MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I will call the House to order at this time. I don't believe there are any introductions today so we will move directly to the daily routine.
PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS
PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES
TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS
STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS
GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION
MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Health.
HON. RONALD STEWART: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:
Whereas a new Hepatitis B immunization program for Grade 4 students was launched in September 1995 and has been a great success in Nova Scotia as we are well on our way to achieving our target of immunizing 90 per cent of these children with the three doses of vaccine; and
Whereas the first of the three doses of Hepatitis B vaccine has been given to more than 97 per cent of Grade 4 students, more than 12,000 children, to prevent the viral infection that can cause liver damage that may lead to liver cancer; and
Whereas immunizing children against infections is preventive health care and the Hepatitis B vaccine is provided free of charge and is administered by provincial and federal public health nurses;
Therefore be it resolved that this House recognizes the great success of the province's new Hepatitis B immunization program for Grade 4 students and congratulates the many people involved, including the Department of Education and Culture, school boards, principals, teachers, parents and the public health staff.
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
NOTICES OF MOTION
MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants West.
MR. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:
Whereas the Director of Enforcement and Investigation for the Gaming Commission has said that the Sheraton Casino may offer free breakfasts under the regulations; and
Whereas the Minister responsible for the Gaming Commission said, "it may be the interpretation of the regulations isn't in keeping with the intent of the government"; and
Whereas members of Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition have been speaking to the need for the three major bills before this House to have specific language and not depend on interpretation of the bills;
Therefore be it resolved that this government review the language of the legislation before us and ensure that the interpretation of the language will provide the intent.
MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.
The honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party.
MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:
Whereas the Finance Minister promised in every way possible that his casinos would not use free or underpriced drinks and meals to lure patrons away from local businesses; and
Whereas the minister has boasted that local businesses have encountered no problems or concerns with the Liberals' casinos; and
Whereas the first test of these promises, yesterday's ruling on free meals gives the casino a green light by arguing that seniors are a "new market" who have not, until now, bought meals in Nova Scotia restaurants;
Therefore be it resolved that this House urges the government to amend the casino regulations forthwith to stop the giveaways that compete directly with local businesses.
MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.
The honourable member for Lunenburg.
MRS. LILA O'CONNOR: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:
Whereas each year, for their 17th year, the Mahone Bay Founders Society carry on a Tannenbaum tradition, begun by the late Elizabeth MacDonald, to adorn the Christmas tree at Government House; and
Whereas many people of all ages pay particular attention to the detail and care necessary to make each of these Christmas tree decorations; and
Whereas these handmade ornaments will be presented to the Lieutenant Governor, the Honourable John James Kinley and Mrs. Kinley, this afternoon at Government House;
Therefore be it resolved that the members of the House extend congratulations to the members of the Mahone Bay Founders Society who support this fine Tannenbaum tradition, and thank all the many residents who generously donate their time and skills to make these beautiful Christmas gifts.
Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver.
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 Halifax Atlantic.
MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:
Whereas hundreds of concerns about the Education Act were brought forward by people from every corner of Nova Scotia during weeks of public hearings by the Law Amendments Committee, yet Liberals are ignoring most of those concerns; and
Whereas Liberals are closing their eyes to universal rejection of an Expropriation Act which means unfair and arbitrary treatment when land and businesses are confiscated and harmed; and
Whereas not one minister has explained why tax breaks for high income professionals are even on the government's agenda, much less authority for collective agreements to be rewritten;
Therefore be it resolved that the Government House Leader should have spent more time in Nova Scotia, before boasting that the public heat generated by his government's miscues had faded.
MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled. (Interruption)
The honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party.
MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:
Whereas New Year's Eve is a prime opportunity for local charities to raise funds and for local restaurants and hotels to attract business during the lean winter months; and
Whereas this year, charities and local businesses face new competition from the Liberal Government's casino, which is offering $20 in casino money for anyone who will skip other events and go to the Sheraton on New Year's Eve; and
Whereas the Finance Minister is a self-proclaimed partner in this blatant attempt to undercut others for the sake of boosting the casino;
Therefore be it resolved that this House urges the Finance Minister, as owner and business partner in the Halifax Casino, to mark the New Year by ending casino giveaways and promotions that are directed entirely and exclusively at undercutting local business and charitable events.
MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.
That notice does not claim that the minister is the owner and operator does it?
MR. HOLM: Mr. Speaker, as you know, according to the law, casinos cannot be privately owned, they must legally be owned by the province. In that capacity, the minister is the minister responsible for the Gaming Corporation and, of course, it is the Gaming Corporation that legally is the owner of the casino.
MR. SPEAKER: I don't believe that the Finance Minister is the owner of the casino but it is the opinion of the honourable member that he is. Therefore the notice is tabled.
The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.
MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:
Whereas the Halifax-Dartmouth and District Labour Council has urged that public meetings be held in the latest proposals to cut back unemployment insurance; and
Whereas the province, itself, has discovered that by August, some 20,000 unemployed Nova Scotians had already been cut off UI; and
Whereas the shift by National Sea from full to part-time work coming immediately after the federal announcement is a warning of how poorly the UI cuts will serve a troubled economy;
Therefore be it resolved that this House endorses the call by the Halifax-Dartmouth and District Labour Council for public meetings on the latest unemployment insurance cutback proposal and urges the fullest possible public consultation on alternatives to these cuts.
I would like to ask for waiver of notice, Mr. Speaker.
MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreeable to the House that notice be waived?
I hear lots of agreeds, I don't hear anybody saying No.
I hear a No.
The notice is tabled. (Interruptions)
We will, however, be debating that matter at 6:00 p.m. this afternoon in any event, because it is on for the late show.
Are there any further notices of motion? If not that would appear to conclude the daily routine.
Now, I wish to advise the House formally that the Clerk has conducted a draw for the Adjournment debate at 6:00 p.m. The winner this afternoon is the honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party. His resolution is:
"Therefore be it resolved that this House endorses the call by the Halifax-Dartmouth and District Labour Council for public meetings on the latest unemployment insurance cutback proposal and urges the fullest possible public consultation on alternatives to these cuts.".
So we will hear discussion on that matter at 6:00 o'clock this afternoon.
We will now advance into Orders of the Day. The Oral Question Period will last for an hour from 12:13 p.m. to 1:13 p.m.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS
MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.
DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Premier. While the Premier was away last week ATi Consulting released its report on the economic impact of the loss of winter service by Marine Vessel Bluenose down in Yarmouth. While listening to reports of the reaction of the federal Transport Minister, I was absolutely astounded to hear him reported to have said that he was absolutely disappointed in the results of the study but then he said, he hadn't read it.
So, my question to the Premier is, has the Premier been briefed since his return on the results of the ATi study and has he called the federal Transport Minister to explain why he would shrug off the report before he had even read it?
HON. JOHN SAVAGE (The Premier): Mr. Speaker, all I can tell you on this issue, yes, I have been briefed but I am not prepared to comment any further until I have the opportunity to meet and discuss with the federal Transport Minister.
DR. HAMM: I thank the Premier and I know he knows that it is important and I am pleased that he has been briefed.
To continue with the Premier, on September 22nd the Premier stated that customers would have to show a need for the ferry and that it would be up to them to convince the federal government to issue a permanent stay of execution for the winter service. Well, it looks like the federal minister has a closed mind on the topic.
My question to the Premier, are you prepared to go to bat for the people of southwest Nova Scotia to guarantee the winter service? If you are, how are you going to accomplish it?
THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, first of all let me say that it was my interest in the people of southwest Nova Scotia that managed to get the decision postponed for three months and it would not have happened without that. (Applause) I am not prepared to comment any further on this. The independent report is one thing but I think it is vitally important that I talk to the minister by himself and I am prepared to do that.
DR. HAMM: Well, Mr. Speaker, I hope the Premier isn't telling us that he wants to speak privately with the federal minister and then is prepared to accept obviously the closed view opinion of the federal minister about the effect of the loss of this service.
By way of final supplementary, I will remind the Premier that the report states very clearly that 793 jobs will be lost in Nova Scotia, that we will lose $6.5 million in revenue for the fisheries, if this ferry service is lost. My question to the Premier, will the Premier request the federal minister, the Honourable Doug Young, to visit Nova Scotia and take a firsthand look at this situation and to clearly understand the economic impact that the loss of this winter ferry service will have on southwestern Nova Scotia, before he makes a final decision to eliminate the subsidy to Marine Atlantic that keeps that ferry service going?
THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I think the preamble about closed views is, of course, quite common to the Leader of the Opposition. Let me just tell you quite clearly that I will speak with the Minister of Transport and then I will report to this House.
MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party.
MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I would like to direct my first question through you, sir, to the Attorney General. Recent remarks made by Judge Matheson in the sentencing of Colin Boutilier appear to show a very clear bias against women. This, unfortunately, is not the first time that the judge's remarks have shown a demeaning and prejudicial attitude against women. Approximately a year ago the judge was reprimanded, in fact, by the Judicial Council for earlier remarks.
Now the Provincial Court Act very clearly spells out that it is the Attorney General who is the only person outside of the judiciary who has the power to initiate an independent investigation into matters relating to judges. My question to the Attorney General is quite simply, why has he abdicated his responsibility under that legislation?
HON. WILLIAM GILLIS: Mr. Speaker, I didn't think it was appropriate to interfere with the judiciary. We respect the separation of the judiciary and the politicians. It was my understanding that a complaint had been filed with the Chief Judge of the Provincial Court who would then, no doubt, act accordingly.
My officials checked with Chief Judge MacDonald and apparently a formal complaint had not been filed with him so I have taken the initiative today to write to him, and I will table a letter that I wrote to Chief Judge MacDonald. It says in part; "When dealing with the sentencing of Colin Francis Boutilier, His Honour Judge Lewis Matheson made comments which are of concern to me and to a number of persons who have spoken publicly. Specifically, at page 8 of the proceedings, he said `I don't know, even having heard everything that was said, ah whether it's your own fault, or you happen to have a very sensitive mate who was easily rattled. I really don't know . . .'".
I concluded my letter to Chief Judge MacDonald by saying that "I ask that you take the appropriate action to deal with this matter." So it is in the hands of Chief Judge MacDonald. (Applause)
MR. HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased that the minister has now written to Judge MacDonald because, as well, our investigations as late as this morning indicated as well that there have been no complaints brought to the Chief Judge's office. But, Mr. Speaker, that doesn't change the matter that the legislation is, in fact, very clear, and it is very clear in that the Attorney General himself has the power under that legislation to instruct that an investigation be done. The Attorney General is the only person who is independent of the judiciary who has that power.
On September 19th when speaking on the Premier's strategy to prevent family violence, the Attorney General said, "Everyone has the right to feel safe in their own home. We will be taking tough measures . . .
MR. SPEAKER: We can't have an extensive review; please, question.
MR. HOLM: . . . to put perpetrators of these cowardly acts on notice that their behaviour will not be tolerated.".
My question to the Attorney General is quite specific. Will the Attorney General instruct not only Judge MacDonald to look into the situation, but ask that a Judicial Council be struck to look into it so that any clouds that could hang over the judicial system as a result of Judge Matheson's comments can be resolved?
MR. GILLIS: Mr. Speaker, the matter has been brought to the attention of the Chief Judge and the Chief Judge can refer the matter to the Judicial Council in the same way that the Attorney General can. I thought - respecting the independence - it would be better for the Attorney General not to intervene unnecessarily. I reserve the right at some point to refer the matter to the Judicial Council but, in the meantime, the matter is in the hands of the Chief Provincial Court Judge. Why don't we let that Chief Provincial Court Judge take whatever action he thinks is appropriate?
MR. HOLM: The Premier said, "The time for talk is over, we are now taking some very positive steps to address this issue.". That is what he said on September 19th. We have unfortunately seen the very tragic situation in Sydney and, most recently, the very tragic event in Yarmouth. The government ironically, Mr. Speaker, turned down, just weeks before the recent tragic event in Yarmouth, a request for funding for a program that would provide treatment for abusive men in that area. My final question is to the Premier. When are we going to see from his government, some real and urgent force put behind the government's commitments to zero tolerance for violence against women?
THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, let me say first of all that I was away last week when the tragic events took place. I want to take this opportunity to publicly express my condolences to the families of the victims. As a family doctor and also in my capacity as Mayor of the City of Dartmouth, I was closely involved with this issue, both treating people and, further than that, in setting up the only municipal task force on violence against women, as it was at that time, in Canada. It is an issue that is important to me; it is an issue that is important to every right-thinking Nova Scotian and it is important that we do this right. We have laid down the process.
I can tell you this - to the Opposition - there will be an announcement tomorrow concerning the appointment of people such as we laid out in that press conference that we held. We will not rush into this because it needs to be done properly; it needs to be done carefully and although I very much regret that there would and will remain incidences of violence in our communities, we believe that this process that will start tomorrow with the appointment of certain people will set in motion the kind of process at which we will be better judged in a year or two to come.
MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.
DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, a question for the Minister of Health. Last March, when the government reached an agreement with the Medical Society of Nova Scotia on a new process for managing the payment of medical services, the minister advised that $5 million worth of insured medical services would have to be cut in order to help pay for the agreement. My question to the minister, would the minister indicate if he is still planning to stop payment for some now paid-for services and, if those services have been identified, would the minister table the list?
HON. RONALD STEWART: Mr. Speaker, I thank the honourable Leader of the Opposition for the question which reflects some of the discussion of last week in terms of a list of the services that potentially could be delisted. Yes, that list has been worked on. It continues to be an item that is under discussion by the joint management committee, as I answered last week. However, it is not a considerable priority at this point. We have some legislation proceeding through the House which has occupied our time but we certainly are continuing to look at those options.
DR. HAMM: Mr. Speaker, I thank the minister for his answer. There has been a lot of speculation, when we start talking about identifying services for which payment will no longer be forthcoming from MSI, as to which services we are talking about. The minister has indicated that his department is working on a list and that that list will be forthcoming. My question to the minister is, would he indicate some of the broad criteria which are being used to identify those services which will no longer be paid once the list is made available and the process is in place?
DR. STEWART: I might say, Mr. Speaker, in response to this reasonable question that the issues largely revolve around whether or not there are procedures being done that, in fact, have no basis in terms of outcome, no basis in terms of an improved outcome by patients and we are looking very closely at medical information, health care literature, to determine some of these procedures. We might say, for example, that new technology that has developed may, in fact, make obsolete some procedures that we would have covered in the past. This is a time-consuming process. It is a process that, I might say, is a valuable process. On the other hand, we might be very careful because there is a question, and a very legitimate question, that I am sure the honourable Leader of the Opposition would raise primarily, and that is the question of access and the question of the provision of needed medical services.
We all know the issues of the definition of necessary medical services. We are, in this province, committed to providing the broadest range possible and we need to be very careful as we proceed to look at the insurance of any kind of service. It should be based on scientific and clinical data and agreement by clinicians that this might be done without impairing the broad nature of our coverage or without certainly impairing any service that could impact on the health of Nova Scotians.
DR. HAMM: Mr. Speaker, again I thank the minister. The minister made reference in his answer there that one of the criteria that will be used to determine whether or not a service would continue to be insured and paid for would be outcome. You know, that gets into a judgmental area and it well may be that there will be some differences of opinion as to whether or not the correct assumptions are being made once we start looking at outcome.
My specific question to the minister is, will there be opportunity for the public to have any input as to which services will or will not be paid for once we start down the road which the minister has indicated has occurred in which we will be identifying services which will no longer be paid by MSI?
DR. STEWART: Mr. Speaker, I would certainly pledge the consultation process in terms of the health professionals involved in the provision of service. I also would indicate to the honourable Leader of the Opposition opposite that publication and public discussion must be entertained as well, different, of course, from the past in which arbitrary decisions had been made in terms of the reduction of coverage and the delisting of certain services. I believe that this is part of the process and I would certainly engage to pledge to that today.
MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.
DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, my question is now for the Premier. The Premier proclaimed his support through the 1993 Liberal policy on women, his zero tolerance for violence against women. At a press conference on September 19th, the Premier sat with his Minister of Justice and his Minister of Community Services and said, "The prevention of family violence is a priority of this government . . . The time for talk is over, we are now taking some very positive steps to address the issue.". I will repeat that last part of the quote, "The time for talk is over, we are now taking some very positive steps to address this issue.".
My question for the Premier, specifically, Mr. Premier, what positive steps has this government taken since September 19th to prevent family violence?
THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to return once again to a topic that is of great importance to me. I can tell you that the coordinator will be appointed tomorrow. That is the appointment that I referred to. The coordinator is - and I have not had the privilege of meeting this person, but I understand that the person is - eminently well-qualified and a person who will kick start the kind of process that we have laid out in the past.
In addition there will be training programs for all kinds of people, about 2,000 court workers and these take time. In addition, there will be the opportunities for the other people involved in violence against women on the criminal side who will also be receiving indoctrination.
So, Mr. Speaker, before we start insinuating, I am delighted to put before you the facts to let you know that this government has been working on this and it has been, in addition, an approach which involves Community Services, Health, Education and, of course, led by the Department of Justice. That coordinated effort is of great importance and I am very pleased to be able to announce today that this coordinator will be named tomorrow and that the program will, indeed, commence so that we can deal with this very important issue in our society today.
DR. HAMM: Mr. Speaker, the press conference was held on September 19th, it well could have been held today, December 12th, because the first thing that is going to happen is, in fact, going to happen tomorrow. So, I would remind the Premier of that.
