Assemblée Législative de la Nouvelle-Écosse

Les travaux de la Chambre ont repris le
21 septembre 2017

















HALIFAX, TUESDAY, DECEMBER 5, 1995



Fifty-sixth General Assembly



Third Session



12:00 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. Are there any introductions of guests? If not, we will advance directly to the daily routine.



PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.



MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I have a petition here, signed by 65 employees of the Victoria General Hospital to which I have affixed my signature. The petition reads as follows, "We the undersigned want to protect our Civil Service rights and benefits. Bill 47 does not preserve the rights such as pay equity, collective bargaining, early retirement and seniority, etc. We have worked many years for these benefits, and want them to stay the way they are!". On behalf of these individuals, I would like to table this petition.



MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.



The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.



MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I also have a group of letters in the form of a petition, much similar to ones I had tabled last week from employees at the Victoria General Hospital who have indicated, ". . . that it is necessary to urge the government to make the necessary amendments to include the Victoria General Transition Agreement of May 1992 in order to preserve all our rights and benefits as future employees of the QE II Corporation.".



Mr. Speaker, what I have done is, there are five such letters, I have affixed my name to the top one and I would submit them as a group.



MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.



3907

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Justice.



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



Bill No. 39 - Education Act.



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



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



TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Health.



HON. RONALD STEWART: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a summary of the work of the Psychiatric Facilities Review Board for the year ended March 1995.



MR. SPEAKER: The report is tabled.



STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS



GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Natural Resources.



RESOLUTION NO. 767



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



Whereas the province has again provided a Christmas tree for the City of Boston in appreciation for its assistance during the Halifax Explosion of 1917; and



Whereas this gesture helps promote both our province and the Nova Scotia Christmas tree industry; and



Whereas the Christmas Tree Council of Nova Scotia has provided six top quality Christmas trees for use at the Canadian Embassy in Washington, D.C.; and



Whereas the council has provided the trees on behalf of all Christmas tree growers in Nova Scotia; and



Whereas a 25 foot tree grown by Matthew Wright of New Germany will be lit at an official tree-lighting ceremony at the embassy in Washington tonight; and



Whereas Premier Savage and other representatives from Nova Scotia will take part in the ceremony; and



Whereas the use of Lunenburg County Christmas trees at the Canadian Embassy is an excellent promotion of a world-class product from the Balsam Fir Christmas Tree Capital of the World;



Therefore be it resolved that members of this House endorse the good work of the Christmas Tree Council of Nova Scotia and extend congratulations to the council for its generosity in providing these trees which promote such a positive and attractive image of Nova Scotia on the international stage.



I request waiver of notice.



MR. SPEAKER: There has been a request for waiver of notice.



Is it agreeable to the House?



It is agreed.



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



The motion is carried.



The honourable Minister of Fisheries.



RESOLUTION NO. 768



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



Whereas on December 4th, Canada joined other responsible fishing nations and signed an agreement for the implementation of provisions of the UN Conference on the Conservation and Management of Straddling Stocks and Highly Migratory Fish Stocks; and



Whereas this agreement enshrines the important principle of taking a precautionary approach to fisheries management and includes provisions for dispute settlement; and



Whereas this agreement bestows obligations on distant water fleets to recognize and adhere to management regimes established by coastal states;



Therefore be it resolved that members of this House, on behalf of all Nova Scotians, congratulate the federal Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, the Honourable Brian Tobin, for working relentlessly to safeguard highly migratory stocks including swordfish and tuna which are so important to our coastal communities.



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



MR. SPEAKER: Is that agreeable to the House?



It is agreed.



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



The motion is carried.



INTRODUCTION OF BILLS



Bill No. 55 - Entitled an Act Respecting Collège de l'Acadie and the Nova Scotia Community College. (Hon. John MacEachern)



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



NOTICES OF MOTION



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.



RESOLUTION NO. 769



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 said on Friday, December 17, 1993 in announcing her government's service exchange initiative, "at the start, the cost to each level of government will have to be the same. Afterwards, we will each be responsible for controlling our own costs"; and



Whereas two years later, the Nova Scotia Government is continuing to interfere in the delivery of service exchange and, in the process, is costing municipal units thousands of extra dollars they do not have; and



Whereas the Town of Digby is facing an added burden of $100,000 in extra costs for policing, effective April 1st of the new year, as a result of the government's continued downloading of costs onto municipalities;



Therefore be it resolved that the government immediately halt all measures they have implemented in recent months which clearly undermine the intent of this government's municipal service exchange legislation.



MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.



The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.



RESOLUTION NO. 770



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



Whereas in 1994, without any plans, forecasts or projected outcomes, this Liberal Government decided to wipe out the Cancer Treatment and Research Foundation and roll it into a hospital whose primary role is serving metro residents; and



Whereas almost two years later the Health Minister has announced a Nova Scotia Cancer Program Action Committee to address treatment and research issues from a provincial perspective; and



Whereas gaps in cancer treatment and support services have persisted while this minister's pinball decision-making ricocheted through the health care system;



Therefore be it resolved that this House deeply regrets the time irretrievably lost in efforts to ensure an adequate province-wide cancer treatment and research program, as the Liberal Government swings from one direction to another.



MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.



The honourable member for Halifax Bedford Basin.



RESOLUTION NO. 771



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



Whereas our Premier, the Honourable John Savage, is this week visiting Washington, New York and Boston; and



Whereas during these visits the Premier will be meeting major shippers and promoting the Port of Halifax as the gateway from Europe to North America; and



Whereas the opening of the rail tunnel in Sarnia, Ontario, has shaved nine hours off the shipping time from Halifax to Chicago, making Halifax a closer port of entry to Chicago than New York;



Therefore be it resolved that this House applaud the continuing efforts of the Premier to promote the Port of Halifax with its stable work force, as the best entry point for shippers transporting goods to North America.



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



MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreeable?



I hear several Noes.



The notice is tabled.



The honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party.



RESOLUTION NO. 772



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



Whereas this government has advanced the Conservative goal of eliminating all seniors' financial aid programs, in the apparent belief that seniors on fixed incomes need little help to live in their own homes; and



Whereas this Liberal Government has further enraged seniors by consolidating and entrenching the Conservatives' decision to shift prescription drug costs back onto seniors, rather than reducing drug costs; and



Whereas seniors now face the insulting offer from the government's Sheraton Casino of a free breakfast and five bucks for gambling;



Therefore be it resolved that this House condemns the insult and injury whereby the Liberals strip away seniors' support and income security, while offering free breakfasts, in an attempt to lure seniors into gambling away savings they may have.



MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.



The honourable member for Queens.



RESOLUTION NO. 773



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



Whereas the Prime Minister has determined it is time for Team Canada to get off the bench; and



Whereas the Prime Minister has invited the Canadian Premiers on a Team Canada mission to India; and



Whereas the trek to India is scheduled to take place at the very same time that the Leader of the Bloc Quebecois will step in as Premier of Quebec;



Therefore be it resolved that this House urges the Prime Minister to abandon the trek to India and to put the talents of our country's First Ministers to use in resolving the crisis of the future of Canada.



MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.



The honourable member for Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury.



RESOLUTION NO. 774



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



Whereas on Saturday, November 25th, in Country Harbour, a boat with three family members capsized after striking an underwater object, dumping a father, his 16 year old son and seven year old daughter into the frigid, icy water, three-quarters of a mile from the Country Harbour ferry dock; and



Whereas two ferry workers, Captain-in-charge Vaughan Boutilier, and engineer Isaac Harpell, both fully trained and skilled in marine emergency duties, responded promptly and professionally to this disastrous situation, pulling the three to safety; and



Whereas without this life-saving intervention the three capsized individuals would surely have perished as there were no other individuals or boats around;



Therefore be it resolved that this House salute the two employees of the Department of Transportation and Communications who put their marine emergency training to good use, for their speedy and professional action which has saved the lives of three grateful Nova Scotians.



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



[12:15 p.m.]



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.



An observation here from the Minister of Supply and Services.



The honourable Minister of Supply and Services.



HON. GERALD O'MALLEY: Mr. Speaker, I just wanted to make the comment to the resolution that was just put before the floor, it would be most appropriate if you, sir, in your most auspicious office, would send a letter on behalf of this Assembly to those brave persons.



MR. SPEAKER: My office is always most pleased to do that. However, we request of the sponsors of such resolutions, the names, particulars and addresses of those that they want the letters of congratulation or commendation sent to.



The honourable member for Cape Breton Centre.



RESOLUTION NO. 775



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



Whereas the Cape Breton Regional Municipality has been created to foster a sense of economic harmony; and



Whereas the Cape Breton Regional Council is working to solve its financial difficulties with the help of the dedicated staff of the municipality; and



Whereas the over $4 million in annual savings of the new Cape Breton municipality puts the municipality in a better position than it was as eight separate units;



Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House applaud the efforts of the many dedicated Cape Bretoners in striving to overcome the short-term difficulties of the Cape Breton Regional Municipality in order to reach the long-term goals of all citizens of metropolitan Cape Breton.



MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.



The honourable member for Kings West.



RESOLUTION NO. 776



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



Whereas the Liberal Government shows a serious lack of consistency in its approach to dealing on the one hand with teachers and on the other hand with health care workers; and



Whereas the Minister of Education has no problem in averting strike action by teachers but the Minister of Human Resources has a hard time understanding the point of view of beleaguered health care workers; and



Whereas the Health Minister has been effectively relieved of his responsibilities to health care;



Therefore be it resolved that the Liberal Government advise Nova Scotians just who answers for health care in Nova Scotia, the Minister of Human Resources, the Minister of Health, the Minister of Finance or the Premier.



MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.



The honourable member for Hants West.



RESOLUTION NO. 777



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



Whereas the Sea King crew from HMCS Calgary should be congratulated for their heroic rescue of 30 people off the Mount Olympus throughout storm conditions in the rough waters of the Atlantic; and



Whereas the Canadian crew and their ship arrived just in time to pluck the 30 individuals from their sinking ship; and



Whereas this type of action by our country's armed forces is representative of the extent to which these men and women risk their lives for Canada in high sea search and rescues;



Therefore be it resolved that this House commend the crew of HMCS Calgary and encourage the Premier to lobby his federal counterparts for a suitable replacement for the Sea King helicopters since the off-the-shelf replacement now proposed is not appropriate and is not suitable for the situations in which the men and women of our military who fly the machines often find themselves.



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



MR. SPEAKER: Is that agreeable to the House?



It is agreed.



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



The motion is carried.



The honourable member for Queens.



RESOLUTION NO. 778



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



Whereas the Canadian armed forces have once again been called upon to conduct a dramatic rescue at sea; and



Whereas Captain Dan Burden's helicopter crew miraculously were able to manoeuvre their ancient Sea King over the sinking Mount Olympus; and



Whereas Corporal Rob Fisher further risked his life in rescuing 30 seamen from the stricken ship's deck;



Therefore be it resolved that the next time an ancient museum piece Sea King has to make a daring rescue at night in high winds and raging seas, the Prime Minister volunteer to join the helicopter crew to give him the opportunity to understand what it is like to risk one's life in an antique.



MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.



The honourable member for Pictou West.



RESOLUTION NO. 779



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



Whereas employment opportunities are disappearing at the Truro Raceway as a result of the government's plan to bring casino gambling to Nova Scotia; and



Whereas jobs are also being threatened in Nova Scotia's tourism industry as the result of free breakfast giveaways and $5 coupons to gamble at the Halifax Casino; and



Whereas the Nova Scotia Restaurant and Food Services Association is gravely concerned about the blatant interference and the impact this interference will have on their industry;



Therefore be it resolved that the Minister responsible for the Nova Scotia Gaming Control Commission immediately put restrictive measures in place so that jobs will not continue to disappear in this province as the result of casino gambling.



MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.



The honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party.



RESOLUTION NO. 780



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



Whereas yesterday in Sydney a woman was murdered in an act of domestic violence; and



Whereas this tragedy struck during the 16 days dedicated by the world community to emphasize action against gender violence and only two days before Canada's National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against women; and



Whereas genuine equality and respect are the best means of ending the unequal power and resulting violence which have destroyed the peace and ended the lives of so many women;



Therefore be it resolved that this House observe a minute of silence to pay respect to the woman who was murdered in Sydney and to recognize the great need for action to end the threat and reality of violence against Nova Scotia women.



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



MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreeable to the House?



It is agreed.



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



The motion is carried.



We will observe a minute's silence in honour of the memory of the late Leah MacQueen, a constituent of mine and my granddaughter's Grade 5 school teacher.



[One minute of silence was observed.]



The honourable member for Kings West.



RESOLUTION NO. 781



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



Whereas the Liberal Government's agenda of reform has apparently run out of steam and;



Whereas promised legislation on certified nursing assistants, public smoking legislation and a new Medical Act have been promised, but have never materialized; and



Whereas the government shut down the House early last night because it had no agenda;



Therefore be it resolved the Liberal Government recognize that their self-inflicted legislative chaos reflects their total, overall inability to offer responsible, accountable and competent government to Nova Scotians.



MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.



The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.



RESOLUTION NO. 782



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



Whereas the manager of the Truro Raceway in Bible Hill is quoted this morning as saying, "the opening of the Halifax Casino has had a disastrous effect on our wager"; and



Whereas the manager said the track's live wager dropped 34 per cent against last year's numbers since the opening of the casino; and



Whereas as a result of these substantial losses, live harness racing is being cut to one card a week at the raceway;



Therefore be it resolved that the Minister responsible for the Nova Scotia Gaming Control Commission and MLA for Truro-Bible Hill immediately investigate the difficulties being experienced at the Truro Raceway as a result of casino operations undertaken by the Savage Government and ITT Sheraton in Halifax so that further job losses do not occur.



MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.



The honourable member for Cape Breton West.



RESOLUTION NO. 783



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



Whereas Cape Breton Regional Municipal Councillor Clare Dethridge referred to the $15 million deficit facing Cape Breton taxpayers as, an " . . . absolute nightmare"; and



Whereas in responding to a question from Information Morning host Don Connolly, Ms. Dethridge said, "My word of warning to the people of Halifax - do not trust the provincial government"; and



Whereas Ms. Dethridge said that nobody has explained to her how the promised $4.5 million saving turned into a $15 million debt;



Therefore be it resolved that Municipal Affairs Minister Sandra Jolly recognize that even the municipal councillors are demanding answers as to how her master plan to save millions of dollars turned into a huge deficit, and that she immediately table all reports, audits, financial statements and any other documentation that will explain how this nightmare came to pass.



MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.



Ministers should not be referred to by name, though, in resolutions of that type. I will certainly allow the motion, but please refer to ministers by their title rather than their name.



The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.



RESOLUTION NO. 784



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



Whereas government business was so well arranged in this House on December 4th that after rushing through early important votes, the House was forced to adjourn prematurely; and



Whereas legislation affecting the education, health care and property rights of all Nova Scotians is proceeding in the absence of the Premier, Government House Leader and many other ministers; and



Whereas Nova Scotians might reasonably have expected their government to be interested in its own dictatorial measures enough to actually stay in town for this sitting;



Therefore be it resolved that this House urges the government to plan future legislative sittings more carefully, with greater respect for the people of this province.



MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.



The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.



RESOLUTION NO. 785



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



Whereas parents in East Hants are so upset with the lack of movement on the construction of a new middle school promised for this year that they are threatening to take their children out of classes to protest; and



Whereas the Hants East Education Task Force has been given assurances by the minister that all is on schedule, but the department has yet to even announce a site for the school or an architect for the project; and



Whereas the superintendent for the Colchester-East Hants District School Board was promised by the department that by mid-November he would have, in hand, a commitment to begin site selection, a promise that wasn't kept;



Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Education immediately address this situation before frustrated parents remove their children from the classroom.



MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.



Are there any further notices of motion? If not, I would like to advise the House that the Clerk has conducted a draw for the Adjournment debate at 6:00 o'clock. The winner this afternoon is the honourable member for Queens. He submitted a resolution reading:



Therefore be it resolved that the government recognize that their casinos have claimed at least two major victims thus far, the Truro Raceway and the Tartan Downs, which in economic and human terms means a great deal to Truro and to Sydney.



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



We can advance now to Orders of the Day. The time now being 12:28 p.m., the Oral Question Period will run until 1:28 p.m.



ORDERS OF THE DAY



ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.



TRANSPORT. - YARMOUTH-BAR HARBOR FERRY:

WINTER SERVICE - CONTINUATION



DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Acting Premier. On an earlier day the Premier stated that he would support the continuation of Bluenose winter ferry service in Yarmouth on the basis of an economic impact study that was being done by ATI Consulting. Would the Acting Premier confirm whether the government has received this report and studied it?



HON. WILLIAM GILLIS: Mr. Speaker, I don't know if it has been received, but I can undertake to check to see if the study was received, and possibly check with the Acting Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency.



