Assemblée Législative de la Nouvelle-Écosse

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21 septembre 2017

















HALIFAX, THURSDAY, DECEMBER 14, 1995



Fifty-sixth General Assembly



Third Session



12:00 P.M.



SPEAKER



Hon. Paul MacEwan



DEPUTY SPEAKER



Mrs. Francene Cosman





MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I will call the House to order at this time. Are there any guests that members wish to introduce before we begin?



The honourable Minister of Labour.



HON. GUY BROWN: Mr. Speaker, I would like to draw to your attention and to the attention of all members of the House, in the gallery we have Rick Clarke, the President of the Nova Scotia Federation of Labour.



AN HON. MEMBER: Boo.



MR. BROWN: Oh, now don't do that. He is originally from Springhill, he is a good guy. (Laughter)



AN HON. MEMBER: That's just Brother Mann.



MR. BROWN: Anyway, staff from my department who have been involved, as well as the co-chairman of the Occupational Health and Safety Reviewing Committee, who are in the gallery. Also, members of the Legislative Counsel who have worked so hard over the last number of years and over the last two or three months especially to get us to the point we are today. I would like to thank all of them for their cooperation and public input but also ask all members of the House of Assembly to also welcome them and show our appreciation for their efforts. (Applause)



MR. SPEAKER: Are there any other introductions? If not, we will go ahead to the daily routine.





4455

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS



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



MR. ALFRED MACLEOD: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition on behalf of the residents of Schaller Drive. The residents of Schaller Drive are concerned and hopeful that this government will do the necessary upgrading and paving of their street. There are 60-plus names attached to this. I have attached my name and am proud to do so.



MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.



PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES



TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS



STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Premier.



HON. JOHN SAVAGE (The Premier): Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to announce to the House the selection of Douglas Ruck as Nova Scotia's new Ombudsman. (Applause)



The selection of Mr. Ruck is based on the recommendation of an all-Party committee of this Legislature. Mr. Ruck has extensive experience in the human relations field through his work as Chairman of the Civil Service Employees Relations Board. He is also a member of the Labour Standards Tribunal and has served as acting Chairman of the Labour Relations Board. Mr. Ruck is a member of the Board of Inquiry for the Human Rights Commission and he is an arbitrator of complaints.



I am pleased to note, Mr. Speaker, that Mr. Ruck has a proven track record of fairness and good judgment. The selection committee noted that Mr. Ruck is highly regarded by his peers, his associates and his employers. Mr. Ruck is a 1977 graduate of Dalhousie Law School. Nova Scotia is extremely fortunate that a man of Mr. Ruck's stature has agreed to take on the job of provincial Ombudsman. If his track record to date is any indication, then Nova Scotians will be well served by their new Ombudsman. Thank you. (Applause)



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.



DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, I welcome the Premier's announcement on the appointment of Mr. Douglas Ruck as our new provincial Ombudsman. His appointment is to replace Dr. Guy MacLean who resigned at the end of last year. We are all aware how important this position is and the Office of Ombudsman plays a very important role in our province.



I would comment, perhaps, that at some point in the future, the government should take a look at the Ombudsman Act and consider some amendments to put some teeth in the Ombudsman Act. It is a very important piece of legislation and one that I certainly support. So, I would encourage the government, at some point in the very near future, to have a look at that Act. I think it needs some revision, but I certainly welcome the Premier's announcement today.





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



MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, very briefly, I would like to add my words of congratulations to Mr. Ruck and I would also like to applaud the Premier for accepting the all-Party committee recommendation for the position of Ombudsman.



Mr. Ruck certainly is known, I am sure, to all or most of us in this House, and his reputation and the good work that he has done. I am very pleased at the process, the non-partisan all-Party committee process, that was followed and that that committee was able to come up with not only a recommendation, but a recommendation of a candidate of the high calibre of Mr. Ruck.



So, Mr. Speaker, with those few words, again, I am pleased that the process appears to have worked and I want to congratulate Mr. Ruck and thank him, also, for his willingness to serve in this very important capacity. Thank you.



MR. SPEAKER: Now, are there any further statements by ministers? If not, yesterday, the honourable Minister of Supply and Services made a statement four minutes long, and it was agreed by the House that the Opposition replies to that statement would be delivered today. I see the honourable member for Kings North seeking the floor to respond to yesterday's statement by the Minister of Supply and Services.



The honourable member for Kings North.



MR. GEORGE ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, this is the response to yesterday's announcement by the Minister of Supply and Services, that the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic and the Public Archives of Nova Scotia had undergone a seven year agreement with Landis & Gyr Powers Ltd. of Bedford to provide energy service for those two institutions. Landis & Gyr will invest $185,000 for mechanical and electrical systems, and $188,000 on energy monitoring and project management and so on. At the end of the whole arrangement, I believe there is a significant saving of $45,000 per year, and any people who need training will be trained.



Now, Mr. Speaker, on reading this, no person could say, gee, this is a great announcement, until you ask yourself the simple question, was it tendered? Of course, the answer to that is, no, of course not. The next question is, was there a call for proposals? Of course, the answer to that is, no, of course not.



So, this arrangement, although at first blush and in first reading and in presentation by the minister, looks as though it's a very good deal for the province, how do we know, as members of this Legislature, how does Cabinet know? There is nothing to compare it with because the Minister of Supply and Services did not call for proposals; he did not call for tenders; he simply made a call on the phone and said, you people are doing it in Halifax; I'm familiar with the way that you operate in the city because I used to be on council and you are a competent company. How about coming down and taking over a couple of buildings for us?



Now, Mr. Speaker, this is not the way the government ran the campaign. They campaigned on openness and disclosure, but this is just another one of the many examples we have been seeing over the last two years of not tendering, no proposals, something done under the cover of darkness, in the minister's office.



So, Mr. Speaker, although the announcement looks good, I'm afraid it does not pass any scrutiny once you begin to ask the questions.



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



MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I certainly have questions about whether or not tenders and proposal calls went out. I note, however, that the first time that the energy performance demonstration contracts were being discussed, they were announced not by the Minister of Supply and Services of the day, but by the Minister of Natural Resources, when he made a statement on June 10, 1994. Now, obviously, since that time, this energy performance demonstration project has been turned over to the Minister of Supply and Services, taken away from the Minister of Natural Resources who was to do it originally, according to the June 10, 1994 announcement.



[12:15 p.m.]



Also at that time they talked about another facility that had been chosen and that was that the Nova Scotia Hospital in Dartmouth was to be included under those facilities along with the Public Archives and the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic. I note that the Minister of Supply and Services in his announcement left out the Nova Scotia Hospital and so, for some reason or other, I would assume that that facility has been dropped from the project.



There are several other questions that one might ask. While the government talks about this and the minister made reference to promoting local business, I think that it is important that we know that Landis & Gyr Corporation is, in fact, a foreign company where two of the directors are from Illinois, one from Scarborough and another one from Ontario. Even though they have a local agent and have an office in Bedford, it certainly is not a local home-grown business and, therefore, the profits that are going to be generated through this for the company will not be remaining in Nova Scotia.



The minister said also in his announcement that the government will be inheriting the new techniques and the new technology. Well, that's true, Mr. Speaker, but when the contract expires seven years from now, that is not going to be new technology at all, in fact, it is going to be very out-dated technology.



One has to ask whether or not if the company, and I certainly welcome the savings that are going to accrue to the province and we all welcome if there are going to be ways made to save money, but if this technology and if the expertise were being developed in-house by the Department of Supply and Services and if the financing was to be done by the government and the retrofit was being done by the government, not only would the costs have been lower but so too, Mr. Speaker, the profits that are going to result to the company as a result of these energy savings instead of leaving the province, they would have returned to the provincial taxpayers in terms of increased savings.



So, while one applauds efforts to increase energy performance and to reduce expenditures in those fields, one has to ask if this is the best way to be contracting out what the government should be doing? We need to have that expertise in-house given the vast number of public buildings we have. If we had that expertise in-house then the amounts of the savings would be magnified many times over and would accrue back to the taxpayers and provide monies, increased monies that then could be used for providing essential health care, education services, right now that the government says we don't have money to provide.



So with those few brief comments, Mr. Speaker, I look forward to the minister announcing in future that the government will be developing the expertise in-house so that we can actually maximize for Nova Scotians the greatest amount of cost-saving benefits for the taxpayers of the Province of Nova Scotia. Thank you.



GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Transportation.



RESOLUTION NO. 854



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



Whereas a committee of this House is recommending the appointment of Douglas Ruck to the Office of Ombudsman and said Mr. Ruck presently holds appointments to the Labour Standards Tribunal and the Labour Relations Board of the Province of Nova Scotia, and is in hearings as a result of those appointments; and



Whereas it is in the public interest that these hearings be completed; and



Whereas the Ombudsman Act states that the person holding this appointment shall not hold any other office of trust or profit or engage in any occupation outside the duties of his office without the prior approval in each particular case of the House of Assembly;



Therefore be it resolved that this House, so that the public interest may be served, give its approval in accordance with the Ombudsman Act to Douglas Ruck completing those hearings in which he is now engaged.



Mr. Speaker, I have attached to the resolution the list of the hearings in which he is engaged.



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



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Labour.



HON. GUY BROWN: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table An Act to Amend Chapter 320 of the Revised Statutes of 1989. The Occupational Health and Safety Act.



This bill will be tabled, Mr. Speaker, to give people time, it won't be dealt with this session. Every member is now receiving a kit on their desk relating to this bill, which underlines the old bill and the new bill.



