer, the Department of Municipal Affairs has always tried to move to an annual reassessment system. Currently, we have reassessments that are done every three years. We want to move to an annual reassessment system, because this was requested of us by people like Mr. Turner, and like Mr. Charles Hardy, who are involved in this business, as well as the Metropolitan Halifax Chamber of Commerce.



So, Mr. Speaker, we looked in the department and found a way that we could move to an annual reassessment system. The 1996 year coming up was scheduled to be a reassessment year, but in order to move to an annual reassessment system, we made a decision in the department that we would not do a reassessment in 1996, but in actual fact have 1997 as the year that reassessments came out. So, we were moving our assessment base for residential from the year of 1988 to 1995, and for business from 1991 to 1995.



MR. ARCHIBALD: Has there been a study within your department, that it would carry out, that would indicate that this was a wise or prudent policy? Businesses in Nova Scotia are complaining and it was pointed out very carefully to you by Mr. Turner that the difficulty is that your assessment for business is based on 1991 figures and the business that is being carried on today is not the same as it was then. The recession has been here; the economy is not as good as it was then. They are indicating that there are going to be hundreds of businesses in Nova Scotia out of business by your failure to bring in the assessment as everybody was anticipating.



What is it going to take and can you furnish any kind of a study that shows that this is not going to be a tremendous hardship on businesses throughout Nova Scotia?



MS. JOLLY: Mr. Speaker, I am not surprised that Mr. Turner is complaining, because Mr. Turner's business is to deal with appeals. Mr. Turner's main piece of business that he deals with is the appeal process. Yes, Mr. Turner is upset that we are not doing a reassessment, because I believe he sees quite a change in the amount of business he will do next year. In reassessment years, Mr. Turner does an exceptional amount of business. In non-reassessment years, Mr. Turner doesn't have the chance to do the same amount of business. So, I am not one bit surprised that Mr. Turner is concerned about the fact that we have extended the reassessment one year.





I will tell you, Mr. Speaker, I met with Mr. Turner and I met with Charles Hardy, who is in the same business, and Mr. Turner says, yes, I want you to do an annual reassessment because that is where we should be going. So, he wants it both ways, the same as this Opposition Party, the former government. He wants it both ways. He wants us to do the reassessment and he wants us to move to annual reassessments. I told him very clearly that I could do one or the other, and the annual reassessment was the one that was chosen by many people as the appropriate way for the department to go and this government to go. That is what we have done.



MR. ARCHIBALD: I find it most appalling, Mr. Speaker, through you to the minister, that the minister would stand in her place and try to discredit a person who has a great deal more credibility than what the minister has in the field of taxation in Nova Scotia. For that minister to stand in her place and say the only reason he is interested, there are hundreds and thousands of other Nova Scotians in the same predicament that Mr. Turner was indicating because the tax base is not the same as the business affairs of today. So, I would like to know from this minister why (Interruption)



MR. SPEAKER: Why?



MR. ARCHIBALD: Well, we are having some interruption from the Government House Leader and I thought he wanted to be helpful.



Mr. Speaker, through you to the minister, will you agree, then, with the indication from all business people in the metro region, that the reassessment is going to mean that Nova Scotia businesses are going to be taxed twice what they would if reassessment had taken place? Will you agree with that statement? That is a statement that we are hearing from business people around the region.



MS. JOLLY: Mr. Speaker, I want to make sure I answer the right question. The honourable member is asking me to confirm that business people in the Province of Nova Scotia will be taxed twice. No, they will not.



MR. SPEAKER: On a new question, the honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party.



ENVIRON. - BEVERAGE CONTAINERS: RETURN SYSTEM - REGULATE



MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I would like to direct a question, through you, sir, to the Minister of the Environment. It has to do with his new solid waste management strategy. The minister, of course, will know that the soft drink industry is complaining very loudly about the levy system which is being imposed upon them by the minister in his new strategy in which they are going to be forced to help to pay for the recycling costs for others. The minister knows that if he had accepted the advice and followed the advice of his committee, which was giving him advice, which was suggesting that the soft drink industry could be made totally responsible for the collection, reuse and recycling of their containers, as is done with the beer industry, that that would not have happened.





[3:45 p.m.]



So my question to the minister is quite simply, why didn't the minister follow the advice of his own advisory committee and ensure that the soft drink industry was completely responsible for their own cost - 100 per cent - for recycling, reuse and refilling rather than forcing them to help to pay for the costs of some other recycling?



HON. WAYNE ADAMS: The honourable member asked me why I, as minister, did not follow the advice of my committee. I have to tell him at the outset, that is exactly what we did. The advice was rather unanimous in the direction in which we went. It was not a solo decision, it was done by consulting a great number of Nova Scotians, in particular, those people in the beverage business.



MR. HOLM: I look at the environmental impact review and summary of the beverage container management model prepared for the Nova Scotia Department of the Environment and it was in October 1994, where it talks about refillable beverage system offers superior environmental performance than the model that has been chosen. In fact, following such a model would be best for the environment, it would be best for the economy and it would be best for municipal taxpayers because municipal taxpayers would not have to pay one cent for the disposal of those beverage containers if the industry itself were required to assume 100 per cent responsibility, as is the case, with the beer industry and beer bottles in the Province of Nova Scotia and is as done in Prince Edward Island.



My question to the minister, why did the minister choose for an option that is going impose continued costs for the municipal taxpayers in the Province of Nova Scotia?



MR. ADAMS: The member chooses to use the question to be a little bit deceitful. There is no tax in this program at all. I think the member for Sackville-Cobequid knows that the deposit return system is certainly a fee that does not go to government coffers in any way and there is no taxation in that scenario. He uses the date of October 1994, and I think that predates the findings of our broad consultation.



MR. HOLM: I want to go back to the minister and the minister's answer. The minister is saying that I am being a little bit deceitful in the way that I am putting the question because there is no tax. In fact, the minister will know that there is a deposit that is going to be charged and only half of that deposit is going back to the consumer when that product is being returned and the other part is going to go into a fund.



Call it what you want, they call it the whack tax, it is a tax. My question is quite simply this, why is it that the minister chose to set up a different system here for the beverage containers, why did he not follow exactly the same system which is more environmentally friendly which would create more jobs so it is best for the economy, would not cost any taxpayers any money by requiring that they follow the same model as is done with the beer bottle industry in the Province of Nova Scotia?



MR. ADAMS: I have to break that one down into small portions. Let me repeat again, that the advice that we took was based on the recommendations of the broader majority of people who participated in our consultations. We have not singularly gone to one (Interruption) I do not think he wants the question answered. He made reference again to a tax. I want to make as clear as I can, one more time, that we are not talking about a tax. He made the reference that, only half went back to the consumer, the other half goes somewhere else. The whole thing goes back to the consumer - half directly and half indirectly in providing jobs to help those who are in the business of recycling and to help municipal units better bear the burden of doing the recycling and the reduction of garbage going into our landfill sites.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Citadel.



EDUC. - SCHOOL BD. (SW REG.):

AMALGAMATION COORDINATOR - APPOINTMENT



MR. TERENCE DONAHOE: My question is to the Minister of Education. You will recall, Mr. Speaker, as I am sure the minister does, that in Question Period yesterday I asked the Minister of Education questions about the competition for the coordinator's position for school board amalgamation down in southwest Nova Scotia. I indicated at that time that my information was that a gentleman named Mr. Campbell was the recommended candidate coming out of the interview process and that the minister intervened and went to P & P with the matter and, as a result of his intervention, a gentleman named Mr. Laurie got the job. Yesterday the minister made a commitment to me that he would table the information, the documentation and the detail to describe just what did go on here with the applications and the interviews and the result reached.



I ask the minister, does he have the documents here with him today and is he prepared to table that information here this afternoon?

HON. JOHN MACEACHERN: Mr. Speaker, I can tell the honourable member that I do have the information that demonstrates that the staff, first of all, did recommend it, so he was wrong the first time. Secondly, therefore I could not have intervened to change their decision. Wrong again. Thirdly, this person did do work for the Halifax District School Board, wrong again, and I suggest that when he gets up for the second question, an apology is in order to the House.



AN HON. MEMBER: You promised.



MR. DONAHOE: Well, Mr. Speaker . . .



MR. SPEAKER: I think we have enough time. Just let me give a little reading from Beauchesne, a reading from the work of Beauchesne, three sentences.



MR. DONAHOE: This will not be taken from the time allotted to Question Period, Mr. Speaker, will it?



MR. SPEAKER: "It has been formally ruled by Speakers that statements by Members respecting themselves and particularly within their own knowledge must be accepted. It is not unparliamentary temperately to criticize statements made by Members as being contrary to the facts; but no imputation of intentional falsehood is permissible. On rare occasions this may result in the House having to accept two contradictory accounts of the same incident.". That is from Beauchesne.



MR. DONAHOE: Thank you very much for that helpful quotation, Mr. Speaker.



By way of supplementary, I would say, Mr. Speaker, through you to the Minister of Education, that it is he, rather than I, who would rightly consider an apology to this House because it was he who gave an undertaking and the undertaking was that he would table documents. He has failed and refused to table the documents. He in response to my principal question wants to play with words and abuse me, and that is fine. I have a thick enough skin to take anything he wants to give me.



I want to ask the minister, is he prepared to make good on the commitment that he made to me and to this House, that he will table the documents that he promised yesterday he would table in connection with this matter?



MR. MACEACHERN: I told the honourable member that I would table them and I will, but he said yesterday, and I quote from Page 3495, "You prove it wrong and I will apologize.". That is the commission he gave to this House. When I table this, which I will do at this moment, I will accept the apology graciously. (Applause)



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Citadel, final supplementary, and the document is available for your inspection.



MR. DONAHOE: The document is not available.



MR. SPEAKER: Well, it will be in due course.



MR. DONAHOE: Well, everybody waits with baited breath.



With respect, Mr. Speaker, what I propose to do is this. I propose, and I trust you will understand why I say so, the document tabled has some very interesting language in it. (Interruption) Have you got something to say, minister? (Interruptions)



MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.



MR. DONAHOE: The document says, "In keeping with principles of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, personal information has been severed from this document.". I would like to have the opportunity to review it, on the basis of the fact that the document that has been tabled does not disclose the full detail of the issue which I raise with the minister. On the basis of the fact that this minister tables a laundered document, Mr. Speaker, I will take what opportunity I need to read it and if an apology is appropriate, I will make that apology, as I have undertaken to do.



MR. SPEAKER: That was the final supplementary question. The honourable Minister of Education.



HON. JOHN MACEACHERN: Mr. Speaker, in answer to the honourable member's question, I would quote that yesterday he said the staff,



AN HON. MEMBER: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order.



MR. MACEACHERN: Mr. Speaker, with all due respect. No point of order.



ANOTHER HON. MEMBER: No point of order.



MR. SPEAKER: There are no points of order in Question Period. No points of privilege either. (Interruptions)



MR. MACEACHERN: I am answering your question. This is Question Period.



MR. SPEAKER: He is answering the question, that's all.



MR. MACEACHERN: Yesterday he said that staff recommended someone other than Michael Laurie.



MR. DONAHOE: Mr. Speaker, who asked this man a question?



MR. SPEAKER: You did, you did. (Interruptions)



MR. DONAHOE: I did not. I did not! (Interruptions) He is out of order.



MR. SPEAKER: You are out of order, now sit down.



MR. DONAHOE: I asked my question by way of final supplementary, to table the documents by way of final . . .



MR. SPEAKER: Sergeant-at-Arms, encourage the honourable member to take his seat.



MR. DONAHOE: No new question was put to this minister. No new question was put to this minister.



MR. SPEAKER: Take your seat, be seated. You put a final supplementary, he is answering it. Take your seat.