DR. HAMM: Well, the report is available - and I continue with the Acting Premier -and it reveals some very startling economic numbers. It reports that 1,200 jobs would be lost if the winter service is discontinued, that $10.1 million in government revenues would be lost if the service is discontinued, and that the service, in fact, provides some $81 million in economic activity in the Province of Nova Scotia. My question to the Acting Premier is, what is the government's plan to protect the 1,200 jobs, to protect the $10.1 million in revenue, and to protect the $81 million of economic activity that the ferry service generates in this province? What is the plan to preserve the service?



MR. GILLIS: I want to say first of all, I wonder if it is in the wrong forum that the question is being answered. It is the responsibility of the Government of Canada, not the Province of Nova Scotia, and Heaven knows we have plenty of responsibilities right here. But as I indicated earlier, I don't have access to the study. I will check on that, and I know work has been done. I know the Premier has been involved, in fact helped to gain a stay of execution so that the service would not have been cancelled earlier and kept it going later. But I will check with the Premier's Office and see what is happening to date. Again, I remind the honourable Leader of the Opposition that it is the Government of Canada that has the first responsibility.





[12:30 p.m.]



DR. HAMM: Mr. Speaker, I thank the Acting Premier, if he hasn't seen the report. I certainly take exception to the fact that in view of the concern of Nova Scotians - and this is an integral part of the economic fabric of southwestern Nova Scotia - to simply say that the responsibility is the federal government's, is certainly not satisfactory.



My final supplementary to the Acting Premier is, is the Acting Premier prepared to meet with the Premier on his return and to provide a contingency plan to influence the federal government to continue this very valuable service in southwestern Nova Scotia?



MR. GILLIS: There is no question that the ferry service is very important to southwestern Nova Scotia, especially the Yarmouth-Digby-Shelburne area. There is no question about it and I don't deny that.



Again, all levels of government can't be reaching out to try to take major responsibilities from other levels. Sometimes other levels are trying to download responsibilities and the resources of the Government of Canada are much bigger than mine.



Of course, I will raise the matter with the Premier on his return and give him any information, including the matters that have been raised here by the Leader of the Opposition, and tell him the concern that has been expressed here, such as the concern expressed by members, such as the member for Yarmouth and others in that area.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.



JUSTICE - C.B. REG. HOSP.: ADMISSIONS PROCEDURE - PUBLIC INQUIRY



MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I would like to direct my question through you to the Minister of Justice. In the recent past the minister will know that there has been a major fatality inquiry into the admissions procedures at the Cape Breton Regional Hospital and new concerns recently have arisen. Families of patients who recently were denied admission and committed suicide, are understandably concerned about admissions procedures.



We would suggest that it would appear that simply holding another fatality inquiry may not be sufficient to get all the reasons surrounding the problems with respect to admissions procedures.



I would like to ask the minister, Mr. Speaker, in order to ensure that a sufficiently broad public inquiry can take place, will he make recommendations that a public inquiry, under the Public Inquiries Act, be held so that all the background reasons and anything at all related to this situation relating to the admissions procedures at the Cape Breton Regional Hospital will come forward, in order to deal with a concern that is being felt by a great many Cape Bretoners?



HON. WILLIAM GILLIS: Mr. Speaker, I think it is premature for me to comment on that. I haven't had any request, formally or otherwise, about this particular matter and I would rather not make a comment otherwise. I think it may be more appropriate for the Minister of Health, who has been following the issue and may have had some meetings involving it, it might be more appropriate if the Minister of Health would respond at this point. I am not ruling out requests to me later on.



MR. SPEAKER: Does the Minister of Health wish to comment?



HON. RONALD STEWART: In regard to specific cases, Mr. Speaker, I would say that when specific issues are raised to the local facility, that local facility is usually certainly responsive, as in these latter cases. We are looking with them at specific incidents.



I would have every confidence that the proper investigation preliminary would be done in any clinical decisions. I would rest, at the moment, assured that these issues will be investigated and looked at properly, in the proper context.



MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I direct my questions to the Minister of Justice because it is, in fact, he who has the responsibility and actually the obligation, under the Fatality Inquiries Act and the Public Inquiries Act to proceed, and he has the discretion to initiate any examination of issues of this magnitude and to commit, whether it be through the Fatality Inquiries Act, to commit the medical examiner to provide him with reports, or under the Public Inquiries Act, to establish an inquiry.



Mr. Speaker, the point again is the fact that a similar issue has been dealt with by a fatalities inquiry over the past couple of years at the Cape Breton Regional Hospital about admissions procedures for mentally ill patients. We now have a situation where there have been two suicides resulting as a result of some difficulties. Again, I ask the minister, given the obvious severity of the issue, given the fact that there has already been an inquiry of narrow scope that hasn't obviously addressed the needs at resolving procedural problems, will he in fact follow the obligations under his legislation and recommend that a public inquiry into this matter be held, so that all information will come forth and that we will ensure that nothing of this magnitude will happen again in the future?



MR. GILLIS: Mr. Speaker, I will assure the honourable member that I will review the matter carefully. These matters are not all that clear-cut as the honourable member would lead us to believe, and I have an obligation and no other choice but to do a certain matter. There may be a role for the prosecution service in this matter if they recommend that an inquiry be held, but I would rather consult with my colleague, the Minister of Health, who, I am sure, is approaching this cautiously, carefully and responsibly. I would be happy to do that and talk to my own officials, including, if necessary, the officials in the Prosecution Service to see what is appropriate.



MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I say again that a narrow-scoped fatality inquiry has already been held on an issue similar to this. This is an issue that has been raised. The families of patients, who have committed suicide, after having come in contact with the Cape Breton Regional Hospital are extremely concerned and I think it is important that we, the government, take a look at this issue, involve a public inquiry under the auspices of the Public Inquiries Act in order that all matters relevant to this issue come forward. I would suggest that only until the minister gives direction that this be done, will in fact all of the information relative to this concern come forward and only until it comes forward will we be able to be in a position to resolve the problem.



MR. GILLIS: It is completely clear, Mr. Speaker, that the member is convinced that there should be a fatalities inquiry. On the other hand, I have offered to examine the matter carefully to see what is appropriate in the circumstances, and I will do what is appropriate once I do those proper studies. I just don't have the answer in my head right now but, after consultation with the Minister of Health and others involved, I will follow the proper procedures, I assure the honourable member.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants West.



FIN.: LOAN AGENCIES (DEPTS.) - REVIEW



MR. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Finance. It is my understanding that an official from the Department of Finance is presently meeting with officials in the Department of Fisheries, the Department of Agriculture, the Department of Housing and other departments that have loan agencies to discuss their present loan processes. Would the minister confirm that this review is taking place at the present time?



HON. BERNARD BOUDREAU: Yes, Mr. Speaker, I can't confirm specifically that a particular individual spoke to them, but that would not surprise me in the least. I think that, in fact, has been taking place.



MR. RUSSELL: Well, if the minister doesn't know that they are taking place - and there is an official from his department - I am rather surprised. But, anyway, can the minister tell us if these discussions are concerned with the costs of administering these loan funds or is it the loan/loss ratio for these particular funds, or the effectiveness of the program, what are the specifics of the review process?



MR. BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, perhaps the honourable member misunderstood my reply. I said I am quite convinced that such consultation is taking place. I don't know exactly which official went to which department but I can assure him that I would be very confident in saying such contact is taking place. For what purpose? This is part of the ongoing program review which we have announced some time ago dealing with all of the programs and services of government. The first stage of that program review was an inventory of all programs. The second stage is looking to programs with common functions, regardless of in which department they occur. For example, you might find in reviewing the inventory that has been in existence that perhaps 12 or 13 departments have a marketing function that they perform, perhaps 10 or 12 departments have a licensing function of some sort that they perform, that perhaps 5 or 6 departments have a loan function that they perform. This second stage is simply going to all of the various departments and trying to talk to them about what common functions they might be performing.



MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, would the minister confirm that the official from the Department of Finance, when approaching the administrators within the departments of these loan programs, is suggesting that there are four options available, there is either amalgamation of the various loan funds, privatization of the loan funds, dismantling the loan funds completely, or maintaining the status quo?



MR. BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, that pretty well covers them all, I think. I can't conceive of a fifth option but I think that probably covers them.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.



HEALTH - ORTHOPAEDICS: WAITING LISTS - FIGURES



DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Health. On November 21st in response to a question that I asked the Minister of Health, he said and I will quote directly from Hansard, "In this province, in 1994, the waiting lists for major surgical procedures have remained the same or have decreased, the first time we have ever done that. That is true; we have the information now.". I will repeat that part of the quote, "That is true; we have the information now.". My question for the minister is, is the minister prepared again today to reassure the House that waiting lists for major surgical procedures have not increased in 1994, the last full year that figures are available and if he has evidence that supports that, will he table it in the House?



HON. RONALD STEWART: Mr. Speaker, yes, as I gave undertaking to the honourable Leader of the Opposition, we are in the process of some major changes in collection of data and in the reporting of those data and the breakdown of particular waiting lists, the breakdown of the waiting times and what that means will be made fully available. I have asked that that be done in a broad context and in specific instances and that, of course, will be made available when that is finished.



DR. HAMM: Mr. Speaker, in reply to my question, the minister refers to a definition of waiting time which really was not the substance of my question. On the CBC's First Edition, in a recent interview, the minister was asked about the waiting list and the waiting time for major orthopaedic procedures, a specific question. In reply, the minister said, you have no objective evidence that waiting lists are growing. In fact, I have evidence to say that waiting lists are not growing. In regard to the waiting list of orthopaedic surgery which was commented on by the Fraser Institute in its report, would the minister table the evidence to which he was referring when he was able to say that he has evidence to say that waiting lists, specifically in orthopaedic surgery, are not growing in this province?



DR. STEWART: Mr. Speaker, as I mentioned in the previous answer we are going to do that, we are in the process of doing that and collecting them over the year or more that we have been able to do that. In fact, we will be breaking it down, we are trying to look at them physician by physician, in fact, because the waiting list for some may be four weeks and for others it may be eight months. This is a very complicated issue that has to be broken down so that we can have a standardized base on which to work. This is a major project of our department.



I can very specifically define a waiting list for specific procedures, whether it be knee replacement or hip replacement, we have targeted several procedures that would, indeed, allow us to make judgments as we change the health system. I would give an undertaking, as I have, to present those when they are completed. We should have quarterly and monthly and, in fact, we could have them for the year as well.



[12:45 p.m.]



DR. HAMM: Mr. Speaker, by way of final supplementary to the minister. The minister made very clear reference now to studies that he will report to the House when they are completed. Will the minister then confirm that there is no study available right now, today, that he could table that will allow him to get up and to very clearly reassure the House that there has not been an increased waiting time for major surgical procedures in this province over the last two years?



DR. STEWART: Mr. Speaker, I fully intend to make those available to this House. I would, in fact, make sure that in terms of orthopaedic surgery there has, as I have said - depending on the procedure, depending on the surgeon - been increased waiting times or decreased waiting times, depending on how specific you can get. I will be happy to make those available when we see trends and we are doing that at the moment, to facilitate.





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



HEALTH - GLACE BAY: DOCTOR - RECRUITMENT



MR. ALFRED MACLEOD: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is also to the Minister of Health. Could the minister explain the recruitment process for bringing new doctors in to service underserviced areas? Specifically, are doctors matched on the type of practice they have and the type of lifestyle they want or is there another criteria for how a doctor is found for a particular community?



HON. RONALD STEWART: Mr. Speaker, I am trying to understand fully the context of the question. I assume the honourable gentleman opposite wishes to know, are there criteria on which we would base recruiting in general terms. Certainly, the first base is what type of physician practice, such as whether it is general practice, ophthalmology or orthopaedic surgery, that would be the first thing. The second is to certainly ensure the credentials of the individual who is being recruited. The third would be to ensure that those who are interested in coming to Nova Scotia to a particular practice would be happy and involved in the community to which they might be called.



MR. MACLEOD: The minister was recently widely quoted in the media saying that Glace Bay, which is in a crisis situation with some 8,000 people without a family doctor, is now the number one priority of the government in terms of recruiting a new doctor for the area. Will the minister please table a list of all the other unserviced areas in the order of their priority? In other words, Glace Bay is said to be number one and somewhere else must be number two and so on, does the minister have such a list?



DR. STEWART: No, Mr. Speaker, I was making the point in stating that, that Glace Bay because of its recent retirement and several other, illness for example, that we were concentrating on Glace Bay because of its needs. There exists no list, per se, in terms of 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, but merely saying that that is a number one case because of its needs and the number that were reported to be without a physician.



MR. MACLEOD: Again my question, Mr. Speaker, is to the Minister of Health. I wonder if the minister could tell the people of Glace Bay and Port Morien and Donkin, what the advantage is of having the minister stand up and say that they are number one on the priority list? I want to know, is the next doctor that is coming to Nova Scotia, is he going to be going to Glace Bay to service the people down there? That is the impression that was left with the people when you told them they were number one on the list.



DR. STEWART: Mr. Speaker, again, what we are saying and what I have said in the context that I was saying it, was that because of the needs in that particular area, we would concentrate our recruiter's time and his efforts and the other efforts that we are making in attempting to fill the need there in that area, both in the short term and the long term. This includes locum tenentes and the locum tenentes service that we are organizing, also the long-term recruitment for, particularly, general practitioners in the area.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings West.



HEALTH - DENTURISTS: LEGISLATION - SUPPORT



MR. GEORGE MOODY: Mr. Speaker, my question, too, through you is for the Minister of Health. Can the Minister of Health tell the House if he supports the legislation that has been drafted to expand the scope of practice for denturists? I think legislation has been drafted to expand the scope of practice for denturists. I want to know from the Minister of Health whether he supports that expanded scope of practice?



HON. RONALD STEWART: Mr. Speaker, the gentleman opposite, I assume, is referring to the expanded scope in terms of the construction of bridge and other work. I have been supportive of that initiative on the part of the denturists and we are continuing to move forward with that legislation.



MR. MOODY: I appreciate the minister supporting that expanded scope of practice. I think the minister knows it is done in most provinces in Canada. I wonder if the minister -I know he has met with the Denturists Society and I appreciate the meetings he has held with them - would indicate to the House whether or not he is prepared to introduce that legislation this fall. Obviously we have been short on agenda; yesterday we had no bills to discuss. I wonder if the minister is prepared to bring that bill forward this session?



DR. STEWART: That bill, I could say, Mr. Speaker, has been worked on and has been in the legislative line-up for at least a year and, in fact, more. Some of the work that was done was done by the honourable gentleman opposite. I, myself, in the Ministry of Health's priorities had listed that. We are hoping to bring it forward as soon as possible and we would pledge ourselves to do that, again, considering the legislative priorities of the government as a whole.



MR. MOODY: My final supplementary, the minister, I think, promised to license midwives within a year of being in office; he promised to license nurse practitioners within a year of being in office; he promised we would get an expanded Medical Act, a revision of the Medical Act; no smoking legislation. I know the minister has had a lot of requests by CNAs and others; he has had a large package over in his department.



I would ask the minister, in my final supplementary, acknowledging that there is a great deal of legislation that is important to health care in this province over in his department, but yet we see the blueberry bill and others that aren't quite as important being a priority of this government, will the minister ensure that in this session or the spring session we will see the kind of legislation he has promised that, I believe, much of it is very important to health care in this province? Can he assure us that we will no longer hear talk, but we will actually see the legislation?



DR. STEWART: Again, I appreciate the honourable gentleman opposite bringing to the attention of the House the enormous number of changes that must occur in the health care system, and part of it through legislation. I, again, would only pledge my efforts to carry forward the legislation in as fair a priority as we can manage, knowing full well that the government will set the agenda for the legislative session. I would, in fact, bow to that greater wisdom.



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



FIN.: CASINOS - MARKETING STRATEGY



MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I would like to direct my question through you, sir, to the Minister of Finance in his capacity as Minister responsible for the running of Nova Scotia Government's casinos. The minister has spoken and reported in this House about the marketing plans for his government's casinos, and has also told Nova Scotians that the Sheraton has a marketing strategy, a marketing plan that is going to be turning around the poor financial performance of those government casinos. Now we are starting to see that marketing strategy and policy unfold with the free breakfast being offered to seniors, $5.00 gambling chips being provided as well.



My question to the minister is quite simply, why did the minister and his officials allow such a dubious marketing strategy that flies completely in the face of the commitments and promises he made with regard to how those casinos were going to be allowed to operate here in the Province of Nova Scotia?



HON. BERNARD BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, the policy of the Government of Nova Scotia with respect to operations of casinos and gaming in general are contained in the regulations passed by this government. Every operation, whether it be a bingo operation in Whycocomagh or a casino in Halifax, has to operate under those regulations and under the supervision of the Nova Scotia Gaming Control Commission, which I might say I believe to be the most complete and thorough gaming control commission in the country.