Bill No. 62 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 320 of the Revised Statutes of 1989. The Occupational Health and Safety Act. (Hon. Guy Brown)



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



NOTICES OF MOTION



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



RESOLUTION NO. 855



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 Minister of Supply and Services is not sufficiently familiar with his government's new procurement policy to recognize that it does not include the contract compliance rules promised by his Cabinet; and



Whereas the Environment Minister is unfamiliar with the 1991 provincial government policy that landfills should no longer be located in or near black communities; and



Whereas the Premier is quick to assure Nova Scotians that his commitment to equality is second to none;



Therefore be it resolved that this House urges the Premier, if he ever shuffles his Cabinet, to secure the agreement of his new ministers that they will familiarize themselves with the policies and programs of their portfolios.



MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.



The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.



RESOLUTION NO. 856



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



Whereas the Minister of Natural Resources appears unable to monitor the volume of wood being cut in Nova Scotia; and



Whereas the amount of wood being harvested in Nova Scotia is at an all-time high; and



Whereas despite being asked on numerous occasions to produce concise and accurate figures as to the wood being harvested in Nova Scotia, the minister continues to draw a blank on this important issue;



Therefore be it resolved that while delivering great economic news such as the new mill for Stora, the minister also spend some time and focus on the reforestation of Nova Scotia's woodlands before it is too late.





MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.



The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.



RESOLUTION NO. 857



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



Whereas in the Liberals' first two years of power they laid off 315 non-managerial civil servants but only 29 managers, and excluded staff outside the VG Hospital; and



Whereas the number of casual employees who are denied normal benefits has grown from the Tory pre-election total of 1,164 to 1,402 full-time equivalents over those two years; and



Whereas the management levels have enjoyed many new positions and upward reclassifications as the Liberals try to overcome the devastation they created during their first months in power;



Therefore be it resolved that this House urges the government to show as much concern for the overworked front-line workers, whose benefits and security are being whittled away, as is shown for the managers who rub elbows with Cabinet.



MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.



The honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party.



RESOLUTION NO. 858



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



Whereas until the February 1995 federal budget came down, Nova Scotia had unlimited 50 per cent federal cost-sharing of affordable child care for middle and low income families in this province; and



Whereas the previous Conservative and present Liberal Governments blocked that cost-sharing for most middle income Nova Scotian families, adding only 50 new affordable child care spaces a year; and



Whereas first the federal budget and now the federal Human Resources Minister have capped their formerly open-ended cost-sharing, while refusing to launch the promised national child care program;



Therefore be it resolved that this House urges the federal government to undertake the long awaited and urgently needed national child care program, to ensure enough quality child care spaces to meet the needs of a modern economy and a just society.



MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.



The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.



RESOLUTION NO. 859



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



Whereas this fall, the first graduates of the Continuing Care Program in Nursing at St. F.X. received their certificates; and



Whereas the 112 graduates are the first nurses who took advantage of Atlantic Canada's only program to train nurses for community-based care; and



Whereas these graduates and future classes in continuing care deserve provincial standards for home care and transition into community-based care without a harsh and unnecessary break in employment;



Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulates the St.F.X. Nursing Continuing Care Program and its first graduates and urges implementation of the reforms needed to take best advantage of their new training.



Mr. Speaker, I would like to seek waiver of notice.



MR. SPEAKER: Is that agreeable to the House?



It is agreed.



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



The motion is carried.



That would appear to conclude the daily routine.



I wish to advise the House that the Clerk has conducted a draw for the Adjournment debate at 6:00 p.m. and the winner is the honourable member for Halifax Atlantic. He has submitted a resolution for debate:



"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 those cuts.".



Now that is the same motion that was submitted for debate on Tuesday, but I realize that there was not much time to discuss it on Tuesday due to the circumstances of the bells being rung. So we will hear further discussion on this matter today at 6:00 p.m. Hopefully bells will not be ringing at that time.



That concludes the daily routine. We are now going to Orders of the Day. The Oral Question Period today lasts for one hour; the time now being 12:25 p.m. the Oral Question Period will last until 1:25 p.m.



The honourable Leader of the Opposition.



DR. JOHN HAMM: It will be 1:27 p.m., Mr. Speaker.



MR. SPEAKER: Very well, 1:27 p.m. Two extra minutes.



ORDERS OF THE DAY



ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.



COMMUN. SERV. - DAY CARE: SEATS - ADDITIONAL



DR. JOHN HAMM: My question, Mr. Speaker, is for the Minister of Community Services. The federal government has announced a very ambitious program supporting child care in the country, some $720 million. The minister apparently already has stated publicly that our province will participate. My question to the minister is, how many day care seats will be established in the province as a result of this federal initiative?



HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I thank the honourable Leader of the Opposition for this question. This is a very important initiative and we are very pleased in Nova Scotia that the federal minister has responded and is moving in a direction of increased support for child care. At this juncture, we are hoping to consult with groups such as the Round Table on Day Care, Child Care Connect and other groups within the province. I think we have to address the whole broad issue of child care. This government, as a new government, has been very committed to child care. We have committed 50 new subsidized seats but there are many other issues also within child care and we will be looking for a consultative process. We will have to be responding to the federal minister by January 15th and we will be doing that.



DR. HAMM: Mr. Speaker, the minister has referred to the government as the new government. Well, the government is two and one-half years old and it is not so new.



The Minister of Finance made a comment or a statement on the province's fiscal situation when he indicated that the Department of Health and the Department of Community Services were $9 million over budget and that the shortfall would have to be made up within those two departments. Could the minister indicate the process he has made within his department in making up the shortfall, and particularly where he plans to save the money?



DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, this is a broader question, obviously, than child care, in this supplement. This is an area that we have been working with very closely. We have established close relationships with the Department of Finance and with other departments. We have been looking in various areas. All programs are under review. As the member would know, we interact with over 200 agencies, we have 59 programs or more and there are many areas that we have to look at.



I think the best initiatives have been what we have learned from our pilot projects and are learning within the social assistance area, and I think some of the matching we have been able to do with the federal government with tapes and coordinating and making a more efficient program there.



[12:30 p.m.]



There is no one area, Mr. Speaker, and I think that in the fullness of time that will become evident in the areas where we will effect these savings, and we are hoping with considerations with the Department of Finance on that.



DR. HAMM: Mr. Speaker, to continue with the minister, the minister's department, obviously, has been instructed by the Minister of Finance to have a look at shaving some costs. I think that leads to some speculation as to how full a participant the minister will be able to be with the federal minister in this day care initiative.



My specific question, by way of final supplementary to the minister, is, will he be able to free up enough funds to create a significant number of new day care spaces in response to the federal initiative?



DR. SMITH: I thank the honourable for the question, again, on day care, and also the observation that we may not be as new a government as we would like to think. But I would certainly say that one of the initiatives that this new government has brought, has been our priority of day care. The Premier himself has given our department a great deal of support on that issue. (Applause) We see it as a broad issue, Mr. Speaker, not only to help parents remain in the work force or gain new initiatives in job training, but also social development and educational development for children.



The federal minister has said there will be a minimum of $3 million available for cost-sharing, the rate yet to be determined. So, there are many issues and I think there are technical papers that we will have to follow on this particular initiative.



We have been funding our seats in difficult times, under fiscal restraints, and many of these seats that we have funded in Nova Scotia are at 100 per cent. So, any of the cost-sharing we will certainly be looking at is not only for subsidized spaces, but for disabled children, to have early intervention programs and child care, rural child care and other initiatives, and maybe formalize the family child care more effectively.



There are many issues within day care that we will be looking at and trying to work out a favourable arrangement with the federal minister.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.



HUMAN RES.: CONSULTANTS - HIRING



MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I would like to direct a question through you to the Minister of Human Resources. The minister has finally provided us with information that we had requested some time ago with respect to layoffs and reclassifications in the Civil Service. I would like to ask the minister, it appears through the evidence that there have been not only a number of reclassifications, but a number of hirings in the area of human resource specialists and in the area of communications officers.



I would like to ask the minister, given that fact - I will table this document called, Human Resource Forum On Line, Summer 1995 - that they have contracted with four consulting firms to provide outplacement services and other related services to the departments, could the minister indicate why it is that there is a continuing need, on the one hand, to beef up the resources in the Human Resources Department, and other departments, to deal with human resource issues, and to engage consultants in order to basically do the same thing? Could the minister try to square that please?



HON. JAY ABBASS: The member opposite should not take the impression from any newsletter which might have come from my department, or from any of the statistics that were made available to him yesterday, that the only duties of a human resources officer is to engage in outplacement activities. This government has quite consciously embarked on a decentralization effort, with a view to ensuring that each line department has the wherewithal and the ability and the power to oversee its own human resource needs to the greatest extent possible, while the central office - that is the Human Resources Department - does provide whatever extra support that is needed.



MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I would like to put my first supplementary to that same minister. Could the minister, perhaps, try to explain to the many hundreds and thousands of employees, lower level in particular, the people who are directly delivering services to the public, who have been subjected to wage freezes and roll-backs over the past couple of years under the former administration and this administration, could he, in fact, explain to those people why it is that they have not seen their wages increase while there has been a significant number of managerial staff who, through reclassifications, have, in fact, been recognizing increases at the same time that there has been a wage freeze?



MR. ABBASS: The member opposite would try to give you the impression, Mr. Speaker, that non-managerial individuals within government have not been given wage increases. The truth is that since May of 1995, unionized members of the Civil Service and the Public Service have been quietly but quite appropriately receiving merit increases. So he is giving this false impression that managers are somehow being given raises while unionized members of the Public Service are being overlooked.