MR. DONAHOE: He is not. He answered this final supplementary by tabling this document and that . . .



AN HON. MEMBER: That was his second supplementary.



MR. MACEACHERN: That was his first supplementary.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Education.



MR. MACEACHERN: Mr. Speaker, it is the first supplementary.



MR. DONAHOE: What kind of a show is going on around here? (Interruptions)



MR. MACEACHERN: It says . . .



AN HON. MEMBER: No, go count them. It is the first supplementary. Go and check.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Education is answering a final supplementary question that was posed and is now being answered. (Interruptions)



MR. MACEACHERN: Yesterday the honourable member said that staff recommended someone other than Michael Laurie. (Interruption)



MR. SPEAKER: I don't know if the Question Period can proceed if the honourable members are going to behave like this. Be quiet. Please be seated, honourable Minister of Education.



We have in this House a precedent by which a member makes a question and the minister answers. A supplementary question is allowed, the minister answers. A final supplementary question is permitted, the minister answers.



In this case the honourable member, whom I have not named and who has left the House voluntarily, I have not expelled him at all. The honourable member for Halifax Citadel asked the question. It was replied to. According to my records here he asked a supplementary question and the minister responded. He got up on his feet again, was recognized to pose a final supplementary question, made a statement of some kind, Hansard will record it. The minister is now up to answer that. That is the sequence, that is what is happening.



The honourable Minister of Education has the floor.



MR. MACEACHERN: The honourable member said to this House that my staff recommended someone other than Michael Laurie. The recommendation is here and it says, it is the recommendation of the interview panel that Michael Laurie have the job. (Interruptions) That is what is says. So therefore, the honourable member was wrong and it says that, Mr. Speaker. So for the record, the honourable member made an accusation in this House. He was wrong. He told this House he would apologize if he was wrong, an apology is owed.



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



HEALTH: CMHA - STATUS



MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: In the spirit of returning some calm, cool issues to the floor, Mr. Speaker, last spring in May, actually on May 17th - I am sorry, I want to direct my question through you to the Minister of Health - the issue was raised about the Mental Health Core Services. We had tabled in this House a draft document that we understood came from the Department of Health. There were some concerns about that but, nonetheless, the minister indicated that the department was, in fact, working on a provincial Mental Health Core Services. Concern raised at that time was that various organizations, including the Canadian Mental Health Association and other members of the community, had not yet, at that point, been consulted.



The minister said, and I will be happy to table this in the House, Mr. Speaker, that, "Again. I would commit as I mentioned, to further consultation, particularly with provider groups and those groups such as CMHA, Schizophrenia Society, bipolar disorders and others and I believe that is reasonable and in fact, and an essential element of that policy.".



[4:00 p.m.]



Mr. Speaker, as I am aware to date, the CMHA has not been involved in discussions. I would like to ask the minister if he could clarify the status of this program and the inclusion or lack of inclusion of the CMHA in that process?



HON. RONALD STEWART: Mr. Speaker, the consultation process for the development of the core services takes several forms, one of which are some meetings within the department to develop some documents and that has been ongoing in terms of our own department. There are other stakeholders, if you would, who also have meetings. I believe there is a major thrust being undertaken by the Nova Scotia Hospital, for example. I have certainly discussed with them the composition of any group that would come together. The Canadian Mental Health Association has been one of those groups in which I would be very interested in participating.



I would certainly be able to report more fully on the continued development of core services after that particular thrust, or that thrust by the Nova Scotia Hospital is completed. I know that the CMHA is included in that; I am certain of that.



MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, the whole issue of this mental health core program, or the provincial mental health core program and the need for such a program was, I think, underlined by the reported problems with suicides at the Cape Breton Regional Hospital. The issue was in today's paper and we have heard those concerns raised before. I would like to ask the minister if he could explain why his department has not been able to move faster on such an important issue and whether or not he will commit here today to ensure that that core program is finalized in the very near future and that hopefully it will help institutions like the Cape Breton Regional Hospital.



DR. STEWART: Yes, Mr. Speaker, I certainly would commit to continuing the process. We have continued that process. The meetings of non-governmental organizations in which the CMHA was well-represented last week was one of those issues; how we relate as a regionalized system to non-governmental agencies and core programs were discussed in that very fine meeting that was held last week at which the CMHA and other organizations were party and very valuable contributors. I might say that the tragedies that happened particularly within Cape Breton to which the honourable gentleman refers is not a direct result of lack of core services. Rather there are other issues which we want to investigate and look at but I would give an undertaking to continue that process of the development of core services.



MR. SPEAKER: I believe the time allotted has expired. I let it actually go two minutes over because of the interruptions. The time allotted for the Oral Question Period has expired.



MR. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order, the Minister of Human Resources today held a press conference during Question Period which put him out of the House and it would appear to me that if the minister wishes to have a press conference that it would be sensible and the fair thing to do to either have it before Question Period or after Question Period. I would just like to make that observation.



MR. SPEAKER: All right. The observation is made.



MR. JOHN HOLM: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker, I think that we also have a practice in this House - this was called a press conference - but it really amounted to a statement. It was more in the manner of a statement by the minister. That statement, I believe, based on the precedents that we do have, should have been made in this House so that members and the critics of the minister would have had the proper opportunity to have the chance to make a response to the minister's statement in the House. Surely, what the minister made and the comments that he made, were in fact a ministerial statement. I am afraid that we are establishing precedence where ministers, at the same time that this House is in session, are choosing to go outside the House to make their statements which I believe is slightly outrageous . . .



AN HON. MEMBER: An abuse of our privileges.



MR. HOLM: . . . and certainly in violation of the traditions of this House.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.



HON. RICHARD MANN: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. I do not know how you can bind any individual in this House to force them to make statements or not make statements. They are in charge of running a department and putting out information as they see fit, just as the members opposite put out information as they see fit. Whether they do it in a press conference, a statement, a question in the House, a resolution, whatever they choose to do, I do not believe there are any rules in effect in this House, or in any House, that clearly defines what a ministerial statement is and when it has to be done in the House.



On many occasions, ministers and other members put out press releases to get information out, hold press conferences and I do not know how, Mr. Speaker, this House would ever determine and force ministers to make statements or not make statements.



MR. SPEAKER: Well, I have heard the views of all honourable members. The honourable Minister of Human Resources - this is biting into the Opposition members' time; I am prepared to deal with the matter now - if you wish to make a statement, sir, you may.



HON. JAY ABBASS: No slight was intended by any means. My having a brief session downstairs, in which I did read a statement, one of the members opposite did say that it is more appropriate that any debate over a bill such as the QE II Act happen within the confines of this House.



I could not agree more because the statement says just that. The parliamentary process which includes both first and second reading, then Law Amendments Committee work, and then third reading, is exactly what I was talking about downstairs and that is what we should all, as members of this House, be very careful to preserve and defend. That was what I was urging upon the leadership of the NSGEU as the appropriate means by which they could pursue their concerns before this House. Thank you.



MR. SPEAKER: We have heard many submissions on this matter. I do not find a point of order. I am not able to control the statements that members make outside these Chambers. As honourable members will well know some have been wont, on occasion, to leave these Chambers and question my own statements and judgments. I had no means of controlling that or preventing that; it is simply the way it is. I find that there is no point of order.



OPPOSITION MEMBERS' BUSINESS



MOTIONS OTHER THAN GOVERNMENT MOTIONS



The honourable Opposition House Leader.



MR. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Resolution No. 464.



Res. No. 464, re Mun. Affs. - C.B. Reg. Mun.: Cost Reductions - Failure Explain - notice given Oct. 31/95 - (Mr. A. MacLeod)



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



MR. ALFRED MACLEOD: Madam Speaker, it is my pleasure today to get up to speak to Resolution No. 464:



"Therefore be it resolved that the Liberal Government explain to all Nova Scotians how their promise of reduced costs and taxes in the new regional municipality has failed so miserably that taxpayers now face the likelihood of extremely excessive tax increases.".



I would like to, if I could, Madam Speaker, read a few items. This one is dated May 19, 1994, "Cape Bretoners who'll live in a new super-city won't have to worry about increased residential property taxes, says Municipal Affairs Minister, Sandy Jolly.". From Hansard, May 30, 1994, "It will be more effective and efficient, cost less to run . . .", and I am willing to table those documents, if so required.



MADAM SPEAKER: I think it would be appropriate. If you are willing to table them, that is quite correct. Thank you.



MR. MACLEOD: I want to point out to the members in the House that those were her words. They are not my words; I did not say those things. I am saying that there is a problem with the amount of taxes that are going to be paid by the people in the County of Cape Breton. There is a problem with what has happened in this whole amalgamation business.



AN HON. MEMBER: Explain it to us.



MR. MACLEOD: In due course, I certainly will.



The problem that we have now is that a number of people in the County of Cape Breton and in the Cape Breton Regional Municipality are going to be faced with what they think is a massive tax increase. The rumours on the street, what people are coming and saying to me, what people are calling me and saying to me is that we are going to be hit with major tax increases, tax increases of somewhere around 11 per cent they are told - 11 per cent if they are living in what was known as the County of Cape Breton, and 11 per cent if they run a business in what was known as the County of Cape Breton - we are hoping that is wrong; we are hoping that the rumours on the street are not correct.



Any increase is too much, the people cannot afford that. They have been paying their taxes, they have been hit by tax after tax. For the people who live in the former municipal units that were towns and were the City of Sydney there is talk of a 5 per cent increase; 5 per cent still too much when you are paying the type of taxes that have been paid in the Municipality of the County of Cape Breton and in the old municipal units.



What are we to do? We are to look around and see all of the things that are happening to us. We have people in Cape Breton that are in dire straits, people who no longer have work, people who are out on the streets looking for jobs, people who don't know where they are going to turn. The solution? The amalgamation, and now the amalgamation is costing millions of dollars. Nobody has come through with what has caused that deficit amount.



I think it is time that we address and ask the Minister of Municipal Affairs to please tell everybody why this happened. When she was asked in this House on a different occasion she said she didn't know why either. Hopefully, that has changed because there is supposed to be a solution. What is the solution and why don't the taxpayers of Cape Breton know about this?



It is important that we look at what has happened here. There has been a long series of events. The amalgamation was thrust on the municipal units. There were two units in Cape Breton that didn't want amalgamation, Louisbourg and the Northside. They both held votes saying they didn't want this but it was still shoved down their throats. It was a shotgun marriage, a marriage of inconvenience for everybody, a marriage that has created a lot of heartache for the people who live there, people who can't afford to pay higher taxes, people who want to remain in Cape Breton.



I met with people on the weekend who said they are not going to be able to stay in Cape Breton any longer, they are not going to be able to stay in their homes because of what has been going on with the amalgamation, the forced new tax levies that will probably put on them because of the mismanagement of this whole process; a process that was supposed to save money, $4.2 million the minister keeps telling us and now it is costing $15 million. People cannot understand that, people are worried about that, people are talking about civil disobedience. People are not willing or able to pay any more taxes. The job rate in Cape Breton has been decreasing. There have been many initiatives taken by different people cutting back on jobs. People are not working in the regional municipality and people are scared. Then they sit back and they see what is happening to their health care system.



I attended a meeting in Cape Breton where there were 3,000 people and they are worried about their health care system. Now if they have a right to be worried or not is a question that I can't answer but it is a fact that they are worried. They deserve the answers and they deserve responsible answers from members of this government. Those are the kind of things that lead them to think that this deficit was brought on by mismanagement by the policies put in place by the Minister of Municipal Affairs. It is those kind of things that they relate to when they talk about it. It is not a pretty sight to see 3,000 people marching on the street wondering about their health care. It makes people really concerned and worried.