MR. HOLM: Mr. Speaker, the minister's last answer brought a smile to my face. I couldn't help but get a chuckle out of that. Quite clearly, the minister and this government promised when they announced that they were going to be establishing casinos in the province, that there would be no predatory policies permitted. They said that the casinos would not be allowed to give away free drinks or free food. The minister likes to take credit or try to take credit whenever he thinks that there is good news but he tries to duck when, in fact, he thinks that news may be a little bit unkind toward the government.



My question to the minister is quite simply this, we have seen that now the casinos have got their foot in the door trying to give away free food, will the minister, here and now, announce that he is going to slam the door on his government casinos and announce that they will not be permitted to give away free products, free booze and free food to patrons in those casinos?



MR. BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, first of all, I am glad I brought a chuckle to the honourable member's day. I think the honourable member here consistently - I don't know whether it is generic to that particular Party or not - misunderstands the roles of the various government bodies. He was one of the people, I thought, and his Party was one of the advocates of a regulatory body standing arm's length from government, which would in fact ensure that the regulatory regime passed by government was enforced. No interference from politicians, he said. Let this regulatory regime do its job. That is exactly what we are going to do.



MR. HOLM: Mr. Speaker, it is arm's length, in fact, maybe two arms' lengths distance if both ministers who are responsible want to stretch to the limit; great arm's length. I want to say to the minister, the minister has responsibility. Those regulations are only as good as the regulations that this government drafts. This is the minister who says he supports small business. He said that the businesses, those who are involved in the restaurant industry and others in the downtown area and surrounding area, would not be harmed by this casino.



My question to the minister is quite simply this, why are the minister and the government shirking their responsibilities by refusing to ensure that the commitments that they made when they trumpeted this legislation in this House, why is he refusing to live up to those commitments that he and his government members made at that time?



MR. BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, the government fulfilled its commitments by setting in place a regulatory regime which was sensible, well distributed, well known. It also put in place a Gaming Control Commission which I will say, once again, let me repeat, is among the best, if not the best, in the country.



Let me tell you, Mr. Speaker, under the regulations we have and the Gaming Control Commission we have, I am confident, for example, that a political Party could never be involved in skimming gaming profits here in the Province of Nova Scotia. (Applause)



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings North.



SUPPLY AND SERV. - OFFICE (MIN.): RENOVATIONS - COST



MR. GEORGE ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is to the Minister (Interruptions) Gracious sakes.



MR. SPEAKER: Order, please, so we can hear the honourable member for Kings North.



MR. ARCHIBALD: My question, through you, Mr. Speaker, is to the Minister of Supply and Services. The minister's office is on the 14th Floor over at Maritime Centre. The office is undergoing, at the current time, a considerable amount of work that was ordered to be carried out by the minister. Could the minister indicate how much the cost of this renovation is going to be?



HON. GERALD O'MALLEY: Mr. Speaker, I thank the honourable member for his question. I would indicate to him, first of all, the purpose of the work. I am not sure whether he sent the media over to have a look at it, but if he did, I will inform them at the same time that I inform you.



You will remember that a year ago there was an audit done of the department. During that audit there was a restructuring of the department recommended, and that a division of policy and corporate relationships be established within the department. That meant a new division was established within the department. In order to accommodate that new division, we made two offices and adjusted one wall of the boardroom. The total cost I haven't in but it has all been done in-house, by our own people. There has been no contract let, no tenders let. The cost will be minimal. I don't know exactly what it is at this point but having had some experience in the construction industry, I would expect that it is well below the $10,000 level.



[1:00 p.m.]



MR. ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, to the minister, I didn't realize you were in construction, I thought you were a principal of a community college. However, you have learned a great deal in your life, I am sure.



This summer the minister carried out some additional work on the 14th floor of his office building and I am just wondering what that renovation was for?



MR. O'MALLEY: I am not sure which renovation the honourable member is referring to. I adjusted my desk slightly so I would get a better light perspective from the light above me. I took one fluorescent fixture out and I put in one 150 watt spotlight. If he could be more specific and identify it, maybe I could answer the honourable member's question.



MR. ARCHIBALD: My question again is to the Minister of Supply and Services. Will the minister confirm also that the Department of Health underwent some extensive renovations and the minister moved from the 12th floor down to the 4th floor? Could the Minister of Supply and Services indicate the expense and the cost of doing that renovation?



MR. O'MALLEY: Mr. Speaker, again I thank the honourable member for that question. Indeed, that was a requirement of the Minister of Health in the restructuring and reorganizing of his department and it was carried out through my department. The actual expenditure of it I do not have at the tips of my fingers, but I will table it in the House for the member this time tomorrow.



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



SUPPLY AND SERV. - PARKING LOT (HOLLIS/WATER STS.):

PATRONS - LIST



MR. GEORGE ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, again to the Minister of Supply and Services. At a time when the government is embarking on a course of action of belt-tightening and so on, to have ministers' offices and their floors and their facilities being renovated is certainly very interesting and I do look forward to getting the costs and the expense of doing it. I would also like the minister to furnish the expense, even though he says it is modest because it was done in-house, I would also like him to table the expense of doing the latest renovation in his office.



Two weeks ago, on November 21st, the Minister of Supply and Services was asked to provide a list of those parking in the government parking lot on Water Street and Hollis Street, a list of the people who are parking free of charge. I wonder if the minister would table that list for us today?



HON. GERALD O'MALLEY: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the honourable member again for his question. He has asked me for that list repeatedly over the last few days. I indicated to him that I do have the list, as a matter of fact I have the list in front of me. Before I table that list, I indicated to the honourable member what I wanted to do was establish policies; the policy for the use of that parking lot and the policy of the previous government for the use of that parking lot. The minister very piously indicated to me that when his government operated that parking lot, there were only two spaces allocated to department.



I have been searching vigorously for that policy format and I found they didn't charge anybody anything.



SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, Oh.



MR. O'MALLEY: Not a cent. Everybody got it for nothing. Well I can tell you, this government is charging for use, it is making money off of that parking lot; we are acting financially responsible. When I have the full information on what that government chose for the use of that parking lot, then I will table the full document as a comprehensive whole.



MR. ARCHIBALD: Well, I certainly appreciate the response from the minister, Mr. Speaker. Again, through you, to the Minister of Supply and Services, and I appreciate the history lesson that he is going to give us all on who was and who wasn't parking over there, but that does not alter the fact, does not change anything at all. This past summer, I would like the minister to indicate to the members of the House how much money it cost the taxpayers of Nova Scotia to build the parking lot that is over there and I would like the minister to indicate how many people are parking at no charge in that parking lot. There must be some kind of a government policy because some people are paying and some people are not paying. I have absolutely no idea in the world what the previous government did (Laughter) and I hasten to add that it may be a little bit irrelevant at the present time. But would the minister furnish . . .



MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.



MR. ARCHIBALD: . . . the list of the people and indicate the cost of the renovations to that parking lot?



MR. O'MALLEY: Oh, Mr. Speaker, this is really a joy. I wasn't really giving a history lesson, I was giving an economic lesson to the honourable member. It pleases me to say to that member, and to all members of his government, that it didn't cost this government a penny for that parking lot. It was given to us by Ottawa, through the wise and astute negotiations of our department. Thanks to us. (Applause)



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



MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, in the absence of the Minister of Agriculture, I would like to ask the acting Minister of Agriculture a question. Another casualty fell claim yesterday to the casinos and the acting minister will know that Tartan Downs in Sydney recently closed and yesterday the Truro Raceway . . .



MR. SPEAKER: Before we go any further, would the honourable acting Minister of Agriculture identify himself or herself? (Interruptions) The Minister of Agriculture is not out of Nova Scotia; therefore, there is not an acting Minister of Agriculture appointed.



MR. TAYLOR: I apologize, Mr. Speaker. I didn't realize he was in the province, I hadn't been notified.



MR. SPEAKER: Perhaps you could try another question.



The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.



NAT. RES. - LUMBER SHIPMENT: STALLED (HFX.) - UPDATE



MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: I would like to ask the Minister of Natural Resources a question. The minister will know that last week I outlined a concern that is taking place relating to the forest industry in the province. I tabled a letter that was sent to the Port Authority in Liverpool, England, from Diana Blenkhorn, the Executive Director of the Maritime Lumber Bureau. I know the minister last week seemed quite unaware of the situation and perhaps that is understandable because the letter was only dated November 22nd, and I think it was a week and a little better since I tabled the letter. I wonder if the minister can tell us today if he has brought himself up-to-date with this serious situation?



HON. DONALD DOWNE: Yes, Mr. Speaker.





MR. TAYLOR: Thank you very much for that enlightening response. Again I go to the Minister of Natural Resources. The Minister of Natural Resources will know that the President of the Maritime Lumber Bureau is a constituent of his, I believe, a Mr. David Boston. The Maritime Lumber Bureau is extremely concerned about this situation. The minister will know that approximately 25,000 direct/indirect jobs are related to the forestry in this province and I am wondering, what steps has the Minister of Natural Resources of Nova Scotia taken to alleviate or at least help alleviate this serious situation?



MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, in regard to the MLB, they have not officially notified me in regard to requesting information or assistance in dealing with an international issue. Clearly, whether I sent a letter or not on this matter would be of very little consequence in regard to resolving the international problem.



It is clearly within the Government of the United Kingdom in regard to London and whether or not they resolve their trade disputes. It is my knowledge that they are getting closer to resolving this matter and we certainly wish that they would continue to do that and find a resolve as it allows us to continue to export lumber products from this province to the United Kingdom.



Thirdly, the MLB is working with the BPIB which in their international arm. The BPIB is a body that certainly this province has long supported and Roger Southee, who is Executive Director of that organization, has been working in the international field and trying to have it resolved and they have, as they know in the past, our full support. Clearly it is in the hands of that or either the federal ministry but certainly, in the United Kingdom in regard to resolving this matter. I am of the knowledge that they are getting closer to finding that resolve.



MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I had hoped that the Minister of Natural Resources for this province would have taken some steps to help the forestry producers and shippers in this province. The minister recently called upon the federal government to continue their Cooperative Overseas Market Development Program, an agency which represents the interests of lumber producers from the six most eastern provinces. Can the minister bring us up-to-date on his talks with Ottawa and if he secured an agreement to maintain this program?



MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, BPIB is a tremendous organization, one of which I have had the opportunity to visit their facilities in Europe. We have been working on issues such as the pinewood nematode and other trade issues that related to Nova Scotia and are very important to trade. This organization is probably one of the most cost-effective organizations to this province and to this country, in regard to providing trade and opportunities of market access as well as joint partnerships between companies in the U.K. and Nova Scotia. Through myself and other ministers, Minister Harrison and I believe supported by the Premier, we have been encouraging the federal government to continue this support.



Secondly, I have brought this matter forward at the Federal Ministers Conference on Forestry and had resolved that this was a major issue which was supported by the Ministers of Forestry across this country, to make sure that we can find the ability to fund this particular program which is so vitally important to the Province of Nova Scotia. In fact, it was the first time, I believe, that a ministers' conference had given support for this type of initiative even though it wasn't totally on a Canadian perspective. That was because this minister has brought this concern forward because it is very important to the forest producers of this province.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Citadel.



JUSTICE - ELECTRONIC MONITORING SYSTEM: PRISONERS - PROGRESS



MR. TERENCE DONAHOE: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Justice. The Minister of Justice will recall that as far back as May of this year, I engaged him in correspondence relative to the item of electronic monitoring of incarcerates. In a letter to me dated May 12, 1995, the minister indicated that, "Correctional Services staff in the Department of Justice are in the process of reviewing program particulars with their counterparts in Newfoundland and British Columbia, as well as with potential suppliers.". He talked about, "A pilot project involving approximately 25 units in the Halifax/Dartmouth metropolitan area will commence during the latter part of the present fiscal year.", and so on. I noticed a news item just a few days ago indicating that Newfoundland had, indeed, embarked upon the program, that the press reports were to the effect that they were enjoying success with it.



My question today for the Minister of Justice is whether or not the minister, having said that his pilot project here would specifically involve approximately 25 units in the Halifax-Dartmouth metropolitan area and that it would be begun late in this current fiscal year, will the minister confirm today whether or not that pilot project on electronic monitoring of incarcerates or of convicted persons is, in fact, under way?



HON. WILLIAM GILLIS: Mr. Speaker, the pilot project is not under way, we still have three months and change in the fiscal year. I will check the status of it. I haven't asked about it lately but I will be glad to check and see what the status of it is.



[1:15 p.m.]



MR. DONAHOE: Mr. Speaker, by way of supplementary, through you to the Minister of Justice, I realize that there are a couple of months remaining in the current fiscal year so there may well still be an opportunity for the minister to have the pilot project up and running. But it is a little bit frustrating when one realizes that back in May of this year, this same minister made specific reference in his letter of May 12th to the fact that his department was in the processing of reviewing particulars with their counterparts in Newfoundland and British Columbia. That is some many, many months ago. Now we have the program up and running in the Province of Newfoundland and they are already utilizing the electronic monitoring system with great success.



Against that backdrop I wonder if the minister is able to indicate here today that rather than simply indicate to me and to others that he will make some inquiries and that he and his officials will study and assess the matter, will the minister give a commitment that there will, in fact, be a pilot project on electronic monitoring of convicted persons up and running not later than the end of the current fiscal year here in Nova Scotia, whether it is 25 persons or some other number of persons?



MR. GILLIS: Mr. Speaker, I have already said I would check on it. I honestly don't know the status of it. Rather than making a commitment that yes, we will have it under way by March 31, 1996, I will undertake to find out what is happening. If something has gone wrong with our ideas in this direction, whether the capital cost is too high or whatever the problem is, I will be glad to undertake to find out the status of it and report back to the House.



MR. DONAHOE: Mr. Speaker, in the minister's letter to me of May 12, 1995, the minister said, among other things that, "Staff . . .", referring to his own staff, ". . . are aware of both the advantages and limitations of electronic monitoring.". I wonder in light of the fact that as far back as May of this year the minister and his staff were aware of the advantages and the limitations, would the minister agree today to table here in this place the departmental studies which have outlined or have pointed out to him and his staff both the advantages and the limitations as well as another matter that he related to in his letter, the costs of implementing such a study? Would he give an undertaking to table those studies, which staff has indicated have outlined or raised the advantages and limitations and costs?



MR. GILLIS: Mr. Speaker, just before I answer the question, I would request that the member table a copy of the letter. I don't have the letter with me but it would be helpful to me when I go back and talk back to my officials. I would be happy to table the information on the perceived advantages and disadvantages of electronic monitoring as well as the estimated costs.



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



FISH. - TRAINING SCHOOL (PICTOU): CLASSES/STUDENTS - NUMBER



MR. DONALD MCINNES: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Fisheries. My question is in regard to the Nova Scotia School of Fisheries at Pictou. I would like to ask the minister to tell me the number of classes that are being held this fall and the number of students that are there?



HON. JAMES BARKHOUSE: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite raises a very important question. The Pictou school, which is in his region, has been there for nearly 50 years. The programs are still ongoing. There are many, many programs being delivered at the present time, pretty near to full capacity, but we also have programs going on in Canso with respect to aquaculture and we have other navigation courses being given throughout the province. So in addition to the work and the number of classes that are taking place at the school, there are many taking place throughout the province with respect to teaching navigation, safety and GPS courses through federal agencies. The number of students at any one time in the school is not quite illustrating the actual number of people taking part in the program because they are scattered throughout the province with the mobile delivery of our program. So it is difficult to give you an exact number of students that are actually in the school because our program is covering other regions of the province at the same time.



MR. MCINNES: I thank the minister for that answer. Could the minister tell us what the plans are for the winter programs? Those programs that are being offered at Canso and whatever are being run from the fisheries school in Pictou?



MR. BARKHOUSE: At the present time the project manager course that is being given there is one for developing river restoration and programs like that. Aquaculture mentorship is a program that is being delivered at the school and from there the students go out and work in a cooperative nature with farm operators throughout the province. We also have the safety courses taking place.



For the beginning of the year, and the member opposite may not be aware of the process, the changes that have taken place in the delivery of training with the sponsorship of federal agencies, particularly the employment insurance program has now changed and so the school must bid on all its contracts. We will not know until the beginning of January which actual courses will be delivered until we are the winners of the competitive bids. We are competing with the community colleges, with the private sector, in delivering programs under RITC, which is a very important delivery mechanism.



We also have programs and bids to the Inuit community. Again, we will not have certainty of that information until the bids have been called and the contracts have been awarded. But we do look forward to being filled to capacity in the Pictou school. It is likely that we will not have enough space if many of the contracts that we have bid on come to fruition.



MR. MCINNES: Mr. Speaker, I would just say to the minister that I think it is important that you pursue the proper people in regard to having these classes because it plays an important role in Pictou, the fact that they are having classes there. I ask the minister to pursue it very carefully and follow up on it.