That is just not the case. As I say, merit increases have, quite appropriately and in keeping with collective agreements, been given to unionized members of the Public Service since at least May of 1995.



MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, regardless of the spin that the minister wants to put on it, everybody in this province knows that public sector workers' wages were frozen, whether that be through merit increases or whatever, for at least one year in terms of any merit increase, and certainly in terms of any other wage increases for a period of three years. That is information that everyone has.



Mr. Speaker, in my final supplementary I would like to go to the Premier. In May 1993, the Premier made it very clear to the public of Nova Scotia that he did not feel that the problem with the government was with the number of people, the government employees. He said that any job losses resulting from his proposed reforms would be purely through attrition, but the evidence completely contradicts that assertion and that promise to Nova Scotians in May 1993. I would like to ask the minister what has happened along the way? How can he justify having made that promise in order to get elected and then turn around and cut thousands of civil servants out of the government?



MR. SPEAKER: To whom is that directed? You said the Premier at first and then you said the minister.



MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I introduced my final supplementary as going to the Premier.



THE PREMIER: I am sorry, Mr. Speaker, he did say to the minister, so I assumed. In that case I will give it to the minister so he can comment on it.





MR. ABBASS: The picture the member is trying to paint, of course, is that management has been given these massive wage increases in spite of the wage restraint legislation, while the poor unionized member of the Public Service is being downtrodden and is not being treated properly.



The truth is that the member opposite is engaging in a very selective reading of the information which we finally did give to him. He is also trying to paint the picture that every reduction in the Civil Service is attributable to a layoff. That is just simply not the case.



Getting back to the question of classification, the member opposite is also trying to paint the picture that unionized members of the Public Service do not receive reclassifications, upward or downward or otherwise, and that is simply not the case.



I would ask the member opposite, is he in favour of denying to a Clerk III a reclassification upwards? Is he in favour of denying a Secretary II a reclassification upwards? These are pay increases. How about a Shop Supervisor - and I would like to read these into the record - how about an Agricultural Technologist? How about, Mr. Speaker, . . .



MR. SPEAKER: The minister's answer could perhaps be tabled.



MR. ABBASS: . . . an Equipment Worker, or a Child Care Counsellor, or an Historical Archival Officer II or a Computer Services Officer? How about an Air Balance Technician? How about a Steam Fitter and a Welder? How about a Central Supply Room Aide?



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



COMMUN. SERV. - DAY CARE: SEATS - FUNDING



DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, to the Minister of Community Services. The minister has no doubt been briefed on the new federal initiative for day care. The minister has had access on a 50/50 cost-sharing basis through the Canada Assistance Plan of day care support in the province. Now we have an announcement of a federal initiative which appears to have a limit on the number of day care seats that will be available, definitively, across the country. Is it the minister's understanding that the federal announcement is a replacement for the funding that was available under the Canada Assistance Plan or is this a new plan and the other funding is still available?



HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, it is announced as a new plan and I would say to the honourable member that there has not been a lot of information at this juncture, as I mentioned in my other responses that the technical papers and the more definitive parts of the announcement have not been shared yet. The federal minister has said that he wants to work with the provinces in developing a program as to how this would look. There have been changes even under CAP, under the child care in that we have really, in some instances at least, and I could check more thoroughly to find out exactly, but we have been funding some of our subsidized spaces at 100 per cent. I think it is part of the overall change with the transfer payments and I look at it as a new program. There are some discretionary monies that will probably be available that will not necessarily have to go to subsidized spaces that the provinces may well have a fair amount of discretion in some of the monies on a cost-sharing basis.





DR. HAMM: Mr. Speaker, to continue with the minister. The minister had made reference earlier to the round table and my recollection is that the recommendation of the round table was that the province was in need of some 2,500 additional day care seats. To this point my recollection is also that on one occasion the minister announced 50 seats and on another occasion, a year later, he announced 50 more. So we are still some 2,400 short of what the round table has recommended. Now that the minister has had a chance to have a short look at the program that the federal government has announced, does the minister have any assurance that this new program will, in fact, result in any increase in day care seats in Nova Scotia?



DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I would like to point out to the House that we, as a new government, and maybe a not-so-new government at this juncture, have really been playing catch-up with child care in this province, it has been basically neglected. There was a little flurry just before elections with the other government. However, not to take a more negative track because I think this is good news for children of Canada, it is a program for children and the federal government is making their response. We are looking forward to develop with the round table and others and I know they will be pushing for subsidized spaces but also for other parts of the program. So I don't want to put a number out at this time, even the cost-sharing might be open for some negotiation but we will be doing that after consultation with the round table, Child Care Connect and other groups that are interested in child care and we will be taking that forward to the federal government to work out the program and how it will look and how it will function throughout the country.



DR. HAMM: Mr. Speaker, by way of final supplementary to the minister, when will the minister be prepared, at what date will he be prepared to announce the creation of the new seats? He is not aware of how many there will be but when would he predict that he will be able to announce whatever new seats are going to become available?



DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, this is a process that we will be initiating. The Honourable Lloyd Axworthy has asked for a response to his initial communication by January 15th. Any seats that we will be announcing will be part of our budgetary process and we will have to work through that process. We look forward to some announcements, whatever they will be in the fullness of time within that budgetary process.



[12:45 p.m.]



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



HEALTH - HOME CARE: AMALGAMATION (HFX. CO.) - EFFECT



MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the honourable Minister of Health. During Question Period on Tuesday, I asked the Minister of Health if he would shed a little light on the future of the Halifax County Coordinated Home Care Program. The home support worker who works with the Halifax County coordinated home care worker, assists people with the activities of daily living. They provide personal care, vacuuming, laundering and, in some cases, meal preparation and things of that nature. The minister knows, or perhaps should know, that there are 77 employees with that particular program and they have a clientele of some 700 in Halifax County. I wonder if the minister could tell this House and, of course, the in-home support worker, what the future of that program is after April 1, 1996?



HON. RONALD STEWART: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the question from the honourable member opposite. I attempted to reply on my understanding which I think was less than adequate in terms of the answer last time I gave. Yes, that future is very well assured and it is an essential component, of course, of home care in the province, in this particular region, too.



MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, the workers in that program have been advised by the Department of Health that they will not be funding that program after the end of March 1996 and the Director of Human Resources for the Halifax Regional Municipality has advised the in-home support workers at Halifax County that they will not be part of the program or be financed. Can the minister, again, tell me who will look after that very important program after April 1, 1996?



DR. STEWART: Mr. Speaker, I am not aware of anyone not funding home support services in Halifax County. Home Care Nova Scotia will be, indeed, providing home support services and this is a transition time in which Home Care Nova Scotia is transitioning into the new program that would be providing those services. Certainly I would beg of the honourable member opposite that he would table or give me an indication of that directive that he might have in his possession.



MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I certainly see no harm in tabling these memos from the Department of Health. It also has been brought to my attention, by way of final supplementary to the minister, that some time next month, the Department of Health, through early hospital discharge, has plans to discharge acute care patients. I wonder if the minister can tell the House and Nova Scotians if he believes that the necessary human resources are in place to provide the care that the acute patient will perhaps need?



DR. STEWART: Mr. Speaker, I assume the honourable member opposite is referring to home hospital which has been in place since June of this year and has hundreds and hundreds of Nova Scotians already in home hospital programs and being taken care of, whether it be intravenous therapy or early discharge or whatever they might require, that will continue and, in fact, is increasing by the month. So I would certainly inform the honourable member opposite that this program has been in place now for some months and is remarkably successful in the opinion of those receiving care.



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



Is the microphone on for the honourable member?



MR. ALFRED MACLEOD: Mr. Speaker, my light's on but there is nobody home.



MR. SPEAKER: When the light comes on, then you can begin speaking. Is it on yet?



MR. MACLEOD: My lights aren't on. I don't know what to tell you. There we go.



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



SYDNEY TAR PONDS CLEAN-UP INC.: OPERATOR - SELECTION



MR. ALFRED MACLEOD: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is to the Minister of Supply and Services and it is regarding the clean-up of the Sydney tar ponds. It was reported that three groups were short-listed after the initial March advertisement, requesting expressions of interest. Of those short-listed, they were to submit responses by August 22nd, that was their deadline. I understand that the committee was reviewing those proposals and was to have made its recommendations to the department around the third week of September. My question for the minister is, would the minister confirm that his department is now in receipt of the committee's recommendations and advise when the people of Nova Scotia will know what the government has decided to do regarding the clean-up of the tar ponds?



HON. GERALD O'MALLEY: Mr. Speaker, I thank the honourable member opposite for his question. I know he has a very vital interest in this matter, but I would advise him to ask the author of his questions, before he puts them, to investigate the content of the question prior to putting it on the floor.



The call for proposals indeed was made. It was answered on August 22nd. But in the call for proposals was a negotiating period with the selected proposer. That negotiating period has been ongoing since that time.



There will be an appropriate time, and I won't take the next two or three hours of the House to outline the disaster that was put into place by that side of the House . . .



AN HON. MEMBER: A great legacy. A great legacy. (Interruptions)



MR. O'MALLEY: . . . by calling upon a national company that left an unspeakable disaster down in that part of Nova Scotia. But we are cleaning up your mess and we are going to do it right. We are not going to do it as you did it on an annual basis for election purposes only. (Applause)



MR. MACLEOD: Mr. Speaker, back to the Minister of Supply and Services. Sir, I did not do it. (Interruptions) That being said, sir . . .



MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Order. We want to hear these interesting comments. Order, please.



MR. MACLEOD: Mr. Speaker, just who does have the floor?



MR. SPEAKER: You do.



MR. MACLEOD: Thank you. Mr. Speaker, I would like to make it clear that whatever happened in the past was not the solution for right now. This minister's answer has not helped the people in the area of the tar ponds.



Now, my question to the minister is, in fairness and openness to Nova Scotians, which this government seems to take so much pride in, when are you going to tell them the real facts and when are you going to move on this very important solution?



MR. O'MALLEY: Well, Mr. Speaker, I will indicate to the honourable member, because we are dealing with an extremely serious matter, that it is in the very near future. In the very near future, the people of Cape Breton, the Sydney area, the whole of Nova Scotia, will come to the realization that this government is bringing forward a well thought out plan that is not going to be used for strictly political advantage.



AN HON. MEMBER: Oh, not strictly, not strictly, but 99 per cent.



MR. SPEAKER: Order, now, order. Order!



MR. MACLEOD: I would like to thank the minister for his answer. I would just like the minister to confirm, I know on November 16th he said that one of the options that was not being overlooked was the paving over of the problem, the cementing over. I would like the minister today to confirm that one of the options being considered is not paving over and concreting over the top of the tar ponds?



MR. O'MALLEY: Well, Mr. Speaker, once again I don't know whether or not the honourable member is reading from the script that was prepared for him before he came here but if indeed he was, I would like him to show me where I indicated that we would be cementing over or concreting over anything. If I did say that, I have no recollection of it. But the resolution to the problem will be a far better resolution than the legacy that was left to us by that crowd.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings North.



EDUC. - HORTON DISTRICT HIGH SCHOOL: NEW - CATCHMENT



MR. GEORGE ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, through you, I would like to ask the Minister of Education a question. The Minister of Education in September 1994 came down to the Annapolis Valley and at Horton school he announced there would be a new high-tech high school constructed in the area. I am just wondering, the timeframe announced at that time would be a construction program for 1997-98. Is it still the minister's intention to begin either renovating or building a new school to replace Horton District High School in the 1997-98 year?



HON. JOHN MACEACHERN: Mr. Speaker, I thank the honourable member for the question. I can inform him that with the help of the member from the area, we have been working very aggressively to address the situation that was left at the Horton school when we arrived, that the discussions within the community are ongoing, they are discussing it with our staff. I would suggest to the honourable member that there will be an announcement in the very near future.



MR. ARCHIBALD: Now, Mr. Speaker, at the present time there are groups of parents whose children are attending both Cornwallis District High School, Kings County Academy, who are living very close to the Horton catchment area. In fact, some of the students could be going to Horton but they are going to Central Kings or one of the other schools.



Many of those parents are saying that they want the advantage of going to a high-tech school, they are calling it the super-school. They want to share the benefit of the new high technology that is going to be placed in this school. I am wondering if the minister will get involved in the boundary selection for the student population of that school? Indeed, will the students from KCA and Cornwallis High School be allowed to go to that school?



MR. MACEACHERN: Mr. Speaker, I don't know how the honourable member and his crowd ran the school boards. My understanding is that the school boards set those boundaries and the Minister of Education doesn't involve himself with that. I offer my support to the board as they develop the plans for the replacement of the Horton school, and that is what I do. The honourable member is suggesting that somehow the heavy-handed Minister of Education would step in and overrule the boards down there. I would suggest that that is just not going to happen.



MR. ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, again to the minister, I am just reflecting some of the wishes of constituents, both mine and the member for Kings South's. All the boundaries for the school districts were changed and he didn't mind doing that. I thought perhaps he might also like to get interested in what the parents are concerned about. The parents are telling me that they are going to feel somewhat cheated with their children not being able to go to that school.



The minister says he is not going to get involved in any of the discussion. The minister will not indicate when construction is going to take place on that school. Mr. Speaker, I am wondering whether the minister will shed some light on the number of students who are going and whether all the students who are attending the school will be Nova Scotia students?



MR. MACEACHERN: Mr. Speaker, did I hear the honourable member ask if the people attending the replacement of the Horton school are going to be Nova Scotians? I think he is redefining what busing is going to be about. Are we going to bus them from P.E.I., from New Brunswick? I am puzzled.



I can suggest this to the honourable member. I actually visited the Horton school and the students and the staff of that school took me through. If that honourable member wants to talk about people feeling cheated, well I want to tell you, the expression of the students, and we had some students who were there the year before who spent three years fighting for attention from the honourable member opposite for their concerns. They felt cheated because it seemed to them that they had been ignored totally by the honourable member and the members of that government previously. We will not ignore those people, Mr. Speaker, nor any students in the Province of Nova Scotia.



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



COMMUN. SERV. - DAY CARE: SEATS - FUNDING



MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I would like to direct a question through you to the Minister of Community Services. Until last February the minister will know that Nova Scotia has an open-ended opportunity for a 50/50 cost-sharing of child care. He knows that as of the last federal budget a cap was placed on that cost-sharing and the federal government announced that it was going to be ending the Canada Assistance Plan at the end of the year. Now we have federal Minister Axworthy's new announcement but in that he has confirmed that the new child care funding is for a limited time only and that it has strict financial ceilings. My question to the minister who has indicated, on behalf of this government about the province's plan to increase child care spaces in Nova Scotia, has the minister had to reduce the number of additional child care places that he had planned to provide here in Nova Scotia as a result of the federal government's decision not to introduce a national child care program?



[1:00 p.m.]



DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I am having a little trouble following the question and maybe it is just me not able to follow the route. I will try to answer the question as well as I can. I share the concerns of the honourable member that relative to the difficulties of funding child care under times of fiscal restraint and cutbacks and this government has had child care as a priority, under very difficult circumstances. Under our expenditure control plan we have brought forward 50 subsidized spaces. As I pointed out earlier, there are many other needs within the child care issue such as disabled children, early intervention programs for them, rural child care and those particular issues.



I have put no number on next year. I don't know what the budgetary process will allow us to do. The only thing I can say is that our department and this government has a priority to address the needs of child care and part of that is subsidized spaces. We will work with the Child Care Connect, the Round Table on Day Care and those other groups to formulate a process and initiatives that we will take forward to try to work with the federal government. It is open-ended at this juncture, I am not so sure about the restrictions on time, although, we are looking at a three to five year program, I think that is what the honourable member may be referring to. I will cease with that, I want to be open on this issue.



I think it is exciting and it is a statement from the federal government that they are having child care as a priority and will remain so in Canada and we will try to work with them as well as we can. We are open for suggestions as to where we move. We have done 50 subsidized spaces every year and we have committed for the 150 in total. It would be nice to build on that, we may or we may not be able to do that.



MR. HOLM: Mr. Speaker, the minister said, for example, he sees the federal government's announcement and so on as exciting. I am looking at a government briefing note that was provided for the government on January 26, 1995, prepared for the minister and it outlines a number of the concerns about child care from Nova Scotia. It said, for example, with regard to the federal government . . .



MR. SPEAKER: If you quote you will have to table it.



MR. HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I have no hesitation, it is a government briefing note so the minister will have seen it before. It is with regard to the federal approach to child care as it would affect Nova Scotia. The briefing note said, "for provinces, like Nova Scotia, who have limited fiscal capacity and could not make more utilization of the open ended nature of CAP funding, there has to be an enhanced cost-sharing arrangement. The proposal in the Red Book, . . . does not recognize this lack of fiscal capacity;", and given the financial cost-sharing arrangements and the ceilings that have been placed on it as a result of Mr. Axworthy's announcement, I want to ask how does Mr. Axworthy's announcement address any of the concerns and make it any easier whatsoever for the Province of Nova Scotia to deliver on its top priority of providing for affordable and quality accessible child care?



DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, the details of the program have not been worked out and the federal minister has said that he wants to have feedback from the provinces and develop that. We are not sure what the cost-sharing would be. There may be some discretionary monies within that, for instance, that could be attached to pre-employment training and those other initiatives, so the program is yet to be designed. I would like to reserve my more specific comments until that time. I think the design is open and we have been funding some of our seats at 100 per cent. In the old program, earlier on, some provinces like Ontario were the few provinces that were able to take advantage of some of the open-endedness of the CAP Program.



MR. HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I thank the minister for his answer and his concern on the issue. I guess what it comes down to, in trying to find out, because I know reports that I heard were saying that the federal government was going to be requiring matching dollars from the province under this particular program. My concern is to ensure that there is more, not less, money being made available for child care, and under the block funding transfers, there are to be reductions in funding to the provinces.



So my last question, if I may then to the minister, is simply, could the minister tell us if he has received guarantees from his federal colleague that the federal government will shield the amount of money that it is currently providing for child care in Nova Scotia under the Canada Assistance Plan, shield that amount of money for cost-sharing of child care here in Nova Scotia and that any monies under the Axworthy plan will be additional dollars on top of the rate that we had been getting before? In other words, ensure that we don't take a drop and have the bottom fall out?



DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I think what the honourable member is speaking of and lacks clarification on is the concept of block funding. The problem has been that the monies have been there for cost-sharing with the provinces and, as I said earlier, almost all the provinces currently have been unable to take advantage of the open-endedness. I think the issue will be for us, under times of restraint, our own program and with the cutbacks in other areas with the federal government, to have money available for increased seats and that will be the issue and we will try to address that. But the program, at this juncture, doesn't have a lot of rules and restrictions; I think it is open-ended at this juncture and we will have to do as well as we can. We are evaluating all of our programs and child care will be evaluated within our department in the same way and we will do it within the budgetary restraints.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings North.