There are other items that are going on. What is going on in education? Many people have written me and called me to express concerns. I as a parent have many concerns that are similar to the other parents that are involved in the education of their children. They want some straight answers and communication. Communication, I believe, was one of the strong building blocks that this government used in order to get elected but then when they got elected, the building blocks went out in the snow and there was no communication and people don't know what is going on. All the people know is that they are scared; they are worried about their future. They are scared to death at what is going to happen.



[4:15 p.m.]



Madam Speaker, if there are going to be massive tax increases for the people who live in Cape Breton County, the people who live in the cities and towns that make up the Cape Breton Regional Municipality, there are going to be more job losses; there are going to be more concerns put forward. It is our job to make sure that those types of things don't happen. We are scared that the people are going to have to pay monies that they don't have, monies that they can't afford. What are we to do? What are they to do?



Madam Speaker, it is very important that people understand what is going on and it is really desperately important that the Minister of Municipal Affairs come straight with the people. But it is her job, as Minister of Municipal Affairs, to look after the rights and the willings and the goods of all people, not just a few, and these people are looking for her leadership and her guidance.



When there is a question asked about the problem, she says, ask your mayor or ask your councillors. Well, the mayor and the councillors that I have asked don't seem to have the answers, in my opinion. But these people are the people who are going to have to answer for the mistakes that have been made by this minister.



Madam Speaker, I am worried about what is happening; I am scared about what is going on. There is talk that there are going to be less services for the people in the region. What services are they going to cut out in the rural areas? In the rural areas of our municipality, we don't have that many services. We have garbage collection and we have street lighting, but there aren't a whole lot of services for those people. So, where are the services going to be cut there, or are they going to be cut? Are the services going to be cut in the policing of the area? Those are all kinds of questions that are being asked by different people in many areas.



There are many things, Madam Speaker, in areas that need to be done, still capital projects that have to be completed. There are water problems in some areas; there are sewer problems in some areas. There are all different types of problems that have to be looked after, and what are we to do? If this whole solution is going to be raising taxes and cutting services, then that is not what was promised to us. That is not what the minister said. She said that we wouldn't have tax increases, and I would wonder why we are, indeed, going to end up with those tax increases when we were told that was not the reason for amalgamation.



The minister even congratulated the people of Cape Breton for taking this historic step and making history by going along with amalgamation. Well, we had no choice. Amalgamation was forced upon us. Amalgamation, if done properly, may be a good thing, but so far there has been no evidence that it has been done right and that it has been done properly.



MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Madam Speaker, I have a question. The honourable member for Cape Breton West makes reference to a forced amalgamation for the municipal areas in industrial Cape Breton. Would he not agree that the idea of forced amalgamation originated with the Cameron Government?



MR. MACLEOD: I think the member for Cape Breton South would realize that I just told the member for Cape Breton The Lakes that amalgamation may be a good idea. That is what I said; it may be a good idea. The fact of the matter is, it hasn't been implemented and done properly, and therefore the people who live in that region are the ones who are going to end up paying big taxes; major tax increases that they can't afford, they weren't expecting and they don't want.



Madam Speaker, we did a poll, not too long ago in Cape Breton West, to find out what the people wanted and what they were happy about. The poll is the reason I am here, because they weren't happy with the way the government was going about its business. They weren't happy with the outlook of having health care cuts, education cuts and tax increases. That is why I have the privilege of being in this House, because they were not happy with what was being said to them. They will not be happy with the lack of communication. The people of Cape Breton West, the people of the Cape Breton Regional Municipality understand that times are hard. Nobody will dispute that. Nobody in this House will dispute that and I certainly would not dispute it.



The fact of the matter is that when you are tightening the belt, you have to talk to the people. You have to explain why things are being done the way they are being done. You have to consult with them. They do not think that they have gotten a fair shake. They wanted leaner government, not meaner government and that seems to be what has come down the tubes. Every time you turn around, there is a cut, there are job losses. There are people walking the streets. There are unemployment rates that are growing and growing and there are people falling through the cracks, people who cannot get unemployment, people who go the unemployment offices and they are told that if you are not on a welfare program, we cannot do anything for you. Those people are falling through the cracks and it is incumbent upon us to make sure that we can look at those people and try to help them, not just put it on a back burner because it does not fit somebody's political agenda. There are people out there that are hurting and it is policies of this government that are hurting them. We have to do the best we can to make it possible for people to stay in their homes, for people to understand why things are being done the way they are being done. People will bite the bullet, but they have to be told why they are biting the bullet. It should not be shoved down their throat like some medicine a little child does not want to take.



This is serious stuff. What we do in this House over the course of the next few years will relate and translate into how my children, your children, your grandchildren, and your nieces and nephews and everybody else live in this province over the next number of years. It is important that we do our best for the people.



I would like to finalize by saying that it is important that each member in this House realizes that communication with the people they are to serve is important and to follow their heart, not the political agenda set out by their Party. Thank you.



MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Finance.



HON. BERNARD BOUDREAU: Madam Speaker, I thank the honourable member for bringing this topic to the floor of the House of Assembly, because it gives a number of us an opportunity to comment on it in a way, perhaps, we have not to date.



The honourable member and I probably agree on at least one thing on this issue and that is that there is a $15 million problem for the Cape Breton Regional Municipality. I do not think the Minister of Municipal Affairs ever denied that. I do not think I have ever denied it and I do not think the government has ever denied it, so we probably agree on that much, that there is a $15 million problem.



From that point, we part company, because I think that the honourable member is falling into the trap that imprisoned his Party, frozen in inaction, over 15 years while they were in government. The trap is this: faced with a problem, you generally have two choices. You can try and deal with the problem or you can try and hide it because it is a little more comfortable at the moment. You can borrow money and you can put off the problem. You can buy off the problem for one year; if you borrow a little more, you can buy it off for two years; if you borrow a lot, you can buy off the problem for 15 years. But somebody has to pay the bill. When you are borrowing to preserve your own political comfort, and that is what it is, you are borrowing to preserve your own political comfort so that you will get a nice headline in the Halifax Chronicle-Herald on Monday, you are borrowing from your children because they are the ones who are going to pay the bill. I ask this member, he is new in the House, not to fall into that trap that so imprisoned his Party for these many years in Nova Scotia.



There are two ways to approach the problem. Now that we agree three is a problem, there are two ways to approach it. You can attempt to cast blame and, believe me, there are many people in this particular issue that want to cast blame. There are some people from one municipality, the old municipalities, who want to cast blame on another municipality. I do not know if I would include the honourable member, but there are some Opposition members that want to blame almost everybody. They are careful, by the way, to include the current provincial government when they are handing out the blame. What they want to do is create fear, set one area against another area.



Well, Madam Speaker, that is not productive. I will tell you, it is not going to make the problem go away. If it would make the problem go away, we could all engage in it, we could have a real free-for-all, we could blame somebody. Blame is for people who don't want to deal with the problem. We want to deal with the problem, the Minister of Municipal Affairs wants to deal with the problem.



Now let's examine the problem because if you want to deal with the problem, you have to understand it first. Madam Speaker, I am not sure if the honourable member for Cape Breton West understands the problem because he is suggesting, or perhaps I misunderstand, but he seems to be suggesting that the operation of this new amalgamated municipality has somehow gone awry, has somehow created deficits, has somehow created problems.



The operation came into effect on August 1st and, Madam Speaker, it is going just fine. The honourable member seems to suggest somehow that this $15 million problem that we are going to talk about dealing with comes from the operation of the amalgamated municipality. That is a fundamental error. It won't help with the problem, it will just mislead people, accidentally I am sure. It will just mislead people and it will prevent us from dealing with the problem.



The honourable member seems to think, for example, that this new municipality somehow is foisted on some inefficiency and he quotes the honourable Minister of Municipal Affairs to support his argument. So I asked him to table it, I have a copy. Let me read to you what the honourable Minister of Municipal Affairs said about this on the date quoted by the honourable member for Cape Breton West. "The new structure is to be a marked improvement over the existing form of municipal government for the county. It will be more effective and efficient, cost less to run and provide the people of Cape Breton County with a single vote at the municipal level.".



Every word of that is true, 100 per cent accurate. This is his quote, Madam Speaker, I didn't dig this out, the honourable member for Cape Breton West did.



You know they blame the cost of amalgamation because I know Oppositions tend to seek blame. The Opposition says amalgamation costs $4.6 million to implement and they want to examine the $4.6 million to see who they can blame for $500,000 of this and $1 million of that. Let me tell you, Madam Speaker, what business in the entire world, if they were offered this deal, would refuse it. If you said to a business, for an investment of $4.6 million we can reduce your operating budget by $4.2 million annually, virtually a one year payback on your investment, what business in this world would turn down that deal? None, absolutely none.



So, Madam Speaker, you want to talk about the $4.6 million, talk about it in that context. It is an investment. Now if you want to spend your time arguing whether it should have been $3.6 million or $2.6 million or $4.6 million, talk about it in terms of the commitment and the return we get for that commitment.



MR. ALFRED MACLEOD: On a point of order, Madam Speaker. I think that I asked the minister that the problem be explained to the people who are going to end up paying the bill, similar to the way he said now. I never try to cast aspersion as to where or that he caused the problem, just that it should be explained to the people - not just to this House, but to the people.



MADAM SPEAKER: Thank you. It isn't a point of order but it is a point of clarification of your remarks.



MR. BOUDREAU: I am sure, Madam Speaker, that this honourable member is interested in seeing an honest, fair and complete communication of the situation to the people. We are going to try and do that. I will try and do that in the minutes I have left.



Keep in mind the type of return. Ask yourself, is there a business in this world that would turn down that deal? The answer is no.



Take the $4.6 million that we have just talked about, take that out of the picture because that is a good investment. We have eight municipalities that brought to the table on August 1, $10 million worth of problems. Now they wouldn't go away. We didn't wave the magic wand and say poof, the $10 million worth of problems are gone. We had six of the eight municipalities virtually facing bankruptcy.



Now I am sorry, but when you put those six with the two it didn't make the six better automatically. We can go in to the $10 million and try and determine how much of it came from this municipality and how much of it came from that municipality. That is going to get in the way of a solution. I say that honestly to the honourable member. If we are ever going to get this problem solved, that type of thinking and that type of negative approach will stand in the way.



Where would we be? The honourable member says he is not sure if he is favouring amalgamation or not. (Interruption) Oh, he said he may favour amalgamation, I think were his words. Well, let me ask the honourable member to consider this; picture us here today without amalgamation, what would we be debating? I would suggest we would be debating what in God's name would we be doing with the six municipalities that had gone bankrupt and couldn't provide services?



MADAM SPEAKER: I am just going to interject here, that we try not to profane in the course of remarks. Occasionally over the last week or so it has been creeping into debate so I would just put that into the record for all the honourable members to notice.



[4:30 p.m.]



MR. BOUDREAU: I certainly support your sensibilities, Madam Speaker, but I felt in no way that it was profane. We may differ on that but that is my view.



Madam Speaker, let me tell you how, as I said when I started off, we agreed that there was a $15 million problem. How did we handle it? How did we attempt to do this in a positive way? There were three elements to our approach; one was amalgamation. Why was amalgamation a necessary part of solving the $10 million problem? Because it provided $4.2 million of savings annually.



Now granted, in the first year that is going to go, it is going to be eaten up by the startup costs. But every year after that, into the future, that $4.2 million will be available on an annual basis to deal with the problem.



We offered a $2 million loan under certain conditions because after the plan, after the new municipalities had come forward with a plan there was $2 million they couldn't deal with in any sort of a reasonable scenario, so we offered that $2 million loan. But, most important, we asked them for a plan, a multi-year plan and, Madam Speaker, they provided one. The municipality and its staff worked on a plan, they came up in a very responsible way with a plan to solve the $15 million problem, and not only solve the $15 million problem for today but to allow municipal services to continue in Cape Breton indefinitely into the future.