MR. BARKHOUSE: I am very grateful that the member opposite has raised this question because our fisheries school is a requirement under the Fisheries Act for the Department of Fisheries to supply training to people from the rural parts of Nova Scotia and to other government services. At the present time our staff are delivering quality service. As I say, it is an institution that has been there for 50 years and 1996 will be the 50th Anniversary. I think the performance of the instructors and the management is to be commended because the difficulties in training people in large classes but with many various backgrounds and the importance of that is very significant to the fishing industry. We have been able to maintain quality standards. For example, Nova Scotia's fishing industry produces 33 per cent of our exports. I think it is commendable that the school has carried out its job well over the last 50 years. Thank you.



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



HEALTH - OXYGEN: FREE - PROG.



MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I would like to direct a question through you to the Minister of Health. The case of Jack Hughes has been brought to our attention lately, a gentleman who is suffering from pulmonary fibrosis, a gentleman from Maitland, Lunenburg County. This particular case indicates a problem that exists in the Province of Nova Scotia, that is the availability of free oxygen for people at home who require it. Upon investigation we have learned that, in fact, there is a real patchwork of provision of this service across the province.



I would like to ask the minister, given the fact that a pilot project was set up in Halifax, given the fact that a province-wide nursing home oxygen program was started all the way back in 1991, what is holding up the minister and his department, in terms of developing and putting into place a province-wide free oxygen program?



HON. RONALD STEWART: Mr. Speaker, the honourable gentleman opposite brings up a very important issue, that is the standard province-wide program in home oxygen provision for many people who need it. In fact, the patchwork arrangement to which the honourable gentleman opposite refers, has developed over the last decade, in terms of the hospitals providing the service. It was an ad hoc arrangement, in fact it was an arrangement that although it reached more than half of the population, that simply occurred because the original pilot project was here in Halifax in the metro area. So my department is examining a regional based system that will be set up and there is every hope to complete that within the next several months. We have been looking specifically at the role that home care can play in this as well as the hospitals and the regional health boards.

So the honourable gentleman brings to the floor of this House a major issue that is being addressed as expeditiously as possible in terms of the many different forms of current provision of service that exists now in the province.



MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, again, I think, the case of Mr. Hughes indicates what a significant hardship it can be if someone is in need so clearly of a 24 hour oxygen service and has to pay for that service. I would like to ask the minister if this government is going to ensure that a service as important as oxygen to be provided to patients, and particularly in their home, will be in fact provided free as are much more expensive service such as dialysis?



DR. STEWART: Mr. Speaker, again the honourable gentleman opposite and I have no differences in terms of the importance of a particular medication. It is a question of how the system can be put in place that is sustainable and that is what we are in fact aiming for, a sustainable, easily accessible system and we are bringing into play some of the recent changes that have occurred in terms of home care and other reforms that have occurred.



So, I would again agree with him that this is an area that needs revision and we are, in fact, in the process of revising it.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member has 30 seconds left.



MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask the minister in my final supplementary, given the fact that we, I believe, are only one of two provinces in this country that does not provide free oxygen services, will the minister give a commitment here in this House today that before the end of the year, a program will in fact be put into place? I understand that the Lung Association of Nova Scotia has put a proposal forward. Will the minister give us an indication that in fact this program will start before the end of this year?



DR. STEWART: Mr. Speaker, I couldn't give that undertaking. It is only three weeks. However, I would give him the undertaking that this is very seriously being worked at on the departmental level, as well as the regional level, and it is one of the examples of the patchwork nature of our system. I recognize this and have recognized it for some time. We must correct the underlying problems, we must make sure that it is a sustainable system and I, with him, would pledge our efforts to do that.



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



The honourable Deputy Government House Leader.



MR. ALLISTER SURETTE: Mr. Speaker, before we proceed to Government Business, may I be permitted an introduction? Through you, and to all members of the House, I would like to introduce to you, two distinguished members from the Municipality of Argyle seated in your gallery who are in town today for a meeting later on. The Warden, Eugene Doucette and Deputy Warden, Aldric D'Entremont, and I would ask that the House give them the usual welcome. (Applause)





GOVERNMENT BUSINESS



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Deputy Government House Leader.



MR. ALLISTER SURETTE: Mr. Speaker, I move that you do now leave the Chair and that the House resolve itself into the Committee of the Whole House on Bills.



MR. SPEAKER: The motion is carried.



[1:29 p.m. The House resolved itself into a CWH on Bills with Deputy Speaker Mrs. Francene Cosman in the Chair.]



[2:45 p.m. CWH on Bills rose and the House reconvened with Deputy Speaker Mrs. Francene Cosman in the Chair.]



MADAM SPEAKER: The Chairman of the Committee of the Whole House on Bills reports:



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



Bill No. 33 - Internal Trade Agreement Implementation Act.



Bill No. 41 - Truro Curling Club (1995) Act.



Bill No. 42 - LaHave River Valley Heritage Association Act.



Bill No. 44 - Motor Vehicle Act.



Bill No. 45 - Brookside Cemetery Corporation Act.



Bill No. 46 - Kings County Development Charge Act.



and the chairman has been instructed to recommend these bills to the favourable consideration of the House, each without amendment.



MADAM SPEAKER: Ordered that these bills be read for a third time on a future day.



The honourable Deputy Government House Leader.



MR. ALLISTER SURETTE: Madam Speaker, would you please call the order of business, Public Bills for Second Reading.



PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING



MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable Deputy Government House Leader.



MR. ALLISTER SURETTE: Madam Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 53.



Bill No. 53 - Marketable Titles Act.



MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Municipal Affairs.



HON. SANDRA JOLLY: Madam Speaker, I am very pleased to make a few statements on Bill No. 53, as I move second reading. Bill No. 53 is the Marketable Titles Act which, I think, is an extremely important piece of legislation for the Province of Nova Scotia. Bill No. 53 will help all Nova Scotians by increasing the certainty of title to land. The essential purpose of this bill is to bring certainty to the law respecting marketable titles and tax deeds, where confusion and unpredictability exists now. The bill addresses two issues that have reduced certainty of title, delayed property transactions and compelled property owners to engage in expensive court proceedings to validate their titles.



The first issue is the appropriate number of years for a title search. Courts have tendered to increase the length of the required title search. Under the present system, a search for at least 60 years seems essential. Some people have suggested that the only way to be sure about your title is to go back more than 200 years to the original Crown grant. The longer the research period, the more expensive.



Madam Speaker, this bill fixes the title search period at 40 years, the period used in the other provinces with this kind of legislation. A marketable title must have a starting point and a registered document at least 40 years old. The bill does not eliminate any legal interest in land, however old, except for some older, unregistered interests. This kind of interest most often arises on intestate; the bill provides a method of protecting those interests with a registered notice.



The second issue that the bill addresses, Madam Speaker, is tax deeds. For many years, Nova Scotians believed and relied on tax deeds as a good source of title. The law has shifted so dramatically that tax deeds have become very unreliable title documents. The bill brings the law on tax deeds back into balance. It provides that after six years, a tax deed cannot be challenged for any reason except fraud, or if it includes land that was assessed to someone else. This gives a person the existing year to redeem a property after a tax sale and six more years to challenge a tax sale for reasons now allowed by the courts. Any right to sue for damages for wrongful sale is preserved. After six years, unless there was a double assessment or fraud, a title that includes a tax deed would not be open to challenge.



Madam Speaker, the bill does not apply to highways, easements and rights-of-way for utilities or individual's rights-of-ways that are in use, or incumbrances acknowledged in a deed in the chain of title. This proposed legislation has been developed with the ongoing involvement of a consultation with the Nova Scotia Barristers' Society which, because of its membership's familiarity with the hardship that lack of certainty in this area of property law causes, has been a very valuable source of assistance. I would just like to thank the Nova Scotia Barristers' Society because they have been quite helpful in addressing this issue and have brought forth good representation, I believe, to all members of this House.



Madam Speaker, we have also heard from many members of the public who have experienced the kind of problems that this bill is intended to address. I do not believe that the legislation of this nature will find serious objections in principle in any quarter. This bill will help all property owners by increasing the certainty of their title and that is very important in the province. This bill will also reduce the cost of conveying and holding property and make Nova Scotia a better place to do business and that is equally, as well, as important to the government and, I am sure, to all members in this House. So I will take my place and I will move second reading of Bill No. 53.





MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Citadel.



MR. TERENCE DONAHOE: Madam Speaker, I would like to make a few remarks relative to Bill No. 53 and I can say to the Minister of Municipal Affairs at the outset that my remarks will be positive ones because I do believe that this is a very important piece of legislation. As I know she knows and I trust that all other members know, it shouldn't be considered to be a "lawyers" issue because it isn't. The whole question of marketable title and the impact and legal implications of tax deeds and the like are issues that lawyers address not because they want to address them but because they have real live clients who have legal problems relative to real estate which require resolution.



The public complains to lawyers about the law and the legal system and not to politicians. When they are advised by their lawyers that the title to their property may not be marketable, they are upset with the lawyers but they are equally upset with those of us who make the laws. It is for this reason, since most of the complaints seem to sit in the law office, that is explanation as to why we, as politicians, don't always or often hear about the concerns which the legislation raises.



The registry system of land here in the Province of Nova Scotia was really adopted from that established in Massachusetts where it was introduced back in the 1600's, when you were a new practitioner and just getting started with your law practice. In fact, as an historical note, my understanding is that our registry system was passed as the second bill of the first session of our province's Legislature in 1758. This is a registration system which goes back an awful long way and one which, as the minister has rightly pointed out, has needed overhaul for some considerable time.



Our system here in this province is name-based, as opposed to land-based as in a land title system. Every time a property changes hands, the status of its title history, what the lawyers talk about, its chain of title, must be, unfortunately, manually constructed from the records at the Registry of Deeds. As the minister has rightly pointed out, such a search may take hours or indeed days. Because our system is name-based, if a large tract of land is involved and a land developer is perhaps selling a lot out of a subdivision, every single document relating to the piece of land from which the piece is being carved out has to be addressed, assessed and searched and the present law requires that we go back those 60 years.



All those of us who have practised any degree of real estate law have got into the situation where, as I have just indicated, trying to trace back the ownership of, for the sake of example, a 200 acre plot of land from which a small piece is being carved out, can be gruesomely complex and difficult. In fact, because of failings in our registry system and the fact that there are misses, blanks, hitches and glitches, it is very often the case that a lawyer wanting to provide the very best of service to his or her client is hesitant and sometimes reluctant and, indeed, sometimes refuses to offer his or her certificate of title simply because the chain of title, so called, is suspect.



In practice, searches are - this is not a good practice but it is, in fact, unfortunately the practice with some, in fact title searches are - sometimes conducted only back to the first warranty deed 60 or more years old in the chain of title, since a title is generally considered to be good and marketable. That means, of course, that every document that an owner of land has received or given must, in that subsequent or ensuing 60 years which has been given or received, must be reviewed and found and summarized and manually placed in a context to recreate a history of the ownership of the piece of land. That is the case and that is what the legal profession of the province has to do every single time even the very smallest of pieces are carved out of my hypothetical 200 acre system.



So in the mid-1700's the Legislature of our province, Mr. Speaker, as I am sure you are aware, recognized the registry system as the modern system of its day and it was then adopted. Searching a title in 1790 in the Province of Nova Scotia wasn't really terribly difficult because its roots could easily be traced back to the Crown grant which, in 1790, was only a relatively short time prior to the start of the search. But many years have intervened and many complexities relative to laws that relate to conveyancing and subdivision regulation and other things have intervened, so things have changed very greatly.



It is interesting to note, I think, that some other jurisdictions developed a land title system as far back again as the 1840's; that land title system approach was developed in Australia as the modern system which was believed at that time in Australia that that system would bring certainty into the land ownership. Under that land title system the government maintains records of the current land ownership of every single lot and the government itself certifies title to purchasers and to mortgagees.



The western Provinces of Canada introduced a land titles registration system in the 1870's. Then in 1960, just to put our archaic reality into a context somewhat closer to home, in Ontario they introduced legislation similar to the legislation which is now proposed here. Although there is apparently even now in Ontario a new wrinkle being developed in that they are in the draft legislation stage, shortening the timeframe from the 40 years to 20 years. In the 1960's Ontario introduced a land titles registration process for new subdivisions.



Then, even closer to home and more recently, in 1974, Prince Edward Island introduced the Investigation of Titles Act, similar to our proposed legislation here, as a means of bringing certainty back to the system. New Brunswick has adopted the land title system and provided for a transition process, Mr. Speaker, to add counties to the system over time.



So, as the minister has alluded and as I have discovered in my analysis of these issues and my conversations and consultations with the Bar Society and others, the question, of course, faced with our very archaic system here, the question is asked, what is the solution for the problem which we had to and have to, at this point, deal with and encounter here in the Province of Nova Scotia.



[3:00 p.m.]



So for good or for bad, and I think it is a reasonable approach, marketable title legislation was settled upon as a reasonable alternative to a land title system which will not solve all the problems but it will have the effect of introducing a framework of certainty and it will restore, and this is really the fundamental issue and the minister again alluded to it in her remarks, it will restore the ability of owners, mortgage lenders and investors to obtain a legal opinion as to the marketability of their title and, again, as important as are all those things, to be able to have that information at what all of us would consider to be more or less a reasonable cost.



I think there is merit to this legislation. I think it has a couple of positive advantages for the province as a whole, frankly. I am not going to make too many critical remarks about the fact that in my opinion the Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency has yet to demonstrate that he has been a world leader, as far as attraction of economic activity and the creation of new wealth in the province. But that little shot aside, I am prepared to believe that he and the Minister of Municipal Affairs and others are legitimately interested - whether they are able to do it remains to be seen - in attracting economic growth and development and creation of new wealth to the Province of Nova Scotia. Frankly, I think the change that we make here relative to our land laws is a positive factor and feature in that regard.



There is no question, as all of us in this place will know, construction very much stimulates growth and economic activity. If construction is facilitated by reason of a less complex and more efficient and a less expensive land registration and land search or chain of title search process, then that will go some way, I think, to stimulate that growth and economic activity.



It has always been a problem, or until recent times, yes, I guess even until current times, we have had some difficulty in rural Nova Scotia, as all members will be aware, particularly those who represent rural ridings, because rural Nova Scotia has, more so than urban and suburban Nova Scotia, had a history of a more difficult and uncertain land titles system. The system was the same but the approach to life and the approach, particularly in somewhat historic times, to thinking it important or essential or even relevant to place deeds, be they warranty or quit claim or whatever, on the Registry of Deeds, or to take out probate in the event that there was real estate held by a deceased at the time of his or her death, that sort of thing was, in many rural communities in Nova Scotia, not really taken as seriously or not felt to be nearly the significant issue that it was by many in urban Nova Scotia. So as I am sure the lawyers in this place will agree, very often a title search and the elusive search for that chain of title in rural Nova Scotia very frequently was sometimes like looking for a needle in a haystack.



Land in Nova Scotia is a very valuable resource. As the old saying goes, the Good Lord ain't making any more of it, so those in this place who are blessed with ownership to land have access and ownership to a very valuable resource and, as I have said, there isn't any more being produced, so it is extremely important and it is a very valuable resource.



Unfortunately, sometimes that resource is pretty stagnant in many places in the province and the registry system, as again the lawyers in this place would attest, I think, the registry system frequently precludes the sale and development of that land simply because of hitches and glitches and omissions in the chain of title.



Investment in Nova Scotia, almost invariably it is almost impossible to think in terms other than some service industries and maybe some high-tech industry, it is almost impossible to think of economic development initiatives which don't in one way, shape or form, involve a piece of real estate. Even an organization which proposes to move into software development has to have a place to do that. They are not going to do it out on a street corner, so they are going to do it in some building. So when we get into even working out a lease arrangement, let alone a purchase of the building, the title to the land and the assurance by solicitors acting for those - who, in my hypothetical, would be running a software development company - would certainly want to know that the landlord has title and is the right person with whom they should be executing a lease and so on.



So, there is little or nothing that can be done in this province, by way of economic development, that does not in some way, shape or form, and to some extent, bear on the question of ownership and title to land, its sale, its lease and its development and so on.





That reality, I think, requires that in our province we have a clear set of rules and the rules, under which we all function today are not really very clear at all and I say, in all honesty, I believe that the legislation which we have before us, sets before not only the legal community of this province but every Nova Scotian, be they an owner of property at this point or not, a much clearer framework relative to real estate ownership. As I said a moment ago, it is going to - I think, I hope, and this will be a function of a sensitive and enlightened professional bar - it will result in the application and implementation and use of the system being rather more affordable for all Nova Scotians.



The legislation will provide a yardstick of at least 40 years for the determination of marketable title. It will provide for a system of filing verification - which I think in the legislation is referred to as a notice - at the Registry of Deeds to preserve interests in land which are created by interests outside of that 40 year period, and it will preserve ownership interest in land outside the 40 year window if the owner is shown continuously on the records of the registry as the owner of the land, with no requirement that that owner file a notice to preserve that interest.