My supplementary on the same subject is to the Justice Minister. The Justice Minister said on Thursday of last week that he would check into whether there was some failure on the Department of Justice in terms of counselling. My question to the Minister of Justice, what steps has the minister taken to determine where the failure or lack of availability of counselling services lies in specific reference to the recent occurrences of violence in our province?
HON. WILLIAM GILLIS: Mr. Speaker, I did check and I think the question was relating to the very unfortunate incident in Cape Breton. I don't have the piece of paper in front of me but it is certainly available. In any event, the appointment was made for the accused in that particular case to go to a treatment centre. Not only that, the accused met with Probation Services, they had a good discussion on the matter and it was lined up and it was in a relatively short period of time, within, say, three weeks of the incident; given the case load they have, I don't think it was too bad. In fact, I did check, the procedure was lined up to have the counselling, it was set to go and the appointment was made and the unfortunate incident occurred in the meantime.
DR. HAMM: Mr. Speaker, by way of final supplementary, the minister made reference in his answer to a three week delay in the receipt of counselling. I have had discussions in Question Period with the Minister of Health in terms of measuring treatment delays and the minister always makes reference to monitoring outcomes and so on. In terms of the answer that the minister received, about a three week delay in the initiation of counselling service, has the minister had any specific consultation with the Minister of Health to determine if, in fact, that is a reasonable delay in providing counselling services in what was obviously a very acute situation?
MR. GILLIS: Mr. Speaker, I am not sure that the counselling involved was under the jurisdiction of the Minister of Health. It may have been a service of Health that might be supported in part by the Community Services Department. It may be a matter that the Leader of the Opposition might want to raise with that honourable minister. I notice he is not in his place but I think that might be the department that would be responsible, in part, for the funding of that particular service.
MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Citadel.
MR. TERENCE DONAHOE: Mr. Speaker, I would like to pursue, if I may, with the Minister of Justice the issue which has already earlier been raised here today. The Minister of Justice, when asked about the Judicial Council and the absolutely inappropriate remarks made by Judge Lewis Matheson, tabled a letter from the Minister of Justice addressed to the Honourable Elmer J. MacDonald, Chief Judge of the Provincial Court, quotes the offensive remarks made by Judge Matheson and then says, "I ask that you take the appropriate action to deal with this matter.".
I would like, as I put my question to the Attorney General, table now and ask the Clerk if he would deliver to the Minister of Justice, a letter in which I write to the Attorney General and indicate to him that it is in the context of these issues that, ". . . I formally lodge a complaint with . . ." the Attorney General ". . . relative to the conduct of Judge Lewis Matheson on the basis that Judge Matheson has been guilty of misbehaviour, neglect of duty and exhibited an inability to perform his judicial duties in a fair, equitable, non-biased and gender-sensitive fashion.". I ask, "Accordingly, . . .," I say in my letter, " . . . I hereby demand that you request the Judicial Council to conduct an immediate inquiry to assess the propriety of Judge Matheson's conduct in the case referenced in this letter. I would appreciate your confirmation that you will make such a request of the Judicial Council immediately as you empowered to do, and in this case I suggest obligated to do, pursuant to Section 17(1)(a) of the Provincial Court Act.".
My question to the Minister of Justice is, will he rather than simply writing a letter as he has to Judge MacDonald asking Judge MacDonald to, " . . . take the appropriate action.", will he as he is empowered and I say obligated to do under that legislation, immediately communicate with the Judicial Council as he is empowered to do and formally demand that a Judicial Inquiry as set out in Section 17 of the legislation be immediately undertaken?
HON. WILLIAM GILLIS: Mr. Speaker, I have already given my answer. I had understood that a complaint had been brought to the attention of the Chief Judge. On checking with my officials, I found out that a complaint had not been lodged. On that basis, I felt it appropriate for me, respecting the independence of the judiciary, to bring the matter to their attention. I quoted the remarks of the judge and as I said in an earlier response to an earlier question. I have just received the former Leader of the Opposition's comments, I appreciate having his views but I reserve the right if, in due course, the matter is not dealt with properly to refer the matter myself. For the moment, I am going to trust in the good judgement of Chief Judge MacDonald to look at the matter and to take whatever action is appropriate.
MR. DONAHOE: Mr. Speaker, I am interested in the Minister of Justice's answer. The minister will know that the relevant section of the legislation with which we are dealing with here says and I quote from Section 17(1) of the Provincial Court Act, "The functions of the Judicial Council are to (a) at the request of the Attorney General or the Chief Judge, investigate any matter relating to the Chief Judge or a judge, including complaints respecting the misbehaviour of the Chief Judge or a judge, neglect of duty by the Chief Judge or a judge or the inability of the Chief Judge or a judge to perform duties;". I ask the Minister of Justice to tell me and this House today whether or not he is prepared to accept my complaint which I have tabled here in the Legislature as sufficient to require him now to make formal request of the Judicial Council that a proper, full and complete inquiry and to use the words of the legislation, " . . . investigation of this matter . . .", be undertaken?
MR. GILLIS: I note that a copy of the member for Halifax Citadel's letter has been sent to Chief Judge MacDonald. You have laid out the case. I have already stated that I am going to allow the Chief Judge the room and the time to look to this matter and I am sure he will deal with it properly. So there it rests. I am sure Chief Judge MacDonald will do what is appropriate and he will have even the additional benefit of the comments of the former Leader of the Opposition, a former Attorney General.
MR. DONAHOE: Mr. Speaker, I take it then that the proper analysis for me to make of the exchange here between myself and the Minister of Justice is that a citizen, in this case myself, having availed himself of the rights under Section 17(1)(a) of the Provincial Court Act, namely requesting the Attorney General to act upon a complaint which I have filed with the Attorney General, has concluded that he, the Attorney General, apparently then doesn't really take the remarks of Judge Matheson sufficiently seriously to consider that they warrant the investigation?
Well, the Premier shakes his head. The Premier can shake is head all he wants. I am asking the Attorney General if he does not consider that the complaint which I have lodged, in light of the language of Section 17 of the legislation, is not sufficient to satisfy the Minister of Justice that the circumstances here are of such a nature as to warrant a full and complete and detailed investigation by the Judicial Council? I assume that if he indicates to me that he does not believe that is the case, that he is not terribly distressed at this point by . . .
MR. SPEAKER: Now that is beyond the question. We have heard the question, let the minister answer.
MR. DONAHOE: . . . the remarks of the judge.
MR. GILLIS: Mr. Speaker, a complaint by a citizen under the Act doesn't make it obligatory that the minister or the Chief Judge refer the matter to the Judicial Council. I know if the member would think about it, if there were some frivolous remark, just because it was directed either to the Attorney General, the Minister of Justice or the Chief Judge would be required, obliged to refer to the Judicial Council. You would tie up the Judicial Council in endless wrangling. I know he doesn't really mean that when he thinks it through.
The proper procedure has been followed and, as I said (Interruptions) No, I didn't, I said another example. If you would only open your ears and listen, you might benefit. Proper procedure has been followed. The matter has been put forward. The same member who is coming forward now, if on another occasion something else and the Attorney General interfered where possibly they shouldn't, he would be the first one to complain.
MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings North.
MR. GEORGE ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Human Resources. The minister would realize that on December 6th I received a copy of the findings of Mr. Darce Fardy regarding two requests for information under the Freedom of Information Act. The submissions were submitted to your department and it was found in favour of the applicant on both counts and it was recommended that the information that was requested be tabled as soon as possible. I am wondering if the minister will instruct staff in the department to follow the request of Mr. Fardy?
HON. JAY ABBASS: Actually, interestingly enough, Mr. Speaker, I have a meeting scheduled for 3:00 o'clock today with my deputy and the person in my department who is responsible for the Freedom of Information Act.
MR. ARCHIBALD: Thank you very much, Mr. Minister. Through you, Mr. Speaker, to the minister, I appreciate the information that you are having a meeting and so on. The question was really, are you going to ask the freedom of information officer within the Department of Human Resources to comply with the recommendations?
MR. ABBASS: Actually, I would have to know a bit more about which case the member opposite is referring to, if he could flesh that out. (Interruption) Well, there are a few.
MR. ARCHIBALD: The Page just delivered you the papers. The recommendations are pretty clear and straightforward and I trust that the minister will follow them. It shouldn't take very long, you have a copy, I sent it over to you just now. I really think the minister should be able to say yes, he will follow the recommendations or no, he won't. I really expect that the minister will agree to follow these recommendations because it is a pretty serious situation when you get the recommendations. The recommendations are that the head of the public body . . .
MR. SPEAKER: Is this the final supplementary question? I don't need a reading on the final supplementary question. We need a question. Has it been asked?
MR. ARCHIBALD: Well, it is a pretty important part of it though, Mr. Speaker.
MR. ABBASS: Well, the member is maybe a bit premature in posing this as a question in the House. This is only dated December 6th and as I say, I have a meeting scheduled today with my own deputy to cover off this very question.
MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.
MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I would like to direct a question, through you, to the Minister of Labour. I do so on the basis of the fact that it is the Minister of Labour, I believe, who is responsible for the labour relations policy of the Government of Nova Scotia.
Mr. Speaker, you and I and all Nova Scotians know that the government is undertaking and has been undertaking and will be undertaking a number of changes in administrative functions and structures within the Province of Nova Scotia, whether that be at the regional municipality level, in terms of health care, education and so on, and a number of these changes are having a considerable impact on employees involved particularly as it relates to the question of mergers and amalgamations. I would like to ask the minister if he would in fact confirm whether it is the Labour Relations Board that should be able to rewrite collective agreements only upon a joint application by the parties to that collective agreement?
HON. GUY BROWN: Mr. Speaker, the Labour Relations Board in this province has a great tradition and that is one of independence from government where labour and management both together sit down and work out the solution to the problem. All Nova Scotians are very proud of that history and as long as I am Minister of Labour in this province, the Labour Relations Board will continue to do things in a fair and just manner for the best of labour relations in Nova Scotia. (Applause)
MR. CHISHOLM: Well, then, Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the commitment by the minister which I think indicates that the policy, in fact, is that the Labour Relations Board will not involve itself unless there is a joint application by the parties to the collective agreement. I would like to ask the minister a question similar to that posed by the Labour Relations Board in a decision rendered on August 11th with respect to the Cape Breton Regional Municipality. That question was, ". . . why should a labour relations board substitute its second-hand and superficial knowledge of a particular successorship for the detailed knowledge and painstaking work and give and take of collective bargaining?".
Mr. Speaker, I ask the minister that question and ask him to confirm again that if that is their policy to leave it to the parties, will they bring forward legislation to give effect, in fact, to that policy?
MR. BROWN: Mr. Speaker, the decision with regard to Cape Breton is a decision that is now under appeal and I was very pleased that people like Leo McKay - who has likely forgotten more about labour issues than all the members in this House know today - was involved in that decision. That was the unanimous decision by labour, management and by an independent chairperson. So, the thing with regard to Cape Breton is going before the appeal courts and we look forward to that decision and I will not interfere at this stage as Minister of Labour. As long as I am Minister of Labour in this province, labour and management will be both used equally and this minister will not interfere in a tradition that we are recognized all across Canada for having in this province dealing with labour relations problems.
MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the commitment of the minister not to interfere in labour relations issues as the minister responsible in terms of the activities of the Labour Relations Board, but I remind him and all members that, in fact, the position that the Labour Relations Board took in that decision with respect to the Cape Breton Regional Municipality was as a result of intrusions by this government, through legislation, in the role and responsibilities of the Labour Relations Board. What we are talking about is not just that situation, but present situations and situations that will occur in the future.
All I am asking the minister, Mr. Speaker, is that if he and his government are committed to leaving it to the parties, I am saying to put it into legislation to make certain that it is up to the parties, not up to a third party as the Labour Relations Board has said, with its second-hand and superficial knowledge of the collective bargaining situation that exists between the parties to the collective agreement. If that is your position, I am asking the minister to recognize that position in legislation, that the parties are clear that they are responsible, not the Labour Relations Board?
MR. BROWN: Mr. Speaker, I don't know how many times I have to say that I am very proud as a Nova Scotian with regard to the management of the Labour Relations Board. For anybody to stand up and say there was intrusion by this government, then I would like to know the name of the person who got involved in any decisions of the Labour Relations Board, because I will tell you right now that that will be dealt with. I am just so pleased, as I have said over and over again with regard to the independence of the Labour Relations Board, and as long as I am the Minister of Labour in this province, I will not interfere in that process. (Applause)
MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.
MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the honourable Minister of Agriculture and Marketing. The minister will know that last week, because of increasing expenditures and falling revenue, the Nova Scotia Provincial Exhibition Commission reached a very difficult decision. That was that they decided to curtail the operation at the Truro Raceway of harness racing to one day a week. I am also of the understanding that the Nova Scotia Provincial Exhibition Commission, by way of legislation, is an entity of the province. I wonder if the minister could tell us how much money the commission owes?
HON. WAYNE GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, the member was asking how much money is owed. To whom? From the commission to our department, from the commission to the Farm Loan Board?
MR. TAYLOR: The Farm Loan Board, banks, accounts payable.
MR. SPEAKER: That might be more suitable for a House Order than for an oral question.
MR. GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, I will take that question under advisement and the information that is available will certainly be provided to the member. Information that is confidential in regard to the Truro racetrack, will certainly not be released until we have permission from the track to release the information to the member. So, therefore, the information that is available, that we can supply the member with, will be released to the member. The information that is confidential, we will certainly have to be in contact with the Truro Raceway before any information that is confidential is released. Thank you.
MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the response from the Minister of Agriculture, but I believe I read in a local newspaper where the debt was somewhere around $800,000 and, in fact, the Nova Scotia Farm Loan Board is owed nearly $300,000, and so on and so forth. But we heard last week about the difficulties that the racetrack is experiencing and we heard that since casino gambling was introduced in Halifax, that live wagering at the track has been reduced by some 34 per cent. I think we all have some reason to be concerned relative to that issue.
We also know that ATi Consulting is doing a study relative to harness racing. I wonder if the minister can tell us if the Nova Scotia Department of Agriculture and Marketing, or at least this government, is providing any funding for that study?
MR. GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, maybe to provide a little bit of background to the honourable member, the Nova Scotia Provincial Exhibition Commission did bring forth a request to our department that they were having some financial difficulties with the Truro racetrack. At the time, we approved the study to examine the management and the operation of the Truro racetrack and the Nova Scotia Department of Agriculture and Marketing hired ATi Consulting which did the study on the Truro racetrack. The study, with recommendations, was released back to the Nova Scotia Provincial Exhibition at the end of November. Presently, ATi Consulting is working with the management to help them implement some of these recommendations. So our department provided approximately $25,000 for the study.
MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, by way of final supplementary, it is my understanding that the study has reached the draft-level stage. I wonder if the minister can provide us with some information as to exactly when the study will become available for public consumption, so to speak, bearing in mind that the Provincial Exhibition Commission does have a Statute here that was assented to on the June 30, 1992?
MR. GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, the management operational study was given back to the Provincial Exhibition Commission. Before this report is released, I would certainly have to consult with this group to make sure that any of the information that is released will not be confidential business information. So, I will undertake to consult with the provincial exhibition to find out if the member can receive a copy of this study and, if so, I will certainly provide the member with a copy.
MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou West.
MR. DONALD MCINNES: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of the Environment who is responsible for EMO. Every time I ask this question, I am told that things are rolling along and to expect in the not-too-distant future that we will have the answer. I am, of course, referring to the 991 emergency telephone number across this province. Can the minister provide me today with the start-up date for this service?
HON. WAYNE ADAMS: Mr. Speaker, I believe he is looking for information on 911 as opposed to 991.
AN HON. MEMBER: He got the wrong number.
MR. ADAMS: That is quite all right. It is important you get the right number. Mr. Speaker, I didn't hear the complete question but I do believe the member is asking how we are proceeding with the roll-out of the program and the plan. I am pleased to tell the House and to tell the member opposite that last week we did circulate a background information summary as to where we were and where we were going with the program. We are looking forward to having the first region in operation between the months of January and March 1996; that is the area of Cumberland-Colchester-East Hants.
MR. MCINNES: Mr. Speaker, if I did say 991, I am sorry; it is certainly 911. I appreciate that the minister did table correspondence and I will table this for him, if somebody would give it to the minister so he can see it. In answer to a written question, the minister responded that the start-up date would be in place by July 1, 1997, and that was issued October 25th. Now the other piece of paper that he tabled in the House - I think the minister has it in his hands there - says that it is June 1996. My question is, which is the right date?
MR. ADAMS: Mr. Speaker, I believe that both dates are correct. We are talking about when we will start the program in one part of the province. There is a systematic rotation of when the program will be rolled out and we expect that, the second date you mentioned, the whole province will be fully operational.
MR. MCINNES: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the answer that that date is correct. Perhaps the minister could tell me then, where is the location for the Cumberland-Colchester-East Hants dispatch centre; where that location is and, if he doesn't know, perhaps he could table it for me later on, and where the dispatch centre is in the other areas?
MR. ADAMS: Mr. Speaker, the dispatch centres are now being worked on, that is part of the development of the program. We will all know where they are at the first of the year, because the first target date is between January and March 1996 and that will include the dispatch centres in that roll-out.
MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.
MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the honourable Minister of Health. The Minister of Health would know that at the present time some 77 Halifax County employees provide and deliver the Halifax County in-home support program. The job includes, of course, placement and going into the homes and providing support and things of that nature. Can the minister tell this House who will be providing that very important program after April 1, 1996?