It was a pretty sensible plan and I want to salute the mayor and the staff and all those people responsible for developing it. I want to salute the Minister of Municipal Affairs for her contribution to that plan.



Madam Speaker, I want to make it clear, I am not directing these comments to the honourable member for Cape Breton West who spoke. I am saying when you find yourself in the middle of a problem, I find you can usually divide people into two categories, those people who complain and whine and try to take personal advantage from the problem and those people who roll up their sleeves and try to fix it. Now the first group are usually a lot larger than the second group.



The Minister of Municipal Affairs clearly put herself in the second group. The mayor and the council and staff of the new regional municipality clearly put themselves in the second group. I ask honourable Opposition members when they rise to speak on this subject, which group, which category are they in?



It is destructive and perhaps even irresponsible in addressing this House to say something to the effect that, there are rumours on the street that, now I hope they are not true but I am prepared to propagate them, I am prepared to pass them along.



MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings North on an intervention, a point of order, a question, which is it?



MR. GEORGE ARCHIBALD: I want to congratulate that minister . . .



MADAM SPEAKER: Which are you doing, are you asking a question or what is your intervention.



MR. GEORGE ARCHIBALD: Madam Speaker, on an intervention. I want to thank the minister for indicating his reference to, I hear rumours on the street and then propagating them in the House because if there is anything that this minister could teach people from his time in the Opposition is when he used to stand in this very place and say, I am hearing rumours, is this true? He used to do it day after day. For him to complain about it now is certainly the pot calling the kettle black.



MADAM SPEAKER: I am going to add a minute to your time. I am also going to make an intervention here of my own. If you are making a point of order, state that it is going to be a point of order and I will recognize it. If you are asking permission to ask a question, state it and I will seek the permission of the speaker but if you are just standing up to refute the point of the debate, that is not something that I am going to recognize. I hope all of the members will notice that, I am adding a minute to your time.







MR. BOUDREAU: Madam Speaker, that was a spirited defence of the Opposition. He got up and said, justifying the comment that had just been made by his colleague, the member for Cape Breton West saying, you have been doing it too when you were in Opposition. That was a tremendously spirited and principled defense of what his colleague had said. I am tempted to challenge the honourable member to produce a quote where I have said, I heard a rumour and I am passing it along to the House. I would ask him to apologize if he couldn't produce one but I am not because as we have seen earlier in the day this gets them really upset. So, I don't want to upset this honourable member. But I will tell the Chair that I am confident that the member would be unable to produce such an example. Let me make it clear, I don't want him to apologize, because it will upset him too much.



Let me say, Madam Speaker, we have a very serious difficulty for the new municipality; $15 million is a lot of money. There are no easy solutions to that. Any member from the Opposition, if he gets up and tries to convince people that there is an easy solution for a municipality to find $15 million, they are not credible, they shouldn't be given any credibility at all. It is difficult to find that solution. We could spend our time assigning blame. Perhaps we want to blame Devco, because in the year and one-half leading up to the amalgamation, they withdrew their grants in lieu. Would that make the honourable member for Cape Breton West feel better if we blamed Devco? Perhaps we might pick out one of the municipalities, which one of the eight municipalities do we want to pick out and blame? I don't know whether that is really helpful in this case.



We have an opportunity here, through an enlightened Minister of Municipal Affairs, through a real realistic mayor and council, to deal with a problem and solve it, not for today, not for tomorrow, but into the future. When we solve it and when the municipality solves it, this honourable member for Cape Breton West, and others who may want to intervene in this argument, can be assured of one thing. When they solve it, with our help, they will not solve it on the backs of our children. Thank you very much, Madam Speaker. (Applause)



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



MR. JOHN HOLM: Madam Speaker, the member for Hants East wants me to take time to regroup, and I am wondering from what. I don't know, yet, what he is referring to, but I would like to enter in, in as reasonable a manner as is possible, the debate that is before us. As I do, I have to say that I wasn't totally comforted by the comments that were made by the Minister of Finance, nor have I been comforted by the interventions of the Minister of Municipal Affairs. But, quite honestly, I wasn't comforted, either, when the bill was first being debated in this House, back in May 1994, by the comments made by the Municipal Affairs Critic of the Conservative Party, now the Leader of that Party, because it was in fact the Conservative Party that had been pushing the Liberal Party and congratulating the Liberal Party for moving forward with the piece of legislation that the government passed, which in large part has gotten us into the problems.



Madam Speaker, it was the then Municipal Affairs Critic and Leader, now, who suggested that the savings would be in the range of $13.7 million and that this should be a kind of a model to be followed in other parts of the province.



Madam Speaker, I have gone through the debate of May 30th. I have to say that at that time I did not agree with all of what the then Municipal Affairs Critic of the Conservative Caucus was saying and I certainly was not in agreement with what the Liberal Minister of Municipal Affairs was doing. I do not find any solace or any satisfaction in knowing that many of the concerns are in fact coming true.



Madam Speaker, what we are talking about is not just money. Money, of course, is a very essential element. But we have to take a look at what was and was not done at that time. We also have to take a look at who bears a great deal of the responsibilities for what happened and who is going to pay the ultimate price for the mess ups that have occurred.



Certainly, and I know the minister and her statement when she introduced Bill No. 63, the minister had said how there are tremendous opportunities for public consultation. That in fact did not happen. There were not the opportunities and the presentations of the detailed cost-analysis being presented. The fact that the cost overruns were so great is evidence of the fact that it was not properly managed.



Madam Speaker, in the bill that we passed in this House, now Act - some of us voted against it - under Section 5, it very clearly said what the powers of the minister were. It did not say that a minister had to do something it said the minister may, not shall, but may. It was permissive so the minister could or could not choose to exercise the powers. Some things she did, like in saying that the minister would not accept the kinds of severance packages that were being offered to some employees in Glace Bay, but in other areas, obviously, the minister and the government decided not to get involved. It said at that time, and the Act reads: "The Minister may, by order, provide for anything necessary or incidental to the incorporation and effective government of the Regional Municipality, and may include any orders, directions and conditions that are necessary or desirable in connection therewith.".



The minister had absolute, total, complete power to do basically whatever the minister felt was desirable and advisable. The buck stopped with the Liberal Government.



Madam Speaker, yes indeed the Official Opposition applauded the government's bill during the second reading debate. But where were the citizens in this municipality given the opportunity, for example, through a democratic process, to decide after receiving the clear facts showing what the costs were going to be and what the benefits were going to be, a chance to decide whether they did or did not wish to be part of a municipal unit, that is, one amalgamated municipal unit through a plebescite? That choice was not given to them. The decision was not made to amalgamate these municipalities by the citizens in those communities. The decision to amalgamate was made by the Liberal Government. That is something I think we will all agree on, or at least I hope we will all agree on: they introduced the legislation; they said it was the best thing; they said things were going to be more efficient; they acknowledged that a few jobs would be lost. But, Madam Speaker, assurances were provided that taxes then would not go up, and taxes, in fact it was implied, would go down because there are going to be savings, so they said. Significant savings.



[4:45 p.m.]



Well, what have we seen? I don't know if the Cape Breton Regional Municipality has adopted or accepted at a public meeting the agreement that was put forward, but what choice do they have? They can either accept this and receive a $2 million loan or they can reject it and face a tax rate that is going to be even higher, double at least that tax increase that they are going to have to bear as a result of this amalgamation and this Liberal Government's plans. People were told and, in fact, there is another bill on the order paper that hasn't been called yet, introduced by a member for Cape Breton, that would give the municipal units the ability to set area rates, to collect from the residents in those particular communities the amounts of the debts that those communities brought into the new regional municipality.



I note that that bill has not been called for debate, Madam Speaker. It is quite obvious why, when one looks at this agreement, because Clause 7 of that agreement says that, "The Parties agree . . .", the parties being the province and this new municipal council, ". . . that consideration of debts and deficits and the repayment provisions required with respect thereto on a regional basis, without regard to the areas in which the debt, deficit or other expenditure was originally incurred, will in all likelihood be required in order to meet the overall financial goals of the Municipality and to comply with the terms of this Agreement.".



So, in essence, Madam Speaker, if some municipal units went out and decided to go on a binge and spend a lot of money for their particular area, just before this amalgamation, to bring a much larger debt in, and ended up bringing a much larger debt in, their residents are not going to be the ones who are going to be required to pay for it. Now it is going to be spread all over. So if costs were incurred in one municipality and if, for example, Sydney wasn't going out and spending a lot of money on new capital projects and new debt projects, the residents in Sydney - now according to this agreement - can end up having to pay for it. Decisions that weren't made by the regional council.



Do you know, Madam Speaker, that the coordinator in Cape Breton County has the power and authority to oversee expenditures and to approve those expenditures? That coordinator, appointed by the minister - not by the council, but by the minister - has all powers of the council, just as is the case here in metro. One has to wonder, if another edict is going to be given by this government, so that if one municipality in the metro merger has gone out and entered into huge debts, is everybody going to be paying for those? These were assurances of things that weren't to be happening.



The agreement itself acknowledges, Madam Speaker, that the financial difficulties that are being faced were factors that were beyond the direct control of that municipality; but many of those were not beyond the control of this government and the coordinator. It talks about the accumulated deficit up to March 1995 for the eight municipal units that came in, the accumulated deficit was approximately $3 million, yet the transitional costs of establishing that municipality were almost 50 per cent of that, or equal 50 per cent of that amount because they were $1.5 million. It also says that the implementation costs of that amalgamation are double the transitional costs, $3.1 million. So when you put the two together, the implementation and the transitional, we are up to $4.6 million which was higher than the accumulated deficits up to the end of the last fiscal year for the municipal units.



As a reward for this the municipalities are being told that they have to, in this fiscal year, raise not less than $2.757 million more. What are they paying for? They are paying for part of the implementation costs and the transition costs, a little over half. The added interest costs and so on are going to be added on year to year. When one takes a look at this, the government would have the people in industrial Cape Breton believe that they, the provincial government, have no responsibility for what went on and the consequences, the outcome of their plan.



It is not good enough for this government to stand up, as the Minister of Finance just did, to say that supposedly this is good financial planning, when the men and the women, particularly in this economically hard-pressed area where many people are unemployed, probably double the official rates, when you have many low and fixed income families, many people who are struggling trying to stay in their homes, many small businesses that are struggling to survive and to maintain their employment, again because of the difficult economic times in the area and the fact that many of those living in the area don't have good standards of living or good incomes, they don't have much money to spend.



Now this government for its mistakes and failure to be properly monitoring is saying to those people and those businesses that you have to come up with almost $3 million more this year and much more to come. That is a far cry from what was promised to the people in this area and it certainly isn't going to give any encouragement to people in metro and other parts of this province that the province is trying to encourage into amalgamating. Thank you.



MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable Opposition House Leader.



MR. RONALD RUSSELL: Madam Speaker, will you please call Resolution No. 100.



Res. No. 100, re Transport.: Highway Safety - Address - notice given Apr. 10/95 - (Mr. B. Taylor)



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



MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise this evening and speak relative to Resolution No. 100. The Therefore part of that resolution is essentially this, ". . . be it resolved the Minister of Transportation stop playing political gamesmanship and accusing the Opposition of opposing the Fleur-de-lis Trail and address the real issue of highway safety in Nova Scotia.".



The Progressive Conservatives do support the construction of the Fleur-de-lis Trail. In fact, it may enlighten all members of the House to know that in 1963 John Diefenbaker started the initiative in support of the Fleur-de-lis Trail. The Minister of Transportation may not know this, Madam Speaker, but the coal mines in Glace Bay were closing down, the demand for coal was decreasing. So in 1963 John Diefenbaker suggested that Fortress Louisbourg be built and be enhanced.