It is important, not only when we talk about legislation to be aware of things which legislation will actually do, but I think to understand it appropriately, sometimes it is equally important for us to understand, on occasion, what certain pieces of legislation will not do. In that respect, relative to this bill, under the heading of what will this legislation not do, I think if is fair to say that it will exclude certain interests which are specified in the proposed legislation. It would parallel title situations, it will still require court resolution, as under the present regime of the registry system. It will not, I might say, unfortunately, eliminate the manual examination and physical reconstruction of the history of land ownership each time a property is sold or mortgaged as in a land title system. At least, it provides a shorter, less time-consuming and less expensive search.



Now, I have no doubt that before she finishes her time as Minister of Municipal Affairs, this minister will undoubtedly, in this age of high-tech and computerization, have the land titles system. It will probably be handled through the Internet, CD-ROM and all of the imaginable technology that is available to us these days. I even have visions someday of being able to crank up the right keys on the keyboard and finding the title to the minister's property on Much Music, or something. (Laughter) I know she will move in that high-tech way and that we will get into the 21st Century very quickly.



I think it is also fair to say that there are a couple of, perhaps, deficiencies in any system but there are fewer, as I read this legislation and in my consultations with the Bar Society and others, here than, certainly, in the existing registry system. People who have an unrecorded interest that is older than 40 years, who do not take steps to record their interests, may be negatively affected.



There will be some obligation I think, Mr. Speaker, on the part of this minister and the government as a whole to do a little bit of education to ensure, I don't mean to suggest that it is not important that it be done in the urban and suburban areas, but I would certainly suggest that a great deal of work by way of education and explanation be done in rural Nova Scotia to ensure that that is really understood.



I would not be surprised that there are hundreds of families in Nova Scotia today, sitting around with a little strong box, briefcase, file folder or under a mattress, or our distinguished Clerk, probably from his law practice, could describe to us even more interesting hiding places for documents which affect title to property. Seriously, that does happen so it is important, I think, that there be some serious effort by this minister and the government as a whole to effect some attitudinal change and education initiatives should be undertaken.



This legislation, Mr. Speaker, as I know you know, requires that ownership of land be brought within the system of publicly registered documents so that the title can be determined by a search of the records in the Registry of Deeds. If that is considered, as someone might, to be a negative impact, then it is certainly the opinion of those who are practitioners in the field that it is a negative impact that is very much overdue. It is very much needed.



The bill, which I have here in front of me as well, does have one little interesting aspect to it. If the minister might be kind enough when she closes if she might just address this for me, I think I know what is intended but I would really be curious if she would be kind enough to either offer me a response when she closes or, if for any reason feels she wants to consult with officials, she would do that.



You will note in this legislation, Mr. Speaker, that it says, and I am going to, for the minister's benefit, make reference to Clause 4(1) in the bill suggests to us that, "A person has a marketable title to an interest in land if that person has a good and sufficient chain of title during a period greater than forty years immediately preceding the date the marketability is to be determined.". No real problem with that. But, however, I then read, Clause 4(2), and question does arise in my mind. A chain of title interestingly enough is a defined term and when you go to the definition, you find that a chain of title means a chain of title as described in the very subsection I want to read now, Clause 4(2), "`chain of title' means a chain of title as described in subsection 4(2);". I am not sure of the draftsmanship of all of that. I would have preferred, and I think many others might have preferred, if you will forgive me, a somewhat more legalistic - I dasn't say lawyerish - but a somewhat more legalistic definition of chain of title.



[3:15 p.m.]



In Clause 4(2), you read this, "A chain of title commences with the registered instrument; . . .", here is the clause that intrigues me, ". . . other than a will, that conveys or purports to convey that interest in the land and is dated most recently before the forty years immediately preceding the date the marketability is to be determined.". I can guess and I will not bore the House, you, Mr. Speaker, or the minister with my guesses. I can guess as to where the phrase or the clause, other than a will comes from, when one is talking about the commencement of chain of title with a registered instrument. But what intrigues me a little bit is that the registration of a will and evidence that an estate has been probated and so on, is perfectly legitimate at a later time in the chain of title, to perfect the title, but, yet, the legislation suggests that for the purposes of the start point of the chain of title so that the 40 years can be found, is by the legislation itself not able to be started by reference to a will.



As I say, I would appreciate if the minister might be prepared to make an observation in that regard when she rises further in relation to the legislation, if she might be kind enough to comment in that regard.



Now the legislation goes on further in Clause 6, describes or defines tax deeds and defines tax deeds as, "(a) a certificate that has or purports to have the effect of vesting land that was to be sold for non-payment of taxes in a city, town, municipality of a county, or district, regional municipality, village commissioners or service commission as defined by the Municipal Affairs Act;", or it is defined alternatively as "(b) a deed from a city, town, municipality of a county or district, regional municipality, village commissioners or service commission as defined by the Municipal Affairs Act to land sold or purportedly sold for non-payment of taxes.".



Now it goes on in Clause 6(2) to say that the tax deed can't ". . . be set aside for any reason whatsoever except during the six years following registration of the tax deed, and thereafter the tax deed is binding and conclusive upon all persons and is not liable to be attacked or impeached at law by any person, and the tax deed conveys an absolute and indefeasible title in fee simple to the land described in the tax deed and is conclusive evidence, with respect to the purchaser and every person claiming through the purchaser, that every requirement for the proper assessment and sale of the land has been met.".



Then we have a little wrinkle because we have notwithstanding what I have just now read, in Clause 6(3) a court can get into the picture, as courts are sometimes wont to do, and ". . . a court may exclude from a tax deed all or part of the lands described in the tax deed that the court finds were assessed to a person, other than the person to whom the property was assessed when the lands were sold for arrears of taxes, who has an interest in the lands or part thereof and in respect of which taxes were not in arrears for more than one year at the time of the sale.".



While it is a great advance, in my opinion, this new language relative to tax deeds, there is still an interesting little wrinkle whereby an application can be made. I guess the example would be, Mr. Speaker, if you and I happen to have joint ownership in a piece of land - actually, I guess, our ownership would probably be tenancy-in-common as opposed to joint ownership, now that I think of it, in my example - and I fail to pay the taxes for a time sufficient to enable the taxing authority to say that we are going to sell your land, and it happens to be that you have a tenancy-in-common interest, if upon your application to the court you can satisfy the fact that you do have that interest, they can carve up and separate the piece of land and force the sale or confirm the effect of the tax deed relative to the portion of which I have title and preserve your title.



That little wrinkle aside, there are probably many things which one might say of a positive nature because, again, I am very positive on the question of this particular element of the legislation. This legislation restores the legislative intent expressed by the 1976 amendments to the Assessment Act and it makes tax sales more effective and efficient as a vehicle for the recovery of lost tax revenues, and it confirms the effectiveness of the tax deed in an owner's chain of title to vest absolute fee-simple ownership, and it thus restores the marketability of that title.



I, in the opinion of some, may have taken a little bit more time than they might have felt necessary to offer my comments in regard to Bill No. 53, but I think it is an important piece of legislation. I know from discussion with the Bar Society and with private practitioners that, as the minister has said, it has been the subject of considerable discussion, debate and analysis as between her and her officials and the Bar Society. I know directly from the Bar Society that they very much endorse and support the introduction and passage of the legislation. So I am pleased as a member of this place and as a lawyer to stand and extend kudos to the Minister of Municipal Affairs for her efforts in this regard and say to her and through you, Mr. Speaker, to all Nova Scotians, that this bill will bring a degree of clarity and common sense and certainty and, I think and I hope, affordability to the land registration and land conveyance system in the Province of Nova Scotia. I am very pleased to have had the opportunity to make these remarks and to support Bill No. 53. Thank you.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.



MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I just wanted to participate for a few moments in debate on this bill. I will get back on track in a second if I can find my papers here.



We have had the opportunity to speak with the Barristers' Society and others with respect to this legislation and have concluded, in fact, that it is certainly a step in the right direction. It resolves a couple of fairly serious problems with respect to title searching in the current registry system, which has become extremely cumbersome and burdensome, it appears, just in relation to the process that is followed.



Let me pay my compliments to the Barristers' Society for a detailed explanation of this legislation that they provided us with. I would be happy to make a copy available to any members of the House who are interested, Mr. Speaker. It goes into some considerable detail about the current process of title searching with the system we now have and the problems created, in terms of a lot of the issues that were related earlier by the member for Halifax Citadel, that the process goes back so far in history and you still may, in fact, lose an encumbrance that may be there that may eventually tie up a title or prevent it from being considered free and clear. It has been suggested that there are probably still many rural properties in Nova Scotia where title is still a mystery. It has been suggested as an example of that are properties that came out of the Preston land grant.



This bill is a practical means, Mr. Speaker, it has been suggested, for dealing with the problems of title and with the other question that is provided for here, that is the difficulties of tax deeds. Again, the explanation as provided by the Barristers' Society goes right through the process. They were very much part of drafting this legislation and they not only give us a very complete history lesson but also talk about, for instance, with respect to the land title system, what the solution is for the problem. They have suggested that this marketable title legislation is an alternative to a land title system which will not solve all the problems, they have indicated, but will have the effect of introducing a framework of certainty and restore the ability of owners, mortgage lenders and investors to obtain a legal opinion as to the marketability of their title at a reasonable cost.



The legislation, Mr. Speaker, as I understand, provides for a yardstick of at least 40 years for the determination of marketable title; provides for a system of filing verification at the Registry of Deeds, which is notice; and preserves ownership interest in land outside the 40 year window, if the owner is shown continuously on the records as the owner of land, with no requirement to file a notice to preserve interest.



With respect to tax deeds, I would just like to cover that for a second, if I may, Mr. Speaker. I know that I am covering ground already considered by the member for Halifax Citadel but I think it is important to understand the extreme effort that went into this effort by the Barristers' Society. With respect to tax deeds, as their document indicates, what is the problem this legislation seeks to address, Mr. Speaker, they indicate that in 1976 there was an amendment made to the Assessment Act attempting to clarify the effect of a tax deed issued by a municipality as a result of a tax sale and that effectively since that time, court decisions have dramatically eroded the expressed legislative intent. Basically now a tax deed gives no assurance of clear and marketable title whatsoever. So the intent, therefore, of this legislation is to re-establish the intent of those amendments that were brought in back in 1976, in order to clarify that whole issue.



I would just like to indicate in closing as I have expressed our caucus's support for this legislation, that the representation by the Barristers' Society was so complete that they included on various sections, who is negatively impacted by this legislation. In other words, their presentation was sufficiently open and honest that it considered the possibility of negative impacts of this legislation. I think as they have indicated and others have indicated to us, certainly the solutions provided for in this legislation, far outweigh any problems that may result.



[3:30 p.m.]



With those few brief comments and again, my compliments to the Nova Scotia Barristers Society, I would just like to indicate our caucus support and encouragement and compliments to the minister for bringing this legislation forward.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for East Hants.



MR. ROBERT CARRUTHERS: Mr. Speaker, I won't take the Chamber's time to any extent but I wish to rise to compliment the minister on this bill. This bill is one that is applauded and lauded in all areas of the practice of law, not just from the barristers and solicitors but as I understand it, from all those interested in title, including many people in the rural areas who have had difficulties in their titles that go back a great many years.



Without going through any of the details of the bill, I just wanted to advise Your Honour and through you to all members of the House, that there are a lot of people in rural Nova Scotia who have titles that have effectively been in their families for generations, much more than 40 years, and in some cases, much more than 60 years, titles which have clouds or negative effects on them with such things as dower interest, possible outstanding estate interest and some vagueness in the descriptions that have caused lawyers through the years to refuse to certify absolute, especially in moderns times when lawyers are acting almost as insurers of title when they certify them. Lawyers are more than reluctant to certify titles, in some cases even titles that are over this 60 year period that has been referred to by my friends. As a result of that, we have found numerous cases where people who all people know that the individual that has a title, there is no one else really who could move them off it, no one else who could lay serious claim to it but because of a possible vagueness and the inability to get a certificate from a solicitor, those individuals are unable to mortgage their property, unable to sell their property, feel very badly when they pass the title on to their heirs, that they are not passing a good and marketable title and that is a key word, marketable.



Marketable means that a person who has contracted to buy it, must buy it because the title is clear to the extent that it is marketable. In my view, that is very important and there are a great deal of people out there who are effected through the years that are actually shocked in many cases to find out that they cannot get a high ratio mortgage, the traditional mortgage that you deal with, because of some vagueness. In many cases it is ridiculous, we know of cases where to show this scenario to a person on the street it is almost laughable. I have seen cases where non-certification over 100 years ago on a possible dower interest, meaning the wife didn't sign, 100 years ago, that would be a very old wife today (Laughter) It is true and it can cause vagueness, the more that lawyers are being careful about cases, the more difficult it is to certify absolute.



Mr. Speaker, this bill has been asked for many times in many ways. This minister, with the cooperation of both of the Opposition Parties, who have looked at this bill, have been cooperative all through it. It is really refreshing to see a bill that is a good news bill, that we going to help a lot of people, to be passed in this House, in unity of all three Parties. It is quite refreshing, Mr. Speaker, and I want to bring my congratulations to all concerned.



MR. SPEAKER: If I recognize the honourable minister, it will be to close the debate.



The honourable Minister of Municipal Affairs.



HON. SANDRA JOLLY: Mr. Speaker, I just want to thank all of my colleagues, but particularly my colleague from Hants East because I appreciate his words. This is a very important piece of legislation to the development, to the growth and to the stability of the Province of Nova Scotia, bringing certainty to title and certainty to tax deed sales and such things are extremely important and the public will be well-served by this piece of legislation. So, I appreciate the comments that have been put forward.



The one question that the member for Halifax Citadel had with regard to Clause 4(2), using an ". . . instrument, other than a will, . . .", I will definitely check that out. But my general belief would be that somebody could will something that they don't own and if you were using a will as the starting point, or considering that to be an actual point of starting, that you could end up with trouble. I would suggest that is why the legislation says that, ". . . other than a will, . . .", it has to be some other guarantee conveyance, a document that conveys the land, other than a will, because people sometimes will things that they don't own or you could run into some difficulty. But I will certainly confirm that with my legal staff.



I have to say that my legal staff, Chris McCulloch, has been exceptional in working with me on this to get this piece of legislation here on the Barristers' Society, and I would certainly thank her for all of her help. So, Mr. Speaker, I move second reading.



MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for second reading of Bill No. 53. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.



The motion is carried.



Ordered that this bill be referred to the Committee on Law Amendments.



The honourable Deputy Government House Leader.



MR. ALLISTER SURETTE: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 54.



Bill No. 54 - Cosmetology Act.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Education for second reading.



HON. JOHN MACEACHERN: Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to introduce a bill Entitled an Act Respecting Cosmetology. The hairdressers association has been working for five years to get this bill introduced in the House of Assembly and I am pleased to be doing this today. It is in collaboration with the hairdressers association and I will just inform all members of the House, through you, the differences between the old Act and the new Act; this is the first time it has been updated.



The old Act was called the Hairdressers Act, the new one the Cosmetology Act, because they do much more now than just hairdressing. In the previous Act, Mr. Speaker, there was a requirement for a medical for all hairdressers and there was an action taken before the Human Rights Commission and a direction that that be removed, and this has been removed. Thirdly, in the old Act there was an examination after 1,250 hours plus 960 hours of practical, but that hasn't been done in a very long time. So it has just been removed from the bill, because in practice it wasn't done.



Training; the previous Act states that training can be done in a beauty salon, now it can only take place in a registered school according to the Trade School Act. Fines; the previous fines were $100; $200 for the second offence. That has been increased from $500 to $1,000.



I don't know if it requires saying, Mr. Speaker, but as I reflect on the Education Act, this doesn't mean that if you get your hair cut poorly you can fine the people. It is something different than that. There was some talk when the Education Act was going around, the Summary Convictions Act which governs all Acts in the Province of Nova Scotia, there was some suggestion that if a teacher taught badly they would be fined. That would be equally preposterous to suggest that a bad haircut would result in a $500 to $1,000 fine. Although I have seen some haircuts worn by some people that might justify that. (Laughter) I am not mentioning anyone in this House; none of them, I don't mention that.



Mr. Speaker, previously there was an examining board and now it is called the Provincial Examining and Licensing Committee. Again, as I said, this has been brought up-to-date in consultation and collaboration with the hairdressers association, and the name of that association will be changed to indicate the wider range of things that are done.



Anyway, Mr. Speaker, I move second reading of this bill and I look forward to questions from members of the House. I would be pleased to answer those questions and, if I don't have them immediately, I will get them for members of the House.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Citadel.



MR. TERENCE DONAHOE: Mr. Speaker, my intervention will be a brief one. There is a principle established in this bill in Clause 6 to the effect that nobody is allowed to operate a place of business where cosmetology, which is a defined term, ". . . unless that person holds a license to practise as a general cosmetologist or employs at that place a person who holds such a license.", and "No person shall practise cosmetology in a residence unless the practice is carried on in a room or rooms that are used exclusively for . . ." that purpose.