HON. RONALD STEWART: Mr. Speaker, I think that the honourable member opposite is referring to a change in terms of the amalgamation of the county and its environs. I would suspect that by that time there would be no change in the current arrangements, although I would certainly check with my staff in Home Care to determine whether that is indeed an accurate answer to the question from the honourable member.
MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Health will know and should know full well that the In-Home Care Support Program is financed, as I understand it, 100 per cent by the Department of Health. The program that they provide has been going on for several years now. The director of social services with the county has been advised that, in fact, after April 1st, some new entity will be, in fact, providing that program, whether it be the Red Cross, the VON or whoever and it won't be financed by the Department of Health.
I am wondering if the minister could tell us what type of guarantees or if he will look into this matter and ensure that guarantees are in place to protect the jobs of the 77 Halifax County employees who at the present time are providing that program?
DR. STEWART: Mr. Speaker, I am not privy to the information the honourable gentleman opposite has. He infers that there is some new entity being created, that is simply not the case, there is no new entity. Home Care Nova Scotia was established here in this province and operates our Home Care Programs. I would assume that he is somewhat confused over this fact, I restate again that there is no new entity. Home Care Nova Scotia will and has been providing these services since June of this year. If the honourable gentleman opposite has indications other than this, I would appreciate him notifying me and perhaps tabling the information and the source so that we can correct his misinformation on this.
MR. TAYLOR: By way of final supplementary to the minister, Mr. Speaker. I am not talking about Home Care Nova Scotia, I am talking about Halifax County in-home support program, which is, to my understanding, a different entity altogether than Home Care Nova Scotia. Can the minister tell me then, by way of final supplementary, if the Halifax County in-home support program will continue after April 1, 1996?
DR. STEWART: Mr. Speaker, the Ministry of Health is responsible for Home Care Nova Scotia, that provides both in-home support services and nursing services. There is no exception to that. So if the honourable gentleman opposite has different information or appears to suggest that the Ministry of Health is somehow funding an extra entity called, in-home support services, I am not certain that this is accurate. I would ask the honourable gentleman opposite to perhaps recheck his sources or perhaps check with the staff at Home Care to determine whether or not there is some misinterpretation on his part or on the part of his source in order to set the record straight. Home Care Nova Scotia provides home care and that includes in-home support services and nursing services and that is the way it is. It is so in Halifax County, it is so across the province.
MR. SPEAKER: On a new question, the honourable member for Hants West.
MR. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Finance. Last week I questioned the Minister of Finance regarding the new tax on beverage containers. In information that I received from the Minister of the Environment, that 10 cents per beverage container will be applied at the wholesale level. Now the result of applying that 10 cents per beverage container at the wholesale level means that on a case of a dozen cans of pop the tax to the consumer is not $1.20, as perhaps the minister might give the impression that it is, but it turns out to be something in the order of about $1.55. In other words, the minister will receive a windfall of approximately 35 cents on each one dozen beverage containers that comes under the new regime for beverage containers.
I can see the minister mouthing the words, how come? Well it comes about, Mr. Speaker, because of the fact that the retailer bases their mark-up on the costs from the wholesaler, and whereas a case of pop originally, say $4.50 from the wholesaler, now is increased to $5.70, consequently there is a larger mark-up. Also, the GST is applied to the sale price and the sale price, of course, includes the deposit, so that the consumer is actually paying GST on the deposit, he is also paying an increase in the mark-up, which results in another 35 cents per case. Is the minister aware of that?
HON. BERNARD BOUDREAU: Well, Mr. Speaker, I am not sure that I am prepared to indicate that I understand exactly what the honourable member is referring to. I am not positive of the GST treatment of that but I certainly will take that question on notice. The mark-up which will occur occurs because of the PST at the wholesale level, presumably, and that flows through, presumably, to the consumer as well.
MR. RUSSELL: Exactly. So what I am saying to the minister is that what looks like something innocuous, like 10 cents per container for beverages, is actually going to work out at something like about 11.7 cents. Now we are selling in this province, I understand, about 5 million dozen beverage containers per annum. So if you take my math as being right, and it always is, then we are looking at a windfall for the Minister of Finance of something in the order of $1.75 million to $2 million, which is being ripped off on top of the $1.20 we are already taking out of the system. What I am telling this minister is that he is ripping off the system to the tune of $2 million.
AN HON. MEMBER: Your numbers are always right.
MR. RUSSELL: My numbers are always right, you are exactly right and I hope you are taking note of it.
MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Order.
MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Transportation is getting all excited. Well I will tell you something, the consumers are going to start getting excited when they find that in point of fact, they are putting about $7.5 million per annum into the pockets of the Minister of Finance simply because of the fact that he is putting on a 10 cent increase in the price of beverage containers. Will the minister take action to ensure that that does not occur?
MR. BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, I am still at somewhat of a loss. Perhaps I can have an opportunity to discuss this issue at more length with the honourable member, to ensure that he can explain. Maybe I am a little bit slow today but the amount of tax that is being charged will not vary, whether it is charged at the wholesale or the retail level because the deposit is not impacted on that tax. But maybe there is something I am missing. Perhaps if the honourable member wants something further and better assurance on that, he may want to direct his final supplementary to the honourable Minister of the Environment.
MR. RUSSELL: Well, Mr. Speaker, I spent two Question Periods questioning the Minister of the Environment and I didn't get much of an answer. However, he referred me to the Minister of Finance. Since the Minister of Finance is the guy who is going to be collecting the tax, surely to the Lord he would know how much he is going to get. I am telling him, he is going to get $7.5 million per annum. That is going to do something I would suggest to the cost of living in this province. So all I am asking the minister to do is to go back and rethink the whole thing right from square one and come up with some program that is going to be fair to the consumers of this province?
MR. BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, so far as I know from a revenue point of view, this is neutral but perhaps I might refer this final question to the Minister of the Environment. Perhaps he could help.
HON. WAYNE ADAMS: Mr. Speaker, I think that we should be very clear in letting the public know and certainly letting members of this House know that we are not taxing the public in terms of a deposit fee on beverage containers. It is a fee which is being used for the most part to help facilitate the recycling and the removal of 50 per cent of our waste from landfill sites. The members don't want to accept the facts but those are indeed the facts. The money is being recirculated back to the public. It is not a tax. It is a fee which is being used to service our garbage and our solid waste program through the Resource Recovery Fund Program.
The Resource Recovery Fund is an independent group of business people, separate from government and the money does not come into government coffers in any way, shape or form. It is being used publicly as it is coming from the public for the public good. I think that is the simplest way to put it. I don't think members opposite or anybody should be generating a falsehood about a tax that does not exist. (Interruptions)
MR. SPEAKER: We have two minutes left.
The honourable member for Halifax Citadel.
MR. TERENCE DONAHOE: Mr. Speaker, on Wednesday, December 6th, the Minister of Justice, when I asked him about the fact that the Honourable Allan Rock would have a committee touring the country to address some very significant issues relative to the Young Offenders Act, answered me by saying in part that he, the Minister of Justice, would certainly check with his department to get the information on the tour. I would ask the minister if he has done so, if he will tell this House when that tour will be here in the Province of Nova Scotia and will his department be making representations to that committee?
HON. WILLIAM GILLIS: Mr. Speaker, I did check with my officials and they did confirm that the Honourable Allan Rock, federal Minister of Justice, is holding consultations on the Young Offenders Act. I don't have in my head the exact dates that the committee will be here but it is our intention to make representations to that committee.
MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The time allotted for the Oral Question Period has expired.
The honourable Leader of the Opposition.
DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. On December 8th, following Question Period, I was challenged first by the Minister of Finance and later he was joined in that challenge by the honourable Minister of Human Resources. The challenge was to produce a legal memorandum to which they stated I had referred to in my questioning to the honourable minister earlier. I was unable to do so because the only reference I made to a memorandum was, in fact, referred to in a letter which had been tabled by the minister, himself.
A careful perusal of Hansard of those questions on December 7th, on Pages 4060 and 4061 clearly indicate I made no reference to a legal memorandum and I make this response and therefore I was unable to respond to the challenge to produce the document.
HON. BERNARD BOUDREAU: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker, I had no notice of this point of order, but I just got the page number and I see, quoting Dr. Hamm, "Mr. Speaker, to continue with the minister, our caucus has received legal opinions, from a Dalhousie law professor, from a very prominent labour arbitrator, . . .". Opinions, there are two of them. One from a Dalhousie law professor, presumably another one from a very prominent labour arbitrator, and then he goes on to indicate what they do and based his question on those opinions. Now I simply asked him if he would table those opinions. He says he doesn't want to. That's fine, we will live with that, but don't indicate that you didn't refer to them. (Interruptions)
MR. SPEAKER: Well, I am asked to find if there is a breach of the Rules of the House in this situation. I ask for order, please. Order. Now I am asked to find a breach of the Rules of the House in this situation and I do not find any breach of the Rules of the House. If honourable members wish to clarify their positions, they may, but I don't find a breach of order. Do you wish to say something more, sir?
DR. HAMM: Mr. Speaker, I would like to respond. Again, I have Hansard in front of me and the question clearly was to produce and table a legal memorandum. A perusal of the record of my remarks, on Pages 4060 and 4061, clearly indicates I made no reference to a legal memorandum and that was the challenge which was issued to me on that day following Question Period.
MR. SPEAKER: It appears to be more in the realm of a dispute between two honourable members as to the facts of a situation, which is not a point of order.
The honourable Minister of Finance, for one last salvo.
HON. BERNARD BOUDREAU: The honourable Leader of the Opposition now indicates that his reference to a legal opinion should categorically be distinguished from a legal memorandum. Well, if that is the case, I accept that rather latter interpretation, but I regret that the honourable member was so reluctant to share that information with the House.
MR. SPEAKER: All right, I consider the matter closed. Please, I don't want to hear any more on this subject. Is there another topic to be raised?
The honourable member for Hants West.
MR. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I would like to introduce in the west gallery, Mr. Ross MacDonald, CEO of the Elms and Mr. Robert Brooks who is the CEO of Dykeland Lodge. They are visiting the Legislature today to meet with the Minister of Health. I would ask the House to join with me in giving them a round of applause. (Applause)
MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.
HON. RICHARD MANN: Mr. Speaker, would you please call the order of business, Public Bills for Second Reading.
PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING
MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.
HON. RICHARD MANN: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 59.
Bill No. 59 - Medical Act.
MR. SPEAKER: The debate on Bill No. 59 was adjourned by the honourable member for Hants West and he had used up perhaps 22 minutes by my reckoning.
The honourable member for Hants West.
MR. RONALD RUSSELL: How much time did you say?
MR. SPEAKER: You began at 9:36 p.m. and concluded at 9:56 p.m. so we will say you used up 20 minutes. So you have up to 40 minutes remaining, if you wish to use them.
MR. RUSSELL: All right, Mr. Speaker, I want to talk today about the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Nova Scotia, which is replacing the Provincial Medical Board. Last night I was speaking with regard to the various committees that fall under that particular board to deal with such things as investigations, and then following investigations, hearings, and following that, of course, the adjudication of penalties; also, the committee which will be looking after peer review.
Mr. Speaker, this bill is going to replace what is in the existing Medical Act which is a Provincial Medical Board which, heretofore, had the authority to do those things that the new College of Physicians and Surgeons will be carrying out through their committee structure.
For the edification of the members who perhaps have not read the Medical Act of Nova Scotia, in the existing Act we have a board which is called the Provincial Medical Board. On that board we have nine persons appointed by the Governor in Council, seven of whom are physicians and two are persons who do not hold a degree of doctor of medicine or the equivalent, and then eight persons chosen by the Medical Society of whom six are physicians, to be elected by the Medical Society, and two are persons who do not hold a degree of doctor of medicine or the equivalent to be appointed to the Medical Society, and one physician appointed to the Provincial Medical Board by the Dalhousie University Faculty of Medicine.
Now, the quorum of the executive committee, Mr. Speaker, of the Provincial Medical Board, is the one that carries out such things, at the present time, as are of a disciplinary nature - I beg your pardon, five members - we learn from the existing Act that at least one of that five shall be one of those persons who are not a doctor of medicine.
We are saying goodbye to the Provincial Medical Board and we are replacing it with a new board which will be carrying out such things as investigations, hearings, penalties and peer review. The bill says that, for instance, the ". . . investigation committee shall be composed of at least five persons.", and "have as member at least three members of the College.", and have ". . . at least one person who does not hold a degree of doctor of medicine or equivalent . . .", and "have as its chair a member of the Council appointed by the Council.". That is what the committee consists of, it consists of five persons. However, we are told in this bill that three persons constitutes a quorum but it does not say, as does the provincial Medical Act that we have at the present time, that at least one of those persons shall be a person who is not a medical practitioner. That is the investigation committee and I won't bore you by repetition but the hearing committee is exactly the same, five members and one member must be a person who does not have a medical degree, however, a quorum is three members and it doesn't insist that one of those members shall not have a medical degree. We can go over to the remainder of the committees I have discussed and they are all the same way.
I would like the Minister of Health to give consideration to amending the bill to read that of the quorum and I don't care what the quorum is whether it is three, four, or five, that at least one person should not be a physician. That is important because these committees have tremendous powers. For instance, the power of the board when a person is found after investigation and a hearing to have committed some breach of the rules of the Nova Scotia Medical Society, may assess that person the costs involved in the investigation. There is no limitation what that can be, it can run to tens of thousands of dollars. They can assess that kind of a penalty on a physician.
I would think that those committees that go through that process and finally adjudicate whatever the concern is, should at least have one person who is perhaps, and I don't use this in an unkindly fashion, not biased toward the medical profession simply because they are a fellow of that same college.
I think I have pretty well covered all the matters I wished to cover with regard to this bill at this stage. When we get into Committee of the Whole House then we can get into it by the various sections and it indeed will get much more interesting.
There is one thing I would like to speak about before I sit down and that is we have in this province a good samaritan Act, it is not called that but it is something similar, I haven't got it here but I would hope that the minister, since he is reviewing the Acts that come under his jurisdiction and we have three of them on the order paper at the present time, would also take a look at an Act called the Volunteer Services Act, an Act Respecting the Protection of Persons Who Voluntarily Render a Service of Assistance. This simply is a protection for somebody who comes along the highway, sees a person who is passed out beside the road, goes to assist them and the person finally ends up suing that person because perhaps whatever they did was not in accordance with the best medical practices.
I would like to see something in the terms of reference under this new Medical Bill, respecting the good samaritan Act and I would also like to see that Act amended because at the present time it is not very specific legislation. So I will save my remarks on the remainder of the bill for Committee of the Whole House on Bills. Thank you.
MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.
MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity to speak on Bill No. 59, the Medical Act, at second reading stage.
Mr. Speaker, the changes to the Medical Act are something that we were waiting for, as were a number of interested Nova Scotians, waiting for the minister to bring about changes which would affect the whole discipline process within the medical profession, the question of peer review and peer assessment, the question of access to the hearing process by the public, the whole question of lay representation on the various committees and the college itself. We were also looking, I think, for clarification in terms of questions of complementary medicine, the practice of complementary medicine.
We were also looking for a more omnibus bill, Mr. Speaker, that would deal with the regulation of a number of professions in the health care field. The minister himself has acknowledged, earlier on in his term, that the proper way for this government to proceed with respect to regulating health professions is to do it in a comprehensive manner, to bring in legislation which would deal with all of the different health professions and deal with that at once instead of going through the needlessly bureaucratic and cumbersome and time-consuming process of bringing in a specific Act for each in every session.
I think it is clear that the people of Nova Scotia, Mr. Speaker, want assurances that the practitioners who provide health care services are competent and qualified. They want to know that the treatment that they receive is safe and likely to be effective. They want to be protected from people who are not properly qualified or who are unethical. If people are dissatisfied with the care that they receive, they want to be able to complain about that practitioner and know that the complaints will be dealt with in an open and fair manner. If the practitioner is incompetent or unethical, then people want and deserve, in Nova Scotia, to know that something, in fact, will be done.
There is also a question of the freedom to make choices about health care and who will provide that treatment. For example, many women want the right to choose either a midwife or a doctor to deliver their babies, Mr. Speaker. The whole question about the availability of different professions to provide similar services should be a choice that is available to all Nova Scotians. In particular at a time when we are devolving or transforming the health care system from one based on acute care to one based on primary care provided in the communities, then we have to ensure that we have an effective and economical mix of health care workers. The way that we regulate those professions will enable us, in fact, to carry out that responsibility.
I think to be fair that in some respects the Medical Act that we have before us, Bill No. 59, goes some distance in providing those assurances, Mr. Speaker.
First of all, the establishment of, the change from the Provincial Medical Board to the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Nova Scotia, I think is a positive and, as the minister himself has described, a progressive change, Mr. Speaker. There is provision on the council for the appointment of laypersons, for people that are not associated with the medical profession in any way, shape or form, in order to lend that type of unbiased perspective to the deliberations of the College of Physicians and Surgeons. I think that is important.
The area, with respect, if I may for just a moment talk about the participation of lay people on committees of the College of Physicians and Surgeons. One of the things in here that was recommended was that, in fact, we have a fairly large representation of lay people, not necessarily equal percentages but certainly a large percentage of lay representation on the governing body, on the College of Physicians and Surgeons in order to ensure that objectivity and that bias but that has not been attained in this particular bill.