Now the Minister of Transportation and Communications has continually sidestepped issues like that, in attempts to say that the former government did not have plans for twinning Highway No. 104. The Minister of Transportation, although I am not permitted to say that the Minister of Transportation is intentionally misleading the House, what I will say, Madam Speaker, is that the Minister of Transportation is intentionally giving this House a bum steer, he is trying to pull the wool over the eyes of members of his own government. He is trying to deceive members in his own government. For that, perhaps the members of his own government should hold him in contempt but I can't tell members of the minister's own government how they should or should not treat the Minister of Transportation.



Other options that do not necessitate tolls relative to twinning the Highway No. 104 western alignment from Masstown, Colchester County, to Thomson Station, Cumberland County, have been articulated and outlined to the Minister of Transportation. There are other options available to the minister. For example, it has been pointed out to the Minister of Transportation that the $85 million freight adjustment package could be used.



Well the Minister of Transportation has other plans for those funds, Madam Speaker. The alternative is supported by the federal Member of Parliament, Dianne Brushett, who represents Cumberland-Colchester. It is also represented by the Coalition for Fairness.



Now it has also been suggested to the Minister of Transportation that the motive fuel tax and Registry of Motor Vehicle receipts which, by the minister's own estimation, will exceed the Department of Transportation's budget by $36 million for this fiscal year, that choice, Madam Speaker, is advocated by the truckers in this province.



The figures that the minister gave me, and I have a copy of them here somewhere (Interruption) He is saying they are wrong. Well, if the figures are wrong, they are the figures that the minister has given us, Madam Speaker. So what we are saying is there are other options available. We are not getting up and saying don't build the road; we are saying build the road but we are also saying don't toll the road.



The minister hasn't been listening and his government hasn't been listening. Of course I know they are extremely busy, I would never say they are not but on different occasions that minister has been invited to attend meetings in the Town of Amherst, in the Town of Truro, he has been asked to sit down with municipal leaders, he has been asked to sit down with truckers, he has been asked to sit down with members of labour, he has been asked and asked and he has turned them down.



Now again, I suggest that the minister is extremely busy and he probably priorizes things a little bit differently than people in Nova Scotia do but the twinning of that highway is very important and people are very concerned.



Now when the Premier was campaigning he said he would review the route selected for the twinning of Highway No. 104. Upon being elected, and we all recall and remember the political posturing there, the Premier and the Minister of Transportation put the project on hold for one week. We all know why they put that project on hold and we won't mention the politician's name who made that request but it was just smoke and mirrors, Madam Speaker.



Again, Madam Speaker, I say to the Minister of Transportation that if he builds this highway and tolls the highway, his government is going to come under an incredible amount of opposition. The minister knows that.



[5:00 p.m.]



On November 15th, just past, the Official Opposition brought a bill to the floor of the Legislature and that bill was essentially to delete tolls on this highway that we are speaking about. Now, most unfortunately and to his word, the Minister of Transportation hardly gave the bill the time of day, in fact, during debate on that bill the Minister of Transportation was so ridiculous, he even suggested that we, in Opposition and the people of Nova Scotia, should be satisfied that he returned the $26 million. Well, I want to tell you, Madam Speaker, that $26 million was returned to its rightful place, so why should we be happy about that? What he did was wrong and that is why he did it. That is why he returned the funds, so I do not think we have to question that at all.



Folks, we have a very serious situation here. On the one hand we have the Minister of Transportation with a mind-set and his mind is set on tolls. I suggested before, it has taken a toll on a lot of people, but we have a minister with a mind-set on tolls on the one hand and on the other hand we have thousands and thousands of people lined against this regressive tax and that is what it is, a toll tax. It is absolutely reprehensible that this minister would toll a highway in this province when, in fact, his government is not spending, in this fiscal year at least, the Registry of Motor Vehicle receipts and the motive fuel tax revenue on our highways. The highway budget is some $36 million less by figures provided by this government. So how in the world in the name of good conscience can the Minister of Transportation come up with a plan to toll the highway. It is absolutely reprehensible.



I do not have a copy of the SHIP agreement before me, but I think it is Section 7.2 of the SHIP agreement that very clearly states that all tenders relative to the Strategic Highway Improvement Program are to be open for the public. What we have here is the Minister of Transportation who refuses to divulge the contents of those tenders and there were three tenders submitted. The Minister of Transportation, without even going to the Management Committee, which has two members, one provincial and one federal, altered the terms of reference of the SHIP agreement and here we have a case where the public cannot see the individual tenders and that is absolutely reprehensible. I cannot understand how the Minister of Transportation could do this.



I do not think it is fair that we should forget and not spend some time in this debate talking about the Fleur-de-lis Trail. The Fleur-de-lis Trail is an extremely worthwhile project, nobody doubts that, nobody would ever speak against building the Fleur-de-lis Trail.



MADAM SPEAKER: Honourable members, it is getting more difficult to listen to this debate. There are a number of conversations going on in this room that might be better to move outside, if you would be so kind, so we could hear the debate without having to shout. Thank You.



MR. TAYLOR: The Minister of Transportation tried to play Cape Breton against the mainland when back on April 6th, the Auditor General confirmed what most of us had known and what I had suggested in early March that the minister, in fact, did wrongfully confiscate the finances from the Strategic Highway Improvement Program. The member for Cape Breton West has told me as recently as this afternoon that when the work that was being carried out on the Fleur-de-lis Trail proceeded and got to the Cape Breton County line all of a sudden the work stopped going into a different constituency. That again, may be just mere coincidence that, in fact, the work on the Fleur-de-lis Trail stopped when it got into another constituency, I do not really think it is a coincidence that it did stop.



In fact, when you have a member of the front benches, a member of the Treasury benches of this government what participates in the diversion of some $26 million, how can you give that member any credibility at all. That is the difficulty that Nova Scotians are having and that difficulty, Madam Speaker, is going to be represented here tomorrow very clearly in the City of Halifax because people are absolutely and unequivocally fed up with the Minister of Transportation and his political patronage efforts.



The constituency of Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley . . .



MADAM SPEAKER: Honourable member, I have been very patient with this debate, but I have to tell you now that I do not accept imputing any bad motives from one member to another. I want you to realize that in the contents of your debate. I would ask you to keep that rule in mind, that we will not impute bad motives to other members in this House and you now have the floor.



MR. TAYLOR: Madam Speaker, I always appreciate and respect your rulings. I am sure imputing motives has never been done before in this House and I do not want to be the first one to impute motives in this House.



MADAM SPEAKER: Honourable member, it is not a question of whether it has or has not. When I am in the Chair, I do not accept it. It is as simple as that.



MR. TAYLOR: Madam Speaker, thank you very much. The Fleur-de-lis Trail, as I was pointing out, is a road that surely should be completed. I do not think there is any question that the value of the tourist trail is important, but it should go also into Cape Breton West. That portion of the highway should have some work done to it too. At the present time the work stopped, mysteriously, at the Cape Breton West line.



We are talking about highways and highway safety. The constituency of Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley has the largest volume of commercial vehicle traffic compared to any of the other 51 constituencies, Madam Speaker, the largest volume of traffic, but not one single red penny has been spent in the name of capital improvement projects.



Now, the minister will tell us, well that decision is made by the district director and the area managers. Madam Speaker, that is just putting up smoke and mirrors again because the district director and the area managers, when you talk to them, they say, well, Mr. Taylor, we have to tell you in the final analysis, it is the Minister of Transportation who signs and approves capital expenditure. So we know that, and we believe what the district directors and the area managers are telling us.



One of the district directors told me, what I had already known, Madam Speaker, and that was that the constituency of Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley has the largest number of unpaved secondary roads in the province. He also went on to say that the constituency of Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley has some 63 communities. They are all taxpayers. It costs them basically the same for a loaf of bread, Madam Speaker, and one-half gallon of milk as any of the other constituencies. So again, when a member of the front benches rips away $26 million, and that is not imputing a motive, Madam Speaker, that is telling it as it is and was confirmed by the Auditor General, how can you give a member of the Treasury bench any credit at all? It is extremely difficult.



Madam Speaker, the member for Hants East is suggesting that we have the most paved roads. That may be true so if we have the most paved roads, surely, they should merit a little bit of repaving from time to time, but in three construction seasons, not a kilometre. Well, I could go on and on, but I do want to tell you that, in conclusion, I think the minister should look because it is so obvious to Nova Scotians what he is doing that it is reprehensible. I urge the Premier to remove him from that portfolio as soon as possible.



MADAM SPEAKER: Order please. Your time is over. Thank you.



The honourable Minister of Transportation.



HON. RICHARD MANN: Madam Speaker, I wonder if the honourable member knows where the Barra Strait Bridge is or the extension to Highway No. 105 or how many times the Conservative Party, that had the government previous, pledged the commitment to start them, not to complete them, but to start those projects. How many times they went (Interruptions)



Madam Speaker, I really do not know where to start because that member has such a, I guess, convoluted sense of direction that you are never really sure what point he is trying to make. He came in today to debate a resolution, but he did not talk about the resolution. He was more or less whining about road work in his own constituency is what I heard for most of it. Yet, every time he goes around the province at a caucus meeting or visiting a community, he writes a letter about the roads in those communities. He wrote me a passionate letter about the roads in Inverness, the South Side Wycocomagh Road. He did not even give me the name of the individual he was representing, but he made reference to the dusty conditions on the road and the fact that the hay in the fields was getting full of dust and the cows were getting skinny. (Laughter) Surely to God, the Minister of Transportation could do something about that. The only thing he failed to mention was that cows were breaking their teeth on the gravel that should have been on the road that was in the fields. One individual did write about that.



Madam Speaker, we are never sure where to start when this individual gets up and goes on, at some length, about what, we are not sure. We see that he has adopted though, in recent times - and it may be a feeling of frustration or desperation - that politics clearly has passed truth on his list of priorities. We heard the Minister of Health refer to the fact that the honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley has stated in this House that there were two neurosurgeons in the province; absolutely incorrect. He came in and made reference on Monday to 34 layoffs in the Department of Transportation; absolutely incorrect. He doesn't check his facts. He merely stands up and says, well, somebody told him that, so that is good enough, and it is very difficult to deal with that.



He brought in a resolution today dealing with highway safety, Madam Speaker, and I would briefly like to talk about highway safety. We have highways in this province that have a very significant amount of traffic on them: Highway No. 104 into our province; Highway No. 101; Highway No. 103; Highway No. 104 in the Mount Thom area; Highway No. 125 between North Sydney and Sydney. We have seen traffic increase over the years to such an extent that, yes, we have had fatalities along these highways. Let me state categorically that each and every fatality is a tragedy; none more or less important than any of the others. They are all tragedies and they are all taken very seriously. We can check from one year to the next to see which highway has had the most number of fatalities, and we do that.



Last year, for example, it may have been Highway No. 104 in the Mount Thom area. The year before, it may have been Highway No. 101, Mount Uniacke to Beaverbank. The year prior to that, it might have been the Folly Lake area. We are attempting, with the limited resources that we have, to address and to twin those highways and make those roads as safe as possible. The honourable member, when he writes to me about roads in his constituency, doesn't talk about highway safety, he talks about - as he just spoke in this House - his share. His share. Ignore highway safety, ignore safety factors and talk about his share. Madam Speaker, no, we will talk about highway safety. We address highway safety and we will continue to do that.



In June 1993, I had the pleasure, I had the honour of becoming the Minister of Transportation in this province. The member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley, in the resolution he wanted to debate today, stated that the number one priority of this minister should be highway safety and he somehow translates that into nothing but road work.