My understanding is that representations were made to the minister relative to that provision, in particular the principle which the hairdressers, now cosmetologists, were urging upon the minister, which appears to be absent in the bill, was that there be a role and a function for the provincial office of the association, under appropriate by-laws, to have some impact on the licensing process. That appears to be missing.



I know we will have a chance at Law Amendments Committee and at other stages of debate to address that but I wanted to simply put it on record that there appears to be a deficiency, at least as far as certain representations made by the association relative to that particular principle.



Further, there is a principle established in this bill that there is to be an examining and licensing committee, and it is given a name, the Provincial Examining and Licensing Committee in Clause 12(1) of the bill, and I don't want to get into clause by clause, of course. It describes who shall comprise that committee and so on.



Again, the association, as I understand it, and I trust my information is accurate, representations were made to the minister that the association felt it would be appropriate and perhaps a greater protection to the consuming public - I don't know what it would do for haircuts - that the members of the licensing committee, rather than as set out in the legislation, be licensed cosmetologists appointed by Governor in Council and others elected by the membership of the association, that rather, those persons appointed not be owners of schools or instructors in schools of cosmetology. They may be licensed but the suggestion was that they not be actively owning or instructing at the time they are a member of the licensing committee, acting as owners or instructors in ongoing schools of cosmetology.



I simply raise that issue with the minister as well. I raise it simply on the basis that the issue was raised with me and I would appreciate, as the bill proceeds through the various stages of review and debate here in the House, that the minister might be able to respond or comment, if not here then on second reading, then as we address the matter at Law Amendments Committee, and/or back in Committee of the Whole House.



Aside from those remarks, I can say that in my dealings with the hairdressers association and their spokespersons, which I have had, by the way, over the last couple of years because, as the minister will know, and he may have acknowledged in my absence of a moment or two ago, as he moved second reading, the hairdressers association for the last couple of years has been seeking legislation of the kind which we now have before us. So with those brief remarks, I think the legislation certainly has merit. It might be a better piece of legislation, at least as far as the association is concerned, if there is some modest refinement of the committee structures, but other than that, I think the bill has merit and I would be pleased to support it to move it on to the Law Amendments Committee.



[3:45 p.m.]



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.



MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I rise to participate very briefly in debate on this bill, Bill No. 54, the Cosmetology Act. First of all, I want to say that we also in the NDP caucus, have received representations from representatives of the Association of Nova Scotia Hairdressers and we say to them, as we have said already, how much we appreciate their representation. We indicated to them some time ago that we support their direction to have the former Hairdressers Act updated and brought into the 20th Century, in effect. We think that this is a positive contribution to that and also compliment them for their efforts, as has been indicated earlier over the past four or five years, in trying to bring these changes forward.



I, too, want to indicate that it has been expressed to me, as the member for Halifax Citadel pointed out, and expressed to our caucus, also, that there are a couple of changes that have been requested to Clause 6 and Clause 12. It has, the place is registered as a salon with the provincial office of the association in accordance with the by-laws and a salon permit respecting that place. That clause is not in the bill and the association, I think, has indicated their preference to have it in the bill. So, too, the wording, and are registered with the provincial office of the association as a salon, pursuant to this Act, those are a couple of points that have been brought to our attention that they would like to have changed in Clause 6.





Also with Clause 12, with respect to the committee appointed by the Governor in Council, the clarification in there that such members shall not be owners of schools or instructors of schools of cosmetology. I think it is just a question of either a perceived or real conflict that may arise with respect to those two points. Mr. Speaker, those points have been brought to my attention as they have to the attention of the member for Halifax Citadel. I bring them again to the minister's attention and submit to him, as we have to the association, that we will support this legislation through second reading and look forward to hearing any representations that may appear at the Law Amendments Committee. If it is in fact the wish of the association that this legislation be passed as it is, then I would suggest, as we have already indicated to that association, that we will support that. If it is their intention to try to have further changes brought forward, then we will work with them to try to facilitate that process.



One of the issues, I think, that they are wrestling with is that the government in the past has suggested that you are not going to open the Act up in order to make one or two small changes and so what they are suggesting is that now that the Act is open, they would like to make sure that all matters are clarified and that the i's are dotted and the t's are crossed, so to speak, Mr. Speaker. So with those few words, I would indicate again to the minister, our support for this bill moving forward to the Law Amendments Committee. I raise those concerns with respect to Clauses 6 and 12 and encourage the minister to consider the representations of the association on those matters and, perhaps, he would be willing to make those changes as requested. Thank you.



MR. SPEAKER: If I recognize the honourable minister, it will be to close the debate.



The honourable Minister of Education.



HON. JOHN MACEACHERN: Mr. Speaker, I acknowledge the suggestions made by the two honourable members. The particular person on my staff has been assigned to work with the association and that has been going on now for about a year and one-half. I will speak to him directly about the two items that are mentioned and, as I said, I am certain that the association will be addressing them in the Law Amendments Committee and then, when it returns to the House, we can see how that can be addressed. Thank you. I move second reading of Bill No. 54.



MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for second reading of Bill No. 54. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.



The motion is carried.



Ordered that this bill be referred to the Committee on Law Amendments.



The honourable Deputy Government House Leader.



MR. ALLISTER SURETTE: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Private and Local Bills for Second Reading.



PRIVATE AND LOCAL BILLS FOR SECOND READING



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Deputy Government House Leader.



MR. ALLISTER SURETTE: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 51.



Bill No. 51 - Truro Street Widths Act.



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



HON. ELEANOR NORRIE: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to stand and introduce this bill for second reading. This bill is at the request of the Town of Truro. They are participating in a trial project with the Federation of Canadian Municipalities. The project is referred to as the Farmington Village Project and it covers a five or six acre block of land in the south part of the town. It is a project that is designed to look at innovative ways of providing solutions to a more effective land use within the town.



They had a resolution that approved this draft bill as a Private Member's Bill and the effect of that would to be to allow the Town of Truro, with respect to this development only, to accept street widths with a minimum of 40 feet in width, despite the present sections of the Towns Act that require it to be 50 feet. There are other limitations that do not require legislation that they must adhere to as well to develop the project. With that, I would like to move this bill for second reading.



MR. SPEAKER: Interveners? If not, the question is called for second reading of Bill No. 51. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.



The motion is carried.



Ordered that this bill be referred to the Committee on Private and Local Bills.



The honourable Deputy Government House Leader.



MR. ALLISTER SURETTE: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Private Members' Public Bills for Second Reading.



PRIVATE MEMBERS' PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.



MR. ALLISTER SURETTE: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 52.



Bill No. 52 - Barristers and Solicitors Act/Cape Breton Barristers' Society Act.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect for second reading.



MR. BRUCE HOLLAND: Mr. Speaker, I rise on this occasion to speak on Bill No. 52 and eventually to move it. It is a bill to amend the Barristers and Solicitors Act and the Cape Breton Barristers' Society Act.



The amendments proposed in this bill have been requested by the Nova Scotia Barristers' Society after careful review. These amendments accomplish two major things. The first is a revising and updating of the Barristers and Solicitors Act and the Cape Breton Barristers' Society Act to take care of a number of housekeeping matters that the society has long wished to deal with, and the other section deals with matters that will strengthen the disciplinary policies used by the society. The second part of the bill deals with aspects of the bill that would permit the incorporation of law practices. The ability to incorporate a law practice is already in place in several other provinces, including British Columbia, Alberta, the Yukon and it is being considered in other jurisdictions as well.



Having said this, I won't go through it clause by clause, I know you wouldn't permit me but I will take my place in the hope that we hear from some other members. Thank you.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.



MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity to rise and speak for a few moments at least on Bill No. 52. I rise for one particular purpose with respect to this bill and that is the whole issue of the incorporation provisions within this bill and the fact that that provides basically an opportunity for a very considerable tax break for the benefit of lawyers. I do this not because I have any bone to pick or axe to grind with lawyers and not that I think that lawyers are among the wealthiest of the wealthy and, therefore, they should be attacked and asked to pay their fair share. Mind you, I would ask that, but I would ask that of everyone.



What I wanted to do was raise a concern about what is being proposed here at a time when governments are crying desperately under the burden of their deficits, when governments are rolling back the wages of public sector workers, cutting back in the delivery of services to people who are reeling from the effects of the economic recession that we are in, cutting tens of millions of dollars out of the unemployment insurance system, because, in effect, the government has not been able to find the ability to deal with the real problem, which is unemployment. In following along the thrust that both this provincial government and the federal government have been following since they were elected, and the Conservative Governments before them, they are attempting to address the deficit problem on the expenditure side, by reducing the amounts of money that they spend on the services that they provide to the taxpayer of Nova Scotia and Canada.



At the same time, in some instances, in this province and elsewhere, some taxes have been increased. Personal taxes and consumer-based taxes have been increased at various times, whether it is the electricity tax or whether it is gas taxes or whether it is, in fact, income tax for some earners. Mr. Speaker, there has been an attempt at various times by various governments over the past few years to increase revenue by increasing rates on various types of taxes. Again, all the while they have also been reducing expenditures on programs, whether that be social assistance, whether that be expenditures on health care, whether that be expenditures on post-secondary education or whether that be on a whole host of other items, including unemployment insurance.



This government is laying off 2,500 health care workers.



MR. SPEAKER: I hate to interrupt the honourable member, but we do have a principle here called relevance. This bill under debate is a very narrow bill. It is a Private Member's Public Bill to amend the Barristers and Solicitors Act. This does not lend itself in any way that I can see to a general denunciation of the government, let alone an attack on the federal unemployment insurance legislation or many of the other things the honourable member is mentioning. Please stick to this bill. (Interruption) Quite close, like Ottawa is to Halifax. Quite close, yes.



MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I think that it is extremely relevant, because what I am talking about . . .



MR. SPEAKER: In my opinion it is not relevant, and my opinion is the opinion of the Chair.



[4:00 p.m.]



MR. CHISHOLM: Well if I may explain, Mr. Speaker. What I am talking about is the principle of this bill which provides for the incorporation of law firms, which will enable lawyers in a group to be able to band together in order to pay a tax at a lower rate.



Mr. Speaker, conservative estimates will suggest that, at both the federal and provincial level, that will mean a loss in tax revenues to the provincial and federal governments of upwards of $1 million. My point is, the problem that I have with this bill is that it is in stark contrast, its willingness to give up $1 million in revenue, to what is being done to so many other sectors of our society, both here in this province and elsewhere.



If you look, for example, at the average income for lawyers in Nova Scotia, based on 1992 income tax returns - in the most recent data we were able to find, which was 1994 - lawyers in this province have an average income of $56,700, compared to the average income for government employees of $32,289; average income tax for government employees, $7,190, a rate of 22 per cent, and $20,248, average income taxes for lawyers, at a rate of 29 per cent, Mr. Speaker.



The effect of this legislation will basically mean that suddenly lawyers, and especially higher income lawyers, will be asked to pay much less income tax. I cannot square that decision with the decision to lay off health care workers or to lay off community college employees.



MR. SPEAKER: That may be, but the bill does not deal with those matters, it only deals with the Barristers and Solicitors Act.



MR. CHISHOLM: But it deals with the principle of granting income tax relief to a segment of society, in this case lawyers, Mr. Speaker.



MR. SPEAKER: That is the honourable member's interpretation of the matter, but it is not what the bill states.



MR. CHISHOLM: And what am I supposed to talk about if I am not . . .



MR. SPEAKER: About the bill, that is what you are supposed to talk about, the bill. Talk about the bill or else be seated.



MR. CHISHOLM: I am talking about the bill. I am talking about my interpretation of the principle of this bill, Mr. Speaker. (Interruptions)



Well it doesn't surprise me, Mr. Speaker, to hear members of this House treating this issue in a trivial manner, because we watched the way this government has proceeded through the rights of government employees and others, including taxpayers in this province. While in some cases taxes are being increased for some people in our community and, at the same time, the services are being reduced, we are being asked here in this Legislature to allow for one segment, one group of professionals, to provide for them to pay less taxes.



Now you know, again I recognize that there are approximately 590 practising lawyers who paid taxes in 1992, for example, and that there are undoubtedly a number of those who don't make a whole lot of money; I understand that, I recognize that. It is the same as any other profession; there are some who do well, and there are some who don't do well, for various reasons. But to suggest that this one group of workers, this one group of professionals in this province - in stark contrast to what is happening to everybody else - should be granted tax increases I think is unfair, Mr. Speaker, and is not at all consistent with what has been happening right across this country in light of the attempts by governments to reduce their deficits. Why would this government be willing to give up $1 million in tax revenues? Is it in order . . .



MR. SPEAKER: Please, I intervene for the third time. There is nothing in this bill relating to the matters that the member is speaking about. I don't want to get involved in the debate on the bill but it is clear that the line the member is taking is far-fetched and does not relate directly to the bill at all. One could claim that a bill was going to cause, perhaps, a plague to break out or something. I don't know that a Speaker in the Commonwealth would allow that type of debate to carry on at great length. The bill contains certain specific provisions and that is what is under debate, nothing more.



If the honourable member has any comments that relate directly to the bill, they are welcome. Other comments, however, are out of order.



MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, with all due respect, have you looked at the bill, Clause 2, which talks about, "Chapter 30 is further amended by adding immediately after Section 5 . . ." and then it goes forward, "`law corporation' means a corporation that is . . ." and it goes on to talk about the effect of that. If you look at the explanatory notes it says, "Clause 2 permits the incorporation of law firms.".



MR. SPEAKER: Well, carpenters have the right to incorporate. Plumbers have the right to incorporate. Are the rights to incorporate to be denied? Is that where the honourable member is coming from?



MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, what I am suggesting is that that right is being specifically provided here, as it has in the past, for dentists and for accountants, and what I am suggesting is that I as a member of this House I think have the right to stand up and object to that.



MR. SPEAKER: All right.



MR. CHISHOLM: That is exactly what I am doing, if I may. What I am suggesting, with all respect, Mr. Speaker, to you and other members, is that at a time when our economy is suffering and when people in all sectors of our economy are being asked to tighten their belts and to do with less, it is just incomprehensible that we would be asked to deal with a piece of legislation that provides for preferential treatment for one group of employees. I don't think it is a difficult concept.



We also have seen a piece of legislation last year in this House which tried to do the same thing with physicians, Mr. Speaker, some of the highest paid people in this province. There were a number of similar concerns raised at that particular time. It is a question of principle. It is a question of dealing with the principle of this bill and those are the concerns that I have.



A bill with similar principles was brought before the Ontario Legislature, Mr. Speaker, back in 1994. That was with respect to physicians. The determination at that point, the bill was sent out for public hearings and the decision by that government of the day when the committee responded back and said that they will lose such significant revenues from taxes that it does not make sense to make this provision available to that group of professionals. That is pretty clearly the point here.



I would certainly be interested if either the member for Timberlea-Prospect who is the sponsor of this bill or, perhaps, the Minister of Finance will get up and give us an indication of what the projections are in terms of the revenues that will be lost here. Because as I have indicated, looking at the 1992 figures, which are the last ones that we have, the fact that there were 590 practising lawyers at that time and given the average income, it works out, Mr. Speaker, to approximately $1 million that will be foregone by this government. The Minister of Finance is shaking his head. I would certainly be interested in seeing any projections that they have made on this matter, because I think that would be extremely helpful for me and other people who have raised this concern. Failing that, I would like to understand why it is that this, in fact, is being done.



I understand that there are matters with respect to legal liability of individuals, of lawyers and partners in a firm and so on, that may need to be resolved, but I, unfortunately, can't get beyond this whole idea that at a time when government employees are being laid off, are having their salaries reduced, are being asked to do more with less, lawyers or anyone else - it doesn't have to be lawyers, any other group of professionals or any other group in society - would be granted this kind of relief. I certainly wouldn't mind seeing everybody in this province, if we are going to talk about tax relief, then let's talk about it across the board, but let's not isolate individual groups in this community for preferential treatment at the same time that we are isolating individuals in asking for and granting severe measures against groups of employees in this province.



I would like the opportunity, in all seriousness, because this matter has not been addressed in any kind of open and honest way, we have not had any indication from the Minister of Finance or the sponsor of this bill or anybody else, or a suggestion that has given us an indication of what revenues the government is foregoing with respect to this, and why it is that they are prepared to do this. We fully expect, Mr. Speaker, that doctors will be the next in line, that the bill that was presented here in this House last year will be quickly along the line, and in the whole string of professionals - and I mentioned before accountants and dentists that have been granted this provision - lawyers come out at the bottom of the stick in terms of 1992 figures, in terms of net professional income, but they are just slightly behind accountants and behind dentists, big time, by $40,000. But doctors, are certainly at the top of the heap; average income at $119,000-plus.



MR. SPEAKER: Well, with due respect, this doesn't deal with the medical profession in any way. It is a bill about the Barristers' Society, not the . . .



MR. CHISHOLM: . . . $136, and the total tax payable $49,000.