If I may, I just wanted to refer, in fact, to the composition, Mr. Speaker. The council will consist of eight members elected in the manner provided by this Act, and that is elected by their peers. I think that is a process that has some considerable merit. One member of the college appointed by the Dean of Medicine of the Medical School at Dalhousie University, one member of the college appointed by the society at a general meeting and then five persons appointed by the Governor in Council. Those five persons, as I indicated, would be what is referred to in common parlance as laypersons, people who are not associated directly with the medical profession.
I think it is incumbent upon the Governor in Council and upon the minister to ensure that the integrity of the council is maintained when making these particular appointments, as I am sure he will, that they are able, in fact, to balance out the perspective on the council to ensure that the concerns of the general public are adequately and properly represented on that council.
Under Bill No. 59 the inquiry, hearing and discipline committees have to be comprised of at least five members, in this case only one of which has to be a non-physician. In fact if you look at the Hearing Committee as an example, a quorum is attained with only three members. This, as I read the old Act, Mr. Speaker, is pretty much as it existed under the Provincial Medical Board, in terms of the hearing and discipline committee. Unfortunately, I think it would be better to see a more responsible, a more equal representation of laypersons on that hearing committee. One of the significant representations that has been made to this government over the last number of years is that the public, more and more in terms of these self-regulating professions, is demanding representation on the various governing bodies and, in particular, the discipline and hearing committees, to ensure that that process is not private, is not exclusive of the medical profession. In other words, so that you don't have a situation where basically peers are determining the discipline and the appropriateness or lack thereof of the activities of one of their peers. By having lay people on the board on these committees, you can ensure that at least that process will be open and will be reasonably objective, on behalf of the interests of the public. I think that is extremely important in order to try and deal with the increasing levels of complaints because we have heard from the minister himself that there are, not necessarily an alarming number but, certainly, a significant increase in the number of complaints that have been brought before the Provincial Medical Board.
As I indicated earlier, I think it is incumbent upon the government and upon us when we are setting up the regulatory framework for how the body that will oversee the regulation of the medical profession, that the processes will be open, that people will be able to recognize that when they make a complaint it will follow a given process, and that they will get a hearing if it is found that their complaint has merit. If it is determined that the complaint does not have merit, then people will be informed of why that is. In other words, there will not be any behind closed doors decisions and information will be made available to the people, to the public, at all stages along the way and I think that is extremely important.
The hearing committee does provide, the process here is for the hearing to be public except under special circumstances, and I think that is appropriate that under special circumstances the hearing committee may decide because of, and there are two issues, public safety or the sensitivity of matters - here it is - "matters involving public security . . . financial or personal or other matters may be disclosed at the hearing of such a nature that the desirability of avoiding public disclosure of those matters in the interest of any person affected or in the public interest outweighs the desirability of it adhering to the principle that hearings be open to the public; or the safety of a person may be jeopardized.".
I think that those exemptions make some sense and that the committee will be bound by that and will be in a position, basically, to ensure that the majority of cases are open to the public, they will participate in having that process be open to the review of the public to ensure that the credibility and the reputation of the profession is, if not maintained, certainly enhanced and I think that is important.
Again, with respect to the participation of non-physicians, I think the minister will be aware of the fact that a number of groups, including Citizens for Choice in Health Care and the group that formally existed under the name Advocates for Medical Ethics, did call for a larger number of representatives of non-physicians on these committees and on the former Provincial Medical Board, now the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Nova Scotia. I think that the minister should give some further consideration to increasing that representation.
The one part of the bill that I don't think is sufficiently clear is how complainants will be informed of their rights in the filing of complaints or, in fact, of the investigation of those complaints. We don't see here in this bill where it lays out how the hearing committee will operate in a fairly detailed fashion. It doesn't indicate here, for the benefit of many who would require such information, what process will be followed to ensure that it is clear how a complaint will be dealt with by the various committees and by the council itself.
I think it is important that that information be in this bill, as with other details, to ensure that information is clear. For that matter, it should be indicated in here, and I haven't seen it yet - it may, in fact, be there, but I haven't seen it and I don't think it is; perhaps the minister can clarify it at a later point - the question of the responsibility of the council to educate and inform health consumers about their rights vis-à-vis physicians.
I think now more than ever, perhaps, Mr. Speaker, as we have a number of different issues within the health field, within medicine, within medical practice, I think it is incumbent upon the government, through the Medical Act - and it would be appropriate through the council, the College of Physicians and Surgeons - in fact, that there is a process developed whereby health consumers would understand what their relationship is with respect to the council, what their rights are with respect to their physicians and what processes must be followed and can be followed by them to deal with any concerns they might have on the whole question of the proper practice of physicians in dealing with people's health matters.
There is an interesting change at the beginning of the bill under the definitions section, Mr. Speaker, which I wanted to bring to the attention of the minister. It has to do with the definition of the "practice of medicine". It says, in Clause 2(w), that the, "`practice of medicine' includes, but is not restricted to,", and it goes through a number of items. Under Clause 2(w)(iii), if I may, it says, "offering or undertaking to prevent or to diagnose, correct or treat in any manner or by any means, methods, devices or instrumentalities any disease, illness, pain, wound, fracture, infirmity, defect or abnormal physical or mental condition of any person, including . . .", and this is the change, ". . . the management of pregnancy and parturition,".
A significant point here for me, is, what impact does this have on midwives who are now practising in Nova Scotia. Because if you refer to a later point in the bill, on Page 23, under Prohibitions, Clause 38, it deals with the question of, again, "(1) A person licensed pursuant to this Act who practises medicine in violation of any condition or limitation contained in the person's licence commits an offence.". It also says, "(2) A person who practises medicine (b) without a licence.". One wonders there if, since we haven't dealt with the whole question of the regulation of midwifery, what the combination of that initial definition of the practice of medicine combined with the prohibition of a person who practises medicine without a license, what that does in terms of women's opportunity to avail themselves of the services of midwives that are now operating in the Province of Nova Scotia. I will be seeking clarification on that point from the minister.
Mr. Speaker, I do understand that, in fact, the Midwifery Association and the Midwifery Coalition have been requesting the establishment of a working group on midwifery in order, I think, to ensure that they would come in under the very omnibus bill that I was talking about earlier, that would deal with the regulation of various health professions.
Again, the concern that I have is that in the meantime - and I haven't received any response to this which helps me at all - but with the combination of the definition, the change under practice of medicine which talks about the management of pregnancy and parturition -hopefully I will get an explanation on the proper pronunciation - but that combined with the section under the prohibitions which deals with the question that it is an offence to practise medicine without a license, Mr. Speaker, and the fact that there is no reference that I can see anywhere in the bill with respect to the practice of midwifery, I think that is an area of some concern that needs to be addressed.
Another omission, I think, in this bill is the obvious strategy - again I referred to it earlier - that the government is taking, that they have decided to basically deal strictly with the question of matters relating to physicians and surgeons in Nova Scotia and how those professions will be recognized and will be regulated. But that omits and fails to deal with a great many other professions, Mr. Speaker, and other people who are involved in the practice of medicine. I know that the minister, as I indicated, recognizes the need to deal with this whole issue in a comprehensive manner, but this bill clearly doesn't do that.
If we refer back to the minister's Blueprint Committee Report for Health System Reform, Mr. Speaker, on Page 22, they talk in a section on Health Care Providers about a Human Resources Advisory Committee. That is a committee that should be established to, ". . . report to the Minister of Health on a comprehensive health human resource strategy.". That advisory committee should establish two subcommittees, a Health Professions Legislation Subcommittee and a Labour Adjustment Subcommittee.
The Health Professions Legislative Subcommittee, Mr. Speaker, it was recommended, would have a mandate to, "advise on appropriate regulations governing all health care providers in order to protect the public; ensure public accountability through appropriate and meaningful lay participation in the investigation of complaints and during disciplinary procedures; expand and define scopes of practice so health care providers can work as teams. This includes traditional as well as `complementary' health care practitioners. Standards should be maintained.", says the report. "The least expensive, yet appropriately qualified provider, who is acceptable to the consumer is the most desirable.".
Then, of course, it says, "Communities, regions, the Department of Health, and representatives of relevant health professional groups should have input into the subcommittee's work.".
Mr. Speaker, to the best of my knowledge, this subcommittee has yet to be established. Certainly the government has not proceeded with this type of a comprehensive strategy. Certainly, if they were, then they would not have come forward with this fairly rigorous change to the Provincial Medical Board under the auspices of the Medical Act. That, I think, is a cause for some concern. We understand that, for example, the minister had made some commitments to the CNAs with respect to regulating their particular profession. There was some commitment to people practising complementary medicine that, in fact, that would be recognized and there is a whole host of professions practising in the medical field who would most appropriately, I think, come under this particular bill.
Of course, the concern there is that if the minister is doing that here with physicians and surgeons, will he feel it urgent, in fact, to deal with issues dealing with other health professionals at a later date, Mr. Speaker? I don't have an answer to that question but I am concerned because the minister has put it off for some number of months now as to when he is going to bring forward this legislation and make that kind of commitment. He is now indicating this spring and I think we should all be somewhat concerned about whether in fact that is going to happen.
Mr. Speaker, there are a number of other issues that are dealt with in the bill that I think deserve the consideration of all members. The whole question of peer assessment is an important one. We are finally coming up with a process involving other jurisdictions in Atlantic Canada where we can have a completely random, yet clearly mandatory peer assessment of physicians and surgeons under this Act and that that committee may have representatives from the Provinces of New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland, and I think that is very positive. I think it is important as we try to maintain a high standard of regulation in any of our professions, that this type of peer analysis, peer review is extremely important. I would say that certainly members of this caucus are clearly in favour of this particular strategy by the Minister of Health.
Mr. Speaker, the points that I have raised, hopefully, will indicate to you and to all members that we are supportive of the legislation that is before us now. We think that there, unfortunately, are a number of areas within the bill that are incomplete, that the government could have followed through with its commitment to deal in a comprehensive fashion with the regulation of all professions within the health care sector. In order to ensure that as we go through this reform process that is happening, as we try to respond to the changing needs, the changing demands of health care consumers in the Province of Nova Scotia, that we ensure the people who provide health care are, in fact, adequately and appropriately regulated so that the public, the consumer themselves, are on a level playing field or on a well-balanced field in relation to those people who are providing care to them at a time when they certainly require it.
We have to end the kind of difficulty that many consumers have in this profession, of feeling completely intimidated by the awesome power of their doctors. People have to be informed, they have to be educated as to what their rights are in the process. They have to be informed on how to make complaints. They have to feel confident, they have to have some faith in the system that, in fact, Mr. Speaker, if they do go to the trouble of making a complaint that that complaint will be appropriately dealt with and that the information and the decisions that are made throughout that process, that the information relative to those decisions is conveyed to those people.
Of course, the final and very important part of this process is that it is public, that it is open to public review and public scrutiny. I think what we find in those instances, Mr. Speaker, is, in fact, that is what ensures that the process will maintain a certain level of integrity and credibility. That is extremely important.
There, again, as I indicated, there were a couple of issues with respect to complementary medicine and the provision of complementary medicine, Mr. Speaker, which were not, as I can see, adequately dealt with here. The whole question of the involvement of the public in the process has been, to some degree, dealt with and that is important, unfortunately, not perhaps enough in that the representation of the lay public is not to the level that some would have suggested.
There has been a concern with respect to the troubles that have existed for people who are delivering complementary medicine, Mr. Speaker, that under the disciplinary assessment review process of the Provincial Medical Board, it was felt that they were being unfairly treated and, in fact, disciplined, simply because they did not accept the tenets of the traditional practice of medicine. The Citizens for Choice in Health Care, in particular, as were many of us, were looking for provision under pure assessment.
For example, a provision which would ensure adequate review by medical professionals with expertise in the similar medical practices offered by any licensed physician who is under a peer review or assessment. I think, Mr. Speaker, that you could certainly appreciate the concern that people would have, that they would be found guilty of professional incompetence, misconduct or negligence based solely on the fact that the registered practitioner employs therapies which would be considered unconventional, experimental or non-traditional. Unfortunately, that is not dealt with that I can tell in the Medical Act, as it is presented to us here in the form of Bill No. 59.
Mr. Speaker, I know that the minister will have an opportunity to review Hansard in order to address a couple of the concerns that I have raised, but before I take my seat I would like to just sort of readdress that one specific concern that I had with respect to the change and the definition under "practice of medicine", the change being under the definition, Clause 2(w)(iii) that says, ". . . including the management of pregnancy and . . .", hopefully the minister will help me with this pronunciation, ". . . parturition,", and how, in fact, that combined with the prohibition under Clause 38 affects the practice of midwifery in the Province of Nova Scotia. Perhaps the minister at some point, when he is closing up debate at second reading on this bill, will address that concern.
The other, again, that the minister had committed himself, I think, and his government to dealing with the whole question of regulation under the medical professions, to deal with it in a comprehensive way, as has been recommended to him by the Blueprint Committee and others, whether, in fact, he could indicate an explanation for that, whether or not we are going to then, since we have a new Medical Act dealing with physicians and surgeons, whether that means we will have an Act regulating each individual profession, following up on this, Mr. Speaker. I think the advice has been not only in this jurisdiction but in other jurisdictions that the best way to deal with that is in a comprehensive fashion. Of course I just refer the minister back to the Blueprint Committee's recommendations under health care providers and the establishment of the Health Professions Legislation Subcommittee. Perhaps at some point the minister could give me an indication as to whether or not that subcommittee is or will, in the short term, be up and running to basically deal with that whole question of the need for a complementary approach to regulation within the health professions.
I think that is extremely important, as I have indicated, as we go about dealing with changes in the delivery of health care in the Province of Nova Scotia. I think that could assist us in a considerable way in carrying out that reform.
Mr. Speaker, I think I have addressed all of the concerns that I have, that have been brought to my attention or that I have indicated or noted in reviewing the legislation at this point. It certainly is, as a member indicated earlier, a fairly complicated piece of legislation but it is a very important piece of legislation. I hope that suggestions I have made, in terms of there needing to be clearly outlined in the legislation a process whereby a consumer can lay a complaint and how that complaint will go through the process, that that should be and could be incorporated in there in the whole question of informing and educating the consumer about their rights vis-a-vis physicians. I think those are positive suggestions that will add to the bill.
Again, as I prepare to take my seat, I think that this bill is certainly much more comprehensive than the legislation that it replaces. I think it is a positive and I would dare say even a progressive approach to dealing with this question. I think that perhaps we are missing an opportunity here not to deal in a more comprehensive way with the regulation of professions within health care, Mr. Speaker. This could have been an opportunity and I am ever so hesitant to just simply allow a piece of legislation like this to go through without recognizing the reality of the fact that legislation sometimes doesn't get easily amended in this House. We dealt with a piece of legislation yesterday that had been in existence for 134 years. That may also, of course, mean that it was a good piece of legislation when it was first dealt with. I think we need to take that question seriously.
Mr. Speaker, there are a number of outstanding issues with respect to the regulation of the health professions that need to be addressed urgently, that need to be addressed in order that health care reform can go about as smoothly as possible. The replacement of an Act relating to medical practitioners and the practice of medicine is a start, perhaps. It certainly deals with the process, the steps around the complaints about physicians and the rights of complainants. There is the whole question about the inquiry, hearing and discipline committees, the peer assessment process, the establishment of the council and the inclusion of lay persons on not only the council but also the committees of the council. I think that is a step forward.
Therefore, I will be voting in support of this legislation as it goes through second reading. I will be urging my colleague to do the same but I again indicate that I think it is an opportunity missed that the minister could have brought forward in this House comprehensive legislation dealing with the regulation of health care professions. A recommendation that was made by the Blueprint Committee, that has been made by, I believe, the Task Force on Health Care and by the other commissions and committees in other jurisdictions, other provinces have gone this way, Mr. Speaker, and I think certainly we should in the very near future do that very thing.
So, Mr. Speaker, I will take my seat indicating my support and once I have the opportunity to speak to my colleague, his support, perhaps, at least to go to the Law Amendments Committee. We will then have an opportunity, hopefully, to hear representations from various groups and individuals who are directly affected by this bill and by the whole question of regulations in health professions and, perhaps, we can together make some positive amendments to this legislation as it stands to, in fact, make it better.
Before I sit down, let me say that my understanding is that the Medical Society has played not an inconsiderable role in developing this particular bill. I think that that is extremely positive. We are still waiting to hear, for example, from the Citizens for Choice in Health Care about their specific issues and we would hope that perhaps there will be an opportunity to respond even with amendment to some of those concerns, although some of them that I have already addressed have been dealt with in terms of the participation of non-physicians in the council and in the committees. I think that is good. But I await, Mr. Speaker, because let's not forget that this an extremely important piece of legislation and I look forward to hearing from individuals and groups at the Law Amendments Committee to bring to our attention greater detail that needs to be addressed in this piece of legislation. Thank you.
MR. SPEAKER: Hearing no further intervenors, I will recognize the Minister of Health to conclude debate.
The honourable Minister of Health.
HON. RONALD STEWART: Mr. Speaker, I want to very sincerely thank the honourable members opposite who have commented on second reading of this piece of legislation, because as the honourable member who has just spoken has indicated, and I was privy to hear the address of the honourable member on television and also to make some notes in this regard, and as we go through clause by clause and as we, of course, hear from the Law Amendments Committee process, I would be very much, as he is, welcoming of the representations that he has mentioned from groups and from those who would have, indeed, a very important part to play in the further crafting of this legislation.
I want to address in general terms, again, to refer back to some of the comments made last evening on the part of some honourable members opposite, who have pointed out the importance of this bill in relation to the process by which complaints are lodged and the streamlining of that process as outlined in this bill.