Madam Speaker, I want to revisit very briefly some of the initiatives that the Government of Nova Scotia, under the direction of this Minister of Transportation, has brought to this province. Graduated licensing, 8,500 newly licensed drivers are in the graduated driver license program. (Applause) In every jurisdiction where this has happened across this world, it has resulted in fewer fatalities and fewer accidents, and we will see those results in Nova Scotia as well. The member for Kings North, a former Minister of Transportation, likes to stand up and say that we were going to do that. But let me guess, they ran out of time; they couldn't do it. Fifteen years wasn't enough, they ran out of time.



The previous minister, the member for Kings North, likes to stand up and say that we were going to complete Highway No. 104, the western alignment. But let me guess, they ran out of time; but they also forgot to put the money there for it. We all know that talk is very cheap. No dedicated funds to the Highway No. 104 western alignment between Thomson Station and Masstown; $50 million missing, but they've got the gall to say, we were going to do it. I don't know what they were going to use to build it, but they were going to do it.



We brought in a first-time offenders program, a rehabilitation program, Mr. Speaker, where drivers convicted of impaired driving now must undergo an education rehabilitation program prior to having their driver's license reinstated. Will it work? Well, we will have to wait until the results are in and the statistics are in but if it helps one person, if it helps one driver refrain from driving while drinking then yes, it has worked. We will continue to take those steps forward.



[5:15 p.m.]



Immediate roadside suspension. If a driver is stopped by a police officer and is over the limit allowed on the breathalyzer or if they refuse the breathalyzer they lose their driving privileges until they go to court and the matter is resolved. It is subject to appeal, it is subject to a review. As of October, 900 people had their driving privileges removed pending a court case; 30, roughly 3 per cent of the 900 people appealed. Of those 30 that appealed, two had it overturned. One has to assume then that 898 people were prevented from drinking and driving further, pending a court case. I am very proud of those figures and will continue to work toward those types of initiatives.



The department has gone out and put renewed emphasis on advertisements for things like black ice, for notifying the public through advertising campaigns and advising members of this House about phone numbers of people, establishing 1-800 lines where dangerous conditions can be reported or road reports can be immediately received by an individual before setting out on the road. This is all done in an effort to make the highways of Nova Scotia safer.



The member, in his resolution again makes reference and I am going to address this today, to the Member of Parliament from Cumberland-Colchester and how incensed she is with the actions of the Minister of Transportation and Communications. I would suggest to the members of this House that that MP, not unlike the member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley, picks pieces from a puzzle and uses just the pieces for their own political advantage and is not interested in the entire facts of the situation. That is clearly what has happened in this instance.



I have stood back for six months and I have listened while the member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley has called me a thief, has said that I have been involved in illegal activity. I suspect that my privileges as a member of this House have certainly been infringed upon. I haven't challenged that, not yet. Last week the federal Auditor General spoke up and said there was no criminal activity, there was nothing done that a minister did not have the authority to do. Did that member have the gall or the guts, did he have the courage or the honour to apologize? No. Do you know what he said? He said, I liked the report of the provincial Auditor General better. Well, there is honour and integrity now isn't it. We have waited six months; Mr. Dingwall and I have been called thieves involved in illegal activity. Well, I have not been involved in illegal activity and I am not a thief and I resent the remarks made by another member of this House of Assembly. (Applause)



I take no issue with people who disagree with me. We are going to have disagreements, especially in the forum we are in, especially in this House of Assembly but I caution all members that when the disagreements we have result in personal attacks on the character of members of this House, then we are all going to wear that. We have seen activities in this House of Assembly that have been criminal activities and we all wear that to this day, we all suffer from activities that have taken place in this House. As we are accusing one another of things that are not true, we will all wear it, make no mistake about it. Some members are challenged to enter debate on specific issues in a quality way and so they resort to rhetorical attacks and character assassinations of members of this House, that is what they choose to do instead. They attack the character.



On the Highway No. 104 issue, that is how it began, an attack on the characters. Then it turned from there to an attack on the law firm that was representing the Department of Transportation. Now it has gone from there to an attack on the consortium chosen to construct the highway, to negotiate.



As an aside, I would say I remember very vividly back, I think, when it was the Nova Scotia Power Corporation debate that was on here. McInnes Cooper & Robertson had been retained by the Province of Nova Scotia to represent the government in the negotiations on the privatization of the Power Corporation. I believe it was the NDP, at that time, who said, there they go, their friends, a group of south end Conservative lawyers got the job. I do not know the names tossed around, Joe Macdonald, George Cooper, some of those. Then this time, McInnes Cooper & Robertson, same law firm, engaged to represent the Province of Nova Scotia in the Highway No. 104 negotiations. This time it was McInnes Cooper & Robertson, a bunch of south end Liberal lawyers. Larry Hayes. You know what I did, just for fun? I got a piece of McInnes Cooper & Robertson letterhead and I looked at all the lawyers that were involved. You know, there is at least one of them that is the same name that shows up on the contribution list to the New Democratic Party of Nova Scotia. So, I do not know the explanation, maybe there are McInnes Cooper & Robertson south end NDP lawyers. (Laughter)



Is it not amazing the rhetoric that gets involved in side issues when you do not have the capacity to debate the real issue in a credible way? You go after the rhetoric, you attack the character and then all the peripheral issues. That is what happened in this case.



The Tories stand up today, they support the Fleur-de-lis Trail. I have some quotes from Hansard last year that I am going to read that will clearly demonstrate that talk is cheap. Talk is very cheap because the Tory Party in Nova Scotia does not support the Fleur-de-lis Trail. It has been made clear by the comments they have made and now at the eleventh hour, mea culpa. The member would have us go to work in another constituency, a part of the Fleur-de-lis Trail, without environmental approvals, in the national park. Why not start there? I leave that to everyone's own judgment. If you do not have approvals, you do not go forward in environmental matters.



The member talks about the transition fund, he talks about the MP from Cumberland-Colchester and the MP saying that she is going to oppose this and she wants the transitional funding used. On October 3rd, the federal Minister of Transport, Honourable Doug Young, wrote to that MP and told her that road work in the Province of Nova Scotia would be decided by the Province of Nova Scotia and that they would make the decision. He told her that on October 3rd. She is going to represent her constituents and say that it should go on Highway No. 104 western alignment. I waited, with bated breath, to hear the representation from that MP. I have not received any. Diane Brushett has not written to me or contacted me with a suggestion on anything about the transition funds. Doug Young told her on October 3rd what was going to happen. Now she is out suggesting to her constituents that she is going to represent this. Well, I do not know.



I want to read a quote from this letter and I will table this letter when I am done here. This is in reference to toll roads, the first toll road on the Trans Canada Highway. "With regard to toll roads, each province is responsible for maintaining, upgrading, rehabilitating and operating the provincial portions of the Trans-Canada Highway, including ongoing financing. As such, the provinces can legally impose tolls on their portions of the Trans-Canada Highway without consulting the federal government.". We did, though, we tabled a letter here last year that clearly gave us permission. "Canadian toll roads and bridges include the Coquihalla Highway in British Columbia, the Halifax/Dartmouth bridges and the Saint John harbour bridge. The Fixed Link and Highway 407 near Toronto will also be toll facilities, and the Canso Causeway in Nova Scotia, which is part of the Trans-Canada Highway, was a toll highway from 1955 to 1991.". We know what happened then.



Madam Speaker, talk is cheap and the proof of the pudding is in the eating. The only comments the member for Cape Breton West has publicly made on the Fleur-de-lis Trail were in a letter to former Premier Donald Cameron. He did not talk about safety, he did not talk about economic development, he talked about politics. He said, Mr. Cameron, if you will get to work on the Fleur-de-lis you can cut the political legs out from under Vince MacLean. That is the type of representation that was made. Cape Bretoners know that talk is cheap.



Last week, the member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley stood in his place in this House and condemned the Minister of Transportation for doing too much work in Cape Breton. All of a sudden today, he is supportive. (Applause)



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



MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to enter the debate and to follow the Minister of Transportation who, I guess because of what he was saying, was not using any rhetoric and certainly was not involved in any personal attacks or character attacks on any members of this House. So I am pleased, in the spirit of that openness and collegiality to enter the debate.



Mr. Speaker, I want to say at the outset, even though I started off with a little bit of jest at the minister in my comments, obviously, I had my tongue in cheek, I agree with a good many parts of what the minister has said. First of all, what we all have to be primarily concerned with is public safety. I have no hesitation whatsoever in saying that it is about time that partisan politics get out of deciding which roads, which sidewalks, which essential projects get approved in any particular year.



Mr. Speaker, I am not just saying that now, I have said that for years. Our Party has been of that view. It is not a matter just of getting your share in your constituency, although, I will tell you, that I have had to, over the years, fight quite hard to get what I thought was a very fair share for my constituency; share, not because it is going to please the aesthetics, but on matters that are aimed at improving public safety, transport of children and the ability for children to be able to walk safely to and from school and so on. In that regard, yes, you do fight for your share. The primary consideration should not be where or what is the colour of the politics of the person representing that riding and which is going to get the red or the blue check mark. We have seen a lot of that.



Quite honestly, I think that some members in the minister's own department know of some of the battles that I have had over the years with the former government, in particular, with one minister who is no longer a member of this House, Mr. Speaker, to try to get work done in my riding that was essential for public safety reasons.



So, Mr. Speaker, having said that, I was quite honestly pleased that the minister finally did table, in this House, the Transportation and Communications repaving priority process and that the minister listed all of the different kinds of factors and so on that are dealing with repaving projects. This does not go far enough, with the greatest amount of respect. Yes indeed they should be removed from the political process and the minister and government is going to have to decide how many dollars are going to be available for needed transportation work, but what we have to have is a matrix system that will be able to be used to determine which projects are going to go ahead in any given year with waiting systems with the strongest emphasis, of course, being on public safety.



Mr. Speaker, once that is done. It is something that no indeed, it is not going to be perfect. There can be problems with a system that is devised and it may have to have revisions and so on made, but it is necessary to ensure that the process that is being followed is not a political process. I would go even a step farther than that and I would say to the minister, who I hope is listening, that I think that once that matrix system that was promised is developed that the department should be analyzing projects across the province and putting forward a priority list and saying this is the order in which we hope to accomplish or do these particular projects. If that list is varied from - and that should be a public list - then there would be a written statement of explanation to explain what has happened to change that priority list.



[5:30 p.m.]



I am not picking up on the comments of the honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley, because quite honestly, a former minister from that area, I used to think, paved everything that didn't move. At least in the part around my community when it was part of Bedford-Musquodoboit and built sidewalks, Mr. Speaker. I am not saying they weren't needed, but I can tell you when I was being told there is no money for sidewalks in areas where it was crucial for safety in my community of Sackville, amazingly there was money for some other areas that, I think, based on an objective criteria, would have shown that one maybe was a little bit more deserving than another. That's when you had to become creative and use other tactics like freedom of information requests and exposure through the media and so on to try to exact fairness.



But, Mr. Speaker, one of the greatest legacies that this government could leave, if, in fact, it was prepared to do it, is to put in place a matrix system so that projects can be fairly and properly analyzed and weighted according to measures with points and that list then publicized. The minister's seatmate, although he doesn't always release it, that is done, for example, with the development or the building of new schools. New school construction and major school capital projects go through a waiting system. There is no guarantee that when you are on that list, if you are number 5 or number 10, that that project will actually proceed this year or next year. There is no guarantee. But, if it doesn't there is supposed to be an explanation as to why not.









I believe that the people around this province are very fair. People in Nova Scotia don't expect that the pockets of money, the buckets of money are endless. They want assurance that there is a fair way of choosing which projects will proceed and that that process will be followed and that the old style pork barrel, partisan politics will be removed.



So I say to the minister - and I could use Highway No. 104 as an example - it is interesting but the section of highway which has the greatest safety risk, which has had the most fatalities and accidents was the last part to be done. So I have to ask, were the decisions not to build that portion before, based in part on politics if safety is, in fact, the number one concern?