MR. SPEAKER: When the Speaker is speaking, please yield. Please have the common sense to yield when I am speaking. This bill does not deal with the medical profession, it deals with the barristers' profession. Now deal with the Barristers' Society and not the medical profession, please. Have you concluded?



AN HON. MEMBER: Attend to the doctors next week.



ANOTHER HON. MEMBER: It is not 5:00 o'clock yet . . .



MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, the point I am trying to make with respect to doctors or any other profession is that we have had it with the dentists and the accountants and the government has forgone that revenue. With lawyers, we have estimated that we are looking at $1 million; with doctors it will be even greater. Why is the government heading down this road? I haven't received any explanation and I think that it is essential that the matter be dealt with.



So, Mr. Speaker, I would propose an amendment . . .



SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh-h-h.



MR. CHISHOLM: . . . and this particular point in debate on this bill, Bill No. 52, and that amendment would say the following, "That the words after `that' be deleted and the following be substituted therefor: Bill No. 52 be not now read a second time but that it be read a second time this day six months hence.".



MR. SPEAKER: I want to recess the House briefly, to study the amendment. The House is recessed.



[4:15 p.m. The House recessed.]



[4:17 p.m. The House reconvened.]



MR. SPEAKER: Having had an opportunity to reflect on the amendment, it is in order. However, I will issue this warning in advance; the debate on this amendment will have to be strictly limited to the content of the amendment. If there is any argument other than that the bill be read six months hence, it will be ruled out of order.



The honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party.



MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I hear that some people are anticipating, and I want to thank them for their confidence in my speaking abilities, for indicating at the outset when I got up to speak that this should be good.



Mr. Speaker, I think that what we should be doing is, indeed, support the amendment that is on the floor because it is, in fact, a very good amendment. What is being proposed here, we need to have some time to evaluate the consequences. It matters not if this is a public bill, sponsored by the government, or if it is a private bill that is sponsored by an individual member. The implications of this piece of legislation are that there will be a loss of tax revenue to the Province of Nova Scotia at a time when the public sector workers in this province are being told that their rights and benefits must be reduced, at a time when the government is saying that there are not enough funds to provide the basic services that citizens in this province need and deserve.



Mr. Speaker, we need some time. Maybe the Minister of Finance, in a period of six months, can do a feasibility study, can do an analysis to find out what the costs are going to be, by allowing this lawyer inc. provision to proceed. Of course that would be most beneficial to those who are in private practice, not necessarily those in the larger corporations. But, you know, there might even be an argument made that there are some measures of discrimination in these provisions in these bills that are providing opportunities for individuals, whether they be lawyers or doctors, to incorporate. Of course once we have passed this, it is one more precedent to allow doctors to incorporate.



When one takes a look at the income levels, and that is something that, hopefully, in six months time the Minister of Finance and the very capable staff that he has within his department, can analyze. It is interesting, of course, that those who work for the Minister of Finance in his department cannot incorporate as public servants. They are not allowed to split their income with family members, as if once somebody incorporates they would be able to do, because they would then be able to say that a member of their family is employed doing this, that or the other thing, and not only then is the income going to be split, but the levels at which the taxes are going to be paid could then end up being reduced.



Corporations, of course, also pay taxes at a lower rate than individuals do. So those who work in the Minister of Finance's department, who over a period of six months could be developing and doing this analysis, would know as they are doing that that if, in fact, the lawyers are able to incorporate, the rates of taxes that those incorporated lawyers would be paying at would be less than what those who are working in the minister's own department have to pay on the monies that they receive for working for the people of Nova Scotia in the Department of Finance, because there are different rates.



Surely, Mr. Speaker, we do not want to set up a system, a double standard where those who can incorporate end up, because of their ability in private business, whether they be lawyers or doctors, to incorporate, pay lower taxes than the other men and women who are working in this province, whether they be for the Government of Nova Scotia or for some private business but who are not able to incorporate and take a lower tax rate and, also, be able to divide their incomes. That is moving down the road even faster to a two-tiered type of society.



How much money? If this bill has been introduced, surely to Heavens the Department of Finance has done a feasibility study, has down some kind of a study that would be able to tell us what the costs to the Province of Nova Scotia are going to be. Are we talking a loss of $1 million in tax revenue, tax breaks that would be given to the lawyers who are going to be incorporated and be able to benefit from that? How many of the benefits are going to be ripped away from the workers who work as Civil Service employees at the Victoria General Hospital? How many of those statutory benefits that they are going to lose would have been able to be funded by the $1 million or so tax breaks that are going to be provided under this?



Is this the best and wisest use of tax revenues in the Province of Nova Scotia? Because that is what it is. You cannot tell me in this House that those who are seeking this bill do not recognize - not for all members of the legal profession - that some of the members in that legal profession are going to gain some tax advantages from this ability to incorporate. That is the driving force behind it. Just as well, Mr. Speaker, that the government also knows that they plan to provide the same kind of provision to some other professionals, particularly in the medical field, not for the ward clerks in the hospitals, not for the technicians; they cannot incorporate.



MR. SPEAKER: You are getting off the principle of the amendment here. You are getting into the medical field.



MRS. FRANCENE COSMAN: You don't know when you are well off.



MR. HOLM: The member for Bedford-Fall River says that I do not know when I am well off, Mr. Speaker, and she may be right. But as an MLA, as a member of this House, I am not allowed to incorporate and I cannot split my income (Interruptions) Not as an MLA you can't, and split my MLA salary and expenses, as another business one could, but you cannot do it, split the salary that you get from the public sector nor should you. Members should be paying their fair share of taxes and not trying to find ways to hide that so that the basic services that citizens in this province, which are being reduced, in terms of health care and so on, can in fact be provided.



I, quite honestly, based on the kinds of uninciteful heckles that I have received from some members of the government benches this afternoon, I don't really expect that I am going to receive or that my colleague is going to receive much support for the amendment that is before us. Again, it is government policy to ensure that we, apparently in this province, have several standards. They have been lobbied hard and it is more important to this government to ensure that lawyers can become lawyer inc. and receive tax breaks than it is for this government to stand up for the unemployed in this province and those who are going to be so hard done by, by the UI changes, the part-time workers, the casual workers and so on in the province as a result of the changes that their federal Liberal cousins are going to be imposing.



MR. SPEAKER: Well, I warned against this kind of diversion. Please get back to the amendment.



MR. HOLM: Mr. Speaker, my only comment as I am wrapping up with regard to the latter comment is that maybe some of the monies that the government wants to give away to their friends who are pushing for this legislation, some of that money might have been better spent being directed to a public purpose, a public good to try to help some of the families that are going to be devastated by what actions this government is supporting to ensure that those kinds of damages would be offset.



I think that a period of six months might be in order to give this government chance to do the economic study, do the feasibility study, find out how many dollars it is going to cost and how that money can be better spent to meet the needs of Nova Scotians. Within about six months, the Minister of Finance, will be coming in with a new budget. In his new budget, if this bill goes through, the Minister of Finance is going to have a few less dollars that he will be able to allocate for public purposes in the Province of Nova Scotia. If it isn't passed now and the bill is read six months hence, maybe that would give the government a chance to think of more constructive ways to spend those monies, for a public purpose rather than to satisfy the wishes of a few of the friends who are obviously pushing them to adopt the bill that is before us today. That is the only provision on this particular bill that I wish to speak on at this time. Thank you.



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



MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise this afternoon in support of the amendment. I think it is important that the House realizes that I am not speaking against the principle of the bill, what I am speaking of is in favour of the amendment. The amendment will enable that Minister of Finance, along with his staff, to take the time, to take six months and evaluate and examine. The Minister of Finance should know himself but perhaps his staff doesn't know a whole lot about the wages that barristers and solicitors are presently making.



As I understand it, many of the lawyers that are practising in the big firms and the minister can correct me if I am wrong and the member that brought the Private Member's Bill in can correct me if I am wrong but many of the barristers and solicitors that are working in the big firms are already working in partnerships and are subject to, if you will, and receive a lot of the benefits that this bill will provide for some of the lawyers that are working in a smaller practice.



[4:30 p.m.]



Now, the implications relative to this piece of legislation are far-reaching. The Minister of Finance, I am certain, has not studied as closely as he could have the impacts and the ramifications that, in fact, will be conferred, if you will, Mr. Speaker, upon barristers and solicitors.



I believe it is the honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect who introduced the piece of legislation, I am sure that the honourable member received a lot of encouragement from some of his barrister and solicitor friends to bring this legislation in. That may be the reason and the rationale why the bill is before us, Mr. Speaker. The reason and the rationale as to why the amendment is before us is so we can have the legislation examined. Six months seems like a reasonable amount of time. We are not saying, throw the bill out the door, forget all about it, but what we are saying, what the amendment essentially says, and I don't think it has been read into the record, is "That the words after `that' be deleted and the following be substituted therefor: Bill No. 52 be not now read a second time but that it be read a second time this day six months hence.".



Mr. Speaker, I am not sure whether it is on topic or not or relevant but I know it is very much germane to the employees down at the QE II. I know it is very germane to them.



MR. SPEAKER: I am going to have to rule the honourable member out of order for irrelevance.



MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, all members of the legal profession, I would suggest, are very sagacious individuals, they are very astute and they know that if this legislation goes through they will be able to split their income, if they are not already doing that at the present time. There is no question they can do that.



In closing, the member for Cape Breton South suggested that, in fact, we were wasting the time of the House. We saw a recess here called last night and . . .



MR. MANNING MACDONALD: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I would like to ask when I made that comment to the honourable member. I don't think the honourable member should be allowed to throw comments across the floor of the House without any substance to it whatsoever. When speaking to this amendment, let him keep his remarks to the amendment and never mind casting aspersions at this member. (Laughter)



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Cape Breton South denies having made the remarks and protests the casting of aspersions. I would ask the honourable member not to cast any further aspersions.





MR. TAYLOR: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, I would never cast an aspersion upon the honourable member for Cape Breton South. It very well could have been the honourable member for Bedford-Fall River who made it, I really don't know. It could have been the member for Cumberland North.



MRS. FRANCENE COSMAN: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. I would only say that surely this member can tell the difference between a woman's voice and a man's voice. I didn't say any such words. (Interruptions)



MR. SPEAKER: Well, I hope so. Now, the honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley is to speak to this amendment and not to cast remarks to the members across the way.



MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, in conclusion, I should let the member for Bedford-Fall River know that I certainly can tell the difference between a woman's voice and a man's voice but I think it wasn't too many days ago that that member was taking her place in the Chair and doing a great job . . .



MR. SPEAKER: Does this deal with the amendment?



MR. TAYLOR: Absolutely. She told us to refrain from sexist comments. So I just suggest that we all abide by her rules. Thank you very much.



MR. SPEAKER: Now, are there any further submissions to this amendment? If not, we will go to the question on the amendment.



The question has been called. Would all those in favour of the amendment please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay. (Laughter)



The amendment is defeated, apparently unanimously.



Now, we move on to the main question on the bill. The question is called. Would all those in favour of second reading of the bill please say Aye.



A recorded vote is being requested.



All right, a recorded vote without bells.



The Clerks will now conduct a recorded vote on whether Bill No. 52 should be read a second time.



[4:36 p.m.]



YEAS NAYS



Mr. Barkhouse Mr. Holm

Mr. MacEachern Mr. Chisholm

Mr. Casey

Mr. O'Malley

Mr. Adams

Mr. Brown

Mr. M. MacDonald

Mrs. Cosman

Mr. MacAskill

Mr. Bragg

Mr. MacArthur

Mr. MacNeil

Mr. Rayfuse

Mr. Surette

Mr. Holland

Mrs. O'Connor

Mr. Mitchell

Mr. Russell

Mr. Archibald

Mr. Carruthers

Mr. Fogarty

Mr. Colwell

Mr. Huskilson

Mr. Taylor

Mr. MacLeod



THE CLERK: For, 25. Against, 2.



MR. SPEAKER: I declare the motion carried.



Ordered that this bill be referred to the Committee on Private and Local Bills.



MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I just wanted to point out that I did, in fact, speak in support of the amendment and just to the heckleberry, the point I wanted to make is that I can support the legislation because I believe in the principle contained. Thank you.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Deputy Government House Leader to indicate the next order of business.



MR. ALLISTER SURETTE: Mr. Speaker, would you please call the order of business, Public Bills for Third Reading.



PUBLIC BILLS FOR THIRD READING



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Deputy Government House Leader.



MR. ALLISTER SURETTE: Would you please call Bill No. 34 and on behalf of the Minister of Justice I would move third reading.



Bill No. 34 - Maintenance Enforcement Act.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.



MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, our caucus has indicated support for this piece of legislation at other stages in the bill. We believe that the Department of Justice is working in a very positive way towards dealing with a serious problem. They have decided to adopt basically (Interruption) I'm sorry, does the member from the back there, from Colchester somewhere, want to intervene?



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic has the floor. Carry on.



MR. CHISHOLM: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Anyway, the message I want to leave is the fact is that we believe that the people working on the maintenance enforcement system that is being introduced by the Department of Justice are doing a fine job. This legislation goes some distance to correcting a problem that remained in the previous amended Act that came in last year.



From what I know of the process that is being introduced as it models the British Columbia situation, from what I understand, it is a very cost-efficient process in managing maintenance enforcement. The other model that was tested was the one in Ontario which tended to be extremely cumbersome and expensive, while it is difficult to compare, given the magnitude of the people and the sums of money that are being dealt with.



Mr. Speaker, at this time I just wanted to take the opportunity on behalf of the NDP caucus to say that we do support the legislation. We support the efforts by the Department of Justice in this matter and look forward to the system being up and running in January 1996.



MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for third reading of Bill No. 34. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.



The motion is carried.



Ordered that this bill do pass. Ordered that the title be as read by the Clerk. Ordered that the bill be engrossed.



The honourable Deputy Government House Leader.



MR. ALLISTER SURETTE: Mr. Speaker, that completes the government business for today. Tomorrow is Opposition Day and perhaps the member for Hants West could inform the members of the House as to what we will do.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Opposition House Leader.



MR. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, we will be calling Bill No. 49 and Bill No. 50 and then we will be calling House Orders.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Deputy Government House Leader.



MR. ALLISTER SURETTE: Mr. Speaker, I move that we adjourn until 2:00 p.m. tomorrow.



MR. SPEAKER: The motion is that the House do now arise to meet again tomorrow afternoon at the hour of 2:00 p.m.



The motion is carried.



We will now hold the Adjournment debate. The winner was the honourable member for Queens who submitted a resolution reading:





"Therefore be it resolved that this government recognize that their casinos have claimed at least two major victims thus far - the Truro Raceway and the Tartan Downs - which in economic and human terms means a great deal to Truro and Sydney.".



I do not see the honourable member for Queens here in his place. Is there another honourable member who wishes to substitute for him?



ADJOURNMENT



MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5)



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



N.S. GAMING COMM'N.: RACEWAYS (TRURO & TARTAN DOWNS) -
DIFFICULTIES



MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise this afternoon and speak on this resolution. Yesterday, the Truro Raceway made a very important decision. The raceway decided to suspend racing at the Truro Raceway. They decided to cut back to one day a week. Now, the information that we have received is that the track manager, Mr. Roy, at the Truro Raceway has said that since casinos in this province opened, the raceway has experienced a decline in live wagers of 34 per cent. Because the live wagers at the track have declined, they found it necessary, in fact, to shut down and it has put the Truro Raceway in a very awkward position. The Truro Raceway provides for a unique harness racing industry. There are a large number of people who are directly employed at the Truro Raceway.



Now if the Truro Raceway is going to drop, perhaps the member for Colchester North when he makes his contribution to this debate, can tell us how many are employed at the Truro Raceway. I understand the number is quite significant and he would know better than I the exact number. I hope he will divulge that number.



MR. MANNING MACDONALD: A question for the honourable member. I would like to ask the member, since I was so interested in his comments regarding the Truro Raceway, and the number of people that he mentioned were employed there, I would like to ask the member how many people are indeed employed at the Truro Raceway because I would like to know?



MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, the number of people employed at the Truro Raceway relative to harness racing at this point is quite substantial. You have people working in the blacksmith trade, people working as veterinarians, you have trainers, of course you have people like the track announcer and certainly things of that nature.



[4:45 p.m.]



The member for Cape Breton South would know that not too long ago, not too many weeks ago, Tartan Downs closed in Sydney. (Interruption) Yes, the member for Hants East is quite correct, I believe it is just for the winter or so we are told right now. Last spring the Minister of Agriculture stated in the House and I would like to read just a couple of lines of Hansard, I certainly will table Hansard, I don't think it will be necessary, but should it be required. We had asked the Minister of Agriculture some questions about the Nova Scotia Horse Racing Commission. The Minister of Agriculture told us, "One other thing I wish to point out is with the maritime task force that was appointed by the Maritime Premiers, one gentleman that was forgotten was Arthur Porter, who also sat on the commission. In terms of promoting the harness racing industry, one very critical and crucial objective of this new commission is to promote this industry that certainly has gone through bad times over the years. Part of the new mandate for this commission is to promote the harness racing industry and maybe some day we will have, again, another track here in the metro area.".