This was an important aspect of the recrafting of the Act itself or the crafting of the Act itself, in that the current situation in relationship to complaints has not always been and could not be described, Mr. Speaker, as streamlined or perhaps even easily understood by most people. I do want to refer back to the comments made by the honourable member for Halifax Atlantic vis-a-vis an educational process that is necessary with this complex Act and with, in fact, the rather somewhat daunting process and procedure or even the decision made to actually launch a complaint or file a complaint or even a question under the current structure.
Mr. Speaker, one of the most common problems that I see in terms of physician practice that frequently would be brought to me as Minister of Health is the question that people who are citizens in our community would have concerning how do I register my concerns, how do I register even a frank complaint about a particular performance of a physician or the health care system in general. I believe that in concert with this piece of legislation, however it turns out in its final drafted form, there must go a major educational program in terms of the public understanding of what this means not only in terms of the implications, but also the opportunities that the public may have to register problems, concerns, complaints or actually participate in the activities of the college, in the disciplinary committees that exist and also on the board and the council of the college. I would give due credence to the comments made by the honourable member for Hants West last evening, and also the honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.
We must, however, keep in mind what this bill does. It sets standards and confines itself to the practice of medicine as that practice of medicine is defined in the bills and the previous Acts of this Legislature. Nothing in this bill would prevent the further involvement and extension of practice opportunities on the part of other health care professionals, be it nursing, be it those who practice in terms of physiotherapy, occupational therapy and so on, who have need of further legislation and regulation in regard to self-regulating bodies themselves and also the extent of their participation.
One of the committees which has been established and which is ongoing, as recommended by the Blueprint Report and referred to by the honourable member for Halifax Atlantic, is the committee that is dealing with the extended role of the nurse, the nurse clinician, the nurse practitioner, whatever, one who would want to use that, and also the primary care group that is working on the development of primary care teams and the role of those teams in the provision of primary care through community health centres and other avenues within the health system.
Very clearly, that is supported in terms of the Blueprint Committee, it is not in any way a function of this bill to allow or not to allow the extension of practice, the extension of participation by those groups in the health care system in the delivery of care. Referring specifically to midwifery, if one defines the parturition and the issue surrounding that particular condition as a medical problem alone - and I don't think anyone could argue that that is the case in modern terms - one would have a very restricting bill. This is not a restricting bill, it would not bar the development of midwifery as a profession within the province. We have made our thoughts known on that both during our election campaign and in terms of what we have said here in this House both through myself and through the Premier.
I might refer as well to the concerns that have been raised by the honourable members for both Hants West and Halifax Atlantic, both last night and today, in terms of what constitutes or does this bill in any way prohibit or make comment upon alternative medicine or the practice of what has been termed complementary medicine. I want to be very clear on this, that this bill covers the delivery of medical services and governs the practice of physicians. If the physician is practicing specific entities that we might describe as complementary or holistic, that certainly would not be in any way prevented or in any way diluted or discouraged by this bill. Suffice to say that if a physician is practising medicine and is a recognized practitioner, of course, the disciplinary procedures, he or she must come under this bill.
I might add that key to this is the disciplinary process and the recognition that, as much as possible, disciplinary procedures would be carried out in a fair and equitable fashion and would involve the peer review process within the college structure itself with participation of the lay public. I believe that this is of prime concern. I will welcome the comments of those groups in our Nova Scotia society who have particular concerns, historically based, I think, and well-based, well-founded in that regard, regarding any particular speciality or subspecialty or even, we might say, any practice of medicine covered under the sections of the Medical Society, of which now we have several new ones including rural medicine, for example, complementary medicine and several others.
In closing this debate, in referring it on and moving second reading, I would again reassure the honourable members opposite and reassure the citizens of Nova Scotia that this bill, in fact, is indeed comprehensive. I think it is a progressive bill. I do believe, too, that we will indeed find areas which need to be further explained, areas which may even need to be amended or changed, areas which may, in fact, be of some comfort to the general public, some comfort to groups within the general public, that their voices have been heard, Mr. Speaker. I believe very sincerely that as much as humanly possible and given the foibles and faults of governments of various stripes, we certainly have listened and I believe this bill reflects a genuine concern and a genuine desire to do the right thing and to further the standards and high quality of medical practice in this province.
With those comments, Mr. Speaker, I would move second reading.
MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for second reading of Bill No. 59. Are you ready for the question? Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded Nay.
The motion is carried in the affirmative.
Ordered that this bill be referred to the Committee on Law Amendments.
The honourable Government House Leader.
HON. RICHARD MANN: Mr. Speaker, would you please call the order of business, Public Bills for Third Reading.
PUBLIC BILLS FOR THIRD READING
MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.
HON. RICHARD MANN: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 33.
Bill No. 33 - Internal Trade Agreement Implementation Act.
MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister for the Nova Scotia Economic Renewal Agency.
HON. ROBERT HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, I would move third reading of this bill.
MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.
MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, we have had the opportunity to speak in some detail on Bill No. 33, which puts into effect on behalf of the Province of Nova Scotia commitments that were made through the Agreement on Internal Trade. This is an agreement that was signed by the federal government, all provincial and territorial jurisdictions in this country for the purposes of trying to deal with the question of trade barriers and barriers in terms of the free flow of goods, services and labour from one part of the country to another.
Mr. Speaker, as you and other members have heard - and I think it is fair to talk about the agreement because the agreement is what the bill is all about - the agreement, in fact, commits the signatories to endeavour to follow up with the commitments that are articulated in the bill in terms of a dispute resolution mechanism through tribunals. It talks about the relationship of this agreement to other trade agreements, the free trade agreement, NAFTA, GATT and the world trade organization. It talks about how and what we do in this country relates and what we will be doing under the Agreement on Internal Trade, in fact relates to, perhaps dovetails with many of those other trade agreements.
I know that this government and certainly this minister, as the representative on these issues, is extremely bullish on the effects of those agreements and on the effects of this particular agreement on this country and, in particular, on Nova Scotia. There are other people who are a little more reticent about what the impacts actually have been of some of those other international trade agreements, that perhaps Nova Scotia has not fared as well as we might have under different circumstances. Therefore, there has been some concern raised, some concerns that I have tried to articulate in my debate at various stages on this bill, that the Agreement on Internal Trade does a couple of things that sort of build on some of the things that have happened as a result of those other trade agreements, one of those things being that the authority that the provincial government has over its jurisdiction, as it relates to commercial matters, is greatly restricted by the agreement and, most particularly, by the bill with respect to being able to show a preference in the hiring and the purchasing of Nova Scotia goods and services for use in different ways. We have lost the ability under, for example, the Mineral Resources Act, to have some control over what will go out of this province, what, in fact, can be processed or what should be processed before it leaves this province.
I know that provinces like British Columbia, for example, have ensured that the Agreement on Internal Trade does not infringe upon their ability to have some control over the kinds of investments that are made on the processing of raw materials in their province. I don't see the Province of Nova Scotia doing that very thing and that causes me some concern.
The provisions with the Civil Service Act, Mr. Speaker, that give us the opportunity here in the province to show preference, in terms of hiring, are gone. The provisions with respect to the ability of this province to make local decisions on the question of who the Government of Nova Scotia purchases goods and services from, the ability of this province to be able to try to foster local economic development by purchasing from local manufacturers in the different regions of the Province of Nova Scotia, to ensure, as the largest or the organization with the largest purchasing power in the Province of Nova Scotia, to allow them to use that power and those resources to be able to build with some of those decisions, to be able to build the capacity of many of those locally based companies, those small businesses, those local manufacturers, small and medium sized manufacturers, to get into the position to prepare them to be able to compete nationally and internationally, as we all suggest is certainly the way for companies to go, in terms of building and expanding and being able to generate jobs and wealth for this province and for the communities that are most affected.
I say, on my behalf, that while I am not necessarily an advocate of us drawing the curtain down or building the fences and trying to live in a cocoon here in Nova Scotia and ignore what is going on around us and across this country, what's going on around the world, and just simply try to survive here on our own. I am not advocating that by any stretch of the imagination. But I am somewhat cautious about giving up not only our jurisdiction, but also our responsibility to be able to make use of the various levers, as the Province of Nova Scotia, that we have at our disposal to benefit the Province of Nova Scotia and the companies and workers within the province. I am concerned that we are giving up a lot in this process.
As I indicated when this bill was first tabled in this House, the bill was tabled - and it is four pages - but what wasn't tabled was the actual Agreement on Internal Trade which is 200-plus pages and which includes, I think, somewhere in the area of 1,700-plus different articles. It is an agreement of significant complexity and it is something that we should have had the opportunity to debate, to discuss the implications of the various provisions and the meaning with respect to the relationship between, for example, this agreement and the NAFTA and free trade and GATT. In the few weeks I have had since this bill has been in, since I have had the opportunity to review this agreement, there are a number of questions that I still have, that remain with me, that have not been fully answered. I certainly would have appreciated the opportunity to review that.
Again, the minister's optimism that this agreement will, in fact, put us in a better position to compete internationally and to compete nationally may well be right; he may well be accurate there, Mr. Speaker.
AN HON. MEMBER: Show me.
MR. CHISHOLM: Yes, that's it. The member said show me, and that I guess is my point.
We have been asked by leaders in this country in the past to have faith, to believe me, to trust me and, unfortunately, we have been let down, or in fact those people who have said, trust me, have been shown to be wrong. There is nothing wrong with that; there is nothing evil or sinister about somebody having the wrong line on a given issue. I am not suggesting I am right or that my concerns have any basis.
I think when you consider the history of this province, when you consider the history of this country, when you consider the attempt to build this country on east-west lines, when you consider the fact that we have attempted through history to respond with our trade agreements and with our trade patterns to the pressures that are operating in a north-south direction, I think we can learn and that we should listen to our history before we take any significant leaps forward. Again, let me say that I don't have any evidence that the minister has taken great leaps of faith, but the problem is that I don't have any evidence that he hasn't taken a great leap of faith on behalf of the Province of Nova Scotia on this, Mr. Speaker.
I have had the opportunity to speak to officials of other jurisdictions who have participated on this Agreement on Internal Trade and, when they have reviewed the Nova Scotia legislation, they have indicated some surprise at the provisions contained in here and the comment has been made that we seem to be giving up an awful lot. We have said this before, Mr. Speaker, that there is not another piece of legislation, I think there are only four existing in the country in terms of provinces that have brought legislation forward, to enact the agreement. None of them go anywhere near the lengths that this legislation does to give up or to abrogate a number of the responsibilities and opportunities that the Province of Nova Scotia has to have control over business development, economic development in many regions, in many areas within this province.
Mr. Speaker, I say to you and to all members again I am not convinced that that is the way to go; I am not convinced that that is the answer; I am not convinced that that is going to be in the best interests of Nova Scotia. I know there have been other jurisdictions that have signed on to this agreement, Newfoundland being one, B.C. being another and I believe Saskatchewan being another and Ontario, who have assured that there were specific exemptions under various provisions of this bill to allow them to have some of that control that I am talking about over commercial affairs within their jurisdiction.
If that in fact was done by a number of provinces, some of which perhaps have stronger economies than Nova Scotia, others that may have weaker economies than Nova Scotia, then why is it that we didn't decide that maybe there is some questions there with respect to the processing of fish that we could have dealt with under here.
What about the change that the minister did, in fact, make to take out the exemption of the Pipeline Act, Mr. Speaker? What about that same exemption going to the Civil Service Act? What about that same exemption going in under the Mineral Resources Act, in terms of us having the ability, if we decide it is appropriate, taking into consideration all the ramifications of those decisions, to ensure that if mineral resources are going to be developed here in the Province of Nova Scotia, that they are not going to be shipped out of here raw, that they are going to be processed and that only with that commitment will companies be allowed to, in fact, develop those mineral resources. I don't think that is overly protectionist or overly aggressive, in terms of protecting the interests of Nova Scotia. To me it just makes considerable sense that we should have that opportunity.
Now it may be the case that the minister can show us, can tell us how making that kind of a decision would impact on another jurisdiction and would impact on our trade relationship with them on other matters, Mr. Speaker. But I have not seen that evidence, I am not privy to that, we have not had that debate publicly in this province on the provisions of the agreement on internal trade or, for that matter, the merits or lack thereof of Bill No. 33.
I was the first one to admit, Mr. Speaker, when I stood in this House that the Agreement on Internal Trade was signed in September 1994 and I had not heard of it, or I had heard of it and it went in one ear and out the other. I certainly had not seen the Act, I had not had representations on the fact that the government was proceeding in this direction. I know that our office didn't receive any communications from the Department of Economic Renewal, that they had participated and, in fact, that they sent a copy of the agreement to us.
Nonetheless, even if this is a good deal, which it may well be, I have said this before and I will say it again, I think it is incumbent upon the government when they are making these kinds of significant structural changes that they debate it, that they discuss it, that they talk to Nova Scotians about what is going on.
I think we are giving up here in this bill, through the Agreement on Internal Trade, a number of opportunities that we have as a provincial jurisdiction. We are giving up to the federal government, in fact, jurisdiction over many commercial activities in this province. I think that will have an impact on a number of Nova Scotians and in particular, on small and medium sized businesses, in particular, manufacturing operations, who through open and successful tendering through the Province of Nova Scotia have an opportunity to purchase goods and services from the Province of Nova Scotia. Some times it is only on the basis of that 5 per cent preference factor in the procurement of goods and services in the Province of Nova Scotia. I don't think that is wrong if it aids a company in developing in Richmond or in Berwick or in Yarmouth, if it assists that company in being able to develop, to be able to stabilize its operation and eventually to be able to expand and participate on the national and international markets in whatever it is that it produces. I think that is good for Nova Scotia and I don't understand why giving up that right will in fact turn around and benefit us.
As we have seen through some of the international agreements that we have been a part of that what happens is we give up some of that control and responsibility and the provision of many goods and services ends up being done by the largest of companies. It is the companies that have the deepest pockets that are able to provide the lowest cost. Unfortunately, if it is a company from the United States that provides goods and services to Nova Scotia, they take wealth out of this province, they don't bring wealth into this province. It might be able to provide a few jobs but the wealth that is generated does not stay here and that is something that we can't forget, it is something that we have to recognize.
If it is a manufacturing operation in the United States that provides products here to the Government of Nova Scotia, for example, we don't even get any jobs out of it. All we get is perhaps some binders, some briefcases, or some paper or whatever the products might be, at a slightly reduced rate in terms of per product, per item, per piece but in the long run what have we done to our economy in terms of jobs, in terms of wealth that is generated in many of the communities around this province. I think it is a cost that hasn't been and that often isn't taken into consideration. I think that that does not bode well for this province.
Some of those issues concern me greatly about this particular bill. Perhaps one of the things that I am most concerned about is the process that has been followed here and the fact that Nova Scotians haven't been consulted with something that is really extremely significant, especially for small and local businesses and manufacturers who in large part depend on the resources that are available to the Province of Nova Scotia. If they lose that opportunity because of the changes in this bill that are provided for in this bill, if they lose the opportunity to sell to the Province of Nova Scotia as a result of changes in our procurement policy, then I think that is going to mean that those companies, if they are not already on a level and I have talked to many of them who are not yet on a level where they can compete nationally and internationally, there are some that are, there is no question about that and their ability to participate by reducing barriers is a positive one.
Let's not forget that before many of those companies reached a size where they could compete nationally and internationally, they were small, 3, 4, 8, 10 person operations, Mr. Speaker, here in Halifax and around the province and communities all over that needed the opportunities provided by a major purchaser like the Province of Nova Scotia in order to provide them with the opportunity to grow and strengthen and participate, if they are able, on the national and international stage. I am concerned that this will have an impact and I think it is therefore something that we should all have had an opportunity to discuss publicly before any commitment was made as to how that would happen.
Mr. Speaker, I have indicated to you and to other members of this House every step of the way that I have not seen, have not been given any evidence, have not been given any reason of substance why I should support this bill. I have a great number of concerns about the bill itself. I have a great number of concerns primarily because my questions have gone unanswered about provisions within the bill and provisions within the Agreement on Internal Trade that have been addressed. As a result of that, I do not feel that I in good conscience am able to support this bill.
I want to say again, and I want it on the record, that that is not because I want to build a fence around Nova Scotia, that I believe that we should live in a cocoon, but I think when we make important decisions like this, we have to make them on the basis of solid evidence, of solid research and of consultation with people. We have to examine, in fact, the impact, not only in the short term but also in the long term, for all businesses within the Province of Nova Scotia, not just the few that are already participating on a national and international stage who may benefit. There are a lot of businesses that are not at that point yet and that won't necessarily get to that point just because this Agreement on Internal Trade has come in. I would suggest that because the province is taking away their ability to show preference locally, in fact, that will endanger those small businesses ever getting to that point.
On that basis and on the fact that we have not had any public debate or discussion about such an important change, I am afraid that I will be indicating again that I am not in support of this legislation. I do have to say that were we to have had a full discussion of this Agreement on Internal Trade, were we to have had more of our questions answered with respect to provisions of this bill, were I not to have received the kind of warnings that I did from other jurisdictions in this country about what we have given up through changes to our local authority here through this bill, then maybe I would be in a position to support it, but failing that, Mr. Speaker, I will indicate to you now and to all members of this House that I will be voting against Bill No. 33 at third reading.
MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants West.