The current Premier back before the last election spelled out quite clearly in response to questions Leaders are often asked and you get the three columns. I am sure you will remember, in the newspapers where the different Leaders were asked their views on different topics. One of them, under the provincial road system, the Premier said: considerable discussion has surrounded the practice of patronage and the awarding of work contracts for different constituencies; over 72 per cent of the tenders for secondary road surface, maintenance work which actually improves the road surface, were awarded to government ridings in 1992.



Now that was the former government that he was talking about. That wasn't acceptable to Nova Scotians, that kind of a practice. I would suggest that it is not acceptable to Nova Scotians today. If the top priority for safety reasons is in a Liberal-held riding, there is absolutely no question, that is where the first dollar should be spent. We have to have a system in place which will be able to identify those and not only identify them but ensure that there is an accountability process in place.



I have only four minutes left, so I want to touch then briefly on a few other things that have been said, particularly, by the Minister of Transportation and Communications. The Minister of Transportation, of course, in his response would imply or try to convey the message that the federal Auditor General in reviewing the Highway No. 104 said that everything was hunky-dory, everything was wonderful, when in reality, all the federal Auditor General did was say that there was nothing illegal done, that yes, in fact, the ministers did have the legal authority to do what they did but he also pointed out that quite clearly the diversion of those funds was not the ordinary practice and that the normal process of evaluations and studies had not been done.



HON. RICHARD MANN: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. Not to be provocative in any way and I guess it is partly a point of order and partly a question. Would the member not acknowledge that he also has in his possession a cover letter to what the Auditor General said, that he was not commenting on the propriety of actions by the provincial minister but rather by the federal officials? Would he admit that?



MR. HOLM: Mr. Speaker, in fairness to the minister, yes he was commenting on the propriety of the federal and not the provincial and that is absolutely correct. That is a very fair question to ask for clarification and to make sure that I am not leaving a false impression.



Also dealing with Highway No. 104, however, some of the areas that I have difficulty with and back when the government announced that they were going to be proceeding with that project and one of the first decisions made and the press release or statement that came out from the Premier, indicated that they could not reconsider or look at a different route because that would lead to a delay of up to three years to do the environmental assessments and to do the analysis and so on that would be needed.



It is interesting that that statement was given in 1993 and I believe it was probably sometime in June. We are close to those three years and I haven't seen the construction process start. So since the time the Premier made that statement, obviously, there has been time to do the evaluations.



Secondly, in terms of the cost and we are being told that by doing this as a private process that this is going to be saving a lot of money. In reality, what it is going to do, it is going to be shifting from the books of the Province of Nova Scotia and hiding the actual cost on the books of the private consortium that is going to build and operate that. It is not going to save any money and it is still going to be the taxpayers who are going to be paying for it, except at a higher rate.



We had resolutions from the member for Hants East congratulating the government on its good fiscal management today. Well, what is good fiscal management, turning around and having a private company build this road to make a huge profit without having to invest one red cent in that project of their own money and where they are going to have to be borrowing that money at a higher rate of interest than the Province of Nova Scotia.



So now, not only are Nova Scotians going to have to pay - through the proposed tolls that the government is going to put on and the monies going in - for a higher final end cost to pay for the profits, plus they are going to have to pay for the higher interest costs that that company is going to be passing on, it is ridiculous. Nor have the environmental assessments been done, nor have the safety concerns about the fact that the new road and the new route is 250 feet higher than the existing road, it is closer to the Bay of Fundy and the weather conditions are worse.



There are many other issues that have not been addressed, but I sincerely hope as I wrap up, on a slightly more confrontational note than I started, that my comments with respect to the development of the matrix system and putting in place a system that will ensure that we do not have partisan patronage types of decisions being made in the future, I hope such a system is put in place so that it cannot happen under this government or any government in the future.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Opposition House Leader.



MR. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, if I may, I will address all House Orders to the Government House Leader and see what happens. Would you please call House Order No. 33 and on behalf of the honourable member for Halifax Citadel, I so move.



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



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.



HON. RICHARD MANN: We would agree to this on condition that portions of the tender that should be protected with respect to the privacy Act will be.



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



With that restriction, the motion is carried.



The honourable Opposition House Leader.



MR. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, would you please call House Order No. 41 and on behalf of the honourable member for Halifax Citadel, I so move.



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



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.



HON. RICHARD MANN: Similar to the response to the previous one, we would agree to release.



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



The motion is carried with that restriction.



The honourable Opposition House Leader.



MR. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, would you please call House Order No. 46 and on behalf of the honourable member for Cape Breton West, I so move.



H.O. No. 46, re Commun. Serv. - Children: Benefits - Recipients List - notice given Nov. 14/95 - (Mr. A. MacLeod)



[The House Order was read by the Clerk.]



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Opposition House Leader.



MR. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, we had asked that that be withdrawn at the last Opposition Day because of the fact that it is asking for the names of recipients, it should not be on the order paper.



MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed that the matter be withdrawn?



It is agreed.



House Order No. 46 is withdrawn.



The honourable Opposition House Leader.



MR. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, would you please call House Order No. 48 and on behalf of the honourable member for Kings North, I so move.



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



[The House Order was read by the Clerk.]



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Agriculture and Marketing.



HON. WAYNE GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, we agree to provide the information to the honourable member.



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



The motion is carried.



The honourable Opposition House Leader.



MR. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, would you please call House Order No. 49.



H.O. No. 49, re EMO: Municipal Organizations - List/Structures - notice given Nov.16/95 - (Mr. D. McInnes)



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou West.



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



[The House Order was read by the Clerk.]



MR. SPEAKER: The Minister responsible for the Emergency Measures Act.



HON. WAYNE ADAMS: Mr. Speaker, I understand the question to be that of the list of organizations that could be fire departments or EMO or those involved with 911 only, or the whole kit and caboodle.



[5:45 p.m.]



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou West.



MR. DONALD MCINNES: I think we will just look for a reasonable list of people, we do not want a major list, but provide us the information you can and we will be happy.



MR. ADAMS: I will comply with the order and then we can probably correct it if it is not enough.



MR. SPEAKER: With that understanding in place, would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.



The motion is carried to that extent.



The honourable Opposition House Leader.



MR. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, would you please call House Order No. 54 and I so move on behalf of the honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.



H.O. No. 54, re Nat. Res./ERA: Travel (Offshore Conference [Scotland]) - Costs - notice given Nov. 23/95 - (Mr. B. Taylor)



[The House Order was read by the Clerk.]



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Natural Resources.



HON. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, in regard to the memorandum of understanding, I believe that has been a public document for some time. I would be more than happy to disclose that. In regard to the expenses from another minister, I think, we should stand that request until the Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency is back. As far as I am aware, ministerial expenses regarding to travel are public knowledge, are public documents that we present on a fairly regular basis, so we have nothing to hide in regard to that. In regard to the request of the Department of the Economic Renewal Agency, I would ask that we stand this until he responds back. I will be happy to undertake getting the copy of the memorandum of understanding that the member requested.



MR. SPEAKER: With that understanding, I guess we have half of it offered and the other half of it stood.



With the understanding that the House Order shall stand for the remaining matter, is that agreed by the House?



It is agreed.



The honourable Opposition House Leader.



MR. RONALD RUSSELL: Would you please call House Order No. 55 and I so move on behalf of the Leader of the Opposition. I am not too sure though if anyone can answer that one.

MR. SPEAKER: House Order No. 55 has been moved by the member for Hants West for the Opposition Leader. The Government House Leader, how would like he like to deal with that?



HON. RICHARD MANN: Perhaps we could have that one read and we will make a determination at that time.



H.O. No. 55, re ERA: Commun. Business Loan Prog. - Jobs - notice given Nov. 23/95 - (Dr. J. Hamm)



[The House Order was read by the Clerk.]



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.



HON. RICHARD MANN: I think some of that information obviously involves the release of third party information and I am certainly not going to authorize that in the absence of the minister. I would ask that it be stood.



MR. SPEAKER: Shall the order stand?



House Order No. 55 stands.



The honourable Opposition House Leader.



MR. RONALD RUSSELL: Would you please call House Order No. 61.



H.O. No. 61, re Housing: Loan/Grant Progs. - List (1993-95) - notice given Nov. 27/95 - (Mr. J. Holm)



[The House Order was read by the Clerk.]



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



MR. JOHN HOLM: I so move, Mr. Speaker.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Housing.



HON. ELEANOR NORRIE: Agreed.



MR. SPEAKER: It has been agreed. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.



The motion is carried.



The honourable Opposition House Leader.



MR. RONALD RUSSELL: Would you please call House Order No. 63.



H.O. No. 63, re Health: Sex Education - Enhancement - notice given Nov. 27/95 - (Mr. R. Chisholm)



[The House Order was read by the Clerk.]



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.



MR. JOHN HOLM: I so move, Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Health.



HON. RONALD STEWART: Yes, this concerns sex education. It is somewhat specific, however, and it asks for time and time elements and so on. I am not sure whether that might mean the time of people employed in our program or the time taken to undertake a curriculum in school or whatever, but I would certainly endeavour to provide the activities and the changes that have occurred in the last several years in terms of our programs. That would be quite interesting, I think, to see.



MR. SPEAKER: To that extent, would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.



The motion is carried to that extent.



The honourable Opposition House Leader.



MR. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, would you please call House Order No. 65.



H.O. No. 65, re Lbr. - Lbr.-Mgt. Relations: Leaders - Recognition Prog. (1993-95) - notice given Nov. 27/95 - (Mr. R. Chisholm)



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



MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I so move.



MR. SPEAKER: Would you like the House Order read?



HON. GUY BROWN: No. Agreed.



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



The motion is carried.



The honourable Opposition House Leader.



MR. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, would you please call House Order No. 66.



H.O. No. 66, re Commun. Serv. - Children & Family Serv.: Arrears - Mun. Reimbursement (1993-95) - notice given Nov. 27/95 - (Mr. R. Chisholm)



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



MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I so move.



[The House Order was read by the Clerk.]



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Community Services.



HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I think it is referring to child apprehension costs relative to the municipal units. There have been no payments. We have no intention of paying retroactively as that may indicate. We have, though, under the Municipal-Provincial Service Exchange, as of now, been paying 100 per cent of the costs. But I can put something together and make an answer that may not include figures.



MR. SPEAKER: With that reservation, would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.



The motion is carried.



The honourable Opposition House Leader.



MR. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, would you please call House Order. No. 64.



H.O. No. 64, re Sports: Loan/Grant Prog. (1993-95) - List - notice given Nov. 27/95 - (Mr. R. Chisholm)



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



MR. JOHN HOLM: I so move.



[The House Order was read by the Clerk.]



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister responsible for the Nova Scotia Sport and Recreation Commission.



HON. JAY ABBASS: Also known as the Minister of Human Resources. Mr. Speaker, I suspect that that is information that is readily available and we will provide it. Thank you.



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



The motion is carried.



The honourable Opposition House Leader.



MR. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, that completes the Opposition business for the day.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.



HON. RICHARD MANN: Mr. Speaker, tomorrow we will sit from the hours of 12:00 noon until 8:00 p.m. and following Question Period the order of business will be Public Bills for Second Reading, at least commencing with Bill No. 47.



I move we adjourn until 12:00 noon tomorrow.



MR. SPEAKER: The motion is to adjourn to 12:00 noon tomorrow.



The motion is carried.



MADAM SPEAKER: We have reached the moment of interruption and it is now before us that the late show debate will commence and the debate was offered by the honourable member for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour who wishes to debate the matter:



Therefore be it resolved that the members of this Assembly extend congratulations to this government for its creative use of advancing technologies, not only to increase efficiencies in the delivery of government programs and services, but to enhance the overall quality of life for every Nova Scotian.



ADJOURNMENT



MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5)



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour.