EDUC. - HORTON DISTRICT HIGH SCHOOL: NEW - ADVANTAGE



MR. GEORGE ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask the Minister of Education a question. Again it is with regard to the announced Horton school construction. The parents had a meeting the other day and they are indicating that many are planning to move from the area in which they live, to move over to the New Minas district area so their children will go to that school. They are feeling that the new technology enriched high school will provide advantages to the students that are unavailable at other high schools throughout Kings County and, indeed, throughout the rest of the province.



Could the minister indicate what high-tech advantage there would be for parents to feel their students and their children should be going to this school, so that the students will become successful in the job market or further training or further education? What is the advantage that you foresee at this high-tech school?



HON. JOHN MACEACHERN: I don't know, Mr. Speaker, if I can speak for parents in Kentville, or anywhere else, if they are choosing to move. I think that is outside the jurisdiction of the Minister of Education to either determine why people should move or why they should not move. I can tell him that the particular school that is being worked out, in view of both the Sydney situation and the new way of looking at school building in Porters Lake and at Horton is looking at a new way of constructing schools in partnership with the community and in partnership with the private sector. The development of those concepts that are being worked out - as we do this - all by themselves are helping the communities involved.



A particular student attending the school, they will be exposed to the leading technology, and it will stay leading technology always because that is part of the contract that we will have with the private sector. But for schools that are in the area, this will become a focus school that other schools can connect to electronically. My understanding is that it is the board and the region of Kings County, in fact, that is looking to do that. In fact, the availability to other schools in the area of the hardware/software that is there, will be made available to other students in other schools as well, Mr. Speaker.



MR. ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, again to the Minister of Education, I am wondering if the minister could indicate, there is another school in Kings County, the L.E. Shaw Elementary School in Avonport, is that school still in the construction schedule so it will be completed prior to the construction of the Horton school or is the Horton school past that in the schedule?



MR. MACEACHERN: The L.E. Shaw Elementary School has been announced, as the honourable member knows, so it is in the schedule already. In fact we haven't announced the call relative to the Horton school, so obviously it is ahead because it has been announced.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants West.



HEALTH - HEARING AID DISPENSARY LTD.: MEETINGS - REPORT



MR. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health. A number of months ago, I think it was two or three months ago, in a letter to the member for Kings North, the minister said that officials from his department would be meeting with the Nova Scotia Hearing and Speech Clinic and the board of the Hearing Aid Dispensary Limited.



My question to the minister is, has that meeting taken place and can he tell us if he has made a final determination with regard to the Hearing Aid Dispensary Limited?



HON. RONALD STEWART: There was a series of meetings, at least one of which is pending. I have not received a report on the meetings nor made a decision in this regard.



MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I understand that these meetings were also something in the way of an audit of the clinic. I take it from what the minister has just said that it hasn't been completed. Will the minister release that audit at the end of the deliberations or will it be the property of the clinic or the Department of Health or whoever? In other words, will that audit be made public?



DR. STEWART: Yes, Mr. Speaker, I believe that would be part and parcel of the report I receive and, therefore, it would eventually will be public.



MR. RUSSELL: My supplementary is to the Minister of Justice. In a letter to the member for Halifax Citadel, the Minister of Justice looked at the matter of the Societies Act and its application to this particular clinic. I was wondering if the minister is satisfied now that the clinic - this is the Hearing Aid Dispensary Clinic but the Hearing Aid Dispensary Limited is the name of the concern - has the minister satisfied himself, Mr. Speaker, that, indeed, the restructuring that was supposed to have taken place at the Hearing Aid Dispensary Limited has taken place and that it is now in compliance with the Societies Act?



HON. WILLIAM GILLIS: Mr. Speaker, frankly, I don't remember the letter. The former minister would know the volume of mail ministers get. If the member for Hants West would table a copy of the letter, I would undertake to check into it. I just don't have the information at my fingertips but if the member would table a letter, I would undertake to look into it.



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



EDUC. - STUDENT DATA REPOSITORY: COMPUTER - TENDER



DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, a question for the Minister of Education. The minister will recall that a year ago the government tendered a proposal which was designated: External Consulting Services for the Development and Acquisition of a Provincial Student Data Repository. That tender was opened in March of this year. The government awarded the tender to a company called Trevlak Computer Services Limited.



My question, is the minister aware of that project?



HON. JOHN MACEACHERN: Yes, Mr. Speaker.



DR. HAMM: Mr. Speaker, as the minister is no doubt aware, the Trevlak Computer Services Limited are now doing a series of presentations to the school boards around the province. They are showing off their software and their program. They are being followed around the province by an unsuccessful bidder by the name of Chancery, who are going to the school boards and are presenting their software and their program, even though it was an unsuccessful bidder.



Many of those who have seen both presentations are rather more impressed with the Chancery software and the Chancery presentation than they are with Trevlak. Trevlak are encouraging the boards to encourage the minister to sign the contract no later than the end of January.



My question to the minister, is the minister, in an ongoing way, looking at the performance of the Trevlak Computer System Limited, in relation or relative to the Chancery product?



[1:15 p.m.]



MR. MACEACHERN: Mr. Speaker, it is my understanding - and I did check that particular project and the bidding that was involved and I will provide the honourable member with a report on it if that would be helpful to him - that the tenders were called and it was an open tendering process. It was awarded by staff, it has not been my habit to step in and overrule staff; the people who have been involved in this project, in fact, understand the project. Their recommendation, it is my understanding, has awarded the tender already. Unless there is some information that hasn't been provided, I will give it to staff for their consideration, but I don't know of anything new that has entered the discussions up to this point.



DR. HAMM: Mr. Speaker, by way of final supplementary, Trevlak and Chancery went to head to head in Newfoundland and New Brunswick. Chancery won both of the contracts in those provinces. I will table a result of the comparison of the analysis that went on in Newfoundland for the minister's information, in which in presentation Chancery scored 89.70, Trevlak 60.60; and in software Chancery scored 93.80 and Trevlak 60.00. So I will table that and the minister can have a look at it. Certainly, in that presentation, Chancery scored very much higher.



My question is, was the minister aware of this evaluation done by Newfoundland and if not, is he prepared to have a look at what went on there?



MR. MACEACHERN: Mr. Speaker, I wasn't aware of the document but I would be pleased to look at it. What I will do, too, in exchange, is send Newfoundland a copy of our evaluation for their consideration.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.



NSP - RATE INCREASES: URB - NAT. RES. REPRESENTATION



MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I would like to direct my question through you to the Minister of Natural Resources. The Utility and Review Board is dealing with the question of rates to be charged by Nova Scotia Power on residential customers, small business customers and large users. Nova Scotia Power is proposing to increase rates by 10 per cent for 60 per cent of all residential customers and also by 10 per cent for 60 per cent of all small business customers. They are seeking lower rates for large users. Nova Scotia Power argues that the rates should be set in a manner that shapes energy use in Nova Scotia.



Mr. Speaker, certainly, interests, with respect to large corporations, are lining up to appear before the Utility and Review Board but it is my understanding that as of yet the government has not applied to be a party to these hearings. I would like to ask the minister, why would it not be in this government's overall interest in fair rates to be, in fact, a party to these hearings?



HON. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, quite clearly the URB is to operate and work at arm's length of government. Part of that process is to hear what Nova Scotians have to say in regard to their concerns. There are programs available for public intervention and obviously that is clearly the responsibility of the URB and they are to hear the cases put forward in regard to homeowners and to that of larger corporations. Quite frankly, we are anxious to hear the response to those recommendations.



MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, but I again believe that this is a matter which will potentially shape how energy policy will be affected in the Province of Nova Scotia. It certainly is common precedent that the Government of Nova Scotia would be represented at such a hearing as they are in a number of other things, as they are in the Westray Inquiry, for example, where the government has full participation in ensuring that their interests are promoted and/or defended. Again, I would like to ask the minister if he could explain to Nova Scotians why an issue of such significance to them, in terms of the rates that they will be asked to pay, whether it be residential customers or small business customers, why it is that the Province of Nova Scotia is not represented in these hearings as a party to the hearings?



MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, obviously the opportunities for individuals to make presentations is clearly open in this process. It is very clearly a very open process for all of those that are interested in bringing their case forward.



In regard to the policy of the Province of Nova Scotia, this minister, this government are clearly dealing with policies in regard to the future in regard to utilities, power consumptions and trends and so on and so forth. That is clearly our mandate and this is clearly what we are bring forward. With regard to this particular proposal, that of the Power Corporation's request to the Public Utilities Board, that is going through due process.



MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, in my final supplementary, I would like to go to the Premier. In a related issue, in terms of the rules governing Nova Scotia Power, the Premier has promised that legislation to change those rules would, in fact, be introduced in this session. Again, they were promised in the 1994 Throne Speech, they were an issue that was very important to the Liberals in the run-up to the last election. I would like to ask the Premier if he would give us some explanation as to why it is that legislation has not been introduced in this House, this fall, to change rules governing Nova Scotia Power?



THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I have to tell you that given the legislative progress of many of our bills, it would not be too optimistic to bring forward any more bills but I will take it under consideration.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.