MR. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, Bill No. 33, An Act to Implement the Agreement on Internal Trade, supposedly a free trade agreement in this country of ours from sea to sea. Yesterday the Minister of Health took us on a trip down memory lane, if you remember, sir. You were in the Chair, I believe, at that time and we had a pleasant visit back to 1861 when the Nova Scotia Medical Society was first launched in this House. We were told that Sir Charles Tupper was in the Chamber, I think, sitting on the right, and Joe Howe was there as well, putting in his piece.
Well, Mr. Speaker, I would like to go back on memory lane a little bit to about 1865, say four years later. We look around and look at Nova Scotia and what do you find? You find the Province of Nova Scotia one of the most prosperous places not only in Canada but on the whole eastern seaboard of North America. And why, Mr. Speaker? I will tell you, because we had location. You know today if you are going to go out and start up a hamburger store, well maybe you don't have to bother if you are going to have a Tim Horton's because you put them anywhere, I guess, but if you are going to set up a franchise on a corner, the first thing you look at is location - location, location, location, as they will tell you.
Well, we had a tremendous location, Mr. Speaker, because the great circle route from all the ports down the eastern seaboard of the United States came up, whistled by Halifax, just south of St. John's and across the North Atlantic to the European market. So we had a great location because we could just whistle down, across the Bay of Fundy and you were in Maine. Or you could go straight south and you would end up down in the Caribbean. That is where our trade was, that was the natural trading route for this Province of Nova Scotia, because of our location. That is why this province prospered.
Mr. Speaker, back in 1865 we had a tremendous manufacturing industry in Nova Scotia, in fact we probably had a bigger manufacturing, certainly a more diversified manufacturing base back in 1865 than we have at the present time. We were manufacturing pianos in the Province of Nova Scotia and exporting them; we were manufacturing furniture in the Province of Nova Scotia and exporting it; we were manufacturing boilers and machinery, particularly steam engines in this province and exporting them. We even used to ship out in great quantities the lowly salt fish down to the Caribbean. In fact we had a tremendous trade with Jamaica; we would throw them down some salt fish and they would send us back barrels of rum and sugar. It was good trade, we made a lot of money, we did very well.
But, Mr. Speaker, somebody told us, look, you have something like this, like Bill No. 55, back in 1867 and it was a bill that formed the Confederation of Canada. Now we never had very much trade with so-called Upper Canada. As I said before, our trade was south or it was going to the east to Europe. That is where our trading relationships were. In fact, we used to build ships in Nova Scotia, we would load them up with Nova Scotia products and run them across to China. The captain of the ship would not only sell the produce he was carrying, he would sell the ship.
We had a tremendous trade, Mr. Speaker; we were - I was going to say the largest but maybe that is a little bit of an exaggeration - about the second largest builder of wooden ships in the world, right here in this little Province of Nova Scotia. (Interruption) Well, that is right. You are looking around at Oland's Brewery, I guess. (Interruption) Where have they all gone? Well, Queen Elizabeth said they are over there loading up with beer. But, Mr. Speaker, that was the power that made this province.
Unfortunately, in 1867 we got overly generous and we said to those people up in central Canada, that had nowhere to trade with except with the U.S., that was the only partner they had to trade with because they wouldn't trade with us and we weren't trading with them. I shouldn't say they sold us a bill of goods, they sold us on Confederation and we joined. It wasn't to the advantage of this province to do that, Mr. Speaker. It was to the advantage of Upper Canada because now we could no longer export and import from the south, we had to export and import predominantly to central Canada.
That is not our natural trade route, Mr. Speaker. We had to ship everything there. Today we can do it, of course, by road but in those days we were doing it by rail, a very expensive way of shipping commodities, compared to shipping.
In 1867, I suggest to you that this province started on a decline. I think that any history book will tell you that. We were no longer the predominant manufacturing part of Canada, we were no longer by far the largest exporter in Canada, we just became a handmaiden to Upper Canada and shipped our stuff out very expensively by rail, and then naturally started to lose our markets. In Ontario and Quebec, they had the opportunity to ship even further west to the new provinces in western Canada, which we didn't simply because of the economics of what the costs of shipping were. That is fine, we have gotten along for the last hundred and some-odd years until the present.
You know, there is a problem in this country. If somebody in Ontario can manufacture paint and sell it in the Province of Nova Scotia for less than we can produce the paint, then they should have the right to ship that paint here and extinguish whatever manufacturing you have in the paint industry. The same thing applies to furniture or anything else. They have the economies of scale in central Canada, they have the population, they have the density around the Niagara Peninsula of Detroit, Buffalo and those other cities in between; they have a tremendous market. We don't have that market any more. We are just trying to rejuvenate our market to the south now, because we have decided finally that that market to us is not our best avenue.
So we come along with a bill, as I say, that is not a Nova Scotian bill; this is a bill by the federal government. They have a piece of legislation for inter-provincial trade to permit goods to flow across Canada without barrier or hinderance and also, and most importantly, to prevent provinces from having some mechanism to enable them to in some way, a very small way in most cases, protect their own home-grown industries. We cannot always compete. We can compete pretty well, but there are some areas where we cannot compete.
What this bill does is the federal government says, we are going to pass a masterpiece of legislation and all provinces by agreement will buy into the inter-provincial trade agreement. They will all put out the same piece of legislation, all pass them, which will then permit the free movement of goods across inter-provincial borders without hinderance and will not permit that kind of preferential treatment that you give to your own home-grown industries.
MR. SPEAKER: I wonder if the member would allow an introduction?
MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, by all means.
MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Citadel.
MR. TERENCE DONAHOE: Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to have the opportunity to introduce to you and to all members a group of Grade 9 students from Gorsebrook School which is one of the most famous schools in my constituency, Halifax Citadel. Those students are accompanied today by Ms. Judy Robertson and they are here to listen to my colleague from Hants West, who is in full flight on internal trade in the country. As I said, these young people are members of the Grade 9 class and are very much interested in the doings of our work here in the Legislature. I would invite all members to extend to them and to Ms. Judy Robertson a traditional warm welcome. Perhaps they would rise and acknowledge the welcome. (Applause)
MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I too would like to welcome the students from the Gorsebrook School because there is no doubt that those people will not only be coming out into the world to take our places in here, but also going out there and getting a job, and that is one of the prime things that we should be doing as legislators, creating the environment and the necessary legislation so that we do have occupations and jobs for the people coming out of school today. This bill doesn't do that.
This bill is called mirror legislation. Supposedly, it mirrors the legislation that the federal government put through. It is about yea thick; it is a master bill. When we sign this, we agree to that master bill. We agree to everything that is in that bill. Now, we are one of 10 provinces, Mr. Speaker, who is going to ratify this agreement but the trick is, why do we have to be number one in recognizing that piece of master legislation, why?
My colleague to my left, when he was speaking a few moments ago was talking about four provinces having ratified this legislation. I should not say that is not true because I am inferring that the member did not tell the truth but, in point of fact, Alberta has a piece of legislation nothing like this. It gives all kinds of preference to Albertan industries and processes. The Province of Ontario has a piece of legislation presently, I believe, in committee which is nothing like this. It gives all kinds of preferences to Ontario. The Province of Newfoundland has a piece of legislation like this that they have not as yet passed. It is nothing like this piece of legislation.
If we pass this bill - and we are in third reading now, the last step for this legislation, if we pass this bill today - and we probably will because the government has got enough people here to do it, I am telling you, we are taking a step down that same road that we took in 1867; absolutely and finally, we are going down a road that is going to lead to economic disaster in this province, Mr. Speaker, because this bill is trash.
Mr. Speaker, I have told the story many times in this House and I do not want to get repetitive but I will tell it again anyway. We have in this province one paint manufacturer, one person that mixes up paint and makes paint. That person's main business is painting the yellow lines down the centre of the highways, the white lines along the sides and all those other things that we have on the pavement. That takes hundreds of thousands of gallons of paint every year to keep those markings on the pavement. We have a manufacturer in Nova Scotia that manufacturers that kind of paint and it is darn good paint. He also manufacturers other paint for painting this place, perhaps, residential houses and what have you. He is a paint manufacturer. He is in Nova Scotia and he is a Nova Scotian.
Several years ago, and it was not this government's fault actually, I was in government at that time, and we decided that we would go to tender through the Department of Transportation to get paint for the highways. We got a bid from a large manufacturer in the Province of Ontario. It was approximately, I believe, Mr. Speaker, 15 per cent to 20 per cent lower than the manufacturer from Nova Scotia had bid.
Now, Mr. Speaker, if we had accepted - this is the Government of Nova Scotia, Department of Transportation - that bid, that paint manufacturer would have lost his main sale of that product. As a result of that, very likely, within a year or two, that manufacturer would be out of business. Then we would have gone to tender and that company out there in Ontario would come back and their price would not be 15 per cent lower, it would be 15 per cent higher. In the long run, we would have been the losers.
We did something that created a lot of problems with other paint companies across this country. We said, well, under the bidding process, we do not necessarily have to choose the lowest bidder so we are going to choose our Nova Scotian friend who supplied us with paint in the past. He is not the lowest bidder, but at least he is a Nova Scotian producer. We know he is going to be here today, he is going to be here tomorrow, he is employing Nova Scotians, he is pumping money back into the local economy and he makes a darn good product. That comes about by giving some preference - it doesn't have to be a lot - to local manufacturers. I don't see anything wrong with that at all. But under this bill, you can't do that any more.
In fact, under this bill, even a piece of legislation that comes under the Minister of Natural Resources, in one of his Acts it talks about who shall be employed as a guide in the Province of Nova Scotia. One of the things that Act says is that a guide - who is going to guide, in Nova Scotia, visitors out hunting, fishing and trapping - must be a Nova Scotian resident. In this bill, what do we do? We take that away from the Department of Natural Resources through their particular piece of legislation. I don't know what the Act is offhand, but I can find it, whatever it is. (Interruptions) The Wildlife Act, thank you.
In the Wildlife Act, we are taking away that privilege that Nova Scotians have to be trappers and to be guides in the Province of Nova Scotia for those visitors who come into this province to go out fishing and hunting, et cetera. Under this Act, somebody could walk in here from the middle of Manitoba and say, I am a guide in the Province of Nova Scotia. What kind of advertisement is that for this province, to have somebody who is completely unfamiliar with the history of this province, perhaps completely unaware of the flora and fauna of this province, and completely unaware of the local places that he should be taking these people to, to ensure a maximum catch or a maximum hunt?
Mr. Speaker, I don't know why we have to rush into this. I honest to goodness don't understand why we have to be first. Why don't we wait and see what the other provinces have done? If they have done what we said we were going to do in this bill, fair ball, let's do it. But for goodness sake, why do we saddle ourselves with this piece of legislation when we don't immediately have to. We can wait.
Mr. Speaker, I am not against inter-provincial trade; I am for open borders and all those kinds of things that go along with it. But, however, I am also in favour of anything that can help this particular province I happen to reside in and in which I am very much at home. This piece of legislation, I tell you, at the present time will not do that. We should not pass it, so I am going to vote against third reading of this bill. But I am not voting against free trade, I am voting against this bill. Perhaps one year from now, when British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, Newfoundland, New Brunswick and the Territories have voted on a bill like this, then perhaps I will say, okay, they have done it, let's join them, because now it is a completely level playing field, perhaps that is fair ball. So, at the present time, I am not going to vote for it.
MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Citadel.
MR. TERENCE DONAHOE: Mr. Speaker, I don't know that my remarks will be as lengthy as those just offered by my good friend and colleague, the member for Hants West, and I may not, perhaps, deliver them in quite as passionate a fashion as he has, but my concerns are similar. I said in earlier stages of debate of this particular legislation that the agreement itself, which is not appended, interestingly enough, to the bill - we had to go through some effort to get our hands on the bill and make requests that we have a copy made available to us - is among the most complex and difficult pieces of reading that any member of this House will have confronted. I don't know, quite candidly, how many members of this House have bothered to have a look. I said in earlier stages of the debate that I did try to wade my way through much of it. I say without hesitation or reservation that there are all kinds of provisions and elements in that particular Agreement on Internal Trade which, as has been so well pointed out by my colleague from Hants West, should give us little or no comfort here in the Province of Nova Scotia that we are, in fact, protected at all.
The member for Hants West is absolutely right, and I haven't yet heard a refutation of the allegations from the Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency, that the Province of New Brunswick has protective policies, the Province of Quebec has protective policies, the Province of Ontario has protective policies. I can name virtually every province of this country. Here we are, the small Province of Nova Scotia, with a very fragile economy, dependent upon trade with other parts of the country but increasingly, as has been pointed out, and rightly so, dependent upon trade with our neighbours to the south, an area, frankly, of trade in relation to which we should be spending more attention even than is being spent now.
I don't think this bill is at all a reflection of the legislation that is being enacted by other jurisdictions. If the Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency will stand up and say that this is what he said initially it was, then I will sit down and keep my mouth shut and say nothing more about it. If the Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency will stand up and say that this is mirror image legislation and mirror image means it is an exact reflection of what is happening with legislation in other provincial jurisdictions to introduce this national Agreement on Internal Trade and the reduction of internal trade barriers, then so be it, but the fact of the matter is that it is not. If you look at legislation passed in three or four other jurisdictions, the legislation in those other jurisdictions is very significantly different than is the case here.
My colleague from Hants West made reference to the guides. I note, with interest, that this legislation amends the Revised Statutes of the Province of Nova Scotia, the Pipeline Act. The development of a pipeline in this province, Mr. Speaker, may be exceedingly important to us here. I don't know whether it is going to happen, I hope it happens for the sake of the economic development that would ensure and would result. But this legislation which we now purport to pass here has, under a heading called Consequential Amendments, provisions in it which whereas now there are protections to the Nova Scotia work force enabling them to have the inside track on work in relation to pipeline work in the Province of Nova Scotia, that is now to be done away with.
Where do the majority of the men and women who work in the pipeline industry live and work now? It certainly isn't in the Province of Nova Scotia. I can bet you dollars to doughnuts that upon the passage of this legislation, if, in fact, our pipeline project goes forward, and I trust again that it will, you can be guaranteed that the overwhelming percentage of the men and women who will work and receive a substantial paycheque relative to that work here in our Province of Nova Scotia in relation to our offshore gas and oil, will be men and women from other places in the country.
Now I don't have a problem with the fact that men and women in other places in the country should have some mobility to come and work in the Province of Nova Scotia. The problem is, however, that it is not an even or a level playing field. If you look at the legislation that has been passed in the Province of Alberta, you look at the legislation passed elsewhere, it doesn't cut the other way and it will not be possible to the same extent for men and women in the Province of Nova Scotia to gain employment in other places across the country. I haven't yet heard and I repeat it, because I think it is worth the repetition, I haven't yet heard the Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency give the commitment to the taxpayers of Nova Scotia that the legislation he asks us to pass and this Savage Government asks us to pass here in this House today, I haven't heard him give the undertaking that this legislation is a mirror image of the legislation being passed in the other provinces of Canada. If he will stand up and tell us that, then I repeat, I have no argument. But it isn't the case.
I note with interest, too, here, Mr. Speaker, that not only is the Pipeline Act amended as a consequential amendment in this legislation, but the Mineral Resources Act is amended. It adds a clause in Subsection 112(1) of the Mineral Resources Act of our province, "`to any place outside of Canada'". I didn't realize I was going to be looking at Bill No. 33 and I don't have a couple of file materials which I had with me the other day, but I suggest to you, that change to our Mineral Resources Act is going to redound to the benefit of people outside of the Province of Nova Scotia and not to Nova Scotians.
The consequential amendments are most interesting. I see that the Civil Service Act, interestingly, is amended by striking out, "`or have resided in the Province' in the fourth line and substituting `in Canada'". Will the Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency make the promise, commitment and the guarantee in this place today that every other province in Canada is amending their Civil Service Act to the effect that there will be no preference available to the residents of other provinces in all other provinces of Canada relative to access to gainful employment in the Civil Service of all of the other provinces of Canada as we purport to do here? Will he give that promise?
AN HON. MEMBER: No.
MR. DONAHOE: He hasn't yet. He didn't when he introduced the bill on second reading. He didn't at any time that the matter was before the Law Amendments Committee. He hasn't here, to my knowledge, as it is here before us now in third reading and, frankly, my research indicates that that change has not been made in the Civil Service Acts of other provinces. So what are we doing? What are we doing? We are being the good guys. We are saying, let's change our Civil Service Act. Anybody who lives in this country, who wants to come down here and apply, doesn't have to worry about any residence requirements or whatever. Bingo, just file your application. If you have all kinds of qualifications, you end up in our Civil Service and thank you very much and I hope you enjoy the Nova Scotia paycheque.
Well, that's fine if every other single Civil Service Act in every other province is amended to read similarly. But they aren't. So why can't the Nova Scotian who may want to, indeed, may God forbid, by reason of personal circumstances, be forced to make a move to another part of our country, have that same unfettered access, may I say, to Civil Service employment in other provinces? Why? Well, I don't know the answer to why and the reason I don't know the answer to why - and I say there isn't a minister in this government who knows the answer and there isn't a member of the government caucus in this place who knows the answer - because the Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency has not stood in his place and said, yes, Mr. Speaker; yes, fellow legislators; yes, Nova Scotians; that same change is being made in the Civil Service legislation in all of the other provinces in Canada.
So what in the name of Heaven are we doing here? Why are we deciding that we have to jump the gun, make changes? I am telling you, Mr. Speaker, from my analysis of the Agreement on Internal Trade which is 1,700 or more sections and my contacts with people in Ottawa - I made some calls - and my contacts with people in other provinces, I am satisfied that that agreement isn't yet cast in stone at all. There are going to be considerable changes in that agreement.