Now, the Minister of Agriculture made those statements back on Tuesday, May 3, 1994 and I am sure the Minister of Agriculture made that statement in hope that, in fact, we would have a new track here in metro. The fact of the matter is Sydney has closed for the winter months a couple of weeks ago and Truro has essentially had to cut its business back 50 per cent. We are very concerned about the harness racing industry in this province because we are seeing our raceways disappear in this province.



I also have a report to the Council of Maritime Premiers from the Maritime Harness Racing Task Force and I certainly can table this report too. The Minister of Agriculture, when he brought in his legislation aimed at turning around the recent decline in Maritime harness racing, he brought that legislation in, in hopes of protecting and saving the industry. In spite of the Minister of Agriculture's efforts which I commend him for coming in with the legislation and that legislation he amended was the Maritime Provinces Harness Racing Commission Act. Nonetheless, we are finding out that because casinos have been established in this province, it is forcing many of our harness racing operations to either close or certainly downsize.



The Official Opposition suggested time and time again that it was imperative and incumbent upon the government to do some socio-economic study before they implemented casinos. If the government had had the foresight and the wherewithal and the attitude to do a socio-economic study, perhaps some of these ramifications that small communities and towns like Truro are suffering, would not be happening.



The Maritime Premiers, whose intentions were very good, they had a plan that would enable businesses that were in the harness racing business to stay in business, so to speak. Another factor that we have to look at is the teletheatre, the simulcasting now that is going on. There is rebroadcasting and live broadcasting taking place at many locations in the province. Of course, we all know that one of those locations is right over in Dartmouth and in fact, a well connected Liberal is running that operation but I can't help but wonder if simulcasting is not having an adverse effect on the live wagering and we are talking about live wagering because yesterday the decision was made.



Harness racing is in decline in the Maritimes and for several reasons. Mr. Speaker, casinos are a major concern and . . .



MR. MANNING MACDONALD: On a point of order, the member from wherever, over there, the honourable . . .



MR. SPEAKER: Member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.



MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Colchester-Musquodoboit, it is a long name, made reference to a gentleman running an independent operation, the Teletheatre, I would just like to inform the member and the other members of the House that that is an operation controlled and operated by the Truro Raceway. They have just expanded their operations into various locations throughout metro Halifax and that location he mentioned happens to be one of them. That gentleman is not operating independently, that gentleman is operating for the Truro Raceway.



MR. SPEAKER: Well, be that as it may, the honourable member's time is just about up. We will give you one more minute and then go to the next speaker.



MR. TAYLOR: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I know that the Truro Raceway manager is looking at the effects of simulcasting. I never suggested that simulcasting was the reason why the Truro racetrack shut down. What I am saying is that casinos have played a very significant part in closing down the Truro Raceway to an operation now that today is less than 50 per cent of what it was yesterday. That is the point I am making.



It is a reason to be concerned because that industry provides a lot of jobs to the economy of rural Nova Scotia. Thank you very much.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Colchester North.



MR. EDWARD LORRAINE: Mr. Speaker, I will read the resolution that the member just debated, although he didn't know what he was debating.



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



Therefore be it resolved that this government recognize that their casinos have claimed at least two major casualties thus far - namely the Truro Raceway and Tartan Downs - which in economic and human terms will mean a great deal to Truro and Sydney.".



AN HON. MEMBER: Good resolution.



MR. LORRAINE: Yes, there is nothing wrong with the resolution but I wish the person who was supporting it would get his facts straight and understand a little bit about what is happening at Truro and Sydney. I have a little knowledge of both. You know, Mr. Speaker, I want to just give a little bit of history because it kind of bothers me when I hear somebody talking about something which, two minutes after they open their mouth, I soon was convinced that they didn't know what they were talking about.



Now I have spent over 30 years, off and on, connected with the Nova Scotia Provincial Exhibition and the Nova Scotia Provincial Exhibition Raceway; it is two different bodies. The Nova Scotia Provincial Exhibition Commission is the owner of the property. The Nova Scotia Provincial Exhibition Raceway is an offspring of the commission and they have a management committee, as well as they have a management committee that operates the exhibition itself. I was president, I might say, of the Nova Scotia Provincial Exhibition and I also served for a number of years on the commission, so it really does bother me when I hear people saying, and according to the resolution, that there are two casualties as a result of the casinos.



AN HON. MEMBER: That's what the manager said . . .



MR. LORRAINE: Just a minute, that is not what the manager said and I have a lot of facts here in front of me. But anyway, that is what the paper said and who knows, maybe the manager said that to the paper, I am not going to question that. What I am saying is that over the number of years I have been involved in the raceway, and I am going to give you a little history of the Nova Scotia Provincial Exhibition Raceway and I don't think, Mr. Speaker, I am going to get it done in 10 minutes but maybe, if nobody else speaks, I can take 20 minutes, who knows?



But anyway, back I guess in 1973 and 1974, I was President of the Nova Scotia Exhibition Management Committee. Then, leaving that, the county council appointed me to the Nova Scotia Exhibition Commission. So that gives me a little idea from both sides of the story, both the owners of the property and the operator of both the raceway and the management committee of the exhibition.



I left for a few years and I was back and forth, on and off. After I had left, the Nova Scotia Exhibition Commission leased the raceway to an outside firm. That firm ran into some financial problems. So the history of horse racing is not all gravy anyway. Later on, the Exhibition Commission took it back, started to operate it, seemed to get the thing going pretty good, and then leased it again to a Mr. Goldberg and a Mr. Foy. They operated it for two or three years and in September 1988, the Exhibition Commission took over the operation of the raceway again.



From that day on, mind you, the economy was pretty good and the dollars were being bet at the track. We soon discovered we had to attract better horses and in order to attract better horses, we had to have better barns. We started a barn building program, spread over three years, where we put up four new horse barns at a cost of approximately $125,000 apiece, slightly more on average, but say $125,000. That was completely paid for out of the cash flow that was coming in to the track so the track was making money.



Then we went on to another program, to build a good paddock barn, the best, I think, in eastern and probably any part of Canada. That cost $310,000, paid strictly out of the cash flow, the money that the exhibition raceway was making. Then in order to get this thing rolling good, we had to upgrade the track and that upgrading of the track was $260,000, paid for out of the cash flow. That all happened between 1988 and 1992. Then you all know that in 1992, the economy started slowing down. When the economy started slowing down, so did the betting at the track. That is when the financial problems started, in 1992.



Now if you were reading that resolution, you would think the financial problems of the Nova Scotia Provincial Exhibition Raceway started in June 1995, shortly after the casinos opened. That wasn't the case. This downturn started long before a casino ever came into the province. In fact, I have got the numbers here somewhere. I might say that I did say to the manager that you mentioned, in June of this year, that he was going to have to drop at least $175,000 on the expense side if they were going to keep this racetrack a viable operation. That didn't happen. I see in the report that came out, that was one of the recommendations, to drop $175,000 in expenses.



There are other recommendations in the report that I have read. The point I am making here is that over the 30 years I have been involved with it, we have had our ups and downs and we are in the down mode right now and have been since 1992, but I think that we can come out of this. To say that this racetrack is closing is not true.



In fact, they were racing two race cards, one on Thursday night, one on Sunday afternoon. The problem is that on a Thursday night, to get that tele-theatre up, in prime time, it costs more than double what it does on Sunday afternoon to put that tele-theatre up. That is one of the reasons why this committee, the study is recommending that they shut down on Thursday night operations but they are extending it to 16 race cards on Sunday afternoon.



[5:00 p.m.]



MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: I really don't have a question but I would just like to clarify for the honourable member for Colchester North that what I said was that the Truro Raceway dropped to one race day per week from the present two days. That is what I said. I didn't say the Truro track has closed. What I said is they have shut down their operation, they have cut it back to one day a week.



MR. LORRAINE: I am going by the resolution that you are debating.



MR. TAYLOR: Well read it again.



MR. LORRAINE: I sure will read it:



"Therefore be it resolved that this government recognize that their casinos have claimed at least two major casualties thus far - namely the Truro Raceway and Tartan Downs - which in economic and human terms will mean a great deal to Truro and Sydney.". I am sure that is true.



That is the resolution you are debating, not what you have said or what you didn't say. That is the resolution we are debating.



How much time have I left? Oh, 10 minutes. It bothers me greatly, after having been associated with that raceway, the exhibition, the whole bit (Interruption)



Well, just a minute, now don't get me wound up or I am going to take a few cracks at you that you might not like. In fact, there are times when I have listened to you and I am sitting here and I know you are totally wrong in what you are saying. You put me in mind of a goose's rear end and the clapper is always open. So that is the problem that you have. You should do a little bit of research, Mr. Member, before you start quoting figures that are not true. (Applause) I don't want anybody to clap for me because I know what I am talking about and it is pretty obvious that you don't. (Applause)



On the report that was done, and I have a lot of information here that I am not going to have time to quote, they are recommending that they do reduce from two race cards a week to one expanded one on Sunday and, due to the cost of the satellite, maybe the racetrack will see the way to come out, which I am sure they will, given some time, that they will come around and it will become a viable unit again.



You know if you look at 1995 and 1994 and compare the bet at that track, in 1995 to the end of November, the bet was $10,351,948; the bet in 1994 total was $7,869,000. That is quite an increase in the bet. But where the problem is is the expense side, it is costing too much to operate the track at the present time. There are all kinds of recommendations that came out as a result of a study that was done.



Now I want to finish up by . . .



MR. SPEAKER: Actually the 10 minutes is well past and the rule can be extended only with unanimous consent of the House. Do we have unanimous consent of the House, first, to hear the comments from the member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley, and then to allow a few extra minutes to the member for Colchester North.



Is it agreed?



It is agreed.



The honourable member for Colchester Musquodoboit-Valley.



MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Well, thank you very much. Mr. Speaker, I certainly appreciate the comments from the very honourable member for Colchester North and the very learned member on this subject, that is for certain. I would never argue with some of the points he has raised.



I should ask the honourable member a question before I take my place, and I do have to leave shortly. (Interruption) I will stay to hear the answer, yes, I have a concern in my community. Mr. Speaker, the track manager at the Truro Raceway, Mr. Paul Roy, has suggested and he has said and granted, it was in the paper, I wasn't there listening, I didn't have my ear to the ground right up beside him, but I will put this question to the honourable member for Colchester North; the track manager has said that since the casinos opened, they have seen a decline of 34 per cent of the live wagers at the track. That is what the manager said, that is not me saying it.



Now what I am going to ask the honourable member is, can he say with all certainty that there has been no adverse effect at the track, relative to live wagering, since the casino has opened? Obviously, if he answers yes, then he is not in agreement with the track manager.



MR. EDWARD LORRAINE: Mr. Speaker, no, I certainly would not say that because there has been some effect since the casino opened. But the figures I just quoted you wouldn't indicate there was an effect and that is the official figures of the bet to the end of November, 1995, versus the end of November, 1994. I will go on a little further to say that had you offered to volunteer to serve a little time on some of those committees at the exhibition or the raceway, you would have been a lot more knowledgable and very much more helpful to get on those committees and serve on a volunteer basis, the same as a heck of a lot of us have. (Applause)



I just want to touch briefly and I want to let the member for Truro-Bible Hill finish up and the member for Cape Breton South and so on. Just don't think for a minute that there hasn't been a terrific lot of meetings taking place over the downturn in the economy at the racetrack. The member for Truro-Bible Hill, the Minister of Housing and Consumer Affairs, and I have met with the raceway management committee and the exhibition commission on a number of occasions. We have arranged meetings between them and the Minister of Agriculture, who is responsible for racing. Our last meeting that I attended just before I went to Europe and that was September 28th, I believe, we not only had the management committee of the raceway and the exhibition commission representatives down but they met with the member for Truro-Bible Hill, the Minister of Agriculture and the Minister of Finance, who agreed and, by the way, the racetrack agreed and responded to a letter and here is the letter that states they agreed to everything that had taken place at that meeting.



Here is the letter from Mr. Paul Roy, who you spoke about, he said, "The Board of Directors of the Nova Scotia Provincial Exhibition Commission has asked me to forward, to you, a response to your letter of December 1, 1995. The Board of Directors of the N.S.P.E.C passed a motion at its December 1, 1995 meeting, that, `We accept the Course of Action as outlined in the Honourable Wayne Gaudet's letter of December 1, 1995, which incorporates a recommendation for change, as contained in pages 50-52 of the A.T.i. Consultants report and we agree to the distribution of Insurance proceeds in accordance with conditions presented by the Farm Loan Board'. Moved by Blanchard Atkinson, seconded by Paul van Herk. Carried unanimously.".



So that is saying the exhibition commission and raceway management committee are certainly agreeing with the action that the government is taking on their behalf. I certainly agree and I am glad that the government did get out and support them. Thank you. (Applause)



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



MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, just a quick comment on what the previous speakers had to say regarding the harness racing industry. I notice in the resolution, reference was made to Tartan Downs being a casualty of the casino. I can tell you that Tartan Downs was a casualty long before the casinos were even thought of in this province and there are reasons for this.



The industry is going through tough times in this province and indeed throughout the Maritime Provinces. The problems are many, varied and beset in the industry because of a number of factors. The gaming dollar, for example, has been stretched to the limit with the casinos, with the VLTs, with the bingos, with the 6/49 tickets, with the scratch tickets, you name it, there is competition out there. I think with the horsemen, by the way, and I know that my colleague, the member for Cape Breton Centre would agree with me, that the horsemen are a very dedicated group of individuals and they are not making any money. It is a labour of love for them and I think we owe them every consideration we can possibly give them to try to save this industry in the future.



The marketing of this industry has to get smarter because there are many competitions out there. We are going to have to turn our attention to a better marketing strategy for racing and if that involves putting the best of our product forward in the tourist season and with the stake races that are going on in the province, such as the Dairy Queen Futurity and the Atlantic Sire Stakes, those types of events that attract people and attract the horses and perhaps in the wintertime, get into a Maritime cooperative venture for telemarketing throughout the Maritime Provinces. I believe that is one of the suggestions that has already been made and perhaps that would strengthen the operation in the wintertime by splitting the revenues with all of the tracks, and try and maintain some sort of viability in that regard.



But there are problems in the industry and I think that this government recognizes that. I know the honourable minister does and she is very concerned about it, and also the Minister of Agriculture is very concerned about it. I am sure that by sitting down with the horsemen to discuss these problems, we will eventually obtain the resolve that we are all looking for, and that is a healthy harness racing industry in Nova Scotia. Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. (Applause)



MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The time allotted for the late debate has expired.



The House will now adjourn until 2:00 p.m. tomorrow.



[The House rose at 5:11 p.m.]





NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3)



RESOLUTION NO. 786



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 Premier forecast that this would be a brief, uneventful legislative session, lasting four weeks; and



Whereas Cabinet's confidence in the Premier is so tremendous that the Health Minister has left the province while his QE II legislation sparks a health care crisis, followed by the Premier himself and two other ministers; and



Whereas when the Liberals promised to hold a fall legislative session, voters may have mistakenly assumed that Cabinet would participate fully in that session;



Therefore be it resolved that this House respectfully suggests that the remaining rump Cabinet consider moving that the House recess and hanging a "Vacant -- No One Home" sign on the Cabinet door.



RESOLUTION NO. 787



By: Mr. John Holm (Leader of the New Democratic Party)



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



Whereas since 1993, unemployment insurance benefits paid in Atlantic Canada have been cut by $700 million, due to a 22 per cent cut in benefits, while federally funded training has also been cut; and



Whereas as few as 33 per cent of the unemployed will be able to receive benefits if the December 1st federal proposals are not stopped and replaced by a positive jobs action strategy; and

Whereas the federal plan will place new burdens on social assistance, just as federal standards and funding are cut, inducing new barriers among the provinces;



Therefore be it resolved that this House urges the federal government, and Nova Scotia's 11 MPs, to drop this latest attack upon the unemployed and to instead seek policies that foster both jobs and effective job training for Nova Scotians and all Canadians.



RESOLUTION NO. 788



By: Mr. John Holm (Leader of the New Democratic Party)



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



Whereas by 1994, UI benefits had been cut from 75 per cent to 55 per cent of earnings, denied to those who are fired or who quit, made shorter in length with longer qualifying periods; and



Whereas this and previous major cuts failed to produce the mythical incentive to work and outburst of new jobs that UI critics claimed would result from drastically lower benefits; and



Whereas Ottawa is nevertheless planning to cut benefits at least 9 per cent, less training, less access to maternity benefits and no national standards for either training or social assistance;



Therefore be it resolved that this House condemns the cruel and pointless cuts to unemployment insurance, which will target women, youth, seasonal workers and every worker in health care and other industries where thousands of jobs are being terminated.