ERA - ADV. TECHNOLOGIES: CREATIVE USE - CONGRATS.



MR. ALAN MITCHELL: Madam Speaker, I am very pleased to rise today and speak on this resolution which has been put forward. Today we live in a time of tremendous change. One of the greatest indicators of change is the advance of new technologies and nowhere is this more evident than in the advance of information technology.



Everyone has heard of the information highway and the Internet. I would like to say a few words about the Internet just to give you a feel for this technology, its importance and rapid growth. The Internet is the largest computer or electronic network in the world. It is really a global network of networks. Some sources estimate that the Internet currently interconnects over 11,000 different computer networks in over 100 countries. It is believed that over 1.7 million hosts take part in the Internet and provides service for between 15 million and 25 million users worldwide. These figures are already way out of date as I have read that Internet usage is growing by 25 to 35 per cent per month. I read also that if you have been on the Internet for over two years, then you have been using the Internet more than 95 per cent of current users. That is how rapid the growth is.



With this technology, you can electronically transfer letters, called E-mail, documents, pictures, sound, video and computer programs almost instantaneously anywhere in the world. You can send a message to Sydney, Australia, as easily, quickly and cheaply as you can send a message to Sydney, Nova Scotia. It is interesting to note that Nova Scotians are among the heaviest users of and suppliers of information on the Internet.



This new technology has very important implications to the Province of Nova Scotia. It is important if we in Nova Scotia are to remain competitive. It is also important that government recognize the importance of this new technology and that government makes sure that it makes use of this technology to deliver government services and information in a more timely and better manner. This is what I would like to talk about tonight.



I believe that our government should be congratulated for its efforts in using this new technology. In support of this I would like to review some of the current initiatives which are currently under way.



One is the Department of Education Wide Area Network and Ncompass. Perhaps before I go too much further I would just like to define a couple of terms. When you have a computer network in a business or a school or a government department, it is referred to as a local area network, as all these computers are linked together and all can communicate with one another. But they cannot communicate, ordinarily, with computers outside that local area network. If you have a wide area network, then all of these computers are linked together and they can communicate with one another.



The Internet is a wide area network which spans the world, so if you are linked into that, you can commute with other computers anywhere in the world. Also, you can have wired and wireless. If it is wired, then information travels over a line like a telephone line or a fibre optic cable; if it is wireless, then it travels, as one would expect, through the air.



The first, as I mentioned, was the Department of Education. This communications network, which provides Internet access and tools to libraries, community colleges and schools throughout the province, was launched last fall. The network will provide connection to over 400 sites throughout the province. By sites, I mean the schools or the libraries, so there may be a number of computers in a particular school and they will all be able to access information through this network in different parts of the province, wherever they may be connected.



With uses, they can, as I mentioned, connect to the Internet, they can also use E-mail and transfer files and information between them allowing students to talk to students in different schools. Just as an example using this network of one particular service that the Department of Education is able to supply, the department provides a software evaluation report to schools, and has done this for some time, in which it looks at all the different software programs available for education, prepares a very detailed analysis. Formerly this was mailed to all schools, one copy went to each school. Any teacher or official who wanted to make use of it had to find that and search through a long report in order to get the information they wanted. This was done once a year.



Now this information is available on-line through this particular network. That means that anybody, any teacher or student or anybody in the education system who has access to the network can find this at any time they want. The particular list is maintained and updated continuously. In addition to that they can search it so they can find exactly the program they are interested in and they can read the assessment. So just one example, Madam Speaker, of how this particular network is improving service to Nova Scotians.



[6:00 p.m.]



Another one is the Department of Transportation and Communications wide area network. Again this is a network which is province wide and it links the different offices of the Department of Transportation. This was originally established through a memorandum of understanding between the province and Maritime Tel & Tel. It was designed to support the department's move to the issuance of photo license IDs. With the photo IDs the department had a greater need to send and receive broadband data, like photographs, between district and regional Registry of Motor Vehicle offices. To meet this need, this particular network was established. It was originally set up for eight locations and it is now extended and expanded to 20 different sites.



Another example, Madam Speaker, is the Registry of Motor Vehicles' electronic service delivery pilot which is delivered through the 10 service kiosks which are presently in the metropolitan area. These are established as a pilot project to see how this would work. They are presently under study. It is using these service kiosks. There is an integrated voice response system giving the Registry of Motor Vehicle customers more choices in the way they access government services. The kiosks use sophisticated multi-media and graphics to make it easy for a person to register a car, order duplicate documents or vanity plates. Most customers can learn how to use the kiosk and complete a transaction in less than two minutes.



Madam Speaker, it is very easy. You have a screen and by touching the screen you can go from menu to menu, you can receive sound and video, you can receive a number of different types of information on government services. If you wish you can press, Print and it will print out a written copy for you to take home. It also allows you to go through and source tourist information from areas of other parts of the province. I was very interested to learn, Madam Speaker, that since these have been put in place earlier this year, over 600 Nova Scotians have used this particular vehicle to register their cars and over 60,000 people have used these kiosks to seek tourist information on Nova Scotia.



Another example is Atlantic Canada On-Line. This network is a cooperative project with the other Atlantic Provinces to provide on-line access to a wide range of government information. The project will serve information consumers like lawyers, real estate agents and researchers. The four provinces are now in negotiation with a group of vendors to supply this service.



Maintenance enforcement network. Again, Madam Speaker, another network which has been established last month. The Department of Justice networked maintenance enforcement offices from Yarmouth to Sydney to support the maintenance enforcement initiative. The system will allow family court workers to more efficiently manage case loads and communicate between offices. The bottom line is, the system will support more effective tracking and enforcement of child support and family maintenance orders.



Madam Speaker, I could go on, I am afraid for quite a bit longer. I wanted to talk about telemedicine which I think is one of the more interesting ones. This will allow communications between remote rural areas and specialists in an area like Halifax. One of the interesting things is you will be able to transmit an x-ray from a rural site to a specialist in a central site and the x-ray will appear on their screen in the same way as it would be if they put it on the screen coming right out of the room where it is being developed. The specialist can look at it and you can have teleconferencing between the rural site and the specialist and it will save time. It will provide a better service. It will allow the patient to stay there without having to travel long distances.



Madam Speaker, just to wind up, there are a couple of other things. E-mail which is, I think, one of the very important services which is changing the way the government is working. The other thing which the government is in the process of doing is developing the integrated wide area network which will provide the information highway, the four lane highway, which will allow all of these services to be supplied and connect all Nova Scotians to this new technology. Thank you very much.



MADAM SPEAKER: Are there further speakers in this debate? Is there unanimous support for the honourable member to occupy a few more minutes in this debate.



Yes. I recognize the honourable member for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour.



MR. ALAN MITCHELL: I thank the members of the House for the privilege accorded to me. As I was saying, I was talking about some of the benefits that this new technology will allow us. I was talking about telemedicine and the things that this would allow us.



I would like to speak a little about group E-mail. E-mail is just like sending a letter over a computer network. At your computer you can type the letter and you can press send and you can send it anywhere in the world. A small E-mail project or a pilot was developed about two years ago within government and this is very rapidly turning out to be one of the most important vehicles for government. It is now serving nearly 3,000 users and connects many government offices with networked mail, scheduling, administrative support and project management services and has revolutionized the way that many public servants work.



The interesting thing about that, by what I mean by revolutionized, it means that you can have somebody in Sydney or somebody in Yarmouth and somebody in Halifax and somebody in Middleton and all of these workers are the same as if they are working in the same office. At their computer they can send a message and it is instantaneously received by one or all and you can transit documents and computer programs and so it is the same as having them altogether.



Just to give you an example of what is coming in this area. Presently, I have a laptop computer in which I have a wireless LAN card, a local area network card, and we now the local area groupwise E-mail system installed in the House here, so I can sit at my desk with no wires and I can access the government E-mail system. If my assistant, who is in my office in Dartmouth, receives a call from a constituent that needs some action done, she can send me an E-mail message and my computer will beep and I will know that the message has arrived. I could pull it up, I could read it, I could then send a message to our caucus office asking for some more information, I could send an E-mail message to someone in the Department of Transportation or some other government official, I could arrange for a meeting and I could E-mail back my assistant with instructions all without leaving my desk. This is a very important tool for government and it is a very important tool for all Nova Scotians because this also has a gateway into the Internet, so that means anybody who has an Internet address can contact me and I can contact them through this system.



Just to finish up, all of these initiatives are very important and they are very impressive and all of them are extending services more directly to Nova Scotians allowing greater access to government information and services. They provide for greater communications between Nova Scotians and between Nova Scotians and their government. They enable government to develop a better service faster and in a more cost-effective manner.



One thing is still required and that is an intergrated wide area network that can link together all other computer networks in the province. We need a network that will allow to extend these services to all Nova Scotians, no matter where they live. In other words, we need the information highway over which these services and electronic communications will travel.



If I can draw a comparison, I would say that at this time, it is like we are 50 years ago, the information is travelling over a network like unpaved winding country roads. What we need is a four lane expressway to carry these services and to carry this information so that we can guarantee that all Nova Scotians have access to them and we can do it quickly and efficiently.



I am very pleased to report that our government is doing that. We are currently in the process of developing an intergrated wide area network. A call for proposals was issued and we have now selected a group to negotiate with and negotiations are now going on with MT&T group which includes MT&T Mobility, IBM, SHL Systemhouse, and Deloitte & Touche. This will create a business alliance for the provision of all telecommunication services used by the government.



The project will focus on the creation of wired and wireless communication infrastructure. The objective is for government to provide the critical momentum for private sector companies to build a robust communications infrastructure. This will include an enhanced wireless communications network, a new Nova Scotia integrated mobile radio system that will service government departments, RCMP, municipal police and fire, emergency measures, search and rescue, federal government agencies and several provincial departments. So this will be a major wireless network. The other will be the wired network. These two will be integrated and all the services that I mentioned can be delivered over them.



It is important to note, Madam Speaker, that this will be developed by the private sector, financed and built by the private sector. Government will be one of the major users. It is because government is prepared to use this network to deliver our services. This is what will make it possible. But when the network is there, it will also be available for universities and businesses and other people to buy time on that network and make use of it.



Madam Speaker, when this integrated wide area network is finished, it will rank among the best in the world and it will put us in the forefront on the so-called information highway. What it will mean is that Nova Scotians will be able to be competitive with anybody else in the world in this area. It will mean that the Government of Nova Scotia can supply services to the people of Nova Scotia in a timely way, that they will have superior access and it will allow government to supply these services in a cost-efficient manner.



So, Madam Speaker, I am very excited about the developments in this area and I think that our government should be commended for the efforts it has made to keep pace with the technology and to make use of advancing technologies that we have. Thank you very much.



MADAM SPEAKER: Thank you, honourable member. I would comment here that your excitement and your enthusiasm are certainly in abundance tonight. That is one of the finest speeches I have heard you make in this House on technology and I want to thank you for it.



The House stands adjourned until tomorrow at 12:00 noon.



[The House rose at 6:12 p.m.]



NOTICE OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3)



RESOLUTION NO. 735



By: Mr. Robert Chisholm (Halifax Atlantic)



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



Whereas the Yarmouth Health Care Coalition is holding a rally tomorrow, November 30th, to demonstrate support for Canada's Medicare, UI and social services; and



Whereas Nova Scotians have waited in vain to hear their provincial government stand up for effective national standards in Medicare, social services and unemployment insurance; and



Whereas only 2 per cent of all Nova Scotians are fully satisfied with a government that sits silently while the forces of greed try to dismantle Canadians' heritage rather than see it renewed;



Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulates the Yarmouth Health Care Coalition for giving residents an opportunity to demonstrate their support for Medicare, UI and social services, and their desire for a policy of true reform rather than destruction.