I suggest to you that it is absolute stupidity and folly for us as a province to pass this piece of legislation, to enshrine an Agreement on Internal Trade across this province, and as has been said by my colleague and has been said by so many others, I would love to have a situation country-wide where there is not a barrier of any kind to mobility of work force, capital, economic opportunity, the opportunity of men and women from Nova Scotia to be in other places in the country and create new wealth for themselves and their families there and vice versa. That is not what is going on and if we are, with respect - I say sincerely, and I mean it, I say it with as much fervour as I can because I am concerned - we are jumping the gun and we are going to be left in the backwash of the big economic powers of this country.
This Agreement on Internal Trade is not yet final. Just as recently as a few days ago, the Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency sent over to me a fax indicating that there are new amendments going to Parliament relative to this particular agreement; the feds are going to amend their legislation which purports to enshrine and endorse this particular agreement. The Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency sent them over to me just a few days ago. Well, if they are still in the process of changing it, why are we in the process of enshrining it? It just simply does not make sense. I suggest, with the greatest respect, that there is not one Nova Scotian business which will be disadvantaged if we are to wait a reasonable time to have further discussion with the feds, and with our provincial partners, to ensure that this legislation will have the effect that it does.
You note that this bill has effect, Mr. Speaker, if it passes, on and after July 1, 1995. I mean this is retroactive legislation. I just finished saying that the Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency sent over a copy of a fax to me the other day indicating that, just in recent weeks, proposed changes are being made at the federal level. Why are we introducing and passing a piece of legislation which has legal effect (Interruption) Well, the Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency can joke with the Minister of Transportation and Communications, but the Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency is leading the people of Nova Scotia down the garden path with this particular piece of legislation.
I ask the Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency to stand in his place and answer the question that I put a moment ago. I ask him to stand and say, here in this place, that every other province is changing their Civil Service legislation in the same manner and to the same effect that we are changing our Civil Service legislation. I wonder, would the Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency accept a question from me? I wonder, Mr. Speaker, through you, whether the Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency would accept a question from me on that very point?
MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member for Halifax Citadel has the floor. I assume the honourable member will sum up if he so chooses.
MR. DONAHOE: Right. I am curious if the minister would be interested in answering a question for me, at this point, relative to the Civil Service legislation?
MR. SPEAKER: At this point, the honourable member for Halifax Citadel has the floor.
MR. DONAHOE: I take it the answer is no. Well, I say this. It is fine that the minister can say no, he does not want to answer my question about the Civil Service Act but, I am telling you, Mr. Speaker, and we are going to tell the people of Nova Scotia because we are right, if the Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency will not stand in this House before this bill finishes and say to the people of Nova Scotia that all the other provinces of Canada and the Government of Canada are changing their Civil Service legislation in exactly the way, and to the same legal effect as we are in this bill, if he will not do that then, boy, I am going to tell him he is going to pay the price because he is leading the people of Nova Scotia down the garden path.
This bill says that it has effect on or before July 1, 1995. Will the Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency answer this question? Has the Agreement on Internal Trade been amended in any way since July 1, 1995? Will the minister answer me that question?
MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. If I recognize the minister it will be to close the debate. The honourable member for Halifax Citadel has the floor.
MR. DONAHOE: Fine, well, we are certainly looking . . .
MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. Just to be helpful, I would indicate that certainly if what the member for Halifax Citadel is saying is incorrect, the minister can stand on a point of information or a point of order to correct it and thereby get the answers to the questions across without concluding the debate.
MR. SPEAKER: I do not hear a point of order. There is no point of order.
MR. DONAHOE: Mr. Speaker, it is my understanding that, first of all, a considerable number of provinces in this country have not yet ratified this agreement. It is also my understanding that changes have been made to the agreement subsequent to July 1, 1995. This bill purports to be effective as of July 1, 1995. So what are we enshrining? What Agreement on Internal Trade are we ratifying by this agreement? I guess we will have to have, maybe next week, maybe Christmas Eve when we are still here debating some of this legislation, the Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency come forward with an amending piece of legislation to amend Bill No. 33, to provide for the changes which have been made to the Agreement on Internal Trade, subsequent to July 1, 1995.
AN HON. MEMBER: We won't be here on Christmas Eve.
ANOTHER HON. MEMBER: No, it's a Sunday.
MR. DONAHOE: Well, that's all right, I will be here. You have the House in session and we will be here to debate it. You be here to debate this and we will be here to talk about it with you.
I would like to ask the minister, he doesn't have to and he is not always prone to, but I would like the minister to indicate, when he closes debate on this bill, to say to the people of Nova Scotia that every other province which has passed legislation relative to this Agreement on Internal Trade has passed honest to God, legitimate, mirror legislation to this bill, and that they have, in fact, done in the other provinces, relative to the removal of barriers purportedly or presumably consistent with this agreement, what is purported to be done by this legislation.
I challenge the Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency to stand in his place when he closes debate on this legislation and say that every other jurisdiction in the country has changed its Civil Service legislation in the manner that our Civil Service legislation will be changed here. I challenge the Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency to tell us how it is that changes made to the agreement as of July 1, 1995, are, in fact, effective as a consequence of the passage of this particular piece of legislation. I challenge this Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency to satisfy all Nova Scotians that the changes made in our Wildlife Act in the Province of Nova Scotia are absolutely consistent with the changes made to similar legislation in all other provinces of the country.
I ask the minister and challenge the minister to say to this province that the impact of the change to the Pipeline Act in the Province of Nova Scotia, that the same change has been made in the Province of Alberta and all other jurisdictions across the country. If he can't make those promises, those commitments, those guarantees, then, frankly, I am not going to say that the minister misleads the people of Nova Scotia, but the language of the bill certainly does because the language of the bill purports to ratify an agreement and the agreement is still in a state of transition and in a state of flux. It isn't final and all other jurisdictions across this country have not yet ratified it.
I say, with respect, Mr. Speaker, that this minister in his haste to be able to go back probably to his provincial and federal colleagues and say boy, we got on with the business and we certainly are playing the game. We are ratifying this Agreement on Internal Trade and look at the wonderful piece of legislation we introduced to ratify the agreement. Haste is going to make waste and chaos here in this particular instance, I say that with respect because I believe it is flawed and I believe it is premature - not to be confused with immature - and I believe that it will cause considerable difficulty in the next while for the Province of Nova Scotia and the working men and women of the Province of Nova Scotia.
I will vote against Bill No. 33 and I would respectfully request that the minister indicate, if he will and make the guarantees that I ask relative to those particular provisions and if he makes all of those guarantees then, Mr. Speaker, maybe you and I could make a deal with Mr. Caley, the Editor of Hansard that we will scrap everything that I have said in the last little while. I will do that as soon as I get the guarantees from the Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency. The bill is premature and is flawed, it should not be supported and I will vote against Bill No. 33.
MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.
MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity to speak respecting this bill which is before us, An Act to Implement the Agreement on Internal Trade. I have spoken against this bill as it has proceeded through the House, irrespective of what stage. I am extremely pleased to hear my colleagues speak against the bill because my learned colleagues realize that this is a very bad piece of legislation. In fact, I would go so far as to say that this legislation is fanatical.
When you look at the legislation and understand what the legislation is saying and understand the true meaning of the legislation, you will very quickly determine that this bill gives Nova Scotians and us in this House very little or no comfort at all. We can take no solace from this piece of legislation. If a Nova Scotian worker had an opportunity to read this legislation and understand the full meaning of it, they would have absolutely no consolation at all from the meaning of this legislation.
Mr. Speaker, you know as well as I do that as Nova Scotians we are very dependent upon our fellow Nova Scotians, we support each other in this province, we are contingent upon each other. If this legislation goes through, that reliance that we take for granted today will become very vulnerable. We as a province and as taxpayers in Nova Scotia will become very vulnerable. We don't have a whole of lot of protections right now and we don't enjoy an economy that is extremely vibrant as say some of our other sister provinces enjoy. Newfoundland, for example, has legislation that protects that province's trade.
I had a call just recently from an organization and a company in my constituency that does blasting and drilling. Do you know that if you go to New Brunswick to do work, you have to pay an equipment tax so really there is a disincentive. If you bought a piece of machinery in Nova Scotia and paid your 11 per cent sales tax and went to work in New Brunswick you are pro-rated on a 36 month period. So if you are working in New Brunswick and you work for six months or essentially 16.5 per cent of your work was conducted in New Brunswick, you have to pay the New Brunswick Government one-sixth of the sales tax that you paid for that piece of equipment. Very informally, I pass that information along to the Finance Minister of this province because he said informally that yes, he understood that was so and he said he would look into it and get back to me. I know he will do that, I am not saying that he won't, with all respect. New Brunswick has protection measures in place.
In Quebec, they protect the rights of the Quebec worker. In Ontario, there are protection measures in place to protect the Ontarians. In Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, New Brunswick, so why shouldn't our Nova Scotians, our fellow workers, enjoy some of that mobility and flexibility that our neighbours enjoy. Why are we the first province and we are and the Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency will not dispute it, it is irrefutable, he cannot say that this legislation mirrors anything other than what he and his staff have put on the table. That is absolutely despicable, it is absolutely fanatical that we will come forward with some legislation in a province that sorely needs a boost and support and should be providing and doing everything we can to support Nova Scotians.
We are coming in with something that flies in the face of that. We are coming in with legislation that, for example, strikes out the requirement that you must reside in the province as far as the Civil Service Act is concerned. The Mineral Resources Act is amended and of course it has been mentioned and I have mentioned several times and I won't get into the amendment that has been made to the Wildlife Act by striking out the word, resident. I can't for the life of me understand why these different Acts have been amended. If you do look at the legislation you very quickly become familiar with the fact that this legislation will be detrimental to our Nova Scotian worker and will be detrimental to our potential Nova Scotian worker. It is a sad comment when the Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency refuses, so to speak, to give us any assurance that this type of legislation is, in fact, being worked on in the other provinces. We certainly have reason to be concerned.
We have been told that this legislation is supposed to mirror legislation that the federal government is working on and legislation that our neighbouring provinces are working on. As near as we can tell and the minister doesn't refute this, this legislation is dissimilar to national internal trade legislation. Again, it is important that the Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency recognize and understand that we, as Nova Scotians, are very dependent and reliant on the Nova Scotian economy.
Not too long ago it was announced that there are some plans to bring our offshore gas into Country Harbour, Guysborough County and of course, there are some by-products relative to that announcement but we won't get into those now, where the Minister of Natural Resources may have given up some of the entitlements that we may enjoy. Nonetheless, the fact is that pipeline workers in this province will not have first dibs at that work. That could be all the different trades that will be involved, welders, pipe fitters, steam fitters, high pressure welders and so on and so forth. I have great difficulty with that, especially where most of the other provinces have legislation in place that protects the worker who is native to that very province. So why are we doing it?
It has been suggested that this is sheer folly and I certainly subscribe to that, it is very short-sighted to come in with legislation when our province is so small in terms of numbers when compared to Quebec and Ontario. Legislation like this will ensure, as far as I am concerned, that New Brunswick goes on and continues to be number one in terms of the GDP and the economic development and so on and so forth. If we come in with legislation like this, I am sure Frank McKenna and his gang will be laughing all the way to the bank. They will be laughing all the way to the bank, so it gives us a great deal of difficulty. There are many outfitters and many guides in this province who rely on the little bit of seasonal work they get relative to the hunting seasons at the different times throughout the year. The Wildlife Act is even being amended here by striking out the word resident.
The Minister of Natural Resources is a very busy man. I had an opportunity to raise this concern when the minister was in the House and I will tell you, he sure looked surprised, when the Minister of Natural Resources found out that the Wildlife Act is being amended. I will bet you if other members, whether they are on the front benches or on the back benches of the government side, looked at the legislation, read it and understood it, they would be very surprised too. I encourage particularly the backbenchers to go to the front benches and ask the members what you are doing here any way. Why are you bringing in An Act to Implement the Agreement to Internal Trade.
Shouldn't our Nova Scotia workers enjoy a little bit of mobility, a little bit of flexibility? We are not saying that every job that comes along, a Nova Scotian must have it. That is not what we are saying. We are saying, what is wrong with giving our Nova Scotians first dibs? IMP up in Amherst, for example, what is wrong with giving a Nova Scotian first chance at one of those jobs? There may be a high skill job come along up there, but because of this Internal Trade Agreement somebody could come in from Ontario. Nothing wrong with Ontarians, they are fine people. The fact of the matter is, there are a lot of Nova Scotians out of work. We do not need legislation like this, I would submit, until we get our Nova Scotians back to work. Let us look after some Nova Scotians here, that is what I think we are in the business for. Again, I say this legislation is very obsessive.
The Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency has been encouraged by the member for Halifax Citadel to tell us if, in fact, the other provinces, to his knowledge, are coming forward with similar legislation, if they are going to amend their Civil Service Act and so on and so forth. The minister probably will comment on that when he gives his summary comments.
Mr. Speaker, as you probably can tell, I will not be voting in favour of this legislation. I think it is a bad piece of legislation. I do think that it is fanatical and I do not think it can be defended and I do not think it should go through the House. Thank you very much.
MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings North.
MR. GEORGE ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure again to rise in the House and talk about an Act to Implement an Agreement on Internal Trade. We have talked about this a couple of times before and we are not any closer to getting to the bottom of the questions now than we were a month ago.
I guess the primary question, as posed earlier by other members of this caucus and the NDP speaker, is, why has Nova Scotia hopped aboard this, first and only? Why are we trying to plow new ground? Since Confederation, people have been plowing us. We used to be the richest, most powerful place in the country. The Fathers of Confederation met in the building where we are sitting right now. This is where they really decided how to build a country. But then something happened. Population growth, lack of influence with federal decision-makers and we have been in the bushes ever since. How is this bill going to help you, me and our children get a better lifestyle? How is it going to create more jobs in Nova Scotia? It sure beats me.
I think it is artificial for this government to be bringing it in. Do you remember, Mr. Speaker, during the election campaign that the members said, free trade is terrible, do not trade with anybody, build a wall around yourself and live in it?
AN HON. MEMBER: Who said that?
MR. ARCHIBALD: The Liberals, you did. I heard you. The Liberals said, free trade is bad, we do not want to trade with the Americans. Remember that, Mr. Speaker? This is what they were saying the whole time we had the election, free trade is bad. They said it was going to wreck the poultry industry; it was going to wreck the dairy industry; it was going to wreck everything.
You know this is such a revelation, that all of a sudden the Liberals have learned how to spell trade. I am not sure that they are in favour of it, but now they know how to spell it, so that is an improvement. You see, Mr. Speaker, (Interruptions)
MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member for Kings North has the floor.
MR. ARCHIBALD: Well, Mr. Speaker, we are getting a lot of helpful hints. But you know this is third reading, the Government House Leader says this is third reading and he told you what page to read in Beauchesne. He says this doesn't apply; you can't say things like that in third reading.
Well there are a lot of things that you shouldn't be doing and can't be doing and ought not to be doing in this Chamber in the last two and a half years. We have set precedents in this House like you wouldn't believe. Pretty nearly every day the Speaker of this Chamber sets a precedent and the government is right behind him, urging him on. You know precedents went out the window with this government, Mr. Speaker. If you can find somewhere in Beauchesne that tells me I am not allowed to speak about this bill on third reading in anything but glowing terms, please read it to me.
You know this bill indicates that we are going to be the first province in Canada, and our Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency is going to set another first and this will be his first for internal trade. Why are we first? We are not first in job creation in Atlantic Canada any more; we used to be.
AN HON. MEMBER: Oh no, no, we are first now. We weren't when you fellows were in power.
MR. ARCHIBALD: Well look, you are first in layoffs. I mean the Minister of Health laid off 28 people in Halifax last week, and the Minister of Natural Resources was on hand yesterday when Stora announced they would be creating 800 . . .
MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I would ask the honourable member to please direct his remarks towards the bill.
MR. ARCHIBALD: Well I am. But you know, yesterday they announced it was 200 new jobs at Stora, but you take that away from the 2,800 that the Minister of Health laid off and you still have a deficit of 2,600. So you see that is the math.
So it is interesting that this Liberal Government is suddenly for trade across Canada when clearly, day after day, they were anti-trade, anti-free trade, anti-trade with anybody, protectionism was the way. But why the change all of a sudden? I don't know. Why is the Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency so enthusiastic to be number one with this bill in all of Canada? I mean it is just peculiar, to say the least.
I think there were things the minister could do that would help and assist Nova Scotia manufacturers, and it would help Nova Scotia employers and employees. The government is just trying to get off the ground with community economic development; perhaps the minister should be spending his activities in turning his people loose in community economic development, something to create jobs in Nova Scotia rather than having all his staff directing their attention towards this bill that may or may not ever be adopted in the rest of Canada. You see that is a peculiar situation.
There have been other times in the recent past when all the ministers agreed on a bill and the next thing you know the governments didn't pass it. This may be one of those times. We may be the only province in Canada that says, a good bill, we will take it. It is not the same. Apparently Ottawa is making amendments as quick as a wink to the original bill and we are going to have to be adopting them as well.