EDUC. - STUDENT DATA REPOSITORY: COMPUTER - TENDER



DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, to continue with the Minister of Education, I was unclear of the commitment that I received from the minister about the situation between Trevlak and Chancery. To the minister, we have received a lot of comment from those who have had the presentations by Trevlak and Chancery on a very even playing field. The comments that are coming back from the school boards indicate that while Chancery have a program that is up and running and fully demonstrable, the presentation from Trevlak talks about such things as we can do, we will do, we plan. The users of this computer system are convinced that the Chancery project and software are, in fact, much superior. Will the minister commit to looking into this in some detail and making some inquiries to the school boards as to how they rate the two presentations, how they rate the software in question and is he prepared to revisit the question?



HON. JOHN MACEACHERN: Mr. Speaker, as I said to the honourable Leader of the Opposition in answer to his previous question, I would be pleased to examine the information that he provided. I don't know if it is his place or my place to overrule the tendering that took place. If that is what the honourable member is suggesting, that somehow he and I standing in this House of Assembly take a process that is in place to give all people who are bidding on projects a fair look at that, that he and I somehow come to an agreement that this should be overruled, I would be surprised if that is what he is suggesting but if it is so, I would suggest that he put it to the House.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings West.



FIN. - CASINO (HFX.): PREDATORY PRICING - GUIDELINES



MR. GEORGE MOODY: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister responsible for the Nova Scotia Gaming Commission. The ITT Sheraton has been offering free breakfasts for anyone age 55 and older. I understand it includes a coupon redeemable for a $5.00 gambling token. The Director of Enforcement, investigating for the commission, looked into this deal and decided that this offering does not constitute predatory pricing. I wonder if the minister would table the guidelines that have been set down to determine predatory pricing under the regulation? Is she prepared to table those guidelines?



HON. ELEANOR NORRIE: Mr. Speaker, you and all members of the House would be aware that there are regulations in place that regulate all areas of the casino operation in the province. There is a regulation in place that does address predatory pricing. There are directors in place who interpret those regulations. Any complaints that are raised or any areas that appear to be in contravention of those regulations would be addressed and assessed.



That did happen in this case and the director came forward with a ruling that indeed this was not predatory pricing. If those people laying complaints feel the need for appeal, there is an appeal process in place to address that situation. If there is a concern that this does not reflect the intent of the government, then we are prepared to look at the regulations again to ensure that the regulations do reflect the intent of this government.



MR. SPEAKER: Thirty seconds remain.



MR. MOODY: One of the factors, given the decision, was the fact that the offering does not take away from existing business. Given the fact that 244 people registered in the second week for the breakfast, I wonder what evidence did the director of enforcement decide that the offering did not take away from existing establishments? In other words, could the minister please provide me with the information that indicates in actual fact this didn't take away from other businesses by the free breakfasts?



MRS. NORRIE: Mr. Speaker, as I have stated, that, indeed, was the ruling that was brought forward by the investigating officer. There is an appeal process in place and those who laid the complaint are able to appeal that decision and it can go on further through the process that has been set in place to deal with any considerations that are not deemed to be in the response that those people who laid the complaint would wish to hear. There is a process in place for that appeal and I would expect anyone who doesn't agree with the ruling would indeed go through that appeal process.



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



The honourable Government House Leader.



HON. RICHARD MANN: Mr. Speaker, would you please call the order of business, Private and Local Bills for Second Reading.



PRIVATE AND LOCAL BILLS FOR SECOND READING



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.



HON. RICHARD MANN: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 56.



Bill No. 56 - Dartmouth City Charter.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Community Services.



HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I move for second reading An Act to Amend Chapter 43A of the Acts of 1978, the Dartmouth City Charter.



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



MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I am at a bit of a disadvantage since my Bill Book has already gone to the Law Amendments Committee so I can't pull the book out and look at the exact wording of the bill but it is a very brief bill if my memory serves me correctly and it is a bill that would give the City of Dartmouth the opportunity, if I am not mistaken, to transfer up to $1.05 million. (Interruptions) I am getting help here from all over.



MR. SPEAKER: I was going to send you down a bill, myself.



MR. HOLM: Now I have both Bill Books from the Government House Leader and from the member for Kings West. Now in this one, it gives the City of Dartmouth the opportunity to withdraw $1.05 million, ". . . from the Pollution Control Account during the 1995/96 fiscal year without the consent of the Minister and use that money for any purpose for which the Council has authority to expend money.". At the present time, of course, the council can only use those monies for matters related to pollution control within the City of Dartmouth.



My concern, Mr. Speaker, here, really as much as anything else, has to do with the amalgamation. We saw, for example, in Cape Breton where municipalities ran up expenditures, those debts ended up being carried forward to the new regional municipality. My concern is - and I think that it is something that needs to be looked at, certainly by the Private and Local Bills Committee, and hopefully also by the Department of Municipal Affairs - the need to clean up and end certainly the ongoing and disgraceful problem of the pollution of Halifax Harbour is something that has to be addressed. If over $1 million is going to be removed from that fund, which is aimed at doing that, my concern is what kind of an impact that will have on that clean-up project.



[1:30 p.m.]



So, Mr. Speaker, I wouldn't want the minister just to have moved the bill without stating, as he did not when he moved it, what the bill actually did. I don't know how many dollars are in that pollution control fund, I have no idea whatsoever, nor do I have any idea what funds may be in funds or maintained by the City of Halifax as well, for the same purpose. Certainly in the past Dartmouth had been congratulated for having specially reserved funds. It may be something that the Private and Local Bills Committee, the Department of Municipal Affairs and maybe also Mr. Hayward may want to have a look at, if funds that are designated for a specific purpose are going to be able to be withdrawn.



What it looks like on first blush is that maybe the city is trying to spend whatever monies are in a reserve account for other reasons, other than that for which they have been put aside in the first place, which could have - I am not saying it will but it could possibly have - some kind of an impact on the harbour clean-up.



So with those few words of caution, I would certainly hope there will be a report and recommendation to the Private and Local Bills Committee on what the Department of Municipal Affairs considers the appropriateness or lack thereof of that particular bill. Thank you, Mr. Speaker. When I say that I certainly just want to indicate that at this stage I am not trying to hold up the bill and I will be voting for it to go forward but I think there are a number of questions that need to be answered.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings North.



MR. GEORGE ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, with amalgamation being forced upon this region of Nova Scotia, it seems most peculiar that at this late date the City of Dartmouth is going to withdraw $1 million from the Halifax Harbour Clean Up Fund and spend it on functions other than what it was raised for in the beginning. It also indicates that this will be done without the permission of the minister. Apparently previously the minister would have had to approve any withdrawal of funds. It is peculiar that as a Private Member's Bill we would be doing something that the minister may or may not approve of. It is also most peculiar that these funds are going to spent for other than Halifax Harbour clean-up.



When we were government, Mr. Speaker, the federal government indicated that if we didn't want to go ahead with harbour clean-up, part of the $200 million that the federal government had earmarked for Halifax Harbour clean-up could be used for other infrastructure programs throughout Nova Scotia. But at that time all governments were indicating an interest in harbour clean-up.



I am wondering if this minister could indicate that the Government of Nova Scotia has now decided that the clean-up of Halifax Harbour is not a priority item with the government? The Minister of Community Services is certainly spearheading that. Is this a kind of trial balloon to see how the government gets along taking out $1 million and if there isn't any particular robust objection to it then the government will say well, let's whip the rest of it out and get on with some other business? So this may be greater than just a decision of a private member, this may be a decision that will have an effect on all Ministers in Cabinet and the government and truly all members of the Regional Municipality of Halifax.



They just held an election last week, perhaps the minister is familiar with the goings on of the election. They have elected a new mayor, new councillors who have no effect until April 1st. The City of Dartmouth may be doing something totally contrary to what the new council wishes. Has the minister no regard for the new council and the fact that there was an election last week? I know the minister is a thoughtful and kind person and I think he probably represents the district over in Dartmouth very well. But is this really the way this government wants to go? They seem to be flying in the face of: number one, harbour clean-up is no longer a priority with the government; number two, the minister wouldn't give permission so the Legislature is going to do it through a Private Member's Bill; and number three, they have total disregard for the election that took place a couple of weeks ago when they elected a new mayor and council for the region and perhaps they should be consulted. Thank you.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Community Services to conclude the debate.



HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, thank you for the opportunity to add just a few comments prior to moving Bill No. 56 to the Committee on Private and Local Bills. A similar bill was here before the House last year and had received favourable approval, so this is not a new initiative in that regard.



I am bringing this bill forward not as the Minister of Community Services, but as an MLA in the City of Dartmouth. I am acceding to the request of the solicitor for Dartmouth City Council.



I would point out to the honourable member just one or two brief points. Commissioner Hayward will have jurisdiction over matters relative to the taking over of the new council. These are not isolated instances. The Minister of Municipal Affairs has sent a letter to the Clerk of the House that is on file that has okayed this particular venture, but if it is to be realized this amendment is necessary. With those few comments, I move passage of this amendment to the Committee on Private and Local Bills.



MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for second reading of Bill No. 56.



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



The motion is carried.



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



The honourable Government House Leader.



HON. RICHARD MANN: Mr. Speaker, 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.



[1:36 p.m. The House resolved itself into a CWH on Bills with Acting Deputy Speaker Mr. Robert Carruthers in the Chair.]



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



MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The winner of the Adjournment debate is the honourable member for Halifax Atlantic. I have already read his motion out earlier:



["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."]



ADJOURNMENT



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, I am pleased to have the opportunity once again to initiate the debate at this point on the UI cutbacks. The resolution reads: "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, these cuts come on the heels of a reduction over the past year of 22 per cent in unemployment insurance benefits to the Province of Nova Scotia. There are currently 1.5 million unemployed Canadians; 1.5 million Canadians who cannot find work in this country. In Nova Scotia, this summer we had 53,000 people looking for work and less than one-half of that, 26,000, were drawing unemployment insurance.