Mr. Speaker, this bill covers a lot of ground. This bill is a complicated bill because it deals with several other bills at the same time under the consequential amendment section, which is really a very important section of the bill. In that clause it deals with the Civil Service and it scratches out where you should have been resided in the province and you should reside in Canada in order to become eligible for a Civil Service position. That is interesting because this government since June 1993 has done everything possible to get around the Civil Service hiring guidelines, to get around any qualifications that people may have needed or required before for an interview. Anything that speaks of fair hiring, this government has been trying to get around anyway. So we should not be surprised that there is no preference for Nova Scotians and the Civil Service Act has been amended so that as long as you live somewhere in Canada, that is good enough. So long as you resided somewhere in Canada. It does not say you are a Canadian, but as long as you hang your hat some place handy.
The Gas Utilities Act has also changed. Only a person who resides in Canada may apply for a franchise or amend the transfer of a franchise. What in the dickens do Nova Scotians, by and large and what do members of this House, what association do we have with the Gas Utilities Act? Why is that in here? Why are there not other Acts amended here? What is the agenda of this government and where are the explanatory notes that tell us why they have singled out, among others, the Gas Utilities Act? Why does that have to be included in this bill? Well it is probably because in western Canada in the oil producing regions and the natural gas producing regions, it is of real consequences. Our gas industry has not got off the ground yet or has not got out of the ground yet, but yet we put this in to be helpful.
The Lightning Rod Act something of great interest. We do not see nearly the interest in lightening rods now as we did in years gone by. I do not know whether people feel they do not work anymore or maybe the lightning has changed, but you use to see everybody's house with half a dozen lightning rods and every farm, every year people had to spend $1,500 and get them all retested to make sure the ground was good and proper. Anyway, the Lightning Rod Act has been changed and I am sure that there are probably hundreds and thousands of Nova Scotians and Canadians who will be greatly relieved to know that the Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency for Nova Scotia is concerned about the Lightning Rod Act. With massive unemployment, massive health care cuts, massive changes in our education system and the Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency, one of his priorities is the Lightning Rod Act. I have to tell you, Mr. Speaker, this is a little bit strange.
The Mineral Resources Act is also amended and the Pipeline Act. We don't have a pipeline, but we have amendments to the Act already. I mean this Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency is really doing his job. He is attacking the problems before they arise and he is going to see to it that any benefit that may have gone to a Nova Scotian or a Nova Scotia company is shuffled away so that a Canadian company from anywhere in Canada is going to get the benefit from any job whether it be in installing lightning rods which happens all the time. I am sure all members in this House probably have a lightning rod inspection, at least, you know.
Mr. Speaker, why? The Real Estate Brokers Licensing Act, I mean this Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency has really hit the hot spots of employment. This bill is guaranteed to create massive numbers of jobs in this great Province of Nova Scotia. Between lightning rods, real estate brokers and the Wildlife Act. He has hit the hot spots. Do not talk about manufacturing, do not talk about anything like that, just go after that real big stuff like pipeline construction and such. (Interruptions) Look out for the rabbit hunters and you know if you want to hire a guide for taking you rabbit hunting, you can now hire a guide from British Columbia to take you through the beautiful countryside in Hants County or up in Inverness. I mean it would be great. It does not say you have know where you are. It just has to say you should be a Canadian.
I got to tell you, Mr. Speaker, where are the priorities of this man's government? Lightning rods, gas pipelines, franchises, you know. When we get calls day after day from senior citizens and their number one concern is health care or the Medicare card that they cannot follow and this government's priority is this. This, Mr. Speaker, is hypocrisy at the greatest level. The first province in Canada to decide it has to be done, we have to do it. All these people sitting opposite on the front benches and all these folks in the back benches say, we've got to do this, it is number one on our hit parade.
Well, Mr. Speaker, I say that is a whole lot of bunk. Number one on the hit parade of this government should be job creation. Number one is not job creation. This is just another example of this government and its betrayal of the people of Nova Scotia. We were promised jobs and we are delivered this by the Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency. Not one job in here unless you happen to be interested in moving here from British Columbia to sell real estate or lightning rods. I think this bill is a joke and I think the minister should withdraw it.
MR. SPEAKER: Are there any further speakers to the bill? If not the question is called. Would all those in favour of the motion that Bill No. 33 be read now (Interruption) Do several members request a recorded vote? Two do. Very well.
We will ring the bells and call in the members for a recorded vote.
[The Division bells were rung.]
MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for third reading of Bill No. 33.
Are the Whips satisfied?
[The Clerk calls the roll.]
Mr. Barkhouse Mr. Donahoe
Mrs. Norrie Mr. Russell
Mr. Downe Mr. Moody
Mr. Gillis Mr. Holm
Dr. Stewart Mr. Chisholm
Mr. Mann Mr. Archibald
Mr. Casey Mr. Taylor
Mr. Gaudet Mr. MacLeod
Mr. M. MacDonald
Mr. W. MacDonald
THE CLERK: For, 27. Against, 8.
MR. SPEAKER: The motion is carried.
Ordered that the bill as a whole be passed. Ordered that the title be as read by the Clerk. Ordered that the bill be engrossed.
The honourable Government House Leader.
HON. RICHARD MANN: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 44.
Bill No. 44 - Motor Vehicle Act.
MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Transportation and Communications.
HON. RICHARD MANN: Mr. Speaker, I move third reading of Bill No. 44.
MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.
MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I just wanted to point out that we have received some correspondence from the taxi industry. I see a section in the bill in the Motor Vehicle Act that deletes a section from the Halifax Regional Municipality Act. I had asked the acting Minister of Transportation why that was done when the minister was away last week. I am wondering if perhaps the Minister of Transportation could tell us if this amendment has been done, so to speak, with the approval of the taxi industry in this province?
MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party.
MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, my comments will be relatively brief, first of all, dealing with the taxi business. I think that is pretty well in allowing the continuation of the zones as they exist in the metropolitan area. I certainly approve of the abilities or the powers that the bill gives to the municipalities with respect to parking and so on.
The one area that I still do have some concerns for, Mr. Speaker, is the raising of the speed limits for school buses up to 100 kilometres an hour. I know that the minister, and he made a good case for it before, indicated that part of the problem is that if the buses are going slower that creates a safety hazard and that some vehicles will try to pass or drive in such a way that can create greater risk for the students and the safe transport of the students as a result of that lower speed. By speeding up then in fact some of those safety concerns can be addressed. I cannot help but say, however and I appreciate that and I should have remembered it myself because I knew it before the minister reminded me during the Committee of the Whole debate if I was thinking back to some earlier discussions we had had on it, that seat belts are not the answer necessarily on school buses that properly it would be turning the seats around and that would provide increases safety.
Mr. Speaker, I still have mixed reservations as to the appropriateness of having school buses which are transporting our students on the major highways across the province, travelling at 100 kilometres an hour. Certainly, they would have a responsibility to drive prudently, but as the regional boards are developed and the boards are trying to get the savings, if the speed limits are increased and that possibly would mean that they would try to have those buses covering a greater distance which would require increased travel speed for those vehicles.
I do not know exactly what the answer is. Possibly a requirement as new buses, over a period of time, are being purchased to replace existing buses, looking at increased safety standards within those vehicles. But that one provision of the Act without having seen clear reports that have been done on studies to illustrate clearly that it is safer for those buses to be travelling at 100 kilometres an hour instead of the maximum levels that are currently allowed, I really do have very severe reservations about that one provision. So maybe the minister will, at some time, provide copies of reports that indicate that it is, in fact, safer for the buses to be travelling at a higher speed rather than the current level that is permitted. So with those few brief remarks, Mr. Speaker, I will, with that one reservation, be voting in support of the bill.
MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants West.
MR. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, with respect to Bill No. 44, I will be voting for the bill. It is probably what can be best described as a true housekeeping bill in that there is a grab bag of fairly minor changes, but nevertheless, I suppose, in some particular instances, fairly important changes in the Motor Vehicle Act.
Mr. Speaker, the last speaker, the Leader of the New Democratic Party, was talking about school buses travelling at 100 kilometres per hour. I am not too sure if, because of the fact that they are permitted to travel at the going rate on a 100-Series Highway that school buses and school drivers are necessarily going to do that. However, there are occasions when it is, indeed, dangerous for them to be operating at less than the speed of the flow of traffic. It creates congestion and, of course, people trying to hop past them because of the fact that at 75 kilometres they are truly slowing down the traffic. So I think that all things considered, a move, and I would think a move in the direction of creating less hazards for other traffic as well as for the buses themselves.
The other changes in the bill, such as permitting golf carts to cross a highway, I don't know whereabouts that is, to be quite honest. I presume that there are not too many golf courses that are running down on either side of a highway. (Interruption) Pardon? Keltic, okay, yes. I guess there are several. I was wondering why it wouldn't be possible to put a large culvert under the road and have the golf carts run underneath the road, rather than running across the road. (Interruption) Well, quite true. However, the thing is, Mr. Speaker, that sooner or later somebody is going to whack into a golf cart and there are going to be problems. I don't think the highways are any place for golf carts, so I am not too much in favour of that particular one.
The maximum fine for failure to yield at a pedestrian crosswalk, Mr. Speaker, the fine has been increased from $100 to $250 with the passage of this bill and I think that is a most considered amendment because there is no doubt that a lot of people do play chicken with somebody who is waiting to step off the sidewalk onto a crosswalk. We have had a number of accidents, particularly in the city, with regard to people getting hit on crosswalks. So I think that people who are not giving the pedestrian the right-of-way on a crosswalk should, indeed, if they are caught, be subject to a fine that is going to make them in future perhaps change their attitude towards pedestrians in crosswalks.
With regard to the taxis, I understand that the new metro city, whatever it is going to be called in the future, Halifax, Dartmouth and Bedford and the County, that they will be zoning and taxis will have to operate within their own particular zone. So, Mr. Speaker, whether that is a good amendment or not, I do not know. However, that is one that the city is going to have to decide.
So, Mr. Speaker, I will be voting in favour of this amendment. As I say, it is a housekeeping amendment but it is certainly one, it covers a number of items that I am sure have some particular importance to some particular people who operate on the highway system of Nova Scotia.
MR. SPEAKER: If I recognize the honourable minister it will be to close the debate.
The honourable Minister of Transportation and Communications.
HON. RICHARD MANN: Mr. Speaker, the member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley made reference to a section of the bill that applied to the taxi industry. We have attempted, as best we can, as a provincial government, to stay out of the taxi business and the regulations for taxis. Clearly they are regulations that rest with the municipal governments. So what we have done is as we have done with so many cases, we provide enabling legislation that allows the municipalities to set the regulations which will govern the operations of taxis.
The change in this bill from the Municipal Amalgamation Bill, in the Municipal Amalgamation Bill it allowed for the municipalities to create taxi zones in the new municipality. Taxi zones already exist so there was a fear, and I think a real fear, that with the creation of the new municipality existing taxi zones would disappear until such time as they were re-created, if a new government chose to do that. What this bill does, it dictates, if you will, that those zones will remain until such time they are changed by the new council. Clearly they do have the power to amend the change to alter the taxis zones. All this does is allow them to stay in place until such time as they do that, whereas the other one may have worked, in fact, the other way, they may have disappeared until they were reinstated.
With respect to school buses and school bus safety, I again point out that this amendment is made at the request of the Nova Scotia School Boards Association, the Nova Scotia Safety Council and the Advisory Council on Student Transportation. The member, I am sure, can request studies and information through those organizations if he wants to see the studies that have been done.
I would point out to the member for Hants West that this bill does not force school buses to drive 100 kilometres an hour on 100-Series Highways. In fact, you can drive the speed limit now and be charged for careless and imprudent driving or driving too fast for conditions. If the conditions are not favourable to going that speed, then you can be charged. One would hope that all the school bus drivers in this province are responsible enough that they are going to drive at a speed that allows for the maximum safety on the highways. This will allow the school buses to move along at the same rate of speed as other traffic on the highway, but does not force them to go 100 kilometres an hour. Hopefully, the responsible school bus drivers will determine, in fact, how fast those school buses should be going, within the parameters that the law allows. (Interruption) Have you seen legislation yet to allow for that? Bring in the legislation and I will support it.
Mr. Speaker, with that, I move for third reading.
MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for third reading of Bill No. 44. 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 Government House Leader.
HON. RICHARD MANN: I move that you do now leave the Chair and the House resolve itself into a Committee of the Whole House on Bills.
MR. SPEAKER: The motion is carried.
[5:03 p.m. The House resolved itself into a CWH on Bills with Acting Deputy Speaker Mr. Robert Carruthers in the Chair.]
[6:26 p.m. CWH on Bills rose and the House reconvened. Mr. Speaker, Hon. Paul MacEwan, resumed the Chair.]
MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The winner of the Adjournment debate is the honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party.
In his place, the honourable member for Halifax Atlantic wishes to debate the matter:
"Therefore be it resolved that this House endorses the call by the Halifax-Dartmouth and District Labour Council for public meetings on the latest Unemployment Insurance cutback proposal, and urges the fullest possible consultation on alternatives to these cuts.".
MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5)
MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.
HRDC - UI CUTBACKS: PUBLIC MEETINGS CALL - ENDORSE
MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, in the brief period of time that I have to speak on this resolution, let me read the resolution: "Therefore be it resolved that this House endorses the call by the Halifax-Dartmouth and District Labour Council for public meetings on the latest Unemployment Insurance cutback proposal, and urges the fullest possible consultation on alternatives to these cuts.".
Mr. Speaker, the changes in the UI system will have a significant impact and a detrimental impact on the people of Nova Scotia. This summer Nova Scotia had 53,000 people looking for work, but less than half, 26,000 were drawing UI. Unemployment insurance payments of this year were $652 million. The changes in the UI system are going to mean a significant reduction in money to this region and they are going to affect a number of people extremely seriously, including part-time workers.
Mr. Speaker, if you look at the change, for example, in the qualifying time that has been doubled to an average of 35 hours a week and to reduce benefits as a percentage of earnings for claimants with a prior claim, it will affect these people: part-time workers, particularly women; the 42,000 claimants in 1993 who got less than 21 weeks of work; 50,000 claimants who have had a prior claim in the previous five years; and more than half of Nova Scotia claimants would qualify for a benefit rate between 40 and 50 per cent of earnings.
What do we hear from this government? What do we hear from the Premier when he indicated their response December 1st to these announcements, Mr. Speaker? He told us that it would be several days until we are aware of the ramifications of the legislation. He said, I would suggest that for a full explanation of the bill you will have to rely on the representatives of the federal government. He went on to say that we only started receiving the detailed information earlier this afternoon and have not had time to assess the complete picture. Have we heard anything since? Here it is December 12th. Have we heard anything from this government with respect to the devastating impact that the UI changes are going to have on this province? No, we certainly have heard nothing and that is a problem . . .
MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. I thought the honourable member was only allowed one and one-half minutes.
MR. SPEAKER: Well, under the Rules of the House, he is allowed 10 minutes. If he wishes to yield, I do not mind.
MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Does this mean we are going by?
MR. SPEAKER: The debate will cease at 6:30 p.m.
MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, the inherent problem with respect to UI and with respect to the changes here in Atlantic Canada is the fact that the problem here is not the unemployed, the problem is unemployment, the fact that this government and the federal government have been able to do nothing to deal with the facts that people do not have jobs. The fact is that when they talk about disincentive to the system, the disincentive is the lack of jobs. That is the real problem, that is the crisis that this government is failing to respond to. (Interruption)
MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, on a further point of order. I am just wondering whether or not the other two members who were scheduled to speak will have an opportunity for equal time?
MR. SPEAKER: I do not believe it is possible under the circumstances.
MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, this government is not responding. It is failing to respond to the real problem that UI reductions and the changes in UI represent to the Province of Nova Scotia. They are silent in speaking up on behalf of Nova Scotians about the real problems, about the impact that this is going to have on our economy. I want to ask all members to support the motion by the Halifax-Dartmouth and District Labour Council to have public hearings. I hope that this government will do something.
MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The time allotted for the Adjournment debate has expired.
[6:30 p.m. the House resolved itself into a CWH on Bills with Acting Deputy Speaker Alan Mitchell in the Chair.]
[7:58 p.m. CWH on Bills rose and the House reconvened. Mr. Speaker, Hon. Paul MacEwan, resumed the Chair.]
MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The Chairman of the Committee of the Whole House on Bills reports:
THE CLERK: That the committee has met and made some progress and begs leave to sit again.
MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?
It is agreed.
The honourable Government House Leader.
HON. RICHARD MANN: Mr. Speaker, tomorrow is Opposition Members' Day so perhaps we could have the honourable House Leader for the New Democratic Party.
MR. SPEAKER: The honourable House Leader for the New Democratic Party.
MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, tomorrow we will be calling Resolution No. 804, Bill No. 61 and with any remaining time, we will deal with House Orders.
MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.
HON. RICHARD MANN: Mr. Speaker, we will sit tomorrow from the hours of 2:00 p.m. until 6:00 p.m.
I move that we adjourn until 2:00 p.m. tomorrow.
MR. SPEAKER: The motion is that the House do now rise to meet again tomorrow afternoon at the hour of 2:00 o'clock.
The motion is carried.
[The House rose at 7:59 p.m.]
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 on December 6th the Education Minister was "at a loss" when faced with his own Liberal Party's election commitments to early childhood education, a program-based funding formula and other pledges made to improve education; and
Whereas the Education Minister went further and urged that it would be a waste of time for the House to order reports of work done to implement these Liberal promises because there was none; and
Whereas, never to be outdone, the Supply and Services Minister then attacked the commitments made by his Party and his predecessor to ensure contract compliance;
Therefore be it resolved that this House applauds the honesty of trusted Liberal Cabinet Ministers who, half-way through their term, admit and demonstrate that they have washed their brains clean of all memories of their own election platform.