UI payments this year will be $652 million, Mr. Speaker, that compares with 1992 where we were experiencing a similar unemployment rate level of 13.2 per cent, the payments in that year were $841 million. So you can see that there has been a reduction of almost $200 million over the past three years.



Mr. Speaker, the changes that have been made by federal Minister Axworthy and his government, the proposals double the qualifying time to an average of 35 hours a week and also they reduce benefits as a per cent of earnings for claimants with a prior claim. That will affect the following groups: it will affect part-time workers, particularly women; the 42,000 claimants in 1993 who got less than 21 weeks of work and we know with the way that our economy is changing in this province, the lack of fish, the difficulty in the woods, and so on, and with our seasonal employers that 21 weeks of work is difficult to obtain; 50,000 claimants will be affected, those people who have had a prior claim in the previous five years.



Also, Mr. Speaker, Axworthy's proposals would completely disqualify tens of thousands and slash benefit payments to those who qualify to as low as 40 per cent of their earnings because of penalties on part-timers and seasonal layoffs. More than one-half of Nova Scotia's claimants would qualify for a benefit rate between 40 per cent and 50 per cent of earnings.



This will have a devastating impact not only on those people but also on our economy here in Nova Scotia, as well as in all of Atlantic Canada. The problem in this province is the problem across the country, is unemployment, it is the fact that there aren't enough jobs. Mr. Speaker, you and I and all members of this House have seen when jobs have been available, whether it be through the casinos in Halifax and Sydney, whether it be through Winter Works Programs in Sydney or in other parts of this province, the line-ups, the hundreds of people who have lined up, the thousands of people who have made application for the jobs that are available in this province.



We have seen over the past year an example where at a General Motors facility in southern Ontario, there were 5,000 people who were lining up, Mr. Speaker, for a mere 200 jobs, I believe it was at that particular time. Not mere to those people, extremely precious opportunities. But the point is that people are willing to work. People want to work in this country, in this province. Unfortunately, for reasons beyond their control, the opportunity is too seldom available.



So instead of bringing in programs in order to bring forward initiatives that create jobs, Mr. Speaker, the federal government, together with this province, is passing on changes to our national programs which are affecting those people who, through no fault of their own, are unable to find work.



Let's not forget that the money that has supposedly been allocated for training programs is less money than what has been available in the past. Let's again recall the fact that in 1993, $700 million was slashed from UI benefits that were paid to Atlantic Canada. Mr. Speaker, $700 million to a region that is reeling from the effects of the economy and the changes in this economy and decisions that are being made by this government and by their cousins in Ottawa.



What do we hear from the Premier and his colleagues, Mr. Speaker? Well, they tell us, in fact, that it could have been worse. They tell us that they have done something, along with the federal Liberals, in this region to supposedly do something about the problems. They have received a successful hearing with the federal minister that we have unique problems here; we have a unique system here in Atlantic Canada in terms of our economy and we should not be dealt with as harshly as the rest of the country.





You are darn right we have a different situation here in Atlantic Canada, Mr. Speaker. As a result of the downturn in the resource sector, we are suffering big time. In many of the coastal communities, from one end of this province to the other, people are just trying to hang on by their fingernails because of the lack of resources that are being brought into those communities, whether it be through the fishery, in forestry or in other areas. There have been advances in terms of tourism, in terms of other businesses of that nature, but, unfortunately, it has been in most cases very much of a seasonal nature which, again, the employees in that sector will be further penalized as a result of these changes.



You and I have seen examples. We know of examples of workers in this province who are desperately trying to piece together one, two, three, four jobs over the course of a year, Mr. Speaker, people who through no fault of their own are suffering periods of one, two, three, four months maybe, where they are unable to be employed. The unemployment insurance program has been designed to try to help those people, to be able to provide a buffer for them between employment and welfare. Unfortunately, this government has seen fit to penalize those people because of their failure to bring forward programs that will ensure that, in fact, there are jobs available.



Mr. Speaker, the Premier and his ministers talk about the built-in disincentives in the UI program. I tell you, the biggest disincentive in this province is the fact that there is no work, the fact that we have been unable to provide the 63,000 jobs that were promised to Nova Scotians back in the spring of 1993 with some considerable fanfare. What is this government doing to try to stop these changes? Well, from what we can see and from what the public in Nova Scotia can see, this government is doing absolutely nothing.



I think that the least that this government can do is to ensure that the federal government, with the cooperation of this government, will hold public hearings in the Province of Nova Scotia, from one corner of this province to the other, to ensure that people who are most affected by this decision, small business people in communities who will suffer a reduction in income as a result of unemployment insurance cutbacks, that those people can come to this government and to the federal government and make their representations of the devastation that will be wreaked upon them and upon their communities if these changes are allowed to continue. We see the Province of New Brunswick and the ministers of that government that are working with labour, working with business in order to try to slow down if not stop these changes in UI. We are calling on this government to stand up on behalf of Nova Scotians in order to do the same. Let's work together and fight against these devastating changes by the federal government. Thank you.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Education.



HON. JOHN MACEACHERN: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased today to stand and respond to the honourable member for Halifax Atlantic in terms of unemployment insurance. If I might, he made a comment about us and our federal cousins, I will use that for a moment. I have just returned from a meeting in which all of the provinces and territories were represented but Quebec and I just mention the cousins, included were the honourable member's cousins from Saskatchewan and from British Columbia. His cousin from Ontario would have been there but he had been interrupted some time ago by being displaced from office.



The discussions among the provinces to work together to find a way of redefining how programs are developed and land in the provinces has been an exerted effort that started some time ago. I had been working both in Atlantic Canada for about a year now, he mentioned with great credit and fanfare, the Province of New Brunswick. In fact, the Province of Nova Scotia was chosen by the four Atlantic ministers as the lead province to confront the CHST changes. In fact, we have worked now for about a year and three months on a response.



What we brought to the attention of Mr. Axworthy and the federal government and we have spoken to the ACOA minister, we have spoken to the Minister of Finance, about the differences in Atlantic Canada, the demographics in Atlantic Canada relative to seasonal work, relative to the salaries that seasonal workers make and there is a significant difference.



One of the first things we did was an analysis of the impact of the previous reductions to unemployment insurance. For those members who don't remember, the reductions that occurred with the last reductions to UI changed the qualifying time, they changed the amount of time that you would receive it and the changed the benefits, they changed those three things. Just to give you an example of the numbers and we modeled it, if they had reduced UI in that way by 10 per cent, the impact on Atlantic Canada would have been a 24 per cent reduction in revenues. In Ontario, the reductions would have been 2 per cent, so there was a disproportionate landing in terms of decreased revenues and therefore decreased opportunities in Atlantic Canada because of the changes.



The honourable member kind of made some fun of the fact that it could have been worse. I want to suggest to him that it could have been a lot worse. Across the country . . .



MR. CHISHOLM: Sure it could, anything is possible.



MR. MACEACHERN: That's right, anything is possible, that is quite a statement. But if you consider for a moment and by the way the address that is being made relative to the federal government to the provinces is being made in unanimity of all provinces, including his cousins in British Columbia and Saskatchewan.



MR. CHISHOLM: We are not talking about B.C., we are talking about Nova Scotia . . .



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Education has the floor and he can speak about what he wishes.



MR. MACEACHERN: It is a curious thing about listening, Mr. Speaker. We sat here and we listened to the honourable member in his resolution expressing his concerns. Now he seems driven to interrupt and won't listen. I am puzzled by that because I thought this was a debate about things that concerned him. I was going to inform him that the appointed person from British Columbia and from Saskatchewan spoke about the need of all provinces in the country working together and finding common ground. We worked at that now for about two months at the request of the Premiers and we are coming very close to a common ground to address the federal government. Part of that is recognizing what, in fact, is the role and responsibility and there is an acknowledgement and the honourable member doesn't seem to want to acknowledge it, including the Saskatchewan minister who said very clearly that the federal government must get its house in order.



The honourable member would like two things, yes, get your house in order but give us more. It is a contradiction. He wants more things done but somehow he wants it done with less money. I mean there is a curious nature.





[6:15 p.m.]



I can inform him, and I think he should be pleased with this, that both the minister from Saskatchewan and the minister from British Columbia recognize, and, by the way, Saskatchewan is very much like us, in terms of our economy, that they recognize yes, they must address needs. But we want a say.



So basically we want to sit down with the federal government as partners, and that is the request we are going to make, so that we would be part of what happens. We don't want things happening in Ottawa and landing on us in ways that don't pay attention to the very significant impact they have on us. I can tell you, Mr. Speaker, and through you to all members of the House, including the member for Halifax Atlantic, that in fact all provincial governments across Canada - and Quebec, for reasons that all members know, are sitting out -although they did have an observer at the meeting yesterday which took all day, by the way, and it was done with much consideration for all regions of the province, I can inform the honourable member that all provinces recognize there are needy provinces, they recognize that. They recognize that as citizens of Canada we deserve to be treated fairly.



The changes that were made fix it so that the maximum deduction of revenues to a province is no more than 7 per cent but the minimum is 6 per cent. So it was kept within a range, recognizing, and I think the ministers of Atlantic Canada can take some credit for the fact that that has been acknowledged by the federal government that they land differently.



What we need to do, and we have to work together and I want to suggest to the honourable member that it is something that the House has to get its mind around, we have to work together to make sure that as there is a decrease in revenues to the UI system, we have to increase the revenues, because of job creation and the other funds that are provided to counter-balance that.



It is going to start on July 1st, that is the reductions, so we have to be prepared and prepare ourselves across the next six months to get ready to respond to that. That is what we are doing, very positively. There are two funds that they are dealing with; there is an Atlantic Canada Fund which is of the order of $200 million, plus there is that other $200 million, $400 million, $800 million fund for both job creation and job training.



MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: How is it being reduced if there is a surplus in the fund?



MR. MACEACHERN: Well, I would suggest to you the opposite side of it. I am going to quote, by the way. This is an agreement, including of your cousins, if I might. It is clear that the current system is not providing an effective or efficient basis for income support for the individuals. Further, I could table the page for you, it basically belongs to the committee. They have not approved it all but this particular page you are welcome to. It is Page 16 of the report we were discussing yesterday. (Interruptions) Well, if I could, the reason for that is we had to come to agreement. Yesterday we came to approximately an agreement. Now it is going to be finalized and sent back to us by next week. This thing gets given to the Premiers and they are going to discuss it. That is all the Premiers, including, as you describe them, your provincial cousins in other parts of it. It is not being done secretively, it is being done constructively. So that, in fact, we can address the federal government as provincial partners relative to it. No longer can we allow changes.





I will give you, an example, in health care, which is a relatively obvious one, I think. It is a provincial jurisdiction so we have to find ways, as provinces, to get a national agenda. That is what we are working towards, finding a way so our Premiers can sit down, form a national agenda and then deal with the federal government as 10 provinces and 2 territories. Previously what happened is that oftentimes one province deals with the federal government and another province with the federal government. So what is required is a national approach to this.



I want to suggest to you and through you, Mr. Speaker, I want to inform all members of the House that the other provinces recognize, first of all, the demographics of Atlantic Canada; secondly, they want to be partners in helping Atlantic Canada. Now I give you that and I feel very good about that. But it requires us to work together and work towards becoming more independent, which is what Atlantic Canada's target is, what Nova Scotia's target is, and it is going to require us all to work together to move towards a more sustainable economy and, if I might suggest, more independence for Nova Scotia and for Atlantic Canada. They want to work with us on this and we, in Atlantic Canada, want to be able to do that. I can report to all members that these meetings are going to continue, it is my understanding, in a very short term. The Premiers are going to meet and then they are going to meet with the Prime Minister to address provinces to the federal government to start working very aggressively at these as a nation. I feel very good about that. Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants West.



MR. RONALD RUSSELL: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I have listened to the member to the left and the member across the aisle and they have been talking about the unemployment insurance system in Canada. I have always been amazed, really, that we have in this country a system called unemployment insurance which doesn't bear any relationship whatsoever to unemployment insurance. To me unemployment insurance should be a system which provides income when a person loses their job, it should be related to the salary that they made, it should be related to the amount of the premium that they paid and it should have some relationship to the period of time that they have been employed.



That is not to say, Mr. Speaker, that the benefits that presently flow from UI into provinces such as Nova Scotia, which unfortunately suffers from large unemployment, should not be provided to those unfortunate persons who are unemployed. I don't think the unemployment insurance arm of government should be the one that does so.



Mr. Speaker, it wasn't too many years ago that the unemployment insurance offices used to be employment centres, that was back in the 1950's and early 1960's. Then they changed it to UI offices and now they are changing it back to employment offices.



Mr. Speaker, I think that everybody in this country should be entitled to certain basic rights and needs and one of them is certainly, I think, the right to have sufficient bread on the table to feed the family that breadwinner is responsible for. So, what I would suggest is that the amount of money that is going into UI and we are told that it is something in the order of $1.25 billion in excess at the present time, going in as premiums, to what is being taken out in benefits, if that money was in some way channelled into a support program in conjunction with Revenue Canada to provide an income supplement to those who are the working poor or to those who are unemployed, I would suggest that we would not only have a fairer system but I think we would probably have a system that would be much easier to administer than the present one and I think that it would be a much fairer system than the present one.



There are a lot of people, Mr. Speaker, in this country who make their living out of unemployment. They are the people who obviously occupy the UIC offices. There are the hundreds and thousands of those who administer the welfare programs across this country and there are the thousands and thousands of people who are employed in agencies tending to the needs and the stress and the strains of those who suffer from just a lack of money and financial worries.



Mr. Speaker, I am not a socialist, at least I don't I think I am a socialist, but it has always struck me that there is something wrong if we can't have a sufficient spread of wealth in this country, which is incredibly rich, that we can't have a sufficient spread of capital to at least provide for everyone to have a certain basic standard of living. I am not talking about living in the lap of luxury by any means, but I am saying, for instance, that a single person should be entitled to have sufficient money to pay rent and to provide food for a single person. A married family with two children, you would have another standard. Whatever the income was, there would be a supplement to reach that minimum financial requirement to maintain that family unit.



The matter of income tax, Mr. Speaker, I think is very geared to the unemployment and unemployment insurance and the maintenance of welfare and what have you. We also have in this country an incredibly complex tax system and because we have such an incredibly complex tax system, it is very, very difficult to prepare your own tax return these days.



Now what I am suggesting, Mr. Speaker, is that at the same time as we go into and income guarantee for all persons in Canada, that at the same time we streamline the tax system so that we do, indeed, make more money available to be spread across that existing base of people that we have who are, unfortunately, living below the poverty line.



I don't think, Mr. Speaker, at the present time, we can say no matter what government comes into power in Nova Scotia that we can provide full employment for all the people in this province; I think anybody who says that is talking through their hat. I think you might be able, in very positive times, to get unemployment down to maybe 4 per cent, 5 per cent, and I think we can live with that kind of employment.



AN HON. MEMBER: . . . with good training programs.



MR. RUSSELL: Exactly. As the member for Halifax Atlantic just said, with good training programs, you can probably get down to that level.



Mr. Speaker, if you look at the numbers of people who are employed in Canada and you look at the level of education, you find some very striking differences. Those who have a university education, it doesn't matter whether they have a BA or have a degree in nuclear physics, the level of unemployment for those with a university eduction, I believe is something in the order of 4.1 per cent. With a Grade 13 Ontario, or Grade 12 as it is in Nova Scotia, level of education, it goes up to around something like 6 per cent or 7 per cent, somewhere in that area.





You get down though, Mr. Speaker, to where people have Grade 6 to Grade 8 education and you find that the unemployment level across this country is not only double digits, it is in the 20's. So I think it is very evident that the standard of education has a direct linkage to the level of unemployment.



The Minister of Education has a bill going through the House at the present time for community colleges. When we were speaking about community colleges and the training of people, the minister was talking about the unemployment insurance centres picking up a certain number of seats, buying them from the province, to train people. I think that is fine, Mr. Speaker, but I don't think that a person should have to be unemployed to take training. In fact, I think that people in the future are going to have to train for their whole lives.



I have a son who started off at military college and he graduated as a chemical engineer. He went out into the work place as a chemical engineer and he found that it was fine, but there weren't all that many prospects for chemical engineers these days so he went on and took a degree in business. He didn't particularly like that so then he went to Dalhousie Medical School and became a physician and now I think he is happy, finally, but that is the kind of training that people are taking these days.



Just as a for-instance, Mr. Speaker, a lawyer these days who doesn't have a speciality within that particular profession is having a hard time finding a job, but if a lawyer is also an accountant and a tax expert, they are much better equipped in today's job market to make a living.



So what I am saying, Mr. Speaker, is I think we should reform our income tax; we should reform our training programs; we should do away with unemployment insurance as it stands and have a straight insurance scheme, and we should have a guaranteed annual supplement.



MR. SPEAKER: There are 20 seconds remaining. I will rule that the time allotted for the Adjournment debate has expired. The House can now revert to the Committee of the Whole House on Bills.



[6:30 p.m. The House resolved itself into a CWH on Bills with Acting Deputy Speaker Mr. Alan Mitchell in the Chair.]



[7:59 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, would you please revert to the order of business, Presenting Reports of Committees.



PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.



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



Bill No. 48 - Provincial Berry Act.



and the committee recommends this bill to the favourable consideration of the House, without amendment.



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



The honourable Minister of the Environment.



HON. WAYNE ADAMS: Mr. Speaker, yesterday during Question Period, the honourable member for Halifax Citadel ask that I table if I could find within my department a list of beverage containers that would be applicable under the solid waste management program. I am pleased tonight to table for the benefit of the honourable member and for the House a draft list of the container products compiled by government and industry together. I want to tell people that (Interruption) Yes, it is, it is a draft because December 15th is not until tomorrow when we finish hearing the final round of consultation.



Mr. Speaker, the list contains such things as 7-Up containers and A&W Root Beer. The member mentioned a list of containers which I said sounded familiar but some of them aren't quite familiar, there is the Mango Fantasy, there is Pink Lemonade and Flower Watermelon, as well as Canada Dry Ginger Ale. Some unfamiliar names like Sparkling (Interruption) Yes, there is Blueberry juice, there even some Funky Chocolate. Sparkling Orange Passion, there is quite a number here, Mr. Speaker, Little Squirt Lemonlime and Passion Pink.



MR. SPEAKER: The draft list is tabled.



The honourable Government House Leader.



HON. RICHARD MANN: Mr. Speaker, we will sit tomorrow from the hours of 8:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. We will be doing public bills in Committee of the Whole House on Bills.



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



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



The motion is carried.



[The House rose at 8:02 p.m.]